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Is Google Killing off Paid Search Keyword Data?

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

There have been many articles thrown around about Google’s recent announcement they are removing keyword referral data for paid search traffic in Google Analytics. Some of these reports may be misleading. Some individuals may be led to believe that all data is lost and may probably start reacting to the news like this gentleman below:

We just want to say upfront that the news isn’t ALL negative and certainly not as bad as losing all keyword data. This update is our way of helping clear the air and clarify any misunderstandings about the recent announcement. (Don’t worry; paid search keyword data is not dead!)

This current announcement could be labelled a sequel or a continuation to the Google agenda of providing more secure search that officially started in 2011.

Following an official statement on the 4th October 2013 by Google around the withholding of referrer data for organic traffic, Google has announced on Wednesday the 9th April 2014 that it will commence the removal of search query data from the referrer on ad clicks originating from SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) searches on Google.com.

Google will do this by removing the search query section of the parameter (The parameter that Google Analytics relies on to provide keyword data within their interface).

The below is how it looks like on the URL string. This is a Google UK example of an AdWords URL string with the search query parameter:

http://www.google.co.uk/aclk?sa=l&ai=CS7RvDIhMU5Jzy-DxBf_PgJAE3KnZhwHqj5-Xbsr7oAcIABADKANQ2bfzgwVgu76ug9AKoAGL2Y3_A8gBAakCe6CNS3kOvD6qBCFP0HrHqK41WU8rVaQICjSub0z_
tfmr_JkGpu3OZ9iSwwCAB92mcpAHAw&sig=AOD64_1hGlIkIPJeyBgM6kHSHnkaGs_GDg&rct=j&q=
london+hotel+deals&ved=0CDwQ0Qw&adurl=http://www.hoteldirect.co.uk/london

When the referrer data is removed, the URL will end up looking like:

http://www.google.co.uk/aclk?sa=l&ai=CS7RvDIhMU5Jzy-DxBf_PgJAE3KnZhwHqj5-Xbsr7oAcIABADKANQ2bfzgwVgu76ug9AKoAGL2Y3_A8gBAakCe6CNS3kOvD6qBCFP0HrHqK41WU8rVaQICjSub0z_
tfmr_JkGpu3OZ9iSwwCAB92mcpAHAw&sig=AOD64_1hGlIkIPJeyBgM6kHSHnkaGs_
GDg&rct=j&q=&ved=0CDwQ0Qw&adurl=http://www.hoteldirect.co.uk/london

You may be asking yourself: That sounds interesting and all, but why is this important to me as an Advertiser on Google AdWords?

There is one major impact that you as a user of Google Analytics (GA) will start noticing and that is paid search keyword data will soon be hidden from any software that relies on the referrer string to display paid search keywords. This unfortunately includes the popular GA software.

For Google Analytics, you will start to notice when you go to Keywords > Paid, the (not provided) (or some other term) will start to pop up and prevent users from seeing the actual paid search query used by visitors to reach your site.

This will come to the dismay of users who regularly use GA to report on paid search performance as it will restrict the ability to gather data on particular insights. Some of the key insights we have identified that will be no longer available from within Google Analytics include:

  • The ability to quickly toggle the conversion type to report on different types of conversions (can’t be done in AdWords interface but can be done in GA)
  • The ability to report on the Behaviour metrics at the keyword level e.g. Bounce Rate, Pages/Visit and Average Visit Duration.
  • The ability to track the landing pages for each search query (AdWords does not readily show you the destination URL for all search queries, this can easily be done in GA)

Alternative Methods of Retrieving Paid Search Keyword Data

So we did mention that not all is lost and we can still view keyword data, albeit in a different format.

All third party services using AdWords through an API such as Marin, Kenshoo, and Raven Tools should be able to access keyword data, as they do not rely on the referrer strings. (Please contact relevant third parties for further details) so if you are using any third party software platform with an AdWords API, you are safe.

Users can also access detailed paid search referrer data in the AdWords search terms report by toggling the Details tab as shown below:

Next Steps

Given this will affect the reporting routine of marketing teams and consultants, we recommend disseminating this information as quickly as possible. To avoid any panic and confusion, put together a statement on this news and educate all relevant stakeholders (you could include a link to this blog post as well if it helps…).

For marketing managers, this may include your team, any senior management and other departments. For agency professionals, we recommend getting in touch with relevant stakeholders from each of your clients that are running AdWords.

Need Help with Paid Search Management?

WCR can take away the headache of managing all of your company’s paid advertising campaigns. Our well researched keyword analysis and our highly disciplined tracking and measurement process allows us to ensure that you do not overspend your budget and receive a positive return on your investment (ROI). Please call us on 9361 9534 for more information on how we can help you.

By Cheech Foo

Posted in Google Adwords, Google Analytics, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engines, SERPs |

Recipe to Social Media Success – What Every Business Should Do

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Whether you want to embrace it or not, social media is an essential ingredient for businesses. Most owners are fast cluing onto the social media boom and using platforms like Facebook and Twitter to gain marketplace intelligence and develop a following of loyal fans.

According to a recent survey done by social media examiner, marketers place a very high value on social media with a significant 86% indicating it’s a critical part of their business. So it’s safe to say a lot of business owners are reaping in the benefits of social media marketing.

That doesn’t mean however, we can just race into social media success without developing a winning strategy. Good things take time, patience and a well thought out recipe. So what special ingredients should your business be using to cook up the perfect social media storm?

Have a Plan – Research First

To find a great recipe, you need to do a little research first. It’s all about knowing what works and what doesn’t, and trial and error – if you’re unsure of where to start do some competitor investigation.

What are other people doing in the kitchen? Socially, what are the businesses similar to your doing on their social media profiles? To find out, check out their websites, read their blogs and gauge what platforms they use and how they’re interacting with their audiences.

Once you have a good range of social media profiles in your industry, monitor their pages over the next month. Do they post links, videos or photos? What type of content is drawing in the attention, getting the most shares, likes and comments? How much detail is there about their company profile, brand, products or services? What sort of people are they connected with? This is a great starting point to see what other businesses are doing and how the industry responds.

Set Goals – Know What You’re Cooking

If you’re after something specific, you need to set goals to determine what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do this. There’s no use throwing yourself into the kitchen without a clear idea on what you want to make, how many people you’re cooking for and what you need to get it happening.

Social media is no different (well, not much anyway). You need specific social media marketing goals – are you trying to drive traffic to your website, and if so by how much? Without a clear online marketing strategy and set goals, it’s near impossible to have a good structure for social media success so prioritise your efforts, time, money and energy from the beginning.

Put Some Love into Your Content

Have you ever asked your grandma when you were young what the “secret ingredient” is for those amazing cookies she always bakes? No doubt she has told you that it’s simply love. But how can you put a spoonful of love into your cooking!?

Easy – all it takes is a little extra thought, feeling and engagement. One thing that will help you boost fans, shares and likes on any social media platform is great content. Something that will interest your readers, something relevant, exciting and fresh – something with a bit more love in it that your average post.

It’s important that your content is not always related to you, your business or making a sale. What are your readers interested in seeing? You want to provide regular content that is educational, entertaining and that will make your fans feel your pitching it entirely to them.  To do this effectively, you need to devise a great content plan with a schedule. This enables you to be aware of what you’re going to post and when, and give you a valid guide to follow to ensure consistency.

Listen, Engage, Involve

If you start cooking a great dish in the kitchen, what happens when you just leave it unattended for too long? It gets burnt, or ruined. This is the same with social media marketing. There is no use posting great content if you’re just going to do that – post it. More importantly than anything in this mix, is to connect with your audience.

Social media isn’t just about talking ‘at’ people, but also ‘to’ people. Listen to what they want, what they need – get to know them and care. If you’re constantly spamming and pitching your business to everyone, no one will notice you (well, not in a positive light anyway).

Understand how to connect with people and spend the time doing so. It can be a noisy world online, the best way to get noticed is to reach out and meet your audience’s needs and wants.

Measurement and Reflection

No good recipe was ever created without exact quantities, so ensuring you have your measuring cups handy is essential. And, after the hard work of cooking is finally completed, there is nothing better than sitting back to enjoy the meal. This is when we take the time to measure the outcome and evaluate. Does it taste good? Maybe it’s a little salty and there are a couple of glitches in the mix. What can you improve on or change for next time?

Social media marketing measurement can be frustrating, and even more time consuming than the actual process. But, it’s vital your efforts are measured so you know (and can prove!) whether it was worthwhile or not.

Time for Dessert

Social media platforms are being used every day by marketers and business owners to help grow their business, so if you haven’t jumped on board with it yet – now’s a good time to start. Take a close look at the commitment, energy, time, benefits and platforms that others are using and how you can implement them into your own strategy.

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Posted in Blogging, Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engines, Social Media |

Boosting Your Business with LinkedIn – The Hype and How to Leverage It

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

With social media booming faster than ever, businesses are taking a long hard look at their company profiles and online marketing strategies to double (and triple) check they’re being maximised. Not all of us however, want to jump on the Facebook and Twitter bandwagon – whilst they are the most popular social media platforms, some business owners don’t feel it’s the professional networking tool they’re after.

Specific business networking sites like LinkedIn and Google+ have provided a perfect opportunity to help professionals grow their careers, with LinkedIn being the world’s largest networking site for business owners. With over 238 million users worldwide, it has become the perfect platform for people to find career opportunities and connect with influencers or those in similar industries.

As it’s such a well-established online destination, it makes sense to create a LinkedIn profile page that acts as more than just an ordinary resume. Regardless of what industry you’re in, it’s only going to get more competitive so differentiating yourself from the rest and increasing your findability has never been so crucial.  Here are 7 hot tips to get you started.

1. A Comprehensive Profile

Complete a remarkable and comprehensive profile. The more information you can provide about the important details of your business, what it’s all about and how you can help clients – the better. Instead of a traditional resume format, write in a narrative form to make the content compelling and attractive for people to want to read the full profile. The idea is to make it as quick and easy as possible for potential customers to know you – right up front – and how they can get in contact.

2. Get Your Branding Perfect

The first thing LinkedIn visitors see is your cover image, so make it consistent with your branding. People should be able to easily recognise you and you company page by this banner.

LinkedIn profiles give you the option to include a standard company logo at the top of the page, and a square logo that will appear on all your updates. Consider what you use for these carefully and make sure they are of high quality and fit properly. Encourage people further by linking to your company website or any personal profiles and blogs you may have.

If this is done properly, the links you include will be attached to chosen keyword phases – thus, enhancing your SEO within LinkedIn and throughout the web.

3. Build a Wide Network, and Personally Welcome Them

LinkedIn is all about networking, connecting with people and sharing insightful and valuable information. Remember though, quality over quantity – it’s not about how many people you have in your connections, it’s about the value and how you’re utilising them.

Each new connection you make provides the opportunity to enhance your visibility but even so, it’s important you review each invitation request received. Does the person have a completed and detailed profile? Does it provide a picture and adequate information about their business or industry they’re in? Most of all, is there are relevant reason why it would make sense to connect with them?

4. Add Dynamics to Your Content

Make your profile come alive by adding a video to enhance your content. There are two applications for adding a video to your LinkedIn profile, the Google Presentations app and the SlideShare app – both enable you to showcase your work or greet your visitors. This will help people stay longer on your profile and feel like they can connect with you better.

5. Tag Your Skills and Expertise

Up to 50 skills can be added to your profile so now is a great time to start selling yourself. Whilst listing these skills don’t make a huge difference for the LinkedIn search results, its additional information that is useful for people reading your profile.

Consider what you’re good at and how your specific skills can benefit potential customers and networking opportunities. Once you have noted your skills and expertise, you can then encourage people to endorse you.  This will then give them a sense of credibility – learn how to manage your skills and endorsements for full effectiveness.

6. Get Endorsements and Recommendations

After your skills and expertise have been defined, it’s vital to gain as many endorsements and recommendations from colleagues, partners and contacts as possible. These are your customer testimonials on LinkedIn so don’t be afraid to ask clients to write a recommendation or endorse your company for its skills. Make sure you help others out by endorsing them too – this will make it much easier to approach them for one back.

Avoid sending mass messages out asking for endorsements or recommendations. If you want people to take the time to honestly comment on your skills or company, take the time to personalise your request.

7. Optimise Your Profile for Search and Ranking

Every day, millions of people are searching on LinkedIn so if you want your hard work of creating and maintaining you profile to get noticed; you need to craft your content for search.

Consider your ‘profile language’ and be sure to include relevant keywords to your industry. This way, you significantly improve your chances of being found. As you do with your website, think about what keywords people will search to find your brand, product and services and then incorporate them into your heading and profile content.

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Posted in Content Marketing, Personal Branding, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engines, Social Media, Website Marketing |

How to improve your website in 1 hour

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Like any good relationship, making things work between you and your website takes time. If you don’t devote any time to your website, how can you expect it to work for you?

White Chalk Road is trying to start a website love revolution. Try devoting just one solid hour per week to do one thing to improve your website, and we promise that over time you will see some incredible benefits. Set a rolling appointment in your calendar for just one hour each week – and really stick to it.

But what should you spend that hour doing we hear you ask? Here we have three really quick, simple and effective ideas that will help you improve your website in one hour:

#1: Write one blog post that will benefit your customers

Your customers aren’t experts in your area, but you are. Every day interested and potential customers are typing all sorts of questions about your industry, products or services into search engines, and you should be the one providing answers to these questions – thus ranking for these topics and being in front of a potential customers’ eyes right at the time they’re interested in your area of expertise.

How do you find out what types of questions your customers are asking or what information they need? There’s a number of ways you can do this:

What questions do customers typically ask you?

Ask your client-facing/customer-facing staff what questions they’re frequently asked by customers. You can use this to create a catch-all FAQ style page for your website to begin with.

In the following weeks you can then use your ‘website improvement hour’ to delve deeper into some more technical or complicated questions and create a separate blog article for each of these to provide customers with a more comprehensive resource.

Use Deeper Web to find out what potential customers are interested in

Google’s relatively recent ‘Hummingbird’ update has put a greater emphasis on ensuring your website is a good source of information on broader themes related to your industry, not just staying specific to your target keywords.

Deeper Web is a really useful tool that will let you quickly explore what types of topics are related to your products or services, as well as questions people have posted online about these topics, recent research published in the area, trending news etc.

See for example below a Deeper Web search for the very broad topic of ‘Car sales Australia’. The owner of a car sales website can find related keywords in the ‘Deeper cloud’ (maybe an article on good fleet cars):

Deeper Web search

Deeper Web word cloud

The ‘Answers Search’ shows top questions asked about the industry (a great blog topic for the taking on ‘what do I need to know about buying a new car’). It could even be worth transparently adding some comment to these forum threads as well as writing a blog on your own website:

Deeper Web answers search

And in the ‘Metrics Search’ and ‘News Search’ you will find fantastic resources, recent statistics and facts about your industry, which you can use to provide depth to your blog articles:

Deeper Web Metrics and News search

Give it a go by typing in some of your own keywords and see what ideas you can come up with.

Use Google Keyword Planner to find out what questions get most traffic

It’s really simple to use the Google Keyword planner, not only to get some topic inspiration, but to find which topics are searched more than others. Just follow these steps:

• In the ‘Search for keyword and ad group ideas’ section you can either input your industry/products/service areas or choose your relevant niche from the ‘product category’ dropdown menu:

Google Keyword Tool blog ideas

• When your results show up click into the ‘Keyword ideas’ tab (not the ‘Ad Group ideas’ tab) and you might see some keywords to spark your imagination straight away.

Keyword tab

• However, the list will likely be too broad, so look to the filters to the left of the screen and click into the ‘Include/Exclude’ box. Type in the 6 golden question starters (who what when where why & how) to really filter down to those Q&A ideas you need:

Keyword tool filter menu

Who what when where why how include exclude

How will you benefit?

• Adding useful and relevant information to your website on a regular basis will not only improve your rankings in search engines, it will also bring in increased traffic and leads to your website
• As we mentioned, by providing informative answers to your clients’ FAQs you will begin to rank for these ‘long-tail’ search queries, meaning you will be in front of their eyes at the exact time they need you
• You can demonstrate your wealth and depth of knowledge in your industry, showing your customers you are a knowledgeable thought leader in your industry
• Providing a free and invaluable resource for your customers will build their trust in you as a ‘value-added’ provider
• If the tips you provide are really useful, this could well result in your customers sharing a link to the resource with their colleagues or friends via their own websites or social media – benefitting your online marketing efforts as well as bringing in additional website traffic and word-of-mouth marketing.

#2: Improve one existing page of content

The content on your website’s static pages (such as your homepage, category pages and service or product pages) can become stale and out-dated pretty quickly – and it’s highly likely the content on your website has been the same since your website was first set up – are we right?

A great way to spend your ‘website improvement hour’ is to take one landing page each week and work to improve the content on the pages. We recommend working through all the pages of your website, but begin with the ones that need it most (i.e. those that are not converting too well or have high bounce rates). Use this great resource to help you identify weak pages of your website. Improvement can include:

Improve spelling, grammar and punctuation

Something as simple as an awkward sentence or an obvious typo can put potential customers off your brand or make them lose interest in what you have to say. You’ve spent a lot of time and money on both your online and offline marketing efforts to get people to your website in the first place, so don’t let something so rudimentary lose that lead.

Spell check in Microsoft Word is notoriously unreliable, so for something a little more intuitive try Hemingway. This is a fantastic resource that lets you paste and edit your content right on their homepage. It will highlight questionable areas of text such as rambling sentences, adverb overuse and overcomplicated language, making it clear what changes you need to make.

Get your message right

Contrary to what some SEO companies will have you believe, you shouldn’t have content on the page just to fill space and squeeze in keywords – your content should have a clear ‘raison d’être’ – and here’s what that is:

Tell customers why they need your product/service (what need it fills in their life) and why your product/service fills this need better than your competitors’ solutions.

It’s that simple. The reasons your product or service is better will include your USPs and the options available to customers.

Visuals visuals visuals

Don’t underestimate the power of the visual. The main drawback of online shopping is the reduced ability to fully experience a product before making a purchase, so give your customers the closest possible experience to ‘bricks-and-mortar’ shopping you can get. Provide product images from all angles and allow high quality zoom so they can see the minute details. If a product comes in more than one colour then show all of these details for each colour.

But what if you provide a service? The same lesson still applies. If you provide a trade service then show your tradespeople in action. If you provide a business service show screenshots of your deliverables or show your staff at work. Help customers to really visualise what they’ll get for their money and how it will improve their lives.

Add testimonials & social proof

Try as we might to be different, people are inherently flock-like. We want to do what other people are doing, and if we’re thinking about straying from our norm then we want to be sure we won’t regret it. Get potential customers over that final hurdle by showing them others have successfully bought your product or service, or even just heard of your brand.

Do this by allowing comments/reviews on product pages, show social shares on articles, show social followers on your homepage, add case studies, real and detailed testimonials – video testimonials if possible. People don’t just want to take your word that your offerings are great; they want to hear it from others too.

How will you benefit?

Because you are adding more useful content to your website and keeping it fresh you will enjoy all of the benefits from tip #1, as well as one more very important one: increased conversions. Whether that’s more online sales or leads from quote requests, contact forms or calls – by improving your content and images and adding social proof you are knocking down all those barriers of doubt that stand in the way of people clicking that all important ‘submit’ button.

#3: Tell your customers what to do & make it easier for them to do it

While you’re spending all of your time writing about how great your company is and why people need your products or services in their life, telling people how to go about actually getting them can sometimes slip through the cracks.

You must decide what is the purpose of your website? What do you want people to do once they’ve read about your company and what you have to offer? Do you want them to buy online? Should they visit your street store or office? Do you want them to request a consultation, contact you via a form or pick up the phone?

Whatever it is, you need to tell them. Each product or service page should have a clear sign-post telling customers what to do next. As well as putting this in writing with a text link to the relevant conversion page (shopping cart, contact form, store locator etc.) you should also add a bright button, making it absolutely clear what the next step is.

Conversion Buttons

How will you benefit?

With this one you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll notice an increase in conversions. It might seem to you that you’re stating the obvious, but giving busy customers a shortcut or quick route to completing their journey on your website will increase the probability of them actually making it there.

by

Posted in Blogging, Conversion Optimisation, Search Engine Optimisation |

Optimising Your Content Calendar to Capture Seasonal Traffic

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Creating content on a regular basis can be a very challenging task. In addition to creating quality targeted, relevant pieces of onsite content, take your strategy further by investing time into creating an optimised content calendars.

Content calendars (aka editorial calendars, content schedules etc.) are used commonly by media verticals such as magazines, newspapers and online publisher sites to coordinate content efforts. However any business can create a content calendar that is optimised according to a set of targeted keywords and the seasonality of a business.

Why is optimising content calendars so important?  An example would be, you may not find too many visitors looking for ‘singlets’ in the middle of winter and the term ‘tax return’ probably won’t be so popular during the Christmas break.

To optimise your content calendar consider the following points: The What, When, Why & How.

The What: Determine your industry topic and associated keywords

I run a hat shop, so I will focus on the hat (specific) and clothing accessories (broad) industry throughout this post as an example. Therefore keywords that are relevant to my business include ‘hats’ and  ‘caps’.

The When: Analyse keywords through search trend intelligence tools

I have decided to analyse the search term word ‘hats’ in Australia for the past two years. The primary tool I use is Google Trends (formerly Google Insights).

The results that you want to pay focus two are the peak in search interests in the graph. As you can see below there appears to be peaks around April as well October, November and January of every year.

The Why: Develop explanations for seasonality

Remember we want to be able to create content topics that are not only relevant and targeted but also timely. So the question you need to ask here is: Why is it peaking?

Start to draw from your personal as well as industry knowledge of the market to determine the causes and origination of these topics in order to make an educated guess.  Think about special occasions, events, deadlines that may trigger the peak in interest. If you can’t come up with anything solid, ask your colleagues to get that brain juice flowing.

Regarding my hat shop, let’s start with the peaks in April. Looking at the surge in April 2012, it appears that date of 8th April 2012 coincides with the Easter break of 2012. To cross-reference my inference, I analysed the search interest around the Easter 2013 break (31st March) and lo and behold, there is also a surge in traffic! With the October-November traffic, I believe that this has a connection with Melbourne Cup and in particular the fascinator hats.

Now with my hat shop (similar to many retail businesses) the origins and causes may be easier to identify, given they are common knowledge.

If your business is say a B2B company such as an accounting firm that focuses on tax returns, you could look at certain deadlines set by ATO that may influence the search trends. For example, the below shows the search trends for ‘tax returns’ peaks post July (most likely due to the start of new financial year), sharply decreases as it approaches October and has another small surge in traffic (one reason could be that they are rushing to meet the deadline for e-tax tax return services) before trailing off.

The How: Brainstorm topics & develop a content calendar

By now, you should have recorded all the peaks and the possible causes of the spike for the targeted terms.

We want to now utilise the intelligence we have to design a content calendar to get the best return of investment not just from an SEO but also from a social media angle as well.

The last step is to put together an editorial calendar (aka content calendar, content schedule, whatever term is being adopted) and start to map out when you should write an article on each topic and also what to write about.

Now that I know my hat business is a boom during Easter, I will schedule in an article to be published on the 1st April 2014, giving the article 4 weeks to capture all the seasonal traffic (Easter day is 29th April).

If you do not already have a content calendar, Crazy Egg has a great post on free calendars you can download. If you like working with Excel then you can easily create one yourself!

I hope this has been helpful and I hope that all your content will ‘make it on time’ for whatever surge in search interest is coming up this year!

By Cheech Foo

Posted in Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engines, Website Marketing |

A Perfectly Optimised Page – How Google Ranks Content

Monday, January 13th, 2014

With Google’s algorithm constant changes last year, from Penguins to Hummingbirds, SEO experts and webmasters spend a lot of time wondering exactly just what animal they will bring out next.

Preparing yourself from an SEO perspective can be tricky. Pages and content need to be optimised to be crawled by robots, yet they must still be engaging to humans. Without a balanced mix of the two, you run the risk of uploading detrimental content.

As a leading search engine in the industry, it’s crucial to keep on Google’s good side and follow the rules – even if they do keep changing. So how do you keep your SEO strategy relevant on a day-to-day basis and ready for what Google may have in store for 2014? Below are a few factors to consider about how online content is ranked, and some tips to help you stay on track.

PageRank – Will It Ever Be Updated?

Google uses PageRank to qualify the importance of each web page by how many links your site has pointing back to it. Essentially, the links work as votes and raise credibility to showcase the content and your site as high-quality. Webpages with a higher PageRank will more likely appear at the top of Google’s search results, making them more trustworthy in both the search engine’s eyes and readers.

Since the middle of last year however, Google hasn’t updated the PageRank meter and there is still no clear idea when, or even if, it will be fixed. Whilst there is still value in the ranking meter, it shouldn’t be relied on or emphasised. Instead, a strong focus on driving traffic to your website should be a higher priority.

Rich Content is a Must

Good content is now about semantically relevant supporting keywords, not multiple mentions. The importance of appropriate and rich content is still a top priority for 2014, with Google using it as one its chief factors to rank a website.  It’s this rich content that makes a site worthy – from the search engine result position, and the humans that are reading and sharing it.

It’s no new trend that good content – content that people actually want to read – improves your chances of ranking better in Google. By creating quality content, there is a higher chance of other people linking back to it from their sites – ultimately this certifies a natural build of inbound links. This is what Google wants.

From an SEO perspective, high-quality content has two attributes – to supply a demand and be linkable. This second point is more common than people realise, so it’s important to make sure that your content isn’t only accessible after logging in and can be shared through social media networks or other through other sites.

For content creators, the key to Google’s algorithm changes lies in its guidelines:

  • Use plain English. Write for real people, not just robots.
  • Worthy content should be clear, concise and informative.
  • Make your content readable by keeping links to natural and to a reasonable number.

Be Keyword Targeted, Naturally

To perfectly optimise keyword targeting, there is normally conflicts around user experience and the natural writing flow, so finding stability can sometimes be tricky.

To be keyword targeted, consider title tags, descriptions, header tags, URL, image alt attributes and internal and external links. As mentioned, keywords shouldn’t have unnatural or multiple mentions so it’s even more crucial to balance these keyword-targeting demands with content that flows.

Be Multi-Device Ready

Mobile marketing is exploding and surfing the net from smart phones and tablets has never been so popular. The diverse range of devices, screen sizes and browsers makes it even more essential to optimise websites and content to suit this growing industry.

Consumers are not just consuming from mobile devices though, they’re also sharing content throughout the biggest social media networks. Being multi-device ready will ensure you’re not missing out on critical opportunities to reach out to a broader and more accepting audience.

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Posted in Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engines, SERPs, Social Media, Website Marketing |

A New Year, a New Content Marketing Strategy

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

As 2014 falls upon us, our New Year resolutions have been written out and many of us are (hopefully!) on track to ticking them off. With this clean slate under our belt, 2014 is the perfect opportunity to not only review your personal goals, but also your professional ones.

With Google’s algorithm updates last year, and no doubt more to come for 2014, business owners are forced to take a closer look at their content marketing strategies. For some, it’s a tangled web of no social media signals and shifty linking performances resulting in penalties and invisible search engine rankings – but it doesn’t’t have to be this complex. We take a look at a few tips to help you build a winning content marketing strategy.

The Basics of Good Content Strategy

Well-constructed and high quality content serves two purposes. It effectively attracts and engages an audience, and it helps to rank your website higher in the eyes of search engines. To create good content both of these points need to be considered – simply writing for one and not the other won’t deliver the full package.

For the New Year, content marketing will hold the same essentials as 2013 but will mature into a marketing strategy that is bigger and better than ever. Good content:

  • Should be mixed between written, visual or auditory.
  • Regular, fresh and informative content should be targeted at a specific audience.
  • Will keep your website evolving and alive.
  • Increases the authority connected to your work.
  • Creates high social signals from regular audience engagement and sharing.

1. Know Who You Are Writing For

Knowing your target audience and keeping them in mind from start to finish is crucial for creating good content. Take advantage of social media channels or forums to help engage with existing and potential clients as effectively as possible.

Normally, ideas for new content are drawn from publications and popular, interesting industry blogs. Whilst this inspiration is always good, it’s important you remember to take a step back and evaluate whether you’re still writing for the intended audience as it can be easy to get lost or heavily influenced by outside sources.

2. Use a Checklist

Consider your idea and ask yourself is it any good? You want something that is easy to understand, fresh and interesting, and provides readers with enough detail.

A good idea is simple, credible, interesting, different and shareable. Good content that is written around these elements will get shared and therefore, boost your own credibility and website rankings.

3. Solve Common Problems and Make Lives Easier

Customers are constantly thinking what’s in it for them so feeding through content that thrives on this concept will go far. Learning to think beyond just your company’s products and services and creating a content strategy that thinks ahead of this will open up a world of opportunities.

Consider the questions your customers and audience may have. How can you solve their problems, make their lives easier and fill communication gaps? Once you have nutted out these basics, delve deeper to effectively address their issues and this will help shape your overall content strategy.

If you’re ever unsure on topic ideas, just ask your audience. Taking quick surveys, utilising social media and getting your customers talking will help gather insights and act as a strong platform to allow you more creativity with your content.

4. Keep Your Audience Engaged

It’s all very well attracting your audience initially but keeping them engaged is even more crucial (and challenging!) Most topics have been done and the ‘top 10 lists’ are popular, so try take a different spin on an existing subject.

Look out for topics or issues that most people are too afraid to address. The strategic way to craft content that engages an audience and keeps them wanting more is to find your own story and write something that is captivating.

5. Create a Timeline

Once you have a strong idea on the goals you want to achieve through content marketing, create a timeline to help you achieve them. This will also help you monitor your strategy, evaluate and make changes where necessary.

Establishing a timeline will also help you to keep track of topics and ensure you are not repeating any and keep you focused. Naturally, it takes time for effective content strategies to take hold so make sure you have at least one or two pieces in the meantime that are driving website traffic and social activity.

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Posted in Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engines, SERPs, Social Media, Website Marketing |

SEO Mobile Marketing Considerations for 2014

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

It’s no secret how much mobile marketing is exploding. With most of us searching for products and services from our mobile or IPad devices, it’s becoming more crucial to tailor our marketing messages and web design to suit the growing industry.

Businesses are quickly catching up to the benefits of a responsive and optimised website  - but there are many that are still struggling to find their footing in a way that uniquely serves their style and brand. As the New Year rolls in, mobile is increasingly becoming the primary point of engagement between brands and consumers so those that aren’t adapting with the advancements, are being left behind.  So where do you begin? We check out a few SEO mobile marketing considerations to implement for 2014.

Adjusting to a Change of Attitude

The convenience of online shopping and mobile searching is becoming significantly popular. Consumer’s attitudes are adapting to the change and during 2014, buyers will inherit a steady shift from physical to online shopping.

The use of mobile and smartphone devices are now more comfortable for customers with nearly 7 billion of us searching for brands, products and services worldwide. With advanced mobile application capabilities, 2014 will see an in-depth tracking of customer behaviors through mobile analytics, serving as an effective guide for future mobile marketing considerations.

Keep it Short and Sweet

Keywords are still a fundamental ingredient for an effective SEO mix, but for the New Year businesses are being encouraged to think outside the box with their keyword research.

Keeping keywords short and simple is essential for mobile marketing. As most of us use our smartphone devices on the run, businesses need to adapt to this fast paced environment and create one that’s easy and convenient.

From desktop sites, users tend to search for longer keywords but in the world of mobile marketing everything is simplified and brief. If consumers can find what they’re after without having to type as much into the search engine then mobile marketing will only be more effective.

Knowing Google’s Language – Stay Away From Flash and Be Careful with Images

Although many web designers love using Flash or Javascript because of the wow-factor look it can create, major search engines like Google cannot read its “language”. And a language that cannot be read gets ignored.

Relying heavily on Flash and Javascript isn’t just SEO suicide though; most mobile devices also struggle to agree with it so even if the web page is picked up through mobile search engines, there’s a good chance the user won’t be able to view it properly.

Like with Flash and Javascript, Google is unable to see images when conducting searches so putting them in a search engine friendly language is also important. Use alt tags on all images, both mobile and desktop sites, to effectively describe to search engines what’s included in the picture.

Optimise Across Multiple Devices

Adapting your site appropriately across all devices, whether it is smartphones or desktop computers is essential. If components cannot be accessed properly off one, then it’s best not to include them.

If you’re shifting your website to mobile, be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking you can simply replicate your current website into something smaller.  Not all the parts are going to work across all devices, so cut out the dynamic elements and strip it back to the essentials so it’s quick and easy for search engines and mobile users.

Content is Still King

Since Google’s recent Hummingbird algorithm update, it a website’s piece of content doesn’t work on a smartphone, it may as well just not exist. Along with the other valuable ranking factors used by Google, a user’s ability to view content across multiple devices is crucial.

As with keywords, content is a much needed royal family member of SEO. Keep it brief so reading it on mobile devices is easier and focus only on what’s relevant to the mobile user. Again, adaptation is key so if you can’t access the content properly from the device – don’t provide it. Take advantage of the benefits provided by mobile devices and implement their tools. For example, automatically prompt the user to call your business’s number when they click on the contact details.

It’s essential to not only optimise a site, but an experience for those that are gadget-savvy and content hungry in a rapidly evolving digital world.

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Posted in Content Marketing, Mobile Search, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engines, Website Marketing |

They Said What!? 5 Shocking Social Media and Online Marketing Advice Your Business Definitely Should Be Ignoring

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

There are a lot of people that claim to be an “expert”, whether it is a social media guru or an online marketing master, the internet (and our minds) are getting swamped with information every day. Sifting fact from fiction can be a struggle at the best of times, so how do you know what advice to take? We take a look at the information out there you should be ignoring, and how you can instead tailor it to work in a more positive light for you and your business.

1. Social Media is the New SEO

Whilst social media is actively growing every day and has elements that correspond with SEO, it doesn’t replace it in terms of strategy and function. Like with most effective online marketing strategies, utilising social media works best when combined with the ingredients of SEO.

How to make it work for you

Align your SEO strategy with your social media activity to effectively build links. Leveraging social media activities can help to gain relevant links through valuable and fresh content marketing. Although social media posts show up in search results, SEO is what drives more people to these. Billions of searches are conducted on a daily basis through major search engines like Google and by replacing SEO with social media; you’ll be missing out on the traffic.

2. Be Active Across All Social Media Networks

Anyone who is successfully managing just one social media channel for their business will appreciate the time and effort that goes into its marketing strategy. Applying that same concept across every single social network will not only be exhausting, but your content and resources will be worn thin. You don’t have to be active on every social media network out there, experiment with them and let go the ones that don’t work for your business.

How to make it work for you

Most of us have limited time and resources so trying to tackle all the marketing channels at once aren’t going to work. Instead, take the time to research and trial what will work for you and once you have picked one (or a couple) maintain an active presence on them and feed your audience with the information they are after. If you’re yet to jump on the social media bandwagon, try Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

3. Share Everything!

When it comes to effective content marketing and social media networks, we’re encouraged to share the love. After all, your presence on social networks isn’t worth much if you’re not utilising those social media buttons. Unfortunately though, some people can go share crazy and make the mistake of distributing everything they read, which may or may not be related to the industry.

How to make it work for you

Sharing content related only to your topic of ‘personal interest’ is only going to confuse your audience.  Consider what your readers are expecting and wanting from you and only share what is relevant to your target audience and industry. Build the shared content up by adding your own thoughts in the comments. This shows your audience you have an opinion and eventually helps to become an authentic source of information in the field.

4. Email is Old Fashioned

No one uses email anymore; we’re all too busy checking our social media messages and comments right? Wrong! Whilst it’s safe to say sending faxes is pretty much out the window, email still has its online marketing presence.

As with social media, email marketing helps to keep your brand in the front of people’s minds. Like with social media and SEO, it’s a tactic that complements your other strategies.

How to make it work for you

Old fashioned email is still far more effective than the newly found benefits of social media, so don’t ditch it just yet. Because email is permission based, it’s effective in reaching out to your audience, an audience that is willing to (and always) listening. Whilst it’s not the best way to drive sales, it’s perfect for customer engagement so be careful not to annoy or spam your email list. Your email signature should also be used as a marketing tool, include your details as well as social media icons to make you email campaigns more powerful.

5. Write Only About Your Products, Services and Brand

A lot of people view content marketing like advertising, spewing out articles that sell their products and services like ads. But, isn’t that what we use promotional materials like brochures for? A brochure sells your brand and shows consumers what your business has to offer – don’t get into the trap of having your content marketing just like a repackaged brochure.

How to make it work for you

Think outside the box. Content should have enough fundamental value to stand alone as something people want to read about. Whilst you can create content that is related to your business, it doesn’t have to be 100% about your business – make the story bigger and get creative.

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Posted in Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engines, Social Media, Website Marketing |

Developing a Forum Marketing Strategy for 2014 and Beyond

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Hang on, isn’t forum marketing blackhat spam?

Many internet savvy business owners and SEOs reading this will quite rightly ask the question and that’s fair enough, we’ve all seen first-hand dodgy forum comments with links to multiple websites in the actual forum message window or signature, however the aim of this piece is to explain the real advantages of developing a forum marketing strategy with the primary focus being on helping potential customers solve their problems in a non-promotional way thereby building up your online authority. Jason Acidre, a well-respected Search Strategist who works for companies all over the world talks about the ROI of forum marketing – well worth a read.

Forget about doing forum marketing for backlinks, this tactic practiced by blackhat SEO companies went out the window years ago. Don’t be like our friend, Brian:

Think ONLY about building your reputation – not link building

Let’s say you’re a local landscaper. You don’t have a big marketing budget but you recognise the need to ‘be visible online’. You can start building up your online reputation as a knowledgeable, helpful and friendly tradesman by taking time out to answer forum questions, offer better solutions and genuinely helping people out. Over time, people will learn to recognise you, value your knowledge, tell their friends about you and hopefully want to seek out your services. Why? Because they develop trust in you. Forum users deliver highly targeted website traffic. They are at various stages of the buying cycle, too – not just in the research phase.

The long term payoff is that you are positioning yourself as the leading authority in the market. This has a cumulative effect, helping establish you as a key industry influencer. You may be surprised how often journalists scour online forums when doing their story research. If you’re in front of their eyes, and they want to talk to a landscaping professional for their next home improvement piece, you may well get a phone call – priceless local exposure!

Let’s look at an example…

Homeone.com.au is an excellent forum which ranks very highly in Google for an incredible amount of home improvement related search terms. It’s a great place to start building up your online reputation.

Check out the forum post below:

http://forum.homeone.com.au/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=68116

At the time of writing this piece, this question about foundation drainage had not been answered.

If I was a landscaper or builder, this is what I would do:

1. Register on homeone.com.au with a username reflecting my business name e.g. expresslandscapes

2. Setup my forum profile to include my real name, website, photo of myself and/or business logo, builder’s licence if applicable, list my experience – anything I can to prove I’m legitimate and have the credentials to know what I’m talking about

3. Setup a forum signature to include a link to my website and social networking profiles such as Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook

Here’s an example of how your forum signature might look:

4. Once we have our profile setup, the next step is to dive straight into that forum post and start answering the question. Giving honest advice on what you need to do for foundation drainage best practice. I would not try to promote myself at all. Remember, I want to be delivering value and building up my reputation. I’m hoping people will want to know more about me and check out either my forum profile or even better, click through to my website via the link in my email signature.

How do I find forum marketing opportunities?

A great way of finding forum posts you can contribute on can be as simple as searching on Google. To keep with our landscaping theme, you could try something like: ‘landscaping forum Australia’:

But I don’t have time for forums

Any business owner is strapped for time and forum participation is much lower on the list of things to get done. However, unless you are so busy with work lined up for the next 12 months, you need to make time for marketing and by dedicating one hour a week to forum marketing, you will start making inroads into building up your influence. You may even be able to delegate these tasks to someone in-house.

Forum marketing is not just for small business

Larger size businesses can implement forum marketing strategies for bringing in more qualified, targeted website traffic In fact, they are often better resourced and may have a dedicated marketing department. These guys can be trained up on the basics and should be able to handle most queries. Sales teams are only an internal phone call away and they’ll be able to help guide the marketers on what to say – but remember to leave the self-promotion at the door.

Moving away from a ‘Google only’ view

Not only does forum marketing deliver highly qualified website traffic, it is adds another string to your inbound marketing bow, and working towards the longer term approach of multiple traffic sources, not just relying on Google. While we can’t argue Google’s dominance worldwide and in particularly here in Australia, we need to be thinking about how else to get people to our site. Forum marketing is just one of many examples of inbound marketing channels of which others include maintaining a regular blog, guest blogging on relevant industry sites, White Papers, Webinars/Webcasts, eBooks, podcasts, presentations and more.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can work to increase your website traffic, why not reach out to the team here at White Chalk Road. We provide a free consultation where we can discuss your market research and online marketing needs.

 

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Posted in Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engines, Website Marketing |

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