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:
When the referrer data is removed, the URL will end up looking like:
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:
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:
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.
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
April 10th, 2014
As a business owner, you want people to be reminded of your brand and services when they need something in your niche. An effective website, one that is so rich in what it offers, compels its visitors to “stick around” and most of all – come back often. A site that has the ability to hook you in (and keep you there!) is organised, user-friendly and radiates appeal; it’s a “sticky website” and all business owners and marketing professionals want one.
Encouraging first-time visitors to come to your site again is challenging, but one of the most important indicators of a fantastic website is the rate of these people returning. It takes more than just a dynamic web design and captivating content though to leave a lasting impression, there are other tools you need to consider – here are 5 tips to help you create a sticky site.
A sticky site has new content to share with its visitors on a regular basis. Users know it’s here, and they trust it’s consistently updated so they check back in to read the latest news – that is, if it’s exciting and compelling enough.
Content doesn’t always have to be in the form of articles so aim to mix it up on your website with videos, images and interesting posts. A great way to stay in touch with your customer’s minds is to start a blog. This sparks interest and entices people to leave comments and share the article with others.
Not everyone understands your industry as well as you so make sure you use the right language and conversation tools for your customers. Stay away from industry jargon and put your message and content into words they can relate too and understand. Talking down to people or making things too complicated will only direct them to your competitor’s website instead.
Creating an e-newsletter is one of the most effective ways to keep the conversation going with your customers. It builds relationships with new and existing visitors and directs them back to your website by offering insight into the latest industry news.
Use your e-newsletter as a trusted source of information your customer are interested in reading about, as opposed to a selling tool for your products and services. Include helpful tips, mentioning of new staff or clients to ensure they feel welcomed and hot topics they want to read about. Like your content, keep it fresh and exciting.
Showing users your business has a good reputation is crucial when the World Wide Web is filled with scams and devious characters. If your business is consistently satisfying the growing community of customers, then don’t be afraid to show it off with testimonials.
New blurbs should be submitted by customers talking about your business, brand, services and products and published constantly by you on your website. This helps to encourage the honest impression your business has and how well you provide useful, quality and valuable services to them.
Striking designs and enticing content is a great start for an effective website, but if it doesn’t provide relevant information – people will be quick to leave. As curious beings, we all have a lot of questions running through our minds and customers want them answered.
When it comes to your niche, take the time to listen to your customers and prospects about what they want. Feeding them with the answers to their questions will give them a reason to want to pay attention to you.
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:
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:
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.
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):
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:
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:
Give it a go by typing in some of your own keywords and see what ideas you can come up with.
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:
• 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.
• 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:
• 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
February 11th, 2014
Following a three year investigation, the European Commission has announced that a provisional agreement has finally been reached between EU and Google. This antitrust issue was first explored in 2010 with concerns Google had decreased the visibility of its competitors in the EU versions of search engine results, including google.ie, google.fr, google.co.uk etc.
As part of this proposed deal, Google will roll-out changes in their search results to display three of its competitors alongside its own results. This will affect GoogleNews, GooglePlace, GoogleMaps and the results from ‘FlightSearch’ and ‘Shopping’. All search engine results will be marked in a way that is clear for users to see.
According to the EU’s Commission Vice President Joaquin Almunia, this proposal is the “last opportunity” to address these concerns. If this deal isn’t confirmed, Google will run the risk of being fined more than $5 billion, or ten percent of its annual worldwide turnover. This proposal will apply to both Google’s existing services and also to the design changes of any new services Google may introduce in the future.
Almunia has also stated her mission, as the one in charge of the competition policy, is to “protect competition to the benefit of consumers, not competitors”. She believes that this new proposal obtained from Google after such a long saga can now address the Commission’s concerns and will not prevent Google from improving its own services in any way. Instead, it will provide users with a real choice between competing services presented in a comparable way, leaving it up to them to choose the best alternative.
Before the proposed changes are legally binding, the antitrust watchdog will discuss the alterations with Google’s competitors. Once the terms are accepted by all parties, local and search results will display competitors, with links to their services, alongside traditional advertisements on both smartphone devices and desktop computers. The deal will need to be abided by Google for the next five years.
At present, Google’s own results are displayed prominently over all other search engine results which led a number of rivals, including Microsoft (owner of Bing search engine), making formal complaints that Google had abused its dominant position in the market for web search services.
It was reported on January 29th that the EU’s competition authority and Google were close to seal the deal in hope to resolve the investigation.
Whilst this proposed deal is only binding within the EU, Google may find it efficient to change its search engine results page in the same way for other places like Australia. The way Google presents its search results and whether consumers understand the variances between the different parts of the results page has also been an issue in Australia. However, in a case study last year done by the High Court they found that a hypothetical reasonable user would understand the differences between Google’s sponsored links and organic (unpaid search results). For now, the results on google.com.au will remain unchanged.
February 7th, 2014
Given Matt Cutts’ recent post announcing the death of guest posting for SEO purposes, I thought it might be fun and helpful to have a look at four guest post outreach opportunities we should be avoiding in 2014.
This slippery fella buys a bunch of expired domains with a bit of PageRank regardless of the theme and points them all at his new whizz bang ‘content’ site. This inflates the new site’s PR making it look at face value like a quality guest post target. However, this site’s link profile is dirtier than a toddler’s face during mealtime. Using Open Site Explorer or MajesticSEO to look behind the scenes and you’ll work out what’s going on fairly quickly. It’s not unheard of to see this site advertised on Flippa.com at the same time, too.
This guy’s website covers every possible niche under the sun. You know the one; it lists content about autos, alongside computers, employment, business, green tech, landscaping, home improvement, and leprechaun sightings etc. He’s the ‘authority’ on all things everything and he’s spreading himself thinner than a boarding house scrape of butter. In Google’s eyes he’s a bit like a Jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.
Webmasters are inundated with guest post requests these days and they’re working out there’s a quid to be made out of us marketers hungrily looking for somewhere to publish our content. You reach out to this guy and he responds with: “yes, but my fee is $200/year”. You leave the conversation there and after a couple of days he emails you, dropping the price and continues to reduce the fee hoping you’ll be enticed back – everyone has their price, right? There’s more discounting going on here than you’ll see at a Persian rug fire sale.
This shady character will pretend he’s the owner of multiple authority sites and reach out to you offering to publish a piece of your content for a fee (usually between $50 and $100). The email is usually written in broken English and the whole affair smells worse than a wet dog and what gives him away is his lack of bricks and mortar contact details, spammy Gmail address or both. A little reconnaissance work through Whois, LinkedIn and the authority sites themselves soon ensures that for this charlatan, the jig is most certainly up.
While most seasoned SEOs and inbound marketers can pick these off a mile away, hopefully we can help those who are a bit greener to the online marketing world steer clear of some potentially very harmful link building.
Do you know of any other breeds of webmaster to avoid like the plague? Find me on Google+.
If you’d like help with formulating a content strategy for your business, reach out to us here or by phone 08 9386 9534.
by Jamie Press
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.
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 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.
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.
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