Category Archives: Research

What Is Neuromarketing and Is It Better Than Traditional Marketing?

What Is Neuromarketing - Eminent SEO

Neuromarketing has been around for a few years now, and regardless of whether you’re familiar with the term, you’ve probably read or heard about some of the insights marketers have learned from it.

But what is neuromarketing really, and how much do you need to know about it? Is it replacing traditional marketing research, as some have suggested, or is it just a passing fad?

Getting Into the Minds of Consumers

Neuromarketing is simply neuroscience applied to marketing. Researchers use technologies that observe brain activity and biometrics (such as heart rate, eye tracking, galvanic skin response, facial coding, etc.) to determine how people respond physiologically to marketing messages.

Neuromarketing examples might include:

  • Tracking eye movement to see which parts of a webpage grab the user’s attention first
  • Using EEG imaging of the brain to determine one’s emotional response to an ad or product
  • Determining which version of an ad generates the most brain activity, as seen in an fMRI scan

The goal of neuromarketing is to better understand consumer behavior by gaining insight into the reactions and decision-making happening at the unconscious level. Since 90 percent of the information that comes into the human brain is processed unconsciously, neuroscience gives us valuable insight into automatic human responses that influence consumer behavior.

By contrast, traditional marketing research methods involve consumer surveys, focus groups and external observation to gather data about what people think, feel and believe. These traditional methods are better at revealing conscious decision-making processes.

The Pros and Cons of Neuromarketing

Neuromarketing Gives Insight Into Consumer Behavior - Eminent SEOThanks to neuromarketing research, marketers no longer have to rely as heavily on consumer self-reporting. For starters, it can be difficult to get people to participate in surveys and focus groups. And even when there’s a lot of feedback given, the results can be biased or inaccurate. Neuromarketing bypasses conscious thinking and identifies automatic reactions that tend to be universal across the population.

On the other hand, because these findings are so generalized, there is still a need for traditional research to understand a target audience in greater detail. And even though consumers’ decisions can be greatly influenced by their subconscious responses, what they consciously think and feel still matters – a lot.

Neuromarketing can be used to help your marketing messages appeal to human beings as a whole, while traditional methods help you hone your message for a specific audience.

You will still need to do plenty of trial and error to see what actually works for your target audience, in your market, with your products. Sorry, neuromarketing is not a magic bullet. Honing in on an optimized marketing strategy will always involve work.

Advantages of Neuromarketing

The biggest advantage of neuromarketing is that it can fill in the gaps left by traditional marketing methods, because neuromarketing provides insight into situations where consumers say they want one thing, but then act (i.e., buy) in a different way.

Neuromarketing has an advantage because it:

  • Does not rely on consumers to willingly and accurately report emotions,
  • Can closely tie physiological reactions to specific parts of an ad or message, and
  • Provides insight into automatic responses that take place at the subconscious level.

Limitations of Neuromarketing

However, it’s important to keep in mind that variances in how individuals process information and the limitations of testing can make it difficult to generalize results with certainty. Limitations include:

  • The high cost in doing neuromarketing research means it is conducted with small sample sizes and often funded by corporations, which could introduce bias into the results.
  • Since brain science is still evolving, there’s not a completely reliable way to connect the marketing stimuli to the emotions triggered.
  • Reactions observed in a lab test environment may be somewhat different than they would be in an actual buying environment.

For more information on how neuromarketing works, check out this enlightening TEDx Talk by SalesBrain cofounder Patrick Renvoise:

Why We Need Neuromarketing AND Traditional Marketing

A key point to remember is that people are naturally contradictory in nature. Human beings often say one thing and do another, and think one way and feel the opposite at the same time. We also may hold one view consciously while subconsciously believing something else.

This doesn’t mean that all people are hypocrites. It’s just that humans are complicated creatures with many competing desires, who live in a world where we’re constantly being sent conflicting messages. In fact, one of the biggest opportunities for marketers is to help relieve this internal conflict – either by guiding people through their options so they can make a clear decision, or by providing a new option that allows them to have their cake and eat it too.

Although all the stimuli humans encounter are filtered through the unconscious processing system first, the conscious decision-making process is also important. Traditional marketing research has given us plenty of valuable insight into why people make the buying decisions they do – or at least why they think they make them.

So while it may be tempting to get caught up in a debate over which type of research gives us better data – traditional or neuromarketing – savvy marketers would be wise to utilize both, because each method measures different factors and gives us different information, all of which is valuable to some degree.

Findings from Neuromarketing Research

The neuromarketing field is still new, and much of it has confirmed things that we already knew either through observation and experience or via traditional marketing methods. Few studies have been published, and the companies that are doing their own research aren’t often willing to share their findings.

Some of what neuromarketing has revealed is unexpected, but most is not. For example:

  • Emotions drive biases and subconscious decision-making.
  • Visuals are processed more quickly than words.
  • Images of celebrities, beautiful women, children and puppies are universally appealing.
  • Faces of any type draw the eye better than other kinds of visuals, and convey important emotional information such as mood, status, etc.
  • Messages that consumers find irrelevant reduce their positive responses.
  • Marketing elements that consumers can personally identify with create a positive response.
  • When a consumer purchases a product from a brand he or she is loyal to, the reward center of the brain gets activated.
  • Prices with round numbers (like $100) are processed more easily, yet numbers like $99.99 are perceived as a better deal.
  • Certain colors elicit particular emotional reactions.
  • The first and last parts of a message are especially important in setting the context for how a message is perceived.
  • Social norms such as reciprocity can be invoked to influence behavior.
  • Avoiding pain is often a stronger motivator than seeking pleasure.

Conclusion

Neuromarketing is a new and evolving science that can help marketers better understand consumer behavior in order to improve their:

  • Packaging
  • Pricing
  • Brand positioning
  • Promotion strategies
  • New product development

Both traditional and neuromarketing research can give us valuable insight into how humans process information and make decisions, consciously and unconsciously. As the science of neuromarketing improves, more reliable results should be available in the future.

However, information from both sources will always need to be applied thoughtfully and strategically, taking into account a company’s unique target audience, market, products and goals. Along with this will be the need to test out best practices in specific situations to see what’s really working.

Sara Korn

Finding creative ways to give both readers and clients what they want is why I love being a writer! As a Content Strategist at Eminent SEO, I listen to clients and put myself in the shoes of their customers to create compelling marketing messages that drive engagement.

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Your Guide to Keyword Research in 2016 Going into the New Year

Keyword Research In 2016 And 2017 - Eminent SEO

In the past, keywords were crucial to search engine optimization (SEO). Times are a-changing, and now keywords are only one of the many factor for rankings. While they are still relevant, keywords should be researched alongside a variety of other optimization factors.

To get a page of content noticed, understand that what’s behind the keywords is just as important as the keywords themselves: Think demographics, personas and intent. Consider keywords carefully, but also keep in mind who’s behind the keyboard. Understanding your user can help you not only bring traffic to your site, but it can also impact who is coming to your site.

Regardless of the type of business you own, you have a target audience. With careful research, you can accurately predict their searches – as long as you understand that keywords aren’t powerful enough to justify your entire focus.

The ‘Why’ Behind the Search

Consider user intent. It’s all about why a person is looking – the motive behind their search. The why impacts what keywords are used. Like a detective, you must divine a motive for the search before you can understand how to use keywords.

Google understands the intent behind a user’s search. Try Googling “hair dye” as an example. What comes up is an option for a beauty supply chain store. Google assumes that the intent of your search is to make a purchase. If a user gets more specific and types in “hair dye effects,” the search results offer information on the correlation between hair dye and cancer risks. So by adding a single word, user intent changed – and Google picked up on it.

Basically, specific words that users choose for a search reveal their intent. This is valuable information, and your goal is to make your product or service match the intent and be the answer they need. Understanding audience intent will help you choose the right keywords and phrases to generate traffic on your site and for your business.

The ‘Who’ Behind the Query

Search Queries Informational Transactional Navigational - Eminent SEOWho is searching matters. People have different motives when searching, and this is why demographics matter so much. Demographics and personas are the details about a group of people or a specific person, such as:

  • Who they are
  • Where they’re from
  • What their professions are
  • What their likes and dislikes are

Obviously, demographics matter. They can tell you whether you should be putting ads on Snapchat or Facebook (depending on age). They can give insight into who is making the purchase. For example, men’s shoes may be the purchase, but women may be the purchaser. Do your keyword research with demographics in mind. It’ll pay off.

Personas are even more helpful in determining who’s on the other side of the search engine. Maybe you want to target 20-year-olds who stay up late to read books, or 30-year-old men who eat spaghetti. A persona is different than a demographic, as it’s more specific. It’s the details that make people who they are, and thereby explains the why behind their search.

Beware of the specific demographics you’re trying to reach because, depending on your keywords, you could miss your target audience. For example, your target demographic might be women combating hair loss. If “hair loss” is your keyword, you might find that the demographic searching “hair loss” is primarily men, so you’d then have to adjust your strategy.

Why Search Queries Matter

Queries are another topic to consider. This is different than a keyword search: It’s “Mexican food” versus “where to find good Mexican food.” Queries tie back to intent. They carry a specific purpose – much more so than keywords do.

Queries are often used by people who know exactly what they want, and there are different kinds of queries with different intentions. Queries are generally categorized as:

  • Informational,
  • Transactional, and
  • Navigational

In other words, users are searching for one of the following: to find information, to make a purchase, or to find a specific website.

Understanding these different types of queries will assist you in navigating user intent and help lead you to a greater understanding of the demographics that are being led to your site.

Decide What Your Goals Are

Before you can understand demographics, personas and intent, you need to have a goal in mind. Increasing site traffic is probably one ambition, but what else?

What about sales? Gaining user awareness of your business? Multiplying ad clicks? These are all important goals to think about when establishing what you want to achieve through keyword research.

Your goals will inevitably assist you in deciding your course of action for keywords. Start putting your keywords in categories, and use them effectively. Perhaps your goal is sales and you want to use “money phrases.” Or maybe your goal is awareness, so you want to use specific phrases that your demographic is likely to use.

Money phrases matter, too. These are all about one thing: the sales funnel. An example of this is “shoe clearance.” Words that dictate selling (like “buy” and “sale”) are commonly used in money phrases.

Understanding the ‘Fully Meets’ Rating and SERPs

Your Website Meet Potential Customers Needs - Eminent SEOSearch engines judge and rate websites by how well they meet their user’s needs. This goes back to the importance of intent. Because websites are rated this way, it means keywords must be used correctly and with user intent in mind to gain more traffic from the right demographics. Aim for a “Fully Meets” rating, which is when a site fulfills all of the user’s needs. This means that the user doesn’t need to see any other site.

Search engine results pages (SERPs) are important. Review them on a regular basis to understand how your keywords are functioning: Who is searching those keywords and why. SERPs will be paramount in your keyword research. By reviewing SERPs regularly for keywords you’re considering, you’ll begin to recognize trends and more closely deliver what users are searching for.

Talk to Your Team About Intent and Keywords

You don’t have to always turn to the web to gain an understanding of user intent and how it affects keywords. Your teammates, particularly in sales, probably have valuable information about your users and what their intentions are. Use this information to form an understanding of user needs and to create appropriate keywords. Ask your team about the questions they’re frequently asked.

Creating a help center on your site can be useful as well. Such a location will give you valuable data about what questions people are asking: Essentially, what is user intent? Use this crucial information to guide your keywords.

Keyword Research Is Not a One-Time Occurrence

How Are Search Users Finding Your Website - Eminent SEOUnderstand that to be effective, keyword research isn’t something that you do once and never return to. It’s an ongoing field of research that’s always changing. You’ll need to consistently review your keywords and queries to see how they are stacking up in search engine results. Look for relevance to user intent and if your keywords are still hitting the mark.

Deciphering keyword research could be as simple as, well, Googling it. Use Google to gain an understanding of user intent. The search engine is excellent at understanding the intent behind words and phrases. The results produced by typing in specific keywords or queries can give you an idea of user intent. And since Google’s algorithms are what guide all other search engines, what the company is doing matters – a lot.

Based on your search results, think about whether your own keywords are describing your product(s) and service(s) correctly. Are they relevant? Do they present an honest representation of your business and what you have to offer?

Those are questions you should be asking yourself when conducting keyword research. Then consider who’s searching for your services exactly the way you’re describing them through keywords. This is paramount. Answering this will enlighten you about user intent.

The Takeaway on Keyword Research in 2016

Keyword research is only one factor among many when conducting research on SEO. You want to not only understand user intent to increase traffic to your site, but to also increase traffic among the right demographic. Otherwise, users are visiting your site without utilizing your products or services – and you’re accomplishing little.

By taking advantage of relevant tools, such as your team members, SERPs and even Google itself, you’re setting yourself up to gain a strong understanding of how users find your site and what steps they take next.

If the keyword-research process sounds too daunting or complex for what you can take on right now, expert help is always available. Click to find out about Eminent SEO’s Keyword Research Services or call 800.871.4130 today.

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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How and Why to Go Beyond Basic Keyword Research When Optimizing Content

Beyond Basic Keyword Research - ESEO

When we talk about keyword research, it starts with opening up Google Adwords Keyword Planner or a similar online tool. From there, we’ll type in a prospective phrase and perhaps pick a geo-location before seeing a page of results, identifying the most appropriate keyword and then calling it a day.

OK, maybe we don’t really “call it a day” at that point. In fact, our work is often just getting started at this phase in the game. We still have to either create a new page of content or update an existing page by implementing the keyword and supporting terms.

If you think the new or updated page will automatically show up on the first page of the search engine results within a couple of months, think again. Going beyond basic keyword research is just the first step in propelling a landing page or other piece of content to page one of the results. Keep reading to find out what you need to do.

To Basic Keyword Research and Beyond!

Part of the battle in optimizing online content is being able to distinguish user intent. There’s a huge difference between search terms that are meant to learn more about an item or concept and search terms that are meant to research products or find an item to purchase.

3 Types of User Intent in Search

SEO experts generally recognize three types of user intent when it comes to search queries:

  1. Navigational
  2. Informational
  3. Transactional

Navigational searches happen when the user already has the name of a website in mind and is just trying to find the official domain. In most cases, there is only one right answer when the user is conducting this type of search.

Informational searches try to answer the user’s question or help him or her learn more about a specific topic. Relevant information can often come from several different web pages, and the user in this situation generally is agnostic to which source provides the answer.

Transactional searches mean a purchase is about to take place – or, at the very least, the user is researching a product or service that will lead to money changing hands at a later date. Like informational searches, transactional searches are often conducted without a specific website in mind. The best product and/or the best price often win out during these types of searches.

Understanding the Different User Intent Types

In Keyword Planner, you’ll often get a mix of informational and transactional search terms in your results list. The key is not optimizing for an informational keyword if you’re hoping to get search users to buy from you. The inverse is also true: You don’t want to have an informational content piece optimized for a transactional keyword, because then your content is misleading search users.

Therefore, you need to go line by line in your Keyword Planner results and be able to distinguish which keywords are informational and which ones are transactional. Make sure the type of keyword you choose lines up with the intent of the page you’re optimizing.

Do you want search users to buy a product or service from you? Go with a transactional keyword.

Do you want to lead users to and keep them on your website by providing high-quality, relevant information? Then make sure you optimize for an informational keyword.

Checking out the Competition

Many SEOs forget to check out the existing results for a desired keyword before they embark on optimizing a piece of content. They’re missing out on critical guidance in helping their content reach the first page of the results.

All you’ve got to do is take your targeted keyword and type it into Google. From there, you’ve got to click through to the results on the first and even second page. Review these individual pages for their length and presentation, including how they address the given search query.

At this point, your goal is to concoct content that you feel is much, much better than your competition, whether you’re creating something from scratch or giving an existing page a facelift. Can you go more in depth on the subject? Can you provide additional relevant information that your competitors are leaving out? Can you make the piece more visually appealing than what you’re seeing in the search results under that keyword?

If the content you’re optimizing is more informational in nature, keep in mind that long-form content does well on Google – not to mention on social media and in other arenas, too. If you’re trying to sell a specific product, especially if it’s one that other ecommerce sites carry, refer to these 10 tips for maximizing organic traffic to the desired page.

Don’t Forget to Focus on Backlinks

As you are going beyond basic keyword research and assessing your competition for a certain search phrase, you should also take a look at what kind of backlinks each of the competing pieces of content has. This is easy to do through the Moz toolbar or Majestic. These tools will show you how many other sites are linking to a page you’re currently visiting.

You can also visit the pages that link to your competitors and see the context of why they linked out in the first place. You might find that some of the results Google gave you for a search term might have been created years ago.

After Your Optimized Piece is Complete

Once your content page is finished, you may want to reach out to the sites linking to your competitor and tell them you have something that is more current and informative than the older results you found. All it takes is a cordial email or phone call. If you’re able to get a response, you may see some of those sites switch their link from your competitors to you, or they might just figure out a way to link to your site from the very same page.

As you’re checking out the links to competing content pieces, you may notice a few pages are lacking in high-quality backlinks, even though it is one of Google’s foremost ranking factors. Perhaps these competing content pages have links from low-quality sites, comment spam, etc. If this is the case, then it’s really time for you to start working on acquiring your own high-quality backlinks to your finished piece of content. Don’t be afraid to personally reach out to companies or websites that you think would find your content relevant. Use these tips if you’re unfamiliar with the process of organically reaching out for backlinks.

Getting to Page One

Understanding the different types of keywords and sizing up your competition will be crucial to crafting content that deserves to be on page one of the search engine results. Once you see what your competitors have done, you’ll get ideas on how to do it better.

Everyone behind the content that’s featured on page one has likely moved on to other affairs, such as other web pages that are targeting other keywords. Using the advice you just read will help your content ascend to page one of the search rankings while your competitors’ backs are turned, meaning more web traffic for you.

Eminent SEO can help when it comes to creating a new page or optimizing an existing page on your website. We conduct throughout keyword research and deliver high-quality content, as well as follow-up organic link-building efforts. To find out more about our Website Marketing Services, click here or call 1-800-871-4130.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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Stop Trying To Track Keyword Rankings. It’s Dumb.

Look, I get it. You are working on organic marketing and that means you are intentionally trying to get Google and the other big search engines to rank your site for what you believe are important keywords. So, why wouldn’t you want to track them?

Because it’s dumb.  Dont be a dumbass Don’t trust me?

Let me explain:

The Strategy is Flawed

There are literally 1000 or more ways an individual could go to Google and search for something similar.

For example:

Let’s say a number of people are all seeking out a great painter Arizona. Some might geo target, others might not. Some might search for a specific service, such as a stucco house painter, others may do a general search for painter. Some might seek out a painter by including an adjective to help qualify the search such as affordable or experienced, others may not.

Some specific examples of what a search query could look like:

  • Painter
  • House Painter
  • House Painter AZ
  • House Painter Arizona
  • House Painter in Mesa Arizona
  • House Painter in Mesa, AZ
  • House Painter in the Mesa Area
  • House Painter in East Mesa
  • Painter for Houses
  • Find a Painter
  • Find a House Painter
  • Stucco House Painter in Mesa
  • Stucco House Painter in Mesa AZ
  • Affordable House Painter
  • Affordable House Painter Mesa Arizona

And a million more variations.

You get my point.

Even if you use sophisticated tools, hire SEO experts and spend hours analyzing the backend data of your site, there is still NO WAY you are EVER going to know every single possible variation of each type of potential way a user could search for your business, your services, your products and your website.

Of course keyword research is still important and I absolutely recommend you have a solid strategy for integrating your important keywords into the meta data and content of your site, but my point is to say the strategy is flawed.

What strategy?

Picking keywords and only tracking them.

You can pick a handful of important keywords based off of their estimated monthly search volume, but so what? If you don’t rank for them does that mean that you aren’t getting traffic? No. If you don’t rank for them does that mean that your site isn’t doing well? No.

There are a thousand reasons why you might not be ranking for a specific keyword… A few:

  • Your page SEO isn’t properly optimized for that exact term specifically
  • Your SEO is good but your in-bound linking doesn’t support the term enough
  • Your content isn’t properly optimized for that term
  • Google likes other keywords better for that page
  • Your competition is doing a better job
  • Your site is new and hasn’t gained enough authority to rank for that term
  • Your site is old and never established enough authority to rank for that term

I could go on.

Oh, and one last thing. There is only so much you can do. Back in the day you could pick a keyword and add it to your website meta data, content and then build in-bound links using that term as the anchor text and BAM! Rankings! Guess what? That exact strategy will now potentially harm your site and could even result in penalties. No bueno.

Google Penguin

The Penguin is going to GET YOU!

Instead, your on-page SEO, content and organic marketing strategies have to be much more sophisticated and diverse. It looks unnatural to put a keyword phrase in each important key area of your site meta and content and then to also have a bunch of in-bound links pointing to that page using the same keyword as the anchor text. That strategy is outdated and IT WILL HURT YOU.

The Information is Not Accurate

We’ve had clients track rankings using a tool and then manually look for the same results only to find they are not the same. Well duh. I hate to break it to you but the information is intentionally inconsistent, Google knows your game and they are trying to deter you from playing it. Did you know that Google has even said tracking rankings is against their terms of service? And don’t think they don’t know. They know.

So, why and how is the information inaccurate?

There are several big reasons why… all of which I already wrote about in a previous post called “Why Tracking Your Organic Search Rankings Will Drive You Insane”… but I will recap here for you:

  • Your Locations Matters (where you search from changes your results)
  • Your Web Browsing History Matters (what you’ve already searched for impacts what Google serves you)
  • Your Personalized Results are Influenced by Social Signals (logged in users get personalized results – and many are heavily influenced by their social circles)
  • Technical Aspects Play a Huge Role (Google has a ton of data centers and all can display slightly different results at any given time)

To further that, if you are using a tool – paid or free – to track your rankings then you have to understand that the tool itself is also impacted by the above variables. They aren’t allowed to scrape Google every week, day or hour to find your rankings. They are potentially buying the data or pulling it from another resource even that may or may not even be Google. You could be looking at outdated information or data pulled from some 3rd party source.

It’s okay to use a tool to track a few keywords, especially if you are a marketer and you want some very specific insights to use in your campaign strategies – but to rely on the data as a key performance metric and to give it to your client as an indicator of how well their marketing campaigns are doing is INSANE!

Tracking Rankings will Drive You Insane The data is all over the place! All you are going to do is frustrate yourself AND your clients.

Which leads me to my next point…

Rankings Don’t Equal Traffic or Conversions

I mean, think about it. Even if you are number 1,2 or 3 for a specific keyword in Google that doesn’t guarantee ANYTHING! People might not click. People may click a paid ad above you instead. People might click but they don’t like your site or content and decide to keep looking… so, there is no guarantee a ranking will lead to a click that converts.

Also, so what if you rank for a keyword – what about the other 1000 variations of that term (as shown in my first point: The Strategy is Flawed )? I am much more excited to see increased organic search engine traffic then I would ever be over a keyword ranking. Organic traffic means you are ranking for terms that people are clicking on. THAT is real data. Rankings mean nothing. Traffic is everything…. Well, good traffic (but I’ll get to that in a second). Why would you track your rankings or report on rankings to a client when they are VERY possibly 1) not accurate (as shown above) 2) not likely to maintain their placement and 3) not directly correlating with any tangible traffic data?

Such an outdated measurement.

Let’s say I want to rank for terms related to my previous example (above) on “House Painting”. So, I go to a marketing firm and they say to me, “Oh, you should really target ‘house painting’ because that term clearly has the highest search volume in your space”. I would be like, great – let’s do it! Then, for the next several months that marketing firm would work on that term… but then I don’t see any rankings and I am frustrated and think they are doing a terrible job and who needs them anyways. But, if that marketing firm says, well, you know what? You may not be able to see rankings for that term, but guess what? We were looking at your Google Analytics and you have tripled your organic traffic in the last month!

I’d be like, WHAT? Okay!

What? Okay!

Why? Because traffic is what I hired a marketing firm for. Not ranking me for ONE (or a set of) specific keywords.

Besides, the REAL measure is how that traffic is leading to increased conversions. This is marketing people. Why does ANY business pay for marketing? Because they want to make more money. How do they do that? By making more sales. It’s pretty simple. No one cares (or should care) what their rankings are or how much traffic they get if their sales aren’t increasing.

I could write a whole new blog post on that so I’ll just leave it at this – organic online marketing is intended to help you get more traffic and conversions. If you are getting organic traffic you have rankings! If you are currently tracking specific keyword rankings and you don’t see solid results but you DO see increased organic traffic in your analytics, then guess what? You ARE ranking somewhere for something, you just aren’t tracking the millions of variations of the keywords Google could possibly serve you up for.

GET IT?

And I’m just going to say this one more time for kicks…

Who cares what you are ranking for as long as you are getting traffic and increased conversions?

There Are Better Metrics To Focus On

So, I basically just said it – but for those of you questioning what to track, measure and report on instead, here are a few of our favorite client KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) here at Eminent SEO.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, we DO NOT track or report on rankings. Ever.

What to Track INSTEAD of Keyword Rankings

KPI #1: Conversions

I don’t just mean visits here. If a visitor doesn’t take a desired action, then they aren’t worth your on-going marketing spend. I am talking about tracking actions – such as: a phone call, a purchase, a form submission, the download of an ebook or something else of that nature.

Of course to do this properly you have to have some amount of skill and might even need to have some paid tools (such as a call tracking tool), but we are talking about metrics here – if you need help implementing any of these suggestions, well, you’ll just have to call us!

KPI #2: Cost Per Conversion

Okay, great! Now you have conversions, but how much is that costing you? I’ve had clients come in with multiple lead source types (maybe they are running a PPC campaign, have a local campaign going, they are renting space on a large directory AND even doing TV ads) and they have no clue which ad source is actually bringing them their leads and conversions and in turn they really don’t know which marketing source is the most valuable to them. Why? Because they aren’t tracking them individually.

Each individual marketing campaign you are running (on and off-line alike) should be tied in to a separate number, landing page, website or conversion form if you are going to truly measure your efforts. From there, you should tie your ad spend into each individual ad source. Your online marketing firm should be able to track online actions, such a fill form or other web submission, however, if you are also taking calls this does take some extra effort on your part. If done properly you will know exactly where each lead/sale is coming from and determine a cost per lead/sale.

This is HUGE! Reread that if you have to. This is important people!

KPI #3: Visitor Behavior

Once you are certain you are properly measuring your conversions and cost per conversion you can start diving back into important the website metrics, such as visits, repeat visitors, number of page views and the average time on site.

Any good online marketing company is going to use these metrics to improve your conversion rates by addressing quality issues. For example, high bounce rates from a particular page indicate that even though you are getting traffic it’s not converting – so there is a problem on that page that needs to be addressed. On the other hand, as a marketing firm, if you see monthly improvements to these metrics you should be able to show your client that the website is capturing their audience and resulting in better leads and conversions….

Client Thumbs Up

Get a BIG Thumbs Up

And isn’t that a ZILLION times more important that some random keyword rankings?

THE Nutshell:

The Strategy is Flawed

You can’t possibly know every variation people might use to find you. And even if you could, your marketing company can’t just rank you for a specific term anymore anyways. That strategy is outdated and could actually hurt you!

The Information is Not Accurate

We now know (for a FACT) that there are dozens of ways rankings can be influenced and therefore not accurate. So, what are you really tracking anyways?

Rankings Don’t Equal Traffic or Conversions

If you think rankings (or the lack thereof) are proving anything, well, I hate to break it to you… but you are wrong. If you don’t see rankings but you have organic traffic and conversions, well then guess what? You DO have rankings.

There Are Better Metrics To Focus On

I could list 1000 key performance indicators that we feel are more important to a client on how their marketing dollars are actually increasing their bottom line… but I shared 3: conversions, cost per conversion and visitor behavior. If you are tracking rankings and not focused on these other 3 metrics, it’s time to get with the times.

Rankings are a thing of the past. Don’t be dumb.

Why are you so dumb

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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How to Find New Blog Ideas for Businesses Articles

If you’re not a regular blogger, you might think it’s very difficult to find new ideas to write about on your blog.  It seems difficult because you’re so busy with everything else that you don’t have time to research your own blog articles.

But, those who blog regularly know there’s millions of blog ideas floating around at any given time.  Once you know where to look for ideas, and what types of ideas work on blogs, it’s quite easy to find a limitless number of topics to blog about. However, do remember the golden rule of blogging: keep your blogs posts 80% focused on providing valuable information to your audience, and 20% about your company.

With that said, here are some ways to find blog topics:

1. Answer Common Customer Questions Your Target Audience Has

You have a certain set of questions you get asked again and again, in your business. Provide answers to these questions on your blog, and this will not only show that you are an authority in your business space, but will deliver answers to your current clients and possible future clients.  This serves three purposes:

  1. Your customers will have a resource that can be bookmarked in case they have future questions for you.
  2. Odds are that other people are searching online for answers to the same questions.  Out of those readers that are searching for answers to questions you have answered, some of them may become return visitors and even steady customers.
  3. Your website becomes a more useful tool for your visitors, which builds your authority, and helps you attract even more readers through search engines.

2. Research Your Competitor’s Blogs

Yep, it’s totally okay to write about the same topics as your competitors.  However, to keep things interesting, create your own slant on the topic.  By creating a blog that is more interesting to readers, is more visually-appealing, and gives more direct and useful information, you are providing a much higher quality online product than your direct competition. A much higher quality product often attracts new customers from your competition, and gives you much more marketing leverage in your business vertical.

Pay Attention to Websites Like Quora and Yahoo Answers

You know how when you sometimes type in a question into Google, and then the top link goes to Yahoo answers?  You can either type in these questions manually, or you can visit Yahoo Answers and Quora directly and look at some of the questions being asked.  Once there, you can also ask questions and browse different categories of questions.

Some of these questions have a low number of searches on Google, but that’s a good thing because that means it’s easier to rank your blog article on the first page for those search terms.

4. Go to Google Adwords

This isn’t the most efficient way to find blog article ideas, but you can find some with a higher number of searches.  But, the catch is it’s generally much more difficult to rank your blog article on the first page of Google for these ideas because there’s more competition for them.  Check it out in action below:

googleadwords

For example, in this case, “How do I find blog article ideas” was entered, and a good relevant search “blog ideas for business.” So, a good title would be “how to find blog ideas for businesses” or “10 ways to find blog ideas for businesses.”  You’ll notice the number of monthly searches, 50, is quite low.  That’s a good thing – there will be lower competition, and you’ll have a better chance of hitting the first page of Google with your blog article.

There are many more ways to find blog article topic ideas, the trick is to find topics that many are searching-for, or are trending online. Look at your own online search habits and mirror your blog writing after your own search habits; this will lead your blog to be a more natural and efficient source for information related to your business.

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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RIP Google Keyword Tool: We Now Have the New Google Keyword Planner to “Love”

Eminentseo -- RIP Headstone -- 08-28-13The SEO/SEM world has not taken kindly to Google’s new Keyword Planner that officially replaced the old AdWord Keyword Tool yesterday.

To use the Keyword Tool now users must login to an AdWords account in order to access the Planner. The Planner has no match type data for any search volumes (search volumes are displayed for exact match data only), ZERO device targeting, ZERO local vs. global monthly searches, and the AMAZEBALLS option to filter by “closely related” terms has been terminated.

Of course, the reactions aren’t 100% negative. There are new features like more geographic segmentation and the ability to bundle geographic regions that allow local SEOs and ad planners to drill down to the city level to get keyword search volume data.

Users are able to upload more keywords from their own lists (up to 10,000 keywords) to get performance data. The Planner will also show search volumes by ad group, landing page and any other categorization you set up.

Still, search volume differences between the two tools have been a source of anger, and the variances are due to two key sources of contention — match types and device types getting eliminated.

Google tells us:

“In general, you’ll notice that the average search volume data is higher in Keyword Planner as compared to the exact match search volume data you got with Keyword Tool. That’s because we’ll show you the average number of searches for a keyword idea on all devices (desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and mobile phones). With Keyword Tool, we showed you average search volume for desktop and laptop computers by default.”

Hopefully Google will continue to update the Keyword Planner and add our old fav “closely related” to the offering. If you are accustomed to the old tool, using the new Planner will be a major adjustment that you will likely have a love/hate relationship with. If the Planner stays the way it is this will for sure drive up a few sales numbers for all those competing keyword research tools on the market.

What tool do you use for Keyword Research?

What You Need to Know About Keyword Research

Is keyword research still necessary?KeywordResearch_graphic

This has become an increasingly popular question over the last two years in the online marketing space. Google has made a lot of changes to their data displays and algorithms, making SEO’s and business owners wonder the same thing – “Is my keyword strategy still relevant?”

 

 

 

Here’s a breakdown of some of the changes that impact organic search and keyword data collecting:

1) (not provided) appears in Google Analytics, which Google did in order to “protect” users’ private search data from being viewed by businesses for marketing purposes.

300 Visits – Keyword NOT PROVIDED? WTF!?!

2) Increased focus on local search results – Search from a certain geographic location for a particular service, and you’ll get one set of results. Search from another, and you’ll get different results. Of course this is a sensible change – if you search for “water damage restoration,” you probably want a local company, not one 1,000 miles away.

My IP is in Mesa Arizona – Notice most of the results: paid, organic and local (maps) are all specific to my surrounding area.

3) Personalized search – If you’re signed in to a Google account and you search, results from people within your Google+ circles, or results from previous sessions, appear much higher in the search results.

Hey! I know these guys!

4) Social media now plays a much more important role in your search rankings. The more followers, and especially the more shares you get, the stronger your rankings in the search engines.

WHOA! No wonder they are ranking so well!

These 4 factors appear to make keyword research a bit less relevant to your overall strategy, but the right way to look at keyword research is that it’s less straightforward than it was a few years ago – but still just as critical to the success of your internet marketing campaigns!

“So, Why Do Keyword Research? Can’t I Just Pick My Important Terms?”

Google still uses keywords to serve up sites and ads, and organic search still accounts for the majority of traffic to a properly optimized website. Google has to incorporate keywords into their algorithms because that is what searchers use to find what they’re looking for.

Also, f you are trying to rank for a specific keyword and/or target a specific keyword in your organic or paid advertisements, you have to optimize your website for that keyword. Google looks at the page the link or the ad points to. If the keyword isn’t specific to the page it’s pointing to, you are likely not going to achieve a high quality score for that key term. So, clearly your keyword research and strategy is key for on-page optimization reasons (as well as off site SEO – such as content and link building).

Issues with Selecting Keywords

Problem 1: One problem we often encounter when determining the target keyword strategy for a client is that businesses call their products and services one thing, while searchers may call them another. (Hey, not everyone is as technical as you, okay?)

Solution 1: Allow an outside team to brainstorm and throw out their own personal ideas for search. People who aren’t already familiar with your product/service are great candidates for keyword discovery. Once you have developed a list of ideas – you can then expand on them to discover all of the various ways someone might search for your products/services. Of course once you decide on a strategy and implement it, you have to give it some time and test. If one strategy doesn’t work, you can always adjust from there – it does some times take a bit of trail and error to get the strategy just right.

Problem 2: Sometimes a business wants to sell a new product or service and there is very little to no search volume for the keywords that would be relevant to this new idea. Or, the terms relevant are very broad and would possibly drive targeted traffic, but then again, maybe not… (and who has the time and money to test that theory?).

Solution 2: This problem takes a lot of creativity in your research and possibly a branding campaign to raise awareness for the new product/service. You can always start with the closest keywords to your offer and then promote your specific product/service through paid ad campaigns, social channels and viral marketing pieces

Problem 3: Other clients may be in a highly competitive space and their desired keyword phrases are so difficult it seems impossible to rank for the terms. (I mean, who can really compete with Adobe or Nike for example).

Solution 3: This is also an obstacle we can overcome – it just takes some deep keyword discovery to identify the longer-tail keyword phrases that are lesser competitive. We realize that long tail keywords generally have lower search volumes which makes them less desirable – but our experience says that long tail actually usually means “low hanging fruit”! When someone is specific in their search they are generally more apt to convert. So, although the search volume is lower, you might have better success with a long tail strategy.

The Nutshell:

The solution to all of the issues mentioned above is expert keyword discovery and research. When we do keyword research, we help you find keywords related to your products or services that you can realistically rank for within your budget. We determine how competitive your space is and how realistic it is for you to compete for specific keyword phrases. And hey, if you can’t go after your “money” keywords at first due to budget restrictions or lack of authority with Google – then we start where we can, helping you meet your short term goals while still working towards your big keywords as a long term goal.

 

A Quick Look at How Keyword Research Works

Clients often come to us and want to rank for vague terms like “kids shoes” (just a pretend example).  If you go into Google Adwords and do some quick keyword research, the following information is revealed:

  • 33,100 searches and high competition

We can never promise how long it will take to rank for short-tail keywords, but with a term like this, you’re usually looking at 6 – 12 months or more (and a lot of money) before even have a chance to rank at the top of the Goolge search engine results.

However, for a long tail term, such as “best kids basketball shoes,” there are 110 monthly searches and medium competition. Generally, with a lower number of searches like this, that means there’s less organic competition (the high competition in Adwords refers to the number of advertisers paying to display PPC ads for that keyword), and therefore you have a much better chance of ranking high for that keyword in a shorter period of time.

Of course we don’t base our suggestions off of the Google AdWords difficulty numbers alone, this just helps us narrow the list. Once we have narrowed the list down we can take the exact keywords and use other tools to better determine their organic levels of difficulty.

As mentioned above, in addiction to being easier to rank for, long-tail keywords generally lead to better conversion rates. People who enter a string of keywords as a phrase have a better idea of what they’re looking for. If they type in “kids shoes,” they are likely just doing research and aren’t quite ready to buy yet.

How Long Will Keyword Research Remain Relevant? 

This is the real question. Although Google and the other search engines are clearly moving towards personalized results, the terms used to search will still be very valuable. Google makes their money by selling paid advertisements for business owners. Business owners bid and buy ad placement based off of the keyword data. If Google doesn’t provide search data – how will their advertisers know which keywords to bid on?

Keyword research might be changing, but it’s definitely not going to die as long as Google can make money from keyword based advertisements.

What do you think?

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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