Tag Archives: Research and Audits

The Importance of a Website Content Audit During a Re-Design and How to Do It

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content-audit-dog

Content audits are primarily done before marketing begins and during the website re-design stage. We always recommend doing a content audit on a website BEFORE starting the re-design, especially if it is a larger website that has a lot of history. A content audit is necessary in order to properly keep track of all the content that is going to be included in the new site.

What is Included in a Website Content Audit?

A website content audit involves exporting the pages of the site using a tool and manually going through the pages of the site to get a better understanding of the content strategy, navigation architecture, and on-page SEO. The important information that is needed includes:

  • Navigation Title
  • Page Name
  • All Page URL’s
  • Meta Title
  • Meta Description
  • 301 Redirect Table
  • Keyword Research
  • Comments

This information can be hosted in an excel file. More on the process below.

Website Content Audit Process

Everyone performs their website content audits differently. There isn’t really a right or wrong way to do it as long as all of the necessary information is easy to access and clearly defined.

Step One: Run a Crawl Report

The best way to begin gathering content information for the site is by simply running a crawl report. This will produce necessary elements including: URL, meta title, meta description, and more. Highlight areas of the crawl report that may need improvement such as: missing meta titles or descriptions, long title tags, missing header tags, etc. By keeping this information in a separate tab, you will know if the site needs to be re-siloed, has missing content and SEO, etc. This also allows you to see all of the URLs of the site which can help you with your next step.

crawl report

Step Two: Layout the Navigation

In the same spreadsheet, different tab, begin manually going through each page of the site in order. Gather the title for the top level navigation first. Then begin gathering titles of secondary navigation pages in a secondary column. Include the URLs in the third column. Comments for each page in the fourth column. This makes it really easy to see what the focus strategy is per page at a high level. This also helps create the correct silo architecture each site should have for better rankings.

Step Three: 301 Redirect Table if Needed

When going through the navigation and content of the website, you’ll probably notice redundancies in pages, or find certain pages that are located under the wrong top level navigation. With those, you want to make sure they are properly 301 redirected, so there are no 404 errors created from moving the pages. This also is a necessary if the website has any backlinks pointing to specific pages within the site. 301 redirects are Google-friendly redirects. In the column next to your landing page URLs, create a column next to that titled “301 URL”. Create the new name of the URL so that it includes the proper category names needed to be properly siloed.

For example:

Old URL: www.example.com/plumbing/

You want the plumbing page to be hosted under the ‘Services’ silo.

New URL: www.example.com/services/plumbing/

Pretty simple, just time consuming if you have a ton of URLs that need to be properly siloed.

content audit

Step Four: Keyword Research

In order to properly optimize each landing page of the site, you have to understand how users are searching for your product or service. In a separate tab of the same excel file, you can use the Google Keyword Planner to discover keyword opportunities. This was explained in our recent blog post more in detail: How Content and Links Work Together for Better Organic Marketing

Step Five: Get to Work!

Now that you have all of the content information properly laid out in an excel document, you can get to work. Refer to your crawl report to prioritize which pages need to be re-written and optimized by looking for errors that stand out. Use your keyword research to incorporate the right keywords in each page. Once those errors and pages are complete, you can refer to the new website architecture for any new pages that may need to be written. A lot of re-architecture means writing pages that were missing before. Get those done next or simultaneously with the other pages that have errors. Lastly, implement the new optimized content with the 301 redirects.

Why a Website Content Audit is Necessary for a Successful Re-Design

As you can see, there are many moving pieces to a content audit. Some companies are quick to sell a website re-design and simply move existing content over. The content should be part of the re-design process because it is a huge contributing factor to the overall user experience and how Google indexes and ranks the site. This can easily be overlooked in the re-design process which can lead to issues later such as:

  • Loss in website rankings when 301 redirects aren’t properly implemented
  • Duplicate content issues
  • Missed opportunities for proper on-page optimization with rankings and conversion
  • Technical website errors

These are just to name a few. The website content audit needs to be done in order to catch any errors and mistakes during the process.

The content audit also helps set up opportunities for future months of marketing. When a site has a fresh design, fresh content, and fresh navigation, it will be clear if anything is missing from the content. For on-going marketing, you can collect ideas for new landing pages that can be developed in future months which will help with the organic SEO and the overall user-experience, leading to increased conversions.

When the new design is live there is also a final step, which is to review the work for accuracy. Even though you laid it out all pretty in an excel file, things still may be missed. Run a new crawl report to find any missing elements and manually go through each page to see if anything stands out. Refer to our website checklist to make sure everything is cohesive with your strategy and you’ve addressed everything found in the initial audit.

Bottom Line

In order to reduce organic traffic downtime, increase organic traffic from the re-design, and set up future months of content strategy for the website; always start with a content audit. The content audit works hand in hand with the overall sales funnel of the website. If the website is hard to navigate, missing important content, and not properly optimized per page – you’re losing money.

Learn more about how we can help you with your re-design by auditing your site here, or call us today: 800.871.4130

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Understanding the Customer Buying Cycle to Boost Sales

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buying cycle

Do you want more leads and sales from your website?

First things first, for on-going sales, you must understand the buying cycle of a purchaser. Not understanding this process can lead to holes in your online marketing presence, potentially losing out on more opportunities to grow your business.

The Buying Process in a Nutshell

Stage 1: Product/ Service Recognition

This is the most important piece to the buying cycle which is recognizing the need for your product or service. Why would someone need your company? If there’s not a need for your product/service, chances are, there won’t be a purchase either.

Stage 2: Research

Once a buyer realizes the need for your product or service, they begin to research companies to fulfill this void. What’s your company’s offer?

Stage 3: Evaluation of Opportunities

After research is performed, it’s time for the buyer to evaluate their different options. What makes your offer better than the competition?

Stage 4: Purchase Decision

Now that the buyer has evaluated their alternatives, it’s time to make a decision. During this stage, the purchaser may seek out pricing from a few of their options. Is the pricing of your offer competitive? If your price is higher than the competition, explain why.

Stage 5: Final Purchase

The stage where the buyer has realized the need for your product/service, researched and evaluated, and now decided on who to purchase from.

Stage 6: Evaluating Results of the Purchase

This is the final stage of the buying process, not the final purchase. Once a purchase is made, your job is NOT done. In order to build custom relationships and have a good reputation it’s always a good idea to make sure the customer was happy with their purchase.

How to Use the Buying Cycle to Boost Conversion and Sales

Now that you understand the basics of the buying cycle, it’s time to take advantage of it for your on-going marketing efforts. Below are some ways to do just that:

Analyze Top Search Queries to Know the Stage of the Buyer

We always think of keyword research as the first phase to any marketing strategy because it builds the foundation of the SEO strategy. Understanding how your buyers are searching and making sure you’re tackling all of the different stages of the keywords.

Example:

  • Someone searching “smartphone plans” – This term is very generic. Someone is looking for plans to choose from solving a problem they may have with a current plan or new to the process altogether. This term would be most likely used in stages 1 and 2 of the buying cycle.
  • Someone searching for “verizon smartphone plans vs att&t smartphone plans” – When a customer is comparing services, they’re most likely researching and evaluating their options. This would be part of stage 2 or 3 of the buying cycle.
  • Someone is searching for “Verizon smartphone plans” or “Samsung Galaxy Note 4” – These terms are very specific to a brand or product. The customer has already done their research and knows what they want to buy. This would be stage 4 or 5 of the buying cycle.

You want to have keywords that are tailored to each stage of the buying cycle because it opens up more opportunities for customers to find you. Even if they’re in the research stage, that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to come back looking for your brand if you had a memorable offer.

Invest Your Content into the Right Digital Marketing Channels

Each product or service is essentially marketing to a specific demographic, of course. Are you investing your content into the channels where your demographic is searching or active on? We’re going to break it down by stage by examples of how to utilize the buying process with content, starting with stage 2. This is also assuming your product/service is fulfilling a specific need.

Research Stage: Where does your audience go to find more information about their need? If you are selling products online or providing a local service, your audience is most likely going to use Google for more research. You should be spending part of your investment into ranking organically in Google, as well as paid search, to make sure your site shows up when people are doing their initial research.

Evaluation Stage: This stage needs a combination of marketing efforts to be successful. You might consider having a comparison chart on a dedicated landing page of your website that’s tailored to show how your offer is better than the competition. Within that landing page you should then have a form to capture data and offer an incentive to encourage the evaluator to go further down the buying cycle. Then, you should share that landing page through your social media so that other people can share with their friends what makes you different. Lastly, ranking for terms that are strictly about comparison would also help attract evaluators to that landing page.

Purchase Decision Stage: Now that the customer has gone through all of the stages, it’s time for the decision to purchase your product or service. During this stage, you want to make sure you’re really focused on your discounts. If the potential customer has decided to download your offer on your landing page, you can use email marketing to send an “Exclusive Discount”. You can also do this via social media. This is the nurturing stage where you have to use persuasive content in order to help the customer to make the right purchase decision.

Purchase Results Stage: You’ve done it! The customer decided to go with your company to fulfill their need(s). Now that they’ve made the final decision and purchased, it’s important to follow up with the customer to make sure all of their needs were met. Give them a call or email them to thank them for their business and making sure they’re happy with their purchase; this step really goes a long way. That’s the first step in building a long-term relationship with your customer, which will keep them coming back to your company for years to come.

Closing Thoughts

It’s important to focus on much more than just “gaining sales” with your website content. There’s an entire cycle that occurs before sales are even made. If your marketing campaign is missing any of the primary components of the cycle listed above, your business could be missing opportunities. Understanding the buying cycle and your target demographic are both key strategy building components that should always be considered.

Do you need help building a marketing strategy that’s tailored to the buying cycle? Give our experts a call today. We’re here to help. 800-871-4130

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How to Use Social Media and Email Marketing to Influence Repeat Business

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repeat businessThe probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.” (Source)

So, now that opens up the question of why businesses only want their marketing budget spent on acquiring NEW customers. Why not focus a portion of your marketing spend to nurture your existing customers? Every business should focus at least a portion of their marketing budget to have former/existing customers become second, third, or even ongoing buyers of their product or service.

Email marketing and social media work together to create effective return customers when done right. If you have already accumulated a good amount of customers over the years and kept their information – you have the ability to reach out to those same customers in the hopes that they will buy from you again.. Staying in front of your customers is extremely important and showing them appreciation for being a customer is equally important. Here’s how to utilize these two marketing techniques to increase those repeat customers:

Stay in Front of Your Customers with Social Media

Social media can be a great way to connect with your audience and customers on a regular basis. By telling your story and giving out exclusive offers you will keep your audience, as well as past customers, influenced by your brand. Here’s how to have your customers think of your business first when they need a product or service you offer again:

Make Sure Your Customers Know You Have a Social Presence

To do this, you can put social links in your email signature. Maybe even send out a welcome email or regular newsletter to encourage them to follow your business on social media. A little blurb about exclusive deals and offers isn’t a bad idea here.

Establish Trust with Your Social Followers

You don’t want to spam your audience with a million offers a week. You want to strategically build trust which then helps build your overall brand. Building trust can be done by sharing company achievements/awards, employee stories and pictures, and useful information for your customers, such as industry news.

Promote Your Lead Generating Resources

This means landing pages that will capture customer data. If you see the same customer wanting to learn more information, they may be interested in purchasing a second time. Encourage this by sending them a follow up email asking them if they need any help. Don’t forget to thank them again for being a valued customer.

Nurture Customers with Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the most effective techniques for generating repeat business with an extremely high ROI. According to Experian, for every $1 spent approximately $44.25 is the average return on investment. Talk about generating repeat business on a budget! Definitely doable with email marketing.

Email marketing is the gateway to nurturing those past customers into becoming on-going or repeat customers with personalization techniques. Personalizing your emails makes customers feel all warm and fuzzy inside because they feel they’re personally valued. Win, Win

Create Separate Email List for Previous Customers

The best way to mass-target your former customers is by separating out your email lists. This way you can personalize your emails and specifically thank former clients for being a customer! While thanking them, link to some featured products or services. You want to push for that second purchase and remind them why they chose to purchase from you in the first place.

Try to Accumulate Customer Data

I know it can be hard to do this part, but try. If you have information such as product purchase date, birthdays, etc. you can send anniversary style emails, such as the anniversary of when they first purchased from you. Did you follow up and ask for a review or testimonials? This is a great time to do so to get some useful feedback. Also, birthdays are a great time to email your customer and send a Happy Birthday card with a special discount. This will get them into your store and they may possibly order more products from you with their exclusive discount code.

Personalize Your Subject Lines

If you’re targeting a former customer, personalize it in the subject line with their name. This increases the chances of your email being opened by roughly 22%. Or, use other compelling text, such as “We Miss You, So We Have a Special Offer for You!” This can be tested, just try various compelling subject lines and track which ones get the best open rates.

Monitor the Behavior of Your Customer Email List Carefully

In order for you to understand what type of content is valuable to your customers, you should be monitoring their behavior through your email campaign tools and your website analytics. Is the content you’re sending them providing them value? In order to tell, look and see if they’ve clicked on links to specific landing pages in your analytics. How long did they stay on that page? What’s the bounce rate look like? Those are some valuable key performance indicators that will help you to know if your content is gaining the attention of your users.

Another key indicator you can use is the data of your past customers, for example look to see when the last time they purchased from you was. For past customers that haven’t purchased from you in over 3 months, send them an email blast with an exclusive offer. Monitor the conversion rates for this to see if your offer was valuable. If so, make this a primary campaign you can utilize every 3 months for past customers to get them back in the door.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, both social media and email marketing are great ways to generate repeat business. You need the social media to stay in front of your customers, but you need the email marketing to nurture those customers and turn them into repeat customers. Building a trusted relationship is the goal with both marketing techniques. Former customers trust your business more when they have a memorable experience and feel valued. On-going customer communication also encourages your former or current customers to become public supporters of your brand and recommend your product or service to their friends on social media – opening even more doors for an expanding customer base.

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Inbound Marketing: The Most Effective B2B Marketing Solution

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In order to continuing growing your B2B business, you need quality leads. Many businesses may be thinking “Yeah, if only it were that easy.” We’re with you on that. It’s not fast and it’s not easy. It takes a team of professionals who are proficient in the different areas of inbound marketing to really see results.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

inbound marketing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inbound marketing, a coined phrase from HubSpot, is the process of attracting the right visitors, converting those visitors into qualified leads, nurturing those leads into customers, and retaining ongoing customers. In other words: Attract, Convert, Nurture, Delight.

Inbound marketing pulls customers into conversation via SEO, social media, blogging, and email marketing. Whereas the old techniques of marketing known as outbound marketing, interrupts customers into seeing your product or service. This comes in various forms including: TV ads, print materials, cold calling, pop up advertising, banner advertising, and more.

The Benefits of Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing for B2B Companies

I could go on about the benefits of inbound vs. outbound, but I’ll keep it straight to the point.

Benefit 1: Build Long-Term Relationships

business relationships

Your content is the face of your business with inbound marketing. It’s what attracts those potential customers to seeing your brand and website. Your content is also the piece that’s going to convert, nurture, and retain your customers. Content = communication.

Just because a potential buyer doesn’t immediately call to purchase your product or service, doesn’t mean they aren’t researching you. In most cases, businesses are going to research you before making initial contact. They will follow your social profiles, read your blogs, and hopefully sign up for your newsletter. To justify it, you need content to build these relationships and stay in front your prospects. They will think of your brand as a trusted resource if you’re pushing out quality stuff. That’s ultimately what builds business relationships today.

With the outbound marketing techniques, the goal isn’t to build relationships. The goal is to get the most visibility possible without keeping your ideal audience in mind. See how costs can add up quickly here? This leads us into the cost comparison.

Benefit 2: More Cost Effective

Per Hubspot, the average cost per lead is 61% lower with inbound marketing than outbound.

cost per lead

If you’ve ever done any form of advertising, you know how expensive it can be. But why spend all the money when you can create better results for less? That’s a question I’m sure a lot of marketers are asking their clients.

Benefit 3: Marketing Provides Value to the End Consumer

With B2B inbound marketing, the ideal way to getting those clients is by educating them. Showing them the value in your product or service through your content. This can be done with eBooks, white papers, webinars, and speaking conferences. The goal is to get your ideal client to understand your product or service and how it will directly benefit them as a consumer.

With outbound marketing, there isn’t much education done by marketers. The goal here is creating ads that will stand out over their competition. Creativity is the core strategy for ad visibility.

How to Use Inbound Marketing to Quantify Leads into Customers

Let’s break it down. When employing inbound marketing to generate B2B leads, you get a much higher return on your investment. And here’s what you need:

A Properly Optimized Website

This is the first and most IMPORTANT part to your inbound marketing strategy. Your website should be set up to where unique visitors can easily understand what their next steps are. When a visitor lands on a page from the search results, it needs to be relevant. It then needs to provide a call to action (CTA) leading the visitor down a path to ultimately meet their end goal. See our Landing Page Optimization Checklist to learn more.

Identify Your Target Audience

This is also known as developing your ideal buyer persona. Age, gender, geographic, industry, etc. Who is that person? When you’re developing your content strategy, it’s important to know who that is. That way you can tailor your content voice toward your buyer persona.

Solid Keyword Research and SEO Strategy

Keywords are the backbone of your content strategy. Ultimately the goal is to have more visibility in the search results to attract the RIGHT visitors, right? This is done with identifying keywords that are going to convert visitors into leads. Make sure your website and content marketing is making the most of these keywords.

Set Goals

set goals

In order to know if your inbound marketing strategy is successful, you need to set realistic goals. Goals that are attainable would include percentage increases like: conversion rate, visitor to lead, lead to customer, traffic increases, etc. Set milestones and expectations for your client and team.

Concrete Content Marketing and Social Media Strategy

With B2B marketing, you want to be known as the leader in your industry and raise awareness. To do so, you need a solid content marketing and social media strategy to get that content visible. Create editorial calendars that include eBook topics, blog topics, social topics, and focus keywords. This will help you stay on task with your content.

content marketing

Blog frequency should be at least once per week, ideally twice per week with valuable content. Topic ideas should stem from frequently asked questions, keywords, industry news, etc. Each blog should have a final CTA and this is where eBooks and other resources strongly come into play.

When you’re attracting visitors via blog posts, the best CTA for B2B, is another related resource. Ideally you want this resource to have a landing page where they fill out their information. Related sources like eBooks, white papers, webinar signups, newsletter signups, etc. can help keep those qualified visitors engaged on your site. This will lead to an increased volume of leads and increased visitor duration.

Social media is so important! Yes, even for B2B marketing. Specifically, LinkedIn which is a lead generating machine for B2B marketing. You want to be posting AT LEAST 20 times per month because it’ll increase the overall visibility of your company page by posting more frequently. If you don’t have a huge following, promote posts that are important such as your eBooks and blog posts. This can help increase engagement which also increases your content and profile visibility. Make sure you’re targeting your buyer persona when engaging and posting here.

Email Marketing and Marketing Automation

This is the final piece to the puzzle. Now that you’ve done the work to attract the right leads with your SEO, content marketing, and social media, you need to convert them and retain them. Email marketing and marketing automation play a huge role in this.

Here’s how it works. Someone fills out the form for an eBook on your website or blog. Upon request, you send an automated email with the link to the eBook and a friendly welcome. Now that you know what this lead is interested in (based off the content), you can gear your email marketing to be targeted to their needs. For instance, the lead downloads an eBook about “What a Website Needs to Be SEO Friendly”. You’re not going to email them about social media. You’re going to continue sending emails with case studies, webinars, other eBooks that are related to website design and SEO. This is what keeps them engaged and where marketing automation is so crucial because you’re staying in front of the potential buyer.

After a series of engagement has occurred, then it’s time to email them personally and ask to set up a call to go over their needs. If they accept, that’s a qualified lead that should now begin going through your sales process. Click here for tips on Effectively Selling SEO.

Why This is the Most Effective B2B Marketing Solution

In terms of B2B marketing, the ultimate goal is building relationships. Whether that’s with other companies or individuals with specialties, you need to know people to get the business. One of the best ways to get to know new people is by engaging with them on the internet. There’s only so many people you can meet in your city at a conference… With the internet, you can pinpoint your target demographic, connect with knowledgeable individuals, and educate them without pushing them to buy your product or service. Pulling them into conversation instead of bombarding them with cold calls and annoying ads is how you get people’s attention in today’s world.

Inbound marketing is effective for small and large businesses. It’s where technology, creativity, and knowledge come together. Those powers can go a long way and help effectively build your brand and quantify leads online.

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5 Reasons to Hire a Website Marketing Company

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website marketing
If you’re a business, you probably want potential customers to find you online. By having more online impressions, it increases your business’s chance of accumulating quality leads without having to cold call. This is especially important for businesses who sell their products solely online.

According to Forrester Research, US consumers will spend approximately $327 billion online by 2016. Don’t be that company that falls behind!

Having a website marketing company can bring so many advantages for businesses who are struggling to increase their online visibility. Learn why:

1. You Have An Expert’s Touch

Have you ever shopped online or done online research and come across a website that looked hoaky and unprofessional? Do you trust those websites? If it looks hoaky on the outside, how can you trust that your information is secure and that the product or service is high quality?

Does your website follow all of the best practices and look professional? If not, you could be losing out on a lot of business. Having an expert design and development for your website is crucial. Design experts know what’s fresh. Development experts know how to secure your database and maintain your shopping cart and website to prevent security threats and downtime. Having the expert’s touch will help create that visually appealing and fully functional website you need.

2. You Have More Time to Focus on Your Business

By hiring a website marketing company, you have more time to focus on what’s important: your business. Let the marketing experts worry about the marketing, while you focus on your business strategy, maintaining your staff, and financial obligations. This will provide ease of mind knowing that your business marketing is in good hands.

3. More Cost-Effective Than Having an In-House Marketing Team

This is a no brainer. You can save thousands of dollars by hiring a marketing firm versus an in-house marketing team. Think about the salaries. To hire a Marketing Director alone is a big cost to cover. That’s just part of the team. This also doesn’t include the hard costs that go into marketing and advertising either.

For website marketing, you would also need a Website Developer, Graphic Designer, Social Media Manager, Search Engine Marketing Professional, and more. Don’t rely on someone who says they can do it all because it won’t be as quality of work as an entire company that specializes in all of the services and focuses each one individually.

4. You Have Access to SEO Professionals

Every website needs optimization in order to be found by search engines and easily navigated by users. It can be difficult to find people who understand search engine optimization (SEO), and the strategy that goes behind building your website rankings. This takes knowledge and someone who dedicates their time to SEO strategies and keeping up-to-date with the latest Google algorithm updates. By having a dedicated website marketing firm, you can feel more comfortable knowing that your website is in good hands and you have a better chance of capturing more qualified traffic. Be careful though! There are a lot of companies out there that still practice “bad” SEO techniques that can get you penalized in Google. Here are some important services to look for that fall under the category of good practices today:

  • Keyword research: no matter what type of marketing you are buying into, you need to know your important key phrases.
  • Landing page optimization (LPO): optimizing your website for better conversions.
  • On-page SEO: optimizing your website for better search engine visibility.
  • Content marketing (such as: blogging, article writing, press release writing, and website content writing): look for SEO and LPO friendly content for your marketing strategies.
  • Custom link strategies: links still matter, but they need to be relevant and have authority. Don’t buy into mass directory submission and low quality microsites as these can get your site penalized.
  • Social media management: to increase your brand visibility and referral traffic.
  • Local optimization: to help your local key phrases get better organic placement.
  • Monthly reporting: Any legitimate marketing company should provide you with a full monthly report of all work performed and key performance indications (KPI’s).

5. Constant Education of Website Marketing

By investing in a website marketing company, your business will not only gain more online exposure and sales, but you and your staff will constantly be educated with the latest online marketing trends. Since this industry is constantly evolving, the agency that you choose to partner with should be educating you as you go with the evolving trends. Not only will you be educated, but your campaign will also evolve and change as the industry changes.

Summary

Don’t be that company that falls behind. We can’t stress this enough. If your business doesn’t have a website marketing strategy or hasn’t hired a website marketing company, you’re already way behind and your competitors are most likely already getting ahead by spending hundreds or thousands on marketing to their website. Technology is our future, and the internet has an endless amount of opportunities for any business to grow.

Print (like the Yellow Pages) is dead. The Internet is now.

If you need help with your website marketing, contact us today! We have professionals standing by waiting to help grow your business online.

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Why Keyword Ranking Reports are Dead

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keyword ranking report

You know how SEO goes. First, you start with your keyword research. Then, you start building a bunch of links, produce content, and get people sharing your information on social media.

You check those keyword ranking reports every month, and hope for significant change every 6 months or so.

Now, though, that’s not the way you measure success anymore!

And the good news is that even though this might be what you’re used to seeing, there are much better ways to measure the effectiveness of your SEO. First, let’s cover why keyword ranking reports are meaningless:

1. Modern search results are personalized. If you have a browser with cookies and a browsing history, which everyone does, know that Google uses a bot to examine these and serve up search results. Google also searches based on your location. Finally, it’s also more likely to return results to you based on content written by people who know you in various social media accounts.

It’s very rare that two searchers see the exact same results when entering in the same keyword.

2. Other keywords could be bringing you more relevant traffic. SEO pros can check this in Google Webmaster tools. Just go to “Search Traffic” and then “Search Queries” to see what terms you’re showing up for, and how often people click through to your website. And yes, you optimize your site for specific keywords, but every word on your site is a keyword. You can’t track them all, so which ones do you track?

3. Rankings don’t necessarily bring you sales. You can rank highly for all sorts of keywords. But there’s no point in doing so unless they’re the most profitable ones available. There’s countless stories of companies ranking highly for search terms that drive traffic, but very little sales.

Which SEO Metrics Should You Track?

That’s highly dependent upon the company and the goal of SEO. For most smaller businesses, you want to invest a couple thousand bucks per month, and then get a return several times that, right?

So, track the one that makes the most sense for every company: sales.

It can be somewhat tricky to do, and it does require some effort on your part. Your SEO company can track the number of contacts you get through your contact form. However, it’s up to you to know the source of the lead, and whether that lead turned into a customer or not.

You should also track the same for the phone calls you get through your website. It’s as easy as getting a separate phone number that you post online for people to call.

Finally, you do what any good small business owner does – crunch the numbers. Calculate the average lifetime revenue and net profit you make per customer. Total the number up for the year and compare it to your annual SEO costs.

Voilà, now you know the true value of your SEO efforts! Remember, too, that it’s hard to track all the sales. For example, what if someone’s been reading your blog for months and they know the phone number that’s not posted online? Or, what if someone who bought from you online referred a friend or family member?

SEO, in part, is responsible for those sales too.

In any event, you can find the obvious, direct sales and easily measure the effectiveness of your SEO campaigns.

What are your thoughts on keyword rankings reports? Do you still use them? If so, what’s your methodology on the effectiveness of these reports? Let us know in the comments below!

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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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5 Website Metrics You Absolutely Have to Track

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Google Analytics Online marketers have a notorious (and unfortunate) reputation for not being able to concretely demonstrate the ROI of the services they provide. This statement holds true even with sophisticated marketing, tracking and analytical tools because it can be very difficult to determine where sales come from.

For example, if someone reads your blog for 6 months and then suddenly decides to give you a call, how do you attribute all revenue generated from this client to your internet marketing efforts?  If you ask them about what convinced them to work with you, will they simply say “the blog?”. Probably not. Besides, how did they find your blog in the first place?

Even though you can’t always precisely track your website and marketing ROI, you can track some very important metrics which tell you how successful your marketing efforts are and how well your website is converting.

Here are 5 of the TOP Google Analytics metrics we recommend you track:

1.      Bounce Rate

This metric measures how many people view only one page on your website and then leave.  A fair to good rate is somewhere between 40 – 60%. If your rate is any higher than 60%, your page (or ad copy) likely isn’t resonating with your visitors well. Look for low bounce rate pages and compare them to pages with high bounce rates to evaluate the differences. Once you’ve identified the “bad” pages you can work on the headline, copy, images, etc. and improve the content there for a better user experience, which should lead to lower bounce rates.

2.      Conversion Rate

Your conversion rate measures how many people took the desired action on a particular page, or perhaps across your entire website. For example, conversions could be the number of people who download a free report, contact you using your online form, subscribe to a newsletter or purchase a certain product. If your website has low conversion rates, you know that the offer isn’t compelling enough or that the ad/organic keyword they clicked through from wasn’t relevant enough to the goal of the page. Make sure your keyword strategy, ad copy and website information match for improved conversion rates. And don’t forget to add a clear, compelling call to action on EVERY page of your website.

3.      Traffic Sources

By tracking where you traffic is coming from, you can better understand how successful your organic marketing, PPC campaigns, content strategies and/or social media efforts have been. Google Analytics can make it difficult to understand which exact keywords drive traffic to your website, but you can at least get an overall picture of where your traffic is coming from (referral sites, social, organic, paid, etc.). If you tie your traffic sources to leads and conversions, you can really nail down exactly where you should be spending your marketing dollars and in house efforts for a better ROI.

4.      Keywords

It’s not so easy to rank organically for specific keywords anymore, but it’s still important to track them to get a decent gauge of which keywords not only drive targeted traffic – but traffic that converts! Another way to analyze keywords is to look at how many people click through on your search listing for each keyword (click through rates). This tells you how relevant your search listing is compared to what people are searching for. You’ll be able to see which keywords convert the best, and then you can reasonably surmise additional variations of those keywords to pursue in your future internet marketing efforts. You can also try different meta titles and descriptions to help you identify which keywords and benefits get you a better click through rate.

5.      Visitors

By examining the total number of visitors to your website, you can start to track month over month increases. We recommend diving deeper into this metric and looking at overall visitor’s verses unique visitors. If your goal is to drive NEW traffic each month, it’s more important to have unique visitors than repeats. However, the number of visits – unique or not – is secondary to conversions. Ultimately the most important metric is your website conversion rate. If you only get a small amount of traffic but most of it converts, then you are on the right track.

Happy Tracking!

This is really only scratching the surface of Google Analytics and tracking important metrics, but if you can nail down these metrics then you can rest assured you have at least begun to understand your SEO and marketing campaigns and how effective they are in helping your website convert.

Of course we recommend hiring a professional SEO firm if you are struggling with website traffic and conversions… oh, and guess what? That’s what we do best. Just give us a call if you need help: 800.871.4130.

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). 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 focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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Top 5 Benefits of a Website Audit

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Website Audit

What do you think of when you first hear the word “audit?”. For most people in the business world, this word conjures up powerful fears because many times audits are not a good thing (if you have ever received a letter from the IRS in the mail, you know exactly what I am talking about… *gulp*).

However, in this case, performing an audit of your website and online brand is a very good thing and essential in developing a solid website and marketing strategy.

Think of it this way – whenever you fine-tune a process at your business, you’re technically auditing it in order to address the issues and improve its performance.

The same idea applies to your website, which if it isn’t already, soon might just be your main source of business.

Benefits of a Website Audit

If you have an internet marketing company audit your website, you can (or should) expect at the bare minimum to evaluate and suggest recommendations to improve the following:

1) Conversion Rates (AKA “Sales”)

Let’s face it; this is what you want any internal audit you perform to do, right?  A website audit should examine your top landing pages and their design, content and calls-to-action to ensure they maximize conversions. It’s not a simple process – it can take months of testing and tracking to figure out what really works for your website. However, through strategic planning and implementation, an audit should lead you to increased conversions for a higher ROI on your marketing dollars.

2) Better SEO

SEO has changed drastically in recent years. Google actually makes about 500 changes to its algorithm per year (whoa!). What works now will likely be much different than what works next year, or even next month for that matter. Good SEO always focuses on providing the best user experience first and pleasing the search engines second. Focusing on users first also protects you from constantly analyzing every last detail of your SEO. Just remember, Google wants to serve up the very best websites. If your user experience sucks, your bounce rates and repeat visitors will be low and that is data Google will use against you. A good website audit will evaluate your SEO and how it overlaps with your user experience so you can find a good balance that makes your users AND Google happy.

3) Enhanced Usability

The design and functionality of your website is limited only by your imagination (and the team of experts you hire to execute your ideas). However, an overly complicated design, busy web pages and too much information are actually bad for your site. If your website doesn’t tell your visitors they are in the right place in a clear and concise way, they will leave quickly – and likely never visit again. A website audit can help you nail down the areas of your site that should be simplified, so you can determine what structure, content and function works best for your users.

4) Stronger Content

A technical website audit will check things such as bounce rates, time on site, page views, etc. – which are extremely important areas to improve upon for better search engine indexing. However, people AND search engines come back to your website repeatedly because of the quality of the content you have to offer. Auditing your content helps you understand which types of content they like, as well as how they like to view it (articles, images, video etc…). An audit can help you decide on a solid content strategy for your website and blog that will focus on what your users want specifically – and happy users in turn lead to better organic rankings with the search engines.

5) Improved Organic Search Visibility

In order to increase your search engine rankings you have to first understand what you want to rank for. Good organic search rankings start with a solid keyword strategy. Once you understand your market and competition, you can develop an on-page SEO plan which will integrate your target keywords into specific areas of the content and code of your website. Google and the other search engines determine what your website should rank for based off of the content and on-page optimization of your website. If you don’t tell them what you are an authority for, how will they know what terms to serve you up for? A website audit should include keyword discovery and research which should then be integrated into your on-page SEO and off-site website marketing.

If You Haven’t Had One in a While (or ever) Now is the Time for a Website Audit

If you haven’t had a brand or website SEO audit in the last year, now is the time! Yesterday’s search environment is much different than today’s and even relatively minor changes can have a large impact on your site’s search performance and conversions.

Click here to find out more about the Eminent SEO audit services, or better yet, give us a call at 1.800.871.4130… we are waiting to help you improve your website conversions.

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). 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 focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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Why Tracking Your Organic Search Rankings Will Drive You Insane

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Anyone who uses SEO techniques to increase their organic search engine visibility and traffic should be measuring their results. However, HOW you measure and WHAT you measure should depend on your specific business goals.Organic Rankings

SEO is tricky stuff, especially with Google and their insane amount of algorithm updates and data refreshes. SEO techniques that used to work a few years ago are practically obsolete now. You really need to perfect your marketing strategies if you expect to make money online. It’s no longer about mass quantity. Everything is about quality…. especially when it comes to traffic and leads. It’s too time consuming and costly to simply target anything and everything relevant to your business. It’s better to research and test very specific topics so you can better understand your user behaviors and market to your future prospects more precisely.

I mean, who cares how much traffic you get to your site if none of it converts!

It’s easy to get caught up in your website rankings and traffic, but the real number you should care about is your bottom line!

If your marketing campaigns are resulting in conversions, it shouldn’t matter where you rank specially for any one particular keyword phrase on any given day. Besides, rankings LIE!

Let me break it down for you:

Your location matters.

Go to Google right now and type in something general, like “SEO”. I’m in Mesa Arizona. Guess what I see? Arizona SEO firms. Not because they are the top SEO sites in the world, but because I am searching from an IP in Arizona! The search engines aren’t stupid. They know where you are and they are giving you results based off of your current physical location. This is especially apparent when you search for something local, like a restaurant or a daycare. Google and Bing want to give you local results as much as possible, and you will see varied organics depending on where you are when you search.

Note: This is why having a Google + Local Map and a Bing Map is so important for any business that wants local, geo-targeted traffic!

Your web browsing history matters.

You’ve heard it before, websites and search engines store cookies in your browsers and use this data to determine what they should serve you. When you visit a website frequently, Google will start to assume you want to see that site in your search results, and the site will start to appear higher when you search organically.

If you want “real” organic results, you can clear your web history and cookies or try using a Proxy server to search instead.

Personalized results are influenced by social signals.

Bing is integrated with Facebook, so when you are logged in to both, guess what you see when you search? If you search for a topic related to something your Facebook friends have liked, shared, or otherwise recommended, you will see it in your organic Bing results.

The same thing goes for Google. Google wants you to be logged in at all times, encouraging you to use their free services for almost everything you do. When you are logged in to your Google + account, anyone with you in their circles will see your +1 recommendations in their organic results.

Sure, you can log out and your results will change, but many people don’t even realize they are logged in and therefore social indicators are heavily influencing search.

Technical aspects play a huge role.

Google has hundreds of data centers, when you query Google (or Bing) you are pulling data from one of hundreds of data centers that houses information. You could be searching for the same thing I am from across the room or across the country and see different results.

Also, websites can re-index day to day; many variables can change the way Google decides to index and display a site at any given moment. A site can add content, change content, remove pages, add pages, update their on-page SEO, gain new links, loose links, etc etc. All of these factors play a role in how Google will choose to rank a site and it can vary day by day.

Bottom Line:

If you Google yourself (your business, your keywords, your brand) too much, you are asking for an anxiety attack! Of course you want to know IF you are ranking, but you will know how well you are doing when you look at your organic and referral traffic. If your analytics show traffic is coming from the engines, you know you are ranking. You don’t need a rankings report to tell you that!

Remember, you need to track traffic (where it’s coming from – source and keyword) and how that correlates with conversions. If you are investing marketing dollars, you need to know how that money translates into sales.

Don’t drive yourself insane measuring results that don’t matter. Focus on traffic and sales and let your marketing team worry about the rest.

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). 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 focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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Website Analytics Audit: 5 Things You Should Know About Your Business Website

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Website Analytics Audit

If you are considering a new marketing campaign for your business website, there are several important elements you should look at. I typically suggest using a website checklist to help you narrow down the most important elements for your needs specifically. Custom marketing strategies are essential to a successful campaign, and a custom solution can only be delivered by auditing the proper areas first.

Although it’s important to look at the bigger picture, if your budget is limited and you want to focus on the most important things first.

5 Things You Should Absolutely Include in Your Website Analytics Audit:

1)      Where your traffic is coming from (source)

Once you understand where your traffic is coming from, you can better understand where you should be spending your marketing dollars. Sometimes that means following each conversion back to the source it came from and then generating a list of top sources to invest into because they convert the best. Google Analytics will allow you to see what percentage of your overall traffic is coming from organic search engines, referral sites, direct hits and paid search.

2)      What keywords people are using to find you

Although Google blocks a fair amount of your keyword traffic, it’s good to take a look at what keywords are driving traffic to your site. Just as you should follow your conversions back to your traffic source, you should also track your conversions back to the keyword used to find you. If you know what people are searching for, you can use those keywords more in your website optimization and off site marketing. It’s also good to know what isn’t converting so you don’t waste your budget on keywords and techniques that don’t covert.

3)      What pages your traffic is landing on

When you know what keywords are leading traffic to specific pages to your site, you can focus on making those pages more optimized for conversions. By incorporating those keywords into the on-page SEO, content and calls to action, you can increase your conversions by really improving the user experience by giving them exactly what they are looking for.

4)     Top socially shared content

If you are blogging and you don’t already have social sharing built in to your posts INSTALL NOW! Your blog should be ON your website and you should track what content is getting the best visibility and social shares. If you are blogging regularly, you should be covering a number of target keywords in your content and individual post optimization. Once you see a particular type of blog getting a lot of traffic and shares, you know where you should focus more of your efforts.

5)     Conversion channels – how well your website is converting

If you have implemented a solid keyword strategy, your website is ranking but your traffic isn’t converting, there might be a problem with your website. A lot of people blame marketing but the truth is marketing can drive traffic to your site, but if  your website is outdated, not clear on what to do or hard to navigate, your visitors will try another site instead. If your website sucks, people know there are 1000’s of others to check out instead. Keep your users there by evaluating your conversion channel and developing a strategy to give the traffic exactly what they need to convert.

BONUS: Know your goals, short and long term

You’d be surprised how many SEO clients look for rankings and traffic, but they have no idea how that translates into sales and profit!

You need to understand what you can realistically expect from your marketing dollars so that your goals make sense for your budget. You should start with what you can afford and then once you reach your initial goals, reinvest so you can go after bigger ones! If you are not meeting your short term goals in the expected time frame, you might want to reevaluate what you are doing and adjust your strategies.

Final Thoughts:

SEO and online marketing is all about testing. You need to develop a strategy based off of your initial research, but when you implement a strategy you have to watch it and adjust. It can take several months to get your strategy just right depending on a number of variables. Before you make major adjustments, look at how much traffic is coming in – you should ensure you have collected enough data to analyze your marketing efforts properly.

Analyze, test, analyze again, adjust – that is the KEY to a successful marketing campaign.

If you want help with a website audit, we have a range of custom audits we can perform for you…

Just call us at 1.800.871.4130 or send us a note here

Avatar for Jenny Stradling

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). 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 focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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