Friday, February 27, 2015

5 Steps to Driving More Calls From Mobile Search

According to research from Cisco, the number of mobile-connected devices exceeded the world’s population in 2014. Last year was also the first year that mobile app traffic outpaced PC Internet usage. People around the world are becoming increasingly reliant on their smartphones for information, and as a result, mobile has become an extremely important topic for digital media.
It’s no surprise that marketers are adding click-to-call functionality to their mobile campaigns. Analysis from Convince and Convert and iAcquire points out that mobile conversion rates, at 70 percent, are three times higher than they are on desktops and laptops. The trend makes sense — mobile users are often looking for something "in the moment" with a very specific search intent.
What’s even more powerful about this trend is what this data isn’t telling you — the fact that mobile audiences are doing more than just requesting additional information or filling out forms online. They’re actually dialing directly to learn more about and transact with the businesses they’re researching. In late 2013, Google reported that 70 percent of mobile searchers have used click-to-call directly from search results.
It goes without saying that click-to-call is critical to the growing mobile marketing ecosystem. Here are five ways to make the most out of the opportunity and forge stronger customer connections.

1. Identify Your Highest Converting Keywords and Conversions

When people learn about your brand through a mobile search ad, they are likely looking to address a very specific need. For that reason, some keywords, ad groups, or campaigns may drive higher conversions than others.
These conversion events are measurable through call tracking and conversation analytics. Call tracking enables marketers to see the online and mobile interactions that are prompting people to pick up the phone, while call intelligence technologies can tell marketers exactly what's happening on the phone — for instance, marketers can track key phrases like "let’s get started," "credit card number," or "order confirmation number."

2. Target Ad Messaging to Very Specific Stages of the Conversion Funnel

Audiences who are looking to learn more about a product or service may not respond well to aggressive messaging to "buy now." For that reason, they may be hesitant to tap the click-to-call button — for fear that they’ll face an aggressive sales pitch.
For early-funnel keywords, incorporate messaging that the "call" button is an opportunity to ask questions and learn more. For late-funnel keywords, encourage audiences to call in and transact.

3. Experiment With Bid Modifiers

You can modify your search campaigns around time of day, location, and device to target audiences who are most likely to call. You can start by looking at Google AdWords call analytics and your company’s call tracking software to identify correlations between time of day and conversion events. Then, adjust your campaign settings to optimize campaigns to drive calls during these times.
Most importantly, make sure that you only allow calls during your business hours. Don’t waste your valuable advertising dollars by optimizing calls for times that you’re not open.

4. Create Screeners to Qualify Calls

More calls aren’t always better. With increased call volume comes quality challenges, so you’ll need to do more than put a phone number on your mobile landing page and in your ads — you may need to filter your calls before they reach a sales rep.
Marketers should identify parameters that indicate quality calls and use call tracking technologies to put those parameters in place. Examples include customer location, income, or age for B2C brands as well as company size and type for B2B brands. You can even set filters to sort new and repeat calls so that you don’t waste your sales agent’s time on customer service questions. Put filtering options in place to make sure that you’re working with top-notch leads.

5. A/B Test Your Calls-to-Action (CTAs)

To drive conversions, your marketing messages need to reach the right audiences at the right times in their buying journeys. For that reason, it is important to test layout and messaging options for your mobile CTAs, including your click-to-call buttons. This experimentation process will be as important to your mobile landing strategy as it is to your desktop campaigns. Here are some example A/B tests worth trying:
  • Try including a phone icon on the bottom of your page
  • Experiment messaging around your click-to-call button such as "call to speak to a live agent" vs. "call to get a free quote."
  • Test putting your call center or business hours next to the phone number
There are a few important ways that you can test click-to-call features on campaigns. Google AdWords, through call extensions on ads, provides a number of features to connect online audiences with information faster — directly from the search results page. Call buttons on landing pages are another channel that can help mobile audiences reach you after clicking on an ad and arriving on your site.
The more you learn about your customers’ needs and Web traffic patterns, the better positioned you’ll be to improve calls and conversions. Focus on questions that your audience is likely to ask "in the moment." This perspective will help you connect them to the information that they need, faster.

Final Thoughts

The best way to drive more calls is to develop a thorough understanding of your company’s unique conversion funnel. Pay attention to the paths that audiences are taking to become buyers — respond to their exact in-the-moment needs to learn more or to make a direct purchase. This direct alignment will be your ultimate conversion driver.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why the Stock Market and Personalization Will Drive the Future of Search

Lately we’ve spent a lot of time internally and with our clients talking about the future of search. When you look at how Google got beat up by the stock market for its "slowing results" and Facebook shows more than 70 percent of its revenue coming from mobile, you start to think about how ripe for disruption mobile search really is. Here are three arguments that point toward the future of search being vastly different than it is today and what it might look like.

Stock Market Pressure

Market Impact

Google’s 2014 earnings showed a 6 percent decrease in cost per click year-over-year. This caused the stock to tumble despite the fact that revenue increased by $2 billion quarter-over-quarter. Facebook’s market share driven by mobile is up to about 21 percent, according to eMarketer. The market is looking for Google’s core product to continue to grow, and while search volume is up the revenue per search is down mostly due to lower CPCs in mobile and the fact that brands are struggling to understand the business impact of mobile search. Our data shows that given lower CPCs that it would take about three clicks on mobile for every one click on desktop for Google to be able to monetize those searches at the same rate.
indexed-data

How This Will Impact the Future

The future will need to connect online and offline impact. The stock market pressure that Twitter, Google, Facebook, Pandora, and other publicly traded stocks face will require them to better understand the value of the mobile market place, with the goal of helping advertisers become able to demonstrate the impact of mobile and allocate funds. There are new vendors like Placed, Datalogix, Adometry, and others popping up all over to help solve this question.

Personalization

Consumer habits have started to shift away from just using Google. Less than 50 percent of consumer time is spent on search engines on mobile devices. Also, now that most browsers share information in the cloud users have access to their preferences and search history across devices. Additionally, with the personal nature of mobile phones there is a unique user "fingerprint" that makes each phone yours. This includes location, contacts, social networks, and app use that helps inform what answer you might be looking for and what source of information will best provide it to you. For example, if you are looking for a restaurant, you might previously have to search on a desktop for Italian restaurant in downtown Cleveland. Now you can voice search "Italian restaurant" and your phone will quickly know that you use Yelp, your contacts all really like Mario’s, and you are within 2 miles of Mario’s and provide you with that recommendation. For someone else who uses OpenTable or Facebook, that recommendation and result would be completely different, but still equally as personalized.
emarketer-browseruse

How This Will Impact the Future

Ten blue links as a search result simply won’t do. Even with Remarketing List Ads for search the results you receive have still not gone far enough to satisfy the personal results that consumers are coming to expect. Search will need to include an understanding of you as a person and how you interact based on context clues (time of day, location, weather, etc…). These data points will help drive the change that consumers are beginning to expect.

Conclusion

Google Now is a great example of how the very idea of searching being reactive to a user query and moving toward providing data is a great example of the future possibilities. It is also possible we don’t even know this app or search provider today. Look at the valuations of companies that literally popped out of the blue - Snapchat, Instagram, Uber, Pinterest, etc… Companies are being built from the ground up in consumer behavior and data. This space is ripe for the same type of disruption and the future of search will be disruptive, predictive, and personalised.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

11 SEO Tactics You Need to Know in 2015

As search engines continue to evolve, marketers must improve their skills to keep up. According to reports 70 percent of the links search users click are from SEO. Also, inbound leads (i.e. SEO) cost 61 percent less than outbound leads (i.e. cold calling).
SEO has a better return on investment (ROI) as well. "SEO leads have a 14.6 percent close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7 percent close rate," according to the same report.
Now that you know SEO is the way to go, here are 11 SEO tactics that you need to know in 2015:

1. Creating Incredible Content That Earns Links

Even after all of the changes with the search engine algorithms, inbound SEO links are still the biggest influence for search engines. This is unlikely to change. On the other hand, other methods of link acquisition have changed. Earning a link from a high-quality, relevant website will not only help with your SEO but also with referral traffic, which can lead to more sales and brand exposure. Creating incredible content that people will want to share is still the best way to earn links.

2. Co-Citation Links

Every time a search engine finds your website next to your competitors, it tells them that your company is in a related niche. To get co-citation links, do a search for "best" or "top 10" items in your niche.
Example: top 10 blue widgets
If you do this search and don’t find your business in the results, get in touch with the publisher and ask that your company be added to the list. Be prepared to justify why your company should be included and where appropriate, give them a summary to go along with a link.

3. Editorial Links

Editorial links can be some of the most powerful for SEO because they come from other publications in your niche mentioning your company. They can also come from thought leadership guest posts that you write and get published on third-party sites.
The easiest way to get editorial links is to create outstanding content that people will want to share with their readers. Another way is to guest post on a high-quality site that is in your niche. Be prepared to create incredible content that may be heavily scrutinized before publishing.
Interviews are another way to get editorial links.
As part of the interview, you should be allowed to cite your work in your responses. This can lead to even more backlinks and traffic.

4. The Broken Link-Building Method

Here’s another white-hat link-building strategy that can be quite effective. In this case, you’re actually helping publishers fix broken links, which can be helpful to their readers. However, this only works if your content is good enough to replace the lost content.
To do the broken link-building method, you must find broken links on a site that is relevant to your niche. You then contact the webmaster with the broken link and recommend your site as an alternative to the broken link. To find out more, you can read the broken link-building Bible at the Moz blog.

5. Link Reclamation

Link reclamation can help you get fresh links by finding broken links to your site and having the publisher fix them.
Examples:
  • Find brand mentions about your site and ask the publisher to add a link
  • Find places where your content has been used without attribution (places where people have used your post or infographics without giving you credit) and request a link from the person
According to Kristi Hines with kristihines.com, "A lot of people think of link reclamation as just 301'ing pages they have moved that still have a lot of great backlinks. But I like to think of reclamation as more than that. I like to think of it as not just reclaiming, but claiming links you deserve."
In order to make this automated, you can set up a Google Alert to email you whenever your company’s brand is mentioned. You can then check that page to find out if they link to your site.

6. Link Outreach

Link outreach is a bit "old school" but can still be quite powerful. To do this, find a website that is relevant to yours and get their contact information from the site. Send them an email or call and politely ask them for link. This works better if the site has a slightly different business than yours but may share a common audience.

7. Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis is nothing new, and companies have been researching their competitor’s links for years. However, by looking at the competitor’s backlinks and manually reviewing which links are worth having, you can then perform a link outreach and try to get a link from the same referring site.

8. Focus on ROI Instead of Keyword Rankings

While we all enjoy seeing the keywords rank well in the search engines, this doesn’t necessarily mean your SEO campaign is successful. It’s possible to rank number one for many keywords that have no real ROI. Instead, you should focus on metrics that bring conversions.

9. Create an SEO Strategy That Maps to an Audience

Over the past few years, we’ve lost most of the keyword data in Google Analytics and other tools. This has required marketers to change from traditional methods of SEO to create new ways of segmenting their audiences.
In order to do this we must find new keywords to focus on, new ways to approach neighboring markets, and determine where our competition is succeeding with SEO and how you can do it better.
The days of stuffing keywords into bad content and having it rank are long gone. Now your content needs to focus on your target persona and your keywords need to flow within the content. This is why it’s so important that content and SEO be tied closely together.

10. Optimize for Yahoo, Bing, and Others

Search engines like Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo may slowly take a bigger piece of Google’s pie in 2015. Yahoo is now the default search engine for Firefox. Safari had a deal with Google, which is supposed to end in 2015, and Yahoo and Bing are both trying to become the default search engine for the browser.
As other search engines become the default Web browsers instead of Google, it makes sense to optimize for those search engines as well.

11. Mobile SEO

Mobile is becoming more popular every year. Every website should have a mobile marketing strategy for 2015 and beyond.
"May [2014] turned out to be a banner month for mobile as it delivered on some huge milestones which underscored just how impressive the medium’s ascendance has been in the past few years. Mobile platforms – smartphones and tablets – combined to account for 60 percent of total digital media time spent, up from 50 percent a year ago," says comScore.
Mobile should be a core part of any SEO plan in 2015. However, you must be cautious as configuration errors caused a 68 percent loss of traffic, according to BrightEdge.
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Of Site Moves and Search

Site moves are rarely a one-strategy-fits-all notion. Different types of changes to different parts of a website, or multiple websites for that matter, demand different plans in order to keep the search referrals flowing and deliver a consistently positive brand experience for the searcher.
How can you be certain that you are making the best recommendations to optimize search results for your next site move? Consider what questions need to be asked and answered before you predict the sky will fall if IT cannot implement one-to-one URL permanent (301) redirects.
All you need to know in order to produce a successful site move in the search engines is to understand what's changing, when, and most importantly why?

Size-Up the Site Move

Does your site move include transferring all current content to a new domain? Or do you intend to move away from a subdomain-based architecture in favor of directories, files, and sub-folders? Are you relocating content from divergent branded domains into a mother ship-like single-site structure? Is old content being retired and replaced with new content? Are you dealing with a platform upgrade or simply migrating from a non-secure server to a secure certificate environment?
Once you understand what is moving where, you can begin to consider which best practices to apply to your site move. For example, top-level domain moves with same-URL structures are relatively easy to complete with server side redirects. There are some nuances to coding the regular expressions depending on the platform that fuels the site, but it's easy enough to work with IT and map the URLs into simplified patters to complete the site move.
If well executed, disruptions to your search referred traffic will be nominal, especially if you are set to closely monitor webmaster tools during the transition. You wouldn’t want to tax a server by implementing one-to-one permanent redirects for this type of move. Doing so could slow delivery speeds dramatically and do far more harm, than good in the search engines.
Once the content is relocated at its new home, be sure to take care of all the feeds and XML sitemaps that need to be updated with the new Web address. This is where a checklist can come in handy to make certain all your digital marketing efforts are sending the same signals across local, mobile, and vertical search engines, too. If you are rebranding or renaming some products or services, it’s a good idea to up your paid search spend to make up for any gaps in organic performance during this time.

Big Opportunities for Small Changes

On the other end of the scale of site moves, retiring a few pages and replacing the old content with new media needs to take a different tract. Is the old content seasonal, like a Black Friday landing page of gifts for him or her? Or is the content simply stale and needs an update? Are regulatory concerns driving the content update? Each of these small changes could require different tactics to produce optional organic search results.
For example, you might want to implement a temporary redirect (302) for a Black Friday landing page, and suspend internal links that are in place to helped navigate users to the seasonal information during peak use. Doing so will maintain all the inbound link equity to the original URL, keep it live and crawlable, but still provide users with a positive search referral experience. When you reconnect the URL to internal site navigation and refresh the content during the next seasonal shift under the same URL year after year, you produce the best experience possible results for search engines and site visitors alike.
If you are just refreshing stale content with new language and imagery, but have to create new URLs due to constraints of your content management system (CMS), then one-to-one permanent redirects usually provide the best solution for keeping everyone happy during this type of site move.
Once again, it is best to complement this type of site move with updated sitemaps, site navigation, and feeds in order to produce optimal results in a short period of time. Special considerations will need to be made for language, location, or mobile nuances. If the content happens to be a landing page for paid search, you will also need to consider how your quality score might be affected, too.

Players and the Playbook

Even the smallest site move can have big ramifications for search referral traffic. The greatest challenge to producing a successful site move is to create a holistic game plan. Information technology, marketing, Web development, corporate communications, paid and natural search players are all specialists on the roster of an average digital team.
While organic search expertise will have a key role in developing the playbook, ultimately it is the execution of the game plan by technology players that determines the outcome of any type of site move. By complementing noteworthy content upgrades with public relations or social outreach, and inflating paid performance plans for the duration of the site move, we arrive at an optimal outcome for everyone on the digital team.
Drawing up a holistic game plan that teams up all of your digital specialists is the best way to produce a successful, integrated result for almost any site move. The playbook and the players might change with the scale of the move, but this type of integrated solution will always win in the end.
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

5 Techniques That May Be Killing Your Website (and SEO)

A common issue today in website development and implementation is that one company sees another company do something they like and they declare it "GOOD!" Then that company copies the first company’s website and then other companies declare it "GOOD!" and copy that company and so on and so forth until soon we have a plethora of badly designed, coded, and/or implemented sites that are a poor experience for users and an even poorer one for SEO valuations. These site issues generally fall into about five specific categories.
So what are the most misunderstood site design and layout techniques that could be killing your website, or at least, your business in terms of traffic and site position?
users-matt-cutts
As Matt would say, "What’s good for the user is good for Google."

Infinite (Endless Scroll)

While no technique is inherently bad, this design method is one of the most overused and misunderstood design techniques on the Web today.
While only truly useful for certain specific user intents, many sites use it with the idea it helps site engagement because visitors don’t have to click. Just give them a stream they will be happy. However, if a user wants to stream that glorious content is dependent on use case. That use case is highly specific and narrowly focused. In fact, when used incorrectly it can potentially hurt your site especially in terms of SEO, usability, and conversion optimization.
So let’s first define what infinite scroll is and how it is best used.
SitePoint defines infinite scroll as:
"A design pattern where content is fetched asynchronously from a database or master file and inserted into the user’s page as they consume the information. This results in a seemingly endless page that continues to load content as the user scrolls towards the bottom."
OK, so now we know what it is, next we need to know, what are the pros and cons of using this method?
infinite-scroll
Pros

  • Pagination: No need to paginate and users get one stream.
  • Clicks: Users do not need to click to read except possibly a load button (always advisable).
  • Fast Access: Quick access to page content especially on mobile and tablet. Just a flick of the fingers.
  • Good for Explorers: Infinite scroll is good for content that is based on exploratory actions and intent. It is also best when it consists of items that the user can easily break down into categorical taxonomies.

    What is that?

    So for example, if you had a site about beer and you wanted to show all your IPAs, infinite scroll would enable the user to browse all items inONE category. The benefits of effect are lost when the user is expected to determine placement of items in the hierarchy.
    It is also good for sites like Facebook and Twitter that display chronological information. These sites have a natural time flow that almost demands infinite scroll. However, they are some of the few sites that use it the way it was intended.
So what are the negative affects of infinite scroll?
"Endless scrolling is not recommended for goal-oriented finding tasks, such as those requiring people to locate specific content or compare options." – Jakob Nielsen
So what does this mean it is not good for people who are goal-oriented searchers? In most cases we are referring to e-commerce, however it could be news sites or basic informational queries. Whenever the use has a specific intended goal bent on item retrieval.
Now what are my drawbacks?
Cons
  • Scrollbar Issues: Breaks the scrollbar, which users rely on to understand the length of the page and how much is between them and the end.
  • Placement Confusion: No way to know where you are in the scroll or page if your users need to leave and come back.
  • Page Speed – SEO Issue: Page weight while Google is leery of fully crawling infinite scroll it will trigger some types of implementations and if it does just how much are you feeding the spider in terms of page weight and response delays.
  • Memory Issues: If you put too much scroll into the page, you are consuming browser memory with each flick of a finger and you can cause browser performance issues.
  • Specificity of Content: Often infinite scroll is used to replace good page and site architecture. It seems to be a very prevalent byproduct of the page design experience. This can cause usability issues, as the content is not categorized in a meaningful and/or consumable fashion way, while also not being specific to the page.
  • Usability – Conversion Issue: Not good for users who need to perform goal-oriented tasks such as locating specific content.
  • Footer Stickiness: Difficult to add a usable footer which for many sites is one of the highly visited portions of the page and will frustrate the user who cannot reach it.
  • Sentiment: This method can be psychologically draining for task-based goals. This experience can make a user feel overwhelmed and associate a negative experience with using your site.

Suggestions?

First make sure you are using infinite scroll for the right page type, user intent, and site goal. Don’t frustrate your users for "cool tech."
If you are merely using it because you think people will read more, the usability studies do not show this to be true if the intent is not matched to the method. I.e. if they are looking at an exploratory user, users will likely report a positive experience (if implemented correctly). However, if used for a task-oriented experience the user is likely to find the use of forever scroll tiresome, disorienting, and unhelpful in assisting the user in locating your content. When a user cannot locate what they are looking for they will often find a site that better meets their needs.
Second if you decide 'YES" this does match my user intent, site, and conversion goals, make sure you have implemented the method and the tracking according to Google’s instructions. If not implemented correctly it will cause SEO issues, which means not being found and not converting visitors.
You can also review the implementation at John Mu’s Demo site here.
Finally, if you do decide to use infinite scroll, don’t make it endless scroll. Put in the proper tracking and when you see where the majority of users who do use it fall off, cut the scroll. A scroll should NEVER be endless. Even Facebook, Twitter, and Google who have legitimate use cases for infinite scroll stop theirs at some point. Learn when to make the cut.

Lazy Loading

Lazy Loading is the latest in a not-so-short list of scripted solutions that cannot be properly spidered by Google for content indexing.

What Is Lazy Loading?

Lazy Loading is when the next part of the page, whether it is images or content, does not load until you interact with that part of the page in a manner that initializes the object in that page to load (example: your content is not visible until you scroll to that part of the page, then it appears).

What Does This Mean for Your Site?

This means your content or images will not be indexed by Google if they are below the load point because Google spiders will not try to interact with your script and load the rest of the page. Since your content or images are not loaded and essentially invisible to the spider, only the visible part of the page is indexed.
This issue can hurt your site in terms of traffic for say Google image search or devaluations by the Google algorithms for thin content, as you do not have enough above the index point to pass muster.
SPECIAL NOTE: Lazy Loaded images will also not load into G+

Suggestions?

Follow this advice from John Mu and Google on how to handle the lazy loading of images and content, however, unless you are in real need of this method the solutions are awkward and clunky and not easy to implement. It would be better to take the age-old instruction to "design out the issue" if possible, rather than be married to something that is going to eat up development time with little value for your users or site.
Design out the issue?
Often the people that design a site or page have little technological experience and design in strictly visual terms i.e. "Is it pretty?" Often these items are very difficult to actually implement at a technical level or a different solution might save 50 percent in development time. So before you approve a design you should have your development and SEO team review the design to see if there are elements that will be complex to implement and can be designed out. Designing out complex implementation issues can save your team a lot in time and resources.

Parallax

Parallax when it is done very well can be, well – cool. Unfortunately it is rarely used in the right context or for the right reasons. This also goes for pages that imitate Parallax.

What Is Parallax?

Parallax scrolling is where background images move by the camera slower than foreground images, creating an illusion of depth. On websites this is when the background and foreground cause the illusion of motion. Also taken from this concept are the pages that are segmented into sections as you move down the page with scrolling motions.

Have You Asked Yourself the Most Important Question About Parallax?

The most important question - why? Why are you choosing this method? If your only reason is it looks cool or you like it, stop and pick another method for displaying your Web content.
This method of Web page design is fraught with implementation and SEO issues that all require workarounds including one URL and inability to find content easily. In addition, it is a very frustrating user experience to have to "stop on a mark" when viewing the content. If you are not able to provide a fluid Parallax experience that makes sense to the user as they go through your site you have wasted a lot of time and effort making it work for little benefit.

Suggestion?

Consider this method very carefully and make sure you have a clearly stated business goal for utilizing this technique. Cool does not impress users for most verticals. They want their info in a nice pleasing design and to get out. Do not put up roadblocks to the user or your SEO effort.

Not Mobile-Friendly

If your site is NOT mobile-friendly, stop what you are doing right now and go make a plan to get it there. This is one of those Come To (Insert person here) moments in your website’s life that if you rely at all on organic search traffic (or even Facebook) has to be fixed or you will lose traffic. Loss of traffic means loss of money, then jobs, then well we all know how that goes, so let’s not think past that.

Is Being Mobile-Friendly That Important?

Over the past two years, Google has been very explicit that sites needed to start taking mobile into account. On January 24, it even released a mobile algorithm that started removing sites from mobile search for not being mobile-friendly. OK maybe not completely gone, but far enough down you would need a ladder and rope to find you.
If your site is not mobile-friendly and generally this means is "responsive," "adaptive," or "responsive/adaptive," and in mobile search you do not see the words "mobile-friendly" next to your listing, you will lose some or all of your rank in Google SERPs, if Google sticks to its guns.
So what is responsive? Adaptive? And responsive-adaptive? When talking about your website? These are techniques that allow your site to be best seen in the desktop and mobile.
  • Responsive: Uses one code set and techniques such as viewports, breakpoints, and CSS "media queries" to make the site render properly in all types of devices by estimating how it will appear on that screen size. It does not use device detection. The issue typically with these sites is proper loading of images into the mobile version and not serving a mobile site to a desktop user who has resized their screen.
  • Adaptive: Design uses device detection and progressive enhancement to adapt the site to the user in a specific manner. The issue is you cannot know all device types and trying to render to as many as exist on the market today could keep a team of developers rather busy.
  • Responsive-Adaptive: Is an excellent technique that uses Responsive design for all your main components, but special scripting for items such as image loads, so you can serve the lightest pages on the mobile surface.
Special Note: Did you get a mobile usability warning in your Google Webmaster Tools? If so, fix the issues immediately. You have been put on notice that your site will not be viewed well as further mobile algorithms are pushed out.

Suggestions?

If you have a Wordpress site most themes today are responsive; if yours is not, find one that is and switch to that. (A lot easier than trying to make a no-responsive WP site work properly) If you have a site that is built outside Wordpress, find someone who is an expert in coding responsive sites and get going. There is no workaround for this anymore as m. sites are not long for the Google Search results.

Hamburger Menus

hamburger-menu
It has become common to remove all menus and load in a "hamburger menu" or sites that are not being displayed in mobile. While mobile users have become more familiar with this menu type on desktops you are hiding what the user can find on your site and adding a click. Neither of these is necessary and in the end can cause user confusion. Where it might be appropriate is in a tools menu where the user is looking for say the mission statement, about us, or a page function. Usability studies do show us that if you want to get maximum clarity for those using your mobile site, add a border and the word menu to your hamburger icon. It helps users pick up on the "information scent" more quickly.

Suggestions?

Don’t use the hamburger icon on your desktop site (except maybe a tools menu), make it clear that it is a menu by adding the word "menu" to your icon in mobile and make sure it is large enough to be easily clicked by tablet and smartphone users.

You Have Been Warned!

Often designers and developers get bored with their work and want to do something new and fun (don’t we all) or CMOs look at a new cool thing on another site and want to add it to their own. While these can sometimes work well for users, they are often roadblocks to meeting their intent and dead stops for your organic SEO efforts. So while some of these can be excellent for the right site, make sure that is why you are using these and not because you think they are cool, hip, or fun.
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Saturday, February 21, 2015

5 Reasons to Ignore SEO

SEO used to be the central pillar in any online marketing campaign. Your website’s search visibility was the sole indicator of online success. Though search visibility is obviously still very important to most businesses, things aren’t as simple or "clear cut" as they used to be.
Online visibility is now about so much more than search. With the dramatic growth of the social Web, and the new ways we can now analyse our traffic and results, should we still be focusing on SEO as a primary marketing avenue? Or is our obsession with search visibility blinding us to other, more useful channels?
This article is about playing devil’s advocate. Of course, I’m not suggesting that you should stop all SEO activity. Rather, I want to highlight the other opportunities that you may be missing that have nothing to do with SEO. Here are my top five:

1. Content

Most marketers approach content creation from a firm SEO standpoint. Each piece of content must have a clear and direct SEO benefit.
Though I do agree that if you are going to create great content you might as well spend some time making sure it’s created in line with SEO best practices, I don’t think SEO should be your primary motivation for creating great content.
One of the most important shifts over the last few years has been from the SEO-centric approach to content to the "user-centric" approach that Google now richly rewards. The brief is simple: create great content. Decide on your topics based on what your readers and customers want to read or watch, not what will help your SEO the most.
If you can always make sure that the first 90 percent of the content creation process is informed solely by your desire to create high-value content for your audience, then at the last minute, implement a few SEO best practices, you’re going to be much better placed than if the content was driven by SEO from the outset.
The main advantage of this approach is that it ensures that you are creating content that will see a high success rate through all your other marketing channels, whether that’s social, email, or paid advertising. Every day the search engines improve their ability to identify the content that their users love. The recent announcement that tweets are going to be appearing in our SERPs (again) shows that this trend is only going to continue. For marketers, the message is clear: create content that your visitors love, and your search visibility will take care of itself.

2. User Behavior

If you’re reading this it’s likely that you already have at least some traffic to your website. Sure, you want more visitors, but is that the most effective way to increase your sales, engagement, and conversions?
More traffic is the sole aim of most online businesses. After all, if you double your traffic, you’ll double your sales, right? Well, maybe. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best use of your time.
In almost all cases, increasing traffic is often more expensive and resource hungry than simply increasing your conversion rate. Let’s say you have 1,000 visitors to your e-commerce site each month through search. Your conversion rate is around 2 percent so you make around 20 sales each month. If you were to heavily invest in SEO and, as a result, increase your search visibility by 100 percent, six to 12 months later you would get 2,000 visitors. Your conversion rate stays the same and you make 40 sales. Though it’s difficult to argue that these results are anything less than a great achievement, there are other ways to increase your sales.
There are so many ways to directly and indirectly increase your conversion rates. Everything from increasing your site speed, improving your Web copy, and improving your site’s mobile user experience to something as simple as the color scheme can have a noticeable and direct impact on your conversion rate. Changing a single word or switching the color of your CTA button can increase the conversion rate on a page by more than 100 percent!
By split testing each of your landing pages you can reliably and consistently increase your conversion rate. If this isn’t something you already do on a regular basis, it’s very likely that there are lots of easy wins that you’ve been ignoring. If you do it right, you can probably increase your conversion rate by as much as 300 percent.
Let’s go back to our example. Rather than using all your resources on SEO and increasing your traffic, let’s say you focus on increasing your on-site conversion rates. By increasing site speed, improving your sales copy, and split testing your CTAs, you manage to increase your conversion rate on your main sales page to 6 percent. Your traffic stays the same (1,000 visitors per month), but you see 60 sales. Now that’s a real result.

3. The Social Web

This is probably the most obvious example of how you can increase your traffic without SEO. The social Web has opened up literally thousands of possible traffic sources. One well-targeted, well-timed post, tweet, or pin can result in traffic spikes that most servers will struggle with.
With developments like the integration of tweets in the SERPs and the traffic opportunities offered by LinkedIn Pulse, social media is clearly going to continue rivalling SEO as the most important traffic source.

4. Paid Advertising

The effectiveness and relevance of paid advertising is largely dependent on what sector you’re in. However, most marketers and SEOs don’t give it the credit it deserves.
Paid advertising allows you to go out and get the specific traffic you want. The data, targeting, and immediacy that paid advertising gives you make it an important weapon in any marketer’s arsenal.
Most marketers dismiss paid advertising due to the CPC costs of their primary keywords. Instead, they pour all their resources into ranking organically for these terms. While this is a good long-term strategy, ignoring PPC will deny you many key benefits.
While you are building your organic rankings, paid advertising offers a unique testing opportunity. By running a paid campaign, in just a few days you have the ability to gather more data than you might see in months of organic traffic. This means that, by the time you begin to rank organically, your landing pages can be fully optimized and the quality of your search traffic will be full validated.
Another advantage of paid advertising working alongside organic SEO is the "reinforcement effect." If you are ranking organically, above the fold, and you also have an ad in the top positions in the SERPs, your click-through rate on both these listings are likely to be much higher than if you just had one. The reason for this is that, by having two listings above the fold, you reinforce the trust that Google’s users will associate with your site. Trust me, it works!

5. Traditional PR

Press releases have long been a reliable link-building channel for many SEOs. Obviously, the direct SEO benefits of links from press releases, especially if they are low-quality, are limited at best. However, that doesn’t mean that press releases and outreach don’t have value.
Traditional PR can have many positive crossovers for SEO and online marketing in general. For example, by using a press release as it is intended – to get your news out to the wider world – marketers can see huge spikes in traffic, engagement, and opportunities. If you can get your story picked up by journalists, whether they work for a print or online publication, and if people are writing about your business, it is going to result in traffic, links, and strong social signals.
If you can rethink the way you approach the press and traditional PR, they can bring great results.

Summary

The increasingly integrated nature of the Web means that things are never going to be as simple and clear-cut as they used to be. We’re all going to have to explore new marketing channels and continue to measure different metrics as the Web and user behavior evolves.
I hope this article has given you a few ideas to start exploring ways to increase your results without even thinking about SEO. Have you got other channels that you use? Have you found some "easy wins" that you’re happy to share? Let me know in the comments below.
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