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SEO in 2017 and Beyond: The Numbers Game

So what did we learn about SEO in 2016 that we can carry over into the New Year and improve our SERP positioning? We learned numbers! Lots of numbers!

I think that the most interesting statistics this year (and even from previous years) center around mobile, voice search on mobile, and voice search through present and future home devices. And they’ll probably all be applicable to a greater extent as the year unfolds.

In this article, we will take what we have learned from the past year and share what we think are the most important SEO predictions for 2017 and beyond.

1. Mobile Search Dominates Desktop

According to Search Engine Watch, we know that 93% of encounters online begin with a search, and from a Search Engine Land article, we learned that 65% of those searches worldwide are done through Google.

Impact has told us that 80% of users on the Internet own a smartphone, and Smart Insights indicates that the same percentage of smartphones (80%) are used to search online.

Marketing Land suggested that 56% of traffic received by the top 10,000 US websites in 24 categories came from mobile. However, if we read that actual webpage prologue by SimilarWeb that produced the report, we find that it reads the “…leading 10,000 most mobile sites in the US in 2015.”

The report itself, however, loses the most mobile reference entirely, so there is some uncertainty as to whether just mobile-friendly sites were included in the report, or mobile and desktop sites were the ones for which the stats were presented.

What does all of this mean for search in 2017? There will be some distinct changes and unique approaches developed to provide mobile-search-worthy content in 2017. SEO will not only have to address mobile’s consumption of quick, complete responses to specific questions (whether by voice or text), and produce more content pages optimized for mobile; it will also have to reflect the growing needs of the voice-only market created by home devices.

2. Voice Search Over Text Search

In a May of 2016 article, Search Engine Land cited Google indicating that 20% of mobile queries were voice searches. Now that Google has prioritized Mobile over Desktop, our takeaway should be that we can expect that number of voice queries from mobile to continue to increase significantly.

The anticipated high adoption rates of home devices such as Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Windows’ upcoming device, will all contribute to the growth of voice search.

As discussed in Voice Activated SEO Strategy for Google Home Device, Google is expected to ship nearly 3 million voice-activated speaker devices in 2017. According to Geek Wire, Amazon has already sold 5 million Echo units. That is at least 8 million reasons to focus more intently on voice searches.

The argument for voice-activated searches will direct the purposeful route of website content toward more specifically-tailored responses to voice searches from 2 very different devices. Those responses will need to be capable of serving their two new online masters (mobile and home assistant) while maintaining desktop traffic. Do any other SEO writers feel like a sideshow juggler already?

Even though both user groups could be searching for similar content, determining user intention based on separate schemes for each style of device will become extremely important, depending on the way voice search tactics by users evolve over time for each group.

SEO companies will need to develop ways to uniquely satisfy the needs of each group of device users without risking duplicate content issues that could be detrimental to their overall SERP strategies (mobile, home, and desktop) as a whole. Target strategies for keywords will no doubt appear somewhat disjointed initially.

It wouldn’t surprise me if as many as 3 different plans evolved for the 3 disparate search methods:

  • Mobile Voice
  • Home Assistant Voice
  • Desktop

3. Apps (plus or minus) Mobile-Friendly Websites?

Smart Insights has quoted Yahoo! Flurry stats, indicating that apps are used predominantly on mobile devices, with 90% of time on a mobile device being spent on an app, as opposed to using a browser such as Chrome (only 4%).

For some companies, I would argue that an app offers some great potential. But, for companies with a consistently changing landscape of information, articles, blogs, and other forms of data not conducive to being presented in app form, their websites will remain as go-to places for individuals with an interest in their products, services, or culture.

Such sites will still require ongoing SEO attention, but how that attention might translate into SEO planning will undoubtedly take a step sideways as more prominent mobile and voice usage begins to nudge desktop to one side until, dare we even think it, we’ve evolved into a totally mobile and voice driven world?

4. Time to Get Hyped About HTTPS

According to Search Engine Journal, as of February 1, 2017, Google has warned that Chrome will mark sites as unsecure if they have forms that collect information such as personal information, credit card information, or password information, and the site does not utilize HTTPS.

Even if only one page collects information insecurely, the entire site will be marked as unsecure, and Chrome users will be unable to access it without clicking through against Chrome’s warnings. Without HTTPS, most websites are open to man-in-the-middle attacks, through which sensitive information can easily be collected. Considering that 55% of desktop and mobile traffic is searched through Chrome, this is a significant wake-up call for website owners.

In February of 2014, I did some research on my own regarding the security of 86 major corporate oil company websites through which I was attempting to submit job applications at the time. Only 13% of these websites were attempting to collect my personal information securely through their own domain. 17% were attempting to collect my information through unsecured pages on the company domain. And probably the most shocking stat was that 23% of these companies were attempting to collect my personal data through unsecured third party domains.

While Google’s move on HTTPS is going to create some pain points for companies ill-prepared for the transition, I applaud the move. It’s time that major companies and corporations started taking more responsibility for safely handling our personal data.

If your company hasn’t done so already, start taking measures NOW to secure your domain before February 1. For more information on the importance of HTTPS, read my other blog article What Does it Take to Rank #1 on Google?

5. Mobile-Friendly Sites and Soft Selling

We’ve all visited those sites. You know the ones. You arrive on your mobile device and have to start zooming in and scrolling from side to side just to read the content. The links are so small, and so close together, that you inevitably click on the wrong link, and close your browser in frustration when the page is only half loaded.

Impact has written that Google indicated 61% of visitors won’t return to your site if they had trouble gaining access to it on mobile, claiming that 40% will visit the site of a competitor instead. CMS Report states that 57% of users won’t recommend your business if your mobile site is poorly designed.

And, a whopping 87% of purchasers, according to Search Engine Watch, indicate that online content has an influence over their decisions to purchase, with 43% disliking a hard sell or conspicuous advertising.

What Does It All Mean?

So what does all of this mean for 2017? Mobile, Home Assistants, HTTPS, and more mobile-friendly websites are probably going to be some of the most important aspects of SEO to pursue this year.

How user intent is defined, particularly where voice search is concerned will likely be one of the most important, ongoing discussions in 2017, making it worthy of its own developmental approaches and evolving strategies.

For an even scarier reminder of how things change so quickly online, visit Live Internet Stats and become mesmerized by their stunning visuals.

If you want to know more about any SEO strategies for 2017, contact 1st on the List today at 1-888-262-6687. Or drop us an email.

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Why Online Reputation Management Services Matter More Than You Think

bad online reviewsConsider the wise words of Warren Buffet:

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.”

All it takes is one disgruntled customer signing into Facebook, Google, or Yelp and writing a harsh review of their bad experience with you. Their review is permanently posted on the Internet for all future customers checking you out and your reputation could be tarnished for years to come.

Do you feel powerless over bad reviews already posted across the Internet or live in fear of the day when a customer will write a bad review.

Instead of falling victim to bad reviews you can take a proactive approach and develop a proper Reputation Management System. No you can’t write your own reviews but there are ways to collect more reviews from your happy customers to help down play or push down negative reviews you don’t want appearing in Search Results.

Our internet reputation management system also makes it easy to ask your customers to review your company and takes the time hog out of monitoring and responding to reviews too!

Why You Should Care About Reputation Management

Did you know that 70% of people consult reviews before making a purchase?

Studies show that consumers use reviews to determine which businesses to contact and use. Over two-thirds of people will read up to 6 online reviews before making a decision! Do they find a number of shining 5 star reviews or repeated complaints of terrible service and high prices or nothing at all?

What many business owners fail to see is that negative reviews can be used to your advantage. Nearly 30% of consumers who reported a bad experience followed by a very good response will actually increase their spending with you. Are you using bad reviews to boost your profits?

SEO & Reputation Management Services Go Hand in Hand – Reviews and Rankings

Google is constantly updating its search ranking factors to provide better search results.

There are rumors that eventually Google could use online reviews to separate the “good” from the “bad”. Businesses with a number of poor reviews risk being knocked down in search rankings. A strong SEO reputation management services ensure you are on track to gather enough reviews to prevent this from happening.

Have you noticed those Google review starts in Search Results besides some companies? SEO reputation management services help to ensure that your reviews and star ratings stand out in local search results, helping your website to get more clicks that other websites.

How to Manage Your Online Reputation – A Simple Method

The best online reputation management system will protect your online reputation by:

  • Offering an easy way to invite and remind customers to write a review.
  • Directing positive reviews to important public review websites such as Google+, Yelp, YellowPages and others in need of more positive reviews.
  • Privately funneling negative reviews to Managers to personally respond to the customer and resolve the situation.
  • Teaching you how to respond to both positive and negative reviews.
  • Learning from negative feedback to ensure the same issue doesn’t happen again.

By combining our efforts we believe that this is the best online reputation management service available. Plus it’s cost effective and requires minimal time each month.

Is it time to reap the Online Reputation Management Benefits?

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  • Hides negative reviews. Help “push down” negative reviews from top rankings with more positive reviews.
  • Engages customers.Increase the positive perception of your brand as you engage with customers.
  • Improved purchase process.Put your best foot forward with positive reviews that help customers make informed decisions.
  • Save time. Stop manually checking for new reviews and let us send you a review report on a regular basis.
  • Cost-effective.Compared to other branding and marketing strategies or the harsh cost of a tarnished brand, online reputation management is inexpensive.
  • Improve customer satisfaction.Make your products and customer service better with insight you might otherwise never receive.

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In Need of Online Reputation Repair or Brand Promotion?

Whether you are aware of some bad reviews about your company or you want to take a proactive approach to protecting your online reputation, we can help.

Learn more about our Online Reputation Marketing and how our review management system works or send us an email with your specific questions.

More blog posts about Online Reviews:

What You Don’t Understand About SEO and Why It’s Hurting Your Business

Search Engine Land recently posted an informative article in which author Trond Lyngbø shared the ways a leader with a “quick fix” attitude towards SEO can hurt their business. In this blog post we’d like to unpack several of the very important and common misunderstandings towards SEO that he points out.

1. Great SEO can’t fix what’s wrong with your product.

Google wants to provide searchers with the very best results possible. If someone is searching for a new dentist or the best built in vacuum cleaner Google wants to recommend the most trustworthy websites and businesses. Are you truly the best or would your customers beg to differ?

Lyngbø suggests that your visibility will eventually be affected by the way your customers feel about your products and services. We believe that Google is already making the move to incorporate your customer reviews and general reputation into your visibility. Faulty product? Poor customer service? Your SEO success may soon come to an end.

2. SEO is not a “quick fix” or “duct tape” solution for your business.

Lyngbø makes this point in reference to using SEO to cover up your bad product or customer service but the statement is true in a broader sense as well. SEO works best when backed by a stellar brand, great customer service, strong understanding of customer needs, an informative and easy to use website, and so on. SEO is often the final missing piece of the puzzle for brands that are already doing everything else right.

3. You can’t just “install SEO” quickly and easily.

This misunderstanding stems from a number of valid sources. For example there are SEO companies out there who claim to do SEO at a very cheap price and very quickly. This makes many business owners and managers believe it’s a quick install or that there’s just one way to do SEO. There are also SEO software programs and even WordPress plugins that claim do SEO for you. But SEO isn’t quick or easy, and can’t just be installed. It takes an experienced person to analyze your website and all the various factors (between 200 and 300) that come into play when Google decides how to rank the website. They then have to know the best strategies to optimize the most important factors to get your website to start ranking better and for more and more relevant queries as time goes on.

4. An expert can use SEO to make your marketing stronger and prevent expensive mistakes.

The basics of SEO can be fairly easy to understand and start to implement. But would you know how to run a detailed audit of your website to identify areas where you can make it even faster? After all Google favors fast websites. Would you know how to confirm that Google is properly accessing and crediting all of the pages on your website? If you are getting a site redesign do you know how to ensure that all of your credit is properly passed on to your new pages? Will you risk losing rankings and traffic with your new site design?

5. Paid and Natural Search traffic are highly connected.

Lyngbø comments that:

“Some business leaders consider paid traffic to be completely distinct from search engine optimization, not realizing that an SEO specialist can help you amplify the reach and impact of your paid search campaigns … But both address search users, and having SEO and PPC teams work together can be powerful.”

It can be a costly mistake to think that your PPC is driving all your traffic or that Search is driving all your traffic. The two can be highly correlated and can work best together.

6. Just getting more visitors isn’t enough.

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If 500 visitors to your website a month doesn’t result in any new leads then is it reasonable to expect that 5,000 visitors would? At some point you have to stop chasing more visitors and start going after better visitors. The other option is tweaking your website so that you start getting more out of the same number of visitors, which is called Conversion Optimization.

On a bigger picture level, Lyngbø challenges any business owner:

“If only a tiny fraction of what you do is effective in bringing you desirable results, why repeat everything that doesn’t work again next year?”

7. Insights gathered from Google can help future-proof your business.

Over the years we have had to have some hard conversations with clients who were in what seemed to be dying industries. After seeing the total number of people searching for their types of products and services decline they questioned if they were still relevant or if people still wanted what they had to offer.

On the other hand, we’ve also been able to point out exciting opportunities we can find through search behaviour. The conversation often goes like this:

Us: “We’ve noticed an increase in the number of searches for X product or Y service. Is that something you would be able to offer?”

Client: “We have actually been considering adding that to our business.”

Us: “Well now may be the time because a lot of people are looking and very few other businesses are offering it. You can be a first mover.”

After all as Lyngbø it’s free to access Google’s search data and glean it for new insights. For example, do you know the most frequently asked questions on Google about your type of products?

8. SEO is built into your website design.

There are several factors that you may not think of as “SEO” but in fact have a pivotal effect on the success of SEO: website structure, navigation, internal link architecture, information architecture.

In addition to the above items that Lyngbø mentions a more recent belief is that Engagement Metrics such as time on site and bounce rate will (if not already) affect rankings. So if your website is poorly designed and your visitors are constantly leaving after spending only a second or two, your SEO could suffer.

9. Your rankings on search engines are not limited to your own site, either.

One important thing to understand with SEO is that many components are outside of your control. As much as there is to do when optimizing a website there are a number of things you don’t control, such as:

  • The area your searcher is located
  • The age of your domain
  • The direct competition going after visibility for the same types of Search Phrases
  • Plus indirect competition that Google also favors for your targeted Search Phrases

Changing Your Thinking Towards SEO as a Leader

In conclusion Lyngbø gives words of encouragement:

“Integrating SEO into all that you do, both offline and on, can enhance your results and speed up your growth.”

So how are you doing with integrating SEO into every fiber of your business? In our experience our clients who achieve the best success with us are all in and willing to do everything it takes – both online and offline.

If you need to start SEO for the first time or have realized it’s time to start taking SEO more seriously by hiring a qualified and experienced SEO expert give us a call at 1-888-262-6887 and we’d be happy to speak with you!

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8 Basic Facts Every Small Business Owner Needs Know About SEO

If you don’t know these facts you’re not alone. Most small businesses we speak to aren’t quite sure about these basic fundamental SEO concepts. We’ve made it our mandate to help small businesses understand these facts whether they choose our SEO services or not!

SEO is simple in concept.

Search Engine Optimization is simply the process of improving your website’s content and structure so that Search Engines understand your website and what you offer more easily and deem it the most relevant to the product and services that you offer.

SEO is much more complex in practice.

If your website isn’t currently ranking for your keywords the search engines don’t understand your website yet! There are 300+ different factors Search Engines look at on every website in order to determine who should rank in each position and for different searches. These factors carry varying levels of importance and may be different from website to website. Experience, expertise, and discernment are needed to know what exactly is keeping a website from ranking well.

SEO builds your credibility and authority.

Search Engines rank websites because they think they are the most relevant and reliable source for the specific search query. The art of SEO is first showing and then proving to the Search Engines that you are the most credible and authoritative source, whether you offer gutter repairs in your hometown or name badges across the country.

SEO has endless approaches and strategies.

You can’t just ask “How much does SEO cost” and expect to get one answer because there are a variety of techniques and strategies that all require varying amounts of time, expertise, and resources to implement. It’s like asking a Contractor, “How much does it cost to build a house?” or a Personal Trainor “How much will you charge to get me into shape?” We need to ask questions so we can understand the details about what you want to accomplish. Goals are different for everyone.

SEO is not a defined science, it is an acquired skillset that requires expertise and experience to get the best results.

Not all people who do SEO are the same. Experience, approach, processes, skill level, backgrounds, and other factors affect how they optimize your website and the outcome. It is similar to hiring an inexperienced accountant or an Accountant with years of experience. Your taxes will be filed but you usually have a much bigger “return” with the more experienced, skilled Accountant. Notice I said Skilled Accountant.

SEO requires content on your website.

Search Engines need to understand what you offer, who you offer it to and where it is offered before they can start ranking your website where it belongs. You tell them this through well written content such as Products/Services pages, Contact pages and About Us pages that are properly linked to each other. This is the same information your visitors will be looking for on your website.

SEO is directly affected by what the owner contributes to the website.

The purpose of SEO is to drive more traffic to your website but ultimately the message is yours to share. Keeping your website updated with current information and having a clear and unique message that speaks to and motivates your visitors will always get you the best results.

SEO is highly affordable.

Most research shows that SEO provides a lower cost per lead than most other marketing methods and an above-average sales conversion. This means with SEO you pay less and get more!

SEO is the missing link you’ve been looking for.

Many growing businesses today are using search to drive their business. Search drives business but it means you must be visible when people are looking for what you offer.

SEO connects small businesses that need new customers with people who are actively searching for the exact services they offer. Nowadays people find and research companies online first. They don’t have time to scroll through more than a few results and most don’t even click to the second page before they decide who to buy from. Furthermore, people trust companies ranked near the top of the search results the most.

Now that you have a better grasp on what SEO can do for your business it’s time to take SEO seriously and have us look at your website.

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3 Pay Per Click Marketing and SEO Strategies

While large corporate companies have the funds to allocate a substantial monthly budget to pay per click marketing many smaller businesses struggle to come up with the funds.

Does this mean that if you are a small business or a company on a limited budget that you can’t use pay per click marketing? No.

There are several affordable ways to use Pay Per Click Marketing in conjunction with your other online marketing efforts to create synergy. There are also other ways to implement a temporary Pay Per Click Advertising Campaign to achieve immediate goals.

In this article we discuss three affordable PPC Marketing Strategies to consider.

1. Temporarily Use PPC Marketing While Optimizing Your Website

One of the advantages of pay per click marketing is that it can be utilized to realize immediate results. This can be very helpful when you want immediate traffic and leads. SEO strategies can offer great long term rewards but while your SEO is being implemented and until you start realizing results from organic search, why not implement a temporary pay per click strategy and drive traffic to your site fast.

2. Use Pay Per Click for Early Tracking and Testing

SEO can provide much more traffic with a better ROI and thus many will agree that SEO marketing is a great long term strategy. But what can you do in the meantime as your long term SEO plays out?

One of the benefits of implementing a pay per click marketing campaign into your search engine internet marketing efforts is that it allows you to perform early tracking and testing. You can test the effectiveness of numerous variables including:

  • Keyword Phrases
  • Ad Copy
  • Conversion Tracking
  • Landing Pages

Because SEO generally takes 3-6+ months to really start performing it does not lend well to immediate testing. With SEO it can take time to build out great rankings within the search engine and once obtained they cannot be switched out as easily. If you wish to change or add keyword phrases in your SEO marketing efforts it takes a lot more time and effort.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of starting your search engine optimization campaign with a pay per click marketing strategy is tracking. You cannot overestimate the value of knowing what keyword phrases are providing traffic and are converting to sales.

3. Use Pay Per Click Marketing In Conjunction With Search Engine Optimization

Organic search engine optimization is usually more cost effective than pay per click marketing. However, if your search engine internet marketing budget permits, you may also consider making pay per click marketing services a permanent part of your ongoing online marketing strategies.

One of the benefits of integrating pay per click marketing with search engine optimization is for branding purposes.

The value of being seen twice on the same page should not be underestimated. There is a definite increase in clicks when a company’s website is seen listed in both Sponsored and Organic listing results.

Can You Benefit from Effective Pay Per Click Marketing Strategies?

A successful short-term pay per click marketing strategy is one that will help you accomplish your online goals sooner. Ask yourself:

  • What are my online goals?
  • What size of budget could I allocate towards a PPC Campaign?
  • How long do I want to rely on PPC to bring traffic to my website?

For more information about our PPC services please contact us at 1-888-262-6687 or request a PPC Consultation.

Ad Retargeting Marketing Trends for 2015

Ad retargeting is a popular topic for 2015 and even if you aren’t running a retargeting campaign it’s important to understand how it works.

A basic ad retargeting definition is targeting your ads to consumers based on their previous Internet activity on your website where they activity didn’t lead to a sale or conversion. The basic ad retargeting cycle works like this:

  • Visitor comes to your site.
  • Visitor looks at your products, reads your pages and adds to their shopping cart.
  • Visitor leaves without doing anything.
  • Visitor later sees your retargeting ads on another website, such as Facebook, reminding them about you and inviting them back to your site.

AdRoll recently released a new study on Ad Retargeting which surveyed 11,000 US advertisers on how they currently use retargeting and if they plan to use it through 2015.

The key takeaways from their study show us that:

  • Social media is the place to be in 2015 with retargeting.
  • Instagram, Pinterest and Amazon are the three most popular social platforms for retargeting in 2015.
  • Mobile and cross-device ad retargeting is becoming more important with over half of marketers retargeting on mobile devices.
  • Search retargeting and Facebook retargeting isn’t just for driving sales! Retargeting is also being used for several purposes including brand awareness, social engagement and customer retention.
  • More marketers are spending more of their online ad budget on retargeting. This year, over 70% are spending up to half of their budget on retargeting.

Are you wondering how you can apply these retargeting marketing trends to your business? Give us a call at 1-888-262-6687 to discuss your website and what retargeting strategies could work for you.

9 Ways Hiring a PPC Manager Can Save You Money

Spend money to save money?

It seems counter-intuitive but in many case it can be true. For example hiring a good Accountant can save you thousands on your tax return.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Managers are much the same way. Their skills and proven strategies mean that your PPC Campaign will get the most return for its dollar. There are several reasons why hiring a PPC Manager is more cost-effective than managing a PPC Campaign in house, including:

  • Finding the balance between highly searched and low cost keywords.
  • Tweaking keywords and ad copy with low conversion rates.
  • Turning clickers into buyers by optimizing landing pages.

 

How else can a PPC Manager save you money?
Hit the Download button to find out immediately!

Are you ready to stop wasting time and money trying to figure out AdWords and other PPC campaigns on your own? Learn more about our PPC Management Services and how our PPC Audits can help start making you money.

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Do You Know How to Integrate SEO Into Your Business?

A new study by Econsultancy and SEMPO that surveyed over 400  companies, agencies and consultants is uncovering that SEO integration is becoming more common for many businesses:

  • 45% of businesses highly integrate SEO and content marketing, another 43% somewhat integrate SEO with content marketing
  • 55% of businesses are somewhat using SEO PPC integration, another 24% have highly integrated SEO and PPC.
  • 51% of businesses are somewhat using SEO integration with social media, only 23% are finding ways to benefit from high SEO social integration.
  • 54% of businesses are finding ways to integrate SEO with mobile marketing.
  • 50% of businesses are integrating SEO with email marketing.

integration of SEO with digital marketing disciplines

Key Takeaways for Trends in SEO SEM Integration

This study draws attention to many interesting points:

  1. Content marketing seems to be an umbrella discipline that interacts not only with SEO as this study shows, but also drives other marketing activities such as Social (do you have interesting content to share on Facebook or Tweet about?) and Email Marketing (what do you say in each newsletter you send out?).
  2. Less than a quarter of respondents said that they highly integrate SEO and Social Media. The proof that Social impacts SEO is still very weak and often it takes two very different types of brains to successfully run SEO and Social.
  3. Most marketers are flexible to adjust their budgets for paid search, display and social media depending on the ROI. However email marketing and SEO seem to be fundamental to most businesses as the budget for these is less flexable.
  4. Over half of in house marketers (53%) and marketing agencies (59%) report that SEO and paid search budgets are managed completely separate.
  5. The study confirms that most businesses still struggle with properly attributing ROI with various online marketing initiatives. Only 11% are confident about measuring social media ROI, 41% confident about email marketing ROI and 47% confident about paid search ROI.

Does your business split its SEO budget with other Search Engine Marketing or digital marketing initiatives? Are you finding synergies? By integrating SEO with content marketing, PPC, social or other activities are you producing an effect greater than the sum of doing each activity on its own?

We’d love to hear your thoughts! Email us today at contact@1stonthelist.ca or give us a call at 1-888-262-6687 to chat.

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Growing Apples, Oranges and Potatoes – The Uncomplicated Explanation of Search Engine Marketing

SEO vs PPC Explanation of Search MarketingThe great Chinese philosopher Confucius once said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

Since its advent over 17 years ago there has been a lot of confusion over how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) really works and what its role in marketing should be.

I want to use some analogies that everyone is familiar with to draw some parallel comparisons so you get a much better understanding of the whole SEO process. It’s not as mysterious or difficult to understand as many people think. Like many things it is easy to understand at its most basic form.

Definition of SEO

SEO is the process of making your website more accessible for the Search Engines to find and evaluate and more relevant to what the searcher is looking for.

As you dive deeper into SEO and understand its idiosyncrasies you’ll start to realize there are 200 to 300 factors that interact with each other on varying levels that contribute to how accessible and relevant your website is. People that understand its idiosyncrasies of SEO get much better results (ie. Rankings, Traffic, Sales) than those that don’t.

So what’s the risk of not understanding search engine optimization?

Many companies don’t really understand how SEO works and as a result don’t know how to either (a) buy it from an SEO provider or (b) implement it properly throughout their Digital Marketing strategy. If you purchase SEO based on low cost or low effort your search results generally suffer in the long run.

Rather than trying to complicate SEO even more than we should (a Google search for “SEO” returns 205 million pages!) let’s break it down and compare it to something we all know, a produce store.

Understanding Search Engine Results with an Analogy:
Starting a Fruit or Vegetable Stand

Since SEO is often referred to as organic or natural search I am going to use how fruit and vegetables grow organically in nature to explain search engine optimization for you and to compare its counterpart, Pay Per Click Marketing.

We all go to the produce store on a weekly basis. Do you wonder where this produce comes from? Sometimes it’s a local farm, sometimes it’s imported in from California or Mexico and sometimes it’s from the produce store owner’s fields out back.

Consider if you owned a fruit or vegetable store and you needed to supply your store with produce for people to buy. There are several methods to accomplish that:

  1. You could buy the produce wholesale OR
  2. You could grow your own.

You would likely do varying combinations of each at different times of the year depending on availability and demand. Ultimately you want to have maximum control over your supply and costs in order to earn the best profits.

Buying Produce Wholesale (the “PayPerClick” Approach)

PayPerClick (PPC) closely resembles buying your produce or products wholesale. PayPerClick is a general term that often refers to as Google Adwords or BING Search Marketing, but can also extend to paid Social ads and Google Display Network ads.

You can control when you purchase the ads, who you purchase from and some control to negotiate the price you pay for the produce or products. You have control over how the product is presented and the selling price etc. You also can control what regions your produce or products are offered depending if you have 1 store or multiple stores.

There is also some control with PayPerClick:

  • Choose when the ads will run (including the day of the week and time of day)
  • Maximum cost per click you are willing to pay
  • Maximum price per day you are willing to pay for ads to run
  • Appearance and text of the ad
  • Landing page the visitor is sent to when they click on your ads
  • Regions the ads are shown

You can even choose specific times of the year to run the ad or you can even shut the ads off when you don’t want them running. For example it is common for contractors and trades to stop running their ads when their schedule is completely filled up or when weather conditions are not conducive to new projects.

Keep in mind that with the Pay Per Click approach you become dependent on the wholesaler (AdWords, Bing Ads) for your traffic. As soon as you skip a purchase your crop or traffic will be non-existent. In this way you are always have to pay a price for each visitor.

Growing Your Own Produce (the “Organic Search” Approach)

Search Engine Optimization (often referred to as organic rankings) has a lot in common with growing produce yourself. Obviously if you grow your own produce you have even more control over the size of the crop and the quality of the produce. Depending on what you grow your crop takes time before you can harvest the crop and some produce like apples can take a number of years after planting the tree before you get the first harvest.  The quality of the soil, environment and weather conditions have a definite effect on the time it takes to grow.

SEO takes time to develop as well:

  • Search rankings are earned and do not occur overnight or even within a month.
  • Rankings are never fully developed right away but you will start to see improvements over a period of months.
  • Over time your flow of traffic becomes heartier and produces more.

Just like farming and harvesting SEO takes work. There is a lot of manual labor that goes into optimizing a website which all needs to be implemented into the website before the search engines will apply the credit for the changes. Skipping any key step in optimization is like storing the water in tanks next to your crop but failing to water or buying pruners but never trimming the crop back at the end of the season.

You can control how wide spread the search rankings are by the number of hours spent in optimizing the website. Just like farming, the attention to detail on the search engine optimization and approach will affect the quality of the results in the long run.

Although the initial work for SEO takes time to sow and nurture the seeds the harvest can be abundant and long lasting.

Which Search Marketing Approach is Right for You?

Is direct and fast access to search traffic that could cost more in the long run the answer for you?

Or do you prefer a sustainable strategy for growing your own search traffic over time?

Consider the following:

  1. Do you need results right away or are you planning for the long term?
  2. Are you willing to face increases in the cost of Paid Traffic in the long run or would you rather have control over your costs through SEO?
  3. If you are leaning towards organic growth with SEO, are you willing to be patient?
  4. Will you be tempted to speed up the natural growth of your SEO with “fertilizers” such as paid links and black hat strategies that could potentially harm your long term production? Are you willing to forego a pure natural product and use pesticides and fertilizers?
  5. Will you consider purchasing Paid Search Traffic in the early years while you grow your Organic Search Traffic, with the intent of relying only on your own organic traffic in the future?

The choice of direction is yours to make.

If you need additional help evaluating your Search Marketing in terms of SEO and PPC and what combination will work the best for your business and goals give us a call at 888-262-6687 or email our experts at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

 

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The Big 3 Search Engine Ranking Factors for 2014

SEO Buzzwords for 2014

In today’s article we will discuss 3 big SEO buzzwords for 2014 that you simply can’t ignore any longer. Both the changes in Google ranking factors (aka its algorithm) and changes in the way people access the Internet make it critical that you at least understand, if not act on, these three SEO trends in 2014.

1. Semantics – the way Google understands the intent behind a search

Semantics isn’t really a new concept to SEO but has emerged in the spotlight since the Google Hummingbird Update in September 2013. Now semantics are intrinsic to almost every operation performed by the search engine.

So what is semantics? Semantics is understanding the meaning of individual words and the context of the words when placed together in a search result. It accounts for synonyms and modifiers and seeks to understand the intent behind the terms in order to generate more relevant results. The goal of semantic search is to fulfill your search as well as providing related concepts associated with the phrase.

Here is a very basic example. When you search for “types of apples” the algorithm will conceptualize the definition as the fruit apple and provide results such as types of apple trees, apple pies and apples for baking. However if you search “types of apple products” you will find results for iPads, iPhones and even iTunes. It uses the search words to apply meaning to the search rather than finding everything related to apple. Make sense?

2. Mobile – the way we use Tablets, Phones and PC’s to browse the web

Mobile website statistics are overwhelming – mobile phones and tablets are quickly replacing the use of PC’s in many homes. If your website is not set up to be viewed in the scaled down versions of web browsers on mobile or tablets you likely have some huge visitor experience issues. Google also favors mobile-friendly websites when completing a search from a mobile device so you will soon (if not already) be left behind in a large percentage of search results.

Many marketing reviewers and SEO gurus are being so bold as to suggest that new sites should be built as mobile sites first and a PC version should only be secondary.

3. Local – the way we find websites that are close, reviewed and credible

The final SEO buzzword for 2014 that has been around for a few years already is local. There are three items you must factor in when becoming a leader in your local search results:

  1. Location – searchers expect to find their local service providers with a few key strokes. Most buyers are incredibly loyal – they want to support their town, their area, their country, so tell them where you are. If you are trying to be listed for Vancouver based search results but your business address is in a suburb an hour out of the city you could have difficulty ranking. Type in a search for your service and desired city and see where top ranked businesses are located.
  2. Reviews – both the Search Engines and your customers use online reviews to evaluate the quality of your services. Local websites with several reviews (even if some are negative) are more favorable in the eyes of the Search Engine than websites without any reviews.
  3. Credibility – because the internet has no real rules of credibility (anyone can put up a website), more and more searchers are checking out your credibility. In addition to reviews, “citations” or directory websites that confirm your phone number, address and other business details add to your credibility.

The changes that Google has implemented in ranking factors and the changes in internet usage can no longer be ignored. If you are a small business we can help you further understand Semantics, Mobile and Local so that you can properly address the big SEO trends in 2014. The websites that do will come out ahead as the biggest winners in 2014.

Contact us at 888-262-6687 to arrange a free consultation or use our contact form to send us your info so we can be in touch.