5 Obvious Things you Should be Doing on your Website

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By Sue Brady

Aces

It’s easy to overlook the obvious. So here are a few helpful hints to remind you of some basics to make sure your website starts the New Year on the right foot.

  1. Ask customers to take the action you want them to take.

Buy now. Learn more. Add to Cart. Checkout.

If you don’t tell your customers what to do, they might not do it. Here’s a post on this subject.

2. Make it easy for your visitors to take an action. The harder they have to work for it, the less likely they are to do it. I was on a well-known site yesterday and really wanted to add a photo book I’d created to my shopping cart. I couldn’t do it. I could clearly see the quantity button and the price (I drew the green arrow in the picture), but there was no ‘add to cart’ button. I had to completely exit out and come back in through a different set of commands before I was shown the ‘add to cart’ button.

Make it easy

3. Make your action buttons large enough so that they stand out on the page.

4. Don’t use reversed out white type in your body copy. Yes, this is one of my pet peeves, but it should be yours as well! Reversed out white type is hard on the eyes when used on more than a line or two of type. And if your web pages are hard to read, your potential customers won’t read them.

5. Have a mobile version of your website. Seriously, you should have done this a few years ago, but if you somehow haven’t, make it your next project. The time spent on the Internet via a mobile phone has now surpassed the time spent on the Internet on a desktop computer (Mary Meeker KPBC Internet Trends Report). Consumers now expect sites to be mobile friendly and will leave your site if it’s not (latest research from Google shows 29% will bounce immediately!). Plus, having a mobile friendly site helps you with your Google organic search. When a user is on a mobile phone, Google gives preference to mobile friendly sites over non-mobile friendly sites when it returns search results.

Obvious tips, but so often overlooked. Get your website into the best shape you can so that you start 2016 off right!

Penguin, Panda, Mobilegeddon – So Many Changes!

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By Sue Brady

Penguin

Google makes algorithm changes on a fairly regular basis (I’ve read that they make 500-600 changes per year!) and they can have noticeable impacts to your search rankings. It can be hard to keep up and understand what these changes may mean for your website and SEO strategies. This MOZ article is a great historical perspective on all of these changes, and I’ve pulled out just a few to summarize their impacts. Note that some changes happen once as a general cleanup, while others represent an actual ongoing change to the algorithm.

May, 2015 – Quality Update

This update was not widely discussed by Google and the general opinion is that rather than adding anything to its existing algorithm, Google instead rebalanced some of the existing components. In other words, some factors became more important, moving previously higher ranked factors lower. This update appears to have been a one-time thing, so if you were going to see an impact from the update, you would have by now. If you did see changes to your rankings, particularly negative ones, it’s likely to do with how Google perceives the trustworthiness and authoritativeness of your content. Here are Google’s very own tips for how to make your site higher quality.

April 22, 2015 – Mobilegeddon

This widely hyped update turned out to have a relatively low actual impact. Mobilegeddon was made to encourage websites to be mobile friendly. It impacted organic results shown on mobile devices, giving preference to mobile friendly sites over non-mobile friendly sites in those SERPs (search engine results pages).

September 23, 2014 – Panda 4.1 Update

Those in the know (not me), have seen many Panda updates since 4.0 was launched in May, but this is the first update officially acknowledged, so it gets a .1 designation. This update was aimed at de-prioritzing ‘bad’ affiliates, keyword stuffing, doorway pages (pages that don’t really have content, but stuff keywords so that they rank highly), and other deceptive practices.

October, 2014 – Penguin 6 (aka Penguin 3.0, so dubbed by Search Engine Land)

The Penguin updates have all been about linking. This one, though it appeared ‘big’ was said to have impacted less than 1% of total English queries. If your link profiles are good ones, you should have seen an improvement in your rankings as a result of this update. But, just because you weren’t penalized by Google directly, you still may have seen a negative impact from this update. That’s because your site may be getting credit for other sites that link to yours that are now being discounted by Google. Frustratingly, you can’t actually tell if you’ve cured a Penguin problem until the next Penguin update.

I am not an SEO expert by any stretch of the imagination. But there are many out there if you need help. Here are a few I’ve come across over the years:

  • Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) is the news editor of Search Engine News and is hugely knowledgeable on this subject.
  • Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) is an expert in digital marketing, especially as related to SEO.
  • Travis Wright (@teedubya) speaks regularly on the subject of search marketing, and he used to be a stand-up comedian, so he’s funny!
  • Larry Kim (@larrykim) founded wordstream and is a search expert.
  • Tom Pick @tompick) specializes in B2B web marketing.

“Knowledge is a weapon. I intend to be formidably armed.”

Terry Goodkind

 

 

 

Why Should You Care About the Other Search Engines?

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By Sue Brady

 

DuckDuckGo search engine

 

Wait, there are other search engines?

Google has 67% share of the search market. With over 19 billion total searches happening a month (Comscore, August 2013) there is no question that Google has a stronghold on the search market. However, other search engines represent 6 billion searches a month and should be a part of your search plan.  The partnership between Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Bing powers almost 30% of all searches.

Another search engine, DuckDuckGo, recently relaunched (in beta) with features to make it more useful. DuckDuckGo is small but does process almost 5 million searches a day. They’ve added image search and auto suggest along with some other features. The appeal of DuckDuckGo is privacy. Their claim is that they don’t track what you search. That can become a more valuable value proposition as time goes on and consumers decide that they like the idea of being able to search privately.

If you aren’t including at least Yahoo!/Bing in your search plans, you should be. Or more to the point, at a minimum you should be testing there. For one thing, Yahoo!/Bing will cost you less per click. You might be reaching fewer people, but importantly, your Cost per Click will be lower. Your strategy can be similar on both search engines. You can even import your Google ad campaigns into Bing.

As has been reported in the past by many other studies, click-thru rates and conversions on both Google and Yahoo!/Bing are fairly similar if you’re a small business. But for other advertisers, it seems that conversion rates are typically higher on Yahoo!/Bing. Here’s a great read by Amanda DiSilvestroon on why you should try Bing and how to get started with a Bing account.

Yahoo!/Bing has some new features like ad units called Hero Ads that come up when a user is searching for brand specific information (currently it’s a pilot program, only available on Windows 8). They offer call extensions on mobile ads and claim that those can yield up to 30% greater click-thru rates. And, Bing is the default search engine for Siri on the iOS7 release. Plus, search is being integrated into a number of Microsoft products such as Xbox, Windows 8, MS Office and others. Finally, while Google is no longer showing keywords that drive organic traffic to your site, Bing is not imposing that limitation in their analytics.

While this article will help you understand how much to actually spend on your campaigns, the real trick is to figure out how much to allocate between Google and Yahoo!/Bing and still be profitable. Plus, adding in some of the smaller engines like DuckDuckGo might give you surprising results. To figure out the balance, you’ll need to test. Definitely start with Google, and take your best keywords/phrases from there and test them on other search engines. If your profit is greater on Yahoo!/Bing or DuckDuckGo, try allocating additional spend to maximize that profit.

Know your options and continue to test so that you can adjust and balance to maximize your spending. Don’t forget, there are others besides Google who want your business.

Google: The big search engine gorilla

What is the ‘Not Provided’ Organic Keywords Problem (and what can You do about it)?

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By Sue Brady

Keys

It’s been six months since Google made the change that shook up the SEO market. If you are still perplexed about what to do about it, read on.

Keyword analysis is extremely important for optimizing both paid for and organic keyword traffic. Many pay per click buyers use Google Analytics (GA) to analyze their results. GA is fairly robust and can satisfy the needs of most buyers. But what about your organic keywords? It’s equally important to know which ones are driving the most traffic to your site.

Not Provided. This term refers to keywords where Google is no longer sharing information on their origin. This is not new news. Back in 2011, Google made a change that keywords from anyone searching from a secure site (denoted by an ‘s’ after the http in your URL bar) would show up in reporting as Not Provided. Then in October of 2013, they made the change universal for all Google organic search, hiding the keyword information that used to be so useful. Information on organic keywords is still available in Bing/Yahoo search. But, because Google search has 67% of the search market, you are now missing a large amount of information.

When Google first started down this path, Matt Cutts, the Head of the Spam Team at Google, guessed that Non Provided visits would remain in the single-digit percents. He was wrong. According to a BrightEdge survey from Q1, 2013, 56% of search traffic in the tech industry was already coming from Google secure search, and therefore showing up as Non Provided in GA. And now it’s a 100%, since all Google searches are secure.

There have been a number of very useful articles written about getting around this pesky problem:

1. Kissmetrics describes 8 methods for gaining insight into your customer search data in these two articles: Unlock keywords and keyword not provided.

2. Search Engine Watch also has some useful advice, especially for the small business and in general.

3. Webbiquity compiled advice from 6 experts on dealing with the Non Provided issue.

Please share other ways you get around this issue. I’ll compile and publish them here at a later date.

UPDATE: I came across this article just as I was getting ready to publish this post. Perhaps Google is reconsidering?