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  • “SEO IS DEAD” – A MISTAKE OR CLICHÉ?

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Marketing

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    There are a couple of ways in which writers and marketers try to phrase the “SEO is dead” statement.  Normally, this is merely a tactic employed to talk about SEO’s recent best practices.  Others have actually tried to suggest that SEO is dead.

    As we confront these attempts, one thing is clear – it is both a mistake and a (bad) cliché.

    The Roundabout Cliché

    SEO stands for search engine optimization.  In short, SEO refers to the techniques/processes used to improve a website’s visibility in the search rankings.  These organic search results (as opposed to paid search marketing) can drastically help a website get more traffic.

    To suggest that SEO is dead is to suggest that these methods do not exist or work.  We know that this is not true, barring a complete change in the way that search engines function.

    Why would anyone say that SEO is dead?  A few reasons emerge:

    • There Are New Methods: This is the most popular angle.  The writer will talk about how the SEO landscape has evolved greatly, so much that there is a “new SEO” of sorts.  Yet, SEO has merely changed – just like web development, social media, and anything else in technology.
    • It Draws Eyes:  It is daring and thought-provoking to suggest that SEO is dead.
    • SEO Value: It is ironic – talking about whether SEO is dead or not actually provides SEO value.  There are 320 average monthly searches for the phrase, according to Google AdWords.

    The above combination often forms a tandem that can easily fill 500 words of content.  After asking the question, running through the Google Panda developments, and drawing on recent techniques like social media, content marketing, and more – the writer will focus on how SEO has changed.

    For the majority of articles that discuss this topic, they don’t legitimately suggest that SEO is dead.  It is merely a roundabout ploy to generate intrigue, or at best to answer this question for beginners that do not know the basics of SEO.

    A Serious Mistake

    In a recent post, Tim Anderson did a rare thing: He suggested that SEO is actually dead.

    His initial thrust is easily met: “A striking post by Dan Graziano reveals that a Google search may only display 13% organic results.” However, what this statistic reveals is that organic search results account for 13 percent of screen real estate above the fold on a 13-inch laptop.

    There are a lot of ads in your average search.  Yet, this is not relevant to the effectiveness of SEO.  To quote a meaningful statistic, organic search results receive a click 94 percent of the time versus paid search results.

    The next portion from Anderson focuses on how local searches are gaining in steam – along with social media.  There is truth to both, as social media is becoming much more popular, especially for local searches.

    Once again, though, we don’t get the full story – Google searches have grown year after year.  Also, local SEO is still SEO.  And social media optimization can help SEO, since a strong social media presence is known to greatly impact a website’s SEO value.

    SEO is Not Dead

    SEO is alive and kicking.  It has certainly changed, notably from the recent and ongoing developments from Google.

    It may rely heavily on quality content marketing, social media, and other elements that were not seen in past years.  It may keep changing, changing to the point to where some businesses may be out of luck from relying on outdated strategies.

    However, SEO is quite active and relevant.  Take a hard look at any alleged evidence before you believe the contrary.

  • IMPROVING YOUR BOTTOM LINE WITH GOOGLE ANALYTICS

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Marketing

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    Around 60 percent of websites do not use any sort of analytics solution to track statistics.  Sayf Sharif reports that the number is even higher for nonprofits.

    An analytics solution like Google Analytics is not tantamount to numbers and statistics that lack overall relevance.  It can guide your SEO and social media strategies, help you determine your engagement with your target audience, and much more.  Analytics can help the blogger looking for some exposure or the big business needing some insight into all things digital – and anything in between.

    Basics of Google Analytics

    More than 10 million sites use Google Analytics, which is easily the leader in analytics solutions.

    The free tool thankfully does not have a steep learning curve.  In fact, after reading a simple beginner’s guide, you can develop an impressive working knowledge of the tool and analytics in general.  Distilled has plenty of other Google Analytics Resources for Beginners to Advanced Users that are worth a look.

    This isn’t just for marketing professionals.  Google Analytics can help you determine how many hits your site is getting, where these viewers are located and how they got there – and items that will impact any sort of bottom line.  We will explore a couple examples that can save you some time and money.

    By the way, you can explore other free/paid analytics solutions as well.  Personally, I am using the free version of Clicky for this site – it offers an impressive set of features with a gorgeous user interface.  Feel free to look around according to your needs.

    Analytics to the Rescue

    Bloggers and businesses find themselves asking the same questions: How can I/we improve traffic, engagement, interactivity, and business for my/our website?

    A wide number of online marketing areas can lean on analytics for help:

    • SEO: Statistics can determine which posts and keywords are performing well, in addition to the growth for visitors that arrive via organic search.
    • Social Media: Track custom campaigns on social media to see what techniques are working the best.
    • Web Design: Limited engagement and high bounce rates can reveal bad web navigation, overwhelming graphics, and other issues in your web design.
    • Other: Are your email campaigns generating real traffic?  Is that free ebook offer enticing anyone to sign up for the email list?  How about your Hello Bar – is it grabbing anyone’s attention?

    You can track just about anything.  By tracking conversion rates with Google Analytics, you can determine the success of a sale or any type of campaign.  As you are developing contests to grow your email list, you will see how effective this technique measures up with others.

    A Shot in the Dark

    Without the figures that drive changes to your website, content marketing strategy, SEO, and more, your efforts are little more than educated guesses.  You may be taking a shot in the dark with a great ebook offer or social media campaign.

    Instead, an analytics solution can help you measure conversion rates and engagement with your audience across the web.  You can get the answers you need to make adjustments on the go, which can result in a site that is more successful – in whatever way you define success for your site.

    Dive into the world of analytics.  It isn’t as daunting as it may sound.

  • EMAIL MARKETING: INCREASING CONVERSIONS ON CONTACT AND OPT-IN FORMS

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Marketing

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    Email marketing should be the central focus of your efforts.  Social media has its place, but email campaigns can and should be the cornerstone.  It is the most personal medium and the one that you control.

    Contact and opt-in forms may form an unglamorous subset of online marketing, but they can’t be underestimated.  As catalysts for your email subscriber list, these forms can lead to gains in hits, social media followers, and your overall business.

    An Easy Way to Increase Conversions on Contact Forms by 120%

    All they had to do was to reduce their contact form from 11 to four fields.  As a result, Imagescape gained a 120 percent conversion increase.

    Simplifying a contact form can do wonders for its conversion rate.  Other information from the QuickSprout infographic makes it clear that it’s optimal to have fewer fields:

    • 25 percent conversion rate for forms with only three fields
    • 20 percent conversion rate for forms with three to five fields
    • 15 percent conversion rate for forms with six or more fields

    The key is to make things easier and simpler.  For instance, drop down forms did not perform well, peaking at a conversion rate of 16 percent.  Ordinary forms that required telephone numbers and contact information saw declines as well.

    Another interesting finding was the word used on the form’s button.  Instead of the default “Submit,” buttons that had less-intimidating terms saw the following increases in the conversion rate:

    • 30 percent for “Click Here”
    • 25 percent for “Go”
    • 15 percent for “Download”
    • 10 percent for “Register”

    Opt-In Forms: Color, Placement, Wording, and More!

    An entirely different ballgame awaits your website opt-in forms.  While they certainly have the same goal as a contact form, implementing them well requires some finesse and an eye for design.

    From the form’s placement and colors to the text and thank-you page, there is a lot going on here.  You will have to grab the user’s attention, make a statement, and compel the reader to join.

    The first two examples from Shane Melaugh’s “Opt-In Form Clinic” speak to the directness that your form must have.  In the original opt-in forms, specificity is lacking.  Instead of saying little other than “Sign up for free updates,” you want to ignite something in the reader that makes them want those updates or that free e-book.

    It should sell itself.  It should stand without any other content.  As Melaugh says, it has to pop.

    Make sure that your opt-in form stands out visually.  Colors that immediately capture the reader’s eyes work well.

    Worried about social media links?  Keep them for your thank-you page.  Once you have the opt-in, you can ask for follows and shares on that page and within your email campaigns.

    The Bottom Line

    Keep your contact and opt-in forms direct and to the point.  If there are too many fields on the contact forms, you could scare a potential subscriber away from connecting with your business.

    Test contact and opt-in forms to see what works best.  Keep the contact form simple and play around with its placement.  On the opt-in form, experiment with different copy and design elements to see what truly stands out and inspires the visitors.

    And remember to do A/A tests before you do A/B tests.  The tool or software you use might not display accurate information.

    These tricks can open up your company to a wide body of email subscribers.  That’s just the start – as your email campaigns can lead to social media, RSS, text messaging, and other opportunities in the world of marketing.