5 of the Most Common SEO Mistakes You Need to Avoid

5 of the Most Common SEO Mistakes You Need to Avoid

If you have a content marketing strategy in place for your business, search engine optimization (SEO) for your business’s website needs to be a part of it. And any SEO expert will tell you that although it’s a timely process and one that requires diligent effort, a properly executed strategy is invaluable to your business.

Search algorithms and SEO best practices are constantly evolving, and you need to make sure that you follow these trends and implement changes within your own website. When your website isn’t optimized correctly, you’ll miss out on search traffic and risk losing new customers to your competitors who have executed their SEO properly.

Don’t get lazy when it comes to SEO for your small business website. Here are some of the more common SEO mistakes that you’ll want to avoid making.

1. Selecting Irrelevant Keywords

Keywords are the words that tell search engines about the content on your website. When a searcher types in a phrase into a search engine, the search engine will populate with relevant web pages based on those keywords. For your website, you want to make sure that you are choosing keywords that are relevant to your business. This will give you the best odds of showing up in search results for items related to your business.

Determine which keywords and phrases you believe potential customers would search for to find things about your business. Conduct keyword research using tools like Google’s keyword planner or the Moz keyword explorer. These tools will help you gain a better understanding of what’s trending, so you can determine the best, most relevant keywords.

2. Posting Duplicate Content

You wouldn’t reuse another business’s logo or tagline, would you? Well, the same should be true of your content. Your customers expect high-quality, original content, and that’s exactly what you should be providing them with. So, copying and duplicating content from other websites is not an option. Not only does it make your website appear incredibly unprofessional, but search engines pick up replicate content as spam and will penalize you for it. Take the time to come up with fresh, unique content ideas that provide value to your customers.

3. Not Utilizing Meta Tags Properly

Meta tags tell a search engine what the content on your website is about. They cannot be seen on a page, but they appear behind the scenes within the code. They are a huge element of SEO and a necessity for performing well with search engines. You’ll want to focus on the following:

Meta keywords attribute – Keywords that are relevant to the page’s content.
Title tags – The title of your page that appears at the top of the browser.
Meta description attribute – A short description of the page’s content.
Meta robots attribute – Tells a search engine what it should do with a web page.

4. Having a Slow Page Speed

Page speed is the length of time that it takes for a website page to load all of its content entirely. It’s simple fact that the longer a web page takes to load, the more likely it is that searches will leave the site, thus increasing your bounce rate and negatively impacting the traffic to your website, as seen below.

As a simple starting point, web pages with large files or images will load slower than those without. In order to avoid this, you can optimize your images and other content. Here are a few more in-depth tips.

5. Not Optimizing for Mobile

In order to succeed in your market, you need to be where your customers are. In 2018, 52.2% of all worldwide online traffic was generated via mobile. Additionally, 57% of all US online traffic comes from smartphones and tablets.

Optimizing your website for mobile has never been more important than it is now, especially with the initiation of Google’s Mobile First Index. This practice means that Google now looks to a website’s mobile version in order to create and rank it within search listings.

To make your website mobile friendly, you’ll need to select a website design that’s mobile responsive. You also want to avoid using flash, as users can’t view those items via mobile. Don’t utilize pop-ups either, as they are difficult to close out of on a mobile device and can impact your bounce rate.

Here’s Why Your Social Media Activity May be Fizzling

Here’s Why Your Social Media Activity May be Fizzling

If your small business has a social media presence already in place, then it’s likely that you recognize the importance of it. Social media can help you engage with customers, build brand awareness, discover new leads and generate sales.

However, having a presence isn’t enough. You need to be utilizing your accounts in a meaningful, creative way in order to reap these benefits. If your campaigns are providing lackluster results, and you’re not generating any engagement, then it’s time to rethink your strategy. Here are a few common reasons why your social media activity may be falling short of expectations.

You Don’t Have a Plan in Place

The first step in creating a sound social media strategy is to plan. Within that plan, you must have clearly defined goals, as well as benchmarks within a specific timeline for meeting them. Without concise goals in place, you’ll never know exactly what you’re trying to achieve through social. This will keep you from creating a strategy that propels your business forward the way you’d like it to. Take some time to determine your most sought-after goals and create a plan for how you’ll achieve them. Keep track of your progress and be patient, as results may not be immediate.

You’re Unaware of Your Target Audience

How can you create content for an audience that you know nothing about? The answer is simple, you can’t. You can try, but it more than likely won’t provide the results you’re looking for. For paid campaigns especially, in order to garner positive results, you need to reach your designated target audience.  Take some time to get to know and understand your audience. Ask them questions and send out surveys to learn more about them. You can then utilize targeting tools to narrow down target audiences and reach the right people. You can determine these audiences based on things like location, interests, gender, age and more.

You’re Using Too Many Platforms

There are so many social media channels out there, and without the proper time and resources, it’s unrealistic to expect small businesses to be present on all of them. You should, however, be present on the channels that are being utilized most by your target audience. Once you’ve determined your target audience, do some research to determine the platforms that will provide the best ROI for your business. Facebook is generally a starting point, so begin there and figure out the other channels that might work for your business.

Your Content is Dull

It goes without saying that if your content is boring, you’re not going to generate any buzz or engagement with your audience. Consumers in the digital era have come to expect a certain amount of authenticity from businesses on social media. That means creating unique, original content that will encourage your followers to engage. Conduct research about what’s going on within your industry and try to format posts to coincide with some of that information. The more interesting your content is, the more likely your audience is to engage with it.

You’re Not Doing Your Research

All of the previously mentioned components fall into this category. In order to succeed with social, you need to conduct regular research to figure out relevant trends, the best posting times, the content that’s going to garner the most engagement, etc. You should always seek to educate yourself on what’s going on within your industry and how it can be utilized in other aspects of your business. Complacency and a lack of insight can be crucial factors in determining success or failure within your social strategy.

 

Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Designing Your Small Business Website

Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Designing Your Small Business Website

There’s never been a better time than now to create or redesign your small business’s website. A good website can expand your local audience to a global one, increase digital sales conversions and brand awareness and help gain the trust of consumers. Of the small businesses that have websites, 69% of them are having annual sales of $1,000,000 – $2,490,000. Additionally, 91% of customers have visited a store because of an online experience.

You need to be where your customers are, and in 2018, most of your customers are utilizing their computers, smartphones and other technology to uncover information about your business. And when they make a Google search, they expect your business to have a website that shows up in those search results.

However, it’s no longer okay to simply have a website. You need to make sure that it’s formatted correctly, is mobile-optimized and has appealing design aesthetics. If your website isn’t designed correctly, it can result in a loss of time, money and most importantly, customers. When designing your new small business website, here are a few common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid making.

Rushing the Process

If you’re opting to go the DIY route when designing your website, and you aren’t an expert, it’s important to take your time and conduct proper research. Often people underestimate the time, planning, thought and care it takes to create a great website. If you’re not prepared to invest the time and money, you’ll only be disappointed when things don’t go the way you’d planned.

Take some time to plan out a schedule before you begin designing. Determine the goals for your site and set time frames for how long each component will take, the resources required and what your plan is to accomplish each. Creating a website can be time consuming and tough, but in the end, you’ll be glad you took your time, planned accordingly and didn’t rush the design process.

Poor Design

There are two ways that your website can flop when it comes to design. You can either have too many design components, or not enough. When a user comes to your site, they should be able to determine exactly what you do/sell in seconds. If they can’t, they’ll leave.

Although it’s important to present a visually appealing design, you want to make sure that it’s not over the top. Don’t cram your site with flashy images or too much text, as it will result in slow load times and may confuse visitors. Instead, inform and educate website visitors by highlighting exactly what your business does and what benefits you can provide.

Confusing Navigation

When a user lands on your website, they likely already have an idea in mind of what they’re looking for. You job is to make it as easy as possible for them to find it. Choose a design template that allows you to create clean and efficient navigation. Ask yourself, is my site too busy? Can I find a specific component quickly? Is what I’m selling obvious?

Focus on your business offerings and create navigation tabs that reflect the most relevant aspects. For instance, if you’re a carpet cleaning company, you might want to have tabs that designate the types of work you complete (commercial, residential, upholstery, hardwood floors, tile, etc.) Keep it simple, clean and easy.

No Call to Action

Your call to action (CTA) is where you tell your visitors what action you’d like them to complete once they’re on your website. You want to make sure that your CTA grabs the attention of the user and provides a clear direction. Here are a few tips when creating a CTA, as well as an example:

-Make sure they are easily visible
-Use words that will provoke emotions
-Provide an incentive for them to perform the action you’re requesting
-Be unique and creative
-Guide them through the process from beginning to end
-Gain their trust for the future

Not Optimizing for Mobile

In the era of smartphones, more and more searches are being conducted on mobile devices. In fact, nearly 52% of all internet users browse websites from a smartphone. You want to make sure that you’re appealing to these customers by having a mobile-responsive design.

When your site isn’t mobile-optimized, the design is completely skewed when viewed from a mobile device. Users see this as confusing and will likely leave your site for a competitor’s within seconds. To avoid this turnover, make sure your site is user-friendly from mobile devices.

Best Practices to Improve Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Best Practices to Improve Your Email Marketing Campaigns

If you’re struggling with getting your email marketing campaigns to perform the way you’d like them to, you’re not alone. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration in terms of email performance, but according to the DMA, 60% of marketers use conversion rates to evaluate an email’s effectiveness.

Email marketing has an ROI of 3800% when implemented correctly, so it’s important for small businesses to know and understand the process. Having a good email marketing strategy in place can help you grow your customer base, build your brand and improve customer relationships. Here are a few best practices for improving your email marketing campaigns.

Use A/B Testing

With so many different combinations available, how are businesses supposed to know what works best? Enter A/B testing or split testing, where businesses can test out two different variations of a campaign component and see which generates more opens and clicks. A/B testing allows you to alter many different things, including subject line, email content, call to action, personalization tactics, images and more.

Utilizing this process, half of your campaign recipients will receive version a and the other half version b. You’ll then be able to clearly see which version is the most successful, based on the benchmarks you’re measuring (open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, etc.) When testing, you’ll want to test only one variable at a time, use as large of a sample size as you can and test at the same time to limit the results being skewed.

Send Welcome Emails

Your customers want to know that they’re appreciated. Especially if they take the time to sign up for something or complete a task. Welcome emails should be sent immediately following a subscriber’s signup. This will increase the chances of keeping your business at the top of a customer’s mind when they are ready to make a purchase.

Welcome emails should be personalized and come from an actual email address, rather than a no-reply address. You should also inform them of what they should expect to receive from your emails, as well as the frequency of them. You can gain valuable consumer insights through these emails by asking customers why they chose to sign up and what they are looking to gain.

Segment Your Emails

You want to collect as much information about your customers as possible in order to segment them. When a customer signs up for emails or makes a purchase, you can ask them to select preferences and indicate their interests in terms of content. For instance, if you’re operating a women’s clothing store, you might want to ask them what kinds of clothing they are most interested in purchasing (jeans, blouses, purses, etc.)

Based on their preferences, you can create more personalized email campaigns that fit these wants and needs. You can ask customers for this information in a welcome email, a new email urging subscribers to update their preferences, or you can segment them based on prior purchases.

Tell a Story

You want to use emails to not only learn more about your customers, but to connect with them on a more personal level. Emotional storytelling can help you build better relationships and show customers that you care about more than simply making a sale. Focus on painting a unique picture for them that will leave a lasting impact and provoke positive emotions. Save the sales pitch for the conclusion of the email.

Search Marketing 101: How to Track and Measure Your PPC ROI

Search Marketing 101: How to Track and Measure Your PPC ROI

Measuring your success and return on investment (ROI) should be a key part of your search marketing strategy. Measurement helps you to understand if you are meeting your goals, forms a benchmark for future budgeting and justifies your marketing spend. Furthermore, effective measurement helps you to optimize the elements of your campaigns on the fly.

Use these insights and tips for tracking and optimizing your search marketing investments.

From Impressions to Conversions: A Primer

Before diving in, it’s worth taking the time to review the various opportunities for tracking search marketing success. Paid search networks offer plentiful opportunities to measure the success of your campaigns. The most basic measurements include:

  • Impressions: The number of times your ad appears during a campaign.
  • Click-throughs: The number of times your ad is clicked on.
  • Click-through-rate (CTR): The number of click-throughs divided by the number of impressions.
  • Cost-per-click (CPC): The cost of each ad click-through.

These metrics are great at giving you a partial picture of success. But for a more comprehensive view, you also need to understand how to track conversions.

Conversion tracking helps you measure campaign ROI by counting the type and number of specified activities consumers complete on your website. How conversion rates are defined can vary between campaigns.

For example, for an online retailer with the goal of increasing sales, their conversion rate may simply be the number of clicks that led to a sale. For a B2B that is trying to generate leads, the conversion rate may be the number of people who downloaded a white paper or subscribed to a newsletter.

In general, tracking the following metrics can help you assess conversion rates:

  • Destination URL: The number of visits to a specific web page.
  • Events: The completion of a specified action such as subscribing to a blog.
  • Duration: The amount of time user spends engaging on a web page.
  • Pages viewed per visit: The number of web pages a consumer visits.

It’s important to note that once you have an idea of how you want to track conversions, you will need to use your search network tools to define and track those conversions.

Dealing with a Longer Conversion Cycle

One of the strengths of paid search is the ability to connect a click to a sale, and for e-commerce businesses selling products to consumers, tracking is often one-to-one. However, for B2B businesses, the conversion cycle can be much longer. The path a customer takes from initial research, to comparison shopping, to becoming a lead, and ultimately, to converting can be a long one.

Dealing with a longer conversion cycle can still be done. Target customers with appropriate messaging based on their current stage in the cycle. Understand that an early-stage click that doesn’t result in a lead may still have value. Setting expectations and having a long-term strategy can help you overcome this hurdle.

One-to-one conversion tracking is difficult for B2Bs when customers are interacting with your business through many channels and on different devices. To deal with this challenge, make sure that you have systems in place through your customer relationship management (CRM) system and call-tracking software to help tie everything together and give you the clearest view of how paid search is performing. When you know which campaigns are doing best (or worst), you can optimize and invest accordingly.

Determining Your Key Performance Indicators 

To track success, you must set relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) as part of your campaign planning process. KPIs align to your specific business goals and will help you select the right ways to measure success and to quickly see what’s working and what’s not in your campaigns.

For example, if your goal is to build your customer base, your KPIs may define the percentage of new customers and conversion rates. If you want to increase call volume, you can set KPIs that measure increases in the number of calls and call conversions.

Dealing with Attribution

Even with advanced analytics and lead tracking in place, many businesses deal with the challenge of attributing everything correctly. An attribution model is a way to give credit for leads to different touchpoints in the conversion path. Choosing the right one for your business is important.

The most common attribution model is last click, but that doesn’t make it the best for your business. The last click model assigns credit to whichever channel drove the user to convert (for instance, if a customer clicks an ad and then converts on the site). But what if a user clicks an ad, leaves the site, and comes back a week later via an organic search?

Put a model in place to help you determine what channels are driving your leads. For B2B businesses with long sales cycles, multi-touch models like time decay make the most sense because they account for many interactions with different channels over time.

Strategies for Targeting the Entire Conversion Funnel

Paid search can play a role throughout the conversion cycle. It’s easy to focus efforts on the bottom of the funnel because that’s where most sales and leads come from. Such ads are valuable, but you can attract so many more potential customers by also targeting people in higher stages of the funnel. This is especially important for B2B businesses.

Target customers at each stage of the conversion funnel with different types of ads.

  • High: Customers high in the funnel are far from converting. They are often unfamiliar with your brand and what you offer. To target these customers, use non-branded search and display.
  • Mid: Customers in the middle of the funnel are aware of your brand but are still researching all the options. These customers may respond best to more specific non-branded search keywords and some branded search.
  • Low: Customers low in the funnel are interested in your brand and are ready to convert. Target them with remarketing and branded search.

To learn more about building your KPIs, measuring ROI, and more, download The growth marketer’s guide to search.

Organic SEO vs. Local SEO: Which Do I Need?

Organic SEO vs. Local SEO: Which Do I Need?

Each of these digital marketing disciplines — organic SEO and local SEO — involves boosting online visibility for businesses and their websites. In other words, both strategies focus on making websites easy to find when potential customers search for relevant products and services of a business. Each discipline comes with its own distinct strategies and techniques and, when strategies for organic and local SEO dovetail with one another, they can become even more powerful.

Organic SEO

Components of organic SEO include selecting relevant keywords for a website that have reasonable levels of traffic with achievable levels of competition. These keywords are then used in page and blog copy, tags (title, meta description and H), internal links and so forth to send signals to the search engines about what keywords are important on that URL in particular and the site, overall.

Optimizing for keywords, though, is not enough. It’s important to also have a diverse set of quality inbound links pointing to a site. In addition to using common SEO tactics to improve your website’s ranking, you should also ensure that your site is well structured and easy to use. Equally as important, make sure the website aids in converting traffic into sales.

As part of organic SEO, it’s important to rank well for keywords that are appropriately paired with the locations of brick and mortar stores, if applicable, so strategically using geotargeted keywords (for example, Jacksonville blue widgets) is crucial. And, this is the point at which organic SEO and local SEO intersect.

Local SEO

A primary goal of local SEO is to have a website place well in the Google Maps local pack for relevant keywords. Not all keywords trigger a local map — only the ones that Google determines have local intent, such as for a pizza parlor or an attorney, a dentist or an ice cream stand.

When a local map does appear for a term, Google is currently showing three listings (the three-pack) and then a “More places” link. Ideally, you want your site to appear in the three-pack. To help make that happen, local SEO strategies include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Google My Business (GMB) optimization
  • Google reviews
  • Citation strategies, which involves verifying name, address and phone information wherever listed online, and correcting errors whenever possible

Local SEO became a unique discipline in 2005 by starting to distinguish itself as a separate branch of SEO. That’s when Google released its Local Business Center and then combined that center with its Google Maps. Although, as searchers, we now take this convenience for granted, that’s when we began to be able to access store information, including hours and contact information, with driving directions and more in one spot.

You can find more information about local SEO strategies here.

Strategic Synergy

Although organic SEO and local SEO each have unique features, commonalities exist, including:

  • Keyword research is essential for both, with organic SEO requiring a broader strategy and local SEO focusing on more niche ones.
  • Location pages on a website play a key role in both disciplines, as they can appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) as well provide key signals to help the site appear in Google three-packs for relevant keywords.
  • Online optimization is important for each, with NAP consistency central to local SEO.
  • Schema, a specialized form of HTML coding, helps Google “understand” the purposes of content; one area of specialization is for NAP, as one example, while another is for online reviews shared on the site.

Reverse Engineering Rankings

To rank well organically, it’s important to create keyword-rich content that engages readers, and to optimize back end tags and new URLs, to steadily increase the number of inbound links and so forth. Creating a quality user experience is also important, which includes (but is not limited to) boosting page speed. You can find more about organic SEO ranking factors in 2018 at Moz.com.

Ranking factors for local search, though, are somewhat different, focused on “relevance, distance, and prominence,” according to Google. “These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search. For example, Google algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.”

To become more relevant, it’s important to comprehensively provide local information about the business. That’s because, the more easily Google can match your business and site with prospects searching for your products or services, the more often this will likely happen.

Distance is an important factor in local search, and Google will look at geotargeted terms used in a searcher’s query and then compare potential search results and their distance from the person. If the searcher doesn’t use a location-specific term, Google will still use what is known about that location when offering up results.

Then there is prominence. Being a well-known brand never hurts. But, even if you’re not a well-established brand, you can build a quality online presence to boost your authority signals. This can include regularly getting Google reviews, building relevant links and citations and more.

Clearing Up Misconceptions

People new to SEO sometimes have misconceptions about local SEO. As one of the most common examples, they might associate “local” with step one and “organic” as a broader step two. In fact, the most powerful SEO campaigns focus on how these two disciplines can be used in tandem to gain the most powerful online presence possible, being found right where potential customers are searching.

So, as a final piece of advice, we recommend you create a customized SEO strategy for your site that, from its inception, includes a focus on both local SEO and organic SEO.