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SEO Still Matters - How To Get Results

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(Posted on Sep 13, 2014 at 04:39AM by William Cosgrove)
For high-quality, highly effective SEO, best practices are essential. You need to follow the latest, most relevant search engine optimization tips to develop and maintain a leading online presence in your sector.

 
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SEO matters
Arguably the single most important factor for a successful SEO effort is buy-in. Everyone in the organization who can have an impact on SEO needs to fully support these initiatives and do their part to improve the company’s digital presence.

This is more of a challenge than it may seem at first glance. Due to its sudden rise in popularity, many believe that SEO was nothing more than a fad, one which can now be safely ignored, or at least downplayed. In particular, they point to the ongoing changes to Google’s search algorithm and page ranking policies as evidence that SEO strategies are doomed to come up short. As Forbes contributor John Rampton recently asserted, though, this is far from the truth. He explained that it is very possible for firms to keep pace with these developments and to react in an effective, timely way. But again, this is only possible if employees at every level are able and willing to put forth the necessary effort.

Additionally, Rampton pointed out that despite these changes, many of the basic principles underlying SEO strategies remain sound, no matter what. A good, solid approach to SEO will yield benefits even as Google tweaks its algorithms.

Lastly, the author noted that SEO is not nearly as complicated as many decision-makers believe it to be. While it is true that there are a number of technical aspects involving website design and the like, SEO ultimately boils down to some fairly straightforward factors: identifying useful keywords, using those keywords in original content and analyzing site traffic over time. This means that you don’t necessarily need to have a person on staff who has a lot of SEO experience – it’s more a question of time and dedication than expertise.

Keeping up to date
That being said, it is important for business leaders and anyone responsible for SEO within an organization to keep informed of how this field changes over time. General trends can determine the best strategy for your firm’s online content.

For example, Search Engine Land contributor Jim Yu noted that SEO best practices formerly centered exclusively on keyword usage. Later, though, the quality of the content started to matter more and more, while keyword use remained an important component.

Now, Yu explained, one of the most important recent developments in this field is the rise of mobile. He pointed out that Matt Cutts of Google recently suggested that there is a very good chance that mobile queries will surpass desktop queries in 2014. As more people turn to their smartphones for search, companies need to react by making sure their websites are optimized for a mobile experience.

To accomplish this goal, it is critical for businesses to choose the right mobile configuration solution. As Yu noted, different tools can have different effects, with some requiring more technical proficiency than others. Picking the best tool for your company will have a major impact on the success of your SEO in the mobile sphere. Responsive design

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For many companies, responsive design is the way to go when it comes to mobile websites. Writing for Business 2 Community, Jason Bowden argued that responsive design should be seen as a matter of both web development and SEO. Responsive design is a relatively easy way to make sure that your website is appealing, attractive and highly functional for mobile visitors.

For one thing, Bowden pointed out, responsive design can help a company’s link-building efforts. A major challenge that firms face when building links is the possibility of link dilution. Link dilution occurs when a particular page has too many outgoing links – each one of those links loses a lot of its power and effectiveness. The more links you add, the more extreme this effect. According to Bowden, though, responsive design can help to ensure that links flow efficiently back to the home site while simultaneously keeping all social links in a single, visible location. All of this goes to improve SEO efforts.

Additionally, the writer argued that responsive web design can improve a number of key aspects of the mobile experience which improve visitor satisfaction. For example, responsive design solutions can ensure that the text size and color of the website are adjusted to accommodate a mobile device’s smaller screen. Furthermore, implemented elements can download more quickly, thanks to the more efficient display of images and content.

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One last factor to consider when pursuing SEO is email. This may seem counterintuitive – it’s not often that SEO and email are mentioned in the same sentence. But as Daniel Faggella argued in a separate Search Engine Land report, email can actually have a major impact on SEO results.

For one thing, emails can encourage consumers to visit and engage with your company’s online offerings.

“Email might not help you rank in and of itself, but an email incentivizing comments and sharing can help ‘move the needle’ on the factors that Google wants to see in the first place,” Faggella wrote.

He further explained that emails can give extra life to a blog or social media post. While these offerings should receive a fair amount of organic engagement, by emailing your subscribers when new pieces become available, you greatly expand your potential visitor total, which helps your search engine rankings.

Faggella also explained that emails can contribute to SEO if you repurpose their content. He noted that email newsletters take a while to write, and there’s no reason not to get maximum value out of it. Posting portions of your email messages on your website can improve SEO and improve content creation efficiency.

What SEO strategies have helped your company increase traffic?

Reposted from Coxblue.com

How Images Can Affect Your SEO and Engagement

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(Posted on Aug 11, 2014 at 03:59AM by William Cosgrove)
 

There was a time when the primary concern of bloggers was search engine optimization (SEO). Since then times have changed to an extent.  SEO is still a vital consideration, but it now shares the platform with another, equally important element: user engagement.

Most SEO’s will tell you that a page with a bounce rate of 90% and up probably won’t rank high on any search engines. It won’t matter how much you try to optimize the page off-site, there is only so much you can do with horrible bounce rate figures. This complicates things for online publishers, but it’s actually a positive development.  User engagement focuses on human interaction, not search algorithms, which is good for publishers with quality content because they can compete based on the merits of their content and the experience they offer users — not just how well they play the search game.

To win the race to draw more clicks, views and more interaction you need a simple, yet important element on each and every page: images.  Images highly support SEO and user engagement, so by using quality images in a productive manner, bloggers, online publishers, and marketers can boost their search engine rankings and their engagement with readers.

This Post Discusses:

  • The connection between Images and SEO
  • How images lead to engagement
  • In-image adverting and it’s connection to monetizing engagement

Images and SEO

SEO has become synonymous with keywords, due in large part to the ubiquity of keyword stuffed online.  Today’s search engines are, of course, far more sophisticated, but that doesn’t stop keywords (when handled with finesse) from having an effect.  Nonetheless, quality and relevant content usually trump any black hat technique in the long term.  Yet, quality and relevant content can still be lost in the shuffle when it comes to SEO thanks to how steep the competition is.  One way to boost search engine rankings — when there’s already quality textual content — is the inclusion of high quality content related images for SEO. A good image is always related to the text.

SEO Content

This is an example of a content-related image

Part of the reason for this is the growing popularity of image searching via search engines: i.e. Google Image Search and similar services.  These searches have reached a level of sophistication that allows them to serve content users what they want, when they want it — and users frequently want images — so their popularity has exploded.  Which means what?

Two things:

  1. Companies with search engines (such as Google and Facebook) are putting more time, effort and expertise into indexing and rating images for SEO on websites to serve users content. If you need proof that this has been happening for a while, you can just check out the wiki page of Face.com, it will give you an idea how much money these companies are willing to invest into understanding images.
  2. The relevancy and quality of those images is being used to affect your site’s search engine rankings.

Even if you’re not serving images, which users are explicitly searching, the images for SEO on your site matter.  Indexing is taking into account alt text, file size, and file name, in addition of course to bounce rate.

Bounce rate is the time the user spends on the site they’ve chosen before heading back to the search engine.  It’s important to both the SEO and user engagement aspects of image inclusion, because it affects one and is an indicator of the other.  A bounce rate that is too high (that is, users are clicking through to your site and quickly abandoning it) will negatively affect rankings; it is also a good indicator that your levels of engagement aren’t optimal.

Bounce Rate

This is NOT an example of a content-related image, even though we are talking about bounce rate

Too few images, and images for SEO that are low quality or irrelevant, can lead to high bounce rate.  Images are good for view rates. In fact, articles featuring images get 94% more total views, which is quite significant, but if your view rates are increasing along with your bounce rate, you may find that the benefit cancels itself out.

So, images have become vitally important to SEO but those images must be worth viewing, and must be a catalyst for engagement.

Images and User Engagement

As mentioned above, studies show that images result in 94% more views, which shows a clear user bias toward articles with images.  So how important are images to engagement, really? Very important.

Photos and videos in press releases increase views by 45%, which is significant because users view press releases for very specific purposes. Usually a user reading a press release is considering increasing their engagement with the company mentioned in the future. Over half of consumers are more inclined to contact businesses which include an image in their search results locally. Over half of consumers are more inclined to contact businesses which include an image in their search results locally.

When purchasing a product online, a staggering 67% of consumers note that the quality of the image depicting the product is of great importance in following through with a purchase.  In fact, most users feel that the quality of the image outranks its description, its specifications, and even ratings or reviews.

And when it comes to Facebook, engagement with photos is 37% higher than engagement with text.

In short, the importance of images to user engagement simply cannot be overstated.  Again, however, with a caveat: users have high standards for images, as they do for all content now.  Images should decidedly add to the overall user experience to increase interactivity and SEO.

Leveraging Images to their Best Advantage

There are two main things for marketers, publishers, bloggers, and social media experts to keep in mind in regards to images for SEO and engagement:

  • Inclusion of images: Images, generally speaking, increase views
  • Images included must be both high quality and relevant to increase engagement in a meaningful way and to reduce bounce back, which would negatively affect SEO

Images also provide something else: the opportunity for quality, engaging monetization.  Their appeal to users and their potential to improve the user experience make them ripe for monetization, if it’s done in a tasteful, engaging, experience optimizing manner.

In-image advertising is one way to take advantage of the value of images while improving user experience, views, and engagement.  In-image advertising also has multiple advantages over traditional advertising; it isn’t subject to “banner blindess” (the phenomenon of users ignoring content-extraneous advertising), and it can be fully integrated into content in an engaging manner.

In-Image Advertising and Images for SEO and Engagement

Of course, all of the advantages and benefits that images can bring to your blog, publication, or social media interactions depend upon the ability to source quality, relevant images.  This can be simple for certain marketing goals, because the content lends itself to image collection. For other goals, and for independent bloggers and publishers, it can be a more complex procedure.  There’s a way to streamline the process for those who wish to monetize their sites with in-image advertising.

In-image advertising platforms like imonomy (full disclosure: I work here) can actually provide content in-image ads packaged with high-quality, content-relevant images.  For example, if the content is a recipe, the image might be a photo of relevant ingredients being mixed with a commercial mixer; should the user mouse over it, they could be presented with links to ads for kitchen appliances.

Ask Yourself

The recent success of sites like PlayBuzz, BuzzFeed, Viral Nova and Bored Panda is mostly attributed to their emphasis on putting images in the spotlight. Most viral content websites today know that an interesting thumbnail is sometimes all you need to create a viral news post. Ask yourself this, would these images be even remotely successful without their heavy systematic use of engaging images?

Conclusion

Users want images and they are far more willing to view a site which hosts images, and far more willing to engage with a site that hosts high quality images.  Images are key to increasing SEO and user engagement.  Ambitious marketers and publishers should take advantage of this, not only by serving their users the image-based content they want, but by marrying those images to non-intrusive, exceptionally relevant, interactive in-image advertising.  Banners and textual ads have become easy for users to ignore. However, users can’t ignore the very quality content they’re clamoring for, so long as the ads are delivered in a positive, experience enhancing way.

The Future

The way I see things might astonish some of you, but I think the next trend is going to be sites with much less text. Today people are talking how words equal better SEO and I don’t necessarily agree. I personally like to think that content will be reviewed by search algorithms in a much more advanced way. In the next couple of years, text won’t be the main things algorithms try to understand, the reason? A picture is worth more than a thousand words.

Reposted from SteamFeed

3 Myths About Duplicate Content

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(Posted on Jul 12, 2014 at 04:50AM by William Cosgrove)

3 Myths About Duplicate Content By Andy Crestodina

The words “duplicate content penalty” strike fear in the hearts of marketers. People with no SEO experience use this phrase all the time. Most have never read Google’s guidelines on duplicate content. They just somehow assume that if something appears twice online, asteroids and locusts must be close behind.

This article is long overdue. Let’s bust some duplicate content myths.

Note: This article is about content and publishing, not technical SEO issues such as URL structure.

Myth #1: Non-Original Content on Your Site Will Hurt Your Rankings across Your Domain

I have never seen any evidence that non-original content hurts a site’s ranking, except for one truly extreme case. Here’s what happened:

The day a new website went live, a very lazy PR firm copied the home page text and pasted it into a press release. They put it out on the wire services, immediately creating hundreds of versions of the home page content all over the web. Alarms went off at Google and the domain was manually blacklisted by a cranky Googler.

It was ugly. Since we were the web development company, we got blamed. We filed a reconsideration request and eventually the domain was re-indexed.

So what was the problem?

  • Volume: There were hundreds of instances of the same text
  • Timing: All the content appeared at the same time
  • Context: It was the homepage copy on a brand new domain

It’s easy to imagine how this got flagged as spam.

But this isn’t what people are talking about when they invoke the phrase “duplicate content.” They’re usually talking about 1,000 words on one page of a well-established site. It takes more than this to make red lights blink at Google.

Many sites, including some of the most popular blogs on the internet, frequently repost articles that first appeared somewhere else. They don’t expect this content to rank, but they also know it won’t hurt the credibility of their domain.

Myth #2: Scrapers Will Hurt Your Site

I know a blogger who carefully watches Google Webmaster Tools. When a scraper site copies one of his posts, he quickly disavows any links to his site. Clearly, he hasn’t read Google’s Duplicate Content Guidelines or the Guidelines for Disavows.

Ever seen the analytics for a big blog? Some sites get scraped ten times before breakfast. I’ve seen it in their trackback reports. Do you think they have a full-time team watching GWT and disavowing links all day? No. They don’t pay any attention to scrapers. They don’t fear duplicate content.

Scrapers don’t help or hurt you. Do you think that a little blog in Asia with no original writing and no visitors confuses Google? No. It just isn’t relevant.

Personally, I don’t mind scrapers one bit. They usually take the article verbatim, links and all. The fact that they take the links is a good reason to pay attention to internal linking. The links on the scraped version pass little or no authority, but you may get the occasional referral visit.

Tip: Report Scrapers that Outrank Your Site

On the (very) rare occasion that Google does get confused and the copied version of your content is outranking your original, Google wants to know about it. Here’s the fix. Tell them using the Scraper Report Tool.

google scraper report

Tip: Digitally Sign Your Content with Google Authorship

Getting your picture to appear in search results isn’t the only reason to use Google Authorship. It’s a way of signing your name to a piece of content, forever associating you as the author with the content.

With Authorship, each piece of content is connected to one and only one author and their corresponding “contributor to” blogs, no matter how many times it gets scraped.

Tip: Take Harsh Action against Actual Plagiarists

There is a big difference between scraped content and copyright infringement. Sometimes, a company will copy your content (or even your entire site) and claim the credit of creation.

Plagiarism is the practice of someone else taking your work and passing it off as their own. Scrapers aren’t doing this. But others will, signing their name to your work. It’s illegal, and it’s why you have a copyright symbol in your footer.

If it happens to you, you’ll be thinking about lawyers, not search engines.

There are several levels of appropriate response. Here’s a true story of a complete website ripoff and step-by-step instructions on what actions to take.

Myth #3: Republishing Your Guest Posts on Your Own Site Will Hurt Your Site

I do a lot of guest blogging. It’s unlikely that my usual audience sees all these guest posts, so it’s tempting to republish these guest posts on my own blog.

As a general rule, I prefer that the content on my own site be strictly original. But this comes from a desire to add value, not from the fear of a penalty.

Ever written for a big blog? I’ve guest posted on some big sites. Some actually encourage you to republish the post on your own site after a few weeks go by. They know that Google isn’t confused. In some cases, they may ask you to add a little HTML tag to the post…

Tip: Use rel=“canonical” Tag

Canonical is really just a fancy (almost biblical) word that means “official version.” If you ever republish an article that first appeared elsewhere, you can use the canonical tag to tell search engines where the original version appeared. It looks like this:

canonical anchor link reference example

That’s it! Just add the tag and republish fearlessly.

Tip: Write the “Evil Twin”

If the original was a “how to” post, hold it up to a mirror and write the “how not to” post. Base it on the same concept and research, but use different examples and add more value. This “evil twin” post will be similar, but still original.

Not only will you avoid a penalty, but you may get an SEO benefit. Both of these posts rank on page one for “website navigation.”

Calm down, People.

In my view, we’re living through a massive overreaction. For some, it’s a near panic. So, let’s take a deep breath and consider the following…

Googlebot visits most sites every day. If it finds a copied version of something a week later on another site, it knows where the original appeared. Googlebot doesn’t get angry and penalize. It moves on. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Remember, Google has 2,000 math PhDs on staff. They build self-driving cars and computerized glasses. They are really, really good. Do you think they’ll ding a domain because they found a page of unoriginal text?

A huge percentage of the internet is duplicate content. Google knows this. They’ve been separating originals from copies since 1997, long before the phrase “duplicate content” became a buzzword in 2005.

Disagree? Got Any Conflicting Evidence?

When I talk to SEOs about duplicate content, I often ask if they have first-hand experience. Eventually, I met someone who did. As an experiment, he built a site and republished posts from everywhere, verbatim, and gradually some of them began to rank. Then along came Panda and his rank dropped.

Was this a penalty? Or did the site just drop into oblivion where it belongs? There’s a difference between a penalty (like the blacklisting mentioned above) and a correction that restores the proper order of things.

If anyone out there has actual examples or real evidence of penalties related to duplicate content, I’d love to hear ‘em.

About the Author: Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. You can find Andy on Google+ and Twitter.

Photo Courtesy of Yehyon Chung, Poptip

Social Media and SEO Smackdown! [Infographic]

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(Posted on Jun 12, 2014 at 06:09AM by William Cosgrove)
Social Media and SEO aren’t just different, in many ways they’re opposites. Social appeals to people. Search engine optimization appeals to a robot. The speed, the reach, the measurement and the content that performs well are all very different.

Knowing the difference will help you decide what content to promote in which channel, how to spend your time, and where to set expectations.

Here’s a breakdown of the differences (and similarities) between social media and SEO.
Speed
  • Social: Although growing a following takes time, social media posts appear instantly and results can happen within minutes.
     
  • Search: SEO is typically slow and uncertain. Even highly relevant pages take days to get indexed and rank. It often takes years to build up enough credibility to compete for the most valuable phrases.
     
Upper Limits
  • Social: There is virtually no limit to the number of people who may share a piece of content. If you’ve ever been part of a mini viral event, you know just how far and how fast things can spread.
     
  • Search: The amount of traffic a page will get from a search engine will never exceed a certain number. That’s the number of people who search for that phrase each day. The search volume for the phrase is the maximum amount of traffic the page will get from search engines.
     
Topics
  • Social: Content that stirs an emotional response often does best, especially emotions such as anxiety, anger, and awe. See Brain Science and Web Design Tips for more information.
     
  • Search: Research-based content often performs best, such as detailed, how-to instructional posts, and articles that answer common questions.
     
Formats
  • Social: Visuals perform best in social media. Images and video are the most shared content on the web. Posts with images generate 53% more likes than average on Facebook.
     
  • Search: Long form text performs best. The average page that ranks high in Google has 1500+ words. See the Ideal Length Guidelines for more information.
     
Audience Intent
  • Social: Visitors from social media marketing are typically less likely to buy since they were likely browsing through a social network when they found you. But they are more likely to share and spread awareness. Social fans and followers often influence potential buyers.
     
  • Search: Visitors from search are more likely to be ready to buy, but less likely to share and interact. These visitors enter with a specific purpose, need, or question.
     
Effort
  • Social: Marketing with social media involves many short-lived actions. Most visibility and traffic happens within minutes. This is why social media requires a continuous, ongoing effort.
     
  • Search: Once it’s working, search traffic can lead to durable visibility, creating an ongoing, passive source of visitors. Depending on the phrase and the page, high rankings may endure for weeks or months.
     
Measurement
  • Social: It’s easy to measure social engagement. Shares, likes, and comments are all highly visible. But it’s hard to measure reach. The total visibility and traffic of all social activity is not easy to report on. There are many platforms and each has its own reports. Social traffic reports in Analytics are not very accurate.
     
  • Search: It’s easy to measure the reach in search engines. The total visibility and traffic from search is centralized in a just few reports, showing keyphrase, impressions, and clicks. But, it’s harder to measure engagement. Keyword data at the page level is no longer provided. It’s difficult to know which keyphrase led to which activity on the website.
     
Interdependence
  • Social: High ranking content brings search traffic that can drive follows, comments, and shares. Social media profiles often rank high. Google Authorship puts social right into search results.
     
  • Search: Smart SEOs know that ranking and links are the outcome of relationships. Blogger relations, PR, and many other search tactics are actually social activities. Skills such as list building, outreach, and pitching are critical to SEO.
     
Like Peanut Butter and Jelly…They’re both about connecting with people. They both benefit from research and data. Social media and SEO come from different directions but end up in the same place: a meaningful connection with an audience.

What’d we miss? Got something to add? Share your view with other readers or let us know if you agree…

Hat tip to our designer over at Visual.ly for the infographic!

By
Andy Crestodina Strategic Director at Orbit Media Studios

Blogging- Become A Social Media Destination Resort

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(Posted on Aug 14, 2013 at 05:40AM by William Cosgrove)

If you are not hosting a blog on your website start one. If you are not posting relevant information and blogs to draw in potential customers do it.
 

Bring the traffic to you and become a destination resort for updates and information so you can reap the benefits and attention that this personal form of content marketing is commanding.


Blogging is like having your own newsreel that provides a direct channel of communication between you and your potential customers.

 

When you communicate with and encourage people to get to know you as well as your business (A name and a face they can related to), your relationship with them becomes more personal and makes you more credible.


Since starting the blog on my Company website traffic has shot up over 2800 percent per month and people are spending time there. Also on our Facebook Page for our Foundation, Funlicoma Foundation, by just finding and posting interesting articles on different subjects draws hundreds of readers per week.


This astounding increase led me to do some research on how blogs ranked in terms of overall Content Marketing.


I found that Studies show that over two thirds of consumers will spend the time to read content on a subject they’re interested in. And blogs and articles that contain images get 94% more views.

 

Blog content is one of the benchmarks by which success in Social Media is tracked. Blogging can also improve your search ranking. Based on a Wishpond Infographic put out this year, companies that blog have 434% more indexed pages and see 55% more traffic to their sites.

 

Blogging is a main component of content marketing and provides many benefits– including increased traffic and visibility and SEO optimization. A company blog is also an effective form of inbound marketing.

 

Blogging is highly beneficial when it comes to improving your social presence. In fact, according to Wishbone, interesting content is one of the top three reasons consumers follow brands on social media.

 

Blogging is cost effective with time being the only real cost. Make your Social presence today and become a part of this social phenomenon mainstream and become a Social Media Destination Resort and you will have customers coming to you.

Written by Bill Cosgrove
DealerNet Services

Is Your Dealership Inside-Out?

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(Posted on Aug 12, 2013 at 04:18AM by William Cosgrove)
Which do you think would be more interesting to your customers – that your dealership is #1 in sales or that your dealership has the largest inventory in the region?

Here’s a hint: One is about you, the other is about the customer.  One is inside-out thinking and the other is outside-in.

The differences between the two can be subtle, but simply put, inside-out thinking is when a company or brand talks about things the company cares about. Usually these are business-related topics like industry awards, marketshare growth, new logos, new hires, and so on – the kinds of things that make more sense in a press release than a newspaper circular.

Outside-in thinking is what your customers care about: added locations, extended hours, new inventory, easy financing, pick-up & drop-off services, if you’re first-time buyer friendly, and so on. Outside-in thinking means thinking outside of the box and looking at your vehicles from the buyer’s perspective.

Think of it this way, when you’re inside out, your mouth is moving. When you’re outside in, you’re listening.

Don’t misunderstand; of course you should present a professional and reputable business presence, especially when it comes to high-ticket, long-term purchases. In fact, a little inside-out thinking is good. However, there’s a time and a place for that – a mention will usually do. What you want is to make customers comfortable as early in the process as possible so you get a shot at their business. Outside-in thinking is the surefire way to draw potential buyers to your door.

So, when you’re branding your dealership, no matter if it’s a radio ad, website or even a vehicle description, approach your messaging from your customers’ point of view and use your “outside voice.”
Posted by Anne-Marie Jeffrey

DealerNet Services

Ten Stats That Will Convince Anyone they need SEO

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(Posted on Aug 11, 2013 at 07:49PM by William Cosgrove)
Do you really know how important SEO is?  Seriously, do you really?

You can’t just have a website with cars on it any more. You’ve got to make sure people can see it, which means you’re responsible for link building, citation building, site optimizing, blog writing, and social media work.

That seems like too much work to most dealers, but numbers don’t lie – and these numbers show just how important SEO is for continued success.

The first stat I hit dealers with is that there are 100 billion searches per month on Google1 - that’s 33 million a day. To put it in better perspective, if each person on the planet were able to, they’d have to search on Google 5 times a day, every day.  This at first seems astronomical, but even today I’ve probably used Google 10+ times for non-SEO related searches.  I usually use this stat to illustrate the importance of Google’s market share to dealers.  Frankly, Google rules, and it doesn’t really matter if your small business ranks high on AOL.

The second stat: 89% of consumers use search engines for purchase decisions as well as (3.) 71% of business purchase decisions are started with a search engine. I know, I know… That’s two stats, Bryant. I threw these together for a specific reason. It is in fact a ‘double-edged sword’ – regardless of the sector or industry you’re in, both companies and consumers are using search engines to start the buying process.

At this point, I’m usually steering a dealer towards answering the “what does this mean for me?” question.  The next stat I use: of the 30 billion mobile searches a year, 12 billion are local.(4.) It is widely expected that in the near future, local searches will account for over half of all mobile searches annually.  This is where I start hammering in the importance of a mobile site.  If you don’t have one yet, you absolutely need one.

With the fourth stat, I try to hammer home the importance of the mobile site. This is when I tell dealers that 77% of mobile search happens at work or home even though a computer may be accessible (5.) As strange as this sounds, it happens more often than you’d expect.  Regardless of where I am, even if I’m at my computer,  if I’m looking for driving directions, I use my phone. At home, if I am browsing on the couch, I am using my tablet.  It never occurs to me to jump on the computer in the office, or to pull up the browser on my home desktop for a simple and quick search.

The fifth stat backs up the mobile aspect even more strongly: 46% of mobile web users are unlikely to return to a website they had trouble accessing from their phone and even more are unlikely to recommend the site (6.) This is succinct enough to illustrate not only the importance of having good mobile content, but a site that’s easy to navigate and isn’t confusing.

The next stat is what I call “the closer” – 55% of purchase-related conversions occur within 1 hour of the initial mobile search  (7.) Simply and strongly put, mobile sites convert at a much higher rate than conventional websites – but if you aren’t doing SEO, no one will find your site… and no one will convert.

The next three stats further illustrate the importance of SEO to dealers: in all searches conducted, 70% of users click on organic results  (8.) that 53% of the organic search clicks go to the first link (9.) and most importantly, 75% of users never click past the first page (10.) This is usually when the bell goes off for most dealers. They finally realize that if they  want to get more clicks, they have to rank the highest in the organic results – and that won’t happen without SEO.

Stats even show that organic search leads are more qualified. SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while those archaic print or direct mail ads only close at a 1.7% rate (11.) Pretty crazy – leads from search engines are 8.5 times more likely to close than a standard outbound lead.

Most dealers aware of any of these points until we talk to them, which is why I’m sharing this post. In fact, Search Engine Optimization is still only an industry term that most people outside of marketing probably hasn’t heard.  These numbers are proof – SEO is not only vital to maintaining a brand, it’s absolutely necessary if you want to stay competitive and grow your business.

Written by Bryant Goodall

DealerNet Services


 Stat Sources:
1 Search Engine Land – August 2012 (http://searchengineland.com/google-search-press-129925)
2 Brafton – February 2012 (http://www.brafton.com/news/89-percent-of-consumers-use-search-engines-for-purchase-decisions)
3 Brafton – December 2011 (http://www.brafton.com/news/search-marketing-alert-61-percent-of-business-purchase-decisions-start-with-search)
4 Search Engine Land – April 2012 (http://searchengineland.com/analyst-mobile-to-overtake-pc-for-local-search-by-2015-119148)
5 Search Engine Land – August 2012 (http://searchengineland.com/study-55-percent-of-mobile-search-driven-conversions-happen-in-one-hour-or-less-151432)
6 Gomez – 2011 (http://www.gomez.com/resources/whitepapers/survey-report-what-users-want-from-mobile/)
7 Search Engine Land – August 2012 (http://searchengineland.com/study-55-percent-of-mobile-search-driven-conversions-happen-in-one-hour-or-less-151432)
8 Search Engine Journal – April 2012 (http://www.searchenginejournal.com/24-eye-popping-seo-statistics/42665/)
9 Search Engine Watch – October 2012 (http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2215868/53-of-Organic-Search-Clicks-Go-to-First-Link-Study)
10 Hubspot – May 2011 (http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/14416/100-Awesome-Marketing-Stats-Charts-Graphs-Data.aspx)
11 Search Engine Journal – April 2012 (http://www.searchenginejournal.com/24-eye-popping-seo-statistics/42665/)

- See more at: http://blog.autorevo.com/2013/08/10-seo-stats/#more-3198

Refresh your marketing - Build a lead generation engine using your website

Tags:
(Posted on Aug 6, 2013 at 09:57AM )
Why should you refresh your website for the purpose of inbound marketing?

  • Because it's cheaper - a lot cheaper - than other marketing 
      (up to 61% cheaper 
    according to research)

  • Because it can be measured - "What, I can measure real ROI on my 
    marketing? You're kidding!" No we're  not.

  • Because it's where you can influence most of your buyers. 
      We are in the "era of the buyer" where 
    the buyer is searching for information  online, all day every day, if you're not 
    there they won't find you. It's that  simple. Over 85% of B2B buyers start their 
    purchasing journey online through  outlets like social media according to research from 
    Forrester
    .

Additionally, digital marketing is evolving at lightning speed, making it difficult for most of us to keep pace, let alone stay ahead of the curve. And,the result of all these advancements is that most marketers are overwhelmed.

Regardless of the rate of change, one indelible fact stands head and shoulders above the rest, it's incredibly important to recognize that simply having a website is not 
enough
.

In today's world, B2B marketers must adapt their website and turn it into an  
inbound marketing lead generation machine. That may seem a lofty goal. 
So, your website will need to wear many hats. A website needs to perform and 
not just  exist
. Your site needs to attract visitors, educate them and  convince them to buy.


In most cases, the traffic you drive to your website from blogs, social media 
sites, as well as organic and paid searches ends up converting into leads or 
sales. Without your website acting as an online "home base," it would be 
difficult to attract new business. This is why having an effective website is 
so  crucial – and why it's so important that it contains powerful key elements 
to  drive more traffic, leads and sales.


Whether you have some experience in inbound marketing and just want to brush 
up your skills or you know you need to evolve your current marketing, take our  
B2B Marketing Health  Check to find out your starting position. "Auditing" where you are now 
is  the first crucial step in building a plan for moving forward.


1) Getting found by your buyers
Let's face it, it's not going to be much of a website if no one visits. 
Therefore, your first mission is to get found online
covering the very top of your inbound  marketing strategy funnel. Building 
inbound links, discovering the secrets to on page SEO 
and how to create effective meta tags  are all essential ingredients. 



2) Investing in good design and usability
Let's assume you're really gaining traction – getting found online. Your next 
focus is to get that traffic to stay and not stray
Remember, you only have one chance to  make a good first impression.


Make sure your website reflects your brand and positions your company as 
trusworthy and credible. Don't underestimate the power of good design, 
including: navigation, fonts, colours, images and branding consistency.


But don't get caught up on the need to "look pretty", and instead focus on 
the functionality of your site. How easy is it for people to find what the are 
looking for? Equally important, is your message blisteringly clear? 
Really? I mean really! Or are you disguising your ability to genuinely help 
your  buyers under layer upon layer of corporate double speak and product 
gobbledygook  about why you are the best game in town?


3) Building content
With the rise of inbound marketing, content has become front and 
centre
 in the minds of marketers.  It is what search engines and 
potential customers are looking for. It's what  drives visitors to your site and 
turns prospects into leads. There is no  disputing that content is king.


However, while search engines are getting smarter and smarter and buyers are 
becoming more and more selective, it is quality content that 
is  king. When it comes down to it, your buyers' reaction to your content will 
be  the ultimate test. Does your content generate leads? Do you have a content 
marketing plan that fuels your lead generation engine? 


4) Converting at each funnel stage
Now that you've increased traffic to your website, it's time to convert prospects to 
leads
. Don't let visitors leave your  website without providing 
them with valuable information or you'll lose the opportunity to nurture 
them
 until they are ready to buy.


Landing pages are one of 
the most important elements of  effective lead generation. Building powerful 
landing pages allows you to direct  your website visitors to targeted 
information, present them with robust calls-to-action and 
capture leads at a much higher  rate.


5) Measuring results
By measuring your inbound 
marketing
 you get to see what is and is  not working and then you 
can change where you invest your precious marketing  time and dollars. Small 
incremental tuning of your inbound marketing engine  produces significant 
overall improvement in the quality of leads on which your  sales team can 
feed.


If your business is struggling to adapt to new marketing strategies or, you 
simply haven't been able to generate a real impact in your chosen market, it may 
be time to conduct a marketing audit.

How To Set A Budget For Your New Website

Tags:
(Posted on Aug 6, 2013 at 09:06AM )
The truism “You get what you pay for” is as true as true can be when it comes to building a company website. When small firms fail to budget properly, one of these nightmare scenarios is likely to ensue:

  • The site ends up costing two or three times more than expected, causing all-important post-launch marketing activities to be cut back or eliminated.
  • The site ends up having half or a quarter of the desired functionality, rendering it nearly useless.
  • The site ends up as a series of compromises in design, content and functionality, making a mediocre impression on customers and prospects.
The underlying problem, as these three scenarios suggest, is under budgeting — or not budgeting at all. What’s the best way to set a budget and lay the groundwork for a site that meets your expectations?

Step One: Create Site SpecificationsSetting a realistic budget starts with having an idea of what you want the site to do, so let’s start there. Important things to consider include:


  • Design. How much customization do you want? Will a standard WordPress theme suit your needs? Do you need a custom design from the ground up? Something in between? Do you have imagery for your new site, or will photos need to be taken? If so, how many photos (or other imagery such as charts and diagrams) will be needed?
  • Content. How much unique content will your site need? 10 pages? 100 pages? Will it be easy or hard to write? Do you have the ability and bandwidth to write it, or will you need to outsource copywriting? If outsourced, will the writer need to do extensive research to write the copy properly?
  • Functionality. Do you need more than a basic contact form? Do you want to offer downloadable PDFs or other information? Do you want leads from various forms to be tracked? Will you need e-commerce, and if so, what type of payment options? Are there any other functional requirements, such as integration with internal systems or third-party e-commerce sites? Do you want to optimize your site for search engines (SEO)? Will you need W3C or other compliance? Do you want Flash design or a customer portal?
Step Two: Seek ProposalsOnce you have a rough list of desired site specifications, you’re in a position to solicit proposals. A web development agency (or freelancer) will need these inputs from you to provide a reasonable estimate. The proposal might match up precisely to your specs, but more likely, it will have modifications based on practical considerations or the agency’s capabilities. This is OK; often, a developer has ideas that reduce cost and yet meet your needs.

Considering three or four proposals on the initial go-around is best, because you’re apt to see a fairly wide range of prices and approaches.

Step Three: Align Expectations and CostsA likely outcome will be the realization that your desired site costs much more than you expected, but this is OK, because you’re now in a position to have a meaningful review of development options, their real value, and their real cost. The biggest disconnects that are revealed by following this three-step approach include:


  • Design disconnects. Creating images is expensive and time-consuming. Often, firms don’t care about images in the early stages of a project, but later on, when they see boring, text-heavy pages on the test site, they desperately want a lot of customized imagery. Settling for tired stock imagery, the usual Plan B, results in a generic-looking, unimpressive site.
  • Content disconnects. Content is far more expensive and time-consuming to create that most people realize. Firms often assume they can have an employee whip up content at the last minute, and learn too late that’s an impossible task.
  • Functionality disconnects. Firms typically have no idea what pieces of site functionality — some of which were detailed above — actually cost. They become frustrated in mid-project when they ask the developer to “throw in” a little e-commerce and discover it costs $5,000 to do so.
By using initial proposals to set a budget for your site project, you prevent unpleasant surprises down the line. In addition, you’re more likely to find the right developer for your project and create a site that is truly right for your business in terms of overall performance and cost.

Following this plan takes serious upfront strategic thinking and grunt work, but the payoff is big. Pulling a budget out of thin air, or committing your business to a new site without a budget at all, are risky approaches that can drain your bank account and set back your Internet marketing for several years. It’s an unnecessary risk.

Brad Shoor, Contributor

DealerNet Services

Relying On Organic SEO? Your Losing Customers!

Tags:
(Posted on Jul 19, 2013 at 05:17PM )
Have you noticed that more and more ads have been creeping into Google’s search results over the last few years? The result is that all the actual search results (known as “organic” results) are being pushed further and further down the page. The Problem In the screenshot below you can see the Google Ads highlighted in the red rectangles. This is what the Google results page looks like if I search for “Brisbane mechanic” on a laptop with a screen resolution of 1280×800, which is fairly common for 14″ or 15″ laptops (different screen resolutions will show more or less of the results page). As you can see, only two organic results show on the page without needing to scroll down. The content that shows at the top of the page without having to scroll down is known as being “above the fold“. In the same space there are SIX ads! Not to mention the ads get pride of place at the top of the screen, encouraging more people to click on them.


 
 
If you’re like me you probably ignore the ads and just scroll down to the organic results, or maybe you have a plugin like AdBlock and don’t see any ads at all. So what’s the big problem? The problem is that most web users aren’t that savvy, and many don’t even know that there’s a difference between those first three listings and the rest. Many people are just lazy and will click on the first result they see. Ask your  mother or grandmother to search for something on Google. I bet they click on the ad

For some results there aren’t ANY organic results above the fold. That means everything you see after you search is advertising!



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What Else Can I Do? “I want to rank number 1 on Google” is not a valid digital marketing strategy. Even less so now that the actual organic listings are being pushed so far down the page. The good news is there are so many other things that you can be doing to improve traffic to your website other than “traditional” SEO. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Embrace social media. I don’t mean go and post funny cat photos on Facebook. I also don’t mean to go and buy a bunch of fake Facebook likes on Fiverr. I’m talking about actually being social. This gets right to the heart of what social media is about. Do some research and find out where your target market is active online – is it Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? TripAdvisor? The answer will vary depending on your industry and the demographics of your target market. Once you know where your target market is, go and be social with them! Think about what that means. Is standing on a soap box yelling about your latest products or services “being social”? No! Yet that’s exactly what most companies do on their social media accounts. What you should be doing instead is being helpful, getting involved in conversations and solving people’s problems.
  • Become the authority for information or news on your topic. Seek out and write for relevant publications that may reach your target audience. A good way to do this is to look on websites like SourceBottle for journalists and bloggers that are seeking sources for their articles. Get in contact when they’re looking for something that you can help with, and you’ll often end up in a magazine, newspaper or on a website appearing as the expert on a certain topic, with a link to your website.
  • One of the best ways to get extra exposure and PR is to network with other people in the industry, and with opinion leaders. Do the groundwork and build up these relationships and it will pay off in the longer term. If you need help with networking, I’d highly suggest reading Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.
  • Make the most of your existing customers and website traffic by getting them to sign up to regular e-mail newsletters. Once a month or quarter may be enough, depending on your website. Don’t send out updates just for the sake of it. Offer something interesting, insightful, newsworthy and/or funny. This will keep people coming back to your website and keep your brand front-of-mind.
  • Find relevant blogs and comment on them. You’re not commenting for the power of the backlinks, but once again to help build your name as an expert and someone helpful. Be sure to use your name (not your company name) as this will make it much easier for people to relate to you, and you’ll come across as much more genuine and approachable.
  • Go the extra mile for your customers. Word of mouth always has been (and still is) one of the most powerful forms of advertising you can get. Your customers will become advocates for your company (and website)!
  • Branding is super important. Make sure your brand is consistent and easily recalled by customers. A nice clean website design is also important, as bad design can result in visitors clicking the back button straight away. Come up with a great tagline or business name and it will stick in people’s minds much longer. Guess who they’ll think of when they need the product or service that you provide?
These are just a few ideas, and none of them are new. What is important is that while everyone talks about doing these things, hardly anyone actually follows through! The end result of all these actions will be more direct traffic for your website, more income for your business and, ironically enough, better search rankings! All of these points will either directly or indirectly influence your search rankings. So how about spending less time on building crappy links, and more time actually working for your customers?
by Luke Chapman

DealerNet Services

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