Category Archives: Web

Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Part II

In Part I of this series, we hinted at a website search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that involved getting website owners or employees in the business of digital marketing.

That may seem like a good way for a digital marketer to plan for retirement. But believe me, there are more technical roles for the digital marketer to undertake than posting on Facebook, or a blog.

Naturally, I post articles related to my business and my profession for certain reasons. Take this post for example. Within a month or so, it will be found by people who are interested in, and searching for website search engine optimization. Some of them may contact me for help in this area.

But no matter what I write about. If it’s interesting and well written, and if it is well optimized for its subject matter, and if there is ample demand for it, it will be searched for and found. That’s a simple fact of modern life.

Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO) With WordPress SEO by YoastSEO is a big part of my business and my value proposition as a consultant and service provider. So I tend to write it about it more than, say, pizza (something I love even more than SEO).

So what about you? What about your business? What about your value proposition? Is that something you can write about? Do you love it? Do you at least like it enough to write something interesting about it, or would you rather try to make your living eating pizza?

Now, as an SEO professional, I have a little bit of an edge over the average blogger – I understand WordPress SEO, I have it installed on this blog, and I know how to use it, optimally.

Some of our customers also have blogs, but most just post on Facebook. After all, doesn’t everybody? And that’s great, because it proves that YOU CAN PUBLISH TO THE WEB. We couldn’t say that 15 years ago when I had just started forming the concept of mywebmarket.com, a web based marketplace that YOU operated from your own WebAds account (with a little help, when needed).

That concept is more viable today than ever before. And yet getting business owners to write about their businesses is still a struggle.

But it’s my job to help! So our customers (and our newsletter subscribers) will be receiving a special offer to have a WordPress blog installed, with the WordPress SEO plugin included.

The offer will include a hands-on screen sharing tutorial via Google Hangout that clearly shows how I optimize posts using basic SEO optimization strategy (in conjunction with WordPress SEO) using real post by post examples, including this one.

But most importantly, I’m going to show the results, in my Google analytics account, that prove beyond a shadow of doubt, how well these techniques can work.

And these business owners will see how to apply these same techniques to their business, and to their website optimization strategy, to achieve the same great SEO scoring, and results.

I’ll even do a little of the heavy lifting and optimize their first few posts so that they can have a template for success to look back upon going forward.

The offer is going out once in October and once in November, and it’s only going out to newsletter subscribers.

There’s only so much I can convey in a blog about website search optimization – what we’ll convey in the coming live, interactive Google Hangout will go far beyond a single post – but if a single post gets you there, that’s good enough for now.

SEM: The Challenge of Technical Keywords

In our increasingly complex and technical world, we take for granted many new technologies and related terms that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Because searchers on the web have varying degrees of familiarity with these terms, their ability to find what they are looking for varies as well. To say that technical keywords present a challenge in digital marketing would be something of an understatement.

As technical terms and keywords grow continually, so grows the necessity to distinguish the nuances of our technical lexicon.

PPC, SEM and SEO - the challenge of technical keywordsEven in the practice of SEM / SEO , we have growing permutations of technical jargon. So when we market a client’s technical product or service, we should be equally sensitive to the many variations of terms that could  veer quality searchers away from our content. We should also be on the lookout for close match searches that bring the wrong kind of searcher to our online destinations – because we can be paying dearly for “clickers” who bounce away (leave our destination) quickly – which has negative consequences beyond just an irrelevant visit.

With SEO, we look at webmaster tools and analytics to determine what search terms are attracting visits, and we make a judgement call about the value of those terms – and based on that, we adjust.

With SEM, we use AdWords Dimensions to track terms that trigger paid clicks, and fine tune with negative keywords and keyword matching options. Let’s talk about that for a moment, and try to close the gap between what we think Google is supposed to do, and what we observe it actually doing in practice.

If you’ll look at the link above, at the way Google defines phrase match and exact match, I think you’ll find that in practice, query matches tend to be much less restrictive than those simple explanations provide. And this tendency is greatly magnified in the realm of technical jargon, due to the burgeoning of technical terms that correspond to similar (in the mind of the searcher) yet irrelevant (in the mind of the advertiser) offerings.

Let’s say you’re a manufacturer of high tensile strength coated fibers that are superior to steel cable in bridge suspension applications for the construction engineering industry.  You may need to avoid being confused with fiber optic cable manufacturers who supply a completely different product to the telecommunications industry.

Or you could be a service bureau who provides optical scanning services to convert contracts and invoices into digital format for a line of business workflow database – and somehow be confused with providers of digital converters for analog television sets.

I know it sounds absurd, but I’ve seen both, and I’ve seen searchers click on Ad text that has NOTHING to do with what they are searching for. In fact, I’ve literally seen them do this in droves (to my complete dismay) partly for the reasons cited above.

Clearly, as the complexity of your offerings increases, variations of exact matches will need to increase as well.

We have to remember that in our technical world, there are many levels of acumen and understanding. These levels range from novice searchers just beginning to learn how to effectively find their target destinations on the web, to advanced searchers who are far more likely to search more narrowly and click more precisely.

And keep in mind also that search perspectives can vary by measures beyond intellect or sophistication alone. A CFO will not search using the same terms as a CIO – but both can be influential in a complex enterprise technology sale.

Objective: Quanitity of Clicks or Quality of Searcher?

In our Adwords campaigns, when we see a keyword beginning to dominate impressions and clicks, it’s generally a good indication that the term is too broad. That’s when we peer into the Adwords Dimensions tool and look at the keywords that are generating clicks.

When we do that, we begin to see a whole new dimension of what is being searched for, relative to our marketing intent. And as with any other metrics tool, we adjust accordingly. Then we begin to ask ourselves, “Who are these searchers?” Are they decision makers, influencers, or even obstructionists? Are they employees of our target accounts, or are they our own competitors, or perhaps industry analysts?

They could even be potential partners searching for ways to support their clients, who in turn support our efforts (as partners – which sometimes occurs) in our high-dollar complex technology sale.

The term “Dimensions” is quite fitting for this AdWords feature tab. I highly recommend exploring it, along with each of the 12 drop down views below, especially “search terms”. Using Dimensions, you’ll be able to fine tune your matching and decide where exact matches need to be used.

But you’ll gain more than that – you’ll begin to gain the perspective of your searchers as they arrive at your content. And that perspective is invaluable.

Redefining Your Keyword Strategy

As businesses mature they tend to spend a lot of time refining their keyword strategy. This approach includes looking at existing keywords and measuring their performance in various ways.

Don't overcomplicate your keyword strategy ...Inspecting and managing keyword performance is important, but in our ever-changing world, defining (or re-defining) your keyword mix can be equally important.

In fact, this may just be the most important part of “refining” your strategy, especially in our ever-changing world of technology.

How Did You Originally Define Your Keyword Strategy?

Assuming you did it correctly, you probably originally established your keyword mix by answering  a few simple questions, like:

1) What are we really good at?
2) What do we want to do more of?
3) What makes us successful?

Now there are more questions we could ask, like “what is really profitable for us?” or “what do our customers love?” and these are good sub-questions to ask. But in essence, they pretty much fall under the three questions above, or some variation of those.

The objective here is not to limit yourself to three questions, but rather to take a sometimes overcomplicated idea and make it simple.

In the world of B2B software consulting for example, a system integrator might have a difficult time just answering those three questions (believe me, I know) because the answers are pretty much in a state of constant flux.

Software partners are constantly changing their licensing or pricing structures, new versions and new features constantly come to market. New acquisitions can come into play, new talent appears, and opportunities for new business (along with prospect focus) can change fairly regularly.

Keyword  Content Gets Indexed More Quickly

In the early days of SEO, the time it took to for spiders to index a new page or keyword change was typically about 60 days. But today, with the prolific growth of search engine spiders, databases and algos, content changes or additions can take effect in search results much more quickly.

In the case of social media,  ideas or offers can be seen immediately, and promoted across multiple networks. And, in our webmaster tools accounts, we can ask Google to “fetch” our changes literally on demand.

Today, it’s a matter of days, even hours (not months) for content to be indexed, liked or shared.

How Will You Refine Your Keyword Strategy?

While some businesses stick to a branding strategy of consistent keywords that speak to their unique and enduring strengths, not all businesses are so lucky as to have earned the status and brand recognition required to rest on their laurels.

There is no truer proof of this than in the very competitive realm of technology development – because inevitably (and by definition) technology is always changing .

So we always have to re-evaluate our original questions, with our emphasis placed on the context of “TODAY”.

What are we really good at TODAY?
Our business has probably evolved (even traditional businesses do, to some extent) since we established our original keyword mix. We have probably hired new people, developed new talents, created new offerings and opened up new markets as a result.

This is an excellent time to practice the art of story telling on our company blog, which articulates that evolution – rich with those new keywords. Who are the champions of these positive changes? Can we tap into their expertise to really tell the story accurately and credibly?

What do we want to do more of TODAY?
We ask this important question because the reasons behind “why we want to do more of this” can be many, and not so obvious. There may be strategic partnerships that could be strengthened, there could be new, high margin opportunities available, or certain strategic rewards could be enabled, that are beyond the surface.

Again, leadership within the company deserves to be aware of the power of a refined keyword strategy toward furthering these goals – both those that are apparent, and those which have a deeper long term purpose. We can guess at the obvious, but we have to ask the question before the answer “either surprises us or not”. If we are surprised, even a little, the question was well worth asking.

What makes us successful?
This open ended question is meant to be more thought-provoking than the knee-jerk response of “making money”. Sure, the profit motive is a very important consideration, but what gets us there? Happy customers? Happy employees? Happy partners? Happy regulators? So when we put some thought into this, it’s again worth devoting some time to the less obvious answers.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with devoting a  blog post or a social mention to something that indirectly contributes to your success, especially if you want to build that enabler and grow that aspect of your business.

By starting with a simple foundation when defining your original keyword strategy, and by asking the right key people the right questions TODAY, you’ll have an organic, evolving keyword strategy that always taps into the relevance of your evolving business strategy.

Refining your keyword mix is certainly pertinent to the larger SEO strategies we talk about in other articles. In fact, you’ll probably notice a common thread among all our articles which support the larger idea of a comprehensive marketing strategy.

In that comprehensive strategy, each component strengthens the other, so that you are leveraging specific best of class techniques to support the broader strategy.

image credit: www.website-promotion-help.com

Mobility Unleashed

nationwideWhen you consider the Q1 2013 statistics on mobile traffic in SEO / SEM environments, 21% combined tablet and smartphone traffic to desktop is nearly double the 12% we considered “good”  a year and a half ago. But not nearly as impressive as it could be.

For a current customer’s Q2 2013 results to have reached 151% is startling, even though we did make the effort to optimize their mobile CTR. We felt it was a given that a transmission repair shop be mobile optimized due to the strong possibility of a “need to go mobile” in the event of an on-the-road breakdown.

We also wanted the landing page to affirm to users that their smart phones were indeed an effective utility tool, to solve an immediate problem, so it’s no accident that the landing page has a “Swiss Army Knife” look and feel. We wanted users of the Google mobile search app to be served this page in one click of a spoken key phrase, then click to call.

Click the image to see if you might do that in an on-the-road-breakdown scenario.

I mentioned this in a relevant blog earlier in Q2, citing various CTR’s and mobile expectations of again 12-22% max (we hadn’t nearly reached this level of mobile penetration yet, but could see it trending).

We have these metrics available for review, however over a longer time-span we are seeing about 60% mobile to 40% desktop for this account. Based on the type of vertical market, mobile is gaining mindshare quickly, beyond all expectations and predictions to date.

How Do You Measure Your Web Site’s Success?

engageFor most people, the answer to the question above may seem obvious, and yet, when you think about it, the best answer may not be as obvious as it seems.

I can tell you for a fact that most businesses cannot articulate the top three objectives of their web presence on a moment’s notice. I also know of at least two large organizations who (informally) rate “increase visits to the website” as the number one priority of their web department. And yet, if and when the question is posed, “Why?” no one at the executive level has a clue. And if you were to ask, “What kind of visitor?” the deer in the headlights look would be even more pronounced …. after which tensions can be reduced with the light-hearted follow up question, “Humans?”

Like any other worthwhile endeavor, the development of a web presence should have a strategy, clear goals and objectives, and a way to reach them.

 

As a business or organization sets out to define objectives, being completely honest may reveal things like:

1) Because we want to look cool
2) Because everyone else has one
3) Because it’s just something you have to do in this day and age

… and similar types of reasoning. To admit that these are your goals, if they are, is a great first step in evaluating how to improve them, and make them a bit more meaningful. To set meaningful goals and objectives requires some self-reflection, corroboration, buy-in and support in many cases, but it’s a relevant excercise, because a good web developer can turn goals and objectives into actionable items like:

1) make the phones ring
2) have them forward policy issues to House and Senate
3) sell a lot of our stuff
4) attract and retain quality staff
5) get that contract business that’s been out of reach
6) change the mindset on that issue
7) attract a buyer (or seller)
8) gather up fresh, new ideas
9) increase our exposure in that area
10) reach a larger audience
11) articulate our value proposition to a global market
12) change the world 🙂

All of these goals and objectives, whether reachable or not, and to what degree, are within the scope of a well developed web strategy.

Come to think of it, I’ve implemented web strategies over the years that have successfully accomplished nearly all of the above.

I’m still waiting for that customer to challenge me to do number 12. Even if only a little bit at a time….