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When Should Startups Start Building An SEO Strategy?

I was approached by a startup founder the other day about when to approach SEO? To say I get this question or the question of how to get started often, would be an understatement. I’ve been doing this since 2002, dating myself quite a bit, which is a really really long time. I’ve seen all the iterations from spam to “white hat” to the usability side of it, and I always come back to the same things: build a great product, have great site architecture, and create amazing content…and you’ll easily win!

Okay, I know, that’s easier said than done. Because, of that, not a lot of startup founders have the experience I’ve had when it comes to launching into building an SEO Strategy or Program, no matter the stage.

Also, I have found many of these startups have investors OR advisors telling them they need to start doing SEO right away. (And, while it does Visible Factors an injustice to say that is incorrect advice, we’re not in the business of billing, just to bill.) It’s important to think through the phase the business is in relative to the approach of SEO the company should be taking.

Sometimes just an SEO Audit is a great start

One of the things I always tell people is to get started building SEO into your product from the day you get started. When founding Eventup, it was pretty easy for me to start building in the best practices, infrastructure, and requirements to start owning certain phrases quickly, because of my knowledge and experience. But, if you or your team is not well versed, it’s best to bring someone on with this expertise to build this out for you.

An SEO Audit can be pricey, but, you know what is even pricier? Getting an audit six months later and having to re-architect your site architecture, URL architecture, and page content all over again. You’ll be paying for the audit, plus all the development costs to re-engineer a large part of the site. Plus, add in the time and effort to pert resources from product development to this.

I always recommend at least starting here so you can get the basics implemented and lay the groundwork for future endeavors around SEO.

SEO just might need to wait

Great, so now I am contradicting myself, but, I promise it makes sense. If you’re an e-commerce marketplace or content/media company, it makes total sense to get moving right away because SEO can be a big part of your growth. But, other examples like lets say a B2B company targeting restaurants, yoga studios, etc. should wait on SEO because you’re even sure if there truly is search intent out there and if people will convert based on that intent. Many SMBs are bombarded with people trying to advertise to them and other searches like “how do I get customers” are so generic you might not even generate a conversion.

Where should I start before SEO? 

Usually my recommendation here is, start testing some SEM to understand if people are actually converting. Don’t worry about the conversion rates, don’t worry about optimization of keywords. But, answer three simple questions:

  1. Can I drive people to our website and have them convert into customers or leads?

  2. Is there enough search intent and volume of phrases people are searching for to benefit the endeavor?

  3. Can we afford to invest in this for 6-12 months before seeing a considerable return?

Answering the question about conversion is especially important because it would be a calculated mistake to start driving all this traffic to the site, have a terrible bounce rate and hurt your overall SEO relevance. (Bounce rate is a ranking factor). On top of that, if the traffic now doesn’t convert, and, you haven’t solved for that, you’re going to lose  an opportunity to convert what could be a lifelong customer and your brand will take a hit. People might be averse to clicking on search results if the experience is so bad they remember it and don’t ever want to come back. Maybe less dramatic, every time they enter through search, they might bounce, which negatively impacts your SEO long term. Once the site is optimized for conversions, driving organic search traffic will be able to drive a great return and brings down eCPA.

When it comes down to search intent and search volume, this is mostly focused on primary converting terms. Things like “comfortable women’s sweaters” or “engagement rings” or even “small business website builder.” Which leads me to the last question around can you afford to invest time and energy into an SEO Program knowing filling the top of the funnel with traffic will lead to conversions and revenue.

If you have solved for the above and you know people coming to the site will convert into customers, it’s now time to think about the investment of resources. There are many paths you can veer down in order to build more traffic to fill the top of the funnel and this is where SEO can get fun due to the somewhat “free” nature of the traffic. Building content relevant to the customer profile you have can be a great way to get people familiar with the brand at any point in the customer experience.

Creating a blog with content that answers specific things your customer might be searching for and/or content they might be interested in reading about are great ways to generate traffic even higher up in the journey. Organic search allows you to keep getting the brand in front of the customers, driving impressions and one undervalued thing is the building of customer lists and audience retargeting, thus leading to lower CPA from paid channels, more customers, as well as the benefits from the organic traffic.

Create things like resource centers, help centers, content directories, among many other examples in order to create evergreen organic search traffic that people will always be searching for to answer simple questions they might have. Creating a blog with tips, tricks, DIY ideas, etc. could spark someones interest in something they’ve been looking for. And, those ideas could lead to vitality effects of people sharing that content. Being a resource is a great way to drive brand awareness, conversions, and customer loyalty without even attempting to sell your product or service, and doing this from organic search with no customer acquisition cost associated will help even more.

Just remember to ask yourself if you are truly ready to get started with SEO. It’s not a simple process, it requires a lot of time and energy and dedication by your product, marketing, and technology teams to be done right. You’re going to need to be okay with investing 6-12 months of time without seeing a return because you’re at the mercy of Google’s search engine. SEO is not like CPC traffic that you are paying for clicks via keywords or demographic targeting. SEO is holistic, requiring you to get the right phrases on the pages, with the right architecture allowing search engines to crawl and index your content, and generating authority through links. If you think of it this way, holistically, and have some patience to understand it will take time, you will almost positively see the fruits of your labor with all that juicy sweet organic search traffic that you won’t have to pay for.

Google Broad Core Algorithm Update: What You Need to Know and What to Do Next

Many people in the digital marketing world were impacted last month when Google introduced a Google broad core algorithm update. There has been an obvious and visible change in the rankings of search results for many websites. Google confirmed this via a tweet:


Here is Google’s official statement:

“Just like with every broad core update, webmasters around the world are once again going over ranking fluctuations and examining ranking factors with a fine-tooth comb. Many websites hoped their rankings would increase, and it did, while others either had a drop of rankings or no change at all.”

Google Broad Core Algorithm Update vs. Core Search Update

If you are unfamiliar with digital marketing or SEO, Google updates and changes their algorithm very often, more often than they even announce. They do two types of updates – small daily algorithm updates and major ones several times per year.

Daily algorithm updates – core algorithm updates – generally happen a couple times a day, but are not really reported and there isn’t much info revealed about them. On the other hand, the Broad Core Algorithm Updates happen only few times per year and usually make significant changes in search results for users. These updates are focused on improving the quality of search results and providing the best possible user experience to it’s users. This is really the main difference, creating more relevance, between the two types of updates.

What do I do if I’ve noticed Rankings have dropped?

Many people have noticed a drop in their key rankings for some search queries. This is due to the fact the update was focused on improving user experience by providing contextual results based on search intent. Just like the update from March, there are no website fixes for those hit by the update. 

If your website, or some of your key pages had a drop in ranking after the broad core update, it is not because your website lacks quality, has issues, or is being penalized. Google explains this as a result of having other pages which were “under-rewarded” and now are ranking higher after the update. Or as Google officially stated:

“As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may perform less than well, now. Instead, it’s the changes to our systems that are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded.”

One of the things you can do is identify if there are content pages that are lacking in quality and see if there is a need to overhaul your content strategy or just make some minor updates to it. The key is to remember to tailor it to the search intent of your target audience. Based on our research and findings, we noticed that the focus has shifted from keyword-centric results to topic-based results. This is Google’s way of providing searchers with insightful results answering their search queries, matching search intent more closely. 

Even Google’s Danny Sullivan stressed the importance of high-quality content in a tweet soon after the official announcement of the algorithm update.

Actionable Tips in the aftermath of the Broad Core Update

First and foremost, take some time to identify the pages that dropped in rankings, how considerable the drop was, and what websites replaced yours. Do an analysis of your previously high-ranking pages and compare them with the ones that took over in rankings. Try to discover what makes the content on those pages better, more relevant and what matchers searcher intent as compared to the content you had that was rankings previously. 

Keep in mind, just like with any update, Google may roll back a few of the changes and you might have seen some rankings return, I have yet to notice this, but, keep an eye out. Monitor the SERPs carefully while you strategize your new content creation approach. When you do decide to start creating content, make sure you do extensive research! Quality over quantity generally works, but, keep an eye on what Danny mentioned above. 

Think about your overall content strategy, how the new research you’ve done has made you re-think or want to re-work the content strategy. This doesn’t mean stuffing pages with more content OR drastically re-writing entire sections of your site. Rather be thorough, be thoughtful, and be mindful about the approach and take into account the research you did relating to the sites now rankings for the terms you once were.

(Of course, our team would be happy to help you identify these trends and any obstacles you may have around your search rankings. Feel free to reach out about seo consulting and our team will be happy to help you!)

 

Featured Snippets and SEO

What You Need to Know About Featured Snippets

 

Featured snippets are short, direct answers that show up on top of Google search results as an answer to a search query. Featured snippets are a result of good on-page content best responding to search engine query.

 

There are three types of featured snipped that can show up in search: paragraph, list, table.  Paragraph is the most common type, occupying 82% of snippets.

 

Featured snippets are enticing to marketers because they can easily get you to the #0 position on Google search. This matters because it helps you to prove your relevancy to Google and users that your content is useful, and offers people with quality information. When your content is shown in a featured snippet, you are the top pick, meaning you are beating the competition and out-ranking sites that rank in the top 10 positions for that particular search topic. But the most important reason why marketers love seeing their content featured on top of search results is the increased traffic their websites receive which can go upward of 20-30%.

 

How Do Feature Snippets Affect SEO?

 

Featured snippets are changing the SEO landscape. Over time, Google has added different types of featured snippets, and modified them, but the most striking change has been the increase in the number of search queries that trigger featured snippets.

 

A recent study by Ahrefs, which included around 112 million keywords from their US database, showed that almost 14 million keywords have featured snippets in search results. That means that 12.29% of queries have featured snippets, out of which only 30.9% rank at the very top in organic results. As Google gets better at understanding search queries and delivering featured snippets, it’s most likely that the numbers will continue to grow. It’s also interesting to note that the majority of snippets are triggered by a long-tail keyword.

 

Another interesting finding shows that featured snippets have a negative impact on the first organic search result with fewer clicks to the overall organic search results. When there’s a featured snippet, the first organic result in Google search gets a significant drop in click-through rate. When there is no featured snippet present, the first result gets 26% click-through rate, compared to with the snippet at 19.6%, and the featured snippet itself at 8.6% click-through rate.

 

Are Featured Snippets Good or Bad for SEO?

 

We already established that featured snippets are gaining popularity with Google and stealing organic traffic. But do they have a negative impact on SEO and overall ROI? Not necessarily. Despite the fact that the reduced click-through rates, there are a few things to consider before labeling them “bad for SEO”.

 

  • People who read featured snippets are not your most valuable audience. This might be subjective, and vary from person to person, but hear this out. If a user is looking for a quick answer to a simple question, chances are they are not interested in reading long-form content or making a purchase. So the traffic you potentially lose isn’t that valuable.

 

  • You can optimize for feature snippets. If ranking at the top of search starts to lose meaning when there’s a featured snipped above the results, then you need to find your way to the #0 position. The right on-page content optimization can get you that position and get your site included in featured snippets.  

 

  • Brand visibility is still important. Getting a featured snipped doesn’t necessarily mean getting more traffic. Yes, we are aware it’s a bit contradictory to all said above, but it’s true, some people still choose organic results. But the good thing is, you will receive brand exposure and visibility that can increase brand familiarity and increase trust among your audience.

 

  • There are still 87.7% of queries that function as they always have. Even though there’s an increase in the number of featured snippets and almost one in every eight queries, that’s still a tiny portion of the overall search volume. You can and should still optimize for the 87.7% of queries that still don’t have a featured snippet, allowing you to rank higher and garner more traffic.  

Winter is Here. Sorry. Featured Snippets are Here.

 

Yes, featured snippets are here, and they are here to stay, as it seems. So, if you are thinking about optimizing a page or two to be cited in a featured snippet, then you can use these optimization techniques:

 

  • Use Microformatting. First, make sure your site is properly updated according to the microformat standards, which you can find and use on Schema.org. Microformatting will help Google understand the type of information on your site and make it easier for search bots to crawl and parse the information. If your site doesn’t have this formatting, it won’t be considered for featured snippets at all.

 

  • Optimize for long-tail search queries. Next, make sure your site is optimized for long-tail keywords, rather than shorter ones. The more specific your keywords are, the better. So instead of optimizing for “Game of Thrones” you can be more specific and go for a phrase like “What happens to John Snow in Game of Thrones Season 7?”. (No spoilers please, I’m two episodes behind.)

 

  • Offer brief and accurate answers. Once your page is optimized for a search query, you should answer it as briefly and accurately as possible. Users, and more importantly, Google, like to offer answers that are one or two sentences long, so do your best to keep it short and simple.

 

  • Get inbound links. Link building is an important factor, in organic search, and in featured snippets. Do your best to attract inbound links from quality sources, like you already do.

 

Yes, featured snippets are changing the SEO world. They steal potential traffic from organically ranked sites, but there’s no need to panic. There is still an 87.7% chance that your traffic won’t get poached by a featured snippet. Keep that in mind when you create and adjust your strategy, and optimize for SEO. From where we stand, you have two general options. Consider optimizing your own site to be included in the featured snippets as well, or adjust your strategy to avoid them altogether. We can provide suggestions and recommendations, but it’s up to you to figure out how you want to handle the situation.   

 

Create a Content Marketing Strategy in 5 Steps

Marketing content is a communication tool.  Optimizing your marketed content will help drive results and create meaningful connections with your target audience. Building a content marketing strategy will ensure that your resources – time, energy and money – are set on reaching a particular business goal. Focusing on this goal will help you create relevant and meaningful content pieces that will stand out and help you attract new visitors, all the while you listen to the needs of your existing customers.

 

A content marketing strategy will help you plan the creation and delivery of content so you can reach a much broader audience and distribute the content more effectively to professionals, bloggers, and journalists.

Do you have a content marketing strategy?

 

According to Content Marketing Institute’s research, 72% of B2B marketers said that having a content marketing strategy implemented to increase the odds of their organization’s success, whereas only 27% have a documented content marketing strategy in place.

 

Many companies avoid developing a content marketing strategy because it requires a substantial amount of effort. Whatever the reason, we recommend you give it shot. We can lend you a hand and assist in the process.

 

How to Create Content Marketing Strategy

 

To make things easier and clearer, we are going to walk you through the five basic steps of creating a content marketing strategy.

 

1. Define Your Objectives

 

Step number one of getting on the path toward building a winning strategy is defining your objectives. Make sure to align your digital marketing mission and objective with your overall business mission and objective. From there, derive your content marketing strategy’s goal.  

 

Think about how you want your content marketing to help you achieve your goal. Well defined objectives and clear KPIs will help guide your content marketing efforts further. A handy KPI template to use might be: goal, e.g. ‘Increase traffic’ by X% in X months. But be realistic about the expectations, and identify methods that will help you measure each KPI. That way you will be able to have positive results and keep track of your efforts and the effectiveness of your strategy.

 

2. Explore the Competitive Landscape

 

The second step of creating a strategy is investigating your main competitors. Discover what kind of content they produce and how it is performing. Also, look at industry leaders and learn what they do. You can take your efforts a step further and use tools such as BuzzSumo to analyze specific posts and articles, or Ahrefs and SEMRush to analyze keywords and organic traffic.

 

Learn what works in your niche and how your competitors attract and keep the attention of their target audience, allowing you to employ similar tactics to lure customers over and convert them.  

 

3. Find Out What Worked (and What Didn’t)

 

Now that you know what works for the competition, it’s time to turn the focus back on your own content. Find out what types of content brought you success in the past, and which ones were not so popular.

 

The easiest way to do this is by going to Google Analytics. For example, use it to check which articles are getting the most page views. You can also track keywords that are driving the largest volumes of organic traffic to your website; your social media channels; the types of devices used to access certain content. Explore how your content performed in the past, but not only what worked best, but also pay attention to low performers. That is the type of content you want to stay away from in your new strategy.

 

4. Learn to Speak Your Audience’s Language

 

In order to best communicate with your audience, you have to able to ‘speak their language’ and address their interests and needs. Supposing you already know who your target audience is (you do, don’t you?), it should be easy to place them at the heart of your content marketing strategy.

 

Begin by developing personas. Use market research and insights from your current customer base. Start with determining the basics such as age, gender, location, then move further and identify the problems you can help your target personas solve. Look at the information stored in your Google Analytics account and use the “Audience Reports” to identify key characteristics of your target persona. Additionally, you can use tools like “Answer the Public” and Twitter Audiences to see what your target audience is searching for in Google.

 

5. Identify Your Means and Make the Plan

 

Before making a plan, make sure you have the means to commit to it. Define your budget, and allocate a specific portion to each digital channel you want to use for paid promotion, but keep it flexible so you can make future allocations based on the results each channel brings you. Review your current channels and decide which ones to keep and whether you want to invest in new ones depending on where your customers are and the time you have available. Look at your team and assess what you can achieve and identify whether you need to hire more people.

 

Now that you know what you have, make the plan but don’t stick to it. Insightful assumptions and analysis can’t predict how your audience is going to behave. Therefore, you need to continuously measure and monitor the performance of your content marketing strategy and make adjustments where needed.

 

Determine the content types you are going to produce including blog posts, how-tos, ebooks, infographics, videos podcasts, to name a few. Next, establish the process for content creation including a schedule for content creation and publishing; assign who will come up with ideas and a chain of approval for the ready content; and decide who is going to create it.

 

Then, make a promotion plan to get the most out of your content. Since you already know which channels you want to use, and your budget per channel, you can plan your regular social media posts as well as paid promotion.

 

Lastly, identify KPIs for each channel and processes to measure in order to determine what’s working. Constant monitoring and measuring will help you assess your efforts and make the necessary changes and refinement to your strategy.

 

Once your strategy is documented, and roles and responsibilities are defined, share it with your team members, and other teams you work closely with. Whether you are operating independently or working with a digital marketing agency, ensure you are relating your business goals with your content marketing strategy.

 

The Power Of Keyword Search Data Reports In AdWords

If you’re a digital marketer, you have probably managed Google AdWords Campaigns a few times or use it on a regular basis. The primary reason we love using Adwords is because of the precision to get down and target searcher intent, to get in front of the right people, not just the most people. If you’ve used AdWords, you know it offers a variety of metrics and reports allowing you to track and analyze your ads and keyword performance in order to optimize your efforts. All you need to do is use the reports wisely to make the most of your campaigns.

Track Keywords to Determine Your Success

One of the most important things you need to monitor in AdWords are keywords. By analyzing your keyword performance, you will be able to review which ones are helping you meet your advertising goals for the ads that show up in Google Search Network, and which ones do not.

In order to track and review your keywords performance, you can either:

–    open the Campaigns section from the top menu, then choose the Keywords tab; or
–    open the Reports section from the top menu, and then from the Pre-defined reports drop-down menu choose Basic, then select Keywords or Search Terms, depending on what you with to analyze.

Both ways offer the same options, including analytics for Keywords, Negative Keywords or Search terms. It’s up to you to decide what data you wish to get, and specify: segments such as date, click type, or device; columns for adding specific types of data you wish to include in the table, and filters for the statistics you’d like to see.

All the data you get in the Keywords and Search Terms reports are very useful and allows you to thoroughly analyze and assess your keywords performance and make informed decisions about your ads. At .

Track Search Terms Match Type Performance

The segments can show you the performance of search terms match type – whether a broad match, phrase match or exact match search terms triggered your keyword and your ad to show. That way you can compare data about clicks, impressions, CTRs or conversion rates for the specific search terms that have been used and triggered your ad. These statistics will help you find the keywords which have the best performance for a particular search term match type.

Track your Quality Score

The columns allow you to add or remove specific types of data you wish to include and analyze. And one very important thing that we strongly advise you to track is Quality Score in Adwords. It is a measurement of the relevancy of your ads, keywords and landing page to your customer. By enabling the Quality Score attribute, you will be able to see the attributed value for each keyword in your campaign, with 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest score.

google adwords quality score example

View Bid Simulations and Estimates

Another important column that you should enable is the adwords bid simulator. It estimates how the keyword bid changes impact your potential weekly Search Network clicks and costs. One more column that is not included in the default view of the report are the First page bid estimates, Top page bid estimates and First position bid estimates. These attributes will show you the approximate CPC bids you need to make to reach the first page, the top of the page or the first as position in Google SERPs when the search term is an exact match for your keyword. These estimates will be calculated based on your Quality score and the existing advertiser competition for the keyword in question. If the calculated estimates are very high, then probably you have a poor keyword Quality Score.

 

Adwords Bid Simulator

Sort Keyword Data

By using filters, you can find specific types of data that let you evaluate the performance of the keywords you use. You can use these data to learn which keywords are eligible to trigger ads, and which ones have good ROI.

Diagnose Individual or Multiple Keywords at Once

Another great option that AdWords offers is diagnosing the success of a single keyword or multiple keywords at once. By diagnosing one keyword you can learn whether your keyword is showing ads, and what’s it’s Quality Score. If it is showing ads, then it’s a keeper, but it if isn’t, Google will explain why and give you suggestion on how to solve the problem. Furthermore, you can break down the Quality Score and get statistics about your keyword relevance, landing page experience, and landing page loading time.

On the other hand, if you wish to diagnose multiple keywords, you will need to answer specific questions about your ad’s visibility. It’s up to you to choose the attributes you wish to text. After you run the test, you will receive results about the status of your keywords. But note that those results are only applicable in the time of testing and if you don’t act quickly, they can very soon become outdated.

Track, Analyze, Learn, and Optimize

As I mentioned, AdWords wants you to show your ad to fewer people and actually they reward you for it by using one feature designed specifically for that purpose, Quality Score. One key component of the Quality Score is CTR (Click-Through-Rate) – the percentage of people that click on your ad when they see it.  Increasing your CTR and boosting your Quality Score leads to lowering the CPC. And in order to achieve this, you need to carefully track and analyze your ads’ performance, especially your keywords.

Make the most of your Keywords report and learn how the keywords you use perform, which bids you need to change, and which keywords you need to remove. Additionally, using the Search Terms report, find out which search queries triggered your ad to be shown and clicked. Don’t be surprised if depending on your keywords matching options, the list of search terms differs from your keywords list. Those results can help you identify successful keywords and phrases that you can(should) add to your keywords list. And if your ad showed for what you consider to be irrelevant search terms, you can always use those phrases as negative keywords.

Either way, it’s a win-win situation. All you need to do is explore the available options, and learn from every bit of data and statistic you get. And if anything is unclear, and you are not sure which metrics or attributes to use and track, or what to do next once you received the stats, our expert PPC team can “translate” the data to you, and help you reach your goals.

Stop Using These Five Outdated SEO Strategies

Web technologies change fast and with them, website optimization is constantly evolving, leaving many people confused about which SEO strategies are still relevant, and which have become obsolete.

In 2017, good user experience makes the best SEO strategy. Optimizing content for users is the best way to rank higher since RankBrain rewards content, garnering clicks and engaging users. Google webmaster guidelines always urge brands to create content for humans and the newest algorithm updates recognize user intent. But in spite of producing content for users, there are other things you need to look out for, like staying up to date with the SEO tactics and strategies and selecting which you should continue to use.

Truth is, many tactics and strategies that used to work are no longer relevant, and may actually hurt your website. If you still use any of those strategies, your site might be penalized or even lose your presence in the SERPs. In order to help you stay up to date, and to prevent you from going down a rabbit hole, we outlined five outdated SEO strategies that you should stop using right now.

 

1. Don’t Create and Optimize the Content for Search Engines

In the beginning of SEO, content would fall into one of two categories: content for people, and content for the spiders which crawl the web and are responsible for page ranking. The first type often meant creating clunky, keyword-heavy content, which would be awkward for users.

Now, years later, even though keywords remain important, this practice is not only outdated but can get you penalized. Keyword stuffing is considered a black hat technique and you should avoid it completely. Focusing on optimizing your content for search engines is a waste of time, and resources.

Instead, write your content in a natural and friendly tone, make it readable and understandable for your audience, and use your keywords moderately. Only by making your content high-quality and valuable, you can convince RankBrain that your content is relevant and useful for the users.

 

2. Don’t Neglect Optimizing Your Website for Mobile

After Google officially announced in January 2017 that: “…pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as high.”; you’d think that it’s natural for businesses to optimize for mobile, but many still neglect this crucial aspect of SEO.

Many web designers noticed and accepted the mobile-first trend that started a few years back. And companies are beginning to get more and more aware that they are missing out on a lot of mobile traffic even when the majority of their visits come from a desktop computer.

So, if you want to improve your ranking, first, start by switching to a mobile responsive WordPress. Make sure your text has readable zoom, and avoid using Flash or other software that is uncommon and won’t run on mobile devices.  Try to place your links far enough apart so the users won’t click multiple at once. Also, AMPs are becoming increasingly important, so consider using them. Lastly, don’t forget to check out Google’s webmaster’s guide on mobile friendly sites for in-depth information on how to keep your website mobile-friendly.

 

3. Stop Trying to Rank Multiple Keywords on a Single Page 

As we mentioned before, keywords are important, but are beneficial only if you use them moderately. There are two extremes that are still out there though.  One, trying to rank multiple keywords on a single page, or two, creating individual pages for each keyword you wish to rank for. In both cases, the results are penalized.

Whether there is a redundancy of keywords and long-tail keyword variations on a single page, or too many similar pages covering different variation of a keyword, it creates a usability nightmare.

Instead of doing this, try using a SEO plugin that can help you with the quality of the content, helping you analyze the keyword density. Focus on the clicks and quality, using proper calls to action and good writing. Make sure usability is your first and foremost consideration, and you will not get penalized.

 

4. Don’t Use Old Link Building Strategies

One of the best ways to get high-quality websites to link back to you is to create relevant content. And network with those who write about the same topics in order to get insights and strengthen connections. There’s no shortcut around this.

But many sites still use some of the old strategies for getting backlinks, like link exchanges, buying links, comments and forum links, article spinning, etc. And sadly, these can get you penalized.

As we said before, don’t go looking for a shortcut to link building. And stop obsessing over quantity. Develop relationships with high-quality websites in your industry, focus on creating valuable, original content and they will naturally link back to you. Engage in guest posting, it’s still valuable, especially when you’re present on sites with high Domain Authority.

 

 5. Stop Using Irrelevant or Over-Optimized Anchor Text

Optimizing your anchor text is, again, related to the content quality. And it plays an important role in creating a great user experience. Using the exact keyword into anchor texts for external and internal links used to be a thing for getting a higher ranking, but it got over-used, and now this outdated SEO technique can get you penalized because Google considers those “unnatural links. And you should stay away from them.

Stick to writing for people, and inserting the links in the text naturally. Don’t add words or phrases just to link them, but find a way to turn a part of a sentence that has a natural flow and talks about the subject from your link into anchor text. Other good practices are using the exact brand name you are linking to, such as Visible Factors, or the naked URL, like visiblefactors.com. Each link should fit the content and add extra value for the uses.

 

BONUS: Don’t Ignore Social Signals

The times are changing, and SEO is no longer all about links, code and content. But now social networks and social signals play important roles in sear engine rankings since both Google and Bing use that data to determine how to rank websites.

Plus, having more social media followers means that your brand and content get exposed to a larger audience, which means more chances for engagement and content traction, increasing your chances for getting backlinks.

So pick a social network that best suits your business needs, learn how to best use it, and make your presence noted. Generally, start by posting regularly, be consistent in your efforts, engage your audience and be responsive. Then, include ways for visitors to sign up for your social account on your website, and to your email newsletter. And if you still feel like you are stuck and wish to give up, read up on Social Media Examiner’s guide on improving ranking using social media. You might get a few ideas.

 

Search engine optimization is a crucial part of growing your website and getting more organic traffic. But it’s not something you can learn once and practice it in the same way indefinitely. SEO trends change, and if you want to keep your high place in the SERPs you have to keep up with the trends. Out with the old, and in with the new. It’s the only way to stay on top.

This year, the focus is on creating better user experience and value for your prospects and customers. So make sure you provide them with a seamless experience. If you’re still unsure whether your website is stuck with outdated SEO techniques which actually hurt your ranking, here at Visible Factors have an awesome SEO team ready to help you.

How to Optimize Your SEO for the Mobile-First Index

Google’s main goal is to provide the best possible results to a search query. And since most users rely on mobile devices for the majority of their online activities, Google’s focus is on catering to the needs of the ever growing number of mobile users. In the past years, Google has released several updates aimed at making the web better for mobile consumers, but now, it took its game up a notch by rolling out a mobile-first version of its index.

There’s no choice for website owners but to adapt to the mobile-trend in order to maintain traffic and ranking because the new index will split the desktop and mobile results, and if your website is not prepared for the change, you could be in for hard times. Mobile will become the primary index and mobile searches will no longer show results for desktop, and vice versa.

If you have a desktop and not a mobile version of your site, or different mobile and desktop versions, you should be concerned and address these issues as fast as possible, or before the mobile-first index is fully released. The first step is to create a fully-functional mobile website. Next comes SEO in a mobile-first index.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to improve your mobile website’s SEO. But to make things easier, and so you don’t have to do everything on your smartphone, open your website in a desktop browser and view the mobile version. You can do this by right-clicking on the site, and choosing the “inspect” option, then, you can toggle between desktop and mobile in the upper left corner of the menu.

 

1. Perform the Google Mobile Friendliness Test

First of all, you need to check if your website can pass the Google Mobile Friendliness Test. Begin with your key navigation pages, and your highest selling category and product pages, one by one. Take a look at the “No Mobile Configuration” section to see which pages you need to focus on first. If you still don’t have a mobile site, responsive site or AMP pages, start implementing them right away. Or, if you can, go for a responsive website design. But remember, pages without mobile optimization can badly impact your performance in the SERP.  

 

2. Check whether your Mobile Pages are Indexed

You’ll have to do this check on a smartphone. And to make sure Google is indexing your mobile pages, open Google and in the search box type: “site:visiblefactors.com”. If there are no results for your site, Googlebot may be unable to access the mobile pages. If you are using separate mobile and desktop site, and Googlebot is not indexing your mobile pages, we recommend you create and submit a mobile sitemap. Tag the mobile pages with the rel=canonical and rel=alternate tags.  Googlebot might not be indexing mobile pages because of the separate mobile and desktop URLs, but this should do the trick. But, if you don’t have separate URLs, double-check the robot.txt file and make sure you are not blocking Googlebot.

3. Look for Smartphone Errors in Google Search Console

For this step, go to Google Search Console, Crawl Errors, and choose Smartphone. The errors you identify here can help guide your strategy. Analyze each error and deal with it in the right manner. One common mistake that shows up frequently though, is a faulty redirect. Make sure you have matching smartphone and desktop URLs, so users (and Googlebot) get sent to the right page. When you fix the smartphone errors you allow Google to index your content better.  

4. Change Your On-site SEO Optimization for Mobile

Mobile and desktop on-site optimization differ. For example, title tags on mobile are shorted than those on desktop. Keep in mind that you need to create good user experience, and that includes good on-site optimization, from title tags, to headers. The simplest way to address this issue is by using Screaming Frog. Run the check, then go over the “Page Titles” mane at the top. Get all results for “Over 65 Characters”, and download the data. Rewrite the longer meta titles, and repeat the same procedure for meta descriptions as well. Make sure all of them are shorter and mobile friendly. And for the headings, you can opt for slightly reducing the size for a better mobile UX. Also, run a check with Google’s robot.txt testing tool to make sure you are not blocking Googlebot.  

 

5. Improve Page Load Times

Mobile page load speed can be a crucial UX factor, and load times longer than 4 seconds can make visitors leave. To test your page load times, you can use a lot of free tools, like PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom. Just open your website and run the speed test. Depending on the result, there might be several things to consider. But the simplest optimization you can do, without help from a development team, is optimizing image size. Next, if that doesn’t help much, have your dev team reduce code, add browser cache, manage plug-ins. And lastly, see if your web designer can move more content above the fold.

6. Mobile and Desktop Content Should be a Perfect Match

In order to cross-check and compare your mobile and desktop website, you will have to do it manually. Pull up a list of your most visited and highest performing pages from Google Analytics, then open each page, one by one on desktop and your smartphone. Also, check and scan your code for any inconsistencies. If you find pages with more content on desktop than the mobile version or vice versa, go over them with your editorial and development team to redesign them. It’s advisable to have a completed content audit before you do this so you’ll know what content can and can’t be removed, without hurting traffic. To make sure Google sees your web pages the same way you and your users do, use Google Search Console’s Fetch and Render, and choose mobile user agent from the menu. That way you’ll get to see two pages, side-by-side, and you’ll know whether your content looks the same to Googlebot and your users. Remember that Google ranks content only from the mobile site, and uses the canonical links as guides for users searching from desktop or mobile. So be careful when you making the redesign.

7. Make Sure To Add Structured Data to Your Mobile Pages

While many webmasters skip adding structured data to mobile sites, in the mobile-first index, if you want to keep it, you’ll have to add it to the mobile pages manually. If you already have a responsive website, then your schema should do it. But if you have separate mobile and desktop sites with different URLs, you will have to make sure you followed all the necessary steps for mobile, as you would for your desktop site. Double-check with the Google Structured Testing Tool if your schema markup has been added correctly to your mobile site. Use the “Inspect” function to make sure it’s coming up on mobile devices. Make sure to update all URLs you use in the schema, but be careful not to drown your site in structured data. And if you use a plugin for structured data, use a testing tool to make sure the displayed markup is correct.

8. Launch AMP if You Still Don’t Have Mobile Pages

If you still didn’t have a chance to create mobile pages for your website, then create AMP versions of your pages – it’s the easiest way to get Google to index them. But if you have a m.mobile site, and the content of your AMP page is full and different from the one on the m.mobile site, Google will rank he m.mobile site above your AMP page, and you won’t rank for the keywords included in the full content. Also, you can’t rank higher if you have a mobile version and an AMP version of a page. Google will rank the desktop version of the page instead. If you set up AMP pages, you can easily check them on your smartphone by trying to open a specific page from your website. If you see the small AMP symbol – the gray lightning bolt next to the result, you’re good. You can also do a check-up on your desktop, by viewing the source and searching for rel=”amphtml” or by using the AMP Chrome extension in order to switch between the regular and the AMP versions. And in order to do a final check on whether you implemented AMP pages correctly and get suggestions on how to fix any problems you might have, use the AMP testing tool.

9. Check Your Subdomains Using the Google Search Console

If you already have a responsive website, then skip this part 🙂 But if your website uses subdomains such as m.visibleactors.com or visiblefactorsmobile.com, than you need to verify them in Google Search Console. First, open your Google Search Console account and click the “Add Property” button, and add your subdomains. Next, after you upload your subdomains, Google will send you notifications about your mobile site to let you know if you have smartphone errors, manual actions, if you’re blocking Googlebot, or basically if there are any issues with your site. Beware that Google treats subdomains as separate sites so pay attention to all notifications you receive and make sure to fix all problems.

 

The challenges for SEO-teams become even greater when you need to adapt your SEO-efforts to the upcoming mobile-first index and prepare your website for the upcoming change as fast as you can. And maintaining a dedicated mobile site, if you still don’t have a responsive one, is vital if you want to stay afloat in the mobile-first index, at least for the time being. The rollout will be global, and all websites will face the same constrictions, there’s no escape. So make sure to be prepared when it happens.     

 

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Top 15 Growth Marketing Tools for Startups

It’s hard being a start-up. At the dawn of their lifecycle, startups have to keep up a steady growth of 30% every year or suffer a painful death.

Up until a while ago, “growth hacking” was an odd buzzword on the lips of SEOs and marketing professionals alike. Today, it has become a synonym for most of the marketing tactics used by startups; a process of experimenting across marketing channels in order to identify the most effective and efficient ways to grow your business. It is a mindset; a fast-paced, data-driven and actionable approach to help you capitalize on the opportunities and ideas that drive business growth.

The man who coined the term, Sean Ellis, defines it by stating that start-up companies need to change the rules of conventional channels, or better yet, innovate outside of them since they are beyond the advantage of adapting to the old rules of marketing. Young startups need to be creative and test new ideas relentlessly because, if they don’t, they will be soon out of business.

If this is all so overwhelming for you, fear not – we have compiled a list of the 15 top growth-hacking tools that will help you get the job done, most of which are free to use! Check them out below:

 

1. Buff up your marketing efforts on Twitter with Click to Tweet

This one is the simplest – Click to Tweet helps you promote your products on Twitter. Engage your Twitter followers in sharing your product and you can offer them reward like coupons. The built-in analytics will tell you how many times your link has been clicked, which is as useful as ever. Just sign in with Twitter!

 

2. Automate your marketing strategy on Twitter with Jooicer

The automation on Jooicer makes life on Twitter for the baby start-up a charm: you can select the actions you want to be automated by creating “recipes”: say, “follow all users with a certain hashtag in their bio”. You can create your own custom recipes or share with others.

 

3. Create email collect forms with SumoMe ListBuilder

Out of the nifty little bundle of tools called SumoMe, the ListBuilder lets you convert one-time visitors into subscribers. You can either use the completely customizable popover after visitors spend a certain amount of time on your site or turn on smart mode so that the tool can ask them to subscribe when they’re ready to leave the site.

4. Add an email collect pop-up with SumoMe ScrollBox

Similar to the ListBuilder, you can customize a pop-up to appear after the visitor has scrolled down a specific percentage of your site. That way you can be sure that they have had the time to enjoy some of your content before committing.

 

5. Create giveaways with SumoMe Leads

This is the hottest way to turn visitors into leads –  by rewarding them with downloadable content like brochures or PDF documents. The button is free for you to place anywhere on the page; all you have to do is create the bonuses to lure those leads!

 

6. Make any selection of text tweetable with SumoMe Twilighter

Sharing made easy! All your visitors have to do is highlight any piece of content they wish to share and they can send it to their Twitter feed with the click of the mouse.

 

7. Ease the sharing of image with SumoMe Image Sharer

A must-have plug-in that makes it easy for your readers to share an image from your blog posts. This comes supported with the fact that shares on Facebook get over 39% more engagement if they include an image. It’s very user-friendly:  all the photos in your posts will be overlaid with sharing icons for the social platforms and each share includes a link as well.

8. Add conversion pop-ups with Optimonk

Much like the ListBuilder and the ScrollBox, Optimonk allows you to detect “exit intent” and add a pop-up message asking your visitor to extend their stay or sign up for more. They offer a free 14-day trial, after which you will have to inquire for the rates.

 

9. Discover the most popular articles with BuzzSumo

With this free little tool, you just type any term in its search bar and it lists you all the popular articles on that particular topic. Work wonders for writers who want to be at the top of their writing game by staying relevant!

 

10. Add call-to-action with HelloBar 

HelloBar is not new, but it’s still not very well known. It adds a notification bar on the top of your site that doesn’t move and you can stick any kind of action you want on it, from email collection to a simple message! The basic plan is free, but with the PRO you can do some cool things like A/B testing.

 

11. Help resolve problems with SessionCam

With SessionCam, you can watch a recording of your web and mobile visitors in order to identify potential problems or simply increase conversion. It also shows you heat maps and helps you build conversion funnels between the pages on your site. It’s free for the Basic Plan.

 

12. Analyze your conversions with ClickTale

Improve your conversions by finding out where your visitors like to click on your site. You can even analyze the performance of the forms you want to be filled in. ClickTale records individual visitor sessions on both desktop and mobile and aggregates it all while allowing you to focus on a particular individual.

 

13. Overlay an ad over the link you share using Snip.ly

This one’s also a no-brainer: If you have an ad that is related to the story you wish to share, use Snip.ly to increase conversions. It’s free up to 100 conversions; if you want to beef it up, plans start at $16 for 500 conversions, up to $85 for 5000 conversions.

 

14. Forget the plain old forms and surveys with Typeform

Make all your lead generating tools interactive and fun with Typeform and watch as the number of leads increases! As many other tools on this list, they offer a basic plan for free to try it out.

 

15. Send user-specific emails with MailGun

The last one on our list makes the coveted email marketing a breeze. No matter if it’s a thank-you email for a visitor signing up or an apology for when their session was rudely interrupted by an error, MailGun is the API for you! And it holds a sweet pricing plan: free up to 10,000 emails/mo, then it’s $0.00050 per email.

 

It may be difficult to grow your business from the ground up, but it’s a fun and exciting challenge. One that can be made a lot easier once you find the right growth marketing tools that will ease many tasks. Try out some of the 15 on this list and let us know how you liked them. And if you need more suggestions, or additional growth marketing help and advice, don’t hesitate to contact Visible Factors. We’ve been where you are.   

 

3 Significant Changes to Dynamic Search Ads

If you are actively using Google AdWords, then you know that Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) are the easiest way to reach customers that precisely match your offer on Google. The best thing about DSA is that they use your website to help target your ads and fill in the keyword-based gaps in your campaigns. Even the best managed AdWords accounts that use many keywords can experience some setbacks without DSA, including missing out on relevant searches, experiencing delays in writing ads for new products, or being out of sync with what’s actually available on the destination website.

The benefits of using DSA are great. They help you save time and reach new markets faster and the ads are frequently and automatically updated as soon as you make changes to your webpages. They also show relevant results with dynamic headlines, giving you greater control over your campaign, and most importantly, helping you generate additional traffic and sales compared to what you get from keyword-targeted campaigns.

Now, Google is making an update to DSA by introducing three significant changes aimed at giving advertisers a better handle on the quality of the ad creativity and targeting. Let’s see what those changes actually are.  

Page Feed – More Control Over What You Advertise

Searchers are more likely to click on an ad and buy a product or service when it fits their needs or solves a problem. That is why having more control over what you advertise, and making sure your ads are very relevant to prospects is key.

In order to provide advertisers with an additional layer of control, Google introduced Page Feeds to DSA campaigns. That allows you to create a feed – a spreadsheet of the products or services you want to promote, and add it to a new or an existing dynamic search campaign. When you use a Page Feed to specify which URLs to use in your DSA, it helps Google determine when and to whom to show your ads, and where to direct people on your website.

Additionally, Google recommends adding custom labels to your selected URLs to categorize and organize the specific targets in groups. When you use labels such as “Special Promotion” or “Out of Stock” in your Page Feed, you can easily activate ads within that promotion at the same time, or pause them to stop unwanted paid traffic.

This is a very helpful feature that saves time and helps ecommerce advertisers save money by delivering only relevant content to their prospects.

Expanded Ads – Longer Descriptions for Deeper Messaging

Having more screen real-estate is always good when it comes to display advertising. You want your ads to be bigger and more noticeable, and also explain your offer better and in more detail. The transition to Extended Text Ads on Search and Display campaigns occurred in January, and these new, larger ads are about to make their way to DSA as well.

Longer headlines and descriptions allow advertisers to show more information about their business and their offering. The higher character count of the extended description field gives you additional space and lets you be more specific with the ad, while the other features remain dynamic. This enhancement is expected to roll out over this month (May 2017) and we are excited to welcome it.

Quality Enhancements – Be More Relevant

Ad relevancy and quality may begin with specifying which web pages and which products or services you want to promote, but it continues with having your ads show only when they are most relevant to the what the searchers are looking for.

Let’s say someone looks for a digital marketing agency in L.A. and instead of seeing the ad for Visible Factors, they are shown an ad about a digital marketing agency in Charlotte. Not very relevant, right? With the latest updates, Google is promising advertisers a quality enhancement focused on location-based targeting.  

Improved ad-targeting is very important and beneficial, especially for local businesses that want to reach a certain audience. When you know that your ad will be displayed to prospects which are in the vicinity of your business, you are willing to pay more, because you will get exposure and possibly more clicks and an increase in profit.

These three changes made to Dynamic Search Ads are allowing more control over your targeting and more specific descriptions of the products and services you are selling. This means your ads are about to have a higher conversion rate at lower CPA (Cost Per Action). 

So if you were hesitant about including DSA in your campaigns and weren’t sure if they’ll get you the wanted results, we hope these improvements change your mind and make you give DSA a chance. If you do, give us a call to help you set up your campaigns. We promise you’ll be in for an awesome and very fruitful ride.   

Learn to Share the Right Content at the Right Time

Anyone who is involved in content marketing knows that effective customer engagement requires more than simply publishing content on the company blog and social media to the same aggregated audience. Reaching the audience that is most likely to take action – like, share, comment, sign up for your newsletter, click to get a special discount code, or visit and browse through your website – requires the right timing. The first step to being successful in content marketing is to create quality content that answers your audience’s most important questions. The next, is sharing that awesome content at the right time.

Here are guidelines on how to time your content sharing strategy better and improve your audience’s engagement.

 

1. Learn About Your Audience

You may already know how your regular buyers behave around your website and social media profiles, and tailor your efforts around that knowledge. You might want to rethink that approach. Yes, knowing how your current clients behave is great, but your content is aimed at engaging a wider audience that is your potential customers and prospects. So listen closely to the audience, and make sure you keep up with the newest trends. They evolve together with your prospects’ habits so you must evolve as well to stay current, informative, and engaging.

Besides being active on social media and listing to your customer’s online conversations, continue to learn about your customers by using your own customer data. Extract data and statistics from all of your internal resources like your website, social network profiles, analytics, and CRM. This will help you follow your clients’ journey, from prospects to buyers, and learn how they move through every stage, and what type of content pushes them further down the sales funnel. Which leads us to the next step.

 

2. Map Out the Buying Cycle of Your Buyer Persona

Now that you assembled all the data, it’s time to map out each step of the way that your buyer personas make, from being a new visitor to becoming a customer. Analyze which devices they use, what type of content they find most engaging, and what questions they need answered in every stage.

By analyzing the audience’s’ engagement with your content throughout the sales funnel, you’ll be able to identify which types of content work at the beginning of the cycle, and which work in the later stages of the cycle.  Once you identify the patterns of your buyers’ decision making cycles, you will be able to identify their typical paths to purchase and utilize predictive analysis with your overall content strategy. The insights about your audience’s behavior can also be very helpful in the process of optimizing your ecommerce conversion funnel.

 

3. Choose the Right Time

After understanding your potential and current customers, you need to figure out when to publish your content. Since everything we post online is available at any time, you may wonder why it is important to pick a specific time. The answer is: because you don’t want your content to get lost in your customers’ cluttered news feeds and inboxes. Sending too many emails may tire them and push them to unsubscribe, and sending a message too late can cause a permanent loss of conversions.

The content may be accessible at any moment, but your buyers aren’t accessing it all the time. So it’s very important to deliver your message at the precise moment when your audience is ready and willing to read it. The best way to determine the right time for sharing content, depending on the types of content and your audience’s preferences, is to test publish at different times.

Generally, people connect early in the morning, while having their breakfast, and later in the evening when they come back home, after dinner. Also, lunchtime is when people are usually active on social media and check their personal emails. Another observation we made is that we can divide two phases of connection among young professionals: one to personal social networks in free time, especially over the weekend; and one dedicated to professional platforms upon arrival at work and during waiting periods between tasks and appointments.

 

4. Decide on the Right Publishing Channel and Format

By now you have learned from your data who to target and when. But in what format and which device do you need to broadcast it? Mobile users may not want to see and interact with the same information as a desktop user. Downloading and reading an ebook on your smartphone is not very convenient.

The way you relay your message will greatly influence the way it is perceived. So make sure you structure your content accordingly to the format and channel you are using, and the device you are targeting. Again, make these decisions based on the customer data you collected and analyzed before. People who are in different stages of the buying cycle respond differently to social media posts, emails, ebooks, or videos. Make sure you match the content with the stage they are in, especially if you are sending personalized content.  And make sure that you have content suitable for each audience member and each buying cycle stage throughout your website, social media profiles, email campaigns, newsletters, and whatever additional content type you share.

 

The greatest dilemma of sharing the right content for the right customer at the right time can be precisely answered only if you listen closely to your audience, and constantly analyze your data. In the Age of the Customer—when the customers are in control, and have access to tons of information and countless choices, it’s the marketer’s’ job to precisely meet their expectations at every moment in their buying cycle, or risk losing them to the competition.

We know that the struggle to create the content is hard enough, and additionally learning when, where and what to post can make if even more complex and time-consuming for you. And you end up spending the time on learning about content marketing. Let’s make a proposition – let us help you with your content marketing efforts while you focus on running and improving your business and creating new valuable business relationships.

 

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Get in touch and find out how our team can help you drive results!

Contact us today

 

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