Search Engine Optimization, SEM, SEO, social media, technical SEO, Uncategorized

Why SEO Is Not A One and Done Marketing Activity

Even if Google didn’t regularly change its algorithm that determines which organizations’ listings it serves up on the first two pages of search results, and even if new competitors haven’t entered your marketplace or existing competitors haven’t up’d their SEO game, your organization still needs to regularly revisit your SEO strategy and tactics. By regularly, I mean, at least quarterly.

My digital marketing agency is often engaged to implement activities related to keyword research and planning (such as employment of appropriate keywords in website content and behind-the-scenes website tags). While keyword research and planning is a large, complex, and time-consuming activity that doesn’t need to be revisited monthly or quarterly, there are a number of SEO review and audit type activities that should. I won’t repeat those activities in this post because I’ve already outlined them in the recent blog posts shared below, but I hope you’ll take the time to read or re-read these past posts. They outline easy tasks you can and should complete to make sure you are up-to-SEO-speed and that potential issues with your website aren’t impacting your SEO, or that tactics that you are or aren’t employing related to your social media presence, aren’t harming how your organization ranks in search engine results in some way.

Don’t have the time or capacity to complete the above monthly or quarterly SEO activities? My team is always here to help! E-mail or call us for information about the services we can provide related to quarterly SEO reviews.

 

 

integrated marketing, keywords, Objectives Setting, organic SEO, Search Engine Optimization, search terms, SEM, SEO, Target Marketing, traditional marketing, Understanding Your Environment, website

Why Keyword Research Benefits & Informs So Much More Than SEO/Organic Search Results

Many business owners and marketers are not aware that or give much thought to the fact that keyword research and planning has implications far beyond organic SEO, i.e., beyond the putting of technical tactics in place (such as including high-volume search terms, known as keywords, in website content and page title tags) to ensure a listing with a link to an organization’s website or social media presence ranks as high as possible in search engine results for high-volume search terms relevant to the organization’s product and service offerings.

Before we get into how and why keyword research and planning extends beyond SEO, here’s Keyword Research & Planning 101:

Q: What is keyword research?

A: Keyword research is information generated by “keyword planner” tools, such as the tool that resides within Google Ads advertising manager platform, that shows the average monthly search volume (the number of people who have entered the phrase in-question into Google’s search engine over a month’s period) for search terms (keywords) relevant to the particular products and services an organization offers.

Q: How are keyword research lists generated?

A: Distinct keyword research lists are created for each of the products and services (and sometimes the sub-products and sub-services) an organization offers by walking in the heads of the various target audiences served and entering phrases (search terms) into a keyword planner tool which are thought to be ones target audiences would be using to identify providers of products and services relevant to the organization.  In addition to the nature and actual name of the products and services in-question, search terms should include problems for which target audiences might be seeking a solution, such as “how to lose weight quickly.” The keyword planer tool will then normally generate 100’s or 1000’s of similar search terms that individuals have entered into Google to identify an organization who offers relevant products or services, and their associated average monthly search volume.

Q: Why do I need to define the geography for each of my products and services before keyword research begins?

A: The phrases used by individuals to identify a provider of a particular product or service, as well as associated search volumes, may vary by city, state, part of the country, or country.

Q: What does keyword planning mean?

A: Keyword planning means going through the above keyword research exercise, and then making some decisions and outlining the actions you’ll take next related to the benefits outlined below, based on what an organization learns from analyzing and reviewing its keyword research.

key

Now, that we’ve got some terms and their definitions behind us, just what are the key benefits of doing/uses of keyword research? Keyword research can be used to:

  1. This one you’ve hopefully got down by now — Optimize your website for search (SEO), and therefore, improve how high up in search engine results a listing with a link to your website or social media presence (an organic vs. paid advertisement listing) appears for high-volume, relevant keywords entered in a search engine by your target audience(s).
  2. Inform an integrated marketing plan for one or several of your products and services by providing information on whether or not a sizable number of individuals are actively searching to identify organizations that provide the types of products and services you offer. If individuals aren’t actively searching for certain products and services, then your marketing plan will need to include more “push” vs. “pull” tactics. For example, your organization would not want to invest money in paid search advertising that is presented to searchers searching on appropriate terms, but display advertising, a form of online advertising that allows you to target individuals with certain interests or who are reading about certain topics, might be effective as a means to create awareness of your particular product or service among appropriate target. Learn more.
  3. Determine if there are new products or services you should be offering. Sometimes, a review of keyword research lists can reveal unmet target audience needs and opportunities to offer a new product or service.
  4. Determine if there are certain products or services you should be focusing on or promoting more, based on what keywords and associated search volume reveal.
  5. Uncover topics that are of interest/important to target audiences to influence what you talk about in social media posts, blog posts, videos, or sales materials. For example, you may discover problems for which your target audiences may be seeking a solution that you hadn’t thought of, and you’ll want to call that out in marketing activities and sales literature.
  6. Support non-website tagging activities, for example, what keywords to use as “tags” when you add a video to your YouTube channel or to use as “hashtags” in social media posts. Learn more about video tagging. Learn more about using hashtags in social media.

One of our SEO services for which we’re most engaged is keyword research. Reach out for a complimentary phone discussion if you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you on that front.

online advertising, organic SEO, paid search, SEM, SEO, technical SEO, Uncategorized

CAPITALIZE ON SUMMER’S LULL TO GO AFTER LOW-HANGING SEO FRUIT

I’m sure there are exceptions to this, depending on how staff summer vacations are scheduled and the nature of services you offer and the time of year those you serve tend to use them, but in general, summer seems to be a slower time for many organizations. So along with blueberry & strawberry picking during the lazy, hazy days of summer, why not consider reaching out and snagging some low-hanging fruit related to SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

Search Engine Optimization is all about making sure your organization’s website is well-positioned to rank high in search engine results listings for those terms most used by your target audience(s) to identify an organization that offers your services. There’s two broad categories of SEO tactics an organization can implement to improve how high up in results listings they appear for desired search terms: paid search (ads that appear at the top of Google, Bing, and other search engine results) and technical (non-paid activities you can undertake to improve where you come up in non-advertising/organic results).

blueberries-2278921__340

Detailed below are technical-SEO-tactic low-hanging fruit/SEO best practices to pick away at this summer. They’re presented in the order of what I believe to be the criticalness for addressing.

#1 – Make Visitors Feel Secure

  • If your site’s address is still an http:// vs. https:// one (insecure vs. secure), you are very likely being ranked lower in search engine results than your competitors and this issue is expected to worsen. Visitors don’t like visiting sites that aren’t secure and search engines don’t like to send searchers to such sites. Your website host or developer/designer should be able to install an SSL security certificate to convert your site from an insecure one to a secure one.

#2 – Think About the Company You Keep

  • If for whatever reason, a good amount of your site’s traffic is being driven by links (known as backlinks) found on sites that are considered “spammy,” this will also negatively impact where and how frequently search engines will share a listing that points to your website for terms relevant to your organization. Sometimes, many non-reputable organizations may be sending traffic to an organization’s site without your webmaster even knowing it. Read how to check for that issue and how to address it.

#3 – Mend Those Broken Relationships

  • Broken links, i.e., links on your site to another page of your site (internal link) or to the page of another organization’s site (external link) that don’t work and provide visitors with a “404” error message will cause search engines to “ding” you as far as results rankings go. Ideally, you should conduct an audit quarterly – not just during the slower days of summer – by clicking on all your site links to see if they still work.

#4 – Capitalize On Effective Relationships

  • Think about what highly respected organizations might be willing to post a link to your site from theirs since links from other credible organizations greatly improve your search engine results rankings. Reach out to those organizations this summer to ask them if they’d consider adding a link.

#5 – Plan for the Fall

  • Even if your site provides a good user experience and contains beneficial, comprehensive info., to succeed at SEO, you need to regularly update it with fresh content. Search engines reward organizations who do so. If you don’t already have a blog on your site, speak with your internal webmaster or external developer/designer about adding one (assuming you believe there are one or several internal or external individuals who can provide content). If you have a blog, but  aren’t posting regularly to it or aren’t good about “tagging” it to be found by search engines, think about how you could improve this come fall.
  • If you don’t have a “responsive” site, one that responds to the device accessing it – particularly mobile phones – speak to the individuals mentioned above about how you can address that issue in fall 2019.

And, speaking of fall, stay tuned for a late summer/early fall 411 piece that provides additional technical tactics for you to consider & pursue.

 

 

brand promise, competitive advantage, differentiation, keywords, organic SEO, Search Engine Optimization, search terms, SEO, technical SEO, website

Why Adjectives & Qualifiers Matter in the Game of SEO

Not that long ago, I wrote about the importance of “differentiating with detail.” The more detailed an organization can be about what makes them the best provider of a particular service or product, and therefore, how they stand out from a competitor, the better.

In somewhat of the same vein, as I help organizations of all shapes & sizes better position themselves to rank well in search engine results for the terms their target audience(s) are most regularly searching on, I’m continually reminded of the importance of detail and the benefits of “unpacking your adjectives” called out in the Schoolhouse Rock piece from my childhood below. What I’m seeing on a fairly consistent basis is this — organizations are not qualifying or describing their services or products in enough detail. They know what product or service they offer, and therefore, expect their target audience(s) will know too. The problem with this is that their target audience may not find them in the first place, through a search engine search, because the organization isn’t sending out appropriate signals via their website content and behind-the-scenes page title tags.

Here’s some examples that demonstrate the issue above:

Let’s say you’re a business-to-business (B2B) organization primarily offering consulting services to a particular industry or related to a particular function/department of an organization. You need to call that out in website page content and page title tags. For example, if your organization primarily works with higher education organizations or individuals in HR roles at an organization, you need to qualify/modify the phrase “consulting” in website page title tags and content, i.e., use terms like “HR consulting services” or “higher education consulting services.”

Only offer your products or services in a particular geography? Well, that’s another reason to break out the adjectives and modifiers like “Greater Boston”, “South Shore MA”, or “New England” in website content and page title tags like “South Shore MA digital marketing agency” or “digital marketing agency serving New England.” You wouldn’t believe the number of organizations I’ve seen with websites that have no “geographic triggers” in website content or page title tags to inform search engines where they operate/who they serve. In this scenario, it’s impossible to rank well in local search or in geographies you serve that are “not local.”

Are your services or products offered on both a wholesale (B2B) and retail (business-to-consumer (B2C)) basis or just one or the other, and is that obvious to search engines who are crawling/indexing your website content and page title tags? For example, if you offer food products that can only be bought retail or wholesale, are you making that clear through using the right modifiers like “hospitality industry food products” or “food products for the hospitality industry?” Or, “consumer food products” or “retail store food products?”

Do both businesses and individuals/homeowners need the type of services you offer, and do you only offer one or both? Make sure you spell that out through language in page title tags, such as “home roofing services”, “residential roofing services”, “commercial roofing services” or “business roofing services.” Or, “residential real estate appraisal services” vs. “commercial real estate appraisal services.”

I think you get the idea, and trust me, you’ll reap great SEO rewards just by keeping the above need to “modify” in mind when you either review an existing website from an SEO standpoint, or are writing page title tags and website content for a brand new site. And, as you go through this exercise, as our blog post reminds, think about how and when to use acronyms, industry jargon, scientific terms, internal speak, etc. to modify/qualify certain services or products you offer. Give great thought to whether your target audience(s) are using the aforementioned in the search terms they enter into a search engine like Google. If you don’t think your audiences are using those terms, forego using them in website content and page title tags, and instead, use the “lay person” terms that they are likely using.

Not sure what search terms/keywords your target audience(s) are most frequently entering in search engines to identify organizations that offer your particular products or services? Reach out. We’re keyword research and planning experts and can help you determine what phrases to focus on in website content and page title tags and how to best modify and qualify the products and services you offer.

 

 

 

 

 

SEO, Uncategorized

The SEO Audit Mistake Many Make

To conduct a really thorough SEO audit, i.e., to determine if your website and other digital/online properties are optimized to rank high in search engine results listings for terms relevant to the products and services you offer, there are a whole host of items you should investigate and consider. But, our aim with this blog post is to address the simplest and most frequent SEO audit marketers and business owners tend to conduct, and that is — entering the search terms (keywords) they want their digital properties to “rank for” into a search engine, such as Google and Bing.

google search engine

Unfortunately, conducting the above actively can lead to a false sense of security related to how the organization in-question ranks. Why? Because Google and other search engines have great memories. They know what websites you visit frequently and/or have visited recently, and what links in search results listings you’ve clicked on. Let’s face it, particularly when we are in a marketing or business owner role, we’re constantly visiting the websites of our organizations, or clicking on links to them that appear in search engine results.

The unfortunate outcome of the above is that search engines are more likely to serve your website listing up high in search results to you than they are to serve it up high in results listings to individuals not affiliated with your organization. But, you may believe that all individuals are seeing the same search engine results you are. You may be seeing a listing for your organization on the 1st page of search results, while target audiences may not see it until page 3 (and they likely won’t make it that far!)

Another key reason testing to see where your organization’s listing appears in search engine results can lead to a wrong SEO perception is because search engines take into consider your location — where you physically are when searching and/or your device’s IP address. So, let’s say I want to see where my firm appears in search engine results pages (SERP) for the term “SEO strategist MA”, a results listing for my organization, Results Communications and Research, might be presented to me at or near the top of the SERP simply because I’m searching from a computer with an IP address that is associated with the town where my business is located, i.e., Braintree, MA.

When a client engages my firm to help with technical/organic SEO activities, I always like to conduct an audit of where they rank for agreed-upon keywords/search terms, so that 3, 6, and/or 9 months down the road, we can see if the SEO tactics we’ve implemented have moved the SEO needle. Because I always visit prospective and new clients’ sites countless times in the initial days of discussions or working with them, I know it doesn’t make sense for me to conduct the simple audit activity described above on their behalf. I subcontract such work to a fellow marketing professional who has no association with the organization, and I specifically request that she doesn’t visit the client in-question’s site before she conducts the audit. Although, this doesn’t completely remove the “location bias” described above. I provide a variety of geographic and location triggers to include in her search to minimize “location bias”. Therefore, I instruct her to include certain towns, cities, and states, in the search phrase itself, such as “general contractors Boston MA” or “window cleaners Providence RI.”

Tactics to employ to avoid getting “misleading” results in response to the simple audit activity featured in this blog include:

  1. Use the “private” or “incognito” sessions/search capabilities associated with your browser, so that search engines won’t associate your past website visit history with you.
  2. Clear your cookies, cache, and browsing history.
  3. Ask an individual, such as a friend or family member, who hasn’t visited your site at all, or hasn’t visited frequently or recently, to conduct this audit for you.

Get more details about the above tactics, and learn about factors beyond your “history” and “location” that influence what results are served to individuals conducting a search engine query: https://www.webpresencesolutions.net/7-reasons-google-search-results-vary-dramatically/; https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/rankings-you-see-on-google/ 

SEO is a constantly evolving opportunity and challenge, and we’re always here to help, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

digital marketing agency, Nonprofit Marketing & Communications, online advertising, SEO, social media, Uncategorized, website

One Digital Marketing Agency’s Story: Five Years By The Numbers

Since it will be five years next month that Results C & R hung its digital marketing agency shingle, via the launch of this website, I thought it would be a fun and interesting exercise to do a deep dive into the types of clients our organization has served to-date,  as well as the nature of the work we’ve done for them. I mean, we’re always slicing ‘n dicing our clients’ data, why not slice our own?

The graphics below should readily tell our story of the 42 clients we’ve helped (as of the date of this blog post) over the past five years, and how we’ve helped them (with ongoing or one-off/project marketing strategy development or tactic execution work). But, just to preview and reinforce what you’ll see…we’ve served a very diverse group of clients with a very diverse set of digital marketing — and even some traditional marketing — challenges and objectives.

And, while our specialties since the launch of our digital marketing consultancy have been technical SEO; paid SEO (SEM/pay-per-click ads); website revisions, revamps, and launches; and Google Analytics account set-up and data analysis, we enjoy and can help clients with a variety of marketing and market research needs!

Nature of Client Work.png

size of clients

Nature of Client Work

 

good will creation, integrated marketing, lead generation, sales, SEO, social media

A 10-Year Look-back: Observations on Social Media Use by Businesses

Social media is no longer a new and innovative marketing tactic. So, I thought it might benefit my readers to look back at the 10+ years this tactic has been used by organizations and share what I’ve observed and learned.

Roughly 10 years ago, as a contractor, who eventually assumed permanent marketing manager and director roles at a large New England health plan, I was a big champion of social media. At that time, social media use by organizations for business purposes vs. by individuals for social purposes was starting to gain momentum, but there were still a good number of business organizations who had yet to launch a social media presence. I worked diligently to educate senior leadership in the marketing and communications department where I worked, as well as across the entire organization, about why we needed to dip our toes in the social media pool. I’m sure my reasons at the time for pushing my employer to establish a social media presence on one or several social media platforms included several, if not all, of the following:

  • by not having a social media presence, our organization looked dated and irrelevant
  • our competitors were taking advantage of this new marketing tool known as “social media” and we were missing out on the opportunities they were having to connect and communicate with our mutual target audiences: 1) direct users of our services aka members (individuals who qualified for state-funded healthcare coverage programs); 2) healthcare providers who served our members, and 3) nonprofit organizations serving our members who could refer them to us
  • other than employee time to create and share posts, social media was “free” and could help us make the most of our marketing budget
  • through the sharing of thought-provoking and informational posts, my employer could establish itself as a subject matter expert
  • we could drive traffic to our website via posts that contained links to various website content
  • we could create goodwill with other organizations by sharing their posts
  • we could speak to our members and prospective members via one of their preferred vehicles of communications; therefore, not only could we market ourselves using social media, we could keep our members informed

I eventually got buy-in to launch a social media presence for my employer and how we used the platforms and which platforms we used evolved during my time at the health plan. And, five years post my departure, I’m sure the health plan’s use of social media to promote itself, create goodwill, and communicate with its members, providers and the community continues to evolve.

Based on my approximately 10 years’ experience overseeing the social media presence of corporate employers, clients, and my own organization, Results Communications and Research, here’s what I’ve learned about social media use by businesses to create awareness and generate leads and sales. I call out these last two objectives, because ultimately those are the biggest desired end results of organizations who develop and implement a social media strategy.

  • Organizations should never put all of their marketing & communications $$ and efforts into their social media basket. Regardless of an organization’s nature and the nature of the products and services offered, some members of one or all of an organization’s target audiences may not be active on social media; therefore, you need to leave some $$ and time to reach those individuals who aren’t fans or users of social media via another form of communication that may be preferred by them, such as e-mail marketing, search engine advertising, or print advertising.
  • Even if it’s limited, organizations should maintain a social media presence to establish and maintain relevancy. Organizations don’t want potential clients or existing customers to make the assumption you won’t be up-to-speed on other issues because you’re viewed as “behind-the-times” by not having a social media presence.
  • More is not always more. Sure there’s a large # of social media networks/platforms out there: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and others. That doesn’t mean your organization should have a presence on all of them. It’s hard to maintain a strong, effective presence on one or several platforms if you dilute your social media energies too much across too large a range of social media networks.
  • Each platform has distinct audiences, benefits and limitations. Here’s our observations on the platforms we’ve used most to promote our own organization as well as others’:
    • LinkedIn – because it was built for business and professional networking purposes, each & every organization should have a profile page on LinkedIn; a lot of really great conversations happen on LinkedIn via post comments and LinkedIn’s messaging capability
    • Twitter — as with LinkedIn, this is where we see business conversations happening most, regardless of the nature of an organization, but particularly when it comes to business-to-business conversations and services
    • Facebook and Instagram – based on our experience, business Facebook and Instagram profiles work best for organizations offering business-to-consumer services or products vs. business-to-business services or products. A restaurant or hair salon may benefit from having a business Facebook or Instagram page, but a business offering services to another business, like insurance, likely won’t benefit as much. And, if you’re not an organization who wants to or can regularly take and post new photos, you shouldn’t bother with an Instagram account since Instagram is all about serving up a steady stream of interesting photos
    • Pinterest – consumer goods companies, such as food or other retailers will benefit from having a presence here, but there don’t seem to be any applications for organizations offering services. As with Instagram, if you’re going to maintain an effective presence on Pinterest, you need to be able to constantly take and post new photos or graphic images
    • YouTube – organizations need to think of YouTube as a search engine — since the YouTube search tool receives the second largest search volume after Google. Regardless of its nature, any organization should benefit from establishing a channel and sharing videos here
    • Google My Business – while some may not view this as a social media network/platform, I believe each and every organization should have such a profile, keep it current and regularly post to it, the way you would any other social media platform. This will greatly improve your SEO — where you fall in search engine results listings for search terms relevant to your products and services
  • In isolation, social media profiles and posts don’t often directly lead to sales or generate leads. In general, social media strategy and tactics need to be supported by other marketing tactics as part of a much larger, integrated marketing plan. We highlighted this in red to really call out the danger associated with believing that a social media presence will directly promote sales and leads, or suffice as a stand-alone marketing activity to create awareness of your organization and its products and services. In rare instances, social media posts may generate sales and leads, but those are the exceptions. For example, these types of social media behavior may generate a lead or a sale
    • Posts that promote sales or special offers for whatever consumer goods are currently most popular or the “it” thing
    • Posts that promote upcoming events, such as concerts by popular performers
    • Commenting on another organization’s or professional’s post, particularly on LinkedIn or Twitter
  • Organizations should use Google Analytics to determine where to put their social media $$ and energies. I always suggest giving equal attention — in the form of posting your own content and sharing, liking and commenting on others’ — to two or three social media platforms that make sense for your organization (for several months), based on what I shared about about the platforms’ benefits and limitations. Then, use Google Analytics to determine which of these social media platforms are referring the most traffic to your site. That will help inform where you’ll likely want to put most of your social media energies going forward.
  • Businesses shouldn’t “go dark” on certain social media platforms without acknowledging it or explaining why. Whenever I’m preparing for a meeting with a prospective client, I check out all their digital/online marketing activities, including their social media presence. I’m always surprised by the number of organizations that have social media icons on their websites that link to profiles on social media platforms that they don’t maintain, e.g., haven’t posted to in the last 3 to 6 months or longer. If you don’t have the capacity to maintain an effective social media presence on a particular platform, i.e., can’t post at least weekly to the platform, consider the following:
    • removing the social media icon link to the platform, in question, until you can give the social media network the attention it deserves
    •  posting to the “neglected” social media platform that you won’t be posting to the platform in the foreseeable future, but that you hope your followers will join you on x,y,z platform instead and include a link to your presence(s) there (assumes you are more effectively maintaining a presence on one or several other platforms)
  • If you’re going to put time & energy into social media, be sure to capitalize on it. Be sure to put social media icons on each page of your website that link to the various social media platforms on which you have a presence. Also, place such icon links in e-mail signatures, and e-newletters. I’ve seen so many organizations neglect to do the aforementioned, and therefore, miss out the opportunity to build stronger bonds and share additional information with customers and prospective clients.

To summarize our observations, in general, social media shouldn’t be used in isolation by organizations to generate leads and sales. It should be one tactic that is part of a much bigger integrated marketing plan. Organizations should maintain a social media presence to be seen as relevant and to create goodwill with customers, prospective customers, and organizations who might be good business referral sources, but it isn’t necessary to have a presence on each and every social media platform. If you’re going to have a presence on a certain form of social media, be sure to post, comment, like, share, etc. regularly, and don’t just “go dark.” Use Google Analytics data to determine which forms of social media drive the most traffic to your website and focus your energies there, and make sure your website and e-communications share links to and promote your social media presence.

Need help creating or evaluating your social media strategy? Contact us to learn about our social media “audit” and strategy development and “voice” services.

 

 

 

SEO, website

All Backlinks Aren’t Created Equal: Some Hurt, Some Help SEO

Through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google Analytics work I recently completed for a client, I was reminded, and prompted to share via this blog post, that all backlinks (links to your website from another website or blog) aren’t created equal when it comes to SEO. For years, I and most fellow marketers, have known that having links to one’s website on the websites of other creditable, highly regarded websites was a good thing as far as Google’s SEO algorithm goes. Such backlinks cause Google to view your site as also being creditable and trustworthy, and therefore, improves where your website appears in Google search engine results for search terms relevant to your organization’s products and services. But, many marketers lose sight of or are not aware of the fact that all backlinks are not “good.”

Like Anyone Else, Google Judges You By the Company You Keep

The bad backlink news is that if your website is receiving a lot of referral traffic from non-creditable and “spammy” websites, i,e., “bad” sites, it can really harm how Google treats your site from an SEO standpoint. As it should, Google has never been one to reward websites and their owners for trying to “play” or “game” them. They recognize spammy backlinks for what they often are, an attempt to improve SEO by purchasing or placing links to one’s website on low-quality sites, and Google will be less likely vs. more likely to present listings with a link to your website in its search engine results for your desired search terms. (A quick, but relevant digression: A past blog post called out how Google is more likely to reward authentic sites, and that includes sites that have “mutual admiration” relationships with organizations who respect their work, products, and services, and are willing to share links to their website.)

Based on my review of many clients’ Google Analytics data, it’s not uncommon to have a few “spammy” sites referring traffic to your website, and it’s unlikely that having a half dozen or less such sites driving traffic will cause Google to ding you significantly related to where you appear in search engine results. Of course, the aforementioned assumes that your website is reputable and relevant and meets other SEO best practices and standards, not just backlink ones.

While the purpose of this post is really to alert readers of this potential SEO danger and to explain how you can identify if your backlinks may be hurting vs. helping you, at the end of my post, I will share some experts’ thoughts on how to fix this bad SEO equation. If your site has close to 10, or many more than 10, “bad” sites referring traffic, you should take immediate steps to remedy this.

A Google Analytics data review allows you to see how visitors are finding your website. Once logged into your Google Analytics account, you can view this data by accessing the “Channels” report under the “Acquisition” left-hand menu tab as shown below.

Website Acquisition Channels - Google Analytics.png

  • direct = someone entered your website’s domain/URL directly into their browser or they had your website bookmarked
  • organic search = someone entered relevant terms in a search engine and then clicked on a link included in a search results listing
  • paid search = someone clicked on an online ad as part of a online advertising campaign you ran on a search engine advertising platform, like Google Ads
  • social = someone clicked on a link to a page on your website included in a social media post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • referral = someone clicked on a link to your site found on a website or blog

An immediate red flag — one I saw with the client that I referenced at the top of this post — is, in most cases, when too large of a percentage of your website traffic is “referral” traffic. Ideally, your two largest traffic channels would be “direct” and “organic search.” If the percentage of traffic associated with these two latter channels, individually, is lower than the % of traffic from “referrals”, that’s an indication that you could be driving a lot of traffic to your website from “spammy” sites. Let’s face it, the folks you most want visiting your site are quality visitors, i.e., current/returning customers and individuals who have found your site because of a relevant search engine search.

Your next step in assessing whether your SEO is likely being negatively impacted by “bad” backlinks is to click on “Referral” where it is listed under the “Default Channel Grouping” in Google Analytics, as shown in the image above. A list will immediately be generated showing you the various websites and blogs that are referring traffic to your site. It should be pretty obvious to you by the names of the referral sources which ones aren’t reputable blogs and websites with which you want your own website and your organization to be associated.

Bottom line is this — whether you intentionally had an organization who claimed they could improve your SEO purchase/provide/set up such backlinks on your behalf, or such backlinks were established by someone your organization did not engage for SEO help or who is not affiliated with your organization and who was/is looking to negatively impact your organization and SEO results, you’ll want to eliminate spammy backlinks since they’ll harm you in the long run.

Learn more from experts, including Google themselves, about backlinks and get advice on how to resolve “bad” backlink scenarios, or reach out to us for assistance.

https://prowly.com/magazine/stop-spam-backlinks-ruining-google-reputation/

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2648487?hl=en

 

 

 

 

keywords, SEO, target audiences, Target Marketing, Uncategorized, Understanding Your Environment, User experience, website

Are You Hurting Your Organization By Using “Internal Speak” With External Audiences?

During the past couple of months, I’ve had quite a few opportunities to discuss and help prospective and existing clients with their SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is a must for any organization that hangs a shingle. Unless your business is strictly a referral-based organization, and that’s the only way you tend to generate sales, you need to do all you can to make sure listings with links to various pages of your website appear at the top of search engine results for terms you deem relevant and desirable. That way, online “searchers” for your particular product or service can easily find you, and find you before your competitors.

Are You or Your Marketing & Sales Team Wearing Blinders?

blinders on related to seo

A critical SEO error I’ve been seeing organizations make is this — they don’t walk in the shoes of one or several of their target audiences. Sometimes, individuals responsible for sales and awareness-generation get so caught up in their organization’s inner/internal world (and in the case of this blog post, “internal” can mean internal to both your organization and your industry), they get blinders on, and are guilty of the following SEO blunders:

  • Overuse of Acronyms and Industry Terms — using acronyms or industry terms on their website that some or all of their external audiences likely won’t understand. Regardless of whether acronyms or terms you are considering using are used in a particularly industry vs. only used within your organization, before you use them, give great thought to whether any of your target audiences widely uses or would understand them, and be sure to explain what they mean to audiences who don’t — as I did with the acronym “SEO” in my first paragraph. You can do this by adding a brief explanation in parentheses after the acronym or industry term in-question, or linking to a definition or explanation elsewhere on your site or on another credible external site.
  • Creative Phrase/Name For Common Product or Service — to differentiate themselves from a competitor, coming up with a creative phrase to replace the normal or common term used for that same product or service. Organizations must keep in mind that just because they want to be known for/by this differentiating phrase, that doesn’t mean target audiences will be searching on that term, which could have a very negative impact on driving traffic to your site. Let’s say a firm offers financial planning services, but wants to refer to those services via a catchy, memorable phrase like “milestone money maximization”. If they only use the “milestone…” phrase throughout their website, searchers looking for “financial planning services” aren’t going to learn of them via a search engine search, as the search engine won’t find and index that phrase on their website.
  • Ignoring Needs of Certain Audiences — not addressing all of their audiences. As discussed above, while “internal speak”, such as acronyms and industry terms, may work for one audience, they may not work for all. For example, an organization may get client referrals from professionals such as healthcare providers, CPAs, lawyers, etc., but individuals may also come directly to the organization vs. being referred by a professional. That organization needs to make sure they use language that is understood by and resonates with both professionals and direct users of the service aka “lay people.”

One of the SEO services we offer, and with 30 years of marketing experience we’re experts in doing so, is review of websites with an objective, external eye, while wearing the shoes of each of a client’s audiences. We can fairly quickly identify where and how you might be negatively impacting your organic SEO, and ultimately, limiting sales and awareness among desired external populations, through “internal speak.”

landing pages, online advertising, SEO

Why Paid Search Advertising Isn’t For Everyone

Over the past 3.5 years, we’ve helped a number of clients, in a variety of industries, of various profit status, and of different sizes, develop, launch, and analyze online advertising campaigns. The objectives of these clients were also quite diverse. Some simply wanted to create awareness of a new brand, product, or product line. Others, wanted to generate what’s known in the online advertising world as “conversions.” Conversions occur when an individual who is presented with an online ad, clicks on the ad, lands on the advertiser’s web site and then takes a desired action such as making a purchase or donation, signing up for a newsletter, or completing and submitting a contact or inquiry form.

Regardless of an advertiser’s campaign objectives, one of the very first questions that needs to be answered when laying out plans for a campaign and deciding what advertising vehicles to use is, “at the time my campaign launches, will my target audiences be actively searching (via a search engine query) for information related to my product or service?” For example, if a non-profit organization wants to sell tickets to a holiday fundraising event, but doesn’t believe individuals residing in the right geography and who have interests related to the nature of event are aware of the event or would be searching for information on it, then a paid search campaign — a campaign where you pay to have your ad presented to searchers entering appropriate terms into a search engine — to generate event ticket sales is unlikely to be effective or a good use of marketing/promotional $$$.

The same theory described above applies to promoting a product or service that is brand new — not just to the advertiser’s own product and service line-up, we mean one that neither the advertiser nor a competitor has offered in the past. If a product or service is a new offering for an advertiser, but a competitor has offered a similar product or service in the past, then likely the advertiser’s target audience is aware of the product or service and will be searching on it via a search engine like Google or Bing. But, if a product or service has never been available to the desired target audience before from either the advertiser or the advertiser’s competitors, a paid search campaign shouldn’t be expected to yield strong results. In this case, a “display” campaign where you get your ad in front of audiences who are either reading online content related to your product or service, have interests related to your product or service, or who visit Web sites that are relevant to your product or service, makes a lot more sense.

image of text ads

A caveat to the above thinking about paid search being an appropriate means of advertising a product or service that has been available to target audiences in the past because of an advertiser or a competitor of the advertiser offering it, is the following. Particularly with B2B products and services — those sold by one business to another business — the choice regarding from whom to buy products and services is often based on existing relationships and professional networks/networking. CEOs, CFOS, CIOs, and other corporate senior management, as well as small business owners, looking to engage other businesses for products and services may simply look to their existing professional relationships, or reach out to their professional network for referrals. Therefore, before launching a paid search campaign, the advertiser should also give thought to whether or not they think their target audience would be looking to identify a vendor for their particular product or service via a search engine query, or if sales are more likely to be relationship-driven.

Advertisers should also be cautious about running paid search campaigns just because they see their competitors doing so. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if a competitor’s paid search ads are generating good results for them. They may be running ads and their sales results may simultaneously be impressive, but there could be one or several other marketing activities responsible for generating sales vs. paid search generating them.

If you’ve read our other blog or social media posts related to the topics of paid search and online advertising, in general, you know that we believe that paid search is an excellent opportunity to get in front of target audiences who are actively searching for relevant product or service information. And, we love the fact that advertisers only pay for advertising when individuals click on their ad and end up on their Web site vs. paying for ad “impressions” each time their ad is shown. Plus, certainly, paid search can improve where an advertiser falls in the list of search results presented by a search engine in response to an appropriate search query.  Nonetheless, as we’ve outlined above, paid search isn’t for everyone. Banner advertising where you purchase advertising directly from one or several Web sites that your target audience is likely to visit, or display advertising, described above, might be your best online advertising options. We’d welcome helping you decide whether paid search advertising, display advertising, banner advertising, all three of them, or none of them, are the right fit for your marketing campaign objectives, so reach out to us any time for a complimentary discussion.