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Search Engine Guide : Small Business Search Marketing
Search engine marketing news and information you can use to grow your business.

Search Engine Guide
  • The Need for Small Businesses to Build a Conversion-Friendly Website

    by Kevin Johnson

    When it comes to the world of Web development, it seems that trends and opinions on the most effective options are constantly in flux. Responsive Web design? Parallax? But at the end of the day, only one thing should really matter for small businesses hoping to improve their online business efforts: making conversions.

    Just like any other aspect of a small business, a website's ultimate goal should be to spur potential consumers to action. Whether that action is a sale, an online query or something else is determined by the business's goals, but either way, the website needs to lead consumers into taking some form of action.

    While this may seem easier said than done for many small business owners, the truth of the matter is that investing in a high-quality, easy-to-navigate Web design can ultimately be every bit as important as (if not even more so) investing in SEO and other forms of marketing that drive traffic to the site in the first place.

    Basic Choices
    Creating a successful website that will generate leads begins with choosing a design that is visually engaging to the audience and logically guides them to the call to action in a clear and direct manner.

    Web development agency Fusion 360 recommends making a minimalist site that is easily scanned by readers, as most Web content is browsed rather than read word-for-word. This entails avoiding the creation of text-heavy pages that can quickly become overwhelming to Web browsers (particularly mobile users) who are trying to access desired information as quickly as possible.

    All text should be clear and concise in helping consumers understand how a company's product or services meet their needs while simultaneously guiding them through the conversion process. This includes making calls to action clear and direct. It doesn't help to use over-the-top, hyped language that doesn't adequately address a potential customer's concerns.

    Stylistic choices should also remain consistent throughout the site, allowing for easy navigation. Different areas of the site should be clearly labelled, and navigation menus should be placed logically so users can get where they want to go. Generally speaking, the most important information should be placed "above the fold"--or near the top of the screen, before a user would need to scroll down to view more content.

    Including a search option is another important consideration that can help users more easily find the content they are seeking. The easier a website is to use and navigate, the more likely users will follow through on the site's call to action, generating sales leads and other actions that fulfill the site's purpose.

    Other Conversion Tools
    Beyond these Web design basics, other useful features can make a big difference when properly implemented. Business 2 Community recommends utilizing such features as customer reviews, offering live chat customer assistance, and email capture services.

    The benefit of such features stems from the additional ease-of-use provided to customers. For example, enabling customers to leave reviews of particular products builds a sense of trust and transparency that makes potential consumers more confident in their purchase (just look at how much Amazon relies on customer reviews for its successful business model).

    Providing live chat assistance can also help when customers have questions or concerns that they want addressed immediately while browsing the site, but small businesses should be sure they have the resources available to such a feature before fully implementing it on a site.

    Email capture helps deal with the surprisingly common problem of "cart abandonment"--or users filling an online cart with items, then leaving the site before actually completing the purchase. Widgets such as Rejoiner enable email capture of these uncompleted transactions, which then allows for business owners to email customers to remind them of it (hopefully prompting the sale to actually take place).

    Experimentation and Testing
    However, while an initial design and its accompanying features may appear to get the job done properly, adapting to current Web design trends is a must for a company's site to remain relevant and useful to consumers. What was popular in 2010 is not necessarily still the best choice for 2015. Before even launching a site, it is recommended to invest in A/B testing to determine which of two competing designs will ultimately yield the best results.

    While not every small business will have the budget to perform extensive A/B testing on website designs, every company should test their site before launch to ensure that it truly is going to be effective in leading consumers to take the desired action.

    The more testing that can be done prior to a website launch, the better. These tests can allow designers to identify which elements of a site's layout are not appealing to users, and where improvements can be made to better enable a smooth user experience. What may seem like a great idea while in development may ultimately not provide the best functionality for users.

    Even after a website has been successfully launched, businesses would be wise to stay up-to-date on the constantly changing trends of the industry. User experience continues to evolve (as the rise of smartphones has already demonstrated), and design and layout changes will likely be a future necessity to ensure the continued effectiveness of a site.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • Searchmetrics Releases New Content Performance Research Tool

    by Jayson DeMers

    When more than 5,000 marketers were asked, "Does your organization use content marketing?" for the fifth annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends--North America report, an astounding 86% responded with, "yes." However, when asked, "How successful is your organization at tracking the ROI of its content marketing program?" only 21% said that they were successful.

    So, why would you continue to spend money on a content marketing budget if you aren't able to effectively measure its performance?

    In most cases, you wouldn't. But on July 15, 2015, Searchmetrics announced a new solution called Content Performance within its Research Cloud that not only lets you check your website's traffic, it also gives you the ability to view holistic KPIs on a page-by-page level, as well as measure the competitors who are outperforming you, providing the "whole" story of a website. It's described as "an ad-hoc analysis solution on a URL basis within the biggest search and content data pool available."

    What is the Research Cloud?

    Searchmetrics has revamped its software; you can now enter a domain into the search field and receive relevant metrics in one overview page. The changes are aimed at helping SEOs, bloggers, and marketers answer two important questions; "Where am I currently positioned?" and "What can I achieve?"

    The backbone of this new feature is the large data pool that includes billions of pieces of information from more than 100 million domains, SEO, PPC, content, backlinks, and social data available within the Research Cloud.

    Introducing Content Performance

    Content Performance, within the Research Cloud, allows users to create a better and more detailed picture of any website, which shows all the relevant performance metrics along with a unique solution to analyze landing pages. 

    What makes Content Performance so useful is that it focuses on holistic content as opposed to single keywords. While it may have been acceptable to focus solely on keywords in the past, Content Performance also explores a URL. This is important because landing pages that contain a wide-range of content clusters and topics rank better in Google organic search results. 

    Additionally, with an overview of a URL, you can better understand the web projects that your competitors are working on, and even analyze every page from hundreds of millions of domains in just a matter of seconds. This includes:

    • Competitor's top pages
    • Inbound links that refer to the top pages
    • The keywords that your competition ranks for
    • If there are any secondary keywords that are being targeted
    • The strongest inbound links
    • Competitor's social media strategy
    Besides allowing you to understand your competitor's web projects and use them to your advantage, Content Performance gives you the ability to analyze the environment of your market in a matter of seconds. 

    Research Cloud Features

    Besides Content Performance, the Research Cloud also contains the following features:

    • Mojo and Desktop vs Mobile Visibility
    The "mojo" feature allows you to see if a domain has strong search traffic, but is under-performing in other areas, such as social media traffic, at a glance.

    • Visibility and Google Updates
    Underneath the mojo is a graph that illustrates historical organic search visibility and paid visibility. If you're using the free version, you can only review the last 3 months. Registered members, however, have access to years of historical data.

    Another exciting new feature is "Google Updates," which allows you to see instantly all previous Google algorithm updates.

    • Geography
    This is another new feature that allows you to view differences between specific countries. For example, you could compare the SEO visibility for the top ten countries for your brand. This information allows you to analyze various global markets.

    • Rankings
    This feature provides the national SEO Rank or PPC Rank of your domain. It also provides the quantity, value, and position of keywords for which the domain ranks in organic search. With this data, you can see the relationship between SEO and PPC behavior and keyword distribution of a domain.

    There's also a "most important keywords" as well as a "winners/losers list" that can be used for answering any ROI-related questions.

    • Mobile Performance
    This gives you a glimpse into the performance of a domain across mobile devices.

    • Market Analysis and Industries
    This module allows users to conduct a competitor analysis where you can find how a keyword ranks for a specific domain.

    • Links and Social
    This feature gives you a holistic view that examines inbound links metrics, as well as an overview of your domain's social rank, social signal quality, and visibility on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

    Conclusion

    With the addition of Content Performance, Searchmetrics' Research Cloud is a fantastic suite of tools for online marketers. If you're interested in giving Searchmetrics Research Cloud a try, head over to Searchmetrics and see what new insights you can gain from this set of tools.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • Do you know how to calculate your conversion rate?

    by Mike Moran

    I had a great time delivering the keynote one time at the Wednesday live conference in Stockholm, which featured an all-too-typical show of hands. First, I asked how many of the marketers in attendance had a Web Analytics system installed on their site. Every hand in the room went up. Then I said, "Keep your hands up if you check your results at least once a day." Every hand went down. Why is this so? Having an analytics system and not using it regularly is like having an extra car in your garage that you don't drive. What is stopping us from using these numbers that we generate every minute of every day?

    I don't know for sure, but I think there are a few reasons. Some marketers think they can skate through to retirement without really adapting to the Internet. Others might feel like they just don't know how to do it and it's too scary to learn. But every year, I think those groups become more and more of a minority.

    I think the real problem is that marketing analytics are still too hard for the average person. Think of all the steps required:

    • Choose an analytics system
    • Get an account or install the software
    • Configure your Web site with JavaScript to start counting visitors
    • Choose your conversions
    • Instrument your site to report the conversions
    • Learn how to analyze the reporting
    And after doing all this work, you haven't even learned anything about your customers yet.

    No wonder there are books and consultants galore to help you. The average marketer is swimming in details without getting anything back for quite a while. This takes a commitment.

    And even after you have done all of these things, you still need to grapple with what you are looking for. Just take one seemingly simple metric: conversion rate. Conversion rate is the number of conversions divided by either the number of visits or the number of visitors. So, marketers need to make a decision before they even can use this metric!

    I typically take clients through a very basic set of concepts to get them started:

    • Visit: A single session at a Web site. Every time a person comes to your Web site, it counts as a visit. Visits are not people. They are the online equivalent of a trip to the store. Some people make several trips to the same store before buying something while others make just one, but if you count visits, you are adding up all the trips to the store across all people.
    • Visitors: People who come to your Web site--sometimes called Unique Visitors. If someone comes to your Web site, the person is a visitor and they have made one visit. If that same person returns to your Web site later, you still tally one visitor, because it was the same person, but you count two visits.
    Some industries should calculate their conversion rates using visits, while others should use visitors. Because the same person could visit Amazon five times in fives days and conceivably buy something each time, Amazon should divide conversions by visits to calculate its conversion rate.

    On the other hand, if a person comes to Honda's Web site five times in five days, it doesn't make sense that they might buy five cars. Instead it makes more sense to figure that they are getting more information in each visit for a single purchase, so Honda should calculate its conversion rate by dividing conversions by visitors.

    Now, notwithstanding all of that, for some businesses it might not be that easy to know whether visits or visitors is the right number to divide by. HP sells printer cartridges and laptops--so they don't have a clear-cut argument for using either visits or visitors across their whole site. But you should know that as long as HP makes a decision and sticks with it, they'll always be comparing their metrics consistently, which is the most important thing.

    After walking through this entire blog post, I have immense sympathy for all those marketers that put their hands down. Instead of us thinking these poor saps are too dumb to be Internet marketers, maybe this should be a wake-up call to the entire Web analytics industry. If we don't start making it easier, marketers aren't going to do it.

    Originally posted on Biznology

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • 5 Resume Tips Designed to Help SEOs Land Competitive Jobs

    by Jayson DeMers

    Do you feel like you're an expert at getting clients to rank for certain keywords or objectives? Well, are you equally as good at marketing your own services and maximizing resume visibility? Just as you do with websites, blog posts, and search terms, you have to work hard to ensure your resume is seen by as many people as possible. Additionally, it needs to effectively capture your skills, qualifications, and personality. 

    Learn From These 5 Tips

    Did you know that recruiters and those responsible for hiring people only spend an average of five to seven seconds looking at a resume? What about the fact that only 35 percent of applicants are even qualified for the jobs they apply for? Assuming you are qualified for the jobs and contracts you apply for, this means you have to find a way to quickly make an impression while simultaneously proving your qualifications. Here are some tangible tips to get you started:

    1. Quickly list education/qualifications. Regardless of how brief it is, every resume needs a section that lists educational background and qualifications. And instead of placing it at the very end - which seems to be a trend these days - do the reader a favor and put it at the very beginning. This prevents them from having to search for that information and gives them a better feel for who you are and where you've been. 

    2. Play up soft skills. While your qualifications may get your resume in front of the right eyes, it's the personal qualities, attitudes, and habits that help you stand out. According to this blog post from CBT Nuggets, soft skills are able to boost a resume unlike anything else. They take you from just another "qualified" professional to a qualified professional that's also likeable and dependable. 

    3. Link to a portfolio. If you're honest with yourself, it's impossible to accurately convey your talents without showing some in-depth proof or case studies. While it's not appropriate to include them in your actual resume (brevity is much appreciated), it's certainly okay to link to an external website or portfolio. 

    4. Use keywords and job-specific language. As someone who deals with keywords and semantic structure on a daily basis, you don't need to be reminded of the importance of using job-specific language - but it does bear reemphasizing. Any time you're reaching out to a potential client or employer, it's critical that you study the style and tone of their content and language. This will guide you in how you should structure your resume.

    5. Focus on niche/specific skills and experience. Somewhere along the line, western culture has inundated us with the idea that more is better. Well, when it comes to resumes, the opposite is often true. While you don't want to omit important information, you should find concise ways to convey the value you bring to the table. Focus on niche skills that few others have, as opposed to some generalized talent that's a dime a dozen. 

    The issue with tips like these is that most people feel like they don't apply to them. Well, let's make one thing clear: If you want to be competitive in today's increasingly congested SEO industry, you need to follow these tips. They'll help you stand out above the phonies and prevent you from blending in with the stream of other resumes you're likely competing against. 

    Don't Make These Resume-Killing Mistakes

    In addition to utilizing these tips, there are also some shortcomings, oversights, and pitfalls you'll want to avoid. Specifically, try not to make the following resume-killing mistakes:

    Keyword stuffing. One of the biggest turnoffs for businesses and job recruiters is keyword stuffing. While it may (and the keyword is may) help you increase visibility, it's a sure-fire way to make a bad first impression on the reader. It makes them feel like they're indispensable, or just another reader. Instead, you should focus on one or two valuable keywords that show you've paid attention to their core values and needs. Think about it in terms of how you would approach an SEO campaign for one of your clients. Instead of going after 25 generic search terms, you would be much better off targeting three specific long tail terms.

    Too much experience. If you're well into your career, you may not want to list all of your work experience. Despite being illegal, many hiring decision-makers associate lots of experience with being too old and dated. For best results, focus on the past 10 to 15 years of your career when listing accomplishments and job history. 

    No clear flow. Does your resume have a clear and identifiable flow? What about a primary focus? Nothing is worse than a scatterbrained resume that leaves the reader wondering what they just read. Everything you put on your resume should fit into a neat, concise section. If it can't fit in one of these sections, it probably doesn't need to be included. Resume structure comes in a close second to content, as it pertains to value and importance. 

    Sometimes the only way to avoid mistakes is to make them and learn. However, with a little knowledge and understanding, you can avoid these blunders altogether. 

    Start Selling Yourself

    Ultimately, a valuable resume is one which sells the individual, not the skills. While you may be one of the most talented and progressive SEOs in the industry, what sets you apart from a personal point of view? Businesses want to hire people they can count on time after time. Having a particular skillset will only benefit you so much - so avoid making it the focus of your resume. Instead, use this brief document as a valuable testimonial that relates to who you are and why you're right for the job. 

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • What to Do When Your Domain Name Isn't Available

    by Jayson DeMers

    For companies with incredibly unique names, it's often simple to register a desirable domain name. However, with more than 850 million active websites on the internet, some brands find it challenging to secure the domain they want. Don't fret, though; there are plenty of ways to work around this and find a domain and extension that works for your business.

    The Importance of a Great Domain Name

    Trying to identify the value of a domain name is complicated and challenging. It's different for every business, industry, and customer. As an independent variable, it really doesn't have much value. But, when combined with things like web design, marketing campaigns, advertising, SEO, and content marketing, it can be the perfect tool for attracting and converting customers. Here are three ways a great domain name adds value to a brand:

    • Marketing. First and foremost, a great domain name works in conjunction with a company's brand identity. It should go hand-in-hand with the long-term marketing strategy of the business. For example, if your brand is aiming for a simple image with minimalistic web design and very precise content, you would want a domain name that reflects that image. A one or two word domain name with brief and concise syllables would be preferable over a string of descriptive words and characters. It's just one more way you can reinforce what your business stands for. 
    • SEO. There was a time where businesses pursued what are known as exact match domains (EMDs). These are domains which exactly match a specific keyword phrase that customers frequently use. They once offered a two-fold advantage. The presence of the actual keyword in the domain was a ranking factor, while it simultaneously encouraged webmasters to incorporate the keyword phrase into the anchor text when linking back to that site. However, multiple studies now suggest those advantages are no longer as valuable as they once were. With that being said, selecting a good domain name does indirectly impact SEO by increasing relevant traffic, and thereby enhancing domain authority.  
    • Search-ability. At a very basic level, your domain name impacts who finds you. It should be directly tied to your brand name or the products you sell. This allows people to stumble upon your site even when they aren't looking for it. On the other hand, if it's too complicated or unique, you'll rarely attract new users unless they find your site via referral links or search results.  At a very basic level, your domain name impacts who finds you. It should be directly tied to your brand name or the products you sell. This allows people to stumble upon your site even when they aren't looking for it. On the other hand, if it's too complicated or unique, you'll rarely attract new users unless they find your site via referral links or search results. 
    Solutions for Unavailable Domain Names

    The problem most brands encounter when unable to secure the domain name they want is that they're unwilling to broaden their horizons or try something new. If you can get past your desire to have the domain name "Example.com," you'll be able to find something. Here are a few solutions for common domain problems:

    1. Try a New GTLD

    Thankfully, there are more than one generic top-level domains (GTLDs). While ".com" is by far the most common and well-recognized, it's not your only option. By looking past this and opening your options up to other GTLDs, your options get much better.

    Some of the most common GTLDs include .info, .net, .org, .co, and .us. However, in the past few months, a slew of other ones have been released. Some of these include things like .club, .design, .website, .green, .social, .agency, .app, and more. This gives business owners virtually endless options. If your brand name was Bob's Bakery and you couldn't secure BobsBakery.com, you could try options like BobsBakery.food, Bobsbakery.store, or BobsBakery.info.

    2. Add or Reorder Words

    If your brand name is something basic (such as a single, recognizable word), you're going to have trouble registering that domain name with any GTLD - let alone with .com. In this case, your best option is to either add or reorder words. 

    Let's use the example of a fictional company named "Example Realty." If ExampleRealty.com is taken, you could try adding a single word for a domain like BuyExampleRealty.com, ExampleRealtyCompany.com, ShopExampleRealty.com, or ExampleRealtyGroup.com.

    3. Attempt to Buy the Domain

    Just because your desired domain name is taken, doesn't mean you can't have it. However, in most cases, you'll have to pay a pretty hefty price tag. While you can personally contact the webmaster, it may be better to pursue a purchase via a broker. These brokers are skilled at handling transactions, negotiating prices, ensuring legality, and protecting your identity. The latter point is extremely important. By veiling yourself, you avoid giving your competition any leverage or future bargaining power.

    There are some cons, though, as well. Brokers may charge anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of the sale price and will typically tack on additional transaction fees. There's also very little industry regulation and it's challenging to stop unethical brokers from taking advantage of you.

    4. Wait for the Domain to Expire

    If you still can't find a suitable domain alternative after trying a new GTLD, changing the wordage, or working with a broker to buy the domain, you may have to simply wait for the domain name to expire. This is sort of a long-shot, but is worth a try if you've already exhausted all options. 

    If you want to monitor multiple domain names, you can typically use a service like Network Solutions to keep an eye out for particular ones. They'll notify you when a domain is close to expiring, how much it will cost, and when it will be available for new registration.

    Don't Get Too Overwhelmed

    Ultimately, you can't get too overwhelmed with the process of selecting a domain name. If finding a domain is the biggest problem your business faces, you're doing just fine. While you don't want to underestimate the value of a concise, descriptive, easy-to-find domain, it shouldn't be your primary focus. Instead, focus on creating quality products and services that solve relevant pain points and resonate with customers in fresh ways. If you can get that down, your domain name could consist of a random string of characters and it would still provide a healthy return.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



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