Paid Search Vs Organic Search

Published by in SEO on November 4th, 2014

image_paid_organicYou’ve added content to your website, uploaded your product list and are now open for business. One question you keep asking is should I invest in paid search, and if so how much? Or should I invest my time and grow organically. Let’s dissect and analyze this way you will have an understanding and will be able to make a decision on how to start your time and money wisely.

Before we dissect organic and paid, lets pick a search engine where our search will appear whether it’s a paid listing or and an organic one. How often have you heard the phrase “Google it”? Upon close examination, you will see that Google is most powerful in search and a “clear leader” on successful search rates, with a 91 percent successful search rate. Bing’s percentage of successful searches equates to around 76 percent.

Organic search results appear based on an algorithm that’s used by the search engine;  paid search is just that – Ad links that come from advertising dollars appear on the top and the side of a search engine page.

paidsearch_organicsearch

Paid search is easily measurable. Conversions on your site have a direct correlation to the amount you bid for a keyword, the relevance of your Ad description and the quality score of your Ad. There are a lot of factors on how an ad appears when searched for a keyword and I will cover this in another topic on how to build effective Ads.

Organic results are search engine results that are returned by indexing pages based on relevant content and keywords. Getting your pages to appear high up in organic results is a combination of relevant page content, proper title tags, keywords and meta tags – all parts of proper SEO. Here are a list of SEO techniques that can help you build organic traffic and rank higher in SERP.

Growing originally takes time and requires patience. Google uses complex ranking algorithms to determine which websites will be listed nearest the top of the page. These algorithms consider more than 200 individual factors about a given web page automatically when determining whether or not to include it in the results that are displayed to the user. And while Google and the other engines never reveal the inner workings of their algorithms, savvy online marketers have uncovered many of these different factors through the process of experimentation – revealing a series of techniques that can be implemented both on and off a site to make it more attractive to the search engines’ indexing programs.

Google My Business

Published by in SEO on October 12th, 2014

GooglebusinessYou’ve heard of Yahoo Small business, Bing Places and Google My Business, all 3 promise results and indeed its crucial to list your small business with these search engine directories. Hundreds of million of consumers turn to these search engine giants every day. There is no doubt that Google is the largest player in search. Businesses know that appearing in Google search results is a key step in getting found by consumers around them.

Back in the day it was all about using the right tags and keywords on your site so that Google could pick it up. SEO consultants relied on webmaster tools to fetch and render your site  to a top Google listing for a few thousand bucks, and many could deliver for about 60 seconds until your site gets pushed to the 5th or 6th page of this search engine. Keeping your site on page one of the search engine is a never-ending process, an ongoing commitment of dollars and resources, a continuing evolvement of keywords, online activity, back linking, social media activity and a thousand other ways so your site gets relevance from Google and stays on page 1.

To help brands control how they appear online, Google has developed a variety of tools, including Google places and Google + Local. Now, Google is simplifying those tools with a new offering for businesses called Google My Business Locations.

googlemybusiness

Google My Business has  made it easier for businesses to list their physical address, verticals  they operate in, reviews and create a following. Your business listing can be created by following this link.

 

Understanding Google Analytics

GAGoogle Analytics is a service provided by Google that generates detailed information on site traffic and sources which results in measuring conversions.  What kinds of information, you ask?  Well, for starters, Google Analytics can show you where your visitors are coming from, what actions have they taken on your site and how long have they stayed on your site before leaving.

Basically, when you first build your website, you make a lot of assumptions.  You assume that the copy you write and the images you choose will be the most engaging options for your target visitors.  And you assume that the product benefits and call to action text you’ve chosen to feature are as compelling as possible and will result in the most possible sales.

But the problem with making these assumptions is that you’re just one person, with an insider’s view of your product or service.  And what you feel is most important to selling or converting leads on your website might not resonate with what your target customers want to see or hear.

To bridge the gap, smart marketers use data-driven decision making based on actual numbers – not assumptions.  When you use web analytics and split testing in order to find out exactly how people respond to the different elements on your site, you’re able to maximize conversions and increase sales with changes that are based on facts

Sounds pretty cool, right?  Let’s look at a few of the specific ways you can use this program to make decisions about changes to your site.  For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that you already have the program installed, but if you need guidance in this area, check out the Google Analytics “Getting Started Guide.”

Once you’ve logged into your Google Analytics Dashboard, you’ll see a few things right off the bat:

  • A graphical representation of the number of visits to your site over the last month,
  • More specific details about your site usage,
  • A map representing the locations of visitors to your site, and
  • An overview of both your most popular traffic sources and content pages.

And while there are tons and tons of different things you can do with this information, let’s stick with the data that can be most easily translated into actionable website improvements for website owners.

So for starters, go ahead and click on the “All Traffic” link under “Acquisition link

Here you’ll notice where your traffic is generating from.  On the next screen, you’ll see more information about the sites that send you traffic, including a breakdown of your top traffic sources and the keywords people are using to access your site.  There are two things you can do with this information – find related sites and uncover new keywords.

Next, click back to your All Traffic to review the sources that generate traffic. Many website owners find that their sites are receiving traffic from keywords they’d never considered targeting, so this portion of the Google Analytics dashboard can be a goldmine!  If you notice keywords that you aren’t actively targeting sending you traffic, consider adding content to your site that targets these keywords in order to secure an even higher SERPs ranking.

Using these techniques can help you to improve the flow of targeted traffic to your site, but that’s not all Google Analytics can do for you.  To learn more about how your visitors are engaging with your content navigate to the “Site Content” section by clicking on the relevant tab in the left-hand navigation menu.

Again, there are a few things you can do here.  First, take a look at your Top Content pages, by clicking on “View Full Report” under the summary section.  This will expand into a list of the most popular pages on your site – if your site is small, the default view of ten results may include all of your pages.

Take a good look at this information to check for any pages with either a significantly higher bounce rate or a lower average time on site.  Either of these signals could be an indication that the people who are arriving on these pages aren’t finding what they’re looking for.  Consider going back through your content on these poorly-performing pages and looking for ways to make them more engaging for your visitors.

Yes, this summary represents only the most basic of overviews into the full power of the Google Analytics program.  As you become more comfortable with the platform, you’ll want to take advantage of more advanced features that allow you to set and manage goals, as well as track the monetary impact of any changes you make.  With time, you’ll find that using data-driven decision making in order to drive the changes on your website results in some significant improvements to your bottom line!

Simple On-page SEO Tips

Published by in SEO on March 10th, 2014

seo_go2Markets

Using Search Engine Optimization (SEO)  to build site traffic is one of the most cost-effective Internet marketing tactics available.  Its defined as is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. To help you, Google’s even created a starter guide that describes some techniques you can use to make your site rank better.

Webmasters modifying a site helps search engines value and reward sites for constantly-changing content. And don’t forget to keep track of your analytics – if you notice something isn’t working the way you expected, you can always change it back!

Here are some good changes to start with:

Meta tags

The descriptions entered into meta tags are not worth a lot in most search engine algorithms, but the meta text is still often displayed under the page title in the search engine results. Write your meta tags to include some keywords without being hard-to-read. Also make sure the text is informative, engaging, and representative of the content on your page, to encourage people to click and stay.

Alt text

When adding pictures to your blog post, try to find original pictures that are meaningful, not just pretty. Then add very descriptive alt text to the pictures, as well as descriptive file names. This can help your pictures be ranked higher in image searches, where it is often easier to rank for a high-quality term.

Alt text is also useful outside of search engines, as people with screen readers or other specialty devices cannot view or access the images, but can find the text.

Subheadings

Search engines give more weight to terms appearing in header tags within your text. Make sure your subheadings are literal and descriptive, and format them using Header 1, 2, and 3 tags instead of just making them bold. Remember that you can use CSS to format header tags to look however you want, but they still communicate importance to search engines no matter how they look.

Links

Don’t forget to include a few high-quality links in your body text. You can link to relevant posts internally, and you can also link to other great sites. It’s good to affiliate yourself with similar sites by linking to them.

Linking to other sites can also be a good link-building strategy as your blog begins to attract more visitors. Often, site owners will look into the major sources of their traffic, especially if they see a traffic spike, which will help your blog get their attention.

Hummingbird, A Smarter Search

google_HummingbirdWith all the intelligence behind Caffeine, Panda and Penguin that Google launched years ago, it was a matter of time when the developers would introduce a refined search algorithm. They call this “hummingbird” a smart search algorithm that provides direct results.

According to Google, “Conversational search” is one of the biggest changes in its new algorithm. Here is an example to better describe “hummingbirds” search:

“What’s the closest place to buy an iPhone 5s near my home?” A traditional search engine might focus on finding matches for words — finding a page that says “buy” and “iPhone 5s,” for example.

Hummingbird focuses on the meaning behind the search. It understands the actual location of your home, if you’ve shared that with Google. It even understands that “place” means you want a brick-and-mortar store. It might get that “iPhone 5s” is a particular type of electronic device carried by certain stores. Knowing all these meanings may help Google go beyond just finding pages with matching words.

In particular, Google states that Hummingbird pays more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query is taken into account, rather than particular words..

One key update Google made was the ability to incorporate speech technology in searches. This change has been emphasized by the increasing popularity of voice searches in smartphones. Here is a screen image of what the new search in Google looks like.

 

New Tab

 

 

Another example is the knowledge graph –

The image below shows how a natural language search benefits from the ability to pull real-time answers to queries that understand the context of the query.

Note that the Knowledge Graph has accepted some forms of conversational queries for a while, but a big part of Hummingbird was about expanding this capability

 

pomegranate vs cranberry juice - Google Search

 

As search engine query intelligence improves – Google is prepared for a future where its users interact with it constantly, quickly, and verbally. By making its search engine better at understanding people, Google is paving the way for the future.

Understanding the difference between a CMS and an online Sitebuilder

siteStarting a business online, or creating a website inevitably means choosing between a CMS (Content Management System) or a website builder. Before you choose a Web solution for your business, it’s important to understand exactly what you need.

If you plan to create an online store then you will need ecommerce capabilities and while both a CMS and a sitebuilder offer this solution, one can choose a sitebuilder as it offers all ecommerce functionality by selecting options by turning them on/off within your admin panel and as easy as uploading your products that you’d like to sell online.

A lot of sitebuilder vendors offer to host your business site and provide ecommerce solutions such as customizable business templates and online stores with credit card and other payment functionality. Here is a list of a few vendors that offer this service – Homestead Websites, GoDaddy, Bigcommerce, Webs, etc

I recently read an article on Yahoo that reviewed Homestead’s Sitebuilder and this is what they had to say –

“Impressive sitebuilder that allows you to build and host professional-quality web pages for your company without having to learn any complicated design skills”

Homestead has maintained a strong presence in the business website community by offering a great value for the price they charge. Be sure to check them out!

Now if you are the kind of person who likes a bit of challenge or prefer to use a developer to build your site, you or they would most likely use a CMS to build your site. There are many content management builders one can choose from; however, for the purpose of this article we will evaluate the most common ones that were reviewed by http://sourceforge.net/  –

  1. WordPress – With more options than you can shake a stick at, WordPress has become the de facto CMS for thousands of businesses and blogs. Though most people see WordPress as a blog builder, it is so much more than that. The secrets to WordPress are the design themes and plugins. (Plugins are how you get things like video, images, content, contact forms, etc. on your pages.) At last count there were over 10,000 plugins and over 1,000 themes available on WordPress, most either free or very low cost. This doesn’t include the thousands and thousands of premium themes and plugins available on other Websites.

 

  1. Drupal – Drupal is another free software package that allows a small business to easily publish, manage, and organize a wide variety of content on a Website. Hundreds of thousands of people and organizations are using Drupal today and though the learning curve may be a little steeper than WordPress, its features are deep.

 

  1. Joomla – Joomla is an award-winning, open-source CMS, which enables you to build Websites and powerful online applications. Many aspects, including its ease-of-use and extensibility, have made Joomla one of the most popular Website creators available.

B2B Content Marketing

contentAccording to the CMI group, Content marketing is a technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving a customer action. Attracting prospects to engage in technology and solutions you offer is usually done through a variety of mediums such as syndicating content, social media, webinars, etc.

There is clear correlation between what content drives business. Content builds awareness in products and services, thus driving interested prospects in downloading your assets and inquiring.

Companies should also have a personal commitment to both content creation and management. According to Joaan Pan at Mashable, more than half 86% of companies rely on internal talent for content creation with some external support, and 14% outsource most work to freelancers for content.

According to the Roper Public Affairs, 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. 70% say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company, while 60% say that company content helps them make better product decisions.

Companies are now inclined to create content that people want to read; around 60% plan to spend their marketing budget on content creation over the next 12 months. Online syndication companies like NetLine, IDG, TechTarget, Techprohub etc will be a popular avenue for technology companies to syndicate their white papers for a nominal CPL thus creating demand and awareness for their products and services.

Affiliate Marketing Defined

Affiliate Marketing is a mechanism of making money online where a publisher is rewarded for helping a business promote their product and/ or services. A publisher can be an individual that has a site (example this site where I post blogs) and allows advertising banners or text links be posted while I would receive a commission based on visitors clicking the banners or links.

This revenue sharing plan has grown since its inception and publishers have been rewarded a commission from conversions when a customer clicks the affiliate link and performs the desired action, such as make a purchase or opt-in for downloads or newsletters on the advertiser’s site. Advertisers invest in affiliate programs for lead generations and converting prospects into customers.


How does this really work

According to Maria Snyder, conversions are tracked when a publisher uses a link with a code provided by the advertiser. This code is embedded into a banner or link that enables the advertiser to track where conversions come from (usually by cookies). Other times an advertiser might give a publisher a ‘coupon code’ for their readers to use that helps to track conversions.

Different advertisers offer different types of affiliate programs. If you join a search engine affiliate program you will likely be placing text links or banners and get a commission through a pay-per-click fee. E-mail list affiliates promote e-mail newsletters and are usually paid when a person joins the advertised opt-in-email list. Being an affiliate of any merchant usually means you are paid a commission per sale on the advertiser’s website. Generally speaking, pay-per-click affiliate programs pay the least amount, as affiliates are often paid per thousands clicks (CPC)

 

In conclusion

Knowing what ads to place and what revenue your website generates isn’t rocket science. Once you join an affiliate program you should be able to choose products or banners you want to include on your site. Advertisers will send you a code this way you can insert on specific web page or throughout your website. This changes, however, when you select an ad revenue partnership, such as Google AdSense, for example where you have little or no control over the advertisement displayed. In joining the affiliate program, you will agree to their terms of service, called an affiliate agreement, which will tell you what requirements you must meet and how clicks are tracked.

Inbound Marketing versus Outbound Marketing

A marketers’ objective is to create demand for products and services. Demand is created by implementing several strategies; here we are about to discuss the most common ones –

Inbound Marketing – This type of marketing is creatively drawing customers to your site or landing page. The concept uses opt-in email, eBooks, whitepapers, social media and SEO strategies to make your business stand out online and drive potential customers to your website. This is referred as “permission marketing” or “pull marketing”.

Advantages of inbound marketing

Inbound marketing draws consumers by enabling your business to be easily found via a search engine, social networking, and/or blog post. Additionally it aims to position you as a go-to resource that provides information to your audience and gauging your prospects interest.

Inbound marketing is not expensive.

Disadvantages of inbound marketing

Inbound marketing relies on producing good content, making sure it is visible, and having effective presence on the internet so that it can found by prospects.

Outbound Marketing – A traditional approach that is focused on pushing your message in front of an ideal customer. In the past marketing was straightforward and much less interactive. Televisions commercials, direct mailings, billboards and radio spots are typically examples of outbound marketing. The logic behind outbound marketing is simple; hit the target with enough frequency and they will eventually take your desired action.

Advantages of outbound marketing

Outbound marketing provides full control over the message: what is communicated, how it is communicated, and when it is heard, seen or read.

Disadvantages of outbound marketing

Its referred as interruption marketing for a reason! The receiver receives the message whether he or she wishes to or not, they are getting it anyways regardless of their desire to receive it

The objective of outbound marketing aims to reach a wide range of audience by means of reiteration: This is expensive.

According to Hubspot, B2B marketers offer their audiences useful information and tools to attract people to their site, thus making inbound marketing far more beneficial. The graph below clearly shows how marketing dollars are being spent to attract prospects.

Source: Hubspot, The 2012 State of Inbound Marketing

Which is better for small and medium businesses? And why?

A growing trend among marketing experts is to shift the attention from outbound marketing to inbound marketing for the following reasons:

Outbound marketing has taught us that customers filter out advertisements i.e. switch channels during commercials, delete spam email or discard direct mail without opening it.

Inbound marketing interrupts no one! Your business, products and services come up in the search engine results i.e. Google, Yahoo, Bing, or are posted by a friends on a social networking site i.e. Facebook, Twitter, or via a blog site. Its less intrusive and liked by customers since it requires gaining their permission advancing to the next step in the purchasing process i.e. a permission to send them an email newsletters, a white paper, an eBook, or a catalog.

Statistically inbound marketing maintains a low-cost advantage when compared to outbound marketing, providing efficient and affordable ways for small and medium business’ to acquire new leads.

Understanding Lead Aggregation

What‘s a Lead Aggregation System

A lead aggregation system is an infrastructure or framework that helps you generate sales ready leads. If you’re doing lead generation online it’s usually catered around a website. Your website is where you deliver content that engage visitors and eventually converts them into an interested party, by allowing them to identify themselves without feeling pressured by a sales team.

This happens when somebody requests something that interests them, usually an informative guide a direct request for a proposal or they register for an event and exchange certain personal details for access to the content. Not all of these requests though are sales ready so your challenge is also how you will nurture those interested individuals until they are ready to buy.

None of this can begin though unless you have traffic to your website and more importantly qualified traffic that is actually looking for products or services that you are representing.

Get Targeted Visitors To Your Lead Aggregation System

Your lead aggregation system can deliver promising results if you can drive visitors  to your site that are actually looking for the products and services you are representing.

One option is to use paid traffic generation which breaks down into 3 main categories;

  • Pay per click – the most well known form of advertising which is typically seen in search engine results at the top and right hand side of their search results pages, as small adverts that relate to a searchers query. Advertisers only pay when a browser clicks on their ad. They can also be displayed in other content.
  • Pay per action – this is similar to lead aggregation in that an advertiser only pays when somebody completes an action like filling in a form or completing a survey in which certain personal details are given or they download and install a piece of software.
  • Pay per view – in the early days of the internet this was very similar to traditional adverts that run in magazines, where an ad or banner was placed on pages of other websites. It’s now evolved allowing adverts to be displayed or triggered to browsing visitors no matter what they are doing online as long as the ad is relevant to the browsers activity. You pay every time your advert gets displayed to web users that see it no matter if they click on it or buy.

Getting your website to rank well for relevant keywords takes both time and effort which is a direct cost to your business. If you outsource this work, costs to your business will be higher, however results should be equally higher and free from the burden so that you can focus on other core activities.

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