Browsing "internet strategy"
Of all the verbage thrown around when working with online marketing, a term that is often used as a negative, would have to be bounce rate. Used usually as “The bounce rate of your site/page/products is why you don’t have conversions” It’s seen as a black spot on a site, and needs to be handled as soon as possible. Bounce rate can also be used as a metric for growth as well how ever, if your SEO expert is on the ball, they’ll understand how to analyse and adjust your pages to change that rate.
A definition via Wikipedia:
Bounce rate (sometimes confused with exit rate) is a term used in web site traffic analysis. It essentially represents the percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site.
A visitor can bounce by:
Clicking on a link to a page on a different web site
Closing an open window or tab
Typing a new URL
Clicking the “Back” button to leave the site
Using the above list, you can begin to personally gauge where your pages may be going awry with a high bounce rate. Do you include links to external sites? If you do, are those sites also yours? Do you have loud music/sounds or flashy videos on your site which may startle people and annoy them to closing your page? Is there nothing eye catching on the page to compell visitors to stay on your site? Session timeouts are generally gauged in the 30 minute range, and if a visitor hasn’t purchased your product, or visited other pages on your site within that time frame, then you need to begin, by looking at your content.
Just as a rule of thumb, remember that your SEO can bring you visitors, it’s up to you to convert those visitors to customers and/or clients.
It’s not an unsual method of finding a service or product, you ask your friends and family for their opinions. It helps you form your own preliminary opinion, and with a few questions in mind you go for it. The trend however is shifting with the realization that word of mouth, has been changing more into world of mouth.
In a new Cone Inc. report indicates that consumers don’t take word of mouth as gospel when making their decisions. Eighty-one percent of respondents agreed with the statement,
“After getting a recommendation about a product or service I may want to purchase, I go online to do additional research about that product or service before deciding whether to purchase it.”
One of the surprising finds, was the disproval of the thought that bad news travels faster than good news. Online, the sway power of good reviews and news of a product or service was proven more potent than bad news and reviews. Only 68 percent of respondants admitted to changing their minds based on bad reviews, where as 80 percent agreed, positive reviews found online solidified their decisions of a recommended product or service.
These numbers in mind, it’s worth noting that while search engine optimization and search engine marketing are incredibly important to your business, it’s just as important to focus some of your attention to the social interaction of your client base. Whether it’s having a submitted question and answer form, a Twitter feed where client concerns can be addressed, or a Facebook page and wall, it’s worth the time to put in direct client interaction. Face time with your customers is still paramount in the digital world, and as the numbers from the Cone Inc. report shows, having a positive image online will help you immensely.
Social networking is the new kid on the internet block, with Facebook being the most obvious example of it’s popularity, it won’t be going anywhere soon. Full of games, groups, and social calendars, employers and businesses often block the websites access as it erodes their employees productivity. Users often get spam wall postings from friends who play the games like Mafia Wars or Farmville, and a general malcontent seems to be evident about such, until people are shown how to block the messages.
But is it all bad? A recent survey by Pew and Elon found that:
85% of nearly a thousand techies agreed, the social benefits of Facebook, Twitter, etc, will outweigh the negatives over the coming decade. E-mail, instant messaging, social networking, and similar Web services offer simple ways to forge and rediscover social ties that can make a difference in people’s lives.
So all the spam, time lost, and invites from long lost relatives, being sociable on the internet isn’t a bad thing. The larger agreement between the panel was that the social interaction created by the internet, and the services available, has enriched their life currently, and can be seen to help encourage this growth. It may sound like it’s a too good to be true scenario, but if you begin as a business, to think of it only in cost investment first; all of the social networks are free to join and use. Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Google Buzz and apps, all quick to join, setup, and share your information with those you invite to share with.
Of course there’s the downside mentioned earlier. Time wasted on sites, not to mention the stigma of lost face to face interaction, and the recent privacy concerns of some sites. But Pew and Elon didn’t select their panel from random passing people from the public. They used the social services to reach their findings. E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs were all tapped for their answers and opinions. Clay Shirky, Esther Dyson, Nicholas Carr, Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark were only a few of the people who provided their feedback.
Newmark: “The Net is about people connecting online, for commerce, politics, and personally, and we already see that enhances real-life relationships. Location-based social networking, in particular, will be a big part of our lives.“
As large as the world is, as diverse as the population seems. The more people discover about themselves, the more they wish to build, and form relationships around themselves locally. Local social media networking looks to be the way forward.
There’s a kaleidoscope of steps, styles, methods and opinions about the right way to implement search engine optimization (SEO) for your site. But, there are a few points which are generally accepted. Points such as:
- Quality content is extremely important
- Working actively to accrue quality links and backlinks is also paramount
- Apply K.I.S.S. to your site
One of the most overlooked steps, which should be mentioned more often is having an accurate, up to date sitemap for your website. You can think of a sitemap as the formal written index of your web pages. Up until recently, multiple sitemaps were needed if you desired to have all of your content listed easily. Be it images, text, videos, your geo location, and a news section. An individual sitemap for each was required to speed up the indexing process of those assets. Google introduced the XML sitemap 5 years ago, and have just recently changed the game a little.
Instead of multiple sitemaps, webmasters can now submit one XML sitemap to include all of your websites features. From Google:
With the increasing number of specialized formats, we’d like to make it easier for you by supporting Sitemaps that can include multiple content types in the same file.
<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<video:title>Grilling tofu for summer</video:title>
The idea of the inclusion for multiple content types within one sitemap was to streamline the entire process for webmasters and their clients.
Breaking ground to make a new flower garden, you can get some unpleasant issues from time to time. Grass creeping into your garden, weeds, bugs, animals rooting around, all matters which just need to be handled as you tend to your garden. The majority of the issues can be taken care of with simple due diligence, but one problem in particular, weeds, can pose additional risk to those who don’t know what they’re looking for.
Weeds can look deceptively similar to flowers which you have planted in your garden, blending in with your desired product, choking them out and hiding their true worth. Only by taking the time, being fully aware of what you have, and what you need to remove from your field of view, can you seperate the weeds, and appreciate your hard earned effort.
Flower gardens and SEO? What do they have in common? Nothing. Neither do house hold do it yourself repairs have with optimization, baking, painting, or anything else for that matter (but all of the aformentioned sites, I have read blogs posted by them on the topic of SEO); search engine optimization is relevant to search engine optimization.
So why the analogy? Well, since Freshtraffic has opened up in Winnipeg, there were only one or two other businesses in town offering services which barely begin to resemble SEO services for clients. The realm of search engine optimization, was firmly in the hands of the Freshtraffic team; yet here we are, 2 years later and there are dozens of companies offering SEO services in Winnipeg. Strange how Fresh breaks new ground in Winnipeg, and all of a sudden there’s a wealth of “experts” in the field in town.
Take some time, do your due diligence when taking your companies first steps into having your website optimized. It would be a shame to have all the work of building your businesses website all for nothing, by not having the best work for you.
There are millions upon millions of pages on what to do, what not to do, how best to do it, and everything in between. There are articles about paid results, organic results, how their way is the best way, or that they know the key ingredient in order to make you list on page 1, every day of the week.
Why should you be concerned? Why do you, as a businessman, need to care about search engine optimization? Lets look at some very basic facts about business in the 21st century.
In the late 90s, the internet was making it’s way into homes all over the world. It was the era of the dot.com business model, and it set in motion some of our, now, day to day uses. From the explosive exchange of the bubble, and the beginning of the new milennium, a dramatic shift in business occured. The world, had begun it’s shift into the digital plane. Google didn’t create the internet, it didn’t organize it (in the purest form of the word), nor did Microsoft, Yahoo, or any other search engine out there. All they did, was assign a system of checks and balances in order to create a semblance of order. The web will always be a mass of information, random pages, it is the digital manifestation of the chaos which comes with allowing everyone a voice.
There were a few models of trying to assign some order, AOL, Ask Jeeves, Google (in it’s infancy), etc all have the same basic premise in mind; a user friendly way to find your interests amidst the storm.
Fast forward to today, and the marketing model has changed drastically from even 10 years ago. Traditional media advertising, radio, newspapers, mail, isn’t nearly as effective as it once was, while search engine optimization, social media marketing, pay per click advertising, has replaced them in effectiveness, and in market penetration. There are really only 2 search engines now worth mentioning, Google and Bing. And, I’ll just let the graphic below answer any questions you may have in regards as to who has clear dominion.
So as a business person, you have a choice. Stick with struggling traditional media advertising and live off of the breadcrumbs which trickle in. Or, step into the web, with a presence, authority, and a page ready, willing, and able to serve your customers and visitors and thrive on the fruits of your labor. The team at Freshtraffic, has been leading the way online in the days before the bubble. With our help, you will be heard.
In continuation from yesterdays post about prepping for the new year, and being ready to take the bull by the horns online, below you’ll find a couple of tips to be aware of in regards to getting ready. An insight or two, as well as some advice to bear in mind as your advertising year starts anew.
An easily forgotten fact, is that web crawlers from the search engines treat each individual page of a website as it’s own entity. This means that rather than regarding the optimization of your website as a whole, it can be more productive to think of it as the optimization of each page. Using this approach is much more involved and meticulous care needs to be taken, but, once all of your pages have been optimized, your entire site will be search engine friendly, and loaded with relevant content.
An important SEO fact every business owner should know is that true, organic SEO, requires a multitude techniques, and time for those techniques to work if an SEO campaign is really going to be successful. Using a single SEO method may help improve your results a little; but if you want your business to be ranked highly by the search engines for a long time and to increase the amount of traffic that visits your site then proper identification and implementation of acceptable SEO techniques will be required. It is also important to note, that rankings can, and do, fluctuate day to day within the search results page. It’s impossible to guarantee the number 1 spot in the results, but when Fresh works your site, with our proven organic optimization techniques, you will climb the results in ranking.
The third basic fact in search engine optimization that you should always have in mind, is that SEO is a continuous process. It does not stop, because there’s always another website, another business, and/or another competitor knocking on your door online; trying to take your place. Once high rankings have been achieved through an efficiently run SEO campaign, if this optimization is suddenly halted then it is likely that the rankings achieved will drop too. You could liken the effect much the same as watering a flower garden properly and with care, to suddenly stopping. All of your efforts in raising that product, will be for nothing. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are constantly changing and developing their technology and new techniques to help be ranked are also constantly being developed. If you want to remain on top, then you must remain updated on all developments and make the necessary changes to your SEO campaign.
At Freshtraffic, we’re constantly monitoring our clients sites, and if a slip in ratings is found consistently, and not a momentary lapse in a reindexing, we will retool the site to return to, and retain the previously held high ranking.
As a business owner, website owner, whether you’ve been online for a decade or are only stepping into the world wide market place; there’s an ever present question: to dot com or not to dot com? Lets take a look at some of the differences.
1. Clear geo-targeted name
To own a local domains, you actually need to go and buy them and register with a local authority. Because of this, local domains have always represented the best controlled and strictest identifier of a specific geography. There are exceptions of course, but these mostly have to do with certain domains, such as .tv (the tiny island state of Tuvalu) having found that their particular geography had a gold mine domain name it could use to generate revenue.
In other words, if the site was a French site, operating under a .fr domain, within hours of a search engine crawl, the site would show up in the area called “Pages de France” or pages from France—even if the site was actually hosted in the US.
2. Solid site architecture
The argument is often put forward that it’s too expensive to switch an existing dot com website with zillions of pages over to the relevant local domains its owners wish to target. It can, of course, be expensive to switch the domain used and this needs to be done with great care. However, when the cost of making the change is calculated, business will tend to find less financial value to the ongoing cost of SEO to compensate for not having the relevant local domain. This could mean additional local hosting costs or even substantial link building to overcome the disadvantages of the dot com. However, every businessman should have “going local” as an ultimate part of their long term plan.
3. People are inclined buy locally
Some SEOs may not see conversion factors as the most important in recommending which steps a client should take. Some users however, read URLs in the search engine results and that it can have a direct impact on how many of them click on links. Say you’re looking for a “second hand car” and you live in Canada. If you know nothing else about a website, which is most likely to be the most compelling: “secondhandcar.com” or “secondhandcar.ca?”
Even beyond the search results page, the local domain vs dot com plays in the mind of the user. “If this is a .ca and I live in Winnipeg, then they’re more likely to deliver” is a reasonable conclusion for most folks to draw.
It’s important to understand that there are no “direct” SEO benefits to hosting on a dedicated server. In other words, search engine spiders don’t check if your website is hosted on a dedicated server in order to give boosts or penalties based on what they find out.
There are quite a few indirect SEO benefits associated with dedicated servers though. First of all, you don’t have to worry about your website being in a “bad neighborhood”. The main problem with shared hosting is that a lot of websites, sometimes even thousands, end up being hosted on the same server/IP.
Unfortunately for the people who only employ legitimate approaches to search engine optimization, not everyone is willing to play fair. There are webmasters who are always on the lookout for the fast way to success and it’s safe to assume that out of hundreds or thousands of websites hosted on a certain server, the chances are that at least a handful may be “problematic” from that perspective. In other words, even if you do everything right, there’s a chance that you’ll have to pay for other people’s mistakes.
There’s also the issue of page loading and page refresh speed which needs to be taken into consideration. Algorithms are constantly changing, and some search engines take page load times into consideration; at least to a certain degree. It makes perfect sense if you stop for a moment and think about what search engines are meant to do. Search engines all want to display the best possible websites when someone searches for a certain term and fast page load times are important when it comes to the experience of your visitors. Of course, there are other factors which also are taken into consideration and most of them have more weight than page load times. But still, having an edge, however insignificant it may seem, is always a good thing, especially if you’re targeting terms which are extremely competitive.
But, the most important thing that dedicated servers put on the table is complete control. It’s your server and you can use it as you please. This means that you have more control over the software that you’re using and that you can tweak absolutely everything.
It’s the largest, most widely used search engine out there, you know it well, as it’s basically everywhere. Google. At this point in time, the holy grail for businesses either already existing online, or thinking of it, there is an incredible laundry list of items, to do, not to do, and in between all the white and black exists the grey.
I’m going to talk, just very briefly, about some of the black, or the methods which will (most likely) end up with your site BANNED FROM GOOGLE!
Redirecting to another domain:
Redirecting to another domain is not a 100% guarantee that you’ll be banned from search engines. But it is a very common spammer trick used in conjunction with doorway pages and cloaking. If you set up a redirect that goes to a new domain, you need to write it as a 301 redirect. This tells Googlebot that the redirect is permanent, and they should change the listing to the new domain.
Invisible or Single Pixel Images:
Invisible images are images that are 1×1 pixels in size and cannot be seen by the naked eye on a Web page. This is similar to hiding text or displaying different content to search engines than to your customers. And don’t assume that search engines can’t read CSS or HTML tags that resize full-sized images. If you do this to optimize your pages, your site will be banned.
Hidden or Invisible Text:
Hiding text by making it the same color as the background color may fool your customers, but it won’t fool search engines. Another variation of this is where you make the font size so small that it’s unreadable by the naked eye. Text that is hidden from your readers but visible to search engines is considered spam and will get your site banned.
It can be very tempting to use cloaking, but while it might give you better results at first, search engines don’t like it. Search engines want to provide a resource of information that is real, not something that has been doctored to give artificial results. This is often called cloaking because it is an effort to hide, or cloak what your site delivers in something that might be seen as more palatable to search engines.
These are some of the basic black hat SEO techniques out there, all are easily noticed even by a person browsing the net, now that you know what to look for. Ideally of course, these factors are paramount to keeping in mind when choosing your SEO expert.