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Came across this great infographic by Aaron Wall at SEOBook, what I found most interesting was the deluded people mentioned, here at Fresh Traffic we have been coming across people like this from day one of the internet. The truth of the matter is that most people who say or mention this are on the list, why? simple they cannot do it.
Click to enlarge to pdf version
It’s crunch time for budgets, we’re coming to a point where you need to decide: do we spend more and hope for big returns over the holidays? Or do we cut back and hope we can carry through to a new year? It’s not a question anyone can really answer for you, as everyones situation is unique, I would however, like to make a case for our niche – online branding, or internet marketing if you prefer.
Where online is concerned, consistency matters most, in your content, your presentation of yourself, of how you manage your online image and branding. And while it’s true for almost all facets of life, it’s even more apparent where your online spending is concerned; you get what you pay for. If you pay for shoddy service and workmanship, that’s exactly what you’ll receive. Where online and the search engines are concerned though, you will likely end up being penalized, and at worst, banned from the results pages until you clean up your site and links. Now some people try and sell that organic optimization only takes a one time shot and is a very low cost to work ratio, when in fact it’s pretty much the exact opposite that’s true.
As an example, if you try and save some money where your online marketing is concerned and decide to out source to one of the cheap advertisers out there, odds are very high that you’re going to end up with poor, if not irrelevant back links, and this will get your site snagged up in the newest algorithm addition – Penguin. The addition of Penguin into the algorithm means that the link spammers of the past, are very quickly finding themselves with burned urls – aka websites which have become useless to link to, or with. It takes a great deal of time to work out a relevant, and acceptable linking strategy for any companies website, and to skimp on this portion of your marketing will be one of the nails in your websites coffin.
Often times when you’re having your website built for you, or if you’re having it redesigned, you’ll find that web developers can run into the hundreds and thousands of dollars. If you have a complex site, with a shopping cart, perhaps streaming videos and audio with a user login system, you’ll be possibly even looking into the tens of thousands in cost. Thinking about saving money on your website and it’s construction? Rethink that cost saving measure, as cutting costs from the way your site functions, looks and performs can not only get you flagged by the search engines as having errors, but it can leave your site poorly secured and the possibility of being hijacked increases greatly. And if your website becomes hijacked by a malicious user who uses it to spam (best case scenario), or completely trash your website and use it to spread malware (black listed from the SERPs) not only will the search engines not trust you, your end users and customers will begin to distrust as well.
This was only two, of the plethora of issues which can sink your website should you choose to skimp on your online budget, and while being removed from the SERPs is a terrible possibility, the interaction lost with your current and possible customers should be seen as the real loss. Lost traffic due to reduced resources leads to lost conversion rates over all, which is just a never ending cycle of less and less.
If you’ve felt a little over run in the last little while by the Google zoo which has been running over the index, it’s a tad sorry to report but we’re not quite out of the wild yet.
Google has mentioned that while the Penguin algorithm shift is targeted at removing/reducing the spam sites in the results, they have also let it be known that it’s still actively being adjusted and worked on. The Penguin update is acting as an adjustment (their word) to the results in removing the backlink value that spammy sites could pass on to those looking at making a quick buck or shift in their positioning. As for Panda, that was the content upgrade in case you’ve forgotten, it is still tuned for digging out poor content on sites and pages. And although the updates are coming more consistently with them being automated, the shock, and surprise that website owners were initially experiencing from positioning drops, have lessened.
Panda is a regular monthly addition now to the search index, and Penguin is being incorporated in much the same way, however it still has a ways to go. With the addition soon to your webmaster tools to handle unnatural links pointing to your website, there will undoubtedly still be some site owners experiencing a shift in rankings if being inattentive with their site. Over time however, it will be a part of the regular indexing, and the results will be cleaner for it.
Matt Cutts on the growth needed of Penguin:
If you remember, in the early days of Panda, it took several months for us to iterate on the algorithm, and the Panda impact tended to be somewhat larger (e.g. the April 2011 update incorporated new signals like sites that users block). Later on, the Panda updates had less impact over time as we stabilized the signals/algorithm and Panda moved closer to near-monthly updates. Likewise, we’re still in the early stages of Penguin where the engineers are incorporating new signals and iterating to improve the algorithm. Because of that, expect that the next few Penguin updates will take longer, incorporate additional signals, and as a result will have more noticeable impact.
The real trick about being noticed online, isn’t about having a Facebook account, or even about having a top of the line website built for you. Just like you can think of Coke and you instantly conjure up and image of a soda, branding is where you will make your business fly.
Online branding isn’t just for multi-billion dollar companies with worldwide distribution, when it’s done right, you can leverage it locally to your advantage. All you need is the time and the willingness to forge an image for yourself, and your business both online and offline. When you’re working to create an image for your business, you need to be clear as to what you want that message to be. Just like thinking of Coke or Pepsi makes you think of a soda, you need to be mindful of what imagery your campaign will inspire. Once you have that image in mind, it’s time to push ahead with becoming your vision. Search engine optimization is merely a tool you can leverage when you’re working on your brand. It is a very powerful tool, and when you manage it correctly it can make your presence known quickly and clearly online.
So once you’re ready to make your move and become more than just another store front, the online branding experts are here and ready to help. With our help, your desire to rise to the top, and some concerted effort we can make you the cream of the crop.
When you’re working on your online branding campaign, a portion of your time is well spent on working on your pay per click offering. It’s like writing ad copy for a commercial, as adwords are the results which you see often on the top of the organic results, or to the left of the page. Typically marked as ‘Sponsored Links’ so as not to confuse those who are looking for the organic, or natural listings in the center of the page.
The pay per click model of search listing and advertising has been gaining a growing number of clicks, especially with searchers actively seeking to purchase an item. While working hard to improve on page and off page otpimization to rank organically is great for the long term gains, you can experience short term growth with adwords (PPC) advertising.
Once you’re setup with your adwords account, you’ll begin to get emails from Google offering to assist you with your account. Sometimes they offer simple suggestions as to keyword optimization or increasing your daily budget, and sometimes straight up offer a helping hand at improving traffic. On the surface at the moment, it seems that the helping hand that can be offered is worth it, with increased traffic and lower over all cost. And if that were all that were important with the PPC model that would be great, but the number one metric of measurement still hasn’t been determined – conversion rate.
It’s a great point of pride to say that your website receives 1000 visitors per hour (example only), and that your adwords cost to drive those visitors is only a few cents. But if you’re only able to effectively complete your goal – sign up for a newsletter or email, purchase a product etc, a few times out of those thousand then you’re really not doing as well as it looks initially. Your conversion rate is the key metric that matters the most in a pay per click campaign, and while it seems that letting the Adwords associates do the heavy lifting for you is great on the surface, they really only serve the same purpose as a search engine optimization expert. Driving traffic is key to visibility online, but it’s up to you and your website to convert the visitor.
It’s simply another method which you can use to become a more trusted business online, but Googles AdWords advertisements are sometimes met with ire. With complaints of search privacy and too many advertisements, Google is about to roll out a feature which should help clean up your browsing in the near future.
The newest feature to begin rolling out, is one which directly, and indirectly affects your browsing. Ads which are displayed on Youtube have had a small [x] in the top corner which allows you to close the ad so you can continue watching your chosen video uninterrupted. This muting feature, is currently now on its way to all ads served on the AdWords display network. Display ads are visually driven ads, often pictures or a short gif, as opposed to the purely text ads you often find attached to search results on the Google results page. By allowing users to be able to mute ads, it’s allowing a few things. You’re telling the search engines that you’re not interested in seeing ads from that ad group any longer, and a link to an Ad Preferences page where you can tell Google the types of ads you don’t want to see. By using the ads preferences page you can tell Google exactly which types of ads you don’t mind seeing occasionaly on your browsing adventures, and which types you explicitly don’t want to see.
With the idea of being able to mute display ads, you’re also saving advertisers money, as they don’t have to pay for ads which are served to individuals who aren’t interested in them, and you don’t have to continually filter out advertisements in an ad group you don’t want to see. All in all it’s a solid step forward for both parties online, the advertisers and the consumers.
The web is a huge place, full of anything you can think of at any given time, because chances are if you can think of it, someone has made a website or web page for it somewhere. It could be as common as people writing about the latest movie or song, or it could be as low key as a new local band for instance, but if you were to hit up a search engine you will almost always find at least a webpage about it.
And with all of the billions and billions of web page and websites out there, it creates a market, and with any market comes the marketers. Search engine optimization, adwords, white hat, black hat, when you start reading about the industry you will find yourself running into terms which become more and more unfamiliar as you go. It’s no wonder that when you start having the conversation with a prospective, or sometimes even existing client, that the question comes up “Do you know how Google/Bing/Yahoo works? Can you promise me number 1?” Now the polite, short answer to that question is “No” and the long version is “No, we can’t promise number 1″. And then the inevitable happens, they utter the beginning of the worst phrase you can hear as an SEO “But I read/heard/was told that..”
Here’s the short reason why we can’t guarantee you number 1 in search for your business: the web and the search algorithms are always changing. When Sergei and Larry initially created the Google algorithm to run around and start indexing the web, it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear they never imagined it would get so massive. It’s rumored that the algorithm that runs now has somewhere between 250 and 300 ranking factors in it as it parses your website. And some of the confusion for those on the outside of the market, is when they read an article about how someone has cracked the algorithm to always rank on the top. I apologize for being up front, but anyone who tries to tell their clients that is a conman. At this stage of the search game, with as long as the algorithms have been changing and adapting, I doubt there is any one person employed by Google or Bing, who can sit down and tell you just how it works. Because at this point, they are just too big, too complex, and take into account so many different points that it’s mind boggling.
So your best course of action, is to adhere to the KISS principle, Keep It Simple Stupid. Don’t get crazy with your site, don’t get too smart with your content and follow the best practice guidelines; and you’ll be okay.
With Google commanding somewhere around 2/3’s of the internet search market, it’s important to remember the basic steps we’ve discussed here. Simple navigation, a solid website built as simple as possible, while maintaining an aesthetic that you enjoy and solid content with which to bait and capture the bots, and your target audience.
Of these items, it’s content which can actually make or break your online presence. Your content is the meat of your website, it’s what captures the search engines attention and is what makes you relevant to your target market. If you’ve written it well, made sure that it’s relevant to the theme of your business then you’ve started yourself on the road to the top. When it does come to your content though, you need to also keep in mind the people that you want to read your information. Most visitors to a website, if they can’t find their information quickly and easily, will just as soon click that back button if they can’t find their way to the content they desire. It’s a great idea therefore, to break up the monotony of your website and have snippets of highly relevant information, stand out on your pages. Bolded text, italicized, and placed high in your pages helps deliver a message quickly and clearly to visitors to your site.
On the other hand of the spectrum, you have your entire articles placed within your pages for the audience you wanted to have continually return to your site. This is for that captivated visitor, whom you’ve already sold your business or website to. To a reader, all information is generally good information. The more they know about the product, your company and anything else that increases your credibility will help them feel secure in doing business with you instead of a competitor. Text is an important part of the decision-making process. From the homepage to categories and sub-categories to the actual product page, the reader is intensely interested in what you have to say, as it will be the determining factor in whether you get a conversion or not.
Good website marketing isn’t about building a site for any one type of visitor, it’s about building a site that speaks to as many different visitor types as possible without alienating any. You must have the right pieces in the right places in the right way. Skimmable content allows you to target all types of readers and give them even more than they want. That way, everyone has a positive experience.
When you’re looking at building a website, there are the fundamentals you need to take care of. Do you have your content ready for the site? Basically, have you written more than just a few lines of your idea, have you actually fleshed it out, to make it meaningful both to your target audience, and to your ideal theme. Once you have the words, you need to take the time to get together the visual aspect, do you have your images? Are they clear and easily display what point you’re trying to get across? Or do they clash against your written content by not clearly showing what you’re trying to convey.
Once you have those two very basic points together, you need to then consult a web designer to help bring your dream to life. And it’s at this stage, that it seems that there is a general unknown aspect to the process. It’s not enough to have an amazing idea, product, or service anymore, you also need to consider two more, somewhat major, components which will make up your online persona. The first you need to consider, is your website address, or URL. Ideally, in a perfect world you could create your address (domain name) out of a keyword or perhaps two, which is simple to remember, and relevant to your business. The odds of this happening however, get slimmer each and every day with the ability of anyone to purchase any domain name, provided it hasn’t already been scooped up.
But lets pretend that you had no problems snatching up your domain, and now you’re ready to build. This is the key point where even a little knowledge can help your cause greatly. You have your content and pictures, you’ve managed to snag the perfect domain name, now you need somewhere to park yourself. Your own little corner of the internet where you can upload everything and make it accessible to the world. You need a web host, and as simple a step as that may seem, there are some points you can cover which will make your online life immeasurably simpler. Procuring a web host isn’t an insurmountable obstacle, and if you take the time to look around you can very easily recoup the costs of having a quality host. Web hosting works very similar to SEO on the cost to quality scale. If you cheap out on picking up a host, chances are pretty good you’re going to have issues with them. It can be anything from slow website performance, to improperly configured servers. Spending a few extra dollars on a web host can net you a fully accessible, fully configurable host with unlimited bandwidth, extremely flexible architecture to build your website with, and nearly 100% uptime for your site. Nothing is more embarrassing than directing someone to your website as your primary contact point, and having to explain to them that your site performs poorly, just so you could save a couple of dollars.
Since we covered the very basics of how web developers, designers, business owners and SEOs could work together a little better yesterday, lets get into a tad more detail. Taking it a little slower, we’ll just discuss a handful of some of the terms you’re going to run into when working with a search engine optimization firm.
Once we’ve had the chance to take a good hard look at your website, one of the first few things you’ll find us talking about is about conducting keyword research. Basically all this means to you as a website owner, is we need to know what terms you’re interested in ranking with, and we’ll break down your content to see if those keywords exist in a workable combination. It’s also a step taken when we search for your current listings, and breaking down how you stack up versus your competitors. It’s a simple step, one which gets abused at times unfortunately when some believe that spamming their keyword as many times as possible is a good thing. Also tieing into your website and it’s current performance, is Page Rank. It’s actually not as huge a metric as it once was, but it’s a ranking system created by Google’s Larry Page which gives your site a number based on a number of factors. Authority of incoming links, the quality of your content and website, and this rank is passed on through out your site. It used to seem that the higher your page rank, the higher you sit in the SERPs, but Google hasn’t been as diligent in up keeping their system, with Panda and Penguin being introduced in the last couple of years.
Once we’ve determined what you want to rank for, how you stack up currently in your niche market and where to focus our efforts, you’re going to start hearing terms like geo-targeting, and click through rate a whole lot. Geo-targeting is the process of constructing your website and it’s pages, to be specifically relevant to certain areas. You can easily work in city geo-targeting into your site with adjustments to content, and you can even drill down into neighborhoods if you begin to use tools like AdWords etc. With targeting your website, you ensure that you’re working at capturing your target market, and increasing your over all click through rate. Click through rate, loosely defined, is the percentage of searchers who click on your link after performing a search. It’s a great metric to keep measurement of, as it can fairly quickly outline for you if a new campaign, or advertising strategy has had a positive or negative effect on your brand and business.