SEO 101: Google Ranking Factors for 2014

SEO is still going strong – many had predicted it to be dead over the last 18 months, notably with the advent of Social & Online Reputation and the diminishing value of links into Google’s algorithm. Truth is that 2014 still sees a major need for page and website optimisation in order to rank well. What should be your focus in 2014?

Albeit it had been said numerous times SEO is a thing of the past, it actually is not the case. Yes, websites can rank with little to no on-page optimization but if you are aiming at that sweet first ranking spot, brush off your skills and focus on what works in 2014¹: a combination of technical brilliance, incredible content, top notch usability and first class branding.

Technical brilliance:

  • Your website must load in less than three seconds. If it’s too slow, your visitors will click away. If it’s way too slow, your online visibility will suffer. Search Engines will not display your website on their first page if they know its catastrophic loading time frustrates users. Test your website loading time² from different locations and see for yourself. Slow loading times are usually triggered by too many blocking JavaScripts or large files – your web developer will be able to tackle those.
  • You need a responsive design – so your pages are perfectly visible on any support (phone, tablet). No need for a dedicated mobile website anymore (which solves potential issues of having multiple websites to update or to promote).

Incredible content:

  • Write around your business and be the expert in your industry! Bring insights, take a stance, solve problems – there are many ways to create great content online; something that will prove popular to your users and Search Engines alike. Don’t rehash last year’s data – create something new and unique that will make Google rank your website higher in the search results page.
  • Forget about individual keywords to focus on – build your content around keyword clusters. Clusters are groups of keywords around a similar topic, including synonyms. Search Engines know about synonyms and they will assess which page of your site should rank for which key phrase.

Top-notch usability:

  • Review your website and make sure it’s perfectly clear for every user what you expect from them. Don’t sit on your pages: they have a purpose – craft them around it. Test and measure, refine and start again.
  • Measure everything – using a tool like Google Analytics will allow you to gain incredible insights on how your website performs and how users interact with it. Implement A/B testing on your pages and see how they work for you.

First class branding:

  • Where should your business be listed? And where does it have to be listed? The most valuable links will come from websites that show a relevant relationship with yours. The value and importance of the page on which the incoming link is posted matters tremendously.
  • Links are important, and so is how your brand is perceived online. This will affect your visibility and your rankings. Monitor what’s being said and react – never take it personally. The sentiment around your brand is crucial to its online success – and is worthy of all your efforts

The key aspect here is value. Your website has a purpose – it has been built to convey a message, to convert users, to generate leads, and to drive brand awareness.

The following questions need to be asked when considering the Google ranking factors for 2014:

  • What is its added value?
  • How can you make sure your pages bring something to the Internet as a whole?
  • Does your website solve problems?
  • Is your brand trustable?

Optimise your website around your key strengths – this is how you will reap SEO benefits in 2014.

¹ http://visual.ly/2014-google-seo-ranking-factor-hummingbird-update
² http://www.webdesignworks.com/tips-advice/web-development-best-practice-tips/

 

Anatomy Of A Google Results Page – Part 2

Anatomy Of A Google Results Page – Part 2

Once you understand the components of a Google search results page, it is time to find out how these websites get there in the first place. Only after you have a firm understanding of the various ways in which to get a link on Google’s search page, then will you be able to formulate a fully targeted SEO strategy that is more likely to yield good results. Here is a rundown on how to make an appearance in the various components of a Google results page.

Organic listings

The traditional SEO strategy tries to get your page as high a position in Google’s organic listings as possible. Climbing up the chart of organic listings can take time, but the key to obtaining a high position on the Google results page lies in having and maintaining an excellent website with high quality content. Relevant links from reputable sources pointing to your page are key to doing well in organic listings, and ensuring the code and content of your page are optimised can go a long way towards your success.

Paid listings

Paid listings offer those with a big enough budget to create ads with Google Adwords that can then appear on pages showing relevant searches. To use this option, determine a budget and a cost per click; knowing you can usually expect a conversion rate around 5% at very best; more likely around 1%.

Local listings

Businesses based in a specific location, especially those with physical offices or places of business, will find appearing in local listings extremely helpful. You will need to create a Google+ Business page in order to have a shot at appearing in the local listings. Mention your business details on the internet as much and as consistently as you can, as the higher the online visibility of your business, the higher your chances are of appearing in the local listings.

Images

Many people underestimate the number of visitors that click through to a website from image listings. Having great, relevant images can be a huge source of traffic for certain types of sites. Take care that your images are optimised; for instance, the file name and alt tag should be chosen with care. Also ensure that images are relevant to the context of the page on which they are posted and correspond to the keywords you are hoping to rank them for.

Videos

Google does not post many videos on its results page, so only the most relevant videos will have a shot at being featured. Ensure that your videos are not pointless but instead have a relevant story to tell and are optimised for the keyword you are hoping to rank them for. Videos should ideally be posted on YouTube as videos on the site are most frequently featured on Google results pages.

News

News listings are quite time sensitive, so more often than not any links you manage to get in this section will be short-lived. If you can however provide highly relevant information on a very recent topic, the potential for a spike in traffic is quite high. Rather than offering generic sounding press releases, offer substantial news to increase your chances of appearing in the news section.

Google has expanded significantly the number of components on its results page, and there are now more ways than ever to get featured on the first page. However, it should be clear by now that many of these components work well for only certain types of websites. It is therefore crucial that you identify the components that are most relevant to you so you can optimise your online presence accordingly. Having your digital assets optimised by professionals such as seoWorks can put you head and shoulders above the competition.

 

Trends, Benchmarks And Insights – Digital Marketing In 2013

Recently, Experian Marketing Services released a very comprehensive report on just how marketers can reach today’s always on, highly engaged and demanding consumer in an integrated way across a variety of digital marketing channels including email, display advertising, mobile, search and social media.

The report contains trends, predictive benchmark data and analytical insights which are aimed to assist marketers in maximising opportunities and ROI. While much of the data is US based, it is still very relevant and topical for Australian marketers.

What kind of information can you expect to find in this report? Well, we thought we’d share a couple of insights with you below:

  • 44% of emails are opened on mobile devices
  • Personalised promotional emails had 29% higher unique open rate and 41% higher click rates than non personalised email
  • Around 1/4 of adults (aged 35-49 years) visit websites on 4+ different devices a week
  • 35% of marketers said response attribution (understanding the impact of multi channel marketing programs) was the most challenging multichannel marketing issue for their organisation.
  • The most profitable social sharing level is the first degree of separation (e.g you recommend a product or service to a friend via a link and then they buy it).
  • Australians are among the most avid users of smartphones in the world with sales exceeding those of PCs

At the conclusion of the report Experian state that “...marketers must unite their messages across those touch-points to create relevant experiences regardless of the customer’s channel or device preferences.” and to “…differentiate your business by providing excellent service and one-to-one connections — in other words, be customer obsessed.

We would highly recommend downloading a copy of the full report for yourself here, it is a really handy reference for any marketer.

If you’re looking for more information on digital marketing trends, check out our previous article Digital Marketing Trends In Australia.

Measuring The ROI Of Your SEO Campaign

Hi everyone, my name is Mike van der Heijden and I work as a Senior Business Analyst at SEO Works, an Australian based SEO services provider with offices throughout Australia.

I have been invited to be a regular contributor to Marketing.com.au on everything and anything in the wonderful world of online marketing.

Today’s article discusses the various reports/information you should be requesting from your SEO professional or potential SEO company to ensure that you’re making the right investment with the right company. As I like to say, search engine optimisation professionals shouldn’t work for you, they should work with you.

Even in this day and age there are still people (and companies) who are unsure about Search Engine Optimisation, and rightly so! SEO companies and professionals have been wrongly educating the general public on how to measure the success of a campaign. For years clients have been told that the success of a search engine optimisation campaign can be measured by traffic and rankings!

Enter The Rankings & Traffic Metrics

If you have ever engaged a Search Engine Optimisation company/professional, you undoubtedly have seen a “ranking report” and a “traffic report”. I won’t go into the details of each as the level of detail of these reports vary from company to company, but generally are an overview of traffic of your website (perhaps broken up by source e.g. PPC, Organic, Direct etc.) and the rankings of a list of keywords.

Let me ask you a question, after your investment in SEO and seeing a ranking report and/or general traffic report have you gotten the feeling that what you (or the SEO Company) were doing was increasing your bottom line? Did those rankings directly relate to your increase in traffic and more importantly, increase in revenue?

Didn’t think so! If you are serious about your business, you need to be serious about the KPIs you set for your SEO firm, you need to know what to look at and in some cases request from your search firm.

Overall Campaign Metrics

I will explain 4 overall metrics to measure your websites performance by. By no means are they simple factors to influence and in some cases SEO companies might not be solely responsible for influencing these factors, however, each of these lends elements to be improved by a solid SEO campaign.

1. Revenue

Are you tracking the amount of revenue that is created by your website? If you’re running an e-commerce website have you set up e-commerce tracking properly? If you’re a service provider are you tracking the amount of people contacting you? And have you attached a value to these conversions?

This is the number one mistake businesses make. If you are not tracking any type of conversion, talk to your SEO Company on getting this set up as soon as possible, because only then can you start measuring the money your website makes you, and in term, your SEO Company delivers you.

Ask your SEO Company what they are doing overall to drive an increase in revenue, this should align properly with your business goals and needs.

2. Conversion Rate

Simply put, your conversion rate is the total number of goal achievements divided by the number of visits to your website.

E.g. if at the end of the month you received 1,000 visits to your website, and 100 conversions/sales were made, that would mean a conversion rate of 10%.

Because a website can have multiple “goal achievements” set up you should be measuring the conversion rates for all your goals.

Ask your SEO Company for monthly updates on your conversion rates and what they are doing to improve the conversion rates on your website.

3. Leads / Sales

As discussed in the Conversion Rate section, you want to have an overall report of total leads/sales/conversions that were made on your website.

Generally these reports will show the overall statistics for conversions on your website, broken down by the source of the visits (be it direct, referral, paid or organic).

4. Cost per Acquisition

Possibly the most important metric, after having figured out all of the above, is the cost per acquisition. How much are you paying in order to attract sales/leads/conversions?

Typically, this should be as easy as taking the amount you are investing in your Search Engine Optimisation campaign and dividing that by the amount of sales/leads/conversions driven through organic search.

When you first start with your SEO Company, this should be set as a benchmark, and the company should strive to improve (read, lower the Cost per Acquisition) over time.

Measuring ROI on Keyword Clusters

Firstly, let me introduce the term “Keyword Clusters”. Keyword Clusters are, in a nutshell, keywords that relate and incorporate a main keyword within.

For example: The keyword “Sydney Hotels” would have a cluster of keywords that contain either the phrase “Sydney Hotels” or contain “Sydney” and “Hotels”.

Sydney Hotels, Sydney Luxury Hotels, Best Sydney Hotels, Hotels in Sydney etc.

The reason for measuring activity on a “cluster” is to take away focus of one particular keyword, because ranking for 1 keyword could mean ranking for endless variations of that keyword.

Clusters aren’t evident in normal keyword ranking reports and therefore you might be missing out on tracking keywords that provide you revenue rather than just search volume.

1. Sales Per Keyword Cluster

Now that we understand the meaning of a keyword cluster, it is important to find out how many sales your website is making from these keyword clusters. It could very well be that a low search volume cluster is producing more sales for you than a high volume keyword cluster (which is often the case).

Ask your SEO Company for a breakdown of keyword clusters and the amount of sales/leads/conversions generated for that keyword cluster. This will give you a good insight into what keyword clusters you (and your SEO Company) should be focusing on.

2. Conversion Rate Per Keyword Cluster

Naturally, the next step is to work out what your conversion rate is per keyword cluster. It’s one thing to see a low search volume cluster producing more sales/leads, but it is also important to know what ratio of people searching for those clusters are actually converting.

3. Cost Per Acquisition for a Keyword Cluster

Last but not least, figure out what your cost per acquisition is per keyword cluster. It could very well be that the cluster producing the most leads is also the most costly (in terms of SEO investment and time taken to rank particular keywords).

A Few Extra Tips

  1. When engaging/interviewing potential SEO companies, make sure you request them to do an audit of your current state of affairs. Give them (read only) access to your analytics in order for them to do a proper analysis of where your website currently stands.
  2. Whilst interviewing your potential candidates, ask them what they think are reasonable goals and milestones to set for your campaign and how long they will take to achieve those results. If they return with an answer anywhere near “That’s hard to say/SEO is a difficult process/We can’t be sure” I say, run for the hills.
  3. Ask for recent successes/experience with other clients in or similar to your niche, more than likely they will have worked with a client who has been in a similar situation to you.

In closing, Search Engine Optimisation isn’t the black voodoo some companies make it out to be. As long as you’re well aware of the information that is out there and the information that you can request from your SEO Company there is no longer any reason for you to be “wasting” money or getting yourself caught in endless contracts.

 

What Everybody Ought To Know About Infographics

What Everybody Ought To Know About Infographics

We all love a good infographic and their popularity is on the rise both worldwide and in Australia.

This week in order to honour the humble infographic, we decided to give it a crack ourselves. Not only were we pleasantly surprised at how easy it was, it was also a lot of fun!

We hope you enjoy ‘Infographic Mania’ which looks at the popularity of infographics and how you can make one.

Feel free to share it around to inspire others to unleash the graphic designer within!

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Marketing.com.au Infographic Mania
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Who Knew Insurance was so Expensive: Topping Google AdWords Cost-Per-Click List for 2011

So, by now, we all know what Google AdWords are, right? For those of you that have had your heads buried in the sand for the last 10 years or so, they are those little text ads that appear whenever you search for something (using Google obviously). Google makes an absolute fortune from these little text ads. To be precise, 97% ($33.3 billion) of Google’s revenue over the last twelve months was derived from AdWords. Of course, advertisers wouldn’t be using AdWords if it didn’t work, but some advertisers spend more than others.

Wordstream, a company that automates search engine optimisation, undertook research into which keyword categories attract the highest cost per click. They used their own database of keywords, over 90 days, to work out the top 10,000 most expensive English words.

Just for you, here is the list of the top 20 highest cost per click words, as discovered by Wordstream:

  1. Insurance
  2. Loans
  3. Mortgage
  4. Attorney
  5. Credit
  6. Lawyer
  7. Donate
  8. Degree
  9. Hosting
  10. Claim
  11. Conference Call
  12. Trading
  13. Software
  14. Recovery
  15. Transfer
  16. Gas/Electricity
  17. Classes
  18. Rehab
  19. Treatment
  20. Cord Blood

Topping the list, ‘insurance’ pulls in around $55 per click for Google. Not a bad little money spinner at all. The most regular search queries included ‘buy car insurance’, ‘building contents insure’ and ‘life insurance comparison quotes’. Even ‘loans’, which comes in at a close second to ‘insurance’, nets Google around $44 per click.

As you can see, the most expensive keywords are a product of society’s needs. We all seem to use the web today to search for information and assistance with topics that we are not necessarily experts in, but are a part of daily life: finance, professional services, health and education.

Marketing.com.au would like to thank Sally for sharing this interesting information with us.