The Web For Business.com Blog

Internet marketing observations, perspectives, tips and tricks for your education and enlightenment.


The Simple SEO Success Formula

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Most Valuable Real EstateIf you want to achieve your SEO dreams, my advice to you is to stop dreaming and get a grip on the reality of what SEO entails.

Top rankings in Google don't just happen. If you get them, you got them for a reason. Let's look at some of those reasons.

Valuable Content On Site

It is "common knowledge" that Google's algorithm prefers pages that have at least 300 written words. If you are in a market where there is more than one company like yours that offers the products or services you do, you need to go beyond the minimum requirements if you want to achieve top rankings. You need to offer valuable content.

I define valuable content as content which meets or exceeds the informational needs of visitors to your webpage. That will often take more than 300 words, which is absolutely fine. You don't achieve maximum results with minimum effort when it comes to SEO except in a few special situations which I'll talk about later.

Case Study: A customer of mine sells telecommunications products. So do thousands of other companies. A search for one particular model of headset showed that it was sitting at the 135th position in Google's search results. As a test, I added some valuable content answering common questions about the headset. 514 words, to be exact. That page jumped to the 2nd page of search results within two weeks and it has held that ranking since April 2016. I should also mention, the site is not responsive, doesn't have SSL, and doesn't meet a whole bunch of Google "best practices". That's okay, because the content about that headset is more valuable than the content on other websites that sell the same headset.

MARKET YOUR CONTENT Off Site

"Content Marketing" is a phrase being used a lot by people like me to explain why blogging is so important. A lot of people distill the idea of content marketing down to the notion that if you create great content, search engines will notice and then people will take notice. This is true, but it's not the whole story.

You will get more results for your great content if you proactively market it rather than passively hope the search engines will take notice. Marketing your content can take many forms, but it's relatively easy to do. It just takes time. Send a link to your customers and ask them to post it on their blog or link to it from their Facebook page. Link it from your own social media platforms. Ask people to talk about it. If you don't, chances are they won't. These mentions on other sites are all examples of inbound links, which Google's algorithm analyzes for quality and quantity. If you pay for thousands of links from link farms to your great content, you won't get great results. However, a few links to great content from credible websites like your Chamber of Commerce or customers' sites will be more likely to give your content a ranking boost. If you do that regularly, you'll eventually build hundreds of quality links to your website which will in turn, be picked up by Google's algorithm and will likely result in better search engine rankings for your site overall.

The Special Situations

I alluded to some situations where you can get top rankings in Google with minimum effort. Here they are.

  1. People search directly for your business by name. If someone does a search for your business name, they'll probably find you. If they narrow it down by city, (i.e. Joline's Hairstyling Niagara Falls), they'll probably find you at the top or in the top 10. Why not #1? Sometimes the folks at the Yellow Pages or other directory sites have done a better job at SEO than you.
  2. People search for your brand. The good people at Despair.com have trademarked the term "Demotivators". If you forget their website but remember their brand name, you'll find them in the #1 spot for that term. If other folks are outdoing you in the SERPs for your own brand, you have nobody to blame but yourself.
  3. You build a better resource before anyone else. I have a website that has a list of Niagara wineries. It has consistently been ranked in the top 10 Google results for over a decade. The page does not follow Google's best practices guidelines for SEO, but it was one of the first listings of Niagara wineries and it has a good number of inbound links. It may not stay in the top 10 forever, but it's done well over the years, even being the #1 result for a few years. It was built first, it was marketed, and it has remained. You could do the same with your content.

Synopsis

Successful SEO involves creating valuable, user-focused content on a regular basis which is then marketed through blogging, social media and other outreach methods to build inbound links. In other words, it is work. It's not hard work, compared to digging a ditch, but it takes effort. The steps I've outlined above aren't rocket science. Lots of other people have talked about them for years, as have I. What I hope you'll take away is that if you want your site to have great SEO, you have to be better than the other websites in your market at providing and marketing your valuable content and creating a great user experience.

The Most Valuable Real Estate

Mark Kawabe - Monday, December 12, 2016

The Most Valuable Real EstateMention the words "real estate" and most people think about a house, or a building, or land. For anyone involved in online marketing, the most valuable real estate isn't any of these things. It's something much smaller, more personal. One could even use the word "intimate" to describe it. With the rise of the mobile device, the screen of your target audience's smartphone or tablet is now the hottest real estate property.

A few thoughts to consider:

  • The first thing more than 50% of smartphone users do in the morning is - grab their smartphone.
  • 80% of internet users own a smartphone
  • 90% of time spent on a mobile device is spent using an app like Facebook or messaging. 10% is spent in the browser.

People are spending more and more time looking at their smartphones and tablets. While more complex decisions seem to require the larger screens of desktops and laptops, many searches are started online. Decisions aren't made in a device vacuum. One screen just gives way to another, depending on what your visitors are trying to accomplish.

Being aware of these trends can give your business a leg up. If people are spending more time on mobile devices using apps like Facebook, then you may want to evaluate and improve your Facebook marketing efforts. Additionally, ensuring your website provides a good user experience across multiple screen sizes becomes more important when you consider how many people are using their smartphones to browse, surf and search.

The rise of mobile also impacts your email marketing. A majority of email users access their email accounts from their mobile devices. Email messages are not necessarily mobile-friendly, so you may want to check what your messages look like when viewed on a smartphone. Responsive design is just as important for your website as it is for your email messages.

Ensuring your online marketing strategies take mobile usage into consideration is important. While more complex decisions are often made with the benefit of a larger screen, the entry point to the information gathering process is likely to be a mobile device. Going forward, the health of your business will depend on how well you meet your customers' needs, whatever device they're learning about you on.

How to Measure Online Marketing ROI - Part 1

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Calculate ROI for Online MarketingMarketers (and those who hire them) want everything they do to pay off in some fashion. You're making an investment in a website, or email marketing, or social media marketing, and of course you want to see positive results. Measuring the ROI of a website or online marketing campaign is getting easier, but it still takes know-how to drill through the numbers and tell your finance department what they want to know. Here are a few thoughts on calculating the ROI of your online marketing efforts.

Getting Started

Let's say you're just setting up your business and getting all your marketing materials in order, including your website. If you have a business plan for your business, you'll probably have heard that it should be a living document. While a business plan is a good start, it needs to be adjusted as your new business meets the realities of the market. A plan is great, but being able to measure and adjust as you go is a necessity.

So, how do you calculate a projected ROI for your new website? Simple. You take an educated guess, then you launch, measure, figure out what's working and what's not working, adjust and repeat. Let's look at some of the factors that could come into play with this scenario.

Assumption: New website development cost is $10,000. Website will generate 5 new leads per month. With a closing rate of 40%, website sales will result in two new customers per month. The average value of a sale is $2000, so the website will generate $4000 in monthly sales. After 3 months, there will be $12,000 in sales attributed to the website. With a 20% profit margin, there will be $2400 in profits after 3 months from web sales.

Reality: New website costs $10,000, as budgeted. Website generates 2 new leads a month. After 3 months, there are 3 new clients, representing a closing rate of 50%. The average value of those sales is $1000, resulting in $3000 in revenue. The profit margin on these smaller jobs is only 10%, so there is a $300 profit from web sales after 3 months.

What Do You Do?

Nobody's happy when a website doesn't perform. Customers aren't happy. Developers aren't happy because their customers aren't happy. People who genuinely need the product or service being offered aren't happy either, because they aren't getting what they need. What to do?

There are many things that can be evaluated and tweaked to make a website perform better. Here are a few thoughts.

  • What is the website's reach? Are enough people coming to the website? Google Analytics is your friend here. If people aren't coming to your website, you can't expect great things from it. If you're expecting your website to convert visitors into leads, you have to make sure there are enough visitors coming to it. What can you do? Buy advertising. Better your SEO. Do content marketing - and market your content through social media and other channels.
  • How is the website converting? If 100 people come to your website every month and five people make a sales inquiry, your conversion rate is 5%. What if your conversion rate's only 1%? You'll need 400 more visitors to make up the difference. What can you do? Have better website content. Improve your CTA (Calls to Action). Make sure you're reaching your target audience. Ensure your website design, or site loading times or other on-site factors aren't turning people away. 
  • How is your sales staff converting? Unless your website is purely and e-commerce site, your sales staff are the ones converting leads from the website into customers. The website has done its job and pre-sold your product or service to a prospective customer. Now it's your sales staff who need to perform. Are they doing a good job? Do they have the tools they need to succeed? Did the website do such a good job that all your staff need to do is take the order or is there still a hard sale ahead? What can you do when sales staff don't perform? Invest in better training, systems, or people.

There's another factor to take into consideration with the above scenario. What if you didn't spend $10,000 on a website? What would you have done with the money? Would that have been money you didn't have to borrow? Would it be money you could have invested in other revenue-generating activity? While it's generally agreed that most businesses need a website, it's also true for some businesses that it's really not necessary for their success. It is possible for a business to have an online presence that's completely based on social media presence and exposure, but those businesses are the exceptions, not the norm. In the above scenario, there could also be a financial and psychological cost of not having a website. These things are difficult to measure, but not impossible.

As the title of this article suggests, this is part 1 of a discussion of how to measure ROI from your online marketing efforts. If you have questions or comments, I look forward to hearing from you. Your contribution to the discussion is appreciated.