Category Archives: Digital Solutions

Dispelling the Myth of SEO

Like in any industry, SEO has its own our clowns and self-proclaimed gurus who take people’s money and do nothing. This, is surprisingly, not the worst-case scenario. Some “experts” will actually damage your website’s reputation with search engines by taking risky shortcuts which may show only temporary results.

It’s not surprising that many agencies, marketing and web professionals see SEO as black art surrounded by mystery, smoke and mirrors. Some claim that there is no such thing as “SEO”. If you write good content and structure your website well rankings will follow.

“Build it and they will come?”

Here’s one such example which made me laugh, not because the author is wrong but because it reveals a simplistic, child-like view, to something as complex as search engine marketing:

“If your site has been built properly, then there is no need for additional optimization.”

If you share the views of the author of above article then you’ve already lost touch. Read on however, and regain your faith in once strange and esoteric world of SEO. This time, however, with tangible facts and data. Yes, hard, factual, objective data and some pretty damn good ideas too.

Let me start with website re-design. This is where things go wrong all the time.

 

WEBSITE REDESIGN

A website with great organic traffic and search engine performance may go through re-design for any number of reasons:

  • Change in management (something to prove)
  • Periodic design refresh (keeping up with the times)
  • Kitty see. Kitty do. (keeping up with the Joneses)
  • Company structure or branding change
  • Customer feedback and user experience
  • Adding new functionality

 

That’s great but did you remember some of these things?

 

  • Has URL structure changed?
  • Have you 301’ed your old pages?
  • Can you still reach the old version of the website creating duplicate content?
  • Are there many links now pointing to non-existent content (404 pages)?
  • What’s in your title tags? Why?
  • Are words people expect to find you for part of your website copy?
  • Do you have too few pages? Too many?
  • Have you changed your robots.txt to allow indexing of the live site?

 

The above are not trivial issues and can seriously harm website’s performance in search engines if misconfigured or ignored.  OK, so we fix all this and more so does that mean that we’re done?

Nope.

 

WHAT GOES WHERE AND WHY?

Many agencies are capable of handling these appropriately, but fail to think strategically prior to website re-design. I’ll illustrate in the next few examples. Let’s take a look at this search result snippet:

Now compare it with Sony Australia:

 

As you can see one is treated as a local business and the other as a brand with fully expanded sitelinks. One has well-written description, the other shows random boilerplate content. This not only reflects the professionalism of the company but also aids with conversions through impact on click-through rate (CTR).

 

SO WHAT CAN BE DONE? 

  • Optimise Title
  • Add Custom Description
  • Manage Locations
  • Prioritise Sitelinks

 

 

All this and you still won’t get the desired results. Why? Because somebody made a decision to set up the site on various sub domains such as http://www.lighting.philips.com.au/ so search engines may treat each one as a separate website.

Ignoring the sub domain issue related to this specific case, things look fairly straightforward so far. Change the titles, descriptions and all the other elements and you’ll be fine. Once you start doing it, however, you realise that the website may have 12,000 pages. Should it? Recently I proposed a contemporary framework for handling enterprise SEO and I highly recommend you read it if you are involved in large-scale projects.

 

 

 

 

To decide what will be the focus of each page could take an enormous amount of time. To add to the problem, in order to come up with a really good title tag and meta description it can take an hour or more of brainstorming, especially for high value pages. It’s kind of like writing ad copy for AdWords. Suddenly you realise this is a monumental task. What can you do?

 

MEASURING DATE & ESSENTIAL TOOLS

In order to decide what goes where you need to dive into data and do a lot of drilling, filtering, selection and elimination. With data you derive you have a task of allocation. What goes to what page and are there any competing pages and resources that could be and should be merged. It’s time to turn to tools. Here are two bare essentials:

 

 

Taking a traffic and performance snapshot when starting SEO will not only help you benchmark later on but will also give you a solid starting point for moving forward and leaning from existing data.

Here are a few examples of items/metrics you want to measure:

 

Organic Traffic (Create your own or use existing advanced segment in Analytics)

  • Conversions
  • Landing Pages
  • Exit Pages
  • Keywords
  • Top referrers
  • Pages with referrers
  • eCommerce (where applicable)

 

Remember to annotate your timeline if you make any significant changes so you can link it with any consequent impact on traffic.In Google Webmaster Tools observe the following:

 

Search Queries Phrases

  • Impressions
  • CTR
  • Clicks
  • Average Position
  • Trend metrics

 

 

 

Remember to filter the data to your desired platform and geographic location.  Also retrieve the following data:

 

  • Crawl errors
  • Index status
  • Links to your site
  • HTML improvements
  • Social metrics (+1)

 

If applicable consider applying:

 

 

These are all measurable metrics which can be tied in with the performance of your SEO campaign. Remember there is no such thing as an absolute ranking position anymore. Users will see different results based on many different factors including:

 

  • Device / Platform
  • Geographic Location
  • Result Personalisation
  • Social Activity & Connections

 

Ultimate gauge for the effectiveness of any marketing activity is naturally the return on investment. Do not treat “SEO” in simplistic terms, however, as well-optimised websites contribute to a multitude of channels and aid conversion.The best thing you can do is set up tight attribution models in order to understand what contributed to what extend in the purchase/signup cycle of your customers.

 

PREDICTING RETURN ON INVESTMENT

Most of your clients want to see the following scenario:

X goes in, Y comes out.

You need to have an answer ready for them. This is generally not a problem when it comes to your PPC campaigns or affiliate marketing. What about SEO and organic traffic?We battled this problem for a while and finally developed a type of keyword targeting methodology which is capable of producing traffic impact and financial scenarios by observing the existing data available for the website.

Here’s what we’ve come up with:

 

 

As you can see, this is a heatmap indicating click-through rates based on ranking of phrases. What’s special about it though is that it was not based on hundreds nor thousands of general websites. We based this calculation on data available from a single website. This means the calculation is highly accurate to their own specific circumstances.

With this knowledge we can then start modelling and predict the traffic impact of each phrase based on its movement in results.

 

 

 

Next step is to assign financial gain with each phrase forming the final step in your ROI calculation. After this step you can prioritise work and set targets in line with the highest return and most immediate results.

 

 

To ensure the targets are realistic query qualitative parameters such as PageRank, MozRank or Flow Metrics to ascertain whether you’re going against a target too difficult to beat (e.g. trying to beat Amazon for books).

This type of report can really make a difference not only to the business itself, but can also make your life a whole lot easier when pitching to your management. Your client, COO or marketing director are more likely to understand the plain numbers and graphs instead of the usual SEO jargon.

 

THE FUTURE

We only just scratched the surface of what SEO has truly become, but hopefully this post opens up doors to more strategic thinking and new creative approaches to search engine marketing. Remember this – search engines are constantly evolving and new features are always on the horizont. In the last two years Google has integrated new layers into their search algorithm. The major search engine now features their own social network and a knowledge graph.

 

The key question is: Are you seeing the opportunities?

 

Written by: Dan Petrovic, Dejan SEO

Addicted to Pinterest

I admit it, I’m getting addicted to Pinterest. If you feel the same or, better, if you’re trying to take advantage from a marketing POV of people’s addiction to Pinterest, then you should check out this infographic that the guys at Flowtown recently put together.

 

Sacred Grounds is good

Sacred Grounds Organic Fairtrade coffee have launched a very cool campaign promoting their ‘good’ coffee. The concept is based around the idea that Sacred Grounds coffee is good, “so you don’t have to be”. The campaign uses a mix of clever copywriting with beautiful typography to produce a seductive and humorous outcome.

The success of this campaign (by The Campaign Palace) is largely due to Sacred Grounds taking a risk. Instead of sticking to safe, monotonous messages about the good qualities of fair-trade, they’ve added a risqué twist that adds fun and gives depth to the brand. They’ve even got away with using the word ‘be-atch’!

Love it?

Yours in ads,

Anya

 

Cut

Recent findings from a number of large scale studies of consumers and their habits suggest that less choice equals more sales.

Interestingly, secondary conclusions for this hypothesis suggest that less choice converted to quicker decision processing and therefore greater sale conversion.

Could these findings be due to the time poor nature of consumer habits or that branding and advertising has reached saturation point for consumers and there is now a need for desaturating by keeping it simple.

Take a look at the following link: Sheena Iyengar: How to make choosing easier.

Yours by choice,
Amber van Sloten

The power of Apple iBooks

Imagine a classroom where all the books are located on the one device and reading them is a total interactive experience. We have come so far with technology in the last 10 years. Feeling a little old, I remember back to the days when I had to cart text books around, reading and then writing out notes on paper. At the time, I could never have imagined anything so different. The new Apple iBooks allows students to interact with what they are learning. Tapping into more of our senses, making learning, fun, interactive and most of all memorable.

Apple iBooks is also a great tool for writers, making laying out and publishing books incredibly easy with a very professional outcome.

I challenge you to view this video and not feel a little bit jealous of the experience we never got to experience in our school days.

Yours in exploring Apple iBooks.

Belinda

Gentlemint – Pinterest for Men only

I’ve been using Pinterest now for only a few weeks and it has become yet another procrastination tool that I have become addicted to! If you haven’t seen Pinterest, check it out at www.pinterest.com or better still you can follow my boards @ http://pinterest.com/paul_vb/

BUT now I have found a second version of Pinterest called Gentlemint (http://gentlemint.com/). No the things that appeals to me about this one is that it’s a MEN ONLY version! That’s not to mean that it full of semi-naked women or fast cars or anything else you would like to stereotype men with! From what I have seen so far it is full of interesting posts of really interesting things, to a man at least! And that’s the appeal of Gentlemint for me. It’s not full of pretty dresses, high heels, latest gift-wrapping techniques or any other stereotypical terms used for what women like!

Just like Pinterest you can only create an account by being invited or application. I haven’t been approved as yet, but am looking forward to it! It is not limited to men only, there is no gender check on applying, but the content obviously must be ‘manly’!

And remember… Chuck Norris doesn’t read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

Yours in manliness,

Paul

One of the recent posts on Gentlemint…

Christmas Stress Relief

It’s called the silly season for a reason, right?

How many times have you been pushed out of the way at the shops this year for some other greedy person to get to the bargains (which you didn’t even want anyway!)?

Is all the stress of thinking about the family getting together on Christmas day causing you to bite your nails back to your knuckles?

If so, here is a nice little site that can bring some relief to you this silly season and make you smile again this Christmas!

www.youbetternotstress.com

Check out some of the ugly holiday sweaters and be glad you don’t have one!

Preview the best holiday movies for people who don’t like holiday movies!

And check out the best predictions for 2012!

It’s all in good fun… enjoy!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas,

Paul.

Google in the future

How often do you ask someone a question they don’t know the answer to, and their response is “Google it”?

I came across this video about the evolution of the Google search and it made me realise how much has changed since we started using Google. Little things like Quick Answers (where the answer to your question is listed before your search results) and Instant (where your results come up before you’ve finished typing your sentence) are part of Google’s ever-evolving quest for ultimate user satisfaction. They are working towards being able to provide the answers for questions like “What is the best time for me to sew seeds in India, given that there was a monsoon earlier this year?”
And once they’ve achieved this, they’ll start providing answers to even more complex questions!

Yours in search results,

Anya