Alexis Madrigal thinks our modern entrepreneurial climate has a problem: we’re not solving big problems anymore. The startup boom in the late 90s gave birth to revolutionary mobile devices. Now, the best we can do is Facebook.
The Fun Theory (a Volkswagen Initiative) argues, “fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better”. They held a competition for people who had fun ways of encouraging good behaviour. For example: a ‘bottle bank arcade’ to encourage recycling, ‘piano stairs’ to encourage exercise, ‘the world’s deepest bin’ to encourage people to properly dispose of litter and ‘The Speed Camera Lottery’
The theory is obviously a bit of fun and good marketing but it did have impressive results. For example, the Speed Camera Lottery ‘game’ reduced the average speed of cars on that road by 22% and the piano stairs meant that 66% more people than normal took the stairs over the escalator. This gamification of everyday things seems to ‘nudge’ people’s behaviour in profound and measurable ways. This begs the question, how far can you nudge people and in what ways?
The Fun Theory: that “fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better” seems to have some solid foundations and is becoming more widely accepted and made use of. Gamification seems set to be a common feature in our lives and one that may make our lives much more fun.
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.
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?
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)
- Landing Pages
- Exit Pages
- 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
- 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.
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
I believe technology is starting to creep into all areas of our life! I have been making a conscious effort over the last three months to be aware of how everyone I come into contact with is using and interacting with technology.
We are living in an era where we are “talking” to people more often, but increasingly we aren’t verbally talking. Texting and posting on Facebook multiple times a days gives us instant gratification when things go wrong or when we want to share good news. We expect instant responses back and the demand on our time with these communication channels is increasing. We know so much more about each other, sometimes too much, than was ever possible in the past.
With all of this online communication, there is so much depth to our ‘character’ that can be constructed and perceived by reading / filtering the information we produce and share online. The other day I heard a discussion on breakfast radio about how more people break up with their partners over the Christmas period than at any other time of the year, a statistic that has been substantiated by Facebook! We have to realise that all of the information we are writing online is being used for marketing and in particular for gaining an understanding of specific target markets.
I see from my own personal experience, my need to know a lot of information before I will take action. To gain this information is easy – just search online. From researching products to buy, where to eat, and what others are saying about a particular brand I am wanting to buy – the information is at my finger tips and available in minutes and then becomes data that is used to understand us.
We are also living in a time where we are seeing robots being designed to look after some of the monotonous tasks in manufacturing and being sought as companions in nursing homes (these robots can sounds the alarm if there is a medical emergencies as they are always ‘on’). Robots of the future will be looking after our kids, as a trust worthy baby sitter that knows the games the child likes to play, what a nutritious meal is and will know first aid for added piece of mind for parents.
I have noticed a considerable shift from asking friends and family for advice on personal issues, to these questions being asked of computers / robots with the perception that these technology lead devices will have the better answer, as they have the combined knowledge of the world that is current, unlike that of our family and friends. Have you noticed this too?
With all of this going on in my head, I came across this YouTube video (actually it sent to me by Simon Phillips from DejanSeo, who like me has the same growing interest in examining and understanding how technology is shaping our communication). This video was originally put together for a marketing conference to spark discussion with the delegates about what the future of marketing could be, based on the current trends in the communication landscape. Now, since being posted on YouTube, it has had over 205,000 views and has sparked alot of discussion, mostly negative.
Have a look at the video and let me know what you think.
Yours in the future of marketing,
The recent re-branding of MBF, HBA and Mutual Community health funds to Bupa Australia has given birth to the TVC of the year!
The ‘Find a healthier you’ campaign taps into the emotions of the public by asking, what would you do if you met a healthier version of yourself? The creative approach to the campaign takes a non-traditional angle by opting to not highlight the product, but rather pose a question to the public, to reach them on a deeper level and to suggest that Bupa is there to partner with their customers to ‘Find a healthier you’… Smart thinking!
I for one am hooked on the campaign…
Yours in support of Bupa,
Creative thinking needs to be the driving force behind advertising in today’s market. I believe there is a growing trend especially with online advertising to go to where your customers are and engage with them there, instead of trying to bring your customers to you.
This is a compelling campaign that was run by Tesco in South Korea. It is a fantastic example of where I see innovative thinking taking place to engage with people using communication based technology. Using images of grocery shelves complete with price and QR Code, shoppers can purchase groceries on their way home from the train station that is then delivered to their door. I love it.
Yours in innovative thinking,
I received a rather ominous email the other day from Yellow Bird Project. If you haven’t heard of them, Yellow Bird Project is an organisation that sells t-shirts that have been designed by an array of indie rock musicians. The profits from the shirts go to the charity of the musician’s choice. Their mascot is a little bird who, until now, has been safely residing across their branded materials. As part of a very cool new campaign to get their Facebook ‘likes’ up, the yellow bird has been abducted. According to the demands of the ransom note, the only way to possible to save his life is to ‘like’ the Facebook page. If they get 10,000 likes, the bird might be spared!
The campaign is supported by a range of ‘have you seen this bird’ and ‘save the bird’ posters.
This online social media campaign is effective because it makes you feel emotionally involved with the situation. Will it work? Well, I liked it.
Yours in online marketing,