Good Rankings but Poor Conversions

My website is ranking well but where are the customers?” Good rankings don’t really help much when you get no clicks or calls. As complicated as it sounds, there can be many reasons why a website that ranks well doesn’t do so well in converting.

If only top rankings meant guaranteed business! If this is the case for your website, you’re in a better place than not ranking at all. Here are some things to consider if your website isn’t bringing you any business:

Delve into Analytics: Take a look at your top landing pages and check out the bounce rates. A high bounce rate may indicate that: 1) your content is poorly written and not helpful 2) your content may be good but not specific to the user’s search intention.

Take this opportunity to look over your content and ask yourself if you’re delivering what you’re promising. In Analytics, you can also look at what keywords and phrases people are using to arrive to the page and see if the content matches up to what they’re looking for. This means adjusting on page content as well as meta descriptions and title tags, which also greatly affect click-through rates.

Technical Issues: It’s a good idea to check that your contact forms work once in awhile. Depending on your web host and email service provider, contact forms could not be working or be unintentionally marked as spam.

There are also malicious viruses that could inject themselves into Javascript contact forms and prevent users from access.

Make sure to double check that your contact information is correct on your website, including: email address, local, toll-free, fax and any other alternate numbers.

Re-evaluate Keywords and Volume: Consumer behavior and search trends fluctuate on a seasonal basis. If your website is ranking well for related keywords but you’re not seeing the results, it’s time to consider the search volume that those terms get on a monthly basis. This is why search volume and competitor volume matters. This is also why you can’t trust a marketing company that guarantees top rankings! (They could easily get you to rank for terms that no one is searching…)

Provide Good Customer Service and Communication: Potential customers could get turned off by a number of things after making initial contact with your company. It could be a typo in an email, an inappropriate Facebook post, an employee’s tone or whether they can reach a live person at all. For businesses using an automated service, make sure to let customers know when they can expect a reply, whether if it’s within the hour, 3 business days, etc.

For businesses that are using a third-party service with a live chat operator, make sure to check once in awhile to see how the operators are chatting and responding to potential customers. This applies to live phone calls or written communications.

You’re Halfway There
Remember, top rankings are something that all business owners look forward to. If your site is at the top but you’re not quite getting the results you’re looking for, don’t give up. This is the time to crack down on the last adjustments you can make in order to have your site live up to its fullest potential!

Rankings and numbers tell a story, but you may not get the whole picture. Contact us for an SEO website analysis today.

Google Study: Paid Ads Do NOT Cannabalize Organic SEO Clicks

Do I have to choose between SEO or PPC?

This has been a popular question that has been highly debated. The theory is that if you choose the same keywords for targeted SEO and PPC campaigns, your efforts will work against each other and you’ll lose out, either in paid or organic search. Cannibalization is the term experts use when SEO and PPC compete against each other… this means wasted time, money and effort – especially when paid search is involved.

Surprisingly, a recent study of 400 campaigns by Google shows that 89% of the traffic generated by paid ads is not replaced by organic clicks. Overall, this means that paid ads did not steal clicks away from organic results in this sample.

Of course, this all depends on your industry and you could see stronger results using SEO and PPC or just one method. If you hear anyone make generalizations about using both methods without analyzing your keywords and business, it’s safe to be on the skeptical side.

For example, if you’re ranking high (or are number one) for a keyword, it probably won’t be helpful to focus your efforts on trying to get to the #1 spot for PPC as well. Instead, the benefit of PPC is that it can give your business better exposure for key words that you’re not ranking so high for organically.

Let us know if you have any questions about whether SEO and/or PPC is right for your business and we’d be happy to help you out!

Making the Most of Your Social Media Content

content creation

After all your hard work , you want to make sure that your efforts don’t get lost in the sea of online content. From your regular blog posts to  Tweets, here are some ways you can make sure that you’re making the most out of your social media content:

  • Blog – Writing a post-worthy blog isn’t enough to get your content found. Make sure to fill out the Title, meta description, anchor text, tags with meaningful and relevant keywords before you post. You can also edit the URL of your post to make it shorter and more concise (see: the url of this post vs the title)
  • Images – When you add pictures to your blog or website, always remember to add a title or description. Even if it’s just your brand name or a broad description, these words will go a long way!  My pet hamster made it to the first page of Google Images because I optimized a Flickr photo his name in the title, tags and description.
  • Video– It’s easy to optimize YouTube videos. Properly optimized videos are powerful assets that will benefit your brand in the long run because they have a strong staying power (especially if you get them to rank for a specific location/niche.)
  • Twitter– Keep your messages short and sweet and don’t be afraid to include target keywords and other terms you want to be associated with. A fun part of Twitter is that your responses to other users and retweets also count as content.
  • Facebook– This isn’t the place to blast the same messages over again. Neither is it a place to overtly self-promote. With New Facebook Pages rolling out, you can make your fans keep them engaged and make them feel like they’re part of something exclusive by creating unique, well-timed messages.

What are some other ways you properly optimize your social media content?

Wednesday Webinar Overview: Keyword Research

Midweek already. Yesterday’s webinar with Gord Hotchkiss of Enquiro and Connie Stack of WordStream was about PPC Keyword Research and the B2B Buyer.

My favorite analogy that Gord used was that keyword research is best utilized when you do both quantitative and qualitative research. A quantitative strategy can be compared to looking at your dashboard and monitoring your speed as you drive. A qualitative approach would be more like looking outside your window. So in the end, effective keyword research (and driving) consists of both these techniques!

Connie mentioned a good point in her own experience with WordStream. Instead of just focusing on pushing their products/services, WordStream is also interested in the user experience, such as queries like “frustration with AdWords”. As buyers look for a proper balance in their search, it’s important for sellers to find an equilibrium point in understanding the user experience.

If you’d like to learn more about keyword research and read more about the fascinating eye tracking studies, Gord has a free PDF of his new book available for download on his site.

Coming Up with a Plan for Organic SEO

Do you ever come across the label, “One size fits all”? Not only is it frustrating but most of the time, it doesn’t even hold true! Instead of opting for a generic plan for tackling SEO, why not take the time to see what will work best for you? The biggest problem that many have is not knowing where to start or what efforts are enough to help your success. Although a reputable SEO company can’t guarantee your success, your hard work and consistency will pay off in the end.

Investing in Keyword Research
This is an important starting place. Maybe you want to set aside 5, 10, or even 20 keywords that you’d like to concentrate on. Instead of going for a wide variety of words, it can be beneficial to focus on some top terms if there is not a lot of competition in your field. The opposite holds true if you want to get more aggressive with your efforts. Lisa Barone wrote an easy-to-follow article for beginning your keyword research. With free tools from Google and unlimited online resources, there’s no reason for you NOT to get started today.

Moving Onto SEO Content
Now that you know what keywords you want to optimize, it’s time to focus on SEO content. It may be difficult to deliver a steady stream of relevant content. Many companies find it more efficient to enlist the help of copywriters who are knowledgeable in the field. Whether it is keeping up with industry news, voicing your opinion, or plain FAQ’s, these textual gems will help link your site to the significant keywords that you want to be associated with. Marketing experts can’t stress this enough – content is king.

Let’s Get Technical
Search engine optimization works to help your site gain more visibility. This doesn’t happen out of happenstance and you should familiarize yourself with the more technical aspects of organic SEO. Don’t know the difference between title and meta tags? Forget to add relevant keywords to your headings? Did you know you can even add alt tags to make your pictures more search engine friendly? If you aren’t utilizing these fields, just think of all the potential visibility you’re missing out on!

Intel’s Advertising Overhaul


Listened in to a webinar this morning with Corey Carrillo of Intel Corporation and Craig Macdonald of Covario about Paid Search and Big Brand Marketing: How Intel Coordinated Search Into a Global Ad Campaign. Most of the time, I find that big corporate presentations are kind of dry because they only cover really general topics and give broad details.

Anyways, Corey admits that Intel is lacking in their brand power presence when compared to Dell or HP. They began an overhaul of their advertising campaign which portrayed their engineers as “rock stars”. Across video, online, email and other advertising platforms, Intel used the same format with familiar characters. This gave their new image a consistency. I personally like these new ads and how consumers can relate.

Consumers seemed to enjoy these ads and found them entertaining. BUT… when directed to the landing page, customers quickly bounced. Like we’ve talked about before, this landing page looked really cool and was flash based. From the consumer point of view, it was too slow loading and they weren’t finding what they were looking for. After a simpler revamp, Intel’s ad campaign improved. They tested, measured and learned from their mistakes and it’s something we all can learn from.

As Corey reminds us the 3 most important things he considers when it comes to a paid search campaign:

  1. keyword selection
  2. ad creative used
  3. landing page

Lesson learned: Integrating your SEO and PPC campaigns are easier said than done, especially for big corporations.

The Evolution of Blogging and SEO

The History of Blogging
Web + log = Blog. According to Wikipedia, early-blogging dates back to around 1983. What evolved from a personal online diary has become a helpful tool that can be as powerful (or more powerful) than a website. Let’s take a quick look at some interesting tidbits:

  • Cameron Barrett compiled the first of blog sites in 1998
  • Peter Merholz coined the term “blog” in 1999
  • Pyra creates Blogger in 1999
  • Twitter introduces the world to microblogging in 2006

What’s Changed?
LiveJournal, Open Diary, Xanga, Blogger. The dot-com bubble paved the way for companies and individuals who wanted to make a name for themselves via blogging. Nowadays, blogggers are more dynamic and it’s more than just detailing the mundane facts of your everyday life. From online marketers to large corporations, blogs are now considered to be a serious for of entertainment, news, and information.

Business Blogging Webinar

This morning’s webinar with Chris Baggot and Duane Forrester was about business blogging and how to apply SEO. They distinguish the difference between how personal blogging has evolved into a more sophisticated form of corporate blogging. Chris shared insight about organizing several different blogs dedicated to specific topics, while Duane talk about the importance of tracking your success. Here are some things to keep in mind as you establish your own blogging strategy and best practices:

  • 66% of blog traffic comes from search engines
  • Companies that utilize blogs generally get more traffic
  • Frequent and recent – successful blogs are updated regularly and contain relevant information

Competition Among Top Search Engines

Google Dominates

Google continues to dominate as the top search engine in the United States. While a select few reign over the search engine industry, there is a great range between the top three largest companies. As of September 2009, about 70.5% of users use Google, 17% used Yahoo! and 9.3% sided with Bing. With such discrepancies, the number two and three search engines are losing a great deal of market share to the Google giant. In the past, Google and Microsoft have been fiercely competitive. From competing web browsers to applications, Microsoft has jumped directly into Google’s game with the unveiling of their new search engine in summer of 2009.

Does Bing Size Up?

The commercials seem promising, but does Bing really size up to Google? Formerly Windows Live Search and MSN Search, the new search engine has boldly labeled themselves as the “decision engine”. Some experts believe that Bing is a great improvement from what it used to be, and that it has the potential to threaten Google’s success. While the size of that threat is arguable, Bing offers relevant results that are competitive to those of Google. Another obstacle for Bing to overcome is attempting to win over loyal Google users. Bing is relatively young to Google and time will tell whether or not their technology and measurable marketing efforts will pay off.

New Competitors

Although Google is all we hear about when it comes to search engines, the market outside of the United States is drastically different. For example, did you know that AltaVista is the number one preferred search engine in Canada? The Swiss prefer Abacho, while China is no stranger to altogether banning access to Google. Google is great at recognizing competitors and making valuable additions to their company. Did you know that Google acquired Google Earth from a smaller company in 2004? New technology is emerging all the time and Google is definitely keeping their eyes peeled for new competitors.

Search Marketing During a Recession


Think Positive

What should you do when it comes to your search marketing efforts during a recession? Many marketers believe that search marketing is somewhat recession-proof, but it pays to do your own research. It may be too soon to tell, so it doesn’t hurt to do some analysis. First, talk to your peers and ask them how business is going. You can learn a lot from their personal experiences and networking is always a big plus. Keeping up with the latest news means that you won’t get left behind during the next economic upturn. Things may look slow in the meanwhile, but don’t be easily discourage. Innovations like Google Wave or advances in mobile search marketing thrive during times like these!

Recession Dos

Invest: Whether it is time or money, experts suggest that a recession is a time to invest more into search marketing efforts. Why? Competitors may significantly cut back on their expenditures, so that leaves room for you to take advantage of an open market.
Think “Free”: Take advantage of free help that can come from link building and social networking. These efforts take more time than money and will improve the results that you’ll see in the long-run. You can also take time to give your website that much needed makeover.
Organize: Regardless of the economic conditions, a well-organized business always runs more efficiently. Keeping track of what you cut-back on or increase will help you easily make changes and see results.

Recession Don’ts

Don’t carry on as normal but don’t be afraid. Does that make sense? It is foolish to think that the recession doesn’t have some impact on a part of your business. Disregarding external factors is not beneficial and you won’t learn anything new. The worst thing that a business can do is to cut costs in blind fear. If you cut back or eliminate new content and a paid advertising campaign, why would you be surprised if your business suffers? It’s time think smarter and you can take these tips with you as you move ahead.

PPC Negative Keywords: Maximizing the Positive Effect

Just this morning, we sat in on a webinar titled, “PPC Negative Keywords: Maximizing the Positive Effect”.  It was hosted by Marin Software and Ken Jurina, the co-founder and CEO of of Epiar, Inc.  Here are some of the gems we plucked from our experience – some we know, but some of it was a kick in the pants to spend more time thinking negative.

Negative keywords instruct search engines to not display your ads, decreasing irrelevant queries, impressions and most importantly clicks and spend.

An interesting reverse logic idea that was mentioned: you may want to consider using negative keywords for legitimate terms.  Maybe these terms are spending a lot of money and bringing lots of traffic but they are expensive and converting poorly.  Other great reasons to use negative keywords are:

  • Expensive conversions
  • Expensive clicks
  • Limited budget
  • Bad brand association
  • Not relevant for the user
  • Quality improvements
  • Lowering costs

An important, sometimes hard to find tidbit for each of the search engines is:  What are their negative keyword limits?

  • With Google – 10,000 negative keywords in Ad Campaign or 5,000 at Ad Group Level
  • With Yahoo – 250 negative keywords at Ad Campaign Level or Ad Group Level
    • Singular term covers plural and misspellings
  • With Microsoft adCenter – 1024 character including spaces and commas
    • Campaign, ad group or keyword level

A major lesson seemed to be that ultimately, a combination of exact phrase broad and maximized negative keywords is the best way to target paid search.  Keep in mind that negative keywords have no impact on exact match terms.

So – I’m sold on the idea of switching to more broad and phrase matching and adding negative keywords to all of my accounts.  After adding broad and phrase match and negative keywords, what can I expect?

  • Your ads will now appear on the relevant long tail phrases
  • Your ads will get better exposure to better prospects, which means increased leads and increased revenue!
  • You can now advertise on long tail phrases where your competitors dare not tread, meaning more cheap clicks for you without the dangers of broad match.
  • Once your ads get impressions deep into the long tail phrases, your advertising reach may double, triple, or more!

OK – great, now how do I build these lists?  What tools are there for me to use?

Manually, using intuition and industry knowledge.

Scan through past referring phrases that did not convert, had bounce rates or were trash

So – In the end, negative keywords is a simple concept, important part of every campaign and can according, to today’s webinar, save up 20-40% on spend.  Wow, that’s a “no-brainer”.