How Much Of You Goes Into Your Content?

When it comes to producing content for the purpose of SEO, you can’t be boring.

Be Your Weird Self
It’s Okay To Be Your Weird Self!

Well… you can be boring. If you want to write a standard piece of writing, then you can do. “After all,” you’ll tell yourself, “it’s to serve a purpose, isn’t it? The content doesn’t really matter – that’s just the dressing around what really matters, the purpose of attracting people to my site to buy items or a service…”

That’s a nice thought and it might well work. You might be the lucky one, who rises above the fact that content is – and always has been – king. If you don’t produce something worth reading, then it’s effectively a fancy version of Lorem Ipsum. Words just thrown on a page with no specific purpose in mind.

What would ya say ya do here?

The problem is, nine times out of ten, it’s not going to work. Even if your purpose is just to draw people to your site for another reason, it’s still got to… you know… draw people to your site. And no one is going to want to come if they see dull headlines in Google searches and even duller writing if they decide to click through.

That is not SEO. That is dumb.

It makes sense to make whatever you write as good as it can be. There are some people in this world who can write enthralling content about things that have nothing to do with them – and these people tend to be paid very well to do it. For the rest of us, we should stick with the basic principle for all writing: write what you know.

 

So what do you know?

The most simple answer is… you.

This is me!

If nothing else, blogging has proved that people are interested in people. We can’t help ourselves. We like gossip, we like to peek into other people’s lives – we’re all inherently nosey even if we pretend that we’re not.

It makes sense to inject as much of yourself as possible into anything you write. It’s possible to do this without invading your own privacy or putting your life online. Focus on things you have learned, experiences you have had – and then write about them in the abstract. Your readers need to feel that you are a real person, with a real history, which you can at least give the appearance of.

You can still keep a veneer of privacy; don’t include your phone number on your site, but do include your Twitter. No need to give out your home address, but an online P.O. box service could allow people to feel they can touch base with you in a physical sense. There are always ways and means of giving an impression of your life without fully revealing it.

It makes sense to try and engage people with your writing. The more engaged people are with a person, with their personal story, the more likely they are to follow what they do. Or, buy the products they might be selling – why do you think celebrities who know nothing about fragrance have signature perfumes? People are buying as much into the person as they are the fragrance.

Developing a Style Guide for Your Personal Brand

No matter what job you work at, what company you work for, or where you go in your career, one thing that will always remain in tact is your personal brand.

I’m not sure if you are familiar with what exactly a style guide is, but if you aren’t I encourage you to check out official style guide standards of company’s such as MailChimp. They get so detailed with their style guide that they even include a special section on how to write commonly misspelled or mis-hyphenated words. A style guide can be as simple as a 1 page set of rules, or a massive 10,000 word document defining everything you do on and offline for your brand, be it corporate or personal.

In 2013 we wrote a guide to branding your personal name on the web. In this post we will focus more on creating a style guide, so you have a set of standards to stick by. So let’s dive right into things, let’s look at some of the things that make up a personal brand:

Your Actual Name

This one might seem a little bit obvious, but it isn’t always. Mine is simple, my name is Patrick Coombe. In order to maintain brand consistency I always identify myself as Patrick Coombe. Not Pat Coombe, or Patrick Michael Coombe. I’ve been on many forums over the years going by many aliases (that some of you might know me as) but over the past 2-3 years I’ve shed those names in favor of my actual name. I’ve done this for a few reasons, mainly because I’m known for my name on social media, I published a book under my name etc.

Jeremy Rivera is a good example of a name that is in the middle of the spectrum. It isn’t the most popular name by far, but there are definitely a few occurrences of his name out there. Jeremy was really smart by snagging the EMD for his name, and using it in all of his dealings on the web.

With other individuals, there are more complex scenarios when it comes to personal name branding. Take my good friend Glen Allsop, a very successful internet marketer otherwise known as “ViperChill.” This name was a personal association he gave to a chocolate bar when he was 11 years old, he also likes the Dodge Viper. That, along with the fact that he is really “chill” and you get “ViperChill.” The name just stuck, and he has rolled with it ever since 2006 when he started using it.

Whatever the case may be, it is just as important to stick to your personal name brand as it is for a company to stick to theirs. There are a few exceptions of well known name brands that have come up with shortened versions of time, but this really only happens when you’ve achieved truly baller status:

  • Chevrolet > Chevy
  • McDonalds > MccyD’s
  • CocaCola > Coke
  • countless others

One piece of advice I give to our clients, staff and vendors on a consistent basis is to make sure you use your name consistently. For instance if your name is Michael Miller, don’t use:

  • Mike Miller
  • Michael David Miller
  • Mike Miller
  • Mike “madman” Miller

…on that note, if you do have a common name such as “John Smith” or “Michael David,” my advice is to use your middle name or the less commonly used variation so you can stand out a bit more.

Just the Facts

Facts about you as a person play a vital role in your personal branding and developing a style guide. Be sure that you are consistent when it comes to your facts that you use in your bios, about us sections, and other static and dynamic areas of your website. Examples of this include:

  • “I started SEO in 2004” vs “in the early 2000’s”
  • “I live in South Florida” vs “I live in Delray Beach, FL”
  • “My first job was in a restaurant” vs “I worked for my parents at a young age.”

It may seem like it is trivial, but it could come across like you are being not up-front if you are not consistent with the facts about yourself. While it is OK to stray from the norm in longer form content, it is generally a good idea to try and keep some standards when you are doing your bio, etc.

Your Tag Line

You might have a tag line for your personal brand, you might not. I’m not going to say you have to have one, but if you do it is important to stick to it, and not stray from what you use. Again, brand consistency.

Matthew Woodward is a great example of personal branding in general, and he has a good tag line: “no nonsense SEO and affiliate marketing.” He uses this on his website and within his logo, and it does a great job of defining exactly what he does as a person.

Don’t feel pressure to come up with a tag line. In fact, I think it is better for your tagline to come about organically over time. I personally don’t have a tag line, it just isn’t something I chose to do at this point.

Colors

Colors is an area where a lot of people lose lots of “karma” from their brand. They’ll use yellow in one instance, red in another, and blue in yet another. Again, brand consistency. Define a color scheme and stick to it. One tool that I really like to use is Adobe Kuler. Adobe Kuler allows you to browse existing color themes, create new ones, and get suggestions on ideas for colors that match, contrast, or go together.

Color is important because it instills familiarity in your visitor. Every time they see that “Moz Blue” or “Coca Cola Red” your brand is further re-inforced. Many articles and even books have been written on color when it comes to branding, so I can’t even begin to go into this subject in this post but I will say to be sure to keep your colors consistent and remember that the colors you choose you have to live with, so choose wisely.

A really cool website to check out is “BrandColors.net” an entire website dedicated to identifying the exact color scheme of major brands throughout the world. They even list the exact hexadecimal code to use if you want to “borrow” it, just make sure you aren’t violating any international copyright laws before you do so. Kissmetrics also did a really cool infographic on how colors affect purchases, which can be really useful when trying to come up with a color scheme for the first time.

Font

Do not skim over this section. There is a reason why typesetting is taught throughout the world in colleges and universities. Your font is everything and everywhere. A bad font can completely destroy your user experience. Even choosing the wrong font size can ruin an experience. If you don’t know what you are doing, follow these simple rules so you don’t make a fool out of yourself.

It is my opinion that all brands should use a maximum of 3 fonts in all of their static media, most of the time you get away with 2: a heading font, and a body font. On the Elite Strategies website for instance we actually only use 1 font: Open Sans. We do use several variations of this font: Light, Bold, Italic, etc. We also use different weights, sizes and colors. There are a few exceptions of where you might find some other fonts such as icon fonts and a few plugins, but overall we keep it really simple. Take Joel Klettke an esteemed conversion focused copywriter based in the UK. On his blog it may appear that he uses a wide variety of font faces:

…but in fact he only uses one font face: Source Sans. He does make uses of color (his brand color of course) in his font, CAPS, bold, size, etc but sticks to his primary font face throughout his website. The result is a very well done website, that sticks to his style guidelines.

Often times when you spot a “hot mess” of a website, you’ll encounter one that uses 3-5 fonts on the same page. It is a huge mistake, and really can make your page look confusing.

Standardize your fonts. I’ll assume that most of the people reading this are using a CMS that defines this for them such as WordPress. CMS’s are great because you can use templates.

Logo

If you talk to many professionals about personal branding, a logo will be a hot spot for debate. Many people that I’ve encountered say a logo is totally unnecessary. Let’s take a look at some really “big name” personal brands in our industry:

  • Rand Fishkin – no logo
  • Jeff Bullas – no logo
  • Neil Patel – no logo
  • Gary Vaynerchuk – no logo

Those were just 4 off the top of my head I looked up quickly. Even in my research for this post, I couldn’t find a lot of information on logos for personal brands. I did find one gallery of logo designs for professional designers, which gave some great insight into some of the best designs out there.

There are many exceptions however. One of my favorite logos for a personal brand is by Kindra Hall, a professional speaker and story teller whom I met this year at Search Love Boston this past year. She keeps it really simple and to the point, but it comes across very professional and really drives home her name with a big “K.”

Some questions to ask yourself when considering doing a logo for your personal brand:

  • do you need a logo?
  • why do you want a logo?
  • is it overkill to have a logo?
  • who will design your logo?

There are a few options if you don’t want to use a logo, but still want a graphic representation. You can opt for an “avatar” of yourself which is basically an artistic illustration of yourself. You can also just choose to do your logo in a specific font. It is your call, but my advice on this is similar to my advice on everything in this guide: if you are going to do it, standardize it.

Your Headshot

Mr. Dan Shure a very well respected online marketer from Massachusetts stated “your headshot is like the logo of your personal brand.” I really could not have said that better than myself. He also wrote up a great guest post about taking a headshot with an iPhone. Very well done, in fact his post does a great job of summing it all up. I do have a few

Don’t skimp on the headshot. I represent quite a few personal brands and many people will give excuses for not getting a headshot done:

  • I hate the way I look
  • I just changed my hair color
  • I want to wait until XYZ
  • I can’t afford a professional headshot

There are also many different types of “head” shots. You can go with the traditional from the shoulder up or from the waist up. You can choose a neutral background, blurred background or something specific like an “at work” background with your desk in the background. A headshot can convey many different feelings, from friendly, to professional, to confident. Examples include:

Here is my advice on headshots: if you are trying to identify yourself as a “personal brand” then you must have one. People are going to Google you. Do not let Google decide what image shows up when doing a search for your name. Always be in control of your search engine results page.

One last word on headshot: so you already have a professional headshot right? When was the last time you updated your headshot? 3 years? 5? 10? You should definitely have a new headshot taken at least every 2 years, especially if your goal is to personally brand yourself online.

This is probably some advice I need to take myself, as I haven’t gotten a new headshot in years, so yea I gotta get on that 🙂

Grammar, Voice, Tone, Yadda Yadda

Many people overlook this section, but it is really important especially if you are a blogger. It is even more important if you do video blogging, podcasting, or other types of media where you speak out loud.

Personally, I like to keep my articles casual and conversational. I like to keep things really casual, I might even intentionally use some incorrect grammar to drive home a point that I’m trying to make. I try not to make spelling mistakes although I have been known to make errors from time to time.

Now, don’t take this too far. Don’t start using so much slang and improper grammar that it comes across unprofessional. Unless of course your target audience goes for that. There are so many different options. Back in the early 90’s on BB’s and other dial-up communities and before blogging people would talk in “31337 speak” or “leet speak.” It was totally acceptable amongst that crowd of teenage hacker geniuses. If you came in there speaking proper you would be really out of place.

In short: know your audience. Blog / write / speak the way that your audience does.

Social Media

It is imperative that your style standards are used in your social media. When it comes to a personal brand, this is how a lot of people find you in the first place, so often times it is their first impression of you.

I’m going to use Matthew Woodward again because he’s done such a great job of his personal branding. If you look at his Twitter page, even the color of his hyperlinks etc match his main brand colors on his website:

This was very intentional on his part, and really helps you actually “feel” his brand whenever you visit one of his properties. Matthew really takes this to an extreme with his hot pink and light blue colors, so you don’t have to go crazy like he does but it is important that you standardize your look and feel across all social channels. At the very least if you don’t want to heed this advice: keep it neutral.

Using Kindra Hall again as an example from above, she takes a much more neutral, yet consistent approach. She uses her logo in all of her social media profiles, but keeps all of her colors and other details somewhat muted.

The fine details

There are many other aspects of personal branding that could be attended to if you chose to do so. For instance, URL shorteners can be branded according to your personal brand. Take my good friend and former Elite Strategies SEO professional Luiz Centenaro. Luiz uses the URL shortner http://centena.ro to shorten all of his URL’s on social media.

 

This fine detail adds a lot of validity to his personal brand and is really a nice touch that a lot of people can appreciate.

Another fine detail that a lot of people implement is a favicon. For me a favicon is really mandatory but how far you choose to take it is up to you. Paul Shapiro an old bloke of mine uses his headshot as his favicon.

 

The great thing about favicon’s is that they are visible even when the tab isn’t active. So for instance if you navigate away from your page you can still see Paul’s beautiful bearded face:

There are many details you can attend to as time goes on and your personal brand evolves. There are people that casually work on their brand and others that pay attention to every last detail, right down to the permalink / URL structure.

I will end with this piece of advice, which is something I’ve echoed several times within this post: keep it standardized and consistent. If you are going to experiment, don’t do it on a live property or website, do it on your own computer.

Thanks everyone for reading! You can hit me up on Twitter for more questions, I am also an avid SEO blogger on our company website. Thanks!

Using Ten Words When One Will Do

When it comes to writing quality content it doesn’t matter if it’s sales copy, informative writing or random musings on a blog, it should be easy reading! Reading online shouldn’t be a tedious task.

Personally, if an article (no matter how interesting its title) starts like a rocket science manual, I’m out of there! By all means, switch up your vocabulary! I hate to read posts where a blogger doesn’t know a different word word for ‘awesome!’ But stretching out a word count by fluffing up the content is annoying.

Concise content makes for quick reading, ideal for the busy workaholic society we live in.

But…but longer content tends to rank better right??

Yes. There is correlation between the length of the content and how well it ranks.

Longer content is correlated with better rankings
Source: Hubspot

But you should know, I’m exaggerating with the title of this post, in complaining about ten words where one will do.

What I am getting at is that bloviating and using big words to fill up space does not correlate with better rankings.

If possible don’t be a writer who uses two words in place of one.

Of course I am not saying that you just cut out all of the fun and colorful words you can add to make an amazing sentence…would make for bland writing. But there is a fine line between ‘concise’ and ‘bland’ content.
So…want some examples?

Unnecessary adverbs and adjectives

There’s a time and a place for adjectives and sometimes they just sound out of place and long winded when read out loud.

“Verbosity kills curiosity. Don’t drown your message in a sea of words.” – Brad Shor of Straight North

Take the sentence, “He was an incredibly intelligent fellow but had an extreme lack of common sense.” When read out loud is lacks punch and crispness. A revision to, “He was an intelligent fellow, though lacked common sense,” is easier reading. That’s a 14 words vs. nine words.

Unimportant Information

If you’re writing an article on a President’s proposed health reforms, you would want to let your readers know what the changes are, how they would be affected by the changes and the obstacles the President faces. While it’s easy to wander off on a tangent at times, writing about their educational background or going into too much depth over the history of health in the US fluffs the article up and takes away from its point.

Use Short concise words
Great advice from Konrad Sanders of The Creative Copywriter

After writing, read out loud and be critical. Ask yourself what the point of each sentence is and if you can’t find a purpose of a sentence, delete!

For sale: baby shoes, never worn” Sentences should be long enough to communicate and no longer.

Repeated Information

Duplicate content

Sometimes we repeat ourselves without even realizing we’ve done it! Even if you’ve worded it differently, the same point or fact made twice (even at opposite ends of an article) is just more words than necessary!

Don’t forget WHY you are writing the content in the first place!

As fresh content” or just a byproduct of consistent messaging aimed at businesses to “produce quality content”. But the reality is that content has to be WORTH saying! Content for contents sake is a quick way to make your blog into an exercise in futility and no matter how much you work on your copy it will be a much harder process if you don’t actually have anything to say!

Squeeze Out More Words

Once you’ve cleared out everything you think you can, read through again (preferably out loud). Look for opportunities to tighten up your sentences in ways not described above. An example could be changing:
“Whenever the Jones family got news pets, the neighbour’s children always tended to take to them quicker than the Jones boys,” to
“The next door neighbour’s children always took to the Jones’ new pets quicker than the Jones boys did.”

Need some more pointers? Demian Farnworth of Copybot is a fantastic resource I reference for tips on writing blog content people will actually read.

“Focus your writing on your readers. Serve them with it. Answer their questions. Meet their needs. Help them do something.

Practically speaking, use second-person pronouns — e.g., you, your, and yours. This pivot in your writing will create a more personal touch with your readers”

I know I’ve barked on about concise content here, but this should never come at the expense of meaning. The idea of concise content is saying what you need to say as tightly as possible – not about cutting points out in order to shorten a piece. Think punchy, crisp and natural sounding content and you’re well on your way to great copy.

4 Tips to Help You Take Your SEO Strategy to the Next Level


Hopefully you already understand the value of SEO and what it can potentially do for your business (if you don’t know, then here’s a method for estimating potential organic traffic from SEO). Not only do the highest ranking pages across the web enjoy the most traffic, they also attract the most sales.

For businesses, high rankings also mean increased revenue because these websites get more clicks. A study done by Chitika found that the first search result for a keyword query gets roughly 33% of the total searches clicks alone.

In addition, roughly 64% of the traffic that a website receives comes from search queries. As a result, putting more effort into your SEO strategy will only help your business grow.

If you are ready to get better results from SEO, you’ll need to use some advanced techniques once you’ve mastered the basics. Here are 4 tips to help you take your SEO strategy to the next level.

Use Data to Target the Right Customers

In the same way that you use Google Keywords Tool for keyword data, you can also learn more about your potential customers by using social media. One way to do this is by using Quora in order to learn more about what your target audience wants and the topics that matter to them most.

First, go to Quora, then enter the primary keyword that you would like to target (e.g., teeth whitening). Then hit the “enter” button.

Then look at the result that has the most answers. These answers can be used to create high quality content that is guaranteed to attract the interest of your target audience.

You can also take advantage of this same technique by searching for answers on forum threads, LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups and more. As long as you make sure to answer the question with the content that you create, you will start to see a big difference in your search traffic and ultimately your conversion rate.

Create Better Landing Pages

A well-designed landing page can lead to significant numbers of leads and sales for your business. Unfortunately, many companies do not understand the vital role that well-optimized landing pages play in converting visitors to leads.

According to a study done by MarketingSherpa, roughly 44% of the clicks for B2B companies go to a homepage, not a landing page. While a home page is effective for telling people about your business, landing pages are how you actually start the conversation about your product or service.

If you want to drive conversions, you need to make sure that you have dedicated landing pages for your website and that it includes a headline, followed by SEO copy that is optimized for your keyword phrase and a call to action.

Psst! The real secret to fantastic landing pages is crafting a great call to action.

“A clear call to action gives direction to users and helps you achieve your business goals. Without a clear call to action your website is simply a brochure. Brendan of Gumpshen, a Belfast web design agency

You can also include a persuasive video that explains your proposition in further detail and includes testimonials from recent customers.

Optimize Your Content & Understand How Keywords Relate

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is a technique for indexing and retrieval that relies on a mathematical formula to identify the patterns that appear in a paragraph of text. While LSI keywords are NOT a ranking factor that Google looks at when determining the rankings for the pages of your website that type of thinking about how the words that are most relevant to your business relate to each other can lead to better quality content which CAN improve your rankings when you research them with longtail keyword research tools and of course should be considered when planning anchor text for your backlinks.

There are a number of tools on the web that are available to help you uncover LSI keywords for your main keyword phrase. Make sure to include these relevant keywords in your content along with your keyword phrase and make your content sound as natural as possible.

Don’t be tempted to over-optimize for any keyword phrases because it could result in a Google penalty. However, by using them carefully, you can have a major impact on your search engine rankings.

Find Long-tail keywords That Are Easier to Rank for

If you only target the keywords that your competitors are targeting, chances are that you are missing out on a lot of traffic that you could obtain simply by targeting keywords that are easier to rank for.

To figure out what these keywords are, use a keyword tool to analyze the live keyword rankings of your competitors. Live keywords are those keywords that your competitor is currently ranking for. However, these may not be keywords that they continuously target, which is what will give you the advantage.

By attacking your competitors live keyword rankings, you can increase traffic to your website and gain rankings for keywords that your competitors are not actively targeting.

Thanks to Brian Hong of Infintech Designs,a New Orleans based SEO & Web Design company for this article.

 

How To Give Your SEO Access To Your Google Analytics

New UI means that older screenshots that you’ve created to guide your clients to the Admin portion of Google Analytics to provide you with access are out of date. Here’s a GIF-tastic guide and screenshots for you to send your client so they can easily and quickly give you the required access.

Guide To Adding Authorized Users To Google Analytics

  1. Go to Analytics.Google.com
  2. Access the view you want to share
  3. On the left bar click on “Admin”
  4. In the left column click on “User Management”
  5. Input the email in the “Add permissions for:” field
  6. Click the Dropdown that says “Read & Analyze”
  7. Check off Edit & Collaborate if you want them to be able to make changes to your configuration. Check off Manage Users if they might need to add team-members or other people as well.
  8. Check the box for “Notify this user by email” to let them know they have access
  9. Click Add

Screenshot GIF Guide To Giving Analytics Access


Giving Analytics Access to Users Step 1
Step 1 – Go to google analytics, select the view to share, click admin, and User Management

Giving Analytics Access to Users Step 2
Step 2: Enter their email, check boxes for permissions to give, check off Notify by email, click Add.

 

Guide To Analytics Access Sharable Image

Z (In Store Visits)/ Y (Website Sessions) = X (Local Conversion Rate)

Solving the Conundrum of Organic Local In-Store Conversion

If you own a salon and you’re considering actually investing in legit SEO, how can you possibly know if it’s going to be worth it for your business? Just how many people visiting my site is going to represent an actual increase in the number of people coming in the door and making purchases? That’s where it gets rough.

How many sessions to instore visits?

There’s very, very few local service businesses even trying to keep track of how many clients they have vs. just counting their revenue from receipts. Even fewer are asking where people found them, recording that information and using it. It seems none of those unicorns are making those numbers public, so how can we find out what a “rough, general” conversion rate for local service businesses to in-store visits? I mean if you’re a virtual office, you will want to know just how many more people walking in the door to become tenants came from your investment in SEO. I asked some experts, and got SOME information…we’ll see if we can find that white whale!

[Thanks for all the experts who suggested other experts who might have an idea: Aj Kohn, Jon Henshaw, Mark Traphagen, Ian Lurie, Andrew Shotland, Darren Shaw]

Anecdotal & Personal Experience On Organic Local In-Store Conversion

“There are a lot of dependencies on this. We usually see 3-7% net conversion rate (i.e. 25% from landing page to call, 25% from call to customer / patient) from paid search visits in local, but organic is much more leaky.

That’s based on a few hundred clients, but it’s by no means statistically significant.” – Will Scott of Search Influence


“When I was at StyleNet, I only knew of 1 salon (out of ~ 5000) that seemed to do a good job of tracking this. The numbers they shared were about 100 visits to 1 new service client. At the time, we weren’t tracking calls & salon customers didn’t really use the contact forms on the salon websites. Times are alot different now but this was specific to your salon industry example. My experience was in 2010 but it looks like the studies are old too: 2013 & 2014.” Ross Jones of 2TheTop Design

Relevant Data & Studies On Converting Visits To Your Store

There are some conflicting but generally “directionally consistent” data points and studies. These don’t answer your precise question but here a few generally relevant studies. Greg Sterling of Local Search Association

Have We Found The White Whale?

 

  • Mobile: If 50% of consumers visit a store after a smartphone search…
  • Desktop: “34% who searched on computer/tablet did the same [visited a store after a search]”

Unfortunately, Google keyword planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs and other keyword tools don’t provide mobile search traffic estimates for queries… so we’ll need to use the lower number of 34%.

We can use my rough process to estimate  potential organic traffic,  with [nashville spa] as a quick example of a local service/retail query: 480 people searched for the query monthly, if we approximate that #1 placement will get 35%, that’s 168 visits.  If we use the lower desktop percentage of 34% that represents 58 in-store visits in a month.

Challenges: 

  • In these studies were these retail purchases at shoe stores or service businesses? Is there a difference between the two?
  • How many of these site visitors already knew about the business and just used local searches to verify location? (Counter-point- If location information couldn’t be found would they have chosen another business? How many?)
  • Does that ACTUALLY reflect reality of DIFFERENT industries represented in local search/local service businesses? Anecdotes suggest “100 visits to 1 new service client. [1% conversion rate]” &  “3-7% net conversion rate (i.e. 25% from landing page to call, 25% from call to customer / patient) from paid search visits in local”… Can real local organic search REALLY be such a high conversion rate to instore visits??Do I have this totally wrong? Am I interpreting studies wrong, or are the samples of those studies outdated? What do you think based on these anecdotes and data?

10 Ways To Make Your Lead Generation Site Convert On The First Visit

Building a high quality site to generate organic traffic then capture and convert the leads you seek may sound pretty straightforward. The reality is most companies don’t go the extra mile needed to effectively do that. Low quality photos, confusing navigation and uninspiring calls to actions are just a few of the reasons visitors leave your site in the blink of an eye. Will they return? Odds are they’ve already found a competitor whose website outsold you.

After analyzing over 300,000 online sales leads, the team at Straight North learned nearly 85 percent of visitors convert on the first visit. The secret, then, to generating leads is building a site that converts quickly. To help you do just that, they’ve created a guide to the 10 factors that play a major part in converting first-time website visitors.

Presentation: 10 Factors That Impact Conversion

Find out why quality photos, easy navigation and irresistible calls to action made the list in the presentation below:

This intriguing conversion guide and it’s  insights were shared with me by Brad Shorr, Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, a Chicago SEO agency that also offers PPC and web design services.  I thought it would be worth sharing with all of you. Let me know if you have any questions or further insights to share on conversion.

SEO Counts For Nothing If You’re Haemorrhaging Customers At The Checkout

The ultimate purpose business isn’t to do great SEO, it’s to sell loads of products. And if your checkout experience on your website isn’t up to snuff, then no matter how highly ranked you are on Google, you’re going to miss out on some fat profits.

 

So what can businesses do to eliminate their checkout woes and not only drive customers to their sites but also get them to actually part with their cash?

Insert A Progress Indicator

When customers have to fill out form after form on your website asking them for card numbers, billing address, home address and their mother’s maiden name, they sometimes get a little worried that the process is never going to end. They wonder how many more pages they have to go through before they can finally convince you to dispatch whatever it is that they want.

This is why many companies are now trying to reassure their customers by including a helpful progress bar that persists throughout the checkout process. To do so, they’re turning to a Magento agency who have the tools to implement these features, making the whole experience of checking out a little less disconcerting for shoppers.

Get Rid Of The Sign-In Barrier

According to Kissmetrics, most customers don’t make it past the first stage of the checkout process. There’s a huge dropoff, they say, right when the transaction process gets under way.

A good way around this is to help a customer login faster by remembering who they are from their email address. It requires some clever programming tricks, but a lot of online stores have figured out how to enable customers to log in if they are returning, without getting them to re-enter their passwords and account details. Experts, like Christian Holst, say that 30 percent of users abandon their shopping carts when asked to register up front.

Match The Checkout With The Feel Of Your Site

If you’ve ever used Google Shopping to find a bargain, you might have found yourself on a less well-known shopping site to complete the purchase. Often in these situations, the price is good, but the checkout experience is a little unnerving. The reason for this is that the look at feel of the checkout area of the site is often very different from that of everything else because the retailer is using a third-party payment solution.

For smaller retailers, it’s much easier and cheaper to use generic checkout solutions from third party providers. But the evidence suggests that customers don’t like this. The transition from the “My Cart” page to the checkout page has to be seamless to retain customer trust. Any minor changes can cause alarm.

Ask For Shipping Information First

Some ecommerce sites jump the gun a little by asking their customers for their billing information first. Customers aren’t all that bothered about where their card is registered, all they care about is where their products are sent.

Of course, billing information is important to retailers, but they should leave requests for this until after the customer has entered shipping information. Retailers who align themselves with their customers’ priorities are better able to meet their needs.

Hopefully these tips will help you better convert your ecommerce visitors, because traffic that doesn’t help the bottom line is wasted marketing budget!

2016 Was Rough. 2017 Doesn’t Have To Suck For Your SEO Too

How’s your business doing?

Ideally, you should be asking yourself this question as the new year closes in on you. Ideally, your business will be doing well! Hoping to build on a good 2016 and push off into 2017 in the right way, with the thinking that you can better your goals and push your business further than ever before!

But the reality is that not everyone is lucky enough to be that optimistic. 2016 may have hit your business as hard  as it has kicked the general populace.

The good news though is that the internet has an enormous amount of tools you can use. You can promote and market yourself with social media. You can seek advice and help. You can search for anything in the world.
Searching, it’s pretty much why the internet exists, right? Searching might be the key to your 2017 in business, no matter the results of your 2016.

People aren’t opening bulky books of yellow paper, leafing through alphabetically and choosing to call a business based on nothing but a hope and a praryer. and you will too if you stick to the practices of the 20th century. There are at least twenty places you need to be listed online right now. Register your business, it’s details, and services across the net and make sure you are seen in the areas people are looking.

Being seen is the biggest reason you should be using the internet, other than selling your products or services. Think about it. If nobody notices your business, how can they buy your stuff? They can’t. Get seen, make sales.

So, once your business is registered at city hall, it’s time to take a look at search engines. People should be finding your business when they look for it, but what more can you do? Ideally, you want to position yourself to become the answer to a question. When people search for answers, they will find you! In a perfect world anyway. But, when there is a will, there is a way!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is where you can fight your way to the top of the search rankings, so you are seen before others. The higher you are, the more web traffic you’re going to get. Weaponize your website with keywords to become the name on the tip of your customer’s tongue and don’t be afraid to seek help when you need it.

Businesses like CandidSky or consultants like me can step in and get you up and running.  Of course, none of this is going to change things for you and your business overnight. These changes and methods will take time, but as long as you’re dedicated to them and see the internet as the tool it can be, you’ll be there before you even realize it.

Construction

Also, never think you’re going to be finished. There are always improvements you can make to your services, website and marketing. This isn’t something that will end unless your business does – so keep pushing forward and finding new ways to make your business matter to people.

Outreach For “Boring” Industries

Updated: 11/9/2016
I was recently asked to contribute to Ahref’s monster expert roundup that ended up with 90 SEO experts contributing! It’s worth the read!

I thought I’d share my own response to the prompt:

1) Please tell us about your favourite “white hat link building strategy that scales”.
(What makes it your favourite one? How to execute it properly?)
2) How do you scale it?
(What tools do you use? Where do you hire people to scale it?)

Building Links For Boring Industries

People often think that building links is difficult in “boring” industries. However, there is a benefit to working for clients who’s peers and competitors are not at the top of their online marketing game. I’ve worked in plenty of boring niches:  First time mortgage preapproval guide,  Conference Center,  hunting decoys and more.

A perfect example for being creative came from this idea I had for a Houston steel door company I’m working with on their marketing that could apply to other “boring industries” like a cleaning servicehome care services or driving limos.

Leverage Your Non-Text Content

Build resources that go beyond basic informational content. Of course, you’re likely familiar with how to create great infographics, like this one on moving to St. Petersburg, but one of my favorites is making photo galleries readily available and easy to cite. Home services companies are a great example. With Tennessee Contracting & the Nashville roofer for example, I made it a priority to offer tons of detailed photos of metal roofs in a variety of colors and types of buildings. Then we reached out to pages like  that mentioned “metal roofing,” but didn’t offer their readers a good photo to illustrate what they were talking about.

standard-metal-ribbed-panel

If you go this route, it’s important to make it clear on gallery and photo pages that the photos can be freely used in blog posts and other online content, so long as the user links back to the page of the site where they found the photo. Giving them an embed code box beneath the image is another great way to encourage this.

Leverage Your Product/Service’s Benefits For Links

One of the benefits for building to utilize steel doors is an improvement in fire safety. So that opens so many possibilities for links and visibility!

Let’s open up BuzzSumo to find some of the top influencers when it comes to fire safety.

Buzz Sumo For Firesafety

From here there are a couple of different paths you can take to turn that concept into links and social shares here’s my favorite way.

Come up with a “question” you want to get answered about fire safety. Then you do need to dig for some contact information.

For NFPA, I went to their Press Room page to get their media email. For the question I came up with this:

“We’re putting together some resources for our metal door customers about fire safety, specifically around steel doors but general research and statistics could help too, can you point us to your best resources or have a quote from one of your officials that we could include?”

Once they reply with a resource, keep that conversation open with a thank you, and let them know you’ll share that resource when it becomes available online.

Repeat this process with other influencers until you have sufficient content to make a page, post or infographic and then share it with the contributors, who now have a vested interest in sharing it.

Since they’re not direct competitors, they will not feel anything holding them back from sharing it and often mentioning it on their own site or blog as well.

Remember to tailor your question’s difficulty and focus based on your target, and the less sophisticated the website the less sophisticated your question should be!