Don’t Stop SEO on Your Website Before You Read This

Read This Article Before You Stop SEO on your Website

For a lot of marketing and operations executives or financial controllers, it is normal to start questioning the recurring expense of SEO, especially if it has gone on for what may be perceived to be an extended duration.

Should you stop SEO efforts on your website? It is actually a bit of a difficult question to answer.

If you ask around, you will get different answers.

Most SEO pros will say “never”. Some may say “it depends”. Very few will say “aah, sure, but make sure you really think about it”.

It actually depends on several key factors.

Let’s take a moment to look at each factor and its possible consequences before you make any decisions about your stopping SEO campaign.

Search Engine Updates

Search engine algorithms are continually changing and evolving as search engines work to provide what they call “the most credible experience” for their users.

(What they mean by “credible experience” is that the search engines want to return the most relevant and real results for their users.)

Here is a video posted on Google’s YouTube channel. The video is from back in 2011, but it is still relevant.

You will see that Google made over 500 changes & adjustments (Google calls it improvements) to its ranking algorithms (the magical code-behind-the-scenes-that-determines-rank) in that year alone. That is almost 2 updates every single day! And these updates continue, day after day, year after year!

“How does this affect my website?” you might ask.

Unless you are directly and continually involved in the world of online marketing and SEO, you will probably not find out about these changes or updates as and when they happen.

On the other hand, most online marketing professionals work hard to keep themselves aware of changes and updates that affect search results. This way, they are able to adjust, modify and update their SEO projects and campaigns quickly.

Algorithm changes do not necessarily affect the rank of websites immediately. In fact, most changes may not affect the rank at all!

But, then again, some of these changes may have a drastic effect.

It all depends on what the algorithm updates are trying to accomplish. It also depends on how these changes and updates affect websites, including yours. It also depends, in lesser part, on how well your website is constructed, indexed and categorized.

It is generally agreed that your website should provide the best user experience possible with relevant and meaningful content that engages your user and keeps them on your website.

As a business owner, executive, managing director or decision maker, it is not your responsibility to keep on top of what is happening in the world of Internet marketing. Unless., of course, you really want to be.

It is the responsibility of your Internet marketing team if you have one in-house, or your digital marketing company or agency to keep track of such changes and updates.

By continually monitoring search engine ranking factor updates, your marketing team (in-house or outsourced) is prepared to adjust your SEO campaign(s) to make sure that your website continues to do well despite any potential negative effect as the result of these search engine algorithm changes and updates.

Return on Investment

Return On Investment Concept Graph

There are two type of ROI we need to consider.

The first ROI to look at is the number of leads your website generates, how many of these leads convert to prospects and how many prospects go on to become paying customers.

The second type of ROI is non-tangible i.e. it is not the number of leads, rather it is about the credibility of your business, organization, group or website – especially if you are trying to position yourself as a leader in your industry or sector.

Why does this matter? It actually matters a great deal!

If you say that you are a leader in your area of expertise but if you or your website does not rank in search results, do you not think that your credibility will be affected?

Ongoing SEO is important if you care about your organization’s overall credibility!

Let’s look at 2 examples.

Example 1

Conversion Funnel Leads Prospects Customers

Acme Corporation has projected gross annual revenues of $5,000,000 for 2012. Their average sale is worth $10,000 and based on that, they need to close some 500 sales in 2012 to reach that number.

Now, in their industry, the cost of each lead is about $100 and they typically convert 10% of the leads they generate. So, they will need to generate about 5,000 leads and at $100 per lead, their marketing cost will total $500,000 which is about 10% of their overall revenue.

They have established that they generate some 50% of their leads from the Internet. Based on this, they have allocated a budget of $250,000 for Internet marketing. Of this total amount, they have allocated 50% to SEO and the balance to other Internet marketing activities such as social media, content marketing and more.

Essentially, they have allocated $125,000 annually to SEO – a total of about $10,000 per month. As long as can generate at least 125 (or more) sales each month directly as a result of SEO, they will be good to go! 125 sales a month converts to 1,500 per year totaling $1.5M which is 25% of the gross revenues.

Example 2

Let us take a real life example. Let’s go to google.com and search for “cola beverage” or “cola drink”. You will fully expect to see Coca-Cola (or related websites) in the top 10 search results. If you did not, you would be pretty surprised.

Google Search Cola Beverages

Does Coca-Cola need to actually get lots of “leads” or “customers” from the web? Not really. So, this rank is more about credibility than anything else.

Similarly, take the example of “lawn fertilizer” – if you do not see the Scotts website pop up in the top 10 results, at least in the US, you may wonder. Again, this is about credibility.

Google Search Lawn Fertilizer

 

Remember, SEO is a strategic process – and therefore, it must be given effort, consideration, and time. Approaching SEO from a tactical perspective only is a mistake and will cost a significant amount of money with the potential of low return on investment (ROI). A detailed strategy will go a long way and will actually help you.

Pricing

There have been lots of changes in the SEO world over the last few years where the responsibilities of an SEO expert have evolved a lot and cost factors have increased accordingly.

And if your SEO campaign has been running for some time, it is likely that you may have been grandfathered into your SEO company’s pricing structure. And if that is the case, they will probably work with you on price as it would be in their (and your) best interest to continue the relationship.

So, before you stop your SEO be sure to look into current pricing – because, when you do go back to your existing vendor, or to a new vendor to re-start SEO (which is something that you will inadvertently need to do), there is a good chance that you will end up spending more, sometimes a lot more.

I can vouch for this.

Many of our customers have eventually restarted SEO. The longer they waited, the more time and effort it took to get their rank back up to where it was before they quit SEO.

Not only did they lose opportunity when their rank dropped, they now had to spend more money to regain rank.

Competition

Competition-21Sep15

 

If you stop your SEO efforts, do you think your competitors will “move” ahead of you on the search engines? Especially if your website is already ranking in the top 10 or top 20?

Absoultely.

Generally speaking, if your rank drops, your competition will probably move up in rank or replace your position and they will start to attract traffic that was meant for your site to theirs! It may take a few weeks to a few months but if your competitors continue their online marketing activities, they will retain and even gain rank.

And your leads. And your sales as well.

Realize that this “loss” is intangible. Because it is something that you are not going to be able to measure. This applies in both cases: whether you generate leads, or whether you wish to establish credibility or both. The number of leads you generate will slowly decrease and your rank will also drop. And that is something you will be able to measure and also feel.

So, stop SEO when your competitors quit their digital marketing initiatives. Your competition wants to make every effort to stay ahead of the game and it is quite unlikely that they will actually quit their SEO efforts.

Conclusion

It is best to evaluate the value and outcome of your SEO efforts, whether done internally or outsourced, before making a decision to stop.

Most companies do not arbitrarily stop their SEO efforts. Most will continue; some will divert funds into other digital marketing channels and others will increase SEO efforts to become more competitive and increase their presence on search engines.

I highly recommend that you candidly and openly discuss your digital marketing goals and strategy with your Internet marketing company. Take the time to have a frank discussion with your SEO team before making any decisions that can ultimately have a detrimental effort.

If you have stopped your SEO efforts, what has been your experience?

Paid Search and Social Advertising vs SEO

Paid Search & Social Advertising vs SEO

This question about using paid search and social advertising vs SEO comes up quite often when we are discussing web marketing strategies with prospective clients and customers.

A lot of people want to know whether it is better to invest in paid advertising (also known as pay-per-click advertising or cost-per-impression advertising) or in organic search engine optimization (SEO) where your website is naturally optimized for search engine rank over time.

Paid Search Advertising

Let us look at paid search advertising first.

Paid search advertising is the process of driving more traffic to your website by buying ads (paid listings) on search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, AOL, Ask.com and others as well as some second-tier systems, such as 7Search.

I prefer to call it “advertising” rather than marketing because you are in actuality advertising on search engines and social sites and your listings are generally displayed as Ads.

If you allow me to simplify the process, with paid search advertising, you select a certain number of keywords (from tens to tens of thousands), establish an advertising budget, set a cost-per-click or a cost-per-impression and hit start. Whenever someone searches for any of the selected keywords, in theory, your website should show up in the search results so that people can click through to visit it.

Paid search advertising has several immediate advantages. Here are a few:

  • You can get started quickly
  • You have full control over the budget
  • You have a good degree of control on the cost per click or cost per impression
  • You can schedule your ads on most search engines and social networks
  • You can target hundreds to tens of thousands of search terms
  • You can analyze and track your spending and tweak for best results

Paid search advertising can drive new traffic to your website quickly. And you can target hundreds to tens of thousands of search terms, which is something that is not possible with organic search engine optimization.

Paid search marketing is available on GoogleBing/Yahoo, and other search engines

If you were to head over to google.com and search for the term “auto loan”, you would see something like this (the exact ads served would depend on your geographical location and other factors):

Google-Paid-Search-Results-Auto-Loan

 

Similarly, this is what your ads would look like on bing.com (again, depending on your geographical location and other factors):

Bing-Paid-Search-Results-Auto-Loans

An additional benefit of paid advertising campaigns, especially on search engines is that they can help you fine-tune your keyword selections for organic search optimization. By measuring clicks, traffic stats, click through rates and conversions, you can make get more insight about what keywords may work best in organic optimization.

Note: A word of caution about paid search advertising

If you are uncertain, or unsure about how to set up your paid search marketing campaigns, you probably want to consider consulting an expert as there are lots of settings & options that need be tweaked and adjusted to deliver the best performance.

If you are not diligent in your settings, paid search marketing campaigns can cause you to burn through serious amounts of cash fairly quickly. So be careful!

Paid Social Advertising

Paid advertising is also available on the social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Pinterest. Each social network has their own version of paid advertising, and may offer one, or more advertising options.

For example, on Facebook, you can boost your posts, promote your page, send people to your website or increase conversions on your website among other options. And on Twitter, you can reach more potential customers or gain more followers.

Here is a screenshot that show a couple of paid ads on Facebook:

Facebook-Paid-Social-Advertising

And this is how paid ads appear on Twitter:

Twitter-Paid-Ads

 

Paid social advertising can give you additional visibility is a great way to promote your content on social networks.

Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is one of the most important parts of your online (web/internet/digital) marketing strategy. With properly managed SEO, search terms relevant to your business start to naturally appear higher on search engine results, leading to increased traffic. Assuming that your website is properly constructed and structured and has meaningful and relevant content, this can generate more leads and in turn, improve your bottom line. On top of that, natural or organic search engine rank leads to increased credibility, authority, and relevance in the mind of the customers.

Side note: the number of leads that convert to paying customers depends on the overall experience a visitor has on your website. Just getting increased traffic to your website does not automatically guarantee more leads, more conversions, and more sales.

Here is a look at organic results from Google for the term “auto loan”.

Google-Organic-Search-Results-Auto-Loan

Organic search results are based on the credibility of the website in the “eyes” of the search engine.  SEO does not happen overnight. Building “credibility” in the “eyes” of search engines is something that takes dedicated and consistent effort and should be done slowly and methodically. Search engine algorithms (the magical code-behind-the-scenes-that-determines-rank) are a well–kept secret and are constantly being updated: Google alone releases over 500 updates annually. Also, note that Search engine rank can and does change regularly, sometimes drastically, so you will need to keep a sharp eye on such updates. If in doubt, hire an SEO agency to manage your search engine optimization.

Paid Search & Social Advertising vs SEO

In reality, it is not about paid search & social advertising vs SEO. It is actually about using both methods.

For most businesses, one of the best ways to get maximum exposure on the Internet is to use both paid advertising and organic search engine optimization together, as in concurrently. The purpose here is to create the most visibility for your website online.

This immediately begs the question: why?

Here is a screenshot from Google showing both paid and natural search results for the same website for the search term “online presentation tool”.

Google-Organic-Paid-Search-Results

Note that prezi.com appears at the top of the page at #1 in the paid listings and also appears at #2 in the organic results.

Let’s think about this for a moment.

If a prospective customer were to see the same company twice on the same page, and that too “above the fold” (where content is visible without scrolling) do you think that person is more likely to click to view that website?

A combined paid advertising and organic optimization strategy will get you to stand more than using one or the other. A high organic rank, typically on page 1 of Google, is also a credibility booster.

If there is a downside to using both paid advertising and organic search, it would be these cost. So, if you are operating under a limited budget, it may be worth adjusting your spending so that you can allocate money to both SEO and paid advertising.

Caution

Avoid working with a company that guarantees #1 rank on any search engine, or guarantees results that appear just too good to be true. Use your best judgment before making a decision; make sure the agency you select is competent and make sure you ask to see results of their work – a solid portfolio of organic SEO projects with high rank for customer websites is one of the indicators of success. You can also see traffic stats, conversion metrics, and other such data.

What has been your experience with paid search and social advertising vs SEO? What worked better for you? Paid search and social advertising? SEO? Or Both?

You have a Brand New Website….What Next?

You have a Brand New Website....What Next?

When it comes to the Internet, visitor traffic is the lifeblood that powers lead generation and this, in turn, fuels sales and ultimately, impacts your bottom line.

The beauty of the Internet is its ease of access for everyone, however, people must be able to find your website on the Internet before they will become visitors! Remember, your website is your main source of leads and credibility…and it is one of about 600 million on the Internet. That is over half-a-billion websites.

For your brand new website to be found, it has to be visible in search engine results. And on social channels. And on mobile devices. And it needs regularly updated content.

So what can you do to get your brand new website in front of the right visitors?

Optimize it for Search Engines

Search Engine Optimization is a set of targeted activities that increases the popularity of a website on the Internet and increases its rank so that it can be found when people look for you. Your site must appear in the top 10 search results to be noticed – chances are slim that visitors will look at page 2, or beyond. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) focuses in strategically increasing inbound links (ones that point to your website) using carefully crafted tactics. How often do you go to page 2 to find what you are looking for? 

Be Social!

Don’t be Uncomfortable with Social Media. Social Marketing makes your website visible on all major social channels such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more, depending on the type of business and the target audience. Today, adults of all demographics are using social networks to connect with friends, share photos with family members, and – yes – recommend products to the people they care about. The latest statistics from Pew Internet indicate that 67% of all adults use social networking sites. Out of the demographic most likely to share content about brands online (moms, for the curious), 50% make brand recommendations through social networking on a daily or weekly basis, and 93% say they’re influenced by others’ recommendations. So in its most basic application, social media marketing is a must for businesses that want customers to recommend their product or service! Once you understand what Social Media is all about, how it works and how you can leverage Social Media, it will become a breeze! When it comes to marketing, Social Media no longer optional. It is an absolute necessity.

Here is a chart that depicts the rise of Social Media in the United States over the last 7 years:

You will find more statistics at Statista

As you can see, there has been a tremendous increase across all age groups.

Continaully Add & Update Content!

You invested money, time and effort into building your website. Don’t let it languish by the wayside. Your website is your main identity on the Internet. It represents you, your brand, your organization, your services and probably much more. Give it the time, the attention and importance it deserves. Keep the content up to date. If you have a blog, establish a blogging schedule and blog regularly and consistently. You can use your blog for almost anything that you want to share about your organization – latest updates, news, projects, reviews – all within reason, of course. If you have social presence, post regular updates! Keep in touch with your visitors and customers. 

Be Visual

Yes, we are a visual society and a picture is still worth a thousand words! Polls show that people would much rather watch a 2-3 minute video than read a page or two of text. Similarly, Infographics can take seemingly complex types of information and disseminate it is such a manner that it becomes easily understood. So play creative director and add relevant visual elements to you website, your blog, Remember, Images, Graphics, Infographics and Videos speak for themselves! 

Get a Mobile Website

If you don’t have a mobile website, you are losing potential customers! Mobile users today account for over 20% of the total searches conducted on the Internet and this trend is growing rapidly as more and more people gravitate towards mobile devices and if you don’t have a mobile-friendly (also known as responsive) website, make this a serious priority. Mobile devices include smartphones and tablet devices of all varieties and flavors. In fact, there are many people that rely solely on their mobile devices to stay connected!

Check out this graph – look at the tremendous rise of smartphone users over the last few years:

You will find more statistics at Statista 

Become Friends with Website Analytics Systems

Discover who comes to your website and what they do when they get there! There are many robust tools available so you can track your website visitors. You can slice and dice that information as you desire. It is important to track these metrics because this will reveal stuff that you probably are not even aware of. One of the best tools that is available for free is Google Analytics. Here is a snapshot of a Google Analytics Dashboard.

image

Once you start to measure and monitor, you will see how weekends, seasonal variations, holidays and other items impact visitor traffic.

So, what have you done to promote your brand new website?

7 Ways to Get the Most from Your Website

7 Ways to get the most from your website

If you rely on inbound marketing, then your website is probably one of your main sources of leads and credibility for your business. And therefore, the right kind and amount of visitor traffic is essential for quality leads.

In this article, I will show you how to get the most from your website.

There are over 1.1 billion (and counting) websites on the Internet and for your website to be found, it has to appear in search engine results. And on relevant social channels. And mobile search. Oh, it also needs to mobile device friendly.

So what can you do to get your website in front of the right visitors?

Make it Mobile Device Friendly

First and foremost, it is more important than ever to have a mobile-friendly website. To the point that Google published an official blog post about this where say that they will start to boost the rank of mobile-friendly websites in mobile search and at the same time, they may start to penalize websites that are not

You can make your website responsive (one that adapts to the display of the device that is accessing it automatically) or you can create a dedicated mobile website. A dedicated mobile makes sense in some cases; however the majority of people are going with responsive websites for ease of maintenance.

Mobile users today account for about 50% of the total searches conducted on the Internet and this trend is growing as mobile device usage increases. So, if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you are more than likely losing potential customers!

The following chart shows the tremendous rise of smartphone users from 2010 to 2015 and shows the forecasted number in 2020.

Statistic: Number of mobile users worldwide between 2010 and 2020 (in millions) | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

Optimize it for Search Engines

Search Engine Optimization is a set of targeted tactics and strategies  that work to increase the popularity of your website on the Internet and improves its rank so that it can be found when people look for you in search. Your site must appear in the top 10 search results to be really noticed – statistics show that visitors seldom look at page 2 or beyond.

How often do you go to page 2 to find what you are looking for?

Search Engine Optimization has evolved from what was link building and similar tactics to a much broader and deeper area of expertise that focuses on almost every single aspect of your website: construction & layout, speed, quality & relevance of content, mobile-friendliness, regular and ongoing content updates and much more.

Learn more about our approach to SEO.

In a nutshell, your website needs to regularly updated and continuously promoted so it can remain relevant in search.

Pay for Immediate Visibility

Paid search engine and social advertising enable you to get in front of your potential visitor almost immediately. With paid search and social advertising, you can start to drive visitor traffic to your website almost immediately while you continue organic marketing activities. Paid advertising is available on major search engines and on major social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. Paid advertising is flexible

Arnima - Social Media - Header

Be Social!

Don’t be uncomfortable with social media. Social sharing will gradually make your website visible on all major social channels such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more, depending on your business and target audience.

Today, adults of all demographics are using social networks to connect with friends, share photos with family members, and – yes – recommend products and services to the people they care about.

The latest statistics from Pew Internet indicate that 67% of all adults use social networking sites. Out of the demographic most likely to share content about brands online (moms, for the curious), 50% make brand recommendations through social networking on a daily or weekly basis, and 93% say they’re influenced by others’ recommendations.

So in its most basic application, social media marketing is a must for businesses that want customers to recommend their product or service! Once you understand what Social Media is all about, how it works and how you can leverage Social Media, it will actually become a breeze! Remember, when it comes to marketing, Social Media no longer optional. It is an absolute necessity.

Add & Update Content Regularly!

Update-Update-Update

You invested money, time and effort into building your website. Don’t let it sit idle! Maintain it. Update content regularly. Make sure there nothing is “broken”. Upgrade technology regularly. Keep it secure from hackers and exploiters.

Your website is your main identity on the Internet. It represents you, your brand, your organization, your services and much more. Give it the time, the attention and importance it deserves. Keep the content up to date. If you have a blog, establish a blogging schedule and blog regularly and consistently. You can use your blog for almost anything that you want to share about your organization – latest updates, news, projects, reviews – all within reason, of course. If you have social presence, post regular updates! Keep in touch with your visitors and customers.

On a side note – we allowed our website to stagnate for 3+ years. Here is an article that highlights 11 Lessons Learned When We Did Not Update Our Website for 3 Years

Be Visual

A picture is still worth a thousand words! Polls show that people would rather watch a short video than read a page or two of text.

Similarly, Infographics can take seemingly complex types of information and disseminate it is such a manner that it becomes easily understood. So play creative director and add relevant visual elements to you website, your blog and web pages. Remember, images, graphics, infographics, and videos speak for themselves!

Become Friends with Website Analytics

Discover who comes to your website and what they do when they get there! There are many robust tools available so you can track your website visitors. You can slice and dice that information as you desire. It is important to track these metrics because this will reveal stuff that you probably are not even aware of. One of the best tools available for free is Google Analytics. Here is a snapshot of a Google Analytics Dashboard that show a basic graph of traffic for the first 6 months of this year.

Arnima Google Analytics Traffic Snapshot

Once you start to measure and monitor, you will see how weekends, seasonal variations, holidays and other items impact visitor traffic.

What have you done to promote your website?

Pitfalls of Cheap SEO & Social Media Labor

Pitfalls of Cheap SEO & Social Media Labor

Just wanted to share a blog post that appeared last week on Search Engine Land that talks about the dangers of cheap Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Expertise.

This is something that several of our customers have already pointed out before they came to us: they experienced search engine penalties, loss in rank and being blacklisted and ultimately, loss in revenue due to reduced quality traffic.

We unashamedly agree that cheap SEO can (and will) lead to problems and this is not something to be taken lightly – when it comes SEO, you really do get what you pay for. In this case, quality far supercedes quantity!

Have you experienced any such “pitfalls”?