SEO & PPC: How Advertising Data Can Improve Your Organic Results (and Vice Versa)

My Post (1)When marketers are looking at different marketing platforms and channels, they may be looking at them in isolation — for example, seeing SEO as being completely separate from social and entirely separate from PPC advertising. 

This is not necessarily wrong, but it is not entirely correct, either. SEO and PPC campaigns can be intricately linked, and though they function completely separately, the data from your PPC campaigns can actually help you bolster SEO results and vice versa.

Knowing how to leverage advertising data for organic results and organic data for your PPC campaigns, however, is crucial; there is overlap, but there are distinct differences to keep in mind, too. To help with this, we are going to take you step-by-step through the process of finding the data you can use to advance your campaigns on both marketing platforms along with sharing some advice from top experts in the field.

Enrich Your Keyword Lists – Both for SEO and PPC

Keywords play a crucial role in both SEO and PPC (Google Ads and Bing Ads). While you want to do initial keyword research separately, you will want to take what you learn from your current existing campaigns to adjust their paid or organic counterparts.

You will, for example, want to leverage your advertising data to find the most profitable keywords in your SEO campaigns. These keywords are clearly capable of bringing in high-value customers that will generate revenue, so consider giving them higher importance in your organic SEO strategy.

To track your website’s daily rankings for a new set of target keywords, use SEMrush’s Position Tracking Tool. You can set your targeting to watch any specific geographic location and any device type, including mobile phone, tablet, or desktop. – Read more

10 Bad Links That Can Get You Penalized by Google

My Post.pngEvery SEO professional worth their salt knows that links (along with content) are the backbone of SEO.

Links continue to remain a significant ranking factor.

What happens when you get bad links on enough of a scale to harm your site?

Your site can get algorithmically downgraded by Google – or worse, you get a manual action.

While Google maintains they are good at ignoring bad links, enough bad links can harm your site’s ranking.

This guide will explain 10 different types of bad links that can get you penalized, and what you can do about them.

1. Press Release Links

Press release links were popular about 10 years ago.

These links were super easy to get.

All you had to do was write a press release and syndicate it to hundreds of press release distribution sites.

You’d quickly get hundreds of links.

Like any SEO tactic that worked well, it got abused.

Now, Google considers press release links a link scheme because these are so easy to manipulate.

You especially want to avoid any press release links that rely on over-optimized anchor text targeting your main money keyword.

If you absolutely must have a website link due to factors beyond your control, use naked URLs or branded URLs as your anchor text, and use only one link from the contact area of the press release.

2. Discussion Forum Links

To be clear: not all forum discussion links are bad.

If a link is coming from a good quality site, an established user, and the link itself is not manipulative or spammy, you probably will want to keep it.

However, if you have thousands of links coming in from foreign discussion forums, they are all low-quality spammy links, and they continue to come in, you may want to disavow them.

Any links that look spammy won’t do you any favors in Google’s eyes.

3. Links From Foreign Guestbooks

Links like these are also manipulative.

Links from foreign guestbooks can be placed manually or with the aid of an automatic program.

Enough of these at scale can cause ranking drops.

When in doubt, disavow.

4. Many Random NoFollow Links

Think you can fool Google by randomizing your footprint just enough so that your spammy link building will go undetected?

Think again.

It is exceedingly difficult to create randomized footprints that you think Google will not detect.

If you are using an automated program, it is increasingly likely that Google will find the footprint of that automated program, unless it is truly random.

Why? The simple act of nofollowing the link is a footprint.

Thousands of links from many different sites that are all nofollowed is an indicator that something spammy is going on.

5. Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

PBNs used to be a great way to build links to get rankings.

You could randomize your footprint and all would be well.

You could continue to see significant gains from using these techniques.

Not anymore.

Now, PBNs on a massive enough scale can tank your site and cause it to lose organic traffic.

Google is able to detect – and punish – most PBNs.

Some PBNs may take longer to spot than others, but eventually Google will catch on. – Read more

A Content Audit Unlocks the Keys to Rank Number One on Google

My Post - 2019-11-27T112532.821.pngHave you ever tried one of those letter search grids that has an “M” in every row and column, and you have to find the one “N” somewhere among the “M”s?

You look and look, but all the letters look exactly the same. Once you find the “N” once, it’s ultra-easy to find it again.

That is exactly the problem I encountered when I worked with one of my B2B clients that offer metal stamping services. Would you believe that the words “metal stamping” get lots of hits locally and nationally?

My dilemma was how to come up with a way to get “metal stamping” to rank in the top results for the main service he offers. If I were to be successful in this, in addition to increasing the keyword ranking and traffic, my results would increase his brand and authority for metal stamping.

In starting this project, I decided to focus on creating a pillar page that would target the keywords “metal stamping.” My initial keyword research looked like this:

Read more

Abandoned Cart Email Offers: What We Learned from 1,000 Ecommerce Brands

My Post - 2019-11-27T111201.318.png

Cart abandonment is a huge issue in ecommerce. So cart abandonment emails are often a top revenue generator. And discounts and offers within those emails are proven tactics for increasing conversions.

All standard wisdom. But we wanted to see how ecommerce brands deployed their offers. Are “best practices” for offers prevailing? Which strategies are brands using—or neglecting?

Here’s what we did:

  • We chose 1,000 direct-to-consumer ecommerce brands.
  • We abandoned 1,000 carts.
  • 68% of those brands sent cart abandonment emails.
  • We received a total of 1,233 individual cart abandonment emails.

We assessed these brands’ offers and compiled the data. Here’s what we found, and what we think about it.

1. Most brands don’t include offers in abandoned cart emails.

percentage of brands that send cart abandonment email offers.

Nearly two-thirds of ecommerce brands don’t include offers in their abandoned cart emails. Why?

Many customers will return and complete their purchase without the incentive of an offer. So, simply sending an abandoned cart email (without an offer) may increase your revenue. Some companies may have found that fewer full-price cart recoveries generated more revenue than a higher volume of discounted sales.

It’s also possible that brands that do send abandoned cart emails have measured their performance only with or without a generic email, never optimizing the abandoned cart emails themselves—a pretty limited approach to “testing.”

Either way, you should run your own tests and find out if offers are the most profitable way to go. If including an offer reliably increases conversions, you can always tailor your offer to fit your profit margin and maximize ROI.

2. Companies backload offers in abandoned cart email series.

abandoned cart offer timing.

The general trend toward using offers as you get deeper into the cart abandonment series reflects companies’ belief (or, hopefully, data) that many of the “easy” recoveries will occur without an offer. Some customers need only a reminder, not a discount.

The later emails target the most stubborn cart abandoners, operating under the logic that an incentive is necessary to get the sale. If you send a reminder email without an offer as your first cart abandonment email, you save your discounts for customers who need the incentive.

The nearly 50-50 split between brands that do or don’t send an offer in every cart abandonment email is skewed lower by the first email, for which only 18% of companies include an offer. – Read more

 

7 Thank You Page Examples That Can Boost Visitor Experience in 2020

My Post - 2019-11-27T110622.266.pngTypically, a thank you page loads after a conversion has happened on your website, making it a step beyond your conversion funnel.

But, have you ever given a thought that even this very page can get you repeat conversions?

For most marketers, a thank you page is nothing more than a means to express their gratitude to their users for making a purchase on their website or subscribe to their newsletters. But, a thank you page has the prowess to encourage prospects to take many other desired actions on your site than just accepting your acknowledgement. They can give your business countless conversion opportunities and even increase revenues manifold.

If there’s one page that can serve as a goldmine for your website – it’s not your product pages or the check out page, rather… it’s the ‘thank you’ page.

In this blog, we’ll walk you through some smart thank you page examples to extend your conversion funnel beyond the Thank You page and scale up your conversion rate.

Smart Ways to Use your Thank You Page

Ask for Referrals

Getting new business onboard is often an ongoing challenge for most online businesses. But there’s one smart channel which, when utilized properly, can turn into a great source of revenue: referrals. As per a survey conducted by Ogilvy, nearly 74% of people identify word-of-mouth as one of the primary key influencers in their purchasing decision. Hence, it’s no surprise that most businesses invest a lot in asking customers to refer them to their friends and family.

For example, Hubspot uses its thank you page to get more referrals from its customers.

thank you page for hubspot.com lead generation

The company believes that when a customer is content with their services and is ready to sign up on their platform, they’ll be more than happy to refer them to their peers.  – Read more

How to Choose the RIGHT Keywords to Optimize For

My Post - 2019-11-27T105615.798.pngKeyword research and targeting have been around as long as SEO. We all do it at some level.

While context and quality of content are what really matter, we have to at some level determine what keywords or topics we want to be well-positioned for.

There are a ton of great tools, resources, and processes for doing keyword research.

But no matter how good the keyword research process is, there’s always a risk of choosing to target keywords and topics that require a lot of effort and don’t produce the results we want.

Ultimately, we need to be careful to choose the right keywords to optimize for.

We can do so by taking an approach that includes specific principals to keep us on track for the right targeting for our organizations.

1. Identify Goals

It might seem like it goes without saying, but we have to start with goals for any organic or paid search effort.

Knowing ultimately what we want to accomplish at a business or organizational level and working backward to determine how search influences it is our starting point.

If we want to grow our leads, sales, engagement, or other metrics, by a certain amount, we can determine how many search conversions and traffic we need.

To get the traffic, we have to be found for specific keywords and topics.

2. Ask Stakeholders

With goals in place, we’re ready to start finding the right keywords.

To generate a seed list, we can gather insights and ideas from stakeholders like salespeople, other parts of the marketing team, the C-suite, customers, and prospects.

Get input from stakeholders of what they would search for to find your business, your products, your services, or your content.

At this point, take anything they give you. We’re not yet at the step of filtering or judging the validity or accuracy of what they’re telling you.

Capture and build out a list of what you’re hearing and learning.

3. Analyze Competitors

We never want to assume that our competitors are doing it right or well.

However, we have to take a look at what they are targeting and doing.

  • Are your traditional competitors outranking you?
  • Do they offer the same products, services, or content?

Then, chances are there is something to learn from them.

Review:

  • Their title and meta description tags.
  • The topics of the pages on their site.
  • What they are talking about and are positioned for prominently in search results, social media, PR, and beyond.

Create a list of what topics, terms, and phrases you’re finding competitors focusing on that align in any way with your organization and content. – Read more

How to use new Google Ads Combined Audiences

My Post - 2019-11-27T104515.007.pngCombine affinity, in-market, retargeting and other audiences to create personas for Search targeting.

Google Ads has started rolling out “and” logic to enable advertisers to build layered audiences for Search. With the new combined audiences option, you can create audiences (personas) by layering demographic, in-market, affinity or other audience targeting elements that are available in Google Ads.

How to get started with Combined audiences. To create a Combine audience, click to add a new audience from the Audiences page in the Google Ads UI. Then under Browse, you’ll see the option for “Combined audiences.”

You’ll then see the audience builder pop-up. In the example below, I quickly created a simple audience of parents with school-aged children who are in-market for water activity equipment and accessories. You can add multiple “Or” audiences as well as exclude audiences, such as current customers, for example. The “And” function here ensures ads are shown only to in-market parents of school-aged children.

You can combine any audience criteria with Combined audiences, such as detailed demographics, life events, remarketing lists.

Note that combined audiences must have at least 1,000 members for privacy reasons. Google will pause audiences that don’t meet that threshold automatically. Google may show you the audience estimate in the audience creation window, otherwise, you’ll be able to hover over the audience name after you save it to get the estimated size. Google provides the following information for the combined audience above, for example: Impressions (weekly) 100M – 500M. Estimates based on United States, English, All types.

Why we care. Google has obviously been rolling out and advancing audience targeting options for several years now, but the possibilities for creating and testing audience personas in Search with combined audiences takes things to a new level. Now, you can think much more deeply about who you want to reach and how you want to message them. As with other audiences, combined audiences can be set to Target or Observation.

How are they working? Digital marketing consultant Steven Johns was among the first to notice and test combined audiences. He shared early results for one test that showed 6% conversion rate for single in-market audience compared to 20% conversion rate for a combined in-market + demographic + exclusion audience. That’s pretty powerful. Happy persona building. – Read more

Reciprocal Links: Do They Help or Hurt Your SEO?

My Post - 2019-11-27T102703.866.pngUsing reciprocal links – sometimes referred to as “traded” or “exchanged” links – was a popular method of link building in the early 2000s but has decreased in popularity in recent years.

Reciprocal links are still a relatively common occurrence. They’re a natural byproduct of owning a website, after all.

However, the way reciprocal links appear on sites today is different from 20 years ago.

In my research for this article, I found an insightful link building study done by Ahrefs, which states – and I must agree! – that developing relationships through authentic outreach, and linking to sources without expecting anything in return, are the most proper and natural ways to build reciprocal links.

This graph shows that only 26.4% of the authority domains used in Ahrefs’ study are not using reciprocal links:

Reciprocal Links: Do They Help or Hurt Your SEO?

So, yes, reciprocal links are still quite common.

But the question still begs an answer: Do reciprocal links help or hurt your SEO?

What Are Reciprocal Links?

A link exchange occurs when an agreement is made between two brands to trade links to boost SEO and site authority by essentially saying, “you link to me, and I’ll link to you.”

In essence, a reciprocal link is a quid pro quo, or a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” situation.

Does this sound shady?

Maybe.

Is it shady?

It could be. That all depends on how – and how often – you’re using reciprocal links on your site.

In the third paragraph of this article, we linked to Ahrefs. The link sets us both up for a helpful, naturally occurring reciprocal link situation. Whether Ahrefs chooses to reciprocate by linking back to this article is entirely up to them.

Now let’s take a look at the other end of the spectrum.

Here’s an example of a shady link exchange offer, found on a site that exclusively hosts link exchanges:

Reciprocal Links: Do They Help or Hurt Your SEO?

Not very appealing, is it? – Read more

8 Tried & Tested Tips for Improving SEO & Developer Relations

My Post - 2019-11-26T182227.675.pngThe relationship between SEO professionals and developers is one typified by frustration and misunderstanding.

From an SEO perspective, it can be difficult to communicate the value and importance of search-related initiatives and to get them prioritized in development pipelines.

From a developer’s point of view, SEO can seem like a never-ending source of tickets and annoyance that delays them from delivering their work on time.

As web technologies become more advanced, SEO is becoming more technically sophisticated, which means it is increasingly important that we actively examine ways to work more harmoniously with development teams.

Over the past few months, I’ve been speaking with some of the most experienced and respected people in SEO and digital marketing to find out how they’ve built and nurtured relationships with development and engineering teams to achieve success.

In this post, I’m going to share some of the best insights from these conversations.

1. Heal the Wounds Left by Bad SEO Experiences

While a large part of SEO is now focused on meeting the user intent of searchers with high-quality content, developers and other teams may still have a lingering mistrust of SEO pros.

The days of keyword stuffing and bulk link buying are no longer seen as popular or sustainable SEO practices by most, but it may take time and relationship building for an SEO to win the trust of developers because of their prior experiences.

At a previous job, JP Sherman, Manager of Search and Findability from Red Hat, needed to gain the trust of developers who had been burnt by a bad SEO agency.

Rather than going into the business and making demands of the developers about what needed to be changed from an SEO perspective, Sherman made a point sitting down with the company’s developers to establish their common goals and put a plan in place to achieve these while overcoming shared frustrations with the website.

After a year of this approach, he managed to build a level of trust with the development team and turned an audience of skeptics into SEO advocates.

2. Involve Developers by Hosting a Hackathon

One novel way to get developers interested and engaged with SEO initiatives is by hosting a hackathon.

Polly Pospelova, Head of Search at Delete, organized a hackathon and invited the agency’s developers to participate.

The sole aim of the hackathon was to get a perfect score in Lighthouse for the agency’s own website.

The event was a massive success, as the developers were not only able to achieve a score of 100 in Lighthouse but this shared objective laid the blueprint for speed optimization work that Pospelova was able to roll to many of Delete’s clients.

Pospelova’s hackathon is an inspiring and original example of how SEO and marketing pros can work successfully with developers by working to achieve a common goal.

3. Embed Yourself in Your Client’s Organization

From an agency’s perspective, it often isn’t enough to simply provide a list of SEO recommendations off the back of an audit and expect these to be actioned by the client’s developers.

Without clear explanations and prioritization of your SEO recommendations backed by a close understanding of the client’s business, there is a fair chance your suggestions will get lost amongst other priorities.

Arnout Hellemans, Consultant at OnlineMarketThink, suggests making an effort to embed agency staff within their client’s organization for a fruitful long-term relationship.

He’s spoken with agencies who send their staff out to work from their client’s offices for a couple of days every now and again.

Rather than the relationship, largely existing only Slack and emails, the agencies are able to build much stronger relationships with their client’s developers by sitting with them and better understanding their priorities, challenges, and ways of working.

4. Pick Your Battles Carefully

While it’s clearly important for SEO pros to build strong relationships with developers, it can also pay to be strategic in terms of the recommendations that you push to be actioned.

It’s often the case that there are large numbers of actions resulting from an audit, but are all of them going to have the same impact?

Areej AbuAli, Technical SEO Manager at Zoopla, said it’s important to avoid overwhelming developers with too many recommendations at once.

She learned the hard way that it is beneficial to focus on getting the mission-critical items prioritized in development pipelines and actioned first before moving on to less pressing recommendations.

This approach helps to ensure that you’re maximizing your SEO impact, while not overwhelming developers with tickets of varying importance. – Read more

Why Your Thank You Page Is Costing You Money (& How to Fix It)

My Post - 2019-11-21T130525.166.pngThe experts tell you that a targeted user on Facebook clicks on your ad, downloads your lead magnet from the landing page, gets warmed up by your email sequence, and finally attends your core offer of a sales call and then you easily close the deal.

You figure the experts know what they are talking about – so you set up your funnel, launch your campaign and lean back in your chair figuring it is probably time to get fitted for a bathing suit so you can dive into your pool of money like Scrooge McDuck.

After a couple of days, you take a look at your ad metrics.

Great click-through rate, great CPA for ebook downloads – but no sales call bookings at all.

Users click your ad, download the lead magnet, and then just disappear into the abyss like Brendan Fraser’s acting career.

Your emails go unread and unopened.

This is frustrating. At best.

In an attempt to salvage the campaign, you decide to abandon the ebook funnel all together and just put the core offer of the sales call on the landing page.

Now users won’t even click the ad.

Your relevance score plummets, you pay more per click, and the email list you do have is full of prospects who either are uninterested in speaking with you or forgot your company altogether.

Your wasted money and time.

That pool of money you were thinking of diving into is just an empty hole.

The Problem: You Present the Core Offer at the Wrong Time

Your problem is that you present the core offer of a sales call at the wrong time in this funnel.

There are two basic scenarios in which this occurs:

You present your core offer as the lead magnet and users see it as a threat rather than an opportunity.

This crushes your click-through rate. A user scrolling on Facebook is unlikely to be so amped about hopping on a sales call that they will stop scrolling and book it.

This is especially true if they don’t know/like/trust your company yet (as a note, presenting a sales call as your lead magnet can work on Google Ads because it is a different medium).

You try to follow up via emails with your core offer but the user has forgotten about your business and you have lost all conversion momentum.

Your business might be the most important thing to you, but to the users, you are just another thing they clicked on. People have busy lives and sometimes as marketers, we forget that.

The Solution: Present Your Core Offer on the Thank You Page

If you’ve been thanking users and sending them on their way after they’ve downloaded your lead magnet, your “Thank You” page is costing you money. The only people who should be thanking you are Facebook’s shareholders.

Here is the simple solution: after a user downloads your lead magnet, present them with your core offer on the thank you page.

Users have already segmented themselves and expressed interest by downloading your lead magnet so you know it is an interested and invested audience.

Additionally, the thank you page is one of the few times you know that you have the users complete attention.

Why You Should Put Your Core Offer on the Thank You Page: Climbing the Yes Ladder

Putting the core offer on the thank you page leverages a know persuasion technique is called the “yes ladder.”

In a yes ladder, a person is asked to comply with a series of requests, starting small which gets larger upon each request.

With each request the user complies with, they are more likely to comply with the next compliance request.

As this applies to the funnel, the first compliance request of providing their email in exchange for the lead magnet is small, and because they have already complied with this request it’s much more likely for them to comply with the next, larger request (the sales call or core offer). – Read more