You and your client may be on the fence about allocating marketing or PR dollars towards a search engine friendly website and content. If that’s the case and you want to increase traffic, raise awareness, generate sales or leads on your website search should be a part of your digital strategy. Here are a few basic stats on why search is a valuable tactic:
By, Rosalie Morton (@rosaliemo)
Infographics took the PR and content marketing world by storm about a year and a half ago. In case you missed it, an infographic is an visually engaging illustration that brings data and facts to life, while telling a story. Essentially, infographics give jazz hands to what could be boring data. Very social media and blog friendly, they are also easy to share.
Here are a few ways to make sure your infographic stands out from crowd and generates the media attention it deserves.
1. A Story Line – Before you get started with design, you need to map out the story you want your infographic to tell. It needs a beginning, middle and end, supported with compelling factoids and data. One of the most successful infographics we created was this one for Air New Zealand, which tells the story of their 30-year anniversary of their Los Angeles to London route. From the amount of food consumed, to the number of miles flown and top pop songs, we covered the gamut in an engaging way (so engaging, it was picked up by leading travel blog, Jaunted). Here’s just a snippet:
My post from last week talked about some digital trends and tactics for 2013 but I didn’t really focus too much on SEO. I talked about a few paid search trends but I wanted to dedicate a full post to really cover where things are headed and the perception of search engine optimization.
Crappy SEO is Dead
With the rise of the social web and articles like this one pronouncing “The Death of SEO” one has to ask, is SEO dead? SEO is not dead. Legit, quality content driven SEO is a thriving marketing tactic that continues to grow and deliver a high ROI. What is dead is the crappy, spammy, deceptive “SEO” of the past. The days of buying links, spinning articles and “manipulating” the search results have been killed by Google’s Penguin and Panda algorithm updates. Even the term “search engine optimization” feels a little out dated as SEO is really about content marketing and less about trickery these days. At its core, the goal of a search engine will remain to deliver quality results in a user friendly manner.
Search is Still Young
Search engines are still really basic machines that rely on keyword relevancy and link popularity signals. This is there backbone and hasn’t really changed since the inception of indexing the web. As technology evolves we should see strides in a search engines ability to index other content. The future will bring better technology that allows a search engine to crawl images and video more efficiently. What about voice recognition? A lot can and will happen with voice recognition in the future and search will be impacted by these advancing technologies.
Social Influence & Personalized Search
The rise of the social web has made an impact on search. Social hasn’t taken a piece of the search pie but the pie has now been expanded to include social media. Social is here to stay and it will continue to integrate and evolve with search. The data associated with your social activity may influence future rankings creating a more personalized search experience. Google’s jaunt into G+ pretty much verifies this theory as user are asked to “plus one” websites that they like. Social is a validation technique outside of the web but even on the web more social based search activities may start to sway algorithm based searches. Site’s like Blekko rely on human editors and not algorithms in order to personalize and socialize the search experience. With users maintaining topic tags, search results can be more relative and accurate to the query.
I barely scratched the surface on where the industry is headed but these were some of the concepts that resonated with me that got discussed at SMX East. Search is still an abundant and growing industry and it will be interesting to see where it goes in the future.
A Google AdWords Case Study
For one of our clients the answer is yes, a $500 spend in Google AdWords did yield a 20% (19.5% to be exact) spike in traffic to their website. Here’s how it all worked out.
Our client, a local staffing agency knew that a large nationwide online retailer was looking to build a warehouse in the Richmond Virginia area. As this employer searched for staffing solutions via a search engine, our client wanted to make sure that their site and brand were visible in Google.
Our client’s website was not optimized for organic search and was not easily found through Google and ranked poorly. Knowing that this online retailer had an aggressive timeline we didn’t have enough time to do a full site audit and proper organic site optimization.
Time was not on our side, the instant nature and exposure that Google AdWords offers seemed to be a perfect solution. Google AdWords has many benefits but with a minimal amount of time and budget we knew that we could start generating impressions and visits to our client’s website.
Our first step was to do some brief keyword research and discover popular keywords relative to our content and to what the employer would be searching for. Not knowing where our client’s potential partner would be searching from, we created two main ad groups that used different location targeting parameters.
Our first ad group focused on a 50 mile radius of the Richmond area. Our goal with this group was to make sure that anyone in the area searching for “temporary staffing” etc. within that 50 mile radius would see our ad.
The second ad group we created targeted searches outside of the state of Virginia. Not knowing the geographic location of where our employer would be searching from we wanted to make sure that our ad would get displayed for a “temporary staffing va” search that originated from New York.
With our keywords researched, ad groups set up, landing page created and bids in place it was time to launch our ads.
Google AdWords Results
Our ads ran for 3 months and generated over 9,000 impressions and over 500 visits to our landing page. Click through rates were around 5% and our ads averaged a 2.9 position in Google. All good metrics in my book, when looking at the website’s analytics, traffic to our landing page from the ad’s counted for almost 20% of the site’s visits during this 3 month time period. So, yes, in the case of our client, a $500 spend in Google AdWords did generate almost a 20% spike in traffic.
AdWords Metrics Screenshot
Landing Page Analytics Screenshot
How SEO Can Enhance a PR Campaign and Take Home
Two Four Awards for Excellent Results
As digital marketing strategies evolve it’s not a bad idea to see if your PR content or PR campaign goals can integrate with other marketing channels. Traditionally you wouldn’t associate search engine marketing with PR but SEO has grown into a legit marketing channel over the years. With so many searches happening on Google we wanted to make sure that our PR message for our Maple Syrup client was getting exposure through search engines.
We did a full on-site SEO audit and execution for the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers back in early 2011. With the optimized site fully up and running we started to see some rather favorable results for the site. Seeing these increases in traffic from Google we thought we had a good case study on our hands for some award submissions. We submitted and won:
- Virginia Public Relations Awards
- PR News Digital PR Awards
- Bulldog Digital/Social PR Awards
- PR Daily’s Digital and Social Media Awards
Here’s how we did it:
PR Campaign Goal
Our goal was to raise awareness of pure Canadian maple syrup, showcase the product as versatile and innovative in cooking, and finally demonstrate that maple syrup is a healthy, natural sweetener and a good substitute for simple sugar.
The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers’ website was beautiful, consumer-focused and communicated its message about the health and culinary benefits of pure Canadian maple syrup. Though rich in content with an extensive recipe database and mouth-watering photographs for the maple lover, the website was nowhere to be found when searching for relevant terms on Google. While Canada accounts for 80% of the maple syrup production worldwide, the client’s website and our message was all but invisible. As the Federation entered a year with significant news to announce, We knew the website needed to be restructured, infused with a cross link strategy, married to the client’s Facebook and Twitter pages and optimized for strategic search terms.
In auditing the website’s content, we learned the site’s content, while informative, was not keyword rich making the site hard to find in Google. Not only was content not optimized for searches but some technical aspects of the site were not catering to the search engine either. Knowing that Google ranks web pages based on keyword relevance and popularity, we set out to align and restructure the content around keywords to enhance the website’s Google presence.
The first phase of planning was to determine which specific keywords should be used on the site. Google’s AdWords tool as well as Wordtracker was used to understand search volume and the strength and opportunity of particular keywords. Our goal was to raise awareness of pure Canadian maple syrup, showcase the product as versatile and innovative in cooking, and finally demonstrate that maple syrup is a healthy, natural sweetener and a good substitute for simple sugar. We targeted keywords that were relative to our content goals but had a high search volume and low competition.
With our keyword research in place it was time to think of how these keywords would influence our content and site structure.
- Restructured the site’s architecture and navigation to cater to specific keywords
- Rewrote the site’s content, page titles, urls, heading tags and page descriptions to be keyword rich
- Redesigned the homepage to feature more content and act more like a “dashboard”
- Restructured the interior page sidebars to highlight and cross link deep content
- Integrated social share functionality for Facebook and Twitter in order to grow our social backlink profile
With our plan fully executed and the site redesigned, www.purecanadamaple.com was re-launched on March 1, 2011. The results below compare the optimized site (March 1, 2011 to Feb 28, 2012) to the non-optimized site of 2010 (March 1, 2010 – Feb 28, 2011):
- Unique Visits increased by 355%
- Page views increased by 415%
- Pages per Visit increased by 18%
- Bounce rate decreased by 20%
- Visits to our site directly from Google searches increased by 485%
- Because of our keyword research and website restructuring, there are now 50 search terms that place the website on page one of Google
YouTube is the second largest search engine outside of Google and it receives over 3 billion views a day. Not only are these numbers impressive but users are engaged on YouTube with over 100 million people taking social action on the site every week. It’s pretty clear that video content is a necessity for any brand and from a sheer numbers standpoint it’d be ridiculous not to participate and market content on a network with these staggering statistics.
However, in a recent Econsultancy report, 40% of companies surveyed stated that “video search was in significant” and in a recent discussion at SMX East, I discovered that only about 40% of marketers are actually pursuing video marketing. It seems like YouTube might be the wild west for marketers and it’s pretty clear that opportunity exists. If you feel that you want to maximize your marketing opportunity with YouTube, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Make a Good Video
It all starts with the video and the concept behind the video. First, you probably want to do a little competitive research as well as some keyword research just to see where your concept aligns. If your concept can be transformed into an informative, instructional or entertaining video you just might strike YouTube gold. Keep in mind that first 10 seconds of the video need to capture your audience’s attention so avoid any lengthy intros or credits.
Get PR Involved
With a solid video created it’s time to get the PR team involved to start generating some buzz around the video. The PR team will be able to cover:
- Social Media Promotion – Leveraging the video on Facebook, Twitter etc. and targeting key influencers.
- Media Outreach – Depending on the video and where/if it fits within an overarching campaign, the PR team can pitch this content to the media.
- Community management – keeping up with the comments and users on YouTube and other social networks.
- Monitoring – Knowing who, what and where the video gets mentioned, linked or embedded off of YouTube is critical to the success of the video.
Get Search Marketing Involved
With the Social Media team pitching the video and generating buzz around it, the search team can now do the following:
- Video Optimization – Just as with Google, keywords can get researched and implemented for YouTube videos. Keywords should be found in the video title and description. Having a keyword rich and video that’s relative to the keywords will make the video easily found through YouTube search.
- Promote & Advertise – YouTube has a lot of different locations and options for promoting and advertising a video. Promoted videos can be targeted to users interest, topics, or get re-marketed to what previous viewers watched. If using TrueView advertising you pay only when viewers watch your video ad.
- Annotations – don’t go overboard with annotations but this is a good way to feature a specific deal or call to action and link people back to your site.
- Aesthetics – Keep in mind the branding of your YouTube channel as well as what thumbnail that gets selected for the video. These aspects will all influence a user’s decision to watch your video.
Just as with a website, on-site and off-site factors will influence it’s ranking in Google. The same goes for a YouTube video as it will need to be promoted off site as well as optimized for on-site performance. The combination of a SEM and PR will roll together nicely for ultimate video marketing success.
I just got back from the search marketing expo conference up in New York City and I wanted to share some of what I learned. The conference was great and I learned a lot, a ton of info got covered and my brain still hurts from the education overload. Here are some key points and highlights from the courses I attended.
The State of Digital Marketing
- As we come out of the recession ad spend seems to be growing exponentially. Google ad spend for 2013 is looking to have a significant jump compare to the last few years. Ad words campaigns have been expanded out to include branded terms. When times are good, brand awareness spend goes up and the focus on conversions lighten up.
- Ad retargeting is an effective marketing tactic and should be deployed
- Opportunity exists with video marketing, only 40% of businesses surveyed use video marketing tactics
- Allocate 5-10 % of budget for experimentation and testing
- Always have a measurable action on a website even if you aren’t selling product. Have a download form sign up etc
- Average cost per acquisition- $10 – Google lead, $4 Facebook lead, $2 Ad retargeting
- Television advertising only has a 4-6 week influence on paid search
SEO and the future of SEO
- SEO is an investment and needs to incubate
- A #1 ranking site in Google is like having a billboard in Times Square
- More marketers are getting involved in SEO. The 2012 search marketing expo was the largest to date
- SEO is a legit marketing tactic and not a gimmick or form of spam. A good SEO/agency will understand PR, marketing and social as well as have an understanding of content and technical SEO skills
- SEO isn’t dead, crappy, spammy manipulative SEO is dead
- SEO is a great channel for brand awareness
- Search is still really basic right now, the future of search will get better at indexing image, video and voice recognition
- Responsive design is the future, m. domains will no longer be supported in Bing
- Social and search will continue to grow and evolve together. Social is a great validation technique but links are still the #1 signal to a search engine
Google Penguin/Panda Issues
- If your rankings and site traffic has been hit by penguin or panda don’t contact Google and request the site back in for inclusion. Fix everything first, go through the site thoroughly and give Google full disclosure on what happened. Create a document that covers history and tactics used on the site. This document should contain a list of links, methods of content, dates of outreach for link removal and any links that have been removed
- Links are still the back bone of Google. Even with modern advances Google’s core is still relevancy and popularity
- Anchor text on back links needs to be evenly distributed between brand terms, keywords and general phrases. Needs to look natural
- Building quality links back to a website is tough and don’t be discouraged if you aggressively go after sites and don’t get a lot of back links
- Call the author instead of e-mailing when requesting a back link
- Plan for link building: List website assets, Research, Strategize, Schedule, Adapt
- Linkable content ideas: testimonials, product history museum, complete guide, glossary, badge/widgets, reviews
- Don’t: buy links, use article submission sites, link directories, reciprocal links, spin articles or link exchanges
Development and Markup
- Only about 1.5% of all sites on the internet are utilizing micro data/rich snippets. Using micro data will help provide a stronger semantic mark up for a search engine and give detailed info about your page that can get processed by a computer
- Micro data examples: Reviews, things to do, events, recipes, specials
- Site speed will influence conversion and UX on your website. Conversion rate goes up with a quicker site and bounce rate will go down. Slow site lose business
- Fast loading site formula: Good hosting, use a content delivery network, use some form of cache, have a low number of requests
- 1.0 – 1.5 seconds load time is ideal for a website
- Keyword discovery is an ongoing aspect of site optimization and not a one-time deal
- Look at your AdWords search query data to discover keywords
- 3 buckets of keywords that a site should have: informational, navigational and transactional
- 4 levels to a well-rounded keyword strategy: must haves, business relative, industry relevant, broad
A lot more got covered and I can definitely write a bunch more but I just wanted to provide some basic snippets of what I thought might be valuable to other marketers out there.
When trying to create content that’s friendly to both organic search and paid search it’s important that your digital strategy utilizes keywords from these three main buckets below. Each type of keyword has their own pros and cons but wrapping these all together in one solid keyword strategy will yield the strongest results.
Just as the title suggests these are very generic, unspecific terms that get searched for. Something like “Tennis Shoes” or “Digital Cameras” would be considered a generic term. When developing an organic search strategy we typically stray away from these terms as they are highly competitive and not specific enough to the sites actual content. However, if you are able to rank for a generic keyword your site should receive a decent amount of traffic from that term. Conversions for that term might be a little low as a user is hitting your site for a very generic overarching topic and nothing too specific.
When running an AdWords campaign its nice to integrate some of these generic keywords to make sure that every opportunity is covered. Due to the competitive nature of a generic keyword they will cost more per click. If the ad ranks well and receives a good Ad Score from Google, decent traffic might follow. Just as with organic search, once a user gets on the website from the search engine, conversions will most likely be low for this term.
All in all, generic terms are a tough decision to pursue and I tend to avoid them unless I have the right site with the right content and the right promotion behind it.
Broad Match Keywords
For me, broad match terms are the core of SEO. Terms like “Red Tennis Shoes” or “Canon T2I Digital Camera” will present a stronger opportunity and engagement than a generic term. Optimizing for broad match terms will provide good traffic with not as much competition because not as many sites are trying to rank for these type of terms. A broad match searcher has a specific item/content that they are searching for and optimizing for these type of terms will provide the strongest conversions.
All in all, broad match terms are right in the middle of things and are highly recommended due to moderate competition/cost and click through rate. A site that bases the majority of its content around these type of terms should perform pretty well.
Long Tail Keywords
The last of these three types of keywords to consider is the long tail keyword. Think of these as the sentences that get typed into Google. Something like ”how do I set the aperture on my Canon T2I digital camera” would be considered a long tail keyword. Long tail keywords might not be the biggest traffic drivers to your site but if you rank for a long tail term you will get traffic from it due to its specific nature and low competition. From an AdWords standpoint, these terms will be the most affordable out of the three keyword options discussed.
The meat of a strong keyword strategy will reside within the broad match keyword but long tail and generic terms should be integrated from both a paid search and organic search perspective to maintain a balanced approach to your search engine marketing campaign.
I have touted the powers of organic search and how SEO can leverage your clients initiatives but what about paid search? Can paid search help further your client’s message? Below are a few reasons why Google AdWords should make it into your Digital PR campaign.
(Unfamiliar with AdWords? Check out the video to the left)
Search is a Pull Medium
A user engages a search engine because they are actively looking for content. This simple yet core concept makes a huge difference compared to other advertising and digital mediums. Traditional ads and banner ads are a push medium that try to push a message to an audience. With potential visitors looking for content in a search engine, it’s necessary to be found where they are looking. It’s a pretty simple idea and it makes sense but this idea doesn’t seem to penetrate PR campaigns as often as it should.
Accurate Ad Targeting
Unlike traditional advertising, the targeting in Google AdWords can get really specific which is a huge asset. Having a wide variety of targeting credentials allows for accurate ad placement. This precise targeting ensures that you are delivering your client’s content to the intended audience. In AdWords you can target searches for specific geographic locations, languages, age groups, gender, time of day and mobile devices.
Set Your Own Budget
AdWords are Pay Per Click (PPC) so you only get charged when someone clicks on your ad. On top of this, you also have control over how much that click costs. Low competition terms can start around fifty cents per click and higher competition terms could be as high as fifteen or twenty dollars a click. You can control budget by how many different keywords you bid on, the more keywords you bid on, more budget will most likely be required. Targeting fewer more specific keywords is an easy way to lower expenses.
This concept of setting your own bids based around keywords combined with accurate targeting is a great way to get traction for clients who may not have extensive digital budgets.
Fully implementing an organic search campaign is a timely investment. Even once the site is “fully optimized” it can take weeks for Google to re-index and re-rank your website. When trying to act fast or run a quick promotion, paid search is nimble and can start delivering results as soon as it’s launched. Not only can paid search campaigns get launched really quickly but they can also get turned off in an instant. Paid search only works when you tell it to work, as soon as you turn of the campaign, clicks stop which will inevitably save some budget.
Support Organic Results
If your site is already optimized and it ranks well in organic search, paid search can be used to help “dominate the results page.” Having your brand in multiple areas of the results page will give searchers a greater opportunity to interact with your message. Some might think that this is overkill but this study found out that paid ads have a higher click through rate when an organic listing for the same site showed up. Ads had a lower click through rate when organic listings for the same site weren’t displayed. Not only is there a physical presence on page when organic and paid search are combined but this combination also effect in a user’s decision making process.