How Good Design Can Decrease Bounce Rates and Raise Credibility

By Jessica Bates , in Articles, on February 7, 2014 | No comments

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – We talk a lot on this blog about how to increase your Google ranking and thus increase site traffic. If you read search engine and marketing blogs often, you may find your head spinning, up to your ears in SEO information. And while you should try to digest as much information as you can, the simplest and most effective way to gain online customers is to build a great website.

The best SEO companies understand that good web design is closely linked with online success. Sinai Marketing recently welcomed Farnaz Zangouei to our team as a Web designer, and our team realizes how valuable her skills really are.

Let’s put it this way: you’ve reached the top spot on Google for your most desired keyword. Congratulations! What does this mean? It means it’s easier, much easier, for customers to find your site than if you were miles down on the search results page.

But what happens when a user clicks on the link to your site and it takes more than a minute to load? What happens when a cluttered site overwhelms a user? What happens when your navigation is sloppy and your texts are difficult to read? The user leaves, and quickly.

You may have heard the term “bounce rate” to describe how quickly a user leaves a website. Our goal is to lower your bounce rate, or, more simply, to keep users on your site. The more pages the user interacts with on your site, the lower your bounce rate. The longer a user sticks around on your site, the more likely you are to convert them, either to make a sale or have them contact you.

Here are six ways to improve your website’s design and keep users from leaving too quickly.

1. Develop a clean user interface.
In the design world, we call user interface UI. UI includes a lot of elements – the website’s navigation, the placement and aesthetics of buttons, social networking links, user forms and search boxes.

Try not to have an insane amount of information on your home page. Instead, spend time developing your site’s navigation and think of the most logical way to organize and label your pages. Trust me, it will make a difference. Think about the best place for your links to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus. SEO works hand in hand with your site’s design, and every button on your site must serve a distinct purpose.

2. User clear fonts.
Many users come to your site for content. Make that content easy to read. Avoid swirly, cursive fonts or jarring color combinations. When you wrote papers in school, did your English teachers let you use any font you wanted? My teachers made us stick to Arial or Times New Roman. You can certainly branch off from these fonts for your website, but remember the sole purpose of your content is to engage visitors, so don’t lose them with a difficult font choice.

3. Use a contrasting (but not blinding) color scheme.
The same goes for your color palette. There’s a fine line between stylish and garish, and sometimes you need a fresh set of eyes to help you see the difference. Bright colors can be harsh on the eyes, and your visitor may subconsciously feel negatively about your site just from the colors on the screen. While using colors from your company’s logo is generally a good idea, you probably want to stick to toned down versions for the site’s background and for most of the text.

Use your logo as a guide for the color combinations, but not as a hard rule. Don’t discount how attractive a nice gray background can be. Gray is the color of newspaper, and very light gray is the shade of paper books. Black text is common in newspapers and books. Our eyes see these color combinations well and interpret them easily. Whatever color combinations you choose, make sure your text contrasts enough from its background to be easily readable.

4. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
Henry David Thoreau said it, ladies and gentlemen, and he is still right. Even in terms of Web design, simpler is usually better. Reduce the amount of clutter on your site and watch your bounce rate get lower and lower. Visitors will leave your site quickly if they find lots of distractions.

Do you really need a pop-up? Do you really need that text box? Distractions keep them from the information they are searching to find. Choose each element of your website wisely. Keep your blog in a contained place and share fun, quirky things there if you wish, but keep your home page clean and simple, and keep your navigation intuitive.

5. Beware of slow load times.
Certain factors can significantly slow down your website’s load time, such as large images, multimedia, scripts and music. People hate waiting, and they especially dislike waiting for websites to load.

If your site is loading slowly, expect your user to be impatient and most likely leave. A good Web designer will know how to include professional, high-resolution images that don’t take years to load.

Let me be clear, though. Multimedia is a good thing. Videos help engage users and keep them on your site. You just want to make sure they’re optimized for quick loading and they buffer as they go along.

6. Embrace mobile and be responsive.
Screens are all different sizes these days, with tablets and smartphones exploding the marketplace. If your website is designed solely for a 13-inch monitor, you’re missing out on a lot of smartphone and tablet users.

Check out your website on a variety of devices and see how it looks. If you have a high bounce rate from smartphone users, it may be time to develop a responsive website. Good design isn’t limited to one screen size.

Zangouei knows that your online presence is extremely important, and we do, too.

“Without a website that’s user-friendly, a business will never be able to effectively advertise their services,” says Zangouei. “The world lives online, and a well-designed Internet home is vital to growth.”

An online home with good content and a strong design will leave users satisfied and satiated. Good design is hard to explain, but you certainly know it when you see it. On the flip side, it’s very easy to spot bad design.

Trust your instinct and consult with a professional designer to see how you can improve the look and user experience of your website. You should notice increased user engagement, and you’ll likely enjoy a higher amount of credibility with a professionally designed website.

7 SEO Fixes to Improve Your Website’s Rankings

By Obaidul Haque , in Articles, on January 24, 2014 | No comments

EVERGREEN, COLORADO – The good old days of SEO are over. Google’s latest search algorithm updates have brought their axes down on plenty of low-quality and poorly SEO’ed websites and blogs. And now you hear that Google has revamped its algorithm again by launching the Hummingbird update.

Most SEO practitioners are in a fix!

What are you doing to keep your website’s SEO on track? If the last couple of updates by Google have killed your free organic traffic, it’s a clear signal that your website’s SEO needs a boost.

Here are seven SEO fixes to keep your website’s SEO headed in the right direction while regaining your lost keyword rankings.

#1. Get Rid of Bad Links (or Backlinks)
A few months ago, I wrote an article on link building in the post-Penguin era. Though today’s SEO still revolves around links to a great extent, the ways of building links have changed considerably.

While building links for your website in the post-Penguin era, you should focus on these identification signs, strictly -

  • Quality
  • Authority
  • Natural

In fact, you should give your website’s backlinks profile a good spring-clean right away so that it has no bad links. Google’s Penguin can quickly get suspicious if your website’s backlinks contain unnatural or spammy links. It might even lead you to a search algorithmic penalty. If you lack adequate SEO knowledge, it’s advisable to hire a reputable SEO agency for a backlink analysis.

Remember – A few bad apples can spoil the whole barrel!

#2. Improve Content Pages
After you have fixed the backlinks profile of your website, the next important step is to conduct a content audit. It’s a good idea to create a content inventory in order to have a clear picture of where you stand and what further actions need to be taken to improve your website’s SEO.

The content inventory spreadsheet should include these -

  • Content type
  • # of pages
  • Visits
  • Conversions
  • Page authority
  • Number of shares

Based on these metrics, you’ll be able to analyze the current situation, improve as per the requirements and work out a better and more effective content strategy for the future. At the same time, you should get rid of duplicate and low quality content as quickly as possible.

“Over the last several years, search engine optimization (SEO) has matured quite a bit. Now, it’s no longer the practice of stuffing web pages with as many carefully-placed keywords as possible and hoping that Google notices. These days, it takes a much more sophisticated and refined approach built on fresh, original content that will provide value to visitors,” says Sujan Patel of Single Grain.

#3. Create and Submit XML Sitemap via GWT
Sitemap submission via Google Webmaster Tools is something that you shouldn’t ignore anymore. Whether you have a website or blog, you can create XML sitemaps and submit them to Google via your Webmaster Tools account. On your Webmaster Tools home page, you can select your site, click site configuration and then sitemap in the left sidebar. Then you can add your sitemap and finally submit it to Google.

By creating and submitting an XML sitemap, you’ll make it easy for search engines to crawl and categorize your site. It will, therefore, help you boost the SEO of your website as well.

#4. Check Your Website on Mobile Devices
Have you checked out whether your website renders really well on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. The number of mobile Internet users is increasing every moment. The mobile version of your website or blog should always be simple and concise. At the same time, you should make sure that mobile visitors are automatically directed to the mobile-friendly version of your website. It’s not tough as servers have the ability to identify mobile devices.

Most importantly, you should check the mobile-friendliness of your website on different types of mobile devices, OS versions and screen resolutions. Development companies will offer you a long list of mobile devices from which you can choose as per your requirements and get your website tested for all those devices and optimized appropriately.

#5. Start Guest Posting
In terms of doing SEO fixes and improving the search rankings of your website in today’s highly competitive environment, guest posting or guest blogging should always be at the top of your list. Spammy article marketing and junk directory submissions are already out of the game. But writing guest posts for authoritative niche sites is an excellent way of expanding the presence of your online business, building your brand and boosting your SEO.

Most of the sites that accept guest post submissions also allow you to include your own byline or author bio. So, make sure you have a byline which makes your business stand out, connects with the target audience and attracts new customers to your own website.

Don’t forget that it’s your approach toward guest posting that matters because there’s always a right and wrong way of guest blogging.

#6. Say Goodbye to Page-to-Page SEO Approach
With the ‘Not Provided’ data in Google Analytics and the Knowledge Graph, you can be sure that keyword data is going. Post-Hummingbird, Google is starting to focus more on complex or conversational queries. Therefore, you should quit your obsession about keywords (or money keywords) and stop looking at a website on a page-to-page basis.

As a matter of fact, you should focus on building a great website which satisfies the intent of a wide range of users.

#7. Build Social Media Influence
If your want to keep your website’s SEO on the right track and dominate the search results for a long time, you should start building your influence on popular social media websites without any delay. Today’s SEO is not just about algorithms. It’s also about social signaling, which tells search engines whether people really like to share the content that you feature on your website.

After all the latest algorithmic updates (and search penalties), do you think the SEO of your website is on the right track? Please comment.

 

 

 

SEO in a (Not Provided) World

By Lorrie Walker , in Articles, on January 10, 2014 | No comments

TAMPA, FLORIDA – A cornerstone of search engine optimization has been removed by Google, and now some members of the SEO world are wondering whether the foundation soon will topple.

I’m talking about the removal of Google’s free Keyword Tool and the ever-increasing percentage of search analytics that fall into the “(not provided)” category in Google Analytics.

Here’s a timeline of sorts that shows how Google has steadily increased the (Not Provided) information in recent years:

  • I first learned of Google’s move to cloak information regarding keywords used to find websites in an article by Danny Sullivan in October 2012. At that time, he reported that “Google began going dark” in 2011.
  • Barry Schwartz wrote in Search Engine Land in November 2012 about a study that found 39 percent of search-related Google traffic had search terms withheld.
  • Rand Fishkin over at Moz recently wrote: “The site Not Provided Count now reports an average of nearly 74 percent of keywords not provided, and speculation abounds that it won’t be long before 100 percent of keywords are masked.”
  • Ruth Burr wrote on The Moz Blog Oct. 8 that their (not provided) stats are around 80 percent these days.

That’s a powerful blow to SEO professionals. We thrive on that information. As much as we know we need to consider humans over Googlebots, it’s damn near impossible for hardcore SEO experts to not watch the numbers. We have reports that show keyword lists of our clients and where their sites rank for each one. We know how this week’s ranking compares to last week. I find myself getting worked up when I discover they’ve fallen to another page, or dropped from the second spot on a page to the 10th position. It’s all too easy to dwell on these figures.

I have to admit it’s kind of refreshing to be given permission to not care about keywords so much anymore. It’s much more freeing to simply write on my blog what’s on my mind at the moment. I write about topics based on the questions I get asked when people find out my line of work. I figure if they’re asking me in person, others are probably Googling in search of the same information, so I’d like to be the one to provide it.

These latest Google changes remind us – again – that you need to just focus on being an expert in your field. Become known as an authority on your topic.

“Make it easy for Google (and Bing, and, you know, people) to load your site, to navigate your site and to figure out what each page is about, and you will be rewarded with return visits,” Burr says.

Now that keyword information isn’t as readily available, Burr tells us that instead of looking at keyword level data, look at page level data – which pages received referral visits from Google search?

“Thanks to Google’s autocomplete feature, users are often using a suggested query rather than whatever their original keyword might be,” she says.

She goes on to say “the real killer of the keyword-driven approach isn’t (not provided)… it’s Google’s increasing devotion to semantic relationships between topics and entities on the Web. Author Rank, personalization and the Knowledge Graph have added new elements to consider: Now, in addition to what your content says and who links to it, Google also cares about who created it, what else they’ve done, and who’s shared it. Content from a trusted source can rank in personalized results for related keywords without specifically targeting them; Google’s gotten that good at figuring out topical relationships.”

What does all that mean? As if anyone needed more proof to the old cliché that content is king, Google’s move to provide even less information about keywords drives home the point yet again. Think less about using keywords to get traffic; more about getting traffic to pages, Burr says. Considering content over keywords will help you build authority on your specific topic. That is Google’s desire these days.

And if you simply can’t stand to part with keyword information, hop on over to Bing, which is keeping search data accessible – at least for now.

 

 

 

 

Online Curtain Retailer Melinda West Discusses Her SEO Trials and Successes

By Jessica Bates , in Articles, on December 27, 2013 | 1 comment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Search engine optimization is a quickly changing industry. Some business owners hire SEO companies like ours to help them climb up the Google rankings for their desired keywords. Other business owners prefer to receive coaching or learn SEO themselves to increase their online exposure.

Melinda West is a business owner that’s doing it all. She started Swags Galore in 1999, and at that time she was one of the only online curtain retailers around. Things have changed, though, and other curtain retailers have made their way to the web.

Now Melinda and her husband Eugene compete with online behemoths like Amazon and big box stores like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond to bring beautiful, affordable curtains to the masses. I got to pick her brain to see how she and her husband optimize their site and grow their business all on their own.

Jessica: How difficult has it been to learn about the Google search algorithm?

Melinda: I can’t elaborate too much because I don’t want to give away any secrets. Let me say this: It doesn’t matter how much advice you get or how much you read, it’s about the case study. Say you optimize your website and implement SEO techniques and blog. My site’s ranking then isn’t relying on just one technique – it’s a combination of a million different things.

The only way you can tell if you’re successful is if your keywords rank higher on Google than they did before. It’s a case study, and you should look at it exactly like that if you do SEO for your own business. If you do something and slip down in the rankings, the change you made was probably not a good thing. If you do something else and your rank raises, then it’s a good thing.

We recently broke Page 1 for “valances,” which is a very competitive keyword, and we’re glad to have that deep and narrow focus to continue growing with that keyword. For “curtains” we were previously nonexistent, and now we’re on Page 2. We must have slipped a little.

Jessica: How often do you check your keywords?

Melinda: Multiple times a day. They bounce you around, and we want to understand how the algorithm really works, so we check often. Hummingbird, the recently released new Google algorithm, didn’t affect us negatively. Has all our SEO increased our page ranking? Yes, but we’re still ongoing, and it’s a process that will never end.

Jessica: Do you focus on organic search, or do you also pay for advertising?

Melinda: Right now I feel we’ve done pretty much all we can do on search. Now we’re going one step further to brand our business and build some press. There are a million different ways to market your business, including PPC campaigns, Facebook ads, etc.

One thing we’re doing is using retargeting campaigns. Say you’re shopping for shoes online, and a day later you open your email inbox, and there are shoe ads. You pay for that; it’s paid advertising. You have to tackle the market on every front, and how can we compete? Because we have a really narrow niche. I don’t put much effort into social media; none of my traffic comes from there.

Jessica: What benefits do you see from doing your own SEO as opposed to hiring an SEO specialist?

Melinda: I know SEO specialists have a lot of tips, tricks, and techniques that I can learn from. But I also think that once an SEO company uses all their methods, they have to reevaluate their strategies and they tap out their resources. They can do wonders for some clients, but I have a super competitive niche, and I can focus solely on growing my own business. I would rather write my own blog posts and press releases than hire freelancers who aren’t experts in the industry. I know my industry back and forth, so who better to do the work but me?

If you use only one method or use just one SEO person or freelancer to help your SEO efforts, it could appear to Google as spam. I’ve found that attacking SEO from many directions helps me move up for my keywords. You can’t discount Yahoo! and Bing, either. The process is all manual and very hands-on. That said, the average website owner doesn’t know what happens online. They really have to get in tune with things or they go away very quickly.

Jessica: Other than checking your keywords multiple times per day, what other barometers do you use to measure your SEO success?

Melinda: I use Google Analytics – you’d be crazy not to – and some other analytics and keyword tools. But I don’t use just one source. I know that if I double my sales from last July, then I’m on the right path. If my sales dip, something’s off, and I have to figure out what and why.

We use some tools, and using them helps us figure out exactly what our competitors are doing. We basically just watch the successful people rise to the top and follow what they do. We add in some stuff of our own, monitor our progress, and try to fit all the pieces together. It’s a lot of work, and it costs a lot of money to do SEO.

Jessica: What SEO resources do you use?

Melinda: I don’t have one go-to source. If something happens to my search position, I want to find out why, and then I research further. If I keep making gains, I’m not concerned with what Google is doing or how they’ve changed the algorithm. I’m running a business here, too, so I’m doing a lot more work than just SEO. My approach is certainly more reactive than proactive. For instance, I noticed that on a recent Penguin release, the bloggers got hit really badly and now they’re gun shy to do anything. I’ve talked to a lot of them, and they all had to change their businesses.

Jessica: You were way ahead of the online curtain selling game, but now the big box stores have caught on. What strategies do you implement to compete with much larger companies online?

Melinda: Well, I would say probably the one advantage I have against the competition is having a super narrow niche and a small handful of keywords. Because we’re so narrow, we can focus on those keywords and do them well. Staying narrow and focused is the key. A lot of my competitors in the curtain industry expanded into bed and bath, adding more and more products that weren’t curtains.

We went to a 100 percent stocked model, which means we keep very deep curtain stock as another advantage over the competition. The fully stocked model means we own all the curtains you see in our store, and we’re able to ship them faster and with less hassle than big box stores.

Another advantage we have over Amazon and big box stores is that they’re very fragmented. My store shows customers what they can do in a boutique shop and its not fragmented at all. We have deep, narrow stock, we ship 24-hours, we purposely pick products with great price points and we make the products unique.

Jessica: Thanks, Melinda! It’s been a pleasure getting to know you and learning from you.

Are there any other business owners out there who would like to share their SEO trials and successes? We’d really like to hear from you.

Use This New Way of Getting Links from Newspaper Sites Wisely

By Lorrie Walker , in Articles, on December 10, 2013 | No comments

TAMPA, Fla. – Prepare for your minds to be blown, gentle readers, for I believe I am about to impart some knowledge on you that you likely haven’t read elsewhere.

Remember the devastating blow Google Penguin dealt the SEO world when it determined links from article and press release distribution websites no longer would be counted as quality inbound links? A way for you to combat that may soon come to a newspaper website near you.

Newspaper design firm Creative Circle Media Solutions has created a digital portal that participating newspapers can add to their websites. It provides a mechanism for people to submit their press releases in hope of reporters seeing them and turning those press releases into published articles.Newspapers

However, posting press releases via this system can prove beneficial to businesses even if a reporter does nothing with the information. For a fee (which varies among the handful of newspapers in the U.S. who are using this system), you can insert hyperlinks into your press release and have it publish immediately in the newspaper’s portal. You can see a sample of what I’m talking about on the Tampa Bay Times website.

The URL from your press release includes the newspaper’s URL, which we know is valued by Google. That means you get links from high-authority newspaper websites.

Although I love the idea of this new capability, I have some serious concerns. I’ll outline two for you:

1. This system is ripe for abuse.

Anyone, anywhere can pay to post a press release to a participating newspaper’s website, says Bill Ostendorf, founder of Creative Circle Media Solutions. That means if you’re a dentist in Seattle and you’re willing to pay to post a press release on the Tampa Bay Times portal, you can. But what value does that add to Tampa residents who may happen upon this release? And while this will build valuable links to your website, let’s think of what should be the intended purpose. Will it gain you more patients? I have my doubts.

2. A Google smack-down could await participating newspapers.

I have two words for you: Forbes and Newsday. Google isn’t afraid to “drop the ban hammer,” as Ryan Clark eloquently puts it on Linkbuildr.com in an article about big brands Google has penalized. If Google will bust Forbes and Newsday for gaming the system, I’m convinced no newspaper is off limits.

To all you SEO pros out there, I beg of you: please don’t abuse this system. This can be a valuable tool from a public relations and an SEO standpoint. Use it wisely. Take my advice on how to do that:     

1. Wait.

That’s right. Wait for this press release posting ability to come to a newspaper near you, instead of posting press releases to sites on the other side of the country. It will uphold the integrity of this tool and it’ll make more sense to readers who happen upon the releases you post.

2. Write quality press releases.

Stop writing the month-to-month crap you churn out for your clients just for the sake of adding new content to their sites. Think about what your client is doing that is newsworthy. Write about that and post it to these newspaper portals.

If you don’t heed my warnings, you’re going to ruin it for everyone. This link building mechanism may work for a while. Honestly, I hope it works permanently. But if Google determines at some point these newspaper sites have compromised their integrity and they deem this posting and link building ability as a black-hat SEO technique, you and I both know what you’ll spend the next several weeks doing – provided you’re the least bit concerned about your clients’ websites. You’ll be disavowing the crap out of all these links you’ve spent months accumulating.

Use it wisely, and everyone wins.

Image credit: NS Newsflash at Flickr

Pay Less for SEO and Die!

By Ali Husayni , in Articles, on December 6, 2013 | 1 comment

VILLA PARK, Calif. – Are you a price-shopper? Contacting many SEO companies to find who’s charging less “for the same thing” and signing up with them? How many times in the past few years have you done that? And you’re still following the same old habit?

Cheap SEO equals DEATH. Not your death of course, but the death of your marketing campaign while your competition dominates Google search results.save money

Before reading the article, please note that Google is the KING of online marketing. And if you are not ranked organically on Google – very high on the first page – you’re losing most of the online business to your competition. That’s why I only focus on Google SEO.

Let me explain why you’re not going to find a top-quality SEO company at the cheapest price.

Reason #1: Google SEO is HARD.

Google SEO has three elements: Content development, optimization and building popularity. Each of these sections is extremely delicate and difficult to master. It will take an average SEO expert a minimum of five years to understand these aspects of SEO and master them.

Reason #2: Google SEO is HARD.

That’s not a typo. Here, I’m talking about the implementation of SEO. A typical SEO campaign requires 40+ hours of professional work each month.

Professional Content is Necessary

Writing extensively and professionally for your site is the cornerstone of ranking high on Google. Your SEO company needs to research, write, edit, optimize and post at least one high-quality article per week to your website. If you have ever tried this you realize how difficult it is.

Optimization is Delicate

The least difficult part of SEO is optimization of your site. Because it gets done once – with minor tweaks later on. But it really isn’t easy. SEO engineers need to understand how Google algorithm works. Slight over-optimization of a site could result in Google penalty slap.

Getting Popular – NATURALLY

Many have suffered from Google’s repeated algorithm updates – but our clients don’t. Why? Because we don’t try to make them popular using easy and cheap methods. We know the cheap methods well: buying links, submitting sites to directories, syndicating your articles, reciprocal link-building, etc.

We have to make clients popular naturally. How do we do it? That requires another article.

Reason #3: Short Term Success is Failure

It’s easy and cheap to get your site ranked on Google search using black-hat SEO methods. I have personally tried it and it works. However, Google will catch up with you sooner or later and you lose your site’s rankings altogether. In that case you have to start fresh. Fresh domain, fresh content and fresh SEO campaign. So, in today’s fast-moving business pace, where your competition is looking for the slightest set-back in your marketing campaign to take over, BLACK-HAT = DEATH.

Reason #4: Google Changes Its Mind

Google SEO rules change – and sometimes not for the better. There are two theories why. The conspiracy theory believes that Google wants to increase its revenue which comes mostly from the pay-per-click ads (Adwords) by reducing the rankings of those who are at the very top of Google organic search. Because when they lose their ranks, they’re most likely to pay for Adwords.

I don’t necessarily believe in that, but I know for sure that the SEO blue-print Google provides today may be different next year. This makes the job of any SEO expert extremely difficult. The reason is that we need to stay ahead of the game by at least one to two years.

The good news is that Google is now a slow-moving giant when it comes to changing directions and implementing algorithm updates. When they announce a change (like Matt Cutts explaining intent-reading algorithm updates) it takes them one to two years to really implement the change. Of course, one has to listen to Google very carefully and read between the lines to understand how that will affect the next few algorithm updates.

Reason #5: ROI is What Counts

Looking at the monthly or yearly cost of SEO by itself is the wrong way to look at the campaign. You have to look at the ROI generated by your SEO campaign and compare it to your other marketing campaigns.

Note: If you are not tracking your business ROI from different marketing campaigns then start today. With the new technologies available, this is not a difficult task.

Let’s say you invest $8K per month for SEO with company X. In a one year time-frame they are able to generate $1M revenue. Their cost has been roughly 10 percent of your income. Your ROI: 1,000 percent.

That’s a good ROI.

You may pay half of that to company Y and only see a $200K increase in income. In this case, your ROI is 500 percent.

Would you go with company X or Y?

We are one of the most expensive SEO companies I know of, yet, we bring about double the ROI of any other marketing campaign I’ve seen.

Here is a chart of the site usage analytics from www.associatesinplasticsurgery.com (from September 2013). The partners are heavily investing in both SEO and Adwords (roughly the same amount). They rank at the very top in both campaigns. However, they get about half of their site’s traffic from SEO (combining Google, Yahoo! and Bing) and only 23 percent from their Adwords campaign.searchresults

Getting a site ranked at the top of Google for their very competitive and short-tail keywords is a daunting task. It requires expertise, dedication, hard-work and patience. You may save a few hundreds or thousands of dollars by hiring the less expensive SEO company, however, you should know that the long-term consequences of paying less are dire.

Don’t kill your online marketing campaign. Spend the time and research many SEO companies to find the best one. And the next time you think cheap, imagine a tombstone with “Here Lies Your Online Visibility” written on it.

Image credit: 401K at Flickr

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Call Tracking in a Google Encrypted Search World: The Sky Isn’t Falling

By , in Articles, on December 3, 2013 | No comments

CHICAGO – By now most of you should be familiar with Google’s latest effort to provide additional privacy to its users by switching 100 percent of Google searches to secure search. While many marketers may find this traumatic, the sky isn’t falling.

First, these changes only impact leads that visit your site from Google organic search results. You can still view keyword-level referring data from Google paid search ads, as well as organic searches from all the other search engines, including Bing and Yahoo.

And second, despite these changes from Google, there are still three tools you can use to gather insight from Google organic search leads without seeing the specific referral keyword data they used to find you.

Marketing Automation Tools
Conventional marketing automation tools like Marketo, Eloqua, and Silverpop can do an excellent job generating online leads using email campaigns, web registration forms and website usage monitoring. Even without being able to see Google referral keyword data, you can still use a marketing automation tool to see the web pages a lead first visited from Google and their path through your site that lead to them filling out one of your web form registrations and becoming a lead.

This information is helpful because you can infer the keywords used to drive visitors to your website. You can also see which pages are best at converting visitors into web leads, and which pages aren’t performing as well.

Call Tracking
But what’s missing with conventional marketing automation tools is voice. That’s why many marketing teams are now using a call tracking tool to track what happens when someone visits their website from Google and, instead of becoming a lead by filling out your form, decides to pick up the phone and call.

Marketers can use call tracking to track calls back to any marketing source, including Google SEO and PPC, offline ads, social media sites, direct mail, email and more. Call tracking software gives you unique trackable 
phone numbers (local, toll-free or vanity) that can be displayed in your marketing material and the web pages of your site.

When someone calls those numbers, the technology knows exactly what source they’re calling from and captures that source information with the lead information. Even if the visitor browses around on your site for a while before calling, call tracking can still attribute them as a phone lead from the correct originating source.

Call tracking tools used to be able to tell you the Google keywords that drove a person to visit your site before calling you, but unfortunately Google encrypted search no longer passes that keyword-level referral data from Google organic searches. However, call tracking tools can still tell you which web pages drive the most phone calls to your business from Google organic searches.

You can even track each call individually through your sales cycle to see which web pages are generating opportunities and revenue – enabling you to understand which pages and content work best at converting calls that turn into customers. So while you may not have access to keyword-level referral data for Google organic, you can still see some extremely insightful information you can use to improve your marketing.

Integrate Call Tracking with Google Universal Analytics
What’s more, call tracking tools can integrate with Google Universal Analytics to give you additional insight into each visitor’s behavior and interaction on your website. If the goal is insight about the visitor, Universal Analytics will give you plenty.

For Google organic visitors, marketers are still able to see in Universal Analytics which web page a lead first landed on. Since most web pages are only optimized for a small number of keywords, you can infer which ones are working to drive web traffic from Google (and that’s valuable info to have). You can then follow that visitor’s path through your site, and, if they called you, you can see exactly what page they called from. Again, very valuable information for marketers trying to optimize their site for lead conversion.

So don’t panic about Google’s encrypted search. Using marketing automation tools paired with call tracking and Universal Analytics, you’ll still be able to gain valuable and actionable insight into the behavior of your web visitors, leads, and customers that came from a Google organic search. And again, you can also still see keyword-level referral data from Google paid search ads and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo. That hasn’t changed.

If you wish to learn more about how marketers are using call tracking, you can download the white paper, “Tracking Phone Leads: The Missing Piece of Marketing Automation.”

About the Author: Jane Intrieri is currently a Marketing Content Specialist at Ifbyphone. She crafts compelling, educational content in the form of white papers, blog posts, eBooks, articles, press releases and more. She covers topics such as B2B marketing, content marketing, and marketing automation.

Keywords Aside, SEO is a Human Business

By , in News, on November 26, 2013 | 6 comments

TAMPA, FLORIDA — It’s easy for SEO experts to become exasperated with Google’s complexities and ever-fluctuating preferences. Sometimes, it’s like battling a robot – a robot who happens to determine the credibility of a website, which affects a business, which impacts people.

That’s why we at Sinai Marketing like to take a human approach to Google SEO. Because, after all, it’s humans that benefit or suffer by Google’s judgment. Keywords aren’t simply a tool of measurement, but the livelihood of business owners across the globe.

Computer service is the livelihood of Michael Young, the owner of technology support company Computer CPR in Southlake, Texas. Just six months ago, bankruptcy loomed over Young’s homegrown business. Today, he’s looking to hire new information technology consultants, because Computer CPR’s phone won’t stop ringing.

Young turned to Sinai for help in March after a dishonest, black-hat SEO company caused Computer CPR’s rankings to plummet, a story that’s all too common among small-business owners. He quickly sensed he’d have a more pleasant experience with Sinai.

“Sinai has an open channel of communication with their clients and a better method.” says Young. “With my previous SEO company, they just asked for money and I could only speak with their sales guy.”

Sinai’s digital marketing consultant Matt Zadeh helped Young achieve success in remarkable time. Young made it clear to Zadeh that if Sinai’s efforts weren’t successful, he’d be forced to fire staff or suffer bankruptcy.

Zadeh listened. In just over a month, Computer CPR’s newly designed, search engine-friendly website launched. In three months, keywords skyrocketed and revenue increased by 40 percent. In five months, Young’s business doubled.

“On my last phone call with Michael, he told me that he was working 12 hours a day and couldn’t handle any more business!” says Zadeh.

Sinai tries to avoid making problems for clients, but we don’t mind that one.

So, how did we help Young’s business flourish? To put it in layman’s terms, Google’s new advice is to chill out. Stop cramming blogs with keywords and just write. By simply playing fair and publishing interesting articles composed with humans in mind on a consistent basis, businesses like Computer CPR can enjoy tremendous success with honest SEO services.

Young’s previous black-hat company didn’t implement such wise practices.

“They did the bulk of their work at one time, then let my rankings slip for the rest of the year,” says Young. “I don’t know what their method was supposed to be.”

Prior to giving SEO a try, Young attempted a variety of more conventional marketing techniques to grow his business. He leaned on local publications, pay-per-click advertising and even Google Adwords.

“Nothing has given me the return on investment like Sinai’s SEO has,” says Young. “With Google Adwords, the advertising went away when my budget was depleted. With SEO, I can continue to reap the benefits after my money runs out.”

With Young busy reaping his benefits and enjoying success, he has some simple advice for other small business on the verge of disaster.

“People who rely solely on referrals are idiots. They have no idea how much more their business could grow,” says Young. “Having a presence on Google is invaluable.”

It’s true. Having a strong online presence is key to lasting success. Business owners, no matter their industry, must embrace the laws of Google supremacy to experience optimum growth and visibility.

We understand trusting a search engine with your business’ fate is a scary thought. That’s why Sinai partners with each of our clients to ensure that our formula of “content + relevancy + popularity” is applied to the fullest extent and we achieve your satisfaction.

Our goal as an online marketing firm isn’t simply to boost keywords, but to bring happiness to our clients by growing their company and improving their lives. After all, this is a people business.

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A Neat Little Guide to Using Google Webmaster Tools

By Obaidul Haque , in Articles, on November 21, 2013 | 4 comments

EVERGREEN, COLORADO – SEO is not one-size-fits-all, nor is it a one-time event. In today’s ever-evolving era of search engine optimization, it’s important to keep a close watch on the statistics of your website on a consistent basis. If you are unaware about the health of your website or lose track of where it’s headed, it’s easier than you’d think to let your SEO die and send traffic (and money) to your competitors.

To prepare yourself for an in-depth analysis of your website, the first thing to do is choose the right kind of SEO tools.Tools

Thankfully, Google itself is a treasure trove of such SEO tools that you can use without paying a penny. Google Analytics is an excellent example of these tools. It’s one of those tools that even a newbie can quickly learn to use and understand, and utilize the data to improve a website’s SEO.

Among other tools that Google offers, the most advanced of all is the Google Webmaster Tools (WMT). If you have a well-rounded knowledge of SEO, you can use this powerful tool for evaluating and planning the organic search strategy for your website or blog.

If you haven’t used WMT yet, here’s a little guide.

Getting Started
To access Google WMT, you must have a Google account. As you go to WMT, you’ll be required to either log in with your existing Google account or create a new one (if you don’t have one). Once you are in, you are ready to add a site to your WMT account.

Though you have added your site to the WMT dashboard, you won’t be able to use this tool unless you have completed verification.

So, follow these steps –

  1. Click the download file link
  2. Save it to your computer
  3. Log in to your site’s web hosting account
  4. Upload the downloaded file to ‘public_html’ folder
  5. Visit link to confirm upload
  6. Click the verify button

There are many other options to verify the ownership of a site. If you already have a Google Analytics (GA) account for the site you have added to WMT, you can also verify by connecting the GA account to the WMT account.

Checking Messages (Spam Warnings/ Notifications)
One of the biggest benefits of using WMT is that it’s where Google sends webmasters spam warnings or other notifications. The email notifications that you receive via WMT tools keep you aware of what may have gone wrong with your website.

Examples of such messages include “Increase in not found errors” and “Is still infected with malware.”

Likewise, Google will send you an email via WMT for any important issue that might harm the search rankings of your website.

Major Sections
Email notifications are just the tip of the iceberg. As you delve deeper and start to check out the many features that this awesome SEO tool offers, you’ll understand why it’s a favorite with webmasters.

The entire WMT data has been divided into five major sections, which are as follows.

  1. Search Appearance
  2. Search Traffic
  3. Google Index
  4. Crawl
  5. Labs

Each of these sections provides invaluable data on keyword traffic, internal links, external links, indexing, crawling, URLs etc.

Key Features
Depending on your specific requirements, you may use a few or all the features of WMT and improve the SEO of your website. However, it’s important to understand each feature before you use it.

Structured Data – As far as other features of the WMT are concerned, this one is relatively new. By using this feature, you’ll be able to identify structured data within your website like schema.org and microformats.org. If you are adding schema markup to your website, this feature is very useful.

HTML Improvements – If you want to improve the experience of users coming to your website and improve performance, this tab is a must-use. This tab allows you to detect HTML issues on your website including duplicate Meta descriptions, long Meta descriptions, short Meta descriptions, duplicate title tags, long title tags, short title tags and non-informative title tags among others.

Site links – The links that you see under your website’s main search results or the domain name. Though these links are generated by Google automatically, the site links feature allows you to demote any of the pages that you don’t want to appear under your domain name in SERPs.

Search Queries – This is an important data section for tracking the keyword performance of your website. If you want to find out what keywords your website is ranking for, the impressions for each of those keywords, the rate of click-through for your site search results and the average position for each of the keywords for which your website ranks, this section does it all.

Links to Your Site – Backlinks are still very much the backbone of a website’s SEO. This section of WMT provides you all the important data on how and who link to your website. Whether you want to know the sources from where your website is linked or the anchor text for those links, this is the section to check out. In fact, this feature does a good job to help you create a link report or do a link audit of your website.

Internal Links – The internal linking structure of a website also plays a key role in its overall SEO. The WMT provides you with a detailed look at how various pages on your website are linked internally.

Index Status -The index status report tells you how many of the total number of pages on a particular website have been indexed by Google. If your website is losing in search due to indexing issues, this data will help.

Content Keywords – Here, you’ll gather information about the keywords that have been frequently used on your website. Checking out this valuable data will help you identify whether your website is associated with a specific theme.

Crawl Errors – Site or URL crawling errors can do potential damage to the SEO of a website. Whether it’s a Domain Name System error, server connectivity error, soft 404 or Not Found errors, this report will tell you everything.

Crawl Stats – This report allows you to track the Googlebot activity on your website including pages crawled/ day, kilobytes downloaded/ day and time spend downloading a page.

The WMT offers you many more features like the ones mentioned above. If you aren’t using this advanced SEO tool yet, go, create an account, verify your website and start to explore.

If you’re using Google Webmaster Tools already, please feel free to share your thoughts, views and experiences.

Ali Husayni’s SEO Simplified Class at Plastic Surgery Conference a Success

By Katie Manry , in News, on November 12, 2013 | No comments

TAMPA, Fla. – “I attended the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) course in October 2013. The SEO course was absolutely fantastic. Ali gave a concise and clear presentation. His presentation was honest and direct. He did not try to sell anything or over promise anything,” says Dr. David Cho, a board certified plastic surgeon. “My impression is that Ali has a formula for long term success and that plastic surgeons would be wise to attend these courses. I flew from Honolulu, Hawaii to attend the ASPS course. Ali’s presentation alone was worth my flight.”

SEO is a hot topic in the practice management world of health professionals like plastic surgeons, making Ali Husayni’s class, “SEO – SimplAliboothASPSified” a popular session at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ annual meeting in October. Husayni and Matt Zadeh, Sinai Marketing’s account manager, spoke with many conference attendees at Sinai Marketing’s exhibit booth the weekend of the conference and some were interested in the class but had to get back before then.

With a 7 a.m. start time Oct. 15, the last day of the conference, it wasn’t the best time for a class. But to Husayni’s surprise, 23 people were there Tuesday morning ready to learn about Google SEO. For the next two hours, Husayni worked with participants to give them key knowledge and hands-on experiences to better market their practice online.

Husayni made the class fun with a mixture of instruction, workshops and quizzes about SEO with a prize of a one-hour free consultation. He used participants’ own websites as examples to illustrate points like how to create a professional blog. Other real-world examples like how Apple approached marketing as a startup gave participants a tangible way to understand how classic marketing applies to SEO.

“Five people came up afterward and said it was the best class out of the whole conference,” says Husayni.

With more than 10 years’ experience in online Aliclassmarketing, Husayni enjoys educating professionals on navigating the complex waters of SEO and was pleased with the response he got from the class. His class took away the knowledge plastic surgeons need to hire the best SEO company or work on their rankings themselves.

Some of the attendees discussed signing up as clients with Sinai Marketing after the class, impressed with Husayni’s knowledge and experience evident in the workshop. Husayni also received an offer to speak at another plastic surgery conference in 2014 and to have an article published in an industry magazine so this is only the beginning of his educational efforts in online marketing.

Husayni’s class is part of Sinai Marketing’s effort to educate business professionals on how to traverse the ever-changing world of online marketing. We believe that the better business owners understand how internet marketing works, the better prepared they are to make choices on how to grow their company.