The Value of Local SEO to Small Businesses

SEO can be challenging for small businesses. They must compete for the same market share against larger brands that often have more prestige, brand recognition, and consumer affinity.

That doesn’t mean that organic search is out of reach for small businesses as a powerful inbound marketing channel with high potential for return. In order to compete with large brands, small business owners must have an SEO strategy that offsets the often large difference in marketing budget. Because small businesses will not be able to outspend their larger counterparts on media acquisition, they must take a much more targeted and refined approach.

When it comes to short-tail SEO—general phrases with a high amount of search volume—the search engine results pages are dominated by big brands. There is little that a small business marketer with limited budget can do to change these results.

Despite various limitations, small businesses can gain meaningful search engine result real estate with a focus on areas of lowered competition. When geography is taken into account, there is often a much smaller big-brand presence in search results. That opens a window of opportunity for small businesses to gain useful organic search visibility.

Focusing on consumers looking for products and services in specific locales is a great way to limit the competition and give small businesses the ability to gain valuable real estate on search engine results pages. If the business also has an offline presence in a specific locale, there is even more opportunity in targeting these consumers. Consumers trust of a business they can visit in person, which will lead to higher conversion rates.

Geo-Modified Keyword Targeting

Part of the opportunity of location-based SEO for small businesses is to utilize geo-modified search queries. Better yet, in order to benefit from this method, the business does not necessarily have to be location-based. Geo-targeted search phrases are typically very low in competition and are often searched at the purchase stage of the buying cycle, which means they carry high-conversion rates.

Let’s use “home security” as an example. There are 22,200 Google searches for “home security” each month in the U.S.m according to Adwords. However, a small business typically would not have enough budget allocated to SEO to rank on page 1 for that query. When the geo-modifier “miami” is added to the query the monthly search volume drops to 210. This is still a decent amount of search volume and can certainly lead to home security sales.

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The interesting part of this example comes when we look at competition. Examining the number of online pages that have each of these phrases in both the title tag of the page and the anchor text of an inbound link (this metric is known as In Anchor and Title) offers a picture of the relative competition for each phrase. This data can be pulled from MajesticSEO’sKeyword Checker tool.

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The In Anchor and Title data show that the business will only be competing with approximately 51 other pages for the phrase “home security miami” as opposed to 248,328 competing pages for the more generic “home security.”

A business likely will not  be able to rest on the 210 monthly searches for “home security miami.” This strategy, however, can be implemented at scale. Building geo-targeted content on the site for multiple geographic areas that the business can service provides the opportunity for several page 1 rankings within a specific budget.

Marketers should start by optimizing for the geographic areas that have the highest demand for the specific product or service that is being sold and working down from there. This can be identified by looking at the location report in Google Analytics to see where the majority of existing customers are coming from. You can also use keyword suggestion tools, such asGoogle’s Keyword Tool or Wordtracker, to see the search demand of various geo-modified phrases.

Local Search

If the small business has physical locations that consumers can visit, local search is an absolute must. Local search campaigns are ideal for capturing consumers searching on mobile devices because they can get directions and call the business with a simple click. There is no excuse for any local business to not have an optimized presence in local search engines, particularly within the major ones (Google +, Yahoo Local, Bing Local).

By creating and optimizing listings in local search engines, small business can get a great deal of search engine presence with a limited budget while increasing their rankings within aspecific region.

Build Relationships, Not Links

person-behind-the-email-address

Build relationships, not links. If you’re in the business of link acquisition and looking for a new mantra, or a way to be great at your job, there it is.

Building relationships is a new beast to tame. It’s not about trying to influence machines – it’s about trying to influence people. Every human is a kaleidoscope of attitudes, behaviors, and emotions.

Empathy – immersing oneself in the prospect’s world – is an asset for fostering trust, negotiating exchanges, and building lasting relationships.

Here’s how tapping in to the study of human behavior can help us better understand people’s actions and build stronger ties in a post-Penguin/Panda world.

1. Man (and Woman) is a Perpetually Dissatisfied Animal

Time warp back to philosophy class. Karl Marx’s theory of production and consumption says, “When basic needs have been met, this leads to the creation of new needs.”

Every prospect you contact has a need, something they want or they don’t know they can have – yet. The first step for building relationships is identifying why the person that you’re trying to foster a connection with would benefit from a relationship with you.

Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, identifies six key principles of persuasion. The very first principle is reciprocity: “People tend to return a favor”. The idea is that when someone makes an effort to do something for us, our moral fabric tends to make us feel obliged to do something in return.

If your client sells shoes and you approach a fashion blogger with a free pair to review, their conscience (and their shoe addiction) will make them happy to review.

Not only does your offer have to be creative when you approach a prospect, it has to relate to how they can achieve a goal.

This may mean having to re-evaluate your link acquisition strategy with your clients, to identify the collateral you can exchange with prospects, whether free samples and trials, exclusive offers, or expertise.

2. Personality Can Tell us a Lot About What Motivates People

The extinct practice of paying for links is now frowned upon by most SEOs, bloggers, and search engines alike. Since Google’s Penguin/Panda updates, outreach solely based on “link building” significantly reduces your response rates and terminates your chances of being considered on an A-list blog.

Now you have to work harder to learn more about who you’re contacting and what you can offer each other in the long-term. There’s a lot more involved than just evaluating the keyword relevancy or pagerank value of a site.

The secret to relationships lies in knowing people’s underlying interests, needs, and values. That’s what helps you determine what motivates them and how you can help each other in the future.

Every one of your prospects is a potential ally. And empathy is the way you will step into their world, and understand what drives their behavior and how you can influence it.

Fortunately (for marketers), you can tell a lot about a person by what they post online. They leave an entire trail of digital footprints for you to follow, from their “About” page, their blog posts, their LinkedIn profile, to what kind of stuff they post on Twitter and Facebook. Your detective work is all laid out for you. It just takes a few extra clicks and a little curiosity.

3. Identify Relevant “Currencies”; Theirs and Yours

MindTools’ Influence Model talks about using “relevant currencies” in order to influence people. The model was actually developed for a work setting, but it’s incredible how these principles can be applied to relationship building. The idea is to establish what the most meaningful “currency” is to the person you are reaching out to.

The five currencies below can be great sources of inspiration when you’re negotiating an exchange:

  • Inspiration-related currencies. People who value these currencies want to find meaning in what they’re doing. To appeal to these people, approach them with a cause, something that will lead to a greater good.
  • Task-related currencies. Task-related currencies are often highly valued where supplies and resources may be scarce. Offer them your client’s expertise on a topic that’s relevant to their site that they haven’t covered yet.
  • Position-related currencies. People who value this currency focus on recognition, reputation, and visibility. Create content relevant to their interests that make an active attempt to engage them, either directly through the content or through social channels.
  • Relationship-related currencies. People who value relationships want to belong. These people want to feel connected on a personal level, with you or the organization you’re representing. Show them that they aren’t just a means to an end and involve them in various initiatives.
  • Personal-related currencies. These currencies relate to the other person on a personal level. You should give courtesy and gratitude for the help you receive. It’s as simple as writing “Thank You” follow up emails, sharing a person’s blog post, and making it a habit of acknowledging people for their efforts.

4. The Medium is the Message

From email to Google+, Facebook to face-to-face, each of these communication channels has their own unique characteristics, much like the people who use them.

Marshall McLuhan stated that the medium through which we choose to communicate holds as much value than the message itself. One contact might like IM, another might always be on Twitter – it’s good to know where people want to be reached.

5. Influence is Give and Take

In Francisco Dao’s article Networking is for Losers, he makes a key point that sums up how you should approach building relationships; a road to quality versus a shooting slope to quantity:

“A few strong relationships can open far more doors than a thousand evenings of glad handing and networking.”

With that, keep in mind these six steps for building fruitful and lasting relationships. See if getting to know the person behind the email address might be worth the time and the nurturing.

Image source: Brands & Idea

Source: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2228863/Build-Relationships-Not-Links

Advanced Search Operator Tactics

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Advanced search commands are the cornerstone of “good, old-fashioned SEO.” By that, I mean the art of doing SEO stripped down, without tons of tools.

In a world that is saturated with SEO software solutions, advanced search commands are the man vs. wild of the search world. If you gain a better understanding of advanced search commands, you will definitely become a lot more resourceful when doing down-and-dirty site auditing, link prospecting, and competitor analysis.

Before we get into it, a short disclaimer: there are so many ways to use these advanced search commands that one could easily write a whole book on it – or at least a novella.

Also, if you’re using these search commands in another awesome way that I fail to mention, pleasedo leave a comment. I love discovering new ways to use advanced search commands, as do SEW’s readers!

With all that said, let’s explore the most awesome advanced search operators for Google and Bing and how to use them.

Cornerstone of Any Search Command SEO: Google Commands

Site:

Where Else You Can Use It: Google, Bing, Blekko [/site], Yandex, Baidu
*note:site:may behave slightly differently in those engines

Definition: Adding site: to your query will restrict the search results to the domain you’ve specified. [site:example.com]

How to Be Awesome With It: You can scan indexed URLs to get an idea of information architecture, potential duplicate content issues, and get an idea of overall number of pages indexed.

Pro Tip: Combine Site: with inurl: or allinurl: [may not work in all search engines] to analyze specific sections of a site. How big is the blog of a competitor site relative to the approximate total pages indexed? How many of those sort pages without are indexed? How many paginated pages are indexed? How many session ID pages are getting indexed? [site:example.com inurl:sort=price]. Are those pesky non-www. versions of pages getting indexed. Any time you want to analyze content within a site, the site: command is a very robust tool to have in your toolkit.

Related:

Where Else You Can Use It: Blekko [/similar]

Definition: When you use the related command, Google will return webpages that are similar to the webpage you’ve specified. [related:example.com]

How to Be Awesome With It: The related command has been used to find out the “neighborhood” of backlinks. However, keep in mind that there has been debate over the years on how accurate this command is for Google specifically.

Intitle: and Allintitle:

Where Else You Can Use Them: Bing, Yandex, Baidu, DuckDuckGo

Definition intitle: When you use the query in title:, Google restricts the documents it returns to those containing the term you included in the title. [intitle:keyword]

allintitle: When you use allintitle:, Google restricts results to those that contain the keyword that you specified in the title. So if you search [internet marketing] google will only fetch documents that contain the keywords ”internet” and “marketing” in the title. Notice the addition of the conjunction. [allintitle:keyword phrase]

How to Be Awesome With It: This command can be combined with a site: command to help identify templated, thin or duplicate pages by just identifying a part of the title that appears across the thin pages and searching for it. You will see about how many of those types of pages Google has indexed.

wildcard(*)

Definition: wildcard(*) to search for terms separated by 1-5 words
[internet * marketing] or [“internet * marketing”]

How to Be Awesome With It: The commands mentioned above are a great way to find articles about specific topics to build a potential list of prospects to market to. Keep in mind, though, that although these are powerful commands, they’re only as good as the searcher who is performing them is clever.

Honorable Mentions

Google Reverse Image Search

While this isn’t an advanced search command, it is so cool! Just click the little camera in the Google image search bar and you can query an image link or a local file and it tells you all the places where your image has been found. If you’re an image heavy site, you can easily reach out to websites that have snagged your images and ask them for a citation back to your site. It’s also fun to see just how image content travels.

Google Verbatim

Again, this isn’t a search command, but Google Verbatim allows you to search using the exact keyword you typed, so no spelling corrections, no replacing words with synonyms, and no words with the same stem, or personalization. Verbatim gives you search rankings without the preservatives. To get to verbatim from a Google SERP, click on Search tools, then you’ll find it in the All Results sub-menu.

New And Shiny: Bing Search Commands

Linkfromdomain:

Definition: Returns the pages that are linked-to from a domain.

How To Be Awesome With It: This command can be used to explore check the link neighborhood for a site or for finding prospective sites to connect to for promotional purposes.

IP:

Definition: This command returns originating results from websites or subdomains for the provided IP address. Another thing to note about this command is that prefix-matching is also possible with it, so ip:89 returns the site IP:89.356.567.76 if it’s in Bing’s index.

How To Be Awesome With It: This command can be used when you’re trying to map out a possible link network that may live on the same IP for competitor research or backlink removal projects.

url:

Definition: url: command tells you if a given URL is in Bing’s index.

How To Be Awesome with It: This command is similar to the Google cache: command. The url: command is a useful one to run to identify if a particular page is indexed in bing or not. This is helpful for diagnosing if you’re having a crawling issue in Bing beyond just using Bing Webmaster Tools.

Domain:

Definition: The Domain: command limits results to the domain that is specified. This command also returns any suffix matches. The big difference between the domain command and the site: command is that site: searches up to two levels only. Also, keep in mind that IP cannot be used with this command.

Tips For Bing Advanced Search Commands

Bing Meta Operators

Definition: A meta operator is an operator that is used with other operators. Takes a simple list as a parameter and returns results based on that. One example of this in Bing is keyword:(intitle inbody)software. The output of this command would translate roughly as intitle:software orinbody:software.

How To Be Awesome With It: When you’re trying to find a type of content with great precision, this is very helpful.

Other Fun Bing Commands for Geeks

Subtle Differences contains: and filetype: in Bing

The contains: operator returns pages that link to other documents and multimedia like music, video, PDF, and so on. Conversely, “filetype:” returns pages that created in the format that is specified, returning .pdf documents, if you specific filetype:pdf.

Understanding words surrounding a given keyword using near:

The near: operator searches for a specific keyword that is within range of another word. Bing documentation gives the example of foo near:10 bar explaining it as, “Ordering is considered in ranking. Thus, in this example, pages that contain bar ten words or less after foo would receive a greater boost in rank than pages in which foo appears ten words or less after bar. However, depending on the rest of the query, this does not necessarily mean that the former would be ranked higher than the latter.”

Blekko Fun SEO Slashtags

Although Blekko SEO data is no longer free to the masses, here are a couple cool slashtags that I have had fun playing with.

/links

Definition: Lets you see the links to a site.

/sitepages

Definition: Lets you check the popularity of internal pages of a site.

/domanduptext./duptext

Definitions: These commands displays URLs that have content that is the same as that of the website you are looking at. This lets you quickly check for content theft.

Other Great Resources To Check Out

Offical Documentation

Some Interesting Articles

Moment of Zen

Image Credit: 123RF Stock Photos

Source: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2229574/Advanced-Search-Operator-Tactics

Top 1 SEO Tips for 2013

If we’ve learned anything in 2012, it’s that Google isn’t letting up on low-value tactics. We’ve had the Penguin update13 Panda updates (so many that we needed a new naming scheme), and a crackdown on low-qualityExact Match Domains (EMDs), to name just a few. While I can’t tell you Google’s next move, I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty – there’s more to come. So, how can you protect what you’ve built in 2013?

I was going to write a long list of suggestions, but I realized that they almost all boiled down to just one idea. I’m not going to toy with you – my top tip for 2013 SEO is this:

1. DIVERSIFY

If at any point in 2012 you asked “What’s the best [X] for SEO?” (link-building tactic, tag, directory, etc.), you’re already in trouble. Any single-tactic approach is short-term at best. Real companies, real link profiles, and real marketing are rich with variety.

So, what does that mean, practically? I’m going to cheat a bit and split my one tip into five kinds of diversity that I think are critical to your SEO success in the coming years.

1A. Diversify Anchor Text

Let’s start with an easy one. We’ve all known for a while that overly aggressive inbound link anchor text was pushing the envelope, and the Penguin Update definitely reinforced that message. If every link to your site reads “buy best Viagra cheap Viagra today!”, it might as well read “spam spam spammity spam,” especially if it’s in a sentence like:

If you’re looking for the best price on the new iPad and iPad cases, thenbuy best Viagra cheap Viagra today! and get a free bag of Acai berries.

It’s not natural, and you know it. What’s the best way to make your anchor text seem “natural?” Stop obsessing over it. Yes, anchor text is a signal, but any solid link profile is going to naturally use relevant text and appear in the context of relevant text. If you want to tweak the text on some of your high-authority links, go for it, but I wouldn’t break out the spreadsheets in 2013.

1B. Diversify Your Links

Are guest posts the one true answer to all of life’s questions or are they a scourge on our fragile earth? To read the SEO blogosphere in 2012, it’s hard to tell. Any link-building tactic can be low quality, if you abuse it. The problem is that someone reads a tip about how guest posts make good links and then they run off and publish the same slapped-together junk on 15,000 sites. Then they wonder why their rankings dropped.

Nothing screams manual link-building like a profile that’s built with only one tactic, especially if that tactic is too easy. At best, you’re eventually going to be doomed to diminishing returns. So, take a hard look at where your links came from in 2012 and consider trying something new next year. Diversify your profile, and you’ll diversify your risk.

1C. Diversify Traffic Sources

There’s an 800-lb. Gorilla in the room, and we’re all writing more SEO blog posts to avoid talking about it. Most of us are far too dependent on Google for traffic. What would you do if something changed overnight? I know some of you will object  – “But ALL my tactics are white-hat and I follow the rules!” Assuming that you understood the rules 100% accurately and really followed them to the letter, what if they changed?

The more I follow the Algorithm, the more I realize that the changing search UI and feature landscape may be even more important than the core algorithm itself. What happens if your competitor suddenly gets site-links, or you’re #8 on a SERP that drops to only 7 results, or everyone gets video snippets and you have no videos, or your niche shifts to paid inclusion and you can’t afford to pay? Even if you’ve followed the rules, your traffic could drop on a moment’s notice.

You need to think beyond Google. I know it’s tough, and it’s going to take time and money, but if you’re dependent on Google for your livelihood, then your livelihood is at serious risk.

1D. Diversify Your Marketing

There’s been a very positive trend this year toward thinking about marketing much more broadly – not as a tactic to trick people into liking you, but as the natural extension of building a better mousetrap. I think this is at the heart of RCS (not to put words in Wil’s mouth) – if you do something amazing and you believe in it, everything you do is marketing. If you build crap and you know it’s crap, then marketing is sleight of hand that you hope to pull on the unsuspecting. You might score twenty bucks by stealing my wallet, but you’re not going to gain a customer for life.

Stop taking shortcuts and make a real resolution in 2013 to think hard about what you do and why it has value. If you understand your value proposition, content and marketing naturally flow out of that. Talk to people outside of the SEO and marketing teams. Find out what your company does that’s unique, exciting, and resonates with customers.

1E. Diversify Your Point Of View

I recently had the pleasure to finally see Michael Dorausch (a chiropractor and well-known figure in the local SEO community) speak. Dr. Mike arrived in Tampa for BlueGlassX and built his presentation from the ground up, using photography to tell stories about the neighborhood and local history. It’s hard to explain in a few sentences, but what amazed me was just how many ideas for unique and original content he was able to find in less than 48 hours, just by having a fresh perspective and passion for the subject. I’d like to say I was inspired by the presentation, but to be totally honest, I think the emotion was embarrassment. I was embarrassed that he was able to generate so many ideas so quickly, just by coming at the problem with the right attitude.

In 2013, if you tell me your industry is “boring,” be warned – I’m going to smack you. If you’re bored by what you do, how do you think your prospects and customers will feel? Step out – have someone give you a tour of your office like you’ve never been there. Visit your home city like you’re a tourist coming there for the first time. Get five regular people to walk through your website and try to buy something (if you don’t have five normal friends, use a service like UserTesting.com). The New Year is the perfect time for a fresh perspective.

Source: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/top-1-seo-tips-for-2013

Best Practices for Building Your 2013 Enterprise SEO Campaign

2012 has been a year of rapid change. The markets have changed, the search algorithms have changed, the SERP results have changed, and how we define what we do is changing.

We’re in an industry that is now 15 years old and growing rapidly. SEO is forecast to be a $2.2 billion industry, according to the Forrester U.S. Interactive Marketing Forecast 2011 to 2016.

The growth and importance of SEO and the fusion of search, site, and social fueled by advancement and integration of technology brings opportunity to scale our search and integrated marketed efforts to best effect for the best results. Here are some tips and a process that will help you build and, most importantly, scale your SEO campaigns in 2013.

What is Enterprise SEO?

A common misconception about enterprise SEO is that it is directly related to company size. Many companies and large brands with complex infrastructures, multi departments, multiple site and multiple products are well suited to enterprise SEO. However, small companies that manage large and multiple sites also use enterprise SEO.

Enterprise SEO involves managing search and social campaigns holistically using a suite of integrated tools that include monetary, productivity, and relationship management type solutions. From a technological perspective – it is a platform of integrated tools and features.

search-site-social-opportunity

Building Your 2013 Enterprise SEO Solution

Enterprise SEO captures and builds upon opportunities not just across your site, search and social campaigns but focuses on the interplay of data across these functions. How you use this data, execute and align action throughout your organization will be critical to your success in 2013.

enterprise-seo-data-analysis-opportunity-execution-roi

There are many ways to build an enterprise SEO campaign. For many, at first, the task may seem a little daunting. Above is a structured way of looking at it and breaking it down to make the process easier to digest.

Channels and Data

Site

Your site should be at the center of you SEO strategy. Building your enterprise SEO campaign means you need to recognize every entity in SEO, the subjects of your SEO strategy. These include pages, keywords, keyword groups, backlinks and social signals.

  1. Success and value based metrics: This is every metric that measures success as defined by you and your business – goals, business outcome, sales, conversions such as downloads, bounce rate – revenue and return.
  2. SEO variables – every variable that impacts and/or correlates with these metrics.
    • Traffic – visits, page visits, keyword traffic
    • Links – Domain- and backlink-based
    • Rank – Position for volume based and long-tail terms and branded vs. non-branded
    • On-page – title tags, H1 tags, alt attributes, anchor text
    • Social – Signals, Likes, +1’s
    • Content – keyword density, copy, headlines, text to content ratios and so forth
  3. Time variance – Ensure you have the ability, technology, and resources to measure these over a period of time so you can analyze performance, identify trends, and implement appropriate action.

Search

Google continues to evolve its algorithm to promote great content and demote sites that are focused on gaming or reverse engineering the algorithm. Google updates such as Panda and Penguin are indications that these search short-term tactics are over.

Link Analysis and Link Building

All your enterprise link building strategies are built to pursue 100 percent white hat practices.

Understanding and adapting to the way that SEO has changed is essential. Keeping up with change and innovation is a time and resource heavy tasks.

A great example of this type of best practice is highlighted in a detailed 8 page Majestic SEO and Rosetta Marketing Whitepaper on backlink management and best practices.

plan-research-contact-connect-audit

Local and Mobile

Google’s recent changes with regard to social signals and local search signify an important shiftand focus on mobile search as, in parallel, mobile adoption rates surge.

Search is also more local now as results vary by location and your enterprise SEO technology needs to deliver refined SEO success metrics and variables based on location.

Global

Many enterprise SEO campaigns need to also reach global audiences. For many, ranking globally is a top priority. Not only does this boost your marketing ROI, it also maintains your brand online and globally.

Now actually managing a global SEO is campaign is a whole post or two in itself as you look for variance and differences across local nuisances, translation, search engine types, and global law. Crispin Sheridan from SAP gives some great tips here on global SEO best practices.

Blended Search and Universal Search

SERPs now not only include blue links but also images, video, places, and news, among others. Your 2013 enterprise SEO strategy should make use of this opportunity to dominate the SERP by:

  • Tracking and analyzing universal rank performance for its keywords. It gives you more visibility into how different content types are doing on the SERPs
  • Tracking ‘blended rank’ (i.e., rank of the big blue links amongst all types of search results). It also gives you a better measure of their performance on the SERP – see metrics section above

As the market has a renewed focus on content in 2013 measuring how and where your content ranks.

Social

Enterprise SEO requires looking across traditional SEO techniques and social media channels. Social is a productive channel since search engines increasingly rely on social media traction for pages in order to decide how to rank them. Social media, influence and social media link building should all form part of your 2013 strategy.

For example, enterprise SEO teams are increasingly using Twitter to drive SEO campaigns. Leading brands like Adobe and Tiny Prints have actually driven rank by increasing tweets sharing those pages.

There are several data points you can use to build your campaigns. For example:

  • Understand which keywords are trending on Twitter and promote mapping pages.
  • Correlate Tweets with rank – where you see a positive correlation reinforce Twitter activity.

Analysis and Opportunity

You aren’t the only company vying for your audience’s attention, click, and revenue. Understanding where your competitors are positioned in SEO is one important aspect in today’s competitive landscape for meeting your organic search goals.

There are several ways to look at competitive intelligence. One framework approaches this from the content, authority, and opportunity angles.

Another good way to approach the opportunity aspect of competitive intelligence is looking at:

  • Improving share of voice: Understanding you and your competitors’ performance and strategies, and using this to improve your own share of voice.
  • Forecasting opportunity: Quantifying the value of SEO opportunities.

A key component of your 2013 enterprise SEO strategy should involve keeping an eye on competition since what they do affects you too.

  • Analytics for existing competition: Your enterprise SEO strategies should support competitive intelligence. For example, track how the competition is doing, vary analytics and actions based on this. This can be in the form of rank for your competitors for the keywords and keyword groups that matter to you; their backlink profile including anchor text and authority of linking domains
  • Discover new competition: Your known competition is on your radar. But be sure to include all your competition. For example, those that are in your line of business and are grabbing SERP real estate as well as those that happen to rank well even though they have nothing to do with your business. The latter are usually ignored since they don’t steal your business but they occupy positions that could have gone to you.
  • For both, deconstruct SEO strategies: The list of competitors isn’t enough. Look into building a system that helps you understand what their strategies are and what their target keywords are. Where is the competition getting their links? What’s the anchor text? What relevant keywords are they ranking for that you are not ranking for?
  • Turn your competitive intelligence into opportunities and close any gaps: Discover new keywords that you should be tracking, domains that are potential back linkers and so forth. You will uncover areas where your competition is doing well but you aren’t – narrow this gap. You see areas where you’re way ahead of competition – keep doing this better

Forecasting

The best way to decide where to invest your SEO resources is by projecting potential returns form each project. This way, enterprise SEO organizations allocate resources based on hard driven data.

Building your enterprise SEO campaign includes developing the expertise to:

  • Create a forecasting model: Know what problem you want to solve. Know what to forecast and how this will determine your actions and decisions. Know what determines the business result you want to forecast. Quantify how these variables will affect the business result.
  • Build the opportunity model: Allow for multiple scenarios, Define and place value on opportunities. Run the forecast for multiple scenarios.
  • Take Action: Based on projected revenues and business results.

Execution and Return

CRM, workflow and task management are a huge part on enterprise SEO campaigns – especially those for large brands that have multiple departments, sites, and reporting structures.

Good enterprise SEO involve technology and systems that align goals and objectives across your/your clients organization efficiently.

Streamlined Execution

Your enterprise SEO strategy should be set up to take the in-depth analytics and data and actually act on it. It should also foster a collaborative mindset driven by streamlining the way marketing activities are executed. It should also provide full visibility into how the teams are executing on its goals.

In order to build the most advanced enterprise SEO campaign it is important to use data to action. This comes from:

  • Reporting based on role: Enterprise SEO assumes that there are different roles within a marketing organization – the VP of marketing interested in revenue from portfolio of sites; director of search looking at rank and conversions from a subset of sites; and SEO managers seeking insight into keyword rank performance. Your enterprise SEO strategy should have the ability to deliver this varied insight depending on who’s seeing it. Also, every role digests information differently – executives need dashboards; SEO practitioners love to get their feet into the data. An enterprise SEO system not only satisfies different levels of hunger for data but also serves it in recopies digestible to each audience and especially the CMO.
  • Moving from understanding to action: Your campaign now has all the data, you have worked out how to present it in formats fine tuned to different audiences. Now is the time to extract real understanding and take action. It’s important to build a mechanism automatically calls out what actions to take. Ideally this mechanism should list possible and different actions that see people and managers can see right through your organization. Ensure your mechanism is comprehensive and can provide control to the SEO manager to target any of the SEO goals in previous section and provide insight on which variables should be controlled to achieve these goals.
  • Clear KPIs and organizational alignment: You have the data and now it’s time to share. Ensure that a clear understanding and agreement on your objectives such as:
    • Who does what?
    • How will you define KPIs for each team member?
    • How are these KPIs related to the overall goals of marketing?
    • Is every team member aware of how their KPI is related to the overall goals?
  • Streamlined Process – how tasks are executed with owners, deadline and status reporting: Knowing what the next steps is a great. The next step is to create a scalable program that takes all these steps and assign it to the concerned team members. Ensure all activities also has a deadline, decided in collaboration with the team member in charge of it as well as other team members on who this task might have dependencies.
  • Real-time visibility and transparency: In order to build a soundly executed SEO strategy 100 percent visibility will be required into how well the team is executing on all tasks. Corrective action, such as adding more resources to complete pending tasks, reallocating people to the tasks, may be needed. Every team member has to be in the loop about activities that influence their work or their own activities that impose dependencies on others.
  • Automation and efficiency: Does your data tell you that you need fix the on-page factors for the new landing page you just created? Then you probably assigned it as a task to your web team. How do you know if the task was completed? You could have the web team to update you on progress but building or utilizing an automated system – which automatically tells you when the on page factors get fixed – saves you vital time. Pursuing a back link on your partners site? Use or create a system that notifies you as soon as the link goes live with the right anchor text.

Executive Buy in and Operational SEO

A true enterprise SEO strategy across sites, search and social needs executive buy in and support. The execution of your strategy is dependent on multiple teams and team members doing their job in a collaborative manner – this varies between brand/in-house and agency models.

There are multiple moving parts that span across all areas of marketing, content, PR, and demand generation. Under such circumstances, it helps to have an executive champion ready to solve any technical, financial and people issues while reinforcing the important of the enterprise SEO strategy.

Ben McKay, Head of Organic Performance at MoneySupermarket shares some great insight.

“Be brave with organizational design. Prior to 2011, a team of 20 SEO’s might have been relevant to deliver campaigns, but moving forward a team of 10 SEO’s and 10 specialist digital marketers might be more value adding for both the business and consumers alike…at MoneySupermarket, we have seen a great deal of career development and satisfaction come on the back of this transition too.”

Close the Loop on ROI

After you run forecasts, run analysis on what’s working across channels, it’s important to see if you actually got the ROI you should.

For example, if you assigned a dollar value for a keyword opportunity that you pursued, did you actually realize the goals? If not, why? What went wrong? Were you projections off and was that due to any assumptions? Or was it a problem of execution – were you slow to execute on the content development plans in order to boost rank?

The reasons could be dime a dozen – the point is, after every project assess your ROI achievements and be sure to look across your:

  • Your data across sites, search and social
  • Your execution
  • ROI projections

What’s more – providing a tight integration of analytics with SEO enables companies to pull in ROI measurement and glean insights on how their efforts are performing and what actions they need to take. Integration allows you, as marketers and not just SEO professionals, to look across channels to measure total productivity across all digital disciplines.

2013 will involve looking closely at not just SEO, but also how it relates to content and social media and broader digital marketing and cross channel integration. More on that next year.

Visit this another awesome blog about SEO. Click here.

Making the Best of PPC Basics

I wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that virtually all PPC marketers have been through a stage with one account or another where, no matter what you try, the account just would not perform. You typically notice that the conversion numbers have dropped significantly over the past couple of months, and you perform some standard steps to correct what has gone wrong with your account:

  • Keyword Performance: Do a thorough analysis of the top-performing keywords on your account to find out if there has been any drop in the traffic they are sending you.
  • Keyword Diagnosis: Diagnose your keywords to find out if any of the negative keywords added by you have been blocking your ads from showing up for the most relevant keywords.
  • Seasonality: Check seasonality trends to figure out if the drop in conversions has actually taken place due to seasonal variations.
  • Competitor Behavior: Is there a new competitor in your market who has been very aggressive online, or have any of your existing competitors adopted new strategies that are working wonders for them? Conduct a competitor analysis to find out if changes in their advertising strategies have caused you harm.

Apart from the above common steps to solve the problems facing the account, many PPC marketers also implement a few additional techniques to, hopefully, increase the number of conversions received on an account. Some of these techniques are:

  • Display Network: Try out the display network, preferably for the theme that generates the maximum number of conversions on the search network.
  • Image Ads: Use image ads for existing display network campaigns due to the fact that users surfing on the display network will be more enticed towards clicking on image ads.
  • Conversion Optimizer: Use the Conversion Optimizer with a view to getting a high number of conversions at your target CPA value.
  • Remarketing: Retarget users who have been on your website but may not have converted.
  • Google Analytics: Make use of Google Analytics data like Bounce Rate to find out the performance of the standalone landing pages. View the Top Content report to find out which pages on the website work best, and then create specific standalone landing pages based on this report.
  • Ad Extensions: Implement ad extensions like site link extensions or call extensions to engage people in a more efficient manner with your standard text ads, etc.

While any of the strategies mentioned above may have worked for you at times, there is still a chance that none of the above have worked for your account and have only led to a high spend with no conversions, which resulted in a high account CPA. For example, if remarketing and image ads did not work for you, they might have resulted in high account spending and caused you more damage instead of repairing the problem.

So are there any options left for you in such a scenario? Oh, yes, there is certainly a ray of hope left, and the chance of your account getting back on track still exists. So what if the above so-called “advanced” strategies didn’t work for you? Let’s look at some basic concepts that are generally overlooked by many in favor of the “foolproof” strategies, but these things can also make your account perform.

Budget Optimization

Have you been spending too much on campaigns that aren’t working for you, or have you reduced budgets on campaigns that previously worked but have recently dropped off? I suggest aggressively increasing budgets for the historically best-performing campaigns and see what wonders it can do for you. Beyond historically best-performing campaigns, increase the budget for a campaign that hasn’t performed well in a while but that used to perform well, and there is a good chance that campaign might get leads again once it starts getting a little bit of your attention.

As an example, one of my clients who ran a home remodeling service had a “Bathroom Remodeling” campaign that had stopped converting at all for a few months between January 2012 to April 2012 (as seen in the screenshot below). I was running the campaign at the lowest minimum budget and didn’t give it the desired level of attention because the account had been performing well before then. However, when the account performance recently went down, and I couldn’t figure out what else was wrong with it, I raised the budget for the bathroom-related campaign to see if that would do any good. Would you believe it if I tell you that the campaign got two conversions that month? Well, see for yourself in the screenshot provided below. That campaign got 33% of the total conversions that are usually recorded for that account every month.

To conclude the point, budget optimization, if used intelligently and correctly, can do a lot more good for your account than just simply keeping the monthly spend under control.

Keywords Bids

Along with budget optimization, bid optimization plays a great role in helping an account perform well, even a dead account, for that matter. If you’ve been running your keywords in the same average positions for a long time, and you are happy with their conversion results, I suggest picking out a few average performing keywords and trying new positions for them to see if this can increase conversion performance and make you even happier than you already were with the account performance. If you are a risk taker, go ahead and try different average positions for your top-performing keywords, as I believe this is totally worth the risk.

Broad Match Modifier Match Type

The importance of broad match modifier match type has been emphasized repeatedly since the time Google launched it. Even in my personal experience, I believe it can be of immense assistance, and I ensure that every theme of mine has keywords in the BMM match type. To make the utmost use of this match type when you need your account to perform, pick out your top-performing keywords for every theme and add them all in to the BMM match type. This will help you improve the traffic coming to your website in terms of both quality and quantity (better quality than broad and better quantity than phrase), and, as we all know, quality traffic is always a key contributor to earning conversions for an account.

Ad Copy

Human nature is such that we get bored with things very easily. I want you to think of your target audience in the same way. They may get bored seeing your same old ads with the same old USPs. Thus, you should keep revising your ads to create new, attractive ads that will increase the odds of users clicking on them. New ads also help you stand out from your competition.

Basic things like using exclamation points, capitalizing the first letter of every word, using trademark symbols to establish brand credibility, and using prices in ad text can make a big difference and should be remembered when creating new ads for your account. Check to see if your existing ads are lacking any of these basic components, and if they are, make some of these basic changes to compel users to click on your new ads.

Keyword Variations

When optimizing your account in the past, you might have paused certain, broad keywords that could have received conversions for you, but at a poor ROAS or CPA value. Now may be the time to add these broad match keywords in restrictive match types like exact or phrase, as these new variations have a high probability of earning conversions for you, preferably at a tolerable CPA or ROAS value.

Ad Scheduling

Did you entirely forget about the ad scheduling you performed on your account? Too bad that it took time to realize that the same ad scheduling has been restricting your visibility, and it should be turned off now to let the ads run through the day. This will give the account a fair chance to show its potential because it will receive the maximum possible traffic. Needless to say, negative keywords should be added frequently to help refine the traffic received in terms of quality, which will improve your odds of receiving conversions from exceedingly relevant traffic.

Conclusion

Although the points mentioned above are very basic, PPC marketers tend to ignore or forget them quite often due to the lure of improving their accounts’ performances by implementing all the “foolproof” strategies. I suggest making the most of the basics before giving up hope, and you are bound to see some good results that will make your clients happy once again.

In the next post, we will discuss the various strategies that we implement in order to improve account performance and a few places where marketers generally tend to go wrong while executing them. Until then, I hope the above points help you see some good results. 🙂

Source: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/making-the-best-of-ppc-basics/45561/

Giving Your Local Search Marketing a Boost

Google Place

Most of the time, businesses tend to exclude local search to their online marketing campaign. What they didn’t know is that geo-specific searches are cost effective. Most consumer purchase is made locally; thus, it’s safe to say that a user is ready to buy a product if he or she is doing local search.

If you want to improve your business’ search result on local listing, follow the tips listed below.

List Your Business on Local Directories

It is important for every business to list their brand on local search engine directories like Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, and CitySearch. Local directory listing adds value to the business information that you share to the public. Just make sure that you post accurate and active details, such as contact number, so you won’t lose sales opportunity.

Update and Optimize Your Profile

Listing and filling in your business’ contact information is not enough. You also have to update it and make sure that all your profile details are correct and active. Optimize your profile by listing your business on relevant categories, add custom fields, include keyword-rich business description, provide location maps, and integrate brand-approved photos and videos. Doing so can definitely leverage your search visibility.

Spread Your Content

Other than major search engines, you should also list your business on other online directories. You can work with a content distribution partner that can provide broad reach for your business. This will make it easier for you to reach potential customers and establish your brand’s online credibility across multiple platforms.

Ask for a Product Review

Asking your existing customers for a product review could also be ideal, because it establishes your online reputation and helps your search engine ranking. It also informs search engines that you’re proactive and serving your consumers well. The more people talk about you online, the higher your page rank will be. It can also encourage other people to consider your product.

Monitor Your Campaign’s Success

It’s important to track your business campaign’s success, because it tells whether your business is heading up or down the drain. Use web analytics to track the traffic that your business is getting from local searches. Integrate it with your relevant offline tracking data such as coupons, so that it’ll be easier for you to monitor any return on investment. If you don’t know how to monitor your campaign’s success, you can seek help from a trusted third-party online marketing firm.

Your business will miss a lot of opportunities if you fail to leverage your local search marketing. Hence, it’s important that you integrate it with your other online marketing campaigns.

Source: http://aboutsocialmedia.com/articles/giving-your-local-search-marketing-a-boost/