3,099

PPC to Guide PPC?

Goodbye Google Keyword Planner, Hello Keyword Research Using PPC

Did you sigh when you heard Google is revoking free access to its Keyword Planner? Your first reaction was probably like mine: Google is sticking it to SEOs, once again.

What are we going to do?

Of course, we could invest in a third-party tool. Some of those tools might help fill the gap, but they are expensive and only as good as their sample size.

And that got me thinking: If I would have to pay for a keyword research tool anyway, why not use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising for my keyword research? If I create a small PPC campaign, I can get keyword data and several other advantages, too.

So, in this article, I will show you how I’ve done keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner; and, in contrast, what the advantages are of using a small PPC campaign to do keyword research instead.

PPC can help me identify new keywords

When you use the Keyword Planner (or a third-party keyword tool), you start by brainstorming a list of potential words.

Typically, this is what I’ve done:

  1. I brainstorm a list. I will get the client’s (or my boss’s) input, too. From there I try to think of synonyms for this keyword. Let’s say my keyword is “widgets”; they could also be referred to as “doohickeys” or “whatchamacallits.”
  2. I then try to find words that modify the original keywords. Here, I’m looking for long-tail opportunities. I ask myself, “What kinds of ways would someone want to use what I have to offer?” This could be modifiers like color. It could be solutions like “services” or even “solutions.” I might add geographical modifiers, too. A couple of great tools to help identify modifiers are ubersuggest or keyword.io.
  3. I try to organize all these on an Excel sheet. Each column contains rows of synonyms. I try to add modifiers in adjacent columns, with mutually exclusive modifiers in each row. I do this so I can take several columns to mergewords.com to assemble these lists into all the possible variations.

That’s a lot of work. It can take me a couple of hours to do. Even after all that time, I usually find that I’ve missed a few things. Sometimes, I miss some obvious things.

A small PPC campaign could automate that process. All I need to do is try a couple of keywords. Now, contrary to a regular PPC campaign, in our case the broader, the better. Still, I’d start the process with a Modified Broad Match phrase, not Broad Match. The point is to identify possible phrases, so Exact Match wouldn’t be particularly useful. Phrase Match could help identify those modifiers I mentioned, but it won’t produce the variations we want to see.

Once I start to get some clicks on my campaign, I’ll get the search queries that accompanied the clicks. These search queries aren’t guesses: They are actual phrases potential customers have entered while looking for me or my offering. Sure, it took me longer to get this data from PPC than from the Keyword Planner, but the data is better.

PPC can help me compare search terms

Now that you know how people are looking for you, you need to know which phrases they use more frequently. Knowing that helps establish your priorities and your opportunities.

You could use the Keyword Planner to compare terms against each other. From there you can find whether a potential customer is looking for one phrase more than another. You can also discover how customers are more likely to search for your services.

That’s not all you want to know, though. Just because people search for a phrase doesn’t mean they want what you’re offering. And so, for each phrase, I apply a formula to Google’s provided search data:

Volume x Competition x Estimated CPC = Opportunity

(Warning: Some math content to follow.)

Again, some people look only at the search volume number. That’s limited: Just because a lot of people search for a phrase doesn’t mean they are interested in what my company has to offer.

I need to know both the number of searches (volume) for a phrase and how competitive it is. I like to think about Google’s competition number (a number between 0 and 1) as a percentage: It represents the percentage of searches companies believe are relevant to their services. If a phrase has a competition number of 0.1, I speculate that 10% of those searches are relevant. Likewise, if a phrase has a competition number of 0.9, you might say businesses are interested in 90% of the searches. When I multiply the number of searches and the competition number, I get the number of relevant searches.

I also like to consider how many businesses want traffic from a phrase. If companies are willing to pay $5 per click for one phrase but $0.50 a click for another, clearly they want the first more. The theory: if they’re paying for it, it must be paying off for then. When I multiply the CPC number with the resulting fraction of relevant searches, I will have combined all these factors together. I call the resulting number the “Opportunity.”

That’s where things get interesting. Take this as an example:

In our example, twice as many people are looking for “widgets” than “blue widgets.” Since the latter is more competitive and companies are willing to pay twice as much for a click, it has a greater opportunity for me, too. So does “spinning blue widgets”: only one-tenth of the search volume, but people are willing to pay three-times as much per click. Don’t overlook that opportunity.

If you apply this formula to all your terms, you’ll see that some phrases with a lot of search volume provide less opportunity than phrases with more CPC. I don’t just want clicks; I want customers. Applying the “Volume x Competition x Estimated CPC” formula helps show me where the keyword opportunities exist.

Of course, if you’ve set up a small PPC campaign, you’ve already got all this information. With each keyword, your PPC campaign will tell you…

  • Impressions. It’s important to remember that Impressions and Search Volume represent different things. There will always be more search impressions (number of people searching for your phrase) than people who see your ad. It still serves the same purpose: giving you an idea of which phrase people look for most.
  • Competitiveness. Rather than rely on Google’s estimated CPC data, you’ll know for sure. In fact, in some small campaigns, you might not be able to bid enough for your ads to show up. If that’s the case, you know it’s a very competitive phrase.

With a small PPC campaign, you’ll get all this data without the extra steps you’d need if you were using the Keyword Planner.

PPC can help me estimate conversion rates

The point of any search campaign, whether PPC or SEO, is more leads—not just more visits. One of the biggest problems with SEO is estimating which phrase will produce those customers. You take a month (or so) to create a landing page, optimize the content, add images, build links (don’t forget internal links). Later, you find out that even though you rank No. 1, you aren’t getting any new customers from it. (Insert sad trombone sound here.)

PPC can more quickly estimate conversion rate. As an added benefit of doing keyword research through your PPC campaign, you’ll find out which phrases are more likely to produce leads. Now you know where to put your SEO efforts.

In fact, your small PPC campaign could even deliver you leads. Keyword Planner never did that for me! I doubt any third-party tool would make that promise, either.

PPC can test your messaging

Now that you know the keywords your customers are using, it’s time to put them into action. It’s time to write the landing page.

Ever had a hard time writing a landing page? What should you say? What will convince a customer to use your product or service? Even if you hire good writers, they will need some guidance.

This is where keyword research with PPC can be helpful. When you run your campaign, test some ad copy. Which one produces more clicks? Which one produces more conversions? That’s the message your potential customers resonate with. Write your landing page accordingly.

Keyword research with PPC helps with your messaging; that’s something keyword tools simply don’t offer.

Can you afford keyword research with PPC?

You might think you can’t afford to use PPC for keyword research, but don’t discount the idea. I’m not (necessarily) suggesting that you try a full-force PPC campaign. I spent just $100 over one month (my space is competitive and expensive) and learned the following:

  • What phrases people use to look for me. You know there are a lot of marketing buzzwords out there; I was able to thin those out to only the productive ones.
  • Some great long-tail keywords. I added them to my site.
  • Which keywords produced not only volume but also conversions.
  • What messages resonated with my customers; they weren’t what I expected.

Now, it wasn’t a gangbusters campaign. I didn’t become an overnight millionaire. It did produce enough benefit (I grew my email list 20%) that I continued the campaign after the test. In a way, the little campaign paid for itself.

Google will always have a love-hate relationship with SEOs. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t get angry. You can still strike back. You could simply use Bing Ads for your PPC keyword research. That’s what I did.

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click to see the

original article by David Zimmerman

January 3, 2017
1,675

User Intent & Voice Search Will Dominate in 2017

SEO trends to prepare for in 2017

What’s on the horizon for search engine optimization (SEO) practitioners in the coming year?

Search engine optimization is evolving at lightning speed. As 2016 begins to wind down, it is time to examine the digital marketing landscape for the upcoming year.

There have been numerous developments in SEO over the past 10 months. A lot of the prominent trends of 2016 will continue and grow in 2017. As Google’s algorithm updates constantly keep business owners on their toes, several other trends are expected to take shape in 2017.

Here are a few things look out for in the ensuing months:

Optimization for user intent

Although keywords are still important, typing in simple words yields simple results. Consumers today know exactly what they’re looking for, and search engines are getting much better at identifying user intent. Therefore, users are now entering full queries or phrases in search engines, which gather data and heuristics to provide results more effectively.

In 2017, brands will need to place value on optimizing their digital content based on intent rather than specific keywords. For your SEO strategy, it will be critical to:

  1. Investigate. What are users searching for that brings them to your page? What questions do they want your content to answer?
  2. Optimize. Once you have gathered your research data and found areas that need work, make the changes needed to boost ratings. Based on your research, tell the consumer’s story by altering content to reflect the reader’s experience.
  3. Adjust. Keep up with analytics to see what’s working and what isn’t so you can update accordingly.

More rich answers and snippets

We all turn to Google for answers. In response to our queries, Google will often display the required information directly in search results, along with other helpful websites, videos, movie or event information, reviews or specific dates.

Structured data markup (often referred to as “schema markup”) can help website owners achieve these enhanced listings on search engine results pages (SERPs). This markup works to assist search engines in understanding website content, allowing them to display that information in a way that is helpful for users.

For example, let’s say you ask Google for instructions for cooking meatloaf. The SERP features a rich answer (also known as a “direct answer” or “featured snippet”), followed by search listings that contain rich snippets relevant to recipes, such as reviews, ratings, cook time and calorie information.

 

According to a study by Stone Temple Consulting, the volume of rich answers appearing in search results has nearly doubled from 2014 to 2016. If this trend continues, we’re likely to see an even greater number in the coming years.

Adding structured data markup to your website can increase your chances of having an enhanced SERP listing, being featured in a rich answer, or (in the case of branded searches) having a knowledge panel appear.

Users love quick access to useful information like this, so do yourself a favor and consider implementing schema markup for your website in 2017, if you haven’t already.

Cross-channel marketing

Cross-channel and multi-channel marketing sound similar, but in actuality, they are very different. Multi-channel simply means establishing a presence on more than one platform. Cross-channel means you are using several channels to market your brand in an integrated way. For example, if users are browsing products on a mobile app but decide not to buy, you can send them targeted ads based on their searches via email or social media.

Multi-channel marketing is by no means a new phenomenon. Cross-channel marketing, however, is like an extension of it. The primary goal of cross-channel marketing is to create a consistent brand presence across multiple channels so that users can move seamlessly between devices and platforms to make a purchase.

According to Econsultancy’s fourth annual Cross-Channel Marketing Report, 73 percent of respondents claimed that cross-channel marketing had a significant impact on increased conversion rates. However, it is only effective if you know your target audience and their consumption habits. The big challenges that businesses face in this process include:

  • knowing what the right message is
  • finding the right time to release it
  • using the correct channel

Although there are several tools and resources to help, cross-channel marketing is still in the infancy stages, even with the widespread adoption of mobile devices. Consumers today are more connected than ever, and the need for quality cross-channel marketing will continue to be in high demand throughout 2017.

Increased mobile growth

Mobile accessibility has reshaped SEO over the past few years. Mobile search is growing at a rapid pace and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down in the future. Traffic distribution has been shifting away from desktop and moving towards mobile devices, and many websites are already getting the majority of their traffic from mobile devices.

In May 2015, Google reported that mobile searches had surpassed desktop searches on its search engine. Since then, the company has taken many steps which signal that mobile, not desktop, should be considered as the default user experience. In fact, Google recently announced that it has begun experiments to make its index mobile-first.

Mobile optimization is already extremely important in SEO strategies. However, it will prove to be mandatory in 2017.

Voice search is the next big thing

Voice search has been an ongoing project in the tech industry for a few years now. In the process of working out the kinks, it has become one of the fastest-growing search options. The appeal is undeniable. It’s hands-free, fast and futuristic.

As technology improves with each update, the error rate of voice search plummets. In his keynote speech at SMX West 2016, Google’s director of conversational search, Behshad Behzadi, noted that the speech recognition error rate has been reduced from around 25 percent two years ago to just 8 percent today.

The goal for voice search in 2017 is to go above and beyond voice recognition and evolve into voice understanding. This involves several changes with respect to:

  • previous searches
  • location-based context
  • context based on frequently used apps
  • personalized information
  • keyword research based on spoken queries

There’s no denying that voice search is a one of the biggest trends of the digital age. With massive improvements to Siri, Google Now and Cortana, SEO marketers would be wise to closely examine voice innovation and think beyond text-based queries in 2017.

Closing thoughts

The year 2017 will be a big year all around. Users are becoming increasingly connected and engaged with the content they consume. It is very important for SEO marketers to factor these upcoming trends into the bigger picture in order to be prepared to take on future challenges.

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See the original article:

http://searchengineland.com/seo-trends-prepare-2017-263710

by Pratik Dholakiya

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From Accelerated Mobile to RankBrain

The four pillars of the future of SEO

What does the future of search engine optimization have in store for us? Columnist Pratik Dholakiya looks at recent trends to explain the direction our industry is headed in.

SEO has come a long way from being all about on-page optimization, building backlinks and creating “relevant” content. When I read popular search engine blogs, I notice a definite trend: SEO is moving toward a more inclusive strategy that goes beyond new ways of link building or content marketing.

A huge part of present-day SEO practices is brand building and influencing search queries themselves, as opposed to starting with a truckload of keywords and creating content around them. Therefore, while links, keywords, content and site optimization remain the building blocks of SEO, the columns on which the edifice is being built are taking on a different appearance. Let’s see what these pillars are.

  1. RankBrain

Although RankBrain is the third most significant ranking factor in the Google algorithm, it is perhaps the most misunderstood one. The speculations and counter-speculations never seem to end.

Since RankBrain was one of the few algorithm updates that Google first revealed to a major news publication, it has caught and held onto the attention of the general tech-reading public, in addition to search engine marketers.

I personally believe Google’s admission that they fully don’t understand RankBrain. However, this doesn’t mask the fact that they’ve made great strides in using machine learning to entrust their prized search algorithm to it.

Additionally, we do have some idea about what RankBrain does not do. According to Gary Illyes and Andrey Lipattsev of Google, RankBrain does not act on your backlink profile, content quality or click-through rate. It only helps the algorithm interpret queries better and match them with relevant page content.

And since Google can do what it does best with less human intervention, industry leaders unanimously agreed that it will gain more significance. So it was no surprise when earlier this year, Jeff Dean revealed that RankBrain now processes every single Google search (that’s at least 63,000 a second) — up from barely 15 percent nine months before.

The future has already happened here.

But you cannot do anything about it: Gary Illyes said at SMX Advanced earlier this year that there is nothing one can do to optimize a website for RankBrain.

  1. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

In February 2016, Google integrated results from its Accelerated Mobile Pages project into its search results in the form of a “Top Stories” carousel in mobile results. Six months later, Google started displaying links to AMP pages in the main organic search results.

Today, Google has 150 million indexed AMP documents in its index, and, encouraged by mainstream adoption outside the publishing industry (including eBay and Bing), has just announced that users searching from mobile devices will be directed to the relevant AMP pages even if an equivalent app page exists.

However, the average Google user hardly knows the significance of an AMP result yet. In an informal survey conducted by Glenn Gabe, only three of 44 respondents could correctly identify what the AMP icon in the SERPs stood for. And they clearly prefer the “mobile-friendly” label over the cryptic “AMP” coupled with the lightning bolt.

This means Google’s decision is definitely in line with their aim of “bringing the mobile web on par with native apps and keeping Google relevant in the increasingly mobile-centric world we’re living in,” as we pointed out in an article on the E2M blog not long ago. AMP is here to stay (and become omnipresent), whether you like it or not.

  1. The Knowledge Graph & rich answers

Google’s Knowledge Graph, which it launched in 2012, is its slow but sure attempt to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible,” in line with their mission. In a nutshell, it’s Google’s attempt at scraping — sorry, replicating — Wikipedia:

The Knowledge Graph is a knowledge base used by Google to enhance its search engine’s search results with semantic-search information gathered from a wide variety of sources.

The “wide variety of sources” includes Wikidata (to which Google moved its Freebase data and actively contributes), Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook.

Typically, knowledge graph elements are in the form of boxes of structured information with links to authoritative sources of further information (not always, though). Common formats include the knowledge panel displayed on the right of a SERP and answer box, displayed on top of other organic results.

The number of queries that show ready answers in these formats continues to grow unabated, as ongoing studies from Stone Temple Consulting have shown. Currently, around 40 percent of Google queries display “rich answers,” which include featured snippets, but not knowledge panels:

Brand managers and marketers are increasingly looking to control the impression, conversation and queries that people have about them. Moving forward, one of the most effective ways to do that would be to try to influence what Google knows and has to say about you. Here are a couple of approaches from Propecta and Kapost that involve defining and connecting entities with markup, editing Wikipedia, and yes, not abandoning Google Plus.

  1. Real-time, integrated penalty filters

Now you see it, now you don’t. There it is! Oh, it isn’t. Google announced that they have finally updated Penguin (after what seemed like a never-ending wait of almost two years), noting that it is for the last time.

That’s because Penguin is now a real-time signal processed within Google’s search algorithm — data on your pages is refreshed every time Google re-crawls and re-indexes them.

A few months earlier, Google also integrated Panda into their main algorithm (though unlike Penguin, it does not update in real time).

Notice a pattern here? Google wants to make spam fighting a central, automated function of serving search results.

This is a very positive sign for website owners — cleaning up spammy backlinks and getting rid of poor-quality content will bring quick results. Marketers struggling to justify extra efforts to improve the quality of their websites will now be able to put their money where their mouth is.

Conclusion

It is clear that Google will focus on machine learning, understanding of semantics, connections and patterns and user experience in the future.

SEO at the moment is very closely tied to content marketing. While Google can interpret content and derive its relevance to search queries with a very high degree of success, it is constantly focused on making refinements to improve how timely, contextual and useful this content is to the searcher. The Knowledge Graph, rich answers, RankBrain and AMP all serve this purpose, while integrated penalties maintain the quality of results.

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originally published 9/28/16 in Search Engine Land

check out the original article for great graphs

 

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SEO + PPC = SEM Harmony

Anna Crowe wrote this sponsored post for Search Engine Journal on behalf of Bing Network, and I found it to be a good summary of the current marketplace with useful suggestions.

The Effectiveness of Search

SEM is considered one of the most powerful marketing channels. But does SEM really help drive traffic to your site?

It’s a question many search marketers have heard from clients 🙋, especially since SEM is taking up a large chunk of marketing budgets.

With so much of our time being spent optimizing for user experience and so much of our work measured on conversions, SEM has become a major part of our marketing roadmap — a new way to optimize your brand without leaving your desk.

Understanding the success of your search campaigns is a must for any business looking to drive traffic to their website. To better understand the effectiveness of SEM, let’s look at the research.

In An Overcrowded Space, SEM Finds Your Niche

SEM’s effectiveness is dependent on how strategic you are in your roadmap.

When your tasks and goals are clearly defined, and you have a little wiggle room for experimentation, SEM will be a consistent lead generation for your business.

“Search engine marketing and search engine optimization are critically important to online businesses. You can spend every penny you have on a website, but it will all be for nothing if nobody knows your site is there.” — Marc Ostrofsky, Author of Get Rich Quick

Take a look at these case studies to investigate how SEM can be a lead generator.

Teri Merrit discusses how Marriott International used SEM and SEO to drive demand and customer engagement to book group meetings. By setting growth metrics and tracking the analytics, they exceeded their total booking revenue, received a high conversion rate of 14%, and increased online submissions by 84%.

In 2015, Seer Interactive had 76,587 incremental conversions on Bing Ads for all their clients. One of their clients generated $461,159 in revenue from just Bing Ads! I’m not surprised because Bing has seen a massive 35% click growth year over year.

No, this isn’t magic. It’s the work of a great SEM strategy. Some industry experts would argue that it isn’t SEM itself, but rather improvements from the business as a whole. As you can see from above, the proof is in the numbers.

Search Ads Drive In-Store Sales

For businesses who want to see in-store sales, search ads seem to work the best.

Consider case studies like this one from Century Novelty. Utilizing Bing Shopping Campaigns Century, Novelty saw an increase in revenue by 1237% and return on investment grew by 20%. This isn’t shocking, as 25% of clicks on Bing Network are queried only through Bing.

Or, look at this study from Pinterest and Oracle Data Cloud. Together, they measured in-store sales of 26 different Promoted Pin categories. The results? Promoted Pins drove five times more incremental in-store sales per impression.

And, of course, Facebook recently launched several new local advertising options. French retailer E.Leclerc tested a Local Awareness campaign, and they saw 12% of clicks on their Facebook ads were then followed by an in-store visit within a week.

Chobani even saw a 9% increase in sales by utilizing SEM and SEO on multiple search engines.

As you can see above, research has proven that a strategic approach to search ads can not only build awareness but improve your bottom line.

SEO + PPC Create SEM Harmony

It is beneficial for a business to combine the powerful forces of SEO and PPC together if you need to produce results at a faster rate.

The reason is that new SEO tactics take time; since you don’t know what to expect from your competitors or the SERPs, you are inclined to create an SEO strategy for long-term growth.

With a PPC strategy, you know what lies ahead. Growth and lead generation require less time.
The combined efforts of SEM creates benefits in other ways too; it’s best to start with an idea and experiment to see what works best in your niche.

Let’s take a look at a few case studies:

  • Maryland Tub & Tile partnered with G3 Group to restructure their PPC campaigns and overhaul their SEO strategy. The combination of paid search and organic resulted in 325% increase in traffic.
  • Hedges & Company saw a 30% increase in sales from organic traffic and a 68% increase in PPC traffic with an automotive client.
  • Through targeting more relevant keyword terms, A/B testing, and creating content that attracts links, Digital Third Coast increased organic conversions by 49.4% and gained 851 view-through remarketing conversions for Olivet Nazarene University.

The SEM strategy you create impacts the overall goals of the business. When deciding what tactics will fill your marketing calendar, be specific; test until you discover what is most effective for your brand.

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See the original SEJ article

 

1,849

Niche for Your Brand

Anna Crowe wrote this sponsored post for Search Engine Journal on behalf of Bing Network, and I found it to be a good summary of the current marketplace with useful links to case studies.

The Effectiveness of Search

SEM is considered one of the most powerful marketing channels. But does SEM really help drive traffic to your site?

It’s a question many search marketers have heard from clients, especially since SEM is taking up a large chunk of marketing budgets.

With so much of our time being spent optimizing for user experience and so much of our work measured on conversions, SEM has become a major part of our marketing roadmap — a new way to optimize your brand without leaving your desk.

Understanding the success of your search campaigns is a must for any business looking to drive traffic to their website. To better understand the effectiveness of SEM, let’s look at the research.

In An Overcrowded Space, SEM Finds Your Niche

SEM’s effectiveness is dependent on how strategic you are in your roadmap.

When your tasks and goals are clearly defined, and you have a little wiggle room for experimentation, SEM will be a consistent lead generation for your business.

“Search engine marketing and search engine optimization are critically important to online businesses. You can spend every penny you have on a website, but it will all be for nothing if nobody knows your site is there.” — Marc Ostrofsky, Author of Get Rich Quick

Take a look at these case studies to investigate how SEM can be a lead generator.

Teri Merrit discusses how Marriott International used SEM and SEO to drive demand and customer engagement to book group meetings. By setting growth metrics and tracking the analytics, they exceeded their total booking revenue, received a high conversion rate of 14%, and increased online submissions by 84%.

In 2015, Seer Interactive had 76,587 incremental conversions on Bing Ads for all their clients. One of their clients generated $461,159 in revenue from just Bing Ads! I’m not surprised because Bing has seen a massive 35% click growth year over year.

No, this isn’t magic. It’s the work of a great SEM strategy. Some industry experts would argue that it isn’t SEM itself, but rather improvements from the business as a whole. As you can see from above, the proof is in the numbers.

Search Ads Drive In-Store Sales

For businesses who want to see in-store sales, search ads seem to work the best.

Consider case studies like this one from Century Novelty. Utilizing Bing Shopping Campaigns Century, Novelty saw an increase in revenue by 1237% and return on investment grew by 20%. This isn’t shocking, as 25% of clicks on Bing Network are queried only through Bing.

Or, look at this study from Pinterest and Oracle Data Cloud. Together, they measured in-store sales of 26 different Promoted Pin categories. The results? Promoted Pins drove five times more incremental in-store sales per impression.

And, of course, Facebook recently launched several new local advertising options. French retailer E.Leclerc tested a Local Awareness campaign, and they saw 12% of clicks on their Facebook ads were then followed by an in-store visit within a week.

Chobani even saw a 9% increase in sales by utilizing SEM and SEO on multiple search engines.

As you can see above, research has proven that a strategic approach to search ads can not only build awareness but improve your bottom line.

SEO + PPC Create SEM Harmony

It is beneficial for a business to combine the powerful forces of SEO and PPC together if you need to produce results at a faster rate.

The reason is that new SEO tactics take time; since you don’t know what to expect from your competitors or the SERPs, you are inclined to create an SEO strategy for long-term growth.

With a PPC strategy, you know what lies ahead. Growth and lead generation require less time.
The combined efforts of SEM creates benefits in other ways too; it’s best to start with an idea and experiment to see what works best in your niche.

Let’s take a look at a few case studies:
  • Maryland Tub & Tile partnered with G3 Group to restructure their PPC campaigns and overhaul their SEO strategy. The combination of paid search and organic resulted in 325% increase in traffic.
  • Hedges & Company saw a 30% increase in sales from organic traffic and a 68% increase in PPC traffic with an automotive client.
  • Through targeting more relevant keyword terms, A/B testing, and creating content that attracts links, Digital Third Coast increased organic conversions by 49.4% and gained 851 view-through remarketing conversions for Olivet Nazarene University.

The SEM strategy you create impacts the overall goals of the business. When deciding what tactics will fill your marketing calendar, be specific; test until you discover what is most effective for your brand.

=

Check out the original article

 

927

Personal Assistants and Directions are now Verbal

The voice search explosion and how it will change local search

Voice search usage is seeing unprecedented growth, with personal assistant devices leading the way. Columnist Wesley Young explores why this new medium is taking off, how it differs from keyword searches, and the challenges for local businesses to compete on yet another platform.

Since I noted Timothy Tuttle of Mindmeld’s LSA16 comments about the sudden increase in the volume of voice search queries, I’ve noticed an increasing number of articles on the subject. If the attention being given voice search is an indication of its anticipated impact on the marketplace, then it’s going to be a big deal.

The potential for voice search to become a major search medium is well illustrated by the number of slides Mary Meeker devotes to the topic in her annual Internet Trends report that was just released this month. Out of 213 slides, Mary included 23 slides on voice search. And while the numbers on voice search growth vary quite widely, they all agree: explosive growth.

Explosive growth and the reason behind it

At LSA 16, Tuttle shared that within one year (last year), the use of voice search went from a statistical zero to 10 percent of all search volume. That was huge. Yet more recent numbers show that growth accelerating — Google announced at I/O that 20 percent of all searches have voice intent, while Meeker’s charts show that in May 2016, 25 percent of searches on Windows 10 taskbar are voice searches.

Many explain the reason for voice technology’s growth is the improved rate at which voice commands are accurately captured. My personal experience with Siri a couple of years back was not a good one.

I started watching one of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne movies but couldn’t figure out where in the series it fell. So I asked Siri, “What order are the Bourne movies in?” Her reply: “You want to order a porn movie? Here are the 10 closest adult movie stores near you . . .” Fortunately, my wife heard my original query. But it illustrates the point — sometimes close isn’t good enough.

In 2013, Google’s platform had a word recognition accuracy rate of below 80 percent, according to Meeker’s figures. Just a couple of years later, that rate rose above 90 percent. Baidu now exceeds a 95-percent accuracy rate. Yet Andrew Ng, chief scientist at Baidu, stated that there is still significant improvement to make — that 99-percent accuracy is a game-changer. He believes 99 percent will make the difference between people barely using it and people using it all the time. At the current pace of improvement, we will get there soon.

A new player in search: Amazon

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the recent boom in voice-controlled personal assistants and search is Amazon. Whether it was planned or happened by pure luck, Amazon seems to have timed the release of Amazon Echo perfectly.

As Apple suffers due to the market saturation of smartphones and voice technology improvements are creating a new and satisfying user experience, the Echo’s voice-only interface distinguishes it from the vast sea of screen-based devices that have dominated the market.

It is estimated that in 2016, Apple will see a decline in sales of iPhones for the first time in a decade, while Amazon’s Echo sales are on the rise. Unit sales are still only a fraction of the sales of iPhones, but growth is impressive. In the first quarter of 2016, Amazon shipped about one million Echos, compared to Apple’s estimated 50 million iPhones, according to charts by Meeker.

However, that Amazon number reflects a year-over-year growth rate of about 150 percent. Amazon has over 300 million users. If the Echo gets adoption rates similar to the Kindle (both Fire and Reader), that could translate into total sales of approximately 168 million units. That’s not an unreasonable projection, given reports that the Echo is now outselling the Kindle.

How voice search is being used

And the ability to use voice recognition seems to uniquely satisfy a number of valuable consumer needs that would support continued use and growth of the medium.

Meeker cites a study that 61 percent of users state the primary reason they use voice is the utility of it when their hands or vision are occupied. What comes to mind immediately is use while driving. And yet, while a substantial number, 36 percent, said they primarily use voice commands in the car, 43 percent stated their primary use was at home.

Hound, a voice query app, found a fairly even split of voice query into four categories — Personal Assistant (27 percent), Fun and Entertainment (21 percent), General Information (30 percent) and Local Information (22 percent). Some of the functions performed in each category likely include the following examples:

  • Personal Assistant — Shopping lists; calendar events; appointment reminders; to do lists; making phone calls; online bookings; dictating and sending texts.
  • Fun and Entertainment — Listening to and buying music; interactive games and social media; searching and accessing video; sports schedules; TV listings.
  • General Information — Web search; recipes; news; banking and finance; travel.
  • Local Information – Restaurants; shopping; directions; home services; pizza; weather; reviews; local events; traffic.
Marketers will need to employ new strategies for local voice search

Given the growth of voice search, it has great potential to affect how local businesses are found. ComScore even estimates that by 2020, a full 50 percent of all searches will be by voice. While it won’t likely replace existing screen-based search, voice search will soon be enough of a factor that businesses need to understand strategies for being found by voice search.

And a significant portion of those strategies will be new: No one really has an existing SEO strategy for Amazon, so that will need to be understood and developed. Right now, Amazon’s Echo relies on “skills” — the equivalent of apps — to provide data which the Echo references for responses. For example, the Echo utilizes Yelp’s database for local service providers, retail and restaurants, as well as reviews in ranking and formulating its responses. As more skills are incorporated into Echo, it will become more and more complex for a business to optimize its profile and standing among all the various sources of information.

The number of skills in Amazon is small, but again, growth is impressive. At the beginning of the year, there were only 130 skills. Today, that number is over 1,000. Amazon doesn’t yet categorize or prioritize skills like other app stores, making them difficult to discover.

The Echo defaults to Bing for any general search query that is not covered by a skill, but that search experience is also relatively poor in its current form. It will be interesting to see if Amazon partners with Bing to improve general search. I assume it would be Bing, because it’s unlikely to be Google.

Voice search is different from keywords in a search box

Google isn’t likely to partner because it is developing a home-based personal assistant of its own, aptly named Google Home. Google clearly has an advantage in its unmatched aptitude and dominance in search. Yet even with its huge index that powers the best search query response on the planet, voice search will create new wrinkles in the process that may level the playing field to some degree.

The way individuals interact through voice search and queries is different from the way they interact with a search box. Because search queries are more conversational in natural language, they tend to be longer, more nuanced and reveal greater intent. For example, a user might type in keywords “a/c repair near me” but might tell a voice assistant, “There’s a burning smell coming from my outside Trane a/c condenser unit.”

It’s also easy to see how queries may no longer be “search-oriented” in the way we define it today but rather jump over search straight into a request for action. For example, instead of searching for pizza restaurants near me, you can now request Alexa (Echo) to order you a Large Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza with mushrooms and extra sauce and have it delivered to your house via the Domino’s Pizza skill.

Likewise, the natural progression for local search for service providers would be appointment-based. Instead of searching for electricians near me, the request might be a request for an appointment with the highest-rated local electrician who is available between noon and 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Both of these scenarios bypass traditional search and the opportunity for competitors to try and attract your attention through paid search ads, high ranking organic listings, or even adjacent listings in general browsing activity.

Amazon Echo’s focus on skills for access to content also will put small businesses at a competitive disadvantage compared to brands and franchises that have the scale to invest in developing content for the platform. Brands that have done so include Capital One, Uber, Domino’s, TechCrunch and NBC.

I’ve previously written about how it usually does not make sense for a local business to develop an app, and the same logic applies to Echo skills. However, my suggestion that local businesses optimize their presence on vertical sites that have apps is also a solution here.

For example, Kayak is integrated with the Echo, and users can find flight information, search for hotels and get price quotes for the travel industry. A local bed and breakfast is likely to see much more return by making sure its information on Kayak is comprehensive, accurate and optimized to be referenced within Kayak than by trying to build a skill on its own that would likely never be found or accessed by users of Echo.

Another example of voice search issues to be determined: What will be the SERP equivalent? How deep or how many providers will be mentioned or listed? Another issue: how do you make sure the personal assistant pronounces your name properly? Names can be tricky, and pronunciations that don’t match spellings can lead to your business not being recognized by the user or misidentified.

Future developments

Undoubtedly, other issues unique to voice will crop up, and it’s hard to anticipate what strategies might work best until voice search matures further and we see more data behind how people will utilize the technology. Others are also working on their versions of the technology with Facebook developing a personal assistant called “M” and Apple working on a standalone device for Siri, making it available to third-party developers and adding it to the Mac desktop experience in its next OS update.

However, there’s a chicken-and-egg problem: Just as the platforms are still working on making their service complete, consumers are still figuring out how to ask for what they want. Their queries will change as the services broaden and improve their offerings.

What we do know is that voice search will not mimic the search box. As more and more consumers turn to voice search, marketers will need to figure out how voice search queries and results differ from search engine results and help local businesses navigate the way through being found in results to being found in voice search.

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See original article including great graphics, originally posted by

Wesley Young on June 20, 2016 at 9:56 am

 

1,283

Argument for Organic

Why Organic Search Results Provide Higher Value to Users

There are basically two ways of online advertising, and it’s paid advertising and SEO (search engine optimization). Both of these advertising techniques work great if you know how to properly structure it. But there are a few distinctions between them. One huge benefit of SEO is that organic search results are considered as free cool information and not an advert that is trying to sell something. Basically, people naturally get to think, that those organic search results between the top and the bottom ads, are non-commercial, provided by independent bloggers and news sites. After a survey research that we did, asking the people what they normally prefer and go for, either ads at the top of the Google page or the organic search results, the majority of people said that they always click on organic searches, considering it a much more reliable source of information than paid ads.

This is the number one reason why we are convinced that getting the website or blog on the first page is so important. Besides, it requires extended knowledge of SEO to make it work for you, especially in the competitive market. I am not saying that the paid advertising doesn’t work, not at all. If you create a great ad copy for the specific product or service, it could be very well worth it and the traffic start coming to the website of an offer almost immediately, and it’s a great way to test the new product or service, how it performs on the market.

But when talking about the trust and growth of a business, implementing SEO is very important. As I mentioned earlier, to properly execute an SEO campaign requires very deep knowledge and skills, mainly in the highly competitive niches. It also takes some time and patience until you see the results, but once the website gets to the first page of Google, it’s just a matter of maintaining the position and the organic traffic just rolls in 24 hours, 7 days a week. Another huge benefit of the organic search listing is that you can rank the website or blog on the first page for the keywords and phrases where some businesses pay easily around between 100 – 300 dollars per click! So, hopefully, everyone can see the value of organic search results.

Let me ask the simple question. How much do you think that the particular business is willing to pay to the SEO expert to get their website on the first page of Google if they are easily willing to pay 200 dollars per a single click to their website or an offer?! I know, it’s crazy to imagine the monthly budget of these companies and businesses, it’s going to 4 – 5 figures per month spent on advertising. So, if I can cut down the cost to half for them by implementing the advanced SEO skills and strategies, do you think that they would go fo it? There is no doubt they will.

And it gets all even better.

I and a couple of other SEO professionals have developed the technique that can secure even more than one spot on the first page of Google, just like shown in the video and screenshot. By maintaining more than one position on the first page, the chances that someone (potential customer) will click and end up on your website are much higher.

Educating the Businesses

By being in the SEO business for a good while, I can see that there so many businesses and even a big multi-million dollar companies that still have no much of a clue about what is SEO and how exactly it could help them in their business. So, as I mentioned before and the first thing that I always say to the business owner is, that it’s just another way of online advertising without actual advertising. The majority of internet users don’t consider it as ads, but cool, independent and free info.

We really should educate all business on this subject and present them the undeniable benefits of search engine optimization for their business. I have seen so many sceptic business owners when trying to explain what is SEO, that they literally thought that I am some kind of confidence trickster making this stuff up. But believe that this is going to be more important year by year, and businesses that will hop on the fast accelerating train now will gain the massive advantage against those that stayed behind because of their scepticism. So, I urge all the business owners to seriously consider this fact and their current situation and place in the market.

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See the original article plus graphics at Business2Community

2,406

Grasping the Local Web

Local marketing: What is the true local web?

Columnist Garrett French explains how local businesses can improve their online visibility by becoming a part of the local ecosystem, both online and off.

If you’re just in Yelp or the Yellow Pages, you’re not truly “local” yet. You’re missing out on audiences native to a particular city.

Yes, you have to be in these big directories. But marketing in the true local web means creating campaigns relevant to audiences where they live.

In this piece, I’ll outline our team’s recent findings on the anatomy of the true local web, with a focus on how “Web National” brands and app developers can organically access local customers in any community.

What is the “true local web?”

The true local web is composed of websites that are published by actual local organizations, as opposed to websites that are created by national publishers that don’t have a real local presence. In other words, these are websites published by entities with actual addresses in the city you’re trying to market to.

The true local web includes not just local retail or service businesses within a given city, but other organizations, as well. It includes the nonprofits. The arts. The news publishers, bloggers and events native to a location.

Who should care about the true local web?

There are three types of businesses vying for web traffic in CITY X:

  1. Businesses local to CITY X
  2. National chains with brick-and-mortar locations in CITY X
  3. “Web National” businesses that serve CITY X without a brick-and-mortar location (think Uber)

When you write about “local marketing,” most people assume you’re talking about the first option above, maybe the second. The third generally gets ignored, even though it’s arguable that these organizations are most in need of true local web connections. “Web National” isn’t a ubiquitous term yet, but we’d argue that it’s a distinct category, separate from other national brands.

All three business types care about web traffic and search engine rankings within CITY X, but their strategies for getting there are going to vary.

The true local web is more easily accessible for the local business owner. She already knows people on various town committees; maybe she bowls with local bloggers on Tuesdays. Even if she doesn’t already have these connections, they’re easy to pursue because she’s already a local in her target market.

National chains with smart marketers will encourage their brick-and-mortar store employees to leverage their local connections. Supported by their national advertising and PR strategies, each unique location doesn’t have to spend much on local marketing, thanks to the “rising tide” nature of these big chain businesses.

But how do “Web National” organizations solidify their place in the market?

They haven’t yet curated local connections, nor do they have physical storefronts and signage to draw in customers. For these reasons, web national organizations may need the most help accessing the true local web.

True local web engagement for traffic & rankings

If the true local web is an online manifestation of a city, then partnerships with these local organizations are the way to access true local web traffic and to influence local PR, social media and search rankings.

A bit about true local partnerships

Local sponsorships are the bread and butter of a community. But to find them, you have to take the time to look in the breadbox and dairy drawer!

Sponsorships are the crux of the true local web. They allow local, chain or web national businesses to join community efforts, often including a myriad of advertising for one’s dollar.

We often see local sponsorships overlooked because they’re complicated and disjointed. Each organization is unique, with its own price points, benefits and requirements. But the benefits for local visibility make them worth pursuing.

True local social media marketing

Going local with social media means attracting pages and influencers that are region-specific. This could mean individual bloggers and local celebrities, or it could mean Meetup or Facebook groups focused on a particular city.

As with sponsorships, they’re disjointed, but they also provide a way to meet potential customers without the noise of traditional marketing tactics. When you have to dig for a true local fit, there isn’t as much competition.

True local social media opportunities can be found by connecting with nonprofits, clubs, events and organizations looking for monetary or in-kind donations. Even partnering with a nonprofit for an employee volunteer day can secure social media mentions to the organization’s local following. These activities are also primed for storytelling, which is why web traffic can also be served by public relations.

True local PR

Local journalism isn’t dead. But it has moved online. The upside is that there are now many more options when it comes to outreach — a more liberal company may even consider bloggers as members of the press. After all, many of them cover a beat, share local news and hold themselves to legal standards.

But as with finding and coordinating partnerships with organizations, working with local press can be a messy enterprise. In our experience, local journalists are spread thin, and they don’t often have time to evaluate every unique pitch from an unknown source. There are two best practices for securing local press, and both could be considered part of a long-game strategy:

  • Persist, respectfully. Keep emailing (new) pitches. And don’t stop developing locally relevant stories.
  • Show up. The upside of “true local” is that journalists in a given city won’t be hard to track down. They’re wherever news and community can be found. The more a brand is involved with community goings-on, the more chances brand representatives have to meet and greet the reporters covering these events.

True local blogger engagement

Topical searches for bloggers are not new, so why not search for online influencers who live in a particular location? Try using advanced operators to search “about” pages for mentions of your target city, and see who comes up. (For additional ideas, we’ve discussed some great tactics for finding local bloggers in the Citation Labs Local Webinar.)

Local blogger engagement can work for one-off campaigns or as part of a larger event (see below). While not all bloggers in Dallas consider themselves “Dallas bloggers,” with the market saturation of online writers over the past decade, many are looking for a way to stand out from the crowd. And local blogging can be a real money-maker.

In-person engagement: Where true local tactics link together

Event engagement is as local as it gets. Events may come with a booth, tickets or a table at the dinner party. And it’s a tactic primed for creative thinking. Local presence can drive so much more than awareness; a presence at these events can be used to:

  • generate app downloads;
  • sign up new customers;
  • hand out coupon codes;
  • engage with local bloggers and press; and
  • reward existing local customers.

If you’re at an event, you should be doing everything you can to drive potential customers to meet there. Web national organizations that can’t afford to send a rep to CITY X may even recruit a local customer to be a brand advocate in the area. What better way to reward frequent customers than to give them free tickets to local festivals?

Additionally, if you spend money on local advertising, why not let people know that they can come meet you at an event?

“We Are A Proud Sponsor of the BBQ Festival! Come Get a Dessert At the ACME, INC Booth!”

If you design your event engagement properly, there might be a case for local press or bloggers to be there. There are a lot of ways to weave these pieces together by being physically in a location, at a specific event. Oh yeah, and you’ll most likely get a link and social media mention from the event, too.

Welcome to the neighborhood.

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Original article by on March 22, 2016; see it here.

2,142

Skyscrapers and Premiums

Small businesses in particular cannot escape the importance of link building.  This post provides some great tips.

6 strategies to build links for your small business website in 2016

Small business owners often don’t know where to start when it comes to local link-building for SEO, so columnist Pratik Dholakiya shares his tips and suggestions.

Link building remains the cornerstone of most search engine optimization efforts. According to Moz’s “2015 Search Engine Ranking Factors Study,” links have the strongest association with higher search rankings of all the (known) attributes used by Google in its core ranking algorithm.

But one of the most common issues for small businesses is the struggle to build quality links. Lacking familiarity with current SEO best practices, many small firms still fall for the infamous black hat tactics to get links.

That is a mistake.

You see, search engines will continue to crack down on link exchanges, paid anchor placements and other shady approaches to building links.

Therefore, it is best to avoid these “old school” methods and focus on relevant, authoritative links that drive real traffic. Here are six ways to build such links for your small business website in 2016:

  1. Partner with niche-specific influencers

Niche-specific influencers have connections with readers that bypass the “industry atmosphere” and form meaningful relationships. You can establish content partnerships with influencers who serve relevant content to your target audience.

For instance, you can be a regular contributor to their blogs and occasionally link out to your own landing pages. Consumers are more likely to trust these links over one or two sponsored posts for two reasons:

  • They trust the influencer to only allow contributors who provide value; and
  • a regular contribution from a small business owner/employee is seen as an honest contribution.

Consider the case of Paul Downs, a contributor at The New York Times’s You’re the Boss blog (now discontinued). He started a custom furniture business in 1986 and grew it over the years, sharing his expertise with other small business owners through his column.

He has a link back to his website from The New York Times. He achieved this link and exposure through his regular contribution to the blog, which offers advice to small business owners.

  1. Leverage local partnerships

If you’re addressing people in a particular geographic area, then forming partnerships with local organizations can be an opportunity to get backlinks from their websites. In that case, you may already have existing partnerships, so all you need to do is get in touch with partner websites for link placement.

Aim for locally owned franchises and businesses instead of big corporations. You can also replicate the first link-building strategy by contributing to local blogs. And apart from local business blogs, you may come across official community blogs and local news blogs that welcome guest contributions.

Another thing you can do is sponsor local events that cater to small businesses. This can get you links from the event’s sponsorship page.

Apart from events, you can sponsor award ceremonies, conferences and charities.

  1. Use the skyscraper technique

Invented by Brian Dean of Backlinko, this technique simplifies the link-building process by not requiring you to reinvent the wheel. Instead of coming up with new content ideas week after week, you can simply take what’s working for others (including your competitors!) and improve upon it. There are three steps to the skyscraper technique:

  1. Discover top-performing content in your niche. Top-performing content can be determined based on the number of times it has been shared on social media or the quality of links pointing to it. You can use a tool like BuzzSumo to search the content that has performed well and a tool like Open Site Explorer to analyze the quality of its backlinks.
  1. Create something better. Perhaps the top-performing content is low on practical examples or case studies. Or maybe it doesn’t go into as much detail as it could. You can deliver more value on the same theme by creating a more in-depth or comprehensive piece of content on the same topic.
  2. Promote your content via outreach. Reach out to relevant websites and influencers via email and social media. (Hint: Look at websites and influencers that are already linking to the content you’re improving upon.) Give them a heads-up about the new piece, and that includes the most recent information and examples.

The skyscraper technique is also considered “content marketing for link builders.” Various reports reveal that this technique has helped businesses build organic links and drive traffic to their websites.

  1. Search for business mentions

Finding business mentions that do not include links on community resource pages, forums and so on is a convenient and cost-effective way to build links. In addition to using the brand name when trying to uncover backlink opportunities, use other relevant keywords that would be listed on the page in addition to your business name to narrow down your search.

With BrandMentions, the web mentions database, you can discover mentions of your business and relevant keywords in the last 24 hours, last week and last month. Choosing “English” as the preferred language will further narrow down mentions. BrandMentions can be used with Google Alerts to research new mentions.

 

After you click on a particular URL, use CTRL+F (find function) to search for your brand on the page. You may find articles that are dedicated to your business or indirectly mention your business but don’t include a link to your website. Get in touch with the authors of these articles and ask for link insertion.

  1. Create a resource page

Depending on your locality, you can create a local resource page that includes useful information for small businesses in your area. For instance, if you’re a clothing retailer in Washington, DC, you can create a list of the best wholesalers and manufacturers in your city.

When you provide useful information, other businesses (even competitors) will link to your resource page. You can partner with local subject matter experts to create information-rich resource pages; the efforts put into these pages will pay off once they capture the attention of businesses in the industry.

 

A resource page can then be cited when participating in Q&A websites and local business forums. It might even land you interviews and guest appearances (webinars, podcasts and so on), providing opportunities to build links from participated content.

Also, check sites like Help a Reporter Out for additional linking opportunities.

  1. Create premium content

If you want to get backlinks from major publications and leading industry blogs, you need to create premium content — content that demonstrates thought leadership and isn’t just a complication of tips or lists from other small business blogs.

Premium content includes:

  • white papers;
  • e-books;
  • resource pages;
  • in-depth blog posts;
  • podcasts;
  • case studies;
  • infographics; and
  • co-created guest posts.

While premium content pieces require more time for completion, they have a much higher chance of being linked to than a standard blog post.

Partnering with other businesses that are not direct competitors can cut costs while giving all partners an opportunity to attract authority links.

Final thoughts

Before your competitors gain an edge over your website in SERPs, make a resolution to jump on the link-building bandwagon. The strategies mentioned above will help you gain links and enjoy better search rankings for your website.

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See original post including graphic examples at Search Engine Land.

2,047

Analysis Tools for SEM

Opace reveals 5 effective search engine marketing tools you need to know about

These days, everything is online and that’s why virtually every company has a website and most are now active on social media. But, if you really want to make the most of your digital marketing it is important that you are always a step ahead of your competitors who are in the same field.

Mr. David Bryan, Managing Director at Birmingham SEO agency Opace comments “Search engine marketing has got a bad reputation over recent years but it’s never been so important. Whether it’s organic SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) or paid advertising using AdWords or Bing, search engine marketing is at the heart of most businesses’ digital marketing strategies”. These five search engine marketing tools suggested by Opace will help to promote your website by boosting its visibility on search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Rank Checking Tools: Understanding keywords and their rankings is critical to any SEO campaign.SEO professionals need to keep a check on three basic parameters of any SEO campaign they are working upon. They are – profit, trend of traffic and conversions. Rank checking tools often help in analyzing how well a specific keyword or group of keywords will perform on a particular search engine and where that website ranks for that keyword. They also help in showing how much a particular keyword’s popularity and ranking has grown over time. It has a special feature that displays how your ranking has changed with respect to time. Two rank checking tools that we would recommend are – Moz.com’s Rank Tracker and Link Assistant’s Rank Tracker.

Link Analysis Tools: The link analysis tool is also an essential part of any SEO campaign. It provides in-depth data about historic inbound links and also helps to detect fresh links. Many modern tools also help to identify link spam, negative SEO or links which may contribute to a potential Google/Penguin penalty. Tools often also help users to download all of the links in Excel or CSV format, providing valuable data such as the IP address, domain age, Domain Authority (DA), Google Page Rank (PR), Trust Flow, penalty risk, anchor text and much more. The most important tool is Google Search Console (formally known as Webmaster Tools).The tool is free and provides the most important source of inbound links data available as it’s coming directly from Google. The other tool that would recommend is Open Site Explorer by Moz.com.

Search Analytics Tools: Having good search analytics is a crucial marketing tool. They provide a graphical or numerical presentation of how much traffic a website is attracting, how good the traffic is (bounce rate, time on site, conversions, etc), where the traffic is coming from (clicks, referrals, paid advertising, etc) and provide an indication of how well users are engaging with the content. If used properly, these tools will provide invaluable data and show how successful your marketing efforts are. Google Analytics is probably the most well know and data-rich tool available. It’s also free which a major benefit is. A slightly different tool that we would recommend is Hot Jar, which shows visitors active on your website in real-time and in a highly visual way, so that you can see where they’re clicking and scrolling. The tool will even capture video recordings to show the user’s journey on your site.

Competitive Research Tool: Various data providing services have centered on providing competitor research and comparative data to their clients over a long period of time. Competitive research tools can provide a lot of useful data, including the best keywords to use, percentage of traffic driven by a particular keyword and data showing competitor links and marketing efforts (e.g. social metrics). These tools often help to differentiate among the traffic driven by paid search ads and organic search. Some popular competitive research tools include Google Trends, SEMRush, Alexa and HitWise.

Keyword Research Tools: Keywords (or key phrases) are considered to be the soul of search on any search engine. In order to get your organic listing or ad to the top of the search page it is necessary to really understand the keyword and what it’s going to take to get you to the top. In organic search, it’s important to know the search volume, how many other sites are ranking for the keyword/phrase and how well established those sites are – understanding their age, popularity, inbound links and social metrics is important.

For paid advertising, such as Google AdWords, it’s necessary to identify and bid for the right keywords, so you need to understand the competition and set a suitable ‘cost per click’ bid and campaign budget. It is advisable not to make any hasty decisions while selecting keywords or go for a “carpet bomb” approach as you will exceed your budget very quickly and won’t get much meaningful data from it. The most popular keyword research tool is Google Keyword Planner (formally known as the AdWords Keyword Tool) which can be used for both organic SEO and paid search advertising. Other tools such as Keyword Spy can also provide valuable data.

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Read the original Examiner article here

 

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