Posts about search engine optimization

Prep Your Website for Black Friday: A Marketing Checklist [UPDATED]

This post was originally published on October 8th, 2015. We’ve updated it with several new checklist items for 2016.

With Black Friday coming up on November 25th and Cyber Monday following right on its heels, your holiday marketing is no doubt well underway. In all the chaos, it’s easy to overlook some of the small but impactful online marketing tactics you can use to boost sales on two of the biggest shopping days of the year. With that in mind, we’ve put together a marketing checklist of things to do in the weeks leading up to Black Friday.

Download a PDF of our Black Friday Checklist

Web Design

o Update homepage for Black Friday.

Make sure anyone who lands on your homepage in the days leading up to Black Friday/Cyber Monday knows about the deals you’re going to offer. Add relevant banners and calls-to-action, change your home page header/hero image to highlight your Black Friday offers, and consider adding a countdown clock to build excitement. You may also want to create a banner that you can place at the top of all pages to remind shoppers about your deals.

o Simplify forms and checkout process.

Take some time before the holidays to go through your checkout process and identify steps where shoppers are likely to drop out. Eliminate unnecessary form fields and try to minimize the clicks it takes to complete a transaction.

Compress and resize any images that are weighing down your pages. 

Unnecessarily large images can slow down page load times, and online shoppers aren’t going to wait patiently for your site to load. Take some time before Black Friday to check images on your home page and most popular product pages, and either resize or compress high-resolution images.

o Test site to ensure all pages are mobile-friendly.

By now you likely know how important it is to have a website that looks good on mobile devices. Even if you think your site is fully responsive or adaptive to mobile, it’s worth testing individual pages—especially new ones you’re adding ahead of Black Friday. Enter page URLs into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test bar to determine if all pages meet Google’s criteria for mobile-friendly design.

o Set up live chat.

There are dozens of live chat systems available online, and you can easily set one up by adding a piece of HTML code to all the pages where you want the chat window to appear. If you don’t have a system in place yet, install one before your big holiday sales days so that potential customers can quickly get help from one of your team members.

Email Marketing

o Craft emails to build anticipation for your sales.

Schedule your emails so that subscribers receive an initial announcement about your holiday sale, followed by several messages designed to build anticipation and keep you top of mind. Consider revealing some of the upcoming Black Friday sales prices on top-selling items, or send out a sales offer that is exclusive to email subscribers.

A/B test subject lines.

Remember: before you can get readers to click on email links leading to great Black Friday deals, you have to convince them that opening your email is worth their time. Businesses flood their subscribers’ inboxes with promotional messages around the holidays (MailChimp delivered 1.2 billion emails last Black Friday), so you need to make sure your messages stand out. Be clear about the deals you’re offering in your subject line, and A/B test different subject line variations to see what gets the most engagement.

o Write copy for transactional emails.

Tailor order confirmations, abandoned cart notices, and other automated email messages to your Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales. Consider adding copy about upcoming holiday sales to encourage visitors to shop with you again before the end of December.

o Write emails to remind shoppers that your sale is about to end.

Create a segmented list of email subscribers who haven’t purchased anything on Black Friday or Cyber Monday and send an email several hours before the end of sale, reminding them that there is limited time to take advantage of your discounts.

o Test email links.

Before running any of your holiday email campaigns, take a few minutes to make sure none of your email links are broken and that all links go to the appropriate landing page.

o Create landing pages that align with email CTAs.

It can be jarring for email subscribers to click on a call-to-action that takes them to a landing page with a completely different offer—and shoppers aren’t as likely to convert if the initial CTA and landing page don’t match. Check the copy in your email message and on the landing page to ensure it’s coherent.

SEO

Make sure you’ve enabled ecommerce tracking. 

If you sell products through your site, you should absolutely set up Ecommerce Tracking in Google Analytics (if you haven’t already). Ecommerce Tracking will give you more insights in your customers’ behavior patterns so that you can better tailor future sales to your audience. If you’re not sure how to set up Ecommerce Tracking, check out our step-by-step guide.

o Check page load times.

Go to the Site Speed tab in Google Analytics to check the load times of your web pages. On average, people will give a page three seconds to load before abandoning the site, so if you have pages with slower load times, you’ll need to fix them. If you’re not sure what’s causing the slow load time, have your marketing team perform an audit.

o Create landing pages for sales categories.

Include ‘Black Friday’ or other holiday-related keywords in your title tags, header tags, and content so that the landing page has a better chance of being served to web users who enter relevant search queries.

o Research long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords will have a lower search volume than more general Black Friday-related keywords, but they will also have less competition and are more likely to attract shoppers who are looking for your specific products or services.

o Pitch products to influencers who curate gift guides.

Backlinks from high-quality third-party sites are a ranking factor for SEO, so it’s always a good idea to make connections with bloggers and journalists in your industry who may be interested in sharing your content. Lots of sites begin publishing holiday gift guides in November and December, so try pitching some of your best gift products to relevant sites. In addition to the SEO-value of backlinks, having your products featured in gift guides can also help drive traffic to your site.

o Local brick-and-mortars: check your online listings.

If you own a brick-and-mortar as well as an online store, go through all the major online directories to make sure your address, phone number, and other important information are up-to-date. If you have not yet claimed your business on Google, do so now using Google My Business.

PPC

o Set up meeting with your PPC team.

Keyword bids will be high around Black Friday because this is one of the busiest shopping times of the year, so you need to get the most out of your budget by choosing the keywords that are most likely to lead to conversions for your business. Unless you are a PPC professional, you should meet with your PPC team to discuss strategies.

o Create PPC campaigns tailored to consumers who are researching before Black Friday.

Most Black Friday/Cyber Monday shoppers will be researching deals in advance so that they can get the products they want before they are out of stock. In the weeks leading up to Black Friday, tailor the copy in your PPC ads to your customers’ research phase.

Prepare ads for several top sellers if you think you may run out of inventory.

Have you been promoting a particular product heavily? Is it possible that this product will be out of stock before the end of Black Friday? If so, write ad copy for several other top sellers so that you will have ads ready to go if you have to pull the ads for an out-of-stock item.

o Retarget web users who have already visited your site.

If you have a retargeting pixel set up on your site, start remarketing to customers who have previously browsed your site. This is a good way to stay top of mind and announce deals to people who may not be on your mailing list but who have shown interest in your products.

Use day parting and bid scheduling to maximize your paid search budget. 

Look at your historical data to see which times of day you’re likely to see the highest levels of traffic and conversions. Allocate more of your paid search budget to the top-converting hours of the day to maximize your ROI.

Social Media Marketing

o Use Facebook and Twitter remarketing.

Retargeting pixels on your website aren’t just for PPC ads—you can also use them to create ads for custom audiences on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook even lets you serve ads to Lookalike Audiences—that is, people who are similar to your existing customers and therefore likely to be interested in your products. If you’ve never done this before, talk to your online marketing team about creating targeted social media ads before Black Friday.

o Create exclusive offers for followers on social media.

Offering exclusive discounts is a great way to reward your followers on social media—and to encourage those followers to recommend your social profiles to their friends and family.

o Put together holiday gift guides and share on social sites.

Use a design template site like Canva or Piktochart to create visually-appealing gift guides in different categories (e.g. ‘Stocking Stuffers’, ‘Gifts for Grillmasters’, etc.), and share those guides on your social channels. If you have a following on Pinterest, keep in mind that you can now create buyable pins that integrate with Magento, Bigcommerce, and IBM Websphere.

Use relevant holiday hashtags. 

Do some research into hashtags that are being used around Black Friday and think about how they pertain to your sale. You can, of course, use tags like #blackfriday and #cybermonday, but keep in mind that everyone else will be doing this as well. To stand out and get customers excited for your sale, consider using additional hashtags related to your store name and location. Let social media users know they can get updates on your sale (or maybe even get entered into a contest) by using your business-specific hashtag.

o Make sure at least one team member can monitor Twitter on Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

If you have an active presence on Twitter, you should assign at least one team member to monitor this social site for mentions. If customers are tweeting at you because they have a question or complaint related to your sales, you’ll want to be able to respond quickly.

Having trouble with any of the action items above? We’d be happy to help you check all the boxes on your holiday marketing to-do list. Contact us to get started.

How to Set Up Ecommerce Tracking in Google Analytics

You probably already know that Google Analytics is a great tool for tracking consumer behavior patterns and traffic to your site. If you’re already using Google Analytics to track activity on your site, great job – but that’s only half the battle! If you sell products online, one of Google Analytics’ most powerful tools is its ability to analyze not only how people use your site, but what they’re buying and how they’re purchasing your products. That’s where Google Analytics’ ecommerce tracking comes in.

As a newbie or even as a seasoned user of Google Analytics, implementing and understanding ecommerce tracking may seem a little intimidating. Not to fear – follow our quick-start guide to get moving with ecommerce analytics tracking.

PART 1: SET IT UP

First off, you’ll need to decide what kind of ecommerce tracking will fit your site’s needs. There are two kinds of ecommerce tracking available within Google Analytics:

  • Standard Ecommerce Tracking: Includes most of the major info you’ll need to analyze customer purchase activity, such as transaction information and average order value.
  • Enhanced Ecommerce Tracking: Includes all the functionality of Standard Ecommerce Tracking, but also allows you to analyze consumers’ paths to purchases and inspect other factors such as shopping cart abandonment. Enhanced ecommerce tracking is only available if your site uses Universal Analytics (recognizable by the “analytics.js” snippet in your analytics tracking code).

It’s up to you to decide what kind of ecommerce tracking will be best for your business. If you’re looking to get a better understanding of the way consumers make purchases on your site, Standard Ecommerce may be all you need, and the relative simplicity can be helpful. If you have more specific questions (for instance, if you’re noticing that your customers seem to be viewing a lot of pages but are struggling to complete the buying process), Enhanced Ecommerce might be a good way to zoom in on the deeper processes behind customer decisions.

So now that you’ve decided what kind of ecommerce journey you want to set off on, it’s time to implement tracking. We’ve broken the process down for you:

  1. Enable Ecommerce on Google Analytics: The first thing you’re going to need to do is enable your analytics account to record this kind of data. Simply…
  • Sign into your Google Analytics account
  • Click on “Admin” at the top of your page
  • In the “View” column, select the view you’re ready to track
  • In the “View” column, select “Ecommerce Settings”
  • Set the “Enable Ecommerce” button to “On”
  • If you’re setting up Enhanced Ecommerce, switch it on as well
  • Click “Next Step” and then “Submit”
  1. Set Up Tracking on Your Website: This next step can be a little tricky, so tread carefully! To collect ecommerce data, you’ll need to add JavaScript to your website (or Analytics SDKs for mobile apps) to track the data. If you’re comfortable with writing and editing code, this shouldn’t be too difficult, and Google offers a general guide to implementing it here. If you’re less well-versed in coding, reaching out to a web developer or Google Analytics expert for assistance is a better plan to prevent any mistakes that could incorrectly record data and negatively affect your decision-making process.

PART 2: WHAT IT ALL MEANS

The home of your ecommerce data

The home of your ecommerce data

Now that you’ve implemented ecommerce tracking, what’s next? Luckily, once you’ve added your tracking code and set Google Analytics to detect it, your ecommerce reports will start populating with data and you’ll be able to start analyzing your customers’ shopping habits like a pro. Here’s a quick crash course in understanding your Google Analytics Ecommerce reports:

Finding Your Ecommerce Reports in Google Analytics:

-In Google Analytics, navigate to the view in which you implemented ecommerce tracking.

-Select “Reporting” from the main menu.

-On the left-hand side menu, select “Conversions”.

-Select “Ecommerce”.

Another cool feature that comes along with implementing Ecommerce Tracking is that you can now see ecommerce info directly in many of the reports in Google Analytics.

Select your favorite report and check out the ecommerce info that you can now find by selecting “Ecommerce” in the menu of the “Conversions” section at the right-hand edge of your reports. This is very convenient when you want to quickly segment your ecommerce data in relation to dimensions such as demographics, geography, or channels.

Looking at ecommerce info in a source/medium report

Looking at ecommerce info in a source/medium report

Understanding Ecommerce Lingo:

You probably already understand several of the metrics within Google Analytics’ ecommerce report, such as Revenue and Quantity, but there are some new metrics within this report that you may not be as familiar with. Here are a few important terms to keep an eye on:

Ecommerce Conversion Rate: This is the percentage of sessions that culminated in an ecommerce transaction. Your ecommerce conversion rate gives you a quick way to determine if your shoppers are buying or if they’re just browsing.

Unique Purchases: This refers to the number of times that a specified product (or set of products) was part of an order. In other words, if one person purchases two or more of the same item, that will only count as one “unique purchase”. This can be useful to determine how customers purchase your products and could help you identify if offering promotions such as bulk discounts could be a beneficial action for certain products.

Transactions: Are a few customers buying a ton of stuff, or do you have a ton of customers buying one item each? The Transactions metric tells you how many times a customer made any kind of purchase on your site. When you compare your number of transactions to your total revenue, you can calculate “Average Order Value”, which is another useful Google Analytics ecommerce metric for understanding how valuable, on average, each customer’s transaction is to your business. Knowing the average value of transactions is key to efficiently planning your digital marketing efforts going forward.

Obviously, there is a lot more you can look at within ecommerce reports, especially if you have decided to implement Enhanced Ecommerce. If you ensure that your ecommerce tracking is installed correctly, the data collected in these reports can help you understand your customers’ behavior on a much deeper level.


If you’re ready to dive in but are still unsure where to start, contact the Leverage Marketing team today. We’re seasoned Google Analytics experts who are pros at setting up and analyzing ecommerce data, and we’re ready to answer your toughest ecommerce questions.

Should You Put Your Money on Video Marketing?

If your online marketing efforts don’t include video, you’re now in the minority. An estimated 87% of online marketers are using video content in some form, and advertisers are spending $10 million annually on digital videos. Of course, “everyone else is doing it” isn’t enough to justify using video for marketing. Let’s look at some of the advantages of video marketing that may help sway you if you’re still unsure where to allocate your digital marketing dollars.

Benefits of Video Marketing

Informative and entertaining online videos can provide a great return on investment for your business. Videos can:

  • Increase your links and brand visibility. That’s because 92% of mobile video consumers share videos with people in their network, according to Invodo. Having videos from your site shared doesn’t just increase your visibility, it also helps your search engine rankings.
  • Increase a web user’s average time on your site. Many web users prefer to consume information through videos rather than text; in fact, Diode Digital found that video promotion is 600% more effective than print and direct mail combined. Web users are more likely to engage with your site if they can watch a video. More time on your site means greater engagement and a boost in search engine rankings.
  • Help your potential customers make a purchase decision. 90% of web users say that watching a video about a product helps them decide whether or not they want to purchase it, according to Insivia.
  • Help your B2B company reach its audience. Insivia also reports that three-quarters of executives watch videos on relevant business websites on a weekly basis.
  • Boost your email engagement. Forrester found that adding video to a marketing email can increase the click-through rate by 200-300%.

Determining Your Online Video Costs

Filming Online Ad

It’s clear that there are numerous benefits of video marketing for your business, but can you afford the upfront costs? The good news is that the barrier to entry for video production is lower than you might think. You can even make company videos using a smartphone, some basic editing software (typically costing around $40-$100), and your in-house team. Of course, the quality of the video generally increases along with the budget. Marketing company Hinge estimates that a basic 1-2 minute video produced by a professional corporate team will cost about $5,000-$20,000, while a premium 1-2 minute video with top-level talent, high-end cameras, and a studio will cost $25,000-$50,000.

Free to $50,000 is obviously a pretty wide range, so if you’re thinking about using video for marketing, you’ll need to spend some time working out your own budget and determining if the cost is worth the benefits.

Your budget can be broken into three basic categories: time, labor, and equipment.

Time

If you’re making a simple explainer video with members of your in-house team, you might only need to set aside a few hours for shooting, but if you’re making a larger-scale video advertisement or case study, shooting might take a few days. In addition to actual filming time, you’ll need to account for pre-production planning, writing the script, traveling to and from the filming location, and editing. Remember that you’ll have to account for the time of everyone working on the project, so the more people you have, the more man-hours you’re likely to log.

Labor

Some companies are able to produce quality videos using employees as their actors, camera crew, and editors. However, if your in-house team has limited experience with video production, you may need to set aside part of your budget for hiring a professional videographer, editor, and/or spokesperson. The more experience these contract workers have, the more you can expect to pay.

Equipment

As previously mentioned, it is possible to make a DIY online video with a smartphone camera and basic editing software. However, for a more polished product, you may need to purchase (or rent) high-end cameras, multiple lenses, and sound and lighting equipment. Depending on the shots you have planned, you may also need specialty video production equipment such as a tripod, dolly or jib crane. Each of these items will add to the cost of the final product.

Investing in Video: Know What You Want to Achieve

Video Streaming

Before deciding exactly how much you want to spend on video marketing, it’s important to determine exactly what you’re trying to achieve. For example, are you trying to increase your brand visibility with top-of-the-sales-funnel advertising? Are you trying to show consumers who are at the decision-making stage how to use your product? Are you trying to establish yourself as an authority in your industry? Make sure the goal of your campaign remains top-of-mind with everyone working on the project so that your online videos have a significant impact.


Still unsure how much your company should invest in video marketing, or any other form of online marketing? Talk to our team at Leverage– we’ll be happy to help you come up with a strategy for success.

 

How Long Does It Take Google to Index a New Site?

It takes between 4 days and 4 weeks for your brand new website to be crawled and indexed by Google. This range, however, is fairly broad and has been challenged by those who claim to have indexed sites in less than 4 days. Even though Google’s inimitable search engine works on an algorithm, the eternal math that’s happening behind the scenes can’t produce a single, solid answer for us. Still, a guideline of 4 days to 1 month gives webmasters a small amount of comfort while they wait to see where their page will appear in the search giant’s results pages.

How Sites Are Crawled and Indexed by Google

The entire process of indexing is handled by Google’s search algorithm and bots like the Googlebot, which have real-world limitations of hardware speed and physical space for servers. The bots run constantly as they turn the endless digital fields of lost information into over 100,000,000 gigabytes of index. In this way, Google creates a map of the infinite library of the visible Internet.

  1. googlebot google colored robot cartoonGooglebot, the algorithm-equipped web-crawling digital robot, sets out to explore the Internet and stops at websites.
  2. When it encounters a site, it reads the information on the website according to instructions outlined in the site’s robots.txt file. Bots like Googlebot prefer to read text and follow links that they find to bank more information, and will follow sitemaps provided by webmasters.
  3. The content the bot discovers and what that content contains is sent back to Google servers, where it is added to a database.
  4. Information in the database is fed to computer programs that keep track of which sites should be crawled, how often bots should visit them, and the number of pages to fetch.
  5. Other programs determine the relevance and value of the content on crawled sites and reward the ones that meet Google’s strict criteria with rankings near the beginning of search results.

Googlebot has an affinity for new sites, changes to existing sites, and dead links. If you’re a new site owner and want your site to be indexed as quickly as possible, you may want to put the spotlight on your site using some of the methods listed below so that the bots looking for fresh reading are drawn to your domain.

Can I Make Google Index Faster?

Yes, many webmasters have found that taking steps to signal to Google that you’ve got a new, real website brimming with potential keeps the indexing time closer to the lower range of 4 days to 4 weeks. The steps follow the logic that making your site visible in the digital realm will also make it stand out to Googlebot.

Build a Site That’s Indexable

Before connecting your site to existing channels on the Internet, make sure your site’s structure is prepared for its very first presentation. Provide the following to the Googlebot:

  • Value – Produce content with text that a Googlebot can crawl
  • Ease-of-Use – Make sure you have a high ratio of text to code in favor of text
  • Navigation – Include a navigation bar that links to all of the major and permanent content on your site
  • Real Language – Use URLs on web addresses and alt text on images that explain the site content
  • Simplicity – Minimize Javascript or code it to load after the HTML (since Googlebot reads text and gets signals of the importance of text from HTML)
  • Direction – Check your robots.txt to see if it allows the Googlebot to crawl your site properly

These are search engine optimization basics that unlock the door to your website once the bot finds it. Delays in indexing may be caused when Googlebot can’t gain entrance even if it sees your site clearly.

Set up Google Analytics

google analytics logo with chart

Google Analytics is the comprehensive, free web analytics tool that collects and organizes website traffic data into customizable reports. Connecting Google Analytics to your website is a way of saying “Hello!” to Google. Though data may not appear in Google Analytics until your website is indexed, it still sends a signal to Google that you’re serious about building your web presence.

Set up Search Console

google search console logo
Google Search Console
, formerly Google Webmaster Tools, gives you more in-depth information about how your website appears in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and reports to you when Googlebot has a problem crawling and indexing your site. Before your site is initially indexed, you won’t receive any search console data. But showing Google that you are manually activating Google services sends another green light to Googlebot, who is on the search for all the green lights it can find.

As a bonus, setting up Google Search Console will also help you look for crawl errors so you can find ways to fix them.

Submit a Sitemap

submit sitemap google search consoleIf you want to create a sitemap, which is a rough outline of your site optimized for bots, take advantage of the Google Sitemap Generator. Though many content curation tools and website development kits now generate their own sitemaps, you’ll still need to submit one through Google Search Console. To do so, choose Sitemaps under Crawl in Google Search Console and click the Add/Test Sitemap button.

Google Fetch & Render

fetch and render google search console menuYou can ask Google manually to send a bot out to your website via the Fetch & Render option or the Submit URL option in Google Search Console. Google makes no guarantees that submitting your URL will result in a crawl or indexing. Additionally, even if Google is able to render your website, having it fetched may not produce fast results. However, doing one or both increases the odds of an early detection by Googlebot.

Note: After performing a fetch & render, Search Console will provide an option to index what was fetched. Clicking this option further raises your chance of becoming visible.

Get Links

Grabbing links to your site before it is indexed creates pathways to your site on websites that Google is already crawling. Just getting links is not as easy as it sounds, though. You’ll have to search the web for places that you trust, trust you in return, and believe in your website enough to offer you a link. Traditional networking and marketing approaches may help you earn links, so don’t be afraid to hit real pavement in search of links that will accelerate indexing.

Start Outreach

While you’re searching for links, start developing digital relationships with your target audience, other business owners, webmasters through outreach. You can:

  • Send emails to potential connections
  • Look for guest writing and blogging opportunities
  • List your site on directories (blog directories, business directories, etc.)
  • Send out press releases

We are in an age of rule by social media, and whether you enjoy it or not, those who want attention to their websites and fast indexing must embrace social media tools as a means of creating links, customers, and fans.

Set Up Social Media

social media buttons alignedChoose social media outlets that you have the capacity to manage and make accounts for those. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn are among the most popular and well-used, but you’ll need a social media manager, a team of social media specialists, or the willingness to sacrifice the majority of your free time if you expect to keep a constant social media presence.

Create accounts with your business name and post links to your site as soon as it’s up. Most links created on social media are called nofollow links, which instructs bots not to go down the link’s path. However, Googlebot crawls social media quite a bit, and it will notice follow as well as nofollow links.

Anything Else I Should Know About Google Indexing?

Don’t fear the 4 days to 4 weeks range. Even 4 days gives you time to optimize your site so that when it finally gets indexed, it will top the SERPs. Before you begin signaling the Googlebot, read Google’s guidelines for valuable content and make sure each word you write adheres to them. Have patience, be active, and trust that Google and its hard-working team has the best interests of searchers in mind when it crawls and indexes.

Why Mobile Marketing Matters to Your Brick-and-Mortar Store

As a local business owner, it might seem to you as if web design and mobile marketing are the domains of ecommerce companies. After all, your primary goal is to get customers to make purchases in your brick-and-mortar store, not off of your website.

However, even if you don’t sell any products or services online, local mobile marketing still matters to your business, and you need to have a mobile-optimized website. According to the latest Pew research, almost 7 in 10 Americans now own a smartphone, and the majority of these smartphone owners have used their mobile devices to find information about local businesses. You’ve probably experienced this yourself—maybe you’ve pulled out your phone to search for a good lunch spot close to work, or you’ve searched for nearby bike repair shops after getting a flat tire.

As you no doubt know from your own mobile search experiences, people who look up local business information on their phones or tablets are typically motivated to take some sort of follow-up action. In fact, one study found that 55% of mobile-influenced retail conversions take place within an hour of the original search.

Your website serves as an online storefront, and it can be a powerful tool in getting customers through the door. However, a poorly designed website can create a bad first impression, and if mobile users struggle to find the information they’re looking for on your site, they’re much more likely to go with a competitor.

By developing a mobile strategy for your retail or hospitality business, you can make sure your potential customers get the right first impression and make the leap from your website to your brick-and-mortar location. Below are a few tips to help you improve your local mobile marketing.

5 Tips to Improve Customers’ Mobile Experience

Choose Your Mobile Platform: Site vs. App

Facebook and other apps

There are two primary ways that users could find a business on their mobile device: they could open a web browser and go to a mobile site, or they could install and open an app. In most cases, a mobile website will be your best bet—it’s easier to create, and two-thirds of mobile phone users say they prefer getting local business information from a site rather than an app. However, an app might make sense if you are able to use it to provide additional benefits to customers—for example, you could use an app to send push notifications to users about the latest discounts and specials available at your store.

Test Site for Responsive Design

Responsive design is a popular choice when optimizing a website for mobile because it allows web content to adapt to fit any screen size. If you use responsive design for your site, perform your own user experience test by going to the site on your phone or tablet and making sure all pages are fully responsive and easy to navigate. And if you own a restaurant, make sure mobile users can view your menu without downloading a cumbersome PDF.  Due to the relatively large file size, PDFs often download slowly on mobile devices, which can be frustrating for mobile users.

Make Key Information Prominent

When consumers access your website on the go, they’re most likely looking for some essential information. According to an eMarketer survey, a physical address is the most commonly searched piece of information about your business, followed by map and driving directions, open hours, and phone number. Make sure this information is readily available on your mobile site—consumers don’t want to waste time scrolling or navigating through different pages to find what they need. Business name, address, and phone number should appear across all pages, with a consistent format (this is important for search engine indexing as well as making it easy for people to find key information).

Promote In-Store Deals

If you’re competing with online retailers, use your mobile site to convince web users that it’s well worth their while to visit your physical location. Prominently display special discounts or deals that consumers can’t get online, or highlight additional benefits associated with going to a brick-and-mortar location. For example, if you own a running apparel store, write website copy that explains how customers can test shoes out by running on your treadmills and find the perfect fit with the help of a running footwear expert.

Pay Attention to Local SEO

Local Search Marketing

In addition to optimizing your website so that it looks great on all screen sizes, you’ll also need to focus on technical and on-page SEO so that local shoppers can find your site when they enter relevant search terms on their mobile device. Here are a few strategies to try:

  • Optimize your copy with location-based keywords (e.g. ‘San Diego chiropractor’)
  • Make sure you have claimed and filled out your listing in online business directories (e.g. Google My Business)
  • Encourage customers to share their feedback on review sites that typically rank highly, such as Yelp
  • Create local content that is relevant to your business, such as a neighborhood guide or list of upcoming local events
  • Make sure your landing pages are optimized with location information

These tips provide a high-level overview of what goes into a solid mobile strategy for local retail and hospitality businesses. To learn more about how you can improve your online storefront through web design and SEO, contact our team of digital marketing experts.

Why Your Site Needs More Than an Instant Audit

This blog post was written by social media intern Ali Flowers. Ali is a Senior at the University of Texas at Austin, where she studies Public Relations. Ali enjoys good food, good friends, and spending time with her family.


So you’ve decided your company needs to invest in digital marketing. Great! Every business or organization can benefit from actively promoting themselves online. You are on Google and you search for ‘digital marketing near me’. You’ll likely be served thousands of results and several top-of-the-page advertisements about digital marketers in your area. Regardless of what link or ad you click on, you will probably be offered an instant audit.

What’s an Instant Audit?

With an instant audit, a marketer (or marketing automation software) analyzes various aspects of your business or organization’s online presence so that they can then advise you on the efforts you should take to promote yourself online. Some agencies claim they can audit your site in minutes or even seconds.

This might leave you thinking: Great! I can get all of that information at the click of a button? Who knew! Well, yes, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Why are Instant Audits Risky?

Digital marketing is a huge investment in both time and money.  It ranges from things like search engine optimization to paid search and even social media, all of which can work together to increase your sales, and none of which are free. Would you really feel safe making such a big move for your company based off of such a quick assessment of your site? That would be kind of like buying a house immediately after seeing a few pictures of its exterior online.

So What Should You Do?

You do need an audit–but one that is done thoroughly. You need trained professionals to look at your previous marketing efforts and your competitors’ marketing efforts, find your strengths, identify your weaknesses, and then give you a full overview of your company’s situation. Your marketing agency should conduct interviews and create a report of your company’s digital marketing history so that you can identify specific areas for improvement. A real, fully-developed audit takes time, and you shouldn’t just settle for one that was given to you at the click of a button.

If you are ready to move your company into digital marketing, find a company that will provide you with a thorough audit. Look for a marketing partner who can accurately tell you where to invest and how to push your business forward. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your audit shouldn’t be either.


Check out our methodology page to learn about the in-depth analysis Leverage Marketing performs for prospective clients. If you’re ready to have us review your digital marketing opportunities, schedule a call.

What is Attribution Modeling in Google Analytics?

Attribution Modeling in Google Analytics assigns values of credit to defined channels within a buyer’s journey to conversion. That’s a lot to take in – so think of it this way: Digital marketing experts and data analysts attribute credit to the parts of the journey they believe won the conversion into a business lead or customer using attribution in Google Analytics.

Can I Use It If I’m Not a Data Analyst?

Absolutely – Google Analytics does most of the hard work for us. It collects massive amounts of data and filters it into handy reports through which we gain insight into the behavior of visitors to our site. If we want to set up attributions to discover more about what our customers are up to on our site and at what point they decide to become our customer, we need only to dive into the Conversions menu and explore Multi-Channel Funnel Reports and Attributions.

Among the wealth of features available in the Conversions menu are reports that show us the buyer’s journey in different ways. Google Analytics has a predefined set of attribution models available through which we can filter the data in those reports even further. There is no set up required to use the default attribution models provided by Google Analytics – but for those who want the deepest knowledge of their most powerful marketing channels, some assembly is required.

Concepts You Must Know to Understand Attributions

Though you may already be familiar with some of the key concepts behind defining attributions, fully understanding the complex nature of such a customizable tool requires confidence in the key concepts of Google Analytics data analysis. Be familiar and comfortable with the following terms before moving forward.

Conversions

Conversions are the actions in a marketing funnel that convert a prospective customer into a real customer. There is no one specific action that is rigidly defined as a conversion, but some of the most common actions include filling out a contact form or sending an email to the sales team.

contact form for copywriting showing conversion

Once the customer hits Send, he or she has converted.

Digital marketers often set up goals in their data analysis tools around conversions. While conversion rate is only one among many essential factors of marketing success, turning an interested party into a potential customer or client is incredibly valuable and easily measurable. But since there’s also no way of defining what makes a potential client a potential client, we have to set some kind of bounds in which we can identify site visitors as potential clients. We do so with goals.

In the world of marketing, goals are user-defined target actions for the potential buyer to undergo. Goals are infinitely customizable – they can be something as simple as a social share to something as complex as a page visit from a search using a specific keyword following a link.

The main functions of Google Analytics outside of the Conversions menu define conversions as goal completions. Inside the Conversions menu, Google Analytics automatically adds e-commerce transactions AND goal completions as conversions. Knowing this distinction will help you create more concrete conclusions from the data you collect on conversions.

Multi-Channel Funnel Reports

Multi-channel funnel reports show you through which channels your customers move into conversion. The reports define the path, from beginning to end, that individual converted site visitors have taken up to the point of conversion – and show you every step along the way.

When you click on Top Conversion Paths in the Multi-Channel Funnel Reports menu, you’ll see several rows like this:

conversion path in a multi channel funnel report

This is a long conversion path, but it shows us exactly what the customer did to reach conversion. The [x #] means that particular action happened twice or more in a row. We can assume this customer found the site via a paid search ad, came back directly later, looked again and found the site twice more via paid search, came back twice to learn more directly, reached the paid ad again, found the site through a link, then came back directly a final time to convert.

The report shows us quite a bit about the customer’s path, but the information is superficial. We don’t know what the customer was thinking through each one of these channels, nor do we know what exactly spurred a conversion. That’s where attributions begin to come in handy.

Attributions

Attributions are the credits we give to different actions taken by visitors to our site. Remember, attributions are different from conversions and multi-channel funnel reports. We assign attribution to find out which specific pieces of the buyer’s journey are the most effective and how we can maximize that effectiveness.

examples of channels through which attributions are made

The channels through which attributions are made.

When we assign attribution, statistics are shifted to reflect the credit we’ve given to certain channels and interactions so we can get a clearer picture of the impact of spending money on digital marketing. You may discover through attribution that your CPA (cost per acquisition) is less than you may have previously thought. This occurs because other interactions that may cost you money are actually happening after the action to which you’ve attributed credit for a conversion. That’s how attributions help us look deeper into our marketing.

Understanding the Significance of the Default Attribution Models

An attribution model is different from an attribution. The attribution is the credit we give to actions that lead to conversion. Attribution modeling is how those attributions are distributed according to the rules we create.

You’ll find the Attribution Model Comparison Tool under the Conversions menu after clicking Attribution. In the Model Comparison Tool, we can begin to make attributions to the different parts of the buyer’s journey. We can also compare one attribution model to another to draw more profound conclusions.

The free version of Google Analytics has a limited set of default attribution models that will help you begin building a picture of your most powerful converting tools. They include the following model types.

Last Interaction

last interaction attribution model icon

Assigns credit for a conversion to the very last action taken by a converted site visitor. Use this model if the data you’ve collected from customers signals that their decisions were made based on the last piece of content with which they interacted. You can then set the cost of your conversions to reflect the entire course to conversion.

Last Non-Direct Click

last non direct click attribution model icon

Hands credit for a conversion to the action BEFORE the actual customer conversion. Take advantage of this model if your data shows that customers made the decision to get more information or purchase based on content just before their final decision. This assumes that your customer already decided to make a purchase before directly going to the site to convert.

Last AdWords Click

last adwords click attribution model icon

Assigns credit for a conversion to the last paid search before the customer converted. Employ this model to focus on the efficacy of paid search and compare which of your paid search campaigns have the best cost to return on investment ratio.

First Interaction

first interaction attribution model icon

Gives conversion credit to the very first interaction of a converted customer with your website. Switch to this model to see how much it costs to grab customers that will eventually convert. You can also monitor which channels do so and if you can take advantage of untapped channels to save money on initial interactions.

Linear

linear attribution model icon

Distributes credit for conversions across each channel that assisted in a conversion. This model will help you determine which channels fall into the funnel in similar places and which ones get the most attention. It will also give you the most unbiased picture of your CPA.

Time Decay

time decay attribution model icon

The time decay model is special – it operates under the assumption that each day that passes after a customer’s initial visit to a site, the chance of a return visit splits in half. Attribution credit shrinks to lower percentages based on the time decay, which gives less credit to early interactions and more credit to later interactions the longer the customer’s path becomes.

Position Based

position based attribution model icon

Offers 40% credit to both the first and last interactions, then pushes the remaining 20% credit evenly across the remaining channels in the conversion path. Use this model if you want to take a closer look at how the majority of users are introduced to your site and what pushes them toward their final decision. Your CPA will reflect a more complete picture, but will do so with more bias than the linear model.

These models are useful for very basic analysis of cost for parts of the conversion path that have a value that’s tough to track.

Creating Your Own Attribution Models

All businesses are unique, and so is the odyssey that the buyer takes toward making a decision about the business’s product or service. Business goals may not align with competitors, and marketing approaches may differ drastically. In all of these cases, custom attribution models are useful for honing in on how customers react to important parts of your website.

Understanding the Power of the Attribution Model Creation Tool

The attribution model creation tool is massive. You can select from lots of different criteria to define on a very detailed level how your customers interact with your site and where they become inspired to convert.

custom attribution model creation tool

A custom model set to record 1.5 times the credit for initial visits to the site from Social channels

Access this tool by clicking the gray, italic Select Model option after opening the Attribution menu and clicking Model Comparison Tool. At the bottom of the Select Model menu, start creating by clicking Create new custom model.

You can assign an outrageous number of rules to your desired specificity by using the AND and OR statements that make up the bulk of your customization. Because so many metrics are available to feed and filter your data, it’s easy to see how quickly the scope of this tool becomes astronomical. You’ll have to stay grounded in the big picture while examining the finer details of attribution.

Example Scenarios

To keep from getting too lost in the minutia, try to return as often as possible to broad goals for your business when making new attribution models. Take some of these situations for example:

  • Business with heavy organic search traffic may like to attribute credit to specific keywords by:
    • Using the First Interaction Model as a base
    • Including Source specified as Organic Search as a rule
    • Specifying the targeted keyword(s) that originated that search

custom attribution model rules for heavy organic traffic

 


  • Business focusing on social traffic that leads to conversions may attribute credit to social channels heavily by:
    • Starting with the Position-Based model
    • Adding Social as a condition
    • Defining where in the path the credit should go

custom attribution model for first social interaction

 


While these scenarios may be unreasonable for some businesses, they provide a loose concept of what is possible with Google Analytics attribution models.

Creating Attributions That Matter

To really dig deep into where you should apply your credit, you’ll have to get on a personal level with your audience. There’s a large time and effort investment in finding out how people interact with your site below the surface, but once you’ve collected the information you need and your custom attributions are set, you’ll have the most complete Google Analytics report among your competitors.

Ways to Collect Information

Get to that hard to reach information about your audience by:

  • Including a simple survey question or two in your contact form
  • Ask visitors some follow-up questions on your Thank You page
  • Politely request answers to a survey in a follow-up email

Find some way to ask your customers how they heard about the site or what caused them to want to become a customer. Ask them if they would recommend to a friend and why. From this data, you can start to assign more credit where the power of your investments is actually going and watch how those specific channels contribute to the overall buyer journey.

Also, watch how others are using Attributions and use or tweak their methods. Follow creative ideas like this mathematical approach to determining the strength of visits. There’s no end to the possibilities of the Google Analytics Attribution Modeling comparison tool and custom model creation tool – you need only to learn how to harness the incredible amount of data that waits locked away in the chambers of Google’s servers.


Know who’s skilled at using Attributions in Google Analytics? The digital marketing team at Leverage Marketing. Talk to us if you need real marketing results with the data and expertise to back it up – or empower yourself with the solid inbound marketing knowledge we share by signing up for our newsletter below!

What is Google’s Semantic Search?

Google’s semantic search attempts to improve on the search formula intended to produce relevant search results for web users by creating rules that define a searcher’s intent and the contextual meaning of search terms.

Every language harnesses the power of semantics to define, clarify, process, and change the meaning of words or words in combination. Since language is the tool that the everyday web user employs to scour the boundless frontier of sites and pages on the Internet, it only makes sense that Google’s inimitable search algorithm would begin to evolve just as language does.

So how does Google develop ways to emulate the intricacies of language? Most of what happens at Google offices is a closely guarded secret, but we can certainly make educated assumptions based on the state of current semantic search capabilities and how they fit into indexing and organizing the web.

What is Semantic Search Technology?

Google is not the only company working on a semantic search engine. Specialized database searches and site-search tools also take advantage of semantics to make sure they are operating at their optimal efficiency and customers don’t drop off when they can’t find what they’re looking for.

Semantics is born of thousands of minute neuro-processes that work in conjunction to create a final meaning. Fortunately, those innumerable processes fit fairly neatly into a few underlying concepts that developers use to create quantifiable semantics.

Complex Ideologies

These are features of our world that our brain processes instantly and without effort — which means we usually take them for granted. Computers have a harder time than we do nailing these down.

leverage monster demonstrating complex ideologies with green bookContext

There are relevant constraints that help us define a word, phrase, or sentence more narrowly so we can produce a reply that makes sense to our interlocutor. We call these restraints context. Search queries are no different – we expect a reply from the search engine that fits the context of the thing or idea we search for. To recreate context, engine developers rely on data and assumptions.

For example, a search for “virtual reality headset” is most likely submitted by a young person or a tech industry professional, an assumption we can make based on the demographics of searchers. A search for “Etta James” is likely submitted by someone older since we can harness data that says the height of the artist’s popularity occurred in the 1960s.

Search results from a semantic search engine can be refined based on these data and assumptions – as long as the search engine understands them. Marketers are already taking advantage of the importance of context in defining searches by focusing efforts on context marketing, wherein marketers match their target markets with demographics reflected by searches.

Intent

If you start talking about oil and how it affects the health of every nation, your conversation partner can probably assume that you mean crude oil. But when a search engine sees the keywords oil and health, it may think that you want to know about how olive oil affects your physical health.

An effective semantic search will strive to guess your intent. A successful system is already visible in countless Google SERPs. If you type “What is it called when you think you have a disease but you don’t?” into a search engine, you will get results for hypochondria. Even though keywords like disease are very ambiguous in this sentence, the engine is still able to parse your intent, among other remarkable things.

Variation

Variation in language use can be regional, age-specific, industry-specific, or rely on any number of demographics. Semantic search engines must be prepared for language variation and know how it fits into searches. They have to know that people searching for elevators likely live in North America, but those looking for information on lifts are probably looking for UK-related articles.

Location

From city size to climate, economics to local leadership, countless concepts can affect search results based on location. Google does a fantastic job of indexing and prioritizing business-related searches, and its deep integration with the Maps application is a prime example of how location fits into the semantics of a search.

Linguistic Considerations

Since we rely on typing queries into a search engine in our mother language rather than code, the semantic search engines have to translate what we say into a form it can understand, then produce results based on what it thinks we mean. There are a few phenomena of language used in our search queries that are difficult to reproduce outside of the human brain.

Synonyms

Search engines can make educated guesses about the user’s intent and offer synonyms for keywords, but subtle differences in meaning can produce irrelevant results. Engines must learn what nuances exist between synonyms and how SERPs should be adjusted to reflect those nuances.

Google semantic search understands that money is a broad concept of currency, even though we use it as an analogue to cash in everyday speech. But type cash into Google and you’ll find some handy places to get payday loans or turn your checks into hard currency. Google knows that while we use the terms interchangeably in everyday life, there’s a subtle but important difference when typing either term into a search engine.

Concept Matching

google concept matching with filmLike money, some keywords and queries represent large concepts with subcategories that can be rolled into one term. Searching for film will provide results based on movies because the Google semantic search formula understands that film is now a concept that is deeply intertwined with movies.

Search engines develop a notion of concept matching over time as their idea of relevance evolves. A user may become frustrated if searching for film directs him or her to a SERP that provides places to buy rolls of film, and semantic search engines must learn to anticipate such frustrations by matching concepts.

Natural Language

Long ago, AskJeeves attempted to simplify web searching by creating an algorithm that answered real questions written in natural language. As a focus, the concept never really caught on, but now more and more users are relying on natural language queries to find answers.

To tackle natural language queries, semantic search engines have to assign purpose not only to unusual terms like prepositions (in, on, around) and articles (a, an, the), but they have to learn how groups of words fit together to create abstract concepts. Observe the following natural language search queries:

  • A. I need a place to work out
  • B. I need a place to work out of

The only difference between these two queries is the word of. Because of is a preposition, it carries very little in the way of concrete meaning. However, it holds incredible influence over semantics.

Query A provides results for gyms and answer pages from users who have asked similar questions on forums.

Query B gets confused – it can’t really tell if you’re asking for a place to lift weights or a place at which you can perform your job. To us, the addition of the word of clarifies so much of the searcher’s intent, but to the search engine, of is just too abstract to be able to guess accurately what the user wants. You will still see occasional results for leasable office space, however.

Again, relevance will play a large role in helping define natural language searches. The more people search with natural language and click on what they want to find, the more narrowly semantic search engines will be able to define natural language.

Semantics in a Digital Landscape

Users and developers alike must remember that semantics as a digital feature is still very much in its infancy. It wasn’t long ago that all searches were keyword-based and keyword stuffing was a viable SEO option. However, semantic SEO is on the horizon, and smart inbound marketing teams are already ahead of the curve learning how to maximize research potential and produce quality, informative content in line with semantic goals.

Problems with Semantic Search

Semantic search is far from perfect, but it’s certainly not the fault of developers. The human brain is just too complex and powerful for us to understand its processes in full, so until we do, we can’t quantify what it does and turn it into a carbon copy artificial intelligence – which is a scary concept anyway.

Ambiguity

The problem of ambiguity, or flexible meaning in a single word, is also something second language learners struggle with. For instance, the word band can mean “a group of people,” “a strap or belt,” or “a frequency interval.” Even if Google semantic search is able to learn which is the most common meaning its searches are seeking, how can it make sure that those searching for other meanings are still able to discover relevant websites?

Content Saturation

The early days of Google search meant looking for new ways to game the system for Search Engine Optimization experts. Efforts to stuff keywords and appeal to the search algorithm caused a tidal wave of content to hit the Internet, and that content was hardly useful to users as an information source. Even worse, most of that leftover content still exists today.

Some SEOs are also still married to the idea of paying full attention to search engines rather than the user experience when developing content, so the modern algorithm that focuses on quality content marketing has to deal with old and new content that isn’t optimized for it. Data gets confused and relevance is not always clear, and it’s mostly because of the sheer volume of content available on the web.

Semantic search developers who want their engines to take the reins have to deal with confusion from content saturation. Old, poorly designed pages contain unreadable content from which search engines have to parse data. But those engines can’t learn semantics from content that has no meaning. Until semantic SEO catches on, semantic search technology will have to wade through a sea of content debris.

Answers to Personal Queries

an example of a personal query in the google search engineUntil artificial intelligence is so close to our own brain chemistry that it can simulate our senses and draw conclusions based on emotional input (which may or may not be impossible), even a semantic search engine won’t be able to answer questions that require thinking on a personal level. Ask Google What is my future like? and you’ll see an endless list of quizzes that “predict your future.”

The results are simultaneously a testament to Google’s ability to computationally understand language and proof that it’s still a robot. Still, the search engine is using semantics to try to guess what you want from it – just try to simplify the search to my future. Semantic search’s capacity to squeeze more meaning out of your search queries will only advance as search technology moves forward.

Is Semantic Search Worth It?

Yes, semantic search, once it has evolved, will provide a search experience not unlike having your own personal assistant. The search will be able to anticipate your needs based on ideologies and linguistic concepts that you harness in everyday life to gather information from human sources.

While a semantic search engine won’t ever be able to answer questions like “Where was that place I put that thing that time?” without invading your privacy, semantic search developers are working toward a concierge-style semantic search that can process more meaningful information in less time.

So keep searching knowing that each time you submit a query and find the result you need, you’re making a sound contribution to a 100% searchable Internet with semantic search.

Link Roundup: Balancing User Experience and SEO

There are a lot of articles out there that feature phrases like “UX vs. SEO”, as if user experience and search engine optimization are Batman and Superman, engaging in an epic battle to determine who should have greater influence over web design. In reality, UX and SEO strategies are both incredibly important to incorporate when designing a website. If you don’t believe me, take it from the 12 articles featured below.

New to SEO and/or Web Design? Start Here

What Everyone Ought to Know about User Experience Design

What makes for a good user experience? There are a lot of factors involved, including visual design and layout, page load speed, tone of content, and calls-to-action. These are all factors that indirectly matter to SEO, too, because when users have a positive experience on your site, you’ll get more traffic, shares, and links, which leads to higher search rankings. You can learn more about the benefits of a great user experience– and some brands that are nailing it– in this article.

The Anatomy of an Optimized Web Page [Infographic]

Visual learners should check out this infographic, which nicely breaks down all the major SEO and design elements that go into a well-optimized web page.

How Site Usability and User Experience Affect SEO

Think site usability and user experience are the same thing? The author of this article argues that there’s an important difference– site usability is about ease-of-use, while UX is about how a user feels– but that both can indirectly impact SEO. Check out the full article to get tips on how to improve your website’s UX and general usability.

Be Sure to Balance SEO and User Experience in Your Web Page Design

SEO and user experience don’t have to be at odds in a web design project. However, there are certain UX-related trends that can negatively affect search engines’ abilities to crawl a website. This post goes over some of the things to avoid– and some of the things you can do to create a site that provides a great user experience without sacrificing SEO value.

Let’s Dig a Little Deeper

The Crucial Connection between SEO and User Experience

Google frequently updates their search algorithm to “think” more like a human web user. Put another way, Google’s goal is to identify user intent in order to serve the most relevant/helpful web pages at the top of the search results page. This means that user experience is now intertwined with SEO, and SEO specialists need to think beyond keywords.

User Behavior Data as a Ranking Signal

No, search engines can’t understand human emotions, but they can use behavioral data (such as click-through-rate, navigational paths, and dwell time) to get a pretty good sense of a user’s experience with a website. This article examines the ways major search engines look at these different signals, and how it affects your search engine rankings.

Four Benefits of Aligning SEO and UX When Building Your Website

This post discusses why it pays to have web designers and SEO specialists team up. One major advantage is that SEO specialists can provide concrete search data to help designers make informed UX-related decisions. To read about some of the other benefits, check out the full post.

5 Experts Explain Why Sweet UX is Vital for Search Marketing

Still not convinced that UX and SEO go hand-in-hand? Maybe several search marketing thought leaders, including Moz’s Rand Fishkin and SEO 2.0’s Tad Chef, can change your mind. As an added bonus, this post includes links to additional educational resources recommended by the experts.

Tips for a Better User Experience and SEO Strategy

10 Tips That Can Drastically Improve Your Website’s User Experience

It’s easy to see how many of the tips in this guide– including using well-written headlines and catching your 404 errors– tie in nicely to SEO best practices.

Optimize Your Images and Make Them SEO Rockstars in 4 Steps

Images can be an important UX factor to consider (after all, most people prefer viewing a web page with eye-catching images and small chunks of text rather than a solid wall of words). Search engine bots can’t crawl images the same way they crawl text– but there are steps you can take to ensure you’re getting SEO benefits from the pictures on your site.

Site Design & Migration Tips to Avoid SEO & UX Disasters

This is a must-read for anyone who is considering overhauling and migrating their company’s website. It offers some great tips about how SEO and UX team members can work together to head off potentially costly mistakes in the early stages of development.

How to Rank Better with User Experience Marketing

This is a pretty long read, but it’s worth it–who doesn’t want to know the key to providing a delightful user experience and ranking higher in the search engine results. The article does a particularly good job at explaining how businesses can increase their web page shares–and in turn increase their rankings– by providing visitors with a fun, useful, or educational experience.

Takeaways

If there’s a through line in all the link roundup posts above, it’s this: when you design web pages that successfully educate, entertain, or help site visitors, you’ll see search engine ranking benefits. Because search engine algorithms are designed to serve the best possible results based on user search intent, UX and SEO are now closely connected.

If you’re planning a site update and need help implementing UX and SEO strategies, contact Leverage Marketing. We’d love to help you delight your site visitors and rank higher in the search engine results pages.

10 Digital Marketing Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

Setting lofty self-improvement goals is a time-honored New Year’s tradition, as is breaking those resolutions partway through the year. While it might sound cynical to talk about broken resolutions when we’re only midway through January, it’s worth bringing the subject up so that we can all start thinking about how not to be in the 64% of people who fail to keep their resolutions for more than six months. If you’re setting digital marketing goals for 2016, it’s a good idea to make them tangible and specific. By setting smaller, manageable goals, you’ll be able to steadily work towards your larger goals without becoming overwhelmed. Help your marketing department get past the talking phase of goal-setting for 2016. Here are 10 actionable suggestions for digital marketing resolutions. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

1. Add social share buttons.

This resolution is for all the businesses that regularly post great original content on their site but fail to promote it. Your content may be amazing, but it’s not likely to attract much traffic unless you promote it. There are lots of strategies for promoting your content—Buffer has a list of 11 you can try—but one incredibly easy way to start is to add social share buttons to your blog. You can do this by using an app like ShareThis, which will give you a snippet of code to embed on your site so that visitors see buttons that allow them to share the content they like on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks with one click.

2. Add calls-to-action and contact buttons.

In addition to adding social share buttons, try adding calls-to-action and contact buttons to relevant service pages and at the end of your most successful blog post. This makes it easy for site visitors to go to the next step of their research or purchasing process with minimal navigation around your site. If you regularly communicate with clients or customers over the phone, add a click-to-call button so that visitors who are looking at your site on their smartphone can call you instantly by pressing a phone icon.

3. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly.

In May of last year, Google rolled out their ominously nicknamed ‘Mobilegeddon’ update, which was designed to give a search engine rankings boost to sites that looked good and functioned well on all device types (desktop, tablet, smartphone, etc.). If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you may be ranking lower on search engine results pages than competitors who have optimized your site for mobile. Not sure if your site is mobile-friendly? Try Google’s handy test. If your site isn’t up to date, it’s time to have a web designer make some changes.

4. Survey your new clients.

Resolve to make digital marketing decisions that are based on data, and start by surveying your clients or customers to get valuable feedback. Consider asking about how they found you, what they like about your process, and what part of your process they think needs improvement. Keep the survey short so that clients/customers know it will take very little time and energy to fill it out.

5. Join a LinkedIn group.

Joining a LinkedIn group relevant to your industry can help you expand your network and increase your authority, which is especially valuable if you’re a content marketer. You can start a discussion with members of your group to get ideas for new content, ask for feedback on an article you’re currently working on, and keep up with the industry news that other members are sharing, just to give you a few ideas. To get started, go to LinkedIn’s Group Directory and search for terms related to your industry or target audience. Once you’ve found at least one group that you like, set a goal to stay relatively active in discussions throughout the year (otherwise, you won’t get much out of the group).

6. Do a quick GA analysis.

If you’re still putting off going into Google Analytics to see how your site is performing, the time to stop is now. Anyone who has anything to do with a company’s online performance can benefit from taking a look at Google Analytics every now and then. Whether you’re a copywriter, designer, web developer, social media specialist, or a manager, owner or junior level employee

At the very least, go into the Behavior section of reporting and Check out the pages with the most pageviews, highest bounce rate and pages with the highest average time on page. This will give you an idea of which pages are performing the best and worst overall and then you can go about analyzing them and try to make the worst pages perform more like the high performing pages.

7. Audit your site’s page load speed.

Did you know around 25% of users leave a website if it takes more than 4 seconds to load? That number only gets lower as time goes on. Google provides a free page load speed tool for web developers to check the load speed of their company’s web pages. Use this free tool to check your website to see if there are any major improvements to be made. The Page Speed Insights tool will also let you know how your site performs on mobile, and it will tell you what changes to make to improve the overall speed of your website. Read more in our blog about improving your page load speed.

8. Audit your online listings.

Review your company location, name, address, hours, etc. online. Make a list of all the places your company’s basic information is listed such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Yelp and others. Be sure to do a search for your company and make sure that someone else hasn’t incorrectly posted your information. Make changes as needed. There’s nothing more frustrating for a customer or prospect trying to find you than calling a wrong number or showing up at the wrong location.

9. Check your site’s meta data.

Use a quick SEO tool like SEO Spider to pull up all the pages on your website and do a quick review of the title and meta description tags on all the pages. Ideally, your title tags shouldn’t be longer than 60 characters and your descriptions should be under 170 characters. Make sure the tags are giving the right message to your audience and to search engines. In other words, make sure appropriate keywords are included. If you have the time, look at your H1 tags as well.

10. Update your search ads.

Review and update any ads you may have running from last year. Make sure they are still relevant and linking to an appropriate landing page or web page. Nothing makes people bounce faster than landing on an irrelevant web page or clicking on an offer that has expired.

 

If you have a team to help you, these 10 resolutions can be taken care of in just a couple of days. If the overall state of your website and online presence aren’t so great, these could take a lot longer, but it is well worth the time to go through all of these and make sure your site and your company are ready for the year. Acting as the online marketing team for many of our clients, we go through at least these basic housekeeping points to get our partners started going in the right direction and to start the year off right, so should you.

 

Co-authored by Madeline Jacobson & Natalie Parra-Novosad

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