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How To Use Reviews and Testimonials To Generate More Business

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Big thumbs up for reviews and testimonialsMost Internet shoppers read reviews or testimonials before choosing who to do business with, in fact, a recent survey found that as many as 92% of web users will seek reviews before making a purchase or ordering a service.

The introduction of reliable reviews is largely what propelled sites such as Amazon and TripAdviser to become global leaders. So, if you have not yet started sharing reviews on your own website, it’s about time you learned how.

Good reviews Can Boost Local SEO

Good reviews are already helping some business directly. Verified reviews on Google business pages are trusted by Google, which usually results in an increase in local search presence. However, it is not all about SEO. A good testimonials page will keep visitors on your site for longer and increase the likelihood of a visitor making a purchase. So, how do you get them?

Ask For Reviews

It is human nature to only speak out when something bad happens, so if you do not actively ask your customers to leave a review, you will probably only ever get negative reviews sent in. So long as your testimonial page is easy to find (it should be visible in the top navigation) all you have to do is ask customers to visit your site to leave a review. They should then be able to simply enter their name and a short comment, which you can publish.

Testimonial Comments

By far the easiest way to gather and publish testimonials is by utilising your content management system. Whether your site is built on WordPress, Drupal, Joomla or another platform, you should be able to allow comments on a post or page. Simply create a new page called “Testimonials”, and activate comments. It is advisable to only allow manually approved comments to be published, to avoid negative reviews appearing.

Order Comments By Newest First

By default, most content management systems show the newest comments at the bottom of the page. This is logical in a discussion thread, but for testimonials it is important to display the latest ones at the top – otherwise potential customers will think that nobody has left a positive review for several years.

Of course, if you do not wish to set up an automated system, you can simply ask customers to email or text a review, which you can copy over to a reviews page. The advantage of manually maintaining a reviews page is that you can pick the best reviews to appear at the top of the page.

Share your best reviews

If you get a great testimonial, share it on your social media pages. A positive review is a simple way to reach out to new customers, and with any luck, people will share it across Facebook and Twitter with friends who they think will also benefit.

Local SEO

There is one feature that is still not present within Google’s search results for local businesses – yes, reviews. Many SEOs, ourselves included, are expecting reviews and testimonials to be featured within the SERPs sometime in the next year. Google wants people to find the best businesses in the local area, and reviews are the best way for Google to determine which business is really best.

Currently, Google relies on mostly algorithms to determine which business is best – but as we all know, sometimes great businesses are buried beneath the competition on Google, even when they provide the best service. However, as Google’s AI improves, it may soon be in a position to read testimonials and determine which companies are better trusted in the local market.

If you need help creating a testimonials page, or would like us to contact your customer base to request reviews, contact Freelance SEO Essex today.


Getting On The First Page of Google Just Got Tougher

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We have been reporting Google’s tests and changes to its SERPs over the years, and the main trend we have seen is that Google is giving more space over to advertising and local search results, and less to the traditional, organic web results. The latest news has confirmed that all of these changes are now complete, and this means fewer organic results.

The latest data from Search Metrics, which monitors thousands of web pages, has revealed that on average the first page of Google shows 8.5 pages on mobiles – it always used to be 10. For desktop searches, the average number of organic results is actually a little higher, at 8.59.

Google has replaced these lost 1.5 results with a variety of new forms of search results, such as news boxes, Google knowledge graph, Twitter cards, videos, maps, Google Business listings and, of course, more search advertising, which now includes local search advertising.

Universal Search Integration

The name given to the new search results pages is Universal Search Integration – this term is certainly not new, having first been coined in May 2007 when Google first started expanding its results pages – you can read one of the first blog posts on the topic, by Danny Sullivan, here. Universal Search includes Google Images, Videos, News, PLA and Maps.

Extended Search Results

As well as universal search, there is also now Extended Search. This covers the Google Knowledge Graph, the new Mobile Carousel (mostly for AMP enabled pages), Twitter cards, Direct Answer / Fact Box, Related Questions and Mobile App Packs.

Froogle and Google Shopping

One of the biggest changes to hit the retail industry was the rapid rise of Google Shopping. It was initially launched as Froogle, but soon Google rebranded it to the more logical Google Shopping. This provided a way for ecommerce websites to display their products direct within the Google search results, which allowed greater competition in search.

Companies such as Amazon and eBay had monopolised eCommerce, but Google Shopping allowed many others businesses to get their products in front of potential customers. More competitive pricing combined with better descriptions and imagery has helped some niches to beat Amazon in search. It could be argued that without Google Shopping, Amazon, and possibly eBay, would have completely monopolised eCommerce.

Needless to say, the work of an SEO agency has changed considerably since the days of putting a few keywords in a page title and keywords metatag, and then adding the website to a few free web directories. We now need to understand each of these new extended search results and develop a strategy to ensure that our clients’ websites can either appear within these new search formats or rise to the top of the ever more competitive organic search results.

Platform Variations

One of the most interesting revelations is how mobile desktop show different types of search results. Search metrics examined the percentage of keywords that resulted in one of the new search types, either universal or extended, being shown. For instance, 34.09% of desktop searches will trigger an image, but only 14.84% of mobile searches. However, fewer searches trigger videos on desktop than mobile today – 23.99% of desktop searches show a video, slightly below 25.25% of mobile searches.

This is a little surprising, as video is data hungry and traditionally people did not wish to watch videos on mobile. But, with improvements in technology and mobile Internet, videos are actually a preferred medium today – you can consume much more information in a 2 minute video than a 500 word article. Plus, many people are not interested in reading longer content pieces today, especially if they are on the move.

Once again, we can report that the Internet as we know it is continuing to change and evolve, which makes digital marketing more challenging. Fortunately, we have plenty of experience in ranking websites in Google, and with a strong team of PPC, content, social and technical SEO experts on board, we can create an SEO strategy to target all of Google search, not just the organic results.


How to Create B2B Blog Content That Attracts and Wins New Customers

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This is an editorial contribution from Kyle Sanders of Complete Web Resources

When you hear the word “blogger,” what do you think of?

Chances are, you picture someone who writes content about their life on a personal blog – not a professional who writes to drive business results.

Maybe you’ve even written off blogging as a way to gather B2B leads and decided to focus more on video, whitepapers, and other types of content instead.

If that’s the case, you might be surprised to learn that B2B marketers who blog generate a whopping 67% more leads per month than those who don’t blog.

Can you imagine how much of a difference that could mean for your company’s revenue and profitability?

A big difference.

I run an Austin SEO company across the pond and over 50% of our clients are B2B, most of whom were completely clueless about leveraging their blog to reach more buyers. Well-written blog content that’s strategically optimized can rank for droves of longtail keywords with high commercial intent. Ignoring it is leaving business on the table.

To help you make it happen, let’s talk about exactly how to create effective B2B blog content that attracts and wins new customers.

Find out what information your audience wants, and give it to them.

Let’s face it – if your blog content doesn’t entice your audience to read, it’s not going to help you win any new leads.

Don’t let that happen.

Instead, find out which topics your audience is most interested in, and write in-depth content about those topics. Here are a few good ways to research:

1.    Buzzsumo

This tool shows you what content is performing best in your industry. To use it, all you need to do is enter your blog topic in their search engine and hit “Go!”

For example, let’s say your blog targets content marketers, and you want to give them the best information about content marketing.


Here’s what your results would look like:

Buzzsumo 2

Getting this kind of insight on the most popular content in your industry is a great way to start brainstorming topics that are sure to resonate with your audience.

2.    Web forums

Answering your audience’s questions in the form of blog content is a great way to drive traffic and engagement.

One of the easiest methods of finding out what questions they’re asking is to look around in web forums.

For example, let’s say your business targets managed service providers (MSPs). You could check out the MSP subreddit to see what questions they were asking.


Just like that, you’ve got 3 great topic ideas for blog posts:

  • How to sell white labeled services as an MSP
  • The 10 best apps for MSPs
  • How and when MSPs should fire a customer

Keep in mind that Reddit isn’t the only forum you can use this way – try to find forums that are popular among your target customers, and start hanging out there to discover what information they’re seeking.

3.    Audience surveys

If you have an email list, send your subscribers an email asking them what their #1 challenge is (in relation to your business).

For example, if you sell marketing services to property management companies, you’d want to ask them what their #1 challenge in relation to marketing is. Then, you can write blog content focused on helping them overcome that challenge.

Include content upgrades in your blog posts.

Once you know which topics to write about, you need to make sure you’re collecting leads effectively.

The best way to do that?

Offer a content upgrade – a free downloadable resource you give away in exchange for an email address – in every blog post you write. One study even showed a 785% increase in conversions just from adding a content upgrade strategy to a blog!

The key is to offer something enticing for your audience and make sure every content upgrade is closely related to the blog post it’s being advertised in.

Here’s an example from one of Neil Patel’s blog posts about common Google Adwords mistakes:


You can see that the content upgrade within the blog post is a cheat sheet to help readers avoid deadly AdWords mistakes. They’re likely to download it because it covers a topic they’re already shown interest in by reading the post.

With this example in mind, you should be able to start brainstorming content upgrade ideas that convert your readers to email subscribers.

Don’t forget to promote!

You can spend hours creating the best blog content in your industry, but if you don’t promote it, no one’s going to read it.

And that means you won’t get any leads.

Since you don’t want that to happen, take steps to get every blog post you publish in front of your target audience. For example, you could:

  • Email your blog posts to your subscribers. If your content is good, your readers will likely share it with their social media following, which could easily help your build your subscriber list!
  • Build a strong presence on LinkedIn. Since 80% of all B2B social media leads come from LinkedIn, it’s a great social network for sharing your blog posts and building a business audience.
  • Repurpose your blog content on SlideShare. SlideShare receives 500% more traffic from business owners than Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. So, use Google Analytics to figure out which of your blog posts are the most popular, and then turn those posts into slide decks. Be sure to include your URL so you direct all your SlideShare traffic back to your site!

Once you start executing your B2B blog content strategy, analyze your results to see what engages your audience the most. You never know – you might learn something that drastically improves your approach to blogging and helps you win even more leads!

Do you have any more B2B blogging tips? Share in the comments section below!


Does Google’s Updated Artificial Intelligence Mean We Don’t Need SEO?

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Google needs SEOsWe have seen some dramatic improvements recently in the way Google is using AI to deliver the best sites to its users, which raises a big question – if Google is now so good, why is SEO needed?

Google is a very complex search algorithm which uses around 200 factors to rank websites in the search results. In addition to this, Google makes approximately 400 changes every year – some are very minor and go unnoticed, others result in major changes. The biggest change in the last year has been the introduction of more advanced artificial intelligence to analyse these ranking factors and provide individuals with the best search results. However, Google still needs our help.

The argument that Google AI is so good that SEOs are no longer required is a bit like arguing that the market is so well informed that there is no longer any point in having a marketing department. In recent years, just about every Google update has resulted in blog posts from SEO reporters along the lines of “SEO is dead!”, along with advice to stop building links or attempting to optimise a website, for fear of getting a penalty. What is not clear to the untrained eye is that most of the articles on these topics are really just fluff to try to win some new readers on the back of an update. And why do people do this? Because it works!

The simple fact is, that without SEO consultants, most new businesses would fail to get any traction in the organic search results. This is why so many businesses resort to spending all their marketing budget on pay-per-click advertising, and then when their money runs out, they declare that “the Internet doesn’t work for me”. If more businesses invested equally in SEO and paid listings, they would have a greater chance of long-term success.

The problem that the SEO industry has is that it can take a few months to really see any progress, and years to start dominating the market. Many businesses expect rapid results, but this is never possible – PPC and paid social media promotions are the way to generate immediate traffic.

SEO’s Help Google Understand the Web

As good as Google is, it still struggles to understand what some pages are about, and to assign importance to rank a collection of pages on similar topics. Google admits that it uses hundreds of ranking factors to determine where in the SERPs a page will appear, and this is simply because no single ranking factor is good enough to provide a fair and balanced result.

This is where SEO comes in. We understand how different ranking factors can improve a website’s search engine positions, and work to improve these factors to achieve attainable goals for our clients. By doing so, we are helping Google to deliver better results to its customers. When it comes to local SEO, the results in Google search can really be a bit of a mixed bag. So many companies get local wrong that the results often show irrelevant businesses while ignoring some of the best in the area. By optimising a company’s website and search appearance, it is possible to ensure that more searchers discover it – this is ultimately the key goal of all types of marketing.

Tuning Your Business Engine

SEO is a bit like tuning a car engine. Even with all the components of your engine in place and operational, an experienced mechanic can “tune” your engine to get more out of it. By tweaking the carburettor, adjusting the fuel/air mixture, improving the distribution point gaps or adjusting the ignition timing, you can make a car go faster, without actually replacing any components. And adding improved fuel (backlinks!) can help even more.

As SEOs, we tweak a website to improve its performance. Adjustments may include improving the written content, optimising site navigation, compressing large images, fixing broken HTML, updating metatags, improving load time, or any one of hundreds of other small adjustments that will contribute to improving a website.

To get started on any SEO project we run a site through our manual 30 point onsite health check, which quickly highlights any major problems that might be negatively affecting ranking. We also identify pages with suboptimal content so that we can make changes early on in a new campaign – these are what we call “easy wins”, although in all honesty, the identification of problems and implementation of the correct solution is usually anything but easy!

Google Needs Good SEOs

Something Google will probably never fully admit is that it needs good SEOs. Without a network of digital marketers constantly striving to improve quality on the web, the cheats and spammers would win, and this would be terrible news for Google.

Luckily, most businesses can allocate a sizable budget towards their SEO campaign, whereas “web spammers” are often individuals who are working to improve their own websites – not only are they chasing the SEO curve and walking a fine line between what is acceptable by Google, and what results in a penalty, they are also working with limited resources.

So, SEOs really are helping Google deliver the best search results to its users. Without good SEO, there would be a lot more spam on the web, and fewer real businesses appearing in search.

Local SEO

This week over at Canada’s Search Engine People, Nevyana Karakasheva asked, “If Google Is So Smart, Do I Still Need Local SEO?” She raises a very valid point, and then goes on to explain exactly why you still need an SEO, even for just local SEO. Karakasheva talks more about the optimisation of local search, such as promoted pins, local ads and the search pack.

Today, it seems that local SEO is dominated by new, paid features. It is certainly getting harder in some respects, with fewer organic results on the first page of Google, but with a little knowhow it is certainly still possible to optimise a website to rank better – and this applies to global web search too.

Google needs good quality websites in its search index and as SEOs, we are experienced in improving and optimising sites to meet Google’s quality guidelines and perform better in search. Speak to our Freelance SEO consultants today to learn how we can help you help Google!


5 Vital On-Page SEO Factors You Must Get Right

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We are often advocating the importance of great content on a website, and one of the first things we focus on with any new business is their on-page SEO. But, what does this actually mean, and how do we improve your own on-page SEO? Well, without giving too much away, we’ll share five favourite factors, which we consider to be the most important first steps to improving your website.

What Is On-Page SEO?

On-Page SEO is the improvement and optimization of everything that is on a website. It is actually a large part of an SEO campaign and where the most gains can often be made. There are essentially two types of on-page content: that which a person will see, and that which a search engine will analyse. There is a lot of crossover between the two, and getting this balance right is often the key to a well optimised page. Here are our top tips for improving your on-site SEO:

1. Improve Your Content

On a website, content is literally everything. Your content needs to be of the best quality possible. Headlines need to be written in a way that is both engaging and informs; product descriptions need to be unique and useful. Ideally, every sentence on a website should serve the main objective to engage readers and encourage them to make an order! If not, it is a wasted opportunity.

2. Improve Titles

Page meta titles are what is first read by Google, and often what Google displays in the search results. This is important on two levels: Google ranks content based on the words within a title, and a good title will also encourage people to click through to your website.

Getting the right balance between a search engine optimised title and one that encourages readers to click can be challenging. People used to just stuff titles with the most important keywords to get them to rank, but since the infamous Penguin and Panda updates, this tends to have the opposite effect. So take time creating a well-crafted title.

3. Clean URLs

Google, and people, still like a clean URL. URLs should be short and contain keywords – ideally they should closely match your title and brand. Complex URLs do not look pretty in search, and it is still largely believed that keywords within a URL is a ranking factor – it is unlikely to have a large impact, but every little helps!

4. Use Your Headers!

HTML headers are the “tags” that are used to denote headlines on a page. Every well-optimised page should have a single H1 header – this is the main headline in a blog post or product description. Many content management systems, such as WordPress, will now automatically make and blog post title the H1, and also make this the meta title too.

A page should then be structured in a hierarchy of headers, using H2 to subdivide an article into sections. For example, “Use Your Headers!” is an H2. If you need to subdivide a section, you use H3 headers for each new headline, and then use H2 again to start the next section. So a page or post, should look something like:

using headers in blog posts

Using headers in this manner has two benefits: it helps to split up your content into sections that can be quickly scanned by users, making the page easier to read, and it also helps Google to understand the content on a page. Good use of headers is good practice and will help your content rank.

5. Make It Look Appealing

Web pages need to look appealing to attract readers. Good quality images and videos go a long way to making a dull piece of content look exciting and interesting, and it also looks better when shared on social media. In fact, we have recently seen images from product pages appear in the Google search results, so optimising your images so that they look better than the rest may soon have a huge impact on your search click-thru rates.

There are many other factors that you need to take are of too. On-page optimisation also includes the use of mobile-friendly pages, internal and external links (co-citations is another important ranking factor that is often overlooked), Schema mark-up, Open Graph protocol, UGC (e.g. comments, reviews), image alt text, meta descriptions, content length, good navigation and intelligent site architecture, all affect search engine rankings.

If you would like some help in improving your on-page SEO, contact Freelance SEO Essex today.

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