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As the Internet has become more crowded, digital marketers have had to find more efficient ways to generate organic search traffic. Gone are the days when we could rank a website for single word searches with just a few months’ work. Today, not only do we have to look beyond the single word searches, but also 2-3 key word combinations have become increasingly competitive. This phenomenon has given rise to the term “long tail SEO”, which is very closely linked with informational search and semantics. But, what exactly does “long tail SEO” mean, and how is it possible to target it?
Chasing the Long Tail
Long tail SEO refers to both long search phrases and uncommon searches. For example, while “best mobile phones” may have one of the highest search volumes in the mobile phone industry, it will be extremely difficult for a new shop to rank for this phrase. However, by creating in-depth information that is SEO optimised, it may be possible to rank somewhere for “how many pixels is the camera on the latest iPhone?”, and this can drive consumers who are looking for a specific product.
This type of search is also called an informational search – the other two types of search are transactional (when a person is looking to purchase now) and navigational (when a searcher is looking to find a specific brand or website).
The Power of Informational Search Queries
Without information pages, which are usually in the form of blog posts, every business website is essentially limited by its range of products and services. If you cannot rank these pages, you will not generate any significant organic traffic. Also, informational search is a huge part of the market – somewhere between 50% and 80% of all searches are informational in nature, so any enterprise ignoring this is losing out on a vast amount of potential business.
The main purpose of starting an informational search campaign is to deliver more organic traffic to a website. Usually, this traffic is delivered to newly created informational pages which then guide readers to the sales pages – often referred to as the SEO sales funnel.
Just Brand Building?
There is a perception that informational search does not lead to more business, because searchers are only interested in reading, and not buying. However, the key to good informational SEO is to create pages that are ultimately sales pages – use organic SEO to get people on the site and then drive them to your product pages.
However, there is an added benefit, which helps in the longer term – the more people who find your company website, the more people who become familiar with your business brand. While readers are not going to make you rich today, over time they may return to your website, seek your services on social media or refer friends and family. None if this is possible without first leaving a positive impression, and this is why providing excellent information is so important.
Types of Informational Search
Each industry if different, but in general, the best way to target the long tail is through the creation of in-depth content, timely news pieces, entertaining blog posts and multimedia publications in the form of video and graphics. In general, longer blog posts rank higher in Google than short posts – more content is a winning strategy.
A basic strategy is to brainstorm questions relating to your products and services and write articles that answer these. This is where you need to delve into your customer database, if you have one. If customers have asked questions via email, or telephone calls have been logged, then you will have a list of common, and some not-so-common, questions that have been asked about your services. With this, you can start creating your content.
Following an informational search campaign you will start to generate more interest in your business website. The next challenge is to funnel your new readers to your product pages.
If you need some help and guidance with the creation of articles and blog content, contact Freelance SEO Essex today.
Last Friday, Google published a blog on the official webmaster central blog that advised webmasters to protect their sites from user generated spam. Whenever Google makes such an announce, you can be sure that if an update has not already been released, one is coming very soon.
User generated content can be very valuable and authoritative – sites such as TripAdvisor, Amazon, WikiPedia, and many excellent forums all rely on people contributing content in the form of reviews, research, citations and personal experience. However, many unscrupulous SEOs have also spent years spamming such sites to generate links back to their businesses. In the past, Google did not penalise a website for low quality content, so long as it was unique. But the latest warning suggests that they are upping their fight against spam.
Any website that has comments enabled will have witnessed some auto-generated content in the comments. To the uninitiated, these often look like real, albeit slightly off-topic, comments. The reality is that computer programs are constantly seeking out new blogs to publish spam comments on.
Nofollow No Longer Protects
Webmasters have three options really: ban commenting, allow it in full with community moderation, or manually approve every comment. No system is ideal, but because comments, and specifically links within comments, posed little direct risk to a website, many people have decided to leave comments turned on.
However, if Google does go ahead with this change, websites may receive a penalty just for having spammy content, even if the link does not pass any link juice.
Google’s article provides some useful advice on how to spot spam comments on blogs and forums, and also how to implement some preventative measures to reduce the problem.
As a general rule, if there is a link included to another website within some user generated content, assume that it is spam.
It is important to reiterate that comments on blogs and forums can provide excellent information – some of the best advice on the Internet can be found in such places, as experts are more likely to chip in on a discussion with their opinion rather than write a blog post of their own.
If you enable comments you will never fully eliminate spam, but you can keep it under control. If your site is built on the WordPress CMS there is a setting that sends all comments with links to the moderation queue. There are also several plugins that help to automatically identify and delete spam.
Keep Software Updated
Maintaining an up-to-date website is vital too, as spammers will target exploits in older software – this is especially important if you use third party plugins or modules, as while the CMS core files may be secure, a plugin can open up vulnerabilities.
Use a CAPTCHA
CAPTCHAs can be annoying and hinder the natural flow of conversation, but they are very effective at stopping automated spam. Install on all comment forms if possible – they are also vital to keep spam out from your contact forms.
Remember, a warning from Google today could be a penalty tomorrow. If you are concerned that user generated spam may be affecting your business, contact our Freelance SEO consultants today to learn how to make your website more secure. A spam-free website is always preferred by Google, so keep your site clean for the best rankings.
Earlier this month Google made its first major change to the way it ranks websites of 2017, marking the first of many mobile updates we are expecting this year. Google now penalises websites that use intrusive interstitials and popups on mobile devices.
Google warned business owners in August last year that it was planning to penalise web pages that use intrusive interstitials, so for much of the SEO community, this change was expected. However, many businesses that did not follow Google’s advice to improve the mobile user experience have been hit hard.
What Are Intrusive Interstitials?
An interstitial is a page or element that covers the main page, and which needs to be manually removed by the user. They are used for promotions, social media sign ups, newsletter subscription forms and a whole host of other purposes. Businesses use them to try to force more interaction with a website.
While they are not too much of a problem on desktop computers, many people find that they seriously harm the user experience on mobile, and it is for this reason that Google has decided to take action.
Luckily, not all interstitials are bad. Google has said that it will only penalise “intrusive interstitials”, so small popups that only obscure a small part of the view are not likely to lead to a penalty.
In the examples above, you can see that each of these formats totally blocks the content that people are trying to read. Google considers this deceptive, because if somebody is visiting a page from Google Search they are hoping to find some specific information and not a promotion for something possibly unrelated.
Fortunately, this does not affect too many businesses. Google’s objective here is to put a stop to those who use aggressive digital marketing tactics to increase their rankings, but then treat mobile users differently by displaying large, intrusive interstitials.
This penalty is not really new, because Google has been penalising websites for aggressive popups for some time. However, some webmasters realised a flaw in Google’s ranking algorithm – they could rank a page well by keeping the desktop version clean with a user friendly design, but make advertising more aggressive on mobile versions. Now that more than half of all searches are done on mobile devices, this effectively allowed websites to rank well on the basis of good content but then display something else to searchers.
Unlike many past search engine updates, Google has made it very clear what it expects to see, and what will be penalised. Google has stated:
“To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.”
Some popups are still OK, in fact, some are actually required. For example, age verification popups, or cookie consent, are not affected by this. Unobtrusive ones are also OK, so if you have a small popup to encourage people to sign up to your newsletter, or one that promotes a new blog post, for instance, then Google is not going to penalise your website. However, if there is a popup obscuring the main content, and readers need to physically remove that to gain access, then Google will most likely issue an automatic penalty.
Not A Manual Penalty
It is important to point out that if you are affected by this you will probably only see a drop in organic search traffic – Google will automatically detect the interstitial and apply an automatic penalty, so do not expect to see a message in Search Console about this.
Again, this will not affect many businesses – those most affected will likely be news and information websites that rely on aggressive adverts to generate ad revenue.
Take a Mobile First Approach
This update builds on Google’s announcement last year that it will soon be operating a mobile first approach to search – if your website operates well for your mobile audience, it will also operate well for desktop.
If you are unsure if your website is mobile friendly and up to the latest Google webmaster quality standards, speak to Freelance SEO Essex today and ask for a website audit and health check.
The role of a marketer has always been to place a product in front of those who are likely to purchase it, at a time when they need it. This basic principle still applies in the world of digital marketing, in fact, it could be argued that it is now more important than ever before. Today, an unoptimised digital marketing campaign will quickly deplete its budget before ever reaching a real customer.
Keyword targeting has been central to search engine marketing since AdWords was first launched – displaying adverts to users who have just typed in a keyword search phrase that perfectly matches the search terms that you are bidding on is a sure way to reach your market – at least, this was always assumed to be the case. However, the Internet has moved on and this has given rise to new and better opportunities. Targeting users by keyword alone will spread your marketing net far too wide, and many visitors will likely be outside of your target demographic.
Social networks changed this. Facebook was built on the idea of gather information about individuals, and this data was soon used to help businesses target potential new customers. Suddenly businesses could target customers by age, gender, location, and a range of other factors that were simply unavailable previously. However, even with targeting focused to the correct demographic, it is not possible for many businesses to really know when an individual will need their product.
Where Facebook fails is that it is only possible to target an entire audience based on location or interests – it cannot predict when a person wants a product, and the result is that many ads are displayed to people who simply do not wish to buy anything.
Combine Purchase Intent and Demographics?
While targeting both by purchase intent and demographics is highly rewarding, there is not currently a way to effectively combine these. But, Google is making some exciting progress, which we can already offer you through their Google AdWords platform.
AdWords Introduces Demographic Targeting
AdWords cannot provide the same level of detailed demographic targeting as Facebook, simply because it cannot be sure who specifically is carrying out a search. But Google can make a very well educated guess about who is searching, which it determines based on a variety of factors such as search history, IP address, and stored cookies. However, it is when people are logged in to Google that the system becomes very powerful.
It is now possible to target the following groups with your AdWords ads:
For the average Google AdWords account, around 50% of all searchers will be classified as “unknown”, but this does mean that for half your market, you can target people by age or gender. Whether your target market is middle-aged men, or young women, you are now able to display ads just for them, and this should help reach a more engaged audience.
If you need help setting up and optimising your AdWords account, speak to our PPC consultants today who will explain to you what we can do to make your advertising campaign work better for your business.
Content marketing is a major part of digital marketing and search engine optimisation today, but without measuring its effect you won’t know how well it is working for your business. Today, we’ll look at the content marketing metrics that will allow you to monitor your KPIs.
Content marketing covers a wide range of activities, so naturally its measurement requires you to gather variety of analytics data. The below metrics will help businesses and agencies to understand how content marketing is improving business. Although the bottom line in increasing sales, we need to have solid data to prove that the strategy is working.
Unique Visitor Count
Arguably the most important metric is the number of unique visitors on your website. As your site content improves and becomes better ranking in Google search and more shared across social media, your site will become a more important source of business leads. While unique visitor count is not everything, it is a vital metric to view.
While getting unique visitors is a good sign, if it is accompanied with a high bounce rate, this indicates a problem with your campaign. Content marketing should be driving relevant customers to your website – this is the core principal of marketing, to introduce your product to your market.
If your site has a high bounce rate it could indicate that your marketing efforts are attracting the wrong sort of readers. A typical example of this is when people use humour to drive traffic to a website. You may get a lot of interest across social media, and many site visitors on the back of this, but the fact is these visitors are usually looking for another joke, not your product or service.
If your product or service is only available to a specific geographic market, you must measure the location of your website visitors. Many unscrupulous overseas SEO companies will promise an increase in traffic, but what they won’t tell you is that your readers will all be from outside your geographic market. If you are running a UK business, 10 visitors from your target market area is far more valuable than 1000 visitors from the Far East.
Local SEO is the fastest growing area of digital marketing for a very good reason – it helps drive relevant visitors to your business, rather than taking a shotgun approach.
Monitoring device usage is a relative new metric to follow, but one that is becoming increasingly important. More people are now searching Google on mobile devices than desktop computers, and people are even more likely to search for local products and services on a mobile device.
If your web analytics show that a majority of your readers are on desktop, this may indicate that your website is not being ranked by Google for mobile. If this is the case, have a website health check carried out, as this will highlight potential problems – speak to our technical consultants for advice on this.
Also, when analysing bounce rates, filter down to device level – a significantly higher bounce rate on mobile would suggest that there are some mobile user experience problems that need fixing.
While Google search and social media are the biggest draws of online traffic today, email marketing still plays an important role. You should have a regular newsletter that provides informative and engaging content for your market.
If people are opening your emails but not clicking through to your site, this indicates that your email marketing campaigns need to be updated.
Social Media Shares
How much your content is shared Facebook, or retweeted on Twitter, is a good indicator of how good its quality is. However, today comments and shares are the considered to be the best metrics to follow for Facebook. When people comment, or share content, they are truly engaged with that content. Clicking Like no longer carries the same weight as it did a few years ago.
Of course, conversion rate is the most important metric for a website that is selling a product. You need to see an improvement in the percentage of visitors who purchase from you, otherwise your marketing efforts are being wasted. If your conversion rate is falling while visitor count increases, this indicates that your website is attracting people outside of your target audience. If you are paying for these visitors, it is money down the drain.
By measuring each of these metrics monthly you will be able to quickly identify campaign successes. Speak to one of our SEO marketing consultants to learn how to use these metrics in your campaigns.