Wednesday, 30 October 2013

0 Is Your Website Too Mobile Customers Fail to Catch It?

This image presents actual statistics of a hotel accommodation client that I have been servicing.

While they are happy as always with their web leads and customer engagement, the website is responsive enough and filled with customer engagement widgets such as chat, usp's and calls to action, the looming decision to maintain their responsive website vs. create a full mobile app suite looms and continues to bite us like a thorn in our throats.

Notice the obviously increasing number of mobile and tablet audiences amounting to more than half of the desktop viewership and 35% of all traffic.

Now this post is less of a lecture, but more of a rhetoric and a ramble.  Since most businesses are left with a few choices.  I wonder what would work better for specific industries.

Revising the web template into a mobile responsive one might do the trick, it is quick to do and a lot more affordable.  But would it be sustainable enough to cope with the channel (desktop to mobile) changes?  Can it even address the issues customer engagement and user interphase at all?  Is it just a small patch and does not address the root cause of a problem?

Going full on and hiring a team to design and create a full mobile website or a mobile app may seem to be a long term fix, but it runs the website into a risk of converting it into a different, non efficient, and non effective animal after all.  What about the branding, specific user interphase functions, and conversion best practices that may be lost?  Sure, advanced analytics data, goals, funnels, a/b tests and heat maps can be applied.  But do we all just leave the new mobile design into chance and hope for the best. Before anyone moves forward can simply optimising the already responsive design solve the issue and keep it sustainable?

It's a chicken or egg question actually, but I would like to hear your thoughts.

Vittorio

Thursday, 10 October 2013

0 Seasonal Keyword Search Data with Google Trends

Have you been spending too much time doing keyword research only to find out that the search terms you have been paying too much time and resources to optimise are no longer being searched? 
Have you considered matching your keyword research data with Google trends?

You see, a retail client is ramping up for the Christmas season.  And based on historical data, long tailed and specific keywords do not show potential for traffic when reasearched using the keyword tool early this year.  But in matching the data with Google trends, we found out that a lot of these keywords are worth a second look.

We made organic and paid efforts and are making a killing so far based on the trends.  So consider this as a Christmas gift. Match your keyword data with Google trends especially if your business involves a peak during Christmas time.  You might be surprised at what you discover.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

0 Customer Experience Optimisation Kicks SEO Behind

The End of Cheating Search Engines


Most updated digital marketers know that the rollout of Google’s multiple algorithm changes in the last two years.  This post assumes that the reader is updated with this, and is not stuffing urls with keywords, and meta tags, and not paying someone overseas to create links and hyperlinks 40 hours a week.  If your digital marketer is still doing this, then you literally should have fired them 2 years ago.   


This post argues WHY Google is busy fighting spam and unnatural links.  If SERPs were a final exam in uni, then creating unnatural links and text are old ways of cheating on the exam and getting a high grade.  Unfortunately, the university is well aware of this and has taken multiple steps to catch students cheating and penalize them.  If we use the same analogy and ask the question; how then should we (marketers) make our website rank in search engines and be found by our customers?  If this was university, we pass exams and get high grades by simply studying, learning, and participating.  If a student does those 3, then students don’t need to worry about going around the system.  Getting high grades should come naturally.

Enter the Customer Experience Optimisation Dragon

So how do marketers “study for exams”?   Web marketers should think of ways to enhance customer experience on their website as the primary priority of website content development.  Only in doing this can a web presence get “natural” links and rank well in search engines.  A well enhanced customer experience also naturally acquires thought leadership and social media referral as colleagues and competitors use this content in their own respective arguments.

There are no linear processes in doing this however digital marketers can use the questions below to roughly gauge their if their web presence is maximising their customer experience capital;

1.  Does your website present a clear unique selling proposition?  Would customers find nothing special with your product offers? – Imagine a website that speaks to you telling you that they are just like any other online store, or any other digital marketer.  Present your website to first time viewers.  Create an online survey and see if customers clearly see your value proposition.  If they do not see it in the first 5 seconds, chances are, they wouldn’t even bother.

2. Are your website articles or blogs written to provide insightful information to your readers, or are they written to rank on search engines? – Are you highlighting “SEO Companies” on your website text and then putting a hyperlink on your homepage simply because it has high traffic and simply because it is an added internal link in your website?  This is such a foolish practice nowadays but still being seen in reputable digital marketing companies.  If you are to highlight anything, think of it as a reference you would create if you are making an academic article.  Anything less than that may cross the lines of natural links, not to mention may most likely not provide value to your readers.

3. When your customers click on your website links, do these links lead to reputable pages that would helps them research? – Going by the argument of creating an academic article.  When you cite links, it is crucial for you to choose links by industry leaders.  Take the case of the two hyperlinks above.  They were not meant to provide extra links to this article.  But if you want to know more about my point, then you can easily click on those links and you will be led to highly reputable content supporting the case being stated.  This blog is not in any way connected to those links.  This blog brings these links here to help build a case, help the readers and nothing else.

So What are You Going to Do Now Young Grasshoper?


Some web marketers read these and then go back to thinking of high traffic keywords to build articles upon.  If this is you, then you need to give yourself a smack in the head and wake up.  The central basis of your website content should be on how to inform and challenge your industry and nothing else.  Other than that, your website is just creating noise and should not be given any attention.  At least that’s what Google thinks it is.


View Digital Strategist | Vittorio Aquino's profile on LinkedIn

Sunday, 26 May 2013

0 The Most Important SEO Tip Businesses Need to Know

With all the algorithm updates done in the last few months, SEO may become very confusing to digital marketers let alone their clients.  Does Google aim to confuse us so we can stop figuring out how to get on top of SERPS?  This post says, “maybe so, but then again it doesn’t matter anyway”.   This is explained in detail below.


Back in early 2008, I have made a case study on the crucial factors that would help rank websites to the top of Google SERPS.  I coded a html website from scratch, researched keywords that garnered good intent and traffic, incorporated meta tags, and incorporated the right words in the content and <h> tags.  Made a few hyperlinks and then made a few organic links, then ran some automated links to similar sites.  That’s all it took for my then website to dominate the Google Search market of “SEO Company Australia”.  I have won clients because of that case study, and using the battle cry; “If I can do this to my own website, than I can make your website dominate your market”.  Those days are (un)fortunately so over.  And I have way moved on from practicing those black hat methods. 

I believe that when Google started to make their algorithms smarter, focusing on quality content and natural links, they intended to make black hat marketers like my former self extinct.  They intended for companies to focus on making worthy content for online marketing, ones that help their clients and improve their industry.  They wanted to make digital marketers focus on content strategies, market research and analysis, rather than ways to short change their algorithm.  

Unfortunately, many digital marketers have not moved on and are still focused on finding ways to work around the now very complex Google system.  They are still stuck in the 2008 methods detailed above instead of doing market research and producing valuable content.  Some may find ways to short change the system, but I guarantee that it will only be as good as the next Google algorithm change. 

So the most important SEO tip I would like to share with you all are strategies that work around producing quality and timely content for your websites.  You can view the screenshot as proof that this strategy works, and it should work for the long run.  This website relies only on quality content and nothing else for digital marketing.  Quality content should naturally be viewed, liked, and share by audiences.  From time to time, quality content can also be used as leverage for thought leadership and a vehicle to win clients.  That strategy my friends will always win no matter what changes of algorithm, rules or processes happen. If your SEO company or consultant is not including intensive content development strategies in your overall digital marketing, then your digital marketing investment is up for failure, if not now, its sooner than later.

Contact me if you want to discuss further.

Friday, 26 April 2013

0 Multiply to Shut Down All Operations at The End of May 2013


Trending now from various blogs and readers is the full shutdown of Multiply effective 31 May 2013, following a series of shutdown of its service operations in 2013,
Multiply merchants mostly located in South East Asian countries should have received an email that the site will be online till 6 of May and will discontinue operations on 31 May.  Other merchants are yet to confirm. 
Reports say that Multiply’s country managers in the Philippines and Indonesia have been contacted and updates will be posted once confirmed.  Below is the letter sent out to merchants today:

Dear Multiply Merchant,
We regret to inform you that Multiply will be closing the marketplace on May 6, 2013 and discontinuing all business operations by May 31, 2013.
Multiply will maintain normal site operations through May 6th and will wind things down through to the end of the month. We will use the rest of May to make sure that all accounts are settled and that you receive all funds you earned on the platform. We hope this provides you time needed to identify and migrate to alternative ecommerce platforms, settle all payments on items bought and delivered, and try to minimize disruption to your business.
In order to ensure that all your earnings are disbursed to you in full prior to May 31, we will cut off buying activity on May 6, 2013. This will ensure that all orders have sufficient time to be completed and delivered to your customers before the end of the month.
If you have a Trust Badge, please contact our customer support team and we will ensure that you receive a pro-rated refund for the remaining time on your subscription.
If my team can be of any assistance to you during this transition, we will do our best to help.

Monday, 25 March 2013

0 3 Things Your SEO Company Won’t (Openly) Tell You


Great sales professionals never lie.  They however highlight truths that favour the product they are selling.  They use this to infect their subjects with enthusiasm on their product and get the sales quotas they want. 


The case is true with “SEO Companies” telling you that they will put your website on Google page 1, let alone, in the top listings of search engines, and this in turn would drive traffic to your websites, and more traffic would definitely mean more sales.  This is true in a certain point of view.  But if I were to use this analogy in “optimising” your personal profile for dating sites, this would say: “Your profile will be seen on the first 10 views on dating sites, therefore you would be highly visible and would soon find the love of your life.”   It’s funny how it does not take into consideration your looks, your profile, your views, your beliefs, your compatibility factor, etc.  I’m sure you know where this argument is going so let me stop by ramble and go straight to the point.

For purposes of experimentation, I have revised a separate Linkedin profile (see screenshot) so that it will rank on a fairly competitive keyword on Google Australia.  I did no optimisation on the content of the keyword rather than those which will assist in organically ranking in Google AU search.  As expected, I ranked number 1 on some targeted keywords in 2 weeks.  While my content is clear, and my proposition is concise, I received no real leads, only hundreds of emails from offshore offering their outsourced services to me.  In short, Good SEO did not work based on this specific case.  This brings me to three things that this page lacks before it can potentially generate REAL leads.  And these things are not openly discussed on every SEO pitch given to you.  These are the “other” factors most SEO companies won’t highlight for you:

1. Good SEO does not guarantee Good Traffic
Good SEO guarantees traffic.  But search terms and keywords are tied to specific customer intent and this need to be thoroughly analysed in order to attract the kind of customers you want.  In this case, people who are searching for my target keywords aren’t actually my customers.  They are outsourcers and even competitors wanting to analyse my case study.  Does your SEO work and Google Analytics give you the traffic you want, but you somehow have no increase on your sales leads?  You need to ask your SEO (or yourself) if they keywords you have been spending time and money doing are actually the ones your customers use to search for you.  You might need to survey or interview a customer to do this.  There is no exact science in doing this, but you have to think through the mind of your customer.

2. Good Traffic does not guarantee Good Conversions
Let’s say you have gone past #1, and are driving the right customers to your site.  Are you properly engaging them to convert?  Do you have a unique selling proposition that your customers cannot resist?   How is your bounce rate?  Do you have funnel data on your Google Analytics which helps you see customer online behaviour?  You might be missing out on a lot.

3. Good Conversions does not guarantee Good Leads
Conversions are usually classified as an online purchase or an online lead.  Online purchases are easy.  But not all websites are online stores.  Online leads need over and above services as well as good and reputable brands to guarantee conversions.  While traffic and conversions are the job of digital marketing companies, they can only bring the right people to your doorstep.  How you build your brand and how you provide your customers service is up to you. 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

0 What are Google Enhanced Campaigns? What’s in It for You as a Digital Marketer?


Google Enhanced Campaigns

Australian digital search marketing professionals should see something different in Google Adwords this week. When you go to your campaign dashboard, you will see an “Enhanced” column beside your campaign status.  Your campaigns would generally default to “Legacy” until you change your settings.  Enhanced campaigns is a new feature from Adwords launched in Australia this month, Feb 2013.  This coincidentally comes right after winning a case with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).  The ACCC has previously argued that some settings in the Google Adwords Platform were misleading to customers because they seem to present commercial links to companies that are not related.  Google denies the launch of enhanced campaigns has anything to do with the timing of the win against ACCC.

Before we go off topic, Google Adwords Enhanced Campaigns are a new way of connecting (or separating) your Google ads across various platforms (desktop, mobile, tablet).  Since the original Google Advertising platform was catered for the desktop, these new settings enable ads to display seamlessly across all platforms.

What’s in It for Digital Marketers?

We actually don’t know yet. It has just appeared in some of my clients Google Adwords campaign overview platform.  We have mixed reviews so far.  Digital marketing professionals argue that while this is a good platform to target all audiences, and it presents new features for digital advertisers wanting to target mobile audiences, it automates everything and takes off advanced bidding options as well as other features, such as creating mobile-only campaigns.  Because the ad control is limited, enterprise digital marketers like myself lose the ability to change online advertising settings to maximise spend.  This may be a subtle way to increase costs per click, increase Google profit, but increase our clients budgets as well.

What do I Recommend that You Do?

I would not change anything (yet) on my ads.  Since this will become compulsory by mid 2013, I will have enough time to observe how it plays out, gather case studies, and make my own recommendations.  So stay tuned for more as I document my experiments.
 

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