How to choose an SEO agency

Sussex Business Times recently published at article written by Artemis Business Development Manager Matt Rosine providing advice on choosing an SEO agency. Here we present the article in full:

 

In an industry where jargon and meaningless statistics are too often used to mask a lack of any discernible work, we feel our clients deserve a measure of success that is based on ROI, not numbers.

So, it is with this in mind I wanted to put together some useful questions for any business to ask when searching for a new SEO/Digital Marketing agency. By getting clear answers to these questions you will be in a far better position to make an informed choice rather than being overwhelmed by a sales pitch and impressive numbers often pulled out of the air.

Like many business owners and employees these days, you are probably sick to the back teeth with being offered SEO services via junk email or poor quality sales calls. It is a sad fact of the digital age that unscrupulous people feel they can make a quick buck from what is often a confusing and unknown world.

However, in among this confusion there are some very good, hard working, and highly skilled SEO agencies offering businesses a real means to reach out to customers and dramatically improve both traffic and enquires.

If you are looking to move into this type of internet marketing, there are a few simple questions you can ask that will easily weed out the “churn and burn” scammers from the top-notch search marketers.

Two people sitting on a sofa with one person standing behind them talking

 

How do you report the work you do?

This is a fundamental factor for any business looking to spend money with an SEO agency. If you pay for a service, you should be able to see what that service entails and what work has been completed each month.

It is all too common for an agency to simply say they have done the work but insist sharing any details would compromise them. This is, frankly, an unacceptable response often used to cover up the fact no work has been done at all. Would you really be happy to work with anyone who cannot account, in detail, for the time you pay them for?

“A good agency should show you historic results and case studies and give clear evidence of success without making promises they are sure not to keep”

How do you report results?

Another huge factor in making sure you’re getting value for money is how the results of the campaign are reported to you. Gone are the days of just searching for yourself and seeing if you ranked higher than yesterday. Google recognises your searches and will invariably show your site above others because you are on it all the time. You need an accurate measurement of ranking gains to justify your spend. A good agency should have dedicated software that will clearly show each term’s movement over time. This should be accessible to you at all times and not just a screenshot sent once a month.

Artemis directors sitting around a table talking

 

Do you promise results?

This is a very counter-intuitive thing to consider, but not when you are aware of the environment in which it sits. Google is constantly changing how it works to make sure users get the most suitable and useful results. This means it is impossible to predict what factors it may include in the future when selecting results. The job of an SEO agency is to pre-empt, protect and ensure client sites profit from these changes in order to grow their rankings. When you consider this, it’s also important to remember any kind of guaranteed results is at best hopeful and at worst simply made up.

A good agency should show you historic results and case studies and give clear evidence of success without making promises they are sure not to keep. A skilled agency will be confident enough to tell you they will get results as fast as they can, but they cannot 100% predict what Google will do nor how much your competitors might suddenly spend on SEO.

person holding a gold balloon with 'SEO Stardom' written in text

 

There are many more factors involved in choosing a good SEO agency, but these three questions should give you some idea of the type of people you are dealing with. You should also try and speak to some of their existing clients, and make sure they have a non-compete agreement in your area so you don’t end up fighting your main rival and both paying the same company. Also ask if they outsource work or do it all in house.

Outsourcing is fine but ideally it should only make up a very small part of the work on offer, otherwise you are just paying a middle-man for work with quality you cannot control.

All of the team here at Artemis hope you’ve found this blog useful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me personally if you have any questions, or if we can help in any way: matt.rosine@artemis.marketing.

Original Source: www.sussexbusinessgroup.co.uk (issuu)


How your cybersecurity affects your SEO

Did you know that your business’ website security directly affects your SEO? Google sees many of the effects of a hack or breach as a negative ranking factor. This means that cybersecurity is not only important for the safety of your business data and assets, it can also affect your traffic from Google and other search engines.

In this blog we take a look at how the damage and disruption to your site caused by a cyberattack can cause you to slip in the rankings. If you have seen your positions drop as a result for a cyberattack please contact us today for information on the SEO services we can provide to get your business back into a strong position.

Hacked site warning

You have probably seen a Google listing with a warning message that reads ‘This site may be hacked’ similar to the image below:

This is never good news for a website, as it means that Google has noticed that the site is showing signs of having been compromised by cybercriminals. It’s worth pointing about that this will see a very negative effect on your traffic, as the message could put visitors off clicking on your page.

In terms of your SEO too, this is a real cause for concern beyond the challenges of dealing with the potential hack itself. Firstly, we know that the behaviour of users affects search rankings – if your site is hacked and not being clicked, this indicates to Google that you are being ranked incorrectly and are a less useful result.

This means that sites that Google believes have been hacked will very quickly see a drop off in their rankings. The damage to your SEO is greater the longer the message is attached to your site. You can have the warning removed from your site by contacting Google via Search Console to request they review your site. However, it is important that you do something about the hack first.

Content changes on hacked sites

You might assume that the only reason that a cybercriminal would look to compromise your site would be to steal data. However, this is not the case at all – cybercrime has a large range of goals and objectives.

According to a recent study from GoDaddy, 73.9 per cent of cyber-attacks against websites are SEO-based. Sites are hacked and the content is changed with various tactics being used such as adding outbound links to a website, creating new covert web pages, or even configuring the site to show something entirely different to Google.

There are also examples of terrorist organisations and other nefarious groups hacking websites in order to spread propaganda. Other common site modifications include using compromised sites to send spam emails or mine cryptocurrency.

No matter how a site is modified, it can cause seriously reputational damage in the eyes of Google. This can lead to you losing hard earning ranking positions, or even be penalised if links to dangerous sites, or irrelevant content are discovered by crawlers.

The importance of a secure connection

It was back in 2017 that Google Chrome began labelling HTTP websites as ‘Not secure’ – and while at the time sites were not being punished in any other way by this label it was a signifier to the SEO community that having a secure site was something that was going to become very important. The message referred to sites that were using HTTP rather than HTTPS; those not using password encryption, and are therefore less secure.

Initially the ‘Not secure’ label was a problem for SEO only due to the fact that it could put off potential visitors from staying on your site. But Google has since confirmed that the message is now a ranking factor, so it can be losing you traffic in multiple ways if you do not make the switch over to HTTPS.

Bad reviews of your site

Reviews are becoming increasingly important as a ranking factor on Google – the search engine has its own Reviews section and customers and visitors are invited to leave comments about the site. If a site builds up a number of negative ratings, it can start to see the site fall in the rankings. If your website is hacked in any visible way – such as with content changes or warning messages as mentioned above, visitors may start leaving negative reviews.

These reviews hang around and can have a huge impact on your site and your business. This is another reason why it is critical to invest in cyber security for the sake of your SEO.

It should be noted that Google will remove negative reviews against your site in certain circumstances when the reviewer has contravened the guidelines. For example, if someone has used illegal or racist language, or if they have created a number of similar reviews against similar businesses to yours.

Downtime is bad for your SEO

If you suffer any kind of cyber attack or data breach it is almost inevitable that your site will require a period of downtime. It is necessary to take your site down as you seek to understand the extent of the incident, address any damage, and establish how the attack occurred. This is a very important period of your business as you will need to take the time to clean your site – but it can also leave you in a position where you are offline for a significant period of time.

Downtime for a period of minutes won’t affect your ranking, but when your site is offline for hours or even days at a time you will start to see significant rules in your ranking positions.

What does your business need to do?

It should go without saying that cybersecurity needs to be a priority for your business, both as a function of keeping your data and assets safe, but also to protect your Google rankings. Every business and organisation needs to take appropriate cyber security advice and implement relevant defence measures to minimise the risk of a successful attack.

At Artemis, we are an SEO agency that understands the importance of powerful cyber security measures. We understand the need for a holistic approach to SEO and digital marketing – we would love to talk to you about the services we provide so contact our friendly team today.


A beginner’s guide to schema markup for SEO

What is schema?

Schema is a type of structured data that allows search engines to better understand a website, page, or elements on a page. Schema markup is code that can be added to a website to define specific types of information and data. The schema allows search engines to understand and display specific pieces of information in the SERPs, known as rich snippets. These rich snippets are visual and can increase click-through rates as they make your web page stand out from others.

Different types of schema

There are hundreds of different types of schema. Which you use will depend on your type of business, what information you have on your website and what you want to promote within the SERPs. Some of the most common types of schema markup include:

  • Organization
  • LocalBusiness
  • Review and AggregateRating
  • Person
  • Q&A / FAQ
  • Products
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Events

What schema should I use?

The type of schema markup you use will be determined by a few factors.

Firstly, your business type. What kind of business you are? If you are a local business mostly serving a geographic area, you should start by using the LocalBusiness schema as this tells Google you operate locally. Whereas if you are an online ecommerce store, you would be more likely to use Organization schema to highlight key contact information.

Secondly, what kind of information do you have on your website? Do you have Q&A or FAQs? Do you have products? Do you have reviews from Google or use a third-party review website like Trustpilot? Do you run courses or events? This information can all be marked up with schema.

How do I generate schema and add it to my website?

Once you’ve decided what information you want to mark up, how do you go about getting the schema code? And how do you add it to your website?

To generate the Schema code, you can go to the Schema.org website and find the type you are looking for. This can be a bit overwhelming, so an easier way to create the code is to use one of the ‘schema markup generator tools’ that are available online – these create the schema for you. There is also a Google markup tool you can use to help create schema based on page items. You can also take a look at one of our previous blog posts by my colleague Sara to see examples of what the schema code actually looks like.

Schema is available in different formats; JSON-LD, Microdata and RDFa. At Artemis we use JSON-LD for all of our clients.

Once you have the code ready, you can test that it works in the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. Run the schema through the code snippet and it will highlight any errors or warnings. Once any errors or warnings have been fixed, you are ready to add the schema to your website. We would recommend testing the schema again once it is live.

You can also monitor schema in Google Search Console, and there have recently been some new reports launched that allow you to keep an eye on the following; FAQ, how-to, events, products, logo, recipes schema and more.

Examples of rich snippets in Google

Here’s a few examples of websites using schema effectively, producing rich snippets in the SERPs:

1. John Lewis using Product and Review schema to highlight price, availability and product rating:

 

2. Into The Blue using FAQ and AggregateRating schema:

 

3. Songkick using event schema for upcoming concerts:

 

4. BBC Good Food using recipe schema:

 

Schema can be a bit fiddly at times, but the more you use it, the easier it gets. If you have any questions about schema or would like some help with adding schema to your website, we’d love to hear from you.


Five key takeaways from BrightonSEO 2019

A number of the Artemis team attended BrightonSEO on April 12th 2019 and came away with a number of fascinating insights into the trends surrounding the industry. Here, Account Director, Tom Hart, provides his five key takeaways from the conference.

Brighton SEO

1. You can’t ‘do’ SEO without using developers

Unless you are an incredibly technical SEO, you cannot work successfully on a website without the help of a developer. And not just any developer, it has to be a developer who understands what you need and can implement it without causing any issues to the site.

Polly Pospelova’s talk on trying to hit a 100% Lighthouse report score really drove this home.  The recommendations that come out of a Lighthouse report are not ones that your average SEO will be able to handle.  So, having a developer on hand to make those changes isn’t just a nice to have it is necessary in order to be proficient at SEO in 2019.

2. Leads can come from anywhere

Gregg Gifford who always delivers high energy, relevant and insightful talks, was again on point. Those of you who have seen him speak before will know he isn’t somebody you want to miss.

Along with being a great speaker he really knows his stuff and there are invariably going to be takeaways from his talks that you didn’t necessarily realise before. He showed how 40% of the questions in the Q&A area on one of his clients GMB pages were actually leads. With such a high percentage of leads coming from this avenue it is vital to make sure these are being tracked and dealt with.

3. The takeover of voice search

Is voice search actually taking over?  There seemed to be very little mention of voice search in the talks I was present in. This might be slightly surprising given the figures that are banded around when people want to argue about voice search.

Maybe it wasn’t mentioned because people are still not sure how to optimise for it. Maybe the traffic you get from voice search has little value in terms of conversions. Or maybe it just isn’t growing at the rate we are led to believe. In John Mueller’s keynote session he was indicating that a lot of voice searches are still very simplistic or even commands to your device, ‘what is the time’, ‘play Spotify’ or ‘what is the weather forecast’.  It seems we may still be some way from a full-blown voice search generation.

Talk at BrightonSEO

4. Where were the mentions of mobile?

While with voice search I can understand why it wasn’t really mentioned, but are people really still ignoring mobile? A lot of slides that I saw just gave examples of websites on desktop screens even now when we so clearly live in a mobile-first world.

Anybody not taking mobile search seriously isn’t taking SEO seriously.  It doesn’t matter if you still get the majority of your traffic through desktop it is the mobile version of your website that you need to concentrate on.

5. John Mueller is a black belt in giving nothing away

Last year’s keynote session with John Mueller was a procession of inane questions that he could quite easily bat away without revealing anything. Somebody even asked is Google male or female. You have somebody who works in the inner sanctums of Google, is that really the best question to ask him!?

This year was far better and the questions that were put to him far more insightful and probing. There were numerous silences where you could see John didn’t immediately know how to answer. And while he maybe expected the questions, Hannah Smith did a great job of not letting him off the hook too easily. He did however, with great skill and poise, manage to say a lot, but reveal very little.

 

 

 

 

 


Why does UX matter so much on mobile?

In today’s blog, Artemis SEO Manager Kerry Jones examines website user experience (UX) and takes a closer look at why it matters so much on mobile.

Your website may be responsive, but is it truly mobile-friendly?

With Google’s switch over to mobile first indexing, user experience on mobile devices has become one of the most important factors to consider when optimising a website.

“The limited screen size on mobiles has required a complete rethink as to how content is displayed on websites. Google is adapting its search results based on how mobile pages are set up. As Google’s understanding of how users interact with mobile pages improves, an increased focus on mobile usability is absolutely fundamental for search success going forward. With the Chrome browser, Google has usability data across all pages of a website. Mobile usability is a key factor in 2019.” Justin Aldridge, Technical Director at Artemis

Mobile vs. desktop

With an increasing number of searches performed on mobile vs desktop over recent years, now is definitely the time to take action on mobile to improve it as much as possible.

You might be thinking “how does this apply to me when 80% of my traffic comes from desktop?” Well Google will still index the mobile version of your website first, meaning that desktop rankings are deciphered from mobile and if your website doesn’t provide a good mobile user experience, then your desktop rankings are likely to suffer.

 

How does Google know if a website provides a poor user experience?

Google has access to website usage and engagement statistics, including the average time users spend on page/site, page interactions and bounce rates. If these statistics aren’t as good as your competitors, then Google may favour those better performing websites.

Things to consider on mobile:

  • Does the website load quickly in Wi-Fi as well as 3G and 4G?
  • Is the header condensed for mobile? Or does it take up the whole device landing screen forcing users to scroll down to see content/images?
  • Is the menu visible on all pages? Are all key pages accessible from it?
  • Is content readable or too small?
  • Are contact and sign up forms optimised for mobile?
  • Is the search functionality visible and does it use typing suggestions?
  • Does the website make sure of read more tabs where necessary to prevent endless paragraphs of text?

There are various ways you can review your mobile usability:

  1. Firstly, perform some tasks on your mobile that you would expect your customers to do, for example, adding a product to cart and going through the checkout process, or filling out a contact form to see if there are any obvious issues.
  2. Check for any mobile usability issues reported in Google Search Console. This section will point out instances whereby clickable elements are too close together, where the content has fallen off the screen, plus much more. You can also run the website through the Google Mobile-Friendly
  3. Run a Google Lighthouse report on the website. This will provide speed improvement recommendations as well as accessibility, best practice and SEO considerations.
  4. Set up Hotjar heatmaps to monitor mobile user behaviour and see what people are clicking on and how far they are scrolling down the page. Record users to find any common pitfalls or annoyances. Take a look at our blog post on how to turn visitors into customers on Hotjar here.
  5. Review Google Analytics for high exit pages on mobile devices, then go and check these on mobile to find out why users are leaving the site.

Google’s Playbooks for retail or lead gen websites are great resources to refer to whilst reviewing the UX of a website.

If you’re interested in ensuring your website has a UX that is optimised for mobile, Artemis offers a mobile first audit.


What is your bounce rate and why is it important for SEO?

If you’re a small or medium-sized business owner you may not have come across the term ‘bounce rate’ or you may have noticed it on your Google Analytics web stats. The reason why bounce rate has always featured so prominently on top line web stats is because it’s a key indication on how engaging your web pages are to visitors. And this has an impact on SEO.

Bounce rate explained

The bounce rate of your website – or a particular page – is the percentage of users who leave the web page they landed on without any kind of interaction with it. No clicks; they simply arrive, decide it’s not what they wanted to see and leave, looking for a more suitable resource.

For this reason, bounce rate is a measure of the quality of a user’s visit and a high bounce rate indicates that the pages people are landing on – your ‘landing pages’ – aren’t relevant to them.

A website’s bounce rate is displayed as a percentage: the total number of sessions viewing the site and leaving without any interaction is divided by the total number of page views for a given time period. In simple terms, a high bounce rate is bad and a low bounce rate is good!

In Google Analytics, you will see an overall bounce rate for your website displayed in your top line stats and a report that shows which pages have the highest individual bounce rates.

Bounce rate vs. exit rate

Bounce rate is different from exit rate because it measures people who leave without visiting any other pages on your website. An exit rate for a page refers to visitors who leave your site from a particular page, after coming to that page from somewhere else on your site.

A common example of a bounce is someone who lands on your home page from the search results and hits the back button on their browser pretty much straight away. If they clicked on your products page then left the site, the visit would show as an exit from the product page and not a bounce because they’ve visited two pages on your site.

What counts as a bounce?

You may be surprised what counts as a bounce. We’ve already mentioned clicking the back button but there are a number of things a user can do which will also count. If they close the window or tab, that counts. Typing a new URL in the address bar does too. So, does clicking on a link to another website from within your page. They are all ways of leaving your website without interaction.

How it impacts SEO

Google uses a complex set of metrics when ranking web pages but its own user data is pretty critical.  Both bounce and exit rate are strong indicators of a web page’s quality and ‘stickiness’ – and Google’s primary aim is to serve up the best quality and most relevant pages in its search engine results pages (SERPS). If your pages have a high bounce rate, it means they’re not relevant to the search terms users typed – and will be less likely to rank well. Conversely, if the bounce rate is low, it means users are spending time on your page, finding content to engage in and exploring your site further.

What is a good bounce rate?

Every industry is different so we can’t give a blanket answer to this. Instead you should compare your web metrics with other sites in your industry.  Shopping websites tend to have lower bounce rates as people are more inclined to browse products, whereas a specific geographical landing page for a service industry which contains all the information users need on that page will have a significantly higher rate. This also applies if your website is a simple one-page site. As a guide:

  • Retail sites should aim for 20-40%
  • Service industry sites (e.g. Financial services) should aim for 10-30%
  • Content sites should aim for 40-60%
  • Landing pages should aim for 70-90%

What can I do to improve my website?

As a first step to improving your website bounce rate you should identify which pages on your website users land on most frequently. You can do this in Google Analytics. These are the pages you should focus on to do the following things:

  • Ensure the content on the page is relevant and engaging – you may consider rewriting it, breaking it up, adding images or video and links to other relevant content. Ensure there is enough detail for users if they want it. If you’re worried about having too much visible content on the page, you can use ‘read more’ links.
  • Ensure the design of the page is engaging – clear layout, easy to read font, clear journey through the page and jumps off to relevant content. Perhaps get someone who’s never seen the page to take a test drive through it.
  • Ensure any links to external sites open in a new window by using the target=”_blank” attribute in your links.
  • Link to a glossary that explains industry terms or a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.
  • Ensure the page loads quickly. We recommend aiming for a 5 second page load time. To measure this, use a tool like GT Metrix or Google’s own Page Speed Checker (NB this will check your mobile page speed as Google now looks at mobile ahead of desktop).
  • Get rid of any pop-up ads – they annoy users.
  • If your page has adverts, consider where they’re placed. Too many, too prominently on the page are a turn off.
  • Check that your site navigation is clear and the user journey through the website is planned out.
  • Include plenty of internal links to other, useful pages on your website – e.g. similar products and services, customer reviews, relevant blog or news posts and contact page
  • Include clear calls to action (CTAs) as buttons or banners to prompt users to click on them.

If you implement the above points on your key pages, you will not only improve your bounce rate but also the SEO for that page – and in turn should see more users from organic search. But remember, nothing happens overnight so keep checking those web metrics every month!


Why keywords are still the key to your website success in 2019

The purpose of this post is to give an overview of why keywords are still so important, for business owners or marketers without a detailed SEO knowledge.

I was inspired to write this post, as I regularly see new clients’ websites that are missing the most basic keywords, even those who have previously hired an SEO agency.

  • Many things are written about the keys to a website search engine success in 2019, for example this blog post lists over 200 factors that Google considers.
  • It is worth taking a step back to look at the function Google provides. If someone types in (or speaks) their query, like “plumber in Brighton”; Google’s algorithm looks at all the web pages in its index and serves what it considers to be the ‘best’ results.
  • While Google looks at over 200 factors, if you are a plumber in Brighton, you are certainly going to make your job of achieving top ranking much harder if you do not have ‘plumber’ or ‘brighton’ written on relevant web pages.

So, despite all of Google’s advances since it was founded in 1998, keywords are still the key to websites’ success, here are the six reasons why:

1. People still search using words

Despite technology advances, people still search using words, whether typing on mobile, desktop or using voice search. Words are therefore the basis of every search.

2. Keywords relate to 11 of the 59 page factors that Google looks at for rankings

According to Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List (2018), keywords are directly related to 11 of the 59 on page factors that Google looks at when deciding where to rank your website in its natural listings. So, defining the right keywords in the correct places are still extremely important for your website’s rankings.

3. Google makes its money from keywords

In 2017, ads accounted for over 70% of Google total $111 Billion revenue, and 89% of this ad revenue came from ads in their search results.

The ads in their search results work on a keyword cost per click model. So, the advertiser will bid on a keyword they wish to rank for, and the more commercially viable that keyword the more they will bid. So, it is worth remembering that keywords drive Google’s income, so they are going nowhere!

4. Keywords help your website to clearly define what you are selling

The right keywords can help you to clearly and succinctly define your product or services, from the more general such as ‘plumber’ to the highly specific such as ‘Emergency boiler repairs in Brighton’.

So, for example if you where this firm of plumbers:

  • Home Page – this should include more general keywords such a ‘plumbers’ and maybe your locations
  • Services pages – you should have an ‘Emergency Boiler Repairs’ page and maybe your locations

For further details on how to structure your website, see: How to Create a Site Structure That Will Enhance SEO.

5. Keyword research helps you match your site to what searchers are looking for

Google provides data to the precise search queries people use. Tools like Keywords Everywhere make accessing this data quick and simple.

Knowing the number of searches for one keyword versus another can be extremely informative in how you write and structure your website.

Let’s say you are a firm of plumbers and you offer ‘boiler installations’ and ‘heat pump installations’ but Google tells you that there are no searches for ‘heat pump installations’ in your area, this tells you to focus more efforts on the ‘boiler installation’ content on your website. See actual results:

  • boiler installer brighton: 30 Google searches a month
  • heat pump installer brighton: 0 Google searches a month

For more information see:  How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner’s Guide.

6. Keyword research helps you target more commercially viable search terms

As Google makes money from selling Ads and knows the price people will bid for specific keywords. This gives you as a website owner extremely valuable information as to the commercial viability of a keyword.

Let’s say you were considering two pages on your plumbing website, one about your Emergency Plumbing Services, and one about Small Plumbing jobs. But the cost per click for the two search terms where as follows:

  • emergency plumbers brighton: £12.74 per click
  • small job plumber brighton: £2.03 per click

This indicates that ’emergency plumbers brighton’ is a much more commercially viable term, and that your site will generate higher value enquiries if you spend more time optimising writing content for ‘emergency plumber’ related keywords.

For further reading, see Google AdWords: The Beginner’s Guide.

 

If you have any comments please leave a comment below.

Or if you feel that your business website is lacking good keyword targeting, call us on 01444 645018 for a FREE initial chat, or for more information see our SEO page.


Using PPC data to inform SEO

Traditionally, SEO and PPC have been seen as very separate entities – rivals competing a bigger slice of the digital marketing budget in any given organisation. Your company’s organic search specialists will argue that SEO is a long-term strategy with better value for money and lasting effects that make a difference for your business. But those interested in paid search will counter: PPC is immediate, and it always gets results.

Of course, they are both right: SEO and PPC can each be effective strategies and can often work harmoniously for a holistic approach to digital marketing. But it is perhaps not recognised often enough that aside from working together – there is actually much that SEOs can learn from PPC practice and data.

Lack of communication between SEO and PPC specialists can be a hinderance to the success of a business. So, in this blog we will take a look at how your SEO department can utilise PPC data and insights effectively.

Learn faster than SEO

As has been mentioned, PPC is typically seen as a ‘faster’ form of digital marketing. This is due to the fact that while the SEO work you do on a website can take months before you see a significant improvement in your rankings (and therefore, traffic and sales), PPC ads can bring in customers in minutes.

Clearly, then, there is an opportunity for SEOs to learn where they need to target their next campaign. For example, if your business is moving into a new product area, using PPC ads can tell you very quickly the kinds of products and pages that work successfully. Test product pages individually to see which ones perform the best. Long-term SEO can then be planned around these pages, as there may be more potential for conversions in them.

Understanding the metrics

PPC data can provide you with an absolute gold mine of useful information on how pages perform. Click through rate and conversion rate are two vital metrics that can be extremely easily tracked through a PPC campaign – you can take many insights from the campaign.

Look for pages with a high click-through rate but a low conversion rate. It may be the case that the advert here is misleading, so when visitors click through, they don’t find what they are looking for. Alternatively, it may be the case that the advert piqued the interest of the visitor, but the page failed to live up to expectations. These can offer great opportunities to improve these pages.

Check how your high click-through/low conversion pages fair through organic traffic – if the conversion rate is low here then the problem is clearly with the page. Low quality pages can be a big problem for long-term SEO – and simply by comparing the PPC data with organic data you can learn whether a page is a problem, or if the issue is elsewhere.

Useful reports

It was once easy to understand which search terms were generating the most revenue for your business. However, updates to Google Analytics made it far more challenge to access this data in a meaningful and useful way. It has become necessary for SEOs to effectively take an educated guess in order to establish the best converting keywords for their site.

However, if you are also running a PPC campaign then there is no need to guess. A PPC specialist will be able to easily obtain a search term report for your account that will include a full range of useful metrics including, impressions, CTR and, yes, conversion rate!

You can then take this useful data and understand which terms are the most effective. This is just one example of PPCs sometimes having access to information that a pure SEO specialist might not realise is available.

Practical examples for how you can use PPC data to inform SEO

There are plenty of practical of examples of things that the SEO team can start doing immediately in order to benefit from PPC insights.

  1. Faster A/B testing – we have already mentioned that one of the major benefits of PPC over SEO is that it works faster. This gives you the opportunity to carry out any important A/B testing at a much faster rate than what would be possible for SEO. While SEO A/B tests might take weeks or even months to come up with preferred options, PPC campaigns can find out in days.
  2. Use best performing ad copy to inform meta titles and descriptions – it is also worth noting that when a particular PPC advert works well, it can be sensible to use this to inform meta titles and descriptions. If a PPC ad that mentions ‘award winning service’ and it is performing above better than other ads, then it is definitely worth using this phrasing in your meta description.
  3. Calls-to-action – getting your calls-to-action right can make a huge difference to the success of a site. PPC ads tend to use a much broader variety of CTAs than standard pages, so they are constantly testing their effectiveness. Take a look at which CTAs convert best, and then roll them out.

But… be aware of the pitfalls

Of course, there is the potential to be ‘false positives’ within PPC data that, when applied to the site generally as an organic search tactic, will not be effective. There can be many reasons for this – perhaps visitors coming to your site through CTA-heavy adverts are more primed to convert than a visitor casually searching on a term you rank well for.

The best advice then is to take ‘too good to be true’ data with a pinch of salt. What works for PPC often works for SEO but it is not always the case. You can use high performing PPC ads to inform content strategy, but be aware that organic search comes with its own challenges so it is always advisable to work with specialists.

If you would like to work with a digital agency with leading technical staff across both SEO and PPC, Artemis would love to hear from you.


9 Simple A/B tests you can run to improve conversions

A lot of website owners think that the most vital part of their online business is getting traffic. While this is, of course, pretty essential, there’s actually something far more important to work towards – converting that traffic into paying customers.

It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to get caught up in metrics like search engine rankings and page traffic and forget about what’s actually making you money!

A/B testing

When it comes to boosting conversions quickly and effectively, A/B testing is the answer.

Also known as split testing, A/B testing is where you make one small change to a web page (or advert, or marketing email) and run both the new and original versions simultaneously, to see which one brings in more customers. Rather than just assuming that a bigger button is better or having “a hunch” that a simpler banner will boost click-throughs, A/B testing provides solid evidence.

Here are some examples of really simple A/B tests that can have a surprising impact on your conversions – just remember to only change one thing at a time, so you can clearly see which options are more effective.

  1. Rephrasing your Call to Action (CTA) – is “Buy Now” more effective than “Add to Basket”? Now you’ll know for sure.
  2. Moving your CTA button – you might find more people click on a button that’s higher up the page or is slightly bigger than your current one.
  3. Changing the colour of your CTA button – do your customers see the colour green as “go” or will red instil urgency into their click-through? What Only an A/B test will tell you for sure.
  4. Swapping images – will a photograph perform better than an illustration? Perhaps your customers would rather see a young entrepreneur than a picture of your product – or perhaps not. Play around with images to see how they affect your conversion rates.
  5. Refining your headlines – try using this title text to address your customer pain points or explain the benefits you bring them. Does it make a difference?
  6. Compare subject lines – if you’re running an email campaign, see how a playful subject line plays against an informative one, or whether asking a question yields better results than a short, simple statement.
  7. Revise your copy – this might be a bigger job than some of the others, but it can provide excellent returns. Can you make your text longer? Shorter? Punchier? More problem-focused? Chattier?
  8. Simplify your navigation – if your customers are getting distracted or confused by pages within pages, try changing the location of your navigation tools (and possibly the language they use) to make it easier for browsers to hit “buy”.
  9. Shorten your forms – you might think that you need all that data “for marketing”, but if it’s actually putting customers off, is it worth it? Split test long and short forms to see how much business they’re costing you, if any.

Keep in mind, a single A/B test is unlikely to revolutionise your business. It’s more about incremental gains that slowly but surely help your website to work as hard as it possibly can for you and your customers, making the most out of its excellent ranking and high volume of traffic. For friendly technical advice and more details about different ways in which you can increase your website conversions, give our team a call or leave us a comment below


Four quick daily Google Analytics checks

Here are four quick daily Google Analytics checks courtesy of Senior SEO Manager Jack Stonehouse. 

Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google that provides insights and data for your website traffic. It has a vast amount of useful information that you can use to ensure your business is on track. It can however be quite overwhelming when you log in there are hundreds if not thousands of reports you can view and create.

Below are a handful of quick and simple checks you can do for your website. I prefer to change my date view to show the last 30 days or so, this gives me a better trend across the month. I will also review all the reports compared to the previous 30 days and the same period last year. Comparing year on year will help identify any seasonal trends.

What we are looking out for is any major change that isn’t in line with the normal trend.

1. Channels

The channels report is found by going to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. This report covers the main mediums that send you traffic. The key channels are:

  • Organic Search – This is all traffic from Search Engines (Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go etc.)
  • Paid Search – This is traffic from PPC ads such as Google Adwords
  • Direct – This is traffic that comes from users that type your website domain name straight into the browser, it is also a catch-all for traffic that Google cannot identify and is just placed in the Direct bucket
  • Social – This is traffic from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest
  • Referral – This is traffic to your website from other websites
  • Email – This is traffic from Email campaigns

The key stats to check on the channel report are Users, Sessions, Bounce Rate, Conversion Rate and Revenue/Goals (Revenue for E-commerce websites and Goals for all other sites).

 

You can change the data that is displayed on the graph by using the menu/drop down highlighted red in the screenshot above.

2. Referrals

The referrals report is found by going to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals. This report shows traffic to your website from other websites.

This check is just a quick one to see if there are any new websites that are driving traffic to your site. If there are you could potentially contact them to see how you could both work together to increase the traffic further. This could be through providing them content with another link back to your website, or if have an affiliate system setup, you could ask them to sign up.

3. Landing Pages

The landing pages report is found by going to Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages. This report shows which pages users land on when they first come to your website.

This is important to monitor for any vast changes in visits, some common situations for an increase in landing page traffic are if a social post goes viral, you get a good backlink that is driving traffic or a key term starts ranking in a high up position in the Search Engine Results Pages.

4. Ecommerce Overview

The ecommerce overview report is found by going to Conversions > Ecommerce >Overview. This report is just for sites that sell products and shows key information such as revenue and conversion rate.

You need to enable this report by adding ecommerce tracking to your website, it is also recommended you add enhanced ecommerce tracking so you get even more in-depth data to review.

Key stats to watch here are any drop in revenue or conversion rate, some reasons could be due to an item going out of stock or an issue with the checkout process.

For more detailed statistics you can also view the following e-commerce reports (once you have enabled enhanced tracking):

  • Shopping Behaviour
  • Checkout Behaviour
  • Product Performance
  • Sale Performance

If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or get in touch with our friendly team here.