3 Easy Website Design Tips to Maximize Your Conversions
09/12/15 SEO

3 Easy Website Design Tips to Maximize Your Conversions

You don’t have to be fancy or elaborate when testing your website to improve sales. These 3 small, easy, and fast changes can make a huge impact.

Web marketers obsessed with perfection can spend literally endless hours figuring out the best website design for getting the most sales.

It’s called “conversion optimization,” and some businesses shuck up $20,000 – $50,000 to optimize a single web page over a course of months.

But that’s on the extreme upper end.

At the entry level, it makes sense for SMBs to check a few key areas for quick and big wins:

  1. Calls-to-Action

You should have just one prominent call-to-action “above the fold” (the part of your website immediately visible without scrolling when you first visit).

This could be clicking a button, or calling a phone number.

Your entire home page should have 4 calls-to-action at most.

If you break either of these rules, visitors get confused, and fewer take your desired action.

  1. Headline Testing

Your website’s headline is one of the first and most immediately visible elements your visitors see.

It needs to get their attention. It must be different than what all the other companies like yours say.

If you’re an HVAC contractor, “Save Money on Your Energy Bills” is a nice start. But that’s what everyone says.

So you don’t stand out, and fewer people call.

If you say,”We’ll Keep You Comfortable All Year Long,” you’re saying something different that customers want.

To find other headline ideas, listen carefully to the actual words your customers use to talk about the biggest problem you solve for them. Include some of those words in your headline.

This builds a connection with more of them, and you get more calls and e-mails.

Customers want to save money on their energy bills too. So you can talk about that.

But it’s not what you should focus on in your headline.

  1. Test the Words on Your Call-To-Action Buttons

Again, this is just about always the same at every website for your visitors. Let’s say you’re that same HVAC contractor.

Most forms or calls-to-action end with “Get Your Free Estimate” or similar language.

Expert copywriter Joanna Wiebe offers this simple formula for writing button copy that gets more clicks and conversions:

Think from your customer’s perspective, and fill in the blank: “I Want to ________”

Customers don’t get overly excited about getting a free estimate because every HVAC contractor offers that.

So in the blank, show your customers how to get a benefit or avoid a painful problem.

It might be:

“I Want to Get My Free Estimate And Stay Comfortable All Year Long

Your Results Aren’t Guaranteed, But They’ll Likely Be Much Better

Even though these changes sound small and simple, they can have a big impact on the calls and clicks you get from your website.

You can literally experience an increase of several hundred percent when you make just one of these changes.

I can’t promise what will happen for you. Every website is unique. But it’s worth your time and effort to test once you have a nice flow of traffic to your website.

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Top 5 Search Ranking Factors of 2015 According to Moz Part 2
01/10/15 SEO

Top 5 Search Ranking Factors of 2015 According to Moz Part 2

What should you be doing with your SEO for 2015? Find out more details in part 2 of this series.

In part 1 of this 2-part series, I took a look at some of the top factors affecting search rankings in 2015.

Links are still king. And content, shockingly, didn’t seem to get as much attention as it deserves.

But, the report goes into such detail that a single blog post just isn’t enough.

So take a look at some more of the things you should be doing here as we close out 2015:

  1. Page-Level Factors that Don’t Include Keywords

Like your overall domain, pages tend to rank higher as they have more links pointing to them. That includes your own internal links and external links from other sites.

Schema.org markup, which doesn’t get a lot of attention, also has a slight positive impact on rankings. Basically, it’s microdata that helps search engines understand your content.

  1. Domain-Level Factors

.ORG extensions generally get slightly better treatment than .COM extensions. However, the difference isn’t enough to warrant registering your domain name with .ORG.

You’ll also hear things out there like you should have as short of a domain name as possible. This study found a weak relationship between domain name length and search rankings (although there was a slightly positive one).

  1. What about NoFollow Links? Should You Have Them?

The Moz study didn’t check these as an individual factor. However, they did include them as part of the factor that examined internal and external links at both the page and domain levels.

So they’re part of a healthy link profile.

  1. And You Certainly Can’t Forget about Anchor Text

Anchor text is one of the biggest changes in SEO over the years. It’s the blue text you actually see on a link. 5 years ago, it was smart to point links with anchor text that exactly matched your keywords to your website.

Today, do that with just a handful of links and you put yourself at high risk for a penalty.

That said, this is how the report concluded your anchor text should break down:

  • Partially matches your keywords and comes from many external domains
  • Exactly matches your keywords and comes from an array of other domains (but do so sparingly)
  • Partially matches your keywords and comes from many different external pages
  • Exactly matches your keywords and comes from many different pages (again do so sparingly)
  1. Engagement Metrics that Affect Your Rankings

You’ve probably heard bounce rate, the number of people that visit just one page on your website and leave, affects your search rankings.

Well, it does. But not that much. It has a low correlation with search rankings.

With a nearly two times as strong relationship, pageviews, time on site, and monthly direct visits likely affect your rankings much more than bounce rate.

“Direct” visits include people who access your website by bookmark, typing in your URL in their browser, clicking a link from a social media app for mobile, using a shortened URL, clicking a link from a MS office document, or clicking an e-mail link (depending on the provider).

Regardless of the case, you can be confident “direct traffic” is highly interested in your website.

SEO is All About Building a Great Site for Your Users

At the end of the day, Google wants websites that your users want. SEO will change, often too fast to keep up with.

But if you focus on constantly improving user experience, you’re guaranteed to do well in search now and for years in the future.

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18/08/15 SEO

Google Unexpectedly Shakes Up Local Search…Again

Google’s made dramatic changes to local search…with no warning. Learn what they are and how they could affect your SMB.

Have you noticed how local searches now look like this:

Google Shakes Up Local Search Again

SEO pros now call this the “3-pack.” Remember the old searches, when you would search for local listings, and how they gave you 7 search results?

They had 7 search results, with the business names listed, with the Google Map off the side on the right.

The official word from Google is that they’re doing this to improve the search experience. They’re saying searchers get more relevant information when multiple results are possible for a certain location.

What’s Different with the New Search Results?

So you’ve got the basics now. Take a look at what’s different with the new search results in a little more detail:

  • Your business’s phone number isn’t immediately visible
  • Your specific address isn’t immediately visible (although it sometimes is, but most of the time you see a street name)
  • Your website address isn’t immediately visible either
  • Google+ links can no longer be seen
  • Store hours are sometimes visible, depending on when during the day you search
  • You don’t see Google’s local business listing on the right anymore, although you can see it if you click to the secondary local page
  • Paid ads for related keyword searches can now be seen at the top and right side (they weren’t in either of those places in the past)

So What’s Google Doing Here?

Most likely, they’re pushing SMBs like you toward Adwords. Remember, they’re a $450 billion company, second only to Apple, which is worth around $660 billion.

They want to continue growing their profits, just like every other corporation. Why should they be any different?

If you think about it, the explanation that they’re doing this to “improve the search experience” doesn’t make sense. Basic information, like a company’s specific address and phone number, aren’t immediately found. Users have to click through to the company’s website to get that.

But, you can now click paid ads immediately (Google’s main source of revenue, by the way), when you couldn’t before. Plus, Google’s reduced the 7-pack to only 3 organic listings. So, you have to compete more intensely to get a first-page ranking for an organic listing. Or, you can pay your way by using Adwords. And that’s going to drive up advertising costs because bigger companies will now put more of their budget towards pay-per-click.

This May Not Be a Good Long-Term Move by Google…

We’ll have to see how SMBs and searchers react to this dramatic change. More clicks for users to get basic information. Businesses with the most money, not necessarily the best service, at the top of the search results.

Google was built on giving searchers the results they want more often than any other search engine, right?

This seems to be a step away from that. We’ll see what ends up happening.

Or maybe this has something to do with it?

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Top 2015 Google Search Ranking Factors According to Moz
18/08/15 SEO

Top 2015 Google Search Ranking Factors According to Moz

What should you do to rank at the top of Google in 2015? Find out Moz’s research-driven opinion.

When you read something in Time, Forbes, or Newsweek, you pretty much accept it as true because they’re the foremost authorities in their niches, aren’t they?

Well in SEO, Moz holds that position. They do extensive research to back what they say – far more thorough than anyone else.

Every 2 years, Moz surveys the world’s top SEO professionals and runs correlation studies to learn what helps and hurts your search rankings. In 2015, they surveyed 150 search marketing pros on 90 ranking factors. Dr. Matthew Peters ran a correlation study for Moz to learn which website features are associated with good search rankings. And for the first time, Moz partnered with other leading authorities in the space – SimilarWeb, DomainTools, and Ahrefs, to learn even more.

They do qualify all this with the fact that this does not “prove” how search engines rank websites. But websites with these factors present, in general, rank higher than those without them.

So take a look at what they found:

  1. Of All Attributes Studied, This One Was Found to Be More Closely Associated with Search Rankings than Any Other…

And again, in 2015, links have a stronger relationship with higher rankings than any other search ranking factor. They’ve held this position for several years now. But these days, Google’s pickier about the links pointing to your site than ever before.

They have to come from high-quality sites, can’t have over-optimized texts, should come from as many unique domains as possible, and they have to look like they were placed naturally.

  1. Isn’t Content Supposed to Be “King?”

Marketing experts think so. In fact, in terms of how influential content is for your rankings, they ranked it #3, just behind two different kinds of linking.

So in the opinion of professionals, content is important. But, the correlational study doesn’t even discuss content all that much.

What it does say is that content length has a moderate association with good rankings. So it’s important to discuss interesting information, but you don’t need to be an encyclopedia.

  1. On-Page Optimization Has a Low Correlation with Rankings

This doesn’t mean on-page optimization isn’t important. You still need to get your target keyphrases on your pages 2-6 times. What it does mean, though, is you don’t need to spam the living daylights out of your keywords to rank high.

Moz theorizes this is because Google’s more adept these days at understanding what web pages mean.

  1. Social Shares Are Good, But May Not Help Your Rankings Directly

Moz notes that this factor remains “controversial.” They’re not convinced Google’s algorithm uses social share counts, but their study shows a positive correlation between social shares and good search rankings.

This may be because social media helps spread awareness of your content, leading to more links.

  1. And You Have a Strong Chance of Getting a Penalty If You Do These Things!

Okay, so these things get kind of geeky and harder to understand. But, you should be aware of them. Definitely don’t do them:

  • Don’t have a high ratio of ad content, navigation content, or links compared to total page content
  • Don’t have pages with a high number of links relative to your page’s total content
  • Don’t have a high amount of visible text relative to total html/JavaScript code
  • Don’t get a large number of total spam flags
  • Don’t have a large number of external links in your sidebars and footers

And That’s a Wrap!

Wow, that was a lot of great SEO information from a company with an awesome reputation for accuracy and reliability. Check those things often so you keep the king of search happy!

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Google Changes on the Horizon for Home Service Providers
18/08/15 SEO

Google Changes on the Horizon for Home Service Providers

This is just a quick report to help make you aware of the Google changes on the horizon, if you are a home service provider. And who knows what other licensed service providers this will roll out for next. I am not going to spin the news right here and now, so to get the details see these two articles on Search Engine Land’s website:

  1. Google To Launch Search Service To Connect Searchers To Home Service Providers
  2. Google Home Services Ads For Locksmiths, Plumbers Hit San Francisco Market

If you Google “San Francisco Plumber” you will see an example for this new Google offering being beta tested, or you can try using this link: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=san%20francisco%20plumber

Below Are My Preliminary Observations as an SEO

I only see the beta results on my laptop. Right now the results on my iPhone are the same results we are used to seeing. But, on my desktop there are no local map listings showing for any combo of search you do related to plumber with San Francisco? I’m not saying local listings are going away, but that I hope they aren’t. I know it’s just in the beta testing mode, so who knows but Google?

Many people don’t click on paid ads because they know they cost the companies money, or they just don’t trust them, but for whatever reason Google knows this. It appears to me as if Google might be doing this partially as a way to encourage higher click through rates on paid ads, thus increasing their revenue by styling them to look like map lisitngs. I heard a rumor two or three years ago from an ex-Google employee, who said they were eventually going to start charging for the first spot map positions exactly because of how many click throughs they get. Maybe this is what they came up with instead?

Notice it only says sponsored at the very top and not next to each paid ad like usual (see Dallas Plumber search results for comparison on a desktop). And they do look just like local listings for the most part to the untrained observer. Most people would not know any better. It’s hard to believe there will be both this style of paid ads and map listings together on the left hand side of the results page, and there sure aren’t any together in the beta testing examples, which I find odd. If they are keeping them why not include them in the beta test?

At any rate, I just felt like sharing my initial knee jerk reactions, right or wrong. Maybe this is the real reason they went to a 3 pack recently instead of a 7 pack.

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