SEOdamian's Blog

Helping others understand & share about technology, search

Types of Traffic – It is all the same, right?

A customer is a customer is a customer, right?  No, there is the customer that asks 200 questions and buys your loss leader, returning it used and unresellable. There is the customer who comes in, asks can you ship 200 of your most profitable item? Oh, and can you autoship if they pay in advance for the next 5 years?  Who would you prefer more of?

Visitor traffic is similar, not all traffic is the same value to your organization today or tomorrow. There are different types of traffic to look at when trying to create a successful site.  There are different dimmensions of traffic – what type of traffic, what quality of traffic, what the cost it was to get the traffic and others. But lets just look at one dimension, where is the traffic coming from:

Referral Traffic

This is the traffic created by other sites referring / linking to your site, or your emails driving traffic to your site.  This is great ‘free’ traffic.  Referrals from other websites also supports your SEO traffic and rankings, because the search engines (SE) respect other sites sending traffic to your site. The more you are listed on other sites, the better your SE (search engine) ranking.  The more related the sites, the better your SE ranking. For example a site about guns referring to your site on trees is not as helpful as a referral from a site about arboretums referring to your tree site.

A way to quantify your ranking is to look at your Page Rank (named after Google Founder Larry Page). There are a number of tools including add-ons to your browser that will automatically let you know your PR (Page Rank) on a 0-8 (higher is better) score. Here is one – http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php

SEO – Seach Engine Optimization or Natural Traffic

This is the traffic that comes from your site ranking well in the search engines, and the traffic coming from others looking for answers to their searches.  The 1st key to creating this traffic is to create content that answers your visitors questions. The key here is to look at your site from the perspective of your visitors. What are they looking for? Not what do you want to tell them. You may shift the answers to be what you want to share, but 1st look at what would be the perfect answer to a visitor coming the site.

Of course, if you collect the most common questions you can create a FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions page or better yet section of pages (depending on your answers, it may be appropriate to have a single page for each question).  The challenge is to come up with the best answer to meet everyone’s needs. But like all good communications, allow the reader to choose how much they want to read by putting the most important/simplest information first. DO NOT follow the mystery novel format and keep the best for the last.

SEM – Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing is when you pay to get traffic to your site.  This can include a variety of different strategies such as:

  • Banner Ads on other sites – here you can pay per image shown (maybe or maybe not registered in the viewers mind), or per click thru to your site.
  • Email marketing like Constant Contact or iContact (a whole other post) to someone else’s email list (make sure you are not spamming) or to your own list.
  • Google AdWords (buying ads on the search engine)
  • Google AdSense (buying text ads on different websites) – this is an overlap of banner ads, but through the 600 pound gorilla Google that acts as the ad-man for you.
  • Ads on other search engines
This traffic can be very profitable or a total waste of money. The great part of this type of traffic is it is easier to test. Testing is a big part of what you need to do to be successful. Consider it the equivalent of practice in sports, music or dating.  You don’t expect to get it perfect the 1st time, and you need to keep improving as your competition keeps getting better.

LMT – Local market traffic

Local market traffic is when visitors are looking for the types of businesses and solutions that used to be  typically found in a yellow pages directory.  They are usually the local businesses like restaurants, and cleaners.  These are businesses that are not trying to market across the country, but only the local community. This traffic is in some ways easier to get, because there is less competition (only a few real estate agents in Downers Grove, compared to million in the whole country). You don’t have to rank higher than the real estate broker in Texas, if you are Wisconsin. But you need to have people looking for Wisconsin real estate.  That is where focus is important.  This also requires looking outside the ‘normal’ spots.  Don’t try to rank high in ‘real estate’ on the search engine.  Instead try to rank in ‘Bloomington real estate’ or even better ‘Bloomington vacation real estate’. But also look at other sites than the big 3 search engines.  Look at local sites like the different yellow pages or Yelp.com.

What kind of traffic you want will determine what kind of strategies you should follow.

SEO is more on content.

SEM is more on converting the visitorOf course you have to define what conversion is. It may be a sale. It may be a signup for a newsletter. It may be a request for a consultation and setting an appointment. Or it may be requesting a free report. You need to define what your conversion funnel is (most businesses have multiple conversions in the process of a lifetime of a customer.

LMT is about converting and getting them to call or use traditional business channels. That may be getting them to drive to your store. That may be getting them to call and set an appointment. It may still be just calling or emailing for a report or other trust building step.

Understand that just like traditional sales takes on average 7 touches to convert to a sale (after having built up enough trust), online channels can take multiple steps to build the trust required for your final conversion.  Make sure you design your website presence to convey that.

What about you? Take our long poll – 1 question –

March 15, 2012 Posted by | Definitions, How To, local marketing, SEO tools | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

KISS – Keep It Simple and Short

One of the best practices for website conversion also lines up (often) with better rankings on SRP (Search Results Page) – simple language, and good readability scores.

The issue is that once you get someone to your site it needs to be easy to read. There are exceptions, but how often are the buyers (of your product or ideas) really looking to work hard to understand what you have written? Of course Google is no genius either (although many that work there are). It is designed to look at your site as others without sophisticated degrees and high end language skills would look at your site. Of course, I am like many who like to slip into the shorthand of our vernacular and the jargon of each industry. But I do so at my own peril. And increasingly, at my own laziness. MS Word has had analysis of the reading level of your documents for at least a decade. But there are also online tools available as well. They are often for free, that are quick and easy to use.

Understand that the Wall Street Journal writes its content for 11th grade. Most novels are written at the 8th to 10th grade level (remember we had to read them in high school). However, take a look at most websites, they are written for graduate level. How many websites have you seen with humongous long words, utilizing complex sentence structures reminiscent of academic papers that put everyone to sleep (bad example intended)?

Here are a few based on a quick search (until I get back to finding the best in class):

In fact, the readability of a website is important enough that Google will allow you to control what sites you see in the results based on reading level in their advanced search options: http://www.google.com/advanced_search

Improved readability will also improve your site traffic in other ways – happier readers will recommend your site more often. Easy to read writing allows your content to be shared with a wider audience. Those that can understand more complex writing can still understand your simpler text, and those that don’t have 10 years of reading Shakespeare will also be included. It also makes it easier for all to read and digest quickly. Just because a lawyer can read complex writing in statutes does not mean he or she prefers to read tangled prose to learn about your ideas.

So simplify your writing and widen your audience.

If you don’t believe that readability can help your site, do a little test and then let me know the results in the comments section.

December 26, 2010 Posted by | copywriting, How To, tools | , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Ranked Well in Google, Where Are My Sales?

A client asked ‘I am ranked well on my keyword search term, but I am not getting many calls for my service – what gives?’

In the years of working with businesses even before the Internet, one of the biggest issue I have found, is that many businesses do not understand their solutions from their customers perspective. They look at their business from the supplier/seller side. They try to sell the best drill, forgetting that customers want to buy holes.  They sell the best shoes, forgetting that customers are buying a fun run, or how to win the marathon, or how to get a date. It has been a problem for so many businesses that 95% will never celebrate their 5th birthday  So how to translate this wisdom into Internet sales?

Create a more complete keyword list

Understand your ranking well may be in the wrong category. The customer IS searching for the right term, if you are not ranked well in that term it is your issue, not the customer’s. This is another place where the customer is always right. So a few questions and suggestions:

  • Make a list of all the different keyword search terms your perspective customers would be searching for you .
  • Then take some time, ask some friends and double your list of keyword phrases.
  • Now call your best 2 customers, ask them how they would search for your product or service.
  • Then feed it into Google’s keyword suggestion tool – https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

Now you have a list of keywords phrases. This usually is a much longer list than most businesses start with. This is part of what you hire experts for – to develop this list. The trend is to use longer phrases, as the shorter ones are usually more generic as each year passes. The short ones are more competitive, even if they get more traffic. But start with the longer ones, as they are usually easier to rank higher on, and also often incorporate the shorter phrases.

Now optimize each page of your site for a different phrase.

Are there any geographical indicators in your keyword phrases? If so, then think like your customers and consider that they consider themselves the center of the universe, not you and your business. They are probably searching from their home, not your business as the center. If your business is technically located in Warrenville, then cover the surrounding area. This is especially important if you are located in a suburban area where one town blends into the next town at the end of a strip mall and many customers many not even know where the town lines are. If you are in a larger city, don’t forget to refer to the city and the neighborhood names. Again focus on your customers location, more then yours. So optimize or add text that indicates you serve them –

Serving the Western DuPage lllinois area including: Lisle, Naperville, Warrenville, and Boilingbrook for dental patients like you for over 10 years. Supporting the Lisle Lions Football team and the Naperville Hockey Booster club.

Change this up on the different pages (but be truthful of course – lies will kill you more then poor rankings). You can put a tag line at the bottom of each page, you can have different descriptions in your description and TITLE tags, you can describe your location with ALT tags on the photos of your location, you can talk about your staff and the towns they live in. All of these help Google and your clients understand that your business is in their neighborhood.

Of course you need to optimize your titles to include your keyword search phrases in a way that attracts your customers to want to click on your site. If you were looking at these page titles on a Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page), which would you click on?

  • About Us
  • About Joe’s Lawn Service
  • Joe’s Lawn Service
  • Joe’s Lawn, Kingwood
  • Kingwood TX’s best Lawn and Garden Maintenance service keeping your yard sharp, and your pocket book full since 1998.

Who are you more interested in considering – you or your customers?

Once you have these in place, make sure you have Google Analytics or some way to measure your traffic to determine if the problem is – not enough people getting to your site, or not enough people taking action on your site. Without numbers, it becomes very easy to solve the wrong problem. Especially if the real problem is harder to solve.

December 2, 2009 Posted by | Community, copywriting, local marketing, SEO tools, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judge a (web) Page By It’s Title?

The TITLE tag is one of the most important part of any webpage. That is what tells your browser to put up at the top of the screen between the BluE and ‘- Internet Explorer’ or the Firefox logo and ‘-Mozilla Firefox’ or after the compass in Apple Safari . It is even in a distinct color from the rest of the browser.  This is what gets listed in the tabs of your browser to help your visitor get back to your site while switching between the others sites competing for your attention. The TITLE tag is also a trusted part of what Google determines your webpage is about.

But most importantly, this is the underlined, Bold and Blue text that shows up in Google’s’ results page (SERP) – This is where you get to 1st sell your potiential visitor that they need to click on the link and come visit YOU!  This text is your best chance to get a person to decide what that your site will meet their desires better then the 9 or 99 other pages listed next to it. This is where if you fail, it is pretty clear it is your fault for not meeting the needs of your potiental visitor.

So how to get your potential visitor to choose you?

  1. Don’t waste it.  Don’t use ‘generic’ titles that are written from the perspective of the website – Home, About, Contact. There are 4.2, 4.1, 2.6 Billion pages you are competing against respectively compared to 436 Million for Fire, or 126 Million for Pizza (95% easier to rank at the top of).
  2. Don’t be too specific. If people are searching for your business name – ‘Smith’s Itailan Bar and Grill’, then use that. But usually they are not, they are searching for a restaurant.  You potential customer probably does not know he is looking for you specifically, but what solution as a good or service that you provide. List that good or service from the customers perspective. If they know your restaurant’s name, they are a different kind of prospect. They deserve a separate page with ‘their’ own Title. That may well be the ‘Contact page’.
  3. Don’t be too general, there are 327 Million restaurants sites listed on Google. Of course they are all over the world, and all types of quality and cost. Some of the sites are not even about specific restaurants, but related to restaurants – including goods and services for restaurants. If your customers are looking for you, they won’t be looking for your vendors selling your restaurant cleaning supplies. Typically this is where you want to get geographical – Naperville Restaurant limits the selection to 1.7 million pages. Again, another reduction by 95% in competition. But you may need to limit yourself down some more – Naperville Pizza Restaurant – cuts the pages down to 63,000 – again cutting your competition by another 95%. Balancing 2 and 3 can be a challenge – the key is to look at how your visitor will look for you. The perspective is from your visitor’s search box, not from your business or web design
  4. Sell your site.  This is where the advertising industry earned their living for decades. How to write quick headlines that attracted you to read their ad further, in a short compelling fashion. If you had the following titles which would you click on:
  • Joe’s Bar And Grill, Downers Grove
  • Downers Grove’s restaurant for dining-Joe’s Bar and Grill
  • Downers Grove’s best restaurant for casual dining-Joe’s Bar and Grill with nightly chicken dinner specials ranked by Zagat’s review

The third one tells a story like any good headline should, while at the same time giving the search engine the information it needs to place it well for your visitors search terms on Google.

Now that you are on the right track on how to craft a TITLE tag, perform some searches from a visitors perspective for your site. Look at the different Titles and see what catches your eye as well as what communicates that the page is what you are looking for. Search similar topics on Google and Bing to see how effective Title tags are constructed.  Take some time to learn what is most effective at drawing you to click on a link. This will help you learn how others are looking at your Title tag.

When you are crafting your Title tag, take some time and even consider soliciting some feedback as to what best attracts someone to your site.

Once you have crafted your Title tag to meet these criteria, consider testing – try different titles every 2-4 weeks and see what creates the most traffic based on your Google Analytics (free) or whatever tool you use to track your sites traffic.

How did you craft your Title tags and what did you learn along the way?

October 23, 2009 Posted by | How To, HTML Issue, SEO tools, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment