SEO has become a dirty buzzword: Industry cowboys practicing “black hat” tactics to draw traffic to websites have made sure of that. Dodgy link schemes, paid for advertorials and keyword spamming used to be the order of the day to gain quick victories. But Google has become infinitely more intelligent at picking up on these scams and they will be met with harsh penalties and Google position drops… meaning your business could disappear over night if you employ these methods.
These days, content is the key: An active and informative blog, descriptive product listings and an easy to navigate site is rewarded with ranking increases. The playing field has been leveled online. No matter how big a company is, they are all judged by the same rules so you can start out in the same industry as a giant and given time, catch up with their online rankings, simply by doing it legitimately and inline with Google’s guidelines. You just need to keep working at it. Never stop!
In the beginning it’s hard slog: Writing blogs when you’re not used to doing so, gaining followers on social media and building up an decent audience who actively engage with you and support what you do… but the strange thing is that this gets easier and easier the more work you put in. You’ll find that your first few hundred ‘likes’ on Facebook were hard to gain, but suddenly people are choosing to add you… the same goes for Twitter. Blogs were difficult but now they flow much more easily and suddenly people are willingly sharing your articles on social media.
Slowly but surely your rankings for Keyterms on Google are increasing and it feels like you don’t have to put in quite as much effort as you once did. This is the ‘Snowball Effect’ of Online Marketing: All the effort in those early days is paying off and now you’ve established yourself as a bit of an authority in your field of work.
This informative video by Ran Fishkin of MOZ (Formerly SEO MOZ – See even they avoid the term ‘SEO’!) explains brilliantly how the snowball effect works. He terms it the ‘Flywheel Effect’ but it’s basically the same thing. In short: they more you do, the more you will be rewarded! It’s actually pretty simple. Set a realistic expectation and work towards it. The more blogs you write, the more there is for Search Engines to index. The more you post and interact with people on Social media, the bigger your captive audience and your reach, hence the bigger the chance of making a sale or gaining an enquiry!
An ‘SEO’ checklist for organic traffic:
• Make sure everything works as it should: A well-working site, free from errors, easy to navigate and pleasing for visitors to use is a great start. It is expected by the user that this will be the case.
• Quality Content: Remember that you are writing for people, not the Search Engines. (No keyword cramming!) This relates to blogs / news and page content on your site.
• Great product listings and and accurate description of services: Concise and easy to read descriptions that convey your product or service.
• Branding: Remember that you need to be seen as a brand online. Whether it be yourself or your products. think about what makes you different and why should people use your service of buy your product. Be unique.
• Become an authority: Set up Google Authorship and Blog about the subject you know that is relevant to what you do. This sets signposts for Google to find you and the key terms it ranks you for.
• Social media: Create interesting posts and interact with people. Create loyalty with your followers. Build your audience. Don’t just post special offers or deals you have… ensure you talk to people and show you are a real person. People buy from people and you need an online identity that shows there is a genuine person or persons behind the business.
• Keep your foot on the accelerator: Keep blogging and posting on social media. When you see ranking results, don’t stop… take positivity from that and keep up the good work!
• Set realistic goals: Don’t expect to rank number 1 for your key terms on Google within a month or even a few months. It takes time, so expect to start ranking in 3 months to a year if you work hard.
• The more you do, the easier it gets: Over time, all the hard work pays off. Suddenly you are an authority because people have read your blogs and found your posts interesting. People are more willing to share your content and help your SEO They won’t be doing it to help you necessarily but because they find your articles interesting or because they have built up a loyalty and like your what you post.
A ‘PPC’ checklist for Paid Ads:
• Set Up Google Analytics: It’s vital that you track every online sale or enquiry to be able to read the data. I cannot stress enough how important this is to keeping your campaign a success. Learn from the data and amend accordingly. If you can’t see what’s working then how can you improve things?
• Manage your expectations: If it is a new campaign then it takes time to get it right. Chances are there will be a lot of expensive broad terms in the beginning that will cost you money and see no immediate return… but every miss-click is vital to moving your campaign forwards. It gives you the data to improve the campaign and back the terms that do convert with your budget rather than waste money the ones that do not.
• Spend more: It sounds crazy throwing money at a campaign in the early days that is not converting but trust me: you will spend the same amount to get the vital data whether it’s over a few months or a few weeks. You need that data and the more you spend the quicker you can learn and refine your campaign so the quicker you will see a Return of Investment.
• Negative Keywords: Don’t be afraid to kill off the terms that are not making you money. If something is not working then change it. This frees up budget to spend on the terms that do make money.
• Constant refinement: At no point should you say: “Right, this campaign is as good as it can be!” – Keep at it… what about re-marketing ads? What about display ads? How can we keep making more money from what you’re spending? Can we try different text to make it more appealing? Constant refinement and tuning will always be needed to squeeze results from every penny spent.
• Try new things: Once you’ve established yourself with Google Ads, try re-investing in new campaigns. maybe new product lines or services. Expand your business so if people stop looking for something you offer online then you have back up plans in place with other products or services.
• Ad Quality Scores will Snowball: The more effort you put in to your campaign, the better the campaign as a whole will fair. Google can see that you are tweaking and refining your ads and as your advert quality builds, you will find the campaign as whole is improving. Cost Per Click will go down and Average Position will go up. Google rewards you for making the effort!
There was a time when people thought that having a website was a fast track to making money. They had an idea or a product to sell and their next step was to create, or get a web designer to create a website that they thought would be an instant way of making money. Sadly this is not the case. Like anything, you have to let people know you exist online.
It’s hard at first but if you stick with it and do it properly then you’ll find that you’re suddenly doing better than ever: More retweets of your statuses and blogs, more shares of your posts.. good quality social signals for Google to assess and informative, quality content from your blog to help you rank online. This is the Snowball effect in action. The more effort you put in the easier it becomes.
The same effect will happen with Google Adwords: Tuning your campaign and constant improvement will show Google that you are a contender. You should see your Cost per click drop and you Average position overall increase as Google sees your campaign Quality Score improve.
It’s obvious when you think about it: Effort yields results. The more you do online, the more return you see. Whether it be more visitors to your site, more people buying or enquiring or simply more followers on social media. Keep up the effort and watch the snowball effect happen… It gets easier. It really does!