Ranking Factors 2017 report from SEMRush

What’s new in SEO? 5 actions to do today

Last week I got the latest research on SEO from trusted brand SEM Rush.  You can download and read their report Ranking Factors 2017 in SEO.

Ranking Factors 2017 report from SEMRush

Ranking Factors 2017 report from SEMRush

Creative Agency Secrets has read the whole report and below are 5 SEO tasks you can initiate immediately for your own website or ecommerce store.

The report has a number of chapters each of which is followed by “What this means to you as a marketer”  Read these pages for the SEMRush interpretation of their research findings.

5 SEO actions for 2017

  1. Check you have a secure (https) website.  Get a SSL Certificate installed if your url begins http://. See Secure websites below
  2. Find websites which can link back to you.  Clients, Suppliers, News / Magazines, Directories.  See Referring Domains below
  3. Get ideas for your SEO and your content creation from Answer the Public research tool
  4. Use more keywords on your “cornerstone” content pages.  See Keywords below.
  5. Plan the visitor pathway through your site especially with a view to reducing bounce rate.

The Detailed insights

Note these are paraphrased from the SEMRush report including some verbatim quotes.  All the ACTION FOR YOU tasks are recommendations by us for your website or ecommerce store. The page numbers are the actual page number in the report NOT the number top RHS.

If you want help, Creative Agency Secrets offers 2 services – we can do it for you; we can teach you how to do it yourself.

  1. Secure websites – page 6.  The higher the page position in search, the higher the keyword search volume most sites are secure https domains.  We interpret this that websites with SSL are trusted and are gaining over plain www and http sites.
  2. Referring domains – page 10. The pages that rank higher have more backlinks from unique domains. Websites that appear on SERPs for high-volume keywords have significantly more backlinks than ones that appear for low-volume keywords — almost 10 times more.  ACTION FOR YOU the competition for high-volume keywords is vicious, and those websites are invincible. But for low-volume keywords the competition is not so tough, so some link building could bring tremendous results.
  3. Content length – page 18. What we saw first was that there is generally more content on the pages that rank higher for all search volume intervals.  There is more content on the pages with long-tail keywords than on those with short-head keywords. ACTION FOR YOU  pick your “cornerstone” content pages and work them HARD for SEO goodness.  Content length is important for your page’s success as long as it is valuable, well-written, and optimised, especially if you target high volume keywords.
  4. Keywords – page 23.  In the high volume keyword group. the majority of the pages add a keyword to their title, meta and body copy but the occurrence of the keyword in the meta description does not influence the page rankings. Pages that rank for long-tail keywords repeat those keywords less often than pages that rank for short-head keywords. The pages on the first positions (for both longtails and short-heads) have noticeably more keywords than all other pages. ACTION FOR YOU If you plan to rank by long tail keywords, having an exact-match keyword in your on-page SEO elements is not crucial. In fact, it is more important to diversify the semantic core of your text and make it relevant to the target keyword rather than copying it.  The presence of a video didn’t show a significant influence on page rankings, so we came to the conclusion that video itself is not a silver bullet. However, in certain niches clients expect video content, so it makes sense to provide it. Consider your audience’s demands, and if they include visual support, use video.
  5. Volume of visitors – page 33.  Not a strong correlation to page rank here especially if your search phrases are low(er) volume searches. For the low-volume keyword group, the trend is flat, indicating that a page’s position does not strongly correlate with its number of total monthly visits. For high-volume popular keywords, the number of page visits gets noticeably smaller for sites that rank below the 12th position. ACTION FOR YOU this means organic search is not the only thing you should be concentrating on. Drive a strong traffic from direct and social media linked visits by pushing brand awareness on these platforms and also through newsletters.
  6. Bounce Rate – page 37.  The higher a page’s position is, the lower its bounce rate.  The user navigates through three to three-and-a-half pages per website, per visit. As your site moves towards the top of the SERP, there are more pages per session for every domain. ACTION FOR YOU firstly ensure you have strong internal page linking.  Think about what you want the visitor to do next on every page.  Connect with Cornerstone content discussed above.  Also analyse your rivals (How to compare my site to a competitor’s) Inside Google Analytics, check your queries performance and lastly, find low ranking pages for Bounce and improve them to reduce bounce rate and page rank.

 

Marketing offer, SEMRush, creative agency secrets,

SEMRush custom offer at the end of the report

And a cunning end-point which is a marketing “trick” I’ve used a lot for clients – on the very, very last page is an offer.  A really good one.  SEMRush will do a niche study for your industry if you write to ask.  We did (for a client) and they said they’d been overwhelmed and would put it on the list…. but still.  This is a fabulous reward for the people who do read all the way to the end.  #TopTip

Ready to rock with some improvements on your business SEO?  Let’s get started together!

local directories

Boost Your Business with Local Directories

Don’t let your business get lost in the crowd

Yellow pages directoriesIt’s that time of the year again where we remind you about the benefits of good ol’ directories! Before the internet, we relied on finding services through the big yellow brick of a book we received each year. Thanks to the world wide web, we now find them stuffed under uneven table legs or as a booster seat. Today we find what we’re looking for with a click of a button. Does your business stand out?

In 2016, Google took away the right-hand sidebar where the paid adverts were displayed. Now the paid posts soar straight to the top, making it a tough battle for smaller companies to get noticed. Directories can be a cost effective way to help get found via search engines. Being active on directories increases the chances of your business getting noticed.

Why updating your information is vital

yelp directoriesIt is important to keep your business updated in directories. If your business has gone through a recent change and you didn’t update your information, you could lose a lot of potential customers!

Never forget to NAP, this means not sleeping on the details. Make sure your Name, Address and Phone data is accurate and up to date. Location and accessibility are two of the most important factors when it comes to customers. If your telephone number is an old one and a customer can’t get through to you, they’re unlikely to try again. Likewise, if you were to put your address as a small town in South America, a New Zealand customer wouldn’t follow up with your business!

Pro tip: Check the directories your company is listed in and confirm your details are correct. Some websites take their information from others; resulting in a cycle of incorrect information.

Updated List of Directories

This year, we bring you an even bigger list of potential directories your business may be found in. Take a look to see where your business is listed and where it isn’t.

It’s the only thing standing in between you and your next big client.

NB: Not all directories will apply to every type of business, some are more specific to particular fields. (eg. Tripadvisor will benefit restaurants and hotels over a telecommunications company.)

Localist Yellow Hotfrog Finda Lawlink
Nzpages Zipleaf Gopher NZS Wand
Yelp BusinessMe NZDirectory Cylex EnrollBusiness
Kompass Bing Yahoo Zapmeta Zenbu
Foursquare NZBusinessDB Local Business Network Mapsconnect Beanhunter
Google Plus Tripadvisor TOMTOM Ratebeer Pathlegal
Factual TheFishSite 2FindLocal Spoke Company.fm
Salespider Tupalo Brownbook MarineDirectory ExpressBusinessDirectory
Where2go myhuckleberry NZ.wowcity Cybo Bedandbreakfast-pages
GetFave Lacartes TopDesignFirms YelloYello Bizexposed
Opendi MyWeddingGuide Find-us-here Finditonline Callupcontact
Hanging Gardens home page

Your home page is failing its purpose

I had to write to a client recently to tell them that their home page was failing.  It was not delivering value, it was not doing its job and was actively causing problems for the business.  And this made me realise that few businesses understand the job a home page does.

Hanging Gardens home page

Hanging Gardens home page

What should a good home page design do?

If you are an online shop, the home page has the job of showing the specials for the month or new product lines.  It is often a straightforward design to implement. 

If you are a software company, the home page is usually a sales page promoting and explaining your principal products.

But most business websites have a different challenge, especially those who do not sell by ecommerce.  They have had a website for a few years; they may have had a couple of redesigns and the business website has probably grown to tens, hundreds or thousands of pages over this period.  The priorities of the business shift over time and the website home page needs to support the new business goals and objectives. 

This throws up questions

  1. How often should I change my home page?
  2. Should the home page have all the information about the business?
  3. What should the home page prioritise?

The job of a website home page is to get the visitor to her destination in as few clicks as possible.

Why do visitors come?

Your entire website comprises a heap of different information, advice, products and services and a visitor may be interested in all, one or none of them.  So how can you guess what the latest web visitor wants? 

This is where intelligent home page design comes in. 

Home page as sign post

The principal task of the home page is to signpost the visitor FAST to where she wants to go.  So let’s work out what this means for your website.

Go to your web analytics account and find two reports created from your actual visitor traffic this year.  These are

a) the pages visitors went to on the site.  This shows which are the most popular

b) the search queries people typed into Google which had your website showing up in search results (this comes by linking Search Console to Google Analytics – here’s how to set it up).

Your job is to line up b) with a) so we get the maximum number of people coming to the site and getting quickly to the exact page they are looking for.

Designing for Destination

You now know the top two to five pages on your website (after the home page itself).  I’m going to offer some advice here which will help you brief your designer on the changes you need to make to your home page. 

Firstly – simplify the main menu.  Can you remove any of the top menu items?  Give the visitor as few choices as possible, stay focused on those top destination pages.  Can you reduce your menu to 5 options?  (Home, About, Contact Us plus 2 others?).  Can you remove sub-menus or drop-downs?  We advised Armour Safety to put icon images of their popular product groupings on a side menu; ordered by popularity.  Clicks followed immediately we made the change.

Secondly – highlight popular destination pages in the home page design.  Make it very obvious in the home page design elements what these are.  You can use images, boxes, icons, buttons, large text – all are useful devices to focus attention. By repeating these popular destinations in the home page design and the top menu, you increase the chances that the visitor will choose an already popular pathway.  Coxmate.com.au now does not show its products on the main menu – they send visitors direct to the shop which has its own home page and details all the categories.  Similarly, Apartment Specialists has 3 buttons on the home page, I’m Buying; I’m Selling and I want a Valuation.  All three are on their menu, but the buttons make it easier for visitors to quickly decide where to click.

Thirdly – you have to reinforce the already popular page destinations – this may sound counter-intuitive.  Don’t try and encourage traffic to pages that are not already popular i.e. double down your bets on the well-performing pages.  This is the 80:20 rule in action.  For the visitor who does want something unusual if they cannot find it from your menus, be sure to make it very clear how to get in touch to ask the question. 

So go check how your home page is performing in its duty as a sign post – and don’t be afraid to make changes iteratively – one small change at a time so you can measure the effect before altering other elements.

We use our 8 Step New Business Development process and each has a category – this blog post is related to Step 1 – State your Business.

Click on the icon to see more posts in that category.

8 step new business process. Step 1 Who are you?

This article first appeared in Marketing Online Magazine 

Only the digitally confused need attend!

No, I don’t want you to come to our event unless you qualify

On 27th September I’m speaking at a breakfast event. [ticket reservations below]

It’s about de-coding digital marketing for folks who are confused about how to do digital communications successfully.

Why am I doing the gig?

Despite digital being commonplace to me, it’s not that clear to everyone.

You may already be using some digital channels and be having some successes in bringing new revenues to your firm.  This event isn’t for you. 

This event is for the “digitally confused”. 

You know if this is you or not.  YOU qualify as being digitally confused if you’re unsure how to get good results from digital or online marketing.

My acquaintance, David Baker wrote to me this week and I want to quote him verbatim.

“An outside advisor like me comes into your firm and we bring several valuable things:

  • Perspective. It’s hard to see your own label when you’re in the jar.
  • Insight. There’s no need to reinvent the flat tyre over and over again.
  • Courage. Sometimes you just need a push. You need permission from just one more person.

I’d say that most of you should never hire an advisor and you’ll be just fine, thank you very much. You’d do a lot better if sometimes you thought less about the consequences and did what you know I’m going to tell you anyway!”

For the rest, let’s see you sign up to the breakfast on 27th September in the box below.

‘Nuff said.

P.S. And if you’re wondering why I wrote this – it’s to deliberately exclude people who would not benefit from the event.

Google Alerts

How to Use Google Alerts to Drive Business

Google alerts are an extremely useful resource for promoting your business online. First of all, if you aren’t using Google Alerts to track your business, you’re missing a seriously useful hack. They are particularly handy for staying up to date with relevant and timely information regarding your business, so you can react immediately to any publicity or news as soon as it happens.

But that’s not all Google Alerts are good for…

Google Alerts can also be used via RSS as a news aggregator on your website or blog! This is particularly useful for showing your visitors you know what is happening around you as well as demonstrating a position of authority with regards to your particular topic. Displaying the latest, relevant news results provides a great reason for your fans to continue returning to your site. Tailored, niche content is much easier to digest when it is a subject aligned with your own browsing interests. It may even help increase the likelihood of your visitors purchasing from you!

The best part about this is it can be totally automated, so you don’t have to spend time curating material. But make sure you have tested and refined your alert keywords in order to get the best results. Or, be sure to check the results from time to time in order to filter out anything that doesn’t fit with your brand.

We will be putting together a guide explaining how to get Google Alerts displaying as an RSS feed on your website shortly…

The next application for Google Alerts is a little more intricate: With a bit of research and a thorough understanding of your target market, you can even use Google Alerts to find new business!

Example: How to use Google Alerts to Generate Leads

Our client provides storage equipment solutions to the global rowing community. Although they can retro-fit single pieces of equipment inside an existing boathouse, their biggest projects come from clubs and organisations who have or are building brand new facilities. These new facilities obviously require a complete fit out of storage equipment and therefore, are our client’s ideal market. So how do you know when a new facility is built and looking for storage equipment? Timing is everything – if you find them too late, they may have already sourced a supplier and you’ll have missed the boat. Google Alerts provides the answer!

By setting up alerts with keywords such as “new rowing boathouse”, “rowing building new boathouse” and “new rowing club” for example, you get a nice summary of boathouse developments happening around the world.

Of course you have to continue your research beyond the alert itself to determine the lead’s value. Sometimes, results are completely irrelevant, and sometimes they are duplicates of material you have already covered. However, on the whole, they are incredibly useful at identifying future projects, as they are often newsworthy topics in their local area.

google alerts example creative agency secretsgoogle alerts example creative agency secrets

The next step is to track all your leads in a spreadsheet. Information such as who to contact and where they are located is particularly important. Additional research on the lead’s website often provides the necessary information to point you in the right direction.

In our client’s case, we were interested in contacting the architects of the boathouse, so that we could get involved with the club and their design process, as early as possible.

We have experienced great success building up a database of quality leads for our client in recent months. It is then up to our client to continue the dialogue with the prospective club and come to an arrangement. We have had a great deal of success converting these previously unknown prospects into happy customers, and have done so without investing hugely in advertising, outbound mailing campaigns or other conventional outbound marketing activities!

We have been able to minimise the time taken to research new sources of business through alerts and have increased the prevalence of new business, while making it easy to filter out results of no value. And as it updates you each time a new boathouse is being developed, you don’t waste time searching for them manually. A weekly check of your alerts inbox provides you with enough

Regardless of your industry or business, there’s bound to be a positive application to use Google Alerts for. Whether it is direct lead generation, building a database of bloggers and journalists to share content between, or even researching a network of businesses whose interests align neatly with your own, the uses for it go on and on.

YouTube accounts merge

Help! My YouTube Accounts Won’t Merge!

YouTube-logo-full_colorOne of our clients has recently taken to creating videos to showcase their products on the company website. This of course includes uploading the videos to their new YouTube account to help promote the company and the products they are selling. In doing so, they noticed the previous owner of the company had created a YouTube account with a similar name (a variation of the company name). With a decent chunk of views having stacked up on the old channel, our client wanted to know if it was possible to bring the two accounts together, since, they were essentially the same business anyway.

There were a few complications at this point: our client had contacted the previous owner of the company about getting the videos from the old channel. Unfortunately, the previous owner had not used the account for quite some time. He didn’t know what the password was and having since sold the business, his email address had been deleted, leaving his YouTube account hanging in a state of limbo, unable to be logged in and edited for future access.

As it turns out, not being able to access the account doesn’t affect the outcome – YouTube simply do not allow accounts to be merged for any reason. That’s right, if you have millions of views locked away in an account you can no longer access, too bad. They’re lost!

youtube-support-merge-accountsIf you were able get in to the account to grab the videos, the only way to get all of the videos on to the same account is by logging in, downloading the videos, and re-uploading them on the new channel. This resets the view count back to zero, erasing any clout you may have built up on the website with the older account.

Thankfully the videos in question were of lower quality, looked incredibly dated and the views weren’t substantial enough to cause any serious headaches.

The End Result?

Continue adding high quality content to the new channel, and ignore the old one.

A frustrating outcome, but a valuable lesson learned along the way.

How can you avoid YouTube account complications?

If you want to migrate videos from one channel to another, ensure you have the video file itself is saved somewhere other than YouTube, set the channel up right the first time, so that you do not need to create a second one and use an email address that is unlikely to expire (hint: Gmail is YouTube’s best friend). With these points in mind, you should be able to rescue any valuable content, but sadly you will have to forget about bringing them together and leveraging the success of the old videos to promote the new ones.

A frustration we must all  live with unless YouTube suddenly change their account settings. (Sigh).

14 test questions for inbound success

14 test questions for Inbound Success on your website

Hubspot founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan are the authors of Inbound Marketing, an insightful, short and easy-to-read guide to enhancing your website and thinking about it as a key tool in attracting clients. They compare their now-popular “inbound” techniques to the giants and show neophyte business owners how to improve their web presence, increase their sales and conversions, and how to do so in a short time on a small budget.

The book is full of bright ideas and pithy examples but I recently took the time to extract what I thought was a must-have list of tools and concepts any business owner, at any stage of a marketing plan, can learn from Halligan and Shah.

Time for a website audit?

It is quite common – and often essential to success – for us to offer a quick appraisal of a website’s performance before delving deeply into any action items or scoping any big campaigns.

If you want inbound success, here are the 14 questions you will want to ask yourself. I’ve written the explanatory answer to each question too because this is what Creative Agency Secrets can do for your website.  We know how to make your website work harder to achieve your goals.

Do you, or your website, do these?

1. Are your title tags designed for humans?

The <title> tag is an HTML element that doesn’t actually show on your webpage. It does, however, show in the top of your browser and, more importantly, it’s that blue clickable text in Google. Marketers used to load these up with keywords before Google got wise, and clever. These days the best thing you can do to succeed with inbound marketing is to make sure you’ve got human-readable title tags, that say what your business does (not who you are) in 70 characters or less.

2. Does your website pass a basic mobile-friendly check?

It doesn’t have to be perfect but it has to work. With something like ⅔ of website use now conducted on a mobile or tablet device, you’ve got to be ready. You don’t want your readers squinting to see your value-add! Make sure you pass a basic check and talk to your webmaster if you don’t. Not only will your readers thank you but Google will prioritise traffic to your website if you’re optimised for mobile.

3. Do you update your site regularly?

Ideally you run a blog, not at blogspot.com or wordpress.com, but on your domain name. You publish content a couple of times a month and you provide real value, not sales jargon, to your readers. Don’t know what to write? Become an authority in your field, comment on recent happenings in the news. If you’re on top of this already, ask yourself, do you have: onsite search, related articles, and buttons for readers to share your stories on the most relevant social media?

4. Do you have a sense of the core industry keywords and pages to match?

Often you’re so deep in your industry niche, product or service that you have your own language for talking about what you do. Yes, in part it’s your job to educate your prospects about that, but you also have to be found for those keywords they’re using to search. Get some basic research done on what people search for in your industry and write pages that speak to those searches.

5. Does your site load in about 3 seconds?

Try a test for yourself at Pingdom. We don’t all have fibre yet, and large loading speeds will put people off. If you’re a photo blog, or some other website that has a heavy number of assets to load with good reason, look into Cloudflare, and yes, they have a free plan.

6. Do you have a security certificate?

An SSL certificate confirms for the client that you are who you say you are and that they are reading and communicating securely with the genuine owner of the website. It prevents “phishing”, people pretending to be you to steal credit card numbers or email addresses, and confirms for the user that their personal data can’t be intercepted by a third party. In years past online credit card providers took away the hassle of having to pay for and install an SSL certificate each year, but now many providers have on-page solutions (meaning that the user doesn’t even leave your site to pay). Even if your payment solution is still off-site, you add reassurance by making the process seem secure to your user end-to-end. Finally, Google itself opted for a security-first approach, serves all its own content securely, and prioritises websites that themselves prioritise security.

7. Is your website ‘paired’ with its social media properties?

You probably already have a Twitter account, or a Facebook business page, or a YouTube channel, but have you told the world this is your official account, representing your business on this platform? Take a look at some guides to link your accounts: Google+, YouTube, Facebook & more.

8. Do you have a contact form?

You probably have an email or phone number on the website, and you might have tried a contact form only to find it got a lot of bogus submissions. But persist with the contact form. It allows you to collect and database your prospects much easier than you could do via email and it allows you to protect your personal email address from ending up on unwanted spam lists. Finally you can ask important questions of your prospects. E.g., are they contacting you for sales or support; are they interested in Widget W or Gizmo G?

9. Does your website have a call to action?

You want visitors, but once you get them you want to know for yourself what path you want them to take, or what actions you want them to take. These are your ‘goals’. Make sure you have clear buttons that direct your user to your goal: e.g., “Start a Free Trial”, “Sign up”, “Become a member”, “Check out our product range”, “See what our customers think”. Make it bold and clear, and remember, “Contact us” is one of the least effective calls to action, it requires too much commitment on behalf of the casual browser.

10. Do you do A/B (split) testing for important calls to action?

A/B testing is showing two or more groups of visitors two or more variations of page at random. This allows you to gather stats on which layout, button, wording or offer is the most effective.

11. Do you convert 15% of your visitors?

Conversion is the difference between a contact in your database or not; a sale or no sale. Do you keep track of how effective your marketing is and do you get three out of 20 people on your site to make some kind of commitment? Commitment doesn’t necessarily mean a sale, it could just be downloading a PDF or joining a newsletter.

12. Do you spend more time actively seeking new traffic than tweaking and changing?

The plumber’s sink is never fixed and the web marketer’s website is never perfect. But don’t let that worry you. A/B testing is great, it’s insightful and it’s important but you have to have someone to test it on. Make sure you’re spending 80% of your time on strategies to get new traffic and 20% of your time on what they see when they get to your site.

13. Do you regularly communicate with your prospects?

Once you’ve got traffic and you’ve got conversions you’ll need a way to communicate with them. That’s usually an email newsletter. People are used to hearing from their favourite brands, sometimes as regularly as weekly, but if you’re not communicating with your prospects at all you’re not building trust. Equally important is not alienating yourself from your clients. Put a face on a corporation. Send your emails from an address that’s personal, not a [email protected]-type address. Include your personal contact details in your email signature. You want your communications as natural as possible.

14. Do you have a reminder when someone leaves a purchase incomplete?

Over half of the checkouts on most industry-standard carts do not get completed. That is, someone puts a product in a basket, enters their email and name but not their payment information. When that happens, most good shopping carts will let you automate an email to the client, checking in to see how they’re going and why the payment was never made.

If you’re nodding along and answering yes, then you’re on track for a successful inbound marketing strategy. If not, give us a call and we’ll do a review of your website.

marketing manufacturer zero to hero

Case Study: zero to local hero for manufacturer

Auckland manufacturing firm, Cabjaks makes kitchen cabinets.  They worked with Creative Agency Secrets for 3 months to improve their keyword natural search results, SEM and on-site keyword SEO.

Cabjaks Manufacturing kitchen cabinets

Cabjaks Manufacturing kitchen cabinets

Summary of outcomes: Adwords results

In January when we started they sold a small amount of goods based on clicks from Adwords.
By March the revenues from Adwords clicks were up by 413%.
April is performing even better.

Cabjaks is becoming a strong brand on Google properties too

  • There have been 6 Five Star reviews in March (the previous one was September 2015).
  • We are now on page 6 of local search (up from 20+) and importantly a competitor is falling off the second page.
  • The YouTube optimisation has gained a 13% increase in views.
  • And Analytics confirms a 12% increase in website visitors over the past 30 days.

A “zero to hero” response in just three months demonstrates the success of our work with this manufacturing brand.

Learn How to Growth Hack your Website in May

Learn How to Growth Hack your Website in May

What it means to Growth Hack.

Growth Hacking is a new phrase meaning to aggressively make a step-change in business success.  It’s not just a cute phrase, there are specific techniques which can make significant improvements to website success.

You define success and we’ll teach you how to make it happen.

What is your #1 marketing and sales problem?

Get the answers about how you can growth hack your web success with USA experts Dan Morris and Rachel Martin during May 2016.

Face to face consult or small group workshops.

Email [email protected] with your #1 marketing and sales problem.

Rachel Martin website GrowthHacking expert

Rachel Martin website GrowthHacking expert