We Review a Service Business Website

We pitched a client – we didn’t win.  And so I decided to show you all how we assessed their website in scoping out the work that is needed to improve the search engine optimisation for this company.

They offer a local service and have two principal products.

First impressions of the website

Hubspot, website assessment, website grader

Free appraisal offer for your website

Go to the Woorank checker or Website Grader tool on Hubspot.
Find out how your current site performs.  Both give you a score out of 100.  Easy to see your score.
This site scores 53 out of 100.  Definitely in the could-do-better group.

Summary areas for improvement

  1. Both the named services should be in your meta description
  2. The Headings structure needs adjusting so it includes H1 as well as H3 (currently all 4 are H2 which is not good)
  3. Change the SSL certificate from BlueHost to your own business name
  4. Incoming links are low – so we’d recommend getting local directory listings to improve this (there are 36 free ones)
  5. You should be on Google My Business as well because that will enable Reviews and a location pin to appear when people search

Improve website messaging

I think there’s some other places where a bit of clearer marketing communication could help
  • Strapline.  The name of the business does not describe what you do [I also provide sensational services – but of a different type]
  • Pearl Waterless is a strong point of difference for one of the services – but you don’t EXPLAIN it.
  • Plus it’s a “Green” product and you could be selling the environmental benefits.
  • One service page does not have any heading titles, it doesn’t have any testimonials and it doesn’t explain that you offer a mobile service
  • The other service page has a gigantic photo and doesn’t explain the service in detail compared to the other service page.  They should be similar – consistency matters.
  • You have a Facebook page but there’s no link to it on the site.  42 people have shared your website onto Facebook – but you aren’t tracking links like this.
  • Have you got any customer testimonials?
  • Have you got any photos of your ACTUAL Team doing the work?
  • Any funny stories to tell about your jobs? What about the Facebook photos you share – the team celebration – could these go on a blog on the website too?

Why would you change?

What’s important here is that the website owner sees a rapid return on investment for his marketing spend.
The areas where I believe we can show a quick ROI are the services descriptors and aligning them to search phrases, pulling out the points of difference.  And then making it super-easy for the site visitor to get in touch by phone.   That rapidly increases enquiries, the business owner feels his spend is justified.  Later we can get more sophisticated.
And so if you would like us to improve the SEO and re-write some of the pages, go to our shop and buy our SEO Starter Pack and then come into the office and we’ll prioritise, get started and tick off all these things for you.

Can you tell when you’ve found the right business in search?

I was searching for a music streaming service for classical music.  But I got the name wrong.

I knew I had not found the right business in my search results when I clicked through to the best result, and found this website design (top image).  Realising my mistake, I quickly revised my search (by spelling the business name correctly) and was directed to the second page – where I knew I’d arrived at the site I wanted.

You can see how I worked out my error, through the image design, layout and styling.  It’s dated and not mobile responsive.  Styled as 2000s versus 2017.

Now imagine if that actually WAS the correct result and it was the business I wanted.  What first impression is your website giving to first time visitors?

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
Sumo logo and header

An Open Letter to Sumo.com

Dear Globally Successful Technology Business Owner,

Sumo logo and header

Sumo.com logo and header

I am delighted that you have successfully bought a new domain for your business sumo.com and are seeking to transfer the strong SEO from SumoMe.com to the new domain.

Tough job.

Your marketing coordinator wrote to me with a list of URLs on my site which are pointing to the old domain. I understand how much easier it will be for you to regain Search Engine first page results if these are redirected to the new domain.

She asked “do us a huge favor” to change the hyperlinks and to “change any mentions of SumoMe to Sumo“.

This is actually a lot of work on my website.

So I wrote back

Dear Nxxxxx, This is a big ask. May I suggest you offer us something to compensate us for our time? Maybe two free months of usage?

Waiting for a response…. since April 7th, 2017.

Lots of love

Rebecca (Pissed off business owner)

Marketing Rant coming up…

It does NOT have to be like this.

Be innovative with how you ask for Testimonials [or other favours]. How about offering a charity donation, an internship, some free consulting with your experts…. so many choices and so little cost to the business.

I am sick and tired of corporations taking advantage of their hapless customers and when the ONE TIME that I have some influence over the situation – they expect me to roll over and act dumb.

What would you do?

PS. No, none of the links are active – so the lady doesn’t have to do more SEO work to resolve the redirects [free little joke from me there!]

seo for growth

SEO for Growth: Unleash the Potential of Your Website

What does it take to generate leads for your business?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is about making search engines like Google and Bing show your website in the first positions of the results page. With more businesses utilising digital channels for business, it’s necessary to invest in your SEO strategy to remain competitive. If your audience can’t immediately find you online, you are severely inhibiting both growth and profitability.

“SEO isn’t the icing on the cake, it’s baked in from the start.” – Brian Clark, CEO of Copyblogger

On Thursday 25th of May, you can learn the skills needed to generate leads for your business through SEO in less than two hours. You will learn how SEO sits in the broader context of your marketing and brand building. This will help to increase the visibility of your website, all through simple tips and tricks that you will learn over breakfast.

Creative Agency Secrets and ColabNZ host this FREE training breakfast to demystify SEO and show what you need to know about modern SEO that works for your business.

Eventbrite - SEO for Growth: Unleash the Potential of Your Website

In this seminar you will learn:

  • Why 99% of Websites Fail – your site’s ranking potential
  • How to Build Stronger Website SEO – the balance between design and SEO
  • Link Building Today: the Dos and Don’ts – quality, relevance, trust and authority
  • How to Manage Your Brand’s Reputation and Reviews – from content to credibility to conversion
  • How to Feed Your Optimised Website – the tools you need to dominate

What previous attendees had to say:

“I was wanting to go to get educated and was interested to hear how the Google algorithms have changed over time and what they’re doing now. Building stronger websites and optimising them stands out as something new for me.”

Jeff Watkins, Director of BrandMedia

“I’m a complete SEO novice so I got a better understanding of what SEO means and how I can apply it to my business. It gave me a platform to make some decisions around the business.”

Rebecca Churchill, Director of Electric Fish

“The breakfast seminar was interesting, informative and full of useful tips and tools – so much so that I was inspired to put some of it into action as soon as I got back to work!”

Anna Radford, Co-Founder of Cadence Communications

Key Information

When: Thursday 25th May, 2017 at 7:30am – 9am

Where: ColabNZ HQ, 46 Albert Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010

seo for growth book

 

You can also purchase along with your ticket a copy of the book “SEO For Growth” by John Jantsch, published in October 2016, and collect it in the event.

This book is a manual for modern SEO so there’s no need to be intimidated by online marketing. It is the perfect guide to help you learn how to use the internet successfully for sales growth.

Join us on Thursday, May 25th, 2017 at 7:30 am for a morning of SEO enlightenment.

 

bad linkedin, location obscure, fake profile

Do Consumers Need to Know Where Our Business is Located?

Today’s always-on global world could make your business location seem to be an irrelevancy.  But the opposite is true.  Local marketing is now the fastest-growing part of online marketing specialisms.  And it matters.  Let me explain.

So here are 3 examples for you to use when considering international website domains. 

Feel local but act global

A client asked “We operate in Australia and New Zealand and not sure whether our NZ target market (women 25+) will find our Australian connection appealing or a turn off, given how very passionate and patriotic us Kiwis are! I’m getting mixed messages when I ask around.

We don’t want to hide our Australian connection, as it’s very important and where the business was born, with a fascinating story behind it, just not sure whether to include “Australia” and “New Zealand” optional buttons on the landing page to split off there, or if it should perhaps only appear as an option when you need to click on “events” or “locations” etc. that have information relevant only for each country?” 

What should she do?

My advice is to use a single web domain as the master site for both countries and then to have separate pages for the two locations. Here’s why.

Aussies versus Kiwis – Broadly they are correct, New Zealanders want to think they’re seeing local information (and importantly local currency and phone numbers) and of course small differences in language and rugby club orientation may also come through in brand communications over time.  Do Australians eat afghan biscuits?  Do Kiwis eat chiko rolls?

Your Website Strategy

Ultimately the solution you choose MUST be driven by the strategy for each country.  Is the website a place where people find out about you, get news on specials and what’s new, will they email you, will they phone you?  If yes, then the website must facilitate separate information for each site.

Set the strategy for the website first, then worry about the technical implementation.

Take a look at this case study of some work we did for a client who needed his visitors to quickly split up into pages best aligned with their needs. 

apartment specialists website redesign

Driving visitors to the right landing page focuses traffic

A strategic solution

The home page says what the business brand is all about – the owners, your values and passions.

Then you have a “What’s On NZ”  and a separate “What’s on AU” button that take visitors to what is effectively a home page for that location……

I would treat the NZ page effectively as your local domain and give it a really simple URL and so all links to the New Zealand business go there first.

An alternative to this location split is to have parallel websites which have slightly different domains e.g. nz.yourwebsite.com and au.yourwebsite.com   You often see this device used by international law firms and accountants.  This can be set up by your web hosts.

In practice this means few visitors go to the home page…. but that doesn’t really matter as long as local audiences are being served.

A poorly executed country strategyPerth-or-Thailand

By contrast, we got approached by a Perth business asking to do some content marketing with us.

They sounded like a good prospect and we fixed a phone call.  I rang, answerphone with an English man’s voice…. so I looked him up on LinkedIn and it turns out the business name is BusinessName (Thailand) Co.  Which rang a few alarm bells.

And his stated location was Manchester, UK.  Clearly a disconnect.

When we spoke he said although their phones were VOIP and used Australian numbers; he was actually based in Thailand and he couldn’t make outbound calls to international numbers like mine in New Zealand.  As any Aussie or Kiwi business will tell you, it’s extremely odd not to be able to phone the other country while doing business.

Now let’s look at a third scenario

Nimbus Portal Solutions are a client and they trade in five jurisdictions – Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, USA and South Africa plus “Global” to pick up the rest of the world.  

Their chosen solution to the website location question is to locally identify the IP address of the visitor and to quietly re-set the website version to the domain best suited.  So my default goes to NZ.  You can check this top right in their website where a country name displays. 

The main goal for Nimbus is to ensure all the currencies are local and bank account / trading entities switch to match.  Which is important for their business as jurisdiction for secure document storage matters – borders and locations of server hosting are aligned to the local country to stay within data protection laws.

In summary – set the website goal first and the supporting strategy will then drive the solution which works best for your situation.

This article first appeared in Marketing Online Magazine

SEO Case Study

SEO Case Study: From Second Page to Second Place in Two Weeks

Google now processes over 3.5 billion searches per day, every single day. No wonder 10 out of 10 businesses want only one thing: to appear on the first results page for keywords related to their industry. This kind of visibility is the promise of a tonne of organic traffic, new leads and sales.

In this case study, you’re going to see how we used SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to push a client’s website from the second page of Google to the second position on the first page, for the desired keyword in the whole of New Zealand.

What’s the real benefit of being on the first page of a Google search?

Well, I’m glad you asked. According to data from the Moz blog, “71.33% of searches result in a page one organic click. Page two and three get only 5.59% of the clicks.”. That means if your website is not ranking on the first page, you lose almost 3/4 of the audience. Imagine you have the opportunity to pitch your business to 10 new clients and, as soon you enter the meeting room, 7 of them just stand up and leave, without you saying even a single word.

Very frustrating.blun

Have a clear goal in mind

Our client, Baucher Consulting, a specialist tax advisor office in Auckland, wanted to increase the amount of relevant traffic on their website, consequently resulting in more queries for their services. We discussed this necessity and defined the solution to be, primarily, an improved effort on on-page SEO. After researching on the Google Keyword Tool for specific keywords pertinent to the client’s industry and services, we targeted the keyword “nz tax advisor”.

Google Keyword Planner

When you buy a desired product, sometimes going local is not a major concern, and ordering from overseas is commonly the case. But services, on the other hand, tend to be a lot more “geographically sensitive” for most of us. If I offered to buy you dinner tonight and asked you to choose a good restaurant, you would Google “best restaurants in [city you live in]“, right? You don’t go just “best restaurants”, because a suggestion in another country, let’s say, is not really helpful. I offered you a meal, not a plane ticket!

Mixing the prominent keyword tax advisor with some localisation as nz just covers the user’s natural behaviour when researching for professional services nearby. Besides, it also gave us a nice long tail keyword to work with.

What we did to improve the client’s website SEO, step by step

After a brief Google search, we discovered the client’s website was ranking in the 12th position for the targeted keyword. It’s not a bad position if you think about raw numbers. However, apart from all sponsored results, a standard Google search shows you only 10 organic results (unless you change this in the options panel). This result was leaving our client on the second page, the internet equivalent of a wasteland.  Luckily we’ve been working with this client for quite a while now, so just some fine tuning was needed on the website.

First, we included the long tail keyword as the “title tag” on the homepage, where we could previously see only “Baucher Consulting Limited”.

Baucher Consulting title tag on Google search

In other words, “title tag” is what shows on that big blue link beside the name of your website on  a search result. It is, in fact, blatantly obvious as a major part of the decision-making process for a person to click on your result or not. Also, we included the keywords in the meta description (the text below the website address on the image), while explaining the services more deeply.

However, working with a single keyword all over your website is not recommended as it can be interpreted as keyword stuffing. In Google’s own words, keyword stuffing can be defined as “repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural”. In the past, this practice was all the rage and several websites used this brute force technique to break through to the top positions. Google’s algorithm learned from it and is heavily penalising websites that still do that owing to the fact that it “results in a negative user experience”.

Having that in mind, we diversify the content all around the website using similar expressions to the “nz tax advisor” search query with the help of Google itself. And how do we know other keywords that are related to our search in the great oracle’s brain? Easy. Google spills the beans right in front of our eyes, just at the bottom of every search:

LSI keywords for NZ Tax Advisor

Noticed how we used the word “specialist” in that meta description I showed before? It came from these insightful suggestions. Also, “personal tax advice” is an amazing keyword to target in our current website copy.

The result of our changes

After only two weeks, we performed the same search on Google for “nz tax advisor” and got this result:

Baucher showing in 2nd position on Google search

Yeah, baby! Yeah!

 

A lot more SEO optimising to come

SEO can never be seen as an isolated project but a perpetual work in progress. The competition for the first places in search results is fierce. That’s why we still have more cards up our sleeve and a few optimisations aligned to Baucher’s website are still coming. Now that our client’s website made the jump from the 12th to the 2nd position on the Google search, there’s only one way we can go: straight to the top.