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!

WooRank Website Test Tool

How to test your website is working effectively

May I show you a little insider secret from the world of web marketing?  It’s called a website rank check tool.  It shows you a score out of 100 for how well your website is built, secured and how well it delivers marketing engagement.

My favourite one is the WooRank tool – I have it installed in the toolbar of my Chrome browser.  But you can use this website or the HubSpot Website Grader Tool does a similar job – but from behind a registration paywall.

We use this when testing SEO on a website for clients.  But you can do it yourself – we’ll show you how.

A case study Central Flowers

WooRank Website Test Tool

WooRank Website Test Tool

I read a lot of newsletters and when I got one from a printer and web design company, I clicked through to their gushing review of their team’s work building a website for their customer.  So I decided to do an independent check on the website.  It scored 52.3/100.  Hardly a rip-roaring success for a new site.

You can see the result here and it demonstrates two things

  1. The web team are only designing for HUMAN visitors, not SEARCH ROBOTS
  2. The client is not expert in hiring and buying expertise.

First things first.  The web team should know about these issues

  • Headings should be in a hierarchy (they choose to only use H1)
  • Three image Alt attributes missing (so search engines can’t index the image and link back)
  • No anchor text in several external links (except the one going to the web design company)
  • No language declared (so the search engines know it’s English)
  • No blog – so the web rankings won’t become good because the site won’t get regularly updated (this is a failure of marketing strategy more than web design)
  • Secure (SSL) website but registered to a different domain (a property management company)
  • Automatic Copyright update to the correct year (it’s 2016 on the site)

These are hygiene factors.  They show up the lack of quality control by both the developers and to a lesser extent by the client.

The #1 mistake business owners make when buying a new website

The mistake is to buy a pretty design layout.  This is made by a designer.

What you need for an effective website is web development made by a web developer as well.  This sets up the effective tools and structures which humans cannot see from a website front end.  But robots and web search engines CAN see.  And now you can too.

Go and test your website using the Hubspot or WooRank tools now.  And send me the results.

Book in a 20 minute call and we will tell you what can be easily improved and how you can do it yourself (yes, really – most of these improvements do not require web development expertise, only editing in your CMS).

Or just buy the book.

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. 😞

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.

SEO Tools

7 Tools to Improve Your SEO

Improving the SEO for your business is very important. When potential customers search for your products and services you obviously want to appear as high in the search engine rankings as possible. In order to do so, your SEO has to be better than your competitors. Google and other search engines will rank what they think is relevant to what is searched for. Therefore, you have to make sure Google thinks your business is relevant to rank. The higher ranking you get on Google, the more likely you will be to drive more traffic to your website. So, what do you do and where do you start?

BrightLocal’s 7 SEO tools

BrightLocal is a company that specializes in SEO tools that help businesses grow through the effective use of search marketing. Today, BrightLocal have more than 20,000 customers worldwide using their 7 SEO tools.

1. Local Search Rank Checker

The first tool is the Local Search Rank Checker. It tracks your ranking on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo and it covers both organic and local search rankings. You have the opportunity to set up this tool to run a report automatically every month or week and you can compare your result to previous reports. Decide what settings will work best for your business. Finally, the report is also available for you to download. Keep track on your ranking and make sure it goes up!

2. Local SEO Check-up

The Local SEO Check-up tool provides a fast and comprehensive audit of a business’ local SEO set-up. It’s a complete local SEO audit tool that runs more than 300 automatic SEO checks. It enables you to speed up your SEO audits and it only takes 5 minutes to set up! You get a clear and accurate report within 15 minutes which you can share directly with clients and prospects. The things this tool checks includes: inbound links, domain authority, your presence on the most important local directories, social media, and Google Places.

3. Google+ Local Wizard

You use Google+ Local Wizard to quickly analyze you Google+ optimization and benchmark your business against your top 10 local competitors. You can also see your ranking on Google+ for your key terms.

4. CitationTracker

CitationTracker is a tool that helps you find, track and manage your local citations. A citation is a listing for your business on a third party site, for example; on a review site like Yelp. By using this tool you will get help with your citations in four different ways. It will help you find existing citations, locate old and incorrect citations, spy on your competitors citations and track the change you make to your current citations. You can also find new citations by locating your top 5 competitors and list your business on the same site!

5. CitationBurst

The CitationBurst tool helps you if you don’t want to go through the labours of manual citation building yourself. CitationBurst will do it for you! It gives you the chance to submit to multiple directories at one time and help to generate listings on local, general and niche directory sites. Pick what sites you want to submit to and CitationBurst will complete the submissions for you within 14 days.

6. ReviewFlow

What ReviewFlow does is that it locates and monitors online reviews on important directories and reviews sites. Using this tool makes it possible to find existing reviews and track all new reviews you receive. ReviewFlow keeps track on all major review sites such as Google+, Yelp and Tripadvisor. By collecting reviews from all sites the report makes it easier for you to read and comment your reviews. You can schedule the report to update monthly, weekly or even daily.

7. ReviewBiz

The final tool is ReviewBiz. It gives you the opportunity of adding a ReviewBiz badge to your website. Create and customize your button and copy paste the code onto your website. By doing that, your clients can easily click-through to a review site of your choice to read and add reviews about your business. Positive reviews will boost your local ranking!

SEO Tools

Image credit: pixabay.com