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spam pingl,

Referral traffic from Pingl is spam

I was checking the analytics on a client site and saw a referral from a website I did not recognise.  And so I investigated it.

referral traffic, analytics referral,

New referral site turns out to be spam

After typing in the reach-publisheral website address manually (I always do this in a new browser window), an automatic redirect came into effect and I ended up on Pingl.net [no, don’t follow that link please].

Black Hat SEO tactics

In the SEO world there are goodies and baddies…. and it’s a game of tension between the unscrupulous on one side and those who follow search engine websites’ guidelines on the other – refereed by Google and Bing.

Black Hat is the term given to tactics that are underhand and try to cheat the system.

White Hat is the opposite – those who work within the framework set by search engines.

Updates to search engine algorithms are usually driven by their desire to undermine black hat tactics.

After a quick search I found several other commentators had found referrals in their analytics also coming from Pingl.  This rings alarm bells.

Who is Pingl?

A set of clever Black-Hatters masquerading as authentic “growth hacking” tacticians.

They use a technique called notification referrer service which is basically a spam referral to your website.  By masking their site identity they make the link “appear” to come from another site – reach-publishinglo  in my case (but others report variants on Ali Baba).  This domain is setup with the sole purpose of sending you to pingl’s home page –  it refers you directly to them.

Although you may be getting a lot of referrals from the masked page, it is not real traffic, and it can ruin your SEO – notably your bounce rate.

How to overcome referrer spam

Create filters in your Analytics to remove this traffic from your results in two ways

  1. Campaign Source Filter – will stop all traffic from the source (pingl) site
  2. Campaign Referral Path Filter – will stop single web pages
  3. Languages Setting Filter – stops traffic from named languages (was useful for Russian spam in 2017)
semantic keywords, SEO, keyword indexing, natural search

Keyword tool tip for 2019

Happy new year everyone.  I’m loving being on summer break – but it doesn’t stop me researching and finding top new tools and ideas for digital marketing success.

Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords

Found this great site which can help you identify LSI keywords for your website SEO.

What are LSI keywords?

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are words that are commonly found together within a single topic and are semantically related to each other.

So they help you understand the connections and correlations between groups of words and phrases – so you can select good ones to use on your natural website SEO.

Testing LSI Keywords

I did a quick test for a client and found a list of over 10,000 [seriously, who needs that many?] to download.  The site asks you to list up to 10 “seed” words before it runs the analysis.

semantic keywords, SEO, keyword indexing, natural search

Latent Semantic Keywords

And then I reviewed the listings and found a lot of non-relevant words – so I refined the seed words to improve the outcome, downloaded and got my list.

Next step – back to the Google Analytics query to assess the current search results and revise / review and improve.

The Creative Store, recruitment, creative jobs, NZ creative industry, Creative store logo

What’s new in Search Engine Marketing 2018

What is new in SEM for business? Rebecca Caroe discusses the Wild West of agency service providers and how to avoid getting ripped off by a marketing firm.

Louise runs the Creative Store – a recruitment and placement agency specialising in the creative industries. This is her interview with Rebecca published in August 2018.  When starting our companies, Louise and Rebecca shared offices in the BizDojo and shared jokes about English sweets and beer!

Q. How do you define search engine marketing?

A. Anything you do for your business that gets it showing up in search results.  So this  can cover keyword SEO on your website, having a strong LinkedIn profile, guest articles, Slideshare presentations and advertising.The Creative Store, recruitment, creative jobs, NZ creative industry, Creative store logo

Q. Are many companies doing a terrible job of this?

A. It is my view that SEO service provision is a “wild west” there are a lot of cowboys.  This is not just a supply side problem, it’s also caused by clients who do not brief well, are not experienced buyers and have unrealistic expectations of what is possible.  We know that business owners come to our events because they want to learn.  Many tell anecdotes about past experiences which didn’t go well.  To challenge and counteract the wild west, I am part of a Facebook group called The Ethical Digital Marketing Community (EDMC) – you’re very welcome to join us, share and learn together.  I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers.

Q. How do you identify your clients?

A.  Our clients are businesses who sell to other businesses.  Many are new to marketing and do not have in-house staff with expertise.

Q. You can spot pretty quickly where they are going wrong

Normally, they aren’t going wrong – they are getting started.  For many, the part of their marketing which they notice is not performing is their website.  It’s not showing up in search, they aren’t getting inbound enquiries and competitors are more prominent.  We recommend they do a self-test using WooRank Checker or Hubspot Website Grader Tool and see what their website score out of 100 is.  That identifies many of the areas where they’re underperforming.

Q. If clients wish to engage you, is this on a retainer or do you do a sweep of their work for a charge?

A. We do both.  Unusually for an agency we are very happy to train and up-skill the client’s team and also work with existing agencies who they already have on retainer.  Our strategic leadership allows both to deliver better outcomes for the client – and that is always the end goal.  By having a clear strategy and goals we are able to brief agencies better, they work to a clear objective and the client trusts us both to get the results.  It’s a win-win-win scenario.

Q. You are hosting an exciting event with Blair Enns in October about this subject – how do you put a price on your work – what will we expect to see from this workshop?

A.  Blair is a world expert in how to win without pitching.  October is his first event on the topic of pricing creative work.  His thesis is that most creative firms under-price their skills and expertise.  And so he teaches “value pricing” where you learn how to price the client, not the job.  Watch Blair’s summary webinar and understand where you could improve http://pitchpack.co.nz/pricing-creativity-free-webinar/

Q. Who needs your services the most?

A.  Owner-managed businesses where the owners don’t know modern digital marketing and are too busy to do it themselves.

Q. Where is the future of SEM going?

A. Deeper and wider into ever more businesses.  Good SEM techniques are straightforward to apply to any business.  I summarise this into – State what you do, Answer questions clearly and Keep your focus on local or niche audiences.  Then repeat and improve. 

Q. Any helpful tips and hints to our clients on their SEM and simples fixes they could be applying?

A.  Sure – Three things.   1 do a website check and see what your score out of 100 is.  2 connect your Google Analytics and Search Console so you can see the queries driving your natural search traffic.  3 review where your last 10 new clients came from – was it referrals or web search or directories or public speaking or something else.  Then double down on what’s working and do more of it.

Q. Where to from here for Creative Agency Secrets

A. More collaborative relationships with other agencies and mutual clients.  I firmly believe that collaboration is an under-used business principle and it is working amazingly well for us.  Who doesn’t want to look good in front of the client?

3 Takeaway Tips: Building an SEO strategy for Living Goodness

Anyone should know that to establish a good online brand presence, you need a good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy. Keywords are a main part of that strategy – they’re more than just using the right tags to find relevant blog posts – they help boost your business’ search results so your website gets more traffic.

Last year, we helped Living Goodness develop an SEO strategy that saw them appear on the front page! And to top off the cake, it was also the first time that Living Goodness ranked higher than a competitor.

living goodness rankings

Seventh place! Not too shabby.

In this blog article, I’ll show you three key skills that we utilised for their SEO strategy, and show you how you can put them to work on your own business.

1. Identify which keywords you need

The keywords that you choose for your SEO strategy should fall into three categories:

  • Keywords you’re currently ranking for
  • Keywords you wish to rank for
  • Other relevant keywords you should also consider

For example, Living Goodness were ranking for “fermented foods nz” (though they appeared on the second page of search results). They wanted to rank higher for this search term, and also wished to show up for “sauerkraut nz”.

ranking for sauerkraut nz

Which we achieved, by the way.

We went on to conduct our own research to find relevant keywords that would complement these. A handy tool that we turned to is called Answer the Public.

This allowed us to see what users were also searching for alongside the terms “fermented foods nz” and “sauerkraut nz”. We picked up key phrases and words such as “probiotics”, “raw”, “organic” and “kimchi” alongside many more. This also gave us a good starting point for blog article ideas.

2. Incorporate these keywords into existing content

Now that we had a lovely list of keywords, we needed to disperse them around different landing pages in a natural manner. For SEO purposes, there were key points that needed keyword boosting:

  • Landing page headings
  • Links
  • First paragraphs of content

These were just a few places where we implemented keywords into the existing content in a manner that was natural and flowed. Being a business that sells fermented foods, this wasn’t a problem. We also made sure we used a mix of these keywords because no one likes repetition (especially not Google!).

3. Help out your visitors with handy internal linking

Keywords aren’t the only way to boost SEO. There are many things that affect search engine rankings, and relevance is a big contender. If people aren’t spending long enough on your website and are bouncing away quickly (tip: check the bounce rate in Google Analytics), it may very well mean they’re not finding what they are looking for on your website.

Internal links are a great way to boost SEO and retain website traffic. If you aren’t linking to your products whenever you mention them, it’s a huge opportunity wasted. You also want to encourage a longer customer journey by suggesting other pages that are relevant.

For Living Goodness, we added links to their stockists page and social media handles on the recipes pages. This call-to-action prompted visitors to seek the closest stockist after reading a delicious recipe – “Are you running low on delicious sauerkraut or kimchi? Check out your local stockist here.” The social media links also encouraged visitors to share any of the recipes they’d followed. Being a foodie Instagram account, any photos using a Living Goodness product was free user-generated content, and of course, we were going to make the most of it!

Three simple tips that you can do yourself

As you can see, these tips are all very simple, easy and free to do. Hopefully, you’re able to apply them to your website straight away.

All these were tasks that we did as part of our SEO Starter Pack. It’s a comprehensive analysis of a website with actions to improve SEO and a recommended guide for next steps.

Search Console and broken website links

Has Google been sending you emails recently?  If you are the webmaster for your domain, you will be getting messages from Google Search Console as they find new errors on your website.

Search Console email text alert

The newly helpful Search Console Reports are good to get.  This is all part of a rollout of improved reporting.  Now you can take control of your own website SEO and won’t have to rely on bespoke or paid developer tools which you don’t want to buy.

What does Google’s email say?

Typically the standard email you receive is not written in plain English – this is tech-speak.  Let us help you decode it.

New Index coverage issue detected for site https://www.yourdomain.com

The Google is trying to be helpful.   So click through from the link supplied and see what the Search Console summary error page says.  There are quite a few possible variations – but here are some of the possible issues [Read the Google Support page]

  • Error
  • Warning
  • Excluded
  • Valid

Helpfully Google offers suggestions on how to research the issue you can test if the Robots.txt file is blocking, you can fetch the page as if you are Google [superb trick this], View the page as a search result and lastly, re-submit to the Google database.

Don’t worry – this isn’t terminal

If you have received this message you can research some how-to guides, blast through the Support guide or call us and we will help you fix it.  Remember Creative Agency Secrets will teach you how to do these fixes yourself, or we can do them for you.

I just checked the error from one client and found a lot of other broken links – use a broken link checker tool to find your priority pages.  It’s worth getting these sorted out – you know “nanny knows best.

Landing page

Four Major Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make With Product Landing Pages

Landing page mistakes, avoid errors on wordpress,

Product landing page mistakes to avoid

Designing a landing page is no easy task. There are many moving parts to consider, including copywriting, design, social media, and CTA placement. And with so many decisions to make (both big and small), it’s no wonder that mistakes can easily occur. In many cases, business owners fail to take the proper precautions to ensure their landing page is up to par, both in terms of design and functionality. Sometimes, they even let simple mistakes slide.

However, because humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish, you need to be able to capture their interest almost instantaneously. Within just a few seconds, a potential customer will move on to the next best thing because of an error you may have thought was trivial. Here are five mistakes you don’t want to make with product landing pages:

Choosing The Wrong Platform

There are many platforms available, and choosing the right one is crucial. WordPress is touted as one of the best lead-generating landing page platforms because it’s simple to set up, and creative freedom is nearly endless. You can choose from thousands of free and premium themes, and even install plugins like Elementor to build your product landing page with drag-and-drop functionality.

Then, there are other platforms designed to help you launch simple product landing pages, like LeadPages (which offers WordPress integration), Unbounce, and Instapage. These may offer a quicker set-up but are typically very limited in terms of design.

Think about your site goals before you choose a platform. For example, if you want to be able to incorporate certain features, like immersive photo galleries, you will need a platform that supports it. Or, if you think you’ll be using an independent designer or developer in the future, go with a platform that allows you to scale in that direction. Budget is another thing to keep in mind. If you’re just starting out or still growing your customer base, you might want to start with a cheaper option, like WordPress, which you can get for as low as $10 per month. Other lead-capturing landing pages cost anywhere from $30 to $200 per month, and even as high as $2,400 for platforms like HubSpot.

Stock Photography

Believe it or not, in most cases, people don’t like to see stock photography on product landing pages. It might be okay for your blog posts, but it requires special consideration for your landing page. A study conducted by MDG Advertising found that 67% of online shoppers consider quality images to be an integral part of their decision-making when it comes to purchases. The more vivid and authentic a photo is, the more likely they were to perceive ownership.

For software, beautiful screenshots are the way to go, and it would be fine to juxtapose humans with your software imagery. Sometimes, stock photography is the easiest way to mesh the two, but you might also want to add a high-res photo of someone actually using the software to add that extra touch of authenticity.

If you do use humans in your photography (whether stock photos or you your own), bear in mind that studies have shown that site visitors tend to look in the direction of the eyes that belong to the person in the photo. Therefore, you’d ideally want to have the person looking in the direction of your text.

No Clear CTA

Before you start working on your landing page, ask yourself, “What’s my main goal here?” One of the biggest mistakes people make with landing pages is cluttering it with too many options for the visitor. For example, it can be overwhelming to visit a landing page that wants you to read articles, sign up for a newsletter, purchase your newest product, watch a video, AND request a quote.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t have multiple points-of-purchase or ways to appeal to your potential customers. Instead, you should have a core goal that stands out above the rest, rather than blends in. Think about the singular action you want your visitor to take: this is called the call-to-action (CTA). Your call to action should be decently-sized, stand out, and be placed in the right area to attract the most attention. Use split testing software to help you choose between different types of CTA. This will help you choose the option that converts best.

Too Much Copy

Having too much copy on your landing page can be fatal. As previously mentioned, most people don’t have a very long attention span, and every small decision about your copy–from size to typography to color and word count–plays an important role. Too many words create information overload and dilutes the message you’re trying to get across.

Keep your sentences and paragraphs short and concise. Try to avoid using one of the pages to dominate the text. It’s best not to align left or right when you’re working on landing pages. Instead, you want to spread bite-sized bits of copy across the page evenly. You want your copy to be as scannable as possible, and clunky paragraphs make it very difficult to achieve this. For optimal results, try breaking up the text by using well-designed icons, mini-paragraphs, bullet points, color-coordinated sub-sections.

 

website traffic drop

“Why is my website traffic dropping?”

For any business using its website as a lead generation tool, traffic is essential. The more visitors you get, the more chances you have to make your product or service known, gain connections and promote your brand. This is why an unexpected decline in organic traffic is a terrifying idea, as it might result in fewer business opportunities and less income.

Whether it’s a technical problem, a new Google algorithm implementation or lack of content optimisation, there are several possible motives why your company’s website traffic numbers have been sinking lately.

For example, older websites have higher risks of being penalised by Google’s algorithm updates because of potential coding errors and obsolete practices still applied to some of the pages. That ‘keyword stuffed’ article you wrote in 2010 that brought a lot of traffic seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, it is definitely hurting your website on an apocalyptic scale.

Content is (a mad) king

We recently had a meeting with a group of young entrepreneurs who run MI6-HQ.com, a fansite dedicated to Bond, James Bond. (cue the music)

They expressed their concern with the MI6-HQ website traffic dropping like a stone over the past months and wanted our help to:

  1. Assess the possible reasons for the decline in visits;
  2. Come up with a few creative ideas to solve the problem, like a marketing version of Q.

Even though they offer really good articles (many visitors had lots of nice things to say on their Facebook comments), their search engine rankings and organic reach keep decreasing. There are multiple marketers that repeatedly state just writing “epic content” will drive traffic to any website, period. Unfortunately, that’s not the truth.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that good content is essential. But if you publish it in a flawed website, you’ll have your king residing in a crumbling castle. That inspires no recognition at all and the results are totally unpredictable.

Google has a license to kill your audience

Google holds more than 74% of the search engine market share worldwide. That’s why you either play by their rules or fall into the internet abyss (a.k.a. Not the first page on Google Search).

We believe part of the decline in the MI6-HQ search rankings is that their website has been running for over 20 years (!!!) and most of their ‘ancient’ content might not have been updated regularly. A quick search (on Google, of course) shows that MI6-HQ.com has 15,500 indexed pages. It’s probably really hard to keep tabs on all of them individually.

mi6-hq indexed pages on google

Optimising websites is not a one-size-fits-all process. When it comes to web content that is already published, you have the option to improve or kill pages forever. In this specific case, deleting some of the older articles might be an alternative. Having fewer discoverable pages to increase your website findability can sound very counterintuitive, but I assure you, it works wonders for some people. Learning to let go is necessary sometimes.

Analysing your website performance is a laborious but rewarding task

There’s a lot of work involved in optimising your website. You might even say it’s a never-ending task, depending on your level of perfectionism. Nowadays, the competition online is cutthroat, so any edge you have over your competitors is worth the effort.

According to research by Moz blog, more than 70% of searches result in a page one organic click. The rest is diluted from the second page onwards. This just shows how important it is to aim for the top place of the search engine rankings.

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?