New Aberdeen Group Research Highlights Website Management Problems

You’ve heard us discuss best practices for websites before. But, it’s been some time since we’ve done so. And these standards change over time.

Aberdeen Group recently released its research and findings on website management. And we’d like to share some of those with you here.

So let’s dive right in.

Why Care About Your Website’s Performance Anyway?

You know it’s important to offer the best presentation you can for your visitors. What difference does that actually make?

Aberdeen found companies who make a consistent effort at improving their websites for their uses are:

  • 4x more likely to have more online sales and revenue
  • 2x more likely to have lesser website downtime
  • 45% more likely to have a greater insight into performance problems

By the way, if you want to read the whole report, you can find it here.

The Average Patience of the Typical Website Visitor

You’ve heard the stat that most visitors leave your website in just seconds. What’s the reality on that?

According to Aberdeen, 20% of mobile websites report users start leaving their site after just 2 seconds. After 3 seconds, this jumps to 40%.

What Smart Companies Do

When you’re first building your website, your priority is ranking and attracting traffic. That traffic gives you data, so you can understand how people use your website, and what they like and don’t like.

At the beginning, you of course create the best experience possible at that point. But, you realize your website will need changes on an ongoing basis to adapt to preferences in your market.

What do sharp companies do to continue to meet their market’s needs?

Here are some things:

  1. Analyze Visitor Conversion Paths

Google Analytics gives you a report called “Users Flow.” You can find it under “Reporting à Audience à Users Flow.”

You’ll see an image like this:

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This report shows where users enter your website, and then the path of pages they follow. It’s huge for understanding how people use your website, and where they leave. Then you can figure out what to do at points where they leave to increase their on-site time.

  1. Heat Maps

Heat maps show similar data to the Google “Users Flow” you just learned about. However, they help you understand exactly how a visitor uses a certain page in greater depth. They show you exactly what the user clicks on in a certain page.

Check out this one:

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Image Credit: Conversion XL

The red indicates the areas of most frequent clicking. This data helps you understand how to build your pages for the best user experience, and possible elements to eliminate.

Those are a couple things forward-thinking companies do to make their websites most useful for their users. You can get as scientific as you want, and it does make a big difference in your sales once you have consistent traffic.

SEO: Not Just Another Marketing Tactic, But a Central Focus

Early on, about a decade ago when SEO really started to become its own marketing discipline, it didn’t

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gain legitimacy in marketing. Sure, it was another tactic you could use. However, there were many more you could employ to bring in business.

This attitude was generally held by both sophisticated B2B marketing companies and small and local businesses. TV, radio, flyers, the Yellow Pages, newspaper ads – there was an abundance of marketing tactics available that still worked.

Today, you can still use all of those tactics. But, marketing’s morphed to where SEO should really be the focal point of all your efforts. And we’re not just saying this because we’re a “SEO company.”

It’s the way things now work.

Let us explain more about why:

  1. Consumers and B2B Buyers Simply Don’t Use Other Methods for Finding Businesses Like They Used To

When you think about it, TV isn’t the main way information spreads anymore. It can still work for larger brands. But, people go to the web now.

Newspapers barely get read. Flyers can still work. So can direct mail. Radio commercials happen too fast and people forget the information. No one reads the Yellow Pages. Billboards are forgotten.

Not that any of these can’t be part of your marketing strategy anymore. But, the web’s so convenient and widely used that all these other avenues have lost much of their potency.

  1. Everyone Goes Online First to Get What They Need

Millennials, many of whom do not know life without an internet connection, are now turning 34. There’s around 75 million Millennials, and they’re now entering their prime earning years. As consumers, they prefer to navigate the web to get what they want.

Many C-level execs, when they need a product or service, assign their Millennial staff to do research for them. Older generations, of course, are quite used to the connected world, and how it works, too.

SEO Must be the Central Focus of Any Marketing Strategy

Today, many businesses, local and national, still minimize the importance of SEO in their marketing. They view it as just another tactic, rather than the central hub of all their marketing.

You don’t have a choice in this anymore. Your customers, no matter who they are, want to get to know more about you online. You can certainly use other tactics too. But, SEO must remain central to your marketing efforts.

Top 5 Types of Blog Posts to Produce to Engage Your Customer

Have you heard the term “content saturation?”Working at home

These days, it refers to the fact that some niches are bloated with content. You hear the same basic ideas from everyone.

Some niches are “highly saturated.” For example, any commodity service like HVAC, law, anything medical, home care, and many others, have a glut of content available on every topic.

Standing out in any of those niches, and many others, is hard.

Here’s some types of blog posts you may consider creating to grab attention today:

  1. Opinion Posts

These posts are a great way to attract a following, and especially so if you are in B2B. They take a lot of courage because most people are afraid to stand up and say something different.

However, because (as you learned) so many people say the same old thing on their websites, having an opinion that respectfully dissents is a great way to attract attention. The one downside to this type of post is it takes deep industry knowledge or extensive research to create.

  1. Industry News

You likely won’t have the luxury of being the first to learn about an exciting news break. However, you can be the one who stays in touch with those sources and reports on the latest news to your readership.

Add in your opinion on the matters reported, and you have a nice recipe for success.

  1. List Posts

You see these all the time: “9 Tips To…” But even list posts are saturating the web. So, to stand out, you have to go above and beyond the conventional list post. You may have “27 Tips for…” or “52 Tricks on…”

Again, being different gets attention.

  1. Case Study/Customer Success Story

These don’t get used as much at the smaller business level, but they should. A “case study” is simply where you tell the story of your customer’s problem and how you solved it.

Doesn’t sound like much at first. However, case studies are the most powerful way to earn trust and credibility from your customers so they’re ready to buy.

  1. Expert Advice

For this one, you can conduct brief email interviews. However, you can also just grab brief 2-3 sentence snippets that experts have discussed on their own blogs. Compile a bunch of those quotes into a single post on your own blog, and you suddenly have a very nice post with original content.

Just make sure you give a link to each expert. And, let each of them know about your post too, which could result in some traffic coming back to your blog.

Most Companies Do What’s Quick and Easy On Their Blogs…

And that’s the problem. Running a blog that mesmerizes your readers takes a lot of time and hard work these days. You can no longer get by on content written in your spare time.

You can please Google and maintain your search rankings. But, if you really want to stand out and grab attention, you have to put in large amounts of hard work.

What to Do Immediately After a Google Algorithm Update

I'm stuck...On September 23rd, Google released the Penguin 4.0 real-time update. And not too much earlier than that, it also released Possum, which affected the Local 3-Pack.

Sometimes, you get a little forewarning of the next update. Other times, SEOs and webmasters notice a big shake-up in their rankings and find out about the changes as they happen.

In both cases, what should you do immediately following an update?

Here’s a general blueprint to keep in mind:

  1. Take a Deep Breath and Find Out How the Update Impacted You

Now, with the recent Possum update to the Local 3-Pack, some companies had their search result removed from it entirely. That means other companies got rewarded with those spots.

With Penguin, Google’s algorithm may have gotten the ability to penalize individual pages of your website, rather than your entire website. So, first see how the update impacted you.

Take some time also to learn what actually happened as a result of the update. Research credible SEO websites like Search Engine Land, Moz, and Search Engine Journal. That way, if you notice a dip in your rankings, you know why and what to do to recover.

  1. Have a Conversation with Your SEO

Now, if you’ve been having a SEO company or consultant doing white-hat work, you shouldn’t notice an overall dip in your rankings after a Google update of any kind. You might notice dips in individual pages and search terms here and there. But, you should notice a net gain.

Talk with your SEO and get their opinion on what’s going on and why. Ask what you can do to improve your rankings. Ask what they’re going to do in reaction to this update.

  1. Keep Up The Hard Work

In 2016 and beyond, maintaining a single website and growing your search rankings takes a large amount of hard work. It requires a small team of professionals.

You may assist with your SEO in some ways, and especially so through content. That’s because you’re the expert in your industry, and know it better than anyone on your SEO team.

Consistent production of unique and high-quality content will not only keep you safe in the search rankings, it will help you thrive. Your SEO team then takes care of the hard technical work like optimization and link-building.

It’s a recipe for success. And it’s the perfect reaction to any Google update.

New Google Penalty Means the End of Popups

Working on Laptop

In a rare case, Google recently announced an algorithmic penalty to be applied to websites on January 10, 2017. This time, they’re attempting to put an end to disruptive and annoying popups.

Note that this does not mean that it will put an end to all pop-ups. However, it will penalize websites for using the most obnoxious ones users like least.

Here’s the 3 types of popups, and the situations where Google says it will penalize website owners:

  1. Creating a popup that covers the main content immediately after the user arrives at your website or while they look through your page
  2. Displaying a standalone popup that you have to close out before you read the main content
  3. Using a website layout that looks similar to a popup above-the-fold, but the original content actually remains hidden beneath the popup

So basically, that puts an end to most popups that website visitors don’t like. It’s most common for solopreneur personality-based internet marketers to use them. However, you can also see these kinds of popups at big-name websites like Forbes and Inc.

What Does This Mean for Small Business Owners Like You?

Now, as a small business, you probably don’t care about this a ton from a business perspective. You probably don’t spend much time building your email list.

But you should.

Because it’s the best long-term source of leads you can get with digital marketing. In fact, it outperforms all other digital channels combined by nearly 600%.

Not too bad.

Why does email work so well?

Because you can be so direct and personal. Only your best customers even bother to join your list in the first place.

Then, you simply build the relationship over time by staying in touch and offering valuable information your prospects or customers can put to use. You extend some special offers now and then to get them to act and buy.

It’s a simple (though time-consuming) process, really. Plus, you don’t have to worry about any Google algorithm updates or penalties costing you all the names on your email list. It’s a good buffer against temporary changes in your search rankings.

If you don’t already, you should make building your email list part of your marketing strategy. It’s too valuable to pass up. And you can grow a good-sized list without using pop-ups.

Google to Divide Its Index to Improve the Search Experience for Mobile Users

 

Coffee and wireless freedomSomewhere around 60% of all searches now happen on mobile devices. Remember, while Google makes the rules on how search actually works, it also serves the market. And, it has to change with the shifts in the market so the market continues using Google. If it doesn’t, another search engine will take its place.

Fortunately for Google, they’re adept at meeting the demands of the marketplace. So, you probably won’t see it go away anytime soon.

They’re latest change involves dividing its index between mobile and desktop searches.

Why Is Google Doing This?

Currently, Google takes data from desktop content to formulate the mobile rankings. So, that leads to the search results being less than ideal for mobile users. In the coming months, reports Search Engine Land, Google will create and use a pure mobile search index.

The desktop index, which activates when you search from a desktop PC, won’t be as up-to-date. The benefit for Google is they can use their algorithm only to determine the mobile rankings, and users of course can get more relevant results for their mobile devices.

If You’re Not Already Optimized for Mobile Search, You Need to Be

At this point, no one can really point out the specifics of this update and how it might work. But, Google’s shown a clear trend towards improving the search results for its users. So, if you haven’t already optimized your website for mobile search, or if you haven’t analyzed your website for mobile search friendliness within the past year or two, it makes sense to give it a look.

Because, if you don’t, you risk a dent in your rankings. At a high level, here’s what you need to make sure your website ranks well in mobile search:

  1. A responsive design
  2. Only one version of your website, and not a desktop and mobile version
  3. Fast page load speed
  4. Large font size that’s easy to read – at least 16px
  5. Links and buttons easy for thumbs to press
  6. Avoid use of flash
  7. Videos that execute and display correctly
  8. Compress all images for smaller file sizes, without reducing image quality
  9. Avoid using pop-ups, even though they can be welcome for desktop users

If you follow those tips, you’ll do all right in mobile search.