2 Risks to Take and Avoid in 2019’s SEO Environment

 

As a business owner, you’re used to taking risks. You wouldn’t have gotten to where you are without doing things that make you uncomfortable.

Of course, you don’t take foolish risks. You learn as much about the possible paths ahead, and then take as much risk out of the options available so you maximize your chances of success.

Well, it’s no different with SEO.

Take a second to learn smart SEO risks to take and silly ones to avoid in 2019 and beyond:

  1. Take: Giving High-Quality Backlinks

If your website has hundreds of links pointing to you, but just a handful going back out, Google rewards you less than if you had a balance.

Why?

Google thinks reputable websites happily link out to other websites with equally strong (or stronger) reputations.

No optimal ratio exists.

Just make sure that you add links to quality websites in your niche which also help your visitors in some way.

  1. Avoid: Using Your Keywords in Your Links’ Anchor Text

It used to be that putting your keywords in the blue anchor text of your link would drive up your search rankings quite nicely.

And it also fits logic. You want your website to rank for certain search terms. So, you highlight those terms so Google knows what you want to rank for.

Alas, some no-good SEOs found methods to spam thousands of links with their exact anchor text across the web. They artificially drove their website to the top of the search results, which Google (and searchers) didn’t want.

So now Google penalizes this practice.

No one knows a precise ratio for this practice. But, general consensus holds you shouldn’t exceed 1-3% of the links pointing to your site having your exact keywords in their text.

  1. Take: Redesigning Your Website

Yes. This one carries significant risk if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s why it’s important to go with a designer who’s done this many times before and can prove they protected client search rankings.

With the right firm, you’re possibly in for a nice rankings boost.

Users expect a modern design on your website. They want an easy-to-use website. And there’s plenty of small SEO ins-and-outs that can be done in your design which affect your rankings.

With the right partner, this can be a big win for your SEO.

  1. Avoid: Using “Doorway Pages”

“Doorway pages” may target multiple cities or locations, but then link back to one specific page. They can result in multiple similar pages in the search results, which Google and web searchers don’t like.

You can create pages on your site which create relevancy for various cities and suburbs. After all, it’s important for searchers to know you offer your service in their location.

You’re okay as long as you don’t link and drive searchers back to a single final destination on your site.

“Doorway pages,” as they get used, actually offer little utility and typically spam keywords to get search visibility.Discussing the benefits of your product and service and highlighting why you’re different and better than the competition does provide value and won’t irk Google (or searchers).

So there you have it. Smart SEO risks to take. And foolish ones to avoid.

Which will you choose in 2019?

The Single Most Overlooked Key Ingredient to Online Marketing Success

 

SEO. Backlinks. Social media. Content. Keywords.

They’re all necessary for online marketing success.

But one strategy’s superior even to these.

…And most small businesses don’t know what it is.

Those things all listed before?

They’re tactics.

Anyone can do them. Everyone does them.

They make a difference.

But imagine you found a real game-changer. One special thing that completely blows your competition out of the water.

And when you find it, you have no problem attracting more business. In fact, you have to figure out how you’ll manage it all.

Is this some hypey clever marketing tactic?

Absolutely not.

It’s 100% legit.

…So what is it?

Why Differentiation Makes All the…Well…Difference

It’s rare you find one business that offers a certain product or service. Today, you always have more options than you can count on one hand. And sometimes, more than you can count on all your hands and feet.

What makes customers choose your company over another?

Personal service?

Well, yes.

But other companies offer that too.

Lower prices?

Again, yes, but it’s tough to provide a high-quality product or service at low prices unless you’re a massive corporation. And even then, it’s difficult.

Let Me Tell You an Amazing (And 100% True) Story To Show You How This Works

“Our beer is 100% pure!” yelled and screamed nearly every American beer company in the 1900s.

The company that won the advertising war usually had the most dollars to front to keep their market position.

That’s one way to win.

But what if you’re a small business and don’t have massive spending power?

Schlitz, at the time, ranked somewhere between 8th and 15th in beer sales in America.

And here’s the thing: consumers then had no clue what “pure” meant. So, they only bought from the company whose name they could most easily recognize.

Poor Schlitz typically wasn’t that company.

So they hired advertising legend Claude Hopkins. They were desperate.

He wanted to know what “pure” really meant. So he asked Schlitz to give him a tour of their facilities.

He saw 4,000-foot deep wells dug to provide the purest and cleanest water available then. Schlitz showed him the 1,200 experiments it took to produce their beer’s flavor.

Blown away, he asked,”Why don’t you tell consumers you do this?”

“Because every beer company does it,” Schlitz replied.

Hopkins had to convince Schlitz to let him talk about their processes and how they yielded “pure” beer. He argued it would work because no other company approached marketing the same way.

Consumers would finally understand what “pure” meant and how pure their beer really was.

That resulted in ads like this:

Within six months, Schlitz became the top selling American beer.

Consumers understood what pure meant and why they should care.

They thought Schlitz was different than all the others!

How Can You Be Truly Different?

Yes, marketing and advertising really work. They should produce measurable sales results.

And differentiation is the easiest way to get results.

So, how can you be truly different in your niche?

Why should customers do business with you, and no one else?

Find a persuasive answer to that question, and you get all the business you want.

How to Use Micro-Influencers to Gain Customers

 

You know the big-time influencers in your niche. They may have 100,000 social followers, and maybe even a million or more.

You know their name. Your co-workers know their name. Everyone knows their name.

You can’t doubt their status.

When you use the word “influencers,” that’s what most people think of.

Why Do Companies Care about Influencers So Much?

Today, they hold the key to lots of sales. And those sales come fast. They have a high level of trust with their audience, and when they tell them to buy something, their audience doesn’t hesitate.

But big-time influencers can be difficult to reach. Everyone wants to have a business relationship with them. And since they have such a high level of trust with their audience, they’re highly selective about what they recommend to them.

So, it can be nearly impossible to get through to big-time influencers on a consistent basis.

Instagram, in 2016, generated $570 million in sales through influencer marketing, for example.

So, Why Go After Micro-Influencers?

Because, they’re much easier to access, while still having a large enough audience (25,000 or less) in a focused niche that can drive serious sales.

Here’s how you might do that:

  1. Focus on Influencers Who Embody What Your Company Does

As you look at social media accounts, you’ll come across people who love to hike. If you sell products for outdoor enthusiasts who like hiking, you’ve found a natural connection.

Make sure they get a good amount of comments, likes, and shares when they post. That way, you know they have an engaged audience.

  1. Get Users to Generate Content for Your Campaign

Say you run a company that conducts tours. Pretty boring on the surface, right?

Yep. But not when you involve influencers.

For example, you might ask them to post pictures of the amazing sights they see on one of your tours. You could offer them a free tour in exchange for their honest feedback, for example.

User-generated content works so well because it comes across as more authentic. Compare that to a $100,000 photo shoot depicting a celebrity doing the same thing.

Which would you trust more?

  1. Sponsored posts

These are logistically easy. Simply reach out to the influencer, ask them to create a detailed content piece about your product, but only after they experience your product firsthand.

It’s important you don’t show you’re trying to influence their opinion. You want their honest feedback…and not positive feedback just because they get their product for free.

Even if that feedback ends up not being positive, at least you learn how to improve your product to fit your market’s needs.

As you can see, building relationships with micro-influencers doesn’t need to be difficult. Just make sure you take time to qualify each one first.

Do they seem to be the perfect fit for your product?

Do they have an engaged audience?

If so, reach out. It could be just the spark your business needs to catch fire.

5 Quick Tips on Creating Ads That Drive Sales

How many ads do you get bombarded by on a daily basis? Can you even count? And these days, websites want to send push notifications too. Your Android smartphone offers suggested notifications from Google.

It’s impossible to really get away from advertising. So what makes internet ads work?

Here are several things:

Consistent Messaging Throughout the Customer Journey

What are all the steps your customer has to take before they make a purchase? Their journey may look something like this:

  1. Do a Google search
  2. See a PPC ad and click on it
  3. Arrive at a landing page
  4. Click on a specific product to learn more

You don’t have to use exactly the same title throughout. In fact, you shouldn’t. Because that puts your potential customers to sleep. But you do want to use some of the same words and phrases so they know they’re getting what they clicked for.

Segment

Your audience has multiple segments. Segmentation sounds like a ton of work at first. But it doesn’t have to be. You could segment by geography just to start.

Anyway, when you segment, you get higher conversion rates. So, that should be enough to motivate you to at least do some basic segmentation.

Use Remarketing/Retargeting

Ever notice the ads that “follow” you around the web? Those websites participate in Google’s retargeting program.

You may think that this would bore users or cause them to not want to see your ad. However, this tactic’s been proven over and over again to raise your conversion rates.

Put a Big Benefit Front and Center

Don’t make false or exaggerated promises. Then, you’re “overpromising and underdelivering.”

Give your customers a big potential benefit in every ad and step in their customer journey. Make it realistic, and then overdeliver with your product or service.

If you’re not seeing the CTR you want, A/B test variations of your ads, changing just 1-2 words to improve clarity.

Understand How Your Audience Views Colors

Believe it or not, a large part of your market’s purchase decision is made based on color. Say you sell a financial service or investing guide. Green, the color of money, would be a good color for that audience. You may also try black, which is majestic and royal. Or, maybe you use a dominant green with black as a supporting color.

What if you tried pink? Well, people associate that with Valentine’s Day, women, or breast cancer awareness. So you’d really confuse your market if you went that route.

Color means different things to different markets. So try to understand what color means to your audience, and use meaningful colors to them.

Apply these tips, and you’ll notice better conversion rates in your internet advertising.

 

 

‎Google Releases “Smart Bidding” To Set the Ideal Bid for Each PPC Ad

 

Google makes the overwhelming majority of its revenue from its Adwords PPC advertising. No other revenue stream even comes close.

So of course, they’ll pay the most attention to it out of all their various services. They have investors watching their earnings, and they don’t want to report those earnings aren’t meeting expectations. That could cause their stock price to fall which would cost Google billions.

With That in Mind, Google’s Introduced “Maximize Conversions” to Adwords

What is “Maximize Conversions?” It uses smart bidding to automatically set the right bid for each PPC ad auction.

…But doesn’t that sound a little fishy? Google, who has a substantial financial interest in seeing you spend more, will automatically set how much you bid?

Now, of course it’s in their interest to give you good results for the money you invest. Because, if you don’t, you won’t keep spending with Google. You might move over to Bing.

But then again, Google stands to profit. And research has found it generally costs you more for the same results than Bing.

So what’s the reality? Should you use this feature? Should you insist your internet marketing company use it?

Let’s find out.

One Agency Generally Experiences Positive Results…With a Small Catch

Seer Interactive does its fair share of Adwords campaigns. The decided to put this “Maximize Conversions” feature to the test. And this is what they found:

  1. In 85% of their tests, clients experience better results with Maximize Conversions
  2. During the first two weeks of the campaign, results got worse while Google learned what to do. However, results improved during the final two weeks, ending up in a net gain.
  3. No patterns existed by client or industry type. They concluded you need to test for yourself to see what happens.

Google also notes that decking company Trex experienced a 73% increase in conversions with the new feature, while also getting a 42% decrease in cost-per-acquisition. And interestingly, Trex was a customer of Seer Interactive at the time.

Test and Be Careful

Google’s likely somehow making more money off this “Maximize Conversions” feature. But initially, it looks like they’re helping you improve your results too (in most cases).

So consider asking your SEO company to test the feature. But do understand, that while it’s likely you’ll experience positive results, there’s no guarantee.

New Google “Fred” Update Rocks SEO World

Well, Google’s finally started stop picking on animals with its updates.

One of Google’s current spokesmen jokingly called the new update “Fred.” And he said he’ll continue to call all future updates the same name also.

What Does Google “Fred” Do?

No one’s positive yet. All everyone knows is that on February 7th, many websites saw a noticeable change in their traffic. As always, some rejoiced with great gains. Others threw their arms up in the air in anger after experiencing massive losses.

Current speculation from Search Engine Roundtable believes the update more carefully examines the quality of your links. It’s still early yet, and others think the update may look at the quality of your content also.

But, at this point, the strongest argument is for link quality. That’s because the Black Hat SEO forums are the most active with debate. Black Hat SEOs tend to use links to manipulate their way up the search rankings (versus creating and promoting quality content). And that of course exposes them to this risk.

Now that they’re getting burned by it, they’re not too happy.

What To Do about This Update

If you’ve already been hit by this update, your business will hurt for a while. Sorry, but that’s the honest-to-goodness truth.

If you noticed a big drop in traffic in your analytics on February 7th, or shortly after, you likely got nailed by it.

The first thing to do would be to talk with your SEO company. If you’ve had multiple SEO companies over the past several years, then you’ve got a real mess on your hands. You don’t know who’s responsible. So, talk to your current SEO company to see what they say and how you should proceed. You may have to decide whether to terminate your relationship with your current SEO company.

The good news is you can recover. There’s three things you can do:

  1. Work on making a Disavow request, which is where you ask Google to ignore certain links pointing to your site. It’s a fair amount of work that you should leave to your SEO company. Moz offers a spectacular guide for how this works if you want to learn about it.
  2. If you got a manual notification of a penalty you’ll have to do the Disavow work, plus possible other work to get back in Google’s good graces. Again, you’ll need an ethical SEO company to do this for you. Then, you submit a reconsideration request once you believe you’ve done all the work necessary to clean up your SEO.
  3. You need to keep creating interesting and unique content. This attracts quality white-hat links to you. And that keeps you safe in Google’s search results.

If this penalty hit you, sorry to hear that. But, just know that while it may hurt your business, it’s far from the end of the road for you.