How to Recover from Google’s “Medic” Algorithm Update

Did your site lose rankings and traffic in August and/or September?

Google rolled out an intense algorithm update.

And you might wonder what you should fix.

Well, here’s what Google’s Danny Sullivan had to say about it:

Doesn’t that seem like the world’s greatest non-answer?

What is this a guy? A politician?

So, you lose rankings and traffic…but you can’t do anything to fix it?

Believe it or not, Sullivan’s answer is a good one. And, it’s the right one.

Why No Specific Fix Will Restore Your Rankings and Traffic

When you try to find a specific fix…when you go down that mental avenue…here’s the problem:

you’re trying to please Google.

Yes. Pleasing Google is not what your website is all about.

That’s because Google exists not to put the sites it thinks should be at the top of the search rankings. Rather, it exists to put the sites that people want to use in first place.

That keeps people using Google (and not other search engines). And it keeps the company making billions of dollars.

Google doesn’t want to lose either.

So, What Do You Fix?

Your website can never again be a one-time or occasional thing you look at and make fixes to. If you go that route, you’re sure to lose your rank in search.

It may come slowly. But it will happen.

Rather, you want to constantly tweak your website to give your visitors a better experience. You do the same at your brick-and-mortar location.

You must also do this with your website.

So each day, simply ask yourself, ”What’s the number one thing I can do right now that will make the greatest impact on how much people like my website?”

…And that can lead you to lots of decisions like improving content, increasing site speed, creating more appealing marketing messages, changing code to improve performance, tightening security, and scores of other decisions.

The Number One Thing You Can Always Do

Ultimately, people visit and stay at websites with the most useful content. So if you’re a naturally talented writer, create the most in-depth blog post of its kind that answers a question, dispels a myth, or sheds light on an issue of concern to your audience.

If you’re not a writer, create a video, upload to YouTube, and post it on your website.

Add a podcast to your website.

The more helpful you can be with your content, the better.

Why?

People get all sorts of lame, and sometimes just downright wrong, answers on the internet.

So when you make it clear helping your visitors out is your number one priority, and they get information they can’t get anywhere else, you win attention.

They remember you.

They share your content with their friends.

And when they finally need your service, they choose you (and not your competitor).

In a nutshell, “sharing is caring.”

And that’s how you keep Google happy and maintain a nearly impossible-to-disrupt hold on your traffic and rankings, regardless of the changes Google throws your way.

via GIPHY

 

New Google Speed Update Increases Importance of Mobile Load Speed

 

Google’s been using the speed at which your website downloads on desktop/laptop computers as a ranking signal for some time.

Since 2010, actually.

Up until now, that hasn’t been the case for mobile devices.

But now it is.

…And it doesn’t work exactly as you’d expect.

For example, Google says that for now it only affects pages that “deliver the slowest experience to users.”

In terms of Google updates, even though this one sounds huge, it actually only affects a relatively small number of searches and websites.

Google also admitted in its public announcement that content still plays a much larger role in ranking. So, if you have amazingly useful content, a slow website still won’t trash your rankings.

That’s Not the Only Reason You Should Have a Fast-Loading Website for Mobile Devices

Yes. It’s going to hurt your rankings (and by extension sales) if you happen to be one of the “slowest” loading sites.

But that’s not the only reason you should feel concerned to make your website download as fast as possible on all device types.

What do you really care about at the end of the day?

Sales, right?

Well, the faster your website downloads, the more sales you get. Hundreds and thousands of case studies have documented extensively the strong relationship between website speed and sales.

Here’s just a few:

  • Amazon loses $1.6 billion per year for each second slower its product pages load
  • One mPulse study found pages that load in 2.4 seconds get a 1.9% conversion rate. At 3.3 seconds, this falls to 1.5% (a 21% decrease). At 4.2 seconds, this falls below 1.0% – or about a 50% decrease.
  • Shopzilla found faster pages deliver 7-12% more sales than slower ones
  • AutoAnything found cutting page load time in half led to 13% more sales

You can read more brief case studies about this at Hubspot. And if you want nearly endless reading on the subject, just Google “how page speed affects conversions,” or something similar.

The point is that page download speed undoubtedly has a noticeable effect on sales.

Give Yourself a Quick Check

Google has a PageSpeed tool that tells you what you can do to improve your page’s download speed.

Don’t worry so much about the score. Look more at what it suggests you do to improve your page’s speed.

Lighthouse also sheds light on the issue.

When you think about it, if you do fix a page download speed issue, it’s only a one-time cost. And then you reap the sales rewards for years into the future.

And you’re absolutely guaranteed Google won’t reverse its stance. The market demands fast websites and instant gratification…and always will!

Apple’s New iOS 11 Will End Cookies and Change Online Advertising Forever

You know what cookies are, right?

In case you’re not exactly sure, they’re small files some websites store on your computer that include information a company has tracked about you. Most commonly, they get used for advertising. Those retargeted ads that seem to follow you around from site-to-site have their data stored in cookies.

Cookies may also be used to store information regarding whether you’ve seen a particular newsletter subscription offer. For example, you get 10% off for joining a website’s email list. Once you sign up, you don’t get shown that ad again thanks to the cookie.

They also may store information about how you like to view a certain website. For example, ESPN lets you select your favorite teams to follow, and that info gets stored in a cookie.

That’s what cookies do. They allow the web to be customized to you in a more personal way.

But now, as is often the case with Apple, they’re changing that. iOS 11 now shifts the web to “intelligent tracking prevention” (ITP).

After 24 hours, advertisers will have their cookie data blocked by ITP. Publicly, Apple says they’re doing this to safeguard user data and deliver even more relevant advertising.

But is that the case? Learn a little more about ITP and what it will do:

  1. The Good For Consumers

You’ve heard about all those massive online data breaches in recent years. Apple’s ITP truly does offer better data protection. That’ll help you feel more at ease.

And, since those retargeted ads will have to disappear and be replaced after 24 hours, that’ll give you more relevant and useful ads. Ideally, this makes shopping online easier and more enjoyable.

  1. The Online Advertising Industry Will Consolidate

More automation and real-time activation will be needed to successfully advertise online. Companies will have to switch their focus to devices and identity resolution, rather than cookies. Any company that refuses to change, or without the capability to do so quickly enough, will fall out of relevance themselves, or have to close their doors.

  1. ITP Technology Won’t Have a Massive Effect

Though groundbreaking and disruptive in concept, only about 15% of mobile browsing happens in a browser, notes an Adage article. And 30% of that 15%, or just 5%, of mobile browsing happens in iOS.

What about all the rest of mobile advertising? It happens through apps.

Why Should You Care about This?

You’ll definitely notice the changes – both as a consumer and business. While it’s not likely to devastate your bottom line (thankfully), it will affect your approach and personal experience.

What Trends are Driving Digital Marketing?

Seems like just yesterday you only needed a website to market your business. Then you needed SEO. Now you need a responsive site.

You can’t hire just a single SEO consultant anymore. These days, you have to hire a whole team. SEO consultants have a network of contractors. They rarely operate independently. If you go with an agency, they have employees and contractors.

Running a website is no longer a simple, one-person endeavor.

And sorry to do this…but it’s only going to get more complex.

Here’s some of the coming trends that will shape how you operate your company website:

  • It’s Tough to Get Around Paid Advertising
    Paid advertising is now becoming necessary. Today, you can do it through PPC in Google Adwords. Bing/Yahoo have their own network too.Every major social network (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest etc…) now has a paid advertising option. Facebook’s grown so powerful that they keep redesigning their algorithm so it shows your posts to fewer followers.

    Unless, of course, you fork over more cash.

    Any of these digital properties act as one of the major gateways to the internet. You can bet that any website with major traffic will continue to find ways to charge you money to advertise on their platform.

  • Security Will Remain a Top Concern
    Ever noticed how some websites start with “http://” while others begin with “https://?”What’s the difference? “https://” stands for “HTTP secure.” With regular HTTP, the former internet standard, third parties can see the traffic and data that passes between your browser and local web server. That information could include your credit card number or social security number.

    To encourage a safer and more secure web, Google now docks your rankings if you don’t use HTTPS, even if your website doesn’t receive sensitive information from visitors. HTTPS means that all information between your browser and server gets encrypted.

World superpowers like Russia and China have government-sponsored teams of hackers (though they’ll never publicly admit to this). And every country has its own share of independent hackers.

Smart hackers know small businesses may be less lucrative, but they’re easier targets.

Recent data shows:

  • 43% of cyber attacks target SMBs
  • Just 14% consider their security “highly effective”
  • 60% go out of business within six months of a successful attack

And It Certainly Doesn’t End There

The reality is there’s much more to digital marketing than this. Artificial intelligence, marketing automation, influencer marketing, the increasing rise of algorithms (to sort email in Gmail’s tabs, among other things), and live streaming video will continue to shape digital marketing too.

The key to all this is having someone you can trust to help you understand and identify what really makes sense for your business.

2 Elements to A/B Test on Your Website

Scientist uses modern technology for its research

Know what an A/B test is? It’s when you compare two slightly different versions of a single web page against each other.

You’ll make a small change to one page. But you won’t make any changes to the other. The point is that you learn better what your visitors like so more take the action you want on each page.

It can be a painstaking process. You do focus on minutia, testing each element at a time until you find what works best.

What would you test on your local business website? Just about anything. But here’s some of the first, and most major:

  1. Headline

This is the first thing a visitor to any page on your website notices. It bears the most weight on what they do on the rest of your page. So, it makes sense to change what your headline says.

Now, the most important part of headline testing is finding the specific words your market wants to hear. Do they want “HVAC repair services?” Or do they want “HVAC services that make you comfortable?”

Many customers really want “comfort.” So, you’d run a headline including that word, and then see how it does versus one without it.

You see how long visitors stay on the page, how many bounce, and how many call or use your contact form.

Once it’s clear you have a winner, you determine that headline to be the best one that you use from now on.

  1. Call-to-Action

“Just call…” That’s your call-to-action – when you ask your visitors to do something. How you phrase your call-to-action has a large effect on how many people take it.

Many businesses simply phrase it “Call 555.555.5555 for your free estimate.”

That’s better than nothing. But it’s not overly enticing to your visitors.

A couple techniques you can try to boost your number of actions further are:

  1. Highlighting pain avoidance – “To stop sweating and get your HVAC repaired today by a reliable contractor you can trust, call…”
  2. Reminding visitors of the benefits they can get with you – “Want to feel cool and comfortable again? Just call 555.555.5555 today and we’ll have your AC fixed in under 24 hours.”

Typically, the first approach works best. But, you’ll have to try it out to confirm how it works on your website.

You Can Easily Explode Your Conversions

A/B testing done to a website that hasn’t had it before can easily drive your conversions up 50% – 300% or more. The results for each website are totally unique to that website because each website, its design, and the marketing copy are unique.

You can A/B test all you want to drive your conversions up even further. But doing at least a basic round should be done to every website.

You’ll be glad when you do it.

How to Drive In-Store Visits with Online Marketing

She's always one step ahead of the latest fashion trends

Not getting the in-store visits you want?

Remember how Best Buy had this problem years ago?

In mid-2012, Amazon had pounded Best Buy’s stock price down to $11.99. 5 years previous, Best Buy’s share price was $52.71. At the bottom, there was question as to whether Best Buy would have to cease operations. Today, their stock price sits at a healthy $44.43.

It’s no secret that Best Buy was acting as a “show room” for Amazon. But they managed to recover.

What about you – a much smaller business? How do you keep getting in-store sales and beating your on-line competitors?

Here’s some ideas for driving in-store traffic via your internet marketing:

  1. Make Your In-Store Experience Unique, and Highlight Customer Experiences Online

Take photos and videos of your customers shopping in your store. Highlight those experiences across your social media profiles. Share what your customers say about their experiences. Encourage them to share their experiences on their own social media profiles.

There’s certain things that can only happen in-person, and not online.

  1. Make Special Offers or Promote Certain Items for In-Store Customers Only

You can advertise these online across your website and social media profiles. Don’t do it too frequently because you’ll cut into your profit margins and possibly alienate customers who want to buy online only. However, it is one way to get people into your store.

  1. Train Your Employees for Top-Notch Service

When was the last time you went in-person to any store, and had an amazing customer service experience? Doesn’t happen often, does it? Most employees keep to themselves, not even bothering to greet customers. Or if they do, they’ve been trained to hassle the customer about buying something or signing up for a store credit card.

Train your employees to truly focus on customer interests. They should ask customers what they’re looking for, or why they came in that day. The point of the conversation isn’t to win a sale, but to understand what the customer really wants.

Customers rarely feel “served.” They usually feel interrogated, like just another number on the bottom line. Again, highlight the resulting stories and feedback you get on your social media profiles.

  1. Promote the Benefits of In-Store Shopping

When customers shop in your store, they get what they want now. If they need a return, they don’t have to wait. They get answers to their questions fast. They get to actually talk with a real human being.

It’s impossible, and in other cases difficult, to get these same benefits online. However, you have to keep talking about those benefits for them to remain important and beneficial to your customers.

Yes, You Can Beat Amazon

You’ll certainly never beat Amazon in volume. But, you can offer an in-store experience and quality products they can’t match.

That’ll keep you in business in any economy.