Marketing In The Age Of Google : A Review

If you’re doing any kind of business online, there’s something for you in “Marketing In The Age Of Google” by Vanessa Fox. If you’re a business owner ready to get serious about your internet marketing, this book is the perfect place to start. If you’re a seasoned SEO, it will give you fresh eyes and help you communicate better with your clients.

If you maintain a business web site, you owe it to yourself to check this book out. It’s a fantastic non-technical guide to online marketing and search. Vanessa discusses every aspect of search marketing, how search engines work and how web sites can be best optimized to help them do their job. Online market research through search, finding niches, optimization, pay-per-click strategies, designing pages for conversion – it’s all in here. And, it’s all written in understandable, jargon-free language. Yes, SEOs and internet marketers will often pepper articles and conversation with bizarre buzzwords and acronyms that make everything we’re discussing confusing for the layman. There’s none of that here. This book, while certainly not “for dummies”, will help anyone who knows their business and their customers to succeed online.

If you’re looking to hire an SEO company, reading this book ahead of time will put you in a great position to make the right choice. You’ll know what questions to ask and what to expect. You can easily outsource the research and technical implementation confidently if you know and understand the basics of what needs to be done. Plus, your educated input will enable the SEO to better help you accomplish your goal – making conversions.

A Quick Checklist For Creating Web Pages With Conversion In Mind

While creating content for a new page, think of the following questions:

What is my goal with this page?

Determine exactly what you want this page to do for you. Is it a purely informational content? An introduction? Or is it a sales page.

What do I want the visitor to do?

Do you want to sell them something immediately? Do you want them to contact you? Do you want them to submit an email address? Do you want them to click on to the next page?

If you don’t know precisely what you’d like the visitor to do on this page, they certainly won’t.

How can I make it easy for them to do that?

Make sure that the pages “call to action” is clear and obvious. The “buy now” button, the contact form, the link, or whatever it is should right there in front of them.

Then, take a look at the new page from the visitors perspective…

Why is the visitor here?

Determine what kind of visitor you would ideally have landing on this page. Are they looking to purchase a product you’re selling? Looking to engage your services? Are they trying to answer a question or find some information? Those are very different visitors – so make sure you keep the right one in mind when developing content for each particular page of your website.

What does the visitor want from this page?

If they’ve arrived looking for a particular product, make sure that product is exactly where they land. Don’t require them to run a search of your site to find it.

If it’s information the visitor is looking for, make sure it’s what they find, and entice them to stick around for a while with targeted links to related content on your site.

What would compel them to follow your “call to action”?

Once again, make it easy for them to do it.

If they are visiting to make a purchase, make this easy. Put the “buy” button right there. Don’t place an obstacle like registration in the way. Don’t require them to fill out a quick survey before confirming their order

If they want to get in touch with you, make this easy. Put the contact form or contact information right there.

4 Signs Of A Bad SEO Company

1. Claiming to be “Partnered With” or “Certified” or “Approved” by any Search Engine

This is simply not possible. No search engine has ever entered into a partnership with an SEO, or used any kind of system to certify or test them. The general consensus on SEOs from search engines isn’t positive. Officially, they’re not fans. But they are aware that SEO is necessary and filling a need.

There is no governing body for SEOs. Given the global nature of search, there probably never will be. There is no official certification or qualifications. Anyone posting a seal or emblem on their website stating otherwise is simply being untruthful.

Google does offer an official certification for AdWords – the Google AdWords Certification Program. But this certification covers their PPC system only – no organic search basics or practices, which means no “certification” for most of what an SEO does. If you’re looking for someone to manage your large AdWords campaigns ONLY, then this Google “badge” on their website is something to look for. If you’re looking for an SEO, this is no indicator of competence or trustworthiness.

2. Anything “Guaranteed”

Anyone promising you “#1 at Google, Guaranteed” is pulling a fast one. First of all, with Google’s search results becoming more and more personalized, and geo-local results rising, it’s almost impossible to know what’s coming up as #1 in someone else’s browser – let alone guarantee it. Just not realistic. Second, what exactly are you being guaranteed? Keywords they’ve deemed best for your site, or keywords they’ve deemed the easiest to rank?

“Pay For Performance” is a less dubious concept, but be very clear on what “performance” is before entering in to this. Your version of success may be quite different from theirs.

3. Talk of Submitting to Search Engines

Search engine submissions have not been necessary for years. If your site is brand new it’s still not necessary. The search engines will find your site. That’s what they do. Even worse, there is still submission software available that will regularly submit your site to “all of the major and minor engines”, and this is still being offered by SEOs. This is not just out-dated, it’s completely invalid. It’s never worked, and it’s never helped.

4. Selling a “Secret” Strategy

Most of what an SEO does for a website is not top secret. What works and what helps is widely known. The information is all out there, if you have the time and inclination to learn about it. Most don’t, and that’s why the SEO industry exists. All search engine optimization companies will have their own pet strategies and methods, and if you ask them for more information about exactly what they have in mind for your site they will probably tell you. So, an SEO firm with “Top Secret Super SEO Strategies” as their methodology is either lying or engaging in some techniques that may be considered “black hat.” If it’s the latter, they need to be upfront about it. There are plenty of site owners willing to take a “black hat” risk, but the SEO company involved needs to make sure they’re fully aware of the potential for trouble, and most commonly, the potential for an algorithm shift that completely wipes out their rankings. If they won’t answer your questions under the guise of keeping their techniques under wraps, something is amiss.

7 Simple SEO Steps You Might Have Missed

You’re launching a brand new website, or you’ve redesigned your existing website. You and your web designer have spent a lot of time on keyword research, creating strong content, and optimizing site structure. It looks great, it functions well and you’re pretty sure it’s ready to go live. But while focusing on the big picture, you may have missed some small, but key details like these.

1. Create a Custom 404 Page

Broken links happen, they’re not that big a deal. But if a visitor clicks on one, you don’t want it to be a dead end that causes them to leave. A simple page that apologizes and tells them something has gone wrong, through no fault of their own, and gives them some new options for where they’d like to go next can save face and improve traffic.

2. Consistent Titles

When your website comes up in the search results, you want people to know it’s yours on sight. Setting up a consistent site-wide title structure is essential for this. Placing your business or website name in every title tag, either before or after a short keyword rich descriptive title of the pages content does this effectively. For example … “YourBusiness – This Page’s Content” or “This Page’s Content |”, etc. It presents a sharp, coherent and appealing presence in the search engine results, and that leads to more click-throughs.

3. Custom Meta Descriptions For Every Page

It’s true, the Meta Description tag is not a contributing factor to search engine rankings, and as a result is often neglected in favour of focusing on more SEO worthy content. But the description tag is what potential visitors see in the search results and can definitely influence the searchers decision about what to click. To maximize this potential, create a unique, informative, and interesting description tag for every page of your website. Think about what the potential customer wants to see here, keep it concise and make it inviting.

4. XML Sitemap

Creating an XML Sitemap with the URLs of all your new web site pages is the fastest way to let the search engines know where it all is. Or, if you have redesigned, the site map can let them know that things have changed, and how your new site is structured so they can re-crawl it. If you have any content that the bots won’t be able to find on their own, or content that is difficult to crawl, an XML Sitemap is particularly important. There’s not really any evidence that providing the search engines with a sitemap will get the site crawled any faster, but since they’re giving you the opportunity to communicate with them through the document, it just seems like the right thing to do.

5. Set Up a Google Webmasters Account (and Bing too!)

It’s free, it’s easy to set up, and it creates a dialogue between you and Google about your website. You want that! By verifying your website with Google you’ll gain access to a variety of data showing how Google sees your site. It will inform you of any problems Googlebot may be having crawling it, how many incoming links Google has counted, and lots of other useful information about your website . There’s also a similar system available at Bing, so it only makes sense to get verified and set up an account there as well. If you’ve re-designed, you may need to re-verify if your previous verification tags or files have been removed.

6. Tracking

Some kind of analyzing traffic tracking software is a must. Not a hit counter, but web analytics software that tracks every visitor, telling you how they got there, what they looked at, and how long they stayed. This kind of data is invaluable and essential for learning about how your customers are reacting to your site. Make sure the tracker is getting every page and set up your goals. If you’ve redesigned, make sure the tracker is getting the new pages, and re-adjust your goals as needed.

7. 301 Redirects For Moved or Deleted Content

These are very important if you’ve redesigned. When you move content around, or replace it with something else, this can cause broken links you may not even be aware of. Don’t lose traffic or search engine rankings unnecessarily, simply put a 301 redirect in place that sends visitors and search engine bots to the new location. There’s some debate as to whether a link to the old location will be fully counted towards the link popularity for the new location, but either way, it certainly couldn’t hurt.

Is A Site Map For Users Still Important To Search Engines?

In this new GoogleWebmasters clip, Matt Cutts addresses a question about creating a site map for users, or HTML sitemaps. Are they still necessary alongside XML sitemaps.

The answer is a resounding yes.

Clearly Googlebot likes a sitemap, so don’t assume that this is an outdated concept.

An HTML sitemap is actually a faster and more efficient way to get content crawled and indexed than an XML sitemap is. Content that is buried a dozen clicks away from the home page can go un-indexed, despite being listed on an XML sitemap. Adding a user site map, with a link on the home page will get that content indexed fast. Search engine bots are not perfect. Anything you can do to help them crawl your site more efficiently is worth the time.

As Matt says, you don’t need to list every single page of your site on the user sitemap, which could be particularly daunting if your site is very large and adds new content daily. Listing the head categories, or head and sub categories is probably enough.

Also, let’s not forget that this is a USER sitemap. Many site visitors WILL turn to the site map if they’re looking for something specific. Helping them use your site efficiently is just as important as helping the bots.