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Majority of SMBs doing SEO are in-housing

15 Apr

A majority of small businesses (SMBs) surveyed understand they should be doing SEO but only 36 percent have an SEO strategy in place and are actively pursuing it. That’s according to a survey of 529 small businesses, between 1 and 50+ employees conducted by The Manifest.

Beyond the 36 percent, the survey found another 23 percent planned to pursue SEO in 2019, and 15 percent said that they intended to in “2020 or later.” Whether these good intentions translate into action is another matter. A 2018 survey conducted by the same company found 44 percent of businesses spend time or money on SEO. However, that survey included respondents from larger enterprises (up to 500 employees).

Majority DIYing SEO. Most SMBs said they rely on in-house efforts for SEO (54 percent), although a substantial minority (42 percent) used SEO consultants and freelancers. Another 28 percent said they were using an SEO firm or agency. And 50 percent said they were using SEO software and tools. I assume the overlap is between those using an “SEO agency” and “SEO consultants.”

Nearly 80 percent of these SMBs were either “confident” or “very confident” in their self-assessed understanding of SEO best practices. However, the fact that the top SEO tactic mentioned was “social media marketing” casts some doubt on that finding.

Top SEO tactics among SMBs. The survey asked SMBs currently pursuing SEO, “What SEO activities does your company currently invest in?” Erroneously, “social media marketing” was on list of tactics and captured the highest response (63 percent). More than half of SMBs said a mobile-friendly website and keyword research/targeting are top SEO tactics:

  • Mobile-friendly website: 54%
  • Keyword research/targeting: 51%
  • Creating high-quality content: 48%
  • Local search optimization: 45%
  • On-site optimization: 40%
  • PPC advertising: 35%
  • Link-building: 28%
  • Voice search optimization: 21%

It’s interesting and somewhat surprising to note that 21 percent said they were doing “voice search optimization.” It’s not clear what that means to these businesses, however.

Methods for tracking SEO success. When asked how they tracked SEO success, these SMBs said “search traffic.” That was followed by “leads and conversions,” while only 4 percent said they didn’t track their efforts:

  • Web traffic from search engines: 25%
  • Leads and conversions: 19%
  • Number and quality of backlinks: 14%
  • Keyword rankings: 13%
  • Impressions: 13%
  • On-site engagement: 12%
  • I don’t track metrics for SEO: 4%

PPC advertising frequency. The survey also asked those doing PPC advertising about budgets and frequency. The largest single group (33 percent) spent between 10 and 30 percent of marketing budgets on PPC ads. The next largest group (24 percent) spent between 31 and 50 percent. The majority (82 percent) said they were doing PPC either “consistently” (45 percent) or “monthly” (37 percent).

Why we should care. The survey shows that while only a minority of SMB respondents are actively engaged in SEO, a substantial additional percentage recognize they should be doing it. That’s an opportunity for third-party marketing service providers and agencies that serve SMBs. But SEO doesn’t generally yield immediate results, which often makes its value difficult to prove and perceive for SMBs who tend to impatient and want immediate results.

5 Best SEO Tips for 2019

11 Mar

Search Engines have become the go-to method of finding goods, services, and information for the majority of the world.

It is only natural that everyone is going to fight for that higher ranking in the results page, survival of the highest.

SEO the cheapest way to reach a huge number of people and of course, you can do it too.

Here are a few tips:

Content Structuring

The moment one is clicks on the link, the first thing they will look at is how the page looks. Which means, does the pages seem to contain information they are looking for and how easy or pleasant for them to navigate and go through the content.

Menu bars, logos, headers, footers, sidebars are some of the basics that need to be done right. Use the important keywords in these main structures.

Content Quality

Now, it is a widely established factor that content is one of the most valuable resources today.

Basically, a search query means the user is looking for information about something, if you have the most relevant and most engaging information, you will rank higher.

It may be simple to create content, but to create an engaging and optimized content, one will need to put in a lot of effort.

Research for the right keywords, use the words efficiently and make sure the content is reader-friendly and engaging.

The key is to identify what the audience needs and provide the same in a way they get the most satisfaction from.

Mobile Optimization   

More than 52.2 % search traffic comes from mobile searches and this is a trend that is only bound to increase in the future.

There is more than a 50% chance that you are reading this very article on you mobile.

So if your site is not mobile optimized, you are losing more than half the potential traffic.

Moreover, mobile friendliness is considered as a ranking factor in desktop too.

The more responsive and mobile friendly the page is, the better are the chances of ranking high on among both desktop and mobile searches.

Speed Up

It is not a marathon, it is a race. You page should be the Usain Bolt of web page loading race.

Loading icons are something of a nightmare for the modern web surfers; nobody has the patience to wait for more than a few seconds to get their information.

You can have all the useful information but, if your page takes more than few seconds, no one is going to bother to read it.

Use the available online tools to check how your page fares, Google itself provides the tool for this purpose. If it is not the optimum levels, find the solutions and fix it.

Business Profile in Google

Well, most of the search traffic comes from users of Google, only seems fair to seek support from Google itself for better rankings.

Set up your Business Profile with Google My Business.

It’ll help your business appear on searches among Google searches and Google maps searches and the best part is that this is all for free!!  Sweet isn’t it?

Now go on, people are looking for the information/goods and services you provide, makes sure you reach them first.

Social Media Marketing for Link Building: Top Tactics and Strategies

25 Sep

The role of social media marketing in SEO isn’t that obvious. Some people feel skeptical about social signals affecting Google’s rankings in any way. Some separate social media marketing and SEO as fields with different goals and methods. Yet these people constitute a minority among SEO experts, as it has recently turned out.

In the largest industry survey on how SEO professionals do link building in 2017, the results showed that most specialists use social media for link building. Namely:

  • 88 percent of SEOs include links in social media profiles.
  • 81 percent share their social media content.
  • 53 percent have experimented with viral campaigns (social media contests, etc).

That is how we know link building with social media is a widely used tactic and an effective one, but overseen by many specialists of the field. If you’re one of them, keep reading. This article will give you an overview of tested methods that are worth trying out.

Include Links in Your Social Profiles

Social media is often thought as pointless for SEO for one simple reason: links from social media platforms are unfollowed. Even Google Plus, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn – platforms that either used to be exceptions to this rule, or thought by some to be – have at one or other points of their existence gone down the same road.

Today, Reddit is the only exception. However, marketing on Reddit is barely possible. Your product has to be extremely relevant to some subcommunity for your promotion and link building to work.

Yet you can’t afford to just ignore social media link building because it’s nofollow. What about social signals? What about traffic that comes from links in the news feeds? Matthew Woodward in his tutorial points out the importance of social backlinks for SEO and provides us with some tips on how to go about it.

For example, on Facebook, make sure to add:

  • Your website link in the website field under Contact and Basic Info on your About tab;
  • Your website URL anytime you post something on your wall, including images and videos;
  • A link to your website to your group’s pinned post.

Similarly to what you’ve done on Facebook, go through your other social media pages and include links to cover photos, bios, images, descriptions, and so on. Even if you won’t keep up working with these social media pages, there’s no harm in having a rich description with links – only potential traffic!

Get People to See and Read Your Content

One of the main struggles of SEO and content marketing is getting people to see content. It’s no surprise that given the plethora of content online, it’s hard to find the audience that your articles will be relevant to. So here are some essential tactics for content promotion.

1. Make Your Text Readable

It should go without saying, but many people still write badly. Your content should be engaging, mistake-free, and concise if you want it to be seen. Even if it exists for SEO purposes only.

2. Research Competitors

By looking at your competitors’ link profiles you’ll find loads of opportunities for content promotion. Many heads are better than one! Remember to look at any niche-related industries, not just your direct competitors.

3. Aim for Evergreen Content

Easier said than done, but evergreen content should be your ultimate goal. Also, focus on content that can be rediscovered regularly. For example, an article about Halloween has a good chance of attracting new traffic every October.

4. Consider Translating Your Existing Content

If your audience is international, you’ll get more exposure and so much more links if you simply translate the content you already have.

5. Submit to Niche News Sites and Content Communities

Not every industry has a niche news site or content community, but most do. For example, in digital marketing, there’s GrowthHackers.com, Inbound.org, and BizSugar.com. Triberr.com features blog posts about almost anything. Look for similar websites in your industry, and submit your content for more exposure.

6. Submit to Communities on Social Networks

Communities on social networks are no less important. Depending on the niche, they can be active and therefore valuable to you. There are Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, and Google+ Communities, but you can also attempt marketing in the relevant Reddit or Tumblr communities.

Don’t forget about niche or local social platforms as well! There are some of them dedicated specifically to books or music, some are popular in specific countries only.

On all of these communities, you’ll have to engage with the readers by commenting and answering their questions. This is a good thing as readers may end up borrowing your content and linking back to you.

Create Viral Content

Going viral is the quickest and hardest way to earn links. When social media campaigns or even social media crisis cases go viral, the links appear on popular resources and news websites with no further effort from you.

While getting into a social media crisis to end up on The Guardian is risky, creating viral content is the dream many marketers have. But not many even attempt to do that.

While some videos go viral purely by chance or due to their outstanding content, many are created by marketers that know the key to viral marketing. Let’s try to reverse-engineer the process by looking at companies whose campaign go viral quite regularly.

1. Aim Your Social Media Marketing at Teens & Young Adults

Let’s look at the brand stars of social media: the American fast food chain Taco Bell and the British mobile network O2. While loads of grown-ups eat fast-food and all of them use mobile network (and are more likely to actually use O2 since it’s a rather expensive one), social media marketing of both brands seems to be aimed at teens and young adults. It’s all about jokes, banter, emojis, and sometimes swear words. To be natural at it, brands hire millennials – people who grew up with social media and all its viral culture around them.

Why do brands aim at this part of their potential buyers when creating their social media strategy?

Mobile page speed is important, but not (yet) for SEO

13 Mar

There are plenty of good reasons to make your mobile site fast, and Google just reminded us of them with their new industry benchmarks for mobile page speed. Among them:

  • Improving conversion rate and increasing profit, as 40 percent of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.
  • Customer retention, as 79 percent of shoppers who are dissatisfied with site performance say they’re less likely to purchase from the same site again.

But is SEO one of those reasons? Will businesses that optimize their Google page speed score to 100/100 on mobile be able to rank higher than businesses that don’t?

The answer to the first question is “yes,” in the sense that Google has said that speed is a ranking factor (and has been since 2010), and that this year they will use the speed of your mobile pages instead of desktop when determining your mobile rankings.

But it’s not clear that this is true in practice today, or that businesses that optimize their Google page speed score on mobile will rank higher than businesses that don’t.

If this were the case, the sites with the most organic search traffic would also be the fastest, but this clearly isn’t the case.

I ran the top 1,000 sites from SEMrush’s list of sites with the most organic traffic through Google’s Page speed and Mobile-friendly tool, and 800 of them went through successfully.

The good news is that 93 percent of these top sites were at least mobile-friendly. This is up from 40 percent of the top sites prior to Google’s mobile-friendly update in 2015.

But these sites are not as fast as they are mobile-friendly.

Just 2 percent of these top sites scored between 90 and 100 on Google’s mobile page speed test, and the average page speed score was 55/100.

Desktop sites were faster, but not by much. Just 4 percent of these top sites scored above 90, with the average score being 67.

The average site in Google’s study took between seven and 11 seconds to load. When you consider that a site that loads in nine seconds on mobile gets a page speed score of about 60, it seems that top-ranked sites are very similar to other sites that don’t rank well when it comes to mobile page speed.

What this means is that at the moment, page speed on mobile is much less important than a number of other signals that determine ranking. You may want to make your pages faster in order to improve conversion rates and customer retention, but it likely won’t help your SEO.

Does this mean you shouldn’t care about mobile page speed?

Before you go running into your boss’s office shouting, “STOP THE MOBILE PAGE SPEED PROJECT!!” there is one other thing that I will leave you with.

With the mobile-first index, Google will start using your mobile page speed for ranking, if they’re not doing so already. Speed is so important to them that they’ve taken it into their own hands with the AMP project, giving sites a way to display their content quickly on mobile. Most of the search traffic on Google is mobile, and as we’ve seen with Mobilegeddon, they are not above incentivizing webmasters with ranking increases if they want to change the face of the web.

With that in mind, I’d recommend the following to SEOs thinking about the impact of mobile page speed on ranking:

Increasing page speed for mobile searchers visiting your site shouldn’t be a top priority for SEO at the moment. There’s plenty of evidence that increasing page speed is good for your bottom line, which can increase the quality of SEO traffic you receive, but there’s no evidence that mobile page speed is a significant ranking factor at this time. Make your site as fast as you can, but don’t deprioritize other proven SEO tactics to get a perfect score on the mobile page speed test.

Mobile page speed, like mobile-friendly sites in 2014, could become a more significant ranking factor in the future, especially given the impending rollout of the mobile-first index. If it does, it’s likely that Google will make an announcement, as they did with the mobile-friendly update, at which point you should put resources towards making your native site faster.

In the meantime, prepare for it by making your native site as fast as you can without diverting resources from other projects, investing in AMP where it makes sense and helping whoever in your organization is responsible for conversion optimization to secure the budget by sharing Google’s research on page speed impact on conversions and customer retention with them.

4 Social Media Marketing Trends in 2016 (Predictions)

7 Dec

In the early days of social media marketing, companies did not consider it as a viable strategy to promote awareness or market their products. Now, most of us have become a witness to the fact that social media marketing is indeed a rock-solid platform that offers plenty of opportunities to make our products reach a wider market.

Social Media Marketing Trends in 2016

But the world of social media is changing quickly. Thanks to the dozens of new platforms appearing every year. Existing companies, big or small, are scrambling to stay ahead of their competitors by offering their audiences new features.

So, as a social media marketer, what trends can you expect in 2016?

1. Buy Buttons

Facebook has introduced the “buy” feature for their advertisers and users. It is followed by Pinterest. These two platforms are aggressive in promoting this feature to advertisers. Users of these two social networking sites can now purchase a product directly from these platforms through a sponsored content.

Facebook-owned Instagram is following behind. And more and more platforms are going to follow. That said, when 2016 ends, major social media brands will also be offering a “buy” feature.

2. Live broadcasting

Recently, Facebook has rolled out its live broadcasting feature to non-verified accounts to compete with Periscope, a Twitter-owned company that offers a live video broadcast. Instagram and Snapchat are also offering an on-the-go video update as opposed to the late-game update.

If this trend will continue, scheduling your updates in advance will no longer be advisable. That is if you want to go with the trend.

3. In-App functionality

When it comes to providing users with new functionalities, Facebook is considered the king in this area. Currently, the company is developing a human hybrid assistant and other social media companies are also developing such functionality.

An in-app functionality will prevent users from ever leaving Facebook, Instagram and other social networking apps they are using.

This trend is said to continue in 2016. It will give marketers better opportunities to engage with their audiences using one platform.

4. Publication option

Publishers can publish their full-length articles on a social media site. This is how Instant Articles of Facebook works. With this option, publishers no longer have to provide an external link to their sites.

Social media marketing experts are guessing that, as this trend continues, other social media platforms will offer a more sophisticated form of publishing to some businesses and organizations.

The Project Lighting of Twitter offers a dynamic way of presenting a material to the public. But it still works like the Instant Articles of Facebook. Pretty sure, others will follow.

Will there be fewer smaller platforms to emerge?

There is a dozen of social media platforms that emerged but most of them died a quick death. That said, experts are seeing fewer smaller social media platforms to compete against the big three – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

These trends are just predictions. But some of them will permeate across multiple platforms. Many audiences will use them. Some companies may not adapt to the changes but others will.

Deleting Pins for SEO- Good or Bad?

31 Aug

There is no point mourning the loss of the old chronological listing of pins on our Pinterest feeds. Those days are gone and we’ll be dealing with algorithm changes from here on out. That said, any time the topic of Pinterest SEO (or DEO – Discovery Engine Optimization) pops up, so will the tactics and iffy strategies that miss the larger points of best practice.

Some people advocate deleting pins without a fair number of repins. It is assumed that having a high engagement/virility rate helps your pins rank in Pinterest search. That has been found, at least anecdotally, to be true. So in theory, deleting pins without engagement will help.

There, I said it. It hurt.

However, there are other things you can – and should – be doing that will likely provide better results AND get you on your way to a much better Pinterest presence from here on out. As an added bonus, you won’t need to constantly monitor and delete pins. Just get back to enjoying pinning!

Deleting Underperforming Pins – Good Pinterest SEO Strategy or Waste of Time?

Even if you had a solid strategy when you first started on Pinterest, you might find that after a few years of fun Pinterest rabbit holes, your account has become something of a hodgepodge of disparate topics and abandoned boards.

If you have no clear view of your customers (get a sample buyer persona here which you can edit for your own needs), stop pinning now. Take a few minutes to get this in mind. Write it out on paper and then take another look at your account. Do they match up? Are you the solution to their needs, goals, challenges, and questions? If not, it’s time for a reboot.

If one-third of your boards are for your business and then you have personal boards for recipes, funny memes, clothes, etc., consider creating a personal account. Then you can duplicate those boards on your new account, repin all your board pins to the personal account and delete the misfit boards on your business account. If you would rather not have two accounts, you can create secret boards on your business account and move your non-business-related pins there.

Take a fresh look at your profile description. Are the keywords still relevant? Do the same with all your board descriptions. You might be surprised to find that some of your boards don’t even have a description. Fix that now! Are your board titles clear and keyword optimized? This is not the place for cute and clever. Be sure each board assigned the most applicable category. Never opt for “other” if you can help it!

Could you make some of your boards more specific? For instance, if you started with a board for social media, but now you have 500 pins about many social networks, could you split them up by network? It’s so easy to move pins in bulk right from Pinterest now, there’s really no reason not to!

Now you have a much more focused account, which is going to make for happier followers and some added Pinterest SEO love.

Get Rich Pins

If you don’t have them already, enable rich pins on your site. Rich pins display extra information on your site that you can’t get from a description alone – and they can’t be changed by anyone repinning or pinning from your site. They also stand out in the feed, increasing the chance that someone will click, like, or repin.

Pin Better Pins

From here on out, resolve to do a better job with pinning. For your own content, make sure your images have keyword-rich image names and a good description built into the alternative (alt) text. With anything you pin from your site, write a thoughtful description which should include a personal thought, “I can’t wait to make this for my kids! 3 recipes for a healthy school lunch.” as well as a subtle call to action, such as the URL to the article.

Be more particular about the images you pin. Are they attractive? Are they vertical? If you love it but it’s not ideal, you can make your own with Canva or your favorite image editor. When pinning from websites or repinning, you don’t have to settle for the description that pops up. Make it better!

Oh, and always, always check before you repin – make sure the pin does not lead to a spammy site. There’s no quicker way to lose your fellow pinners’ trust. On the other hand, if you consistently pin well, you might find other pinners trust you and will repin your pins more often. I have a few pinners who I completely trust – I know I never have to check their sources. It saves me time and increases their exposure.

Delete Underperforming Boards You Don’t Use

Did pinning about MySpace seem like a good idea at one time? If you’ve lost interest and so has everyone else, you might as well delete it.

The same thing goes for group or collaborative boards. If you accepted too many invitations and now you just can’t keep up, leave the ones that aren’t paying off.

Now you can concentrate on your remaining high-quality boards. Pin the best pins possible and you’ll never need to consider spending your time on tactics like deleting pins.

5 Tactics for Brands Playing Catch-up on Social-Media Marketing

22 Jun

The best marketers have an uncanny ability to reject conventional wisdom and still succeed. Their approach is often just crazy enough that it works, winning fans, friends and, most importantly, customers.

For brands that are new to social media, or have been hesitant to invest in it due to how crowded and competitive it has become, here are five unorthodox marketing strategies that will deliver the brand awareness and sales your business needs.

1. For organically shareworthy content, invest in SlideShare.

While everyone else is caught up on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, you can spend time in the relatively unchartered waters of SlideShare. On SlideShare, small businesses — not just platform power users — can receive the visibility they deserve if their presentation is featured on the website’s homepage or embedded onto other websites.

With almost no money spent on advertising and little promotional effort on our part, a number of presentations we uploaded to SlideShare went viral. Of the 10 SlideShares we published, eight received more than 10,000 views and three had more than 30,000.

Create a standalone presentation that tells a compelling story even in the absence of talking points and notes for each slide. Add it to SlideShare and watch as it racks up views, downloads and embeds.

2.No audience, no worries. Leverage others’ followings.

Most social media strategies require a heavy upfront investment in building your fanbase and followers list. Of course, when you do earn a large enough audience, you will need to spend energy and time maintaining consumer mindshare while constantly competing with other brands for customer attention. But that is a long game only few businesses can afford to play.

Take advantage of the unique audience relationships and the widespread distribution that social media influencers have. They’ve already done the heavy lifting, so why would you?

3. Circumvent Twitter’s 140-character limit.

A tweet can only fit 140-characters but a picture can literally fit 1,000 words. Take a screenshot of a quote or text you want to reference and you won’t need to cut it up into multiple tweets. The image itself will be a welcome change of pace to your followers who might otherwise have overlooked the five different tweets you posted because you decided to copy-and-paste all of the sections that mattered.

Video works just as well, too. Use different types of media to get around Twitter’s 140-character limit, thus allowing you to share more in-depth messages within every tweet.

4. Use an old media strategy: product placement.

One of the oldest tricks in the advertising book — product placements — has come to social media. Brands that have decided to tap influencers look for more than pithy endorsements. Subtle product placements end up becoming extremely successful brand integrations.

Fortunately, marketplaces such as Grapevine (for YouTube),HelloSociety (for Pinterest), Niche (for Vine), and theAmplify (for Instagram and Snapchat) make it easy to find and work with the right social media personalities to reach millennials who will rave about your products.

5. Say something quirky or outrageous.

If you have an intimate understanding of who your audience is, you are well positioned to do and say things that are a little bold without offending anyone. Avoid insulting your fans and followers, but do play to their emotions with wit.

In the past, we have seen Charmin cleverly use potty jokes to get everyone excited about toilet paper. Dollar Shave Club provided plenty of shock value with the unabashed sales pitch, “Our Blades Are F***ing Great.” EAT24, now owned by Yelp, advertised on adult sites and lived to tell the world about it. These calculated risks resulted in praise and quality customer engagement. You can play it safe on social media by being a little quirky first before doing anything outrageous. Either way, folks will love it.