Content is King in website marketing

content-is-king

For a long time now, most web folks have known that “Content is King”. What does that mean? Great content can get visitors to your website. Great content can keep people on your website. Great content gets people to link to your website. Great content can get search engines to rank you well. Keeping content fresh can help maintain your good search engine results (SERPs).

What do I mean by content?

The content I’m referring too can be text, products, photos, videos, social media, blogs, white papers, comments, polls, rankings and anything else that adds something to your website.

What makes content so important?

As a search engine optimization (SEO) geek I know, right after the very basics like meta information, the most important thing to consider in trying to rank high is content. The search engines love text, especially when it is relevant and supports the rest of the websites content. By relevant I mean, adding a chocolate chip cookie recipe to an architecture website probably won’t help your relevancy. Adding an article about computer aided design (CAD) might.

Google will tell you that one way to get better rankings on search engines is having quality inbound links to your site. You can hire a link building person to scour the web looking for opportunities, or you can develop content that someone might be interested in linking too. I hate the term but “Link Bait”, or creating content with the intent to encourage links, is a great way to increase where you rank in the SERPs.

Besides the search engines, believe it or not visitors to your site like good content. Using the example above, let’s say a visitor comes to your architecture website and the first page they come across is an article on chocolate chip cookies. The likelihood of the visitor staying on the site is low; the likelihood of them turning into a conversion is even lower. Alternately, if you have content the visitor is interested in, they are much more likely to stay or comeback.

Where can I get great content?

The biggest problem with great content is getting great content. Most companies don’t have the resources such as technical writers and content marketing specialist on staff. It can be expensive to generate and maintain content. In an article I came across on eConsultancy entitled, “Your company is awash with great content” they demonstrate all the resources companies can leverage. Below is an exert from that article listing resources you might not have thought of.

Hiding in powerpoint decks. Sales decks, investor presentations, process-focused slides…

Inside the heads of your people. Not just your smartest or most senior people; your front-line sales and support people too; and your product people.

In customer communications. Your customers are a prime source of Grade A content. Almost every interaction has at least the germ of a blog post.

In sales proposals. The things you use to get people to take out their checkbooks.

In promotional bumf. These days, marketers discount all those data sheets and product brochures and case studies as ‘old-school’ content. But there’s gold in those pdfs (if you’ve got the pan to swish it out).

In what other people say about your world. Journalists, bloggers, analysts and experts are all paid (in one way or another) to secrete content. Get your paper towels out.

In everyday working docs. Those banal process documents meeting reports, project summaries and status updates.

In emails. Your email store is absolutely packed with content ready to discover and unleash. In your In box and your Sent folder. Internal emails. External emails. Marketing emails. Viagra spam. (Okay, maybe not Viagra spam – although I did once write a post on it).

In your social channels. Stop tweeting and just listen to every one else’s tweets for a few hours. Dig under the self-promotional layer in every LinkedIn group. Peel back the social veneer of Facebook. Shine a light into the darker corners of YouTube, Slideshare and Pinterest.

What makes great content?

That is a difficult question to answer. The short of it is, it’s different for every website, company, market, etc. My suggestion is do your research. Figure out what your customers are reading, viewing, liking, retweeting and do more of that. Posting one article will not help, be consistent. Ask your sales people or heaven forbid, ask your customers what they might be interested in seeing. Having great, relevant content is not easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it.

Announcing the launch of the redesigned BrandiJackson.com and brand new JoeWatsonLaw.com

Joe Watson Law, Greenville, SCGreenville, SC – We are pleased to announce the launch of a brand new web presence for Joe Watson Law. The new website features Joe’s extensive experience as a Chief Prosecutor and Circuit Court Judge. The Greenville, South Carolina attorney specializes in Criminal Defense and Serious Personal Injury.

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Brandi Jackson Golf, Greenville, SCGreenville, SC – Brandi Jackson, professional golfer, and web|aggression are excited to announce the redesign of BrandiJackson.com. The new website refocuses on Brandi’s career helping junior golfers, assisting in their college recruiting, giving golf lessons and facilitating golf clinics. The site also features Brandi’s blog, a biography and testimonials.

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News Flash: Great Web Traffic and Great SEO Rankings Do Not Get You Sales.

Great Web Traffic and Great SEO Rankings Doesn't Get You Sales

I work with businesses of all sizes. Some are very “web savvy” others not so much. I find a common thread through many of these businesses: they are under the illusion that if they are #1 on Google they’ll get all the traffic and therefore all the sales they can handle. WRONG! There are so many more factors.

Keywords
I’ve talked before about keyword selection, but for our purposes here I summarize with an example. Let’s say you sell widgets and your companies name is “ABC Manufacturing”. You might rank #1 in the search engines (SEs) for “ABC Manufacturing” but are no where to be found for “widgets”. Even if you were ranked well on the search engine results pages (SERPs) for “widgets”, it is such a broad term it is unlikely to convert very often. I say this to point out that you may have a #1 ranking but that ranking my not give you great traffic or sales if no one is searching it.

Before we continue, I will give you this: if you are #1 on the SEs for a great keyword that is relevant to your product, you should get great traffic.

Traffic
So, you have researched your market and have decided that “widgets” is the number one target. As I touched on above, a high ranking in the SERPs for “wigets” may indeed garner great traffic numbers but that can be deceiving. If you focus exclusively on “widgets”, in most case (and all that I have dealt with) you will not necessarily get sales. In a previous post I discussed Traffic vs Conversion, where I discussed how while short keywords can get traffic numbers long keyword strings get conversions. This is not rocket science. If someone is beginning there search for a widget they may not know much about those products. They might start with a basic search engine search by typing “widgets”, right? As they become more familiar with the type of widgets that are available they might search some thing more specific like “home widgets”. As they become even more familiar they might type “stainless steel kitchen widgets”, follow me? The more specific the keyword term used, the closer that consumer is to making a purchase (it is true, trust me). In an ideal scenario, when that customer does their first search for “widgets”, your website comes up. Then when they do the following searches, your website comes up as well. With that said, if I had to choose between a customer searching for “widgets” and a customer searching for “stainless steel kitchen widgets” (assuming that is the type of widgets I sell), I choose the long keyword term every day and twice on Sunday. So just because you get great traffic that doesn’t necessarily mean you will get conversions to sales.

Website Design
OK, now your getting great traffic to your website because you’ve targeted your long keyword terms and you are ranked highly in the SERPs. You’ve got all this traffic and when the customers get to you website, IT SUCKS! You can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars (through search engine optimization (SEO) or pay per click (PPC)) getting traffic to your website, but if it is poorly designed they still might not purchase. “Poorly designed”? What do I mean? Everything from the users interface (UI), how they navigate the site, how the product is displayed, the aestetics of the site, all of that plays a roll. I don’t even want to talk about the stability of a website. If the site crashes constantly or gives the users errors, see ya, they are leaving. When selling anything online you have to have the consumers trust. The aren’t going to give their credit card number to some shady looking site that doesn’t function properly. You can build that trust by having a well designed and functional site. I’ll briefly mention it here, but does your website properly “funnel” the customer to where you want them to go? I plan to delve into that in a future post, but funneling in website terms, in this case anyway, is the process of leading the customer to the purchase button.

Ecommerce
So, now you are doing awesome. You picked your keywords well, you optimized you website and have good rankings, your getting good relevant traffic for you product and you website is doing its job and getting the customer to click purchase. Well, there is still a lot to worry about. How is your purchase process? Does it require too much information? Does it have too many steps? Are you bogging them down with up sells (can you say godaddy.com)? An ecommerce experience should be as seamless as if they called a great customer services representative. I look at a lot of analytics for a lot of websites and I know when there is a problem. You can see it clear as day. Customers get so far along in the purchase process and then they just leave the site. Sometimes it is more obvious why then others. Either way, 99 times out of 100, there is someone else out there selling a product just like yours and if people get frustrated, they’ll bounce.

Conclusion
All of things build on one another. Don’t just focus on traffic or rankings, in the end the bottom line is sales. Great keyword selection and web site optimization can lead to great traffic. Great traffic and website design can lead to great conversions (purchase buttons clicked). A great ecommerce solutions (great customer services) will lead to happy customer who will give you sales.

Now if your product sucks, you are on your own.

Announcing the launch of a newly redesigned website for Osborn Contract Services.

Osborn Contract ServicesGreer, SC – We are excited to announce the launch of a newly redesigned web presence for Osborn Contract Services, Inc (OCS). OCS, a restoration and coating solutions providers, offers its services throughout the southeast. The new website features an easy to use content management system(CMS). Additionally, the website was built to improve the companies presence on the search engines by improving the internal linking of rich content.

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We are pleased to announce the launch of Kelly Imaging Group's new website and Todd Rudisill, Inc's redesigned site.

We are pleased to announce two website launchings. Kelly Image Group, LLC. has launched a brand new website and  Todd Rudisill, Inc. has launched their redesigned website.

 

Mobile On-site Cardiac and Vascular Ultrasound, Upstate South Carolina. Kelly Imaging Group provides mobile cardiac and vascular ultrasound services. The group will also provide sonographer staffing services and will operate in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. The brand new website is fully dynamic with a custom content management system (CMS) and integrated search engine optimization (SEO).

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Todd Rudisill landscape and design launches redesigned websiteTodd Rudisill, Inc. is a landscape design and lawn maintenance company based in Greenville, South Carolina. Todd provides many services including: drainage, irrigation installation, mulching, cement paver installation, outdoor living space installations and many others. The website redesign is fully dynamic with a custom CMS and also has integrated SEO to improve search engine rankings.

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How do I drive traffic that converts using SEO? Keyword selection!

Search engine optimization (SEO) is very important for any website, most would agree with that. There are many aspects to good SEO but here I am going to focus on just one, keyword targeting and selection.

I will assume for purposes of this post that you already have quality content on your website (which we know is a must for good rankings). Keyword targeting and selection, in my opinion, is the second most important aspect to search engine optimization (SEO), behind your content. Meta tags, link building, alt tags, html, CSS, load time, I could go on and on, but none of these are more important then selecting the right keywords.

So the question was, how do I drive traffic that converts? Start with a list of keywords that you think your customers would type into a search engine if they were looking for you on the web. Try to think from their perspective and not yours. Years of being in your industry and looking at the competition in your vertical can give you valuable insight, but look elsewhere. Ask a friend that isn’t involved in your industry; ask a family member who lives in different part of the country. Here’s a novel idea, ask your customers. If you have an ecommerce site or contact form ask how they found your site. Another great resource is pay per click campaigns. If your company has ever done PPC advertising, login to the account look at what drove the most sales or traffic to your site.

While you are making your list try to think of every variation of that keyword including misspellings. For example, if your keyword is “lake front properties” you could also target “lake front homes”, “water front properties”, “vacation homes”, “lake properties”, “lake front land”, etc.

I have written before about long tail keywords versus short tail keywords and their importance. I stated in that post that I think you should target short tail keywords first. Why? Just read the article, gosh.

So now that you have your list you have to narrow it down, at least initially. Start with the most relevant keywords, preferably long tail and start integrating those into your campaign. ***WARNING: This isn’t going to happen over night.*** Sorry, I had to do that but seriously you have to be patient. Keep watching your analytics, see what keywords are driving traffic. If you don’t have software that can track your sales from their origin be sure to ask your costumers what search engine and what keywords they used. You’ll be surprised how many will remember. Keep track, in a spread sheet if you have to.

Bad Keywords
While you are finding your good keywords, avoiding the bad ones is just as important. Many times in the years that I have been doing this I have found keywords that drive great traffic but never convert to a sale. Usually this means that keyword is very popular (you might even have a good ranking for it) but you don’t have the content to support it. If you go into your analytics most likely you have a ton of page views but your page views per session is low and bounce rates are very high. This is a keyword to avoid unless you develop content that is more in line with the keyword. A good example is a small home builder targets “mansion home builder” but all the homes on his site are tiny. A customer isn’t going to stick around very long and some can even get angry. Neither of these options is ideal.

Summary
Choose your keywords carefully, using every resource that is at your disposal. Order your keyword list by relevancy to your product. Begin targeting the long tail keywords first. Patience. Patience. Patience. Research. Research. Research. Then continue to fine tune to the campaign. Using the right keywords, you will get those conversions. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to use the comments area below this post.

Big Fat Fail: A Quick Rant on Bad SEO and Bad Marketing

big fat fail
I have lived in the upstate of South Carolina for 13 years now. I have seen small businesses come and go. Some stick around some close down almost immediately. Its beautiful here in Greenville today,  so I decided to walk down our bustling Main Street to grab some lunch. I passed a relatively new restaurant and mad a note of the URL for their website. My thinking was to stop by there the next time, but first check their menu on the web.

After lunch, back in my office, instead of typing in the URL exactly, I did a search. I typed the companies exact name, street and city. Nothing (relevant to this restaurant anyway)! That blows my mind, who would build a site and not use even the barest fundamentals of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to show up in the SERPs (search engine results page)? It never suprises me that these are always the businesses that close down soon after opening. I am not saying that there is an exact correlation, just that in every case I have seen in this town they have closed. I am not mentioning the name of the business because I really hope they make it.

By the way, I typed in the actual URL exactly as advertised and it didn’t resolve to a website. I check the WHOIS (a database of all domain names and who owns them) and they didn’t even own the domain that they were advertising. ARE YOU SERIOUS!?!

FYI, I went back just make sure I had the URL right, I did. UNBELIEVABLE!

SEO Battle Part II: Traffic vs. Conversions

traffic-v-conversion
Using quality search engine optimization (SEO) most certainly will drive traffic to your site. My question is; once you get that customer to your site, do they convert?

Conversions
When you create or re-design your website you should always have a goal of what you are trying to drive your visitors to do or where you are trying to “funnel” them. I sure hope that you have a clear idea of the purpose or goal of your site by this point (fingers crossed). For the purposes of this post a conversion is whatever you are trying to get the visitor to your website to do. If you sell widgets then your goal might be to get the customer to click the “purchase” button or the “complete sale” button. If you offer a service then your goal might be for them to fill out a contact form or to call your office. Even if your websites’ purpose is to serve advertisements and the more traffic the more ads, I would still argue your goal should be a click on that ad.

Traffic
Many people look at SEO as a solution to drive traffic to their website, and they would be right. There is no doubt optimizing your site for the search engines will drive traffic, but is your SEO campaign driving traffic that converts? This is a really important question. As stated earlier the goal of most any site should be to convert. You can have 100 million unique visitors a month but if you are not converting that traffic you end up with a big hosting bill and empty pockets.

Let’s look at two sites selling widgets. The first site has 100 million monthly visitors and 100 conversions; the second has 1000 monthly visitors and 100 conversions. Which website would you choose? To get these numbers the first site targets thousands of keywords some convert to sale and some are really not even relevant to the company’s product. The second site only targets keywords that are highly relevant to their product and that convert.

In this hypothetical I would choose the second site in most cases. Why? Conversion rate and resources. The conversion rate of site two is exponentially better then the first. I would prefer to minimize the amount of resources (time, money, effort) I use and fine tune my optimization to only target keywords that convert. I can then use all those resources elsewhere, like improving my product or my websites usability.

Traffic vs. Conversions Conclusion
Obviously, without traffic you will have no conversions so traffic is important. In this scenario I would argue conversions win the battle. Lots of traffic takes lots of resources (all the things SEO people do). Targeting every keyword in your vertical even ones that are that relevant to your product not only won’t convert but can have negative impact. When customers come to your site and don’t find what they are looking for they likely won’t be back.

Sure, there is a lot of room for debating my conclusion but that is what’s fun about blogging. What do you think?

In the future SEO posts:
How do I drive traffic that converts using SEO?
How do I know what keywords convert?
What else can I do to convert web traffic to sales?

SEO: What kind of keywords should you target? Long Tail versus Short Tail.

seo, short tail keywords vs long tail keywords

Ideally in search engine optimization (SEO) you will target both long tail and short tail keywords, but which are more important and which should you target first?

Short Tail Keywords
A short tail keyword is usually one or two word combinations that your customers put into a search engine to search for your product or service. An example of a short tail keyword would be “computer” or “laptop computer”.

Long Tail Keywords
A long tail keyword is usually three or more word combinations. An example of long tail would be “windows xp laptop computer” or “apple Mac book pro laptop”.

Compared
Long tail usually generate much more traffic to your website but top rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs) are much harder to achieve. Short tails generally provide less traffic but are much easier to establish in the search engines (SEs).

With all that said, which is more important and which should you target? In my opinion, you should start with the short tail especially if you are launching a new web site or product. The short tail keywords provide more qualified traffic (more to come in a future post) and are easier to target. Furthermore, by targeting the long tail keyword such as “windows xp laptop computer” you also target the short tail keywords, “laptop computer”.

This is the first post in a series of SEO “VERSUS” battles. Short tail wins this one!