Sunday, December 30, 2012

Five Huge Website Mistakes

It doesn’t matter what kind of whiz-bang special effects you have on your site if traffic isn’t arriving or, if it is, they’re not staying around long enough to convert. There is an infinite amount of ways for websites to either under-perform or simply do nothing but avoiding these five mistakes can go a long way toward pushing your website higher in search engine rankings and converting the traffic that arrives from them.

* A “build it and they will come” mentality – Having a great, functional site is only half battle in terms of maximizing its performance. The site needs to be search engine marketed as well. Starting with keyword research to determine the most cost effective keywords and phrases to focus on, developing a search engine marketing strategy is absolutely mandatory in order to get this targeted traffic.

* Landing pages that aren’t relevant to the keywords which drive traffic - First time visitors typically take between three and seven seconds to decide whether to stay on the a site or leave because they haven’t found what they’re looking for. Putting relevant content on a the landing page so that it’s the first thing a visitor sees greatly increases the chances that the visitor will stay because the site is going to provide information that he or she is trying to find.

* E-commerce sites that have an unclear path to conversion – Potential consumers can get scared off a purchase if the process is too confusing. The highest conversion ratios are found on sites with a clear call to action and a process of making a purchase which is clear and easy to follow.

* Using keywords and keyphrases that are too broad – High traffic numbers which are bouncing off of the site quickly can be an indication that a search engine marketing campaign needs to be re-focused to narrower and perhaps longer keyphrases to deliver specifically targeted traffic. This issue can usually be resolved during the keyword research phase.

* Building a site that doesn’t build trust – A high bounce rate out of a site’s shopping cart can indicate that purchasers are changing their minds due to the perceived danger of providing their financial information in order to make a purchase. Consider adding a secure socket layer (SSL) which encrypts the consumer’s information.  
              
The Gervais Group builds and markets websites that get visitors and converts them. For more information, visit www.GervaisGroupLLC.com or call (770) 529 2262.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Combining Search Engine Optimization, Sponsored Ads, and Pay per Click Strategies

Once the decision has been made to use search engine marketing to raise the ranking and visibility of a site, the next question asked is, “What are the best and fastest ways get results?” Considering that search engine results pages are essentially divided into two parts, organic results and paid advertising, it usually makes sense to employ both for optimal results. In fact, paid advertising has two options in itself, presenting a total of three options to market a website. These options are:

* Search Engine Optimization – Aimed at achieving high rankings in the organic search section of the results pages, SEO is an online and on-site marketing strategy made up of several different elements. These elements include keyword research, the creation of off-site content such as blogs, press releases, and articles, on-site optimization, and link building. This process, unless a site is operating in a micro-niche with little in the way of competition, yields optimal results when left to an experienced SEO company due to the time, expertise, and labor required to execute a successful strategy. In the view of many, the biggest drawback of search engine optimization strategies is the length of time it takes to see results. As opposed to the immediate gratification offered by on and off-line paid advertising, getting to the front pages of organic search rankings can take weeks or even months. That being said, organic search (specifically on the front pages of the search engines) is where a growing majority of consumers go to research, find, and buy products and services. This makes the rewards of a successful search engine optimization strategy well worth the wait. For those looking for more immediate results while the search engine optimization work takes effect, the following paid advertising solutions can achieve the aforementioned instant gratification.

* Pay per Click - Found on the right hand column of the search engine results pages, Pay per Click (PPC) advertising can be combined with an SEO campaign to buy “real estate” on the front pages of the search engine results pages. Buying this real estate is done by determining the bid prices for PPC ads and making a bid which is high enough to reach the front page for the keyword or phrase selected. Once the bid has been selected and a short (about ten words) ad is created, searchers are able to see the ad on the front page for the relevant keyword or phrase as long as higher bidders for PPC spots don’t come along. From that point forward, a charge will occur each time someone clicks the ad in order to be directed to the associated website. Bid prices can vary widely depending on the level of competition for the keywords selected. This is another area where keyword research by a search engine optimization company can make a huge difference, providing a basis for avoiding expensive and competitive keywords with high bid prices, instead allowing for alternate keywords that can generate traffic without a high price tag.

* Sponsored Advertising – Search Engine Placement (SEP) is a relatively new approach to Search Engine Marketing which can actually guarantee fixed placement in the top three sponsored spots on the first page for your selected keywords. These fixed placements are found in the sponsored links/results/sites in the shaded area at the top of the search engine results pages. Unlike pay-per-click, the fixed payment guarantees a spot in the top three sponsored positions for as long as it is maintained. The fixed price eliminates issues such as exorbitant click-through fees, being out-bid, and/or being removed from an ad spot when the budget is exhausted.

While an organic search engine optimization campaign cannot be expected to deliver immediate results, adding pay-per-click and search engine placement ads can provide a front page presence while the SEO campaign gains traction. The Gervais Group is an experienced SEO company that specializes in balancing these three activities for maximum returns. For more information, visit them at www.gervaisgroupllc.com or call (770) 529 2262.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Boiling it Down to the Three Functions of Search Engine Optimized Content

The content that your prospective customers see, whether it’s on or off of your website will ultimately prove to be the key factor in whether your SEO campaigns deliver results or not. To that end, multitasking with your search engine optimized content can serve to advance your online business dramatically. SEO that works builds from a foundation of search engine optimized content which is created with three distinct functions:

* Search engine optimized content must deliver value to the readers of articles and blogs as well as the visitors who arrive at your site. Presenting quality content to prospective customers is the way you’re going to develop credibility and trust whether it is delivered via text, video, or podcast. Defining your audience and then delivering valuable information to it will ultimately lead to increased traffic that sees your site as a trusted resource.

* Search engine optimized content which caters to the search engines is the same content your prospective customers are going to see. Writing for two separate audiences, search engines and prospective customers, requires a balanced approach that many SEO’s miss. On the side of the search engines, this balance requires that content be deemed as relevant by the search spiders that visit regularly. Relevance is achieved by calculating keyword densities in the text for search terms that are being optimized. At the same time, the content must add value for the reader.

* Lastly, search engine optimized content has to deliver conversions.  Presenting informative and compelling content to visitors must occur first to develop credibility and trust which will ultimately lead to conversions. The next phase for search engine optimized content is to lead site visitors through the conversion process. This can be accomplished by guiding visitors through this process while making the purchasing of products and services as simple and easy as possible. Clear calls to action for prospective customers combined with simple navigation through the process will raise your conversion ratio by encouraging them to buy and then walking them through a quick and easy process to accomplish it. 

Successfully combining the art and science required of these functions may be somewhat challenging at first but simply being aware of what your search engine optimized content is intended to do will improve its performance drastically. Consistently creating search engine optimized content that serves these three functions will move your site up the rankings, deliver targeted traffic from search engines, and walk prospective customers through the purchasing process.  The Gervais Group can get you on the path to SEO success with your content using proven methodologies customized for your online business. For more information, visit:  http://www.gervaisgroupllc.com/

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Behind the Scenes of Successful Search Engine Optimization

For search engine optimization to be successful it has to have several different aspects working together simultaneously. These activities are critical to the success of any SEO efforts, and missing a single element can have drastic negative consequences.

In addition to implementing these activities, the many moving parts of SEO require constant monitoring to determine which strategies are working as well as those that aren’t. These moving parts can include algorithm changes at the search engines, the arrival or departure of competitors, and/or new products. Whatever the circumstances may be, the following actions are taking place (or should be) to ensure that your SEO efforts are successful.

* Initial research on search terms – It may not be the most exciting aspect of running an online business but researching winnable search terms will be one of the most important elements in the success of your website. This advance work is designed to define the search terms which are overly competitive, not trafficked, as well as those with lighter competition but ample traffic. This research enables SEO efforts to be directed toward winnable searches versus highly competitive ones while avoiding search terms which will not deliver visitors to your website..

* Link-building – Inbound links play a huge role in the algorithms used by all search engines, making this activity an important one as well. The objective here is to attract inbound links from authority sites such as CNN, AOL, and other high page rank sites as these carry the most weight with in calculating ranking algorithms. Other sites with heavy “link juice” are those with .edu and .org extensions. 

* Analyzing site activity – Analyzing what is happening on your site can reveal both the weak and strong points on the website and in SEO activities. Analysis can provide information on several areas including the search terms that are ranking, the keywords that are driving traffic, the origination of inbound links, and where the problems may exist on the website. The information gained from this analysis allows for ongoing insight into what is working and what isn’t on the website and in SEO efforts. This in turn enables weak points to be fixed while playing to the elements that are delivering successful results.

Successful search engine optimization requires constant vigilance and activity on multiple fronts in order to provide optimal results. If your SEO efforts aren’t meeting your expectations, it may be time to take a look behind the scenes to see what is and isn’t happening. For a fresh look at your SEO activities, visit: http://www.gervaisgroupllc.com/ 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Avoiding the Bad Guys in Search Engine Optimization

Thinning budgets and a slow economy have lead to budget cutbacks at many small to medium sized businesses. This, in turn, can justify the rationale to shop for the cheapest search engine optimization company available. The hook is set, for many web-based business owners, when they get a low-ball search engine optimization bid that makes the same promises as other bidders for the work, at a fraction of their prices. Feeling great about “steal” they got on their SEO campaign, these owners sign with the low-ball bidder and start anticipating their front page ranking on Google, which “should be done within forty eight hours”. The first sign of trouble usually shows itself at about the same time when there is no sign of the website on the front pages of any of the search engines and the hired company isn’t returning calls. Where this company might succeed in getting something close to the front pages is with a long keyphrase which has no chance of driving traffic. The good news is that avoiding these unfortunate circumstances is relatively simple process when one knows what to do and what to look for. Here are five ways to tell when you might be dealing with one of the bad guys in search engine optimization:

1) Take a look at the page rank of the SEO company that is bidding for your business. While search engine optimization companies exist in a very competitive space, the company that wins your business should rank in front pages of the search engines. Unethical SEO companies simply won’t be found when searched for by potential clients.

2) Watch for a company that promises or guarantees front page results. The only guarantee here is that they will not be able to back up their claims. The algorithms used by search engines to rank website pages are known by very few people, even at the search engines themselves. For that reason, a company that guarantees rankings is just telling a prospect what they want to hear in order to separate them from their money.

3) Initial contact comes in the form of an unsolicited email or from a call center. A relationship which starts with a spammed email is doomed to failure, as is one that starts with someone reading a sales script at a call center. The attention, skill, and experience required for successful search engine optimization will simply not exist at a company which initiates contact in either of these manners.

4) Watch for ridiculously low bids, especially when the deliverables are similar to a group of much higher bids. A front page ranking requires time and effort which costs money. A company which claims they can get a front page ranking for a low one-time fee or for a couple hundred dollars per month is either not doing the work or employing unethical or black hat practices. The ramifications here range from a waste of money to being de-listed by the search the search engines, which effectively puts a site out of business whether they knew about the practices or not.

5) Be wary if the company does not list a street address. The lack of a street address either means that the operation is either too small or doesn’t want to be found by their clients, probably for good reason. Run away as fast as possible.

A legitimate search engine optimization company will have years of experience, a list of satisfied clients, and proven search engine results. Additionally, a legitimate SEO company will not hesitate to tell the truth in terms of how much a successful campaign will cost. The Gervais Group has been delivering successful results for their clients for eight years. For more information, visit wwww.gervaisgroupllc.com or call (770) 529 2262.