Categories
Blog SEO

10 Stats to Justify SEO

This post was originally published on Search Engine Journal

Have you seen the potential of SEO but are struggling to convince your boss or colleagues?

You are not alone. SEO can often be viewed as a difficult, techy oddity, and not something that every company needs. Small-scale businesses often think they won’t benefit from spending money on online marketing.

To help you explain the potential of SEO and justify your request for increased spending, I’ve compiled this list of 10 statistics that I find particularly compelling:

1 – There are over two billion people online

A study by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) discovered that the number of internet users across the globe has now exceeded two billion.

In 2010 alone, more than 226 million people came online for the first time. Market researcher IDC predicts that by 2015, an astounding 2.7 billion people worldwide will be online.

That’s about 40% of the world’s population, which is a lot of potential customers.

2 – 38 million of them are in the UK

If your business doesn’t want to target international business, then your boss may not care about the rapidly growing number of internet users in the developing world. But even so, the numbers for the UK market are compelling.

Research from the Office for National Statistics shows that 38 million UK adults used the web last year. Of those, more than 30 million accessed the internet at least once a day.

You’d pay a lot of money to have a shop on a street that had that kind of footfall!

3 – 31 million are actively shopping online

The ONS study found that 31 million people purchased goods or services online in the 12 months to August 2010.

What’s more, the higher their income, the more likely they are to use the web. The research body found that 98% of people with an income exceeding £41,600 used the internet. That compares to just 69% of adults with an income of less than £10,399.

So, many of your potential customers are using the internet to shop – and the wealthier they are, the more likely they are to do so.

4 – These customers spend hours online

On average, an online adult in the UK spends 22 hours and 15 minutes on the internet each month, according to the UK Online Measurement Company (UKOM).

That’s an increase of 65% compared to just three years ago. Interestingly, 22.7% of that time is spent accessing social networks and blogs, showing just how important a social marketing campaign is alongside your SEO efforts.

5 – People spend billions online

Despite the economic woes, spending online continues to grow. In August 2011 alone, UK shoppers spent £5.2 billion on the web, according to the IMRG/Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

That’s 14% more than in the same month, the previous year.

6 – 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine

So, people are spending a lot of time and money online. But does that necessarily mean that you need SEO?

The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. A study by Forrester from 2006 found that 93% of all internet traffic comes from a search engine. You cannot afford to be missing out on that many potential visitors.

7 – Google dominates all

Although you should rank for all search engines, it makes sense to prioritise Google.

Google received more than 92% of search engine traffic in 2010, according to Statcounter.com. The runner up, Bing, gained just 3.17% of search engine traffic.

Such a compelling statistic also shows that it’s a good idea to funnel paid search spending towards Google.

8 – Customers click on top-ranking links

If you operate in a niche market then you are potentially already appearing on the first page of the search results for the major keywords.

This might make you think that it’s not worth investing in SEO to drive you to the very top of the results pages.

But you’d be wrong. A study by Optify showed that the top ranking website has an average click-through rate of 37%, while 60% of the clicks go to the top three results.

9 – Britons are online on the go

If you want to target customers on the move, you might be advertising on buses and in free papers. But market research agency IDC has predicted that soon more users will access the web through their mobile phones than through computers.

And according to the Office for National Statistics, 71% of 16 to 24-year-olds are accessing the internet using their handsets, so clearly you should be advertising to them online.

Who needs a poster on the bus?

10 – 41% of businesses are winning customers using social media

A successful SEO campaign works hand in hand with a social media strategy – and it’s never been more important to be targeting customers socially.

Research by workplace provider Regus shows that 41% of UK firms are successfully winning customers through their social networking efforts. Not only that, but 48% use social platforms to engage with their existing customers.

Your SEO spending will boost your social marketing – winning you business through two different channels.

Categories
Blog SEO

Mobile Search, a Missed Opportunity for SMEs

This post was originally published on Search Engine Journal

With Internet use on smartphones set to overtake desktop browsing by early 2013, it is surprising that businesses—big and small—are not taking full advantage of mobile search.

A recent study by telecommunications giant T-Mobile indicates that 46 percent of local businesses are not visible when users search via smartphones. For those local businesses that took the step to improve visibility for smartphones saw the benefits, with 44 percent experiencing more customer inquiries.

With the time for mobile revolution apparently being now, here are some techniques to help SMEs take advantage of mobile search and get ahead of their competitors.

Local Listings

Both Google and Bing provide free local listings in Google+ Local and Bing for Business. Setting up and completing these local profiles will enhance your company’s visibility within the SERPs for certain local keywords.

Although this seems obvious to the majority of online marketers, only 16 percent of local businesses had registered their business on Google+ Local (formally Google Places).

Local profiles are not restricted to Google+ Local or Bing for Businesses. There are plenty of other local profiles that SMEs should be adding their business to, including:

  • Yelp
  • Brownbook
  • Hotfrog
  • Crunchbase

When creating local profiles, it is imperative that you use the same information on all websites. This includes supplying the same address and phone number across the board.

Using Getlist.org, you can quickly determine which local listings your company is visible on and how you can improve.

Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

Making your website easily accessible on multiple devices is becoming a necessity with the vast range of desktops, tablets, and smartphones that are available. With 70 percent of users taking action within an hour of completing a search on their smartphone, creating a mobile-friendly website becomes a far more appealing prospect.

With the majority of SME businesses using open source CMS platforms such as WordPress, Drupal, or Magento, making your website mobile friendly can be extremely easy. For WordPress websites, I have found WP-Touch as a good way to make sites mobile friendly, while I have used the “mobile plugin” module for Drupal.

For those that have a hand-coded website, services such as Telnames can be a better option, providing a mobile-optimized, top-level domain to run alongside the normal website.

Make sure that your mobile-friendly website URL (or .tel) has been added to your local listings to provide the user with the best possible experience when searching via a mobile device.

Optimize for Mobile & Local Search

With Google indicating that over half of all search queries on a mobile phone have local intent, it is essential that you optimize your website for your local area.

There are many factors to consider when optimizing your website for local search. David Mihm’s Local SEO factors survey provides some great information on what people consider to be the most important ranking factors.

Some factors from the survey include:

  • Business address
  • Location targeted keywords
  • Local citations
  • Location in title tag

What techniques have you used to improve your SME visibility in mobile search? Are you seeing an increase in mobile search traffic to your SME? I look forward to hearing your comments below or on twitter @danielbianchini.

Categories
Blog SEO

CRM Software to Improve Online Marketing

This post was originally published on Search Engine Journal

Over the past few months I have been concentrating on improving my time management skills with the introduction of a number of different tools and processes. During that time I noticed CRM software becoming more integrated with online marketing tools and wanted to share those with you.

Online Marketing CRM Integration

Using CRM tools, like Workbooks CRM (the one we use in our office), not only allows you to manage customer relationships, but it also gives you the ability to measure campaign ROI across all of your marketing channels simultaneously, from direct mail to SEO and PPC.

The main benefit of a CRM system is that it takes the sales process through to completion, rather than just providing a snap shot of performance of a limited part of the process. For example, where the sales process continues past the online environment, systems such as AdWords and Analytics only show you a snap shot, such as the number of leads generated. A CRM system will take this to completion and show the number of those leads that resulted in a sale.

CRM systems allow you to marry actual sales and budget information with your AdWords and Analytics data to show ROI down to keyword level. This will then allow you to identify your key terms and aid decision-making when considering where to spend both your PPC and SEO budgets.

Another key benefit is that it can help with multi-touch attribution, making your ROI calculations even more accurate. Most systems will keep a record of all communication; for example, if a single user goes through the following steps:

  1. a user visits via a PPC for a non-brand term
  2. they return later via an organic brand term
  3. the user signs up for the company newsletter
  4. the user clicks through from an offer on the newsletter and finds the phone number
  5. the user calls and makes a purchase

In this example the sale may be attributed to the phone sales team or potentially the newsletter, but in reality at least partial credit needs to go to the PPC ad that was the initial visit method. An effective CRM will allow you to do this.

BuzzStream for Blogger Outreach

Blogger Outreach and relationship building is one of the most beneficial ways to build contextual links to your site.
The tool that I have used in the past for this type of work is BuzzStream. What I liked about BuzzStream is that it is a database driven CRM system specifically for blogger outreach and reduces the need for spreadsheets (bonus!).
There have been lots of posts on how to use BuzzStream from the likes of Paddy Moogan, so I won’t go into that, but I did want to talk about the use of CRM.
I believe one of the best features with BuzzStream, apart from the fact it is an awesome blogger outreach tool, is using the CRM features.

Track Twitter Conversations

Building relationships via social media channels such as Twitter is a large part of the blogger outreach process, so having a record of that communication is a great help.

BuzzStream tracks Twitter messages sent between you and your contacts, adding them automatically to your contact record for future reference.

Direct Email

Once you have started to create a relationship via your social media channels, it will be time to get in direct contact via email.

BuzzStream provides you with the option to email direct from BuzzStream, BCC or forward emails to be added to your contact record. This allows you to easily see who you have contacted and what was said, making it easier to refer back to past conversations.

Automated Workflow Management

Depending on the stage of the communication process, and whether you have managed to generate a link, BuzzStream will automatically change the “Relationship Stage”.
The relationship stage is a great way to manage at what part of the communication you have reached and whether you have managed to build a link or have a guest post accepted.
These are just these areas of BuzzStreams CRM software that I found to be of particular use, but I could go on. I recommend that you go and take a look yourself by signing up for a trial.

Social CRM

Social CRM has been a hot topic for a while now. Social CRM is essentially an extension of your existing CRM system with the ability to populate social media conversation.
The Social CRM could be used by multiple departments within a business to listen to conversations, create messages and join in with relevant conversation immediately.

Benefits of Socal CRM

  • Making the company more personable, so the customer regards the business as a trusted peer.
  • Ensuring that the customer only has to give details once, although spoken to by multiple departments.
  • Transform good and bad customer experiences into relationships based on customer engagement.

Brands such as Workbooks and Microsoft Dynamic are great CRM systems, Salesforce and Appirio are leading the way in Social CRM.
Above are just a few ways that CRM systems are being used in online marketing. Are you using any of the above or can you recommend any that you are currently using? Could you now work without your CRM software if required? I look forward to hearing your thoughts below in the comments or on Twitter @danielbianchini.

Categories
Blog SEO

5 Tools for Creating Awesome SEO Reports

This post was originally published on Search Engine Journal

Do you spend hours hacking around Microsoft Excel every month to create a compelling SEO report for your clients, knowing that they are probably not going to get read or even opened?

In my post below I have provided five tools that can help improve your SEO reports, taking them from being the standard Excel spreadsheet to a report that can be given to anybody at any level within your client’s organisation.

ShufflePoint

Price: Offers three different pricing plans – 30 day trial available.

Shufflepoint is a web-based application that integrates directly into Google Analytics to provide reports straight into Microsoft Powerpoint, Excel or bespoke gadgets.

Since using Shufflepoint to create SEO reports, things have become so much simpler. By connecting directly to Google Analytics I am able to create reports based on the templates supplied by Shufflepoint, or I can create customised templates with the support of their technical team.

Using the drag and drop query tool I can quickly import all the relevant data from Google Analytics directly to either Powerpoint or Excel in a visually pleasing format. Once the data has been imported I work through the document adding commentary to each slide to provide the user with some text analysis alongside the graphical representation.

Although Shufflepoint’s main feature is to integrate into Google Analytics, they are continuously growing, by supporting other data driven-platforms including:

  • Google AdWords
  • ZoomRank
  • KeywordEnvy
  • Constant Contact

Another cool thing when using Shufflepoint is the auto refresh and delivery function that is installed with the application. Most of the reports generated have the same top level metrics, and this means that each month I am copying and pasting the same charts and graphs. With the auto refresh and delivery feature the reports are automatically updated, leaving me only having to analyse the data downloaded and write detailed commentary to accompany the graphs created.

Creating SEO reports previously took a lot of time, but since I have been using Shufflepoint my reporting time has been reduced, allowing us to concentrate more on the actual work.

Analytics Canvas

Price: Starts at $49 a month + free trial

Analytics Canvas allows you to bring multiple Google Analytics accounts, profiles and campaigns together all under one dashboard.
One of the most frustrating things I find when generating reports for large clients is the tooing and froing from analytics accounts and profiles. Large websites tend to have multiple analytics accounts for different areas of their website but want reporting based on the entire website.

Analytics Canvas allows us to import Google Analytics data in from multiple accounts to a single dashboard to analyse a combined data set, as well as individual profiles. By using the Analytics Canvas data blocks to combine, filter and drill down into the data gathered, you are able to carry out a more thorough analysis.

Once you have created multiple dashboards and utilised the data blocks to their full potential you can export all the data to Excel to create visual representations of the data in the way of graphs and charts.

I have used Analytics Canvas for generating large data sets to analyse and find trends across multiple websites that you might not otherwise be able to see. Using the full power of Analytics Canvas has allowed me to find and provide information to clients that might not necessarily have been identified previously.
The reports generated have saved a large amount of time, but most of all have allowed us to improve our reporting to our clients.

Workbooks CRM

Price: Free

Workbooks is a web-based CRM system which, as well as its obvious customer management uses, has some great SEO and PPC applications.

Traditional reporting tools can only show you a limited part of the buying cycle; you get as far as clicks or conversions (whatever they may be) but no further, and for a lot of sites this won’t show the whole picture. For example, if the aim of your site is to generate leads through an online form you may track conversions as someone filling in a form. While this is useful, it doesn’t take into account the quality of the lead generated. It may be that what you thought was the best keyword to focus on (because it generates the most leads), is actually the worst, as none of the conversions are of good enough quality. Unconverted leads won’t generate any ROI.
This is the gap that Workbooks fills in your reporting. Using cookies, Workbooks is able to track from first touch all the way through to conversion from the site, and then on to completion of the buying cycle. With all this information you are then able to produce incredibly insightful reports and calculate ROI down to keyword level, allowing better analysis of SEO and PPC campaign effectiveness and improved efficiency in the allocation of budgets. Reporting on ROI will also give the best justification of tactics and really prove your worth.

Use APIs

Price: API Dependent

Most analytics applications or reporting software will provide a free API for you (or your developer) to use. These APIs allow the developer to extract and manipulate information from a specific application or software to use as they require, providing they are within the licensing terms.

APIs become considerably more powerful when they are used alongside each other to create large data sets. Consider the information that you could get if you combined Google Analytics, Google Adwords, Raven and the MajesticSEO APIs together. Gathering information from these different areas could provide you with some very interesting data to analyse and make decisions.

The biggest advantage of using APIs for applications such as Google Analytics is that it helps you to create in-house tools or applications to extract data that you generate on a regular basis quickly and efficiently. Whether you want to upload that information to an internal network or directly into a document for further manipulation, all depends on the skill level of the developer.
Putting time and effort into learning how APIs work and how to get the most out of the web will help you create some great tools and find some interesting data.

For our clients, we currently use APIs to help us generate SEO reports that are time consuming. Using APIs alongside other 3rd party tools helps provide a more informed and actionable report.

Linkdex

Price: $49

Linkdex is an SEO tool predominately used for link building, although there are other aspects to the software including keyword ranking, task management and auditing.

The biggest asset that Linkdex possess is in its link building and prospecting suite, with some very impressive tools. What makes this tool different to all the rest on the market is that it uses the MajesticSEO index and adds an extra filter on it to remove any links deemed not to be influential. Other features, such as checking to see if the link still exists on a regular basis and showing a timeline of links that are built over a period of time, also stand out.

When creating SEO reports, I believe that incorporating link building progress is a must have and using the graphs and charts provided by Linkdex does exactly that.

Using the timeline chart you can see the progress of the link building campaign by seeing how many links had been created at the start of the program and how many have been built at present. This report will show the client a clear indication of how many influential links have been built to their website. Another good report to show is the site type reports, which splits all your links by the type of platform that they are built on. If you use this report and compare your site to your nearest competitor you can see where you might need to improve by identifying areas that they are stronger in.

Using Linkdex’s link building reports to add to your SEO report will provide a more thorough link building analysis to your client. Since link building is a very important part of SEO, it is imperative that some kind of analysis is included, and if they aren’t already then you should definitely do so moving forward.