Key Learnings from BrightonSEO

It was great to get fresh insights and learnings from BrightonSEO last week. A key take-away for us was the reaffirmation that search is still at the heart of the purchase journey with the emphasis now more than ever on the user in terms of relevancy, speed and device.

This user focus resonated with us at a strategic marketing level, and we found the discussions around speed and website load times particularly useful. As this is an issue we have been grappling with as we try to get to grips with the changing #mobilefirst search landscape.

Phew… it’s Not Just Us

And it is reassuring to know that we aren’t the only ones struggling with site loading speed across the UK. This 2018 research from Google shows that on average UK sites are still fairly slow with none of the sectors hitting the Google 3 second best practice load time recommendation.

UK Google Average Sector Speed Index 2018

The Finance and Media sectors, at 5.1 and 5.5 seconds respectively, are the closest to best practice but still have a way to go. And ironically the Technology lags at 6.8 seconds.

 

Speed Perception…

This is a useful idea to help reduce the bounce rate and enhance the user experience above the fold. It advocates that the actual load-time isn’t as important as what a user perceives the load time to be.  The priority is to give a great first impression.

Whether you adopt a progressive enhancement versus a graceful degradation approach, the important thing is that the elements (text, form, video or image) that brought the user to the page in the first instance are visible above the fold and thus give a good experience. Remembering of cause that above-the-fold may look very different on different devices, so research is needed.

 

Image Optimisation…

A key area for improving speed continues to be image optimisation. The painfully tricky act of balancing form and function with speed savings is a real struggle. And as a brand guardian having to sacrifice online image crispness to speed still makes me slightly queasy.

There were many examples and suggestions to enhance speed but the key one that we’ll be investigating further are newer image file formats, in particular, WebP and Progressive Jpegs.

Take the Test…

There are a lot of different site speed tests available, with a few new ones being touted on Friday, but our current favourite is Lighthouse from Google. It is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages and provides a practical, digestible report with recommendations based on the following areas:

  •          Web Performance (Site Speed)
  •          Progressive Web App (PWA)
  •          Accessibility
  •          Best Practices
  •          Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

So get started and take test.

In Conclusion

Another worthwhile day out at BrightonSEO! Given that SEO is a slow, granular, fairly silo’ed activity in the marketing mix with blurry ‘rules’ and a slowly shifting landscape (unless it’s ‘de-indexing week’ at Google 😊) the networking and learning opportunity that this conference provides is a welcome boon.

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article do call me on 0132 810003 or contact us.

How to select the best keywords for your B2B website

In a world of finite resources and constrained budgets, keyword research is a useful starting point to focus your B2B content creation efforts. It helps to ensure that you create relevant content that addresses the issues that matter to your prospects and drive traffic to your site.

First a gentle reminder….

Before I dive into the ‘How to’ I just need to restate the fact that if the search terms that your prospects are googling are NOT on your website, then your website will NOT appear in Google’s organic search results. This means how YOU describe your service or offering is irrelevant. Instead, what your prospective clients call it, and thus what they search for, is key. For example, your ‘CX Learning Burst’ is all well and good but if your prospective clients are looking for a ‘customer experience training course’ your page won’t rank in their search even if what you are offering is exactly what they want.

So, matching your website content to what your prospective customers are searching is key. With this in mind it would make sense to create webpages based on keyword research rather than what you think sounds good.

 

Step 1: Keyword research

Focus list of Keywords

Identify your ‘kernel’ keywords i.e. the ones that broadly define your offering. Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes and think of what words they may use to search for your product or service. If you have multiple offerings go through your website and sub-divide sections into broad topics. Then identify a few ‘kernel’ keywords for each topic. They will be the central tenets of your future keyword infrastructure.

Then see which of your website pages appears for which search term and how many click throughs you are getting to these pages – check Google Console for this information. For each keyword, you can see what the monthly impressions it gets, how many clicks you are getting and what your average position is. From this create a shortlist of keywords you want to focus on and start building website content around these keywords.

So, how else can you find out which keywords your audience are searching for?

A good starting point is in Google Ads, the tools section has the popular Keyword Planner which can help you discover new keywords. Enter your kernel words and hit the Search button and it’ll suggest associated keywords. It gives reliable search volumes i.e. shows how many people are searching for it in an average month plus suggests related keywords, and shows the level of competition in Google Ads for any given keyword. You do need to be running a Google Ads campaign to use Keyword Planner.

Supplement this with Answer the Public a useful free tool which also provides related keywords for any given topic, focusing on questions and prepositions.

And take a look at Autocomplete tools like the ones on Amazon, YouTube or Google. They are useful at providing insight into what people type while searching for info or products and services related to your offering.

Also take a look at the section called “Searches related to…” on Google at the bottom of the page. It can also be useful to find alternative keywords for your list.

Other sources could include your competitors and brainstorming with your key stakeholders

Long-tail keywords

The longer and more specific the keywords are, the higher your chances of ranking for this keyword because there is less competition. Of course, this also means that the search volume for this keyword decreases. Ignore the natural inclination to choose keywords with the highest search volume. These are usually the most competitive so unless you are a market leader with big budgets and a high Domain Authority, you are probably aiming too high.

Instead focus on ‘key phrases’ or ‘long-tail keywords’ which are longer and more specific than the most popular keywords as they are much easier to rank for. See the Google Keyword Planner tool to assess how competitive a keyword is.

Remember to weed out unsuitable or unwanted keywords during this process i.e. those keywords that are least likely to bring you traffic and conversions. Such as keywords which are not unique to your offering, are too competitive or have very low search volumes.

 

Step 2: Keywords grouping and keyword mapping

Once you have your keyword list you need to group or segment your keywords before you can use them to optimise your content and stand out from the competition.

There will undoubtedly be some overlap in the keywords you want to target. So, group keywords and key phrases into “keyword clusters” before assigning a cluster to a particular page.

There are various criteria to group them you can use; these groupings tend to work for us as B2B marketers.

  • Volume and level of competition
  • Semantics (meanings of words)
  • Search intent (where are they at in the buying cycle i.e. are, they still at the gathering information phase, or are they investigating options, or ready to buy)

User Intent Examples

Once you have segmented your list build a keyword map, so you can assign keywords to specific pages of your site. Thus, ensuring your landing pages rank for right keywords.

Suggest assigning more competitive keywords to ‘stronger’ pages like your homepage or section hubs. Buying or transactional keywords should have landing pages that allow customers and prospects to take action (for example buy, register, subscribe etc).

 

Step 3: Start using keywords on your website

Now that you have created a list of the best B2B Keywords for your website, the fun starts.

Begin by drawing up a content plan. Use your new keyword list to devise a plan that states the aim and objectives of your content creation programme detailing a schedule of when the various elements will be developed and what measurement tools, you will use to track the progress of your new keywords (impressions, click throughs and average position).

Then you can start creating content but remember quality counts. So, invest resources in creating relevant, quality content that will appeal to your prospects and reinforce your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.

Here are a few content and keyword pointers to get ahead in optimising your website…

  • Write original content and avoid duplicate content on your website. Use http://www.siteliner.com to check how much duplicate content your site has.
  • Write enough content to show Google and your prospects that you are an expert in your field, a few paragraphs about your service won’t cut it.
  • Making the intangible nature of a service tangible is what content excels at …so get cracking on case studies, FAQs, our ethos, how-we-work pages.
  •  Write with your reader in mind not Google. So, no keyword stuffing and try to use your keywords in the Title tag / H1 heading, first paragraph, sub headings, alt tags and the meta description as these placements will all help with your on-page optimisation.
  • Make your text easy to skim-read (bullet points, sub-headings, explanatory images, short paragraphs etc).

 

Good luck and if you want to discuss any of the elements raised in this article please contact us at Evolve Marketing on 01327 810003 or via our online form below.

 

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How to make your B2B online marketing more effective

To make your B2B online marketing efforts more effective you need to keep up with what is happening in the ever-changing online world.

In the B2B context it is no longer sufficient to just have a web presence. Nowadays to be found online and then to be able to convert that interest into a meaningful brand interaction, you need to be proactive. This means whether you are paying for clicks or not you need to continually be tweaking, testing and refining your online marketing efforts.

 

Search is evolving, your content needs to as well

With regards to organic search, Google has a moving feast of over 200 ranking factors that determine where your site is listed in search results. Things like voice and local search, dynamic SERP features and mobile devices continue to feed into Google’s latest algorithm updates. All of which is basically trying to ascertain how well your site helps the customer and if it is trustworthy, has expertise and authority.

So, your search engine optimisation efforts should focus on delivering this trifecta of trust, expertise and authority via a continuous programme of engagement and improvement.  Use conversion metrics to monitor your progress.

Key trends in B2B online marketing to take note of include:

Mobile First:

In March 2018 Google started rolling out its mobile first indexing. Nicknamed Mobilegeddon by some it means that Google now uses the mobile version of a web page for indexing and ranking, to better help users find what they’re looking for.

Also, FYI research from Google shows B2B buyers are researching using mobile – and thus giving it a key role in their self-directed buyer’s journey. So, prioritise mobile, make sure your B2B content is mobile accessible and delivers a frictionless experience.

Natural Language:

Voice and local search, dynamic SERP features and mobile devices continues to feed into Google’s latest algorithm updates, making the search engine a virtual mirror of human search behaviour. This means that increasingly organic, natural language is going to perform better going forward compared to awkward keyword rich copy.

Questions and Answers:

We are also seeing content that answers questions works well. Revisit the ‘which’, ‘why’ ‘when’, ‘how’ questions your prospects may be asking and frame the answers to include the question in the opening sentence and to add value, not just to flog your product or service.

Multimedia Experiences:

The web is now a multimedia experience with audiences increasingly familiar with visual and auditory forms of content. People spend more and more time-consuming video content and podcasts. So, don’t focus just on traditional text copy. Invest in video. Generally, it ranks well in search engine results and often it’s easier to explain a concept in video rather than in text. In the B2B context product demos, new product introductions, and how-to tutorials are useful to educate and inform your prospects and customers.

Targeted Social:

The trend is for companies to focus their efforts on fewer channels so only go where your customers are – remembering that context is important too. Do they have their business hat on, or are they there to look at cat pictures? ‘Customer intent’ and context are import in determining conversion rates so, consider appropriateness of the social media channel.

Google Reviews:

In May 2018 Google removed all old reviews from anonymous profiles that did not have a profile attached to them. Initial research suggests that this has translated to roughly  3% of reviews across websites. This action highlights the ongoing issue of fake reviews that Google is trying to address by increasing the transparency of the reviewing public.

This removal of reviews should also be a reminder to business owner that you don’t own your Google reviews (or your Google My Business listing). Remember Google owns these assets, and manages them as they see fit which may not align with your interests. So it is worth using a variety of online and offline ways to collect and share reviews and testimonials.

Google Posts:

In July 2018 Google My Business added a ‘Call Now’ button to Google Posts which is good news for local business but the jury is still out on their effectiveness. They haven’t been adopted widely by agencies and business probably because you can’t schedule them and they do not integrate naturally with Google Analytics so it not easy to get any insights beyond the basics provided by Google My Business (although there is now an API out). A recent case study interestingly did show them to have a mild positive impact on ranking concluding that they are a ‘low-impact, low-effort task’. Suggesting that they should be combined with other tasks to help improve Local SEO for a small business.

 

If you would like to discuss any of the B2B online marketing points raised in this article, please contact us or call Sharon French, a Chartered Marketer and B2B marketing expert on 01327 810003.

 

 

 

Overview of Organic vs Paid and Search vs Display

A brief overview of the main ways your website could be found online.

1.    Organic – not paying to be found online

If you want your website to be found organically you need keywords that match what people are looking for. When Google decides whether to include your website in the search results, it does so using its ever-changing algorithm which looks at 200 odd ranking factors (website load time, domain authority, number of links etc).

Content marketing and optimising your website (or SEO) can help you to be found in the relevant organic search results. Generating website traffic organically should be a cornerstone of any marketing plan, assuming your website is up to the job of nurturing and encouraging action.

Other ways that your website could be found that aren’t considered paid include via links from social media content or from third-party referral.

2.    Paying to be found – search vs display

If you are paying to be found there are two places where this online advertising can happen:

2.1 In the search network.

This is where you pay for your advert (via an auction) to appear when people are actively looking for goods / services / information. The auction has 2 elements: your bid price and the quality score your advert is given (i.e. how good a match it is for a particular search query). These combine to determine your as rank which dictates where on the page your ad is placed and how many ‘impressions’ it gets – you don’t pay for impressions only clicks i.e. when somebody clicks on your advert.

For example, a search network like Google or Bing would allow a wealth management company to serve an ad that targets people searching for “wealth management firms London”. Some search terms can be very competitive with high bid prices, in these cases looking at long tail search phrases that have fewer monthly impressions may worthwhile as they may generate a better ROI.

2.2 In the display network.

The Google display network allows you to use targeting to show your ads by auction in particular contexts (like “outdoor lifestyles” or “ft.com”), to particular audiences (like “young mums” or “people shopping for a new yacht”) in particular locations.

This network is more passive in the sense that people are casually browsing websites where your ad is served i.e. it’s not as targeted as the search network.

However, it is generally a cheaper than the search network. There are however many more targeting options (by context, by website, by topic, by interest and by remarketing) and a variety of formats (including text, animated image, rich media and video ads) and sizes.

Then there is also paid on social networks which are probably better at targeting as their users are more ‘known’ to them. Different social media platforms have a plethora of advertising options available.

Lastly, remarketing is worth a special mention, it’s sometimes called retargeting or stalker advertising. It deposits a cookie on the computers of the visitors to pages on your website.  Google will then display ads specifically to those people whenever they visit sites on the Google Display Network. Again, you only pay for click through and as people don’t tend to click on these ads – this makes it a very cost-effective brand awareness tool, much like a billboard.

You also can upload a customer email list and then target customers or similar target audiences via Google Search, YouTube, TrueView and native ads in Gmail.  Do note that no purchased email lists are allowed.

 

If you would like to discuss digital advertising, remarketing or content marketing please call us on 01327 810003 or get in touch via the contact form.

 

Are the new browser changes marking your website as not secure?

As of last month Google Chrome (version 56 and later) red flags pages that collect passwords or credit card details as ‘not secure’ unless the pages are served over HTTPS. Thus, marking websites that don’t have an SSL certificate as unsecured.

This latest change is part of a broader Google plan to mark all pages served over the non-encrypted HTTP protocol as ‘not secure’ with a view to making the web as safe and secure as possible.

Don’t collect data on your website?

Sites that don’t collect personal or financial information will now also be flagged (in grey) to let users know that the site is not private. This means that we now recommend that you get an SSL certificate even if your site doesn’t collect data. Why? Two main reasons for this are:

  1. Google Chrome’s dominance in the browser marketplace (56% in December 2016) and as we all know what Google wants is worth taking note of from a ranking perspective. Going forward non-secure sites will be penalised with a lower SEO score and a decreased digital footprint.
  2. The importance of creating the right impression when visitors see your listing – a SSL certificate signals to the user via a green lock symbol that your site is secure and ‘safe’ – a small, but useful trust signal for them to see when they are scanning Chrome search results.

Together these two factors will help to drive quality traffic to your site, so act today and get that green flag. Fyi costs vary depending on the service that hosts your site, but roughly speaking expect to pay between £25 – £55 annually for the certificate.

For more information see this article on security from Google or call us today on 01327 810003 for more information.