The Spectrum Group Online https://online-sales-marketing.com Where Visibility and Transparency Connect Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:00:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 48765153 What is Spamdexing? https://online-sales-marketing.com/spamdexing/ https://online-sales-marketing.com/spamdexing/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:00:31 +0000 http://online-sales-marketing.com/?p=10153 Spamdexing is the new version of old school spam

For Processed & Unhealthy Sites

In the world of SEO, there’s a lot of confusing terminology. That includes terms like spamdexing. This is one SEO practice online marketers must understand in order to avoid roller coaster rankings and manual actions. Spamdexing is a catchall term for a number of different things, including keyword stuffing and referral spam. Find out what else can get you spamdexed.

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A Working Definition

According to Wikipedia, spamdexing refers to:

The deliberate manipulation of search engine indexes. It involves a number of methods, such as repeating unrelated phrases, to manipulate the relevance or prominence of resources indexed in a manner inconsistent with the purpose of the indexing system.

Here’s a simple translation: trying to trick a search engine algorithm so your website comes up on top of an organic search. Trickery can include (but is not limited to):

  • Keyword Stuffing – content that has is packed with the same keyword over and over. Since search engines are computer programs, this repetition helps the bots “understand” what the page is about. A piece of content is overstuffed when a human reads it and finds the wording to be unnatural, unreadable, and unworthy of their attention.
  • Cloaking – a technique that shows one version for search engines and a different version for human visitors.
  • Link Spam – also known as linking schemes. It’s a technique that purchases inbound links from high-ranking websites. Google penalizes sites with unnatural link profiles which can include links from sources unrelated to your business/industry.
  • Referral Spam – this is a spam technique where spam sites will create bots that visit your website to make it look like their site is sending traffic your way. Then when you visit back to check out their site, you’re inflating their site’s traffic. Again, Google will penalize sites with unnatural link profiles.

Other Spamdexing Names

Beware of other terms that basically have the same meaning as spamdexing. They include:

  • search engine spam
  • search engine poisoning
  • Black-Hat SEO
  • search spam
  • web spam

Are spamdexing and black hat SEO going to die out? Or do you think that tactics are going to evolve to find a new way to cheat the search engines?

How can we help?

Worried that your is website spammy? Need help with your online optimization?

We are The Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Today »

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What Are Paid Links? https://online-sales-marketing.com/what-are-paid-links/ https://online-sales-marketing.com/what-are-paid-links/#respond Thu, 21 Sep 2017 16:00:01 +0000 http://online-sales-marketing.com/?p=9566 paid links are like bribes

How Does Google Define It?

As a White Hat SEO practitioners we have been pretty vocal on why you should follow Google’s webmaster guidelines. This really applies to link building and not amassing paid links. Paid links are a dangerous SEO strategy designed to artificially boost your ranking by paying other sites to link to your content. So how can you make sure your links aren’t damaging your SEO.

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Paid Links Video

Matt Cutts released  a video on this topic back in 2014 that explains where Google stand on paid links. He outlines the Webspam’s team criteria for sniffing out suspicious, unnatural and paid links. This 7-minute video is really worth watching. Personally I was surprised (and pleased) to hear that Google’s quality guidelines follow the spirit of the Federal Trade Commissions’ guidelines.

Do you have paid links on your website?

So now you know what Google considers a paid link to be. Do you have any on your site? Google AdSense, Bing and Yahoo, and doubleclick are not considered paid links. So if you’re running ads from any of these platforms on your site you should be okay.

If you’re running ads from any other sources you need to make sure that any paid link or advertisement your site is hosting must have a “nofollow”. Or it must be redirected through a file that is excluded by your robots.txt file. This will help tell Google that is is advertising and not an attempt to exploit SEO.

How can we help?

Are you worried you might have paid links harming your SEO? Would you like a Link Analaysis?

We are The Spectrum Group, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Today »

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AdWords for In-Store Sales https://online-sales-marketing.com/adwords-store-sales/ https://online-sales-marketing.com/adwords-store-sales/#respond Wed, 20 Sep 2017 16:00:54 +0000 http://online-sales-marketing.com/?p=9768 register-keys

Evolving Pay Per Click Measurement

The ability to tie online advertising to conversions is essential to understanding the performance of marketing campaigns. But as the sophistication of smartphones (and of Google’s AdWords) have increased, the value of online marketing has grown from just a tool to promote online sales, to one that can drive in-store sales. Linking virtual behavior to real-world activity may still seem a little far-fetched, but Google Facebook and Twitter all have options to create hyper local advertising campaigns.

Download "How to Create A High-Performing AdWords Account eBook" »

How Will AdWords for In-Store Sales Work?

Tracking smartphone locations to determine consumer retail movements is nothing new. Google have been doing it since 2014. However the level of sophistication has greatly increased since then, along with the number of people carrying devices that can be tracked. Google can now tie in your movements to online ad exposure, drawing a correlation between AdWords and in-store sales, based on your search history, device location and any other data they can determine from your behaviour while using their various different services (Search, Google Maps, Gmail and Youtube will all report your location when you use them).

A story in the Wall Street Journal during the Spring of 2014 noted that Google was extending its testing. The search engine company partnered with data experts, Acxiom and Datalogix, to develop programs for tracking real-life retail activity. One area of interest centered around anonymous cookies. Basically this means they will never put a name to the conversion. So your data will be bundled up with other customers who have done the same as you and then reported back to the advertiser. According to the report, Google looks to match information from those cookies with information maintained in store databases to draw correlations between marketing efforts and in-store sales activity.

CaribinerToKiteLine-280x440Impact on Businesses

Google claim that 90% of sales still happen in stores, so using finding a way to use AdWords to drive foot traffic is very important to Google. They claim that they have already driven 1 billion customers into stores from their ads, but currently not all AdWords users can measure their in-store visitors on the platform.

As with a website visit, and in-store visit doesn’t always equal a sale. So finding a way to add this data into the sales funnel is key. Visiting a store is just another step along the line to a purchase. Especially with large value items like cars, or electrical goods.

So far the ability to view in store visits on your AdWords dashboard is limited to certain customers. But Google are planning on rolling it out to all users eventually. If you think you might have it already you should add the “All conversions” column in your AdWords, as this is where the data will be put.

Would tracking in-store visits be useful to your business? Do you think your ads drive more footfall than they drive website clicks? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

How can we help?

Need help in improving your Search Engine Marketing ROI? Don’t have the time or bandwidth to monitor and tweak your AdWords campaigns?

We are The Spectrum Group Online and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss how to leverage customer testimonials.

Contact Us Today »

photo credit top: Joel Kramer
photo credit body: G F

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Is Social Media Hurting Your Business Communication? https://online-sales-marketing.com/is-social-media-hurting-your-business-communication/ https://online-sales-marketing.com/is-social-media-hurting-your-business-communication/#respond Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:00:29 +0000 https://online-sales-marketing.com/?p=16893 using whatsapp for Business communication

Social Media Backchannels

Social media has helped to revolutionize many businesses, giving customers a direct contact with brands. But there are some downsides to the social media revolution. One of which is private social communication between customers and staff. By private social communication we mean the process of sharing work related content on a platform that isn’t specifically related, or attributed to work.

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We’ve all done it at one point. Shared our personal email address, given a customer our whatsapp number, or asked to be DM’d on Twitter. Sometimes it’s the easiest way to fix a solution and in many cases it provides a ‘personal touch’ that can be useful in resolving a customer problem.

Why is This a Problem?

In isolated cases, this isn’t a huge problem. If you can help resolve a customer problem by sending a personal message, or sharing your private number then sometimes, the simplest solution is the best solution. But issues begin to arise if it becomes more regular and large amounts of business communication are being done outside of approved professional channels.

The main reason is the lack of oversight from the company. If I send a private DM on Twitter to help a customer, how does the person running the work Twitter account know if the situation still needs to be worked on? This can create duplicated effort and end up wasting more time than it saved in the first place.

This lack of oversight can also cause issues related to the quality of communication. With nobody to ensure that a company’s professional standards are being met, communication quality may drop below what is acceptable and there will be no way for the manager to know that has happened.

Another problem that can arise is that you are exposing your personal information to customers. This may not only be unprofessional, but also can open you up to personal risk by potentially highlighting where you live or other aspects of your life you might not want your customers to know about.

How to be Social on Social

We recommend taking the following steps if you want to reach out with your personal social media platforms to customers.

  1. Create another profile. Have a work friendly Facebook page, or Twitter account. Whenever you’re using it be aware that you may be interacting with your customers.
  2. Limit what you share on social media to friends only. This is probably good general advice anyway, as many people overshare on social media, but another step you can take is to just pare back what you are sharing on your existing profiles.
  3. Get added to your work’s official accounts. Adding several users can create complications, but if people’s roles are clearly defined having a few people checking a Facebook page, or Twitter account can be an efficient way of keeping everyone happy.

Business Communication

How to you make sure your team responds to customers and clients quickly, without blurring the lines of professionalism on social media? Do you manage business communication in the social world?

How can we help?

Do you need help building business communication processes? What does your data say in Search Console?

We are Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Today »

Photo credit – Top: Pixabay
Photo credit – Bottom: Pixabay

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What is Negative SEO? https://online-sales-marketing.com/negative-seo/ https://online-sales-marketing.com/negative-seo/#respond Fri, 15 Sep 2017 16:00:25 +0000 http://online-sales-marketing.com/?p=9938 negative seo is like the evil eye

Defending Your Website

Following Google’s quality guidelines is not enough… you also have to watch out for Negative SEO. In this post I’ll explain what it is and what you need to do in order to protect your website and make sure you have a healthy link profile.

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Why Negative SEO is so Evil

Negative SEO is basically Black Hat SEO. It uses techniques to sabotage a competitor’s website. Black Hatters use tactics like creating poor quality links to a website’s content (e.g., from link farms) or stealing content before it gets indexed.

As you probably know, Google specifically targets spammy links. Penquin — a piece of the super secret search algorithm — looks for irrelevant and toxic links from questionable sources.

In essence, if you’re a victim of Negative SEO, it can cripple your website’s online visibility in organic search. And the really scary implication is that unless you’re actively looking for it, you might be unaware of its dampening effect on your online marketing.

Slippery-When-WetNegative SEO is Different Than Grey Hat SEO

Might have heard of Grey Hat SEO (sometimes also called Black Hat SEO). If not, I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version. Basically it’s cheating.

It’s cheating for the purposes of trying to get your website to rank higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). It can take on many forms, including:

  • Commissioning a firm to build lots of links, usually from link farms (websites whose sole purpose to amass links rather than offer valuable content) using tactics like referral spam.
  • Over-optimizing content through techniques like keyword stuffing
  • Leaving comment spam (you know those fabulous comments that use poor English, are off topic and add zero value)
  • Posting links in online forums
  • Cloaking
  • Publishing duplicate content
  • Purchasing social media followers

How to Protect Your Business

The first step in protecting your website from Negative SEO is to do an in-depth link analysis. You’ve got to know the quality and number of your inbound links (those pointing to your website). When we conduct a link analysis, we categorize links into: toxic, suspicious, and safe, making it clear what is helping your SEO and what is hindering it.

Next, you need to sort the links by domain (the website root that created the link). For example, we did an analysis for a client and they had nearly 50,000 links, 97% of them toxic! So understanding how many domains are represented in your link profile will indicate the size of a clean-up project.

Where do you find your link profile? In Webmaster Tools. That’s why we highly recommend setting up Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools so you have the data needed to determine if Negative SEO has hit your site or not.

Negative SEO is pretty scary. How healthy is your website’s link profile?

How can we help?

Tired of roller coaster SEO rankings? Need help with your website’s SEO infrastructure? Got spanked by Google and trying to recover your organic SEO rankings?

We are the spectrum group online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Today »

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Build An SEO Strategy With 5 Questions https://online-sales-marketing.com/seo-strategy-5-questions/ https://online-sales-marketing.com/seo-strategy-5-questions/#respond Thu, 14 Sep 2017 16:00:21 +0000 https://online-sales-marketing.com/?p=16876 SEO Strategy

A lot of writing on SEO speaks about SEO tactics. Talking about how to improve your CTR or get more social shares is very common, but the strategy of how to get that to happen is not. In this post we will discuss the 5 questions you need to ask to help you build a robust SEO strategy.

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What problems can our content solve?

This really is the key to good SEO. Search engines are essentially crowd sourced. The best performing websites get the highest ranking. Google wants you to find what you’re looking for so you use their search engine again.

If you’re providing content that answers searchers questions Google will be more than happy to send visitors in your direction. Sometimes this is forgotten in the world of SEO and people get obsessed with things like CTA placement and having the keyword in the first paragraph. While those are both important things to consider, they shouldn’t come before solving your customers problems.

What do we do that’s unique?

Why does your business exist? What can you do that nobody else can? Do you produce high quality, in depth content? Or do you produce daily short form content that is less detailed. Can you make videos, while your competition only uses blog posts. You get the point. As with any other aspect of business, you need to stand out to get visitors coming back. In a world where even your local laundromat has a blog it’s important to have a USP.

Who’s going to help us spread the word?

You can’t win the SEO war alone. You need allies. For white hat SEO to work properly you need to build link relationships with other high quality, respected, websites. You should find influencers in your industry and other companies that provide complimentary services and then build from there. If these people are willing to share your content, then your customers will be too and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

How do we turn visitors into customers?

You need to turn the readers of your unique information content into buyers. You need to make sure you have a funnel that takes readers from education to purchasing, walking them through the reasons why they should buy from you until they purchase.

This also includes more practical things like website design, user interface (UI and UX) design, having strong CTAs and all the other tactical aspects of SEO that you’ll recognize. Note how far this is down the list of questions. You need to start with the Who and the Why before you get to the How.

How do we make all of the above clear to search engines?

And finally, SEO optimization. We’ve covered this 100s of times before, so if you want a more detailed breakdown on how to optimize for SEO, why not check out our Optimization Checklist on how to make your site easier for search engines to crawl.

Solid SEO Strategy

Have we missed anything important from the foundations of SEO strategy? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

How can we help?

What do your links and content say about your site’s SEO? Do you need help crafting an SEO strategy?

We are Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Today »

Photo credit – Top: Pxhere
Photo credit – Bottom: Joe the Goat Farmer

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Apple Changing How AdWords Does Conversion Tracking https://online-sales-marketing.com/apple-adwords-conversion-tracking/ https://online-sales-marketing.com/apple-adwords-conversion-tracking/#respond Wed, 13 Sep 2017 16:00:16 +0000 https://online-sales-marketing.com/?p=16866

This month Apple are going to be making some changes in an attempt to protect users of their Safari browser. In September they’re going to launch a new feature called Intelligent Tracking Prevention. Because of these changes to online event tracking Google have decided to change the way their AdWords conversion tracking works, to ensure that users don’t miss any conversions from Apple users.

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Winning Trust Back

Apple feel that user trust in the internet has broken down and that a good way to help rebuild this trust is by making it more difficult for unscrupulous companies to monitor and track users online presence. While this is great news for users that want more online privacy it does pose some threats to advertisers who are used to having detailed knowledge of where their customers are coming from.

Fixing Conversion Tracking

With these changes in mind, Google want to maintain AdWords functionality as well as possible. Conversion tracking is vital to doing good online marketing, so bringing AdWords in line with Apple’s new recommendations for attribution is an urgent task.Who's following you with conversion tracking

So, what is Google going to do to minimize the disruption from these changes?

  1. If you have auto-tagging set up and a Google Analytics tag on your website, Google will create a new Analytics cookie on that domain, which will keep information about the ad click that brought a user to your website. If you have linked both your AdWords and Google Analytics accounts, the AdWords conversion tracking tag will be able to read the click information from your Analytics account.
  2. AdWords will continue to monitor users logged into, or using Google services, as before. So what data they can mine from their own services will still help to create a picture of what a user is doing, even if they cannot be tracked as easily through their browser.
  3. For the users that Google cannot track using Safari they will attempt to use statistical modelling to estimate conversion rates, and then add those to your reporting.

Do You Need to Change Your Conversion Tracking?

There isn’t anything that you as an AdWords user needs to do, apart from being aware of these changes and checking your conversion statistics closely for the next couple of months. If you notice a drop off in your statistics, make sure you check your statistics from before the change, to see if there was a corresponding amount of Safari users in August and July.

How can we help?

What do your links and content say about your site’s SEO? What does your data say in Search Console?

We are Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Today »

Photo credit – Top: Pixabay
Photo credit – Bottom: Pixabay

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A Content Marketing Strategy Tool https://online-sales-marketing.com/content-marketing-strategy-tool/ https://online-sales-marketing.com/content-marketing-strategy-tool/#respond Tue, 12 Sep 2017 16:00:03 +0000 http://online-sales-marketing.com/?p=8268 Content marketing strategy per Mr Hemingway

Editorial Calendar Provides Focus

Creating a content marketing strategy can be a very daunting task. After a lot of trial and error, I’ve come up with a formula for an editorial calendar that has many pieces of a content marketing strategy document. It’s a living document that evolves over time. In this post, I’ll explain the features of our editorial calendar components and why they are essential.

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Research: Keywords & Target Audience

Content marketing strategy is meant to provide focus and direction. It sheds light on how to generate content that engages your target market. This assumes you’ve done research on your target audience. Buyer Personas are fictional characters of different customer types, but they also help you create a content marketing focus. When you really understand the demographics, mindset and behaviors of your target audience, then you can create quality content that sparks interest and starts a conversation.

In addition to defining your audience, you also need to understand their buying behaviors and how they search for companies like yours. Keyword research can fill in the blanks (e.g.,  informational searches versus a transactional ones). Keyword research is the fundamental component of creating your online sales funnel and mapping out your website’s architecture. If you don’t have your keyword or target audience research complete, you’re not ready for a content marketing strategy or editorial calendar.

Choose Publishing Frequency

Write-till-you-drop!Content marketing is the SEO fuel. The more quality content you publish, the more SEO you build. With each published post, you’re teaching search engine bots about what your website is all about. First, you must commit to a schedule and stick to it. At least, we recommend three times a week. At this pace, you need to be realistic about the time it will take to build White Hat SEO momentum for your website, so if you can’t hit that, start with once a week.

On the other end of the spectrum, posting daily will let Google and Bing know your website really means business. Post multiple times daily, now you’re establishing yourself as an authoritative news site.

Whatever your publishing frequency, stick to a schedule. Try to publish the same day of the week and at the same time of day. With consistency, the bots will figure out how often they need to visit. Reward them with fresh content to index.

Categories & Topics

Most businesses have several different topics related to their products or services. These are the categories for your posts. Think carefully about how you’ll categorize your content marketing. Choose too many categories and the list is long and cumbersome. Too few and it’s not helpful to your reader.

One more note about categories: choose one per post.  If the post crosses multiple categories, that’s ok. Just add a few tags, but only use one category. Again this is making it easier for bots to understand the context of your content when they crawl your site.

Content Marketing Strategy Editorial Calendar

Now that you’ve come up with your categories, you can begin formulating your content marketing strategy and editorial calendar. In a spreadsheet, assign one category to a day of the week. Start brainstorming post ideas and plug them into your content calendar. Here’s a template to make it easy:

Category/Topic Tues Wed Fri Comments/Notes
Title
Keyword
Reference Links

A Place For Reference Materials

In my spreadsheet, I also have a place to jot down other pieces of information or reference materials. That way, I can refer to key information quickly. This is particularly handy if you outsource copywriting. Here are additional tabs in my editorial calendar spreadsheet that are especially useful if you’re not doing the writing yourself:

  • Competitor list, complete with links to blogs
  • Associations and Organizations for Reference Material
  • Keyword List
  • Websites and other places to trawl for inspiration

One last word of advice as you create your content marketing strategy and editorial calendar. If this document gets dusty with disuse, then you’re not using it correctly. It’s  common for me to have this document open while I’m working. I refer to it often — whether it’s jotting down new ideas or a website resource I’ve found.

My editorial calendar continually evolves. What would you add?

How can we help?

What do your links and content say about your site’s SEO? What does your data say in Search Console?

We are Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Today »

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Changes to Ad Rotation Settings https://online-sales-marketing.com/ad-rotation-changes/ https://online-sales-marketing.com/ad-rotation-changes/#respond Fri, 08 Sep 2017 16:05:28 +0000 https://online-sales-marketing.com/?p=16860

A/B testing is a big part of creating a successful PPC account. If you’re running Ads on AdWords you need to have a minimum of two variations for each Ad Group so you can see what is working and what isn’t. Google are well aware of this and to help their users they have a number of ad rotation settings. But at the end of this month, they’re going to change slightly.

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Ch Ch Ch Changes

Ad rotation settings are the rules that Google use when they’re deciding which of your Ads to show. Your options at the moment are:

  • Optimize for Clicksad rotation
  • Optimize for Conversions
  • Rotate Evenly for 90 Days (then optimize)
  • Rotate Indefinitely

New Beginnings For Ad Rotation

However, after September the 25th the number of options you have will be streamlined with your new options being:

  • Optimize
  • Rotate Indefinitely

The optimize setting will use Google’s machine learning technology to pick which ads are going to perform best. Any campaigns that are using Optimize for Clicks, Optimize for Conversions or Rotate Evenly will be changed to Optimize automatically after the old options are turned off. While any campaign using Rotate Indefinitely will stay the same.

Graduating from Machine Learning

This change seems to be due to the growing confidence that Google is showing in their various machine learning tools. While it takes away some manual control, you can still set your ads to rotate indefinitely and create a reminder to optimize manually.

What do you think about Google’s ad rotation settings? Are you confident that they can choose the best ads to show with their Optimize setting?

How can we help?

What do your links and content say about your site’s SEO? What does your data say in Search Console?

We are Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Download "How to Create A High-Performing AdWords Account eBook" »

Photo credit – Top: Mark Jensen
Photo credit – Bottom: Nogran SRO

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Visitor Recordings for On-Page Optimization https://online-sales-marketing.com/visitor-recordings-for-on-page-optimization/ https://online-sales-marketing.com/visitor-recordings-for-on-page-optimization/#respond Thu, 07 Sep 2017 16:13:58 +0000 https://online-sales-marketing.com/?p=16818 In Your Users’ Eyes

You’ve picked the perfect keyword. You’ve written the perfect page. Yet your Web Analytics isn’t painting a rosy picture. High bounce. Low time on page. Zero conversions. What’s a digital marketer gonna do? First, examine a heat map to get a view of what users actually see (and scroll to) on their desktop, tablet, or mobile device. Then, it’s time to dig into visitor recordings for insights on how to make on-page optimization tweaks.

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Heat Map & Visitor Recording Fundamentals

The beauty of visitor recording software is that it allows you to watch how people interact with your website pages. In analyzing our clients’ sites, as well as our own, we use HotJar; we prefer it because it’s affordable and relatively easy to use.  Whichever system you use, there are a few fundamentals to keep in mind:

  • When you significantly modify a page, like changing the layout or move a CTA button, pause the original page’s heat map. Then, create a new heat map. Heat maps become inaccurate when overlaying more than one version.
  • Be descriptive in your heat map names, especially if you’re doing A/B testing. When sifting through your heat map directory, it will help you quickly identify variations. Trust me on this point. When you actively use heat maps to analyze your content, it’s easy to create a long list. Detailed descriptions will help with version control.
  • Monitor your account limits. Most systems limit the number of recordings it will store. In HotJar’s case, it will continue to collect heat map data but won’t collect individual visitor recordings if you’ve hit your maximum.
  • Exclude home and office IPs to avoid skewing the data. Be sure to add any internal team members as well as digital marketing agencies and consultants.
  • Confirm heat maps and visitor sessions are recording. Once you add the tracking code to your website, double-check that sessions are recording to avoid disappointment.

Start With A Question In Mind

To analyze visitor recordings for on-page optimization, I suggest having one or two questions in mind before you watch any recordings. Otherwise, the viewing process is overwhelming. Focus on a specific question; for example, on “x” page, what content is most read by visitors? Besides the primary CTA, where else are visitors interacting with the page? Then as you view each individual recording, you’ll begin gathering your answers. This technique — starting with one or two specific questions — is an excellent way to dig into Google Analytics and Search Console data.

As you view each individual recording, you’ll begin gathering your answers. This technique — starting with one or two specific questions — is an excellent way to dig into Google Analytics and Search Console data as well.

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Tips for Viewing Efficiency

In comparing visitor recording software, I’ve found that each has similar features. To get the most of your analysis, use:

  1. Filters. For efficiency, sort your recordings to narrow your to-view list. There’s no point in sifting through sessions not related to the questions you want to answer. You can filter by date range, number of pages viewed, duration, start or exit page, or an exact URL match. To start, I suggest selecting recordings that contain the page URL regardless if it’s at the start or end of a recording session. Most systems also let you filter by country, device type, operating system, and browser. You can even search on specific user IDs to see if repeat visitors behave differently.
  2. Tagging, Notes & Stars. Tags are useful in marking recordings that have something in common. For example, if images don’t render correctly. Depending on the system you use, you can also make notes related to a specific session. Starring sessions is another way to designate and sort sessions. Each recording also has a reference number.
  3. Cursor Movement. The software records where users tap and move their cursor. Typically readers use their mouse to mark their progress down a page.  Do they hover over specific content for more than a few seconds? You’ll get a sense of what information on the page holds a visitors attention. Or not.
  4. Viewing Speed. When first viewing sessions, it’s helpful to watch in actual speed (.5 to 1x). There’s a surprising amount of detail to take in — how a user interacts with the nav bar, scrolling behaviors, how a page renders for their device configuration, etc.
  5. Skip Pauses & AutoPlay. Once you’ve got the hang of watching recordings, you’ll want to speed things up to cover more ground. You can skip pauses and set recordings to autoplay. Even so, be ready to pause as you’ll want to take notes and tag recordings as they fly by. Personally, I find skipping pauses to be distracting as the recording feels jumpy and not how visitors naturally interact with a site.

Connecting the Visitor Data Points

Visitor recordings are a powerful way to see your content through users’ eyes. The data collected with heat maps and session recordings provide insight so you can better optimize a page.  Yet, don’t forget there are other valuable content analysis tools. When analyzing content, I also use Google Analytics and Search Console in order to find other pieces of the puzzle, such as:

  • Value of the page towards a conversion. This works if you assign a dollar figure to your GA goals.
  • Average session duration and what’s the trend over time. Are the changes to content or how it’s organized improving a users experience?
  • What percentage of visitors exit on this page? This could point to a CTA problem.
  • How visible is the page in search by looking at average SERP position and impressions?
  • Compare the search console metadata’s CTR in Search Console to Google Analytics’ bounce rate. Your metadata sets an expectation with a potential visitor. If the CTR is high (visitor is interested) and the bounce is high, you’re not delivering on what you promised.
  • What keyword(s) does Google think is on the page? Does your content best match the keyword and visitor expectations? Are there other competing pages on your website for that same keyword?
  • What other pages complement the user experience? Do you make it easy for a reader to dig deeper into a subject as they get closer to a buying decision?

Using all the tools available to you will help get a clearer image of a page and it’s performance. As with anything on the web, achieving perfection is an iterative process. How do you use visitor recordings to analyze your website’s content?

How can we help?

What does Google Analytics or Search Console say about your content? Are you engaging or turning off your audience?

We are Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

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Photo credit – Top: Ben Mortimer
Photo credit – Middle: Alyson Harrold
Photo credit – Bottom: Ellie

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