January 22, 2019 / 3 min read
3 Steps for E-Commerce Success
Since 2009, e-commerce sales in the U.S. have more than tripled, from almost $35 million to nearly $131 million. It’s no wonder e-commerce stores are becoming more commonplace.
Unfortunately, the task of creating a store easily overshadows the creation of a sales strategy. Even a simple strategy is better than a missing strategy. If you’re tasked with creating an online store, consider the following three critical areas for success.
Though it’s a new year and technology continues to advance, email marketing maintains its grip as one of the top three most powerful business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) behavioral marketing tools. Successful online stores harness that power to emphasize their brand and encourage consumer retention by sending automated messages to consumers as they interact with the online store. New store email subscribers typically receive a welcome email that connects them to the brand and encourages a repeat web store visit. Another common automated email is the order confirmation. Though easy to write off as a simple receipt, the average open rate for this automated email in 2018 was nearly 70 percent. Effective stores find a way to connect with consumers beyond the email itself, encouraging a return web-store visit.
You might have already guessed that shopper data are exactly how stores transform marketing tools like email receipts into critical brand touchpoints. Gain insights into consumer demographics – such as which pages (and products) yield higher conversion rates – and even track the success of digital campaigns with tools like Google Analytics and social-media pixels. Unfortunately, because there is so much to do when creating an online store, it’s easy to forget these valuable analytics tools, but stores that install them early often find themselves ahead of competitors that don’t.
There are three types of shoppers every e-commerce store faces: 1) prospective “window” shoppers, 2) current shoppers, and 3) past shoppers. There are levels to these archetypes, such as brand-new vs. brand-loyal shoppers, but ultimately no matter their level, these shoppers may not take the desired action – such as a repeat purchase. You will want to remarket your message to those shoppers. Depending on the shopper data being tracked, it’s easy to set up a pay-per-click (PPC) or email campaign that targets abandoned cart shoppers, or even those that simply visited your store without committing to a purchase. More than just an additional opportunity to close a sale, effective web stores understand that remarketing is about building brand recognition.
These three seemingly simple areas have everything to do with the strategy of your e-commerce store, and they’re sorely lacking or completely forgotten by new e-commerce stores that rely on WYSIWYGs and setup wizards to guide them through the design of their online store. Though they sometimes require a great deal of thought and foresight, the time investment will more than pay off.
December 12, 2018 / 3 min read
Guerrilla Sales & Marketing: 3 Web Metrics You Can’t Afford to Ignore in 2019
If there’s one takeaway from 2018, it’s that the internet is changing. Search engines have more content than ever before to sort through, and they’re increasingly expected to provide the best results. Transparency has been taken to a new level as privacy protection laws and website accessibility lawsuits increase. A website’s online reputation is now factored into search rankings as Google continues to prioritize expertise and industry knowledge.
Simple search engine optimization (SEO) techniques are falling to the wayside as optimization efforts now have to consider a larger picture like the type of reputation tied to your brand’s digital footprint and what expertise you lend to your website that similar websites don’t.
Fortunately, website metrics remain a steadfast solution to understanding how your website is performing in these turbulent waters. In particular, there are three simple metrics that are largely beneficial to understanding if your site is showcasing its expertise with an appropriate content strategy.
Keyword rankings. Your position ranking for targeted keywords is an assessment of how well your site will perform on a search engine such as Bing or Google. Aim for position No. 1, or as close to it as possible, as lower positions equate to a higher position with the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Lower your score, and improve your ranking, by focusing on the keywords your target audience is most likely to use, but also those that best represent your brand and services.
Bounce rate. Understand the percentage of people that find your site and then immediately leave. A healthy bounce rate is generally accepted to be between 30-40 percent, though the average varies slightly by industry. The bounce rate is one of many detectors available to understand how your keyword strategy is aligned with your brand and content. For example, if you have a high bounce rate, it’s likely your current traffic is not part of your target audience and is therefore unwanted.
Conversion rates by source. Are your conversions coming from organic search, referral backlinks or social-media links? This metric helps you understand where your time is best spent, or alternatively which sources need more strategy and attention to provide a healthy ROI. For example, if your lowest conversion rate comes from organic traffic, you’ve got some work to do to understand how organic traffic finds and uses your website.
With just these three simple metrics, you’ll have a quick understanding of your positioning within search engines, how likely visitors are to leave or stay on your website, and which channels offer you the highest conversions. Unlock each metric’s full potential by combining these data sets together to create an effective strategy for refining your website’s content and keyword targeting to outperform the competition.
October 16, 2018 / 3 min read
Google Says You Are What You ‘E-A-T’
Google’s latest two algorithm updates, Medic and Birthday, each had a significant impact on where affected websites found themselves ranking within the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Many shifted from the No. 1 position to much lower positions or disappeared from the SERPs altogether.
SEO experts note that e-commerce, financial, legal and medical websites, referred to as Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) websites, suffered the greatest negative impact in search rankings and traffic.
Why? Google firmly believes that such websites need to have a high degree of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) in order to properly guide consumers.
In short, both updates adjusted how a website’s reputation is evaluated, thereby impacting its individual SERPs ranking.
It’s also important to remember that the updates followed closely behind Google’s revision to the Search Quality Rater Guidelines in July.
These guidelines are implemented by Google’s search-quality raters – individuals who manually visit websites and score them for the search giant.
Though manual scores don’t impact your website’s search ranking, you can hedge your bets that the search algorithms that do directly impact your ranking are closely aligned.
In the raters’ update, Google introduced a new section asking raters to consider both the “beneficial purpose” of a website’s content and the reputation of the content creator.
Such sections suggest a need for in-depth analysis of a website’s content to understand both its purpose and perception.
If your website has been negatively impacted by the latest updates, critically analyzing your website through the Google E-A-T lens is your best repair strategy.
Does your website showcase your expertise through a prominent About section with biographies for contributing bloggers or staff?
Is the relationship between your website pages and content obvious and purposeful? How does your social media strategy align with your individual brand, and is your brand verified across several social platforms?
Have you secured your website with an SSL certificate, and do you need to showcase GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance?
Is your Pagerank contributing to or inhibiting your SERPs ranking, and is it time to focus on influencing new and more trustworthy backlinks?
With each update, Google has attempted to refine how its search engine evaluates your website’s overall reputation.
Your primary focus should be on any adjustment that helps to instill a sense of expertise and trust within your audience, while also focusing on activities that build your authority across the internet.
As you evaluate your website, remember that you are what you “eat.”
September 25, 2018 / 3 min read
Stalled Out in Search Ranking? Consider Your PageRank and TrustRank
There are a jaw-dropping 2.3 million internet search queries per minute. How does Google decide which results you see? How can you get your business to the top of the list? While there’s no free “easy button” for improving your rank overnight, a little knowledge about how PageRank and TrustRank work can take you a long way in your quest for a coveted spot in the first ten results.
Google analyzes more than 200 factors when deciding how to rank a webpage. Examples include how prevalent a topic is across your site, how responsive each page is to mobile devices and how quickly your site loads.
Of course, performing in-depth analysis of these factors in real time isn’t practical. Enter PageRank and TrustRank. These two proactive algorithmic approaches help Google evaluate which webpages should rank higher or lower within the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
PageRank rates website pages on an importance scale of zero to 10, with 10 being the most valuable.
A webpage’s PageRank is appraised on backlinks, which are outside hyperlinks driving traffic to a page. For example, a blog post that links to an original article on CNN.com has created a backlink to CNN.com. The page that created the backlink is known as the referrer.
Webpages that receive high volumes of backlinks are perceived by PageRank to contain more valuable content. Like individual referrals, backlinks are Internet votes of confidence. The placement of backlinks are also subject to Google’s quality assessment. Backlinks that originate within a referrer’s most valuable real estate, like the homepage, carry more weight.
While PageRank emphasizes the quantity and placement quality of backlinks to determine value, many professionals within the Search Engine Marketing (SEM) industry believe passionately that Google uses TrustRank to determine the value of a webpage’s backlinks based on the reputation of the referrer.
This approach is rooted in the notion that “birds of a feather flock together,” meaning good websites link to good websites, and those of ill repute link to equally questionable ones. The weight of a backlink on a website with a PageRank of 10 is greater than that of a backlink on a website with a PageRank of 0. Thus, backlinks from highly credible websites, such as federal or national news publications, are highly valued.
Though Google has not publicly acknowledged TrustRank as a legitimate search factor, Google frequently instructs that authentic content is the best way to ensure high SERP placement.
If you feel that your website is consistently not ranking high enough within the SERPs, consider the number and type of backlinks pointing to your site. While there are a variety of ways to influence your backlinks, realigning your content to be more topic focused, easily searchable, and authentically valuable to consumers are all great ways to procure new and improved backlinks.