If your company’s website is, or could be, a significant source of customers or sales then there are many different actions you can take to increase these sales. Optimising it to appear high in search results (SEO) is just one . Optimising for “conversion” (to convert visitors into customers) is another. Others include pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns and social media marketing (SMM), also known as social networking.
Whatever your business, everything should begin with understanding your revenue stream: where do your conversions / sales come from? This is the essence of search engine marketing management (SEMM).
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Your WordPress website, audited and reviewed, to evaluate the extent to which it is adding value to your business. I will recommend a search engine marketing solution tailored to your product / service. I can arrange PPC work but my strength lies in bilingual SEO (English and Spanish) and optimising copy, as well as improving site designs and sales pages, in order to maximise conversion (to convert visitors into potential customers / sales).
The service I offer will depend on the results of the initial data analysis, subject to the data being available. Probably you will have some idea that your website is receiving traffic and generating sales but you may not know whether these sales are coming from people that use organic search to find your site or from another group that read your guest post on xyz.com. This information underpins your SEM strategy.
The process I follow will resemble the following:
- Understand your business objectives
- Collect data about how your website contributes to these objectives
- Analyse return on investment (ROI) through different marketing channels
- Define search engine marketing approach (SEO / PPC / other)
- Develop and implement solutions – e.g. write / edit content, build social connections, improve site security, provide training
- Review and agree any changes necessary
- Monitor impact of solutions implemented – change in organic traffic, website conversion
I will take care to stay in touch with you throughout the project to ensure that you are informed and consulted about important changes, as well as to answer queries.
In an ideal world, as I stated above, SEM Management begins by evaluating the relative value for money of search engine optimisation (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns for your business.
Web Data Analysis
The most important information about any company’s website is to what extent it is a revenue stream now and what aspirations you have for it in the future.
These five areas of information will paint a picture of what role search engine marketing can and could/should play in your business:
- conversions / sales – which channel do your customers arrive through / how much do they spend
- traffic sources – how many people arrive at your website from a so-called “organic” sources vs. PPC
- keywords – which keyword phrases do people use when searching for your product / service
- landing pages – which pages in your website do they land on for particular search terms
- positions / ranking – where do these “landing pages” appear in search engine results
You may or may not have all this information easily accessible, in which case one of the first projects to implement would arrange that you do. The source of this data is primarily web analytics software, such as Google Analytics or Clicky, as well as a variety of competitor analysis tools.
Once combined, this information will inform the extent to which SEMM focusses on PPC and SEO. For PPC expertise I will recommend or work with an expert. If it seems appropriate to focus on organic search engine traffic then we would continue by collecting more information.
SEO Site Metrics
In addition to the key indicators, a few specific website measurements can say a lot. These are available from different sources but the first place to start is Google Webmaster Tools.
- outbound links – are you connecting with other sites?
- internal links – how easy is it to navigate your site?
- number of pages, # words – how much content do you have? how often do you add it?
- # indexed pages, # duplicates, # 404s – is it accessible for search engines / visitors?
- number of comments, # facebook likes – to what extent are people interacting with you / your site?
- page loading speed, up time – key components of user experience
The idea is that these metrics should help inform what aspects of your SEO operation to investigate most deeply.
Content and Design (“On-site”) Checklist
Even the most carefully designed site can contain search engine optimisation black holes and even the best writer may overlook some potential improvements to their content. Every SEO and conversion optimisation practitioner has their own opinions about what matters and what doesn’t. Fortunately, many overlap.
Almost everyone will tell you that “quality content” is the most important starting point and there are some great articles out there that try to pin down what that is. Search engines aspire to evaluate quality in the same way people do, but they still rely heavily on some specific signals.
My personal on-site checklist attempts to cover both SEO and conversion, on the basis that one isn’t much good without the other. Conversion optimisation is all about using visual design techniques to focus visitor attention.
Social / Engagement (not just Off-site) Checklist
Demonstrating your website’s authority to Google used to be all about the number and anchor text of the “back links” pointing to your site. This is still a factor but increasingly it’s thought of as part of a general social networking or engagement strategy – the more your visitors and peers are connecting and responding to you, the more likely it is that you’re doing something interesting.
Happily, this means that a lot of what works here will be the same kind of actions that help grow your business in general. Here are a few things to think about:
- Are you replying sensitively to comments on your site?
- Comments and guest articles on peers’ sites or others in related niches – who are your peers, what other related niches interest you?
- Articles for (and engagement with) curated writing communities, e.g. Squidoo.
- Infographics, videos + what other media can you use to get your message across, how will you share it?
- Twitter, Facebook, LinkeIn – different people like to be approached via different channels.
Recommendations can either be (A) one-off; or (B) process-driven. Wherever possible, process changes should be minimised in favour of one-off developments that can achieve the same thing. In each case they can be grouped according to what kind of work is entailed:
Examples of actions that should only have to be made once:
- design changes (menus, image tags, white space)
- content changes (keyword density, internal links)
- webmaster changes (sitemap, hosting, plugins)
Some recommendations will need to be performed every time actions such as these are carried out:
- Content writing (e.g. spelling and grammar checks / SEO proof reading / longer)
- Uploading media (e.g. format, attributes)
- Comment engagement (e.g. subscribe and respond to comments)
For process changes to be smooth, someone on your team needs to be confident about performing a given task rather than depending on a designer or SEO consultant to do it for you. Where there is a skills gap I will be happy to provide training to bridge it. For example, who will:
- Conduct A-B split tests
- Create multi-media content
- Monitor URLs, headings and title meta
Whether the changes required are one-off or process-related, a project plan will be needed. As a minimum, this plan will detail, for each change, the following:
- Goal (why we’re doing this)
- Scope (what the project entails and doesn’t)
- Roles and Responsibilities (who will do what)
- Tasks (how we’ll do it)
- Risks (what problems to avoid)
- Key metrics (what we’ll measure to track success)
SEM is a rapidly evolving field and the SEM manager needs to have ideas about where the next curving search ball will come from.
If your company’s core market is local then there are some somewhat specific things like Geo-Targeting you need to take into consideration if its website is to appear in the top results for searches made using devices in your region. Since many of the devices used for local searches are mobile, it’s even more important that your site is accessible from a phone. It’s also crucial that Google knows where you are, and your social networking needs to be local too.
Social Media and Search Optimisation (SMO – SSO)
Engaging with your customers is clearly a good idea, providing you can spare the time. There is also the chance that it will become indispensable in the not too distant future. It will become the primary way you can influence your brand’s visibility in social media search.
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