SEO Diagnosis: Why Pages are Performing Poorly in Search Rankings

SEO Diagnosis: Why Pages are Performing Poorly in Search Rankings

optimize poor search rankings

eCommerce merchants rely on organic traffic from search engines like Google and Bing to attract new customers. When organic traffic drops or never seems to get any better, it can be frustrating. There are several reasons why a website or specific pages are ranking poorly in search rankings.

Below are four reasons why a website or individual pages are performing poorly in search rankings and how to fix them.

Issue 1: Technical Difficulties

One of the first things to check is if the page or pages are functioning correctly. If there are technical issues present, that could be a significant factor for search engines to exclude the page from their rankings.

There are few ways to fix fundamental technical issues. First, try doing a hard refresh in the browser, or try viewing the page from another computer or device. There could be something wrong with the HTML, CSS, or any other scripts on that page. Improving the page’s ranking could be as simple as identifying this problem and correcting it.

Issue 2: Duplicate Content

Another common reason for poor rankings is duplicate content. It can be challenging to create new and engaging website copy for every page of a website, especially for a large site with many pages. Some merchants copy text from other pages, from a supplier, or even competitors. However, when search engines notice that the copy on the page matches that of another, they could remove the page from its rankings. Or, the search engine may not know which page to rank first. In this case, it’s possible to have multiple pages on one website competing against one another for the same organic rankings.

There are several tools to help check for duplicate content. Google Search Console will look for duplicate content in meta descriptions and titles tags. To review a website in Search Console navigate to Search Appearance > HTML Improvements. Refer to the image below.

 

There are also site audit tools like SEMrush and MOZ  that can help diagnose duplicate content as well as other performance issues. The key to duplicate content is to avoid it from the get-go. However, accidents do happen. Just be sure to resolve problems as soon as possible.

Issue 3: Page Speed

Page speed is also a key performance indicator for organic rankings. Search engines are serious about page speed. Pages that are slow to load will drop in organic rankings. With Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool, it is easy to test page speed.  Add a URL, and PageSpeed insights will analyze the page and offer solutions for improvements.

 

Slow page speed could be a result of broken scripts, server overload, or large image files.

Issue 4: Competitors Are Ranking Better

There are always going to be competitors competing for the same keywords. So another possibility for poor rankings could be that your competitors are doing a better job. Maybe they optimized their pages better, or have more backlinks.

To get ahead, analyze those competitor pages. There are plenty of competitor research tools available. With the competitor research tools, merchants can learn quite a bit about competitors, their marketing strategy and learn ways to make adjustments based on those findings.

Search Rankings Require Regular Attention

The real key to success search rankings is to make SEO a priority. Technical issues can arise accidentally, and competitors will always be working to win. Regularly monitor the website and take care in how pages and content are updated to avoid mistakes. With weekly or monthly evaluations, it is possible to find issues and work to correct them quickly. Being vigilant is critical because even if pages are ranking well now, that doesn’t mean they always will.

To learn more about SEO and organic rankings or to learn why your site is ranking poorly, contact us today!

 

Turning Abandoned Cart Issues into Sales

Turning Abandoned Cart Issues into Sales

Turning Abandoned Cart Issues into Sales

Merchants put a lot of effort into attracting new customers through SEO, PPC or social media marketing to name a few. However, attracting new customers is only half of the battle if they do not make a purchase. Merchants need to convince customers to convert. Abandoned carts and conversion rate optimization are struggles that merchants of every size experience.

In fact, eCommerce merchants collectively missed out on $7 trillion in abandoned shopping carts in 2017.  With much time, effort, and money spent on getting customers to the checkout, it’s tough to lose a conversion at the last second.

For merchants experiencing abandoned cart issues, here are a few ways to increase conversions.

Identify The Problem

The first thing to do is identify why customers are leaving their carts. There could be several factors at play, and it’s important to recognize them all. There are a few common factors among sites that see high cart abandonment rates, which include:

  • Surprise fees, such as taxes or shipping
  • Forcing the user to create an account before checkout
  • A complicated or lengthy checkout process
  • Trained customer base to wait for a promo

Analyzing the check out process from start to finish is critical. Do any of the above factors apply? One way to receive feedback on the shopping experience is to ask customers directly. For instance, ensure your sales and service team is in constant communication with your eCommerce team to convey customer comments and issues so they can be identified and resolved. A survey is also a great way to learn why some customers are abandoning their cart, and learn more about the user experience as a whole. It is becoming more common for site visitors to begin checkout and then intentionally stop, waiting for the best promo email to come their way. Then they circle back to complete their order after receiving a coupon code.

Fix the Problem

Once potential abandonment issues are identified, it’s important to resolve them. For example, on matters concerning shipping costs, be sure to show taxes and shipping rates as soon as possible. Notably, 61% of customers said they abandoned a cart due to high shipping rates. Make those costs known upfront and before customers reach the final checkout page.

For issues concerning an account required checkout, consider implementing a guest checkout option. With 35% of customers noting that they abandoned their cart due to needing to create an account, it would be prudent to offer this option. Conveniently, Magento merchants can implement a guest checkout option in the admin.

For more tips to streamline the check out process, read more about the path to purchase shopping experience.

There are plenty of ways to streamline the checkout process, and the effort to do so will pay off in conversions.

Bring Customers Back

Even merchants with a seamless checkout process will experience cart abandonment – it’s just part of the game. Customers may experience interruptions while shopping, and then forget to come back and finish the purchase. One way to get customers to return to their carts is with an abandoned shopping cart eMail strategy that includes eMail reminders. Personalized, timely retargeting eMails will move leads through the sales funnel at the right time.

Notably, eMail doesn’t have to be a chore, but it does require a well-thought strategy and seamless execution. One merchant found that sending a reminder eMail 30 minutes after a customer left their cart led to conversions. Further, the 30-minute reminder eMail strategy recovered 7.9% of what would have otherwise been lost sales.

Don’t Let Customers Get Away

High shopping cart abandonment rates can be frustrating, but they can also be an indicator of a more significant problem and an opportunity for growth. Analyzing and resolving shopping cart issues is a great way to enhance the user experience for customers and increase conversions and sales.

To learn more about cart abandonment and ways to streamline the checkout process, contact us to get started on your eCommerce project.

How to Improve PPC Campaign Performance

How to Improve PPC Campaign Performance

Improve PPC Campaign Performance

By Joe Williams, Magento Solution Specialist

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns are the most popular advertising method for merchants looking to market a brand new site, a new product line or specific sales or offers. Google AdWords PPC campaigns have become a staple in most marketing strategies. But, unfortunately, they are also the biggest culprit for wasted ad spend. There are several mistakes that merchants sometimes make when trying to promote a product with PPC campaigns that significantly detract from the ads’ efficiency. The good news is that there are several methods merchants can implement to improve PPC campaign performance.

Six methods to improve PPC campaign performance.

1. Increase Trust and Brand Recognition

The primary reason why PPC campaigns fail is that nobody knows who you are! Window shoppers notoriously click on the most opportune ads to browse and educate themselves on a product. In the end, they go with a trusted brand to make their purchase. So merchants often end up paying to educate a customer on a product that they will end up buying from a competitor. We are all creatures of habit, and although we enjoy entertaining other options and researching a new purchase, there has to be enough trust to go with a new merchant, as opposed to a familiar experience.

The solution to converting window shoppers is to build trust in your brand. Start by marketing to existing customers through remarketing ads, targeting custom audiences, or offering exclusive products. Exclusive products can be either specialized products or private label brands at a lower price than mainstream name brands. Merchants should also place more value on the word-of-mouth referral method. Referrals are generated by focusing on merchant reviews over product reviews and implementing social campaigns to help build an audience and brand recognition.

2. Improve Targeting

Identifying the right customers via personas is critical to the success of an entire marketing campaign. Understanding what the target audience needs to start a relationship and what motivates them to purchase is vital in targeting PPC campaigns to the right audience. As well as, ensuring that a customer has a consistent user experience from the ad copy to the website (more on that later in the post).

Ask yourself the following questions to establish what will attract the right audience

  • Who are your current customers? What do they have in common?
  • Which of your audience’s problems/needs does your product solve?
  • What events need to happen before a customer makes their final decision?
  • What forms of media does your target customers consume most efficiently?
  • Who is your competition targeting?
  • Do customers in specific regions convert higher than others?

The above list is just the beginning, but it will help to get going in the right direction to start creating and utilizing personas effectively for marketing campaigns.

3. Pay Attention to Campaign Settings

Campaign settings in AdWords are often overlooked and left set to default, or merchants select canned settings available without fine-tuning the details. Campaigns settings need to be continually optimized and organized so campaigns can take advantage of testing different configurations to maximize each ad’s capabilities. Below are five campaign settings that can affect ad performance.

Type

The type of ad determines where the ads will display, what kind of ads need to be created, and other customizable ad elements.

  • Search Network with Display Select shows the ad in both search results and on sites around the web.
  • Search Network only puts the ads in search results.
  • Display Network only shows the ads on websites.

For beginners, it’s best to start with Search Network Only ads. When using these types of ads, customers will see the ads when actively looking for products.

Location

It might seem to be a great idea to target a broad geographic area, but it does more harm than good. Especially on newer campaigns. Targeting customers with a defined location will not only improve an ad’s performance, but it will also enable you to track how well the PPC ad is doing in specific areas. For example, if you are targeting the entire United States, Andrew Lolk from Search Engine Journal recommends adding each state individually to monitor the performance for each state.

Bid Strategy

For budget strategy, there are three options available to select in AdWords: manual cost-per-click (CPC) bidding, enhanced CPC bidding, and automated bidding. Which option to choose depends on budget and goals.

  • Manual bidding provides more control, but it can be quite tricky for beginners.
  • Enhanced bidding is somewhat like manual bidding, but Google will set a new bid for searches that convert better.
  • With automated bidding, Google will try to get the most out of the budget. It maximizes clicks or conversions, and this is the best bidding option for beginners.

Ad Rotation

Merchants can choose the frequency of when to display ads to customers by utilizing ad rotation. You can select the “optimized setting” or the “rotate-indefinitely” option. The optimized setting will prioritize the best-performing ads based on keyword, search term, device, and location. Or go with the rotate-indefinitely option. The rotate-indefinitely option will distribute ads into the ad auction without an indication of time. One caveat is that there is no chance to rotate the ad to best optimize it.

Ad Schedules/Day Parting

Ad Schedules allow you to set bid adjustments on certain days of the week and times of the day to better control the budget based on site usage or business hours. The default setting is set to show ads at all times of the day, all days of the week. Meaning ads can be showing at low traffic times or days ineffectively using the budget.

4. Create an Awesome Ad-to-Page Experience

The message you’re promoting in ad copy helps get attention and clicks, but you also need that same message to resonate on the landing page to ensure a consistent user experience. The wording that attracted the customer to click on the ad should also entice them to stay on your site. The message should be relevant to the audience, be specific, prudent, contain pertinent keywords as should the ad’s coordinating destination page.

Always review the final destination page when creating and fine-tuning ad copy. Optimize the messaging to work together with the ad copy based on what’s worked in the past.

5. Use Ad Extensions Correctly

Ad extensions and callouts expand the ad with additional information about your business and can help build trust with a more visual real estate. Extensions can help increase click-through-rates and are available in the form of sitelink extensions, callouts, structured snippet extensions, price extensions, location extensions, affiliate location extensions, phone call extensions and app extensions.

For example, sitelink extensions include additional links to the search ad, and callout extensions append further details to the ads. Use sitelink extensions deliberately by setting them up to cater to the ad copy instead of using a library across the entire account.

6. Manage Negative Keywords

Negative keywords prevent an ad from displaying on irrelevant queries.  For example, if you sell swimsuits for toddlers, you could exclude winter clothes for infants. The best way to find negative keywords is to use the Adwords Search Terms report or a third party utility such as Wordstream’s Query Stream tool. Examine the search queries that generate traffic to the site and add any negative keywords that aren’t relevant to the business, or adjust the keyword type for better matching.

While there are many reasons why PPC campaigns might not be reaping maximum rewards, there are many ways to ignite and boost those stagnant metrics. Contact us today to get advice on maximizing PPC campaigns.

6 Strategies to Boost Revenue with eMail Marketing

6 Strategies to Boost Revenue with eMail Marketing

Boost Revenue with eMail Marketing

Businesses are in business to make money.  Of course, there are other, secondary marketing objectives, like generating more high-quality leads, increasing web traffic and boosting conversions. Arguably, however, each of these goals should be directed to increased revenue generation.  Otherwise, merchants are wasting both time and money.

eMail Marketing, when effectively leveraged, will boost revenue

Although no single marketing strategy can unilaterally help grow business (and all strategies should be effectively integrated), eMail marketing, if done correctly, can be among the quickest and best ways to see a return on investment.  Consider, for example, these metrics from WordStream:

  • Almost 60% of B2B marketers say eMail marketing is their most effective revenue-boosting strategy
  • Consumers who make purchases through promotional eMails on average spend 138% more than those that don’t receive such offers
  • More than 80% of retailers say eMail marketing is their most effective driver of customer retention
  • 73% of Millennials say eMail is their preferred means of business communication
  • ROI on average for eMail marketing is a stunning 4400%

Not All eMail Marketing Campaigns Are Created Equal

Of course, these metrics reflect marketing averages. Some businesses are far more successful, and many don’t do nearly as well. Merchants who experience the best results follow these six best practice eMail marketing strategies.

1. Create an abandoned shopping cart strategy  

According to research from Baymard, almost 70% of shopping carts are abandoned prior to purchase.  Consumers abandon shopping carts for a variety of reasons, everything from unanticipated shipping charges and taxes to security concerns to simple distraction. The good news is that there are effective strategies to complete these sales.  One of the best is the use of eMail reminders. According to Radley London, this simple strategy on average will recover 7.9% of otherwise lost sales.

2. Use eMail to upsell and cross-sell  

eCommerce giants like Amazon have become extremely adept at increasing revenues with effective upselling and cross-selling strategies. Amazon, for example, increased total revenues by almost $40 billion with cross-selling in 2015. If consumers buy a particular product, send eMails pointing out that other consumers who bought that product bought other, related products. If someone purchases one item of camping gear, recommend others to boost sales.

3. Segment subscriber list  

According to Marketing Sherpa, segmenting subscriber lists, based on demographics or online behavior, can increase eMail conversions by more than 200%. For example, when customers receive a one-size-fits-all eMail in their inbox, they may or may not be interested in the content and could even conclude that the seller didn’t know who they are or know what they actually are interested in.

On the other hand, let’s say a customer had shown interest in kitchen accessories. Due to this interest, the customer was then added to a segmented list dedicated to kitchen items. A day or two later, the customer was sent a series of eMails with helpful information about kitchen products. Because the customer received information on items that they were actually interested in, they’re more likely to be interested in the seller and more likely to buy.

4. Make welcome eMails count

Merchants that do not send welcome eMails when customers first subscribe are missing out on a golden opportunity.  First, welcome eMails have the highest open rates, between 50% and 60% according to a study by Epsilon.  Second, according to that same study, subscribers who receive welcome eMails are far more likely to engage with a brand for the long haul.  Make welcome eMails count by sending them as soon as possible after customers subscribe. In addition, focus content less on the business and more on the consumer.  And, again, make welcome eMails as personal as possible. For example, if someone shared their eMail address in response to a content offer, reference that offer in the eMail (as in, “I hope the email update on kitchen utensil color options helpful”).

5. Get automated now

Most businesses and marketing teams do not have time to respond manually to every trigger or manage the segmentation of thousands of subscribers.  That’s where automation can help. With an effective automation strategy, merchants can be sure to send eMails at the best times, A/B test various components of eMails and automatically send eMails in response to consumer behaviors. There are many eCommerce-centric email platforms that can help merchants stay organized. In addition, Magento offers several triggered and transactional email settings. Further, Magento has the option to personalize eMail templates within the admin.

6. Nurture, and nurture some more

Success with eMail marketing is all about being in it for the long haul.  Merchants shouldn’t assume that they will inspire consumers to buy their products and services based on a single eMail, no matter how well crafted and personalized.  Remember that effective eMail marketing should reflect an ongoing conversation, one where the merchant provides increasingly helpful, relevant facts to help customers make informed buying decisions. It’s simple, to boost revenue with eMail marketing, institute smart nurturing strategies.

Get started with eMail Marketing

eMail marketing is one of the best ways to increase the return on marketing investment, but it’s not the only way. To be successful, merchants need a comprehensive, integrated digital strategy. To learn more about the ways our Magento eCommerce solutions and PPC, SEO, eMail and social media marketing services can help boost sales and grow business, contact us today.

How a Developer’s Knowledge Can Help With SEO

How a Developer’s Knowledge Can Help With SEO

Technical SEO Tips

In the early years of the World Wide Web, the ideas and standards of fleshing out a website were in its infancy (if even embryonic) and the codependency of HTML usage and finding a site in a search engine was also beyond the horizon of understanding. As HTML developed and elements (i.e. “tags”) were created and retired, the structure of a web page became more standardized and the way search engines handled delivering quality websites to your desktop was (and still is) under constant development. The way the developers, designers, content creators, and search engines all understood how and why things should be structured all eventually started to become a real science as well as an art.

Once upon a time, search engines simply looked for “keywords” to decide if your web page was important to the searcher; then came the consideration of content and how many words were on the page (because if someone is writing a 5-page article on a topic, then their web page must really have a lot of information on that topic and be really useful, right?), then fast-forward to the Google-ized world of today and we have very intelligent search engines powered by very complex A.I. algorithms that consider everything from keywords, to content length, to whether all of those keywords and content are actually relevant to the article, and finally how well structured that content is on the web page as well as how the entire website is structured.

This all leads back to where a developer fits in, as they are the ones who have their hands in actually building out that informative and beautiful website that’s going to provide compelling and informed web pages for the precise topic you were searching, without fail.

Eight Technical SEO Tips From A Developer

1. Page Structure

A web page has three primary sections: head, body, and footer. The head (HTML element <head>) contains other elements with directives to tell the software loading the page (your browser) what exactly the page is structured on, what assets are necessary to build out the page (calls to CSS and JavaScript components) and also what basic information describes the page you (or a web crawler) are viewing, found in the metadata elements <title>, <meta name=”keywords”>, and <meta name=”description”>.

The body (element <body>) of the page contains the main content of the page. This is where the meat is, where all of those headings and vociferous paragraphs of information are laid out for your reading enjoyment. The structure and focus of this section are also extremely important, as there is a specific way to handle the content for both the human and the robot reader (i.e. search bots). More on this later in the article.

2. Metadata

As implied by their tags and attributes, these sections provide the primary title of the page, plus the short description (typically used in search engines), and any keywords that help target the page for search engines. These sections are likely the simplest to create, and also the simplest to get terribly wrong for SEO. In fact, due to abuse of the keywords meta, it’s often overlooked by modern search engines, but will be considered by some so it’s still useful to keep as long as it’s set up correctly.

Having a “correct” keywords meta simply means supplying only the keywords relevant to the page, and those should be kept to a minimum since the target subjects of the page shouldn’t be more than a few words anyway. Also, keep in mind that this relative to the page it’s on and not the entire website!

The title and description metas should contain keywords as well, but just like the keywords section itself, they should be concise and focused. If they are too short, they aren’t informative. Too long, and they’re distracting and tend to lose focus. As simple as these elements may seem, maybe almost too simple, they are very important when it comes to the initial “snapshot” of your page. Think of them almost as the “business card” that will be indexed by search engines.

3. HTML Headings

This is the part that also seems to baffle many web developers and content creators since the true intent of these headings is often misunderstood. Most who have ever created or altered a web page quickly learned that choosing an <h1> or <h2> or <h3> tag when placing text on a page meant changing how big or small and how bold (or not) the fonts were. It’s easy-peasy web design because you don’t have to choose font-size and boldness (and depending on the design platform, the actual font used) when putting anything on a page that needs to be bold and stand out. The downside to that quick-and-dirty designing is that you may be placing incorrect and/or multiple iterations of headings all over your page without even realizing it, which might look just fine to the human reader, but a robot web crawler that trying to figure out the design and structure of your page is pulling its ever-loving bolts out.

So here’s the secret: Think of your web page (and overall website) structure like the contents section of a book. You want a clean and well-structured listing of headings and subheadings that organize all of your information accurately and logically.

Headings (i.e. heading tags) are numbered from 1 to 6 in level of importance. The main heading of your page (the “title” of your article”) should be inside an <h1> element. The subsequent headings on the page should be represented by the next level of importance: <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, etc. There should never be another <h1> on your page unless it is declaring an entirely new section that holds the same level of importance as the <h1> before. Since most web pages almost never would do this, it really shouldn’t ever be present.

“…but what if I want a really big, bold font in the middle of my page??”

Well, honestly, you don’t. Why? Because search engines also look at the bold text as something important since you took the effort to make it stand out. This gets into nuances of the content where certain text can be highlighted to mark importance. However, don’t go too crazy here since this is also an old technique that has been profusely abused and, just like a soup, too much of a good spice can ruin the pot.

Here’s an image for you visual learners out there:

Technical SEO Tips

In the above image, you can see that there can even be multiple sections to your page where a navigation menu and a sidebar may exist above or alongside the body, but the body’s <h1> heading is the primary heading of the page that describes what all of the underlying content will support. The <h2> subheadings mark out each major section beneath the primary heading, and so forth. As a caveat, the footer section does not necessarily need header tags for the sections under it since those are often simply linked to other pages, but if there are even brief descriptions under those headings (as some design templates provide boxes to allow for a short content description) then it would be helpful to stick to the format.

4. “Alt” and “Title” Attributes for Images

These attributes on images are at best misused (or poorly used), and at worst are completely overlooked. Not only are these helpful for your SEO, but they are mandatory in what’s becoming an area of increasing importance: ADA Compliance.

The “alt” and “title” attributes are available for all images and are intended to provide extra information that a web crawler “bot” can’t glean from the image itself (since bots can’t “see” images).

<img src=”images/happycat.jpg” alt=”A happy cat, drinking some milk from a dish.” title=”Happy cat drinking milk.” />

This image element example shows how to appropriately use the “alt” and “title” attributes of an image. Not only does the image filename itself help search engines figure out what the image might be about and whether it’s relevant to the page on which it’s located, but the “alt” attribute helps provide a concise description of the image, while the “title” attribute provides something even more direct and concise. Both of the attributes help users with disabilities view web pages using a “web reader” that will seek out these attributes and describe the images on the page to the end-user who may otherwise have difficulty seeing the image clearly or discerning exactly what the image is for. Again, adding these attributes not only helps the web crawlers decide what your page and its assets might be provided as information, but it’s also showing that you took the time to flesh it out better so that your page can be completely indexed and digested by search engines, as well as all end users who may find your page a valuable source of information regardless of their abilities or impairments.

5. Sitemaps

Sitemaps are files that provide a “map” of your website for web crawlers and search engines. They can tell search engines which pages on your site are most important, and thus what to crawl first, as well as other metadata such as when pages were last updated and thus when they need to be indexed again.

The inclusion of a sitemap is especially important when launching a new website without a lot of external links pointing to it, as web crawlers spend a limited time crawling a website on a single visit. By providing a sitemap, a web crawler will make the most of each visit from one of those external links, crawling priority pages first and ignoring pages that have not been updated since its last visit.

6. Web Analytics

It is important that web developers setup web analytics for any site they build, as well as give the appropriate individuals access to the analytics dashboard. Examining the keywords users are searching for when they find your site, as well as how they click through it, can aid in the tailoring of content both to search engines and to users.

7. 404 Errors

Site quality is very important to high search rankings, and quality is greatly impacted when a website throws errors to the web crawlers indexing it. The more 404 “Page Not Found” errors a website has, the worse it does. Use Google’s Search Console or your web analytics dashboard to find any errors and be sure to remove the dead links promptly. If an external link is generating a lot of traffic for your site, but is to a dead or improperly formatted URL, consider setting up a redirect to the page that it is meant to go to.

8. Page load times

Bounce rates, the chance that users navigate away from a site after viewing only one page, increase astronomically the longer it takes a web page to load. According to Google, a two second increase in load time from one second to two seconds increases the bounce rate by 32%, while an increase from one second to five seconds increases it by 90%. A web developer can do a lot to decrease the size of a page, from optimizing image file sizes and compressing CSS and JavaScript files.

The know-how of a developer is vital for proper search engine optimization of a website. If you think your website needs a technical review, please contact us to learn more about the SEO services we have on offer.

5 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Accountability

5 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Accountability

Improve Your Marketing Accountability

This year, is improving your marketing accountability and growing your business at the top of your goal list? If your eCommerce business has been struggling to make the most of your marketing dollars, then try this on for size this year: make your marketing efforts more accountable!

You don’t need more arbitrary marketing that you simply hope will bring in the customers your business needs. Instead, find ways to make your marketing count and discover how well it’s working for you. Data from Forbes suggests that using data-driven marketing strategies can help increase your marketing success by 5% or more.

Five Ways to Make Your Marketing Efforts More Accountable

1. Create Specific, Attainable Goals

It’s easy to fall into the trap of setting intangible goals. You want to increase your marketing success, bring in more sales, and add more people to your mailing list. Creating marketing accountability, however, means taking it beyond vague goals and creating specific numbers that you consider to be a measure of success. For example, would you like to raise sales by 10% over the next quarter? Increase mailing list signups by 25%?

Setting goals that you can measure won’t just give you a way to evaluate success. It will also provide your marketing team with a benchmark to help them see how well they’re performing.

2. Watch the Right Metrics

Many merchants and business owners fall into the trap of watching vanity metrics. Vanity metrics look great on paper but don’t really contribute to the success of your business. For example, a thriving blog may draw in plenty of visitors on a daily basis, but if they aren’t making purchases or turning to your business with their purchases, these aren’t effective visits.

Another example. Social media likes and follows are great, but are they genuinely contributing to your business’s overall success and ROI? Make sure that you’re watching the right metrics. How many customers are you moving through the sales funnel? How are your sales working? Are you constantly struggling to bring in new customers, or is it easy for your business to attract repeat customers? Define the metrics that are right for you to watch your marketing efforts thrive.

3. Use the Right Tools

Talk with your marketing department to make sure that they have the right tools on hand to meet their marketing goals. Do they have a scalable website site that can support a massive traffic spike during sales and promotions? Is there solid analytics software in place to help measure traffic, check your site’s pages, and evaluate the search terms that are bringing visitors to your site?

With the right tools, your marketing team is able to accomplish more while reporting a better picture of what they’re accomplishing.

4. Know How to Target Specific Customers

Do you know how your customers’ past purchases relate to their current and future needs?  How can bring them back for another purchase? How can customer interaction teach your team more? Make sure your marketing team is taking advantage of that opportunity to learn more about customers’ needs and create targeted marketing for future efforts. Making a consistent effort to analyze your customers is a great way to increase customer lifetime value with a comparatively minimal expense.

5. Keep Measuring

Once you’ve set your goals and taken the steps necessary to attain them, make sure you’re keeping track of the marketing team’s successes! By evaluating those goals and checking in on their progress on a regular basis, you’ll find that you’re better positioned to maintain accountability and make the most of your marketing dollars. With an accountable marketing strategy, merchants have the agility to make changes quickly when numbers start to drop during slow seasons. The right data and numbers are invaluable to an agile marketing team.

This year, marketing accountability should be your primary focus for your business. If you need help with marketing accountability, contact us today to discover how we can help make that critical difference for your eCommerce business.

Four steps you should take to revitalize your digital marketing efforts

Four steps you should take to revitalize your digital marketing efforts

When Digital Marketing Efforts Aren’t Working

For eCommerce, digital marketing is absolutely crucial.

Regardless of the products you sell, you have to make sure that your audience learns about them and moves toward conversion on your website in some way. You probably already know as much. But what do you do when your digital marketing efforts aren’t working? When, regardless of your monthly spend on social media, paid search, and other avenues, you don’t get the conversions and transactions you need to meet your sales goals and grow your business?

In that case, not all is lost. Instead, a lack of digital success sends a signal to re-evaluate your current efforts and find opportunities for improvement.

From analyzing your customer journey to improving your eMail efforts, here are four steps you should take to revitalize your digital marketing efforts.

1. Reassess Your Audience

Even the best digital marketing message and strategy will not work if you simply target the wrong people. Consider the hypothetical example of a fitness and nutrition merchant whose marketing efforts reach audiences with little to no interest in fitness. The message, visuals, and value proposition might be spot on, but if it doesn’t reach the right individuals interested in fitness, that message will not resonate.

In examples like the one above, the targeting mistake is obvious. But often, more subtle miscues can lead to the same lack of results. Too many merchants make one of two mistakes in determining the audience for their digital marketing efforts. They either choose their desired audience based on a hunch or target their messages too broadly based on the traditional shotgun approach.

Merchants can earn a lot of information by examining their current customers. To get started, limit your targeting just to them at first. Go a step further and break down your current customers. Who are your highest-converting customers? Which portion of your customer base offers the greatest lifetime value? By examining these two groups, they will begin to display common characteristics. With this data, you can build and adjust your digital marketing strategy to a wider group with a greater chance of success.

In other words, one key to digital marketing success is to move away from the traditional shotgun approach. Seek out the most relevant and profitable segment of your target audience, and develop a strategy specifically designed to reach and convince them.

2. Analyze Your Customer Journey

Optimizing your target audience, of course, is only one step on the way to digital marketing success. In addition, you also have to make sure that your individual tactics and messages fall in line with audience expectations and pain points.

Depending on your industry, your audience may experience a very different journey on their way to becoming customers. If you sell convenience products, purchasing decisions are made in the moment, with little research. More complex alternatives prompt research, comparisons with your competitors, and other steps that lengthen the buyer’s journey.

Part of the reason your digital marketing efforts are failing may be a lack of consideration regarding the path to purchase. Put simply, you need to understand not just your audience, but also the ways in which they act and interact online. For products like yours, what research do they conduct to convince them it’s the right choice? Where do they conduct that research, and who do they trust most in making that decision?

In the same vein, you also want to consider just how your audience views your digital marketing efforts in context. Potential customers don’t read eMails, Facebook ads, and product pages on your website in isolation. The content, tone, and value proposition of each has to be integrated to provide a consistent picture, avoiding fragmentation and cognitive dissonance.

3. Dig Deep into Analytics

Another crucial step to take when your digital marketing efforts do not result in conversions is to take a close look at your analytics. If at all possible, try to identify the exact points of failure by looking at data points most relevant to your conversion and business growth goals. Some metrics to pay special attention to include:

  • Web conversion rates, separated by variables like referral channel and tactic.
  • Exit points, or the pages and tactics that are most likely to lose your audience before conversion.
  • Micro conversions, such as visits to your pricing pages and long stays on your website that do not lead to immediate purchases.
  • Bounce rate, or the percentage of web visitors who leave after only viewing a single page.
  • Lead to close ratio, particularly in relation to your individual marketing channels.

A deep dive into your analytics will also allow you to determine which part of your digital marketing strategy does work. You might find, for instance, that your paid search ads actually result in clicks and lead conversions, but your eMail follow-ups are not sufficient to provide consistent customer yield. That, in turn, can drive improvements in your eMail marketing that better leverages your existing successes.

Finally, even in digital marketing, it makes sense to go beyond quantitative analytics. When possible, gauge your audience’s opinion about your digital marketing and online presence in general by talking to them directly. For example, point-of-sales surveys help you determine how your customers heard about you, which messages resonated most, and more.

4. Improve Your eMail Efforts

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you need to take a closer look at your eMail marketing efforts. Even the most successful digital ads matter little if the leads they generate do not end up resulting in purchases. And even when they do, a better eMail marketing strategy can help you improve your customer retention rate and lifetime value.

Done right, eMail remains the single most effective digital tool available for any merchant. One study found that eMail marketing can boast a 4300 percent ROI, while another showed significant improvement in engagement, conversions, and customer value as a result of personalized eMails before and after the transaction. You might get attention to your products through paid ads and other digital tactics, but eMail is the key to helping you leverage that attention into actual revenue.

With the right eMail marketing platform, you can improve the way in which you nurture your existing prospects. You can re-engage cold prospects, and keep new customers involved and engaged with new products and sales. You can build a personal relationship with each customer through better messaging that ultimately results in higher transaction rates and revenue.

Refocus your digital marketing efforts and get back on track

Your digital marketing efforts might be failing in a number of ways. But ultimately, the point of conversion tends to be the biggest pain points for eCommerce merchants across industries. If you have a great product and message, you will get the attention of your audience. But you also have to make sure that this attention actually results in revenue for your business.

eMail marketing can be the boost you need to help in that regard – if you get it right. That means not just sending the occasional message, but building a comprehensive eMail strategy that leverages the timing of your send, your audience’s behaviors, and their individual pain points into a more effective conversion journey.

And of course, you need to have the right eCommerce platform to get to that point. InteractOne offers development solutions specifically designed for eCommerce merchants, while helping to refresh any failing marketing efforts and improving your strategy as a whole.

Contact us to start the conversation, and to grow your business through the process of more effective digital marketing.

11 SEO Trends To Increase eCommerce Sales

11 SEO Trends To Increase eCommerce Sales

11 SEO Trends To Increase eCommerce Sales

SEO trends to increase eCommerce sales

SEO Can Help Increase Sales in eCommerce

For something that has barely been around for two decades, eCommerce has taken the world by storm. Most people are perfectly happy to order almost everything they need online instead of braving stores, wielding shopping carts, and hauling bags around. People have many reasons to do all their holiday and household shopping through eCommerce platforms with the packages delivered straight to their door.

The big question is how can your eCommerce store get a bigger slice of the thriving online market?

One of the best ways to build your online sales is through SEO which, if used correctly, can efficiently bring customers to you who are ready to buy and want exactly what you have to sell. In addition to ensuring your site is set up properly from a structural perspective (meta tags, title tags, etc.) all you need is a list of keywords and a few clever strategies to find SEO success.

1. Do Your Keyword Research

The first place to start with any SEO project is your basic collection of keywords. These are terms that your customers might type into a search box when they want to buy your products. If, for instance, you sell decorative glass sculptures, your keywords would naturally include “glass”, “sculpture”, “interior decorating” and perhaps a few more unusual terms that fit the same bill like “paperweight” and “fishbowl”. Of course, for every keyword, there are dozens of possible variations, synonyms, and long tail (those three and four keyword phrases which are very specific to whatever you are selling) combinations that could apply. Remember when putting together your initial list of keywords that your goal is to predict the search terms of people who need your product but may not know it yet.

2. Use a Keyword Tool for Ideas

If you run out of steam brainstorming search words, turn your attention to the variety of online tools which can help you both explore possible search term variations and identify which terms are currently trending. There is a careful balance in SEO between what is popular and what is useful and your strategy should include both categories. Google has a variety of keyword research and suggestion tools and there are also several third party tools which will brainstorm keywords with you.

3.  Think Like a Customer

One of the biggest challenges for eCommerce SEO is lining up your efforts to suit the selection of product you offer. If you just sold pillows, for example, all your keywords could have to do with sleeping, pillows, or neck pain but if you sell many different kinds of items, expect to have a longer list of keywords. The key is to think like a customer who wants what you have to sell. Customers who know what they want will ask for category, product, and brand names and even specifications like size or material. Customers who aren’t sure yet will ask by typing in features like colors, texture, or function.

4. Customer-Centric Website Design

As an eCommerce business, it’s important to remember that your website is your shop. Everything about it needs to guide visitors toward becoming customers, especially the navigation. Use a very clear arrangement of navigation bars, tabs, and categories to help your customers get around and find what they’re looking for. Narrow down product searches by category and specifications for them and offer helpful tips on how to get exactly the right size or package.

5. Use Helpful Internal Links

If there’s one thing that both SEO and browsing customers appreciate, it’s a well-placed internal link. The ideal use for links is as breadcrumbs and a way to make helpful suggestions. Many eCommerce shoppers enjoy a list of similar items to help them narrow down their own search. You can also use internal links to reference things like policy, service, shipping, or sizing pages.

6.  Internal Search and SEO

When you’re a relatively large site, optimizing for searches isn’t just about Google and inbound marketing. You also want your own internal search function to come up with useful results. This means you’ll want to optimize every product page and blog to ensure that users looking for content on your website from the internal search function find what they need. Fortunately, because the search bar is on your website, you can also tweak the feature to have more helpful responses to search terms that relate to your products.

7. Add Breadcrumbs to Navigation

Customers moving around the site for the first time have a reasonable chance of getting lost or overwhelmed. Others may simply want to back-track to a page they were looking at before without searching for it all over again. This is where breadcrumbs come in handy, another feature that is greatly appreciated by search engine crawlers and is, therefore, good SEO.

Breadcrumbs are a list of links relating back to where you’ve been. In some cases, they are presented as your position in the site architecture, like “Clothes”, “Women”, “Tops” for example. Or they can be arranged based on exactly where you’ve been for the last few jumps which would look more like “Black Cardigan”, “Blue Cardigan”, “Blue Hat”. Both of these functions can help your customers get around and will improve their shopping experience.

8. Check for Technical Errors

No essay is written typo-free and no web page is written without errors, especially when you’re concerned with SEO, a topic that is more complex than it seems. While there are several options, one particular program by the surprising name of Screaming Frog is fantastic for letting you know where the errors are in your web page architecture like broken links and missing header tags. It can also be used to do a little cleanup while other errors will be yours to handle.

9. Manicure Dead Pages

Once you know where dead pages are from running a quick technical audit, it’s time to decide what to do with them. The last thing you want is a visitor browsing around thinking about buying only to hit a dead page with no convenient way back to their shopping cart. Manicuring dead pages and what your 404 page looks like can make a huge difference. Make sure to keep the browsing experience smooth and to give your customers a quick and easy way to return to the page just before they hit missing content or a closed item.

10. Write Unique Content for Every Product

Repeat text is a big no-no in SEO, but this means that if you sell many very similar items that the old copy-paste description trick simply isn’t going to fly. If you want to make it more likely that customers will be SEO-transported directly to the correct product pages, it’s best to write unique description content for each one. This doesn’t have to be difficult and it’s alright if the descriptions all look similar as long as you mix up the phrases and facts a little bit. If you do need to repeat the same details for many products, consider making a chart instead.

11. Encourage Internal Comments and Reviews

Finally, nothing kicks up website activity and improves the density of your best keywords like comments and reviews. Take a page from Amazon’s highly successful book and encourage customers to review your products right there on the page or in their delivery confirmation emails. Have places on the site for discussions, question-and-answering, and public customer service. This will increase your relevance via traffic and engage your audience to really think about and discuss what they thought of your products. The more reviews and comments, the better.

When your storefront is online, everything becomes at least tangentially related to SEO and building sales are no exception. Naturally, you need SEO to generate more search engine ‘foot traffic’ and accurately targeted SEO to ensure that your leads find exactly what they came for.

For more great tips and tricks for boosting your eCommerce business or assistance mastering the strategies described in this article, contact us today.

Five 2018 Digital Marketing Trends to Try

Five 2018 Digital Marketing Trends to Try

2018 Digital Marketing Trends

Digital marketing takes a giant leap forward with each passing year to help businesses of all kinds generate new customers and increase revenue. Below are some of the top trends digital marketers will be using in 2018.

Five 2018 Digital Marketing trends to try in the new year.

1. Create a content series

If there’s one thing businesses have learned with respect to digital marketing, it’s that creating good content is really, really hard. You need an aim, a purpose, motivation, and good creative skills.

A great way to give your content marketing campaign direction and bring users back is to create a content series. Practical Ecommerce article explains how this strategy can keep your audience engaged:

“While it may be beyond your business’s means to create a streaming video service, you can produce original content, publish it on a regular schedule, and use it to keep your audience of potential customers engaged. In 2018, create a series of podcasts, videos, or even books. Publish them on a predictable schedule, and create a following for your content and your business.”

A content series gives consumers something to look forward to. You’re able to go more in-depth with each episode, and consumers can always catch up by starting at the beginning of the series.

2. Go mobile-friendly

If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website by now, then you’ve likely already driven thousands of leads away from your business. Mobile users have no patience for slow, clunky sites that were clearly designed for desktops.

We always knew that at some point, the average business would have to prioritize mobile over desktop when it comes to website design. We think that point will come in 2018. Especially if your target audience is young, consider designing your site for smartphones and tablets first and worrying about desktops later.

3. Invest in Instagram

Facebook has been the go-to social media site for marketers for years. That might finally change in 2018.

Instagram is showing no signs of slowing down. This Entrepreneur article predicts it to become the most important channel for brands in the new year:

“In 2017, Instagram announced that approximately 800 million people use the platform each month. Their latest tool, Instagram Stories, became more popular than Snapchat just one year after going live. Since brands tend to see better engagement on Instagram than any other social media platform, and because of great advertising controls, Instagram is poised to become the go-to channel for brands interested in social media marketing.

“Instagram has everything: pictures, videos, stories, influencers, ads, and so on. It passed Twitter long ago and is now creeping up on Facebook.

As an added bonus, Instagram lets you send DMs to anyone. It’s perfect for generating leads and getting in touch with influencers.

4. Create more videos

There’s a reason why so many businesses are investing in video marketing. Videos are engaging, immersive, and great content to share on social media.

We expect that trend to continue in 2018. Create some room in your budget to create a video and put it on your homepage. You can also combine this strategy with the content series. By creating short, informative videos with professional editing, you can increase your brand awareness and establish credibility.

5. Get a chatbot

Many marketers are predicting chatbots to become widespread in the upcoming year. You’ve probably already interacted with one before. Typically, they’re set to trigger after a user spends a few seconds on a website. They are then prompted to contact the business.

Chatbots are either powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) or real people. Either way, they’re great for getting in touch with leads and prompting them to contact your business.

To talk more about the 2018 digital marketing trends detailed above or anything else, contact us today.

Guide to Configuring Products for Good SEO in Magento 2

Guide to Configuring Products for Good SEO in Magento 2

SEO in Magento 2

The Importance of properly setting up products on Magento 2 for SEO

Content optimization is critical for SEO. This includes properly setting up products on eCommerce websites.  

Properly setting up your products in Magento 2 requires knowledge of your products and the time to think through each aspect. Properly setting up products now, will help to mitigate problems later on or the need to change products. Below we’ve outlined how to set up products for good SEO in Magento.

Magento settings

  • Product Meta Tags
    • Stores > Configuration > Catalog > Catalog > Product Fields Auto-Generation
      • Currently Magento 2 only supports {{name}}, {{meta description}}, {{meta keywords}} and {{sku}} but SEO extensions can add other attributes to be used in these fields. We do not suggest using {{description}} here because the description field content is often longer than the standard 160 character limit reserved for meta descriptions.
      • IF you use this as a stopgap, we suggest adding the SKU because product names can be duplicated.

  • Stores > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization (scroll to the bottom of the page)
    • Use Categories Path for Product URLs: Set to No

  • Stores > Configuration > Catalog > XML Sitemap

  • Setup Google Analytics and AdWords using the built-in configurations and not embedding the tracking codes directly in the template.
    • Stores > Configuration > Sales > Google API

  • Embed other tracking scripts
    • Content > Configuration > Edit the Website or Store View theme (based on your store settings) > Header for scripts that need to go into the header, and Footer > Miscellaneous HTML for scripts that need to go into the footer.

  • If you have a dev site, be sure Search Engine Robots is set to noindex/nofollow on dev/staging and index/follow on production.
    • Content > Design > Configuration > Edit the Website or Store View theme (based on your store settings) > Search Engine Robots set to NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW on dev/staging and INDEX, FOLLOW on production.

  • Default meta titles:
    • Content > Design > Configuration > Edit the Website or Store View theme based on your store settings > HTML Head

    • Change your meta titles so they’re not set to the default. Meta fields should actually be specifically written for each category and product, so you’re really just updating this setting so that it’s not empty or using the Magento default values.

Magento SEO extensions

Use either Magento 2 SEO extension or Advanced SEO Suite for Magento 2

 

Plan the Organization

  • Navigation
    • Prioritize popular categories and products first in the sort order.
  • Related / Upsell / Cross Sell Products
    • Set them up or use an extension
  • Attributes
  • Avoid duplicate products. If you have duplicate products, custom options or configurable products may be a better solution for you.

Product names

  • Unique, useful and understandable.

Product Images

  • Images are one of the first things customers see, so use good ones..
  • Include image Names
  • Include Alt Text

Custom Descriptions

  • Focus on the customer need or problem the product helps resolve, or a story of the lifestyle where the product could be used.

Product URL

  • Edit the product > Basic Settings > Search Engine Optimization > URL Key
  • We recommend leaving the Create Permanent Redirect box checked, unless you deliberately want to kill the old URL, or are just setting up the product for the first time and don’t necessarily need the redirect rule.

Meta Descriptions

  • Edit the product > Basic Settings > Search Engine Optimization > Meta Description

Meta Keywords

  • The best use for meta keywords is to make that field searchable when using site search. Include alternate spellings, names, and details for the site search to pick up.
  • Edit the product > Basic Settings > Search Engine Optimization > Meta Keywords

Structured Data

  • Make sure all schema.org microdata is setup properly, including availability and all user generated content fields.
  • There are rich snippets testing tools available to test your product page markup.

User-Generated Content

  • Reviews
  • Comments
  • Customer Photos
  • Customer Video

Test on Mobile

  • You’d be surprised by how many merchants sit at their computer and don’t use their phone to view their own website. View your product pages on mobile to make sure the images and content display properly and completely.
  • Reference the Mobile Usability report in your Google Search Console account (located under the Search Traffic sub-menu) to ensure Google isn’t trying to tell you they’ve detected some issues.

  • Check site speed on mobile (as well as on desktop).

Contact us to learn more about setting up products for good SEO in Magento 2. Checkout some other good articles on SEO: 3 Ways Merchants can Improve SEO for eCommerce and eCommerce SEO Basics Merchants Need to Know.