Pay Per Conversation

An SEO company knows that for marketers to become successful in their Search engine marketing efforts, PPC can no longer stand for “Pay Per Click” — it must stand for “Pay Per Conversation.” Many marketers agree that the current state of the economy is having an impact on their marketing plans.

That’s why every pound and click matters. Every click is a potential customer trying to engage you; will you continue the dialogue or have them bounce off your landing page just moments after they arrive? What you want to do is engage and persuade your visitors to keep taking the next click, all the way through the purchase funnel. To achieve that, you must demonstrate the value of your products and services in all your marketing, especially when sales are decreasing. You do that by planning content to improve relevance and test continuously until you have the best conversation.

The next series of posts will show you how to identify missed conversations and what you can do to improve them and your PPC ROI.

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How To Create Ideas That Spread

How to create ideas that spread. How do you do this yourself or do you try some SEO outsourcing? We know, here at SEO Liverpool, the big challenge is coming up with the ideas.

We can look at what’s worked, but many successes don’t tie back to your business. As with all Search Engine Marketing, there are different ways to approach this. The Coke and Mentos case (one of the largest scaling virals) doesn’t get you to consume more of those products.

3 Rules:

1) Thou shall know thy customer – find out what customers are looking for.

2) Thou shall be remarkable – about doing something different from what you’ve done before.

3) Thou shall try, try, again – most efforts don’t take off. Every try improves your chances.

Brainstorming the ideas:

Need to ask – what do customers love about you? In our case, small businesses like us because we have a small business. What do customers not like about you? Whats your biggest challenge? Address a problem like customer service.

What sparks online conversation? You must always be part of the conversation – important to be in the forums and social networks.

Can you do something outrageous like the Coke and Mentos and Will It Blend? Gets the marketing message across. Can you do something funny? Funny sells. Scary also tends to go viral.

Tie into holidays or events like the Olympics. You can find cool charts that show Twitter activity, with spikes. Great, see whats getting people to talk about online.

Can you get the most of something? Biggest this, etc.

What do you want people to say about your company? Can you get people to address this?

Create or embrace controversy? Can be dangerous.

Underdog stories.

Look at your analytics. See what sends people to your site. Not just traffic but engagement. How long are they spending on the site (Anyone involved in web SEO should be doing this!)

What motivates customers? Price? Service?

Look at your capabilities. Look at your budgets and limitations. Can you create and edit videos? Can you create and edit Flash games? Can you create and edit widgets? Do you have a skilled writer? Do you have a skilled researcher? Humorist? Do you have an email list or can you buy one? Can you partner with a non-profit?

Understanding campaign costs. If something is free, you must know if the ROI is sustainable. Starbucks got in trouble by canceling a free offer that went out of control. A competitor took advantage of that. Know your break even points.

Can you do this in house, or do you need to outsource this? Bring all this together to know your starting point.

Make it easy for people to spread content. Establish relationships. You need to be involved in the community. That’s the key. You lose that credibility of the pitch if you’ve never been heard of before.

Before pitching – aim for at least half of these:

1) Read at least 3 posts on their site.

2) Comment on one or two existing posts.

3) Write at least two sentences that are unique to the person pitching. Needs to be personal.

4) Have at least one other person read the email before you sending it.

5) Contact the blogger to share feedback before the pitch.

6) Keep track of which sites you pitch. Can get tough to manage a big campaign.

Must do’s before pitching:

1) Make sure your pitch addresses the person by NAME. Simple but few do it.

2) Make sure you have the right email address. Don’t send to webmaster@domain.com unless you are looking for the right email.

3) No mass emails! People will know.

4) Be transparent. Let them know who you work for.

5) Spell check your message.

6) Familiarise yourself with their readers. Read the comments.

7) Ask yourself in all honesty if the pitch is really relevant to readers.

8) Check to see if they have a policy about accepting pitches.

9) If you pitch multiple writers at the site, let them know in the text of the email.

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404 or 301 Your Old Pages? Which is Best For SEO?

We’ve had a bit of a discussion at SEO Liverpool about getting did of multiple subpages & not get penalised. The discussion is around the topics of using different techniques when removing or redirecting pages.

Which is better to do for SEO? Do you want to 301, redirect a page, or 404, return a not found status, a page?

I can tell you that the best SEO companies think about this fairly frequently. At Summit we take different approaches for different sites. I try, try hard, to not think only about SEO and think what would also benefit the user.

Here is my guide:

301 redirect everything you possibly can, when it makes sense. If you have a page about big blue pineapple chairs on the old site and you are moving it to the new site, 100% use a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one. However, sometimes it is not that easy.

Sometimes you have a site with hundreds, if not thousands of pages, if not more. Manually redirecting each page is a huge chore. When we can, we set up logic based 301 redirects, to redirect the old URL to the new URL dynamically. That can result in thousands of redirects, but Google should handle those fine over time.

For all the pages that do not match that pattern or logic AND for sites where there is no logic (large, old, non-database driven sites), you want to manually redirect the most important pages. So make sure you have analytics installed on the previous site, way before launching the new site – this way you have the 301 redirects in place, on the most important pages, when you launch.

Then, all other pages, I typically set up a 404 page, returning a valid 404 status code, plus it is set up as a custom 404, so users who land on it, have an avenue to find the right page.

Some people have suggested that sometimes you should think about setting up what is called a “soft” 404 page. Basically, a soft 404 page, is a page that looks like a page not found page, but returns a server status of 200, meaning, the page is valid and active and should not be deleted. The only issue I see with that, is that the URL of the page will be different but the content of the page will be very similar, if not exact, to the other soft 404 pages you set up. Of course, if you are a smart coder, you can look at the Google referrer or the old page’s data and serve up contextual relevant product or content on that page, which would make the page’s content more unique.

So, like I said, it totally depends on the situation and your search engine marketing experience.

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A B2B Paid Search Success Equation Part 2

Quality of visit: assessing the value

Now, let’s turn our attention to the quality of a visit and how it factors into your paid search success equation.

To start, let’s get personal. What’s the value of a visitor to your site? (Play annoying game show music now). Okay, time’s up. The answer is, of course, that it depends.

Yes, it was a trick question‚ but the point is that there’s never just one definitive answer for this. The value of a visitor to your site should depend on the action they take while there.

Yet all too often, B2B marketers routinely identify a call to action, implement a tracking pixel, and plunge forward with their SEO PPC campaign with little regard to the differences in value.

Why is this? Especially considering the complexity of the buying cycle, and as noted earlier, that prospects are in different phases of it. For instance, some visitors may want to register for email updates or free white papers while they are researching their options. Others might want to look up product specifications or use product comparison widgets as they edge closer to making a buying decision.

Given that, each specific call to action on your site should have an assigned value, dependent on what it provides. Consider registrations – they actually capture user information, so naturally, they should receive a higher value than other actions where the visitor remains anonymous.

Essentially, what you want to do is create a quality index. Why? Because having a clear understanding of the value of a visitor (essential with all search engine marketing) can help you shift your marketing pounds away from the keywords that don’t perform strongly, to those that do.

To accomplish this, first identify all of the different actions a visitor can take on your site. And be thorough. Then rank them in order for the value they hold. Next, assign values to each action based upon what it delivers for your business.

Once you have your calls to action indexed, use a tracking system to capture these actions that occur as a result of paid search activity, and incorporate these values into your optimisation efforts. Lastly, use this information to inform your bidding strategy.

The bottom line is that while keywords, ad copy, and landing pages are fundamental to paid search, alone, they won’t add up. Tracking and understanding the quality of a visitor are also essential to your paid search success equation.

Unrelated Note

Please remember that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys, quality PPC and SEO agencies charge for the high standard of service their clients receive. Here at Summit we’re getting bored of clients asking for cheap search engine optimization and PPC.

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