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Internet Marketing Service

Pop-up Ads: Does Google Hate Them?

By | Internet Marketing Service, Search Engine Marketing, search engine optimization, SEO News & Updates, seo tips

The internet as we know it today wasn’t always the way it is. Advertisers saw the potential reach of the internet back in the early 90s and started using it aggressively to advance their marketing goals. And the pursuit of capturing the internet user’s undivided attention resulted in the creation of the revolutionary pop-up ad. Today we’ll be discussing how pop-up ads were invented and why Google has come to severely penalize websites that use them.

First, let’s talk about where pop-up Ads came from and their history…

Pop-Up Ads: A Brief History

Back in the early 90s, there were less than 4 million internet users in the entire world. But the internet was gaining popularity at a swift pace and by 1995 the total number had grown to 16 million people. This rapid growth was something that marketers and advertisers could no longer ignore and soon the world of online advertising was born.

The first online ads were nothing more than images with some marketing text in them. These are now more commonly referred to as banner ads.

By the late 90s, online advertising was commonplace and advertisers were working hard at finding new ways of getting the internet user’s attention. But there was a problem. Advertising technology was still in its infancy and that led to online ads being placed on random websites. As one car company found out when they realized that their ads were being served on an adult website, which they believed would negatively affect the reputation of their brand. Thus, online advertisers had to find a way of disassociating the ad from the website they were being served on. This effort indirectly led to the invention of the pop-up ad.

Ethan Zuckerman, the inventor of the pop-up ad, designed it to cover a part of the website’s content underneath it. The pop-up ad had its own design so it stood out from the website it was being served on. This created a strong disconnect between the website and the ad itself and so the reputation of the brand being advertised would stay intact (in theory), while ads could still be served freely on any kind of website.

The pop-up ad proved to be a hugely popular way of advertising online. By 1997, popular websites such as AOL and the New York Times were pushing advertising through pop-ups.

This popularity was one of the major reasons for the pop-up ad’s demise. It was being overused, and that led to people being frustrated because of the way it hindered access to a website’s content. A study conducted in 2004 found that 95% of internet users reacted negatively to pop-up ads.

How Pop-Up Ads Work

Pop-up ads work through the use of web page scripts (predominantly JavaScript) that allow them to jump in front of the website’s content. Pop-ups may appear as separate windows or as part of the web page, obscuring the content of the web page being accessed, to instantly catch the attention of the visitor.

Pop-up ads are designed to deliver “in your face” advertising. They’re something that cannot be missed and usually needs to be closed. Because the pop-up is guaranteed to get at least one click (meant to close it), it can be misused to instead redirect that click to another website. This is why most people find pop-up ads to be a deceptive or misleading form of advertising. In worst case scenarios, pop-up ads have been known to run malicious scripts designed to collect sensitive data or install spyware.

What Google Thinks of Pop-Up Ads

As annoying as pop-up ads were, they were never really on Google’s radar and as such the search results of a website with pop-up ads weren’t affected. That quickly changed as smartphones gained popularity and a bulk of searches started to come from mobile devices.

From 2015 onwards, Google started implementing some new search engine measures that favored websites providing good mobile user experiences. The first of these measures was the mobile update which was announced in the autumn of 2014 and rolled out on April 21st, 2015. This update included search results which showed a “Mobile-friendly” label for websites that had been optimized for mobile devices.

Google SERP Penalties for Intrusive Pop-Ups

The push for better mobile user experiences led to Google penalizing websites that showed intrusive pop-up ads (or interstitials, as the company calls them) in early 2017. According to Google, an intrusive pop-up is anything that takes unreasonable amounts of screen real estate and generally impedes the user’s access to a website’s main content. The following are clear examples given by Google of pop-ups it deems to be intrusive:

  • A pop-up/interstitial that is displayed on top of a page’s main content immediately after a user has navigated to that web page from Google search results. This can also include pop-ups/interstitials that are displayed while the user is reading the content.
  • A pop-up/interstitial that forces the visitor to dismiss/close it before the content of the page underneath can be accessed.
  • A pop-up/interstitial which has been incorporated into the design of the page and appears at the above-the-fold portion of the page, with the original page content appearing after the interstitial.

Examples of Pop-ups/Interstitials that negatively affect Google SERP rankings

This, however, shouldn’t be confused as a blanket ban on the use of pop-ups, for advertising or otherwise. Google just wants to discourage the use of intrusive pop-up ads that lead to a sub-par mobile user experience. The company has set clear guidelines for the types of pop-ups/interstitials that will not cause penalties for websites:

  • Pop-ups/interstitials that have to be used due to a website’s legal obligations. These can be age verification dialogs (for websites with mature content) or cookie-usage policy disclosures.
  • Pop-ups/interstitials that block access to a website that provides paid access to its content. The interstitials could be used for providing customers a way to login or to block the general public from accessing the original content of the page. An example of this would be news websites where a user needs to pay a monthly or weekly fee to be able to access the website’s content.
  • Pop-ups/interstitials/banners that take a small amount of screen real estate and can be easily closed by the user. Some common examples of this would be notification prompts or app-install banners that are shown in an above-the-fold portion of a website.

Examples of pop-ups/interstitials that are permissible according to Google

The Reasons Behind Google’s Dislike for Pop-Ups

1. Pop-Ups Lead to Subpar Mobile User Experience

Smartphones have limited screen real estate due to small physical display sizes. A pop-up ad can potentially take up all of the screen’s available space, thus forcing the user to either dismiss or follow through on what the Ad wants. This leads to frustrated users and a bad mobile experience in general.

2. Pop-Ups Disrupt the User Experience

The pop-up was invented to create a strong disassociation between ads and the websites they were being served on. Needless to say, this clearly hints at the fact that pop-ups rarely deliver content that is relevant to the website’s visitors. Not only that, but they’re also frustrating to encounter as they hinder access to what the user is really there for – the website’s content.

3. Pop-Ups Encourage Aggressive Advertising Tactics

Pop-ups have been designed to grab a user’s attention whether they like it or not. Pop-ups that are displayed successfully will always be able to show their content to the user. This has given advertisers the opportunity to include ‘click-bait’ content that is designed to get the most amounts of clicks. The focus here is not on the quality or relevance of the ad, just the number of clicks it can get from visitors.

Important Factors of Pop-Ups that Impact SEO

Pop-up ads can have a direct impact on the overall success of the SEO strategy of a website, even when Google’s penalties are not taken into account.  The following factors should be considered when implementing pop-up ads on a website:

1. Timing

The timing of a pop-up ad can often decide whether it’s going to be considered as intrusive and frustrating by the user. Pop-ups that are displayed immediately after a webpage is accessed, are deemed intrusive by both Google and most internet users.

As such, it is advisable to display such pop-ups after the user has browsed a certain length of content on the page. Ideally, pop-ups should be displayed when the user has reached the end of the content and is likely to leave the page. If the user likes the content, they’re more likely to click on the pop-up and not leave with a bad impression of the website.

2. Interaction

A pop-up should be easily dismissible by the user. This can include a clear “X” mark at the corner of the pop-up or a button which closes the pop-up ad. Considerations should be made to close the pop-up if the user clicks outside of the pop-up (this shows intent to access content).

Final Thoughts

The pop-up ad has revolutionized the way online advertising is delivered to web users. However, user response to this has been overwhelmingly negative. That is why most modern web browsers now include built-in pop-up blockers. But the pop-up ad is not going to disappear any time soon – it still remains a reliable way of capturing the attention of a website’s visitors.

Why SEO Takes Time & Is It Worth It?

By | Internet Marketing Service, Search Engine Marketing, search engine optimization, seo tips

Many disgruntled website owners turn to SEO to improve their search engine visibility and rankings. But they soon find out that even after months of painstaking SEO, the website’s performance in search engines shows little signs of improvement. At this point, many of these owners will start questioning their SEO consultants and their capabilities.

why search engine optimization takes time to workThis is mostly because marketing through online ads produces swift results, and many website owners get the wrong idea that SEO will do a similar job for them. The truth of the matter is that SEO takes time. But if it takes time, is it worth it in the end? In this post, we’ll be discussing the answers to these important questions.

Why SEO Takes Time to Work

Competitor Analysis is Tricky and Takes Time to Perfect

There’s a great chance that many other online companies are selling products and services very similar to yours. These are your competitors and the ones you want to target are those on top of the search results.

That is, of course, easier said than done as everyone is constantly trying to get there. And the ones who’re already there make every effort to keep their place.

importance of being patient when doing search engine optimizationDethroning these websites requires that you do a thorough analysis of their SEO strategy. This takes both time and resources and can be a tricky thing to get right. Make no mistake, you will not figure out a strategy that works for you the first time.

There will be a lot of hit-and-miss involved and many times you’ll see other competitors crop up and take the place of SERP leaders.

The Variables Involved in SEO Strategy

SEO is a vast domain, and there are a lot of variables to keep track of just to stay relevant. Let’s take a look at some of these and how they’ll affect your website’s SERP.

  • Age of Your Domain and Website: The older your domain is, the more time Google or any other search engine has had to crawl through it. You will see many people looking for “aged” domains just because search engines know these exist and they’ll have a better chance of being indexed.
  • Website Design: Websites with great user experiences are favoured by Google. A crucial part of your SEO strategy should be to weed out any bad design elements on your website. This requires skill and time to get right.
  • Reaction to Trends and Regular Content: Your website should be constantly updated with fresh content so that it’s on the radar of the search engines. Trends are also something to keep in check as they bring up new keywords and if your website reacts to popular keywords, search engines will take notice.
  • User Activity on Website: If users are spending a lot of time on your website, it means they’re getting what they came looking for. It also sends good signals to a search engine as it shows your website has relevant content.

A combination of the variables discussed above will determine how well you fare in the search rankings. Keep in mind that keeping track of these variables is a time-consuming process.

Not sure where your website is at with search engine optimization? Get an instant online SEO report (link opens in a new window)

For example, you may find that a website design flaw is causing visitors to leave your website. That may take some time to fix and those users may take time to come back. This will have to be repeated until you find the perfect fix that keeps visitors on your website for longer.

This is what it takes to implement a successful SEO strategy for any website. SEO isn’t a single process; it consists of many smaller but equally important processes that need to be executed efficiently and effectively in order for the overall strategy to be successful.

Any SEO expert worth their salt will inform you of these factors and give you a realistic timeline to see progress in your website’s SERP performance. Agencies that promise you swift results are looking to make a quick buck and obviously don’t care about their reputation.

Why SEO is Worth It

Now that we’ve seen the effort that goes into executing a successful SEO strategy, we can appreciate the time it takes for the strategy to show results. But in the end, is such a time-consuming process really worth it? Let’s take a deeper look at why it is.

People Use Search Engines to Get Content

SEO matters, and it’s more important now than ever. Google alone processes 40,000 searches a second, so it’s obvious that a lot of people are using search engines to find what they need. What’s more, search engines have become very sophisticated and they now favour websites that follow SEO rules responsibly.

Without search engine recognition even if your website has a huge amount of useful content, it won’t be able to reach the end user. At A.P. Web Solutions, we focus on drawing attention to the content you produce. Click here to find out more about our SEO services and find out how you can get a complimentary website analysis.
More importantly, all of your competitors are already using SEO, so you’ll have to use it as well if you want to stay relevant.

It Produces Organic Growth

SEO remains the most sure-fire way of getting real, organic growth of traffic for your website. You might be fine using online ads for some time, but they’ll cost you exorbitant amounts of money after a while and the returns will be diminishing.

SEO, on the other hand, benefits you in two important ways: it increases your SERP ranking and gets you, real followers. These followers are more likely to share your content on social networks which can give your website a huge boost in both traffic and rankings.

This is called organic growth and this is the only viable growth strategy if your website is going to be in business for a long time.

Google Assistant Vs Amazon Alexa: What Voice Search Means For Local Businesses

By | Internet Marketing Service, Search Engine Marketing, search engine optimization, seo tips, Voice SEO

voice SEO, voice search engine optimization

Voice search is dramatically shaping the future of search engine optimization (SEO). Marketers should embrace the changes and learn more about voice SEO techniques that are associated with the mobile age.

Bing stated that voice search accounts for up to 25 percent of all organic searches on its platform although this technology is still under development. However, this does not mean that marketers should pay less attention to the voice search, which goes back to the early 2000s when Google began exploring how voice recognition software could apply to its suite of services. Google’s voice searches have increased significantly since 2008.

Research studies revealed that the ability to get faster results is one of the most important motivators for using this type of search. This trend demonstrates how voice search changes the way users find the right content online. Intent plays a major role in voice searches than traditional queries.

Over the years, the technology has evolved and it has been adopted by several tech giants, including Apple that introduced Siri, its voice search application. Although Siri is associated with the iOS, Apple’s operating system, it is an independent application developed by a third party developer. Apple eventually acquired the application and integrated it with the iPhone 4s in 2011.

What’s the Difference? Typed Searches vs Voice Searches

Text-based and voice searches deliver relevant results that are closely linked to the users’ intent. Search engines rely on advanced algorithms to determine the context of the spoken or typed keywords. However, text and voice searches provide varying experiences when it comes to results.

Voice queries are becoming more functional and accurate as voice recognition software evolves. According to a report published by Google, the majority of users turn to voice search for quick queries. These include searching for the nearest restaurant and other queries linked to local search engine optimization. Traditional search is used mainly for complex or sensitive subjects, such as healthcare.

Many people also prefer text-based searches for queries involving adults-only intents. On the other hand, it is rare for users to conduct voice searches when it comes to social media. Experts attribute this trend to concerns surrounding the possibility of voice-enabled technology spying on user activities.

Phrasing, tone and word choice are key factors that differentiate between typed and voice searches. This means search engine marketing (SEM) practitioners need to focus on the vocal communication patterns of their customers. Unlike traditional search queries, voice search typically comes in the form of questions. Users express themselves through natural language.

It’s common for the searches to reflect a conversational tone and the queries are aimed at obtaining quick answers. For this reason, marketers should strive to adapt their voice SEO strategies accordingly. Long-tail keywords play an important role when aiming to attract traffic via voice search. The same applies to optimizing site content for direct answers to common questions posed by user’s queries.

For their part, search engine algorithms have become more accurate when detecting user’s intent thanks to artificial intelligence.

Google Home Assistant Vs Amazon Alexa

Google voice searchAmazon Alexa and Google Assistant provide high-quality products for the living room. It comes as no surprise that the two brands have been hogging the limelight in the digital assistant market. The products are compatible with smart speakers, phones and a wide range of smart home devices.

Google Assistant is powered by advanced artificial intelligence software. It allows users to enjoy an interactive experience when using a Google Home speaker and Android phones. It is Google’s version of Siri.

Alexa works with Amazon’s products like Echo smart speaker and the Fire TV remote control. The digital assistant makes it easier to enjoy added convenience at home or on the go. Users can receive a traffic update or dim the lights using a voice command. Google Assistant and Alexa are both compatible with a wide selection of third-party products designed to promote smart living.

Here’s a real-time graph of interest (based on the number of searches worldwide over the last 12 months) comparing Amazon Alexa vs Google Home:

The technology behind the digital assistants is getting smarter by the day thanks to continuous research and development efforts by Amazon and Google. Many people find Assistant impressive because it offers a more natural experience. Google taps into the vast knowledge derived from its internet search platform to provide an intuitive experience.

As a result, Alexa has been playing catch up and it began showing significant improvements in recent years. Assistant has the ability to answer more questions than Alexa. Advanced artificial intelligence displayed by Assistant is impressive. It can answer complex questions like “When are taxes due in Australia?” The technology can even skip to the next song when the user provides an adverse comment about a track that is playing on Spotify.

Meanwhile, Alexa does not support thumbs up and down, thus spoiling the experience. On the upside, the product has its own set of strengths that users will find useful. The digital assistant allows users to take advantage of short words (wake words) to activate a device. In addition, it offers a number of apps designed to expand functionality. With the apps, users can play music on radio stations, perform guided meditations or peruse recipe books. The features are known as ‘skills’ and users have a choice of more than 25,000.

Google’s version of the ‘skills’ is available in the form of ‘actions.’ However, Assistant offers a limited number of options than Alexa. Users can choose from hundreds of actions.

How Businesses Should Adapt to Voice Search SEO

Voice search has dramatic implications on search engine marketing (SEM) and also presents a challenge to SEO experts. Unlike traditional search queries, voice search does not focus on exact keywords. Instead, users are conversational in tone. This means businesses need to respond to the dynamics of voice search by providing quick answers to user’s questions. Long-tail keywords and FAQ-type content reign supreme.

Marketers should not limit the frequently asked questions (FAQs) sections to a static list. It is important to vary the content to provide accurate and relevant answers that meet the user’s expectations. The approach is beneficial for both traditional and voice search.

The content should be optimized for mobile and voice search since a significant number of internet users connect via mobile devices. Good content performs well on mobile and desktop platforms.

SEO vs. PPC: Which is Better?

By | Google AdWords, Internet Marketing Service, Pay Per Click Marketing

Every business needs traffic to survive. Whether you’re a brick and mortar business or an online E-commerce business, traffic is the lifeblood of a website and unless your plan for the website is to simply serve as a brochure for people who already know about your business, you’re going to need a consistent flow of incoming traffic to get new leads.

The question is, what kind of traffic is most suitable (and affordable) for your business? Without knowing which one you should invest your time and energy towards, you’re going to be spinning in circles.

SEO vs. PPCLet’s look at your options:

  1. Organic Traffic
    – Search Engine Optimization
    – Content Marketing
  2. Paid Traffic
    – Google AdWords
    – Social Media Advertising (Facebook Ads, LinkedIn ads etc)

Organic Traffic – SEO

Advantages

  • Long-term & Sustainable. Once you’re ranked, you don’t pay for every Click.
  • Builds on itself. In other words, the more you rank, the more you’re going to rank (think compound interest)
  • Works well in conjunction with Content Marketing. As your website gains more authority with more links, Google starts trusting it more. And when Google trusts your website, the blog articles you publish have better chances of getting ranked for their respective keywords, thus generating even more traffic.

Disadvantages

  • Requires patience. It can take 4-6 months to start getting results from SEO, if not more.
  • Requires upfront investment.
  • Difficult to find an SEO agency that can actually rank websites and stay up to date with Google’s changing algorithms.

Suitability Criteria

SEO is not suitable for all businesses! Most SEO companies won’t tell you this and if you ask, “Will it work for me if I do (insert literally any profession here)?” the answer is always invariably “Yes”.
In reality, however, there are certain criteria that can indicate whether an SEO campaign is going to be an ROI positive investment for you. So if you’re not sure if you should be investing in SEO, ask yourself:

  • Is there a sizeable audience looking for your services online? In other words, do your main keywords have decent search volumes?
  • Is the first page littered with extremely large websites? If yes, do you have the budget to go after those keywords?
  • Are you financially in a position to invest potentially several thousands of dollars for months before you see an ROI?

If you’re not sure where your website stands in terms of SEO right now, use our free SEO audit tool to get an instant website analysis and comprehensive checklist delivered to your inbox!

Paid Traffic – PPC

Advantages

  • Instant results. If you set up your Ads properly and they are well optimized, you can start getting clicks (and hopefully, calls) within days!
  • You “pay per click” which means you don’t pay unless someone has clicked over to your website.
  • Google Ads can provide highly targeted traffic if they are set up properly.
  • Multiple platforms at your disposal. While SEO brings you targeted traffic from search engines like Google and Bing, paid traffic allows you to get your business visible on Facebook, LinkedIn & other social media websites that would otherwise have very little organic reach.

Disadvantages

  • Bucket with a hole. The minute you stop paying Google, your traffic ceases.
  • Unlike SEO, your Clicks from today don’t help you build a reputation or “trust” with Google that could help you tomorrow.
  • Bidding system. Google AdWords’ pricing works on a bidding system, which means if you’re in a competitive industry, your “cost per click” might keep increasing as your competitors bid higher than your bids. Your cost per click would also vary depending on your PPC management skills.
  • Pattern Interrupt Marketing: If you’re advertising on social media websites, realize that people aren’t there to shop for products or services. However, if your Ad is good enough to engage them and your product gets their attention, it could work, especially if it is an impulse purchase.
    Service-based businesses or consultants are at a large disadvantage with this approach. In other words, if the purchase of your product or service requires more than a couple of minutes of thought to reach a decision, social media Ads may not be ideal for your business.

Suitability Criteria

PPC can be a valuable lead-generating asset for a business IF you understand what you’re getting yourself into. Here’s what you need to know before investing in paid traffic:

  • You’re never going to stop paying for clicks.
  • The amount you pay for every click will vary depending on how much your competitors are bidding and how well your Ads are performing.
  • You will need to hire a PPC expert to set up and manage your Ad campaigns. AdWords Express was Google’s attempt at streamlining the process but all it really does is burn through your budget by showing your Ads to people way outside your target demographic.
  • Making PPC work for you is not as simple as setting up the Ad campaigns. It involves a lot of tweaking and split testing.

Conclusion

Organic and paid traffic both have their place. SEO and PPC can, in fact, work very well together. Technically, you can occupy a top organic spot AND an Ad spot, thus having more of the real estate on the first page and capturing more traffic.

Additionally, there are some keywords that may just not be worth going after organically but can get you Paid clicks and some additional traffic. These are keywords that may not have huge search volume (number of people searching that keyword per month) but for whatever reason, they are difficult to rank for due to the websites on the first page. In this case, considering the balance of difficulty and search volume, PPC becomes a great alternative.

So while one is not better than the other, if you only have the budget to invest in one, it depends on how fast you want the results. If you need results and sales yesterday (and you have the budget), PPC is the way to go. If you want to build a long-term stream of traffic that can build your business’ reputation and trust online, SEO is for you.

What You Should Know Before Hiring an SEO Consultant

By | Internet Marketing Service, Search Engine Marketing, search engine optimization, seo tips

Search Engine Optimization is a rapidly growing industry. Forbes reported in their forecast that SEO related spending by businesses in the US alone would be close to $80 billion. This is likely because companies are starting to realize the importance of targeted marketing over conventional broad advertising. Although traditional advertising mediums such as radio and TV ads have their benefits, they are largely beneficial for branding efforts rather than lead-generation purposes.

SEO compared to conventional advertising mediumsAs large companies have deeper pockets and can afford to invest in branding campaigns to make their brand a household name, most local businesses are not trying to do this. They simply want to generate more phone calls. And it is much more cost-efficient and effective to have your message heard by people who are looking for your service rather than casting wider nets and hoping for the best. That is exactly why SEO investing is on the rise.

However, SEO can be as confusing as it is effective. Unlike paid traffic where you can basically get results within a matter of days (sometimes hours), organic traffic is a much more challenging beast. There are many variables at play and all of them weigh differently in Google’s core search algorithm. As such, unless you have a background in digital marketing, you likely have no idea how to gauge an SEO consultant’s competence (or lack thereof)

In this article, we will cover some of the most important things you should understand before hiring an SEO consultant or SEO services for your business. We will address terms you should be aware of, how to track and measure results of the SEO work being done on your website and much more.

SEO Terminology: What You Need to Know

Organic vs Paid Traffic

First of all, let’s draw a clear distinction between organic traffic and paid traffic.

Paid traffic is any kind of traffic for which you are directly paying the source or channel that the traffic is coming from. Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn ads are all examples of paid traffic because you pay for every click (or impression) that your Ad gets. “PPC” is a commonly used abbreviation which stands for Pay Per Click and is generally used in the context of Google AdWords.

Organic traffic is traffic coming to your website that is the result of your site’s reputation, authority, content etc. Building this authority, having good content and making Google believe that your website adds a lot of value to the Internet (and by extension, your customers) is what search engine optimization is all about!

“Organic traffic gets 94% of clicks while paid Ads only get 6%”

Source: Neilsen

In other words, if a keyword gets 100 searches per month, studies show that 94 of those people will go straight past the Ads and click on the organic listings while only 6 will click on the Ads. Very similar to how most people stop paying attention to the TV when Ads are playing.

 

What are Keywords?

A “keyword” is not exactly just one word but a “search phrase”. For example, if you own a physiotherapy clinic in Melbourne, one of your keywords could be “physio clinic Melbourne” or “back pain physio Melbourne”.

Keywords are at the core of any SEO strategy or campaign and it is very important that you choose the right ones that are likely to yield the best ROI.

 

How to Choose the Right Keywords?

Most SEO and digital marketing companies will offer an analysis of your website before giving you a quote for their services. This analysis should consist of recommended keywords and their respective search volumes.

It is VERY important that you know your keywords’ search volumes before you commit to an SEO consultant and start a campaign. Google reports how many people (approximately) are searching (per month) for any given keywords through their AdWords dashboard. Of course, the reason they reveal this information publicly is to convince people to buy Ads.

We can use this information to get a pretty accurate approximation of the potential ROI of ranking at the top for your keywords. Also, give some thought to the buyer intent of your keywords. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers who are typing these keywords into Google and think about how further along the buying process they are. In other words, are they ready to buy right now or are they just doing some research?

For example, someone searching “physiotherapy Melbourne” may be looking for a physio clinic and might make the call if they find a decent website. But someone searching “physiotherapy clinic for neck pain in Melbourne” is more likely to become a customer sooner as their query is more specific. On the other hand, the longer a keyword gets, the less often it is searched which means the search volumes for these types of keywords might be lower. So consult with your SEO specialist and make sure you choose a combination of keywords that are most likely to bring you traffic that you can monetize.

The reason this is important is that the nature of your keywords will have a direct impact on your conversion rates. So if you are 5 or 6 months into your SEO campaign and you feel that the number of phone calls or leads has not been satisfactory, you will need to look into your conversion rate (more on Conversion below).

 

Organic Rankings vs Local Map Rankings

A common point of confusion for people is the difference between your organic rankings and map rankings. Remember that these are 2 different entities and ideally, your SEO consultant should focus on ranking both of them. They often go hand-in-hand but sometimes, one requires more effort than the other.

“Map rankings” refer to ranking in the “map pack” (also called the “3-pack) which appears at the top for most local keywords. If your keyword has a location in the phrase, such as the name of a city or suburb, then there’s a very good chance that the results will display a “map pack”.

Ranking in the map pack can be very valuable for local businesses, especially for businesses that have a physical location. The majority of searches performed on Google are on mobile devices. The map pack gets a lot of real estate on the small screen of mobile devices and has a direct Call button. This convenience and ease of use for the customers make the map pack attractive to businesses.

However, as there are only 3 spots the competition is higher than ever. If your map ranking is lower than #3, then you do not appear anywhere and have virtually no visibility, unlike organic rankings which yield progressive results.

Organic rankings are shown below the map pack and link straight to your website. Here’s a snippet of what they look like (on desktop), as you have probably seen when you searched something on Google.

Ideally, you want placement in both the map pack and the organic results. The distribution of traffic between these 2 also depends on the industry. People that are looking for someone to fix their problem as soon as possible are more likely to click on the Call button and may not care as much about what your website looks like. For example, if a pipe broke in your house, you probably need a plumber as soon as possible and you’re not going to spend 30 minutes doing research.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a lawyer or a surgeon, it’s a much more serious and potentially delicate matter, so you might take the time to do your due diligence and look at several websites and read reviews before making a decision.

 

How to Measure Your SEO Results?

Rankings are King

The best method of monitoring results of your Search Marketing campaigns is tracking your rankings AKA your website’s position in the search results for your main keywords.

All SEO Agencies have their own methods of reporting and presenting the data to prove that the SEO work being done is getting results. All that is great but at the end of the day, remember that the primary indicator of whether it is indeed working, is to see how well your rankings are progressing.

Sometimes, an SEO company will try to deceive you by showing all sorts of charts and graphs and snapshots from your Google Analytics to try and prove that the website is getting traffic. But any kind of traffic does not lead to getting phone calls from your ideal customers. It is targeted traffic we want and that is why you are investing in SEO rather than other traffic acquisition methods.

Remember that getting a good ROI from local search engine optimization is not about the volume of traffic but the fact that said traffic is highly targeted and your ideal customer demographic.

So above all else, your priority should be tracking your rankings and if they stay stagnant for too long, it is an indication that your SEO consultant has hit a wall and is not able to figure out what is holding the rankings back. This often happens with high competition keywords where your website could get stuck on the lower first page or the second page.

 

Tracking Traffic

Before your SEO agency starts working on your site, it is important that you note your baseline traffic levels so you can monitor the effectiveness of their work in the coming months. If you are tech-savvy at all, you should be able to install Google Analytics on your website. If not, ask the SEO agency to do so and make sure that you have access to the dashboard.

google analytics helps you track the traffic on your websiteGoogle Analytics can be complicated and overwhelming to look at on first sight. But remember that at this stage, we’re only looking at the number of Sessions and Users on your site. We don’t really want to analyse traffic flow or user behaviour at this stage. That comes much later. Right now, we just want to know how many people are visiting the website over a 30 day period.

Once you have this snapshot, comparing it to the same numbers 4-5 months into your SEO campaign should tell you how well your SEO is working. Now of course, ideally you should know that SEO is working because you’re getting more phone calls but it is not always as simple as that.

 

Conversion Tracking & Optimization

Once you start getting more traffic to the website, you should start getting more phone calls and leads. At this stage, you should consider studying your website’s conversion rates more carefully.

Of course, you need to make sure that you are building your SEO campaign on the right foundation from the get-go by having a decent looking website. But when it comes to the smaller changes and tweaks that can improve your conversion, it is best to learn from studying your current traffic flow.

For example, if you find that a particular page is one of the biggest “Exit points” for your visitors and it doesn’t quite make sense for it to be so, that page needs more attention as it is clearly losing traffic.

Conversion optimization is a step that many people miss from their strategy. More traffic is great but it is not always the best solution (or the most cost-effective solution) to get more leads. Making the best of the traffic your website is getting will make sure that you’re getting the highest possible ROI on your marketing dollars.

 

A.P. Web Solutions is a Melbourne-based SEO consultancy working with local businesses Australia-wide to generate more leads through organic and paid search. Call 1300 780 112 to speak to one of our SEO consultants!