Web Search & Marketing Newsletter: July 2011
Welcome to the new issue of our regular monthly newsletter, which covers some of the recent trends and developments in the field of web search and online marketing.
In this month's issue you can read about the benefits of landing page optimisation to improve your website's conversion rates. We also take a look at how using Google's Insights for Search can improve the marketing of your business. Finally, you can get some good tips about how to use a professional link-building campaign to benefit your website's rankings.
You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subject. You can also follow our Facebook page for updates during each month, or we will also post news on our Twitter account.
On to this month's edition...
The Benefits of Landing Page Optimisation
To make your search engine marketing campaigns effective, it's essential to ensure that the landing pages to which your visitors first come onto your website are optimised to maximise their potential. This is especially important if you're running a Google AdWords campaign, because the relevancy of these pages to the adverts and keywords helps to increase your Quality Scores and hence reduce the average cost per click.
The primary aim of any marketing landing page, however, is to get conversions – whether these are enquiries, newsletter sign-ups, sales or any other interaction from the website. Therefore if the landing page is correctly optimised it can provide a competitive advantage for your business compared to your competitors, and achieve a better ROI (Return on Investment). Landing pages can be customised to suit the product or the traffic source and there are two main kinds of tests that can be done to improve the performance of a landing page.
These tests are known as A/B split testing or multivariate testing. The former is the simplest method and involves a comparison between the control page (A) and the test page (B), which has a change to a single element, such as a picture, or headline. Once both pages have generated a required volume of visits and conversions, the one with the better conversion rate would be retained as the control page and a new test page would be created to try and improve upon those numbers again. The maximum recommended number of pages to test at one time is three, otherwise the tests can take too long to complete.
Further tests would be performed upon different elements and page copy until the optimal page is created. The time when no more improvements are possible would become known once all variations have been tried and there's no significant difference between the pages. The advantage of A/B split testing is that not much technical knowledge is needed and useful results can be achieved with only a small number of visitors.
Multivariate testing is a more in-depth process that involves changing multiple elements of a page simultaneously. The advantage of this approach is that the experiments can be very complex and they can produce great results for a website that attracts high volumes of visits. However, this testing methodology needs careful planning and some skilled interpretation of the accrued data to get statistically reliable results. If both these factors aren't taken into account, the landing page can end up actually producing fewer conversions.
The main point to remember with landing page optimisation is to remain consistent in the changes being made and to just alter the same type of elements in each test (i.e. the page's content, rather than any other factors such as traffic sources or, possibly, page design). Another crucial factor to consider is to keep records of what has already been tested, as it's easy to replicate previous tests and end up going round in circles without making any progress.
Google can help with this process through their Website Optimizer tool, which enables website marketers to set up and track the results of landing page tests. In time, and with the correct strategy, the benefits of a well-implemented testing procedure can result in the reduction in the cost of a Google AdWords campaign as well as excellent improvements in a landing page's conversion rate, thereby lowering the cost per conversion.
If you'd like more information about how to use landing page optimisation to improve your website's conversion rates, please contact us now.
Using Google's Insights for Search
Google's excellent Insights for Search tool allows you to compare search volume patterns for a number of search terms across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties. Whether you're an advertising agency, a small business owner, a multinational corporation, or an academic researcher, Insights for Search can help you gauge interest in relevant search terms.
Insights can help you determine which search queries might product the best results for your business. For example, when comparing 2 or more different search terms in this tool, it's easy to see a comparison between interest levels. Although this can't be used as a primary keyword research tool, Insights for Search does help to provide more background information for search engine marketers to help them understand the profile of a market, which in turn can be a crucial element of a Google AdWords campaign strategy.
Insights can also be used to determine seasonality of search traffic. For example, it can show at which time in the year there are the most searches for a particular product or service. By producing a comparison across a number of previous years, the results can be fairly consistent. This information can be vital in the planning of resources, such as advertising budget or staffing requirements.
Another useful function of Insights is the ability to create brand associations. This is done by applying the category filter which narrows the data down to just the selected category. So a computer company, for example, could determine what the related and rising searches are for desktop PCs, hence allowing it to understand competitors' offers and how to compete with, or differentiate from, that brand.
Finally, Insights can be useful in determining a new market, or where to target existing marketing campaign. By entering search terms within the regional interest section, the results of the volumes can be displayed across global, country, suburb, or city views. Using this form of targeting can save companies revenue from entering into a wrong market, or marketing in a region where there is little interest in its product or service.
Google states that the tool is designed for general analysis of search volume patterns. To get some reliable results from this tool, you do need to compare search terms that attract quite high volumes of activity, or terms that have a similar search volumes so that the charting provides meaningful data.
However, if you've not yet tried it, Insights is worth a look and you might find some surprising results! If you'd like any help with this tool or need further information, please get in touch.
Tips for Link-Building Directory Submissions
A successful search engine optimisation strategy needs to incorporate an effective link-building campaign. Within this, there are many advantages to directory submissions, the main one being that they produce one-way links to your site. They can also produce some visits to your site, but this isn't the primary reason for submitting your site to the directories.
Specialised business directories are particularly significant, as when implemented into the correct categories, the links that they provide are high in relevancy, which is what Google likes as part of its ranking criteria. Relevant links from other high profile directories such as DMOZ can improve a site's ranking because it is recognised as a reputable source which is well connected, although it remains very difficult to get a listing here!
The following are some tips to maximise the potential of a link-building campaign:
- Decide which directories to submit to before the process begins. There are lists available that point you in the right direction, but like the directories themselves, these need to be selected carefully to ensure relevancy and successful results from submissions.
- Keep organised. This includes making a detailed list of all the directories that have been submitted to. This prevents duplication and time wasting. The cost and login details of each directory can be recorded for future reference, as well as the time taken to submit to them and the results produced. Through this record keeping, a database of good directories can be compiled over time.
- Select the correct categories for the listings. Relevancy is key, so ensure that the link to your site is only placed in the most relevant category. This is not only beneficial for the results, but also to ensure that the directory's webmaster doesn't fast-track your submission to the bin, if it's carelessly submitted. The hierarchy of the category is also important, as those nearer the top level of the site produce the greater link value back to your site.
- Choose the correct title for your submission. This is important because it will become the link back to your site and so including relevant keywords within it will produce the best results. This title should then be varied between directories, so that search engines don't penalise the links for being too repetitive.
- Ensure the description is keyword relevant. Although the title is more important than the description, it's also important to include relevant keywords within it, as they help to determine the relevance of the link. The description should also not be too repetitive across directories, so short and long variations should be included. Excessive use of punctuation, capitalisation or sales pitches should be avoided as this can lead to the rejection of your submission.
- Finally, perform the directory submissions over random periods of time. This shows search engines that the link building is natural and not artificially created (which can result in abnormally large increases in the amount of links to a site and set off virtual alarm bells within the search engines). The more natural, relevant and well placed the links are submitted within the well respected directories, the better the results will be.
If you'd like your website's rankings to benefit from a professional link-building campaign, please contact us now for more information.
Follow us on Facebook & Twitter
Readers of our Web Marketing Blog will have seen that after nearly 4 years and over 460 posts, we recently decided to end the blog and provide news and updates on the web marketing sector through the social media channels. This reflects the changing nature of the online market for communication and allows us to be more flexible in updating our clients and followers with the latest developments. Therefore if you use Facebook or Twitter, you can now follow our news and updates using these channels:
Regular updates will continue to be posted through our main Twitter accounts:
- Web Marketing Workshop (latest developments in the web marketing field)
- Web Training Workshop (web search tips & advice, plus training courses).
More detailed information will be posted on our Facebook pages:
- Web Marketing Workshop for news, comment and trends
- Web Search Workshop for search marketing advice and tips
- Web Training Workshop for training course updates.
We hope you've found this month's newsletter useful. Please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions to us.