Delving Deeper into Google Maps Q&A

Last month we wrote about Google’s New Q&A Feature For Maps and now we’ve had more time to look at the new feature, here are some key points you should know about when looking to use it for your business.

#1 – You may need to update the app to see it

The new feature begun rolling out in August, but if you have automatic updates disabled for you apps, you may need to manually update via the Play Store in order to see and use it.

#2 – Customers don’t receive notifications (at least not yet!)

At this point in time, if a customer submits a question and the business responds to it, they won’t receive a notification. This contradicts Google’s initial statement: “When you get an answer, we’ll notify you through Google Maps.” It’s more than likely that this will be fixed in an update soon.

#3 – Businesses need the Google Maps app to track questions

To receive notifications of customers submitting questions, business owners are required to have the Google Maps app installed on their device, linked to the account that they also use when managing their Google My Business listing. At this point in time, notifications from Q&A don’t show in My Business, so you really need to be using the Google Maps app to see when a potential customer has asked a question via a push notification.

#4 – The name and profile of customers who ask questions is visible

By clicking on the submitted question, you will be able to see the information of whoever asked it, including their name, photos and number of reviews. This information won’t appear on the initial list of questions however.

#5 – ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ answers should be avoided

Google My Business Top Contributor Tom Waddington has stated that there is the potential for yes and no answers to be exploited by way of the customer editing the initial question. To avoid embarrassment, make sure your answers are detailed and contextual.

# 6 – Up-voting affects how questions are shown

Google, in their initial statement, described how “upvoting makes popular questions more visible.” This means that questions with a number of likes will appear more prominent in the actual business listing, meaning that users don’t have to click through to see it. This will be quite valuable for your most common and important questions and answers.

To summarise, the Google Q&A feature in Maps is a powerful and interesting new tool for businesses, but it will take close monitoring in order to use it properly. Be pro-active with managing questions and give detailed answers to get the best out of this exciting new feature!

4 Common Domain Name Misconceptions

Here are 4 common misconceptions about registering a domain name.

1 – Registering a domain name is difficult!

You can purchase or ‘register’ a domain name in as little as 5 minutes these days. There are plenty of registrar websites that function like clockwork and are designed to be as simple as possible. They offer the tools to search for available domain names as well as offer suggestions for others if the specific one you’re looking for is already registered.

Our personal favourite is namecheap.com, but a simple Google search will give you many, many alternatives to try out and it generally comes down to personal preference.

2 – I only need one if I have a website

There are more reasons to own a domain name than just for hosting a website. Many people register a domain so that they can utilise a professionally branded email address, or as a way of pointing visitors to elsewhere on the web, or they register it prior to even building a website just to ‘reserve’ the domain before someone else does.

It’s a smart move to purchase a domain name ahead of time, so that when you’re ready to build a website, you have peace of mind that you already have the domain you want secured.

3 – Registering a domain is expensive

Depending on the extension of the domain and the period of time you want to secure it for, some domain names can be registered for as little as 99 cents for a year. It’s quite common for businesses to buy domain names in bulk to use in a portfolio or overall marketing campaign. There are some “designer” domain names out there that cost in the thousands (and even millions!), but for the most part they are extremely affordable.

4 – Registering a domain = owning a domain

When you register a domain, it’s more akin to renting it than owning in. Domain names are purchases usually in annual increments and once that period of time has passed, you have the choice of renewing the registration or letting it go back on the market. It’s not uncommon for other businesses to swoop in and take your domain if it becomes available, particularly if it has attracted a lot of traffic previously – so it’s important to keep on top of renewing your domain if you wish to ‘keep’ it!

How To Predict Your ROI From SEO

SEO, and online marketing in general for that matter, can seem like a daunting endeavour to business owners and marketing execs who are just breaking out onto the web world. After all, you can quite easily sink a large budget into your online activity without being able to accurately predict the return on your investment in terms of traffic and subsequently possible sales. But the same could be said for more ‘traditional’ forms of marketing – billboards, flyers, radio adverts for example. If anything, it’s easier to foresee your ROI  with online marketing, as the statistics are all available if you know where and how to look for them.

Here’s how you can judge the value of SEO and get a grasp of how your online marketing strategy may play out:

1 – Estimate Web Traffic

It all starts with generating traffic. Without traffic, you won’t generate revenue from online search. It’s important to know the size of the marketplace and subsequently how much of that market you will realistically be able to attract to your site.

You can start by targeting one of your products or services to analyse, preferably your most popular. Take that product or service, and create a least of 10-15 keyword phrases that a potential customer may use when searching for that product/service. Easy peasy. Once you have your list, take it into Google’s Keyword Planner, which will give you monthly search volumes based on geographic location. This is a great place to start and will give you a general idea of the online market for your particular products and services.

Using this (estimated) figure, we can also get a rough idea of how much traffic you could potentially get based on your position in the Google search engine results page (SERP). The below table shows the relative average Click-Through Rate (CTR) based on rank:

Average Rank Average CTR (%)
1 17.6
2 9.94
3 7.64
4 5.31
5 3.5
6 1.63
7 1.09
8 1.04
9 0.44
10 0.51

 

So using the above table, we can (very roughly) use a formula to calculate average monthly web traffic you could be getting from organic searches.

The formula is as follows: Monthly Volume x CTR.

Simple right?

Of course it depends where your website is going to rank, and unfortunately you can’t predict this, but you can take a look at how your competitors are ranking for those keyword phrases and garner a rough estimate of what positions you can achieve and therefore what kinds of volumes you can expect from organic searches. We can then use this information to estimate potential revenue.

2 – Estimate Revenue

After determining how much traffic you could be getting a month, it’s possible to get a general idea of the amount of revenue you can generate. To do this, you will need to determine your website’s conversation rate. If you don’t know this information (you can gather this using Google Analytics), you can use the following generic conversation rates instead:

  • For an ecommerce website, use a 2% conversion rate
  • For a lead generation website, use a 5% conversion rate

You will also need to know:

  • Average Sale – What is the value of an average sale across your entire catalogue?
  • Close Rate – What percentage of leads your company receives are closed as a sale?

With all of this data, you can again use a formula to project your potential monthly revenue:

Monthly Traffic x Conversion Rate x Close Rate x Average Sale = Monthly Revenue

Of course, the above will only give you a guideline of what you can potentially achieve, and you will also need to calculate profitability and take into consideration the timeline of your strategy.

Are you looking to utilise online marketing to generate more revenue for your business? Is your company unconvinced by the idea of pursuing online search but you don’t have the time to gather the data above? Fill in your details below and we’ll do it for you, free of charge:

WEBSITE ANALYSIS TOOL

Increasing Sales with Product Page & Ecommerce SEO

It’s not rocket science, but it can still come as a surprise how much of a positive impact SEO will have on the revenue and sales generated by your ecommerce website. Optimising for search engines as well as conversion will increase your traffic and sales, it’s that simple. Here are the most common questions we get when it comes to optimising product pages and overall ecommerce websites when it comes to SEO:

  1. What do I do with Out-of-Stock products?

We preach about this time and time again; the simplest answer is to leave the pages up. You may want to remove the page from any direct navigation if you aren’t expecting to restock the product for quite some time, but keeping the page indexed with Google will do your overall SEO a lot of good. If you are keeping the page accessible from your menu or category system, you are much better off by offering alternative products on the page than simply deleting or replacing the product itself. This is not only good SEO practice, but is a far better option for the customer experience – better yet, if your business can accommodate it, offer a ‘backorder’ service.

  1. What about new products?

Your internal link structure and semantic architecture need to be strong in order for new product pages to be able to rank well. Your home page should link to your categories, and your categories to your individual products. See our previous post on how to correctly structure URLs  for a few more hints on how to properly organise and optimise your URLs.

You should also look to feature your new products on your homepage in order to have them seen and indexed as quickly as possible.

  1. How do I handle content on product pages?

Content on product pages is often overlooked or managed poorly by way of mass importing from a database, which leads to duplicate, lacking or broken descriptions. As we all know, content is key when it comes to Google , so it is important that your product pages have unique and accurate written content.

You can start by targeting your most popular products and bolstering their content manually. This can be a long process, depending on the size of your catalogue, but it will be worth it. You can also strengthen your category pages with good content, breadcrumbs and link structure.

Also, harnessing user generated content can bolster your SEO. Ask your customers to leave reviews and endorsements to increase your content as well as to boost conversions.

  1. How important are category pages?

Very. In fact, next to your homepage, category pages are the most powerful. You should treat your category pages like homepages in themselves, focusing on particular niches and topics. As above, they should have rich, unique content with a good internal linking structure. As you may have guessed, they should also have a semantic, search-friendly URL, for example:

Category Page: Website.com/category/

Sub-category page: Website.com/category/sub-category/

Product page: website.com/category/sub-category/product-name/

Is your eCommerce website generating enough sales?

The above are only a few areas to consider when optimising your ecommerce website. Not only are there many more SEO best practices to follow, there are also a number of ecommerce SEO pitfalls you should be avoiding at the same time.

Is your eCommerce website generating enough revenue and sales for your business? Have you given your website an SEO audit to find out how well it is optimised and do you know how it compares to your competitors? Using our free SEO audit tool below, we can answer all of these questions and more. Give it a try:

WEBSITE ANALYSIS TOOL

AdWords Ad Rotation Settings Being Trimmed

Recently Google announced that they would be making a change to the settings for ad rotation with AdWords. Whilst there were previously 4 settings available, these will now be sliced in half, leaving users with the following 2: “Optimize: Prefer best performing ads” and “Do not optimize: Rotate ads indefinitely.”

Users will now also be able to adjust the rotation setting at the ‘ad group’ level as opposed to campaign level, giving a little more fine-tuning control. The aptly named ‘do not optimise’ setting will provide standard, even rotation (or ‘old school’ if you please!) whilst the new setting will optimise for clicks in each individual auction using signals like keyword, search term, device, location and more.

Google suggests (strongly, might I add) that you run at least 3 ads in an ad group. They’re quoted stating “The more of your ads our system can choose from, the better the expected ad performance.”

This move brings Google AdWords even more in line with the trend of giving control over to machine learning technology. We can expect this update to roll in late September, with the obvious next step to be phasing out “rotate indefinitely” completely.

Google Testing Ads in Local Business Knowledge Panels

Google is currently “experimenting with new ways to surface helpful and relevant local information to users on Google Maps and Search,” according to one of its spokespersons  “Maintaining a good experience for our users is our top priority and based on feedback, we’ll determine whether to roll these changes out permanently and broadly.”

More accurately, they have begun testing ads within local business knowledge panels as they look to monetize the increasing number of local searches. You can see in the below example that a Groupon ad has been served on a local business panel for a club.

Google has been testing and running ads in knowledge panels since 2013, but this is a first for seeing them in local business panels. They have stated previously that a third of searches are local and the increase in local searches is 50% faster than overall mobile search.

It is unclear at this point of the restrictions (if any) regarding competitor ads appearing in local business panels. Bidding on competitors keywords has always been available, so long as the competitors branding doesn’t appear in the ad, so perhaps the same will apply here. We may even see businesses placing their own special offer ads in their own local business listings; there is certainly room for creativity.

Dr. Pete Meyers of Moz originally spotted this new feature, however he was unable to replicate it live. This, compared with the little information available about it from Google, suggests that it is in early testing phases and we’re unlikely to see a roll-out version very soon. Still, it could be a very useful feature for businesses to harness – as well as their competitors.

4 Key Points to Consider When Looking at Live Chat

It is an often overlooked and underappreciated feature, but according to research, 45% of online consumers like to have a live chat feature available when they are conducting research online and prior to or during making a purchase. It’s not rocket science – in most cases a higher level of engagement between businesses and their customers creates a higher conversion rate and more sales.

But it’s not quite as easy as plugging in a premade live chat feature and popping out generic messages. There are differences in ‘smart’ and ‘generic’ approaches to live chat that will ultimately make the difference between a new sale and an abandoned cart.

Here are some key points to consider when implementing Live Chat into your eCommerce site:

  1. Knowing your users’ intent

Being able to accurately and quickly assess the signals of intent for your visitors is key to conversion optimisation. If you really want your live chat to be successful, analysing your visitors and profiling them accordingly will be vital. Rather than simply serving the same generic message to all of your visitors, you can tailor the experience based on their journey through the site, where they came from on the web and how often they have been to your website previously. By giving your visitors a much more personalised and relevant experience with your live chat feature, you will see far better results.

Bear this in mind when looking for a Live Chat solution; make sure it has the ability to harness real-time data visitor data so that you can deliver a tailored and personal experience.

  1. Talking to your visitors

Particularly in an ecommerce environment, it’s highly important that high value prospects are handles by a live sales agent as quickly as possible, and that the agent in question has the knowledge to overcome any of the customers’ objections and ultimately close the sale. In an ideal world, the ability to seamlessly transition from live text chat to telephone (based on the preference of the customer) should be available.

  1. Hiring the right people

It’s not uncommon for a website to have a live chat feature that, after the novelty wears off, goes largely unmanned. In order for a live chat system to work effectively, you not only need agents to man it, but agents who have solid product knowledge. 93% of live chat users suggest that the product/service knowledge of the agent is what matters most. More importantly, you want good sales people manning your live chat, not just agents who can answer questions. Hiring individuals with good sales experience will ultimately mean your live chat will secure more revenue.

  1. Analysing, measuring and optimising

Your live chat shouldn’t be a ‘set and forget’ implementation. You should always be measuring its successes and downfalls and updating your approach accordingly. When choosing your live chat solution, it should give you the ability to track a multitude of data, including:

  • Number of visitors that respond to proactive chat invites
  • Which of your initial approaches are most well received?
  • How do visitors react to generic messages vs contextual approaches?
  • How has your live chat affected average order value?

Amongst many other parameters that will allow you to constantly tweak and improve your live chat feature and effectively scale your activity.

To summarise, you shouldn’t adopt a live chat feature simply because there are readily available ‘plugins’ out there. You should be sure that you have the resource available to successfully man a live chat solution and accordingly research which platform will best suit you whilst offering all of the necessary data and reporting required to audit its performance.

How To Generate Quality Business Leads, Without SEO

SEO is a powerful way to generate business leads, this is a fact that can’t be overlooked as more and more of your potential customers go to the web over any other route. However, it can also be quite risky to solely rely on your SEO as a means of lead generation without investing time into other routes to market.

Whilst we are by no means suggesting that you should ditch your SEO in favour of any of the strategies outlined below, we do advise that you utilise them to supplement your organic SEO efforts and create quality leads in addition to those created by your website rankings.

1 – Facebook Lead Ads

Facebook introduced Lead Ads back in 2015 as a means to collect business leads through the use of ads in Facebook’s newsfeed, positioned in between posts. Considering the near 2-billion user count of Facebook, it is a resource that should be harnessed, with the ability to serve targeted ads to a vast pool of potential customers.

When a Leads Ad is interacted with by the user, by way of a button (usually ‘sign up’, ‘download’, ‘submit’ etc.) a form pops up that is already pre-generated with data extracted from their profile, making it extremely easy to fill in. In most cases, all the user needs to do is confirm that the information is correct.

These leads are stored in a CSV file that is available to download, meaning you can harness this data however you wish, such as importing it into your CRM or email platform.

2 – Linkedin Lead Generation Forms

Linkedin is a platform designed for business, making it a powerful source of quality business leads, particularly thanks to its 400 million strong user base. It also offers a tool that makes lead generation easy, the aptly named Linkedin Lead Generation Forms. This tool is a free resource that utilises sponsored content campaigns to collect user data and therefore potential leads.

As with the Facebook Lead ads, Linkedin’s lead generation forms are auto-filled with the users profile data, therefore reducing the effort required to fill it out.

3 – Google Adwords Landing Pages

Millions of businesses are utilising Google Adwords to generate leads and sales, in fact it is the most popular form of online, paid advertising. By building campaigns, bidding on keywords and linking your ad to a landing page, you can grow your business leads drastically.

The guidelines for landing pages are quite strict, however. Whilst Facebook is fairly lenient when it comes to your landing page content, Google Adwords is not. It is important to take user experience, quality and trustworthiness into account when designing your landing page.

As long as you follow Google’s guidelines, your landing page should be approved and you can now advertise it on other Google platforms such as Google Display Network, Google Search network and YouTube.

4 – Guest Blogging & Retargeting

Whilst guest blogging is a good way to boost your SEO using backlinks, it is also a great source of quality, targeted leads. By utilising websites and blogs that have the same audience as your business, you can garner interest by writing content that the audience will find useful and draw them back to your own website by way of a backlink.

Combine this with the use of a retargeting campaign like Facebook Pixel. With this in place, you can serve your audience with a further ad as soon as they get to Facebook from your website, therefore keeping your brand in front of them whilst it’s fresh in their mind.

How to Correctly Structure Your URLS

There is often conflicting and confusing information and guides on how you should be structuring your URLS. This is largely down to there being quite a number of theories and concepts to what can be a fairly complex element. It’s also important to note that URL structure isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of your SEO strategy, it won’t net you a huge ranking boost on its own, but it is still a largely important piece of your website architecture that shouldn’t be overlooked – but at the same time don’t put all your eggs in one basket and solely focus on URL structure without taking into consideration your overall SEO campaign.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how we can structure URLs in an SEO friendly manner, which will create a good user experience whilst also promoting PageRank.

1 – Consistency and Simplicity is Key

Whilst search engines’ technology continues to grow in amazing ways, they are still machines that prefer steadiness, consistency and readability in your content. They don’t react well to change and they certainly don’t enjoy surprises!

Taking the above into account, let’s discuss the two types of URL classifications: Static and Dynamic.

Dynamic URLs refer to those that include parameters and therefore change their appearance. Static URLs, however, stay consistent unless changes are made within the HTML.

Therefore static URLs are far more preferable when it comes to SEO.

Another tactic to ensure your URLs remain simplistic is to monitor their length. A shorter URL tends to rank higher on Google as they also contribute to a good user experience and are optimised for sharing. There is a generous recommended length of 2,083 characters as a maximum, but in reality you wouldn’t want your URL length to even be close to this number.

In short (pun intended) keep your URLs simple, logical and memorable for the best results.

2 – Be organised

Whilst in some cases it is nice to stand out, in the realms of SEO this, unfortunately, isn’t the case. It is best practice to keep your URL structure organised whilst sticking to the most widely accepted format.

Avoid subdomains if possible, as these split authority and are treated as their own entity by search engines.

Instead, the use of categories, directories and subfolders is an effective and accepted way to achieve organisation in your URLs and creates a natural ‘breadcrumb’ trail within your URL, which is not only visually pleasing, but is optimised for user experience and search engines.

3 – Keyword optimisation

Of course, proper keyword research should be your starting point when looking at the structure of your URLs. Try not to go overboard, but at the same time you can quite comfortably include 1 – 2 of your keywords in your URL at the most. A keyword domain can be quite beneficial, but at the same time you can have a very successful SEO campaign without one – in fact, branding takes precedence here. Avoid exact-match domains, as a 2012 Google update devalued these.

Also, contrary to popular belief, the actual position of your keyword(s) within your URL is fairly irrelevant, so don’t stress out over this. Instead, put your efforts into the quality of your content, relevant to your URL structure.

4 – Be trustworthy

Google treats user experience as the most important factor, and trust is a huge part of this. But there are a number of factors that contribute to the trustworthiness of your website, including the length of time it has been live since its first index, your content and the security of your site.

Your URLs are related to this in a number of ways, such as using HTTPS for security and a trustworth TLD (top-level domain, such as .com or .co.uk).

Whilst TLDs don’t directly affect your ranking, it does have a way of influencing it by way of inducing traffic, which does have a significant way of impacting your rankings.

To summarise;

Take user experience into account at all costs. Keep your URLs accurate, relevant and logical, with a good organised structure. Avoid the use of stop words like ‘the’ and ‘a’ in your URLs, as well as special characters like exclamation marks, ampersands and question marks, and as mentioned, aim for static URLs as opposed to dynamic.

Taking all of the above into account, you will be well placed to optimise your URLs and improve your PageRank – good luck!

3 E-Commerce SEO Pitfalls To Avoid

When it comes to E-commerce, SEO and traffic to your website is vital. Organic SEO is quite possibly the most valuable source of business, bringing in 10 – 60% of your overall traffic, which ultimately makes up a large portion of revenue.

Any e-commerce website that starts to lose its rankings on Google is at risk of going out of business, it’s that simple. Here are 3 common SEO mistakes that you should avoid in order to keep your E-commerce SEO strategy healthy:

1 – Switching platform without considering SEO

It can be quite easy to overlook certain aspects of SEO when launching a new e-commerce website or switching from one platform to another, which is a common reason for your rankings to fall and your sales to deteriorate.

It may simply be a case that your new platform isn’t as user-friendly or search engine optimised by default. More commonly, you may have overlooked the fact that your URLs have changed and you haven’t put any 301 redirects in place to point your old pages to their relevant, new counterparts.

Ensure you perform a full SEO audit of your new platform and you know how to structure URLs correctly, as well as pointing your old URLs to your new ones. This will ensure you maintain as much of your current rankings with Google as possible and you have a solid, optimised platform to work with.

2 – Removing URLs & Pages

If you start to remove old products, pages and other content without any thought to the SEO impact, you could be in for some headaches. As above, if you are deleting or moving content, it’s important to have a 301 redirect in place to point those ‘old’ URLs to the most relevant existing page possible as opposed to leaving it as a 404 error.

If, for example, you have a ‘seasonal’ page that displays special offers or sales, it is far more effective to keep that page active regardless of the time of year. This helps build up longevity and trust, rather than deleting the page and starting from scratch once again when the time comes back around. The same could be said for ‘out of stock’ product pages.

3 – Creating a Bad User Experience

This is quite possibly the most important thing to consider. User experience has become Google’s main priority over recent years, and it could be said that the above points are also factors that contribute to a positive UX. So, if your user experience is poor, it’s likely that your rankings will follow suit.

Keep a close eye on your Google Analytics reports, particularly bounce rates, pages per session and time on page as all of these will give you a good idea of how your user experience is shaping up. If your statistics are on a constant decline, it would be a good idea to consider a restructure to create a better user experience. After all, the rest of your SEO strategy may be sound, but if you have a poor user experience it won’t only be your rankings that are affected, but your sales too.

Is Your E-Commerce Website Underperforming?