SEO Case Study: Content is NOT King

content is not king

The prospect wanted to go after the key phrase “corporate wellness Michigan”.

They had their heart set on this term. Now, this was not really based in any kind of keyword research they had done. They were in the corporate wellness business and, by golly, they wanted to dominate the search results for corporate wellness in Michigan. Their logic was sound.

They said they had been trying to rank for this term for about 6-7 months, and they were stuck at page 3. They had all sorts of content in their website. The term “corporate wellness” was woven throughout. Yet for some reason they just were not able to get pass the top of page 3.

So we conducted a little experiment!

The prospect contacted us on a Thursday and by Friday we had decided we were going to try this experiment, so we bought a domain. The domain we purchased was not even an exact match domain (EMD). We went with “corporate wellness”, then put the little “MI” in front of it so it read “micorporatewellness.com”.

Next, we stood a few things on the page. Not a lot of content, mind you; a page title, a sentence or two, an image and a link.  “Corporate Wellness Michigan” is the title for this particular page. We placed it in the title and meta tags. We were even bold enough here in this case to say, “Dear Prospect, you want to rank for this? Please click here.” After that, we pointed a couple links (literally, two) back at this very fresh domain.

Ranking Corporate Wellness Michigan

Turns out, we were able to rank this site by day six.

corporate wellness michigan day 6

All we did is buy a domain, stand up a barebones site, put a couple backlinks facing it, and by day six we had this brand new website on the first page of Google. Not too shabby.

And two weeks later? We were at the top of the search results!

corporate wellness michigan week 2

Keep in mind, nothing changed at this page since the day we built it. We never added any more links going back to it. Yet there it was, on the top of the rankings for those statewide state results. The same search this prospect could not attain on their own, even after six months of trying.

Want to see the page? (You probably want to see the page.) Here it is.

corporate wellness michigan page

This single page is the whole site. That’s it.

So, you know the whole notion that content is king? And how, in order to build up an authority site, you must produce reams and reams of blog posts, each thousands of words long, and they have to be so captivating that people will link to you naturally and (blah, blah, blah)—all the junk we been hearing ever since the Panda and Penguin updates from back in 2012?

It’s junk.

Content is NOT king, folks.

Content helps, especially on the long game (this experiment was a very short game we played) where it’s important to keep people at your site. You eventually want to show that people are staying on your page. Google likes pages that are sticky. With good content, people tend to stay at a website longer and when they linger longer, your bounce rate decreases and your page views increase. Google uses these metrics as social proof by which to weigh the value of your website, so—at some point—you’ll want high quality content on your website.

Again, if we wanted to keep this domain and really turn it into authority-ranked site, we would want to do something more to the site to build it out, but this was just an experiment. Do we have any desire to keep it and build it into authority-ranked site? No, not really. Not unless something happens along the way; maybe the prospect wants to buy this?  For now, it’s just an experiment to boast about and to use as a lesson.

Note: In this case, in this niche, competition was not terribly strong.  We saw things like indeed.com showing on the top of this search results. Usually when you see job sites coming up at the top for search results (when you weren’t searching for jobs,) what you’re seeing is Google not knowing what else to put up there, so it begins filling in the blanks.

P.S.- “Corporate wellness Michigan” was not a well-loved search term to begin with, so the notion that the prospect could not rank for this within six months? They simply did not know what to do. This is why they came to us.

So you there you have it, folks. I hope you enjoyed this presentation! Have questions? Leave them in the comments.

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How NOT to Drive Traffic Using Fiverr

marketing ideas driving traffic fiverr

(Subtitled: Beware the $5 Traffic Gurus)

I thought I was being smart. I thought I could pay someone five bucks and they would work their magic and funnel all sorts of traffic to my new blog. Of course, I was experimenting, but I had no idea what kind of a fail to expect, so—naively—I hoped for success.

I went to Fiverr.com and dove into ‘Online Marketing,’ then into the ‘Get Traffic’ category. I sorted by rank and found a promising ad. Here’s what it said:

[Name removed to protect the guilty] will drive UNLIMITED
genuine real traffic to your website for one month for $5.

Sounds good, right?

And the job profile comes with lots of rave reviews. I shrugged and hopefully gambled away my $5. The profile asked me the right questions. What’s the URL, what areas do you want to target, etc. Since the job promised to be delivered within three days, I spent three days haunting my Google Analytics reports, eagerly anticipating the hints of a traffic tsunami.

Then it happened! Traffic went from zero (this was a brand new site) to 60 hits and then climbed to 70 hits! Yes! $5 well spent, right!?

Wrong!

Upon further inspection, it appears all the traffic is of the BOUNCING variety (read Should You Worry About Your Bounce Rate? for a better understanding on why high bounce rates are undesirable.) Eyeball the web traffic report below and see if you see what I see:

drive traffic with fiverr

More, if you’ll notice the referrer URL’s, I’m sure you’ll see a trend. Visiting some of these sites will clue you in further to the junk traffic they bring.

Well, there’s an experiment in traffic generation that gives some important feedback. While I might not have benefited from massive volumes of quality traffic, five dollars is cheap tuition. I feel wiser already!

In support of your efforts,

Matt

marketing ideas leadership

Update! (November 2, 2012)

Well, folks.. after writing this post, I opted to go back to the Fiverr vendor and ask them to discontinue the gig, which was supposed to last for a month. I gave them a “thumb’s down”. Here is our discussion:

Me: please discontinue this program. the traffic is junk.

Guilty: Hi, Can I know what happened? And why did you leave a negative feedback without asking information? The traffic is direct to ensure an high level of security with adsense and affiliations, and the bounce rate is related to that because it’s direct. All information are in the document and it’s described, please remove your feedback, and let me know if you are interested in a refund instead.

Me: See attached. Of course you should be expecting negative feedback. There is no value in the traffic you are providing. fiverr-traffic-generation.gif (36.175 KB)

Guilty: My traffic is direct only, and I know the bounce rate is high because it’s a consequence of setting the traffic this way. Some people are converting as they reported me and wrote in the feedback, so it’s valuable for someone, I’m truly sorry it isn’t working for you. As I said, I will refund your order, if you agree to remove the feedback. Please help me maintain a good service, I always do my best to provide that but I know sometimes can’t give the expected results.

Me: Will remove the feedback as soon as we see our sites (both of them) removed from these spammy sites. If we look at our Google Analytics tomorrow and we can see all this bouncing traffic has fallen away, we will remove the comment.

Guilty: I will suspend your campaign immediately, you will notice the removal from a few minutes. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.

Guilty: I suspended them as agreed, if you will check the tracking url you won’t see any more visits from me.

Guilty: Hi, Please check the tracking url and you will see the campaign is no longer active, I’m waiting for you.

Me: Go ahead and refund these orders. Thanks.

Guilty: No problem, but you should remove the feedback before I ask the refund or you won’t be able to modify it anymore… Write me as soon as it’s done and I will send the refund, thank you.

I allowed them to sweat a little until the next day. I was still debating taking the review down–after all, wouldn’t the honest feedback protect others from making my same mistake? However, it seems the decision was made for me! I received the following email from Fiverr:

Your order #FO_____________ was cancelled by Fiverr’s customer service team.

Your funds have been returned to your Fiverr Balance and will be used automatically for your next purchase.

Thanks,
The Fiverr Team

So I guess the vendor didn’t want to wait. However, much to my surprise, Fiverr actually removed my feedback from the vendor’s ratings completely! See below. Notice two things:

  1. My negative feedback has been removed, as well as my comments!
  2. Another person has gotten an inkling that the traffic they are receiving isn’t doing them any good; though they are much less confident about what they should be seeing, they suspect there’s something wrong.

drive traffic fiverr

Now, it’s somewhat disheartening to recognize most of these folks see the spike in traffic like I did, however they aren’t looking at their bounce rates or the referring URL’s, so they aren’t realizing they’re being duped.

I liken this to ordering the steak dinner at a restaurant, being served a rice cake, and commenting how full you are now that you’ve eaten so well.

And what about Fiverr in all this? They didn’t reach out to me at all. They just deleted the truth and will let this person continue their deceptive practices. Yikes!

Ah, buy why the heck should they do anything? Fiverr gets paid on every sale, don’t they?

Buyer beware, folks.

In support of your efforts,

Matt

P.S. – The vendor said, “My traffic is direct only, and I know the bounce rate is high because it’s a consequence of setting the traffic this way.” That’s junk, people. Traffic being direct versus referred has no bearing on the quality of the traffic; it’s merely an indication of how people are getting to your site. If there were even people behind those hits. It’s quite possible that traffic is from bots.

Should You Worry About Your Bounce Rate?

marketing ideas bounce rate

by Lucy Beer

A low bounce rate is often cited as a hallmark of a good website–40% or lower is typically heralded as the goal–signaling that visitors are engaged with your site and finding useful content. A high bounce rate is often assumed to mean that your site is not doing its job. In reality, bounce rate means different things for different sites and the emphasis you place on it will vary according to the type of site you have and its goals.

What Does Bounce Rate Mean?

The definition from Google’s Analytics help pages is: “Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.”

When is Bounce Rate a Relevant Metric?

  • If you have a sales or conversion process which requires the user to follow through multiple pages on your site.
  • If exploration of your site is important to your goals. If you are trying to turn new visitors into loyal readers or customers.
  • If yours is a retail site and you want people to shop around and make purchases.
  • If your homepage is not inducing further clicks, particularly if it contains blog excerpts or other ‘teaser’ content.

What a High Bounce Rate Could Mean:

1. Keywords and content are mismatched.

In cases where visitors are coming from search engines, a high bounce rate may mean that the keywords they used and the content they found on your site are not aligned–so your site doesn’t meet their expectations in some way.

What you can do:

Analyze your keyword traffic and make sure your pages are optimized for the keywords you want and that the content is closely aligned with keywords and not misleading in any way.

2. The next step in your conversion or goal process is not obvious or easy enough.

What you can do:

Look at your landing pages with an objective eye and make the next step clear and easy to take.

3. The navigation on your site is confusing or unclear, making additional content hard to find.

What you can do:

Re-evaluate the navigation and see if there are ways to streamline or simplify. Also double-check for browser compatibility–perhaps the page is not displaying correctly under some conditions.

4. Your offer or product is not presented in a compelling or easy to understand way.

What you can do:

Look at your sales copy or offer details and see if you can refresh it or make it more appealing. You could try split-testing different versions to see which performs better.

5. Your site has technical problems. Particularly if your bounce rate suddenly spikes or displays an unusual trend, it could be an indication of technical issues–broken images or links, or something on the page not loading correctly.

What you can do:

Check for compatibility and broken links. Test the load speed of the page and generally make sure your code is as clean and functional as possible. Check for server outages and other issues that could have temporarily affected the functionality of your site.

A high bounce rate might not be a problem if:

  • You have a blog homepage containing all your recent posts in their entirety – Blogger blogs are notorious for this. When all your posts are presented up front there would be little reason for someone to click to any other pages.
  • You have a loyal blog following and your site has a higher proportion of returning visitors than new visitors. Your followers and subscribers may just want to read the newest post and have no need to visit other pages.
  • You are promoting a landing page which contains the call to action within it, such as submitting an email address. That single page can do its job effectively without requiring further clicks.
  • The call to action or conversion takes your visitor off-site–to an external shopping cart or email sign up for example. This would look like a bounce, but can still be a conversion.
  • Blogs typically have higher bounce rates compared to other types of sites so the same benchmarks do not apply.

Bounce Rate is Not the Only Metric.

Don’t look at bounce rate in isolation–look at the overall picture of your website and how it’s performing according to the metrics that matter to you. What DO you want your visitors to do at your site? Are you making it easy for them to do that, and are you measuring it?

Look for trends and other data that give you a fuller picture of what the bounce rate really means:

  • Is the bounce rate higher or lower for certain keywords?
  • Does it vary according to how people found your site? Search engines vs. social media, for example.
  • How does it vary with New vs. Returning visitors?
  • Which particular pages or types of content on your site have higher or lower bounce rates?
  • Look also at length of time the visitor spends on the page which could indicate whether or not they are reading what they find–this is very important for a blog.

marketing ideas leadership

Lucy Beer of WebTrainingWheels.com is a marketing professional of more than 8 years. She has been using and loving WordPress since 2004 and provides WordPress training services. She also consults with small businesses on their marketing online strategy, helping them develop and execute a plan that increases their business and engages their target audience.

How To Work Keywords Into Your Website

marketing ideas how to add keywords

One of the most important things you can do to improve your rankings in the search engines and directories (Google, Yahoo, Bing, DMOZ, et cetera) is to ensure your website is optimized in accordance with the keywords and key phrases you are looking to target.

To “optimize” a website for search engine relevancy means going over it with a fine-tooth comb and seeking out ways to make the website more targeted toward the topic it incites. There are a number of ways to do this.

Domain Name

Does your domain name carry with it “maximum information per square inch?” As in, is your product or service in your name? While this can help your rankings, it is not the end all, be all. After all, do a search in Google on “fast food” and you will notice McDonald’s and Wendy’s sites come up to the top and their domain names are not mcdonaldsfastfood.com or wendysfastfood.com.

Page Titles

Each web page on your site should have its own distinct title. A web page title should tell the user and the search engines what the page is about and you want to make sure to work in a couple keywords relevant to your website and specific to that page. Recommendation: Resist the temptation to place your company name first in the title—your keywords are more important to both humans and bots, so they go first.

Metadata

Add keywords and key phrases into your website’s metadata. Every web page has the capacity to have within it a hidden description and set of keywords. Whether web designers make use of this feature is another matter. Besides your domain name and page titles, this is one of the first things the search engines use to determine where in their indexes your site should be placed. While the importance for metadata has been greatly reduced over the years, it is still something you want to address as it’s the meta description that shows up in the search results.

Copy

Your copy (the text you write,) your links and the images you choose can all be constructed to give the search engines a greater idea about your website’s singular reason for being.

When you seek to “keyword optimize” your website, you begin by knowing the keywords you want to target. Once you have a list of 20 to 30 keywords or key phrases, you may then begin to craft your message to your public, sprinkling in those important words along the way. A good rule of thumb here is to focus on a few keywords per page, rather than trying to stuff them all onto every page.

Tip: Write for humans, but optimize for search engines. Do not pack your site with your keywords. The top search engines have algorithms in place that will penalize for “keyword stuffing.” (Keyword stuffing is considered to be a “black hat” search engine optimization technique and is wonderful way to get your website banned from the search engines. Not recommended.)

Links

Descriptive links are another great way to tell the search engines what your site is about and they carry a good amount of weight and should be used wisely. If you are merely stating “click here” or “read more” you are missing an opportunity. Instead of stopping at “read more”, build a little more information into the link by saying “read more about online marketing” (or whatever your topic.) Assuming “online marketing” was one of our key phrases, we just gave that search engine a little more reason to promote our site when someone searches on online marketing.

Images

Even the images you use can build relevancy for your website. For example, if you have a dog grooming company, abstain from putting up pictures of your clients that still carry the same filename as the day they were pulled off the digital camera. “DC3459.jpg” tells the search engines nothing about the subject of that image. Since search engines cannot actually see the image to interpret it (yet,) they can only rely upon the filename you give your image (and an “alt” tag, which we will discuss later,) balanced against the rest of the page on which it resides. A better filename might be “dog-grooming-service.jpg” or “pet-grooming.jpg.” This same principle holds true for every filename you use on your site (.doc, .pdf, .gif, .htm, .php, etc.,) including even the pages of your website.

Does it sound like we are catering to the search engines? We are. Search engines and directories are large conduits into your website. Without them, there would be considerably less traffic on your site, so you want to make it clear to them you are 1) an authority in your field, and 2) your website contains great value to those who will find it.

Marketing Mastery Series: 5 Steps to Powerful Article Marketing

Marketing Ideas Article Marketing

Today, article marketing is probably one of the most powerful and inexpensive forms of online marketing available to small business owners and non-profits. For those not savvy with the term “article marketing”, here is a quick definition:

In exchange for a little sweat and focus, an article author (you) shares their wisdom and experience with the world by posting their short article of advice or insight to blogs, social media and article publication sites. Within those articles are one-way links leading back into the author’s own website, raising their website’s “authority” karma with the search engines and increasing their qualified web traffic.

You Are the Expert

Here is a little mental preparation for you. I want to make sure you are looking at article marketing—and yourself—through the proper lens.

When you produce articles, it is your goal to encapsulate gems of experience-hardened wisdom and share them with the online community. In doing so, you:

  1. Help to advise those who are seeking that knowledge, and you
  2. Position yourself as an expert on the topic. (Important!)

Warning: Don’t get caught on the term “expert.” Many humble folks who are vastly knowledgeable about their industry wouldn’t refer to themselves as experts because they are also aware there is much they don’t know. You don’t have to know it all. You just need to know more than your customers and then know where to find the answers when you are stumped.

Your Mission: Inspire, Inform, Entertain

Your primary goal in business is to help, right? Businesses and non-profit organizations provide products and services with the intent of helping people. (Naïve? Maybe. Choosing to see the best? Definitely.) That might mean helping to:

  1. Provide a solution to a problem,
  2. Offer inspiration, motivation or elevation,
  3. Foster greater awareness to a social concern, or even to
  4. Entertain and enthrall.

The best place to start? Begin with what you know. Offer advice. Offer your life experience. Offer sagacious words of wisdom. Expound and elucidate. Maybe even do a little research. Article marketing is your vehicle for taking your wisdom to your audience, answering their questions before their questions have bubbled up.

Step 1: Target Your Topic

What do you specialize in? What do you know a lot about? What is the point to your website? After all, the goal of any article marketing campaign is to place articles of value out into the world and grow your number of back links (links that point back to your website from another website.) Google and other popular search engines/directories see these links leading into your website as proof you must be something of an authority.

Translation: On the Internet, you are somebody important if other people say you are. It’s like high school all over again! Yeah!

Step 2: Write the Article

To begin marketing with articles, you must write the articles. No kidding. Sure, there is some work involved here, but the rewards can be great as qualified traffic to your website increases. Yes, I’m aware there are certain sources for pre-written articles on a myriad of topics, however I would recommend against putting your name on other people’s work. Call me paranoid, but here are some possible dangers with this:

  1. Loss of credibility and damage to your reputation when it’s discovered you’re not writing your own material,
  2. Being called upon to discuss a topic you barely considered to begin with, and
  3. Being accountable for someone else’s errors if they pop up.

Remember: One of the greatest things about writing is the fact you’re building an asset when you write. You are building a body of reproducible and shareable knowledge. This is what “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” author, Rob Kiyosaki, refers to as “doing it once and replicating it over and over.”

To write an article, you don’t have to be a Harvard literature graduate, but you should know how to complete a thought, hold a one-way conversation with a friend, and use spellcheck.

  • First, know what your goal is for your article. What is your point? Being clear on this will help keep you on track as craft your introduction, body and conclusion.
  • Next, pretend you are relaying this information to a friend. What would you say? How would you counsel this friend if they came to you seeking this advice?
  • Finally, use spellcheck. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Read the article aloud to test for smooth flow and phrasing. Ferret out all typos, grammatical errors and punctuation gaffs. If missed, these mistakes can detract from your writing and credibility.

The Resource Box

The last detail you’ll consider for your article will be your resource box. Your resource box is the little paragraph at the end of your article that tells the reader a little about you and how to contact you. It should always include a link to your website. Always. You want your readers to be able to find you if they desire more information and you want the search engines to see you as an authority through that back link, remember?

Key point: In your resource box, you don’t always have to use the same link back to your website’s homepage. In fact, you will likely have greater success by linking to the page on your site most closely related to your article’s topic. This moves visitors from the article directly to their topic of interest. (For example, if a web design company also offers web hosting, their article “How to pick the best web host” should link back to the page on their website that describes their web hosting services.)

Step 3: Launch!

There! You have produced a shiny little gem of literary brilliance. Now it is time to set it free.

  • Place it on your blog (if you have one and if it fits appropriately.)
  • Share it with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and your other social media outlets. You can post it over and over by hand or use tools like PingFM to automate this process.
  • Submit your article to free article directories! Here are the top 10 most popular article directories, according to list of the top 50, found at http://www.vretoolbar.com/articles/directories.php:
  1. seekingalpha.com
  2. ehow.com
  3. hubpages.com
  4. biggerpockets.com/articles
  5. ezinearticles.com
  6. brighthub.com
  7. buzzle.com
  8. textbroker.com
  9. selfgrowth.com
  10. knoji.com/articles/
  • Use an article submission software or service to shorten this process. One good example is isnare.com.
  • Feeling brave? Record your article as you read it into a microphone and post it to iTunes.
  • Braver still? Use your digital video camera and post your work to YouTube, Vimeo and the like.

Step 4: Track Your Results

Just because you’ve accomplished the first three steps of deciding, drafting and delivering your article, don’t think you’re done! You should be watching to see how this article affects your traffic. Did you see an increase? Did your website’s conversion rate (the number of calls, emails, sign-ups, sales, etc.) edge up? If not, did your article compel people to want to know more? Did it provide enough value? Was it placed properly?

Marketing Tip: Use the powerful and free traffic-tracking tool, Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics). Design your Analytics reports and schedule them to automatically arrive in your inbox as frequently as you like.

Step 5: Rinse and Repeat

Now do it again. Find different-but-related categories to place your articles under so they don’t compete with each other. Discuss different aspects of products and services you offer. Determine how often you will produce and post your articles. This depends on how intensely you will run your article marketing campaign. You’ll need to weigh your priorities against your normal day-to-day workload, your goals and the competitiveness of your industry.

If you’re just starting out, aim to write weekly or bi-weekly articles using the promotional campaign in Step 3 as a model. If you are an ambitious writer or blogger, step up your efforts to daily and spread your articles across the media outlets.

Marketing Tip: Since you’re writing these articles anyways, you may as well post them to your website to keep your site’s content fresh. Then place them in your online newsletter and send them to your mailing list.

Afterglow

At this point, you have enough of a blueprint to successfully manage your own article marketing campaign. Writing articles can be a fun way to promote your website and your effort, but it can also be a great way to collect your thoughts and bring greater clarity to challenges you and your audience may be facing. Use articles to entertain, educate and inspire!

In support of your efforts,
M