Mike Grehan has been doing SEO before SEO had an official name. In his latest post for Tech Marketing News titled “The Past, Present, and Future of What We’ve Come to Know as SEO,” Grehan breaks down of the evolution of search engine optimization – from search engine crawlers to current Google algorithms and beyond.
Grehan serves as the current Chairman of the SEMPO Board of Directors and thought this blog post was particularly relevant and worth sharing with SEMPO members.
Andrew Foster, Owner / Head of Accounts at Foster Ideas
Hangout Topic: E-Commerce
Hangout Date: 6/28/16
Moderator: Chris Boggs, Member, SEMPO Education Committee
Richard Chavez, Vice President, Professional Services at seoClarity
Bill Leake, CEO, Apogee Results
Neeraja Koneru, Accelerate Account Manager, 3Q Digital
Fundamental SEO practices are still important for success in ecommerce. Etailers should prioritize a strong technical SEO foundation above content marketing.
A seldom used area of opportunity for SEO is long-form reviews on the company as a whole. In addition to leveraging third parties like BazaarVoice, and email consumers to get product-specific reviews, companies should solicit long-form reviews on Yelp, Google My Business, etc.
Is there a one-sized-fits-all when it comes to setting up ecommerce for success in SEO/organic search?
• Fundamental SEO practices are still important for success in ecommerce. This includes defining your critical list of SEO requirements (friendly URL structure, redirects from old platforms to new, rich media schema, etc.). Technical SEO foundation is increasingly important as the number of SKUs (products) increases and, in any case, should be prioritized above content marketing.
What are the core components of a successful product feed?
• Product titles are critical for a successful product feed. Product titles must both match the user’s query and be an enticing call to action (e.g. “lifetime warranty”).
• If you’re already running search campaigns, look at historical search queries for inspiration – they can give you good ideas for product titles.
• Reviews are important for “social proof”. Product reviews should be visible within the ad unit.
How do you drive more customer reviews?
• Incentivizing users and contacting them via email to review the specific products they’ve purchased is common. Ask for feedback, not just for the next sale.
• You want users to leave reviews on the product themselves, but also on the overall brand experience. Third party reviews from companies like BazaarVoice can help with SEO as well.
• If you can find customers to give a longer testimonial, it helps with credibility and SEO. Other reviews about the company as a whole on Yelp, Google My Business, etc. help as well.
• Reviews can help to further segment customers to create audiences and remarketing lists as well.
What kind of content marketing should we consider for ecommerce?
• Content typically falls into one of three buckets: Product (unique images, video, text content), Category, and Company (comparing different companies).
• Define what your customer journey is and determine what types of content is needed. Content that bridges the journey from consideration to purchase is the most important. We can look at search data to determine what types of content users are asking for.
What percentage of your budget would you allocate to remarketing?
• Typically 20% of ad spend budget would be a good test budget for remarketing. But it depends on several variables including user experience and product vertical. Ultimately, it’s important to make data-driven decisions on what’s converting.
• Type of remarketing is important to consider. For example, incorporating remarketing with email marketing or including dynamic product remarketing can help to close gaps between desperate marketing tactics.
SEMPO Google Hangouts:
SEMPO Chats with Industry Experts are developed by SEMPO’s Education Committee to help industry professionals learn about topics and ask questions in an informal setting. Chats are interactive discussions in Q&A format, conducted as a Google Hangout on Air. All hangouts are streamed LIVE on Google+ or on YouTube (pick your preferred site). Please make sure to add SEMPO to your Google+ Circles so that you can be one of our on-camera participants and receive notifications as Chats are planned. We also encourage you to take the conversation on Twitter at #SEMPOchat.
Presented by the SEMPO Education Committee and Industry Experts, SEMPO Chats cover topics in an open question-and-answer format live on YouTube. This month the theme is Scaling a Search Marketing Business. Our committee members and guest speakers will tell us about themselves, dive into the details of the monthly topic, and encourage questions from the audience throughout. If you’re not camera shy, you can join on-air through Google+ during the live event. Otherwise, you can watch below, watch on YouTube, or watch on Google+.
Congratulations, you have determined that search marketing can have a significant impact on your business through increased exposure and targeted awareness. Now the question is how best to scale up your efforts – do you hire a search marketing agency or do it in-house?
It’s a difficult choice to make, since there is no cookie-cutter answer as to what is best for each company. Both sides have their own pros and cons, so let’s explore some of the benefits and downsides of both.
Benefits of Hiring a Search Marketing Agency
They Live and Breathe Search:
When you hire a search marketing agency, you’re hiring a team of highly knowledgeable, skilled and certified professionals. Because search marketing is their specialty, they are always up-to-date with industry best practices and can provide strategic direction to help your company succeed. This is especially important as search is an industry that is constantly evolving.
Access to Tools and Technology:
Many agencies have the latest in what it takes to develop and execute an effective search marketing plan and monitor its progress. When you hire outside your company, access to these tools usually comes with the agency.
A Fresh Perspective:
An outside agency can give a fresh perspective to your business without any internal bias. They can identify areas that are strong as well as those that need improvement and recommend solutions you may not have received otherwise. They also likely have experience with other clients and industries that could provide unique insights and recommendations for your brand.
Save Yourself Time and Energy:
Hiring an agency allows you to focus your time and energy on other marketing tasks that need attention.
Drawbacks of Hiring a Search Marketing Agency
They Don’t Know Your Brand Like You Do:
It may take some time for an agency to truly understand your brand, your mission, services, and marketing goals. The unfamiliarity can result in work that might not meet your expectations.
Communication and Time Barriers:
Because the search marketing agency isn’t physically in your office, you will have to communicate your needs and challenges across distance, and possibly time zones. This could cause delays in execution or reporting.
Benefits of Keeping It In-house
Starting with the obvious – your in-house team will have a deeper and more thorough understanding of what your brand is about. They can better represent your company.
With an in-house team, you don’t have to worry about miscommunication. You can speak directly with your staff to ensure everyone is in the loop so you avoid misunderstandings. Should any issues or problems occur, you will know immediately and can solve them faster.
More Control of Timelines and Execution:
Because your team is on site, you can prioritize workloads and timelines. Should something unexpectedly come up and you need to reprioritize needs, you can speak directly with your team members and easily adjust tasks.
Drawbacks of Keeping It In-House
One drawback to in-house teams is that search marketing demands can exceed team capacity, especially if they have other marketing responsibilities beyond search. This can negatively impact the quality of work and impact the overall marketing program, as well.
Struggle with Creativity:
You may become so accustomed to the status quo that your knowledge is limited in regards to what else can be done to help your search business grow.
Limited Tools and Resources:
Marketing tools and resources can be very expensive and you may not have the financial means to afford them. Most agencies are up-to-date with the latest and best tools to effectively market your company.
So, which is best: to hire an agency or have your in-house team do it?
The answer is that there is no one right answer. Each situation is unique. You should analyze each on its own characteristics and build a business case to select the option that fits your needs best.
While there are universal best practices for SEO, the travel and hospitality industry possesses its own unique challenges and opportunities. Ahead, we’re sharing some examples of hospitality brands that are executing an excellent SEO strategy and offering our insight on what we can learn from them.
Prioritize SEO keywords on your homepage.
While this is a sound recommendation that spans all industries, it is particularly important in the context of a hospitality brand. Not only is your homepage an opportunity to communicate the core elements of your hotel to the visitor, it is the first page that search engines crawl to index and categorize your website. As such, copy and content must be refined, well researched, and well organized – ideally in a summary paragraph. This content block, which occupies prime homepage real estate, offers the visitor a concise yet compelling overview of the property while seamlessly integrating crucial keywords.
As such, after you’ve done your all-important keyword research, ensure that the top indexing keywords for your website appear in the first copy block of your homepage – multiple times, if possible. In fact, the very first sentence of your introductory paragraph should contain your highest-ranking keywords. Along these lines, consider adding a headline that summarizes your paragraph and integrates your top keywords, as search engines work from top of the page down to rank a page.
Who Is Doing It Right? Marriott Hotels uses this strategy in the introductory paragraph of the JW Marriott Washington DC, emphasizing its downtown DC location and status as a luxury hotel before launching into the particular benefits of the property.
Create a separate “Location” page in order to capture hyper-local searches.
While it might be tempting to forego a separate “Location” page and simply integrate your hotel’s location into other parts of your website (namely, your homepage), you’d be remiss to do so. Travelers not only search by city or state, but also by hyper-local qualifiers such as neighborhood or proximity near top landmarks. As such, it’s important to take advantage of these specific queries to delineate and expand upon your property’s location on an optimized page.
Who Is Doing It Right? Starwood’s W New York – Union Square does this well, offering the visitor a comprehensive overview of the property’s location, including specific information about the neighborhood plus nearby attractions and cultural opportunities.
Integrate customer reviews.
Search engines love fresh content, as it indicates a healthy, thriving website. But this can be a difficult task to achieve as a hospitality brand. By integrating and featuring user reviews (through a widget), then, your hotel’s website is automatically plugged into a constant stream of new, keyword-rich content. Moreover, given the colloquial nature of user reviews, your website will benefit from the fact that they’re usually rich with long tail keywords. Added bonus? Research has shown that 61% of customers read a review before making a purchasing decision, making them a valuable on-site sales tool.
Who Is Doing It Right? Even luxury properties can benefit from this strategy, as evidenced by examples like Hyatt’s Park Hyatt Shanghai, which prominently features a review portal on its website’s homepage.
As we say all the time here at Galileo Tech Media – SEO is about so much more than just Google. Creating a website that answers your audience’s questions is our #1 SEO Best Practice.
About Galileo Tech Media
Galileo Tech Media is based in NYC and specializes in Search Engine Optimization for the Travel Industry – Keyword Science, Wise Content Creation, Technical Audits, and Authentic Authority Building. Their marquee client is Marriott International, for which they research thousands of highly-targeted, hyperlocal SEO keywords and write hundreds of pages of SEO content generating organic traffic and conversions world-wide.
About Joseph McElroy
Joseph McElroy is a technology and SEO expert who understands it takes much more than “words” to enhance a brand. It takes wise words, wise content. Joseph lives and breathes a brand, and realizes the emotional and psychological elements of marketing. Joseph’s experience with big-data tools, inbound marketing strategy and implementation, and all the ins and outs of SEO have brought him in contact with some of the top brands in the world.
Thousands of businesses use Google AdWords to create highly effective advertising campaigns to market their products and services, drive traffic to their website, and ultimately, increase sales. Do you?
If you are not completely familiar with the value of AdWords, this online advertising platform is particularly effective because it delivers the precise information – based on keywords – that a person is searching for, at their “moment of need.” AdWords typically generates very positive results, because it serves a direct and actionable answer right when a person is asking the question.
Want some specific reasons why AdWords has become a vital part of online business success? Read on!
AdWords provides tons of customizable options for your campaign to suit your particular needs. You can target your ads to reach a qualified audience based on a number of factors, including:
– Specific keyword match types
– Geographic location
– The time of day they are searching
– Language being used in search queries
The basic format of AdWords has strict character counts, so the ads are brief and to the point, plus they are quick to load. Wise businesses use ad extensions – callouts, sitelinks, and structured snippets – to further explain their message and expand the actual real estate of the ad on the page.
Google continues to adjust and improve its AdWords offerings. Just last month, Google announced a beta version of AdWords they are testing that features product images.
While SEO can be highly effective, it can often take several months before you notice any results. AdWords is helpful to jumpstart sending traffic to your website – you won’t have to wait to see successful results. Once you set up your campaign, you will start getting impressions and clicks immediately.
Plus, here’s a perk if you are just getting started: Google often offers vouchers for new advertisers, so you can usually get started, test, and learn more about AdWords at a lower investment.
Easily Analyze Results, Improve your Program
AdWords is a very measurable online channel, providing numerous metrics that allow you to see what works and what doesn’t. You can quickly and accurately tell if your campaigns are succeeding or are not performing as well as you expected. And you can quickly and easily adjust your campaigns – take advantage of successes or adjust issues to improve performance.
Ability to Control Your Costs
One particularly beneficial aspect of using AdWords is that you can set a maximum cost per day for your campaign. This allows you to budget accordingly and without having to worry about overspending. If you need to decrease your budget, the number of ads shown will decrease. You can always control how your budget/ad spend fluctuates. The best part? Google AdWords is free. You only pay when someone clicks your ad or calls you through Click-to-Call.
The size of mobile screens and the ever-increasing frequency with which smartphones are being used for searches is another reason to consider AdWords marketing. AdWords ads appear at the top of the page of search engine results, and on a mobile screen, this often means that the natural/organic search results listings are not visible to the searcher without scrolling on the device. In other words, it is very likely someone may click on an ad that appears at the top of the mobile page without even exploring deeper into the search results.
Another advantage of AdWords that is particularly relevant to mobile users is the Click-to-Call feature that lets searchers get in touch with you immediately via phone instead of visiting your website first. This is particularly valuable when you have a physical presence and/or customer service support already in place.
Remarketing Helps Reach Visitors
Remarketing in Google AdWords is where display ads come in. Distributed through the Google Display Network, remarketing ads can feature text, images, and video. AdWords remarketing is different from standard display advertising because of specialized targeting – a tracking code places cookies on your visitor’s computer. The cookie lets you track visitors to your website who did not convert (i.e., take the action you desired), and then your display ads are served to your visitors when they are elsewhere on the Internet. The most effective remarketing ads invite your prospects back to your site with a special offer they didn’t see before. This is a powerful and effective technique because it lets you stay connected with your target audience after they leave your site and encourages them to come back.
These are six great reasons why Google AdWords should be part of your marketing strategy. So what are you waiting for? Get started now!