Are your bounce rates extremely high? Does Google Analytic’s show that people are only spending a very short time on your site before leaving? Loyalty rates low? As a web-master if you face any of these issues, read on for some tips on how to overcome them:
Have some “me” time
Link to your site – on your site. The more links your website includes to the pages on your site the better. The simple logic behind it is this, when these links are clicked, they lead to another area of your site. This means people will be hanging around longer, seeing what else there is to see rather than being lead off to other places online or simply leaving altogether.
Opt for quality over quantity
What would you rather:
(a) thousands of visitors daily who stumble onto your site & realise they have been duped by your misleading ad causing them to instantly leave and grumble about wasted online browsing (which would result in high CTRs, virtually no conversions and an extremely high bounce rate).
(b) a consistent amount of daily visitors who spend a little longer on your site browsing and hopefully converting?
The point of this rhetorical question is relevance. A person wanting to buy household goods for interior design, finding your site through an ad suggesting household goods for interior design before discovering what you actually sell are gardening products, will leave. You may be happy about a high CTR but remember, you are paying for every click in a CPC campaign and every thousand impressions in a CPM one; be specific.
Avoid mazes, nobody likes those
The origins of the internet arguably date back to the 19th century, yet 2 centuries later people still create websites with awful navigability leaving the average web surfer frustrated enough to give up searching for whatever it is they wanted on that particular site and going elsewhere. If you want people to stay, you must make each section of your site clear and easy to get to, it wouldn’t matter if you had the most wonderful web content available if people didn’t know it was there.
Get the right look
Using Google Adsense is one great way to bring some extra revenue. When people come to your site and you have too many ads, links to here & there, misspellings, dodgy looking logo’s/pictures, flashing animations and the like…they leave. These things are annoying and really count towards (or in this case against) customer confidence. Try Google’s ’website optimiser’ – a tool that allows you to test different versions of your site to help decide what the best version is.
Incentives and interaction
Incorporate things into your site that people want to spend time doing, this could include anything from quizzes, polls, questions, comments areas, forums, things to rate, games etc (I could keep listing things but I think you get the point).
April 15th, 2011.
PPC is a complex system of bidding on low cost, undiscovered but really high traffic keywords in attempt to rank as high up in Google’s SERP’s for your brand as possible.
Often underestimated, users create campaigns which run okay. Maybe they break even, perhaps their site is getting more exposure and if they are lucky, they might even get some conversions. One quick search, and the internet overflows with hints, tips and tricks on how to effectively create PPC campaigns to maximise your ROI, and everyone lives happily ever after…
Unfortunately this isn’t the reality for everyone. Sometimes campaigns can take an awful turn for the worst and instead of those fluffy guides that explain how to be a PPC mastermind, I often wonder if those company owners and PPC newbie’s who suffer have done so because they read a different, slightly darker guide that mislead them. This is how I imagine such a guide would read:
Spend wisely and try to set a reasonable budget that you will be able to pay.
Invest copious amounts of money into every campaign almost breaking the bank. It doesn’t matter if you have other bills to pay or budgets to keep to, now that you’ve read a little here and there, it’s guaranteed that this will pay off – the more money invested the better!
Avoid the main keywords for your brand, there is likely to be high competetion for these which will result in high CPC rates!
Try your very best to beat-out the competition by going head to head for the most competitive keywords for your brand. Be generic and avoid specific. For example, if you’re selling sportswear, bid on “shoe”, “trainer” and “clothing” so that when somebody searches for those terms, your ad will appear somewhere in the results as long as you followed that first rule about money!
Try to use long-tail keyword prhases that have lower search volumes but also lower CPC rates. Using a variety of broad and “phrase” match terms can help with this too.
Be extremely precise by using [exact match] for everything. Long keywords are for suckers, get to the point with one word terms, be honest who has the time to think up long-tail keywords anyway? Instead, spend the time you have saved and go shopping or catch up with an old friend!
Carry out keyword research so you can get an idea of the kinds of things people are searching for. This might also help you to think of alternate keyword variations that people might not have thought up, but will get the desired result.
Do everything as quickly as possible! You don’t have the time to hang around when people are selling the same product as you! Use your intuition and instinct, the first words that pop into your head when you think of your product are the ones you should go for. Get them in and bid ASAP!
Monitor your ads throughout the day, this will help you to discover what is getting clicks and impressions and what isn’t. If something isn’t working, change it.
Time is money. Once you have quickly set up one campaign leave it to simmer and create the next one. If you have followed this guide so far then everything should be a-okay!
Don’t worry if you aren’t getting a good enough ROI to begin with. Use whatever results you have as a learning curve and improve what you need to. Use helpful features like the opportunities tab, or the many reporting tools to make a difference.
Money is everything. If you check and your campaigns aren’t doing well, you’re doomed and should probably give up. Shame on you!
Follow this guide and be a professional failure now!
April 13th, 2011.
Using non-standard characters in the page title and meta description tag seems to be a growing trend in many industries. The idea is that by using eye-catching non-standard characters readers attention is drawn to their result first, even in preference to results that may be above them.
The practice of optimising search results to maximise click-through-rate is not a new one and has been used in PPC advertising to good effect for years, but where PPC ads have to go through an approval process (where many techniques are outlawed) meta descriptions and organic results do not, so boundaries can be pushed much further.
Who Is Doing It?
How Do I Use Special Characters In My Title And Description?
Use of many characters seem to be by trial and error. John Campbell is a man with far more patience than I, and he has tested the indexing of many special characters.
Special characters can be created using Unicode such as,
© is created with:©
® is created with:®
™ is created with:™
A full list of Unicode characters can be found on Wikipedia
What Are The Effects?
Currently there is largely anecdotal evidence for the benefits of an increase in click through rate. It would be difficult to test definitively as there are several other variables to factor-in.
Shaun Anderson at Hobo is well respected within the industry for running extensive tests on theories rather than relying on guesswork, he is running one the tests shown above,
It’s incredibly hard to test the impact of this on SERPS in an accurate manner. I am currently running some tests on pages on my site. You need a page with stable rankings, and a stable flow of traffic to get exact results, and that’s kind of difficult with the ever-fluctuation of Google SERPS and how changes to the UI (based on query or geo-location – for instance) impact your rankings and clicks on a daily basis – over time – in a natural way. Special characters in snippets certainly get noticed and commented upon, that’s for sure. Once you rank, GETTING CLICKED is what it is all about – every little thing that might help, should be tested on for size. You can get a way with a lot in terms of getting special characters in your snippet DESCRIPTION – but not so much in your TITLE link description (Google strips out some special characters from this element if you try it).
I was also lucky enough to hear from Craig Parker at Soula.com who has conducted some tests of his own.
In a short test I ran on a UK based e-commerce site I found implementing special characters in title tags had a small positive effect on click-through but this was not statistically significant, after around a week it caused a small negative change in [Google] rankings.
Implementing special characters in the meta was difficult to get indexed/displayed on the SERPs and provided a very minimal increase, again not statically significant.
The Bigger Picture…
The largest problem with this technique is that the more people use it the less effective it becomes. how long until our search results pages look like this and nobody derives any benefit from it?
The new and improved version
What are your thoughts on this?
February 24th, 2011.
The current trend of Newspaper sites to publish their content behind paywalls seems to be gathering speed. The recent Google announcement of its OnePass payment system can only increase the process by making payment technology available to a wider audience.
I thought it would be interesting to look to see how the move to paywalls has affected the news sites backlink acquisition rates.
So far the main newspapers that have added Paywalls have been,
- The Financial Times – 2002
- Moneyweek – 2005
- The Times and The Sunday Times – April 2010
- The News Of The World – November 2010
- The Telegraph is set to add a paywall in September 2011
Taking the two most recent examples of The Time and The News Of The World, and using the excellent Majestic SEO graph functionality we are able to see changes on their backlink acquisition rates.
Similar, but less dramatic results for The Times. This is slightly more confusing as the paywall coincided with a domain change from timesonline.co.uk to thetimes.co.uk. We can see clearly that link gains to the old URL start to decline without the new domain ever really gaining links as a comparative rate.
Where I see some really interesting data is in the rate of acquisition for competitors sites who chose not to implement a paywall. A close online and offline competitor to both The Times and NOTW is The Daily Mail.
Their acquisition rate starts to climb sharply from the date The Times paywall goes live, and their highest ever month coincides with the NOTW adding their paywall. It’ll be interesting to see if the following two low months, December and January are a result of incomplete link data or some other trend.
It’s an interesting theory to see of the final few content producers within a market start to perform far better in terms of finance and popularity than those that eventually choose to follow the paywall route.
This week I visited an email workshop “Email Best Practices from Sign-up to Delivery” in London presented by Dr. Philip Rhodes, Ph.D. from One to One. Dr. Rhodes reviewed email newsletters and sign up process from the top 20 UK online retailers, which I believe many of you who are looking to improve your email marketing will find very useful.
I hope this study will help you to look at your own email marketing program through fresh eyes and that by applying some of these email marketing best practises outlined here and using top 20 UK retailers as your benchmark, you will be able to gain a significant improvement.
List of the UK retailers included in this study:
Sign up process findings:
• 18/20 sites had a link to sign-up on the homepage
• 2/20 had links on deeper pages
• 12 sites sent immediate email confirmation
• No newsletters received within 24 hours
• Only 8/20 newsletters received (within 3 weeks of sign-up)
• River Island & Next performed the best
• Play was the worst
Best practices – sign up process:
1. Include Sign-up on the homepage
2. Sign up should be located towards the top of the page (at least above the fold)
3. Should be accompanied by an image or icon e.g. an envelope to draw attention
4. Ensure sign-up requires minimal data entry e.g. name and email address
5. Include a short sentence stating the benefits of signing up e.g. promotions, stay up to date with news and events etc
6. Do not require any unnecessary information to be entered (such as postal address, income, etc.)
7. Do not require users to ‘create an account’ or ‘become a member’ of the site
8. Consider including a short second step/page allowing users to customise the newsletter by selecting specific areas of interest
9. Provide a ‘select all’ tick box or ‘general newsletter’ opt in
10. Provide a link to the latest newsletter so that users know what to expect before subscribing
11. Do not require users to re-enter information e.g. do not request name / email address a second time
12. Include a clear indication on the website that the subscription process is complete and has been successful
13. Ideally include a clear, separate confirmation page with different content
14. Include a clear thank you message on this page
15. Provide an indication of what the user can expect next i.e. email confirmation
16. Send email confirmation immediately
17. User should not need to ‘reconfirm’ the subscription
18. Ensure consistency with site i.e. branding and logo, etc.
19. Include information about newsletters e.g. frequency and type of content
20. Include a link back to the website
21. Include a link to unsubscribe
22. Include contact details
Best practices – newsletter:
1. Include a clear and catchy subject line so that the user immediately recognises the email
2. Ensure consistency with the site in terms of branding e.g. logo, layout, etc.
3. Include links to the site and ensure that they are clear e.g. logo and url address
4. Do not include hidden links e.g. decorative images or plain text
5. Include links to social networking sites and to share the newsletter
6. Links to the social network site e.g. Facebook page
7. Ensure that the e-mail is personalised – use of first name, etc.
8. There must be a clear option to ‘unsubscribe’. This must not be hidden within text
9. Do not use terms such as ‘remove’ or ‘opt out’. Instead use ‘unsubscribe’
10. Provide a real address, phone number or other similar contact details about the sender
11. Do not include excessive amount of text
12. Limit the length of the e-newsletter, do not cause the user to vertically scroll excessively. Test this to find what works the best for you.
Don’t forget about your landing pages!
Another very important part of your email marketing is the landing pages on your site. If you say in your email for example ‘20% off’ or ‘free delivery’, make sure the same message is carried through and shown on your website or at least on a landing page so you meet the set expectation.
In this example below you can see a screenshot from one newsletter promising me 25% off and showing me some bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings. The subject line was: Twenty-five reasons to give (and get) jewelry.