Finding Great photos for your Website

Great Photos Make a Website!

Finding the right, high-quality images for your website is important.  The quality of the images can affect how your visitors perceive your website – whether it is credible or not. Whether this is fair or not, it’s simply human psychology.  We all tend to gravitate towards nice and pretty pictures and are quick to judge when something doesn’t look good. Web design is super important but just as important is choosing the right photos to use on your site. Your website rather custom designed or just a free WordPress theme was built with certain image sizes and quality in mind. Nothing is worse than a grainy or distorted photo on a new website. Selecting strong images will not only give you a better design it will help you build trust with your prospective client! you can read more about how to build trust in the design process here http://noogalabs.com/building-trust-web-design/

A list of places to find the best free stock photos

Finding great stock photos is a pain. You’re left with either low-res amateur photos, people wearing cheesy headsets, or photos that are out of budget for the project you’re working on. Below is an ongoing list (so bookmark it) of the best stock photo sites I’ve come across.


Building Trust With Web Design

Among the most effective methods to build trust with possible consumers is with great web design.

It can not be said any longer that a site’s style is not one of the most influencing facets on a consumer’s preliminary opinion of a business. Research studies show that simply upgrading the style to look much more contemporary can raise conversion rates by upwards of 33%.

Yet excellent website design that establishes trust goes beyond also obtaining brand-new customers. For example, numerous consumers go to a company’s website to research study an item prior to purchasing– and oftentimes in order to help choose while buying.

Without trust, customers will not simply choose not to buy– they will inform others concerning their disappointments, and potentially also compose poor testimonials. Various other customers who are concerned concerning the authenticity of the business will certainly then look up these testimonials, pushing others towards a competitor.

The end outcomes of an undependable web design are fairly rapid.

Before we talk about great web design that constructs trust, allow me to highlight a few top areas of trust that a business needs to represent to acquire loyalty from clients:

Honesty– Consumers have to make sure that the business will certainly tell the truth regarding what a product could do, providing complete info on the item, as well as being genuine in just what the business could do.
Follow-through– Once a company mentions all they will do for a customer, it needs to complete whatever was promised.
Moral– Essentially, customers need to recognize that an organization will certainly treat a customer fairly and also lawfully.
Cares about clients– A firm should show clients that it wishes to give the most effective service and product feasible; a customer intends to really feel that a business truthfully cares about them as a human, not just as a customer.
Protection– Online purchases are a huge obstacle for clients to get over; they have to feel entirely safe prior to making a purchase online.
Quality products– A company’s items need to satisfy the consumer’s expectations as supplied by the descriptions on the site; otherwise, the trust is entirely destroyed.
Legitimacy– Simply a consumer needs to believe that a business is “real,” or no trust on could be developed.

It’s apparent by looking at these factors over that keeping trust on beyond that initial acquisition is up to the company.

Website designers, however, have the very substantial job of making sure that a company could build trust from the starting point. However just what does a website need to include to establish a customer’s trust? Allow us to have a look …

Build Trust with Context

The Digital Trust Campaign finished an extremely intriguing case study, they had individuals make health insurance comparisons, the idea being in order to help people better locate and also contrast plans under the Affordable Treatment Act.

Exactly what the study revealed is just how crucial context is to customers: if the solutions weren’t pertinent to fixing their problems, their trust on the company was unbelievably low.

A lot of the testers were disappointed because the website made it tough to discover the appropriate info they should feel comfortable in a choice, such as having to learn 13 pages of info as well as no way to leap to pertinent information.

Others seemed like the important details just weren’t there, even in 13 pages, so one would certainly have to do more research study on a Third party site. Testers came away from the experience expressing the site was deceitful and didn’t have their benefit in mind.

Currently, you still absolutely wish to see to it the content is complete. For instance, as found in the research study, concise as well as clear web content that is understandable and also broken up nicely with bullets or boxes is a lot more trustworthy compared to web pages of significant long paragraphs of just plain text.

A large part of assisting visitors to discover pertinent information is to organize it nicely as well as make it understandable. Always remember to search the site for typos.

Excellent Website design Consists of Trust Symbols

Putting seals as well as other trusted visuals on the website, specifically the homepage, is most likely one of the most convenient methods to build trust through web design.

The next few things are musts that ought to be included if in all feasible. Of course, some of you may not have every one of these components collected yet, however, I can’t stress just how crucial it is to include these on the site quickly.

Any kind of honors, awards and also press mentions are constantly great aspects to point out on the home page, given that they establish legitimacy in the minds of customers. Local and national publication are wonderful ways to build trust. One of my favorites is to partner with a local nonprofit and then reach out to a local paper to cover the event.

One more great method to show that a business is reliable as well as ethical is with guarantees, such as a satisfaction assurance.

Protection seals such as the BBB seal or a safe and secure checkout such as TRUSTe and VeriSign help a client feel that their private information is risk-free.

One significant oversight on the part of cyber organizations is the physical location of the business. Contact info additionally establishes trust, but most normally consist of at a minimum an email or phone number to call for help. The physical area shows customers that a business is real enough to be reliable.

Lastly, don’t forget to include present and previous client logos if you are a B2B Company. If you are B2C put pictures of your customers with testimonials that show pleasurable experience that will build trust to the business.

Things Should Act as Expected

There really is something to following standards, particularly online. A design should look special, for certain, but the website ought to conform to the means of the Net. Additionally, remember the data concerning mobile searches and also make your website mobile friendly.

A few of these performances include clicking on the website’s logo to return to the homepage, email verifications for signing up, filters to make searches more customized. Also, a huge deal is that a website has no dead links. Really just one busted web link can put a little opening in the customer’s trust that ultimately spirals into going a competitor’s site.

Another vital element in helping to earn trust is fast loading times. Try to stabilize the pizazz in the layout (those components that could prevent load time) with just how quickly a customer can open an internet site and afterward navigate with it.

No matter just how amazing and pretty your website is, a user won’t continue to be there long enough to figure the website out if the load time is taking too long.

 

Another key in building trust is choosing the correct domain name! See our article here: http://noogalabs.com/10-rules-choosing-domain-name/

The great YETI giveaway

​W​e are going to be running a contest / promotion on our Linkedin and Facebook pages!
We want to use the ​information​​ collected in this contest to show our clients how they can run a successful contest and obey the rules of both Facebook and Linkedin.  We know that Yeti cups are a hot item right now, and we are hoping to see a strong response to this promotion. We have assumptions on which platform will do better, we also plan to create a blog post once this is over showing our stats on both pages from when we start to when we finished. We will run the contest for one month. At the start, we have 487 likes and average about 25 actions on our posts per week, we have 39 followers on Linkedin  and dismal actions. 

Facebook rules for the​ Ye​ti giveaway contest are as follows:

You can receive 5 entries total. You will receive one entry for a like​ and one for a comment​. ​​W​e can not give entries for shares or tagging people​, as​ this is a clear violation of Facebook​’s​ policy​. You will receive 3 entries for liking our page.

Linkedin rules for theYeti giveaway contest are as follows:​

You can receive 5 entries total. You will receive one entry for a like, one for a comment, one for a share and 2 entries for following our page.

7 Tips to Dominate Small Business Saturday

small busniess saturday chattanoga

Between Black Friday, back to school, and other holiday sales- there’s always a chance to increase your marketing and to have sales. For small business owners, Small Business Saturday is invaluable! This day was created to drive traffic to small businesses and encourage locals to shop small. Many people see the value in shopping locally, they just need to know you’re there and what you’re offering for this special day!

How Small Business Saturday Started

 

American Express is responsible for this day. It is kind of ironic, seeing as how they are far from local. They started this initiative during the recession, when most people were just trying to stay afloat, and were not concerned with where they shopped. This day is the day after Black Friday– when most people shop the big chain stores who seem to be opening earlier and earlier these days!

Lisette Bernstein, Vice President of Small Business Saturday at American Express, told Forbes: “In only five years, Small Business Saturday has taken on a life of its own and it’s been very exciting to see how small business owners and communities have come together to own the day and make it special.”

American Express’ plan is yielding huge payouts to local businesses- in 2014 88 million people supported #ShopSmall and spent $14.3 billion at independent stores and restaurants, which was an increase of $300 million from 2013! Small Business Saturday doesn’t necessarily mean you have to dramatically cut all of your prices- it just means you need to be creative with your advertising so people come visit you!

Basically, if you want to increase your sales by encouraging people to #ShopSmall, you have to break away from traditional marketing tactics (mailers & signs) and try something new!

local chattanooga shop

Some examples on how to spice up your marketing include:

1. Register (this is probably the easiest one.)

You don’t have to register for Small Business Saturday, but you’ll miss out on some great perks from American Express! You’ll receive logos, signs, and a spot on their searchable Small Business Map! For a little bit of time, this is totally worth it and will help you get the most traffic on this valuable day! Best part of all of this? It’s totally FREE. Now you really have no excuse not to sign up!

2. Don’t give prices too much attention- promote the customer!

Another benefit of Small Business Saturday is the ability to gain lifelong customers. If you’re flashing 60% off signs everywhere, people will be visiting your store for the sale only, and will have no reason to come back once things are regular price again. Take the time to talk to every customer, make connections with them and ensure they have a positive experience- that way you’ll have gained a new repeat customer, which pays off way more than a one-time shopper who bought something at a steep discount.

Depending on the size of your establishment, this may be easier said than done. Employee training is very valuable to ensure the best turnout for this. Your employees should hopefully already know the products, but now they have to take the time to get to know the customer. Ideally, they would already be practicing this method, but a check-in is definitely in order. A simple smile and a brief conversation goes a long way in the customer’s eye, as that is not typical treatment they receive at big box stores. You can give them some easy conversation starters, for example: “Have yo ever been here before?” and let the conversation progress from there as necessary. This could lead to talking about nearby parking, or where a good place to catch a bite to eat afterwards would be.  This will ensure a positive experience for your new customer and they’re sure to return.

3. Re-target your Facebook ads.

Assuming you already use Facebook for advertising your business (if you don’t, we need to talk!) this is a great time to leverage the power of Facebook. Target customers who have been to your store, or to businesses close to your store. You can increase (or decrease) the radius of the customers to which you advertise to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.

You’ll want to start the ads 3-5 days before Small Business Saturday to ensure the most exposure. Target the friends of people who have visited your store, or live very close by. After all, the whole point is to shop locally, so targeting people who aren’t geographically close to your store is a waste of your time & effort!

4. Tweet your heart out. 

Remaining active on Twitter in the days leading up to Small Business Saturday is also very important! This should continue on through the day itself, as well as past it. It’s the easiest way to get information to your customer’s quickly and effectively.

A great way to maximize the benefits is to interact with other small businesses on Twitter. Create a list with @ShopSmall (Amex) and other small business/business groups in your area.  Interact with these customers in the weeks leading up to the big day- do some re-tweeting, favoriting,  and possibly even highlight another small business (in hopes that they may return the favor some day!)

You should also consider using a social media posting tool (such as Hootsuite or Buffer.) You can analyze posts with the hashtags you intend to use (such as #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSaturday) and see what works best for other companies. 10-15 minutes per day interacting with others goes a LONG way!

5. Do Something Different!

As we mentioned before, price cuts aren’t necessarily the route you want to go on this day. Instead, turn your business into THE place to be on that day. Host a special event with hors d’oeuvres, drinks and possibly some giveaways. This just adds to the customer experience and helps set you apart from the competition!

The main thing you’re accomplishing on Small Business Saturday is getting people through the door. As you know, there are customer retention rates that will also apply to these customers, but increasing the number of bodies through the door will inevitably increase your customer base!

6. Create A Village.

As the owner of a small business, you probably already have connections with other business owners in the area. Maybe you don’t sell the same products, but have similar clientele. Consider joining with these businesses and doing one large giveaway. For example, maybe you own a bakery- you could pair with a local photographer, bridal shoppe, and florist to do a giveaway to include everything for a wedding!

If a giveaway is too big, maybe consider offering reciprocal discounts. For example, if someone visits the above mentioned bridal shoppe, with a receipt, you could offer a discount to that customer. Referral networks are a great source of business!

Before jumping in on this plan, you’ll want to do your research on the businesses you’re considering partnering with. Choose companies with a positive social media presence, as well as someone that you feel would advertise your business the same way you would theirs. Building these relationships with the right businesses will definitely pay off for you in the long haul!

sharing-your-knowledge

7. Sharing Is Caring.

Everyone has their own unique set of skills. This is a great time to highlight yours (or those of your employees!) Using the previous example, as a bakery owner, maybe you could drop off pastries for the small businesses around you the morning of Small Business Saturday. Or if you are great at dialing in your targeting on Facebook, perhaps you could host a webinar showing how you do it! Don’t forget the benefit of the soft sell in situations like these. They’ll get to taste your pastries, or see what specials you’re currently offering on Facebook!

Don’t Forget The Benefits After Small Business Saturday

 

While it’s evident that more people are engaging in #ShopSmall, your business can benefit year-round from this one day! As the years go on, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t work, and tweak the promotions/events accordingly! A good way to monitor coupons (if you choose to use them,) is to create unique coupon codes for each different promotion you run, that way you’ll know where you received the most bang for your buck.

Don’t fall off after the holiday has passed- once you get a customer you want to keep them as a customer! Consistent social media engagement is a very important aspect of this!

By practicing these simple steps- y0u’ll gain long-time customers and inevitably, increase your bottom line!

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search engine marketing (SEM)—more commonly referred to as “search marketing”—is the process of earning additional traffic and visibility via both paid and organic search listings.

SEM is the large umbrella comprised of search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertisements (PPC). If you’ve been reading our previous posts, a lightbulb should’ve just went off:

SEO doesn’t live alone in a silo. It’s part of a bigger, more robust marketing strategy.

That’s because Google has become our be-all and end-all for information. What was once a fun way to find answers to weird questions—remember Ask Jeeves?—has now become our preferred tool to find places to go, things to do, and products to buy.

Whether it’s on a desktop, laptop, or smartphone, your prospective customers are using search engines to make decisions. What’s the likelihood they’ll run into your business while looking for content, products, or services in your vertical?

If you haven’t invested in search engine marketing, I’ll give you a hint: not likely. There’s an unprecedented level of competition out there, and businesses who are ignoring SEM are getting left behind.

Fast.

Still don’t think search engine marketing is worth the investment? Check out these alarming search engine usability statistics:

  • Search is the number one source of external traffic to content sites. (Outbrain)
  • There are more than 11.9 billion Google searches performed each month. (comScore)
  • 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. (Forrester)

The most eye-popping stat? According to Search Engine Watch, during Google’s rare, complete outage that lasted between one and five minutes in 2013, 40% of global Internet traffic simply disappeared.

40 percent of GLOBAL traffic… Let that sink in for a minute.

If marketing is placing your company’s message where your ideal customers are, why isn’t your business investing in search engine marketing?

That question just blew your mind, didn’t it? It’s ok, you’re not alone: it blew ours, too. That’s why we started Nooga Labs! If you’d like to learn more about how you can start investing in SEM to help grow your business, give us a call. More people need to hear your business’ story, and we’re experts in both telling and selling it. Let’s get started, shall we?

Everything You Need to Know About SEO but Are Afraid to Ask

Search engine optimization… Also known as “SEO.” You’ve probably heard of it. But you might not have any idea what it means. That’s OK. That’s what we’re here for.

An inbound marketing channel that’s gained steam in the past decade, SEO is a great tool to help your digital marketing efforts.

In simple terms, search engine optimization means constructing your website in such a way that it is transparent to both search engines and users, allowing them to easily understand exactly what your business is about and what it has to offer.

SEO means many things:

  • The way your website is designed
  • Its content
  • The way the content is displayed
  • The coding language(s) used
  • Other websites it links to
  • Websites that link back to it
  • Images and videos it contains
  • The most common words and phrases that appear in its content
  • Any social media profiles and/or pages connected to it
  • The quality and quantity of associated listings elsewhere on the web

Simply put, SEO should be a considerable part of your online marketing efforts and perhaps some of your traditional advertising strategies, as well. Millions of people are using search engines at any given moment. They are looking to go somewhere, perform a specific action, or obtain more information about something.

When those search queries cross lines with your business vertical, how is your website addressing those consumers’ needs? Maybe the better question is: Is your website addressing your target consumers’ needs, AND if it is, can they find the answers you’ve laid out for them?

SEO is a complicated industry that should only be tackled by qualified experts. Regardless of your brand’s size or location, an aggressive search engine optimization campaign can help grow your exposure and sales leads. And we can run that campaign.

Contact us today to get your story in front of more people that want—and need—to hear it.

Want a piece of content to “go viral”? Read this first

Every content creator dreams of seeing one of his or her pieces of content “go viral.” We’ve all seen countless pieces get viewed, ‘liked,” and shared millions of times, and publishers and marketers are now racing to find the magic formula to make it happen at will.

But can you really make a piece of content “go viral”?

The short answer?

No. It’s pretty much impossible.

The long answer?

Yes, but it’s still pretty much impossible. Keep reading.

going-viral

In order for content to “go viral,” not only do tons of your friends and followers have to ‘LIKE’ and share it, but so do tons of their friends and followers, and so on. And it really, really helps if your audience of friends and followers is already huge.

Before any of that can happen, however, the content has to connect with your audience.

Is it interesting?

Is it surprising?

It is optimistic or motivational or inspiring?

Is it useful?

Does it grab their attention and keep it?

If not, then go back to the drawing board. If yes, then you still want to proceed with caution. The most viral pieces of content contain those attributes—but so do millions of pieces of content that don’t go viral. You can have the greatest, most shareable piece of content ever created, but if you don’t position it for success, no one will ever see it.

If you want a piece of content to go viral, ask yourself the following questions:

• How are you planning to distribute it? Do you understand those platforms or channels? Is your audience even there? Are you overlooking better options?

• Are you willing to spend money on advertising—or to create content in the first place?

• And what about your headline? Will people actually want to click on it? (“Clickable” headline writing is a topic unto itself. We’ll talk about it in a future post. Check back later.) How many headlines did you brainstorm before you settled on one? Are you willing to spend time testing a couple of them?

Needless to say, there is a lot to consider. Everything has to click for people to want to click. And even if they do click, there is no guarantee that those clicks will translate into sales. Instead of striving for millions of people to like and share one piece of content, you’d be better served if a more modest number of devoted followers liked and shared all of your content. That’s how relationships are built, and relationships drive sales.

It’s almost impossible to create a piece of viral content. But it is possible to create great content that produces great results for you and your brand. And we can help. Contact us today and let us help you tell your story.

Google Analytics Glossary: Better Understand Your Data

Analytics play a crucial role in any inbound marketing campaign. Even the smallest of companies can use analytics to better optimize their websites for online performance online and organic search results. Google analytics—one of the most popular web visitor tracking tools—comes with its own unique set of vocabulary that is crucial to understand in order to be able to make actionable changes to your online efforts.

We’ve put together this useful Google Analytics glossary to help you understand each and every aspect of the data in front of you—from the simplest of terms like clicks and visits to more complicated advanced segments and regular expressions. Reading and bookmarking this glossary with help you be a more educated marketing professional and teach you to speak knowledgeably about the traffic being sent to your site and how visitors are behaving upon arrival.

 

Advanced Segments: A feature that allows you to isolate specific types of traffic to your website within your analytics reporting. For example, mobile traffic, new users, bounced visits, etc.

Alerts: A custom feature that you can generate to notify you when visitors perform a certain task or reach a certain goal. You can also set alerts on a broad scale, for instance, when traffic spikes or drops by a certain percentage.

Annotations: A note-taking feature that allows you to record when changes to the website were made. For recording purposes only.

Benchmarking: A service that compares your website’s metrics with other websites of similar sizes and industries. This data gives you an idea of how you’re performing relative to the average business in your category.

Bounce Rate: The number of people who visit one page of your website and immediately leave (click back to the results page or close the browser) without visiting another page. Not to be confused with exit rate.

Branded Traffic: The traffic that arrives at your website by people searching for you using your brand’s name and other brand-related terms. (You’ll have to set up a custom reports to display this type of traffic.)

Click: The action a web visitor takes to travel to your website or to another page of your site.

Cookie: A small piece of code that remembers visitors and their preferences within your website. Can apply to visitors’ experiences when returning to your website and even their experiences on other websites (via advertising).

Conversion: The completion of a goal. A web visitor completes a goal that you’ve manually set up within your website’s analytics platform.

Click-through-rate: The number of clicks your website receives in search engine result pages divided by the number of impressions your listings get.

Custom Reporting: An analytics report that you can create to include only the information you want to see.

Custom Variable: A custom report that shows visitor activity in segments that you create by modifying the analytics tracking code.

Dashboard: The “homepage” of the analytics platform.

Direct Traffic: Traffic from people typing your URL directly in the web browser. Also a measure of traffic where the tracking source is lost.

E-commerce: Or electronic commerce, it signifies the analytics data that’s dedicated to tracking visitor actions within your website’s shopping cart or other commerce area of your website.

Engagement Rate: The length of time (measured in time intervals) a visitor spends on your website.

Entrance: Pages where visitors entered your website from outside sources. The homepage is usually one of the pages with the highest number of entrances.

Event: An action you are tracking on your website. An event can be any action you wish to track, but it is usually reserved for actions that don’t lead someone to a specific URL. In other words, event tracking is often used for actions that occur within one page. Examples of events are downloading a file or playing a video.

Exclude: A filter that excludes a piece of data when it meets the qualifications.

Exit Rate: The percentage of people who leave your site after looking at a particular page. Users may have visited several pages prior to exiting, which is what differentiates exit and bounce rate.

Filter: A display of information according to specific criteria you select.

Funnel: The visualization of the steps users take leading up to a goal completion on your website. Funnels are useful when attempting to see where people are abandoning your goal.

In-Page Analytics: A visual report that gives you an assessment of how visitors interact with your website. Things like user experience, organization of content, answering user questions, and what links are being clicked the most often can all be seen and understood through this feature.

Impression: When your website appears in search results for a particular query.

Include: A filter that includes a piece of data when it meets the qualifications.

Keyword: The word or query that users use to search for websites in search engines.

Goal: Actions you want visitors to take on your website that are usually tied to a specific URL. Common goals include tracking form submissions or making purchases.

Goal Conversion Rate: The number of visits that include conversions divided by the total number of visits.

Goal Flow: A visual report that shows the path that visitors take along their way to making a conversion on your website. This report helps you track the multiple steps that occur before conversions take place and better predict how to optimize your website to increase conversions.

Landing Page: The page a visitor lands on when they click through from the search engine results pages.

Medium: The type of traffic within a particular source that traffic to your website originated from.

Metrics: Individual pieces of data that can be measured. Page views, gender, and visit duration are all metrics.

Users (formerly “New Visitors”:): A user who visits your website for the first time or a returning visitor that has deleted his or her browser history, cleared its cache, or previously visited the website in a private browsing mode.

Non-Branded Traffic: Traffic that arrives at your website using words and phrases that are not your brand name. Ideally, this non-branded traffic would be a high volume of people arriving to your website using your keywords.

(Not provided): Search information that is now blocked in analytics reports because users are logged into their Google accounts while searching, using a particular web browser, or searching on a secure page. Google decided to withhold this information due to privacy concerns for users, but some industry experts claim it was also done to increase people’s participation in AdWords campaigns, where keyword data is provided.

Organic Traffic: Traffic to your website that arrives from people clicking your website’s listing in organic search results.

Paid Traffic: Traffic to your website that arrives from people clicking your ads in the search engines.

Pageview: The number of pages a visitor views over the duration of their visit to your website.

Parameters: Sometimes referred to as UTM parameters, parameters are tags added to the end of URLs in order to better define and track from what source traffic is coming to your website—or a particular webpage. Most often used for ads or links from social assets, parameters allow you to measure the effectiveness or tweets, Facebook posts, pins, Google+ updates, or any ads you have online.

Referral Traffic: Traffic to your website that arrives from a third-party websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.

Regular Expressions (Regex): A sequence of characters that forms a search pattern in computing. It’s mainly used for finding matching patterns or strings of code. You can use Regex in analytics platforms to search for a particular piece of content or to be part of a custom filter or segment.

Query: The word or phrase a user enters into a search engine to find your website.

Tracking Code: The snippet of code that needs to be inserted into thesection of every page of your website that you want to display analytics data for. For more information on how to do this, see Google’s helpful walk-through.

Traffic: The term used to describe the action of visitors coming to your website.

Screen Resolution: Dimensions that define what screen size users are using when visiting your website. This helps decipher what types of desktops, laptops, and mobile devices are being used when visitors reach your site and can help you optimize the structure of your site to better serve the most popular dimensions.

Search Traffic: Traffic to your website that comes from any search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Duck Duck Go, etc.).

Site Search: A search feature within your website that allows visitors to search your entire domain for certain keywords and pieces of information.

Source: Where the traffic to your website originated.

Visitors: The number of individuals who viewed your website. One visitor can visit your site multiple times, so you will never have more visitors than visits.

Visitor Flow: A report that visualizes the path visitors took through your site, starting with the source it arrived from and ending with the page it either converted on or exited from. While the visual representation is sometimes overwhelmingly complicated, when broken down, it provides crucial information on how visitors are interacting with each page and gives direction on what portion of the website you should turn your attention to next.

Sessions (formerly “Visits”): The number of times people viewed your site. Not to be confused with visitors.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL): The location (or address) where websites and their pages can be accessed on the Internet.

Link Building the Right Way: Questions to Ask Before Getting Links for SEO

 

 

Link building is a buzzword in the search industry and for good reason. What many believe to be the most powerful correlation to ranking higher in search engine results, the art of link building has transformed from something automated to something highly specialized and unique. The story of link building itself and its transformation has been written a thousand times over, and we simply don’t have time to cover the entire history in this post. That’s what summaries are for.

The short and sweet of it is: Google – and to a lesser extent other search engines as well – has cracked down on examining the quality of links pointing back to your website. Spam websites or directories, techniques that involve hiding links, and article spinning are just a few examples of links that may result in your website receiving a manual penalty. Major losses in organic search traffic will ensue, and if you’re not careful, you could lose your business. There are countless examples, so let me know which ones I’ve forgotten and should’ve included instead in the comments.

 

There Is a Right Way to Get Links

If you’re attempting to acquire links to your website the right way, here are 15 questions to ask yourself before getting a link to your business’ website.

Did I pay for the link in any way, shape, or form?

Paying for links used to work. Now, Google and other search engines have been extremely clear: paying for links will get you penalized. It’s pretty easy to tell if you’ve paid for a link, and your business isn’t worth risking traffic and business leads through organic search. If you paid for the link in any way, shape, or form, it’s not a link you’d like to acquire.

Is the content linking to my page relevant to my customers?

The page the link comes from should be relevant to your local business. If you make blue widgets, it probably makes sense to receive a link from a blue widget manufacturer’s page or a blog post that reviews blue widgets made by your company and your competitors. If your customers are unlikely to be interested in the content that’s linking to your website, they’re probably never going to care about the piece of content linking back to your website.

Is the link site-wide?

One notoriously “spammy” link tactic that will trigger a red flag with Google is getting a site-wide link. Site-wide links are from domains that link to you from every single page of their website. There is literally never a reasonable use for this and you should never pursue acquiring a link that is site-wide.

Can the webmaster of the site linking to you be contacted?

“Contact Us” pages are extremely popular across websites of all shapes and sizes. If there’s a relevant industry website that you’re thinking about getting a link from, but can’t find any information on how to contact the business or where the business is, you should pass on this opportunity. It’s almost definitely a spam website.

Recognizable brand name?

The popularity of the company’s brand name you’re hoping to get a link from is something to take into consideration. Now, you can’t only seek links from major national sources like Mashable and the New York Times. What about the local and regional communities? If the brand has credibility and owns a powerful online presence, that should reinforce your hopes of getting a link back to your website from them.

Would you still want to acquire the link if search engines didn’t exist?

This is a really cliche question in the SEO industry, and I didn’t want to include it because of that reason. However, the logic behind it is good. Search engines use links as one of hundreds of different identifiers to determine which websites are most relevant for a particular string of keywords. You should be getting a link from another website because it will produce sales leads, is good news coverage and exposure, or will grow your business in any way — not because you think Google will rank you higher. Another way to ask this question is, “Would you acquire this link with Matt Cutts or Duane Forrester looking over your shoulder?”

What’s the catch?

Reciprocal linking is the act of (essentially) trading links. If acquiring a link from a relevant business requires reciprocal linking on a large scale, requires payment, or anything else the search engines may deem unnatural, the catch probably isn’t worth your trouble.

Where is link located on the website?

This won’t necessarily stop you from acquiring a link, but rather help you understand which links are more valuable than others. Links included in an article that appears above the fold, for example, are typically more valuable than links included in the footer. If a link to your website is included at the beginning of a blog post that was inspired by a piece of content currently on your domain, the link is essentially acting as a source, giving that webpage extreme value from both a user and search engine’s perspective. On the other hand, a link in the footer speaks to it being an afterthought, unimportant, and may even be the result of poor linking practices.

What other websites does the domain link to?

The SEO community is blessed to have so many wonderful free tools that help us do our jobs better. There are several tools — free and paid — that help with analyzing the link profile of websites. One effective way to evaluate the legitimacy of the website linking to you is by seeing what other websites they’re linking out to. Do they link to and source other industry leaders? Or do they link out to almost any website regardless of industry and business type.

Does the website have active social accounts?

Social media went from being a fad to having a major impact on search results seemingly overnight. But I don’t want to talk about the impact of social media on search results, rather just common sense. If the company has active social accounts that produce a lot of great, unique content for their followers to share and engage with, that’s a positive sign about how the company operates. If no social accounts exist or, even worse, the accounts exist but there’s no engagement or following to speak of, that should prompt you to dig deeper about the company you may be receiving a link from.

Would your competitor want a link from this domain?

Put yourself in your competitors’ shoes and stop thinking about it from a search marketing perspective: if your competitor wouldn’t really care to receive a link from this website, then your business shouldn’t be worried about it either.

How easy will it be to acquire the link?

Other than dMoz, I’m not sure there’s a truly difficult link directory to get your website into. Hence why search engines began looking at directory links in mass quantity as a possible spam warning. Getting a link from the New York Times is difficult, but it would also be an excellent opportunity for a business to pursue. Links that are naturally difficult to acquire are difficult for a reason: they’d be incredibly ideal.

How likely is it that traffic from this link will result in revenue?

Now we’re drilling down to what really matters. At the end of the day, search marketing is about increasing your business’ revenue. Acquiring a link shouldn’t be about getting to the number one position in Google — which is barely even measurable in 2013. As an SEO, your goal should not be to increase traffic to a certain number per month or stabilize a website’s ranking in the top three for over 100 keywords. The goal is to grow the business through relevant traffic, sales leads, and revenue.

Would the link acquisition “win” be short-term or long-term?

A link that provides short-term value is far less superior than one that provides long-term value. Let me explain: a humorous, viral piece of content that comes and goes as fast as twerking did will drive a large amount of traffic to your website, but how likely are those visitors to become customers? On the other hand, creating an informative tutorial video that details and explains intricate problems within your industry and how to solve them is an evergreen piece of content that people will come back to again, again, and again. That content also establishes your brand as an authority, and will almost certainly attract business based on people seeing your video, understanding their unique problem, but not having the capacity to be able to solve the issue by themselves. That’s good business.

Will acquiring this link help me grow my business?

This. Ask yourself this question before you start any link building effort.

From Selling to Storytelling: 10 Useful Content Marketing Quotes

 

Successful content marketing starts with good storytelling. Consumers may have grown more savvy at ignoring advertising, but audiences will always crave stories. Brands should think of themselves as publishers, and think of consumers as audiences.

The following quotes from storytellers and marketers (and both) discuss that shift and why it’s important:

  1. “The greatest story commandment is: Make me care.” – Andrew Stanton
  2. “One of the key qualities of all stories is that they are made to be shared.” — Marco Tempest
  3. “Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life.” — Avinash Kaushik, Google
  4. “Create content that reaches your audience’s audience.” — Ann Handley
  5. “Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” – Andrew Davis
  6. “Consumers [decide] to buy or not to buy [based on] the content of your advertising, not its form.”— David Ogilvy
  7. “I realized the importance of having a story today is what really separates companies. People don’t just wear our shoes, they tell our story.” — Blake Mycoskie, CEO, Tom’s Shoes
  8. “The technology will change, but the primary tenets of content marketing will not. Technology doesn’t change human nature, although it may amplify it. People have problems and desires. They want information that helps them with those problems and desires. That will never change.” — Brian Clark
  9. “As marketers, we should be changing the mantra from ‘always be closing’ to ‘always be helping.’”– Jonathan Lister
  10. “Just. Be. Useful.” – Jay Baer