SEO Marketing Blog for Small Business and for SMEs.
Keeping your small business or SME afloat is a tricky proposition. Lucky for you, SEO North Sydney is here to help keep the sharks at bay!
If you own, operate or market a business website, you're no doubt well aware of the fact that the conversion rate is a very important parameter governing how profitable your website actually is. Traffic is all well and good, but if nobody buys the widgets you're selling, or picks up the phone as a result of what they've read, then what's the point? You're running a business after all, not a lending library.
As I always say about my own business: I'd rather have 10 people come to my website and 9 sign up, than 10,000 people coming to my website and only 8 sign up!
What is the Conversion Rate for a Website?
In simple internet marketing terms, the conversion rate for a website is defined as the number of conversions per visitor reaching the site, shown as a percentage. Conversions can be any actions that you as the website owner consider to be beneficial. For instance for an eCommerce website, a sale can be treated as a conversion (obviously), while for an informational site offering email newsletter subscriptions, a visitor subscribing to the newsletter can be a conversion.
What is Conversion Rate Optimisation?
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is a method of increasing the percentage of visitors reaching a website who either buy something from the site or take some other action that is considered to be beneficial to the site owner. Just like Search Engine Optimisation may be thought of as part art and part science, so to with Conversion Rate Optimisation. Which, when done well, will significantly improve a website's turnover.
What are the Benefits of CRO?
While the benefits of CRO should be fairly obvious to any entrepreneur or small business owner, let me quantify them in more detail to help put things in the correct perspective.
Generally speaking, the cost of operating a website should remain more or less constant regardless of the conversion rate it achieves. So far as traffic is concerned, a website is likely to receive:
Traffic that is referred from another website can be free (someone links from their website to yours because they like your content) or it can come at a price (paid advertising on someone else's site that incorrectly comes into your Google analytics as referred traffic, even though it's technically paid traffic).
Traffic generated via paid advertising obviously costs money (because you're paying per click or impression) and getting organic search traffic in any volume requires an over-arching SEO strategy driving it (which naturally costs money too, as you need to hire a SEO Company to get the first page results you require).
So for this example, let's assume that a website selling products online spends $1,000 per month on paid advertising and $1,000 per month on SEO services. And let's further imagine (for easy math) that it averages about 1,000 unique visitors per day. Next, let us assume that the average transaction value for the website is $50. And finally, let's say that it has a conversion rate of 1% (i.e. one out of every 100 visitors buys from the site).
Given the above scenario, the site would average 10 sales per day. And with the average transaction value of $50, it would gross $500 per day or $15,000 per month in sales (on a 30 day month). Now let's see what would happen if the conversion rate of the site gets increased from 1% to 1.5%. When this happens the gross monthly income generated by the website would jump from $15,000 to $22,500 straight away, with the exact same operating cost of $2,000. So that's a $7,500 per month or a $90,000 per year increase in annual turnover - WITHOUT GETTING A SINGLE ADDITIONAL PERSON TO YOUR SITE PER MONTH.
How to Optimise Conversion Rates
As mentioned earlier, CRO is part art and part science, and there are many different ways in which it can be implemented and practiced. Unlike SEO (where the same general principles would largely work across different sites), the process of CRO depends more heavily upon factors like the nature of the site, the demographics of the target audience it caters to, what is the preferred action or the conversion measurement criteria for the site etc. However there are some CRO factors that can generally work across a broad spectrum of websites, with a reasonable assurance of positive, beneficial results. Some of these commonly applicable CRO factors are covered below:
Craft Your Copy to Convert
Persuasive and professional copywriting is a panacea for increasing your conversion optimisation, and has been tested and proven time and again to significantly increase conversions. If your website copy connects with your target audience and offers them a solution to their needs, more of them will convert.
Move Your Website to HTTPS
Although more and more internet users are growing comfortable using their credit card online, the security of such information still continues to remain a strong deterrent for a significant percentage of internet users when it comes to online shopping. Assuring website visitors that it is safe to buy via your website by converting it from HTTP to HTTTS is not only a ranking factor in Google, it is a great way of assuring your clients that any financial and personal information they provide via your website is 100% secure. Which has a positive impact on your website's conversion rates.
Put the Human Back in the Loop
No matter how trustworthy a site has been designed to be, there will still be a percentage of visitors (especially older visitors) who just won't put in their card or bank information online. People as the old saying goes, like buying from people. So put a human back in the loop by providing an option (like 'live chat' for example), as this is a great way to increase conversion rates. A live chat service on a site will often help walk people through to the checkout and thus boost the site's conversion rate.
Increase Your Website's Loading Speed
People are busy and easily distracted, and a slow loading website or web page is often the hidden factor that's killing your site's SEO. Google recommends that each page load in less than 2 seconds. So test your site's load speed, and if it isn't up to snuff, you can expect to lose people across your entire website. From the home page to the checkout the rule of thumb is: the longer the page takes to load, the less people remain on that page.
Redesign Your Website
If your website is outdated or difficult to navigate, or if the UX (User Experience) is frustrating because the visitor just can't find what they're looking for, then you need to bite the bullet and get yourself a new website designed. Because a professionally designed small business website does wonders to your conversion rates. Think of it like two sales guys walk into your store, and one is clean shaven and dressed in a $10,000 Tom Ford Suit, and one has a five o'clock shadow and wears ripped shorts and a sweaty singlet. Which do you think you're most likely to buy from?
As that time honoured old saying goes: 'You only get one chance to make a first impression'. What impression is YOUR website giving your brand?
The Ecommerce Bermuda Triangle
For an eCommerce website, the checkout page is the final step between success and failure, between a completed sale and a lost sale. It's into this 'Bermuda Triangle' that many a potential buyer goes...and is never seen or heard of again.
It has been proven time and again that if you provide visitors – or buyers – with too many ways to navigate away from the checkout page, a percentage of them will do exactly that – navigate away. Which results in lost sales. So keep the checkout page distraction free and help your customers remain 'on-point', will significantly boost conversions
Conversion Rate Optimisation - Hire a Professional and do it Right
These are but a few ways in which effective CRO can be implemented. As mentioned above, there exist scores of other CRO methods and techniques, each one of which can contribute towards an increase in a website's conversion rate to varying extents. A truly knowledgeable and competent web marketing / SEO professional can help you to increase your website's Conversion Rate Optimisation.
It's 5.30 am and I am awake. My eyelids heavy, my heart likewise. Beyond my window the rain is relentless, the sky an insipid grey, the light wan, the tone depressive. There is no wind today. Just the rain and the biting cold. Beyond my home, the trees bear witness to the endless clockwork of time that stretches out before them. Willow Bottlebrush and Banksia, Paperbark and Oak, they are all of them statues on a Caravaggio canvas of earth and bark.
Against this backdrop, a discordant child's voice - like a memory rising from the depths of my mind - murmours, 'Oranges and lemons says the bells of St. Clement's. You owe me five farthings, say the bells of St. Martin's. When will you pay me, say the bells of Old Bailey. When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch. When will that be, say the bells of Stepney. I do not know, says the great bell of Bow. Here comes a candle to light you to bed. And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!'
It's a young girl's voice, best I can make out, maybe 7 or 8; her lament at once shrill, breathy, harshly off-key. I drag myself out of bed and walk outside to the balcony to see where the voice is coming from, but find nothing save the trees and the rain. As I stand there, the macabre nursery rhyme grows fainter, as if the girl is moving away from me, retreating backwards in time. And I am suddenly reminded of an old Black & White horror film I saw growing up in the UK, many moons ago. The only detail of which I remember being that of a family - circa 1946 perhaps - pulling into the long curved driveway of a stately English country manor, the rain falling heavily about them. This is their new home, one presumes, and as they alight from their sleek black Austin 16, they are greeted by a servant of the house standing in the driveway who proffers an apologetic smile and a black umbrella. Together they move towards the expansive front door of the manor house, while the camera cranes up and away to reveal several ghostly children, all aged ten or under, sitting high in the branches of the trees; their tattered clothes centuries out of date, their mouths moving in unison to the tune of a long forgotten nursery rhyme.
The son and daughter of the new lord of the manor, both under ten themselves, hear the nursery rhyme and turn and stare behind them, their eyes wide, the hackles rising on the backs of their necks. But there is nothing to be seen, save the rain, and the trees that bear witness to the endless clockwork of time that stretches out before them.
"Here comes a candle to light you to bed. And here comes a chopper to chop off your head.''
Copyright 2016 - Brian M Logan
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Website Design Melbourne
SEO North Sydney are extremely happy to launch a new web design in Melbourne, Victoria, for shippingcontainersmelbourne.com.au, a local container company that specialises in the sales and hire of shipping containers across Victoria. A clean, measured design was the order of the day for this web build, blending the client's light blue logo with a lot of white space in order to offer visitors an effortless experience where website navigation and usability are prioritised above the more flashy websites favoured by some of their competitors.
SEO Copywriting Melbourne | SEO Melbourne
SEO North Sydney built the website, wrote all copy therein, and were hire to run the client's local Melbourne SEO campaign.
Web Design Brisbane
SEO North Sydney are proud to announce the launch of a new website in Brisbane for ShippingContainersBrisbane.com.au, a respected local Brisbane shipping container company! A slick and stylish design, utilising a dark colour pallet to emphasise their stylish branding, this new website delivers on both functionality and style.
SEO Copywriting Brisbane | SEO Brisbane
SEO North Sydney not only designed the site, but were hired to write every single word of copy on the site and run the client's on-going local Brisbane SEO campaign.
Keywords - More is Better, Right?
'Keywords'. Even seeing that written down evokes the art of search engine optimisation in your mind, doesn't it? Come on now, admit it. Despite the murmurings in the Force you've heard to the contrary; deep down you still think keywords are where the action’s at.
Oh sure you're nothing if not a diligent small business owner, so you've done some research on the subject of search engine optimisation. And yes, okay, you've heard about that thing called 'Panda'. You've read about that 'Hummingbird' algo-whatsit. And you're vaguely aware that a 'Penguin' is apparently one of the scariest animals in the Google zoo. But really, when it boils down to it, that's all just smoke and mirrors isn't it? A recherché selection of technobabble that is needlessly esoteric and deliberately designed to obfuscate the subject matter from nerdling neophytes. Right?
“Wrong, wrong, absolutely brimming over with wrongability.”
Arnold J. Rimmer, RED DWARF
Search Engine Optimisation – How to Make it a Fair Fight
If we were having this discussion in 1996 - or heck, even 2006 - I'd hold up my hands and agree with you that keywords are ubur important to ranking your website. In fact I’d likely buy you the first round at the pub, for bringing the subject up. But we're not in the mid-90s or the mid-naughties, we're in 2016. And in 2016 focusing your SEO strategy purely on keywords, is like using strong language to win a fight against a guy who’s carrying a M16A4 assault rifle whilst standing on the deck of the USS Iowa.
Not exactly a fair fight now is it?
The SEO Industry’s Biggest Grift
Naturally I don’t blame the small business owners who call SEO North Sydney for bringing up the subject of keywords. Because the vast majority of them have been (unbeknownst to them) on the receiving end of the SEO industry’s most popular scam: charging per keyword.
“This SEO package comes with 10 keywords!”, says the shady SEO sales guy. “And this SEO package comes with 25 keywords! So which package do you think is a better fit with your website’s needs?”
“Err…um…well,” mumbles the small business owner by way of reply. “I guess more keywords sound better?”
“Of course they do! More keywords means more phone calls. And more phone calls means more money for you, Mr. Small Business Owner!”
“Well then, um. Okay. Yeah, sure. That makes sense. I guess. So I’ll go for the SEO package with the more keywords then. Is that okay?”
“Of course it’s okay! It’s better than okay, actually. It’s perfect, because it’ll cost you twice the price…”
And so the scam goes. With yet another small business owner getting suckered by the well-oiled sales-patter of an online mountebank.
Keywords Drive Strategy – Not Results
Google search has evolved well beyond the primitive keyword stuffing strategies of yore. SEO types know this all too well. But they don’t want you to know it. Much better for them to up-sell you based on the ‘more must be better’ logic of search engine shenanigans.
Luckily for you though, that’s not the way SEO North Sydney operates. Because at SEO North Sydney, all clients, be they large or small, get UNLIMITED KEYWORDS. Because keywords are a component of the content of a particular page, not the other way around.
Think of it this way:
Imagine you have a page on your website with one headline, one picture and 50 words of text. Now insert 25 keywords into that page.
If you did this, it would naturally be B.A.D on so many levels. Human beings reading it would cringe, and click away (as it would be so obviously ‘written for Google’ as to put them off). And Google’s all important Panda algorithm would penalise the page due to the quality (or lack thereof) of the content therein.
However if you have a page on your website with one headline, one picture and 5,000 words of text, how would 25 keywords look on that page? Would they look ‘forced’ or ‘out of place’? Or rather would they just effortlessly blend into the pastiche of the narrative?
The Numbers Don’t Lie
Four out of every five calls SEO North Sydney receive are from small business owners who dwell on the subject of keywords because they’ve been ‘shaped’ by previous SEO companies to ask questions that the SEO companies know how to answer. But much like Pavlov’s dog continues to salivate, even though no food is on offer, so too SEO companies continue to sound the ‘Keywords’ bell, while offering little in the way of demonstrable returns on investment for the privilege.
Marketing a small business is a matter of common sense, it really is. But to paraphrase that famous Voltaire quote, ‘The trouble with common sense is that not many people have it’. This is perhaps never better demonstrated than when applied to how small business owners approach the Herculean task of promoting their business.
Being Good at What You do Doesn’t Mean You Know How to Market it
The issue at the crux of this matter is pretty straight forward: most business owners are NOT trained marketers. This isn’t a slight on small business owners. Far from it. We are all of us a hardy breed with entrepreneurial blood flowing through our veins. But most people who go into business for themselves, do so because they are experts at what they do. And therefore conclude (mistakenly) that their future business success is predicated on that particular skill-set. Maybe they’re a plumber, or someone who installs solar panels, or perhaps they’re an interior designer or an architect or a practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. Whatever their profession, how good they actually are at it, has little or nothing to do with knowing how to market that skill to the world.
A Small Business Owner Has to Be a Jack of All Trades
Small business owners, by necessity, have to be a jack of all trades. But as the old saying goes, to be a jack of all trades is to be a master of none. And when it comes to succeeding in business, you need to work out very early on, what you can successfully do yourself (to save money), and what you need to outsource. With the rule of thumb being:
“If it isn’t core business or within your own personal skill-set: outsource it to an expert.”
Where to Invest Your Advertising Dollars for Maximum Returns
There are lots of ways to spend your hard earned money when it comes to marketing and advertising. And the traditional ones are discussed here in this article on Print Advertising versus Online Advertising. But ultimately the best place to spend your money, is wherever you can get the maximum return for the minimum spend. And in 2016, the vast majority of people search online via the Google search engine.
Hiring an Online Marketing Expert is an Investment NOT an Expense
I mentioned at the start of this article that marketing a small business is a matter of common sense. Because if 99% of all people looking for what you do and where you do it, search on the internet (and they do). And the vast majority of those search using Google. Then it isn’t rocket science to work out where the bulk of your marketing dollars should go. Or why. But just having a website and being online doesn’t cut it. You can spend a fortune getting your small business website designed and online. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be found in Google search. Far from it in fact. The competition in every industry vertical (that’s worth being in), is fierce. And given that 92% of people don’t go past the first page of their Google search, how to get your small business website on page one of Google becomes the single most important marketing question you’ll ever have to answer.
A Little Knowledge Can be a Dangerous Thing
Of course even if you are fortunate enough to be trained in marketing (and thus understand the fundamentals of how marketing works across multiple channels), that doesn’t mean you are equipped to run your own SEO campaign. With over 200 ranking signals and over 10,000 sub-ranking signals powering Google search, and 500-600 algorithmic updates every year; understanding how Google search functions is a full time job (and then some!).
Having a marketing background is a real leg-up when it comes to growing a successful small business because you’ll innately ‘get’ what needs doing and why. But having a working knowledge of how (for an analogy) your BMW’s engine works is one thing. But would you really expect to be the one to service the engine before you drive you family across the Nullarbor in the dead of winter? Or do you think you’d be better served leaving your car in the hands of a trained mechanic?
Hiring a trained SEO professional is much the same thing.
Partner With a SEO Company You Can Trust
If getting on the first page of Google is a necessity for growing your small business in 2016 (and it is), then the only question small business owners need to ask themselves is: ‘Who can I trust to get my website on the first page?’.
And that’s where a company like SEO North Sydney comes in. With a SEO Consultant with 16 years’ experience at it's helm, SEO North Sydney have an unparalleled understanding of the constantly evolving search landscape, we are the perfect online partner to grow your small business or SME. At SEO North Sydney we don’t sweat the small stuff. We sweat the outcomes. And given we guarantee those outcomes in the contract, you can rest assured that your business growth is in good hands.
Press Releases for SEO and Brand Awareness
Writing a great press release can be worth its weight in gold. Indeed, in a world saturated with so called 'news', a brilliantly written and well-structured press release is essential to getting your brand message across to its intended audience.
A well written press release is a valid part of any on-line marketing strategy. It informs the industry vertical you're operating in (and the journalists that work in that space) that you have a new product or service on the market. Done well it should pique their interest and make them want to know more.
A great press release is also an excellent addition to your SEO strategy. As the more places that post your press release online, the more websites you'll have linking back to your own site (as you'll naturally have hyperlinked your brand within the body copy of your press release, to drive traffic back to your main website).
Journalists are Busy People so Help Them Help You
Journalists are exceptionally busy people, and are often overwhelmed with folks wanting their attention. Therefor having your press release professionally written is a must for three reasons:
However if you've got a brilliantly written press release, then journalists can (and often do) cut and paste VERBATIM from that press release, into a short news article for their website or blog. Why would they make up words to describe your product or service, when they can just use what's in front of them in your press release? So if you give them a compelling bit of copywriting, some punchy headlines and some snappy quotes, they are far more likely to choose to write an article about whatever your press release is talking about, than the other 500 press releases vying for their attention that day. Sure, what you're selling or promoting needs to be relevant to the journalist that's reading it. That's a given. But nothing gets a journalist onside more than a press release that MAKES THEIR JOB EASIER.
Get a Professional Press Release Written
SEO North Sydney is headed up by Brian M Logan, a man with over a decade and a half experience in getting companies on the first page of Google, and over twenty years' experience as a professional writer. A Marketing Graduate, and an AWARD and Masterclass copywriting graduate (Australia's leading advertising colleges), Brian is also a professional screenwriter and novelist repped out of Hollywood by William Morris Endeavor (one of the world's 'Big 4' agencies), and managed out of Hollywood by Circle of Confusion (who rep folks like the directors of the Matrix among many others). All of which means that when it comes to authoring brilliantly written press releases for your small business or SME, then you're in very good hands indeed.
Let's talk for a moment about gratitude. About how people sometimes do things for no reason beyond wanting to say, 'Thank you for a job well done'. As small business owners, gratitude is often the last thing on our minds. Overwhelmed as we are by our quotidian railing against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Taxes and wages and equipment costs and rent and insurance and accountants and bookkeepers and ever diminishing profit margins and, oh, did we mention taxes already? The enormity of the 'all hands to the pumps!' approach small business owners go through on a day to day basis makes thinking beyond the next task on our 'To Do List', nigh on impossible. This isn't a slight upon us as small business owners, or as human beings. It isn't that we don't care about other people. It's just that running a small business demands so much of our focus, so much of our time, that it's often hard to look beyond our own borders. Beyond what we need or what we want.
Consequently in business (and indeed in life), someone saying thank you for a job well done, is an all too rare occurrence. Just think about how many satisfied customers you've had down through the years with your small business. And then try to reconcile that with the tiny handful of positive reviews you've got on Google maps, or the minuscule amount of testimonials you've got from customers or clients on your website. Because I guarantee you the math will never come close to adding up.
In small business a customer says thank you by re-signing with you when the contract is up for renewal, or by returning to buy more products from you, etc. And maybe by recommending you to a friend, colleague or business associate. Beyond that, all bets are off.
But sometimes - just sometimes - the innate kindness of the human condition shines through when you least expect it. Today was such a day for me. It started when one of our clients, AutoActive Car Solutions, (a leading North Shore Mechanic) emailed me this wonderful testimonial out of the blue:
"Appointing Brian and Tony from SEO North Sydney to build our new website and do our SEO was one of the best business decisions we’ve ever made. Brian is creative, knowledgeable, focused and is fantastic to work with. His experience and expertise are unparalleled. We had no idea how SEO worked but Brian explained everything and made understanding the process particularly easy for us, and it has been a wonderful experience. Solid results were seen within a few short months, and now we have twice the Google first pages promised in the contract (with many at number 1). Thank you again Brian – we simply cannot thank you enough!"
- Leeman and Bruce – AutoActive Car Solutions
A Gift Basket!
As if receiving that wonderful and unexpected testimonial wasn't enough, we then received delivery of this amazing gift basket!
SEO Case Study
When Autoactive signed with SEO North Sydney several months ago, they needed a new website designed and built, they needed SEO for the new website, and they needed brilliantly written content to populate the new website. But more importantly they needed someone on the other end of the phone who not only understood what they go through each day as small business owners. But who actually gives a damn about whether their business grows or not. And that's where I like to think SEO North Sydney offers a real point of difference. We're a small business just like you. Our clients are small businesses and SMEs just like you. And so we understand - I mean really understand - what steps need to be taken in the digital domain to ensure your small business can compete on an equal footing with the big boys - WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK. Because when it comes to Google, the size of your business doesn't matter a hill of beans. What matters is the concerted ongoing execution of a comprehensive, tailored WHITE HAT SEO strategy, via Google Best Practice guidelines. Do that correctly (and ethically) and any company, no matter how modest it may be, can rank on the first page of Google.
So to Leeman and Bruce at Autoactive Car Solutions, let me go on record and say that it's our turn to say Thank YOU. Because your thoughtfulness and kindness totally made our day!
Brian M Logan is an on-line marketing, SEO and copywriting expert with over 15 years' experience in the web and over 20 years' experience with the written word.