SEO vs Paid Search Advertising

SEO vs PPC

Search engine marketing (SEM) is an umbrella term encompassing both SEO and paid search advertising. However, it is common to see people only interested in either SEO or paid search.

Historically, research has shown that organic search engine results receive many more clicks than paid results. More recent research however shows that paid search results are starting to receive more clicks (though still does not receive the majority clicks).

So which is a better investment for your website’s SEM campaign, SEO or paid search?

Quick Recap – What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of enhancing your website’s visibility in organic search results. The organic search results are those which appear beneath paid results. More information on SEO can be found here.

Benefits of SEO

One of the largest advantages of SEO is the sheer number of people you can reach. In 2016, it was reported that Google processes roughly 2 trillion searches on average each year. Since this 2016 figure represented a roughly 66% increase from 2012, it can be reasonably assumed that Google processes much more than the 2 trillion annual searches reported on two years ago.

Since organic search result listings are responsible for over 50% of general website traffic, there’s a massive opportunity to reach a lot of people through SEO.

Challenges of SEO

SEO does not come without its downfalls. The primary detriment of SEO is its difficulty.

Over 90% of the users generating those trillions of Google searches annually do not look past Google’s first page. If your website doesn’t rank on page 1, you are missing out on the vast majority of search engine traffic.

Outranking competing websites currently listed in Google’s first page of organic results requires creating better content than your competitors, earning better quality links than your competitors, and optimizing your website’s technical performance.

And even if you are putting in the hard work of consistently adding high value content to your website while consistently building high quality links, it can still take 6 months or longer to earn a precious page-1 ranking.

And if you let your foot off the accelerator after earning your desired organic rank, you risk losing to your competitors and getting knocked off of page 1 again.

SEO is like retirement savings. Only after you make consistent investments over a long period of time do you see results.

Quick Recap – What is Paid Search Advertising?

Paid search advertising is leveraging the paid search results which appear at the top of a Google search result page. The amount of money you spend on this type of SEM directly impacts when and where your website appears in paid search results.

Benefits of Paid Search Advertising

Whereas SEO results can take a lot of time and work to start seeing results, you can get your website to appear on Google’s first page in a much shorter amount of time.

Since paid search advertising is much more pay to play, you don’t need to consistently build several quality links and website content (though SEO keyword optimization can improve your quality scores) to achieve page 1 positions.  

Additionally, through Google Ads, you have much more control over who sees your website in paid search listings. You can use demographics, website visit activity, specific keyword queries, and much more to define the types of people you want seeing your paid search listing.

Challenges of Paid Search Advertising

Paid search results don’t receive as many clicks as organic results (as noted earlier though, paid search clicks have been trending upward). So while you may be able to earn more qualified traffic by refining the audience seeing your paid search listing, the quantity will be lower relative to SEO.

Also, where SEO’s difficulty comes in the form of content creation and link building, finding the right demographic to target for your paid search campaign can be difficult and require trial and error. It may take several months of testing and filtering to find the most fruitful audience to target.

There’s also the fact that paid search requires you to spend money. You don’t need to spend any money to get your website to appear in Google’s organic search results, but your website will never appear in paid search results without spending money. Being truly competitive in paid search can sometimes require a significant investment each month.

Which is Best – SEO or Paid Search?

While some industries and websites may be a better fit for either SEO or PPC, both of these channels should be used to drive the best results. Maximizing an SEM campaign’s performance requires the proper usage of both SEO and paid search.

Even though most search engine users click on organic results more often than paid results, a significant number of people still click on paid results. You can capture much more search engine traffic with both SEO and paid search.

SEO and paid search are two crucial pieces of search engine marketing. Ignoring one of these can lead to a missed opportunity to generate website leads.

Most Important Metrics in Google Analytics

Important Google Analytics Metrics

Google Analytics is one of, if not the most, important tools for measuring website analytics. Whether you work in search engine marketing or email advertising, whether you own a company website or a blog, Google Analytics is crucial to understanding the quantity and quality of your web traffic.

What is Google Analytics? How Does it Work?

Google Analytics is a reporting platform offered by Google. It tracks the number of visitors your website receives, how many contact forms get filled out on your website, how long on average people stay on your website, etc… all in real time.

You install code on your website which allows Google Analytics to start tracking metrics. Once installed, you can access all current and historical data.

The platform tracks a plethora of metrics. The vast amount of data available in Google Analytics can come off as overwhelming, but knowing how to navigate the tool can lead to actionable insights on how to improve your website.

Traffic Metrics

Google Analytics allows you to view the number of visitors your website receives each day.

Did you notice a loss in traffic the same day you made an update to your website? Or, did you receive a traffic surge after your brand was mentioned in an industry blog? Analyzing your traffic trends can reveal valuable insights.

Importance of Google Analytics

Traffic by Medium & Source

You should also pay attention to your traffic medium, that being, where your visitors came from. There are four general categories for traffic mediums:

  • Direct: Sometimes referred to as “(none),” these are the visitors that enter your website’s URL directly into their browser.
  • Organic: These are visitors that come to your site by clicking on your links in the organic search listing of search engine results pages like Google and Bing.
  • CPC: These visitors come to your site by clicking on a paid advertisement in a search engine results page. If you have no paid advertisements running, you won’t see any traffic come from this medium.
  • Referral: These visitors come to your website by clicking on a link from another website. Let’s say and industry blog publishes an article about your company with a link to your website and someone clicks on that link – this would be counted as a referral visit.

Are you noticing that you are losing website traffic in one medium but gaining in another? Does one medium comprise the vast majority of your website traffic?

You can find deeper level insights by analyzing traffic sources as well.

Where traffic mediums will combine all referral traffic into one category, organic traffic into another, etc… traffic sources break out the specific source visitors use to access your website.

Is most of your referral traffic coming from social media sites or business directory listings? Are you seeing a lot of organic traffic coming from Google but hardly anything from Bing? Evaluating your traffic sources and mediums can uncover these types of insights.

Traffic by Device

Google Analytics also breaks out traffic by device, browser, and operating system.

Do you notice that your website traffic is almost all desktop users while hardly any visitors use a mobile device? This could be an insight that your website is not mobile friendly.

Has your website lost a lot of traffic from Google Chrome visitors? Perhaps you need to purchase and install an SSL certificate to comply with the latest Chrome update marking HTTP websites as “Not Secure.”

Engagement Metrics

Engagement metrics measure if/how people use and navigate your website and, generally speaking, the quality of your web traffic. Some of the most important engagement metrics in Google Analytics include:

  • Bounce Rate: This measures the percentage of users that visited one page of your website and left without interacting further (clicking any links, submitting contact forms, visiting other pages, etc…).
  • Average Session Duration: This measures the average amount of time users spend on your website. The longer the session duration, the more interactions you can expect your traffic to be making with your website.
  • Pages Per Session: This measures how many pages, on average, your users click through to during each visit.

 

Are you seeing high bounce rates on specific pages of your website? Or a low average session duration from organic visitors? These types of insights could inform a poor user experience, or specific pages that can be enhanced.

Engagement metrics also give insight into how qualified your visitors are. If your website has low engagement, perhaps you need to re-think the market you are trying to reach.

Google Analytics and Digital Marketing

Conversion Metrics

Conversions are typically considered the most important metric for businesses.

Google Analytics allows users to set ‘goals,’ which are typically set to contact forms, phone calls, any particular web pages you want users to visit, and more.

When analyzing conversion metrics, you can view how many goal completions took place on a specific page, goal completions by traffic medium & source, goal completions by date, and more to attain deeper level insights.

Analyzing the trends behind your website’s goal completions are crucial for understanding how well your site is generating leads. Digging in to this data can highlight actions you can take to convert more of your web traffic into sales leads.

For example, if you run an Ecommerce website and no goal completions are taking place on one of your product pages, perhaps the order form on that page has not been coded correctly. If none of your paid advertising traffic is converting, maybe you need to adjust your audience targeting.

Google Analytics and Digital Marketing

The subjects we’ve covered here only scratch the surface on Google Analytics’ depth. With so much data available on your web traffic and overall site performance, this platform is a requirement for any digital marketing campaign to be effective.

Of course, the tool is usually seen as complicated and overwhelming. Experienced professionals are best when it comes to interpreting and reacting to the data from Google Analytics. Contact us to learn how we can turn your Google Analytics metrics into actionable insights to enhance your website’s inbound lead generation.

Google My Business Tips for SEO

Google My Business SEO Tips

Google My Business is an important tool to utilize for SEO. While a well-optimized listing can drive SEO results for local businesses in particular, national and global companies can also see keyword ranking gains and website traffic increases with Google My Business. It’s an SEO best practice for all businesses to ensure your listing is optimized and up to date.

What is Google My Business

When you search for a business name in Google, you may see some information about the company appear in the right margin of the screen (or, Knowledge Panel). Here’s an example of what you find when searching “SoMe Connect

This screenshot is what our Google My Business profile looks like. As you can see, it contains company information such as:

  • Company name
  • Type of business (Internet marketing service)
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Photos
  • Reviews

Google My Business is a free tool which allows you to manage your company’s appearance across Google, including Google Maps and Google’s search engine results.

SEO Benefits of Using Google My Business

As mentioned previously, Google My Business can make a large impact on a local SEO campaign. The “Local Pack” found in Google’s organic results when searching for locally-focused keywords populates with companies that have Google My Business profiles.

For example, when searching for “Social Media Agency in Chicago,” here the local pack results are as follows:

Often times, the local pack will appear before the organic search results, giving you an opportunity to appear further up in search engine results.

Beyond local pack rankings, publishing and maintaining a Google My Business page sends additional signals to Google between your company and its location. This can enhance the keyword association Google’s bots make between your company and a geographic region, which can move your website further up in organic search results for relevant and locally-focused search queries.  

There are additional benefits of using a Google My Business page that aren’t directly tied to SEO. For example, the platform reports on analytics pertaining to your listing (customer actions, search queries, photo views, etc…), allows you to respond to user reviews, publish new photos, and more.

Overall, using Google My Business has important SEO benefits as well as reporting insights, customer engagement functionalities, and much more.

How Does Google My Business Work?

The first step to using Google My Business is setting up and/or claiming a profile for your business. You can do this by visiting https://business.google.com/ and searching for your business.

Your business may already exist in the system, in which case you will need to “claim” it. Otherwise, you will add your listing as a new company.

You will be prompted to enter your company’s information through the next several steps, such as address, business category, website, and more.

After all of this information has been entered, you will need to “verify” your business. The verification process includes Google sending a postcard to your business address. This postcard will contain a code that you will need to verify your business.

Google essentially wants to be sure that a legitimate company is being added to Google My Business, and receiving mail to a physical address is an effective way to weed out fake or spammy business submissions.

Sometimes Google will make an exception and allow you to verify your business by phone. This offer is typically extended to businesses with several locations/franchises. Call a Google My Business representative to see if this option is available to you.

What if Someone Else has Claimed my Business?

If your company already has a Google My Business profile, you will need to clear an extra hurdle before you can start managing your listing. The current owner of your listing will need to grant you access. A request for access can be sent through Google My Business.

If the current owner denies your request, you may have the option to appeal the denial. If the current owner is unresponsive for a week or more, you may have the option to simply claim the business listing without approval from the current owner.

More information on requesting ownership of a business that has already been claimed can be found here.

How to Optimize your Google My Business Listing

Accurate & complete profile: This may seem like a no-brainer, but be sure to provide as much information about your business as possible. You want to leave as few fields blank as possible to increase the perceived legitimacy of your profile not only to Google, but also to users.

In the same vein, ensuring your listing information is accurate and consistent is crucial. You may have heard of the importance of “NAP consistency” before, and the same logic applies to Google My Business.

If your website lists a different address than your Google listing, one of the two needs to be updated for consistency. The same goes with your phone number and business name appearance (don’t list yourself as “Example Company Inc.” your website displays “Example Company” on your website).

Business Categories: Once your profile is set up, you can enter a “Primary Business Category,” and “Additional Categories.”

While it is important to ensure the primary category most accurately describes your business, supplementing it with related additional categories should never be overlooked.

Your primary and additional categories send signals to the Google bots on the types of keywords to associate with your company. In the screenshot above, we use these categories to tell Google “Not only are we an internet marketing services company, we’re also a marketing and consulting agency.” Capitalize on your keyword ranking opportunities with business category listings.

Reviews: Reviews are the most valuable functions offered by Google My Business. As seen in this study from 2017, reviews play a significant role in determining where you rank in Google’s local pack. The more positive and diverse your reviews, the better you can expect your local pack positions to be.

You should try to acquire as many positive Google reviews as possible. Reach out to past and current clients/partners and ask for reviews. Also be sure to respond to negative reviews in a professional manner – this will enhance your company’s credibility with both Google and users.

Posts: Google Posts is a more recent addition to Google My Business having launched in the summer of 2017. This function allows you to highlight promotional offers, events, specific products, and more.

With functions like featured snippets, answer boxes, knowledge panels, etc… receiving more engagement, users may be less inclined to click through to websites when Google offers so much information within their search results pages. Google posts enhances your ability to expose users to important information without visiting your website.

Google My Business and SEO

Optimizing and maintaining a Google My Business profile is an SEO best practice. The local pack and organic ranking benefits are well worth the time investment, and the additional customer engagement functionalities and analytics data further sweeten the deal.

A complete local SEO campaign involves much more than Google My Business. Contact us to learn how we can help your local rankings.

How to Write a Title Tag for SEO

SEO Title Tags

What is a Title Tag

A title tag is the text which appears at the top of a web page’s Google listing, and also in a browser tab. The title tag for SoMe Connect’s home page can be seen in the screenshots below:

 

 

Title tags are denoted with HTML code which, on the SoMe Connect website, looks like this:

<title>Social Media Agency | Chicago Digital Marketing Agency</title>

Title tags had a maximum length of 55-60 characters before becoming truncated with an ellipsis in Google’s search results. In 2016 however, this character limit was increased to 70 characters.

The Importance of Title Tags

When thinking about the importance of title tags, there are two primary factors to consider: search engine bots and humans.

For search engine bots, title tags are used as a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. In other words, title tags influence the keywords Google bots associate with your website. If your title tags aren’t optimized for search engine bots, you could be missing out on an opportunity to improve your keyword rankings.

For humans, title tags are essentially a headline. They play a major role in enticing people to click through to your website when seeing your listing in Google’s search results. If your title tags aren’t written in a way where they entice people to click on your links, you could be missing out on an opportunity to bring more traffic to your website.

How to Maximize the SEO Value of your Title Tags

 

Use Your Keyword(s)

Since Google’s bots use title tags as a signal for which keywords to associate with your website, use your web page’s target keyword(s) in your title tag. However, you should exercise caution in over-using keywords in your title tags.

You don’t want to “keyword stuff” your title tags such that they don’t make sense. This somewhat speaks to a larger issue – when thinking about a keyword targeting strategy from a more general perspective, you should limit the types of keywords you optimize each page for.

For example, if you have a home improvement company, and you have one service page covering all of your offerings – window installation, exterior renovations, bathroom remodeling, etc… – you will end up diluting your keyword focus such that your one large service page will be unlikely to rank for any keywords.

Instead, if you were to publish individual pages tailored to each of your unique service offerings, each of those pages will have a clear keyword focus with a better chance of ranking for their designated keyword(s).

Sometimes it makes sense to target multiple keywords per page, but only if they are closely related. The keywords, “Internet Marketing Company,” and “Digital Advertising Agency” are good examples of keywords that are so closely related, it makes sense to target both on the same page.

Coming back to title tags, if you want to use more than one keyword in a title tag, be sure they are closely related.

How to Write Title Tags

Stay Within the Character Limit

As mentioned previously, the character limit for title tags has been increased to 70 characters. If your title tags are too long, they will be truncated in Google’s search results with an ellipsis. You could be missing an opportunity for users to read a full title tag which would compel them to click on your links.

On the other hand, utilize as much as space as you can in your title tags. A short title tag could be a missed opportunity to give users a reason to click on your links.

Write a Compelling Title Tag

Sometimes, writing a title tag that only includes your keywords can result in boring, bland copy. When thinking about writing title tags for humans, you should approach a title tag the same way media organizations approach an article headline.

Your targeted keywords do not need to appear verbatim in a title tag. Using keywords naturally in a title tag as part of a compelling headline is the best way to optimize for both search engine bots and humans.

Using this blog, let’s look at an example of a good and bad title tag using the keyword phrase, “Title Tag Best Practices.”

Example of a bad title tag:

Title Tag Best Practices | SoMe Connect

This title tag is 39 characters long, which leaves us 31 extra characters to use. Our keyword appears in this title tag, which is good.

We also have a pipe separating our keyword and brand, which is also good. Google bots view pipes and dashes as “keyword separators.” Essentially, we’re telling Google that “Title Tag Best Practices,” and, “SoMe Connect” are to be viewed as two separate keywords by using the pipe in this way.

It’s also good that we have our keyword appearing as the first phrase in this title tag. Google’s bots place a heavier weight on the first text they read, so we’re sending a strong signal to the bots with this title tag.

However, few people are likely to find this headline very interesting. And since the Google bots take user engagement into consideration, keyword rankings could be withheld from us if few people click on our link – even though we’re optimizing for the Google bots here.

Title Tag Best Practices

Example of a better title tag:

Maximize the Performance of Your Title Tags with These Best Practices

This title tag is 69 characters long, utilizing almost all of the space we can use.

Our target keyword does not appear verbatim in this title tag, but that’s okay. Google’s algorithm is sophisticated enough to pick up on “Title Tag Best Practices,” in this string of text.

The keyword appears toward the end of the title tag, which could result in the bots giving less weight to the keyword. Not ideal, but acceptable in this case since we’re really writing this title tag with the intention of being an interesting and compelling headline.

As a general rule of thumb, if you ever run into an SEO issue where you can either optimize for the search engine bots or humans, always optimize for humans. Search engine bots are always being refined to behave more like humans, and they currently place a heavy weight on your website’s level of engagement as a ranking factor.

Why is Google Not Using my Title Tag?

One final note – a title tag is a suggestion of what to display in for your web page in search engine results. We are at the mercy of Google’s AI at the end of the day, and that AI may choose to use a different title tag.

Sometimes it’s merely a matter of the time it takes for your website’s listing in Google to reflect an update you made to your title tag, but other times, Google will simply choose to display a different title tag based on a search query.

Using the same screenshot as the earlier, here’s what SoMe Connect’s title tag looks like when you search “Digital Marketing Agency,”


Here’s what SoMe Connect’s title tag looks like when you search for “SoMe Connect,”


In this instance, the Google bots think this title tag is more relevant to the search query and display their results accordingly.

SEO Benefits of a Company Blog

Benefits of a Company Blog

It should be no secret that content is among the top three ranking factors Google uses to determine organic search rankings. The more content you have, and the higher the quality of that content, the more keywords your website will rank for, giving you more visibility in organic search.

Working at a digital marketing agency, a content strategy is usually always something we recommend to our clients. The content we recommend can come in many forms, including:

– Product and/or service pages
– Blog content
– Long-form white papers
– Guides and resource articles
– Video and imagery

The content you find on a product/service page is typically tailored toward keywords with “conversion intent,” that being, a keyword with a greater chance of leading to a conversion.

After all, someone typing in the exact product/service into Google (for example, “SEO Services,” or, “Sony 4K TV”) is more likely to be further along in the sales funnel as opposed to someone searching “Benefits of SEO,” or, “4K TV Picture Quality Vs 1080p.”

Contrast that with the content you may find in a blog or article – they tend to be more educational/resourceful in nature. These types of content pieces tend to be tailored toward keywords with “research intent.” Someone searching a keyword with research intent (“Benefits of SEO” for example) is likely to be closer to the top of the sales funnel compared to someone searching a keyword with conversion intent.

Does Blogging Help with SEO

Does Blogging Help with SEO?

A common question we receive from our clients as it pertains to content and SEO is:

I don’t care about ranking for anything other than conversion intent keywords, how does ranking for research intent keywords help me?

This is a great question! If I want the SoMe Connect website to rank for “Digital Marketing Agency,” why would I spend time publishing articles on “How to Research Keywords for SEO,” “CPG Industry Trends,” and, “Voice Recognition and Advertising?”

These articles may help my website rank for “How to do Keyword Research,” “CPG Trends,” and “Voice Technology in Advertising,” but how do these help me improve my ranking for “Digital Marketing Agency?”

The truth is: Publishing these types of content helps your website rank for conversion intent keywords. In fact, publishing educational/resource content is sometimes the most effective tactic to help your website enhance its conversion intent keyword rankings.

Why? Because Google only gives high rankings to the most authoritative websites. That’s their whole business model – they pride themselves on their search engine’s ability to provide the best results from the most authoritative websites.

How do you build website authority? By proving that you are a thought-leader in your industry. The more insightful content you publish showing that you are an industry thought-leader, the stronger ALL of your keyword rankings will be, even if your thought-leadership content mainly leverages research intent keywords.

Website SEO Authority

Let’s run a thought exercise – you have two home improvement companies whose websites are competing for the same keywords – “Basement Remodeling,” “Kitchen Renovations,” “Bathroom Renovations,” and “Home Additions.”

Let’s say both of these websites have published a service page tailored to each of these individual keywords. The quality of the service pages from each of these competing websites are equal. Both websites are also equal in user friendliness, aesthetics, functionality, etc…

The only difference between these websites is that one has a blog that is frequently updated with insights on news and trends in the home improvement industry, while the other does not.

In this case, Google would find that the website with an active blog has proven that they are more of an industry thought leader than the website with no blog content – it has more authority.

So even though these websites offer the same quality of service pages, the more authoritative website will always beat their competitor for conversion intent keywords, and they do it with thought leadership content leveraging research intent keywords.

SEO Benefits of Blogging

Resource Content and Backlinks

The primary SEO benefits of an active blog/thought leadership content strategy we’ve discussed thus far include:

– Increasing the total number of keywords your website ranks for overall.
– Improving the positions of your website’s keyword rankings for both conversion and non-conversion intent keywords.

Another SEO benefit that should not be overlooked is enhanced linkability. The number and quality of backlinks your website has is right up there with content in terms of important ranking factors.

When your website offers resourceful/educational content, you have a greater opportunity to earn more backlinks.

Why? If you reach out to an industry-related website and ask for a backlink, you can pitch your own content as follows:

I have a collection of articles on my website highly related to your space, and I think your readers would get a lot of value if my blog were to be listed as an additional resource on your website.

Of course, the framing of this pitch varies with the type of website you are pitching to and the type of content you are pitching, but a website with no resourceful/educational content has no value proposition to offer.

Website owners will not give you a backlink unless they are convinced that a backlink to your website is in their best interest. If your website doesn’t have content that can supplement and/or enhance other websites, you are much less likely to earn backlinks.

Blogging is Great for SEO!

Not only do “How To,” “Insights,” “Benefits Of,” etc… articles and guides help with resource intent keyword rankings highly relevant to these content topics, they help enhance your keyword rankings for all other pages on your website. This includes the conversion intent keywords your product and/or service pages are likely tailored toward.

It may not seem intuitive, but an article on “Bathroom Remodeling Trends,” helps your website’s bathroom remodeling service page rank better for “Bathroom Remodeling Services,” and “Bathroom Remodeling Contractors.”

Of course, this isn’t as simple as publishing one article. A robust ongoing content marketing strategy is necessary to see meaningful results on your website. Get in touch with SoMe Connect to learn more.