What An SEO Audit Of Your Website Should Be Assessing

Everything and everyone that needs to perform functions cannot do so over the long term without some checks on their well-being. Whether it be an aircraft having safety checks, or a sports star having a fitness check, the same principles apply. The same can also be said for an SEO campaign, because if it is not checked and audited to assess what, if any, results it is producing then it potentially is serving no purpose.

An SEO audit is not just about checking internal links and anchor text on your website, albeit we do not say that to diminish their importance. Instead, we are referring to the fact that there can be as many as two hundred or more individual elements that influence the ranking of your website which is why it is often an SEO agency that business owners will turn to when they need an SEO audit.

However, if you wish to carry out your SEO audit there are going to be some checks that are more important than others. You will also find it easier if you take each category of SEO and check them in turn. Here are three of the main categories of SEO that you simply must check during your website’s SEO audit.

Technical Audit

Many who are new to SEO make the erroneous assumption that SEO is only about what people can see, read, and click on. Whilst these are all essential for SEO, they are not the only influencers of ranking. Much of that influence happens behind the scenes and is never seen by any visitors, although how the website behaves for them might be affected.

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Top 7 Must-Have Digital Marketing Tools For Businesses

Top 7 Must-Have Digital Marketing Tools For Businesses

The internet has had a significant impact on how businesses operate even greater than the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries and it means that if a business wants to succeed today, then it must have a website or at least some form of online presence that allows them to market themselves.

Just as tasks in the offline world are made easier with the use of tools, the same applies online. There is a multitude of software and tools available to business owners and such is their quantity and diversity that it would take 1,000s of articles to explain each one of them, which we are not going to do here.

However, what we can do is point out 7 key areas of digital marketing that play a key role in a business’s online success, and highlight one of the top tools or software that assist in its implementation.

Social Media Management – Sprout Social

With the influence, social media has on so many people’s thoughts and decisions it is imperative that businesses have a presence on at least one social media platform where they know their audience is. To help manage their social media activities Sprout Social proves an array of tools allowing for post scheduling, responding to messages and analytics.

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5 Key Questions You Should Ask Before Selecting Your WordPress Website’s Theme

5 Key Questions You Should Ask Before Selecting Your WordPress Website's Theme

If the web design for your new or redesigned website is going to be based upon WordPress and its CMS, then there is no shortage of decisions that you need to make to turn your initial thoughts into a fully functioning website. Everything from the colour scheme, the number of pages,  which pages you are including, content creation, and integration with other applications, are but a few of them.

Near the top of that list of ponderables should also be which WordPress theme you are going to use for your new web design, however, that is not always an easy choice. We say that not because there are not any great themes available, but the exact opposite. Because there are so many excellent options, narrowing your theme choices down to one, is no easy task.

Ever willing to help our readers, we are going to try to make that task somewhat easier for you by providing you with 5 key questions that need to be answered as part of the process of selecting a WordPress theme for your website. Any theme where you are less than 100% convinced of the answer is a theme that may be best passed over. Here are those 5 questions:

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Social search from Google – what does it mean for search results

Social search from Google - what does it mean for search results

Google has recently announced a new social search feature which is launching on google.com initially, which allows for users to use a ‘+1’ button to show whether a search result or ad in Google was helpful. These search results will appear in your search results page with the ‘+1’s visible, clearly indicating to others that these are the most effective (or most liked) results and ads.

Linking these ‘+1’s to your network such as your Gmail contacts, will allow you to see whether anyone you know in your network has found the search result or ad useful. This might lead to improved quality of traffic to sites, and provide more insight into the effectiveness of adword campaigns on Google.

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Cyber Monday: Tarnish Your Brand, Slash Profit, & Kill Customer Loyalty, All in 24 Hours

Cyber Monday Tarnish Your Brand, Slash Profit, & Kill Customer Loyalty, All in 24 Hours

Ah, Cyber Monday is here: the peer pressure fuelled day when all retailers mutually agree to cut their profits and encourage their customer’s addiction to discounts and promotions.

I know that sounds a bit pessimistic, maybe even downright harsh, but hear me out.

There are really only 2 reasons why a retailer would offer Cyber Monday promotions: to gain new customers or reactivate old ones. Let’s talk about what deep discounting does in both situations:

Acquiring New Customers: Suppose a man offers a woman $1,000 to go on a date with him. She accepts. How much of a chance do you this couple has at a long term, quality relationship? Any business transaction based on bribery (and let’s be honest, that’s essentially what discounting is) only produces low-quality, low-affinity relationships. Customers acquired through steep discounting are far less likely to rebuy unless a similarly steep discount is offered again. If you’ve ever run a lifetime value calculation on these customers, you’ll undoubtedly find that it’s much lower than your typical customer LTV. (If you’ve never run this analysis on your customer database, please do yourself a favour and run it!) When discounting is the foundation of the relationship, future price increases are simply out of the question.

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5 Principles of Social Media Copywriting

5 Principles of Social Media Copywriting

Anytime a new medium comes along, we bring along the baggage of an old medium. Case in point, social media. When I peruse the Facebook pages of the world largest brands, I’m struck by how inappropriate the copywriting usually is. In many cases, it seems as if someone in the PR department received the unfortunate assignment of running the company Facebook.

More than any other channel, social media deserves its own unique set of copywriting principles. Below are what I consider to be the 5 most important guidelines when writing copy for social media. Most of these recommendations are geared towards Facebook, but they can be applied to other platforms as well.

1. Keep it Short & Shareable
Short copy always wins. Bite size content is significantly more likely to be consumed or shared, regardless of the platform. Here’s my strategy: First, write your status update using as few words as possible, but without losing its impact. When you’re finished, review the copy and eliminate another 20%. If you’re like me, you’ll find that you regularly use unnecessary filler words that can be easily eliminated. Better yet, get used to writing within Twitter’s 140 character limit, regardless of whether you’re using Twitter.

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3 Timeless Social Media Tips

3 Timeless Social Media Tips

There’s a part of me that hates change. I despise the fact that much of what I learned 3 years ago about social media is now irrelevant. Are there any principles from today that will still stand years from now, regardless of what the new hot network is? I’d like to suggest at least three.

1. Focus on the Feed, Not the Profile
This is a classic mistake I’ve witnessed on countless platforms. The brands that spend the most time pimping out their profile pages, whether on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, tend to have the worst engagement of all. I’m going out on a limb to predict that the new Facebook timeline and upcoming Twitter brand pages will not change this. Yes, milestones, and pinned posts, and cover photos are cool for branding, but if your content sucks, no one will ever see them. People will still primarily interact with your business through the newsfeed.

Your content is what makes fans care, not a pretty profile page. Content isn’t just king, he’s a ruthless dictator that jealously demands your allegiance.

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25 Killer eCommerce Link Building Tips

25 Killer eCommerce Link Building Tips

Of all websites, e-commerce stores have arguably the hardest time attracting links. The typical etailer’s site lacks substantitive content, and as a result draws few natural links. To make things worse, link requests are often ignored due to the purely commercial nature of an e-store. Link building for e-commerce takes extra patience and creativity. Below are 25 tips I’ve found helpful while building links for online retailers.

7 Tactics for Creating Link-Worthy Content
The reason etailers have such a hard time attracting links is that they make so little effort to create content worthy of them. If you have a blog, you understand this well. Your blog naturally receives links in response to posting valuable content. Bloggers rarely go around begging for webmasters to link to them. Links just come naturally. With this in mind, let me throw out some ideas for creating trully link-worthy ecommerce content.

#1 – Create a Coupon Code Page: This tip can be gold. People naturally share and link to deals, especially when they think they’ve found something exclusive. Consider creating a page that features all your current coupons and deals. (another benefit of this strategy is that customers will find this page higher on the search results when they search for [your brand]+coupon instead of unapproved coupons on deal-type sites.)

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10 Tips for Mastering Google Remarketing Ads

10 Tips for Mastering Google Remarketing Ads

Remarketing is a popular topic in the web marketing world lately. And it’s no wonder why. Who better to show ads to than your previous site visitors? Personally, I’ve found the ROI on remarketing ads to be incredible, second only to email marketing. If you haven’t yet tried it, what are you waiting for?

For those unfamiliar with Google remarketing, here’s how it works. A visitor lands on your website. Google’s ad network writes a cookie in that person’s browser, identifying them as having previously visited your website. When this same person is visiting another website in the ubiquitous Google display network, your ad appears, “remarketing” them back to your site. The power of this concept is self evident. It’s far more effective to show ads to people who’ve previously shown interest in your products, versus the person whose never heard of you.

With that background in mind, let’s look at some tips for mastering this powerful tool.

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4 Shocking Truths about your eCommerce Site

4 Shocking Truths about your eCommerce Site

#1 – Barely anyone sees your homepage
Far too many online businesses worship at the alter of the homepage. While certainly important, homepages today carry far less importance than in years past. When I review the analytics on most of the sites I work with, the vast majority of visitors never see the homepage. (When you have a moment, take a look at not only how many of your visitors never see the homepage, but also what percentage of overall pageviews your homepage represents, you’ll probably be shocked at how low it is.) This is due to a myriad of reasons, one of which is that people simply search for specific content, and Google does a pretty decent job of landing you on the specific page you’re looking for. There’s just no reason to pass through an overly generic destination like a homepage.

I believe one of the biggest sins in web design is promoting mission-critical products and promotions only on the homepage. I typically see sites where an email signup or free shipping promotion is highlighted only on the homepage. This is a tragedy, because there’s very little leverage in the homepage, compared with other, more frequently viewed pages. The time you spend redesigning and testing is much better spent on your product, category, or shopping cart pages.

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6 Secrets to Fantastic Facebook Ad Campaigns

6 Secrets to Fantastic Facebook Ad Campaigns

“Facebook ads don’t work!”

I’ve heard this over and over. And to be honest, this was my experience up to a few months ago. But then I really got serious about Facebook ads. Keep reading and I’ll share some of the secrets that have helped me obtain up to 600% ROI on some of my campaigns.

#1 – Ignore everything you know about Adwords:

For those of us who come from a search marketing background, ignore everything you know about traditional pay per click. With Adwords, it’s not uncommon to create an ad and leave it on autopilot for years, all while returning excellent results. Not so with Facebook. Once your target demographic has seen your ad over and over, the click through rate will fall, and your cost per click will rise, therefore destroying your ROI. To be successful with Facebook ads, be prepared for a successful ad to have a lifecycle of as little as one week. Then move on to the next big idea.

#2 – Stand out or Stand Down

It’s extremely critical that your ad image be striking. I’ve spoken with many companies whose first Facebook ad consist of nothing but their brand logo. For most business, this is a horrible strategy. In fact, my most successful ads completely ignore the company that’s advertising and instead focus intently on one particlar product that people are passionate about. Pay close attention to the Facebook ads on your own profile. Which ones grab your attention and why?

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Putting A/B Tests to the Test: 4 Pitfalls of Testing

Website testing can be one of the most fruitful website optimization tactics in your arsenal. But, it can also be a huge waste of time. Below are 4 pitfalls I’ve found myself in at one time or another.

1. Testing “Everything”

A common axiom in website optimization is to “test everything.” The problem with this advice is it ignores the reality we all find ourselves in, that we have limited time and resources. If you have the choice to test between testing your checkout process or a different coloured add-to-cart button, which do you think will legitimately provide long term value to your visitors?

Quite frankly, not everything is worth testing. Yes, you might inch out a slight improvement to your add-to-cart rate with a flashy new button, but how will that translate to profit and lifetime customer value? My advice is to skip the gimmicks and test stuff that matters.

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4 Reasons your Product Pages Don’t Convert

4 Reasons your Product Pages Don’t Convert

I believe online stores focus too much on technology, too much on traffic generation, and even too much on site conversion optimization, and forget that it’s still all about the product. Everything else is just a tool. Below I’ll share what I believe to be the 4 biggest mistakes made on the product pages of today’s online retailers.

1) Too much imagination is required

All too many product pages require their customer’s to have a good imagination. For example, product images convey the product alone with a white background. Not exactly awe-inspiring. Online shopping can be devoid of context when product images aren’t show in use. Lifestyle and contextual images help create mental ownership by giving specific examples of use.

Yes, it’s a lot of work to get this type of photography on your site. But as I recently shared my experience in lifestyle images, it can be earth-shatteringly effective.

Don’t require your customer to have a good imagination. Paint a picture for them. How will it look in context, in their hands, in use?

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The Ultimate Holiday Checklist for E-Commerce Success

The Ultimate Holiday Checklist for E-Commerce Success

I’m making the list, be sure to check it twice to ensure success for your e-commerce website this holiday season.

#1. Offer Bounce Back Discounts: Your site will be flooded with traffic this holiday season. How can you harness that traffic to create year long business? Consider offering a good discount incentive for customers to come back and shop in January. You can automatically email them a coupon after each order, or send one along with the package. Don’t forget to email and remind customers to come back and use their discounts.

#2. Loosen Up & Emphasize Your Return Policy: While a 30 day return policy is commonplace for the rest of the year, it may scare off early shoppers during the holidays. Make it clear to your visitors that you will accept returns and exchanges on all Christmas gift purchases. Be sure to let visitors know early and often about your policy, such as on product pages and the shopping cart.

#3. Review Past Failures & Successes: Try this as you plan your busy holiday season. Take a look at you and your competitor’s website’s through the lens of the Wayback machine. What worked and didn’t work last year? What can you improve upon?

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How to Build the Perfect Website

How to Build the Perfect Website

If you’re seeking perfection on your website, stop reading this. It doesn’t exist.

In fact the search for perfection might just be more detrimental to your website than anything else.

That homepage that your designer has been tweaking for weeks, stop fiddling and make it live. That eBook you’re still perfecting, launch it now. If you have doubts, test it.

In the web world we are lucky to have a friend: instant feedback. Feedback in the form of customers, analytics, surveys, etc. If you were developing a tangible product or print material, you don’t have this luxury. You have to get it right the first time. There is no excuse for a typo on the front of your catalogue or a defect on your product. But a website is a living, breathing, evolving creature. Problems can be fixed. Inefficiencies can be optimized.

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