Thursday, April 24, 2014

Don't Lose Sales: Optimize Your Website for Mobile Search Now!

Mobile search is big, and it's only getting bigger. Just take a look at the numbers. As WebProNews recently reported, "Google is said to pay over a billion a year to Apple" to be the default search engine for the iPhone.

The same post reports that Yahoo is trying to convince Apple to change search allegiances. To procure this business, Yahoo and Apple might be talking a deal that far exceeds the billion now paid by Google. That's a lot of moolah, even for Yahoo. Yet Yahoo's efforts seem justified by the numbers, especially for the tech savvy. As Yahoo itself reports:

"Mobile tech shoppers are active searchers: Our data shows an 89% jump in mobile search queries related to tech and telecom on the Yahoo Bing network since last year."

As the major tech companies bet big on mobile search, the SEO world is scrambling to optimize sites for the new mobile experience. There's a lot of debate about the best way to optimize for the new mobile experience, but one thing is clear: the new search paradigm will effect sites large and small--from Yahoo to your local barber shop.

The implications for local businesses cannot be overstated. Yahoo's certainly thinking local in its bid to become the iPhone's new search engine go-to. Again, from WebProNews:

"Yahoo has also recently switched over to Yelp listings for its local search reviews, which could sit better with Apple than Yahoo’s previous offering...Local search is, of course, very important to the mobile experience."

Just think about the way you use your mobile as you go about your daily tasks. Almost like a second brain, right? Your mobile probably helps orient you with your day-to-day activities, and more mobile browsers are using search to discover products and services in the moment.

A simple example illustrates the point. A few weeks ago, I set out from a friend's apartment in Brooklyn in search of a spring jacket. Stepping onto 8th Avenue, I performed a Google search on my iPhone for "spring jacket." Among the top results, I visited two sites: one clearly optimized for mobile, Brooklyn Industries, and one one clearly not optimized for mobile, The Brooklyn Circus.

The difference between these two sites reveals a lot about mobile website optimization. We strongly suggest performing a mobile search--"spring jacket Brooklyn"--for both. Note the key differences between the two sites, and then ask yourself: is my site closer to Brooklyn Industries (optimized) or The Brooklyn Circus (not-optimized)?

Brooklyn Industries mobile interface is seamless, easy-to-read and easy-to-use, with large pictures of each item and helpful drop-down menus for sorting items by category.

The Brooklyn Circus mobile interface, on the other hand, is essentially the traditional site shrunken to mobile size. The pictures are small and the text is impossible to read without zooming in. Worse, when you zoom in, you lose focus of the rest of the site!

Needless to say, I performed my search for a spring jacket on Brooklyn Industries, and easily discovered exactly what I was looking for: a water-resistant rain coat. Within ten minutes, I was trying the jacket on at the local shop. I ended up buying the jacket--and another jacket for my wife.

My new spring jacket

This is SEO in action. Brooklyn Industries appeared at the top of my mobile search results, and because its interface was easy-to-use, I was easily "converted" into a customer. Enticed by one mobile site--and repelled by another--I purchased two spring jackets.

My experience might be unique, but as mobile search grows, it is clear that the sites that do not optimize for mobile will lose sales. Worse, this loss will not simply be regulated to my in-the-moment purchase. My opinion of the The Brooklyn Circus brand is now entirely defined by my poor mobile experience. In the future, when I search for clothes, on the road or at home, I will be much more likely to seek out Brooklyn Industries.

If you sell a high-quality product that deserves customers you also deserve a well-optimized mobile website. Do not let the changing search landscape compromise your sales. Now, more than ever, you need to astute wisdom of a professional search engine optimization professional. From now until May 30, our sponsor, Stepmans PC, is offering a free mobile website audit. Contact Stepmans PC today to learn how you can improve your website's mobile performance: 215-900-9398.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Value of a Specialist

If you need a haircut, you see a hair stylist. If you feel a pain in your chest, you see a doctor. But what if you need to embed EXIF in your website's images? What do you do?

We see specialists because we trust others to perform the work we cannot perform. An unfortunate truth about SEO, however, is that website owners rarely trust specialists to perform the crucial, yet often tedious, work of website optimization. And so, most website owners do not perform SEO at all, and their websites languish in the rankings. Or, worse, website owners pay amateurs to perform SEO, and the amateur actually harms the websites rankings.

We cite the examples of a stylist and doctor to prove a point. If you're like most people, you trust your beauty and health to professionals. So why not trust your website's rankings to a professional?

We cite EXIF to prove a point, too. The work of website optimization is often tedious, and the associated terminology can be downright arcane. In reality, EXIF is a relatively simple concept:

"...it’s the Metadata that contains image specific information like date taken, camera type, resolution and various other parameters...EXIF can be used to find useful information that may or may not be linked to the purpose the image was taken for. For instance an image could help a customer wanting to buy a camera with certain specifications, get an idea of the quality of pictures that the camera yields."

The world of an SEO specialist is replete with concepts like EXIF.

Robot.txt? SERPs? Website crawlers?

These are just a few of the more popular SEO terms. For the SEO specialist, of course, these terms are old hat. But for the layman they might seem positively mysterious.

Happily, if you're a website owner with a quality product, and you truly want your website to attract the traffic it deserves, you do not need to suffer the confusion of learning SEO. You trust your hair to a hair stylist and your health to a doctor, so why not trust your website's performance to a professional SEO specialist?

The Organic SEO Blog is sponsored by a top SEO specialist, Alex Stepman of Stepmans PC. If you're a website owner in need of SEO, we suggest calling Alex today.

If you're hesitant to try SEO, we suggest reading our series of articles for website owners:

Building a Website? Read This First!

Website Development: The Perfect Job for Spock!

Content, Content, Content: The Key to SEO

How to Convert Website Visitors into Customers

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Quality or Quantity: A Different View of SEO Marketing

In one sense, marketing is about the projection of images. The best marketing campaigns strike a balance between the quality and quantity of images. In this view of marketing, quality and quantity exist on a spectrum from efficiency to inefficiency, and at a certain point increasing the effectiveness of one decreases the effectiveness of the other.

For example, a spammer works on the principle of nearly 100% quantity. Blasting emails to millions, regardless of the recipient's preferences, spammers care little about the quality of their image. Instead, spammers play a numbers game, hoping for bare minimum conversions: 1% or less. Sounds inefficient? Well, it is, in a sense. Yet a 1% conversion for one million emails is still 10,000.

Would you like 10,000 customers?

Perhaps. But if you're goal is a sustainable business, of course, spam is not the answer.

Spam comes at a cost: when you spam, the quality of your brand image is degraded. You might attract 10,000 customers, but you positively repel 990,000 others. This is why we refer to spam as the lowest level of marketing, and why we believe is it entirely inefficient.

In the SEO world, spam is considered a Black Hat technique. As we've noted before, Black Hat SEO is a set of duplicitous practices exploited by a webmaster to manipulate search engines. In the past, Black Hat SEO allowed websites to achieve top placement without performing the hard work of organic SEO. Black Hat SEO is increasingly irrelevant, but practices like keyword stuffing, link schemes, and duplicate content continue to haunt browsers. If you've searched for a legitimate product and landed on a spammer's site, you've been victimized by Black Hat SEO.

So what is the opposite of spam?

On the other end of the quantity-quality spectrum is 100% quality. The saying quality trumps quantity is pretty much accepted as doctrine across the world. Yet focusing on quality to the exclusion of quantity can be inefficient, too.

For this example, imagine a single human being: a CEO or brand spokesperson. This sole person might have an enormous persuasive power. The quality of his/her image is 100%. Yet, this person, by the very nature of the quality of his/her image, is necessarily limited in the quantity of potential customers he/she can reach. His conversion might be 100%, but if he only speaks to 10,000 people in a given year, his result is the same as spam: 10,000.

Of course, this is a simplistic view of the difference between quantity and quality, yet we believe it offers a helpful way to look at the effectiveness of images.

Another way to look at this equation is by the presence of Internet ads. Rather then simply plastering ads across the Internet, most advertisers prefer to reduce the quantity of images and increase the quality by focusing on Internet-based advertising. With Internet-based ads you refine the audience yet increase your conversion.

Ideally, the best marketing campaign strikes the perfect balance between quality and quantity. So how do you discover this balance in your own marketing campaigns?

Organic SEO is about connecting customers to products or services. For organic SEO, the first step in striking a balanced marketing campaign is to understand your customer.

Understanding your product and service is crucial, but understanding who needs/wants your product or service is often more important. By understanding precisely who you want to market to, you will dramatically reduce the quantity of the people you might otherwise market to--disinterested people who are likely to ignore your marketing.

Once you understand your ideal customer, you can begin to create images uniquely suited to convert that customer. This is all about quality: creating the best vision of your product for your customer.

We're huge proponents of carefully crafted content. For one view of good content, read "Content, Content, Content: The Key to SEO."

So how do you know that you've gone too far on the road to quality--is this even possible?

In our view, you should strive for quality to the extent that it does not compromise your customer service. If you're spending too much time perfecting your image, you might sacrifice the time you'd otherwise spend attracting the business you need to thrive. Worse, you might sacrifice the time you'd otherwise spend dealing with your current customers.

Although some SEO specialists would have you believe it, the practice of organic SEO is not all about esoteric SEO techniques. In reality, the best SEO specialists are marketers at heart.

A carefully-crafted marketing strategy is essential for any website owner who wishes to increase online profits. Of course, a website can be marketed in many ways, with a variety of images, but in our view organic SEO is the most cost-effective approach.

Just remember: your business and your product is your talent. The tedious work of SEO is best left to a professional. Why? The success of an SEO campaign depends on complex search engine algorithms—and the search engines change their algorithms about 500-700 times a year. The work of understanding and utilizing these ever-evolving algorithms is time-consuming. A high-quality SEO company understands how to do this work without wasting time.