There has been the suggestion made that under performing content should be deleted from a site. This may be hard to do if you have been posting often to your blog, so what strategy should you follow?
I have been working on a website audit for a blog that has been running for three years now. When I began that blog, I was writing for many different sites, and I wanted a home for all of my posts. I did not really want to always be posting on sites that were not my domain. I started pulling posts from other places, and I included articles from ebooks that I had written, but I had not posted on the web. I think that a few business owners may be in a similar position to what I faced: no organic traffic, and you need posts to help generate that traffic. We begin posting items to have something there. I knew one blogger who was writing about fifty posts a week. Each post was about three hundred words at most, and he did not really say anything significant with any particular post. He claimed he could be writing two hundred a week if he desired. There was a belief that quantity equated quality, but we know better.
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Is marketing on the internet any different from your other marketing? We do have to jump through a few different loops, but marketing remains the same, so what are you doing with your content?
There seems to be buzz around the concept of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), but I wonder why now. My point is: have we not always tried to convert potential clients into clients? Maybe we arebetter understanding the tools that will help us achieve this goal. I set up various goals for my website that I found to be pretty standardfor many sites. If someone is reading more than four pages, I know that they are engaged, and they could be a potential client (or they may be searching for a certain article with better information). If they stay on the site for more than thirty minutes, I may have a client (or did they walk away from the computer to deal with the children while leaving my site open). If they follow a certain path, ending up on the page to contact me for my services, they could become a client (or is that a competitor scoping out what I have done). As you can see, there may be a flip side to the metric that you are studying, but we have to discover how a user is moving through our site, and can we determine behavior that is indicative to a user becoming a client. I am speaking of a service site, but we could transfer the service request page for a checkout page. What we need to be sure of is our content working?
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Should you dump pages that are not performing? Maybe they should be rewritten? How do you choose?
I remember being told that you never know what twists and turns your business can take. You may find yourself with an opportunity that will completely change your job, but it can be more lucrative, so you have to develop the ability to notice these chances. We could view our websites through this perspective. We create content that we think is relevant to our clients or potential consumers. The problem is that they may not feel the need to know. We may place some content up on the site that is helpful to our clients, but these pages or posts have nothing to do with our core business. For example, let us say that I am a doctor, a heart specialist, and I have found that there is a certain type of amaranth grain when eaten on a regular basis is the perfect food for heart health. I write about this on my blog. Problem is that this grain is not readily available, so my readers contact me for this grain. I could refer them to my supplier, or I could set up a business to sell this grain. We all have this kind of content on our sites, and we may be presented with this opportunity.
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Many site owners are complaining of lost business through loss of traffic. Do you have a strategy in place for your web marketing when you have lost your rank? Maybe rethinking your content can help.
On each Monday, I study my analytics. I look at my analytics more often than that, but I do a more in depth analysis to guide my plans for the week on that day. Last Monday, I saw one of my sites drop significantly for keywords that I was targeting, while new sites popped up on my radar. By now everyone is aware that Google changed the method for how they obtain their search results, and you may see many sites upset about their loss of traffic. I had a different experience.Although my rank went way down, my traffic soared up. This is due to a strategy that I have maintained for a while, which I will describe below, but the real story may be a bit bigger: we cannot rely on a search engine to help our business grow, and I want to deal with that idea first.
When you first publish your first web page, you will not be finding massive traffic from a search engine right away. We have to work towards that goal. Most industries tracking consumer behavior will inform you of a survey that states that our clients are going on line first before buying a product. They do their research, and then they may go onto buy on line, but they may not. The take away for a small business is that we have to be on line. To be noticed on line, we have to be ranking well, so we become fixated on a set of keywords and our position on the list of results for that keyword. That is not a problem; the problem is that we do not look beyond that results page rank. The change in rankings last week in the Google search pages was done to improve the quality of the results for the end user; however, have you conducted a few searches lately? I am assaulted with more advertisements than results, and sometimes those ads do me no good. Furthermore, I am now being given results based upon my own social network, as well as results that are personalized to my own history. This leaves me wondering what is the significance of a ranking for a particular keyword. Many of us have a bad experience with a pay per click campaign, so we drop it. We also fail to understand where our potential clients may be lurking on the internet, so we miss opportunities. We are forgetting that marketing on the web is like any other marketing, we cannot put all of our eggs in one basket.
How did my traffic go up when my rankings went down? The answer is simple: quality content that is focused on providing the best information related to my business geared towards my local region. Let us forget about rules of how often you have to post- a good article will always bring in traffic. We should consider how to obtain local readers. I still see advocates stating that you need to discuss local events, no matter what the event is. For example, you are a plumber writing about the latest Spanish restaurant opening near your home on your blog. Hey the food was great, but what does it have to do with plumbing? A visitor coming to your blog will not return for plumbing advice; they will likely not return at all. If a new water feature opened at a park, like a new fountain, as a plumber I may write about this fountain, and I would mention how you could have a similar feature in your yard. If the event does not tie into your business, then you should not be in a rush to write about it. Many people conducting searches will want to know why something is happening to something they own in their area. Back to the plumber: why do my cold water pipes have hot water in them in Miami? (People do type in search queries like that one). The plumber could write a post about how the heat from the sun heats the ground and the attic, and this is where water pipe are located in certain houses. This Miami plumber may not have a top site for plumbing in that city, but he was discovered by the searcher who wanted to know what is effecting his water in that city. People looking for answers will type longer queries to their search input, and they often include location, since many people feel that location could play a part in their problem. Once your collection of articles dealing with specific concerns increases, and you have effectively placed references to your own community into the articles, you will find that locals will perceive your site as a resource. Hopefully, they will then use your service, but that gets into conversion optimization. I want to deal with the content that brings in traffic here.
Do not post just to be posting. I have heard rules that you should be posting once a day, four times a week, or three times a day. Nonsense. I will say that if you wish to build up an audience, you do have to post consistently. You cannot post five articles in one month, then go six months before posting another article (and the person who really did that is wondering why her site does not have more visitors). Consistency in marketing pays off. Of course, you want to go after that top position in Google for your keyword; I am not saying that you should stop trying on that front, but your site can still do well in bringing your message to your potential clients. My blog is my base. My print ads lead back to the site. I have a ppc campaign that drives traffic to that site. I advertise on different sites, which have users that could be good for my potential client base. I do email marketing, and I participate in social media. I do not try to spend too much effort on any one idea, because then I could be wasting an opportunity to gain clients. This is the easiest trap to fall into: focusing on the one big thing. For example, Twitter is big, so I need to work on building up a follower base, but really, are your clients on Twitter? The same could be said about Facebook.
Focus on quality. Quality content, or maybe I should say content that answers the query of a search, will continue to drive visitors to your site. I need to go back to the drawing board when it comes to the keywords that I want to hit. It is a shame that so much effort seems to be wasted. On the other hand, Google is sending more traffic to my site for many related topics, and that helps to build my brand. Think about it: did someone just hand you a Kleenex or a tissue paper? There are people who still hoover instead of vacuum. So maybe you are not the top result for plumbers in Miami, but you are the plumber everyone goes to have their questions answered, and when they cannot do the job, they call you.
Have you crowded out what the visitor needs to see with what you think will convince him on your site? What do you need on your site for a conversion?
For a couple of months, I have been taking apart websites from various small businesses to see if they work. Not how do they work. I wanted to improve one of my websites, but I also wanted to understand visitor behavior. Each week I take one site to analyze. I go through the site. I look at the links leading to the site. I try to discover if the business uses any social media to drive traffic to the site, or if social media is used to encourage use of the business. I realized that I had fallen into a trap. I was looking at what the site owners considered to be working, and I was not looking at what actually may be working.
The interesting aspect of my study has been that you can pick a field of business only to find that there will be the most basic of websites designed twelve years ago to sites that play with all of the current thinking. In some ways this does matter to finding an audience in the search results page. You could put up a simple flier of a website, and you may obtain traffic or a good result in a local listing. My point is that sometimes design choices like a static site or dynamic site do not make much of a difference. However, when you do have a visitor on the site, does the site help convert that visitor into a client?
I began looking at my own behavior to make guesses about my visitors possible motives. To determine the seriousness of a business when looking at their website, I go to the “about us” page. You will be surprised how many firms forget to fill this out or do not have one. I then look at contact information. If there is no good way to contact the site owner, I a wary. Yet this goes farther. If the contact information is “email@example.com”, I am not too trusting. This changes though depending on the circumstance. When going to a page about advertising, then “firstname.lastname@example.org” does not put me off. The same applies when looking for information and I find the info@ email, but when the site is all about Jane Smith Consulting, then I wonder about info@ emails. I feel better if I am sending an email to a person (email@example.com who is the personal assistant to Jane Smith). Little details left an impression, and I feel better if I believe that I am contacting a known entity (hello tom, can Jane Smith…).
What did dawn on me is that I am not really reading. Like most users, I have a certain set of websites that I like to go to read, and I do think of myself as reading, yet I am not too concerned with everything there. A website that I discovered not too long ago in my Google Reader for an alert on sustainable architecture is Green Building Elements. This is a wonderful site if you are interested in green or sustainable issues in building. At first, a few articles came up in the reader, and as it turned out, I was lead to this site, so I am reading the article, and I explore the site a bit. Eventually, I type the site into my browser to go directly there, instead of waiting for an alert to pop up. So there I am. Do I look at the ads? Do I read what is in the sidebars? The header? No, I quickly scan the article titles to see what may interest me, then I read that article. If I have time, I glance over to see the recent comments, which may lead me to read that article. If I have a bit longer, I may read the advertising or any promotional cop on the site. Why not pay attention all of the time? Because that is not why I am on the site. I want to read the article, and provide a response to join or engage a conversation.
Let us turn this around. Say I am searching for a water filtration system to be used on my greywater system that I am building. I type this into my search box, and I find an article about these systems. I land on the page, and I begin scanning. Does this page have what I need? I then check out the advertising too. Again, this is a quick scan, and I will click the ad if it seems to take me to where I want to be. My point is that we are scanners. We read when it matters to us, but a website visitor is scanning for that tidbit which brought home to the site.
This brought me back to my website analysis. I delved into the content of each site to find a morsel that would show me how to convert my user into a client. I missed the point. A competitor’s copy does not provide the answer. Understanding the user does. Some users will want to check you out, so the details have to be in place. Little clues reveal a lot about the business. For example, I noticed quite a few websites reporting to be from larger firms that had teams, but much of the data indicated that there was only one person working for the firm. I also noticed that web users want something quick. The trick is to figure out what that something is, and give it to them. Do they want to know how much a consulting fee would be. Maybe Jane Smith consulting will get the job if the price is right. Do they need a quick turnaround? Can same day service be achieved? Ms. Smith can meet clients on the same day. This is where competitor copy may come in use. When each competitor is touting a certain feature, then maybe they are doing so because the consumer has asked for it. However, you may also want to ask your own clients what information they need to make the sale. This is where I came to another conclusion: too many small business sites are working too hard to make that conversion that they cause the customer to leave the site. We pile on marketing copy before we give the price in the hope that the content will help make the sale. The user does not want to wade through it. Redacting content to make the scan of a website easier can be the best thing that you could do to win the user over.
Have content where it matters. To give users a better option, I have teaser content in some spots on a page. Other times I do not. The depending factor is how do the users to your site use the information. I also discovered that I am guilty of repeating content, as if I am trying to make a point. I saw this happening on several sites. Remember that people who want to read will continue to explore, but a scanner will leave the page if he does not think the data is on that page. Putting too little content can be a problem as well. One service company had a slogan that included the term “five point service”. Being familiar with the type of work that they do, I realized what the five points were. Nowhere on the site was the five point service clearly explained. An intelligent user would eventually discover the meaning though, yet we have to remember the scanner. They are not going to bother looking for the explanation. The slogan had no significance to the scanner, so it became wasted copy. Another aspect is the site that contains all of the basic content that every one of his competitors contains. No content differentiates itself, and the questions a visitor might have, like price, was not answered. Having the price listed may be what the visitor wants, but you may not want it on the site. You may want the visitor to call you to make the sale. I found that visitors to one site are fairly evenly divided: some want the price listed, some want to send a request for a quote, and some call. Of course callers may be better for you, but they may not be the only ones to convert. If you are focusing on having them call, you need more than a phone number. Having a call to action to encourage them to call, or a simple explanation why they should call is the best option.
What is the lesson: clean up your act, but be sure that you made yourself clear. Go through your own site with fresh eyes of a scanner, but maybe ask friends to do tasks on your site to find out their reactions to their site. You may be adding content, but you may discover the need to reduce.
Consultants who blog may wish to go further from their topic to help brand themselves
A golden rule in blogging is try to have a focus for your content; do not stray to far from it. Every blogger has the odd post that does not fit the true purpose of the site though, but what if that content becomes half of the site? I was analyzing some popular blogs in specific industries, and found that they go against the focus rule; however, they do engage their audience, which is the ultimate goal of the site, but does this lead to conversions?
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Writing quality content may not be enough if no one is looking for a post on your topic.
I used to write an informative post without concern if the post would be read by users or found by the search engines, because the post served my greater writing goals in regards to my business. With a website, this can be an error. Each written post should add value to the site. Value will be defined as bringing in users to the site; users who will hopefully convert to being your clients. Yet maybe you still need a post on a topic that will not add value, so how can you craft your writing to meet the goal of adding value?
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The art of writing comes with its own rules that you need to know, once you begin to write a post for any webpage.
I was asked how do I develop titles for blog posts, and I thought that I might write a post on that topic, but writing for the web is different from other styles. I have been working on a couple of anchor/pillar posts, when I wrote a piece that fits into my overall scheme, and kept my blog post schedule. While writing this post, I became self conscious of the techniques involved. This feeling was enhanced when an editor worked on a post that I submitted for another site. With these thoughts in my head, I felt that a post about writing a post would be better suited here.
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