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Combat the Bounce

The Dreaded Bounce  — What Is It?

Visitors who bounce like this are bad for your rankings.

We’ve all done it. Clicked on a link to a web page somewhere and realized it’s not what we were really looking for. So we click the Back button in our browser and move on. That’s a bounce: we bounced right back to where we came from.

Is a Bounce Bad?

Clearly, a bounce isn’t exactly good; that visitor didn’t buy anything. But is it really bad? Or just … meh?

Actually, it’s pretty bad. It’s not just a “so what?” matter.

When someone bounces, especially when they landed on your site from a search page, that tells the search engine that (at least to that visitor) your page wasn’t a good match for what they were searching for. And if your page isn’t a good match for whatever keyword phrase was searched, the search engine probably won’t want to rank your page as highly next time.

This can hurt you no matter how well your on-page keyword optimization has been done, and no matter how many relevant pages on other sites are linking to your page. Bouncing is a negative ranking factor.

How Do You Prevent Bounces?

This is where you need the skills of a copywriter. You need to make your page uniquely informative  — or fun  — or surprising  — or outrageous  — or provocative. And unique. SEO techniques can’t help you with this. Nothing done with search engines in mind can help you with this. You need to craft each web page with your visitors in mind. What do they need? What are they looking for? What will they like?

And you need to ask them to do something. “Click for more.” “Sign up for our newsletter.” “Tell us what you think.” “What are your questions about this?” “Buy now.” These are calls to action, and their efficacy is undisputed. Why do you suppose when you order a fast food burger they always ask you “Want fries with that?” It’s because they sell lots more fries that way. It can work for you, too.

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Need help with your own website’s rankings? Rank Magic can help.

 


Don’t Optimize for Google

Huh???

Sure, Google gets twice as many searches as Yahoo and Bing combined, but you shouldn’t optimize for Google. You shouldn’t optimize for Yahoo and Bing either.

It’s the User. It’s always the User.

A poor UX will get you nowhere with Google.Identifying the right keywords and doing on-page keyword optimization is arguably the easy part. The hard part is developing a compelling UX (User Experience). In a competitive niche, that’s what separates the high flyers on Google from the also-rans.

Let’s think about that for a second. It’s always been Google’s goal to present the best sources of information for any given search. That’s why you won’t find multiple listings on the first page of results that all have the same content. They’re out there  — just look at websites developed by vertical market website vendors; they often have pages with lots of information, but pages that are the same on many other websites. Google never wants to show you more than one of those: the rest are all redundant.

But it’s more than just having unique content on your site (although that is an irreducible essential). Your site needs to be easy to use, easy for users to find what they want, full of information not easily found elsewhere … it needs a good UX. That’s always been a #1 priority for Google and in their statement of philosophy headlined “Ten things we know to be true”, three of them relate directly to UX:

  • Focus on the user and all else will follow.
  • Fast is better than slow.
  • You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.

I’ve written about all of those things in this blog before, but it wouldn’t hurt you to review some of them.

Focusing on the user is Google’s #1 value. We’ve gathered all the stuff we’ve posted on that subject in our User Experience category.

The speed issue is always a concern when we prepare optimization recommendations for our clients, and all of our posts on that subject are neatly combined into our Page Speed tag.

Recognition that people are increasingly accessing the web on their phones is inescapable. But many websites that look great on a desktop or laptop, or even on a tablet may be close to unusable on a phone. We’ve written about that, too.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below.

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How does your UX stack up against your competitors? Need some help beating them out in the rankings? If so, Rank Magic can help

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Do You Write Compelling Subject Lines?

Click Bait?

A killer, click-bat headline.Your web page or blog post or newsletter may be astoundingly helpful or surprisingly informative, great fun to read and generally a gem that your target market really needs to know about and read. But if your subject line isn’t good “click bait”  — something that will make it impossible to pass up without clicking on it  —  no one will know.

You need to grab them with the subject line. In an email newsletter, it’s the subject of the email. In a social media post it’s the headline you give the post or the first few words of the post. On a web page  it’s the page title that will show up in search results. And in a blog post it’s also the page title, but that often duplicates the primary headline of the post.

Dierdre Rienzo wrote a helpful piece at MarketItWrite about how to analyze your prospective subject lines for their likelihood of attracting clicks.

The Value of Good Examples

One thing I’ve often found helpful, especially when a headline or subject line seems beyond my grasp, is to look at some examples.

Info Marketing Blog reprinted 100 great advertising headlines with a brief discussion of each. Review them and you’ll get a sense of what elements go into a real compelling, click bait subject line.

The Financial Brand has s helpful set of rules for creating a killer subject line, even though their focus is financial.

From an advertising perspective, Crazy Egg has a list of nine steps to follow to create a compelling subject line or headline.

If you don’t get enough inspiration from these sources, try searching in Google, Yahoo or Bing for headline ideas or how to write a headline. There are some great ideas to get you through that writer’s block.

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10 Reasons Your Site Needs to Be Obvious for Users

 There’s a fine line many web developers walk when designing their sites that toggles between coyness and pushiness. We don’t want to beat people over the head with our pitch, yet we fear losing visitors if we don’t make that pitch effectively. By pitch, of course, we’re talking about the message or intent of your website – telling the visitor what you want them to know. Answering the question your site is meant to answer. There are very good reasons why your site needs to be obvious to users, and we’re going to look at ten of them here:
  1. First Impressions – We all know the old adage about them, and it holds true as much online as anywhere else. If your visitor doesn’t get their question answered right away, or isn’t clear on what your site is about, they likely won’t come back to find out later.
  2. Distractions Lead to Detours – If there’s a lot going on all over your website, your visitor can easily overlook its import. You need to guide them to do what you want them to do and go where you want them to go before they get lost on a tangent that takes them someplace else.
  3. They Can’t Say Yes If You Don’t Ask – Visitors need to know what it is they need to do when they land on your page in order to get what they came for. Your site should be easy to navigate, and action buttons or windows should be prominently displayed above the fold.
  4. Short Attention Spans – Remember, more often than not your visitors will be coming from a search engine link. This means your site will be one among many options they have to find what they’re searching for so you need to tell them quickly and clearly why your site is the one they should use.
  5. Web Surfing = Channel Surfing – There’s a reason the terminology has been carried over to internet browsing: the psychology and methodology of the two are very similar. Web surfers are looking for a reason to stay put. If they don’t see one right away, you’re history.
  6. If You Lead, They Will Follow – People respond to clear instruction, and even prefer it. If you tell them exactly what to do, visitors are more likely to do just that and will appreciate the uncluttered, direct approach.
  7. Too Many Options = Too Many Wrong Choices – One of the wrong choices we’ve mentioned already is that they will leave your website. However, it’s also confusing and unnecessarily complicating your purpose to offer a visitor too many options. Provide the shortest path possible to your objective.
  8. Inspire Confidence – A website that asserts its message and establishes itself as a concise source of whatever the visitor is searching for tells them that they’re in the right place. They are less likely to continue their search if you make it plain that it isn’t necessary.
  9. Keep It Simple – Don’t put a lot of speed bumps or roadblocks in your visitor’s path. Have them click as few buttons and follow as few links as possible to arrive at their destination and your objective. Any extraneous action is just another opportunity to leave before they arrive.
  10. Page Ranking – When your content is relevant, high quality, and answers the visitor’s search query, your website will rank more highly in search results. That means more traffic coming to your pages, instead of turning them away.

Thanks to Hannah Howard at Longhorn Leads. This article original appeared here.


4 TrustRank Factors That Sabotage Your Rankings

Does your site or blog have a decent TrustRank?

Jill Whalen of SEO firm High Rankings has written an excellent piece about four TrustRank issues that send negative signals to all the major search engines.

TrustRankTrustRank

TrustRank is a ranking factor at all the major search engines, although at Google it’s more a cluster of different specific ranking factors than a single measure. You can think of it as a measure of your web site’s web-spammy-ness, or rather the lack thereof. Google’s Panda algorithm update a couple of years ago was focused heavily on TrustRank issues.

Here’s a quick list of the four dangerous TrustRank signals Jill explains:

  • Expertness  — Does your website demonstrate your knowledge of what each page is about? Or is your content rather shallow? Does it provide any real, useful information, or just ask people to hire you or buy your product?
  • Comprehensiveness  — Are your web pages and blog posts too short or insubstantial to be of real value to a visitor? Can people tell who wrote your blog posts?
  • Keyword Redundancy  — Do you have multiple pages talking about essentially the same thing but in different ways to focus on different keywords? That may no longer be necessary, at least for Google.
  • Proofreading  — This goes to the user experience on a website: typos, poor grammar, formatting errors like hard line breaks in the middle of a sentence, even nonsensical copy resulting from an attempt to work in awkward keyword phrases.

Jill explains these factors in more depth than I do here, and offers some advice on how to uncover them and fix them. I recommend her article if you have even the slightest concern that your website may be sending bad TrustRank signals.

If you need professional assistance with this, Rank Magic can help.

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Do You Need a Google-Savvy Copywriter?

Effective copywriting on your website is critical

As you know, Google has made a lot of changes to its algorithm over the past year or two, and those changes have been largely focused on content quality. E-commerce sites that consist mostly of product descriptions written by the manufacturers have suffered more than most, but almost any website can be at risk of a copy related slapdown in the Google rankings.

Home grown web copy written by business owners may just not cut it anymore.

What does Google want?

Google's Panda update focuses on quality web content.The purpose of search engines is to present people with high quality websites that will provide what they’re looking for. Part of being a high quality website is offering unique content that you can’t find on any old run-of-the-mill site. A few of the critical factors include

  • Appropriate keywords in the copy
  • Unique copy, different from (better than) other similar websites
  • An excellent user experience in terms of information presentation, ease of navigation, and compelling and engaging copy

Asa a business owner, you need more than that: you need content that makes people want to buy from you and that makes it easy for them to do so. A lot of that comes from the copy on your web pages.

How do you find the right copywriter?

CopywritingLaura Crest has written an excellent guide to seeking a copywriter and identifying which one is most suitable for you in SuccessWorks, a blog about copywriting.  The main steps she suggests (she explains each in great detail) are:

  • Review their writing for readability, value, and lack of keyword stuffing.
  • Ask about their process (and listen for a few danger signals).
  • Take note of the kinds of questions they ask you.
  • Ask them about the latest Google updates (Panda & Penguin) to be sure they understand and can explain what they’re about.

Laura’s article includes a very helpful video by Heather Lloyd-Martin, which I’m sure you’ll find valuable.
We have some copywriters listed on our website whom we’ve worked with in the past if you’d like to start your search there.

Your observations & comments are valued — please let us know what you think in the Coments section below.


How to Fix Your Keyword Stuffed Copy

Is your web page uncomfortable to read?

Often less experienced SEO practitioners guide you to create copy that employs keyword stuffing. In the early days of SEO 10-12 years ago, repeating a verbatim keyword phrase several times on a web page was de riguer. Not anymore — now it can hurt.

Keyword stuffing is bad on many levels, and you’ll know it when you read it. That’s why it’s always a good idea to read your web pages aloud to yourself. Do they sound stupid? Are they repetitive? Is your keyword use obviously “over-redundant”?

The folks at RankedHard.com had some fun with the subject:

Keyword Stuffing illustrated

That kind of copy hurts.

  • It hurts your image and reputation.
  • It makes for a bad “user experience” on your site (and that’s a ranking factor at Google).
  • It increases your bounce rate (visitors who leave without reading anything else on your site.)
  • It sabotages your conversion rate (the % of visitors who become customers/clients)
  • After the Penguin algorithm updates at Google, it may sabotage your rankings.

You need to fix it. But what if the page ranks well?

This can be a real concern. If the page ranks well, will changing the copy hurt your rankings? Sure, it might. But it might also help if you do it right. Take it slow, make minor changes at first and see how your rankings respond.

How to fix it

The first thing to know is that repeating verbatim keyword phrases is not necessary. Here’s how to fix them:

  • Employ formatting ploys. Search engines don’t register punctuation and line breaks. If you can break up a keyword phrase by having the first word or words at the end of a sentence or paragraph and the rest of the phrase at the beginning of the next sentence or paragraph, your visitor won’t experience the sense of a repeated phrase. But it’s still there and can register with the search engines.
  • Use “stop words” and near synonyms. These are words that don’t add value to a query and are mostly ignored by the search engines. The usually consist of pronouns, prepositions and articles. For example, these phrases are all essentially equivalent:
    • replace air conditioner
    • replace your air conditioner
    • replace an air conditioner
    • air conditioner replacement
  • Keyword phrases may not even need to be on the page. If you have a page about replacing customers’ air conditioners, it will be quite natural to use the phrase air conditioner throughout the page. It also makes sense for the words “replace”, “replacement”, “repair” and “trade in” to occur on the page. Even if you never say “replace air conditioner” anywhere, it will be understandable to the search engines that your page is about that. Search engines have gotten much smarter over the years,

Understand that a page that ranks well but drives away potential customers is doing you no good.

Fix it. Make the copy read comfortably. Make it effective marketing copy that drives customers to buy from you. Include calls to action to help drive the buying decision. If your page is the best it can be about it’s subject, search engines will want to rank it highly.

If you’re still skittish about it, make incremental changes and watch your rankings. You may well be surprised to see your rankings improve rather than drop.

Need help? Give us a call.

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Quality Content Is King (Infographic)

Thanks to content creator Inklyo for this infographic.

Quality content is critical to your mkarketing, both on your website and on social media.


6 Copywriting Mistakes That Can Hurt Conversions

Craig Anderson, a copywriter at Cooper Murphy, a UK copywriting and content marketing agency, recently wrote about 6 common copywriting mistakes that can cause people to either leave your web page prematurely or simply not be motivated to buy your product or service.

  1. Failing to test long copy (don’t assume long copy is always bad)Well written content is essential for good SEO
  2. Using a page structure that turns people away prematurely
  3. Assuming mathematical literacy (this one surprised me)
  4. Trying to copy the look & feel of Twitter or Facebook
  5. Overlooking the power of the word “why”
  6. Forgetting to flip positive statements into negative ones

 

None of his suggestions (read his article here) are hard and fast rules, but the take-away message is to try them out and test the results.

Take Craig;s advice to heart and you may just improve your conversion rate.


Is Less Copy Better?

Don’t overload your home page

Lots of website owners want to avoid having too much copy on their home page. And while it’s true that a home page with an intimidating amount of copy can scare some people away, you don’t want to go overboard with the sparse copy principle.

Home page copy: how much do you need?At a minimum your home page needs to indicate clearly and concisely what you do or what you sell. You have about three seconds to convince visitors that they’re in the right place. If they have to search to find if you’re really the website they’re looking for — or worse yet, if they have to click to an internal page to find that out — you’ve lost them.

As the copywriting experts at Market It Write put it, there are five things you need to know before you pare down the copy on your home page. Then go ahead and make your home page punchy yet still informative enough so your potential customers know it’s worth their while to stick around and read more of what you have to say.

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