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While it’s obvious that maximizing your email marketing campaign is a major part of growing and interacting with your audience, focusing only on this part of the process isn’t the best way to boost your brand’s web traffic. Sure, a great initiative starts with strong messages that get the shopper on the other side of the screen to click your link – but what happens once these viewers end up on your page? In addition to this group, what about the browsers who make their way to your site via Google or the other top search engines? To help you clean up your site and ensure customers have a great experience once you reel them in, here’s some of the top SEO faux pas out there and how you avoid them with a few simple and easy tips.

Incorrect Copy Phrasing

One of the simplest mistakes you can make with your site is having a web copy that doesn’t translate well to the viewers interests. For instance, skimping on descriptive language is a major slip-up. Matt Cutts, Google’s head honcho when it comes to SEO practices, gave a great example by comparing a page that contains “Mt. Everest Height” to one that includes “How high is Mt. Everest?”

While the difference might seem subtle, the implications of the gap between the two are pretty big. The former is bland and generic, while the second poses a question that connects with your reader’s interests. To fix this, give your copy a once over and look for areas where more expansive wording could help flesh out the content in a positive. Aside from making a bigger impact on your viewers via email, doing this also has the added benefit of helping increase page visibility via Google’s recent shift toward favoring this type of formatting.

Broken Links

Another little issue that can cause some big problems is broken or incorrect linking to the other parts of your page. Naturally, interested readers will need to navigate to the different sections of your site to learn more about your products or services, so making sure these pathways always work is a good idea. Otherwise, you’ll end up putting your customers in a frustrating situation we’ve all experienced before – wanting to view a site, but facing down a broken link that stops this excitement dead in its tracks.

Meta Tag Duplicates

Taking things a little more toward the technical side of strong SEO tactics is the role of meta tags on your pages. The problem with this portion of the page is that many brands simply slap some generic tags on every page and call it a day. Unfortunately, all this does is create duplicate tag entries that do little to separate the actual content of your page. While this isn’t the end of the world as far as email generated visits, these duplicate tags can cause lasting damage for web crawlers looking to index your site. There’s nothing wrong with reusing terms in the meta tag section, just make sure you’re doing your best when it comes to describing what’s actually on the page.

“Click Here” Anchor Text

When it comes to the anchor text for your links, sometimes less isn’t always more. For instance, look at the links in this article. All of the anchor text helps describe what to expect once you’re redirected to the linked page. Unfortunately, plenty of pages decide to simply use generic terms like “click here” as a way to call viewers to action. However, you’re far better off making your anchor text as descriptive as possible – without making these links too unwieldy or awkward. Again doing this is good for the fluidity of your web page, as well as how your site fairs when it comes time for Google to rank it among the masses of others employing less than stellar anchor text practices.

Pages without Titles or Descriptions

The last major faux pas on the list is failing to take a few minutes to fill out the title and description section for your pages before you publish them. Not only is this practice easy to handle and a major asset for sorting and cataloging pages on your site, but it helps avoid an unsightly lack of text on any related search result pages. Considering that this snippet can say a lot about what to expect on your page for viewers coming across your content this way, don’t be afraid to put a little thought into what goes into the description. This way, regardless of whether your page visits come from great emails or any of the big name search engines, you’ll have everything in order as far as all the SEO tweaks go.

SEO

 

At first glance, starting a blog seems like a pretty easy process that doesn’t take much thought. Just sign-up on a free site, write up a few quick blurbs, and watch as your page pulls in loads of traffic, right? While this might sound great, it is unfortunately far from the truth. The reality of the situation is that if you want to see your blog flourish and grow, you’re going to need to put in some serious effort and approach the process with the right mindset. With these tips to help guide you along the way, you can start your journey toward a healthy and prosperous blog right away.

Nail Down a Theme

Professional writers Joshua Fields Milburn & Ryan Nicodemus at The Minimalists offer up some great information on starting a blog for your marketing operations. Before settling on anything else, having a strong theme for your content and visuals is the most important part of the process. Without this kind of direction, expecting a positive reaction is essentially just wishful thinking. Whether you want to be a thought leader in your industry, or simply offer insight into how your products and services handle the daily issues faced by your consumers, having a unified theme goes a long way in the world of blogging.

Pick the Right Platform

Once you have your theme and general direction for content on target, picking the right platform is the next step, according to online magazine Rookie. As the article notes, several options can serve as a suitable foundation for your blog. Blogger and WordPress.com are popular selections for those who are unfamiliar with web scripts like HTML. If you have a little more expertise, the WordPress.org alternative offers more customization for those who can handle the higher technological burden.

Incorporate Social Media

In many ways, blogging is a very social experience. So social, in fact, that this activity shares some serious synergy with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks. Robert Ambrogi, a blogging and legal expert, suggests on his page that new bloggers embrace the social aspect of the process to help foster the growth of their viewership. This means creating social network accounts that support your blog page, replying to comments, reaching out through email and even visiting other related blogs to help promote discussion on these sites. Becoming an active contributor in these arenas can help push traffic back to your blog and build a sustainable audience of browsers.

Take Note of What Your Audience Wants

Part of sustaining this aforementioned audience means taking note of what these viewers want out of your blog, according to the experts at Buffer. As you post more and more content, consider the feedback in the comments section, as well as the on-site activity the viewers. If certain posts or subjects naturally generate more excitement, pushing your blog in that direction may be the right strategy. Failing to do this, and losing sight of the point of your blog, can disenfranchise your readers and lead to a blog that never lives up to its potential.

As you can see, starting up a blog does require some serious work and preparation. Nailing down a great theme and concept, as well as picking the right publishing platform, gets the process rolling. From here, reaching out to your audience via social media, while also taking into consideration the feedback from these readers, can help you grow your viewership at a healthy pace. With these tips in hand, you’ll be on your way to a prosperous and popular blog in no time.

blog

 

Everyone who knows me, knows that I am always preaching the importance of testing when it comes to email marketing.
Test to see how your email displays on different clients…. test different subject lines…. test different sending times…. test different calls to action…. TEST, TEST, TEST!

Whenever we release a new email marketing template for our customers, we spend days checking and re-checking the design on almost 70 different email clients. It’s not a fun process (as my designers will tell you), but it’s a vital one nonetheless.

Yesterday I saw a really great and funny example of a campaign that probably could have used a bit more email client testing. I obviously subscribe to a ton of email newsletters and have seen all sorts of funny things over the years, but this one easily jumps to the top. And, since I always talk about content & context, in the context of yesterday being Valentine’s Day, this might be even more funny.

Before you check out the image below, I do want to say that I am a huge fan of Search Engine Watch. I have been a subscriber and loyal user of their site for more years then I can remember. They produce excellent content and are always very reliable. They are true leaders in their field and I have the utmost respect for them and all their contributors. Anyway, moving along….

When their daily newsletter landed in my inbox on my iPhone 4S, this was the subject line I saw:

Email Subject Line Length on iPhone 4S - Search Engine Watch (Feb. 14, 2013)

Unless the search engine optimization world has changed a lot and Search Engine Watch is promoting some sort of new link building tactic, I think this was just an honest mistake… LOL!

The actual subject line is “A Guide to Getting Started With Analytics” and on desktop clients, such as Gmail shown below, this displayed correctly.

Sesrch Engine Watch (Feb. 14, 2013) - Gmail

These days it is hard to test your subject line across every desktop, web-based, and mobile client since there are so many. But, without testing you certainly run the risk of having display issues like this. Ultimately, I suspect the guys at Search Engine Watch would have a laugh about this, but for many other organizations this would be far from a laughing matter.

The general “best practices” rule that we tell our customers is for a subject line to be less than 50 characters. That being said, the iPhone in portrait orientation only displays about 40 characters so if you have anything longer than that, it might be truncated. Certainly there are some situations that call for longer subject lines with more details and there are others that can call for shorter subject lines. The key is really to come up with something that will entice the reader to open your message. But, if you’re one of the people writing a longer subject line, be careful of where it might get cut off so you don’t make the same mistake as Search Engine Watch.

 

Some of our customers might have noticed a sudden increase or decrease in search traffic from Google this past week.

This could be the result of Google’s first official update of 2013.

The 24th “Panda” update was confirmed by Google to have occurred on January 22, 2013.

Google claims that 1.2% of queries were effected.

There has been lots of chatter about an update that also occurred on January 17 – 18, 2013, but Google did not confirm that.

For those that are interested, you can view the entire Google Algorithm Change history on SEOmoz.

As a quick summary of Google’s main algorithm changes, there is Penguin and Panda. If your site was hit by this recent update or a past update, these are the things to watch for…

For Penguin
Look for a lot of anchor text (which is the clickable text that links to your website) in your back link profile that are not branded, but rather an exact match of your target keywords. For example, if your site was Zappos.com but the majority of your back links were for the anchor text “shoes” and not “Zappos” this would raise a red flag. This is not to say that these links are bad (or spammy) and they could be entirely legitimate, but when the Google Algorithm looks at them (in relation to your branded links) it can still contribute to triggering Penguin. In addition, look at your site for “keyword stuffing”. This is the act of over-optimizing your site and really jamming your keywords into titles, descriptions, meta tags, internal anchor links. If your site title is “keyword & keyword & keyword & keyword” then you’re on the wrong track.

For Panda
Look for lots of pages with “thin” content or very similar content. This could often take the shape of really short articles or an article that looks like it could be pieces of a different article just “re-spun” to try to trick Google into thinking it’s new content. Take a look in Google Analytics for pages that have a very high bounce rate or that seem to get no traffic at all. Remember, Google wants to bring people to good quality content, so if your site is serving up pages that don’t provide that, expect Google to no longer send people your way.

 

When I was playing hockey last week, I mentioned in the locker room that Google had done this update (…yes, I’m that cool in my hockey locker room!) and was emphasizing the importance behind building high quality links to your website. My very good friend and teacher extraordinaire, Jeff Borsuk, was quick to offer up his help. Here are the pictures of the link he created for Elite Email… =)

Building Links in School Building-Links-in-School-2

 

Day 1 of the CRFA 2012 show in Toronto was great yesterday. We got to meet many existing customers from around Canada, as well as talk to many new people who were excited about how email marketing can help their business.

The show continues today and I’m confident it will go just as well!

Today at 4pm our CEO, Robert Burko, will be leading another seminar in the presentation room titled “Why Google Can Be Your Friend: A Look at Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Advertising (SEM)”

Every one of your customers uses Google to find information from where to eat to what to buy and everything else you could imagine. Harnessing the power of search engines doesn’t have to be scary, intimidating or costly. Learn how to put the search engines to work for you to drive business and help you succeed.

(View full show schedule)

Whether you are brand new to the art of SEO/SEM or are a seasoned veteran, the hour long presentation is sure to give you some new insight that could really help you take your search marketing to the next level this year.

 

 

Different times of the year bring about different types of online searches. As we head into fall there are new topics that are becoming more prevalent in online searches. Whether it be ‘back to school’, or ‘football’, the Labor day weekend signifies a shift for many people when they say goodbye to their cargo shorts or summer dresses and they start preparing for the leaves to fall and for the temperature to dip.

This year, even though searches for “labor day” were down 38% compared to 2010, people were still searching for many Labor Day related terms. According to Yahoo!, shopping, affordable vacations and, of course, food were the most searched items this past weekend.

Let’s take a peek at the search trends from this past holiday weekend in North America:

Labor Day 2011

The most searched question in relation to the weekend was, “When is Labor Day?”, which was up over 148 percent, with women comprising 58 percent of people who were searching for the answer.

Yahoo reported that searches for the term ‘labor day’ were down 38 percent vs. last year. Searches such as “labor day weekend 2011″ however, were up 1,889 percent. Other searches that were popular in relation to Labor Day: ‘Labor Day Telethon’, ‘Labor Day Sales’ and ‘Labor Day Parade’.

Labor Day Food

Labor Day is often associated with late summer barbeques, family time and sweets. So it shouldn’t be a big surprise that of all the searches to see a big increase in August, ‘Cherry Pie’ was one of the biggest; leaping by 9,324 percent over the course of the month. Clearly people’s minds are stuck in the candy jar, as recipes for peach cobbler, cookies, cheesecake, Rice Krispy Treats and cake were very extremely popular searches as well.

Labor Day Shopping

Nothing signifies the end to summer like a ‘back to school sale’. As Labor Day quickly approached, most people were very busy hunting for deals. Coupons for Dick’s Sporting Goods, Target, grocery, JCPenney, Old Navy, Forever 21, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch and Express were among the most searched. The stores with the most searches were led by Walmart, Target, Macy’s and Kmart.

Labor Day Getaways

There’s no better time to take some vacation than over a long weekend and it seemed that Yahoo! searchers were trying to get one last summer retreat in before the fall. “Cheap weekend getaways” searches were up 3,602 percent, while “cheap all-inclusive vacation and “vacation deals” were up 4,808 percent and 107 percent respectively. Also prior to the weekend, “Groupon getaways” searches climbed by over 60 percent as well as “travel distance calculator” which climbed 525 percent.

What Can You Learn About These Search Trends

We know that SEO is important to a lot of our customers and one of the things the above ‘labor day trends’ shows us is that search volume can be highly inconsistent from week-to-week and month-to-month. But, with a bit of planning, you can seriously capitalize on this!

Any good SEO professional will tell you that one of the very first things you must do when embarking on an SEO strategy is to pick your keywords. After all, you can’t target every keyword because you’ll just end up with a lot of losing battles…. And we want battles you can win! So, carefully choosing the right keywords is really important.

One of the factors that effects keyword selection is search volume. To assist with that you can use this tool from Google: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

Obviously a term that is searched for more often can potentially bring you more traffic, which is what you want. But, that doesn’t mean you need to restrict your keyword targeting to only terms that have a good search volume all year round.

Imagine if you were a website that targeted “cheap labor day getaways”. You probably wouldn’t get much search traffic in February, when no one is thinking about Labor Day at all. And, throughout most of the months this would be a term that really isn’t driving much traffic. But, then when August hits and your search term experiences something like a 3000% increase, well, at that point you are laughing!

The lesson here is that there is nothing wrong with targeting a term that is only going to really spike in volume during certain seasons, on certain days, or around certain events/holidays. The key is to plan ahead of time because you definitely cannot decide on August 15 that you want to dominate ‘labor day’ searches in two weeks, it simply won’t happen.

But, if you map out your strategy and can stay the course throughout the months where your specific date/time sensitive keyword isn’t doing much for you, then when the time arrives, the fruits of your labor will be well worth it.

In closing, I can’t believe it is September already!

 

We work with a lot of e-tailers and while we are honored to help them with their email marketing, we understand that the topic of SEO is equally as important to them.

Getting good traffic through the search engines is so important. After all, if people don’t find YOU when they search, then they’ll potentially find your competitor.

Even hear at Elite Email we get a ton of our traffic through natural organic (which means ‘not paid’) search engine results.

One thing we always talk about at our weekly SEO meetings is where we rank for a bunch of different terms. Although it is difficult to get a truly accurate measurement because it varies by location/data-center, we can get a general idea.

The coveted #1 spot is always the goal, but just how much more important is the #1 spot to the #2 spot or any other listing on page 1.

A recent study from Optify shows some pretty staggering results that paint a clear picture of just how big the difference between #1 and #2 can be in terms of your click-throughs.

Websites ranked number 1 received an average click-through rate (abbreviated to “CTR”) of 36.4%, number 2 had a CTR of 12.5%, and number 3 had a CTR of 9.%. Those are some pretty serious differences for just an inch of screen real estate on the results page.

According to Optify, being in the #1 spot on Google is the equivalent to the TOTAL of all the traffic the sites in the #2, #3, #4, and #5 sites will receive.

If your site is not yet ranking well in the search engines, then shooting for the #1 spot on a competitive term can be an ambitious goal. You should definitely start by just striving to be on the first page. But, as you can see in the chart below, as you climb to the top of page 1, there are some pretty substantial advantages.

Organic Click Thru Rate by Search Position (Optify data)

Click Through Rates of Google SERP's based on Optify data

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