13 Reasons Your Organic Traffic is in Decline…It’s Not a Penalty

thankless-job-seo The landscape of search engine optimization has changed drastically in the last 3-4 years.  Even as it changes, a lot stays the same.  It has been very challenging to see a multitude of friends and colleagues approach me with problems that often seem beyond repair with clients that they have worked with for years. There is often frustration accompanying organic search marketers that creates a jadedness bordering on cynicism.  The public sentiment of SEO is never very positive, sometimes even bordering on downright distrust of shady worthless criminals.  At the very least, it has become much like IT – everyone needs it, but has little idea how it works.  In much the same way, SEO has become a thankless job at times.

It becomes difficult to talk about “ranking on Google” without launching into a tirade on higher barrier to entry, “links, and the glass ceiling”, and other problems associated to SEO as service, or even a channel.  The rise of not provided, and other challenges have rendered many an agency near useless on the SEO front it seems.  The space is limited, and it is most certainly competitive. It is no accident that as advertising inventory gets larger, the organic search is pushed down the page.  Vertical creep, knowledge graph results, and other issues have challenged even the most talented of the SEO folks.

rankbrain-overlordsAffiliate marketers and small business owners who pushed the limits of what big G deemed acceptable, felt the sharp edge of the Google sword that we live and die by when a site was dependent on organic search traffic. The easy affiliate marketing wells dried up.  Add to that, the proliferation of marketers willing to heckle and berate your opinion and substitute their own publicly, and we have a somewhat more hostile environment than only just a few short years ago.  It’s no wonder more than a few SEO professionals are trying to rebrand themselves into different areas of expertise.  I, for one, embrace this brave new world and welcome our new robot overlords.  I will keep my wearable devices powered at all time, and try not to make jokes about Del Spooner (Will Smith) and I, Robot.-----nah-viki

There are a few things that have remained consistent in organic search in the past 5 years, among them:

  1. Competition is Rising
  2. Landing Pages are the New Keywords
  3. Only Advertisers Have CPC, Volume, & Conversion Rates
  4. Everyone Wants More Organic Traffic
  5. Everyone Has an Opinion

TL;DR

There’s are probably hundreds of reasons your site is not ranking, or you’ve slipped from the rankings, but here are some of the most common reasons for organic decline:

  1. Not enough domain authority
  2. Not enough page authority
  3. Not enough topical relevance
  4. Content is not organized
  5. Content is not expert
  6. Increased competition
  7. No media spend
  8. Site is slow
  9. Bounce rate is high
  10. Duplicate content
  11. Site migration moved URLs
  12. Not a penalty
  13. Lack of understanding

1. Not Enough Domain Authority

domain-authority-root-domains
Domain authority, in my mind, is what PageRank was long, long ago in a simpler time when we knew the words people searched to reach our website because that data was important and provided. DA is often also called Power, Trust, and other names as a metric of total link authority.

DA is a very influential factor that you will not succeed without. It is the inevitable truth of why most sites don’t rank inside the black box that is organic search results. Compare your root linking domains to your competitors’ – if you have a whole lot less, you probably won’t overcome them with “on-page” optimization, and nifty content writing.
domain-authority-rocket-shuttleDomain authority is the rocket shuttle for your rankings.   It is the catch-all for all things offsite that impact your domain. You can argue semantics with me if you like, but there are a variety of sources that you can track a 1-10 or 1-100 scale metric for backlink domain authority.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that links are important to your website, but you may need to be an SEO to figure out which links are now effective. The fear, uncertainty, and doubt around this topic has changed the vernacular used in organic search marketing for years to come. Be assured, you will not succeed in buying PageRank anywhere these days.

The heavy influence of this factor lead to the “bad linking thinking” that created many a link scheme.  These schemes lead to penalties, and paranoia of penalties.  Bad linking and SEO has left a very sour taste in the mouth of more than one CMO without question.

Despite the tumultuous tides of backlinks and their value, offsite equity remains a highly significant factor in how well a webpage or site performs in the search results.  There is no question in the value of a high quality link from an website of topical authority in your vertical.

Call it link juice, domain authority or whatever you’d like to label it; this is just difficult ground to cover when you start seeing the damage from the after math of “bad linking thinking” in the passed few years.  There is a very long list of “dont’s” and caveats that go on the list before tactics that are viable for developing this authority.

The need for domain authority has sparked the need for better content, and re-kindled the idea of “content marketing” and “inbound marketing”. In my jaded SEO-mind, many of the these marketing labels are just thinly guised strategies for “getting more links”.

Perhaps this view is fickle and oversimplified, but the simple truth is that your website needs links to rank better. Your site needs MORE links of HIGHER quality, trusted sources. You also need a content strategy that is more than a blog post a month to build those types of links to your site.

When a site STOPS link building, or has some issues with tactics that were performed by an overly aggressive SEO, and receives a penalty or keyword or page level filter – we often see a slow slide resulting in 10-40% traffic losses slowly over time. With so little public keyword data left, we are very dependent as search marketers on third party data sources to identify where these losses occurred, and if they are significant to the overall bottom line.

A site may have the best user metrics of all time, but without domain authority, they will not pop into the top 10 for competitive terms to receive an “audition phase” for those search phrases.  You’ll never get the chance to see the value of your on-page SEO efforts – with a page ranking in the SERPs, without building your site’s DA to a point that is close to that of your competitors’ in the search results.american-idol-audition

Think of engagement metrics as the validation that your web page is a star. Your webpage waits in que like all those American idol want-to-be stars for a day to shine for an audience. If the audience approves, you get to stay. If your page fails, you go home to nowheresville to cry yourself to sleep after your dreams of Hollywood, (or at least some search rankings) are crushed to tiny pieces.

Domain authority is the summation of all of your website’s link authority cumulatively. While it is not the only metric for ranking it has always been a very significant one with strong influence. Chances are, your site doesn’t have enough of it.  An increase in root linking domains, or legitimate site authority will always help your website SEO efforts as a whole, and should always be a tactical priority.

2. Not Enough Page Authority

If you really want to shake an SEO Practitioners’ tree – ask them, “what is more important, content or links?” To the initiated, this is a silly chicken and egg type of question, and to others, each serves as a line item for their marketing budgets. This is a similar debate of – what is more important -“page authority or domain authority”?

Page authority is definitely part of the rocket shuttle for an individual page’s ranking.   One page can make it to the Google number one moon, but a high domain authority site with a well-written page will get there a whole lot faster, and stay a lot longer all else being equal.

If a page goes viral, and receives social mentions and ultimately links, it will rank for those terms. Both domain authority and page authority are vital to a strong organic marketing strategy, which is why many companies in e-commerce and other sectors have developed “content marketing strategies” to improve both.

Sadly, I’ve seen a lot of really great looking websites with excellent content that will never see the light of day in Google due to a lack of domain and page authority.

3. Not Enough Topical Relevance or Authority

While authorship might be dead, the idea of topical expertise by author remains alive and well.  The fact that G experimented with rel=author for so long to collect the data is demonstration enough to most folks that this is a factor that has the potential to influence search results.  While anyone can write and publish with the proliferation of open blog platforms, not everyone can write for the trusted sites with the most relevant audiences and expertise.

Language processing has always been a part of the algorithm for search ranking, and google is certainly delivering more relevant results by using artificial intelligence to better understand a user’s intent, and deliver a specialized result based on that intent in under a fraction of a second.  We are teaching “rankbrain” with every search – the common language used around different topics.  While this is fascinating as a topic of conversation, it isn’t always incredibly useful as a search marketing strategy.

While your site may have domain authority and page authority on par with your competitors, you may still be lacking in this area.  Your links and content may be viewed as more generic, generalized, or not at the same level as the competition.  Social shares, backlinks, and ultimately rankings are the result of a well delivered piece of content that is exceptional in it’s information, and flawless in it’s execution.

4. Content is Not Organized

playbook

When you first create your website, it’s easy to look past “little issues” like information architecture. When you scale your site from 10 pages to 10,000 the need for organization becomes a bit more apparent.  The organization of your content will often dictate how well your site is linked internally, and how easily accessible it is when being referenced by other websites.

Another area that SEO folks often have a hard time discussing is the concept of a “deep architecture” vs. a “shallow architecture. Your IA consists highly of the internal linking structure of your website (or how the pages link together) and your website’s URL address, and the organization of category/ subcategory in that URL.  Everyone has an opinion as usual, but most can agree that organizing and describing your content effectively is among the top priorities.

While it often seems easy to create an effective navigation and structure when creating it, it can be a bit more challenging in retro-actively organizing content within a site without breaking landing pages that are working. This becomes especially tricky when you don’t want to move pages that are already performing well in search.

5. Content is Not Expert

Photo Nov 24, 7 09 01 PMJust because you write an article about a topic, does not mean anyone will be compelled to read it, or Google will reward your high school literary efforts on another article on the same topic that exists three dozen times on other sub-par ad agency websites.  Marketing folks are the largest culprits of this.  Often the “expert level” blogging is done by junior level staff that is a day above intern.  The responsibility to write quality content that is done at a high level is often delegated down the line, as those who actually have expertise are generally riddled with other tasks.

Outsourcing content is generally not the answer.  Insourcing your content to junior level is not the solution either.  If you are the expert – you will need to sit down and write the content, or be inspired with someone who can help you make it visual and fun.  This can obviously be difficult for a dentist, doctor, lawyer, or other professional who does not want to create a blog post at the end of a hard day’s work.

A great blog post is punctuated by a handful of effective images, and now designed to retain our ADD generation for a few minutes at best.  Expert content must be compelling, engaging, and written at an high level for those who will actually do more than skim the information.  Help your experts by giving them outlines, topics, tools, and imagery that may be useful in reducing the time it takes to transcribe their expert wisdom into written web content.

6. Increased Competition

Every search result is becoming more highly contested.  The barrier to entry in most search results is quite high because at least some of those businesses have been benefitting from the benefit of commercial intent keyword searches.  The relevance and value of these types of consumers is obviously immense.  When the value is realized through paid search, conversion tracking, and analytics refinements used in a complete online marketing campaign, an adequate budget can be allocated for content marketing and outreach even if the spend is not directly attributable like in other forms of direct online marketing.

This is a fact of life in organic search.  If you’re not planning your strategy for the future, you are already well behind.  If you are not actively doing competitive research, then you’re likely losing ground to your competitors. This doesn’t mean that you have to reverse engineer the algorithm, it does, however, mean that you will need to have a online content and marketing strategy that will rival these competitors.

7. No Media Spend

There is no doubt that media spend indirectly influences search traffic volume on a brand and non-brand basis.  When your competitors are draft kings and fan duel, you are probably going to have a hard time keeping up.

The brand awareness that comes with large media spends creates search volume, and brand mentions about a website or business.  The media spend can be traditional media, paid search, or re-targeting.  Television is obviously still the most mass market advertising channel, but the user and intent based filtering of internet advertising is highly effective in many cases.  When big dollars are poured into this type of media for a hot industry, it can be difficult to be competitive with a web only strategy.  Despite the “spray and pray” approach of television ads versus the very specific rifle like approach to internet targeting, there is no argument that media spend will create brand awareness and brand search volume that are positive influential signals to Google about a business’s topic and keywords.

8. Site is Slow

Downtime is costly, but a slow website is sometimes even worse, as the problem can go undiagnosed much longer. There is nothing more frustrating to a large marketing campaign that a slow website or suffers this type of downtime.

A fast website is the foundation for great online marketing, and should be a given.  It’s no secret that people want things immediately these days, or that a slow website causes high bounce rates.  Black friday downtime is the perfect example of how a holiday rush creates the need for redundancy, speed, and backup plans when “doorbusters” can cripple a website.

In addition to frustrating users and sending poor engagement signals to google during your “audition phases” in the the top of the search results, a slow website will also impede Google from finding important pages, and impact how well your website is crawled.  These issues can cause crawl path problems, and have pages or sections of a website drop intermittently from the search index.  These drops can be devastating after months of positive engagement metrics and proper indexation to reach a top position.

You can test your site speed regularly, and monitor downtime with tools that will keep these issues to a minimum.  When you’ve worked so hard to attract them with all your organic marketing efforts – Don’t make your users wait!

9. High Bounce Rate

page-abandoment-and-speedWhile bounce rate is not directly attributable to how Google ranks a webpage, it can be a strong indicator of performance and the user engagement metrics of a webpage.  As a general rule, If your bounce rate is over 80%, you likely won’t be in that position for very long.  That means if your content sucks, and your price is too high, and you don’t deliver on the promise of your titles, people probably won’t stay on your website.

It’s well known that a long loading time will have a significant negative impact on your bounce and abandonment rates.  It’s also known that Google incorporates user clickstream data in various ways to improve relevancy.   While there is not direct causation, there is certainly correlations between higher bounce rates, and lower search rankings.  Some of this is attributable to panda related filters.

10. Duplicate Content Issues

common-seo-issues-duplicate-contentDuplicate content causes a few significant problems are large websites.  Most significantly, it can dilute page/domain authority, negatively impact user experience and metrics, and confuse search crawlers which wastes crawl cycles on your website.

All too often, the approach with large e-commerce sites is to have everything indexed and let Google figure it out.  While this approach can work for a while if your domain authority is high, it will eventually falter as a bloated site index inflates out of control.  Common duplicate issues include tag pages on blogs, non-unique product description pages on e-commerce sites, and generation of tracking or other superfluous URLs.

RavenTools has even cited duplicate content as one of the top 5 most common on-page SEO problems in a recent study which surveyed these common problems.

11. Site Migration Moved URLs

Moving old URLs is a bad idea in general.  When the URLs you’re planning to move have inbound links, and a history of strong performance – moving them can be down right devastating. If you must, you should try to work off a website migration checklist.

Consider that most sites receive the bulk of their organic traffic from only a small percentage of their site.  While this is not always true, it is relatively easy to track most of this information with google analytics and some 3rd party tools.   The URLs shouldn’t need to change if they perform in search.  Track and cherish those landing pages.  If there are no inbound links to a page, it can still suffer losses when 301 redirecting to the new page, but will likely suffer less than those pages with history and inbound links.

Save yourself and your team some headache, and focus on adding well edited content to pages, and not moving or generating lots of new URLs.  The old pages can stay, and you can add to them, or you can add new pages without redirecting the pages that have existing page authority from inbound links.

12. Not a Penalty

Like Arnold says…Photo Nov 24, 12 54 17 PMIt’s not a Penalty…

It is likely a filter, series of landing page demotions, devalued links, or other significant problem that is causing the decline. The use of lost keywords in SEMrush, and the Now Provided report in tandem with tracking your organic keyword profile helps identify these problems when they occur, so extra efforts can be put in place to recover those losses as applicable.

Google penalties and drops in organic traffic occur all too frequently, and has caused fear, uncertainty, and doubt around what is acceptable within webmaster guidelines.

It can be difficult to properly attribute seasonality, media spend, and other important influencing factors when looking only at organic search volume, but significant changes are easy to see, but not as easy to remedy sometimes.  Identification is the first step to recovery, and finding the changes, and problems that caused them is often a rather hands-on experience for someone with a long checklist of ideas.

13. Lack of Understanding

seo-mistake-birdsSomeone in the team screws up.  It’s inevitable.  Most of these mistakes are avoidable with a checklist and plan.  Train your marketing team so you’re using the same terminology, tools, and tactics.  This way, at least when problems occur, you’re team is speaking the same language.

The most difficult hurdle to an SEO campaign is often the mistakes of the uninitiated.  There are all too many examples of problems that were easily avoidable creating significant organic problems.  Title tags get over-written or lost in transition, images and links get broken, top pages don’t get redirected properly, and many other transition type issues can arise when all the details haven’t been considered before rushing a relaunch.  The best way to avoid these problem is to have a team that is educated on the value of organic search and the impact it has on the entire marketing and conversion funnel.

It’s important to be able to recover quickly when mistakes are made, and be able to communicate between online marketing disciplines to avoid these issues. SEO will always be most effective combined with PPC, analytics, social media, email, conversion, and other marketing channels.  You need analytics to justify your existence and summarize your performance over time.  You’ll need the keyword data from PPC, and the distribution of social media campaigns, along with a landing page that converts users to your intended key performance indicators and site goals.

There are plenty of other problems that can create a significant decline in organic traffic, but these are among the most common we’ve come across.  If organic search was easy, everyone would be optimizing.  Creating long-term sustainable strategies is the result of education, planning, and executing on tactical SEO strategies that have stood the test of time.  Building organic search as a viable channel is not the result of chasing the latest algorithm or “secret” piece of information, but rather the long term dedicated approach of using time-tested techniques of content creation and outreach with the understanding of where your site can be competitive.

Facebook Launches a Sports Stadium For Users Just in Time For the Big Game

football-gameOn January 21, Facebook released their new real-time place for Facebook users to experience sports in real-time. Similar to hashtags on Twitter, this new place is dedicated strictly to trending sports topics and shares new posts immediately. It is a hub for sports fans to discuss anything and everything sports-related, as well as talk as much trash on each other’s teams, in a sports-centered community on Facebook.

This will be a great opportunity for sports networks and journalists to jump in on the conversation and add their thoughts to trending sport topics. They’ll be able to create commentary in a sports-specific atmosphere that is made up of 650 million sports fans. Talk about publicity. Thoughts and opinions from the top sports journalists and channels will be funneled throughout the Stadium, giving exclusive opportunities for brands to shine.

Facebook users can quickly click on the news and journalist’s pages to jump out of the Sports Stadium and into a Business or Figure Facebook Page instantly to get more information and follow a new page. The hope in this type of marketing is to increase exposure for Business Pages and connect fans with pages they may not have found before. Plus, they’ll be able to comment more intimately with larger sports companies and newscasts to feel even more apart of the game than ever before.

Play-By-Play Coverage

A great feature of the Sports Stadium on Facebook will be the play-by-play action covered. As big plays are made, fans can post immediately and have discussions about the latest play with their friends and people all over the world. Although the sports fan audience is in the hundreds of millions for Facebook, the Sports Stadium can offer a more intimate environment for sports fans to connect than over other real-time social media accounts like Twitter.

screenshot-1-matchup-and-friends

To help balance the conversation, Facebook will provide actual game information, not just a feed of fan’s hips and hoorays. You can discover where to find the next game on television, as well as live scores, statistics and play-by-play details in Sports Stadium. In the blog post about the new Sports Stadium, Facebook described the hub as, “A second-screen experience that we hope makes watching the broadcast even better. You can get to Facebook Sports Stadium by searching for a game, and we’ll surface new ways to get there as the product evolves.”

Who Can Access the Stadium?

So far, Facebook has only rolled the Stadium out to iPhone users and for American football, basketball, and soccer games. Facebook plans to expand to more users and different types of sports in the coming weeks. This will be a really valuable tool for businesses as the Stadium grows and expands to more specific types of sport industries that specializes in niche products.

Timing couldn’t have been better for this launch, and I’m sure Facebook is aware of this. As you’re watching the big game Sunday, February 7, make sure to log into Facebook and check the Sports Stadium out for yourself.

Using Rankings Data to Improve Your SEO

AuthorityLabs-Ranking-SEO

We are a team of marketing consultants in London at Artios and we combine the use of artificial intelligence and AuthorityLabs data to deliver SEO recommendations that are statistically proven to work.

Our data scientist, Andreas Voniatis, explains how Artios used the AuthorityLabs API to demonstrate how to identify search engine competitors, to approach SEO data science studies and the importance of reliable data for making rankings in search engines more predictable and quantifiable.

Competitor Analysis

Assuming the keyword research has been performed adequately to ensure the keywords under investigation yield useful traffic then ranking data may be used to identify competitors as follows:

  1. Take all the list of keywords
  2. Check the top 100 rankings for each keyword on a daily basis
  3. Repeat for a minimum of 10 days, preferably 30 days if time allows

The above will allow you to get a sense of:

  • Which sites and competitors are ranking higher and lower than you on average
  • How consistent your (or your client’s) competitors rankings are for your targeted search phrases

Once the data is gathered, you should be able to create a plot like the following:

atrios1 Click to enlarge image.

The graph above shows the average ranking trend in Google for agencies in the creative design market in the UK collected using AuthorityLabs over 10 days.

While there is some fluctuation, we can see that the rankings are fairly consistent with little variation other than designbybridge.com which seems to be getting worse.

Atrios2

Click to enlarge image.

The above shows the standard deviation which practically measures the rankings fluctuation. It’s quite interesting that designbybridge.com has the 2nd highest standard deviation, which makes sense given that it partly reflects its deteriorating form.

Competitor Research Tips

The biggest mistake that any SEO can make is to only look at what their leading competitors are doing. Why? Imagine if the leading sites in Google UK all have landing copy that is on average 500 words, looking at the leaders you would then suppose that your 200 worded landing page needs to be beefed up to 500 words right?

Wrong! By checking the rankings and the ranking factor) of the sites consistently ranking lower than you’d be able to test whether, the landing page word count is indeed a ranking factor and to what degree.

We’ve covered this is excruciating detail here, however the key takeaway is that you should check the ranking factors of your competitors consistently ranking below you and not just the leading group.

TIP: To start you need to evaluate, for each competitor:

  • SEO strategies – full site, on page and off page
  • Backlink analysis
  • Content strategies
  • Keyword utilization

There are so many variables that can impact rankings. Try to determine which factors work for others and which factors you have forgotten.

Beyond Google

There is Amazon A9 and highly anticipated Facebook search engine. With regard to Amazon A9 which has developed a rather lucrative ecosystem for marketers to sell other manufacturers products (known as private labelling), there are lot of theories as to what makes the Amazon A9 algorithm tick.

Atrios3

While AuthorityLabs doesn’t advertise the fact that their technology can be used for finding the ranking URLs of products in those engines, and that there are tools that are specifically geared to tracking Amazon A9 product search results like Jungle Scout. We use AuthorityLab’s API for the simple fact that you can get the Amazon URL of a product. The Amazon A9 tool market from what we have seen is quite embryonic meaning we haven’t seen ranking API tools, which is indicative of the relatively young thriving community of the Amazon Reseller community.

We haven’t yet attempted Facebook but to get the ranking URL for Amazon A9, all you need is the unique product number known as the ASIN number (stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number) which is unique to all products sold on Amazon. All you need to do is to:

  • Use Jungle Scout to get the top 100 ASINs for your target search phrase
  • Use the AuthorityLabs API to retrieve the Google ranking URLs

The above will give you the top 100 ranking URLs to start performing ranking factor tests and predictive modelling.

SEO Studies Need Reliable Ranking Data

For any search engine research study to deliver reliable SEO insights, the results will be heavily reliant on the quality of the ranking data. For modelling search engines including Google, we look for:

  • Accuracy – the ranking reported is most likely to be the site ranking that search engine users will see
  • Scale – the data source must be able to cope with numerous requests on demand i.e. multiple sites simultaneously, multiple keywords
  • API – the collection of the data must be convenient to collect and feed our machine learning algorithms

While traffic and other metrics are important for evaluating the success of any SEO campaign, rankings data remain relevant despite:

  • Seasonality – rankings are unlikely to be affected by different hours of the days, days of the week, or months of the year i.e. search engines are unlikely to deploy a July algorithm!
  • Economic cycles –For any given country, for any given year, the algorithm is highly unlikely to change because of the economic circumstances.

The limit of your predictive modelling for SEO is the limit of your knowledge in terms of the ranking factor tests you want to run in order to identify what works for Google, Amazon A9 and other search engines. As long you have reliable data sources like AuthorityLabs, you can use artificial intelligence to help you identify patterns that lead to higher (and lower) rankings.

How to Use the Upcoming Big Game For Marketing Without a Big Budget

superbowl 2016

Update: We were informed using the official name of the football game being played on February 7th is prohibited unless stating facts about it, so the article now uses the terms “the game” and “big game”.

Each year businesses large and small prepare for the biggest football game of the year, the Super Bowl. Along with the athletes, marketers have lots to prepare for. Many marketing opportunities come with this game, whether you’re putting together a $4 million commercial or preparing a $100 Facebook Ads campaign there are conversions to be made. Fear not small budget advertisers, just because you don’t have massive advertising budget doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the holiday for marketing.

Each of the following can help drive traffic and increase engagement by using the event.

Create an Offer That Aligns With the Big Game

Take advantage of the the game as an excuse to offer discounts, release new promo codes, and/or create an exclusive offer for existing customers. You can even create a landing page to host a promotion or football game-themed giveaway to collect new leads and increase website traffic.

Timing for this type of offer can make or break it. Wait until after the two teams have been decided for the big game and the excitement really begins. Have marketing materials such as graphics and content ready weeks prior so once the final games have been played and the teams are announced you can take advantage of the hype and release a biggame-sized offer.

Screenshot at Jan 25 14-39-15

Take a Poll on Social Media For the Winning Team

Making bets on social media may be frowned upon coming from a business. Instead, create a friendly poll listing who will be playing and of course the “I don’t care, I’m here for the burgers” option. If creating a poll is too complex, tweet the question. Ask on social media who your fans and customers think is going to win and engage in the conversation.

Screenshot at Jan 25 14-39-57

If you have a Facebook Advertising budget, split up some of your Promoted Posts budget to include a post/poll like this. It won’t necessarily drive traffic to a website, nor increase sales, but it will increase exposure as engagement grows rapidly on a topic like the winning team.

Write a Blog Post About the Game

You may be thinking, “my business sells bath products, how can I relate that to the game and write a blog post?” Well, after playing a mighty big game, and hosting a big Super Bowl party, a cleansing shower using top of the line bath products, like yours, is mandatory. Find unique ways to relate your business and industry to the Super Bowl. Get creative, without stretching too far, and develop a blog post full of Super Bowl keywords (“full” in a legal, and non-annoying manner).

Screenshot at Jan 25 14-40-46

Send Email Newsletters Leading Up to the Game

Do you send bi-monthly or monthly email newsletters? Make the theme of your regular email newsletter about the game. Include the big game promotion, contest, and the blog post to relate everything to the the big day, as well as share content that has already been created. Leading up to the game, share the current stats from the social media poll to get people excited and engaged about the poll, as well as invite new subscribers to make their vote.

Design an Infographic Using Previous Game Stats

Dig through statistics from the first ever big gam to the most recent to discover unique information worth sharing in an infographic. The infographic is great for sharing and can help bring traffic to your website if the infographic is hosted on a blog post. Cover different topics and stats such as:

  • What team has played in this game the most?
  • What team has won most?
  • Average views from the first game to 2015
  • Viewer demographics
  • Cities who have hosted the event the most
Screenshot at Jan 25 14-41-41

Shoot a Short Game Promo Video (Think Commercials)

Even if you don’t have $4 million for a 30-second commercial during the the game, you can still create fun and exciting commercials to post online. Advertise a product or your business as you normally would in the video, but with giving it a “big game” edge. Humor has proven to do the best in big game commercials so make sure to include a funny angle to the short video and relate it to the big game. Share the video across social media, in blog posts, on YouTube, and even snippets on Snapchat.

Add a Football to Each of Social Media Graphics the Week of the Game

If you’re doing social media right, you should be branding your graphics. Branding graphics doesn’t mean copy and paste logos all over each image, but it’s about creating a specific style with each graphic and image posted, something that followers can recognize you by.

Take this idea and add a twist by adding football graphics or using the colors of the teams on social media posts the week prior to the game. Get in the “Social” spirit and have fun with different football-themed graphics that relate to post content.

Use Facebook Advertising to Boost New Content

Facebook Advertising is a great way to promote your new big game blog post, football-themed graphics, and best of all the a game contest. With or without a large advertising budget, any business can still take advantage of this game using Facebook Ads. Marin Software data showed last year’s Super Bowl Sunday Facebook Ads had a 9% higher click-through rate than previous Sundays in January and a 415% increase of conversions. A majority of those conversions were on mobile, so make sure to include mobile as a part of the Facebook Ads campaign and run the ad during the game on Sunday.

Take the Game to Twitter

Have your phone in hand and be ready to follow the millions (yes, millions) of ball game tweets on February 7. Using the company’s Twitter handle respond to tweets about the game and join in on the conversation, the many conversations. Last year, there were 28.4 million tweets related to the Super Bowl, and we can expect that number to be even higher this year. When trying to keep up with the madness, keep in mind that you’re speaking as the company. Make sure to leave a good impression, use Twitter grammar, and be human when keeping up with the game.

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Grow Your Email List With These 9 Tips

Each morning as we sip our coffee we sift through our inbox. It used to be the newspaper, but now we’re prone to everything digital and with the help of mobile we can literally check our email from anywhere. Having that capability is reason alone to want to grow email subscribers and reach a larger audience through email marketing. Combine a large list of subscribers with effective content and you’re looking to increase conversions.

When done correctly email marketing has huge opportunities for conversions, whether it be event sign ups, online sales, or increasing foot traffic. The ROI for email marketing averages 4,300% for businesses in the U.S. and is claimed to be one of the most effective marketing tactics for awareness, acquisition, conversion, and retention.

Take advantage of the many opportunities that come with email marketing by first building a solid list of relevant contacts, and continuously adding new subscribers with these tips:

1. Dig Through Existing Databases

Use the resources you already have to grow an email list by adding email addresses from customer contact information you’ve received in the past. An existing customer database can be a goldmine for email marketing. Start with the basics and use pre­-existing customers to began building an email list.

2. Reach Out to New Affiliates

Help the email list continue to grow by working with affiliates. Working with affiliates is like sharing databases and can be beneficial to both parties. Not only will you receive leads based on your demographic by working with affiliates, but your email list can grow tremendously to an audience you wouldn’t have had access to before.

There are affiliates available for every type of industry. Use the tips below to help find the right affiliate for your company:

  • Google Search For Affiliates:​ The quickest way to find a solid list of affiliates related to a specific industry is by simply searching for them online. Do thorough background research and compile a list of different affiliates before reaching out.
  • Add a Page For Affiliates: A​dding a page made just for affiliates on a website not only tells people that you work with affiliates, but that the business is available for new partnerships.
  • Network Between Affiliates:​ After building a solid relationship with a few different affiliates, try reaching out to them for new partnership recommendations. The more affiliates you work with, the more lead lists and emails you can access.

3. Include a Link on Email Signatures

A simpler way to increase email subscribers is by adding a “Subscribe” link on email signatures. Make the extra line mandatory for everyone in the office so each email that is sent out gives people the opportunity to subscribe. The more people who have the subscribe link on their signatures, the more exposure and chance of new subscribers.

4. Add an Opt-In Form to the Website

Whether you use a pop­up box or a neat little form at the top of your website, every website should have an opt­-in form to collect emails with. Each time a person fills out an opt-in form you’re not only receiving another email subscriber, but also gathering lead information.

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In order for someone to want to fill out the form or pop­up box, you’ll need to define a clear call to action. Promote an offer in the call to action or give an enticing reason why your email newsletter is valuable to a specific demographic. These are a few of the many different call to actions you can include:

  • “Subscribe now and receive exclusive deals delivered straight to your inbox.”
  • “Sign up for our newsletter and be entered to win in our monthly drawing.”
  • “Become a real fan by subscribing to our newsletter and unlock exclusive specials and updates.”
  • “Discover our next location by subscribing to our newsletter.”
  • “Want our next webinar delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for our webinar newsletter.”
  • “Sign up today and receive exclusive updates about our next webinar.”

5. Use Old Fashioned Pen and Paper

Do you have a storefront or multiple locations? If so, you can easily leave a notebook or notepad on the front desk and encourage people to leave their email address to sign up for the newsletter, which of course offers exclusive specials, updates, and deals. This is a much softer approach and can have greater success with specific industries such as the health, boutique, and food industries.

6. Host a Webinar

Webinars are a great way to drive traffic and collect new subscribers. Promote the webinar on Facebook by B​oosting Posts​ and on each social media channel. Make sure the webinar topic is something your demographic would actually be interested in, such as a common inquiry or FAQ’s customers have. Use the webinar to explain a process and make it educational. The more exciting and informational the webinar topic is, the greater the chance of webinar sign ups and new subscribers.

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7. Include Information on Social Media Graphics

When designing a cover photo for social media, designate a specific section of the graphic to include how to sign up for a “Monthly Newsletter”. Add a caption to include a subscription call to action, including what the benefits of signing up are. If you use a different graphic for the Twitter cover photo than the LinkedIn and Facebook cover, use a different call to action to match the different graphics.

8. Run a Social Media Contest

Social media contests are a great way to collect email addresses. Using third party apps or landing pages, create a contest that requires users to fill out a form. Requiring a form fill-out will force users to provide their most up-to-date email address. Not all email addresses associated with social media accounts are active or used regularly. That’s why it’s important to require email address as required part of the entry for a social media contest.

9. Ask People to Subscribe on Social Media

Don’t ever underestimate the power of social media. Simply posting a snippet of an email newsletter on social media will give a preview to users of what they can expect by subscribing. For the best results, you’ll want to give followers an incentive to subscribe by tweeting and posting special offers for subscribing and what’s in it for them. Use a shortened link, relevant hashtags, and reach out to groups on social media to reach a larger audience.

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These are just a few of the many ways you can grow your email list. Do you have special tips and tricks for how to receive new subscribers? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!

** Remember to always ask permission and provide an optional box to check when collecting and using email addresses for newsletters.

Google Knowledge Graph & Rich Snippets – AuthorityLabsLive Recap, Video, Podcast

This episode of #AuthorityLabsLive was originally streamed live on January 13 with featured guest Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting and hosted by Melissa Fach, produced by Michelle Stinson Ross. Below we a have a quick written recap and the video from the hangout.

The Recap

Melissa Fach: What are rich snippets and knowledge graph results in search?

Eric starts out by showing examples of the differences between knowledge graph results and featured snippet results. You will want to be sure and watch the video to see his screen shares. Both types of search results feature at the top of the page ahead of paid and organic placements. Rich snippets in particular are what the name implies, snippets of content from a single web page. The snippet has been deemed the best answer to the question posed in the search query and includes the link to the full page where the snippet of content was found. A knowledge graph result, however, tends to be information gleaned from all over the web and presented with no link to a specific page. These results seem to be more along the lines of “common knowledge” or public domain information. The example Eric shows is a result for the query, “how many quarts in a gallon.” In this case there is no one page that can say they are an authority on or owner of that specific information. The easiest way to tell them apart is to look for a link to more. If that link is to a specific page quoted in the result, then it’s a rich snippet.

Melissa Fach: If a site owner wanted to get a featured result, what would you recommend?

Eric says that there are a few simple things site owners/developers can do to earn a featured placement. First, identify a simple, straight-forward question in your market space. Then, craft an equally simple and straight-forward answer to that question. The content that you’re preparing needs to be a full answer to the question and address related issues with that particular question and answer occurring somewhere on that page in a very focused spot. That answer could be a bulleted list or a paragraph, but it needs to be very easy for both users and Google to find on the page. You also need to get that page ranking organically within the top 10 for that query. Some sort of focal authority and reasonable overall quality of the entire website need to exist. Google won’t look at a poor quality site for a rich snippet result.

Melissa Fach: Do Siri, Cortana, and Google Voice search present the same information as a desktop search?

According to the study they did at Stone Temple Consulting, a Google voice search was more likely to present a rich snippet result than a desktop search for the same query. For Bing’s Cortana on the other hand was less likely to respond with rich response than a desktop Bing search. Google was definitely king of the hill when it came to overall percentages of response with a rich result, Siri came in second, Bing third.

Michelle Stinson Ross: Please tell us about the increase in presentation of rich snippet results over the time you have been studying this.

Image provided by StoneTemple.com

Image provided by StoneTemple.com

Over the period of the study, they’ve seen a increase of about 45% in rich answer results of some kind, either a rich snippet attributed to a particular page or a general knowledge unattributed result. He says that if they ran this test again right now, they would expect to see another significant uptick in these types of rich results. Generally speaking, Google finds that the rich answers are working very well for them. For Google it is all about the success in user engagement and experience. Google’s revenue goes up whenever they get better user engagement. This is not something that is going to go away like some of the other results they’ve tested and then dropped.

Eric had a great deal of specific data and information to share about how this “super organic placement” works and how SEOs and businesses need to implement content to earn these types of search results. Be sure and check out the entire video or listen to the podcast, and share your thoughts in the comments below.

Video and Podcast