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Search engine marketing

      How Does Google Rank You, Anyway?  You don’t need a marketing diploma to know that where you rank in Google's (or Bing's) search results matters. In fact, over 50% of people click on the first listing Google serves them, according to these  2018 stats from Smart Insights . This varies by industry and how many words someone uses to find what they're looking for.  If you want to get the coveted top spot, you need to do some work to reach—and stay—in that first Google search position. This article will help you understand how Google ranks sites and how you can improve your position.  Understanding Google's algorithm  No doubt you’ve heard the word "algorithm" in reference to your web presence. And you may have some sense of what it does. But, really, what  is  an algorithm? Simply put, a search algorithm is a set of factors (more than 200 of them, in Google's case!) designed to establish two things: authority and relevancy of your website. Though human-made, the algorithm is computer-run, and it is also constantly changing in an effort to improve results. We should also tell you that Google's exact algorithm is a closely-guarded secret; akin only to KFC's chicken recipe (which, btw, may have been  accidentally revealed  last year).  The reason Google’s algorithm (and that of other search engines) is so often talked about is that it determines how you rank in search results. The algorithm decides who is listed first—you or one of your competitors. And  as Neil Patel points out , "Given that Google handles over  2 trillion searches  per year (that's about 40,000 every second), even the smallest changes to their algorithm can have a massive impact on any given site."  How can I make my website rank better?  Entire careers are built on this question. Even though we don't know the recipe for their secret sauce, we do know the key ingredients. While no one knows Google’s exact algorithm, we have a good sense of how to get a site ranking better. We’ve had several clients come to us who were concerned about their poor ranking. Fixing this problem isn’t rocket science, you just need to roll up your sleeves and give it at least a few months to take effect. Here’s how we’ve turned around poor rankings for our clients:   1.    Evaluate your website  Before you can improve your site, you’ll need to know exactly what you’re dealing with. Be sure to document this baseline so you have a comparative later. Bearing in mind that whatever the algorithm, Google is searching for sites with authority and relevancy, take the time for a comprehensive review. This article can help you  assess your website’s performance and correct weaknesses .     2.    Is your content comprehensive?  For some time, in an effort to beat the algorithm, people infused their content with specific keywords that were alleged to drive traffic. Over time, though, this resulted in the web being over-run with poorly written, difficult-to-understand or off-topic articles. It became clear that what reads well for computers doesn’t necessarily work for human users.  More recently, Google tweaked their algorithm to measure content more qualitatively. Using keywords in your website copy is still very important but first and foremost, your site needs to work for your customers and buyers. So think about the keywords your audience uses to find you, and ensure they are included in the headlines of your website.   But it doesn't end there. It's also widely known that Google favours websites that are regularly updated with good quality content. For this exact reason, we produce blog posts for 100% of our clients. Generally speaking, we aim to publish a monthly post, which even the smallest of companies can pull off. Not only does the blog tell Google you are a subject matter expert, it's also instills a greater sense of credibility to buyers visiting your website. Plus, it gives you something to talk about on social media. Win-win-win!   3.    Check your metadata  This one’s a bit counter-intuitive. Metadata doesn’t directly improve your rankings anymore (it used to). What it does do is help others, both robot and human, find and navigate your site. And the resulting traffic (ie. people visiting your site) contributes to your ranking. So it's a round-about thing.  What you should do is check your the page title and description you have for each page, all image descriptions for visually-impaired site visitors and robots, and the content structure to make sure you’re in tip-top shape for your visitors. To check your website's page titles and page descriptions (or lack thereof) simply enter your URL.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Here is an example of a good listing:     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      4.    Increase the number of sites linking to your website  Inbound links—especially from reputable websites—tell Google that you are an authority on that subject matter. The more "referral" links from reputable sources on that topic, the better you’ll rank for that very subject when people search for it. Another thing that can improve your ranking is to get highly regarded websites to link to your site. The higher their domain authority, the better the juju they'll give you. You can  find out a website's domain authority using Moz's awesome free tool . (See what we did there? We just gave Moz a little juju by linking to them—not that they needed any more.) Just beware that savvy websites use something called a "no follow" link, which gives you zero juju. If you suspect they are sufficiently advanced, ask that they give you a "do follow" link. There's no harm in asking, right?  Unfortunately, even being the best in your category isn’t going to attract these sweet inbound links. Just like in the real world, you’re going to need to do a bit of networking and sales. Note that the emphasis is on quality, so skip the link farms and look into outreach, targeted PR and offering to pen guest posts for industry blogs (perhaps for an industry association or digital publication).   5.    Take a look "under the hood" of your website  Though this is probably the least sexy task of the bunch, it’s crucial that your site is technically up-to-snuff. Do your pages load quickly? Are you optimized for mobile browsing? Is your site up-to-date with the latest Google guidelines so it can be crawled and properly indexed? Search engines like Google want to give searchers a great experience. If your site doesn’t deliver because it is frustratingly slow, or isn’t optimized for mobile, they won’t send traffic your way for long.     Now that you have an overview of what it takes to woo the algorithm, dig a bit deeper starting with our blog  5 ingredients for ranking first on Google . And if all this seems a bit overwhelming, we can help you. Improving your website's ranking is definitely do-able—it just takes some strategic TLC.

How Does Google Rank You, Anyway?

You don’t need a marketing diploma to know that where you place in a user’s search results matters. In fact, a full 95% of people click on the first listing Google serves them. This article will give you the basics to understand how Google ranks your site and how you can improve your position.

      The truth about mobile-friendly websites in B2B  In our work with mature small B2Bs we sometimes find ourselves debunking myths about the role of mobile in lead generation. We also hear horror stories about attempts to build mobile-friendly sites that went terribly wrong. If you are a B2B, here are some important truths and nuances about mobile.   Myth: lead generation doesn't happen on mobile   Forget investing in a comprehensive mobile strategy, some B2Bs strongly believe having even a mobile-friendly website isn't important for their business.   Could they be right?   The answer is best found in their website data. For our clients, visitors viewing the website on a mobile device ranges between 10% and 40% of their total traffic. Across the board, this traffic source has consistently grown over the past few years, and we can confidently predict traffic from mobile will continue to grow as a percentage of overall traffic. But even considering the low end, 10% of visitors is too large a number to ignore when you calculate how much goes into attracting these visitors in the first place.  Some people have expressed to us that people coming to their site through mobile aren't "real" buyers. But the stats say otherwise: not only are people doing their work at all times of day and night, they are also using their phone to conduct their buying research.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     In 2015, Google reported that 49% of B2B buyers who are using their mobile devices to do product research are actually doing so while at work. What's more, if you increase your marketing activity, this number is likely to lift.   One of our clients has gone from 10% of traffic coming in via mobile in 2012 to 42% in 2016 as a result of publishing more content, being more active social media and running more digital ads. And, of course, we have to account for the change in buyer behaviour that everyone is seeing as being a factor too.  At Hop Skip, we build mobile-friendly sites for all of our clients, no matter how big or small they are. If you are not well versed in website development, you may not know the difference between a mobile website and a responsive website. This nuance was the downfall of a B2B owner we spoken with a few weeks ago. He hired a web designer to create a mobile site as part of his website refresh, when what he wanted was a responsive site.    What is the difference between a responsive website and a mobile website?    A responsive site  is a website that's coded to  adapt  to the viewer's screen size (desktop, tablet, and mobiles of all sizes). Most, if not all, of the site content and functionality are available to the mobile visitor.   A mobile website  is a distinct copy of your website that is slimmed down for mobile users. When someone looks at your site using a mobile device, the server will show them the mobile website rather than the desktop version.  Mobile sites are becoming a thing of the past because responsive sites are more user friendly for visitors and administrators. Also, having a responsive site increases the likelihood that your site will be included in search results when someone is Googling on their mobile device because search engines are rewarding companies that have responsive sites.    Responsive sites are a must-have for selling in B2B. If your current site isn’t responsive, it’s time to change that so that you don’t miss out on leads or opportunities to engage customers and re-engage past customers. When working with a website designer, be clear about what you want, and make sure your designer is following  the latest mobile-friendly site recommendations  released by Google.  

The truth about mobile-friendly websites in B2B

The facts don't lie: B2Bs need to pay attention to their mobile traffic. Here are some of the latest stats and terminology you need to know.

      Pay-per- click ads: What's in it for me?  Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a method of online marketing where you (as the advertiser) pay every time a user clicks on your ad, which may appear in a search engine, website or social media platform. Generally, the clicks redirect users to your website, blog, online store, app store or other landing site where you want them to be. And, for every click, you pay a fee, hence the name "pay per click".   If you don't show up at the top of a Google search result, or in a user's LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed, you're opening up the door to your competition. Take advantage of this all-important digital ad space that's available to you. Here are five reasons why:  Digital advertising is both measurable and flexible  Traditional advertising (think: print ads, fliers, etc.) has a downfall in that it's difficult to track impressions, and you can't make ad adjustments mid-delivery. PPC advertising capitalizes on the fact that you can monitor your results in real time to see exactly how your content is performing, and the types of actions that result (i.e. purchases, subscriptions, downloads, etc). You also have the flexibility to make corrections or improvements throughout the duration of the campaign based on performance, your inventory, product offering and other factors.  PPC ads drive traffic  Social media alone can be an effective way to drive traffic to your website or blog. But without incorporating PPC advertising, it might take awhile before your audiences find you, especially the right audiences. But there's more to PPC than driving users to your site. To get the best ROI, you want them to take the next step, as mentioned above, whether that be placing an order, signing up for an appointment, submitting a job application or other profitable action to you. However, ensure you're active on the landing pages you promote to ensure users can (and will) take that next step.  Digital is more easy to target  PPC ads can be targeted to your audiences based on geographic, demographic and event socio-graphic factors that you determine. This is advantageous mainly because traditional forms of advertising can (and will) draw visitors from everywhere. And, this may not appeal to you if your business is only able to serve a certain geographic area or a certain demographic.  Cost effective advertising  If you're paying for traditional advertising that may (or may not be) seen, you could be investing significant dollars into the unknown. With PPC you determine your maximum daily, monthly or lifetime budget, and only pay when someone clicks on your ad. This is contrary to traditional advertising where you pay for placement, regardless of interactions, and never really know how it performed. Take advantage of PPC by investing in marketing that generates traffic and results.  While traditional advertising still has its time and place, it can be greatly complemented by PPC options. Remember, though, that PPC takes time and effort. And, when set up and managed well, you'll be able to see profitable results. If you need assistance in setting up your first PPC campaign, or even maintaining it, contact us. We can ensure your campaigns are optimized to achieve your intended objective.

Pay-per- click ads: What's in it for me?

Wondering if your company should invest in Google AdWords or other pay-per-click ads? This is a must-read 101 on digital advertising.

      4 website best practices that boost organic search traffic  If your website is easy to discover, and easy for search engines to index, you’ll get better traffic than a competitor whose site is not. This type of web traffic is called "organic" because people are finding you naturally by typing their keywords into Google (or Bing or Explorer) and responding to the search results that pop up.  If you want to  rank first on Google  and make it easier for potential buyers to find your website, make sure you are following all four of these simple best practices:   1 \ Write strong page titles  Page titles should be no longer than 50 - 60 characters, without repeating keywords. Be descriptive and intentional with the words you use. This is what people will see in their Google results and will make or break whether they come to your site. Page titles also impact your search ranking.   2 \ Craft smart meta descriptions  This is the line of information that displays beneath the link in a search result. It describes the contents of your page, should be no longer than 155 characters and should be topical. A well-written meta description might earn you a better click-through rate (CTR), which in time  might  translate into an increase in your search rank.      

  

    

       

         

           
               
             

             
             

           

         

        
         
           

            

            
                This screen capture illustrates how page titles and meta descriptions are displayed on a search engine. The blue text is the page title, the black test is the meta description.    
            

            

           
         
        

       

    

  


    

  

    

       

         

           
               
             

             
             

           

         

        
         
           

            

            
                By contrast, here is a company that has entered the page title, but no meta data. In place of he meta description is "No information ... "    
            

            

           
         
        

       

    

  


      3 \ Be intentional with your headlines   Headlines (versus paragraph copy) distinguishes headings from page content. This helps search engines to know what your webpage is about (and thereby serve it to people when they are searching for that material). Headlines also help visitors to scan and find the information they're looking for.   Your website will have a few headline styles. H1 (headline one) will be the largest and most bold, whereas an H3 or H4 will be smaller. Use your H1s and H2s to explain what's on the page. Be sure they include keywords. Use H3s and H4s to introduce sub-sections, and make them descriptive rather than one or two words in order to help your page to rank.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      4 \ Publish frequent blog content  Finally, tick a few SEO boxes with the other content on your site. Having a blog is important for SEO (Google sees companies with lots of fresh quality content as more relevant than a stale 4-page site. Plus, it builds credibility with potential customers.   How often should you blog? Weekly would be great, but most of our clients tend toward monthly. Even quarterly is better than nothing. The more blogging you do, the more traffic you get. You'd be surprised how dramatically a blog can impact the number of people visiting (and revisiting) a website. One of our clients saw the number of visitors coming to their site skyrocket to 300% over the same 6-month period in the previous year. This was the result of publishing several articles and a white paper, and sharing them via email and social media.      Though these four best practices are simple, many organizations aren't employing them. If you and your competitors are among this group of laggards, it won't be hard for you to pull ahead. Start with the simple stuff: spend a couple hours in the back-end of your website and fix your page titles and meta descriptions. Next edit your headlines. Finally, address your blog content. Don't have one? There's no time like the present!

4 website best practices that boost organic search traffic

If you aspire to ranking first on Google, and want to make it easier for buyers to find your website, are are four simple best practices you'll want to follow.

      3 tools to evaluate your website  Trying to generate more qualified leads?  Need to improve your lead conversion rate?  Want to increase awareness of your business?  Your website is key to all of these. It has to look good, but there's more to it than this. A lot of information is hidden in the backend of your site. At Hop Skip Marketing, one of the first things we do for clients is run tests on their website to see what, if anything, needs to be fixed. These tests tell us how the site performs overall, is it "Google friendly" (aka search engine optimization, or SEO), does it look good on a smartphone? Today we're sharing some our favourite free website audit tools so that you can ensure your website is doing its job.  3 free tools to audit your website   Website Grader  This is one of our go-to tools. All you have to do is submit your website address and email and you'll get a robust report and grade. Expect key metrics like page load speed, mobile friendliness and security.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Nibbler  Another excellent tool, Nibbler provides you with a report on several key metrics including accessibility, SEO, social media and technology. It gives you an at-a-glance grade out of 10 so you can prioritize your fix-it list.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      WooRank  WooRank is a fast, easy-to-use SEO audit and digital marketing tool. They look at your site through Google’s eyes and generate an instant audit of your site’s technical, on-page and off-page SEO.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Any one of these free tools will give you insight you can't otherwise ascertain. Pick one tool, or try a couple and compare the results. Once you've pinpointed what isn't working well, you can prioritize the repairs and hand the tasks to your website designer to address. Don't be daunted— often minor changes are all that's needed to turn around a failing website grade. Run this test once a year to keep your website running like a well-oiled (marketing) machine. 

3 tools to evaluate your website

Is your website doing as good a job as it can to generate leads? Here are practical tips and free tools for evaluating and improving your site.