Blackhat SEO mistakes header banner

Top 3 SEO mistakes marketers are making in 2017

In Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), the term ‘Black Hat’ refers to the use of unethical SEO strategies which are used by digital marketers to manipulate organic keyword rankings on a search engine result page (SERP). These strategies generally violate a search engines terms and can lead to penalties for the infringements, which can include being removed from the search engine entirely.

SEO done correctly can be incredibly cost effective here in New Zealand. With a lower level of competition on search engines such as Google you can make big inroads for low spend. And unlike PPC there’s no ongoing cost. We believe SEO is the cornerstone of any successful digital marketing strategy for any business. So it’s important that you focus time and energy on SEO and it’s equally important that you’re not making mistakes that could be hindering your progress.

If you’re not seeing the results and you’ve been working on your optimisation for while you could be guilty of implementing one of the following top 3 SEO mistakes:

SEO Mistake 1 - Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is a practice which consists of intentionally overusing specific keywords in order to manipulate search engines to rank you higher organically.

Here is an example of a sentence with ‘Keyword Stuffing’ and one without:

Without Keyword Stuffing (Good)
"If you are interested in Digital Marketing, then you may want to subscribe to our mailing list for the latest tips, tricks and upcoming industry trends."

With Keyword Stuffing (Bad)
"If you are interested in Digital Marketing, then you may want to subscribe to our Digital Marketing mailing list for the latest Digital Marketing tips, tricks and upcoming Digital Marketing trends."

At NZ Digital Marketing we encourage the regular/natural use of primary keywords when writing web content for SEO. However, in saying that there have been instances where people go overboard with primary keywords and repeat it over and over in their page copy hoping that it will impact their search rankings.

Do NOT do this. Instead create a list of primary keywords, phrases and LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords which your target audience may use. You can then sprinkle these around your web content rather than stuffing the same keyword continuously.

Remember, the key is to write naturally, be aware of your keywords and plan accordingly yes but try not to over focus on your keyword.

SEO Mistake 2 – Low Quality Backlinks

Low quality or non-credible links mostly apply to external links which direct traffic to your website. Most people think that gaining links from random websites or directories will be beneficial to their businesses organic ranking on search engines. This is not the case, if anything; this approach can be detrimental to your rankings.

One of Google’s main ranking factors over the past five years has been quality external links. Backlinks to your website act as an endorsement. To simplify the process and this explanation SEO experts MOZ developed ‘Domain Authority Score. Ranked out of 100, the higher your website scores, the more credible search engines see your website. You can use the MOZ Open Site Explorer tool to find your domain authority score.

For businesses implementing a link building strategy, the objective is to obtain and build external links from websites which have a high domain authority and are relevant to your sector. e.g. a car firm having a backlink from a car parts or transport website is good, a link from a woman’s clothing store is not. One or two irrelevant links are unlikely to have a negative impact on their own but get to many and Google may start to take note.

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5 great infographics and their content benefits

Everyone has seen infographics (or information graphics) floating around the web. Either on a company’s website or more likely on Social Media. They often look fantastic but what’s the point of them? And should you be utilising them as part of your digital marketing or content marketing strategy?

We may not be looking hard enough but infographics in New Zealand seem in short supply compared to other significant digital markets. That means there could be real opportunity to make your mark, make your content ‘pop’ and stand out from your competitors.

Standing out and making your content ‘pop’ are just two infographic benefits. Let’s take a look at a few other significant benefits:

5 Infographic Benefits

  • #1 Brand engagement. We consume hundreds nay thousands of pieces of content every day online but what makes us stop and look? A visually appealing or unique design coupled with well-written copy can be the difference between engagement and acknowledgement or a scroll straight past.
  • #2 Brand awareness. A beautiful infographic with great content, distributed correctly can go viral, generating shares and seeding out across social channels and websites across the glove. Get the idea and execution right and let your audience do your advertising for you.
  • #3 Search Engine Rankings and backlinks. Even if they don’t go viral infographics are very shareable. Sharing and distributing your infographic on other websites can have a positive impact on your link building and subsequently your SEO results. It’s also very easy to help others embed your infographic on their website.
  • #4 Increased social metrics e.g. followers. Visuals can help you stand out from the crowd on your social channels. More often than not a beautiful graphic will engage more than standard copy. It’s a really effective way of generating more likes, follows or subscribers. The more you have the more people you have to share your next one. A beautiful endless cycle.
  • #5 Make complex or ‘boring’ content come to life. Infographics when harnessed right can be an incredibly powerful tool in helping convey relevant information your audience. This information in another form may be much less palatable and unappealing in another form. Say a graph, table or plain text. Make it easy to understand and easy to consume and the benefits will follow.

So now we know some of the benefits we’ve found five unique and inspiring approaches to the art of infographic development.

5 inspiring infographics from around the world

How Marketers Create and Consume Content

Content marketing infographic

Newscred Insights created this fantastic example of an infographic and GIF (infoGIF). This quite literally brings their data to life in an engaging and unique fashion.

The data is presented alongside striking yet simple illustrations that draw your eye to each section. Each section is built as a module so that should Newscred – or anyone else – wish to share or use it they can break down the sections and use only the data relevant to them. Despite this GIF format they can go completely static for social use.

Website Testing

Web browser resolution infographic

Webbymonks award winning infographic on testing web design is a stunning example of an interactive HTML infographic. It makes great use of illustration and adds just a dose of interactivity so as to engage, but not distract.

Whilst this infographic is not easily shared outside of the page like with a static graphic it more than makes up for it in technical achievement. They also picked a topic that is of interest to digital and tech types and then did something they did something visually and technically that they knew would appeal to that market. A fantastic example of audience targeting and maximising your reach potential.

A Well Balanced Blog

Blogging food infographic

We go old school now. A completely static infographic from Column Five Media for LinkedIn.

This graphic is quite unique in the world of data visualisation due to the inclusion of photography opposed to the usual illustration or iconography. This instantly elevates the design and helps it stand-out. This is a prime example of taking a clever idea that targets bloggers and marketers (communities known for sharing and seeding content) and then doing something unique with it to further encourage that engagement.

With the graphic being static and not overly long in height it’s prime for social sharing as well as link sharing and embedding. In short, the perfect combination to help increase your brand awareness, engagement and SEO link building.

Common Mythconceptions

Common mythconceptions infographic

London based data visualisation specialists Information is Beautiful are in the infographic business and they do it very well. We could have picked any number of their examples from their site but we went with their interactive myth busting beauty.

Another example of an interactive graphic insofar that you are able to filter your categories to break-up the data into smaller chunks. The graphic itself is very simple, using basic but effective iconography and a pastel colour palette. Whilst not the most stunning infographic on this list it more than makes up for that by presenting a topic that has the potential to appeal to everyone - read: very shareable. Interesting information spread over 2-3 short lines of copy. Perfect.

New Zealand Visitor Experience

New Zealand tourism infographic

We go back to a static to round out the top five with an example of a New Zealand infographic. Whilst this example from Tourism New Zealand doesn’t quite stack up visually in comparison to others on this list. What it does do though is show that an infographic doesn’t have to have a high concept or be interactive to help get your information across.

The data being presented in another format would struggle to generate engagement but this modular designs allows Tourism NZ to chop up their data and share as one graphic or sixteen smaller ones. An added benefit to this approach is you won’t have trouble filling your social media content calendar for a while.

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Generating leads with targeted PPC landing pages

A few years ago I was working for a global healthcare company and we were delivering some pretty outstanding results. We were number one in the UK digital space for our industry and we were generating leads at around a 540% increase year-on-year.

There wasn’t just one factor that helped us achieve this, but a big proponent was introducing joined up PPC and landing page campaigns. In the past the organisation had been used to letting a digital agency manage their PPC accounts from a technical point and they’d just use an existing webpage as their landing page.

Now, there are some time and cost related benefits to doing this, if you're website has product pages that are optimised perfectly as both landing and site pages for example. For many organisations this approach will not yield the fantastic results you’re looking for, in effect your asking your webpage to do (at least) two jobs.

The company I was working for had offices all over the world all at different stages in the digital lifecycle and the achievements being made in the UK had been noticed. I was asked to start helping out some of the developing nations in Europe and one of the big focal points was the German market. On my final day working for this company I decided to write a blog that could be shared with my German colleagues and anyone else that needed it, a parting gift.

The lack of dedicated and target landing pages aligned with your PPC accounts is something I continue to see in the UK and certainly something that is being replicated here in New Zealand so it seemed as good a time as any to dust off the blog.

Before we go any further I must warn you that this was written around 4 years ago and having re-read it and made some adjustments the theory here is still valid today but it is a high level overview and doesn’t factor in the shift to mobile devices, social proofing and software advances. Still if you’re struggling to generate this maybe a good jumping off point.

Why develop a joined up landing page and PPC campaign?

If you walked down the high street and saw your perfect pair of jeans in a shop window you’d go into the shop right? Once you were in there you’d expect to find that pair of jeans pretty easily? What if you walked in and they sold nothing but pet products? You’d leave immediately and never go back, no question mark required.

Great AdWord adverts can be achieved in-house or with agencies but a great advert is only as good as the product and the packaging. You may have the perfect formula for your adverts and you’re generating thousands of clicks for a low spend but if everyone of those people visiting your site then leave without spending money or providing their details then your fantastic advert is wasted, along with your budget. Likewise if you have an amazing landing page no one is visiting it.

So you need to get both of them working for each other, great advert + great targeted landing page = results.

So where do you start?

#1 Determine what you are selling and what content do I need?

The most important thing you need to determine for your campaign is “What are we trying to sell?” “What is the page and the campaign going to be about?” Only you can answer these questions, you need to make a decision on what proposition works best for your market and for your audience in New Zealand.

What do you think people will respond to best? Is it a page about how you are giving free samples? Is it a page about your newest product? Is it selling the benefits of your company? Or is it a mix of all of them?

If you answered “a mix of them” that’s great but you still need to prioritise what it is you want to focus on and use the other aspects as back up. For example, lots of landing pages try to mix a lot of messages, this can work but if you’re starting from scratch then you should have one core focus and use the others as support to help push the user to convert.

To help make your decision on what to target you should ensure you do your keyword research first. You want to make sure people are going to be searching for your products before you start. If no one is searching for it then you can have the best page in the world but you won’t have any traffic!

#2 Build and design a landing page or two

For this guide I’m not going to attempt to provide a list of key points you need to make your landing page a success, there is probably a nice long list I can put together to compliment this but it would be far from exhaustive.

The truth is there is no perfect secret formula to a successful landing page, it will be different for every website, market, country and that is why it’s incredibly important to test everything you do (covered in part 2 of this guide). I can however give you some quick tips on page layout to help you on the way.

When a user has clicked your AdWord advert you already have some information about them. You know they have typed in one of your keywords and you know they have been interested enough in your advert to want to learn more. So you now need to ensure that when the person lands on your page they are seeing the imagery, copy and content that is relevant to the advert they clicked. Below is a great info-graphic on landing page layout – you can click it to see the full size version. This type of layout may not work for every market but it’s a great starting point.

Perfect landing page info-graphic

The info-graphic supports what I’ve mentioned above in terms of ensuring that the user sees what they are expecting to see once they have clicked the advert and tying in the copy to make everything relevant.

You can see there is a banner image immediately visible with a strong relevant heading and strong supporting message, this should keep them reading. There is then a nice sized chunk of text broken up with bullet points to really start to sell your product or service. You should aim to have as much of your key content above the fold. This is the part of the page visible without scrolling down. Having your core content here ensures that most users will see everything they are expecting to see as soon as they click into your website. The equivalent of having your amazing pair of jeans right next to the door of the shop!

In terms of building a page like this you have a few options. If you have a flexible CMS system you can build it with your existing building blocks. You can pay an agency to build a new page or you can use an out-of-the-box landing page software package such as Unbounce.

#3 Writing great copy and relevant content

Once you have decided what you have focused on in terms of your proposition content you can then begin to plan out what exactly that content will be. In terms of structure and layout of the content you can roughly follow the advice provided in point 2, especially if you’re just starting out.

You’ve already determined your keywords and your focus points but now to you need to determine what it is you want your users to do, what action do you want them to take? This is easier said than done but try to put yourself in the shoes of your customer, what is that you would want to be reading. Your content and copy should have one defined goal, to help facilitate the user to take action e.g. fill in a form or buy a product.

We know the users on the page are interested in your proposition or they wouldn’t have clicked your advert. So start with a strong title, then a strong follow up copy re-affirming what it is you want your users to know. I’d recommend maybe trying no more than 300 words for your first test and see how well this performs, each audience will be different, older audiences will tend to read more whilst younger much less.

Talk about the benefits of the product or service and use copy that reassures the user that this is the best place to be for this service. If you’re selling hearing aids for example talk about how small they are and how no one will ever see them, about all the technology packed inside or how easy they are to use.

If you don’t have the luxury of being able to leverage your well-known brand then to you need to talk about  the benefits of your company over a competitor, one of the wonderful things about the New Zealand digital market is that the competition is low so do some competitor research and really sell your USP’s. It could be that the user is happy with your information about your product but isn’t sure about why to choose you, make it easy for them with a bulleted list for example.

Finish your page with a strong call to action, whether this is a button, text, link or form make sure it is clear that the user knows what they are supposed to do next. If you don’t tell people what to do you’re reliant on them doing it themselves. Don’t let your users make their own decisions!

Imagery should support your content. If you’re advertising a laptop use a quality image that re-affirms what you’ve said about it on your advert e.g. if it’s thin show how thin it is. This sort of imagery will tend to be more powerful than a stock image. Test a few images just to be sure.

Don’t be afraid to test linking to other areas of your site, although don’t mix this advice up with adding too many links, you want to keep your page relatively distraction free. If a user wants to move around your website and learn more before making a decision then great. The primary goal is of course to get the conversion on the page there and then but for lots of products and services this isn’t viable. However, if your site is a disaster area that a user will immediately get lost on then perhaps give it second thought, or test it first.

Think of your landing page as your key website information in a microcosm.

That’s it for part 1 in part 2 we will cover off getting your AdWords campaign right, testing, testing and testing more and finally measuring your success and an action plan.