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Digital Business Consulting – Online Marketing and Growth

The Google Search Index and related SEO improvement

What is the Google Search Index?

When a new site and its pages are created, it’s information must be included in the Google database so that when users search on Google, those pages can be discovered and displayed in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). This Google database of sites and information on their pages is referred to as the Google Search Index.

google index

How is the Google index updated?

The Google Search Engine has crawlers (also referred to as the Googlebot) that crawls the web looking for any updates to the overall sites located in the cyberspace. These updates include new sites and their pages added, sites and their pages deleted, and updates to existing sites. The Googlebot collects this information and updates the Google Search Index with this information.

Each search query results in Google finding potentially millions of relevant pages and results. These pages are ranked and displayed in the organic search results to the end user using sophisticated search algorithms. However, before search engines and algorithms can do their magic, the Google web crawlers have to find and organize those web pages in Google’s search index. With the ever increasing amounts of information on the web, the Google Search Index is growing exponentially. Just imagine that besides all the web content that is available, the Google index has started to include pages from millions of already published books. This has made the Google index to swell to trillions of pages and is still growing. Organizing this information and then sorting through it and to rank pages is no small feat. This is where Google crawlers and search algorithms do their job.

The Googlebot is able to find all this information using website links. It follows one link to another until it’s able to get to all the websites and their pages. To be able to crawl and read the information embedded in each of the website pages, the Googlebot must be able to read the information properly. To facilitate this, Google publishes best practices and guidelines to allow the Googlebot to easily index the web pages. Although there are some technicalities to these practices, for the most part if a website is structured well for the end users, the Googlebot has no problems in reading information related to the sites and to add that information to its index.

How can Google (and Googlebot) rapidly index and rank a website and its pages?

Although there are no is no specific science that will guarantee an update and search ranking in a certain amount of time, Webmasters can take a number of steps to try to come up on the search map quickly. Here are some of those ways.

Get a Google Search Console Account

Google Search Console is a service provided by Google that can help webmasters monitor the performance of their websites in the Google search engine. A similar service is also provide by Bing as well. Although signing up for Google Search Console is not a requirement to be included in Google’s organic search results but it’s highly recommended because it allows the webmaster to monitor the performance of the site related to inclusion in the Google’s search index. Webmasters can view performance related to the search terms that drive traffic to a website, any crawl errors that the Googlebot may be experiencing due to any technical issues, HTML improvements from Google, and so on. Here are some of the primary functions that are available to a webmaster to help manage their website’s inclusion and positioning within Google Search:

  • Overall status of a website with Google Index. This includes information related to crawl errors, search analytics information, sitemap related information, etc.
  • HTML improvements recommended by Google
  • Status related to Accelerated Mobile Pages if the website is using the feature
  • Links to a website (internal and external)
  • Information related to structured data that let’s webmasters provide specific structured information to Google to ease in Google indexing
  • Any resource (web pages, files, etc.) that are perhaps blocked to be included in the Google index.
  • URL removal requests – This refers to URLs that may have been requested to be removed from the Google Index.
  • Site crawl errors that may be impeding webpages to be includes in Google’s index
  • Crawl Stats that includes information related to Pages crawled per day, webpages downloaded per day in kilobytes, and time spent downloading a page (in milliseconds).
  • Security issues – This includes information if a website is hacked and if someone has installed Malware on the site. This prevents the website’s actual pages to show up in the index or the pages are directed to other sites (stealing traffic).

The images below show some of the information related to the functions above.

Google index quick update

Google index update

Google index HTML improvement SEO

Internal  Linking

Internal links not only allows Googlebot to get to your internal pages quickly but it’s also able to assess the importance of these pages relative to others. Obviously, if a web page is more referenced (and hence internally linked) that means it’s highly valued by the website owner.

Ensure a good website structure

Similar to the earlier point, the existence of an overall structured website makes the job of the Googlebot much easier and it’s able to determine not only the structure of the site but also it can get to those pages quickly in a short span of time. The easier you can make the site accessible to users (and Googlebot), the sooner it can index those pages and make them available for organic search.

Include buttons for social shares

Another way is to include social sharing buttons on your website. This allows your readers to share content on social media sites that they like on your website on other pages thus making them more visible to Googlebot.

Get external links

As mentioned earlier, Googlebot is able to find pages through various links published either internally or on external websites. Imagine, if an external popular website that has Googlebot visiting it frequently, finds the link to a new website, then Googlebot will add it to its index rather quickly. Besides the inclusion of a link on an existing popular website also in an indication of the quality of the link and Google search uses this to rank it higher for the relevant keywords.

Website promotion

As part of their duties, webmasters should constantly be promoting a website to various directories and other places on the web. Again, the more a website and its pages are linked from external sources, the faster a website and its pages will make it to the Google Index.

Publishing of the RSS feed

Publishing an RSS feed for a blog enables interested parties to subscribe to those RSS feeds and the more they get externally referenced.

Avoid Black Hat SEO

The initial few years saw many try to guess Google Search’s functionality and attempted to devise methods to fool the search engine. However, such black hat SEO techniques are not only very much discouraged by Google but they apply penalties to sites that are known to employ such techniques. Webmasters, therefore, should not only avoid any black hat SEO techniques but should also come to know of practices that Google mat construe as unacceptable.

Periodically check Google Search Console

Webmasters should periodically check whether site pages of their interest have been indexed by Google. This can be done by checking on the Google search engine or the Google Search Console.

Stay tuned on Google Search Updates

With rapid advancements in the area of search, it’s advisable to stay updated on best practices that are published by Google, Bing, Yahoo, or other search engines of concern. The important thing to note is that even if your site ranks higher today, it may not be at the same level the next day. Google indexing rules change constantly and your websmaster must stay up to date on any recent announcements or changes by Google.

google index improvement

 

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Digital Business Consulting – Online Marketing and Growth

Understanding the basics of E-mail Marketing

This post provides the basics of Email marketing and its relationship to digital and online marketing.

E-mail marketing has been in existence since the dawn of digital marketing and that is because E-mail communications continues to dominate the Internet and online world. It would be safe to say that almost every person who is an online user has a minimum of one E-mail address that he or she uses for communicating with others. For most, E-mail continues to be be the primary platform to communicate with others. It’s for this reason that capturing digital leads is mostly about capturing users’ E-mails. These E-mails then become the basis for following up with the leads by pushing content, establishing an ongoing relationship, offer them promotions, and so on.

Some of the features of E-mail marketing systems include the following:

Auto Follow-up

This allows marketers to setup E-mail messages that automatically follow-up with users and prospects by providing them useful content and to use that as a basis to start and establish an online relationship. E-mail marketing systems allow the setup of numerous follow-up messages using a set of business rules.

Creation of lists by audiences

E-mail marketing systems allow grouping of various digital audiences in various lists thus allowing marketers to establish different follow-up rules for each of the lists that contains audiences of unique preferences and behaviors.

Availability of different E-mail Templates

The E-mail marketing systems provide various types of templates to businesses allowing them to reach different types of audiences. These templates are based on various industry types such as retail, banking, etc. and also provide various themes depending on the type of E-mail communications that an organization wishes to have with its users and the marketers overall online marketing goals.

Managing E-mail Subscribers

The E-mail marketing systems allow online marketers to manage their subscribers. This allows importing new subscribers that marketers may have gathered from elsewhere, deleting subscribers that they feel are no longer responsive to an organization’s marketing messages, further segmenting users based on certain criteria (e.g. location, engagement behavior), etc.

Email Sign-up Forms

E-mail marketing systems provide various types of E-mail sign-up forms that marketers can insert in various web pages of their websites. Each sign-up form can then be associated with a specific list.

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Digital Business Consulting – Online Marketing and Growth

What is Content Marketing?

Content Marketing, according to the  Content Marketing Institute, is defined as:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Dissecting this definition leads us to the following:

  • A strategic approach means that an organization needs to have a long term plan in place to incorporate various aspects of content marketing in its digital marketing, and sales process.
  • There must be a process related to the creation and distribution of content. This process must be tightly integrated with the product management group as well to ensure that the right content related to the organization’s products and services can be created and distributed to the right online audiences.
  • With all types of content being created nowadays and competitors vying for user attention, the organization must constantly create fresh and innovative content. This requires that an organization must have an appropriate ideation process in place that encourages all organization members to provide ideas related to all types of content.
  • As various parts of the organization gets busy in creating content, it’s important to ensure that the central theme and message of the content related to the organization is consistent with organization’s branding and messaging guidelines. This will ensure that the various quarters creating content stay focused on the key message of the organization.
  • Creation of content requires an understanding of the target audience. This is essential to ensure that the right content can be created for the audience that in turn can be receptive to that content and causes them to take the desired actions. Definition of an organization’s audience, therefore, is an essential step before the creation of content.
  • Each piece of content that is created must have a specific objective to ensure that all content creation processes are aligned to the organization’s overall digital marketing goals.

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Digital Business Consulting – Online Marketing and Growth

Using SEO to improve SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) rankings

SERP stands for Search Engine Results Pages and SEO is the art and science of improving a site’s positioning within SERPs. SERPs are results that a user sees when they type in a query in a search engine like Google or Bing. The resulting page with results are called SERPs. An illustration of a Google SERP is provided below for illustrative purposes.

improving serp rankings

By looking at a sample SERP, one can see that it has two parts. The top part (parts of which sometimes appear on the sides as well) are the paid results, while the bottom part holds the organic search results. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is about improving the organic search part and to have ones website rank higher in SERPs to enable a website to get more online traffic (organic or free traffic).

Although SEO is about ensuring a site’s higher placement in organic search results within the SERP, some of the guidelines help in a better placement in the paid results as well. With a lot of competition from advertisers to be shown on top of the paid results at the least possible cost, some of the SEO techniques (e.g. improving page quality, page speed, and so on) are used by Google to rank the paid results’ pages’ quality and uses that information accordingly to rank a site within the paid results.

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Digital Business Consulting – Online Marketing and Growth

Understanding the online and digital audience

One of the pre-requisites to embarking on a marketing initiative is to understand ones audience. The more targeted your market and the audience in that market, the better you can tailor your organization’s branding and other messages related to your products and services.

Once you have a good idea on your target audience, you can then proceed to design your organization’s customer journey, provide the right pathways to address the pain points of those audiences along the way, and to convert them into loyal customers.

Some of the key areas that are important in understanding an audience include the following:

  • Understand your organization and its products and services – Although this may seem to be a straightforward point but knowing this information is vital before you can proceed to building an audience for your organization. You must be clear of the pain points that your products and services address and then use that information to build the right audience. As you analyse your organization’s products and services, ensure to also gain insights into relevant competitive intelligence.
  • Build the right audience personas – Doing so helps better understand the audience’s needs, requirements, and desires. As you define your audience’s personas, you should consider both their demographics as well as psychographics information. An audience’s demographics information includes age, gender, location, education level, ethnic background, etc. Psychographics information, on the other hand, pertains to an audience’s behavior and includes traits related to personality, behavior, attitudes, interests and personal preferences. Consideration of these factors will help you build the right audiences.
  • Document their pain points – Your business offer must be able to address the painpoints of your potential customers. Identifying and documenting that helps you take that under control.
  • Identify the Internet sites and places where your audience may be likely to be found – This will help you enable the right digital and marketing automation to start capturing those audiences as leads and prospects.

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Digital Business Consulting – Online Marketing and Growth

Using Managed Placements to Get More Traffic

Placements refer to placing online ads on specific websites and their pages. Within Google Adwords, this refers to placing ads on websites that are part of Google’s Display Network. Google Adwords allows placements based on keywords that you choose or the specific websites that you specify and that you know are frequented by your potential customers. The later types of placements are referred to as Managed Placements.

Although the first type of placements are not very popular among marketers as it results in a lot of untargeted traffic, managed placements are quite popular as they allow you to target customers of your choice. However, because of this those bids can also be expensive. For example, if you have a restaurant and would like your ad to appear in the New York Times’ Food section, you can assume that due to the high competition, your placement bids are mostly likely to be higher.

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Digital Business Consulting – Online Marketing and Growth

Page speed and load times effect on SEO

For the past few years, page speed and load times have become a major factor in SEO rankings. And that’s for a good reason because slow page speed and load times seriously hamper a good user experience and can thus be an obstacle in a customer’s online journey. Google, therefore, uses this as one of the factors to determine site ranking.

Many studies available on this topic clearly show that a one second increase in page load times can have a major imapct for some online retailers. As reported on the Fastcompany.com’s website, Amazon estimates that a one page increase in page load times can cost it a whopping $1.6 Billion in sales each year. This loss is due to the users frustrations that in turn leads to cart and site abandonment.

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Digital Business Consulting – Online Marketing and Growth

Essential competitive intelligence information for online businesses

To compete effectively in any market, you need a set of competitive intelligence data to help you gauge your position in the marketplace and to take steps to make the right adjustments. There are a lot of tools and sites available that can provide you a lot of useful data that can improve your competitive standing in the digital market where you compete or plan to compete. Here is some of the data that you can use.

  • Ranking – Alexa.com provides a global rank of a website. This can help you gauge your overall positioning in the marketplace.
  • Regional Traffic Breakdown – This gives you an overall indication of your inbound traffic by various regions and countries. Tools like Google Analytics, Similarweb, as well as Alexa can provide you with this information.
  • Online Traffic Sources – This gives you a breakdown of information that your site or other digital property gets from various online sources. The various online sources include organic search traffic, social media traffic, referrals, etc.
  • Organic Search Analysis – This information can help you to drill down and analyze various aspects of your organic traffic and underlying trends. Tools that can help you with this include Google Analytics, Spyfu, and SEMRush.
  • Traffic volume and rank per region – The above mentioned tools can also provide a site’s traffic volume and ranking per region. This data is especially useful to have when a business is competing in specific regions, e.g. a retail site selling services within a country.
  • Private Research – A business can do their own private research and get a lot of useful cues about a site. For example, if you are researching a blog, the number of comments on the website can provide you an indicator of a website’s popularity. Similarly, the number of Facebook or Twitter fans for a site can provide an indication on the popularity of a site.

 

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Digital Business Consulting – Online Marketing and Growth

How to Grow a Business Using Digital and Online Marketing Methods?

This article reviews various strategies and tactics to grow a business using online digital and online marketing methods. Any business, whether digital or physical, can benefit from digital and online marketing to grow its reach, audience, leads, and sales. Although this list is not exhaustive but provides a foundation that most businesses can use to grow their sales and revenues.

Establish an online strategy

Regardless of your business models, there are many options to establish oneself in the online world. It is therefore quite important to have an online business growth strategy before jumping in and trying ad hoc tactics to establish oneself in the online and digital world. This involves listing your priorities and then selecting the important ones and then executing on that online plan.

Define your online audience

Before jumping into the online world and trying to establish your online business, it’s important that you define your online digital audience. Definition of your online audience will help you target your market appropriately and get the most of your marketing dollars and investments. Defining your audience should be quite specific and involve deeper discussion within your organization to select the right personas for your online business. Remember, this is one of the foundation elements for you to grow your online business.

Segment your online audience

Depending on the diversity of your products and services, you may have multiple types of audiences. In that situation, you should analyze and define the various types of audiences carefully. Again, your marketing plan to grow your business will vary with each type of audience as the preferences and behaviors for each type of audience will vary greatly from one to the other.

Reach your audience

Once you have determined the type of audience you need, you need to reach  that audience. As mentioned earlier, over the past few years, Internet audiences have spread out to different nooks and corners to have their needs met. Search engines no longer are the sole meeting point for such audiences. While most continue to use search engines to find what they are looking for, sites like social media, blogs, forums, and various other online communities have sprung up where you can try to reach and target your audiences. To find these places specific to your needs, you must do some research and identify sites and areas of the web where you are more likely to find better audiences that may help you achieve your ROI.

online business growth

Have an Email Marketing Plan

Email marketing is one of those strategies that is a must have for all online businesses. E-mail continues to be the one channel that almost most of the world’s online population uses for correspondence. E-mail marketing, therefore, should be part of your online marketing and growth strategy. This includes having a plan to grow your E-mail list, nurturing it with frequent engagements, etc.

Match E-mail lists with types of online audiences and traffic

Your e-mail list provides you the foundation for communicating with your online audience. Each list is meant to be targeted to a specific product and service or more specifically caters to each type of audience’s interests. So, for each type of audience, you may have different e-mail lists corresponding to various types of interests. Dumping all of your audiences in one list can make it difficult for you to customize your online message and will affect your online conversions that in turn will impact your ability to grow your business.

Don’t ignore the administrative aspects of running your business

Many online entrepreneurs get so immersed with running an online business that the start ignoring the basic fundamentals of their business. These include details related to accounting, licensing, taxation, and other regulatory issues. It is, therefore, important to stay disciplined to ensure that you grow your business without worrying about being fined or closed down by officials for ignoring basic business fundamentals.

Focus on online conversions

There is no use in getting traffic to a website or other digital property that doesn’t convert that traffic effectively. The craze that existed a few years ago on getting quality traffic continues until today, especially with new marketers and business owners. Many still mistakenly believe that getting traffic to their products and services will be a panacea to their business growth. There are many other factors that go into growing a business one of which is to ensure that all the other parts of the business are setup effectively to convert inbound traffic.

Take into account all possible online traffic generation methods

To grow a business, one of the things that you need is to generate lots of online traffic. Therefore, you should take a stock of all online traffic generation methods and then decide which ones to use for your business case. Every traffic source has its advantages and disadvantages and also depends on the audience that you seek for your traffic. You should, therefore, study the various online traffic sources (e.g. organic search, CPC, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, blogs, and content sites) and then invest effectively in select traffic sources and focus on them to grow your online business.

digital marketing business growth

Devise an online performance monitoring strategy

One of the most critical aspects of operating an online business is to establish an adequate performance monitoring process and system. An online business mostly needs to be tweaked constantly to take it to the next level. You should, therefore, constantly monitor various analytics reports, and other performance indicators to ensure that your digital system (websites, conversion factors, traffic patterns, etc.) are operating effectively to get you the most bang for your buck and efforts in terms of increasing your online revenues and grow your business. Although, Google Analytics continues to be one of the most popular tool, you should also look into other tools that can give you other insights related to various parts of your online business. You should setup a system of performance monitoring using the right tools and the processes.

Focus on CTRs

Although there are various types of metrics available to help you optimize your digital marketing efforts, CTRs are an important indicator as this metric can help you refine your sales funnels throughout your site. We know that conversions is usually preceded by a number of steps on the site each of which must be conquered before proceeding the visitor to the subsequent step. To measure the visitor’s progress, you should measure the CTR at every step. This will allow you to hone in on areas where your visitors may be exiting the site. Doing so throughout the areas of your site will help you make your site run like a well oil machine through which your visitors pass successfully to reach the conversion steps.

Focus on CPCs

Most advertising systems that provide CPCs have different bidding systems that allow you to either fix a specific CPC or can change the CPC bids to help you get more clicks and meet other of your digital marketing goals. Entrepreneurs that don’t pay attention to this can see their marketing dollars go down fast forcing them to abandon their future marketing efforts thus putting a halt to any business growth opportunities. As mentioned earlier, business growth initiatives must continue at a specific pace until they reach a certain momentum and therefore any hiccups that can stop you from achieving that goal should be addressed in due time.

Consider affiliate marketing strategies

Growing your business through the online channels requires a lot of investments. It’s therefore to ensure that you have various means to cover those costs. Other than selling your products and services online, you should consider various affiliate marketing strategies to monetize your digital assets.

Define your online business’s primary sales funnel

We all know the generic online business funnel, which normally consists of awareness, deeper knowledge, adding to cart, and then to convert the shopper. However, each industry and business has its own funnel steps and each online business must go through the steps of defining its primary business funnel. This then becomes the cornerstone of most of an online business’s marketing activities

Design your inbound sales funnels

An online entrepreneur is usually in control of the sales funnel of the websites and digital properties that they are responsible for. Accordingly, therefore, they can tweak various aspects of that funnel to achieve the right conversion results. In many cases, entrepreneurs direct traffic from some of their other sites to their primary site. In such cases, entrepreneurs should design funnels of all sites and should keep that under consideration when estimating traffic volume to their primary site. Remember, each step that can tweak along the full customer journey can have a major impact on the end conversion results thus boosting your online revenue and your overall business growth.

Pay particular attention to design aesthetics

Unless your site offers some very unique products and services, your visitors will unlikely stay on site for long unless it’s pleasing to look at and easy to navigate. It’s an established fact among marketers and website designers that design aesthetics plays a major role in retaining visitors on site and to push them through the various steps to get to convert. The design aesthetics take into account a number of factors, which include enhancing visual appeal (e.g. use of images, text, and color), considerations for branding, and including the right design elements on the website. Design aesthetics plays a major role as art and design elements evoke certain levels of emotions within visitors. Even if the visitors don’t convert, their staying on your site for longer periods of time has an impact on other factors such as improvement in Google organic search. Thus, when starting and operating an online business, this can have a major role on your website ranking within search engines and conversions, both of which are crucial to your business growth.

Rev up the quality of your products and services

The business world in general, irrespective of whether it’s online or traditional brick and mortar, is getting competitive day by day. While most entrepreneurs and marketers end up spending their efforts and cost in trying to improve their traffic volume and quality, they forget to pay attention on the quality of their offer. There is no use in getting traffic that’s not going to convert. In fact, there are many instances when the existing of a product or service goes viral without the entrepreneurs spending too much time in getting traffic and publicity. Entrepreneurs and marketers therefore should not neglect increasing the quality of their products and services.

grow business online consulting

Stay up to date on SEO trends and techniques

In the early days of the Internet and online business, SEO was the big name in the area of Internet marketing. Then, after Google started to apply penalties to punish black hat and other SEO methods that were in use, the general impression was that SEO may not be as important as it used to be. This was mostly because of some confusing messages from Google, which implied that businesses should focus on building a good website and pages rather than spending time on learning SEO techniques and tactics. Although Google’s guidance is correct in that good content web pages are liked by online visitors and in that case, Google would reward those pages and sites by ranking them higher, the truth is that you need to do a bit more than that. You must pay attention to the latest SEO trends and to Google’s guidance on how page rankings criteria are adjusted periodically. Not doing so could surprise you when your organic traffic rankings falls without any reason.

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Digital Business Consulting – Online Marketing and Growth

Increasing Google bot’s crawl efficiency

When Google bot visits your website, it does its best to crawl various parts of your website. However, depending on the technical setup of your site, the crawl may be hindered and it may not reach all parts of the website that you want the bot to reach and to index your site. There are many factors that can help increase the efficiency of the Google bot while its on your site. Ensure that you research the latest guidelines from Google in terms of increasing the crawl efficiency of the Google bot while it’s on your website.

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