Author Archives: Milind Mody

About Milind Mody

Milind is the founder - CEO of eBrandz, a professional SEO company in New York & India. Milind has been featured in various IT related magazines like Digit (Nov 2005) and BenefIT (Sep 2007). Milind also writes articles on Search Marketing in Popular Magazines like "Search Marketing Standard".

Is Your Digital Marketing Strategy Holiday Season Ready?

Did you know that according to the National Retail Federation, the revenue generated during last year’s holiday season was over $690 billion? What’s more, around about 20% of the sales were made online.

Over the past few years, consumers’ purchase journey has changed drastically. Technology and smartphones have led to even the most traditional customers taking the long route for making a purchase – from the mobile app to the web, to the brick and mortar store. The more savvy buyers, like most of the millennials, prefer doing most of their shopping online.

Therefore it is now imperative for businesses to up their digital marketing game to make the most of the holiday season. After all, this is the time when most of the people are going to want to get done with their shopping. Here are a few suggestions on how you can add more power to your digital marketing strategy this holiday season.

Build on the hype with prospecting campaigns

Prospecting campaigns are the kinds of campaigns that enable you to target those people who may not yet be aware of your brand. As these campaigns are generally used to cast a wide net, they are perfect for building brand awareness and the products and/or services offered to the customers. The new visitors to the site can then be retargeted with personalized ads, based on their browsing history.

Make mobile your priority

Reports suggest that businesses that invested in mobile prospecting campaigns earned saw 81% increase in their ROI. Even their mobile retargeting campaigns managed to garner strong click-through rates throughout the holiday season. Salesforce predicts that mobile traffic and orders are expected to overtake the desktop traffic this year. Hence, it would be a wise decision to focus your holiday marketing strategies around mobile.

Target the last minute shoppers

Panic purchase is indeed very real! There are many people out there who keep delaying their gift purchasing until the very last minute and then go into a frenzy to get it all done in time. Targeting these last-minute shoppers with your digital marketing campaigns can easily lead to a boost in sales during the holiday season.

Retarget through November & December

Reports show that businesses that ran retargeting campaigns through November last year saw an 85% rise in sales and an 80% boost in their total revenue. In order to ensure that you do not miss out on any sales opportunities, it is better to focus your efforts on retargeting all through the holiday season.

Bring in the influencers

With social media playing a huge role in almost everyone’s life these days, investing in influencer marketing strategies gives a brand great reach, connections and impact. This is especially true for the holiday season. When a person, who a lot of people already relate to and ‘follow’, endorses your brand and products and/or services, it is bound to have a positive impact on website traffic and sales.

Final Takeaway

Even if you have not yet been able to come up with any special plans for your digital marketing for the holiday season, it’s not too late. You still have time to amp up your marketing strategies with the help of the tips given above so that you can bring in more traffic and boost your sales.

Is The Traffic To Your Site Taking A Nosedive All Of A Sudden?

The best time for any website owner would be when the website traffic shows consistent growth, the conversion rate is steadily on the rise and the page views look up and good. However, no matter how well a website may be performing, the chances of this performance being permanent are close to nil.

The threat of a drop in website traffic is always there. The reason for a decline in traffic could be a number of things. Often times novice site owners and SEO professionals overlook this unusual decrease in traffic and by the time they realize what has happened, it’s too late to do anything about it.

What Could Be The Reason For The Drop?

There are a number of factors that could lead to a decline in traffic. Let’s take a quick look at what the most common ones are, shall we?

  • Change in the consumers’ preferences – Something as simple as a new trend wave can have a great impact on website traffic.
  • Changes done to the website – Modification of website design or content is one of the most common reasons for the traffic to take a dip.
  • Issues with the mobile site – A desktop website that does not have a responsive design is to bound suffer from loss of traffic in this era of smartphones.
  • Google’s algorithm updates – Google is known to update its algorithms on a regular basis and these updates are known to cause a dip in site traffic.
  • Insecure URL – When Google starts warning visitors that a website is insecure, most of them usually turn away from it.
  • Webpage indexing issues – A poorly organized website usually makes it difficult for Google Bot to properly index it and that means low traffic.
  • Hacked website – A hacked website can only lead to problems and these problems generally cause the traffic to take a hit.

How To Find Out If You Have A Problem?

The first thing you need to do is determine whether it is a sudden drop in traffic or a steady decline. A quick drop in traffic could possibly be a result of any kind of technical issue or a Google Penalty. A gradual decline in traffic may be caused due to a Google algorithm update.

One of the easiest ways to find out is to monitor the stats on Google Analytics for a considerable period of time. Check if the drop in traffic is really sudden and unreasonable or is it because of the seasonality, holidays, or something along the same lines.

Final Takeaway

Even if you are too busy with the other aspects of your business, it is always a good thing to take some time out of your schedule, no matter how hectic it is, to keep an eye on your website’s performance. While the occasional traffic drop can be expected, sudden, steady and long-term drops must be investigated. Extended downtime in website traffic can prove to be extremely dangerous for your site’s search ranking.

All That You Need to Know About ‘Dark Social’

Contrary to popular belief, social media marketing is not just about getting the likes and the shares. A lot of digital marketers and SEO specialists indulge in practices that fall under the ‘dark social’ category to get more traffic to their clients’ websites. So what does dark social really mean? Let’s take a quick look.

What is Dark Social?

Despite how fishy it all sounds, it isn’t anything dubious or scary. ‘Dark Social’ is basically a term coined by one of The Atlantic’s senior editors, Alexis C. Madrigal to describe website traffic and social media interactions that are difficult to track and measure through traditional analytics. Often referred to as dark social traffic, this kind of website traffic doesn’t seem to have any specific source. This is mostly the result of content and links being shared through emails, text messages and DMs (Direct Messages).

The Most Common Sources of Dark Social Traffic

  • Native Mobile Apps – A lot of people use native apps such as Facebook, Instagram, etc. to copy-paste and share a great deal of links. Surveys reveal that these copy and paste shares represent as many as 80% of all shares.
  • Messaging Apps – The rapid growth of instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc. has also given rise to dark social interactions. Reportedly, there are over a billion people around the globe who use WhatsApp to talk about and share information on various brands.

How Does it Affect a Business

The thing about dark social interactions is that although they are difficult to track, they more often than not lead to conversions. Say a friend of yours shares a link with you through Facebook or WhatsApp, you are will most likely click on it, won’t you? Hence, one can say that dark social traffic is just as valuable to a brand as the traceable traffic. After all, it is word-of-mouth between people who most likely know each other.

Ways to Find Out How Much Dark Social Traffic you Get

    Make use of link shorteners. This makes it possible for you to get a slightly better understanding of the clicks that your tracked links receive.
    Upgrade your share buttons by using tools that allow you to use inline or sticky share buttons. It will be easier for you to track these links even when people share your content through emails, text messages or instant messaging apps.
    Do a quick audit of all your direct traffic in whatever analytics platform that you use. Chances are that most of the long links listed under direct traffic were not typed in manually and hence, they may have actually come from dark social.

To conclude…

There really isn’t much that you can do about the dark social traffic you get. However, it is expected to grow even further. Several industry reports suggest that dark social is bound to impact social media marketing plans in 2019. If as a brand or a digital media professional, you plan on using it, it is advisable to first know all the basics and understand how to track it.

The Kinds of Google Link Penalties You Want to Avoid At All Costs

Who wouldn’t want their fully-fledged website to have good rankings on Google? A solid link-building strategy that ensures good traffic and gives your website the much-needed boost on Google rankings is always welcome, right? However, Google has its own standards of ethical and unethical link building practices, disregarding which will lead to a much-dreaded Google penalty. Getting a Google Penalty is a sure-fire way to put your site at a disadvantage.

So before you go on to implement any new link-building strategies for your website, understand the most common types of Google link penalties and how you can avoid them. Here goes…

1. Excessive Reciprocal Linking

A very popular link-building strategy among webmasters once upon a time, wherein two website owners would swap links for their sites’ mutual benefits. However, this process of reciprocal linking is now considered as an unethical practice and can lead to a severe Google penalty. As far as possible, avoid excessive reciprocal linking; especially if you are new to the world of blogging.

2. Algorithm Link Spam Penalty,/p>

Flouting Google’s link algorithm will lead to an algorithm link spam penalty, an action taken by Google’s automated algorithm. Under Google’s Penguin Algorithm, this penalty is levied on websites that buy links or obtain them through link networks. The moment your site gets penalized, the organic traffic will take a nosedive and it might even get de-indexed. Avoid partaking in such practices!

3. Manual Link Spam Penalty

While the automated Google bots are out there doing their job of hunting down faulty or spam link-building practices, Google has in place an entire manual review team that hands out manual penalties. These penalties are just as disastrous for your site ranking as the algorithmic penalties. One complaint from your competitor or the Googlebot about your spammy link profile, and your website’s earned you a manual penalty.

4. Low-Quality Link Penalty

As the entire point of giving out link penalties is to promote ethical link building practices, relying on tactics like getting backlinks from dubious, low-quality sites is a sure way to get your site penalized by Google. It is always better to rely on backlinks coming from reputable sites, which not only add to the credibility of your website but also to your brand value.

5. Unnatural Outgoing Link Penalty

If any guest post or blog that you plan on publishing on your website contains links that point back to the guests’ sites, it will have a negative effect on your site’s link profile. Always make it a point to manually review the content that is submitted to you for links from low-quality sites. It is also a good idea to not allow any ‘Nofollow’ links in user-generated content

6. Private Blog Network

A particularly common penalty that can be avoided very easily! Using a network of blogs or websites that are owned by you to link to each other is an unethical link-building practice that is bound to be detected by Google sooner or later. Getting caught and penalized by Google for using PBNs is extremely harmful for your sites’ online reputation.

To Conclude…

Getting penalized by Google for a link profile that violates Google’s webmaster guidelines will have an adverse effect on your website’s reputation. It is better to instead focus all your efforts on building a healthy link profile using the most ethical link building practices.

13 SEO Features that can Improve your Product Page Ranking

ecommerce

With increasing digitalization, online shopping is getting more popular, everything you need from grocery to personal care is now just a click away. But, with the increasing demand, competition is also increasing. Hence, it is very important to know that how your business is doing in this competitive scenario and how can you improve your page ranking. 

We have brought you 13 SEO features that High Ranking Product Pages have in common. To improve your page ranking you can practice these features.

1. Short and appropriate URL with keywords describing product

Avoid long URLs, rather than long URLs use short and simple URLs for the page. Don’t use unnecessary content which the consumer don’t need to know, use good keywords describing the product that can help search engines to suggest your website to the searchers. It is necessary to check how your URL looks when shared. The shared URL should look simple and clear for users to understand. Also, sharing long URL many times breaks the link resulting in showing error 404. 

2. Your Title Tag should be related to product and its specification

A title tag is one of the crucial element in search engine ranking, so it is essential to choose your title tag that can be optimized. If you want a perfect title tag, include keywords citing Brand Name, Product Name, Specification e.g. Size, Unique Feature e.g. Light Weight, Part Number, Application.

Consider following tips while optimizing title tags:

  • Avoid duplicate words
  • Your URL text should be clear and visible
  • Your important keywords should be mentioned in early 65 characters 
  • Don’t include your company’s name or website name in the tag

3. Mobile Friendliness 

Your site needs to be either responsive for mobile devices or it must have a mobile counterpart like AMP. It is found that more than 50 percent of customers are using their mobile phones for online shopping . So, if your product is not mobile friendly you are already losing half of the customers. Also, mobile friendly sites have higher ranking on google.

You can review your site on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to know how friendly your website is,  it will test one page at a time as it identifies other issues as well. 

4. Having Site Search is must

Site search feature is commonly found in most of the e-commerce websites and very importantly in every successful e-commerce site. It indicates about your business and on what platform you are working. Site search has benefits like you get to know what your customer is looking for. And the keyword data can be beneficial for optimizing your customers’ experience and can also help you in developing a strong keyword research. Other benefits are that site search grants you a search box in google’s organic search results, benefiting customers as well as you, having search site reduces competition from rival sites, as it gives your site more screen in the search results.

5. Post Unique Product Description and Attractive Images

To boost your search results, post unique descriptions and attractive images of your product. Many times online sellers post descriptions and images provided by manufacturers, which he shares with other clients as well. So create your original content as search engine detects duplicate content and avoid showing it to the users.

You can increase your website ranking using image optimization. You can upload a smaller size image with a link to a larger pop-up version, this will speed up your website’s page loading. Image optimization can increase traffic to your website from image search. 

6. Provide detailed specification of the product

A detailed specification about the product helps the customer in making  decision. Specifications include size, color, weight, dimensions, unique features, warranty details, link to product instructions and replacement of parts, etc. Don’t hide pricing from the customers make it visible and easy to find.

Including Q & A section on your website can be beneficial, many e-commerce websites are doing it these days. Q & A clears customers doubts and encourages them to buy the product. It also helps you to create customer-centric content on the page. 

7. Customer Reviews

Whenever someone is buying a product online, they surely check reviews given by other customers and many customers make their buying decision based on customer reviews. Hence, it is very important to display customer reviews on the product page. Also, reviews provide additional benefit by generating original content on the page.

Google scans your website reviews regressively, so make sure you follow google’s guidelines relating to reviews:

  • Reviews on your site must be generated by your site.
  • You must publish both the good and the bad reviews.
  • All reviews must be genuine, independent and unpaid. 
  • All the reviews are supposed to represent the specific product or location that is on that page not company wide or different location.

We have our own review widget which sits on your website and gets you positive reviews on Google, Yelp and Facebook. This widget filters negative reviews thus displaying positive reviews on your website which increases your brand authority.

8. Mark up Product Page with structured data

Marking up your content with the structured data will enable your website to generate a rich search result. You can use schema.org markup.  Marking up your content with Schema will provide you with Rich Snippets listing which is really attractive . You can also markup specifications of the product like color, size, etc. 

9. Pictures Create More Impact than Text, Videos create greater impact than picture

Visual content is the most powerful and easy way to deliver your message. You can tell the customers about the specifications of the product or can also give instructions. Either way, it is the most powerful content by far and utilizing it is a no brainer.  Other benefits of videos are that it exceeds the time duration a customer spends on your page as well as it reduces the bounce rates, both yields positive and good results.

But, posting videos on your page can result in more loading time so, use it wisely and wherever it is necessary or you think can have more impact. You can also use an image link which opens on an another page with the video, to reduce the loading time. 

10. Describe the Product in easy and simple way that customer can understand

It is very important that your customers understands and are satisfied from the product specifications and descriptions, because if your customers are not satisfied they may call up to clear it and make an order, or may not order, both will reduce your online sales. Design your website in a manner that it is easy to understand and is user-friendly.

11. It is Very Important to have a secure server

Your server has to be secured with a DV (Domain Verification) certificate. A secure server is important not only for scoring good rank but also, to attract customers and protect their safety. Google consistently warns the customers, whenever they connect to a non-secure website, this will result in losing customer’s trust. A secure site attracts customers.

12. Focus on Page Load Time

Page loading time plays a crucial role in search engine ranking. Customers prefer faster loading website. Google also wants sites to load within few second and that is not an easy task to achieve. It is recommended that your pages load within 8 seconds or faster than your competitor’s website. So implement measures that will ensure your website loads faster and avoid elements that can slower your website. 

13. Focus on Copywriting and Keywords

A strong content is  a must to attract customers towards your website. A copywriter has the ability to optimize the keywords and make a sales copy superior using  high traffic keywords.

If you are in need of Ecommerce SEO services for your website, please connect with us at sales@ebrandz.com or call 1-888-545-0616 directly to speak with our rep.

What Not To Do After A Major Google Algorithm Update

google-webmaster-guidelines

Whenever Google makes some changes in its ranking algorithm, the usual reaction of some SEO “experts” is to panic and start assuming things. The irresistible urge to make predictions about what can possibly go wrong and what was the “main intention” of Google behind the update, has increased the blood pressure of many.

In this industry, the only thing which is constant is “change”. Usually, Google updates its algorithms almost 500 to 600 times each year. Most of these updates are small and often go unnoticed, but some are major & raise a lot of eyebrows.

Instead of getting anxious after a major update, you can respond to it in a calm and constructive way by following the below tips:

1. Don’t let anxiety win

What’s your usual reaction after a major algorithm update? Read post after post, and allow the anxiety of unknown to throw you into a panic! Well, instead of doing that, you should wait for Google to release the detailed information regarding the update.  

However, most of the people do just opposite, they start panicking about something they don’t even know about. Also, most of the self-proclaimed “SEO Experts” start “assuming” things and add fuel to the fire. So resist the urge to read “his or her take on the recent update” and refer to Google’s own blogs or authority websites for information. 

2. Let the mud settle down

Whenever we hear about a major algorithm update, the marketer inside us gets restless. It compels us to take action as soon as we hear about the update, but we have to resist the temptation. Because it’s not necessary that your site will get impacted negatively, especially when you are doing SEO the right way. 

Understand that the paramount goal of Google is to provide the most useful answer to the users. So if you are doing all the “right” things, then you don’t really have to “worry” about the algorithm changes at all.

So next time you hear about any major update, wait for few days and see whether it has impacted your site or not, and then respond accordingly.

3. Do your own research

Some times it happens that Google releases a major update but does not mention about it in their blogs. For instance, the Possum was a major update targeted at Local SEO. Removing spam and diversifying the listings was the main aim. However, they never mentioned it on their blog.

In such cases, you will have to do your own research. But be informed that everybody out there shares their own insight and perspective. So you have to read few posts from credible sources, figure out what’s common and then come to a conclusion. 

If you find out that your site has been impacted by the update and you will have to make changes, make one change at a time. That way, you will be able to see the effect of that adjustment & can have a better idea about what’s going on.  

Takeaway

Major algorithm updates can be stressful. But if you are doing all the right things like creating high-quality content, acquiring links from credible sites, providing consistent NAP information – then you don’t have to worry. 

As I said earlier, Google’s ultimate goal is to provide users with best possible searching experience. And as long as you are doing things for the users, you do not have to worry about Google. 

Google is Going to Separate Mobile and Desktop Search Indexes

google-travel-search

Seems like Google is on a revamping spree. After making the penguin real time and doing some major changes in the local search, Google is now going to take a much bigger step.  The Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes has announced that Google is going to split its index between mobile and desktop, within the next few months. 

We all very well aware of Google’s obsession with Mobile devices, but now they are taking it a bit too far! They are going to have a “Mobile first” approach. OK, we understand that Mobile users are most likely to use the “Near me” feature hence it seems logical to provide them with the latest information, but doesn’t a desktop user require the latest information as well? 

However, it’s not clear that how out-of-date desktop index will be. But one thing is clear that Google will run ranking algorithm in a very different way across mobile content rather than the current pattern that extracts data from desktop content to determine mobile rankings.

Google Announced A New AMP Testing Tool

mobile-user-agent

Google announced the launch of a new testing tool for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).  

The tool is available in the Google search console and also at  https://search.google.com/search-console/amp 

The tool works on mobile devices with the help of Google’s live web search infrastructure & analyzes the AMP pages in real-time using Google bots.  The tool helps with testing the validity of structured data & markup on the page.

It also has links that show a live preview of how the page get displayed in Google’s search results, and if you find any issues, you can click on them to see the details.  After clicking on it, even the source code will be highlighted, showing you exactly where the error is.

It even has links to show you a live preview of how this page may appear in Google’s search results.

Below are the screen shots.

google-amp-test

google-amp-preview

google-mymaps

Here’s What’s New in Google My Business for 2016

Just like life, some of the best things in digital marketing space is also free, biggest of them all is “Google My Business Tool”. This is one heck of tool that drastically simplifies the whole process of managing & updating business listings on Google. To ensure that this Mega tool meets the changing needs, they constantly update it and add new features. Let’s have a look at what’s new this month: 

YOU CAN NOW ADD MULTIPLE OWNERS

If you own a multi-location business, you know how tiresome it is to manage and update the listings of different locations. You wanted to divide the responsibility among others, but the security concern that comes with sharing your personal account was hindering you from taking that decision. But now you can do that! You can add multiple owners to individual locations and GMB accounts without sharing your personal info. As an owner, you can assign people to three different levels of access to GMB – Communication Manager, Manager & Owner. 

google-my-business-updates-access-capabilities

Source: Google Support

TAKE A QUICK GLANCE AT ALL YOUR LISTINGS

List view is the best for making edits, hands down. But what if you want to view all the business listings at once? The map view is the answer! Now you can look how far you have expanded your kingdom (Business locations) just by clicking the map icon at the top of the list view. You can also know the status of your listing by seeing the color. Blue denotes the published listing while pink denotes that the listing is either incomplete or require some action on your part.

google-my-business-map

 AUTOMATICALLY MANAGE UPDATES MADE TO YOUR LOCATIONS.

To ensure complete accuracy of location information, Google collects data from third-party sources as well.  It means that the data provided by you can sometimes be marked as incorrect, even due to the slightest difference. Google often update these listings and you can see them listed with a “Google updates” status. It’s advisable to review your listing after each update to make sure it’s correct. 

INTRODUCTION OF “HOURS” FORMAT FOR BULK UPLOADS

Using bulk upload spreadsheets to verify multiple business locations can save you a lot of time. But be informed that Google has launched a new format for the “Hours” column and you need to change to the new format because the old one is no longer supported.

google-my-business-hours-format

GOOGLE MY BUSINESS API UPDATE

Although most of the small business owners have nothing to do with the API, but those selected few who take services of a third party to manage their listings should be aware from the New API update, which is as follows:

  • Push notifications for new reviews.
  • You can now Add the URL attributes.
  • Map URLs are included in location responses

HELP CUSTOMERS FIND YOU WITH GOOGLE MY BUSINESS

GMB is a wonder tool that lets you manage the information with ease. Using the tool you can also add photos and respond to the reviews. It offers many other things as well and so you need be updated about the changes.

GOOGLE LAUNCHES SPRINGBOARD SEARCH TOOL TO HELP USERS SEARCH ACROSS ITS SUITE OF APPS

app-indexing

Google recently introduced a new search tool on the platform known as Springboard. This tool is designed to conduct searches across Google’s collection of apps that includes Google Docs, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Photos, etc.

Besides being a search assistant, Springboard also proactively provides pretty handy, actionable information and suggestions. No such examples are provided as to what those suggestions may be.

Springboard is specifically so designed to cater to business oriented people who make use of Google’s productivity apps on a regular basis; especially the high performance driven tech savvy individuals.

As part of the announcement, the company also issued a major upgrade to Google Sites, which is a tool designed by Google for creating pages on the web. The update will help users to conveniently fetch information from other Google apps and flaunt responsive design for all web layouts.

As per reports, Google’s currently testing both Springboard and the Google Sites upgrade with a select bunch of users in Google’s early adopter campaign. If you are looking forward to use this feature early then just fill out the form here before Google officially announces its public release date.