Tag Archive | "Support"

Selling SEO to the C-Suite: How to Convince Company Executives to Support SEO

Posted by rMaynes1

The implementation of a solid SEO strategy often gets put on the back burner — behind website redesigns, behind client work, behind almost everything — and even when it is taken seriously, you have to fight for every resource for implementation. SEO must be a priority. However, convincing the company executives to prioritize it and allocate budget to SEO initiatives can feel like scaling a mountain.

Sound familiar?

Convincing company executives that SEO is one of the most critical elements of a holistic digital marketing strategy to increase website traffic (and therefore customers, sales, and revenue) won’t be easy, but these steps can increase the chances of your program being taken seriously, and getting the budget needed to make it a success.

Before you start: Put yourself in the shoes of the C-Suite and be ready to answer their questions.

While it’s no doubt frustrating that your executives don’t understand the importance of SEO, put yourself in their shoes and consider what is important to them. Have solid answers ready to questions.

CEOs are decision-makers, not problem-solvers. They are going to ask:

  • Why should we invest in SEO vs. ?
  • Is this going to be profitable?
  • Do you have proven results?
  • What does success look like? What are your KPIS?

CIOs and CFOs will fixate on cost reductions. They are going to ask:

  • What will this cost us?
  • Can similar results be achieved at a reduced cost?
  • What level of spend will maximize ROI?

CMOs want to ensure the organization’s message is distributed to targeted audiences in order to meet sales objectives. They will ask:

  • How many more qualified leads will this bring us?
  • What will this do to increase our brand exposure?
  • What is our competition doing?

CEOs are unbelievably busy. In the nicest way, they don’t care about details, and they don’t care about tactics (because they simply do not have time to care). What do they care about? Results.

For example, the CEO of a large insurance broker sits in his office and Googles the term “Seattle insurance.” Success for him is seeing his company listed at #1 in the organic results. He doesn’t want to know how it was achieved, but for as long as that’s the result, he’s happy to invest.

Getting the support you need for your SEO strategy can be tough, to say the least, especially if there is no understanding, no interest, and no funding from the C-level executives in your company — and unfortunately, without these, your SEO plans will never get off the ground.

However, executive-level buy-in is crucial for a successful SEO campaign, so don’t give up!

Educate your stakeholders

1. Start at the beginning: Define what SEO is, and what it isn’t

It might sound like a no-brainer, but before you even start, find out your C-Suite’s SEO expertise level. Bizarre as it may sound, some might not even really fully understand what SEO is, and the concept of keywords might be entirely alien.

Start from the very beginning with examples of what SEO is, and what it isn’t.

Include:

  • How people search for your business online with non-branded industry keywords. Use analytics to show that this is what people are actually searching for.
  • Show what happens when you conduct a simple search for a related keyword. Where does your business rank and where do your competitors rank?

If you want to go into a bit more detail, you can show things like where keywords appear in your page content, or what meta-data in the titles and description fields look like. Gather as much valuable insight as you can from the CMO to help tailor your presentation to fit the style the CEO is used to. It will vary from CEO to CEO. Same story — but a different approach to getting the message across.

Remember, keep it high-level. When talking to your C-Suite about SEO, it’s important to talk to them in a language they’ll understand. If your presentation includes references to “schema,” “link audits,” or “domain authority,” start again, scrapping the technical jargon. Instead, talk about how SEO helps businesses connect directly with people who are searching online for the products and services that are being offered by the company. Highlight how it’s a powerful business development tool that aligns your business with customer intent, one that targets potential customers further down the sales funnel because it attracts traffic mostly from people who are in the market to convert. Focus on the purpose of an SEO program being to build a sustainable base of monthly quality potential customers by generating additional traffic to the website.

Use hard facts to support your points. For example:

  • 72% of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
  • 71% of B2B researchers start with a generic search. (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)
  • Conversion rates are 10 times higher on search than from social on desktops, on average. (Source: GoDaddy 2016)
  • Half of search queries are four words or longer. Not including long-tail keywords could mean losing potential leads. (Source: Propecta 2017).
  • Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published 0–4 monthly posts. (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)

2. The meat of your presentation: Why SEO is so important

Once you’ve shown what SEO is, you can move onto why it’s so important to the organizational goals. Sounds simple, but this is probably the most difficult part of convincing your executives of the need for an SEO strategy.

C-Suite executives are not interested in the how of SEO. They want to know the why (the value, the return on investment), and the when (how long it will take to see the results and the ROI of this endeavor). It’s almost guaranteed that they’re not going to want to know the minute details and tactics of your proposed strategy.

Outline the project at a high level, and don’t get bogged down in the details. If the CEO is well-educated in other channels (like paid search, offline marketing, print marketing, or display advertising), try to use SEO examples that can be understood in a relative way to how these other channels perform.

Note: To sell SEO to the C-suite doesn’t necessarily mean you’re committing to doing all of this work yourself. You might be pitching for the budget to use an SEO agency to do all of this for you.

Break out the proposed project into 4 sections, each with a “what” and a “why.”

1. SEO audit:

Your website is a business development tool, and so the SEO audit is focused on assessing how well the site is performing currently. Talk about how you’ll assess the website in several areas to understand any problems impacting site performance and identify any potential optimization opportunities to make it more search engine-friendly, and to align it to business objectives both from a technical and content perspective.

2. Recommendations:

From the audit, determine what needs to be done and when. Not all tactics will work for all organizations, and as an SEO expert, you’ll be able to review the business and draw on your past experience to determine what’s going to earn the highest ROI. Prioritize recommendations and have a case to present for each, proving how it’s more important than another recommendation, and how it will impact the overall business if implemented. Ensure that those critical SEO components that will expedite the results are implemented first. Be sure to address these questions:

  • What combination of tactics is going to work best for this organization?
  • What is going to have the biggest impact now, and what can wait?
  • What should be a top organizational priority?
  • Do you have access to the internal resources and knowledge to be able to implement the recommendations, or do you need to consider using an external agency?

3. Implementation:

Whether this is an internal project or you’re engaging an SEO agency, the project lead should be very hands-on, making SEO recommendations and guiding the IT team through the successful implementation of as many of them as possible so as to have the biggest impact on organic search. At times it can feel like you have to jump through hoops to get the smallest recommendation implemented, and that’s understandable. However, if you endeavor to understand the internal IT processes, you can customize recommendations to fit the IT team’s schedule. You’ll see more success that way.

This is one of the biggest obstacles that Mediative, as an agency, runs into. We conduct SEO audits and provide recommendations for success, in priority order — but getting access to internal IT resources and getting your SEO recommendations into the implementation queue can be incredibly challenging.

We worked with a Fortune 500 company for four years on SEO, covering the major areas of site architecture and site content, with the ultimate goal of increasing site traffic. At any given time, there were 40+ active SEO initiatives — open tickets with the client’s IT department — all of which had an impact on the SEO of the client’s website. However, they represented only about 20% of the total open tickets for all IT service requests in this client’s IT department; as a result, vying for precious IT resources became a huge challenge. A great SEO agency will learn to adapt tactics to fit in with whatever sort of IT procedures your company already has in place.

4. Goals and measurement of results:

HubSpot has presented the core metrics that CEOs care about the most; you should address these metrics with benchmarks and informed predictions (not vague guesses) for how SEO can improve them. Unlike channels such as paid search, it can be difficult to give the exact cost and the exact number of leads or revenue SEO can generate. The key here is to get the understanding of the CMO to help present your case to the CEO. SEO or organic search traffic (when measured properly with analytics) can be the biggest driver of low-cost traffic and quality visitors to your website.

  1. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) – This is the total cost of acquiring a customer in the organization. If you can show how SEO acquires customers below the company average, you’re already winning.
  2. Time to Payback CAC – This is the number of months it takes you to earn back the CAC you spent to get a new customer. Again, if you can show that SEO reduces this number, it will increase the likelihood of your program getting the thumbs up.
  3. Marketing Originated Customer % – This ratio shows what percentage of your new business is driven by marketing efforts, a sure-fire way to secure more SEO budget if you can prove exactly how many new customers it’s driving.

Look at simpler metrics as well, such as:

  • Traffic to your website.
  • Number of leads generated.
  • Decreased bounce rates.

Inform your executives that you’ll be measuring these metrics in conjunction with other metrics, such as average ranking position, to see the overall impact of your SEO efforts.

  • Use industry research to put a monetary value on ranking higher. For example, the fictional company Acme Shoes sells shoes online. The company website recently ranked #4 on a desktop Google search for [women’s shoes].
    • A #4 ranking sends the website 20,000 unique visitors per month.
    • The average value of a website visitor has been calculated at $ 20, therefore ranking at #4 is valued at $ 400,000/month.
    • Research has shown that, on average, the #4 ranking gets 7.3% of Google results page clicks, and the #1 ranking gets 32.8% of page clicks — 4.5x more. Therefore, it can be estimated that increasing ranking to #1 will lead to 90,000 monthly unique visitors.
    • The estimated revenue from ranking #1 for [women’s shoes]: $ 1.8m/month.
  • Present different scenarios. For example, what would happen if no SEO efforts are made over the next 12 months? Now in contrast, what do you predict will happen with $ X of investment, and how that would increase even further if doubled? Be sure to have a few options available, not just all-or-nothing.
  • Be very specific about the goals at each level of investment. Find examples of SEO strategies that have had great results. Best case would be results from your own tests in preparation for a larger project, but sometimes even small SEO tests are not approved until the C-suite has bought in. In this case, find case studies from your industry, or research/results of similar tactics to those that you want to implement. The C-Suite want tangible, real-world solutions that are proven to work, not vague ideas.

Tip: A lot of SEO is “free” — it just takes time, knowledge, and resources (which is where it gets expensive) to make it successful. Use the word “free” as much as you can. For example, an online listings component of an SEO strategy may utilize free directory listings.

In summary, an SEO project may address all 4 sections listed above very well, but the key is communication. Great SEO agencies are strong communicators with all stakeholders involved — the marketing team, IT teams, content writers, designers, code developers, etc. It’s important to remember that following best practices, executing SEO tactics in a timely manner, and measuring the results all require clear and concise communication at different levels of the organization.

Congratulations! You’ve perfectly pitched SEO to your C-Suite. You’re almost guaranteed to get the green light! So what now?

Manage expectations from day one.

Basketball player Michael Jordan was once quoted as saying: “Be true to the game, because the game will be true to you. If you try to shortcut the game, then the game will shortcut you. If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you. That’s truly about the game, and in some ways that’s about life, too.”

He could have been talking about SEO.

SEO is a commitment. To reap the long-term benefits, you have to put in the effort with minimal gains at first. Make sure your C-Suite knows this. They might get frustrated that after 3 months of effort, the results are not prominent. But that’s how SEO goes. SEO isn’t a “set it and forget it” tactic. It’s an ongoing program that builds successes with time and consistency.

By setting realistic expectations that it will take several months before results are seen, there won’t be pressure to try other tactics, like paid search or display advertising, at the expense of SEO. Of course, these tactics can complement your SEO efforts and can provide a short-term benefit that SEO can’t, but don’t be swayed from SEO as a core strategy. Stay the course, and keep focused on the long-term benefits of what you’re doing. It will be worth it!

Continually measure and track performance

You should be ready at the drop of a hat to provide up-to-date results with performance measured to key metrics (to the last month) of how your SEO efforts are stacking up. You never know when cost-cutting measures might be implemented, and if you’re not ready with solid results, it might be your program that gets cut.

Show how your SEO efforts compare to other programs in the company, such as social media marketing or paid search. Search is always evolving, so keep up and be seen keeping up. 
Never stop selling!

In the case of our Fortune 500 client, we were able to implement all of the key SEO initiatives by prioritizing and building cases for implementation. After several months, organic search traffic and revenue was leading all other digital marketing channels for this client — more than PPC and email marketing. 
Organic search generated approximately 30% of all visits to the client’s site, while maintaining year-over-year growth of 20–25%. This increase was not simply from branded traffic, however — year-over-year non-branded traffic had increased approximately 50%.

These are the kind of results that are going to make the company executives sit up and take SEO seriously.

To conclude:


As the proponent for SEO in your organization, you play a critical role in ensuring that the strategies with the quickest and biggest impact on results are implemented and prioritized first. There’s no magic bullet with SEO – no one thing that works. A solid SEO strategy — and one that will convince stakeholders of its worth — is made up of a myriad of components from audits to content development, from link building to site architecture. The trick is picking what is going to work for your organization and what isn’t, and this is no mean feat!


For more SEO tips from Mediative, download our new e-book, The Digital Marketer’s Guide to Google’s Search Engine Results Page.

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Does Googlebot Support HTTP/2? Challenging Google’s Indexing Claims – An Experiment

Posted by goralewicz

I was recently challenged with a question from a client, Robert, who runs a small PR firm and needed to optimize a client’s website. His question inspired me to run a small experiment in HTTP protocols. So what was Robert’s question? He asked…

Can Googlebot crawl using HTTP/2 protocols?

You may be asking yourself, why should I care about Robert and his HTTP protocols?

As a refresher, HTTP protocols are the basic set of standards allowing the World Wide Web to exchange information. They are the reason a web browser can display data stored on another server. The first was initiated back in 1989, which means, just like everything else, HTTP protocols are getting outdated. HTTP/2 is one of the latest versions of HTTP protocol to be created to replace these aging versions.

So, back to our question: why do you, as an SEO, care to know more about HTTP protocols? The short answer is that none of your SEO efforts matter or can even be done without a basic understanding of HTTP protocol. Robert knew that if his site wasn’t indexing correctly, his client would miss out on valuable web traffic from searches.

The hype around HTTP/2

HTTP/1.1 is a 17-year-old protocol (HTTP 1.0 is 21 years old). Both HTTP 1.0 and 1.1 have limitations, mostly related to performance. When HTTP/1.1 was getting too slow and out of date, Google introduced SPDY in 2009, which was the basis for HTTP/2. Side note: Starting from Chrome 53, Google decided to stop supporting SPDY in favor of HTTP/2.

HTTP/2 was a long-awaited protocol. Its main goal is to improve a website’s performance. It’s currently used by 17% of websites (as of September 2017). Adoption rate is growing rapidly, as only 10% of websites were using HTTP/2 in January 2017. You can see the adoption rate charts here. HTTP/2 is getting more and more popular, and is widely supported by modern browsers (like Chrome or Firefox) and web servers (including Apache, Nginx, and IIS).

Its key advantages are:

  • Multiplexing: The ability to send multiple requests through a single TCP connection.
  • Server push: When a client requires some resource (let’s say, an HTML document), a server can push CSS and JS files to a client cache. It reduces network latency and round-trips.
  • One connection per origin: With HTTP/2, only one connection is needed to load the website.
  • Stream prioritization: Requests (streams) are assigned a priority from 1 to 256 to deliver higher-priority resources faster.
  • Binary framing layer: HTTP/2 is easier to parse (for both the server and user).
  • Header compression: This feature reduces overhead from plain text in HTTP/1.1 and improves performance.

For more information, I highly recommend reading “Introduction to HTTP/2” by Surma and Ilya Grigorik.

All these benefits suggest pushing for HTTP/2 support as soon as possible. However, my experience with technical SEO has taught me to double-check and experiment with solutions that might affect our SEO efforts.

So the question is: Does Googlebot support HTTP/2?

Google’s promises

HTTP/2 represents a promised land, the technical SEO oasis everyone was searching for. By now, many websites have already added HTTP/2 support, and developers don’t want to optimize for HTTP/1.1 anymore. Before I could answer Robert’s question, I needed to know whether or not Googlebot supported HTTP/2-only crawling.

I was not alone in my query. This is a topic which comes up often on Twitter, Google Hangouts, and other such forums. And like Robert, I had clients pressing me for answers. The experiment needed to happen. Below I’ll lay out exactly how we arrived at our answer, but here’s the spoiler: it doesn’t. Google doesn’t crawl using the HTTP/2 protocol. If your website uses HTTP/2, you need to make sure you continue to optimize the HTTP/1.1 version for crawling purposes.

The question

It all started with a Google Hangouts in November 2015.

When asked about HTTP/2 support, John Mueller mentioned that HTTP/2-only crawling should be ready by early 2016, and he also mentioned that HTTP/2 would make it easier for Googlebot to crawl pages by bundling requests (images, JS, and CSS could be downloaded with a single bundled request).

“At the moment, Google doesn’t support HTTP/2-only crawling (…) We are working on that, I suspect it will be ready by the end of this year (2015) or early next year (2016) (…) One of the big advantages of HTTP/2 is that you can bundle requests, so if you are looking at a page and it has a bunch of embedded images, CSS, JavaScript files, theoretically you can make one request for all of those files and get everything together. So that would make it a little bit easier to crawl pages while we are rendering them for example.”

Soon after, Twitter user Kai Spriestersbach also asked about HTTP/2 support:

His clients started dropping HTTP/1.1 connections optimization, just like most developers deploying HTTP/2, which was at the time supported by all major browsers.

After a few quiet months, Google Webmasters reignited the conversation, tweeting that Google won’t hold you back if you’re setting up for HTTP/2. At this time, however, we still had no definitive word on HTTP/2-only crawling. Just because it won’t hold you back doesn’t mean it can handle it — which is why I decided to test the hypothesis.

The experiment

For months as I was following this online debate, I still received questions from our clients who no longer wanted want to spend money on HTTP/1.1 optimization. Thus, I decided to create a very simple (and bold) experiment.

I decided to disable HTTP/1.1 on my own website (https://goralewicz.com) and make it HTTP/2 only. I disabled HTTP/1.1 from March 7th until March 13th.

If you’re going to get bad news, at the very least it should come quickly. I didn’t have to wait long to see if my experiment “took.” Very shortly after disabling HTTP/1.1, I couldn’t fetch and render my website in Google Search Console; I was getting an error every time.

My website is fairly small, but I could clearly see that the crawling stats decreased after disabling HTTP/1.1. Google was no longer visiting my site.

While I could have kept going, I stopped the experiment after my website was partially de-indexed due to “Access Denied” errors.

The results

I didn’t need any more information; the proof was right there. Googlebot wasn’t supporting HTTP/2-only crawling. Should you choose to duplicate this at home with our own site, you’ll be happy to know that my site recovered very quickly.

I finally had Robert’s answer, but felt others may benefit from it as well. A few weeks after finishing my experiment, I decided to ask John about HTTP/2 crawling on Twitter and see what he had to say.

(I love that he responds.)

Knowing the results of my experiment, I have to agree with John: disabling HTTP/1 was a bad idea. However, I was seeing other developers discontinuing optimization for HTTP/1, which is why I wanted to test HTTP/2 on its own.

For those looking to run their own experiment, there are two ways of negotiating a HTTP/2 connection:

1. Over HTTP (unsecure) – Make an HTTP/1.1 request that includes an Upgrade header. This seems to be the method to which John Mueller was referring. However, it doesn’t apply to my website (because it’s served via HTTPS). What is more, this is an old-fashioned way of negotiating, not supported by modern browsers. Below is a screenshot from Caniuse.com:

2. Over HTTPS (secure) – Connection is negotiated via the ALPN protocol (HTTP/1.1 is not involved in this process). This method is preferred and widely supported by modern browsers and servers.

A recent announcement: The saga continues

Googlebot doesn’t make HTTP/2 requests

Fortunately, Ilya Grigorik, a web performance engineer at Google, let everyone peek behind the curtains at how Googlebot is crawling websites and the technology behind it:

If that wasn’t enough, Googlebot doesn’t support the WebSocket protocol. That means your server can’t send resources to Googlebot before they are requested. Supporting it wouldn’t reduce network latency and round-trips; it would simply slow everything down. Modern browsers offer many ways of loading content, including WebRTC, WebSockets, loading local content from drive, etc. However, Googlebot supports only HTTP/FTP, with or without Transport Layer Security (TLS).

Googlebot supports SPDY

During my research and after John Mueller’s feedback, I decided to consult an HTTP/2 expert. I contacted Peter Nikolow of Mobilio, and asked him to see if there were anything we could do to find the final answer regarding Googlebot’s HTTP/2 support. Not only did he provide us with help, Peter even created an experiment for us to use. Its results are pretty straightforward: Googlebot does support the SPDY protocol and Next Protocol Navigation (NPN). And thus, it can’t support HTTP/2.

Below is Peter’s response:


I performed an experiment that shows Googlebot uses SPDY protocol. Because it supports SPDY + NPN, it cannot support HTTP/2. There are many cons to continued support of SPDY:

    1. This protocol is vulnerable
    2. Google Chrome no longer supports SPDY in favor of HTTP/2
    3. Servers have been neglecting to support SPDY. Let’s examine the NGINX example: from version 1.95, they no longer support SPDY.
    4. Apache doesn’t support SPDY out of the box. You need to install mod_spdy, which is provided by Google.

To examine Googlebot and the protocols it uses, I took advantage of s_server, a tool that can debug TLS connections. I used Google Search Console Fetch and Render to send Googlebot to my website.

Here’s a screenshot from this tool showing that Googlebot is using Next Protocol Navigation (and therefore SPDY):

I’ll briefly explain how you can perform your own test. The first thing you should know is that you can’t use scripting languages (like PHP or Python) for debugging TLS handshakes. The reason for that is simple: these languages see HTTP-level data only. Instead, you should use special tools for debugging TLS handshakes, such as s_server.

Type in the console:

sudo openssl s_server -key key.pem -cert cert.pem -accept 443 -WWW -tlsextdebug -state -msg
sudo openssl s_server -key key.pem -cert cert.pem -accept 443 -www -tlsextdebug -state -msg

Please note the slight (but significant) difference between the “-WWW” and “-www” options in these commands. You can find more about their purpose in the s_server documentation.

Next, invite Googlebot to visit your site by entering the URL in Google Search Console Fetch and Render or in the Google mobile tester.

As I wrote above, there is no logical reason why Googlebot supports SPDY. This protocol is vulnerable; no modern browser supports it. Additionally, servers (including NGINX) neglect to support it. It’s just a matter of time until Googlebot will be able to crawl using HTTP/2. Just implement HTTP 1.1 + HTTP/2 support on your own server (your users will notice due to faster loading) and wait until Google is able to send requests using HTTP/2.


Summary

In November 2015, John Mueller said he expected Googlebot to crawl websites by sending HTTP/2 requests starting in early 2016. We don’t know why, as of October 2017, that hasn’t happened yet.

What we do know is that Googlebot doesn’t support HTTP/2. It still crawls by sending HTTP/ 1.1 requests. Both this experiment and the “Rendering on Google Search” page confirm it. (If you’d like to know more about the technology behind Googlebot, then you should check out what they recently shared.)

For now, it seems we have to accept the status quo. We recommended that Robert (and you readers as well) enable HTTP/2 on your websites for better performance, but continue optimizing for HTTP/ 1.1. Your visitors will notice and thank you.

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Bing rejected 130M ads in 2016, including 17M tech support scam ads

Advertisers attempting Phishing attacks and pushing counterfeit goods continued to try to evade detection.

The post Bing rejected 130M ads in 2016, including 17M tech support scam ads appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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How To Support Data with Real-Life Interviews – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by rcancino

With all the data that today’s marketers can access, there’s often still no substitute for the quality of information you can get from interviewing real people. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, we welcome Rebekah Cancino — a partner at Phoenix-based Onward and #MozCon 2016 speaker — to teach us the whys and hows of great interviews.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi, Moz fans. I’m Rebekah Cancino. I’m a partner at Onward, and I lead content strategy and user experience design. Today I’m here to talk to you about how to support the data you have, your keyword data, data around search intent, analytics with real life user interviews.

So recently, Rand has been talking a little more about the relationship between user experience design and SEO, whether it’s managing the tensions between the two or the importance of understanding the path to customer purchase. He said that in order to understand that path, we have to talk to real people. We have to do interviews, whether that’s talking to actual users or maybe just people inside your company that have an understanding of the psychographics and the demographics of your target audience, so people like sales folks or customer service reps.

Now, maybe you’re a super data-driven marketer and you haven’t felt the need to talk to real people and do interviews in the past, or maybe you have done user interviews and you found that you got a bunch of obvious insights and it was a huge waste of time and money.

I’m here to tell you that coupling your data with real interviews is always going to give you better results. But having interviews that are useful can be a little bit tricky. The interviews that you do are only as good as the questions you ask and the approach that you take. So I want to make sure that you’re all set and prepared to have really good user interviews. All it takes is a little practice and preparation.

It’s helpful to think of it like this. So the data is kind of telling us what happened. It can tell us about online behaviors, things like keywords, keyword volume, search intent. We can use tools, like KeywordTool.io or Ubersuggest or even Moz’s Keyword Explorer, to start to understand that.

We can look at our analytics, entry and exit pages, bounces, pages that get a lot of views, all of that stuff really important and we can learn a lot from it. But with our interviews, what we’re learning about is the why.

This is the stuff that online data just can’t tell us. This is about those offline behaviors, the emotions, beliefs, attitudes that drive the behaviors and ultimately the purchase decisions. So these two things working together can help us get a really great picture of the whole story and make smarter decisions.

So say, for example, you have an online retailer. They sell mainly chocolate-dipped berries. They’ve done their homework. They’ve seen that most of the keywords people are using tend to be something like “chocolate dipped strawberries gifts” or “chocolate dipped strawberries delivered.” And they’ve done the work to make sure that they’ve done their on-page optimization and doing a lot of other smart things too using that.

But then they also noticed that their Mother’s Day packages and their graduation gifts are not doing so well. They’re starting to see a lot of drop-offs around that product description page and a higher cart abandonment rate than usual.

Now, given the data they had, they might make decisions like, “Well, let’s see if we can do a little more on-page keyword optimization to reflect what’s special about the graduation and Mother’s Day gifts, or maybe we can refine the user experience of the checkout process. But if they talk to some real users — which they did, this is a real story — they might learn that people who send food gift items, they worry about: Is the person I’m sending the gift to, are they going to be home when this gift arrives? Because this is a perishable item, like chocolate-dipped berries, will it melt?

Now, this company, they do a lot of work to protect the berries. The box that they arrive in is super insulated. It’s like its own cooler. They have really great content that tells that story. The problem is that content is buried in the FAQs instead of on the pages in places it matters most — the product detail, the checkout flow.

So you can see here how there’s an opportunity to use the data and the interview insights together to make smarter decisions. You can get to insights like that for your organization too. Let’s talk about some tips that are going to help you make smarter interview decisions.

So the first one is to talk to a spectrum of users who represent your ideal audience. Maybe, like with this berry example, their ideal customer tends to skew slightly female. You would want that group of people, that you’re talking to, to skew that way too. Perhaps they have a little more disposable income. That should be reflected in the group of people that you’re interviewing and so forth. You get it.

The next one is to ask day-in-the-life, open-ended questions. This is really important. If you ask typical marketing questions like, “How likely are you to do this or that?” or, “Tell me on a scale of 1 to 10 how great this was,” you’ll get typical marketing answers. What we want is real nuanced answers that tell us about someone’s real experience.

So I’ll ask questions like, “Tell me about the last time you bought a food gift online? What was that like?” We’re trying to get that person to walk us through their journey from the minute they’re considering something to how they vet the solutions to actually making that purchase decision.

Next is don’t influence the answers. You don’t want to bias someone’s response by introducing an idea. So I wouldn’t say something like, “Tell me about the last time you bought a food gift online. Were you worried that it would spoil?” Now I’ve set them on a path that maybe they wouldn’t have gone on to begin with. It’s much better to let that story unfold naturally.

Moving on, dig deeper. Uncover the why, really important. Maybe when you’re talking to people you realize that they like to cook and by sharing a food item gift with someone who’s far away, they can feel closer to them. Maybe they like gifts to reflect how thoughtful they are or what good tastes they have. You always want to uncover the underlying motives behind the actions people are taking.

So don’t be too rushed in skipping to the next question. If you hear something that’s a little bit vague or maybe you see a point that’s interesting, follow up with some probes. Ask things like, “Tell me more about that,” or, “Why is that? What did you like about it?” and so on.

Next, listen more than you talk. You have maybe 30 to 45 minutes max with each one of these interviews. You don’t want to waste time by inserting yourself into their story. If that happens, it’s cool, totally natural. Just find a way to back yourself out of that and bring the focus back to the person you’re interviewing as quickly and naturally as possible.

Take note of phrases and words that they use. Do they say things like “dipped berries” instead of “chocolate-dipped strawberries?” You want to pay attention to the different ways and phrases that they use. Are there regional differences? What kinds of words do they use to describe your product or service or experience? Are the berries fun, decadent, luxurious? By learning what kind of language and vocabulary people use, you can have copy, meta descriptions, emails that take that into account and reflect that.

Find the friction. So in every experience that we have, there’s always something that’s kind of challenging. We want to get to the bottom of that with our users so we can find ways to mitigate that point of friction earlier on in the journey. So I might ask someone a question like, “What’s the most challenging thing about the last time you bought a food gift?”

If that doesn’t kind of spark an idea with them, I might say something even a little more broad, like, “Tell me about a time you were really disappointed in a gift that you bought or a food gift that you bought,” and see where that takes them.

Be prepared. Great interviews don’t happen by accident. Coming up with all these questions takes time and preparation. You want to put a lot of thought into them. By asking questions that tell me about the nature of the whole journey, you want to be clear about your priorities. Know which questions are most important to you and know which ones are must have pieces of information. That way you can use your time wisely while you still let the conversation flow where it takes you.

Finally, relax and breathe. The people you’re interviewing are only going to be as relaxed as you are. If you’re stiff or overly formal or treating this like it’s a chore and you’re bored, they’re going to pick up on that energy and they’re probably not going to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts with you, or there won’t be space for that to happen.

Make sure you let them know ahead of time, like, “Hey, feel free to be honest. These answers aren’t going to be shared in a way that can be attributed directly to you, just an aggregate.”

And have fun with it. Be genuinely curious and excited about what you’re going to learn. They’ll appreciate that too.

So once you’ve kind of finished and you’ve wrapped up those interviews, take a step back. Don’t get too focused or caught up on just one of the results. You want to kind of look at the data in aggregate, the qualitative data and let it talk to you.

What stories are there? Are you seeing any patterns or themes that you can take note of, kind of like the theme around people being worried about the berries melting? Then you can organize those findings and make sure you summarize it and synthesize it in a way that the people who have to use those insights that you’ve gotten can make sense of.

Make sure that you tell real stories and humanize this information. Maybe you recorded the interviews, which is always a really good idea. You can go back and pull out little sound bites or clips of the people saying these really impactful things and use that when you’re presenting the data.

So going back to that berry example, if you recall, we had that data around: Hey, we’re seeing a lot of drop-offs on the product description page. We’re seeing a higher cart abandonment rate. But maybe during the user interviews, we noticed a theme of people talking about how they obsessively click the tracking link on the packages, or they wait for those gift recipients to send them a text message to say, “Hey, I got this present.” As you kind of unraveled why, you noticed that it had to do with the fact that these berries might melt and they’re worried about that.

Well, now you can elevate the content that you have around how those berries are protected in a little cooler-like box on the pages and the places it matters most. So maybe there’s a video or an animated GIF that shows people how the berries are protected, right there in the checkout flow.

I hope that this encourages you to get out there and talk to real users, find out about their context and use that information to really elevate your search data. It’s not about having a big sample size or a huge survey. It’s much more about getting to real life experiences around your product or service that adds depth to the data that you have. In doing that, hopefully you’ll be able to increase some conversions and maybe even improve behavioral metrics, so those UX metrics that, I don’t know, theoretically could lead to higher organic visibility anyway.

That’s all for now. Thanks so much. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Google Search Adds Support For App Indexing In Safari On iOS 9

By the end of October, searching on Google in Safari on iOS 9 will provide deep links into apps, when appropriate and where publishers have taken action.

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SearchCap: SEO Support, SEO Mistakes & DuckDuckGo Answers

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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Learn From Dana Lookadoo, Support Her Medical Fund

Posted by jennita

One aspect of the Moz Community that doesn’t get mentioned enough is the individual community members who were here in the early days of SEOmoz. The folks who stuck around when our tools were brand new, when Rand was “just another SEO guy,” and when our community was really just a bunch of folks talking about SEO.

One of those early members was Dana Lookadoo. She joined Moz in April 2007, and has been a supporter, trainer, and mentor to many others ever since. Whether it’s the blog posts she’s written, the thoughtful comments she’s left, or the presentations she’s given at MozCon and in webinars, she’s provided for this community like few others have.

Last year, Dana took a
horrible fall when she was on a bike ride (she’s an avid cyclist), and broke her neck and back. She’s had many ups and downs since the accident, and hasn’t been able to work full-time. Dana now suffers intense burning from neuropathy and muscle spacicity that has spread from head to toe, and she has burning and spasms covering approximately 75% of her body. Her mobility and function is greatly limited and she suffers a lot of pain each day.

She splits her time between the wheelchair, the bed, and some in the walker. Unfortunately, over the last few days she’s had so much pain and spasms that she isn’t walking as much. It is also quite difficult for Dana to deal with bright lights, and she can’t spend much time on her phone or computer.

Dana has given so much to the Moz community, and to our industry as a whole. Her knowledge and generosity has helped marketers for many years, and now it’s our turn to return the favor. She’s in need of part-time caregivers, which cost $ 4,125 per month. That’s almost
$ 50k for a year (…and that’s only part-time!). This doesn’t include paying for the multiple hospital stays, visits to the ER, physical therapy, occupational therapy, neuropathy treatment, and so on.

I’m asking you to help one of our amazing community members by donating to her medical fund. Every little bit helps, and you can even set up a monthly payment (I’m doing $ 25 per month). If you don’t have the means, please help us spread the word. It’s our turn to give back to Dana.

I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of Dana’s amazing work she’s done for the Moz Community, as so much of it remains great advice to marketers.


Stress-free Website Redesign for Search and Social

Download a PDF of the presentation

In September 2013, just two months before her accident, Dana presented an excellent webinar with us about how to make sure your search and social efforts don’t go to waste when you redesign a website. The full webinar is a little over an hour, but believe me, it’s worth the watch.








Rock Your SEO with Structured Social Sharing

At MozCon 2012, Dana was one of our very first Community Speakers to rock the stage. After seeing how well these presentations were received, we decided to continue the program each year. We’ve always been grateful to Dana for helping to make this so successful. In her presentation she discusses how to make your SEO even better by ensuring your social sharing is set up correctly. Give it a watch!

And if you’d like to just check out the slide deck, you can view that below:


I could honestly go on and on, as she’s been such an integral piece of the greater online marketing community. 

Donations needed

Please take a few moments and donate what you can. Every little bit helps! If you don’t have the means, we understand that as well, and hope you’ll share the post and fund using the methods below.

Please help share

Let’s get the word out! Here are some easy ways to help make a difference for Dana:

Lazy RT: https://twitter.com/Moz/status/560516906675736578

Embed a widget on your site:

<object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" width="258" height="338" title="Click Here to donate!" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"><param name="movie" value="http://funds.gofundme.com/Widgetflex.swf" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="flashvars" value="page=danalookadoo&template=11" /><param name="wmode" value="transparent" /><embed allowScriptAccess="always" src="http://funds.gofundme.com/Widgetflex.swf" quality="high" flashVars="page=danalookadoo&template=11" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="258" height="338"></embed></object>

Share this image on Twitter

If you have other ideas on how to get the word out and help our fellow community member, let’s hear it. Thank you all for your support and assistance.

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How to Achieve Stellar Alignment Between Marketing & Customer Support

iStock 000014997780Smallintroductory3

The prospect-to-lead-to-customer process is a fairly simple concept to understand. In a very basic summary, Marketing’s role is in attracting and converting prospects into leads. Then they nurture those leads into a state of sales readiness, at which point they’re distributed to sales representatives who focus on converting those leads into customers.

Your salespeople likely give these brand new customers a warm, fuzzy feeling that they’re investing their money wisely. But even top-notch products and services can get confusing, and sometimes your customers encounter unforeseen issues.

So what do they do? They call Customer Service or Support. Ah yes … Support.

As much as we hate to admit it, many companies’ customer service/support reps are often an afterthought, even though these are the people who resolve customer issues and make everything okay again. Even though these are the people who often bear the brunt of those extremely vexed customers. And even though these are the people who are often times the last voice or interaction a customer has with your brand.

After all, you want to ensure your brand advocates remain loyal and continue to love everything about your business, don’t you? You want that warm and fuzzy feeling your customers had when they were just prospects to carry on throughout their experiences as customers, right? Right. So as a marketer, here are some things you should keep in mind to ensure your customers’ experiences stay positive from their beginning as marketing prospects all the way through to their dealings with Support.

1) Keep Your Marketing & Support Strategy Aligned

Don’t you love when you’re apartment or house hunting, and you find the right realtor who is there to guide you and help you make the right choice? She tells you about all the amenities of your potential new home and convinces you that the deal is just too good to pass up. Then you sign the dotted line, and BAM! The realtor no longer cares about you — her job is done. And as it turns out, those amenities will cost you extra, and you were totally ripped off. That’s sort of how your customers feel when they go from being treated like a special gem in the sales cycle to suddenly being neglected on a support call.

bad customer service cartoonIf your marketing and sales strategy includes bending over backwards to make your prospects and leads happy, your support strategy should, too.

Example: I was once the victim of a major domain hosting issue. The hosting company’s website had no support line, no immediate help, and the email back-and-forth between me and their rep was a complete waste of time. So I called GoDaddy. Even though this specific domain wasn’t hosted with GoDaddy, the rep spent 40 minutes ensuring my problem was solved just because I was a customer with them on another account. As a result, I transferred everything to GoDaddy and have become a huge brand advocate because I know that whenever I need help, GoDaddy’s support team will explain it in a language I understand and hold my hand as I complete the entire task.

Solution: Fortunately, the answer to this disconnect between departments is simple — be consistent! Sit down with your company’s support team manager and explain what your main marketing pitch sounds like. Describe to what extent the marketing team goes in their efforts to make prospects and leads happy and how you communicate with prospects across your various marketing platforms. This way, the support manager can digest this information and share it with the rest of the team so support reps can treat their phone calls and communication with customers with the same amount of respect and attentiveness they’re used to from Marketing.

2) Keep Your Support Team in the Loop With Marketing Plans

If your marketing team is about to announce an upcoming event or make a brand new product launch, your support team needs to know. Whenever your marketing team is finalizing plans for a new announcement or promotion, it’s crucial to keep your support department in the loop. The phone number for your support or customer service team is often the go-to for website visitors looking to chat with someone at your company (even if they’re not even customers), so it’s crucial that your support reps are in the know about all the happenings in Marketing. Failing to do so can undermine your business’ professionalism and irritate prospects and customers.

Example: My roommate once called our cable company after seeing a new pricing promotion commercial. When she asked the support rep about getting the deal, the rep had no knowledge of the promotion or that such a deal was even available. Let’s just say my roommate’s interaction with Support wasn’t exactly a positive one.

Solution: Whether it requires an hour-long training session to ensure the support department knows what changes are on the horizon that will then impact the phone calls they receive, or  it’s simply a periodic email message that thoroughly explains upcoming changes or promotions, your support team needs to know everything. To ensure they’re digesting the information, speak with your support managers and encourage them to implement a system that holds each support rep responsible for staying up-to-date with the latest marketing and product news.

At HubSpot, we host a monthly “Prustomer” (Product + Customer = Prustomer!) meeting. This meeting is attended by the people who make the product and the people who work with our customers. In addition, a marketing representative attends this meeting to inform everyone about the latest marketing updates the customer team should be aware of. Implementing a meeting like this is a great way to keep everyone aware of the latest marketing initiatives and how to communicate them effectively.

3) Maintain a Consistent Tone

At first, your prospects are attracted to your friendly and informational personality — because you’re such an awesome inbound marketer! They eventually convert into leads and customers because they recognize the need your content and products/services fulfill, and they’re pleased with the end result of using them. You don’t want this positive brand image to deteriorate because they spoke on the phone with a cranky or unhelpful support rep with a “figure it out” attitude.

Having a negative view of a brand post-support phone call is not uncommon — despite the common stereotype that talking to Support is a miserable experience. You should want your support reps to replicate the tone your customers are already used to from your marketing and sales processes.

Example: At HubSpot, our marketing team decided to make “HubSpotting” a verb. We launched case studies about why people love HubSpotting and even had a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #HubSpotting. We very clearly communicated that idea to everyone who had anything to do with HubSpot. Now, when a HubSpot customer calls a support rep, his/her phone call concludes with something along the lines of, “Is there anything else I can help with while you’re HubSpotting today?” Or if a support rep sends an email, their signature includes, “Thank you, and happy HubSpotting!”

 

hubspot support

 

Solution: Make tone consistency a priority not only for your marketing team, but also for your support team. Whether you communicate this in a written style guide or through a company-wide presentation, make sure everyone at your company understands the desired tone of your brand and uses it throughout their communications. In addition, think of ways to integrate that tone, which you’ll primarily use in your marketing campaigns, with your support strategy. Is there a campaign you’re running that particularly shows off the personality and tone of your brand? Can you incorporate it into your support communication in a way that emphasizes a cohesive brand message, as HubSpot has done with its #HubSpotting campaign?

4) Assign a ‘Phone a Friend’ in Each Department

When Twitter first became popular for business, the marketing industry began talking about it as a customer service tool. That idea has been weaved through every social network in existence. In fact, a recent E-DIALOG survey revealed that 22% of Americans and 40% of Europeans interact with a brand on Facebook only to resolve customer service problems. The problem is, your social media manager isn’t necessarily the know-it-all for all product and service issues!

Example: My internet service provider once kept me on hold for 40 minutes. Naturally, I went to Twitter and started complaining. The person responsible for the brand’s social media account responded and asked me if she wanted to get me in touch with a support rep to resolve my issue. While it was nice of her to reach out, clearly she didn’t realize I had already  been on hold for a customer service rep, and her offer was moot.

Solution: Ask your support team to volunteer one or two reps who would be willing to respond to customer service inquiries in social media. No support representative will likely have the bandwidth to regularly troll your social media messages for support-related questions, but you can set up a system in which your social media manager has a couple support reps to contact when he/she spots a support question in social media. That way, the right person is responding with the right answer! And this stands true for the opposite direction. Sometimes your support reps are asked marketing questions on the phone and need a fast answer. Have someone in Marketing who they can contact for quick, accurate assistance.

5) Allow Employees to Experience Both Departments

So what makes all the aforementioned alignment between Marketing and Support actually happen? What is the overarching theme? In essence, there is not enough communication and understanding between Support and Marketing. Your support team should understand why Marketing does what it does, while Marketing should understand how Support does its job. And every example provided in the four previous tips highlight this very issue.

Example: I was recently given the opportunity to simultaneously work on HubSpot’s support team part-time and on our marketing team part-time. This allowed me to see exactly how our support team deals with our customers and how they meet their every demand. It was eye-opening to see how many marketing-related questions these reps often have to deal with and how crucial a support team is to growing and improving HubSpot’s products.

Solution: There are various ways you can integrate these two teams and improve the communication and synergy between them. Be open to switching around employees in order to strengthen their knowledge of the company and individual departments. If you ever host hack nights or similar events, invite your support team to join. During our last marketing hack night, a support rep came and helped create and implement an entire marketing plan from ebook creation to email execution. She now has a much clearer understanding of how a marketing campaign is laid out. Similarly, ask your marketing managers to sit in on support calls so they have a better understanding of the types of questions prospects and customers ask. It might even give them some content inspiration. In fact, it was because of my own experiences on HubSpot’s support team that I was motivated to write this very blog post!

Do you have any additional tips for integrating your marketing and support teams?



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Google Adds Rich Snippet Support For Music

Google announced they have added yet another rich snippet support, this one is for music results. The snippet will display the name of the song, the duration of the clip, and the album the song is from. The song title will link to the site’s specific page for that song. This works for both audio…



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