SEO used to be full of quick wins (and even quicker failures) but since Google fell in love with brands we’ve all had to become a bit more patient. Brands aren’t developed overnight, so no longer are great SEO campaigns.
The new emphasis placed on brands, however, has created its own short term opportunities, and for most businesses there won’t be a long term brand without short term profit, so here are my top 5 quick wins for the impatient marketer:
- Channelling caged up authority
This is the easiest but unfortunately only applies to a small number of websites. Those sites that are bubbling with brand signals but where Google just can’t work out what it is that the website actually does. Or perhaps it can understand the overall service (via the home page) but can’t get its clunky algorithmic head around the details due to a shortage of well-constructed inner pages. These puppies don’t come around often but when they do it’s the easiest win you’ll ever see. Here’s an example of a gym website that had a strong brand but no location pages for each gym. We threw the location pages up and within a couple of months the traffic had quadrupled.
- Ecommerce sites with dynamically generated content
This is really just an extension of the above. It’s where an ecommerce site has lots of sub category and product content, but it’s all dynamically generated which means that there are no static URL’s for the search engines to crawl. That’s fine in some instances – for example you probably don’t need a static URL generated when you filter by price – but when you filter by something like brand it’s critical that the page can actually be found and returned in the SERPs. Here is an example of a music ecommerce site that we began working with in 2012. The first thing we did was add a static URL structure for the brand pages. It took a bit of time for the new URL’s to index, but after three months the traffic had doubled.
- Conversion optimisation
I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of endless A/B testing. It’s just not my bag. I prefer to do things a little more intuitively. So when a new client tells me (as has happened twice in the last 10 days) that they send all of their adwords traffic to the home page of their site, I put absolutely everything else on ice and immediately schedule the creation of a basic landing page. This is an obvious and extreme example, but CRO for me is almost always the place to begin, as unlike social, links, pr and even content, any successful activity doesn’t just result in a temporary spike, but an enduring increase in the profitability of the site.
- Email marketing
Clients rarely come to us for email marketing, and yet so often it’s where we find our early success. Back in January we had just started working with a large female fashion brand. They had come to us for SEO but in our early conversations it transpired that they had a considerable email database that was rarely being used and when it was it was primarily for brand awareness rather than direct sales. Email marketing in the ecommerce world, particularly where fashion is concerned, is one of the most powerful revenue generating tools in the armoury, so we immediately postponed our plans with the SEO and concentrated on developing the email strategy. By the end of the first month we had hit our three month revenue targets, and we had barely even looked at the website.
- Getting to grips with the numbers of the company to find opportunities to scale
It’s amazing just how few businesses are really in control of their numbers. One of the first questions I ask each new client is “what is the profit value of a lead”, taking into account conversion rates, longevity of the average business relationship and referral rates. Very few can answer this which means they have no idea whether or not they can run an advertising campaign profitably. The consequence of this could either be to overspend or underspend. Almost always the latter. I recently had this with a client who had almost zero cost per additional unit sold (they sell a virtual service over their website) and therefore the business was extremely scalable. However, as they had no idea about the true long term value of each lead, they had limited their adwords spending to around £10 CPA, approximately 5% of the true value. Once I’d established this I explained that until they were spending £199.99 for each new lead, they may as well make their adwords campaign more aggressive as there will be a positive net return. Needless to say we are now ramping up the adwords spend in a BIG way.
So the quick wins are still there. The difference now is that they are sector and business specific. One sneaky trick isn’t going to give every campaign you manage a boost, but by understanding your client’s world you may well find there’s a tactic specific to their circumstances that can give them that fast traction we used to associate with traditional SEO. Only this time, you won’t be nervously awaiting the unpredictable effects of the next Google update!