Posted by Whitespark
This post was originally in YOUmoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc.
Whitespark is an Edmonton Search Engine Optimization and Web Design Company in Canada
Having recently returned from the SEOmoz Pro Training Seminar Series, I wanted to recap a few of the things I learned, and create a list of actionable items that I need to start implementing in my SEO business. I’m writing this for my own reference, but figure that I might as well write it as a YouMoz post as it could be useful for those of you who couldn’t attend. Of course, what I found valuable and actionable may be different from what other attendees found valuable, so if you attended the seminar it would be great if you could share your top take-aways in the comments. The conference was packed with a ton of useful information, and this list focuses on the items that I’m currently excited about.
Take-Away #1 – Ask For A Link In Order Emails (And Other Customer Communications)
Tom Critchlow suggested asking for a link in your order emails. It’s a genius tactic, and I’m ashamed to say that I have heard this tip a few times before, but haven’t implemented it yet. That’s no good. This is so simple, so easy to do, and potentially so valuable that there is no excuse for not doing it, right now.
If you control the code on your e-commerce sites, then stop reading right this minute, fire up your code editor, and add some kind of version of this text to your outgoing order confirmation emails:
Do you have a website or blog? Link to us! Just copy and paste this code: <a href=http://www.oursite.com>Subtly Optimized Anchor Text</a>
If you don’t control the code, then stop reading right this minute and fire off an email to your dev team.
I just did this on five different e-commerce sites I manage and it took me exactly four minutes and 12 seconds. You do the math and figure out what the ROI is on that, even if it results in just a few extra links.
While you’re at it, think about other places this could be added to. Put it in the footer of your email marketing, put it on your website somewhere, maybe even put it in your email signature. You’ll be surprised what people will do when you tell them to, and "link to us" is a clear and direct call to action.
Take-Away #2 – Use The Top Pages Tool To Identify Your Competitors’ Link Bait And Learn From It
Rand pointed out that you can use the Top Pages Tool (Pro only) on your competitors’ sites to see the pages that have earned them the most links. Run this on a good set of sites in your industry to learn about what kind of link bait content will likely be successful for attracting links to your own site.
Take-Away #3 – Use The Google Adwords Keyword Tool To Identify Keywords That Have High Search Volume, But Low Competition
Ken Jurina from my home town of Edmonton, Canada showed how you can run your keywords through the Google Adwords tool and then sort the columns to identify high search volume keywords that have low competition. Optimize a page of your site for these terms for some easy pickings in the rankings!
Take-Away #4 – Use The Top Pages On Domain Tool To Find Linked To Pages On Your Domain That Should Be Redirected
This may be old news for many of you, but somehow I missed a great YouMoz post from Richard Baxter where he describes a sweet side-effect of the Top Pages Tool. You can run your domains through it and it will show you all the pages that have in-links, but that are now 404ing. Redirect them and keep that link juice flowing through your site!
You might be thinking that you can identify these cases in Google Webmaster tools, but there are a couple scenarios I can think of where you might not be able to:
- You’re analyzing a site for a prospective client where you haven’t been given access to their Webmaster Tools.
- When the old domain has been redirected to a new domain. Webmaster tools won’t show you the data if the entire domain has been redirected (I think), but the Top Pages tool will. This is the case that Richard points out in his post. This is awesome because now you can 301 those "lost" pages too.
Take-Away #5 – Use The Competitive Link Finder!!!
Nick just posted about this hot new SEOmoz tool, so maybe you’re already aware of it, but I saw this for the first time at the Pro Training Seminar and it is crazy awesome. Looking for some links? This tool makes it so easy! They have officially called it the Competitive Link Finder, but I like to think of it as the "Link Intersect Tool". You punch in your domain, and your competitors’ domains (works best with 3 or more competitors), and the tool magically shows you the pages that link to multiple competitors. If they link to a couple of your competitors, then chances are good that you can be included in that list too with a carefullycraftedemail.
Take-Away #6 – Optimize Your Google Local Listings With these Tips
David Mihm is a great speaker and his talk was full of great info. Here are some of my highlights from it:
- It’s better to claim your listings manually, even for multiple listings. Google trusts these more as bulk uploads are susceptible to spam.
- Use Keywords in the Business Title, but don’t overdue it. (I can say from experience that this is a huge LBC ranking factor.)
- Adding custom categories can be a helpful ranking factor. Use the maximum # allowed. (I have also found this to be a big factor in my own Local rankings.)
- "Citations" are the links of Google Local rankings. Get listed on Localeze, InfoUSA, Openlist.com, etc. Americans should check out this list of places to get citations. Others should check out David’s guides to citations in Canada, UK, Australia, and Continental Europe.
- You can also identify citation sources by checking the "Web Pages" tab of your competitors.
- You can use the search engines to find even more citation sources:
- yourcity, st blog
- yourcity, st directory
- yourindustry, st blog
- yourindustry, st directory
- yourindustry yourcity, st blog
- yourindustry yourstate directory
Take-Away #7 – Use the Google Adwords Content Network To Find Sites To Buy Links From Directly
Tom Critchlow mentioned this tip in his talk. Building links can be hard work. If you have more cash than time and want to just buy some links, this is a great tip for identifying potential link sellers. If they are trying to make money on their sites with Adsense ads, then chances are good that you could contact them about "purchasing some advertising". If you’re willing to walk a grey line, well, then this could be an interesting tip for you.
Take-Away #8 – Enjoy Some Serious Link Love By Becoming A "Green" Business
Also from Tom’s talk, "going green" can be a great way to get some authoritative links! There are a ton of sites out there that will list your business if it’s "green". Ethical Directory, EcoFirms.org, Guide Me Green, etc. If you’re not green now, then figure out what you can do to be more earth friendly in your business, get a badge and info up on your site about it, and then contact all these sites that list green businesses.
This tip got me thinking about other angles for this. I can imagine plenty of link opportunities for a shoe store that sells "vegan shoes". I can imagine a pet supply company that donates a portion of its profits to animal shelters. I can probably think of something along these lines for almost any business.
Take Away #9 – Use Seth Besmertnik‘s Market Opportunity Calculator To Help With Your SEO Sales Pitch
Seth Besmertnik‘s talk was super funny, and super valuable. One of my favourites of the seminar for sure. He showed us how to demonstrate the value of SEO, and how to keep an SEO project on track.
You can download his presentation and a number of useful spreadsheets here: How to Win SEO Budget and Influence your CMO. One that I particularly like is the Market Opportunity Calculator. All you have to do is this…
- Input the list of keywords in Column B
- Input Current Rank in Column C
- Input Global Monthly Search Volume in Column D
- Input Conversion Rate in Column R
- Input Average Value per Conversion in Column S
… and the Excel template will produce stats on what your current market share is for those terms, and what your potential market share could be if you had top positions. It also gives you a great looking pie chart that should make the serious ca$h value of SEO very clear to your potential clients.
Take Away #10 – Start Working On Your Conversion Rate Optimization Immediately
Is it just me, or do many of you also suck at Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)? After seeing Ben Jesson’s presentation on CRO, I felt like I had just received a serious wake-up call to remember why I’m optimizing websites in the first place. I’ve been so caught up with increasing my clients’ ranking and traffic, that I have not been giving nearly enough attention to making sure that the visitors we do get become customers. Sure, I have dabbled in this a little bit by removing extraneous text from my forms, moving the important stuff above the fold, and dropping in a few starburst graphics to get attention, but damn, I have a lot to learn. Fortunately, Ben’s presentation was full of great advice and direction.
There are many things you can and should be doing to better understand your customer’s needs so that you can properly address them on your website. If I had to pick out a few pieces of wisdom from the presentation for you, it would be these:
- Implement tools on your website to learn from your customers. Find out what their objections are to buying your product, signing up for your service, subscribing to your e-newsletter, or whatever conversion goals you have, and then make sure you address those objections clearly on your site.
- Get some unbiased feedback on your website (not from your friends or family.) Ben’s tip: ask someone at a café if they wouldn’t mind giving you some feedback on your site. Tell them you’ve just had it redesigned and you’re just not sure about it. Offer to buy them a coffee. One of the best quotes from the seminar was when Ben said something like "The sign of a good usability test is when you’re holding back the tears because they told you the truth about the problems with your site."
- Here is a list of good tools for learning about your customers
- Long sales pages are ok when done right. In fact, they are often necessary to be able to address all the different objections your customers might have about your products or services. Check out the Conversion Rate Experts optimized SEOmoz Pro Page, or the Amazon Kindle Product Page for two very successful examples.
Conversion Rate Optimization has a massive return on investment. Get started on it right away!
Check out these great articles on the Conversion Rate Experts website, and also sign up for their newsletter. I have been on their list since January, and they do not spam you. They just send you an occasional email every few weeks that is full of good tips.
Well, that covers the top take-aways I can think of at the moment. I am certain that I forgot a few gems, so please, if you attended the seminar, it would be great to get your additions in the comments. Hope this post is helpful to you!
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