A digital newsroom can help you discover what users are saying about your brand and industry as well as any gaps in your site’s content, providing an opportunity to reach users using their questions and insights.
Especially in times of crisis, it’s imperative to help your consumers and users as quickly as possible.
One of the easiest ways to help keep your consumers informed is to answer their questions by monitoring your brand, mining chat logs, and discovering themes to create content while all using free tools.
While some of the examples are COVID-19 impact related, you can apply these examples to your brand in any climate.
Talkwalker has a free alert monitoring feature that allows you to use advanced search operators to make your alerts very specific.
You can choose how often you would like to receive alerts in your inbox. You can choose “As it happens” to keep an eye on Twitter in near real-time. Talkwalker also divides alerts into Blogs, Forums, websites and social to help you easily prioritize based on your strategy.
Talkwalker Alert examples:
“Brand name” OR “variation of brand name”
“Industry” AND “COVID-19” OR “coronavirus”
“Brand name” AND “COVID-19” OR “cornoavirus”
“Industry” AND “non-essential”
“Industry” AND “essential”
Help-A-Reporter-Out (HARO) is usually used for link building. However, noting the Industry topics displayed in HARO can help with content ideation and give you a cursory look at what the news is going to cover.
If you have a service or product that can help solve a problem within the realm of those topics, you have a unique opportunity to give expertise on and be an authority in the space.
For example, a law firm or legal expert could provide their lens on future legislature due to COVID-19.
Using Google Analytics Site Search you can discover new terms users are searching on your site that you may not have content satisfying their needs or questions. In times of change, this is your first line of defense to better understand how you can provide new solutions to your audience’s shifting needs from you.
If you do have content related to new site searches, consider moving that piece of content further up in your site architecture or use CTA’s to help users find the available information. This is especially important if new information is being released daily as we’ve seen with COVID-19.
Pro tip 💡: You can save the report and name it to quickly navigate and see any week-over-week new or emerging terms:
Chat logs can reveal information users are seeking in real or close to real-time. But, depending on the number of chats your site experiences, it can be overwhelming to sift through the text and gain any insights. That’s where N-grams come in.
Use the frequency of terms to help you quickly dig further into actual requests to get more context around the user’s inquiry. Depending on the context, you may want to revise or create content to help your users and cut down on your chat bloat. You may also use this data to create a timely FAQ section.
No matter the climate, creating a digital newsroom can be used to help users get answers to their questions more quickly and build trust with your site.
Over the past couple of weeks, paid search specialists Adthena have been sharing some fascinating insight into how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the paid search sector in markets around the globe.
I spoke to Adthena’s VP of marketing Ashley Fletcher about the questions C-level executives are asking, their plans in the short and longer-term, and what he is observing in the data.
We’re past the shock stage
C-level executives now want to see the lay of the land amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Retailers, for instance, want a view of who’s moving out and many are asking:
What’s happened to strategy?
How are markets reacting?
How do we now adjust?
Paid search is a fantastic window on all of this. While our offline lives have been massively disrupted by the coronavirus, the paid search sector is comparatively ever-present. We see customers switch to the channel when they can’t use others and we have good segmentation within data across products and more business verticals.
“Search intelligence offers not only remarkable clarity but also a real-time lens into market movements, trends, and opportunities across verticals and in close to real-time”,
Fletcher writes at the Adthena blog.
“PPC is a stable, transparent refuge every marketer needs to be leveraging right now to keep the oars in the water.”
There is positivity even in industries that have been hardest hit
One of the surprises for Fletcher is that the sentiment among marketers he is speaking to is not all doom and gloom.
“Businesses like the UK travel sector (we’re seeing this with some of our hotel chain clients) have been the hardest hit. But the positive aspect of this is we are already seeing this sector with eyes on their recovery and looking at where they go next”,
“People are prepared to lower spend now, but are gearing up for coming out the other side.”
Data showing significant feats of agility
It is not only the travel sector which has had to change track quickly.
“In the food vertical, many brands have been seen to suspend some generic ads, but they are keeping the lights on for brand traffic”,
“Managers are coming to the paid search data asking: What’s my brand looking like while competition might be able to take more capacity?”
This is particularly visible as vast numbers of users seek to use delivery services offered by the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s in the UK, as well as Coles in Australia (see below).
Digital-first brands like Amazon, Catch, and Hello Fresh are jumping into the gaps created when the legacy supermarkets have quickly hit capacity for food grocery deliveries.
We can also see Amazon shifting paid ad priorities to essential products, which is creating further gaps. This means other companies like Best Buy have then been able to garner clicks for things Amazon has had the monopoly on till date – such as TVs, kitchenware, and mobile phones.
Fletcher is seeing this agility being demonstrated in other sectors too – from online banking to online betting.
Takeaways for digital marketers
The paid search sector gives us a fascinating glimpse into the disruption at play across the global business. But the positivity, agility, and resolve on display is heartening too.
The real-time data available to paid search marketers answer three key questions
How consumer habits sometimes shift rapidly
How their brands are retaining visibility in the melee
How competitors are changing strategy and focus in order to adapt
In some cases, we can certainly see prices go up and clicks go down as users and brands change their ways. The flipside of this is that gaps and opportunities are opening up in surprising places as big names shift their focus to specific products and services. Smart marketers will be observing those gaps and acting on them.
Yet, the most important takeaway from Adthena’s data is a long-term strategy
Here in the UK and US, we may still be in the beginning stages of this global event, but while many businesses have been forced to make some quick near-term changes, some are already making plans as to what their priorities will be when coronavirus is behind them.
Marketers can expect that business and consumer habits may well be altered entirely, but in the very least the value of search and data will continue to be vital. In order to remain agile and competitive in the markets of tomorrow, it’s likely to become even more important.
Are you considering switching from the classic editor to the block editor? That’s great, as the block editor will give you lots of possibilities to create awesome, high-quality and high-ranking content! Not sure how to go about this though? Don’t look any further. Here, we’ll guide you through the process of making the switch to the block editor step-by-step.
Did you know we just released a freeonlinecourse about the WordPress block editor? If you want to learn all about creating awesome content with the block editor, you should definitely check it out!
Before we explain how to make the switch to the block editor, let’s see why we think you should make the transition to the block editor. Using the block editor has quite a lot of benefits. For example, the block editor makes it easy to:
create user-friendly, high-quality content;
give your content a great structure, look, and feel;
add structured data to your posts and pages, so your content might show up as a rich result in the Google search results.
Switching to the block editor should go smoothly. Especially, if you follow the steps below.
In this video, which is part of our new and free Block editor training, we explain the steps you should take when transitioning to the block editor. And of course, we’ll also describe them in this article!
Step 1: Test the block editor on your site
When you’ve decided you want to make the switch to the block editor, the first thing you should do is test the block editor on your site. The best way to test the block editor is to use a so-called staging site. A staging site is a copy of your live website that allows you to implement and test changes without affecting your real site.
How to create a staging site
So, how do you create a staging environment for your site? There are two easy ways to get one:
Ask your hosting company. The first way is to ask your hosting company to create one for you. Most hosts should be able to do create a staging environment for your site.
Use a WordPress plugin. If, for some reason, your hosting company isn’t able to create a staging site for you, you can use a WordPress plugin and create one yourself. If you search for ‘staging’ in the WordPress plugin directory, you’ll find tons of plugins that can do the trick. However, make sure you pick a plugin that’s trustworthy. That means: check the reviews, active installations, the last time it was updated, and its compatibility with your version of WordPress.
What to test in the staging environment
Once you’ve sorted your staging site, you can update it to the latest version of WordPress, which automatically comes with the block editor. Alternatively, disable the classic editor plugin, if you have that installed. To test the block editor, simply check what effect this has on your site. While testing, it’s important to pay special attention to the following:
Plugins It’s essential to check whether your plugins work correctly with the block editor. Most plugins have already adapted to the block editor, so make sure you’ve updated all your plugins!
If you encounter a plugin conflicting with the block editor, the easiest solution is to check for an alternative. Is there a similar plugin available that is compatible with the block editor? Sometimes blocks can even replace certain plugins, so you could check the available blocks and see if you can find what you need. It’s handy to make a list of all the plugins that conflict with the block editor, so you can remove them from your real site before you make the transition.
Shortcodes Before the block editor came, people used shortcodes to add various features to a website. Shortcodes are like shortcuts to a pre-created and pre-defined code on your website. If you’ve used shortcodes, make sure they display correctly with the block editor. This is especially important if you use plugins that insert shortcodes.
Step 2: Switch to the block editor!
Once you’ve tested everything, you’re ready to make the switch! Make a backup of your site and update it to the latest version of WordPress. This automatically comes with the new block editor. If you’re using the classic editor plugin, simply disable the plugin to enjoy your new block editor experience!
What will happen to old posts and pages?
A question we regularly hear is: will switching to the block editor affect my old posts and pages that were created using the classic editor? The short answer is: no.
However, the long answer is that the content of your posts and pages made in the classic editor will be converted into a single Classic block in the block editor. If you want the full block editor experience with your existing posts and pages as well, you can convert this Classic block into separate blocks.
How to convert the content of old posts and pages
To convert the content of your existing posts and pages into separate blocks, follow these steps:
Select the Classic editor block in the post editing screen.
By selecting the block, the top toolbar will appear.
Click on the three vertical dots in the upper right corner.
As shown in the image, a menu will appear.
Click ‘Convert to Blocks’.
WordPress will now scan your content for HTML tags to place every piece of your content into a corresponding block.
Send us your awesome block editor content!
Do you want to inspire others with the content you’ve created using the block editor? We want everyone to see the endless possibilities of the block editor, by featuring examples on our blog. Therefore, we’re asking you to send us the awesome content you have created using the block editor! Leave the URL in the comments below and spread that block editor love!
CFO’s, Procurement, & Controllers are hitting you up:
“I need to make cuts. I need answers in 24 hours.”
You, the marketer, have no choice — you have to come back with where you are going to make cuts and the clock is ticking.
If someone had to cut your pinky toe off, would you rather them use a chainsaw or a scalpel? It’s going to hurt either way, you’ll survive either way, but one can bring a LOT of collateral damage.
We aspire to help our clients avoid collateral damage and we do it with data.
At Seer we have scalpels (data warehousing + data engineers) and surgeons (data strategists) who know how to use them quickly. That is a distinct advantage for our clients at this time of uncertainty.
We pull every ranking, for every keyword, for every client from their paid accounts every 24-48 hours. This gives us a treasure trove of data to be a beacon for marketers in stressful times like these.
All of those analysts out there that “bugged” you over and over again about getting your data solid? This is an example of what they were trying to help you with. Having good, clean, and normalized data when marketing in a recession is even more valuable because mistakes are even more costly. You may have been able to get by before relying on your gut and then pivoting if it didn’t work. But in a recession, going on gut can cost you in ways you can’t as easily bounce back from.
It’s not enough to have the data, you must have done the hard work to make it accessible to your surgeons — the data strategists.
The last 3 years we’ve invested in big data, data engineering, and machine learning have put us in the position to help our clients at scale, in seconds during these unprecedented times. Four data strategists invested a total of 24-ish hours leveraging our data warehouse connections and front-end business intelligence templates.
Within 24 hours our clients were empowered to walk into a CFO’s office with a tool that can answer tough questions about budget cuts on the fly.
Behind the scenes we had analyzed 2.3 million keywords in 24 hours. 3 days later every client had a personalized video walkthrough with risk assessments for each search term they ever bid on in the last 12 months. This was instantly editable / searchable / groupable on the fly for the Seer team, no “let me go pull that data for you”. We were read to act right in that meeting with the CFO if we were needed.
Below is our Power BI dashboard for every keyword for every client. This is our starting point for all of the hypotheses below.
Data Breakdown: #1 – Where do we rank top 3 #2 – With minimum of .1 conversions (words that drive value) #3 – What % of all client spend fits this criteria #4 – Sort by % client PPC spend — as you can see I have 1 client who spends 57.23% on keywords that rank top 3 organically.
Once we find those n-gram groupings, we search for them in #5 to really add precision:
We can run these in under 30 seconds for every client.
Insights to Advice to Action:
As you can see for client #1 below, we can tell them — hey, if your CFO comes in and says “we need to cut 5%,” we have them easily covered. 15%? Same story. 50%?! Ehh, not so much. So we’ll have to go to another hypothesis to find more precision cuts.
Now for the Caveats:
I get there’s a lot of other factors that impact conversions like snippets, industry, intent, CTR, how competitive the auction is, etc.
Our clients have to make decisions quickly right now and I wanted to support them with the data we had, not the data I wish we had.
They were under pressure and we had data-informed answers at our fingertips.
If Hypothesis 1 isn’t enough to cut and folks needed to go deeper, that led us to hypothesis 2.
Keywords with a top 10 organic ranking where paid ads haven’t historically converted, still have a chance to continue getting that traffic without the paid ads.
I want that list of keywords where the number conversions are zero. The hope is to find another traunch to arm our clients with on where to strategically make cuts.
Data Breakdown: #1 – Where do we rank 1-10 #2 – With ZERO conversions #3 – What % of all client spend fits this criteria #4 – Sort by % client PPC spend — as you can see I have 1 client who spends 29.25% in this grouping.
At this point you get it. By stacking these up we can help our clients know where to cut surgically in areas where they at least have a chance to get some traffic still. This arms them going into those tough meetings with CFOs.
The task here was to find out how much a client has spent on a keyword that has never converted AND they don’t rank in the top 100. This could be another area to find cuts in seconds.
Data Breakdown: #1 – Where do we rank 100+ #2 – With ZERO conversions #3 – What % of all client spend fits this criteria #4 – Sort by % client PPC spend, as you can see Seer has spent 19.51% on keywords that I don’t rank in the top 100 AND they’ve never converted.
Here is where consulting is CRITICAL. Search Marketing BI can raise a flag, but the consultant needs to dig in further to make a data-informed decision.
A singular sale for Seer would be huge. So just running off and negating the list of words is a BAD idea without qualifying it.
Using Seer’s data we can dig in. Looking at the terms below, if they were still running I’d probably want to negate most of them:
This is the scalpel! I’m seeing things in here that make me say, oh most definitely cut that crap for now.
Back in the good old days, the revenue was growing enough to offset the more macro management of campaigns. Now, a positive ROI that hides inefficiencies isn’t good enough anymore. We need to FOCUS EVERY DOLLAR on things that have a chance to help our clients win.
But it’s not all just about cutting the paid budget. There’s some work for the SEO teams to do as well…
Paid keywords that convert and rank organically between 5-10 can be cut with minimal conversion impactif we improve organic ranking into the top 5.
Where am I bidding on words that ARE converting, AND rank between 5-10? The hope here is that if I can improve my ranking I might get up in that top 5, which might give me an opportunity to CUT spend.
Data Breakdown: #1 – Where do we rank 5-10 #2 – With conversions #3 – What % of all client spend fits this criteria #4 – Sort by % client PPC spend — as you can see Seer has 15.95% of all of our spend came in this cohort.
Does this mean GO RUN, Optimize those pages? NO.
This is where consulting, understanding the business and business goals comes into play.
What are our margins on this part of the business? Is this a growth area for the business? What is our retention on clients through this channel? This is the hand off from our data strategists to the day to day consultants on the account team to use this search marketing business intelligence in conjunction with their account knowledge and consulting chops.
Highest converting paid keywords where organic rankings are 50+ are content opportunities that can help us eventually rely less on paid.
When you are trying to figure out, what content do I produce to help my company right now, well this is a place to grow. This helps me prioritize going after keywords with a high propensity to convert. (Side note: Check out our YouTube video on how we determine what is the singular most important piece of content you should be making right now, backed by a review of 500k+ competing URLs.)
Data Breakdown: #1 – Where do we rank 50+ #2 – With high conversions #3 – What % of all client spend fits this criteria #4 – Sort by % client PPC spend this is how you instantly find your clients who are not investing properly in content at scale. This is your growth opportunity – start making that content to get into the first page.
In uncertain times, marketers don’t have the runway to make the mistakes we could get away with just 4 weeks ago. Having your data accessible and ready to go will help you make smart decisions and smart cuts.
If you are thinking, damn I don’t have all this — remember 2 things:
If you’re building this out yourself, make sure you sign up for our email below to keep an eye out – we intend to add other qualifiers to this analysis, snippets and CTR from Google search console to name a few.
One of my favorite parts about working at Seer is having the opportunity to build relationships with our clients. In fact, it’s what led me to recently start a new hybrid role on both our SEO and Client Engagement teams. In my 5+ years at Seer, I’ve always appreciated the value Seer puts on building excellent relationships with our clients. We strive to be a valued partner, not a vendor – because where’s the fun in that?
Maya Angelou famously said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” How we make our clients feel can lead to lasting partnerships that continue as they progress throughout their career.
Being here for over 5 years has led me to run the gamut between working with a lot of different clients across a variety of industries, and to identify what has really made the difference with fostering successful client relationships. Below are just a few ways that I’ve felt were helpful in building relationships with clients, in the hopes that a couple may be meaningful for you!
Do you remember when you were a kid, and you saw your teacher at the supermarket, and it blew your mind that they left the classroom at the end of the day and led a life of their own?! I think sometimes we can subconsciously do the same with our clients, especially when you’re communicating virtually for the majority of the week.
Just like us, clients have lives and hobbies outside of work, whether that be a family or a favorite sports team. Showing genuine interest and care about their lives outside of work is a great way to break down the barrier build a relationship. I’ve heard a lot of folks mention that when they’ve met a client face-to-face and had the opportunity to grab dinner as a team, it has made a world of a difference in feeling more comfortable, from both the client and agency side of the table. Even sending them a baby gift to celebrate a new addition or a link to an article you know they’d enjoy are small gestures that show that you’re thinking of them.
While you don’t have to be BFFs, I’ve found that you’re bound to enjoy working together more if you find mutual ways to make a connection, and remember that there’s another human on the other side of that conference line.
Just as it’s important to get to know your client, it’s also key to have empathy for where they are in life, outside of the day-to-day work you’re doing. At any given day, they might be going through a tough time, or juggling two jobs at work, or feeling run down from a nasty cold. Whatever the circumstances, what you need from your client might be last on their list of priorities for that day, so try to be empathetic about that and ask yourself, or even reach out to them and say: “how can I help?”
This is especially helpful when you might notice that they sound a little stressed on a call, or seem to be more delayed than usual in providing feedback on a deliverable. Rather than get frustrated or angry, assume positive intent. One of our Sr. SEO Team Leads always reminds our team of this, which I think came from an interview from Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo.
One of my favorite parts of this interview includes this excerpt:
“When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, “Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.”
I think one of the most important aspects of any relationship, whether that’s with a client, your family or a significant other, is in having solid communication and follow-up. The last thing you want to happen is for a client to have to come chasing YOU for an answer.
Instead, whenever I’m communicating with a client, whether through an email or a phone call, I try to use variations of the communication framework below, from Thinkgrowth.org:
For example, after I get off of a call with a client and I’m putting together a recap of our conversation, I’ll first ask myself these questions to make sure my message is clear, speaks to the appropriate audience, comes from the correct tone, incorporates their level of expertise on the task at hand, and provide an actionable takeaway or ask.
Depending on the client, this might take the shape of 3 simple bullets, especially for folks who spend most of their days in meetings. On the flip side, I have clients who prefer detailed notes. It’s all about knowing how your client likes to receive information and doing so in as productive a way as possible to reduce back-and-forth communication.
Consistency is just as important – before every single client call we send an agenda. After each call we send a recap that provides our clients with next steps needed on their end as well as ours. For some clients, we also provide a brief template for them to use whenever they have a new request. This way, we provide them with a framework for other team members to use, especially in large organizations where ad hoc requests come from left and right across other teams. This way, they will always know what information Seer needs to kick off a new task, and we don’t have to spend extra time going back-and-forth and scheduling follow-up meetings.
There’s no easier way for a partnership to renew than when performance is up, and the client and their higher ups are pleased with your results. A big opportunity to showcase this is during QBRs or planning meetings. This is often the only chance you have to get everyone in the same room, in-person, including your clients and their leadership – so it’s important to make a good impression, including:
Planning out logistics for the day of, from start times to breaks
Preparing in advance for the presentation, to ensure the most important information and highlights are covered first
Demonstrating knowledge and expertise in their industry and their specific business model
Giving a nod to everyone in the room (outside of the Seer team) who has made a valuable contribution to the success of your project
The last bullet on giving a nod to everyone in the room is an important one, many times your clients are the ones going to bat internally to get the changes you need made implemented, let’s give them credit where they deserve! It also shows awareness to your client’s contributions, making them that much more motivated to continue to push forward.
Having a positive attitude with clients can sometimes be the most challenging part of the job when you have a laundry list of items waiting for implementation, or if you’re getting push-back on approvals. Regardless, as your client’s partner, you don’t get to be the one who complains or gets frustrated. At least, not in front of them. It’s our job to consult them on the best available path forward, and to do so with a positive outlook.
After all, negativity not only affects your mental state and the quality of your work, but it can also lead your client to feel the pressure as well. Instead, try to be positive and put your client at ease that we’ll get whatever it is figured out. Taking that pressure off their plate will not only allow them to focus on their priority tasks that likely tie back to your work, but also fosters a trust in you and your team that you’ve got their backs.
Do you have any other tips on how you’ve built lasting relationships with your client partners? Comment your thoughts below or sign up for our newsletter for more posts like this!
Users (#1): Unique count of the total number of people that came to your site.*
Visitors (#3 & #4): User-level label that is applied to the person that came to your site. Any returning visitor was also a new visitor and does not lose the “new visitor” label just because the “returning visitor” one was added.
New and returning visitors are not mutually exclusive numbers, meaning that there is overlap between the two groups. If you came in as a new user during the time period being looked at, and later came back as a returning user in that same time period, then you’d appear in both the New Visitor and Returning Visitor counts. Therefore, when you sum up #3 and #4 in our visual, they don’t equal #1. That #1 is showing overall Users, with no duplicative statuses – so truly the unique count of users that came to your site during that time period.
New User: The session-level status of a user who has never visited the site before. You can appear as a new user twice over the course of two sessions.
New Visitor: The user-level status of a user who has never visited the site before. You can only appear as a new visitor once.
A New User, meaning #2 and #5 in our visual, is the number of times a session was started with a user who had never visited the site before. But the question remains, why is the number of New Visitors (#3) different from the number of New Users (#2 and #5)?
This relates to the fact that GA automatically breaks and restarts sessions at midnight.
The breaking of sessions at midnight is a debatable choice by Google, but it exists nonetheless. If a new user is on the site at 11:50 PM, GA assigns a unique client ID cookie to them (ID: 123). This user is recognized in GA as a new visitor and a new user. 10 minutes later, the session breaks at midnight, and a new session is started on Day 2.
GA sees the same client ID (ID: 123) and knows this is the same new user from before, despite a new session being force-started.
GA attributes this post-midnight session as having a new user again since they technically aren’t a returning visitor, meaning we now have 2 sessions and 2 new user counts – one of each for both days.
However, they only count as one new visitor since “visitor” references the user-level status of the visitor, while “new user” relates to the session-level. So our Day 2 new user, no matter what site actions they take, is a new visitor and can only be counted once as such – i.e., if a user comes back as a new user multiple times (which seems illogical but is what happens in the case we’re discussing), they only are counted as a new visitor once, and if they come back as a returning user multiple times (this at least makes sense), they are only counted as a returning visitor once.
Knowing that new users actually relates to the session count, we understand why #2 in our visual is equal to #6 with the total count of new user sessions.
The new and returning user sessions, #6 and #7, total up to the overall number of sessions, #8, as expected (so #6 + #7 = #8).
Now that we know all of this, how do you actually calculate the number of new vs returning users? You can do this by using the following formulas:
Returning Users = Returning Visitors
New Users = Overall Users – Returning Visitors
OR if you refer to our visual:
Returning Users = #4
New Users = #1 – #4
For more information on GA idiosyncrasies, read on to the Seer Blog or subscribe to our newsletter below!
In a continued effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, local and state governments have issued orders for nonessential businesses and establishments to close their doors. These orders, combined with the lack of consumers making their way into physical stores, have had a major impact on small businesses across the country. Many brick-and-mortar small businesses have determined the only way to stay open and serve customers is to transition operations to online ecommerce business, which is something several businesses will do for the first time.
For brick-and-mortar businesses suddenly struggling to figure out how to bring their stores online during this unprecedented time, there are several key considerations. Here are six steps that can be taken to quickly establish an ecommerce business presence and continue reaching customers.
1. Set up an online platform
The first step for any business owner considering ecommerce is to research the platforms available to determine which best fits the needs of your business and your budget. There are a number of cost-efficient ecommerce providers that allow small businesses to get up and running in a matter of minutes. You can check out a full list of the ecommerce providers Avalara works with.
When evaluating ecommerce platforms, there are a number of factors to consider, including multiplatform operations, shipping and fulfillment features, security measures, and compliance capabilities. If your business is transitioning to online for the first time, simplicity in functionality both on the back end and customer-facing features will likely be top of mind. Most ecommerce platform providers have several different plans designed to best fit your business. A good rule of thumb when deciding which plan is best for you is to keep in mind the following:
How many products do you plan on selling? If you’re not planning to sell a lot of products, a simpler plan with lower rates may be suitable. There is no product limit for many providers’ main plans.
What features do you need? If you’re looking to have a site that enables customers to view your products and make purchases, a simpler plan is likely the best fit. However, many businesses find it’s beneficial to include additional features that contribute to positive customer experiences, like customer loyalty plans, abandoned cart recovery, and more.
Note that during this time, your business may not have the luxury of conducting extensive research on multiple platforms, and instead may need to rely on something that works now. Fortunately, there are providers that offer out-of-the-box functionality that will enable you to get your basic store up and running quickly.
“For business owners who have invested their energy into building lasting physical storefronts, the process of moving online doesn’t have to be intimidating, even when the future of your brand relies on your ability to launch and drive online sales. Ecommerce platforms, likeBigCommerce, are designed with out-of-the-box functionality and application integrations to ensure that even the most novice sellers can get their stores online quickly, and offer the tools to help their business grow now and for years to come. In these uncertain times, having an online presence is an essential way to stay connected to your customers and continue driving revenue. While it may feel overwhelming to move online so quickly, this an easy business decision that will pay long-lasting dividends.”
— Meghan Stabler, VP of Product Marketing and Communications, BigCommerce
Once you’ve identified a platform that works best for you, the next step is to register your domain name and get your account set up —all of which can be done from any connected device. Once you’re in, it’s time to start customizing the features of your website, which begins in step #2.
2. Determine which products you’ll sell online
Given the necessary timeliness of your efforts to transition store functions to ecommerce, it’s important to prioritize which products you’ll be selling online, so your most profitable and in-demand products are available for purchase as you launch your website. It can feel like you need to have every product in your store available immediately, but by prioritizing the most popular products first, you can get your online operations up and running then begin fulfilling orders while adding additional inventory.
3. Diversify your payment methods
Setting up your accepted payment methods is a crucial part of converting a browser into a buyer. Consider which payment methods are the most commonly used and accommodate the largest number of customers. Fortunately, most ecommerce providers offer integrations with the most common payment methods like Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Apple Pay, and more. If you’re still unsure of which payment methods you’ll need to accept, a good rule of thumb is to incorporate the same payment methods you offer through your in-store point-of-sale system.
4. Set up your shipping and returns functions
Once you’ve outlined your products and set up payment methods, the next step is to ensure you can get products to customers. Shipping, fulfillment, and returns can be a major roadblock for many small businesses making the transition from brick-and-mortar to online. A key feature that should be included in your ecommerce platform capabilities is shipping options, including drop shipping, printable shipping labels, and pre-setup shipping providers.
If you’re fulfilling orders yourself, consider using a shipping app like ShipStation, which helps automate shipping for merchants of all sizes, and offers small businesses discounted shipping rates with USPS, UPS, and FedEx.
If you’re concerned about how to fulfill orders or that your current warehouse might be unable to fulfill orders, consider using an outsourced provider, like ShipBob, which processes orders for thousands of ecommerce brands. It’s also worth pointing out that your storefront can serve as a temporary fulfillment center during this time: It serves the dual benefit of getting the product to your customers quickly while simultaneously ensuring all that in-store inventory doesn’t go to waste. This is a model that works quite successfully for big-box retailers like Target.
Shipping costs are often something brick-and-mortar retailers haven’t had to consider when it comes to pricing, so be mindful of a product’s shipping cost and be sure it’s clearly displayed in the shopping cart. Be transparent about shipping costs throughout the shopping experience and avoid the risk of having customers abandon their cart if they discover a shipping cost “gotcha” at checkout.
5. Plan your online marketing strategy with social media
Perhaps one of the most important steps in this transition is communicating how your business will now be selling. This is where social media posts and advertising come into play to be certain that customers are in the know about your online strategy. On the upside, most brick-and-mortar shops are already using social media to market to their customers. However, it’s critical that businesses over-communicate the change in operations to ensure regular customers are aware of the new selling channel, and to capitalize on the expanded customer audience you can now reach.
Social media can be used to promote your new online presence and as a platform to advocate for your business’s distinguishing factors and unique value-add. Use this opportunity to tell your story and highlight the characteristics that make your small business stand out to consumers. Not only are consumers turning to social media to learn where they can continue making regular purchases during this time, but they’re especially inclined to support small businesses.
Another option, when using social media, is to go beyond your marketing efforts and consider using social selling platforms as a complement to your newly formed online store. In today’s social network-driven society, social media platforms are no longer just an avenue to increase brand awareness, but an opportunity to connect with customers and make sales in the social threads customers are already sifting through.
Comment selling platforms, like CommentSold, are blending content and commerce to convert social media comments into sales and automatically invoice shoppers from their social media timelines. By leveraging this method of “headless commerce”, or separating the front end and back end of an ecommerce application, businesses can easily combine their social media marketing and online selling for quick sales conversions and limited friction throughout the browsing and shopping experience. Through social selling capabilities, businesses can save customers the time they would otherwise have to spend sifting through websites to find the items that best fit their wants and needs.
“Captivating shoppers online can be increasingly difficult as more businesses turn to online during this time, so reaching customers where they are is more important than ever before. Social selling platforms allow retailers to connect directly with customers via live video and product content on Facebook and Instagram. Creative tools, like instant comment purchasing and real-time live sales events, can help retailers grab and keep their online customers’ attention.”
— Andy Smith, COO, CommentSold
6. Preview, test, and publish your store
The final step to bringing your store online is to ensure every function of your site is operational. Double-check each function by asking yourself these questions:
Does my checkout work? Make sure orders work across all payment methods, your shipping options and charges are correct and visible, the items and price in your cart are correct. Check if discounts/promotions apply correctly and tax is calculated once shoppers enter their location. While often overlooked, ensuring sales tax is calculated correctly in real-time is critical to maintaining a positive shopping experience, and also helps prevent your business from being at risk of tax audits down the road.
Is the content presented in a professional manner? Proofread all copy and double-check that spelling and grammar are correct across the website. It’s also important to check images, videos, and other forms of multimedia across platforms to make sure they don’t interfere with the customer experience.
Does my store work on various channels and internet browsers? Consumers want to access products online whenever they choose from whatever device they are on. Testing your online site for functionality across channels is important to ensure that you’re not turning away potential customers who are unable to access your site.
At a time when more and more small businesses are at risk of closing their doors due to uncontrollable circumstances, ecommerce provides a viable alternative that, if executed on quickly and decisively, allows business owners to keep their operations up and running. Small businesses can take advantage of this unexpected time to explore new selling opportunities and ways to further serve their customers — something they might have otherwise not had the opportunity to do. Fortunately, the technology that exists today allows even the smallest of businesses to quickly ramp up online operations, reaching a broader audience, and incorporating all the necessary functions needed to provide a comprehensive, frictionless online shopping experience.
Content courtesy of Avalara.
Feel free to leave your questions and experiences in the comments section below.
Searchmetrics’ SEO World Rankings 2020 infographic presents the leading domains in 16 countries and their performance over the course of a whole year. Who’s going up and who’s going down? Which household names continue to dominate and which new challengers are emerging? However Google tweaks its algorithm, organic search remains a precisely measurable game with winners, losers and an ever-changing competitive landscape, unique to each national market. Our SEO World Rankings capture the current situation and reveal the trends of the last 12 months.
All the data in this infographic is sourced from the Searchmetrics Research Cloud. If you’d like access to the latest data for 30 countries, why not request a free software demo today?
As in previous years, this year’s Seachmetrics SEO World Rankings are constructed around one primary KPI: SEO Visibility. This metric combines data from several search factors, including a website’s organic search engine rankings and search volume of ranking keywords, giving us a single number that expresses the search engine performance of a website. Focusing on this single metric makes it possible for us to compare domains with one another, and assess upward and downward trends.
New decade, new design, new data
The most obvious change to this year’s infographic is that we’ve completely overhauled the design in line with our new brand identity. But that’s not all. We’ve also added more countries and more data to give you a wider overview of the State of Search around the globe. New features include:
Global champions top ten: We now show the top 10 websites in the world that are amongst the largest in several countries.
More global coverage: Data now provided for 16 countries, up from 10, with Finland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and India added.
Yearly trends: For every website, we’ve included whether its SEO Visibility went up or down over the course of the year.
Rising Stars: We have selected one website in each country that isn’t among the biggest players (yet), but that has been making significant moves up the rankings.
And of course, the new layout makes the data more accessible and helps to highlight the key information better.
SEO World Rankings 2020: The Infographic
You can expand the infographic below to explore the data in more depth. Which search stories will you discover?
How the search landscape has changed
This is the fourth time we’ve published our Searchmetrics SEO World Rankings infographic. If you’d like to see what’s changed over the years – and what’s stayed the same – you can view previous infographics here:
While the infographics take a step back to look at the yearly trends – the World Rankings section of Searchmetrics Research Cloud provides latest data on winners, losers and top domains for 30 countries, on desktop and mobile. You can sign up for a free software demo here:
Rightly or wrongly, guest blogging has taken a bit of a hammering in recent years. Despite my heart being firmly in the world of link building, I understood why. It was the classic process with SEOs – we find a technique that works very well to help us meet our objectives, we then scale it to hell and reap the rewards.
Unfortunately, as many of us know, a thing called Penguin came along in 2012 and aggressively targeted SEO techniques which were designed to manipulate search results. Whilst not explicitly targeting guest posting, it was clear that Google meant business and two years later, Ex-Head of Webspam Matt Cutts explicitly wrote about it.
Matt was right.
The example outreach email he shared was an example of how things shouldn’t be done.
In response to feedback, he did go on to clarify his post and add more context:
It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context. I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.
Even so, mentioning the words “guest posting” as a link building tactic can still make SEOs squirm a little because it’s a tactic that can very easily go wrong.
The question then, over five years later, how should it be done? If it makes people nervous, how do we overcome those fears and add value beyond SEO.
I want to share my views on this and give you some direction on what I think the answer is. After all, it was the third most popular technique according to our recent survey of the SEO industry, with over half of respondents saying they used it:
The approach we should all be taking consists of a few elements:
Find the right, targeted audience
Write the right, expertly crafted content
It’s not about scale, it’s about precision
Think of guest posting as another distribution channel
Connect guest posting to your overarching content strategy
Let’s go into detail on these in more detail.
Find the right, targeted audience
Part of the problem with the type of guest posting which Matt Cutts called out all those years ago is that it was often a case of throwing enough mud against the wall and seeing what stuck. It was fairly common to see guest posts showing up on blogs about home improvement which somehow included a link to a website on financial services. The problem was that the lack of relevance didn’t appear to hurt the websites in question and these links often led to ranking improvements.
Whilst I believe that Google has gotten better at identifying these kinds of links, I still see links like this working. However, they carry far more risk than they used to and for the majority of companies, it’s not a risk worth taking.
Instead, we need to focus on the topics that really resonate with our audience and from there, seek out the blogs and publishers who dedicate their time to those topics. You need to look for websites which genuinely talk about and cover topics which your audience are likely to read.
There are a number of ways to find these blogs and publishers, here are a few:
Ask your audience where they get their information online
Ask your paid search or media team where they do display advertising and which domains sent the best quality traffic
Find websites who rank for informational queries related to your product or service
Use the Content Explorer in Ahrefs to find content publishers and authors who write about your topic – sort by highest traffic to find the best opportunities
Note that none of these involve automation or scraping which is very deliberate. The point here is to use manual research to find the blogs because this is by far the best way to find the ones which are truly relevant to what you do.
Write the right, expertly crafted content
Again, in days gone by, 400-500 words of generic, average content was enough for guest posting to work well. The truth is, hardly anyone was likely to read the post anyway so as long as you got your link, the content quality didn’t matter much.
This isn’t the approach that we should use now, quite the opposite.
Whilst not perfect, Google is getting better and better at differentiating between average and quality content. We put a lot of effort into making the content on our own websites as strong as it could be, so why would we use a different approach for third-party websites when the content has our name on it?
Not to mention that if you want to project the best possible image of your brand, the content that you put out on the web is a representation of you. Make it good! Assuming that you’re following the step above, this content will be published on websites that will actually get traffic and rank well, so there is a high chance that potential customers will read it. Give them a great first impression.
It’s not about scale, it’s about precision
Guest posting was never the problem, it was scaling guest posting which caused all of the problems. With scale comes an inevitable drop in quality.
Instead of worrying about scaling this activity, do the opposite. Focus on a small number of relevant, high quality posts in the right places. If you use the steps above, this will happen naturally because you physically can’t scale the activity if you truly focus (and keep that focus) on quality.
Now, more than ever, I see small numbers of relevant, targeted links making a positive impact on the rankings of the clients we work with – guest posting or not. This is the organic traffic graph for a small, B2B client where we did a combination of technical SEO, keyword research and link building. We built just 47 links across this 12 month period:
Not bad! You don’t need viral campaigns, you need the right links from the right places.
Think of guest posting as another distribution channel
This is a big one for me. We used to think of guest posting as a way to get links – that was it. Nothing more, nothing less.
What if you thought of it in the same way you thought about your paid social ,search or display spend? With these channels, you’re paying your hard earned money to take part and generate traffic, so you take the time to really understand and refine the targeting.
If you thought of guest posting as a distribution channel for your content and message, how would that change your approach?
I’m betting that this simple reframing would make a big difference because it will force you to think about the areas above, along with a few other things:
How does this channel drive the action we want?
Is the channel one that will truly add value?
This can make you take guest posting that little bit more seriously and also connect it with other parts of your strategy. Which leads us onto the final point.
Connect guest posting to your overarching content strategy
Surprisingly, very few companies include guest posting (even if they call it something else such as byline articles) in their content strategy. More often than not, a content strategy is inwardly focused rather than outward. This isn’t wrong, it makes sense, but any content strategy needs to also include an element of distribution of the content – guest posting is one such distribution channel.
At Aira, we use a content strategy framework similar to the following to map this out for clients and start exploring topics that we can talk about which they are credible to talk about and resonate with their audience:
Here is an example of this in action for a large hotel brand:
This isn’t designed to capture everything, but should steer our strategy in the right direction and feeds into guest posting – which is the key bit missing from most brand content strategies.
Well, that’s it. If you’d like to read more about the survey mentioned above, you can take a look at the full results and if you want, download a PDF version from the Aira website here.
In Yoast SEO 9.0, we launched an innovative new way to analyze your English language text using word forms. In Yoast SEO 10.1, we added word form support for the German language. Today, we’re glad to announce word form support for Dutch. Here, you can read why this is such an awesome addition to Yoast SEO 13.4.
Back in the day, Yoast SEO used to be rather picky — sometimes it had a hard time detecting the focus keyphrase in your text. For instance, if your focus keyphrase was [vegan pancakes], the plugin wouldn’t recognise instances of the word [vegan pancake] or [pancakes for a vegan friend]. Today, however, the WordPress plugin is so much smarter.
Now, your focus keyphrase doesn’t even have to be in an identical order. The plugin finds all parts of the keyphrase even if the words are split over a sentence.
Yoast SEO Premium takes it one step further. Using the Premium analysis, something like [How to make the fluffiest pancake that even the most critical vegans love] would count as well.
One of the coolest parts of this is that Yoast SEO Premium recognises all word forms of your keyphrase: [vegan], [vegans], [veganism] and more. This way, you don’t have to keep trying to awkwardly fit your focus keyphrase in your text. Simply write naturally and let Yoast SEO take care of the rest. The goal? To write a better text, while spending less time optimizing!
The same goes that other epic feature in Yoast SEO Premium, the possibility to add synonyms and related keyphrases to your post analysis. This too, makes it easier to write a rich, high-quality post that covers all aspects of your subject.
Word forms: now available in Dutch
As of Yoast SEO 13.4, users in the Dutch language can get in on the action too. For every language we add to the plugin, we need to adapt the analysis. Every language has its own sets of rules, you know? We have a team of linguists working on this and bringing you top notch language support.
How does this work in Dutch? Well, here’s Marieke explain it all for you — in Dutch this time!
Let’s take a look at an example! In the screenshot, you see the Premium analysis at work. The focus keyphrase for this example post is [spelen met katten]. If you look closely, Yoast SEO Premium won’t just find the exact match to that keyphrase, but also several variations.
If we look at the word [kat], or cat in Dutch, the plugin now recognises variants on that word as well. So this means, [katten], [kater] and [katjes], among other things, are correct instances of that keyphrase as well.
In the Premium analysis, you can add a number of related keyphrases to make the text analysis even richer. One of the outcomes of this, is that it helps to determine if you have distributed your keyphrases well across your text. All this helps you write the awesome your audience is looking for!
To cap if off, here’s the Dutch version of our infographic that explains the differences between synonyms, word forms and related keyphrases.
Update now to Yoast SEO 13.4
Yoast SEO 13.4 brings a big feature for all you Dutchies: full word form support! This state of the art analysis helps you write better text with a lot less effort. Writing and editing a great piece of content has now become much more natural.
Writing in English or German? But not familiar with the Premium analysis yet? Try it and tell us what you think!