Browsing articles from "December, 2012"

Buying Online Traffic for Links – Worth it?

Dec 7, 2012   //   by Carter   //   internet marketing, SEO, SEO Blog  //  2 Comments

Distilled recently discussed the possibility of buying awareness to build links, a possibility that I’ve toyed around with in the past with some success. Carson Ward’s test certainly demonstrated it was possible to build links this way, but is it a worthwhile use of time and money?
I hate giving vague answers, but the truth is that it’s going to depend on your content, audience, and industry. However, I can offer some advice on how to figure it out for yourself, and possible other uses of advertising traffic you may not have considered.

Which Channels Are Best?

Carson’s results are in line with my own on this. AdWords impressions cost more than the keyword tool says they’re going to, and the value probably isn’t there, because even low competition informational keywords end up going for about half a dollar per click. AdWords appears to be for selling, plain and simple.

Reddit and StumbleUpon ads are cheapest, but also have some of the lowest time on site. Of course, high bounce rates can make time on site appear lower than it actually is. The most promising ads seem to be on Facebook or targeted display ads, with the display ads doing best in terms of links and price. Obviously, Facebook ads can lead to social subscribers and word of mouth that are beneficial even in the absence of links.
That said, I wouldn’t write off Reddit or StumbleUpon as possibilities, simply because they send such a large amount of traffic at such a low cost. If you gain enough traction with StumbleUpon, it’s algorithm will continue to send traffic for quite a while. In both cases, if you can get the conversion rates high enough, the huge traffic potential makes these promising channels for those who know how to use them.
As I said, success is going to depend on your company, which is why you’ll need to find ways to…

Measure Success

How you measure success is going to depend on what your goals are, and links aren’t necessarily the only thing you should be taking into consideration. However, assuming it’s all about search engine authority, you’ll need to be thinking about:

  • Time invested in the ad campaigns
  • Time that would have been invested in outreach for the same results
  • The financial value of the time invested in either
  • The possibility that ads and outreach can work together as multipliers
  • The link diversity, the quality of the site sites that link, the domain and page authority of the links, the relevance of the link pages and anchor text, the number of referrals from the links, and the quality of the referral traffic
  • The actual impact on rankings

Clearly, metrics are never as clean in this industry as we’d like them to be, but here are a few ways to make things cleaner (I’m considering outreach a “channel” as well):

  • Track which channels are used on which posts, and the number of hours invested in each channel toward that post
  • Vary which channels are being used to what extent, and randomly choose one channel to avoid using at all for each post
  • Over time, look for correlations between the number of hours invested in each tactic, and the results
  • Examine whether a mixture of strategies results in a different impact than either of the strategies acting alone
  • When possible, compare metrics between posts that went live at the same time

This is not nearly as clean as straightforward A/B testing, but it can be hard to justify using only one channel for each post. Even when you can, you still have to recognize that the content of each post is different, and this is going to have an impact on your results. You can only compensate for this by testing the results on a large number of posts.

Another Use for Paid Traffic

What many online marketers don’t realize is that paid traffic can also be used to test content. All too often, a piece of content goes live and falls flat on its face. If you’ve invested in particularly large amount of time in a piece of content, it may be worth the effort to test its effectiveness using paid traffic. In this way, you can test the content before it is released the general public.

Conclusions

Is it worth it to buy awareness as a method of building links? My experience tells me that it probably will be useful for most businesses to divert some of their funds in this direction. The most important aspect of this is making sure the ads are only displayed and written for influencers, the kind of people who will link to and share content. Other advertising dollars will probably be better spent on direct conversions.
However, it’s equally important to recognize that advertising channels become increasingly saturated over time, and ad blindness is a growing concern. Investing in relationships is a skill that can’t be outright replaced with ad money.
Do you think it’s worth it to buy traffic as a link building method?
Image credit: joiseyshowaa

Carter

Carter Bowles is a freelance writer, science blogger, and SEO enthusiast. He lives in Idaho with his wife and daughter, where he is pursuing degrees in physics and statistics. Carter writes for Northcutt, a Chicago based SEO and Inbound Marketing company. Like Northcutt on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and check out all they have to offer at www.northcutt.com.

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Google Knowledge Graph: What is it and what are its Functions?

Dec 5, 2012   //   by Stuart   //   SEO Blog  //  6 Comments

Just this May, Google rolled out a new feature in their search results. Since this is best explained if you can visualise it, here is what you should do:

  • Open up a Web browser
  • Point it to Google
  • Type a name of a person or a place. For this example, let’s just use C. S. Lewis

Are the results you generated similar to this image?

Knowledge Graph

Now, if you take a look at the far right corner, you would notice that it shows a short biography of C. S. Lewis, a list of his works, and a “People also search for” section. All of these things are what you call a Knowledge Graph.

What it is

Basically, it is a way for the search engine giant to give you what you are searching for without leaving the page. However, it is important to note that it does not always appear for every query.

Right now, it only returns results on things, people, and places that Google knows about. And these include art works, celebrities, cities, films, and geographic locations, to name a few.

In short, it is a method devised by Google to enhance the search experience for you, so that you will find the information you want quickly and easily.

If you are wondering how it gets its facts, Google has mentioned that it retrieves information from websites such as the CIA World Factbook, Freebase, and Wikipedia. If you look at most of the results, you would notice that most of them come from Wikipedia.

What it does

What is the main reason you would use a search engine ()? The obvious reply would be to learn about something.

It understands what you are looking for

Now, before the Knowledge Graph came into being, when you typed “Taj Mahal” into the search bar, you would receive results based solely on those two exact words. But Google took this to a whole new level and developed a “graph” that understands how entities in the real world are connected to each other.

So, when you search for “Taj Mahal,” it will give you the most likely result that you are looking for, i.e. the iconic structure in India. Below that, under the “See results about” section, it also lists other things that might refer to your search.

Search Result

There are also cases where it just lists the related entities. Let us take Ahab as an example. What is the first thing that comes into your mind when the name is mentioned? Do you immediately think about the biblical character? Or do you know him best as the captain in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick?

Google provides you with all the possible answers!

It gives you pertinent information

Let’s say you need to find all you need to know about the author Charles Dickens. Through the Knowledge Graph, you will be given a brief overview of his life. In addition to that, you will also be presented with facts such as the day he was born, the date that he died, the name of his wife and children, and his body of work.

It allows you to dig deeper

Let us take the information returned about Dickens a little further. If you look at the “People also search for” section, you are given Mark Twain, Jane Austen, and Arthur Conan Doyle as suggestions. For the literary lover, this could mean new writers to discover.

Here is another example. If you want to know “Chinese restaurants” that are closest to your location, Google will give you a list of dining establishments as well as a map showing their locations.

This is also true if you want to find out the next concert of your favourite singer or band. You just type in their name onto the search bar and, if they have new shows, it will be listed under the “Upcoming events” section.

Also, if you want to visit a particular place and want to know famous attractions, this will be listed in the “Points of interest” area.

Points of Interest

The Knowledge Graph also has a carousel feature that allows you to explore further the topic you are searching for. Let us take “museums in London” as an example. It displays a series of images featuring the museums found in London. However, this is not yet available for all Google domains. But if you point your browser to “google.com” and type in a query, you can see this in action.

It allows you to see relationships between entities

This is a relatively new feature added by Google. To help you understand this better, let us use another example. This time it is Kevin Bacon.

Knowledge Graph

If you look at the “People also search for area and hover over the images that you see, it would show you small pop-up with added information. Take the case of Kyra Sedgwick. It would tell you that she is his wife and also mentions a few films that they worked on together.

In his Inside Search blog, Google engineer Golan Pundak states that the search engine giant is starting with the connections between actors, actresses, movies, TV shows, and even family relations.

However, it is also important to note that this does not apply for all search queries. As Pundak adds in his article, “When there is an interesting explanation available, you can now see it at a glance.

 

Conclusion

The Knowledge Graph  is still in its early stages, having just been released this year. As Google continues to improve upon this addition to its search engine results page, we can only hope to expect changes that would enhance the user search experience in the near future.

 

Stuart

Stuart Pollington is Head of Technical Operations at Smart Traffic an SEO company providing online marketing services for businesses across the globe.

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Multivariate Testing for Better Results With Your Online Business

Dec 5, 2012   //   by Ruben   //   SEO Blog  //  1 Comment

Operating a business over the Internet is no different than running a mortar and stone shop. The process entails a utmost customer satisfaction by delivering services or products that appeal most to their specific preferences.

 The most successful entrepreneurs are then spawned by the methods that involve constant solicitation of consumer feedback and suggestions. After all, it is the buyers that liquefy the flow of profits towards the biz.

In an online setting, surveillance of the buyers’ inkling can take place through forums, digital questionnaires and e-mailing services. While these are usually effective, they can have major lapses – only visitors with enough time to spare in formulating messages for the company can participate in the discussions.

Plus, there is not guarantee on the objectivity of the reviews submitted. For all you know, some of the items in the site may have been written by the competition to mislead proprietors. This is an unruly ploy, but it does exist in the World Wide Web.

Fortunately, there’s a better alternative in studying the purchasing motivation and partiality of the consumers: multivariate testing.

 

Snippet of Information About Multivariate Testing

 

Multivariate testing is an experiment conducted by marketing experts to assess how certain website components are performing in terms of traffic and conversion.

In essence, it mimics the process of holding out two equivalent products and asking the consumers which of the items are more likely to be bought.

Web developers would then create two different versions of a web page and see check which among the variants provide favorable results in terms of hits, sales and engagement.

Multivariate testing is different from A/B testing in that more than one element can be tested at the same time. Still, web visitors participate in the experiment unconsciously. The variants will be displayed in their screens, and their online activity will be recorded.

Among the things that entrepreneurs can monitor include click out rates towards links, number of views on the landing page, volume of items sold, number of users who signed up for subscription, etc. It actually depends on the metric used for the test, and the primary goal of proprietors in conducting the experiment.

 

How Multivariate Testing Contributes to Online Success

 

Multivariate testing satisfies various principles in marketing that can guarantee triumph in the industry. For one, it gives businessmen a clear direction on how to please their niche. Results from the test practically maps out the most viable steps that they can take to deepen the engagement of web visitors and boost revenues.

At the same time, multivariate testing helps in accelerating optimization process. Given that multiple components can be tested together, they can quicken the pace of coming up with designs to implement for the site. The very same reason allows entrepreneurs to enjoy liberty of dry-running their ideas.

Limitless elements for testing defy the boundary of evaluating ideas.

When these benefits are rolled together, they pave the way for endowment of competitive edge that may not be possible to acquire from any other means.

Multivariate testing increases the chance even of small businesses to have continuous flow of income amidst the tight competition. Given that adopting structures and designs can lure audiences into making an action, multivariate testing is the sharpest tool in slicing through company rivalries and bringing highest possible conversion rates.

 

Most Effective Ways in Doing Multivariate Testing

Before Multivariate Testing…

  1. Assess the performance of the website. Prior to the experiment, it is best to step back and analyze the strengths and weakness of the site including plusses and glitches. Focus on design and web content. Then determine the areas of improvement.
  1. Prepare for the test. Multivariate testing may be straightforward, but it is not a mere push of a button. Make a list of all the elements that can be tested and rank them according to priority. Test the most important components first. You may also consolidate the elements and separate those that need to be tested individually.
  1. Bridge disparities. Come up with a goal (usually concentrated on addressing pressing problem of the site) and formulate hypothesis (probable solutions to the troubles).
  1. List all the possible combinations of the elements to be tested.
  1. Craft the variants and finalize them before running the test.

There are actually loads of programs that you can use to carry out the test. Most of the software can automate the redirection of users towards certain variants, even the generation of potential combinations and recording of data.

But this doesn’t spare them from technical hitches. Always be hands-on during the period of the test. Make sure that the test is running simultaneously and is within the expected timeline. Otherwise, you end up with bunch of raw data that leads to no definite conclusion.

Then interpret the data wisely after the testing period.

Remember that your skills and knowledge is the most major determinant of multivariate testing success. Have a fill of information by reading more on Maxymiser about the procedure and going through with it. Only then can you have the right armor to thrive in the cyber market.

 

 

Ruben

This is a guest post by Ruben Corbo. He is a freelancer writer specialized in different topics including technology, online marketing with an AB Testing guide and Product Recommendation Engines, music, art, and motivation. When Ruben is not writing he is producing and composing music for short films and other forms of visual arts.

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