Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter

Can a Google Partner Help With SEO?

LEGO stormtrooper an a black background. He looks quite shady as he is half hidden in the shade.

In recent years most former SEO agencies have become Google Partners that is they buy enough Google Ads to be eligible for that badge in the first place.

Can they actually help you with your organic search reach aka SEO though? Aren’t they just “alleging a special relationship with Google”? Let’s find out!

For more than a decade Google has a helpful page for starters called “Do you need an SEO?“. One of the crucial parts of it has been the “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.” warning:

The “guaranteed rankings” and the “priority submit” expressions are pretty dated SEO lingo by now. They stem from the ancient past. You can ignore those.

Nobody is stupid enough to use such phrases anymore to lure Internet newbies. The “special relationship” – an expression introduced by Google – is more than relevant today though.

In a bizarre twist of events now Google itself offers special relationships to Internet marketing agencies when they buy lots of Google Ads.

How to become a Google Partner? Pay Google!

Google Partner requitements screen shot. Most importantly you need to buy at least 10.000$ worth of Google Ads each quarter.

For many years we were told not to claim to be buddies with Google as that would be misleading potential clients. Sounds like common sense. Yet Google changed that credo.

In recent years this is what exactly happened on a large scale. You can now easily align yourself with the ever growing Google empire.

A few years ago it was still a badge that would say “Google Adwords certified” or something similar. That distinction has gone lost after Google introduced the Google Partners program.

Most business people who visit agency sites might not be aware of the fact that Google Partners are in no way supported by Google when it comes to organic search aka SEO (search engine optimization).

Yet on most agency sites that’s exactly what is alleged. I have found a good example of this wide spread practice on SEO.com (full disclosure: I have been an affiliate of SEO.com in the past):

SEO.com advertises themselves on their homepage as a Google Partner with access to "specialized" Google tools and to a Google employee.

It’s a win win situation for both Google and Internet marketing agencies. Google gets a steady stream of money and agencies can brag about their special connection to the Internet giant.

The only ones who don’t really benefit are the clients who want to have their website optimized for search engines – which nowadays means mostly Google.

The partial screen shot I have posted above is taken from SEO.com as you can see. It’s the highest ranking search engine optimization company on Google (currently #5 from here).

It’s right there on the SEO.com homepage and the wording they use is strikingly similar to what the Google article asking “Do you need an SEO?” says. I highlighted it in red.

They are in no way an exception though. You see those badges all over the place. Even agencies I considered very trustworthy sport them in a misleading way by now.

You can’t solely blame agencies of course. It’s very hard to place a Google Partner badge on your site without making the impression this partnership also applies to your SEO services.

For Google it’s simply a good way to keep Google ads budgets high and make sure agencies are dependent on them for their reputation.

What are Google Partners experts on? Google Ads.

Screen shot from Google's Partner page. Partners specialize in several kinds of ads. No SEO mentioned.

Aren’t Google Partners more knowledgeable and able to connect with Google employees to fast track their clients to the top of search results? Not really. They can and do buy ads though.

The Google Partners clearly explains the currently five options Google Partners specialize in (see also screen shot above):

  1. Search Advertising
  2. Mobile Advertising
  3. Video Advertising
  4. Display Advertising
  5. Shopping Advertising

What the screen shot does not state is also self-evident. We only talk about buying ads on Google services not with other vendors.

What those agencies mostly do is setting up a largely automated system of taking your money and using it to buy Google Ads on a regular basis. The more it remains intact the better for them.

Star Wars robot R2D" is moving alone on a sandy path which looks like part of a desert planet, maybe Tatooine.

Effectively you just pay the agency for a bot that spends your money on autopilot most of the time. Yet the agency gets a significant amount of the budget itself. On the other hand

It’s about making your website visible and findable on the actual search results themselves. They are called organic because you don’t have to pay Google for such reach.

Also the wide spread click fraud does not apply to organic results. Studies show that more than half of ads are never even viewed by a human being.

No matter whether the click has been done by a human or a bot you have to pay for it. Google claims to ignore fake clicks but it does often not work.

Join the rebel alliance!

In a way traditional search engine optimizers like myself are the rebels who bug the seemingly omnipotent Google empire. We don’t let us dominate by the search engine and its business model.

In the beginning we weren’t meant to just convince people to buy ads from Google. We were striving to allow website owners to exist without the need to pay for traffic.

Personally I consider buying ads and optimizing for organic search reach a conflict of interest – like being your taxi driver and driving instructor at the same.

Why would I shoot myself in the foot and teach you how to drive when you can pay me instead for driving you around on a regular basis? That would be idiotic.

There is no incentive to optimize a website for organic reach when you can get easy money by solely being the middleman between business owners and Google Ads.

I also do not use Google Analytics anymore because I do not want to support Google data collecting and sharing policies. They track you all over the Web using multiple means.

I use the self-hosted open source solution Matomo instead. It’s focused on privacy and you don’t send the data to the actual company at all.

4 LEGO Star Wars rebels are standing there ready for anything, Chewbacca on the right among them.

I am a bit of a radical even among the rebels though. In the early days we didn’t have Google Ads yet and SEO was about helping people to optimize their actual website.

Even later on when Google started pushing Ads it was just a temporary means of getting traffic until the actual optimization worked.

Many search engine optimizers also used Google’s then called Adwords for keyword research to find out whether Google’s keyword tools actually disclosed useful numbers. They often did not.

Long story short SEO has never been is still is not about buying traffic from Google. Pay Per Click ads are just a means to make Google rich and to remain dependent on the gatekeeper.

When you decide to buy traffic from Google you actually waste funds you could have used on search engine optimization. Like a drug user you will always have to pay to stay high on Google.

You can optimize your website to make it rank instead. When investing in SEO you could actually improve your

or create content in the first place. Your product descriptions are not content. Something that has value by itself is actual content not simply packaging. Think bottle vs liquid inside.

Live by the Google, die by the Google!

LEGO Darth Vader kills a storm trooper by applying the force.

Search engine optimization the way I practice it not only helps you with search but also with social media and direct traffic.

It’s also important to make sure that the people who arrive on your site actually find what they seek and do what they should do like

  • subscribe
  • sign up
  • buy

When you solely rely on Google Ads you may end up broke sooner or later. That’s one of the main reasons startups fail. They mainly buy traffic from the gatekeepers Google and Facebook.

They fail to establish their brand, build an actual audience of regular users because they trick themselves into believing that they can ask Google and Facebook to deliver fresh traffic forever.

Your “target audience” is finite though in many cases, especially when you offer a highly specialized SaaS (Software as a Service) product.

When you push your ads to the same people over and over you’ll get ignored after a while. You need to establish

  • authority
  • credibility
  • trust

by sharing, engaging and outreach or in short SEO. Yes, that’s the explanation of the modern SEO acronym to me. I’ll elaborate on that in another post.

The same thing applies to small businesses that have only a local reach. After a while everybody knows you in one way or another.

Who are you in the eyes of search users? Are you that company that has to use ads to get people to visit them or are you a company you already like and others recommend as well?

When I use search I tend to click familiar sounding names in the results. The same applies to ads on a side note. I’m not alone, even Neil Patel relies on brand building.

Reliance on fresh traffic from Google is a recipe for disaster in the long term. You live by the Google and you die by the Google.

For many small business the “1000 true fans” business model is perfectly sufficient. You don’t always need a steady stream of new people.

Of course I refer to faithful customers. For example I am with the same barber for more than a decade. I don’t need to look up Google every time I want a new haircut.

Are you a friend of the Google empire?

Search results for [google partner seo] showing many companies claming they are Google Partners when it comes to SEO.

In general it’s not a good sign when someone’s main selling point is being a friend of the Google empire. In the middle ages it was called nepotism.

Nowadays it’s a bit like being a doctor who is partnering with the pharma industry. Who is s/he really working for? What’s her or his goal?

I’d rather look for someone who is truly independent and does not have to resort to such alleged relationships. It’s self-evident really isn’t it?

Of course there are still some knowledgeable SEO experts working for agencies that are Google Partners but you can never know as on outsider.

Also the incentive to keep a client paying for ads for years might be more tempting than ensuring the long term success of organic SEO efforts. Thus

some ethical agencies have stopped offering both Google ads and organic reach optimization at the same time.

They have either split and run two separate agencies now depending on the business model – just like you would split up a company offering taxi fares and driver’s licenses.

Some agencies simply offer only Google ads by now. This way the wrong impression of being buddies with Google does not mislead potential SEO clients.

Others simply focus on organic reach via search engine optimization and alternative ways of improving your organic reach. Think social media and direct traffic.

You might want to consider such a step when you won an agency or work at one before your online reputation might suffer.

Do you depend on Google Ads?

Ideally one day you can run your website yourself without continuous ad spend and only occasional or low level SEO activity unless you pay for

Those tasks can be performed by your team though without an external agency once you have taught them social media and content best practices or they’ve read the above linked guides.

Your website is well optimized and the evergreen content is good enough to earn links when the SEO is done holistically and with due diligence.

I had clients a decade ago who still benefit from my link magnets to this day. What did I do? I just created evergreen content and well optimized pages that still rank high.

Of course you still depend on Google when solely relying on organic traffic from the search giant but you can embrace other means of gaining traction as well.

Optimization for search, social media and direct audiences is not mutually exclusive. Often it’s the same people using different tools.

Buying ads sadly often means not optimizing your site at all. At best dedicated landing pages will be created that are just trying to convert one time visitors.

Visitors who return and thus so called retention are the ones to look for and after. Forcing new people down the sales funnel can ostracize them for good.

The post Can a Google Partner Help With SEO? appeared first on SEO 2.0.

More Articles

The FIRE UP Approach: How to Optimize Websites for People

A matchstick lightened up in front of dark background. Looks impressive.

How do you optimize websites for people that is actual readers who are suffering from chronic attention shortage?

You need to make them findable, intriguing, readable, engaging, usable, popular or in short “fire up“.

“fire someone up – Fig. to motivate someone; to make someone enthusiastic.”

A shocking reading statistic from US libraries says: around one fifth of Americans don’t read books at all.

 

Online reading habits

Likewise people on the Web don’t read. They mostly scan pages and read just a few words here and there if they click the headline at all.

8 out of 10 people do not even go beyond the headline and bounce immediately in the worst case. Many return to search results to click something else.

Google even counts the number of people who hit the back button or do not even click after viewing search results. Your site gets downgraded based on that data.

 

My shameful past

Let me confess: I didn’t read books until I was 16. I didn’t even read newspapers or magazines until I was 14.

We didn’t have the Internet or mobile phones back then so I wasn’t reading websites or SMS either!

To make things worse my mother was a linguist focused on teaching language and editing literature.

These days I roughly read a 500+ pages book a week. Sometimes I read two or three books at once.

 

A miraculous transformation

How did that miraculous transformation happen? My case seemed to be hopeless like with the rest of this miserable one fifth of the population.

Why didn’t I read at all as a teen? It wasn’t that I couldn’t read. I could read in three languages by the age of 14.

I didn’t want to read. I didn’t think books were attractive enough for me. I didn’t appreciate books and I didn’t think reading could enrich my daily life.

It’s not a story about me here though. My point is that you can make books or reading in general

  1. findable
  2. intriguing
  3. readable
  4. engaging
  5. usable
  6. popular

so that everybody will want to read and enjoy it. You have to treat the people who don’t read like disabled people.

It just happens that roughly the same number of people is also really disabled, almost 1/5 fifth in the US and the UK.

People who don’t read lack a basic human experience. They don’t have access to a whole universe of knowledge.

It’s our task to enable these literally disabled people to read again or at all. Librarians seem to have given up on them already.

With websites and mobile phones being used by almost everybody it’s far easier to make people read in these times. How? You need to make your site

findable

You have to ensure the findability of your content – be it text or mixed content (text and images) or solely images.

Even images without text can make people read. Image captions are a good start.

How did I finally start reading?

When I was 14 my mother pointed out an article to me about my favorite sweets in the weekly magazine my father had subscribed to for years.

I have looked at the magazine covers for ages but didn’t even read when they featured barely clad women.

The mags always lay around the living room. Thus my mother only needed to point it out casually. She didn’t have to get up, search for it and peruse dozens of other magazines to find it.

Nowadays it’s not as easy to be around where the hard to reach audience stays.

One day it’s Facebook, next day it’s Instagram, third day it’s Snapchat.

Don’t just stay in your ivory tower or library and claim that everybody has to come visit you. Spend some time on outreach efforts.

You can publish quotes from your favorite authors on social media. Indeed on sites like

  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter

aphorisms work best!

Don’t just optimize for Google. Work on your internal search. Tag your content.

Make sure your images and quotes can be found on Pinterest or Twitter.

A picture quote which is popular on Pinterest saying: "sometimes it's better to react with no reaction".

intriguing

Now you agree that just staying where you are and waiting passively may not be enough.

You will probably wonder how to make people who never read become interested in what you want to see or rather read then.

One of the most likely candidates for your help are dyslexic people. These people are really disabled in that they can’t read fluently.

People who can’t read or comprehend fast need books or graphic novels or other forms of text that don’t require huge chunks of text.

Song lyrics or even poems can be a good starting point! They have to pick them up where they are though.

The Beat Generation may be a good start for young people or those who have failed to reach their full potential like many non-readers probably have.

Another typical non-reader is what I’d like to call the “tough guy” who is “too cool to read”.

“Real men” sometimes believe that reading is somehow compromising their manliness.

Survival or bodybuilding resources probably won’t hurt.

You need to intrigue them. Don’t just attempt to make people read what you think they should. Give them what they want in print or online form.

Even clickbait can help. Don’t give away everything in the headline. Consider this example: “Ursula K- Le Guin, famed writer, dies at 88”.

A headline that gives away the hwol news already by sacing that "Ursual K Le Guin, famed writer, dies at 88".

Why would I click that link? I already know why she was famous and how old she was when she died. I know that she’s dead in the first place.

How about “the #1 reason why Ursula K. Le Guin will be remembered” instead? To find out you can click through actually read that article!

We are intrigued. We wonder: is she already dead? What did she do that made her so memorable? We want to know!

readable

Symbol for for an eye reading from a distance. It divides its attention between three short paragrphs.

Readability is a huge problem with both books and websites alike.

In these times our attention spans are extremely short.

Small screens on mobile devices make reading even more difficult.

We can’t focus on longer paragraphs or even sentences anymore.

This is also an issue with truly disabled people. They may have cognitive deficits.

I have cognitive deficits myself when I’m tired or when I experience pain from migraine attacks. I can’t read properly then.

Other people may be perfectly average but have difficulties when reading while on the go, holding a baby on their arm or trying to multitask in general.

Keep sentences short. Don’t complicate things to sound smart. Your website should be written for everybody.

It’s not about writing a thesis in college. It’s about reaching a wider audiences. Twitter is a good exercise.

Make your messages work in 140 characters and write like that for the rest of the Web.

Authors like Ernest Hemingway or Paul Auster have used simplicity to reach millions.

Simple word choices, short sentences and paragraphs won’t suffice though. You need to format text.

  • blockquotes
  • lists
  • bold text
  • text-marker effects

have proven to work best to enhance website readability.

engaging

There is this old social media cliche that “you have to engage in the conversation”. It’s true.

That’s like you have to write on the Web. Write in a conversational tone. Talk to your reader.

Become a buddy of your reader. Imagine sending an SMS to your ideal reader. Say “hello”!

Ask questions in your articles, not just rhetoric ones. Add calls to action asking for feedback!

Appeal to emotions by telling stories and speaking about real people like yourself or your family.

Cover worthwhile causes. Don’t just promote yourself and push what you like. Publish what others love.

You are meant not to judge a book by it’s cover but we all do. What’s on top and gets seen first counts.

Make a good first impression by placing attractive visual content on top of your page, each page.

usable

A neo sign saying entrance shedding only a dim light below so that we don't see an actual door.

OK, you have done everything right. Now the fire is already burning. Your site and content are findable, intriguing, readable, engaging…

What’s the problem then? Your site may still fail as a whole. It can be all of the above but when it’s not usable it’s wasted.

Usability or in modern words user experience matters on many levels. Can everybody access and use the site?

Or is it rather built for healthy white males, speaking English as seems to be the case with the new WhiteHouse.gov website?

Some of these non-readers may be actually disabled – blind for example! Don’t slam the door in their face!

When you fail to provide alternative text to your images and make the page navigable using the keyboard you lose that person.

Others may be healthy and enabled at the first sight – but like me often sick and tired (no pun intended). After staring all day into the screen

  • I can’t read long paragraphs anymore
  • sift through huge mega menus
  • or even deal with bright colors with a lot of contrast.

Don’t be overtly creative when building sites. The website is not the artwork, it’s the frame the artwork is in.

Keep it simple with low cognitive load by not reinventing the wheel.

Just place the logo on the top left, the navigation on top and the content below. Don’t add more than 6 menu items.

Cut out or limit the blinking ads and misleading “you may also like” partner stories.

popular

Facebook demographic by Sprout Social. All kinds of audiences ar epresent. High school kidsfrom the nner city and older suburban dwellers.

Even when the fire is burning and almost everybody can use your site it’s still not enough to succeed with your website.

You of course need to become popular. You can become popular in general but also in your niche or area.

Popularity can be relative. A popular restaurant in your neighborhood does not have to be Mc Donald’s.

Consider popularization as explaining science to larger audiences. It’s about understanding. Keep it simple!

When scientists write for each to get reviewed by their peers nobody else will really understand them.

Many bloggers and website owners write like scientists only for their colleagues. They ignore people outside their industry or beginners.

Remember to publish for average people as well.

Cover topics that matter for many people. Use language even your mother can understand without cryptic acronyms and insider lingo.

Don’t assume everybody knows what you are talking about and provide context on top. Try to explain things in a way even kids can get!

Last but not least simplify the linking and sharing process without only focusing on third party sites.

Let people link to your site easily and share your content by mail or using messenger apps.

Allow copy and pasting! Sometimes it’s even impossible to select a headline or text quote due to bad design.

 

Are you enthusiastic now? I certainly hope so. Of course I tried to use the FIRE UP approach myself here.

Did it work? I have no idea! You have to tell me below in the comments or using your favorite social media channels!

The post The FIRE UP Approach: How to Optimize Websites for People appeared first on SEO 2.0.

Read More »

How to Make Your Website Less Scary and Intrusive to Gain More Business

Creepy looking guy wearing a red hoody squats in the dark. His eyes are ligh graffiti crosses, his mouth a light line. It seems there is a car in the background - we see the headlights.

When it comes to online business: are you a creepy stalker invading people’s privacy for profit?

  • Do you have dozens of trackers installed on your site?
  • Do you want visitors to allow you to send notifications up front on the first visit?
  • Do you let your ads follow people around the Web in a creepy way?

Not just tech-savvy users hate and block intrusive marketing tactics. They’re also unethical and harm the perception of your website.

You effectively scare people away! They won’t be doing business with you whether you are

  1. just a publisher
  2. running an online store
  3. or selling services on the Web.

It’s not hard to fathom. Being creepy is actually a bad habit in private but is downright self-sabotage when you ask people to spend time, effort or money on your site.

Are You Stalking Your Visitors You Creep?

Yeah, I know. Many marketers will advise you to “retarget” your visitors and the likes to increase profits but you actually stalk your users or let other stalkers do it.

Most business sites also do use Google Analytics because it’s free and everybody loves Google. Does everybody really?

Privacy Badger blocks Facebook and Google on a website.

There is a growing unease about Google and Facebook tracking every single step of ours online. Protecting your online privacy seems to be common sense by now.

Yet most website owners still treat privacy of their visitors lightly. They trade user data for some free tools or scripts. Is it worth it?

Protect Users or Wreck Yourself

By now there are many tools to protect your privacy online you can use directly in your browser – ideally Firefox – as Google which builds Chrome makes money off your “big data”.

Personally I use Privacy Badger by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) – an American non profit fighting for our online rights and Findx Privacy Control.

There is also a similar extension by the DuckDuckGo team which is probably a good start for beginners. I like the way Privacy Badger works though.

I have been using Privacy Badger for over a year. At first many sites literally broke when I visited them with privacy protection.

Many sites literally use hundreds of potential trackers on their unsuspecting users! Consider Wired.com – the website of the popular technology magazine.

239 tracking items blocked on Wired.com

I can’t link Wired.com here for security reasons! The Wired website is spyware! The FindX Privacy Control extension blocked 239 suspicious items! And guess what? The site still worked.

What does that mean? Wired used up to 239 redundant tracking scripts that you didn’t even need to load to make the website work or view the content!

Of course it’s mostly third party scripts and images. Google ads and analytics by themselves were responsible for dozens of trackers. Every image Google shows reports back on you!

Wired can get away with it why can’t I? Well, Wired exists for almost 20 years and has a faithful audience. Even I do visit it despite all the surveillance.

Imagine a site you don’t even know though that x-rays you on entry. That’s nono. That’s like a stranger looking under your skirt or opening your zipper.

Yet many sites add dozens or even hundreds of cookies to your local machine. Due to the European privacy law they have to ask for consent. It sometimes looks like this:

A wesbite ask for permission to use numerous cookies for all kinds of purposes. It's a dialog provided by Cookiebot.

This site is even one of the better examples – it just adds 60 cookies and only 34 of them “for marketing purposes”. I have seen worse ones. I rather decline in such cases.

Most of the cookies are used for tracking and are “unnecessary”.

By itself the idea and implementation by Cookiebot is a good one – it is also compliant with the EU privacy law. You just need to make sure to limit the number of cookies!

Lack of Privacy May Cost You Money

Some people by now think I’m one of those paranoid “tinfoil hat” nerds. I’m not advocating hiding in the woods with a bunch of survivalists though.

We need to use technology ind the information age or we’ll get left behind. I still want to be able to use the Web but I don’t want to be exploited by “big data” while at it.

Even in case you don’t care for privacy you will surely admit that some of the ramifications are unsettling. You surely care about money, don’t you?

Based on your Internet activity or data you share you may see a different pricing online. In simple terms: lack of privacy will cost you more money!

Based on your profile some products won’t even get shown to you while others may be overtly promoted.

For example inner city Afro-American youths are much more likely to see ads for alcohol while they won’t get shown real estate ads.

Who are you on the Web? Are you yourself with your

  • ethnicity and skin color
  • religion or lack there of
  • sexual orientation and gender
  • age and birth date
  • political bias and affiliations

or a carefully crafted persona made to be as likeable as possible?

Each of those very common “data points” may have some negative impact on your online and real life. For example I can’t see a lot of online content because I’m in Germany.

A lot of video content and music is limited to the United States or at least blocked in Germany as Google’s YouTube fails to pay German copyright holders.

  • To see videos or listen to music that is “not available in your country” you have to use a so called VPN or Virtual Private Network like Proton VPN that hides your actual whereabouts.
  • Muslims are not only subject to discrimination on the street but also on the Web. Are you sure you want to disclose that you believe in Allah?
  • Studies show that women are much more likely to be harassed online than men. Homosexuals or transgender people are exposed to even more hate speech.
  • Some online stores show different pricing depending on your background and browsing history. You may pay more than others without realizing it.
  • Age is clearly often used to decide whether you can access some online content. It’s not only about adult topics though.

Ageism becomes also apparent when you have to pay more because you’re older. Just think insurance policies.

When you follow the news online you might have noticed over the recent years that increasingly more and more people tend to agree with you. That’s the so called filter bubble.

Algorithms notice what you like and only show you items based on your political preferences. In the US this has led to a completely unexpected presidency by Donald Trump.

Many websites collect data like age or gender routinely. Just to sign up somewhere or to buy something you need to give away vital information on yourself.

Yet an increasing number of people – potential customers – are not fond of such random data collection even you have a – or despite of your – huge privacy policy.

Thus not only Internet users who end up on your site may lose money. You – the website owner – may lose money too when you neglect actual data protection.

I don’t even refer to the actual threat of getting sued when you don’t comply with local privacy laws . I mean losing customers because of lack of or downright disregard for privacy.

You Have a Privacy Policy? Awesome! Can I Read it?

Excerpt from Ecosia privacy policy explaining clearly that they us no third party trackers like Gogle Analytics

A privacy policy – some people already regard it as a “profiling policy” – may actually backfire. Most such policies are written in undecipherable legalese only lawyers can understand after many hours of study.

Even by skimming such wall of text written in alien language many people get scared. You only share the data with your partners, advertisers and everybody else? Back off!

There are some examples of actually human readable privacy policies out there you can not only understand but they don’t scare you with their message. Sadly they are few and far in between.

It seems the more complicated a privacy policy is the more suspicious activity of dubious data sharing it is hiding. Just think Facebook.

While Facebook may get away with an egregious tracking record because it is too big to fail and indispensable for most people your website may not.

Now with the new European privacy law every website serving visitors from the EU needs a plain language privacy policy. I have created one for myself. Yes, you can read it!

Know When to Ask for Private Information and Permission or if at All

One creepy yet wide-spread practice many business websites adhere to is asking strangers for private information or access to their mailboxes.

This is the infamous “I fcuk on the first date” mentality. You enter a site and have to close a pop up asking for your mail address, a notification permission dialog and a consent notice for cookies.

Some sites also ask for permission to have access to location data – that is where you are or where you live. No, thank you!

When I asked my colleagues on Twitter most of them mentioned these issues. Even as Web professionals with technical know how they are ostracized by such sites.

Thank you Dean Cruddace, Zack Neary-Hayes, Andrew Akesson for feedback and additional insights. Click their names for their feedback!

The privacy-oriented Firefox browser already allows to block most of these requests altogether out of the box:

Firefox brwoser permission that allow to block notification rquests by default along with pop-ups.

It’s a shame! These features can be very useful when used responsively. They are not just tools for stalkers and creepy marketers!

Personally I’m trying my best to reconcile website optimization and privacy needs. You need analytics to know how your website works and whether people really view it.

What you don’t really need unless for selfish reasons is tracking across domains and similar privacy breaches. Learn from the Facebook debacle!

Stop treating website visitors like easy prey. The goal of a website is not to make money off unsuspecting visitors by tricking them into giving away their data.

You need to convince people that you offer value. That’s marketing. Attract privacy oriented visitors to gain more business!

Stalking and selling private data is crime even if the laws aren’t applicable everywhere yet. Just because some sites still can get away with it does not mean it’s OK.

The post How to Make Your Website Less Scary and Intrusive to Gain More Business appeared first on SEO 2.0.

Read More »

6 Principles of Effective Email Marketing

Email is an online marketing tool that has the potential to reach a huge number of people who are interested in your products or services.

And while it is possibly one of the oldest (well, let’s call it: “most well established”) methods of outreach, research continues to show that it can be very effective when it’s used properly.

Of course, blasting out emails to anyone and everyone can’t exactly be referred to as “effective.” That kind of behavior is the kind of thing that gave email marketing a bad name in the first place.

There are, however, some simple principles you can use to reach more people, increase the open rate, and find more success.

1.  Make a Specific Offer

In an article on Marketing Experiments, there’s a great quote that really sums up our goal with every email, and that is:

“Specificity converts. In marketing, there should be no such thing as a general message. The marketer communicates with an aim. This aim should dictate everything else we say. This aim should influence, even constrain, every word we say.”

If your email is just a generic reminder that you exist, chances are it will be 100% successful… at reminding people that you exist… and also that you like to send them useless emails.

You can improve your conversion rates with specificity.

Your subject line should be specific about what they will get for opening the email, then the content should be specific about what you are offering.

Just remember that you’re not trying to sell the product or service with this email. You need to let your website do that.

Your offer, then, simply needs to be specific enough to give them a reason to click over to your website.

2.  Make a Specific Offer in the Right Way to the Right Audience

You’re clear and specific about what you offer, but that alone doesn’t mean people are going to rush to click your call to action.

Especially if what you offer has no connection to the person receiving the email.

You can be completely specific, you can have the greatest offer, but it won’t have much impact with the wrong audience.

Or if you present it in the wrong way.

A real estate marketing campaign, for example, will have to consider both buyers and sellers. It should be able to provide information at the right time about the right neighborhoods and homes in the right places. Weekly emails would likely be overkill and would have a better chance of annoying, rather than enticing, potential customers.

On the other hand, if you’re running an email campaign for an ecommerce store, you may want to up the number of emails because your customers will want to have the insider information on the best deals or new projects.

You can instantly reach a huge audience through an email campaign, you just have to clearly define that audience and determine what approach will give the recipients a reason to click.

3.  Communicate Like You Would on Social Media

When you treat your emails like a flier that gets shoved into every mailbox on the street, the owners of said mailboxes are going to treat them the same… and throw them away.

We do tend to think of email as advertisements and announcements, and while that’s not exactly a bad thing, it isn’t the most effective way to reach out to your customers.

Think of it like social media. If you treated ever social media posts like an advertisement, you’d very quickly lose those followers, too.

So, let’s think of email as another way to be social. That’s what email is supposed to be, isn’t it? A way to stay connected with friends and family?

Take a look at this example (from Marketing Experiments again) to see one example of how writing like a human would write to another human “absolutely crushed” the performance of their traditional emails.

4.  Don’t Expect to Always Get It Right the First Time

Don’t expect perfection from your very first email. You can do really well with your first email – assuming you’ve started your campaign on the right foot – but it’s going to take some work, some tests, and some re-working to really grab all the potential here.

Email marketing is like every other element of online marketing, meaning you need to rely on analytics rather than assumptions.

You may be surprised what the numbers show you.

For example, you may have seen some numbers before that are all about “the best time to send emails” or the “best days of the week to send emails” or “how many times a months you should send emails.”

There have already been several studies to determine when the best times are to send an email. Some of them are also quick to point out that there’s no one right answer here, and that different people open email and different times.

A lawyer for example, could be more likely to open emails between 10 am and 2 pm, while a nurse may open emails anywhere between 10 in the morning and 10 at night.

The point is, all this research is a great place to get started planning your strategies, but until you start gathering your own data on your own target audience, a generality is all it will be.

You can do a lot more with specifics than you can generalities.

And while you won’t have all the specifics on your first email blast, you can watch and record and consistently develop the campaign to do a little better with each send.

5.  Make the Value Very Clear

From the subject line to the content and images, you need to make sure you’re connecting the value you offer to the reader.

In the SEO world, we often talk about how you only have a few seconds to capture your customers attention once they land on your home page.

With email, the same urgency applies, but in a different way.

When someone arrives on your website, it’s safe to assume that they at least had some kind of interest in your products/services/content because they actively searched for and clicked on your site.

When someone opens an email, they are expecting you to prove your worth pretty fast because you came to them. They didn’t come to you.

They’re not looking to see if you have what they want. They’re looking for a reason to delete your email.

If the value of opening the email and clicking the CTA is clear, you’ll have a much better chance of converting a casual reader to a serious customer.

6.  Don’t Ask for Much, But Be Clear What You’re Asking For

An email with a call to action in the range of “subscribe now for $10 a month” isn’t likely to get much traction.

Don’t try to sell anything with your email except a click.

That means selling them on the value on the other side of that click.

If you’ve connected with them, and spoken to them as a real person, this shouldn’t be too hard to do.

At the same time, you don’t really need to beat around the bush. You can be clear about the fact that you are selling something.

People tend to be more open to directness. If they feel that you’re trying to be sneaky about the sale, they’ll probably just hit that delete button.

Building Relationships with Email

No one wants to jump into a committed relationship from the very first handshake. We tend to want to explore the possibilities a little more before taking anything to the next level.

When you build an effective email campaign, you can, in essence, get your potential customers to look you in the eye and give them a firm handshake. They may not respond immediately, but this is an important first step in any relationship.

The next step is to follow through using the above guidelines. If you keep at it, email marketing could be a powerful weapon in your online marketing arsenal.

The post 6 Principles of Effective Email Marketing appeared first on SEO.com.

Read More »
Scroll to Top