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Part 1: Grow Your Business and Leads With SEO

This is a 2 part series written in conjunction with Aktify.

Part 2: How To Revive Dead Leads To Increase Business Growth

Growing one’s business and leads are two of the top goals of every businessperson. Lead growth and business growth go hand-in-hand. You won’t get one without the other. Many business owners, particularly start-ups think business and lead growth begin with the salespeople making phone calls. This view of building a business is outdated and unsuccessful.

While the good old telemarketing phone calls are still around, most communication happens online. Computers and smartphones grant people 24/7 access to information and each other. If your sales team isn’t complimenting their phone calling with online communication via email, social media and SEO, you won’t be growing your business or number of leads well any time soon.

The acronym SEO in the last sentence may have caught your attention. What does search engine optimization have to do with leads and growing one’s business? In short, a whole lot.

With the readily accessibility to the Internet, users expect to find information and answers to their questions immediately. Websites provide the content containing this information users are hurriedly looking for. However, there are millions of websites out there on the Internet and not all of them appear in search results. Only the ones deemed most relevant and credible appear. After all a user is in a hurry to get specific information so they don’t want to waste their time reading irrelevant website content.

This is where SEO, or search engine optimization, comes in. Behind every search query typed in by a user, a Google SEO or search engine robot indexes and collects data from every website published on the web. Spiders crawl websites looking for keywords that match or are related to the words used in a user’s search query. The search engine robot uses a formula to then rank certain webpages in the search results that are seen by the user.

In search engine marketing, ranking is important. Every internet marketing company strives to get their own website and the websites of their clients to the coveted #1 search result position.

Why is ranking important? Well, going back to the previous points of 24/7 Internet access and people’s expectations for immediate answers and information, the first handful of search results will be read while those on the following pages will likely be ignored. After all, who is going to click through multiple websites when their time is precious and short?

It is only through implementing  a good online marketing with SEO optimization of one’s website that there is a greater chance of your website receiving one of these top rankings and thereby increased website visitors and possible leads and customers.

SEO not only brings more traffic to your website, but it also attracts quality leads who are interested in your brand, product or service.

Start tracking your keyword rankings with a serp ranking tool to monitor the results of your SEO efforts.

If search engine optimization is a foreign concept for you, it can be overwhelming as to know where to start and what to do. Here are some simple SEO tactics you can start to implement in order to catch the attention of search engine robots and gain a higher, more visible search results ranking:

  • Utilize Keywords

An excellent starting point for an SEO strategy is the implementation of keywords. When you set up an account with Google Search Console, you  can access a handy keyword tool where you can find which industry or niche specific keywords, keyword phrases and keyword groupings to target and implement throughout the content on your website. When determining which keywords to target, look for ones with lower search volume, but high monthly searches.  Those with lower search volumes mean they aren’t as competitive so your company has a better chance of ranking for them.

You may be tempted to go after broad, short keywords and phrases, but so will everyone else. When you decide to target long-tailed keywords (keywords or keyword phrases that contain more words that are also more specific), your website’s chances of getting ranked increase and the people who find and visit your site will be more likely to be interested in your product or service.

  • Write Good Meta Descriptions

The meta description is the one or two line blurb that appears under the clickable web page heading. It gives a brief description of what that specific page is about. The length of the meta description has been lengthened  from 160 to 300 characters. Meta descriptions longer than this are truncated, which is something to avoid. Meta descriptions are to be short and concise. They are also prime places to insert some of your targeted keywords. When writing meta descriptions, think of the web user and the questions he or she may be asking when they are conducting a search. Let your meta description be your answer to one of their questions.

  • Make Your Website Mobile Responsive

More people now browse the Internet on their smartphones than on a desktop or laptop computer. You likely have noticed the difference in screen size between a smartphone and a computer. Websites that aren’t mobile responsive will fit the screen size of a desktop or laptop computer, but won’t shrink to fit the small screen of a smartphone. The result is an ugly, hard to navigate website when a user uses his or her smartphone.

Search engines, like Google don’t like unhappy Internet users and since mobile responsiveness is a big deal  for user experience that it is now a ranking factor in its search ranking algorithm.

By having a website that is mobile friendly you not only satisfy search engines and possibly get a boost in search results rankings, but you’ll also give your site visitors a pleasant experience.

  • Get Active on Google Business Listings

Google My Business (GMB) is a great way for local businesses to get listed online. With GMB, businesses are listed on Google maps with directions, a summary of the company’s products and services, the company’s address, telephone, hours of operation, pictures, reviews and a link to the company’s website.

To take advantage of GMB, one must “claim” their business. The provided business summary section is another prime place for inserting keywords. Here, however, try and implement local keyword phrases like “hair salon in X city.”

Reviews are also crucial. Aim to generate as many positive reviews as you can. With people conducting more business transactions online without interacting with the company, reviews are an invaluable way to gauge whether someone should work with a company or make a purchase from a business. Online users making their first purchase from a business will automatically read reviews about the company first.

  • Regularly Produce Quality, Optimized Content

While it is great to include keywords in the URLs, titles, meta descriptions and images used on each page of your website, a blog where one regularly publishes fresh, informative content is the sweet spot to implement keywords. Search engines also look for fresh, new content that would provide users with useful information that they are looking for. Blog posts provide users with relevant, informative, interesting content as well as places where you can implement keywords and links. Consistent blogging also shows web users and search engines that you’re a credible  and reputable source of information which goes a long way in boosting your website’s search results ranking.

Your blogs should be written in a way that is easy to read and understand and be free of spelling, grammar and punctuation errors and contain a call to action or some form of engagement with the reader. When blogging, some things to be aware of include link bait and buying, keyword stuffing and plagiarism. Only insert relevant links from other credible websites into your blog posts, don’t excessively use the same targeted keywords and make sure your blog content is 100% unique and original. Website visitors and search engines will thank you.

  • Share Your Wealth of Knowledge Through Guest Posting

With guest posting, you write a blog post which is then published on another website. This is a great way for your blog content to get more exposure and more visits to your website. If your blog post is published on a reputable site within your industry, the credibility and reputation of your own website will get a boost which will catch the attention of search engines who in turn may reward your website with a higher search results ranking.

Ideally, guest posting should go two ways where you agree to publish someone else’s blog post on your site in exchange for them posting your blog post on their website. This is the best, and most ethical way to exchange links as well.

  • Improve Your Website’s Speed

Web users expect to get what they’re looking for almost immediately. They are not going to sit around and wait a minute or two for a website to load. Instead, they will immediately go to another website. Site speed is also a factor search engine robots use in awarding search results rankings. Some ways to improve the loading speed of your website include allowing caching, compressing the size of images and videos, remove unnecessary plugins and scripts and have a reliable web host.

  • Optimize Your Images

While most visitors to your website will have no problem seeing your images, those who are blind as well as search engines will be unable to view them. Search engines are computers and only read text and numbers. Blind visitors can have a description of the image read to them. To make it possible for everyone, including search engines to “see” your website images, an ALT tag is used. These are brief descriptions of a few words telling what the image depicts. It is a good idea to implement keywords in the ALT descriptions. With keyword rich ALT descriptions, your  website will appear more relevant to search engines.

Implementing SEO onto your company’s website can greatly grow your business and leads. It can be tedious and take time to see an improvement in search results page listing rank. The algorithm, or formula used by search results robots change frequently so it is important to constantly monitor your website’s SEO tactics and to continually adjust them.

While the basic search engine optimization tactics make for a good foundation and are easy to implement, it can be a challenge to keep it up. SEO isn’t a “one and done” thing. It requires constant maintenance and adjustments over multiple years. For many small and medium sized businesses, this can be more than what they can handle while also trying to manage the day-to-day operations of their businesses. As a result, many choose to hire an experienced, outside digital marketing company to handle and oversee their website’s SEO.

If you’re in this latter group and need help with your website’s SEO, be sure to check us out at SEO.com. We are an SEO company made of experienced internet marketers in the areas of web development, PPC, SEO, social media marketing, remarketing and content marketing. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how they can help your website’s SEO generate more leads and grow your business.

SEO can help grow your business by attracting leads to your website. Once the leads are obtained, the sales team must take them through your sales funnel to convert them into paying customers. Some leads, however, become stagnant, or dead. These dead leads, however can be revived through products and services that help with sales funnel management like those by Aktify. SEO combined with platforms to revive dead leads like Aktify can help your business grow by leaps and bounds.

Part 2: How To Revive Dead Leads To Increase Business Growth

The post Part 1: Grow Your Business and Leads With SEO appeared first on SEO.com.

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AMP'd Up for Recaptcha

Beyond search Google controls the leading distributed ad network, the leading mobile OS, the leading web browser, the leading email client, the leading web analytics platform, the leading mapping platform, the leading free video hosting site.

They win a lot.

And they take winnings from one market & leverage them into manipulating adjacent markets.

Embrace. Extend. Extinguish.

AMP is an utterly unnecessary invention designed to further shift power to Google while disenfranchising publishers. From the very start it had many issues with basic things like supporting JavaScript, double counting unique users (no reason to fix broken stats if they drive adoption!), not supporting third party ad networks, not showing publisher domain names, and just generally being a useless layer of sunk cost technical overhead that provides literally no real value.

Over time they have corrected some of these catastrophic deficiencies, but if it provided real value, they wouldn’t have needed to force adoption with preferential placement in their search results. They force the bundling because AMP sucks.

Absurdity knows no bounds. Googlers suggest: “AMP isn’t another “channel” or “format” that’s somehow not the web. It’s not a SEO thing. It’s not a replacement for HTML. It’s a web component framework that can power your whole site. … We, the AMP team, want AMP to become a natural choice for modern web development of content websites, and for you to choose AMP as framework because it genuinely makes you more productive.”

Meanwhile some newspapers have about a dozen employees who work on re-formatting content for AMP:

The AMP development team now keeps track of whether AMP traffic drops suddenly, which might indicate pages are invalid, and it can react quickly.

All this adds expense, though. There are setup, development and maintenance costs associated with AMP, mostly in the form of time. After implementing AMP, the Guardian realized the project needed dedicated staff, so it created an 11-person team that works on AMP and other aspects of the site, drawing mostly from existing staff.

Feeeeeel the productivity!

Some content types (particularly user generated content) can be unpredictable & circuitous. For many years forums websites would use keywords embedded in the search referral to highlight relevant parts of the page. Keyword (not provided) largely destroyed that & then it became a competitive feature for AMP: “If the Featured Snippet links to an AMP article, Google will sometimes automatically scroll users to that section and highlight the answer in orange.”

That would perhaps be a single area where AMP was more efficient than the alternative. But it is only so because Google destroyed the alternative by stripping keyword referrers from search queries.

The power dynamics of AMP are ugly:

“I see them as part of the effort to normalise the use of the AMP Carousel, which is an anti-competitive land-grab for the web by an organisation that seems to have an insatiable appetite for consuming the web, probably ultimately to it’s own detriment. … This enables Google to continue to exist after the destination site (eg the New York Times) has been navigated to. Essentially it flips the parent-child relationship to be the other way around. … As soon as a publisher blesses a piece of content by packaging it (they have to opt in to this, but see coercion below), they totally lose control of its distribution. … I’m not that smart, so it’s surely possible to figure out other ways of making a preload possible without cutting off the content creator from the people consuming their content. … The web is open and decentralised. We spend a lot of time valuing the first of these concepts, but almost none trying to defend the second. Google knows, perhaps better than anyone, how being in control of the user is the most monetisable position, and having the deepest pockets and the most powerful platform to do so, they have very successfully inserted themselves into my relationship with millions of other websites. … In AMP, the support for paywalls is based on a recommendation that the premium content be included in the source of the page regardless of the user’s authorisation state. … These policies demonstrate contempt for others’ right to freely operate their businesses.

After enough publishers adopted AMP Google was able to turn their mobile app’s homepage into an interactive news feed below the search box. And inside that news feed Google gets to distribute MOAR ads while 0% of the revenue from those ads find its way to the publishers whose content is used to make up the feed.

Appropriate appropriation. 😀

Thank you for your content!!!

The mainstream media is waking up to AMP being a trap, but their neck is already in it:

European and American tech, media and publishing companies, including some that originally embraced AMP, are complaining that the Google-backed technology, which loads article pages in the blink of an eye on smartphones, is cementing the search giant’s dominance on the mobile web.

Each additional layer of technical cruft is another cost center. Things that sound appealing at first blush may not be:

The way you verify your identity to Let’s Encrypt is the same as with other certificate authorities: you don’t really. You place a file somewhere on your website, and they access that file over plain HTTP to verify that you own the website. The one attack that signed certificates are meant to prevent is a man-in-the-middle attack. But if someone is able to perform a man-in-the-middle attack against your website, then he can intercept the certificate verification, too. In other words, Let’s Encrypt certificates don’t stop the one thing they’re supposed to stop. And, as always with the certificate authorities, a thousand murderous theocracies, advertising companies, and international spy organizations are allowed to impersonate you by design.

Anything that is easy to implement & widely marketed often has costs added to it in the future as the entity moves to monetize the service.

This is a private equity firm buying up multiple hosting control panels & then adjusting prices.

This is Google Maps drastically changing their API terms.

This is Facebook charging you for likes to build an audience, giving your competitors access to those likes as an addressable audience to advertise against, and then charging you once more to boost the reach of your posts.

This is Grubhub creating shadow websites on your behalf and charging you for every transaction created by the gravity of your brand.

Shivane believes GrubHub purchased her restaurant’s web domain to prevent her from building her own online presence. She also believes the company may have had a special interest in owning her name because she processes a high volume of orders. … it appears GrubHub has set up several generic, templated pages that look like real restaurant websites but in fact link only to GrubHub. These pages also display phone numbers that GrubHub controls. The calls are forwarded to the restaurant, but the platform records each one and charges the restaurant a commission fee for every order

Settling for the easiest option drives a lack of differentiation, embeds additional risk & once the dominant player has enough marketshare they’ll change the terms on you.

Small gains in short term margins for massive increases in fragility.

“Closed platforms increase the chunk size of competition & increase the cost of market entry, so people who have good ideas, it is a lot more expensive for their productivity to be monetized. They also don’t like standardization … it looks like rent seeking behaviors on top of friction” – Gabe Newell

The other big issue is platforms that run out of growth space in their core market may break integrations with adjacent service providers as each want to grow by eating the other’s market.

Those who look at SaaS business models through the eyes of a seasoned investor will better understand how markets are likely to change:

“I’d argue that many of today’s anointed tech “disruptors” are doing little in the way of true disruption. … When investors used to get excited about a SAAS company, they typically would be describing a hosted multi-tenant subscription-billed piece of software that was replacing a ‘legacy’ on-premise perpetual license solution in the same target market (i.e. ERP, HCM, CRM, etc.). Today, the terms SAAS and Cloud essentially describe the business models of every single public software company.

Most platform companies are initially required to operate at low margins in order to buy growth of their category & own their category. Then when they are valued on that, they quickly need to jump across to adjacent markets to grow into the valuation:

Twilio has no choice but to climb up the application stack. This is a company whose ‘disruption’ is essentially great API documentation and gangbuster SEO spend built on top of a highly commoditized telephony aggregation API. They have won by marketing to DevOps engineers. With all the hype around them, you’d think Twilio invented the telephony API, when in reality what they did was turn it into a product company. Nobody had thought of doing this let alone that this could turn into a $17 billion company because simply put the economics don’t work. And to be clear they still don’t. But Twilio’s genius CEO clearly gets this. If the market is going to value robocalls, emergency sms notifications, on-call pages, and carrier fee passed through related revenue growth in the same way it does ‘subscription’ revenue from Atlassian or ServiceNow, then take advantage of it while it lasts.

Large platforms offering temporary subsidies to ensure they dominate their categories & companies like SoftBank spraying capital across the markets is causing massive shifts in valuations:

I also think if you look closely at what is celebrated today as innovation you often find models built on hidden subsidies. … I’d argue the very distributed nature of microservices architecture and API-first product companies means addressable market sizes and unit economics assumptions should be even more carefully scrutinized. … How hard would it be to create an Alibaba today if someone like SoftBank was raining money into such a greenfield space? Excess capital would lead to destruction and likely subpar returns. If capital was the solution, the 1.5 trillion that went into telcos in late ’90s wouldn’t have led to a massive bust. Would a Netflix be what it is today if a SoftBank was pouring billions into streaming content startups right as the experiment was starting? Obviously not. Scarcity of capital is another often underappreciated part of the disruption equation. Knowing resources are finite leads to more robust models. … This convergence is starting to manifest itself in performance. Disney is up 30% over the last 12 months while Netflix is basically flat. This may not feel like a bubble sign to most investors, but from my standpoint, it’s a clear evidence of the fact that we are approaching a something has got to give moment for the way certain businesses are valued.”

Circling back to Google’s AMP, it has a cousin called Recaptcha.

Recaptcha is another AMP-like trojan horse:

According to tech statistics website Built With, more than 650,000 websites are already using reCaptcha v3; overall, there are at least 4.5 million websites use reCaptcha, including 25% of the top 10,000 sites. Google is also now testing an enterprise version of reCaptcha v3, where Google creates a customized reCaptcha for enterprises that are looking for more granular data about users’ risk levels to protect their site algorithms from malicious users and bots. … According to two security researchers who’ve studied reCaptcha, one of the ways that Google determines whether you’re a malicious user or not is whether you already have a Google cookie installed on your browser. … To make this risk-score system work accurately, website administrators are supposed to embed reCaptcha v3 code on all of the pages of their website, not just on forms or log-in pages.

About a month ago when logging into Bing Ads I saw recaptcha on the login page & couldn’t believe they’d give Google control at that access point. I think they got rid of that, but lots of companies are perhaps shooting themselves in the foot through a combination of over-reliance on Google infrastructure AND sloppy implementation

Today when making a purchase on Fiverr, after converting, I got some of this action

Hmm. Maybe I will enable JavaScript and try again.

Oooops.

That is called snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

My account is many years old. My payment type on record has been used for years. I have ordered from the particular seller about a dozen times over the years. And suddenly because my web browser had JavaScript turned off I was deemed a security risk of some sort for making an utterly ordinary transaction I have already completed about a dozen times.

On AMP JavaScript was the devil. And on desktop not JavaScript was the devil.

Pro tip: Ecommerce websites that see substandard conversion rates from using Recaptcha can boost their overall ecommerce revenue by buying more Google AdWords ads.

As more of the infrastructure stack is driven by AI software there is going to be a very real opportunity for many people to become deplatformed across the web on an utterly arbitrary basis. That tech companies like Facebook also want to create digital currencies on top of the leverage they already have only makes the proposition that much scarier.

If the tech platforms host copies of our sites, process the transactions & even create their own currencies, how will we know what level of value they are adding versus what they are extracting?

Who measures the measurer?

And when the economics turn negative, what will we do if we are hooked into an ecosystem we can’t spend additional capital to get out of when things head south?

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What’s Your Name and How to Use it for a Site or Blog?

Hello! My name is John Smith! You can call me agent Smith. What’s your name? Come on! That’s an innocent question, isn’t it?

OK, I admit it! I tricked you. My name is not Smith. It could have been though. There are so many of them!

My real name is truly bizarre for most English speakers and no person can really pronounce it let alone memorize it. When you’re a secret agent on the Matrix it’s hard to blend in with that one.

Why Using Your Real Name May Be a Problem

Do you get my point? You most probably can’t simply use your name for a website or blog. Even when you are John Smith you will face difficulties.

Why not come up with a cool name like Neo, Trinity, Morpheus or even Cypher instead? They may already be taken too.

You have to actively decide what your name is or come up with a nickname, business name or brand name. Then you can start a blog or create a website.

In this post we will learn how to choose a name for your blog, website, business or even yourself. Then we will see how that name or names will fit onto your blog or website.

What’s in a Name? How to Put it There?

When you started out on the Web in the late nineties it was liberating. You could communicate with people all over the world in an instant! Hooray!

The times when you were stuck with schoolmates or neighbors who weren’t interested at all in you or what you love were over. You could find like-minded individuals all over the planet now!

Now that it was possible to connect with Europeans or Asians there was a new issue. They needed to be able to know who you are. It was not just the cultural background (where you were born) but also who you actually were now (your self chosen identity based on interests).

Prejudice didn’t matter as much anymore as before the Web.

  • Religion
  • Skin color
  • Political affiliation

Who cared as long as you had the same hobby online?

on the Internet nobody knew that you’re a dog!” – Peter Steiner

We didn’t even use avatars in those early days on the Web and real names weren’t the norm until Facebook convinced most of us to give up anonymity roughly ten years later.

For most services short and crisp nicknames were required, the same applied to mail addresses and website names or domains.

The Web has changed a lot ever since but names pose still the same challenges now.

  • Do you really want to use your real name? Can it work?
  • Do you need a name for your business, website or blog or does a generic description like “x-services-atlanta” suffice?
  • Is calling a blog simply “blog” good for memorability?
  • Why do people need to memorize your name at all in times of Google?

As you see, there are a lot of questions that we have to ask ourselves before going online. Your nationality, ethnic or even religious background are contained in your name.

You may have a beautiful name like Goldberg but because it’s Jewish some people may be affected by their prejudice against Jews. Prejudice affects other religions and ethnic backgrounds too. That’s the sad reality.

A personal or business website should deal with the topic you choose not automatically your birthplace or parents. You can still be who you choose to be on the Web!

Should You Use Your Real Name for Your Site?

Are you one of the few lucky people who have the perfect online name from birth? It needs to be less common than John Smith but more memorable than my outlandish name. It also needs to be more unique than John Smith so that you can register a domain name like ideally .com for it.

As you may imagine johnsmith.com is already registered. At the same time my name is still available. Would it be a wise decision to use it for a website though?

Even in case you’d decide to use your real name for a domain it would be very easy to get mixed up with all kinds of people with the same name when you’re John Smith or have some other common English name.

Many Asian bloggers and website owners face the opposite issue. They have very long names with uncommon character combinations so that people in other countries can’t read, pronounce or memorize their names.

Only use ethnic sounding names when they really matter. Think kosher food or Chinese restaurants.

The founder of Namecheap – the company behind EasyWP who pays for that post – has both a unique and memorable name: Richard Kirkendall. Yet he chose to name the company after the main product – domain names.

The second part refers to pricing obviously. it worked well for many years. Yet down the road with many new products and services added the name was also limiting. what about premium products? They aren’t cheap.

Even when owning a domain name for John Smith has its drawbacks beyond being too common. Most people outside English speaking countries can’t pronounce or sometimes even spell the English “th”. Let me summarize:

real names alone are rarely a good option for a domain or website name.

You have plenty of name options for everybody who hasn’t the perfect real name. Also remember that marriage and divorce can change you name significantly so that using your real name for a website or business is not always the best option even when it works fine initially.

How to Choose a Website Name Without Embarrassing Yourself

Screenshot from Namecheap.com

What’s your online name then? Is it a business name or personal name? When your personal name is too complicated you may choose your business name for a website or you may have to come up with a business name in the first place.

You may also combine personal and business name. For example you can use a nickname for a business as well. When Web was still new many people at first experimented a lot with nicknames. Online most of the early adopters used a lot of different and often bizarre nicknames.

Some of them mimicked existing names or brand names. Others were ambiguous and some completely made up. Many early nicknames led to some embarrassing misunderstandings sooner or later and felt awkward when people would address you by a name that was not really yours. It felt like a fake.

Many of us ended up with a fully made up nickname. Ideally it’s also a pun. Make sure your website is

  • short
  • unique
  • simply spelled
  • easy to understand
  • memorable

unlike John Smith’s name to make it work well on the Web. Even Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz and SparkToro has similar advice for you.

Some people even use programming or coding languages to come up with names for their sites. JavaScript is often used as inspiration.

A site or blog with such an ambiguous and very specific name is which is also a so called “JavaScript event handler” is called onfocus.com – it’s name matches its subject matter (photography) perfectly and thus I remembered it even after many years. It’s not just a pun it also has actual meaning related to whit it covers. Yet even that was not unique enough. Another site called onfocus.news is up by now.

As you see it’s hard to come up with a name that will last for many years to come but as long as it does for a few years you are already pretty good.

When you just want to set up a personal website for the rest of your life you may want to prefer your actual real name. Ideally you have both, a personal site with your name and a business site with a made up specific name to stay findable and visible online for as long as possible.

Sometimes the Best of All Options is a Combination of Them

Even a great name like Rand Fishkin or Brian Dean is not always the best option as it’s original meaning is lost. Rand has nothing to do with fish, Brian is not a dean and John not a smith. Ideally you also express what you do in your website name!

What can you do then? Combine the best parts! Name things you cover or offer by name not just yourself!

  1. What’s your first name?
  2. What is your primary topic you cover or business you’re in?
  3. Where are you or your visitors based?

For a local business that’s easy and most small business business are still local in nature these days. John’s Bakery Brooklyn may perfectly suffice and even lead to more search visitors looking for a baker in Brooklyn!

You are planning to expand in future? Maybe limiting your domain name or website to a location is not a good idea then! John’s Bakery may be too broad then. What’s your specialty though? John’s Vegan Bakery maybe? That’s already pretty unique again.

When you add a blog to it something funny would be more memorable than just a mere “blog”. johnsveganbakery.com/thedailybread

This is almost perfect for more than just a local audience. A blog is read all over the place not just around the corner so it’s a good fit!

You could also make it the other way around. Brooklynsveganbakery.com would draw even more local customers. It’s about long and descriptive though. Again a pun or ambiguity could help. Thedailybread.blog could also work well as a standalone domain name.

When it comes to real names you can also put them elsewhere in your site. My favorite places are the title tag that’s only visible when you look for it or the about page. Instead of a generic about page you can add the real name to the address right away. example.com/about-john-smith

You Can Choose More than One Name

No matter how long you search for the perfect website or domain name you won’t find the silver bullet.

Sometimes it’s better to register more than one domain and redirect the secondary names to the main one. This way you get the best options all in one. You can use both your real name, a nickname and a made up name along with the descriptive domain name then.

In our example it could mean something like this:

johnsbakerybrooklyn.com
thedailybread.blog
johnsmithbakernyc.me

could all lead to

brooklynsveganbakery.com
johnsbakerybrooklyn.com 

would redirect to them homepage.

thedailybread.blog would be rerouted to the brooklynsveganbakery.com/thedailybread address.

johnsmithbakernyc.me could send visitors to the about-john-smith page.

All of these are fine but quite long so at the end of the day you may want to also find a short domain name as well o redirect to those. Something like jbbny.com would make the cut. There is even a similar domain name out on Web for many years: jfbny.com

No matter what name you decide to choose make sure to focus on promoting one address in future and not changing it unless you have really compelling reasons to rebrand or rename your site.

When all else fails you can just use something completely unrelated! Do you think that’s crazy? The biggest tech and online brands use names that have no connection to their business whatsoever. They are not even metaphors!

  1. Amazon doesn’t sell trips to the Brazilian rainforest.
  2. Apple isn’t into agriculture at all or fruits in particular.
  3. Google hasn’t been associated with goo despite its name.

When coming up with a website name or brand for a startup you may want to be less descriptive and rather memorable like those corporations.

No matter what website and domain name you choose one thing is clear. You still need one despite Facebook and all the other tools that try to replace personal and business websites. Here’s why:

This is an infographic by Mike Blumenthal that has been published years ago but which is truer than ever. Your name and your website are the core of your online presence. Facebook and other tools are marginal and can’t replace it.

Once you have come up with a name for your site or blog you can decide how the rest of your address will look like. Make sure to think about that first! Here is some help: an article of mine explaining ways to structure WordPress permalinks.

The post What’s Your Name and How to Use it for a Site or Blog? appeared first on SEO 2.0.

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User research: the ultimate guide

When you want to make some considerable improvements to your website, what’s the best place to start? At Yoast, we feel that research is always one of the most important things to do. It’ll help you find out what needs work, why it needs work, and of course, what you have to do to make things better.

Looking at our website data in Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other SEO tools, is already part of our weekly activities. But, in order to dive deeper than just having a look at the plain data, we love to do user research. This is the part where you truly get to know your customers and where you’ll discover your blind spots when it comes to your own website. Within this ultimate guide, we’ll show you what types of user research could be valuable for your own website or company.

Table of contents

The top task survey

What kind of user research fits and complements the existing data always depends on the type of project you run. However, we believe that running a so-called ‘top task survey’ should always be the first step when you start doing user research. As you’ll able to use the outcomes of a top task survey within all future projects.

So, what is a top task survey exactly? To get to know why your customers visit your website, you’ll need to talk to your customers. And, how do you get to talk to your customers without actually having conversations with lots of customers? You could set up an online top task survey, which pops up on your visitor’s screen as soon as you like, either immediately after entering the website or after a couple of minutes. 

Questions in a top task survey

The popup is set up for one simple reason: to find out the purpose of their visit to your website. 

To make sure you’ll get valuable data out of your top task survey, it’s important to ask the right question. We recommend asking one open question: ‘What is the purpose of your visit to this website? Please be as specific as possible.’

With this open question, you give your customers the chance to truly say what they think. Closed questions make this harder, as you’ve already drawn up certain answers and then you risk missing other important thoughts or opinions your may customers have. And we know, analyzing the answers will take a lot more time, but when you do this right you’ll get the most valuable results.

Next to this one open question, it is possible to add one or two closed questions to take a closer look at your respondents. You might want to know the age or you want to know the type of customer it is. This data can be valuable to combine with the outcomes of the open question answers. In the top task surveys of Yoast, the second question is: ‘Do you have the Yoast SEO plugin?’. This is valuable information for us because we can see the difference between what free users are looking for on our website and what Premium users are looking for on our website. 

How often should you do a top task survey?

We recommend running your top task survey once a year. If you have a small website, you can choose to run the survey once every two years. The market you work in is always changing and customers always change, so every time you’ll run the survey, you’ll receive new, valuable information to work with and to improve on. 

The exit survey

The following two types of research we’ll discuss are more specific. And, which one you should perform at what time depends on the type of project you’re about to run. 

For example, you’ve noticed in your Google Analytics data that your most visited page has a very high bounce rate. This means that you need to know why visitors are leaving this fast. Couldn’t they find what they were looking for? Or did they find what they were looking for and are they already satisfied? You can get answers to these questions by running an exit survey on a specific page.

What is an exit survey?

An exit survey pops up when a visitor is about to leave the page. When a visitor moves their mouse cursor towards their browser bar, they are usually about to leave your website. So, this is the right moment to ask your visitor one or more questions. 

Questions in an exit survey

So, your visitor is about to leave, what do you want to know before they’re gone? We recommend keeping the survey short and simple: people are already leaving, so if you want them to fill out your survey, it needs to be short.

The question you ask depends on the page and the problem you want to solve. When you have a specific blog post with a high bounce rate, you might want to know if visitors have found the information they were looking for. The simple open question you could ask: ‘What information were you looking for today on our website?’. You could add a second closed question to see if the page fulfills your visitor’s needs: ‘Have you found what you’ve been looking for?’. A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is enough to get this overview. 

Within our post ‘What is an exit survey and why should you use it?’ we’ve added some more examples of questions you could ask depending on the page that needs attention.

User testing

The third type of research is ‘user testing’. User testing is the type of research in which you get ‘live’ feedback from your clients because you actually see people using your website or product. At the beginning of this guide, we already mentioned ‘blind spots’ and user testing is the best way to find these blind spots. For example, you know exactly where to find what information or what product on your website, but visitors might not. Seeing testers struggle with finding the right page on your website can be embarrassing, but the good news is, when you know, you can improve!

Why should you do user testing?

User testing can give you very valuable insights during every stage of your process. When you’re creating a new product, it’s valuable to see what potential customers think of it, but it’s just as valuable to see what your customers think of your product that has already existed for over three years. Every test will give you new insights to work with!

User testing also guarantees that the test results are ‘real’. You can see for yourself how your customers use your website or product. The customer can’t ‘lie’ about things. And, that’s a big difference with survey respondents: they can say different things compared to what they really experience.

How to get started

There are three main types of user testing which you could use for your own website or product:

  • Live, moderated user testing: your testers will test with a moderator in the same room.
  • Remote, moderated user testing: your testers will test with a moderator while they’re in contact through a video call.
  • Remote user testing without a moderator: your testers will test without a moderator in their own time and space. They will record the test so you can watch it later.

Within our specific post ‘What is user testing and why should you do it?’, we explain more thoroughly what type should be used in what situation. 

After picking the method you want to use, it’s important to set up a clear plan with goals and a test scenario. Hereby you make sure the testers will follow the right path and will give you the insights you need. After that, it’s time to recruit your testers. Decide on what types of testers you’ll need to get the best test results. We recommend recruiting different types: young people, older people, experienced people, inexperienced people, etc. Think of all the types of people that might use your website or product now and in the future. 

Then it’s time to get started! Create a plan and start testing with your recruited people. Make sure you record all tests, making it easier to analyze the results. As it’s nearly impossible to remember everything that happened during the tests. 

Analyzing user research results

There is some difference in analyzing the results of surveys, such as the top task survey and the exit survey compared to the user testing results. 

When analyzing an online survey, we recommend to export all data to a sheet and to create categories for all answers. Place every answer into a specific category to get a clear overview of what the biggest problems are. After that, you can easily see what problems need to be prioritized and you can start thinking of improvements. Set up an action plan and start improving!

For the user tests, it can more difficult to create a couple of categories that fit the test results. Here, it’s easier to write a summary for every user test and to combine those at the end. Can you discover similarities? Can you combine some issues to improve more at once? It’s important to look at the bigger picture so you can make improvements that will have a big impact on the future user experience of your website or product!

User research tools

There are several tools in which you can create a top task survey or an exit survey (or other surveys!). We’re currently using Hotjar, but we’re planning to create our own design and implementing it with Google Tag Manager. Tools we know for setting up online surveys are:

  • Hotjar
  • SurveyMonkey
  • Mopinion

On their sites, they have a clear explanation of how to use these tools to perform an exit survey.

For user testing, your needs are different. Testing a website or a product, you’ll need a testing environment for your testers or a test product they are allowed to use. Besides, you’ll need recording material: for testing a website, you can easily record a screen session, but for testing a product, you’ll need to think of a recording set up. Do you have a good camera and a tripod, for example? Then you can get started! When you’re doing user tests more often, you can use an eye tracker as well to get more insights on how people are looking at your website or product, but it’s not necessary!

Are you already doing user research as well? Or have we convinced you to start doing user research? Let us know in the comments below!

Read more: Panel research for your business: Benefits and tips »

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