Managing Google reviews for your business

One of the most critical things business can do is to claim their Google My Business listing. These “local listings” enable businesses to be easily found by local customers. They also have the added benefit of enabling your business to be reviewed by customers. In this blog, I’ll cover the often tricky aspect of acquiring and managing Google reviews for businesses. This blog assumes your business has already claimed it’s Google My Business listing. If you haven’t, do it now by going to https://business.google.com.

Why should you get reviews?

Credibility/trust

Reviews bring credibility and trust to your business & reduce the risk of making a bad purchase for customers. As with most aspects in life, the most successful outcomes progress from a recommendation. Established businesses with no reviews often attract suspicion. Imagine the case of your local take away shop that’s been in business for years, but has no reviews. Would you be comfortable ordering food from there? Many people would not.

Ranking signals for Local SEO

As I mentioned at the start of this blog, Google Local listings are critical if you want to be found by local customers. That’s because these listings, all other things being equal, are displayed by Relevance, Distance and Prominence. The number and Reviews & interactions to these reviews are a ranking factor for the listings. https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091?hl=en

Ask for reviews

I once had a friend who told me “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”! This principle applies to Google reviews also. Most customers aren’t inclined to leave a review of their own accord unless they’ve had a terrible experience. As such, it’s critical you ask customers for a review of your business.

As always, it’s tricky to get the timing right. It shouldn’t be too early, where the customer hasn’t received the full value from your product or service, and it shouldn’t be too late, where the positive experience has already begun to fade.

To make it easier for your customers to leave reviews, it’s imperative you include the link to your Google My Business listing review. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Go to Google places: https://developers.google.com/places/place-id
  2. Search for your Place id by entering your businesses location:

Copy the place id:

Append the place id to the end of the link:

https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=<place_id>

The end result of this process is a URL, that provides a direct link for customers to write reviews for your business, which displays the review box to clients, as can be seen below:

If you want to make the link even nicer for clients, use a URL shortener such as Bit.ly to generate a custom/short link.

Respond to all reviews

No matter whether they are positive or negative.

I see many businesses aren’t comfortable in responding to negative reviews. I always recommend business owners to respond to all reviews, as Google wants to see businesses interact with their customers. If the review is particularly negative, I recommend calming down taking a deep breath and explaining your side of the story (without arguing). The other option is to apologise for the poor experience that the customer experienced, no matter whether it’s justified or not.

It’s a bit like receiving a bad meal at a restaurant. A good waiter will apologise for the poor meal, rather than debate the merits (or lack thereof) of the diner’s complaints.

Negative reviews are actually positive (within reason), as they justify to customers that your business is real. Research has deomonstrated that people usually seek negative reviews first when looking to buy expensive items. If there are no negative reviews, then it can look suspicious to potential customers. Studies have shown that the “sweet spot” for purchases from Google reviews is generally between 4.2 and 4.5.

Report any fake reviews to Google

Of course, you shouldn’t report all negative reviews, but if some reviews are obviously fake, or there’s clearly a conflict of interest, you can report them to Google for further investigation. This is done by opening your Google My Business console, clicking the reviews menu:

Clicking the right side of the “offending” review and then clicking the “Flag as inappropriate” box. You can then follow the prompts to categorise why the review is inappropriate.

In this blog, I’ve attempted to provide an overview for businesses on the importance of claiming and optimising their Google local listing. These local listings are critical for all businesses, but especially local businesses, as one of the primary factors used for search is the proximity or distance from the business. The review functionality of these listings is also critical for businesses and this article provides some tips for businesses to get started in requesting and managing these listings.

For local SEO assistance, contact Evolocity today.

 

 

Medical SEO

Why Medical SEO is critical for practitioners

Are you an Australian doctor, Vet, or medical specialist that is looking to increase your caseload or gain new clients and grow your practise, clinic or overall business?

SEO is one of the most important aspects of success for a medical practice, but medical SEO is quite often neglected. It’s not surprising really, as the often murky world of SEO appears to be an art rather than a science.

Most doctors and practise managers are too busy running their business to spend the time to and effort to learn and implement best practices for search engine optimisation. Just like any other aspect of running a business, it’s always a good idea to outsource specialist functions to the experts.

Why invest in healthcare SEO?

Medical or healthcare SEO is increasingly becoming crucial for medical practitioners including general practitioners, plastic surgeons, neurologists, rheumatologists, dermatologists, ophthalmologists, cardiologists, rheumatologists, urologists and vascular surgeons etc.

According to Health Care communicaton News, 80% of users search online to find out information about doctors.

It is important when someone is searching for your practice or location that you’re visible in the search results. If someone is searching for your medical specialty or service offering, you need to be visible to searchers also.

As most proponents of digital marketing are aware, Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is one of the best value digital marketing methods for business. Although other online marketing methods, such as paid advertising platforms including Google AdWords and Bing Ads, as well as social media advertising are often great choices for business. In the long run, SEO usually provides the greatest return on investment (ROI).

Why is it so?

Businesses often see the higher monthly investment for SEO and can’t understand the value proposition compared to paid advertising. The truth is, this SEO effort, for the most part is evergreen. Put simply, the SEO efforts of today reap benefits for many months and years to come. Compare this with paid online advertising, where as soon as the Ad spend is stopped, the returns also stop.

Why you need a specialist healthcare SEO provider

Although SEO has some similarities from niche to niche, there are distinct benefits in finding a provider that has expertise in the medical, Vet and general health fields. Medical SEO specialists understand the medical industry, your competitors and have the advantage of knowing the most important websites to the medical industry. Simply put. Healthcare SEO experts know what works when promoting medical businesses in Australia.

At Evolocity, we have a plethora of medical and veterinary SEO and AdWords experience and have worked with Australian clients in Sydney, Gold Coast, Byron Bay as well as international clients.

If you are a medical professional or work in the medical industry, we can help you with digital marketing to get more clients. We’ve employed successful medical SEO strategies for GPs, Vets, cosmetic clinics as well as several medical specialists.

Contact us today to find out how we can help your practice.

AdWords Vs Facebook Ads – Which Should You Invest In?

I’ve often heard people say that social media advertising is a waste of money, as social media users are predominantly catching up on news and seeing what their friends ate for lunch, rather than actively looking to buy goods or services. Although there’s an element of truth to this, there’s still a place for social media advertising.

Contrast this with traditional Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising methods such as Google AdWords and Bing Ads, where the searcher is actively looking to buy (depending on the keywords used). As a result, it’s far easier to gauge intent with PPC advertising.

In reality, it’s unfair to compare these two very different advertising methods, as they operate in completely opposite ends of the funnel.

Facebook is a great platform for businesses looking to increase their brand recognition, increasing awareness and spurring interest. Facebook also has an excellent form of an ad, that can be very cost-effective, which is called a “conversion” ad.

In this form of an ad, you only pay the Facebook advertising costs when your ad “converts” ie when the user performs the desired action such as making an online purchase, contacting your business etc.

The difficulty with a Facebook conversion, as illustrated in the opening statement, people generally aren’t looking to buy goods and services whilst browsing Facebook.

It’s all about the sales funnel!

adwords sales funnel

That’s where the funnel comes in. Facebook Ads generally target users towards the top of the sales funnel. That is users that are in the awareness or discovery phase of the funnel. In the example of people looking to buy a TV, these users are generally researching TVs, trying to find out the major brands and features to learn more. This top of the funnel phase is where social media advertisers operate. This, however, makes Facebook conversion tracking tricky. Very few social media users will convert instantly, that is, they won’t click the Facebook ad and then buy right away.

How do you calculate a conversion then?

As we previously established, Facebook ads are generally used at the top of the buying cycle, and it may take several weeks before the user flows down the funnel and is actually ready to buy. The question is, how do we track a conversion then?

Facebook has a piece of code called a pixel, that tracks the user’s interaction between Facebook and your website. It has a 28-day post-click attribution window. That is, any click from a Facebook ad that converts in 4 weeks is recognised by Facebook as a conversion. You can read more about the difference between Facebook and Google conversion calculations here.

How does this compare with AdWords?

Much of AdWords’ success has been attributed to intent. It’s really focused at the bottom of the funnel actions. That is searchers that are firmly entrenched in the buying cycle. Through detailed keyword research, it’s relatively easy to determine the searcher’s intent. Search terms such as “cheap TVs Sydney” or “best price 48 inch OLED TV” is very specific and has buying intent.

As you can see, these searchers are past the point of informational research and are close to buying. They’re clearly in the Intent or more likely the Purchase stage of the funnel.

So, as we see Facebook ads operate very differently to Google AdWords. Facebook Ads are great for building brand recognition and alliance for your business. Also, once this recognition exists, Facebook Ads are more likely to convert. Take the example used above, if Samsung is advertising OLED TVs on Facebook, and the buyer is actively looking to buy a TV, they’ve probably come across Samsung TVs through research or exposure in general and those ads may convert. However, if there’s an ad from TV manufacturer TCL that the buyer hasn’t heard of, it’s very unlikely to convert.

AdWords, on the other hand, lets you run very specific ads that are listed above (and below) the organic Google search results and is ideal for those users who are ready to buy and know what they are looking for.

One harsh truth is that neither AdWords nor Facebook Ads are cheap. Advertising constitutes the cash cows for both organisations. In some industries, the cost per click can be upwards of $50!

Paid online advertising is often a great option for businesses, and there’s often a great return on investment with a well-managed ad campaign.

For advice about online advertising options such as AdWords campaign management, contact us today. Click here to read other articles on online advertising.

 

Getting started with Google Search Console

Google Search Console (previously known as Webmaster Tools) is by far the most useful and is my favourite SEO tool! It has all the critical data you need to manage your SEO campaigns, without the complexities of analytical tools such as Google Analytics.

 

The following will provide beginner’s guide to Search Console, that covers the basics of setting up, verifying and using Google Search Console, focusing on the most used elements.

Add your property

Each website has two properties:

Either http://website.com and http://www.website.com or

https://website.com and https://www.website.com

It’s important to add both versions of your website, to ensure you don’t miss any messages or data. After you’ve added your website, you’ll need to prove that you are the rightful owner of the site.

 

Verify the property

Google Search Console setup

Once the property has been added, you’ll need to verify that you are indeed the rightful owner. There are several ways to verify a property. The most frequent ways I use are listed as follows:

HTML file upload

If you have access to the cPanel (or file system) of your web hosting, one of the simplest ways to verify is to upload the HTML file to your web hosting environment.

 Google Search Console

Simply log in to your cPanel environment and upload the HTML file. Alternatively, use an FTP program to upload the HTML file to your web host. After the upload has completed, simply click the address that’s listed in step 3 (above), to verify the property.

 

I find this is one of the easiest (and safest) methods for site validation, as no code changes are required and no additional plugins need to be installed.

HTML Tag

If you’re confident to add/Modify HTML code on your homepage, the adding of an HTML tag to your home page is simple.  Simply add the code provided in the <head> section, and you’re on your way!

google search console verification

The issue with this approach, especially in Content management systems such as WordPress, is you’ll need to mess around with your site’s theme. This is low risk, but themes get updated periodically and you’re at risk of losing the HTML tag when a theme is updated.

 

For WordPress, if you pick the HTML validation method, I’d recommend using a plugin to set the HTML tag. The excellent Yoast SEO plugin has this built in, else there are many plugins designed just for this purpose.

 

Google Analytics

If you already have access to Google Analytics on the destination website, one of the simplest ways to gain access to the Search Console is to get access via Google Analytics. This only works if you have Asynchronous tracking mode enabled, however.
search console verification issues

You’ll notice there are other methods that I haven’t discussed, such as Google Tag Manager and Domain Name Provider. That’s because I’ll rarely use them. It’s unusual that Google Tag Manager is already set up, but you don’t have access to Google Search Console. It can happen, I’ve just never experienced it.

 

Once you have verified your website property, it’s time to move on to cover the basics of the information that’s contained and how to use Google Search Console.

Dashboard

The dashboard is the logical place to start when familiarising yourself with the search console. It contains the most important information about your site and it’s search performance

search console issues

Search Traffic

Search traffic is the foundation of SEO and the Search Traffic area of Google Search Console is where the crux of the information is stored. The most useful area is undoubtedly Search Analytics. This provides the following information, which can best be described by the four metrics that are displayed:

google search console setup

 

Clicks-These are clicks from Googles organic search results. Ie, someone has typed a query, which has displayed pages of results. Clicks are when someone has actually clicked a search result that has brought them to your website.

Impressions- Search results that were displayed to the searcher, but not clicked (think of these as lost opportunities).

CTR (Click Through Rate) Clicks divided by impressions

Position is the position that keyword has in Googles organic search results. Ie the result displayed at the top of Google search results is 1 and so on.

 

Now, following the check buttons from left to right on the page, we have:

 

Queries– search terms that were used to bring visitors to your site

Pages– displays the pages that receive the most clicks

Countries– allows you to break down the metrics by country of origin

Devices– which device was used to access your site: Desktop, Tablet, Mobile.

Search Type– Web, image or video search

Search Appearance– this shows other sources, such as links and apps.

Dates– You can filter by date range. Up to 12 months is currently being introduced by Google.

Links to your site

Links are one of the most important SEO metrics. This area provides a breakdown of links to your site:

 

I’ll skip over the rest of the categories in the search traffic area, as it’s unlikely you’ll need to access them.

Google Index

 This page is very useful to see how many pages you have indexed in Google.

Crawl

Crawl stats are important, as they show how busy Google has been when it’s been “Crawling” your sites with it’s “Spiders”. This process is how pages are indexed in the search engine, so it’s important to keep an eye on your crawl stats.

 

Fetch as Google

Fetch as Google is the mechanism where you can manually submit pages to be Indexed by Google. Crawling will happen periodically by Google and there’s no need to manually submit pages. Sometimes, it’s urgent to have a page indexed ASAP, so here is the mechanism to submit pages manually.

Robots.txt tester

This area tests your Robots.txt file to ensure you aren’t blocking Google’s spider inadvertently from crawling and indexing your pages.

Sitemaps

Sitemaps tell Google the overall structure of your website. In this area of the Google Search Console, you can see the pages Indexed by Google, compares to those on your website (as submitted in the form of a Sitemap). This section provides valuable information for investigating any pages that aren’t indexed by Google

 

In this blog, I’ve covered off the basics of Google Search Console and how to register your site in the search console. This isn’t a complete guide, merely a starter guide that covers off the basics to get you started.

I find Google search console to be the most useful SEO tool any site owner can have and it will save you valuable time if used correctly. Although Google Analytics has a purpose (especially to identify traffic and conversions), I find in most cases it provides too much information and I go down the “rabbit hole”, only to exit wasting countless hours traversing data!

Anything I’ve missed? Have a question? Please comment below.

 

404 error wordpress

Why a custom 404 page is crucial

What is a 404 error?

A 404 error is generated by your web server when the requested page is not found on your WordPress website.

Every WordPress theme has a 404.php file, but only some themes will have their own custom 404 error page. WordPress will automatically use that page if a page not found error is encountered on your website.

The page that is displayed when the requested page can’t be found is largely determined by your theme, but here’s a common example of 404 error wording:

404 page

 

If you have used a default WordPress theme for your website, the 404 error can be confusing and you’ll likely lose visitors due to broken links or the user entering a typo and reaching a page on your site that doesn’t exist.

Why is it important to have a custom 404 page?

The thing you need to consider first and foremost is the visitor’s state of mind. They are already likely frustrated and annoyed when they’ve reached your 404 page, as they can’t find the page they are looking for.

As a website owner, you have a responsibility to help your users find the page they are looking for if you don’t want them to bounce and leave your site for good. For this reason, it’s a much better idea to include a custom and “friendly” 404 page to avert such a situation.

Compare the previous WordPress 404 example, with this one:

 

The above is a much better choice as a custom 404 error page, as it provides the user with a search box, to find the content they’re looking for on your website. Even better, it provides guidance on how to perform a website search and even offers some recent blog posts to read.

By now, it should be clear that this custom 404 approach is much more likely to retain users on your website.

How to set up a custom 404 page

Many WordPress themes have a custom 404 page already designed, so you can likely leverage off that, but it may still be sub-optimal. If you decide to create a new custom 404 page, you can follow the steps below:

First, create your custom 404 WordPress page. This is the same as creating any other WordPress web page. Just set a name for the page as if it was a new page on your site.

Then go to cPanel:

custom 404 page

 

and find your .htcaccess file and right-click to edit it:

 

Add the following line to your existing htcaccess file, replacing 404ErrorPage with the name you gave your custom page as described in step 1. eg:

ErrorDocument 404 /Custom404Page.html

If you don’t have access to cPanel or wish to set your 404 page using an easier method, install the excellent free WordPress 404 page plugin. Details of the plugin and instructions can be found here.

After setting your preferred 404 page, it’s now time to customise it, to reduce the bounce rate from visitors.

Install and activate the excellent Recent posts widget extended that provides the ability to display recent/popular posts in a WordPress widget:

Go to the new 404 page you created in WordPress and change the input method to Text (HTML) and enter the code below to display the last 5 blog posts on your 404 page:

[rpwe limit=”5″]

Write a friendly message

It’s important to reassure a user in a friendly tone that they’ve encountered a minor issue and you’re here to help them find the resource they are looking for. You can simply edit your custom WordPress 404 page (as mentioned above) to do this. Here’s an example:

“Oops! Sorry about that

As much as we try to always get things right, sometimes we don’t!

You can try a search here: or visit our recent blog posts here:

We hope we’ll do a better job next time!”

 

You can also add a search box on the page if your theme supports this functionality. If not, you’ll need to edit code which can get messy!

 

A custom 404 error page is a really great opportunity to keep users on your site, or even better, direct them to their desired destination.

Users are generally frustrated when they encounter a 404 error. It’s important to guide them back to their desired destination on your site as quickly and easily as possible. This makes for happy users and reduces your bounce rate.

To read other WordPress posts click here. Our previous SEO posts can be found here.

 

backlink removal service

Why you need to remove toxic backlinks

If you monitor your website’s backlink profile on a regular basis, it usually becomes apparent at some point that you have undesirable links that are pointing to your website.

Before Google’s Penguin algorithm went live in 2012, whoever had the most backlinks won. This spurred the cheap link building offers from companies that are able to build thousands of links in a day. As irony has it, backlink removal services have become extremely popular since 2012 also! That is because buying cheap/bad links often gives your site a short term gains, but will provide long term pains.

Websites attract bad backlinks for various reasons. These include, Google Analytics Ghost SPAM, Cheap link building and SEO services, or negative SEO that’s perpetrated from a competitor, or enemy.

Whether you have been penalized by Google or not, removing low quality backlinks is crucial. You shouldn’t have backlinks in your link profile that are high risk, or those that you would feel uncomfortable explaining to others.

There are three main reasons to invest in backlink removal. These are listed in order of importance:

  1. If you’ve been hit with a Google manual web spam penalty. In this case, Google will inform you of a penalty via the Google Search Console that your site has an “unnatural” link profile. This is a big problem, as your site won’t display in the Google Search Engine, until you resolve the issue. This is obviously the most urgent reason to clean up your backlinks.
  2. Algorithmic penalty. As Google rolls out new algorithms almost daily, over time you may be affected by poor quality links. This is likely to become evident if your ranks drop significantly at a time when there’s a known Google algorithm change. Many tools, such as Moz will map your rankings against known Google Algorithms.
  3. Preventative maintenance. Often, you have sites linking to your website that you are generally uncomfortable about. These links should be investigated further to avoid a future algorithmic or manual penalty.

To start, it’s imperative that you perform a full backlink audit against your website. You simply need to identify the low quality links that are suspected to be hurting your rankings. This includes any irrelevant links that are pointing to your website. Such links may be coming from gambling sites, adult sites, sites in a different language, or different country.

Sometimes bad backlinks are easy to see. This is not usually the case, unfortunately. More often than not, you’ll need to check the source website to see why the link could be construed as bad. If you’ve recently dropped rankings for no apparent reason, then it’s highly likely that it’s time for a link audit.

Categories of poor links:

Links from a website that is only set to provide SEO links– eg, SEO directories or Private Blog Networks. The sole purpose of these sites is to generate outgoing links. There may be hundreds, or thousands of links coming from these domains.

Blog Comment links– Blog comment links are low quality. A few here and there are ok, but they should not make up the bulk of your link landscape.

Links with over optimized anchor texts– If the anchor text is over-optimised, it looks unnatural and you’re likely to receive a google algorithmic penalty.

Things to consider BEFORE removing backlinks:

  1. Detecting bad backlinks is notoriously difficult. Even the most expensive SEO tools have difficulty identifying truly toxic links.
  2. Even those links that come from dubious sources, usually provide some link value. Anyone whose site has been hacked by creating thousands of pages enjoys the increase in domain authority! Be careful to ensure you’re not removing useful links.
  3. Hiring a link removal company doesn’t guarantee any more success. These services are expensive and likely won’t make any better decisions regarding which links to remove than you will. Remove the links yourself, by following this guide.
  4. Although Google suggests contacting the site owner first to ask them to remove the toxic links, many webmasters make this task arduous. Webmasters often ask for a removal fee, or refuse to remove the links.
  5. If you are penalized, removing the offending link rarely removes Googles penalty. You’ll need to also disavow the link.

Step 1- Backlink Analysis

Actually, this is a really important task in general. You should review backlinks at least each month, to know where you are at. There are several tools out there that are useful for this task.

How to identify low quality links

In reality, you can perform this task from Google Search Console. This is ok if you have a handful of suspect links, but in reality, it’s just additional time wasted performing this task manually. For this task, I’ll use SEO Spyglass, but you can use any tool that can analyse your backlinks effectively.

Start a new project:

backlink removal

Enter the URL to analyse. When the analysis is complete, click the backlinks link:

sydney backlink removal

The screen below is then displayed. You can add additional fields by right-clicking on the top banner. I find penalty risk, Inlink and Domain Inlink rank the most useful. As with all SEO tools, you can’t rely on the data 100%. You should verify the links manually to ensure they truly are toxic and need to be removed.

remove toxic backlinks

As you can see, the top row was flagged by SEO Spyglass as a relatively high penalty risk. After further manual analysis, it’s definitely a SEO link network.

Link removal

  1. Identify the backlink you want to remove
  2. Find the contact information on the website to contact the webmaster. If there’s nothing present, use whois to find out who owns the website.
  3. Email the webmaster/owner with clear information about the location of the link you wish to remove. If no response, wait 5 to 10 days and email again.
  4. If no response, or payment is requested to remove the link, Disavow the links in Google Search Console.
  5. Another option is to remove the pages, rather than the links. If you have low quality pages that are linked by toxic links, you can 404 the page to remove it instead.

This link removal process can be time consuming and frustrating! You may have hundreds, or thousands of low quality backlinks which, in reality will be impossible to remove. Some sites request a fee for removal, and others simply refuse, or don’t respond to your requests. It’s best to aim for a 20% success rate in manual link removal.

Disavowing links you can’t remove

Google has a great explanation on how to use their disavow tool here, so I won’t cover it again. The only thing i’ll say is that the disavow file is cumulative. It needs to include the previous disavow entries also. The disavowing process takes time (weeks), as Google depends on your “crawl budget” to crawl your website. Before you disavow backlinks, it’s important to prove to Google that you’ve done your best to clean up these backlinks yourself.

 

As a final note, traffic will decline when you disavow or remove links. There will likely have been visitors coming to your pages via the bad links. Whether a link is removed, or you instruct Google not to count it (By disavowing it), it appears to trigger a re-calculation in Google’s ranking algorithm and it’s likely you will drop rankings, at least temporarily.

On a final note, don’t be too eager to remove links. Often links aren’t pretty, but still help you to rank. In most cases, it’s not having enough good quality links, rather than having a few poor quality links (which Google usually ignores) that cause you to rank poorly.

Whether you’ve been hit with a Google manual webspam penalty, or are trying to avoid an algorithmic penalty; It’s important to monitor your backlinks on a regular basis. You want to clean up those links that you’re not proud of and links that come from bad sources on a regular basis.

For link removal, or Sydney SEO services, contact Evolocity today.

How to setup a WordPress store in under 15 minutes!

Some of the criticisms of WordPress, when compared to other purchase based platforms is the lack of in-built functionality on the platform to handle payments.

Shopify, for example has store/cart functionality built in, and accepting payments really is a breeze.

Woo commerce is arguably the king of processing payments in the WordPress platform powering 28% of all online stores on the web.  Woo Commerce is a powerful and customizable platform, but can often be complex to setup, needing custom integrations. There’s also a cost involved in accepting payments with WooCommerce (USD 129 per year).

For those WordPress websites that need to process simple, or occasional payments, such as selling ebooks or occasional services, WooCommerce may be an over-kill. At Evolocity, we recently faced this situation, and began searching for a simpler (and cheaper!) alternative WordPress shopping cart.

In this blog, I’ll provide an overview of how to setup a simple WordPress shopping cart and accept payments in your WordPress site in 15 minutes!

For this exercise, I used (and recommend) the WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart Plug-In. This is a simple WordPress shopping cart plugin, that allows your site to accept payments and credit card transactions via PayPal.

The shopping cart plugin provides a simple shopping cart functionality to sell products or services to your customers.  The beauty is that it lets you add the shopping cart anywhere in a WordPress post or page. Even via a widget in the sidebar, footer etc.

Setting up a Shopping Cart on your site

To find the plugin, login to your WordPress admin console, go to plugins, click “Add new” and search for: WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart

wordpress shopping cart

Install the plugin, then activate it.

Next, go to settings:

wordpress SEO

Click “WP Shopping Cart”, where you will be presented with the following screen:

wordpress shopping cart

The only fields I typically change, are:

  • Currency (and Currency symbol)
  • Shipping cost
  • Return URL – This is the page the customer will be redirected to after a successful payment. Similar to a “Thank You” page. It’s useful for analytics and for any conversion ads you may want to run.

Next, click on the “Email Settings” tab and customise the email body and email accounts as required.

Now that you’ve installed and configured the plugin, it’s time to setup the e-commerce facility on your website

How to use the plugin

The first step is to go to an existing WordPress page or post where you’d like to add a shopping option, such as add to cart and checkout option.

The next step is to add some text. Here, you’ll want to list the product or service you are selling, as well as the price:

 

The best SEO guide ever! Only $14.95

 

To add an “Add to Cart button” after the text, use the following code:

 

[ wp_cart_button name=”Best SEO Guide” price=”14.95″ ]

 

You can call the wp_cart_button anything you like, and update the price field.

The end result is:

 

Sydney SEO

The colour/type of the button can also be changed. you can find more buttons/graphics here.

 

The following line of code displays the shopping cart (after an item has been added to cart).

 

Here is the result after adding the Shopping Cart code (after adding the product to cart)

wordpress shopping cart

Once the customer has clicked the “Check out with PayPal” button, they’re directed to PayPal to complete the payment processing:

 

SEO Sydney

That’s all there is to it!

In conclusion, I find the WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart Plug-In surprisingly powerful, offering customised emails, grouped shipping options, currency support and customised post checkout pages. You won’t however find much more complicated options, such as affiliate/referral handling or the options to handle payments your way.

All payments are handled by PayPal, which provides you the safety, without the exorbitant handling fees. Please note that PayPal takes around 3% commission of the sales price (depending on the location/sale price), so you’ll need to factor that in.

If you’re looking for a simple payment processing option for WordPress, the WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart PlugIn is an excellent choice.

It’s simple and quick to setup and does the job without complex configuration. Also, If you’re anything like me and don’t feel comfortable handling payments yourself, PayPal is an excellent choice.

 

Click here to read our other blogs or contact us for any assistance.

YouTube SEO

How to get started with YouTube SEO

Videos are a great way to promote your business, brand, stimulate engagement as well as disseminate information in a more visual way. People often find it easier and less draining to watch videos, rather than reading long-form content.

Once you’ve created your videos, to have maximum engagement, they need to be found during search. In case you weren’t aware, YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world! After Google (who owns YouTube!).

YouTube currently handles over 30 million visitors per day, making it a strategic platform for your business.

From a search engine optimisation perspective, YouTube SEO works very differently to a website. There are no links to build with YouTube, and interaction with your YouTube video is a significant ranking factor.

This blog will show you how to get started with YouTube SEO, and how you can get your videos to rank better.

Keyword research

Keyword research for YouTube is very similar to standard on-page SEO. We’ll use the same approach that I’ve detailed in a previous blog, which can be found here.

Quite simply, what you are looking for, is key words that are high value and low competition. You’re really looking for keywords that have 300+ searches per month. it’s difficult to ascertain exact search numbers, as Google’s Keyword Planner’s figures are notoriously inaccurate, as highlighted here.

 

Google Ad Words Keyword Planner

Although it has its detractors, this tool is still arguably the most useful keyword research tool for SEO.

To get started, sign up for a free Google AdWords account, if you don’t already have one. You can then use the Keyword Planner tool to get a basic indication of search volumes for your keywords and recommended alternate keywords.

By inputting my service in this example: Veterinary and adding a landing page, Google suggests the following keywords (including average searches):

YouTube SEO

In this example, we’re looking to SEO a video on dog vaccinations. There are sufficient searches for this keyword (> 1,000) and the competition is medium. To make life easier, most SEO tools have an in-built formula (often known as Keyword Efficiency Index or KEI) to break down searches divided by competition, to see if the keyword is a good target. You can calculate the KEI manually, or use a tool such as SEO Powersuite to calculate it for you:

Sydney SEO

 

As you can see above, the KEI for “dog vaccinations” is green and is a strong candidate for a keyword to use to optimise our YouTube video on the topic.

 

Google Trends

Google Trends is also a valuable tool for keywords. It’s especially useful (if it weren’t obvious!) to identify topics that are trending currently. If we enter Dog Vaccinations, we can see that it provides a similar number to that estimated by SEO Powersuite, around 1800 searches per month.

Sydney YouTube SEO

YouTube auto complete

Just like the feature that’s included in Google search, YouTube has a predictive text field, to display other related and frequently searched keywords. This can be useful for brainstorming and a good starting point for your keyword research.

Sydney YouTube consultant

 

The video itself

Video length

SEO these days is all about answering the searchers’ question (or “intent”). Google believes the longer the content, the more thoroughly the searcher’s question will be answered. Like textual content, for videos, the longer the video, the better it will rank. Your videos should be at least 5 minutes long.

Video title

The video title should be at least 5 words long. This gives google enough information to accurately categorise the video. You’ll want to include the keyword you want to rank for once in your title. Also, try and make the title attractive and compelling to the searcher, so they click through. In our example, we’ll use: “What you need to know about dog vaccinations

Video description

The description field in YouTube is extremely important. It forms the crux of YouTube SEO. Here are some guidelines for you to populate the description field in YouTube:

  • Include a link to your website at the very top of the description. This assists the click-through rate to your website from YouTube.
  • Include the keyword you want to rank for towards the start of the description. These early words have a particularly high impact on your SEO.
  • The description should be somewhat lengthy. 250+ words (out of the allowable 5,000) should be populated to give Google enough content to decide what your video is about.
  • Repeat your keyword a few times to have a significant keyword density. 3 or 4 times is adequate if you stick to the 250 word guideline.
  • Tags can be used if you feel the need. They aren’t super helpful for SEO, but assist categorisation of videos.

Interaction

Engagement As always with SEO, it’s a “catch 22”. Your videos will need many views to rank well. This is especially true if you are tying to rank in a high competition nice. So you need many views to rank. Makes sense. Not!

Comments are an important SEO metric for YouTube. Encourage comments in the description, and respond to any comments that have been left.

Subscribers, favourites and thumbs up/down, followers. these metrics are also important for YouTube SEO. The more people want to interact with your videos and like/dislike sends signals to Google, which they use to decide rankings.

Watch time

How long users watch the video, is an important metric for SEO. If most people stop watching your 5 minute videos after 30 seconds, you won’t rank well. The longer users watch, the better. Consider editing your videos if they contain too much “filler”.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

Whether users click the links in the video description to go to your site is a ranking factor for Google. Give users a reason to click the link.

Promoting your video

Social Media & Email

Use social media channels, email newsletters etc to promote the video to your followers. Google+ communities can be useful, as well as the usual social media channels you use that are specific to your demographics.

Web 2.0

Embedding your video in Web 2.0 platforms such as Tumbler and WordPress blogs can assist your SEO greatly. This can drive traffic and send signals to Google to enable you to rank higher. The question and answer site Quora is also a good place to promote your videos.

Forum commenting

Responding to forum comments with a link to your video can be useful for SEO. It promotes your video to expand it’s exposure, and the link from the forum is another signal to Google about the relative importance of your video.

Conclusion

YouTube SEO, is similar to on-page SEO for websites. Keyword research is essential, and you’ll need to spend the time populating title, description, working on interaction and promotion of your videos

Hopefully this introductory guide to YouTube SEO will get you on your way to getting a higher ranking for your videos, more click-through and increased engagement for your YouTube channel.

If you need assistance with SEO on your website, or YouTube channel, contact us today!

guest blogging

6 reasons why guest posting is essential for your business

What is a “guest post”?

It’s increasingly difficult to acquire high quality, relevant backlinks in 2017. Sure, if you create great content on your website, it will eventually be indexed by Google and sites will find it organically and link to it.

It does happen; however it usually takes many months, or years for sites to stumble upon your content.

Guest posting is the process of producing content that will be hosted on another site, or Blog.

The destination site is most often a site that is more powerful than yours own, and one that has considerable traffic and readers.

 

Is a guest post risky?

Google has been advising for over four years that guest blogging for SEO purposes is considered “spammy”. Google’s former head of the web spam team detailed his concerns clearly in this blog.

Google is adamant that it will seek out and penalize sites that use guest posting for purely SEO purposes. The old “spammy” method of guest posts that Matt Cutts is referring to is posting links to unrelated content and guest posts purely for the purposes of SEO and rankings. These kinds of guest posts are (and should be) a thing of the past.

To answer the question, a legitimate guest post for exposure, reach and branding isn’t risky at all. As long as you follow the advice presented below.

Having cleared up the concerns from Google, there are 6 great reasons I believe you should guest post:

  1. Exposure– Guest posting allows you to demonstrate your authority on a subject. It enables you to stand out on a platform you usually don’t have access to. For example, when starting a new business (and website), you’ll usually have only a small audience. Guest posting helps you gain this exposure.
  2. Reach– Let’s be realistic, shall we? For a new site, it will take months or years for your website to gain traffic and rankings to the point where you’ll start receiving readers and organic traffic. Why not leverage off an existing website that has readers and traffic already?
  3. Branding– you may wish to promote your brand by appearing on high profile sites that allow guest posts. If your guest post makes it to Forbes or Entrepreneur.com, this will have a tremendous impact on your branding.
  4. Traffic– Most guest posts will allow some links in your article (where relevant), as well as a link in the author bio. If you guest post on a site with many visitors, it’s likely some will click the links to read about your products or services and to find out more about you. This traffic essentially brings referral traffic to your website and should result in more leads and sales.
  5. Relationships/community– Guest posts serve as an introduction to people you wouldn’t have met otherwise. Often, great things happen as a result of these relationships. Everything from cross-promotion leveraging synergies to joint ventures and beyond!
  6. SEO– Although Google has made it clear that guest posting for SEO is dead, the draw-card of increasing rankings is a major fringe benefit of guest posting. It’s been clear for many years that links are one of the most important ranking signals for a website. Quite simply, whoever has the strongest backlinks to their website generally ranks highest.

 Where should you blog?

To avoid any penalties, and to get a significant return on your investment for your effort, you need to find sites (that offer guest blogs), that:

  • Have a good domain authority – The Domain Authority of a website is a metric that compares the overall strength of a website (from 1 to 100). The domain authority of the site you wish to guest post should ideally be higher than your website. I’d also recommend you only guest post on a site with Domain Authority > 30. You can check domain authority of websites here.
  • Are reputable. The website must have a good reputation for publishing high quality, authoritative content. They shouldn’t accept payment for guest posts either.
  • Have significant visitors. You’ll only want to publish on a site that has more than 100k visitors per month. Check the site’s visitors and traffic using similar web.
  • Are related to your website– it’s no good guest posting in a different industry or unrelated genre (unless you want a Google penalty!). Pick relevant and related websites that allow guest posts.
  • Have a significant amount of social media followers– Social media is critical for all businesses. When a guest post is published, it should be promoted to the social media followers of the guest post site. For your engagement to be maximised, significant social media followers are essential. I’d say 10k combined followers (across all social media platforms) should be the minimum.

How to find guest post opportunities

Let’s say you are a lawyer in Australia that specialises in trademarks, and want to increase your reach and exposure. You could use a combination of the below in Google search to find sites that allow guest posts:

Australian trademark law “guest post”

Australian lawyer “write for us”

Australian lawyer “guest article”

 

If you’re looking to guest post on business, strategy, finance or general marketing, you can check out this article for an ordered list of sites that accept guest posts.

You then need to write a convincing email to the site you wish to submit to. Below is a great example from Backlinko:

 

Hey [Name],

Thanks for taking the time to comment on my guest post at [Website].

I never thought of the fact that [Insert something they said in the comment].

That’s a good point.

Anyway, I actually have another guest post idea that would be perfect for your site.

It’s called: [5 Tips X…]

I could have it sent to you this week.

Either way, thanks again for your insights!

Best,

[Your First Name]

What’s next?

  • Spend some time creating your author bio. Make your author bio as professional and descriptive of you and your experience as much as possible. Ensure you tailor your bio for each site. Google hates duplicate content, so don’t re-use the same bio across multiple sites.
  • Link from your own on-site blog to the guest post. Reciprocal links are a nice touch and are appreciated by webmasters.
  • Publish your post on social media several times. You need to promote your brand, and there’s no better method to do this than social media. Re-post your guest post periodically.
  • Thank the webmaster at the guest blog site for allowing your guest post. It’s important to build relationships in life and this is no different.
  • Answer any questions following your post. This creates engagement for readers of your post.

Conclusion

Google has warned that Guest posts for the sole purposes of SEO are finished, and will be penalised. If used correctly, guest posts are a great mechanism to display your authority, promote your brand and build valuable connections amongst your peers. The fringe benefits from guest posts include increased traffic and powerful links which will help your SEO and will be great for your business.

You need to ensure you do the research first and find suitable sites to publish your guest content. Also, be open to allowing reciprocal guest posts if the opportunity arises.

Do you agree with guest posts? Have a better approach? Leave a comment!

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Why you must use Pixel for your Facebook Ads

Why you must use Install Facebook Pixel for your Ads

What is Facebook Pixel?

If you are running Facebook Ads, or planning to, there’s one tool you should start using ASAP: Facebook pixel.

Pixel is essentially a piece of code that you install on your website, that tracks users as they interact with your Facebook Ads, as well as your website.

If you’re familiar with Google Analytics, Pixel is somewhat similar, just not (currently) as feature rich as Google Analytics. It really lets you dig deep, to better understand your users and their interactions.

Why do you need to install Pixel on your website?

Pixel should be considered an essential tool if you are running Facebook ads. Facebook’s Pixel enables you to effectively track conversions, helps you to optimize your ads and enables you to re-market your ads to specific audiences.

If you don’t install pixel, it’s very difficult to manage your ad campaigns, your campaign options will be severely limited and you’ll likely pay too much for your ads! You’ll also lose lots of analytical information to better understand your users and their actions.

How to install Pixel

There really are a multitude of ways to install Facebook Pixel. Facebook has developed many great integrations to make installs seamless. If you are running Woo Commerce, Wix, Shopify, have Google Tag manager setup etc, pixel installation is simple and you can skip this guide 😊

This guide focuses on WordPress users that need to setup their pixel integration manually.

Although, you can edit your theme and copy/install the pixel code manually, I’d advise against it. Editing WordPress themes can be fraught with danger. If you make a mistake, your site may crash which can be complex to recover. It’s just not worth the risk.

For this reason, I’d advise installing a WordPress plugin to install the pixel code on your website for you.

Setup the pixel in Facebook Ads Manager

Login to Facebook ads manager:

https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager

Click “Pixels”

Install Facebook Pixel

and then create a pixel

Install Facebook Pixel

Once the pixel has been created, you’ll need to install the code on your WordPress website.

Install Facebook Pixel

As mentioned previously, there are many integrations developed by Facebook, but none for native WordPress at present.

Install Pixel Caffeine

Rather than copying and pasting the code, we’ll use the “Pixel Caffeine” plugin in WordPress.

Go to your WordPress admin console and click Plugins -> Add New
Click Plugins and then Add new.

Search for Pixel Caffeine from AdEspresso. Install the plugin and then activate it.

Install Facebook Pixel

In Pixel Caffeine, click “Set up now” to link the WordPress plugin to your Facebook Pixel.

As always, I prefer to operate with the security mindset of least privilege, so I recommend using the manual setup option. This however means that you need to access most of the pixel data from Facebook Ads Manager, rather than in WordPress.

If you have no qualms providing your Facebook password to AdEspresso, you can use the Facebook connect option

Install Facebook Pixel
Enter your Pixel ID which can be found in Facebook Ads Manager, enter it into Pixel Caffeine, following the defaults and click save.

You will see the status ON in green when successfully connected.

Verify your Pixel

You can then go to Facebook Ads Manager again and verify that your Pixel installation is complete.

Install Facebook Pixel

And that’s it. We’re done!

Facebook’s pixel is imperative, if you’re running Facebook Ads, or planning to in the near future. The benefits of analytical information on your website and user interactions really are are invaluable.

Also, a pixel install is required to run more advanced advertising campaigns, such as conversions and sales, which we’ll cover in later blogs.

To read more about contact goals, click here.

For help with Facebook, Bing, or Google Ads contact Evolocity.