Farewell Google Bounce Rate. We loved you

Google Analytics Screenshot

When I’m asked to evaluate a website I always ask for access to Google Analytics, GA, (other analytics packages are available) so that I can get a feel for how the site is performing. After all, if it’s performing well then there’s probably little to gain from tweaking the website but if it’s not performing then the website needs to be fixed BEFORE any more marketing takes place. If not, the fresh marketing effort is simply wasted. If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you always got.

And I like to take a very quick “snapshot” to see whether I need to take a deeper dive in to website performance. To do this I look at 3 key metrics, over a period of 6 months. This gives me a very quick “feel” for how well (or not) a site is performing, and those three metrics are

Bounce Rate

This is possibly the most useful single metric that tells me a great deal about how well your website is working, at a glance. And yet it’s so simple. All it records is the number of site visitors who leave the site from the page they landed on, almost immediately, and without doing anything. And “anything” is clicking to visit another page, clicking to watch a video or simply spending more than about 10 seconds on the page.

Average Pages Per Visit

This is simply the average number of pages the typical visitor takes a look at. To get the most out of this it’s vital to understand what the goal of a given website is, and the path through the website to get there. A 2 page site can only ever have a maximum of 2 pages per visit but a multipage site a visit should comprise of several pages per visit although there is no right or wrong figure. It depends on the size and goal of the website but the more pages per visit the more that visitors are engaging with the site.

Average Visit Duration

This is the length of time that the typical visitor spends on the site. Like Average Page Views, it will depend on the size (and goal) of the website, but typically the longer the average visit length the more engaged visitors are likely to be.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Bounce Rates

I’ve been using Google Analytics for many years, probably since it was introduced by Google. But what is a good, bad and really ugly Bounce Rate? In my experience, it looks a lot like this –

  • 0%-20% – exceptional. Visitors are well engaged
  • 21%-45% – average. A lot of the sites I look at are within this range
  • 46% – 60% – feeling a little nervous and think about understanding why it’s this high
  • +61% – investigation required. Remember, this means that pretty much 2/3rds of visitors are leaving without doing anything at all. This will be the outcome of new marketing too, if remediations aren’t put in place.

Bounce rate is driven by many things but some of the key ones are

  • Page is too slow to load, 3 seconds or faster MUST be your goal
  • Page just looks unattractive
  • Page fails to meet expectations set by marketing messages
  • Page navigation is either broken or simply not obvious

As you can infer, the Bounce Rate gives an almost instant view of a website’s health – but Google is killing it off.

Google Analytics moves from GA3 to GA4

Some of you will already be on Google Analytics 4 (GA4), especially if you have only just set up Analytics on a new website so you may not know what you’ve lost. Some of you will have been moved across by Google, some will have been contacted by Google “offering” the choice to migrate to GA 4 and a lot of you may not have heard anything, yet.

There are many changes in both data and presentation, but for me the greatest loss of the switch from GA3 to GA4 is the switch from Bounce Rate to Engagement Rate.

Rather than simply measuring what a site visitor does as soon as they land on a page, Google have broadened their measurement and are now measuring Engagement, and to qualify as an “Engagement” a user must do at least one of the following.

  • Be actively engaged with the website (or App) by having it in the foreground for at least 10 seconds
  • Trigger an “Event” – perhaps clicking to watch a video, clicking to subscribe to a newsletter or by carrying out anything else that you might have tagged as a “Conversion Event”
  • Carry out at least 2 Page Views

As a consequence, Engagement is not simply the inverse of a Bounce Rate. This is simply because the criteria to count as “Engaged” is broader than that for a Bounce

Only time will tell whether this is a “good thing” or a “bad thing”. My brain tells me it’s a better (and more sensible) measure of visitor activity but my heart is bidding a sad farewell to the Bounce Rate.

If you need help understanding what Google Analytics is telling you about your website, whether that’s GA3 or GA4 then please, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call me on 01793 238020, email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or just search Chief SEO Officer


*Although GA is free to use for most SMEs, very busy websites will have to pay but the real cost is data. When you add Google Analytics to your website, Google gets access to an absolute firehose of data about the way people interact with your website – and every other website that GA is installed on. This data is used to inform SEO, not impact but inform. For example, if somebody finds a website in Google Search and clicks to visit it but returns to Google Search almost instantly, Google might take interest. If loads of people click through to the site and leave straight away Google will take a lot of interest. These visitors might have found, for example, that the site was slow to load. If lots of sites that have a high Bounce Rate were also slow to load then Google could infer that web users didn’t like slow websites. If that turns out to be true (after more research) then Google could decide not to promote slow websites on Page 1 of the Google search results and if you launch a new website that’s slow, then when you do your SEO you’ll already be trying to push water up a hill.

The 7Ps that make a great marketing strategy

Back in the early 80s, when I was undertaking quite a bit of management training I became familiar with 7Ps. Proper Preparation & Planning Prevents Pretty Poor Performance*.

When I moved from IT Support Engineer and Consultant in to Internet Marketing I learned about a different 7Ps, the 7Ps of Marketing:

  • Product/Service
  • Price
  • Place
  • People
  • Process
  • Physical Evidence
  • Promotion


Sometimes, when I introduce myself as a marketing professional, some conclude that I work with “advertising”. As you’ll see as you read on, you’ll see that advertising is just one part of marketing communications, which is one of the 7 Ps of marketing.  

I’ve touched really briefly on the various elements of the marketing mix – but please get in touch if I can help you work through anything in particular, email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020.

This is just a snapshot of the breakdown of marketing.  But it is good to sit back from your business and challenge yourself with some of these questions.

Product/Service: 

  • Is there a market for what you do? How do you know?
  • Why should people buy what you offer at all and why should they buy from you?
  • What makes you different from your competition?
  • Who is your competition – when did you last do a competitive SWOT?
  • What are the overall growth trends in your sector?
  • What is your sales pattern? What area of your sales is strongest and why and can you harness this strength elsewhere?
  • And what area is weakest? What are you doing about it?
  • How well do you treat your customers?
  • Which profitable customers can you win from whom? Who? How? Why? Where? When?

Price

  • Have you built value into your pricing?
  • Are you competitive?
  • Is your cost enough for you to work with profit?
  • How do you set your price?
  • Will you discount?
  • How will you avoid being always known for discounting?
  • What do your competitors do?
  • Keep It simple

Place

  • How easy/convenient is it for your customers to buy from you?
  • Where and how are you currently selling your products and services?
  • What are the opportunities to extend these?

If you are selling a service on the web, are you supporting with testimonials and case studies?

People

  • Are your people one of your main strengths of your business?
  • Or are you the bottle neck in your company? Are you better than everyone else and does everything have to come through you first?
  • What type of leader are you?
  • What is the path for your team to voice their concerns other than coming through you?
  • Are your people your best ambassadors or are they whinging about you/the business as soon as they are out of the door?
  • Are they as well trained as they can possibly be?
  • Did you involve your team when you last undertook a company SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) –really powerful.

Process

One of the vital Ps but often overlooked and often designed for the company’s benefit rather than the customer’s. Ask yourself:

  • Can your team deliver a consistent level of service to all customers and at all times?
  • Customer retention is critical.. how failsafe is your process to ensure you don’t lose any?
  • How effective is your sales process?
  • What processes have you in place for telephone answering/billing/communication with your clients/recommendations/operations/

Physical Evidence (Brand)

Your brand is defined as

  • Signs by which you are known and remembered
  • A bundle of explicit/implicit promises
  • A reflection of personality
  • A statement of position.

Have you thought about/discussed what does your company stand for? What’s its personality and philosophy? What’s your one key brand promise to your customers?

Your brand is so much more than your logo.  Think about a new visitor’s journey to your web site – does this reflect the look and feel of any communication they have had from you hitherto?  Will they recognise this as being part of the same business?  Have you had your website made mobile friendly?  Really important.

A few hours spent on this are far from fluffy nonsense. 

Promotion (Communication)

Just a few from the hundreds of options

  • Off line
    • Face to face
    • Word of Mouth referral
    • Networking
    • Telesales as part of a process
    • PR
    • Exhibitions and events
    • Direct marketing and sales letters with appropriate follow up driving to the web
    • Postcards
    • Events and seminars
    • Advertising but think carefully before you embark here. One off random ads are a waste of time and money! Is it the right target market?  Don’t be dazzled by offers…

On line

  • Website and how are you pushing your web? Does your copy talk about ‘you’, ie the reader?  Are you  making regular blog posts and updates?  Have you considered more SEO, more PPC,  back links, etc
  • Online videos on YouTube – how to/ about/testimonials – so many options.
  • Social media – which platforms should you invest time in?
  • Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest advertising.
  • Email news and updates

So then, back to the management version:
Just think how powerful your marketing strategy will be when you combine the planning from my original 7Ps with the focus provided by the 7Ps of marketing.

Combining your marketing knowledge to create a good strategy/plan using the 7Ps of Marketing coupled with the the 7Ps of Management managing implementation will surely lead to improved business performance.

But there are few quick wins when it comes to marketing, the more you work at it, the better it becomes. So, remember to take time away from working IN your business, (doing the business stuff) to work ON your business, doing the stuff that makes your business better. Set aside time on a weekly basis – little and often on a regular basis.

Remember though, I’m an Internet Marketing specialist although I’ll be more than happy to talk over other elements of your marketing activities and help where I can, Digital Marketing is where my skill set lies. If you have any questions, call me on 01793 238020, email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or just search Chief SEO Officer

*Oh, and of course we didn’t learn “pretty poor performance” we used a far more pithy term than “pretty”

There’s Google and then there’s the others

A lot of the work that I do for my clients is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This involves working on websites to move them higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Most of the time, when talking about SEO, I talk about Google because Google is, by far and away, the most used search engine on the internet. Notice I say “used” rather than “loved” simply because a lot of people use it because it’s Number 1 but they don’t trust Google due to the amount of data it grabs and the huge power it wields.

But enough of the pre-amble, I want to tell you that there are other search engines available and there may be excellent reasons for using them. If you regularly check Google Analytics, or other web analytics applications, you may already be wondering about the traffic sources that appear.

And if you are not regularly checking a web analytics program to understand how your website is performing, the see me after class.

From my perspective, the work that I do on SEO actually works for ALL of the search engines out there so, without further ado, and in strict alphabetical order, here are the world’s top search engines

Ask.com – Founded 1996

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Ask.com, started out as Ask Jeeves, a butler style service to help you find the answers to your important questions. Ask Jeeves has quite some history. It was founded in 1996 but in 2006 dropped “Jeeves”. Ask uses a unique algorithm to help you find the answers that you are looking for. It is designed to answer questions (hence the name) and favours expertise on a topic – instead of popularity

Baidu – Founded 2000

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Baidu was founded in 2000 and is the dominant search engine in its country of origin, China. They have a market share of 75% in China whilst Google comes in with 3.76% – which is surprisingly high seeing as Google is banned in China. As with most Chinese entities, they are heavily policed which means certain images are censored and pro-democracy websites are blocked. Even so, if you are looking to break in to the Asian market, Baidu is were you have to be.

Like Google, they are investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence and self-driving cars. Sound familiar?

Bing – Launched 2009

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Bing is Microsoft’s search engine, it was launched in 2009, which was when it replaced MSN Search. Later that year they also started providing search results to Yahoo, added AOL and Ecosia to the list of sites they support and Bing accounts for around 10% of US searches.

They are competitive in the Ads market too, although their total share of the market is small, compared to Google, so the impact is a lot less

DuckDuckGo – Founded 2008

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DuckDuckGo is the search engine that looks after your privacy, touting itself as “the search engine that doesn’t track you”. DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you, and it doesn’t collect or store any information about you either. You’ll still see Ads (powered by Microsoft) but they won’t be personalised, based on your browsing history.

Ecosia – Founded 2009

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Ecosia was launched in 2009 and it’s the first environmentally friendly search engine.

Ecosia is CO2 negative. To achieve this Ecosia donates 80% of profits to tree-planting projects which means that for around every 50 searches carried out on Ecosia, a tree is planted.

Ecosia have also built a solar power generation facility so that it can run its servers on clean, eco-friendly, energy.

Ecosia buys search results in from Bing and tweaks them with their own, unique, algorithms.


Google – Founded 1996

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Founded in 1996 Google is the search engine of choice for millions around the world and has over 86% of the search engine market globally. As well as powering Google itself, the company also provides search results to a range of smaller search engines, such as ASK

Google has tremendous computing power but it comes at a cost to the environment.

Huge data centres dotted around the world use huge amounts of electricity and although Google is working hard to mitigate their environmental impact a lot of CO2 is generated by every single search.

Search-Wise – First Seen 2005

EastEnders viewers left confused over Dot Cotton's hilarious X-rated  technical gaffe | TV & Radio | Showbiz & TV | Express.co.uk

If you watch a lot of TV, particularly Dr Who and EastEnders, when actors are using a search engine they’ll use Search-Wise to carry out their internet searches.

Search-Wise is actually non-existent. It has a “home” page that has been mocked up and that’s all you ever see – there’s no technology behind it. Search-Wise is a digital prop, that’s all.

Start Page – Founded 1998

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StartPage may just be the perfect search engine. It was launched in 1998 and is based in the Netherlands.

What makes it the almost perfect search engine is that, like others in this list, it buys in its results from elsewhere. StartPage actually buy their results from Google but StartPage’s USP is that it doesn’t track you, doesn’t pass your IP address to Google and doesn’t use trackers to gather data about you.

This means that you get the benefits of access to all of Google’s search nous but none of the privacy threatening downsides. See what I mean when I said that StartPage might just be the perfect search engine

Yahoo – Founded 1994

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Once upon a time, Yahoo was the Number One search engine and was a mighty company. How things change. Yahoo now buys results from Bing and has about 3% of the global search market. Although a small percentage, that 3% translates in to 1 billion users, 600m of whom use Yahoo on their phones and tablets.

In a cross business deal, Microsoft makes use of Yahoo’s Ad engine to provide Pay per Click advertising.

Yandex – Founded 1997

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Yandex is a Russian search engine, Yandex standing for Yet Another iNDEXer and the domain Yandex.ru was launched in 1997. Yandex is where you need to be if you are targeting Russia for business.

Yandex is also popular in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Belarus. It’s available in both English and Cyrillic.

In 2011 Yandex went public on the New York Stock Exchange and the search engine currently powers 42.35% of Russian searches

What can you learn from this

The reality is that no single search engine covers 100% of the World Wide Web although Google probably has the most comprehensive index. However, it’s a trade off between depth of coverage and the value you place on your privacy.

What I can say, though, is that if you are looking at targeting China or Russia you really need to focus your efforts on the search engines that cover these territories, Yandex and Baidu, for maximum visibility

Pie Chart of Search Engine Market Share, Globally and UK

If you need help with making your website more visible in the search results, increase visits to your website AND increase your profits then all you have to do is get in touch.

Call me on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk. We can even schedule an introductory, FREE, 40 min call over Zoom, or Teams or any other platform.

Boing, Boing, Boing. What’s the Bounce Rate?

I’ve been a fan of Google’s web metrics tool (Google Analytics) since it was introduced in 2005. For most businesses, it’s free to use. The necessary tracking code is easy to add to your website and provides a wealth of information about your site’s performance but the Bounce Rate is one of the most powerful metrics, a powerful insight into the minds of the people who are visiting your website.

And yet all the Bounce Rate does is record the percentage of people who visit your website but leave almost straight away without doing anything more than viewing the page they landed on.

With 15 year’s experience, my view of the Bounce Rate is as follows

0-20% – Phenomenal. In 15 years I think I’ve only come across 4-5 sites with a Bounce Rate in this area and one of those was only because the site hadn’t installed Google Analytics correctly.

21-50% – Most of the sites that I work with fall into this region. One where between 1 in 5 and 1 in 2 visitors leave the site without doing anything

+51% – Any website with a Bounce Rate of 51% and higher really needs the reasons investigating. These sites are hemorrhaging visitors and, more importantly, opportunities but HOW do you go about analysing a high Bounce Rate and turning things around.

Remember, a 51% Bounce Rate (BR) means that over half of the people that you have persuaded to visit your website, whether that’s by SEO, Google Ads, Social Media (And Social Media advertising), e-mail and video marketing or simply word of mouth are just leaving without doing anything meaningful. If your website were a shop, they’d be sticking their head through the door, shrugging their shoulders and moving on. As a consequence, this has to be worth investigating. After all, if you invest in more marketing, all that’s going to continue to happen is that over half of those you attract will just do as the 51%+ have done before – and leave.

Working to reduce the Bounce Rate. Where do you start?

First, ensure that you have a really good understanding of your website because if you don’t know what you want your website to do for your business how do you know whether it’s doing it – or not.

What are the goals of your website? Here are some common ones.

  • To sell something
  • To attract newsletter subscriptions
  • To encourage inquiries
  • To allow people to download something

If your website has a high Bounce Rate where do you start looking? There are many ways to approach this, but I always like to start by taking a look at the website itself. What message is it sending to visitors?

Let’s say, for example, that you sell widgets and those widgets are used to attach the engines to an airliner.

Having a large photo of an airliner at the top of your home page probably looks good to you. And, because you know that your widgets play an important part then it sends a message – to you, and you alone. To everybody else all it actually says is “here’s a pretty picture of an airliner”. Questions that could come into the visitor’s mind might be “is this a travel company?” “do they make the whole airliner” – not – “aha, these are the guys that make the widgets that hold this airliner’s engines on”.

Remember, although you may have 3 seconds to get your webpage open in front of your visitor that’s an eternity compared to the 2/10ths of a second that a visitor takes to “get” your website……..or not!

Once happy with the website the next place that I’d look would be at marketing activity. Are the messages being broadcast by the marketing actually delivered by your website? For example, it’s no good talking a two-for-the-price-of-one offer if there’s no mention of it on your website, or if the offer is difficult to find. Visitors won’t look around – they’ll leave (bounce) and may never come back

Now that the marketing messages align with your website, and your website is as good as it can be, it’s time to dive into the data provided by Google Analytics.

Using Google Analytics to troubleshoot the Bounce Rate

The first place I look is the source of your web visitors.

Google Analytics/Acquisition/All traffic/Source/Medium will answer this one

Website traffic Sources in Google Analytics
Website Traffic Sources in Google Analytics

Traffic Sources Key

Any entry that’s tagged “/referral” is where a visitor to your site has followed a link published on a 3rd party website. This could be an indicator as to how your online marketing is performing

  1. CPC = Google Ads
  2. Google Organic = Google Free Search Results
  3. Direct = Either Google can’t identify the source or people have entered the URL directly in their browser
  4. Bing Organic = Traffic from Bing (Microsoft search)
  5. UK Search Yahoo Organic = Traffic from Yahoo UK
  6. Yahoo Organic= Traffic from Yahoo
  7. m.Facebook = Traffic from Facebook on a phone or tablet
  8. Google.com = Traffic from Google.com
  9. Traffic from a third party website
  10. Traffic from a third party website

For this particular website, you’ll see that the Bounce Rate is very high for the majority of traffic sources and particularly high for visitors from Google Ads. With the majority of sources having a high Bounce Rate it would appear that the problem either lies with the marketing that is attracting the wrong people to the site, the website is failing to meet expectations or the problem lies elsewhere.

Bearing in mind that one of the earlier exercises was to ensure that marketing was sending the right message it’s obvious that, for this website, the problem with the Bounce Rate lies somewhere else

Geographical Source of traffic

Navigate to Audience/Geo/Location in Analytics

Scroll down past the map to see the countries where the traffic is coming from. You’ll see the Bounce rate for each source country. If you are targeting the UK and your UK Bounce Rate is OK then the next step is to try to understand how your marketing is promoting your traffic outside of the UK.

It’s possible that your website is attracting visitors from markets that you don’t serve. I have seen a number of sites that have attracted a lot of visits from the USA. When American visitors have landed it becomes immediately obvious that the website can’t address their needs so they leave immediately (Bounce).

The reality is that there is probably very little that you can do about this but it’ll be a relief to see that the Bounce Rate for your target locations is OK.

For this site, the Bounce Rate is high for all countries so the answer doesn’t lie here and the hunt continues

Visitor Demographics

Navigate to Audience/Demographics/Age in Google Analytics

Although Google can’t identify all visitors to your website it’s still worth checking the visitor demographics. You can check that your website is reaching the age groups that your business is targeting.

Again, for the website being used in this blog, the Bounce Rate is high across the board so the answer lies elsewhere.

Navigate to Audience/Demographics/Gender in Google Analytics

Some companies target specific genders and this enables you to make sure that your visitors are coming from your target demographic. Once again, with a high Bounce Rate for both genders, the answer isn’t here. The hunt continues.

Web Browser Issues

Navigate to Audience/Technology/Browser & OS in Google Analytics

Web browsers are complicated pieces of software and it’s not unusual for websites to hit problems with some browsers and not others. This screen looks at the browsers used by visitors to your website and the Bounce Rate per browser. If a particular browser has a high Bounce Rate, but only delivers 5% of visitors (or fewer), it’s not worth paying too much attention. The cost to investigate, and resolve, the problem probably outweighs the benefits

This website is performing poorly in all browsers so the problem isn’t here either and the hunt continues.

Mobile Issues

Navigate to Audience/Mobile/Overview in Google Analytics

We are all used to accessing the web on our phones, but how well does your website work on small screens. It’s possible that this is the cause of the high Bounce Rate.

Now we’re getting somewhere. Desktop visits have a Bounce Rate in the comfort zone (44.50%) whilst phones and tablets are well above 50%.

Take a detailed look at your website, using your phone. Try to act as a customer and see whether you can spot any problems. Is the site slow? Is the navigation poor? Is excessive scrolling required?

Ask friends, colleagues, family to do the same, and feedback their findings and thoughts.

Next, take it up with your web developer.

Site Speed

Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Overview in Google Analytics

I think we have gotten to the nub of the problem. This is a slow website. Although the server is quite slow to respond (0.36 seconds) the technical elements (screenshot above) taken to find the website and start to open it on a device are still under 1 second so the problem lies with the content of the website itself.

Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Page Timings in Google Analytics

Google Analytics page speed performance chart
Page Speed Report – blurred to protect the company

This page looks at the performance of every page of your website and details the speed of each page as a + or – when compared to the site average. It helps to identify poor performing pages.

Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Speed Suggestions in Google Analytics and Google will provide information and recommendations as to the actions you should take to improve the speed of your website. This might be a list that you take up with your web developer

Another way to identify issues is to put your website URL into https://www.webpagetest.org . This site runs a speed test three times and then displays the results as a waterfall graph, highlighting the speed of each element of a website, enabling you to identify problem areas.

A web page speed test waterfall chart
A web page speed test waterfall chart

Summary

So, there you have it, a detailed look into the Bounce Rate, and the ways that you can use Google Analytics to identify issues so that you can take corrective action.

Thanks for reading and you need more help with your website’s Bounce Rate or anything else to do with your web marketing all you have to do is get in touch. I’ll be only too happy to answer any questions that you might have.

And Finally

Don’t forget that you can book a FREE 40 minute consultation with me.

Find me: https://seo.enterprise-oms.uk/  |  andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk
Follow Me: Twitter ¦ Linkedin
Phone Me: 01793 238020 ¦ 07966 547146

Google Ads, Vs Facebook Ads Vs LinkedIn Ads – which one would you choose

Google Ads, Facebook Ads and Linkedin Ads

Advertising of the Pay per Click (PPC) type has been with us for a while now. Yahoo was one of the first to offer it, quickly followed by Google and Google is now probably the most well-known provider with its Google Ads product (formerly known as Adwords).

You can read more about PPC on my website but here’s a quick overview.

How does Pay-per-Click work?

The overview is pretty simple.

A typical Google Ad with a headline and a couple of lines of description
A typical Google Ad with a headline and a couple of lines of description

  • You (the advertiser) design an Ad to fit the constraints of your chosen platform.
  • You agree to pay the host platform, whether Google, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. a certain amount of money every time your Ad is clicked on. This is your bid.
  • You pay (an agreed) fee per click (every time someone clicks on your Ad). Because of the way that the bidding works, this is unlikely to be the full amount of the amount that you have bid

The amount that you have to bid is in your hands, the amount that you have to bid varies depending on whether you want to be at the top of the first page, the bottom of the first page, or elsewhere in Google search. Other variables that impact the cost you’ll have to pay include the number of companies competing with you AND the amount of profit in a particular sale. The more profit there is, the more you can afford to pay per click

I’ve worked on campaigns where we’ve paid a few pence per click and on others where the clicks have cost many pounds

The top three PPC platforms are Google, Facebook, and Linkedin, but which is the best?

They all work in pretty much the same way. You decide how much you are willing to pay every time someone clicks on your Ad and you set a maximum daily/monthly budget so that you have total control over costs.

There are no minimum campaign lengths and no minimum spends. Allied to the ability to start, pause, and stop your campaigns whenever you want/need to, your budget is totally under your control.

Where should I spend my advertising pounds, which is the best?

The reality is that there isn’t a “best” platform per se, the best is the one that most effectively reaches your target market.

If you are a Business to Business (B2B) supplier then Linkedin will be worth considering and if you are in the Business to Consumer (B2C) sector then Facebook would probably be your platform of choice

However, if you have a limited budget then the most effective option is probably Google Ads – and a quick look at the numbers demonstrates why

In 2019 93% of the UK had access to the internet. With an adult population of 52.5 million, this equates to a total internet reach of 48.82 million people.

Facebook has 32m active users in the UK and LinkedIn 27m. These are fantastic numbers. And you get to choose who your Ads are shown to. You can choose from a wide range of demographics to ensure that your Ads are properly targetted.

  • where they live/work geographically
  • their interests (Facebook)
  • the ages you want to target
  • the genders you want to target
  • job descriptions (LinkedIn)
  • job titles
  • and more

However, there is no way of knowing who in your targeted audience is actually looking for the things you sell or the services you deliver but you are only paying when someone clicks on your Ad – so that’s OK then, isn’t it?

Are you Missing out?

As we have seen, the Social Media reach of Linkedin and Facebook is fantastic, as are the advertising controls, ensuring that your Ads are only displayed to those in your target demographic groups. But you ARE missing out.

Google is used by around 95% of the UK’s internet users, so that’s around 47m people, 15m more (nearly 50% more ) than Facebook and 20m (74%) more than LinkedIn,

And your Ad is only shown by people who are searching for the things you sell or the services you deliver.

Which makes Google Ads, in my opinion, the best place to spend your advertising money.

You might say that I am biassed but I actually manage campaigns across all 3 platforms and the results demonstrate that Google does provide a better return, provided your campaigns are properly managed.

Burning cash
Burning Cash

And that’s the crux of the matter. Without effective management, you may as well simply send Google a cheque every month or just burn your cash because your campaign will just not work

With attention and careful management, however, you should be able to make a Google Ads campaign deliver a plentiful supply of new customers to your website.

But your website MUST be good at converting these new opportunities into leads, inquiries, opportunities, and sales.

Thanks for reading and remember, if you have any questions about PPC, need help with your PPC campaign or want help launching and managing one all you have to do is get in touch. I’ll be only too happy to answer any questions that you might have

Find me:         https://seo.enterprise-oms.uk/  |  andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk
Follow me:     Twitter ¦ Linkedin
Phone me:      01793 238020 ¦ 07966 547146

Black Hat SEO – Keyword Stuffing

Black Hat SEO spelled out with Scrabble letters

When I started SEO in 2001 things were a lot simpler than they are now. Back then it was all about keywords. Keywords in the Keyword Meta Tag, keywords in the Meta Title and Meta Description tags and Keywords liberally scattered throughout the content.

Obviously people came up with ways to “game” the system, to effectively cheat the search engines into giving them a better result than they were probably due and Keyword Stuffing was one of the first.

Keyword Stuffing – Level 1, repetition

Based on the knowledge that the search engines looked at the number of times a keyword was featured on a web page, keyword stuffing became the thing to do. This simply involved the multiple repetitions of keywords at the bottom of the content. The problem with this was that it looked ugly.

An example of keyword stuffing
An example of keyword stuffing

Keyword Stuffing – Level 2, invisible stuffing

Level two in Keyword Stuffing was to set the font to the same colour as the background, making the stuffing invisible but leaving a great deal of apparently empty space at the bottom of each page. However, you could highlight the text with your mouse, if you were so inclined

Keyword Stuffing – Level 3, nearly invisible stuffing

Now, the search engines realised they were being gamed so if you were caught using fonts in the same colour as your page background, your site would be penalised. The SEO folk adapted to this by making the font a very similar colour to the background……a visitor would still not see the text but because it wasn’t the same colour the search engines were happy – for a very short time. And they changed the rules so if your keywords were in an identical OR very similar colour to the background you’d be penalised.

Keyword Stuffing – Level 4, totally invisible stuffing

And the SEO folk learned from this changed the font size back to a contrasting colour and then set the font size to 0. So, the keywords were there, they were in a colour that stood out from the page background but the typical visitor to the page wouldn’t see them, they took up minimal space and all was good in the world of SEO

Until the search engines cottoned on again and amended their rules to penalise websites that used keywords in the same (or similar colour) as the background AND/OR had the font size set to zero

The above techniques to game the system (a polite way of saying cheating) became known as Black Hat SEO and it’s something that I avoided simply because I didn’t want client sites to be penalised.

Since those early cowboy days of SEO, many things have changed. The profession has cleaned up its game (although Black Hat SEO still exists if you want to cheat the system and eventually get kicked out of the Search Engine Results Pages – SERPs) and the search engines regularly update their algorithms – the software that decided where a website deserves to sit in the Results pages.

If you want any help with your digital marketing please don’t hesitate to get in touch for an informal chat by email (andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk) by phone (01793 238020) or ask me on Social Media – Linkedin or Twitter and I’ll be only too happy to talk. Thanks for reading and I hope you stay well

14 SEO Myths that could ruin your chances with Google

Myths about SEO

I started providing SEO services in 2001 and things were a lot simpler than they are now. Back then it was all about keywords. Keywords in the keyword Meta Tag, keywords in the Meta Title Tag and Meta Description Tags and keywords liberally scattered throughout the content.

People came up with ways to “game” the system, to effectively cheat the search engines into giving them a better result than they were probably due. Cheating search engines in this way became known as “Black Hat” or “unethical” SEO and if you’d like to learn about one of these Black Hat techniques you should read my post on Keyword Stuffing.

Since those early cowboy days of SEO, many things have changed. The profession has cleaned up its game (although Black Hat SEO still exists if you want to cheat the system and eventually get kicked out of the Search Engine Results Pages – SERPs) and the search engines regularly update their algorithms – the software that decided where a website deserves to sit in the Results pages – to make sure that Black Hat SEO techniques don’t dominate results.

As things have changed, the number of SEO myths has grown and these are the ones that I most frequently encounter

SEO Myth 1 – It’s no longer about keywords

This has been around for a while now. Not only does Google examine more than 200 “signals” when ranking websites it frequently tweaks theses “signals” to ensure that you and I get the most relevant results for our searches. Every time something changes, a crowd of people claims that “Keywords are dead” or “SEO is dead”. Well, I’m here to tell you keywords are NOT dead and neither is SEO.

In fact, keywords are the fundamental rock on which all SEO is based. There’s no magic or mystery about them, they are simply the words you and I enter into our web browser when searching for something and so it’s critical that these words and phrases are embedded in your website, in the places the search engines look. This enables Google, Bing, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go, etc to match searches to relevant websites

SEO Myth 2 – it’s ALL about keyword density

If you carry out a web search for “Keyword Density” you’ll find a number of sites telling you that the ideal keyword density is between 4 and 5%. This means that for every 100 words on your web pages, 4-5 of them should be keywords.

Please don’t pay ANY attention to this. If you do, you’ll fall foul of one of the cardinal rules of web development, that your website is for the visitors to your site and search engines are simply a tool to deliver those clients and prospects to your site.

If you focus on keyword density, and other SEO focused metrics, you’ll have switched content focus from creating great content for site visitors to creating content for the search engines and your content will suffer. I have worked with many sites that have fallen down this particular rabbit hole. Their site has ranked really well in the search results, the search results have delivered many visits but those visitors have left the site very quickly (Bounced in Google Analytics terms) because the content wasn’t focused on their needs.

SEO Myth 3 – it’s all about buying backlinks

Back-links, hyperlinks published on third party websites that bring people to your website are the foundations on which Google was built. Originally called “BackRub”, Google originally ONLY ranked sites based on the volume of backlinks. The thinking was pretty simple. If I link from my site to yours then I must believe that something on your site will be of interest/value to visitors to my site and, like any good democracy, the more votes (backlinks) your website has, the more popular and better it must be.

When Google was launched, backlinks remained a fundamental way that it ranked websites (and it remains so today). As a consequence, a whole industry built up around providing backlinks, including “Link Farms”. Web pages that just looked like phone directories, with each page simply featuring hundreds of links to websites. In the early days, this was quite successful and you could buy thousands of links for a few hundred dollars.

That was until Google realised that quality was far more important than quantity and started analysing where the backlinks originated. From then on, purchased backlinks became a major no-no. Backlinks MUST be relevant, so a link from your local butchers to a website providing marketing services is not relevant, for example.

For the butcher’s example above, it’s not likely to attract a direct penalty but will probably just be ignored by Google so the effort expended on acquiring that link will have been wasted.

If you take it to the next level and start purchasing links, Google WILL find out and your website will be penalised by being pushed DOWN in the results pages. This could be critical, with only 50% of search engine users ever going beyond the first page of results and just 10% making it to page 3 and beyond, a demotion to page 5 is almost as bad as being deleted.

Myth 4 – posting the same content on many different sites will boost your ranking

“Back in the day” it was common for a blog article to be posted on a number of websites that claimed to be regularly visited by journalists, and so promised a lot of “eyes on” fresh articles. The publisher’s dream was that they’d be contacted by journalists for more information. The goal being to be mentioned in an article that gets published by the national, mainstream, media amplifying the visibility of the business. The reality was that no journalists visited these sites and the actual goal was to simply build backlinks.

As Google improved its technology it recognised these for what they were, backlink building opportunities, and woe betide your website if you had had the temerity to pay to have your post published.

From here, another myth developed, that multiple placements of identical content will be penalised. Myth 14 explains this one in more details

Myth 5 – You have to write at least 1,200 words on every page for optimum SEO

If you read enough posts about SEO you will ultimately come across one that talks about the number of words contained on pages that come up in Position 1 on Page 1 of Google’s search results pages. (The holy grail of SEO if you like).

Typically they’ll tell you that top pages contain 1,200, 1,600, or even 2,000 words. That’s a LOT of writing, but don’t despair. You don’t have to write so many, or you can write many more. The reality is that there is no magic “ideal” word count that will get you on the first page of the search results. It’s much more about relevance and quality.

Look at it this way. If I tell you, or you read, that your page has to contain 1,200 words, you’re going to write 1,200 words no matter what. And if you only need 600 then your page is going to be so full of padding and filler that even were your page to feature highly in the search results and attract loads of visits, no one is going to read it.

And at the other end of the scale, if you actually need 3,000 words to get your message across and you’ve heard that the ideal page is 1,200 you’re going to edit the heck out of your content and you’ll probably remove most of the value. So, again, even if your page features highly in the results and you get loads of visits, most won’t stay because the content doesn’t make a great read.

What’s the solution?
The simple solution is to write as many (or as few) words as you need to communicate your message and sell your idea. My only caveat, if you have to write a lot of words you either need to be a very good and persuasive writer OR hire a copywriter to do the work for you.

Myth 6 – SEO is dead

At least once a year someone pontificates that “SEO is dead” and I worry about my future. Then I relax and realise that SEO has quite a few years to go yet. it’s a long way from being an Ex-SEO, left this mortal coil, kicking up the daisies and every other quote from Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch.

Work is required, and will always be required, to ensure that your website is as #SEOFriendly as possible so that it appears as high in the search listings as possible and drives sufficient traffic to your website

Headstone with the words "RIP SEO"

Myth 7 – It’s all about Social Media these days

It’s really easy to believe, that with over 2.3Bn active users, Facebook has removed the need for a website and so SEO is no longer required.

If you follow this path, you’ll be missing out. In the UK about 32m people use Facebook. With about 90% of the UK population using the internet, ( that’s about 58.5m people) you’ll be missing 26.5m people.

And that’s just the people who don’t use Facebook Lots of Facebook users (about 70%) still turn to search engines when looking for the things they want or need. So, it’s not all about Social Media, if you just do Social, then you are missing a huge audience.

Myth 8 – Pictures don’t do anything to help your SEO

Although the search engines are slowly rolling out Artificial Intelligence to help then understand the content of a picture, your images contribute greatly to the optimisation of a web page.

However, you need to optimise your pictures properly. The file size has to be small enough so as not to slow your pages down, need to have SEO optimised image names, AND have optimised Alt Tags. Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll receive my free e-Guide to image optimisation.

#UseMorePictures

Myth 9 – SEO is a secret magic masked by smoke and mirrors

When SEO was growing in awareness, a lot of people delivering the service hid their actions behind smoke and mirrors, making it appear as if it was something mystical, something that could only be implemented by members of some deeply secret inner circle.

I think the main reason for this was to mask their techniques (some of which may have been gaming the system for quick results but which would lead to penalties being applied) AND so that these cowboys could charge more for their services.

The reality is that EVERYTHING you need to know is “out there” on the internet if you know where to look and who to trust. But do you want to spend time learning about SEO, sorting the wheat from the chaff and then learning how to implement it on your website AND keep it up to date or would you rather bring in someone who knows what they are doing, leaving you to do what you’re good at? Running your business, converting leads into sales, and making a profit?

Myth 10 – It’s not a problem if your website is slow to load

It’s a HUGE problem if your website is slow to load. 3 seconds is the goal – why?

The internet has robbed people of their attention span. Most people simply won’t wait any more than 3 seconds for a web page to open. If it’s slow, they’ll simply go elsewhere.

And it’s worse than that. You have about 2/10s of a second for people to “Get” what your site offers and if they don’t “get” it almost straight away, they will head off elsewhere.

Because of this, Google will push slow sites down the results pages. After all, thee’s no point sending people to a website if all they are going to do is come back to their search results to go somewhere else.

A slow website is one of the reasons behind a high Bounce Rate in Google Analytics

Myth 11 – You Must have perfect SEO to rank on Page 1

With Google examining more than 200 “signals” to determine where your site comes up in the search results pages, and the majority of those being known ONLY by Google thee is no way that your SEO can ever be perfect.

And you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be better than your competitors. That’s why I’ll look at your competitors if I am working on your SEO to see what can be done to beat them.

And if you strive for perfection, you might never get anything completed. remember, perfection is the enemy of good

Joke
2 men in the forest were faced by a huge bear charging towards them. One gulps and says to the other “we can’t outrun this bear” and the other one says. “I know, but all I have to do is run faster than you……byeeeee”

Myth 12 – Running a Google Ads campaign will boost your SEO

Google Ads and Google Search are two totally separate parts of Google and there is NO interlinking at all so running a large (or small) Google Ads campaign is NOT going to improve your SEO.

It will, however, give you a quick opportunity to get your business to the top if the first page of search results (In the Ads section) if you need quick traffic to your website

Myth 13 – SEO is a one time thing

No, no, and thrice no. SEO is constantly changing and you (or your search optimiser) should constantly be looking for ways to improve your SEO. After all, if you started out and were better than your competitors (See Myth 11) and they improve their SEO, they will outrank you so you need to stay on top of things.

Myth 14 – Google will penalise your site for duplicate content

Myth 4 looked at the posting of content on a variety of websites with the aim of building backlinks to your website.

From this came conversations that if Google caught you doing this then they would penalise your website. This simply isn’t true. However, a very real danger of having multiple copies of the same thing is that it will dilute your search results because Google won’t know which is the most important page.

So, examine your content, and if you have more than one copy of the same thing then you need to let Google know which is the most important and the Canonical tag is the way to do this.

A canonical tag (aka “rel canonical”) is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs

Thanks for reading and remember, if you have any problems with your SEO please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ll be only too happy to answer any questions that you might have

Find me:         https://seo.enterprise-oms.uk/  |  andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk
Follow me:     Twitter ¦ Linkedin
Phone me:      01793 238020 ¦ 07966 547146

Another Google Update

Google my Business

Last week there was a lot of talk across the SEO network about changes to results for Google Maps/Places/Google MyBusiness.

Some businesses seem to have suffered massively impacted by the changes. 

The way that it works is that a business sets up their GMB account and lets Google know of the areas that they service and so, when a Google user searches for a local business, Google looks at where the person in searching from and displays businesses based on those that are located in an (approx) 10 mile radius of the searcher although competitors up to 60 miles away might be shown.

This latest update now seems to have reduced the radius to just 5 miles with competitor activity limited to 17 miles.

There appears to have been some “bounce”, some businesses dropped out totally but a number then subsequently recovered as Google tweaked the algorithm although the tweaks now seem to have ended so where you are is where you will remain.

It would appear that the number and quality of reviews are not having an impact and the update affects all business sectors.

What can you do?

Not a great deal. Just make sure that your GMB profile is as complete as possible and make regular posts/updates and if you are unhappy about the outcome you can complain to Google using their “Business Redressal Complaint Form

And if you want to discuss this, or any other SEO/Google Ads, issues please don’t hesitate to give me a call on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or make contact via Twitter or Linkedin

How Google’s BERT help catch a cow fishing

Google logo

I know, I know, you can’t really catch a cow when you go fishing, can you? Well, you can when you realise that a cow is actually another name for a large, striped, saltwater game fish.

And BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) is a major update to the Google search algorithm that has nothing to do with Transformers films or toys.

What does BERT do?

Google has been consistently trying to understand the context of the words used in Google searches. In the early days of Google they just searched on the words used in the query without attempting to understand the context. So, if you wanted to go on holiday to Majorca and wanted a hotel with a swimming pool you might search using “Hotel Majorca Swimming Pool” for example.

However, your results might include the Hotel Majorca on Swimming Pool Road in Lowestoft or a hotel on Majorca Avenue in Andover or other results based on any combination of the words without understanding the real nature of your search.

Next up came semantic search which was Google’s first attempt to understand context of searches but my experience was that it wasn’t really that much of an improvement on what went before.

And this is where BERT comes in, BERT is a “deep learning algorithm that is related to natural language processing” and it helps a machine to actually understand what the words in a sentence mean, and can take in to account all of the nuances that are included in human speech.

Roger Monti of the Search Engine Journal was looking for a search phrase that he could use to demonstrate how context was interpreted and settled on “how to catch a cow fishing”.

Before BERT, Google returned a lot of results based on livestock and cows in particular. However, following the BERT roll out Google used “fishing” to understand the context and the same search ,conducted by Roger, at the end of October was full of striped bass and fishing related results.

A striped bass being held by a fisherman
A Striped Bass

Do I have to do anything on my website?

Not really. You just need to make sure that you continue to deliver quality, focused content and continue to use synonyms where relevant and appropriate.

BERT is currently rolling out globally and so may not have reached a Google Server near you, yet,

If you DO need some help with your website, search engine optimisation and/or your social media and email marketing you can always get in touch for a chat – 01793 238020 or andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

What to do when launching your new website

It’s a scenario I come across almost every month, a website gets relaunched after a major rebuild, perhaps the migration from an old site to something that’s (finally) mobile friendly or that’s the result of a corporate rebranding or a migration to e-Commerce or, or……well, you get the picture.

Then the problems start. Google Analytics starts reporting high Bounce Rates, the site falls down in the search engine results and visitor numbers start falling.

So, what’s happened?

Unless your relaunch is carefully planned, there’s a lot that can go wrong but one huge problem is Google. Your old site might have built a lot of respect with Google that hopefully translated in to great results when people were looking for you. However, if you just launch a fresh new site it’s highly likely that all of that respect is lost.

Not only that, but your old pages will keep popping up in search results, people might have added your old site to their favourites and when they visit – they are met with a 404 (page not found) error

404 Error

What you need to do

And yet, it’s so easy to prevent this. Before you press “go” to launch your new site you need to create a list of all of the pages on your existing site.

Next thing to do is to remove all of your previous site from the internet (or just make it inaccessible). You can do this by deleting your web files or simply by copying them to a new folder. Keeping a copy is essential, just in case anything goes wrong with your new site you can always revert back to your old one provided you have a copy of it but you need to take it off line to avoid any confusion.

Next thing you do is to map your old pages to new. So, for example, mywebsite.co.uk/about on the old site should be mapped to mywebsite.co.uk/about-EOMS on the new site. I use a spreadsheet with two columns to make this process easy to manage.

Then you ask your web developer to put “301 Redirects” in place that map the old pages to the new. What now happens is any visit to one of your old pages will automatically transfer the visitor to the relevant new page.

Not only that, but a 301 redirect also carries forward a fair percentage of that Google respect I mentioned earlier,

If you need some help with the relaunch of your new website, need a new website, need help with your SEO or anything else to do with your online marketing then don’t hesitate to drop me an email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call 01793 238020