All good things must come to an end and so does this 3 part series we call, The Complete Customer Acquisition Guide for Cash Strapped Start ups and Small Businesses.
This three part series has only one purpose, to teach you how to drive traffic! Just because you built it, doesn’t mean they will come! So roll up your sleeves and get ready to do some good old fashioned hard work!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web Marketing Wizardry
This instalment is kind of a Hogwarts School crash course for start-ups and any business that hasn’t had their site tricked out by an SEO and Web Marketing wizard. And it can be used as a brief to hand to the wizard to let them know you’ve done your homework and you know what you want!
So we were able to track down veteran cyber warrior Hayden Bond to update our consciousness on SEO and Web marketing.
The following is Bond’s up-to the now report, with only a bit of necessary editing to make talking readable where necessary—here we go!:
I think a lot of people are stuck with this misconception that SEO is about number “1” ranking and that you’re going to see traffic coming to your site from your ranking on Google or referral traffic from other sites, but it doesn’t work that way any more.
That was back in ‘90s and maybe up to 2012, when you could manipulate search results and acquire all these customers, and do that by various technical means or spamming Google’s index, to make it seem like your site is a higher authority, but that’s no longer the case.
Now Google has been penalizing companies and businesses trying to manipulate their site rankings via links, spamming links—that was the Google Penguin Update. So if you’re just seeking out authorities’ sites and putting text links on there, and it used to work really well, now Google is saying, for example, if you’re a surf board company based in Santa Cruz, California, why is someone from Australia with a very high authority web site ranking on Google linking back to your web site in California with a key word that they are trying to rank for? The only reason that link is there is because the company in California purchased it and manipulated the system to give itself a higher authority.
[Note: Just to make sure everybody knows what the Google Penguin Updates are, before April 2012, most search engines used keyword density as a major factor to determine the relevance of a website and how well it should rank in its search results. If you wanted your site to rank for the keyword “red dress,” for example, you just place more instances of “red dress” on your page. So you can see how search results were not very hard to manipulate.
Also, the more links on other websites linking to your site, the more authoritative your site appears to be, which also affects search results ranking. The higher the authority of a site linking to yours the better. For example, think how much better your link on today’s super-popular site Red Dress Boutique is than a link on your local mom ‘n pop thrift store’s site.
It was easy for SEO experts to figure out how to get your site ranked on the first page of a Google search. The problem was, while your site might have ranked high in a search result, your site might have been useless for the person who had conducted the search. As in our example above, if you live in Perth, Australia, and you’re looking for a surf board shop, a link to a shop in California isn’t going to help you.
So this is the gist of Google’s Penguin Updates, and you can see how it’s a helpful thing for people searching for something to actually find it instead of being misled by a plethora of spam links.
Back to Mr. Bond . . .
How Google determines what a spam link is and what a relevant link is, is best explained by how Google’s “dwell time” metric works. Google measures how much time passes after you click on a link. If the page you access isn’t relevant to your search or isn’t interesting to you, you might stay there for a second or two. So Google determines that that link isn’t relevant, it’s just a spam link, and it gets red flagged. If there’s a lot of these short “dwell time” links referring to your site, Google will suspect that the site has spammed or bought the links, and penalize the site.
Then there’s the Google Panda Update, which applies to thin content. “Thin content” means, for example, if you are a bicycle shop, of course you sell red, white, and blue Schwinns—but in order to manipulate it you create a page on your site around the key word “red Schwinn bicycle.” But that’s of no use to the user. Of course that page may rank high in search engines for a red Schwinn bicycle, but what does that content on that page have to do with anything other than just finding creative ways to repeat that over and over and over again?
Google No Longer a Search Engine?
Another SEO misconception is people think that Facebook likes or Twitter posts correlate to a higher ranking on Google—but what they don’t understand is that in this day and age Google is no longer really a search engine in the original sense.
Because when you’re searching you’re essentially asking a question. And with the proliferation of mobile devices, your search and the information you’re giving—the search engine is now contextually aware, it’s now location-aware, and it’s historically aware.
If you’re sitting in your living room and you type in “pizza delivery,” the search engine’s probably going to know if you prefer Two Guys From Italy over Dominos, it’s going to know that you’re at home, and it’s going to serve you a link to that location, based on your history and your preference of ordering pizza.
If you’re in another city and you do that same query, Google’s going to know that you’re visiting that city, and it’s probably going to give you map results, and might even give you the place that has best reviews for thin crust pizza if that’s your historical preference—and with driving directions.
So now Google’s not just saying, here’s a page, figure it out, they’re trying to give you that complete answer. So your search is not necessarily about the ranking of a site that’s relevant to your search terms, it’s trying to give you the most specific answer to what it sees as a question—where is the best pizza for you based on your location, ordering history, and preference? It’s based on your profile and what it interprets is the intent of your query.
Another example is, if you enter the term “mountain bikes,” that’s probably your first “footprint” to do with mountain bikes, it’s general, so you’re in the research phase, and Google won’t know what brand you want, but it’s considering what your next steps will be. They’re looking at a metric called “dwell time.” You type in “mountain bikes,” which is your query, Google serves up a bunch of search results, you click on a result and when you visit a page, the longer you are on that page—that’s your “dwell time”—the longer you’re on that page the more relevant the content is to your query.
But if you just want to know the temperature in Mesa, Arizona, Google serves up search results, you click on one, see the temperature and you click off of the page right away—that’s a different metric.
Other examples lead in the opposite direction. If you type in “Who is Neil Young?,” the search results are going to include Wikipedia, other biographical sites, Neil Young’s web site, rock music sites—a lot of general stuff.
Or if your wife likes to shop on-line only at Nordstrom’s, when you search for “hand bag,” “watch,” etc., Nordstrom’s is going to rank highest in the search results based on the person’s shopping history or preference—even if Amazon or Macy’s would universally rank higher, because of your historical shopping preference.
They’ve Got You Covered
Even if you don’t realize it, you’ve got a mobile device that’s being passed, you’ve got an IP address being passed, so even though you’re blocking cookies or you’re “Private” surfing on Safari, Big Data has gotten so good that just by providing your zip code they can pretty much guess who you are.
Just recently there was a story in the news about a guy who was shopping at Target, and he gets something in the mail from Target for baby clothes, and it was addressed to his 16-year-old daughter. So he’s very upset and he goes into Target and asks them what’s going on, what’re they doing sending that to his daughter? Then he finds out his daughter is pregnant, and based on her recent purchases at Target they started sending her targeted mailers.
Every time you’re swiping a credit card you’re leaving a footprint—and especially with mobile devices it’s your location—they know exactly where you are to send you advertisements.
So that’s what SEO is now.
Don’t Let Your Customers Get Lost . . .
Let’s say you’re selling pressure washers for cleaning vinyl siding, and you’re based in the Midwest. Your key words aren’t going to be just “pressure washers” and “vinyl siding.” What type of people are you selling these to? People who are going to do this residentially, commercially? So the question you have to answer is, how are these people going to go about finding you? It’s a big question.
And when they land on your web site, how are you going to be relevant to them at that time? Is it because it’s convenient to get there or is the price? Your site hosts different models and customers aren’t necessarily familiar with the technical details of each, so you need to explain them all so they know which model to choose. Your customers need to know your location, how far away they are from them, how long it’ll take to get there and the directions.
So this is also the future of SEO: If you’re understanding your user’s intent in the context of their search, and you’re giving them real value—you’re going to earn organic links to your site.
Everybody says link-building is dead, and to a certain degree that’s true. But there are still relevant links that you’d want to get. You would want to put your business in Google business management, Bing business management, put it on Google Maps, etc. There’s a legitimate need to do that. But would I do that on every business directory and web forum out there? Probably not—that’s redundant, and it’s kind of spammy, just trying to get your web site linked to more and more pages across the internet.
Now, even more important than links in some instances, is something that’s called co-citation and co-occurrence. Google is aware that your company, company name, is a brand, an entity—it’s called entity search—and Google’s all about defining entities. What is this entity, what does it do? And then it classifies that information. So now, if there’s an article talking about what your company does, and it mentions you along with some high-authority sites in the same business as you, but there’s no link to them, that’s still valuable because your company is a start-up or not well known yet, it’s being mentioned along with these other high-authority sites. There’s not a link there, but these kinds of links don’t always drive traffic but can help with authority.
If you have a link on a high-trafficked site—there are certain instances where this happens, it’s called “barnacle SEO,” a link to your site on another site, but maybe not just a link in a blog post. But if you read a blog and it’s something cool, something interesting, and you’re looking for something specific, like WordPress magazine themes and you see a blog post that says here are the top 10 magazine themes, then, those links are probably going to get a bit of traffic.
So it’s not about link building any more, it’s about link earning—it’s someone saying, “You’re good, I’m linking to you.” By all means, list your site on Google Maps, Google Business Management and list your site in the appropriate business directories. . . . After that, think about contributing to the conversation and that’s what’s going to juice your traffic—sharing with your relevant audience, and how is it tying into your business goals, and target people you already know are authorities—it’s very easy to use research tools (like Buzzsumo) to find who the influencers are on-line on a particular topic.
For example, if you’re targeting someone for your marijuana legalization news website, your “holy grail” thing is for NORML to like your content, or mention it, or say this is a must-read. So you can directly target them via Twitter, or five other sites like them, hoping they’ll join the conversation. But more so, you should be participating with them— build up some rapport, share some of their stuff first, add something to a conversation if they’re doing something on Twitter, and then say, “Hey, guys, here’s something that I wrote, I really liked this other article, here’s something that I think complements it”— then go ahead and share, and those amplifiers will help spread your content around.
Social Media : )
With Facebook and Twitter, big numbers might be look good, might gain your trust—if you see a Facebook page with 80,000 “Likes” versus one with 6,000, but at the end of the day we’re looking at results.
The 6,000 “Likes,” the people might be real, they are actually interested in the product, have a use for it, and work within the industry. So when you run ads on Facebook or do social media promotions, you’re not targeting them with nonsense or broadcasting to fake people, you’re actually reaching real customers. And those 6,000 real people are more likely to share your content because it’s more applicable to them and their circles and the people they’re associated with.
Whereas the 80,000 “Likes” on Facebook or tens of thousands of followers on Twitter could be purchased—your place of business could be in Idaho and you have 10,000 Twitter followers in Bulgaria, from a list that the business purchased.
And Pinterest, which drives a huge amount of traffic, but what nobody takes into account is that Pinterest cares about the user, they’re all about the user. So what value are you providing to the user—are they engaging with your content, are they pinning it, curating it?
So it’s not a sheer numbers game. Sure, you can have a bot or a service add 80,000 people, but you’re going to get zero return. You’re better off finding 300 real people.
You can use a site like Followerwonk—there are numerous Twitter research sights, you could type in “LASIK for presbyopia,” for example, and see not only people who have talked about that, but people who have put that as an interest or who follow that particular topic.
So already you know whom to target. It’s not a crap shoot. The data’s there, in the searching.
Even with Tweet Desk, Twitter’s own management tool, you can search for a particular keyword and see who’s talking about it live and it populates in real time. So there’s really no excuse to go buy 40,000 fake followers when all you have to do is search for them.
Your “A” Game
So that’s what SEO is about, you’ve got to be on your “A” game, you can’t just willy nilly create keywords all over. If you think about it from a cost perspective, Google has made SEO harder for sure, and they’ve also made it much more expensive. But from a business model it’s smart for Google. Instead of always trying to stay ahead of the next SEO trick, they just price people out of the market who are trying to game the system with spam links and thin content.
Back in the day, you could just spam some links with a few dollars here and a few dollars there. But creating content, putting that effort, that blood, sweat, and tears into creating a web site that works across all mobile devices, which takes into account your users, provides them with that information . . . that’s expensive.
Bonus from Shark Tank!
The solely online business Red Dress Boutique has just earned phenomenal growth from 1.8 million in sales their first year to 7.5 million their second. How did they do it? Shark Tank’s October 17, 2014 episode, where Red Dress pitched the Sharks for investment, tells the story.
Shark Tank: How did you make this grow so big, so fast, and all on-line?
Red Dress: Through social media, but more than that, it’s because I invite people in. I put the question out there to my customers: “What made you all come to me, what makes Red Dress so special?” And they give amazing answers, they say, “Oh it’s the colorful clothes, it’s the fact that we can get a high-end look for under 50 dollars.”
Shark Tank: So you learned from them, you used social media, and you kept perfecting your business with their answers?
Red Dress: I developed a program called “Buy for the Boutique,” and when I go to my markets, I go every three weeks—I go to Los Angeles, I go to Las Vegas, I go to Atlanta, and I curate. But more than that, I see items and I will take a picture of them with my phone and throw it out into social media and say: “Do you love this, yes or no? Do you want this—do you want it in red, do you want it in blue?” And no one had ever done that before and they love it.
Shark Tank: And so word of mouth gave you 4x growth?
Red Dress: We have 27,000 Instagram followers, we have just shy of a million Facebook followers—organic followers.
I really do hope you enjoyed our 3 part Customer Acquisition Guide! With my farewell, I leave you with one burning question: Are YOU ready to bring your traffic driving A-GAME… ? I TRULY HOPE SO!
Social media is more than just a way to market your company; it is a platform to have a two-way conversation with your patrons and should be part of your overall customer service strategy. They ask, you answer. They complain, you explain. They thank you, and you can thank them. Building the relationship with your customers is an essential part of delivering good service, and social networking sites are the perfect place to foster that bond. Here’s why:
- Solidify a Personal Brand
Automation can be convenient, but it can also affect customer satisfaction. Through social networking sites, patrons know that there is a real person responding to their concern. Additionally, utilizing an online site enables you to personalize your response, humanizing your company and giving you time to put a conversational tone on your responses. In a sense, the networking sites make your help desk much more user friendly.
- It’s All Out There
We are all familiar with at least one faux pas large companies have made through their social accounts. The push for transparency has created a world where every interaction you have with a customer could be videotaped, recorded or captured in some way. This can actually be a good thing, as customers want to be heard in a public way, and your social accounts give them that platform. What’s more, other people will pay attention to the way you handle the situation, which gives you the opportunity to further build trust.
- Immediate Response Time
One of the reasons people love using social media so much is because it is instant. From a customer perspective, that means there is no listening to that annoying music while on hold. As soon as a customer posts on your site, you have the ability to respond immediately. Just make sure you are equipped to respond when you launch your social networks. A small business with limited resources may want to make a plan for how to quickly address customer service inquiries online.
- Easy Follow-Up
Piggy-backing on your response time is the fact that social networking makes it easy for you to follow up with a customer. Rather than putting the patron through further calls or emails, you can simply comment on a thread to see what action you can take to help the situation. As an added bonus, other people will be able to see that not only are you interacting, but that you are going back to ensure the customer is satisfied.
- Increase Brand Awareness
Whether they are tagging you in a post or putting a hashtag in front of your company name, customers will inherently spread the word about you through social platforms. This can enhance your search engine optimization and get your brand better visibility. When a customer has a positive experience, he or she is more likely to share that with their own networks.
- Get Rid of the Hoops
A customer fills out an online contact form. You respond with an email. They call you back. That’s three different mediums to accomplish one goal. Social media can put a stop to the hoop jumping. That provides the customer with a better experience because you are making the service personal, not automated.
The key to good customer support is a fast and efficient response. Social media coupled with Cayzu Help Desk can help your business accomplish this.
Cayzu wants to provide you with the absolute best in online help desk software, but we also realize that it can be difficult finding just the right customer service software for your business. Thankfully, we’ve provided you with a few of the most essential components to help you make your decision in finding the best help desk software for your needs.
What’s Your Budget?
The very first thing that you’ll want to do is figure out just how much money you have in your business bank account to devote to help desk software. We’ve found that one of the main reasons many small businesses don’t have good online customer support software is because they don’t believe that they can afford it. One of the great things about cloud computing is that it makes the process easier and more affordable than ever. Just to make sure that we have the perfect option for all of our customers, we have three separate plans for you to choose from with our SOLO plan starting at $0 forever for up to 3 agents.
What Kind of Bells & Whistles Do You Need?
As you’re figuring out how much you can spare for help desk software, it’s also best that you figure out exactly what your specific needs are when it comes to customer service. Besides the areas in which you’re lacking, you should also consider any areas where automations can increase your agent productivity and lower redundancies. Which touch points could use a bit of help to make it easier for your customers to access your business?
Examples of some of the features we offer include:
- Social support for Facebook & Twitter
- Advanced reporting, business rules, and SLA
- Integration with LogMeIn, SurveyMonkey, ZohoCRM & more
- Multiple products and brands
- Mobile Apps
- Unlimited Agents & more
Do You Know What Features You’re Getting?
It’s also a good idea for you to know as much as possible about the features you’ll be getting with your help desk plan. Don’t hesitate to let us know if you ever have any questions about any of our features or about customer support software in general. Just inform us of your personal requirements and we’ll do our absolute best to pair you up with the right plan and see to it that as many of your requirements as possible are met. We know that not everyone will be able to make a final decision based on our responses to their questions, which is why we allow you to test our solution for free.
What Kind of Security Do You Need?
Depending on what industry you’re in, you might have sensitive and confidential addresses, names, account numbers, and passwords that customers have to include with their help requests. Ask about security before you decide on a specific plan so that you can be sure that your customers and their information will be well protected. We ensure that each and every one of our servers is hosted in a world class data center that’s under constant surveillance by Internet specialists.
Other Questions You Should Ask:
- Is the help desk solution cloud based? (Quicker deployment/no back end management)
- Does the help desk solution provide a branded self-service knowledge base?
- What is the total cost of ownership? (Are there any hidden fee’s, modules etc..)
- Does the help desk solution provide you the right reports to run your business?
- Does the help desk solution provide you expandability through integrations and an API?
- Does the help desk solution have strong roots and a good reputation?
For more help on deciding on the perfect help desk software for your business, get in touch with a Cayzu representative today. Together we can give your small business the big business resources it needs to evolve.
All businesses start with a light bulb going off in someone’s head and after a lot of never ending hard work a product is released. Now comes the hardest part, how do I get customers to my web site to buy it?
Many business owners have the mindset that: If I build it, they will come. That is not always the case and is one of the most common mistakes and leading reasons that over 80% of businesses fail in the first 18 months of existence.
Every new and existing company wants to drive more traffic to their web site and everyone has the same question: how!?. After a lot of reading, researching and thinking back on my own personal experiences, I came up with the idea for the: The complete customer acquisition guide for cash strapped start ups and small businesses.
I’ve broken this guide up into multiple parts so make sure to subscribe to our blog to ensure that you get notified of each new release! This is part 2, and if you want to checkout part 1, click here.
Long Tail Keywords
What are long tail keywords and how can they help your business website? Long tail keywords are keyword phrases of usually three or four words, and are a major part of SEO.
When we all built our first website, we stuffed the keyword field so that there were more chances for search engine spiders to reach down into our keyword field, pull our keywords up, and give our site a higher ranking on the search results page.
Enter Long Tail Keywords
The theory with long tail keywords, and how it plays out in practice, is say you are searching for fresh organic Ceylon cinnamon. If you type only the word “cinnamon” in the search field of Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., search engine, you will get, as I just did, “About 26,500,000” results on Google. If you search for “fresh organic Ceylon cinnamon” the search results will, in terms of probability, be fewer, because relatively few sites will have this keyword phrase in their content compared to the many many sites that have “cinnamon.” My search just pulled up “About 322,000” results. So by searching with the keyword phrase, we’ve reduced the number of results by more than 82 times.
Now think of that translating to your site, if you sell fresh organic Ceylon cinnamon (which I don’t), ranking 82 times higher in Google’s search results page!
This is also good because the potential customers for your products and services who search more specifically are more likely to purchase what they searched for when they arrive at your site than someone who searched generically for “cinnamon” and pulled up 26.5 million results. I mean, were they even looking for the best deal on cinnamon? And hey, we’ve got non-organic cinnamon on sale, if they don’t want the higher-priced higher-quality stuff!
All of this translates into the action item of you creating as many keyword phrases in your site’s content as fit the descriptions of your products and services. This way, you reduce the number of window shoppers way down and increase the number of buyers.
More Pages, More Long Tailed Keywords
Let’s think big. One big billboard I’ve seen recently says, “Okay, so you’re thinking big. Good. Now think bigger.” Bigger for a website means more—more pages.
Whereas a website can be one page, a website can also be many pages. That means Google and other search engines search not only one page, they search as many pages as your site has, but they are all your pages, your site. The more pages searched, the more long tailed keywords in your pages—in your site—and you already know what that means—more buyers. But beware the temptation of possible Black Hat SEO practices here, which may only get your site banned from search engines.
In the case of customer service, using long tailed keywords in your help pages provides more efficient help for your customers once they have bought your product or service.
For instance, on Cayzu Helpdesk Software’s tech support page, http://support.cayzu.com/, you can “Submit a Ticket” on the help you need. Or, alternatively, you can type in specifically what you need help with in the “How can we help you?” field. What you type in there is an example of a long tailed keyword.
All of the information available by seeking help in either of these ways on Cayzu, for example, is driven by our knowledge base. Thus a knowledge base, like a big website, has a lot of pages, wherein you can insert a lot of long tailed keywords—which, as in the case of the fresh organic Ceylon cinnamon, can improve your ranking in Google and other search engines many, many times.
Creating Long Tail Keywords
Always thinking bigger, thinking outside the box, etc., can be awesome. Remember, too, that thought precedes action, and now it’s time to execute the strategy of increasing the number of keyword phrases in your content—also creating more pages if you need to.
There are actually free and paid services that can help you create long tailed keywords. The bottom line here is creating as many relevant different keyword phrases that apply to your product, service, tech support or other customer service help issue.
You, of course, can “fill in the blanks” with your own stuff, but the free service that, for instance, Wordstream gives as an example creating keyword phrases for a site that sells fish tanks. The Free Keyword Tool generates 11 different long tail keywords, such as “fish tanks for cheap,” “huge fish tanks,” “fish tanks stands,” “gallon fish tanks.” So now the fish tank seller might create at least 11 more pages for the site—and indexed on Google—and attract more potential customers who are searching for specific kinds of fish tank.
And remember, current and potential customers who need help should be able contact you via any channel that they prefer which includes from your web site, knowledge base, Facebook, Twitter, phone and even chat and email. And that my friends is not old hat 🙂
Again, as a reminder. I’ve broken this guide up into multiple parts so make sure to subscribe to our blog (below) to ensure that you get notified of each new release! Enjoy!
Rather than view Twitter as another way to pass the day, here at Cayzu we recommend that you look at it more as a powerful resource to help with your customer service, we call it social customer service. Twitter offers a variety of benefits that you may not be aware of, but your competition might be. So just what are some of the ways that Twitter can help improve your business when paired with our help desk software?
Time is of the essence when it comes to customer service. Not only do customers expect to be able to connect with your business through a variety of channels, they also expect faster response times, and that’s especially true in an emergency situation. Twitter allows you to instantly be aware of when a customer is in need of help. Studies have shown that roughly 40 percent of users on Twitter expect to wait less than an hour when they have a customer service issue.
With Twitter you can give your customers a response in real time. If you like, you can even create a special Twitter handle dedicated solely to customer service. This will allow you to take care of your customers without having to worry about cluttering up your normal Twitter business account.
Truly Useful Tools
When used right, hashtags can become another useful customer support tool. A hashtag that’s specific to your business can be used to follow and track conversations and invite your audience to get in touch with you on Twitter should they ever need help. We recommend that you also search for hashtags that are popular in your specific industry in case there are common issues your customers need help with. Even if you have the best help desk software monitoring your Twitter account, you can still improve your customer service if you have the right information and social media platforms.
Even though a blanket response is a great way of saving time while making sure your information reaches as many people as possible, it’s not a good way to form one-on-one connections with your customers. With Twitter you can have a personal interaction with a single customer. Simply type “@” before listing the customer’s Twitter handle and you’ll be engaging them in a direct conversation. There’s nothing to make a customer feel truly appreciated like connecting to them on a one-on-one basis. You can also send direct messages on Twitter if you’d like for the correspondence to remain private and your Twitter feed to remain uncluttered.
While there are several great things about Twitter, there are also a few downsides to the platform. For one thing, if a customer decides to complain about your level of customer service on Twitter, there’s a very good chance that their complaint could spread like digital wildfire before you’re even aware of it. It’s best that you keep an eye on @mentions every day in case there are some problems that demand your immediate attention. The best time to put out a fire is when it first starts and a help desk solution that automatically monitors Twitter for you is a game changer.
The help desk experts here at Cayzu would be more than happy to keep an eye on your Twitter feed so that you never have to miss another customer complaint. Get in touch with us today for more information or if you’d like to learn more about our help desk software.