Category Archives: Search Engine Optimization

17 Oct

How Long Does It Take To See Results After SEO Is Applied?

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As a website owner, what one wants to do is drive enormous amount of traffic to one’s website so as to maximise the conversion rate with a view to increasing profitability of one’s venture manifold.

To be able to achieve the desired results for the website, one needs to engage in something called ‘Search Engine Optimization (SEO)’, which refers to the process of enhancing the visibility of a website across a number of search engines, such as Google & Bing, in an organic manner.

SEO, as simple and easy as it may seem from a distance, is very intricate process in reality and could consume considerable amount of time before producing noticeable results for any website.

Owing to a number of intricacies involved in its implementation, SEO is often assigned to digital marketing experts by business clients with web presence. In return for certain amount of fees, the experts make all the efforts required to optimize the websites for search engines.

Soon after the task of SEO implementation is handed over to online marketing professionals, most of the businesses start to grapple with a nagging question, i.e. How Long Does It Take To See Results After SEO is applied to their websites?

While the above-mentioned question posed by business clients is a genuine one as every firm wants to make the most of each dollar spent, it is not often addressed or answered to the clients’ satisfaction by online marketing specialists.

This article is an attempt to shine some light on the question that has been the cause of worries to many so far.

Generally speaking, an effective SEO campaign for a new site should start working or displaying results 4 to 6 months after it is first put into practice. However, it might take longer for results to crop up if any website is constrained by small budget or has been penalised by Google or other search engines in the past for its adoption of black-hat strategies.

As a website grows older, its overall performance improves on account of continuous efforts into SEO application. This is why one would see a 12-month optimized website ranking much better and attracting much more traffic than a website that has been optimized for search engines for 6 months only.

Outlined below is the structure of SEO and how it evolves over time to give clients an understanding of why it takes 4-6 months to see SEO-driven results:

 

First Month – Focus On Research

The very first month is dedicated to carrying out research work, encompassing keyword research, competitive analysis, assessment of technical requirements and content audit, for the assigned website by an SEO professional.

Please note that the amount of time needed to conduct research work would vary and mostly depend on size of the website as well as scope of the SEO project. Hence, small-sized websites may be researched in less than a month, whereas other websites containing large number of pages might take more than a month to be thoroughly researched.

Investigation into the scope of damage resulting from previous implementation of black-hat SEO strategies is also to be conducted in the first month itself as this would help offset the impact of any such damage in the following months.

By the end of the first month, the the online marketing specialist should have all pieces of research work documented for future reference.

 

Second Month – Focus On Technical Aspects Of Website

The digital marketing professional enters the second month with access to meaningful SEO insights (derived from the analysis of research data gathered in the first month) that enable to proceed further with a clear sense of direction and purpose.

The second month is basically devoted to fixing the technical loopholes of the website so that it could be easily crawled, indexed and ranked by search engines. The volume of technical issues to be dealt with in this stage is determined by the result of ‘site audit’ conducted in the very first month.

In line with the technical concerns pointed out by the ‘site audit’, the website may need to be either completely modified or tweaked slightly so as to allow the web spiders to crawl through it easily.

In particular, the following technical aspects are looked into and any issues related to the same are dealt with by the online marketing specialist:

Meta Tags-

Meta Tags are the key components of HTML web pages that must be optimized for gaining visibility on search engines.

Of all the meta tags, there are four in particular that need be paid utmost attention to – Title, Description, Keyword and Refresh.

The online marketing professional ensures that main keyword for every page of the website is included into the title, description and keyword meta tags so that each page gets better ranking for its specific relevant keyword across all search engines.

URLs (Universal Resource Locators)-

The SEO professional is also to check if URLs contain specific keywords for the pages that one gets directed to. A URL with a keyword helps optimize a web page for search engines and hence, is given due consideration.

Sitemaps-

A sitemap is the structure of a website with links to all of its pages that are available for being crawled and indexed.

Both HTML sitemap and XML sitemap are to be created (if not already generated), showcasing clear and logical structure of the site in question. While there is not much to be done in relation to HTML sitemap after it has been created, one needs to submit XML sitemap to the search engines via webmaster tools to allow for smooth crawling and indexing of website pages.

Site Performance-

Many site performance factors, including page load time, size of images and site responsiveness to wide variety of devices, are worked on by the online expert with a view to enhancing the visibility of overall website on search engines.

Internal Links –

Linking one page of a website to another page of the same site makes it SEO-friendly. So, the digital marketing specialist has the responsibility to incorporate internal links into various pages of the site so as to make it easily crawlable.

Crawl Errors –

Webmaster tools may point out certain errors, including DNS errors, server errors, robots failure and URL errors, which make it difficult for search engines to crawl the given website. These errors have to be appropriately resolved by the SEO specialist so that web spiders could easily crawl the website.

Content –

The SEO consultant is also to look at whether pages of the given site have duplicate content or not. If some or all of the pages are found to contain duplicate content, these are re-drafted in this stage itself.

 

Third Month – Focus On Content Creation

In the third month, the task for the digital marketing professional is to create meaningful content around specific keywords and target audience in various formats with a view to enhancing the site’s ranking for the chosen keywords across various search engines over time.

While content creation may seem an expensive affair, business clients must invest into it to be able to reap benefits, including increased brand loyalty, recognition as a thought leader, high number of leads and growing sales, quality back-links to the site and enhanced visibility on search engines, in the long-term.

The types of content, which are known to fetch benefits, include blogging, whitepapers, case-studies, infographics, videos, product catalogues and e-books. Take a look at this useful infographic on content creation for more tips and information.

Please note that content creation has to be an ongoing activity for any site and must be continuously worked on by the SEO professional in the following months too.

 

Fourth Month – Focus On Links

As stated earlier, the fourth month would also see relevant content creation with a view to drawing quality back-links to the site.

Additionally, issues related to toxic links and manual penalties are supposed to be dealt with by the digital marketing consultant in this month.

In order to further gain natural back-links to the site, the online marketing professional engages in offering guest posts to other authoritative and relevant websites.

While gaining ‘follow’ links is vital to rank higher, bringing in ‘no-follow’ links is equally important to allow the site to appear normal and natural to the web spiders. So, both types of links should be aimed at by the specialist in this stage of SEO implementation.

 

Fifth Month – Focus On Being Social

As the digital marketing expert moves into the fifth month, he/she engages in setting up social media accounts across the relevant platforms with a view to increasing brand awareness, distributing the produced content, and enhancing the overall profitability resulting from the increased traffic.

Importance of social media has increased manifold lately, and owing to the same reason, search engines have started taking into account social media activities of online brands while deciding on their rankings.

In spite of social media being an expensive matter, a client must stick at nothing to invest into building a strong social media presence in order to gain better visibility on search engines.

Inclusion of social media into overall SEO strategy is what the digital marketer does in this particular stage.

 

Sixth Month – Focus On Analytics-Driven Optimisation

By the 6th month, the client should be able to see some traffic and results on the site on account of efforts put in by the hired digital marketer in the previous months.

In addition to being engaged in content creation and distribution of produced content via social media platforms, the online marketing specialist, at this stage, gets on with digging into analytics to tweak the ongoing campaigns for achieving better SEO results in the following months.

The online marketing expert logs in to analytics tool to check on a number of performance metrics, including but not limited to ‘total number of page views’, ‘average time spent on the website by a visitor’, ‘bounce rate’, ‘demographics of visitors by language, country and city’, ‘behaviour flow’, and ‘conversion rate’.

After all the performance metrics are thoroughly analysed, useful insights come into existence. These insights are then fed into content creation strategy, link building strategy and social media strategy with the aim of improving the site’s visibility across search engines further.

 

The essence of the article is that there is no short-cut to success in any walk of life. If a site tries to gain good ranking fast using black-hat SEO strategies, it will have to eventually suffer from penalties because algorithms deployed by search engines are now smart enough to catch and punish those who engage in spammy activities. So, SEO campaigns need be nurtured over sufficient amount of time to produce quality traffic and other desired results for any given website.

Author-Profile-Digital Escalator International

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14 Oct

‘Real-Time’ Penguin Update: What It Is And Why You Should Care

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In a recent statement, Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, revealed that next Penguin update was going to be released by the end of 2015. However, SEO industry predicts that release of the said update would be brought about much sooner as Google tends to not play with its algorithms during busy public holidays, which happen to be too many in the month of November and December 2015. Therefore, you might expect to see the roll-out of next Penguin update this month too.

Now, you must be wondering what this soon-to-be-released ‘real-time’ Penguin update is all about and how it is going to impact your website in the foreseeable future. Well, you will have to read on to find the answers!

Let us get to understand what Google means by ‘real-time’ update now. If you have been in the field of SEO, you might well be aware of the 6-12 month window for Penguin recovery, meaning one will have to spend 6-12 months recovering from penalties. With the introduction of ‘real-time’ update, the 6-12 month waiting period is going to be reduced to next-to-nothing.

In keeping with its nature, Google has not shared great deal of information about the wider effects of the ‘real-time’ update on online businesses. However, it is expected that close-to-continuous Penguin data refreshes would take place, and impact of any link-related activity could be felt soon after websites have been re-crawled. This means that you should be able to restore the reputation of your website in no time after incorporating required link-related changes if it has been penalised in the past on account of low-quality or spam links.

The said update, once in effect, would also result in reduction or elimination of ‘churn and burn’ techniques used by some websites for reaping short-term benefits as their window of opportunity would be reduced from 6-12 months to almost next-to-nothing.

While the update, once implemented, is meant to further streamline websites’ rankings on Google, it may become a cause of concern for some genuine websites that end up losing their rankings in ‘real-time’ soon after ‘Negative SEO’ techniques against them have been used by their competitors.

In light of all the pros and cons discussed in relation to soon-to-be-released update, what action should you take to give your website an edge over other ones? Well, you should ideally analyse quality of all the links associated with your website and then remove low-quality links either manually or through Google’s Disavow tool. Removal of such links pointing to your website would ensure that it does not suffer in terms of its ranking on Google badly as the discussed update is rolled-out.

If you have a website and you’re not sure about how to fix link-related issues in order to avoid penalties from Google in the foreseeable future, get in touch with us and we will be more than happy to assist you with the same.

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05 Jun

Content Marketing : An Untapped Source Of Competitive Advantage For Many BPO Vendors

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Business-Process-Outsourcing_Digital-Escalator-International

BPO Industry and Its Recent Developments

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry is not something which anyone (across the globe) would be unaware of these days. When a consumer makes a local call to order any product in the UK or the USA, he/she will probably expect someone from India or Philippines to pick up the call and process his/her order. This is what you call BPO era in which companies outsource their non-core administrative/back-office processes to call centres based in other countries with primary intention to cut down on cost and maximize profitability.

But, the BPO industry has evolved over a period of time. Not only are repetitive or non-core back-end processes (requiring low degree of skill or knowledge) outsourced, but processes (requiring high degree of skilled knowledge and expertise) are also outsourced to offshore call centres these days. While the prior type of outsourcing would fall under the umbrella of BPO, the latter type would be termed as KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing). An example of KPO vendor could be a company handling payroll/accounting department on behalf of another organisation.

Rising Competition For Market Share: A Great Challenge For BPO/KPO Vendors

While India and Philippines are often heard of as key outsourcing destinations, there are other countries (e.g. Malaysia, China, Egypt, Morocco, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Columbia, Poland, Ireland and many more) that have emerged as favourite destinations for outsourcing lately. This trend shows that BPO vendors are mushrooming all over the world, thereby giving rise to intense competition for market share.

“According to Nasscom, in the last five years, India has lost about 10 per cent market share to the rest of the world in the world BPO space, most of which is in the voice contract segment.”

Now, the question arises as to what a BPO/KPO vendor should do to increase its market share and outdo its competitors in the industry. Is there a way for a BPO/KPO vendor to gain competitive advantage over its rivals? Indeed, there is.

Content Marketing: A Panacea For BPO/KPO Vendors That Are Looking To Grow Among Stiff Competition

‘Content Marketing’ is what a BPO/KPO service provider should engage in so as to outdo its competition.

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”- says Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

The purpose of content marketing is to communicate with customers and prospects without pitching any product to them. By way of content marketing, organisations educate their prospective buyers with an intention to position themselves as leaders in their respective fields. Once an organisation has established itself as a leader in a specific area via its content marketing efforts, it starts getting rewarded with business from its engaged group of target audience or prospective buyers or followers.

“If you look at big brands (e.g. Accenture, WNS Global Services, HCL BPO and Convergys) in the BPO industry, you will realize that they all have robust content marketing strategy in place that caters to a number of their purposes ranging from ‘brand awareness’ to ‘ lead conversion & nurturing’ to ‘customer conversion’ to ‘customer service’ to ‘retention’ to ‘up-selling’.”

Various types of content, e.g. Articles, Blogs, Brochures, Case Studies, Podcasts, Videos, Webinars and Whitepapers, are produced by such call centres to engage with their target audience as they firmly believe in the power of thought leadership and content marketing. Hence, production of valuable, relevant and consistent content should be central to the online marketing strategy of your organisation if you are running a call centre that is looking to grow.

Content-Marketing-Digital-Escalator-International

Now, you must be wondering what you will need to do in order to implement a robust content marketing strategy for your call centre. Well, you will need to devise a robust content marketing strategy before you can implement it.

In order to work out the most appropriate content marketing strategy for your organisation, you will need to work through the following 7 stages:

1. Planning

Planning is the first and foremost activity that your organisation should engage in. As no organisation would want to waste its limited resources, what you need to do is lay out a concrete plan for creation of valuable and targeted content for your business entity. Please make sure that pieces of content created or produced by your organisation help it achieve its business objectives in broader sense.

“It is imperative that content marketing plan fits in well with business goals of your entity as engaging in creation of content without any purpose would result in nothing but loss.”

The best starting point for you would be to think about a mission statement or work out a business case that clearly explains the purpose for which content is going to be created.

Let’s say that you have jotted down the purpose of your content marketing as ‘generation of new leads’. Now, you will devise such content strategy that aims at achieving the aforementioned goal.

“Not only should the content strategy take into consideration ‘why’ factor of content creation, but also ‘what’ and ‘how’ factors.”

If you are a call center that is looking to grow its client base, you would probably need to do some brainstorming on what pieces of content your prospective clients would be most interested in. Touching on the challenges and needs of your target audience might be a good starting point.

From in-depth research and previous experience with international call centres, following motivations for ‘outsourcing’ were discovered. BPO/KPO vendors could produce content around the following list of outsourcing motivations in order to generate leads:

  • Cost-efficiency
  • Greater process efficiency and effectiveness
  • Capitalizing on disruptive technologies such as mobile, social and analytics
  • Competitive advantage over rivals through outsourcing
  • Driving innovation
  • Changing the mix of skills, expertise and capabilities
  • Expansion into new regions
  • Integration of supply chain
  • Anticipating/responding to technology and market shifts
  • Enabling predictive modeling using customer data analytics
  • Disaster recovery

After you have answered ‘why’ and ‘what’ factors, you need to decide on ‘how’ the desired content is going to be published. The options would include whitepapers, case studies, blog articles, podcasts, videos, brochures etc. Hence, strategic combination of all the available options would conclude the ‘how’ factor of your content strategy.

2. Audience

The second stage is related to understanding the audience who will consume your content.

“Tailoring your content to suit the taste of your target audience is very important as it helps engage with them better. After all, engaged audience is what your call centre needs in order to prosper and generate new leads.”

So, how are you going to understand your audience? Well, you need to create persona of your target audience who you will be creating content for. Below given is an example of ‘Persona’ which was created for an international BPO firm as part of its content marketing plan until not too long ago:

Persona_Content-Marketing_Digital-Escalator-International

Using a properly defined persona (as has been explained above), you would always remain focused and create valuable content for your target market in a consistent manner.

3. Storytelling

Storytelling is what you are supposed to engage in next. Planned content needs to be drafted in the form of stories.

The stories should not appear like sales pitches. Rather, such stories should reveal the big ideas that you represent, or the distinguishing experiences that you create.

“The stories, which you tell about your brand, should be properly structured and drafted with a view to building long-lasting relationships with your customers/prospects/target audience.”

You could resort to Brand Hero’s Journey Chart (given below) to spell out stories about your company’s brand/call centre.

Content-Marketing-Brand-Hero-Journey-Digital-Escalator-International

4. Channels

As you have some nicely-drafted stories ready to be shared with your target market, you need to move a step further and work out a robust channel strategy. Please note that selection of distribution channels would depend on the content strategy that you had worked through in the very first stage of planning.

If your content strategy meant to generate new leads, you would probably resort to Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing (Pay-per-click) and Email Marketing for the same.

“As a call centre that is looking to grow its clientele, you should ideally try to integrate all the available digital marketing channels to produce the best result, i.e. generation of new leads in bulk.”

(i) Search Engine Optimization

If you have not optimized your website for major search engines (such as Google, Bing and Yahoo), you should resort to search engine optimization (SEO) techniques (both on page and off page) to get your website ranking up the order on search engines in an organic manner.

As stated by Digital Marketing Institute (Ireland), SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results.

Although SEO process takes long period of time to produce visible results, yet it will be wise on your part to invest into it as such investment will reap tangible financial benefits for your organization after your website starts ranking against certain highly searched and relevant keywords.

(ii) Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is another way to gain access to your target audience on search engines. Unlike SEO, you have to pay for being visible on search engines, in case you choose to go ahead with SEM.

It could be said to be one of the very cost-effective methods of advertisement as advertiser has to pay on pay-per-click basis, meaning you (as an advertiser) will only pay when someone has clicked on your ad and landed on your chosen landing page as a result of the interaction/click. But, if it is not executed properly, this cost-effective method might turn into a very costly affair for your organization.

The famous PPC (Pay-Per-Click) options are Google Adwords (Google Search Network and Display Network) and Bing Ads (Yahoo and Bing Network).

“Everything from ‘keywords’ to ‘ad groups’ to ‘engaging ad copies’ to ‘strong call-to-action’ to ‘landing pages’ to ‘budgeting’ to ‘bidding’ to ‘scheduling’ has to be thought through in order for a PPC campaign to work in favor of your BPO/KPO organization in an effective manner.”

You could also exploit contextual targeting and re-targeting options provided by a number of websites in order to generate new leads.  While Google Adwords Contextual Targeting, Clicksor, Pulsepoint, InfoLinks, SiteScout, Bidvertiser are examples of those websites that provide contextual targeting options, Adroll, Google Adwords Remarketing, Chango, Criteo, Bizo, Retargeter, Rocket Fuel are examples of re-targeting websites. Please note that payments for contextual targeting and re-targeting options might be based on CPC  (cost-per-click) or CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions) or CPA (cost-per-acquisition).

In addition to the above-mentioned options, you could use Whitepaper Syndication Service Organizations, such as Netline Corp., CMP Technology, CNET Network Business, Find White Papers, IDG Connect etc., to promote whitepapers with a view to generating new leads.

(iii) Email Marketing

If you are part of B2B world, you must be aware of the fact that every lead does not convert into sale in the very first instance.

“According to Hubspot, leads need be nurtured consistently as nurtured leads have 23% shorter sales cycle.”

Hence, an email lead nurturing strategy is a must for organizations to nurture their leads and keep them moving up in the sales pipeline with various relevant and valuable pieces of information. Have a look at the below-given email lead nurturing flow-chart that was designed for an international BPO lately:

Email-Lead-Nurturing_Digital-Escalator-International

To keep track of which lead stands where in the sales pipeline, you should use any good CRM software such as Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics or SugarCRM. A CRM system makes your job very simpler by helping you organize, track and manage information about all of your customers/prospects/leads.

By integrating CRM software with a feature rich third-party electronic mail delivery and management system such as MailChimp or AWeber, you can deliver right messages to the leads at the right time. Consistent delivery of relevant and valuable pieces of content via email would result in more and more leads moving into sales funnel, thereby increasing the overall clientele and revenue of the organization.

5. Process

Once you have worked out content strategy, persona of target audience and channel strategy, you need to bring everything together and make it work for your organization. This stage of content marketing requires you to operationalize everything you have done before.

Please follow the chart below to find out four phases of content marketing process:

Content-Marketing-Process_Digital-Escalator-International

In order to deliver on these phases, you need to ponder upon and choose your content marketing team very carefully as the right team would take your content marketing plan into the right direction.

Although your content marketing team would have a basic editorial calendar to follow for publishing content, you might want to make use of content production tools (e.g. Compendium, Contently, DivvyHQ, InboundWriter etc.) to turn your BPO/KPO into a publishing machine.

6. Conversation

After you have a streamlined process for content marketing in place, you need to go out and share your content with your audience/customers via various social media channels.

Conversation_Content-Marketing_Digital-Escalator-International

As a BPO/KPO vendor, you might want to share your stories across Twitter, LinkedIn, SlideShare, WordPress and YouTube.

Share your content like a leader in your industry with all the people you are connected to across all the aforementioned social media platforms.

After you are done with sharing, you should be ready to listen to and respond to the conversations around your content in an appropriate manner so as to create engaged community of relevant people on your chosen social media platforms.

7. Measurement

Measurement_Content-Marketing_Digital-Escalator-International

Although ‘Measurement’ has been mentioned as the last stage of content marketing journey in this article, yet it should be an on-going process for your organization. If you learn from your mistakes quickly, you will be able to succeed fast. Nevertheless, measurement is not as easy as it seems.

“According to Content Marketing Institute, 33% of B2B marketers and 41% of B2C marketers find their inability to measure as a significant challenge in their content marketing journey.”

Using the available measurement tools, you can measure just about anything. But, the question is if you actually need to measure every parameter/criterion. The simple answer is a big ‘NO’.

“Measuring everything would not only consume your precious time and resources, but it would also confuse you to a great degree.”

Usually, content marketers use whitepapers for lead generation purposes. But, they are hardly able to measure anything beyond number of downloads. Below given is a list of key performance indicators that such content marketers should try to measure with the measurement tools they have access to:

Unique Visits – This is measured to find out how many individuals have viewed your content within a given period of type (generally, it is a 30-day window). It is a good indicator of your content’s reach.

Geography – This is measured to find out where exactly (in terms of geographical boundaries) people are engaging more with your content. This information enables you to allocate your budget on the basis of where your targeted and engaged audience is based.

Mobile Readership – This is to be measured with a view to optimizing content for mobile platforms. If more than half of your readers access your content using a tablet or mobile, you need to invest into responsive designs that optimize your content according to the device accessing it.

Bounce Rate – Bounce rate is a measure of how engaged your audience is with your published content. Keep a close eye on this metric in order to produce more and more engaging content.

Time-Spent – This metric needs to be measured for the same purpose as bounce rate.

Page Views – Co-relation between unique visitors and page views should be given due importance, and hence measured to understand the engagement level of your audience with regards to various pieces of published content.

Comments – Keeping an eye on comments (in relation to your content) on social media platforms can give you ideas about attitudes and pain-points of your customers and prospects. This will help you produce more customized and meaningful future content for your audience.

Social Sharing – This metric needs to be measured to find out how popular your content is amongst your readers. If your readers like your content, they will share it with others on social media platforms, thereby helping you reach more number of people who might be your prospects going forward.

Conclusion: A Sound Content Marketing Strategy Is A Must For BPO/KPO Vendors

Long and short of everything (mentioned above) is that you (as a BPO/KPO vendor) need to devise and implement a robust content marketing strategy for developing your business, increasing your market share and gaining competitive advantage in this fast evolving digital era.

In the end, it is hoped that you would benefit from the aforementioned content and succeed as a leader in your industry after implementation of a sound content marketing plan.

Author-Profile-Digital Escalator International

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