What is Conversion Rate Optimization and Why Your Website Needs It

Take it from us, conversion rate optimization is not a digital marketing buzzword, and it’s probably an excellent time that we should start focusing a lot of our efforts around it.

For some reason, there are times where we forget about CRO in favor of other optimizations. However, there is a lot that we can do today to improve our conversion rates.

In this article, we will be exploring the different ways that we can improve our conversion rate optimization on our web properties and how we can get improved conversions by merely understanding CRO.

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

To put it simply, conversion rate optimization – or CRO – is the process of analyzing the data that customers are leaving on your web property to find out how to improve the performance of your website.

This is not just limited to one particular metric or a specific form of analytics, but rather the holistic study of how you can get the right kind of customers to interact with your web property the way you want them to.

Think about it this way

CRO is the process of optimizing your website to make sure that you can meet the wants and needs of your customers to get them to go onwards with the next part of the conversion journey.

It does not also mean that you need to focus on one particular key performance indicator (KPI), but rather trying out a combination of different factors.

Related: Essential Components of a Lead-generating Website

How Useful is CRO?

CRO is handy for many reasons. First of all, it is a way of ensuring that you are efficient with the resources that you have to achieve your conversion goals. This means that you can be more frugal with the way you spend money on your campaigns, but still can obtain the maximum benefit of the rest of the optimizations.

The common sense approach to CRO is that it is a safeguard to ensuring that your potential customer, client, or visitor will not lose their patience with your site before getting them towards a specific action.

This is not just about blind optimizations, this is more about getting the right type of customers that you are targeting. Most of us spend ages trying to optimize for this and that, but how many of these optimizations matter to your target market share.

Related: Search Engine Optimization is a Continuous Process

How Do I Go About Conversion Rate Optimization?

There are plenty of ways to go about CRO, but it starts with the data that you already have about your customers. There are numerous ways to extract data that will better help you identify how your customer reacts to some aspects of a web property.

After you have analyzed this data, this is where you can start determining what KPIs you should be focusing on. Most people aim to get more unique visitors, but you also have to combine this particular factor with the conversion you want to achieve.

Optimizing for maximum conversions is usually focused on the landing page of your visitor. This is where most of the action takes place, and it can involve anything from heat mapping the page to figure out where they are clicking, to hacks such as changing the colors of your call-to-action (CTA) buttons.

Another thing that can be achieved through proper CRO is reduced bounce rates. You see, sometimes we need a visitor to consume certain parts of the page for them to make that decision that will equal a conversion, but more often than not, they get distracted or lose patience and leave.

CRO allows you to optimize your page to ensure that you have user’s interest and that is kept long enough for them to make whatever decision you want them to make.

It is not a guarantee, but you are guaranteed to do better!

Proper conversion optimization does not automatically make your site better nor does it mean that you will be able to make more conversions. However, it is a guarantee of more effective methods of driving traffic where it matters most.

You still have to do extensive testing afterward and it is essential that you regularly monitor for changes and adapt tactics and strategies accordingly. It’s the same with most of the optimizations. You still need to look out for proper feedback.

Related: B2B Chatbots and How This Tech Can Improve Your Conversions

At the end of the day, you want your user on your page for a specific reason, and conversion rate optimization is one of the ways that you can make sure that you are achieving the goals that you have set out not only in an efficient manner but also in an effective one.

So check out your site today. Do you think it is optimized for conversions? Or are there other ways where you can improve the way your users interact with your website? You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.

Once you have optimized your site’s conversion, it is essential that you follow through your efforts by utilizing powerful lead nurturing using various channels.

Build your digital presence, attract the right audience, and engage potential customers with the help of Callbox’s integrated Digital Marketing Solutions.

5 Mistakes That Completely Ruin Your Website Lead Generation Power

5 Mistakes That Completely Ruin Your Website Lead Generation Power

If your web visitors are warm leads, the last thing you want to do is lose them. Similarly, if your visitors are cold leads, you ideally want them to leave with a good impression of your website and your brand so that maybe they will do business with you in the future. It is therefore imperative that you avoid the five mistakes listed below.

#1) Landing Pages That Don’t Answer The Questions Your Marketing Generated

Let’s try not to get too complicated here, but even a freshman taking a college marketing course understands the concept of user expectation and user experience. If you type in a website domain called, “www.Pets-In-Pants.com” you don’t expect to land on a website advertising tropical fish. In this case, the domain name has set up an expectation. Your landing page and your website is going to fail to generate any sort of lead or conversion if your landing page doesn’t pander to or serve that expectation.

To make a little simpler, try to imagine that every visitor of your website has a question in mind. For example, if a user saw your advert showing an image of a great new car that costs $18,999. Your user‘s question may be, “Is that price real?” or “Is the car as good as its image and price tag suggests?” or even “Do they have a financing option so I can buy that car?

You are going to lose your lead and/or any hope of a conversion if your website doesn’t answer the question that the user has. On the one hand, you need to tailor your landing pages correctly, and on the other hand, you need to make sure that your landing pages and your off-page marketing are in sync.

Related: How to Create High-Performing Landing Pages

#2) An Olympic Hurdler Walks Into A Bar – He Should Have Jumped Higher

Stop treating your website like a popular bar. When you walk into a bar, you casually glance at the barmaid and ask for a drink. Your website is not a bar, it is more like a car sales lot. Do people walk into car sales lots and casually ask to buy a car?

Stop offering people links and purchases on the top third of the landing page. The reason you are losing leads is because you are asking them to buy or to navigate away before your website has had the chance to sell to them.

Leave your links to other sales pages, and leave your buyable items for other pages or for later on down the page. Only the most popular items may have such elements on their landing pages. They only work if the buyer is a very hot lead who has visited the page specifically to make a purchase or to convert. Be careful with the content, you should provide enough information, but not too much. Google ranks pages higher with more text, but your main target is customer, so create content for them.

Related: Google Warns (Yet Again!) about Article Creation and Link Building

#3) The Use Of Trust Building Elements

In some cases, the trust logos say things such as “MacAfee Secure” or “SSL Value” or even “100% Satisfaction guaranteed.” However, these trust logos and shields are massive causes of mistrust in most cases.

Think about a government website. Is it full of “100% money back guarantees” and “Scan Alert Hacker Safe” logos? Of course they are not because they are already trusted. The websites that use these trust logos the most are ones that cannot be trusted. They are used the most by scammers and spammers because they need to use them. Untrustworthy websites have used them so much that people don’t trust those types of logos anymore.

Related: Create a Sophisticated Website using DIY Website Builder

#4) The Use Of Tired And Overused Wordage

Only with our effective and innovative web copy will your business engineer a successful and highly profitable marketing plan that will boost your sales efficiency and dramatically increase your profits. With the use of synergy, cost-effective modes, streamlining and power-planning, you can become a member of the master elite. Your web copy can join the upper echelons of social and business leadership where you may strike out on your own to become as successful as you design.

I think you get the idea! The paragraph above is an example of over-used and fluffy power words that mean nothing. People are used to reading the same old fluff over and over again. They can smell tired and overused words and phrases to the point where such phrases, sentences and words lose all credibility very quickly.

#5) Landing Pages With Pop-Up Notifications

Popups are like a vile plague on the Internet. If you want to research something, you will soon become tired and irritable when every website you reach asks you for your email address.  Worse still are the websites that throw up an advert that your popup blockers just cannot stop, especially when throw up an advert when you are part-way through reading the first paragraph.

There are many writing services reviews that complain about a particularly stupid trend that is moving through essay writing services websites at the moment. It is pop-ups that say something such as “Sorry you are leaving” or “Do you really want to leave?

Firstly, if you chose to leave–then you decided to, so where is the logic in asking people if they want to leave? Secondly, a, “Sorry you are leaving” popup is viciously annoying, and many essay writing services have it set up so it pops up when students click internal links, which means they are not trying to leave, but they get the pop up anyway. Please avoid any type of pop up unless you are specifically attracting aimless web surfers who have nothing better to do than sign up for newsletters.

Related: Outsourcing Content: Where To Look And Tips For Getting It Done

None of this is common sense

If it were common sense, then people wouldn’t keep making these mistakes. If you are making any of these mistakes, then just go right back to your website and make suitable changes. Do not be taken in by the sellers of pop-up adverts and things of that nature. They may claim that such things will increase your newsletter signup by 200%, but they don’t mention the 400% drop in repeat traffic because you have annoyed your regular users so much that they have abandoned your website. Go over each of the points made above and amend your web strategy accordingly.

Author Bio:

Robert Morris is a freelance writer and a blog editor at askpetersen.com. He is a regular contributor to Lifehack, Digital Information World and Template Monster. He writes about product management, marketing, business and lead generation.

Google Warns (Yet Again!) about Article Creation and Link Building

Google Warns (Yet Again!) about Article Creation and Link Building

Indeed, you can never doubt the many benefits that link building can provide. On top of shepherding quality traffic towards your site, it also helps you establish a rock solid brand and maintain a strong following from among your target audience. But as with any other tool, link-building (and in a related manner, article creation) have a lot of drawbacks – drawbacks that are frowned upon by search engines such as Google.

In particular, Google has warned yet again of unbridled article creation for the purpose of building links. Especially for companies that depend on blogging to broaden their brand’s appeal, Google’s recent red flag spells volumes about its campaign to rid the search engines of “spammy links” and bad content masquerading as guest posts. Google’s guidelines clearly ask enterprises to refrain from the following:

  • Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles
  • Having the articles published across many different sites; alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites
  • Using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on
  • Using the same or similar content across these articles; alternatively, duplicating the full content of articles found on your own site (in which case use of rel=”canonical”, in addition to rel=”nofollow”, is advised)

Check out our early predictions and the latest SEO trends – A preview of how SEO changes in 2017

Be it as it may, this is nothing new compared to Google’s reiterations in the past, as Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable puts it:

Truth is, there is absolutely nothing new about what is written there. If you do guest blogging or article publishing for the purpose of link building, with the intent of manipulating Google’s search results – then that is something Google can and does penalize for.

Still, even if it were an issue that isn’t as relevant as it was before, proper link-building and article creation should abide by the rules. This is not just to comply with Google’s requirements for a leveled playing field in the SEO arena, but also to ensure that potential clients can acquire the kind of information they are looking for.

In this case, effective content creation is the only way to go. Google has encouraged companies and enterprises to focus much of their resources in improving their old blogs and posting articles that are actually readable, insightful, and meaningful to their target audiences. Take these reminders when crafting your next content:

Obviously, companies have already prioritized these in their checklist for effective digital marketing. The only problem, not many are going the right path when it comes to optimizing their sites and creating consumable content.

Well, lucky for them, we have all the information a company needs to up their marketing game.

8 Clever WordPress Design Tricks to grab your Visitor’s Attention

Today, websites have become a commanding way to promote businesses. It can be used as a marketing tool, a way of communication, or a platform for branding. The design of your website will play a vital role in how users will perceive your brand. It is proven on researches that a well-built, informative, and organized website generates more traffic and trust from users.

While being creative plays a key role, there are basic rules in web designing to guarantee that your site will be effective and attractive as well. Below are 8 tips we’ve come up with in creating a perfect website:

Keep it Simple and Creative

The design and content of your website is the first thing that catches users’ interest and attention. It is your brand. Users are looking for components that are informative, they want to see content which are relevant to them and easy to understand. Use simple languages to describe your products or services; you can even insert a picture or two to convey your message clearly. Readers want to effectively find what they are looking for at first sight.

In designing a website, always keep in mind the principles of simplicity while being creative. It is important to consider different factors in designing a website to attract your target user base and keep them engaged. Create a simple layout first for the pages of your site. Plan the position and alignment of the content, spread of white space, font size and style, color palette, etc. Use proper white spaces to make your content look clean and words distinguished. The content should not be inept to avoid confusion from your visitors.

Related: 3 Design Best Practices to Fine-Tune Your Next Content for Visual Learners

Integrate a Smart Choice of Colors

Color plays an important role in your website’s appearance. Choosing the right combination can make your website look professional and attractive at the same time. Researching the value and meaning of colors can help you in choosing the perfect palette for your website. Use a combination of colors that complement each other to make your content more readable and refrain from using bright or bold colors that may strain the eyes of your visitors. Always remember that the key to choosing the perfect color scheme is keeping it simple.


White space is often referred to as negative space. It is the portion of a page left blank or unmarked. It isn’t actually white, the space can be filled with any color you want as long it has no content. In incorporating white space in your design, think about the whole layout of your page. Putting spaces between the elements will help your page to be more readable and enhance user experience.

A white space can also make a page look professional, proficient, and elegant. It organizes the content of your page and helps in creating focus and attention. Separating the content of your page also gives the visitors’ eyes room to relax.

Mobile Compatibility

Internet users nowadays spend more time surfing the internet with their mobile device so it is very important to create a mobile-compatible website. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to make your website mobile-friendly like using a responsive web design or mobile editor applications. A responsive web design basically means your website will automatically adjust its layout and design to the size of the device your visitor is using.

Related: Adapting to the Dynamic SEO Landscape in 2017 and Beyond

Optimize Loading Time

One of the most important things that people tend to forget to consider in creating a website is its loading time. No one likes a website that takes a lot of time to load. The last thing you want is for visitors to lose interest, leave and move on to other websites that load faster. Aside from losing user engagement, a slow website can also lower its rank on search engines.

There are many things you can optimize to speed up your website. You can remove unnecessary elements, reduce image size, avoiding flash, and keeping the content of your pages minimal. You have to learn to balance the content of your website by knowing what resources you have and which ones will meet the needs and wants of your target audience. Once you’re done, you can check your website’s loading time using a site speed testing service.

Easy Navigation

Another important thing in designing a website is easy navigation. Without navigation, a website can look formless. Having an easy-to-use navigation is a way to ensure that visitors will spend more time exploring your website. While keeping it simple, navigation should also be of good quality and organize so that your visitors can navigate between pages easily. Keep in mind that having varying navigation might give your visitors an impression that they’re browsing different sites, so make sure to be consistent and use the same navigation in all the pages and subpages of your website.

Informative Content

Users visit a website for its content. It’s the first thing that will catch their attention. Consider the content of your website as a tool that will build your brand. In creating the content of your website, make sure that you have a clear purpose and objective. Online visitors are looking for significant, intriguing, and easy-to-understand information.

When planning content, it helps to think of it like an advertisement, wherein you’re sharing information in as few words as possible making your visitors interested and wanting for more. Make the objective clear. Use simple and easy-to-understand words in describing your products or services, and refrain from using too many technical terms. Having informative content that looks clean, organize, and proficient is what will make your website stand out. Check out The Five Elements of Quality Content (According to an End-user)

Social media

Social media networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many others play a necessary and important role in promoting a business. It has become a marketing tool and support for businesses and organizations. It is also considered as one of the most important tools in cultivating and improving a brand. With people’s insatiable appetite to share new information, including a social media badge on your website will provide an easy option for your visitors to share and even recommend your link, posts, or products without leaving your site.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Prospects Aren’t Responding To Your Social Media Posts

These simple tips can get you started. Building an attractive website does not need to be complicated, it’s almost always about getting the basics right and the willingness to learn to be better at it. There are also numerous blogs, sites, and books about web design out there you can check that can help you.

Latest SEO Trends – A preview of how SEO changes in 2017

In the past few years, SEO has completely changed its meaning.

From simply matching the user search term – through providing useful information – to addressing user queries at a greater level of ease and speed. SEO has become a marketing tool that is more about processing user queries rather than being a channel of increasing business revenue.

Google says that they change their search algorithm 1-2 times per day (around 500 times a year) just to improve their user experience. And only those websites can rank higher in search results that are built around the same objective.

Initially, Google would only focus on finding the exact match of “strings of words” entered by users to display search results. But after countering the highest level of spamming and lower user satisfaction, Google now considers only those websites to rank in SERPs that are useful to its users. Everything else is penalized.

Based on these recent updates by Google and the ever-changing user behavior, we believe the following 5 SEO trends can be seen in 2017.

  1. Rankbrain

This is an artificial intelligence system launched by Google in October 2015, which brought a new level of user experience and SEO challenge in 2016, and is expected to show its full potential in2017.

Currently, the system tries to identify the behavior/language of the users by analyzing the words/phrases searched by them and keeping a record of what sort of results they choose. Then it uses its advanced formulas to bring the most relevant results each time the same query is searched by a user. And it is also equally effective at handling search queries never seen before.

In the coming year 2017, we expect Rank Brain to present greater challenge for search marketers as it continues to understand different user behavior for both text and voice search.

  1. Voice Search

Even though it was introduced a few years back (in 2013), but not many users showed interest in voice search until the end of 2015.

A survey conducted in 2013, showed around 85% of respondents had not used voice search at all. But a similar study conducted in December 2015 showed over 60% of respondents using it for some personally preferred search terms. And ever since, there has been a constant rise in the popularity of voice search. In2017, we expect voice search to bring new opportunities for marketers as it attracts more user attention this year.

  1. Bounce Rate

Just like being an important quality measure of an Adwords campaign, Bounce Rate of a website is known to have great influence on the organic rankings of a website too. The web pages with high bounce rates are considered to be less preferred by users (particularly for their search term). For example, a user searching for Chicago seo techniques may not be interested in SEO tips from a marketer based in Australia. And as soon as he realizes that the SEO recommendations are made by an expert outside Chicago, he clicks the back button without exploring the website.

Google now considers bounce rate as an important ranking factor for search results. So, it will be more challenging for marketers to match up with this quality parameter in the coming year.

  1. Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP)

For users who browse the web on-the-go, the major reason for poor web experience is the unstable internet connection. And Google planned to counter this issue by introducing the AMPopen source platform that lets webmasters create pre-renderable Mobile-friendly version of the websites that is super lightweight and is critically designed to load quickly even with an unstable internet connection.

And ever since the idea of AMP got popular and appreciated by all mobile users, Google has now introduced a mobile-friendly indexing system that checks each website for AMP files and ranks those sites higher in SERPs which are mobile phone compatible. This new trend is believed to bring a new level of SEO competition and opportunities in the year 2017.

  1. High-Quality Links

One of the oldest yet consistently important ranking factors for all search engines is the quality of backlinks pointing to a website. Google in particular has strict guidelines for creating backlinks for a website. It discourages a webmaster from getting involved in unnatural link-building techniques like large-scale article marketing, directory submission, link exchanges, paid links, and more.

Google is still very active in penalizing such websites employing unnatural link-building techniques. Therefore, the best way to ensure a high-ranking performing website in 2017 is by creating unique, useful, relevant content that your users like to share with others, which ultimately generates more backlinks for your site. The more informative or useful content you have, the greater are your chances of getting linked by your readers.

Apart from the SEO trends listed above, there are some other critical SEO quality parameters like Microformats, Incorrect Robots.txt, Browser Caching, Active Social Profiles, Brand Searches, HTTP Page Requests that cannot be ignored in 2017. A marketer must keep updated with the latest SEO trends and design super-actionable strategies to get higher search rankings.

Increase your sales and revenue with Better Lead Generation Strategy!

Here’s How to Manage Google’s Mobile First Indexing for SMBs

With the official announcement that Google is switching to mobile-first indexing, some small businesses might find themselves calling for help. SEO; being the all-important topic to consider whenever placing your brand on the internet, takes a major role in this message. What steps does your company need to take in order to overcome this update?

It’s actually here!

It’s been a highly debated and forecasted topic since the release of Google’s Penguin 4.0 update and their Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project. Finally, it was announced at this past month’s Pubcon Las Vegas that Google is now officially switching to mobile-first indexing.

The webmaster trends analyst at Google, Gray Illyes was the bearer of (maybe not-so) bad news, when he stated that Google would roll out a separate mobile index within the next couple of months. With the aforementioned service updates and the fact that there are more Google searches that take place with people using their smart phone or tablet devices than computers, this update was anything but surprising. For those that are not as keen in the area of search indexing, Pubcon explains the significance of it in their news article:

“History, Google has had a desktop index. That means they are crawling the desktop site, determining the relationship to the mobile site, and then they rank the mobile version of your pages based on the desktop version/desktop signals… Nowadays, since 85% of their (Google’s) results are mobile-friendly already and more than half of the search queries are from mobile devices, it makes sense to switch over the desktop index to a mobile index.”

Yes, this is all very nice and informative, but what does this mean for Mobile SEO and the future of web development?

Why Oh Why?

Cheer up! Just remember this one statement: The trend is your friend.

If you’re the type of company that remains relevant and up to date with tech movements, you already know that Google loves (and I mean loves) to keep their software in line with current market directions. The trend we are seeing now is clearly this evolution of on the go cellular usage.

Image Source: www.aumcore.com

As beautifully put in this blog post;

“The internet is no longer parameterized by this huge desktop that sits on a desk in our living room and office but rather, it’s a way of life – something we’re all connected to during most points of our day.”

Due to this style of thinking, Google considerably favors mobile-friendly websites over sites that inhibit a consumer’s mobile user experience (UX). The issue with indexing a website purely off its desktop page is that Google’s not evaluating the actual site that would inevitably be viewed by someone searching off their smartphone. This is why this mobile first-index change has decisively been released. They will continue to generously rank pages that can easily be viewed on smartphones or tablets; and consequently, the search engine crawlers/algorithms Google has in place will condemn your brand’s website if it doesn’t work well on a cellular/ tablet device. All Google really wants to do, is to build a search experience enjoyable for both smartphone and desktop users. This creates the question:

What actions does your business need to take in order to fight Google’s mobile-first indexing?

How you can be prepared for Google’s mobile first indexing

This terribly important shift in the search engine’s indexing will, unfortunately, leave many websites out in no man’s land. Luckily, Google offers some recommendations on their official announcement page to make sure your brand doesn’t suffer:

  • If you have a responsive site where the content is the same across both desktop and mobile, you are in great condition and don’t need to worry about changing anything.
  • If the above isn’t your case, you should consider to serve structured markup for both your brand’s desktop and mobile versions.
  • Verify your mobile site ownership on Google.
  • If you still only have a desktop site, Google will continue to index your desktop like normal, even if they are utilizing a mobile user agent to scope out your site.
  • Only launch your mobile site when you are sure it is ready.

In a nutshell, the only pages that will be affected are the ones that have a mobile version, which doesn’t have the same content as its desktop counterpart. Reconsider how your desktop pages are constructed. Let’s say for example your desktop homepage has some content that’s missing on the smartphone version. Maybe this is an opportunity to rework how you display items on your desktop page so that it molds into an architecturally sound cellular site. Keep in mind that a good user experience goes a long way, especially now in the eyes of Google.

Traditionally speaking, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has and always will be based on how well your website looks in the eyes of search engines. Strategic keyword density, backlink building, content creation, etc. achieve this. With the entire world going cellular, this approach slightly changes. Now web developers have to pay even more attention to how well a website looks in the hands of a user. Things to ask yourself now are:

  • How well formatted is my website?
  • Are the pages easily navigable?
  • How fast can my mobile site load?
  • Is my site responsive? Is the content easily searchable and usable? Are there unplayable videos within the structure of my web?

What Next?

The biggest concept to understand from this update is that if you haven’t been keeping up with your common SEO practices, you need to start now. Just remember to think mobile-first. Reevaluate your business goals, so that they align with the notion that mobility is key in our tech-savvy day in age.

With a good content strategy, your small business can achieve exactly what this software change is promoting; a superior and exciting web browsing experience through Google’s search engine.

Confession of a Google Spammer

For a black hat seo practitioner, linkbuilding was a goldmine. But all bad things must come to an end, including spamming.

Here’s an article by Jeff Deutsch, Ptengine’s VP of Marketing, as he confesses and unveils the cloak of his dark past. For someone who started as a Google spammer, a backflip to Whitehat and inbound marketing is a tough battle yet a couple of things made him realize that these practices must be retired.

Before I became an inbound marketer, I once made $50,000 a month spamming Google. I worked a maximum of 10 hours a week. And I am telling you from the bottom of my heart: never, never ever follow in my footsteps.

This blog post will tell you exactly why...

My Mindset in 2009

I never wanted to spam the Internet. Google made me do it.

This is what I told myself back then.

If spamming is so wrong, I wondered, how come it always works so well? Most black hat SEOs think this way. They rationalize spamming Google’s index in so many ways:

  • We’re helping Google improve their algorithm!
  • Content is king?!? LOL! Links are the only content you need. Google’s lying to people. They deserve to get spammed.
  • If we don’t do spam, our competitors will–and then they’ll beat us. We have to spam.
  • We’re helping our customers–the little guy–win the battle against a big, bad, evil empire that wants to enslave them to paying PPC costs!
Black hat SEOs: masters of ethical rationalization

But there I was, responsible for Google adding 45,000,000 new words of spam to its index every day. I had built a spam machine; the thing was brilliant enough to give my clients huge SEO ranking boosts (this was before KontentMachine and all the other spam-producing software out there now).

Some examples of my “work”:

 Some samples of my automated article creation “work” c. 2009

Spamming was very profitable back in 2012

Sales of our SEO SaaS subscriptions peaked at around $150,000 a month in subscriptions. Profit margins were about 70-80%. All profits were shared 50/50 between my partner and I. We had two sales threads—one on WarriorForum and another on WickedFire.

Here’s what a few hours of sales looked like back then:

An average couple hours of income at my company during the high times. These would all magically appear after I returned from a swim, playing with my son at the park, or from playing pickup basketball with the local islanders.

PayPal had no idea how I was suddenly making so much money. They were so confused about my business model that they froze $25,000 in my account. They expected massive refund and chargeback requests.

But our refund/chargeback rate was less than 1%.
Because our SEO service worked.

Most of our users were ranking high for big affiliate keywords. I even got my electrician buddy’s website in New Jersey to rank in first place for the keyword “electrician” just for fun. I could literally rank first page for any keyword I wanted to with about 5 minutes of effort.

And my life became very easy as a result. I had two apartments on an island in China with 180-degree panorama views of Sanya Bay–one for myself, and one for my son’s mom.

I barely worked.

Our entire business was outsourced to 7 VAs in the Philippines and one transgender customer support rep in Nevada who was saving up her salary to complete her hormone therapy.

My schedule looked like this:

  • 7:00am: Wake up, do some stretching and play with my two-year-old son while my chef prepared breakfast.
  • 8:00am: Eat breakfast and watch an NBA game (the Clippers, if they had a game) while eating breakfast. The nanny watched my son.
  • 9:30am: Check in with my partner and employees, Facebook, and chat with my two journalist friends in Beijing.
  • 11:00am: BS on Skype with some SEO spammer buddies for a bit.
  • 12:30pm: Ride my scooter to the gym.
  • 1:00pm: Run 10km, lift weights.
  • 3:00pm: Go for a swim in the ocean or the neighborhood pool.
  • 3:30pm: Play with my son and his friends.
  • 5:00pm: Play basketball at the court with maintenance workers and tourists staying in my neighborhood.
  • 7:00pm: Shower, then dinner, prepared by my chef.
  • 8:00pm: Put my son to bed.
  • 9:00pm: Check in on Skype, BS online, read books.
  • 11:00pm: Sleep.

Lonely SEO Spammer Millionaires

The above schedule is what a spammer’s four-hour workweek looks like. And it’s the life of a lot of black hats that are still balling today. It’s a comfortable but often dull and somewhat empty life.

The most exciting (and nerve-wracking) times are when the loophole you’re exploiting gets closed, and your life flips upside down while you scramble to adjust.

During the boring times, my other spammer buddies and I would BS on Skype about our lives. One guy made $100k a week for a time selling garcinia cambogia pills after Dr. Oz fraudulently proclaimed them to be a magic weight loss supplement.

One woman focused on morally shady but technically legal niches like bath salts, salvia, and access to guides on how to cheat on your spouse. Yet another guy (also in China, like me) was working with prison wardens who forced their inmates to mine World of Warcraft gold for sale online.

All three bought links from me.
They spent their earnings like spoiled little kids.

They bought luxury cars and $5,000 bottles of champagne to spray their spammer buddies at conventions. They ate ADHD medication like candy, trying to stay awake and focused to work as long as possible. They traded NLP secrets to work on their powers of female seduction. When that didn’t pan out there was always the old staples of prostitutes and cocaine. Many practiced intensive bodybuilding, and took steroids, HGH, and weird supplements like deer antler sprays to hack their muscle growth.

With all that money and privilege at stake, the brotherhood of spammers is merciless and ultra secretive. If you fail to attribute a useful tip to the person you found it out from, expect to be shunned. Expose an SEO loophole that made your buddy money, and you’re excommunicated. Betray the ‘family’, and you’ll get kicked out of the Skype group forever. It’s like the Sopranos except instead of wise guys, your family is made up of awkward tech nerds who have cashed in and want to live out all their fantasies.

Google Made Us Do It

I hadn’t originally wanted to go down this path. Ironically, I had applied to work for Google’s webspam team in 2010. I knew all the tricks and hacks in the book, and I thought they could benefit from my help.

When they didn’t reply to my application, I promised myself I would make them pay.
And I had them paying for a few years…

Until one day, Matt Cutts sent out this historic tweet:

The tweet that shook the SEO world
The tweet that shook the SEO world

ALN (Authority Link Network) was the platform we used to boost ranking for all of our users’ websites. Our service was actually called “ALN service”— a fact that helped increase awareness of the network and ironically hastened its demise.

There was a time when our service was one of the hottest things going on WarriorForum. We had found SEO spammer nirvana, and everyone wanted a piece.

Dozens of guys using our service quit their day jobs to open up SEO businesses that relied almost exclusively on our service. Our biggest client, an SEO company that offered reputation management services for celebrities in Mexico, was paying us $25,000 a month and probably charging its clients up to 50 to 100 times more than that. I only realized how hard they were balling when they showed up on the Inc. 500 list in 2012.

But now there was this tweet from Matt Cutts, warning to take the network we relied on out of commission. When our clients asked about the tweet, I pretended I wasn’t the least bit concerned about it. Publicly, I scoffed. How could they find a network of 25,000 blogs? If they took it out, we’d just build a new one.

No big deal..

Privately, I was very concerned. I knew it was easy for Google to find every site in the network. Because all they had to do was buy a few links to one website, wait for those links to show up, then have every website receiving links from that blog manually reviewed. That review would uncover other spam blogs linking to those sites, which would then uncover more cheaters, and so forth.

In fact, from one spam site you can, and Google did, locate and destroy the entire ALN network. To us, it felt like we were the freedom fighters of Zion in the Matrix. The Google guys were like the agents, sending out Sentinels to take us out. Google, of course, saw it the other way around. We were hacking their algorithm and mucking up their search results for fun and profit.

The psychology of spamming for money--spammers always think they’ll “go legit someday soon” 
How Google + SEO is like the Matrix

Publicly, I proclaimed that we were the good guys and Google was the evil empire. But in my heart I knew we were the bad guys.

Google provides clean search results for free, which truly benefits society. What does spamming the Internet provide for society? It helps two people: the spammer and his customer. Everyone else suffers.

And I knew it was shady. Part of me always dreamed of running a more legitimate business model. But it was just like Michael Corleone telling his wife Kaye that his business would be 100% straight in 5 years—there was just too much incentive to keep on spamming.

The psychology of spamming for money--spammers always think they’ll “go legit someday soon”
The psychology of spamming for money–
Spammers always think they’ll “go legit someday soon”

I was a hardened, unapologetic spammer. To the real marketing world, I was an outcast. And that became all too clear when I went to Distilled’s LinkLove event in London in April 2012.

Seeing the writing on the wall: the death of link building

My Dutch partner and I had found out about LinkLove from one of our favorite customers. Our customer was scheduled to speak there, so we bought all-inclusive tickets to the event and made plans to meet up there.

Right after we got our tickets, our customer dropped out of the speaker role without explanation. (This was right around the time ALN was getting deindexed, so maybe he was doing damage control with his clients whose rankings were dropping like flies.)

My partner and I went anyway, feeling like confident marketing experts with our massive PayPal bankroll. Those few days in London, however, opened my eyes to how the fledgling world of inbound marketing saw black hats.

We had dinner with all the VIPs the night before the event. Rand Fishkin and Mike King were there. Many other heavy hitters in online marketing were also there.

They were all talking about inbound marketing, quality content, engagement, and a bunch of stuff I didn’t understand or considered “BS.”

None of them seemed very interested in what we were doing.

“F#$%! Link Building”

Their beef with us was even clearer when Rand took the stage to kick off LinkLove 2012. My ego had already taken a hit after the lukewarm response at the dinner, but I never expected the onslaught that Rand would unleash.

He took the stage with a big smile, introduced himself and then proceeded with this presentation called “F#$%! Link Building”.

My heart sank.

I went from slightly butt-hurt to outright angry and defiant. He was insulting our entire industry. I imagine that this is the feeling Michael Corleone, from Godfather II, felt when Senator Geary called him out in the meeting about the casino rights he wanted.

 How Rand Fishkin sees link builders

I swore I wouldn’t let Google make us stop hustlin’. But Rand was right. Within 2 months, our entire network of 5,000+ blogs—for which we paid more than $80,000—was deindexed, dead, simply kaput. Our $100k/mo business was ruined.

However, I remained arrogant and defiant. I still believed that making money online would be easy. I thought I could just make some minor adjustments to our strategy and keep on banging out new successful products.

I funneled more than $100,000 into various new link schemes, each one more “white hat”-seeming than the next.

Nothing worked for long. Google’s deindexing, plus Panda and Penguin, were just too much of a challenge for us. I would put in 3 months of work, get 4 months of sales, and either almost break even or have a huge deficit.

I felt discouraged and depressed. I tried to buy myself some fancy clothes and toys to feel better about myself. I immersed myself in a shallow relationship with a model who would end up being Miss Universe China 2014. I took weekly hiking trips with my friends in the hills of Beijing on psychadelic mushrooms.

I was an empty shell of a human being, lost with no sense of purpose or what to do with my future. With anxiety levels at an all-time high, I could only sleep 2-3 hours a night. Most people I met at that time felt uneasy around me.


And I wasn’t the only one having trouble adapting to the post-deindexing world. The Google-hating spammers reached their official low-point when SEOnitro (another public blog network) tried to start a class action lawsuit against Google for intentionally doing harm to many “competing businesses.”

Seriously guys? That’s like spray painting your business’s phone number on someone else’s building, then trying to sue them when they paint over it.

Giving Up, Embracing Inbound and Getting a Job

After 18 months of banging my head against a wall, I started thinking about that LinkLove conference again. What if I started over? What could I have built with that $100,000 I had wasted chasing loopholes in Google’s algorithm? How much awesome content could I have gotten? How many email subscribers could I have gained?

Maybe there was something to that inbound marketing thing Rand and Mike had talked about so passionately after all.

Maybe it was the way for me to really go legit.

So, I moved back to Beijing and put out the word to my friends. I was ready for a marketing job. I got a few offers, but none struck me like the one from Ptengine. They were a small startup making what I would later call “the Swiss army knife of conversion optimization tools.”

They had been successful in Japan, but now they wanted to enter the English-speaking market. They wanted to double their number of users over the next 2 months to show the VC firm looking to invest in them that they were able to achieve rapid growth.

They wanted me to help them with the powers of SEO. I told Ptengine that SEO wouldn’t work. Google’s new rankings sandbox wouldn’t allow it to work. I wanted to go with the safe route.

They were confused.

“What about PBNs?”, they asked. “We’re working with a very well known SEO blogger in the UK who has tens of thousands of email subscribers. He’s building PBNs for us”. I looked at the properties this SEO “god” had built. (Actually, it turned out he just outsourced the SEO work to a company in London.)

It was like opening a time capsule from 2012. Expired domains, duplicate content scraped from Archive.org, he didn’t even block backlink checking spiders. His reasoning: “blocking spiders would look like a footprint to Google.”

I felt a pang of sympathy for Ptengine. They had already dumped $4,000 into this operation. The whole thing was shocking to me. Even the SEO gurus who talked about inbound marketing were still trying to get by with loopholes.

My Stubborn Support for Inbound Marketing

I was undeterred by the SEO guru.
I went on with my newfound ideals instead.

By using a variety of outreach methods, including permission emails, sponsored posts, social media, and a very successful deal on StackSocial, we hit the VC’s goals. They bought in with very aggressive growth goals for 2015.

And I intend to keep going this route. We just started working with Joanna Wiebe at SnapCopy.co(whom Shanelle Mullin of Onboardly said might be “the best SaaS copywriter in North America”) and Talia Wolf at Conversioner.com to optimize our entire funnel.

We’re also getting plenty of adopters and influencers to get us case studies that we will promote to targeted segments that need Ptengine. In fact, all content will take all targeted audiences to various inbound funnels that are only meant to give them value.

Hear all that talk about content?

In short, after 5 years of considering white hats and inbound marketers to be snobs, I’m finally drinking the Kool-Aid.

You win, Google.

Content is king.

Jeff Deutsch, Ptengine‘s VP of Marketing, wrote this blog post for two reasons. 1) To warn against the anxiety-inducing treadmill of using black hat SEO to get traffic, and 2) To express why he finally gave in and accepted the necessity to use inbound marketing.

 Original Source: Confession of a Google Spammer

A plus for your brand: Generating leads with Google+

Social media platforms have established themselves as great lead generators when it comes to brand awareness and sales. Among them is social networking site Google+, which puts itself at the forefront when it comes to setting up business pages.

Its seamless integration with search engine Google gives Google+ content and engagement the best SEO benefits, putting your brand ahead of search rankings for potential customers to immediately notice.

These customers now shy away from hard sell and are looking for genuine content they can relate and engage with – and Google+ is the best place to do that! Here are some ways to generate leads through this social networking platform.

Start – and continue – with compelling content

This is how your customers will see you. Make sure your Google+ page is filled with well-written content that’s curated and valuable to your audience. This includes information about your brand, as well as related content that may not necessarily be about the brand itself but lends credibility to it. Include links to your website or your other social media accounts.

As mentioned, the benefit of Google+ above all other social media platforms is its inherent precedence in organic search rankings, driving your page on top of that search result page.

Make it visual

People like seeing pretty pictures. Include visual content like photos and videos (even popular GIFs!) to your posts, as these tend to have better engagement with audiences and are likelier to be shared to friends. Images on Google+ can be turned into links, which allows your audience to click through the photo and land on your website or any other content about your brand.

Bonus tips: A Lesson in Lead Generation: Add Some Sauce to your Storytelling

Target the correct audience

Google+ allows for filtering followers in Circles, which can be used to segment your audience according to what kind of message your brand wants to send out. Hashtags are also another way to attract the right customers, using the correct keywords that will bring them to your page and see your content. The “+” sign also allows you to address another person directly by tagging them.

Bonus tips: Building your Brand? Create Productive B2B Social Campaigns with these Tips

Mind the frequency of your posts

Content optimization is not just about what you post and where you post, but when you post it. Review your audience’s behavior and determine when the best time is to post your content; too few and they will forget your existence, while too many may overwhelm them and make them tune out.

The lead generation opportunities on Google+, combined with its innate SEO advantages, are enough reasons for businesses to consider the platform as one of their best options when it comes to building their business online.

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You might also like:

5 Rich Media for Enhancing your Brand’s Influence in Google+

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Generating Hotel Leads, Now More Important than Ever

Search Marketing for Dummies: Stuff you might not know about SEO

Stuff You Dont Know About SEO

We know the essence of search engine optimization and how it is used in marketing and in other fields. By definition, it is the intervention of the visibility of a website or other web contents to increase its ranking in the search results listings. But if you think it’s as simple as that, think again.

Here are some things you need know about search engine optimization:

It isn’t just about keywords

Bombarding web contents with keywords will not guarantee a rank increase in search results listing. This is because Google uses a new search algorithm called Hummingbird. This search algorithm enables Google to reassess particular web contents semantically. It does not only define every keyword but on how it was used in a sentence. To address this, digital marketers should create quality contents that define the keyword and use it in the way its sheer definition will be emphasized.

It isn’t just about You

If you think you have done enough on SEO to lead the search results listings, you are wrong. Just as how the logic behind SEO changes, so does the players in this game. Just like you, they can use SEO to promote their products and they keep on learning the best ways of E-marketing. Innovation in this field never stops; find new ways to further improve product promotion, lead generation, and customer satisfaction.

It’s about the entire Web

One mistake of most digital marketers is that they only focus their E-marketing strategies on their company website and forgot the other 1 billion websites within the web network. Use SEO not only with the on-site contents, but also with other web channels like social media, video sharing sites, blogs, and more.

It’s also about Social Media

SEO and social media integration is an advanced E-marketing strategy that uses the features of both for a doubled result. Social media has been used as a factor in SEO processes. Digitals marketers have been using social media functions in virtually linking their products and services to its target market to build social integrity.

It’s about Google

Among search engines, Google is the biggest with more than 3.5 billion searches per day. Focus on Google’s search engine optimization standards. Moreover, Google’s search algorithm constantly progresses and is getting intelligent based on the shifting trends and user activities; so you have to adapt to this changes to keep you on-track.

It’s about Quality Content

As mentioned, strengthening online presence through SEO is not solely dependent on the number a keyword that was used but on how it was used. In Ascend2’s “SEO Marketing Benchmark Summary” Report, creating a quality content is the most effective SEO tactic, though it is also the most difficult to implement. Focus on the strengths and features of your company; make clear, interesting, and influential.

Search engine optimization is more than what we think it is.  It offers more useful functions, use this as a competitive advantage to lead not only the search result listing but in the entire modern marketing.

Source : http://www.business2community.com/infographics/top-8-surprising-seo-facts-know-infographic-0965850?utm_source=B2C&utm_medium=Trending-Widget 

Improve your B2B Lead Generation Blogging: 3 steps to follow

Improve your B2B Lead Generation Blogging 3 steps to follow

Lead generation marketers can no longer underestimate the power of online blogging as a tool to seek and communicate with B2B leads. It used to be just a bonus activity to complement SEO and website activities, but now it has become a major channel in absorbing traffic and interaction from the audience.

Whether you agree or not, there’s actually a difference between a quality blog and a mediocre blog. Some would say it doesn’t matter as long as it has the right keywords and the right sharing strategy. Not true. The substance of a blog post can still draw the line between truly engaging prospects and just throwing them away.

Take it from Marketo, as they share 3 major steps in taking your blogging activities to the next level:

1. Establish a cadence you can maintain.

Don’t make a huge commitment to your blog before you’ve written a single post. Start small – you don’t have to post everyday, or even every other day. The most important thing is to be consistent. If you find that a few posts a week is no problem, you can gradually bump up your output.

To ensure your blog’s consistent output, it’s important to establish who will be responsible for maintaining it.

2. Find something to write about.

It should go without saying that your blog isn’t purely a place to pitch your newest product or talk about your company’s latest accomplishments. The sweet spot of your blog’s content is the intersection of two groups of topics: topics that your company can speak credibly to, and topics that your audience is interested in.

Generate a list of your company’s “areas of expertise,” and then make a list of subjects within those areas that your audience is likely to care about.

3. Test and recalibrate

It happens to the best of us – you have a topic you’re excited to write about, and you’re sure that your audience will be just as excited to read it…but you’re wrong. The upside is that, as long as you’re measuring engagement with your blog, even mistakes add a new data point to your future planning.

Experiment with a variety of topics, but also test different styles of titles, different kinds of calls-to-action, and different ways of promoting your blog on social media. You might be surprised by the difference a hot hashtag or a provocative title can make.

Source: The 3-Step Guide to Better Blogging

On-Page SEO: The Essential Blogging Checklist

On-Page SEO- The Essential Blogging Checklist

When was the last time you’ve ran a check on your blog? Perhaps you’ve been so caught up with figuring out why nothing’s working that you’ve forgotten to evaluate whether certain elements are present in the first place.

For a lead generation blog to be effective, it must be firing on all cylinders. It’s not just about the quality of the content. It’s also about other technical aspects that help make your blog a complete package. That’s the essence of assessing and improving on-page SEO.

Now’s your chance to give your blog the ultimate test. OnlineMarketingInsitute.com offers this comprehensive checklist for lead generation blogging. Go over the list and see how your efforts fare:

Your page title is key. While the content itself is the most important element on the page, the title comes in a close second.

Use the meta description. The meta description is a block of text that offers a great opportunity to sell the page contents and alert users that this is what they were looking for.

Check the URL. Make sure the URL is relevant to the page and also correct (i.e., no spelling mistakes or inaccuracies).

Keywords in the content. You can make good content into great, highly effective content with the use of keywords. It’s important to make sure that they read like they are occurring organically in the text, otherwise the whole thing will feel clumsy.

High-level header tags. The H1 tag is a powerful tool, so don’t overuse it. Use one per page so you don’t confuse search engines (at the top preferably) and use it to describe exactly what your page is about.

The right images. Images must be used in the right format, such as JPEGs for higher quality images (save in Photoshop at less than 60 percent resolution to avoid slow page load times as a rule of the thumb), GIFs for those images with fewer colors, and PNG format for graphics.

Descriptive alt tags. Use alt tags to communicate to search engines what the image is about, which will help with your SEO. Make it descriptive, as this is what will pop up if the image does not load.

Blog categories. Chronologically ordered blog archives give nothing to a user and don’t encourage browsing. Using blog categories instead helps the reader find what she is looking for more quickly.

Forge internal links. You can increase the effectiveness of your blog for your site as a whole by hyperlinking to other pages on your site that are relevant. Use keyword-rich, branded, and normal anchor text to do this.

Claim authorship. Claiming authorship of content and linking it to a Google+ account offers another degree of visibility and will make the effectiveness of that one piece of content stretch even further. In addition, author rank is predicted to become even more relevant as Google continues to understand the authority of each publisher.

Read the full post at Blogging: An On-Page SEO Checklist