WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU?
Being in sole charge of the redesign and the optimisation of this high traffic website was a great learning ground. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) soon became one of my favourite tasks as did optimising their Google Adwords campaign.
The following information describes a fully integrated SEO campaign that I created to gain Google and Yahoo Page one ranking. If you would like a similar service, please contact me.
Adaps is a top five Melbourne IT Recruitment company. It had a typical website that was designed to look flash, like an glossy black electronic brochure, but it had likttle substance. This was because it had been developed ten years previous to my tenure just as a tool for storing information, mainly the job board. It had no optimization meaning that search engines would never find it. In this role I pro-actively learnt SEO techniques from online sites and forums, books and website magazines. A deep interest in the topic and my engineering background also helped.
This site required a complete re-write of the homepage text for SEO. This required adequate density, portraying the message of what the site represents as well as making interesting reading to engage the visitor and have them view other pages. Along with text re-write all of the title, heading, description tags etc were modified to make a cohesive effort. This site had no specific News section or Articles page. Without these it is hard for a visitor to gauge the value of the site, know its history or believe it to be an authority.
The articles I created were based on a standard set of advice that visitors to a typical recruitment site would expect such as: Resume tips, resume template, Interview tips, Body Language & Image advice. To engage the stakeholders in the company I had the client managers review the articles for accuracy. To assist the company’s status as an authority in the IT recruitment market I also created articles on the Demand and supply of IT Professional roles in the Melbourne and Sydney markets (for more details see the Adaps Strategy and analysis section).
Google Analytics: At this stage Google had only recently acquired (2005) the company (Urchin on Demand) that created the analytics program. Google Analytics is free software that allows you to track a multitude of marketing and webmaster metrics to help with optimising your site. Understanding what a company is trying to achieve with their website and which metrics to download, report on, analyse and track is where the skill lies.
Google Adwords: Is another boon to the e-marketer. This great ‘pay per click’ service has businesses bid for their ads to be displayed on participating websites.
Website optimisation success
Website optimization propelled the Adaps site from no ranking on Google to the first page on Google and Yahoo within four months. The main existing advantage the site had was that it had existed for a long time (a good weighting factor in Google’s algorithm) and it had a fairly large number of regular visitors (its current contractor base). Re-establishing the footy tipping also helped boost numbers, although this technique is used by several recruitment agencies realising that offering free membership in exchange for boosting visitors and Google ranking is a good deal.
It is a maxim that senior management are quickly bored by e-marketing technicalities. The problem with this is that they can easily consider SEO not to be core business and loose interest in future campaigns. If this happens it usually kills funding, reduces the number of future visitors and growth of a company via this very useful lead generation tool. Creating simple to understand reports with brief executive summaries and clear graphs are vital part of the communication process.
Using Google Analytics you can find out the type of browsers, internet speed, location of visitors, sources of visitors just about anything you can imagine. Initially this amount of information can seem overwhelming, however as you solve fundamental issues with your site, such as low time on site metrics or low loyalty, you can concentrate on more niche problems such as optimising other pages on your site using metrics from the navigation pages.
The graph below shows the seasonal trend for Google Australia search engine impressions for the keyword phrase 'IT Recruitment'. This kind of information is useful when planning SEO and estimating the number of visitors your site might gain and therefore what budget you should consider allocating.
Google Adwords tips
To the casual observer, advertising a business or product using this application is a simple process. Make a few ads, see the visitors roll in. However ease of administration and gaining high efficiency (converting visitors to customers) is much more difficult. The following are some of the things that I know can improve the efficiency of that process. For instance, it is very worthwhile increasing the number of ads triggered by a set of keywords that you think your future customers may enjoy. Check responses to these ads, and prune the keywords that are not performing or bringing the wrong customers – the ones who do not reach your goals or target pages.
Once you find the set of keywords that attract the right visitors then you begin experimenting with different ad Titles and text to fine tune your visitors. For instance I regularly changed the ad groups so that they would attract high potential clients and only very scarce IT professional roles. Varying the ‘bid amount’ varies the location in the stack that your advert is placed.
Creating an ad that Google considers to be ‘high quality’ reduces the price you pay for a given position. The service allows you to choose days or times of day to run the ads and the total daily / weekly budget. However your competitors choose their own limits too which as they vary their campaign will vary your results greatly in a volatile (high competition) market. Consider if your competitors all turn off their ads for a few days. The likely result is that your ad will soar to the top of the page, get a mass of click throughs quickly which exceeds your budget and your ads only appear for a few hours a day.
In a highly competitive market bid value is also vital in optimizing your ad efficiency. Adwords seems to work in very mysterious ways. The mechanisms of ad placement seem to vary depending on the impressions that the keywords are associated with and many other variables. But generally the sensitivity of bid prices seems to escalate exponentially the closer you get to the top of the page (ad postion 1) - see graph below.
The graph below shows how Click throughs and dollars typically vary for a typical Adwords campaign. The graph shows a blue line (clicks on a specific set of Adword ads) increasing because the bid prices on these ads were increased. However as the ads get closer to the top of the Google Search page stack, the cost (pink line) increases much faster. This 'Law of Diminishing Returns' requires experience to handle so that budgets are optimised.
If you bid too low and not enough people click on your add it has a tendancy of falling to the bottom of the page stack and rarely getting clicked. This also becomes a problem as you wont reach budget, and won't drive enough qualified visitors to your site. The general rule is to at least reach ‘above the fold’ on the page, which means you probably want to be around a minimum of position five to get noticed at any significant level.
One of the urban myths of Adwords is that it is said that a high organic search position coupled with a high adwords placement creates a synergy where up to 50% more people visit your site than they would by the combination of these separate rankings. An interesting thought in the least for someone who purely relies on Google Adwords to drive traffic to their site.
I was able to achieve page one rankings for the chosen keywords with mainly on page optimization, and mainly for the homepage. Off site optimization mostly existed on submitting the site to a few free submission directories. The time restrictions in my role meant that there were no article submissions or linking campaigns – two things that are believed to assist ranking. Fortunately the company was able to buy their way into paid rankings by having a good Adwords budget, sponsoring a footy tipping competition and luring visitors to their job board. There were many more optimization techniques that could have been employed to reach a top three Google organic search position where visitor numbers really increase.
I have heard that a website management company has taken over the management of this site. However the style of the site has not changed, there are no new articles, no new market analysis, no resources (links) page etc. This provides a perfect case study as to what regularly happens when a company engages a third party that has no ‘skin in the game’, or real duty of care. Without any real KPI’s or understanding of the value of SEO, a company can easily lose its ranking and if it provides no new content there is little reason for people to return to the site. If you have no goal for your visitors to obtain (such as calling client managers to advertise roles) you cant measure the effectiveness of the site.
Now after reading all of that, what would you choose to happen for your site? Do you want or need to engage someone who cares about the quality of their work and gains you real traction on Google rankings? A website and its SEO campaign only really work when management are interested and supportive in increasing targeted visitors and converting them to customers. And with the internet penetration in Australia around 80%, it makes sense to use this brilliant medium to your advantage.
Call me for a frank discussion.