Five Practical Tips for Improving Your B2B Website Performance and SEO This Quarter
Search optimisation is a constantly moving feast of website performance judgement. What keeps your website at the top of page one this month, may see you drop significant rank by the end of the year. It’s tough out there and keeping ahead of the search bots is proving an ever challenging game of digi-strategy roulette.
Search rank has a strong correlation to your inbound lead generation. Research suggests that leads from an organic search source are more likely to convert into a sale in the short term than outbound marketing leads, simply because of where ‘buyers’ are at in their sales cycle when they use search. Online buyers trust their own online research, and as a result are likely to take high rankings for industry or service-specific keywords as a key sign of ‘authority’. So we know search plays a vital role in driving our lead engine. However, out of Google’s minimum 500 algorithm changes a year, only a few updates end up impacting website rankings in any significant way.
Online buyers trust their own online research, and as a result are likely to take high rankings for industry or service-specific keywords as a key sign of ‘authority’. So what’s hot and what’s not this quarter in the world of web and SEO? Below I offer a few tips that you may find useful should you be thinking about to protect or improve your website and search rank.
1. Device-responsive websites – judgement day is coming…
As search on mobile phones has now overtaken desktop search, you really need to rethink your website strategy, and quick, if your site is not ‘device-responsive’. Here at Marketecture, we’re starting to see businesses who aren’t running a responsive website lose search rank.
Following Google’s ‘Mobilegeddon’ algorithm update in April last year, we didn’t see any drastic immediate impact on non-responsive sites, but now we’re seeing it, and big time! We’re getting inbound enquiries by the week from b2b companies who are committing early 2016 budget to a responsive website makeover. As Google views ‘responsive’ as best practice web design, and as the market anticipates a further algorithm update very soon, now’s the time to get your house in order. The good news is that as the current algorithm runs in real-time, you can technically optimise your website for mobile at any point and Google will pick up on the change and provide it with fairly swift ranking benefits.
For more information on responsive web design read our whitepaper.
2. Penguin 4.0 on the horizon – what does this mean for your b2b website and SEO?
Google’s last update to the Penguin algorithm (3.0) in 2014, was actually quite low impact, compared to the first Penguin 1.0 update which changed the topography of SEO. Google is set to roll out the next penguin update (4.0) very soon, so we all wait with baited breath to see the search rank impact from this update to this ‘link quality’ algorithm. Experts are predicting that we are likely to see ‘real time’ impact with this latest update, which could be very bad news for anyone penalised for poor link quality.
Managing your website link profile should be a key priority this quarter in anticipation of the 4.0 update. You should be looking at your backlink profile to identify the total number of links you have on your site, alongside the number of unique domains. This will help you to assess your on-site link quality. You can analyse this manually, or there are a number of tools which can save you valuable time such as Moz’s Open Site Explorer and Link Detox.
These programs will help you quickly identify any ‘toxic links’ which may be impacted by the Penguin 4.0 update. Links such as, unrelated domains, links to other sites with a large number of external links and malware warnings. Once these are on your radar, start removing them manually, contacting any linked site owners to ask them to remove any toxic links you find. If you don’t get a response from any third parties linking to your site, you can also contact Google direct to ‘disavow’ such links before Penguin kicks in.
There is also a strong belief that you should be varying the types of links on your website to stay on the right side of Penguin 4.0. So consider how you can use the following to add some link diversity:
- Sidebar links
- Contextual links (from within content paragraphs i.e. links to stats within blogs)
- Bio links from guest posts
- Footer links
- Additional reading links at the bottom of pages
- Wiki links
- Social links
- Pres links from Q&A sites such as LinkedIn Groups, Yahoo answers
The theory is that if all your links are coming from blogs for example, then this doesn’t look natural and is likely to trigger a Penguin penalty.
3. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) – your biggest ROI opportunity this quarter?
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) started to become a buzzword towards the end of 2015. CRO is working out how to identify ways in which you can ‘optimise’ website engagement by finding out why your visitors aren’t ‘converting’ and identifying ways to fix this.
Conversion metrics are measured differently from one website to another, but I predict that CRO will be even bigger news in 2016. If you haven’t already assessed your website with CRO in mind, now is the time to get knees deep in your site analytics and visitor behavioural activity. With some fresh thinking you can incrementally start to increase your number of conversions at each stage of the sales funnel. If you’re new to the concept of CRO, you should start by assessing the following key metrics:
Average page views – This is a key metric for measuring the level of engagement with your site. A low average page view metric is a strong indication that your site isn’t giving visitors the information they need to ‘convert’. So rethink your homepage content, navigation and signposting to key site content.
Average time on site – Helps you to analyse how long visitors are hanging around – a low time suggests your website isn’t serving visitor needs very effectively. If this is a key problem for your site, you really need to consider how you can boost your site content. How often are you refreshing your page content, adding new ‘interesting’ blogs, or introducing compelling offers to capture interest? If the answer is not very often then your website really needs some TLC to reinvigorate it.
Exit rates – a very high website exit rate on a given page can be a red flag to investigate. I would suggest that you have a look at your highest five exit rate pages and have a ‘blank piece of paper’ rethink on page content and layout.
Bounce rates – knowing the percentage of people who leave your website after viewing a single page is a good indicator of content quality and/or usability. Go back to basics and relook at your homepage content and layout if this is a key exit page. It may be worth experimenting with a video ‘conversion goal’ on a key page to see how this impacts bounce rates on this page. A product demo or a video customer testimonial perhaps?
A good CRO strategy can help you to capitalise on traffic you are already attracting, so can quickly increase the return on your current level of investment. Small incremental change could be one of your biggest web strategy opportunities this year, so getting to grips with CRO is one of my key recommendations right now.
4. Local Search Targeting – check in all your business locations to Google Places
Google is increasingly focusing its energy on improving local search. One result of this, is that Google Places/Businesses now only shows three search results instead of seven, so your chances to appear in a local search are diminishing.
With this in mind, make it a priority to get all your business locations, depots, showrooms and regional offices on the map this quarter using schema markup and local listings. Schema markup is code that you can put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. If you’ve ever used rich snippets, you’ll understand exactly what schema markup is all about. Tip: make sure all citations are consistent, with no abbreviations, to avoid sending different addresses to the search bots.
Google is also increasing the amount of information on its search results pages, in some cases reducing the need for users to even click on a website, using the Google Knowledge Graph. This can be seen on local listings, people biographies and business profiles. You should also therefore consider tagging your website for the knowledge graph, which can be essential for local search.
5. Social signals – the next big thing in b2b search engine optimisation?
There has been a lot of expert debate in recent months about the increasingly important role of social signals in SEO e.g. Tweets, Facebook likes, YouTube etc. At the end of January, Google Search Team Supremo Matt Cutts stated that Google does not use search signals as a ranking factor. However, we’re seeing more and more social media updates in search results, and I’m guessing you are too.
Google is already working with Twitter for example, to show relevant information in its search results. So, when you search for a keyword that’s getting #buzz on Twitter, you’ll see relevant tweets towards the top of the first page results. I predict that you can expect to see updates from other social media channels in the search results in the coming months. That will make things even more challenging for b2b businesses that are hoping to get traffic from their search efforts. So if social media hasn’t been a key part of your b2b strategy to date, it’s time to get serious to hold onto your search rankings.
If you would like a copy of our free b2b blog checklist, which identifies how to search optimise your blogs, just get in touch.