Conversion Statistics

Just some useful statistics on conversions as I’ve found them somewhere else or from my client analytics. In the interest of keeping this usable as a reference tool, this is intentionally brief. Perhaps I’ll expand more on certain points as necessary. All statistics are no older than 2018.

@ 60% of all conversions happen during a single visit
@ 15% of conversions require two visits
@ 25% of all conversions require at least 3 or more visits

@ 70% of conversions happen on the same day as the first visit

**Typical Local Business traffic Sources
@ 25% Maps
@ 25% Organic

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The Simple How To Measure Conversions and ROI

HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing Measuring your ROI and determining your advertising spend does not have to be overly complicated if you just need a back-of-napkin estimate. Here is the easiest way you can get the numbers you need to start making better decisions about the money you spend online.

Open your Google Analytics (GA) and create a Goal from a Product (page) to a Lead form. Wait a week or whatever time-frame you think will give you a good sample. Then look at your GA Acquisitions > Sources. You should see something like this.

measure roi

In this view, the Goals we have setup clearly illustrate the quantity and quality of leads each source produces.

Back-of-napkin we can immediately see a dramatic differential between the Quality of Organic visitors versus our paid sources. If your report looks similar, you are asking “Why are we not budgeting more to acquire more Organic Traffic since those visitors are far more productive?”

Expedience
  1. Most businesses do not think about Organic visitors as something they can get more of (quickly).
  2. Most business spending goes ONLY to CPC (Adwords/PPC) and 3rd Party Leads because they both produce tangible visitors as soon as you submit your credit card.
  3. But NOTE: If we spent $5000 on #4, we wasted $5000 – the only thing expedient there, is how quickly we are going broke!
Perennial Traffic
  • Spend on CPC (Adwords/PPC) and 3rd Party Leads has 1:1 proportion. You must pay for each visitor. Stop Spend : No Visitors.
  • Spending on Organic visitors is perennial to your ROI. Small but gradual spend : Ever More Visitors.

Don’t take your Organic Traffic for granted.

By the way, “I have a website, they will come” is not the correct way to pursue your Organic Traffic strategy. A better analogy is to view your Organic Traffic as gardening.

Grow more organic visitors! Organic visitors are the only perennials in your garden and all gardens need tending and patience to produce good yields. Now you have made a better decisions about your Internet Advertising spend.

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What Is A Search Engine Friendly Website?

HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing In a sentence; it is a well organized set of information made easily accessible to another computer to crawl (the bot) and index ( the search engine ).

Search Engine Friendly means What Humans Don’t See

It is not necessary to have a visually attractive or interesting website in order to be search engine friendly. “Visually attractive” or “interesting” are things humans want. Search engines seek well organized information; a theme, explicit descriptions of a page, and explicit labels (for images). These are things humans don’t see or even care about. Here’s some advice from Google

What is not Search Engine Friendly

90% or more of “pretty” websites are not optimized for search engines (the web designer will always say it is) (and how can the client tell?). In contrast, you will never hear a real SEO claim they build pretty websites – it’s not their talent and good SEO consumers all their bandwidth. Web Designers concentrate on the visual. Do they also have the ability to concentrate on the unseen SEO as well? (I like and use webs designers, but…)

Then there are the website owners, they usually make a mess of a perfectly organized website; they move pages around, change menu navigation which often changes URLs; add this thing; and add this other thing; and soon all these “things” create obstacles for search engines. Over time the web site becomes an unintelligible and very search engine unfriendly mess.

Many website owners and advertising agencies try to do SEO themselves because it seems easy and obvious ( read a book – search online ). Hiring an SEO specialist is an unnecessary expense. We would add to the list that – hiring an SEO specialist seems unnecessary because there is a belief that “everyone can do SEO”. This self-perpetuating environment in which every website designer seems to do SEO, leads you also to ask, Why can’t I do it myself?

“A proficiency at billiards is a sign of a misspent youth” Mark Twain.

When the task is to turn a human website into one that also speaks to, and serves the needs of search engines, hire those who understand how search engines work and can take the time to do it right. Sprinkling a few keywords around pages and posts is not SEO and will not create a Search Engine Friendly Website.

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What is a Blog Post Worth

HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing Does Blogging Pay?  Its the most common directive issued in SEO. Blog! If you want free traffic, Blog! If you don’t have a big budget to pay Google Adwords or Bing Adcenter for clicks, BLOG!

But does blogging really payoff? Here is your real-world-local-business answer. Not only can we see exactly how many clicks a blog post is bringing every month, month after month; we can calculate the exact value of those clicks, and therefore calculate the exact value of the blog-post. (which means how much could you pay someone to blog for your business) Here is our Query Report from Google Webmaster or Google Analytics.

blogging-pays

A single Blog-post about how swimming pools can pop out of the ground, brought our business 31 clicks from natural searches last month.

average-cost-per-click

Therefore if our blog-post brought 31 visitors and we are paying a nice round figure of $3.30 per visitors in our PPC campaigns, the blog is worth $102.30 per month or $1,227.60 per year. With this data, we can now make many more assumptions about our marketing spend.

Brilliant! Hold on! What you may have missed is that there are 4 blog-posts on this website, but this is the only one that is performing to bring us a measurable number of free visitors. That is a variable that needs to be included in our overall marketing calculations to determine what a blog-post is really worth (paying for).

Plus there are a few noteworthy bullets to go with our numbers that can serve to flesh-out your Internet Marketing assumptions:

  1. The blog-post title, when written, did not reflect what those online searches would be that produces our traffic. This blog-post could potentially perform much better with the right title. That’s water under the bridge, but now that we know, we can still do some SEO to increase our page position and thereby, increase our clicks.
  2. The CTR for this post is exceptional. Combined with Average Positions (that are at the bottom of page 1) and that tells us the other results on the SERP (search results page) are not as appealing, and may also mean our meta description (SEO) is working well.

Another critical marketing variable not provided here is CONVERSION (into leads, into sales) but that’s something for another post. With conversion figures you can really dial-in your ROI – the ultimate in Internet Marketing Planning.

Alrighty then:

  • Q: What should I blog about?
    • A: What questions do your customers ask you?
  • Q: Should you hire someone to write blogs?
    • A: Can you produce the material for them and can they optimize the content?

I know those are not an answers, but they should point you in the right direction to the answer you need. Only you know your business well enough to make all this work. Everyone else can only help.

Well, without question, blogging works to bring (relatively) free traffic and save you the cost of paying Google and Bing for visitors. There is technique (SEO) involved in making it work to its full potential, but my experience is that everyone has moments of inspiration and motivation, but few can actually execute – consistently. Perseverance and persistence (lack thereof), not $, is what inhibits most Internet Marketing from real success.

But at least now you cannot say you don’t know whether blogging is worthwhile for your business.

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The Online Reviews Bait and Switch

Since I seem to be the only Internet Business Development adviser talking about this “racket”, the tough part is to describe what it is quickly, in an easy to understand format.

What essentially happens is

  1. A business (you?) use a reviews website to build the content that generates valuable leads. They (the 3rd party review website) get you to encourage your customers to leave reviews about your business (that gets them into search results – RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR BUSINESS LISTING). This makes sense as it generates leads/sales for your business because good reviews help convert those searchers into buyers. All Good.
  2. However, after some time – and now that there is significant value (to you) flowing through the reviews platform, they ( the owner of the platform ) switch business models on you. Now they will charge for all benefits that would flow to you ( the business ), without compensation for the content which helped them solidify their place in search results. (well, until Google changes their algorithm, which luckily is coming one day )
  3. Yes, you can choose not to pay for those leads, but your competition will BECAUSE THEY (the 3rd party reviews) ARE LOCATED RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR BUSINESS LISTING in the search results. You are now an addict and must pay!

You have been warned! (before you build those reviews on 3rd party websites)

Think about it another way. You build a road with your sweat, resources (or tax dollars), then once enough traffic depends on your road, the government puts a toll booth on it (not only do they not give you any of the money, they make you pay tolls as well). Kind of sucks doesn’t it? Well that is what is happening with 3rd Party Review websites.

I use the toll road business model as the best analogy because frankly, only governments allow themselves to operate this way. Everyoone else who tries it goes to jail. Today’s Internet its not much different from the salt trade on the Rhine River in middle-ages, we have the evolution of the toll station. Who controls content can extract money. (except newspapers it seems 😉 Today the “new” business model is to insert yourself between content in such a way as to extract a toll. Thus we arrive at the nefarious way the 3rd Party Review business is evolving.

My disgust lies in the bait-and-switch business model (fraudulent) that is at the heart of this “business practice”. There is a general understanding in business that you do not engage in knowingly deceptive tactics in order to enrich yourself at the expense of someone’s ignorance. Those that do are known as “black market” or “mafia”, etc. Otherwise it is understood (and usually required by law ) that you “fully disclose” what the terms of the business are – in advance.

Here is How the bait-and-switch business model Works

In the beginning, getting reviews onto these online review websites is mostly free and worth the few leads it generates. You are offered an optional membership fee that gives you some placement advantages, etc. This is essentially a modified classified-ads business model – pay for placement to generate leads. We understand that. All good so far BECAUSE HOW the business works HAS BEEN DISCLOSED.

But after some critical mass is reached, an ownership transaction takes place (re. TripAdvisor buys Viator). Someone must buy someone else as part of this bait-and-switch business model. It really does not matter who buys who, what matters is that the contract changes – the “Terms of Service” must, of course, be revised.

  1. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in real capitalism. This is not a socialist rant. Everything should not be free.
  2. No, legal eagle. Just because its says in the original terms of service that the content is owned by the platform does not jibe when the business model is SELECTIVELY changed. Selectively changing the business model while keeping other bits of the contract selectively in tact is not in the spirit of good business practices. Sorry, that practice, when done with prior intent is in fact called bait-and-switch (fraud).

Now a new business model is suddenly in effect. You were not informed this would happen because “Hey dude! Who can foresee the future?”. But now you must pay for a click, or a prospective customer, or a completed transaction. Suddenly the leads that you have been counting on are not yours unless you pay more – a lot more (like 20% to Viator). Now its no longer a classified business model where you pay for visibility, its a compulsory toll to get the leads your content generates. I’m here to tell you that the owners of these online review platforms CAN foresee the future just fine, dude!

But it gets much worse from an Internet Marketing perspective

These reviews that have been built by (you) the individual business, now cause the Third-Party Review website to achieve top rank in search results* ABOVE your website – thus capturing clicks that would not otherwise go to the reviews website had (you) the business not helped develop the reviews in the first place.

  • (Recent changes to Google SERPs puts the review websites above the listing of the individual businesses in question – always subject to change)

Nonetheless, this means even if I want to get out of this relationship, its too late! This parasite has taken over the search results using your content. There is no way to go back to a life without the parasitic Third-Party Reviews in your search results. They are getting more clicks from your target market than your website does, and they will sell those clicks to the highest bidder in your market. Forever!

  • Do It Yourself – generate reviews on your website.

Or the solution, in my opinion, is to grow your own reviews – on your website (yes and its not that difficult).

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The SearchStation Method for Top Search Rank

SearchStation is only useful for local search. It is not designed to help your global search rank. Therefore SearchStation is for those businesses that depend on local (hyperlocal) visibility in search. If you are attempting to be found on mobile devices, in a specific area, SearchStation is for you.

SearchStation works by measuring your local search rank. Its no longer enough to be #1 in natural results on a desktop browser; you need to consider how your website is presented on mobile devices and the many ways search engines design their desktop results pages today. Take a close look at SERP (Search Engine Results Page) layout the next time you search from your desktop for something local. Notice the Tile (also called a Card or Knowledge Graph) at the top right? If you want to get the maximum number of visitors to your website, it is vital that your local business is in the Tile-Card. And you will get this kind of placement when all your SEO ducks are in a row.

SearchStation is a search rank tool and a step-by-step method, to identify what to do to get into those highly coveted positions in local search results that produce the greatest number of visitors to your website.

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Hyperlocal Search Reporting Case Study

A False Sense of Security

– is a common thing in search rank reporting as this case study illustrates. If you follow this very small business story to it conclusion, you will take-away most of the key issues all local businesses that depend on online visitors face today. Local search is not what it used to be and its changing quickly. Whether you are a Yoga instructor or Pizza Delivery, hyperlocal search marketing will become a priority channel as new customers increasing use mobile search to find you. And the old tools don’t work.

search rank report for Yoga am Bach vs Yoga Schwarzwald
AWR Cloud
(screenshot AWRCould – #1 ) This AWRcloud report for Yoga am Bach (yoga-am-bach.de) indicates that Yoga am Bach is #1 for the keyword “yogalehrerin schwarzwald” (yoga teacher). Yoga am Bach is satisfied that they are #1 and reassured to see a “competitor”, Yoga Institute Schwarzwald (yoga-schwarzwald.de) is struggling to stay in 4th positions – and sometimes hitting lows on the second page of SERPS.

Yoga am Bach is feeling confident that their SEO efforts are working and that they are getting their share of Internet Leads.

How To Choose The Right Keywords

yogalehrerin schwarzwald” is a good keyword for Yoga am Bach to track because it accurately describes what the business is, and its a keyword a real potential customer would use to find them online. Except locals would not include “schwarzwald”. So is this keyword really viable?

(Schwarzwald is The Black Forest in Germany and it is important HERE to talk about this location specific keyword “schwarzwald”.) We MUST use this in our keyword-phrase when attempting SERP reporting using AWR – and any other search tracking/reporting SEO tools for that matter. Spoiler Alert! – in screenshot #4 you are going to be surprised to see a completely different SERP without this local keyword.

SERP of Google Card
Google Card
( screenshot #2 ) But as this case study illustrates the Card on the page (the top right box) that is so prominent, contains none other than Yoga Institute Schwarzwald. Clearly these Cards, when displayed, probably get the majority of clicks. This Card in the top-right of the page is not indicated in the AWR report. The results from AWR is far from accurate and not indicative of the exposure Yoga Institute Schwarzwald is getting online. As a result Yoga am Bach has been overconfident in their dominance of the market (and complacent).

How did we find this discrepancy?

Our SearchStation alerted us to the Card.

Accurate local search results reporting - SearchStation
SearchStation
Then as we take a close look at our SERP produced locally ( screenshot #3 ), we see that Yoga Institute Schwarzwald is actually #2 in real local search results ( not 4th – 10th as AWR reports ), and also has a Place listing in the real 4th position, and has the Card on the top right of the SERP. Seems that reality is very different from our original reporting – Yoga Institute Schwarzwald dominates these SERPs.

What you don’t know can hurt you.

SearchStation located in Schwarzwald ( screenshot #4 ) is the result produced by our actual local search for “yoga lernerin”. Neither Yoga am Bach nor Yoga Institute Schwarzwald rank at all. Now we have a whole new Hyperlocal Internet Marketing ball game determining how to get the most visitors to our website, when our assumed keywords don’t work at all the way we thought they were using other tools.

This case study is typical of what you get in most local search rank reporting services, a false sense of security. We would not know this using any other search reporting tool.

If you want to really know track how you are doing in search results, get the SEO tool that accurately reports search rank – SearchStation.

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Consumer Reviews Reconsidered

Most businesses on the Internet today work hard to get good business reviews and manage those reviews (that are not 5 stars). Some businesses very much depend on good reviews to survive.

When a review program has its own website (and most do) that’s where the problem begins.

This is a disturbing realization. I call it the “Covert Extortion Racket”. Those are fight’in words, I know. But when you take a close look at who owns the reviews and how the reviews are handled (re. wherever money is involved), I think you can see the ugly underbelly of the business reviews “industry”. Its not much different from how drug-dealers operate. It may even be free at first, but then…

So lets reiterate the basic principals of all search marketing because they are pretty simple and the discussions about reviews gets pretty convoluted.

We want to:

1) attract as many visitors to our website as possible
2) convert those visitors into contacts (and thereafter, sales of course)

That’s really all there is to it on the surface!

Participating in review programs do not appear to benefit us in our primary objective (#1). In fact the The Review Site has great potential to divert visitors away from our website.

Specifically, by participating in the program, we help The Review Site establish a search presence in our search area. That means The Review Site will absolutely get some clicks originally destined for our website, if they were not present in the search results.

Having The Review Site appear in search results everywhere our website appears will divert visitors away from our site to theirs. That is not speculation.

Therefore look at what happens next:

a) there are plenty of competitive businesses on The Review Site which absolutely will get some of our customers, no matter how good our reviews are. Its the nature of people to look for a cheaper price, etc. Why would we want to create an environment for this situation to arise?

b) there are competitors that absolutely will get some of our visitors. There are some businesses that would consider participating a clear benefit > for attracting MORE visitors <. But an established business only stands to LOOSE visitors as far as I can tell. c) The Review Site website design does not assure that our original intended visitors will return to our website once they have visited The Review Site. I don’t see that happening with most designs.

d) play this reviews business model into the future – and this becomes even more disconcerting. What if we no longer pay for The Review Site service?

In other words, the risks out-weigh the benefits.

And better not to dance with the Devil in the first place.

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Proof that Search Engine House Cleaning Will add +50% New Visitors

I recently had a client relationship go bad because I could not “prove” that setting up Accounts and Properties correctly with Google actually improves search results. Now I have the proof.

This was an accident. I do not normally setup a client with the correct Accounts and Properties on the search engines while doing nothing else. Usually there are too many moving parts in the SEO game that prevent measuring the results of this single aspect of the job. This means I never get to measure this one SEO task’s results in isolation. Only by accident, due to a delay of the new live website was I able to measure the effect of only updating the client website relationships with search engines.

And here is the proof – a 53% increase in visits. This is the result of nothing more than cleaning up, or organizing the business’s relationships with search engines so they better index (understand the product and location, etc). This “house cleaning” requires deleting years of crap (many logins that have unknown admins; incorrectly linked accounts (Webmaster Tools with Analytics with Adwords) – but very thoroughly!

Nothing else changed. No new websites. No on site-SEO. No change in PPC campaigns – Produces a 53% increase in visits.

In some industries it could be called a “make-over” or “refurbishing”. Either way, it works better than most things you can spend money on to increase your natural search performance.

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Google Comparison Ads for Autos Launched

Google Comparison Ads for Autos launched this week in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I recommendation car dealers learn about it now, before it arrives in your city.

In early 2011 Google had invited dealers in the San Francisco Bay Area to sign-up for the pilot during NADA 2011. Some automotive bloggers wrote about it at the time. They did not attend the meeting nor did they see the presentation. And therefore presumed incorrectly that is was a price comparison product (that would further hurt dealer margins).

This is not a “price shopping” product that those blogs presumed. Dealers need to know that now, before they make the same assumption and ignore the product and miss the boat when it arrives in their PMA. I’m seeing the result of that approach now, as dealers that sat on the sideline these past 18 months are now scrabbling to get into the program. Word is just reaches these reticent dealers that their competitor, who did signup early, is getting (lots of) leads that result in sales (the word is they are quality leads). We’ll know if those claims are true in the coming days.

What is Google Comparison Ads for Autos? It is a “price validation feature” for consumers. Google Comparison Ads for Autos generates leads much like Google Adwords generates clicks. If you are familiar with Adwords, you will have an easier time understanding Google Comparison Ads for Autos, but the bid/lead mechanism is not identical to Adwords, its more complicated. The bottom line for dealers is the lead cost can be zero ($0) in some cercumstances, while other cost (bid) starting at $10.

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