Locally successful: with the local SEO guide in 3 steps to more visibility

Search engines instead of printed yellow pages, location-based mobile apps , check-ins in trendy cafés and shops – everyone is talking about local online marketing and appropriate marketing measures for local companies are inevitable. But how do you position yourself most effectively in local search results?

The need for local search engine optimization can be illustrated by a simple example: A person has had a toothache for two days. In order not to delay the problem, she enters “Dentist Frankfurt” in the Google search field. At this early stage, the person concerned does not yet have a clear idea of ​​which dentist to visit. First she would like to know which dentists are shown to her on Google.

But the search results are not as uniform as you know from conventional searches. In addition to one to three organic search results – some of which lead directly to the websites of different dentists, but some also refer to evaluation or industry portals – between three and seven inserted results are highlighted on the first Google results page and with location PINs from A. to G. What the search engine user sees here are the explicitly local search results, which Google adds to the conventional web results as a so-called “Universal Search” insert. These are subject to different ranking criteria than is the case with normal websites, and this example from everyday life already suggests

Optimize locally

Local companies basically have to use a “multi-channel” strategy in online marketing. Book Google AdWords? Offer vouchers at Groupon? Communication on Facebook? Recommendation marketing on KennstDuEinen? Actively tackle local search engine optimization? The answer to these questions is likely to vary depending on the service offered – local companies should ask themselves these questions in any case, because the area of ​​activity “Local Search Engine Optimization” includes different disciplines such as classic SEO, but also measures that are unique to local Segment can be applied. After all, consumers not only get to the information most frequently searched for when searching locally (telephone number, address, opening times) via the provider’s website,

Local SEO Roadmap

What could a strategic “step-by-step” roadmap look like for a local company in order to ensure more visibility on the web?

A sensible plan for structuring and prioritizing the local SEO activities should answer some important questions: Where does the company currently stand from the point of view of search engine optimization? Which SEO measures should be tackled with which priority? And how much effort does it take to be better positioned than the competition? Local search engine optimization can be divided into three phases:

  1. Collect data and analyze competition
  2. In-depth analysis and special research
  3. Document measures and track metrics

Phase 1: Collect data & analyze competition

In the first phase, you identify search terms for which you want to be found in the web search. The prerequisite for relevant keywords is that users who search for these keywords actually make contact. Various means are available for this. In addition to an initial brainstorming session with pen and paper, the traffic and conversion data on your own website provide important insights. These are supplemented by the use of the Google AdWords keyword tool, Google Suggest and the “Related Searches” category at the bottom of the search results. Chargeable resources include Google AdWords campaigns with conversion tracking and keyword databases from providers such as Sistrix, SEO Diver, Searchmetrics or Seolytics.

The result of the keyword research is a list of search terms that are also sorted in descending order according to approximate search volume – a value that some tools provide from different data sources.

The identification of competitors in the Google search results in relation to the search terms researched is also very important. Competitors can be completely different companies than those that are part of the real economy. All kinds of blogs, news and question-and-answer portals or even spam projects may rank better than the company website – domains which from a business point of view do not actually represent competitors at all, but which, with a better ranking, may have relevant visitors from their own website “keep away”. The most important competitors are determined by searching on Google for the keywords researched, searching on Google Places or using fee-based ranking query tools.

Relevant ranking factors

In addition, it only makes sense to include those ranking factors that can actually be actively influenced. On the basis of the important expert survey “Local Search Ranking Factors 2012” initiated by David Mihm in the USA, the following relevant ranking factors for Google Places search results can be recorded:

  • Optimization of the Google+ Local entry: verification, use of relevant categories, address and contact data consolidation, photos, additional information, link to the local Google+ page, collecting reviews – recently centralized with ” Google My Business “
  • Optimizing the website: technical and structural on-site measures, off-site links, content optimization
  • Local Citations: Update and expand company entries on relevant rating and industry portals
  • Customer opinions: Number of reviews on the Google+ Local entry and on external review platforms
  • Rating: Average values ​​of the ratings on all relevant portals

Phase 2: Analysis & Research

After creating an industry benchmark, the individual ranking factors should be examined more closely so that appropriate measures can be derived for implementation. The sub-areas of website audit, local citations, ratings and link building play an important role.

Website audit: on-site optimization

The creation of a website audit always makes sense from the point of view of search engine optimization. Regardless of whether this relates to the information architecture and usability, the internal link structure, simple HTML tags, meta information (robots tag, canonical tag etc.) or the content – there is almost always something to improve .

At the end, a list of the necessary on-site measures is the result of this work. On the basis of the on-site optimization, the effects of the other SEO measures also have a much more effective effect on the ranking of the website.

Local Citations: Creation of company entries on rating & industry portals

Local citations are an important component of local search engine optimization. These are company entries on industry portals such as yellow pages or rating platforms such as KennstDuEinen. Google crawls company information such as phone number, address or number of reviews and uses this as a ranking factor. It is important that a company presents itself everywhere on the web with the same company name, phone number, address and is entered in comparable, consistent industry categories.

Local citations also act as contact points for seekers. The following tools offer the possibility to find out more about the “status quo” of a local company on the web:

  • Google search with company name “XYZ”
  • Google search with “Industry + City”
  • Local SEO tool Whitespark Local Citation Finder

A comprehensive, free whitepaper about local citations and how to use them for local search engine optimization can be found in the WinLocal Blog .

Reviews: Referral Marketing & Online Reputation

The importance of customer reviews cannot be overestimated. In addition to the positive effects on the local Google ranking (reviews on Google+ Local, reviews on rating portals), customer opinions that can be publicly read by users on the web play an important role in acquiring new customers and determine whether a company is User is contacted.

Local providers that do not actively take care of their online reputation are still rated by users. Therefore, one should actively take care of this aspect and motivate satisfied customers to post an evaluation on a relevant evaluation platform online.

The sheer number of user reviews is also an important ranking factor in a number of industries, in which both reviews directly on the Google+ Local entry and on relevant review portals are used to calculate Google’s ranking.

Link building: Link building for local search

Link building is an important aspect of local search engine optimization. However, you have to keep in mind that depending on the level of awareness of the local company, hundreds of arbitrary links are not necessary, but rather harmful.

Content marketing measures can be instrumentalized for “natural”, because voluntary, external linking: In a “de-commercialized zone” (e.g. blog), high-quality content that is extremely relevant for a local target group is posted on the company website are. Such information is often shared on social networks.

Phase 3: Documentation & tracking

In the last phase everything revolves around the documentation of the local SEO measures and the monitoring of relevant data points. However, the question arises, which metrics are worth actively being monitored at all?

Basic metrics for local search engine optimization
Number of local citations
Number of links
Number of linked domains
Number of Google ratings
Number of external ratings
Number of actively used external review portals
Number of relevant keyword rankings in Google search
Website traffic through organic google search
Website traffic through links

In addition to this data, which provides information about the effects of the local SEO measures on the visitor volume via search engines, it also makes sense to deal more closely with the conversions. After all, as an entrepreneur, you want to know how many contact requests the ongoing SEO measures actually lead to.

Therefore, the following applies: No reasonable success measurement without conversion tracking. There are a few rules to follow for measuring success:

  • Measure channel SEM and channel SEO separately
  • Phone calls received due to SEO and SEM actions are counted separately
  • Evaluate contact requests using the website form
  • E-mail inquiries from the website’s e-mail address count

In order to prove the success of the SEO measures, it is important to document the metrics before the start of a project. Only then is it possible to determine progress and to relate this to the individual measures of local search engine optimization. The benchmark with the competitors should also be repeated regularly. Based on the information collected, you gradually adapt your measures to the current conditions.

Conclusion

With Local SEO, smaller companies and service providers in particular have a powerful tool at hand to attract more potential customers to their own site. Anyone who does SEO anyway has less work to do when optimizing their own web presence locally. However, local SEO includes far more measures than classic search engine optimization.

A strategic local search engine optimization comprises three steps: Firstly, the research for relevant keywords, an analysis of the competitors based on the search results and the documentation of the initial situation before the start of the SEO measures. The second step is to analyze and research your own online presence. The compilation and observation of relevant SEO metrics only follow in the third phase.

Tips and best practice: This is how corporate communication works on Facebook

With more than a billion users, Facebook is the largest social network in the world. B2B companies don’t want to miss this potential either. The following tips and best practice examples show which strategic fundamentals are important.

Originally intended as a communication platform for private users, Facebook has also been offering companies the opportunity to present themselves for a few years now: With pages, advertisements, locations, applications and much more. Contact with end customers (B2C) is therefore no longer new territory for social media managers. But what about communication between companies (B2B)? It works better than many think.

For a long time, many B2B companies concentrated more on pure business networks such as XING. The reservations about the mainly privately used social platforms are often still very high. But behind every company there are ultimately people who communicate with each other via networks such as Facebook – that is, who can be contacted by companies and excited about their products and services.

Online communication has also played an increasingly important role in the B2B sector in recent years. The fear of contact in this branch is decreasing, the positive experiences of the decision makers reinforce this trend.

Website and search engine marketing have already established themselves as essential pillars of marketing and in some cases even assume the leading function for further communication measures. The use of social media platforms has also increased significantly in the B2B area. Experts assume that this development will even intensify in the future. At almost 60 percent, Facebook is the most frequently used social media platform in the B2B sector .

Anyone who asks Tobias Ilg, who is responsible for social media at Liebherr-International Deutschland GmbH, gets this confirmed with practical experience: “Today we have been active in social networks for almost a year and we receive up to 30 inquiries about our products, service or career opportunities every day Facebook and YouTube. The volume of conversations about our group of companies has increased significantly on the social web, especially the positive traffic, ”explains Ilg. The strong growth of fans confirms his company’s social media activities, and a corresponding expansion is planned.

B2C versus B2B communication

Anyone who designs a corresponding communication strategy for the social web should also know the differences between B2C and B2B communication.

The structure of the target group

First of all, the target group of B2B companies is usually structured differently than in the B2C area. Depending on the orientation, a company addresses specialists and experts from the respective industry. Of course, this also has an effect on the conversations: The fans of a B2B Facebook page often ask very detailed questions or discuss subject-specific problems.

For a social media manager, this means that they should be very well networked in the company and have in-depth specialist knowledge. In this way he can quickly answer complex questions or refer to the right contact person in the company. In this way, the trust can be built up, which is essential as the basis for long-term business relationships and the usually higher investments in the B2B area.

The address of the fans

Another difference is the direct approach to B2B fans. For many B2C companies, it is customary to say goodbye to the fans. Decision-makers in the B2B area have to weigh carefully here. Many companies therefore do not use direct approach when posting to all fans. When communicating with individual fans, many companies heard them. With business partners or applicants in particular, it is important to keep a certain distance and not to communicate too confidentially too quickly.

Complexity of the content

Due to the complexity of the products or services, the B2B content for Facebook should be prepared very clearly. Professional images can help with visualization. But authentic photos of fans can also be used well to show the variability of a product. Important: B2B companies do not have to describe or explain all the details precisely. A B2B Facebook post should clearly convey the USP as a teaser, but the detailed information can then be found on the linked company website.

Interaction times

Studies show that Facebook fans interact with a fan page especially on weekends and evenings – regardless of the industry. In contrast, communication in the B2B area usually takes place during traditional business hours, i.e. Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. B2B companies should therefore not post important content on a Friday afternoon, as the interaction rate is likely to be lower outside of traditional office hours.

Of course, the differences between B2C and B2B communication cannot be generalized. Every company has a different range of services and thus a different target group. Companies should find out and address their habits and preferences individually.

Success criteria for the social media strategy

In order to develop a long-term successful strategy for a Facebook page or group, the goals must first be clear. These can vary greatly depending on the product and service. In the long term, corporate success is the top priority of most strategies. In the short and medium term, however, social media strategists should define specific and measurable sub-goals such as:

  • Increase awareness of the company and the brand
  • Maintain the image and generate branding effects
  • Strengthen customer loyalty and support
  • Support search engine optimization (social signals)
  • Build a knowledge platform and a feedback channel
  • Recruiting qualified personnel (employer branding)
  • Generate traffic on the company website
  • Increase customer inquiries and orders

Correctly delimit the target groups from one another

Depending on the goal, it is then a matter of defining the right target group and addressing them individually. Basically, there are five target groups in B2B communication: employees, applicants, (potential) customers, multipliers (e.g. journalists or bloggers) and other business partners (e.g. suppliers).

Many companies do not concentrate on one target group in their B2B Facebook communication, but address a combination of several target groups. Then when defining the measures, B2B companies should make it clear which target group has which priority and whether the focus of the activities is on a specific target group.

Perform analysis and monitoring

Before starting the derivation of the next steps, a social media manager should also explain their own industry (competitors, trends and much more) and their own company (such as strengths and weaknesses, budget, human resources, etc.) within the social Analyze the media environment. If you observe the competitors who are already active on Facebook, you will find it easier to assess relevant subject areas and the time required for community management.

With the help of social media monitoring, communication measures on critical topics can be prepared – an important prerequisite for being able to react quickly to negative Facebook posts from fans. Towards the end of the strategic considerations, the social media manager then has to derive the right measures, such as the postings, the integration of job offers via an application or the implementation of an employee competition.

When defining goals and developing a strategy, B2B companies should determine suitable key figures for the success of their Facebook activities. Because only with them can you actually determine the return on investment (ROI) for your social media activities and thus put your success in numbers.

Successful B2B communication in practice

The following two best practice examples show how B2B companies can use Facebook successfully. They exemplarily show how they can support their corporate communication and marketing as well as address junior staff. An article on t3n.de provides further examples .

ROPA Maschinenbau: Brand communication in good Bavarian style

The Lower Bavarian agricultural machinery manufacturer for harvesting, cleaning and loading (sugar) beets, ROPA, has been active on Facebook since 2011 and has over 17,000 fans here. Authentic and uncomplicated communication is particularly popular with (potential) customers.

For example, a product video explains the operation of a machine in Bavarian language and is a useful addition to the company’s services. The varied combination of company information and unusual photos from international locations shows that ROPA is a competent regional business partner.

Krones AG: Branding and recruiting as a regional employer

Krones AG is the world market leader for filling systems and a supplier of packaging systems. Since 2010, the company has now gained around 75,000 fans on Facebook. The Krones AG fan page is one of the larger B2B pages in the German-speaking region . Krones does an excellent job of presenting the dry topic in a varied way with pictures and videos.

In addition, users can take a look behind the scenes and get to know the employees of the large corporation. A trainee blog integrated in Facebook shows young people, for example, which daily tasks they can expect in an apprenticeship and thus also supports the company’s recruiting. This authentic communication conveys a personable image as a regional employer and also as a competent business partner.

Conclusion

Facebook is also an important and successful communication channel for customers and future employees in the B2B sector. The examples mentioned show this very clearly. However, Facebook is only one way of supporting a company’s online communication. A good website and search engine marketing should definitely be the basis of a comprehensive online marketing strategy that goes hand in hand with classic marketing activities.

This is how much money companies pay for link building

A recent survey of American SEOs determined what part of their budget they spend on link building measures, what the amount is and in which tactics they invest the money. The creators have published the result in the form of a clear infographic .

Study: 81 percent of the surveyed SEOs increased their link building spending in the last twelve months

As in 2013, Skyrocket published a study on link building. A total of 315 consultants, managing directors and SEO managers were questioned. The creators have published the result in the form of a clear infographic, which you can find below the article. 81 percent of respondents stated that they had increased their link building spending over the past twelve months.

Interestingly, none of the respondents want to invest more than $ 50,000 per month on it. In the 2013 survey, it was 10 percent. Instead, the proportion of those who spend between 10,000 and 50,000 US dollars per month on link building measures has risen. In 2013 it was eleven percent, and in 2014 it was already 37 percent of those surveyed. For 51 to 75 percent of the participants, the amount that is spent on linbuilding corresponds to 40 percent of their entire SEO budget. Only seven percent of SEOs spent more on these measures.

SEO: Content and outreach are the most popular link building tactics

Study participants were asked which five link building tactics they use most often. Most mentioned content / outreach. Infographic promos come in second, and guest posts come in third. Interestingly enough, paid links came in sixth on this list. In another part of the survey, paid links were identified by many SEOs as link building tactics that are harmful to a website.

When asked which link building tactics were most ineffective, respondents most often responded with article directories, social bookmarks and profile links in forums. In the graphic below you will find all the results of the study presented graphically.

 

Videos in B2B marketing: which content makes customers happy?

In B2B marketing, videos serve as a first-class alternative to blog posts or white papers. Thomas Hartmann explains which video formats achieve particularly good results.

Almost every company today has a YouTube channel; it is diligently produced and uploaded. But when does what type of video make sense? What effects can an image film achieve and what are the strengths of the product video? To answer these questions, we have compiled our many years of experience and the results of our customers and try to provide an explanation in this article.

We distinguish between the three basic video genres:

  • Corporate film
  • Product film
  • Tutorial

1. The corporate film – the old iron in marketing

The corporate film is the veteran of classic communication. Mostly with little informative and very image-tinged content, emotional presentation and longer playing time, it shows its strengths in the area of ​​image, brand experience and brand positioning. In the concert of the three communication goals, however, he can only score affectively and emotionally.

The one-sided positioning is created by focusing on an emotional approach and long-term communication goals such as positioning, the emotional brand experience and changes in customer attitudes. These are goals in which the information content inevitably takes a back seat. On the Internet, information and real usefulness are in demand from the target groups, especially in B2B.

The corporate film is therefore important content, but not a “must-have” when it comes to perception, visibility, branding and economic goals such as sales promotion.

2. The product film – the stable all-rounder

A product film should arouse interest, convey information, maybe even create a little tension. In our opinion, he is the stable all-rounder who perfectly combines cognitive and economic goals such as brand awareness, product knowledge and direct motivation. The high information content makes it a welcome and valued information carrier; it only has to subordinate itself to the corporate film in terms of affective goals.

3. The tutorial – the strong, helping hand

Last but not least, the winner on points: the tutorial. Based on our evaluations, we have found that videos from this genre achieve the longest viewing time and the greatest reach in relative terms. This is also due to the fact that there is usually only one product film, but several tutorials. In terms of quantity, the tutorial is superior to the product film.

In terms of cognitive and economic goals, the tutorial is clearly ahead and shows the greatest possible benefit. It often results in immediate, short-term motivation of the viewer to seek contact and become a customer. The tutorial only has to subordinate itself to the other two genres when it comes to brand building and brand experience.

Video content is always customer service

There is no doubt that every genre has its right to exist. With media-friendly content designed for “pull” communication, product films and tutorials hardly give corporate films a chance in the fast-moving digital world. It is and will remain indispensable in the area of ​​emotional addressing, positioning and long-term image building.

The tutorial particularly stands out due to its high activation potential, as it offers the viewer immediate added value around the clock. It provides solutions to problems or answers to common questions, in contrast to corporate films and product videos. Tutorials receive a lot of and long attention because they are viewed in the context of an existing interest.

In terms of content, the tutorial does not really work for the image of the company, but indirectly, customer proximity and the feeling of availability can arouse sympathy in the customer, so emotion after all – one of the reasons for contacting the customer. Having the feeling of good service and a helping hand at your side is a decisive factor in establishing contact and, as a result, obtaining an offer. It binds customers through the service in the “after sales” area. Repeat buyers arise.

Success with tutorials, but how?

In order to explain in more detail how to achieve good results with tutorials in B2B marketing, we are constructing a use case. We use a manufacturer of industrial kitchen machines for gastronomy and large kitchens, whose products all need a lot of explanation and training. Questions that arise are: How do I have to set up the machine? How do I put it into operation and what should I watch out for in the event of a fault?

We assume that we have enough ideas and content for 20 small videos between 1:30 and 2:00 minutes in length. The videos can have different communication goals and address different target groups. For example, you can generate “awareness” and increase awareness in the target group.

Tips for more success with videos

With goals like this, it’s important to have the right keywords in the titles and descriptions of the videos. They should describe the product family and be sought after by interested parties.

Good support from the manufacturer is important for wholesalers. This can be a decisive criterion for getting interested in a new manufacturer. In order to reach this target group with suitable content, we should therefore also send tutorials with very specific assistance on the digital journey. You should also include the most important keywords in the title and description in order to communicate the direct benefit in the hit lists of Google and YouTube. The same applies to the target group of end users. You have specific questions about the operation and maintenance of the machines.

Accordingly, different content should be produced for both target groups, which can be placed for the corresponding search terms through clever optimization.

For tutorials to be successful, it is crucial to produce as many videos as possible, to optimize them skillfully and to distribute them on as many platforms as possible in order to generate high visibility in Google. In addition to the strategic work, the content distribution and the optimization of the videos, it is extremely important to really use every opportunity to be found by the target groups.

More platforms also mean more reach

YouTube holds around 70 percent market share, but giving away the other 30 percent would still not be a good idea. In addition to Vimeo, MyVideo, Dailymotion, Kewego and Businessworld are also relevant in the German-speaking area. The number of links is also crucial for a good ranking. With 20 videos on six platforms, we generate 120 backlinks for the company’s website – an additional benefit without any further effort.

When dealing with tutorials in B2B marketing, there are many variables that need to be considered. Taken together, they offer companies an extremely successful means of communication that fulfills all the parameters of a very important basic rule: AIDA. They offer “Attention” (visibility on the Internet), “Interest” (content for the target group), “Desire” (real help and answers) and “Action” (the possibility of making contact). With tutorials, companies can therefore gain market share and position themselves positively in the market environment in the long term.

Modern online marketing: step by step to becoming a growth hacker

Growth hacking is the topic of the hour in online marketing. The corresponding Google search queries have exploded in the last few months, the term appears in more than 450 short biographies on Twitter and over 1,000 job profiles on LinkedIn. But what exactly is behind the name? An Introduction to Growth Hacking.

The first to use the term growth hacking in 2010 was Sean Ellis , who helped Dropbox, among other things, to grow immensely. Ultimately, however, it was mainly Andrew Chen who started the current hype with his article “ Growth Hacking is the new VP Marketing ” in April 2012. Ryan Holiday’s book “Growth Hacker Marketing”  became a top seller on Amazon in 2013 immediately after its publication. There are already several portals in the USA dedicated to the trend. This includes growthhackers.com  or growthhacker.tv . As so often, Germany is lagging about two years behind. But here, too, a small scene can be seen, for example on the portal growth-hackers.de .

What is growth hacking anyway?

First of all: not a single measure, but a strategic approach. The principle originally comes from the startup segment of the software-as-a-service industry and is closely related to “lean marketing”: the greatest possible marketing effect should be achieved with the least possible effort – in terms of time, money and manpower.

For example via a viral video or other measures that create a stir and thus increase brand awareness. Growth hacking goes beyond lean marketing and has long since ceased to be limited to startups. Today, corporations and the world’s most valuable brands employ growth hacking principles. Their goal is not only growth, but also a better understanding of their customers and users.

To understand the growth hacking approach, it helps to take a look at the development stages of a startup. Generally speaking, there are three challenges:

  1. Problem solving: The definition of the target audience and the problem to be solved. The startup’s product must relate directly to the problem and solve it as simply, precisely and efficiently as possible.
  2. Product-Market-Fit: It ensures that the product offered exactly fulfills the intended purpose – in the eyes of the target group. It is the basic requirement for successful company growth.
  3. Scaling: In this phase, the startup drives the number of users – and thus sales – up.

Growth hacking can only work on the basis of the right product market fit. Because only when the quality is right can the quantitative approach take effect, which takes up and reinforces the principle “if the product is overwhelming, I just have to get it out to the people”. The product market fit is the prerequisite for successful growth: If you neglect it, you may put your growth hacking measures in the wrong place and burn a lot of money.

Anyone who struggles with the product market fit should take a look at the bestseller “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries [6] , entrepreneur from Silicon Valley and author. There Ries writes: “If you have to ask whether you have Product-Market-Fit, the answer is simple: you don’t.” In other words: The solution must be so obvious that the question of whether the Product-Market-Fit is achieved, no longer represents. Anyone who tests their product on a test group and does not get excellent results has not yet completely done their homework.

The stages in the growth hacking process

Once the product-market fit has been achieved, scaling is “only” about one thing: growth, growth, growth – as quickly and cheaply as possible. This is essentially achieved through data-driven, quantitative experiments and systematic testing. Growth is measured by five metrics:

  • Acquisition: How do users find my product?
  • Activation: Do users have a good first experience with the product?
  • Receipt: Are users coming back?
  • Revenue: How much money do users spend?
  • Recommendation: does the product go viral?

The goal of a growth hacker is to support these metrics and drive them steadily upwards. To do this, he identifies concrete measures, implements them and learns in the process. This procedure is the so-called growth hacking process, which is divided into five steps: define goal, measure, test, learn, scale.

The goal definition

Goal definition is about accuracy: the goal must not be too broad. An example: Instead of “more sales”, which is an imprecise and therefore bad goal, a good target definition could be: “Double the sales per user within a week.” In order to know which goal you should work towards, you can approach the following hierarchy:

  • User growth
  • Increase in DAU (Daily Active Users)
  • Maximize user return
  • Increase usage rate

The order of these goals corresponds to their prioritization. That means: If the first goal is not fulfilled to a sufficient degree, it makes no sense to deal with goal number two. Only those who have enough users should be concerned with motivating them to use the service or product as long and as often as possible.

A wide variety of channels and formats can be used in each phase: social networks, e-mail, SEO, SEA, display, affiliate, videos, content marketing and much more. The possibilities are endless – and that means: the growth hacking process never stops. An important part of the target definition is the identification of a “lever” through which one’s own strengths can be optimally exploited.

For example, if you already have a broad database in the form of e-mail addresses, an e-mail campaign is ideal. If a talented designer works in the company, you could work with her to create a graphic medium, such as an infographic or a cartoon, that would be distributed virally across multiple channels. In order to be able to evaluate the results optimally, one has to find the right key figures and set up a functioning analysis system. If the turnover per user is to be doubled within a month, it is therefore important to measure the turnover and the time.

For example, it is important to determine whether the generation of sales equates to a conversion within a web analysis platform – such as Google Analytics or Adobe Site Catalyst – or to the outgoing e-mail for invoicing. This can make a huge difference. Different key figures can result from different web analysis platforms. Therefore, one must precisely define all the conditions for performance and success measurement.

Much sought-after growth hackers

Once the goal and the key figures to be measured have been defined, the planned measure can be implemented. For the sake of efficiency, a test is usually only carried out by the growth hacker. Staff from the specialist departments (product development, conversion optimization, design or SEO) are only rarely used for support. That’s why growth hackers are in great demand: They have a very diversified skill set (more on this in the section “What you can learn from growth hacking ”) and are able to make a big difference as a single force.

In the fourth phase it becomes apparent how exactly you worked in the first three phases, because now it is evaluated. If you have messed around with goal setting, measurement or implementation, you cannot learn anything from the attempt and it has failed. If the result corresponds to the expected objective, the experiment can be scaled up in the fifth step.

If this is not the case, the experiment is first optimized. Steps one to four are repeated with changed parameters: For example, you can select a different channel or address a different user base. If that’s not enough, the goal setting may be too high and should be corrected.

What you can learn from growth hacking

Growth hackers are particularly characterized by their ability to implement test chains completely on their own. Her knowledge spans areas as diverse as programming, design, online marketing, psychology, sales, product development and community management. Statistical knowledge and creativity also play a role, for example in correlation analyzes or brainstorming.

The Growth Hacker Skillset corresponds to the so-called “T-Shaped Model”: A broad basis of knowledge across all relevant areas and – based on this – special expertise in individual specialist disciplines. The first learning therefore means: Stand up broad.

The second important learning is: Make all decisions based on data. Growth hackers risk money and image to achieve growth. In order to secure your investment, your decisions are basically data-driven. The growth hacking process shows this very clearly. In many areas of the company, the principle of growth hacking could therefore be given greater consideration. Some big brands and companies have already done this successfully, as the following five examples illustrate.

Five legendary growth hacks

The following growth hacks are already legendary and give a good overview of what is possible:

  • One of the very first growth hacks was invented by the Hotmail email service in the 1990s. The trick was simple: every email automatically got the attachment “PS: I love you. Get your free email at “Hotmail” with a link to the homepage. This started a viral wave that brought the company 12 million new email accounts within a year.
  • Instagram is an example of effective cross-posting: Instagram users were able to share their pictures on Facebook very early on. The photo startup thus benefited from Facebook’s considerably larger user base, whose profile perfectly matched its product. Airbnb has also used this growth hack in the past to attract users: the startup allowed its users to automatically use the Craigslist advertising portal via a self-built interface and thus suddenly gained a lot of attention.
  • Through intelligent user analysis, Twitter found that users are most active when they have at least 30 followers. Therefore, the company implemented a suggestion function and multiplied the DAU (Daily Active Users) by more than four times in just a few months.
  • One of the best-known growth hacks is the suggested friends principle. Facebook, for example, learned through analyzes that the fewer friends they had in their network, the lower the activity of users. With suggestions for further friends, it helped its users to network more quickly and to feel comfortable. The result should be known to everyone.
  • A major factor in YouTube’s immense growth has been the ease with which the videos are distributed. With just one click, these can be embedded or shared on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit. YouTube videos were suddenly everywhere – and the platform filled with users very quickly.

Hype or growth driver?

Growth hacking is often dismissed as hype, which in principle doesn’t really bring anything new. Many critics also accuse growth hacking of a destructive nature that accepts growth “at any price”. Airbnb is often cited as an example, whose growth hack brought the startup tremendous attention, but was not compliant with Craigslist’s guidelines, which did not offer an open API for third-party providers.

However, the sophisticated approach in the examples and current developments show that growth hacking is no longer just a buzzword, but an effective approach for rapid growth. The entrepreneurial successes of the former startups that have made use of growth hacking methods – such as Airbnb or Facebook, but also Dropbox – are impressive.

Conclusion: Growth hacking is also becoming a trend in Germany

In Germany we will see more growth hacks in the future. Most of the developments in this area will probably continue to emerge from the startup scene, as startups are smaller, more flexible and less bound by guidelines – in addition, the employees there are often all-rounders and more broadly based.

In large corporations and corporations, there is only one way to grow hacking: autonomous teams of experts with the greatest possible authority. Because in order to achieve significant growth through growth hacking, the limits of politics, bureaucracy and hierarchy often have to be pushed to the limit or even bypassed.

Regardless of this, online marketers will position themselves more broadly overall, similar to what is already the case in the area of ​​SEO: Since the emergence of the content marketing trend, the areas of social, design and viral marketing have been expanding more and more.

This is how you protect yourself from SEO problems during A / B testing

We’ll show you what you should consider during A / B testing so that it doesn’t lead to problems from an SEO perspective.

Extensive A / B tests are an extremely important tool to increase the conversion rate. If you’re not careful, your test pages could have a negative impact on your SEO efforts. So that this doesn’t happen to you, we give you five tips to avoid any problems.

1. One page for the users, one for the Googlebot?

With today’s A / B test solutions, it shouldn’t be a problem anymore, but we would like to point out this danger to you. Based on the user agent, your server recognizes whether a visitor is a normal web surfer or a search engine bot. In order to get clean test results, you might be inclined to exclude the Googlebot from your test, for example, and to present it to another page – this technique is known as “cloaking”. However, Google explicitly wants to see what your visitors see. So if your A / B test solution does offer a possibility to use “cloaking”, you would do well not to use this function. In the end, you are only harming yourself.

2. But doesn’t Google index the wrong page?

You probably don’t want to find pages that you create exclusively for testing in the Google index. You have various options for this. For one, you could write the following two lines in your robots.txt file:

User-Agent: Googlebot

Disallow: /produkte/produkt-a-testseite.php

Alternatively, you can use a meta tag on the relevant page to specify that Google should not index the page. To do this, insert the following code into the meta tag in the header area of ​​the website concerned:

name=“robots“ content=“noindex“

If you suspect that your test page has already landed in the index because you didn’t think about the previous steps, you can check it by searching for it in the following way and typing it into Google site:eureDomain.com/TestPage.php. Should it appear on Google, you can request the deletion of the URL via Google’s Webmaster Tools .

SEO: You can remove unwanted indexed test pages using Google’s Webmaster Tools.

3. The use of the canonical tag on your test pages

A / B testing different URLs can cause problems. From Google’s point of view, you put two almost identical websites online. Google could remove one of them from the index, after all, search engine users do not want to stumble upon identical content all the time. However, you should also tell Google which of the two pages you would like to keep in the index. To do this, you have to determine beforehand which of the pages it should be. The canonical tag is inserted into the other and refers to the “correct” page. To make sure you don’t make any mistakes, you should read our article ” SEO: The five most common mistakes with the canonical tag “.

4. Don’t just kick the losers in the bin

When you’ve completed your test and there is a clear winner, what should happen to the loser? If you delete the page including the images and videos used, this could be a disadvantage for you. After all, visitors could also come across your site via the image search, for example. If you delete the image, Google will remove it from the search index and you will lose potential visitors. It would therefore make more sense to leave the images on the server. A 301 redirect can be used for the actual page so that visitors are still directed to the winning page.

5. No A / B test should take too long

Your test should be ended when you have obtained a meaningful result. Even if you’re not exactly the math geeks, your testing tool should let you know in advance. If you let your test run too long, Google could see it as a manipulation attempt.

If we discover a site running an experiment for an unnecessarily long time, we may interpret this as an attempt to deceive search engines and take action accordingly. This is especially true if you’re serving one content variant to a large percentage of your users.
From the article Website testing & Google search on the Google Webmaster Central Blog

You shouldn’t let that scare you. You should never stop an A / B test prematurely. But if you have enough data, you should act on this information and adjust the test accordingly.

Conclusion: A / B testing and SEO

From an SEO perspective, there is no reason to be afraid of an A / B test. If you watch what you are doing, it will benefit you significantly more than it could even remotely harm you. If you need ideas for your tests, take a look at our article “ A / B test: 71 tips for more conversions ”.

 

SEO: 7 tips for onpage optimization

Good rankings are not only based on good content, but also on a clean structure of your website. Kevin Jackowski from OnlineMarketingEinstieg.de explains which tricks you can use to gain advantages.

If you want to place your website successfully in search engines, you should try to get a deeper understanding of how it works. It should be seen as a privilege to get targeted traffic from the search results.

So that site operators can benefit from this privilege, they should make it easier for search engines to crawl their own website. Ultimately, they are interested in giving searchers the right answers to their questions. Questions that site owners prefer to answer with their own website.

What do search engines value?

In order for your own website to be found for the relevant questions or keywords, the search engine crawlers must reach the relevant subpages, interpret their content and process it correctly. Only then do they end up in the index and, if necessary, are delivered to matching search queries.

Nowadays, almost all areas are about energy and efficiency – including search engines. Each website receives a specific index and crawling budget, which tells the crawlers the estimated time required for a domain. Webmasters can make critical mistakes here by using existing budgets for the wrong resources. With the help of a few notes you can determine the relevance of individual content. Search engines understand these tips, set priorities based on them and can thus be controlled to a certain extent.

The instructions in detail

Webmasters who understand that they should manage the budget carefully can benefit from the resources that the search engine makes available to them. But what do crawlers watch out for? Which information are relevant for you and influence the processing of a website? My article aims to answer these questions.

1. Protect yourself from duplicate content

Many webmasters are unaware that duplicate content creates problems. On the one hand, search engines find it difficult to deliver the “correct” document for search queries. On the other hand, duplicate content wastes the existing crawl budget, so that relevant content may not get into the index. Search engines are getting better and better at identifying duplicate content and fixing the first problem. For webmasters, duplicate content still results in a waste of their own budget.

In some cases, duplicate content cannot be avoided. Under these circumstances, website operators should explain to the crawlers in the source code how to handle them. The following options are helpful:

  • The meta tag “noindex” : It ensures that a website is not included in the index. The meta tag is written in the <head> of the page and looks like this: <meta name = “robots“ content = “noindex“>. It helps to avoid the double indexing of “duplicate content”.
  • The canonical tag: It is used when there is little or no difference between pages. The “duplicates” of a page refer to the “original” using a canonical tag. Webmasters use it to explain to the search engine which sub-page should be included in the index and delivered in response to matching search queries. The canonical tag is also written in the <head> of the page and looks like this: <link rel = “canonical“ href = “http://www.beispiel.de/“>.
  • Correct status codes: Site operators should pay attention to correct status codes so that search engines save important resources. The following status codes are particularly relevant for search engines:
    • Status code 200 – OK: It signals to the crawlers that everything is OK with this page and that a document can be reached. Important: If it is an error page that should actually receive the status 404, then this must also be marked as a 404 page. If this is not the case, one speaks of “Soft 404” errors.
    • Status code 301 – Moved Permanently:  If a resource is permanently available under a different URL, it should be redirected using status code 301. This status code ensures that relevant “link juice” is passed on. So if a forwarding is permanent and not temporary, always use “status code 301”.
    • Status code 302 – Found:  With status code 302, crawlers receive the information that a website is only temporarily accessible under a different URL. This means that no “link juice” is passed on to the new link target.
    • Status code 404 – Not found:  A 404 error tells crawlers that a document is not available at the specified URL – a bad sign. Webmasters should keep the number of these errors low. The webmaster tools help track down 404 errors on your own website.
    • Status code 500 – Internal Server Error: When servers detect an internal error, they usually output a status code 500. Crawlers often stop crawling at this point and come back at a later point in time so that the server is not put under additional load.
    • Status code 503 – Service Unavailable:  If the status code 503 is output, the server is overloaded or is being serviced. For crawlers, this is an indication that they should continue their work at a later point in time. With the help of the “Retry-After” header field, webmasters can specify when the server will be able to process external requests again.

2. Avoid forwarding chains

Forwarding chains (also known as “redirect chains”) rob crawlers of important resources. Webmasters should therefore avoid this as much as possible. The incorrect use of status codes can lead to the fact that “Linkjuice” is not passed on, which is why site operators should refer to new link destinations with the correct status code (usually 301). Search engines partially cancel the crawling of the redirect chains. They also ensure increased loading times on mobile devices.

3. Structure your website with sitemaps

Sitemaps offer the opportunity to give crawlers an overview and to set priorities right from the start of their work. They can be separated in terms of content and can also be separated according to data type. so there are sitemaps for:

  • Content,
  • Videos,
  • Photos,
  • News,
  • mobile content.

In order for it to be found, the sitemap should be in the robots.txt of the website. If the maximum size is limited, webmasters can create a master that contains all other sitemaps.

Site operators can also submit the individual sitemaps in Google Webmaster Tools. In this way it can be checked to what extent the sitemaps have already been processed by the search engine.

Webmasters can use the following attributes to provide the crawler with additional information:

  • <changefreq>: This attribute indicates how often the content of the document changes and when a recrawl is appropriate. The following attributes are available: always , hourly , daily , weekly , monthly , yearly , never . With the help of these attributes, website operators can, for example, identify individual page areas whose content changes less often; archives are a good example of this.
  • <priority>: Webmasters who want to differentiate between the value of individual subpages in the sitemap can do so with this attribute. It indicates how high the priority of an individual document is compared to all other documents. The default value is “0.5”, the entire range is between “0.1” and “1.0”. With the help of this attribute, webmasters can tell the search engine which documents are particularly important to them, so that the search engine uses more resources for this.
  • <lastmod>: The attribute indicates when a sitemap was last changed. Important: This is not about the content, but about the sitemap. The use of this attribute is only necessary after adapting the sitemap.

4. Make hard-to-crawl content easy to understand

In the past, crawlers sometimes had difficulties with Ajax-based content. Although the processing has gotten better now, webmasters should help the crawlers with the processing of all subpages. If Ajax is used to dynamically reload content, the following should be observed:

  • In order for crawlers to process the elements marked with Ajax, they must be marked. To do this, the crawlers must be provided with other URLs, as Google explains in a manual .
  • The URLs must contain a token in the hash fragments, which signals the Ajax content to the crawlers. For unique pages, the token is an exclamation mark.
  • The crawlers must receive an HTML snapshot from the server for each URL to be indexed, which contains all content visible to the user. So that the server knows which version to give the crawlers, it temporarily changes the Ajax URL. It replaces the hash value (#!) In “? _Escaped_fragment_ =” and asks for the snapshot.
  • For pages that are to be indexed without hash fragments (for example the start page or individual subpages), the following meta tag must be inserted in the <head> of the page: <meta name = “fragment“ content = “!“>. Here, too, an HTML snapshot is required for the respective page, which crawlers can request from the server.
  • The URLs that are to be indexed in this form should also be entered in the sitemaps.

As a webmaster, to be sure that the search engine was able to process and index all Ajax content, you should check it with the help of the Google Webmaster Tools. In the “crawling” area you will find the menu item “retrieval as by Google”. Here users only have to enter the URL with the hash value (#!) And click on “Retrieve and render”.

5. Take advantage of internal links

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With the help of internal links, page operators can define the most important sub-pages of their website. The frequency with which a document is linked signals its priority to crawlers. Accessibility is also particularly important: the faster a subpage can be reached from the start page, the greater its importance. Site operators should therefore choose a flat hierarchy or make all sub-pages available using optimized paginations, link modules or sitemaps.

6. Create connections

Crawlers have problems recognizing the connection between two subpages, especially when it comes to paginated articles. Site operators can remedy this with the attributes <rel = “next“> and <rel = “prev“>. They are stored in the <head> of a website and thus create a relationship between several documents.

The attribute <rel = “next“> refers to the next parts of a document, <rel = “prev“> to the previous parts. Crawlers not only recognize the connection between two websites, but also their order.

7. Provide structured content

Structured data offer website operators another option to provide the crawler with additional information about the content stored on a website. They are integrated into the sub-pages by means of tags and partially affect their display in the search results. In this context, one also speaks of ” rich snippets “. They are available for the following types of information, among others:

  • reviews
  • Events
  • people
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Recipes
  • Products
  • Companies
  • music

In order to test whether this data has been correctly marked within the document, Google offers a ” test tool for structured data “.

Conclusion

Not only unique and high-quality content, but also an optimal technical infrastructure inspire the rankings of your websites. Therefore, always think of your two target groups: the users who want to read your content and the crawlers who have to interpret and process it.

They both want …

  • recognize contextual context,
  • get important information at a glance,
  • find thematically similar information with little effort,
  • read the selected document,
  • recognize a well-structured structure,
  • Receive as much relevant additional information as possible and
  • spend little energy searching for relevant information.

If you respond to these wishes, you will secure the sympathy of users and crawlers. And best of all, you will appreciate it.

Our article “ Onpage SEO: The Most Important Ranking Factors ” provides a basic introduction to the topic of onpage optimization .

Optimize SEO ranking through content personalization

Whether online shop, portal or news site – websites automatically personalize their content in order to offer their visitors exactly what they are looking for. But what do companies have to consider so that personalization also has a positive effect on search engine optimization?

Experts see the automated personalization of content as an important trend in online marketing . If websites only display the information and products that are particularly relevant for the respective visitor, this significantly increases both the conversion rate and user metrics – for example the duration of a visit or the number of pages viewed per visit. Amazon provides a good example of successful content personalization: The website evaluates user data so extensively that it can display precisely those products based on previous page views that are most likely relevant to the visitor.

But not only the industry leader Amazon is customizing its content based on user data. Since the costs of attracting (new) visitors are rising sharply, it is obvious that the shop operators attach a corresponding relevance to the conversion optimization and “pick up” the visitor in the conversion funnel in good time – that is, a “funnel” of conversion elements, which the Ultimately, it aims to guide website visitors to purchase.

The possibilities of automatic personalization are enormous. But how exactly should companies implement this technically so that it has a positive effect on search engine rankings?

Personalization versus cloaking

In its quality guidelines,  Google warns site operators against providing their visitors with different content or URLs than the search engine crawlers – a technique known as cloaking. Google’s negative attitude towards cloaking can be traced back to the early days of search engines, when website owners used this technique primarily as a means of deception.

At that time, websites gave search engines content for one reason only: to signal relevance for certain search terms and achieve good rankings accordingly. However, if a user clicked on the page, they saw completely different content – for example, content that was much less relevant, but wanted to push the purchase process with much stronger conversion elements. It is understandable that this form of misleading can neither be in Google’s sense nor in that of the user.

From a technical point of view, however, the suspicion of cloaking can also arise with individualized content. However, Google emphasizes that websites are primarily intended for users and not for search engines, so that personalized content makes perfect sense from the user’s point of view if well implemented.

The SEO- friendly personalization

Google itself therefore tries to take the fear of such a possible cloaking suspicion from website operators without malicious intent. Ultimately, they just shouldn’t show the Googlebot any content specifically aimed at it – and that’s exactly the case with typical content personalization.

In order to ensure that the individualization of content does not have a negative effect on the search results – i.e. there is no suspicion of cloaking – the content of a website should only be so highly individualized that personalized product content and static page content are in a balanced relationship to one another.

A fashion shop that is relevant to search terms such as “buy shoes” due to its content should therefore not only show shirts, but above all a suitable selection of shoes. Important: Content personalization when logged in has no relevance to search engine optimization, as the bots cannot read it.

No impact on SEO

Typically, the content customization has no direct influence on the search results. This is because the automatic personalization takes place on the user’s client – i.e. on their computer, for example using JavaScript. However, search engines evaluate the content of a website on the server side, since Google cannot access the corresponding client content.

Cookies are used, for example, to save which shop categories a visitor has called up during their previous visits. Even if Google could technically use these cookies, the search engine does not use them because this would significantly falsify the crawling results.

How customization influences SEO: length of stay and bounce rate

The technical implementation of automated personalization in relation to SEO is therefore all about avoiding errors that could negatively affect the ranking. However, the SEO can also be improved with the individualization of content.

The user metrics also ensure good rankings – in particular the bounce rate and the duration of visits per page view. The lower the bounce rate and the longer the dwell time on a page, the more relevant a website is for a certain search term according to Google’s algorithms – after all, previous visitors seem to have found exactly the content they expected.

The better the automatic personalization and the more relevant the content is for the page visitor, the greater the likelihood that the user will navigate the page and not jump off directly. Not only online shops can use this – for example, by showing users the categories they have prioritized. News sites can also benefit from the possibilities. For example, by showing their readers only the posts that have been added since their last visit.

In order to increase the length of time a visitor stays on a page, website operators can show returning users not only the articles they are looking for but also further information. For example, if a user searches for “apps for smartphones” and has previously selected a lot of content on the topic of “Apple iPhone” on the same page, the assumption is that he is looking for apps for his iPhone despite his rather unspecific search query. Online shops can also offer their visitors refill materials or add-ons for products that have already been purchased, for example, or present inexpensive upgrades for purchased software.

 

Of course, websites and the corresponding solutions can only achieve these effects if a user has already visited the website several times and his interests have been evaluated accordingly. Only through the history of a user does a website operator know which categories, products or articles are particularly relevant to him.

Conclusion

Those who stick to a few rules of the game with automated content personalization and avoid suspicion of cloaking do not have to fear any penalties with regard to SEO. On the other hand, there are opportunities for optimization through the individualization of the user metrics, length of stay and bounce rates, which as Google ranking criteria increase the relevance of a website with regard to certain keywords. In this way, personalized content can help websites rank well in search results.

Marketing automation: 7 examples of how to get started

After years of being declared dead, email is more alive today than ever. We bring you seven tips from the Internet World trade fair, which will show you how to set up better e-mail marketing campaigns in line with our “Theme Week Marketing: Content, SEO, CRM ”.

7 examples of marketing automation: how to boost your e-commerce

Email marketing is one of the tools that helps to achieve set goals relatively inexpensively. In addition to the completely new channels such as Snapchat and Co., the classic route via email should not be neglected. When it comes to newsletters, companies should primarily focus on individualization – which is not always as difficult as it sounds. With relatively simple means, campaigns can be created that convert well and address each user individually.

However, there are two important points to consider: You need a proper database that can be built up gradually and a proper connection to the e-mail system in order to keep the effort as low as possible. It is of course also important to ensure that the opt-in is obtained from the recipient in order to send further information that does not directly affect the customer’s purchase. Shop operators should therefore ensure that they obtain this as early as possible.

In his lecture at the Internet World Fair, Jörg Arnold, Managing Director of the email marketing provider mailingwork , showed seven simple examples that lead shop owners to great success with little effort.

1. Welcome series

A customer is happy to receive emails in which you thank you for registering. This mail can also be used to collect further data for later automatic customization of the mails to the customer. In addition, the first sales can be generated with a test offer or a voucher. Arnold’s recommendation: The emails could initially be sent every three days, then less often. He also provides another important factor: Even the opt-in e-mail should be stylish and, above all, designed in the company’s corporate design – small lever, big effect, says Arnold.

2. Product recommendations in the newsletter

Arnold’s practical example and tip number two are product recommendations in newsletters. Here, too, e-mails can be personalized with relatively simple means, starting with recommendations based on gender or other characteristics that one receives from the customer.

3. Transactional emails

Transactional emails are particularly popular with users. What happens to the order, what is the status and when can it be expected? The opening rates are extremely high and so these emails also have a high potential – although the double opt-in must of course also be observed if advertising is to be placed there. In addition, according to Arnold, the personal “signature” is an important factor. Emails that come directly from the customer advisor generate more attention.

4. Cart abandonment emails

So-called shopping cart abandonment e-mails are increasingly being used in the shop area. Many large shops already rely on reminding customers of the abandoned purchase process. Again, of course, nothing works without the consent of the recipient – but if you have this, Arnold recommends shipping within 24 to 48 hours after canceling the purchase.

5. Loyalty campaigns

Like the ancient voucher inserts in order catalogs, vouchers for loyal customers also work wonders. There it is important to get creative and find suitable occasions. Birthdays and the Christmas holidays are a bit worn out. It is worth looking for alternatives. For birthdays, for example, you could send a suitable email a few weeks in advance containing offers for planning a birthday party.

6. Reviews

Reviews are extremely important to online retailers. Email is a great way to get them from customers. This type of automated marketing email also attracts a lot of attention and makes a positive impression on customers.

7. Reactivation emails

The majority of your own newsletter subscribers are silent, you don’t get any feedback from them and they haven’t bought a product from you for a long time. Here, too, there is potential for email marketing. If you manage to get these customers to order again with automated and personalized reactivation emails, you have already achieved a lot. This works, for example, by giving away vouchers.

Conclusion

E-mails are easy to implement, there are many services that support you in sending newsletters and that also enable customization. These services take over a large part of the campaign management and the click and conversion rates are a lot higher if you rely on personalization – a huge advantage over normal newsletters.

SEO without backlinks: nonsense or future?

For every SEO, manipulating links is one of the strategic goals. Search engine operators, on the other hand, are trying to curb the abuse of backlinks more and more. Could it soon be the case that links no longer have any influence on search engine ranking? As part of our “Theme Week Marketing: Content, SEO, CRM ”, author Darius Erdt tries to answer this question.

Links between websites have always been one of the most central ranking factors in search engines. For this reason, manipulating links and influencing link structures are crucial strategic goals in search engine optimization. For many years a website could be promoted to the top positions in Google search results with a high degree of probability through targeted link building.

Now that Google has been regulating the topic more and more through algorithmic and manual penalties, building effective links has become much more difficult. At the same time, Google is increasingly taking into account the actual content, semantics and user signals when developing the ranking algorithm.

At the latest since SEOkomm 2014, when Marcus Tandler, Managing Director of Onpage.org GmbH, prophesied the death of the links in the next two years, this topic has been increasingly discussed in the SEO scene. So what role will backlinks , once one of the most important building blocks for ranking, play for search engines in the future?

Back to the beginning: Google and the backlinks

First a look back: Larry Page and Sergey Brin managed to make Google the most successful search engine in the world. Based on the reference information in scientific documents and the basic principles of bibliometrics, they developed a search engine in which links between websites became an important ranking factor. Since then, these have been used by almost all common search engines as an important support for determining the relevance of documents. From their original point of view, they are always to be understood as a means of navigation and reference to a further source and thus as a kind of recommendation.

Limits and problems

As the following examples show, it is not possible to assign this original meaning to every link on the Internet. Much more were and are basic content limits with regard to backlinks. And yet, Google has made links a central component of the ranking algorithm.

1. Negative reporting

For example, when companies are involved in a scandal and react to it with good PR, mentions and links are often created. However, these are not to be understood as a reference or recommendation.

2. Partnerships and sponsorship

For example, if companies are part of a group or an alliance, or if the corporate strategy relies heavily on sponsoring, there are often strong links between them. Strictly speaking, these are not recommendations in the strict sense of the word.

3. Possibilities for manipulation

Since backlinks have been a ranking factor on Google, SEOs have taken advantage of this and tried to find ways to build links. Link building has always been a kind of cat and mouse game between SEOs and Google. In the past few years, Google has done a lot to combat manipulated link building, which has created great uncertainty among advertising companies. Nevertheless, from Google’s point of view, this problem has not been completely resolved and not all manipulation attempts can be clearly identified.

4. Linkbaits and content marketing promotions

With linkbaits, it is important to critically question whether the links generated by it really meet the ranking criteria that Google originally had in mind. For example, what does an advisory e-book that was designed to collect links say about a domain’s worth of recommendation? And what does a linkbait say about the relevance of the website doing it?

Example: This linkbait from Kaufda generated over 200 backlinks, many of them from fire department sites. To what extent these links fit into the core service and are in the spirit of Google remains questionable.

In view of such excesses, Google has done a lot in recent years not to distort the ranking results too much. On the one hand, the group has switched to changing the weighting of the backlinks compared to other ranking factors. On the other hand, Google has manually punished link networks, link buyers and sellers in the past and rolled out the Penguin update. However, the manipulative influences of links cannot be completely controlled. Will Google ultimately forego this factor entirely?

Yandex as a pioneer

Ever since the Russian search engine Yandex announced at the end of 2013 that it would no longer consider links in commercial search queries in the Moscow region, this topic has moved more and more into the focus of the SEO scene. Based on this, some SEO experts postulated the imminent death of links as a direct ranking factor. In March 2015, Yandex surprised the SEO community with the news that in the future they will be relying on backlinks to assess relevance.

After all, Yandex’s change of course in 2014 caused many companies, according to the search engine operator, to devote more attention to paid search engine advertisements, content and the usability of their pages in order to increase their traffic and conversions. Instead of buying links, a process has been initiated that has led website owners to focus more on their users. Ultimately, however, a number of SEOs that were too large for Yandex still seemed to be investing in the purchase of links, so that the operators ultimately decided on the same path as Google: evaluating links as a positive and negative ranking factor .

This U-turn and, above all, the official justification was quite surprising: If you are so firmly convinced that a search engine without backlinks leads to the best possible results, Yandex shouldn’t really have cared whether search engine optimizers in Russia continue to build links or not. After all, these links would have no effect on the rankings. So is it not possible without backlinks?

Google tests algorithm without links

Google has already practically worked through the idea of ​​excluding backlinks as a ranking factor. In February 2014, Matt Cutts , then head of Google’s web spam team, stated that the quality of the ranking results would be “much, much worse” if this factor were to be avoided altogether. At the same time he heated up speculations about the future of the search algorithm with a vague formulation that backlinks “at least until now” are still an important factor for determining the relevance of websites. So is Google also working on a future of ranking without links? In any case, three observations make it clear that in addition to backlinks, other factors are playing an increasingly important role in positioning in Google rankings.

Other positioning factors

Time and again, examples of “landing pages” attract attention, which were able to achieve very good rankings simply through their holistic content preparation and without backlinks. These pages rank so well because they take up all conceivable questions on a topic and are therefore a holistic document on the Internet. One of the most prominent “linkless ranking” examples is the over 5,000 words containing the landing page of the online marketers Karl Kratz, Risikolebensversicherungen.com .

At SEO round tables and conferences, individual phenomena are also reported in which website operators were able to achieve some top 10 rankings for projects for a short time without any special impact. So far, this has been explained by the fact that Google initiates testing here independently of external factors such as backlinks. First, it checks how users react if the website in question ranks for less contested keywords. If this test is successful, i.e. hardly any users jump back to the Google results page, the website secures the chance to achieve better rankings even for more competitive keywords .

In addition, a method was presented in February 2015 in the research report “ Knowledge-Based Trust ” by Google, which evaluates a website independently of links. Here, one concentrates on the correctness of the content of the published facts and measures the trustworthiness of the site based on the number of errors. This principle is currently only a study and not yet included in Google’s search algorithm.

However, the often mentioned “linkless ranking” examples are often very specific with regard to their topic, competitive environment and user intention. It is doubtful whether these individual phenomena allow conclusions to be drawn about all keywords and the future of the search algorithm. At the same time, it is questionable whether an expansion of the content is always a sensible way from a conversion point of view for every topic and every page type. Are holistic websites necessarily the better sites? And if a large number of website operators do their on-page homework, isn’t an additional external instance still necessary to put websites in a meaningful ranking order? Aren’t backlinks still the best way to do this?

The importance of links in transition

The importance of links in the search engine algorithm is changing and is no longer the strongest SEO factor. However, it is currently not foreseeable that Google will do without it in the future. Link building will continue to be a relevant part of search engine optimization. Nevertheless, it is advisable to see offpage optimization more and more as a tool for building reputation rather than just as a supplier of ranking-relevant backlinks. It is also advisable to check which link building options are really useful for each topic and project. A fashion or travel brand, for example, has more opportunities for cooperation than a financial or B2B company due to the existing linkerati, and a brand that does a lot of PR and marketing,