Author: Rebecca Sentance

Why are enterprise companies missing out on search?

SEO and search marketing are a vital part of any marketing strategy, linking together channels like social media, content marketing and offline advertising.

But a survey into the marketing channels used by large enterprises has found that 91% don’t prioritise search at all.

The research, carried out by B2B research firm Clutch and digital agency R2integrated (R2i) among 500 U.S. enterprise companies, found that only 5% of companies surveyed consider paid search ads to be a top priority marketing channel in the next 6-12 months, while only 4% are prioritising organic SEO.

Enterprises which don’t prioritise search in their marketing strategy are missing out on customer demand, as customers will often pull out their phones or go online to search for a brand after hearing about them on TV, by email or on social media. In any multichannel brand marketing strategy, search tends to be the glue that holds it all together.

So why are enterprises failing to give search the proper emphasis in their marketing, and what can be done about it?

Measurement and metrics

The enterprises surveyed by Clutch and R2i gave various reasons for why search isn’t a priority in their marketing strategy.

Among the respondents who are involved in search marketing, the top challenge was proving ROI from search marketing (cited by 18%).

Other challenges preventing enterprise marketers from making full use of search included technical skill (13%) and keeping up with best practices (10%).

Kara Alcamo, Vice President of Digital Activation at R2integrated, agrees that it is difficult to “prove” ROI from SEO and search marketing, as there are so many different factors that can lead a buyer to take the next step.

“For example, did someone fill out a form because they saw a paid search ad, or was that paid search ad the last step in a series of brand interactions that included seeing a print ad, reading sponsored content, and seeing the brand at an event? More than likely, that paid search ad is not the sole contributor to a person’s decision to convert, but we aren’t able to track every granular interaction a person has with the brand.

That said, the first step is to ensure you’re tracking what you can, that those data sets are integrated, which will allow you to create an attribution model. This really should be a cross-department initiative, not limited to search or even to paid media.”

Many enterprises are also falling down when it comes to tracking the right metrics. When asked about the most important metric for SEO success, the most common response (cited by 28% of respondents who are involved in search marketing) was traffic volume.

Second was leads and conversions (cited by 23%), followed by onsite engagement (19%), keyword rankings (16%), and impressions, awareness and sentiment (15%).

It is tempting to look at traffic as the best indicator of SEO success, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. If you’re getting a lot of visitors to your website, but hardly any conversions from them, then is your search marketing really doing its job?

Similarly, having a high keyword ranking might be meaningless on its own. As Krista LaRiviere points out in her piece on why conversions, not rankings, matter, a better-performing keyword is one which delivers traffic and conversions, not just one that appears higher up the SERP. One can lead to the other, of course – but it’s not a given.

With that said, tracking conversions from search isn’t always easy. The easiest way to track lead generation and conversion from search, says Kara Alcamo, is to ensure you’re tracking form conversions on your website…

“The more complicated method involves multi-touch, multi-channel campaign tracking in which you’ve put together an attribution model and are attributing ROI and conversions back to search even when they’re not last-click.”

If you use Google AdWords for search marketing, you can also use it to track conversions, including across devices.

Knowing which metrics to track and measure is crucial to proving the ROI for SEO and search marketing. And being able to make a strong marketing case for search is the first step to seeing more companies focusing on this fundamental area of marketing.

An integrated approach

As it is, Clutch and R2i found that less than half of the enterprises they surveyed (47%) carry out search engine optimisation, making it only the 9th most used marketing channel, behind such channels as print, direct mail and events.

Paid search advertising is even more under-utilised, used by only 40% of enterprises and coming 12th out of a list of the 15 marketing channels most used by enterprises.

I asked Alcamo if this attitude could possibly be a result of enterprises not viewing SEO as a “marketing channel.” Do enough companies think of search as part of marketing, or do they view it as a separate area of technical wizardry that doesn’t concern marketing? Alcamo replied:

“SEO itself has changed so much that there isn’t a lot of “pure” SEO anymore. It’s a channel in the sense that you should have a dedicated expert who is focused on improving performance in organic search results, but its identity is inextricably linked with other “channels”.

A robust SEO strategy could include integrated efforts across IT, social, content, PR, and media. So I can see how it can be tough to draw the line between SEO and other channels.”

Alcamo believes that taking an integrated, inter-departmental approach to SEO is the best way to keep on top of the changing search industry and get the most out of your marketing efforts.

“I think even enterprises who understand the importance can have trouble executing on SEO strategies which require the involvement of many different departments.

I would look at your SEO resource as a consultant who should be involved in many efforts across departments, in addition to handling pure SEO. They aren’t going to dictate the information architecture of your new website, for example, but by bringing them in to review the IA before you move into development, you’ll ensure you aren’t missing any content that’s necessary to maintain or improve organic performance, and essentially save yourself more work and stress down the line.”

This article was previously published on our sister website Search Engine Watch.

40 free digital marketing tools to grow your business

If you’re just starting out with a business, or looking for tools to help you grow, there is a huge array of digital marketing tools, platforms and services available online.

But if you have a small budget to work with or you aren’t sure which are the right tools for you to be investing your money into – or maybe you just want to bolster your digital marketing without spending too much – then how can you narrow your options down?

To help out, we’ve put together a hefty list of 40 free digital marketing tools that can help you grow your business, in every area of marketing: from email to events, content to social media.

This is partly a refreshed and updated version of the excellent list of 50 digital marketing tools to grow your start-up put together by Bryan Eisenberg last year, and incorporates many of his picks as well as suggestions from the comments section. If you know any great free tools that have been helpful in your own digital marketing efforts, please suggest them in the comments!

General sales & marketing

Hubspot

Hubspot is an inbound marketing software platform, much of which is free to use. Its free sales software allows you to build email templates, a shared library of sales content and documents, integrate with Gmail and Outlook, schedule emails and more.

Hubspot also offers a free Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software which integrates with it. If you’re minded to upgrade, the Pro version starts at $50 per person per month. (Suggested by Luke Hamon)

Sniply

Sniply is a very interesting tool which lets you build custom calls to action (CTAs) and add them to content that you share. As long as the page you’re sharing supports iframes, you can create your custom CTA button and message and add it in over the page, which only the people who access your link will be able to see.

SumoMe

SumoMe boasts a powerful suite of marketing tools, including content analytics, an email scroll box, contact form, image sharer and more. The free version gives access to all of SumoMe’s apps, plus more features like A/B testing are available to Pro subscribers, starting at $20 a month.

Ampervize

If you aren’t sure where to start with digital marketing tools, a free report from Ampervize could give you a springboard. Based on your responses to a couple of simple questions about your business, it will produce a tailored report recommending marketing providers and the areas of marketing which are most likely to deliver results.

Cyfe

Cyfe is an all-in-one dashboard for managing your business tools online. Add widgets for everything from advertising tools to blog platforms, email tools, SEO and social media to manage them all in one place. The free version supports up to 5 widgets, or you can upgrade to premium for $19/month.

Email marketing

Boomerang

Boomerang is a free app for Gmail, Outlook and Android with a range of email management tools. It integrates easily with your inbox interface to add features like email scheduling, snoozing, read receipts and follow-up reminders.

I use this all the time simply for email scheduling and read receipts, and Boomerang has developed some more advanced features aimed at businesses, including – most recently – an AI assistant which helps you to craft the perfect email, launched just this week.

MailChimp

You’ve probably come across MailChimp in your travels (especially if you’ve ever listened to the podcast Serial), and there’s a good reason why it’s so popular.

Completely free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month, it’s an easy option for small businesses and groups to get to grips with newsletters, with built-in signup forms, templates and free data insights to track how your email marketing stacks up against your industry.

Klaviyo

Klaviyo is an email marketing software which helps you send out personalised and targeted emails, and is free to use for up to 250 contacts and 500 email sends. The free accounts also include A/B testing tools, integrations, segmentation and a drag-and-drop responsive email creator.

Structured Data Markup Helper

Schema.org is a type of structured data markup that you can add to emails in Gmail to enable some great interactive marketing features, like auto-adding to Google Calendar, one-click reviews and RSVPs and integration with search.

Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper does all the hard work of coding for you, and all you have to do is highlight the relevant part of an email and select from the drop-down menu to mark it up. For more information on Schema.org for emails and getting started, check out how to add Schema.org markup to your email marketing.

Hiver

Hiver is an email collaboration tool designed to help you work more efficiently using shared accounts. Track tasks, access shared mailboxes, write notes, assign emails to team members and mark them completed when done. The free version supports up to 3 users, or you can upgrade from $6/month to work with larger teams.

Content creation & curation

Apester

Apester is a handy free tool for creating interactive content like quizzes, which can liven up your content marketing with some fun and engaging pieces. We’ve been using it here at ClickZ and Search Engine Watch to power challenges such as ‘How well do you know these 25 SEO abbreviations?‘ and ‘Can you decipher these marketing and business buzzwords?

Piktochart

Piktochart is a popular and easy-to-use tool for creating infographics, along with other types of visual content like presentations and posters. Its drag-and-drop interface is really simple and the results look slick and professional.

Canva

Canva is another versatile, free visual content creation tool – and in the age of the visual web, you might as well have all the tools you can at your disposal! Canva helps you create attractive visuals for everything from social media graphics to presentations, banners, blog graphics and business cards.

Listly

Listly is a fun and free platform for curating and sharing all sorts of lists, on any topic from film to technology, education to marketing. Other users can follow your lists and upvote their favourite items to make them rank higher. I’ve curated the tools in this article into their own Listly, so feel free to comment and upvote your favourites!

Triberr

Triberr is one part content sharing platform, one part influencer marketing platform. If you’re a blogger or content creator, you can use it as a platform to share content with a network of fellow content creators, and join groups for specific interests and topic areas – think of it like LinkedIn groups.

If you’re an agency, however, you can also use Triberr to conduct influencer marketing campaigns. You can prepare a campaign for influencers to apply to, set a budget, digital assets, goals and more. While you do have to pay the influencer(s), everything else is free to use with no other fees.

Social media

Socioboard

Socioboard is a social media management platform for businesses and brands, aimed at helping them with lead generation, customer support, marketing and engagement. You can connect up a range of accounts including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to manage them from a central dashboard. The free version offers scheduling features, CRM and reporting tools for up to 5 profiles. (Suggested by Rupak Som)

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a widely-used social media management tool which allows you to manage and co-ordinate multiple social networks, schedule posts, track analytics and keep tabs on certain keywords and hashtags via its ‘streams’ feature.

The free version allows you to connect up to three accounts, or you can upgrade to one of its paid accounts for more features.

TweetReach

TweetReach is a great tool for analysing the reach of any username, hashtag or keyword, estimating how many impressions it has made and how many individual accounts have been reached.

The free version only gives a snapshot of the past 100 tweets, so to get a more detailed analysis, you would need to upgrade to one of the paid options – or you can take multiple snapshots to build up a picture over time.

socialmention

socialmention allows you to search for any word, phrase or hashtag to see where people are using it across the internet. It’s useful for keeping tabs on a hashtag campaign or brand name beyond social media, as it also covers blogs, bookmarks, images and videos. You can also see whether people are using your term in a positive or negative context, its level of reach, and whether users are mentioning it repeatedly.

Simply Measured

Simply Measured provides a selection of free reports you can use to analyse various social media accounts, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Even more in-depth is its Social Traffic Analysis, which works in conjunction with Google Analytics to give an overview of your site’s social traffic, presenting it in a visual and easy-to-read format.

If you want to go further with social media tracking and analytics, don’t miss our list of nine free tools for measuring social ROI!

Video

Instagram Video

Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter all have their video offerings, but Instagram is still, as Christopher Ratcliff wrote in his piece on the best branded Instagram videos of 2016, “one of the best places for brands to experiment with short form video”.

Instagram video has all the filters you’ll be familiar with from uploading photographs, plus a choice of ratio and now a full 60 seconds to play with. You can shoot directly within the app or upload and trim an existing video.

Wistia

Wistia is a video hosting service for businesses, which came highly recommended by local SEO expert Greg Gifford in his Brighton SEO presentation on going beyond local SEO. It provides detailed analytics, engagement graphs and heat maps to show exactly how users have interacted with a video. The free option only supports three videos, but you can upgrade from $10/month to one of its paid options.

Powtoon

Powtoon is a free tool for creating animated marketing videos, explainers, animated infographics, or even videos and presentations that you can share internally within your business. The free account allows for videos of up to five minutes, with a watermark and outro. (Recommended by Deepak Gawas)

WeVideo

WeVideo is an online video editing and collaboration tool, with cloud storage, a music library and editing on-the-go with a mobile app. The free version allows for five minutes of video publishing in 720p, with watermark.

Events

Eventbrite

Eventbrite is a widely-used and effective event hosting platform which allows you to create an event, invite attendees, manage tickets and registrations and promote your event to a wider audience. While it’s only free if your event is free to attend, there are fairly low fees for paid tickets, which you can often pass on to buyers as part of the event registration.

Lanyrd

An extensive social discovery platform for professional events, Lanyrd is great both for publicising your own event and finding other events at which to network, learn and make contacts. It allows attendees to share videos, slides and podcasts after the event, with remote tracking features so that anyone who couldn’t make it can follow along remotely.

Slideshare

Slideshare is an important complement to any event – the most convenient way to share and save presentation slides after an event has taken place, and a great platform for reaching a business audience.

AppsGeyser

AppsGeyser is a free tool designed to let you easily create an Android app. You can use it for any purpose, but it would be particularly useful for an event where you’d like to create a one-use app that will keep attendees connected and up to date, without a lot of expenditure.

HelloSign

HelloSign is a tool for helping you to get event contracts (and other types of contract) signed by requesting electronic signatures from up to 20 different people. It uses SSL encryption to keep documents safe, and will send out an email copy to everyone who signed a document, for their records. The free version is limited to 3 documents per month from a single sender; paid versions start from $13/month and have a 30-day free trial.

Analytics

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a must-have for any suite of analytics tools, and the best part is that it’s completely free. Google’s all-in-one analytics dashboard gives insights into different traffic sources, pageviews, demographics, SEO, social media and a wealth of other information.

To find out how to set up Google Analytics for your website for the first time, check out YuYu Chen’s comprehensive beginner’s guide. Our guide to confusing terms is also on hand to help you decipher the lingo!

Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is a content analysis tool which gives you a breakdown of the social shares for content published to any domain, allowing you to discover the most popular and shareable content for your own website – or a competitor’s – and find out which networks your content resonates with. Upgrading to a Pro account also gives you insight into backlinks and influencers, allowing you to see exactly who is sharing your content.

Bitly

Bitly is a free link shortening and tracking tool, which monitors traffic and referrals via custom links and displays detailed analytics about clicks, location, referring websites, activity over time and more. It’s widely used by publishers and businesses alike, and has a handy tagging system you can use to keep track of links from different marketing campaigns or portals.

Quill Engage

Quill Engage provides reports which explain your Google Analytics data in plain English. So if you’re feeling baffled by all of the numbers and technical terms, give a free report a go – the free version offers reports for one Google Analytics account, which you can have delivered weekly and monthly.

SimilarWeb & GetHoneybadger

SimilarWeb is a useful tool for keeping tabs on your competitors. Using its free search tool, you can dig up stats on any website, including its rank globally, within its leading country, and within its respective category; traffic by country and sources; search and referral traffic; and more.

You can also audit yourself for some insightful stats, and put your performance side-by-side with competitors to see how you can compare.

For an even more seamless process, you can also use the Chrome extension Gethoneybadger to dig up stats about any website with one click. Gethoneybadger uses SimilarWeb to pull in analytics about that specific website, displaying them in a little window in the corner of your screen.

SEO

Google Search Console

Much like Google Analytics, Google Search Console is a must-have resource for webmasters, and is free to set up for your website. With it, you can monitor your site’s performance, identify any issues, submit content to be crawled, check on your mobile friendliness, view the searches that brought users to your site, and much more besides.

Christopher Ratcliff has written a complete overview of Google Search Console over at Search Engine Watch which breaks down each individual area and how to use it.

SEO SiteCheckup

SEO SiteCheckup will give you a quick and detailed health check of your website’s SEO for free, with an overall SEO score out of 100, along with a downloadable PDF report and information on keyword usage, images, backlink authority and other handy insights.

Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress

Yoast is a free plugin for WordPress to help you easily manage SEO and optimise your webpages. You can use it to set templates for, and optimise, titles and meta descriptions, enter focus keywords, and fine-tune just about everything you could want about your Google listing.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool

The Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool is a desktop app that you can install on PC, Mac or Linux, which will crawl websites and analyse them for common SEO issues, such as broken links, duplicate content and response time. The free version works for up to 500 URLs, or you can buy an annual license for £99/year, which will also unlock a set of advanced configuration options.

Google’s Mobile Friendly and Speed Test Tool

For your business to be able to compete online, it’s become imperative to have a properly-optimised mobile site. Mobile traffic has surpassed desktop web traffic for the first time in 2016, and Google’s various ‘mobilegeddon‘ algorithm updates have increasingly penalised sites that aren’t optimised for mobile. So to give your site the best chance in search, it pays to track down and fix up those issues that keep it from working well on mobile.

Luckily, Google has made this free and quick to do with its Mobile Friendly and Speed Test Tool, which will analyse and test your site for mobile functionality and also speed issues, and advise you on how to fix them. Of course, you can always beat Google to the punch with our mobile-friendliness checklist.

If you want to dive into free search optimisation tools in more depth, including site health checkers, sitemap generators, keyword research tools and more, don’t miss our roundup of 26 expert-recommended free SEO tools over on our sister site Search Engine Watch.

Are you paying enough attention to reviews in your local SEO?

Sponsored content in collaboration with ReviewJump. Views expressed in this article are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect ClickZ’s opinions.

Customer reviews are an important contributing factor to local search rankings. But Brodie Tyler, founder of ReviewJump, believes that they aren’t given enough emphasis – by businesses or the SEO community.

The business of reputation management has changed drastically with the advent of the internet.

The BrightLocal Local Customer Review Survey 2015 found that 92% of customers will read online reviews to determine whether a local business is a good one, and that 80% of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

“Pre-internet, you used to ask around, ask your friends and family for recommendations, and that was basically your reputation. Now, with the internet, everything’s public. You can’t hide anything. Customers can leave you a review without your control,” says Tyler.

“So yes, things have changed drastically over the years, and that’s why you have to invest in it and pay more attention to it. Whether you like it or not, you have an online reputation. It’s just a matter of whether or not you’re going to do something about it.”

A direct correlation with ranking

Tyler founded ReviewJump, a web app that makes it easy for businesses to solicit customer reviews and to deal with negative feedback before it reaches the review stage, because he saw a niche in the market for businesses to directly control their online reputation.

“I come from the agency world, and ReviewJump was born out of my frustration at not being able to control the number of reviews our clients were obtaining,” he says. “I could control just about everything else – their link building, their on-site optimization; we can even control their content marketing. One thing I didn’t have was the right tool for helping our clients get more reviews.”

“Reviews have a direct correlation on where you rank in the local search results,” adds Tyler. “I know that because I did the research myself, personally.”

Tyler individually analyzed 22,000 local business listings on Google and Yelp in order to prove his own theory about the impact of reviews on local SEO rankings. “This was prior to launching ReviewJump, and I was in search of validation for reinvesting in our reputation management software; that’s why I was doing this research.”

He found that the top three local search results on Google, also known as the ‘three-pack’ of local search, have an average of 472% more reviews than those in the fourth, fifth and sixth positions.

The research showed that 66% of the time, the first three local search results had more reviews than the second three. And 63% of the time, the local listing with the most reviews overall would be ranked in the top three results.

Source: ReviewJump

The importance of online reputation

In spite of the persuasive SEO argument in favor of reviews, Tyler believes online reputation management isn’t valued as much as it should be.

“In my experience, a very small percentage [of companies] are actually doing anything about it,” he said. “Which I think can offer them a competitive advantage. If only a small percentage are paying attention to their reviews and online reputation, including yourself, that can give you an advantage.”

In its local search ranking factors for 2015, Moz ranked review signals – which encompasses review quantity, velocity and diversity – seventh out of a total of eight overall ranking factors, crediting it with an 8.4% influence on local search ranking. But Tyler believes this undervalues the importance of reviews to local SEO.

“I think that’s not accurate; I think that’s too low. I’ve done the research on that,” he says. “Maybe there needs to be more research into reviews as an overall ranking factor, or maybe it hasn’t been publicized enough.”

Source: Moz

ReviewJump have seen the benefits of an increased number of reviews for their own clients. “There’s a medical spa in Arizona, Vitality Med Spa. They’ve been in business for years, but they only had a dozen or so reviews before they started with us. And in the last three weeks alone, they’ve gotten 33 new reviews in one location.

“That’s an increase of about 400%, all of them either four or five stars.” And, crucially, the spa is also ranking at number one in the three-pack of local search results.

Another client, a chain of boutique hotels, has enjoyed an increase of 335% more reviews each month since starting with ReviewJump. And one of the company’s earliest clients, Modern Dental, was ranked tenth in the local SERPs shortly after it came on board with ReviewJump, but is now showing up in the three-pack.

If Tyler could give one tip to companies looking to improve their online reputation management, it would be to understand that their reputation truly does affect their revenue. “You’re in business to make money. And I believe that people are missing out by not giving their online reputation the credence it deserves.

“The more reviews you have, the higher you’re going to rank, the more traffic you’re going to get, the more phone calls you’re going to get, the more customers you’re going to sell to.”

Sponsored content in collaboration with ReviewJump. Views expressed in this article are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect ClickZ’s opinions.

For more information on ReviewJump and to take a tour of the software, visit the ReviewJump website.