Mastering Cognitive Biases to Optimize Your Website Content

Human Brain Algorithm

 

“It is not enough to conquer; one must learn to seduce.” – Voltaire

It’s not enough to conquer the mind. To connect a website to an audience, you need to learn to seduce it. 

The evolutionary wiring of our brains makes us respond to certain emotions in a fairly consistent and predictable fashion. We like to buy from who we trust. We like to hire and do business with the people we like. We like to be in control. We are averse to risk. We are influenced by social proof and what others say. We like to seek out the most compelling offer and to feel like we got the best deal. Sometimes we experience buyer’s remorse, but more often than not we find ourselves enthusiastically recommending the brands we like to our friends and family. 

Provoking any combination of these simple emotions will determine the fate of your website. What is more, emotions such as trusting or liking are usually triggered subconsciously, almost automatically, during the first few seconds of an interaction with a website. The human brain is powerful but subject to limitations. We like to think that we are logical, reasonable, and objective in our decision-making… but the truth is, we rely heavily on these mental shortcuts to make sense of and thrive in our environment.

What are cognitive biases?

We cannot be running thousands of conscious calculations per second in our brain every time we visit a website or meet someone new. It would be exhausting! So, we’ve learned to trust recurring appearances to help our brains make sense of new environments. When you see a police car in your rearview mirror you’ll almost automatically check your speedometer and find your foot touching the brake pedal. Our brains rely on these systematic behavioral patterns to form mental shortcuts to help us make decisions, which are referred to as cognitive biases in the field of psychology. 

These biases are often a result of your brain’s attempt to simplify information processing. They can work as “rules of thumb” or “standard operating procedures” that help us make decisions with reasonable speed. Most human behavior is driven by these mental shortcuts whether we like it or not. 

Researchers at Cornell University estimate we make 226 decisions each day on food alone. And as the number of options continues to increase with widespread access to the Internet, so does the multitude of choices we have to make every day. It’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day. We would not be able to function in a modern society without some reliance on these cognitive biases. 

This process of simplifying information processing happens every time someone visits your website. It is reflected in the common Google Analytics metrics. We don’t read content online the same way we read a book; rather we scan for key information to satisfy our intent and then we move on. The extent to which your web content can grab and hold attention will make or break its chances for success.

The Authority Bias

The authority bias, for example, has a tremendous split-second impact on whether someone will trust your website or not. People only do business with people or brands they trust. If they do not know your brand, they will subconsciously look for clues of your expertise and credibility.

If you haven’t figured out how to project instant credibility with your content, you’ll struggle online. Convey your authority instantly and methodically by displaying unquestionable proof of your expertise to convert skeptical observers into appointments or check-outs. The surest way to develop authority ethically is by building a long-standing reputation in your field, but gaining endorsements from established brands or other authorities, will also have a similar effect. 

I have to admit I often find myself an easy prey to sophisticated sales schemes. I remember buying my first car in America. The car dealer invited me to his office to go over some paperwork after I already agreed to buy the car for a set price. Little did I know, I was being led into a “sales funnel.” After we sat chatting for a while, I felt more and more comfortable with the car dealer, who knew someone who was also Polish and had a cousin or brother with the same name as mine (what a convenient coincidence!). 

The car dealer casually showed me a picture of a completely ripped tire, which looked like it was hacked with a chainsaw. The man passionately explained that it was from his customer who had to bear the significant cost of roadside assistance and tire replacement. As you can probably guess, I enthusiastically agreed to the tire insurance offer that followed. The picture was used as an anchor to frame the tire insurance offer in a more persuasive light.

I’m not suggesting you should replicate this car salesman’s pitch on your website, but go ahead and Google “tire insurance” right now to find out for yourself that most landing pages selling tire insurance will use similar imagery to frame their offers. Below is just one example from AutoNation.com.

Source: https://autonation.com

I urge you to understand the power of building scripts while designing your conversion funnels. Every car dealership knows that their dealers will close more deals following a carefully crafted sales playbook, rather than rely on charm or personality alone. Once you have a script, you can test it to improve on it.

I remember sitting in the consumer behavior class during the second year of my MBA studies thinking of the different emotional factors that affect the process of making choices. Consumer behavior incorporates ideas from several science studies including psychology. The study of why people buy is as important as to how and where they buy, but not given enough credit.

The Framing Bias

For example, the framing bias is a powerful factor when presenting your offers. Ultimately the big idea behind the conversion funnel is to get someone from a web page to your offer. The words and images that precede the offer have a tremendous impact on how your offer will be perceived, which is why there are so many ads flashing the before-and-after images. After all, the choices we make are strongly correlated to the expectation of a reward as well as to dissatisfaction with a current state. This should be obvious, but many marketers tend to underestimate the importance of placing reward incentives on their websites. A behavior that is systematically rewarded can also be habit-forming, which is the Holy Grail of the website marketing game.

In the second year of business school, I worked in market research at Mattel, which is one of the largest toy makers in the world. At Fisher-Price Brands, I got a first-hand look at how consumer research data was collected and refined into marketing insights for Tickle Me Elmo. Thousands of hours of research are devoted to market research at large corporations. Make no mistake, if the marketing MBAs and the largest brands in the world put so much emphasis on understanding how buyers make choices, so should you.

The scope of research required to master the fundamental principles of decision-making can be overwhelming. I spent countless hours reading some of the most famous, densest academic papers and psychology textbooks to dissect the key cognitive biases affecting website behavior. If you have the time and interest to do the same, I recommend starting with “Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind” (6th Edition) by David M. Buss, Ph.D, and “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.

You can spend all your time studying the roots of a tree, or you can just learn to pick the fruit. With “The Psychology of a Website,” my approach lets you focus on picking up the fruit, not studying the tree. I researched and organized these cognitive biases into an actionable framework that every marketer, entrepreneur, and business owner can put into practice today to generate more conversions and clients tomorrow.

To learn more about cognitive biases, read about it in my new book, The Psychology of a Website: Mastering Cognitive Biases, Conversion Triggers, and Modern SEO for Massive Results, now available on Amazon.

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The Psychology of Color Design for the Web

 

color psychology

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” Georgia O’Keeffe

Color is a visual perception that enables us to differentiate between objects and to assign meanings to them. Colors evoke an emotional reaction that affects our attitudes and behaviors more than we may realize. 

Website design involves more than aesthetically pleasing color combinations. The colors you choose on your website can affect the actions users take.  Depending on which colors you choose for your site, you can influence visitors’ moods and behaviors. According to a recent study, adjusting color on your website can increase conversions by as much as 24%

Color psychology is a part of behavioral psychology because it studies how human emotions and actions are affected by color. As marketers, we can use color psychology to incite emotion in our consumers when they see branding colors on our website, logo, CTA buttons, and advertisements.

When using color psychology, you need to be aware of not only every color’s effect but also how that changes based on demographic and personal experiences. Colors can awaken different parts of the brain, triggering a variety of responses; this is why color holds so much power. Our subconscious is what reacts to different color combinations springing us into action based on our instincts and emotions.

Every color has positive and negative emotions associated with it. This means that depending on your industry, product, and demographics, you can use colors to evoke different reactions on your website.

Tradition has stated that pink is considered a girl’s color and blue a boy’s color, but when it comes to color psychology, this does not apply. Differences do exist in what colors appeal to men and women, so use this knowledge when designing websites and logos. According to research from Kissmetrics, colors that appeal most to women are blue, purple, and green, while orange, brown, and gray are the least appealing. As a marketer, consider your target demographic and which colors will appeal most to your target audience, so you can grab their attention and keep them interested in your website.

We can see this prominently in Urban Decay’s branding of their website. The trendy beauty brand displays purple prominently across its website, products, and logo. Their dominant use of purple achieves two goals: the first is that it appeals to their target market, women. The second is that purple is used to signify opulence and luxury, which perfectly drives Urban Decay’s identity as a prestigious beauty brand.

Men are said to prefer blue, green, and black, while brown, orange, and purple were their least favorites. Brands that market to men should keep this in mind when deciding on their website color palette. AXE.com is a well-known men’s grooming company that uses black heavily in its branding and pops of blue, which is another popular color with the male demographic. Black is associated with power and elegance, a great message to convey to men when selling deodorants or cologne because that is what you want them to feel when using your products. This associates your brand with positive feelings of confidence so customers will keep coming for more.

How to Leverage Color Psychology to Increase Conversions

Color psychology may seem complicated, but if you start asking yourself questions like “who’s my target audience?” and “what perception do I want my consumers to have of my branded website?”, you can start to narrow down which colors will work best for your website styling and design.

Let’s say your goal is to position yourself as a leader in the finance industry. You probably want to establish trust with your consumers and be perceived as a credible company. There are a few colors you can combine to incite these emotions with your Web design. Blue is a great color because it is associated with trust and stability, perfect for a financial institution because it can give your customers the perception that they can trust you with their money. Green is also a popular color in this industry because it is associated with growth and affluence. You may want your customer to have the perception that you can offer them prosperity with their finances. CapitalOne.com or Fidelity.com are good examples of financial websites using dominant green.

Merrill Lynch uses blue as their primary branding color on their website. As a wealth management organization, blue allows them to show their consumers that they can trust them to manage their finances. You can also see pops of red links and buttons on their website because red is a great color to incite action or attract consumers’ eyes. The balance of blue and red on Merrill Lynch’s website inspires trust and engagement on their website. Bankofamerica.com offers another example of this strategy.

Not all colors are industry-specific, but they are still associated with powerful meanings that your brand can leverage. Colors can be versatile and have various meanings, but depending on how you use them will send a particular message to your website users. If you are looking for your brand to be associated with positivity and happiness, yellow can be the perfect color for your branding elements. Yellow can also be a subtle call to action when used in isolated areas on websites. Make sure to use yellow sparingly because if overused, yellow can incite feelings of anxiety.

Cheerios.com uses yellow well because it combines it with great complementary color, orange. Yellow can be associated with cheerfulness which is excellent to represent Cheerios. Their website also uses orange because it can bring about feelings of youthfulness, which goes along with Cheerios’ message of keeping your heart healthy! 

Red is a difficult color to use as a primary branding color because it can incite negative emotions like rage, anger, and danger. However, it can still benefit you when used moderately on your website. Red is a call to action and attention grabber color. In fact, in a study done by Hubspot, “The red button outperformed the green button by 21%.” It would be wise to use this color on buttons that say things like: apply now, sale, or other areas on your website requiring urgent attention. 

Netflix uses red as their logo color but it isn’t prominent on their website making it perfect to attract consumers’ attention while inciting a feeling of urgency. Besides the logo, red is only used on the “Sign In” and “Try 30 Days Free” buttons which are actions that Netflix wants their customers to act on.

Getting started using colors to leverage conversion rates may seem overwhelming if you are not a graphic designer or a branding expert. For example, yellow is proven to make people feel hungry while red is a passionate color, so combined, it makes for a feeling of passionate hunger perfect if you’re trying to sell food. Which is why McDonald’s and Wendy’s leverage these two colors excessively in their banding. Blue does quite the opposite as it is associated with suppressing appetite. 

Here a few universal principles of color psychology to keep in mind when you optimize your website.

A color’s shade and tone can have very different meanings.

Not all shades of color are associated with the same meaning; therefore, before choosing a branding color, make sure the tone matches the intent of your message. 

Use Green for your company if you are promoting eco-friendly or organic initiatives.

Green is strongly associated with nature, which makes it the perfect pick to be the color of your eco-friendly campaigns. Consumers’ will automatically associate your company as an eco-friendly company. It is also associated with money thanks to the color of the American Dollar. 

Studies show that men generally prefer bold colors, while women prefer softer colors.

This is an excellent tip if you have a specific demographic because you can play with the shades and tints of your branding colors to attract your target audience. Men tend to favor shades, while women prefer tints of colors. 

Brighter colors energize consumers while neutral colors relax them.

This tip can be helpful because you can coordinate your website colors depending on the response you want from your customers. If you want consumers to act fast, use bright colors, but if you want consumers to read your blog post, neutral tones will relax them so they can focus more on processing information.

Color psychology can dramatically increase website traffic, sales, and much more because “up to 90 percent of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone (depending on the product).” This means that the right color combinations can have a significant payoff on these first website impressions. 

Get started with your color strategy by analyzing your business needs and what message you want to convey to your consumers through your branding. Remember that to be successful in using colors as leverage in marketing, you need to pay attention to where you use specific colors, when you use them, to what audience, and what purpose will the colors serve.

To learn more about how you can leverage color psychology on your website, read about it in my new book, The Psychology of a Website: Mastering Cognitive Biases, Conversion Triggers, and Modern SEO for Massive Results, now available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle.

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Dorie Clark’s 3 Hacks to Become a Bonafide Expert in Your Niche

Expertise can help you get trust, recognition, and credibility. But how does one achieve expertise? When can one be considered a true expert? 

I recently sat down with Dorie Clark to discuss my upcoming book, The Psychology of a Website: Mastering Cognitive Biases, Conversion Triggers, and Modern SEO for Massive Results. Dorie is a Harvard Business Review Author, Duke & Columbia Business Professor, #1 Communication Coach, and one of the top 50 Business Thinkers in the World. Throughout the interview, she shared insightful tips on what it means to be an expert and how you can become one.

My interview with Dorie was part of my ICONNic Talk series, where I sit down with industry experts to get insider tips on social media, marketing psychology, and much more. Check out my interview with Ja Rule and other ICONNic Talks interviews. 

Being an expert isn’t just about a title; when you’re a true expert, you’re seen as a go-to thought leader in your field. During the interview, Dorie and I discussed the fascinating psychology behind what makes other people consider someone an expert. Dorie shared with us some hacks on how you can position yourself as an expert in the eyes of others.

Create Valuable Content

To position yourself as an expert, Dorie advised, you need to create content. Social media is a great tool to share your thoughts and ideas with a community of people who gain value from your content. Start by jumping on social platforms that fit your field and start creating content that will bring value to your audience. This way, you can share your opinions, foster a community, and build a portfolio of valuable content.

Professional reinvention is the key to career longevity and content can help push you to reinvent your personal brand or business. New content ideas or joining up-and-coming social platforms can help you make a habit of reinvention. Create different types of content to help you pivot your brand to explore new business ventures and opportunities. Content is your #1 tool when it comes to reinventing yourself, so don’t be scared to step outside of your comfort zone.

For more of Dorie’s tips on professional reinvention, watch the full ICONNic Talk interview: 

Leverage Social Proof

Throughout my talk with Dorie, we kept coming back to social proof as a primary factor in positioning yourself as an expert. On Dorie’s website, her call-to-action invites people to “join her community of 60,000 subscribers.” This is an excellent example of social proof because it showcases how many people value her opinions enough to subscribe to her newsletter and, in a way, persuades you to do the same. 

In my book, The Psychology of a Website, I advise readers to add testimonials and reviews front-and-center on their website to trigger the social proof cognitive bias. Whether it’s reviews, testimonials, or press, social proof is a sure-fire way to establish validity that you are an expert.

Network with Other Experts

Positioning yourself as an expert also has to do with associating yourself with other experts in your field. The more you talk with other experts, the more knowledge you can gain. Being associated with experts in your field can also lend you a sense of authority in the eyes of others. Reach out to someone you admire in your field, and see if you can schedule an interview with them on ICONN or Instagram Live.

No one is born an expert. By admitting that you aren’t an expert yet but are working towards becoming one, you can free yourself from imposter syndrome and focus on establishing credibility and respect. Leverage these credibility-boosting hacks to establish yourself as an expert in your field.

Check out my upcoming book The Psychology of a Website: Mastering Cognitive Biases, Conversion Triggers, and Modern SEO for Massive Results to learn more about social proof and other topics discussed in my ICONNic talks. Get on the list at websitepsy.com

Ja Rule’s Secret 3-Step Formula for Viral Content

Have you ever wondered how a tweet, post or TikTok goes viral? I recently sat down with Ja Rule, celebrity rapper turned entrepreneur and investor, to discuss the psychology behind viral content as part of the interview for my upcoming book “The Psychology of a Website.”

Ja Rule’s recent viral commercial for Papa Cristo’s Greek restaurant cemented Ja Rule’s reputation as someone who has cracked the code to viral content while supporting a small business owner affected by the recent pandemic. 

While it can seem like viral posts receive millions of shares because of blind luck or timing, Ja Rule uncovers that social media hits can be replicated if you understand human psychology. In an exclusive interview on his new ICONN Live app, Ja Rule shared his formula for viral content. 

No 1. Know your audience

In the search for viral fame, it’s crucial to keep your audience at the forefront of your process. What type of content will resonate with them? What will they value?

If you fail to think about your audience, your content could send them mixed messages. For example, if your brand caters to a business professional audience, publishing joke content may miss the mark. You want to push the envelope enough to get the attention that leads to a reaction, but not go too far and risk turning your audience away.

No 2. Create a spectacle 

Viral content becomes a sensation because it triggers an emotional reaction. Whether that be excitement or laughter, content that gets an emotional response compels the user to like and share. As Ja Rule put it, “the more shocking, the more chance you have to go viral.”

Keeping your audience in mind, how can you create a spectacle they will remember? After you, you need to find a way to stand out. Think about what sort of slightly controversial or outside-the-box content will get your audience to hit, share, like, and comment without turning anybody off. 

No 3. Make it tasteful

While making a spectacle will get you attention, Ja Rule cautions to make sure you do it with taste, that “there’s a thin line between tasteful, cool and funny and distasteful or turnoff.” Don’t cause a spectacle just for the sake of getting attention, such as “cloud chasing.” Make sure your content stays on brand and aligns with your audience’s values. 

Before you post, ask yourself these three questions: Is this content right for my audience? Is it unique and different to be considered a spectacle worth paying attention to? And lastly, is it tasteful and on brand?

Follow these steps and you can go viral like Ja Rule. 

5 Marketing Certifications to Jumpstart your Career

Certifications to Jumpstart your Marketing Career

 

Thinking of diving into a new marketing career or simply want to expand your digital marketing skillset? In a rapidly changing industry like digital marketing, it’s crucial to invest in continual learning. Marketing certifications help to broaden your knowledge on a specific subject while adding credibility to boost your CV. But with hundreds of courses and certifications out there, it can be hard to know which one to spend your time on. That’s why we’ve gathered the five top digital marketing certifications to give you a foundation in the main disciplines: marketing theory, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, social media, and SEO. 

MarketingProfs Courses

MarketingProfs is a well-known marketing resource that offers courses and memberships that give you access to webinars, classes, and other marketing tools. These courses focus on different skill sets that are necessary for marketing professionals to know like strategy, campaign planning, asset creation, communication and distribution, analysis and optimization, and so much more. This coursework allows you to learn all facets of marketing, giving you a solid foundation when applying to jobs.  

Google Ads Certification

The Google Ads certification can help your agency gain credibility with a badge from Google that you can display on your site. Google also adds your agency to a list of Google certified companies which can lead to exposure to more clients. Since Google is the most popular search network, it’s essential to show clients that you know how to manage their campaigns and get them search engine results page visibility. Even if you’re not part of an agency, the Google Ads certification can help you expand and solidify your campaign management knowledge.

Facebook Blueprint Certification

Facebook’s Blueprint certification can help you master all things Facebook and Instagram. These courses go beyond social media strategy and can teach you skills for optimizing your business, attracting new audiences, and even how to make your ads more effective. Although Facebook’s Blueprint courses are free, you have to pay for each certification exam. Even if you don’t plan on getting certified, these courses are a great learning tool for getting the most out of Facebook’s products. 

Hootsuite

While Hootsuite is primarily known as a social media scheduling tool, they also offer free content and a course on social media marketing. Now more than ever brands need to have a keen social media team so these skills are valuable to employers. Hootsuite’s course will help you develop foundational marketing skills to grow followers, engagement, and business results. After you pass the course exam, At the end of the course, you will receive a certificate from Hootsuite that you can add to your resume or your LinkedIn profile.

Keyword Research Like a Pro

SEO is an invaluable skill because it can generate traffic and help grow a business organically. The Keyword Research Like a Pro course on Udemy will give you a basic foundation for using the keyword funnel and commercial intent to position your brand in the eyes of your consumers. This course can help you grasp a better understanding on how to search for the best keywords, gain more visibility on Google, and understand how to use keywords to optimize your website.

With these certifications under your belt, you’ll have a leg up to expand your marketing repertoire.

17 Eye-Opening SEO Statistics to Prove the Value of Organic Search

Update: Republished June 2020 with updated statistics where available.

You already know that having a prominent online presence supported by an effective SEO strategy is indispensable. People are searching for your business, and you need to make sure they find you online. The Internet, however, is a virtually endless resource with millions of search inquiries leading consumers to different places.

More than often, an online experience begins with a web search. Yet, how do you make sure people searching for companies and services like yours land on your website, and not someone else’s? One thing you can be certain of is that you’ll need to make a case to prove the value of SEO to be able to direct any of your company’s resources – or client’s resources – to site audits, content marketing, technical optimization, local, and backlink strategies.

With updates being done to Google’s search engine algorithm continuously, deciding to craft (an execute on) an SEO strategy sounds like a lot of work. How do you convince your boss or client that it’s worth it? Is keeping up with Google really that important? Yes. Being on Google’s good side, and making it to the front page, will impact your business tremendously. And what about other search engines? What is the value of being searchable? Do you show up online?

To help you make a better case for SEO to justify the value of organic search, I’ve compiled a list of eye-opening SEO statistics about organic search, Google facts, and the Internet at large. Be free to use them, tweet them, embed them, or insert them into your own presentation.

Check them out, and show them to your boss:

Globally, Google’s search market share reaches 92%

Source: StatCounter , 2020

Tweet: Globally, Google’s search market share reaches 92% @searchdecoder Source: @Statcounter

To no surprise, Google is the leading search engine worldwide. Anyone you’re trying to reach, anywhere they might be, Google is your best bet towards generating an impression of your product and brand across borders. Except in China and a few other countries, Google is the dominant search engine. Other search engines get a smaller share of consumer traffic, which you can see in our Global Search Engine Market Share infographic. 

Google's search market share

As of June 2020, Google owns 88% of the search engine market share in the US

Source: StatCounter

Tweet: Google owns 88% of the search engine market share in the US @searchdecoder Source: @Statcounter

In the US, people use Google more than Bing, Yahoo, and all the other search engines combined. The term “Google it” is popular for a reason. In a study conducted by ComScore, out of a total of 17.5 billion searches conducted in one month, 11.2 billion of them were conducted through Google. Bing follows second with just 3.7 billion, and Yahoo with 2.2 billion.

Google's search market share

There are more than 3.8 million Google searches conducted each minute

Source: SEO Tribunal, 2018

Tweet: There are more than 3.8 million Google searches conducted each minute @searchdecoder Source: @SEOTribunal

Have you Googled something today? With over 5.6 billion searches conducted a day, odds are that you have. It might have been that very search that led you here. Back when Google launched in 1995, users were conducting just 500,000 searches per day. Today, this statistic has more than quadrupled. The growth of organic search traffic has been growing consistently.

Google searches conducted daily

When Google went down for 5 minutes, global Internet traffic dropped by a whopping 40%

Source: CNET, 2013

Tweet: When Google went down for 5 minutes, global Internet traffic dropped by a whopping 40% #SEO @searchdecoder Source: @CNET

It seems like the Internet really does revolve around Google. In 2013, Google’s services were unavailable for only 5 minutes due to an outage, and web traffic dropped by 40%. Google is the heart and soul of the Internet. How important is your Google presence and global web traffic? Very.

Google drop in traffic

15% of all Google searches are being searched for the first time

Source: Search Engine Land, 2017

Tweet: 15% of all Google searches are being searched for the first time @searchdecoder Source: @searchengineland

How does Google answer questions that have never been asked before? Through extensive indexing, site crawling and millions of search precedents. Never before asked queries are more common than you’d think. Marketers should think about how to fashion their content strategy so that they find the right balance between targeting ultra-competitive, established keywords as well as the less popular queries that are ‘on the rise.’ Use Google Trends to find these niche golden nuggets.

New google searches

High-quality content and link building are the two most important signals used by Google to rank your website for search

Source: Search Engine Watch, 2016

Tweet: 1High-quality content and link building are the two most important signals used by Google to rank your website for search @searchdecoder Source: @searchenginewatch

There’s definitely a correlation between longer content and Google ranking. Moz’s study found that the most popular pages had over 35,000 words and generated more than 800 links. Google prefers well-written and longer content over those that are more superficial and short. Don’t get lazy on that blog! Articles over 1,000 words might just fare better SEO wise.

High-quality content and link building

On the first page alone, the first five organic results account for 67.6% of all the clicks.

Source: Impact , 2020

Tweet: On the first page alone, the first five organic results account for 67.6% of all the clicks. @searchdecoder Source: @Impact

Does anyone ever go to the second page of Google? Very rarely. Your website’s ranking in search results is of utmost importance for traffic. If visitors aren’t even scrolling past the first five results on the SERP, you have to use SEO to try to rank in those positions.

First five organic results

53% of website traffic comes from organic search results

Source: BrightEdge, 2019

Tweet: 53% of website traffic comes from organic search results @searchdecoder Source: @BrightEdge

How are people getting to your site? They’re Googling their way there. Chances are, more than half of your web traffic started with a search. According to a study conducted by BrightEdge, over 40% of revenue is captured through organic search traffic. Social only accounts for merely 10% of web traffic, and paid search just 10%.

website traffic

Users focus on organic search results 94% of the time

Source: Search Engine Watch, 2012

Tweet: 53% of website traffic comes from organic search results @searchdecoder Source: @BrightEdge

There is good news for those reluctant to invest in a Google Ads account. According to Search Engine Watch, organic results fare better than paid ads. The higher you rank, the more clicks you get, and paid ads don’t count. Users tend to ignore the advertisements on top of the page and go straight to the organic search results listed first.

organic search results

Updating existing content with fresh content can increase organic traffic by 111.3%

Source: Safari Digital, 2019

Tweet: Updating existing content with fresh content can increase organic traffic by 111.3% @searchdecoder Source: @SafariDigital

Update blog content, sit back and watch the impact this will have on your SEO. Old blog posts can still have valuable content so don’t put those to waste! Optimizing older articles ensures that all your content will help rank your website higher on Google while giving your audiences updated information. In fact, this is an article we are updating to be able to give you the top SEO tips and statistics of 2020!

Update existing content

Web-users exposed to slow loading times will conduct fewer searches on average

Source: Google, 2009

Tweet: Web-users exposed to slow loading times will conduct fewer searches on average @searchdecoder Source: @Google

This is according to studies conducted at Google using their search engine. Speed matters. Even after rectifying a low speed, users will be reluctant to return to your website. Get rid of anything that hinders your website’s speed. Music players, flashy graphics, and unnecessarily large images will stagnate loading time. Google has a few tips on how to fix a slow website.

slow loading times

63% of Google’s US organic search traffic originated from mobile devices 

Source: Merkleinc,2020

Tweet: 63% of Google’s US organic search traffic originated from mobile devices @searchdecoder Source: @Merkleinc

Smartphones and tablets have become the new prime way to communicate and access information. According to The Verge, more people are searching on mobile devices than ever before. Google has updated its SEO algorithm based on the increase in smartphone and tablet usage. In the world of mobile-first indexing, a website that isn’t optimized for mobile is missing out on ranking opportunities.

organic search traffic originated from mobile devices

88% percent of smartphone users are using their device to conduct a search on Google

Source: Think With Google, 2014

Tweet: 88% percent of smartphone users are using their device to conduct a search on Google @searchdecoder Source: @ThinkwithGoogle

In company with the previous statistic, is the fact that the majority of cellphone users use their phones to conduct searches. According to the report Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior, 88% of smartphones perform searches, making the need for a mobile-friendly website crucial. People are searching on the go, and are looking for local results. Google is looking to provide the most practical, precise and relevant local search results through their regularly updated mobile-friendly ranking algorithm. Make sure to optimize your local listings with a smart local search marketing plan.

smartphone users conducting a search on Google

 

 

Sites that did not switch to mobile-friendly platforms were hit with a hefty 50%+ traffic reduction penalty. 

Source: Gist, 2019

Tweet: Sites that did not switch to mobile-friendly platforms were hit with a hefty 50%+ traffic reduction penalty. @searchdecoder Source: @BlueCorona

According to a study conducted by BrightEdge shortly after Google’s mobile algorithm update in 2017, the presence of non-mobile friendly websites on the first 3 pages of Google began to fade fast. Over 20,000 websites were tested and scored for mobile-friendliness, and then had their ranks recorded. A 21% decrease in ranking was found for those URLs scoring low in mobile-friendliness.

mobile-friendly platforms

88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours.

Source: Nectafy, 2019

Tweet: 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours. @searchdecoder Source: @Nectafy

Having a mobile-friendly website is super important because people searching on their phones are more likely to visit your store or call on that very day. While 50% of mobile phone users will visit your store after conducting a search, only 34% of users searching on tablets and computers will do so.

local businesses searches

18% of local smartphone searches led to a purchase within a day

Source: Think with Google, 2014

Tweet: 18% of local smartphone searches led to a purchase within a day @searchdecoder Source: @ThinkwithGoogle

In contrast, only 7% of non-local searches lead to purchases on the same day. Capturing the local search market through SEO is a smart strategy. Potential customers and clients are searching, so you have to lure them to your website. If you have a locally-focused business, you need to show up highly on Google Maps, and other local directories.

local smartphone searches

Local searches result in purchases 28% of the time

Source: Search Engine Land, 2020

Tweet: Local searches result in purchases 28% of the time @searchdecoder Source: @SearchEngineLand

People aren’t just Googling the latest cat video. They’re looking for the best store, the best product and the best service near them, and for them. With the power to Google, consumers are behind the wheel of their purchases and investments, and as we’ve learned, they never really go past the first page. So does “the best decision” = a high Google search ranking? To an extent, absolutely.

Local searches

Hope the list is helpful! Have I missed any other important SEO statistics? Please drop me a note in the comments below.

5 Emerging Quarantine Keyword Trends That Marketers Can Leverage

Emerging Keywords

As SEO’s, we use keyword trends to help us choose relevant topics to write on and the words we use in our content. Since COVID-19 shook the world, we’ve been monitoring search trends and what they say about what customers are looking for, asking, and prioritizing.

Through this research, we’ve found a handful of surprising keywords that have spiked in volume recently. We wanted to share these search trends with other marketers with advice on how to leverage keywords to capture your audience’s attention. 

Find Keywords Using Google Trends

As the world’s most prominent search engine, Google has access to a wealth of search data. They compile this data into Google Trends, their free tool that shows search trends across region and time. 

Start by typing in a keyword of interest into the search bar to see search trends over time. You can also input comparison keywords and compare the trends of up to five different keywords. 

hand sanitizer vs face masks google trends

You can filter your keyword by region, date range, categories, and type of search. Filtering by region can help you target your content to the area of your audience or local market. To find these keyword trends we chose the time range of 12 months, to make sure we were accounting for seasonality changes.

Categories also allow you to specify your search for terms that have different meanings such as “highlighter” which can be a makeup item or the office supply. 

After you’ve inputted your keyword and set your filters, you can take a look at the regional trends as well as Related Queries. 

Using the insights you gather from Google Trends, you can get ideas for new content, services, and keywords to incorporate into your marketing strategy. Here, 5 emerging keywords that you can leverage for your COVID-19 content strategy. 

Sale

sale google trends

Times are tough for many people, but there are ways you can still promote your product or service while remaining sensitive to the situation. “Sale” is trending for a few reasons. Record-high unemployment rates mean many people are struggling financially, and are looking for businesses offering sales during the crisis. Others are taking advantage of this time to learn new skills, and are searching for discounted services.

Promote a temporary sale to incentivize customers to make a purchase. Free trials are also a great way to let customers try your product or service before committing. 

After the economy recovers, many customers will remember your service and come back for your products and services after trying it out discounted or free.

Some businesses that have offered Coronavirus-related sales include Moz, Skillshare, and Uber Eats. Here at Alphametic, we are offering 50% off our SEO Audit service to help businesses that were affected by COVID-19.

seo audit discount alphametic

Use “Sale” in your SEO strategy

Make sure your discount or free trial offer is front-and-center on your website. This can include adding “sale,” “discount,” and “free trial,” keywords to your homepage copy. If applicable, create a separate landing page for your discount content, and add a pop-up to prominent pages of your website with a link to that landing page.

Touchless/Contact-free

touchless google trends

The safety of your customers should be at the forefront of your post-quarantine reopening plans. “Touchless” is a trending keyword because as people get ready to leave their homes, they want to see what businesses prioritize safety by using contact-free measures. 

The most significant change that you can do to ensure the safety of your business is to establish safety guidelines like social distancing signs and posting about your cleaning measures. 

Contact-free standards can help assuage customers’ concerns if they see the protocol at your business change. By using tap to pay or cash-free payment, you can minimize the contact at the time of the transaction. 

Use “Touchless” in your SEO strategy:

Customers are searching for businesses that have contact-free measures in place, so make sure your website has content that can be ranked for that keyword.

If you are adding contact-free practices to your business procedures, write a COVID-19 Response landing page or blog post informing customers on these contact-free solutions and how they will function in your business. 

For example, Domino’s added a landing page to their site that walks visitors through their contactless pizza delivery process.

contactless dominos

Is it safe

is it safe google trends

As we return to a new normal, many people wonder how safe it is to do activities that used to be part of our daily routines. This is a trending keyword because people are uneasy of letting their guard down when reentering the real world. As the economy slowly reopens, take the time to inform your customers about how you will make sure your establishment is safe.

Use “Is it safe” in your SEO strategy:

When people search if it’s safe to shop, order online or go out to eat, you want your website to appear at the top of the list. The best place to add “is it safe” keywords is to your FAQ section, since the keyword is already in question format.

McDonald’s took advantage of this keyword in their COVID-19 FAQ section:

is it safe mcdonalds

You can also consider writing a blog post including “is it safe” and another keyword that’s relevant for your business. 

To get more ideas for how to incorporate this keyword into your content, search “is it safe” in Google Trends and check out the related queries. 

is it safe related queries

Shop Online

shop online google trends

An important lesson from this global pandemic is how critical an online presence is for businesses. Retailers that have adopted ecommerce operations are profiting during quarantine because customers are able to buy from them safely and conveniently. 

Use “shop online” in your SEO strategy:

To reap the benefits of this keyword, strategically and seamlessly blend it into your content. “Shop online” is being searched because people are wondering what services they can get from the comfort of their own home. This is also a way to word content to get customers excited about exclusive online-only products or deals. 

You can include drop-down banners on your website that say if you “shop online” you can receive better deals or “shop online” to buy these exclusive products. You can also include “shop online” for virtual courses or “shop online” to receive free shipping, another incentive for customers to shop with you.

Clothing brand Asos uses “online shopping keywords in their meta data, in both the page title and meta description of their homepage.

online shopping

Open

open google trends

As the pandemic peak is passing, more and more people are looking to go out into the world and return to normalcy. How your business handles reopening can determine a lot for the future of your company. 

Many consumers have gone online, so how can you attract those customers back to your businesses? What is the right way to go about reopening? 

These questions can be answered by looking at what your customer wants. Open is a trending keyword because people are looking for places that are open to shop at, eat, or even get a haircut. Use this to your advantage by communicating to your customers what they can expect from your business when you open. 

Use “open” in your SEO strategy:

Before reopening, you should establish how your business will run and post an FAQ page detailing how your business will serve customers when you open. 

Writing social media posts, landing pages, or strategically placing content using the keyword “open” will drive consumers who are ready to do business. 

Take a look at how other companies like these Chili’s are structuring their FAQ pages for more of a guideline. We have implemented this SEO tactic with our casino clients by placing the word “Open” in their meta data. This would allow for them to rank higher on Google searches so take advantage of these opportunities to attract more customers. 

chilis opening

The quarantine has brought about much change in the world, and you can see this through trending terms and changing policies. Now is the time to adjust your business and content strategy to make sure you can keep up with the evolving times. You will see an increase In your website traffic if you can seamlessly incorporate these terms while also communicating to your customers that you care about their safety and are working hard to make sure their needs are met. 

Remember that SEO strategies are now more critical than ever because consumers are looking to “shop online” for their needs to be met. They want “sales” to be able to get through these financially challenging times. Also, remember that consumers are searching for information on “is it safe” to shop if businesses are “open” or which companies are better to go to because of “contact-less” measures.

Rewriting your SEO Playbook in the Era of Uncertainty

Rewriting your SEO Playbook in the Era of Uncertainty

COVID-19 has forced us to rearrange many of our routines and habits. We go to the store less, stay home more, and do our best to make the most of the “new normal” environment. 

Consumption and search are a part of our daily lives, and have inevitably been affected by Coronavirus. As we navigate these unprecedented times, how can you adapt your digital strategy to keep up with consumer shifts and spot emerging opportunities? 

In a recent webinar hosted by Brightedge, thought leaders from leading consumer brands weighed in on search and consumer trends, and how businesses can pivot their SEO strategy to soften the impact of COVID-19. These were the main takeaways from their research and expert advice.

Prepare for a Flattening of the Weekday Curve

If you do marketing for an ecommerce business, you may be familiar with the “weekday curve”: while customers are busy going out and catching up on errands over the weekend, sales drop. Spending then picks back up on weekdays, hence the “weekday curve.”

Among other changes around what people are buying, when people are shopping has been affected by COVID-19 as well. Whereas weekends used to be for going out and spending in stores, they are now largely spent inside. The result is a peak in ecommerce search terms on weekends, reversing the prior trend of weekday peaks. 

Looking at the Google Trends chart for “exercise bike,” the peaks during the month of May all happened on weekends. 

weekday curve

What’s the takeaway from this new spending trend? If you weren’t running Google Ads and Amazon ads on weekends, now would be the time to start. Analyze search trends for your keywords and increase ad spend during times of the week where customers are searching most, to increase your likelihood of getting seen.

Pay Attention to Shifts in Consumer Spending

Ken Shults, VP of Strategic Innovation at BrightEdge took a look at search trends in a range of industries to gauge how consumer interests have shifted since the onset of Coronavirus, and how industries can prepare accordingly. 

Shults broke the industries into four categories: Rebounding, Accelerating, Recovering, and Stabilizing. 

Rebounding industries took an initial hit at the onset of COVID-19, but by week 7 began rebounding once consumers began to adjust to lifestyle changes. Industries in this category include apparel, beauty, and IT Networking. Shults recommended that businesses in these industries “focus on winning categories.’ For instance, clothing brands may tone down marketing for professional wear and instead focus on casual clothing lines. 

Accelerating industries were flat from the onset of COVID-19, and have since accelerated. Businesses in this category include digital marketing, pet adoption, and garden and patio. Shults recommends to “pour on the gas,” capturing your market’s attention while these shifts are still fresh.

Recovering industries took the biggest hit in the beginning, and are now slowly leveling off. Industries in this category include concerts, hotels, and wealth management. Shults recommends that these businesses “transform and prepare,” pivoting to digital strategies and preparing for an uptick in demand once lockdown restrictions ease up.

Finally, Stabilizing industries saw an uptick in searches, and have since dropped, but are still much higher than pre-COVID figures. Industries in the stabilizing category include gaming, grocery, and IT security. According to Shults this increased demand is here to stay, and businesses need to adopt digital strategies to keep up with demand. 

(Source: Brightedge) 

Coronavirus didn’t impact industries uniformly, so it’s crucial to look at trends in your specific industry to get insight as to how you should be shifting your digital strategy now to prepare for a post-COVID-19 landscape.

Let the New Buyer Journey Inform Your SEO Strategy

Your customers are not finding and buying products the same way they did before COVID-19. People aren’t leaving their homes, meaning the buyer journey has moved almost completely online. As the brand, you have to make sure you’re letting customers know what their purchasing options are, and guiding them along the path to purchase.

Carlos Spallarossa, Director of Paid Search and SEO at L’Oreal, and Justin Abrams, Senior Solutions Consultant at BrightEdge, outlined the new COVID-19 customer journey and how brands can adapt.

Consideration: The consideration phase of the consumer journey has become tainted with uncertainty. Consumers are hesitant to leave their homes, and are unsure whether they’ll be able to properly research and purchase their desired products safely. This is the brand’s opportunity to add content to their site that reassures customers and makes them aware of their buying options.

Exploration: Whereas your customers were used to being able to try on products in-store, their browsing must now be limited to shopping online. Carlos Spallarossa recommends mirroring the “hyperpersonal in-store experience,” offering to send product samples for customers to try at home. Customers may be searching with keywords like “contact-free” and “virtual,” so make sure your website is optimized for those searches.

Comparison: Once they’ve narrowed down what products they want, your customers likely still need to weigh their options. To compensate for not being able to browse products physically, customers are spending much more time researching products. This is the opportunity for brands to introduce virtual try-on tools so customers can make an informed decision on their purchase. Make sure your site is updated with relevant keywords like “virtual try-on” and “virtual test drive.”

Test: They’re almost ready to make the purchase, so now it’s time to seal the deal with an off-line test. Spallarossa gives the example of trying on the items that were sent in the sample kit, and Justin Abrams gave the example of going to the mall for a contact-free test drive.

Purchase: If brands accommodate customers throughout the buyer journey, the purchase stage is an ecstatic experience for customers. Their initial purchasing fears were quelled by a seamless buying process, and they found the perfect product without hardly leaving the house.  

loreal customer journey

(Source: Brightedge)

Learn to Spot Immediate Content Opportunities

As the buyer journey has experienced a dramatic digital shift, customers are spending more time researching and testing before making a purchase. Customers are asking questions about your product, solutions, and brand, and this is your opportunity to guide them towards the purchase.

When performing keyword research, look for high-value, long-tail keywords that get to the heart of what your customers are looking for. If your site doesn’t have an FAQ section yet, make sure to add one and include questions that address Coronavirus-related concerns. 

During the webinar, Justin Abrams remarked “more isn’t necessarily more,” and recommended optimizing content for quality over quantity. Publish useful how-to guides, tutorials, and informational content to capture your audience’s attention. Even if they’re not ready to buy right now, by providing valuable content you will be helping them prepare for making the purchase after COVID-19 passes. 

Prepare your Search Strategy for the Post-COVID World

Taking a quote from Search Engine Journal, “if you want consumers to choose you, they first must trust you.” By adding high-quality, helpful content to your website now, you will be gaining the trust of your customers for increased demand in a post-Coronavirus world.

While the long-lasting effects of COVID-19 remain unknown, we can use the SEO insights and strategies in our arsenal right now to pivot and prepare for further changes in customer journeys and content opportunities. 

Everything You Need to Know About Google Ads for Gambling and Casino Campaigns

google ads gambling casino

The Gambling and Casino industry makes a whopping $306.5 billion in the US annually. Casinos and gaming institutions have taken advantage of marketing for years, and have recently begun to leverage digital advertising opportunities as well. 

Google is aware of the gaming industry’s earning power, and have made it easier for casinos and gaming companies to advertise on Google Ads. There has been a bit of controversy surrounding gambling ads in the past, and casino marketing remains a tricky subject. Therefore, it is essential that you are aware of all the requirements that come with advertising gambling with Google. To successfully cash in on Google Ads for gambling, follow along with this guide.  

4 Basic Requirements for all Casino and Gambling Advertisements on Google

For every type of gambling and casino game, there are certain restrictions that you must abide by to be able to advertise with Google. However, four main policies apply to all types of Google gambling advertisements. 

Advertisers Must Have the Proper Google Ads Certification

A Google Ad certification is a minimum requirement to be able to advertise with Google. The certification verifies to Google that you are an online advertising expert and, therefore, understand how to advertise on their platforms properly. You can find more information about the Google Ads certification application process on the Google Support website. 

Gambling Ads Must Target Approved Countries 

For your Ads to be approved by Google, they must only be catered to an audience from the sanctioned countries. Google posted the full list of countries and their local regulations for gambling and casino-related ads on their support page. 

Advertisers Must Have a Landing Page that Displays Information About Responsible Gambling 

Advertisers must be careful to never include minors in their gambling and casino ad targeting; this includes anyone under the age of 21. Warnings must be posted about the dangers of addictive and compulsive gambling as well as information on how to get help.

Not abiding by Google Ad requirements can have serious repercussions. Advertisers that violate Google’s advertising policies “will be restricted from any operation in the United States,” including any advertisements using Google platforms. 

Gambling and Casino Game Ads Allowed by Google 

Google is specific on which gambling and casino games are allowed to advertise on Google Ad platforms. The approved list of content includes advertisements for:

Offline gambling

This includes a promotion for real-money casino games at brick-and-mortar gaming establishments.

Online Gambling

Advertisements for online gambling allow for the promotion of online casino games that use real money or currencies with cash value. This also permits advertisements that link to content about online gambling such as gambling educational materials or gambling-related information.

Online non-casino games

These advertisements are for games online that use real money to gamble. These can include online slots, sports betting, and even lottery tickets. 

Social casino games

Advertisements for social casino games promote gambling-like games where there is no opportunity for prizes of monetary value. This type of advertising is different from the rest because there can be no promotion of chances to win real money prizes. This also includes the promotion of gambling destinations where you can earn rewards of cash value. 

The Benefits of Google Ads for Casinos and Gambling Campaigns

The restrictions and application process may seem like a tedious task, but with the right ad content and targeting, the payoff can be significant. According to Powertraffick, “90% of internet users see Google display ads worldwide,” which means your ad can be seen by more people. Advanced targeting capabilities means you can show your ads to your exact target audience, matching viewers by demographic, interests, location and more. The reach of these advertisements makes Google ads an excellent investment.

Overall, if you follow the basic requirements and restrictions, Google Ads can serve as a major marketing tool for your gambling business. It is essential to be informed and look into the exact requirements for the type of gambling and casino promotion you plan to advertise. Google Ads will continue to change the way the gambling and casino industry advertises, so it is important to leverage Google Ads while their policies permit. For more tips on casino marketing, take a look at our Casino Marketing Guide.

5 Unconventional Keyword Research Tools to Get a Competitive Edge in SEO [Infographic]

Unconventional Keyword tools

 

This blog post was originally published on the Digital Summit blog.

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