SEO Articles

Internet Wayback Machine Adds Historical TextDiff

The Wayback Machine has a cool new feature for looking at the historical changes of a web page.

The color scale shows how much a page has changed since it was last cached & you can select between any two documents to see how a page has changed over time.

You can then select between any two documents to see a side-by-side comparison of the documents.

That quickly gives you an at-a-glance view of how they’ve changed their:

  • web design
  • on-page SEO strategy
  • marketing copy & sales strategy

For sites that conduct seasonal sales & rely heavily on holiday themed ads you can also look up the new & historical ad copy used by large advertisers using tools like Moat, WhatRunsWhere & Adbeat.

Categories: 

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Before You Kill That Mobile Subdomain…

Most SEOs I know hate sites with separate mobile URLs. They served their purpose back in the early days of mobile browsers, but over time the maintenance overhead combined with the SEO uncertainty brought on by having two different sets of near duplicate URLs has caused many of us to advocate for migrating to a single set of URLs for both mobile and desktop. But maybe we shouldn’t be the ones advocating…

I have had the pleasure of working on several large M-dot URL migrations. In theory, these projects should be pretty straightforward – 301 redirect all the M-dot URLs to their desktop versions, maintain the redirects forever, and all is well. Too bad theory often runs into a reality brick wall.

When one argues for a big project like an M-dot migration, odds are someone with a nicer office than yours is going to ask for some proof that it’s worth doing. Here’s a handy tweet to whip out when the “Why would we want to do that?” question comes up:

Now I love John Mueller’s advice as much as the next guy, but SEO types often tend to think of themselves within the “scientist” Knowledge Graph, so we also like to see independent corroboration of our crackpot theories. Fortunately Sistrix has a handy tool to estimate organic traffic to subdomains. Let’s look at how some big e-commerce sites have fared with M-dot migrations:

TicketMaster Mobile Subdomain Migration

The Home Depot Mobile Subdomain Migration

If you believe the upticks were even partially caused by the M-dot migrations (and if you believe Sistrix’ data is directionally correct), then pulling the trigger on a migration seems like a no-brainer.

But as we SEOs know all too well, not everything always goes smoothly.

This is what it looks like when a large e-commerce site with an expensive IT consulting firm spends a year redesigning their site and kills their M-dot URLs without redirecting them because “it wasn’t in the original scope and would be too complicated”.

FUBAR M-DOT URL MIGRATION

And this is what it looks like (on SEMRush) when another large e-commerce site does their M-dot migration in phases and neglects to redirect some of the old m-dot URLs. Six months to get back to where they started from.

Phased M-DOT URL Migration

Now I know what you’re thinking – “I run the tightest SEO ship on the planet. Those kinds of screw-ups would never happen to us.” If so, good for you, but you might do well to consider the following conversation I had with the head of SEO at one of the largest retailer sites in the U.S.

SCENE: A networking event. Everyone standing around in business casual drinking corporate craft beers.

ME: (oddly proud) I’m working on a big M-dot migration…

EXEC: (stopped cold) Dude…I pitched a big M-dot migration last year. We estimated a big increase in organic revenue post-migration. After we pushed it live, we saw basically zero lift.

ME:

The post Before You Kill That Mobile Subdomain… appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

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What Do High-Performance E-Commerce Websites Do Differently? Results from the 2020 KPI Study

Posted by Alan_Coleman

Hello Moz readers,

We’re proud to bring some insights from the Wolfgang E-Commerce KPI Study 2020.

The annual study provides KPI benchmark data which allow digital marketers analyze their 2019 performance and plan their 2020. The most popular section in the report amongst Moz readers has always been the conversion correlation, where we crunch the numbers to see what sets the high-performing websites apart.

We’re privileged to count a number of particularly high-performance websites among our dataset participants. There have been over twenty international digital marketing awards won by a spread of participant websites in the last three years. In these findings, you’re getting insights from the global top tier of campaigns.

If we take a five-year look-back, we can see the conversion correlation section acts as an accurate predictor of upcoming trends in digital marketing.

In our 2016 study, the two stand-out correlations with conversion rate were:

  1. High-performing websites got more significantly paid search traffic than the chasing pack.
  2. High-performing websites got significantly more mobile traffic than the chasing pack.

The two strongest overall trends in our 2020 report are:

  1. It’s the first year in which paid search has eclipsed organic for website revenue.
  2. It’s the first year the majority of revenue has come from mobile devices.

This tells us that the majority of websites have now caught up with what the top-performing websites were doing five years ago.

So, what are the top performing websites doing differently now?

These points of differentiation are likely to become the major shifts in the online marketing mix over the next 5 years.

Let’s count down to the strongest correlation in the study:

4. Race back up to the top! Online PR and display deliver conversions

For the majority of the 2010s, marketers were racing to the bottom of the purchase funnel. More and more budget flowed to search to win exposure to the cherished searcher — that person pounding on their keyboard with their credit card between their teeth, drunk on the newfound novelty of online shopping. The only advertising that performed better than search was remarketing, which inched the advertising closer and closer to that precious purchase moment. 

Now in 2020, these essential elements of the marketing mix are operating at maximum capacity for any advertiser worth their salt. Top performing websites are now focusing extra budget back up towards the top of the funnel. The best way to kill the competition on Search is to have the audience’s first search, be your brand. Outmarket your competition by generating more of your cheapest and best converting traffic, luvly brand traffic. We saw correlations with Average Order Value from websites that got higher than average referral traffic (0.34) and I can’t believe I’m going to write this, but display correlated with a conversion success metric, Average Order Value (0.37). I guess there’s a first time for everything!

3. Efficiencies of scale

Every budding business student knows that when volume increases, cost per unit decreases. It’s called economies of scale. But what do you call it when it’s revenue per unit that’s increasing with volume? At Wolfgang, we call it efficiencies of scale. Similar to last year’s report, one of the strongest correlations against a number of the success metrics was simply the number of sessions. More visitors to the site equals a higher conversion rate per user (0.49). This stat summons the final wag for the long-tail of smaller specialist retailers. This finding is consistent across both the retail and travel sectors.

And it illustrates another reversal of a significant trend in the 2010s. The long-tail of retailers were the early settlers in the e-commerce land of plenty. Very specialist websites with a narrow product range could capture high volumes of traffic and sales.

For example, www.outboardengines.com could dominate the SERP and then affiliate link or dropship product, making for a highly profitable small business. The entrepreneur behind this microbusiness could automate the process and replicate the model again and again for the products of her choosing. Timothy Ferris’ book, The 4 Hour Work Week, became the bible to the first flush of digital nomads; affiliate conferences in Vegas saw leaning towers of chips being pushed around by solopreneur digital marketers with wild abandon.

Alas, by the end of the decade, Google had started to prioritize brands in the SERP, and the big players had finally gotten their online act together. As a result, we are now seeing significant ‘efficiencies of scale’ as described above

2. Attract that user back

What’s the key insight digital marketers need to act upon to succeed in the 2020s? Average Sessions per Visitor is 2, Average Sessions per Purchaser is 5.

In other words, the core role of the marketer is to create an elegant journey across touchpoints to deliver a person from two click prospect to five click purchaser. Any activity which increases sessions per visitor will increase conversion. Similar to last year’s report, another of the strongest and most consistent correlations was the number of Sessions per User (0.7) — which emphasizes the importance of this metric.

So where should a marketer seek these extra interactions?

Check out the strongest correlation we found with conversion success in the Wolfgang KPI Report 2020….

1. The social transaction

The three strongest conversion correlations across the 4,000 datapoints were related to social transactions. This tells us that the very top performing websites were significantly better than everybody else at generating traffic from social that purchases.

Google Analytics is astonishingly rigorous at suppressing social media success stats. It appears they would rather have an inferior analytics product than accurately track cross-device conversions and give social its due. They can track cross-device conversions in Google Ads — why not in Analytics? So, if our Google Analytics data is telling us social is the strongest conversion success factor, we need to take notice.

This finding runs in parallel with recent research by Forrester which finds one-third of CMOs still don’t know what to do with social.

Our correlation calc finds that social is the biggest point of difference between the high flyers and the chasing pack. The marketers who do know how to use social, are the tip top performing marketers of the bunch. We also have further findings on how to out-market the competition on social in the full study.

Here’s the top tier of correlations we extracted from a third of a billion euro in online revenues and over 100 million website visits:

Retail

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Travel

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Overall

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To read more of our findings pertaining to:

  • The social sweet spot
  • Average conversion rates in your industry
  • In-store sales benchmarked
  • Why data is the new oil
  • 2010 was the decade of the…
  • And much, much more

Have a look at the full e-commerce KPI report for 2020. If you found yourself with any questions or anecdotes relating to the data shared here, please let us know in the comments!

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How to Find an Amazing SEO Consultant in 2020

Looking for an SEO consultant who can help you grow your company in 2020? Keep reading.

What is an SEO Consultant?

An SEO consultant is an advisor who helps companies improve their search engine rankings. This applies to every search engine including Google, Bing, YouTube, and even Amazon.

An SEO consultant can help you grow your company in few different ways.

1. General SEO Advice

SEO consultants can be called on to answer all your burning SEO questions. Sometimes you don’t need a full-on SEO analysis and roadmap. Sometimes you just need to get some targeted questions answered by an SEO expert.

2. Analyze an Existing SEO Campaign

he most common use of an SEO consultant is to analyze existing campaigns and develop a strategy for improving them.

Typically a consultant will perform an SEO audit and then create a list of actions based on what will have the highest impact.

All you need to do is execute on these actions, track performance, and stay in touch with the consultant as questions or challenges arise.

Having a second set of eyes (especially someone who’s probably already experienced whatever challenge you’re having) can take your SEO performance to another level.

3. Develop an SEO Strategy

Not every company has jumped on the SEO bandwagon.

That’s when a proven SEO consultant comes into play.

The consultant can develop a 6-12 month (or longer) SEO plan for driving more organic search traffic.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Abraham Lincoln

4. Train In-House Team

Some companies already have a digital marketing team in place and just need some additional guidance and SEO training.

An SEO consultant can come in, analyze your campaign(s), and guide your team members so they can drive better results.

This type of consulting is most common with digital marketing agencies that want to improve their team’s performance, so their clients can get better results.

Now you know what a qualified SEO consultant can do for your company.

Here’s what do you need to do next:

Think about what you truly want when you hire an SEO consultant.

Some questions to consider are:

  • Are your SEO clients getting the results they deserve?
  • Is your company’s revenue growing, stagnating, or declining?
  • Is your website getting enough qualified traffic?

But now you might be wondering:

How do you find a qualified SEO consultant?

I’ve developed an 8-step qualification process for hiring the perfect SEO consultant for your company.

Make sure you read qualification step #4 because getting it wrong could destroy your SEO performance.

How to Hire an SEO Consultant (8 Simple Steps)

Hiring an SEO consultant is a big step for every company.

  • Are your SEO clients getting the results they deserve?
  • Is your company’s revenue growing, stagnating, or declining?
  • Is your website getting enough qualified traffic?

These questions will bounce around in your mind. That’s okay because they should.

Hiring a qualified SEO consultant can explode your company’s growth, but hiring the wrong one, can be devastating. You SHOULD be asking these questions.

That’s why today I’m going to give you 8 steps you need to cover when you’re trying to hire an SEO consultant.

Let’s jump right in.

1. Audit Their Online Footprint

An SEO consultant should be able to demonstrate that they know what they’re doing. All that matters are the results that are being achieved TODAY. Not years ago.

That’s why I laugh when some “experts” claim that ranking for “SEO” keywords is “worthless”. If these keywords are “worthless”, then why aren’t these supposed experts easily ranking for them?

Well, the answer is simple. They can’t.

You’re hiring an SEO consultant to get you more traffic, leads, and customers from organic search.

How could you possibly trust someone or a company that can’t visibly do it themselves?

That’s why I’ve put in concentrated effort to rank for “SEO” keywords since launched Gotch SEO. From the very beginning, I wanted to PROVE to clients that I knew what I was doing.

Of course, getting client results is more important. But ranking for your industry’s keywords is further proof that you know what you’re doing.

How can anyone deny this?

One last important point here:

Be careful of “experts” that claim to have “achieved” results when they’re an in-house SEO.

All the results I’ve achieved for Gotch SEO and our clients are my own doing.

I didn’t have a massive team with an enormous budget pushing these results forward. I didn’t join an already successful company and claim that I was the catalyst for their growth.

Most companies I’ve worked with have virtually no organic search traffic or rankings. I grew them from the ground up. I didn’t jump on an existing rocket ship and claim I did some magic.

The TL;DR of this section is simple:

Only consider SEO consultants that have real results that you can see with your own eyes.

2. Know What You Need

There are variety of reasons to hire an SEO consultant. It’s a good idea to know what objectives you want to achieve by hiring an SEO consultant.

3. Make Sure It’s a Good Fit

I believe two people need to genuinely like and enjoy talking to each other for a business relationship to work out. It’s crazy how well principles in your personal life translate business world.

Would you be friends with someone who didn’t like? Then why do we do business with people who make us cringe even thinking about them?

I used to take on pretty much every client because I was money-hungry.

I’ve learned over the last 5 years of running an SEO company that this is a horrible idea. That’s why I always make sure it’s a good fit before engaging in any relationship. You should do the same.

When you speak to a prospective SEO consultant, you need to be thinking about a few things:

  1. Do you like this person? Seriously. Do you enjoy speaking to them or are you guys constantly interrupting each other, not listening, etc?
  2. Would you enjoy speaking with this person routinely for several months or years? Or would you dread every phone call?

Don’t underestimate the importance of this step. Every time I ignored “my gut” and all the warning signs, I ended up regretting it.

In fact:

I just recently I told a prospect (who was willing to pay $5,000/mo + for SEO) that I had to pass on the engagement.

Am I insane for passing up money? Maybe.

But in my eyes, my personal health and wellbeing in the long-term is far more important than money (or dealing with a nightmare client).

4. Discover Their SEO Methodology

There might be some situations that warrant sketchier SEO strategies such as companies in phrama, gambling, etc. However, most companies (in non-controversial industries) should use safe, long-term focused SEO strategies.

You don’t need an SEO consultant to say that they’re “white hat” to know whether that’s true or not. You just need to analyze what they’re saying.

A qualified SEO consultant will talk a lot about the following:

  • SEO Audits
  • Content Audits
  • Technical SEO
  • Site Architecture
  • User Experience (UX)
  • Keyword Research
  • Keyword Qualification
  • On-Page SEO
  • SEO Content
  • Link Prospecting
  • Link Acquisition

The most important element to ask questions about is link acquisition.

There are many SEO consultant (and companies) that still use high-risk link building tactics. Some of these tactics include Private Blog Networks (PBNs), public blog networks, web 2.0s, profile links (on irrelevant websites) or pretty much any link type that isn’t acquired through an editorial process.

These backlink types can work in the short term, but can get you penalized in the long-term. Then you’ll have to hire another SEO consultant to get you out of the penalty!

Avoid this at the on-set.

If a consultant tells you that their link building process is “proprietary” then run for the hills.

Qualified SEO consultants don’t have anything to hide.

In fact, they would be proud to show what they’ve done.

5. Get Clear Expectations

It’s the SEO consultant’s job to set clear expectations. These expectations will largely depend on what type of work is being done.

If they’re developing an SEO strategy from the ground up, they may say that you can expect to see improved SEO performance within 6-12 months (if you’re taking the necessary actions).

Just remember to be realistic.

SEO is a long-term game. It doesn’t have an on and off switch like paid media. It takes time to see results, but in the long-term, I believe it dominates all other channels (as far as CAC).

6. Trust Them (If They’re Qualified)

You’re hiring an SEO consultant because you’re not an expert in SEO. A qualified SEO consultant is. That’s why you should listen to them.

I’m not saying you should have blind faith in them and not ask questions.

But if you are micromanaging them and not giving them the freedom to do what they believe is best, then you will not have a successful relationship.

All you need to do is think in reverse.

Would you like the SEO consultant to tell you how you should fix the sewage backup at your client’s home?

I think we both know the answer!

7. Be Action-Oriented

The best SEO consultant in the world will fail if you or company doesn’t take action on their recommendations or plan. Unfortunately, this is very common.

Listen to this part very carefully:

Do not hire an SEO consultant until you’re willing and able to take action on their recommendations and game plan.

8. Don’t Wait

We all exhibit levels of procrastination in life. Some more than others.

Entrepreneurs and existing companies are on the low end of the procrastination scale, but it still happens a lot.

It happens to me when a “new” marketing channels comes into play like “chat bots”. The procrastinator in me starts asking:

  • “Is this worth my time?”…
  • “This probably a fad!”… or:
  • “I need to focus on ___ and this will only hurt my focus.”

These are excuses to avoid the pain of learning something new or trying something different.

I can tell you this:

Procrastinating on doing SEO or not hiring an SEO consultant to help you can be detrimental.

Getting SEO results takes time and I can guarantee your competitors aren’t going to wait for you. So, whether you need to optimize your existing SEO performance or need to start from scratch, today is the day.

Every day you wait to improve your SEO performance is day your competitors are getting ahead. Don’t wait.

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5 Common WordPress Security Issues and How to Solve Them

Avoid these Common WordPress Security Issues at all cost to keep your site running securely. Did you know that WordPress accounted for a frightening 90% of all hacked content management systems in 2018? According to a report by Sucuri, Magento comes in second with 4.6%, while Joomla! sits in third place with 4.3%. But this doesn’t mean WordPress is less secure than other CMSs. With around 75,000,000 websites running on WordPress, it has become the easiest target for cyber criminals. So let’s take a look at some of the most common threats and ways to avoid them.


Login Vulnerabilities 

Being a gateway to your WordPress website, the login page is the primary target for hackers. Malicious actors try to guess your login credentials by utilizing brute force attacks to acquire website access. And as soon as they manage to get to your admin dashboard, they basically have control over the whole site. These vulnerabilities are usually the result of using weak passwords and easy-to-guess usernames or having a default login page. So let’s take a look at how you can keep your admin area safe.


Use Strong Usernames and Passwords  

Hackers utilize sophisticated methods which allow them to crack login credentials within minutes. If you are using a weak password or username, you are making their jobs far too easy. Since WordPress doesn’t enforce the use of strong passwords, it is on you to create unique and hard-to-guess login credentials.

The username is the first line of defense against cyber criminals. Therefore, avoid using common or default usernames such as super admin, admin, editor, or even common personal names like John, Tom, Mary etc. As far as the passwords go, experts recommend using long passphrases of 15 characters or more. You should also use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters and special characters.


Avoid Using a Default Login Page 

Most hackers do not perform manual attacks. Rather, they access the login page and crack the login credentials using bots. Accessing the default login page of a WordPress website is not that difficult as most use the default login page (www.yoursite.com/wp-admin). If you want to prevent bots from accessing your admin area, you can change the default login page to something different, e.g. “www.yoursite.com/welcometomysite”.


Outdated Plugins and Themes 

From time to time, developers release updates aimed at fixing various security loopholes involved with WordPress. And if you skip any of these important updates, you are putting your website in danger. Sucuri reports that as much as 80% of WordPress hacks happen due to outdated security themes or plugins, with plugin vulnerabilities making up for the majority of hacks. It might not be obvious, but if you don’t update your themes and plugins, have no doubt that hackers will exploit the vulnerabilities. Basically, it’s like leaving the keys to your front door underneath the mat. 


Update Your Plugins 

Updating your plugins is easy and you can do it in just a couple of steps:

  1. Open your WordPress Dashboard. 
  2. Go to the plugins page by selecting “Installed Plugins” from the left hand menu. Here, you will see a list of all your installed plugins. 
  3. Go through the list and identify the plugins which indicate they are ready for an update, click on “Update now” and voila!

Updating the plugins and themes can sometimes lead to unexpected results. Therefore, it would be wise to stage your website and update the plugins and themes in the staging environment to avoid any unpredictable and problematic behaviour.


Don’t use Nulled Plugins 

Many site owners believe there is no harm in going with the free, cracked or pirated options when it comes to WordPress plugins. Unfortunately, they are completely wrong. Pirated software is exactly the kind you should avoid like the plague. Why? Well, besides being completely free, these plugins often contain malicious code used to provide hackers with a backdoor to your website. Similarly to not updating your software, you are making it all to easy for cybercriminals to take advantage of your site. To avoid such mishaps, you should update your site by getting your themes and plugins from the official WordPress repository sites. 


Poor User Role Management 

Being a WordPress website owner, you are designated with an administrative account by default. As you begin to create new accounts, you will have to assign proper user roles to the users that don’t have to have admin privileges. WordPress offers six different types of users roles which are hierarchically organized. The owner has the most privileges and as we go down the hierarchy, the scope of control of each user role decreases. 

Here is what the WordPress user role hierarchy looks like: 

  • Super Admin – This user is the top of the hierarchy and has complete control over the entire site and all of its features. 
  • Administrator – This user role is the second in line of the hierarchy and grants the user with all administrative rights. 
  • Editor – This user role is the third one in the hierarchy and this kind of user can publish and manage all of the posts across the website. 
  • Author – This user role is the fourth in the hierarchy and this user can only publish and manage their own posts. 
  • Contributor – This user role is the fifth in the hierarchy and this kind of user has the right to write and draft their own posts, but without the possibility of publishing them. 
  • Subscriber – This is the sixth and final role in the WordPress user role hierarchy and this kind of user can only manage their own WordPress profile. 

The Best Way to Manage WordPress User Roles

Proper user-role management centers mostly around the issue of trust. After examining all the privileges a user gets with their user role, you should be able to make informed decisions as to whether that person can be trusted with such “power”. For example, if you manage a website with many outside contributors, it wouldn’t be logical to give them editing rights. You should give this role to an editor you trust, i.e. someone who has proven they know what they are doing.

It is important to know that the site owner should be the Superadmin. Having complete control of the website, they decide who has control over the website’s content. Recklessly assigning user roles almost certainly leads to abuse of power. Even if you trust someone, hackers can still find ways to exploit their recklessness. So be extra careful when assigning someone with an administrator user role.


Lack of a Security Plugin 

WordPress security plugins are a very popular option among the platform’s users looking to fortify their websites. And although there are claims that you don’t actually need a security plugin to deter hackers, the uncomfortable truth is users who instal them achieve higher levels of safety. Yes, you can fortify your website manually up to a certain extent and yes, sometimes the plugin has more than you think you need, but you know the old saying – better safe than sorry. Below are some of the most important things security plugins can do for your WordPress site:

  • Login page hardening – Even though there are plugins that only deal with login security, most security plugins offer multiple layers of security when it comes to hardening the login page, such as Two-Factor authentication, login page CAPTCHA, adding 2FA to XML-RPC, blocking logins for administrators using weak passwords, etc. 
  • Database security- Databases can be vulnerable to attacks if you name them using the WordPress’ default naming prefix. And if you want to be on the safe side, you will need to perform regular updates. Moreover, a security plugin saves time as it lets you perform automatic updates. 
  • Firewall – The main thing about firewalls is they let us block unwanted connections. Because of implementation complexity, WordPress does not offer a firewall solution. But if you are worried about DDoS and brute force attacks, it would be wise to setup a firewall. Security plugins make it easy to implement blocking features and they also offer multiple layers of security.

Which Plugin Should You Choose? 

Not everyone needs a security plugin but in reality, if you want to grow and maintain the quality of your website or service, it is highly recommendable to instal one. There are many options out there so you need to make the right choice. To make an informed decision, read through a comprehensive WordPress security plugins comparison. Informing yourself will allow you to get a better understanding of what works for your type of website. But be careful about your choice as this piece of software will ultimately be your first line of defense.


Weak Hosting Infrastructure 

Since 30% of the world’s top websites run on WordPress, the hosting industry has become oversaturated with companies trying to win over clients. Consequently, there are plenty of cheap options out there, but the quality of such services is undoubtedly low. What you want from your hosting provider is 24/7 support, extra security, malware scans, etc. Top providers usually use a dynamic web application firewall (WAF) to stop exploits such as code injections etc. This significantly lowers the risk of brute force or a DDoS attack, some of the most common types of attacks used by cyber criminals. 

You will also need to protect your WordPress site from threats such as viruses, trojan horses, worms, spyware, keyloggers and adware. Ask your hosting provider if they use real-time malware scanning and chroot separation. There is a lot of questionable traffic on the internet as well, so make sure to check if the provider can stop it from reaching your site. Of course, this kind of service can be costly, but if you monetize your site or service in any way, it sure as hell is a wise investment to make. 


Security is a Must 

If you run a WordPress website or are planning to create one, security should be your number one priority. Why? Because whatever you plan to do, you could lose it all due to some generic hacking attack. Your investments would go to waste and you would actually be helping cybercriminals get what they want. However, if you learn about the various WordPress security issues and how to deal with them, you can easily avoid any of the threats lurking around the dark corners of the internet. 

Harden your login page to avoid any login vulnerabilities by using strong passwords and by  changing the default login page. Do not use outdated plugins and themes. Rather, find out how you can update your plugins in a safe way and by all means avoid installing nulled software. Learn about the proper way to manage user roles and stick to the best practices. You can enhance the security of your website with a security plugin, but remember to make an informed decision. Finally, think about investing in a reliable hosting provider to avoid threats such as malware injections, trojans, etc.

The post 5 Common WordPress Security Issues and How to Solve Them appeared first on WP Fix It.

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How to Turn Your Site into an Automated Sales Machine

Want to make more sales? Of course you do.

Maybe you’re not hitting the kind of figures you want, or maybe you haven’t even made a single sale yet. Either way, you’re not selling as much as you want to be.

But why aren’t you? 

There are tons of possible reasons here, but I’m willing to bet it’s your website. Even if you have an expertly designed site, it could still be the culprit that’s stealing all your sales.

I learned this the hard way. My websites used to flat out suck and I barely got any sales. Once I started putting serious effort into my sites, my sales skyrocketed.

I tried everything. Some stuff was a huge waste. Some techniques ticked off my users. 

But I was able to find some serious long-term winners. 

While there’s no magic formula that will 10x your sales overnight, there are some best practices that will help you optimize your website to pull in the maximum amount of sales possible.

In short, you want to turn your site into an automated sales machine.

And I’m going to show you exactly how to do that.

Ready?

Setting Up Behind the Scenes With a CRM

The first thing you need is great customer relationship management (CRM) software.

A CRM helps you manage all of your current customers and leads in one place. You can communicate, track progress, and oversee all interactions without having to leave the CRM.

The reason you want to use a CRM is that it will help you generate the most amount of money out of your customers. And this is a lot easier to do than it is to acquire new customers.

When my friends at Keap reached out to let me know about their rebranding, I realized it had been a long time since I talked about how important their tool is in my arsenal.

Now, throughout the rest of this article, I’ll show you how I use Keap to grow NeilPatel.com.

But first, let me go into what it does… that way whatever solution you decide to choose, just make sure it has these features.

All-in-one Client Management

A good CRM should provide everything you need to manage your customers. You shouldn’t have to use extra software or apps to fill in the cracks.

That means your CRM should allow you to manage every interaction between you and your customers. You should be able to look at your CRM and know exactly where you are with any given client.

Here’s what it looks like when you first view your dashboard:

Having a simple, minimalistic design like this really helps cut down on the confusion that comes with managing tons of clients. There’s no second-guessing.

Take a look at the menu on the left-hand side:

Keap has taken all the ways you interact with your customers and broken them down into nine intuitive categories.

By clicking on the Contacts tab, you can see all of your clients:

By clicking on a particular client, you can see a summary of your activity with that person, including email conversations and invoice history.

This is important for me and my team as we offer multiple products and this view helps us understand where people are.

Remember, by having multiple products you can maximize your lifetime value, which then allows you to spend more money on marketing.

There’s also a separate message function that you can access by clicking on the Messages tab:

Here you can see all of your correspondence with each client. You’ll need to connect your mobile phone with the Keap app. This allows you to seamlessly switch between mobile and desktop for an efficient messaging experience.

The Tasks tab gives you a rundown of your to-do list for your clients:

You can check off each task here and easily add more by clicking the blue “Add a task” button at the top right. This way, you’ll never lose track of what you need to do.

Next is the Appointments tab, where you can set up a custom booking link to allow clients to schedule appointments with you. You choose your own availability so that clients always choose times that work for you.

This is great if you regularly have face-to-face interactions with your clients for example.

The Money tab is your one-stop-shop for all things finances. You can connect your bank to get paid in a flash and you can also manage all your invoices without any fuss.

You’re always aware of who’s paid and who hasn’t, so you don’t have to go chasing down clients one by one. You can simply send them a reminder within the interface by clicking on the specific invoice and scrolling to the bottom where there’s a reminder option:

The Broadcasts tab allows you to send out emails to your list.

Even though this isn’t standalone email software, you can still see a ton of helpful metrics by clicking on each campaign:

This feature is especially helpful for sending out emails to specific groups, like new leads or existing customers.

Next, you’ll see the Pipeline tab. This is where you build the core of your customer journey.

Once you click on the Pipeline tab, you’ll see four basic panels: new, qualifying, contacting, and negotiating. These are the stages that you’ll go through when converting a new prospect.

This is also where a lot of the automation happens that will save you tons of time and money. I’ll go into detail on this later on in the article, but for now, just remember this pipeline structure.

The Campaigns tab is a full-featured campaign manager that allows you to follow up with leads, track unpaid invoices, simplify scheduling, and much more. (You can also automate a lot of things here.)

Finally, the Reports tab helps you stay on top of your sales. Here you can also track important metrics like email engagement and campaign progression.

Take another look at all of these features. This is what I mean by all-in-one. A CRM should allow you to interact with your clients in any way you need to. You shouldn’t have to jump from software to software to create a great experience for your clients.

Now that we’ve looked at some basic elements of a good CRM, let’s look at one of the must-haves: automation.

Automation

Automation is hands down one of the most important features I look for in a CRM.

Why?

Because running a business is a lot of work, and the more you can automate, the better.

Automating is usually straightforward, but when it comes to automating client interactions, you have to be careful.

People love personal interactions, and that’s why you should do your best to deliver. If your automation is dry and corporate, your clients will notice.

So what do you do?

The trick is to personalize your automation as much as possible.

In other words, your automation should have a human touch.

If this sounds counterintuitive, I totally understand. “Personalized automation” seems like an oxymoron.

But it’s not. In fact, it works pretty well.

Take a look at this email I recently sent:

Believe it or not, this is a template.

The reason this works so well is that it doesn’t read like a template. It reads like an email I sat down and wrote myself.

Of course, you can automate way more than just emails.

Most automation actually happens behind the scenes, so you need a CRM that’s capable of seamlessly automating everything from client data to scheduling and beyond.

Let’s say I want to email a lead when they move from stage to stage in my pipeline. This is a great technique to keep leads engaged but often you have to do it manually.

With Keap, it’s simple. First I head to the Pipeline tab and find the specific lead. Then I click the gear icon and select “Configure automation.”

I now select when I want the email to trigger: either moving into or out of a stage. For this example, I’ll have it trigger when the lead moves out of the qualifying stage (where the lead currently is).

Then I select “send email” from the drop-down menu.

Now all I have to do is write the email.

Of course, you can use personalized templates here to maximize your efficiency even more. You can even personalize the email with this form by clicking on the pound sign on the right to open up the merge fields drop-down menu.

This all takes just a couple of minutes and it’s all completely contained within Keap.

See why automation is so important? It’s one of those features I can’t go without.

And I like easy automation. I’m super busy, so the easier something is, the better. I don’t want to have to go through a million menus just to shoot an email.

All of this said, there are definitely right and wrong ways to automate. You want your automation to make your business as efficient as possible and that means creating dependable processes that you can repeat without even thinking about it.

Creating Processes With a CRM

CRMs are useful for a lot of things from qualifying leads to creating entire marketing campaigns.

But there’s a common thread that runs through all of these features: the ability to create processes.

Processes are invaluable because they save you time, effort, and often money.

They also help your business operate more smoothly. Relying on processes is much easier than having to do everything manually.

That begs the question: What kinds of processes should you create?

The short answer is that you should have a process for everything. And I mean everything

Responding to client emails? Make a process for it. Dealing with new leads? Set up a workflow for qualifying them. You get the picture.

This is critical. If you want to increase your sales, you have to be able to handle increased sales in the first place. Having processes to depend upon will allow you to take on more volume without any unnecessary friction.

As a rule of thumb, if you can automate something in your business, you probably should.

The exception (like I mentioned above) is anything based around human interaction. It’s best to stay as hands-on as possible when it comes to this.

The idea is to make your business run like clockwork so you can pay more attention to your clients and deliver a better experience.

And that’s a win-win for everyone involved.

But let’s get specific and talk about certain processes that you should make sure you have.

Lead Flow

This is a big one.

A lot of marketers focus on lead generation but not enough people talk about what should happen after you’ve got a lead.

If you don’t move your lead forward, your efforts are as good as wasted.

That’s why automating your lead flow process is critical. You don’t want to be doing this by hand––that takes hours.

Instead, let your CRM do it for you.

Create multiple stages along your pipeline and trigger unique email sequences for each stage. This means that you can keep your lead moving forward at all times.

This way, you won’t overlook anything. You don’t have to worry about forgetting to follow up or missing an important email.

So let the CRM do the heavy lifting so you can focus on providing a better service for your customers.

Marketing Emails

With a CRM, it’s possible to automate all of your marketing emails, and in my opinion, this should be one of the first things you automate.

Why? Because emails can take up lots of time without you even noticing.

According to the Litmus 2017 State of Email report, more than 68% of businesses spend a week or more on the production of just one email.

Automation allows you to cut back on that time so you’re not working on the same task for days on end. You’re able to spread out your time and attention on other things that need to be handled.

And by automating your email, you’re making your email work for you instead of the other way around.

For example, whenever you get a new lead, you need to take action as swiftly as possible.

With the right CRM, this is a snap. All you need to do is automate it so that a new lead receives an email as soon as they sign up.

That way, you’re able to contact a warm lead immediately and you don’t have to do anything manually.

You can track them right from the Broadcasts tab:

This means you can also create autoresponder campaigns to get more clients in the door.

You can then move them down your pipeline, which brings me to the next thing you need to do: build a robust pipeline.

Building a Streamlined Sales Pipeline

If you’ve ever wondered what’s stopping your site from raking in the sales, chances are it’s probably your pipeline.

Now, I could talk for hours about building an effective pipeline, but for the purposes of this article, I’m going to condense the information down to the essentials.

So here’s everything you need to know about pipelines.

Common Pipeline Mistakes

Most pipeline errors that cost you precious time and money are easily preventable, which is why you should take the time now to make sure your pipeline is seamless from start to finish.

Ironically, one of the most common pipeline mistakes is simply not spending enough time on your building it out initially.

Your pipeline is the lifeblood of your business. It’s what helps you turn leads into clients. So if it’s not optimal, your sales won’t be either.

Another mistake is not moving leads quickly enough.

The data shows that the sooner you nurture your leads, the better. Wait too long, and your leads will turn cold, which could cost you a sale.

Did you know that as much as 50% of sales go to the first vendor?

Every second matters when you get a new lead.

By baking automation into your pipeline, you can nurture a new lead immediately. The software will take care of that for you, and you’ll be one step closer to making a sale.

Likewise, it’s important to keep this engagement steady throughout your pipeline. Being present at every step will greatly increase your chances of closing the sale.

The best way to do this? Surprise––it’s CRM automation.

But no matter what CRM you’re using, don’t make these costly mistakes.

Organizing Your Pipeline

Now that I’ve talked about what not to do, I’ll tell you what you should do.

First, make sure you have your priorities right at each touchpoint.

To put it another way, your pipeline needs to be doing the right things at the right time.

For example, when you first get a lead, your top priority should be nurturing that lead. You don’t want to hit them over the head with a big sales pitch––you just want to increase brand awareness.

Also, remember that a pipeline is essentially a bunch of leads going through a sales funnel. Use that framework to create your process and automations.

Your CRM can help you create a cohesive pipeline that keeps leads moving through your funnel and ensures that the appropriate actions are taken when necessary.

First of all, the four stock categories that Keap starts you out with (new, qualifying, contacting, negotiating) are great, but you can always add more if you need to.

Just scroll all the way to the right and click the “Add a stage” text field:

For instance, you could add a Completed stage for leads that you’ve successfully converted and are moving forward with.

The way you organize your pipeline might take some trial and error, as most companies have unique workflows.

However, I would recommend having at least three different stages so you can engage your lead at the beginning, middle, and end of your pipeline.

Next, the key is to use automation to make your pipeline as hands-off as possible.

Start by automating your email sequences as I showed above to help move your leads from stage to stage and keep them engaged. Again, these emails need to be personalized. There’s no point in using boilerplate templates that are stiff and boring. Take the time to make each email feel personal.

Next, add automation to your campaigns. This will ensure specific actions are taking within your CRM as leads move from stage to stage. These step-by-step tutorials on automation can help you get up and running.

Now, I won’t lie to you––this is going to take some trial and error. You aren’t going to have a perfect pipeline on day one.

So be sure to test your pipeline before you take it out in the real world.

Plug some fake clients and numbers into your CRM and use a few burner emails to test out your CRM’s capabilities. This will give you the chance to identify and remedy problems before you go live.

This extra step goes a long way. Sure, your pipeline still might have some errors once you start using it for actual clients, but you’ll have minimized the risk involved.

Conclusion

You’re almost at the finish line! It won’t be long until you’re putting your shiny new pipeline to good use.

But first, we have to put all the pieces together, so let’s recap what we’ve gone over.

1. The importance of a robust CRM. You want software that will allow you to manage all of your customers in one place, automate your business process, and track important metrics and interactions.

2. Putting processes in place. Having processes to depend upon is crucial for every business. Doing everything by the seat of your pants leads to inconsistency and often costs you.

3. Automation. If you can automate an internal process, you probably should. You can also automate a fair amount of client interactions without losing a human touch.

The final step is to synthesize all of these steps into one unified approach.

Remember, you’re doing all this to optimize your site for sales. You’re building a strong foundation that will support you as you scale.

After all, your site is the sum of its parts, so make those parts awesome.

Choose a CRM that meets your needs and that’s flexible so it will grow with you. Then create processes that will take the weight off your shoulders––and don’t be afraid to change these processes over time as your business evolves.

And there you have it — everything you need to start turning your site into an automation workhorse.

Before you know it, you’ll be seeing some of the amazing effects of automation and hopefully bringing in more sales than ever before.

Do you use a CRM that has helped turn your website into a sales machine?

The post How to Turn Your Site into an Automated Sales Machine appeared first on Neil Patel.

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