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A Guide To Organizational Nirvana

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A Guide To Organizational Nirvana

SEO project management is a strategic framework for promoting your website’s visibility, increasing brand exposure, and gaining credible leads through search engines.

It relies on a comprehensive integration of SEO into an array of business workflows that ensure search optimization best practices are reflected throughout each stage of digital content creation and other processes relevant to managing your digital presence.

Why SEO Project Management Matters

Effective integration of SEO into marketing, website, and development, or an agency team, can be highly challenging.

Even in this day and age, many employees haven’t had experience working with SEO pros.

They may not understand the value that SEO can offer their existing workflows or believe these workflows function sufficiently well without it.

So, it’s critical to explain the key benefits of SEO in ways that demonstrate how they can be applied to various team needs across different departments and actively improve each.

What Should Be Included In SEO Project Management

The following initiatives are just some of many that SEO professionals can use to advocate for process integration as part of your SEO project management efforts.

Topic Ideation

Use keyword research to uncover topics and themes for content that will allow you to rank for keywords and terms that are important to your business.

This research can uncover white spaces for new content or opportunities to update existing content.

Content Calendar/Seasonality Recommendations

Analyze keyword popularity and usage seasonality to decide when to publish or update content.

Brief Support

Provide recommendations for keywords that should be used throughout the piece, including the title tag, on-page title, meta description, headers, body content, social copy, and alt text.

Traffic Projections

If keyword research and recommendations included in content are based on monthly search volume (MSV) and estimated eventual rank, then estimated organic traffic/users can be calculated.

While these estimates can’t be directly applied to other channels, keywords are still an indicator of intent.

So, by including keywords with decent MSV, you know there’s interest in the subject matter.

And by writing content you know your audience is looking for, you might also encourage additional traffic from content shares and clicks from email links.

Copy Review

Reviewing copy within the context of keyword research supports existing SEO efforts to make sure the correct keywords are included.

That way, they are used to match the audience’s search intent, where the right range and volume of topics adequately support the subject matter.

So there isn’t too much business jargon or too many company-centric terms that audiences may not be familiar with.

Overly niche or branded language likely won’t mean much to most searchers when they see it on the search engine results page (SERP).

Content Publication

Ensure findability through the correct setup of the new website URL.

Without proper SEO implementation, you’ll risk Google (and other search engines) potentially being unable to find your content, rank it well, or absorb all the content you’ve written.

If you want your content to be findable in search engines:

  • It has to be marked as indexed.
  • It should have title tags and meta descriptions – these are the best way to help convince searchers to click through.
  • It should include alt text on images relevant to your content so Google can understand the image’s context and for accessibility purposes.
  • It should link to internal and/or external content correctly and usefully.

This should help the content reach its full potential of driving organic traffic and avoid mistakes that reduce findability.

Reporting

Proof of the value of SEO, or any effort, comes down to the numbers.

You’ll need to demonstrate how the keywords you are actively going after raise your ranking and how the prominence of your content grows on Page 1 of SERPs.

To accomplish this – and to report on how your optimizations and the new content you create – increase each of the following:

  • Website visibility in search engines.
  • Clickthrough rates (CTRs) from search engines.
  • Organic traffic from search.
  • Conversions from search traffic.

Collectively, these can help prove the significance of SEO work and the value of incorporating it into project management plans.

Content Optimization

Ongoing SEO reporting should focus not only on the impact of new content, but also the role of existing content.

Instead of wasting time, effort, and money creating net new content, SEO can provide insights into the opportunities to help existing content reach its full potential.

It can offer guidance for the most up-to-date language, topics, and themes to incorporate, and which reflect what is most relevant to audiences.

Updated and more accurate content will help improve website jurisdiction on the subject matter and support any existing SEO authority.

And when Google recrawls a recently updated site, it gives the content a new life and can make it more likely to show up higher in SERPs.

Why Get Buy-In First Before Implementing SEO PM Processes

Before setting up new processes or jumping into making structural changes, it’s important to get buy-in from all of the associated team members and leadership.

Set up meetings with interested parties, including creative, product, demand gen, PR, events, marketing execs, and company thought leaders, to understand the benefits of implementation.

Reframe each conversation based on the goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), and expected outcomes.

But consistently share the main point: SEO should never be an afterthought.

SEO starts in the brief creation and research phase.

It should be prioritized throughout, serve as quality control before and after publication, and be reported on to prove results.

Demonstrate the value of the SEO workflows and objectives listed above to highlight why incorporating SEO should not be considered optional, but a necessary part of content and webpage creation.

Dedicating time to connect with team members will help prevent pushback – or at least reduce negative feedback – because they will understand the upsides.

How To Create Effective Cross-Team SEO Project Management Processes

When it’s time to begin integrating your SEO efforts into larger team processes, follow this holistic set of actions:

  • Establish.
  • Collaborate.
  • Finalize.
  • Share.
  • Implement.
  • Test.
  • Track.

Establish The Role Of SEO In Your Company And/Or Department

Establishing the overall role of SEO will be most helpful for deciding where to start your efforts.

It will also help inform which of the above SEO project management integrations are most valuable to your current team, organization, and needs.

Begin by establishing a thorough understanding of these two sets of processes:

  • Existing content processes.
  • Existing web/development processes.

Establish the players involved across content creation for existing content processes, including copy, design, strategy, planning, social, etc.

You should also consider communication platforms, order of operations, timelines and deadlines, primary KPIs, any existing SEO efforts, and anything else included between the initial stage of a piece of content’s inception, to its eventual publication and tracking.

For existing web/development processes, understand the technical steps required for a piece of content to go live.

Who is responsible for creating a new page?

Is the content management system (CMS) self-service and user-friendly to someone outside the dev team, or is more extensive programming knowledge required?

Who, if anyone, is responsible for ensuring SEO best practices are followed? Is there anything built into the CMS that makes incorporating SEO components easier?

Are there any structural implications for the site when creating new content? Are there any other technical SEO considerations?

It may take a while to answer all these questions and figure out what else you need to know. But these are good starting points for understanding where SEO needs to be integrated.

Determine A New Set Of Collaborative Processes For Content Creation And Optimization

Once you’ve obtained a fairly comprehensive understanding of your team’s processes, it’s time to inject SEO into the spaces where it should live – or decide how to alter SEO’s current role to provide the greatest benefit.

Here’s an example of an SEO-driven content creation process:

  • Team member ideates content topic.
  • The team lead approves topic.
  • SEO expert creates content brief.
  • Content Lead reviews content brief and provides feedback.
  • SEO and Content Lead align on the final brief.
  • Content Lead sends brief to the writer.
  • Writer submits first draft of content and submits for review to Content Lead.
  • Content Lead reviews first draft and provides edits as suggestions to Writer.
  • Writer finalizes draft and submits for final review to Content Lead + Manager/Team Lead.
  • Writer ideates & then submits all blog design needs. (For example, hero/header image, product image, charts, graphs, images for social posts, etc.)
  • Designer creates graphic elements.
  • Writer sets up content CMS/website platform.
  • SEO reviews setup in CMS/website platform and provides feedback.
  • Writer makes any other edits from SEO.
  • Writer publishes the article.
  • Writer QAs published content to ensure correct implementation.
  • Writer creates copy for social media channels.
  • Writer updates content records to include new content.
  • Writer and SEO track content performance.

While multiple processes could be created to account for various content owners and creators, this example shows one of the more extensive ways that SEO can be involved with content.

Finalize New Processes By Getting Leadership Approval

While you’ve hopefully already received buy-in from leadership and other team members and departments, request additional approval once your proposal is complete.

Sharing the start-to-finish process of SEO and content integration will show just how many ways SEO can contribute to the content process, all of which should help increase findability and traffic.

Comprehension of the full picture should help increase appreciation of SEO efforts to optimize the entire workflow, thus further advocating for SEO and building on your buy-in.

Share The New Processes With Team Members

Open communication is critical any time processes change.

Make sure no one feels blindsided or disconnected from the efforts they’re involved with.

Additionally, ensuring your whole team has visibility into your plans can help improve awareness, adoption, and accountability.

Communicate Plans By Leveraging The Right Technology

One of the most successful ways to do this is by leveraging the right technology to communicate and track updates.

And the best way to publicize these processes is to include them in a project management or project tracking software system.

Whether or not you currently use software for team and project management, devote time to identifying the best PM technology for your team’s needs.

The optimal software should include at least these five capabilities:

  • Calendar view.
  • Tasks for multiple owners.
  • Document editing and management.
  • Commenting, tagging, and communicating within the platform.
  • Integrations with core tools.

Implementing The Right Project Management Software

Programs like Asana allow you to build out project templates that include each task, and accompanying subtasks, of your plans with project descriptions, expectations, and links to relevant documents.

Each can be assigned to an individual with due dates or a range of start and end dates.

These platforms can send emails, Slack updates, and other notifications about you and your team members’ tasks to help keep each of you informed about your assigned workloads.

As long as the tasks are set up properly, you can be assured that each team member clearly understands the new expectations, timing, and dependencies between SEO and other departments.

And all will have clear visibility into deadlines, so you don’t have to remind them.

Setting Up And Sharing The New Processes In The PM Software Before Launch

Be very clear and direct when it comes to implementing new project workflows before kicking them off.

Communicate with the content team and relevant product team members about:

  • What the new processes entail.
  • How each is set up in the PM software.
  • How much time each team member has to complete each project phase.
  • What parts of the project are contingent on other parts – especially what is needed for SEO to kick off their research.
  • Which project will be the first to implement the new processes.

Take in any feedback, and update the process as needed.

Implement New Project Workflows

Now the work begins.

Follow the flow you’ve created to build out content from scratch or refresh it.

Test

With all your comprehensive planning (and some luck), your new SEO integration efforts will go off without a hitch.

But just in case, carefully test and follow the progress and completion of the first few iterations.

Confirm if everything is going according to plan, whether there are any flaws or gaps, if the assigned SEO has the resources they need, and if there is any team feedback.

Be mindful of expected deadlines, whether more lead time is needed, and if, given everything else you and your team members are expected to accomplish, your whole team can deliver the best SEO-driven output throughout each stage of the process.

If not, don’t hesitate to make changes to your plans.

It’s better to delay full implementation than to proceed in a way that doesn’t allow you to substantiate the full impact of your efforts.

Track Performance Of Content That’s Been Created With Your New Processes

Lastly, tracking your efforts is critical for maintaining buy-in on any SEO project management strategy or process.

Measure Performance

Measure your performance against historical benchmarks of similar content – focusing primarily on organic traffic and activity from organic search.

Decide which organic KPIs are more important to you; for example, traffic to your blog, form conversions, time on page, or newsletter subscriptions.

Then, identify and establish projections for each.

Your projections should be based on things like historical performance, ranking expectations, MSV for targeted queries for new content, and promotional plans that drive traffic.

Increased traffic across non-organic channels can be an additional way to measure the success of SEO efforts since keywords represent search intent, so you know audiences are looking for the content you create.

If they see it in email, social, or ads and click at a higher rate, you can infer that the search intent applies to other channels.

Set Up Reporting

Start your reporting by first identifying your data sources.

For website analytics and site traffic, you may be using Google Analytics or Adobe.

For form conversions or newsletter subscriptions, you’ll be using a MAP.

Connect with the owners of these tools, like an expert on your marketing automation team, to determine what can be automated and how you can begin to build reports to track KPIs.

Even without automated resources, there are plenty of free tools and APIs to help.

For those with more resources, this is where investing in an SEO platform can really help aggregate all of your data in one place to analyze and extract key insights.

Uncover Insights

Once you have your reporting in place, review your content’s performance regularly.

Start off with more frequent and granular readouts to become familiar with the nuances of the data, so you can begin to identify small trends.

Before you present to leadership, step back and show a holistic overview of the impact of your efforts.

Make sure you consider how long it’s taken Google to start ranking a new piece of content and when it begins to drive organic traffic.

Report on whether the content created through your new SEO project management system speeds it up.

The same applies to the amount of time it takes for conversions to start – and hopefully spike – after certain efforts.

Then analyze the types of content and topics that perform best.

Feed Learning Back Into Content Optimizations

Use all of this reporting to your advantage, and translate your findings into optimizations for your process and your pages.

Conclusion

While most content roles and skills have found ways to integrate themselves into the content research, creation, and optimization processes, SEO often struggles to emerge as a consistent, let alone required, part of team project management.

However, by approaching SEO project management with specific tasks in mind and a process that incorporates them, you’ll have the best chance for success – especially when the process can be carefully woven into the existing efforts of your team.

It can take time, but it will ultimately show strategic initiative thinking that demonstrates holistic knowledge of an effectively optimized process, resulting in measurable performance improvement towards reaching your goals.

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How To Uncover Traffic Declines In Google Search Console And How To Fix Them

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How To Uncover Traffic Declines In Google Search Console And How To Fix Them

Google Search Console is an essential tool that offers critical insights into your website’s performance in Google search results.

Occasionally, you might observe a sudden decline in organic traffic, and it’s crucial to understand the potential causes behind this drop. The data stored within Google Search Console (GSC) can be vital in troubleshooting and understanding what has happened to your website.

Before troubleshooting GSC traffic declines, it’s important to understand first what Google says about assessing traffic graphs in GSC and how it reports on different metrics.

Understanding Google Search Console Metrics

Google’s documentation on debugging Search traffic drops is relatively comprehensive (compared to the guidance given in other areas) and can, for the most part, help prevent any immediate or unnecessary panic should there be a change in data.

Despite this, I often find that Search Console data is misunderstood by both clients and those in the first few years of SEO and learning the craft.

Image from Google Search Central, May 2024

Even with these definitions, if your clicks and impressions graphs begin to resemble any of the above graph examples, there can be wider meanings.

Search Central description  It could also be a sign that…
Large drop from an algorithmic update, site-wide security, or spam issue This could also signal a serious technical issue, such as accidentally deploying a noindex onto a URL or returning the incorrect status code – I’ve seen it before where the URL renders content but returns a 410.
Seasonality You will know your seasonality better than anyone, but if this graph looks inverse it could be a sign that during peak search times, Google is rotating the search engine results pages (SERPs) and choosing not to rank your site highly. This could be because, during peak search periods, there is a slight intent shift in the queries’ dominant interpretation.
Technical issues across your site, changing interests This type of graph could also represent seasonality (both as a gradual decline or increase).
Reporting glitch ¯_(ツ)_/¯ This graph can represent intermittent technical issues as well as reporting glitches. Similar to the alternate reasons for graphs like Seasonality, it could represent a short-term shift in the SERPs and what meets the needs of an adjusted dominant interpretation of a query.

Clicks & Impressions

Google filters Click and Impression data in Google Search Console through a combination of technical methods and policies designed to ensure the accuracy, reliability, and integrity of the reported data.

Reasons for this include:

  • Spam and bot filtering.
  • Duplicate data removal.
  • User privacy/protection.
  • Removing “invalid activities.”
  • Data aggregation and sampling.

One of the main reasons I’ve seen GSC change the numbers showing the UI and API is down to the setting of thresholds.

Google may set thresholds for including data in reports to prevent skewed metrics due to very low-frequency queries or impressions. For example, data for queries that result in very few impressions might be excluded from reports to maintain the statistical reliability of the metrics.

Average Position

Google Search Console produces the Average Position metric by calculating the average ranking of a website’s URLs for a specific query or set of queries over a defined period of time.

Each time a URL appears in the search results for a query, its position is recorded. For instance, if a URL appears in the 3rd position for one query and in the 7th position for another query, these positions are logged separately.

As we enter the era of AI Overviews, John Mueller has confirmed via Slack conversations that appearing in a generative snapshot will affect the average position of the query and/or URL in the Search Console UI.

1718702762 996 How To Uncover Traffic Declines In Google Search Console AndSource: John Mueller via The SEO Community Slack channel

I don’t rely on the average position metric in GSC for rank tracking, but it can be useful in trying to debug whether or not Google is having issues establishing a single dominant page for specific queries.

Understanding how the tool compiles data allows you to better diagnose the reasons as to why, and correlate data with other events such as Google updates or development deployments.

Google Updates

A Google broad core algorithm update is a significant change to Google’s search algorithm intended to improve the relevance and quality of search results.

These updates do not target specific sites or types of content but alter specific systems that make up the “core” to an extent it is noteworthy for Google to announce that an update is happening.

Google makes updates to the various individual systems all the time, so the lack of a Google announcement does not disqualify a Google update from being the cause of a change in traffic.

For example, the website in the below screenshot saw a decline from the March 2023 core update but then recovered in the November 2023 core update.

GSC: the website saw a decline from the March 2023 core updateScreenshot by author from Google Search Console, May 2024

The following screenshot shows another example of a traffic decline correlating with a Google update, and it also shows that recovery doesn’t always occur with future updates.

traffic decline correlating with a Google updateScreenshot by author from Google Search Console, May 2024

This site is predominantly informational content supporting a handful of marketing landing pages (a traditional SaaS model) and has seen a steady decline correlating with the September 2023 helpful content update.

How To Fix This

Websites negatively impacted by a broad core update can’t fix specific issues to recover.

Webmasters should focus on providing the best possible content and improving overall site quality.

Recovery, however, may occur when the next broad core update is rolled out if the site has improved in quality and relevance or Google adjusts specific systems and signal weightings back in the favour of your site.

In SEO terminology, we also refer to these traffic changes as an algorithmic penalty, which can take time to recover from.

SERP Layout Updates

Given the launch of AI Overviews, I feel many SEO professionals will conduct this type of analysis in the coming months.

In addition to AI Overviews, Google can choose to include a number of different SERP features ranging from:

  • Shopping results.
  • Map Packs.
  • X (Twitter) carousels.
  • People Also Ask accordions.
  • Featured snippets.
  • Video thumbnails.

All of these not only detract and distract users from the traditional organic results, but they also cause pixel shifts.

From our testing of SGE/AI Overviews, we see traditional results being pushed down anywhere between 1,000 and 1,500 pixels.

When this happens you’re not likely to see third-party rank tracking tools show a decrease, but you will see clicks decline in GSC.

The impact of SERP features on your traffic depends on two things:

  • The type of feature introduced.
  • Whether your users predominantly use mobile or desktop.

Generally, SERP features are more impactful to mobile traffic as they greatly increase scroll depth, and the user screen is much smaller.

You can establish your dominant traffic source by looking at the device breakdown in Google Search Console:

Device by users: clicks and impressionsImage from author’s website, May 2024

You can then compare the two graphs in the UI, or by exporting data via the API with it broken down by devices.

How To Fix This

When Google introduces new SERP features, you can adjust your content and site to become “more eligible” for them.

Some are driven by structured data, and others are determined by Google systems after processing your content.

If Google has introduced a feature that results in more zero-click searches for a particular query, you need to first quantify the traffic loss and then adjust your strategy to become more visible for similar and associated queries that still feature in your target audience’s overall search journey.

Seasonality Traffic Changes

Seasonality in demand refers to predictable fluctuations in consumer interest and purchasing behavior that occur at specific times of the year, influenced by factors such as holidays, weather changes, and cultural events.

Notably, a lot of ecommerce businesses will see peaks in the run-up to Christmas and Thanksgiving, whilst travel companies will see seasonality peaks at different times of the year depending on the destinations and vacation types they cater to.

The below screenshot is atypical of a business that has a seasonal peak in the run-up to Christmas.

seasonal peaks as measured in GSCScreenshot by author from Google Search Console, May 2024

You will see these trends in the Performance Report section and likely see users and sessions mirrored in other analytics platforms.

During a seasonal peak, Google may choose to alter the SERPs in terms of which websites are ranked and which SERP features appear. This occurs when the increase in search demand also brings with it a change in user intent, thus changing the dominant interpretation of the query.

In the travel sector, the shift is often from a research objective to a commercial objective. Out-of-season searchers are predominantly researching destinations or looking for deals, and when it is time to book, they’re using the same search queries but looking to book.

As a result, webpages with a value proposition that caters more to the informational intent are either “demoted” in rankings or swapped out in favor of webpages that (in Google’s eyes) better cater to users in satisfying the commercial intent.

How To Fix This

There is no direct fix for traffic increases and decreases caused by seasonality.

However, you can adjust your overall SEO strategy to accommodate this and work to create visibility for the website outside of peak times by creating content to meet the needs and intent of users who may have a more research and information-gathering intent.

Penalties & Manual Actions

A Google penalty is a punitive action taken against a website by Google, reducing its search rankings or removing it from search results, typically due to violations of Google’s guidelines.

As well as receiving a notification in GSC, you’ll typically see a sharp decrease in traffic, akin to the graph below:

Google traffic decline from penaltyScreenshot by author from Google Search Console, May 2024

Whether or not the penalty is partial or sitewide will depend on how bad the traffic decline is, and also the type (or reason) as to why you received a penalty in the first place will determine what efforts are required and how long it will take to recover.

Changes In PPC Strategies

A common issue I encounter working with organizations is a disconnect in understanding that, sometimes, altering a PPC campaign can affect organic traffic.

An example of this is brand. If you start running a paid search campaign on your brand, you can often expect to see a decrease in branded clicks and CTR. As most organizations have separate vendors for this, it isn’t often communicated that this will be the case.

The Search results performance report in GSC can help you identify whether or not you have cannibalization between your SEO and PPC. From this report, you can correlate branded and non-branded traffic drops with the changelog from those in command of the PPC campaign.

How To Fix This

Ensuring that all stakeholders understand why there have been changes to organic traffic, and that the traffic (and user) isn’t lost, it is now being attributed to Paid.

Understanding if this is the “right decision” or not requires a conversation with those managing the PPC campaigns, and if they are performing and providing a strong ROAS, then the organic traffic loss needs to be acknowledged and accepted.

Recovering Site Traffic

Recovering from Google updates can take time.

Recently, John Mueller has said that sometimes, to recover, you need to wait for another update cycle.

However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be active in trying to improve your website and better align with what Google wants to reward and relying on Google reversing previous signal weighting changes.

It’s critical that you start doing all the right things as soon as possible. The earlier that you identify and begin to solve problems, the earlier that you open up the potential for recovery. The time it takes to recover depends on what caused the drop in the first place, and there might be multiple factors to account for. Building a better website for your audience that provides them with better experiences and better service is always the right thing to do.

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Barriers To Audience Buy-In

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Barriers to audience buy-in with lead generation

This is an excerpt from the B2B Lead Generation ebook, which draws on SEJ’s internal expertise in delivering leads across multiple media types.

People are driven by a mix of desires, wants, needs, experiences, and external pressures.

It can take time to get it right and convince a person to become a lead, let alone a paying customer.

Here are some nuances of logic and psychology that could be impacting your ability to connect with audiences and build strong leads.

1. Poor Negotiations & The Endowment Effect

Every potential customer you encounter values their own effort and information. And due to something called the endowment effect, they value that time and data much more than you do.

In contrast, the same psychological effect means you value what you offer in exchange for peoples’ information more than they will.

If the value of what you’re offering fails to match the value of what consumers are giving you in exchange (read: their time and information), the conversions will be weak.

The solution? You can increase the perceived value of the thing you’re offering, or reduce the value of what the user “pays” for the thing you offer.

Want an exclusive peek into tactics we use when developing our own lead gen campaigns? Check out our upcoming webinar.

Humans evaluate rewards in multiple dimensions, including the reward amount, the time until the reward is received, and the certainty of the reward.

The more time before a reward occurs, and the less certain its ultimate value, the harder you have to work to get someone to engage.

Offering value upfront – even if you’re presenting something else soon after, like a live event, ebook, or demo – can help entice immediate action as well as convince leads of the long-term value of their investment.

It can even act as a prime for the next step in the lead gen nurturing process, hinting at even more value to come and increasing the effectiveness of the rest of your lead generation strategy.

It’s another reason why inbound content is a critical support for lead generation content. The short-term rewards of highly useful ungated content help prepare audiences for longer-term benefits offered down the line.

3. Abandonment & The Funnel Myth

Every lead generation journey is carefully planned, but if you designed it with a funnel in mind, you could be losing many qualified leads.

That’s because the imagery of a funnel might suggest that all leads engage with your brand or offer in the same way, but this simply isn’t true – particularly for products or services with high values.

Instead, these journeys are more abstract. Leads tend to move back and forth between stages depending on their circumstances. They might change their minds, encounter organizational roadblocks, switch channels, or their needs might suddenly change.

Instead of limiting journeys to audience segments, consider optimizing for paths and situations, too.

Optimizing for specific situations and encounters creates multiple opportunities to capture a lead while they’re in certain mindsets. Every opportunity is a way to engage with varying “costs” for time and data, and align your key performance indicators (KPIs) to match.

Situational journeys also create unique opportunities to learn about the various audience segments, including what they’re most interested in, which offers to grab their attention, and which aspects of your brand, product, or service they’re most concerned about.

4. Under-Pricing

Free trials and discounts can be eye-catching, but they don’t always work to your benefit.

Brands often think consumers will always choose the product with the lowest possible price. That isn’t always the case.

Consumers work within something referred to as the “zone of acceptability,” which is the price range they feel is acceptable for a purchasing decision.

If your brand falls outside that range, you’ll likely get the leads – but they could fail to buy in later. The initial offer might be attractive, but the lower perception of value could work against you when it comes time to try and close the sale.

Several elements play into whether consumers are sensitive to pricing discounts. The overall cost of a purchase matters, for example.

Higher-priced purchases, such as SaaS or real estate, can be extremely sensitive to pricing discounts. They can lead to your audience perceiving the product as lower-value, or make it seem like you’re struggling. A price-quality relationship is easy to see in many places in our lives. If you select the absolute lowest price for an airline ticket, do you expect your journey to be timely and comfortable?

It’s difficult to offer specific advice on these points. To find ideal price points and discounts, you need good feedback systems from both customers and leads – and you need data about how other audiences interact. But there’s value in not being the cheapest option.

Get more tips on how we, here at SEJ, create holistic content campaigns to drive leads in this exclusive webinar.

5. Lead Roles & Information

In every large purchasing decision, there are multiple roles in the process. These include:

  • User: The person who ultimately uses the product or service.
  • Buyer: The person who makes the purchase, but may or may not know anything about the actual product or service being purchased.
  • Decider: The person who determines whether to make the purchase.
  • Influencer: The person who provides opinions and thoughts on the product or service, and influences perceptions of it.
  • Gatekeeper: The person who gathers and holds information about the product or service.

Sometimes, different people play these roles, and other times, one person may hold more than one of these roles. However, the needs of each role must be met at the right time. If you fail to meet their needs, you’ll see your conversions turn cold at a higher rate early in the process.

The only way to avoid this complication is to understand who it is you’re attracting when you capture the lead, and make the right information available at the right time during the conversion process.

6. Understand Why People Don’t Sign Up

Many businesses put significant effort into lead nurturing and understanding the qualities of potential customers who fill out lead forms.

But what about the ones who don’t fill out those forms?

Understanding these values and the traits that drive purchasing decisions is paramount.

Your own proprietary and customer data, like your analytics, client data, and lead interactions, makes an excellent starting place, but don’t make the mistake of basing your decisions solely on the data you have collected about the leads you have.

This information creates a picture based solely on people already interacting with you. It doesn’t include information about the audience you’ve failed to capture so far.

Don’t fall for survivorship bias, which occurs when you only look at data from people who have passed your selection filters.

This is especially critical for lead generation because there are groups of people you don’t want to become leads. But you need to make sure you’re attracting as many ideal leads as possible while filtering out those that are suboptimal. You need information about the people who aren’t converting to ensure your filters are working as intended.

Gather information from the segment of your target audience that uses a competitor’s products, and pair them with psychographic tools and frameworks like “values and lifestyle surveys” (VALS) to gather insights and inform decisions.

In a digital world of tough competition and even more demands on every dollar, your lead generation needs to be precise.

Understanding what drives your target audience before you capture the lead and ensuring every detail is crafted with the final conversion in mind will help you capture more leads and sales, and leave your brand the clear market winner.

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SEO

Google Answers Question About Toxic Link Sabotage

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Gary Illyes answers a question about how to notify Google about toxic link sabotage

Google’s Gary Illyes answered a question about how to notify Google that someone is poisoning their backlink profile with “toxic links” which is a problem that many people have been talking about for at least fifteen years.

Question About Alerting Google To Toxic Links

Gary narrated the question:

“Someone’s asking, how to alert Google of sabotage via toxic links?”

And this is Gary’s answer:

I know what I would do: I’d ignore those links.

Generally Google is really, REALLY good at ignoring links that are irrelevant to the site they’re pointing at. If you feel like it, you can always disavow those “toxic” links, or file a spam report.

Disavow Links If You Feel Like It

Gary linked to Google’s explainer about disavowing links where it’s explained that the disavow tool is for a site owner to tell Google about links that they are responsible for in some way, like paid links or some other link scheme.

This is what it advises:

“If you have a manual action against your site for unnatural links to your site, or if you think you’re about to get such a manual action (because of paid links or other link schemes that violate our quality guidelines), you should try to remove the links from the other site to your site. If you can’t remove those links yourself, or get them removed, then you should disavow the URLs of the questionable pages or domains that link to your website.”

Google suggests that a link disavow is only necessary when two conditions are met:

  1. “You have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site,
    AND
  2. The links have caused a manual action, or likely will cause a manual action, on your site.”

Both of the above conditions must be met in order to file a valid link disavow tool.

Origin Of The Phrase Toxic Links

As Google became better at penalizing sites for low quality links and paid links, some in the highly competitive gambling industry started creating low quality links to sabotage their competitors. The practice was called negative SEO.

The phrase toxic link is something that was never heard of until after the Penguin link updates in 2012 which required penalized sites to remove all the paid and low quality links they created and then disavow the rest. An industry grew around disavowing links and it was that industry that invented the phrase Toxic Links for use in their marketing.

Confirmation That Google Is Able To Ignore Links

I have shared this anecdote before and I’ll share it here again. Someone I knew contacted me and said that their site lost rankings from negative SEO links. I took a look and their site had a ton of really nasty looking links. So out of curiosity (and because I knew that the site was this person’s main income), I emailed someone at Google Mountain View headquarters about it. That person checked it and replied that the site didn’t lose rankings because of the links. They lost rankings because of a Panda update related content issue.

That was around 2012 and it showed me how good Google was at ignoring links. Now, if Google was that good at ignoring really bad links back then, they’re probably better at it now, twelve years later now that they have the spam brain AI.

Listen to the question and answer at the 8:22 minute mark:

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