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Amazon Product Review Best Practices

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Amazon Product Review Best Practices

Reviews are a fundamental part of buying on Amazon. They have also been one of the areas that have changed the most over the last decade.

As Amazon continues to mature as a marketplace, it has become very sensitive to review manipulation. Using outdated tactics can trigger Amazon to remove most, if not all, of your listings.

Even worse, if you are identified as someone manipulating reviews on Amazon, you could be permanently banned from the platform.

Amazon is stringent about reviews because, in the not-too-distant past, reviews were the primary way to manipulate the Amazon search algorithm to have your product show up at the top of search.

While reviews are still important for marketing your products on Amazon, the best practices around reviews have changed significantly in the last few years.

Many of even the legitimate ways used by sellers to gather reviews have disappeared or can now potentially get your listing flagged.

In this article, we will discuss some of the most critical information when creating a product reviews strategy on Amazon in today’s climate.

Over the last several years, Amazon determined that many practices around soliciting reviews were diminishing the reputation of reviews on its platform.

As a result, significant changes around actively monitoring review manipulation are put in place. It includes changing the regulations around how Amazon can reach out to customers to get reviews and what kind of incentives can be offered.

Amazon has tried to balance giving sellers legitimate ways to get their products reviewed while limiting the amount of fraud around reviews.

Having customers trust Amazon reviews is a top priority to protect how reviews are regarded on the platform.

Fundamentals Of Amazon Product Reviews

The importance of reviews derives from the credibility they provide to your product. They help the customer determine if your product is a good fit and can be trusted to be sufficient in quality.

Reviews, in turn, help your listing conversion and even your ad conversion.

Often, the question most sellers struggle with is this: How many reviews do I need for my product to succeed on Amazon?

The answer to that will largely depend on how commoditized or competitive your product category is.

The more competitive your category, the more reviews your product will need to compete against similar products.

For example, if you launch a mobile phone case, you will compete with other items with 10,000 or more reviews. This shows that to have your reviews provide real credibility to your product, you will need a larger number of reviews.

On the other hand, if your product is very niche, you may only need 5 to 15 reviews to be retail-ready. Amazon recommends at least 15 reviews for a listing before you start scaling advertising.

However, for niche products, Amazon has successfully ramped up advertising with strong performance well before that total number of reviews.

Finally, brand awareness will also impact the role of reviews for your product. For example, an official Lego product will sell well despite no reviews.

This is because there is a much-existing affinity for the brand. That same product will sell better, and ads will convert at a higher return on investment (ROI) once it has established reviews.

However, the product doesn’t need reviews to make the customers feel confident in their purchase.

Reviews should be an important part of your listing optimization strategy. This does not only apply to converting traffic that comes to your listing but also to increasing the amount of traffic that comes from the search engine result page (SERP).

Keep in mind that your product rating score will show up in the SERP as well as in your ads. Additionally, customers can filter their results by average reviews.

Screenshot from Amazon, March 2023

While it is common for brands to be concerned with any negative review, know that an occasional negative review can help show buyers that your reviews are authentic. No product has a 100% adoption rate.

You should be proactively working to reduce the number of negative reviews on your products. Do this by ensuring your product detail page is as clear as possible.

You should also be reviewing Voice of the Customer in Seller Central on a weekly basis to identify any potential negative customer experiences before Amazon might suppress your listings.

Voice of the Customer is an important tool to be able to anticipate issues with quality control or even the content of your listing.

You should look at all negative customer experiences (NCX) to see what you can do proactively to avoid future returns and negative reviews.

Voice of the Customer can be found in Seller Central under the Performance tab.

Amazon Voice of the Customer Screenshot from Amazon, March 2023

Use Voice of the Customer as part of your Amazon review strategy to help you limit negative reviews on your products. This can also help you avoid Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) restrictions and reduce your overall return rates.

Feedback Vs. Reviews & Ratings

One common point of confusion for new sellers is the difference between feedback and reviews.

“Seller Feedback” refers to the customer’s experience with the seller, not the product itself.

Seller Feedback

Sellers are rated on different factors, such as shipment times, packaging, product accuracy, and significant customer service experiences.

Seller feedback is found on the Seller Central dashboard, the seller store page, and the product detail page by clicking the offers link.

Seller feedback: AmazonScreenshot from Amazon, March 2023

Product Reviews

Product reviews specifically rate whether the product meets the customer’s expectations.

Product reviews are located at the bottom of the detail page, while the total of both reviews and product ratings are displayed at the top of the listing, below the brand name.

It is important to note that it is against Amazon’s terms of service to have family, friends, or employees review your product or a competitor’s product.

Reviews that violate community standards can be flagged for removal. Amazon will only remove reviews that violate the specific conditions outlined in the community guidelines.

Customer reviews: AmazonScreenshot from Amazon, March 2023

Recently, Amazon started allowing customers to provide ratings without giving a review.

It has the same star rating as reviews (one to five) and counts toward your overall customer review totals, but it has no accompanying text. This is why some products might have thousands of stars but only a handful of written reviews.

Programs To Help You Get Legitimate Reviews

Amazon has implemented some tools to help sellers get reviews, especially newcomers to the platform that need those coveted first reviews.

Amazon Vine

Amazon Vine is a program exclusive to those brands enrolled in the Brand Registry Program.

Here is what Amazon says about the Vine program:

“Amazon Vine invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions. Amazon invites customers to become Vine Voices based on their reviewer rank, which is a reflection of the quality and helpfulness of their reviews as judged by other Amazon customers.

Amazon provides Vine members with free products that have been submitted to the program by participating vendors. Vine reviews are the independent opinions of the Vine Voices. The vendor cannot influence, modify, or edit the reviews. Amazon does not modify or edit Vine reviews, as long as they comply with our posting guidelines. A Vine review is identified with the green stripe Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program.”

Amazon handpicks Vine reviewers due to their expertise and history in reviewing a certain product category, so expect highly detailed and honest reviews.

In this Amazon-coordinated program, you send customers your product, and they give you a review in return.

Before enrolling in the Vine program, you must be confident your product will surprise and delight your customers.

Amazon usually waits until a newly launched product has at least five positive reviews before enrolling in the Amazon Vine Program. This allows the platform to ensure no breakage, quality, or content issues must be addressed.

Amazon Vine reviewers are notoriously detailed and honest.

Negative reviews from a Vine user can be especially detrimental because of the length and detail. However, a glowing review can go a long way in helping to build trust and increase conversion for your products.

The cost for utilizing this program is $200 per parent ASIN. There are also specific requirements for the program, including:

  • Be brand registered in Amazon Brand Registry.
  • Have fewer than 30 reviews on the product detail page.
  • Have a buyable Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) offer in “New” condition.
  • Not be an adult product.
  • Have already launched at the time of enrolment.
  • Have available inventory.
  • Have an image and a description.

Introduction To “Request A Review” Button & Ratings

In 2020, Amazon released a new tool for sellers: A button for each order a customer places within the last 5 to 30 days.

Sellers can now simply click the Request a Review button, and an email is auto-generated and sent to the customer.

As a seller, you click on the button then the buyer will receive an email soliciting a star rating for both the product and the seller.

The email is not customizable, and it is sent to customers by Amazon itself, which helps to avoid the complications of making sure that your wording complies with the terms of service, while still being able to request reviews on all your orders.

Amazon email notification for buyersScreenshot by author, March 2023

Using the Request a Review button can be done with the following steps.

To send your customer a request for a seller and product rating, go to Seller Central > Orders > Manage Orders.

Amazon Product Review Best Practices

If you are primarily FBA, make sure it says “View Seller Fulfilled Orders.” If it says View FBA orders, click that link.

This allows you to toggle between the fulfillment methods.

Then, find the order you want to request a review for and click on where the order number is displayed.

Manage orders from AmazonScreenshot from Amazon, March 2023

Then click the Request a Review button.

Manage orders from AmazonScreenshot from Amazon, March 2023

Several tools on the market now allow to automate this process. It is always important to ensure that the third-party software you use follows Amazon’s terms of service.

Reviews are still vital on Amazon to help you increase conversion rates and lower advertising costs. However, they are no longer the quick-and-easy hack to get the top of the organic results they once were.

Request a review button: AmazonScreenshot from Amazon, March 2023

As more sellers use this tool, Amazon sees an increase in the number of product ratings without accompanying text.

Soliciting Reviews

Here is what Amazon says about soliciting reviews:

“Solicitations:

If you ask others to post content about your products, keep it neutral. For example, don’t try to influence them into leaving a positive rating or review.

Don’t offer, request, or accept compensation for creating, editing, or posting content. Compensations include free and discounted products, refunds, and reimbursements.

Don’t try to manipulate the Amazon Verified Purchase badge by offering reviewers special pricing or reimbursements.

Have a financial or close personal connection to a brand, seller, author, or artist?

  • It’s OK to post content other than reviews and questions and answers, but you need to clearly disclose your connection. However, brands or businesses can’t participate in the community in ways that divert Amazon customers to non-Amazon websites, applications, services, or channels. This includes ads, special offers, and “calls to action” used to conduct marketing or sales transactions. If you post content about your own products or services through a brand, seller, author, or artist account, additional labeling isn’t necessary.
  • Authors and publishers can continue to give readers free or discounted copies of their books if they don’t require a review in exchange or try to influence the review.”

It is important to actively reach out to customers to get reviews, but also know that it is better to wait for the reviews to accrue over time rather than trying to cheat the system and have your other reviews removed or, worse, potentially have an account suspension.

This also helps to ensure that customers can feel confident in the authenticity of reviews on Amazon.

While many review services on the market promise to cheat the system to get more reviews, remember that Amazon is aggressively pursuing these companies by closing loopholes and even by using litigation to stop these tactics.

If Amazon catches you using black hat tricks for reviews, it can be very difficult to be reinstated, and you could lose access to the platform as a whole.

Conclusion

For our clients, we find that we can gather enough reviews to obtain customer confidence with the available programs. This includes utilizing Voice of the Customer to avoid negative reviews and strategically organizing variation listings on Amazon to have healthy conversion rates.

As the marketplace grows, Amazon is closing the quick and easy ways to rank; sellers need to learn to develop more strategic launches with products that customers genuinely love.

This has also allowed Amazon to rebuild some of the trust customers have in the reviews on the platform.

Because Amazon is a dynamic and ever-changing ecosystem, it’s essential to regularly check for updates and changes to the terms of service and marketplace guidelines.

Everything in this article is based on the specific state of Amazon Policies at the time it was written.

However, policies can change quickly, so double-check the policies to ensure that what is being recommended here is still the current policy.

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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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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:

Featured Image by Shutterstock/New Africa

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