This weekend, I had the privilege of attending the Harvard Business School Dynamic Women in Business Conference. It was a rich experience across different disciplines, as leaders from media, healthcare, IT and more gathered to reflect on how professionals can develop, regardless of industry.
A lively panel looked at the developments in media, and one thing really emerged from that panel: without a web presence, you’re like someone without a business card. “You have to have one,” said Amy Blumkin of Strategy Impact Group.
Seeing your website as your business card is a great perspective. What does it mean? Well, what does your business card do? It conveys your brand, provides the facts, and does it clearly with economy.
The economy part is important. Your website may be 3, 30, or 300 pages, but it always needs to present information in just the right quantity. Too little, and customers don’t get the information they need, of course. Too much on one page, and it’s like handing out brochures instead of cards: it overwhelmes. Good information architecture can make your website the perfect business card. You need a solid brand conveyed with concentrated impact.
On Monday, I was honored to be a guest on Conversion Rate Optimization with Tim Ash on Webmaster Radio. Tim is a leader of the movement towards rational, effective CRO, and I had the pleasure of speaking at Conversion Conference last fall to a few thousand of the most enthusiastic conversion and metrics professionals out there.
In the radio conversation, we talked about what it takes to do testing and optimization right. Followers of this space know that testing all of your marketing and UX are critical to business success. Companies often wonder where to start. From the interview, here are what I think are the top five tips:
- Make sure there’s a high-level champion. The CEO or COO must advocate for metrics.
- Measure everything holistically. If your web traffic is up, but no one is using your app, or they drop off suddenly, you need to know that for the survival of your business. Using Google Analytics to measure web traffic is just the tip of the iceberg and won’t tell you what you need to know about the health of your business.
- Give CRO a seat at the grownups’ table. If you’re not testing and optimizing, you’re not surviving. This goes back to point 1. It also means that the business value of time spent on testing needs to be factored in to resource allocation.
- Don’t go overboard. If you test every single subject line, you’re being ridiculous.
- Keep testing. You can always get better. Markets change, so even if what you’re doing now is ideal, it will need to change in 6 months’ time to stay ideal.
Testing and optimization are about more than just great tools. It’s a mindset of continuous iteration and improvement based on hard data. And it’s the way businesses today survive and thrive.
To hear the full interview, go to: http://www2.webmasterradio.fm/landing-page-optimization/2014/how-not-to-do-cro-with-christina-inge
Thanks again to Tim and his team for hosting a great show.
Search Engine Land broke the news recently that Panda 4.0, the newest update to how Google ranks websites for search, has apparently come down heavily on the many press release sites that have become a standard part of the SEO arsenal. You know the sites: generalized dumping grounds for press releases on every topic, where companies could post anything formatted as a news release to eke out some SEO benefits.
It’s hardly surprising if Google has chosen to demote these sites. Google’s express intent for years has been to rank sites highly in search based on merit. Past efforts to game the system, such as keyword stuffing (adding lots of keywords to text that don’t add to meaning but fool search engines) have all fallen in turn.
But the press release sites lingered. Partly, this is because many capitalized on naive companies believing that journalists actually read such sites to get story ideas. They don’t. Many journalists receive over 200 press releases a day and don’t read those, let alone press release sites. So as PR, these sites are useless. Yet they did become a wasteland of bad PR in the form of broadcast releases.
SEO-savvy marketers were posting press releases to these sites solely to gain yet another mention of their brands, which could translate into a slight boost in search visibility. It’s content of no merit, however, put up just to game the SEO system. Hours of time that could have been spent writing content that would genuinely convince potential customers was instead spent spamming up these sites. It was a holdout of old-school SEO, the kind that was not focused on creating good websites but on tricking people to find and come to any site. But companies pay dearly for this kind of SEO spamming, because it alienates potential customers once they realize a site is not what they thought it was. Like all forms of trying to take business shortcuts, SEO gamesmanship and amateur PR end up hurting the very organizations that were trying to get ahead without delivering quality.
Let’s hope that this move from Google will further encourage companies to build quality community and communications programs which is where the real SEO and PR wins can be found. They will benefit all of us more in the long run.
To read more about the new update, go to