The Link — SEO.com's Newsletter July 2012

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Why Search is a Marketing Cornerstone

Even though online shopping has been around for almost two decades, it is constantly evolving and reshaping the consumer experience. So what does that mean for your bustling eCommerce business? A lot. The web has given consumers more power—the power to move from one business to another within a matter of seconds. So if the power is with the people, where do you go from here?

The Search Era

Online product and service research are two of the biggest activities online. A number of surveys prove that search is the second most common online activity, after email. Even more, the popularity of search spreads across all generations. It’s becoming increasingly clear that implementing a search marketing plan and integrating it in your outreach efforts is practically non-negotiable.

To be seen online and to meet the needs of Internet users and your target market, search marketing has to be in your marketing budget. In a recent Marketing Sherpa survey, it is suggested that search drives an average additional 41% of traffic for companies. For small businesses especially, there is a lot riding on site traffic for more revenue to grow your company.

A Convenient Store

PWC set out to understand how online shoppers are changing retail as we know it. Their research indicates that the ‘convenience factor’ is the driving force behind the growth of eCommerce. ECommerce gives consumers new choices in terms of how they make a purchase and what they purchase—whenever and wherever they want. With this ease of shopping, consumers begin to demand a simple experience from every company, and brands must compete.

An ecommerce website is no longer just a sales outlet, it is a way to actively engage with and connect with both leads and customers. A website allows companies to focus directly on the consumer, keeping up with their interests in real-time.

Customers demand customization when it comes to products and delivery, and enhancing the online experience allows researching and purchasing new products and services much easier and more efficient. Businesses benefit from designing search engine optimized websites that encourage quick and efficient product research. Better yet, making an optimized website helps transform leisure product research into an actual online purchase or a new lead.

An Integrated Approach

Though billions of unique searches are conducted every month, the truth is that people use a blend of platforms for information on a daily basis. Having a search-friendly online shopping environment helps companies align themselves with the overall expectations of online consumers. Companies, therefore, need to be integrating mobile, web, and retail to create a seamless experience. These touch points support multichannel sales and ensure an exciting experience.

Taking advantage of ways to enhance online shopping and search activities can ensure that businesses are found and loyal customers are created online. Is your business taking advantage of search as a major marketing cornerstone?

Client Spotlight: Treatment Center Uses Search Marketing to Find Those Who Need Help

Previous patients from Castlewood testify that this treatment center doesn’t just save lives—they teach people how to live. Castlewood is a residential eating disorder treatment center that offers individualized programs to help clients change. In fact, the facility has been around for over ten years and now has two peaceful locations in Missouri dedicated to identifying, treating and resolving disorders for a longer lasting recovery.

Castlewood Treatment CenterBefore the Internet, potential patients found eating disorder programs and treatment centers like Castlewood based on referrals from their clinical professionals. Now, potential patients primarily get their information online, and treatment centers like Castlewood have to be there.

“Clients use the Internet as the new referral source,” the clinical marketing director of the Castlewood Treatment Center for Eating Disorders, Deanna James said. “They want to see testimonials and they would like to see the treatment center before they go. So, we provide all of that information on our website.”

Potential patients check out websites and social sites to evaluate different care centers for eating disorders. Castlewood sought out search marketing years ago to help the company capture the attention of those seeking freedom and help from eating disorder therapists.

“If we don’t rank high, it doesn’t matter what is on our website. It is really important for us to rank high in order to be seen and we utilize search marketing to do it,” said James.

By ranking high, Castlewood increases its exposure to potential patients seeking better health and care. According to James, about 60 percent of the facility’s referrals come from the web. Potential patients are able to find out about Castlewood because of their online rankings. After the treatment center began working with SEO.com, they secured six keywords in the coveted number one search engine results page position and sixteen additional keywords in the top five positions.

Better yet, the company has experienced an increase in organic website traffic by 554 percent.

“It’s a highly competitive field,” James added. So in the end, the use of search marketing to amplify its reach to help others gave Castlewood a definite competitive edge.

SEO Tip: Have External Links Open in New Tabs

Critics say forcing visitors to open external links in new browser tabs may take away from the user experience— we’re here to tell you it doesn’t. Back in the day, opening links in new windows was frowned upon because it was hard for users to manage. Now, opening external links is simpler with the use of browser tabs. This technique salvages user experience and your hard earned website traffic.

Retain Your Readers

Allowing external links to open in the same tab pushes website traffic away. While your audience appreciates related links in your post, neglecting to have the external link open in a new tab can mean your reader may never return.

When it comes to small businesses trying to gain the most visibility online, they can use all the website traffic they can get. A minor detail like ensuring external links open in new tabs can certainly help.

Keep it Simple

When it comes to website optimization, reducing the number of clicks it takes for your user to take action is a huge priority. If you have external links opening in the same tab it adds to the number of clicks required for the visitor to return and take action.

Similarly, keeping all links in the same tab can create unwanted back-button fatigue. Having external links on the same browser tab creates unnecessary work for users as they have to press the back button multiple times to get to their original spot.

Reward Yourself

If you’re worried about cluttering a user’s browser, make sure you distinguish your plan of action for both external and internal links. Have external links open in new tabs and internal links remain in the same tab. A balance of both techniques will appease users and benefit your business.

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2 Comments

  1. Kyle Clouse says

    This is so key. It’s a small thing but I’ve been on many sites where external links open in the same browser. This also reduces bounce rates. Thanks for sharing this post.

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