Why Online Stores switched e-commerce platforms

Why Online Stores switched e-commerce platforms
It wanted flexibility and room to grow, says CEO Kevin Hickey about his company’s move from the Yahoo Stores e-commerce platform to eBay Inc.’s Magento Enterprise platform. The move also helped drastically reduce overhead.
Amy Dusto

Associate Editor

Topics: e-commerce platforms, e-commerce technology, Kevin Hickey, Magento Enterprise, Online Stores, Second 500, Top 500
Lead Photo

Online Stores Inc. grew up on Yahoo Inc.’s Yahoo Stores e-commerce platform.

But about two years ago, the operator seven specialty web stores, which booked roughly $30 million in web sales in 2012, decided that it needed it needed more feature-rich software and more control over it, says CEO Kevin Hickey. “What’s important for us is efficiency and being able to customize things,” he says.

Online Stores Inc. went with eBay Inc.’s Magento platform. Magento’s software is open source, meaning that retailers can customize it to their needs while also choosing from 7,300 add-ons built for Magento by developers around the world.

“It seemed to have pretty much every feature we wanted and we liked being able to extend the functionality of the product ourselves by using the open-source architecture,” Hickey says. “Magento also had the fastest trajectory for enhancements.”

Cookie cutter is out for mid-tier online retailers—a category e-commerce consulting firm FitForCommerce defines as web retailers generating $20 million to $75 million in annual online sales. To compete with the likes of Amazon.com Inc., those smaller retailers need to offer web site features that will keep shoppers coming back. While more than a third of mid-market retailers still rely on their own personnel to provide that level of customization, others are turning to the growing number of software vendors offering feature-rich e-commerce platforms at increasingly affordable prices.

“Midmarket retailers desire all the functionality that the larger markets want, but they want it faster, simpler and cheaper,” FitForCommerce senior consultant Kerry Martin says. “While this is a challenge for some providers to deliver, it certainly tends to differentiate the providers who are accurately targeting and supporting the midmarket retailer.”

Of the 251 e-retailers with 2012 online sales in the range of $20 million to $75 million, according to the 2013 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, 94 rely on in-house staff to build and maintain their e-commerce platforms, the software that typically handles such tasks as managing product descriptions and prices, processing orders and handling payments. The remaining 157 retailers use technology from 41 providers.

Online Stores is already seeing payoffs from its move to the Magento Enterprise edition software, which it runs on its own servers.

Magento Enterprise starts at $15,500 to license annually, according to the vendor. Since completing the switch to Magento in September, Hickey says Online Stores has reduced its headcount from about 130 to 80, in turn reducing overhead costs by 30-40%. With Magento able to provide live inventory updates and automate customer service e-mails and drop shipping, the office staff was able to downsize from 30 to 15 people. Another 15 people were cut from the web site maintenance staff, because the work to manage products across all seven of the retailer’s sites dropped by 75% with Magento, Hickey says, though he did hire four full-time developers to work on the platform in-house. The rest of the staff cuts were in the warehouse, unrelated to the platform.

To learn much more about how mid-sized e-retailers are weighing their e-commerce platform options, read the upcoming January issue of Internet Retailer magazine or subscribe.

Top 10 Trends in Mobile Across Paid, Owned, Earned Media

The expansive growth of mobile traffic in 2013 has led to some major changes and opportunities in the mobile marketing space. With mobile showing no signs of slowing, here are the 10 trends to watch across paid, owned, and earned media.
Macro Trends
1. Content + Context

In mobile there was a big focus on creating and serving content that was appropriate given a user’s context. Context in mobile includes, time of day, location, device, keyword, or site. This can include responsive design, click-to-call, or many other tactics.

The key is to understand and consider that even if a user is searching for “running shoes” they may react differently to that same keyword search at 6 p.m. near your store as opposed to 9 p.m. at home on their couch.
2. Google Now

Google Now iPhone iPad

The power of Google Now as a movement toward predicting a user’s needs, rather than reacting to them, is a big shift in 2013. Google Now will show you the time it takes to get to work without inputting the address, or pull flight information for scheduled events in your calendar. A key advancement in how we interact with our devices.
Paid
3. AdWords Enhanced Campaigns

AdWords enhanced campaigns removed the ability to target mobile campaigns separately and rolled together tablet and desktop. While this Google-forced change caused a lot of ruckus as it was announced, it has since become better understood. CPCs initially went up as much as 33 percent for our clients’ accounts, but most have since normalized.

Overall, the change brought together a better focus for PPC managers around the customer’s user experience and is now a positive part of search manager’s daily lives.
4. Twitter’s Lead Gen Cards

twitter-lead-gen-card

Twitter took a lot of steps in 2013 as they took the company public this year. One of the biggest steps was the addition of Lead Generation Cards. The ability to grab e-mail addresses and sign up users for loyalty programs enabled Twitter to have a stronger tie to business metrics beyond their typical ad formats engagement rates.
5. Instagram Ads

Ben and Jerry’s Scotchy Scotch Scotch Ad

In 2013 many properties started to upgrade or create their monetization strategy. Instagram was a lightning rod for ads being inserted in traditionally ad free spaces.

Michael Kors was the first up in this space. His ad saw a 370 percent increase in likes vs. what he normally receives. Lexus got 10,000 new followers in one day vs. the 200 it normally sees.

Expect to see more traditionally ad free apps insert ads in the coming year as revenue pressure comes from the market’s high valuation of these companies. We think this can be a good thing, but advertisers should continue to understand their audience before jumping into the fray. Is the ad space right for your audience and your business objectives (i.e., you aren’t just driving likes for the sake of driving likes).
Owned Media
6. Email Personalization

Dropbox Email

Companies in 2013 took big steps toward better tying their customer data to personalized email content. You see more and more examples of brands understanding their customers’ triggers and what they want to see to help them create stronger relationships with the brand.
7. Responsive Design

The ability to develop one page that renders correctly, regardless of device, is becoming the norm. This is key for not only the user experience, but also it is Google’s preferred method as it relates to organic search rankings.
Earned Media
8. Twitter’s Visual Tweets

Pearl Jam Tweet

This update to include sections of images in tweets automatically was important. It provides users with deeper engagement levels and brands an opportunity to communicate with their followers visually.

A tweet has 140 characters and a picture is worth a 1,000 words. A big character increase, right?

This move also opens up Twitter to more traditional “display” advertising opportunities that I expect to come in 2014.
9. Instagram and Vine Videos

Late last year Twitter bought Vine and rolled it into their platform, later Instagram also included a video feature although slightly longer in format (15 sec vs. 6). This short form video format requires brands to think outside of cutting up their TV ads for digital, but instead create new digital assets that fit the format exactly.
10. ‘Newsrooms’

The biggest digital story in 2013 in my opinion was early in the year during the Super Bowl blackout. Oreo, Tide, Walgreens, Audi, and others jumped in to create real time reactions in social spaces.

This changed the way clients think about events and response times from customer service to marketing. This trend carried all year long and even included brands playfully interacting with each other, such as Oreo and Xbox.

Oreo Xbox Tweet Can we play
Summary

The bigger mobile becomes in all of our lives, the more innovation that will occur. Better devices, retail brands’ ability to react to mobile payments, Apple’s iBeacon, and other developments will continue to make mobile a key place to focus for marketers across paid, owned, and earned media.

Reduce Bounce Rate: 20 Things to Consider

Bounce rate is one of those quality metrics that gets tossed around a lot in the search engine space. People are almost always talking about absolutes in terms of “this is how XYZ will reduce your bounce rate,” and so on.

I don’t subscribe to this school of thought; bounce rates need to be looked at subjectively.

While there are some general best practices, for the most part certain activities prescribed as absolute can both hurt and help websites.

Hence the title of this post. I don’t want to stand on my bounce rate soapbox and preach to you that everything in this post is going to help you, so I’m approaching this from a more realistic standpoint; the items on this list are worth thinking about, and probably trying – but this isn’t some magic wand from the land of unicorns and bounce rates under 5 percent.

A high bounce rate can be indicative of a number of things but usually falls into one of two categories:

You’re acquiring the wrong kind of traffic to your page(s), or
You’re acquiring exactly the right kind of traffic to your page(s).

Did number 2 throw you for a loop? Most people forget about the second scenario, since most websites tend to fall victim to the first.

But think about this for a second: if a user comes into your site and finds exactly what they were looking for; an answer to their question or solution to their problem, why should they stay a moment longer or look around on other pages?

Websites that are excellent at solving information problems quickly often have high bounce rates, for example here is a website that is designed to rank for question queries, offering specific and succinct answers:

bounce-rate-71-percent

Users come in, get the answers they need, and leave; but come back often.
On the Flipside

You have websites where it is critical to get your visitors to stick. You want them to spend time clicking around the site, perusing content, and build toward a conversion.

In these instances high bounce rates are a conversion killer, and anything you can do to increase the time on site and number of pageviews will most likely directly correlate to your site’s success and your bottom line.

Before we can approach improving something, it is important to make sure you have a firm grasp on what it is.

Bounce rate is often confused with exit rate, and the difference is important; bounce rate is a measure of people who bounced off a single page (i.e., they did not visit any other pages within your website), whereas exit rate is simply a measure of the percentage of visitors who left your site from that page.
Why It’s Important to Reduce Your Bounce Rate

Reducing the bounce rate on pages that have the highest volume of traffic from your highest converting sources means more engaged visitors and a greater chance of conversion.

What follows is a list of 20 considerations for reducing your bounce rate. These are by no means absolutes and are relative to everyone’s unique value propositions and audience, but generally speaking, these are worth thinking about.
1. You Should Probably Avoid Pop-ups

Pop-up ads annoy people. In some rare cases they offer something worth the roadblock, but usually they disrupt the user experience.
2. Use Intuitive Navigation for Important Items

Don’t make your visitors feel dumb (or think you’re dumb) for not providing them with clear and obvious paths to get the content they may be looking for.

The most common reaction to not being able to find something that should be obvious is frustration – and if you’ve ever been on a web page where you can’t figure out how or where to navigate, this is exactly how you feel.

Heatmaps are a great way to gain visibility into where user’s might be trying to click, giving you insight into what should be clickable. A great tool for this is Crazy Egg.
3. Poor Design is Increasingly Less Tolerable

I’m not just talking about gradients and drop shadows; design now transcends the whole user experience. Your content needs to be attractive; both in terms of graphical treatments and readability.

Design for your target audience, which may not necessarily be the audience you already have, or at least not the majority of it. Design has become a legitimacy signal and the lack thereof can directly impact visitors (and prospects) perceptions of the quality of your business and services.
4. Speed

This pretty much goes without saying these days but nothing really effects bounce rate like having a web page that takes 10 seconds to load.

Not only is this a confirmed ranking factor and lends directly to user experience, but it can cause your follower reach to stall, negatively impact your search rankings, and destroy your conversion rate.
5. Is Your Website Mobile Usable

I realize that is far from proper English, but I feel it makes my point. Being mobile friendly is ideal, but being mobile usable is critical.

Websites can still be effective as long as content can be accessed and used from a mobile device or tablet.

Furthermore, mobile usability does not necessarily mean from a design compatibility and accessibility standpoint, in many cases it means is the language on your site simple and clear enough that people on the go (on mobile devices) can still make sense of what they need to do to find information and at the very least contact you if necessary.
6. Design Information Around Priorities

This comes back to the last consideration, are your target conversion or content points clearly presented on your pages? Can users immediately get a sense of what they should expect to find or are expected to do while on the page?

Websites tends to have two paths to conversion:

Landing pages (short direct sales path)
A conversion funnel (longer process of qualifying visitors through a collection of pages that drive toward conversion)

Are you effectively managing the expectations of your visitors? A good litmus test for this is if you are able to trigger your primary page conversions more than 20 percent of the time.
7. Segment Information

This is another perspective on creating content that is designed to be digested and consumed. Readability is important here but so is the idea of grouping content into segments or categories – this is most often seen in blog posts where header tags are used to break apart large walls of text.
8. Optimize For Intent

This is a more detailed take on information design, and ensuring that based on the keywords your visitors are using to get to your pages, you are serving them an experience that address their expectations.

This is often talked about in paid search and display advertising, where the highest bounce rates are created from advertisers not closing the loop between the ad copy and the landing page copy and design. The experience needs to be consistent from start to finish or you risk breaking the user’s intent loop.
9. Be Mindful of Ad Placement

This is still a bit of a new idea (especially to advertisers) but if possible avoid the standard ad units. Not only have web users developed ad blindness but Google has also started penalizing pages that have too many ad units above the fold, and hint: they are looking for standard ad unit sizes.

Furthermore, from a publisher perspective, I can understand it’s great to squeeze an extra handful of impressions in per pageview, but if you look at some of the high performing niche ad networks, you will notice there publisher websites have a general lack of intrusive ads.
10. Lazy Load Third Party Content

Lazy loading, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a design pattern process for deferring the loading of objects until they are needed. Mashable is a fantastic example of this in action, notice how their pages load almost instantly and then new content is loaded as it is needed (as your scroll position advances toward those pixels).

This is done both for speed and user experience, and can be specified programmatically on a component by component basis.
11. Color Contrast

Readers need contrast. Contrast between colors can make a dull story into an exciting one and conversely can turn the most exciting content in the world into a palette of indiscernible whites and grays if not given proper consideration.

Contrast is important to consider as the web moves faster towards different mediums of content, with more and more happening on the pages, it is important to use colors and patterns to draw your reader’s eyes toward the important parts of the page.
12. Messaging is Blatantly Obvious

This is another consideration when it comes to focus and attention. Remember you only have a few seconds to translate value to a new visitor, so don’t make them guess.

Taglines are a great way to quickly translate purpose, but if you don’t have one another simple way is to place your site’s purpose in plain text in an obvious place (like the header or the top of the sidebar). If you sell something, say that.
13. Cut Out Distractions

I wish I could say this goes without saying, but I still run into website on a weekly basis that autoplay audio and video. These are distractions and intrusions that aren’t expected and break the experience.

Cutting out distractions not only leads to better bounce rates, but usually dramatically increases your conversion rates.
14. Offer Related Content Based on Personas

If you don’t offer related content on your pages, or intuitive navigation (hopefully with some sort of hook or teaser) then you’re missing out on a substantial number of pageviews and the opportunity to be more of a sticky resource.

Related content gets really powerful when you’re able to target it within the same categories or tags, as these segments of content tend to be attractive to visitors who make it through related posts in the same content stack.
15. Leverage Internal Search

If you don’t currently offer search functionality on your website or if you don’t regularly review internal search analytics, then you’re missing the boat. Web users have become so used to search that it is an easy behavioral pattern to accommodate and leverage for improved experience.

To take this a step further, you can use newer tools for crowdsourced FAQs to literally create a content roadmap for what matters most to your audience.
16. Open External Links in New Windows

This is an incredibly simple concept that is still often overlooked, but if you’re going to link out to a resource on your website, make sure you have it open a new window instead of redirecting the user off your site.

The best (and easiest way) to do this is to simply add target=”_blank” into the link’s tag. So for example; anchor text.
17. Prominently Display Your Search Box

This is a separate consideration from leverage internal search that has more to do with number 2 on this list; if you are going to offer helpful functionality like site search on your website, don’t make users have to search for your search box.
18. Offer a Helpful 404 Page

Nobody likes to think of instances where their website or pages may greet users with a 404 page, but these things happen.

The best thing you can do to turn a negative experience into a potentially positive one is a few things:

Use Google’s suggestive snippet for creating useful 404 pages. Visit the “Enhance 404 pages” section in Google Webmaster Tools, which allows you to generate a JavaScript snippet.
Add a search box and a link to the homepage
If nothing else, add a bit of design and humor.

19. Keep it Readable

This isn’t a duplicate of number 3. In this consideration I’m talking specifically about your page’s Flesch-Kincaid score, or the level of difficulty for comprehension of your content.

There are two tests used to determine both the ease of reading and the average grade-level required for comprehension. Both of which have been baked into a very helpful index calculator.
20. Split Up Long Posts

People have shorter attention spans than ever before. So when they see long posts they are immediately reminded of times in high school trudging through massive texts of traditional English literature.

Consider instead splitting these up either into separate posts in a series or adding pagination to break up the content into smaller and more digestible chunks. This New York Times piece does a fantastic job (with an absolutely incredible story) of consolidating their story into chapters and breaking up a substantial and engaging experience across several views and interactions.

How to Dominate the Entire First Page of Google

Your online reputation can impact virtually every aspect of your digital marketing program from the conversion rate on your pages to your click-through rate in paid search. Controlling the conversation around your brand is critical to upholding and improving reputation.

In the long-term, monitoring social activity and proactively combating sources of negative sentiment while engaging the positive is a core strategy.

While long term strategies are great, board members and C-suite executives aren’t known for their patience, especially when it comes to the online perception of their brand.

So what can savvy digital marketers do in the short term? Dominate the entire first page of Google for brand related search queries.

Dominating the first page of Google requires an understanding of the various data types Google displays and how to take advantage. Let’s look at how you can monopolize all brand real estate on the first page of Google.
Paid Search

While it seems obvious to buy your brand terms in paid search to acquire more real estate, many additional tactics exist to maximize this space. The following are ad extensions available in Google that increase the depth of your brand listing:

Location extensions
Call extensions
Offer extensions
Sitelinks extensions
Product extensions
Social extensions
Dynamic search ad extensions
App extensions

Keep in mind that you can combine multiple extensions to take up the majority of the premium ad space. Below are two big box home improvement retailers that are capitalizing on some of these extensions. Note how the Home Depot is utilizing sitelinks and how much additional real estate they gain. Also keep in mind that both retailers could be combining more extensions from the above list.

Home Depot Google SERP

lowes-google-serp
Google+

Brands that have verified Google+ accounts can capture side rail real estate for brand terms by utilizing rel=”publisher”. This works similarly to authorship but is tied to Google+ pages as opposed to individual accounts. The result is a rather large piece of real estate that includes your follower count and a link with image to your latest post.

For more information on how to set up your publisher profile, check out this Google+ starter guide.

SEW Google SERP
Google Images

Optimizing key images on your site such as your logos is another great way to take up potential search engine results page (SERP) real estate. Image search has the potential to drive more incremental visits than you might expect.

In order to optimize your logo for your brand term make sure to include your brand in the image file name, URL where the image is hosted, alt attribute, and title of the image.
YouTube & Other Video

In an effort for Google to continually promote their own properties, videos from YouTube are becoming more prevalent for a variety of different search queries, including brand terms.

Having branded YouTube videos is a great way to own your brand terms. In order to take advantage you need to have at least one video hosted on YouTube. Ideally you have a branded channel, however, this isn’t necessary.

In order to rank higher for your brand, make sure your brand is included in your YouTube username, the name of the video, and in the meta tags of the video. There are many more advanced tactics necessary to rank YouTube videos in Google SERPs, but for brand terms, the above should be enough.

If you want an extra boost, try to solicit comments and votes on you video. Embedding videos on other sites and Google+ 1’s for your video will also help.

Finally, if you have a branded YouTube channel, link to it from your site in the footer.
Google+ Local

Local presents another great opportunity to occupy additional brand real estate. Make sure you have a verified business listing and your feed is optimized.

If you have multiple locations, it’s important to have Google+ location pages link to the corresponding local landing page on your site. This will result in Google merging your SEO landing page and your Google+ local page in the SERPs.

Even if you don’t have multiple locations, you can still take up right rail real estate as seen below.

RMI Google SERP
Google Shopping Ads – PLAs

Product listing ads hit the scene late in Q4 of last year, generating impressive results thus far due to low CPCs and competition.

PLAs are another great way to take up brand real estate for an ecommerce business that sells its own branded merchandise, for example. While this ad type rarely shows in the SERPs for brand terms today, it’s extremely likely that it will in the near future.
News

Regularly syndicating press releases can increase your brand real estate if universal news results are showing. While you can’t directly control if these listings display in the SERPs, having a press release calendar will put you in a position to take advantage if and when they do.
Organic Search

Last but not least is organic search. Obviously you are going to rank for your brand terms, so what can you do in addition?

For your brand domain, head over to Google Webmaster Tools and audit your current site links. While you can’t specify which organic site links will display, you can choose not to serve individual pages.

The most difficult part of owning your brand terms on the first page of Google is getting other domains outside of your official site to rank organically.

The following properties have the highest likelihood of showing up for brand terms: Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Make sure you have branded accounts and pages on all of these sites.

For the social properties, increased volumes of activity will increase your rankings. Linking from your main site to you social properties with followed links also greatly increases the visibility of these properties on the SERPs.

Finally, any links that you build to these properties will help tremendously. An easy way to accomplish this is through press releases. Add a link to one of your social accounts in the boiler plate of the release. You can also include links from your Wikipedia page to your social profiles.
Conclusion

Owning brand conversation in the digital landscape is critical to converting customers from all marketing channels. Dominating the first page of Google for your brand terms is the first of many steps to achieving this. In recent months, Google has made this task even easier, by reducing the number of organic results for brand terms to only 7.

Taking advantage of the above tactics will help you engage more customers, convert more customers, and build your online reputation.

top 10 SEO resolutions for your 2014 success!

1. Drink Less SEO Kool-Aid

In the SEO world, there’s a fire hose of information. It’s easy to drink the Kool-Aid of popular industry experts.

Although there are some folks who are worthy of quoting and following, I’d lay off the hard-liquor-high until you’ve actually tested “expert” recommendations and seen the results for yourself.

It’s easy to get intoxicated with the SEO practice du jour, but it’s sobering when you’re trying to justify a bad outcome to a client by saying, “but [enter SEO expert name here] said it worked for [enter big brand website name here].”
Eat Healthy SEO Fare2. Eat Healthy SEO Fare

The Internet is fueled by great content, and the healthiest of content is unique, valuable, authoritative, and share-worthy.

Google’s Matt Cutts said recently that 25-30 percent of the content on the web is duplicate. Although that might make you feel a little peckish for some long form articles, you need to focus on the best in healthy snacks; link-inspiring user-generated content, educating prose, expert opinion, multimedia munches and share-demanding content desserts.
Get a Better SEO Education3. Get a Better SEO Education

With great resources like Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, Moz, and Google themselves, there’s no reason not to better educate yourself as to the trends and updates in the SEO industry.

Set up an RSS feed of your favorite resources and spend the first 15 minutes of the day reviewing, interacting, asking questions, and learning a little more about the constantly evolving landscape of search, social, display and paid search.

The future is cross-channel attribution, and learning more about more is a sure way to stay on the cutting edge and in demand.
Get Your Site Fit Lose Excess Code Weight4. Get Your Site Fit, Lose Excess Code Weight

2014 is sure to (finally) be the year of mobile, right after the year of mobile that was 2013. And if your business relies on localized, mobilized, and focalized customers, then a mobile optimized site is a necessity!

To get your site fit, focused, slimmed down, and ready for a mobile push, get implementing responsive web design, a specialized mobile site, or app based experience. Whichever you chose (and Google recommends in most cases a well-engineered responsive site), make certain to trim excess code, optimize images, squeeze scripts, and lighten server loads to deliver the best (and fastest) mobile experience you can.
Manage SEO Stress5. Manage SEO Stress

As SEO professionals, I’m not sure we’re ever not stressed with Google updates, client requests, deadlines, and migrations where redirects were “overlooked” by tech teams, but that leads to the best stress management recommendations: stress testing every recommendation and implementation! Twice. At least.

SEO isn’t an exact science, but it is something that requires technical savvy, sophistication, and strategy to ensure alignment with search visibility goals.

The best way to manage technology stress is to test, test, and keep testing, everything from user site engagement, to site usability, to server stress tests, to guarantee an optimal onsite experience.

Managing stress is easy… you just have to plan to do everything perfect.
6. Give Up Bad Habits

Everyone has vices, easy “go-tos” when the going gets tough; the link schemes, overseas outsourced content, or short cuts for short-term gains. Now’s the time to resolve to “never puff again” by implementing long-term strategies via sustainable tactics to ensure online success.

Go cold turkey and you’ll find the world of fresh thinking (and fresh air) opens up, and you can return to the fundamentals of:

Understanding the customer’s journey.
Creating content that connects with individual intent.
Leveraging engagement to drive loyalty, visibility and discoverability.

Give up the bad habits, and adopt a fresher, longer-term outlook!
Reduce Reuse Recycle7. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The popular resolution to “reduce, reuse, and recycle” might very well be made for eco-friendly reasons, but applies equally well to your website content strategy.

Panda bought us thin content awareness, and recent messages in Google Webmaster Tools underscore the need to reduce or remove content that isn’t user-focused, user-useful or share-worthy.

As for reusing and recycling, for content that connects with core intent (and context), your focus should be on intelligent repurposing of content copy, content elements, content themes and content ideas, to create unique and aligned articles, rejiggered for different platforms, mediums, formats and audiences.

No piece of written content is an island. If you aren’t promoting worthy content in the most appropriate formats across your social channels, then 2014 may not be your year!
Save SEO Money8. Save SEO Money

Many folks look to the New Year as a time to be frugal, put some cash away for a rainy day, and generally be more careful where they spend.

The goal for SEO professionals isn’t to save money. Rather, it’s to leverage data, metrics that matter, and broad analytics to spend smarter and/or justify budgets and efforts.

Although the initial outcome may be more less money in the bank, investing in data-informed areas of opportunity will almost definitely pay off in the long term, through additional revenue, valuable insights and happier customers.
Take a Trip9. Take a Trip to an Industry Conference

I can’t put a value on the information, networking or camaraderie I’ve experienced through some of the great industry events I’ve attended (including SES conferences!) It’s one of the easiest ROIs in SEO to return from 2 or 3 days of intensive learning and impart the knowledge gained to work colleagues and your boss.

Taking a little trip doesn’t have to be expensive either. With conferences that offer East and West Coast venues (and everything in between), inexpensive airfares when you book in advance, and advanced conference ticket deals, you’ll find the value of taking a learning trip gives you the tips, knowledge, and tools to help both your site or your clients sites succeed.
Help Other SEO Folks10. Help Other SEO Folks

It’s simple. Give back!

For those starting out in search, you have a unique perspective and valuable insights in the questions you ask. For those seasoned folks, it’s important to realize that your experience has value to the industry as a whole.

Some of the best information I’ve learned has been from both these groups, beginners asking hard questions, and SEO pros sharing a trick I hadn’t thought of. In a season of giving, write a blog post, conduct a webinar, share some survey results, or take an SEO newbie under your wing to share the wealth of knowledge!