Successful permission marketing using the example of push notifications

With permission marketing, the users addressed decide that they want to receive company messages. The channel plays an important role here, and push notifications are a new option here.

Smartphone chat notifications concept

Introduction

Messenger WhatsApp or services such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have fundamentally changed communication: Smaller “communication snacks” are in demand, but with a higher frequency. Everyone is also struggling for attention on this virtual stage.

This also increases the demands on marketing communication: it should appeal, inspire, inspire, involve, and establish an emotional connection. Above all, it’sits about increasing customer loyalty. In my view, permission marketing is an excellent tool for this.

What is permission marketing?

In principle, permission marketing is an old hat, which marketing guru Seth Godin already shaped in 1999. He was already guaranteed that traditional forms of marketing, such as TV advertising, i.e., invasive or disruptive marketing, would lose effectiveness because consumers want more control over the information they consume.

Consumers want to decide for themselves from whom and via which channels they receive content. According to Godin, the company must “earn” accordingly to get in touch with the customer. And: there must be the possibility to be able to “unlatch” again at any time. In this way, consumers received valuable news for them, making them feel connected to the company. 

“Permission-based marketing is the privilege (not the right) to send expected, personal, and relevant advertising to people who want to receive it.” ” –  Seth Godin

Permission marketing recognizes the new power of consumers to ignore marketing. At the same time, it includes the idea that respectful treatment is the best way to attract attention. Because “real” permission differs fundamentally from the implicit or behavioral agreement, as is typical but illegal practice with cookie consent. 

This is not the only reason why permission marketing is back in fashion. The most significant advantage that permission marketing has over traditional forms of marketing is the higher engagement rate. After all, a permission marketing campaign is about maintaining a long-term relationship based on trust. It is not aimed at achieving immediate results, but rather at winning regular customers and strengthening brand loyalty.

Permission marketing is not aimed at achieving immediate results, but rather at winning regular customers and strengthening brand loyalty.

The newer permission marketing channels, therefore, combine the style of private exchange with professional marketing communication. This opens up the chance of a more intense bond between customers and prospects through more conventional and modern approaches. Every marketing professional knows that interested people can be more easily moved to specific actions. Because the engagement is high, the conversion rates in permission marketing are higher than in other forms of marketing.

Additional advantages:

  • Increase in success: With permission marketing, companies reach those who expressly request it. This automatically increases engagement and conversion rates.
  • Strong customer loyalty: With permission marketing, companies can advance their content distribution and bring users back to their website. 
  • Legal certainty: With consent, many data protection problems no longer play a role. 

Permission marketing through push notifications

Permission marketing is often equated with newsletter marketing. Email and SMS marketing is still thriving but complex to implement and not always the best choice. In my view, push notifications as a contemporary form of in-app messaging have great potential.

There are four types:

  • Web push: On a website, visitors can agree to receive messages. If this is the case, you will then receive news directly on your (lock) screen. Clicking on the word takes you to the target page.
  • App push: For many notifications from apps, a connection via API to back-end systems makes sense. For example, information about travel bookings and the like can be sent. Also, any actions in the apps or more extended inactivity can trigger such notifications.
  • Messenger push: WhatsApp uses 58 million Germans every day. Unfortunately, the messenger can hardly be used for advertising marketing communication. Therefore WhatsApp Notifications are only interesting for 1: 1 interaction and targeted messages such as reservation confirmations or appointment reminders. The same applies in principle to Facebook Messenger. 
  • Wallet Push: With Wallet Push, the website invites iOS visitors to add a “News Card.” After adding the card, recipients can receive messages. At the same time, the wallet card can be updated with offers, codes, and much more. It is also possible to add QR codes, loyalty functions, or geo-fencing. It is reasonable and sensible to use wallet push and web push simultaneously on one website.

Special case wallet push

Wallet push is of particular importance for another reason: after all, iOS users cannot be reached via web push, but this group makes up around 20 percent of the mobile market. Depending on the website, the proportion of users can be significantly higher, for example, 30 to 40 percent.

Wallet Push also proves to be a valuable marketing tool in stationary retail. After all, retailers are finding it increasingly challenging to bring physical bonus cards to men or women. If this is done digitally, there are new advantages. For example, it is possible to have the messages appear automatically on the lock screen at a specific time or a specified location, change their appearance and content, and send push notifications. The wallet provider can trigger the update of the card and the associated messages.

These notifications are an ideal tool to keep customers up to date and provide them with targeted offers. They can also be used to remind you of appointments or to send personal messages.

Examples of a push notification on a laptop and a smartphone

Push communication: advantages for consumers and marketers

In general, more than 10% of all consumers now agree to push notifications – and the trend is rising. This is not the only reason why technology offers many advantages for marketers:

  • One-click is enough: In contrast to newsletters, customers do not have to enter personal data such as email addresses. A simple confirmation is enough. For this reason, the opt-in rate is particularly high. 
  • Immediate communication: Push messages are transmitted immediately and directly on the screen. This reduces the risk of going under and not paying attention. This results in high opening rates of 90 percent. In comparison, emails only reach 25 percent.
  • Traffic boost: Relevant push messages have the potential to increase the traffic of websites significantly. 
  • Budget-friendly: In contrast to ads, SMS, or messenger services, there are no costs for sending or clicking.
  • High conversion rate: Push messages to achieve click and response rates, just like the best times for email newsletters.
  • GDPR-compliant: Since no personal data flows, marketers do not have to worry about the General Data Protection Regulation. 

Best practices for setting up web push campaigns

Web push notifications can be created and sent quickly. However, they require a well-thought-out plan for maximum success, i.e., the highest possible recipient base and consent rate. The design and continuity of the appropriate shipping frequency are just as important as the relevance and attractiveness of the individual notifications. 

Planning should begin by considering which exact goals are being pursued with push notifications and how to push marketing should be integrated into the overall communication and content strategy. This includes an audit of existing and planned content from all other marketing channels such as newsletters and blogs. Do you already have a content production and marketing action plan? Then this should serve as the basis for promoting the content and actions contained therein with push notifications even more.

Whether B2B or B2C – numerous notification occasions and hangers can be found for every industry. Here are some ideas to take advantage of the full range of options for push notifications:

  • Notices of new content such as blog articles, white papers, videos, etc.
  • Invitations to participate in events such as online seminars or store openings
  • Product and assortment news: For software and cloud services information about new releases, eCommerce notifications about new, re-available, currently trendy articles or top sellers.
  • Promotion of special offers and discounts

Some event occasions for which notifications are available are apparent because they are directly related to the sender’s core business: the upcoming Mother’s Day for flowers or the impending onset of winter for tire dealers. However, with a little imagination and ingenuity, many other occasions are conceivable as hangers for notifications: from the birthday to the time change to the lunar eclipse. It is important to note that the event and information must always match the product or offer and its users.

The keys to successful push notifications

Subscribers can expect useful, relevant notifications such as educational tips, exciting news, or attractive deals. At the same time, the recipients want to be addressed emotionally. Different announcements that arouse curiosity are easy to grasp, refreshing to read or helpful, and scored particularly well. Also, Humor often comes good.

Here are more tips. 

  • Timing: The opt-in invitation should not appear immediately upon entry, but only after a short period (a few seconds later). An additional call via exit-intent shortly before leaving the website can be a successful strategy to keep in touch with users. Last but not least, the opt-in can also be linked to order, registration, or the like. In general, it makes sense to play out the opt-in dialog on as many pages as possible and to only do so on individual pages, such as the career section of your website.
  • Time: When addressing private individuals, Saturday and Sunday noon have proven to be particularly successful periods for sending messages. In the business environment, however, Tuesday to Thursday, early in the morning or in the evening, are more promising. It is recommended to test different days and times to find the ideal times for push messages.
  • Dialogue type: By default, the opt-in invitation is placed on the actual website. So the user can only continue surfing when he interacts with the element. Other overlay options for opt-ins are message bars that appear above or below the website and therefore do not cover the actual site and sliders that enter from one side. Opt-in triggers can also be integrated into the pages themselves as an element.
  • Optical design: Ideally, dialogues should be adapted to the look & feel of the website or your corporate design.
  • Textual design: There are two basic strategies for texting, which also affect the graphic options: either a more factual text that is very much based on standards of browser dialogs, or a deliberately more creative approach that comes across as high advertising. In general, however, the following applies: short and concise sentences with a clear call-to-action are preferable. It is also essential to highlight the advantages for users.
  • Incentivizing opt-ins: It is common in e-commerce for newsletters: visitors to the shops are offered a discount voucher when they register for the newsletter. Such an additional incentive for opt-in is also possible for web push notifications. 
  • Freedom of choice: It is also helpful to let the user “subscribe” to decide on which topics or occasions he would like to receive information and not only to accept this based on the tracked behavior. This is particularly important when there is a very complex bouquet of offers. 
  • Personalization: With permission marketing, companies address people who are interested in their products or services. It can, therefore, be assumed that the news is highly relevant. Personalized content that fits the current position within the customer journey or the person’s interests and preferences is particularly attractive. Personalization is particularly capable of increasing the utility value by sending offers and tips to match the items you are currently viewing or buying.
  • Variety: experimentation is required both in the design of opt-in invitations and in the news. The range is also needed for events and content. It’sIt’s not just about bargains, it’also sits about entertainment, a look behind the scenes and much more. 

Conclusion

Push notification marketing is the channel that creates a direct path to users. Used correctly, this form of permission marketing promises rapid integration, high conversion rates, and increased customer loyalty. It is essential to understand that segmenting subscribers and customers into different areas is vital nowadays due to different interests.

Those who know their target group, understand them, and send proper notifications to combine valuable content for the target group with their marketing messages—a win-win situation for companies and customers alike.

In France, the Covid app threatens to flop, in the UK it is a long time coming. The cases show: Without Apple and Google it will be difficult

London and Paris rely on their approaches to the Corona apps. Now France is struggling with low user numbers, and the British will get their app in the autumn at the earliest, if at all.

Within three weeks of the launch of the COVID app in France, it had downloaded around 1.8 million French. However, this corresponds to hardly more than 2.5 percent of the population. Cyril Marcilhacy / Bloomberg

The joy didn’t last long. On June 3, one day after France launched its StopCovid contact tracing app, the State Secretary for Digital, Cédric O, was satisfied. Six hundred thousand people installed the application on the first day, he explained on French television and spoke of a perfect start.

But disillusionment quickly returned to France. The figures that Cédric O presented last week are likely to be well below the government’s expectations: three weeks after the launch, only around 1.8 million French had downloaded and activated the app. That is hardly more than 2.5 percent of the population. In neighboring Germany, which launched its app in mid-June, more than 15 percent use it.

So far, the French app has only had limited results. Just 68 French people who tested positive for the coronavirus recorded their results in the first three weeks. Only 14 people who were close to the sick could be warned in this way. Particularly bitter: 460,000 French people have already deleted the app from their smartphone. The reasons for the low success can hardly be named with certainty. The now small Corona case numbers are likely to play a role. The particular route that France goes with its app, but also.

He was increasingly isolated in Europe.

Several European countries have developed apps in recent months to help track infection chains. The principle is mostly the same: the app uses the Bluetooth Low Energy transmission technology to store the encrypted ID of those devices that also use the application and come close to the smartphone for several minutes.

Most European countries are now adopting a decentralized approach: their apps only save as much data as possible locally on their respective devices. Only when someone has become infected and reports this will a few encrypted data be sent to a central server. The apps use an interface for measuring the distance and transferring the ID, which the technology groups Apple and Google, have developed. The unusual collaboration of the rivals is supposed to set standards and enable the applications to function correctly. But it is subject to certain conditions. The decentralized approach to data storage is one of them.

France, on the other hand, takes a different course and is therefore increasingly isolated in Europe. With the French app, more data comes together on a central server – the country does without the solution from Google and Apple. State Secretary Cédric O emphasized time and again that the decision was taken deliberately. It is essential to maintain the country’s sovereignty.

The French model has some disadvantages. On Apple devices, the application only works to a minimal extent without the interface. iPhone owners – who make up around 20 percent of smartphone users in France – should have the app open in the foreground so that it sends Bluetooth signals. However, the research institute Inria, under whose leadership the app was developed, seems to have found a way to counter the problem at least a little. The app becomes active on iPhones when another person approaches an Android phone and can then register the contact, representatives of the institute explained to French media. If two iPhone owners meet, and the app does not run in the foreground, the communication is not recorded.

Privacy concerns

Data protection concerns may also have contributed to the fact that many French people, who are fundamentally suspicious of the government, reject the app. Fifty-four percent were concerned about their data, according to a May survey. The central approach is also controversial at the European level. Some privacy advocates fear that too much information would be concentrated in one place, and misuse could not be ruled out. It is questionable whether the French would have trusted an app more with a decentralized approach. France’s data protection commission had given the application a generally positive testimony before it was launched.

However, a researcher at the Inria institute discovered in mid-June that “StopCovid,” when a user-declared himself ill, sent more data to the central server than the government claimed: This is not only the case for encounters in which cellphone owners over 15 minutes are less than a meter apart, and it is therefore assumed that there is a risk of infection. A meeting is transmitted even if it only lasts a few minutes, and the distance is more significant. Cédric O tried to resolve privacy concerns last week. He said he hadn’t noticed any privacy violations. In the future, a filter should limit the number of information transmitted.

If contrary to current signs, the French app is still thriving, another problem remains to be solved. Because of the central approach, it should not be easy to make StopCovid compatible with counterparts from other countries. But that is precisely what will be necessary so that it also works outside the French borders.

It is easier to measure distances by hand than with an app: Boris Johnson (l.) And Emmanuel Macron at a meeting at 10 Downing Street, June 2020. Imago

Great Britain is there without an app.

On the other side of the English Channel, Britain would be happy if it had problems with France. The launch of a British Corona app, initially announced for May, was delayed, but now it is entirely in the stars. The government no longer wants to state the exact time for the launch; it is hoped for autumn. This means the island has to monitor the coronavirus the old-fashioned way with phone calls and inspectors when the last significant loosening of the lockdown is due. From July 4, pubs, restaurants, and other entertainment venues may also reopen under certain conditions.

The number of deaths in the UK is among the highest in Europe. Just as London initially followed a unique path in the fight against the pandemic and delayed the lockdown until the end of March, the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson also wanted to find a solution of its own with the tracing app. As a centrally organized country with a central healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS), similar to France, user data should also be stored centrally. According to British experts, this would have made data analysis easier. Because this centric approach to data storage is not possible with the interface developed by Apple and Google, the UK relied on its development.

In-house development fails due to Apple cell phones.

This NHS app was tested in May on the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England – due to the island location, an excellent way to monitor the movement patterns of the population. It was found that Android smartphones registered mutual contacts in around 75 percent of the cases, but Apple smartphones, in the worst case, only 4 percent. The reason for the discrepancy is that the use of Bluetooth for apps on Apple phones is restricted if you do not use the interface developed by the companies.

This maladministration was the reason for Health Minister Matt Hancock to make a U-turn in mid-June. Great Britain will now develop the app based on the Apple-Google interface and thus say goodbye to the central storage of the contact data. The mutual recognition of smartphones works very well via Apple Google technology, as a parallel British test showed.

But there was another problem, and therefore a quick start of the new app is not to be expected: According to British data, the distance measurement between the smartphones works poorly. Based on the Apple-Google interface, it is impossible to tell whether a cell phone was at a distance of one or three meters from the other smartphone – an essential factor in deciding whether a user should quarantine prophylactically. According to Hancock, the distance measurement worked much better for the drawer-based in-house development. He didn’t say why. But because neither approach is reliable, none will be used for the foreseeable future.

Apple and Google fight back.

The British accusations leave Apple and Google as bogeymen. Google had announced that it only offered an interface, not a complete app – and implicitly handed the responsibility back to the British programmers. Unnamed sources from the Apple group complained in the newspaper “The Times” that the government had not previously raised the problems with the distance measurement. London’s announcement that it would cooperate closely with Apple would also have to be followed up in the future. Health Minister Hancock had previously said that he wanted to incorporate the well-functioning distance measurement of the failed in-house development into the work with Apple and thus deploy a hybrid model.

However, other countries that use apps with the decentralized approach and the interface of the two tech groups have fewer problems. The developers of the German Corona Warn app reported that their application was able to correctly determine 80 percent of the contacts – a counterexample that Prime Minister Johnson had to be kept in the lower house. In Switzerland, it is said that the distance measurements are not perfect, but one is satisfied and continues to work on improvements.

7 Linkbuilding Myths Debunked – A Beginner’s Guide to SEO Bridge Building

Anyone interested in search engine optimization (SEO) and wants his side in the search results is very far above, and sooner or later, the topic link building . Link building has almost 8 million effects in Google search. If you don’t feel like clicking through the mass of information and looking for an excellent introduction to link building, you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we want to explain understandably what link building is, why it is so important, which factors play a role and resolve seven widespread link building myths.

In a nutshell: what is link building? 

Link building, or link building, is assigned to the OffPage optimizations in search engine optimization (SEO). OnPage Optimization encompasses everything from content and structural Optimization to technical adjustments. OffPage Optimization, even if the name suggests otherwise, still has something to do with the website. But it’s about external factors and things that don’t happen on your website. 

The goal of link building is to get as many good backlinks as possible. With a backlink, another domain refers to your website using a link (strictly speaking, this is called the hyperlink ). In the figurative sense, a bridge is built from one domain to another for users and Google. The more backlinks you have, the more bridges there are, and so there are more ways to get to the website via different bridges. Users and Google find their way to your site more efficiently and more often.

Unfortunately, link building is not that short and sweet, but a very complex topic. Rightly one wonders what a good backlink is, how this form of SEO bridges comes about, and whether it is best to support the development actively. But that’s another story, and where we want to stick to the link building basics and the backlink myths circulating on the net. Lots of details about backlinks there is, for example, the SEO tool Sistrix. By the way: Because a Sistrix contribution has been linked here, a bridge has already been built, and Sistrix has received a new backlink.

Why do I need a link building? 

If you imagine that websites like small islands float in the sea of ​​the Internet and that backlinks like small bridges connect these islands, you already have a rough idea of ​​why link building is essential. 

WITH BACKLINKS FROM OTHER SITES, YOU CAN MAKE IT EASIER FOR USERS AND GOOGLE

When many bridges, from different islands, point towards your own, it is easier to find – both by users and by Google. Because both use links, both internal and external, to move through the Internet. It is much more challenging to reach a desert island because the connections are missing here. Once a few bridges have been built, the way to the island is much more comfortable. 

A small example: You are planning a vacation in a big city and read a blog post on how to spend your day in this city. A café is mentioned, linked, and makes a good impression. Click on it and land on the side of a cafe that you might not have found through Google search. Such a bridge looks like this in the HTML source code:

<a href=”https://www.cafeimurlaubsland.de”&gt; The best café in your holiday country </a>

The link, surrounded by anchor tag <a> […] </a>, contains the linked URL. This URL is the destination (hence the destination URL or link target ) that you will reach when you click on it. The link text (or anchor text ) is the text that you click, and that describes the link target.

Another factor why link building is so important is trust. Because if a page is often linked, Google can assume that it is also a desirable target. This page contains what it promises because the linked pages confirm this. Also, “good” sites tend to link to other “good” sites. The SEO Beginners Guide of MOZ explains this as follows:

“Through links, engines can analyze not only the popularity of websites and pages based on the number and popularity of pages linking to them, but also metrics like trust, spam, and authority. Trustworthy sites tend to link to other trusted sites, while spammy sites receive very few links from trusted sources. “

But that shouldn’t be overrated either, because backlinks are not the only and not the most critical factor that Google uses to rate a website. The evaluation of the sites, taking into account the incoming links, is used by Google as PageRank designated. This is an internal rating by Google, which cannot be viewed because the PageRank is no longer published publicly. 

The origin of the PageRank metric can be explained using the example of a scientific paper. If another article is cited in a renowned paper written by experts in this area, you can be sure that the paper cited is a good source. It is trustworthy and relevant. The more often an article is cited by excellent other documents, the stronger this impression is. Such a quote is comparable to a backlink. The more backlinks created from good sources, the more trustworthy and relevant the linked page is, and the higher the PageRank rated by Google.

Link Building Foundation – The Google Guidelines 

Now it is naturally tempting to collect as many links as possible simply. Until the penguin update from the Google algorithm, this was a widespread, but foul, tactic. The aim is not to use the much-help method, but rather to set up useful links. Useful links are also relevant to the user. What helps you with the travel preparation in the text section to the café a link to a casino in an entirely different country – absolutely nothing.

Overview of the guidelines 

The  Google guidelines for webmasters and the guidelines for link exchange programs When it comes to link building, they primarily deal with backlinks that influence the PageRank of your page. Simply put, these are backlinks from extreme sites. This restriction clarifies that these are guidelines and not general rules that are mandatory for every backlink. These guidelines can be summarized as follows:

  1. Do not participate in excessive link exchange programs. This works according to the motto link me; then I link you! Here, added value and the context of the backlink creation are missing.
  2. Do not buy or sell links that come from pages with higher PageRank for money, products, services, or in exchange for other relationships.
  3. Only link content that offers the user added value and also makes sense.
  4. Don’t overdo the keywords. Anyone who runs a café and links it in forums with ” Example name café Café sample city best café sample city” which exaggerates.
  5. Do not use misleading anchor texts.
  6. Use only visible links that everyone can find. For example, invisible links are white text on a white background or zero font size links.
  7. Do not use automated services that create links to your site. 

These guidelines have been drawn up by Google. In practice, many cases contradict these guidelines. For example, buying and selling links is often ordinary. Such a violation of the Google guidelines should always be treated with caution! 

In general: Naturalness wins. 

If you compare the following section with the rest of this article, you can see without content what naturalness does not look like in link building :

THIS EXAMPLE SUGGESTS DIRTY LINK BUILDING WITH NO CONTENT 

A strikingly large number of links is set for such a short section; the anchor texts are concise, the penultimate line doubles with a smaller version. There may also be a version of this line that is no longer recognizable. Of course, there are always exceptions. Nevertheless, be careful with everything that does not seem reasonable to you.

Opinions differ about good and bad backlinks. 

Several factors determine whether a backlink is valuable or not. At this point, it is slowly becoming difficult for SEO beginners because some elements have to be measured and analyzed with tools. The report of how many backlinks you got from other websites also requires a tool and contains different metrics. 

To put it simply, it can be said that the following factors play a role in a good backlink: 

  • The linking page can be found in the Google index – also in the Google search results. 1
  • The site is rated “good” by Google. 2nd
  • The linking page offers unique content and appears high quality. It does not consist of blank pages or copied texts. 
  • The linking part matches the link target and is therefore relevant. 3rd
  • With a vast number of links from one side, you should be skeptical.
  • The anchor text describes the linked page appropriately and appropriately. 
  • The linking page links, as best as possible, from the text and not from the footer, which has little to do with the high-quality content. 
  1. You can check whether a page is in the Google Index by entering “site: http://www.domainname.com&#8221; in the Google search. This will show you all indexed pages. 
  2. You can see that pages are rated “good” by Google because the page ranks high in the search results. Another indicator is high scores of metrics that measure the site (for example, the MOZ Domain Authority or Power * Trust from LRT).
  3. Useful links are links that are also relevant for the user. Here again, the holiday example comes into play: You are looking for a café in your holiday country and have found a website with travel tips. Describes this page in a section of restaurants and links to them, this is a relevant link. If cafes are described, and casinos are linked, this is not the case. The linked page should also match the content created. One should lead the reader to helpful other sites and not too unexpected goals. Critical to the relevance of a backlink: The website to which a backlink is created does not have to deal with the same topic as the website from which the link is made. The linked part should fit the place where the backlink was set. 

What hats have to do with it 

Anyone who deals with link building quickly comes across the terms White HatGray Hat, and Black Hat. This is where hats come in – does that have anything to do with SEO?

WHAT DO HATS HAVE TO DO WITH SEO AND BACKLINKS? SOME!

It did because these terms describe the method that SEOs use in the area of ​​search engine optimization. 

White Hat SEO complies with all the rules set by Google. Black hat SEO includes clear violations of Google’s guidelines. Gray hat SEO is between white and black hat – some guidelines are followed, there may be rule violations, and there are methods where it is not clear whether they comply with the rules. Gray-Hat tries to interpret the Google guidelines differently, creates more freedom of action, and is classified as borderline. 

What are the limits to link building? 

Google’s guidelines for quality in link building, which have already been mentioned in the section Link Building Basis – the Google guidelines, are the benchmark for the evaluation. While a white hat and black hat are recognizable methods, the gray hat is often borderline and difficult to assess. The methods used are not directly prohibited (otherwise, they would be classified as black hats) and are rarely warned or punished by Google. The plans are discussed a lot on the Internet, and it is often a subjective assessment whether a gray hat method is still acceptable or is going too far.

Two Gray Hat SEO Examples Briefly Discussed 

To illustrate the differences, two examples from the link building gray area follow :

  1. Optimize anchor texts too much for keywords  – Of course anchor texts should best describe the link target and help the user. It is not surprising that keywords appear in anchor texts for which a page is to be found on Google. But if you overdo it and fill anchor texts with keywords (or overfill them) and set a whole series of these links, you are in a gray area. You should pay attention to here: Do not always use the same anchor text and not link each keyword in a document. 
  2. Link yourself  – Those who comment on forums and answer questions also have the option of linking useful sources in their answers. That, of course, includes your website. In most cases, this is perfectly understandable and fine. But if you spread your website in a big way and write forum posts without useful content and instead with many links to your page in many forum posts, you are again approaching the gray area. However, if relevant information is passed on to users that contain a link to further content, this is not in the gray hat, but in the white hat area. 

Here is a simplified example: To the forum question, ” I am looking for a flower shop in Cologne that you can book for weddings ” in a local Cologne forum, the answer ” Nice cafés in your holiday country! ” With a link to http://www.cafeimurlaubsland.de is irrelevant. The answer ” You will find an overview of flower shops in Cologne with tips for planning weddings! ” With a link to http://www.blumenschmuck.de/hochzeit/dienstleistungen-köln, ” it is relevant and offers the valuable user information.

Of course, you are on the safe side with the white SEO hat and natural link building. This creates a backlink from a useful page with many users and provides valuable content to your page. It is thematically appropriate and helps to expand the content on the other website. Natural link building arises if both sides meet the perfect link building requirements and offer everyone involved the highest possible added value. John Mueller (Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google) answered the question of how to deal with link building

“In general, I’d try to avoid that, so that you’re sure that your content kind of stands on its own. And make it possible for other people too, of course, link to your content […]”.

With this, he emphasizes that in his view, natural link building is the best way, and active intervention should preferably be avoided. The answer to the question is in the video of the Google Live Hangouts to find just before the end.

7 Linkbuilding Myths Uncovered 

After all the basics and guidelines, things are finally getting serious: The link building myths are exposed! 

LINK BUILDING WORKS WITHOUT MYTHS AND MAGIC

Clicking through the topic of link building as an SEO beginner primarily means a mass of information. A few myths have set in overtime, which we would like to clarify here, quite simply. 

  1. Those who get links rank at the top 

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, because links alone do not ensure top positions in Google search. The Google algorithm takes into account far more factors, and backlinks are not the most important. Also, in almost all cases, you are not the only page with links. Competing sites with better relationships to do better in comparison. Nevertheless, backlinks are still relevant. 

2. Only links from top sites get me ahead. 

If you only follow excellent metrics in link building, you will miss out on a lot of opportunities because even pages that appear less well known can assign valuable backlinks.

Because:

  • Very new sites rarely have particularly useful values ​​because they are simply too “young” for them. Therefore, of course, they have no less potential.
  • Lesser known sites also have users. As long as the link is set meaningfully, every single user who comes to your page via a backlink is valuable.
  • Some pages deal with niche topics and are only relevant to Google in a particular topic area. If the linking page with your question fits your page well, this backlink has a high thematic relevance and is therefore very valuable. 

If you want to explain the connection between metrics and backlinks, you can find an explanation on backlinks from sites with a low domain authority at MOZ. So you don’t have to worry that pages with less ethical values ​​can damage your page through a backlink. Especially not with a single link. In certain situations, a high number of low-quality backlinks can be harmful.

3. Avoid links from directories. 

This myth holds up pretty well. The main thing here is that there are pages that only consist of an eternally long list of links. Since these links have no added value, the backlinks are also worthless. Excluding all directories, therefore, makes little sense. A contribution about the best cafes in holiday destination XY,  which lists and links all recommended cafes in a section, is a backlink with content and meaning.

Forums are also often understood as a directory and thus as a “bad” backlink. This is because forum backlinks are almost always “no follow” – more on that in the next point.

4. “Nofollow” must not be 

With the attribute “no follow,” you distance yourself from a backlink and tell Google that the link should not be followed. So there is a bridge, but Google doesn’t go over it. This is a good argument that these backlinks are not good, but only one way of looking at it. Because for users, these links are in no way “no follow” – the user does not notice the difference. Thus, “no follow” links can bring valuable traffic to your site.

5. By setting outgoing links, you lose “Linkjuice.” 

This is where the assumption that if you refer too much to other pages is distracting from yourself. It’s like giving your fame to others by linking to other sites. At this point, you often read that the so-called link juice thereby lost. Some SEO studies even show that creating backlinks is positive can impact.

6. An anchor text without keywords is not an anchor text. 

It is rumored that only links with a lot of keywords in the anchor text do anything. On the one hand, keyword-optimized anchor texts are against Google’s guidelines. On the other hand, the situation cannot be assessed across the board. An anchor text can, as Google expert Matt Cutts confirms, also use synonyms and paraphrases – a completely normal part of everyday language. Then the anchor text contains absolutely no keyword but is well designed for the user. Another factor here is the mixture of different anchor texts: If all anchor texts are only aimed at synonyms and not at your keyword, this can be a problem. If it’s only part of the backlinks, there’s nothing wrong with that.

7. Backlinks from pages that don’t seem relevant hurt me. 

Relevance is an essential factor for a good backlink, that cannot be denied. If you look at which pages link to your own, you shouldn’t prematurely judge backlinks from pages from other niches. Anyone who runs a café and a suitable website not only gets backlinks from the area of ​​food & drink. This could just as well be travel blogs or websites with nutritional tips if they match the menu. Topics such as furnishings or location can be addressed just as well, perhaps the building is historical, or the café is particularly child-friendly. Also, such a restaurant can be visited and recommended by a wide variety of people with a wide range of blogs. As long as the context is right, topic differences are not relevant.

The end of the SEO bridge 

The first SEO bridge would be built – with essential knowledge and without any myths. Link building is and remains a complex topic. Hopefully, this article could help you get started. 

Business storytelling: what you can learn from journalists

Those who use exciting stories are captivating. However, many people make big mistakes in storytelling: they tire instead of enthusiasm. In this text, you will find the essential storytelling rules taught at journalism schools – and you will learn how to apply them to your business. 

What is storytelling – and why are so many people doing it the wrong way?

Maybe you just got an email again from someone who told you a sad story long and wide to want to sell you a product – and then you see great guys everywhere in your Facebook timeline Carts that used to be miserable like the church mice (which they spread out in a long text to get you signed up for a free webinar).

Yes, that’s storytelling too.

But not particularly imaginative. 

Because this type of storytelling is now predictable, annoying in the long run and can even provoke rejection – for example, if heavy topics such as depression, suicidal thoughts, or cancer are used too obviously to sell.

Therefore, a first warning: Those who go too flat in business storytelling can be shipwrecked!

However, doing without storytelling is not a solution. Because it works! (If you do it cleverly)

But how do you do it, right? And what happens when we tell stories? 

3 Effects of storytelling – and how it benefits your business

Suddenly everyone is a listening room full of people, you report essential things, give tips and instructions, give numbers, make the urgency of the topic clear – and look into tired eyes. 

But then you start talking about your grandma who once said this one sentence to you …

And that affects: Suddenly the audience looks interested. 

Why? 

I’m not a brain researcher – but I have been told that listening to a story activates many more areas than listening to facts. Senses are activated, feelings are evoked. It’s like the listener is witnessing the situation! 

Also: if a story begins, we want to know how it ends. And that immediately increases attention.

Even if only one concrete example is mentioned and a real person tells it, we pay attention: Because examples are storytelling on a small scale.

Journalists also learn this very quickly during their training: 10,000 traffic fatalities hardly trigger emotions unlike Katharina, 35, who had to die because she couldn’t avoid a ghost driver in time. Her 3-year-old daughter was sitting in the back seat.

That makes us swallow. Sympathize. And it does more to us than any number, no matter how high it could be.

That is why journalists are looking for specific examples – individual fates. And that’s why you should also talk about people if you want to illustrate a topic.

(And here’s a little test: don’t you MUST now know if the little girl survived in the back seat? I bet you want. Because: see above.)

  1. You create closeness – and that promotes sales.

As soon as you start talking about yourself, people listen to you. Especially when you talk about depths, crises and problems.

This affects two types of storytelling in particular:

  • The cause-effect principle:
  •  This is about the vivid explanation of why something is as it is. 
  • I live healthier today, BECAUSE … 
  • I only advise offline, BECAUSE … 
  • I only go hiking barefoot, BECAUSE … 
  • Usually, this “because” has to do with a negative experience. And of course, we have to talk about that if we want to explain why we are doing something. If we do this in a descriptive and exemplary manner, we do 1A storytelling.
  • The hero journey:
  •  The storytelling known from Hollywood is always about
    • a hero
    • a problem
    • overcoming the problem 
    • the change of the hero
    • a message associated with it

Most of the stories (of you, of customers, of friends) can be squeezed into this pattern!

What happens in the other person’s head in both cases: he or she develops empathy. You build a connection. Closeness arises.

And once there is proximity, the decision to buy is easier. Storytelling is, therefore, a great sales vehicle.

Is that manipulation?

Oh well. The Duden defines manipulation as “an impenetrable, skillful procedure that gives someone an advantage, wins something they want”. And then, I found this definition: “Influencing decisions without the decision-maker being aware of it.”

Accordingly, any sale is manipulative. 

But of course, the manipulation can take on different dimensions. For me, it is negative if dramatic stories evoke empathy, if we sympathize infinitely, then buy an incredibly expensive product – such as high-priced coaching – but the closeness builds up abruptly with the purchase of the product. The coaching ends turned out to be access to calls with dozens of other customers.

Then I have only one word for it: fooling around.

2. People remember you better.

Have you ever been to a lecture where you wrote a lot? And did the lecturer tell a little story about himself or another person in the middle of all his facts?

I would bet: two weeks later, you had to look in your notes to recall the information – but you still had the story in your ears.

Our brain sorts stories in a different, more critical drawer than pure facts. We remember them longer because they made more of an impression. We felt something when we heard them. It makes a big difference.

So if you want people to take an essential thing from a lecture, workshop, or seminar, the best thing to do is wrap them up in a story. It doesn’t have to be Hollywood drama – sometimes it is enough to give an example of a real person.

That’s working!

Listeners are also more likely to tell other people about you – because you impressed them more sustainably: “The X, who recently said something similar, take a look at their website!” 

Ten situations where you can use storytelling

  1. On your website 

Your homepage (in detail) and you’re about me page are ideal for storytelling. But be careful: Nobody wants to see too much text! That means that you shouldn’t spread a long story on the homepage. 

However, if you can say “I’ve been in this situation before” or “I’ve overcome a problem that you as a website visitor may know,” tell us about it! 

Warning: Do not tell any stories “because I am supposed to do storytelling”, but focus on the experiences that have something to do with your website visitor. In which he empathizes and with which he can do something.

2. In social media

Platte advertising posts have not worked for a long time. Therefore, you should try to get closer to potential customers as a person. What do you experience, what does it do to you, what insights can you share with others?

And if it’s just anecdotes from your everyday life: stories get to know you better.

For example:

  •  An observation from your everyday life from which you have drawn a conclusion (which has something to do with the life/business of your followers)
  • Something that just happened to you that made you think
  • An encounter with a person that triggers an eye-opening effect from which you have learned something

You mustn’t merely describe an event, but connect a message to it! Then the element “hero has changed” is fulfilled (even if only in tiny details) – and storytelling becomes a story.

3. In blog posts and books 

Have you noticed how many times I’ve given small examples in this blog post? How many times have I described situations to you? That is already storytelling, if only on a small scale. 

We all learn best from examples. That is why American non-fiction books are teeming with descriptions of individual cases.

4. In emails 

Many have come to believe that storytelling should be used in newsletter marketing. This can be seen in countless emails with subject lines such as “I finally did it!” Or “That was the worst birthday of my life”. 

If that piles up, I have to admit that at some point, it gets annoying.

So I advise you about the right balance. I often tell little episodes in the newsletter – but I don’t write every subject line to cry out for storytelling. And I often focus purely on imparting knowledge. In this way, I avoid the appearance of fatigue (“Oh, now there is a storyline byline – and when does something come here that helps me … ???”).

Nevertheless: Please don’t refrain from telling stories in your newsletter from time to time! It is precisely these emails that give me the most feedback.

5. Live in front of the camera.

Do you sometimes make videos for your business? Then get started with a short story next time – immediately! Do without “Welcome …”, “Great, I’m living!” And other fuss. You will quickly have more attention – and more people will hear what you have to say afterward because they have stayed with it longer.

6. Talking to potential customers

 If you want to convince people of yourself or something, examples, and small, “I know that” stories will help immensely.

Sometimes it is enough to tell about another customer who has already achieved what your counterpart wants to achieve. Packed in a little story, it will make a more significant impression than any good argument!

7. On landing pages

I tell you about me on almost every landing page, because people buy from people. So if I advertise a freebie or would like to invite you to an event, I can prove by telling a short story: I am familiar with the topic!

If you too can briefly outline that you have done something that has to do with the topic – then do it!

8. For presentations

PowerPoints are all well and good – but the moment you deviate from them and just tell an anecdote on the side may be the best in the entire presentation. 

For every presentation, think about: What point can I substantiate with an example? What eye-opening effect can I bring my listeners to by telling a story?

That will make a lot more impressive than any string of facts. 

9. During press work

If you’ve looked around this page a little, you’ll see that I preach one thing repeatedly: offer your stories to the press! 

My customers keep seeing that that’s precisely what works – and suddenly journalists report back when you send them stories in their inbox:

  • Chocolate sommelier Stefanie was able to tell on Impulse.de how, as a very young boss, she met the expectation that she should appear “nicer” – and how she overcame this problem
  • Qi-Gong expert Angela reported on woman.at how her mother had helped her out of the mess (a little later she was also allowed to give Qi-Gong tips on the site, which had never met with interest before)
  • Fitness coach Beatrice told in several magazines how she found life through sport after burnout and cancer diagnosis

10. On stage, prominent speakers know exactly: on stage, it is not a question of conveying as many facts as possible, but of sending one or two central thoughts that are remembered.

So I strongly recommend that you approach this central idea with a story! 

If we witness how the speaker concluded, we will still remember it weeks and even months later.

What journalists learn about storytelling – and what you should check out

Have a “hero.”

 Every journalist learns right at the beginning of his training: If you want to describe a problem, find a person to whom it applies. All articles, radio features, and television reports that go beyond news reporting take this rule of thumb to heart.

So if you want to use stories, don’t talk about “many people” having problem XY. It was about how Sabine, 47, was suddenly confronted with this problem, what it did to her – and how she could finally overcome it.

Do you want to tell a story about yourself, not someone else? Great, then you are the hero of your account!

Unfortunately, your topic mainly consists of facts and figures? Then find yourself a sample person who has an impact on these facts and figures – and use it to illustrate why the topic is so important!

Let something happen quickly

Who would watch a film where Tom Hanks flies calmly on an airplane over an island and then arrives at home in a good mood …? 

No, the plane crashes, of course, Hanks lands on a desert island – and suddenly has to fight like Robinson Crusoe for his survival and against going mad. 

Most Hollywood films work according to this principle: Often, something happens within the first five minutes that changes everything – and dominates the remaining 85 minutes. 

So what is the “plane crash” in your story? In your customers’? Every good story, no matter how small, needs a “Suddenly …”.

Again: It doesn’t always have to be the great story of suffering, the tragedy of your life – after all, there are enough small events that involve coping with a problem! If only as a convinced vegetarian you ended up in a small Argentinian town and suddenly had to find out: it was almost impossible to find something to eat that did not focus on a roasted pink piece of meat …

If you describe this vividly and according to the rules of storytelling (a hero is suddenly confronted with a problem and has to find a solution), you are sure to have open ears – without it having Hollywood potential.

By the way, journalists sometimes apply the “let something happen quickly” rule in the first sentence – even before we get to know the hero. Something like this: “It was a rainy Thursday afternoon when the horror came to Niederbüll.”

 The order of the elements mentioned here can, therefore, be changed! The main thing is that they are included in your story at all.

Say what the problem is

Ideally, when you tell a story, you should clearly state what the problem is here. If SUDDENLY something happened, you should take the whole thing to a higher level again, make the meaning clear: 

  • What is at stake here right now? 
  • Why does the problem have to be solved? 
  • What will happen if not …?

So you give your story additional depth. In the journalism school, I learned the following sentence, which describes this aspect of storytelling very well: “Get into the helicopter”.

That means: look at what has happened from above as if from an airplane. What more significant dimension do you see? What are the effects of what happened to the big picture?

 Journalists then often use a sentence like “Sabine Hansen is not an isolated case”. Then numbers usually follow, such as how many others are affected by the problem.

 You don’t have to stick to it blindly – but maybe you find an aspect that is “bigger” than the person and their problem? Then name it.

Describe small details

Good journalism describes vividly – in the right places. Many texts start with scenery in which little things are mentioned in detail. So readers can imagine the situation correctly.

This works especially if you want to make it exciting. If you work towards a SUDDENLY telling a story, you can build tension by describing: Where are we? How is it there? What can you hear, smell, feel?

This will “pull” your listeners into the story; they will be more attentive – because while they are empathizing with the situation, many different areas of their brains are active (unlike if they only had to process facts). 

Have a happy ending – and a message

When we hear about a problem, we want to know how it ends. Our brain is particularly satisfied when it hears a happy ending. Therefore, think of stories that have an outcome. What is still “work in progress” is not suitable for storytelling.

For example, it would be very unsatisfactory if Tom Hanks just lived on his lonely island at the end of the film. 

 A story needs development. And development also means: How did it end? How was the problem solved? What did that do to the hero?

The next time you read a magazine text, just pay attention: Does the author return to the hero and his problem at the end of the text? This is a classic journalistic trick to create a common thread.

Even if other people had their say in the middle part of the text – other people affected, experts, supporting actors: In the end, the journalist usually “closes the bag” and picks up on the scene described in the introduction. A typical exit describes what the hero does today, how the problem related has changed him or her.

Ideally, your story, therefore, has a message and makes it clear to me as a listener: Here, a change has occurred that has something to do with me. 

This also applies if the story did not turn out positive for the hero! He or she will have learned something anyway – and for the listener, that is something like a “happy ending.”

Five mistakes you should avoid when storytelling

  1. Avoid too many details.

Many of my tips tempt you to get lost in details. Describe what it takes. Add something here and there and there, because this and that, and that is somehow important.

In other words: getting into the LANTERN.

That is the death of good stories.

How do you know if your descriptions are still exciting?

By looking into the faces of your listeners (if that’s possible). How attentively do you listen?

The big challenge is just to give details that pull your audience into a situation that creates tension. 

Depending on the situation, you should handle this differently: In a short video in which you describe a short event, a few details are enough. You can take a little more time on stage, especially if the story has a larger dimension.

My tip: tell the story in front of a sample audience – or give your text to a few test readers! Ask them to tell you where to remind yourself to stay tuned honestly.

2. Avoid digressions

In journalistic research, I often wrote half a notebook – and ended up using only about 10 percent of my notes for the text. 

Because a vital journalist rule is: only select the people, events, and descriptions that are relevant to your core topic, your message.

This can go so far that protagonists are accompanied and interviewed and do not even appear in the text afterward because the experiences were not typical of the text’s essence. 

For example, if the topic is “single women are statistically more stressed than women in a relationship, even if it is a bad relationship,” the journalist needs someone who can best illustrate this. If it turns out that the selected protagonist is only semi-stressed, the story no longer works – and the journalist will look for someone else.

What you can learn from it: If you tell a story, concentrate on the CORE. 

If you know which message you want to end with, you should only choose the critical events and developments for this message. 

3. Avoid naming too many people.

Maybe you could tell several stories about the same phenomenon. Journalists do just that in many texts: they have two or three protagonists. However, the following rule applies: Each protagonist should illustrate a different aspect of the topic.

If we stick to the thesis that single mothers are stressed out, a journalist would, for example, choose a woman who lives alone with her child and only copes with everyday life with great effort – and a mother who is in a relationship that is more difficult than it should be everything is significantly less stressed.

Each protagonist stands for something and is carefully selected by journalists. It rarely takes two protagonists who have experienced the same thing!

For your first storytelling steps, I would recommend focusing on one protagonist so as not to confuse your audience or readers.

(Exception: there are a hero and an antagonist. If your hero has an opponent, you must include both in your story – after all, the antagonist embodies the hero’s problem.)

4. Don’t just tell THE ONE story.

Sure, if you bring along a good story that describes great why you are doing what you are doing, you should tell it repeatedly. It doesn’t matter whether you already have customers or are just at the beginning: a good justification story makes a difference.

But please don’t focus ONLY on that!

Because stories are suitable for so much more, you can make decisions understandable, lead listeners to an eye-opening moment, convey knowledge.

For me, storytelling is an addition. I use it here and there.

  • to illustrate a point
  • to work towards a conclusion / a message / a “moral from history.”
  • to create ties (“Yes! I feel the same way!”)
  • to create more interaction (nothing triggers more than small, unadorned stories from my life …) 

Therefore: Whenever you can explain something using an example that follows the sequence hero – problem – solution – change, you do real storytelling!

(With that, I would like to take away the high standards again: It doesn’t always have to be Hollywood material, even small anecdotes can work correctly!)

5. Don’t overdo it

One final request: don’t kill your audience. Because if from now on, you only come around the corner with blood-sweat-tear-stories, then I promise you: It will tire in the long run.

As a customer, I react grumpily when I realize that a person always uses their personal (dramatic) story exactly when it comes to selling. Then I feel manipulated – and I’m gone.

It is like everything in life: A healthy mix is ​​essential. 

SEO for Online Shops – The Monster FAQ!

You have an online shop, and you have questions about SEO? Then you are right here! Welcome to the Monster FAQ on SEO for Online Shops.

Basic questions

If you already know your way around, feel free to skip these questions. But I tried to shed some light on aspects that not everyone knows. Maybe there is something for advanced users too!

How does search engine optimization work for online shops?

Phew, there is usually a lot to do. But to put it roughly, you try to achieve several things:

  1. Your shop should be accessible and legible for Google. Google (or any other search engine) needs to recognize that it’s a shop and what products it sells.
  2. The shop should deliver the best result for the user on this topic, i.e. also give the user exactly what he was looking for.
  3. The shop should have a good reputation online. This works mostly through links from other useful websites. Google also evaluates other signals such as social media and the like.

What SEOs do now is to improve the online shop on these three points. Everyone does it differently. And everyone sets different priorities. While some swear by link building, other shops optimize technically such as page loading speed down to the last detail. Still, others focus on the content of the website and offer the user the best experience. Since it is an algorithm, there are several ways to get there. In the last few years, the first final points felt to have become more critical, the first point lost relative to the others. You should always keep an eye on all three to get the best results.

Is search engine optimization prohibited?

No. Neither Google nor the legislator has anything against search engine optimization – on the contrary! Google even wants you to make your website more readable – this will make your work more comfortable, and the search engine will find good results faster – which will help users and ultimately make them more satisfied with Google.

However, some techniques violate the so-called webmaster guidelines. For example, if you artificially procure links (for example, by bribing other webmasters with money instead of getting real recommendations to link to your website, you can book advantage for yourself in the short term. However, there is one at Google own team that takes care of exposing these techniques. If you get caught, you may be deliberately downgraded a few places or even flipped entirely out of the Google index so that you may be accurate accomplishes the opposite of what you want.

Apart from this, techniques such as the purchase of links and the setting of links in forums for advertising violate the Unfair Competition Act (UWG). Since you don’t want to show Google that you are buying links, bought links are rarely awarded. Unfortunately, many search engine optimizers – especially agencies – still buy links today. This works mainly because of the principle “Where there is no plaintiff, there is no judge”. If you do something big here – as is currently the case with Instagram influencers with unmarked advertising – then the link buying industry is in bad shape.

How long does it take for my online shop to have good rankings?

To make it short: It depends a lot on the market environment, the desired keywords and your website. Generally speaking, SEO is a matter of months to years, not a matter of weeks. There are some techniques – such as optimizing titles and descriptions – that can affect very quickly (i.e. in a few days or weeks). But if you want to gain trust with Google with a brand new domain, you should plan for a long time. However, initial successes can be visible very soon – especially for niche keywords that do not have a high level of competition.

Why does SEO seem so crucial for my shop?

For most websites, SEO is one of the most cost-effective channels for high-quality visitors – despite the work that you have to do yourself or for which you have to pay an agency or a freelancer. You get targeted visitors with SEO who googled for “Buy blue hiking pants XL”. Anyone who offers such hiking pants (and has matching pants and a beautiful online shop) will have a good chance of buying them. Many high-quality visitors can only be obtained via Google Ads. Google Ads is excellent too, but usually costs more per order (compared to SEO). That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t book Google Ads – most shop owners run SEO and Google Ads at the same time.

But you don’t have to do SEO. Some shop operators rely 100% on Google Ads. Others go full offline marketing with flyers and Co. That also works, and SEO is just one channel out of many.

If you want to sell a product, also consider whether you don’t want to just do it on eBay, Etsy or Amazon? The fees there are high – but you save the costs of an online shop, marketing (mostly) and many other things. Likewise, SEO doesn’t make sense if you have a completely new product that no one knows about yet. In that case, nobody is looking for your product because nobody knows that it exists. Here, however, it makes sense to optimize for relevant terms and keywords in the environment of your product, for example, the “problem” that your product helps with, rather than the product itself. A company magazine and content marketing are ideal for this.

How much does SEO cost?

The question “What does a website cost?” Or “What does a car cost?” Is similarly simple. It all depends on what you want to achieve and where you start. Do you sell puzzles online?

The following models exist – the more SEO, the higher the costs, of course:

  1. You can completely implement SEO yourself.
  2. You can do most of the SEO yourself, with a programmer and SEO consultant at your side.
  3. You can give SEO completely to an agency and programmer.
  4. You can hire an in-house team for SEO, i.e. one or more permanent SEOs who do nothing but SEO.
  5. You can hire an in-house team for SEO and have it supported by an agency. This works with them and is available as a sparring partner for essential questions.

The whole thing is, of course, not static. Successful online shop operators often go all the way from 1-5 (over many years). 

How do I find a reputable SEO agency for my shop?

I find this question incredible because it is so often on agency websites. The answer is then as neutral as possible, whereby towards the end of the solution, it becomes clear that your agency is the only one that uses the Rankingbooster3000. But seriously: It is incredibly difficult to see from the outside how good an SEO agency is. Most of the time, you can only see from the outside how professional the sales department is. Even I often do not know how well or poorly other agencies work until I am brought up with one or the other. And also then you should be careful because opinions are often very subjective. Just because the work at one agency’s client was catastrophic does not have to apply to all of the agency’s other clients and vice versa.

I have been doing SEO for 12 years, and two methods can reliably help you find the right agency:

  1. Inform yourself beforehand in detail about the topic of SEO and know your way so far that you can assess the statements of your counterpart. The more knowledge you have, the less you can fall for dubious offers and the more you can identify which agency suits you best. Ask the agency of your choice if you have holes in your stomach – the more, the better! The principle also applies to craftspeople, car workshops, doctors and any other service provider.
  2. Ask acquaintances, friends and colleagues if they can recommend someone to you. Unfortunately, this is not the panacea, because sometimes spam techniques work well for your friends and they recommend you to someone who is not dangerous. Therefore tip 1 is much more effective. Another good advice is to take your friend/acquaintance into the conversation with the agency. So you learn what your acquaintance values. Incidentally, this also works great when buying a car with a friend of my car mechanic. 

How is SEO success measured? How important is visibility?

There are a lot of tools that give SEO points, show visibility and with which many SEOs work. The best known are SistrixSearchmetrics and Xovi . These three tools regularly monitor millions of keywords, assess their value and use them to calculate an index that then reads like a stock chart. This can be important for an initial assessment of a domain – or when comparing different areas in the same industry. However, the values ​​are an approximation and sometimes do not say much about the actual SEO traffic.

The visibility of various SEO tools shows the actual SEO traffic only to a limited extent

You can ultimately make the most reliable statement about SEO success if you use your web tracking tool (e.g. Google Analytics) to check how many visitors come to your shop via SEO – and how many of them buy. What you need are more acquiring customers about SEO – no SEO visibility. The Google Search Console is an indispensable tool for determining which terms visitors use to come to your website and where you appear on Google.

Can I do SEO for my online shop myself?

Of course! Why not? Especially when you are at the beginning of your business, you often have no money for an agency. The alternative is to read yourself in and then take action yourself. So if you have the time, there is nothing to be said against trying it yourself. By the way, this is how I came to SEO myself. My t-shirt shop did not have enough visitors and a forum member in a shop operator forum advised me “Try it with search engine optimization”.

Of course, it will be the case that you don’t use the levers that a professional would use from the start. This means that you make wrong adjustments or invest a lot of time in things that are not worth the time. So in my first days as SEO (in 2007) I wasted days on an XML sitemap. At some point, I realized that firstly there are sitemap generators and secondly that sitemaps are not so important. Only one thing: If you don’t have time for SEO and no money to pay someone else to do it, it looks terrible.

Questions about online shop technology

Which shop system is best for SEO?

I hear the question quite often. It is like this: you should choose your shop system according to what other functions you need. Basic SEO can do most just fine. SEO is often more about the template (i.e. the design) than the system itself. My advice is: get a system that is as widely used as possible. There are usually right SEO extensions for this, and you also ensure that updates continue to come. Also: good web agencies only work with sound shop systems. ShopwareShopifyMagentoGambioWooCommerce– these are widely used systems. You should do detailed research, only then choose a suitable method. At least shop systems work “off the shelf”, most require adjustments to your individual needs.

Small “quick-and-easy” solutions may help you get started quickly, but changing a shop system later is usually very expensive. Therefore, I would always rely on one from the start that is easily expandable.

When do I start with SEO in my shop?

You should get an SEO specialist on board as early as possible. The best time is when it comes to the basic design, and you have already considered the categories for your shop. A basic plan should already be outlined (as a sketch), but the SEO can change that again for usability reasons. He can also question the categories after performing a keyword analysis. Another possibility is that you create the shop and then have an SEO overlooked before going live. Here, however, there is a high risk that you will have to knock down a lot. I would do it after choosing the shop system, create a dummy without a design and also a sketch of the shop – and then wait what the SEO says about it.

What should my URLs look like?

One thing that is often screwed up at the beginning is the shop URLs. Google wants thematically arranged directories, so you have achieved that well. Of course, you should only introduce subcategories if they make thematic sense so that you can structure them well. Think of your categories a little like a guide in the department store – how would you design one? And what would you put in which aisle and then on which shelf?

What is a good headline structure for online shops?

First of all, headings are not as relevant as you might think. The reason? Many web designers misuse layout headings so Google can’t rely on them. Depending on the page type, the product name or the name of the corresponding category should be defined as an H1 heading in your shop. Further small lines such as the article description, unique features and the like can then be in H2 entries. Under no circumstances should design elements in the sidebar or the footer be marked as headings – here the template designer should work with CSS and not with lines. 

How do I get to number 1 for my keyword?

There are very few industries where a single keyword is essential. For most of the shops that I optimized, even the most critical keywords were often responsible for less than 5% of sales. Conversely, niche keywords were relevant for 95% of sales. It is also felt that the more search volume behind a keyword, the more difficult it will be with the ranking. If you want to start wisely with SEO, then book Google Ads and see which keyword groups you use to generate good sales – and later try to achieve granular success there.

How important is page load speed for SEO?

Google has repeatedly stressed that page load speed can be critical. It is also confirmed that a fast-loading online shop leads to more conversions. You should have a quick loading page. But it is certainly not the most important factor, just one of many. Only because you load the fastest in your industry, you will not be in the first place.

Shop content

Do I have to enter a product description for each product and a category description for each category?

As smart as Google is, it is unfortunately, still a text-based search engine. As a rule, it makes sense that you create unique product and category descriptions. Do not use the one that the manufacturer provides for free. And conversely, please do not make them available for free price search engines. But yes: you need individual texts for your shop.

Can I use automated/standard texts for these SEO texts?

Of course, you can buy cheap texts. However, it is not advisable. If you have a large number of products and cannot afford the texts for so many products, you may ask yourself from the other direction: Do you need so many products? Prefer to prioritize your range: What are your most important products? Start with these and create good product descriptions for them that inspire the user to buy and that are optimized for search engines.

Many people will advise you about additional content. Why? Well, if Google has a choice of 50 different online stores that sell the same thing and have similar prices, they’ll put those in the forefront who go the extra mile and advise, inform, or maintain the customer. Your customers will also be happy if you don’t just provide an item description, but a tutorial on how to use the product.

What one understands by good content, the opinions of experts differ widely.

  • Videos
  • Good descriptions that answer my customers’ questions.
  • Instructions for your products
  • Examples of use
  • Excellent and large photos – the more visual the product, the more important
  • FAQs on shipping, ordering, delivery costs and returns.
  • A shop magazine that provides news about the products or shows insights into your company.
  • Helpful tips on your products.
  • Reviews from other customers about the product

I recently ordered a hedge. A glossy loquat “Dicker Toni” to be precise.

I ordered them from Pflanzmich.de. Plantmich.de is not a customer of ours, by the way, just for information. If you look at the product page, you may notice why I ordered there. There is a lot of detailed information about the product that I urgently needed. The excellent content here was about the growth rate or the height, and much more. The product text is very informative. Probably someone wrote it who had detailed information about the product. There are also so-called “master questions” at the bottom “- this is an APP that answers all sorts of questions about plants and gardens free of charge. In the meantime, that’s 31992 responded to questions – that’s quite a lot.

As a customer, I ordered there because other shops, particularly in the garden area, often only had scant information about the individual plants. What I like as a professional: Pflanzmich.de thinks up from the user. There you think about what the user needs and wants about hedges. I want to know how fast the fence grows and how high it gets. Unfortunately, 90% of the hedgerow shops do not answer that. So much for my hedge example. Incidentally, it has already been delivered and looks great!

User experience (UX) and shop SEO

Do you already know Google’s GrowmyStore? There you can have your shop tested for user-friendliness. From Google – for free. It is not unusual that the tool exists, but how it works. Automatically. The device not only recognizes how well your product details are described (see picture below), but also whether your pickup offers in the store or a flexible order execution in terms of express delivery. According to the FAQs, this works by searching for specific keywords. I am not sure whether Google also incorporates such results into the ranking, but it would be possible – too resource-saving and straightforward. And the engineers at Google like that. 

Google automatically recognizes whether your product details can be found quickly and described adequately.

How important is UX for the SEO success of my online shop?

Very important. If your users despair during the ordering process, your categorization is not user-friendly, and your shop is otherwise difficult to use, you can no longer win a flowerpot today. Take this sentence to heart, unfortunately, I have seen some otherwise good shops slowly dying. From a Google perspective, a website gets a good ranking if it serves its purpose well. The use of an online shop is to inform you about products, to present them well and to make them easy to buy. This works out!

How do I improve the user experience in my shop?

Three approaches are best made one by one, starting with the 1:

  1. There are specific basic rules that you should use in your online shop. Your logo is at the top left, the shopping cart and “Checkout” link are at the top right. You should check and apply these rules. You gain a lot with that. 
  2. You can put users in front of a monitor and watch how they operate your shop. You will learn a lot. This can be done quickly and inexpensively, for example with rapiduser tests.
  3. You can do AB testing. Here you present different versions of your website to different users. You can even do this for free with Google Optimize.