Social media optimization is a known business necessity. Owners understand that for their venture to withstand the competition and survive in the current economic environment, they need to be on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. They need to update fan pages, upload photos, and interact with their audience. After all, 67% of all Internet users use social networks, according to Pew Internet research. Indeed no online marketing strategy is ever complete without it. But at the end of the day, its sales—not likes, retweets, or repins—that keep the business going. So the question now is…
“Do businesses actually get sales from social media?”
Social: Vast Network of Networks
Despite doubts clouding social’s power to keep the cash register ringing, business still believe in conducting marketing via social networks. In fact, 83% of marketers surveyed by Social Media Examiner consider social media as important for their business. The same source found that 59% or marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more each week.
As for which site is considered most critical to business, 42% of marketers asked by HubSpot for the State of Inbound Marketing report voted Facebook as their choice. Some 80% of U.S. social network users prefer to connect to brands through it.
Apart from Facebook, which now has 1.11 billion monthly active users, Twitter and Pinterest were also cited by marketers. According to a study by Edison Research, 51% of active Twitter users follow companies, brands, or products on social networks. Pinterest, on the other hand, is ranked by Experian as the third most popular social network in the U.S., based on traffic. Google’s very own Google+ is continuously growing with 235 million monthly active users. Then, there’s YouTube, LinkedIn, and other popular sites.
So, Do Social Users Actually Buy?
Some 43% of social users actually do buy. The purchases happened after conducting some form of social action on the item, like sharing and favoriting, says global research provider Vision Critical. Broken down by site, Facebook appears to be the best platform to drive sales as 38% of its users have purchased an item after liking and sharing it. Pinterest ranks second with 29% of users saying they have purchased an item. Twitter was third with 22%. Social sites can drive both online and offline sales, it was found.
What do they buy? Recent social-inspired purchases by users fall mostly under technology and electronics, with the category accounting for 34% of sales driven by Twitter and 25% by Facebook. As for Pinterest, the top category was food and drink (24%).
Which type of retail store or site did they buy from? Facebook users mostly purchased from a discount retailer (43%) and supermarket (18%). Discount retailer also ranked first for Twitter (31%) and Pinterest (26%). Twitter users also bought from a department store (31%) while Pinterest users purchased from a specialty retailer (21%).
The Social Buyer: Dissected & Analyzed
The social buyer exists, and is mostly (51%) between the age of 18 and 34. The 35-54 age group represents 34% of social purchasers while the 55+ age group accounts for the remaining 15% or so. Divided by sex, 56% are male and 44% are female.
The demographics change when mobile comes into the picture. The ratio between males and females further favors males, 69:31. The 18-34 age group grows to 68% of the total number of social purchasers using mobile. Facebook (43%) and Pinterest (38%) purchases are mostly not mobile but 35% of Twitter-driven purchases are purely mobile.
So what’s inside the mind of a social buyer? A whopping 70% of Twitter user-purchasers said they were “vaguely” thinking about purchasing the product at the time they bought it. Facebook (60%) and Pinterest (49%) users had the same mindset when they bought a product, adds Vision Critical. The difference surfaces in buyers who “had not thought about purchasing this product” when they bought it. Only 9% of Twitter user-purchasers fall under this group while the figure is 16% for Facebook. Pinterest appears to be the best site for unplanned purchases as 29% their social buyers weren’t even thinking about buying such item when purchased it.
How to Appeal to Your Social Buyer
Use a Specific Network’s Purchasing Influence – Auto posting the same exact stuff on all your social accounts is not the best way to approach social media. If you want to get social-inspired sales, you must understand how a particular network or social website influences a customer’s purchase decision. For example, 43% of Pinterest purchasers said they were influenced by the “additional information on the product,” according to Vision Critical. This means Pinterest is a great choice when providing product details, reviews and recommendations, different models, etc.
For identifying where prospects can purchase the product, 38% of buyers used Twitter. When alerting to a sale or deal, 37% credited Facebook and 32% Twitter. Some 32% got reminders to purchase through Twitter. But when it comes to providing a coupon code, the battle is tight among Facebook (18%), Pinterest (14%), and Twitter (18%). Product discovery contest is also close: Facebook (31%), Pinterest (35%), and Twitter (35%).
Network Where Your Targets Are – Leading data firm comScore estimates 80% of Pinterest users are female. Repinly, an online pin directory, says the most popular Pinterest categories are as follows: food & drink, DIY and crafts, women’s apparel, and home décor. Head over to Google+ and the world turns upside down. According to SocialStatistics, nearly 87% of Google+ users are male. Students, early adopters, and engineers are some of the biggest groups. Go to LinkedIn and you’ll find a healthy balance of professionals from both sexes.
The idea is to analyze which site best suits your target market’s profile and then start your social media optimization campaign in that network. This strategy not only gives your marketing direction some focus, it also maximizes your resources.
Get Started in Focused Social Media Today – You can use social media optimization not just to get a legion of followers, but also to generate sales. That’s already proven. The best approach right now is to get started—if you haven’t already—and give it focus to ensure you influence social buyers to purchase your products and avail of your services today. We can help you.
Send us an email at email@example.com or call us at 424-888-0291 now so we can provide you free in-depth consultation on social media optimization, and how you can attract social purchasers, better understand your customer, and generate more sales from social networks today.
Mobile Internet users are expected to outnumber desktop users by next year. It is therefore no surprise that Google is paying close attention to this development. And so should you. Because if your website is not yet “mobile responsive,” you may be turning away prospects who browse your web pages via smartphones, tablets, or laptops. And frankly, mobile users are prospects you wouldn’t want to lose.
Non-Mobile Ready = Non-Customer Friendly
A study by Sterling Research and SmithGeiger for Google found that a whopping 96% of users have encountered a website that is obviously not designed for mobile. This would not have mattered to you if not for the following findings also uncovered by the same study:
- 52% of users are unlikely to engage with a company whose website brought them a bad mobile experience
- 36% of respondents say a non-mobile-friendly site wastes users’ time
- 67% of users are more likely to purchase if the site is mobile friendly
To add up to business owners’ growing woes, Internet research company comScore estimates that 52.4 million Americans now own nearly 58 million tablets. Another research group, Pew Internet, says 56% of American adults have a smartphone. Worldwide, there will be 1.4 billion smartphones by the end of 2013, adds ABI Research. That’s with a B, billion.
Take note that these devices are not just capable of connecting to the Internet; they will be connected to the Internet. Cisco estimates mobile Internet usage will skyrocket at a pace of 66% in the next five years.
Needless to say, Internet users – including your prospect customers – have been and will be viewing your website using mobile devices. That’s a major problem if your site is not designed to load properly on mobile.
Supported, Not Preferred: Dynamic Serving & Mobile Sites
In total, Google supports three configurations in serving content for smartphones: mobile responsive, dynamic serving, and mobile version website. The search engine prefers the first option. As for the other two, they are supported but not recommended.
The second supported-but-not-preferred option is actually creating another website, a mobile version of the main site. It is often carried out with a different domain, such as m.example.com, indicating it is meant for mobile visitors. The creation is the easy part. Ensuring pages properly redirect to their mobile equivalent pages is the tough task. Faulty redirects mean Google won’t be able to find and rank your mobile pages properly. And oh, now you have two sites to maintain (desktop and mobile) so you have twice as much optimization work to do.
Supported & Recommended: Responsive Web Design
And then there’s Google’s preferred method of servicing mobile users: responsive web design. Of all three configurations supported by the search giant, it leans on responsive more because of its many advantages not just in improving user experience but also in speeding up web page indexing and ranking. According to the official Webmaster Central Blog, here’s what Google has to say when building smartphone-optimized websites:
“Sites that use responsive web design, i.e. sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device. This is Google’s recommended configuration.”
Because the desktop and mobile content are on a single URL, it is easier for user to find, link back to, and share that content. It is also easier for Google algorithms to assign the indexing properties to your content. “Google can discover your content more efficiently as we wouldn’t need to crawl a page with the different Googlebot user agents to retrieve and index all the content,” the company explains.
What Makes a Website Mobile Responsive
In a nutshell, responsive is serving both desktop and mobile users the same exact HTML, changing only its appearance via CSS. This means your web pages load perfectly on all devices, regardless of screen size, without needing to change the HTML for each device or to create a separate mobile website.
A mobile responsive website has three key features: a flexible or fluid grid, flexible images, and CSS3 media queries. These features allow the website to “adapt to the viewing environment”. The website adjusts for viewers so they won’t need to scroll in all directions and zoom in and out whenever browsing via smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Why You Need to Shift to Responsive Today
Be More Visible Online – The responsive configuration makes it easier for Google to index pages since its crawlers will only deal with one set of code. Since you won’t create a mobile site, you also avert the possibility of faulty redirects, allowing pages to be discovered and ranked.
Build and Improve Your Brand, Reputation – The Sterling Research and SmithGeiger study also found that 48% of users are “frustrated and annoyed” by a non-mobile-friendly site. Being perceived as “annoying and frustrating” won’t help your brand and reputation.
Capture Desktop and Mobile Targets – Desktop users roam your site effortlessly. But what if they use a smartphone or a tablet to browse? Some 48% of users think companies that have non-mobile friendly sites “don’t care” about their business. Googdbye, mobile user leads and sales.
Dominate Your Competition – The same research found that 61% of users will quickly go to another website if they don’t immediately find what they need on your mobile site. Keep your site non-responsive and your competitors will thank you for the customers you send their way.
Save on Development Costs – You need to spend upfront to get a mobile responsive website but it’s actually more cost-effective in the long run. It’s cheaper than building a separate mobile site and then maintaining two websites. It’s cheaper than losing mobile customers, too.
Give Focus to Your Marketing, SEO Efforts – It is hard enough to make your pages rank on the first page of Google for main keywords. Imagine if you had twice the number of pages you need to carry out optimization for. Imagine promoting a doubled number of URLs. Chaos will ensue.
Prepare Your Business for Long-Term Success – More and more page views are coming from mobile, and less from desktop. Next year, mobile viewers are expected to outnumber desktop users. With a responsive site, you are ready for this long-term shift in website traffic origin.
Ignore Google, Risk Losing Customers
Google is unrelenting when it comes to user experience, and that’s why it has the largest search share.
By following Google’s recommendation, you are providing quality experience to your site visitors, whether they connect via desktop or mobile. Remember, they are not just visitors; they can turn into leads that you can eventually convert into customers.
On the other hand, by ignoring Google’s recommendation of implementing responsive web design, you are preventing your site from being indexed by search engines the best way possible. You are also effectively sidestepping a crucial advice to improve your site visitors’ user experience, and therefore turning away prospect customers. So, do the right thing for your business: get a mobile responsive website today.
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 424-888-0291 now to see how you can avail of our free in-depth consultation… so we can make your website and business mobile responsive, customer friendly, and ready for the future.
Most people think of cute animals when they hear the words “Penguin” and “Panda” but for many search engine optimization service providers, these two words are to be feared. Google’s Penguin and Panda are algorithm updates that play separate roles in improving the overall experience of online users.
While algorithm updates should be primarily a concern for companies providing online marketing services, business owners who use SEO services should also know about them. That’s because if your SEO service provider happens to violate Google’s SEO guidelines, these algorithm changes will drastically affect your website’s ranking and your business will suffer the consequences. So before it’s too late, read our guide on the dreaded Google Penguin and Panda updates and what they mean to your business.
Introducing Penguin, the Web Spam Fighter
The Penguin algorithm is targeted at web spam. It was launched in April 2012. Its second version was released just this May, with two other updates in between Penguin 1 and 2.0. “The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines,” says Google’s official announcement. “Next generation” Penguin affected 3.1% of search queries.
Google search spam chief Matt Cutts advised webmasters to build websites that “people will tell their friends about and bookmark,” as opposed to conducting spamming. Web spam is often conducted by SEO providers desperate to get back links. In short, Penguin is about links.
Get to Know Panda, the Crusher of Poor Content
The other algorithm change that shook the SEO industry was Panda, which was designed to target poor quality content, particularly duplicate articles. It was launched in February 2011, with the most recent update rolled out just this July.
“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful,” says Google’s announcement. At the same time, Panda will also improve the rankings of “high-quality sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis, and so on.”
What These Updates Mean to Your Business
In the online marketing world, there’s a popular term called “slap” which is when Google penalizes a website for “black hat” methods, or practices that violate its guidelines. Sometimes a penalty can be as “subtle” as a slight drop in rankings. Sometimes it’s as worse as being removed from search results. Regardless of what penalty your site receives, it can lead to a massive drop in traffic and in the overall positive reputation of your website. No traffic means no visitors, no leads, and no sales.
The hard part is recovering from these penalties. You will need to clean up your website, remove spammy backlinks, and so on. And then you will need to reinvest your marketing budget on more SEO efforts, this time hoping that you will not be penalized. Investing in non-compliant SEO service providers, therefore, is not a wise move. Any black hat activity they conduct can result to penalties for your website, and lost opportunities for your business.
How to Tell Compliant SEO from Spammy and Poor SEO
Not all business owners have the technical know-how when it comes to online marketing. That’s why they rely on trusted SEO service providers to take care of their websites and online presence. In essence, they entrust their business to SEO service providers. It is therefore crucial to know if you are indeed entrusting your business to a provider that is compliant with Google’s SEO guidelines and in tune with these search algorithm updates.
Here are some indicators that your provider is up to date with SEO best practices:
- Focusing on High Quality and Fresh Content – Content must be written for the target audience and not for search engines. Content must be something of value, something useful to users connecting your business, products or services to them. It is therefore important that your provider makes an effort to understand your business, target market, products and services through consultation and provide a mechanism for regular creation of content.
- Building Natural Backlinks – The best way for people to link back to you is to publish high quality content that is engaging and worth sharing.
- Using Social Media – A smart SEO service provider uses social media to help spread your content in the digital social sphere. Likes, pluses, shares, tweets, and retweets strengthen your social signal which is important as it is part of the SEO signals that Google detects.
- Saying No to Spammy Techniques – Make sure your provider does not involve spamming in their SEO practice. Unnatural or spammy links will get you and your website in trouble. A compliant, high caliber SEO service provider does not do the following:
- Massive submission of articles to article submission sites
- Massive forum postings
- Massive guest postings
- All of the above with the same sets of keyword-rich anchor texts
- On-Page, Off-Page Optimization – Ensure your SEO provider optimizes not just the content on your site but also your navigation, SEO tags such as the title, description, alt texts; overall site structure. They also optimize (but not over-optimize) content and links placed on external sites such as blogs, press release sites, social media and social sharing sites.
- Knows Panda & Penguin Updates – Online marketing services providers must know all about Google’s algorithm updates. If they could not provide consulting about it, then it’s either they’re not yet compliant or worse, they really don’t know about them.
How to Deal with Google Algorithm Updates
Recovering from Panda and Penguin penalties will be difficult and time consuming. But if that happens, you will need a comprehensive website audit report to know what could be the possible causes of the penalties. Bad links need to be removed. Bad content needs to be improved or taken down. Your compliant provider will know what to do.
The best way to deal with algorithm updates still, is prevention. While business owners need not know the technical aspect of SEO, it will help if they can determine whether a provider is up to date with the latest search algorithm changes. All it takes is to ask the provider about the items above. Doing so will give you some idea on whether they are compliant and if you can indeed entrust your website and your business to them.
Our SEO methodologies comply with the latest search algorithm updates, including Google’s Penguin and Panda. We are not into black hat techniques, spammy practices and over optimization of anchor texts. We focus on creating high quality and fresh content, building natural links, uses social media, maximizing Google+ for improved SEO footprint, and conducting on-page and off-page optimization.
Email us at email@example.com or call us now at 424-888-0291 to see how we can help you get more traffic, leads, and customers online.