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Small increase in search engine best practices: huge boost in traffic, conversions

July 3rd, 2013

By Allan Maurer

Aaron Houghton

Aaron Houghton of Boostsuite is on his 15th startup.

If you’re looking for a way to substantially boost traffic and conversions on a small business web site, research shows that even a small increase in compliance with search engine best practices can do the trick. And read on for a single effective headline tactic that drives clicks.

Durham, NC-based Boostsuite conducted a comprehensive study of small business websites and their compliance with those search engine best practices. Boostsuite measures compliance by analyzing website pages and assigning them grades from A+ to F. Users of the company’s basic, $19 a month plan to pinpoint simple changes to conform to search engine guidelines saw traffic increases of up to 214 percent and an increase in sales leads and purchases of 146 percent.

Aaron Houghton, founder and CEO of Boostsuite tells the TechJournal that some of study findings were surprising. The average small business website has 140 pages. “That’s a lot more than we would have guessed,” says Houghton. “But there are categories where it’s easy to get a lot of pages. Ecommerce sites, for instance. Even if they don’t have many employees, could still hae a catalog of 1200 pages.”

How often is new content posted?

Media sites and active bloggers also generate a lot of pages, he says.

The study also found that 60 percent of small businesses add new content to their site once a month and the average growing site adds 15 new pages each month. While Google has said its new algorithms could punish sites that publish too much content for their size, Houghton thinks “It’s hard to overdo it. But a weekly publishing schedule may be the sweet spot for staying in Google’s good graces.”

Google pandaHe admits that figuring out exactly what Google wants can lead to gray areas, but says the basics are simple: Don’t republish content available elsewhere verbatim. You can be inspired by the topic, but write your own copy.”

Another study finding: the software and IT services industry racks up the highest number of average monthly online marketing conversions, mostly sales leads. “That’s the most tech savvy group,” Houghton notes. But he suggests that digital marketing companies are better off designing products that a marketer with no tech experience or knowledge can use effortlessly.

In particular, he says software companies selling products that give users less data – even in easier to understand formats such as plain English – isn’t useful to small businesses. “It can be valuable to expert marketers,” he says, but doesn’t help those who need to know what to do about the problems the data exposes.

“If you still need someone to analyze the data, it doesn’t help the local coffee shop owner be more successful,” he says. Boostsuite’s product, he notes, not only analyzes a website’s compliance with search engine best practices, it also provides actions the user can take to remedy site problems.

A headline trick that drives clicks

Finally, the study also identified a headline tactic that is the most successful at driving clicks. The keyword “7 reasons” is the most commonly used “high opportunity” keyword for software and IT businesses. “The reality,” says Houghton, “is that kind of information content – clearly about solving a problem – is what drives sales. “Seven ways to do this, 7 things not to do, that sort of thing, short and to the point, is incredibly effective for driving leads, much better than advertising.”

Houghton is on about his 15th startup if you count those for which he didn’t take any outside funding, the best known probably being Triangle-based iContact, the email marketing firm he co-founded. Four employee Boostsuite grew its revenue 688 percent in its first six months. “The numbers are small but positive in the right direction,” he says.

The company has not sought outside funding and isn’t looking right now, but Houghton says, “When the time is right, six to 12 months out” the company might seek backing to expand its marketing and advertising efforts.

Here’s the infographic Boostsuite developed from its study:

Small Business Marketing Statistics based on 6,000 BoostSuite users

 

 

 

 

 

 

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