Forget SEO; think about trust and influence according to the digital marketing guru

Ian Hopkinson was frustrated with the music industry when he pivoted to launch Mad Scientist Digital.

In 12 years, the digital agency has built over 500 websites and been involved in countless social media and content campaigns. These days, they specialize in understanding how the internet works. Some people know it as SEO, but it’s much more than that.

Mad Scientist has a consultative approach to onboarding a client. In some ways, Hopkinson saw this as a rescue service for a client’s website. Many new clients struggled to understand what their last agency was doing and had significant issues measuring the effectiveness of their previous campaign and website.

For the sake of measurement and efficiency, they had a dozen tools to analyze a client’s website. Then the mad scientists wove this data together into constructive feedback for the customer. Some would call this an advanced website audit.

They reached a point where Hopkinson and his team had so much experience auditing client websites that external tools alone weren’t cutting the mustard.

At this point, 4 or 5 years ago, Hopkinson started working on a tool to replace all the audit tools they were using. It took a few years, some creative brains, and a lot of trial and error, but now his new business terminology has arrived.

Hopkinson thinks this is a big deal and their tool is unique. Instead of seeing it as a search engine optimization (SEO) auditing tool, they see it as a pioneer in the search engine influence (SEI) space.

“It’s not just an SEO tool; we see it as a tool to help you not only build trust with customers, but also with Google,” says Hopkinson.

The word ‘trust’ is used a lot in their tool. This is because they also see that Google is moving in this direction.

“People asking for SEO are getting all this technical information from their agency, but they don’t realize that Google is moving towards a more reliable storytelling experience.”

The tool consolidates more than 30 signals on your site(s) and your competitors’ sites. These signals are brought together in seven simple key areas presented in an impressive dashboard. More importantly, the dashboard links to practical steps you can take to make things better.

These data points are also tracked over time in historical charts.

Many of its competitors blame Google and their algorithm updates for campaign failures. Google is known to update its algorithm up to 600 times a year, which prompted Hopkinson to ensure that its tool is updated at a predictable twice-a-year interval. These updates cover new technologies, strategies, and search engine algorithm updates.

Terminology has seen over 10,500 websites audited so far. Anyone can have their site audited for free with the Free Forever plan, but you have to pay $10 per month to benchmark your site(s) against your competitors.

He said the tool is able to provide feedback on a site in less than a minute, regardless of whether the site has a few pages and starts or sites that have hundreds of pages.

Hopkinson said that no site will achieve 100% perfection. Tech giant Apple is 89, for example.

Of the thousands of sites the tool had already assessed, the average overall score was 26, but as Hopkinson said, “that doesn’t really mean much until you look at the industry average or don’t compare it to your closest competitors”.

Some industries are quite close – Myer is at 48% and David Jones at 47%. But in a sector like mass distribution, IGA is at 42%, far behind Coles 61%, Woolworths 55% and Aldi 51%.

At 58%, A/NZ lags in banking compared to Westpac 68%, CommBank 66% and NAB 65%.

The big four consultancies were also close with EY at 77%, PwC and Deloitte at 76% and KPMG at 70%.

Hopkinson said while benchmarking is essential, it’s more important to dig into the specific actions you need to take to improve your online standing and the tool does that with practical advice for your unique situation.

While most Digital mad scientistcustomers of are Australian, the Terminology tool has customers throughout Asia Pacific and beyond. Many of these clients are web developers and other agencies wishing to audit their clients’ sites.

Hopkinson sees all of this as a way to democratize digital marketing and simplify the digital economy for businesses.

He and the Terminology team intend to create other simple tools in the future; stay tuned, he said.

The tool can be studied here.

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