April 28, 2013 by Mary Bowling
In many areas, a little knowledge can be just as dangerous as no knowledge at all. After all, if you admit to yourself that you don’t know how to do something, you’ll most often do one of three things: do nothing; learn how to do it yourself; or find an expert you trust to handle it for you.
But if you think you know and you really don’t, you are very likely to make your situation worse. This is totally true of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Even though I’ve been immersed in SEO since 2003, I have to admit that if someone creates a website in a way that is useful to their human visitors and doesn’t try to do any SEO on it at all, it is possible for it to rank well and get plenty of targeted traffic. Of course, saying that it’s possible doesn’t mean it can or will happen. It just means that I have seen instances of this, especially when the business was early to get a website or in a fairly uncompetitive location or industry.
It is more likely, though, that doing nothing means Google will see duplicate content on your site or not see the valuable content on your site at all. It can also mean that Google has a hard time figuring out what your pages are about, so it’s unsure what terms to rank them for. Either of these problems can have an enormous impact on your rankings. So, doing nothing really isn’t your best choice, especially if your competitors are doing good things for their own SEO and surging ahead of you in the rankings.
Learning To Do SEO Yourself (DIY)
This is a tried-and-true method that plenty of small business owners have adopted over the years to help their enterprises succeed online. Some of them have become so good at it that they have pretty much become full-time SEOs and turned their original businesses over to others to run.
SEO certainly isn’t voodoo, and anyone willing to put in the time and effort can learn to be pretty darn good at it. However, in the world of SEO, change is continual and occurs at a rapidly accelerating pace. If you think you are keeping up, check out this list of recent Google updates to gauge how well you’re doing.
Some of these algorithm changes are minor and benign. Others, like the ongoing Panda and Penguin updates, have widespread, drastic impacts on rankings. If you have been hit by them and need to recover from their negative consequences, you probably need new tools, new skills and a new way of thinking: not just about SEO, but about your overall internet marketing efforts, as well.
You can do your own SEO, but if you are not willing to commit to keeping up with all the changes in the industry, you will quickly be left behind, and may not even realize what your problems might be or how to correct them.
Doing your own SEO may not be very cost effective, either, especially if your time is better spent making sales and earning money. A professional SEO consultant spreads out the costs of research, testing, skill building and professional tools over all of their clients, while a DIY-er must carry the burden of that time and money expenditure on her own.
If you rely on your web designer, developer or in-house IT department to do your Search Engine Optimization, keep in mind that they need to be continually upgrading their SEO knowledge and skill set, in addition to executing their primary functions. What has worked in the past certainly doesn’t work now. Heck, tactics that produced great results just 6 months ago could actually be penalizing your site today.
Find an Expert to Help You
Think about how valuable a well-performing website can be to your business. Consider your current skills and how much time and effort you’re willing to devote to improving your site on an ongoing basis. Then, if you need it, get some professional help.
When you’re ready for some assistance from a professional SEO team, fill out the form here.
April 16, 2013 by Ed Reese
We’re excited to be offering our Google Analytics class this Thursday, April 25th at 11:30am at The Nectar Tasting Room (corner of Main & Stevens). I get pretty fired up when it comes to teaching people how to utilize the power of data and am excited to be teaching my first analytics class of 2013. Understanding analytics is a game-changer for businesses and we love getting people headed down the path of analytics awesomeness!
This year we’ve changed the format of our classes so the lessons really sink in. We want you to be able to immediately apply what you’ve learned in class to help your business. Take a look at the educational support we’re providing as part of this analytics class offering. You’ll be an analytics ninja before you know it!
- 90 minute class on Thursday, April 25th
- 90 minute small group hands-on analytics lab session (dates TBD)
- Unlimited analytics questions for 30 days in our new analytics forum
Measure & Maximize Your Marketing Efforts with Google Analytics!
Date: Thursday, April 25th
Location: Nectar Tasting Room, 120 North Stevens (corner of Main & Stevens)
Limit: 25 attendees
Seats Available: 0 (Thanks again for another full class
Here’s what you’ll learn in our 90 minute class:
Goals & KPI’s. What do you want your website to accomplish? We’ll start by showing how to create goals and KPI’s (key performance indicators) for your website. Always start with the end-goal in mind. We’ll measure everything against these business goals. (10 minutes)
The Install. It’s easy to get started with Google Analytics (GA). But there are a few things you’ll need to know to make sure you’re getting started on the right foot. We’ll show you how to install Google Analytics and configure it to your business’s needs. (5 minutes)
A Guided Tour. There have been A LOT of changes in GA recently. We’ll provided a guided tour that shows the wide variety of ways you can look at your data to fully understand how to use Google Analytics to its fullest potential. (15 minutes)
Understanding Traffic Sources. It’s imperative to understand not just where your traffic is coming from but that traffic is causing. Are your marketing campaigns performing? Should you renew your advertising contract with XYZ company? We’ll show you how to use your Google Analytics data to make more educated decisions about your marketing and advertising efforts. (15 minutes)
Measurement = More Powerful Pages. You’ll learn how to use measurement to improve to your homepage, landing pages, interior pages and blog posts. Content is king. You’ll learn how to identify pages that are under-performing and make them better. (15 minutes)
Conversions. There are many ways to measure conversions on a website. We’ll show several ways to create and track that final step of the conversion (the sale, registration, download, etc.) We’ll also show how to create micro-conversions to create multiple smaller steps to purchase. (10 minutes)
Advanced Awesomeness. We’ll end by showing how to take advantage of advanced segments within Google Analytics. Using segments effectively is one of the most valuable ways GA can help your business. I use advanced segments about 20 times a day for my clients (and you should too). Take advantage of the power. (10 minutes)
Questions. We have ten minutes “officially” set aside for questions. That said, I’ve set aside an hour after our class is over to answer questions for anyone that would like to stay after the class. We realize many of you are coming to the class on your lunch break so we’ll be adhering to our 90 minute schedule. That said, if you can stay after class I’ll be there to answer questions for an extra hour
Here’s what you’ll get as a bonus:
This year we’ll be providing 90 minute follow-up lab sessions so you can reinforce your classroom learning experience with hands-on training. What does that mean? I’m glad you asked! We’ll be providing several small group lab sessions where I’ll work with you set up goals, create advanced segments, create dashboards, and much more.
But I want a super-bonus!
You drive a hard bargain, but OK. Here’s your super-bonus. Anyone registered for the class is invited into our new analytics forum for 30 days for free! Ask UNLIMITED QUESTIONS about Google Analytics for a month absolutely free! I’ll even throw in some foosball tips for those interested.
But wait, there’s more!
We’ll also provide an adequate, somewhat nutritious box lunch during your first class session with the choice of a few inexpensive beverages and/or water. Hey, it’s not exactly date-night food. But becoming an analytics ninja for $40 will make you both thrifty and dang sexy!
April 3, 2013 by Ed Reese
Social media measurement has been a slippery slope in the online marketing world. Here are a few suggestions for measuring social media based on a few experiences with some of my clients.
Over 200 people will fill the Jepson Auditorium at Gonzaga tonight to discuss how social media has changed the face of business. It should be a great discussion as social media has evolved to a point where it does positively impact many businesses. But how? What are the businesses trying to achieve? I hear a lot of comments like these:
“I just gotta get on Facebook! I feel like I’m behind the curve.”
“I need a Twitter strategy,… Now!”
But that’s not true. You don’t HAVE to be on Facebook or Twitter. The answer is,… it depends. Yeah, it might be a good idea for your business. It might be a super-duper awesome idea. But where is your audience? What are your goals? My Local University amigo Matt McGee always has the same answer when asked about social media platforms.
Be on the social media platforms where your customers are.
Yep, good advice. For example, Chris Reilly and I performed a social media audit for a client a few years back to measure the effectiveness of their internal social media efforts. Guess what? 93% of their audience was blocked at the firewall. Their particular industry is pretty conservative and the big bosses don’t want their people on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. Blocked at the firewall. Dang. But guess what? They were on old-school technical forums and still go to industry events. Lesson learned: go where your customers are.
But there’s a question even more important than where to go.
I don’t hear a lot of talk about “the why” so I thought this would be a good opportunity to throw out a few reasons for businesses to put forth a social media effort and how to measure effectiveness.
1) Mitigate Risk
Social media is real-time customer service rocket fuel! Have a potential PR issue? Have a mad customer ready to rant online to the hungry, drooling masses about how much you suck? Social media has an amazing ability to cut that off at the pass. Because guess what,… even with the best of intentions things go wrong from time to time. But now businesses are able to stop PR disasters before they even start. This prevents bad reviews, bad news reports and ultimately helps protect their reputation.
This comes down to delivering awesome real-time customer service.
Where once a bad customer experience would be re-told to ten people it now has potential to reach tens of thousands (or even more if it goes truly viral). Preventing this from happening (in my opinion) is the most important aspect of social media for many mid-size to large companies. As Mike Blumenthal often says, “Once you had to treat the customer right. Now, you have to treat them right-er.”
How do you measure treating your customers right-er? Reviews.
I’ve worked with Paul Warner at Northern Quest for the past year. As part of of his responsibilities Paul has been responding to issues that have come up from time to time via Facebook and Twitter. In addition, he has responded to every online review of the hotel they could find with another member of the Northern Quest team. Here’s a look at that impact on Trip Advisor alone:
1.4 Star Rating of average “bad tone” reviews prior to 2012 (65 reviews)
2.6 Star rating of average “bad tone” review for the past 12 months (63 reviews)
4.27 Overall Star Rating for reviews prior to 2012
4.43 Overall Star Rating for reviews in the past 12 months
3.75% Improvement (While this is a smaller percentage 4.43 is almost 4.5 stars. I’ll bet this makes an impact.)
Like I mentioned earlier, things happen from time to time. By addressing them head-on a business can own the issue, whatever it is. It also keeps that review based more on facts and less on emotion. Here’s an example of a response to a hotel guest that wrote in their review that their room was too hot:
After reading your review, we checked into the temperature controls in our rooms. Each room is set to 68 degrees upon a guest’s arrival, but the temperature can be adjusted from 35 to 95 degrees. After a guest checks out of the room, the temperature is set back to 68 degrees.
Now this doesn’t fix the issue for this particular guest. But it shows other that they actually read their online reviews and respond accordingly. Here’s an example of how Paul and the Northern Quest team handled a power outage and unplanned fire alarms:
“We had a bit of anger stemming from a power outage incident on the floor and hotel as well as some unplanned fire alarms. We dealt with them via Facebook and Twitter (in addition to staff on the floor). We had to deal with complaints about tickets not getting cashed out, not being able to check in, having to leave machines, not able to get tickets etc. We were able to respond and share information in real time with them as to how we were resolving issues and to whom to talk regarding concerns on the floor/hotel. We addressed all issues within an hour of the incident(s) and had most people thanking us for info and response.”
Obviously a lot is in-play when it comes to what causes a good hotel review and/or preventing a bad review. Northern Quest has improved top to bottom in terms of providing exceptional customer service. Not all of this can be attributed to addressing reviews and preventing bad reviews via social media. Still, it has a definite impact.
2) Extend Brand
All companies have a vibe in addition to services and products they want to sell. Generating a larger following of people that are aware of, and are interested in your brand is good for business. And by brand I mean everything about your business and the individuals who are publicly a part of it. At Local University our brand is based on our expert knowledge of SEO, Local Search, and how we can help businesses learn more about online marketing strategies and tactics to succeed. We want to be known as content experts. We also want to be known as nice, generous, approachable people. Blogging is a big way for us to extend our brand by creating valuable content. One of the ways we track that is by a dashboard called “Blog Intent.”
As you can see, we know how many visitors read our blog posts, where they come from, what they read, and if they have interest in us putting on a seminar in their city. Nice! That’s a handy little dashboard.
3) Create Dialog
Genuine two-way communication is possible now like never before. In the 90′s most sales people would say “If I could just get them on the phone I’d have a good chance of selling our products/services.” We now have a much better opportunity for that first conversation. But notice I didn’t list the goal as “selling.” Yes, people have sold things via social media, but (in my opinion) often at the expense of chasing others away with their chatter and over-selling. Yet, social media does provide an great first interaction with a prospective customer to learn about what you have to offer. And this can be measured with “assisted conversions” and other techniques. Awesome! Because it takes a team to sell well. You wouldn’t want five point guards or five power forwards. But put them together and you have pure magic. Or Jazz
It’s great that everyone is getting together to talk about the state of social media in Spokane. I hope this helps plant a few seeds of thought around the why and a few ideas how to measure your campaign. For those interested in leaning more about how to measure via analytics we’ll be teaching a Google Analytics class on April 18th from 11:30am to 1pm at the Nector Tasting Room for $39. Fill out our contact form and say you saw about it at the Social Media Event at Gonzaga and the cost is $29.
May 6, 2012 by Ed Reese
Catalyst Magazine’s May issue features a discussion highlighting the latest in business trends. It includes an interview with me and our friends Chris Reilly from Unleashed Online Marketing and Frank Swoboda from Corner Booth Media. The online landscape is changing rapidly. The article does a really nice job highlighting some of the most recent trends business owners should be aware of when it marketing their business.
April 27, 2012 by Ed Reese
Although we can’t see black holes, we can detect their presence (or at least make an educated guess) by measuring effects on objects around them. That same principle is the basis for this (not provide) keyword detection method. While it doesn’t technically get your beloved keywords back, it will hopefully help fill in the gaps since Google implemented this (sucky change) in reporting.
The purpose of this post is to help business owners and marketers easily get a snapshot of the *likely* keywords they’re missing. There are other more detailed technical posts for those looking for a deeper dive into the keywords (not provided) pool. These posts from Avinash Kashik and Rachael Gerson are great if you’re looking for a more detailed analysis.
Most of the people I’ve talked with have reported the percentage of (not provided) keywords at between 10%-20%. That’s what I’ve seen for the most part, but it really depends on your visitors. Covario has a great post of how (not provided) impacts different audiences. The growth rate is more concerning to me (especially with Google+ and Android adoption). As more and more people log into Google’s products, the less and less we’ll see.
But not to worry Google has made us dance before and they’ll do it again. Yes, we lost some keywords, but we can still see the landing pages these searches are directed to and can *mostly* infer what those lost keywords were. So, if you have a relatively optimized website you can make some pretty reasonable assumptions about what these (not provided) keywords were. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Find Your Keywords in Analytics
Step 2: Isolate (Not Provided) Keywords & Select Landing Pages
In the interest of full disclosure this is not my idea. I just added the Black Hole image Rachel Gerson of SEER Interactive first shared it with me at GAUGEcon in San Francisco. Be sure to follow her on Twitter. She is awesome!