Need more input? As an optimizer who is regularly looking to learn more about how my recipients are interacting with content, I find myself regularly consuming analytics reports filled with Google Analytics tracking code data like Johnny Number 5 eats the Encyclopedia Britannica in the above clip from the 1986 gem Short Circuit.
Google Analytics tracking codes — also know as custom campaigns or UTM codes — are custom tracking parameters that communicate to Google Analytics granular information about how your referral traffic is interacting with your calls to action. To implement a UTM tracking code simply add your desired parameters to the end of the URL you want to track insights for, like this:
UTM tracking codes can help you analyze traffic from banner ads, email newsletters, social media content, and any other campaign that links people to a property that you own (such as your website or your blog). You cannot use UTM tracking to analyze clicks to external websites, like YouTube or Link-To-Related-Content.com. To track click activity on links that send people to properties you don’t own, Bitly is a great free resource.
How To Put Together a Google Analytics Tracking Code
There are five possible parameters you can set for each UTM tracking code: Source, Medium, Campaign, Content and Term. You don’t have to use all of them. For this blog post I am going to show you show to create a UTM tracking code for a link that directs people from a blog post to a page on my website. To keep it simple, I am only going to discuss the parameters needed for this scenario — Source, Medium and Campaign.
Note: When and how to use Term and Content parameters is really a whole separate blog post; leave a comment if you are interested in seeing us write about it.
The Medium (&utm_Medium) is the most broad parameter and tells Google Analytics — big picture — how to classify the medium by which your link was presented to the user. For example, was the link presented in a Facebook wall post? Then the Medium might be “viral” because the link you posted to your Facebook wall is now spreading virally all over the Internet and, accordingly, was delivered via a “viral” medium. (If viral is too abstract for you, “social” could also work.) Was the link transmitted to the end user via an email newsletter? Then your Medium might be “email,” or even more specifically, “ConstantContact” or “CheetahMail” to identify the service that delivered your newsletter. In our example above, our link was a blog post, so we used &utm_medium=viral.
Getting one step more specific from Medium, the Source (&utm_Source=) tells Google Analytics where the click came from, where the person was when they clicked the link. In our example above (utm_source=blog) the person clicked on a link that was posted to my blog (so the Medium is “viral,” and the Source is “blog.”). Other Source options might include Twitter, Facebook or newsletter (Medium equals “email” and Source equals “newsletter”).
The Campaign parameter (&utm_Campaign=) is one step even more specific than Source, and the parameter where you can really start to get granular with your tracking. The Campaign is how you identify the specifics of a link, from the details of where it goes all the way down to the color and size of the call to action. In the example above I used &utm_campaign=CRO-JThompson-image because I wanted to identify which of my silos encouraged the most clicks, the longest time on site, and — at the other end of the spectrum — the most site exits. I also wanted to collect data to help me determine which of my authors are being read the most, and if an image call-to-action perform better than a text call to action. If this link was a banner ad I might have included the dimensions of the banner (for instance 320 or 160) to help determine which banner size encourages more clicks. If I wanted to test how well a link to free content performs versus how well a link to paid content performs I might have included “free” or “paid” as Campaign parameters.
Six Essential Google Analytics Tracking Code Details
- Every UTM tracking code starts with a question mark. For example: ?utm_. This question mark tells Google Analytics where your link URL ends and your tracking starts. If you don’t include the question mark Google will think your link is http://www.YourWebsite.com/your-CRO-landing-page-articleutm_source which, as an alteration of the URL permalink, will result in a 404 error. The question mark is important.
- There are five possible parameters you can set for each UTM tracking code: Source, Medium, Campaign, Content and Term. The parameters you choose to use are strung together in one sentence (no spaces) and separated by ampersands (&). It doesn’t matter what order you list your parameters in, but your first parameter must start with a question mark and all the following parameters must start with ampersands. The & tells Google Analytics where one parameter ends and the next begins. If you forget the ampersand and write your code like &utm_medium=viralutm_campaign= Google Analytics will think that your Medium is “viralutm_campaign=” which, as you can imagine, will skew your Medium and Campaign data pretty badly.
- Since the Google Analytics URL builder makes it easy for any of your team members to create and assign UTM tracking codes it is critical to have a discussion about UTM parameter conventions before anyone on your team starts creating UTM codes willy-nilly. I highly recommend creating a spreadsheet or other living document (a Google Drive spreadsheet works great) that clearly outlines conventions for Source, Medium, and Campaign. (If you are using Content and Term parameters regularly, make sure to add conventions for those parameters as well.) You may even consider taking your spreadsheet to the next level to establish a record of every link posted and its associated Campaign allocations. While a spreadsheet that documents every link your company pushes out is a larger commitment, these resources become invaluable as associates join and leave your team.
Note: If you’re crafty you’ve noticed the links in this blog post have not been amended to include Google Analytics UTMs. This is because the Bruce Clay, Inc. content team is currently developing our analysis goals and tracking conventions. Since I am a data-hungry Johnny Number 5 monster I have been using Bitly as my personal one-man-band interim tracking convention because I can’t survive a minute without data. I do not recommend this as it’s not scalable long-term.
- UTM codes are case sensitive so Google Analytics will collect data for potatoes and Potatoes as two separate reports. This means, since Google Analytics does not have the human sensibility to tell you that there is a capitalized version of your Campaign floating around somewhere in your referral traffic data, you may be analyzing incomplete data if your team isn’t careful about capitalization.
- Hyphens allow Google Analytics to understand each word individually; underscores are considered alphanumeric characters and connect words to make phrases (see dashes vs. underscores for more detail). For instance: sandals-coupon versus sandals_coupon. If you are building UTM codes for a newsletter send it might make sense to use an underscore to connect your newsletter identifier with the release date of the newsletter — for instance, DealerUpdates_2013July09-colorado. In this example you will be able to find data in Google Analytics for the specific term “DealerUpdates_2013July09” which will tell you exactly how that specific dealer updates newsletter that was sent out on July 9, 2013 performed. You are also able to analyze how every email sent to your Colorado demographic performed, but because “DealerUpdates_2013July09”and “Colorado” are separated by a hyphen the Colorado data will not be exclusive to the July 9 email.
- Worth noting again, you must own a URL in order to attach UTM tracking to it. In other words, you can only use UTM tracking to assigned parameters to links that go to your properties — your website, your blog, your app, etc. You cannot use UTM tracking to analyze clicks that go to external properties like Facebook.com or Other-Website.com.
Why Use Tracking Codes?
I consistently use Google Analytics tracking codes to measure where my referral traffic is coming from, which of my initiatives are meeting traffic goals, how my target markets prefer to receive communication, and the ebb and flow of industry based on seasonality.
They give you a granular snapshot of your referral traffic, how your consumers (and potential-consumers) are interacting with the calls to action you’re putting out there, and they are a great way to quench an unrelenting need for specific ROI data.
Are you a Johnny Number 5? How have Google Analytics UTM codes made your life easier?
How to Make a Graphic-Text Mash-up to Promote Blog Content on Facebook was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
I’m in a few Google+ groups focused on SEO, social media and content marketing. The question of what stock photo service to use and where to get free images has come up a couple times. It got me thinking about the process I use to find, modify and use images in my day-to-day.
As a community manager and a blogger, I have 2 main needs for images:
- Including them in BCI blog posts to break up text and add visual interest
- Posting images to social media to share blog and other BCI content
What you’ll know by the end of reading this is:
- Where I get images, both free and paid services
- How to make a graphic-text mash-up using Google Drive that will get noticed in the midst of noisy Facebook, Twitter and Google+ streams
Free Images and Paid Stock Photo Services
The stock photo site I use is Dreamstime.com because the price is right and the selection passes muster. If you use advanced search to set the price slider bar to the lowest setting, you’ll find images available for 1 credit in the extra small size. Extra small is usually around 480 px by 320 px, which is fine for both my purposes (blog posts and social media posts).
Credits will run you $1.36 if you buy the smallest credit package to about $1 if you buy 120 credits at a time; 250+ credit packages save you even more cents.
Other Stock Photo Services
I checked out some stock photo site comparisons to get an idea of what else is out there and how they stack up.
In 6 Stock Photography Services Compared I learned that Stock.xchng is the most popular free stock photo library, yet it has a limited selection. Among the most popular paid services, iStockphoto has the most massive library and Getty Images has a complicated pricing and licensing scheme.
Getting Images for Free Online
As long as you’re not looking for high-res or print quality images, you’ve got good free options online.
When using images with Creative Commons licenses, the attribution requirement adds a hurdle to the graphic mashup use for images I describe later since it adds another element to what must be included in the graphic. But CC images are great for blog posts.
For a long time, I used Creative Commons licensed photos on Flickr that allow commercial use and derivatives. For use in blog posts, Flickr makes it easy to use Creative Commons licensed images, and the Share function gives you HTML code including the required attribution. The Creative Commons site search includes Flickr, Google Images, Open Clip Art Library and Pixabay for images, and a number of media and music sources as well.
You can also search Wikimedia‘s library of free images, a collection with Creative Commons copyrights, free documentation licenses or no copyright.
For free images, you can also search EveryStockPhoto.com, a search engine for free photos across a number of sources and including a variety of license types.
You can also search Flickr’s collection The Commons, images that have passed into the public domain and belong to everyone, mostly due to their being old. You’ll find awesome vintage photos, advertising, illustrations and art that have passed into public use and can give modern blog and social posts refreshing classic flare. Since they don’t have copyright or licensing requirements, you can use public domain images for the graphic mash-up use which we get into next!
The Graphic Text Mash-up Promo
This is my little trick for sharing blog posts on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to get a little more attention than straight text updates.
As you may have noticed, recent layout updates to Facebook and Google+ have put an emphasis on visual media. Skyrocketing mobile use of Facebook, along with other social media apps, was a big reason behind Facebook’s update last March. Images show up larger in the News Feed and may also get priority in the ranking algo. An update to Google+ around the same time also made images feature more heavily. And in the endlessly updating churn of a Twitter stream, a picture attachment makes tweets stand out and, as pictures are worth a thousand words, lets you extend your message past 140 characters!
The graphic should include these three vital components:
- Image to grab fan/follower attention within a feed or stream
- A link to drive a viewer to your site
- Text that promises a payoff from clicking through
You can opt to include a logo for branding purposes as well. Note that if there’s text in the logo, it would add to your text to image ratio which Facebook limits to 20% for ads and promoted content. More on that below.
Creating A Graphic with Google Drive
I use the drawing function in Google Drive to add text on top of images. It’s super easy and Google gives you a ton of font options as well as shapes, arrows and call-outs you can add to the drawing. Here you can see a graphic mash-up I created last week to promote our Thank You page series.
Sign in to Google Drive at https://drive.google.com/ and create a Drawing.
Insert an image that you own or one sanctioned for public use.
Create a custom short link to the content. If you’ve got a registered Bitly account you can customize links, and in the Elvis example here you can see I created a custom link “typagecro,” which I chose to suggest “Thank You page CRO” (conversion rate optimization). Another bonus of a registered Bitly account is that you can track clicks on your short links.
- Insert text on top of the image. These are elements #2 and #3 in my list of three critical components.
(#2) Include the custom short link, which a viewer can type into their address bar since it’s short and easy to understand. Of course, also include a hyperlink in the image caption or tweet.
(#3) Include a promise of what’s to come in the full article, or hint at what the full content contains. If it’s a “Top 3 Reasons Why…” post, you may want include the three reasons right there in the image with an invitation to get all the info in the full post. In the Elvis example I included a brief description of what was covered in each of the two-parts of the Thank You page CRO series. Try to make this message seductive, whatever that means for you and your content.
- When the graphic is done, go to File > Download as > JPEG and save it.
A Quick Note About Design
I’ve taken one graphic design class, one web design class and a handful of painting and photography classes, so while I’m not a professional designer, I’ve been exposed to the rules of good composition. I think these are the basics to keep in mind when you’re creating mash-ups.
- Make sure text is clearly legible. Black on white is best. White on black is hard for the eye to process. If text is anything besides dark text on light, not-busy background, make sure text is legible in other ways, such as increasing font thickness or putting a background color behind the text.
- Use no more than two font types. At least one should be extremely easy to read; sans serif fonts are generally easier to read online than serif fonts. The other font can be stylized, used as an accent and in small amounts.
- For the most part, text should align left. It’s hard for the eye to follow a ragged left edge
- White space is a component of good design, especially in the modern aesthetic. While the graphic will likely be dense as you’re trying to communicate a lot in a little space, available white space should be a consideration in choosing the image.
If you want to get a background in some basics of design, I recommend Bootstrapping Design, a $39 ebook. It’s written for programmers, but I like it because it’s accessible design fundamentals for a non-artist set. Considering we’re in an age where everyone can publish online content, learning the basics of good design is an investment that will payoff.
Facebook Guidelines for Text in Images
Shortly after Facebook’s update in March, it made a new rule limiting text in images used in ads, sponsored stories and Page cover photos to 20%. If you plan to “promote” the Facebook post including an image, pay to boost its visibility or turn it into an ad, the surface area of the image that includes text has to stay under 20%.
I’ll also note here that image posts as they’re displayed on a Facebook Wall favor portrait orientation and will cut off the left and right sides of landscape oriented images. If you’re using a landscape image, try to keep the text within the area that is “center square” to the height of the image. I’ve illustrated the center square in this drawing.
It’s a good time to be an SEO analyst. Why?
- Studies show a 112 percent year-over-year increase in demand for SEO professionals with salaries as high as $94,000, as reported by Conductor, an SEO technology company based in New York.
- Earlier this month, Search Engine Land surveyed the SEO industry and found that 93 percent of respondents expected their SEO business to grow by the end of 2013. It makes sense, then, that 82 percent of respondents also reported plans to hire additional SEO staff this year.
- Last month, Digital Journal proclaimed “there is no doubt that a career in an SEO agency as an SEO professional can be an exciting and rewarding one. Stress levels would match the lows found in other online positions, while the employment opportunities in such a fast growing business are obvious … Mid-level strategist and management roles can earn from $60,000, while senior marketing directors can expect to approach six-figure sums.”
SEO Analysts at the Highest Level
What skills do you need for this profession? These are Bruce Clay’s standards for experienced SEO analysts:
- Excellent communication skills. SEOs live in a constantly changing space between marketing and IT, and have to communicate needs that cross the divide. Of course the best SEOs communicate in the universal language of the bottom line, translating technical requirements into the business benefits they serve for laymen business owners and managers.
- In-depth understanding of HTML, CSS and web programming languages. While SEOs need not be programmers, a sufficient literacy in the most common code is needed to manage client SEO projects.
- Strong knowledge of Google Analytics. ‘Nuff said.
- 3+ years of proven SEO experience. We feel that 3 years studying Google guidelines, interacting with search features and technologies, testing optimization tactics and listening to the goals and pains of businesses is required before SEO proficiency is possible.
Develop and keep your skills up-to-date with our SEO training — whether you’re interested in a career as an SEO analyst or want to be able to optimize your own site, SEOToolSet™ Training can help you strengthen your skills. All Bruce Clay, Inc. SEO analysts take SEOToolSet Training once each year, continually honing their skills in the information-packed event.
The week-long standard and advanced courses are being presented this week in Simi Valley. The next time you can catch the full training event is here in July. You can also attend a condensed version, excellent for marketing managers, business owners and the C-suite looking for a intensive foundation setting SEO workshop at SMX Advanced in Seattle on June 13.
Search engine optimization is a rapidly growing field with tons of opportunity to learn and grow! We welcome the findings of these surveys and signs of growing demand for our professional SEO power in the bright future ahead. We’re proud to be part of the SEO education institution and look forward to continued evangelism for adoption of white hat SEO methodology.
Here’s the full infographic on SEO careers from Conductor:
Where do you see the SEO career field heading? Share with us in the comments.
|This is a two-part series on Thank You page conversion rate optimization.
Part 2: How to Create a Thank You Page Call To Action
If you read the first installment in my two-part How to Create a Thank You Page That Engages and Converts series you know that Thank You pages are the pages that leads (aka, potential customers) are directed to after they complete a designated task.
And you also understand that by taking the action that led to the Thank You page your customer, or potential customer, has basically tapped you on the shoulder to let you know they are interested in your product or service.
Now is your chance to make an impression and inspire action that keeps your lead engaged. Now is your chance to funnel traffic to the pages you want them to see, your chance to use persona information to offer exactly the right offer at the right time, and your chance to bridge the gap between you and your leads with social media opt-ins that keep you connected long after they’ve left the site and forgotten about your form.
Now it’s all about the call to action.
The first post in this series established the foundation for creating a Thank You page that converts. Taking that foundation to the next level, in this post I use an “if this, than that” format to show you how to use your goals (the decisions your business has made about what they want to get out of the page) to craft compelling calls to action that encourage leads to take the next steps that you want them to take.
Creating Goal-Based Thank You Page Calls To Action
Again, what call to action you choose will depend 100 percent on your unique brand goals. In my opinion the best “best practice” for Thank You page calls to action is to be thoughtful about what you want to accomplish up front and then purposeful about how you direct the attention of your leads toward actions that help accomplish these goals.
That said, without further ado, here are four example goals, and correlating calls to action you might consider for each scenario.
Goal Scenario One: Keep them on your website and engaged with content right now.
Call to Action Option A: Offer links to three content pages that you want to see have increased traffic numbers, or three of your most popular pieces of content.
When selecting your content links you might also consider offering a variety of content that represents the interests of different market segments to help guide your persona research. For instance, if your target markets include PPC, SEO, and PR professionals include three articles — one PPC-focused, one SEO-focused, and one PR-focused — then analyze which link gets clicked on the most to help inform your persona research. If your leads are all clicking on the PPC article and no one clicks on the PR article then you can begin to make some “people who take this action are more interested in this topic/product/etc.” correlations. For instance, “people who sign up for the newsletter are more interested in PPC than PR.” You can use this information to help you choose audience-relevant links to include on your Thank You page, and to guide your Internet marketing optimization strategy as a whole.
Advanced option: Establish several Thank You pages that each correlate to targeted entry points for a more custom page experience. For instance, a Request a Quote button on your Denver page that links to a Denver-specific Thank You page, and a Request a Quote button on your Michigan page that links to a Michigan-specific Thank You page.
This strategy will allow you to use entry-point information to create content calls to action that are based more closely on the interests of the lead and what they were thinking about when they filled out the form. For instance, if your lead just requested a quote for home owners insurance from the Denver insurance page, you may offer them links to read articles about Denver home safety or natural disaster prevention. (This is where really knowing your demographic and their needs can be incredibly beneficial. If you own an insurance company that focuses on the city of Denver, you should have a better idea of their needs and interests than I do…)
Goal Scenario Two: Keep them engaged with your brand and your content offline.
Call to action: Use your persona information (i.e., the information you know about who your customer is, how they communicate, why they filled out the form, and what their needs are) to offer them a content download (usually an ebook, PDF, or a self-contained slide-deck presentation).
Goal Scenario Three: Encourage them to make a purchase.
Call to action option A: Offer them a coupon code to encourage online shopping or a physical coupon download if you want to encourage brick-and-mortar sales. Sometimes making the coupon a limited-time offer helps motivate immediate action. For example, a 30 percent off coupon that expires in 48 hours. If you set up entry-specific Thank You pages, this is a great time to use what you already know about your lead’s interests to offer him or her the perfect deal. For instance, if they signed up for your newsletter through your snowboards page, you know they are interested in winter sports so you can offer them a special coupon good for 50 perfect off any [insert winter sport item that you want to push sales numbers up for].
Call to action option B: Offer them links to product landing pages on your website that you’d like to see increased traffic to, or take this opportunity to plug promotions, outlets, or other sales you have going on. I’ll say it again: Thank You pages are a great opportunity to funnel traffic! Not only do you get to narrow the traffic focus to three options of your choosing, but you have a better chance of seeing conversion from qualified leads who have already expressed an interest in your product.
Goal Scenario Four: Extend your marketing reach to keep in touch with them after they leave the website.
Call to action: Ask them to follow you on Twitter, Like you on Facebook, sign up for your blog RSS feed, etc. Make sure to use active language and highlight specific benefits whenever possible. For instance, “Follow us on Facebook for weekly tips and tricks.” Remember never to promise anything you can’t actually deliver on. Something broad and actionable like “Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter” also works.
It is also important to keep in mind that you have to make it easy for them to take action. One click opt-in is ideal. There are many websites that offer free social media buttons that can be easily added to your website with plug-and-play code.
This sampling only represents the tip of the goal-and-call-to-action iceberg. What calls to action are working for your Thank You pages? Do you have any favorites you’d like to share?
How to Create a Thank You Page that Engages and Converts was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
|This is a two-part series on Thank You page conversion rate optimization.
Part 1: How to Create a Thank You Page that Engages and Converts
The Thank You page is the page that a lead (aka, a potential customer) will land on after filling out a web form, making a purchase, or completing another online task that you, the business, deem worthy of recognition.
By taking the action that led to the Thank You page your customer, or potential customer, has proverbially tapped you on the shoulder to let you know they are interested in your product or service. They acknowledge you, and they like you! Now what? How do you nurture your relationship with them so they will remember you and feel inspired to take the next step? How can you use the Thank You page to funnel your qualified leads to the pages you want them to visit next?
Whatever you do, it’s critical to make sure you leave them feeling satisfied and engaged, not confused.
To help you get started creating Thank You pages that convert leads into sales and strangers into brand loyalists, this blog post offers suggestions for approaching Thank You page creation in three stages: creating a foundation and getting ready to launch; on-page content creation; and using analytics to track success after your page or pages go live. On Thursday, I’ll be back with part two of this series to go into more detail about how to choose a Thank You page call to action that is focused, engaging and in alignment with your brand goals.
What to Do Before Your Thank You Page Goes Live: Setting Goals
There’s really no way to optimize your page, know if your page is performing well, or determine what call to action is the best choice for your page if you haven’t decided what you want to get out of your page.
For this reason, before you can begin crafting an optimal Thank You page experience it’s critical to establish some goals. Of course you want to thank the person who took the action, then, in a perfect world, what do you want them to do after that? Stay on your website and click through to read more content? Look at more of your products? Follow you on Twitter, Facebook, or another social networking site? Subscribe to your blog? Learn more about your company?
Fill in the blanks to help clarify what is it you want to accomplish and why: “After they [A], I want my lead to [B] from the Thank You page so that [C].”
Replace [A] with whatever specific action they took to get to the Thank You page, like “fill out the form” or “buy a paddleboard.” Replace [B] with whatever action you want them to do as a follow-up to their initial action. This could be “Like my brand’s Facebook page” or “look at more products on my website.” Replace [C] with the reason why you want them to take the follow-up action.
For instance, “After they fill out the request a quote form, I want my lead to Like my brand page on Facebook from the Thank You page so that I can stay connected with them throughout the buying cycle.”
With your goals established you are ready to start thinking about page content and calls to action.
5 Thank You Page Content Strategy Tips
1) First, actually say “thank you.” This may seem obvious, but it’s too important not to mention here. Make sure your thank you note is written in a brand voice that is consistent with the voice and language that you use across all your web pages.
2) Tell them what to expect. Will you call them within 48 hours? Are you sending them a PDF? Are you going to email them? Never promise them anything you can’t deliver on, but be specific if you can. The last thing you want is for them to feel disappointed or confused about what they should expect to happen next.
3) Keep your text and call to action above the fold. “Above the fold” means they don’t have to scroll to see the text or call to action; it’s conveniently in front of them ready to be acted on. Remember, once they land on the Thank You page you have seconds to catch their attention before they close the window or click to another website so it’s critical to pique their interest right away and make it as easy as possible for them to take action.
4) To help them learn more about you at a glance you might choose to include an image that shows some of your personality, or visually engages your lead. Are you a family business? If so, maybe you can include a picture of you and your family holding a sign that says “Thanks” in one of your brick-and-mortar locations.
5) Based on the goals you established in your pre-page strategy session, extend a call to action (CTA) that encourages your lead to take the action that you want them to take.
After Your Thank You Pages Are Live: Analytics and Performance Measuring
After your Thank You pages are live it is essential to keep an eye on how your calls to action are performing using Google Analytics (or another analytics tool) for internal links, and a tool like Bit.ly for external links that direct traffic to websites that you don’t own, such as Facebook. You may also consider doing heat-map testing to see how your customers are interacting with your pages, and, accordingly, what is working and what is not.
Regularly (monthly or bi-monthly) ask yourself, “Are people doing what we want them to do?” If not, can you identify where the break-down is and brainstorm potential solutions? Make sure to learn from what is working and what is not.
See you back here on Thursday when we pick up this topic again with four different goal-focused approaches you might take to create calls to action that engage, inspire, and convert.
In the meantime, have you seen any Thank You page experiences that you love? What did they do right that stuck in your mind?
If you’ve been following along with our Twitter 101 Series, you’ve been working toward strengthening your brand’s voice by increasing your Twitter following (an integral part of any internet marketing optimization campaign). Hopefully, you’ve been making strides — gaining followers by posting unique content, strategically retweeting, exercising good twittiquette and monitoring activity with TweetDeck.
Now, armed with a strong Twitter profile and the beginnings of a brand voice, it’s time to take your relationship with Twitter to the next level. That’s right. I’m talking engagement.
Great tweets packed with valuable content need to be seen by users who are searching for the information you’re sharing and the products/services you’re offering. Hashtags are what bring brands and users together.
“People use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets and help them show more easily in Twitter Search. Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets marked with that keyword. Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet – at the beginning, middle, or end. Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics.” — Twitter
Let’s say you own a bridal store and you’ve tweeted “10% off ALL wedding dresses on May 15.” Sure, your followers will see the tweet, and that’s great … but what about all the brides-to-be who aren’t following you? To grab their attention, you should utilize hashtags:
“10% off ALL wedding dresses on May 15 #wedding #weddingdress #herecomesthebride #bride”
If any potential customer searches for those hashtags, she’ll find your tweet. That’s how you engage users. You consider your potential customers’ persona (in this case, a Twitter-savvy bride-to-be looking for a dress) and use targeted hashtags, much in the same way you would target keywords on a website.
Say “I Do” to Twitter Chatting
Hashtag use extends beyond simple categorization. Hashtags are the cornerstone of Twitter chats. And Twitter chats are key to having real time conversations with potential clients, as well as like-minded professionals you can network with.
The Twitter Chat Master Schedule is open to all on Google Docs. Looking at the schedule, our hypothetical bridal shop owner might find she is interested in the weekly #Weddings2013 chat, where she can chat with potential customers and discover what topics are at the forefront of brides’ minds week to week. Or maybe she’ll participate in the #SMBFunChat, a “bi-weekly chat for small business owners” that discusses “topics that are critical to the success of a small business.”
Or maybe she has a blog on her website. Many business owners now reach customers through business blogs. Then she might be interested in #BlogChat, a popular weekly chat that occurs on Sundays at 6 p.m. PST. How do you participate? It’s easy. Just log on to Twitter at 6 p.m. and type #BlogChat. Click “all” and, voilà, you’ve created a feed of streaming tweets.
In addition allowing you to dialogue and problem solve with your customers and colleagues, Twitter chats invariably lead to more followers. Just last night, I participated in Viveka von Rosen’s #LinkedInChat (Tuesdays at 5 p.m. PT). In addition to getting some answers I’d been after regarding LinkedIn, I was able to share my latest LinkedIn article and gain new followers, all thanks to the #LinkedInChat.
This is the fairytale example of how Twitter chats are work: individuals coming together to both give and get information and create relationships in the process.
Why not take the plunge into Twitter chats to learn more about your industry, promote your brand and grow your Twitter following?
Your brand voice and Twitter chat — they’re a match made in Tweaven.
For more from our Twitter 101 series, check out:
- 10 Basic Steps to Increasing Your Twitter Following
- Twitter’s 5 Best Friends — TweetDeck, Bitly, TwitLonger and More
- Get Retweeted! Taking Dan Zarrella’s Advice
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the Twitter 101 Series. If you have Twitter tricks and tips of your own, please share them in the comments!
Tired of Spam and Unwanted Email? 4 Steps to Optimize Your Inbox was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
Have you ever had more than 1,000 unread emails in your inbox, 95 percent of which you have no interest in opening? Sure, you delete an email here or there, but sifting through them all to make sure you’re not deleting anything you might actually want to read can be daunting, especially when you know you’ll only have hundreds more to sort through in the coming week (or day, in particularly bad cases).
And that’s how the email problem grows, with more and more messages cluttering your inbox until you just want to delete the whole account and start over. But you can’t. Because that email is connected to Amazon, Paypal, eBay, Chase, Groupon, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., and deleting it would just cause hassle of a different kind. Not to mention the fact that that email is perhaps the address you’ve established a professional reputation with.
I’ve been there, trapped in the vortex of spam and press releases I NEVER SIGNED UP FOR. I felt victorious if I could manage to keep the number of emails in my inbox under 1,000. As for only getting emails I cared about, well, that seemed like fantasy.
But then I decided I’d had enough after momentarily considering switching to a new email account. I stopped in my tracks, realizing that was tantamount to letting the spam win. And I refused to do that.
And thus began my attack on unwanted emails.
The first step, which I’d taken dozens of times before, was to clear out my inbox. This step, however, is an exercise in futility if you’re not going to actually STOP the spam from coming back. So this time, I did things differently.
These four productivity tips helped me take my email account back from the spammers.
4-Pronged Attack on Spam/Unwanted Email
1. Identify a sender who repeatedly sends you unwanted email. Don’t take the lazy way out and just delete their emails. Take the time to open one and UNSUBSCRIBE. After unsubscribing, search your email for that sender’s address. Now, it’s safe to delete everything that populates in your results list. And since you’ve unsubscribed, you shouldn’t be hearing from them again.
2. According to the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM) passed into law in 2003 under George W. Bush, all commercial emails are required to have an unsubscribe feature.
“While some senders of commercial electronic mail messages provide simple and reliable ways for recipients to reject (or ‘opt-out’ of) receipt of commercial electronic mail from such senders in the future, other senders provide no such ‘opt-out’ mechanism, or refuse to honor the requests of recipients not to receive electronic mail from such senders in the future, or both.” — CAN-SPAM Section 2.9
And yet, despite this law, I found that many of my unwanted emails had no option to opt-out, unsubscribe, cancel or “reject, ” but no matter — I was determined to get off these email lists one way or another. When there is no unsubscribe option, send the following email:
Please take [insertyouremailaddress] off this email list. Thank you!
No need to be rude or angry. This email is short, to the point, and half the time, you get a response with something equally brief, like “Done!” And that is how you successfully rid yourself of one more unwanted email strain. Repeat steps one and two until your inbox is free from spam and unwanted email.
3. Creating folders allows you to easily manage your emails moving forward. This is a best practice when it comes to email, as it keeps your inbox clean to easily deal with incoming mail and not get bogged down in emails you’ve already read but want to save. I, for example, have seven folders within my email: Mom, Friends, Shopping/Coupons, Daily Deals, Work, Writing and Other. If there’s an email I want to keep, it will fit into one of these folders, which I can easily move into folder, keeping my inbox fresh and clean.
4. Once your have your email all sorted out, you certainly don’t want it to revert to its chaotic former self. Stay on top of your inbox by dealing with unwanted email as soon as you see it. If you save it for later, you run the risk of the unwanted emails climbing into the hundreds again. So when unwanted emails crop up, combat them once again with step one and two.
What do you do to combat unwanted email and keep your inbox clean? Tell us in the comments.
How to Save Your Marriage with Content Marketing Strategy (Yes, You Heard Me Right) was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
Imagine: How much better would our relationships be if we all took the time to figure out who we are (truly, at the heart of it all), who we want to be, and how we can best represent our true selves to the world with honesty, consistency, and integrity? What if, armed with this new self-knowledge, we were all able to retain a focused approach to problem solving, think before we speak about who we are speaking to and how we should speak to them, and then communicate in a way that reflects forethought and consideration for listeners?
What if we were actively self-reflective and made an effort not only to observe and be aware of the cause and effect that our participation in the world inspires, but also learn from what’s working and what’s not and take action to make changes that inspire more good things and fewer bad things?
We’d all be much better people and have better relationships to show for it.
OK. Now imagine how much stronger your content marketing and optimization could be if you applied the same principals?
If you’re thinking to yourself “OK, all that touchy-feely kumbaya hippie stuff is all fine and dandy, but how does getting in touch with my inner-self translate to improving my SERP rank and making me more money?” here’s the answer:
Conversions and making money are all an (important!) part of search marketing—but, lucky for us (in my opinion), we are in a “Content is King“ age where creating purposeful content that truly matters to the end-user is the heart of search marketing, and thus, the heart of what improves SERP ranks and brings in the big bucks.
Where Relationships Meet Rankings
What if every article you wrote was part of a content strategy that focused on communicating with intent to an audience whose voice and preferences you knew well?
What if you took time to reflect on who you are as a brand and what it is you stand for to established a brand voice that accurately represents the best you possible?
What if you knew the needs of your company and the needs of your demographic before you started writing so that you could deliver focused communication that helps to solve problems?
And, finally, what if you were able to try some new tactics without fear (all within the safe boundaries of your newly identified brand voice and parameters), keep track of and analyze how well those efforts are meeting your goals, and make adjustments to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t?
Do you see the dollar signs now?
With any relationship—whether it be between you and your wife, or you and your target market — it’s all about creating communication that is pointed, compelling and purposeful. When you’re all over the place, and you’re speaking as the yellow M&M when your audience is the green M&M, it shows.
Accordingly, when you put a little kumbaya into your content and approach your communication strategy and optimization from a focused place that takes into account audience voice, preferences and need, it also shows. And it pays.
Not Cutting Corners and Genuinely Giving a Hoot Will Get You Far In Life
People like to connect with other people who are consistent, honest, interesting, helpful, engaging, and fun to be around. People make connections when they identify with the person they are talking to, and relationships founded on ethical behavior and mindful communications tend to not only last but grow and prosper.
In a nutshell, improving your relationship with Google is a lot like improving any relationship you value and requires focus, reflection, solid communication, ethical behavior, the ability to learn from experience, and the willingness to make changes even when changes are hard.
Said another way — not cutting corners and genuinely giving a hoot will get you far in life. (If you don’t believe me, try lying to your wife and phoning in your communication for a week. Her wrath is probably much scarier than Google Panda and Penguin combined.)
Later this week we’ll pick up this topic again with a hands-on list that will show you how to get started creating a content marketing and optimization strategy that is infused with best practices and kumbaya.
In the meantime, can you think of any content marketing or SEO best practices that might help a relationship in need?
10 Steps to Improve Your Content Strategy (and Your Marriage, If You’re Into That) was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
It’s a very, say… interesting… point in your career as a search marketer when you begin to draw parallels between the optimization you do for websites, and the (potential or actual) “optimization” you do for your own personal growth purposes. And I don’t mean “myself as a brand” personal growth purposes — I mean straight-up “improve my relationship with that grouchy lady who lives next door, and while I am at it probably my husband, too” personal growth purposes.
As you may recall, earlier this week I wrote a blog post called How to Save Your Marriage with Content Marketing Strategy and officially crossed over into “that point” in my career.
This week’s post takes last week’s concept to the next level with 10 actionable agenda items that, if approached with thought and care, can help you improve your content strategy, optimization, and — if you choose to drink the Kool-Aid — interpersonal relationships.
It should be noted that along with not actually being married, I am also not a doctor, so please take the “marriage advice” (should we venture to call it that) offered in this article with a grain of salt.
10 Steps to Improve Your Content Strategy and Your Marriage
I recommend writing your responses to each of these action items down. It’s easier to make decisions with all the information laid out in front of you. If you are a business your responses to these action items could influence your brand style guide and communication guidelines (two integral documents necessary to keep your writing and optimization teams on the same page and consistent).
1) Establish Your Brand Voice, Style, and Goals
Establishing your brand voice and style starts by clarifying who you are, who you want to be, and what you want to accomplish. Are you the green M&M or the yellow one? How do you think people perceive you? Do you like how (you think) people perceive you? If not, brainstorm small ways you might be able to represent your true self more accurately.
With a firm grip on who you are, and who you want to be, consider writing a brand or department mission statement.
Helpful link: Building a Brand With Your Online Voice
How This Exercise Can Help You Save Your Marriage:
Many conflicts are rooted in miscommunication. If you don’t know who you are there’s a good chance your communication and the way you present yourself is all over the place, which means you’re on a dead-end road straight to misunderstanding and relationship conflictville. Also, it’s invaluable to learn how to identify and express what you want/expect out of a relationship. Getting everyone on the same page, saying what you mean, and meaning what you say can get you far. It’s a little clinical, but if your relationship feels like a mess you may find it useful to write a mission statement that clearly identifies the reason for the relationship — why you’re both there — and what you want to get out of it.
2) Set Some Goals
Broad over-arching statements like “I want to fix everything” never get anyone anywhere. Be specific. “I want my website to be within the top five search results for [x] search term” or “I want to fight less with my wife about money.” Goals give you an actionable place to start and help you to focus, prioritize, and identify success.
Helpful link: Using Web Analytics to Measure Internet Marketing Goals
3) Take a Baseline Analysis
Take an analysis of where you’re at. You can’t just jump in and start trying to fix things if you don’t know exactly what is wrong.
Consider what am I doing well? What am I doing really, really bad? What am I doing in a half-hearted, contrived, or unethical way? If you have Google Analytics installed, create a spreadsheet to document some baseline figures. These figures might include time on site, conversion rate, pages visited, organic traffic, bounce rate, and exit page. You might also consider including social media baseline metrics like number of Likes or social reach. It all depends on what your goals are.
For the items on your list that you identify as not so hot, you’ll have to decide in the planning stage (step 6) whether you want to work on making your flops function better, or scrap them all together.
4) Competitive Analysis
Look at other brands and individuals in your industry. What are they doing? How are they succeeding? How does their brand presence/experience differ from yours? What can you learn from them?
Helpful link: Spy vs. Spy: Competitive Analysis
How This Exercise Can Help You Save Your Marriage:
First, when approaching this as a relationship improvement, it might be best to not think of it as competitive analysis as it may not be healthy to consider other people and outside relationships as “competitors.” (Yikes.) It is, on the other hand, worthwhile to consider taking some time to honestly observe how other individuals and couples function. What can you learn from the way they don’t lose their temper over jelly in grocery stores? How about the way they interact? What are they doing that is working, and what are they doing that is really, really not working? Unlike search marketing where you can’t ask your competitors how they optimize their website to get better SERP results, you actually can ask your friends what they do and how they deal with X problem. Take advantage of this open communication and make an effort to learn from others.
5) Think About Your Target Demographic and Develop Personas
Think about the people who you want to connect with. Ask yourself: who do I need to connect with in order to make my goal(s) happen and how do I need to connect with them? What mediums do they use to communicate with their peers? What activities are they receptive to and what really rubs them the wrong way? The goal is to get as much of a 360-degree understanding of who your current and potential clients/members/readers are. (You should decide what you want to call them internally as part of the style-guide you started in action item number one.)
Do you and your clients talk the same? If not, is there a happy place in the middle where your two styles overlap? Can you find keyword phrases that tell you exactly how they enter search queries and work that exact language into your content? Try to find that sweet spot that allows you to stay true to yourself while also communicating in a way that resonates with your receiver.
Helpful link: Web Personas: Creating Jane
How This Exercise Can Help You Save Your Marriage:
Getting to know your mate’s personality and preferences is invaluable. If he doesn’t drive, putting a note on the steering wheel of a car for him to see won’t work. If he’s hard of hearing, speaking really softly isn’t going to work. If he doesn’t know what “new digs” are you’re headed face-first into another miscommunication dead end. Listen to him. Take cues from how he talks to other people and how he talks to you and learn to use language that resonates with both of you. Be observant enough to notice when he responds in a negative way or not at all to your communication efforts, and then be agile enough to apply more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
6) Make a Plan
With your responses to the above introspections written down you can start to make a plan.
You have a lot of good ideas, now it’s time to decide what your priorities are. What do you work on first, second, third? What is going to make the most impact? What resources do you have? How do you define success? Do you need outside help from a contractor or a tool, or can you do it all yourself?
Take this time to make sure you’ve clearly defined in as much detail as possible what it is that you want to accomplish and how you’ll know when you succeed.
7) Get Your Ducks in a Row: Do You Have What You Need to Start?
Remember, if your goals are to connect with humans and soar in the SERPs it’s critical to make sure that your communication is accessible to both humans and search spiders.
Make sure the technical side of your blog or website is up to par. If all of your content is inside of a giant .JPG image, it’s equal to using black ink on black paper in Google’s eyes. If you don’t know anything about search spiders or technical SEO, consider hiring a consultant to make sure your website is working with you not against you.
Are you talking to MySpace when all of your consumers are on Facebook? Use your persona research to make sure you are using the social networks your clients and potential clients are using.
How This Exercise Can Help You Save Your Marriage:
In any relationship it’s important to figure out what your listener needs. Are they hearing you? Do they need you to communicate with them in sign language? Do you need to write it down? It’s very possible that you may think you’ve been communicating loud and clear this whole time and they’ve never heard a word. To make sure the lines of communication are open, this may be a good time to seek outside help. There’s nothing wrong with hiring a consultant — or in this case, a therapist — to help guide your communication strategy with some unbiased professional insights.
8) Improve Communication and Apply What You’ve Learned
Now that you know where you stand, it’s time to start working on actual communication. What is your audience interested in? What would help them? What problems do they have? All those questions you asked yourself above are now more relevant than ever. Take that information and create a content strategy that helps solidify your brand as an industry expert who not only cares about what they’re doing but actually enjoys it. Create content that helps solve problems, build relationships, and answer questions.
Content is King, and truly the heart of solid search engine optimization (SEO) in 2013. You have to use words, and you’re going to get a lot farther if you put time and thought into using the right words. What defines the “right” words? Again, the “right” words are the words that resonate with your target market and accurately describe you, your products, and your content topics in a way that is informative, engaging, helpful, or otherwise worth sharing. Always keep in mind that you want to help in a balanced way that is genuine and not salesey.
Helpful link: Writing Great Content for Websites and Spiders
How This Exercise Can Help You Save Your Marriage:
I think it’s pretty obvious how clear, focused, communication founded on giving a hoot can help your marriage. In a sentence, all of our relationships could benefit from a bit more time spent thinking about what we’re going to say and how we’re going to say it before we open our mouths.
Oh, and I hope this goes without saying but please try to talk in a way that resonates with your wife… don’t try to talk like your wife. This is one distinct area where the worlds of relationship communication and optimization communication diverge paths. If you’re stalking the Internet for things your wife might say so that you can say them back to her, you’ve gone too far.
9) Be Ethical
Be ethical and don’t try to cut corners or you may risk experiencing the wrath of the Google Penguin or Panda penalties. In a sentence: just do what is right and don’t try to cheat the system. Take the time to implement a strong content strategy that helps people, perform persona and keyword research to dial your language in just right, and work on bridging gaps between you and your target market. If you build it, they will come.
How This Exercise Can Help You Save Your Marriage:
I assume this goes without saying, but, if you want to improve your relationship acting in a transparent way that both parties consider ethical is a must. Don’t lie, cheat, misrepresent information, or otherwise try to trick your partner. Even if it’s working right now they are going to find out and then you’re going to be much, much worse off (usually the result of unethical behavior in a relationship is far more severe than a “penalty”).
10) Observe, Analyze, Learn, Grow, Repeat
Keep learning and growing. The industry changes, your goals change, and people change, so your strategy should change and grow too. Stay observant. If things are going well, don’t check out. Learn from what is going well and do more of it, or figure out ways to integrate what is successful about campaign A into not-so-successful campaign B.
If things aren’t going well, really, really don’t check out. Keep track of the data, stay in tune with your demographic, and communicate internally about your goals both month-over-month and year-over-year.
Be agile, learn from your mistakes, and remember what works for “everyone else” might not necessarily work for you.
Helpful link: Learn to prioritize, analyze, refresh, and optimize your strategy with this 16-step content audit.
How This Exercise Can Help You Save Your Marriage:
Since there are no line graphs pointing to the right and down to indicate when a relationship is failing it takes a bit more conscious effort to recognize when things aren’t going so well, and, actually, when things are going well (ah, isn’t the grass always greener on the other side?). People grow and change and it is important that your relationship also grows and changes. Don’t check out. Stay in-tuned to how you feel and the ebb and flow of the day to day. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t and don’t be afraid to step totally out of your comfort zone to explore new territory in your relationship — just keep the communication open, and keep it ethical.
What content strategy, optimization, or interpersonal relationship best practices would you add to this list?
Keep SEO Intact: 3 Keys to Maintaining Site Security was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
AP Twitter Hack Calls to Mind Site Security
Less than a week ago, the tweet heard ’round the world alarmed The Associated Press’ nearly 2 million followers when the news agency’s official Twitter account announced White House explosions and an injured President. The tweet was a fake, the result of a hack allegedly perpetrated by the Syrian Electronic Army, and served as a stern reminder that anyone, anywhere can be hacked at any time.
The work you’ve put into optimizing a site is all for naught if a black hat compromises your site security and derails the traffic you’ve fought for.
In terms of SEO, a common damage a hacker can do is inject code into your site in order to steal traffic or even to harm your site. Such black hat practices often result in your own site losing ranking or earning malware warnings which will certainly dissuade potential visitors from proceeding to your site.
“You need to be really, really careful,” says Bruce. “Hackers can install bad links onto your site that no one can see. But the search engines will see the bad links and the (unwitting) site owner could be penalized.”
When a hacker installs bad links on a site, he does so in an effort to make money by stealing your traffic. “For many cyber criminals, the motivation (to hack) is financial,” Google Programming Tech Lead Maile Ohye explains in the “Helped for Hacked Websites” video from Google Webmaster Help.
1. Keep SEO Intact Through Vigilance
“Pay a lot of attention to your website to see if it’s behaving in strange and wondrous ways,” says Bruce. “If you really want to analyze SEO, you have to consider redirects or hidden links.”
That means you have to regularly check your website for breaches of site security. “If you own a website, you are ultimately the person responsible for the integrity of that website and you have an obligation to periodically check against intruders,” explains Bruce.
2. Be Aware of Vulnerabilities
Bruce Clay has seen a lot of sites be compromised through plugins.
“In WordPress, you can install modifications,” Bruce says. “When you install modifications on WordPress, WordPress keeps track of them and automatically looks for updates. However, some of the modifications in turn use other modifications and those secondary modifications don’t make it into WordPress’ automatic update list.”
Site owners, therefore, need to stay on top of secondary updates. By keeping plugins up-to-date, any known security holes you may have will be patched, and therefore, your site is protected (for the time being, at least; hackers will always be on the lookout for a fresh vulnerability).
3. Touch Base with Webmaster Tools
Within the ever-helpful Google Webmaster Tools, site owners can verify ownership of their sites and manage who is authorized to modify their sites. Here, site owners can also monitor their sites’ settings to make sure no unwanted changes have been made. For example:
“In the Webmaster Tools side navigation, select Configuration, then Settings to check for possible undesirable changes by the hacker such as a lower Crawl rate (perhaps with the goal to avoid search engine spiders). Also, check that nothing unusual is listed in the section Optimization > Remove URLs or Configuration > Change of Address.”
– “Help for Hacked Sites,” Google Webmaster Tools
Actively studying your site for “strange and wondrous behavior,” keeping your plugins up-to-date and taking advantage of Google Webmaster Tools are three key strategies to ensure your site is secure!
Have more tips on keeping your site secure? Share them in the comments!
SEO Newsletter April 2013: The Penguin & Panda Evasion Edition was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
The SEO Newsletter is hot off the virtual press! In April’s Penguin & Panda Evasion Edition, readers will get inside information on what to expect from the upcoming Penguin update, how to ensure your content meets Panda standards and how to maintain long-lasting customer relationships.
Preparing for Penguin
In Expecting and Escaping Google Penguin’s Wrath, I interviewed Bruce to find out what we can expect from the Penguin update. At last month’s SMX West conference, Matt Cutts said, in no uncertain terms, that a Penguin update was on its way. Bruce shared advice on how to stay on the Google’s good side and avoid Penguin-associated penalties.
We didn’t forget about Penguin’s friend Panda. While Penguin seeks to obliterate sites using black hat SEO techniques, Panda is on a mission to sink low-quality sites, like those with duplicate, unoriginal content.
Therefore, Virginia set out to discover how Panda processes curated content. A series of tests performed last year show that curation with enhanced annotation, or “Editorialized Curation,” is SEO-Friendly Content Curation in a Post-Panda World. Content curation is the practice of collecting, organizing and presenting content (like news articles, blog posts, infographics, etc.) around a topic. Knowing that not all businesses have the luxury of an in-house media team, content curation can be a useful and time-saving tool that generates frequent, quality content that has SEO ranking potential.
Customer Relations and Everything Else
The Tips for Long Lasting Customer Relations series continues with tips on Customer Interaction and Communication. Bruce Clay Australia SEO analyst Manuel Keppeler shares twelve key best practices when it comes to interacting with customers and clients.
The SEO Newsletter also has the latest on Google Glass and information on the highly-anticipated SMX Advanced, where both Bruce and Virginia will be speaking, plus a roundup of all the tech, SEO and SMM news that was big in April.
like love the SEO Newsletter, you can get it mailed directly to your mailbox by signing up.
Twitter Series 101: Get Retweeted! Taking Dan Zarrella’s Advice was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
At the start of this Twitter 101 series, we set about exploring strategies to increase our Twitter following, knowing that an increased Twitter following leads to a stronger brand voice and social media campaign.
As your following increases, there are additional goals to strive for, like earning retweets. Earning retweets exposes your messages to a broader audience as your follower’s followers see your tweets via retweets. According to “the social media scientist” Dan Zarrella, “the likelihood of a tweet being retweeted increases dramatically each time it is retweeted.”
Dan is widely renowned for his social media savvy, hailed by Rand Fishkin as “someone whose expertise is backed by more data than nearly anyone else in the marketing field”). In his various reports, Dan explores what works and what doesn’t when it comes to retweeting.
- More than 50 percent of all retweets contain links.
- Nearly 1.5 percent of overall tweets are retweets.
- Retweets use longer words and require a more advanced reading level than tweets.
- 2:30 p.m. is the peak time for retweeting.
10 Most ReTweetable Words
- Nearly 80 percent of all retweets are news-related.
- Retweets that contain a self-reference are less likely to be retweeted.
- Retweets that mention Twitter are more likely to be retweeted than those that mention Facebook.
- Simply asking for a retweet can boost a tweet’s retweetability.
20 Least ReTweetable Words
Dan’s research yields useful information to think about when crafting your tweets. Keep these factors in mind as you create tweets that will hopeful lead to retweets. And remember, always leave 20 characters at the end of your tweet so users can easily add “via @ ____” when retweeting your tweet. To read more from Dan, check out his latest book The Science of Marketing: When to Tweet, What to Post, How to Blog, and Other Proven Strategies, published this month.
Can an Upgraded Account Help Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile? was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
Logged into LinkedIn lately? If you have, you might have noticed LinkedIn offers a free 30-day trial if you’d like to upgrade to a premium account.
An upgraded account can be a good option for job seekers, who can use an upgraded account to be “featured applicants,” or recruiters, who can contact users outside their networks. An upgraded account is also beneficial to anyone who wants more insights into his or her user engagement.
Curious as always — and never one to pass up a deal — I signed up, wondering if a premium account could aid in optimizing a profile.
Benefits of Upgrading
A LinkedIn Premium account offers expanded search results, the ability to contact users outside your network and a tool to bookmark and annotate profiles. This upgraded account also affords the ability to display an OpenLink or the gold “In” badge. As an upgraded account holder, you can opt in to the OpenLink network, which signifies that anyone on LinkedIn can message you directly at no cost. When you choose to use a gold “In” badge, it is displayed next to your name in search results and on your profile — another way to stand out in a sea of silver “In” badges.
With an upgraded account, you can also see a complete list of who has viewed you with the “Profile Stats Pro” tool. Profile Stats Pro also shows your views by industry and by location. You can also monitor what keywords you’ve come up for in searches through Profile Stats Pro. I, for example, learned that my profile ranks for “Kristi Kellogg,” “Bruce Clay, Inc.,” “editor” and “CSUN,” among other things.
The Profile Stats Pro tool might be the most useful aspect of an upgraded account, as it allows users a deeper understanding of who is searching for them and moreover, how they’re searching for them.
In a post last week, I stressed the importance of promoting yourself (and therefore your business or brand) by optimizing your profile. Using the Profile Stats Pro tool, you can monitor how you’re doing.
Cost of Upgrading
The cost of an upgraded account varies. There are four types of accounts: Linkedin Premium accounts, job seeker accounts, recruiter accounts and accounts for sales professionals. Those account choices can be customized further, leading to differing price points across the board. The type of account I’ve been using and writing about here is the Linkedin Premium Business Plus account, which, after the free 30-day trial, will run you $49.95/month thereafter.
There’s No Harm in Trying It
The great thing about the 30-day free trial is it allows you to see if it’s a wise investment for you and your business without any risk (just don’t forget to cancel it before the 30 days if you’re not going to keep it).
Upgraded accounts are gaining popularity. In an interview with Reuters, LinkedIn spokeswoman Julie Inouye reported that in 2012, premium subscriptions revenues totaled $37.9 million in the first quarter, representing a 91 percent increase from the 2011.
Has having the LinkedIn Premium Business account aided my campaign to optimize my profile? The gold “In” badge and the OpenLink badge certainly help my profile stand out, but the worth of the upgraded account is really found in the analytics and expanded search and messaging capabilities — and that comes in handy when I want to see if my optimization is working.
Have you tried an upgraded LinkedIn account? What was your experience? Share with us in the comments.
Twitter 101 Series: Twitter’s 5 Best Friends — TweetDeck, Bitly, TwitLonger and More was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
Whether you want to more closely examine your Twitter following, view multiple accounts, shorten a link or get tweeting inspiration, we recommend these five helpful Twitter companion apps and sites.
And as part of our Twitter 101 series, we’ve made sure these sites are all beginner-friendly, while still useful for twittizens from way back.
To shorten a link
140 characters isn’t the biggest of spaces and when you add a link to the mix, that space shrinks dramatically. That’s where Bitly comes in handy. Give Bitly a regular link URL and it will shrink it down to a bite-size portion, leaving you valuable room to # and @ to your heart’s delight. Bitly also lets you create bitmarks—bookmarks by bitly—that you can save, group and share with friends.
Using Bitly, this post’s link changes from “http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/2013/04/twitter-101-twitter-companions/” to http://bit.ly/17tue2f. Now which would you rather tweet?
To cheat the 140 character limit
TwitLonger also understands the challenge of the 140 character limit. So they came up with a workaround. On the rare occasion that your tweet can’t possibly be compressed to 140 characters, compose your tweet with TwitLonger. Anything that goes beyond the microblog limits will be contained in a link. The link leads to a TwitLonger page that provides the rest of your expansive tweet. Tweeting multiple tweets to finish a verbose thought is bad Twitter form, so using TwitLonger is a great option for times when 140 characters just doesn’t cut it.
To view multiple Twitter accounts simultaneously
TweetDeck is an incredibly helpful dashboard that gives you a bird’s eye view of your Twitter account(s). With TweetDeck, you can easily toggle between multiple Twitter accounts and customize feeds to show streams of who has mentioned you or interacted with you, what is trending, who/what your followers are interacting with, etc. With TweetDeck, you can also schedule tweets for different times, as well as issue the same tweet from multiple accounts simultaneously.
To better understand Twitter users
Followerwonk allows users to track, sort and search your social graph. You can search analyze your followers’ locations and bios; compare your Twitter health to that of your competitors’; and match your Twitter activities to gains and losses. explore your followers’ bios. Like TweetDeck, you can toggle between multiple Twitter accounts. FollowerWonk, which is an SEOmoz app, has a pro account and a free account.
To find great things to share
If you’re ever looking for something to share on Twitter, Stuff To Tweet is a good source for finding things that are making waves on the Web. Stuff To Tweet aggregates the top posts on CNN, the New York Times, Youtube, Lifehacker, TMZ, Mashable, Digg, Del.iciou.us Daily Motion, Craig’s List, Amazon and more.
For more from our Twitter 101 series, check out 10 Basic Steps to Increasing Your Twitter Following from last week! Stay tuned for more of the Twitter 101 series, brought to you by @KristiKellogg via the @BruceClayInc blog.
With more than 200 million users, there’s a good chance you have a LinkedIn profile. So, you’re linked in, but are you standing out? Having a LinkedIn profile is a great way to promote yourself (and by association, your business or brand) while connecting with like-minded professionals and potential employers. You can make the most out of your LinkedIn profile by tailoring it to appear in queries and designing it with optimum performance in mind.
Think about keywords
Just like in a Google search, LinkedIn’s results are based on algorithms. If you want your profile to come up as a top search result, you’ll need to optimize it. As with webpages, you should first think of what keywords you want to lead to your profile.
Let’s say there’s a professional dancer who has taught ballet, ballroom, jazz, tango and Latin dance. She’s created a LinkedIn profile to connect with other professionals, and to find new opportunities to teach and perform. She’s focused primarily on tango and Latin dance. That means she wants to optimize her LinkedIn content for just that: Latin dance, tango and the words they are associated with. Throughout her summary and job descriptions, she’ll use the keyword: tango, the keyword phrase: Latin dance, and the keywords associated with Latin dance: salsa, mambo and cha cha, for example.
When inputting “Dance Teacher at Studio 5678″ in experience, she should make sure to also include a description underneath: “I specialized in teaching Argentine tango to advanced students, and choreographed tango, salsa, mambo and cha cha routines for performers. Five of my tango students went on to win national competitions.” Consider your job descriptions valuable space to insert keywords; don’t leave them blank.
The same goes for the summary. Our hypothetical dance teacher will want to highlight her experience, creating a well-written description of her dance accomplishments and interests, making sure to drop those words intentionally and naturally.
That way, when a potential connection searches for “tango dancer,” she’ll come up. So, when you think about your own LinkedIn profile, consider what words you want to come up for and implement them.
Another best practice is to forge connections. Have you noticed that your connections factor into your search results? As in, those who you know come up on or toward page one? That means the more connections (1st, 2nd and 3rd) you have, and therefore the more networks you are in, the more likely you will come up when in a user’s search.
In an effort to expand your network, allow LinkedIn to utilize your email account(s) to find contacts you already know. It’s also helpful to download the mobile LinkedIn app, which can take it a step further and use your phone book to find contacts. Using your already existing contacts is a great first step to building your connections.
Next, you’ll want to join groups. Your groups should serve as a connection tool, and as another area to highlight your professional interests. Let’s go back to our dance teacher. She can mouse over to groups, type in “dance” and she’ll find 1, 584 results, among them “Dance Industry Professionals Worldwide” and “Dance Teachers/Studio Owners.” If she types in “tango” she’ll discover “Argentine Tango & Business.” If she becomes a part of these groups, she’ll have more opportunities to interact with the like-minded professionals and potential employers she was looking for!
Joining groups will naturally lead to connections, while also further associate her with the keywords and phrases she is targeting. And in an ideal world, she’ll also learn more about her industry from the peers in her group.
But it’s not just about connections. You want to make sure your profile is testament to you, your work ethic and your skills. In addition to optimizing your summary and job experience, make sure you have a clear head shot that portrays you looking capable and confident (don’t ever leave your profile picture blank, and please avoid selfies and glamor shots).
It is also in your best interest to reach out to your connections and ask for recommendations and endorsements. Logging into LinkedIn and finding an endorsement is always a pleasant surprise, and sometimes your connections will do it on their own. But don’t be shy about politely asking for endorsements and recommendations if you’re deserving of them! And don’t forget to endorse and recommend others who deserve it; a job well done deserved to be acknowledged!
Finally, optimizing your profile doesn’t do much good if your visibility settings are set to private. My profile—and the activity associated with it—is visible to everyone. While LinkedIn is social, it is first and foremost professional. The content and information on your profile should be material you want the world to see.
In addition to your individual profile, LinkedIn offers company profiles, as well. Visit the Bruce Clay company profile or read more on optimizing company profiles in our LinkedIn for Business series.
Following “First Terrorist Attacks of the Social Media Generation,” Twitter and Facebook Prove Invaluable was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
Yesterday’s terrorist attack in Boston occurred at 2:56 p.m., with back-to-back explosions as runners finished the Boston Marathon. Immediately, people took to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to share news, pictures, thoughts and prayers. By 4 p.m., there were 38,000 tweets containing “Boston.” By 6 p.m., that figure rose to 62,468, and by 7 p.m., the total number of tweets regarding Boston was at 96,923.
In the immediate aftermath of what ABC News called “the first terrorist attacks of the social media generation,” social media proved its worth as a source of information.
Many people were without cellphones, and those that did have them struggled to get service as heavy usage flooded the cellular networks. Facebook and Twitter were valuable resources as runners and spectators on the scene were able to use tweet their locations to the people they were trying to locate or to alert friends and family afar of their statuses.
One such runner, Alison Raitt, couldn’t find her friends after the race, but was able to check their Facebook pages: “My friends finished after me, so the explosion happened right before they finished. They’re all safe, I learned from Facebook — the power of social media,” Raitt said in an interview with ABC.
The power of social media surged throughout Monday and Tuesday, with Twitter aggregating all news surrounding the terrorist attack in real time. Through various news sources, Twitter users were updated on the FBI investigation and the death and injury tolls. Many pictures of heroism and tragedy surfaced on Twitter. There were also tweets containing snippets of public statements and Barack Obama’s morning address, as well as myriad expressions of grief and offers of prayers.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) April 16, 2013
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) April 15, 2013
— West Wing Reports (@WestWingReport) April 16, 2013
Meanwhile, Facebook served as a platform for powerful posts that resonated with the nation. Yesterday, actor and comedian Patton Oswalt used Facebook to share his thoughts regarding the tragedy.
He issued words of comfort, concluding that “when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.’” His post quickly went viral.
As of 3 p.m. today, his Facebook post was liked by more than 300,000 people and shared by more than 200,000. It also earned nearly 13,000 comments.
Thomas Grilk, the executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, used The Boston Marathon Facebook page to issue a statement:
The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) extends its deepest sympathies to all those who were affected by Monday’s tragic events. Those who lost their lives and were injured are in our thoughts and prayers. It is a sad day for the City of Boston, for the running community, and for all those who were here to enjoy the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. What was intended to be a day of joy and celebration quickly became a day in which running a marathon was of little importance. … We would like to thank the countless people from around the world who have reached out to support us over the last 24 hours. (read the full statement)
On the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Dean Praetorius of the Huffington Post wrote How Social Media Changed New York on 9/11. Praetorius wrote that, as a thirteen-year-old, he wasn’t able to get in contact with his parents until the late afternoon:
“That day cellphones were virtually useless, phone lines were more than tied up, and in terms of communication, that was pretty much it. The internet existed, but it was still a shade of its current self when it comes to connecting people … Social media would undoubtedly have painted a clearer picture of what happened inside the towers in 2001 …
(Social media) would have given many the ability to say goodbye one last time, giving some families closure if their loved ones were never found. For others a chance to say they had made it out.
For the rest of New York, for people like my parents, it would have provided a means to quickly and easily tell the world they were out of harm’s way. One person can only remember to call so many people. A Facebook update or a tweet could have said, “I’m fine, worry about everyone else who needs help.”
Judging by the response to Boston’s terrorist attack, Praetorius is right. Social media has indeed proved itself as a powerful tool in the wake of a terrorist attack.
Google also proved useful, launching People Finder, allowing people to share the known statuses of runners and spectators. And in Google Docs, people created a live document where Boston residents were able to offer their homes to those who had been evacuated from their hotels.
As of 5 p.m. today, there have been 244,332 tweets about Boston. That number will assuredly increase as more becomes clear about yesterday’s events.
How has social media changed affected your experience of a crisis or disaster? Share with us in the comments.
Should Brands Go Dark on Social Media After Disaster? was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
There’s a new best practice in social media marketing. In an era where communications is continuous and real-time, there’s a directive to go dark in times of disaster.
When the last public tragedy occurred (maybe it was the Sandy Hook shooting) I saw a number of brands I follow on social media announce they’d be taking a moment of silence for the remainder of the day out of respect or remembrance for the victims of the horrific events that occurred.
After Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing, one of the fashion blogs I follow tweeted this:
Hearts go out to loved ones known and unknown in Boston. Moment of silence the rest of the day for victims of senseless violence everywhere.
— refinery29 (@Refinery29) April 15, 2013
Scott Monty, Ford Motor Company’s highly visible social media marketer with more than 90k Twitter followers, put it into words:
— CASIE STEWART (@casiestewart) April 15, 2013
The reply from Casie Stewart describes how one social media management software actually alerted users to the fact that something happened in the public sphere, and while I didn’t see exactly what this reminder said, I can only assume it suggested that users watch out for being too chatty the rest of the day.
If anyone reading is a Social Sprout user, I’d be very interested to know exactly what the notification said, because here’s the thing.
I’m not sold on this new directive.
Bringing business as usual to a screeching halt is quite the opposite of “keep calm and carry on” and it could be argued it gives power to the terrorists.
More importantly, however, we all agree that social media is a brilliant tool for disseminating news and having shared experiences. As Kristi recounted on the blog yesterday, Twitter and Facebook acted as connective tissue for a traumatized nation. The reason that social media can be used so readily as a warning system and a gathering place to grieve is because it’s woven into the thread of how we communicate. It’s part of our lives.
To cut out commerce from that fabric is to label it as less than good. It implies that there’s something dirty about business, and when things become serious we should really stop indulging in such uncouth behavior. It’s insensitive to engage in frivolous behavior when people are dying. Except, what’s frivolous about marketing when a business’s success supports families and individuals, puts food on the table?
Commerce, with its offspring marketing, is an important vein in the global body, transporting financial life blood throughout the world. Doing business can’t be treated as less good or a luxury appropriate only in times of prosperity, and so I’d like to discourage an attitude that looks down on brands for continuing to do their work after a tragic event.
Let’s not give so much power to tragedy that it paralyzes us. If you feel moved to be silent, then let yourself process in the way that feels right. Then recognize that grief doesn’t take one form. For some, healing comes from continuing on with life.
I’d love your thoughts on this emerging attitude, agree or disagree. It can be so hard to understand how things like the Boston Marathon bombing can happen. Any ideas about how senseless tragedy can be better processed through the public experience is a welcome lesson.
Twitter 101 Series: 10 Basic Steps to Increasing Your Twitter Following was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
Brands on Twitter have one thing in common (besides their love of microblogging): they want to increase their following! The bigger your Twitter following, the more your voice is heard. And the more your voice is heard, the stronger your brand becomes. Twitter is a integral part of social media marketing.
This series is geared towards those businesses just getting in the Twitter game. We know you want to see your number of followers climb, and we want to help you! So much, in fact, that I’m willing to do it with you. I deleted my old Twitter account and “started fresh.” My new Twitter account, @KristiKellogg, is just nine days old. Over the course of this series, I’ll share tips to increasing your followers and best Twitter practices, and I, right along with you, will implement these strategies:
1. Have a clear profile picture, bold header, eye-catching background and interesting bio. These are the first things a potential follower will see when they open a Twitter account and decide whether or not to follow you. This is your big chance to engage them! The “Me” page should make it clear who you are. If you’re an individual, your profile picture should provide a picture of you, ideally a well-lit, welcoming head shot. If you are a business, brand, or organization, your company logo is a perfect choice for your profile pic.
The header is that image that is behind your profile picture. Choose something that complements your profile picture and doesn’t make the text in your bio unreadable. I chose to use a solid color as my header so the bio text appears crisp and clean.
You can also customize the background. Within Twitter>Settings>Design, you can select a pre-made theme or upload a photo that changes the background of your Twitter profile; here, you can also modify link color and overlays. Visit ColourLovers Themeleon to choose from 3,966 customizable backgrounds. The possibilities are endless!
Now for your bio. Use those 160 characters to explain why this Twitter account exists. The bio is an opportunity to alert potential followers to what you do, why you do it and the types of conversations you’ll be engaging in. Include important keywords in your bio. This will give your Twitter account ranking potential and keyword relevance.
Use your bio to make a unique value proposition, a promise that you will deliver, a reason for users to follow you.
2. Have unique, engaging content. Speak to your targeted audience. If you own a cupcake shop, your targeted audience is probably those who are hungry for dessert. You can tweet about daily specials, new additions to the menu or suggestions of the ideal cupcakes to serve at a party. You can incorporate media: sprinkle your Twitter with pictures of happy customers eating delicious cupcakes or a video of the chef icing cupcakes. You can use Twitter to offer special discounts, i.e. “ReTweet for 50 percent off your next cupcake!”
In the case of both the cupcake shop owner and the SEO writer, it is important to also have some content that is simply fun. Tweeting a silly video or thought-provoking quote shows the personality behind the Twitter account. Anything you tweet that can make someone smile is always advisable.
3. Retweet. Retweeting can be another source of engaging content. Great content is great content, be it a funny video, controversial news article or breathtaking photo. You don’t always have to be the originator; retweeting content that is relevant, useful and interesting to your followers and potential followers is always a good idea! Have friends who want to increase their followings? Why not retweet this helpful article?
4. We just established that unique, engaging content can spread like wildfire—but Twitter users want to easily find the content they’re after. Twitter is, by its nature, a public platform. Assuming you are using your Twitter to promote your business, organization or brand, it is in your best interest to set your tweets to be available publicly (just don’t check “protect my tweets.” Also, make sure to check “let others find me by my email address.” That way, your Twitter account is easily found in user searches.
It’s also a good idea to link to your Twitter account — everywhere you can. Include a “follow me on Twitter!” reference in your email signature. Place a “follow me” button prominently and proudly on the homepage of your website. Cross promote your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts. You can also enable your Twitter settings to allow your Twitter stream to populate on your Facebook feed, allowing your content to reach more people and signal them to follow you if they are not already doing so.
Add your Twitter handle to your business card and display it on your storefront. Paste it on flyers, newsletters, brochures or anything else your company might hand out. Get creative! Anything that leads to a follower is great, and each follower marks another another potential client!
5. Post relevant content throughout the day. Tweeting at intervals is better than a Twitter blast. You want to make sure you reach everyone. It’s great to make a practice of tweeting first thing in the morning, but if that’s the only time you tweet, you’re going miss out on Twittizens who are sleeping in. The best practice is to tweet throughout the day, because let’s face it, different people are on Twitter at different times. You can even schedule the time a tweet goes live with TweetDeck.
6. Exercise good Twittiquette by always replying to questions or comments people leave. Also, if someone retweets you, the polite thing to do is thank them! To make sure you don’t miss a retweet or comment, use TweetDeck to monitor Twitter activity as it relates to your account.
7. Use hashtags! Hashtags call attention to what your tweets relate to; hashtags are the method by which Twitter parses conversation topics. Back to the cupcakes: if the shop owner tweets “Hey guys, from 2-4 p.m. today, chocolate cupcakes are buy one, get one half off! #yummy #cupcakes”; now, anyone searching for #yummy or #cupcakes will see your tweet. Adding a photo of the chocolate treat to the tweet would be like a cherry on top .
8. Experiment. Each person’s audience is different. The cupcake shop owner’s following will be markedly different than Matt Cutts. And Matt Cutts’ audience will not be the same as Rafa Nadal’s. And Rafa Nadal’s audience will be far removed from, say, your cousin’s. So while Matt can post ad infinitum about Google, that’s not going to fit Nadal’s audience, who are more interested in tennis news. As you tweet, be extremely cognizant of what attracted more followers and what tweets produced no effect. Be your own analyst.
9. Read and learn from others. Did you know Bruce spends 2-3 hours a day reading in an effort to keep up with industry news? SEO and SMM strategies are constantly evolving and it’s a best practice to stay ahead of the curve. Read what’s relevant to your individual industry, always. If you own that cupcakery we’ve been using as an example, it would behoove you to watch what other bakeries are doing on Twitter; take cues from your peers as to what works and what doesn’t, tweaking your tweets as you go.
10. Subscribe to the monthly Bruce Clay newsletter and check out the Bruce Clay blog. We work hard to keep our followers in-the-know. The value of education is immeasurable and we have many blog posts devoted solely to Twitter and social media marketing strategies. Follow @BruceClayInc, @KristiKellogg and @VirginiaNussey. We always have the 411 on all things involving SEO and SMM!
The post you’re reading right now is part one of a Twitter 101 series and you won’t want to miss out on our next post. Next week, we’ll delve deeper into increasing your Twitter followers, with more tips and strategies. After that, we’ll take a look at all the Twitter applications out there and how you can best utilize them to grow your Twitter following. And I’ll be tweeting one-off tips between blog posts, as well.
Have your own Twitter tip? We want to hear it! Share it in the comments.
Business Blogging: How to Hit the Sweet Spot of Social Engagement and Revenue Driver was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
You’ve heard your SEO or marketing consultant recommend a blog, and you get it. After all, a blog allows you to do lots of great things for your business:
- Put a face on your company.
- Do reputation management, to deal with negative feedback.
- Strengthen the focus of your site with new ideas and content.
- Publish funny, entertaining or otherwise “viral” content that will get you attention online.
You know that blogging for your customers will build trust in your brand and improve users’ experience with you, making them more likely to associate themselves with you in the future. But you still have questions. Like, what can I expect the blog to contribute to sales? And if not directly connected to sales, how will I measure the blog’s success?
First understand that blogging is an awareness channel, positioned at the top of the conversion funnel. Conversions assigned to the blog should be things that create another connection between you and the audience, like a newsletter sign-up or Facebook like. The goal of the blog is to have people actively choose to connect with you elsewhere, a position that will put you at the customer’s top of mind when a need for your product or service surfaces.
A 2011 State of the Blogosphere report from Technorati Media surveyed bloggers, and the results of the question, “How do you measure the success of your blog?” saw a variety of responses:
Along with the metrics listed above, today it’s generally recommended that businesses engaged in social media track the search volume of branded terms — a good indicator of the effectiveness of social media efforts and the share of market voice.
Conversion Tracking on Your Blog with Google Analytics
Now that you know a few things to measure your blog with, here are some basic steps for putting in place tracking with Google Analytics.
Before you get into GA to set your goals, outline what your blog success metrics will be. Everything from clicking through to social accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, to form completions to signing up for your email list or newsletter, time spent on site and pages per visit might align with your business goals.
With that straight, use Google Analytics set up tracking for those conversions with a variety of goal types:
- URL destination: When a user hits a page that signals a conversion, like a thank you or confirmation screen, that’s a goal.
- Visit duration: Time spent on a page is a type of goal that aligns well with the engagement role of a blog.
- Pages per visit: Here again, your blog will be doing its job if it causes visitors to hit multiple pages on your site.
- Event: Actions like downloads, video views, specific links and buttons that get clicked — these may line up with conversion goals you have for your blog.
With an understanding of what your blog is doing for you and GA set up to measure and track those actions, you’ll know why you’re blogging and how the investment is contributing to your business.
A Fond Farewell: When Part of Your Brand’s Voice Moves On was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
It’s been three years since I became one part of a team that serves as the voice of Bruce Clay, Inc. And boy, has it been an awesome ride. Being in a position of communication on behalf of a company comes with a lot of responsibility. Every week, you are out there repping a brand the best you can, and trying to create a valuable experience for the community that surrounds it.
And I hope that’s what I’ve done for you, dear readers. Over the years, I’ve given my all reporting on search marketing issues (almost 300 posts for the blog!) because the Bruce Clay brand has been and always will be synonymous with education. It’s admirable that this company has contributed to its community the way it has for more than 17 years now.
And I’ve enjoyed being a part of it. Helping businesses solve problems and participating in the idea-exchange that’s amazingly a “standard” practice within the search industry, well it’s really something special.
I struggled with the idea of writing this post. I didn’t want it to come off as “self-important.” I mean, people leave companies all the time, quietly. But then the other part of me wanted to put the community first, which is way more important than anything I’m feeling personally.
So I talked it over and Virginia had a great idea; she suggested I center the post on the issue – when part of your brand’s voice moves on, what then? I thought that was a fantastic idea.
So for my last blog post as the content and media manager for Bruce Clay, Inc., I thought we’d explore some of the things that create and preserve a brand’s identity over time, even as communication teams inevitably change.
Remember, your brand is what you stand for …
People come and go, but brands have staying power. While you might have a public-facing team that’s known as the “voice” of the company, it’s what the company stands for that will remain no matter who’s in the position of communicating it.
If you’re not sure what your brand stands for. Well, that’s where you need to start. Check out this post on discovering your brand and how to communicate it. The exercises in there can help you set the standards for how you deal with your community on all fronts.
The Bruce Clay brand is synonymous with knowledge transfer – to both clients and the community. It’s because of this that we, as a communications team, are able to spend so much time and resources on things like our blog and newsletter – because the company believes in the value of that.
It’s also worth mentioning the level of creative freedom this company gives to its staff — because it believes in our ideas. These sorts of attributes together make up a brand, and those attributes become apparent in a company’s daily behavior.
Remember, your brand is not just what you say, it’s what you do.
… So your brand’s identity should not be “hearsay”
Do you have your brand identity documented and the communications procedures that surround it? If not, how do you expect to preserve the things that are important to your company over time?
Positions switch hands, and things as important as your brand’s communications process should not be “hearsay,” passed from one person to another verbally. Anyone in a position of responsibility should always document the things that are integral to keeping a company running smoothly.
Sure, the next person may modify them as new developments occur, but company communication guidelines should be a living, historical document that is updated at least yearly if not quarterly – and especially prior to a role switching hands.
To help protect branding and communications consistency over time, consider creating guidelines for things like:
- Your department’s mission.
- A style guide with common spellings of terms in your industry, and grammar and punctuation guidelines for the writing style your company goes by.
- Procedures for any publications you create.
- Processes for proofing, editing or optimizing content.
- Biographies for the main players and the company descriptions in various formats.
- Guidelines for logo usage and any other graphical representations of your brand.
- International guidelines, if applicable.
And don’t forget: your team matters.
Your brand will set the stage for everything you do, and the documentation will help immortalize the identity. But there’s one important factor in making sure your brand is represented in the best possible light year after year: the people. Great brands hire great people. And it’s not always easy to find them.
Finding good people who “get” your brand and “get” how to handle themselves in multiple scenarios is important, and especially when they’re representing company communications. So as you think about how your communications team will evolve over time, place an emphasis on the attributes of the people in that role – what’s important to you, to your company.
Because Bruce Clay, Inc. has a brand that will always be synonymous with education, because the internal process has been developed, and because it has the people, the content that the company produces for its community will continue to aim for the highest quality.
Virginia Nussey has always been a staple in the success of the Bruce Clay blog, newsletter, communications and content for the company. (Much love, V!) So I don’t have to tell you that with her heading the team, not much will change. Except now we have the addition of the talented Kristi Kellogg, who brings her own unique perspective to the content the company is publishing.
And there’s also plans to add more savvy people to the department, as it grows to meet the demands of clients and in-house priorities alike.
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodnight …
The lessons I’ve learned here as part of the Bruce Clay team, the relationships I’ve forged and the community that I’ve become a part of is something I’ll always be grateful for.
I love the search marketing community and I enjoy what I do. So I plan to be around, just in a different capacity. I’m excited about this next chapter in my life, where I will be pursuing a content development and strategy venture of my own.
Please stay connected with me @BzzContent on Twitter. And thank you, thank you, thank you for everything.