Your Guide to Local SEO 2013

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by Chris Warden

The importance of local search on the future of your
business can’t be understated. Google, Yahoo, Bing and now Facebook have all
placed an emphasis on being able to find, review and recommend local
businesses. If the four biggest websites on the Internet are all pointing in
the same direction, isn’t it about time you took the idea seriously?

Not only is local search traffic more apt to buy, and buy
quickly, it’s the traffic that you’re often paying a fortune to reach when
using other marketing channels (ads, direct mail, commercials, etc.).

It’s time to get serious about local SEO, and this guide
should be just what you need to get you started. 

Local SEO – “Why is it important?”

Local SEO – “Optimization and Understanding Your Users”

Local SEO – “Rank Factors: Places Listing and Social Media”

Local SEO – “Rank Factors: Review Sites”

Local SEO – “Citations & Linking”

Local SEO – “Analytics and Tracking”

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

Confessions Of A $100/Month SEO Client

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Are you an agency trying to sell super cheap search marketing services to SMBs? If so, here’s some free market research! Last week, I got my kitchen counters resurfaced. Inevitably the service guy asked me what I did for a living. When I told him I did SEO, the conversation quickly turned to…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

June 10th 2013 Search Engine Marketing

Excellent Analytics Tip #25: Decrapify Search, Social Compound Metrics

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off centerEveryone likes chasing big shiny objects all the time. What's not to like. They are big. They are shiny. :)

But a lot of progress in life comes from doing the everyday small things better. A small improvement, every single day, to move the ball a little more forward.

A best practice I've developed is to take a step back and reflect on if I have a good balance between chasing shiny objects and making incremental progress on small every day things.

Today's post is from the latter category. It is a story about dealing with a complicated everyday challenge in an incrementally better way.

It is not quite about web analytics, not quite about data you can just get from WebTrends or Google Analytics, and not quite about just making yet another pretty chart. Rather it is about trying to step back and to think differently about a particular problem and, this is so scary, fighting to not simplify things to the point of uselessness.

I deeply wish that the problem we confront in this post did not exist at all. I wish we did not have this desire to pulpify a bunch of metrics to produce something recognizable. But it does exist, and so let us figure out how to incrementally improve the insights we can deliver.

Here's a summary of our journey in this delightful post…

~ What are Compound Metrics?
~ The Challenge with Compound Metrics: Social Media Edition
~ Compound Metrics "Decrapification" Strategy: Social: Standard Approach
~ Compound Metrics "Decrapification" Strategy: Social: Awesome Approach
~ Compound Metrics "Decrapification" Strategy: Search: Awesome Approach

Ready? Let's go…

What are Compound Metrics?

Compound metrics are everywhere. An example from the world of sports is the NFL Passer Rating (don't worry, no one really understands what it is). In a government context, Consumer Confidence Index and Consumer Price Index are good examples. One that you likely care about a lot is your FICO credit score. Perhaps the most famous digital compound metric is PageRank .

In a digital analytics context a compound metric might be…

Visit Quality = [(% of downloads + % of visits with more than 68 pageviews - % of visits with less 2 pages + % visits with Facebook shares + % of visits with store searches)/5)*1476]

The goal would be to communicate, perhaps, the quality of the site or the quality of each visit or quality of the outcomes, to the Dear Leader in your company using an "one simple easy metric."

I understand why people want to create compound metrics.

We have too much data on the web. We can measure way too much nuance, and sub-nuance and sub-sub-nuance. Because there is so much, and so much of our leadership is full of simple minds (not a ding, we should not expect them to be Analysts), the instinct is to "make it all simple, make it into one simple number" in the hope that they'll understand what's going on.

The intent behind creating compound metrics is good, sadly the outcome never is.

The Challenge with Compound Metrics: Social Media Edition

Go back and look at the Visit Quality compound metric someone's defined above. Do you see the problem? Do you see why it would be nearly impossible for you to look at the number that get's spit out every day/week/month and learn almost nothing from it – even if the number moves every time ?

For a bit more on the other reasons please see: Actively avoid insights: Use Compound Metrics

Here's a summary: When you cross-breed a bunch of metrics to produce a, I'm being charitable here, hybrid "simple number," the process, by design, hides insights, hinders the ability to understand performance and almost never allows the management team to identify root-causes.

Let's look at a practical example that demonstrates why I'm allergic to compound metrics.

Tool X below computes a social influence score for me. I'm a 83.

(Even if you can recognize this tool can I please request that you not name it in comments? They are hardly unique in creating compound metrics in the social analytics space. Thank you.)

social score avinash

So what does that 83 mean?

Nothing.

I just know that I'm 83 and a peer of mine is 87 and another one is 76. So what? More importantly, what do I do now?

There is a trend in the image. I can see it goes up and down.

Why does it do that? Not clear at all.

What contributes to 83 that causes the trend to go up and down, or for that matter what causes the 87?

No clarity.

So what do we do with the 83? Well… It depends on what you are measuring. Oh, it's not clear what it is measuring. Hmm… so it is useless?

They do share how much of this influence is from my presence on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Wikipedia. Oh… Maybe that helps?

social influence breakdown

No. Not really.

So what's the 83 and what can you do with it?

Nothing.

This is the problem with compound metrics. You don't know what causes the final number to happen. You don't know the focusing factors, hence you are blind to why things go up/down and what actions you can take to improve.

In this case this Tool X is deliberately hiding all the focusing factors because they don't want you to game the system. I respect that. But for me as the recipient of this "boiled down from all the complexity simple metric that anyone can understand" it is a little less than useless.

Compound metrics. #arrrrhhhh

Let's look at another example and bring the problem closer to a company level challenge.

(Again, I just pulled a random example. If you know the tool or the provider, please do not mention it in comments. They are not unique in being guilty. Thank you.)

Tool Y shares this comparison of two companies.

15 1

What can you learn from it? In their social presence each company wants more of the Engagement Rate, what insights can you derive about each company from Engagement Rate performance above?

Yes. One seems high and other other seems low, in extremely tiny percentage terms.

But can you learn anything about what Mercedes-Benz is doing right or wrong? How about Audi? What might they be doing right or wrong?

Nothing. Zip. Nada.

You don't even know if 0.670% is awesome or completely sucky. You might if you knew that the upper limit or benchmark for Engagement Rate is 100%. That would give you incredible context. But you don't get that above. That in turn implies you don't even know if Mercedes-Benz is just a little less than awesome or really totally completely sucky!

What if you were kindly told by Tool Y that this is the formula used to compute Engagement Rate…

facebook engagement score attempt 1

(Remember, don't mention the tool or the company in comments. EVERYONE does this, let's not single them out.)

Does it help?

Now can you tell me what 0.290% and 0.670% mean?

And, always more importantly, why 0.670% became 0.670%? What caused Audi's number to be higher than MB?

Let's say this was not Audi and MB.

In April your Website Engagement Rate (WER) was 29 and in May your WER was 67. Would the score of that compound metric be able to tell you anything about what you did better or worse? Would your management team know what action to take when you plonk this compound metric in a dashboard?

Extremely highly improbable. Hence my allergy to compound metrics.

[PS: The above formula is not even the most sub-optimal one. There are social/search/website engagement/quality/experience compound metrics that are much, much worse. Those exquisite beauties contain weights, multipliers and other sundry "values" attached to each element in the formula. "Values" that are sourced from nothing more than our biases and blind spots. The end result is unique type of awful that you have to experience to believe.]

Compound Metrics "Decrapification" Strategy: Social: Standard Approach

If you can avoid compound metrics, that is the optimal. Rather can creating unrecognizable pulp, use the Digital Marketing and Measurement Model process to identify the best direct key performance metric. Use them to deliver insights that directly drive ultimate business profitability.

In our social scenario above I'll take inspiration from the Digital Marketing and Measurement Model process to create an alternative simple approach to using compound metrics.

Rather than "simplify" things and put five metrics into a blender and puke out an "easy to understand" number, my strategy would be to expose the focusing factors in order to encourage our leadership to look a little deeper to understand performance.

Instead of calculating the "Average Social Engagement Rate," I would much rather (as recommended in the Best Social Media Metrics post) show the management team this…

best social media metrics 1

Four metrics, not "one simple easy metric."

The first three, Conversation Rate, Amplification Rate, Applause Rate, show, wait for it…. engagement (!) on the social channels. As you look across you can see how well or badly you are doing on individual channels and the last row beautifully shows how much money we make off each social visit to your digital existence.

Sweet, right?

[If you would like to get the above view for your social media efforts please checkout True Social Metrics.]

What about Audi and Mercedes-Benz?

Instead of the cute infographic compound metric view with two other value deficient metrics, number of fans and total "interactions," would it not be magnificently been better to show this…

alternative to social engagement rate compound metric 1

Yes, it is neither cute looking nor "one simple easy metric." It is also a little harder on the eyes. The recipient will have to think a little harder.

But would you agree that the above view makes it really, really, easy to understand social engagement AND social's impact on the business of each company?

So, if you are willing to trade a small amount of pain (the discussion you have to have with your Dear Leader that a "one simple easy metric" might actually not be so simple or easy or valuable, and that you'll show they a bit more data), then it is entirely possible to completely avoid having to use a compound metric. Imagine the waves of pleasure that will wash over your body because you no longer have to create a crazy formula based on little more than biases and blind spots (exemplified by the Engagement Rate formula above).

Oh, and this works beautifully even if you look at just one company and their performance over a period of time.

Let's say we work for Audi (hurray!) and want to show social performance. Rather than saying the Average Engagement Rate was 0.67%, 0.68%, 0.57%, we can just show this table….

alternative to social engagement rate compound metric 2

Yes, more data. But so much easier for the Dear Leader to understand performance, brainstorm on root-causes and discuss fixes with the leadership circle.

Progress. Prosperity.

Compound Metrics "Decrapification" Strategy: Social: Awesome Approach

What if you are in a situation where your good intentions are insufficient?

What if you are a little minion, but a poor humble soul, who no one cares about and who's being whipped into creating compound metrics?

It does happen. Sometimes you simply can't avoid it. There is too much pressure to "simplify" things.

What do you do? How to ensure that you still deliver something of value?

Here's my suggestion: Give them want they want, but package with it what they need. Oh and while they are at it, include the one disruptive thing that will give them critical performance context!

Show them this….

audi social engagement score 1

We have the "one simple easy metric" up top. (Happy?) Then we have the focusing factors (contributing elements) clearly outlined. Further more we show them performance of each element.

But we don't stop there! We also include something that is incredibly valuable for Dear Leaders around the world in trying to understand performance: We include critical context to illustrate if the performance seen is good or bad.

For the last part (the big gray box) I've used 1. an available benchmark for the metric or 2. an upper limit I'm aware of or have computed from existing data or 3. a target we as a company are shooting for.

Now the Dear Leader has what they wanted, but we've also provided what they needed to go from data to action.

It should be quite obvious why your company will make smarter decisions now.

Oh, and you don't have to use my best social media metrics . You can use anything you want for your formula that computes your compound metric.

For example you can do this….

audi social engagement score 2

I don't think it's better. But what do you care. : )

The point is, you should embrace the framework. You can use any reasonably relevant collection of metrics, for the compound metric you are trying to create. Just make sure your focusing factors (metrics you use) are as complete as possible, and ideally independent from each other.

Switching back to my original four focusing factors… you can now see exactly how this would look like if we wanted to compare the Social Engagement Scores of Audi and Mercedes-Benz…

mercedes audi social media savvy comparison

So, so, so much better right?

Even though the compound metric is there on top, you'll deliver a deeper understanding of why Mercedes is at 0.290% and Audi is at 0.670%. Both companies can learn from the other and figure out how to fix their social strategy to rock more.

And remember the above visualization could be for the month of May and June for one company. Still works beautifully in explaining the performance of the "one simple easy metric."

Compound Metrics "Decrapification" Strategy: Search: Awesome Approach

As I'd mentioned earlier, this approach could work in other contexts as well – any time you end up with a compound metric.

You follow the same three step process for decrapification outlined above:

1. Show the compound metric.
2. Show the contributing metric's performance.
3. Show that against a benchmark or upper limit or target.

Step three above is something I've started to do a lot recently, my tiny incremental innovation if you will.

Let's look at one more example to really solidify this three step process for you. Since we've beaten Social to death already, let's look at another exiting area: Search.

This example is one where I was unable to run away from a compound metric. I had to create one. Boo!

The mandate was to try and figure out how to show any company their "overall Search performance" using a "one simple easy metric."

How is that even possible given the insane complexity that is the digital Search business? But mandates demand that we deliver, so off we go.

Here's my humble attempt at a Search Performance Index (SPI)…

zqi search performance index 3

It boils the entire complicated paid search business into four key levers (four focusing factors, four key metrics). Keyword Relevancy, Bid/Budget Savvy, Ad Creativity (copy, sitelinks, offers), and Geo/Targeting Smarts. It uses those levers to create an index (score on top).

I'll let your imagination run wild as to how the score itself is computed. (If there is interest, I'll share it in a future blog post.)

The cool part is not that there is an overall score that the Dear Leader can look at and be thrilled with. The cool part is that she/he will be forced to glance, even if for a moment, at the focusing factors that explain why the Search Performance Index is at 643. The coolest part is that they'll know which area needs more attention because of the distance between the current performance and what's possible (the benchmark/upper limit/target).

Now it is easy for them to prioritize where we should devote resources to improve the SPI. Action!

That is, dear blog readers, to borrow a phrase, priceless.

I'm sure you noticed that while there is a lot of data behind the simple visualization above, there is almost no data overtly present. Just a bunch of bars.

That is by design. Sharing a more nuanced view of reality does not have to be complicated. Take everything away, until you just have the things you absolutely need left.

Once you have that nailed the focusing factors and the compound metric formula, it is easy to do cool stuff with it (if you have access to the data).

You can look at the compound metric across competitors and smile (or cry)….

search performance index competitive indexing 1

I'm beating this to death, but how much more fun is it that you know why the SPI for each company is where it is? Rather than just know the number all by itself?

And even if you are ZQ Inc (643) you can see that you are at least good at one thing (ad creativity) and you can figure out how to use that strength – even as you fix the other focusing factors .

You can/should do this to understand your own performance over time. And you don't have to use my choices above. I want to stress the process and not prescribe the metrics you should use.

Internalize the process. Spend some time understanding your own unique business needs, get advice from experts out there and create an extra-special magical formula that you believe will deliver glorious insights. Remove the metric you don't need above, plonk in your new BFF.

The next time your Awesome Search Performance Agency is doing their quarterly review, ask them to open their presentation with this view of the SPI….

search performance index quarterly 2

Dear Leader is happy, she/he has the "one simple easy metric."

You are happy because you snuck in just enough information to make the index easier to understand.

Your Agency is delighted because you are asking for a much more sophisticated understanding of reality to show the value of your huge investment in the Agency and Search. Agencies want their feet held to the fire, they love accountability.

Win – win – win.

Summary

So often we report (puke) data, we diligently produce (puke) dashboards, we lovingly create (puke) slides. But it is rare that our efforts drive action. It's not because our puking was not great, it is simply because we are unable to succinctly bring forth the underlying focusing factors and present them in a way that is accretive to quick internalization of which of the focusing factors need killing and which need feeding.

Solve for that.

And now you know how.

Ok, it is your turn.

Do you agree that compound metrics are sub-optimal? Are there compound metrics your company uses that you've simply failed to kill? Or other compound metrics that are your favorite? How do you deal with the insights that delivery actionability challenge that mashing five metrics into one to produce a paste presents? Do you think showing the focusing factors beneath the "one simple easy metric" will work inside your company? How can I make the above approach even better?

Please share your ideas, critique, praise, improvements, examples in comments below.

Thank you.

Excellent Analytics Tip #25: Decrapify Search, Social Compound Metrics is a post from: Occam's Razor by Avinash Kaushik

Excellent Analytics Tip #24: Obsess About Real Business Profitability

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elegance The art of analysis often fails to deliver ginarmous success simply because of how limited our worldview is when we go about identifying bottom-line impacting insights.

Hence, this is a post on a simple concept that will drag you out of your current "what is happening on my website?" comfort zone, and out of your Google Analytics, Site Catalyst, WebTrends worldview silo.

Sounds like fun?

It is. And you end up becoming rich and famous. Not too shabby, right?

Macro Business Context: The Big Deal

Digital is an obsession for almost everyone who reads this blog. Part of the reason is that even if you work for a multi-channel company you are likely in the "web," "interactive," "internet," or "digital" division. That narrows your responsibilities, and in turn your worldview. Part of the reason is that the data you to which you have access narrows your worldview – "Hey, all I have is Google Analytics, so all I'll look at is Google Analytics data!"

Somewhere inside us we know that there is more to our business than digital; we are not stupid. But the two reasons above combine to narrow our focus. This does not mean you'll cause a huge disaster for your company. No. But it is very likely that you are not going to have the hugest possible impact. Your company will be, at best, just as good as others (since people at other companies also have conveniently narrow world views).

I don't like that.

We should shoot for the stars! We should shoot for magnificent glory!

Let's try to do that today with a very simple story, one that I hope will have much broader implications on your digital success measurement.

Macro Business Context: The Challenge

I was working with a company that runs a private college type system. Let's call them ZQI University.

At ZQI U, a vast number of students enroll into online-only courses (just like our analytics, PPC, mobile, and SEO Master Certification students at my awesome Market Motive). But ZQI U also has many real world campuses, so students can enroll online and attend in the real world.

Digital advertising and marketing is a key part of ZQI's multi-channel acquisition portfolio. They do everything.

digital advertising portfolio

The cloud above is a rough to-scale approximation of their current traffic sources. As is common in these types of educational companies, aggregators rule the roost. They are simply much better and way more aggressive than the educational companies themselves. They are also a lot less weighed down by legacy mental models than the educational companies, which enables them to think smarter and move faster.

So if you are ZQI, how should you measure success? How should you decide which one of these acquisition sources you should invest in more? How do you decide which one delivers higher value to the business?

Business As Usual

The answer to those questions might seem obvious.

Tell me how many people came to my website. Tell me how many of those converted into leads.

Well, that is quite easy. Just crack open your funnel in WebTrends, or the analytics tool you temporarily call your BFF.

visits to leads

Now that you have the macro view (don't expect your lead generation/conversion rate to look that good!), how can you figure out which acquisition channel is more important?

Again, easey peasey.

Apply advanced acquisition segments to your data, press a button here and press a button there and … boom!

advanced segments conversions

The above image only illustrates three segments and their conversions – search, referrals, and aggregators – purely for the sake for simplicity.

Back to the question, where should we invest more / which source is the best one for our business? Which fire should we add more fuel to?

The answer is simple: Aggregators.

They are the best drivers of traffic, they are the best generators of leads. Let's go find more aggregators / increase the bounty / be more aggressive in another way to get them to promote ZQI University.

And that is where we normally stop. I'd be lying if I did not also say that at this point we also expect a pat on the back / bonus / promotion.

The Fly in the Ointment

The challenge, of course, is that getting leads adds zero value to the business. As digital practitioners, we forget that blunt truth. In this case some value comes only if the student completes an application.

So Site Catalyst is essentially showing you a limited funnel if all you look at is the above picture.

Even if you are the digital analyst you need to at the very minimum look at this funnel …

better visits to conversion view

At the moment you don't look at the third step for a very simple reason. That data is not in Google Analytics. It is in some ERP/CRM/Backend system inside your company. And you don't have access to it.

Go hit someone up. With a chat if that works. With a Facebook poke if that works. With a lovely smile if that works. With a threatening glare if you are good at that sort of a thing.

Because you need to know if you your earlier answer, that you should be pumping your precious marketing dollars to Aggregators, is the right answer.

Resist the instinct to go to the CFO with a massively parallel processed big data warehouse monkey dance business lack of intelligence tool to comprehensively measure everything and God.

It will take too long. It will cost too much. It will never have ROA (return on analytics).

You CFO might also laugh at you and shoo you out of her office.

Just get a quick dump of the completed applications into Excel. Join that data with your Site Catalyst / WebTrends data with the lead_id as your primary key.

Now apply your original segments to the funnel, and boom!

better conversion funnel view with segments

OMG! OMG! OMG!

What happened to all those "valuable" leads from Aggregators? And your "analyst expert" recommendation was to invest more in Aggregators. Ouch. : )

That tiny sliver of traffic from Referrals is not looking so bad now, is it?

And just look at all that Search traffic from Bing!

Now, what's your recommendation to the business?

Different, right?

That is what I mean by measuring real end-to-end success, about obsessing about real business profitability.

Forget Digital Conversions, Obsess About Real Business Profitability

Wait, wait, wait. Simmer down. I know. I know what you are going to say, you smart, awesome person that you are.

I do know that real business profitability for ZQI U does not come from the number of successful applications submitted.

Here's the rest of the funnel that takes us down to the actual point of real business profitability:

complete university online offline conversion funnel 2

We only make the maximum amount of money as a business, after the student completes the course.

If they submit the application and are accepted, but don't enroll in the course, we don't make money.

If they enroll in the course but don't start the course, we don't make much money (maybe some cancellation fees, but come on, that is a pathetic revenue source).

If they start the course but don't complete it, we've not made the *complete* amount of money,

So when you head out to measure the success of your digital advertising and marketing, you need to know the conversion rate at step six, not just step two. Yes, in Google Analytics you can only see step two. Yes, you will have to wait for step six to be completed and it does take time – how do you feed the "real time optimization" monster (just remember, in real time if you optimize garbage, you still have garbage)?

For tactical optimization, maybe you can use step five as your success point (# of students that Started the course / # of Visits to the site). But when it comes to strategic media (ad/marketing) budget optimization, you need to look at step six (Completions).

And how do you know where to invest your ad dollars? Here you go…

real business profitability acquisition analysis

Aggregators send 40% of the traffic to your site. A lot of that traffic also submits leads that go to your normal sales process. But when it comes to the quality of students that aggregators send to ZQI U, the students that successfully complete the course (hurray for them!) and deliver real business profitability to us, aggregators fall short. Way short.

ZQI should be obsessing incessantly about Referral traffic. Even if it looks like a small referrer, we can see it delivers a good chunk of ultimate profitability. ZQI should obsess about Search because it delivers 40% of the ultimate business profitability, from just 20% of the site traffic.

This is how business practitioners become worthy of a ticker tape parade in downtown:

By not focusing on just the digital data. By not focusing on just the digital conversions. By not even focusing on false prophets masquerading as real offline conversions. But by focusing on the ultimate business point of profitability.

Here's a simple picture to illustrate the key concepts. On the left the area where the engagement happens, on the right the amount of profitability accrued to your business.

digital non digital real profitability 1

Explains so much about why so often digital analysts are not taken seriously, right? If you stop at the point where the company has made no money, why should you be taken seriously?

Let me repeat, you can do this using a massively parallel processed big data warehouse monkey dance business lack of intelligence tool to comprehensively measure everything and God. That would be almost a perfect boondoggle for digital analytics consulting companies, or your internal IT teams.

But you don't have to.

It is manual, hard and not long-term sustainable, but you can get by with Excel (and my pretty conversion of the Excel data into the above PowerPoint picture!) for a while. You can earn trust, credibility and impact the business. Then you can go on your boondoggle. That would be ok, and perhaps even necessary as you scale.

And what metric should you focus on in this proper end-to-end view?

You can take any number of complicated paths. I try to keep things as simple as possible (Occam's Razor!).

complete conversion funnel abandonment rate

Start simply by measuring the abandonment rate of each step in the process. Where's the leakage? Prioritize fixes.

Even with this simple view you can quickly identify where there are overall issues, or just for particular segments. It helps bring focus, it helps identify actions that add business value.

The mental model is simple. It might be a little difficult to get abandonment rates at each steps, you might have to deal with people, process, politics. But, as advised earlier in the post, you start with aggregate data for just these segments, you might find smoother sailing. You can complicate things later.

Remember, the quest is simple. We are not going to accept stopping at where our job responsibility stops (digital). We are not going to accept stopping where our web analytics data stops. We are going all the way to the real point of business profitability!

Identify the Real Business Profitability Point: E-commerce

We've used a university to illustrate the incredible value of going all the way down to the real business point of profitability. But you can go through this process for any type of digital entity (for profit, non-profit).

Let's take an e-commerce company. It could be a pure-play (Amazon, Shopbop), or multi-channel (Macy's, Wal-Mart).

Typically, we measure success by analyzing where people come from, and how many of those place an order online. That is not bad. But we can make a very simple extension to our analytical/success view and look at returns as well.

ecommerce beter point of profitability

This makes us smarter in how we judge success. For example, Google could send you a ton of traffic via your pay-per-click campaigns. A bunch of them could also convert. But if the return rate for the orders is 10%, you may wipe out your entire profitability.

Now compare returns rate for Facebook and AOL and Email and … on and on.

You just have to stretch the time horizon you are looking at a bit more (look at the data 30 days after the order was fulfilled, typically the window for returns). And you have to stretch your data sources and not be limited by Adobe Analytics or whatever else you have.

If you want to be slightly more awesome (admit it, that sounds so tempting!), focus not on what happens 30 days after but rather what happens over a longer time horizon. Say three to six months after the original customer was acquired.

Your "funnel" would look like this …

ecommerce optimal point of profitability

Awesome, right? Now you are getting into the yummy customer lifetime value territory. You are getting in the delicious quality of customer territory.

From here you can go into online purchases and offline purchases (if you are omni-channel) and so much more.

And it all starts with a desire not to be limited by what your digital analytics solution can offer, and not to wait for God's perfect single source of all company data to come into existence five years from now, fifteen million dollars over budget.

Identify the Real Business Profitability Point: B2B.

What if you don't sell anything online? What if you don't sell anything to customers? What if almost all of influencing and conversions happen offline via a complicated process of meetings, dinners, RFPs and complex negotiations with multiple organizations?

You can still use the same mental model to identify the real point of business profitability and measure the success of your digital activity.

Let's say you are a company that belongs to one of my absolute favorite B2B entities, Danaher Corporation.

For each company in the Danaher portfolio, we could use the process outlined above to identify the real point of business profitability and identify the success of the company's investment in Google or Yahoo! or other digital channels …

b2b danaher real point of profitability

The specific description of each step will be a little different for each Danaher portfolio company. But going through this process will ensure that the next time Mr. Larry Culp asks a company what is digital doing for their business, the question will be infinitely easier to answer.

This is not easy work, especially in B2B companies. The muscle you need to pull this off has not been exercised for a while, if ever. But we simply don't have a choice. If we don't do this, digital will remain an afterthought, companies will not take full advantage of all the incredible possibilities the digital revolution offers, and they might even suffer in the medium to long term.

But when we do it, the aforementioned awesomeness follows.

So if you are a B2C, B2B, A2Z, company, if you sell everything digitally or non-digitally, if you sell underwear or tires or services or software or just people, obsess about identifying the real point of business profitability. Quantify how your digital efforts are delivering against that point.

Go, knock 'em dead!

Ok, as always, it is your turn now.

How far does your company go in tying effectiveness of online advertising to business profitability? What is your biggest challenge in trying to go beyond the limits of data in your web analytics platforms? Do you have success stories to share about following this process and winning? Speaking of the process, what's missing from the above picture? What can I do to improve it?

I would love to have your ideas, war stories, guidance, and suggestions for improvements.

Thank you.

Excellent Analytics Tip #24: Obsess About Real Business Profitability is a post from: Occam's Razor by Avinash Kaushik

May 20th 2013 Search Engine Marketing

Eight Silly Data Things Marketing People Believe That Get Them Fired.

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beautiful dangersIt turns out that Marketers, especially Digital Marketers, make really silly mistakes when it comes to data.

Big data. Small data. Any data.

In the last couple months I've spent a lot of time with senior level marketers on three different continents. Some of them are quite successful, sadly many of them were not. In the latter group I discovered that there were two common themes.

1. Some absolutely did not use data to do their digital jobs. This group should be fired immediately, so I'm not going to talk about them.

[A benchmark for you: In 2013 if 30% of your time, Ms./Mr. Marketer, is not spent with data you'll fail to achieve professional success.]

2. Many used some data, but they unfortunately used silly data strategies/metrics.

Silly not in their eyes, silly in my eyes. And silly simply because as soon as the strategy/success metric being obsessed about was mentioned, it was clear they would fail.

A silly metric, I better define it :) , is one that distracts you for focusing on business investments that lead to bottom-line impact. They get you fired. Sometimes sooner. Other times a little later than sooner.

I'll expand my purview a little bit in this post, from just looking at silly metrics to also looking at silly data "things." My hope is to use these eight examples to illustrate to you how, if you are spending 30% of your time with data, you can use crazy cool data strategies/metrics to ensure many, many promotions.

Eight data things that marketing people believe that get them fired….

1. Real-time data is life changing.
2. All you need to do is fix the bounce rate.
3. Number of Likes represents social awesomeness.
4. # 1 Search Results Ranking = SEO Success.
5. REDUCE MY CPC! REDUCE MY CPC NOW!!
6. Page views. Give me more page views, more and more and more!
7. Impressions. Go, get me some impressions stat!
8. Demographics and psychographics. That is all I need! Don't care for intent!

Excited? I am, let's go!

1. Real-time data is life changing.

A lot of people get fired for this.

Sadly not right away, because it takes time to realize how spectacular of a waste of money getting to real-time data was.

real time google analytics

It seems absolutely stupid to say, "No, I don't want real-time data." It's like saying no to Chocolate/Jesus. You just don't say no!

But I want you to.

I want you to say: "I don't want real-time data, I want right-time data. Let's understand the speed of decision making in our company. If we make real-time decisions, let's get real time data. If we make decisions over two days, let's go with that data cycle. If it take ten days to make a decision to change bids on our PPC campaigns, let's go with that data cycle."

Right-time.

Here's why… Real-time data is very expensive. It is expensive from a systems/platforms/data processing/data reporting perspective. You end up paying substantial amounts of money to your analytics/big data vendor – for questionable value. It is also very expensive from a decision-making perspective because if you have real-time data you'll darn well make sure that it is being shoved down every single person's throat. That approach will ensure that, even in the best case scenario of the proverbial pigs flying, they'll obsess about tactical things. All the time. The the normal case, after a few days of "OMG I can't believe I have data! It is real-time! Call my mom!!!" their eyes will glaze over and they will ignore all the numbers flying by because they won't know what to do with it.

So shoot for right-time data.

That is a cheaper systems/platform/data strategy. (And remember even the most idiotic system in the world now gives you data that is a couple hours old with zero extra investment from you. So when you say real time you are really saying "Nope, two hours is not enough for me!").

That is also a way to get people to sync the data analysis (not data puking, sorry I meant data reporting) with the speed at which the company actually makes decisions (data > analyst > manager > director > VP > question back to manager > yells at the analyst > back to director> VP = 6 days).

As a result of the above two outcomes, you'll get promoted.

PS: The phrase "real-time data analysis" is an oxymoron.

PPS: I've mentioned one exception in the past. Real-time data is super valuable if zero human beings are involved from data collection to action being taken. Say for example, artificially intelligent platforms that do automated trading on Wall Street.

2. All you need to do is fix the bounce rate.

No. You'll get fired. In three months.

I love bounce rate. It is a really good metric. But it is not a key performance indicator.

The difference between a KPI and a metric is that the former has a direct line of sight to your bottom-line, while the latter is helpful in diagnosing tactical challenges. [Remember this difference, it is the reason all other metrics that'll get you fired below will get you fired.]

Bounce rate is really useful for finding things you suck at. Bad ad creatives. Horrible landing pages. Mis-targeted ads. Missing calls to action. Et. Al. You measure bounce rate and you can find those things, then figure out if the problem is at the source (ads) or destination (your site). Finally, like magnificent little troopers that you are, you'll fix the problems.

bounce rate by language

Along the way you also learn how not to stink. Bounce rate goes from 70% to a manageable 30%. Takes three months.

Now what?

Stop obsessing about bounce rate. By lowering your bounce rate all you managed to accomplish is get your ads created and targeted properly and optimize the landing pages. You got the person to the site, they did not puke and leave right away. Great. Time to focus on rest of the process.

From the time people land on your site it might take another 12 – 25 pages for them to buy or submit a lead. Focus on all that stuff. The tough stuff. Then you'll make money.

Fixing the bounce rate is mandatory, without that you are coming to play the super bowl naked – you are not going to win.

But just fixing that won't ensure you win. Focus on the actual game. Focus on incredible behavior metrics like Pages/Visit, focus on the Visitor Flow report, obsess about Checkout Abandonment Rate, make love to Average Order Size.

All that will get you promoted. Because you are going to focus on metrics, sorry not metrics, key performance indicators, that have a direct line to the bottom-line of your company.

3. Number of Likes represents social awesomeness.

Ohh… this one will get you fired even faster. :) Because it does not take a very long time for your Senior Management to figure out how lame the Likes metric is and that it drives 1. Zero value on Facebook and 2. Zero squared economic value or cost savings to the business.

There are many spectacular reasons for why Like (and +1s, Followers) is a horrible metric. Here's one… We are looking at two consumer product brands, the tiny company Innocent Drinks and the Goliath called Tide Detergent.

Checkout the number of Likes each has.

Innocent has 0.3 million and Tide has 3.7 million. Small difference.

Now if Tide was lame they would use the number of Likes they have and boast about that to their CMO. Bad idea.

innocent drinks tide detergent facebook

Tide is not lame. They also look at the number right next to the Likes number. For Tide that number reads 15k. For Innocent that number reads 58k!

Even with 10x the number of Likes on Facebook the giant called Tide has 4x fewer people talking about their brand when compared to the David called Innocent.

That's primarily because Tide does not truly understand how to do Conversation Marketing. Their relentless day after day mix of "here are pictures of our products repeated every day, here are the people we sponsor and their ads" is insufficient to create brand engagement.

And if Tide were lame and used Likes as victory, they would not know this.

Innocent on the other hand clearly understands Conversational Marketing (they are a small company, not yet corporatized I suspect, and likely deal with a smaller combination of lawyers/PR types/Social Media Gurus/Agencies – a sad likely bane on Tide's existence). They manage to get hundreds upon hundreds of comments (Conversation Rate) and thousands upon thousands of comment Likes (Applause Rate). I'm not using hundreds and thousands as metaphors…

innocent drinks facebook

[Update: As no less than three comments mention below, Innocent is 90% owned by Coca Cola. Fooled me! Please read the above section in that context. But I have to admit this only makes me even more impressed with Innocent. In a massively large company they've carved out an identity uniquely their own. They refuse to be corrupted by Coca Cola's own Facebook strategy of constant self-pimping and product ads masquerading as "updates." As a result pound for pound Innocent's fan engagement on its page is multiple time better than Coca Cola's - even if the latter has many more likes. So Innocent, I'm sorry of thinking if you were a David but I'm mighty proud that you can remain that inside a Corporate Machine. There is hope yet for all other brands at P&G, Unilever, Nestle, Kraft, Pepsico, J&J, etc. etc.]

Tide is not lame. They are not going to obsess about the number of Likes. They will measure the four sexy magnificent best social media metrics and use them to drive a magnificent conversation marketing strategy on Facebook (and YouTube and Google+ and Twitter and Pintrest and…).

Neither should you Ms./Mr. Marketer. Because Likes (and +1s, Followers) measure a fleeting Hello. It is what you do after that first hello that creates business value. Focus on that, and you'll get big 5. Buying targeted impressions = business impact.

PS: Bonus: Facebook Advertising / Marketing: Best Metrics, ROI, Business Value

4. # 1 Search Results Ranking = SEO Success.

Not going to happen.

So what is it? When you search for a brand or a category term, most companies, small or big, want to show up number one in the search results.

search results ranking

Much money is spent on all kinds of demands to SEOs, big or small, which results in all kinds of shenanigans to try and get to #1. Sadly all that yields very little.

The main reason, as all decent SEOs will tell you, is that search results are no longer standardized. Rather they are personalized. I might even say, hyper-personalized. Regardless of if you are logged in or not.

When I search for "avinash" on Google I might rank #1 in the search results because I'm logged into my Google account, the engine has my search history, my computer IP address, it also has searches by others in my vicinity, local stories right now, and so many other signals.

But when you search for "avinash" your first search result might be a unicorn. Because the search engine has determined that the perfect search result for you for the keyword avinash is a unicorn.

[Do the search wherever you are, do you see me or a unicorn? Share via comments!]

You should give up obsessing about only the number one keyword ranking for just this reason. But of course there are many others. Universal search for example means that personalized results will not only look for information from web pages, they also look for YouTube/Vimoe videos, social listings, images of course, and so on and so forth. Then let's not forget that proportionaly there are very few head searches, your long tail searches will be huge. Oh and remember that no one types a word or two, people use long phrases.

There are a ton more reasons obsessing about the rank of a handful of words on the search engine results page (SERP) is a very poor decision.

So check your keyword ranking if it pleases you. If your boss insists that your brand must rank #1 for x, y, z keywords, before you show him/her progress log into Bing on his/her computer, search for x, y, z and click on your brand (even if it is on page 2), and chances are when he/she searches for x, y, z they might see your brand ranking #1. :)

But don't make it your KPI.

There are many other better no way I'll get fired SEO metrics.

For purely SEO, you can use Crawl Rate/Depth, Inbound Links (just good ones) and growth (or lack there of) in your target key phrases as decent starting points. You can graduate to looking at search traffic by site content or types of content you have (it's a great signal your SEO is working). Measuring Visits and Conversions in aggregate first and segmented by keywords (or even key word clusters) will get you on the path to showing real impact. That gives you short term acquisition quality, you can then move to long term quality by focusing on metrics like lifetime value.

Don't start with LTV, it is hard. Use the step by step process above. And you'll get promoted.

5. REDUCE MY CPC! REDUCE MY CPC NOW!!

I. Hate. This. One.

H. A. T. E.

Deep breath.

It upsets me greatly when I see companies create entire Pay Per Click / Search Engine Marketing strategies based on this single metric.

I've heard this more times than I care to remember: "Our CPC for our Bing/Yandex campaigns was $2.25. This quarter the goal of our PPC campaign is to get that to $2."

Arrrrhhhhh!

This is the image that comes to my mind.

short sighted decisions

Image Credit Frits Ahlefeldt

Let me use an example here.

Let's say you have a stock portfolio with someone like E-Trade. As a prudent investor you'll buy low and sell high. (Easier said than done!) When you trade stocks you'll incur a per trade fee from E-Trade, usually $10.

Would you measure the success of your trades based on cost per trade? Would your overall trading strategy be to reduce that price to $9 next month?

Of course not, that would be insane.

You will measure the impact on the bottom-line as a result of the trades. How much profit did you generate?

Likewise for the results of your Bing/Yandex campaigns.

You should not care if the CPC is $2 or $25. If someone is on Bing and raising their hand that they want to buy a vacuum cleaner, then you should be willing to pay to show up to sell a vacuum cleaner because that is what your company does.

You should judge the success of that showing up by measure if you made money! Did you earn any profit?

As you buy paid search tools, hire smart people/agencies, you should measure if you are able to make more and more profit. You should measure if over a long period of time you are able to increase the lifetime value of PPC acquired customers.

CPC is a profoundly silly indication of your search strategy success. It causes companies to make silly decisions, which leads to poor results (both for the digital strategy and your career).

Friends don't let friends use CPC as a KPI. Unless said friends want the friend fired.

6. Page views. Give me more page views, more and more and more!

Content consumption is a horrible metric. It incentivises sub optimal behavior in your employees/agencies.

If you are a news site, you can get millions of page views writing stories like, (not kidding, all real headlines), "10 Reasons Apple's Innovation Machine is Dead" or "The Kardashians Are On Vacation In Greece" or "Guy Performs "Do My Thing " In Sailor Moon Outfits Made Of Construction Paper". And it will probably get you transient traffic.

Then that traffic goes away. So your next story is "22 Longer Sex Condom Ads From Around The World".

That works for 40 minutes. Then what?

And what about business impact from all these one night stands ? Unless the spammy display ads on your site are getting you $14,000 CPM, your company won't be able to afford your salary for too long.

pageviews trend

If you are in the content only business (say my beloved New York Times) a better metric to focus on is Visitor Loyalty (and if like me you are a paying subscriber: Customer Loyalty). Rather than focusing on a transient metric, you focus on your site's ability to deliver such value to the visitor that they come back again and again – and pay you!

If your are in the lead generation business and do the "OMG let's publish a infographic on dancing monkey tricks which will get us a billion page views, even though we have nothing to do with dancing or monkeys or tricks" thing, measure success on the number of leads received and not how "viral" the infographic went and how many reshares it got on Twitter.

If you are in the ecommerce business the only reason to care about pageviews (in a pages/visit context) is to obsess about understanding how to create the most optimal shopping and purchase experience on your site (and the fewest pageviews to happen in the checkout!).

Don't obsess about page views. Spend a short amount of time thinking what causes your salary to get paid, the bottom-line. Then measure the metric closest to that. Hopefully some ideas above will help get you promoted.

7. Impressions. Go, get me some impressions stat!

Display advertising is an integral part of any digital marketer's repertoire. As it should be.

But I'm heart broken when the success of their Facebook/AOL/Doubleclick/Video ads is purely based on impressions.

If you are forced to watch, say a TV or Digital Video, ad, perhaps we can summarize that you actually saw it. You can imagine how tenuous the connection to impact is for "impressions" of banner ads (all shapes, sizes, levels of intrusiveness). Did they really see them?

display ad formats

My hypothesis is that TV/Radio/Magazines have created this bad habit. We can measure so little, almost next to nothing, that we've brought our immensely shaky GRP metric from TV to digital. Here it's called impressions.

Don't buy impressions.

(I know you are holding a gun to my head so I'll say this…) Buy engagement. Define what it means first of course .

I'll be a smidgen more delighted if you evolve to measuring clicks on those ads. It is a signal that someone saw something and clicked on it.

If you are willing to go to clicks, do one better and measure Visits. At least they showed up on your mobile/desktop site.

Now if you are a newbie, measure bounce rate. If you have a tiny amount of experience measure Visit Duration. If you are a pro, measure Revenue. If you are an Analysis Ninja, measure Profit.

Impressions suck. Profit rocks.

Perhaps you disagree. That is ok. We are both reasonable people. You can buy impressions if you can prove via a simple controlled experiment that when we show impressions we got more engagement/sales and when we don't show impressions we did not get more engagement/sales. And I'll be extra sweet to you, the display/video impressions don't even have to be last click! Actually you don't even have to have a click!!

If the simple A/B (test/control) experiment demonstrates that delivering display banner ad impressions to the test group delivers increased revenue, buy impressions to your heart's content. I'll only recommend that you repeat the experiment once a quarter. See, I can be reasonable.

But if you won't do the experiment and you use the # of impressions as a measure of success, don't get too comfortable in your chair. Bye, bye, coming soon.

8. Demographics and psychographics. That is all I need! Don't care for intent!

This is not a metric, this is more of a what data you'll use to target your advertising issue.

Another legacy of old channels of advertising like TV, magazines and radio. Our primary method of buying advertising and marketing is: "I would like to reach 90 year old grandmas that love knitting, what tv channel should I advertise on." Or they might say: "I would like to reach 18 to 24 year olds with college education who supported Barack Obama for president." And example of demographic and psychographic segments.

We would have no idea if Grandma actually wanted what we sold or if the young person was remotely interested in our service/product. But we had no intent. We just had results of questions asked during dinner to phone surveys and content habits. We use that on very thin ice data, we bought advertising. That was our lot in life.

[Did you know 50% of of TV viewership is on networks that each have <1% share? Per industry.bnet.com. I dare you to imagine how difficult it is to measure who they are, and how to target them to pimp your shampoo, car, cement.]

psychographic segments

We do the same on the web. We go to Google+ or Facebook or AOL and say "Hey, you have a billion people, give me their age and education and let me send a deluge of display ads to them or push my promoted posts!"

The click-through rates prove the poorness of that strategy. Just look at your own reports.

Intent beats demographics and psychographics. Always.

So if you have advertising money to spend, first spend it all on advertising that provides you intent data. (Don't worry, you'll have plenty left over to gamble on demographic/psychographic data. I promise.)

Two examples.

Search has a ton of strong intent. It does not matter if you are a grandma or a 18 year old. If you are on Baidu and you search for the HTC One, you are expressing strong intent. Second, content consumption has intent built in. If I'm reading lots of articles about how to get pregnant, you could show me an ad related to that (even if I'm a man, I'm actively expressing interest in getting pregnant!).

The first intent is strong, the second one is weaker. (If you use remarketing you can make that second intent even stronger.) But in both cases the most important thing is not how old I am or my gender or my education or the number of legs I have.

intent marketing

There is a lot of intent data on the web. That is our key strength. Don't waste your marketing and advertising on targeting, delivery and engagement mental models that were created in the age of Mad Men. Leverage the mental models of our day and age and you'll be immensely successful.

I wish you all the very best!

Ok, as always, it is your turn now.

There is perhaps no limit to the number of silly mistakes Marketers (or pall bearers or butchers or…) can make. Do you have favorite mistakes that are not listed above? Which personal "mistake" taught you the most valuable lesson of your career? Do you agree with the eight above? Which one do you most disagree with? Any thoughts on the cultural challenges that cause us to make these mistakes?

Your insights, advice, helpful tips and critique are most welcome.

Thank you.

Eight Silly Data Things Marketing People Believe That Get Them Fired. is a post from: Occam's Razor by Avinash Kaushik

3 Tips for Selling B2B SEO to Your Boss

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by Nick Stamoulis

I came across this great article on Search Engine Watch a while back and I was blown away by this statistic;

While a mere 8 percent of search engine clicks come from paid search, 89 percent of the search budget is invested in search engine marketing. Conversely, while 92 percent of search engine clicks are organic in origin, a mere 11 percent of the search engine budget is invested in organic search.

I couldn’t believe that such a small percentage of a brand’s budget would be invested back into SEO when the numbers clearly showed that it was by far the better investment. I think a lot of in-house marketing managers (and even in-house SEOs) still struggle with getting their managers and the C-suite on board with B2B SEO because A–it’s incredibly long term and the people that dole out the budget are looking for immediate ROI, and B–it’s hard to say “if we invest X dollars in SEO we’ll get X dollars back in sales.” The numbers are definitely there if you have the patience to wait a little while and sort through the data, but typically it’s not a quick and easy road to success. But I firmly believe that without a strong B2B SEO campaign (which means your boss needs to be on-board and supporting your initiative) your online brand is going to get completely lost in the shuffle.

Here are 3 tips for selling B2B SEO to your boss to get the budget it deserves:

Admit that rankings matter…a little bit

Personally, I hate ranking reports as a way to measure to B2B SEO success. The truth is that rankings can fluctuate from day to day, hour to hour and searcher to searcher, making it hard to show real, true SEO value with ranking reports. But I also understand that ranking well typically means getting more visitors to your site and that’s a business metric a B2B manager can get behind. So find out what your boss’s “big keywords” are and pull ranking data (using a tool like SEOMoz) for those keywords. But don’t limit yourself to just those keywords (especially if they aren’t ones you can effectively compete for!) Incorporate all the long-tails keywords you’ve added into your B2B SEO program, as well as keywords that searchers are using to find your site but maybe you aren’t actively targeting on your website. Every month break it down as to how many keywords moved up and how far they jumped. In my experience it’s a lot easier to go from page 3 to page 2 than page 2 to page 1. If 65% of your keywords jumped in rank that’s a good thing and a big SEO win, even if the number of keywords on page 1 didn’t grow by much.

Show how your content is doing organically.

My team handles the content creation for one of our full service B2B SEO clients. For one of their priority keywords their product page usually hovers around spots 3 and 4 in Google SERPs. But on pages 2-5 they have at least one blog post also showing up for the same keyword. This means that their brand is represented multiple times throughout the top 50 search results–talk about a B2B SEO win! It’s important to remind your bosses that Google doesn’t rank websites as a whole; each page stands on its own. This means you have the ability to leverage your content marketing efforts to carve out a larger chunk of the SERPs for your brand and really dominate for certain keywords. The more touch points your can create the better chance you have of drawing the right kind of traffic to your site. This is especially important for B2B brands, as the buying cycle can be very long. You want to make it hard for your target audience it avoid you organically! The content you produce can be crawled and ranked by the search engines, just like any other page on your website, creating new landing pages that give searchers a reason to come back to your site time and time again.

Figure out how expensive a PPC conversion is.

Depending on how competitive your keywords are, one visitor from a PPC ad could cost easily cost you $8. Some SEO related keywords cost as much as $15 a click! How much growth is your boss looking for this year? Let’s say your site is getting 5,000 visitors a month right now and they want that to grow 20% by the end of the year. That’s an extra 1,000 visitors (and a cool $8,000) a month. And what is the conversion rate of your paid visitors? 2% maybe? That means you are spending an extra $8k to get an extra 20 conversions each month, which rounds out to $400 per conversion from paid search! When you lay the numbers (and cost) in front of your boss suddenly a biggest investment in B2B SEO sounds like a much better plan!

The most important thing to remember when it comes to selling B2B SEO to your boss is that you’ve got to set their expectations to be realistic from the get-go. If you promise 70% growth by the end of the year and only come up with 30% (which could still mean thousands of visitors!) your B2B SEO campaign is going to look like a failure. Be an internal SEO champion and work to educate everyone, including your bosses, as to how valuable SEO is going to be for your website!

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

April 19th 2013 Search Engine Marketing

The Definitive Guide to Google Analytics for SEO Professionals

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by Jayson DeMers

Google Analytics makes it possible to track SEO efforts, and has been used by businesses the world over to track ROI on internet marketing. The new Google Analytics platform has been a steep learning curve for some SEO professionals, especially those who were accustomed to the classic layout. However, the “new” analytics comes with more than just a confusing layout. It also has additional features that make it easier than ever to track ROI from internet marketing and SEO efforts.

New Layout and Features

The new Google Analytics layout has an orange bar with these main tabs running inside it: Home, Account Selection Drop-Down, Reporting, Customization, Admin, and Help. The drop-down shows the current account/site that is being displayed. The default report shown in the main screen is the Audience Overview, which gives overall visits, bounce rate, pageviews, etc. for the past 30 days. 

analytics-trend.jpg

The best
thing about the new Google
Analytics is how
much it can be customized
.
For SEO professionals, the audience overview metrics are certainly important,
but it’s possible to create a custom dashboard that includes these metrics, as
well as top keyword phrases and traffic referrals. This would give a good
“at-a-glance” view of the top metrics that gauge the influence of SEO
efforts.

The default
dashboard metrics include new visits, unique visitors, visits (by location),
visits by browser, avg. visit duration & pages per visit, goal completions,
bounce rate, and revenue. These can be moved, deleted, or edited by hovering
over the title of each section. To add a new section, select “Add
Widget” at the top of page. This customized dashboard can also be emailed
on a scheduled basis (weekly, monthly, etc) or exported via PDF.

analytics-dashboard.jpg

It’s also
important to note that the dashboard and report customizations are only saved
for the current account (as shown in the drop-down menu). When a new or
different account is selected, the options are reverted back to default unless
they have been customized as well.

When editing
a widget on the dashboard via a pop-up window, you can choose how they are
displayed: timeline, table, bar, pie, or metric. Each type has a variety of
different options.

analytics-widget.jpg

New Reporting Metrics

Some of
customizations available on the widgets and dashboard can also be seen on the
new reports via the Advanced Segments section. This allows the user to add
additional reporting segments, such as new visitors or search traffic, to the
current report.

The new
reports also offer additional, more specific segments that weren’t available in
previous versions of Google Analytics. These advanced metrics give SEOs a
better overall view of the actions people take on a website or blog.

For instance,
the improved Visitors Flow chart under Audience Reports gives an easy, overall
view of enter and exit pages (designated as Drop Offs), as well as what users
do in between. 

real-time-visitors.jpg

Monitoring
this chart can help identify key pages where users are dropping off as a hint
that the page needs to be re-worked, either through content, call to action, or
other marketing strategies. For example, if many users drop off after a package
description page, then the package copy may be too confusing or the packages
themselves may not be what users are looking for. Experimenting with different
outcomes can help identify the issue. 

Another new feature of Google Analytics that will help SEO professionals is Cost Data Import, where users can see performance data for paid marketing channels, including non-Google paid search. Users can compare channels, keywords, and campaigns.

cost-data-import.jpg

Social Media Reporting

The worlds of social media and search engine marketing continue to collide, especially because Bing and Google display social links in their search results. Google’s new section on social media metrics makes it possible to see which social networks (which also include commenting systems like Disqus) are resulting in the most site referrals. Users can also set up a cost analysis by configuring conversion goals that determine social value.


social-media-seo.jpg

Besides the
referring social network, Google also gives information, when possible, on the
user who posted the message and link, as well as trackbacks, which are links to
pages on a website. This can be especially useful for referrals from external publishers as a result of guest blogging efforts. The social reporting section also includes reports on
plugins and an additional Visitors Flow chart with the originating social
network listed as the first step. By finding out which pages and content are
attracted to social networking users, SEOs should better craft their content
strategy for pages that social users visit most. This may include seasonal
campaigns and giveaway pages.

Real-Time Statistics

One of the new
reporting features that’s exciting for SEO professionals is real-time
analytics, which tracks live traffic, top active pages, and top keywords. It
also shows top locations and pageviews per minute. This type of data is insightful
for company executives who want to understand the real-time impact of a marketing
campaign, and for SEOs who want an instant view of traffic based on new
content, events, or campaigns. 

real-time-visitors.jpg

Search Phrases & Traffic Sources

The “real-time
top keywords” is a great metric to track for SEOs, as well as the overall
search phrases from a set time period, such as the last month or week. This is
a classic feature of Google Analytics that continues to be especially valuable
for SEOs.

Utilizing the
Search Engine Optimization report under Traffic Sources in the Standard Reports
sidebar, users can see the top sections of queries for a set time period.
Checking this regularly can help authors come up with blog post or content
ideas, as well as better optimization of paid search campaigns. For instance, if
there are repeated queries for a service that a company website doesn’t have a
content page for (but currently offers), this should be added. Comparing the
current date range to the one previous (e.g. the last 30 days with the 30 days
before it) also gives SEO professionals a good idea of the demand of queries
for specific keywords.

The Traffic
Sources Overview and Referral reports are also a classic feature of Google
Analytics that continues to be crucial. SEOs can see what percentage of their
website traffic is from organic search traffic, paid campaigns, direct traffic,
or referral traffic (e.g. other websites). Drilling down in the referral
sources can also display the specific page that users came from.

Incorporating
a strategy that includes the new features of Google Analytics, such as social
networking, real-time data, and cost analytics, as well as the features SEO
professionals know and love, such as traffic sources and keyword queries, those
in the search industry can find a wealth of information about its websites
users and their behavior. Tracking these patterns and implementing trends into existing
SEO strategy and practices will lead to better customized on-page and social
SEO that is more effective and yields higher ROI.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

Bing Ads Sticks With Improved Reporting Interface

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Bing Ads announced that the new reporting user interface released in October is now the default. Users will no longer see the option to switch to the old reporting version. The updated reporting UI includes: A new, Wunderbar-style navigation for faster access to reports Report creation in half the…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

February 16th 2013 PPC, Search Engine Marketing, sem

Bing Ads Updates Pro Accreditation Training; Exam Is Now Free

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Bing has announced updates to its Bing Ads Accredited Professional Program for search marketers looking to get certified as “Pro Bingers”.  Among the changes, Bing transitioned the training segments from video based to text based content. Users can now view the training on the Bing Ads website or…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

February 13th 2013 PPC, Search Engine Marketing, sem

10 Reasons You Need to Attend SMX West – March 11-13 in Silicon Valley

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Internet marketing success means knowing what works, testing what’s new and measuring everything. Search Engine Land’s – SMX West is where professional internet marketers like you go for the latest tactics for increasing traffic, conversions and sales. Here are 10 reasons why you should…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.