Posts tagged 201
What The Wire Can Teach Us About SEM - Part 2 of 2

(In case you missed it: Part 1 of 2)

“All in the game, yo. All in the game.” - Omar Little

Omar Little - All in the Game, Yo

At the end of the day, SEO is a kind of game. It’s a very serious game with billions of dollars riding on it, sure, but it’s a game nonetheless. There are rules and strategies that work - that have been proven to work for years. Even when the rules change (aka Google gets a big idea), smart players simply work to familiarize themselves with and exploit the new playing field.

There will be bumps in the road (there may also be a few boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios and bags of cash dropped from on high), but dogged and intelligent pursuit of organic power using the rules that search engines created and SEOs have trail-blazed is a surefire route to success.

“I want my corners.” - Avon Barksdale

Stringer Bell believed in a new kind of game - the game beyond the game as he memorably put it - and he stopped believing in the importance of territory. It was a classic case of vision becoming unmoored from reality. Yes, in a perfect world Stringer’s strategy might have worked, but in the real world it was always going to be a flop. Owning the corners was a fundamental building block of the drug trade in Baltimore - you couldn’t divorce them from the rest of your strategy. The same idea can be applied to SEM; you’ll never get anywhere unless you execute on fundamentals. You’ve got to have your corners.

There are dozens of aspects of SEM that all contribute to a better organized and optimized web presence. There are a hundred ways to make your online presence more visible, more effective, and more profitable. But there are a few rock solid fundamentals that absolutely every SEM effort will fail without.

  • Content
    • Without it, you don’t exist to search engines.
  • Site Structure and Speed
    • Without it, you don’t exist to Google.
  • Analytics
    • Without it, you are flying completely blind.

Without those basic building blocks in place, nothing else you do is going to work the way it should, or the way you want it to. There is a game beyond the game, there surely is - but you’ve gotta have your corners.

“‘Failure to properly identify myself as a police officer.’ Sounds like what I was guilty of most of my career, actually.” - Detective Roland Pryzbylewski

Prez was not natural police. He got on the force because his father-in-law was a higher up in the department, he was unable to control his fear in the field, and he consistently failed to take his situation as seriously as he should. He just wasn’t a good cop - he wasn’t cut out for it.

But he was a fantastic teacher. After being drummed out of the force he ended up working in Baltimore public schools and making a real difference. It was a match for his skill set - it was his calling.

We see this happen a lot with e-commerce sites. They can get carried away chasing rankings and traffic for terms that aren’t their real strengths. If you’re a company that makes vacuum cleaners, then focus on selling vacuum cleaners! Don’t waste time and money trying to rank for other items that are insignificant in the larger scheme of things, and which are inferior products to your main offerings. Know thyself, and do what you do when you do what you do.

“A man got to have a code.” - Omar Little/Bunk Moreland

Perhaps the most quoted line from The Wire. It expresses the moral center of the entire show - that a man must have a personal code of conduct that transcends the law, and any traditional or makeshift authority or set of rules. It’s an acknowledgement from Omar that there is indeed a “game beyond the game” - but it’s not about what Stringer thought it was. It’s about integrity.

We would argue that’s the primary value of an SEO company as well.

At Delegator we don’t do black hat SEO - while it may pay off in short term results, we know it’s a losing strategy in the long game and a threat to the businesses of our clients.

We track and keep our clients apprised of their organic and PPC results at all times - good or bad. That keeps us accountable.

We assign an account manger for each client so that communication never breaks down, and there’s always someone looking out for your best interests with skin in the game.

We believe in comprehensive packages that keep us flexible, rather than monthly draws on your bank account for services you might not need anymore or that may have become less important to your business.

It’s all in the game, yo. All in the game.

The Top Ten Ways to Optimize Your Wordpress Blog and Make It More Powerful than Ever - Part II

Welcome back campers to the exciting conclusion of our two part mini-series on juicing up your Wordpress blog. Hopefully you've had enough time to lay the groundwork with our last round of suggestions - now it's time to blow the roof off. Enjoy!

6. SEO Packs

Okay, most of the things on this list are good for any blog anywhere. But Wordpress has a few major advantages when it comes to SEO. One of the best is the All In One SEO Pack, a nifty plug-in that allows you to create meta data at the same time you write and post your blog entry (and you don’t have to mess with code at all). There’s a whole world of great plug-ins at Wordpress - take the time to dig through them and find the ones that are the best for you. (Hint: The ones that are the best for you are the ones that make running the blog easier and more efficient!).

7. Posting Regularity

Self-explanatory, but here we go for the back of the class - if you don’t post with regularity your readers will not keep coming back to see what you have to say. Even if no one is commenting, no one seems to be reading and you feel like you’re talking to a brick wall, post with regularity! It’s vital to your success. New folks won’t want to read through a blog started in 2010 that has four posts.

8. Posting Volume

Regularity is the most important thing, but volume is essential as well. Once a month is fine if that’s the best you can do, but the most successful and popular blogs post daily - usually many times a day. Do your best to write as much as you can. Remember, it’s okay to be a little bit unfiltered, or even occasionally wrong on a point of fact - your community will correct you, and a blog is a living document. You can always correct the record.

9. Comments

We’ve touched on comments earlier in the post, but they’re so, so important to your success. Allow them, and read them, and post and promote them if they’re worthy. When you listen to your readers they tend to listen to you, stay engaged, and keep your blog on their roster of daily reading. Yes, sometimes comments can get annoying. But they're an excellent way to engage.

10. Blog to Blog Partnerships

This is a fun and productive way of keeping up your volume and regularity, gain access to new and larger communities of readers, and of course make friends. When you can have online conversations with other blogs, go back and forth and mix and mingle your content, you spread your message. Go forth and befriend.

And now, go forth and conquer. Huzzah!

The Top Ten Ways to Optimize Your Wordpress Blog and Make It More Powerful Than Ever - Part I

1. Top Ten Lists

You see what we did there? Top ten lists are enduringly popular. They present a lot of information in quick, easy to read bits, they give the reader a reason to keep reading, they show off expertise and a depth of knowledge, and they create arguments. And that’s what blogging is all about. Not many people know this, but the Ten Commandments are considered to be the very first blog post.

2. Infographics

In an increasingly visual society infographics are a fantastic way to draw the eye, impart information, and get your blog linked. A lot. Make it good, make it useful, make it colorful (literally and figuratively) and put it out there to get noticed.

3. Keyword-Rich, Compelling, Unique Headlines

This is an SEO recommendation combined with an interest-grabbing tactic. Most people read blogs in compressions (think Google Reader, RSS, etc.) and the headline is often the only chance you have to get them to read what you wrote. Moreover, headlines are a great way to get the attention of the google-bots crawling the internet looking for relevant, useful content. Make your headlines attention grabbers, but also fill them with keywords. For instance, “Optimize Wordpress Blog.” See what we did there?

4. Unique Content

For SEO purposes this is absolutely essential. Never take content from another source and present it as your own (unless you’re quoting), and don’t repeat yourself. The bots don’t like it. And you won’t like the bots when they’re angry. Besides, who wants to spend their time reading an un-orginal blog?

5. Reader Participation

Blogs need communities of readers to really thrive. And the best way to build that community is to engage with them. That doesn’t just mean good content, headlines and graphics. That means literally inviting them in, listening to their thoughts and airing their opinions. Keep and cultivate a vibrant comments section (don’t let it get abusive), post reader polls, ask questions, and post worthy thoughts on your main pages as blogs. Involve your readers and they’ll keep you in their life.

Check back in with us in the next few weeks, when we'll reveal the rest of the top 10 list. We want to give you some time to start working on the first five. See you then!

Top 5 Custom Advanced Segments for E-commerce Websites

The “Advanced Segments” feature on Google Analytics has been helping companies optimize website analysis for a few years now, and gurus across the globe have designed their favorite custom segments for all brands of websites. We have a few favorites of our own around here at Delegator, especially for our e-commerce clients. If you are looking for more useful, streamlined filters on your own e-commerce account, here are five custom segments we highly recommend.

1. Visits with Add to CartE-commerce Advanced Segments

Google Analytics has a default segment called "Visits with Transactions." Convenient, right? What we discovered is that we not only love having shoppers roll up to the conveyor belt and checkout, but we also want to know who may have added items to her cart but failed to commit to a full-on transaction. Filtered metrics like these can often give you superior insight, both for debugging purposes and, particularly, for content analysis.

2. Specific Product Purchases

One simple fact of e-commerce is that some items generate higher transaction rates than others. You know your company's hottest items. Customizing this filter will take your product analysis beyond the scope of e-commerce’s “Product Performance.” Now you can dig into AdWords under Traffic Sources and identify the types of keywords that commonly lead to a particular item transaction. This same method can be applied to specific product views, as well, revealing similar data on a wider scope.

3. High Revenue Products

Not only do some items produce higher conversion rates, but some produce higher revenue than others. You need to isolate these items for many purposes, including --but definitely not limited to-- identifying potential revenue skews and improving marketing on these items. These high-dollar products are what you’re banking on, so go ahead and give them their own special segment.

4. Low Revenue Products

This segment is as useful as number 3. Ever wonder how many of your conversions are being sucked up by low-revenue items on your website? Set a low ceiling price in this segment and check out how many viewers are only buying your cheapest products. If this number is high, you may consider redirecting your marketing campaign to a wider audience with more promising high-revenue returns. Additionally, you may reconsider the prominence of low-revenue items on your site in order to draw more attention to higher quality products.

5. Social Networks

While we know that most popular social media sites receive a lot of traffic in general, you ultimately need to know how this is reflected in profit for your business. Is your time spent on social media worth the investment? With a social media filter, you can include any or all social mediums utilized. You may find that some networks are more profitable than others, and some, not at all. Social networks guarantee exposure, but as any good business does, you need to check your actual return on investment.

Thanks to Google Analytics, customizing your own advanced segments is a simple process with great returns. Give these five segments a try, and you may find yourself designing even more streamlined segments that fit your business perfectly. If this does happen, feel free to drop by and share!

Longtail Geo-Targeting Your Content and Keywords or, Why It’s Good to Be “Chattanooga SEO Experts” instead of “SEO Experts.”

Many of our clients came to us at first because they had become frustrated trying to do their own SEO copywriting. The big terms they wanted to rank for, like “personal injury lawyer” or “office furniture” just weren’t seeing much traction on the Google results page, no matter how hard they tried and no matter how much content they wrote. They came to Delegator wanting to know why - and, if we were so smart, how could we fix it? For a large percentage of these clients, the answer was very simple. They were going after keywords that were much too competitive for their budget. For instance, the term “personal injury lawyer” gets 368,000 searches per month and a competition ranking of “High,” according to Google, which has over 12 million indexed pages for that single term. For small to medium sized law firms that can be a tall mountain to climb with a limited budget. In cases like this we often recommend that our clients employ geo-targeted long tail keywords. Which is a fancy way of saying, “Put the name of your city, state or region in front of the term you want to rank for.”

Geo Targeting Keywords

“Personal injury lawyer” then becomes “Tennessee personal injury lawyer.” The second term, as you might imagine, gets fewer searches per month than the first (1,600). However, because there are fewer searches, and often less competition, there is more opportunity for small to mid-sized businesses and firms. Yes, you will be fishing in a smaller pond with less fish - but because you won’t be competing with 12 million other fisherman, you’ll be more likely to bring in a great catch.

But that’s not the only advantage of geo-targeted long tails. Not only is there less competition, the people who are performing searches for your new keyword are more likely to click and convert. Why? Because the use of a longer, more specific keyword has filtered your results. Instead of getting calls from Montana and Ottawa, where you might not be willing or able to do business, you’re only going to get hits from local, interested searchers who have self-selected for their viability and availability as clients.

Less work and administrative headaches, more interested and viable searchers, and a higher ranking--that’s the beauty of a geo-targeted longtail keyword. You can trust us - we’re “Chattanooga SEO Experts!”

Campaign Tagging with Google Analytics

“Half of our marketing is working...we just don’t know which half.”

Those of you using Google Analytics can probably point to some basic reports that explain at a high level which half of your internet marketing is working, but why stop there? Why not pin point much of your online (and even some offline) efforts more specifically to gain better understanding of how each part of each campaign contributes to your online marketing success?

With Google’s Campaign Tagging, you can do just that by adding valuable information to the inbound links that you have the ability to control. This data can be found in Google Analytics under Traffic Sources then Campaigns.

Google Analytics Campaigns You may already be familiar with the Campaigns section under Traffic Sources if you’re using Google AdWords. While your AdWords data will also show up in the newer “AdWords” section of the Traffic Sources, AdWords campaigns will continue to show in the Campaigns section as long as you have auto-tagging turned on in the Analytics Settings.

So AdWords is auto-tagged, but what about other inbound links? Enter Google’s URL Builder. This is the tool that makes custom campaign tagging a breeze.

Google Analytics URL Builder

Over my next few posts I’ll explain how to use the URL Builder to tag various links including links in emails, cost-per-click links, banner ads, press releases, Facebook posts, Tweets, shortened URLs, and even some offline efforts.

Goals in Analytics: Does Your Site Measure Up?

Recently, I wrote about Google Analytics and claimed that it is a must-have for any serious website. Hopefully some of you took heed and installed Analytics on your own site. With Analytics in place, you can now rest assured that a lot of important information is being tracked. The trick now is making that vast amount of information useful for your business. The easiest way to do this is through Goals. Goals provide a simple, intuitive way to get a lot out of your web data. After all, every webmaster  has goals for their website. Why not track them? In Analytics, we can even go a step further by assigning relative values to multiple goals. Say a blog subscription is worth half as much to you as a lead form submission, but it is worth twice as much as an order form download. Use these numbers as your goal inputs, keeping in mind that they should reflect some economic value to your business.

Goals in Analytics

This opens up a new stream of data in Analytics - and one that should be quite useful for your marketing efforts. Now you will be able to see what kind of value you are getting from your organic search marketing, paid search, and social media. If you notice you get $50 of value for every $20 you spend on AdWords, then consider spending more on AdWords. If you only get $10 of value, then you may need to optimize your paid search strategy.

Analytics Goal Values

For more information on how to set up goals, check out a primer from the Official Analytics blog. And it will be worth your while to read the Godfather of Analytics, Avinash Kaushik, detail his obsession with economic goal values.

3 Reasons to Stop Worrying and Love Display Advertising

Who says Google AdWords is just about search? Sure it takes a search background to properly manage an AdWords account, but if you are ignoring the creative display opportunities with Google, then you are missing a large part of your market. There are plenty of reasons why advertising in general and the Display Network more specifically can be advantageous for your business or blog. Here are our top 3:

1. The Network

The size and reach of Google’s Display Network are unmatched by any other ad exchange. Google’s network serves 6 billion ad impressions each day on hundreds of thousands of websites. In fact, a recent study determined that the network reaches about 80% of all internet users globally.

Most companies will not have a global target market, but if you are trying to reach any audience, you’ll want to start with Google.

2. The Pricing

Display advertising has long been a part of most businesses’ marketing plans, but Google has done a great job of streamlining everything - and lowering costs in the process. Besides the vast network, the main feature that sets Google apart from the display norm is CPC bidding instead of a flat CPM. CPC, or cost-per-click, advertising means you pay only when a user clicks through to your website.The CPM standard is to pay per thousand impressions, or whenever your ad appears on a page.

This means you can gain free brand equity in the form of impressions. For example, say someone sees your ad, doesn’t click on it, and goes to your site later. This costs you nothing. AdWords even has a nifty metric called View-Through Conversions that captures the value added by these visitors.

3. The Tools

This is the icing on the top of Google’s Display cake. You can have all the market share in the world (or 80% in this case), but it won’t resonate with advertisers unless you give them the tools and the data to properly target their customers. Google comes through here with a host of tools including Site Exclusion, Demographic Targeting, and Display Ad Builder, that will guide you through the process of creating an ad and choosing proper (while excluding improper) placements.

And of course you'll have access to the entire suite of general AdWords tools and reports that can assist you with keyword research and experimental testing.

So if you're not advertising with Google yet, start. If you're search advertising, but haven't made the leap to display yet, now is your time.

4 Ways Google Instant Affects SEM

Google Instant LaunchGoogle’s new search update, Google Instant, launched on September 8th and has everyone in the SEM (Search Engine Marketing) world talking. While the full effects of Instant have yet to materialize, I wanted to give my early ideas on its implications for the future of search and how it could affect your site. 1. User Behavior Will Change

The most interesting thing to keep an eye on with Google Instant will be how it affects user behavior. The consensus is that it will change the way people search, but because the technology is so new, no one knows exactly how it will make that change. My instinct is that it will create "lazier" search queries, as people rely on the Google suggestion to complete their thought. This could mean less long-tail searches and will almost certainly mean less click-throughs to the second page of results.

What we should see from an SEO perspective is a greater premium placed on ranking on the first page, and in the Top 3 more specifically. If this holds true, it would hardly be an unintended consequence. Google’s SEO guru Matt Cutts has stated that “a key insight behind Google Instant is that we want to get people answers and solve their problems faster”.

2. Big Brands Will Gain an Edge

Another side effect I’ve noticed in the Google Instant debut is a visibility boost for top brands. This applies to both the paid and organic listings. I cannot help but notice when I type A, I get Amazon, E is eBay, and W is Walmart. Instead of serving a hybrid distribution of results for the letter E (ESPN, E-Trade, Expedia, etc.), Google gives me a full page of eBay results and ads.

The cynic in me wants to say Google is trying to boost some of their top spenders on AdWords such as the aforementioned Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. The line of thought here is that these top advertisers will accrue residual impressions and clicks, increasing Google’s take from AdWords, their cash cow. The reality is likely less sinister than that, but there is no denying that big brands are afforded an advantage in Instant.

Google Instant - eBay

3. Long-Tail Searches Will Change

Long-tail searches ("green eggs and ham" vs "breakfast") are more focused and have less volume than a general one or two word search, but they often lead to more precise results and, thus, strong conversions. Some people have jumped to the conclusion that Google Instant effectively kills the long-tail and will hurt sites that have focused their efforts there. I think that is a bit extreme, and I would encourage anyone to watch their analytics as I think there are potential positive and negative effects.

Because Google Instant results are displayed as you type, users can easily bail from typing a long phrase and settle for what is shown with their partial search. If you do not rank well for the shorter phrase, you will likely see a decrease in traffic. Also, analytics might show keywords that do not make as much sense because they are only part of the searcher’s true search intention. On the other side, Google Instant could also increase your long-tail traffic in some cases because search refinements seem to be easier with the new feature.

4. Data Will Fluctuate

Web analytics and data are key drivers of search marketing strategies, whether paid or organic. Google Analytics and other packages offer detailed data on a user’s intent by showing the search query he or she typed to reach a given website.

Or at least they did.

With Google Instant, and its built-in suggestion feature, Analytics packages will now display the suggested query that led to the eventual click. This is not meaningless, - it will certainly be valuable to see how searchers are reaching your website - but it is not as powerful as it was previously. Search queries as they were previously reported served as a direct line to your customers’ minds. Now, they are a truncated version of a searcher’s question with a little Google suggestion sprinkled on top.

On the PPC side of things, Google has warned advertisers and managers of AdWords accounts to monitor their accounts for increased impression numbers and click volumes. To date, we have not noticed any major impression fluctuations from any of our AdWords clients, but there is evidence that Instant has been responsible for this with at least some percentage of AdWords users.

Overall Google Instant is not going to negate the value of Search Engine Optimization or even change it drastically, but I would recommend staying vigilant. As always, monitoring analytics, watching your Adwords stats, and reviewing your search engine rankings will ensure that your site does not go quietly into the night.