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Posts Tagged ‘Search Engines’

Comments Off on 5 Steps To Building A Search Persona

5 Steps To Building A Search Persona

It’s easy for online B2B marketers to become distracted by the search engines and forget the real reason they’re doing SEO in the first place: the customer. Customer demand is the driving force behind search and must be the foundation for your SEO strategy. Whether you’re an SEO newbie or already running a few SEO campaigns, it’s important to take a step back and determine what techniques really align with your customers’ needs.

An effective, simple concept every search marketer should leverage is the process of developing a search persona. Similar to a marketing persona, creating a search persona helps professional B2B marketers to accurately identify their target customer, to understand how users are actually searching for their business online and to ultimately, drive higher conversion. This is not a very time-consuming process, and will have a significant impact on your marketing efforts behind search and must be the foundation for your SEO strategy. Understanding the keywords your prospects use and the places they go to find information is the critical first step in implementing a successful inbound marketing strategy

1. Know Your Target Audience

Identify a target audience that is most likely to turn into customers. Ask yourself: Who’s my perfect buyer? For any businessperson (regardless of SEO), this is something you should be able to answer.

2. Understand Your Audience’s Pain Point(s) & Know How They Search to Solve Them

How would your target customer articulate their need for this in terms of keywords? How do they search? Determine the queries that are used by your target audience, are aligned with your business goals, and appear in significant enough volumes.

3. Provide Real Solutions

Create great content that’s well optimized for the search engines, but also meets the needs of your target customer and provides calls-to-action that encourage users to further explore and engage with your product or service.

4. Be Compelling

Offer a call to action that compels the searcher to dive deeper into your conversion funnel. For example,
this might be a discount code, or an online form. Basically, a feature that allows you to keep in contact with a user and offers them an incentive to stay engaged with your website and product or service.

5. Know Your Data

Make sure you’re regularly tracking performance metrics that help demonstrate the efficacy of these campaigns.

One of the most overlooked aspects of this process is to truly try to understand the target searcher’s agenda. Think of yourself as you search for something. All the pages you bounce off of, because they aren’t relevant, trustworthy, or are too complex for one reason or another. Search persona only works in context with business goals, and content that was designed for them. Doing only one thing out of the overall list above will not bring the desired results. Now that you’ve built your search persona, examine your website’s content and existing SEO campaigns and make any adjustments necessary to align with the criteria you’ve identified in this process. Understanding the keywords your prospects use and the places they go to find information is the critical first step in implementing a successful inbound marketing strategy.

This article is excerpted from a whitepaper by Optify Inbound Marketing Software. Learn more.

Comments Off on What Is “Blog Scraping” and Is It Wrong?

What Is “Blog Scraping” and Is It Wrong?

I was reading a recent blog post by Lauren Carlson, who writes about CRM systems, and was intrigued by her take on the subject of “Blog Scraping,” something that could arguably describe some of the articles here at this site.  It generally describes the practice of “republishing” information without consent on a web site or newsletter.

Carlson rightly asserts that those who develop original engaging content set themselves apart from competition and build keyword-rich pages for their web sites. She also pointed out that occasionally, the site that borrowed the content ranked higher in search engines than the originator of the content.

The Cry of the 21st Century Dinosaur

In the case of her company, they decided the only thing to do was to register over 1200 pages of their website directly with the US copyright office and then threaten lawsuits when they found content in use on unauthorized sites.  In many ways, this seems to me a lot like the tactics of the music industry, where record labels, unable to survive with a viable business model in the digital age, determined to stop file sharing of songs by suing users of the sharing networks.

A single comment on the Carlson blog post by Eric Woning feels similarly and points out that there are friendlier alternatives that could give content creators the same rights, but which would be more in keeping with contemporary Internet culture, which in these matters boils down to “sharing is good; stealing is bad.”  Be good!

Q: Is it Legal?

I’m concerned with both the ethics and the legalities of this issue for myself and my clients, so I looked into it as a critical matter.  First the legality:

As a publisher of online information, you have legal right to “excerpt” information from existing articles and comment or express opinion about them.  This is part of the “Fair Use” clause that also allows satirists to mimic trademarks and other legally protected assets in various media.  You do not, however, have the right to republish the entire piece, without the author’s consent.

Q: Is It Right or Wrong?

That’s the legality of the issue. The ethics are less straightforward, although it’s pretty clear to me where the line between right and wrong lies. When I “borrow” an article from a known resource, I do it firstly with the intent of serving my readers with information form a source I have expressed trust in.  It’s an implied endorsement.

I always attribute the source of the information to the appropriate author or publisher. This is key for me. Plus I provide a link to the original source,  for the reasons not only of staying within legal bounds, but also as a kind of “compensation” for producing good work, of value to an audience they might not reach otherwise.   And to me, that is the crux of the ethical issue.

By doing this, I have served my readers, and potentially increased the audience for the original content creator.  But that is not always good enough.

Please Use My Article

I have had an author contact me and ask me to take down a piece I had excerpted.  [I did so immediately]  I have had authors contact me and thank me for republishing their material. And I have had authors contact me and ask me to publish articles they wanted to create specifically for this blog.  It’s definitely a mixed bag.

My advice for those of you who do as I do and provide a mix of original and excerpted content, is to take the time to let the originator know you have respectfully used some of their words (or video or audio), and let them know you appreciate it. If you are met with a negative response, a no-debate compliance with requests to take down material is a good policy.

Chances are, you’ll find the majority of 21st century publishers are delighted to have their work spread virally to new audiences and will be happy to work with you on some basis.  If they’re smart, they’ll ask you to “like” their Facebook page and “retweet” their article when you publish something.

And if you are concerned about someone “borrowing” your original content, I’d urge you to think seriously about how that work serves you when its cordoned off in the Internet equivalent of a concentration camp. For me, sharing sets you free.

Robert B. Gelman

ps. this article is protected by Creative Commons License ” Attribution-ShareAlike.” you are free to copy, distribute and transmit the work; to remix or adapt the work, or to make commercial use of the work…under the following conditions:

Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

Share Alike — If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

Comments Off on Google Introduces the +1 Button – What It Means to Your Business

Google Introduces the +1 Button – What It Means to Your Business

We’re in a new time for marketing. In case you hadn’t noticed, it doesn’t matter how much you have to spend on advertising anymore. It doesn’t work the way it used to.  The only thing that really matters (over the long-term) is what your customers think about you. They are your advertising, and they can help or hinder your sales.

That Facebook “like” button has become more than relevant. It’s important, not only to users of Facebook, but to search engines which are now factoring “likes” and “retweets” into their algorithms.

Bing landed a partnership with Facebook, which uses Bing for its on-site search function, so the upstart company can incorporate Facebook activity into its search results. A search for a local restaurant, for example, would reveal not only information about the restaurant, but also recommendations from friends based on their Facebook profiles.

Not to be outdone, Google is answering with the “+1 button,” which is akin to a Facebook “like.” The button will be on search results as well as individual web pages, which allows users to make recommendations across the web. To build a social network around the search results, Google is requiring users to create a profile before taking part in the fun.

Similar in some ways to Facebook’s “Like” button, the Google +1 enables visitors to your web site to see who recommends you or your products. According to them, “The +1 button is shorthand for ‘this is pretty cool’ or ‘you should check this out.’

Click +1 to publicly give something your stamp of approval. Your +1’s can help friends, contacts, and others on the web find the best stuff when they search.”

See +1’s

Sometimes it’s easier to find exactly what you’re looking for when someone you know already found it. Get recommendations for the things that interest you, right when you want them, in your search results.

The next time you’re trying to remember that bed and breakfast your buddy was raving about, or find a great charity to support, a +1 could help you out. Just make sure you’re signed in to your Google Account.

Show +1’s

In order to +1 things, you first need a public Google profile. This helps people see who recommended that tasty recipe or great campsite. When you create a profile, it’s visible to anyone and connections with your email address can easily find it.

Your +1’s are stored in a new tab on your Google profile. You can show your +1’s tab to the world, or keep it private and just use it to personally manage the ever-expanding record of things you love around the web.

So whether we like it or not,  facilitating transparent conversations with your customers on review sites and social networks is becoming essential. How is your company doing in this new arena?

Get started with the +1 here.

Comments Off on Marketing Metrics: What to Measure in Marketing Part II – Website Metrics

Marketing Metrics: What to Measure in Marketing Part II – Website Metrics

Part II: Website Metrics

This is the second in a 2-part series about what metrics to measure in marketing, Lets turn to website visitor metrics.  These are the 5 most important metrics I like to look at when specifically investigating  website visitors (the very top part of the sales and marketing funnel).

1) New vs. Repeat visitors – Not only should you look at the total number of visitors, but look at the portion of  visitors that are repeat visitors.  Is your site “sticky”?  Are people coming back more frequently and in higher numbers?  If more of your visitors are repeat visitors, it means they found something compelling on the site and came back to find more.

The balance here is you need a healthy ratio of new visitors as well, because if too many of your visitors are repeat, you’re not growing your business.  Most websites get the vast majority of traffic from new visitors, maybe 5% are repeat visitors.

2) Referring sources – Where is your traffic coming from?   Did you get a new link from a big website?  Is your traffic from SEO or organic search increasing?  Most websites get about 20% of their traffic from search engines, but most of that is based on searches for your company name in most cases.  A healthy site gets 40% or more of traffic from organic search, and that extra 20% comes from words that are not your company name.  Knowing where you stand is important so you can decide how much to prioritize SEO.

3) Conversion rate – How many visitors are becoming a lead (or customer)?  Monitoring the overall rate at which your website visitors complete your desired outcome (buying something or filling out a lead form) is really important, because that is the central reason you have a website.  View this data weekly, and compare it to what marketing events you have been running and  major sources of traffic for the week.  It can give you a great sense of if the traffic from PC Magazine or the Wall Street Journal Online converts better into leads or customers and pints you in the right direction for future PR and advertising.

4) Page popularity – What is the most popular content on my site?  knowing what people like to look at on your site can help you produce more content that people enjoy and find engaging and remove the content they do not enjoy.

5) Traffic by keywordsThis can refer to a number of different metrics, but what you are trying to understand is what terms and phrases people are searching on to find your site, and how much traffic you are generating from organic search.  To investigate this, look at a couple things.  First, the number of people coming to your site using search keywords.  Second, this portion of site traffic as a percentage of total traffic.  Finally, all of the search terms that people have used to find your website.  This isn’t really a “metric”, but it can be fascinating and it can provide insight into how your company is viewed on the web and if you have built your website to generate the right kind of traffic (qualified visitors).

This list was adapted from a post on the Hubspot Marketing blog by Mike Volpe
Comments Off on Blogs and Email: A One-Two Marketing Punch

Blogs and Email: A One-Two Marketing Punch

by Paul Chaney

I have long been an advocate of using blogs and email as complementary online marketing strategies. Blogs serve a customer acquisition function, while email serves a customer retention role. That belief was recently reinforced when I attended a webinar jointly sponsored by a new company, Compendium Blogware, and well-known email reputation service provider, Habeas.

It’s generally accepted that the two most widely engaged in online activities are search and email. Chris Baggott, Compendium’s co-founder and CEO, stated during the webinar that as much as 80 percent of all web-related activities begin with search. That’s where blogs make their mark, as search engine magnets. It’s not that Google knows a blog when it sees one, it’s that blogs contain the very elements that make a search engine salivate. According to Baggott they include:

  • Titles
  • Keywords
  • Recent Content
  • Lots of Content
  • Links
  • Relevance

Titles

Something magical happens when a blogger completes the blog post title field. Most blog platforms turn it into a title tag unique to the post. That’s pure gold where Google is concerned.

Keywords

Bloggers who understand the power of the medium will enrich their posts with niche-specific keywords, which helps Google better comprehend the topic being discussed.

Recent Content

Search engines love sites that are routinely updated and will return to index them again and again. Blogs are particularly suited to frequent updates due to their ease of use.

Lots of Content

Google can’t make sense of Flash animation or graphics, at least not yet. What it does see and understand are words, and blogs contain lots of them.

Links

Links serve two purposes in search engine optimization. One of the ways the Google algorithm understands the purpose of a site is by looking at both inbound and outbound links. Therefore, links to topically-relevant sites provides immense SEO value. Not only that, each time someone links to a site, Google sees that as a “vote” on their behalf. Bloggers are rabid linkers. The practice is at the very heart of the medium.

Relevance

Ever heard the term “Latent Semantic Indexing?” That’s what Google is up to these days. It’s more than indexing keywords. LSI, as it is known, takes a more holistic approach.

“Latent semantic indexing adds an important step to the document indexing process. In addition to recording which keywords a document contains, the method examines the document collection as a whole, to see which other documents contain some of those same words. LSI considers documents that have many words in common to be semantically close, and ones with few words in common to be semantically distant.” (Source: KnowledgeSearch.org)

It’s like the old “forest for the trees” analogy. Indexing keywords to determine relevance is to look at individual “trees,” whereas LSI seeks to look at the whole of the situation; the “forest.”

I’ve often said that a frequently-updated, keyword-optimized, thematically-relevant blog will rank well in search engines. I’ve seen it happen again and again, even for blogs that might be considered long-tail. Yet, while traffic acquisition is well and good, something more needs to happen in order to achieve ultimate effectiveness. Traffic to the blog needs to convert into traffic to the website and more. Compendium’s platform, for example, is designed with conversion in mind, including an opt-in email newsletter sign-up form among other things.

There are a number of ways blogs and email play well together. The webinar included four suggestions:

  • Build lists – Incorporating the newsletter subscription form as previously mentioned is a way for the relationship first established with the blogger to transcend to a relationship with the sponsoring company.
  • Use email to solicit blog content – By mentioning the company blog in the email newsletter, a bridge is created between the two. In addition, asking readers to submit suggestions for blog content or even going so far as to invite readers to submit content (guest posts) will further reinforce the relationship.
  • Use old email content for blog content – Repurposing content that, while valuable, may be languishing in the email newsletter archive is one way to give it new life.
  • Use blog content for email newsletters – Years ago I made the statement that blogs are good “seedbeds” for the formation of ideas that can be expanded on later or fleshed out for use in other forms, including email.

Something else to think about in terms of the relationship between blogs and email has to do with the number of times consumers are touched using either medium. For many companies, email newsletters are relegated to monthly syndication. That means the prospect or customer is only contacted 12 times per year, not nearly enough to establish a “top-of-mind” relationship. Even with weekly distribution, that still leaves six days out of the week when the customer does not hear from you. Blogs are a way to fill the gap, especially for those customers who subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed. With regular posting customers can be touched a manifold number of times.

Of course, the ideal scenario would be one that integrates both blogs and email into one platform. (To my knowledge, the only company doing that at present is iContact. Barring that, one path to integration is the use of FeedBlitz, which takes blog posts and turns them into emails that can be scheduled for daily, weekly or monthly distribution. An opt-in form is added to the blog sidebar for readers to use in subscribing. And, if nothing else, there is always CTRL-C and CTRL-V for copying and pasting of content from the blog to the newsletter, or vice-versa.

The bottom line is, when used in concert, blogs and email can serve up a marketing haymaker. I heartily encourage using both.

Comments Off on Pay-per-click Advertising: Seven Pointers for Smaller Campaigns

Pay-per-click Advertising: Seven Pointers for Smaller Campaigns

by Greg Laptevsky

Managing small-budget pay-per-click campaigns (under $3,000 per month) is typically more difficult than managing campaigns with higher spend levels. Lack of “workable” data in smaller accounts often pushes campaign managers to make decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information. Below is a checklist of seven items you can do today to improve performance of your smaller PPC campaign.

1. Use Negative Keywords to Block Irrelevant Traffic

Negative keywords allow you to filter out irrelevant traffic. There is no reason to pay for clicks that were generated by search queries such as “(your product) defect”, “(your product) manual”, “broken (your product)”, and so forth. Read “Negative Keywords for Your PPC Campaign” to help understand this.

2. Research Long-tail Keywords

Clicks generated from keywords reflecting purchase intent are more likely to turn into actual buyers. Examples of such keywords include “buy widget” and “get widgets” Some useful tools to research keywords are listed at “Keyword Research Tools”.

3. Separate Search Network from Content Network

Google, Yahoo! and Bing, the primary search engines, offer both search distribution and content distribution. Traffic generated via the content channel is inherently different quality from that of search. More information about developing a solid content strategy is found at “Advertising On The Google Content Network”.

4. Split Keywords into Tightly Organized Ad Groups

Make sure your keywords are organized in the most logical order. For example, keywords describing one product should not be mixed with keywords describing other products. Imagine that you’re retailer selling socks and wine. It would be illogical to place both keywords (“socks” and “wine”) into the same Ad Group. The same rule applies to less obvious examples. “Green widget” and “blue widget cover” should be placed in separate Ad Groups, for example.

5. Include Different Match Types

“Match types” allow you to improve the quality of the traffic by more closely matching users’ search queries with your keyword choices. Additionally, having all three match types (Broad match, Phrase match, Exact match) in Google and MSN might help you get more clicks for the same overall price due to the quality score discount (which occurs due to ads being ordered based on multiple relevancy factors and not solely on the per-click bid price). In Yahoo!, running multiple match types simultaneously is not permitted. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to see if “standard match” would generate better return on investment than “advanced match.”

6. Re-configure Campaigns/Account Settings

Here is a list of standard settings that will typically optimize a smaller budget campaign.

Google (Campaign Level):

  • Targeting: United States only
  • Language: English
  • Network & Devices: Google Search; Desktop and laptop computers
  • Bidding: Manual bidding – Max CPC
  • Position preference: Off
  • Delivery method: Standard
  • Ad rotation: Optimize

Yahoo! (Account Level):

  • Sponsored Search: On
  • Content Match: Off
  • Match Type: Advanced
  • Blocked Continents: Check off all
  • Campaign Level Targeting: Block 0-18, Select U.S. only

Bing (Campaign Level):

  • Tracking conversions: Checked
  • Target by Location: United States

7. Use Free Pay-per-click Tools

Use free pay-per-click tools to work on your campaigns. Don’t waste time going through slow account interfaces. Use these account tools to help you navigate through Google and MSN: