Ctrl F it: Making Google Work for You

It’s no secret that humans are skimmers. Every high school student knows of Sparknotes and anytime research happens, the ‘Ctrl F’ function is certainly used. This quick skimming makes us more efficient and maximizes what we can do in a day…what if you could do the same for your clients?

Turns out, you can. With Google Alerts and Google Analytics Intelligence Alerts, you can essentially have Google skim the web and your client’s analytics so that your time is maximized and your internet marketing is awesome.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts are easy to set up and are a way to receive notifications about what’s happening online that may influence your client positively or negatively. Based on the info you put in to the alert setup, Google will mine the web for searches that match what you’re looking for and send you an email with the findings.

My top Google Alerts are:

  • brand name
  • backlinks
  • local news
  • industry news

To set these up, simply log in to your gmail and go to http://www.google.com/alerts. You’ll see

For nearly all my alerts, I keep the the last four boxes the same.

For ‘Results type,’ I want to know Everything.

For ‘How often’ I vary between the Once a day option and the As it Happens option; pick whichever one works best for you time management and workflow.

For ‘How many,’ I started my alerts with the All Results option but this can quickly get overwhelming. If you are getting too many notifications, selecting the option of Only the Best Results will still provide a plethora of knowledge.

    • Brand name alerts – these let you monitor when your client’s name is mentioned on the web. Use your client’s brand name as the ‘Search query.’ This is great when it comes to reaching out for link building, industry partnerships or staying on top of your client’s online brand appearance.

 

  • Backlinks alerts – these keep you on top of your client’s link profile on the web. Set these up by entering link:www.yourclientswebsite.com in the ‘Search query’ box.

 

 

  • Local news alerts – these alerts are great for local clients and can help you capitalize on timely, local happenings to benefit your client. Set these up by adding location:yourtargetlocation in the ‘Search query’ box along with any keywords for your client’s industry. You’ll also want to set the ‘Result Type’ to News.
  • Industry news alerts – these won’t work for all clients but if your client is in a competitive industry, these alerts work to let you know what’s new and going on with that industry. Add one of your keywords or products to the ‘Search query’ box, set the ‘Result Type’ to news and you’ll be alerted of the news for that keyword or product.

    The industry news alert is also a great way to help your client become an industry leader in a topic by reading and commenting on relevant blog posts. If you’re looking to get your client more involved with his industry’s online community, set this alert to have a question in the ‘Search query’ box; this will notify you when new discussions that are relevant to your client’s industry begin so you can contribute with helpful knowledge and facts.

 

Google Analytics Intelligence Alerts

I love these alerts! They are extremely useful for staying on top of all your client’s Google Analytics on a daily basis.

My top alerts in GA are:

  • Unusually high traffic
  • Unusually low traffic
  • Dead site
  • Dead PPC

Set these up by logging in to your Google Analytics account, go to the Admin tab then select ‘Custom Alert’s

Next, you’re going to want to decide when you want to be alerted. For my favorites I have:

    • Unusual high traffic and Unusual low traffic tracking ‘All Traffic’ to alert me when ‘Visits’ increase or decrease, respectively, by more than 20-50% when compared to the same day in the previous week. You can pick the percentage as you become more familiar with a client and also determine which timescale comparison makes the most sense for that site. The ‘Condition’ drop down gives you more options than just percentage changes too. This is a great way to track large traffic spikes or drops as they happen so you can analyze what caused the major change.

 

  • Dead site alerts me when ‘Visits’ of ‘All Traffic’ are less than 1, literally if the site is dead.

 

 

  • Dead PPC applies only to PPC traffic when visits are less than 1. For this, follow the screenshot below to capture all forms of paid traffic and use ^(cpc|ppc|cpm|cpv|cpa|cpp)$ as the input for ‘Value’:

 

Once you have the alerts that you like set up, you can apply them across profiles in your account. For example, my ‘Dead PPC’ alert is assigned to all my clients running PPC. You’ll get a daily email near the end of the day with the results of which profiles matched the alert conditions.

I hope that helps make your analyzing quicker and allows you to do more with less time by making Google do the majority of the hunting and alerting for you!

WebFX recently hosted the latest Central PA SEO & Internet Marketing Meetup (12/12/12) and heard from two local Internet Marketers, with over 25 marketers from the central PA area in attendance to hear from these fine gentleman as they performed site audits for two non-profit organizations near and dear to the WebFX family — Ten Thousand Villages and Forgotten Voices International! Check out the videos below for both presentations:
Ten Thousand Villages
Thank you to Shane for giving a detailed presentation on Ten Thousand Villages and the site’s strengths and weaknesses!

 

Forgotten Voices International
Thanks to Brian for presenting on Forgotten Voices International, an organization he volunteers with regularly!

 

We hope you can attend our next meetup! For more information about our group, visit our Meetup.com page here.

The Online Race: SEO vs. PPC

SEO or PPC?

Whether you are new to the world of Internet Marketing or an abiding veteran, the choice between SEO and PPC is one that will be different for every site, company, and situation. Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click advertising are the two most widely used forms of Search Engine Marketing and most popular techniques to drive traffic to your website. The goal of both of these is to drive traffic to your website via search engines. But which one is best for you? Sometimes, the answer is actually both.

As a starting point, it is important to fully understand the concepts and purposes of SEO and PPC. Search Engine Optimization is the process of getting traffic from the “free” or “natural” listings on search engines, such as Google or Bing. SEO is like a marathon, where it takes a lot of time to see the results of your hard work. Your website is modified or improved to help it appear higher in the organic listings. These listings or ranking positions are determined by factors such as the popularity of your links and the relevancy of your content, but changes definitely won’t happen overnight. Pay-Per-Click advertising allows you to display ads in the sponsored results section of each search engine’s results page, and when that ad is clicked, you are charged a fee. If you want immediate clicks to your website, PPC is a much shorter race—like a short sprint—because you can immediately start appearing on the first page of results. Your rankings with PPC are determined by how much you bid on keywords, the quality score of your ads, and the landing pages that the ads point to.

webfxgoogleresults

The main factor in deciding between the two is the kind of budget you have to work with. To go in depth on which online marketing technique is appropriate for you, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each:

PPC Pros—

Immediate results—

If you are first launching a website or even a brand new company, you want to get your new site/name out there as soon as possible. This is also beneficial if you have special promotions or events that need exposure and cannot be planned months in advance.

You are in Control—

With PPC ads, you have control over which page the “clicker” is sent to. By having control over the landing page, you are able to make sure that the visitor is seeing the most relevant information to what your ad was displaying. The ads that are displayed are written by you and you are able to test them to see which ad performs the best, which landing page is better for visitors, etc.

Flexible—

You have the ability to choose which keywords you want to bid higher on, how much you want to spend in a day, and even the ability to pause your campaign if you are running low on your budget. You are also able to set the placement of your ads and the location where you want your ad to be shown.

PPC Cons—

Limited Long Term Benefits—

Once the money stops, the ads stop. While you may gain some branded traffic down the road, that unbranded search traffic will completely disappear when the ads stop running.

Bad Reputation—

PPC listings look like ads and are purposely placed where they are. Many people dislike ads, refuse to click on them or frankly just have no idea what they are and do not trust them.

Costs Add Up—

Even though you have the ability to control your PPC campaign budget, costs do begin to pile up and you may end up spending more money than you originally planned. Traffic to your site with PPC is completely dependent on the money you pour into it. If the keywords you are targeting are highly competitive, they may be expensive and can drain your budget quickly.

SEO Pros—

Trustworthy—

86% of search engine users reportthat they trust organic search results over paid search results. In fact, it’s been said that searchers simply get annoyed with the advertisements that come up during searches and do not even think about clicking on them.

Long Term Benefits—

Once all the SEO best practices are implemented – like creating quality, keyword-rich content and a strong linking profile – the results will outlast your efforts. The return on investment for SEO will continue to climb long after PPC has peaked.

Relevant, Targeted Traffic—

SEO allows for the use of long-tail keywords, which are three to five word phrases that refine a search term to be more targeted. For example, someone who is searching for “shoes” probably is just doing some casual window shopping, but someone who is searching for “red sneakers size 9” is someone who is further along in the buying process. With long-tail keywords comes more relevant traffic.

Forces Website Improvements—

A main difference between PPC and SEO is that with PPC, you pay for the visitors, but with SEO, you earn visitors by improving your site and following best practices. It may take a lot of work, but it’s a good thing in the long run because of the improvements to your site’s usability.

googlesearchheatmap

SEO Cons—

Ever-changing Google Algorithms—

A top complaint about SEO is that all of the work you put into your site to get your website on the first page results could be affected completely if Google releases new algorithm changes (which they do, at a rate of about 1.2 changes per day).

Required On-Going Maintenance—

Keyword research, content updates, link building and more are all factors of SEO that need to be regularly monitored and updated in order for your site to maintain rankings or to increase them.

Time lag—

Compared to the instantaneous results of PPC, the time lag with SEO can be a downfall. It can take anywhere from one to three months to see any increase in rankings or traffic. This also depends on how much optimization is needed for your site to even be ready to launch.

 

So should you start running that marathon or lace up the sneakers and begin the sprint? That question is up to you to decide. Both types of search engine marketing need to be considered, then from there you can determine whether SEO, PPC, or even both options are best fit for your needs, goals and budget.

What are your thoughts? Which did you choose, or do use both methods for your website? Feel free to post your preference, success stories, and more!

SEO search engine optimization concept on blackboard

4 Eternal Truths about SEO

In an industry where change is the only reliable constant, it’s nice to know there are a few things we can rely on…

1. The Human Audience Will Always Be The Most Important

This seems like a no brainer, but anyone with experience in search engine optimization (SEO) knows that sometimes it’s easy to forget this major detail once you’ve launched yourself head first into a campaign.  But don’t forget. Don’t lose focus. Always remember that your targeted audience is composed of actual humans, not the search engines you’re trying to rank highly in—and this will NEVER change.

The Good News: More than likely the work you’re doing to rank high in the search engines will also be beneficial marketing for your audience.

2. Links Will Always Play a Part in the Rankings

Computers are awesome, but let’s be honest—how is a computer supposed to determine what website is the most authoritative on a specific topic?  The answer is links.  If websites were people, inbound links would be like votes for Homecoming King and Queen. Search engines see these links and determine the most “popular” websites for the SERPs. While this aspect of SEO is definitely evolving at a rapid pace, it’s around to stay for a long time.

The Good News: Search engines are becoming better at determining whether a link is spam or not. So for those who work hard to create quality links, it’s a win-win situation.

3. You Can’t Optimize Website Content, If the Text Doesn’t Exist.

Even though the web is constantly evolving, text is still a part of every search—even when the search is for a picture or video.  It seems like a given, then, that quality content will always be an important factor in determining rankings.  Don’t try to ignore it.  If you want your site to perform well, do your homework and create quality content, because I can guarantee the search engines are reading it.

The Good News: Why on earth would you want to have bad content on your website? That just seems silly, since your target audience will be reading it, too. This is one of those instances where what you’re doing to rank well in the search engines will also be beneficial to your audience.

4. You will never REALLY know exactly how Google works.

Surprise, surprise! Do you really expect this to ever change? Google averages one algorithm change a day, making the world of SEO that much more fascinating. And just for fun, Google will come out with exciting, new updates to change the game up a little. Panda. Penguin. You know what I’m talking about.

The Good News: You don’t want to know Google’s exact algorithm, because I can guarantee that if you do, so do all of your competitors. If everyone knew exactly what to do to rank #1, websites would become so manipulated that search engines would quickly become useless to the users.

 

So there you have it.  There are a few things we can count on to always be true, even in an industry that thrives on constant change. What are your thoughts on these “eternal” truths—agree or disagree? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

An Open Letter to New Internet Marketers and College Grads: How to Thrive in the SEO Industry

Dear College Graduate/New Internet Marketer,

Congratulations! You worked your tail off, followed the tips for studying SEO in school and landed your dream job in SEO! You may be experiencing a lot of different emotions right now… excitement, relief, eagerness, nervousness, sadness in leaving your classmates, etc. Well, brace yourself! The days of waking up at 11am and going to the all-you-can-eat dining hall may be over, but trust me, your life is about to change for the better 😉

Have you ever seen the movie The Pursuit of Happyness? If you haven’t, here is a synopsis. It is a classic rags-to-riches movie where Christopher Gardner, played by Will Smith, overcomes unfathomable odds to become a stockbroker for Dean Witter. How did he do it you may be asking? Well, as Trevin stated in his previous letter, he “hustled.” Gardner developed a mindset where failure was not an option, and he strove to reach his goals – regardless of the price.

“You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”

Persuit of Happyness

I would like to challenge you to develop a similar mentality as you enter your career in Internet marketing.  Initially, leaving the classroom where you were probably at the top of the totem pole (you wouldn’t have gotten the job if you weren’t!) and entering an environment where coworkers have more knowledge and experience can be a difficult pill to swallow. One of the greatest benefits of SEM is that if you develop the mindset mentioned before, the rate of change in the industry is so great that you can bridge the gap sooner than you think. But how??

First off, classes may be over but you HAVE to become a student once again. Before you start the job, invest $20 to $40 in a book that will provide you with a foundation of mostly basic knowledge, but some advanced information as well (SEO: An Hour a Day is a good place to start). Here is the kicker… you actually have to READ IT! In college, you may have been able to get away with skimming chapters and playing Angry Birds in class, but this is an entirely different ball game. Read it once, twice, even three times… take notes, create flashcards; do whatever you have to do to get that information engrained in your mind.

Secondly, take this knowledge and apply some of it to your personal website or blog! SEO and SEM are great to read about it, but I would argue that it won’t really click in your mind until you try it out. Take chances! If you break your personal site once and a while, it’s okay (hopefully you backed it up)! Test what you are learning to see the direct impact your efforts can have.

If you remember one tip from this letter, remember this next point: Some of the most impactful knowledge I learned in Internet marketing came when I was listening to others on the phone. Open a Word document and start a daily notes journal. Did your coworker use a phrase that you are not familiar with? Jot it down and look it up! Did they state a statistic that would be beneficial to learn? Memorize it! Did they have a direct and informational response to the client? Remember it to use later! My point is there is a wealth of knowledge that you have at your disposal aside from the normal training sessions. Take advantage of it!

Next up, find a concentrated area of Internet marketing that you are interested in and become the office expert in it! After work, go home and study Schema.org markup. Learn so much about it that you become the go-to person in the office for any and all questions on that subject. After accomplishing this, move to another topic. Make your foundation so strong that not even Google can bring you down.

Another beneficial tip is to call your friends and family. Wait… what?! Exactly. Call them to explain what your job actually entails, what you are learning and what results your hard work has helped to achieve. More than likely, your parents don’t know the specifics behind SEO. By practicing and explaining the work you do to your parents, you will be a lot better equipped to explain and answer questions your future clients have down the road.

Lastly, set 30 minutes to 1 hour aside every day, outside of work, to research and find the day’s latest Internet marketing articles. Ask colleagues what their favorite sources are, set up a Google Reader, visit Inbound.Org and comment/interact on different blogs to improve your SEM credibility on the web.

This letter could go on forever but I am going to stop it here. In summary, if you want to become one of the top Internet marketers in the industry, it will be difficult but it is not impossible. Become a student once again and go get it. Period.

College Graduation