Authorship and Its Effect on Google Search Click-Through Rate

Authorship and your use of Google+ in relation to your website has ben a hot topic on blogs and at Search Conferences over the last 6-9 months.  Understanding how your authority as an author/writer can effect the search engine results for your keyword phrases has become something of a quest for many search marketers.

Google has made the connection of blog and Google+ fairly simple, but there are still issues and barriers to entry out there.  Many small businesses who do not live and breathe search marketing are not aware, or have not taken the time to establish authorship for their websites.  The honest truth is, there is solid proof that using this connection will help YOUR search results attract attention – and why not – the image, additional data, and larger result can make all the difference in the world when you’re trying to attract an eyeball.  Authorship results have 7 lines, non-authorship results have 5.  2 lines is a lot of real estate on a page, don’t discount it.

A recent article by Justin Briggs brought the importance of this front and center this week.  He cited a paper published by Google in early 2012 that stated that a majority of searchers ignored social annotations in search results.  They basically didnt care if there was something that said “shared by” with a tiny picture next to the result.  (Note: If I remember correctly at that time, Google+ was struggling with adoption as well and there was some talk of it going the way of the dodo.)

According to Briggs, Google noticed that larger images (50×50) attracted more attention from searchers, the tiny images next to “shared by” text received little-to-no attention, so how do they encourage people to give them good images, and a way to connect an author to an article?

Authorship anyone?

Now the writer is PROVIDING Google with information they can use to connect authors with content, and a way to display it that encourages engagement.  ENGAGEMENT in all caps.

Check out this heatmap from a google search result that contains a listing with authorship established and an author image next to the content.  If you’re familiar with how this heat map previously looked, the result in the VERY TOP LEFT generally received the most attention.  Universal and personalized search changed that when video thumbnails and other signals were included in the 10 blue links.  Check it out now!!


Image borrowed from Justin Briggs’ blog – in the interest of full discolosure – THANKS! :)

Check out that super hot spot next to the Authorship snippet for the article above.  Arguably it’s hotter than the spots above it – all because of an image and some additional information pulled from authorship markup.

Can you afford to NOT have this set up on your website? I think not.

Thoughts about Targeting in Social Media

Social Media.  HUGE buzz word – but it’s just a “thing.”  Things don’t move the needle when you’re working in online marketing – actions and activities do.

A thing isn’t a strategy.  So what do you do with this “thing” that everyone is talking about?  If you’re like most small business owners –  you have no idea what to do with it.  You’re claiming profiles, you’re putting up a photo of your logo or business, or yourself….but you’re really not even close to answering the “WIIFM.”  (That’s “What’s In It For Me.”)

This recent report by Burst Media, plus a piece of advice I’m about to impart – is going to go a long way towards helping.

First the report.  I ran across this in my Facebook feed and really, it has some pretty awesome information in it.  If you’re thinking Social Media is right for your business, the first question you need to answer is “Where?”  Where you participate is important.  If you know your customer profile – age, gender, income, profession (you should know this – and it should be in your business plan) – then you can determine the best fit for your business with the information contained within it’s pages.

The report surveyed 2700+ Americans.  Not a huge group, but enough to get some ideas about who uses what – when.  First – the data that tells us where you should be participating.  Which gender uses what platforms.  This is so important.  If you sell car parts, Pinterest is probably not your place.  Facebook and Google+ with their gear-head-specific pages and groups are going to get you so much more.

If our target market is female – with no other qualifier – most social media platforms are going to work for you.  It seems men don’t interact as frequently as women, but that doesn’t necessarily count them out, but your time is finite – and finding the biggest “bang” for your “buck” is important.

This next graphic is going to be really important as a way for you to figure out WHAT content to share.  Don’t look at the colored bars, look at the percentage numbers next to each item – that really tells the story.

Showing support for causes, and accessing coupons and offers are on the top of the list for women and men – so make sure your content ticks these boxes.

The last part you need to know is how people interact with social media.  This is moving in a huge way towards a portable or mobile device.  Tablets and smartphones are becoming more and more popular.  Your website and your social strategy need to take this into account.

Remember – this survey is taken of Americans.  Go overseas – and you’ll see a drastic change here.  Most residents of Asian countries (China, Japan, Singapore) access social media via a mobile device.  If these are your markets, you better have a mobile friendly website and shopping experience.  Check out the collections of Mobile statistics (from 2012) I grabbed from ViralBlog.com

  • 44% of Facebook’s 900 million monthly users access Facebook on their phones and are 2x as active on the network as non-mobile users. (Facebook, 2012)
  • It takes 26 hours for the average person to report a lost wallet. It takes 68 minutes for them to report a lost phone. (Unisys, 2012)
  • 70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour. 70% of online searches result in action in one month(Mobile Marketer, 2012)
  • 9 out of 10 mobile searches lead to action, over half leading to purchase(Search Engine Land, 2012)
  • 61% of local searches on a mobile phone result in a phone call. (Google, 2012)
  • 52% of all mobile ads result in a phone call. (xAd, 2012)

So now you have the who, and the where, and even the why – but let’s answer the “how.”  Here’s my piece of advice.

If you’re not into Social Media – find someone who is to do this for you.

Your audience will see your slipshod attention to your streams and engagement.  You cannot fake it.  A half effort will be seen as virtually no effort – and it will not work.

New Filter Fields in Google Analtyics

Google Analytics LogoIf you’re an intermediate to advanced user of Google Analytics, you’ve likely used Filters to manipulate data into something you can understand and work with.  One example would be the tweak I shared to demystify the black hole of Not Provided.

Earlier this week Google Analytics announced the availability of a whole herd of new filter fields.  The new fields heavily target those with high-volume mobile traffic, but don’t feel left out if that’s not your niche, there are also some interesting non-mobile options, or options that can be combined with mobile if you like.

Here’s the full list with some thoughts after the ones that stick out.

Continue reading

Don’t Get Whacked Out Poo Brain – a Webinar Recap from SEOMoz and Ian Lurie

I attend a lot of webinars.  Learning, and brushing up on techniques is what keeps us good, and on the edge of what matters to clients.

The first thing I noticed about this webinar was the Title.

Click the image above or get the slides here: http://www.slideshare.net/wrttnwrd/time-management-for-marketers-the-mozinar

“Don’t Get Whacked Out Poo Brain.” – If you’re a fan of Adventure Time – how can you stay away from that?  If you’re not, stick with it, because the context will provide the definition.  Here’s a link to the recording over at SEOMoz.org/Webinars

Presented by Ian Lurie -  this webinar was crammed with ideas and gems to help marketers get organized, minimize distractions, and keep track of ideas, thoughts and creative processes for a marketing campaign.

I loved it!

I am one of those people who always has ideas and thoughts crowing their brain.  I think about marketing at the grocery store, when I’m trying to fall asleep, during movie with the kids.  What I struggle with is recording, recalling and using those ideas when it really counts.  I get distracted and interrupted and forget what I was doing, or what project I was working on.  I think, as someone who works from home most of the time, this is one of those hazards.  Home is distracting.

In short – I get “Whacked out Poo Brain” a lot.  It’s an issue that I think many of us struggle with. 

My favorite Takeaways:

  • Work in Sprints – Ian uses 45 minute  sprints and a modified version of the Pomodoro method.  I think he said they recommend 25 minute sprints, but that wasnt long enough for him to finish many tasks.  I’m going to start with 45 minutes and see how it goes.  Not many of my tasks go as fast as 25 minutes.
  • Ian loves Adventure Time – So Does my 11 year old…do with that information what you will.
  • Sweep through your tasks and priorities every morning.  Take the first 3-4 on your prioritized list and work on them in 45 minute sprints.  Revisit if you have a 5 minute break to see if you’re on track.
  • Every task should be classified as follows:Keep track of every question you ask an answer.  Keep it in a knowledge base, either private or shared, so you can cut down on interruptions with the same question, or find your answer much faster.
    • Can it be done in 3 minutes or less
    • Can/should someone else handle it?  Delegate it.
    • Will it take longer?  Create a task or a milestone and add it to your list

Tools – Check out Ian’s Tool List: http://portent.co/poobrain

  • NOTE: This is not billable hours tracking, its YOU tracking.  Do it right away, don’t wait and try to remember what you did that day.

 

 

Three Things People Really Hate About Your (poorly) Optimized Content

Optimizing content is a process by which relevant keyword phrases are included in text on a web page.

3 Things people hate about your (poorly) optimized content

WELL optimized content is a whole other animal.  Anyone can write some text and cram some keywords into it.  Writing text that pleases users, and search engines, is an art.  Not everyone can do it, not everyone should.  I thought of some things I’ve seen recently that drive this point home.  If you cant do this for your own content, hire a professional.  You wouldn’t ask your mechanic to write your marketing plan, would you?

Here are 3 things people hate about your optimized content
  1. There’s way too much of it.  How much content do you need on a page?  Enough.
    Tell the story, tell the ABRIDGED story.  You don’t need 1,000 words on the page to rank because you read it on some website 2 years ago.  You need text, but 250 +/- words that get directly to the point will serve you, and your reader, much more efficiently.
  2. It’s hard to read.  You included no paragraphs, content breaks with bullet points, bold main ideas, or images.  It’s just text on the page.  Boring.  Sorry – people don’t read content that looks like this, and search engines know it.  Engage the eye to engage the reader.
  3. It makes no sense.  This generally comes in from 2 avenues.  First, you crammed too many keyword phrases into the page and it reads like a keyword research document.  Tell the story with words people would use to find it, don’t repeat those words in every sentence, that’s overkill and makes your content nearly impossible to read and relate to.  The second avenue comes from machine or non-native speakers.  We always recommend that content be translated into the target language by a native speaker.  Someone who understands the nuances of the language and can reform sentences so they make sense.

It’s okay to not be good at something.  It’s okay to hire someone to handle things  for you.  This is probably the topic for a whole other post.  If you need well optimized and user friendly content.  Take the time to do it right, or hire an expert to do it for you!

Google Enhanced Campaigns and Keyword Level URLs

Since Google announced their new Enhanced Campaigns initiative which combines desktop and mobile search advertising into a single campaign, AdWords advertisers have been working to upgrade their campaigns into the new system. Google recently announced that ALL campaigns will be automatically upgraded starting in July 2013.

One issue that came to light with the initial announcement was how to handle URLs that are specified at the Keyword level in an adGroup, in conjunction with a site that uses separate URLs for mobile visitors. In the past, one might run separate desktop and mobile campaigns, so mobile-targeted KW level URLs would be specified in a separate adGroup from the Desktop URLs. In the new configuration, the two are merged, so…how does one handle sending visitors to the right location?

Targeting Mobile in Enhanced Campaigns

When one sets up ads, one would normally set up one or more ads for Desktop visitors, and one or more ads for Mobile visitors, and the URLs for each can be hardwired to indicate the “preferred” audience. This is only done at the Ad level, though, and Keyword-specific URLs are left out of this targeting – until now.

Using ValueTrack Parameters to Segment the URLs

Google has a number of “ValueTrack” parameters that can be used to dynamically alter ad copy and/our destination URLs. The most popular of these is probably Dynamic Keyword Insertion (or DKI). DKI allows one to reflect the Ad Campaign’s Keyword in the title or text of the ad copy (or in the URL) by using the {keyword:[default text]} construct in the ad copy.
Google provides a number of other ValueTrack parameters, including an brand new one called "ifnotmobile" . Ifnotmobile is a complement to an older parameter "ifmobile", though the use of this older parameter has changed with the launch of the Enhanced Campaigns. These two ValueTrack parameters can be used to tailor the URLs to the specific platform with a high level of granularity.

Using ifmobile and ifnotmobile to Target the Right Landing Pages

The {ifmobile:[sometexthere]} construct is used to insert text into an ad or URL for mobile visitors only. In the past with standard (legacy) campaigns, this would be used to target mobile AND tablets, but in enhanced campaigns, tablets are treated like desktop systems: {ifmobile:[sometexthere]} is used for mobile platforms only, while the {ifnotmobile:[sometexthere]} construct is used to target desktops and tablets in Enhanced Campaigns.

Below are examples of how to apply this to a variety of desktop vs. mobile implementation approaches, including:

  • Mobile-specific subdomains
  • Mobile-specific subdirectories
  • Mobile visitors identified via a CGI parameter
  • a Mobile placeholder page for a non-mobile-friendly site

Note that sites which use server-side browser detection to segregate mobile traffic from desktop visitors likely do not need to use this approach, since all visitors could request the same landing page and the server would sort it out.

Keyword Level URLs and Mobile Subdomains

To implement this with a mobile subdomain for mobile visitors, one could set up the URL similar to the following. Assuming that mysite.com is the main site, and that mobile.mysite.com is used for mobile visitors, the Landing Page URLs could look like this in AdWords:

{ifmobile:mobile.}mysite.com/specials.php

Thus, desktop and tablet visitors would visit mysite.com/specials.php, while mobile visitors would be directed to mobile.mysite.com/specials.php from the same ad or keyword URL in the AdWords account.

Keyword Level URLs and Mobile Subdirectories

To implement this when using a subdirectory set up for mobile visitors, one could set up the URL similar to the following. Assuming that mysite.com/... is the main site, and that mysite.com/mobile/... is used for mobile visitors, the Landing Page URLs could look like this in AdWords:

mysite.com{ifmobile:/mobile}/specials.php

Keyword Level URLs and a CGI parameter Specifying Mobile

To implement this when you have a CGI parameter set up to distinguish between desktop and mobile visitors, you could set up your URL similar to the following. Assuming that mysite.com/...?mobile=0 is used for desktop and tablet visitors, and that mysite.com/...?mobile=1 is used for mobile visitors. Your Landing Page URLs could look like this in AdWords:

mysite.com/specials.php?{ifmobile:mobile=1}{ifnotmobile:mobile=0}

These would resolve as:

mysite.com/specials.php?mobile=0 for desktop and tablet visitors and as mysite.com/specials.php?mobile=1 for mobile visitors.

Specifying a Completely Different URL for Mobile Visitors

Finally, in some instances one may want to send a mobile visitor to a completely different path than desktop visitors. Perhaps the site isn’t generally mobile-friendly, but it does have a single page that is mobile-optimized, and the AdWords campaign should send ALL mobile traffic to that special page. The Landing Page URLs could look like this in AdWords:

{ifmobile:static.mysite.com/mobilepage.htm}{ifnotmobile:mysite.com/specials.php}

In this final example, desktop and tablet visitors would go to:

mysite.com/specials.php

while mobile visitors were sent instead to:

static.mysite.com/mobilepage.htm

Note that there are limitations in Google AdWords regarding the Display URL and Destination URL. Insure that the mobile and non-mobile domains are closely related or the ads might be disapproved.

You Don’t Have to Spend A Lot To Make More Money From Your Website

Sometimes very small businesses must rely on what they can do for themselves to keep their online marketing efforts fresh.  There has never been any argument that small budgets sometimes prohibit small businesses from getting agency help. That’s okay.  If you do your due diligence and are careful, there’s no reason you cannot help your online presence, and revenue from your presence, by rolling up your sleeves and doing some of the work yourself.

I found some resources that will definitely help you out.  Some of these resources might list “comment on blogs” or “submit information to blogs” or anything that says “Link Exchange” as a tactic – PLEASE DO NOT DO THAT!  It’s not valid – but I didn’t want to disqualify 90% good advice for 10% nonsense.

I wrote an article in 2007 called “30 Free Ways to Market Your Small Business Site” over at SearchEngineWatch.com.  I updated that post last year and it’s one of the most popular pieces I’ve written to date.  There are 30 actionable things you can do, all by yourself, to promote your small website.

This article by PCmag.com from 2009 has some good ideas.  I like the tips on keeping slow employees and downtime for marketing.  Your customer service staff is your front line, and they can write content or answer questions online because they know exactly what the people that call are asking.  Use them!  Also checking out what the competition is doing is great – just don’t chase them.

TEST your pages!  If you don’t have analytics, install Google Analytics on your website.  If you don’t look at any report on a regular basis, just being able to use their Content Experiments features is worth the time to install.  Testing new ideas for landing pages is a great way to increase revenue without spending a ton of money in advance.  Simply changing the color of your “Buy Now” button can have a big effect.  Making it easier for visitors to buy from you is also a great way to increase revenue.  Check out these Tips for Optimizing Your Site for the Sale.

Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice I found was in this National Federation of Independent Businesses article.  “Get Out The Door.”  If you operate online, your world becomes this 5 square foot cocoon around your desk.  Even if you do not have a brick and mortar business – networking and meeting people in your community or niche is so important.  You can find clients, partners, innovative thinkers, and people with problems your business can solve.  It’s a great way to keep your brain from going stagnant.

Bottom line? Get creative!  Think about all of the things you can do to help yourself and make a list, cross things off as you get them done.  Add new ideas.  Buy a nice Moleskine notebook that you can keep your great thoughts in and journal your way to a better online marketing strategy!

If You Don’t Write Better Optimized Content Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later

Sometimes, as a writer, echoes of my mother resonate through my head.

“Do it right the first time”

As a kid, I hated hearing that, I just wanted things done FAST, and quality?  Well I didn’t really care about it.  As an adult, I’ve come to respect the saying, and although I’ll never admit it to her, mom was right.

SEO Copywriting - Do it right the first time

When you write content for the web, there’s the fast way, and the right way – and the two meet somewhere in the middle for most.  If you’re not worried about Continue reading

6 Tips for Building a Brand-Focused Community

Everyone has heard that Field of Dreams quote being tossed around the marketing world.  You know the one “If you build it, they will come.”  That might work for ghostly baseball players, but for websites and online brands, we know that is most certainly NOT the case.

6 Tips for Building a Strong Brand-focused Community

You may be able to achieve some nice rankings through basic SEO, drive some decent traffic with a PPC budget, but what if that’s just not enough?  More and more Continue reading

Philanthropy and Online Business – Tips for Success

There’s that little piece of all of us that strives to be a better human being.  Some act on that piece, some don’t.  No judgement here, I have a lot of thoughts that I don’t act on – arguably those thoughts shouldn’t be acted upon, but when it comes to philanthropy and online business, getting started and finding the right fit can be tough.

The idea of a business donating proceeds to a charity has been around since marketing began.  There has always been motive behind these donations – the word Continue reading