Tag: Google

What is the ‘Not Provided’ Organic Keywords Problem (and what can You do about it)?

By Sue Brady

Keys

It’s been six months since Google made the change that shook up the SEO market. If you are still perplexed about what to do about it, read on.

Keyword analysis is extremely important for optimizing both paid for and organic keyword traffic. Many pay per click buyers use Google Analytics (GA) to analyze their results. GA is fairly robust and can satisfy the needs of most buyers. But what about your organic keywords? It’s equally important to know which ones are driving the most traffic to your site.

Not Provided. This term refers to keywords where Google is no longer sharing information on their origin. This is not new news. Back in 2011, Google made a change that keywords from anyone searching from a secure site (denoted by an ‘s’ after the http in your URL bar) would show up in reporting as Not Provided. Then in October of 2013, they made the change universal for all Google organic search, hiding the keyword information that used to be so useful. Information on organic keywords is still available in Bing/Yahoo search. But, because Google search has 67% of the search market, you are now missing a large amount of information.

When Google first started down this path, Matt Cutts, the Head of the Spam Team at Google, guessed that Non Provided visits would remain in the single-digit percents. He was wrong. According to a BrightEdge survey from Q1, 2013, 56% of search traffic in the tech industry was already coming from Google secure search, and therefore showing up as Non Provided in GA. And now it’s a 100%, since all Google searches are secure.

There have been a number of very useful articles written about getting around this pesky problem:

1. Kissmetrics describes 8 methods for gaining insight into your customer search data in these two articles: Unlock keywords and keyword not provided.

2. Search Engine Watch also has some useful advice, especially for the small business and in general.

3. Webbiquity compiled advice from 6 experts on dealing with the Non Provided issue.

Please share other ways you get around this issue. I’ll compile and publish them here at a later date.

UPDATE: I came across this article just as I was getting ready to publish this post. Perhaps Google is reconsidering?

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Owning Your Media: Some Content Marketing Basics

By Sue Brady

Typewriter

Owned, Earned and Paid.

All three of these media types may play an important part in your marketing strategy. ‘Owned’ media refers to channels that you control such as your company Facebook page or blog. ‘Earned’ media is in essence word of mouth. When someone shares your content, that’s earned. ‘Bought’ is media you purchase, such as an ad or event sponsorship.

The focus of this article is content marketing for your Owned media.

What is content marketing?  Content marketing refers to published information designed to acquire, educate or engage prospects and customers. Content published in this way needs to be valuable to the reader and should be an integral part of your marketing strategy.  Content marketing is not a way to sell…at least not directly.  Rather, it’s a way to provide information that your prospects and customers will find useful.

How can you get started? First, clearly define your goals.  It’s not enough to just publish articles and blog posts. You need to understand what you hope to accomplish with your content. Is your goal to show that you are the thought leader in your field and therefore the place to go for specific types of information? Is your goal to educate your prospects about the capabilities of your products? Is it to dive into topics of interest to your target audience? Whatever you decide will drive how you go about choosing topics, writing about them, and ultimately publishing.

Your content marketing really breaks down into these main steps:

  1. Decide on a strategy to best meet your established goals (see above). To figure out your strategy, think about some basic things: What am I trying to solve for my customers? What type of content do they like to see? What’s my end game (what do I want to achieve)? Additionally, you should think about how you want to use your content. Are there multiple channels where you can use versions of the same content? This step should also include identifying where you want to post.
  2. Identify your audience. You need to know who you are writing for so that you can choose topics of interest.
  3. Decide how frequently you are going to post. This may not sound important, but if you want people to keep coming back, you need to keep your content fresh.
  4. Create an editorial calendar. Calendar-Clip-Art-FreeThis will help you to keep your content organized. There are templates available for no cost on the web. I use a simple spreadsheet with the dates down the sides and the following column headings: Article Title, published/not published, category, and keywords/tags. I try to schedule topics for myself as far out as possible so that I have a working list to guide my efforts.
  5. Start writing. This sounds easy but of course is not. There are a number of steps involved with the actual writing
    1. Generate topic ideas (here are 6 Goldmines for finding relevant topics). In addition to those 6 goldmines, make sure to take a peak at what your competition is writing about to see if their topics make sense for you too.
    2. Consider SEO in your writing.
      1. SEO (search engine optimization) is important for search engines like Google to be able to find you in their searches. Do some research to figure out what terms your prospective customers are searching on and make sure you include those words in your article. You don’t want to overdo it, but you want to make sure your content is found.
      2. Note that Google+ is also important for SEO. While Google+ is unproven as a means to gain customers, Google itself considers Google+ presence when ranking content. So open up a Google+ account and post your content there. It’s free and can only help with your rankings.
      3. Once you’ve created your account, make sure Google knows who you are. You do this through Google Authorship and it’s how Google knows to start looking for you when someone searches on relevant terms. You can do that here. Doing this also means that when you do show up in a search, your name will be visible in the listing.
    3. Create an outline for the article. To be honest, I don’t always put this to paper, but I always have an idea, at least in my head, of how I want a post to flow.
    4. After you write your post, go back over it carefully to delete redundancies, fix grammatical errors, and in general tighten it up.
  6. Respond to comments. Once you’ve published an article, check your post for reader comments and respond to them. It’s a great way to engage with your readers and help them to feel a personal connection.

Don’t be afraid to publish that first article. The first time is always the hardest.

How I Added Two Hours Back to my Day

By Sue Brady (back to marketing topics next week!)

Working from Home

I work in a virtual office environment.  And I’m not the only one either. My whole company at RM Factory, all 25 of us, work from our homes. Our homes just happen to be in several states across the country. We have real jobs at a real marketing agency where we all work 50+ hours a week. We don’t have kids at our feet, do laundry in between conference calls, or coffee clutch with the neighbors every afternoon.  We’re a motivated, hard-working and focused group of folks, and I’d argue that we are more productive than your typical office worker.

Don’t get me wrong. All of us have held jobs where we commuted to an office every day.  So we know what that’s like. Some of us even worked for very large ad agencies on Madison Avenue.

This virtual arrangement has so many benefits, only one of which is increased productivity.  How am I more productive at home, you might ask? Aren’t there too many distractions, like the refrigerator or kids? The answer is no. There are not too many distractions. In fact, a key driver of our productivity is that there are fewer distractions. In addition, there is less stress and less wasted time.

Here’s a typical day for when I used to work outside my home: I’d wake up, have a run, shower, dress and make myself presentable. I would drive an hour to get to my office. Once there, sometimes frazzled from the drive, I’d grab a cup of coffee and start my day. Any number of people would stop by my office in the morning to say hello, ask me a question about work, ask me a question about my kids, ask me if I had plans for lunch…you get the idea. I’d attend many meetings.  At lunchtime I’d walk with everyone else to the cafeteria. Then I’d head back to my office, where inevitably, the parade of employees, coworkers and meetings would continue. And then I’d head back home, in my car for another hour, at the end of the day. I was exhausted by the time I made it back to my family!

My typical day as a remote employee is very different. I still get up, have a run, shower, dress and in general make myself presentable. But from then on, everything changes. I walk down the stairs to my office where I can close my door if needed, put on my fuzzy pink slippers (every new employee receives a pair) and get to work. My only distraction is an occasional visit from my cat. If I had young kids in the home like some of my coworkers do, I’d have to arrange for child care.

edible arrangementWe occasionally do fun things too. We celebrate birthdays, but not in a conference room with cake. Rather, each employee receives an edible gift at their doorstep on their special day. And this year we even had a virtual holiday party. You can read about that here.

I stay connected with the outside world. I still have meetings and calls throughout the day with coworkers, employees and clients over Zoom, Skype or ooVoo, but they are concise meetings that cover the subject matter at hand, without a lot of wasted time. We use instant messaging to communicate as well, so easy questions are answered quickly and efficiently. If I don’t understand a response, a phone call can clear that up. And we use other productivity tools like Google Hangouts and Megameeting  so that we can share our desktops or files as needed. And at the end of the day, I turn off my light and go upstairs and start my evening.

Joe Pulizzi, the Founder of the Content Marketing Institute says: “Our decision NOT to set up a traditional office location was, perhaps, the best decision we’ve made as an organization.” You can read his virtual office story here.  This life is not for everyone. It takes a disciplined, self-starter kind of person to make this type of arrangement work.

If I really analyzed my time, excluding my commute, I’d guess that I’m two hours more productive at work each day than I used to be.  Two hours! Plus, I have two hours of commute time a day returned to me to use however I’d like.

What would you give to get two hours back every day?

Tune in next Thursday for: “How to setup Your Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook Pages for your Business”

All I Really Needed to Know About Working I learned in Kindergarten…well, almost

By Sue Brady

KindergartenRobert Fulghum wrote a book in 1989 called: All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. (You can buy it here). It was so simple and easy to read that it became a sensation virtually overnight. And that was before the Internet! To date he has sold over 7 million copies of his book, and it is the inspiration for this blog post.

Here’s what Fulghum says he learned and how I think it applies to the workplace (all book quotes used with author’s permission):

1. ‘Share everything.’ It’s important to share your industry and/or company and/or product knowledge with other employees. Why? Because it helps people trust you and might help them succeed. Don’t hold back. If someone asks you a question, answer it honestly. Be a mentor. There has probably been a time in your career when you really could have used one. Share useful information. It doesn’t hurt.
2. ‘Play fair.’ That means no cheating or undermining others. They’ll find out and then they won’t trust you anymore. Trust is a tough thing to win, and an easy thing to lose. Tweet this!
3. ‘Don’t hit people.’ Or stated differently, be nice. Shouting in an office situation for instance is NEVER necessary. It does not make you sound smarter or be more right, and it will certainly damage your credibility. Being labeled as a bully won’t do you any good.
4. ‘Put things back where you found them.’ If you use someone’s stuff, make sure you put it back, in good condition.  Same applies to using community things, like in your lunchroom at work.
5. ‘Clean up your own mess.’ Own it and make it right. If you made a mess of a presentation, acknowledge it and go about making it right. If you said something that created angst with your employees, own it and correct the situation. If something you did made someone look bad, own it and apologize.
6. ‘Don’t take things that aren’t yours.’ That means someone’s lunch from the fridge, someone’s mug from the shelf, someone’s umbrella drying by the door…and someone’s idea that you overheard being discussed.
7. ‘Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.’ Again, own it and make it as right as you can. It’s hard to take back words, so think before you speak or take an action that you might regret.
8. ‘Wash your hands before you eat.’ Get rid of germs and feed your mind well. Eating is important, as is taking care of yourself. Keep your brain healthy.
9. ‘Flush.’  Sometimes you just have to let it go. Whether it’s bad thoughts about someone or ideas for revenge, sometimes it’s best to just flush those thoughts. Keep a mental ‘file 13’ (aka trash), and load it and empty it frequently.
10. ‘Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.’ Duh. It’s always wise to treat yourself.
11. ‘Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some.’ Volumes have been written about work/life balance and how important it is. Working hard is important, but enjoying a life outside of work is important too to your own health and well-being. Not only that, but downtime will make you a better employee. There are many studies that have been done that illustrate the importance of taking a break from work. There’s more to life than the office. Start a new hobby, volunteer somewhere, begin a fitness program. Whatever it is, don’t just work.
12. ‘Take a nap every afternoon.’ I’ve never worked for a company where this was encouraged, but there are studies that show that napping improves your creativity and can make you more alert. At Google they even have nap pods for employees to use.
13. ‘When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.’ Look out for your peers. Everyone can use help sometime, and sometimes the world can be a dangerous place. Remember, there is no ‘i’ in team.
14. ‘Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.’ If something doesn’t make sense, question why. Some things are the way they are for a reason, but others should be changed. Understand the difference and appreciate the ‘wonder of why’ before you try to change a sacred cow. But don’t be afraid to question ‘the way it’s always been done.’
15. ‘Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.’ Life is short. Don’t waste one minute of it being an asshole.
16. ‘And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first words you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.’ Look for the one good thing in the person at work who you really can’t stand. Everyone has one good trait. Sometimes you just have to look a little harder to find it.

You might also be interested in: The Worst Advice (and best!) I Ever Received from a Boss.

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Improve your Marketing Results with these Testing Tips

By Sue Brady

TestingAny direct marketer worth their salt knows how important it is to test on a regular basis. Testing is your path to improved marketing results. But how do you know what’s worthwhile to test? The biggies from the offline world mostly apply in the online one: Offer, copy and creative, in that order. But there are a million things that are worth testing. If you are fortunate to have a steady stream of visitors to your website, you can learn things on a daily or weekly basis. For instance, think about testing the critical elements on your home page:

  • The call to action button and location
  • The location of the phone number on your home page
  • Your website headline
  • Your website hero image (the primary image, usually at the top of your home page)
  • The order and description of your product benefits
  • The placement of your offer

These elements can be tested using A/B testing methodology or using multivariate testing. The difference between those two is that with A/B testing, you are evaluating one element change at a time. It’s called A/B because A is your control (the version currently being used) and B is the new test. With multivariate you are able to test a number of things at one time. This can be very useful if you have a highly trafficked site and can swap multiple elements in and out in a controlled manner. And there are over-arching tests you should be doing as well, such as sending a searcher to a landing page vs landing on your website directly, or using different landing pages for specific ad groups from your search campaign (with dynamically generated keyword specific content).

In addition to driving online conversions, most websites offer a toll-free number for prospective customers to call. The call center that receives those calls is another place where testing can and should happen. Phone technologies are readily available that allow you to A/B test scripting, call routing or other key elements. You might want to test something quickly and on a small scale, and there are ways to do that too. For instance, my employer, RM Factory offers a service called iQueue. iQueue is a cloud-based mini call center that allows for highly controlled testing and optimizations of offers, copy, scripting, and positioning. Sometimes the larger call centers don’t want to take on small programs, but a mini test lab like iQueue can take care of that.

It’s always fun to test into a new winner. Here are some surprise winners (highlighted in green) on programs that I’ve worked on. The control is listed first:

  • $200 rebate vs Free installation (free is the most powerful word in direct marketing, so this one really shouldn’t have come as a surprise)
  • Image with no person vs image with a person
  • Red type vs green type (color matters!)
  • Website with corporate focus vs customer focus (actually, this one came as no surprise)
  • Staid, talking head DRTV ad vs humorous ad

Please share your testing surprises in the comments section below!