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CONNECTED CULTURE Blog by Jerry Allocca

Now, more than ever, we’re all connected. What does it mean to be part of the Connected Culture? Share your thoughts and ideas here!
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Discover Your Most Profitable Audience Segments

people-profilesMuch has changed since Google first launched Google Analytics (GA) more than a decade ago. If you’re responsible for your organization’s digital marketing, you’re probably already familiar with some of its basic functions. Yet, there have been updates and it’s always beneficial for a refresher when it comes to these valuable tools.

Get to Know Audience Insights
Audience Insights can help you make more informed decisions when it comes to your digital marketing campaigns. The tool allows you to reach people based on their specific interests as they browse pages, videos, and content across YouTube and the Google Display Network. Once you’re able to identify the audience segments that generate the most conversions (i.e. Leads or Sales), then you can target those specific segments in your online advertising campaigns.

Familiarize Yourself with These Other Reports
There is a tremendous amount of data that can be generated from reports created through GA. Each one can help you better understand your web traffic. These include:

  • Source/medium reports – Provides information on who is visiting your website and their behaviors, including how long they spend on your site and how many pages they view.
  • Audience acquisition reports – Offers you a view of what channels are bringing you traffic so that you can evaluate your qualitative metrics.
  • Content report – Gives an overview of the pages on your site and the performance of each page, including whether or not these pages are leading to conversions.
  • Funnel reports – Also referred to as goal flow reports, these let you look at how your site’s users flow through a process, such as the order in which they view your site’s pages. From this data, you can determine where you may be seeing traffic drop off and areas you can improve.
  • Use GACheckerGAChecker.com crawls your site and creates a spreadsheet of missing Analytics and AdWords tags. This useful tool makes sure all your pages have the right code in place so you can accurately track visitors.

Link Your Google AdWords with GA
Do you have a Google AdWords account? If so, you will want to link this with GA so that the two can feed and inform each other. By doing so, you can gain a much better view into your campaign performance.

Leverage the Tutorials
Google Analytics Academy provides a wealth of information to help you improve the success of your website. There are intro videos on how the platform works, along with tutorials on how to install tracking tags, work with reports and even set goals.

Although Google Analytics certainly provides you with information about how your site has already performed, its real value is in providing predictive and prescriptive insights to guide the decisions you make as your website continues to evolve. By using it to help drive your decisions, you can make intelligent modifications based on measurable data.

Question:

How have you used audience insight reports to help improve your results?

 

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Why Organic Search is Your Best Type of Traffic

Organic search traffic – it sounds almost as if it’s coming hgoogle-485611_640ome-grown, from a search engine farm outside of the city, doesn’t it? This image holds true, as organic search traffic is defined as being traffic coming to your website from no paid source other than typing a search query into a box. However many times, organic search traffic is overlooked because of its home-grown, natural approach to directing traffic to your website. Here are some reasons why organic search traffic is the best type of traffic to be directing to your website.

1). Home grown usually means the right people – Picture organic traffic as a job listing. You put out a listing for this incredible job with amazing pay and benefits in the newspaper. Some people may apply and have some of the qualifications to do the job, but the person who gets this amazing position is the right one. That’s how organic traffic works – people type in a search query and click on your listing in the search engine depending on a variety of factors. Generally, the people who click on that listing are the people who know what they’re looking for, so having them bring traffic to your website helps to keep them there longer and convert into a possible sale.

2). You’re the answer to someone’s question – We all know what happens when we get sick like we’ve never been sick before – we use a search engine to look up our symptoms. Granted, some people go to the actual doctor, but people are generally looking to find the answer whatever’s ailing them. This goes for organic search traffic as well. Search engines are designed to provide answers to questions, so having the answer to that user’s question or search query is going to give them some sort of conclusion to their issue. The people who are looking for your answer are out there and they are going to greatly contribute to your success online.

3). It means whatever you’re doing is working – Having a high organic search traffic rate signals so much more than how much people use search engines. It could mean that your website is working and functioning correctly for the user or that they’re able to complete a goal they had in mind when they visited your website. Whatever the reason for your organic traffic being so high, it shows that what you’re doing online as a brand is working for your users.  In a study done by the internet bargain retailer Groupon in 2014, it showed that organic search traffic is exponentially more important than previously thought – with it being about 60% of the internet’s total traffic. That’s no small slice of the internet pie – that’s more than half of all traffic, meaning if your organic traffic rate is high – people are coming to your website and enjoying their stay.

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The Best of the Best Blog Posts of 2015

We’ve posted a wide variety of posts in 2015 to help you increase your digital marketing success. While each post offers valuable takeaways, the following have proven to be the most beneficial according to our readers because of their useful tips, ideas and best practices.

Are you ready to experience significant results in your digital marketing efforts in 2016? We encourage you to read the list below of our top blog posts for 2015. And, why keep this valuable content to yourself? In the spirit of the holidays, go ahead and share this list with a few colleagues, too!

Traditional SEO: Going Old School Pays Off
With all the talk in 2015 about content, many began to wonder if there was still a place for SEO in a successful digital marketing campaign. Yet, the reality is that SEO is still alive and well and being utilized effectively by savvy marketers who want to increase their site’s rankings.
Read more about the benefits of traditional SEO

SEO Cheat Sheet
Did we convince you that SEO is still beneficial? Good! To serve as a basic guide to help you with your SEO efforts, we created a handy cheat sheet for you to hang on to and use as needed. This is a good post to bookmark or print and tuck into your desk drawer for easy access.
Get the Cheat Sheet.

Build Your Online Fingerprint: How to Create a Unique Social Media Presence
With countless businesses building their presence on social media, it can be a challenge to differentiate yourself from the others. This blog post offers some very helpful ideas on how to create a unique online fingerprint that will make you stand out in an increasingly crowded digital environment.
Start Building Your Online Fingerprint.

Content Marketing Hack: How to Repurpose Your Content Effectively
Most likely you upped your content marketing game in 2015. You may even have an amazing stockpile of blog posts, case studies, newsletters, articles and other content that is no longer being used. One of the benefits of producing quality content, is that it can be repurposed to extend its reach and effectiveness.
Learn a few creative hacks to repurpose your content.

5 Facebook Post Ideas to Keep Your Page Fresh
Yes, it can be difficult coming up with new ideas for Facebook posts. We’ve all seen the pages of those companies that bore their online audiences by simply promoting the same products and services over and over. The good news is that there are some simple ways to create posts that will encourage your existing community to engage with your brand and will generate interest from others.
Read these 5 post ideas and attract more people to your Facebook page in 2016.

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Traditional SEO: Going Old School Pays Off

Hoffice-594132_1280ow many historic phrases have ended with “- is dead”? For us in the world of internet marketing, the words “SEO is dead” rang like a death knell and algorithmic updates to Google and other search engines were the ones holding the bloody daggers. Over dramatization and hyperbole aside, the “death” of SEO was a dark day for many who honed their skills at website optimization to help their clients climb search engine rankings. Quality content became the new name of the game. Old dogs would have to learn new tricks or fall by the evolutionary wayside for refusal to adapt. They new mantra for internet marketing sounded as though a bold new monarch was claiming the throne of a decrepit, deposed, and dethroned former ruler. “SEO is dead. Content is King.” That death declaration was a bit premature, though, as traditional SEO pulled a Lazarus to remind everyone of what was so great about it in the first place, and to rule with King Content as an advisor of sorts. See, to call something that is still used, but in adapted ways, completely dead is naïve. Traditional SEO and modern, content-driven best practices drive and inform each other to truly improve a website’s rankings. It’s not enough just to have great content if no one is going to your website to read and consume it, just as it’s moot to drive people to your website without relatable, informative, useful, interesting and engaging content that will encourage further action and conversion. This begs the question, “How can we use traditional SEO in the modern era for the best pay off?”

To evaluate what traditional techniques can be adapted into the new era, one must first circle back to the motive behind search engines’ actions against SEO. Black hat SEO, dubbed so for the unethical manipulative tactics used to increase a site’s rankings, was a major driver for search engines to “get smarter” and ultimately “kill off” the remaining value of traditional SEO methods. If one uses white hat SEO techniques and pairs them with writing quality content, it becomes a symbiotic recipe for success. Building quality links, using keywords wisely in optimized, quality content, optimizing meta tags for any images or content on the site all still hold their value. Don’t be afraid to kick it old school and raise the dead. There’s a lot to learn from the past.

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The SEO Cheat Sheet

computer-767776_1280The cheat sheet. To some, it’s a dirty word and tactic. To others, it’s a godsend. No matter what school of thought one prescribes to, it’s clear that a cheat sheet is designed to give someone a leg up on something. (Besides, we’re sure that when you were in school, you delighted in the rare occurrence of a teacher allowing a cheat sheet for a test!) All debates and school references aside, in the working world, particularly the modern and mutable dominion of domains we call internet marketing, any sort of (ethical) advantage is a welcome gift. The problem with seeking out such advantages, as with anything related to the internet, is knowing where to find and identifying reputable resources. If you are in the internet marketing field, and/or SEO, you are most likely aware of how search engines work, the frequent updates their developers implement to prevent spammy content from showing up in results, and how to read a URL, meta tags, and the pages themselves for red flags.

Well known sites with reputations as good SEO resources such as Moz.com are great places to look for tips and cheat sheets of all kinds. Some cheat sheets cover the bare-bones basics of SEO, while others go more in depth. Cheat sheets may come from different perspectives- from those of web developers to bloggers to SEO’s. Down below, you’ll see a very simple sample cheat sheet we’ve drafted. What would you include in your cheat sheet?  This one is formatted as a questionnaire of sorts and only touches on some very basic SEO aspects.

  • Tags
    • Are any pages not being indexed? (Do they have a noindex tag in the site’s coding)
    • Is there an appropriately formatted title tag on each page? (Using a keyword and under 70 characters)
    • Does each page have a meta tag using keywords, a call to action if applicable, and under 160 words?
    • Does the page have more than one H1 tag?
    • Do images have alt text/tags?
  • Content
    • Is the content an appropriate length (ie is the site full on lengthy product descriptions but thin content)?
    • Is the content engaging, keyword rich, and appealing to both readers and search engines?
    • Is the content spammy?
  • Other
    • Are redirects and status codes in place?
    • Does the site have a sitemap submitted to Google?

Is the site user-friendly to navigate?

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Build Your Online Fingerprint: How to Create a Unique Social Media Presence

SEO-FingerprintIf you’re just getting started in the world of online marketing, you’ll likely hear the word “unique” repeated over and over again. Everyone wants unique content, a unique audience, a unique online presence. But what does that really mean, and how do you go about achieving it? Fortunately, building your unique online fingerprint is simple once you’ve figured out a few key things about your business.

Consistency Is Key

Too many businesses make the mistake of thinking that being unique means having a “crazy” string of images and content with no consistency. Nothing could be further from the truth! You want to figure out a simple, clear, elegant style and stick with that for as long as you can. Define a color palette that you want associated with your content, and highlight it in your logo, your promotional material, and your online content.

You want your audience to see your colors and immediately think of your business. Likewise, come up with a short, powerful mission statement or message and repeat it in your promotional material until it’s become part of your audience’s psyche. A single striking message is much more powerful than a hundred bland ones.

Know Your Niche

In the past, companies tried to market to everyone by creating big box superstores that sold everything. These days, with the online market so diverse and fragmented, it’s much more effective to dig out your niche and cater to that.

Figure out who your particular audience is, what their tastes are, what kind of media they consume, and build your online identity and content around that. Understand that your product is more than just a set of features and solutions. It’s an expression of identity, and the more deeply your audience can connect with that identity, the more loyal they’ll become to your business.

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Turn Likes Into Loyalists: How to Engage Your Social Media Audience

seo-2You’ve completed the online legwork to build up an impressive audience on social media. Good job! It is a great accomplishment and immensely beneficial to have thousands of people from all over the world ready (and hopefully willing) to listen to what you have to say. Now you must consider what to say to them. Building up Facebook “likes” or Twitter followers is only the beginning; now you have to engage them with quality content so they don’t end up ignoring your future posts. Here are some ideas for how to create engaging and effective social media content.

Pictures and Videos Should Grab Their Attention

Now that you’ve got an audience, you might feel compelled to share lengthy articles or product descriptions. If you have that impulse, here’s a tip: don’t! Focus instead on eye-grabbing pictures and short, interesting video clips.

You have to remember that on social media, you’re competing with thousands of people and pages all clamoring for clicks. You should be posting material that will grab a reader in the two seconds that your post is on their smartphone screen before they scroll down. Focus on funny or visually striking images that are easy to understand and digest, which will create a high share rate.

Contests Will Keep Them Engaged

Want to keep your audience coming back to your page? Create a regular contest or sweepstakes. By hosting a monthly or weekly contest, you’ll be incentivizing your audience to return to your page regularly. They’ll show up to see if they’ve won, and they’ll stay to browse your page (if your content is interesting and eye-catching enough).

Give Them a Peek Behind the Scenes

One of the biggest opportunities of social media is the fact that it gives an audience a chance to peek behind the curtain and see what content creators are like in their daily lives. It’s actually a disadvantage to project your company as a soulless machine these days; show them what you guys are like goofing around, and you’ll come off as more relatable.

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How Does Your SEO Hold Up Internationally?

online-communityWhether you’re a company that offers services to business all over the world or you’re selling your products to an international audience, if you’ve got visitors to your website from all across the globe, you should be thinking about how your SEO holds up internationally. Local SEO can be confusion enough, right? Fortunately there are some very obviously things that you should be paying attention to in order to ensure that your SEO is just as effective internationally as it is locally.

Here are somethings that you should consider for complete international optimization:

  1. Localized and Appropriate Content: If a large portion of your consumer demographic lives in Paris, France, be sure to utilize details that those in Paris, France would most relate to. Include appropriate currency and time zone to make your site most effective. You should also consider cultural norms between societies. For instance, what citizens in the United States may find humorous, another culture may find offensive.
  2. Language Differences: When targeting one specific region, you should make sure that all of your content is in that common language.  If you’re targeting multiple countries with different languages, consider having separate websites or subdomains for each region.
  3. Geotarget: Use geotargeting tools found with search engine tool such as Google Search Console to ensure that your website is targeting those which you are trying to reach.
  4. Link Earning: With international SEO comes the need for international link earning (formally known as link building). Consider whether or not international websites are linking back to you. Are international bloggers writing about your services or products? International links means better international SEO!
  5. Go Beyond Google and Bing. Sure, Google, Bing, and Yahoo! are the big names in the United States, but individuals across the seas utilize a variety of search engines that you may not be totally familiar with. Register your website (or international websites) with international equivalents, such as Yandex, Naver, and Seznam.
  6. Consider a Local IP Address: If you can, consider hosting your website, or its international counterpart, on an IP address that is local to the region which you are targeting. This will help your site to receive more relevant traffic  from those who exist internationally.

Ensuring that your SEO holds up internationally can be confusing, but when you consider these fundamental elements, you’ll be on your way to creating a well-rounded international audience!

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Google Search Console: The New Webmaster Tools

True or false: You must be a master to understand Google Webmaster Tools. False! But it certainly does sound like you should be well-equipped when it comes to the internet, right? If you’ve been intimidated by the mere thought of Google Webmaster Tools, you’re not alone. Sure, SEO expword-clouderts, marketers, and developers likely know a thing or two about online optimization, but what about the hobbyists, small business owners, or bloggers who aren’t well, experts?

Simply the title “webmaster” may deter certain individuals from utilizing the tools available through Google Webmaster Tools. That’s why Google is taking an initiative to rebrand Google Webmaster Tools as Google Search Console. According to Google, they hope that all types will utilize Google Search Console – webmasters and internet novices alike.

So what is Google Search Console and is it any different from Google Webmasters?  In a short answer, no, Google Search Console will not be any different, although Google does constantly add new tools to their service. The main purpose of Google Search Console (previously Google Webmasters) is so help websites obtain more traffic through search engine optimization. This is done through a number of tools and programs found within Search Console. The main purpose is so help better understand what is going on within a specific website.

From a very basic standpoint, here are just some of the things you can do with Google Search Console:

  • Assign which pages you would or would not like Google to crawl
  • Gain insight into sites that link back to your own website
  • See which keywords are most frequently found by Google when crawling your website
  • Assess your overall site performance and bounce rate

So there you have it – if you’ve ever been hesitant to utilize Google Webmasters, give it a try – or, should we say, give Google Search Console a try. It’s not just for webmasters, after all!

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‘What’s in it for Me?’ Upping the Ante for Link Building

Business man drawing social network structure

When it comes to creating a reputable online presence, link building is a key ingredient that is often overlooked. Thinking of your online presence, you’re likely to primarily focus on writing content, such as website content and blog posts and perhaps building a social media presence. However, link building helps you to further build relationships with other websites, with other businesses, and with potential audience members. Perhaps more importantly, link building helps to build a positive reputation amongst search engines in an effort to boost your search engine rankings.

If you’re new to link building, the process of obtaining links may seem overwhelming. However, there are a variety of ways to obtain links, all of which can be utilized by a variety of different industries and identities:

  • Natural links—As the name suggests, natural links come “naturally” to you or your business. This means no real effort needs to be done on your end, aside from, of course, being interesting and newsworthy! If you or your small business is heavily involved in the community, a local newspaper may cover your efforts and link back to your website in an online article. Or perhaps your business has won an award of some sort and is cited online? Congratulations! That’s a natural link!
  • Manual link building—Manual link building refers to creating links through outreach on your end. This can be done in a number of ways. One way is through submitting your URL to directories like DMOZ and Yahoo. Never pay for links, that will get you in trouble. Another way is to simply reach out and ask! Email bloggers asking if they’ll take a look at your product or service and write a post including a link back to you. If you’ve got an event going on, reach out to journalists to cover the story with an online article linking back to your website.
  • Self-created link building—The easiest but least successful way to gain links is to include a link back to your website within your social networking profiles, blog comments, news forums, and other places where conversations take place. Do this only where it makes conversational sense to do so. Don’t create these types of links as a link building strategy as those links will not help your seo efforts, but they can lead  to qualified traffic visiting your site which is always important.

While the credibility and search-ability of your name or website largely depends on polished content and an established social media presence, link building is a great way to further get your name out there and to form relationships. Keep these three SEO link building methods in mind in an effort to boost your online presence!

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