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Making the Most of Google Analytics

Sterling Communications -Google Analytics on Computer

If you’re building or managing a website, Google Analytics is your best friend. It provides voluminous insight into visitor behaviors, demographics, and traffic on any site. Of course, because it’s such a robust tool, Google Analytics can also be challenging for new or inexperienced users; there is simply too much data and it’s hard to know what’s important. Categorization terminology such as “source,” “medium,” and “unique page views” can trip up new users or send them down time-consuming and unproductive rabbit holes. Furthermore, Google Analytics supports multiple ways to do similar things, which only adds to the confusion. All that said, I’ve found the most prevalent source of befuddlement for new Google Analytics users stems from not knowing why they are looking at the data. The question you should always ask yourself before diving in is, “What am I trying to find?”

Be specific. What exact problem do you need to solve? What key question do you need answered? What specifically do you want to know? Once you define what you’re looking for, you can target your use of Google Analytics. It will give you insight, and you can knowledgeably adjust website content or design to improve overall user experience.

If you’re a beginner, here are the three most important categories to focus on:

  • Location, which tells you where your visitors are coming from
  • Medium, which tells you how they got there (social media? Google? another site?)
  • Site content, which tells you what interests them most

Focusing on these three brackets will give you a solid foundation for understanding: 1) how your site is functioning in the greater digital ecosystem; 2) whether you’re drawing the visitors you desire; and 3) where to direct any improvement efforts.

Best Practices for Google Analytics

While every Google Analytics investigation is a unique endeavor, there are best practices for using the tool. My tips for new users are: (more…)

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Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly to Avoid Google’s Mobilegeddon

Public domain via Wikipedia

Google updates its search algorithm up to 500-600 times per year. Normally these changes don’t turn heads. However, today Google launched a search engine algorithm update that some are referring to as Mobilegeddon.

The news? Google is giving preference to mobile-friendly sites when running searches from mobile devices.

The search engine giant assigns priority in search results to websites designed specifically to work on smartphones in an attempt to improve the experience when people search from their smartphones. Google wants developers to make their sites look and function better on smaller screens: for example, by using bigger text, and links that are farther apart and easier to tap. According to USA Today, more than half of all Google-based searches now come from mobile devices. With TechCrunch reporting that 44% of the Fortune 500 companies failing Google’s mobile-friendly tests, this is a big deal.

In short: if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it could materially affect your company’s search rankings. (more…)


8 Steps to Optimize Your Content for Search and Social

“Advertising is just renting the space. Content marketing is owning it.” — Arnie Kuenn

More and more, businesses are seeing the value of content marketing as an advertising tool and a way to position themselves as thought leaders in their respective industries. Content is the currency of the web. Buyers need content that makes them more knowledgeable on whatever topic they search for; businesses that provide that information will win. I was fortunate to hear a talk on this subject last month by Arnie Kuenn, CEO of Vertical Measures, a search, social and content marketing services company.

Content marketing strengthens the role of both search and social in our lives. The more good information there is on the Internet, the more people will go there to look for it. Content marketing’s goal is to get searchers to your website. The statistics Kuenn provided about search were really surprising and intriguing:

  • 93 percent of all buyers online or in stores use search prior to making a purchase
  • 86 percent of searchers conduct non-branded queries. (Ex: What is the best surfboard?)
  • 94 percent of buyers click on organic links versus six percent on paid links for branded queries.

Here are his eight steps for the convergence of search, social and content marketing:

  1. Strategy development
    • Your strategy will evolve through the whole process.
    • Why are you creating the content you are creating?
    • Who is your audience?
    • Who are you? – Determine your voice.
    • What types of content will you create?
    • How will you develop your content?
    • When will you develop your content?
    • What does success look like?
    • What is difference a year from now?
  2. Research
    • Get as much of your staff together as you can (face-to-face) and ask them what they get asked all the time.
    • The content you produce should answer those questions.
    • Look at Q &A sites: what questions are people asking most frequently?
    • Put your content in a spreadsheet and create an editorial calendar.
  3. Content creation – ideas for different types of content
    • Interviews – help make you the expert
    • Videos – interviews, fun, behind the scenes, user generated.
    • Lists (ex: best places to ski)
    • Curation or aggregation (11 lessons, 7 tips, etc.)
    • Free guides – good content that people will share, generate leads, build your list for you (ex: Guide to the best Southern California beaches)
    • When you produce content, it stays on the web until you want to take it down. Although the content may not be fresh, it will generate leads and traffic.
    • Content that is longer than 1,800 words tends to get more links than shorter posts.
  4. Content optimization
    • Check list: webpages, news, local, images and videos
    • Links pointing to your content
    • Titles and title tags (viewed in search results)
    • Description meta tag (viewed in search results)
    • Image alt text tags
    • H1 Tag (headline tag – only one!)
    • Page load times
    • Freshness of content
    • URL structure (short and includes keywords)
  5. Content promotion
    • Understand who your customer is and where they are online.
    • Conduct PR and blogger pitches
    • Develop relationships and build partnerships
    • People share your ideas, link to your content. Mentions and shares are signals (especially G+)
    • Pinterest?
  6. Content distribution
    • What channels are the best fit for the type of content you want to share?
    • Who would be most interested in this content and where are they?
  7. Link building
    • Who or if someone will link to your content is out of your hands.
    • Promotion, distribution and value of content are the biggest determining factors.
  8. Measurement
    • Measure for successes and failures
    • Check your rankings, traffic, conversions and other key metrics
    • Focus on the strategies that are providing the best ROI and keep rolling out the content

Happy curating!

Monika Hathaway can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Jazzpatron



Tips From The Frontline at #SMOC

I had the opportunity to attend the MediaBistro Social Media Optimization Conference (SMOC) in San Francisco earlier this week.

The show was full of sound bytes, excellent social media tips and some sharp strategies for linking digital strategy to social and PR efforts.

Conference discussions provided interesting perspectives on social media, by examining the science and metrics that have made SEO and PPC such important parts of marketing budgets, and applying them back to social media, where appropriate.

I’ve compiled a few of the best tips from the conference (particularly those that are relevant to PR), and have attributed them to the presenter that introduced the idea.



Does Your Content Match Reader Habits?

Media consumption is changing. Look no further than the New York Times recent announcement that they will begin charging for content as proof. No longer can stale advertising models support quality content.

So where is your audience getting their news? Despite paywalls, the answer is still: the Web.

According to a Pew Research study announced a little more than a month ago, "For the first time, more people said they got news from the Web more than newspapers."


With the change in the method people are consuming news, how do PR practitioners ensure their content is being seen not only by the media, but also by potential customers?

Three letters: S-E-O.

Search Engine Optimization has become an important part of the savvy PR practitioner's toolkit.

Here are three tips to get your pitches, press releases and other PR collateral online to work double-time, providing both SEO and PR functions.

  1. Know your audience. Who are you trying to reach – CIOs, CSOs or engineers at a few target companies?
  2. Use your resources. Do you have a list of important keywords already? Make sure they are weaved throughout all your materials.
  3. Determine which keywords work. Use Google to seach competing keywords (e.g., Los Gatos attorney vs Los Gatos lawyer. Which has more results? There's your winner.)

Editor's note: This post is the first in a three-part series on SEO. Next time, we'll look at keyword phrases – how to choose them, what to focus on and why your phrases need to go beyond media to include actual customers.