Posts Tagged ‘SEOmoz’

New Breed of Web Metrics Can Help Marketing Executives Make Better Decisions

Monday, November 19th, 2012

As online marketing processes have evolved, the number and sophistication of software tools to support specific functions has exploded. Every discipline within marketing and PR has its own tools, among them:

Most Web Marketing Tools are TacticalContent development: CMS tools (WordPress, Joomla, HubSpot, 100s of others), Adobe CS, tools for creating infographics, etc.

SEO: backlink tools (Backlink Watch, SEOmoz, Majestic), keyword research tools, page optimization tools, SEO plugins.

Social media: social media monitoring (Radian6, Sysomos, SM2), social media management (HootSuite, SocialOomph, Buffer), Twitter tools, etc.

Web analytics: Omniture, WebTrends, Google Analytics, Clicky, and more.

All are very helpful, even essential, but most are designed for practitioners, that is: they help a specialist in a particular discipline do his or her job more effectively. Not only are they tactical, each focuses on supporting one functional silo or another. Not surprising, since this is how digital marketing is managed today—as a set of largely disconnected specialties. So much so, companies utilize different tools, resources, and in some cases, even different agencies to manage web visibility for brand, SEO, social media, PR, and paid advertising.

And of course, search has evolved—it’s no longer just 10 blue links. Today, web presence goes way beyond a company’s website. News and social links are as vital as are other points of visibility. What’s missing is the larger strategic picture needed for top-level decision-making and for managing digital marketing and PR in a coordinated manner. We’re all missing this because there aren’t tools to help us do it. Or are there?

A “Eureka” Moment

A couple of weeks ago, we blogged about the web presence optimization (WPO) framework. This model (evolved from a 2010 post) came about from KC Associates’ (KCA) client consulting projects. Operating as a cross-functional team, each consultant knew that a framework for optimization is useless unless there’s a way to track and measure gaiting factors that can be adjusted in order to move the optimization needle. So the group took a long, hard look at the tactical tools each consultant uses with a more creative mind of how they might be repurposed for WPO.

For example, SEO backlink tools can provide detailed lists of the precise backlinks to a competitor’s website. This can be quite valuable to an SEO consultant, but it’s mind-numbing overkill for a VP of marketing.

However, a graphical comparison of the type and quantity of backlinks pointing to the firm’s website and the sites of close competitors may be very enlightening (e.g., discovering that competitor A has twice as many media links and three times as many social links pointing to them)—particularly if these measures have changed significantly in a short period of time.

This simple change in thinking was truly eye-opening.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

First and foremost, the WPO framework provides the strategic and structural approach to the unified management of web visibility. And WPO metrics that support this framework provide the critical measurement necessary to enable the overall coordination of these disciplines to improve presence optimization and performance.

The set of 100+ WPO metrics that the group developed for KCA clients is driven by data collected by a host of off-the-shelf tools as well as some custom developed sources. As a collection, the attributes of these metrics differ from what most other tracking and measurement tools are set up to provide in six distinct ways:

  • • Focus on management, not execution. WPO metrics are designed to support management decision-making (e.g., where should we devote more resources) rather than tweaks to specific tactics. Put another way, they are about the “what” rather than the “how.”
  • • Provide a unified view of results. They provide leaders and team members with an overall picture of press (media outlets), social, website (organic search), industry (e.g. associations, research organizations) and paid web presence. The tactical tools available tend to focus on one or two of these areas.
  • • Include competitor metrics. An organization’s digital marketing results don’t exist in a vacuum; it’s critical to be able to view results in the context of competitive activities. Competitive benchmarking is vital to developing strategy and allocating resources.
  • • Reflect the value of owned, earned and paid presence, not just the company website. What customers, analysts, journalists, bloggers, and others have to say about you is sometimes more important than your own content. WPO metrics show the value of all of your points of web presence, whether it’s your content or something produced by a third party.
  • • Are actionable and NOT “everything but kitchen sink.” Too many tools try to report every possible detail, rather than just what’s important. The result is data overload and analysis paralysis. It’s confusing and too much to absorb, and therefore doesn’t get acted upon. Best-practice WPO metrics focus only on measures that support concrete action.
  • • Identify clear priorities. While WPO metrics cover a lot of ground, not every measure matters all the time. For example, if your media share-of-voice remains about the same from one month to the next, but your AdWords conversion rate drops by half, WPO metrics focus on the latter result.

WPO metrics won’t replace tactical, execution-level tools, but they will help guide decisions about which functional tools to use and how to coordinate the tasks of different disciplines for a larger purpose. They fill a critical gap by giving marketing executives, and everyone on digital marketing and PR teams, a unified view of web presence that reflects a more integrated optimization effort.

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Web Presence Optimization Software Review: gShift Labs

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

gShift Labs is the first (at least that I’m aware of ) integrated software package for managing web presence optimization (WPO). Given that WPO is the fusion of SEO, social media, interactive PR, and online reputation management, that’s a tall order. But based on a good look at the product, gShift has a great headstart on meeting the challenges of this discipline.

gShift Labs - Web Presence Optimization SoftwareUnlike pure SEO management tools (e.g., Web CEO, SEO Powersuite), social media monitoring tools (e.g., Radian6, Alterian SM2), or inbound marketing suites (e.g., HubSpot), gShift isn’t a point solution, but a single integrated tool to manage all aspects of WPO.

What sets this software apart is its approach as much as its functionality; the people behind gShift understand that SEO, online PR, social media, PPC advertising and other tactics are each pieces of the larger web presence puzzle. They aren’t silos, but tactics that need to be used in a coordinated manner to maximize and optimize an organization’s online presence. gShift is the first software built from the ground up with that approach in mind.

Features

gShift enables marketers or agencies to track unlimited websites, web pages, social media accounts, external pages (e.g. media mentions), competitors and countries. The only limit is on keywords tracked, which is the basis of gShift’s pricing (see “Limitations and Concerns” below).

The software doesn’t provide a way to automatically segregate branded from unbranded search keywords (which would be nice), but this can be set up manually using “Campaigns.” Campaigns are gShift’s method for creating different keyword groups to track (e.g., by product line, country, competitor, etc.). The ability to show country-based rankings (e.g., U.S. results for a company.com site, Canadian results for a company.ca site) is helpful.

gShift Labs Web Presence DashboardgShift automatically tracks organic vs. paid vs. mobile (an increasingly important segment) traffic and goal conversions for each. Yes, you could do this from Google Analytics (GA) as well (in fact, gShift pulls a fair amount of its reporting data from GA) but gShift presents it all in one spot, attractively graphed out.

Backlinks remain a key component of SEO. gShift displays backlinks by site, backlinks by page (very helpful), backlinks by competitor, and even provides a list of “recommended backlink” sources. For your website, gShift will display your top backlinks by authority and referral visits, along with changes in backlinks over time.

For your competitors, the software identifies their target terms (anchor text in backlinks), top backlinks and ranking. From a pure competitive research standpoint, gShift isn’t quite as robust as a tool like SEMRush (which provides AdWords keywords and click costs in addition to complete target organic keywords), but it does offer significant integrated functionality nonetheless.

The ability to track external pages is another nice feature. gShift enables you to set up external pages to track in different categories: Press Releases, Blogs, social media accounts, videos, and shortened URLs (e.g. bit.ly URL links). It also finds and shows you “other pages in your pool,” referring pages you may not know to track. The software displays traffic, conversions, bounce rate, social shares and search rank on assigned keywords for all of these pages. Again, most of this data (other than search rank) could be pulled from GA, but gShift makes it much easier and faster to track these metrics.

SEO is a core element of WPO, and gShift covers this pretty well. It provides daily rank checking (but charges weekly—see “Pricing” below), with comparison to the prior day’s, week’s or month’s rank highlighted in green (improvement), yellow (no change) or red (decline). The tool offers page-level auditing (specific page+keyword combination), showing what’s done and supplying recommendations for optimization improvement across a wide range of attributes (meta tags, keyword density, alt tags, headings, code fixes, etc.). Helpfully, gShift also rates the relative difficulty of each recommended task.

For any given keyword, gShift will show the top ranking page on your site by search engine (though it won’t identify the page with the highest internal gShift score for that keyword, which would be another nice feature). gShift has partnered with WordStream for its integrated keyword research functionality.

In addition to the keywords you are tracking, gShift will display recommended keywords from GA as well as all keywords that have produced at least one goal conversion. What’s more, gShift recently announced capability that gives search marketers a pretty good idea of what’s behind the “not provided” keyword data in GA, by showing you which pages are being accessed along with the top keywords driving traffic to those pages.

gShift features extensive social media tracking capabilities as well, pulling analytics from Twitter (e.g. number of mentions and retweets), LinkedIn and YouTube all into one spot. For your videos on YouTube, gShift displays rankings for those videos on specified keywords with YouTube’s search function as well as Google rankings for those videos by keyword phrase.

Again, most of these social media metrics are freely available, but gShift saves the time and effort of tracking them all down from their native sources. gShift currently provides about 75% of the data available natively from the top social networks, with more metrics on the product roadmap (e.g. expanded LinkedIn metrics are anticipated to be added within the next 30-60 days).

The power of gShift lies in its efficiency for reporting (GA-type site data, social media metrics, and ranking plus performance of external assets like guest posts or news releases all in one tool), its SEO improvement functionality, and its actionable on-site and off-site metrics. Reporting is flexible; gShift enables administrators to add explanatory or analytical text comments to virtually any metric within a report.

Few (if any) other SEO and/or social media management tools provide the type of detailed data about a blog post, web page, external article or news release that gShift does because other tools don’t “ask the right questions.” Competitive tools tend to be more siloed, while gShift takes a web presence optimization-centered approach.

Background

Chris AdamsKrista LaRivieregShift Labs co-founders Krista LaRiviere and Chris Adams come from a digital marketing and software development background. In the early 2000s, they developed the Hot Banana web CMS product, which was acquired by email service provider Lyris in 2006.

Future Plans

gShift aggressively updates the product with new features. Among plans for coming releases are “engagement signals,” which will display, for example, how many people have commented anywhere (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) about a specified blog post or other piece of content.

Competition

gShift’s closest competitor is possibly SEOmoz, a powerful SEO suite which just recently added social monitoring. From a straight SEO standpoint, it’s hard to beat the deep functionality of SEOmoz. However, what gShift may lack in depth in this area, it makes up for in ease of use and overall user experience. Put another way, gShift is arguably a better tool for marketers looking for reporting on site and external asset performance, and optimizing those assets for improvement. SEOmoz provides more raw technical data for hands-on webmasters.

Limitations and Concerns

Backlink checking is limited to the “top” 500 backlinks for any site, page or competitor. For internal site pages, that’s generally more than sufficient, but home pages on even moderately popular websites can have far more than 500 backlinks. There’s no way to know what’s missing (other than using a separate backlink checker tool).

The internal keyword tool shows monthly volume, but doesn’t indicate ranking difficulty—a key oversight. It does little good to know how popular a keyword phrase is without also knowing if it’s feasible to try to rank for that phrase. This should be high on gShift’s list of features to add, but for now, users will have to utilize a separate tool or technique for this function.

Pricing

In my opinion, gShift’s pricing is a tad high (for the SMB market) and the model is unnecessarily convoluted. The software is priced on the basis of “keyword rankings” (KRs). A KR is one keyword, on one website, in one country. And each keyword rank is automatically checked on a weekly basis, so a single keyword consumes four KRs in a month (or five in some months, one would suppose).

gShift’s baseline Small Business package (500 keyword rankings at $99 per month) sounds pretty reasonable, until you realize how quickly that can add up. 100 keywords, checked against one website in one country consumes 400 KRs per month. Add all of those keywords to one other country and that’s another 400 KRs. Check 20 of those keywords against three top competitors and that’s another (20 x 3 x 4 =) 240 KRs. In order to really make inroads into the SMB market where this product fits best, the pricing should ideally be somewhat lower and a whole lot simpler.

Bottom Line

While gShift Labs doesn’t necessarily provide the single best tool specifically for SEO management, or backlink checking, or keyword research, or social media monitoring—it is the only software currently available that combines pretty darn good functionality in all of these areas in a single platform.

gShift Labs is the first software vendor to approach SEO, online PR and social media as parts of the integrated whole of web presence optimization. Small to midsized businesses in the B2B space who want to maximize their online footprints and opportunities to be “found” when prospects are searching for what they offer should definitely evaluate gShift Labs.

FTC Disclosure: gShift Labs provided no compensation in any form for this review.

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40 (of the) Top SEO Guides, Tips and Resources of 2010 (So Far)

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Despite constant change on the search landscape—personalization, localization, Caffeine, Google Instant—SEO is not dead, not even close. It is certainly changing though. How can you stay current and adjust? What basic SEO factors and techniques remain important? What common mistakes should you avoid? How do realtime platforms like Twitter affect search results? What trends should you be watching? How do you optimize non-text content such as video? Is duplicate content always bad? What does Matt Cutts have to say about all of this?

Best SEO Guides of 2010 (So Far)Get the answers to these questions and more here in 40 of the best blog posts and articles on SEO strategy, tactics, trends and insights so far in 2010.

Yes, Rand Fishkin and SEOmoz are cited several times here (not surprising for a “best of SEO” post). No, he isn’t paying me. At least not yet.

10 questions to evaluate an SEO by Conversation Marketing

The brilliant and always entertaining Ian Lurie provides an amusing yet practical guide to separating true SEO pros from fakers and wannabes. Example (question #9): “Do you have partnerships with major search engines? If they answer ‘Yes,’ make sure they’re not calling you from prison: They’re a total fraud. Any credible SEO will make a sound like they just choked on a lemon and explain that no one has a partnership with a major search engine.”

SEO Stuff to Think About When Starting a New Website by Pure Visibility

Catherine Juon details five considerations to keep in mind when building a new site, such as keeping your design simple and writing “findable” content. Though nothing here is rocket science, it’s amazing how many sites still fail these tests.

SEO 101 Common Mistakes by David Naylor

Extensive list of common SEO mistakes made in strategy, market research, keyword research, content development, URLs, link building, coding and more. As David puts it, “If you’re a web designer who thinks that ‘good CSS = SEO,’ a writer who thinks that ‘good content = SEO’ or a developer who just thinks ‘SEO = bullshit’ then here are a few pitfalls to bear in mind if you’re considering using SEO as a way to bring your products to market.”

Twitter and Real Time Search by SEO Wizardry

If you spend any time on SEO, you’re aware that even though Twitter uses insidious nofollow links it nevertheless impacts search results. Pete Hollier explains how authority and relevancy on Twitter affects search.

Social Networking Becoming More Important For Google SERPS! by Massachusetts Real Estate

Bill Gassett explains how Google is incorporating social signals into search results. His bottom line: “Having connections, followers, friends at the various social media sites such as Twitter, Friendfeed, and others is going to help your SERP placement!”

5 can’t-miss SEO trends by iMedia Connection

Kevin Ryan details five search trends including the impact of social media, real-time results and rich media content.

How To Name Your Website’s Files by Daily SEO Tip

Naming your files in a more intelligent and strategic fashion than simply products.html or image0498.jpg is not only helpful for SEO but also more intuitive for human visitors. This post explains how to use file naming for both optimization and good, solid web design purposes.

7 Awesome Ways of Utilizing the Webpage Footer To Boost Your SEO, Building a Brand and Generating Leads by Kittu K

Who knew the humble footer could be so powerful? Here’s a great explanation of how bottom-of-the-page real estate can be capitalized on to improve the user experience, enhance indexing, connect with visitors through social media and more.

What Does Google Social Search Mean for SEO? by Search Engine Watch

John Greer explains how Google utilizes social signals in search, what types of queries are affected and what sources of data are used to adjust results.

3 Skills You Need To Be An SEO by Search Engine Journal

SEO requires more than just geek talent. Danny Wong makes the case for why successful SEOs also need other talents including (perhaps most importantly) patience: “You also need to understand that your rankings in the SERPS will not always change overnight.”

Matt Cutts Interviewed by Eric Enge by Stone Temple Consulting

Eric Enge gets deep into the SEO weeds with Matt Cutts on topics like indexing, PageRank, duplicate content, “crawl budget,” link juice, 301 and 302 redirects, the rel=canonical tag, Session IDs, affiliate links, faceted navigation, HEAD requests, NoFollow and more. It’s great stuff, but don’t even try to read this post before your first coffee or Mountain Dew in the morning.

An Illustrated Guide to Matt Cutts’ Comments on Crawling & Indexation by SEOmoz

For those who found Eric’s post above just a bit too much to get through, Rand Fishkin provides a clever summary in illustrated cartoon format. Kind of like the Classics Illustrated comic book series (for those old enough to remember them). Rand’s post may miss a little of Eric’s detail but it’s much more fun.

How to optimize your site for Google in 2010 by iMedia Connection

Jason Prescott shows how SEO, paid search and social media (including blogging) work together to not only enhance an organization’s web presence but also a lift in click-through rates.

How To Optimize Your Mobile Content by MediaPost Search Insider

Todd Friesen offers five tips for optimizing your site for mobile devices. Considering that one out of five Facebook users accesses the site through their mobile device and 30% of social media users access a social media site “several times a day,” mobile SEO can no longer be ignored.

Nine common SEO campaign mistakes by Econsultancy

In this cleverly written and creatively illustrated post, Jaamit Durrani details common SEO mistakes such as over-reliance on the home page and ignoring long tail key phrases. One minor quibble: SEO isn’t a “campaign,” it’s a continual effort.

30 SEO Problems & the Tools to Solve Them (Part 2 of 2) by SEOmoz
***** 5 Stars
It’s Rand Fishkin again (what a shock), this time presenting an outstanding list of SEO concerns and tools to deal with them, such as using GSiteCrawler or Xenu to identify crawl errors, and Backtweets to measure tweet activity to a URL across multiple URL shortener platforms.

Google Experts Answer your SEO Questions by Digital Inspiration

Wondering how to get more of your site’s pages into Google’s index? Or how useful article submission sites really are for improving your site’s search ranking? Amit Agarwal publishes a highly informative, straight-from-the-horse’s-mouth interview with several members of Google’s search quality team that answers these questions and many more.

Video SEO: YouTube Optimization and Universal Search Video Ranking Factors & Signals by The Fire Horse Trail

Terry Van Horne offers a detailed, step-by-step guide to “the nuts and bolts of video optimization.”

9 Expert SEO Tips for Small Businesses by Small Business Trends

Anita Campbell picks the brains of nine SEO experts including Aaron Wall, Matt McGee and Debra Mastaler for their best tips optimizing small business websites.

SEO vs. SEF by ClickZ

The prolific Mark Jackson explains how to use keyword research, content, information architecture and blogging to turn a search-engine-friendly (SEF) website into one that is truly optimized.

Whiteboard Interview – Google’s Matt Cutts on Redirects, Trust + More by The Daily SEO Blog

Scott Willoughby recaps an interview (video + notes) of Matt Cutts by Rand Fishkin, covering topics ranging from 503 status codes and PageRank to displaying geo-specific content based on user IP and chaining redirects (which is bad).

How a 3 Month Old Website Received 958,373 Visits from Google by ViperChill

Normally a title like this would trigger my mental spam alert, but this is from Glen Allsop, so it’s legit. He describes how to use the fact that 20-25% of Google searches every single day are brand new and combine it with event news and trending topics (from Google Trends) to capitalize on these high volume, low competition searches to potentially generate large amounts of search traffic.

10 ways to screw up your SEO by iMedia Connection

Dave McAnally outlines 10 ways that companies often sub-optimize their web presence, such as managing social media activities independently from search, confusing real-world competitors with true competition in search, and implementing a CMS without applying best practices in SEO.

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO by SEOmoz
***** 5 Stars
Must reading for anyone involved in SEO. This is an extensive but rich guide to optimizing websites, written in clear language, covering everything from how search engines work and the basics of search-friendly web design to common SEO myths and using metrics to track SEO results.

Ecommerce SEO Checklist by SEO Scoop

Rebecca Wright provides a concise nine-item checklist for optimizing keywords, code, content, images and links. Though written with ecommerce sites in mind, this is a good basic checklist for any site.

Matt Cutts Movie Marathon by SEOmoz

“Dr. Pete” Meyers presents his 10 favorite Matt Cutts YouTube videos, addressing topics like the importance of the meta keywords tag (per Matt: “I wouldn’t spend even 0 minutes on it, personally”), the impact of dofollow comments on blogs (moderate comments!) and an admission by Matt that “Good content is necessary, but not sufficient” (with a more detailed explanation in his video).

How Google Works - InfographicLearn How Google Works: in Gory Detail by PPC Blog
***** 5 Stars
This phenomenally popular infographic (5,756 tweets as of the time of this writing) precisely what happens between the time you post content to the web and the moment someone first finds it on a Google Search. It also includes trivia like the fact that Google has 36 data centers worldwide that cost up to $600 million each.

25 Ethical Tips That Will Skyrocket Your Search Engine Rankings by The YOUmoz Blog

An outstanding compendium of SEO tips from internal linking and optimized page titles to writing quality blog comments as part of a link-building effort and avoiding Javascript links (or at least duplicating them with HTML links in the page footer).

Why Duplicate Content Is Good For You by Search Engine Journal

Huh? Doesn’t duplicate content (almost) rank up with their with link buying as an SEO no-no? Not necessarily. John Hargrave presents a case study on how a great piece of content, duplicated word-for-word on a popular website, went “megaviral” boosting search engine rank and traffic for both the original and duplicated content site.

How to Optimize Your Site for Search by Inc. Magazine

An excellent primer for those fairly new to SEO and helpful review for experienced pros, this article covers the basics from keyword research and placement to link seeding.

9 Steps to Diagnosing Lost Search Engine Traffic by High Rankings Advisor

A sudden drop in search traffic can cause heartburn for any website owner. Instead of reaching for the Prevacid, check out this post where Jill Whalen outlines a nine-step process for determining the cause of the decline and then rectifying it. One familiar example: “Review and filter out ‘brand’ traffic. Most websites get a lot of Google traffic from people who’ve typed some version of the name of their company as their search query…If you receive fewer visitors for your brand, this could be caused by a decrease in marketing and advertising.”

Prioritize and Summarize – Final Step of the 8-Step SEO Strategy by The Daily SEO Blog

The finale of a 10,000-word, eight post series on SEO strategy from defining your target audience and identifying their needs through prioritizing efforts and presenting your action plan.

SEO: The Road To Strategy by MediaPost Search Insider

Gord Hotchkiss muses about how a truly effective SEO strategy needs to reflect overall corporate strategy, noting that “SEO tactics that are grounded in the day-to-day business and the strategic objectives of the company will always outperform the ‘links for hire’ and ghostwriter content creation that still flourishes in this business. Is it easy? Hell no. Is it worth it? I believe so.”

6 Ways to Learn SEO by SEOmoz

Rand Fishkin (geez, this guy almost needs his own “best of” post) defines six levels of SEO knowledge, then walks through six training methods (e.g., free online guides, published books, conferences) and explains who can benefit most from each method and a ballpark estimate of the time required.

The On-Page SEO Cheatsheet by Conversation Marketing

Ian Lurie supplies a handy two-page (what a human visitors sees and what a search engine sees) PDF cheat sheet for on-page SEO tactics, from proper placement of in-text links and inclusion of image alt tags to use of external Javascript files and good semantic markup. A lot of great info packed into a compact document.

The Challenges of Measuring SEO Success, Part 2 by Search Engine Watch

Ray “Catfish” Comstock explores the impact of personalization and localization on search results and advises SEOs to focus on average rank per Google Webmaster tools and optimize for “share of voice” rather with than an obsessive focus on top search spots.

How to measure SEO for maximum impact by iMedia Connection
***** 5 Stars
Don’t let the title fool you into thinking this is just a post about analytics. John Faris describes in concise yet comprehensive fashion how to create actionable search ranking reports then act on the data to increase productive traffic through content gap analysis, behavioral keyword targeted, competitive link analysis and other tactics.

Whiteboard Friday – The Biggest SEO Mistakes SEOmoz Has Ever Made by SEOmoz

Rand Fishkin (again!) confesses via Danny Dover to five SEO mistakes his group has made over the years. #2 is indeed a bad one. #3 still seems like a good idea, especially if it improves the human user experience.

A Minimalist Guide to SEO: Get It Done in 6 Simple Steps by KISSmetrics

For those without a lot of SEO experience, a small website and a tight budget, James Chartrand prescribes six basic SEO tactics that can help improve search rankings and traffic.

aimClear’s 2009 Daily Training Link Library by aimClear

And finally…if the resources above aren’t enough to sate your appetite for SEO knowledge, grab a cup of coffee and a comfortable chair. Marty Weintraub shares his team’s “list of over 1,500 search industry articles, ideas, tweets, tool reviews, notes, snippets and snark” they use to stay current on SEO practices and trends. This is a remarkable list of resources from experts like David Harry, Rand Fishkin (what a shock), Jill Whalen and Debra Mastaler.

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Best Web Analytics Tools and Tips of 2009

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

There’s a great scene from the original Cannonball Run in which one of drivers hops into his Ferrari convertible, rips the rearview mirror off of the windshield, tosses it out and then says to his startled co-driver, “What is behind us—does not matter.” In the world of analytics, all information is, by its nature, backward looking (you can’t measure what hasn’t happened yet). But it isn’t the historical measures themselves which are of interest to analysts, rather the trends they reveal and path(s) forward they illuminate. In short, to be valuable, analytics must be actionable; they should provide hard data to clarify what you should keep doing, what you should stop doing, and what you should do differently.

Learn more about creating custom reports in Google Analytics, improving site conversion rates, interesting tools that extend the capabilities of Analytics and more here in some of the best articles and blog posts on web analytics from the past year.

Google Analytics 101, Part 1 by Search Engine Watch

Frequent best-of contributor Ron Jones provides an excellent introduction to Google Analytics for newbies, and even intermediate users may learn something new here.

Eyes on the Prize with Custom Reports by Google Analytics Blog

Sebastian Tonkin provides step-by-step instructions for creating custom reports within Google, such as a report showing the conversion rate for visitors from a specific geography or traffic source.

Web Analytics and Segmentation for Better Conversion Optimization by SEOmoz

A detailed tutorial on using the Advanced Segments Tool in Google Analytics to gain insights into measures such as differences in conversion rates based on content viewed: sure, that popular blog post drew a lot of traffic, but was it productive traffic? Advanced Segments can help answer such questions.

6 Tools Every Google Analytics User Should Have by ROI Revolution

For technical analysts, Shawn Purtell reviews six—actually seven—Firefox extensions, Greasemonkey scripts and other tools that enhance the functionality of Google Analytics. One example is Social Media Metrics, a tools which “allows you to see social media and link bait statistics for your specific pages.”

Is Yahoo Analytics Better than Google’s? by ECommerce Guide

David Needle reports results of a CMS Watch study which gave higher marks to Yahoo’s analytics tool in a couple of areas, including higher default pageview limits for larger enterprises, and the ability to access and view raw data, which would “let you continue to maintain a historical record instead of starting over” if you ever move to a more robust paid analytics platform.

Polaris Puts Google Analytics On Your Desktop by I’m Just Sayin’

A brief but helpful review of Polaris, a free Adobe Air application that delivers eight of the most popular Google Analytics reports straight to your desktop without logging in. A slick, quick way to stay current on your web traffic stats.

New AdWords ID Data in Google Analytics API by Google Analytics Blog

Alex Lucas explains how to combine data from Google Analytics and Google AdWords to “get a (more) detailed picture of the performance of…ad creatives and keywords.”

New Google Analytics Features Can Help You Track Your Social Media Success & Failures by Social Conversations

Li Evans showcases several new features recently added or planned for Google Analytics, such as new goal tracking types, custom variables, mobile apps tracking and custom alerts.

100 Ways To Measure Social Media by MediaPost Social Media Insider

What metrics can be tracked in social media? David Berkowitz offers up his list of  “100 thought-starters.” Some are easy (e.g. numbers of fans and followers), others are more challenging and may require more sophisticated tools, but it’s a great list for generating ideas.

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How to Use Article Marketing as Part of Your Social Media Strategy

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Guest post by Beth Hrusch

As you may know by now, article marketing is an effective way to gain credibility and establish yourself as an expert in your field.  By writing articles about topics of interest to your readers, and distributing them on article directories, you can give your content the kind of exposure that would be hard to get anywhere else.  But, what many people don’t realize is that article marketing isn’t just for directories anymore.

Article Writing for Content MarketingSocial media has become an effective vehicle for content distribution, and articles are no exception.  According to the Small Business Success Index, sponsored by Network Solutions (2010), one in five small businesses are now actively using social media.  About 75% of those surveyed have a company page on a social networking site.  What makes social media so effective for marketing purposes?  The simple answer is that it gives your content massive exposure across a wide range of platforms.

Articles can easily be distributed using social media news and bookmarking sites, for example.  Each of these sites has strengths and weaknesses, and some will suit certain goals better than others.  Here are 5 of the most popular:

1. Facebook- With over 250 million members, it’s got tremendous reach.  Generate interest with fans and friends by talking about topics related to your industry then link to your articles on your fan page.  Ping articles and blogs automatically, so your groups can see your latest posts.

2. Twitter- Similar to Facebook, Twitter allows you to market your articles automatically and in real time.  As a micro-blogging service, it allows businesses to communicate and share the latest information with customers, and link to articles and other content using a url shortener.

3. LinkedIn- For professional networking, setting up a profile in LinkedIn allows you to share your expertise with others in your group.  Market your articles by sending them to your account or have them pulled from another social media account, to show up under your updates.

4. Digg- A really popular news/bookmarking site that can bring your articles massive exposure.  Submitting your article to Digg takes interested readers directly to your article and your site, where they can also browse archived articles and check you out.

5. YouTube- What do videos have to do with article marketing?  Both are content, just in different formats.  Turn your articles into videos, using your text as a script.  This can be done inexpensively, so almost any budget can handle it.  YouTube is the 4th most popular website in the world, and videos consistently rank high in the search engines, so the potential to go viral is huge.

There are many more social media sites that lend themselves to article marketing.  Check out the handy chart put together by the folks at Seomoz.com for more tips on how to use each site to market your business.

Article marketing has the power to establish you as an authority and give interested consumers a way to access your business through links to your site.  Social media supercharges your articles by giving them wide and deep distribution throughout the web.  Together, they help you reach a large, targeted audience without the need for an expensive marketing campaign.  Be sure, though, that you research the social media sites- how they work and what their terms of service are.  Some will work better for you than others.

Also, remember that article marketing is only effective if you commit to creating and distributing fresh content every week or so.  Maintain both aspects of your marketing strategy and you’ll see results.

Beth Hrusch is Senior Editor at Interact Media, a content marketing software company.

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