Why being a strategic marketer is so important

I’ve spent the last week at my parents house in a little town in Los Angeles called LaCrescenta. It’s been the first time I haven’t been in an office for over 1 week in 10 years (side note: this is the first time I’ve been at my parents for this long for almost 5 years). It has been good to take some time and reflect on things and do a little bit of looking at things from that 10 thousand foot view. Which has led me to thinking about why it is ever so important to take time, take a step back, and think more strategically.

Looking at things strategically

As it turns out, having your head down and not taking the time to create a strategic approach to things isn’t always the best…well…STRATEGY. I’ve learned a lot about how to think more holistically and strategically over the past 4-5 years. This has created opportunities for me to truly be strategic, innovate, and lead teams, while also delivering value tactically on a daily basis.

As we all know, much of marketing and creating great products is really understanding an industry, verticals within it, the overall market, and/or a customer and their needs. The creation of the new types of media, such as social media sites like Twitter, has truly shined light on how important a customer is. You can find many posts around the web talking about engaging customers, honesty, and being transparent (funny thing is, thats all some social media people talk about, but I digress). The point is, the days of shouting at people via television ads isn’t really “moving the needle” the way it use to, and, as consumers really look to at different forms of consuming media, we have to understand the people we are looking to reach even more.

Being strategic provides opportunities to see what you might have missed.

We are all in “go mode” and trying to make things happen daily, trying to “provide value.” There are so many days that I sit there and engage in social media, work on editorial calendars, and put together plans, etc. for the companies I am working for that I don’t have the time to think strategically. This becomes a problem because a lot of things that are glaring situations or opportunities tend to pass you by.

But, the question is, when you are spinning your wheels just trying to get stuff done, are you really providing value to your organization? Your Client? and even more so, the consumer?

In my opinion, you are not. That is why being more strategic provides opportunities and more value in the long run. Being strategic means stopping what you are doing, analyzing a consumer, and finding out what they are actually looking for. Analyzing a journalist and finding out what they would write about, what they would link to, who they would reach out to. Even better, looking at data to understand patterns, user behavior, etc. that will truthfully provide value to a consumer. Which means you, as a strategic thinker is providing more value by obtaining more customers or actively engaging, re-engaging, and retaining more customers.

Set aside time to think strategically

Taking the time out daily or weekly, gives you an opportunity to think more holistically as a marketer. Take time to think about what people want. Marketing is not about pushing a message or advertising your product. Marketing is truly understand what is important in any given marketplace. Marketing is the process of creating value in an industry that will ultimately lead to obtaining customers and retaining customers.

An example of this can be a product you offer or a template that you develop for your website. Some time ago, I was putting together specifications for pages that should be built on a site. I threw them together from an SEO perspective. Title Tags, alt tags, URLs, etc…you name the technical requirement, and I had it spec’d out. The problem I didn’t think through was, am I really creating value? Am I really understanding what people want out of those pages? Would customers be happy? Would the Media? Would Social Media Users? Overall, that was the problem I was not thinking through and that is an order of magnitude greater than any title tag or url in the long run.

I hit this realization that I should not just try to get stuff done and should actually take some time to think through a problem. Now that I have, I have made sure that I dedicate time to actually blocking out periods of time to think more strategically on a weekly basis. During that time, I switch my surroundings and either go to a coffee shop, lock myself in a conference room at the office, or something of that sort.

Consultants can help with Strategy

There are three ways that bringing in consultants can help with the problem of thinking strategically as an organization:

Consultants can provide a fresh set of eyes that are not tightly integrated with your business, along with being able to be objective about features, content, etc. because they are not vested in the design, for example Discover More Here. Hiring a strategic consultant also means they will not be inundated with trying to deliver on daily traffic goals, daily product meetings, etc. They will be able to work externally, analyze a business, an industry, and the consumer and make recommendations that you can implement.

Hire consultants that are tacticians to help alleviate your daily support needs. Whether you are managing communities, doing something tied to SEO, managing PPC campaigns, etc. All that matters is that you are bringing someone in to alleviate the fact that you need free time to think more strategically. Many times, a business has learned so much about their industry that they have all the research necessary to think strategically and just needs to time and ability to step away from day to day processes to actually do just that, think strategically.

Being a consultant now at days is no longer about specialization and more about strategy. Todd Malicoat just recently wrote about being a Business Management Consultant and I think its so important to think that way now. Just being a PPC consultant, SEO or Social Media Marketer isn’t going to cut it going forward. It is the exact reason that I am happy that I have prided myself in becoming a generalist in technology and the Internet. Understanding all facets of project management, product development, ideation, marketing, etc. is so important. But, be careful, because, just like the ever so popular “Social Media Experts” that can talk about being one, but, don’t really understand it. The same goes here, being a business consultant and advising businesses isn’t just knowing a few things, it’s being a generalist that understands all aspects deeply enough to truly provide holistic feedback to an organization about their market, their product, etc.

Overall Web Strategy is crucial

Overall, it is important to start thinking more strategically as businesses start to evolve online. Being strategic, being a leader, and understanding a market is more important now than it ever was. Being a true marketer involves understanding an industry and providing value. We should all be striving to provide more value to organizations going forward.

Have you spend enough time on web strategy? Are you hoping to spend more time on it? I want to hear what people are thinking about thinking strategically overall!

Social Media Marketing for your Business at SXSWi

About two months ago, I reached out to Chris Winfield, Brent Csutoras, and Todd Malicoat about putting together a Social Media Marketing for your Business Panel at SXSW Interactive. We all thought it would be a great idea and I put it together.

All of us particpates in some sort of Social Media Marketing, Optimization, and Promotion on a daily basis with clients and/or the companies we work for. We wanted to share the knowledge that we have all gained on how to successfully drive traffic to sites, how to measure that traffic, and how Social Media Marketing for your Business really works.

We understand SXSW Interactive is a WAYS away at this point, but, the Panel Picker voting has been in full throttle and people have been talking about it like crazy on twitter. It’s no surprise that everyone is trying to pimp their panels and get people to vote.

Which is the reason for this post! A major part of the SXSW Panel Picker process is votes and feedback from the community on the panel ideas submitted. We have pitched a panel idea on “Social Media Marketing for YOUR Business” and WE NEED YOUR VOTE!

Click on the SXSW 2010 Panel Picker thumbs up image here, click the thumbs up and leave us a comment with what you want to see, why you are excited about the Panel, and/or any feedback you have!

We are all excited about the opportunity and looking forward to rocking it for you guys in Austin!

Business Ethics & Mistakes you should avoid!

Business Mistakes

As an individual that works very hard at maintaining relationships and attempts to help anyone at anytime he possibly can, I see some pretty interesting mistakes that people make, DAILY! Sometimes, I have to admit, I’ve made the mistake of burning a bridge or two at past companies, just by the simple fact of not understanding how important it was not to hurt a relationship. But, I now know that there are some things that you should NEVER do…and I mean NEVER.

The Obvious One: There is never a reason to “out a website”:

There was a lot of chatter about this back at the end of April about how no one should ever out a website. I think this point has been beaten down your throats quite often. I commented on this a while back in that there really is no reason from a business or financial perspective to actually do this.

Todd Malicoat wrote an excellent post about what is your SEO Code? So, what is your SEO Code? Or, even better, what is your business code of ethics? Think about the following before outing another website:

•    What could you gain by outing another website or company?
•    How are you benefiting your businesses or growing as an individual by doing so?
•    Who are you HURTING financially in doing so? Think about it, the site you’re about to out and that could quite possibly be banned, could very well be a friend of yours. Do you want to be the reason that your friend or possibly even their kids don’t have food on the table?
•    Would you want someone to out your website publicly and possibly cost you a loss of income or some sort of financial burden.

Think through this before actually outing a company or reporting another site. When in doubt, also, you might want to ask a friend privately, they might be able to provide some insight or talk it through with you. Again, at the end of the day, you don’t want to out a site that could cost someone his or her livelihood.

Battling for Profits: Never publicly talk about companies paying too much for a service:

We are all in business in some way or another at the end of the day and we are all out to make smart business decisions. I’ll admit that I’ve scored some pretty sweet contracts back in the day where I’d made a decent amount of money and didn’t really do much. Other industry professionals can vouch for this as well. In fact, recently at Revenue Bootcamp, Neil Patel and I have talked about this before and es“If I charge you 20k to increase your traffic and I do it, and its worth it to you, it shouldn’t matter how long I spend, if I did it in 1 hour, then better for me!”

What you might call “overcharging,” I call a “smart business move.”

If you find out that someone is charging a client a lot of money for a service, you should never use a medium like Twitter to talk about how much people should or shouldn’t charge for a service. If you are competing that market, go out there and try to win the business.

Stop Talking

There are too many factors that go into the rates of a consulting agreement that might not be obvious right up front. Things like the overhead of an agency, resources, services provided, etc. And, at the end of the day someone might have made a smart business deal and/or they have a client that is now going to question his or her consultant and create headache for no reason at all.

Don’t get all high and mighty and publicly talk about rates and charges over the Social Web, again, you never know if you have a friend or even business partner that you just cost a lot of money.

Secrets are Secrets: Secrets are meant to be private, keep them that way:

A lot of the sharing of secrets that have been heard at conferences and/or things shared in private aren’t being made as public anymore. But, that said, with the Social Web being ever so increasing, talking about things you hear at conferences becomes compelling.

Don’t do it!

Lots of us have websites, profiles on the Social Web, and/or businesses that we run that are meant to stay private. Revealing any of this through any social medium could cost someone a loss of income or, for some of us, our entire livelihood.

Also, if you’ve heard someone say something in passing or you could take out of context or you are attending a conference session where an individual asks you not to share or tweet about the information he or she is currently talking about, don’t share it. Remember the post by Brent Csutoras, “we know it’s social, but stfu already“…that will always be true.

Remember, if its questionable, it probably shouldn’t be done, and, at the very least, ask someone what they think before doing it, they will probably agree that you shouldn’t share it.

Burning a Bridge Can Will cost you in the long run!

broken relationship

People make this mistake too many times and I’ve even made it a few times years back. Whether its a co-worker that leaves on an angry note, someone you just dated that ended badly, or someone that is in your industry that you just happen to feel you just don’t “need” anymore.

The point: Everyone and anyone is valuable at some point. That bridge you just burned could be your future boss, future consultant, future investor, and/or someone that could bring your consultancy/agency new business. Remember, that you shouldn’t treat people as contacts, create relationships instead.

Granted, yes, there are going to be people that you just don’t get along with in business and personalities that don’t work together. But, rather than burning the bridge, separate yourself from the situation and at the end of the day, don’t be rude and or don’t personally insult people. That is where you REALLY start burning bridges and losing relationships and even contacts.

Building Traction with Search and Social Media Visibility

 

Over the last few months I’ve seen an interesting cross section of startups to large brands and marketers to developers that are all running businesses. There has been one thing that ties all of these people together, and that is gaining traction and visibility to your website or business online.

If you are a large brand, you already have that visibility, but it is hard to continue to be nimble and build quickly, therefore, you are typically left behind. While startups run into a different kind of problem, they are able to create cool cutting edge products, but, does anyone see these products? Many times, they are not visible and have no traction. I’ve talked to a number of developers, product guys, and “startup dudes” that all run into that problem. The reason being:

People don’t realize that just building a great product is not going to bring you buzz, traffic, or growth, it doesn’t work without visibility.

So, what do you do to solve this problem? There are a few things that you can do if you are a startup or your just a humble guy trying to make a living off a website that you own.

Search Visibility

SEO seemed like such a 4 letter word a few years ago. And, lately I’ve had interesting conversations around getting traffic in general, where I’ve been the SEO Evangelist, talking about how targeted and the high ROI of Search Traffic. It’s been exciting talking people and businesses that understand or are beginning to understand the importance for Search Visibility.

Creating Search Visibility is created by building Search Friendly websites that are authoritative to a given Search Engine.

How do I know what people are looking for?

A lot of people jump into SEO and try to build sites and throw popular phrases into h1’s, titles, etc. It’s important to understand the industry you are in and do the research that is required to know what it is people are searching for, this is called keyword research. For example, the knowing that people search for “cars” rather than “automobile.” (yes, I know that’s a crude example, but, you get the point!). SEOBook has a Free Keyword Research Tool to do this for you.

What is a Search Friendly Website?

A search friendly website is a website that is built so that a Search Engine will index and crawl their content, while adding importance, relevance, and authority to that sites content. Many times organizations will make mistakes by building a flash site or an Ajax site that is entirely unable to be indexed or crawled by a “search engine spider.” There are tips and tricks on on how to build Ajax SEO Friendly websites out there.

Creating authority is the key to visibility!

At the end of the day, no matter how much you’ve researched the keywords and how great you’ve built out your site so it is search friendly, you need external links. Without links to your site from external resources, you will not rank nor get search traffic, bottom line. Getting links isn’t an easy job either, it is the crux of the SEO problem. (i.e. It’s why we get paid the big bucks!)

Building links is an interesting mix of many different cross-functional skills. Whether it is the sales pitch to websites asking for links, the biz dev angle of partnering with other sites or buying links (while, I would NEVER condone that, wink wink!), or the art of building buzz around your content, product, or service through the Social Web.

Social Media Visibility

Ah, Social Media, the buzzword amongst all buzzwords across the web now at days, it’s amazing how much it is talked about. Amazingly enough, Social Media has become a part of the general web presence and we are moving away from it being a piece of the business, so to speak, but rather, the a fully conversational and connected Social Web.

Okay okay, I’ll get to the point: Getting visibility via the Social Web is done by being conversational, engaging, and invoking emotions.

Social Media news sites like Digg

Creating content that creates a conversation around a particular topic, whether it is hilarious, sad, resourceful, etc. Creating content like this is all about invoking the emotions. You want to create content that a user is going to want to Digg. You want to have a page that is going to make someone stop while “stumbling” through your site. But, it doesn’t stop there is still another really important factor of gaining visibility:

If influencers within the Social Media space do not know about your content, then guess what, it is not going to be made visible. People and the masses follow the influencers (and I’m not just talking about twitter) by watching them and seeing what they are talking about, they create the “water cooler conversations.” It is similar to Search in that you need to build a site that the search engines can not only see, but is authoritative.

Create conversations and engagement about your brand

Remember those conversations that I talked about, well, pay attention, because the conversations are happening all across the Social Web. But, you can do things to create those conversations and create engagement that is tied to your brand or your site.

Be insightful, engaging, and provocative when creating a conversation

Don’t be a feed, creating a twitter account and throwing your RSS feed is not participating in the Social Web, it’s a feed and nothing else. You want to create a conversation, think of ways that you can create conversations about your brand. If you are a sports site, talk about upcoming events, like the NBA Draft. If you are a political opinions site, then you might want to ask questions on the Social Web about legislation and elections.

When you create conversations and people are engaging with you and your brand, then you are essentially creating visibility.

The Visibility of Trends

Since moving more into the Publishing and Media side of the business from E-Commerce and Product Centric websites, I’ve learned a ton around insights around trends. Understanding trends gives you insight into the topics that are “buzzing” around a certain category or vertical. You can use a tool like Google Insights to give you that knowledge.

So, you’re sitting there going, “great, who cares what is buzzing!?”…fine
, you probably aren’t. That said, this is extremely important to understand, because, creating content around these trends can create the Search and Social Media Visibility needed to grow your business.

Don’t be good, be GREAT!

Remember, your product or content will not survive on it’s sheer awesomeness (even though I’m sure it is!). Make sure that you are considering the visibility of your product and content: ONLY THEN, can your Product and Content be truly considered GREAT!

Twitter taking the Social out of Social Discovery

The most trending topic on twitter right now as I am writing this post is #fixreplies. It is shocking to me that after weeks of proclaiming that twitter is all about social discovery, we see the biggest Bonehead Decision that twitter could have made. There are posts from around the industry talking about Twitter putting a Muzzle on your friends.

Originally, by default, twitter would not show you the @replies sent to other users until you went in and made the change under Settings -> Notices. Apparently, this caused confusion to many people, despite the help article explaining replies settings to users.

Where we use to see this:

We now see this!

<img class="alignnone" title="new replies" src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2186/3527229565_f240b8efd5 webpage.jpg” alt=”” width=”500″ height=”187″ />

What I am wondering is how they came to this decision?! Isn’t the point of Social Discovery to discover people that share the same friends or interests that you do. Turning this feature off only negates that experience.

Personally, I would like to know how many users have made the change in their settings to receive all @ replies. Not to mention, but, I thought that’s what Direct Messages were for, to keep the conversation personal. Twitter and Social Media is about conversations and by putting this “muzzle” on as @marshallk mentioned, we are losing out on that conversation and furthermore, we are witnessing Twitter taking the Social out of Social Discovery.

Update: Since posting their note about the “small settings update,” Twitter has posted this in response to all the feedback that they apparently didn’t realize how important the social discovery aspects were to the community.

Update #2: Since this mornings chaos and feedback note Biz mentions that they have learned a lot and are working on changes to the replies functionality.

Online Reputation Management DOES matter

So, I wake up this morning and see a post written by Darren Slatten completely dismissing the importance of Online Reputation Management. And, I found the post a little comedic at best, so, I’ll give him a little bit of credit for that, but, one thing I won’t give him credit for is researching the topic. Now, I am not going to attack Darren personally or professionally, because I haven’t worked with him, nor do I know his abilities, and, it’s just not my place to do so. This is just a post telling you why Online Reputation Management is EXTREMELY important.

Why Online Reputation Management is important

For companies and individuals alike, there is a major need for reputation management. It’s the reason that conferences have panels specifically on the topic. That reason is that individuals and businesses alike can be affected by negative reputation. This isn’t just an issue of popularity either, it’s an issue of brand perception, an individuals brand perception, or even the ability to be hired/fired from a job.

Having Online Reputation Management concerns can cause revenue losses and/or income.

I really want to state that if you have not dealt with this or have no experience in understanding the Reputation Management space, then please, do not write about why it is not important.

Who are these people?!

Rather than continuing to tell you why ORM is so important, I’ll answer the question you might ask: “who are the people or companies that care about online reputation management?” Lets run through a few of these right here to provide a better understanding of why ORM is important:

CEOs

An organization with a CEO that has negative perceptions in the press or social atmosphere can lead to the organization or the brand of that organization having negative sentiments or perceptions. I’m not just talking about the SERPs here, but, in terms of Social Mentions in blogs, microblogs, and/or news results that surround that individual. Did you know 87% of people believe a CEO’s reputation reflects on the overall company’s reputation?

Political Figures

Think about the number of times have you seen a political figure that gets tons of bad press and has led to the downfall of his/her campaign or election/re-election to office. Social Media is now playing a part in the political climate and because of that we saw now President Obama reach millions of people.

But, to take this to the next level, lets look at an example that deals with President Obama. How many of you can say you know that he is a smoker? (Now, I am not judging him on this, but using it as a point of reference). This was downplayed a ton during the elections again because of the fact that his team did not want to create a negative perception of the candidate during the elections. This becoming an issue could have, hypothetically, led to the loss of many votes, especially from anti-cigarette and anti-smoking groups.

Companies and Brands

Companies and the brands of those companies alike experience the most pain when it comes to reputation management. Something that is a hard fact: Companies and Brands with negative search results tied to brand related queries will see a drop in revenue because a user/customer is likely to switch products/services based on that negative result. Even more interesting is that queries relative to corporate figures will also lead to a dip in revenue/sales. It’s estimated that 58% of searchers will visit a competing website after seeing negative search results.

An example of this is tied to PayPal and my experience working there. PayPal saw 4 of it’s top 10 search results tied to the brand query “paypal” go to flame sites. Working internally, there was an estimated figure in net revenue losses per negative search result. That is where that 58% number above comes in…because of this negative reputation caused by search results, users were switching.

Celebrities

Celebrities make the news all the time for the stupid things that they do. Whether it is someone driving drunk or who’s sleeping with who, it is all things that affect their personal brand. And, in this case, their personal brand is like that of a business, their personal brand is the most important thing to their livelihood.

Because I am all about examples, lets continue down that path and look at the sports figure that we all know I can’t stand: Kobe Bryant. He was accused of raping a girl in a hotel room back in 2003/2004. Luckily for Bryant this was during a time when Social Media was not as prominent, but, unluckily for Bryant it still effected him financially. He lost endorsement deals from companies like Nike because of the negative press and negative reputation.

The Job Market

The economic climate is horrible at the moment. Unemployment is at astonishing highs and it’s tough to find a job right now. Now, to add to that, recruiters and HR teams are getting savvier and understanding Search and Social Media extremely well. What does that mean for you? It means that Online Reputation Management is important to your personal brand. Because, not only are they looking, but 78% of recruiters research a candidate online and 35% actually reject a candidate based on this. Andy Beal even wrote a post on why your Google Reputation can hurt your career.

Creating a personal brand is even more important as researchers and experts in the job market reference this all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’m watching CNN, (and let me tell you, I caught a lot of it while I only had a few channels the last couple months!), and these experts mention Facebook, Google, search, and your personal brand being EXTREMELY important, not just now during economic uncertainty, but, forever.

Don’t be silly, Online Reputation Management does matter:

Again, this is another situation where we have someone that is creating a post that is possibly baiting for reactions or what not. Or, we have another person in the industry that is writing something without actually researching the topic. But, please please please people, if you have no experience or expertise on a topic, then stay away from writing it, it just makes you look like you haven’t done your research. And, if you look at the stats above, then it’s pretty obvious that ORM does matter.

Checking StumbleUpon Referrals and Reviews to specific URLs

I was listening in on Office Hours on WebmasterRadio.fm today and the question came up of how to find the referrer URL from StumbleUpon to your site. When you look at Google Analytics the referrer shows up as refer.php or toolbar. This won’t take you to the page that refers to your URL, similar to how digg would do something like /movies/some-movie-specific-url. It is a little bit of a process to figuring this out and also keeping in mind that a large percentage of StumbleUpon users view new pages via the Stumble button. This will show you how to track the referrals from the StumbleUpon page linked to your URL.

Google Analytics shows you the base analytics data, but again, refer.php and toolbar

As mentioned, you can’t click through from the refer.php to view the actual reviewed page. That just takes you to a generic page that tells you your site is on StumbleUpon. Not much help is it?

If you want to check the page that links to you from StumbleUpon you are going to need to make sure that you have the StumbleUpon toolbar. If you don’t, download it and install it. Once you’ve done that, you’ll notice there is a little “comment” bubble, which takes you to a page to review a URL.

The Review Button is highlighted in red in the top of the image:

That will take you to the page with the StumbleUpon reviews to the URL that you want to track. Once you get there, you will notice your URL stringle after in the address bar:

StumbleUpon URL String:

You’ll also notice the title of the page, who submitted the page, stumbles, and reviews for the page you are tracking.

StumbleUpon Page with Reviews:

Again, thats where you are going to find anything that is tied to the page/URL you are attempting to track, but, you have to keep in mind that there are still users that view your site with the Stumble Button in the toolbar. That is basically how StumbleUpon works, you click the button, a new site comes up, and so on.

Stumble Toolbar button highlighted in red:

Remember: If you are trying to view the reviews/stumbles and page your URL is linked to from StumbleUpon, then click the review button, but, its important to note the toolbar clicks. Typically the way pages are browsed to via StumbleUpon is through the toolbar.

I hope this answers the question for the person that asked the question on Office Hours with Vanessa Fox. If not definitely leave a comment and we’ll figure it out from there! Also, If anyone has more detail or would like to add on to this, please leave a comment and I can even update the post, etc.

Some Notes from Twitter:
Matt Inman recommended Mint Website Analytics which tracks Viral / Linkbait
– Joost De Valk also has some Mint Peppers (Mint Plugins)

Measuring success in SEO and Social Media by determining ROI, Analytics, Metrics up front

When you are working at an organization that doesn’t have the right analytics, its painful. This also goes for working with clients that don’t have the money to buy an analytics package like Omniture or WebTrends. I’ve been through this on both sides of the organizational and the client side as well. (A couple times it was even my fault! Ooops, my bad! ? ). It is important to understand that not providing metrics and/or reporting or being able to measure certain aspects of your job and/or client work is going to have a negative effect on your overall performance.

Before starting any project you’re going to be working, whether it’s on the In-House or Client side of things, you need to know goals. The most important thing that you can do for yourself and for your “client” is going to be figuring out the goals of any project you are working on. Is it ranking for a certain number of keywords? working on Brand or Reputation Management type things, or increasing traffic by a certain percentage?

Once you have determined those goals, start by figuring out what types of analytics and metrics you will need to measure to be successful in your campaigns. Here is a list of the items necessary.

Analytics:
There is absolutely no excuse now at days for not having any sort of analytics packages to use. There are free solutions like Google Analytics that has everything all the way through Advanced Segmentation, etc. to Omniture with tons of click funnel reporting and more.

Important Metrics:
Now that you have analytics setup, you need to define the common metrics that you will be reporting on. If you’re goal is to drive traffic to a specific part of the site, then you should have a saved query or report that you can click on and get to quickly to perform that task.

Also, define other important metrics or metrics that you find valuable to the current role/climit
– Time spent on site (per LP)
– Click thru Rate
– Bounce Rate
– Keyword by Landing PAge
– etc.

Dashboards:
If possible, you should setup dashboards that give you an overview of the quick and dirty statistics that you need for the week/month/year. If these are also a click away or triggered by email, then you are golden. This is really not a “crucial” element, but a nice to have.

Subscriptions:
RSS and Email subscription can be important numbers that you are looking at, especially if one of your many goals is to increase engagement. Feedburner does a good job of tracking RSS subscriptions and you can use other web services or email providers to track email subscription.

Social, Brand, and Reputation Monitoring:
If you are doing any Social Media or Brand Marketing and/or Reputation Management type work, you are going to want to setup the right type of alerts to monitor the brand and or key terms around your brand. Three tools that I use consistently are Google Alerts, TweetBeep, and Trackur.

Trending Metrics:
When doing any news related work you are going to want to monitor and measure the trends in the industry. You can do this by monitoring and reporting on Google Insights data for high trafficked terms around a particular event, date, etc. Also, if you are doing something that is going to “create buzz” or a “trending topic” then you are going to want to monitor that carefuly and report on this by showing the ability to create something that went “hot.”

Reporting:
You and your client or group have definied success metrics as I mentioned above at this point. Also, you should have great metrics and dashboards that measure that data. Now that you have all of that, use it to your advantage by creating reports using charts and graphs that show off the progress and/or lack of progress.

Create a reporting template and provide analysis:
You should start by creating a template for tracking this data and provide some sort of analysis. Sometimes having the data/charts in Excel and only rolling the charts into a powerpoint are a great way to provide analysis and value to just a chart, graph, or list of numbers in a table.

I’ve learned had tons of experience of looking like an idiot or losing income by not having the appropriate metrics and reporting in place for clients and internally at a company. But, I can tell you that there are also organizations out there that flat out don’t have this in place or won’t be able to put this into place, and, well, you’ll just have to deal with it. But, when that situation arises, make sure that you are upfront and straight forward about that and the situation it will cause. If you have done that, it will usually ready the client for the type of things that you will use to measure success.

Startup Mistakes: Just launched my site, now I need SEO

I have been in SEO and Internet Marketing for some time now and I can’t tell you how many sites I have worked with or seen that have come to me after launch and said “I need SEO now!” Heck, I was even victim to that when I was tasked with my first major web project. I worked on getting a site built, did all the research, but didn’t think about SEO or Internet Marketing until after the fact, and it really was much more painful that way.

The pain of launching a site and then worrying about Internet Marketing efforts is because of the affect on time, money, resources. Also, you take away from great opportunities that are out there for startups in the form of buzz. Building marketing strategies into your product is ever more critical in today’s internet marketplace. (I’ll stick to SEO on this post to keep a unified theme, but minor semantic tweeks would really speak to entire Internet Marketing strategies.) That said, understanding the mistakes that people like myself have made in regards to SEO will help you to learn and build strategies for obtaining search traffic when launching a new site.

Time is money: You’ve just built your site, you’ve launched, and now you want to start thinking about SEO. The problem is, all that up front work like site architecture is going to have to be re-done, which puts you behind and could effect your bottom line. Time truly is money and in this case, it is a direct correlation.

Engineering efforts and resources: Just as we mentioned in the last example, there are occasions where sites launch and the entire site now need to be re-architected to accomodate SEO. This basically means that you are stopping all your new product development and possibly monetization efforts in order to build in elemetns that should have been done from the get go.

The pre-launch and launch buzz!: YOU JUST LAUNCHED your site and generated buzz (crosses fingers, hopefully!) to your startup through mentions in sites like Mashable, Techcrunch, etc. Also, news in the form of publicity and press releases are also an opportunity at gaining momentum on your SEO efforts. If you had your hands on keyword research, created a theme around your site, and had a strategy for external links from all these “news” outlets, you could have turned leveraged some “Buzz Marketing” and turned it into SEO (more specifically Link) Juice.

When launching a site it is so easy to get caught up and not think through all the opportunity available to you with SEO. Don’t let that happen to your site and think through how you can build SEO and Internet Marketing into your site launch. Save yourself time, money, and effort and use the new product buzz to your advantage by helping you acquire traffic through SEO.

4 Main Reasons you should be linking in Blogs

We create blogs with tons of great content and we base our content on Social Media that attracts a link or two. (Boy, isn’t that the understatement of the year!) We rely on this content to create user engagement and get people to keep coming back. But something that is also just as important as creating great content, is knowing when to link to internal and external resources appropriately.

User Experiences and Topic Depth

Linking to external resources in blogs and articles creates that richer and more complete user experience. Doing so provides the user reading an article more depth and coverage on a topic or news item. Further expanding that, linking to external resources that cover multiple view points, opinions, etc. further validates the credibility of your blog. That is what you are going for, especially to first time readers. Establishing a sense of credibility and in-depth resources and/or content will create an authoritative presence for your blogs/articles.

Blogging Etiquette and Links

The blogosphere and social media circles can run pretty tight, but also be wound pretty darn tight as well. So, by never linking out or linking out, but slapping “nofollow” all over the place can create quite a stir. There is a certain level of etiquette that is expected within blogs/articles. Giving the resource you have linked to credit plays an important role in the level of respect given to your content. The last thing you want to be seen as is yet another site “Hoarding Link Juice.”

Pro Blogger has a great resource for this called The Etiquette of Linking.

Linking Internally

Internal linking is probably one of the most overlooked factors in blogging, but, it is also my favorite topic of discussion lately. Linking internally is not only highly useful to the user, but extremely important to search engine relevance. Since it is important to provide additional resources in the blog post/article, as mentioned above, it is an added benefit if you can link to your own resources. This is something that can be achieved by creating pattern matching systems in larger organizations. It can even be as simple as educating bloggers, writers, and editors to take a minute to link to internal resources.

Looking at an example, lets take a sports blog and an article that could be written about the recent injury to Kyle Orton on the Chicago Bears. Within that article you could link to the “Kyle Orton” bio page and the “Chicago Bears” team page. This is all kinds of SEO Hotness (yes, I just said that!) because you are creating relevance for search engines, since linking and the anchor text are important (if not the most important ranking factor). Internal Linking plays a major role in the overall Internal Link Architecture mix. But, to expand on that, this creates a wholistic user experience to resources that the reader could reference.

Getting Exposure

Finally, and most importantly, linking to external resources will get you more exposure because the blogosphere will notice when you link out, especially to their resources. If you are in a particular niche, you will notice that a lot of link love will be passed back and forth, once you start handing it out. The important thing to remember is that you want to be “top of mind” when bloggers/writers are looking for additional resources. Linking to external resources can do just that, because again, we track who links to us, at least I do. Now, I am not saying to have a free for all and just link to people in hopes that you’ll make yourself known. But what this does mean is that it is okay to link externally, because it will be appreciated by those that you link to. You never know who might reciprocate the link love and dish it right back to you by linking back to our content as a result.

Summary: Link…Link…Link

Link to external content to provide relevance and deeper resources. Follow “Blogger Etiquette” by linking externally and not “nofollowing” your entire site. Flow the link equity to deep content and relevant internal pages. And, finally, remember that linking to external resources will get you more exposure and keep you top of mind.

Need more information on linking for your business?! See my SEO Consulting Services page to get in touch with me about these services. Or, follow me on twitter to keep the conversation going!

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