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International SEO Infographic

Hey everyone! I wanted to explore a new service called Infogr.am that creates semi-interactive infographics. I needed a topic to play around with, so I chose to create a quick introduction to the concepts and themes of international SEO. Embedded below is my first creation:

Well, I hope you enjoyed the infographic. Keep in mind this is only the most basic introduction to international SEO – more information can be found by Googling these strategies. And of course, if you have any questions, feel free to drop us a line.

Communications: simple, easy, and stress-free!

This quarter, 2013 Q2, we at PV spent many fruitful hours exploring different communication influencers like gender, generation, and behavior. Each of these lunch and learn sessions added new value and dimension to the art of interacting with internal teams and external clients.  Personally I enjoyed and participated in all these sessions, although I must admit the ‘behavior session’ was my favorite!

Basically, the entire team took the DiSC assessment, which outlines four major behavior styles:

  • Dominance: direct, results-oriented, and firm
  • Influence: outgoing, enthusiastic, and optimistic
  • Steadiness: analytical, reserved, and precise
  • Conscientiousness: even-tempered, accommodating, and patient

What is so special about DiSC, given a whole slew of similar tests employed by human resources teams?

DiSC quadrant of our team: each dot represents one team member's behavior style

Individual team member’s behavior style plotted on the DiSC quadrant.

First of all, everyone has a primary style; most people have a secondary style as well – at the most two letters. For example, I am CS style (Conscientiousness / Steadiness) compared to an INJF in Myers-Briggs.  This is not just a matter of being lazy and cutting down letters; it does reduce the number of possibilities, thereby allowing for more generalization without discounting accuracy. This allows the subjects to think more generally about their behavior, rather than nitpick about details.

Additionally, at this session, we were sent off armed with a lot more applicable information like:

  1. Our own behavior profile: detailing our primary and secondary styles,
  2. A diagram of how everyone else (1-2 letters per person) on the team fit in the DiSC quadrant,
  3. A simple cheat sheet to help us assess a new person’s natural behavior style,
  4. (Some of us got) A ‘comparison report’ when we had other styles in the group that were drastically different from ours.

Right, how’s this different from the outcome of other such sessions?

For me personally, it was immensely helpful to have #2, #3, and #4:

An 'i' style!

Enthusiastic, passionate, and loves team bonding: ‘i’ style – also our resident ‘happy hour’ co-ordinator!

  • Item # 2 helped me plan internal conversations, difficult or otherwise, knowing the other person’s natural style. Does the person enjoy a bit of small talk or should we hit the meeting topic straight off? On the flip side, being an introvert, I have a natural tendency to be quiet and invisible in large group settings. Also, with my CS style, I take my time to share my opinions: especially in  technical matter until I am confident in the subject. Since this session, I have noticed my colleagues take the time to bring me out of my shell and let me sharemy opinions.
  • Item # 3 is fantastic to have, given the number of people we get to meet and interact with in our field. The cheat sheet lets me prepare for prospect calls or client meetings. Detail-oriented person or high-level visual picture? Loves to share or would like to run through the agenda? Again, given my natural tendency to be shy, this is such a useful tool in easing myself into new situations.
  • Item # 4 works like a nice individualized cheat sheet to interact with certain styles, especially if you are working with them on a daily basis and on challenging projects. A couple of us with these polar styles met in a coffee shop togo over our reports and to work towards adapting to each other styles which proved productive and lasting.

Not to say that #1 was not useful, it was more for myself – validating my strengths and accepting myself for who I am and what I bring to my team everyday.

The 'C' profiles working quietly in their corner!

Quiet, independent and thoughtful: our team members with strong ‘C’ style working in their corner.

All in all, the DiSC session and the homework from the session proved to be hands-on and practical on a day-to-day basis. In so many ways, it has brought the team even closer together: it only gives us more opportunity to adhere to our core value ‘bring the fun’ – you’ll overhear the C types saying “Don’t make eye contact, he is an ‘i’ and won’t stop talking!”

Convinced yet? Want to invest in productive and professional team development? We chose the ‘Everything DiSC Management’ option that included individual assessments (and the aforementioned handy tools/reports) as well as a facilitator session. The session itself was about 3 hours and the assessment took about 20-30min from each individual.

Our facilitator: J Simpson and Associates, LLC [1.810.533.3410]

Here’s to fruitful ways to communicate!

Google Analytics: GDN Impressions Now Available!

Just earlier today, Google announced it will soon be reporting ad impressions from the Google Display Network, or GDN, in Google Analytics under the Multi-Channel Funnels report. This new feature is an effort by Google to give google display networkadvertisers visibility as to how their unclicked ads have an effect on users who eventually convert. Conveniently for Google, it will show advertisers and/or their clients how lucrative advertising in the GDN can be.

To enable this feature, you’ll need to have a linked AdWords and Analytics account. You’ll also need to change your code snippet, or check a box in the Tag Manager interface. If you haven’t switched over to Tag Manager, there’s no time like the present!

There is more information about settings and accessing the information in the Google Analytics interface over at the Google Analytics support site.

Happy Analyzing!

Keep It Simple – Explaining PPC to Clients

Experienced PPC’ers know how important it is for the client to understand what is happening with their account. The client may not be familiar with the Conversion Optimizer. Many digital marketing managers may not know exactly what remarketing codes are currently installed on their site. When pulling keyword reports, managing bids, and reading industry blogs about the latest Adwords features is part of your daily routine, it can be tough to remember that marketing managers may not get down to this level of detail within paid search. If you’ve ever heard a couple of friends talking about their World of Warcraft characters, you know what I’m talking about.

Tips for Communicating with Clients

  • Use the client’s goals to determine what they are interested in hearing about. The fact that they have a PPC account and have asked you to manage it, is an indicator that they understand PPC can help them improve a certain aspect of their business. They’re trusting you to do this, so never miss a chance to prove that your efforts are working. While it can be ok to surface some nitty gritty details of account optimization, you should always relate them back to how it’s going to help your client meet their goals.
  • Give your client talking points they can repeat back in their own meetings. It’s your job to make them look good in front of their boss. If they can’t explain the work you’re doing then it’s time to pull back and reassess your approach. Putting myself in this “talking point” mindset often helps when compiling monthly reports for my clients. It’s safe to assume that some of your report is going to be repurposed or literally “copy and pasted” into your client’s own presentation. Make it easy for them to do so.
  • Avoid technical jargon and buzz words whenever possible. Every marketer is guilty of this, in fact, it has become the subject of numerous BuzzFeed lists. Keep in mind, terms you are innately familiar with will more than likely be completely new to the client, especially at the beginning of your engagement. I’ve found it helpful to include a glossary of paid search terms at the beginning of the first few reports. Often the person receiving the information may not want to ask a seemingly obvious question, and having a list of terms defined can help alleviate this.
  • To piggy back off of the last point, you should recognize the generation gap that likely exists between business owners and marketing directors (clients), and those of us managing paid search accounts. PPC is still an extremely new advertising medium with many of it’s experts being men and women in their mid 20′s, or fresh out of college. Putting us in charge of six figure Adwords & Bing accounts can be an issue for many clients who have worked for years to build their businesses to where they are today. You’re going to have to work to build their trust and confidence in your ability to meet their goals. This will take time. Going into the first meeting with a ton of complicated stats about lost impression shares and view-through conversion rates is probably not the best approach.
  • Pay attention to the verbal and non-verbal cues your client is giving throughout your conversation about their account. Are they staring blankly back at you as you explain why their cost per lead has risen month over month? Take a step back and remind them how the cost per lead is figured and why it is an important indicator of how the account is doing. Are they stopping you every three sentences to ask a question, or did they just let you talk for twenty minutes without asking any questions? Either scenario probably means they aren’t taking in everything you’re saying, and need clarification. It’s especially important to be mindful of these cues over a conference call where you can’t see how the client is reacting to the material. Be sure to speak slower than normal and pause frequently for questions.

Being mindful of these points can go a long way to strengthen the client-agency relationship. They are the ones paying you after all, and will always be interested in how the money is being spent. Remember to keep it simple, and save the jokes about the Bing Ads Editor for the office.

Facebook and Foursquare get into Local Search

Facebook and Foursquare are trying hard to enter the local search game. The two companies have been updating their mobile apps with features to help people discover new businesses to visit. Yelp and Google Maps may have a head start on the “nearby” and “recommendations” front, but the two social apps are gaining ground. Businesses looking to drive foot traffic should add Facebook and Foursquare to their local search efforts.

Facebook adds “Nearby” Feature to mobile app

Facebook Nearby

Note the “Places Nearby” search field and the stars for recommendations

Facebook began putting more emphasis on local search with the addition of the “Nearby” tab in within their mobile app. Clicking on this tab will display a map and business pages of nearby spots to check out. Facebook chooses what businesses to display based on your friends’ checkins, likes, and recommendations.

It is important to note that at this time Facebook does not provide support for all businesses that have multiple locations. Say your locally owned coffee shop has a location on the North, West, and East side of town. If you only have one Facebook business page for all locations, which is a best practice, Facebook will only display one location. This address is pulled from your company’s business page.

Facebook began testing a “parent-child” model back in July of 2011. This allows businesses to upload a list of all locations but still use one Facebook business page. It is currently available to a select number of large brands but expect this feature to be rolled out to all businesses as local search becomes a priority for the social network.

Foursquare’s “Super-specific” Search

Foursquare Search

Foursquare started way back when as “Dodgeball.” After being purchased by Google, ignored by Google, and leaving Google, the new app finally started collecting user data in 2009 by creating a location based checkin game. So what do you do after collecting data from over 3 billion checkins? You build a powerful recommendation search engine.

Foursquare beat Siri and Graph Search at their own game, providing search results for queries like a cheap sushi place that’s nearby and open now, but that I haven’t been to yet.” Foursquare was able to do this by changing how users converted through their app.

Step one was to get as many checkins as possible. This was done through a competitive points system and the ability to become the “mayor” of businesses. The app constantly showed you your score compared to your friends.

Foursquare eventually made the scoreboard harder to find. It instead asked users to write tips for places they frequented. “You’ve been here a lot! Why not leave a tip for your friends?” This common splash screen within the app helped Foursquare gather information about why people went to a business.

Foursquare now uses this data to help you find a good milkshake in town or the best place to get a bloody mary at brunch.

Yelp adds “Nearby” feature

Yelp Nearby

Facebook and Foursquare added features to try and compete with Yelp. One of the more popular apps for recommendations. Yelp responding with their new “Nearby” feature is a sign the “two f’s” are catching up.

What this means for your business

You should expect more local search features to be rolled out in 2013 within Facebook and Foursquare. Now is the time to ensure you have a presence on these two networks. Take advantage of all the currently available features such as Foursquare checkin-specials and Facebook business pages. Encourage your passionate customers to rate, recommend, and review your business. As the adoption rate for Facebook and Foursquare local search increases, your business will be ahead of the curve.

Smart Questions Drive Analytics

One of the most underutilized tools in analytics is the question.  Asking the right question can lead to new insights and a better understanding of how visitors use your site.  Asking the wrong question can lead to the wrong insights. Questions should be related to your business goals and KPIs.  Your answers should be actionable. If you can’t take action or make changes based on the data, you are probably wasting your time.

Here are some questions to ask before gathering any data:

What business question are you trying to answer with analytics data?

  • What impact have my AdWords campaigns had on site traffic and conversions?
  • How has the visitor trend changed over time for key pages?
  • Is there a significant difference in conversion rate between desktop and mobile/tablet visitors?

What data will provide me the answer to my question?

  • Your business question will be your guide to identifying the data needed for your analysis.

What tools are needed to gather the data?

  • Your data needs will determine the tool(s) needed to gather the data to answer your business question.

If I don’t have access to all data, how will I compensate for it in my reporting?

  • You will need to decide how to compensate in your reporting for missing data if you don’t have access to all the  data gathering tools.

What context can I add to the data to make it meaningful?

  • Numbers aren’t good storytellers, so it is important to add context around the data.
  • The context will provide the actionable insights.

Will my data lead to actionable insights?

  • Your data should help guide you in making optimization and marketing decisions.

Asking the right questions will help you focus on the metrics that correspond to your business objectives and provide a framework that is actionable and drives change.

Solving a technical problem with a human process update – a.k.a. doing the standup dance

Sometimes a problem does not need an elaborate technical solution, a change of software, or a purchase of new hardware. Sometimes a problem can be solved with a little grace, movement, and a willingness to iterate.

Pure Visibility has long adhered to a schedule of a daily standup meeting. Over the years, the technology we use has changed a little, as has the makeup of our team. Currently, we have two team members who usually participate remotely, one team member who participates remotely about half the time, and then we offer our entire team flexibility in where they sit when they get their work done. So pretty much everyone on the team has participated in their share of remote versions of our daily standup.

We currently use a G+ Hangout every day to meet. The remote attendees often had a difficult time hearing those farther from the mic (or phone when we used to use a conference call). We bought a new mic, we moved location, we changed the host, and still ended up with the meeting being much more beneficial to the attendees in the building (who could hear everything) than those on the other end of the wire.

While researching a different mic, armed with concerns about the interference from the speakers of the computer broadcasting the hangout at PV’s office…we realized that we didn’t have to try new hardware, that all we had to do was move our feet. So instead of kicking a soccer ball around as the standup token we now rotate in a circle around the computer with the mic. At PV, the person sharing their daily priorities is always adjacent to the mic.

A photo showing PV staff at standup, this one with Taylor at the mic

First up, Taylor.

 

A photo showing PV staff at standup, this one with Bill at the mic

Bill’s up next.

Word back from remote attendees is that it is a major improvement. Even local attendees approve!

A photo of PV's sometimes mascot Riesling

PV’s sometimes-mascot Riesling approves!

No money spent, no newfangled thing to learn–just a little two-step around in a circle–PV’s own standup square dance. Of course, now we feel a little silly that it took us this long to dance at standup time.

Top 5 Most Common Corporate SEO Issues

In the following paragraphs, I will try to summarize the five most common issues I encounter with corporate websites from an SEO perspective. I would estimate that 80% of the websites I am asked to evaluate (either because they are clients, competitors of clients, or potential new prospects) suffer from at least four out of five of these issues.

So why is this information useful? Well, if you work in digital marketing for a corporation, this is a grab bag of effective corporate SEO topics to bring to the table. If you work in an agency, this is a quick check-list of problem points to look for on a prospective client’s site to show them the kind of expertise you can quickly deliver.

1. URL Canonicalization

In the history of my experience working with corporate SEO, I have only encountered a few corporate sites not suffering from rampant canonicalization issues. URL canonicalization is the process of insuring that a consistent URL (the “canonical” URL) is presented to search engines for each page, to avoid the perception of having duplicate versions of the same page content on your website. The problem with having multiple URLs for a page is that link equity is not consolidated between them. And if it’s the case that search engines believe you have a ton of duplicate content on your site, they may perceive your site to be of low quality. Here are three common canonicalization issues we see:

The reason this is such a prevalent issue is because it is so subtle. Website designers are typically focused on the user experience of the website, and the URLs only play a small role in this. But in some cases canonicalization issues can drastically affect the SEO of the entire site.

2. Diluted Title Tags

There is a strong tendency for corporations to include their brand (and sometimes even their slogan) in every title tag, no matter the length. This causes dilution of any keywords included in the title tag. For instance, consider the inclusion of keywords “Widgets” and “Gizmos” in the following two title tags:

“Widgets & Gizmos”

vs.

“Widgets & Gizmos | Example Corp: Bringing you Turn-key Theoretical Instances since 1945″

Google doesn’t really know for sure which of these words represent the topic of the page (they may have some idea based on where the words lie in the title tag, but it’s far from perfect). In either case, it is certainly a best practice to minimize extraneous words in title tags.

In some instances, we’ve encountered clients whose legal departments have required them to include at least the brand name on every page. If this is the case, we still always recommend using the shortest version of the brand name allowable.

3. Rampant Micro-siting

In large corporations with a handful of business units, it’s very common for marketing folks in each BU to desire complete control over their own website. Either they feel they know the people in their vertical (or horizontal) in a way such that a tailored website would be beneficial, or they just want the agility to make large changes at a pace they don’t feel corporate marketing could keep up with. In some other cases, marketers want to create micro-sites for an event or webinar they are hosting, a blog, or a new product launch.

We’re always supportive of creating new fresh content that is helpful to your visitors. But the problem comes in when business units go wild creating new top level domains or sub-domains for everything under the sun. This is an issue because any links pointed towards that new top-level domain aren’t counted towards your main website (and only a fraction of the equity of links pointing towards a subdomain counts towards the main top-level domain). This is a missed opportuntity from an SEO perspective, especially if the topic of the microsite is something press-worthy or social share-worthy.

4. Lack of Parseable content

The vast majority of corporate websites we look at lack substantial parseable content. Because internal resources aren’t allocated towards writing original content for the website (and also because most content has to be reviewed by a variety of department, ranging from legal to PR), most corporation fail to include more than 150 words of content on important landing pages. This results in fewer opportunities for keyword or optimized link inclusion. Ideally an important landing page should have a minimum of 300-400 words of content. This can be further calibrated by examining pages that are ranking above the fold and seeing how much content is on their pages.

5. Sloppy Website Transition Redirects

At some time or another (at least every 2-3 years), a given corporation will launch a new website. This is often to reflect a merger or an acquisition, or sometimes just a new marketing executive who wants to make a splash. In any case, it seems more common than not that the webmasters responsible for the website transition will do one or more of the following:

  • fail to implement redirects from old website URLs to new website URLs
  • redirect all old URLs to the new website homepage
  • use 302 redirects (which don’t pass any link value) instead of 301 redirects.

Any given one of these is likely to have a drastic negative impact on non-branded organic rank and traffic. There’s nothing like a drop in traffic and leads to signal the failure of a new website launch. We encourage corporate webmasters to take the time to individually map out 301 redirects for as many old website URLs as possible; it can be worth delaying a website launch for another few days in order to do things right.

Well that’s my top 5 for corporate SEO. Please leave a comment or email me with questions!

Meme Psych 101

How Memes Are Spread Virally and How You Can Use That For Your Business

Remember Planking?

People would take pictures of themselves randomly imitating inanimate pieces of wood by laying face down in an unusual location? Have you ever wondered just what made that catch? What made that “a thing”?

This month, Hadoukening hit the scene. A couple Japanese schoolgirls were having fun with their camera phones, imitating the notorious Street Fighter move and HADOUKEN! – a viral meme was born.

The origin of memes

Memes have been around since humans have been communicating. Richard Dawkins, who coined the term meme (in 1976) described it as a noun that “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation“. Malcom Gladwell explains “A meme is an idea that behaves like a virus–that moves through a population, taking hold in each person it infects.”

Wikipedia defines an Internet meme similarly; “a concept that spreads from person to person via the internet… It may take the form of an imagehyperlinkvideopicturewebsite, or hashtag. It may be just a word or phrase, including intentionally misspelling

Planking, Hadoukening, Vadering etc…

An interesting observation, is that it hasn’t even been 4 weeks since Hadoukening hit the scene and already it’s been replaced by Vadering, Pottering, and Pottering’s more sophisticated brother – Quidditching.

Vadering

Vadering

Pottering

Pottering

Quidditching

Quidditching

The life and death of the Harlem Shake

If you’re web savvy enough to be here reading this, you’ve heard of the Harlem Shake. February 2013 was the month of the Harlem Shake and EVERYONE was doing – from offices and schools to military units and strippers (we’re not linking to that, look it up if you’re curious)… Interestingly enough, just as fast as people fell in love with the Harlem Shake – they got tired of it!

Meme breeding grounds

It’s easy to deduct from this, that as the internet is turning the world into a more connected place, this so called “virus” has an better breeding ground to become a “super virus” – with the ability to “infect” more people in less time.

Some great meme breeding grounds include Imgur, Reddit and Tumblr; all image based- rating based, social news websites.

How memes go viral

So what makes some memes viral and some not? If we go back to the virus comparison it’s simply survival of the fittest; Some memes carry something in their DNA, that inclines people to share them and some don’t. That thing is an emotional response.

One way to trigger an emotional response is to show people something new.

Furthermore, if we look at some of the examples above, we’ll see that despite often sharing similarities, memes are like snowflakes – never exactly the same.

Take the Harlem Shake for example – The theme might stay the same (same music, same idea…), but the execution is always different (different participants, in different outfits, dancing differently, with different backgrounds…). This makes them surprising, which triggers an emotional response, which entices us (as social creatures) to try and replicate this emotional response through other people – by sharing it with them. Sharing is emotional contagion.

Gangnam style is a great example; Many words can describe Gangam style – funny, crazy, obnoxious, weird, ridiculous… Love it or hate it – indifference is not an option. It triggers an emotional response that almost demands to be addressed. We do this by sharing.

Replication and mutation

What happens when you have a meme that’s easy to replicate while still maintaining the element of surprise? A great example is crasher squirrel – a real, everyday squirrel that literally crashed this Canadian couple’s photo:

The original Crasher Squirrel

The original Crasher Squirrel

And the rest was history; Photoshop enthusiasts have added the furry scene-stealer to family portraits, famous paintings, and even to the top of the Queen’s hat with a pile of nuts:

Crasher Squirrel photobombing Tiger Woods

Crasher Squirrel photobombing Tiger Woods

Photobombing Putin

Photobombing Putin

Photobombing on the moon

Photobombing on the moon

So Crasher Squirrel, despite being just a regular squirrel, always seems to be able to surprise us, because people keep figuring out ways to copy/paste him into the most surprising settings. Easy to replicate, but still surprising or as the Thai saying goes

Same same, but different”.

When more people replicate a meme, more interpretation is involved, and when more interpretation is involved, memes tend to mutate, spawning versions that are increasingly distant from the original version (just ask crasher squirrels predecessor: Dramatic Chipmunk)

How you can use this for your business

So although all of the above is nice to know, what can you actionably do to leverage your business via trending Internet memes? How can you use memes for internet marketing?

You can frequently visit the meme breading grounds mentioned above and be one of the early adopters of a meme, and do it yourself (as we did here at Pure Visibility with Hadoukening). Catch a “super-meme” on time and you can generate serious traffic to your/site business by the exposure.

But just remember:

  1. You snooze you lose. No one will care today if you take a picture of yourself planking.
  2. Memes are fads. They come and they go. They are not long-term strategies.
  3. People who actually care about memes might not be your customers

“You’re right, I sell insurance, what can I learn from this anyway?”

Two words: emotional response.

Forget the Internet memes above because they’re not going to help your corporate SEO. Focus your efforts on communicating your message in a way that spreads. To get your customers to proactively spread your idea, you need them to care, and the one way to do that is to focus your marketing efforts in communicating ideas that trigger an emotional response from your customers. Make sure the emotional response you are triggering is consistent with your brand’s values and not only will people spread your message, they will actually care about your idea.

 

Resources:

Quidditching: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2309429/Forget-planking-breading-Batmanning-Lion-King-ing-Quidditching-internet-craze-thats-bound-off.html
Pottering: http://i.imgur.com/K63Rw85.jpg
Vadering: http://knowyourmeme.com/photos/524128
Crasher squirrel: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/crasher-squirrel and http://mashable.com/2009/08/14/top-10-crasher-squirrels-pics/