Hey everyone! In today’s episode, I share the mic with Jimmy Daly, the Marketing Director at Animalz, a content marketing agency.
Tune in to hear why Jimmy believes the hub-and-spoke model is the most effective for driving traffic and boosting content engagement, how Animalz uses content marketing as their main source for leads and where most companies are missing the mark with content marketing.
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Hey everyone, in today’s episode, I share the mic with Chris Coyier, the founder of CSS-Tricks, CodePen and Shop Talk Show.
Listen as Chris shares the numbers (revenue, page views and listeners) for all his businesses, the most important thing he’s learned when it comes to building a community, why sponsored posts are the best revenue generators for him, and the difference between failing and giving up too soon.
Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: How Chris Coyier Grew CSS-Tricks to 7M Page Views:Month, 300K Followers and 24K Email Subscribers TRANSCRIPT
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This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition. Content marketing is by far one of the best ways to grow your brand and generate profitable leads. So why do many brands only receive modest ROIs from that content? There are two main reasons:
There’s no excuse not to track the performance of your content marketing campaigns when there are so many powerful analytics tools on the market. Google Analytics is one of the oldest and most useful analytics tools available, making it the core of any good content marketing strategy.
Google Analytics is by far the world’s leading online analytics solution, given that an estimated 30 to 50 million websites around the world depend on it. However, many marketers don’t understand its full potential. Google Analytics offers many features that let you create custom reports and get very detailed information about your visitors. In particular, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the following features in order to better optimize your campaigns:
Audience reports provide a massive amount of information on your users. Some of the data that you can uncover with Audience reports includes:
Check the active users’ data under the Audience reports dashboard. Doing so will show you how many times visitors returned to your site over different time intervals, ranging from one to 30 days.
The Audience reports section allows you to track the lifetime value of each user. You can also use this feature to figure out the value of users acquired from different marketing channels, enabling you to determine the ROI of your AdWords, media buying, email marketing, and other campaigns. Read More: 44 Ad Networks that Will Help Open Up New Channels of Growth For You
Knowing the demographics of your users is an often-overlooked aspect of many content marketing campaigns. The Audience reports section provides this detailed demographic information, including the age, gender, and interests of your visitors. Take the example of Scott Perry, Director of E-commerce at Jerome’s Furniture, who found that his Google Analytics reports suggested that women convert 30% better than men and spend nearly twice as much. Based on this data, his company invested more heavily in reaching women through display advertising. He also found that visitors browsing real estate sites converted 50% better, prompting him to increase spending on that demographic as well. Too many brands ignore the demographic data available in Google Analytics because they think they already know which visitors are most interested in their products. Don’t make this mistake. You may be surprised that the demographics of your best-converting customers are different than you expected. Of course, there is one caveat to be aware of: Google Analytics doesn’t appear to be as accurate at identifying visitor ages as gender and affinity information. Don’t ignore it entirely, but for now, take that data with a grain of salt until Google’s methods become more precise.
Identifying the language and location of your visitors is also obviously very important, especially for local businesses. You should already have a rough idea of where your visitors are coming from if you’re running campaigns on AdWords (unless, of course, you didn’t set your targeting properly). However, you might be surprised by the locations of visitors from organic search, direct media buying, and other marketing campaigns that don’t have the same targeting capabilities. This is where Google’s geo data comes in handy, as you can use it to find out which referrers are providing customers in your target region. Unfortunately, this data isn’t that helpful for optimizing your organic search campaigns as it used to be, as Google stopped sharing the data on keyword referrers for organic traffic (though it still provides this data for AdWords campaigns). This means that you won’t be able to identify keywords that are providing a lot of traffic from customers outside your target market. However, you can at least pay attention to the conversion rates of organic search visitors within your target demographic, which will help you to better optimize your landing pages. Read More: How to Do a Content Cleanup (And Grow Your Organic Traffic)
The Audience reports section provides detailed information about the people visiting your site. Acquisition reports tell you where these people came from. The data in these reports is key to optimizing your campaigns, as it will enable you to identify the referrers that are driving your conversions and thus better optimize those campaigns. Here are some tips to use these reports to drill down and optimize your campaigns at an even higher level:
Before you start analyzing your Acquisition reports, make sure your conversion goals are set up properly. If you haven’t done so, your Acquisition reports can still identify the referrers that are driving traffic to your site, but you won’t be able to tell which referrers are driving conversions. Identifying conversions is particularly important if you’re relying on paid traffic, such as AdWords. You’re investing a lot of money in your advertising campaigns, so make sure you’re getting the data you need to optimize them.
The Channels section gives a broad overview of all of the places that are driving traffic to your site. It breaks traffic down by various sources, including organic search, direct, and referral. One of the great things about the Channels section is that it provides a graph to help you visualize which places are giving you the most traffic. You can click on each of these sections to find more details on the people visiting your site.
Take a look at the individual referrers that are driving traffic. These referrers are broken up by domain, so you can identify the specific sites and advertising platforms that are providing the most visitors. There are a couple ways that you can look at the referrers to your site:
Pay close attention to both the volume of visitors from each of your referrers and the ROI that you’re receiving from them. You may find that some traffic sources such as StumbleUpon provide a huge volume of traffic, but have low conversion rates.
The keywords section is probably the most important part of your Acquisition reports, and it’s crucial if you’re relying on paid search traffic from AdWords or Bing. Many new marketers are surprised by how much their keywords affect conversions. A visitor who clicked on your ad while searching for the phrase “Houston real estate company” may be much more likely to convert than a visitor who was searching for the phrase “Houston real estate agent.” You have no way of knowing that until you launch your campaign and check the data from your Acquisition reports.
Tracking conversions from every single ad, landing page, keyword, and referrer can be tedious. Sometimes it’s better to just get a general idea of which practices are working. To do this, break down your content marketing strategies into different campaigns. Make sure your campaigns are as granular as possible so you can get detailed data on which practices are working. You may want to have several different AdWords campaigns (each of which may have a different landing page or angle), a campaign for native ads with your blog posts, and another for organic search traffic. You can easily look at the data from your various campaigns to see which are converting best, and this will save you countless hours that you would otherwise spend drilling down through all of your referrers, web pages, and keywords to look for trends.
There are a couple other valuable reports, but they aren’t quite as comprehensive, so I’ll just give a brief overview here. Behavior reports are one of the first to take a look at. They provide some detailed information on the actions that users take on your site, including:
Your Behavior reports can help you optimize your content marketing strategy by monitoring how visitors engage with your content. The Conversions reports is another section worth looking at, as it provides a detailed overview of all your conversions. You can also monitor this information from other sections in Google Analytics, as listed above, but this section saves you a lot of work, as it allows you to see detailed information in one place. Use this data to determine which strategies to scale and which to abandon. Read More: LeadPages CEO Clay Collins Talks About How To Ramp Up Your Conversion Rates (Up To 75%!)
There’s a reason that tens of millions of websites use Google Analytics – it’s hands down the best free marketing analytics tool on the web. If you don’t already have it set up, make it a priority today. Truly, you won’t be able to optimize your content marketing strategy without it. What other interesting insights have you noticed by using Google Analytics? Share your insights in the comments below: Images: Pixabay, Flickr, Flickr, Flickr
This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.
As marketers, we’re always trying to get more leads for our businesses.
But the problem is that all the traditional paid traffic channels are only getting more expensive. The average cost per click on Google Adwords is around $1-$2, with the most expensive ads costing $50 or more.
This means that the average small business spends over $100,000 on AdWords alone each year.
Facebook ads are still relatively underpriced, but they’re rising quickly: average CPC is around 40 cents worldwide, an increase of about 10 cents from 2015.
With the rising cost of paid traffic, it’s important to hit all the “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to boosting your lead generation — and conversion rate optimization is the best way to identify and fix problems that already exist.
By making your conversion flow more efficient, you’ll increase your numbers without spending any extra money, which means that you’ll see a higher ROI on your existing investment.
In this post, we’ll show you how to run conversion rate optimization (CRO) tests on your website, what tools you should be using, and show you a few CRO case studies.
The first step to getting started with CRO is auditing every step of your marketing funnel. Without gathering data, you’re just guessing on what changes you should make, which means that you’ll waste time and effort on tests that don’t get you more leads instead of learning something that will boost your ROI.
What you want to do is gather data in a both quantitative and qualitative way.
Quantitative data helps you break down the numbers at each step in your funnel and figure out where the leaks are, while qualitative data can give you some deep insight into the real pain points of your customers. This can help you refine your marketing copy across the board and boost conversions.
Learn More: Step by Step Guide: How to Build a High Quality Marketing Funnel
Here are some ways you can start measuring qualitative and quantitative data:
Google Analytics is a simple way to figure out how many people are dropping off at each step of your funnel and where the biggest leaks are. By measuring the data around your funnel, you can get better insight as to the cause of confusion for your customers at certain steps.
But first, you’ll need to set up conversion goals and funnels in Google Analytics.
Your conversion funnel in Google Analytics will show you what “flow” users go through on your site. Here’s an example of what this might look like if you’re trying to measure your order flow:
In the image above, users first add an item to their cart, move to the billing page, then to the payment page, then to the order review page, and finally to the sales confirmation page. It’s pretty easy to see that the largest drop off here between the “add to cart” stage and the billing page.
When it comes to optimizing conversions, you can see that it’s pretty straightforward: you’d focus on reducing cart abandonment. No guesswork here.
Learn More: How to Set Up Goals and Funnels in Google Analytics
One of the biggest wins you can get when it comes to CRO is optimizing your marketing copy. By making your copy more targeted to your audience’s specific pain points, you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll stay on your site longer — more so than if you just made design changes.
Surveys are a great way to understand how to optimize your marketing copy. You can use tools like Qualaroo (to survey your website visitors) or SurveyMonkey (to survey your audience from your e-mail list or another source).
For example, here are some survey questions that we asked our audience (via SurveyMonkey) to see how we could improve our marketing course, GrowthVault.
We matched each survey response to demographic categories with the following questions:
What revenue range does your business fall under?
How many employees does your business have?
These questions are designed to elicit open-ended, story-like responses. From there, we can pick the right stories and write compelling copy to get more customers.
Usability tests are great to see what barriers prevent users from placing orders or completing a specific call to action on your site.
You can get a group of “test” users who are part of the same demographic as your ideal customer and give them a set of tasks to perform on your site — such as going through the process of placing an order. You can either watch them or have them record their screen as they’re going through this process and have them “think” out loud as they’re figuring out what to do.
Chances are you’ll find that certain areas of your site are hard to navigate or have unnecessary friction.
A quick way to conduct usability tests at once is by using a site like UserTesting.
UserTesting has a wide range of testers from different demographics. To make sure that you’re getting the right people looking at your site, you can create filters and screener questions. For example, you can have people answer what industry they work in before they go through your website.
You can also set your demographic filters by criteria like age, gender, country, and even what device they should use.
Depending on how much traffic you’re getting to your site, a small increase in conversion rates could result in massive amounts of revenue.
For example, Brookdale, a senior living solutions website, was able to boost their monthly revenue by $106,000 just by replacing the home page banner video with an image when they realized that their target audience was not as likely to watch video.
Just by changing the copy of their CTA, Lifeproof was able to boost their monthly revenue by 16%.
Conversion rate optimization is one area of marketing where small changes can result in huge boosts in revenue over time. In this section, we’ll talk about how to run an A/B test.
There are variety of tools out there today that let marketers run A/B tests without needing to know how to code. Here are some examples:
Which tool you use isn’t as important as being able to run a large number of tests as fast as possible.
According to Instapage, here are some major page elements you should consider testing when running landing page tests:
One of the biggest mistakes that marketers make is trying to be clever instead of being clear in their copy. This is especially true for headlines. You only have 10-20 seconds to attract users with your headline, so while you might think that being clever will make your post sound more interesting, it actually just adds more complexity — and complexity reduces conversions.
By making their headline more clear, Movexa, a supplement company, was able to to boost their conversions by nearly 90%.
Their original headline copy looked like the following:
The headline said “Natural Joint Relief.” The hypothesis was that if they added the word “supplement” to their headline copy (so that it said “Natural Joint Relief Supplement”), it would add more clarity to what the offer is and what the company does.
Once they tested this hypothesis through a variation page, they found that it did indeed beat the control by 89.97%. This just goes to show how even a small amount of vagueness in the headline can reduce your conversions drastically. Be sure to optimize for clarity over cleverness or design.
Adding a well-placed call to action is a small tweak you can make on any site to increase conversions.
For example, Consolidated Label, a food label manufacturer, tested a new web page design with a prominent call to action. Their original web page didn’t have a clear call to action:
They tested a variation page with a more prominent call to action, which asked visitors to request a quote:
If users can’t tell what they’re supposed to do once they get to your page, then it’s likely that your call to action isn’t prominent enough.
Once Consolidated Label tested this variation, they noticed a 62% increase in conversions.
Learn More: How To Create CTAs that Actually Cause Action
Most marketers think that short copy is better. We’ve had it beat into our heads that people don’t have long attention spans, and that the only way to get anyone to take action is by keeping all your copy — landing page, e-mail copy, etc. — brief.
The truth is, shorter copy isn’t always better for conversions. In some cases, longer is better. For example, if you’re selling a high-priced product, then you’ll need to build a longer, deeper relationship with your users before they can trust you and be willing to transact with you.
Even your headline copy can benefit from lengthier rather than shorter.
Check out these two versions of a landing page:
Most people would think that Version A resulted in higher conversions because of the cleaner design and shorter copy on the hero image.
However, version B increased conversions by 38%. The reason for this is because the additional sub-heading highlights key features of the product in bold lettering, which makes the features easier to see. Reading “let urgent e-mails cut through the clutter and find you instantly” is more compelling than “let us find your urgent messages.”
At the end of the day, of course, the more clear and direct you can make your copy, the more compelling it will be, no matter the length.
The more friction that stands between users completing an action, the less likely they are to complete that action. Requiring unnecessary fields on a form is one of the quickest ways to reduce the number of conversions you get on your site.
You can also increase conversions by allowing users to check boxes instead of entering text, since this takes less effort.
For example, this B2B company boosted their number of leads by 368.5% just reducing the amount of text users had to enter and changing their button color on the form.
What works best on landing pages isn’t always obvious.
There are many competing factors that determine whether people convert or not. Simplicity matters (which you can get through short copy), but clarity matters, too (which might require longer copy).
Giving users the information they need about your business is important (i.e. through an explainer video), but it’s also important to reduce the number of options that are available on the page.
The best way, overall, to get better conversion rates is to figure out exactly what your audience wants, be as clear and compelling as possible, and then test it.
What are some interesting CRO test results that you’ve seen in the past? Let us know in the comments below!
This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.
It’s enough to strike fear into even the most experienced of marketers and bloggers. It can seem like torture by tedium. It’s often the stuff of nightmares. What is this unholy monster?
The content audit.
A well-executed content audit done on an annual basis can deliver big insights into your website’s blog and content marketing strategy that far exceeds its ho-hum reputation.
Too often, we post something and then never go back to it again. Years later, it’s outdated, stale, and completely irrelevant. Good practice demands that we return to our content periodically to ensure that everything is as fresh and beautiful as the day it was released to the world.
A content audit involves taking a look at all the content on your website and assessing its relative strengths and weaknesses in order to prioritize your future marketing activities. It’s a qualitative assessment and evaluation based on the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you select beforehand.
This process should not be confused with a content inventory, which is simply an accounting of all these different assets. In other words, it’s a quantitative collection. Although a content inventory is part of the audit process, the audit itself goes much further in depth. The Content Analysis Tool (CAT) can make content inventories a snap. When you start off on the right foot, the rest of the journey is that much easier.
When performed correctly, a good audit will help you to answer questions about the content pieces on your site:
An audit will tell you where you need to focus your future efforts in terms of both an SEO and content marketing perspective. And it can even give you insight into potential changes that will improve your lead generation, sales, and marketing processes.
If you’re struggling to understand your visitors’ behavior on your website or why your current marketing initiatives aren’t working, a content audit is easily one of the best things you can do for your business.
But before we get into the step-by-step process of conducting one, you need to answer a few questions.
There could be any number of reasons. There’s no one correct approach for conducting a content audit – the exact steps you’ll take will depend on your reasons for undergoing the process in the first place.
Typically, content audits are conducted for two primary reasons:
Of course, there’s no reason you can’t do both. While you’re digging through your SEO metrics, it’s easy to jot down your content marketing data as well. Or you might be approaching your content audit from a slightly different perspective. Whatever the case may be, being clear about your intentions ahead of time will help to streamline the process and minimize extra effort. Know why you’re doing before you start doing it.
A good content audit is a time-consuming process. If you’re currently swamped with other priorities, undertaking such a massive project may not be the best use of your time or energy. If you can’t devote the proper resources to it, it’s better to wait until you can.
But if the project must be done, keep in mind that you do have options. Instead of undertaking the entire audit process by yourself, delegate some of the data-gathering steps to another employee in your organization or to an outsourced worker hired through sites like Guru or Upwork.
You also have the option of completing only small sections of the audit at any given time, or paying for tools that help to automate parts of your research process (gone are the days of having to manually sift through everything yourself!). More on this later.
Before you begin, be clear about the reason you’re conducting a content audit in the first place. If you aren’t going to take action based on the data that your audit produces, you might as well skip the process altogether. An audit for the sake of an audit is a waste of time and resources.
Any of the following are potential content audit goals. You may have others that are not on this list, and you’ll likely have more than one in mind as you go through it.
That’s the theory. Now let’s put it in practice.
To help illustrate how to do a content audit, we’ve created John, a business owner with a heart of gold. He runs a small software company that’s developed an SaaS budgeting tool.
He’s invested in content marketing for about a year, but he isn’t sure whether all the time he’s spent blogging, creating videos, and releasing infographics has paid off. As a result, he decides to conduct a content audit to see how his individual content pieces are performing and what – if anything – he should do differently in the future.
Because John only has five employees – all of whom are busy wearing multiple hats already – he decides to take on the audit process by himself. Because he’s a busy guy, he keeps the scope of his audit small, checking only the content he’s created in the past year and tracking only a few variables that indicate success to him.
Remember, the size and scope of your audit is completely up to you. This is not an all-or-nothing scenario. Do what you can when you can do it.
We’ll revisit John a little later on.
If you’ve finished your homework (you did answer the questions above, right?), it’s time to get started. Try the following three-step process to complete your website’s first content audit (and feel free to amend it for subsequent ones):
Unsurprisingly, the first step in completing a content audit is to find all your content. You have two different options for doing so:
Enter or import all the URLs you find into an Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet, leaving plenty of columns for the data you’ll gather in Step #2. Or, if you’d rather not reinvent the wheel, you can add your links to any of the following freely-available content inventory and audit templates:
Most audits use a spreadsheet to organize the data, but it’s not the only way. If you despise Excel for some reason (no judgement), you could opt for the WordPress Content Audit plugin. This tool allows you to create a content inventory directly in the Edit screens in WordPress. Set a few conditions, and you’re good to go.
Just go with whatever you’re most comfortable with. Set yourself up for success by using the tools and methods that work for you.
Which brings us back to John, our savvy business owner from Seattle. Because his site is small and he’s pressed for time, he uses Screaming Frog to create the URL list pictured below:
To upload your CSV file into Google Sheets, go to File > Import > Upload and select the saved file from your computer. Easy-peasy.
John is well on his way with a handy list of all his URLs. Step 1? Check!
Remember those columns I mentioned earlier? Now’s the time to set them up and fill them out.
The exact data points you’ll want to gather will, again, depend on the goals of your audit, as well as the complexity you want to achieve. Although the lists below may look daunting, it isn’t necessary to collect data on every possible variable. In fact, you may be able to achieve the goals you set for yourself with only a handful of possible data points.
Potential SEO data points to gather (many of these are automatically generated by Screaming Frog):
Potential content marketing data points to gather:
Other items to track:
Once you’ve selected the data points you’ll measure as part of your content audit, label a column in your spreadsheet for each one.
Now comes the fun part — time to do the heavy lifting of data collection (and yes, “fun” is subjective)!
Let’s get back to our pal John…
Since his primary goal is to determine what’s working with his current content marketing strategy, he decides to evaluate the following metrics:
While he could track other pieces of data as part of his audit – and probably glean additional insights from doing so – analyzing only this limited number of metrics makes it possible for John to complete his content audit while juggling his other responsibilities. The way he looks at it, he can always go back and add more to his analysis if he has the time down the road.
To find the data points he’s decided upon, John uses the following resources:
Learn More: How to Set Up Goals and Funnels in Google Analytics
Once John is done gathering this data, he goes back through his list and assigns a score to each page on an “A – F” rating scale of his own creation.
Pages that receive “A” scores are his cream-of-the-crop, top-performing pages, while those that earn “F” scores are ones he’s embarrassed to find on his site. He also adds a note to his spreadsheet showing the date that his audit was created for the purpose of planning future audits.
And even though John didn’t do this, you could also head over to the Google Search Console to pull even more conveniently organized data. Click on Search Analytics, select Pages, and check Clicks, Impressions, and CTR to get a quick snapshot of how individual pages are performing.
There’s a “Download” button at the bottom of the page if you want to export the data as a CSV file and add it to your ever-expanding spreadsheet.
If your site is large, expect the data-gathering process to take a long time. It’s not uncommon for audits to take days, weeks or even months to complete, depending on the size of the website and the organizational resources that are available for the process.
But even if your content inventory is completed quickly, you’ve still got another important step to take – actually putting all your information to use.
To be sure you’re getting something substantive out of your content audit process, you need to establish a set of recommended actions you’ll take once the audit is complete. And in order to do that, you need to dive into the data you’ve collected in order to draw conclusions.
It could be as simple as adding one more column to your spreadsheet: “Action.”
Here, you make the call as to what should happen to each individual content asset, like:
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules that say, “If your content data indicates [this], do [that].” Instead, you’ve got to look at the data you’ve gathered and see if you can identify any trends that could inform your eventual recommended actions.
Take a look at John’s spreadsheet below and see if anything jumps out at you:
Here are a few observations you might have made:
After further exploration, John decides to take the following actions after the completion of his content audit:
An audit might focus on content quality, the customer experience, content performance, or any combination of these.
Use the results of your content audit to come up with 5-10 actions you’ll take after completing it, based on any patterns that emerge from your data.
Then, set deadlines for yourself in order to put these actions into play and block out whatever time you’ll need to do so on your calendar. Add a deadline right into your spreadsheet (when it comes to columns, you can never have too many!).
One important thing to note here. When you’re staring at the mountains of data your content audit may generate, it’s easy to find yourself struck down by analysis paralysis. Basically, there are so many conclusions you could draw and so many things you could do, that you wind up doing none of them. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap.
Content marketer Pawel Grabowski offers many helpful suggestions to combat analysis paralysis, such as focus on what’s most important, break decisions down into bite-sized steps, and don’t worry about being perfect!
As long as you’re tracking your metrics and regularly revisiting the content audit process, you’ll see these shifts occurring and be able to remedy them long before they become big problems plaguing your site’s performance.
If you’ve caught the auditing bug while going through the content analysis process, you can always take the skills you’ve learned to expand your audit beyond the borders of just your website.
So now you know everything there is to know about your own content. But unless you have a truly unique product or service, you’re not the only show in town. You have competition for customers.
The performance of your content will always be tied, in some ways, to the content that your competitors put out. Even if their pieces don’t directly prevent visitors from seeing yours, there is a limited number of consumers out there and they all have a finite amount of attention. If they’re using all their energy focusing on the competition’s content, they may not have enough mental focus left to pay attention to yours.
Conducting an audit of your competitor’s content is similar to assessing your own, but with a few limitations. There are a few metrics that you may not be able to pull without having direct access to your their website and accounts. Bounce rate, average time on page, and conversion rate are three in particular that are difficult to discover without accessing the site’s Google Analytics profile or marketing automation account.
But that said, there are still plenty of different things you can track. You can evaluate the number of links pointing at your competitor’s content pages using tools like Majestic Site Explorer or BuzzSumo’s Backlinks.
You can measure social shares by looking for a share counter on the post itself, or entering the post URL into a service like BuzzSumo to see a detailed breakdown with their Most Shared feature. It might not be a complete audit, but even conducting this limited level of assessment will give you plenty of actionable data on areas where your competitors are currently outperforming your site.
What works for them? Can you improve on it in some way (the Skyscraper Technique is a fabulous way to bring in oodles of traffic)? Which sites are linking to them that might potentially link to you if approached with a powerful piece of content or a fantastic guest post idea?
Another way to expand your content audit is to include your off-site content assets (if they’re relevant to your audit goals). For example, if you’re assessing the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts, you’ll want to include as much data as possible on any infographics, slide decks, or other external content pieces you’ve released to promote brand recognition and viral sharing.
Again, your ability to track the metrics listed above on these content pieces will vary based on the sites hosting them. Gather what you can, but also look for other types of data that are unique to external content sources.
As an example, looking at your Google Analytics account should show you the number of visits that each external piece sent to your site. Comparing referred visits across external content pieces can be a great way to determine the direction of your next big content release.
Check out Reporting > Acquisition > Channels for a general breakdown of traffic by organic, direct, referral, and social (and select Referrals if you want to see the specific points of origin).
And if you utilize custom URLs with UTM parameters, for example, you can instantly see what content is sending the most traffic your way from offsite.
In addition to assessing your offsite content pieces, you can apply the audit process to your other marketing channels. If you run print ads in trade publications, try to determine how many inquiries you’ve received from each ad (hint – this is easiest to do if you record the source of your first touch with a new prospect in your CRM after your first conversation).
Or take a close look at your e-mail marketing campaigns. Is the content in your autoresponders still up-to-date? Do you have some messages that have a higher open rate than others? Services like MailChimp and AWeber have robust analytics at the ready.
Read More: 5 Ways Cold Emailing Can Help Generate Backlinks
When it comes down to it, a content audit isn’t just a one-off process that you conduct once in a blue moon. It’s a mindset that you should apply to both your website content and the other marketing channels you use.
By carefully inventorying your existing content pieces and assessing the data you’ve gathered for each item, you can make informed marketing decisions that will help you to save time, cut costs, grow your brand, and improve your overall advertising ROI.
And remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution here. Content audits can take many shapes, routes, approaches, and scopes. It all depends on your needs and your goals.
What content audit tools do you use to make it go a bit smoother? What insights did your last audit reveal?
This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition. Consider this: every 30 seconds, online businesses make just over $1.2 million: It’s a small reminder that there’s a massive amount of money to be made on the Internet. If you’re already receiving even a small piece of that 30-second money, congratulations. But once you start making money, something’s going to happen: you’ll start thinking about where your money is coming from and how you can get more of it. Then you begin calculating your ROI and you realize something: you don’t know exactly where your money is coming from. The truth of the matter is that ROI is a lot more complicated than most people make it out to be. That’s not to say that the average person can’t understand the basics of Google Analytics, but measuring marketing ROI is a lot more complicated. It’s determined by all the unique channels that drive traffic to what you’re selling. So how do you track your website’s revenue accurately? By asking better questions. Yes, you’re accruing money from your website, but why? (And if you’re not curious enough to ask “why?” then you’re not thinking like an entrepreneur.) Which part of your website is drawing the most attention? What part are people skipping over? Can you place a dollar amount on any random visitor who happens to come across your site? Once you start to ask these questions, your business will grow and you can start looking at your online presence through a more objective lens, which will allow you to:
In this post, we’ll go over the different methods for tracking your website’s revenue with Google Analytics.
If you’re selling a product (whether physical or digital), you’ll want to track it and the best way to do that is through the use of custom code embedded in your shopping cart. This type of tracking will allow you to determine a few things:
In essence, you’ll discover which parts of your website are most effective for your sales funnel – and which ones aren’t doing you much good. You might find, for instance, that one of your landing pages is leading to a 20% conversion rate while another is underperforming at 5%, in which case you might want to reconsider how you built that landing page. Knowing the proper steps to building – and testing – a dynamite landing page can be transformational for your conversion rates. Learn more: 5 Important Landing Page Elements You Should Be A/B Testing But before you can play with the data, you’ll first need to enable e-commerce analytics by logging into Google Analytics and switching the “E-Commerce set-up” radio button in the Main Website Profile Information from “Off” to “On.” The next step is a little more complicated. You’ll need to add a customized tracking code to your shopping cart system that reports when and how purchases occurred. Depending on your hosting and shopping cart providers, this may be done through a server-side inclusion, a separate module through your content system, or through hand-coded HTML. For more details on how to finish this integration, check out Google’s E-commerce Tracking documentation.
Now, suppose you don’t sell any products on your site, but instead use your page to generate leads for an offline business. In this case, every visitor to your site has a monetary value, although this isn’t determined by the number of sales that result from a traditional shopping cart system. Ideally, the revenue generated from the time and effort you invest into promoting your website should increase over time. To track whether or not this is the case, you’ll want to make use of “Goals” within Google Analytics. To do so, log into your Analytics account and navigate to “Conversions” > “Goals” where you’ll have the option of setting up new Goals. Although you have several different Goal types you can play around with, Event Goals (goals that aren’t tied to arrival on a specific site URL) make the most sense for tracking revenue from non-e-commerce sites, as they allow you to set a custom event value for each circumstance you define. On a basic level, your Goals will evaluate every visitor that comes to your site by using a simple equation. Take the amount of money you’ve made and divide it by how many new (unique) visitors have come to your site. That will tell you how much each new visitor is worth. But that’s just scratching the surface. If you want to truly understand your sales funnel, Goals can help you track much more specific data. For example, say you generate leads using a free white paper on your site. You’ve already determined that the average value of a visitor who contacts your company in this manner is worth $20. Now, you can set up an Event Goal accordingly. This lets you track how potential leads move through your site so you can optimize your site structure for maximum conversions.
Tying your Google Analytics account to your AdWords accounts can give you some very valuable information about the efficacy of your PPC campaigns, including which keywords result in conversions, what AdWords visitors do once they land on your site, and much more. Read more: 13 Quick Tricks to Increase Conversion Rates that You Can Do Right Now The best part is that setting up this integration is incredibly simple. If you use the same e-mail address to log into both your Analytics and AdWords accounts, all you have to do is open up your AdWords account, navigate to the “Reporting” tab, and click on “Google Analytics.” Select “I already have a Google Analytics account,” then choose the correct account profile from the list. In the next section, you’ll have the opportunity to select and deselect a number of checkboxes – including one that gives you the option of turning off auto-tagging. For most beginners, we recommend leaving auto-tagging on. This is an easy way to tie your keywords to your campaign links (otherwise you have to manually add tracking variables to every link in your account). You’ll also want to take the time to import your cost data from AdWords, as this will allow you to analyze the ROI of all conversions and sales on a per-keyword basis. To do this, follow these steps, as laid out by Google Support:
For those who are more visual, here’s a short how-to video:
As with the Google AdWords/Google Analytics integration described above, pairing Google’s website statistics manager with your AdSense account can result in several types of useful data, including the ability to view earnings based on user visits (rather than just page impressions). For instance, if you’re blogging (and you should be), this is a fantastic way to analyze the trends in your blogs to see what’s working for you. You can view:
Finding out this information allows you to open up channels for additional revenue or see what is actually helping your website to convert. And those are just some of the things you can discover. You’ll also be able to view click data based on user location, browser type, and referral source – all of which can help you refine your content-based ad monetization strategy. It can even help you discover which areas require growth. If, for example, you see that the majority of your web traffic comes from New York but the majority of your sales come from Los Angeles, you can rethink your strategy to compensate for a specific region. To connect your Analytics and AdSense accounts, look for a link inviting you to do so in the Overview or Advanced Reports pages of your AdSense account. If you aren’t yet eligible, keep checking back to take advantage of this feature in the future.
One final way you can use Google Analytics to track website ROI is to break out revenue stream by traffic type. Most webmasters advertise their sites in a number of different ways, including PPC ads, content marketing, social networking, forum marketing, etc. However, since it’s likely that not all of these activities result in the same ROI, it’s a good idea to break them apart to see which traffic source results in the most income. This will help you determine how to best allocate future promotional efforts. To do this, you’ll need to set up Advanced Traffic segments, which allow you to break out visitors based on referral sites to see which types of traffic are converting best for you. Start by clicking on the “Advanced Segments” tab under the “Standard Reporting” tab of your Google Dashboard. You’ll see that some default segments have been included, but you can also use the button in the lower right-hand corner to create your own segments based on specific sites or types of sites. A few potential traffic segments you could create include:
Once these segments are set up, filter your Goal conversions by segment to compare which traffic streams are most profitable for your site.
If this is your first time attempting to track your revenue through Google Analytics, it might seem daunting. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, just remember that these techniques can and will contribute to your bottom line:
Even if you aren’t actively tracking your website ROI, keep in mind that your competition sure as heck is. These tools are helping them acquire new clients that you could be getting! That’s why knowing how to properly measure revenue and conversion rates can help you stay ahead of the curve. Remember: online businesses make $1.2 million per 30 seconds, or about $3.5 billion per day. How much of that are you taking home? Need help tracking your revenue with Google Analytics? While other agencies love to talk about “ad spend,” at Single Grain we’re all about the ROI. [sg_alert type=”success”]Get a free consultation right now to see how we can help grow your business![/sg_alert]
This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.
In today’s rapidly shifting world, SEO techniques can change on a dime—and the worst part is that you might not even know it. Hacks that could have won you a front-page result as recently as 2016 are not only obsolete now, but they may even hurt your website’s rankings.
That’s why you need to stay on top of the ball. We spoke with Jacob Warwick, Director of Communications at Skedulo, and Jesse Teske, SEO Manager at YLighting, to get their expert thoughts on the most current SEO tactics in 2017.
Read on for some 9 info-packed tips and techniques to help you get the most out of your SEO game in 2017—and improve your traffic and conversions.
Simply put, engagement is the ability to hold a user’s attention. In SEO terms, it is a measure of the amount of time spent on a page.
Although Google hasn’t officially declared it, there is evidence to suggest that this search engine giant does reward sites with strong user engagement with higher page ranking.
Research from SimilarWeb found a positive correlation between engagement metrics and search rankings and a study of 1 million search results by Backlinko found a similar correlation between bounce rate and rankings.
Google’s reasoning is that if a user spends more time on a page, it’s probably because she found the page useful. And since Google only wants to deliver the best possible results to its users, it will push sites with strong engagement up in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
So how can you improve your site’s engagement? Here are five tactics you can use with your existing content:
Good formatting can instantly improve your page’s readability. This, in turn, can improve your engagement rate. According to an eye-tracking study by Nielsen, the following three formatting tactics can help increase your content readability:
Here’s an example of poor formatting:
Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 1996, some of the most popular places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).
Here’s an example of the same paragraph, but with good formatting (which improved usability by 124%):
In 1996, six of the most-visited places in Nebraska were:
A “bucket brigade” is a copywriting technique designed to keep capture a reader’s interest and keep them on your page. It essentially involves breaking an idea into multiple sentences, using a trigger word or phrase (as simple as Look: or as lengthy as The secret to great copywriting is this:) and then ending the sentence with a colon.
Look at this example from Backlinko:
Including professional, high-quality images (photos, graphs) throughout your content is an easy yet powerful way to increase engagement. For one, images help you show an idea, not just tell it (a picture tells a thousand words, right?). Secondly, images help you break content into different sections. And finally, people just like pretty pictures.
For example, take a look at how Growth Everywhere uses images to clearly illustrate the step-by-step content in How To Do A Content Cleanup (And Grow Your Organic Traffic):
On Single Grain, charts and screenshots are frequently used to divide up content into separate sections, like this example from The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Advertising:
If you went to journalism school, you know all about the inverted pyramid style of writing:
This method means giving away the most valuable information at the top of the article, and following it up with less important information. If readers tend to scan and rarely make it to the bottom of an article, it makes sense to give them what they want as soon as they land on the page.
Writing well, delivering value, and proper formatting only go so far. Another key part of engagement is lowering your bounce rate, which is the percentage of visitors who land on your website and leave without interacting further. Bounce rates can be raised by a number of factors, from incorrect implementation to poorly designed landing pages.
More often than not, however, high bounce rates result from poor usability and an awkward user experience (UX). While these problems vary from site to site, they are very easily remedied with several popular online tools, such as:
For instance, heat maps are colorful representations of where users have clicked on your site, while scrollmaps show you just how far down the page your users scroll before leaving. With this data, it’s possible to figure out what your best design features (or flaws) are, and correct them accordingly. Here’s an example of a heatmap that shows you where visitors clicked:
In A/B testing, multiple versions of a web page are randomly shown to users, compared against a control page (generally the existing website), and then analyzed for effect. The biggest advantage of a proper A/B testing process is that marketers can understand how even the tiniest changes can positively affect their website, such as moving the buy button to the left or changing its color from red to blue.
Take a look at the sample A/B test below from 5 Important Landing Page Elements You Should be A/B Testing:
In this test, hygiene company L’Axelle is trying out different headlines, pitting a comfort-oriented headline against an action-oriented one. The change is subtle, but it’s there.
It’s clear that A/B testing is an integral part of both the copywriting and the UX design process. The genius of Optimizely is that it massively simplifies something that would otherwise require a team of dedicated, experienced UX designers and researchers to carry out.
Image Source: Optimizely
But perhaps the biggest draw of Optimize is that it seamlessly integrates with Google Analytics, allowing marketers to further leverage their existing resources. With Optimize, marketers can use existing Analytics metrics as a starting point, which allows them to rely on a familiar interface as they move on to deeper and more complicated experiments.
Here’s a shot of the Google Optimize user screen. Notice that it gives recommendations and suggestions for the optimal interface.
Pro Plan subscribers, however, have the option of receiving the help of UX professionals who will conduct research, analyze user behavior, and measure and benchmark. In this form, User Testing.com offers customers the benefits of an in-house UX team at a fraction of the cost.
With its conversational tone and engaging manner, Krug’s work gets readers into the habit of critically examining and rethinking everything about their websites, including even the tiniest details, like misplaced buttons or unwieldy site maps.
There’s also strong evidence that click-through rates will influence your website’s Google search ranking, though this is difficult to confirm given the company’s secrecy surrounding their algorithms. Either way, improving CTR is absolutely a good investment for the long-term health of your business.
Luckily, there are programs like Google Search Console and Tableau, which allow marketers to identify critical keywords which are performing (or underperforming) for their position, understand why and, most importantly, quickly visualize the terms and pages to target. With these programs, marketers can turn around underperforming terms by rewriting titles and descriptions, thereby increasing CTR and drumming up traffic.
Learn More: 10 Google Search Console Hacks to Boost SEO
A recent study by Backlinko concluded that the longer the content, the higher the likelihood of it ranking at the top of the SERPs.
However, writing 2,000+ words for every blog post is not for everyone; it’s an intensive, time-consuming process. Instead, it’s much easier to take a page from 1,200 words to 2,000 words than to go from 0 words to 2,000 words.
Existing content already has authority and an established readership. So rather than writing something entirely from scratch, it’s much simpler to find a post of yours that is already doing well on Google, refresh it with updated information and extra content, and rely on existing signals to make it rank for terms.
Here’s how you do it. First, under “Search Traffic” in Google Search Console, click on “Search Analytics.”
On this page, check “Position” and select “Pages”:
Try to find pages that are ranking between positions 11-30 on Google. These are ideal candidates for additional content that can increase their rankings.
55% of all keyword searches on Google return at least one video and 82% of those videos are from YouTube. YouTube is also the second most popular search engine with more than 3 billion searches per month, surpassing Bing and Yahoo combined.
Focusing on YouTube SEO will push your website onto the first page on Google and get you traffic from YouTube as well.
The result? Twice the traffic with the same content.
Learn More: The Complete Guide to Youtube SEO
Here is how you can improve your YouTube SEO (after creating your videos, of course):
The filename, the title, the description—all these elements affect your rankings.
Here’s a great example:
Another tactic is to use your keywords at the start of the title, then add a sub-header after a colon to drive clicks. Here’s an example:
At the very least, your title should have 5+ words and include a broad target keyword. This will not only help you rank in SERPs but also get you more clicks on YouTube.
Learn More: 20 Ways to Grow Your SEO Rankings
It can be as short as this example from Growth Everywhere:
Or as long as this example from James Stafford:
This tells Google—as well as your readers—exactly what your video is about. Since most of your competitors aren’t doing it, it will also help you rank way faster.
Like content, longer videos tend to do better in YouTube search.
Try it yourself: type in a popular keyword or topic and see what shows up at the top of the page. For example, here’s what you’ll see when you type in “wordpress”:
Or when you search for “photography tips”:
Try to make your videos at least 5 minutes long. As with written content, longer videos tend to get the most traction.
Learn More: A Youtube Video Marketing Guide to Increase Prospects in Your Funnel
A better video thumbnail won’t necessarily help with your SEO, but like a great headline, it will help you get more clicks. This means that you can often earn more views than higher ranked results, all thanks to your choice of thumbnail.
A strong thumbnail should tell viewers exactly what the video is about. Try to use a compelling image along with a title card. Here’s an example:
Back in 2010, Google announced that it would be using site speed as a ranking factor and since then, Google has consistently emphasized the importance of site speed.
First, it launched the PageSpeed tool to help developers improve site performance, followed by the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project to boost speed on mobile sites.
Recently, it launched another tool called Think with Google to help gauge how responsive (or mobile-friendly) a site is, which includes speed as a parameter.
Clearly, Google wants your website to load faster than it is right now. But how fast?
Unfortunately, the exact definition of “site speed” is open to speculation. According to the surveys done by Akamai and Gomez, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. If the site fails to launch in 3 seconds, there is a good chance they’ll abandon it.
You should work on your site’s speed not only to work your way up Google’s rankings, but also to increase conversions. For instance, one survey found that nearly 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with website performance won’t return to the site to buy again.
While improving site speed is a pretty big topic, check out this HubSpot article to improve page load times.
Learn More: Using Google AMP to Boost Site Speed and Mobile Optimization
Images are usually the largest components on any site (in terms of file size). By compressing them, you can often cut down page size by 30-40%.
A quick way to do this is to use Kraken.io. This tool automatically compresses all images uploaded to your WordPress blog. It also has an API to make image compression for non-WordPress sites easier.
Caching is the mechanism for temporarily storing web data such as HTML pages and images in order to reduce bandwidth usage.
If you’re on WordPress, enabling browser caching is as simple as installing a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.
For non-WordPress sites, browser caching is a little trickier. One quick way to do it is to change your .htaccess file. Follow the instructions here to learn how to do this.
A CDN is a network of servers based throughout the globe. When visitors access your website, they are delivered the site from a server that is as close to their physical location as possible, thereby improving site speed.
Using a CDN is a easy fix to instantly improve site speed and will have an immediate impact on site performance.
Image Source: Moz
Google is evolving and so is its algorithm. Its objective now is to understand the intention of the users: what users expect, what they are looking for, and more specifically, what search results would best help answer their query.
Plus, for an increasingly large number of queries (19.45% to be exact), Google shows “rich results” that include the best answer at the top of the results:
In 2017, don’t expect your website to end up on the first page of Google simply by creating keyword-focused content. Tom Anthony from Moz concludes, “We need to stop looking at keywords and starting looking at queries.”
In short, you must consider what your users are looking for rather than coming up with different ways that users can phrase a search query. Here are two things in particular you should consider:
What kind of content you’ll create will depend on your audience. The better you know them—their location, age, and likes—the better the content you’ll create (and the better your SEO).
For example, suppose your keyword tool shows that “android” has a lot of search volume. People searching for it could fall into several categories:
Without knowing your target audience, you might end up creating content for all these topics, which would win you neither readers nor good rankings. By building a detailed buyer persona, you’ll be better able to zero in on topics that matter to your readers.
Instead of focusing on standalone keywords, organize all your content into different “themes.”
For example, if you run a website about WordPress, you might have three types of readers:
To target each of these types of readers, you can organize your content into different themes that cover multiple topics, such as:
This is far more reader-friendly than simply creating content for specific keywords.
At the same time—keywords still matter. Organizing content thematically is very important, but it’s a mistake to ignore keywords entirely, given that they serve as signposts to Google’s spiders, signaling topics and giving hints as to the nature of the content on the website.
Still, the keyword aspect of SEO is becoming increasingly difficult with Google Adwords hiding volume data.
Luckily, there are a number of tricks and tools that can help marketers find topics and volume data. Google itself is a good way to get related search ideas. Just type “sushi restaurants in San Francisco” into the search bar of Google Chrome and you’ll be presented with carousels of related images at the bottom of the page, such as the names of specific restaurants or dishes to order.
This is a strong hint for developers to include these topics in their content, or to create pages to leverage these related images.
Read on for some extremely useful tools that can help you find and optimize keywords:
Image Source: SEMRush
Interestingly, SEMRush also allows users to use a competitive positioning map, where they can see overall website traffic and keywords: Title Boxing boasts 120.9k in search traffic and 15.3k in keywords, far outpacing their closest competitors.
Image Source: SEMRush
When considering which keyword tools to use, look for something that allows you to monitor a high volume of keywords broken down by relevant themes. Additionally, the best tools must ensure that you can track all your competitors, from large corporations to small, up-and-coming firms.
As always, go for quality and not quantity. It’s better to get 10 conversions from 100 visitors than it is to get 10 conversions from 1,000 visitors. Rather than casting a too-wide net, focus on keywords and topics that are within your niche, ones that you can optimize for and be the authority on. Fill in these gaps and establish yourself as an expert in this smaller field before tackling larger and broader keywords where the competition is much fiercer.
Despite what you might have heard, building backlinks is still crucial for good rankings.
As per Moz, a site’s backlink profile is still the most reliable indicator of its eventual rankings. Another Moz study shows that without backlinks, it is nearly impossible to rank well, even if you have great content.
Image Source: Moz
What has changed is the way you must build backlinks if you want good results. Low-quality links that are easily spammed—blog comments, paid links, etc.—don’t seem to work anymore and can actively harm your site.
Links that are earned—through high-quality content, outreach and influencer marketing—on the other hand, are safe and extremely effective.
Read More: 5 Ways Cold Emailing Can Help Generate Backlinks
A critical part of SEO is reporting and analytics, which are indispensable to improving marketing strategies. By setting up an analytics platform to track both micro and macro events, you can understand your customer’s journey from your sales and marketing funnel.
For instance, what content really appealed to your customer? What part of the website had the most UX issues? Which page was the least (or most) visited, and why?
Having the ability to tie online data back to offline data to get a full 360 view of how your content and marketing is performing.
One great tool to help you do this is Google Datastudio, which helps you aggregate data from multiple sources (rankings, traffic, conversion data) into a single interface. You can even share your data internally or with clients. Most importantly, these metrics can help you determine the effectiveness of your SEO strategy, and whether you need to pivot or change tactics.
Along those lines, always be on the lookout to see what your competitors are doing, and how well it’s working. What techniques are they using? How have they changed their approach? What mistakes have they learned from?
One great tool to see how your competition has changed is Wayback Machine, which allows marketers to access petabytes of archived web pages. By sifting through Wayback Machine’s extensive database, you can track the evolution of your competitor’s brand and web presence, taking note of factors such as changes in UX design or differences in copy from one web version to the next.
Still, you shouldn’t implement something just because your competitor is doing it, whether that’s designing a website a certain way or using specific copy or images. This is especially true for larger websites like Amazon, which have much more leeway with search engines. Thanks to their numerous, highly skilled staff, they can test small changes and measure results with a high degree of accuracy.
If used correctly, Wayback Machine has some interesting lessons to offer any company. Take a look at these two screencaps of Title Boxing. The top picture is a screencap of Title’s homepage from Wayback Machine, circa 2007, while the bottom one is a screencap from 2016.
Image Source: Wayback Machine
Image Source: Title Boxing
The differences are pretty clear. In 2007, the web layout was much more cluttered and crowded, with small, hard-to-navigate sidebars squeezing some small, insignificant-looking pictures in the middle advertising daily specials.
In 2016, however, the user experience is much more streamlined. Visitors are greeted with a clear, easy-to-use sidebar at the top, labeled with categories like “Gloves,” “Punching Bags,” and many more. A large, sliding image in the center replaces the tiny, hard-to-notice ads from 2007, allowing buyers to see exactly what is on sale. The new website is almost minimalist, doing away with the previous confused, slightly chaotic format.
Clearly, Title has come a long way when it comes to UX, testing their changes and eventually settling on this new, simpler design. Still, it’s very likely that plenty of testing, design and redesign was put into this process, which is clear when you track their changes through Wayback Machine.
Be strategic about your changes, test them thoroughly, and examine how your competitors’ websites have evolved with Wayback Machine.
SEO and content tips aside, it’s absolutely essential to have a solid website, without worrying about any technical issues that may arise. With that being said, here are some tips and techniques to help you ensure that your website is up to par.
First off, do yourself a favor and switch to HTTPS, the most commonly used, securest version of the old http web protocol. HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP.
It’s a best practice that will help your website boost its SEO presence, stay secure, and make it harder for malicious parties to break in and take advantage of your website.
Granted, transitioning to HTTPS is easier said than done, and requires a multi-step process. When the Atlantic, a highly-regarded, well-established media organization, decided to move to HTTPS in early 2016, the transition was complex. First, content had to be scanned individually, then ported over and checked for compatibility. The process was repeated with ads, and once compatibility and security were ensured, the website slowly went live in order to guard against traffic loss and unforeseen errors.
If you’re a smaller organization, your process will likely be less painstaking or time consuming. All the same, moving to HTTPS is a necessity in a world of cybersecurity threats and heightened SEO and SEM requirements.
AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, began as a Google-backed open initiative to allow publishers to easily create responsive, mobile-optimized content.
Image Source: Toobler
Envisioned as a way to quickly render content on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, AMP combines three components:
Since AMP was only incorporated into the search giant’s results in February 2016, the format itself is still fairly new. For those of you who use WordPress, AMP should be much easier to implement than a home-grown CMS from scratch.
Learn More: Using Google AMP Pages to Boost Site Speed and Mobile Optimization
To ensure that Google is crawling your preferred pages and not pages that don’t appear in its index, turn to crawl programs like Deep Crawl or Botify. These SEO crawler programs are similar to Google’s own crawlers and will give you an overview of how your page will perform in SEO rankings.
Image Source: Botify
To help Google understand your data or to show your website smartcards and voice searches, you need to ensure that your semantic markups are correct. Semantic markups are essentially HTML tags which can help emphasize key information on your website.
For instance, a heading tag (H1) can help a crawler understand precisely what your content is about. If you tag “Five Holiday Destinations in Eastern Europe” with a H1, then a crawler will know to sort your blog post under relevant categories, such as holidays or Eastern European travel. In short, edit your semantic markups so that they reflect your data and information as accurately as possible.
Nothing will sink your website faster in search rankings than a 404 error, when a search engine can’t find the desired web page and leads to a dead end. It’s in your interest to fix these broken or missing pages and re-engage your users as soon as you can.
Whatever platform you use, be it Google Analytics or Oracle, take a look at the number of pageviews for your 404 page. Then add URL as a secondary dimension and fix the biggest offenders first. This way, you can boost UX and regain any inbound links from those pages.
Image Source: EyeEm
Learn More: Data-Backed Best Practices for Building a Killer 404 Page
To make your job easier, there are a number of web browser and WordPress plugins that you can use. We’ve listed a few of them below, along with a brief description of their capabilities and common uses.
Image Source: Ultimate Nofollow
In the digital era, it’s easy to forget that people still visit physical shops and establishments. True, they may use online resources to research, but plenty of commerce is still conducted in real life. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you can’t neglect local SEO and listings if you want to stay profitable.
As powerful as search engines like Google or Bing are, they still can’t be everywhere at once, and have to rely on additional information from local, on-the-ground sources, which gather, aggregate, and submit relevant data for area businesses. These aggregators will do much of the legwork, pulling information from physical directories (like Yellow Pages) or scanning business registrations.
In a nutshell, bigger search engines will rely on these data aggregators to fill in the gaps of the existing information already in their databases, and will also cross-check to make sure that the facts are up-to-date. Problems arise, however, when aggregators collect out-of-date data, leading a search engine like Google or Bing to list the wrong information, like an old address for your business or a disconnected phone number.
Learn More: How to Do a Comprehensive Local SEO Audit
Image Source: Moz
That’s why it’s critical to ensure that your physical contact information is as current as possible.
The first step is to identify any obsolete information that may be out there. Because Google is the largest search engine, start with Google My Business, its free-to-use listing service, and update your data accordingly. Be sure to list important details like extra locations, the latest opening hours, and what forms of payment are acceptable.
Then, use a local directory management service, which carries out the painstaking, tedious work of scanning countless local directories, interacting with data aggregators, and correcting any old information. The best of these are Moz Local and Yext, which can help you avoid any glaring inconsistencies that can hurt your revenue stream, or even worse, trick Google’s algorithms into thinking that you’re a different business entirely.
Learn More: 10 Free Local SEO Tools for Small Businesses
Next, use your directory management service to hit at least four of the major data aggregator services. While these companies do vary by location, some of the bigger names are Infogroup, Acxiom, and Localeze, all of which provide information on millions of business listings to larger search engines.
From that point on, local search listings should be accurately and automatically updated by your management service.
Carrying out technical SEO for local search engines is a similar process.
You may be questioning the point of optimizing for local search engines, especially given Google’s unquestioned dominance of the search landscape. Even so, local search engines are still extremely useful. After all, if you’re a physical, brick-and-mortar establishment, you will benefit greatly from having in-store visits.
Learn More: How to Get More Reviews for Your Local Business
If you’re a digital business, local searches are still important. One study shows that consumers are 36% more likely to begin with local search engines, rather than general search sources like Google. Even if they’re looking for a digital marketing agency rather than a hardware store, if you don’t optimize for local search results, your business could lose potential customers.
Image Source: IDC
Here are some useful terms and techniques to ensure that you optimize your business for local searches:
First, understand that schema markup is one of the most powerful, least used parts of SEO today. Schema are basically brief snippets of data that can give extra information to search users and search engines. Best of all, schema markups don’t require extra coding, and can be inserted through Schema.org, a rare collaboration between Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
In the case of the example below, the schema gives extra information about showtimes at the following venue:
Image Source: Google
As you can see, schema is a game-changer: you can make your site more visible in Google and quickly add brief, useful data for the benefit of users.
Image Source: Moz
Ultimately, SEO is rapidly changing from one year to the next—even from one month to the next. Business owners and marketers have to adapt quickly, but it’s still possible to give your business website the edge on your competition.
Just remember to focus on solid content creation and copywriting fundamentals, engage your viewers deeply, and stay abreast of technical trends like backlinks, SEO health, site speed, and schema.
If all this seems overwhelming—take a deep breath. Taking the effort to understand even the basics of SEO will help your site gain higher click-through rates, engagement, and of course, rankings. In 2017, a little bit of reading and tinkering on your own can still go a very long way.
Feel free to reach out to us for a friendly chat to see how our team at Single Grain can help you with your SEO!
This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.
Goals matter – just ask any Brazilian soccer fan. Without concrete goals, you have no good way to track your progress or ensure that you’re achieving the things you’ve set out to accomplish. Instead, you just cross your fingers and spin your wheels on directionless projects.
And when it comes to measuring specific goals related to your website or Internet business, content may be king, but Google Analytics is Parliament. This incredibly feature-rich program is free to use and can provide you with a wealth of information on how visitors are interacting with your site. It’s a “must-have” for website owners who are serious about making decisions based on measurable data instead of ill-informed hunches.
There are other platforms available — Clicky, Piwik and Kissmetrics for example — but let’s not kid ourselves. Google is where it’s at, so it makes sense to go to Google for our website data. You don’t go to McDonald’s when you want a steak, right?
And while Google doesn’t release any official numbers for the service, industry watchdogs estimate that somewhere between 30-50 million websites use Analytics as of late 2015.
Google Analytics V5 was launched in March 2011, but was not made standard until much later. Universal Analytics was announced in October 2012, and is currently the only supported version of the tool. In addition to “regular” Analytics, Google introduced the Analytics 360 Suite for those enterprises that want a bit more horsepower.
To clear up any confusion and to help you incorporate this powerful analytics suite into your business strategies, we’ve put together the following guide on how to set up goals and funnels with Google Analytics.
I’m going to assume that you’ve already set up your website with your tracking code (check out this walkthrough if that sentence made you tilt your head and say “huh?”).
In order for Analytics to receive data, you need to add a unique tracking code to every page of your website HTML. You can find it on the Admin tab, in the Property column, under Tracking Info.
If the thought of working with code makes you break out in a cold sweat, you can opt for an easier plugin implementation, like the very popular Google Analytics by MonsterInsights.
Either way, your tracker needs to be installed before you can start taking advantage of all that Analytics has to offer, goals or otherwise.
And while you’re at it, consider a few of these mistakes to avoid in setting yourself up. Analytics has been around long enough now that there are boatloads of tips, tricks, and best-practice advice. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the basics and the more advanced features to truly harness the power of the platform.
Learn More: How to Track Your Website’s Revenue with Google Analytics
One of the biggest changes rolled out in version 5 was the expanded “event” goal set, which enabled you to collect even more types of data about your visitors’ interactions with your site.
This feature is incredibly powerful, as it allows you to go beyond the simple metrics that Google Analytics tracked before the update (including time on site, number of pageviews, and URL destination visits) to really get a feel for how your visitors are engaging with your site. Since then, the tool has continued to evolve, with new functionality being introduced on a fairly regular basis. The Analytics feature set is so rich that many users don’t fully comprehend everything it can do for them.
With the addition of event goals in 2011, the total number of goal types within Google Analytics now stands at four:
Goal types are organized into either Template (pre-filled configuration), Custom set-ups, or Smart Goals. The goal type that’s right for you will depend on the needs of your particular business model.
A blogger, for example, is more likely to be interested in average time on site or pages per visit than an e-commerce seller, for whom a primary metric might be destination goals that track completed sales when visitors reach a designated “Thank You” or order confirmation page.
Templates will only be provided if you’ve assigned your property an Industry Category. You can find that drop-down menu on the Admin tab, in the Property column, under Property Settings.
No category, no goal templates (and those offered to you will change depending on which industry category you select). Template goals are arranged into four categories: revenue, acquisition, inquiry, and engagement. If you can create at least one goal in each category, you’ll get a well-rounded snapshot of your visitors and how they’re engaging with your website, product, and content.
Once your category is assigned (don’t forget to save after making that change!), you’ll be able to chose either template or custom on the goals dashboard.
For many users, Smart Goals will not be available. To use them, you must first meet a few prerequisites:
Those requirements will exclude many sites, so we’re going to skip them for now. You can find out more about Smart Goals on your own should you feel analytically ambitious.
Now we get to the nitty-gritty. To set up a goal for your website within Google Analytics, log in to your dashboard, then click on the Admin tab in the upper left-hand corner. This is the administration section of your website’s profile, and it allows you to create goals (found in the View column) among a slew of other tasks:
Click on Goals, and you’re whisked away to the goals dashboard. From here, you’ll see that you’re able to use up to 20 specific goals (the number remaining appears at the bottom left of your goal list) for each property. You can opt to create a new goal, or import an existing one from the woefully underappreciated Analytics Solutions Gallery.
Either way, choose them carefully, as you will not be able to delete these later on (although you can deactivate and rename them once you’re finished with a particular goal). You’re limited to 20 goals per View. That’s it. No more.
Click the Import from Gallery button, and you’ll get a pop-up window of the Solutions Gallery.
You can use the filters along the left, or the search field at the top left, to find whatever kind of goal you’re in the mood for. Notice that it’s already limited to Goals, there’s an Import button below each result, and you can opt to go directly to the Gallery website if you’d prefer not to work in the window (it’ll open in another tab).
The Solutions Gallery is well worth a visit. Besides user-submitted goals, you can find custom reports, dashboards, and segments, too — everything you need to make Analytics your go-to data destination.
To create a goal yourself, click on the red “+New Goal” button. This will launch the goal selection screen where you’ll be able to pick either Template (as long as you’ve designated an industry) or Custom:
Make your selection (setting up your own goal is easy if you don’t see any template for what you want to do, so don’t fear the Custom option!), and hit Continue.
Under Step 2, you’ll be asked to give your goal a name and choose the specific type of goal you’d like to create.
Not sure which one to choose? Let’s take a closer look at each type…
Destination goals are wonderful for tracking conversions if a particular action (purchase, download, sign-up) results in a visitor arriving at a particular page, like order confirmation or a “thank you” page.
In the web page URL field, you only need to input the extension — such as /thankyou.html — and not your entire web address (www.yourwebsite.com/thankyou.html, for example).
And if you’re not sure what the destination URL is, you can quickly find out by performing the conversion yourself: go to your website, fill in the form (or download the infographic, or send a note, or whatever), and make note of the URL of the page after you complete the action. That’s your destination goal URL.
Enter the URL of your designated conversion page in the appropriate field. A destination page can be:
If you know how much a goal conversion of this type is worth to you, turn on and enter it into the Value field (for example, if you know a “thank you” page visit occurs only after a $10 report has been purchased, enter “10” as the value).
The default currency is U.S. dollars, but you can change this under Admin > View > View Settings > Currency Displayed As. And if you want to track transactions for an e-commerce site, you’d be better off installing and using the Enhanced E-commerce plugin, and leaving this blank (but that’s a subject for another day).
If your final destination URL is part of a larger funnel — as in the case of one-time offers, upgrades, and other multi-step sales processes — turn on the Funnel option and enter the URLs of each step in the sales path. You can add up to ten.
A funnel in Analytics must be attached to a goal. For example, to get to the “Thank You” page indicated as the destination goal, your customers might have to travel from a landing page to a sign-up page before arriving at the destination page. You would enter the first two steps into the funnel fields.
Funnels should be used if visitors must follow a specific path to reach a destination that you want to track (be sure and turn on the Required? button). They can help identify leaks (pages within the funnel where visitors are bailing without completing it) so you can hypothesize and test ways to stop those leaks and stay afloat.
There’s a great funnel report with data for each step available under Reporting > Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualization.
Finally, verify the goal and click save.
If your goal is simply to measure and increase the length of time visitors remain on your site (their engagement with it), select the “Duration” option.
Enter the specific amount of time on site — either by hours, minutes, or seconds — that you’ve set as your goal, then click “Save.” The goal will be recorded as complete only after someone hits the indicated duration.
Working to increase the session duration of your visitors (and lower the bounce rate) can have an indirect influence on your SEO. Upgrade your content, improve site navigation, make it more visually appealing, and offer more than what you’re offering now.
Again, if you happen to know or have a value, enter it in the appropriate field, although it’s much harder to place a numerical value for time spent on site. What is five minutes worth to you? Is ten minutes worth double that?
Related Content: 10 Ways to Measure Social Media Engagement (Plus 7 Tools to Track It!)
Another good indicator of overall engagement is pages/screens per session. Using internal links and other calls to action to encourage visitors to move amongst the pages on your site is a good way to get people to engage with your brand and learn more about your company.
To set this as a defined goal, select the “Pages/Screens per session” option and indicate how many pages will trigger a goal completion.
Take a look at your existing stats and set a goal that’s one or two pages higher than your existing average pages per visit. You can find your current statistic under Reporting > Audience > Overview (you can also see your average session duration here, too).
Another good stat to build out from is your Page Depth, found under Audience > Behaviour > Engagement, and then select Page Depth on the report itself. This will show you exactly how many sessions looked at one page, two pages, three pages, and so on. The more sessions with higher page depth, the more your site is resonating with visitors.
As you make changes designed to encourage longer site visits — in both duration and pages per session — and start meeting your goals, come back and increase the amounts as needed. Always be working towards longer visits and more pages per session to truly connect and captivate your audience.
Setting up an event goal in Google Analytics is a little more complicated, as there are several variables that can be used depending on what you want to track. An event is an action that happens independent of a page load, so you can’t use a destination as a trigger.
Counting the number of times a video is played will require different tracking parameters than will be needed to count the number of times your pages are shared on Facebook, or how often something is added to a cart.
Related Content: Complete Guide to YouTube Analytics
When you click the “Events” option in Analytics, you’ll see the following screen:
To understand what each of these fields means — as well as how to use them to set up event goals on your site — check out Google’s complete Event Tracking Guide. Be aware that some of the information gets a little technical, and that you may need to append links or other elements of your site with pieces of code for the tracking to work properly. This goal requires a lot more than the first three types.
Each event goal is comprised of four parts:
Only the first two are necessary for a goal to trigger, but it’s worthwhile to include them all to get the most accurate, detailed reports possible.
The Value field does not necessarily have to be a monetary amount, and you can opt to either input the goal value from the event value, or to enter a separate dollar value by selecting “No.”
If this all sounds too complicated, consider hiring a web developer (shameless plug: Single Grain!) to set up event goals on your website for you. You’ll incur a small fee to have this feature added, but the incredible amount of invaluable information that these goals can generate for you far outweighs the set-up cost.
You can find a complete list of your created and imported goals on the Admin > View > Goals page. You’ll see the goal name, its ID, the number of successful conversions in the past week, and how many goal slots you have left for a given Property.
You’ll also notice a “Recording” on/off switch for each goal where you can pause it and stop receiving data (if it stops being relevant data for you to collect).
Once you have a few goals set up and doing their thing, you’ll receive data every time a conversion happens and the goal is triggered. You’ll be able to analyze and evaluate them under Reporting > Conversions > Goals on the Analytics dashboard.
You’ll see stats on the number of goal completions, your goal conversion rate (number of goal completions / number of visitors x 100), goal value (assuming you assigned one somewhere along the way), and total abandonment rate on the Overview dashboard (for either all goals combined, or individual goals, and you can change it with the drop-down menu directly on the report itself).
Other reports are available on goal URLs, reverse goal paths, funnel visualization, and goal flow.
Traffic is good. Setting up and measuring conversion goals is better.
Conversion goals should be a part of any complete Google Analytics strategy and plan, as they track and monitor some of your most important KPIs. Take the time to create a few goals if you haven’t done so already, and read up on the the how and why of Analytics. It’s a powerful but still underutilized tool to help your business grow, connect, and succeed.
Now that you know how to set up goals and funnels with Google Analytics, you’re ready for a successful 2017!
Hey everyone, in today’s episode I share the mic with Yuri Elkaim, a nutrition, fitness, and fat loss expert, as well as a New York Times bestselling author who makes fit and healthy simple again with clear, science-backed advice.
In this interview we talk about how Yuri took his business from $6K to multiple 7 figures in revenue, the secret to getting 50% opt-in rates for some of his content (which is unheard of in the blogging world!), and how spending more time building customer relationships drives conversions way up.
Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: Bestselling Author Yuri Elkaim On How His Fitness & Nutrition Videos Got 22.5M Views on YouTube TRANSCRIPT
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