Archive for SEO

Keyword Discovery Using Google Analytics

One tricky part of SEO is figuring out which keywords should be used in your SEO strategy that you don’t know about. Tools like Rank Checker require you to know which keywords you want to rank well for before you can plug them into the tool and measure where your site ranks for them. But what if you don’t know what new keywords you should use to begin with?

Using Excel and Google Analytics, you can discover new keywords by comparing one time period to another in the keywords report. The end result is a list of keywords that were used for the first time between your two reporting periods. In Google Analytics go to Traffic Sources > Keywords. In the URL add &limit=50000 to the end of the URL and hit enter (the page will not display any differently, but when you export to a csv file, you will export 50,000 rows instead of 500). Export the report and then do the same thing with the previous month. Combine these two reports together then do some conditional formatting to highlight the duplicates in Excel. (To do this in excel 07, highlight the column, click on the conditional formatting button below the Home tab, then choose Highlight Cell Rules > Duplicate Values.)

The keywords that are not highlighted mean that they are not duplicates and were used for the first time between this reporting period and the last. Take this list of keywords and see what their potential is in popularity using Google’s Keyword Tool. Also look at outcome metrics from these keywords in Google Analytics to measure their potential – did they convert? What if you had a lot more traffic from these newly discovered keywords, what would that mean to the bottom line?

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Your SEO Strategy Is Your Online Marketing Strategy

Thinking of the two as different strategies is like keeping product development and marketing in separate silos. Good marketing is when the product is the marketing. Making a crap product and then trying to position it as something very cool and needed is an expensive and uphill battle, likewise making a site and then working on the SEO strategy is also very short sighted. If you’ve ever done an SEO audit before you know its pretty much like saying, “let me evaluate how well your online marketing is done”.

Is the purpose of SEO to get more traffic or get more customers? The two don’t necessarily co-inside. If you build your SEO strategy as an afterthought instead of it being your marketing strategy, you’ll probably get more traffic but not more customers. A separate SEO strategy usually sounds like, “I want to rank high for this keyword.” To which the answer is usually, “what makes you think you deserve to rank high for that keyword?” If your site is built to offer the best information, service, resource and user experience then it will rank high for that keyword. If your site doesn’t meet that criteria then doing a bunch of “link building” will just cause more people to come to your site and quickly leave again because you don’t offer what they are looking for.

So when designing a marketing strategy online think of it as an SEO strategy and results are bound to be more effective.

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SEO Dashboard In Excel

I made a dashboard for tracking SEO in excel. The link to download it is at the bottom if you’re interested in playing around with it. I tried to make something that not only shows what the current state is at-a-glance, but also allows for discovering insights for diving deeper. There’s also a little section for goals, although I think that should be bigger since tracking the outcomes of SEO is the real end goal, not just ranking higher.

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Starting in the top left coroner is the rank of your top 10 keywords which you can compare to each other by clicking the check boxes. The graph next to it is total traffic, bounce rate and conversion rate from non-paid search traffic. Seeing bounce rate going up and conversion rate going down would be cause for concern and you would want to look at top referring keywords to see who is driving the crappy traffic. Below that graph is conversions, sign-ups and revenue (or whatever other micro-conversions you want to track) from all non-paid search. I have spaklines in-cell graphs for those metrics to give an idea of where they are trending.

Next to those metrics are the total backlinks and indexed URLs metrics. I would pull these metrics from Google Webmaster Tools but there are others tools that can give you the same information. The more indexed URLs the better the chance you have to get more traffic from those pages and tracking the number of backlinks is important since that’s how pages rank higher.

If you expand the plus box you can see the top 10 most linked to pages. And on the other side, conversions, sign-ups and revenue are segmented by those same top 10 keywords.

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Beneath that is the amount of traffic and revenue split up by search engine (not sure what kind of insights knowing this would give other than where to focus your efforts). And next to that are the goals which are custom formatted so that if the week-to-date number is below the goal it will turn red. Expanding the second plusbox shows traffic trends for the three engines and the other graph shows total sign-ups and revenue.

Download the SEO Dashboard.

Let me know what you think and what is missing from this dashboard in the comments.

If you like this post you may also like my PPC Dashboard and eCommerce Planning Dashboard posts.

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SEO Keyword Competition Tool In Excel

Here’s a little SEO tool built in Excel for getting an idea of how difficult a keyword will be to rank well in Google. It comes with a couple big caveats** but I think the overall idea works. Here’s how to use it:

1. Put your keyword choices in column A.

2. Use Google’s keyword tool to find the Local Monthly Searches (local means it gives you the results based on the specified location and language above the search button) for that keyword and paste those in column B.

3. Do a search for those keywords using the allintitle: operator and paste the amount of results into column C. Use the allintitle: operator so that you get a more accurate number of sites you’ll be competing with that use your keyword in their page title. Also put in a quote like this: allintitle:” so that it keeps your keyphrase together.

4. The spreadsheet is pre-formated to calculate the average popularity and competition of of those keywords once you do steps 1 -3 and will highlight in red the ones that are harder and green for the ones that are easier.

Download the SEO keyword competition tool in excel.

Let me know what you think!

*If one of the keywords is much more popular than the others it will skew the average quite a bit which all the other keywords are based on, so try using words that have similar popularity.

* The amount of search results for a given keyword is not the only factor for the competition of a keyword. The amount of backlinks to those pages is just as important, if not more so.

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How To Quantify Success in SEO

SEO is a means to an end, not the end itself. You want your site to rank higher so you get get more traffic, but what use is more traffic if it’s unqualified traffic? Traffic that just bounces and whose intent doesn’t match your website’s purpose? I believe that the biggest mistake in SEO is that we are far too obsessed with ranking instead of focusing more on what the business impact of our SEO efforts are.
Here are a few tips in Google Analytics to see if SEO is paying off:

1. Log into Google Analytics and click on the Advanced Segments box in the right hand corner. Create a new segment for Organic traffic.
Then go to Content > Top Content and apply the Advanced Segment. Stretch the timeline back to when you first started your SEO efforts. Do you see your segment line going up and to the right? Then something is working. You’ll want to see if organic traffic is improving on the pages of your site that you are optimizing. You can drill down to these pages in this report and see how your organic segment looks.

2.When looking at a specific page’s traffic, next to Analyze:, pick Entrance Keywords from the drop down. Do the keywords match the intent of the page? Do they contain keywords you were specifically using to optimize the page? No? Why not? On the other hand what are the surprises? Is there customer intent contained in the keywords telling you how to change or improve the page? Re-evaluate your list of most important keywords for this page with this report.

3.Change the view to the Comparison View and then change the dropdown to Bounce Rate. This will compare these keyword’s bounce rate to your site’s average. If you are pushing keywords that have a bounce rate in the red you might consider choosing different keywords for this page since they aren’t a good match with the customer’s intent.

4. Go to the Ecommerce report and apply your organic segment, stretch the time period, and report how well your SEO efforts are delivering value to the business.

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Local Business SEO in Denver

With millions of blogs and websites, what can your business do to stand out? In my opinion the best strategy for local businesses in Denver to succeed in search engine rankings is to provide hyper local content.

First, some stats: According to SBI + M:

  • 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore networks).
  • 66% of Americans use online local search, like Google local search, to locate local businesses (TMP/comScore/SBI + M).
  • 82% of local searchers follow up offline via an in-store visit, phone call or purchase (TMP/comScore).

Now can you see why local search is so important? Here are are few ideas of how to make you business stand out in Denver:

1. First take John Jantsch’s local content post to heart:

Make sure that you use the names of cities and suburbs on your pages, add your address to Google maps, talk about local and community events in your blog posts and titles. Link out to local sites using town and neighborhood names in the anchor text. As wells as using local words in you title tags of pages, anchor text for internal and external links, H1 tags, bold and italics tags, urls of page names, and alt and title description of images.

  • Use outside.in to comment and post about news in your area. They help you find places around you, get news for the places and neighborhoods you really care about, and engage more with your neighbors.
  • Use getlisted.org to get started registering your business to local directories.

2. Get descriptive. For example, according to Google’s Keyword Tool, keywords “Denver Restaurants” get about 135,000 searches a month and “Thornton Restaurants” gets only 2,400. Sure, it would be nice to be ranked well for the 135 thousand searches for Denver restaurants, but also consider that there are 10,900,000 competing pages for those keywords. The chances of being ranked well for those words are slim. Meanwhile, Thornton restaurants has only 1,090,000 competing pages; that’s 9,810,000 less pages of competition.

And think of the mindset of someone searching for restaurants in Denver vs. restaurants in Thornton. The Thornton searcher is much more likely to be looking for a place to eat near them right now then someone broadly searching for restaurants in Denver where they may be doing research for later or any other host of things.

3. There is this idea of Needle in a Haystack Marketing where you can publish very specific ideas to the Internet and, thanks to the long tail and search engines, people looking for specific things can find what they are looking for thanks to you. Your message doesn’t reach everyone but that’s OK because the people you do reach are the ones looking for you. If you have a specific product or service unique to what you do in Denver, then use it in your content.

This should get you started. For more ideas see SEOBook’s web publishing strategies.

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Integrating Online and Offline Marketing

A new report from iProspect, conducted by JupiterResearch,  says

that 45% of search engine marketers do not integrate their search marketing efforts with offline channels and 24% of companies do not participate in offline marketing at all.

The study finds that just over half of search engine marketers (55%) intentionally integrate their efforts with at least one offline marketing channel. Specifically, that integration most often takes place with direct mail (34%) and magazine/newspaper advertising (29%), while both television (12%) and radio advertising (12%) trail behind.

Another study by iProspect, published in August of 2007, revealed that

two-thirds (67%) of search engine users are driven to search by an offline channel, and that 39% of those offline-influenced search users ultimately make a purchase from the company that prompted their initial search. Moreover, it also shows television advertising to be the leading offline channel that drives users to search (37%).

Makes sense: you see something on TV or in the paper that strikes your interest so you search for more info online. This correlates with the 61% respondents to a recent survey saying that they check review sites, blogs and other customer feedback forums before buying a new product or service.

#1 I think this makes it even more important to stay current with what is happening in your industry so that you can be present when people go online after having their interest sparked from seeing something offline.

#2 Since:

only 26% of marketers utilize the same keywords in offline campaigns as are used in search marketing campaigns in their integration efforts,

I think it makes since to correlate the two.

#3 So let’s say you put an ad in the paper with the hope that it drives people to your store as well as your site. How do you know if it’s successful? A spike in your site’s visits I guess.

#4 I think this is also saying that because of your branded advertising efforts a consumer will pick your site instead of others because they recognize your name in the search results and therefore trust you more.

Still, this doesn’t negate the Faith and expense it takes to undertake advertising to the masses.

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