Social media ROI (Return on Investment) is on the minds of all business leaders these days. In fact, according to the 2012 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Report, 91% of today’s online adults use social media regularly. With so many adults in the US engaging online through social media, business and Internet marketing professionals clearly understand the need to invest in social media.
However, when small and medium sized businesses are evaluating investments in social media, the following 2 questions often are top of mind:
- How can a business support social media in a scarce resource environment?
- Does social media ROI justify the necessary investment?
Without answers to these to questions, business leaders are uneasy about investing in social media since ROI has often been difficult, if not impossible, to measure. Those currently investing in social media who are unable to measure ROI often feel like they are flying blind, not able to readily tie business results to social media efforts and investments.
Given the overwhelming majority of a business' target market is using the Internet and social media, marketing professionals also understand the imperative to be where their current and potential clients are, building and promoting the business offers and brand awareness online.
Measuring Social Media ROI
Does Twitter really work for business? How much time should you be spending on Facebook? What about http://go.experian.com/forms/experian-digital-marketer-2012., behind Facebook and Twitter, according to Experian Hitwise. Is Google+ something you should consider given is recent impact on search results with Google Plus Your World update where Google users search results are influenced by their social network? In the past, social media ROI has been extremely hard, if not impossible, to measure. With affordable marketing automation solutions available today, it is now possible for a business start measuring and reporting on the social media ROI.
- Collect data necessary to prioritize social media efforts/investments across channels (Facebook vs. Twitter).
- Determine how many leads and customers are attributable to social media and to which social channel
- Social media analytics - view number of clicks on an individual posts or tweet or see in aggregate.
Content Syndication across Multiple Social Channels
To have the greatest impact and ROI, content needs to be shared and syndicated across relevant social channels. Many marketers are overwhelmed by the task of consistently posting their content to a series of different social channels and profiles within channels. The good news, especially for SMBs with limited marketing resources to dedicate to the Internet and other channels, is that marketing automation software and services can significant reduces the resources required to syndicate content across several social channels. Marketing automation users can now schedule and automate social media posting/sharing to syndicate content in a highly efficient and effective manner.
- Configure blogs to automatically syndicate posts across social channels triggered when a blog post is published,
- Create and send all your social media posts from an integrated dashboard,
- Schedule posts to syndicated for preconfigured time by social channel,
- Evaluate click through rates by social channel, time of day and adjust for optimum results.
Managing Multiple Profiles by Social Channel
Think of the time and effort you spending logging into each of your different social media profiles every time you want to syndicate content within and across profiles? Marketing Automation allows you to pull all your key social media accounts into one dashboard where you can manage publishing and avoid the overhead of logging into multiple profiles by social media channel.
- Install the social media bookmarklets enabling you to share as you browse, sharing interesting 3rd party content when/as you discover it,
- View and send all your social media posts from an integrated dashboard,
- Pull in Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter from multiple profiles by social channel.
Online Reputation Management by Monitoring Social Media Mentions
With Marketing Automation, you can also discover and follow individuals and businesses talking about topics relevant to your company, industry and most importantly, your prospective clients.
Tracking mentions of your industry, competitors, and other keywords across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social channels can now be automated, enabling businesses to monitor measure and manage their online reputation 24x7x365.
If measuring social media ROI is important to your business, why not schedule your complimentary Internet marketing assessment to evaluate how Marketing Automation will enable you to measure your social media ROI.
This post is based largely on the information presented in the SEO for startups in under 10 minutes video produced by Google, featuring Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead, Google. Maile, an SEO Expert, joined Google in 2005 working with the Goolge Search and Webmaster Tools teams.
Maile says that "If I were a consultant for your startup, this is all the advice I would give in under 10 minutes" and who doesn't appreciate quality free consulting from a well-known industry expert!
This post also includes links to other Internet marketing resources, Webmaster and SEO Resources mentioned by Maile, all of which are top notch.
What Statups Will Benefit?
Startups who will benefit most from this blog post and accompanying resources include:
- Startups that have a website of up to approximately 50 pages
- Startups focused on ranking for handful of of related search terms/phrases
The objective of blog post is to provide Startups with the SEO basics in an efficient and easy to digest format (blend of text, videos and graphics). Readers will also learn about SEO potential pittfalls to avoid, while providing pointers to some great, free Internet marketing resources.
SEO for startups in under 10 minutes video
Select Preferred Website Domain (www vs. non-www)
The first SEO decision startups have to make with their website domain is to decide if they want to use the www.eBizROI.com versus the alternative, yet completely viable, eBizROI.com.
Select www or non-www, then on you have selected your preferred domain name, use a 301 (permanent redirect) to consolidate indexing singals (authority and value in the search engines domain valuation).
A 301 redirect will take users automatically to the preferred website domain automatically, regardless is they type www or not before the domain root (e.g. ebizroi.com).
Verify Website Ownership in Google Webmaster Tools
The next step in the Startup SEO Strategy is to verify ownership of your website in Google Webmaster Tools. Email forwarding is recommended feature to enable Google to reach you in the event that of indications that a website may have been hacked, that it is hosting malware or the is unreachable for extended periods of time.
Below is a Google Webmaster Tools Dashboard screen capture for eBiz ROI:
Vetting a Domain before Launching a Startup Website
Another trick is to perform a domain "background check" before launching your startup website on a newly acquired domain. One of the questions to get answered as part of a domain background check include was the domain a previously a spammy domain? To find this out, one can check the following in Webmaster Tools:
- What "Keywords" are currently listed in Webmaster Tools
- See what content, if any, is currently indexed with a [site:foo.corn] search
- Rank when searching for domain name
If you see any issues, then please review the Google Webmaster Guidelines which is the authoratative Internet marketing resource if you questions about penalties or reconsideration requests and that entire process.
Another great reconsideration process information source is an interview with an industry expert titled New Clarity on Reconsideration Requests from Tiffany Oberoi.
Fetch as Googlebot
Now its time to look at your startup website and see it the way that Google sees it.
A neat feature in the Fetch as Googlebot feature within Webmaster tools can be found in the Health section of the Webmaster Tools interface. Two key aspects of this feature are that:
- It allows the user to see the content as Google does since it initiates a crawl and then returns the results, including the status of any redirects
- After the content is crawled, the use can then click Submit to Index to have the content added to the queue of Google index update requests.
For more information, check out the following Google video by Maile Ohye entitled Using Webmaster Tools like an SEO.
Include Analytics Code
Start collecting data even if you are not ready to use it, because once you hire an SEO specialist, it is good to have a baseline to see historical performance information such as number of visits to a site, average time on site, average pages viewed by visitor and a wealth of other information.
One excellent Analytics Tool used by startups up to large companies who are members of the Fortune 500 is Google Analytics has an options ideal for startups that can be used without licensing costs and is as easy as pasting a snippet of code into each webpage that you want to track.Once you have signed up for a free Google Analytics account, copy the following code, then paste it onto every page you want to track immediately before the closing </head> tag. It's that easy!
var _gaq = _gaq || ;
_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-10757331-1']); replace this Google Analytics code
ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js';
var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script'); s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
Some websites that are dynamic have a field that can be used to propagate the tracking code to each existing or new page that is added to the website. Collecting key website performance may not seem like a priority for a startup website, but trust me, you will be glad someday that you starting collecting the data from the beginning. You can't improve what you can't measure.
Site Design is a key SEO and User Experience Consideration
Consider defining different users/personas for your website
- First-time vs. Loyal Customer
Defining personas for your website will help you when designing your layout, look and feel and navigation while focusing your content development and messaging by persona, you will greatly enhance user experience and site ROI (Return on Investment).
Does your website meet the usability needs of each persona representing different target user groups for your site?
If a searcher lands on child page:
- Can they figure out where they are?
- Can they easily navigate to where they want to go?
- Does each page contain one logical topic that is obvious to visitors?
Define Your Conversion
The define your conversion step is particularly important, especially for start-ups.
For example, typical website conversions defined by startups include when persona group X visitors:
- Sign up for an opt-in newsletter
- Contact our bizdev or sale lead
- Buy our product or service directly from the website (e-commerce)
- Try our product (trial)
- Share our service with friends and family (social media syndication)
Make relevant conversions possible on every page. Don't force users to make extra clicks or your overall site conversion rate will suffer as a result.
Be Smart About Your Website Copy
Include relevant keywords naturally in your text. The key word in the preceding sentence is naturally. Trying to write for the search engines will likely not give you much additional traffic and will likely drive human readers away.
Think about what terms or phrases that people looking to find the kind of content (products/services/offers) that is on your site might use in the search engines. Include query terms that normal people (those outside your world of inside industry jargon) would use to find your product/services/business (e.g. for eBiz ROI, it might be "Internet marketing services", "increase visitors website").
One great way to quantify how many people use a particular terms or phrase to search for your product or service is the Google Adwords Keyword Tool which can be used free of charge. Tricks like focusing on tag clouds are mis-spellings are no longer the low hanging fruit they once were in terms of capturing additional search traffic.
Proactively Answer Viewers/Personas Questions
Here are three examples to consider:
- Is the product reputable? Show reviews, let users review.
- What if it doesn't work? Explain customer satisfaction policy
Every Page Should Include:
- Unique topic - for instance, this post is focused Startup SEO Strategy
- Unique title - important as the title displays as a link in the search results
- Unique meta description for the snippet - this is generally where Google and other search engines source the description of the link in the search results and has been show to be a key factor in click through rates of individual search results.
- For static websites (web pages not created dynamically in the server such as Wordpress, Joomla, Concrete5 and other content management systems), put keywords in the filename, lower case and hyphen separated
- Descriptive anchor text (clickable part of the link) for every hyperlink on a webpage, whether you are linking internally or externally to another site.
Anchor Text Examples
Here is an anchor text example that leaves room for improvement: For more information on our services descriptions, click here.
Here is a better anchor text example based on use of keywords in the anchor text: For more information, please read our services descriptions.
A good example of a site that has a unique topic in each page, as well as a unique title and descriptive good page titles and descriptive keywords in the anchor text can be shown for this search result for NASA.
NASA not only has a link to their homepage shown in the search results, but also has generated sitelinks. These sitelinks are created algorithmically by Google, but they can be influenced by having a great site design, having unique page titles as well as great anchor text.
For more information please read about Sitelinks on Google Webmaster Tools (good anchor text example ;-)
Potential Startup SEO Pitfalls to Avoid
The following 3 SEO pitfalls are especially important for startups to avoid in the SEO Strategy
- Hiring a rogue or shady SEO. If an SEO guarantees placement on the search engines, run, (not walk) away
- Participating in link schemes such as link exchanges or buying links for the purpose of manipulating or passing Google PageRank
- Focusing too much on form over function. Make sure that the website contains searchable, indexable text as opposed to images, flash and other formats that cannot be read by the search engines indexing programs, called spiders or robots.
Page Load Speed Matters
Another thing to consider about your site is page load time. Lots of times startups don't have the time or knowledge to focus on this aspect of their website.
How quickly your website pages load will affect not only user experience, but can also affect ranking in the search results.
- An Akamai study finds 2 seconds as customer "acceptability" threshold for e-commerce sites
- Google goal is for page times of 1/2 a second
For more information, please read about site performance on Google Webmaster Tools. Another excellent resource is Google & Site performance: The compilation answer album, by Maile Ohye.
The bottom line on page performance is that the longer that it takes for your page to load, the more likely it is that users will hit the browser back button to navigate away from your page and onto a competitors :-(
Startup Website Ranking
Below are three website ranking considerations that all startups should consider:
- Check how your website ranks for your company name and/or brand. In the best of cases, it will rank #1 in the search results and have Google generated site links on the search results page
- Understand how you rank for other terms through Webmaster Tools Search Queries (available in Webmaster Tools).
- Get involved. For startups, it possible that no one searches for you new kind of product or service resulting in low search query volume. Perhaps prioritize finding a potential audience or community on existing forums, blogs or social media sites. Then to rank well, provide an awesome, unique product or service, then generate and attract buzz: natural links, +1s. likes, follows, shares and more.
For more information, check out the Using Webmaster Tools like an SEO video by Maile Ohye.
Social Media for Startups
Most startups have minimal resources so it is important to come up with a social media strategy suitable for your startup context and real world resource constraints.
- Think holistically: Create an identity on key sites, participate, connect users to entry point of conversion. Its important to think about the entire user experience from point of contact on the social media site to point of conversion on your website.
- Focus your energy on where your audience or perspective clients hang out. Too many make the mistake of joining peer groups and unless your peers are in market for your services, this can become a resource drain, though can be beneficial if goal is to share best practices.
- Play to your authentic strengths:
- CEO likes to Tweet
- Sales and Marketing like to post content and share on Facebook
- Developers already on Google+, Stack Overflow
By playing to your strengths on the social channels where resources are most familiar will allow startups to get the most bang for their social media buck.
In conclusion, even with great advertising, and terrific marketing, valuable conversions still happen on your site. Stay focused and make sure you are ready to implement your Startup SEO Strategy and harvest the "low hanging" SEO fruit and benefits which include more impressions in the search results, more visitors to your website and ultimately more sales and revenue for your startup business. If there are other Startup SEO tips and techniques, please share in the comments so that we can all benefit from your wisdom. Thanks in advance for sharing.
Google Analytics Goes Mobile
Product Update: Mobile Analytics, Intelligence Alerts Widget, & Browser Size Analysis for mobile web marketing!
Whether you provide Internet marketing services or are a mobile web marketer on the go, Google Announced some great mobile Internet marketing resources in their Google Analytics Product Update: Mobile Analytics, Intelligence Alerts Widget, & Browser Size Analysis June 2012 Google Analytics Monthly (sort of :-) Product Newsletter received today (July 3rd 2012 ;-).
Google Analytics ... There's an App for that! New Mobile Analytics App
Google announces its new mobile analytics app for Google Analytics providing access to website data from mobile devices. This feature couldn't come at a better time, with more and more Internet marketers accessing website performance information from the mobile Internet.
Essential data for your sites & apps. Anywhere, anytime.
The Google Analytics App shows what is new and what is important on your Google Analytics profiles. See real time statistics, customizable dashboards and intelligence events on your phone.
At the time of this post, the average rating, was 3.8 stars out of a possible 5 stars with 402 reviews. The ratings review have the following distribution:
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For Latest Review or to Download the new mobile analytics App from Google.
Mobile App Analytics
In the same monthly update, Google also announces Mobile App Analytics to enable mobile app owners to measure mobile application usages with Analytics. According to Google, the Mobile App Analytics provides app owners with measurement of user actions through-out their interaction with a mobile application. Google indicates that "Mobile App Analytics enables mobile developers and marketers to create more successful apps and user experiences by measuring metrics at all stages: from acquisition metrics such as new/active user; engagement metrics such as visitor flow, loyalty, and app crashes; and outcome metrics such as goal conversions and in-app purchases."
Google is using a phased implementation with the Mobile App Analytics and is said by Google to be available to all by the end of summer.
The new Google Mobile App Analytics enables users to view Acquisition and User Analysis Reports to discovery the best sources of new users for a website, view and manipulate Engagement Reports to see how users interact with an application and perhaps most important from an Internet marketing ROI standpoint, access to define and run Outcome / Business Impact Reports - identify whether users are accomplishing your goals.
See more at Measuring a Mobile World: Introducing Mobile App Analytics - Analytics Blog.
Browser Size Analysis
Also announced in the Google Analytics Product Update - June 2012 newsletter is the browser size analysis to help publishers better understand what their users see as they consume content on more and more on smart phones and tablets. Through visualization, the browser size analysis feature will help site owners see what is above the fold for different visitor segments. What is above the fold is a key factor in helping drive conversion rates. Beyond above the fold, the analysis and visualization will help publishers determine which portion of a page is visible to different viewer segments. Access to this feature can be found in Google Analytics, Content Section under in Page Analytics.
For more information or to learn more about Google Analytics browser size analysis, see [New Feature]: Conduct Browser-Size Analysis Within Google Analytics - Analytics Blog: a new tool for optimizing your site’s content: browser-size analysis, which is part of the In-Page Analytics report.
Google Analytics app for Android
Android users can now take Google Analytics with them on the go (not yet available for iphone ?;-) with the new Google Analytics App which providers users access the their Google Analytics accounts, profiles and data. Reports are optimized for viewing on Android smart phones. Users of the Google Analytics app can swipe through reports to quickly to locate essential websites data and key performance indicators form the mobile app, anywhere, anytime. For more information on the Google Analytics app for Andriod, see Data At Your Fingertips: Announcing The Google Analytics App For Android - Analytics Blog.
Looking for Assistance?
If you have a need for Internet marketing services, inbound marketing, marketing automation or mobile marketing strategy consultation, give eBiz ROI a call at +1 (518) 557-3502 or reach us via email at sales@eBizROI.com to see how our inbound marketing experts can assist with increase marketing ROI while optimizing for results.