Weekly Update Overview
-11 Metrics For Monitoring LOCAL SEO Health
-Stop Procrastinating: It’s Time To Address Mobile SEO
Good afternoon everyone. This is Ian Sorenson with Local Marketing Source, bringing you our local marketing weekly industry update. I’m sitting in for Scott Gallagher today, he had a meeting this morning and got stuck in traffic on the way back. We did not want anybody to miss out, so he asked me to sit in and talk to you a little bit while we wait for him to make it back into the office.
As some of you know, I’m Scott’s right hand man at his marketing agency. I’m the Operations Manager and I handle the day to day operations of our client management.
Next week our LMS member faculty call with live questions will be on Wednesday January 28th at 4:00 PM Eastern. The LMS membership provides access to our private Facebook group, live questions, and access to our private member portal. Don’t forget to listen and subscribe to our weekly podcast on iTunes and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
This week in the weekly update we’re going to be talking a little bit about metrics for monitoring local SEO health and how to address mobile SEO.
There are several SEO health metrics you should be monitoring daily or weekly to be proactive about tackling issues that might hurt performance. Although these metrics won’t point to the specific problem, they will give you a starting point for investigating the cause of performance decreases.
Organic traffic changes is the first metric that we’re going to take a look at. If you organic traffic is decreasing, it’s time to investigate. Dig into your Google Analytics and start seeing where you may have gone wrong and how to address the situation.
It’s important to check your organic traffic to all sections of your site and find out if a section is not performing well or if the site as a whole is hurting. These can be anything from slow load times or insignificant content, if you’re using bad keyword linking, not building appropriate content for your clients. It’s important to make sure that if any one section of your website is in trouble that you address that immediately, or if your whole site is suffering that you take some time and really dig in to figure out what’s going wrong.
It’s important to segment all data and see where your traffic problems are coming from. Is it from your desktop viewers or from your mobile traffic viewers? It’s also a very significant change in access today in mobile views. If your website is not mobile accessible, you’re going to see your performance suffering.
It’s also important to remember to keep track of what other marketing activity is being used on other channels for your site. Any decrease in brand awareness can cause decreases in branded searches.
Of course, if your organic traffic is increasing you want to look into where your traffic is increasing and consider applying whatever it is you did on that page to the rest of your site. One way to monitor this is to set up a custom alert in Analytics to email you if there is more than a 5% change in your organic traffic, either negatively or positively, over the previous week. We’ll talk a little later about how to set up those Analytics responses.
The next thing that we want to talk about as a matrix would be your changes in direct and referral traffic. If your direct traffic is decreasing, it’s important to measure that against your organic traffic.
You can see a lot of differences between direct and organic traffic on a day to day basis because sometimes people don’t search for the name of your company. If they don’t know that you exist, they’re going to look for your keywords and hopefully you’ll show up organically high in the SERPs if you’ve been applying best practices to your site.
If you’re seeing losses in both direct and organic traffic, then what you want to do is look into your mobile device usage and see if mobile device usage has decreased, since a lot of modern mobile browsers don’t pass HTTP refer data on. Again, keep in mind that your marketing activity in other channels can decrease your brand awareness and that will affect your direct traffic for sure. The less people who know your name, the less people who are going to be looking your name up.
If your direct traffic is increasing, look into it. You’re obviously doing something right and you should make sure that you are applying those practices to every page on your site and not just where your traffic is increased the most.
You can set up another weekly custom alert in Analytics to email you. We say at our agency to look for a 10% increase or decrease in direct traffic, because that number tends to fluctuate a little bit more.
If your referral traffic is decreasing, it’s important to investigate your backlink profile and referrers to find out if you’ve lost any inbound links. If you’re receiving less traffic from a link that you generally receive traffic from, check and see if the linking website has made a design change resulting in less clicks to your site. Then address that with them and see if there is something you can do to reposition yourself on their page and increase those click-throughs.
If your referral traffic is increasing, identify what sites are sending traffic to you that were previously not, or what sites are giving you the most traffic. In my opinion, I would address that also and see if there is a way that you can further position yourself on that site or provide a beneficial relationship to both sites by maybe positioning their link better on your site, inspiring them to do better for you.
This is another thing that we want to set up a custom alert in your Analytics to email you. We say on this one another 10% or more increase or decrease in referral traffic over the previous week.
Next up, in my position one of the most important things to monitor for local SEO is citation management. If you’ve had changes in citations, which obviously you should be on a weekly basis adding citations to your business and your clients’ profiles, there are a lot of good services out there. We use BrightLocal. I know Moz has a service that they offer, too, where you can monitor and track citations.
We also keep an in-house record of every citation that we add or edit, we call it the inventory of assets, to keep a running list that any time can say, “Hey, where are my citations?” and we can access that and send it right off to them without really even having to think about it.
I would say this is something that you want to invest maybe an hour to an hour and a half a week on doing; monitoring and adding citations per business that you are working on. We shoot for between 10 and 25 per week, depending on the aggressiveness of the marketing program that we offer to our clients.
Now, 25 citations can be a daunting process to get involved in. I have found that with experience comes a little bit of speed and a little bit of better ability to understand how to change. We all know that sometimes a citation, especially the higher valued ones, can be a little bit more difficult to acquire.
In my experience, if you spend more than 15 minutes on gaining a citation, you’re spending too much time. That citation is not going to be worth your 20 minutes. It doesn’t really matter where that citation is coming from, unless it’s a .gov or a .edu, or another high value extension, it’s not going to make a difference for you. If you’re spinning your wheels on it for more than 15 minutes trying to get yourself listed there, then I would say just pass it on and move on to the next citation because there are literally thousands of places where you can list your business.
If you are not seeing a significant change in citations – and sometimes it takes awhile for citations to pop up in the Google SERPs for Google to be able to recognize the new citation, sometimes up to six weeks before something will be changed on another website after reviewing and exchanging emails with the hosting site directory – don’t get discouraged. It will come around. I’ve seen this personally, where I will put in 15 hours in a week on 10 clients trying to add citations and the next week when I go back to track them nothing has changed. It does happen in the long run. Like I said, sometimes it can take up to six weeks for Google to recognize it, or it can take up to six weeks for the site to upload your stuff and then another six weeks for Google to have come across and added that to their listing of your business. Never give up, just keep adding citations. The more you have, the better off you’ll be.
The next matrix we want to talk about is changes in reviews. If you’re seeing a lower number of reviews than you’re accustomed to, then it’s time to start thinking about review acquisition strategy. I know Scott has talked a lot about review acquisition in the past. It’s important, in my opinion, to make sure that the staff of the client’s company that you’re working with are educated on how to go about getting a review without breaking Google’s code of conduct. If you’re seeing a drop-off in reviews there is a good chance that somebody at your client’s office is not doing their job correctly.
As an example, we only hand out review cards, which you can see versions of templates in the LMS portal. A review card is something that we put together that’s basically a postcard that has a QR code and some flashy images of the client. The QR codes direct them to either Google, Yelp, or whatever your favorite review engine is. It just makes it easier, one click on your phone with a QR reader and it sends you right in there to set the review up.
We tell all of our client’s employees that it’s important to get as many reviews as possible, because that is today’s best form of word of mouth advertising, but very many people take the time to make a positive review. Many more people will leave a negative review than will leave a positive review. So it’s important that every time a customer comes through your client’s office or business that is pleased with their services that you give them the option. Don’t ask for a review, but say, “Hey, if you really liked that, would you mind digitizing that and leaving a review on this site?”
We figure that for every 10 happy customers that you hand out a review card to, you will get one review. That doesn’t sound great, 10% isn’t great odds for anything. But it’s better than the odds of converting an angry grump who will most likely leave a bad review into a good review. We want to combat the number of trolls.
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the term internet troll, those are people who spend their day just basically being a jerk on the internet. There’s a lot of them out there and a lot of people hide behind their computer screens and say “I don’t have to say that I was unhappy to anybody in this business and I’m going to go and leave a one star review and rant and rave about something” that could have been handled if anybody knew that there was a problem.
A lot of times don’t worry so much about that, because as you all know, Yelp and Google both assign weight to reviews based on the authority of the reviewer. If this is somebody who only leaves nasty reviews because they’re a nasty person, their review doesn’t count for much. If you are somebody who leaves very few reviews but they are varied and well written, you’re going to garner a little bit authority, thereby increasing your ability to affect rankings.
Back to changes. If you are seeing changes up or down, investigate. Look at what it is that you’re doing that is either right or not right, and work hard to change those. Reviews are, in my opinion, one of the most important parts of internet marketing SEO positioning. It’s important to stay on top of that. It’s important to stay in front of bad reviews. If you get bad reviews, address them immediately. Try and get in contact with the customer.
Make sure your clients are aware of any reviews. I like to tell them good or bad reviews. If you get some good reviews in, send it to them, it makes them feel good. If they get bad reviews, call them up and have a conversation about what the bad review is about. Give it a good read and see if you can get any insight into what it is that is effecting their relationship with this client.
Next up, let’s talk about email traffic. Email traffic can sometimes give you clues into why direct or branded search traffic has changed.
There is a way in Google Analytics to create an annotation every time an e-blast goes out. Once you’ve done this, then set up a custom alert that will email you whenever there is a 20% increase or decrease in email traffic over the previous week. If you’re seeing more than a 20% increase or decrease, obviously something in your email is either working very well or working very poorly.
Scott is a champion of email marketing, he believes that it is the most cost effective way to reach your clients. I agree with that statement, though from my experience there is a lot of room for hurt feelings when you’re setting up email campaigns. When you’ve gathered 12,000 email addresses for your client and after you’ve sent out an email blast or two, you drop 1,000 people or you get 200 unsubscribes, or you find out that several of the email addresses are dead email accounts, that can be disheartening. You have to remember on the return on investment side of email marketing, the time and energy invested and financial responsibilities invested are very small compared to the gains that you could possibly get.
Mobile device usage. This year Walmart reported that 70% of their website traffic during Black Friday was from mobile devices. That’s an outrageous number – 70%. This is something that is going to affect businesses nationwide – even worldwide. If you are not monitoring your mobile device usage, you are missing out on some very important data.
If you’re seeing an increase in mobile device usage, dig in and look to see what it is that makes your site more mobile accessible and try to make sure that you follow those practices throughout the entire layout of your site.
If you’re seeing a decrease in mobile device usage, it is important to investigate why. There are several factors that can affect your mobile device usage.
If you have a website that is not scalable for different screens, if you can’t look at it on a tablet, a phone, and a desktop and have three different pictures, then you’re going to get penalized for that. Google is not going to rank you high when somebody is looking for you on a mobile device.
If you have long load times, Google is not going to rank you high from a mobile device.
If you are having too large of photo files or too small of text for readability, you’ll get penalized for that and you will not gain rank.
There are a lot of factors to look into. Really what it comes down to is when you look at this on your phone can you use it. Is it something that you find functional? If it’s not, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and fix that. I’m guilty of it, I’m sure some of you are guilty of it, when you have a question you pull out your smartphone. This is the era of mobile connectivity, so maybe even more important than citations and reviews is making sure that your website is mobile compatible.
Next up, in Google Analytics there is a tool to check for crawl errors. It’s important to monitor these because if you are having internal linking or linking from an external source, sometimes if their site has been changed or if they’re using a bad URL in their content, this is going to cause problems with the web crawler.
If you change your email settings in Webmaster Tools to email you about issues, this is not going to be a timely email, it’s not going to come whenever there is an issue. It’s only going to send you an email if there is a major trend in site issues. You’re going to have to tap into the Webmaster Tools API to create a weekly report of crawl errors. I know that sounds like a lot of work, but you’ll be happy that you did it after the fact. It’s a lot of stuff to read and it’s a lot of numbers to go over, but these are the things that are going to make your business stand out against the others.
Next are keyword impressions and clicks. Although “not provided” has severely limited the ability to track keyword traffic in Analytics, many factors around keyword data are still available in Webmaster Tools. Checking these metrics should be done as a follow-up investigation into changes in traffic. Changes in impressions and clicks can tell you if there has been change in brand awareness or if there has been a change in marketing activity.
Ranking for keywords – If your keyword rankings are going down, you’re going to lose traffic, that’s all there is to it. If you are not using your keywords appropriately, they’re not going to rank you for them. If you’re using keywords on pages that don’t have useful information about that keyword, Google is going to notice and they’re going to say that you’re keyword stuffing. That’s borderline blackhat, that’s not how we want to run a business, that’s not the idea. Our whole goal is to create valuable content that is related to your business keywords.
This is not to say that every article you write should be about your business. This is actually suggesting that you maybe don’t write about the business, write an article about the keyword, not directly but in regards to it. That way when Google read it they’re going to find that relevant, they’re going to say this is not just an ad for the business, this is useful information that people who maybe aren’t even shopping for your business will find useful if they’re looking for the keyword.
If you are losing rankings, look into the possibility of you being penalized already for bad practices. There is a possibility that you’ve already been knocked down a peg because you had a keyword that was not related to the content of the page, or the content of the page was something that was just copied and pasted from somewhere else. Make sure that any content you’re creating is relevant and related to the keywords that are tied to any given page on your site.
Next up are bounce rates. Monitor your bounce rates. If you’re getting higher bounce rates, you can tell a wealth of information related to the health of your SEO program, including irrelevant keyword targeting, slow page load speeds, and poorly written meta data. We know meta data is not the most important thing, but if you’re not doing a good job of putting it together, you’re not appropriately alt tagging or appropriately using good descriptors in your meta descriptions, which I would say these things are not incredibly important but will contribute to your bounce rate factors.
You can set up an automated alert in your Analytics to fire if the bounce rate increases by 10% or more. That’s something that I definitely suggest you do. All of these automated alerts are going to be adding workload to you, they’re going to make you have to read more emails, but it’s going to make your job easier in the long run because you’re going to have a better idea of the changes that need to be made in a timely manner rather than once a month checking your individual analytics page by page. This is going to alert you to stuff before it becomes a problem or as it’s becoming a problem, giving you the ability to address and correct in a timely manner.
Next up it’s time to address mobile SEO. This year is the year of mobile. How many years has everybody been hearing that? Forever. At least in the last three years I’ve heard the words, “This is the year for mobile.” It seems to me this is actually the year of mobile revolution for marketers.
In addition to the staggering numbers that Walmart posted on Black Friday of mobile connectivity, Target also reported that 60% of their holiday traffic was from mobile devices.
Mobile traffic is not isolated just to retail and ecommerce sites, though. Whether your organization is business-to-consumer, business-to-business, nonprofit, or anything else, you have to be ready to immerse yourself in the mobile world.
Should mobile be a priority for your site? Absolutely.
At WON Marketing this year we’ve seen a 659% increase in mobile organic traffic in just the last year. Isn’t that outrageous? Almost 660%. I didn’t think it was going to be that high. Have you been tracking your mobile traffic levels? I don’t know if you are, but I bet you’ll see some outrageous boosts in your mobile user interface.
We find that many marketers are not really paying that much attention to mobile traffic data or segmenting it away from traffic data that is clouded with your desktop users. You have to look and see where your site stands as far as mobile is concerned. If you go into Google Analytics you can alter your organic traffic reports to show you specifically from organic search how many mobile users you have.
I’ll give you a quick run through on how to do that. What you’re going to do is first go to the left side navigation panel of your Google Analytics profile and you’re going to click the Audience tab, then Mobile, then Overview. Then you’re going to separate the traffic by channel by clicking on Secondary Dimension and under Acquisition choose Medium or Source Medium. Source Medium will also give you the idea of which search engine sends the most mobile traffic to your website.
Filter out all the nonorganic traffic by clicking on your Advanced settings next to the search box and create a filter by selecting Include, Source Medium, Containing, and type the word Organic. Also, go ahead and filter out desktop traffic by adding a second filter selecting Exclude, Device Category, Containing, and type the word Desktop.
If you change your date range and compare year over year, your report will be filtered to show only mobile traffic from organic sources, giving you a truer picture of your mobile organic search traffic.
Look at your trends over time as well. What was your organic mobile traffic like in 2014 compared with 2013? Your site has likely seen organic mobile traffic growth without you even knowing it. This is important to understand as you gauge growth and trend over time.
Next up you want to check and see if your site is mobile-friendly in Google’s eyes. The easiest way to see if your site meets Google’s mobile-friendly guidelines is just to search for the site on a mobile device. Google recently added a mobile-friendly label to organic site listings for sites that meet their guidelines. If your site doesn’t show a mobile-friendly label then it doesn’t meet one of Google’s requirements to be deemed mobile-friendly. You can then use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool and quickly find out what needs to be done to rectify the situation.
Conversion – oh, conversions. Website traffic is great, but what marketers really want is traffic that converts. Conversion can be a bit more difficult to come by on a small screen, so don’t forget about helping visitors to convert on mobile devices. That means fun buttons to click, easy to use interfaces, things that are made to adjust to the small screen. If it can’t be used easily on a tablet or a smartphone, then it might as well not even be there.
Once you’ve ensured your site is truly mobile-friendly to Google, it’s also time to consider your conversion rate from organic mobile traffic. Refer back to the report that you created earlier and look at each goal set in Google Analytics or the aggregate of all goals for the site. What’s your conversion rate like? How does it compare to the conversion rate for desktops?
To compare your conversion rate with desktops is pretty easy also. You’re going to click on Audience in the left side navigation of your Google Analytics profile report. You’re going to then click Mobile, Overview, and separate your traffic by channel by clicking on Secondary Dimension and choosing Medium.
Filter out all of the nonorganic traffic by clicking on Advanced next to the search box, create a filter by selecting Include, Medium, Containing, and type the word Organic in there. You can also filter out tablet data and get a true picture of desktop versus smartphones by creating a second filter with Exclude, Device Category, Containing, and then typing in Tablet.
These reports are going to make it easier for you to address mobile compatibility issues. Once you figure out how you need to set your site up, everything is going to be easier. You’re going to have a much better chance of converting. You’re going to have a much better chance of repeat visits, which we all know the more time somebody looks at your logo or sees your name the better off you’re going to be because next time they think about whatever service it is you provide your name is going to be the one that pops into their head first.
If we can get these reports dialed in appropriately, then every month you can go back and see what it is that you’re doing to either inspire people to come back or look at your site one their smartphone while they’re out and about, or what it is that you’re not doing that is ostracizing your client base. If you are not delivering for them a mobile compatible and functional site, then you are not delivering for them at all.
Real quick, as we’re coming to the end of this week’s update, I just want to give a little rundown of what the operations department here at WON Marketing does on a typical week, the average plan of action that we work towards to get the best conversion and rankings that we possibly can and how to best manage our time when you’re dealing with multiple clients and an overworked staff.
There is a lot of work to be done.
We do review acquisitions, which is really on the client but we still have to stay on top of them. Every week we have a conversation, I try to schedule at least biweekly meetings that are 15 – 20 minutes in length with the point of contact that we work with at any given client that we have, just to sit down and chat a little bit about what’s going on. 15 minutes here and there for each client is totally worth it. It’s important to get on the phone and talk to them, because voice-to-voice communication is so much more effective than email. It’s easier to convey tone, it’s easier to convey an idea, and it’s easier to get immediate feedback and see how it is your client feels about that.
Reviews – We pressure our clients to get at least one review per week. Some more aggressive plans that we have we require two or even three reviews per week, depending on the size of the business and their client base.
As I said earlier, we shoot for 10 to 25 citations per business, depending on the aggressiveness of their SEO plan and the competitiveness of their market. Like I said earlier, you never want to spend more than 15 minutes on a citation. If you have say an employee who is taking his time, you can have a good metric of how much time they should be spending to get any of this work done versus their final outputs.
Every week for each client, no matter what, we want to put out a new piece of content. Whether that piece of content is a fluffy blog post or a middle of the road article about your business and what’s going on that you’re going to try to get published in an industry blog or a local publication, or even if it’s a high level, high quality article that could end up being printed in an industry magazine, that’s marketing gold right there. That’s what we’re looking for, that’s where we really want to be, but those can be time consuming. If you’re writing a three page article (like I’m writing right now) about gluten free toothpaste and its effect on the dental market, it’s something that is tough because if you don’t have a real passion for it you have to do a lot of research.
Make sure to allow yourself enough time to get these things done and make sure that you’re also pushing to get yourself published on as many things as you can. I’m not talking about client blogs. Obviously, you want to get at least two of those up per month on your client’s blog, but what’s more important is trade blogs, local blogs, trade magazines. These are all things that are going to hold way more value. Once you get published somewhere else, then you publish your stuff on your own blog with a link to the site where you originally published saying, “Look at us, we got published.” That’s going to afford even more authority.
Every month we try to shoot a new video for each of our clients. That can also be time consuming. You have to make sure you schedule enough time in the middle of your day to get out and spend on it. You’ll think, “I’m only shooting a five minute video, an hour should be enough time.” More often than not that hour turns into an hour and a half, two hours, two and a half hours. When you’re in the office with a client a lot of times they’ll want to talk about a lot more than shooting the video, because they have you there and it’s time to sit down and chat about whatever it is that’s on their mind.
Always be available. We make it a point that when a client has odd working hours or strange times for meetings that we are available even if we’re not open. We have one client, a dentist with two locations, who we can’t get a meeting with her after 7:00 in the morning. And she’s not close, so that sometimes means us waking up at 4:00 to drive out to her office and sit down with them. You have to be willing to make those kinds of sacrifices if you want to succeed.
Press releases are really important to firm relationships with local press outlets. If you are not a speaking basis with at least a department editor at a local newspapers, send those emails. Offer to take them out to lunch, be their buddy. You want to get in good with those guys because they’re the ones that are going to get you in their magazines and newspapers. This is where the real work comes in. Content is king, but relationships are the emperor. If you make friends in the right places, there is nothing that you can’t do.
We do a monthly spot check of new content on the website to make sure that everything on the page is functioning. We make sure and analyze Google Analytics reports and we send off reports to our clients with our opinions and fixes that we believe need to be implemented before we implement them to assure them that we’re doing work and that we’re staying on top of everything. They love to see that kind of stuff if you send reports. Nine out of 10 times they’re not going to read the report, but because you sent it they know that you’re staying busy. We all know that reporting is key when you’re dealing with a client.
Then make sure to take some time. It’s important if you’re working in an environment with other people, if you’re not just marketing by yourself, if you have employees or if you have a partner or somebody that you’re doing this work with, it’s important that sometime in your work week, just like Google we play by an 80/20 rule here – 80% of the time you’re working hard, nose to the grindstone, the other 20% of the time spend some time being creative and having fun. We have a bags tournament that we play once a month here in the office where we’ll all get together and just play a game and chat. If you build morale you’re going to have better workers. If you have better workers you’re going to get better end products. When you have better end products you’re going to get better results in the SEO world, and you’re also going to farm a sense of community and togetherness.
I think I’ve covered just about everything that we have here for this week’s update.
The Local Marketing Industry Weekly Update, presented by Scott Gallagher. Scott is the co-founder of Local Marketing Source and has become the recognized expert in providing local marketing services to local businesses.
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