Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Pandas, Penguins and Website Rankings

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You may have heard about Google Panda and Penguin updates and penalties, but what do they really mean and why should you care?

Panda and Penguin are both filters and penalties in the Google algorithms that adversely affect the rankings of what Google considers to be low-quality websites. Panda is mostly about low-quality content on a website. Penguin is mostly about webspam, especially low-quality links pointing to a website (a.k.a. inbound links or backlinks). Some sites suffer from downgrading for both practices.

These algorithms are often refreshed (re-run), and updated (changed and re-run). Google also gives each refresh a version number, to make each update easier to identify. It is helpful for people who work in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to know about specific updates: for example, the Penguin 2.0 update, which took place in May 2013.

Business Tips

Social Media Measurement, Thoughts & Ideas

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Social media measurement has been a slippery slope in the online marketing world. Here are a few suggestions for measuring social media based on a few experiences with some of my clients.

Over 200 people will fill the Jepson Auditorium at Gonzaga tonight to discuss how social media has changed the face of business. It should be a great discussion as social media has evolved to a point where it does positively impact many businesses. But how? What are the businesses trying to achieve? I hear a lot of comments like these:

“I just gotta get on Facebook! I feel like I’m behind the curve.”

“I need a Twitter strategy,… Now!”

But that’s not true. You don’t HAVE to be on Facebook or Twitter. The answer is,… it depends. Yeah, it might be a good idea for your business. It might be a super-duper awesome idea. But where is your audience? What are your goals? My Local University amigo Matt McGee always has the same answer when asked about social media platforms.

Be on the social media platforms where your customers are.

Yep, good advice. For example, Chris Reilly and I performed a social media audit for a client a few years back to measure the effectiveness of their internal social media efforts. Guess what? 93% of their audience was blocked at the firewall. Their particular industry is pretty conservative and the big bosses don’t want their people on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. Blocked at the firewall. Dang. But guess what? They were on old-school technical forums and still go to industry events. Lesson learned: go where your customers are.

But there’s a question even more important than where to go.


I don’t hear a lot of talk about “the why” so I thought this would be a good opportunity to throw out a few reasons for businesses to put forth a social media effort and how to measure effectiveness.

1) Mitigate Risk

Social media is real-time customer service rocket fuel! Have a potential PR issue? Have a mad customer ready to rant online to the hungry, drooling masses about how much you suck? Social media has an amazing ability to cut that off at the pass. Because guess what,… even with the best of intentions things go wrong from time to time. But now businesses are able to stop PR disasters before they even start. This prevents bad reviews, bad news reports and ultimately helps protect their reputation.

This comes down to delivering awesome real-time customer service.

Where once a bad customer experience would be re-told to ten people it now has potential to reach tens of thousands (or even more if it goes truly viral). Preventing this from happening (in my opinion) is the most important aspect of social media for many mid-size to large companies. As Mike Blumenthal often says, “Once you had to treat the customer right. Now, you have to treat them right-er.”

How do you measure treating your customers right-er? Reviews.

I’ve worked with Paul Warner at Northern Quest for the past year. As part of of his responsibilities Paul has been responding to issues that have come up from time to time via Facebook and Twitter. In addition, he has responded to every online review of the hotel they could find with another member of the Northern Quest team. Here’s a look at that impact on Trip Advisor alone:

1.4 Star Rating of average “bad tone” reviews prior to 2012 (65 reviews)
2.6 Star rating of average “bad tone” review for the past 12 months (63 reviews)
86% Improvement

4.27 Overall Star Rating for reviews prior to 2012
4.43 Overall Star Rating for reviews in the past 12 months

3.75% Improvement (While this is a smaller percentage 4.43 is almost 4.5 stars. I’ll bet this makes an impact.)

Like I mentioned earlier, things happen from time to time. By addressing them head-on a business can own the issue, whatever it is. It also keeps that review based more on facts and less on emotion. Here’s an example of a response to a hotel guest that wrote in their review that their room was too hot:

After reading your review, we checked into the temperature controls in our rooms. Each room is set to 68 degrees upon a guest’s arrival, but the temperature can be adjusted from 35 to 95 degrees. After a guest checks out of the room, the temperature is set back to 68 degrees.

Now this doesn’t fix the issue for this particular guest. But it shows other that they actually read their online reviews and respond accordingly. Here’s an example of how Paul and the Northern Quest team handled a power outage and unplanned fire alarms:

“We had a bit of anger stemming from a power outage incident on the floor and hotel as well as some unplanned fire alarms. We dealt with them via Facebook and Twitter (in addition to staff on the floor). We had to deal with complaints about tickets not getting cashed out, not being able to check in, having to leave machines, not able to get tickets etc. We were able to respond and share information in real time with them as to how we were resolving issues and to whom to talk regarding concerns on the floor/hotel. We addressed all issues within an hour of the incident(s) and had most people thanking us for info and response.”

Obviously a lot is in-play when it comes to what causes a good hotel review and/or preventing a bad review. Northern Quest has improved top to bottom in terms of providing exceptional customer service. Not all of this can be attributed to addressing reviews and preventing bad reviews via social media. Still, it has a definite impact.

2) Extend Brand

All companies have a vibe in addition to services and products they want to sell. Generating a larger following of people that are aware of, and are interested in your brand is good for business. And by brand I mean everything about your business and the individuals who are publicly a part of it. At Local University our brand is based on our expert knowledge of SEO, Local Search, and how we can help businesses learn more about online marketing strategies and tactics to succeed. We want to be known as content experts. We also want to be known as nice, generous, approachable people. Blogging is a big way for us to extend our brand by creating valuable content. One of the ways we track that is by a dashboard called “Blog Intent.”

As you can see, we know how many visitors read our blog posts, where they come from, what they read, and if they have interest in us putting on a seminar in their city. Nice! That’s a handy little dashboard.

3) Create Dialog

Genuine two-way communication is possible now like never before. In the 90’s most sales people would say “If I could just get them on the phone I’d have a good chance of selling our products/services.” We now have a much better opportunity for that first conversation. But notice I didn’t list the goal as “selling.” Yes, people have sold things via social media, but (in my opinion) often at the expense of chasing others away with their chatter and over-selling. Yet, social media does provide an great first interaction with a prospective customer to learn about what you have to offer. And this can be measured with “assisted conversions” and other techniques. Awesome! Because it takes a team to sell well. You wouldn’t want five point guards or five power forwards. But put them together and you have pure magic. Or Jazz 🙂

It’s great that everyone is getting together to talk about the state of social media in Spokane. I hope this helps plant a few seeds of thought around the why and a few ideas how to measure your campaign. For those interested in leaning more about how to measure via analytics we’ll be teaching a Google Analytics class on April 18th from 11:30am to 1pm at the Nector Tasting Room for $39. Fill out our contact form and say you saw about it at the Social Media Event at Gonzaga and the cost is $29.

Business Tips

Analytics Information, Presentation, & Tips

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It’s been a busy week. Last week I presented at the monthly Spokane Ad Federation Luncheon, this weekend I spoke for The Richardson Group, and today I was scheduled to speak at our sold-out Get Listed Local University event in Western New York. While last-minute family obligations kept me from attending, my Local University homies are killing it! Just check out their Twitter stream.

My purpose for this post is to provide supporting analytics information, my analytics introduction presentation, and tips so that business owners can use their web data to help grow their business.

Getting Started with Google Analytics
If you have the time (and it does take a while) I recommend going through Google’s Conversion University to learn all about Google Analytics. That said, they’re a bit on the dry side (understatement) and take a while to get through. However, this great Google Analytics installation video from Ian Lurie of Portent Interactive gets you started in just over ten minutes.

What You Need to Know
There’s a lot of advice out there when it comes to analytics. The tips I’m interested have nothing to do with reporting. They’re all about gaining insight from the data and doing something with it to improve your business! And there’s only one name you need to know when it comes to gaining true analytics insight. That name is Avinash. He has done more to advance true analytics insight that anyone on the planet. Here are a few of his essential posts:

The Beginner’s Guide to Web Data Analysis
Web Analytics Segmentation: Do or Die, There is no Try!
Web Analytics Definitions: Goals, Metrics, KPIs, Dimensions, Targets
The Best Social Media Metrics

Presentations & Examples

Here are my most recent analytics presentation. Please feel free to download or share.

Introduction to Analytics

View more presentations from Sixth Man Marketing

One of the things I really emphasize when I present is the importance of understanding what’s important to YOUR business. Don’t worry about all of the metrics, pay attention to the ones that impact YOUR business. For example, my wife Tine is the Executive Director of a nonprofit called Bloom Spokane. Their #1 business driver is the number of people that attend their in-person classes. So we measure that as a KPI. Here’s how we look at it in a custom dashboard.

My Quick Guide to Using Website Data to Grow Your Business

1) Understand what’s important to measure when it comes to YOUR business. Every business is unique. Learn what’s important to measure, learn from your insights as well as mistakes and make improvements.

2) Get your hands dirty and learn this stuff! It’s powerful, people! I know you’re busy, but your business will benefit greatly from this information once you take the time to learn it a bit.

3) Take action! You don’t need to be an analytics ninja to take advantage of this stuff. You can make improvements to your website today by just taking a few suggestions from the information in this blog post not to mention the mountain of valuable information from my Get Listed friends.

I wish I was in Western New York with all of you today! I know you’re getting a TON of valuable information from the Get Listed crew. Be sure to take full advantage of it!

Events & Presentations

How to Dominate with Data – A Spokane Ad Federation Presentation

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Last week I spoke at the Spokane Ad Federation luncheon about how to dominate with website data. It was their Fall 2011 kickoff luncheon and I had a blast! We had a full room ready to gain analytics insight and ask some great questions!We even had a group of a dozen members of the University of Idaho’s own advertising group. It was really cool that they made the two hour drive from Moscow, Idaho for the presentation. OK, they also had a visit with advertising agency Magner / Sandborn. But I still appreciated their attendance and participation. They must’ve stayed a good 45 minutes after things winded down. They asked some great questions and are really fired up about getting started in the industry.

We went through a lot of real-world examples and talked in detail about ways to gain insight from data that are actually actionable. Yeah, I’m talking about immediately making improvements to your website based on analytics insight.

Here’s the full presentation for those that attended and others that might find if helpful.

Dominate with Data

View more presentations from Sixth Man Marketing

For additional questions about topics from this presentation I’d like to recommend:

Best Social Media Metrics – Avinash Kaushik

Google Analytics Training Videos

Events & Presentations

Introduction to Google Analytics

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I’ll be teaching an introduction to Google Analytics class next Thursday from 11:30-1pm at the LaunchPad Lounge and created a three minute video preview of the content for the class. Take a look at the video to get an idea of what we’ll be covering in the 90 minute training session. Intro to Analytics Video […]

Events & Presentations

Awesome Analytics, Local Search, SEO, Social Media, & Converstion Rate Optimization Info

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A big thank you to The Spokane Club and everyone that attended my presentation earlier this week at their Networking Breakfast! I really appreciated your questions, engagement, and enthusiasm. As I mentioned during our session, I want to provide additional resources for you to continue your education in the ways of analytics, SEO, local search, social media, and conversion rate testing. We covered a lot of topics in a short period of time and as a follow-up I wanted to create an awesome resource library for you. Now it’s time for you to choose your own Internet marketing adventure and learn from the best and brightest in the industry.