low hanging fruit

Picking Low-Hanging Fruit: Using Social Signals to Boost Search Rankings

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Ever since Matt Cutts announced that Google was, indeed, factoring social signals in their search rankings and results (not that we were surprised) back in December 2010, marketers have looked for ways to use signals to enhance their presence in search results. It was a no brainer here at 451 Marketing – we’ve been integrating search and social media tactics for years. Picking social keywords, optimizing social posts, and making all content socially portable and search-friendly.

 

One of my favorite ways to demonstrate the power of social signals is a method we’ve coined, “Low-Hanging Fruit.” Low hanging fruit are keywords– which you may or may not be tracking – that you rank for on page 2 of Google search results. The idea is simple – target terms that you currently rank on page 2 for and usual social to push them over the edge to page 1. Say you have a term that you currently rank 12 or 13 for. You’re so close to being on page one but will only get a tiny fraction of the traffic that position 5 or 6 will get.

 

Why is it so important? Only 7-10 results in Google for a search appear on page one. And these results are prime real estate. 75% of searchers never scroll past the first page of search results according to Search Engine Journal. Getting past the page 2 plateau can really boost search traffic around a specific term which can significantly boost the business value on that term.

 

How do we use the low hanging fruit approach? First, run a report that ranks the top keywords for your site. We prefer to use Conductor Searchlight, but you can also use Google Webmaster tools, it just takes a bit more elbow grease.

 

Take a look at all the terms for which you rank in positions 11-20. Of those terms, see which ones have high search volume. In the case below, we see in Conductor that our client (we’ve hidden their name for confidentiality reasons), a home décor company, ranks #15 and #19 for “8×8 rugs” and “8×8 rug.”

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This is our low hanging fruit. We share with our social media team that we want them to push out posts about 8×8 rugs that the client makes for the upcoming week across channels.

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And while posting alone is helpful for SEO, the real boost comes from social sharing. Our social team posts compelling content (and even contests and promotions) around 8×8 rugs. The more shares, links, likes, retweets, or +1s (this is Google we’re talking about, after all), the more relevance Google will attribute to you around that term.

 

Over a few weeks of targeting and posting low hanging fruit terms, we can see a definitive growth in our Low hanging fruit (Page 2) Keywords that turned into page one rankings.

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The caveat to this approach is just like any other SEO effort: we don’t control Google’s algorithm. Therefore, we can’t be sure this will work on every single keyword we try (spoiler alert: it doesn’t). For the most part, though we are seeing huge success on the majority of the keyword that we push through social signals.

What are you doing to boost your SEO though social? Let us know!

 

 

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How to Get Keyword Data From (Not Provided) in Google Analytics

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Ah the dreaded (not provided). Implemented by Google back in October of 2011, this little piece of (seemingly) useless data has grown from a small nuisance to the bane of my existence as an SEO. In fact a new study  has shown that 39% of search related traffic from Google to websites now has search terms withheld. Keep in mind that at its inception, Google predicted it would make up less than 10%.  For those that report to clients regularly, trying to explain away a piece of data that has grown to such heights has become tougher and tougher.

For those who need a little background: the designation (not provided) has been showing up in Google Analytics keyword reports for over a year now. Essentially, when a user is logged into his or her Google account (via Gmail, Google+ etc) any keywords they use in Google searches get obfuscated by Google via a Secure Session. Without getting too technical. Google is blocking analytics from seeing which keyword a logged in user typed in to visit your site. The ramifications for brands and SEO’s alike are detrimental. How can we optimize our pages if we don’t know what user typed in to reach that page? Moreover, how can we improve conversions if we don’t know what words are actually driving the conversion

 

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Many SEO experts, including the ones here at 451 Marketing have tried to make sense of the data and come up with a clever way of teasing out the keywords for (not provided) visits.

Thanks to some testing, some after work conversations with other SEO’s and a great article from Search Engine Land, we have a workable solution for determining (most of) the keywords hidden by (not provided).

When analyzing keyword data in analytics we are used to seeing something like this:

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However there is a great Google Analytics custom filter that allows you to see a great deal of the (not provided) data. While you still will not be able to see the keyword that provided the click, you will be able to see the landing page. Using the example above, this particular site received 13,573 visits from organic search in January.  Of those visits, 2,196 were attributed (not provided). That is just over 16% of the keyword data lost.

After implementing custom filter in a separate profile we set up (more on setting that up in a bit) we are now able to see, within the keyword data, the top landing pages of the logged in searcher.

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The newly filtered (not provided) information can still be found within the keywords and marked with an “np-landing page”. I simply sorted data to show the top (not provided) data for the purpose of this exercise.

In the case of this site, 523 visits (about 25% of (not provided) data) were to the home page. From this I can say quite confidently that branded traffic is most likely responsible. Again, it is not 100% guaranteed, but we are a lot closer to providing analysis using the filter than we were when we first started the exercise.

If your category , subcategory and product pages have optimized URL’s the rest of the list should give you an idea of the keywords that drove the visit. Again, it’s not 100%, but it’s a deeper view than you had before.

 

Setting Up Filter Not Provided Profile

Once you have set up a new profile in analytics you are ready to create the filter that will give you this juicy data to analyze. I aptly name this new profile “Not Provided”.

Once you’ve set up the new profile, you can immediately create your advanced filter. Click on the “Filters” Tab and click the “New Filter” button.

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You’re going to create a New Custom Filter that looks just like this:

 

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Depending on the amount of (not provided) data you receive month to month, there are advanced segments within custom report sharing that eliminates all (not provided) data from the results. This is only recommended for those sites seeing low single-digit site impact (2-3%). This is not an option for us as the majority of clients we deal with have been seeing 12-20% impact per site.

So there you have it, a sure way to alter (not provided) into useful, actionable data. There is also a method for doing this that uses Google Webmaster tools, Google Analytics and some pivot tables. It’s more advanced so we wanted to start with showing you how to use GA only. We’ll post the tutorial for using the advanced method in an upcoming blog feature.

Do you have a better way to tease out the (not provided) data? Let us know!

5 Easy Things you can do to Increase your Online Visibility Today

Making your website friendly to search engines is absolutely critical to improving your website’s online visibility. By increasing your natural rankings in search engines like Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and Bing you will increase the visibility of your website, while simultaneously increasing the quality of your web traffic. Natural rankings are the results search engines generate by using their various algorithms, without taking into account any paid search (PPC) efforts.

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the best marketing techniques when it comes to increasing the online visibility of a website, and is critical to any company that wants their website to be seen and found by their target audience. The actual process of optimizing a website is long and involved, but here are 5 quick and easy ways to start improving your online visibility today:

Use strategic keywords to find your audience – This is easily the most important step in any SEO campaign. When someone wants to find something they will search for it in Google, or another search engine, by using keywords to describe what they are looking for. You will want to pick strategic and relevant keywords for every page on your site that describe what your services are all about and how they provide solutions to your clients challenges. But that’s not it; you need to make sure that the keywords or phrases you select are words that your target audience will actually search for. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. What are their needs, challenges and pain points? What specific terms would they search for to help them find solutions. You can even ask your neighbors, co-workers and friends what they would search for too; you’ll be surprised what they will come up with!

Use your title tags – I constantly come across websites that are not using their title tags to their advantage. Title tags are what appear in the title bar of your browser, and are one of the many pieces of data that search engines scroll when determining what the content on the page is all about. Use the strategic keywords you selected and give each page a unique title. Try to limit your titles to only include one or two key phrases to avoid keyword saturation.

Don’t forget about your Meta information – Every page on a website should be treated individually and should have it’s own unique description and Meta tags. Write a sentence or two that best captures the content of that page, and try to include your keyword in it. Try to limit your descriptions to 180 characters or less— the shorter the better!

Quality Content – Ensure that constant generation of fresh, interesting and relevant content one of your top priorities. Get your keywords into your content wherever and whenever it makes sense. The key here is to keep your user experience in mind; do not flood your content with keywords that do not fit logically. This looks messy, confusing and lends to a very poor user experience on your website. Your user is always your top priority, so only use keywords in your content that make sense.

Links, links, links…and more links – This is one I can not stress enough. Think of a link as a vote of confidence or quality that search engines use to determine the relevance, and therefore page rank, of a page on your website. The more votes, the higher the rank. Good places for links are article and news sharing sites, directories, and other similar sites. Links are critical to the success of building your online visibility, you can never have enough!

Anything else to add? Have some great success stories? Share your comments here!

-Louisa Plank