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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Branding-Reputation Mgt-SEO

Google’s Knowledge Graph Finally Shows Social Networks Not Named Google+

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By Matt McGee

Years after a controversy over a decision to promote its own social network, Google+, in search results, Google has begun linking to other social networks in its Knowledge Graph.

As first spotted by Bernd Rubel and reported by Search Engine Roundtable, Google is now showing icons for social sites including Facebook, Twitter and even MySpace and others. The Knowledge Graph panel on a search for “U2,” for example, shows links to the band’s profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, along with Google properties like YouTube and Google+.

social-links-knowledge-graph-800

The social links don’t appear in all Knowledge Graph panels, and different social sites will show up for different Knowledge Graph entities. Search for “Starbucks,” for example, and you’ll still only see the company’s recent Google+ posts. Search for “Bono” and you won’t see anything from any social network. Search for “Scarlett Johansson” and you’ll only see a Myspace icon and link. (She doesn’t have accounts on Twitter or Facebook, from what I can tell.)

The “Search Plus Your World” Controversy

The inclusion of other social sites in Knowledge Graph may not seem like a big deal, but it brings back memories of a huge controversy from a couple years ago.

Google found itself in hot water in early 2012 when it launched a new feature called “Search Plus Your World.” Part of the feature was that Google would show links and content from Google+ on the right side of its search results, ignoring other social networks where the person involved might be more active.

music - Google Search

Google was accused of favoring its own content ahead of potentially better results. One famous example was that Google would show a link to Mark Zuckerberg’s dormant Google+ account rather than his active Facebook profile. Some enterprising developers created a Don’t Be Evil tool that let users see links to other social networks below the Google+ content.

The move seemed to help Google at least in the short term when stars like Lady Gaga — who already had millions of fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter — suddenly joined Google+.

That controversy has long since died down, but Google does continue to face accusations that it favors its own content in search results. If nothing else, adding links to Facebook, Twitter and other social sites in the Knowledge Graph might help Google deflect some of those charges in the future.

The post Google’s Knowledge Graph Finally Shows Social Networks Not Named Google+ appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Getting Started With Paid Promotions

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By anthonycoraggio

Posted by anthonycoraggio

I’m receiving more and more questions from clients about how best to leverage paid content distribution and paid social platforms (here referred to together as ‘paid promotions’). There’s a lot of reason for increased interest—as content production has ramped up in digital marketing, it has become harder and harder to stand out from the crowd and reach the audience you want. Facebook shutting down companies’ free lunch social distribution has only further pressed the issue—and sometimes you’ve simply maxed out on other paid channels!

But more than simply being an extra ‘pay to play’ option, paid promotion is a crucial part of any holistic digital marketing strategy. By using the range of paid online promotion and advertising tools available, we can take more comprehensive control in presenting the best user experience throughout the funnel—delivering the right content, at the right time, to the right person. There are three primary functions of paid promotions:

  • Improve the breadth and depth of content distribution
  • Use powerful targeting to drive more qualified traffic
  • Capture, retain, and shepherd qualified users to ultimately produce conversions

How and why you might use paid promotions will of course vary quite a bit, but regardless of your end goal, there are two key tasks for anyone seeking to succeed in doing so. Do these two things right, and you will have laid a solid foundation for achieving your goals.

First…

1. Define and target a specific audience

Defining a target audience in digital advertising or paid promotions is a more exacting exercise than usual, because we’re actually operationalizing a definition that can be precisely carried out by setting controls in a PPC-like interface. Think of it like programming a computer—you need to break down your definition in extremely concrete, exclusive terms that are interpretable by the tool you’re using. Don’t despair though—it’s not hard to do, and if you’ve been a good marketer and developed some proper user personas you’ll be ahead of the game!

Answer these questions to set a concrete definition of the people that should be targeted with a given campaign or content release. These are typically going to be the criteria you actually enter into an interface when starting a promotions campaign on a tool like Facebook or StumbleUpon.


Demographic Information – Our ideal target for this content is…


Age
- Many platforms will offer simple age based targeting, usually in the form of your typical “18-24, 25 – 36″ type brackets.


Gender
– Again, this is a simple demographic setting and is often available. Think about setting up separate ‘A/B’ versions to separately address men and women when relevant!


Education Level/Status
– Is your audience in school? Have they completed a degree? Facebook and LinkedIn will let you drill in on these parameters.


Geography
– Be as specific as possible. Generally, the combination of a state/province and a metro area level is as granular as geotargeting options go.

There are a few more options you can find on places like Facebook -income level, marital status, employment status, and more can be particularly useful in B2C contexts.

Many platforms will also give you an opportunity to define your target audience by interests, so think about what relevant topics or subjects the target user might be particularly interested in or looking for while online! For example,
likes for travel blogs, language learning sites, famous travel writers, country specific cuisine, etc all can be used to converge on a very specific type of person.

2. Choose promotion channels

Once your target audience has been defined and the above questions answered with the best data available, you must consider the channels or platforms that will best make use of it. There are three major factors:

  1. Which platforms have targeting capabilities and an audience that can best replicate the user profile using their targeting?

    • Remember to weight the user’s expected online behavior heavily in selecting platforms – while one might offer targeting to match the most targeting characteristics, if your audience does not actively use the platform’s core service it is of little value as a promotional channel.
  2. Which platforms can best present the media to be promoted?
    • It is important not to detract from the user’s experience of the content, or place it in a channel that does not fit it’s form. A long form video, for example, will not usually fare well in skippable preroll spots or on-site rollover placements.
    • Remember also that use of different platforms can depend on device – and so might the usability of your content!
    • What behavioral context is preferable to achieve your objectives for this piece?

I strongly recommend taking a few minutes to browse around as a user when making these decisions, in order to think less abstractly about the experience you aim to create. Choosing channels is often a case-by-case process, but for common objectives there are some simple, intuitive guidelines to keep in mind:

  • If you want your content shared, promote it on channels that have built-in sharing capabilities (social media, StumbleUpon).
  • If you want users to feel they’ve ‘discovered’ a piece, focus on content plug-ins (Outbrain, Zemanta, etc), discovery tools (StumbleUpon), and more niche placements (subreddits, subject blogs)—depending on the accessibility/simplicity.
  • If your goal is a high level of direct exposure for content at a low price, content discovery plugins and display ad networks can deliver. Cost is relatively low and inventory is high, so it’s easy to get eyeballs on your work.
  • If conveying authority is important, officially sponsored or openly disclosed promotions on respected media platforms or with trusted individual publishers can be a good tool—though often more expensive.

It can be useful to combine these guidelines to plan for more complex goals. For example, if you want to convey a sense of ‘discovery’ but also encourage sharing, StumbleUpon Paid Discovery could fulfill both these needs—the sponsorship is subtle, the user is in ‘discovery mode’, and SU has a social sharing frame right on top of the page. If that audience isn’t engaged enough, you might bring traffic to a piece via Reddit and retarget for sharing on Twitter.

Planning for promotion should not be an exclusively post hoc activity—the content itself should be created with intended placement and utility in mind. Engage early in the process as goals for the content are first set, so that creative development and objectives do not ultimately conflict with the feasibility of promotions. Simply being involved in the conversation to flag potential problems is often enough!

Think outside of yourself…

One of the most critical parts of this framework is leveling what you want to achieve with what users will accept and value in a given medium, so I want to take a moment to reinforce the importance of this.

In answering questions of targeting and placement in a performance-driven world, it can be dangerously easy to think egocentrically, only in terms of what YOU want your customer to do in a given context—or more insidiously,
what you want them to want to do. Remember that as a marketer or advertiser you are necessarily carrying tremendous baggage, both in terms of product knowledge and expectations. It’s tremendously important to step back from your own (or your company’s) perspective and think as a user.

What you ultimately need to reach your goals isn’t necessarily what individuals using one of these channels wants when doing so, or are ready to do. Take the time to understand your audience and reach out to them in a way will resonate with the journey they are on.

What considerations do you pay special attention to when promoting content? Are there areas of the discipline you’d love to learn more about? Hit me back in the comments!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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SearchCap: Twitter Renews Focus On SEO, Facebook’s New Places Directory & Mobile Search, Shopping & Buying Tips

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By Amy Gesenhues

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

From Search Engine Land:

  • EBay Dumps Google Syndicated Ads For Bing Ads On Mobile Devices
    Quietly, eBay has dumped Google AdWords sponsored text ads from mobile devices in favor of Bing Ads. The move was noticed by RKG, the agency’s Director of Research, Mark Ballard, wrote about the change today. EBay serves syndicated text ads at the bottom of category search pages as a way to further monetize its content, […]
  • Twitter: Renewed Focus On SEO Generated 10 Times More Visitors
    Think social media has killed search as a traffic driver? Think again, given that social media giant Twitter shared today that SEO has helped it generate a 10-times increase in logged-out visitors to its web site. The news came during the Twitter Analyst Day event today. Twitter’s director of product management Trevor O’Brien said the company made […]
  • Philae Google Logo Marks Incredible Accomplishment Of ESA’s Rosetta Mission To Land Probe On Comet
    Google wasted no time acknowledging the incredible accomplishment of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) successful Rosetta mission today, updating its homepage with a space-themed Google logo featuring the ESA Philae probe that landed on Comet 67P. Launched all the way back in March 2004, the Rosetta mission is the first controlled touchdown on a comet’s […]
  • Facebook Launches New Places Directory
    Facebook has launched a new Places Directory, which is really an emerging local search site. Right now, it’s more accurately like “guided browsing.” It was first brought to our attention by Matteo Gamba. The new Places mixes up Graph Search, the Page Locations API and other elements to make the directory a worthy supplement for […]
  • In A Big Shift, Google’s Latest Ad Test Drives Users To Google Shopping, Not Advertisers’ Sites
    Google is experimenting with a new format for Google Shopping ads, this time on brand searches. The example shown above showcases products from jeweler David Yurman by category — rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings — on a search for the brand. This screen shot was sent to Search Engine Land anonymously last week, but RKG […]
  • The 4 Cs Driving Mobile Search, Shopping & Buying
    Mobile is driving the evolution of shopping behaviors. Contributor John Cosley explores how marketers can meet consumer needs and win customers.
  • Ranking First Is Good, But First With Prerender Is Better
    How do you know when you’ve got a strong hold on the #1 ranking? Contributor Gene McKenna shows how Google Chrome may provide a clue.

Recent Headlines From Marketing Land, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Internet Marketing:

Search News From Around The Web:

Industry

Link Building

SEM / Paid Search

SEO

The post SearchCap: Twitter Renews Focus On SEO, Facebook’s New Places Directory & Mobile Search, Shopping & Buying Tips appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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6 Blog Intros That Reel ‘Em In by @matt_secrist

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By Matt Secrist

When executed properly, a blog can be a great way to improve SEO, build your brand, and create ongoing customer loyalty. A well-executed blog is comprised of a good topic, a catchy title, sufficient keyword use, good images, appropriate links to your website and, of course, good content, right? Wrong. You can have all of these elements, but if your first paragraph does not grab people from the get-go, nothing else really matters. In order to get the full benefit from your blog (ROI if you want to use business-speak), it must be read. There is far too much content […]

The post 6 Blog Intros That Reel ‘Em In by @matt_secrist appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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How Successful Marketers Use Pinterest to Drive Conversions (And How You Can Too)

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By Sharon Hurley Hall

Here’s a pretty crazy stat: Pinterest users pin more than 3,400 pins a minute. That’s good news for marketers using it in their campaigns – the more time people spend interacting with pins, the more exposure they have to your brand and the more likely they are to convert. And I’ve got the numbers to prove it: Shopify research that shows that Pinterest users are 10% more likely to buy than those referred from other social sites. Pinterest drives 300% more revenue per click than Twitter and 27% more than Facebook. With all this opportunity to convert leads, people are finding […]

The post How Successful Marketers Use Pinterest to Drive Conversions (And How You Can Too) appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Quick & Easy Guide to Tracking Across Multiple Domains & Subdomains in Google Analytics

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By Tom.Capper

Posted by Tom.Capper

Out of the box, Google Analytics handles being deployed across multiple domains or subdomains extremely poorly. This is easily the most common critical problem in Google Analytics, despite its being relatively easy to fix.

Depending on your situation, one or more of a few simple steps may be appropriate. Look for the entry in the left-hand column below that best describes your situation, and make sure you’ve taken the steps listed on the right:

Situation Implementation Check-list
Single subdomain
  • Standard Google Analytics
Multiple subdomains or domains, which are treated as separate sites
Multiple subdomains on a single domain which are treated as a single site
Multiple domains with one or more subdomains that are treated as a single site

As a word of warning, several steps in this document differ according to the tracking code in use, and in these cases I suggest options for each tracking code type. If you’re unsure of your current implementation:

  • ga.js / doubeclick.js: Your source code will contain several “_gaq.push” commands
  • analytics.js tracking code: Your source code will contain “ga(‘create'” and “ga(‘send'” commands
  • Google Tag Manager: You have an analytics tag in your Google Tag Manager account (which I will assume is set to “Universal Analytics”)

If you have updated your Google Analytics interface to Universal Analytics but you’re still using the old code, you should follow the recommendations for the old (ga.js / doubleclick.js) tracking code here.

Using separate tracking IDs

Tracking IDs are the unique codes that you’re given when you create a Google Analytics property, and look something like “UA-123456-1″. Any page with that tracking ID, regardless of the site it’s on, will send data to that property.

While it is possible to use the same tracking ID across multiple domains or subdomains and then view them each in isolation using filtered views, the only advantage of doing so is having access to one aggregated view. For the data in this aggregated view to be meaningful, it will need to ignore self-referrals, and this is configured at the property level, meaning that all views will ignore self-referrals, thus leaving the (sub)domain-specific views with a load of “direct” traffic that actually came from sister sites.

This means that you end up choosing between incorrect data in your aggregate view and incorrect data in your specific view. If you do want to be able to have meaningful data in both specific and aggregate views, you could consider having one tracking ID that’s used across all sites and additional tracking IDs for each individual site. For details on implementation, check Google’s guidelines
here (and also here if you use Google Tag Manager).

Ignoring self-referrals

A “self-referral” is when one of the sources of traffic to your own site is your own site. They make it very difficult to work out what channels are being effective in driving conversions, because they leave you with missing data for some sessions.

Self referrals don’t just screw up your attribution data. They also trigger new sessions, thus ruining your key metrics and making it extremely hard to track the routes individuals take through your site. Fortunately, they’re really easy to deal with.

If you have the old ga.js (or doubleclick.js) tracking code, simply add your domains as ignored referrers in your tracking code:

If you need to ignore multiple domains using ga.js or doubleclick.js tracking code, add multiple lines like this one. In either case, make sure that they come between the “setAccount” and “trackPageview” lines.

If you’re using analytics.js tracking code, it’s even easier:

Navigate to Admin -> Tracking Info -> Referral Exclusion list, and you can add any referrers you want to ignore. Note that although this feature can appear in your Google Analytics user interface even if you’re using the old ga.js tracking code, it will only work with analytics.js.

Prepend hostname to request URIs

A “hostname” is the name that Google Analytics gives to the subdomain that a pageview originated from. Request URIs are the names you see in reports when you set a dimension like “landing page”, “page” or “previous page path”.

Any view that includes data from multiple domains or subdomains runs the risk of aggregating data from multiple pages and considering them the same page. For example, if your site includes “blog.example.com/index.html” and “example.com/index.html”, these will be merged in reports under “/index.html”, and you’ll never have any idea how effective or otherwise your blog and homepage are.

You can overcome this using an advanced filter:

In the example, this means that we’d see “www.example.com/index.html” as a page in reports, rather than just “/index.html”, and metrics that rely on telling the difference between the pages will report their real levels.

Ga.js / doubleclick.js only: Set domain name

For users of the new analytics.js tracking code or a Universal Analytics tag in Google Tag Manager, this step is unnecessary: Unless configured to do otherwise, the cookie is now automatically stored at the highest level possible so as to avoid being subdomain-specific. However, when using the old tracking code, Google Analytics needs a cookie location to be set in the tracking code so that it doesn’t lose it when moving between subdomains.

All this means in practice is a simple additional line in your tracking code, between the “_setAccount” and “_trackPageview” lines:

This should always be set to your domain without any subdomain – e.g. moz.com, distilled.net – not
www.moz.com or www.distilled.net.

Cross-domain linking

By default, Google Analytics looks for a cookie on the same domain as the page. If it doesn’t find one, it assumes that a new visit has just begun, and starts a new session. When moving between domains, the cookie cannot be transferred, so information about the session must be passed by “decorating” links with tracking information.

Don’t panic; this recently got dozens of times easier with the advent of the
autoLink plugin for analytics.js. If your site spans multiple domains and you’re not already using Google’s latest analytics tracking code, this feature should justify the upgrade on its own.

If you can’t upgrade for any reason, I won’t cover the necessary steps for the old ga.js tracking code in this post, but you can find Google’s documentation
here.

If you’re using on-page analytics.js tracking code, you can implement the autoLink plugin by making some modifications to your tracking code:

  1. Tells analytics.js to check whether the linker parameter exists in the URL and is less than 2 minutes old
  2. Loads the autoLink plugin
  3. The autoLink command is passed domains and two parameters. The first sets whether the linking parameters are in the anchor (rather than the query) portion of the URL, and the second enables form decoration (as well as link decoration).

In Google Tag Manager, it’s easier still, and just requires two additional options in your Universal Analytics tag:

In conclusion

Setting up analytics to properly handle multiple domains or subdomains isn’t difficult, and not bothering will invalidate your data. If you have any questions or tips, please share them in the comments below.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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