What to Include in a Web Site Audit

What to include in a web site auditThe other day, I found the very first web site audit that I ever performed for a client’s site, way back in 2000. The page load times were hilarious!

But it got me thinking about how things have changed over the years and how sophisticated web site audits need to be these days. From the conversations I’ve had, there is still some confusion over what should be included in a web site audit.

This prompted me to write an article What to Include in a Web Site Audit which has been published over at SiteProNews.  Let me know what you think!

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How to Find Compelling Internet Statistics Without Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

If you’re like me, you do a lot of research online. Cat in a Cup

Whether I’m writing an article, preparing a slide deck, putting together a presentation or researching a subject for a client, I always seem to be hunting down compelling Internet statistics of one kind or another. Particularly topics like:

  • Number of US households with Internet access.
  • Latest search engine market share figures.
  • Most popular search terms for a particular year.
  • Number of Facebook users in a particular country.
  • Amount of e-commerce expenditure in past 12 months.

I always start a search for stats like these thinking it’s going to be a simple task and then end up down some bizarre rabbit hole, emerging two hours later with an amusing picture of a cat in a teacup.

To prevent this from happening again, I’ve bookmarked a list of *Go To* sites for Internet statistics in my Evernote account and today, (you lucky things!), I’m sharing them with you:

  • Internet World Stats – This site lists a range of Internet usage statistics sorted by country and population figures. The site is regularly updated and features a range of handy charts and graphs. There are also links to the latest Facebook usage statistics.
  • ComScore – The press releases and reports from ComScore are often geared to the search industry, so I can usually find something of relevance here related to my particular slide deck or training workshop. Their white papers and presentations are also fantastic sources of visual cues and infographics to help illustrate your points.
  • Forrester Research – Forrester is a prolific publisher of research documents, market reports, analysis and studies of all kinds and in all industries.  A common focus of their research is the impact of the Internet on business activity. Many of their reports are available for purchase, but they also regularly release synopsis’ of their more influential studies for public use through their media department.
  • Google Trends – Don’t overlook Google Trends as a source for useful web statistics and anecdotes. For example, if you enter a search for *mobile phones*, you can track Google’s search history for that phrase and related phrases since 2004 and note the peaks and troughs as the use of cell phones impacted our daily lives. The items highlighted with a letter of the alphabet are influential news items relating to the search term over the historical period. These make fun anecdotes for your presentation e.g. in 2010, Fox News reported that mobile phones have more bacteria on them than the handles on public toilets. Ewww.
  • Facebook Marketing Bible – The FMB apparently started life as an internal company manual and has now become a published guide to marketing your brand, company, product, or service on Facebook. The Facebook Marketing Bible includes summaries about the inner workings of Facebook, strategies to using Facebook for your business, specific how-tos, successful case studies, and insights from social media experts across the board. I include it in this list because it contains some of the most interesting Case Studies for using Facebook that I’ve come across and everyone knows that compelling case studies are the lifeblood of a successful presentation.
  • Nielsen – Nielsen is another prolific global research company. Anything that Nielsen publish quickly becomes extremely influential and many businesses make major decisions based on the data published by Nielsen. Their whitepapers and webinars are freely available for download once you register for the site and new reports are published every day. If I need stats quickly, I always start here.
  • Gartner Research – Gartner Group provide insightful research on the impact of the Internet and the increasing role of IT in business. Gartner’s specialty is technical research, particularly relating to applications development and business intelligence. Unlike Forrester, Gartner’s research is generally only available via paid subscription, but they do offer a 30 day free trial.
  • Simba Information – Simba offer market intelligence primarily for the media, education and publishing industries, but their research reports often include useful technology-related statistics e.g. *The iPad and its Owner: Key Trends and Statistics 2013*.
  • Google Zeitgeist – Google’s annual wrap of the most searched-for topics, year by year, country by country. Think of it as Google’s answer to the Guinness Book of Records.
  • Gap Minder Not strictly Internet related, but Gapminder is a non-profit site that publishes the World’s most important trends in the fields of wealth, health, global development and the environment. In their own words, Gapminder is a modern museum on the Internet with the intention of being a *fact tank* that promotes a fact-based world view. Gapminder produces videos, Flash presentations and PDF charts showing major global development trends with animated statistics in colorful graphics.

Hopefully this list has helped shorten your search time for compelling and useful Internet statistics and prevented you from falling victim to the Rabbit Hole syndrome. After all, the last thing we need on the Internet is more pictures of cats in teacups.

Postscript: Factbrowser has been suggested as a worthy addition to this page. Thanks Keith!

 

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Top Five Search Industry Blog Posts of the Week

Do you enjoy your morning coffee while sampling search industry news from your favourite blogs? We do.

So we thought – why not share our top five weekly favourites?

This week’s top five includes helpful info on: outreach emails, mobile marketing, duplicate content, link building, and social media campaigns gone wrong… Enjoy!

What Seperates a “Good” Outreach Email from a “Great” One? – Whiteboard Friday

Everybody’s doing it, but what seperates a “good” outreach email from a “great” one? What makes an “outreach” email – which is basically asking for a favour – stand out from the rest and connect with the reader?

Rand Fishkin from SEO Moz receives tonnes of emails every week from people hoping to make a connection with him and his hugely successful brand. Rand acknowledges the need for industry colleagues to assist each other, but says we need to keep things simple, be friendly without being pushy and be sure to offer something in return. In this post Rand describes the four key features of an outreach eamil that are sure to receive a favourable response.

SEO and Duplicate Content Issues that Hurt Google Traffic

This great post by Jill Whalen of High Rankings Advisor, is part of her promise to provide in-depth information about “SEO Killers” for 2013.

Duplicate content can easily creep into a site, either by accident or through mistaken SEO practices – such as building multiple landing pages which target different locations but have the same products. Jill draws upon her extensive experience as a 17-year Search Industry veteran to explain how to check for duplicate content, how to remove it and how to avoid it in the future.

The Broken Link Building Bible

The first thing I noticed about this post was the headline. Immediately I wanted to know – what’s “Broken Link Building”?

Russ Virante from Virante inc, describes it as, “a link building tactic where a marketer contacts a webmaster who has a broken link on his/her site and recommends one or more alternatives that include his/her target site.”

Sounds simple right? It is, on the surface. But like any effective link building strategy – it’s all in the detail.

Russ describes how to identify broken links on target sites using keyword research, methods of link extraction, 404 error checking and the importance of creating content that is worthy of being linked to. He also provides descriptions and links to a variety of tools that will help you in the process.

What Every Content Marketer Needs to Know About Mobile Marketing

Greg Hickman’s post on Copyblogger this week reminds us all to keep the power of “mobile marketing” in our attention when it comes to sharing content and making connections. According to Greg’s research, businesses that integrate a variety of mobile strategies generate the most leads, engagement, and sales.

In this post Greg describes four incredibly effective mobile strategies that can easily be  incorporated into any business. From harnessing the power of SMS, to ensuring landing pages have a clear and un-missable “call to action” button suitable for mobile devices – this blog post really got me thinking about how simple and direct content marketing needs to be in this increasingly mobile era.

Top Five Social Media Fails of 2012

I’ll finish this week’s ecclectic collection with this entertaining post about the power of social media to either enhance or detract from your brand.

Search Engine Journal’s Alech Barysevich has pieced together a noteworthy list of social media campaigns that did not turn out as their masters expected.

 

 

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A 3 Step Guide to Attracting Qualified Leads to Your Web Site

I was contacted recently by one of our graduates from Search Engine College. He wants to remain anonymous, so let’s call him Steve.

Since taking our course, Steve had managed to land a job as Director of Online Advertising for a famous plastic surgeon in Los Angeles. He had already used what he learned about SEO and PPC to increase traffic to the surgeon’s site by more than 40 percent. But he had run into a bit of a roadblock, which is why he contacted me.

Here’s part of Steve’s email:

“Although my client’s Internet inquiries have increased dramatically since last May when I started, we have apparently reached the wrong audience. Every inquiring patient bellyaches over the prices and tries to talk him down. Yet my client is a master surgeon with over 30 years experience, an instructor of cosmetic plastic surgery at two universities and has penned three books. I know how to find a more well-heeled audience in the world of print but how is it done on the Internet? What can I do differently with SEO, blogging and social media to find a more qualified group of patients for my client?”

In answering Steve’s email, I realized that there are probably many webmasters and online marketers in a similar situation : just how DO you attract the most appropriate target audience to your web site? Maybe you’ve got traffic generation covered, but how do you make sure the traffic you are receiving has the best potential to convert into sales/sign-ups?

Here’s the advice I gave Steve:

Step 1

Record how customers found your client’s site. Was it word of mouth or via the web site? Did they come from a search engine? What keywords did they type in? Make sure there is a *how did you find us?* option for every email, phone or walk-in inquiry. Closely track your client’s site analytics to see where the bulk of the traffic is coming from. Once you have a more solid understanding of your current customers, you are ready for the next step.

Step 2

Perform detailed keyword research so you know what keywords and phrases your particular target market is searching for in search engines. Start by looking at the keywords providing the most traffic to the site. It’s easy to assume that because your client offers “plastic surgery”, your customers type “plastic surgery” into Google to find your products, right? But the truth is, you don’t actually know what your client’s customers are searching for unless you research it. They might be typing in “facelifts” or “nose jobs” or “rhinoplasty”. One of the biggest mistakes online businesses make with search engine marketing is targeting the wrong keywords.

Next up, create a seed list of keywords. Basically, this is a brain dump of all the keywords and phrases you think your client’s preferred potential customers might type into a search engine to find the products and services he offers. You need to get inside the heads of your potential visitors/customers. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute and think what would YOU type in to a search engine if you wanted to find a site like yours? Start with the keywords you know existing customers and site visitors have used. Then pass that list around the office, to your client, to your friends and get everyone to add the keywords *they* would use to find those same products and services. Keep going until you’ve got at least 50 keywords/phrases. That’s your search term seed list.

Now take that list and enter it into an online keyword research tool such as Keyword Discovery, Raven Tools or even the Google Keyword Tool. These tools show you how many searches each keyword/phrase attracts each day. Use this information to narrow down your choices. Don’t bother with keywords that generate less than 20 searches per day. Look at the most popular keywords in your list and choose the ones that relate specifically to your client’s service. Revise, streamline and revise some more to come up with your final list of the most relevant target search terms.

If you want to avoid the tire kickers, you’ll probably want to remove search terms such as *cheap plastic surgery*, *inexpensive facelifts* and similar themes from your list. If you are running AdWords campaigns, this is a lot easier because you just add keywords like -cheap and -free etc. to your negative keyword list.

When you have your final target list, get to work integrating those keywords into your web pages, blog posts and AdWords campaigns using your SEO knowledge. This will ensure that you receive more traffic from persons entering your target keywords and less traffic from tire kickers. Your site visitors should also be more qualified leads and further along in the research / buying process so it should result in more surgical bookings.

Step 3

Set up social media monitoring to track mentions of your target keywords on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networking sites. There are several tools to do this, but here are a couple of the best:

- Raven Tools Social Monitor
- Google Alerts
- TweetBeep

When you see mentions of those target keywords, you or your client can contact the persons who made the post / tweet / status update to let them know of your client’s services. For example, say you are tracking the keyword phrase *rhinoplasty surgeon* and someone uses Twitter to tweet something like:

“@paminbeverlyhills: Can anyone recommend an excellent rhinoplasty surgeon in Beverly Hills? #lazyweb”

You will receive an alert and you can then approach that person on Twitter. Obviously this has to be done in a subtle, helpful way rather than coming across as pushy or spam-like. So your response might be something like:

“@beverlyhillssurgeon: Hey @paminbeverlyhills I saw your tweet earlier about seeking a rhinoplasty surgeon, just wanted to let you know we have over 30 years experience in rhinoplasty surgery. Let me know if we can help :-) *

This can be time-consuming, but well worth the effort because the leads are highly qualified and much more likely to convert.

Don’t forget, you can also use Facebook demographic targeting to promote your client’s business page or web site via Facebook advertising. For example, if you know that your client’s patients are mostly aged 40+ with tertiary education, you can choose to have the ads show only to Facebook users who meet that demographic. You can do the same thing using demographic targeting in Google AdWords.

Follow these 3 steps and start attracting more qualified leads to your web site. When you are tracking just the keywords and search phrases that you know are highly relevant to your business and/or using demographic targeting, you are able to more accurately pinpoint your market and pick and choose your customers.

Tire kickers begone!

 

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Twitter Wins the US Election By a Landslide

Despite the final vote tally, Twitter was the clear winner of the 2012 US Presidential election.

No matter what your political bias, the Twitter feed for the past 24 hours has captured the highest and lowest points, the heckling, the gags, the tantrums and the vote count. Once again, Twitter was the place to be to get the most up to date vote tally as State by State fell to each of the candidates. With news agencies reporting inconsistent or biased results, confused voters turned to Twitter to get faster updates via the hashtags #Election2012, #USElection and #USAElection.

According to Twitter staff, election conversation saw Twitter reach a peak of 327,452 Tweets per minute this evening, with not a single Fail Whale in sight – something Twitter staff were extremely proud of.  The company has clearly improved on their server load contingency plan since the last election.

And just as well too, because newly re-elected President Obama (@BarackObama) chose Twitter as the medium for his first acknowledgements of victory:

President Obama claims victory on Twitter

More than half a million people retweeted President Obama’s victorious “Four More Years” photo tweet.

Four More Years for Obama

However, not everyone was happy with the election outcome. Outspoken Republican Donald Trump (@realdonaldtrump) surprised everyone with his vitriolic, bizarre and seemingly unpatriotic stream of tweets immediately following Obama’s victory:

Trump Tantrum

Possibly the most amusing point about this epic tantrum was Trump’s incorrect assumption that Romney had won the popular vote and that the world was laughing at America because of a miscarriage of democracy caused by the electoral college system.

The tweets highlighted with the green pepper were actually deleted from Trump’s feed within an hour of them being posted, suggesting that Trump’s minders may have stepped in to prevent him from further embarrassment.

Trump’s tantrum prompted a wave of hilarious responses from the Twitterverse, some of which are highlighted in the images below.

Trumps Tantrum Trumps All
But for those of us who stayed on Twitter during President Obama’s victory speech, the hilarity continued. About halfway during his speech, someone on Twitter pointed out that the woman in the crowd directly over the President’s left shoulder had decided to stick her US flag into her hair and was waving it about with great enthusiasm.

hairflag FTW

The gesture generated an instant Twitter meme, similar to the one NASA employee @tweetsoutloud prompted when his space-influenced mohawk was spotted on camera during the recent Mars Rover landing.

Within a minute or two, the hashtag #hairflag was born, with witty tweets temporarily hijacking responses to the President’s moving and heartfelt speech.

Hairflag wins best meme

I couldn’t resist a #hairflag tweet of my own! By the time President Obama walked offstage, the #hairflag meme was in full swing, with inspirational posters, Facebook pages and parody Twitter accounts.

So Election Day closes with 31 million tweets posted and Twitter a clear winner, once again. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

 

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