Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Chat #seoslam

Last Monday, I had a search engine optimization & social media hangout with Sean McGinnis, Rosemary O’Neill and Eric Pratum to discuss search engine optimization in the social media space. This is a follow up from our Social Slam panel.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRFfLQq4Wy8

Transcript of Search Engine Optimization Google Hangout

Jeremy: Really, this is pretty exciting. I think this is the first time that a panel from Social Slam has followed up after the fact, and so I think this is going to be an interesting opportunity to continue our conversation, Social Slam. I think based on the feedback that we received from Social Slam 2012 that a lot of the search engine optimization conversation got really technical, very quickly, and bored everyone and was way over the heads. What we did at Social Slam this year was to really try and focus on allowing people to use this in their business, apply practical information, and share that out.

We had a number of questions that were remaining from that initial conversation. So we thought we’d get together again and go ahead and talk about that today, and may be have another one in the future but really just to continue the conversation about SEO. I’m going to kick it off with one question. Feel free to tweet SEOSlam. Hash tag SEOSlam and we’ll be glad to answer those questions. Eric, you’d send a response today and I just thought we’d start talking a little bit about one of the major problems that I see, especially within my clients and working with them, is that there’s so much data out there. The world’s data is just increasing. I think Moore’s Law as it applies to data is increasing on a basis of doubling every 72 hours is the most recent statistic that I’ve heard.

The noise, the clutter that’s out there so we tell people to write more blog posts, to put more content out there. We tell them to–instruct them to do all these things and yet the data–our competition is doing three times what we can do. I just wanted to open it up and ask you guys. What do you think about how can we penetrate the noise in such a congested area from a search standpoint? I think there’s a social component for this as well. But just from a search engine optimization standpoint, how can we really penetrate that noise?

Eric: For my perspective and you all might come at this from a slightly different angle. I think that any place online where we’re trying to find information of multiple different types whether it’s a search engine or it’s on Twitter, or a news aggregate or site like in the past, Digg, or maybe nowadays, Reddit or something else like that. Those websites, it’s in their best interest to get rid of all of the junk and have as high of a signal to noise ration as possible. So as more and more information is created at a faster rate, these systems are trying to figure out algorithmically how to rule out all of the crack and leave in the things that human beings want.

As we advise our clients to create content or infographics or whatever is going to be, we have to try and figure out how can we do that, how can we speak to their target audience while also making their blog posts or their videos, or whatever else; the best piece of content on that topic.

Sean: Yeah, I would agree with that. I think that it’s important. If we’re doing our job well as marketers, that’s what this boils up to you, right, which is “do we understand our target audience well enough and then have we done a good enough job of creating messages that are going to resonate with that target audience?” If you’re not creating swell, it will find its mark sooner or later, right

Rosemary: I would just add on to that that a lot of times, people get wrapped around the axle, trying to look up keywords and focus on keywords and right content for keywords. But you really need to be also looking at what are the questions your customers are asking you when you’re on the phone with them, when they send you e-mails, when they come in to your health desk. What things are they asking you when they need your help? Try and write content or create content that answers those question more than you focus on oh, my God, I have a low competition, high value keyword.

Stop worrying so much about that and start worrying about what your actual customers are asking you, and you’ll be good.

Eric: I think Jeremy might be on mute.

Rosemary: I didn’t do it.

Jeremy: Are you saying I talk with my hands?

Jeremy: I think one of the things that stood out to me in sort of setting the question up but it’s unfair to do that. But I mean the social component of it is so very important that that refers in a way that–we talked a little bit about Google Plus before, but I mean the integration with search into the algorithm is so very important to what the future is going to be because that is our–our best semantic judge is another person, not an algorithm and it’s–and log algorithms are sophisticated and becoming more sophisticated. Really, it’s the human interaction with that content.

Mark Schaefer told me two years ago that I need to write more blog posts. It’s really interesting things happens all right, around 12 posts. I’m trying to write three posts a week. Everything that I put out there I have to push on. I really work on it and get it out there. I try to get more subscribers. I try to tweet and stumble upon whatever I can do to try and get more traffic to it. Then something’s happened over the last month that’s been really incredible, and that’s when really through Scoop.it, actually.

Scoop.it has turned this content into an avalanche and the snowball started rolling down the hill where, on a daily basis, I’m getting more record traffic than I’ve ever had. It’s I’m writing a post. Oh, I’m going to put that out there but it’s really interesting to see what happens when humans interact with data as opposed to just the algorithm.

I think one of the things that we’ll continue to see and I want to get your guys feedback, but Google Plus definitely has the interaction between social and with search engine optimization, and bringing those together. What about–and this may be a natural jump-off the graph. Sean and I talked about that a little bit, but just talk a little bit about social interaction within search.

Sean: Yeah. Well, there’s a big picture which is that social signals currently are coming in to play more regularly than they have in the past. I mean the links that get shared to the grid, they get picked up and get noticed. That’s absolutely happening right now. The other aspect is I think that there is an important future consideration in two different realms. One is that in the way that Google authorship is playing an impact, not necessarily with regards to rank today, but I think that that’s the future state everyone is talking about. In fact, I know it’s been such–I just had a guest post talking about author rank. If you’re not familiar with the concept of author rank, that’s the future state where we’ll–author reputation will actually come into play when it comes time to.

But the other thing that’s really interesting to me is–again, I’m not sure that this is suitable for a discussion like this. The larger five-year sort of time horizon of what search may look like or how social–how a Facebook graph and some of the other things may come into play. I’ve got some pretty strong feelings about this. I was trying to get a blog post done over the weekend or today just to get it done. The signals that the Facebook just introduced were just now introducing into play. They’re going to be really, really interesting. If you haven’t seen it yet, if you go to Facebook or you will be seeing it soon. Some of the emoticons are now available. How are you feeling? Depressed, excited.

So this new feature emotional states as well as what are you reading? What are you watching? There are all these connection points between data points. There’s an opportunity to sort of label those and create context between data point A and data point B. I think we’re headed toward a future state where search is a little bit more–I won’t say learning but a little bit more intuitive in the way that Pandora is intuitive when we think of music.

I like all of these different things and they have these characteristics, and therefore, you might actually like this because it’s relate to that or similar to this, that type of thing, not just–where we’re at now with regard to the combination of search and social is we’re crawling.
Jeremy, you and I are connected. You like something. Therefore, I might like something and that’s the really early, early days, the state of where we’re at with regard to that. I think there’s so much more to come and I’m really excited about where it’s headed. I’m probably going way too far beyond this discussion, but I think that’s an interesting time horizon to look at.

Rosemary: Yeah. Just jumping on to that a little bit from a small business perspective, I think what it boils down to is that, as always since the dawn of time, relationships are important. I mean that hasn’t changed and it will never change, I mean from your bestfriend referring a dentist at a cocktail party. Now, that’s happening online so deal with it.

The more people who know your name and the more people that you’ve touched in a positive way, the better. The more ways that you can find to do that, the better.

Sean: Amen.

Eric: Yeah. As far as social signals and all of that go, if you had like–let’s say you had your own personal library or you had a private library where people come into it, that’s great. You have a lot of information. You have a librarian that works there and that person tends to direct someone to the information that they need. But if the librarian knows that there’s a certain person who comes in and they have 500 friends or whatever it is, they have the most connections or they are the best readers of the books or whatever else, that’s information as well on top of just owning the books that the librarian wants.

Because they get a signal about, well, this type of person likes this type of thing. That’s really simple like you’re saying Sean. If that person has a lot of friends or if they’re influential, then maybe I should follow them around the library and figure out what they want and what their behavior is because I can tailor my library experience or my visitor’s library experience to that.

That’s exactly what search engines are trying to do right now with social signals. They want to know what’s your behavior, who do you hang out with, and what do you like, so that they can make the experience better for everyone else.

Jeremy: All right. Let’s change a little bit here. What about a real short one? How about Bing? Does Bing matter anymore?

Sean: Does 30% of your market matter anymore?

Eric: Yeah and if you two search advertising as well, as long as you’re not just getting started, if you’re just getting started, maybe just focus on AdWords. If you’re beyond the beginner phase, I would most definitely–at least as far as PVC goes. I would definitely pay attention to Bing, then on top of that the user behavior and intent for being users is quite a bit different. You have a certain segment of the population that uses it because that’s what was in their browser, Internet Explorer or whatever else, and then you have a certain segment that uses Bing because they hate Google. Yeah but a different segment that uses Bing just because they happen to like it more. Maybe people who want the Facebook tie-in and not information sharing.

I think Sean is totally right about there is a large portion of the market, but then there’s also within each one of our respective verticals or our client’s verticals. There might be 50% or 80% of the target audience that is on Bing and not on Google.

Sean: It’s almost unfair because as SEOs or people that dabble in this quite a bit if nothing else, we always sort of default to Google as the shorthand when we’re thinking about search engines. They’re a major player with 30% or so of the market and I’m assuming at this point that everybody knows that when you want to search on Yahoo, you’re getting things search results but I should take that for granted, I suppose. It’s just there’s always–there’s definitely an opportunity there and the difficulty comes in trying to understand both algorithms and know them and understand them to the tune of being able to optimize them both at the same time, right? If you’re doing well on one and you’re trying to make a change for the others, they’re going to hurt your researchers.

Obviously, if you’re going to go after one and just by the law of large numbers kicking in, Google is the one to take care more about. I think Bing gets a bad rap in many respects. That’s my personal take.

Jeremy: Rosemary, did you have a response on that?

Rosemary: Nothing really different except that from the standpoint of someone who has limited resources to invest in this sort of thing. Obviously, you’re probably going to put more of your eggs in the Google basket because there is overlap in how the algorithms–there’s enough overlap that if you’re doing it right for Google, you’re probably not hurting yourself for Bing. Is a panelist allowed to ask a question of other panelists?

Jeremy: Oh, let’s go. Yeah, let’s do this.

Rosemary: Well, so I’ve been operating. Anecdotally, I’ve heard that Bing likes longer content and Bing possibly pays more attention to the description metatag than Google does. Is that a myth or fact, or does anyone know?

Sean: I have not heard that.

Eric: I’m sure there are people out there who know or have done correlation studies, SEOmoz or something like that, but I’m not aware of any differences like that. I’m aware of some small technical differences. For example, I think it was about a year ago that Bing made it very clear that they do use some metatags keyword, or the meta keyword’s tag as a search signal, but 99% of the time if you use it, it’s going to hurt you rather than help you. Whereas, Google just says, “We just don’t use it.”

I’m aware of some small differences like that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are–if you add up a bunch of these small differences and then at the end it comes after a really big ranking issue. You have longer content. You have a slightly different design or whatever else and because of the algorithm differences, Bing thinks you look trustworthy and Google thinks you don’t, or something like that.
Jeremy: Which goes back to Sean’s rule that was established at Social Slam right, write epic shit. I mean it goes back to the rule number one.

Sean: Well, that’s interesting you say it, Rosemary, because I really do favor a longer form of content at this point. I mean not that every piece of what you create needs to be several thousand words, but Pre-Panda I think get started the same. Most people had a default of like 250 to 400 words and I’m–when I’m working with clients, my focus now is between 4 and 800 minimum if I can get it. I think that that’s one of those signals where if you’re a human writer, that’s something that if you’re going to take the time to write something that’s more authoritative by and large, not always but by and large, the numbers are in your favor or the odds are in your favor if you’re writing things that are longer. It doesn’t mean you should write longer pieces of crap. That means that you should put in a time and effort to actually write something that’s pretty darn good. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer to get that all out on the page.

Eric: Yeah. I would totally agree. I mean if you look at our space, almost no one would go to SEOmoz’s blog and say that they’re not in authority or just built or–one blog that I love in our space is ConversionXL. It’s mostly focused on increasing conversions, conversion rate, and optimization and all that, but not exclusively. It takes a long time to read that content. There are audiences where it’s appropriate to be short. Pete, do you like Seth Godin? Something like that. He’s able to get his point out, but he’s also not highly technical.

If we were selling clothing or one of our clients was selling clothing, it might be appropriate to have a low versus cotton versus whatever comparison that is just really down to the core of–this one is warm. This one, wick’s water, away from you, this one, whatever else. If you did a history of low or something, then you might need to write 5000 words just on that topic and then, of course, you have to think about, “Is it appropriate for a couple of posts, a page, a video, or something else?”

Jeremy: I have a question while we’re on this right now. This is a very popular design trend right now to really do–it’s not exactly long form content as much as it is multiple pages that are delineated by a scroll. This site I’m on is F-I Broadway Case study and this, as it turns out, is a single case study beautifully done through a whole page. I mean we’re talking about a scroll.

I wanted to ask a question that is a fairly technical question. Is there other than scroll reach? Is there a way to segment the content on this page so that I am able to see whether particular parts of the page are viewed? The reason I asked because what we’re seeing there are a lot of sites that are really two or three pages that just have an enormous amount of scroll. So Eric, I don’t know or Sean. I don’t know if you have any answer to that, but is there is a way to segment that to really–where you’re triggering different viewpoints through analytics or through your tracking?

Eric: As far as my experience goes and Sean might be able to speak to a different experience, I did just pull off a video about how Google treats single paged websites and how they view them as far as being optimized or not. I’ll post that in chat here in a second and then I’ll tweet it out as well.

On the analytic side, if you have page anchors with–some of us here are familiar with those, domain.com/about and then hash team, hash services, whatever else or number sign hashtag, whatever you want to call it. If you have those, then you can do some tracking within a simpler analytics tool like Google Analytics. If not, then I think it is to your benefit to have a more robust, I guess, analytics tool where you’re either viewing heat maps or where people are moving their cursor. That would be ClickTale. Crazy Egg, I think, doesn’t–I think they do that.

Jeremy: They do that, yeah.

Eric: Yeah, or to use something like a HubSpot or Webtrends, or whatever else where you’re going to be able to see interaction with individual portions of the page. Now, that all being said, one thing that I’m spending a lot more time doing is going into Google Analytics and looking at on the page where people are clicking. I’m looking a lot less at averages of time on page or I do look at my referrals. I do look at search engine optimization terms and all of that’s in traffic, but what I want to see generally is if I have a page that’s really important, how are people interacting with that? Where do they go after this? One of the best ways to do it is to see where people are clicking.

Sean, I don’t know if you have a different experience.

Sean: No. I think there is a blog post willing to come out to talk about just the complexities and the difficulties with having these larger longer scrolling sites, parallax scrolling is older age these days and that’s an effect based system whereby the textual scroll and the visual scroll have different times and it’s just sort of all the grades from a design perspective. It creates real serious difficulties. I mean as we all know, Google looks to the site and says, “Your site is about X.” It’s really at the page level. If you got one page about 15 or 20 different things that normally would be segmented out of individual pages, it’s a crapshoot. I mean it’s just so difficult to get, the ability to rank for more than a couple of different things.

If all you do is one or two things, then I think a design like that actually can be effective and I’ve actually seen it being effective from a search perspective. Take a typical–I’m working on a medical malpractice website right now for a client. We have 25 to 30 pages of content. It used to go to do a different type of harm that can happen from a med mal perspective.

I’m trying to wrap that up in one page. It’s just an SEO nightmare waiting to happen. Once again, we’re back. We’re out of the frying pan and the fire from the standpoint of something that’s favored by designers. It’s actually hurting SEO. Parallax scrolling sites, the new flash. You heard it here first.

Eric: Yeah. I mean think about it like with a medical malpractice question. How many different things is a person going to ask about? They have questions about specific effects or they have questions about should they even be concerned. I mean just a million different things. Somebody can have the question about or one information about–and it’s great if it’s attractive or it makes a user experience better, or whatever else to have one long page. If it makes it harder to find and that is a primary motivator of even getting people to the site and getting them to use it, then you really have to weigh the cost and the benefits.

Sean: Yeah. The beauty of this is–I mean if you go back to that and show it again. If you click on one of those navigation elements at the top, it’s sexy as heck to get there. If you click on our disciplines or our pathway. It scrolls and it’s active, and it’s really sort of–it’s attention grabbing. It looks really great from a design perspective. It does. I get it. Again, even this is–this is something that’s just a couple of pages. The work around, typically, to something like this, by the way, is to have additional deeper pages. If you go back to that original screen, that’s all about them. That’s not customer facing content. That’s about us and our work and our style, or this or that. You can put that all in a scrolling website and still have all sort of effect of a Wizbang thing, and have something navigable or submitted through sitemaps, so that you’ve actually got the content that’s being indexed and considered for ranking purposes in very much more traditional formats; something that may be incorporate some of the black and white aspects of the design and yet you get page pathways in terms of URL streams and metadata associated with each one. That page is about this one thing where we get to use headers and other stuff, the way that we normally would from a SEO perspective. You can combine and have the best of both possible worlds.

Eric: I think that’s interesting. I know if you have a flash site, you can serve up HTML content to the search engines without having it considered cloaking or anything like that. Because for anyone that might be watching this or might watch this in the future, cloaking is when you serve up one page to the visitor and then a different page or a different content really to the search engine.

The reasons that you might do this would be if you want somebody to come to your page and then purchase, but you want them to purchase a lot of tickets. Who knows what? But they’re searching for running shoes or something else. You serve up the running shoes page to the search engine whenever you see that one of them comes to index your page and then you serve up the lotto tickets page to the regular visitor. While that might seem weird, if you can automate this then you can spin out thousands of these sites at once.

That’s the sort of blackout or the nasty side of cloaking. The beneficial side, serving up two different pieces of content, is when you have a flash site or something else that’s difficult to read. You still want the search engine to see it and be able to figure out what the page is about. So I never really considered may be having a sitemap or whatever that splits out the content from a page and tells the search engine, “Even though this might all be 10 pages squished together into one, here is what each individual section is about.” Is that what you’re saying, Sean?

Sean: Well, I think that you can have–No. I think I’m actually even thinking more from a design perspective. You can imagine a situation where the designer has but all the elements of the stuff we don’t care about from an SEO perspective for ranking, right? The About Us section, that can be so one big page, but then you go through some cascading menu or even a footer menu down the bottom that links after that content? I mean whether we want clients to navigate to that or we want them to just find it from a search perspective?

I think there are ways to capture that search traffic, thinking through it a little bit more creatively. You don’t necessarily have to have–I’ve not seen–let’s put it this way. I have not seen anyone with a serious content marketing bent deploy that design and philosophy. Because if you’ve got 30 or 50, or 100 pages of content or you just use a blog. It’s a blog. I mean you get sort of a different section, but each one of those blog posts sits and resides on its own page. There are ways to capture that search traffic that’s may be more traditional, but you still get the bang from a design perspective if you’re insistent on having that really cool design. There are ways to do it.

I’ve only seen sites like this that are not sort of content marketing centric, right? I mean look at the navigation of that. Our store innovation, store locator promotions.

Jeremy: Well, the reason I pulled this one up Sean is because you’re talking about this is all about them and really pulling their about and they’re contacting. It’s a very interesting design, but like you said it’s really leading with some pretty sexy design, not necessarily from a digital marketing perspective.

Sean: Imagine blog in the far right that goes off to something that’s more traditional. You get to blah, blah, blah, blah slash log and you get a separate WordPress install or whatever. The skin that looked really sexy in a more traditional way and then you’ve got your normal path file pass and how to activate waters, yadi, yadi, yada, and you do content marketing. Keyword play, that’s a little bit more traditional from a SEO perspective at least.

Jeremy: Sure. That’s good. I want to back up. We were talking just before we got off into the long form content which I think is a great issue. We had talked about being from a pay per click side. That’s one thing we didn’t talk about and have not talked about really at all, but it’s really paid search. I think it’s very interesting. Rosemary, you said that with Google–specifically with a lot of the cues that you’re following, that’s going to be from Google, but then we were talking about is from Bing to a smaller audience segment. It’s potentially a higher penetration right there and certainly within paid.

I’d like to talk about both of those a little bit, but just talk about your experience. I like to start with you, Rosemary, just with your own experience as a small business owner with paid advertising and paid search engine advertising. How that’s worked for you? I’d like to talk a little bit about remarketing in a minute, but just walk through this a little bit so we can go through all of those elements.

Rosemary: Yeah. We’ve been using a pay per click strategy in conjunction with our content marketing and the rest of the things that we’re doing, and social relationship building, etc. We have definitely had like actual success from our paper click that paper click is demonstrable. It makes a big difference to us and you can even see where you show up in the rankings there. It makes a difference as far as your conversion. But I do have to say that it’s been our experience that the wording that you use in the actual ad can be the most important thing. At least it’s been our experience. We’ve been experimenting around a lot with “do you put the features? Do you put the benefits first? Where does that land you? What page do the people go to when they click that ad?” It’s very important. Is it making a happy searcher as Google talked? I think Bing does the same thing. Are the searchers happy?

I think we found that the more loosey-goosey we are with our ads like the weirder wording we use, the more clicks we get. We have an ad up right now that has–it’s something weird but random that I just topped up there that was like forums, blogs, whatever, boom at the end of it. That has been the best performing ad of all like–I’d slaved over crafting the wording and this one that I just sort of like stood out there one day.

I guess my takeaway is natural language or language that people actually use. It performs way better than marketing speak or discount, discount, discount, or things like that. We do much better with just regular people language.
Male: So Rosemary, how much do you spend on your AdWords account looking at ads, looking at negative keywords? How much time do you spend a week doing that?

Rosemary: For a defined period, at least once a week probably for about an hour, and then sometimes in the middle of the week, I’ll pop in just to clean up the negative keywords. I’m like a farmer, I guess, the way I look at it like the more I go in and sort of till the soil and get out, weed out the negative keywords, the better it works. That definitely has a big impact. So I definitely go in at least weekly and I take care of the negative keywords. I check out the keywords that are landing people on our site and I try to look for like any big flags like something crazy people are clicking on. Or if there’s a page on our site where people are coming and immediately just dumping off, no one’s going anywhere and it’s 99% balance rate. I look for things like that too.

Jeremy: Just in case, just to make sure that we cover all the bases, just to define what a negative keyword is. You want to take a stab at that?

Rosemary: Well, actually we have so many because our products includes a lot of components so I have a lot of trouble with negative keywords. One of the things that our platform does is forums. We have a lot of issues with like the kind of forum where people go and like it’s a political forum where people are having a town hall or something. A lot of times I’ll have to go in and do a negative keyword for like town hall forum. I’ll do a negative keyword for that so that I’m not paying for people trying to find a town hall forum and I really want them to come for a community platform forum.

Jeremy: Great, you guys want to jump in with anything? I guess, one of the things I’d ask Sean from you and then Eric you can kind of jump in as well, but how are you using paid, and I’d like to talk a little bit, I think Rosemary started to get into it about the quality score. So just recently with a client, it’s the first time I’ve ever had all nines and tens on every ad that we did. It seemed very clear, clearly tied to the domain authority where I use that words a lot when I’m starting a client out. I’m trying to find out what the SEO, typically my focus is I’m going to spend $1000 on AdWords and figure out what I’m going to spend the next eight months, 12 months focusing on and really trying to optimize. So it’s just an accelerated learning curve. I’m doing that most often on some very new domains that have just been registered in the last 90 days. I want to know, I mean does that impact the quality score overall and just kind of get some thoughts from you guys on how you’re using AdWord.

Sean: One of my favorite ways to use it to just to go after phrases if there’s no way in hell my clients can compete for. I mean, seriously, I’ve got a prospective client that I took a look at a keyword list recently and the first page was dominated by Wal-Mart and eBay and Target and Best Buy, Better Business Bureau. Some of those had phrases that they’ll just never in a million years compete for. If they want to compete for it and they’re high converting phrases, we should at least experiment with it and try and get them a presence via PPC. That’s the main way aside from utilizing it as a great and expensive way to start some initial research in terms of stuff that converts or a newer domain or what have you. They’re sort of traditional methods to use it best. Those are the places where I tend to focus most of my efforts on.

Eric: Yeah, I think, so I have another link that I’ll share in the chat then I’ll tweet out. Basically, if I’m trying to figure out what content to create and it really has a specific business purpose. I’m working for a client or I’m doing some work for myself or my agency or whatever else. I’m spending five hours, 10 hours, whatever it is so I need to see some return on this or my client needs to see some return. What I’ll do is I will find out can my client or can this piece of content rank. Who is it going to compete against? What site is it going to go on? Can I get in the top three or four or whatever positions I need to get into? If I can’t, then I might still create the content, but I might need to promote it with AdWords or it could be other advertising too. It could be Facebook ads, it could be Outbrain, or whatever else.

I will a lot of times use my paid search to push content. Now, of course, there are other times where it’s really eCommerce focused. We know we put in X amount we get out Y amount. If you’re just getting a company up and running and you want to find out how much traffic they might be able to get and what might be high value or high interest categories, then I think there really is no better way than running some ads. Much like in the much ridiculed but somewhat valuable to read at least if you’re a paid search person four-hour work week he talks about. You spend $100 or something like that and you can really validate an entire business idea.

So anyway, I’ll share a link about how I kind of go about this process. It’s not my own blog post but kind of like you all said, I definitely use it for research, I use it to validate business ideas, but then at other times it’s pure eCommerce, what do we put in and what do we get out.

Jeremy: Sure. I think Rosemary you said something that I think is really important, I mean it’s probably AdWords or paid advertising 101 in a way, but it’s so very important. Just going back to what we said when we were at SEOSlam that really search is about bringing relevant content to somebody at a point of need. With paid advertising, I think that you’re able to do that very well. I think the danger there is too broadly defined focus in keyword groups. From a client side that’s what I experience most often is that they want to compete on every possible phrase out there. It’s not going to work. I try to keep all of our keyword groups at about 12 to 20 and then really, like you said, narrowly focus that ad to exactly what I’m going to deliver on the landing page.

Speaking to choir obviously but I mean just the amount of time that I spend on the lading page optimization that’s the most important time that I spend is really tweaking what they’re getting when they get there. Because there’s an expectation when they click on that ad, if I’ve attracted their attention enough and distracted them from something, I better damn will give them something that they’re looking for. I think that’s one of the biggest dangers is that even to just take a little too far a reach with the keyword, it’s not as narrow as the overall campaign can have detrimental results and then impact what your overall qualities are going to be.

Rosemary: Yeah, I’d say one of my rookie mistakes I’d love to take back and do better again is exactly that. When we first started doing AdWords, I got all excited and I got my marketing hat on and I wrote up some really cool stuff. I didn’t really have any concept of connecting it to the landing page. As soon as I went back and I started lifting keywords and phrases from the landing page out to the ads, we saw much more success rather than starting with the ads, start with the content that you’ve got and pull content out of that into the ads.

Eric: So, I guess if I can jump in on the point about just the general idea about where you’re starting and what are you using your ads for in order to later drive website content creation or whatever else. Jeremy, I’d be curious to know, do you run as initially for a client? Is there a certain thing that you look for? Do you come in with sort of like a template for how you’re going to test for this client? Are there certain questions that you want answered from your ads before you then step into an SEO project or and SEO phase if you know what I mean?

Jeremy: Sure, yeah, I think you hit on that a little bit when you were talking about eCommerce. Where we start with our clients is to really define specifically what that purpose is. Typically it’s going to be are we going to increase revenue one way? Are we going to save some expenses? Are we going to support the customer? Out of those three categories, those three broad categories, specifically what am I trying to do. Most often in my business I’m trying to generate leads. So what I’m trying to do is have a lead capture form in that page in one form or another and trying to drive them into that lead capture form.

So it can be evergreen for us. We don’t have to just run it in that very seasonal approach to try and get the keywords out of it. We can continue to run the lead generation pages for a long period of time as long as we can see, and this really gets into more of the Pardot and sort of a trip marketing approach to where I’m fulfilling them over time and able to tie that loop back around and say they generated on this initial keyword here and we proved that they closed and converted over here. So that then, it’s a very long cycle. I mean obviously it’s not just what we’re going to learn just in the first 30 days when we run the AdWords, but ultimately, six months or nine months down the road to be able to see which keywords not only generated a lead, but also converted into a buyer. That’s a different issue. It’s a much deeper and long term approach than just what that initial is. Did that answer the question?

Eric: Yeah, definitely. I think that it’s interesting to see how everyone approaches their research phase. Some of us do AdWords and others of us will crib content or keywords or whatever else it is. If I use Screaming Frog on three or four or five competitors’ websites and then I drop the meta keywords tags or the headlines or titles or whatever else it is into a Word Cloud Generator. Then that might give me the keywords, the competitive keywords that I need to go after. Exactly. Or you can use tools like–I love SpyFu because if you want to see what types of ads or keywords your three competitors let’s say have been using and they’ve been increasing or decreasing their bids on which ads have been performing or not. It will give you a pretty good list. Now, of course it’s a paid tool, but I love to do that and all of us have a completely different approach.

Now, what I would be interested, I think one thing that would be interesting to find out, especially from probably Sean and Rosemary is when somebody says I can’t afford to pay for somebody to blog for me or I can’t afford to pay somebody for this research. I mean there’s no one best place to start but what does somebody that doesn’t know anything do, either one of you.

Rosemary: Well, I’ll jump into that. Well, for me I’m all about user generated content obviously. I mean that’s my bread and butter. I would say that would be the most bang for your buck that you could do if you’re kind of just getting started out and you wanted to do something that is high leverage where you’re making a small investment. Not saying it’s easy to start getting dynamic content on your website, but you definitely need to make a time investment in that. A small investment upfront will lead to larger returns if you are successful in getting, say, a community going or getting a dynamic log going or getting people to share your video content, or whatever you decide to do. That’s where I would go with it.

Jeremy: So, I know we’ve got to wrap up here and what I wanted to do, I think you started this off on this Eric. What I want to do is actually do a slam really quickly. Sean, I know you’ve got to go, but I wanted to do a quick circle on what your favorite tools are in a few different categories. You started this off Eric, but within analytics and not really jumping directly on Google Analytics, what’s your favorite analytics tool? I’ll start by saying ClickTale. Eric, you hit it earlier, but ClickTale I’ve really enjoyed seeing users react on the page themselves. So we’ll go around, Sean, to you.

Sean: I’m an Excel guy. I like to take it to the root. There are great tools that you can get, a lot of interesting analytics firm, but I like to just pump things into Excel and manipulate away.

Jeremy: Rosemary?

Rosemary: I like to keep it low key. I’m all about Google Analytics, but I also use HitTail and Topsy.

Jeremy: Cool. Eric?

Eric: I think my favorite numbers tool outside of Excel is probably Open Site Explorer. It’s not for onsite work, but it can give you some really interesting information.

Jeremy: That’s through SEOmoz?

Jeremy: Correct.

Jeremy: Good. All right, what about keyword tools? Eric, back to you.

Eric: I guess the best tool with really poor data is the Google Keyword Tool.

Jeremy: Well, that’s why I didn’t answer it because that’s what I was going to say.

Rosemary: That’s all I use also.

Jeremy: Yeah.

Sean: I also like using Google Analytics too. I mean I had a story of a buddy of mine, a student in Chicago who noticed that he was getting some traffic along with a certain search phrase. He went and wrote a blog post all about that topic and is now his number one force, it’s driving even more traffic. Take your research raw materials where you can find them. There’s a lot of really great sources and just digging in to your Google Analytics is a great place to go.

Jeremy: That’s good. I think one other place as well is Webmaster Tools. It’s really improved dramatically. So, I think that’s really good as well. All right, last question, the tool that you have not mentioned that you use every day that you think is significant to search?

Eric: If it were me and I have talked about this before though not on this session. My current favorite tool is Followerwonk. It’s a Twitter focused tool but there are some really cool things you can do with Link building and community development there or on my community development.

Jeremy: Cool. I love Woopra. I don’t know if you guys have used Woopra at all. It’s some real analytics, real time tracking. For real time it’s an excellent tool and they’re recently acquired by Salesforce so there’s going to be a really cool integration that comes out of that.

Rosemary: I don’t have anything really sexy except that I do like the Live Tiles Analytics on my iPhone. I use that a lot on the go.

Sean: I would say pick your favorite client. There’s no better way to get quality amount of links and having a relationship built. That’s most easily done via e-mail if not via phone. Take your pick. I’m an Outlook guy. I know I’m a traditionalist that way.

Jeremy: Thank you guys. I know that we have all taken time out of our day. We’re all available. We’re all really making a sacrifice to do this, but I really appreciate everybody getting on this hangout. I hope that people that watch it in the future will find it to be useful. Let’s try and do it again sometime.

Eric: Love that.

Rosemary: Absolutely.

Jeremy: Thanks guys.

Eric: Thank you.

Sean: Thank you.


Jeremy Floyd

Jeremy Floyd is the Chief Marketing Officer at Back Porch Vista. Formerly, he was the president of Bluegill Creative, a marketing and communications firm in Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to managing the digital strategies, Floyd is an adjunct professor for the University of Tennessee Chattanooga MBA program teaching digital strategies and social media. Floyd blogs at jeremyfloyd.com and tweets under the name @jfloyd. Jeremy is licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from MTSU in English and Philosophy.