The skills we teach deliver real ROI.

August 2014 archive

Why Should I Use Google Analytics?

Google Analytics Training

Simply installing Google Analytics is a good start for any web site owner.  However, it is not of any benefit until the data is used.  I have worked with many people who have analytics installed on their sites, but never looked at the data.  When I talk to small businesses or nonprofits, they are so overwhelmed with their workload and cannot imagine having to manage “one more thing”. I always tell them to at least get analytics installed so data tracking can begin and worry about using it later.  If you feel that way too, I offer the same advice.  Add Google Analytics to your website now so at least the data collection can begin.

From here, let’s now assume you have been tracking data for a couple months and still are not sure why you installed Google Analytics other than you were told to do so!    Here are a few suggestions to start using your data with basic metrics.

When you login your account, you will see options on the left for the types of data available.  First select “Audiences” and choose “Overview.”  This has information about your visitors at a glance.  It will show you new visitors and returning visitors.  New visitors indicates your marketing efforts seem to be bringing in new people.  These could be people who are hearing about you for the first time.  Your returning visitors implies you have loyal customers and you are giving them reasons to continue coming back to your site.  Maybe they are looking for a new product or enjoy reading your content.

Note the general timeline for the number of visits.  Is it holding steady? Gradually increasing traffic? Or possibly decreasing traffic (oh no)?  Note the trend and think about some activities that may have contributed to that change.  If you presented at a large networking event and mentioned your company, you may find traffic went up as people were interested in checking out your site.  This is good information to have because it implies speaking engagements will result in more website visitors for your particular business.  If the traffic went down over a period of time, did that happen the same time as your website re-launch?  If that is a possible relationship, you may want to talk with your webmaster if it appears a new site is negatively impacting your traffic.  Something like this could happen if you are launching with a new web address and a number of sites linking to you are linking to your old address.

Next go to “Acquisition” and “Overview”.  This shows which sources are sending you the most traffic.   If there are a number of new sessions under “Social”, this implies your messaging on social media is pretty engaging and people want to learn more about you.  You can even look a little further to see if one social channel is outperforming the others.  Similarly, if there are very few sessions coming from your traffic source of “Social”, it may indicate a problem with your social media strategy.


Why Nerds Should Rule the World

A Lesson in How Honesty and Loyalty Builds Communities and Why Businesses Should Pay Attention

downloadI have a confession:  I love Nerdfighteria. If you don’t know what that is, you will. Nerdfighteria is an online community subculture (there are now offline groups as well) that came about when the VlogBrothers John and Hank Green started their video blog channel on YouTube in 2007 and gained popularity with their witty, honest, nerdy videos. Read about it. Get into it. You won’t regret it.

I’ve only been watching VlogBrothers for about two years, and found it because I saw John Green on a Mental Floss video. However, what I’ve seen in two years of John and Hank’s vlogs is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Some videos are nothing more than a rant that makes you laugh, some deal with difficult issues like bullying and depression, and some are educational about current events. But the common thread of all of these videos is the honest opinions and genuine affection Hank and John share with whoever wants to listen. And that is why there are hundreds and sometimes thousands of comments on their videos in YouTube from people who are loyal followers of VlogBrothers and support Nerdfighteria.

They now have more than 1.6 million subscribers for the VlogBrothers YouTube channel, reaching a widespread international audience as well. That international Nerdfighteria community spawned and supported a plethora of amazing organizations, events and projects such as:

  • VidCon – the largest in-person gathering of online video creators, viewers and representatives
  • Project for Awesome/Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck – a 100% volunteer organization that helps other charitable organizations raise funds
  • Crash Course – educational, entertaining YouTube video focused on making typical school subjects entertaining instead of boring
  • Subbable – crowdfunding to support various web video series
  • – a financial lending organization that has loaned more than $4.3 million around the world to people lacking access to traditional banking systems

So what does all this do-gooder, feel-good karma have to do with how to run a business? Up until a recent venture in which they use funds from an associated gaming channel to sponsor the AFC Wimbleton football club, VlogBrothers and Nerdfighteria garnered support and attention via word of mouth from loyal fans and supporters. That’s 1.6 million people who love and support this community without one dollar spent on marketing or sales. Not only that, but that community raises millions of dollars on their own to “decrease worldsuck” and educate in a non-traditional manner.

Not to mention John Green recently announced that they would start allowing advertising on the channel with proceeds going to several of their recognized charities and organizations, including Project for Awesome. Not an easy decision, because profiting from free and open information was opposed by the brothers for years, but Nerdfighteria encouraged the decision upon hearing where funds from advertising would be distributed.


Strategic Keyword Bidding with Google AdWords


Keywords are a huge part of a successful AdWords campaign.  If you think too broadly when picking your keywords, you’ll receive lots of irrelevant clicks.  If you are too narrow, you’ll miss potential customers.  If you bid high, you may be paying more than you need to and not receiving good traffic.  If you bid low, your ads may never see the front page.  So how can you overcome this keyword challenge?

First, it’s important to understand how bidding works in AdWords.  The two most basic options are manual CPC and automatic CPC.  Manual is when you determine how much you want to bid on a keyword.   If for some reason, you have an unlimited ad budget or a large sum of money you need to burn through, you can let Google set bids automatically. If costs are important to you, you definitely want to set bids manually.

Start with a manual bid on the lower side, such as $1.00 per keyword.  Depending on your market, you may be able to get away with this lower amount, but if you’re in a very competitive field, you will need to bid higher.  Google will tell you within a day if this number is off by displaying a message next to one of your targeted keywords.  This will indicate if you’ll need to bid higher to get the first page for that word.  When you start seeing amounts of $15 or so for a first page keyword bid, that tells you that you are likely in a very competitive market.  It may end up being a word you can’t afford to bid on if you have a limited budget.


Agile Marketing and the Beauty of Failing Fast

8440167790_0dcfd230ec_zNow we’ve all heard the mantra “fail fast, learn fast” and it sounds quite logical – the more you try, the more you learn, and people can certainly learn from both success and failure.  In fact, if you learn from failure such that you don’t repeat it, it doesn’t really feel like a “failure” anymore.  At least not in the embarrassing gut-punched way we’ve been conditioned to traditionally feel about failure.  Still, to many people, that mantra seems like a simple platitude that they can never put into practice.  If they fail, they’re sure someone is going to punish them for it.

Most Agile teams start out using the Scrum process.  And Scrum gets teams working on fixed-length sprints, typically set between 2 and 4 weeks.  Usually, when people learn about sprints, they have a problem believing that can break down their work into meaningful deliverables that can be delivered in such a short time.  So we’ll do some exercises to show you how it can be done, and people will start to believe it’s possible.  In one of my recent Agile coaching engagements, we went beyond simply breaking work down into chunks and got to the incredible “ah-ha” moment people have when they realize that “fail fast, learn fast” can become reality.

I don’t get to follow-up and coach everyone who attends my training classes.  It’s unfortunate because when I get to spend time coaching teams, and they’re confronted with jumping in and really trying this, there’s often a moment of hesitation.  It’s one thing to be bold in a training class.  It’s another thing to put your professional reputation on the line back at the office when you’re trying something radically different.  And in that moment, people are able to truly understand the value of the following:

It’s only 2 weeks.  And then you can try again.


Web Seminar Recap: 7 Things Every SEO Campaign Needs Right Now

If you are tired of getting the same old SEO advice and optimizing your SEO campaigns ineffectively, this web seminar is for you. In order to optimize correctly, marketers need to constantly think outside the box, and not succumb to the overruling advice of self-proclaimed SEO guru’s who continue to regurgitate the same useless information.

This web seminar focused on the top 7 MOST important SEO items out there today. Google changes it’s algorithm constantly and we as marketers must stay on top of these changes in order to be as effective as possible in our online optimization efforts. Topics covered in this web seminar will include:

• Are backlinks really worth their weight anymore
• The real truth about meta data in SEO
• How long should your blog posts really be
• A quick intro to Google Authorship and why it’s important for SEO
• And much more

The game is changing and in order to be on top of your game, you need to implement the correct ways of SEO optimization. After this web seminar, it will be abundantly clear as to which techniques you should use and, more importantly, why you should be using them. We will also teach you which ones to stay completely away from that can hurt your SEO efforts.

This one hour seminar, 7 Things Every SEO Campaign Needs Right Now, was held on Wednesday, August 13th by Cedric Williams. Want to catch up? Download the slides and recording here!

Agile Marketing and the Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Inattention to Results

9781118179154_p0_v1_s260x420In my last post, I discussed how the framework from “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni can illustrate how and why adopting Agile Marketing and the scrum process leads to success.  And I drilled-down on the fourth dysfunction: avoidance of accountability.

Picking up from that point, let’s look at the fifth and final dysfunction: inattention to results.  This stems directly from the avoidance of accountability.  The connection may not be obvious to many, so I’ll paint a more detailed picture.

Imagine a team that only half-heartedly agrees to vague and ambiguous goals.  We noted last time that people will find ways to avoid being accountable to those vague goals.  So if you ask them what the team has accomplished, what do they focus on?  They focus on their own accomplishments and ignore the team’s lack of results.

Hey, look at all the new product graphics I produced.  Yeah, the campaign is way behind schedule, but I’m knocking my stuff out of the park!

When team members operate in that mode, they only see their participation as a means to achieve personal recognition.  After all, they don’t believe the team will succeed, so they figure they need to at least accomplish some valuable “CYA work” so they don’t get blamed for the inevitable crash and burn.


How to Improve Your AdWords Campaigns

ninja-master-costumeAre you an AdWords ninja?  Do you feel pretty confident about your paid campaign and are happy with results so far?  That’s great!  But did you know there still may be some room for improvement?  Here are a few tips to further optimize your account.  Keep in mind that it’s really important to look at these things over time.  If you look at only a week’s worth of data and make drastic changes based on that short period of time, you may be filtering out good results.  Instead go back further in time, a minimum of three months, so you are able to see patterns.

Search query

This one is probably my personal favorite and I look at it every single time I’m in a client account.  When you look in the Keyword tab, you’ll see a menu option called “Details.”  When you select that drop down and choose “Search terms – All” you will see the exact search terms people use when your ad is triggered to appear.  This data is an absolute goldmine.  By reviewing your keyword search terms within AdWords, you can determine which additional words to include exclude from your campaigns.

Let’s say your business offers “marketing training” and you have that as a broad search term, meaning other search terms can be included in a search query.  A visitor clicks on your ad after searching “marketing training webinars.”  What if webinars is the one type of training you don’t offer?  In this case, you paid for a click from a visitor who wants something you don’t provide!  (In the ideal situation, you would have excluded “webinars” from the campaign initially by adding it as an negative keyword but it’s easy to overlook every single thing about a new campaign so don’t feel bad if you’ve done this in your account!)  By looking at the report, you have a reminder that “webinars” should be a negative search term and you can modify your campaign accordingly.

Day of the week

Are your buyers on the internet Monday maybe doing a little shopping from work?  Or are they spending most of their time searching for your services and products on the weekends?  You can find out by looking at the Dimensions tab and choosing to view the data by the day of the week.   Based on what you find there, you may want to adjust the bid slightly, or maybe even pause it, for particular days that aren’t performing well.


Web Seminar Recap: How Content Marketing Affects Search Engine Rankings

The future of search is in disarray. We constantly try to solve which direction the search giant is going, but with the ever-changing algorithm, SEO’s are trying to put their finger on one strategy that will remain true to SEO. Unfortunately, there isn’t one simple answer to this question. However, most marketers (including SEO’s) agree that content is now the foundation of any SEO campaign. It can also have significant impacts on any SEO rankings.

In this web seminar, we will be covering the following topics:

• The importance of content marketing to SEO
• How content marketing impacts search rankings
• Why companies with blogs are outperforming those without blogs
• Content marketing tips from the pro’s

In this one hour web seminar, How Content Marketing Affects Search Engine Rankings hosted by Cedric Williams on July 8th, attendees learned to put together a solid content marketing plan that will help content go to the top of the search engines. Following the simple steps covered in this web seminar will help you expedite your current content marketing efforts resulting in higher rankings and higher revenue.

Missed this seminar? Download the slides and recording to catch up!

Keyword Analysis Killed the Copy

This blog was originally posted on

Curiosity kills the cat, and keyword analysis kills the copy. Unless you’re approaching SEO copywriting on a deeper, more meaningful level where your true audience lives, breathes, and is ready to buy.

A Real Life Scenario

During a previous consult on a legal services website, we were in the process of analyzing the existing content, keywords, and metadata of each page. It was obvious that this company was employing basic SEO and, based on a full keyword analysis, that they had done their research. So far, so good.