So I think my last post here was ages ago. As I continue to dedicate more time to music and a new project, a lot of music from this year and the past has really made move into a different writing path and style. It might not be noticeable to an average listener, but either way, I always thinks it’s interesting to see what people are listening to.

Anyways, I’m trying to experiment more and more with the social aspects of Spotify. So here is a curated playlist of 50 tracks I’m listening to right now.

 

I recently wrote another post on SEOmoz, but this time on forecasting fun. As I did last time, I couldn’t let readers journey through their forecasting struggles without a little excel help. So as promised below is a download link for the forecasting template to send you on your way.

Organic Traffic Forecast Tool

 

 

Blogs are a powerful resource in a company’s portfolio of inbound marketing strategies. However, the majority of corporate blogs waste time and money by creating mediocre content and failing at optimizing it for SEO and conversions. This in turn leads to many companies determining that their blog is not a valuable asset and focusing on other tactics to drive sales and bring in visitors online.

These corporations are missing out on a lot. To name a couple things, they are losing out on the overall SEO value that a good corporate blog could bring to a site and higher retention rates for online customers. And it’s unfortunate that this can easily be prevented with a better understanding of how to apply SEO and conversion optimization strategies to blogs. So, without further rambling, here are 3 simple steps to developing a successful blogging strategy and turning it all around.

1. Be Relevant, But Don’t Be Self-Centered

I usually see two things happen often in company blogs, two things that make me want to throw the writer into a fiery inferno or cast him/her away to a cold lifeless land for all eternity. Fun Fact: I have been watching an unhealthy amount of Game of Thrones.Game of Thrones Wall

Things That Will Land You In The Night’s Watch

The first is the promotion of the company’s products in almost every blog post. No one wants to read a sales pitch for a new product every time they visit a company’s blog. They want to hear what the experts have to say about what they do or what your company’s take is on industry news.

People want to know what’s happening with a company, but not necessarily what every product’s features are and why they should buy it. That’s why product pages exist. Now this doesn’t mean a company should never post about their own products. Tell them something they wouldn’t know if they already viewed the product page. In addition, keep the frequency of these posts low.

The second is a company that blogs frequently, but frequently about topics that are in no way relevant to their company’s site and focus. With Google’s massive assault on low quality and irrelevant websites over the past year or so, sites that practice this just won’t make the cut in the SERPs. The best counter strategy is to simply tailor posts to appeal to your user base and keep the topic relevant to your business.

These are essentially two ends of the spectrum for a corporate blog, companies that aim for the middle tend to succeed in providing the most value to their visitors and themselves. Providing relevant and quality content keeps visitors coming back and this keeps your brand on their mind. Trust me. You don’t want to end up outcast and fending off White Walkers at The Wall.

Why You Should Trust Me

In terms of SEO, your blog posts will start to naturally rank for long tail keyword phrases. This won’t bring a herd of visitors to your site, however, it will bring more qualified visitors if your content is relevant.

As an example, let’s say I blogged for a company that sells men’s suits. I might write a post titled 5 Tips To Buying the Perfect Suit. What this does is bring in organic search visitors that will be more likely to buy a suit from your website because they are already searching for tips on how suits should fit or what to look for in a suit. These visitors are further down the sales pipeline than the ones that come to a site through broader search terms.

So this brings me back to the two ends of the spectrum – remember not to scare these visitors away by selling your products too hard and don’t bring the wrong type of qualified visitors to your site by writing about something irrelevant.

2. Be The James Bond Of Internal Linking

So by now you are probably furious. Hey, I understand – I just told you that you are shit out of luck if you directly market your products in your blog. Just calm down and think what would James Bond do?

As much as you would like to think the solution involves a catastrophic world ending plan easily foiled by one drunk man in a tux recklessly driving a really expensive car subsidized by the British Government, it isn’t. It’s actually much much more thrilling.James Bond

The Man with the Golden Link

The solution is that you can indirectly market your products through internal linking. It just has to be done suavely. If James Bond was doing your job, he would be extremely smooth about where and when he linked internally. He would only use the most clever anchor text, making it unbearable not to click on.

The outcome of his work: readers holding one of your company’s products, never knowing that was part of the plan. Meanwhile, he’s spending all their hard earned money on martinis, tuxedos, and high stakes poker.

It’s important to link internally to products in a way that doesn’t interrupt the flow of the article. If it sounds forced it means you aren’t really linking to anything relevant and that will simply lower the quality of your article. The more relevant the products being linked to are, the higher the probability of a reader converting when they follow the link.

3. Write First, Then Optimize

As I mentioned before, blog posts will rank for long tail keyword phrases in the SERPs, but you may want to influence which keyword phrases it’s targeted for. This optimization process usually starts with keyword research and then producing content that is optimized for the exact keyword phrase(s) that will provide the most SEO value. However, in the interest of producing quality content I believe reversing this process is always the best strategy. Doing initial keyword research to determine a topic to write about is smart, but determining specific keyword phrases prior to writing your post is not.

Reversing The Process

Having a keyword phrase in mind can shift the thinking process from how can I make this article compelling to how can I use this keyword in the article here and here and here. When you begin writing and you are writing for the purpose of SEO, the quality of the article degrades and readers will see through this. Finish the article first and review the final product – determine what the overarching subject is and target phrases in the article that are most relevant to the subject.

Once you have that list, gather your keyword research and find related keyword phrases with better search metrics that can seamlessly replace them. When you do this, the continuity of the article remains the same while drawing in more visitors through organic search. In my experience, this process is actually more efficient and the end product produces better engagement.

Tools To Get You Started

Those that are unfamiliar with keyword research tools should start with Ubersuggest, Merge Words, and the Google Adwords Tool. These tools can provide you with an array of keyword variations and the Adwords Tool will get you started with some metrics to analyze your list of keywords. When you get comfortable with these tools, you can find some advanced tactics and tools here.

It’s All Part Of The Plan

Anyways it’s all part of an overarching strategy to increasing the value of your company’s blog through SEO and optimizing it for conversions. Just always keep the basic process in mind – bring in qualified organic visitors through long tail keywords, keep them engaged through quality content, and indirectly market your product through internal linking from your content to your products.

140 characters means you need to choose your words wisely. Many articles discuss the importance of testing the placement of links in Tweets, best time of day to Tweet, the benefits of using hashtags, etc. But how do you really know which words are best to use in a Tweet?

Optimized Tweet

 Is this Tweet optimized for better engagement? Let’s find out.

This got me thinking, how can we possibly measure a keyword or hashtag’s value? In SEO you optimize a page for a target keyword. That keyword is chosen based on research, which compares several metrics, most importantly search volume. However, there is no search volume information provided by Twitter and the supposed “Twitter keyword research tools” out there are shit.

Well I came up with a Google Docs tool that will provide a better solution to this opportunity, but first let’s talk about why word choice in your Tweet is important.

Every Word Counts

I like to relate Tweets to a more intense version of a Meta description. In either case, you have minimal space to get a message across, optimize for target keywords, and entice viewers to click your link/title. The big difference between the two is with Tweets it’s much more challenging to accomplish those goals as you have slightly less space, your link is included in the 140 character limit, and your message has a small visibility window.

So just as you would optimize your meta data, you can do the exact same for a Tweet. To put it simply, the words you use can be the catalyst to huge increases in Twitter engagement.

These practices are the consensus on what increases engagement:

  1. Using action verbs and descriptors.
  2. Tweeting @ certain users.
  3. Time of day.
  4. Using specific hashtags and keywords.

So how do we measure this?

Yes. We Can Measure Everything. Well Almost Everything.

Much of the analysis that can be performed for Twitter engagement is done through trial and error. Tweeting out the same link or message a few times with different content and tracking how your audience responds and engages is the simplest form of this. After repeating the process several times, you should have a good idea of what works best. Tools like Bit.ly or SEOmoz’s social reporting for example, can help you accomplish this by providing ways to track and analyze past Tweets.

Bit.ly Click Graph

Bit.ly click analytics

With a little bit of work you can use these tools and others to:

  1. See trends in your Tweets.
  2. Test different phrasings and see which Tweets receive higher click through rates.
  3. Track engagement dependent on the time of day, or by link placement.
  4. Check if the people are engaging and Retweeting your message.

I won’t say it’ll be easy to complete the above, but with a detailed log of your tweets it can be accomplished. It is crucial to know how your audience engages with the content you Tweet and this can only be accomplished through testing and analysis. We can only expect that the available tools out there will continue to develop and provide easier solutions to this.

The Power of Google Docs

Taking your analysis a step further, Google Docs is a powerful tool to extract large data sets from Twitter and other sites or Social APIs. I strongly suggest learning how to use the tools Tom Critchlow provides in this Moz post about Tracking Your Social Media Strategy. Not to mention, the f-ing amazing guide to Import XML on Distilled’s blog.

These tools for example, can help you compare Twitter users by number of followers and allow you to make an educated decision on whom to Tweet new content at. You could even go H.A.M and calculate the true reach of a Tweet by extracting the number of followers from every user that Retweeted your message. This will not only give you actionable metrics to report to your boss, but your coworkers will think you’re the illest motherf**ker alive.

So I touched on how we can track and analyze data for the first three practices that increase engagement, but measuring the fourth practice is still unanswered.

My Solution: Tweet Frequency

As I mentioned before, I created a tool to provide some form of measurement in gauging which hashtags or words are best to use in a Tweet. Now the reason I so badly want to measure this is because of the growing usage of Twitter Search for the latest news or updates on a specific topic.

Search queries in Twitter pull up the latest Tweets that include the words in said query. In addition, there are tons of sites out there that grab feeds of Tweets based on a certain hashtag or phrase. So the value of getting this right is high, as you can reach a wider audience and gather more followers through these outlets that are dependent on Twitter Search.

Since we can’t get accurate search volumes for search queries in Twitter, we need to find another metric that can provide a similar relative measurement. What I am doing to supplement search volume is to use Tweet Frequency. Yes this is a term I coined myself and I’m not going to brag about it and say this is some revolutionary metric, but I will say I haven’t found anyone else calculating this so I thought it would be valuable to share.

Twitter Search Tool

Google Doc which pulls in a feed of Twitter search and calculates the frequency of tweets for the query

What I have been doing is using the importFeed function in Google Docs to import feeds of Twitter Search results given a specific query. You can use just keywords, hashtags, or usernames to get a feed of search results.

Right now I am pulling in the first 100 results that come up. The reason is that with how frequent people Tweet, 100 data points are enough to take a measurement of how frequent someone Tweets about a subject.

The feed provides a timestamp, which I then take and calculate the time variance between each Tweet. Once the variance is calculated, I have it calculate the average of those variances. This gives me an average of how often Tweets go out on the subject (the query or hashtag I entered).

Now we have our Tweet frequency for a given query and can collect that metric for several queries to compare! Exciting stuff right? Well in the likely case that it’s not, hopefully this Google doc tool will make up for it. Just make a copy of the doc and start testing it out.

Keep in mind that some queries will not provide a value for the Tweet Frequency metric. This is due to there being less than a 100 results for that search, so you can essentially rule that query out comparatively to ones that do provide a numeric result.

This is a pretty simple tool and metric, so don’t expect it to be a full proof way to do this. Consider it more of something to get you started with.

I just recently wrote a post on SEOmoz on how to build an advanced keyword analysis report in Excel. The post provides an in-depth guide to building out your own keyword analysis report which pulls in data from several different places. It walks you through using Google Analytics and Adwords APIs and using pivot tables to categorize your keyword data sets.

If it sounds interesting, you can find that post here. In the comments I was asked if I was willing to share my data set to help people through the guide. So that is the main purpose of this post and here it is. Enjoy.

 

Keyword Analysis Reporting Template

Before I get into posting about new things, thought I would touch on a subject I blogged about before… and shamelessly plug this guest post of mine.

Facebook pages can be a powerful marketing tool if utilized the right way. The key to a great Facebook marketing strategy can vary greatly by type of business, by the way customers interact with your products, and the way customers interact with your website if applicable. A lot of it will have to do with trial and error, testing several strategies and analyzing the results to see which tactics convert the most. There are some general tactics and best practices for increasing interactions with Facebook pages, but I found that while these can generally be applied to all business pages, they can’t for musician or band pages.

Not because they don’t work, but because I believe musicians approach their outreach online differently. They have different interests at heart, they aren’t looking for the best marketing strategy or looking for ways to increase conversions, rather they are trying to spread their music and grow their following of fans while making some money in the process.

While some musicians may be business minded, I find that most are not and they don’t automatically correlate fans to customers or think in terms of sales, expenditures, ROI, etc. This inherent difference is why I thought it would be good to provide a guide to Facebook pages in a way bands can relate. My guide can be found here if it is of any interest to you. Enjoy.

Welcome. I just built this site today. I thought it was a good idea, but on second thought this site may cause me a lot of anxiety, deciding what to write about. Fuck, I’m already anxious typing this sentence. I need a drink.

Look out soon for some real posts soon.