Orange County SEO™ Blog

Measuring Social Media

You may find it easy to measure PPC and SEO results, but measuring social media impact is more complex.  Clients may be reluctant to invest in social media campaigns, however, until they see the “hard numbers.”  How can you measure social media impact in a way that your clients will understand?

One impact of social media is straightforward and easy to explain:  your competitors are using it.  Even if you never quantify the results of social media use, knowing that competitors are using it should be enough to engage most businesses.

The hype cycle shows the process that is seen when social media or any other technology is first “discovered” by a user.  Most business owners have initial inflated expectations followed by a “trough of disillusionment.”  This is followed by enlightenment as to reasonable expectations from the technology and, finally, a plateau of productivity.

Public Relations

PR used to be about crafting your message and placing it properly.  To a certain extent, this is still true.  Marketers send messages through social media to a receptive audience.  What has changed is that the audience can immediately decide what to do with the message, and this can take control of the message out of the “owner’s” hands.  However, building strong social media relationships can give business owners a measure of control over how their messages are perceived.

Can We Really Measure PR & Social Media Performance?

It is very difficult to measure the value of a relationship.  It is also difficult to identify a direct, causal relationship between your social media use and the willingness of someone to buy your product.

However, if you discard the idea that you are going to get cut-and-dried numbers from social media use, you can craft a reasonable measurement of the impact social media has on your business.

While there is no industry standard for measuring social media value, tying measurement to company goals must always be your own standard.  Look at your objectives and see if you have met them better since introducing social media.  From there, you can derive whatever formulas you like for measuring on a per-post or per-like basis.

You may also want to measure your impact on significant demographic groups.  Of the people who became followers or friends in the past month, how many were 20-to-30-year-old females?  This can help you determine if your social media use is reaching the groups you want to target.

Finally, review the overall cost of social media use.  Most of it is very low-cost if you are willing to put some sweat equity into it, but paid advertisements do represent part of your overall advertising budget.

Set a benchmark so you know if anything has changed over the past month, three months, year or whatever time period you choose.  Social media is dynamic, so a shorter time period is usually a better indicator of your actual performance.  Measure your return on investment for that time period and see if your investment in social media has caused changes to your bottom line.

Can an Upgraded Account Help Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile?

Have you thought about trying LinkedIn’s free 30-day premium account?  If you decide to upgrade, you can gain several important benefits and features.  Upgraded accounts can be a great asset to job seekers who can use the upgraded accounts to be “featured applicants” and for recruiters who can use the system contact those outside their own network groups.

Upgraded accounts also offer several features designed to give you more insight into your own engagement and the engagement of others with you.

Benefits of Upgrading

When you upgrade to a premium LinkedIn account, you get the opportunity to display your gold “In” badge and the “OpenLink” badge, notifying others that you are a premium member.

You also get expanded search results, permission to contact users outside your network and tools that allow you to bookmark and annotate others’ profiles.  An upgraded account also gives you the option to join the OpenLink network that allows others to message you at no cost, even if they are not in your group.

Another great tool is the “Profile Stats Pro” that allows you to see a list of who has viewed your profile in a certain period of time.  You can also show views of your profile by industry or by location, and monitor the keyword searches that have featured your profile.  You can see views by any of these categories easily and even find other helpful viewer information.

The Profile Stats Pro tool provides a better understanding of who is searching for you and how they are searching.  You may be able to tailor information in your profile to make you stand out in these types of searches.

For example, if you live in Atlanta and you see that people in that area are looking for technical writers, it might pay to spend some time brushing up your profile from a technical writing standpoint.  This might include optimizing your profile for keywords related to technical writing as well as keywords for cities around the Atlanta area where large technical writing firms are established.  It might also mean that you want to request endorsements from those who have worked with you as a technical writer in the past.  LinkedIn suggests common endorsement types; in the technical writer example, it might ask your colleagues to endorse you for technical writing as well as editing, composing, proofreading and other similar skills.

Cost of Upgrading

While LinkedIn offers a free 30-day trial of the upgraded account, it will cost you after the trial period.  The total cost depends on what type of premium account you choose and the features it contains.

There’s No Harm in Trying It

As long as you cancel before your 30 days are up, there is no cost to try the LinkedIn profile upgrade.  Try it out and see if the features work for you as you attempt to push yourself and your brand out to others who are looking for people like you.

Google Chrome Goes Dark

SEO marketers and webmasters have an unpleasant surprise coming in the form of Google Chrome.

The new Google Chrome 25 uses SSL to encrypt searches through Omnibox, the search tool used to type URLs, even if the user is not logged in.  Previously, searchers were encrypted only for logged-in users.  The keyword is no longer passed through analytics software, so this cuts down on the site owner’s ability to track keyword performance.

More (not provided), Fewer Keywords

Firefox made the decision to offer secure search in July 2012, surprising beating out iOS6, which jumped on the bandwagon in September 2012.

Since 2011, when the idea was first implemented, the (not provided) results have been steadily increasing.  Currently, SEO experts report rates between 20 and 39 percent of this message and the numbers are rising consistently.

What can you do about this growing issue?

Fortunately, there are ways to reclaim some of the lost ground.  The keyword data you are searching for does not pass through the referrer but it is still aggregated in Google Webmaster Tools and in AdWords, so look there.  It may not be as simple as using a referrer but you can still get a feel for keyword performance.

Another option is to use other search engine’s data such as Bing or Yahoo.  These two still send information through, so a “spot check” with these search engines may be enlightening.  However, you must understand that it will not be equivalent to Google results.  In other words, there is not necessarily a linear relationship between the number of Google users searching for specific keywords and those on Bing or Yahoo looking for the same keywords.  Bing and Yahoo users tend to be in different demographics than Google users, so they may have different search parameters.

You can also set up filters in Google Analytics to extract keyword position from the referring string, then append it to “not provided” or the landing page in question.  You can also simply look at “not provided” and the land page data.  This is not 100 percent guaranteed to give you good results but it is often useful as you think about common keyword strings.

Implications of Dark Data

What does dark data mean for SEO analysts and webmasters?  Although it is not the end of the world, it is something that must be considered when planning organic search strategy, if only because you no longer have access to the same analytic information as in the past.  Here is a summary of the implications of Google’s decision to “go dark” with Chrome 25:

  • - The new version of Google Chrome 25 will encrypt all search data, meaning that all requests via the Omnibox will be hidden from analytics. 
  • - Keyword data will not be passed to your analytics software from Chrome’s Omnibox, so you will receive a “not provided” code. 
  • - Tracking search traffic by referring keyword is, therefore, becoming increasingly difficult. 
  • - It is very likely that these (not provided) codes will appear at an increasing rate in the future.
  • - You can use other available data to estimate the lost keyword data from the (not provided) codes.  Possible tools including Webmaster Tools, AdWords, landing pages and Google Analytics.

BACK TO BASICS: What Are Keywords, and Why Do They Matter?

Keywords are a foundational part of Internet marketing, but some of us may have lost sight of their purpose.  Knowing why keywords matter will help you utilize them more effectively in your Internet marketing strategies.

What Are Keywords?

Keywords are single words or phrases that are incorporated into text and information in a subtle, natural manner.  If keywords are used correctly, they should flow with the sentence and paragraph structure so as to be unnoticeable.  If readers are consistently tripped up by keywords, they are probably used too heavily or in unnatural ways.

What Keywords Are Not

Keywords are not meant to be stuffed into content at a high rate or to be misleading about article or page content.  Hiding keywords through the use of colored fonts to make them invisible is also a no-no.

Google takes keyword misuse very seriously.  As the spiders look for quality content, they note instances of keyword abuse and can penalize a page for doing this.

Why Do SEOs Use Keyword Phrases?

Keywords ultimately help researchers understand how users in their market describe their products and seek information.  This allows them to use those words to describe page content to both human users and to Google.

Keyword research benefits marketing in two ways.  First, it improves the Search Engine Results Page or SERP rank.  This is the information that Google uses to rank your website among others that are like it.  Exact matches garner a higher search engine ranking than near matches.

Second, understanding how your users are searching for information about a topic helps you to better understand their needs.  This information can be used to create content that better serves the customer.

What Are Long-Tail Keywords?

Long-tail keywords are strings of three to five words that are targeted for a particular group.  Searchers often use long-tail keyword phrases when they want to limit the number of hits they get from Google.  For example, a searcher might look for “gluten-free cranberry bread recipes” as opposed to “cranberry bread” to eliminate all non-gluten-free options.

The more specific your long-tail keywords are in your meta title, description and copy, the more likely it is that these users will find your page.  However, if you make your long-tail keywords too discrete, you may lose customers who are looking for related themes.

Ideally, you should use several strings of long-tail keywords to hone in on various markets.  This requires keyword research to see exactly which terms people are using when they are searching for particular products through Google and other search engines.

The Final Analysis

Ultimately, keywords are just words, but they are words that have a particular power to induce others to find your webpage.  Observe the rules regarding keyword misuse, do your research on your target market, and you will find that keywords boost your SERP rank as well as drive more qualified customers to your site and ultimately give you a higher conversion rate.

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