Are You Excited That You Are Boosting Your Own Web Analytics

There is one person who will repetitively visit your website, you.  When consultants, trainers, or professional coaches decide to make online marketing a priority, they often begin checking in on the site to see changes or to inspire ideas.  While that level of engagement is great, it can cause false results on the analytic reports.

The last post was about critically analyzing web analytics and a good example recently came up.  A client was running three separate campaigns to boost site traffic.  The push was set up because they were testing three separate offers to see which call to action created the best conversion. At the end of two weeks the client called and said, “We’ve seen a boost in traffic of 30% this month (roughly 300 more visitors).” While a jump was expected such a marked change so quickly seemed excessive.

So we pulled up the analytics and began reviewing where the traffic came from.  As it turned out, some of the increased traffic was legitimate but about half of it was self-created.  This client had five trainers that were all being asked to provide their input on the calls to action.  As suggestions came in, the trainers would go back to the calls to action pages to review revisions.  Doing this several times resulted in the group creating a false 150 hits.

So why is this important?  The significance of the hits has two primary effects.  The first is that we never want to create false data that guides our decision making.  The campaign did have a good start but it was about a 15% increase.  Making a decision on the calls to action or traffic generating campaigns would not have had true tested data. The second effect is it can skew trends.  At the end of the second two weeks, the increase was just under 25%.  Had we not reviewed the hits it would have appeared as if we had peaked quickly and were now regressing, when in reality we were continuing to see gradual improvement.

For this particular example, the resolution was to implement filters for the IP addresses of the firm’s computers.  But as an illustrative example, it’s a reaffirmation of keeping a close eye on analytics and questioning results that seem overly positive or negative.

SEO Success Through Market Segmentation

Many consultants, trainers, and professional coaches come to search engine optimizing with overly grandiose expectations without the proper foundation.  When asked what their primary target keywords should be they’ll say something like, “sales training”.  While that’s a great keyword, it’s unlikely, at least in the short term, that the site will rank highly on that search phrase.  It would take a lot of time, effort, and probably money to be a top rank for something so general.  Rather than focus on a general term, break down key words in to segments that define your target audience.

The reason this strategy can be so effective is because it eliminates competition.  More accurately it narrows you down to you true competition so you can outperform their search rankings.  Here are a few examples of common segments.

Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Do you operate in a certain geographic area?  Then limit your terms to that locale.  Rather than a general search term, add the locations near you to the keyword targets.  Something like, “Pittsburgh Sales Training”.  This will ensure that you rank well for a more specific search and increases the likelihood that any leads generated from the term will be a viable prospect.

Service Specific Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Do you offer a specific service that’s a differentiator from other common services?  Try adding that to the search terms like, “Online sales training curriculum”.  Again this limits who will be targeting the keyword to ensure that you are ranking for terms ideally suited to your audience.

Affiliate Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Are you associated with a known quantity that could pull in interested parties?  Use the affiliation for specificity terms like, “CPE Certified Accounting Course”.  Searches for the affiliations invite the potential to be pulled in with top ranked offerings.

Segment For Your Target Market

Segmentation is really a process of identifying your target market and speaking to what makes you an ideal trainer, consultant, or professional coach to that group.

Are Your SEO Strategies Causing User Problems?

There are a lot of ways of manipulating your webpage’s code to improve search engine ranks.  While we want to use all the tools in our arsenal, they shouldn’t be abused.  Make sure that your SEO tactics aren’t causing user experience problems.

If you have a web template specifically set up with SEO in mind then chances are this is a minor or non-existent issue.  But for many consultants, trainers, and professional coaches, their site was set up with a professional look but not necessarily with SEO elements in mind.

Here’s a common example, using h1 or h2 tags can increase the value a search engine places on the content.  Many sites are built with a WordPress, Drupal, or other CMS template that has a set definition to how h1 and h2 tags display.  In an effort to highlight an important keyword one of these tags might be used in the body of a paragraph or across a whole sentence.  That can make the page look bad and create user problems.  Imagine if I wanted to highlight a particular phrase in a sentence:

You perceive traditional marketing strategies as exploitative and even manipulative behavior. It goes against your grain to think of yourself in the role of stereotypical selling. Handle the Pressures of Business Development. Text text text.

Unless it’s a very specific design decision the sentence looks like an error.  Do that several times throughout a page and it will be darn right hard to read.

Make sure that your template is responsibly adding SEO elements.  If the template is not well suited to add these elements, find ways of formatting the page so that it’s easy to read and works well for search engines.  The page needs to be usable to a person because all the traffic in the world won’t produce an ounce of value if people struggle to take in your message.

Blog Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Considerations

One of the most powerful benefits for a blog is its SEO capabilities.  Every single post can provide content to the search engines on a topic catered to your product or service.  This is extremely valuable to trainers, consultants, and professional coaches because it provides a platform to illustrate their knowledge and how they help clients.  However, a plan needs put in place so that the right content is being fed to search engines.  Setting desirable keywords and page structure is critical to maximizing the SEO benefits.

Keywords are phrases that you’d want to rank highly on search engines for.  Make that list and have it handy.  The more you can work those phrases into your articles the better.  Using those keywords in titles or links can add an extra boost to the importance search engines place on it.

A word of warning not to get carried away.  Using the same phrase every other sentence is annoying to read and first and foremost we want to ensure that the posts are valuable to our readers.  Also don’t try to cover every topic all at once.  For instance, in my case, if I write a post about blogging, I shouldn’t be looking to sprinkle in a lot of email marketing keywords.  Mix in the appropriate phrases where it makes sense but don’t force it.

After a post is written with identified keywords, an often overlooked aspect of blogging is incorporating search engine optimization features.  Truly, there is no reason to skip it as there are plugins for blogging platforms that make it easier than ever.  For wordpress, I use All in One SEO Pack  but if you are less familiar with SEO, YOAST provides a visual dashboard to rank how well the page is set up and provides suggestions to improve.

Whatever plugin you use there are 4 major areas that should be filled in.

The first is a category.  These are your overarching topics for the blog.  Using categories serves as a general keyword and on most templates will function as a navigation link that readers can use to sort articles.   Assign a category to every post, nothing should be left on the default “undefined”.

The second is tags.  Every keyword or phrase that is in the article should be tagged in your blog.  This insures that the code includes those keywords directly to the search engine so that it’s sure to be incorporated into the listing.

The third is URL name.  It’s more advantageous to have the URL include the title and/or keywords rather than be a random string of numbers, which is usually the default setting.  Most plugins will do this automatically or let you define it manually.

The fourth is a title tag.  This is an unseen section of the site but very important for search engines.  Most plugins will use the title by default but can usually be modified.  The title is a good start but if you can work in a couple extra keywords here, so much the better.

SEO is often a part of blogging that trainers, consultant, and professional coaches struggle with but it doesn’t have to be daunting.  Once you set up the tools for SEO it’s just the follow up step to writing an article.  The advantage being that it will be visible to more people via search engine and drive targeted traffic to your site.