Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How to Stop Spam Bots from Ruining Your Analytics Referral Data

A few months back, my agency started seeing a referral traffic spike in our Google Analytics account. At first, I got excited. Someone is linking to us and people are clicking. Hooray!

Wrong! How very, very wrong. As I dug deeper, I saw that most of this referral traffic was sent from spammers, and mostly from one spammer named Vitaly Popov (or, as I like to call him, “the most recent pain in my ass”). The domains he owns have been giving our company’s site and most of our clients’ sites a few hundred sessions per month, enough to throw off the analytics data in many cases.

His sites aren’t the only ones I’ll cover in this how-to, but his spam network has been the biggest nuisance lately. If you’re getting spam referrers in your analytics, you should be able to follow the same steps to stop these data-skewing nimcompoops from spoiling your data, too. Why do I need to worry about blocking and filtering these sites?

There are two main reasons I’m motivated to block these on all sites that I work with. First: corrupt analytics data. A few hundred hits a month on a site like Moz.com isn’t going to move the needle when compared to the sheer volume of sessions they have daily. However, on a small site for a local plumber, 30 sessions per day is likely going to be 70% spam referral traffic, suffocating the remaining legitimate traffic and making marketing analysis a frustrating endeavor.

Second: server load and security. I didn’t ask them to crawl or visit my site. Their visits are using my server resources for something that I don’t want or need. An overloaded server means slower load times, which translate to higher bounce rates and lower rankings. On top of that, who knows what else they’re doing on my site while they’re there. They could easily be looking for WordPress, plugin and server vulnerabilities.
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Monday, April 28, 2014

Social Media for Local Business

Social Media or PPC?
When it comes to driving website traffic, local business has typically gravitated more readily toward buying traffic, primarily using PPC (pay per click) advertising, over tapping into social media and learning how to harness social media marketing.
The tendency for local business to favor PPC over Social Media is understandable. Local business operators look for quick results, and usually don’t have the bandwidth to focus their efforts on mastering online marketing. They tend to have limited marketing budgets and often favor the “do-it-yourself” online marketing approach rather than spend precious budget on outsourcing their electronic marketing to a qualified professional or online marketing company.
At first glance, social marketing looks promising to the “do-it-yourself” local business owner. Social media marketing seems to be all the rage, and the outlay of dollars to conduct social marketing campaigns can be minimal. But actually generating successful results with social media is elusive and local businesses quickly discover how time consuming social marketing can be. Frequently, with nothing to show for the countless hours invested.
Hence, the favor toward PPC. Buying paid traffic has generally worked reliably enough. Traditionally, the ability to achieve page one placement for PPC advertising in the search engines (Google Adwords), has been reasonably attainable for many local businesses in most local and regional markets. However, this trend may be starting to shift. PPC competition, even for local business, has become much stiffer. The prospect of beating the competition at PPC advertising by paying higher and higher bid rates continues to push PPC into a more expensive proposition for local business.
The shift to social media from paid search starting to accelerate for local business

Typically, local businesses have been more comfortable with the fast and scalable results from paid search. The biggest frustration with social media has been the time.
Social media focuses on building relationships and interacting with your market which can be very time consuming. This is difficult for businesses to grasp since they have been used to more immediate and scalable results with paid search.
However, a recent survey conducted by Roost finds local businesses beginning to prefer social media marketing over paid search.
This study reveals that more than 71 percent of the small businesses surveyed believe social media is more effective than paid search. And only 15 percent of those surveyed continue to hang on to paid search as their most effective means of online marketing.
Which social media platforms do local businesses rank as the most popular?
Of the respondents surveyed, 84 percent of local businesses find Facebook to be the most effective marketing channel. LinkedIn was ranked second with 8 percent followed by Twitter at 7 percent. And only 0.5 percent of the local businesses surveyed did not find social marketing effective at all.
Economics and cost savings seems to be the key driver behind the rising trend toward social marketing for local business. Roughly 45 percent of businesses surveyed claim they use social media because it “saves money. Local businesses also suggest they actually enjoy using social media as a “fun way to interact with people”. And a third reason with 44 percent of the votes is that social media helps keep the local business ”top of mind” with consumers.
If you have a local business and you’re not leveraging social media marketing, you should start to think about how to get started.  Social media works and it’s not a passing fad, it’s not going away. Most important, social media is becoming the consumer choice for interacting with local businesses and brands.
Yes, social media takes time and has its challenges, but it’s effective if you learn how to do it right. And as social marketing continues to evolve and mature, it may make the most sense for your business to leverage the help of a social marketing professional.

Search Engine Marketing News | Tips for Facebook Marketing

If you have spent any time building content or looking into organic search engine marketing tactics, you undoubtedly have come across Facebook as a possible platform. Since Facebook started as a personal social site, you might have some reservations about building Facebook into a search engine marketing blog for your business. As we dive into this topic, you will hopefully find your niche in this rich marketing soil as well as come to understand a little more about content marketing in general.

As with any professional search engine marketing you do, you’ll want to consider the value that you’re providing to your clients and search engine bots. Your content should contain at least one of the 3 E‘s. Provideeducational information, empower your audience with the tools to succeed or simply entertain them. Do any one of these things–or several of them if you’re up for it–and your readers (both real and robot) will boost your ratings, driving better traffic to your site. This is one of the reasons we talk all day long about quality content here.

An extra little trick that Facebook adds to your usual SEO playbook is engagement ratings.  Employing the three E’s is a great way to get your audience to LIKE your posts, leave comments of their own and interact with other elements of your site. This interaction is called engagement. Better content = better engagement.

The better your engagement score on FB, the higher and more often you end up in the NewsFeed. Here’s an insider tip: Before you do something significant in your business, get your engagement up on FB a week or two before. Be sure to ask questions and tell your fans to LIKE the post if they agree. By the time the metrics have run their course, your site will be riding a high wave of engagement right as you release the news about your significant move.
With high engagement you can further seduce the robots scanning your search engine marketing blog for signs of life. But there are some other gems that make FB your friend when doing any kind of professional search engine marketing. FB can be a great hub wherein you collate your online presence. It is the perfect bluejeans and blazer combo. FB can be perfectly dressed for any occasion. Professional or personal. By linking your other social media sites to your fan page you are, in a sense, humanizing your online business. This is a great way to capitalize on the personal element that might have been off-putting.

Another trick to make the most of your Facebook search engine marketing blog is to exploit the ability to use images. Insert your images with a call to action. If you are small, get in the habit of shooting your own images with your smart phone and keeping a library of them. You can even slap a few words on the image to make a stronger point. This will give the bots something to chew on and the low-tech quality of your shots can give the feeling of a “back door” look at your business.
You can also take a screen capture of your actual blog post and embed that into your Facebook post. This mixes up the content to give it a more interesting flair. But by embedding a post you had on another site, you can extend the life of your content without sending red flags to the search engines.
Another thingabout FB images is that they have recently been upgraded. These new ginormous picture capabilities can skyrocket your engagement. There is a lot of luck with selecting imagery to make the search engine marketing news, but you can narrow down the guesswork by reading our take on using visuals in content marketing.

For some real visual pop you can also add some video to your Facebook page. People are more likely to click on your post if there is video in it. Videos are a great opportunity to communicate your more difficult messages. Use videos sparingly, however, since you don’t want end up in a competition with YouTube.
Remember that most people are on FB to have fun, not to do business. So keep your messages simple and  relevant with an element of entertainment or some light-hearted thought-provoking. The more curious or eye-catching you can make it, the better it will be received by your fans when it is sandwiched between searching for old college sweethearts and their nephews soccer pictures. Or, if you are really struggling with the fun/business balance maybe you can use your Facebook page to just tell a story.

Local SEO – How To Get More Business Locally

Now more than ever getting your business found locally online is critical to your success. Mobile devices and new location sensing technology enable people to find exactly what they are looking for nearby. If you have what they want, and you show up in local searches you can acquire new customers and do more business easier than ever.
Try This Test:
If you are a business owner and you rely on people contacting you from the local area or coming to your location try this test: (assuming you have a smartphone or phone that can browse the web) Do a Google search for your products and services while you are at your business. Do you show up? If not, read on and even if you do this post may help your business become even more visible.
By the way, if you are still using a mobile phone that DOES NOT have the ability to browse the web, or have a GPS or mapping features I highly recommend you upgrade and get with the times. You ARE missing out!
The goal of SEO is to increase a business’ visibility to a targeted audience, but local SEO takes targeting even further. By focusing on customers and prospects in a specific area, local SEO can drive traffic to websites and physical bricks and mortar locations. Restaurants, retail stores, law firms, car dealerships, and even dental or medical clinics can benefit from local SEO.
An effective local SEO campaign requires a combination of geo-targeted optimization and content marketing, business listings and back links, and user-generated reviews as well as citations.
How To Optimize Your Website For Local SEO
Local SEO uses the same elements as traditional SEO does, but it requires a few specific elements as well.
  • Contact Information and Business Hours – This is the information search engines, listings or directories, and customers often look for when they first visit local business websites. A business’ operating hours and contact information, which includes its physical address and phone number, should be displayed on every page of its website.
  • Hyper Local Keywords – Keywords and phrases containing the business’ location should appear in Title tags, META descriptions, and content. Simply targeting a city or state may not be enough to drive local leads. Going hyper local by targeting even more specific communities within your city can help get more customers through your doors. Our SEO teams analyze where local website traffic is coming from and use that data to choose better geo-targeted keywords.
  • Targeting Local Markets with Content – Content marketing for local campaigns requires the same amount of creativity and quality for any other SEO campaign, but there needs to be a stronger emphasis on calls to action, influence marketing, and topics relevant to the business’ location.
  • Featuring Local Topics – Our writers create content based on what’s relevant to your business and your location. Writing about local trends or even area-specific laws that are related to your industry is always a good way to establish your authority as an information resource.
  • Creating Brand Advocates – Our writers don’t just sell or announce your products and services – they encourage customer loyalty and create brand advocates. These customers who love your brand can promote them through word of mouth and by sharing content on social media.
  • Establishing Business Identity – Establishing a business’ online identity starts with proper content attribution. We can add Google+ authorship mark-up snippets to the content we produce so that Google will display the author’s name and picture and website information in Google search results. Here is an example of that:
Managing Business Listings and Social Pages
Google+ Local may be the most popular listing website, but that doesn’t mean you have to limit your local campaigns to that. We claim, verify, and manage your business listings on Google+ Local, Bing Local, Yelp, Yahoo! Local, and the Yellow Pages as well as others. You can also handle it all through Yext or a service like them that makes it easy to manage all your listings from one place.

Your local campaigns can also benefit from our social media services, which will cover your Facebook and Twitter accounts. We keep these listings and pages updated, and help you manage other content that goes onto them such as reviews, blog posts, press releases, industry information, announcements and anything your audience may find useful or entertaining.
You can also include other social networks in your campaign if they’re suitable for your business and audience. For example, if you’re a photographer, you might benefit from creating a Pinterest account. Link to these pages on your social media accounts and your website, and encourage your customers to leave reviews or check in when they visit your physical establishment.
Building Quality Citations
Quality backlinks is an important aspect of any SEO campaign, but citations are even more important for local SEO. Citations are brand mentions made by customers or other businesses on third-party websites. These brand mentions are key ranking factors in local search. Some of the most important and effective types of citations include:
  • Social or Blog Citations: Encouraging brand advocates and local influencers to talk about you in their blogs and social media accounts is a good way to acquire citations.
  • Business Listings and Reviews: Listings in business directories, local networks, and review sites in themselves are citations. Managing these listings and getting more customers to post positive reviews of your business can add more citations.
  • Guest Posts and Magazine Publications: Getting other people to write about your business in an online magazine or publishing your own articles and press releases can increase your exposure and establish your brand as a leading authority in your niche. Our local SEO packages include citation building and link development services to help
    get your brand’s name mentioned in social media, online publications, and more.
Managing Customer Reviews
Your local listings and social accounts need to have unique content that goes beyond your business description, operating hours, and contact details. The best way to get this type of content is through customer reviews.
Providing good service and quality products is not the only way to encourage customers to write positive reviews. Integrating links to your social media pages and business listings in your website, publishing press releases about your new listings, and engaging customers through online content can also get them to share their thoughts.

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Learn and Excel if you want to success both in life and in business.