Hub and Spoke Marketing: May the Force Be with You

Death star marketingHub and spoke marketing is quite simple in theory, but not so much in practice. Many marketers think of the company website as a hub, and the spokes are the possible channels through which leads may be attracted to your website such as social media, press releases, search engines, directories and advertising. The idea is to have as many different channels as possible leading to your site. Hub and spoke is an accurate depiction of this theory, but allow us to present a better one…

Presenting the Death Star Analogy
Rather than the hub and spoke theory, I prefer to think of the company website as the Death Star and all the other online channels make up the tractor beam that pulls the ships in. Not to say that your website is deadly, but it should be an effective conversion machine with attractive landing ports (pages) and enticing content. Here we’ll show you how to start catching those ships in your tractor beam.

Building Your Tractor Beam
You want your tractor beam to be as powerful as possible to attract the right leads and search engines. In order to make sure your pull is stronger than that of any other competing death stars, strategy-based content needs to be provided on multiple fronts.

  • Verbal Social Media & Blogs

Your blog should be SEO optimized and designed to pull traffic in through informative and engaging content about your industry. Many companies utilize sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to post brief content that can draw people into the website. Posting snippets from your blog, company or industry news, and information about events can motivate people to go to your site and check it out or share your information with hundreds of others, thereby increasing the reach of your tractor beam. Keep your keywords in mind when posting on social media as well.

  • Visual Social Media

Most marketers are aware that images and photographs can significantly boost conversion rate. Unlike verbal communication, visuals attract attention quickly and can draw people into your site with a one-second glance. Pull people into your tractor beam by sharing attractive and informative images on sites like Pinterest, Flickr or YouTube. By informative I mean that a consumer should be able to see what your product or service entails in your images. When it comes to a photo of your product or service, a picture really is worth 1,000 words.

  • Press & Directories

Getting an article about your company in the press, whether it’s traditional paper press or digital media, is a great way to get more traffic coming in. Start by finding a local industry blog or small publication that provides news from your industry and provide an informational piece. Or, find an industry site where you may be able to guest blog. There are also several online directories and consumer review sites where your company can be listed to pull in more traffic. Start with Google Places, Yelp, Yahoo Local, small business directories, and industry-specific directories.

  • Advertising

Good old advertising. PPC campaigns and Google Adwords may not be free like organic search. (Well, hopefully you do pay your content writers.) But, these ads are guaranteed to get people to your website and directly to one of your landing pages. Ads should never lead to your homepage. People who click on your ads already have a product or service in mind and should be directed to an informative landing page where they may be easily converted to a customer without much fuss. Make sure your landing page headline matches your ad campaign, or you may not end up with the droids you’re looking for.

Hub and Spoke, or the new and improved Death Star Theory, is a simple concept but it does require time and strategy. If you need help building your tractor beam, or you aren’t finding the droids you’re looking for, give us a call. We’ve got tractor beam engineers at the ready.

Keyword (Not Provided) – Adapting to the World of Google Secure Search

September 2013 was a big month for Google. Marking their 15th Anniversary, Google announced the major algorithm update Hummingbird, which will no doubt expand Google’s ability to parse search and lead to more exciting capabilities in the future.

While Google upgraded their algorithm, they downgraded the data webmasters can see in Google Analytics. Specifically, the keyword data associated with a search will not be provided to site owners. This change comes as a byproduct of Google switching all searches on its engine over to encrypted search.

Google started down this road in late 2011 by redirecting users signed into their Google accounts to secure search. Such searches appeared as “(not provided)” in web analytics packages, including Google Analytics. At first this was a fairly small percentage of searches. Now, it is 80-90%, soon to be 100%.

Why Google Made This Change

Google hasn’t offered much comment as to their motive for making this change. A Google representative commented to Search Engine Watch that they are “working to bring this extra protection [secure search] to more users who are not signed in.” It’s a simple explanation, but as with all things Google, any number of factors could be in play. For instance, keyword data is still available…in your AdWords account. If you’re willing to spend money with Google, they’re willing to let you know more about your industry space. Google is not a charity, but SEOs have taken note of this fact.

What You Can Do

Keyword data in Analytics served several purposes. You could compare keyword traffic projections to traffic realities. You could discover which keywords converted best organically, or find long-tail phrases to target with expanded content. You could also identify which keywords were bouncing most off of which page, and adjust your content strategy accordingly so searchers would be directed to a page on your site that better meets their needs.

These are all important functions, but many of these insights can be gained without the assistance of Google’s full keyword data. Google’s Webmaster Tools will provide some limited keyword data. Bounce rate will still be available, and the keyword data from engines like Yahoo & Bing can help you get a handle on how the page is being searched for. Rank trackers, while subject to inaccuracy due to personalization, still provide important clues to the nature of a site’s traffic. If anything, Rank Trackers will now be used more dynamically, not just for one or two word “head” terms, but more complex queries. Seeing your site underperform in the rankings on “red girl’s bicycle,” and perform well on “red boy’s bicycle,” will tell you where you need to add content and make you reconsider the focus of your page all the same.

For a long time now Google has been emphasizing to webmasters and SEOs that on-site content and on-site engagement are more important to them than any other factor, including links. Their technology continues to catch up to their stated aims. While we won’t be able to see, on a granular level, the keywords that are coming to your website from Google, the keys to getting traffic remain the same – provide a lot of content about something people like, and make the experience enjoyable, sharable, and memorable. This is perfectly in line with our values as a company, and at Leverage we’re excited to help our clients create such experiences for their users.