Posts about search engine optimization

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.

Google Announces New Algorithm: Hummingbird

As the world’s most widely used search service, Google is constantly making changes to adapt to new user needs and the technologies supporting and creating those needs. Mobile in particular has grown more influential, as more searches and different kinds of searches are being performed on mobile devices. In response to this new reality, Google has unveiled a brand new algorithm update for us all to get to know – Hummingbird.

How Does Google Hummingbird Compare to Penguin & Panda?

If you haven’t noticed any significant changes in traffic or rankings, it’s because this update isn’t aimed at devaluing certain kinds of links (Penguin) or devaluing and ignoring certain kinds of content (Panda). It’s not intended to eliminate spam or come down on black hat SEOs that go against Google’s guidelines (those guys are our enemies, too!). Instead this update is about new features, expanded functionality, and the Google search engine adapting to the contemporary search world.

Google’s last major update of this nature was Caffeine, an upgrade to the Google engine designed to index the massive amounts of content being produced each second online. Hummingbird is an update to the Google engine that is designed to answer more complex questions by interpreting the relationship between words in a query rather than just deliver a list of content containing keywords. For example, Google is addressing questions that deal with comparison or knowledge seeking such as, “Is sugar or Splenda better for me?” or “What is best way to get to the mall and avoid traffic?”

Voice Search Optimization

Google is heading towards the optimization of voice-based search, so that when someone asks a device complex and conversational questions, Google will be able to return accurate results. Hummingbird also focuses on remembering the topic at hand so that various questions may be asked about one item without repeating the subject. For example the question, “Where was Shakespeare born?” can be followed by “Where did he study?” and Google search will interpret he as Shakespeare.

What Does Google Hummingbird Mean for SEO?

This still means that original and relevant content is key, and SEO writing may become easier and definitely more natural as search engines will go about searching for answers as a human might go about research. Hummingbird will focus on the overall concept of a question rather than the individual words of the question. We’ll keep you up to date on more Google Hummingbird details as they come out.

How Important Is Landing Page Optimization?

Landing Page Heat MapIf your company relies on generating leads or selling products online, landing page optimization (LPO) is essential to your success. Depending on the size of your company, you could be losing thousands to millions of dollars a year due to something as miniscule as the text on your call to action button. Let’s take a look at some of the factors on your landing page that could boost your customer conversion rate between 20%-300%.
Read more

4 Huge Tactics To Get Clients To Walk Through The Door

The most important thing any business needs to do to survive is reach customers. Traditionally, this can mean cold calls, billboards, flyers, and a slew of other advertising means. However, inbound marketing allows businesses to create a web presence that encourages clients to seek out and make use of the company. Harnessing this ability can be difficult, so being aware of the options and goals of this type of marketing are vital to being effective.

Social Feeds

Social media is an amazing way to connect with clients immediately and intimately. Being able to post updates about your business and useful tidbits that would intrigue clients is a great way to connect with people and keep your name in the forefront of the customer’s mind. Moreover, your clients have a way to give praise and discuss concerns directly with you. As soon as they contact your business, you can reply and meet whatever needs they put forth, even if it’s just needing a thank you for a compliment.

Blogs

Blogs are a great way to share your expertise with your clients. You have knowledge about your field that is both useful and powerful. When you give that information in a simple and accessible way, your clients will be able to take advantage of your knowledge and you’ll be establishing your company as an expert in the field. When it comes time to buy product or start a service, those clients will be drawn to you.

eBooks

Though one of the most underutilized forms of inbound marketing, eBooks are a great way to find leads. In essence, an eBook is a source of information about something your clients want to know in depth. You can post the first page or two as a taste, then ask the client to download the eBook if they want to read the rest. In exchange for the download, you ask only for contact information. Every person who reads this free literature is someone who is interested in your company and someone you can reach out to.

Search Engines

For many people today, the first way they try to find a product or service is online. Making your company’s website appear on search engines is an absolute necessity to be found. There are many tactics that can accomplish this, but basically you want to create a site that has a significant amount of relevant content and keywords that people are likely to search for. You can also create a site map that helps search engines determine exactly what you offer and where it’s located.

Bringing customers to you is essential to thriving in today’s marketplace. Whether your company is a one person start up or a fortune 500, a social and content driven site will bring more people in. When you’re ready to see your leads and site visits increase, explore Leverage Marketing to see what they can do for you.

The Boom in Search Technology

The boom happened before the birth of the iPhone, but it leapt into astronomical figures after 2007. Mobile internet began its quest for supremacy and never looked back.  With the ascent of various tablets and further advanced devices, mobile internet devices and ISPs have increased their reach to provide customers with more access. Status updates, online purchases, cloud computing, photo sharing, streaming video, games, and other apps have increased the number of mobile users.  Searching on a mobile device now allows our society accessibility we never had and can no longer do without.

Smartphones and other mobile devices are often more readily available than laptops or desktops when it comes to internet searching; therefore the desktop is lagging behind. In today’s right-now mindset, searching via mobile is often the way to go. IPhone4s users can simply ask a voice activated search tool named “Siri” for directions, reviews, emailing, weather and more.

Many factors drive the mobile search phenomenon, such as time. Time of a day is an important factor when it comes to internet searches, whether on a desktop or mobile device. Various studies illustrate that internet searches conducted during the am hours are done on a desktop/laptop, whereas searches toward the end of the day and bedtime are conveniently on mobile devices.

Advertisers are seeing the phenomenon of mobile searching technology and its new effect on growth in business.  Advertisers with mobile-optimized sites and targeted campaigns have 11.5% higher clickthrough rates than non-mobile optimized sites. If you are a smart phone user, you know how annoying it can be to search for a site only to find out they don’t have a mobile version, and companies are definitely taking note of such problems. Mobile technology users are, with more frequency, not dealing with businesses not optimized for mobile search due to accessibility and time constraints.

Number one on the mobile search juggernaut list is, non-surprisingly, Facebook. Photos, status updates, video, file sharing, posting articles, all with the ease of a mobile device. Facebook has essentially been the forefront of PR machines because of its reach and accessibility. Not only is Facebook the most searched for, there are also nearly 2,500 variations of search queries with the word “Facebook.”  In second place is Google and third place is YouTube owned by Google.

Desktop searching is still kicking, though on its back. Desktoppers are still alive, but the transformation has taken over. There is no doubt that mobile searches will continue to boost.  Look at the infographic presented by Startapp to dig deeper into mobile search trends.

Bing Leads the Way with Disavow Links Tool

Perhaps due to the launch of Google’s Penguin update and the mounting fear of negative SEO, a tactic in which malicious competitors attempt to harm a site’s rankings through targeted spammy link building, website owners have become more and more worried about the potential harm a bad link could do to their site. Although Google representatives have stated that it is very difficult for a competitor to harm another site’s rankings, it still remains possible. Bing representatives and documentation, have also recently tried to calm webmaster worries by stating that Bing can detect a “sudden appearance of obviously spammy links pointed at your site.”  After detecting these unusual spammy links, Bing is most likely to ignore them. Nevertheless, negative SEO still remains a possibility and links that have been built to a site in the past could be hurting the site’s potential to rank in the search engines now. In the face of this building concern, Bing has responded and offered webmasters a way to distance their sites from unnatural or spammy links that are currently pointing to their domains.

 

In order to give webmasters more control over which links they want to distance their sites from, Bing created and released the Disavow Links Tool in July. As a part of Bing’s Webmaster Toolbox, this feature allows webmasters to signal which links to their site they don’t trust. Links that appear unnatural or spammy can now be disavowed with this easy-to-use tool. By taking a look through your backlinks using tools like Bing’s own Link Explorer, Raven’s Backlink Explorer or the Open Site Explorer, a webmaster can identify spammy or unnatural links and submit them to the Link Disavow Tool simply by plugging in the URL, choosing a link type and pressing a button. Although Google has been talking about launching a similar tool for months, Bing has beat them to the punch and offered the tool to all users who have verified their site in Bing’s Webmaster Tools.

Bing has recently expanded the set of features in its Webmaster Toolbox to include: an expanded SEO Analyzer which provides SEO suggestions tailored to your site, a keyword research tool that offers keyword statistics and suggestions and a new link explorer tool which allows users to explore links pointing to any domain. With this expanded set of features, Bing seems to have embraced the fact that website owners want to improve their SEO. By providing innovative tools that arm webmasters and search engine optimization specialists with actionable data, Bing has provided what webmasters and specialists need to make websites better. The ramifications this improved functionality could have on Bing’s search results and the web at large could be immense. Additionally, by challenging Google’s Webmaster Tools product to do more, we could see reactive and competitive improvements within their set of Webmaster Tools – all of which could benefit webmasters and the web in general greatly. The strides that Bing has made in terms of search engine algorithm transparency and webmaster assistance have been huge. The Link Disavowal Tool is just another example of how Bing is changing the landscape of search and the web in general and how in some cases Google, the supposed industry leader, is now having to play catch-up.

Within the SEO department here at Leverage Marketing Agency, we monitor both Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools for our clients and leverage the data contained therein to improve our clients’ SEO. I would recommend that all webmasters consider verifying their sites in Bing Webmaster Tools, if they haven’t already, in order to use and leverage the free tools offered within the extensive toolbox. Also, stay tuned for a follow-up post explaining how and when to use the Link Disavow Tool and how to identify a negative SEO attack coming soon from the SEO team.

Back To Basics – SEO Content Writing

Say farewell to the days of keyword stuffing and to text that reads poorly.  2012 has been a year of cleaning up for Google.  In the wake of these updates, we find ourselves revisiting our SEO campaigns to make sure that our SEO content writing strategies we have in place for our clients don’t cause rankings to drop thus hurting opportunities for conversions.  Writing for SEO has become more about delivering a better user experience.

What keeps your visitors interested in you?  What keeps your visitors interested in your products? What keeps your visitors ON your website?

As most of my colleagues know, my writing for SEO was based on a love/hate relationship. I’ve had to make several adjustments that have taken many lessons and lots of practice.  With my new lessons and techniques in hand, I would like to share with you what new lessons I have learned throughout my time at Leverage Marketing.

For my writing to be successful, I have followed several tips. Most of these tips are basic SEO content techniques, but some are SEO content writing techniques that have been taken up a notch.

An Interested Reader – Doesn’t Read the Entire Page Content *GASP*

It’s the truth.  When writing for SEO, remember that your readers are only going to consume a short amount of information. When you land on a website that ranks well for the information you searched for, what is the first thing that grabs your attention? The content on the page or a call to action?  When you read the content, most of the time unless you are reading a book, you stop before you come to the middle of your screen.  If you don’t find what you are looking for above the fold, you have lost interest and have moved on to the next page or site in search for your 411. As a SEO content writer, your best and most important work should be above the fold. It is vital to your website and conversions that you get your point across quickly and efficiently.

Headings that Convert

Every company has unique selling points and benefits that differentiate themselves from the competition. Keeping a balance of your differences and benefits with focused keywords is key to capturing your audience’s eye with headings. I have learned that a general rule of thumb to follow is to include a major selling point or call to action in your H1, second major H2 and so on. Remember, your job as a SEO writer is to keep the visitor interested, and help them find what they need and get them to convert.

Call To Action

Make sure you remind the reader why they came to your page. Place call to actions more than once on your page, but make sure your call to actions are in alignment. We don’t want to confuse the audience by sending them mixed messages.

I haven’t the chance to use this technique in my own SEO writing, but I have read positive stories about the use of:

Bullet Points

I was thinking the same thing…how can bullet points help my SEO content writing be interesting and informative?  But after reading some of the benefits that bullet points bring to the table, it’s definitely worth a try.

Dylan Thomas of Search Engine Journal tells us “Like headings, bullet points offer dual incentives for your SEO. They break up the page and stand out from the rest of the text, which means they’ve got a better chance of being read.” He also goes on to say that the information listed in the bullet points can be prominently linked to relevant internal pages.

Each SEO campaign has different goals. But within these goals, still lies the goal to rank well, to increase traffic and to make a sale of some sort. If you use some of the SEO tips that I have provided, your goals can see improvements. If you use your keywords in interesting copy intended for the audience and not the search engines, you will see a difference in your websites results.

 

Video Optimizing 101

With millions of users and viewers on YouTube DAILY, it’s no wonder why SEOs have increased their video optimization efforts. When video optimization was a “new” SEO tactic, it was very basic. Optimize the title, description and tags and you’re done. Now, it can be a lengthy process with a large focus on the content and how the videos interact and engage with viewers.

If you or your client has videos, don’t overlook optimization as not worth your time. Videos are a great way to drive traffic to your website and a great way to engage with people to build brand awareness. Videos are very popular and it’s for the same reason why a lot of people have watched a movie-version of a book.

So there are two things that come to mind when I think about video optimization:

  1. Ranking in natural search results

    Video rankings in natural search results

    Search Results in Google

  2. Ranking in YouTube

    Video search results in YouTube

    Search results in YouTube

Optimizing Videos to Appear in Natural Search Results:

In my experience, I have found this to be tricky to accomplish. I haven’t been able to discover an exact method to have videos appear in natural search results. However, here are a few tips that I’ve noticed help videos appear in search results:

  • Have a channel that is well established and engaging
    • This includes large number of views, followers, thumbs up or down, multiple videos (This is explained further down)
    • Long-tail keyword phrases in titles and description
      • I think this is key for videos to appear in search results. Videos that utilize very specific long-tail keyword phrases seem to appear much more easily than general searches (even for brand names)

Let’s take a look at a search for “Gabby Douglas” for example:Search for Gabby Douglas in Google

For a general search of “Gabby Douglas,” no video or video links appear.  Despite having several videos of her on YouTube, and especially with the Olympics going on right now, you expect that many videos of her gymnastics are being watched. So, I’d imagine videos on Gabby Douglas are engaging and popular, yet none show up in a general search.

However, once you search for “Gabby Douglas Floor Routine”… Voila! several videos appear. Once you search for a very specific phrase, more videos appear in the search results. Based on that, I can speculate that in order for your video to show up in search results (more easily), not only do you need a well-established and engaging channel; you need to be very strategic in how you title your videos.

Ranking in YouTube:

Recently, SEOmoz released a Whiteboard Friday on YouTube ranking factors. While his suggestions are almost synonymous to best SEO practices, there are a few ranking factors that are specific to YouTube. I also believe that Jeff McRitchie’s suggestions are overall good tips for video optimization to rank in both search results and YouTube. The take away from his Whiteboard is that your video needs great and creative content and it needs to be engaging. How many times have we heard this? Well, whether it applies to a web site, infographic, copy, and now videos, GREAT content and ENGAGING content is absolutely relevant for just about everything.

So let’s say you have the video, and its very interesting content and it could be a viral success, what now?

I’m going to break it down into two parts: 1) On-site video optimization and 2) Off-site video optimization.

Well as mentioned above, you have to be strategic in what keywords you use for the title, description, and video tags.

On-site Video Optimization:

TITLE:

Just like the title of a page, you don’t want to name your video “KEYWORD KEYWORD KEYWORD.” You want to be able to come up with a creative and relevant title that incorporates a keyword or two. I don’t know how many times I’ve stumbled upon a video that had an interesting title, but the video wasn’t great or relevant. (Or I get Rick Roll’d) Don’t make this mistake! It seems like this will affect how your video ranks. If viewers are only a few seconds into your video and exits, this could hurt your video and make it lose its visibility in the search results.

DESCRIPTION:

I’ve been guilty and have committed a SEO faux-pas, I’ve inserted a link back to the web site and that was it. I know, shame, but I happily report that I no longer am guilty of such a crime. However, do I think you should eliminate adding a link back to your web site all together? Absolutely not, but on the flip side, I do think it is important to actually accurately describe the video. Viewers will always appreciate descriptions (especially short ones) and if your video is engaging, they will be more likely to click-through to your website.

Now, Mr. McRitchie mentions of adding your own transcript, and if you have the time, I say do it. It certainly wouldn’t hurt and also viewers could “skim” through the video more quickly if they’re searching for something specific.

You’re able to add your own captions or transcript by going to your video manager, click on the specific video, edit, and then captions will appear at the top next to annotation.

Here’s what it should look like:Upload captions in YouTube video

TAGS:

It also looks like in YouTube, you have to be exact when it comes to what keywords you use or it doesn’t rank in YouTube search results. So, be exact and use keywords that are relevant to your video.

Off-site Video Optimization:

When I say “off-site video optimization,” I’m referring to what you should do after you have optimized the title, description and tags. Optimization shouldn’t stop there. With any great content, you have to share with the community and engage with your audience.

USER-ENGAGEMENT METRICS:

Ultimately, for your video to rank well, you have to a “good” video. What indicates to YouTube and the search engines that you have a “good” video? User engagement metrics such as the number of views, how long someone watches your video, thumbs up or thumbs down, commenting, sharing, etc. You want your video to be able to achieve all of those.

SOCIAL SHARING:

But how do people find your video if it’s brand new and has zero user engagement metrics? It’s up to you to share it. Put it on all your social networks, your blog, websites, share it with people you think will find your video interesting and helpful. If it’s a viral success, you’re almost guaranteed that your video will rank well.

COMMENTS:

A great way to build relationships with viewers is comments. It’s a very similar process in how you manage facebook comments, tweets, and Google+ comments. If there’s a question lingering or any sort of feedback, it’s always a great idea to respond. That’s an easy way of building a follower base is if you engage with your viewers and actually interact with them. It potentially could lead to a domino effect where one person shares your channel and video, and then share it with their friends, and so on and so forth.

YOUTUBE ANALYTICS:

Something that isn’t completely new but I think people overlook is the access to analytics for their videos. It’s the perfect way to see whether or not viewers are responding well to your videos; or if your videos are able to retain their attention.

You have access to a multitude of data to assist you. Probably one of the most useful reports is “audience retention.” You’re able to see at what point for each video a user exits. This is handy and will help you understand where you need to edit and how to not make the same mistakes in the future. All other reports are fairly self-explanatory.

So if you’re working on a campaign and have access to videos, don’t overlook video optimization as a tactic. And don’t forget these key tips:

  • Create a video that has great content, is creative, and interesting
  • Be very strategic for the title, description, and tags
  • If you have the time, add a transcript to your video
  • Don’t be shy, share your video with the whole world if you can
  • Engage and communicate with your viewers

If you have any questions about video optimization, feel free to comment below.

Taking Advantage of Google’s Website Optimizer

As an SEO, one of the main objectives of my job is to drive traffic to websites.  Content, linkbuilding, and traditional SEO are all among the techniques you can use to help you increase traffic and sales.  At the same time, you can also use conversion rate optimization to help you increase each visitor’s value and get the most bang for your buck.

Conversion rate optimization focuses on making your website more effective at getting visitors to perform desired actions.  Whether you want a visitor to download an eBook, sign up for a newsletter, purchase a product, or just move on to another page, conversion rate optimization puts buttons, text, and images in the right place, at the right size, and in the right color to induce a greater number of conversions.

While there are some fairly reliable rules for conversion rate optimization (use white space wisely, make your button contrast with the rest of your website colors and jump out) what exactly works for your site will vary.  After all, each site has its own layout and objectives.  Fortunately, you can figure out what works by testing your tweaks and layouts against one another as part of A/B or multivariate testing.  Google’s recent incorporation of their free testing product, Google Website Optimizer, into Google Analytics has made this easier than ever.

To use Website Optimizer (now called Content Experiments) log in to Analytics and make sure you are on the Standard Reporting dashboard.  Click on Content and you’ll notice a new tab for Experiments.

This is where you find Google's Content Experiments in Analytics

To set up your Experiment, you’ll have to create Goals in Analytics (or use existing ones).  If you want to increase the number of visitors who submit a Contact form, for example, you will need a Goal that tracks how many visitors get to the Thank You page that appears when you submit your Contact form.  If this is already set up, you can move on, if not, establish your Goal (visit here for official instructions from Google on Goal setup).

Now let’s say you want to figure out if a layout of your homepage with a different “Contact Us” button performs better than your current homepage.  Testing this out with Content Experiments is easy.

First, create a page on your website with the new layout that you would like to test and name it (let’s call it yoursite.com/test.html).  Once you have the URL, you plug it and the control page (the version of the homepage that is currently live on your site) into Content Experiments.Choose experiment type in Website Optimizer

As you can see, if you have other variations you’d like to test, you can.  Plug in up to 5 variations of the page you are testing against.

Once this is done, you select the Goal you are using for the experiment (in this example, how many people get to a contact form’s Thank You page), and how many of your Visitors you want included (50%, 100%, etc.).  At this point, depending on your familiarity with coding, you may need to contact your developer, hosting company, or SEO company (hi!) to install some tracking code on your site.  With new Content Experiments, the amount of code required for installation is extremely small, and Google will auto-generate it for you.

Once your code is setup and validated, your Experiment is ready to go!  Visitors participating in your experiment will be randomly served either your original page or one of the variations you provided.  Google will then track which of the variations is the most successful at meeting your Goal.  One of the best things about having Content Experiments incorporate into Analytics is that checking in on the Experiment and generating Reports is especially simple.  You’ll be able to see the experiment’s progress as it is running and get a sense as to which page is winning out.Example report from Google's Content Experiment

(Image taken from Google’s Content Experiment setup instructions http://support.google.com/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1745152)

Once the experiment is over, you’ll be able to make a well-informed decision about which version of your homepage is the best.  The winner might surprise you; often our personal design preferences are not necessarily those of others, and in many cases a site owner can just be too close to their site to see where they are losing visitors.  It may be obvious to you how to download a newsletter or get to the Contact page, but your users may be experiencing some difficulties.  With Content Experiments you can learn a lot about your visitors and improve your site’s usability.  And now with Context Experiments integrated into Analytics, it’s never been easier to set up an Experiment or access the data.  What’s not to like?

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