The 3 Absolute Best Things You Can Learn from Google Analytics

The 3 Absolute Best Things You Can Learn from Google Analytics

How do you know if your website is getting the results you want?

Sure, you know that you’ve got great content. You also know you’ve done everything you can think of to promote your content and optimize your site for high rankings in search — but how do you really know that what you are doing is working?

This is where tracking your data and metrics become important — and Google Analytics is there to help. Google Analytics is a free service that provides you with a tracking code that you can paste onto your site’s pages. Google uses the code to track visitors to your site and gleans the following sort of information as it does:

  • How many people are visiting your website?
  • Where do these people live?
  • Are they using a desktop or a mobile device?
  • What sites are they using to find your website?
  • Which marketing tactics are getting the most attention?
  • Which of my pages do people like the most?
  • How many of my visitors become customers?

These are just a tiny fraction of the questions Google Analytics can answer for you. You can use the data to further enhance your site and tweak your search engine optimization efforts for better results in the future.

What are the absolute top metrics you need to watch? And what do you do with them once you start watching?

When you log back into Google Analytics after setting up your tracking code, you’ll receive an Audience Overview Report. While there’s a ton of information there, here are the main metrics you should focus on when you start:

1. The Number Of Visitors

Your website doesn’t do you any good if you aren’t seeing any traffic, so this is the first thing you should track.

What to Watch: You should quickly start to recognize what a “normal” amount of traffic is for your site over the course of a week or two. Then you can pay particular attention to big spikes or drops in traffic.

What to Do: Those big changes in website traffic are important metrics that tell you something is working (or something is wrong). If you see a big spike, can you relate that to something you posted? A PR opportunity you had? A new PPC campaign you started? Are you offering a sale? Ask yourself, “What is causing the increased attention on this brand and how can it be recreated?”

2. How Your Visitors Find You

Are your visitors coming directly from a Google search? Is a social media campaign sending them along? Google Analytics divides traffic sources into four categories:

  • Direct traffic, or people who type your site’s name into a browser. (Dark social also often appears as “direct” as well.)
  • Search traffic, or people who find your site through keyword searches
  • Referral traffic, or people who find you through Facebook, Twitter, news articles, and so on
  • Campaign traffic, or people who find you through your paid advertising campaigns

What to Watch: You can spot trends that can help you figure out which marketing activities, promotions, and social campaigns are resonating with your customers — and which are falling flat.

What to Do: Adjust your marketing efforts around both what is most productive for your company and where you want to improve. For example, if most of your visitors are coming from Facebook referrals, you know you need to focus your resources there. However, you also know that you need to change up your advertising campaigns on other channels if they don’t seem to be producing results.

3. The Average Time Visitors Spend On Your Page

Getting visitors to your site is only part of the battle. You also have to keep them there long enough to get their attention and attract their interest.

What to Watch: Look at your bounce rate, which is the number of visitors who only go to one page on your site before they exit again. You also need to look at the amount of time visitors spend on any given page in order to see what interests them. What has your visitor’s attention — your blog, your product demonstration videos, or something else?

What to Do: Are visitors spending long enough on your pages to be taking in the information or do they skim and leave? What do you need to adjust? For example, if your demonstration videos are 5 minutes long but visitors are staying an average of 3 minutes, can you shorten your videos to make them more user-friendly?

Ultimately, Google Analytics has much more to offer than just these few things. However, everyone has to start somewhere. If you’re just getting your feet wet and trying to learn how to make use of the metrics that matter to your business, this is where to start.

How to Get 5-Star Reviews for Your Small Business

How to Get 5-Star Reviews for Your Small Business

In the not-so-distant past, if you wanted to find out which local business was reliable, and which wasn’t, you just walked up to your neighbor by the backyard fence and asked for a recommendation.

Today, the internet has taken the place of the backyard fence and everybody’s your neighbor. Online review sites are today’s version of “word of mouth.” Every happy (or unhappy) customer has the potential to share his or her experience at your business with hundreds — or maybe thousands — of other people.

Knowing that, do you really want to list your business with Google, Yelp, and other review sites? Do you dare open your business up to potential criticism?

Absolutely. Online reviews are far too important to avoid.

Online Reviews Make Your Business Visible and Create Trust

Reviews are another way to increase your local search engine rankings through organic means. The more people discuss your brand, the better its visibility is to Google. Each review creates unique content that’s relevant to your brand — and some review sites, like Yelp, may even come up higher in search results for keywords than your actual website.

In addition, consumers are increasingly wary and distrustful of marketing techniques. They work hard for their money — so they need reassurance that they’re going to get a certain value when they hire someone or buy a product. That’s why 90% of people check out a local business online before they actually visit it. It’s also why 89% of consumers need to read multiple reviews for your business before they’re willing to trust you.

Essentially, consumers are looking for a good reason to choose one business over all the rest. In an increasingly competitive market, that’s exactly what you need to give them. Registering your business at online review sites and working hard to get those positive reviews is the best way to do it.

The Reviews You Get Could Make or Break Your Business

A heartfelt, positive review can have a huge effect on your business. Most online review sites use a five-star ratings system — and every star a business gains is associated with increased revenues of 5%-9%. In addition, consumers tend to overlook a business that has less than four stars. They simply don’t trust them. That makes positive reviews a major driving force for foot traffic, no matter what business you are in.

However, positive reviews aren’t the only ones that consumers are reading. A single, deeply-negative review can also have tremendous consequences for your business. One negative review can cost you 22% of your potential customers. Get three negative reviews, and you’ll lose 59% of those who read them.

It quickly becomes imperative to gain as many positive reviews as you can for your business. That not only gives you more good things for consumers to read, it helps mitigate the fallout from the occasional bad review.

Start a Plan to Solicit Reviews from Happy Customers

So, how do you go about getting more positive reviews?

Whatever you do, don’t hire anybody to write fake reviews. Not only is that unethical (and possibly illegal), it can backfire on your business badly. Your goal is to build trust — fake reviews from someone paid to write them will destroy that trust in a heartbeat.

Fortunately, getting good reviews is actually pretty easy. You simply ask for them. As soon as you open your business up for reviews on Google, Facebook, or Yelp, put your plan into action:

  • Ask friends and family who have used your services or bought your product to write a review. The odds are good that they’re some of your biggest fans anyway. Ask them to be specific about what they find most compelling about your business so that their reviews have that all-so-important ring of authenticity.
  • Talk to your most loyal customers. You know who they are. Let them know what you are doing and ask them for their support. Try reaching out to the people that already support you online through your Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest pages.

People love to be asked for their opinion, and you’ll continue to build trust by making your most loyal customers feel like they’re partners in your success.

Respond to Positive and Negative Reviews Alike

One of the biggest mistakes brands make is not responding to reviews — good or bad. Consumers want a response. Far too often — about 63% of the time — they’re disappointed.

A simple, “Thanks! We look forward to seeing you again!” can often suffice for a positive review, while negative reviews take a little more finesse. Since the world is watching, keep your tone professional and address customer complaints as openly as possible. Avoid angry, emotional responses and focus on the overall impression you want to make on others who read the exchange.

When you respond to a review, you’re telling the customer who left it that you care about his or her opinion. You’re also telling everyone else that you’re responsive to all kinds of feedback.

The Takeaway

Your customers are your neighborhood — and you need to lean over the metaphorical fence between you and engage their support.

Online reviews are a fantastic opportunity for your business. Not only do they help with local search marketing, they’re a tremendous source of information and feedback. Learn to solicit that feedback — and respond to it in earnest — and you’ll gain your customers’ trust and give prospects a reason to pick your business out of the crowd!

DIY Online Marketing Tools for Small Business Owners

DIY Online Marketing Tools for Small Business Owners

If you want your small business to thrive and survive, online marketing is no longer optional.

Whether you’re a B2B or a B2C operation, your customers are out there somewhere — and they’re already online and looking for you (or someone like you, with your type of services or products). In fact, 80% of people do some kind of research online before they invest in a product or service. So online marketing is really all about making yourself easy to find.

Fortunately, you’ve never had greater access to easy, inexpensive (or absolutely free) online marketing tools than you do right now. Whether you’re a dedicated do-it-yourself’er or just want to experiment with online marketing on your own for a while, this is where you can get started.

Ranking Higher on Google And Getting Started On SEO

A lot of small business owners haven’t figured out yet how Google knows how to locate the right things when someone types in a few keywords and starts searching for whatever they want.

Well, whether you’re selling pizza or property, it’s pretty much all the same process. Google takes a look at all the available information it has from the searcher, which now usually includes some idea of the person’s address due to the geolocation abilities on cell phones. Google then tries to match up the best pieces of content it has available to the person’s query on a search engine results page (SERP).

Where your business falls in that SERP is largely a result of your ability to wield the mighty power of search engine optimization in your favor. Those are the techniques that you can use to become visible to your potential prospects.

While it isn’t an exact science and it takes some time, it isn’t impossible to learn either — especially if you’re willing to do your own research. There are plenty of free training materials dedicated to SEO that will walk you through everything that you need to know to move forward.

The first thing you should probably do, however, is get yourself firmly on Google’s radar by getting on the map. That alone will increase your company’s visibility in local searches. Local search is becoming tremendously important these days because consumers are increasingly mobile — and when they search for something, they’re often on their cellphones and ready to buy.

Leveraging Social Media Into a Business Marketing Tool

No matter what your business, the trend today is to engage with consumers where you can find them — and you can find them all online, somewhere on social media. You need a strong social presence in order for new prospects to discover you and drive up organic interest in your brand.

A Facebook page is an absolute must. It’s still the go-to social site for many consumers, and it’s business-friendly. However, don’t overlook the value of a Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram account. All of them appeal to different parts of your potential market and have different uses. All of them help your future customers find you.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of free tools and tutorials out there that will walk your through the ins-and-outs of social media and its role in digital marketing.

You can also get some significant insights after you get started on your social campaigns about what’s working and what isn’t using tools like BuzzSumo. It lets you track the success of all the content you put out there.

Final Thoughts (For Now)

Even small things online can have a big effect on your business. While some things, like starting a campaign on social geared at driving new prospects to the door, may take you some time to learn and begin, other things — like just adding social media accounts and putting yourself on Google’s map — can have a big impact right away.

The first steps always seem the hardest with any project. DIY online marketing takes some time to learn and some effort to implement, but there are plenty of resources available that can walk you through the steps.

How You Can Optimize Your Small Business for Local Searches

How You Can Optimize Your Small Business for Local Searches

Even if you do a strictly brick and mortar business, local search engine optimization is critical to your company’s survival.

Why? Because when consumers pick up their cell phones or open their laptops to search for “Chinese restaurants” or “hardware stores in my area” they aren’t thinking about purchasing dinner or a drain pipe a couple weeks from now. They have a need they’re looking to fulfill and they’re looking for a convenient location to do it in. That’s why 50% of local searches on smartphones turn into store visits within a day’s time.

So how do you do it? We’ll show you. These steps are relatively simple to follow, but they do take some time, so prepare to spend a few hours on the task. The rewards will be worth it.

Make Sure Google (and Potential Customers) Can Find Your Business

You need to be listed on Google My Business. Make sure your company’s profile is complete. This is a free service, so overlooking this is like ignoring free advertising dollars.

In addition, you need to increase the company’s visibility by building backlinks and a local presence. Make sure that the company’s information is correct and complete on as many contact directories as possible. Some places to direct your efforts include Yelp, Angie’s List, Yahoo, Bing, Yellow Pages, and the local Chamber of Commerce.

  • Make sure your NAP is visible: Your company’s name, address and phone number needs to be on every page of your website. That helps Google locate you and makes it easy for potential customers to do the same.

Optimize Your Website for Local Searches and Immediate Needs

Take a good look at your current website. Is it time to do some updating?

There needs to be an automatic contact/call button on the mobile site — and if there is no mobile site yet, get one. Users today expect them both and will be frustrated if your site doesn’t have them. Take the following steps as well:

  • Put a link to Google Maps on the site. This can help consumers find your business — and visually inspect the location before they get there.
  • Look carefully at the keywords your site is using. Log out of all your company sites and search for your products or services. Ask a few of your employees to do the same. See what naturally comes to mind and how well the site is ranking with those terms. It may enlighten you about changes that need to be made to the keywords in the company’s URLs, title tags, meta descriptions and more. A lot may have changed since the last time you looked at what you were using.

Build Consumer Confidence and Brand Credibility by Getting Feedback

Ask for reviews from existing clients. In fact, be shameless about it. People will often give reviews just because they’re asked. If you collect email addresses from your customers (and you should), send review requests. Make them easy to fill out for maximum response. In addition:

  • Get a digital loyalty card going. Consumers love loyalty bonuses and you can also use them as a gateway to gain more reviews, which increases your online presence.
  • Start building a social media presence. It does take time, but your business should (at minimum) have a Facebook page — and it needs to be updated as frequently as possible. Ideas for updates include daily or weekly specials, new products, photos of employees, information about the owner’s story and answers to frequently asked questions. That will also encourage feedback and build credibility for your brand.

Why are reviews from your current customers so important? First, search engines give preference to review sites like Yelp, which means reviews of your business might actually rank higher than your actual website. Second, positive reviews encourage prospective customers to give you a try.

Word-of-mouth is still what makes a business thrive in a local market — it’s just that the process of asking for references has changed. Instead of going to their next-door neighbor directly, nine out of 10 people hop online to see what their neighbors are saying.

It’s important to remember that the search engine optimization job is never something that can be completed overnight. It’s something that builds steadily over time through each post, each link and review. There’s absolutely no substitute for patience and consistency when it comes to developing a strong local presence on search.

Why You Need SEO Help for Your Unique Small Business

Why You Need SEO Help for Your Unique Small Business

You know your craft and understand your customers better than anybody. So why should you trust your future to a SEO company to promote it for you? Aren’t you better off handling all your marketing yourself?

No, you aren’t. Now, let’s look at the reasons why.

You Need Increased Visibility

The demand for handmade, unique, well-crafted items has risen steadily over the last few years. Artisanal and niche businesses are rewriting the rules when it comes to what makes a business viable for the future.

So, why isn’t it easier to find new customers and grow your business? It sounds like people should be clamoring at your doors just to get a sample of your product.

The trouble is that you may be largely invisible to any market outside of your current customer base. Traditional advertising, which is the easiest thing for someone who isn’t familiar with ins-and-outs of SEO to manage, won’t cut through all the visual noise these days — especially if your customers are mostly Millennials. Only 1% of Millennials are influenced by ads. The other 99% of that potential future market simply tunes them out.

The latest research indicates that 97% of people now shop online, even if they buy in the store.

In fact, more than 40% of Americans now do their shopping while lying in bed. To reach the online market, you have to be able to get your message out through multiple platforms:

  • A blog that provides free content related to your product
  • Videos that entertain and educate
  • Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media to help you make connections

Growth is about visibility. Today, visibility means having a strong online presence in all the right places.

You Have Limited Time

Unless you already have some mad SEO skills, it’s not something you can just pick up on the fly. The rules change constantly — which means even the best guides you can find online or in a bookstore can be outdated overnight.

For example, Google dominates the world of search engines. It also continuously updates its methods of ranking pages in order to provide users with a more streamlined experience. Since 2015, there have been four major changes to the algorithms Google uses to rank websites. In 2017, websites streamlined for mobile users suddenly found themselves higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs) than sites that aren’t mobile-friendly.

You can’t dedicate the amount of time it takes to master all of the intricacies of the SEO field and still maintain the same level of dedication to your own business. Nor do you have the time to generate all of the content and maintain all of the social media platforms on your own.

As an owner, you’re probably used to handling things yourself. You may even prefer it that way. However, that’s a disservice to your business and yourself if your efforts aren’t getting the word of your existence out where it needs to go.

Given the amount of work that has to be done, it’s time to delegate a little.

You Can Build Your Brand Identity

If you’re worried about trusting your baby to strangers, don’t be. Part of successful marketing is making sure that you stay in close contact with your marketers. You still retain the ultimate control over your company’s future:

  1. You set the goals. Do you want to see an increase in website traffic? Do you just need to convert more prospects into buyers after they come to your site? You identify the problem that you want the SEO company to address.
  2. You define your brand. Your brand has its own personality, and you have to convey that personality to the marketing company. It’s the marketer’s job to help you make that personality evident to the world, in order to attract your customers. A lot of artisan products have a sophisticated personality that attracts customers with refined tastes. However, if your product is earth-centric and aims to reduce the consumer’s carbon footprint, you may want to convey sincerity instead.
  3. You decide your target market. You already know the type of person who buys your product. Your marketer isn’t going to try to change that unless you want to change that. Your marketer’s goal is just to reach more of those particular people.

Frankly, your marketing company can’t really do an effective job without you. Together, you can build your brand identity and establish credibility with your potential customers. In order to do that, however, an SEO company will need you to provide a lot of guiding information.

The Takeaway

Your work with an SEO company is a collaborative effort. It has to be. You both want to succeed. In this case, the SEO company won’t succeed unless you also succeed because its goals are tied to yours.