7 Ways to Reach Your Local Community with Pinterest

7 Ways to Reach Your Local Community with Pinterest

7 Ways to Reach Your Local Community with Pinterest | Social Media TodayYour local community is a natural place for your small business to start its marketing efforts. With the advent of social media and digital marketing, small businesses can expand their local reach more quickly and efficiently than with traditional print marketing alone. And an untapped resource for accessing local communities is Pinterest.

Pinterest is an interesting digital media forum. Many debate whether it actually qualifies as a social media platform and if it should be grouped with other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at all. However, regardless of its classification, I’m a firm believer that Pinterest holds an inherent digital marketing value and is a hidden resource for small businesses.

One way Pinterest earns its stripes as a social media marketing tool is through its capability to connect with local audiences. While other social media sites offer tailored audience targeting options, there are nuanced means of navigating Pinterest that enable businesses to expand their reach without spending a cent.

Here are seven ways small businesses can reach their local communities through Pinterest and boost their brand awareness. 

1. Establish a Business Account

First and foremost, sign up for a Pinterest for Business account. This free option gives businesses access to audience insights, website traffic metrics, and enables them to display their contact information on their profile, so potential customers can contact the company with a click of a button. If data mining and metrics make your head spin, Pinterest has produced a short but helpful video series which breakd down its analytics offerings for business accounts.

By using hard data to inform marketing efforts and campaign ideas, a business can adjust its Pinterest strategy to reach its local market and keep up on location-specific trends. Signing up only takes a few minutes, and a step-by-step registration guide can be found here.

2. Include Location in Your Bio

Once your business account is up and running, then it’s time to complete your bio.

Incorporate your location into your biographical text to help your profile show up in relevant searches. It doesn’t need to be overly complicated; just include location-based keywords.

Becki Owens, a popular California-based interior designer, seamlessly integrated her location into her bio field without much fuss.

7 Ways to Reach Your Local Community with Pinterest | Social Media Today

Image courtesy of Pinterest

It gives enough information for a user to make an informed decision whether to view her boards or move on. Take note and find a way to weave your location into this searchable field.

(And worth noting, Pinterest has made significant improvements to localization which also helps uncover relevant local Pins)

3. Use Place Pins

Never heard of Place Pins?

Pinterest introduced them in 2013 as a way for people to categorize their boards by location – users can tag specific addresses, such as a business’s physical location or city, so the board then shows up in searches of that place.

Popular Place Pins are vacation destinations, but this doesn’t mean small businesses can’t use them to their advantage.

Plug in your exact address and add pins that showcase your products, services, and other unique parts of your business. Include as much information as possible, from hours of operation to phone number and email address, so it’s useful to potential customers and helps your boards pop up in local community searches.

The best part is creating Place Pins is simple. If you’re starting from scratch and building a new board, click “Add a map” to incorporate your business location. You can also adjust existing boards by editing the board and selecting “Add a map” from that view.

4. Add a Customer Favorites Board

This is a fantastic way to repurpose user-generated content and broaden your business’s reach on Pinterest – repin posts from your customer’s social accounts, and tag them to your “Customer Favorites” board.

Having a board dedicated to happy customers and their purchases is a way to show satisfaction and your products or services in use. Honest testimonials speak volumes and help solidify a brand’s sense of authenticity and integrity.

People love to have their posts picked up by their favorite brands, so make sure to tag your customers, where possible, and mention them in your caption. As mentioned before, incorporate location-based text into the caption to generate even more reach and search authority.

Goodwill goes a long way, and a customer highlights board is beneficial and fun for both your local audience and your business.

5. Create a Local Favorites Board

Just because your account is business-based, doesn’t mean you can’t include some lighthearted and non-product focused boards.

Build a board that highlights your business’s local favorites, such as coffee shops, restaurants, historical sites, and cultural spaces.

Tag specific locations and explain why these places are your local favorites.

7 Ways to Reach Your Local Community with Pinterest | Social Media Today

Image courtesy of Pinterest

A great example of a local favorites board is from WeWork Philadelphia. Their “Favorite Finds: Philadelphia” board showcases local businesses that are beloved in Philadelphia. Their pins include location-specific information and fun, informative captions. It’s a soft way to reinforce the local side of your business, and generate attention for other local businesses.

6. Follow Local Businesses

Following other local businesses is another way to expand your reach and get in front of your local audience.

Locate for your favorite local businesses on Pinterest and follow their accounts. Repin their pins and like their posts. When a small business genuinely compliments or recognizes another local business, they’re likely to reciprocate.

It’s an organic way to build business relationships, and share good, local content with your followers.

Beyond your favorite businesses, search for your local chamber of commerce, city council and other entities of that nature. Follow them, and engage in a natural way to access your local community. They won’t all be on Pinterest, but it can be beneficial to connect with those that are present.

7. Group Boards with Other Local Businesses

Group boards are a wonderful Pinterest feature. Your business can invite other local businesses to share and contribute to specific boards. With every business’s audience having visibility to the group board, your business’s viewership exponentially increases just by partnering on a Pinterest board. That’s a win-win.

Think about businesses you love and would make logical sense to collaborate with – connect with those business owners and explain your interest in working together in this capacity.

Pinterest doesn’t require monetary investment or even a ton of time to make an impact, which means getting other businesses on board is fairly simple. When speaking to other businesses, make the case for how a group board would benefit their business. The time/return ratio is in their favor, and will likely land you a local Pinterest partnership.

Through these seven tactics, your small business can effectively engage and broadcast its location-specific messages to the right audience. At any point in your business’s lifecycle, connecting with the local audience is a smart growth strategy. A strategic Pinterest plan not only yields higher social engagement and website traffic, but also illuminates new local sales potential. Who wouldn’t want that?

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Social Advocacy and Politics: Eschew the Orange Tweeter

Social Advocacy and Politics: Eschew the Orange Tweeter

Social Advocacy and Politics: Eschew the Orange Tweeter | Social Media TodayLadies and gentlemen of the class of ’17:

Don’t respond to the orange tweeter.

Though you may be tempted, responding to the orange tweeter is a trap. Oh, never mind. You may not see that now, but in time you will. Trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at your Twitter timeline and it’ll hit you that while you were caught up in litigating every ridiculous orange tweet, he was appointing staff and implementing policies that would dramatically change the nation you live in by altering its core values….

Okay, so that’s my somewhat lame attempt to riff off of a commencement speech wrongly attributed to Kurt Vonnegut. The speech warned us to eschew “the white zin” because it would tarnish anyone who drank it with a reputation for bad taste. I love zinfandel. The red stuff. Big, bold and yummy. White zin – where some poor soul had to peel the skin off of all those luscious red zin grapes – is so pale in comparison. Yet it was extremely popular in its day.

Similarly, fixating on Donald Trump’s tweets is also very popular. The media does it, often instead of covering the real stuff that is happening today in the policy world.

Even I do it. Yes, I admit that Trump’s tweets affect me like 140 points of bright shiny lights. I’m inexorably drawn to them like a moth to a flame.

Not good.

Sure, it makes for some funny tweets on my end. And getting my jabs in quickly after he tweets helps me acquire lots of followers, retweets and likes – but am I really accomplishing anything by doing this?

Trump has mastered the art of using Twitter to take control of the news narrative, stealing it away from journalists who seem to find themselves powerless to do their jobs in the face of bright, shiny, orange tweets. He did it with his 3am tweets after debating Hillary Clinton and he’s still doing it today.

It seems that Trump has set upon a very simple strategy –  he watches Fox News and he live tweets what he sees and hears. You might think that this is silly and worthy of ridicule, as do Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers, but there might be method to this madness.

By live tweeting Fox News, Trump is riding the wave – he’s news-jacking the network that his base loves. Trump’s combining the power of his own Twitter audience with the resonance of Fox News’ issue framing to post tweets that are almost guaranteed to explode. And when he tweets the more provocative and less factual comments from Fox News, the mainstream news media and the liberal twitosphere go nuts.

The resulting cacophony provides such a distraction from the serious stuff going on, that we miss the substance of Cabinet confirmation hearings. We pay too little attention to how much sway over national security he’s given Steve Bannon – a man with no national security expertise. We spend too much time talking about who’s going to pay for “the wall,” and not enough time talking about who will profit from it.

Some people think Trump proves himself inept with what he tweets, but I’m not so sure. If he is the master negotiator that he claims to be, then we ought to be very careful not to dismiss his maneuvers as he works towards his deals.

So I say, eschew the orange tweeter.

Or at least be sure to keep your eyes on the prize. You can engage the tweets, so long as you maintain a firm grasp on what’s happening behind the scenes. Otherwise, you WILL look back in 20 years on your Twitter timeline and wonder how you could have missed what was coming.

——

*Here is the “original” White Zinfandel speech.

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How Technology with a Human Approach Helps Grow Business

How Technology with a Human Approach Helps Grow Business

When you’re a small business owner it can feel like you’re balancing on a tightrope most of the time. You have to concentrate on moving forward, but there’s always the temptation to look down or think about what’ll happen if you fall… with a sharp intake of breath.

Looking for ways to grow your business can be one of those never-ending tasks. You have to constantly work towards finding new and innovative ways to attract customers and build your brand.

Sounds familiar, right?

Well now we have a whole wealth of sparkly, newfangled technological tools to utilize, so you can increase your reach and communicate with more people. But don’t rest on your laurels. Technology is great, but a human-to-human approach is essential for any effective marketing strategy.

Put simply, technology on its own can’t make people feel connected.

And connection is what your business needs.

How Technology and H2H can work together

Emotional connection is a crucial element in the marketing process – and it isn’t your business that has emotion. Emotion and passion come from you and your team. Mobilecloud and collaborative technologies, these can all help you to deliver your message and reach more customers, but it’s you who delivers a human touch.

For example, you can have a presence on every social media platform, but if you aren’t putting messaging together that resonates with your audience then it’s not going to be an effective marketing tactic.

Technology can take you so far, but it can’t create a connection for you.

Using Data for Personalization

The potential of data, as facilitated by modern connective platforms, is amazing.

We now have the means and opportunity to learn more about our customers than ever before, and using this data can be extremely useful for your brand, particularly as a way for you to personalize your offerings and messaging.

For example, you can find out which parts of your marketing strategy are particularly effective then tailor your content accordingly. People are looking for more tailored and personalized customer experiences and such efforts will help them to decide which brands they want to engage with.

Personalization can be anything from segmenting your users into smaller subsets and groups, creating tailored offers that are directed at certain audiences, developing unique products and so on. The key is to use your data intelligently which can lead to a deeper, richer relationship with your users.

Conversion leads to Customers

Getting customers to convert is about encouraging them to move through each step of their buyer journey with your brand and compelling them to take action. It’s your job to use technology to assess what makes people move to the next step, and decide what you can do to improve the user experience.

Business is about figuring out what makes potential customers have their moment of truth – but too many brands focus on acquisition. How many subscribers do we have? What were our sales figures last quarter? Yes, these questions are important, but they need to be viewed in conjunction with other factors.

Acquisition can be achieved with technology, but retention is where you need a human-to-human approach.

Keeping your customers around and encouraging them to stick with your brand can be done through human interaction or personal touch. Offering rewards for loyalty can sound cheap, but it works for customers. Loyalty programs, discounts, and exclusive content can make customers feel valued. We feel good when we feel valued.

For example, Shop 4 Vitamins saw a 265% increase in repeat customers by using loyalty rewards, according to Big Commerce.

What not to do

You have to work on bridging the gap between you and your customers. At an essential level, we’re all humans that want to connect with each other and that’s an idea that should never be lost in translation.

If your brand distances itself from your customers, then they’ll find it more difficult to feel loyal to you or like they have any relationship with you at all. Using complex jargon can make you inaccessible to your audience; it may make you look authoritative, but it isn’t inclusive to every one of your customers or someone trying to get involved with your brand for the first time.

You might recognize a few of these examples.

Communication should be genuine and simple. Use the language your customers speak and not the language you believe they should be hearing.

Having a Human Approach – Final Words

Technology enables you to change and develop your brand in a range of new and exciting ways. But it can only take you so far.

Tools need to be combined with a human-to-human approach, otherwise your connection to your customers, which can be created using technology, won’t be retained or maximized to best effect.

Small businesses need to work on forging relationships with customers and creating loyalty. Technology lets you get your messages out there but it’s up to you to humanize their meaning.

The post How Technology with a Human Approach Helps Grow Business originally from Bryan Kramer.

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5 Tips to Help You Land a Role in Social Media Marketing

5 Tips to Help You Land a Role in Social Media Marketing

5 Tips to Help You Land a Role in Social Media Marketing | Social Media TodayAre you looking for a career in social? Or perhaps you’re already in the crazy world of social media marketing and want to upskill, but aren’t too sure where to start?

In this ever-changing world of social, it’s imperative that you keep up with the latest trends. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have firmly established a foothold in the digital world, with Snapchat and Pinterest starting to gain ground, and innovation happening quickly. And, we’re sure to see some newer platforms emerging in 2017.

Social media advertising budgets have doubled worldwide over the past two years – going from $16 billion in the U.S. in 2014 to $31 billion in 2016.

And along with this, hundreds of roles are popping up in social media.

So how do you get your foot in the door?

Here are some key tips:

1. Start by building your own community

Create a thriving social media presence of your own, and familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of each platform.

Build up your own personal brand – if you can’t market yourself, how will you do this for others?

Familiarize yourself with different industries, attend conferences and industry events, and contribute where possible. You never know, it could be your awesome skills that get you noticed by a potential employer.

Your professional relationships may end being your most important asset, so engage with key influencers in the industry that you want to get into.

2. Don’t limit your knowledge to just social

To really stand out, you’ll need more advanced skills, since your customers will more than likely manage search, social, and display.

Take a 360-degree approach to your learning – to succeed and excel, keep your training up to date, and subscribe to and read as many social and digital marketing blogs as you can manage (be sure you’ve subscribed to this one)

You’ll be required to have a more rounded skill set, as social teams are now being integrated across departments, companies, and agencies alike. In job description parlance, a successful candidate will possess technical, analytical, communication, and digital skills.

3. It’s not just about posting a few updates on Facebook

If you pursue a role in social media, be sure to put in great time and effort from the beginning. Become proficient in all social channels and prove your knowledge of each one. Understand the particulars of every existing and new channel, and be expected to wax eloquent about all of them when the opportunity arises.

Know also that once you dig into the details, you’ll find a whole new world of advanced features to learn and master (such as creating paid ads, upselling, cross-selling, and much more).

4. Be professional

Keep your social channels clean and professional – remember that these days potential employers always check. 

A good rule of thumb is to not post anything on your social media channels that you wouldn’t want to see published on the front page of a newspaper. This shows that you’re professional and can write well. (It never hurts to do a spell-check, either.)

Also, there’s nothing as disappointing as a dormant Twitter account. If you want to promote yourself as active and aware in social, you need to be both these things.

5. Always be learning

If you’re thinking a quick course in social media will be enough, think again. The world of social is changing constantly, and it’s up to you to keep yourself in the loop.

If you’re just starting out, it’s all about getting that initial experience. Be prepared to help a business free of charge – look specifically for opportunities to help businesses build and grow their social presence.

Whether it’s paid or unpaid, take on an internship, as this is by far the best hands-on experience you’ll get. If you decide to pursue a digital course, make sure it’s fully accredited.

Stick with it – social media marketing is a profession where you never stop learning.

Be persistent and believe in your abilities – it takes a lot of effort but you’ll get there.

To summarize:

  • Build your own community
  • Don’t limit your knowledge to just social
  • Gain knowledge in all areas of social and not just Facebook
  • Be professional
  • Keep learning

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Google Search Console Reliability: Webmaster Tools on Trial

Google Search Console Reliability: Webmaster Tools on Trial

Posted by rjonesx.

There are a handful of data sources relied upon by nearly every search engine optimizer. Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) has perhaps become the most ubiquitous. There are simply some things you can do with GSC, like disavowing links, that cannot be accomplished anywhere else, so we are in some ways forced to rely upon it. But, like all sources of knowledge, we must put it to the test to determine its trustworthiness — can we stake our craft on its recommendations? Let’s see if we can pull back the curtain on GSC data and determine, once and for all, how skeptical we should be of the data it provides.

Testing data sources

Before we dive in, I think it is worth having a quick discussion about how we might address this problem. There are basically two concepts that I want to introduce for the sake of this analysis: internal validity and external validity.

Internal validity refers to whether the data accurately represents what Google knows about your site.

External validity refers to whether the data accurately represents the web.

These two concepts are extremely important for our discussion. Depending upon the problem we are addressing as SEOs, we may care more about one or another. For example, let’s assume that page speed was an incredibly important ranking factor and we wanted to help a customer. We would likely be concerned with the internal validity of GSC’s "time spent downloading a page" metric because, regardless of what happens to a real user, if Google thinks the page is slow, we will lose rankings. We would rely on this metric insofar as we were confident it represented what Google believes about the customer’s site. On the other hand, if we are trying to prevent Google from finding bad links, we would be concerned about the external validity of the "links to your site" section because, while Google might already know about some bad links, we want to make sure there aren’t any others that Google could stumble upon. Thus, depending on how well GSC’s sample links comprehensively describe the links across the web, we might reject that metric and use a combination of other sources (like Open Site Explorer, Majestic, and Ahrefs) which will give us greater coverage.

The point of this exercise is simply to say that we can judge GSC’s data from multiple perspectives, and it is important to tease these out so we know when it is reasonable to rely upon GSC.

GSC Section 1: HTML Improvements

Of the many useful features in GSC, Google provides a list of some common HTML errors it discovered in the course of crawling your site. This section, located at Search Appearance > HTML Improvements, lists off several potential errors including Duplicate Titles, Duplicate Descriptions, and other actionable recommendations. Fortunately, this first example gives us an opportunity to outline methods for testing both the internal and external validity of the data. As you can see in the screenshot below, GSC has found duplicate meta descriptions because a website has case insensitive URLs and no canonical tag or redirect to fix it. Essentially, you can reach the page from either /Page.aspx or /page.aspx, and this is apparent as Googlebot had found the URL both with and without capitalization. Let’s test Google’s recommendation to see if it is externally and internally valid.

External Validity: In this case, the external validity is simply whether the data accurately reflects pages as they appear on the Internet. As one can imagine, the list of HTML improvements can be woefully out of date dependent upon the crawl rate of your site. In this case, the site had previously repaired the issue with a 301 redirect.

This really isn’t terribly surprising. Google shouldn’t be expected to update this section of GSC every time you apply a correction to your website. However, it does illustrate a common problem with GSC. Many of the issues GSC alerts you to may have already been fixed by you or your web developer. I don’t think this is a fault with GSC by any stretch of the imagination, just a limitation that can only be addressed by more frequent, deliberate crawls like Moz Pro’s Crawl Audit or a standalone tool like Screaming Frog.

Internal Validity: This is where things start to get interesting. While it is unsurprising that Google doesn’t crawl your site so frequently as to capture updates to your site in real-time, it is reasonable to expect that what Google has crawled would be reflected accurately in GSC. This doesn’t appear to be the case.

By executing an info:http://concerning-url query in Google with upper-case letters, we can determine some information about what Google knows about the URL. Google returns results for the lower-case version of the URL! This indicates that Google both knows about the 301 redirect correcting the problem and has corrected it in their search index. As you can imagine, this presents us with quite a problem. HTML Improvement recommendations in GSC not only may not reflect changes you made to your site, it might not even reflect corrections Google is already aware of. Given this difference, it almost always makes sense to crawl your site for these types of issues in addition to using GSC.

GSC Section 2: Index Status

The next metric we are going to tackle is Google’s Index Status, which is supposed to provide you with an accurate number of pages Google has indexed from your site. This section is located at Google Index > Index Status. This particular metric can only be tested for internal validity since it is specifically providing us with information about Google itself. There are a couple of ways we could address this…

  1. We could compare the number provided in GSC to site: commands
  2. We could compare the number provided in GSC to the number of internal links to the homepage in the internal links section (assuming 1 link to homepage from every page on the site)

We opted for both. The biggest problem with this particular metric is being certain what it is measuring. Because GSC allows you to authorize the http, https, www, and non-www version of your site independently, it can be confusing as to what is included in the Index Status metric.

We found that when carefully applied to ensure no crossover of varying types (https vs http, www vs non-www), the Index Status metric seemed to be quite well correlated with the site:site.com query in Google, especially on smaller sites. The larger the site, the more fluctuation we saw in these numbers, but this could be accounted for by approximations performed by the site: command.

We found the link count method to be difficult to use, though. Consider the graphic above. The site in question has 1,587 pages indexed according to GSC, but the home page to that site has 7,080 internal links. This seems highly unrealistic, as we were unable to find a single page, much less the majority of pages, with 4 or more links back to the home page. However, given the consistency with the site: command and GSC’s Index Status, I believe this is more of a problem with the way internal links are represented than with the Index Status metric.

I think it is safe to conclude that the Index Status metric is probably the most reliable one available to us in regards to the number of pages actually included in Google’s index.

GSC Section 3: Internal Links

The Internal Links section found under Search Traffic > Internal Links seems to be rarely used, but can be quite insightful. If External Links tells Google what others think is important on your site, then Internal Links tell Google what you think is important on your site. This section once again serves as a useful example of knowing the difference between what Google believes about your site and what is actually true of your site.

Testing this metric was fairly straightforward. We took the internal links numbers provided by GSC and compared them to full site crawls. We could then determine whether Google’s crawl was fairly representative of the actual site.

Generally speaking, the two were modestly correlated with some fairly significant deviation. As an SEO, I find this incredibly important. Google does not start at your home page and crawl your site in the same way that your standard site crawlers do (like the one included in Moz Pro). Googlebot approaches your site via a combination of external links, internal links, sitemaps, redirects, etc. that can give a very different picture. In fact, we found several examples where a full site crawl unearthed hundreds of internal links that Googlebot had missed. Navigational pages, like category pages in the blog, were crawled less frequently, so certain pages didn’t accumulate nearly as many links in GSC as one would have expected having looked only at a traditional crawl.

As search marketers, in this case we must be concerned with internal validity, or what Google believes about our site. I highly recommend comparing Google’s numbers to your own site crawl to determine if there is important content which Google determines you have ignored in your internal linking.

GSC Section 4: Links to Your Site

Link data is always one of the most sought-after metrics in our industry, and rightly so. External links continue to be the strongest predictive factor for rankings and Google has admitted as much time and time again. So how does GSC’s link data measure up?

In this analysis, we compared the links presented to us by GSC to those presented by Ahrefs, Majestic, and Moz for whether those links are still live. To be fair to GSC, which provides only a sampling of links, we only used sites that had fewer than 1,000 total backlinks, increasing the likelihood that we get a full picture (or at least close to it) from GSC. The results are startling. GSC’s lists, both "sample links" and "latest links," were the lowest-performing in terms of "live links" for every site we tested, never once beating out Moz, Majestic, or Ahrefs.

I do want to be clear and upfront about Moz’s performance in this particular test. Because Moz has a smaller total index, it is likely we only surface higher-quality, long-lasting links. Our out-performing Majestic and Ahrefs by just a couple of percentage points is likely a side effect of index size and not reflective of a substantial difference. However, the several percentage points which separate GSC from all 3 link indexes cannot be ignored. In terms of external validity — that is to say, how well this data reflects what is actually happening on the web — GSC is out-performed by third-party indexes.

But what about internal validity? Does GSC give us a fresh look at Google’s actual backlink index? It does appear that the two are consistent insofar as rarely reporting links that Google is already aware are no longer in the index. We randomly selected hundreds of URLs which were "no longer found" according to our test to determine if Googlebot still had old versions cached and, uniformly, that was the case. While we can’t be certain that it shows a complete set of Google’s link index relative to your site, we can be confident that Google tends to show only results that are in accord with their latest data.

GSC Section 5: Search Analytics

Search Analytics is probably the most important and heavily utilized feature within Google Search Console, as it gives us some insight into the data lost with Google’s "Not Provided" updates to Google Analytics. Many have rightfully questioned the accuracy of the data, so we decided to take a closer look.

Experimental analysis

The Search Analytics section gave us a unique opportunity to utilize an experimental design to determine the reliability of the data. Unlike some of the other metrics we tested, we could control reality by delivering clicks under certain circumstances to individual pages on a site. We developed a study that worked something like this:

  1. Create a series of nonsensical text pages.
  2. Link to them from internal sources to encourage indexation.
  3. Use volunteers to perform searches for the nonsensical terms, which inevitably reveal the exact-match nonsensical content we created.
  4. Vary the circumstances under which those volunteers search to determine if GSC tracks clicks and impressions only in certain environments.
  5. Use volunteers to click on those results.
  6. Record their actions.
  7. Compare to the data provided by GSC.

We decided to check 5 different environments for their reliability:

  1. User performs search logged into Google in Chrome
  2. User performs search logged out, incognito in Chrome
  3. User performs search from mobile
  4. User performs search logged out in Firefox
  5. User performs the same search 5 times over the course of a day

We hoped these variants would answer specific questions about the methods Google used to collect data for GSC. We were sorely and uniformly disappointed.

Experimental results

Method Delivered GSC Impressions GSC Clicks
Logged In Chrome 11 0 0
Incognito 11 0 0
Mobile 11 0 0
Logged Out Firefox 11 0 0
5 Searches Each 40 2 0

GSC recorded only 2 impressions out of 84, and absolutely 0 clicks. Given these results, I was immediately concerned about the experimental design. Perhaps Google wasn’t recording data for these pages? Perhaps we didn’t hit a minimum number necessary for recording data, only barely eclipsing that in the last study of 5 searches per person?

Unfortunately, neither of those explanations made much sense. In fact, several of the test pages picked up impressions by the hundreds for bizarre, low-ranking keywords that just happened to occur at random in the nonsensical tests. Moreover, many pages on the site recorded very low impressions and clicks, and when compared with Google Analytics data, did indeed have very few clicks. It is quite evident that GSC cannot be relied upon, regardless of user circumstance, for lightly searched terms. It is, by this account, not externally valid — that is to say, impressions and clicks in GSC do not reliably reflect impressions and clicks performed on Google.

As you can imagine, I was not satisfied with this result. Perhaps the experimental design had some unforeseen limitations which a standard comparative analysis would uncover.

Comparative analysis

The next step I undertook was comparing GSC data to other sources to see if we could find some relationship between the data presented and secondary measurements which might shed light on why the initial GSC experiment had reflected so poorly on the quality of data. The most straightforward comparison was that of GSC to Google Analytics. In theory, GSC’s reporting of clicks should mirror Google Analytics’s recording of organic clicks from Google, if not identically, at least proportionally. Because of concerns related to the scale of the experimental project, I decided to first try a set of larger sites.

Unfortunately, the results were wildly different. The first example site received around 6,000 clicks per day from Google Organic Search according to GA. Dozens of pages with hundreds of organic clicks per month, according to GA, received 0 clicks according to GSC. But, in this case, I was able to uncover a culprit, and it has to do with the way clicks are tracked.

GSC tracks a click based on the URL in the search results (let’s say you click on /pageA.html). However, let’s assume that /pageA.html redirects to /pagea.html because you were smart and decided to fix the casing issue discussed at the top of the page. If Googlebot hasn’t picked up that fix, then Google Search will still have the old URL, but the click will be recorded in Google Analytics on the corrected URL, since that is the page where GA’s code fires. It just so happened that enough cleanup had taken place recently on the first site I tested that GA and GSC had a correlation coefficient of just .52!

So, I went in search of other properties that might provide a clearer picture. After analyzing several properties without similar problems as the first, we identified a range of approximately .94 to .99 correlation between GSC and Google Analytics reporting on organic landing pages. This seems pretty strong.

Finally, we did one more type of comparative analytics to determine the trustworthiness of GSC’s ranking data. In general, the number of clicks received by a site should be a function of the number of impressions it received and at what position in the SERP. While this is obviously an incomplete view of all the factors, it seems fair to say that we could compare the quality of two ranking sets if we know the number of impressions and the number of clicks. In theory, the rank tracking method which better predicts the clicks given the impressions is the better of the two.

Call me unsurprised, but this wasn’t even close. Standard rank tracking methods performed far better at predicting the actual number of clicks than the rank as presented in Google Search Console. We know that GSC’s rank data is an average position which almost certainly presents a false picture. There are many scenarios where this is true, but let me just explain one. Imagine you add new content and your keyword starts at position 80, then moves to 70, then 60, and eventually to #1. Now, imagine you create a different piece of content and it sits at position 40, never wavering. GSC will report both as having an average position of 40. The first, though, will receive considerable traffic for the time that it is in position 1, and the latter will never receive any. GSC’s averaging method based on impression data obscures the underlying features too much to provide relevant projections. Until something changes explicitly in Google’s method for collecting rank data for GSC, it will not be sufficient for getting at the truth of your site’s current position.

Reconciliation

So, how do we reconcile the experimental results with the comparative results, both the positives and negatives of GSC Search Analytics? Well, I think there are a couple of clear takeaways.

  1. Impression data is misleading at best, and simply false at worst: We can be certain that all impressions are not captured and are not accurately reflected in the GSC data.
  2. Click data is proportionally accurate: Clicks can be trusted as a proportional metric (ie: correlates with reality) but not as a specific data point.
  3. Click data is useful for telling you what URLs rank, but not what pages they actually land on.

Understanding this reconciliation can be quite valuable. For example, if you find your click data in GSC is not proportional to your Google Analytics data, there is a high probability that your site is utilizing redirects in a way that Googlebot has not yet discovered or applied. This could be indicative of an underlying problem which needs to be addressed.

Final thoughts

Google Search Console provides a great deal of invaluable data which smart webmasters rely upon to make data-driven marketing decisions. However, we should remain skeptical of this data, like any data source, and continue to test it for both internal and external validity. We should also pay careful attention to the appropriate manners in which we use the data, so as not to draw conclusions that are unsafe or unreliable where the data is weak. Perhaps most importantly: verify, verify, verify. If you have the means, use different tools and services to verify the data you find in Google Search Console, ensuring you and your team are working with reliable data. Also, there are lots of folks to thank here –Michael Cottam, Everett Sizemore,
Marshall Simmonds,
David Sottimano,
Britney Muller,
Rand Fishkin, Dr. Pete and so many more. If I forgot you, let me know!

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Five Beginner Tips To Make Your Blogs Successful

Five Beginner Tips To Make Your Blogs Successful

Running a blog is a unique opportunity to express yourself or to provide your readers with information they require. However, there are plenty of details and elements that need to be arranged so your blog can become successful.  Originality is one of the main factors and that’s why copying someone’s style or story is a […]

The post Five Beginner Tips To Make Your Blogs Successful appeared first on WordPress Howto Spotter.

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Uber’s #DeleteUber Mess, Starbucks Is So Good At Mobile That It Hurts And More On This Week’s CTRL ALT Delete Segment On CHOM 97.7 FM

Uber's #DeleteUber Mess, Starbucks Is So Good At Mobile That It Hurts And More On This Week's CTRL ALT Delete Segment On CHOM 97.7 FM

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio out of Montreal (home base). It’s not a long segment – about 5 to 10 minutes every week – about everything that is happening in the world of technology and digital media. The good folks at CHOM 97.7 FM are posting these segments weekly on iHeart Radio, if you’re interested in hearing more of me blathering away about what’s going on in the digital world. I’m really excited about this opportunity, because this is the radio station that I grew up on listening to, and it really is a fun treat to be invited to the Mornings Rock with Terry and Heather B. morning show. The segment is called, CTRL ALT Delete with Mitch Joel.

This week we discussed: 

  • Uber has a political and business mess that percolated up this weekend. So, what really is behind this #DeleteUber issue (and how right/wrong is Uber) in this mess?
  • Do the super-rich and tech-advanced of Silicon Valley know something that we do not? They are a growing group of "preppers" coming out of there – people who are getting ready for some kind of local or global apocalypse… and they’re not joking, according to this The New Yorker article.
  • We have often talked about just how smart (and good for business) the Starbucks mobile app is. Maybe it’s getting too good for them to handle?
  • What will the iPhone 8 bring? Lots of rumours, speculation and even fake images floating around. No surprise. One of the more interesting rumours is a bendable screen. This would be a huge innovation and a massive step forward for technology.
  • App of the week: Headspace or OMG I Can Mediate!

Take a listen right here.

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Link Building for “Boring” Industries [Webinar] by @rinadianewrites

Link Building for “Boring” Industries [Webinar] by @rinadianewrites

Is crafting an effective link building strategy part of your goals for 2017? Are you finding it difficult to do because you’re in an industry that’s considered “boring”? Are you looking for link building strategies that can be applied to your less-than-exciting industry? If you answered yes to all these questions, then this webinar is for you!

On February 8th, 2017 at 2 pm Easternjoin SEJ ThinkTank for a free, 45-minute webinar that will get into the essential details of building links for those uninteresting industries.

Our very own Loren Baker, SEJ’s Founder, will give a 25-minute presentation on effective link building using relatable examples for companies ranging from manufacturers to hotels to car insurance.

Link Building for Boring Industries

During the webinar, Loren will share: 

  • How to do great content marketing
  • How to effectively strategize and employ link acquisition
  • Examples that can actually be applied to your business

Following the presentation, there will be a Q&A session hosted by SEJ Executive Editor Kelsey Jones. The Q&A session will give attendees a chance to have their question answered live!

Learn How to Build Links for Your Industry

If you’re struggling with building a strong link profile for your industry and want to get tips from an expert link builder, register now to reserve your slot! This webinar is free for all attendees.

register

All images by Paulo Bobita

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Apple Gets Into Position for the Voice Search Revolution

Apple Gets Into Position for the Voice Search Revolution

Both David Mihm and I think that voice search will play a large role in Local Search and a component of that will be home based assistant searches.

With Google’s release of Home and Amazon’s early success with Alexa, there is little talk of the role that Apple will play in the home search arena.

David and I discuss Apple’s slow and seemingly inexorable push into this new market at StreetFigh Mag:

Apple Gets Into Position for the Voice Search Revolution

 

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.

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