Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Normalizing Search Engine Traffic Reporting

We’ve all known about Google Trends for a while. I’ve had a thought about using Google Trends to normalize our search engine optimization campaign reports. Let me explain.

If your campaign is producing 1000 visitors per month in month 1, then 1100 in month 2, then 1200, that’s great. Let’s say that the trend in month 4, 5, 6 then goes 1200, 1150, 1100. Well, that’s not so good, it was going up ~10% per month, now it’s falling about 5% each month. Well, if the site is optimized around a set of target search terms, and then other traffic comes from halo terms, then to assume that the SEO is providing more or less traffic is also to assume that search volume for this family of terms is constant.

If we used Google Trends to normalize, we might find that the number of times a term was searched on fell 15% during those down months. So, the 10%/month upward trend was actually sustained.

google-trends

Another way to look at this is to simply ask, what percentage of potential clicks did you get? If this percentage is trending up, then you’re in good shape. This means you’re taking more market share.

Another way to think of this is the following: Let’s say that you’re doing search engine optimization for a site that sells air conditioners. Let’s further assume that you start the SEO campaign on January 1st. Well, no one is really looking for AC units in January. Then, in April, you start to see an upward traffic trend, it goes higher and higher and peaks in August. Then, by mid September, you’re not seeing any traffic from the search engines. You start Googling around and see your site, but no visitors.

Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that people just aren’t buying air conditioners in October. So, you’d pretty much expect to see less traffic. In this case, the best way to judge if the SEO campaign is succeeding is to either look a target terms and catalog placement in search engine results pages, or to normalize your numbers. Take a benchmark at the beginning of the campaign, say a ratio of traffic to searches, then, each month you’d want that ratio to climb. This way, you’ll know if your SEO is working, regardless of market trends.

Making a splash and getting noticed

Making a big move and getting noticed can have lasting effects.

Lots of folks take the slow approach to real estate seo and seo in general and, well, this does work. In fact, it’s what we talk about most often on this blog. It’s no secret that with a well optimized site and by producing good, new, optimized content on a regular basis for months on end you will see better search engine placement and traffic. Some attention to strategy and detail is required, of course, but this is a pretty sure fire way to see good results over time.

But what about seeing superior results and sooner? What does that take? Clients ask all the time, how can I get to the top of the search engines without paying for every click?

Well, the answer is to make a splash. Provide something that everyone else does not. Give potential customers a reason to visit your site. Even better, give them a reason to talk about your site, to tell their friends about your site, to blog about your site and link to your site. In short, stand out from the crowd.

Now, the questions become:

  1. How do you do this?
  2. What effect with this have on my SEO campaign.

Well, I’m going to answer these questions in reverse order.

First, if you create something great, people will come and use/view it. Think about viral videos, Facebook, youtube, ebay, heck even google! If someone produces content or features and functionality that brings in the masses, there’s a lot to be gained from this. If you have the best information in town on your site, first time home buyers will tell eachother about your site. People will blog about it. They’ll tweet about it and include links on their facebook status update. They’ll do all sorts of promotion for you. You’ll get lots of inbound links and visitors and the leads will follow. But it has to really be something that sets you apart.

Now, to the tough question: How do you do this? How do you create something that gets noticed?

You have to either get very creative OR make a more significant investment in technology and functionality. Let’s look at these methods separately:

  • Traffic through Creativity – People will consume awesome content. Great videos, good educational presentations, funny songs, well thought out lectures…we’ve all gotten an email to check out something cool, informative, even mind-blowing. You’ve probably even forwarded something like this on to a friend or family member. Put your energy into creating that and people will find you.
  • Traffic from Innovation – Do you have the most innovative property search in your market? Is your website the most advanced? Does it have a design that puts it far above the crowd? If you’re hoping to take a $100/month site and make a splash, stop hoping, it just aint gonna happen. You’ll need to work with a skilled team of designers and technologists to produce something superior. Marquis examples of this are the guys at zillow and/or trulia. They made splashes 5 years ago and continue to ride the wave.But let me put this another way. If you have a $50,000 annual SEO budget, or even a $20,000 annual budget, consider setting aside a big piece of that budget to make a splash. Take $20k and build something that will be a huge leg up over the competition. Then, promote the heck out of it. This promotion will help drive and direct your content creation. People will take notice and they will come and use the tool you now own.

If this strikes home with you, if you’ve been looking for a way to have a coming out party, give us a call. We love doing these kinds of projects. Thanks.

Microsoft and Yahoo! vs. Google, Microhoo SEO?

What the new deal between Microsoft and Yahoo! means for Google.

It’s amazing what happens when a dynamic goes from three players to two. This is the crux of the result of what this deal will mean for Google and SEO.

First of all, SEOs everywhere will not need to work quite as hard. We used to have to worry about building pages that work with all 3 algorithms. Of course, Google has the most market share. So, most SEOs, whether they focus on real estate or not, are going to try to get you ranking in Google before worrying about the other search engines.3-search-engines1

That said, Yahoo! always had about 25 percent of the market and Microsoft about 10 percent – these numbers fluctuate of course. So, when you’d done a lot in Google, you move on to Yahoo!, then MSN. Well, that’s going to change and the argument for splitting your time gets a little stronger. Google, with double the Yahoo searches was the obvious first choice, and Yahoo a distant second. Now, there’s an argument for splitting effort 2/3 to Google and 1/3 to the combined Yahoo!/Bing platform.

Of course, we won’t be changing our tactics just yet. Yahoo’s search technology isn’t integrated with Microsoft’s yet. It actually sounds, according to early news, like the Bing algorithms are going to replace Yahoo’s search formulas. So, when that’s put into place, SEOs will then change their techniques and their focus. You might see your rankings change at some point to look a lot like they do in the Bing results.

Alternatively, personalization of results is the new vogue. Ranking, while still important, means less and less. What really matters, as we’ve written about numerous times, are results. Search results for me might be different from search results for you.This might mean that results will still vary in MSN vs. Yahoo! depending on how well they know you and how much you use your Yahoo! account or your MSN account. In fact, I’d count on that.

OK, that’s about it for today. Rest assured, we’ll be talking about this more soon. Thanks.

Position yourself as the authority

Don’t just say that you have the knowledge, show it.

How many times have you seen a website that says something like, “We have the knowledge and the experience to…” or “Our experienced and knowledgeable team is here to serve you.” Or something similar. Sound familiar?

Yes, our clients provide the same empty language from time to time and yes we do populate this type of content onto the sites we built on a frequent basis. I’m sorry to say it.

Fact is that we’re in a time when it’s pretty easy to build a website. It’s free to put up a blog on someone else’s website (like wordpress or blogspot, for example).  And just about anyone can write a sentence that says they have the knowledge and the experience to do whatever. The consumer has grown impervious to such language. Today’s consumer wants more.

We want to feel like we’re getting great information from the fountain of knowledge. We want to feel like we’re making informed decisions. We know that with a few keywords in Google, we can access lots of information sources, but we want to quickly and efficiently access the best. We want an authority.

How do I become an authority? Well, an authority is an “Accepted source of information.” At least, that’s one of the ways that dictionary.com defines the word. Well, this is where your website really can be a powerful tool in a few ways.

  1. If your website includes vast amounts of information and it answers the user’s first question, whatever that may be, then they’re likely to come back again for another answer. Basic questions asked of a real estate website might be:
    1. How much does a 1 bedroom home cost in Boston? or
    2. What does it mean to be pre-approved?
  2. To show that you have more than information, you have knowledge, you’re going to want to have a blog. Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis and/or already have a blog, will agree. Your blog is where you flaunt your stuff. You show what you’ve got. If you feel like you’re giving away the store, don’t worry. Give away as much information as you’re willing to type. The more you post, the more you’ll look like the authority you are.

The reality of real estate is that there are just too many realtors out there. It’s not like Coke and Pepsi who have been trying to take market share from one another for decades. You’re trying to take a few more deals from a large pool. You’re trying to rise above the crowd. Do this by showing the visitors to your site just how much knowledge you have and what all those years of experience have taught you.

I’d like to conclude by mentioning someone who embodies authority. Paul Krugman is a NYTimes columnist and Nobel Lauriate in economics. Not only does he have the years of experience and the accolades to prove his prowess, but he also writes with authority. I recommend checking out his columns and examining his writing style. Also, he’s pretty smart and insightful, you’ll probably learn something about our economy while you’re at it.

Google Chrome OS and how it will effect your real estate marketing

Can a new operating system by Google really affect my business? If you’re not asking yourself this question, you probably should be.

Yes folks, Google is challenging Microsoft, again, this time where it really hurts. Google is launching a new operating system called Google Chrome OS. This will affect your business. In fact, it’s part of a trend that already is.google-chrome-netbook

Today, Google officially announced that in 2010 their new Google Chrome OS will be available commercially. At first, it’ll mostly be in Netbooks, they’re telling us. Netbooks, for those of you who haven’t heard, are small, portable laptop computers. They’re intended for a market of people who spend a lot of time on the web. This is key!

The fact that there is a market for Netbooks nowadays is very telling. Netbooks are, somewhat by definition:

  • Small
  • Portable
  • Have relatively low processing power
  • Make it very easy to access the web, and
  • Cost far less than your average laptop.

To look at this from another direction, the reality is that there are millions of people who spend so much time on the web. These folks are using applications like Google for searching, Facebook, Twitter, and email for communication, and thousands of productivity applications too numerous to list. You might be one of these people. If you’re not, that’s OK, but you MUST realize that these folks are a large and growing segment of the population.

Let’s discuss some other facts about the Netbook-owning population:

  • They’re well connected – Verizon offers a Netbook with a built in cell phone card. This is so that the owners can access the internet from anywhere using the device. In fact, I think the device is discounted or free if you sign up for long enough, much like a cell phone
  • They’re on the move – These are busy people who want quick access to information, communication, and really the world.
  • They have some money to spend – The fact is that most Netbook users aren’t buying these devices to be their main computer. It’s their secondary device or even tertiary. It’s somewhere between their cell phone and their laptop, but serving a different set of needs.
  • It’s hard to grab their attention – This is a population, and I am a member of this club, that is not looking for distractions. We have too many. Inundated by information and looking for a way to get to the good stuff faster, Netbook users aren’t easy to market to. They’re going to come and search for you. You need to be able to be found by them.
  • They’re electronic – Don’t think you can grab my attention with a newspaper ad or a post card in the mail. I don’t pick up paper. I hate paper. It kills a tree. If I want something, I’m going to go searching for it. Probably on Google. When I want to buy a house, I’m going to Google and I’m searching for real estate. This his how this population thinks. Start thinking like them now and you’ll be ahead of the competition.

Know this, if you start thinking about how to reach the folks who will be using Google Chrome OS now, you’ll be selling them real estate in 2010 when the OS comes out. In fact, these folks are already out there. You’ll probably be selling them homes next month.

Image source: news.cnet.com

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