Posts Tagged ‘traffic’

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.

Let’s talk about Yelp baby

I’ve recently learned some new things about YELP and I figure our loyal readers would want to know them too.

Some of you, I’m sure, haven’t heard of Yelp. You should check it out. Here’s a link to our profile on Yelp. Yelp is a site where you can write a review for any business with a physical location. People put up reviews, good and bad, of the businesses that they interact with. I recently reviewed a coffee shop that I like a lot. I mentioned that people like it too much and there’s  a long line almost every time I go, but it’s worth it. This is the kind of real world reviews you’ll see on Yelp.

BTW, we’d love it if you wrote a nice review about Boston Logic on Yelp. Click here to review Boston Logic. Thanks.

Here are some interesting and important facts about Yelp:

Reviews
First, the reviews that show up highest, by default, are the ones written by users who have written a lot of reviews. It’s not just the most recent review. You’ll notice above the reviews and below the profile of a company, there are sort options. The default is “Yelp Sort.” If you want to see the most recent just click on “Rating.” Notice also that there are lots of other ways to sort reviews. I don’t know how much this gets used, but while you’re on there, you may as well play around. If you like a review, then you can click “useful” the nice thing about this is that you can sort reviews by how useful other folks have found them.

Bad Reviews
Business owners, if you get a bad review, it’s not the end of the world. First of all, I’ve noticed that truly mean and bad reviews are usually short and often put up by people with fake accounts or accounts with little personal information and fake names. My account is linked to my Facebook account. So, I’m standing behind anything I say. Also, you can flag a review. This won’t make it go away completely, but it can put the review off your page and mostly out of reach of people. The casual user would need to dig in order to find it.

Paid Ads
Next, Yelp does sell paid ads. Or, really, they offer a ways to make your profile on Yelp more prominent and more engaging. For example:Yelp search

  1. You can pay to have your listing appear at the top of search results. This is like using Adwords to have your link come up on the first page of Google’s search results.
  2. You can also pay to enhance your profile. So, if someone does find your biz on Yelp, then they’ll be more likely to stick on that page and maybe pick up the phone and call you.
  3. Also, it should be noted that Yelp has tile ads on their home page and tower ads on other pages.

Social Network
Also, Yelp is more than just a site to post reviews. They’re a social network too. You can upload photos of yourself, give more details about your life, “friend” other members, become a fan, send a compliment, follow someone, and send a message all within Yelp. I’m not too sure how much this stuff gets used by the average user, but I’m sure the power users are making good use of it.

Like all Social Media sites, Yelp’s value increases as more people use it. If all anyone did was write a review, it would just be opinions stacking up. But Yelp has taken the time to make the more relevant content come up first. In some ways, this makes them a go-to search engine when looking for something great. I’ve often complained that Google is great for finding information, but horrible for rating that information’s quality, trustworthiness, and value.  Sure you can find pizza using Google, but there could be a great pizza place around the corner from you that has no website! This means it’ll never come up on Google at all!

Yelp is showing you the reviews by people who do the most reviewing and by the nature of the site and its use base, they’re probably showing you a more comprehensive results set. If you’re looking for a service provider, I highly recommend Yelp.

Competitors
To be fair, I wanted to point out a few Yelp-like sites. Maybe I’ll write a comparison post soon?!?

YELP PR PEOPLE – I’m sure you’ll find this article. Would love some feedback, thoughts, etc? Tell us how Realtors are using Yelp?

LogicClassroom Session 3 – Leveraging Social Media for your Business

Thank you to everyone who attended our LogicClassroom presentation last night. We discussed how and why to leverage different social media platforms for your business. Don’t worry if you missed this session – the slides are below for you to view!

Please join us for our next LogicClassroom session 2/9/10 on Search Engine Optimization 101. Please email Katrina to attend.

The long tail of SEO

SEO is about more than just a few marquis terms.

Month-over-month, a client of ours just saw a 22% increase in traffic to their site from search engines. Looking at their list of target terms, there wasn’t all that much improvement in placement. Of course, this is to be expected, SEO isn’t a game of ranking for just a handful of terms.

A popular business book came out a couple of years ago. It’s called the long tail. It’s principles apply to SEO in great ways. First let me give you some basics:

The concept of the long tail is pretty mind-blowing. We now live in a world of options. Volume is often the name of the game. We no longer live our lives in a 25 mile radius. We have access to so much.

For example, google returns millions of records for most of your searches. Content on blogs is being created every second. itunes offers millions of songs, just imagine trying to fit all of those on the racks of a music store. Just a few decades ago, you could only get 6 or 10 TV channels. Now, you can subscribe to hundreds!

Long Tail of SEO

Long Tail of SEO

The Long Tail principle tells us that many actions follow a graph like the one to the right. The numbers start high, but degrade rapidly at first, then much more slowly. Total user volume is calculated by taking the integral of the curve. sorry if I just scared you back to high school calculus.

Let me bring this back home. 75% of those millions of titles on itunes sell at least once a month. The top 20 or 50 get a lot of press, but Apple makes the vast majority of it’s revenue from the millions of other songs in its catalog.

SEO works the same way. If you think SEO is about ranking for a few terms, you’re dead wrong. If you think that users only type in a few terms to search for the property that you sell or rent, that’s false too.

Searchers type in all sorts of strings. For example, if you think they’re going to google for “Newport Real Estate” and only for that term, then you’ll miss out on everyone who searches for terms like “Newport real estate for sale,” “Newport vacation homes” and “newport houses.” Not to mention the folks who might be very specific and google for “newport real estate open houses” or “newport 2 bedroom house.”

The point is that you may think that there are 20 or 40 terms that will bring you traffic, when the reality is that strong traffic comes from leveraging hundred and thousands of terms. Lots of those terms may only bring you 1 or 2 visitors per year, but when you add them all up, you’ll see real, lasting traffic.

The book: The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More

Campaign results are what really matter

I think everyone reading this blog would agree that, at the end of the day, results are what really matter. You could be performing real estate SEO and appearing at the top of the search engine results, but if you’re not getting good leads and closing deals from them, then all that SEO effort is probably a waste. What matters are results.

I’m going to tell you all something that may shock you. Yes, this blog has good search engine ranking and high placement in the SERPs, but (here’s the shocker) search engines are not our largest source of inbound traffic. Believe it or not, social media sites are our biggest traffic source. I’m talking about Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Digg, Reddit, Technorati, Stumble Upon, the list goes on. When you aggregate the visitor traffic that these sites generate for us, it adds up to more than either the search engine traffic or direct traffic that we receive, which are our other largest sources.

Now, it’s critical that you understand which traffic sources are effectively converting for you and which are not. Also, it’s very important that you have a good lead follow up system. Your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is as important as your SEO, if not more important, in improving your close rate. All that said, I’m not going to follow this tangent in this post. Boston Logic, our parent company, offers great real estate CRM and lead management tools, check out the ONE Lead Management System, but I’m not here to advertise.

So, let’s get back to our premise. Yes, SEO is bringing us traffic, but we must notice and nurture the opportunities that social media sites can bring us. Every effective online marketing campaign should include heavy engagement with social media. SEO is crucial, but a holistic approach, which includes Real Estate SEO, social media, email marketing, and other online media, is going to bring you the best ROI every time.

Here is some supporting evidence:

  • We’ve written before on this blog about how SEO is a lot like voting. Search engine algorithms take into account link counts, clicks on their results pages, keyword density on a page, and many other factors. All of these can be paralleled to voting. Social media sites work in much the same way. For example, the more people who Digg a page, the more popular it becomes and the more visitor traffic it will receive.
  • Similarly, Twitter is all about followers and popularity. If your real estate blog has 1,000 followers on twitter then every time you post, they’ll be notified. That will mean a steady flow of traffic to your site.
  • Also, let’s not forget about the opt-in advantage. When a person chooses to follow you on Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, etc, it’s their choice. They’re virtually raising their hand and telling you that they’re interested in what you’re doing and what you have to say. If we could always identify parties who are interested in what we do, marketing would be a lot easier.
  • Using social media will help you gather inbound links to your site. This will help your search engine placement and your referral traffic.
  • Similar to SEO, you need to produce good, relevant, unique content in order to get noticed and gain popularity and traffic on social media sites. Smart online marketers know that this is a requirement for good SEO and to achieve search engine ranking. So, while you’re working on your SEO campaign and generating good content, your efforts can be at least twice as valuable when they also contribute to your social media presence.

The goals when performing SEO and Social Media marketing are the same: Get noticed. Generate relevant traffic. Do more business. Come to think of it, these are the goals for most marketing efforts. My point is, with all of these similarities and benefits, you can generate traffic through SEO and through the use of social media at the same time. You can also analyze the traffic and the ROI of your effort using similar tools and methods. It’s a win, no mater how you slice it.

If you’re not leveraging social media as part of your marketing campaign and would like some help, or if you are, but you’re not seeing the results, drop us a note. We’re here to help.

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