Google+ and Sparks

If you have not tried out Google+ yet contact me with your GMail or Google account ID and I will send you an invitation if you cannot sign up. I am not totally sure that Google+ will replace Facebook or Twitter but so far I am having fun playing around with it. One of the interesting things about Google+ is the Sparks section.

This section is kind of like the old AOL keyword section or Technorati’s blog sections. Twitter has something similar to Sparks too.  Sparks are Google derived best items grouped by categories. I haven’t found out how you get your own content into the Sparks section as it appears totally Google controlled for now, but if you make it there the traffic could be huge.

With Sparks being easy to read and interesting newsy current articles all on one theme, you can go into information over load if you are not careful. You can even create your own Sparks categories by entering in a short keyword phrase. How and why Google chooses to return certain sites, blogs, or articles is unknown, but may potentially hold the key to not only big traffic but good organic placement.

My feeling so far about Google+ is mixed. I like the interface, but no one I really want to connect with is really there right now, not even family members or co-workers. I see the potential, but it may simply be too hard to get people to move out of Facebook and into Google+. There are just no really big incentives to move right now.

What has your impression of Google+ been so far if you have been using it? Do you like it? Do you think you will stick with it or drift back to Twitter and Facebook?

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Your Bounce Rate on Google Analytics

This past month if you are sharing your website statistical data with Google Analytics, they emailed you a very interesting aggregate report on bounce rates. Here is an executive snapshot:

 

Traffic Sources

Pages / Visit

Bounce Rate

Avg Time on Site

Direct 4.0
(-0.5)
47.2%
(-4.0%)
5:21
(-0:07)
Referral 5.0
(+0.1)
43.1%
(-1.1%)
6:36
(-1:48)
Organic
Search
4.9
(-0.1)
47.9%
(-1.1%)
4:43
(+0:06)
CPC
Search
5.6
(+0.0)
41.4
(-1.7%)
3:57(+0:07)

What is very interesting is the industry average of typical bounce rates in the report. If your site has a bounce rate higher than these, it is definitely time to review your website content or at least evaluate if you may have a potential problem to address.

Another interesting trend noted was the time on a typical website and bounce rate has decreased for websites on the average this past year.

“Compared to a year ago, websites have seen reduced pages / visit, average time on site, as well as bounce rate.”

11/1/09 – 2/1/10

11/1/10 – 2/1/11

Difference

Pages/Visit 4.9 4.5 -0.4
Bounce
Rate
48.2% 47.0% -1.2%
Avg
Time on Site
5:49 5:23 -0:26

If your site is not stacking up to these global aggregate averages it may be time to adjust your message, review the informational value that you provide to readers, and change your focus of being self centric to user centric in your content. In some cases you may have a high bounce rate that you do not need to be concerned with based on the pages involved. For example, I have some informational white papers on my website that have high bounce rates. These pages are really built to generate links and draw in traffic. The people that come to visit may never be interested in my services, but I still like having the information and helpful content there for readers for a big picture.

Some of you may be asking why should I care about bounce rate?

Well first the bounce rate is the percentage of readers that hit your page and then surf off immediately; meaning they did not find what they were looking for on your website. If you have a high bounce rate for cost per click advertising it means keywords need to be immediately reviewed and some potentially dropped. If you are not using pay per click but rather your bounce rate is high for organic searches it may be that you should rework content with new keywords that are more specific to the services that you are offering instead of general terms. Check first to see what pages are involved first don’t just start changing things.

What I personally found interesting was that we finally have some benchmarks to compare sites to for evaluation of health as industry averages. I am going to check out my website stats right now to see how I personally stack up, how about you?

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Keeping Your Website Clean

Some people get so absorbed in spending time driving traffic to their site that they forget about the functionality of the site itself. In order to ensure the maximum amount of possible conversions from your Internet marketing efforts, your site needs to have completely usable functions and features.

Sites that are loaded with broken links, calls to action that result in 404 errors and contact e-mail addresses that return messages undelivered are not going to do very well in terms of conversions. Even if you double the incoming traffic to your website, your conversions will still suffer if your website isn’t functional.

It’s important to regularly examine your site in order to be sure that everything is functioning exactly as you would want it to if you were a prospective customer visiting for the first time. Make sure all of your links, calls to action and landing pages are functioning properly. Take the time to fill out and test the contact form to ensure that the message actually gets delivered to the intended person. If any of these aspects of your website aren’t working properly, make it a point to fix them, or have them fixed immediately.

Any prospect that ends up on your website for any reason isn’t very likely to place an order on a site that isn’t functioning properly. You can also forget about first time visitors becoming regulars or directing their friends to websites that don’t function properly.

For every day that an integral aspect of your site isn’t functioning, you are losing sales. It doesn’t matter how much work you put into your Internet marketing efforts if your prospects can’t take the next step do to a poorly functioning site. We carefully monitor and test all contact forms and work hard to improve our user’s experience.

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How to Bulk Upload Tweets into HootSuite

If you have the HootSuite Pro version then you may have already tried this option. If you are using HootSuite Free then this may be the reason to upgrade, and if you are not using HootSuite at all, this may be the reason you take a look.

HootSuite is an online Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FourSquare, and Facebook Page update and status scheduling tool. I have used it for team management and self management of small accounts. Just this last week I checked out the Pro account version Bulk Upload of status update features.

First although HootSuite offers a sample .csv file to review and to use for your own updates, I found that Excel kept changing the date format and did not offer the date format they wanted for load, and so I moved to Notepad to do my list creation.

This is the format to use:

09/02/2011 09:00,”Check out our blog writing prices and blog clients on this page.”,”http://ow.ly/3S5ru”

Note that the date format is day first, then month, then year followed by time on a 24 hour clock. The update must be wrapped in quotes, and then the URL wrapped in quotes. Each of these three fields is separated by a comma. You may be able to leave your URL as pointing to your own domain, but to be safe, I shrunk my URL ahead of time.

Of important note is that HootSuite will not allow duplicate updates. So you can not load more than one version. Additionally the Bulk Upload feature allows for 50 unique updates to be loaded maximum at a time. I found that the load creation was time consuming, but was able to be used on multiple accounts and as I saved the document, will allow me to use and re-use this load anytime I go on vacation for coverage.

When you go to upload your text file, you will put your select your social network from the icon list, then put your cursor in the message field. The box opens and allows you (for Pro accounts only) the option to bulk upload. Browse to your upload file then click Okay. You will then see all your updates appear in the pending stream column.

I think this is a great new feature for HootSuite. Social Oomph offers this same feature for Professional accounts as well but without duplication restriction. Please note that if you click the links in this post and purchase either Professional level accounts from these suppliers that they will pay me a commission which will allow me to buy lunch at McDonald’s. Thanks for your support and try out these two applications they may end up being big time savers for you too.

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New Twitter Background Design How-To

Twitter has moved to a very slim line background profile. If you haven’t visited your Twitter profile in a while and you had done a custom background, you may find that what you had before is cut off and nearly invisible with the new Twitter background space available.

Here are is a detailed explanation of what space you now have for Twitter.

We used to take a 1,920 pixel wide by 1,000 pixel tall canvas and show the company phone and website address in a block starting 25 pixels from the left to 200 pixels from the left. This space has now shrunk to 5 pixels from the left to a maximum of 110 pixels from the left.

The top drop down has also changed. Before we started our content block 70 pixels down from the top. Now we start the content block at 0 pixels or 57 pixels depending on what type of graphic you will be using. You may have to tweak a few things on your background based on the visual elements you are using, but this gives you a starting point.

The big issue is that background space has shrunk from 200 pixels to 120. This means that your previous Twitter background will look bad with the new interface design. In fact your company information that previously used to show may be cut off. There just isn’t much real estate for personalization at this point, but you can still use what is there to tie in with your website brand colors and Facebook Business page profile.

If you use HootSuite or TweetDeck to update your Twitter account, now’s the time to look at what your profile at www.Twitter.com looks like so you can make sure to make any necessary changes to keep looking good!

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With Facebook and Twitter, Do You Still Need Blogging?

Many clients are now investing time and money on keeping Twitter and Facebook updated so with all of that do you still need your blog updated? Absolutely!

If your blog is installed under your own domain and resides on your website server then adding to your blog benefits the organic placement of your website as you build blog content. Twitter and Facebook are important ways to engage customers, search engines are starting to look at your activity on these networks as part of their SocialRank scale which impacts organic placement, but activity on these platforms does not build website content like blogging does.

When it comes to choosing where your money is best spent to improve organic search placement I like blogging best, then Facebook and finally Twitter. I place Facebook above Twitter as Facebook is where your prospects are spending a significant part of their time and I feel it is important to engage them where they are active.

Although SocialRank does not carry the same weight in organic placement as PageRank, both Google and Bing are actively now monitoring SocialRank. I feel that over time the activity you have on Facebook and Twitter will become more important in affecting your organic placement and where you appear in personalized search results.

In fact for national businesses involvement and engagement on Facebook and Twitter may be key to mitigating the focus of localize search results in organic placement that Google and Bing are both pushing at this time. I say that as search results are now personalized and focus heavily on showing results in your geographic area, but also include a social component where personal connections and interconnections are a factor of the results you see as well.

We invite you to find our more about our services for blog writing, Facebook updates, and Twitter writing if you have a need.

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