#MozCation 2011 – A Time for Learning, Networking & Fun

Posted by jennita

About a year ago, we started talking about how we wanted to find a way to meet more people from the community in person. Sure we all get to know each other online through the blog, on Twitter or maybe in Q&A, but it’s nothing like getting to meet people face-to-face. There becomes a bond or friendship once you actually know each other that helps to build a community.

The idea we came up with was MozCation. We asked our community to create some sort of unique content and tell us why we should have an SEOmoz Meetup (aka MozCation) in their city. The plan was to pick one city based on the uniqueness of the submission, number of people involved (tweeting, promoting, commenting, etc.) and the actual location. Well we were in for quite the treat after we introduced the idea of MozCation, and people all over the world began nominating their cities.

As many of you know, we had a really tough time choosing just one… and chose four instead. :) But this meant organizing four events including venue, speakers, food, drinks, and about a million other tasks that goes along with a meetup like this. What we weren’t quite prepared for was that three out of the four cities were international, which meant we also had to figure out shipping and visas and all that fun stuff.

We’ve just wrapped up our last one and I wanted to give a quick overview of each and link to each of the speaker presentations. We had an amazing lineup of speakers from Salt Lake City to Barcelona and we’d love to share that knowledge with all of you. Take a peak below at the awesomeness that was MozCation 2011.

Salt Lake City – June 29, 2011

Our first stop on the MozCation tour was Salt Lake City, Utah. We also only had about 3 weeks to get everything organized as we had already set the date. Yikes! Thanks to Elisabeth Osmeloski we found a great venue and were able to get it all done in the nick of time. Being our first one, we also learned quite a few valuable lessons that we changed for the next events. We were amazed by the turnout and it was a seriously packed house. The energy in the room was full of excitement and the speakers really brought their A-game.

At each event we had food, drinks and networking before and after the presentations. Not only did we want to meet the community but we wanted the local communities to get to know each other as well. It was great to see the way the Salt Lake City group began talking about getting together more often. Community rules!

Mozzers arrive for the first MozCation! Airport pics FTW

A packed house in Salt Lake City

Speaker Presentations

Chris Bennett –SLC MozCation From the Trenches, Real Life Examples of Stuff That Works

Vince Blackham – Igniting Organic SEO Efforts with Viral Marketing

Rand Fishkin – How to Use Your Social Network for Higher Search Rankings

Vince Blackham speaking – Some "panda" talk

Get all of the photos from MozCation Salt Lake City.

Sao Paulo, Brazil – July 23, 2011

Whee! This was the second stop on the MozCation tour and what better place than to head to our first of two trips to South America. This meetup corresponded with the Brazilian conference Expon, so not only did we have lots of people from the local community there, but we had some great international speakers around as well. Also a huge shout out to Fabio Ricotta and his team for helping us to get everything organized.

MozCation means everyone works. Especially Rand :)

Mozzers taking cheesy photos *grin*

Speaker Presentations

Fabio Ricotta – Google +1 e Analise Social

Tom Critchlow – Why I Do What I Do

Rand Fishkin – Leveraging Social Media for SEO

Q&A time with the speakers in Sao Paulo

See all the photos from MozCation Sao Paulo.

Lima, Peru – September 23, 2011

Hola Peru! Our third stop took us back to South America, but this time to Lima, Peru. One of the most exciting parts of this trip was that we had people from all over Latin America join us. When Lima was first nominated, we were seeing tweets from Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica, and many other countries pledging their backing of Lima. It gave me chills of excitement to see how the community had rallied together in that way.

One thing we did differently in Peru is that we were able to have a live stream of the event. This made it possible for many people to tune in and enjoy the presentations even though they weren’t there (I was one of those people). This was a huge success and we decided that we’d try to make that happen from then on.

This is now known around the office as the "MozCation Face"

Another packed house in Peru

The Lima event wouldn’t have happened with out the special help from Daniel Falcon who not only helped us to organize the event but also was our translator during the presentations.

Speaker Presentations

Carlos Chacon (SEOCharlie) – 5 ½ Consejos para un Keyword Research en Español

Tom Critchlow – Enterprise SEO

Rodrigo Stockebrand – La Auditoria SEO: 7 puntos claves para un buen análisis

Rand Fishkin – Evolution of SEO – MozCation Lima

Roger was everywhere! Hanging out with speakers Tom Critchlow & Carlos Chacon

Yay! All the Mozzers got hats from Peru :)

Check out all the photos from MozCation Lima.

Barcelona, Spain – October 28, 2011

Although Barcelona was the last MozCation for the year, it certainly wasn’t the least. In amazing Spanish style, the final event was a hit. Since we learned a bit more with each event we planned, Barcelona had it all. As with all of the MozCations, the speakers were top of the line. We were also lucky to have Miguel Pascual as the MC and he helped us to plan the event. Plus I have to give a shout out to Gianluca Fiorelli who quickly responded to my 500 emails about such little things as how we should organize the t-shirts. :)

Let the registration begin! All the attendees got a nametag, MozCation T-shirt and Roger sticker. Beep!

Speaker Presentations

Aleyda Solis – Consejos para Facilitar un Proceso SEO Local – MozCation Barcelona

Joanna Lord – Leveraging the Power of Retargeting for SEO

Gianluca Fiorelli – Contenido y SEO

Rand Fishkin – New Opportunities in SEO: Barcelona

"MozCation Face" :)                                                      A huge group of Spanish Mozzers

See more of the photos from MozCation Barcelona. (More photos to come)

Thanks – Gracias – Obrigado

We owe a huge huge huge debt of gratitude to all of our speakers and everyone who attended these events. We were overwhelmed by the response and attendance, and are simply giddy about the community all over again. Plus we want to thank you all for the hospitality and generosity shown in every city we visited.

I also want to thank everyone at SEOmoz who helped make each of these possible during one of the craziest times of the year for us. Thank you, gracias and obrigado!

Please, if you have photos or blog posts or anything MozCation related, post it in the comments! Thanks :)

MozCation 2012

Don’t worry, you’ll get your chance to nominate your city next year. :) Just watch this space and we’ll let you know when nominations are up again!

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Google doodles Halloween with video

Google is celebrating Halloween with a time-lapse video “doodle” of pumpkins being carved.

The giant pumpkins sat on top of hay bales are carved in a frenzy of sped up activity throughout the short clip.

Then night falls and they are lit up inside with candles, each one bearing a stylised letter of the Google logo as is usual.

According to a post on the Google blog, the six gargantuan pumpkins were delivered from the nearby Half Moon Bay and some of them weighed in excess of a thousand pounds. The biggest was 1,300 pounds, apparently.

The carving was done in the middle of the company’s Mountain View campus, and took eight hours from start to finish.

A whole lot of other staff turned up in fancy dress to lend their support and watch the carving take place.

Should you wish to find out more about how the carving was organised, then there’s a behind the scenes video which is nearly five minutes long on the blog spot. Have a watch here.

As the carvers explained – each had responsibility for their own pumpkin, and were free to adopt any sort of style they wanted – the massive squashes had extremely thick walls which needed to be sawed through in some cases.

And there’s definitely something spookier about a grinning, lit up pumpkin which actually looks of a big enough size to eat you.

Virgin Media bundles Spotify Premium

Virgin Media has announced a deal with Spotify whereby it will include the premium subscription version of the streaming music platform with its broadband and mobile services.

New customers signing up to Virgin’s fibre broadband and those re-subscribing to an XL package or better will get Spotify Premium free for the first six months.

That would normally run to nearly £60, and allows for unlimited listening to Spotify’s large library of 15 million tracks, plus benefits such as mobile and offline functionality.

What’s more, Spotify will also be offering content which will be exclusive to Virgin subscribers, with a VM Music tab carrying those tunes.

On the smartphone front, broadband customers who take out a new Virgin Mobile phone contract on certain specified handsets will again get Spotify Premium for free, although in this case for just half the time, three months.

However, the added bonus here is that Virgin won’t count any of the bandwidth used streaming music from Spotify towards your data allowance, so you really will be free to access unlimited amounts of music without worrying about being charged on the data front.

Virgin customers will, of course, be able to access Spotify through all platforms online and on their mobile, but also via Virgin Media’s TiVo powered digital TV service. An exclusive Spotify app for Virgin Media TiVo is planned for launch in the “coming weeks”.

And what if you’re already a subscriber to Spotify? You’ll still be able to redeem your offer for three or six free months of listening against your current subscription.

Andreas Liffgarden, Global Head of Telecom Business Development for Spotify, commented: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Virgin Media to offer music fans access to one of the biggest music libraries in the world at their fingertips, through broadband, mobile and – for the first time – TiVo.”

“Telcoms companies moving into the music space increases revenue streams to the music industry and provides benefits for fans and artists alike.”

Apparently Virgin also has further Spotify offers in the pipeline to be revealed in due course.

The Business of SEO: Perception vs. Reality

Posted by Matthew C. Egan

As SEOs we often live in a bubble, sometimes it’s a social media bubble where we only tweet amongst our peers, sometimes it’s a literal bubble that we don’t explore outside our comfort zone, but that bubble can easily keep us from seeing things that to consultants in other fields is painfully obvious. At the end of the day, an SEO consultant isn’t any more special than a CPA or a Financial Planner, we’re all consultants and ultimately our job is to give our clients what they want.

The question then is, what do our clients want?

Our clients want value, our clients want progress, and they’re willing to invest in consultants to get what they want, but it falls to us to prove not just the value that we know exists in SEO and other Inbound Marketing tactics, but to also deliver the perception of value. Not only to our primary contact, but to their superiors and anyone else who might be reading the documents you leave behind.

I was talking with Tom Critchlow about this and he said something to me that I asked his permission to share here and I couldn’t agree with him more. Tom said, "There’s no good nailing value, if you don’t nail perceived value."

He’s absolutely right. Starting out as an SEO consultant, my every focus was on the value of SEO and I believed with all my heart that White Hat SEO was valuable, that our tactics would increase our client’s revenue, that we had the answers to the recession’s tough questions.

I set out, a one man operation at the time, to educate my local business community about SEO. I spoke at luncheons, attended more networking events than I did actual client work, and just "hustled" to steal the term from Gary Vaynerchuck.

Our company grew, we gained clients, Image Freedom as a brand started to develop, we were providing SEO but my salesmanship abilities were primarily responsible for creating that perceived value. Value that was not shown in my documentation or my reports. My documents sucked, our logo sucked, our analytics reports changed every other month. We were a mess, all strategy, no presentation.

Image Freedom completely lacked consistency, and while we were growing, we were hindered by our emphasis on SEO’s ACTUAL value, which you and I know intimately as readers of SEOmoz and members of this community, but I wasn’t doing a good enough job on the perceived value component.

In 2010 we hired Prologue Branding, a consulting duo who helped us develop a consistent brand message throughout all of our documents, a great new logo, conducted past and present client interviews, the works. They stripped us down to our core.

It wasn’t an easy experience to embark upon. Client interviews, especially the interviews with clients we’d let down, or who I’d failed to help maintain that perception of value with. It was a painful but humbling experience that I recommend every entrepreneur experiences on at least an annual basis.

Through pain comes growth and I lost many nights of sleep re-developing documentation, research, reports, guides, and whatever I could to help me bring the perception of SEO that my clients took away from our meetings closer in line with the reality that SEO really was a fantastic tool for growing their business.

We used to provide PDF’s of our research, our audits, print outs from Google Analytics (don’t lie, you know you’ve done this) and basically weak leave behinds that were far from inspiring to our clients. They perceived disorganization, inconsistent brand messaging, and that just wasn’t the message I wanted them to take away, but I was stuck in my craft, I was the SEO, I knew what they needed and if they could just accept that it all lived in my head and not on paper then we can get on with the work of creating this value.

I was dead wrong.

Perception is reality, and through my branding audit, through our rebirth as a team and as a company, we started delivering not just perceived value in presentations and workshops about SEO, our documentation expressed that value, our audits were professionally printed and spiral bound. The documents felt substantial to hold, they escaped the "unicorns and rainbows" theoretical hindrance that effects so many in the Social Media and SEO spaces and became documented plans, strategies, and it was hard to look at what we delivered without knowing that we had a plan and you were in the right hands to get your business to where you want it to be.

I’ve owned an Internet Marketing company for two years now. As a team, we’ve exceeded my every expectation but we’ve made our share of mistakes along the way. If I can pass on one piece of wisdom to my fellow Entrepreneurs, to my fellow SEOs, it’s the need for expressing the perceived value of what you do, and not just your belief in the value of your trade.

You’re on SEOmoz, you’re educated about SEO, you’re reading tips and tactics from the greatest SEOs I’ve had the pleasure to meet and learn from. What you do is valuable, and you can break out and be a success. You can grow your business into a brand to be proud of.

Just don’t forget that perception is reality. As soon as we established the perceived value of what we did, our clients started investing more into SEO, our momentum started to snowball beyond what we had expected and we were able to deliver, without fail, not just the things we knew our clients needed, but also the things our clients wanted.

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BT a year ahead of fibre schedule

BT has announced that it’s a year ahead in terms of the schedule of its super-fast fibre roll out across the UK.

The roll out of fibre-to-the-cabinet and fibre-to-the-premises services was originally expected to reach across two-thirds of the UK by the year 2015, and BT reckons it’ll now be finished in 2014.

In order to speed along the process, 520 more engineers have been taken on by the company, the majority of who are ex-armed forces.

Currently some 6 million premises in the UK have access to fibre, and that will be increased to 10 million next year.

BT notes that the accelerated pace of deployment will help the government achieve its ambition of having the best super-fast broadband network in Europe come 2015.

We didn’t realise that was still on the government’s official broadband shopping list, given that there isn’t much chance we’ll be able to outdo countries like the Netherlands who are already well ahead of us in broadband terms, and unlikely to stand still over the next few years.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport commented: “Superfast broadband is essential for achieving sustainable growth and it is vital that homes and businesses have access to it as soon as possible.”

“BT’s accelerated fibre roll-out plan is great news for the UK. With access to superfast broadband UK businesses will have the infrastructure they need to grow and develop new products and services. This investment means new jobs today, but also allows us to build the digital infrastructure we need for the jobs of tomorrow.”

BT also pointed out that it is set to increase the headline speed of its fastest fibre product from 100Mbps to 300Mbps in the spring of 2012. The company will also be doubling up the speed of its fibre-to-the-cabinet from 40Mbps to 80Mbps.

The downside of FTTC is that even when it rolls out in your area, you’re not guaranteed coverage, as only a percentage of the area is hooked up. The exact percentage varies from exchange to exchange.

Custom Reporting using Google Analytics and Google Docs – The Ultimate Analytics Mashup

Posted by Jamie

Realtime Google Analytics data inside a Google Doc—a panacea!

Don’t believe me? Check out that screenshot below. In this blog post I’ll show how you can do this yourself, and I’ve created an easy template to help get you started.

Google Analytics is my favorite analytics product. And it’s only been getting better with the new interface, flow visualization, and multi-channel funnels. Google Analytics is still best game in town for the price (it’s free)!

But, despite all the flexibility that Google Analytics offers, sometimes you want to access data in a spreadsheet and create a truly custom report. That’s where the Google Analytics Data Feed API comes in.

This blog post is going to show you how to create a custom report by connecting a Google Spreadsheet directly with your data from Google Analytics. When data is available directly in a spreadsheet you’re able to make interesting comparisons, create the dashboard of your dreams, or chart data however you’d like. And the only requirement is that you have Analytics setup for your website. I’ve created a simple Google Spreadsheet template that makes the whole thing easy.

Analytics geeks: hold onto your seats!

It all started with the Data Feed Query Explorer

(Those who want to start accessing data in Google Docs should jump right to the next section.)

Before we dive in, a little background. A few weeks ago I was looking for a solution to directly access Google Analytics data in Microsoft Excel or Google Docs using the Google Analytics API.

I first discovered Google’s excellent Data Feed Query Explorer. The explorer lets you connect to your Analytics account and pull custom data until your heart’s content. This tool is not only an efficient way to figure out what’s available via the API, but it’s also great for pulling custom data. Want to see which organic keywords drove conversions on your site? Enter the details as below, after authenticating and adding your appropriate profile ID:

The Data Feed Query Explorer is a great way to explore the Google Analytics API, and to understand what data is available. If you’re interested in understanding the API, experiment with the tool but also check out the API documentation.

While this tool is helpful, it didn’t meet my goal of accessing this data within a live spreadsheet such as Google Spreadsheets. Enter Mikael Thuneberg. Mikeal wrote an excellent set of scripts that pulls data from the Google Analytics API, and allows you to access that data within a Google Spreadsheet. Nice work, Mikeal. He provides this code free of charge (and it’s included in my template below), but feel free to reach out to him if you’re interested in paying an expert for your custom reporting needs.

I used Mikeal’s scripts to create a template that accesses Google Analytics data and allows you to customize it in almost any way. Let’s get started!

Connecting Google Analytics to Google Docs

I’ve created a brief screencast to walk you through connecting your Google Analytics account to the template I’ve created, but the instructions are also written out below the video. (A small disclaimer: this spreadsheet is provided without warranty or support, so please use at your own risk!)

1) Make sure you have a Google Analytics account with data. Duh.

Make sure you’re logged into Google Analytics on the computer you’ll be using with my spreadsheet template.

2) Open the spreadsheet template and save a copy.

Open this Google Spreadsheet template, and save a copy to your own Google Account (as you cannot edit this public version). Once the spreadsheet is open, choose "File"… "Make a copy".

Get the Google Spreadsheet template here!
(open this and save a copy to your own Google account)

3) Enter your Google Analytics username.

Give the browser a few moments to make the duplicate copy. Once the copy is created, enter your Google Analytics username (usually an email address).

4) Enter your Google Analytics password.

Enter your Google Analytics password. Once entered, you may hide that row to obfuscate your password.

If the cell below the Profile ID shows an Auth Token (a very long alphanumeric string) you have successfully authenticated. If you have an issue, ensure you are logged into the same Google Account for which you are trying to access. If you still have any issues, such as a CAPCHA warning, wait 30 minutes and try again.

5) Enter your Google Analytics Profile ID.

You’ll need to determine the Google Analytics Profile ID of the site you’d like to create a custom report for, and enter it into the Google Spreadsheet.

Log into GA (in a separate browser window) and open the profile for which you’d like to access data. Getting the profile ID isn’t easy, and it differs based on which version of GA you use.

Once you’re logged into Google Analytics, grab the profile ID from the browser address bar. Here’s where you can find it depending which interface of Google Analytics you’re using.

Finding your Profile ID in the Old Google Analytics Interface:

If you’re using the old Google Analytics interface, your profile is highlighted below in yellow. In the example below it is 2917495 and should be entered into the spreadsheet as characters only.

Finding your Profile ID in the New Google Analytics Interface:

If you’re using the new Google Analytics interface, your profile is highlighted below in yellow. In the example below it is 2917495 and should be entered into the spreadsheet as characters only.

Once you have the profile ID, add it to the appropriate field in the spreadsheet template. If everything worked, the cell below the Profile ID should display an Auth Token (a very long alphanumeric string). If you have any issues, ensure you are logged into the same Google Account for which you are trying to access. If you still have issues, such as a CAPTCHA warning, wait 30 minutes and try again.

6) Click the "Custom Report" tab to start accessing your data!

Now you’re all set! Click on the "Custom Report" tab at the bottom of the Google Spreadsheet to start interacting with your data. Edit the cells in yellow to change what data is pulled, and for what data ranges. Read on to learn more about choosing which metrics to pull, and how to filter the data.

Customizing the data

When you jump into the "Custom Report" tab of the spreadsheet you’ll notice several of the cells are yellow. You can update these cells to change what data is pulled from Google Analytics. For a full walkthrough of the spreadsheet template, be sure to watch the screencast earlier in this blog post.

There are four ways you can change the information that’s pulled from Google Analytics into the spreadsheet.

Metric: Change which metric is pulled in that column of the spreadsheet—for example: visits, pageviews or bounces. Change this value and the cells below will update to pull that data. Check out Google’s Dimensions & Metrics Reference for details on what data you can access.

Filter: Change how the data below is filtered, i.e. what data is included. Here you can specify a filter that will show only metrics for which the filter is true. For example, setting ‘ga:medium==organic’ in the filter cell will only show data where the traffic medium is organic search. The filter section is where you have a lot of power—you can even use regular expressions to do advanced filtering. To learn more about setting the filter cell, read Google’s Data Feed documentation.

Start Date: Enter a date in the MM/DD/YYYY format to select the start date for cells in that particular row.

End Date: Enter a date in the MM/DD/YYYY format to select the end date for cells in that particular row.

How to make this actionable

So you’ve connected your Google Analytics account to a Google Spreadsheet. Now what? There’s a lot you can do when you access your analytics in this format; I’ve included a few ideas below:

  1. Put interesting metrics next to one another. Have you ever wanted to see your total visits next to your organic search visits and goals completions? By choosing the metrics that get displayed in each column you can compare metrics however you like.
  2. Compare a variety of date ranges easily. Want to compare several days, weeks or months? Change the start and end dates and you can compare multiple periods.
  3. Create advanced filters. Get creative with your filters. Try creating a filter for organic search traffic (ga:mediun==organic), or for a set of keywords using regular expressions. There are unlimited ways you can slice and dice your data!
  4. Create calculated cells. Add a column to the spreadsheet and calculate your conversion rate by dividing your goal completions by your visits.
  5. Create your ultimate dashboard. Probably the most useful way to use this report is to create a dashboard of your favorite key performance indicators. This spreadsheet can automate your weekly or monthly reporting by pulling all of the relevant metrics in one swoop!

These are just a few of the many ways you can use Google Analytics data within a spreadsheet. I’d love to hear your ideas for how to make this actionable—please let me know in the comments.

A few technical notes

  • The Google Analytics API is rate limited, so you may occasionally receive errors because your spreadsheet has made too many API calls at once. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way around this expect to reduce the number of rows or columns of data you’re pulling. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve found a good workaround for this.
  • Your password is in plaintext in the Setting tab of the spreadsheet. Be sure you don’t share this Google Doc unless you want someone to have access to your Google Analytics password.

Be a data ninja!

I hope this template is useful and that you’re now able to do all sorts of fancy things with your web analytics data. Please let me know how it works in the comments!

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Firefox now with added Bing

Mozilla and Microsoft have teamed up to produce a version of the Firefox browser with integrated Bing search.

Yes, you read that right. The customised version of Firefox is now available, with Bing as the default search engine in the search box, and AwesomeBar making Bing.com the default home page

You can grab it here. Those who surf already running Firefox can install the Bing Search for Firefox add-on, of course.

Mozilla announced the change on its blog page, stating: “Offering Firefox with Bing extends the partnership Mozilla and Microsoft announced last year.”

The firm also noted: “There are nearly 20 customized versions of Firefox distributed globally by partners including Bing, United Internet, Twitter, Yahoo! and Yandex.”

So, Firefox with Bing then, unusual bedfellows? Certainly on the face of it, given that Internet Explorer has been losing market share to Firefox for some time now.

Although admittedly of late Chrome has taken over pinching IE surfers with Firefox levelling off.

The truth is that the web browser isn’t quite as important to Microsoft as it used to be. Bing, and pushing it up to rival Google – if possible – is where the company’s online division is now focused to a major degree.

Because the search engine and related data and advertising is where the real money is online.

And getting Bing integrated into Firefox will bring the search engine more users, it’s as simple as that. Whether it helps Firefox achieve more downloads is a secondary concern, it would seem.

Besides, as we’ve said, it’s Chrome which is doing the damage to Internet Explorer’s user base, anyway. It’s a tad unlikely we’ll see a Chrome-Bing partnership until the devil is forced to start wearing a scarf and parka…

How Big is Your Long Tail? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Aaron Wheeler

 Choosing keywords to optimize for is a tricky business, made all the more tricky as keyphrases grow longer than a couple of words. As Google has said, up to 20% of search queries in any given day are completely unique. Should you try to optimize your tauntaun sleeping bags product page for "tauntaun sleeping bag," for "childrens’ tauntaun sleeping bag," or for "childrens’ star wars tauntaun sleeping bag from hoth"? How can you research whether or not to optimize for such a long tail query?

In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand is back to explain just how long of a tail you should be optimizing for. Have any suggestions on how you do this research? Give us your thoughts in the comments!


Video Transcription

Howdy, SEOmoz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re asking the question: How big is your long tail? No innuendo intended. This is a totally serious question for the search world, wink wink, nod nod, say no more.

Many of you are familiar with the fact that the world of search is really dominated by this concept of the long tail. Google talks about this incredible metric that 20% of any search that’s performed every day is completely unique. Google has never seen that search before performed on their engine at all. No one in history has ever made that search. That happens on one out of every five queries every single day.

We are amazingly unique creatures, especially when we get in front of a search box. That’s a great thing, but of course it means that doing keyword research can be tremendously tough. There are a lot of folks who ask the question: "I’ve heard of this tail concept, but I only do keyword targeting and keyword research really on the fat head, maybe the chunky middle." I’ll talk about those in a sec. "I don’t even know how to do keyword research on the long tail. I don’t know how much of an opportunity it is."

This Whiteboard Friday is here to answer that last question: How big of an opportunity it is. Can we measure it? Can we look at the size? Can we understand? Because some industries are going to be very narrowly focused on a few head terms. That’s what people search for. Those are the money terms. That’s where people convert, that’s where the value comes from. In other industries, the long tail is a huge, huge win, and you need to be able to understand that in order to do the right kinds of keyword targeting.

So let’s begin. This is our classic long tail graph. We’ve got the quantity of visits that any particular keyword sends you on this axis, and then down here on this axis, the keywords themselves. This keyword sent a ton of visits. This keyword sends a ton of visits. This keyword sends a bunch of visits. Then there’s this huge tail that comprises usually 70% of all of the quantity. If we were to take this area under the graph, do some calculus, figure out how big the whole opportunity is, oftentimes the tail is 60%, 70% of the full opportunity. It’s because it extends for miles and miles and miles in that direction.

We kind of classify these into three chunks. So we have our fat head, our chunky middle, and our long tail. The fat head, in my view, tends to refer to the things that are very popular in your niche. I say in your niche, because depending on your niche, these may be very different in terms of quantity. I’ve given a rough estimate for SEOmoz. Usually the categories we like to bring them into are something that sends more than 100 visitors each month. If there’s a keyword that’s sending us more than 100 visits a month, we put that in the fat head. That’s sort of a big term for us. If there’s something sending between 10 and 99 visits a month, that’s our chunky middle. If it’s sending fewer than 10, it’s our long tail.

Some SEOs like to have very, very different orders of magnitude on these. Some people might say, "This is only things that send over 1000. This is stuff between 20 and 500. This is stuff that’s only less than 5." Whatever you want to do is fine. You can classify your traffic that way. That’s a good way to go. You should just be aware that this classification system exists. I think this is a very healthy way to be able to look at things.

You tend to look at the chunky middle and the fat head and say, "I am going to manage these." Whatever I’m using, if I’m using the SEOmoz Pro Suite, I’m going to manage these in my rankings. If I’m using Raven or Authority Labs or any of these other services, these are the keywords that I want to care about tracking their rankings, tracking their visits, keeping good tabs on how they’re doing.

It’s harder in the long tail. I might have a subset of these that I’m monitoring as well just to get a sample, but I’m generally not paying attention one-on-one to them. The problem can be when as SEOs we naturally, since we’re paying attention to these keywords we manage and rank track, we get obsessed with them. We stop thinking and worrying about the long tail and the opportunity we’re missing here. Meanwhile, one of our competitors is going, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Go ahead and let him win the number two, number one rankings for those keywords. I’m winning over here where there’s no competition, and where there’s generally higher conversions, and where there’s tons more volume." We’re kicking ourselves when we find that out.

Instead of losing out, let’s figure out how much opportunity exists there. Before we answer that, we should know: Well, how much am I currently capturing of these? This is pretty easy. What you can do is you can create advanced segments inside Google Analytics, or you can create segmentation inside Google Analytics for each of these buckets. You decide how big these buckets are. You can say, "I only want keywords that sent me fewer than 10 visits." That works great. Those segments can then be classified and you can say, "All right. This sent me 13,510 visits last month. That is up from the month before, so I’m sort of doing better in my long tail." Or long tail demand’s getting better, whichever. From that, measure the quantity of keywords and visits in each bucket.

You can also measure the quality. Measure quality with one of two things. If you have goals set up, hopefully you have goals and conversion rates set up in your Analytics, that’s a great way to look.

The other way, if you don’t, if you’re just trying to say, "How much is this traffic worth to me from a branding perspective, from a usefulness perspective, from a reaching new audience perspective?" The metric I really like for that is browse rate. The reason I like it so much is because browse rate says on average how many pages did a visitor visit in a single session when they came via this keyword.

Browse rate is great way to say usually, when you have a higher browse rate, that means more engagement. It means someone’s surfing around your site more. They’re spending more time on the site. They are more likely to convert or come back and convert. Browse rate is a good sort of substitute metric. It’s not great, not perfect, not nearly as good as goals and conversions, but if you don’t have that, browse rate is a great way to judge qualitatively: How’s this traffic performing?

You take that and you sort of go, "All right. This is how well I’m doing. This is my trend over time. Am I improving? Am I not improving?" For some people they want to know, "Yeah, but what’s the opportunity? Am I really missing out here, or am I doing a good job?" Just measuring your own progress won’t tell you that. You need broader industry statistics. There’s a number of ways to do that.

The most obvious one, of course, is to go to Google AdWords and try and figure out what the fat head and chunky middle distribution looks like. But because there’s no real keyword research available for the long tail, Google through their AdWords tool or their AdWords API, or Bing through AdCenter, are not generally showing you keywords that send fewer than 10 searches, that have a very small search quantity, but there are tons of those keywords. That’s a really challenging thing to search. Of course, no search engine’s going to be able to tell you what those 20% of queries that they’ve never seen before every day are. So that’s frustrating too. Solution to this . . . it’s not that ingenious, you probably know how to do it, you can probably guess, but let me walk you through it anyway. I think it’s super exciting.

This is asking how much opportunity do you have. Oftentimes it’s a lot. One of the best ways to figure this out – this won’t answer it perfectly, but it does a nice decent job – is to say, "I’m going to go to AdWords or AdCenter and I’m going to create a paid search campaign." This is one of the times when paid search and organic search overlap very, very well. It’s just because the research is so handy.

For my major fat head terms, I’m going to create campaigns around those and target groups in both the exact and broad matches for those keywords: Exact match, of course, the example would be like "chess tournaments." "Chess tournaments" is an exact match. I only want that precise phrase. Google do not show my ad and don’t tell me about that. I want to know only the clicks that I get for "chess tournaments" exactly.

Then I’m going to create another group that contains phrase based matching. Show me phrases that contain "chess tournaments" but not this exact phrase. Meaning things like, if somebody searched for "playing chess in a tournament in Miami." That would show up in . . . well, yeah, it contains the phrase, but it’s not that exact phrase. Or I’m sorry, "Miami chess tournaments" would be in there. "Minneapolis chess tournaments" would be in there. "Pro chess tournaments" would be in there. It’s not the exact phrase "chess tournaments", but it contains that phrase.

Then you have that final bucket of contains the words but is not matching a high-volume phrase and does not necessarily need to be the exact phrase. This could be "tournament style chess games" or "tournament video game chess". All this type of stuff can add up to a bunch, and what will happen when you buy these keywords in AdWords is that they will show you something called impression count.

The impression count can actually be drilled into and you can see all of the terms that send those. From that impression count, you can then take them and segment them into these buckets. You can say, "Oh, okay. We had 500 keywords that had 10 or fewer impressions, so we’re going to put those 500 keywords in here. Then we had another 110 keywords that fit into our chunky middle stats. We had another 42 that fit into the head."

This kind of distribution is incredibly valuable because it gives you a sense for a phrase or a bunch of phrases, if you’re doing this work consistently, how big is the opportunity in the tail? It really does vary. Some things are hyper-geographic, so geographic modifiers get in there. Some things are very tuned to customization and specialization and weird sorts of searches. This happens a lot in the programming world. You’ll see "mySQL calls" have a bunch of volume and then you might say "PHP mySQL calls", and then there’s a ton of long tail weird stuff. Being able to see that versus something that’s much more narrow is really, really handy and where the volume is constrained or confined to the fat head, chunky middle.

Now that you’ve got this process, if you’ve got some budget for AdWords, you can start testing, grouping these things into buckets. You can measure your buckets over time and how you’re performing and you can see: Am I capturing the long tail? Or am I losing out on an opportunity to capture the long tail and maybe I need to be spending a little less time and attention with the fat head and chunky middle?

All right gang, thank you very much for joining me. I hope we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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A Framework for Site Reviews (with Examples)

Posted by randfish

Over the past decade, I’ve been part of many reviews of websites, both in-person, as a consultant (prior to 2009) and at many events. I’ve found that much of the time, the reviews themselves lack structure (particularly those that happen "on the fly" during a conference panel or informal sit-down). Thankfully, during my recent face-off with Distilled’s Will Critchlow in London, I had an excuse to noodle on that and work up some ideas.

The Searchlove conference had a unique concept for our classic presentation battle. We were each given three websites to review around 12:30pm and had to give 30 minute presentations using slide decks 4 hours later. My will to win and avenge my depressing loss at Mozcon Seattle was stronger than my jetlag, and I gave the following presentation:

A Methodology for Site Reviews

View more presentations from Rand Fishkin

The point isn’t that I won (or that Will now owes me a very fancy dinner next time I’m in London) :-) It’s that I think this framework can function reasonably well for many marketers in need of an expedient methodology to evaluate a site’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks. The deck above uses:

Broad Questions about the Website

  • Why does this website exist? (i.e. what is it hoping to accomplish? what does success mean?)
  • Who cares? (i.e. who are the people using and getting value from the products/services/information?)
  • What motivates, inspires and interests this audience (this is critical, because great content and great inbound marketing stems from interesting the audience, not just giving them the task that will make your business succeed)
  • What’s the client worried about? (the client might be your boss, the CEO, the business itself or an actual client)

User Experience Issues

  • Design
  • Usability
  • Stickiness
  • Conversion

Content Issues

  • Usefulness
  • Interest Alignment
  • Quality
  • Shareability

SEO Issues

  • Accessibility
  • Keyword (Research) and Targeting
  • Content Optimization (more than just keywords, see this post for more)
  • Link Authority

Social Issues

  • Social Value
  • Channels (which sites/mediums to pursue)
  • Incentives (why will your audience participate)
  • Social Optimization (getting placement, timing, engagement, etc. right)

This framework is, obviously, just one way to think about how to review a site, but I think it may be valuable to others in the field and thus, wanted to share. I’d also love to hear feedback and suggestions for how to improve. After all, I need to take on Will again in New York this coming week.

p.s. Distilled tells me there’s still some tickets available for that show, so if you’re around NYC, you should come see if I can win two in a row :-)

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Job hunting students’ Facebook worries

Students these days are concerned about what potential employers might find out about them on the net when it comes to job interviews.

And of course, when they say the internet, they primarily mean Facebook, that haunt of embarrassing drunken photos and lapsed privacy settings which could give a potential employer a glimpse into the party life a student would rather they didn’t see.

According to a new survey commissioned by the ICO, nearly half of students are worried about what info could be gleaned about them online. 42% of the 500 questioned fear their future employment prospects could be damaged by such content.

That being the case, they should be taking measures to ensure their social networking content is kept private using Facebook’s (or other sites) infamous privacy options.

The survey also showed that many students aren’t protecting themselves against the risk of identity theft. A third hadn’t arranged to redirect their mail from a previous address, leaving them at risk.

Two-thirds had never checked their credit rating, allowing dodgy applications – if there are any – to go unnoticed.

All this is part of the 2011 Student Brand Ambassador Campaign organised by the ICO to heighten awareness of information rights issues.

The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, commented: “In tough times, young people are clearly less relaxed about privacy, particularly in relation to information that they post online – but many may not know what they can do about it.”

“The Student Brand Ambassador campaign is about arming students with the advice they need to protect themselves from obvious dangers such as identity theft and keeping their social lives private. It’s about empowering young people to take back control of their information and I hope the campaign is embraced by students at universities across the UK.”