How to Use Wikipedia for Content Creation Part 1

Wikipedia can be used as much more than a semi-credible source on a research paper or a blog. We can use it to mine for linkable content ideas. We can gather ideas for topics to create a keyword list then use that to do more in-depth research for content creation. Let’s say I run an online skateboard shop and I want to do some content research in hopes of driving more traffic to my website.

Step 1:

Run a simple query(“Your topic” and Wikipedia) and find the Wikipedia listing for your industry specific topic. In my example, I found two separate listings around my topic.

Wikipedia Query

Upon further investigation, I see that the skateboard Wikipedia is mostly centered around the Skateboard’s parts and construction so I move on to the Skateboarding listing.

Once I click on my search listing I get a build out of topics Wikipedia has content built around. One topic that interest me is “skate culture”. I believe I may be able to build out some unique content around it.

wikipedia topics

Another way I can take the topic research a step further is to run Wikipedia’s url through Google AdWord planner and get some additional data from their database. It can be useful to get data around keywords or topics you may want to target.

Google_adwords

Step 2

Determine what type of content will resonate best with your target audience. I like to use Epicbeat for this part in the research process to see which content types perform best for my audience. By using Epicbeat I get a build out of popular content types that are likely to perform well within my intended audience.

I simply add my query for this I am going to keep it simple and just enter in skateboarding since there is not enough data to get very granular. Then I want to navigate to content insights and see what types of content perform well and which social platforms are best for amplifying that content. Under top content formats, I can see that interviews, articles, and infographics tend to perform well. I also see that Facebook tends to get the most engagement as a channel to distribute content once it is built out properly.

Epicbeat content research

The next step is to do keyword analysis around my topic and further flesh out my ideas. Next week I will discuss how to go about doing in-depth keyword research and more topic modeling.

Until next time.

Changing the User Agent in Screaming Frog

I was running a crawl for a friend’s site with my favorite SEO tool screaming frog and got the dreaded ‘connection refused’. My first thought was oh no this site is not indexable and the search engines probably dont even know it exists. Which is never a comforting feeling.

Fortunately, I found a work around within screaming frog for crawling websites that may block access to bots other than major search engines. Generally, other sites dont want bots visiting and crawling their websites since it can bloat their analytics. There is nothing worse than opening up your Google analytics account and seeing a spike in traffic for the month just to find out its all bot traffic coming into your website.

The work around is surprisingly simple and a little devious. You want to go into the configuration setting of Screaming frog and click change the user agent. I would recommend changing the user agent to Google bot so you can properly crawl and access the site.


As you can see I can now properly crawl and access the site.

I would also recommend running a simple query if you encounter this issue and see if the site is currently indexed within Google. You can do this by simply doing a query like “Sitedomain.com” remember to leave off the ‘www.’ and ‘https://’.

Unfortunately, when I tried this there were no pages indexed within Google at this time. However, as of writing this I see that two pages have already been indexed upon submitting the sitemap within search console. If this happens you want to submit a sitemap immediately within Search Console and wait for Google bot to come around and index the site properly. If you are worried the robots.txt might be blocking some pages just go to the robots.txt tester within search console.

Input a url you are concerned about and see if your current robots.txt file is blocking anything that would keep Google bot from rendering the page properly. Also be sure to check and make sure there arent any unwanted ‘meta no index’ tags coded within the site to keep search engines from indexing it as well.

Good luck and have fun optimizing your site!

Twitter Automation with Python

I have been recently trying to learn python to automate some digital marketing tasks to make life a little easier. Recently I stumbled onto some sample code on GitHub that dealt with building a bot to automate some pretty monotonous social media tasks. I figured I could use the help since my Twitter account is pretty weak and it looked like a good opportunity.

According to Google Trends marketing automation has been a hot topic over the past several years. When used for good it allows us to automate the boring tasks and spend more time either crafting stellar content or doing more high brow tasks. On the other hand, it is a double edged sword as I see by my Linkedin inbox and twitter account with different profiles spamming my account with unsolicited offers.

Marketing automation

The goal was to organically grow my Twitter following to amplify social posts.

First, to get started I researched some trends using SEOBook and Google Trends. Since there isn’t a singular tool that will let me review hashtags and relevant keywords for social media. I use SEOBook to research popular topics then ran those keywords through Google Trends to look at overall popularity.

Second, I found the sample code through Github which cycles through social media accounts which hash tagged certain keywords I am targeting and follows those users and likes their posts. The python code also specifies how deep or far back it goes to search for keywords and accounts related to my search. Finally, the python program will go through periodically and unfollow those users who have not followed me back in a specified time frame.

Python script

python_automation

The results worked well the program worked to grow my Twitter account more organically and amplify my social posts. My next project is to pull engagement information from social profiles and look for top performing posts and hopefully glean better insights than the social analytics dashboards can offer.

Twitter_engagement

Until next time.

Content Marketing

I came across this question recently on quora and believe it to be fairly important and timely. The question was “What are the new products and developments that affect content marketing and writing?” Considering content marketing has been the rage for quite some time and there is a mind numbing amount of content circulating around the web. It will come to a point where there will be too much content to consume and it will be extremely hard to break through the noise.

Content marketing is extremely popular and will only continue to grow. Content marketing also referred to as inbound marketing is an extremely popular way to grow organic traffic and gain leads or conversions for any website. Content marketing involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in an effort to acquire and retain customers.

Content marketing interestingly got its humble start when John Deere launched a magazine called The Furrow which provided unique information to farmers on how to become more profitable. That magazine is still in service today and is reaching 1.5 million readers in over 40 countries with 12 different languages.

Content Marketing

Content marketing has been around for awhile however, it’s popularity has risen to prominence starting in 2011 according to Google Trends. However, I believe for small businesses to succeed with their content strategies they will have to be creative and innovative moving forward. Businesses will have to use a variety of means to remain competitive in today’s market such as using a variety of means to distribute their content and consistently providing value for their customers. One company I came across that is doing something unique in this space is www.ceros.com which provides an interactive platform from which to develop content. As Seth Godin says we need to find the purple cow and be unique when approaching content marketing and properly conduct research when crafting our content strategies.

We need to understand our audiences better and speak to their needs. Fortunately, there are a plethora of free and paid tools to properly research …. or spy on our target markets to speak to their needs.

A Primer on How to Use Social Media For Smaller Businesses

Social Media for Small Business

Social media can be a great equalizer for any small business looking to gain a competitive edge in their industry. Utilizing social media for small businesses is a great tool however often times it is used either poorly or improperly. There are a few key areas I believe where businesses fail at properly executing their social media campaigns.

No Goal or Poorly defined Goals

Social Media Goals

Often times businesses do a poor job defining their goals and tracking overall performance. The first step in dealing with this issue is to determine what you want to be known for on social media or your company’s overall objective or goal. A sample goal could be “I want to be the go-to source for xy & z”. Once you have decided what your objective is then the next step is to determine what key performance indicators you are going to measure to determine if you are achieving your objective. It is important to track social engagement such as, likes , follower growth, shares etc. I also highly recommend tagging all links posted on social media with the Google URL builder to see where traffic is coming from in your analytics dashboard to gauge the effectiveness and measure ROI of your social campaigns. Also Google tends to generate some very ugly tracking URL’s so you are going to want to run these through a neat program called Bitly to get a smaller condensed URL for other social profiles where space is at a premium.

Producing Engaging Content

Social Media Engagement

Yeah, I admit it can be fairly difficult to produce engaging content on a regular basis. I admit I find it difficult even with the plethora of available tools and all the creativity at my disposal. Fortunately, there are some pretty good resources to work around that slight issue. Before you begin it is important to have a good mix of original content and reshared content but just remember to tag whatever URLs you are sharing through your social platforms. This will help you track what traffic is coming through to your website in your analytics platform. When it comes to sharing or repurposing content to your social platforms you can design engaging graphics whether in the adobe creative suite or with a semi-new platform like Canva if you are not very design savvy.  Canva will allow you to produce fairly aesthetic designs with ease so you can make a post on your social platforms with a high-quality image attached and just remember to always link back to your site or blog. The next step is to hunt down some content to reshare to supplement your social strategy. For this, I like to use Buzz Sumo, Klout or Epic Beat to do some in-depth research on what people are sharing and engaging with on social platforms within my niche. These programs are great for re-sharing content and just doing some additional research to see what types of content are popular so you can structure blog posts around the research and information you find.

Creating a Dialogue with Social Media

Social media for small business

The beautiful thing about social media platforms is it gives individuals a voice who may not have had one otherwise. Social media marketing does not work if you are simply broadcasting your company’s activities or using hard sale tactics on social. This is why I believe ‘social selling’ is ineffective and very annoying. Personally I hate it when people follow me on Linkedin or Twitter just to send me a message about some product or service offering that has no benefit to me. Social media is wonderful for reaching potential customers in the early stage of the buying process and funneling them back to your businesses website for a micro conversion. You can utilize your website for micro conversions such as, email sign ups, newsletter sign ups or registering for product demos rather than going straight to some sort of hard sell. Generally social media has a very low conversion rate when it comes to making sales however it can have decent engagement metrics and be used for attracting customers who are higher up in the sales funnel.

Happy Sharing!

Week 2 Bootstrapping a Startup

As my second week comes to a close I want to take some time and reflect on what is working and what is not to hopefully give an aspiring entrepreneur some much-needed resources. Again, if you have any sort of website I highly recommend setting up Google analytics and webmaster tools to be able to get insight into your traffic sources and the overall health of your website.

For instance, when I dig into my Google webmaster’s dashboard or search console as they call it now I can see some of my web pages are being indexed. I will have to probe a little further to determine why not everything is being indexed but this is a good start as my goal is to begin to get away from relying on paid search for my traffic and really dig into my organic search strategy.

Indexed_pages

Thanks to webmaster tools I can see the number of urls Google has indexed and get a high-level view of my website’s health. Unfortunately, I see I do not have many clicks coming into the website but the other report I like to look at is what keywords are driving traffic to the website.

Search_analyticsI can see that one keyword I optimized for is working to drive some traffic to my website so that is a good sign my search strategy is beginning to work even if I only have a few pages indexed. I also decided to build out a few additional pages for keywords I am targeting with a high search volume and very low competition. I hope these pages I built out will bring in traffic that will have better engagement than the traffic I currently have coming through from my PPC campaign. I already see a slight bump in traffic that I hope is from the SEO pages I built out.

traffic_analytics

Unfortunately, my bounce rate is higher than I want it to be and I would like to see a higher time on site I think this is a result of the trash traffic coming through PPC.

Site_metrics

I can see the search engines are sending slightly better traffic than the PPC campaign I am currently running. However, the bounce rate is a little higher than I would like. I do see the email traffic has much better engagement than any other traffic source. In the medium “ebay listing” I am testing out posting products on Ebay in an attempt to drive traffic back to my site. I am trying to supplement my traffic since I expect to cut off the adwords campaign sometime soon since it is not converting and it is not cost effective to keep running it. I also installed an app that serves up a questionnaire to keep some more qualitative data back from the traffic hitting my site on the product page.

Doubling back to my Ebay listing attempt I think the people searching on Ebay are ready to make a purchase. I am posting products on there with links back to my site. I also tagged the urls so I know what traffic is coming through and I can further segment the data and see how they engage with my site. To tag the url’s I use Google’s simple url builder to build the links and then I just code it in the html editor on Ebay. I highly recommend tagging all links you put out linking back to your website so you know if your efforts are working and if you are driving quality traffic to your site.

I am also tracking the keyword and rank positioning using traffic travis. It is important to track your rankings and positioning periodically to see how you fare against the competition. Don’t get too hung up on this because keyword positioning does not always correlate nicely with web traffic.

page_rankings Not only is Traffic Travis great because it’s free but I get a quick overview of the keywords I am ranking for and the specific search engines as well. I can see very quickly I am ranking highly for a niche term.

Until next time, feel free to leave comments and post questions.

 

Week 1 Bootstrapping a Startup

As the first week of running a lean start-up comes to a close I wanted to take time to reflect on everything I have been doing and provide some valuable resources to anyone interested in starting their own project. I have finished building out my website which sells custom Native American inspired streetwear shirts. I have ran into obstacles along the way but the website is finally up and running.

One extremely important step before launching the website was to set up Google analytics and Google webmaster tools which is now search console. This will allow me to track who comes to my site and what content they are consuming and how they are engaging with me. Search console will give me insight into a number of things like how many pages are indexed and the search terms people are using to get to my site via search engines.

The first step was to build out a new platform which didnt all happen over a week it actually took several weeks. First, I planned out the content I wanted to have on the page I simply wrote all the content in a word doc. Prior to that I had done some basic keyword research and found a few terms I wanted to rank for I recommend using SEO tools toolbook for this. I built out several pages around my keywords then moved on to finding images that did not have any copyrights associated with them. Of course I was looking for free images since I am on a tight budget therefore, I recommend pixabay.com for this. When that was completed I saved them all in a folder and set up a shopify website. I chose shopify over bigcommerce because of all the additional apps the app market had and how intuitive the platform was. Then I set about building out my pages and installing some apps such as, a pop up email subscriber, persistent cart, linklicious and a custom contact page. I also decided to build a page using an app that pulls in dynamic content from my social profiles as well.

The second step, once the website was live and integrated with my drop shipper was to drive traffic to it. If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound? No it does not therefore, I know SEO is going to be a vital part of my strategy I also decided to run an AdWords campaign and really try to drive traffic from social media to my website as well. I conducted a deeper dive into keyword research and found some terms to bid on that had decent traffic and of course relevant to my niche. I also took my time to write a few different ad copies to a/b test in google adwords which I will begin doing next week. Since I am on a tight budget I have also been making adjustments in adwords every few days. It is important to keep an eye on search terms your ads trigger and be sure to remove negative search terms or keywords that are costing you money but are not yielding any results.

Finally, moving forward along with blogging I am going to build out my static content that will serve as landing pages to drive organic traffic to my website. I conducted yet another round of keyword research and found some interesting keywords to build out content and topics around. The goal here is to go after the “low hanging” fruit or keywords that are not very competitive at first. These may not have a high search volume but will hopefully allow me to gain some traction first while I start trying to build backlinks to my website.

Lineage Clothing website

Not too bad for a first week around 380 page views and 192 sessions. I even had some goal conversions in my sign up and I used mail chimp to reach out to everyone and offer a promotional discount.

It has been an exciting first week and I look forward to what next week brings. Until next time!

Pre Launch of my New Website

lineage_dynamic_content

I have decided to build a new website for my project which happens to be a clothing line catering to a specific niche. I noticed there is a need and not many businesses doing a great job in fulfilling the niche. As I get closer to re-launching my website with new products, new features, and better digital marketing I will regularly blog and post updates about my journey.

My first step was identifying a platform to utilize for my store front one that had a significant app marketplace so I could add powerful features to the website that would support my sales efforts and customer retention. I ultimately decided to use Shopify with their beautiful free and responsive website theme’s I figured it was a good choice. The next step was to conduct keyword research to build content around and begin writing content to publish on my site. Next I continued to get all my image files and finalize product mockups and descriptions.

Now I am in the process of publishing the website and running a highly targeted AdWords campaign on a budget to get short term traffic while I continually work on developing my organic traffic initiatives. I have been regularly posting on my social media platforms to drive traffic to my website when it is officially launched.

Moving forward, I will post regular updates about the test I will be running to optimize my store and turn a profit so stay tuned!

5 Free Search Engine Optimization Tools

Free Search Engine Optimization Tools

 

We have all been in a situation where we need a certain tool to get the job done and may not have the resources to purchase paid tools. These are my top 5 favorite SEO tools to get the job done when you are on a budget or you are free-lancing on a budget.

My top favorite tool is SEO Book because it has a few different programs within it that are pretty awesome. I generally use it to do some preliminarily keyword research for content writing.

SEO_book_overview SEO Book’s keyword research tool is a great starting point if you need to do some quick content research for a client and don’t have a paid plan with Moz or another prominent platform. I have had some pretty good results with SEO Book in the past and I highly recommend it. digital_marketing_search

When you are accessing the tool you get a pretty standard search bar you can begin your research. Unfortunately, this tool is not great for discovering long tail keyword opportunities. However, you can export your results and filter through them and gain some insight into your keywords.

Digital_marketing_QuerySEO Book is nice enough to also suggest other related keywords along with search volume and their relative competitiveness. Then you can export your results into excel and proceed to determine if your website is competitive enough to rank or gain any organic traffic from using them.

My next tool I like to use to get some insight into my competition is SEM Rush. While SEM Rush does have a paid version it does have a pretty neat free option. SEM Rush has a pretty generic search bar to research your keywords from SEO Book and gain some industry insight. Or, if you prefer you can spy on your competition fairly easily for free as well. You get an overview of how many backlinks your competition has, how much organic search traffic they have, along with their top organic keywords they are ranking for.

SEM_competitive_research

SEM Rush also gives you insight into their top paid keywords and their referring domains. This will help you compose a more comprehensive SEO and digital marketing strategy.

My next top free tool I like to use is Epicbeat for content research. Epicbeat has another pretty standard search feature that allows you to conduct some research on keywords and phrases. This free tool gives you an overview of which types of content is gaining traction within your niche or industry.

Epic_beat_overview

This free tool lets you know which social platforms are popular for the topic you are researching and even gives examples of types of high-performing content.

The next tool I like to use is Google’s mobile-friendly test tool. With all the Google algorithm updates, there is a preference being placed on mobile-friendly websites. Google has begun using mobile-friendliness as one of its ranking signals so now more than ever it is important to have a mobile-friendly website.

Google_mobile_friendly_testGoogle’s mobile-friendly test tool will analyze and report if the page conforms to Google’s mobile preference. When performing updates and changes to your website it is important to remember to test the impact of the impact on user experience.

Finally the last tool I like to use for SEO purposes is the Moz bar. The Moz bar will give you quick insights into your clients link metrics, meta data along with Moz’s own PageRank and Domain Authority.

moz_bar.png

There are a plethora of Free tools you can take advantage of for SEO and digital marketing purposes. I recommend doing some extensive research prior to purchasing any paid tool to see if there is any free alternative.

 

Why Display Ads Suck and How Marketers Destroy Everything.

Why Marketers Destroy Everything

 

This is probably a little odd considering I am a digital marketer myself but oh well. The problem I have with advertising is display ads and promotional ads that show up within apps, programs or websites. I know people have to eat and pay bills. I’m ok with that, but the problem comes when I am trying to watch Youtube and I am swarmed by a barrage of pop-up ads that are irrelevant and disrupt what I am doing.

Interruption marketing died a long time ago and it is not an effective means of promoting products. Speaking from personal experience online paid ads are generally very poorly targeted. For example, youtube ads are the worse. I would be curious to see the click through rate or ROI on these ads because I know from personal experience I get hit with a lot of irrelevant video ads that usually has nothing to do with my online searches. According to Smart Insights, the average click-through rate for display ads in April 2015 is .06% which is roughly 1 click per 1000 impressions. While this could potentially be attributed to poor copy writing, imagery and poor targeting but this is still a very low Click Through Rate.

I believe moving forward as marketers we need to have better-targeted ads and conduct better research. We need to learn more about our target audience such as their needs, wants and desires. We need research our markets better and understand their needs moving forward rather than running poorly targeted ads and risk tarnishing their brand.