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!

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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.

 

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.

How to Utilize Holidays for your Social Media Campaigns and Inspire Engagement!

How to Inspire Engagement on Social Media During Holiday’s and Special Events

The holidays can be a time to make an emotional connection with your audience and social following and inspire engagement on your platforms. This isn’t just limited to holiday’s though, it is important to stay up to date with current and ongoing trends within your niche or industry to capitalize on them. If there is breaking news in your industry be at the forefront and publicize it or use it for content creation in addition to any scheduled content your business intends to push this week. If there are social justice issues occurring around and it’s appropriate for your industry, use that as well to generate content to inspire greater engagement. Just make sure it is tactful and take into consideration of any backlash that may occur.

To put this tactic into action do  some research into your current followers and see what types of content they share. Spend some time researching their profiles and keep an eye out for trends. That doesn’t mean creep on your audience and stalk them be professional but dig deep. Do some secondary research as well utilize Google and see what sort of issues are currently trending within your niche or industry that your audience may be interested in.

Fortunately, there is an awesome tool for this called Klout. Klout will give you notifications into what is popular and trending within your industry so you can save time searching for content. If that isn’t enough buzz sumo also provides some pretty great insight into trending topics you can reshare as well throughout your social platforms. Let’s not forget another great content tool Google! That’s right Google is great for finding meme’s and hunting down other content to share throughout your niche as well. If you’re particularly handy with the adobe creative suite you can make some pretty neat visual content pieces as well.

So how did this work out in my case? Well, let’s take a look.

Sample PostI was at a bit of an advantage as I am a part of the niche group I am currently targeting. I am a Native American and as such I am aware of social issues surrounding headdresses being worn as a decorative pieces. I knew from current news, events and my own personal dislike for headdresses being used as a decorative piece that this post was highly likely to resonate within my social platforms. Of course performance does depend on the social platform you choose to post on as well. I know from previous experience and research that Tumblr is a hotbed for social issues so beginning on that platform was a no brainer.

Roughly after 30 minutes or so of posting my content piece was picked up and shared a number of times. So let’s take a look at how it performed.

Social Shares

The content piece had been picked up and reblogged an astonished 387 times in the course of under a day. This was impressive considering the small following I had. Before even posting the piece I only had roughly 70 or so followers. This is a good tactic to spread your reach and increase engagement across your platforms when used tactfully. It is important to understand your audience prior to utilizing this tactic and be able to anticipate any potential backlash.

How Killer Customer Service can Improve your Business

Customer Service 

Money

I know there is a lot of talk about the importance of customer service and I think people generally take it for granted. Customer service can make a business, turn shoppers away or turn them into loyal consumers. Think back to when you are walking through Harris Teeter and you can not for the life of you find flour to bake with. So you ask an employee where the hell the baking goods are and guess what? Not only will they tell you where it is with a smile they will walk you down the aisle to where the flour is located and make casual conversation. This is great customer service they stop whatever they are doing at the time and help you find what you need so you can get in and out quickly… fairly quickly. I can not say I get the same level of service at a food lion or a Walmart.

It is this level of customer service that allows businesses to charge a higher price, inspire a greater level of customer loyalty or even win over new customers. For example, I recently purchased a domain from godaddy.com and had no intentions of using them for web hosting. I intended on finding a free web hosting platform to host the website I was in the process of building, However when I called them the customer service rep was very professional and friendly. I had a few technical questions he was able to answer quickly and I felt confident if I had any issues I would be able to quickly resolve them through godaddy. The free webhosting site didn’t have the same level of customer service or a 24/7 help desk. I was not comfortable saving money and getting myself in a bad situation as a result of it.

Another great example of customer service is the vape shop I tend to frequent more often than I would like to. The reason why I go out of my way to give them my money is simply put because of their customer service. I dont feel like I am simply making a purchase I feel like I am visiting friends when I walk in. I usually end up spending 15 to 20 minutes in the shop at a time talking to the owner and other workers. This level of customer service keeps me coming back and has turned me into a loyal customer. The loyalty rewards card doesn’t hurt either.

If you are a small business owner strive to have consistent and solid customer service and treat your shoppers like guest. This will give you a competitive advantage that is not easily replicated. In an increasingly competitive and sometimes automated world that human element can sometimes be all it takes to give you that competitive edge.

Finding Your Brand’s Voice.

All too often I see brands and companies not using their target market’s language when they write copy for their website, post to their social media profiles and structure email marketing campaigns etc. It is pretty easy to fall into the trap of speaking too professional or being dry when writing language or other copy for promotional materials. If you havent already be sure to read my other posts about how to set up a killer social media campaign .

A company recently that has gotten this right as far as their social media campaign is concerned happens to be Ihop they have certainly done their research and know how to speak in a language that engages their target audience. As a result they have generated some buzz.

Ihop brand_voice_2

I think brands can learn a lot from Ihop and other companies doing similar thing in the social media realm. A good way to get started is of course to conduct some research into your audience and what they are doing within their social media profiles and the sort of language they use. This can be as simple as using some sort of free social media monitoring tool to see what users are saying about your brand and looking at the language they use.

For example, if you are a law firm you would use more professional language than a skateboard brand. Essentially it is important to speak to your target audience and engage with them appropriately.

 

Six Free Powerful Tools to Scale Your Businesses Social Media Efforts.

Free Social media tools for small business

As a small business owner you probably have a small budget and cannot afford to hire a digital marketing consultant or some of the more premium social media tools for your small business. As a small business owner you typically find yourself fulfilling many roles in the day to day operations of your small business and sometimes your social media strategies and content marketing campaign can take a backseat.

Fortunately, from starting and running a small online business I came across a wide variety of free social media tools perfect for small businesses. These tools will allow you to spend more time devoted towards the core aspects of your business that generate revenue and streamline the more tedious social media or various content marketing tasks.

hootsuite

Hoostuite is a wonderful tool for any bootstrapped time strained small business. This nifty tool will allow you to schedule out all your social media posts in advance on a variety of platforms. Recently Hootsuite integrated Instagram into the mix so no more manually posting in real time anymore. This tool also lets you add various feeds so you can stay up to date on all your social media events as well.

buzz sumo

Buzz Sumo is a great content generation tool. This website lets you type in your topic or keyword query into a search bar and returns some highly shared content within your niche or businesses industry. This is also a good tool for generating inbound links or finding social influencers who can drive more referral traffic to your businesses website. A good way to utilize this tool is to search for highly shared content and schedule posts through hoot suite for maybe a few weeks in advance. This will free up time for other activities such as possibly generating your own unique content or taking care of other activities related to your business.

Iconosquare

Iconosquare is a create Instagram tool. Formerly known as statigram this program allows you to get analytic data on your Instagram account. This tool gives you insight into who your top influencers are within your niche and gives additional insight into how many followers you are losing and notifies you of new followers. This tool also provides notification of interactions on your Instagram profile as well.  Iconosquare is a free to use social media tool which will allow you to manage your Instagram comments while promoting your Instagram community.

follow liker

While not technically a free tool follow liker is a very inexpensive paid social media tool which will allow you to easily scale your businesses social media efforts. This tool is compatible with Pinterest, Instagram, twitter and Tumblr. Follow liker will automate the process of following, unfollowing, share photos, and like photos all based on pre-determined criteria you can designate prior to running the software program. Again, while not technically a free tool this is a very powerful social media tool perfect for small businesses. This tool will quickly allow you to scale your social media community and keep them engaged better.

Klout

Klout is a free social media content management tool. This tool works similar to buzz sumo in the sense you add your twitter profile to the platform and can research content based on a set of keywords and your niche. In addition, klout will also allow you to schedule content directly from their software platform and specify a time and date to publish your content. Klout also calculates its own score it gives you based on your social media engagement. Their platform also provides new fresh trending content daily on their platform which gets rid of the need to spend a lot of time searching the internet looking for content to share.

Trends

Google trends may not technically be a social media tool but it’s a great resource to see what people are searching for and compare various keywords people are searching through Google. This is however a free tool to use and worth utilizing before writing a blog or publishing original content to see what sort of potential impact it may have once it is published.

As a previous small business owner I understand all too well how valuable time is and how important it is to utilize the proper tools to quickly scale your social media community. Social Media is a wonderful tool to effectively promote your brand cost effectively. If you have not already reference back to my previous post on how to craft a social media marketing strategy like a rockstar. Until next time!

4 Social Media Best Practices to Give you an Edge.

Social Media Best Practices

 

Social Media is still a relatively new marketing tool and is often misunderstood and not used properly. Using social media for marketing is still new in the business landscape. Smaller and medium-sized businesses generally do not have the resources to allocate towards social media or cannot justify hiring someone even part time to do it. Even larger organizations do not properly understand how to leverage their social media platforms to yield their full potential and as a result, they come off kind of spammy and alienate their intended audience.

Social Media’s history dates back to 2004 but using social media for marketing was not conceived as a strategy at that time. By 2006, Twitter and Facebook were two new social media sites that became available to users. Eventually, web platforms such as Tumblr, Spotify, Instagram gradually became available to users as well and quickly gained traction.

Generally, small to medium sized businesses have a hard time grasping how to use social media for marketing and tend to stumble along the way. Here are some social media best practices that will give you an edge against your competition.

Hard sales

Social media is not the platform for companies to use hard sales tactics to generate revenue. It seems difficult for businesses to break this habit. We as consumers do not want to be sold to anymore. Social media is a great platform to promote your company and share relevant useful information but not the place for hard sales tactics. Social media for marketing is more useful as building and deepening relationships with that can be leveraged. A best practice for social media is to leverage the technology to nurture relationships and build connections with your audience.

Consolidate  

Another mistake companies make is trying to be on too many social media platforms. It is wonderful to be on a variety of social sites but it would be beneficial to be on a few sites. It is more important to put out strong compelling content rather than trying to be on 5 different platforms and do a mediocre job. Pick one or two platforms in an effort to use social media for marketing rather than trying to be everything to everyone.

Talk less   

It is important for businesses both small and large to realize sometimes it is important to listen more and talk less. One of the main goals of utilizing social media for marketing is to promote a business or service. It is just as important to minimize yourself promotion, at times as well. Just remember the more helpful you are to others the more likely they will be to seek you out for additional information later on. Start asking your customers what they think of your business, why they follow you, what products do they own and you may find out how you can improve your business. A social media best practice is to actively listen to your audience and look for trends among them to leverage for content creation.

You do not need a big budget to appear big  

Sure, companies like Nike, Apple and Coco Cola have a large marketing budget but smaller companies can still leverage social media for marketing to achieve their goals. There is no need to try and keep up with what the big brand are doing. Coupons and giveaways are a great tool to generate engagement and buzz around your brand. Consider developing a promotion and giving away one of your company’s products as a way to drive brand awareness.

In order to do any sort of social media for marketing, there are some important first steps that need to be done for your campaign to be worthwhile.

First, clarify the purpose in starting a social media campaign. It is crucial for an organization or company to understand what they hope to achieve by implementing a social media strategy. I recommend having a brainstorming session with everyone who will be involved. It is also important that everyone is on the same page when the social media campaign does kick off. As a team, it is important to decide whether the campaign will drive brand awareness, generate sales leads or even be used as an inbound marketing strategy.

Next, once everyone who will be involved has decided on the purpose of using social media for marketing the next step is to clarify goals and objectives for the campaign. Like any other marketing strategy, it is important to set clear goals and objectives that can be flexible throughout the campaign. It is important to be flexible and be able to innovate to differentiate yourself from your competition. Some examples of solid goals would be:

  • Drive innovation
  • Create interesting, relevant and shareable content
  • Measure ROI

As a company using social media for marketing, it is important to have achievable, measurable and specific. 

The next step once the goals and objectives of your organization’s social media strategy are addressed it is time to decide which social media platforms to be a part of. Before this step can be done, it is critical to have some sort of understanding of your target audience and what platforms they use if any at all. This could be a great opportunity to utilize your email marketing campaign to ask some questions. Your team can ask what social media platforms your existing customers use. How often they use them and which kind of content they find most engaging. If you ask these important questions, it can save you a lot of headache and time in the beginning. After this step is out of the way as a team pick one or two platforms to utilize at first. If you only have one or two people involved in the social media campaign for your business, it may be necessary to stick to just one channel.

Finally, the last step is to decide on a social media schedule and adhere to it. Mapping out a social media schedule for marketing will allow you to

  • Create consistency with your audience. This is going to allow your audience to know when to expect new content while maximizing your engagement.
  • A social media schedule is also going to allow time to plan for time sensitive content well ahead in the future. This will give you time to develop content for the holidays and other important events.

As an added bonus, there are a variety of free social media tools available to help you scale your efforts. Be sure to do your own research and integrate them into your social media plan.

Keep a balance between promotions and useful engaging content on your social schedule. I hope this is enough to get anyone started on the path to use social media for marketing. In the next post, I will be doing a deeper dive into some of these strategies in my next blog so stay tuned.