Archive for September 2011

Competitive SEO Intelligence: How to Benchmark Rankings Success vs. Your Competition

September 7, 2011

By Ryan Woolley*, Vice President of Client Services, Response Mine Interactive

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you knew how many keywords your competitors rank for, what those exact keywords are, and how your website stacks up against those competitors? It would be even better if you could get some insight into how they are doing it. And what if it didn’t take an SEO guru to get to these answers? What if you could do it right now, spend less than a morning doing it, and spend less money on it than you’ll spend on dinner out this weekend?

If you’re not an SEO guru and want or need these answers, then this article is for you. If you are responsible at any level for the performance of your digital marketing program than I encourage you to take the time to explore the tools and tips referenced here.

One of the first questions I am asked when discussing search engine optimization with a business is “how do I stack up to my competitors?” For those of us who are truly passionate about our business, the questions around competitive landscape are some of the most burning questions that we have. Most don’t realize how easy it is to answer this question as it pertains to organic search.

Let’s begin by defining what “competition” is within organic search. Don’t assume that your organic competition is the same as what you would usually rattle off when someone asks you who your top competitors are. Search engine optimization and the ways in which Google ranks websites has created a much more level playing field than people realize. You don’t have to be the biggest brand, have the largest footprint, or have the largest marketing budget to dominate the natural rankings.

Identify Organic Competitors
Do some investigation when identifying your organic competition. There are two quick ways to do this:

  1. Go straight to the search engine results page (SERP) on Google. Take your top 10 traffic-driving keywords and your top 10 converting keywords, and record the sites that rank ahead of you. A picture will begin to emerge quickly, and you may be surprised by what you find.
  1. Save some time by using www.SEMRush.com. Type your top keywords into the search box. You’ll get the same output as you would by going to the SERP, but you can export the information directly in Excel, which can be very handy. There’s a small fee to utilize some of the exporting features and deeper data dives on this site but the information you can access makes it well worth it.

Benchmark Yourself vs. Competitors
Now it’s time to see how you measure up. We are going to stick with www.SEMRush.com here as well since it gives us some powerful insight that is easy to access.

See what you and your competitors rank for by simply entering your domain into the main search box. Under “Organic keywords” you will be presented with keywords you rank for within the top 20 positions. Click the “Full Report” link and you can export this information into Excel. Do the same for your competitor’s websites and you will have a robust picture of the quantity and exact keywords that you and they rank for.

Compare first page rankings versus your competitors to benchmark yourself. The majority of organic traffic is coming off of the first page of rankings. Also take a look at positions 11 through 15 (which would be at the top of page 2 in the rankings). These are great potential traffic drivers for you. With a little organic focus, these can be moved to page one quickly.

There are some great trending graphs as well. You’ll see a thumbnail of the trending graph off to the left side. Click it to compare your rankings versus the competition over time. Here’s an example:

 

Gain Insight Into How Your Competitors Are Winning
It’s important to note that there are many factors that impact how a website ranks for a given keyword, and this will not be the end-all factor as to why one site is outranking another. However, looking at the number and types of inbound links that a website has pointing to it will help uncover some of the how and why. It will certainly give you enough information to understand if you are running at a deficit, or if you are crushing your competitors.

Like with SEMRush, this is pretty straightforward. Start off by going to www.OpenSiteExplorer.org and click on “Compare Pages.” Add your site URL, and your competitors. Have a look at “External Followed Links.” This is the number of web pages that are linking to you. Also look at “Total Linking Root Domains,” which is the number of unique sites that are linking to you.

Google sees links pointing to your site as a vote of confidence. It values quality, relevance and authority – it’s not just a pure numbers game as to the total number of links. And if you want to understand the relevancy and quality, just click the “Inbound Links” tab to see which sites are linking to you and your competitors. Or click the “Anchor Text” tab to see what words other websites use when they link to you, as they impact your ability to rank for these terms.

Spending just a little time with this information will help give you an understanding of what is happening with off-site aspects that impact you and your competition’s rankings.

So, if you have the itch that your organic program is not up to snuff but are having a difficult time arming yourself with empirical evidence to prove it, you now have some quick and easy tools in your arsenal. While at the end of the day you may need to call in the professionals to conduct a much deeper dive into all of this, you can at least get the ball rolling by being an advocate for improving your organic rankings. Remember, life’s too short for crappy rankings.

*Ryan Woolley is vice president of client services for RMI, an award-winning digital agency that helps companies acquire more customers using lead generation programs. For more than a decade, RMI has generated billions of dollars in revenue for world-renowned brands in the b2b, healthcare, travel, and home services channels using its strategic customer acquisition approaches.

5 Simple Rules for Job Seekers to Avoid a Social Media Pandora’s Box

September 7, 2011

By Sean Jones, VP of Technology & Interactive Media, AIS Media, Inc*.

In today’s job market, both job seekers and employers are increasingly seeking to leverage social media. While candidates use social media to increase their reach, hiring managers are also using social media to screen potential candidates – often prior to an interview. For many candidates, their social media profile can make or break their career.

When used properly, a social media presence can help a candidate stand out from the rest. However, some will never know why they didn’t heard from the company they applied to.  Beer-strewn kitchens, scantily clad co-eds, late night ‘check ins’ or rants on your current employer may all be publically available to potential employers.

Social media, for all its benefit, can be a Pandora’s Box for those who don’t follow 5 simple rules.

1) The Company You Keep
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great resources for social outreach and provide a snapshot view of you and your interests – including your friends, followers and people you follow.  While party, swimsuit or bar pictures may be fun for you and your friends, and potential employer viewing these may question your judgment if your private life is made overly public.  Consider also your groups and interests – a candidate with groups and interest relevant to the career being pursued will most often be viewed as a more viable than the candidate with either no professional groups/interests or whose interests are purely social.

2) Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
Being able to ‘check in’ and share where you are at and what you are doing is a great way to meet up with friends, but be aware of these are often publically available.  Constant check-ins at bars, clubs, etc., particularly through the week and the early hours of the morning can give a potential employer the impression that you party too much or may not be prepared for work the next day.

3) Insider Trading
Every employee is aware of ‘inside’ information about their work place – from corporate politics to business practices to employee complaints.  Facebook status updates, tweets and LinkedIn updates can all be easily seen, and no employer wants to see an employee airing their ‘dirty laundry’ in a public forum.

A potential employer who sees this can only presume that you’d do the same thing at your new job.  Not only might your new employer see this, but potential customers and clients as well, which is a risk most employers simply won’t take.

4) Politics and Religion May Not Be Your Friend
Politics and religion are two areas of conversation best left to close friends, or political candidates.  These topics can be polarizing for potential employers as well as their customers and clients.

While political affiliations, church or religious groups are a common part of many people’s lives, those affiliations are appropriate to bring into the workplace. Considering the continued growth of global business, it pays for companies to watch their Ps and Qs.  Any employer wants their team to work cohesively, and those that may rock the boat too much, could be seen as more trouble than they’re worth.

5) Souring Your Personal Brand
Every post, every tweet, every LinkedIn update has the potential to make or break your social clout and reputation. As more employers screen candidate’s social media profiles, posts that could be considered embarrassing or damaging to an employer can cripple your chances for an interview.

Before you post on a public forum, consider what an employer would think should they see it.  Would it enhance or degrade your image in the eye of an employer? Would you be prepared to discuss the post in an interview? If not, it’s best to avoid posting it publically.

More highly talented and qualified candidates are competing for fewer jobs today. As more companies make use of social media to review potential employees, your online profile has become as important as your credentials.

*AIS Media, Inc. 
3340 Peachtree Road, Suite 750
Atlanta, GA 30326 USA
t: (404) 751-1043 | f: (404) 751-1044
www.aismedia.com

www.youtube.com/AISMedia

 

© Copyright 2011 AIS Media, Inc.

Posting Your Promises

September 7, 2011

by Mike Wittenstein*, Customer Experience Designer | Customer Experience Strategist | Experience Design Firm

Brands that post their promises usually keep them. Their customers hold them to it.

lululemon is a specialty retailer of apparel and equipment for ‘sweaty pursuits’ (think yoga, dance, etc.). The brand depends on its employees to connect with their customers.

The feeling when you walk into the store (I visited the Mall of America location for Retail Customer Experience Executive Summit) is calm and relaxing, organized and vivacious. From the well-arranged merchandise to the brightly colored accents, feng shui design touches, and rolling racks that allow for free yoga classes on Saturday mornings; this store is 100% on brand.

One of the things I liked best was that the company prominently posted its manifesto on-line and its employees’ promises (to themselves) throughout the store.

When people’s work becomes a way to achieve what they’re passionate about, great things can happen–like a great customer experience. When you connect with people on their ‘Why?’ (what’s important and what drives them) instead of only on their ‘What?’ (what you want to sell them), there’s a natural attraction customers feel and an easier connection with employees.

Having a great experience usually means your customers are happy. When your customers are happy, your shareholders get happy too. How do you think lululemon’s shareholders feel about the company’s sales per square foot number coming in at US $1,731, just behind Coach and Tiffany? See the listing here.

Here’s lululemon’s manifesto:

As a direct marketer, you can see what your client sometimes can’t. You are the one who imagines a new campaign from start to finish. Help your clients get the most out of their campaigns by encouraging them to make authentic promises that matter to customers. Next, give them every opportunity to keep those promises—by carefully checking copy, by prototyping offer redemptions, sign-ups, and other processes, and by going to their stores or places of business (offer in hand) to see if one channel knows what the other one is doing!

Direct marketing is the front door to a great experience!

*Mike Wittenstein is a 20+ year marketing veteran with hundreds of assignments under his belt. He knows how to design experiences that win customers’ hearts on the front lines—and earn shareholder approval on the bottom line at the same time.

As a customer experience designer at Storyminers, Mike shops each business as a customer and works in it as an employee. Then, he helps his retail, healthcare, hospitality, and other service clients design the kind of experience their customers will appreciate and rave about.

Mike is the former Global Services e-Visionary at IBM and co-founder of GALILEO, one of the country’s first interactive agencies. He is an honors graduate of the Thunderbird School of Global Management and the University of Florida. He lives in Atlanta, speaks four languages, and travels globally as a speaker, facilitator, designer, and consultant.

Mike Wittenstein

Managing Principal

Storyminers

mike@MikeWittenstein.com

www.MikeWittenstein.com

@MikeWittenstein

+1.770.425.9830

DMA Atlanta Luncheon | Thursday Sept. 15th

September 7, 2011
 

How the iPad is Revolutionizing Business

Richard Warner | Founder, CEO at What’s Up Interactive

In the next three months, Apple is poised to sell 20 million iPads — which is on top of the 30 million the company has already sold. More than 80% of FORTUNE 500 companies are deploying Apple tablets, which in turn, account for 80% of the tablet market.

This month, the Atlanta Chapter of the DMA looks at how iPads and other tablets are poised to revolutionize business.

Using the latest research, What’s Up Interactive CEO Richard Warner will provide an overview of the tablet landscape, including examples of best practices, technological dos and don’ts, how different demographics are using tablets and what trends we’re likely to see in 2012.

Attendees will also receive a White Paper with details on the research.

If purchased by September 9th, tickets are $40 for DMA members and $50 for non-members. Add $10 for tickets purchased September 10thor after.

When: Thursday, September 15, 2011 | 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Where: Maggiano’s-Perimeter 4400 Ashford Dunwoody Rd
Atlanta, GA 30346
Phone: 770-804-3313

Use these links to purchase tickets and learn more about the event.

Registration: https://www.123signup.com/register?id=czxns

More Info: https://www.123signup.com/event?id=czxns

About Our Speaker:
Richard Warner
 is founder and CEO of What’s Up Interactive, an Atlanta based web and video marketing firm whose clients include AT&T, the Georgia Lottery, the Georgia Aquarium, the Coca-Cola Company and Holiday Inn. He is seen frequently as a business commentator on Fox5 WAGA. He spent 30 years as a host and managing editor interviewing CEOs on “Georgia’s Business” on the state’s PBS network. Richard serves on the board of the Henry W. Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia and on the Georgia Film and Video Commission.

Other Information:
About DMA-Atlanta:The Power of Direct.
Relevance. Responsibility. Results.
The Direct Marketing Association of Atlanta is the leading trade association of businesses and nonprofit organizations using and supporting direct marketing tools and techniques. DMA Atlanta advocates industry standards for responsible marketing, promotes relevance as the key to reaching customers and prospects with desirable offers and cutting-edge research, education and networking opportunities to improve results throughout the entire direct marketing process. DMA Atlanta gives members the tools to do their jobs better!

Not a DMA Atlanta MemberJoin Now!

For more information, email us at info@dma-atlanta.com

Want to be a Sponsor? Call Aubyn Thomas at 404-941-6868, or go here for more information.

The DMA Atlanta serves all marketing professionals who understand the time-tested value of direct marketing in all its forms. Improve your business, your career and build your personal network of important people.

Downloads:
september2011luncheon-richardwarner-dma.pdf