As if the world of website metrics wasn't confusing enough, Google just went ahead and made a little more confusing.
I was visiting my Google Analytics account for this website and became a little confused. The metric "sessions" kept displaying and I couldn't find my unique visitors. I though maybe I had selected the wrong metric to display, but after some digging I realized it wasn't just me. I did what everyone does now when they have a questions -- I Googled it. I found this post on Search Engine Roundtable noting that Google has made the following changes in its terminology:
Visits = Sessions
Unique Visitors = Users
Yeah. Kind of confusing, huh? You know all those reports you've been keeping for all these years? Yeah, they have to be updated. And you're going to spend extra time searching around to make sure you're getting apples to apples data. And you're probably going to have to write down the above equation on a Post-It and place it on your computer monitor so you don't forget. At least, that's what I'm going to do. So, here's my Post-It. Fee free to print it out:
Want to be at the top of search engine rankings? Then you better start generating some content!
Just what is content? Well, it's what you're reading right now. But it doesn't just have to be words. It could be pictures, or videos or infographics. Content is a blanket word for digital material that people consume online.
And the reason why content is important is that it really helps improve search engine results. The more relevant content you push out through your website and social media channels, the more likely you will be to grab the attention of potential customers. And the more potential customers visit your site, the better your search engine results will be.
So what are you waiting for? Get to producing some content!
Maybe your company has a social media presence, but it's disjointed. Or perhaps, your business has never dabbled in social media. The five steps below will help you get on your way to developing a comprehensive social media marketing plan.
1. Determine your audience. Not all social media channels are created alike. Some are more popular with teenagers, while others are likely to catch a more general demographic. Before you set up a social media account, think about who your customers are and how you would describe them. Are they young? Old? Both? Are they wealthy? Or middle-income? Outline the demographic of your average customer and then review our report, "Know your social media audience," to find which platform fits your audience.
2. Pick your platforms. Once you've identified your audience you can pick the social media platforms you want to focus on. If you are just starting out, it's probably wise to just pick one or two platforms to focus your efforts on.
3. Start promoting your presence on your platforms of choice to build an audience. Now that you've picked your platforms it's time to tell people about it. Send an email blast to all your customers inviting them to find you on the social media platforms you've selected. Have a sign at your cash register inviting people to find you online. Any time you interact with a customer, find ways to promote your social media channels.
4. Create a schedule for posting content on your platforms of choice. Now that you have a social media presence and a following, you have to give that following something to interact with. The best way to guarantee a steady stream of content is to create a schedule. Set a goal, like posting once per week. Create a spreadsheet and identify the topics you are going to post about those days. Try to write up your posts in advance and use tools like HootSuite or Tweetdeck to schedule the posts to publish in advance.
5. Measure and adjust. As soon as you start posting, start measuring. You'll want to track what types of posts are the most popular as well as the times of day when your audience is most engaged. If a social media channel isn't popping within a few months, consider dropping it and focusing your efforts in areas that are showing more promise. There's a ton of data available on most social media platforms. Be sure to use it!
I really like the distinction this blog post makes about owned v. rented online marketing channels. As the post illustrates, your website is the channel you own, while your company's presence on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. are the places you rent space to market your company.
The author makes the point that companies must do both in order to be sucessful, but if you have to choose one over the other, it's better to focus your efforts on the property you own: your website.
While I think that's true -- that you'd want to pick your website over your social media presence -- I think it's becoming increasingly difficult to ignore social media, even for the smallest businesses. A website without a social media presence is kind of like a tree falling in the woods. If there's no one there to hear it, does it make a sound. Social media is how brands get heard today. If you want your company to make a noise, you better have your rented social media channels established.
Michael Wolff had some interesting observations about website traffic for news sites in a piece in USA Today. His basic conceit is that most statistics on traffic are overblown and are in fact probably off by a factor of 100.
I can't comment on whether his math is precisely right, but he does have an important point. There are an awful lot of spiders and bots crawling the web hitting websites and inflating traffic numbers. I imagine we're headed for a day when Google Analytics finds a way to filter out those false pageviews. We'll all feel pretty lousy about ourselves on that day if we see our traffic decline by a factor of 100, but if the numbers are more realistic, we'll be better off.
I'm Christina H. Davis and I'm the founder and owner of Hall Davis Marketing Strategies. Learn more about me on my LinkedIn profile.