Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - July 2013

Welcome to the latest edition of our monthly web search and marketing newsletter.

In the July 2013 edition:

To find out more, please read on below, plus if you want to refer to any items included in previous editions, you can use the category and search tools to the right of the page, or view the monthly archive.

Best regards,
Clive Hawkins

Using Phone Call Tracking

Whether your business is using conversion tracking as part of Google AdWords, or goal tracking in Google Analytics, this type of data is essential to understand where sales or enquiries are coming from, down to the keyword and advert level. However, for any business where most leads may come via a phone call, this is harder to track as the link between the source of the website visitor and the phone call being made is broken. This is where phone call tracking techniques can add more insight and value to an advertiser.

Phone call tracking has been around for many years in different forms, and as the need to track and optimise conversions grows, this technique is becoming another important tool for the advertiser. There are a number of good phone call tracking companies operating in the UK market and they can provide a reasonably low cost way of tracking the source of conversions, whether they come from Google AdWords or any search engine visit, or from any other third party website. Google AdWords also provides a call tracking system in the US and UK.

Call tracking usually works through the addition of some javascript on a website or web page, which identifies the source of a visitor and displays a unique phone number on the website. If the visitor calls the business, that number will track the lead by source, potentially down to individual search term level. Whether the website has their standard phone number displayed in the text or as an image, an alternate number can be displayed depending on where the site visitor come from, although images will need to be changed or adapted to cater for this.

The advertiser will buy a range of phone numbers – usually 1300 or 1800 – to be used for the various advertising sources and displayed on the website. The call tracking company will generate these numbers and track the calls made, including the option of recording the phone conversations, and provide analytics to show which sources have generated the calls. This data can sometimes be imported into a Google Analytics account as well, as a goal source.

One potential issue for advertisers is if they use a memorable number, such as 1300 FLOWER, as call tracking won’t be able to replicate this number and make it so memorable to the user – which can be an issue if the number might be used in a radio advert or on a billboard. The other main question is how many numbers might be needed, as these can be generated as ‘absolute’ (one number for each source) or session based (where a pool of numbers are used and displayed in time segments to identify source). The former method can be very expensive, particularly if there are lot of search terms being used in an AdWords campaign, but is more accurate. However, the latter method should be sufficient for most advertisers.

Although the cost of call tracking isn’t that high, it is an additional cost to include as part of the marketing activity. However, the insights that call tracking can provide is extremely valuable and enables advertisers to see the real cost per lead being generated by source, which will provide a more accurate figure for a Return on Investment calculation. Otherwise, call enquiries will remain a general ‘pool’ of new business leads which can’t be attributed to a source or the advertising spend.

If you’d like to know more about phone call tracking for your marketing campaigns, please get in touch for a discussion.

Best Practice for Guest Blogging

The regular changes that Google’s been making to its search algorithms recently to clamp down on poor quality links or content has started to change the focus of many website’s link building strategies. Outsourcing link building to agencies that use bulk link techniques on dubious sites has never worked that well, but now more than ever, an effective link building program should be focused on ‘relationship building’ rather than simple link building.

One of the popular ways to go about relationship building is by being a guest blogger on a reputable blog. This has always been an incredibly effective means of generating high quality links from popular and relevant web pages, but more recently the over-use and poor implementation of this technique has resulted in many bloggers cringing at inboxes full of poorly written, self-serving pitch requests, and ultimately ignoring the vast majority of would be ‘guest posts’. In the same way that numerous linking request emails started to flood into mailboxes several years ago, the same is now true for guest blog requests, so that a number of blogs are now closing their doors to guest post submissions.

Furthermore, according to Matt Cutts – the head of Google’s webspam team – “Google is willing to take action if they see spammy, or low quality guest blogging…which is basically putting low quality articles with embedded links on that site”. He goes on to say that “article-spinning, or low quality syndication are the areas in which Google are going to take an interest”. You can hear more about his comments in a video here.

Guest blogging still works however, and works well, but it has to be done effectively as genuine relationship building, rather than blatant link building. The links will come by building real relationships with the people running the sites so that a level of trust and respect is developed and the guest blog posts add to the quality and tone of the original blog.

Here are some useful tips on the best practice for guest blogging:

  • #1 Research potential link sources well: Research sources through social media channels, especially Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Seek out high quality blogs and get to know the blog first, before making contact.
  • #2 Don’t be too direct: The first time you contact a blogger, don’t pitch to them – instead, get to know them. If you are targeting a larger blog with multiple writers, then you might want to go by the way of an introduction. Most bloggers are happy to help out people they like with a link, but the only way to get that is to focus on the relationship before the link.
  • #3 Approach through social media: Better yet, skip email altogether for the first contact. Instead, make contact through social channels, where you are much more likely to get a response. Twitter is one of the best social networks for finding and connecting with bloggers and should be the first point of contact. Start by following, then tweet directly to them, but don’t ask for a link on the first tweet.
  • #4 Personalise the pitch: What if you don’t know enough about the blogger to make it personal? Then it’s probably too soon to be pitching for a link! Nothing will get your guest post denied quicker than sending a generic pitch.
  • #5 Offer value: The best way to get what you want is to give something back. The primary value you should be offering is excellent content to the blog, so create valuable, unique content to submit to the blogger. Also, offer to promote and share their content on your social networks, bring technical issues to their attention, such as dead links or broken forms, and leave good quality comments and participate in discussions.
  • #6 Maintain the relationship: Often when guest bloggers manage to get a link placement, they don’t continue the relationship with the blog’s owner. So follow up with the blog owner / editor to see if they have any feedback, positive or otherwise. If your content is good, the blogger will be eager to publish more of your submissions in the future. This is particularly useful for agencies that can leverage these relationships with multiple clients.

As outlined above, the process of guest blogging can be time consuming but should reflect the natural process of relationship building rather than a quick link request. If you would like more information about how guest blogging can improve your relationship building (and links), please contact us now for more details.

Google’s Universal Analytics in Public Beta

In March this year Google announced to all Google Analytics users the option to use Universal Analytics. This offers a new way for businesses to understand the changing, multi-device customer journey through the conversion path, as a typical consumer today uses multiple devices to access the web and interact in many ways with a business. This is likely to become the default system for Google Analytics, so websites have the option to try this for themselves now.

Universal Analytics introduces a set of features that change the way data is collected and organised in a Google Analytics account, so you can get a better understanding of how visitors interact with your organisation. In addition to the standard Google Analytics features, Universal Analytics provides:

  • New data collection methods
  • Simplified feature configuration
  • Custom dimensions & custom metrics
  • Multi-platform tracking.

Therefore some of the benefits of using Universal Analytics to businesses are:

  • Understanding how customers interact with the businesses across many devices and touch-points
  • Gaining insights into the performance of mobile apps
  • Improving lead generation and ROI by incorporating offline and online interactions to help understand which channels drive the best results
  • Improving the speed of a website by reducing client-side demands.

The aim is to change the way that data is collected and organised in the rapidly evolving online world of multiple platforms. Multiple platforms are not just limited to desktop, tablet, phone, but also game consoles, the point of purchase (POP), the shopping trolley, ski lift, billboard and so on.

Many of the benefits promised by Google’s UA hinge on two updates to the platform. Firstly, the ability to get data into UA from any source, and secondly, the shift from tracking visits to tracking visitors. The future of data does indeed seem to be blurring the lines between online and offline, and with these new tools, the hope is to make more sense of it all and to paint a better picture for the brand, the client, or any user’s understanding of the data and trends. Through an understanding of this data, business and individuals can better understand how visitors interact with their business online.

UA is an exciting development that holds significant promise for solving some difficult issues such as multi-device measurement and online/offline integration. Currently, the technology is still new, so more experimentation is needed in order to test UA’s promises in real-world environments. However, new Analytics accounts have the option to use this code, or existing accounts are gradually getting the option to upgrade as UA is being rolled out by Google.

If you would like more details about how the use of Google’s Universal Analytics can help your business, contact us now.

We hope you've found this month's newsletter useful. Please contact us if you need any more details on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions.