Google

Fun with Keywords

If you’ve ever done a Google or any type of online search before, you may have encountered something similar to the above post. How does Google generate these suggestions? According to Search Engine Land, there are a few components. These include overall searches (things people around the world have typed in), your own search history, and regional suggestions.

So, Google and other search engines have methods for anticipating what people are looking for and delivering relevant results.

How do you get your website to show up in searches? That’s where SEO and keyword research comes in. According to Techopedia, a keyword “is a particular word or phrase that describes the contents of a Web page.” Having the right keywords on your website helps get your material to the right people when they search for certain words/phrases. How do you know if your words/phrases are “right”? There are a few pieces to that puzzle.

One part, which may seem like common sense, is that you want keywords that match the content on your website. For instance, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to use “Barnum & Bailey Circus” on our Breaking Even Contact page. It’s not accurate and probably won’t get us any traffic. (Spammers tend to use popular words to get traffic to their spammy sites so search engines will penalize you for what they consider a mismatch between what you say is on your website and what is actually there.)

Once you determine what’s relevant, another piece of a “right” keyword is what your target audience/people who are interested in what you’re offering. Just because you think people are using certain search words doesn’t necessarily mean they are actually using those words. A lot of times, business owners have more industry knowledge and might assume others are using more jargon-y terms to reach their website. To reconcile these potential discrepancies, keyword research comes in, and that’s where things can get a bit…silly.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of doing keyword research using a website called SEO Profiler. This is a paid service that has several tools, including keyword research. The keyword suggestion tool lets you type in a word or phrase, and then suggests other search terms based on number of local searches (based on an area you pick out, ‘local’ for us is United States) and  competition (how many other websites are using the keyword). One of the more interesting words that I discovered was ‘whales.’

The results for ‘whales’ was very similar to some of the aforementioned Google autofill fails. Since SEO Profiler (and other keyword research tools) are basing their information on what people are searching for, this yields some pretty interesting results. My top 10 (there were HUNDREDS of hilarious results):

  1. Prince of Whales
  2. Whales the country
  3. Why do whales beach themselves
  4. Whales with legs
  5. Blackfish
  6. Why is a humpback whale called a humpback whale
  7. Do whales fart
  8. Do killer whales kill
  9. Can whales drown
  10. whales tale (<–apparently this is a water park in New England)

So, when you’re thinking about keywords, remember: relevance (is it on your website and a phrase people are actually searching), accuracy (is it what your people are searching for), and value (are people looking to ‘buy’ what you are selling when looking up that word).

The fun factor was one of the pleasant surprises to be found in keyword research, but entirely optional.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Facebook Live: What We’ve Learned So Far

I’ve been on the whole video marketing bandwagon for at least six years. Even in its infancy, I had an introductory (terrible) video on the Breaking Even site so people could get to know me. Circa 2010 ya’ll:

(Wow, that was painful… but how awesome was my lime green kitchen? I mean really.)

I did videos sporadically but talking at a camera by yourself, well, it’s not very interesting (no matter how informative the material).

When Kassie started working here threeish years ago and she was also not opposed to doing video, we had a weekly Google Hangout for about a year. Since it was live, we stuck to a schedule- Thursdays at 10 a.m.- to take out any guesswork for our fans.

Here’s an example of how many people watched us:

googlehangoutlifetimestats

99 times. Ever. Like in the video’s entire life.

At first, I took it that people didn’t want to watch us. (Leave it to Self Deprecating Nicole to take it personally right away initially.)… Until I thought about it and realized 1) Not many people are generally using Google+ and 2) Our target customers tend to be not on this network anyway, and if they are, they most likely aren’t “on” it frequently enough to watch videos.

When Periscope (live video tied to Twitter) came out, we got a bit more popular:

periscopestat

(I get that this is only 50 viewers compared to the 99 on Youtube but this was 1) way less promoted and 2) only available on mobile- while the other one is available everywhere so despite the number being smaller, I think it’s more impressive.)

But still, while we do have more of a Twitter following, our active people tend to be on Facebook and Pinterest the most.

So when Facebook Live came out, I was excited to be able to do the live video thing in front of our intended audience… though I am happy we got other practice first.

facebookliveinsights

Top two posts are video posts, bottom two are popular photos. As you see, people LOVE the video.

While the videos did get a lot of love, you may ask yourself, “OK Nicole but did anyone watch them?” An excellent question:

facebooklivedeepstats

Ok so 7% of people (Alison King and maybe two other people) watched all the way through. And 62 our of the 124 video views only watched it for ten seconds.

Now this begs the question: does it MATTER if people watch the video? Or do you just want them to like, comment on, or share your post so more people see stuff from your business in a general way?

The answer in, my case, is both. Kassie and I thought about what we wanted to talk about but we didn’t work hard on scripting it (you see the stats of people watching it and probably get why). We come up with a few ideas that we think are interesting and will have value for viewers, but there’s nothing rehearsed about these recent videos.

What we can find the most compelling about Facebook Live (besides the fact that people actually seem interested in it), is that according to my sources, it is less expensive to ‘boost’ (re: paid advertise) a Facebook Live video then other kinds of Facebook posts.

So whether you are looking at this from a building relationships perspective, from a ‘viral content’ perspective, or cheaper advertising vehicle perspective, Facebook Live is something to watch and something we plan on continuing to experiment with. You can check out our live videos on our Facebook page, or check out this collection of 7 early Facebook Live experimenters (all brands) to get inspired for your own debut, should you choose!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Google+ Communities

gettingingoodwithgoogle-buttonIn an effort to make Google+ a more “social” network, Communities were formed in 2013.

Communities are similar to Facebook or LinkedIn Groups: they are organized by topics or general interests. From a marketing perspective, Google+ Communities are an underutilized tool for starting and participating in conversations that matter.

What are the benefits of being an active community member on Google?

One thing I’ve noticed about Communities is the global exposure. When you look at any given page, it’s unusual not to see at least one post in a foreign language that isn’t spam). It’s an interesting reminder that social media is far-reaching and that we really do have a unique opportunity in front of us.

Wait a second, my business doesn’t need to market globally. True, but the point of a community isn’t to sell- it’s to exchange information.  This article from Social Media Examiner suggests “As you discover communities where your target market is located, join them and listen in on what they are saying.” In doing so, you discover what your target market has to say about your industry. There may be trends in questions or concerns, which makes great blog post or newsletter material. In other words, it’s a chance for you to research potential customers, and even help them out from time to time.

By contributing to conversations that are related to your industry, you show others that you’re knowledgeable and ideally trustworthy/helpful. Occasionally this does translate into sharing your own material if it’s relevant and can help solve a problem. For instance, if someone posts a question asking about finding the right hashtag for a Twitter post, I could respond with a link to this blog post on that very subject.

googlecommunitiesexample

A screenshot of Communities that Google thinks I would enjoy. This is just a small slice of the topics available- you can even join one of several communities about Grumpy Cat.

What if the community you want/need doesn’t exist?

If you want to start your own community, the steps are pretty straightforward. You get to set up the rules and facilitate conversations among community members, but aside from that, it’s relatively hands-off.

Below is an example from The Marketing+ Community Page is full of people sharing articles and other helpful information about social media marketing (new features, tips they have found to be helpful, etc).

When you set up a community, you have a few decisions to make. Will it be public or private? If it’s private, will it still appear in searches? What are the rules for participating in this community? The description and rules will be displayed on the left sidebar of the community page.

exampleabout

You can post in your own community from time to time to start a conversation (if you have some questions for followers, this is a great way to get them answered), but the ultimate goal is to create a community built around user-generated content. Below is an example post from the Marketing+ Community from KeyMedia Solutions. You may notice that this is an article from their own website, but a) it’s relevant to other community members and b) isn’t overtly selling anything.

examplepost

Communities are another one of those online resources that may inspire new ideas or ways to connect with your businesses. You may also forge some new connections with people you would never have met without this tool. Whether you decide to use communities for business or for fun, they’re unique educational and networking opportunities.

grumpycatcommunity

And, just for fun…here’s Grumpy Cat.

If reading this has made you realize you need help with Google+, click below to learn about a service we think may be a great way for you and your business to start on Google+:

giwg_more

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

How to Get Theyuh from Heyuh: Making Sure Customers Can Find You

My friends and family already know this about me, but I’m a bit of a disaster when it comes to navigation. Getting lost is part of my routine at this point, but there are a few occasions where the process turns from “Aw shucks, I’ve done it again” to “I’m late, cold, hungry, and utterly lost. This is no longer funny.” As a business, when you’re trying to direct traffic to your store (online or offline), the last thing you want to do is lose customers. I mean really lose them. As an authority on getting lost, here’s a guide on how to not lose customers (and people like me).

For online businesses/anyone with a website

Check Website Links: Have you ever clicked on a link in a website, expecting to go to a particular page, only to be taken somewhere totally different? No, I don’t want to see men’s watches, I wanted to find that pair of boots…Usually this is an honest linking mistake (other times it’s intentional and shady), but it’s still frustrating from a potential customer standpoint. They might feel a bit misled and betrayed (ok, that’s a little strong, but you get my point). When linking content on your website, check and double check that things are taking you where you’re supposed to go.

Check Website Navigation: Linked to that idea (…heh), does your website’s internal navigation make sense? Meaning, if a person were to start on your homepage, will it be easy for them to get from A to B, or even C and D? Menus and sidebars are your friends here. Speaking of friends, if you need an outside opinion or second set of eyes on your work, ask a friend to go through the ordering process (or whatever it is you need help with). Everyone’s brain works differently, so just because something is laid out in a way that makes sense to you, it may still be confusing for visitors.

For businesses with a website & physical location

Embed a Map: Most business websites have a map embedded somewhere on their site- if not on the homepage, then it’s usually on a Contact/Directions page. Google maps makes it easy to create and embed a map on your website. It’s free, and all you need is a Google account.

embedmap

Directions and Pictures: A map is a fantastic starting point, but you can also take things a step further and offer written directions somewhere on your website (we have them on ours). If you’re part of a larger group of buildings, have a weird entrance, or a tricky parking situation, adding these directions will help people make it through the home stretch. Displaying pictures of your storefront/office (exterior, interior, whatever you think will be most helpful) means that when people actually get to your business, they’ll have a vague sense of familiarity. It may seem a bit hand-holdy

writtendirections

Directions in writing…

...and a picture of the building!

…and a picture of the building!

 

Make sure the address is correct in other places: Remember Apple maps? They were useless as a resource because they said they were taking you somewhere, but you always ended up somewhere else. Well, if your business is listed incorrectly on Google (or another online service), you’re setting customers up for a similar ride. If your business has moved, or you’re opening a new business in an old business’s location, take a few minutes to look at the Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, or other places the address may be listed online and make sure the information is up to date. Our friend Jim Leclair helps businesses do this, so if you have any questions about data maps, he’s the man to talk to!

 

Don’t lose a potential customer on the way from A to B, leading them down a rabbit hole into an Alice in Wonderland type adventure when they just wanted to buy shoes (…it happens to the best of us). Make sure the path is clear for people to reach you on and off line!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Get Found 2016

This is the best picture Nicole took at Get Found. She is adding it to this blog post to show that no one physically fell asleep during the event.

This is the best picture Nicole took at Get Found. She is adding it to this blog post to show that no one physically fell asleep during the event.

On January 15th, we hosted our first workshop of the year with Jim LeClair of Smart Data Map Services right here at Anchorspace, the coworking space we work out of.

We had an impressive turnout, even after capping the registration early (thanks to everyone for being awesome and getting a bit cozier than we anticipated).

For those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s what the event was all about (unfortunately, we don’t have any of Nicole’s so-called ugly but very delicious cookies left to share with you…)

What is GYBO? 

“Get Your Business Online” is an initiative from Google to help small businesses succeed on the internet (which is also what we do!).

It’s geared toward small businesses to encourage them to get listed on Google with updated information, which will in turn direct more people to their business location, website, or both. You’re probably familiar with Google as a search tool generally, and won’t be surprised that it’s the most commonly used search engine. When people use Google to search for your business, you want to make sure your information (like hours and location) are correct. The easiest way to do this is to create a Google Business listing (oh, and it’s free!).

To help with this set up process, Google works with partners (like our friend Colin at Root Deeper Marketing), which gave Nicole the idea for this event. Jim LeClair agreed to join and discuss some of what he does with mapping for businesses to make the agenda a bit more interesting, and Get Found 2016 was born.

schwag

The Presentations

Jim talked Data Maps. Most of us rely on some form of GPS system for directions, and it’s a little bit frustrating for businesses and customers when an address is incorrectly listed on these maps. That’s where Jim comes in. Jim’s presentation shared the importance of having an accurate address associated with your business listing on Google (and other services). Two important takeaways: 1) filling out as much information as possible in any listing can only help you and 2) many business are identified by phone number so having separate numbers for separate businesses makes sense. For more information about data mapping and Jim’s business, check out his website.

Nicole talks Google+. As far as social media platforms go, Google+ is pretty underrated. No one ever comes to us saying “Hey, our business really wants to get active on Google+, can you help?” (usually they ask about Facebook). Nicole gave a presentation about Google+ for Businesses, explaining the benefits for business marketing and some examples of the different types of content to share. You can watch Nicole’s full presentation here.

What Can You Do?

Even if you missed the event, or don’t have a business to list on Google, there are a couple ways you can show support for area businesses.

  1. Leave a review on their Google+ page.

writereview

2. This is a fun tool we found while preparing for Get Found 2016.  It’s an online tool from Google that creates a postcard based on your 3 favorite businesses that you select, and then you can share on social media. You can create yours here (Note: this link is set to Bar Harbor businesses, but you can pick any town you want!).

spreadbhlove

Want to get your business listed on Google, but aren’t sure where to start? Check out our latest offering here!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Don’t Be Afraid of Google Changes

I got no short of 50 emails in the last two weeks asking me the same question:

clientafraidofgooglechange

Fear mongering much?

Some of you may be wondering ‘Why now?’ Well, Google changed it’s algorithm April 21. Some called it ‘Mobilegeddon’ which is something that would make many people 1) pay attention and 2) freak out.

The link above is to an entire archive of Google’s changes. Yes, Google changes. several times in one year (at least 6 times a year according to that link). But a few things to keep in mind when dealing with this (or other) changes from The Google:

1) Dealing with a neg artist is not really fun.

If you get an email out of the blue from someone you barely know (or even better, someone you don’t) negging your website, this means you are dealing with a certified d-bag.

Negging is a term I am borrowing from the pickup artist world. It means when you subtly (or not so subtly) insult someone as a way to get their attention and bring down their confidence a bit. This guy will tell you all about it. (Note comments disabled on the video, wonder why.)

Don’t let the web guru equivalent of this dude insult your website. It’s not their place to give you feedback. When you are ready for feedback, a website person you trust will happily (and nicely) give you constructive advice when asked.

Negging in the dating world works on insecure people. Someone negging your website will only work if you are insecure about your website, which brings me to…

2) Coming to decisions from fear and lack of information ensures they won’t be good ones.

Take some time to understand about this Google change if you are concerned about it. Moz and other trusted search engine specializing websites and blogs will have information when Google does a shift: http://moz.com/blog/day-after-mobilegeddon (Nicole summary: Um, the world didn’t end. At all. There was a bit of an uptick though in traffic for mobile-friendly sites.)

My point is don’t listen to some random person emailing you to scare you. Do research and understand the change as much as you can, so you can make the best decision for you and evaluate the advice you are geting.

3) Your customers AND Google want you to have a mobile friendly site.

If you look at your website data, you can see mobile versus non-mobile user behavior. Not just percentage of people who come to your website but how long do mobile visitors stay? What information do they look at? What device are they on? etc.

So Google is now giving some juice to sites that are mobile friendly. OK but guess what? Your customers also want you to have a mobile friendly website so if you are going to make the change, do it for them too.

4) You aren’t just relying on Google to get people to your website.

The people I meet who truly panic about changes like Google made a couple weeks ago are those who only rely on Google traffic for their customers. When you go from the #1 ranked, say, coffee mug dealer to #3 in Google and you ONLY get customers from Google search, of course you’ll panic as a Google change, however small, means less dollars in your pocket.

But most of you have multiple ways you reach your customers online. You do social media. You have an email list. You do paid ad listings occasionally. You have a blog on your website. You crosspromote stuff with your online friends.

In other words, the faucet is not ever being completely shut off for you because you smartly are NOT putting all your eggs in one basket.

5) Do your thing, don’t care if they like it. -Tina Fey

I know a lot of people make a game of ‘tricking’ Google. Oh hyperlinked keywords are now being more heavily weighted? Let’s go through all 1,100+ blog posts we have and change all the link text we have.

Um no.

In general, just follow the rules Google has always says it wants you to follow and you’ll be fine. If one year, Google decides to prefer search engine friendly links higher to, say, h1 tags, you don’t have to worry because you’re doing both!

Common sense stuff to do (for Google and the people who visit your website):

1) Have words people are searching for on your website.

2) Use tools like bolding and larger fonts for more important concepts.

3) Have search engine friendly URLs (ex: breakingeveninc.com/about versus breakingeveninc.com/p=1967)

4) Name photos and use alt text/captions to describe what is in the photos.

5) Make sure your website loads fast. Here are some tools if you need to check.

Things spam websites do (to make sure you aren’t doing them):

1) Use content that has appeared elsewhere before. (A lot of spammers copy content from other websites and put it on theirs.)

2) Pretending your website is about X topic when it is really about Y topic. (Anything deceptive really.)

3) Ads all over the place.

4) Use so many keywords and phrases that it sounds like your robot wrote your website.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.
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