About Me

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I'm a digital marketer, programmer and entrepreneur based in Dexter, MI.  I've worked in the digital marketing and web development field for close to a decade.  Over the course of my career, I've become adept at areas of digital marketing such as programmatic advertising, SEO, email marketing, inbound marketing,  promoting businesses through social media.


I currently serve as Director of Marketing for Rankings.io, an SEO agency based in Southern Illinois.  We help attorneys, medical professionals, and small businesses rank their websites on the first page of Google.  Our core services include onsite and offsite SEO as well as website design and programming.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Facebook changes the way you add applications to your business page.

Facebook has once again changed the way its doing things. This time it involves setting up an application. Because applications are basically a web page displayed from within Facebook, it is easy to create interactive landing pages for your business page. It used to be that you created a new app from within the developer home page. Once all your settings were how you wanted them, you simply visited the “app profile page” and clicked the link in the left column that read “add to my Page”. Now things aren’t as easy.

There is however a pretty simple work around if your purpose for creating an app is to add a landing page to your business or other profile.

Fundamental changes

Facebook now has a new way of adding an application to your page. It requires embedding code that generates a popup window allowing you to add the application to your page. Build a new application just as you would before, aspects of this process have not changed.

This work around outlines how to add an application to your page if you are hosting your own application. Create a new HTML document and insert the following code in a anchor tag.

https://www.facebook.com/dialog/pagetab?app_id=YOUR_APP_ID=popup&next=YOUR_APP_URL


Insert your applications ID number along with the URL where it is hosted. Paste the code into your new HTML document in the form of a link. You can put what ever text you want into the anchor tag but you must put something otherwise you will not be able to see the link on the new page. Upload your newly created HTML file onto your server and visit the URL. Click the link and this is what you should see.



Select the page or pages you wish to add your application to. The “add to page” button should appear in the lower right hand corner of your screen. Visit the page you added the app to in order to see if you were successful.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Developing Facebook Applications for Your Company Fan Page

Developing an application on Facebook’s platform is a great way to add functionality and customized content to your company page. If you are familiar with coding languages you already have half the work done. Applications on Facebook for the most part are simply web pages hosted from within the site. Aside from some style constraints, most any HTML, CSS, Java, PHP and other languages can be displayed from within your company page using Facebook Applications. Perhaps one of the easiest applications to develop is a landing page for your brand. Check out this one developed for Malloy Incorporated in Ann Arbor (now Edwards Brothers Malloy).



Simply log into your Facebook account and then visit Facebook.com/developer. On the developer home page click “create a new app” in the upper right hand corner. You will be prompted to enter an app display and namespace. These can be whatever you want and can be modified later. Once your new app has been generated you can add a profile image and icon (which later will appear next to your app tab when added to your page). If you are hosting to code for your app on a server you have access too, you will not need to fill out information related to the Cloud server. If not, you can host your code on a third party hosting service provided through Facebook.



Enter your Canvas and secure canvas URL’s under “App on Facebook”. Your canvas URL is the location where your app (HTML, PHP, CSS and/or other documents) are stored. For example http://www.yourserver.com/yourappdocuments.htm. The secure URL should be the same except an S should be added after the http. You must add either a backslash or a question mark after your URL for it to work.


Next create a tab for your app. This will allow it to show up in the right column underneath your profile picture once the app has been added to your company page. The URL’s for the tab should be the same as for the Canvas fields. Once you are finished click the save button.

Adding your app to your page

In the left column there is a link that says “View App Profile Page”. Click it and once on your app’s profile page, there is a link in the left column that says “add to my page”. A list of pages (or apps) that you administer should appear in a popup window. Select the page you would like to add the app to. Go to your page and you should see the new tab in the left column.




Programming note

Displaying an app on your fan page is akin to displaying a web page from within another web page. There are a variety of constraints in terms of style that must be adhered to for all your content to appear. For instance the width of your content should not be greater than 500 to 510 pixels. The height of your content should not be greater than 800 pixels. Further, by default Facebook will produce scroll bars regardless of whether your content will fit into the allotted space. To eliminate these simply use the CSS property “overflow” with a value of “hidden”. This should eliminate both horizontal and vertical scroll bars. You must also modify the settings of your application from the “edit app” page within Facebook developer. Under “settings” and “advanced” scroll down to “Canvas settings”. Here set the Canvas width and height to “fixed” and “settable” respectively.


Adding a customized app to your company page allows you to engage your fans much more effectively. You can add links, images, calls to action, and once you get good at it, you can develop tools that visitors will find useful or fan-gate your page to generate more "likes".

Facebook applications can be used for a lot of different businesses and for all kinds of different uses.  Whether you're an accountant or an RV Dealer, you can find some way to leverage Facebook's developer tools to market your business online.

Happy developing!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Malloy Incorporated launches into social media!

Over the past few days we have been preparing for the launch of the Malloy Incorporated (now Edwards Brothers Malloy) social media and web marketing campaign. I have created a presence for the company on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and of course a blog that is central to the overall effort. The tools that we have at our disposal are amazing in terms of watching the campaign unfold in real time.






Real time data

As part of the effort, an email blast was designed to draw attention to Malloy’s new web presence. This included a carefully crafted email message with links to our social media accounts and blog. The message was sent to over 3,400 Malloy customers using Constant Contact, a contact and email campaign management service. This is one of my first times using Constant Contact and I have to say that I am quite pleased with the functionality and features of the program. It delivers statistics such as bounce rate, spam reports, opt-outs, opens and click-through rates. You can also see the exact recipients that clicked on links in your email as well as those that just opened it.

Initial stats

This campaign launched at 8:34 am on November 4th (this morning) and we already have a stellar 7.7% CTR. It is so neat to see the correlation among people liking the Facebook page or following Malloy on Twitter and the statistics within Constant Contact.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Get Your Facebook Timeline Early!

If you are interested in activating timeline for Facebook on your account before the release date on October 9th, follow the steps below. You should note that these changes will not be live for your friends to see until the official change over. Only other developers and you will be able to see the changes but it is a good chance to customize your timeline before your friends do!


  • Visit https://developers.facebook.com/ to get started. If you do not have a developer account you can set one up easily.
  • Once you are ready to go, click the “create new app” button in the top right hand corner of the page.
  • You will be prompted to enter a name for your app (it doesn’t matter what you call it) as well as a namespace. The namespace value also does not matter however you can only enter letters or an error will appear and you will not be able to proceed.
  • Once you have done these two things, click on “open graph” in the left column.
    Enter “watch” in the first text box on the screen and “video” in the second.
  • Click “get started”
  • On the page that appears, scroll to the bottom and click “save changes”.
  • Go to your home page on Facebook and you should see an invitation to tour your timeline, make changes or publish it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Get phones to start ringing, and others to stop

As I begin piecing together a strategy for Malloy to gain a more consistent and visible web presence, I’m finding that there is a lot of work to undo. Some ancillary projects that I have been working on include creating business listings in the digital space. Google places and Bing business listings just to name a couple.

In my quest to get exposure for the company in these channels, I was required to verify that I was a genuine representative or owner of the company. Anyone who has set up an account through these search engines or other online entities knows what I’m talking about but for the lay person, this involves a phone call to or from the entity that you are listing with or entering some type of verification code on the site. In Google and Bing’s case, you can either get verified by phone or request to have a post card sent to you by mail that has a pin code in it.

If you have ever tried to set up listings at some of the less popular business listing sites such as Manta.com, Local.com or similar sites, you probably ascertained that the information contained in such listings should be somewhat consistent if not exactly the same as every other listing you have. The problem I ran into is that there were multiple listings, dozens and dozens in fact, that had out-dated or inaccurate information about Malloy. Specifically there was one phone number that seemed to appear on every defunct listing that called directly into Paper Receiving where no one answered the phone if it was an outside call.

The problem became apparent when I tried to verify the Google Places account and the phone number Google already had on file for Malloy called into that department. When I talked to the person on duty there, he claimed that the phone rings all the time from the outside and they just never answered it. After searching with the company name with that phone number in the query, I discovered the multitude of listings with that phone number on random sites like b2byellowpages.com and cityclique.com. Some listings had no options to delete or modify the information without paying for a membership. I have had some success with contacting these entities and requesting that the inaccurate or outdated information be removed but it is proving to be a larger issue than I first anticipated.

Needless to say it is somewhat easy to get your business line ringing with these online listings but substantially more difficult to get an inaccurate or misrouted phone number to stop receiving calls.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tracking Submit Button Within A Joomla! Form

Tracking events and pageviews in Google Analytics is a great feature that allows you to identify when visitors are performing an action. The _trackEvent() function specifically is a very versatile piece of code that can be applied to elements where a pageview is not generated such when a visitor plays a video, listens to a sound bite, or clicks a submit button.

Installing the code can differ from scenario to scenario. For instance placement of the JavaScript tracking code is different when placing it on a link as opposed to placing it on a submit button. The following example outlines how to install the _trackEvent() function on a generic contact form that is normally installed from within the Joomla! interface.

Joomla! is a great content management system that allows users to build and manage a website with almost no programming knowledge. For programmers though, it can make you feel like a fish out of water. When a form is installed on a website from within Joomla!, it is commonly done with the Blue Flame Forms feature found under the components tab. Elements of the form such as text boxes, drop down menus, text areas and buttons can easily be added and rearranged. When it comes to installing code to track a button click this feature is of no help.

To install the _trackEvent() function on a Joomla! form, you must have access to the files of your Joomla! website through an FTP program. In this example I used Filezilla.

The document you must install the code on is named default.php and is located at the end of the path joomla\components\com_contact\views\contact\tmpl. The components folder may be within a couple other folders first but with only a little digging it is not too difficult to find.





Drag default.php over to your computer or some other location where you can open it. Using HTML editing software (I used Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2008) open the file. You will need to find the line of code pictured below. It should be on line 20 of the code or somewhere around there.



    <form action="<?php echo JRoute::_('index.php') ?>" method="post" name="selectForm" id="selectForm">
    <?php echo JText::_( 'Select Contact' ); ?>:
    <br />
    <?php echo JHTML::_('select.genericlist', $this->contacts, 'contact_id', 'class="inputbox"
    onchange="this.form.submit()"', 'id', 'name', $this->contact->id);?>
    <input type="hidden" name="option" value="com_contact" />
    </form>



Once you have located the code snippet, insert your _trackEvent() function. This data model is very versatile because you can assign different values that map directly into Google Analytics event tracking reports. For Google’s example of the code click here. For this scenario I only filled out the required fields which are “categories” and “action”. The code snippet looks like this.


onSubmit="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'contact-form','submit']);"



Once installed in default.php, the new snippet within the document should look like this.



    <form action="<?php echo JRoute::_('index.php') ?>" method="post" name="selectForm" id="selectForm"
    onsubmit="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'contact-form','submit']);">
    <?php echo JText::_( 'Select Contact' ); ?>:
    <br />
    <?php echo JHTML::_('select.genericlist', $this->contacts, 'contact_id', 'class="inputbox"
    onchange="this.form.submit()"', 'id', 'name', $this->contact->id);?>
    <input type="hidden" name="option" value="com_contact" />
    </form>


Once it is installed, save your document and upload it to your server through the FTP program. Do some testing to see if your code is working. It is incredibly easy to leave out a seemingly minimal piece of information such as a quotation mark or an angle bracket which will cause the code to not work.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Where do I get my Backlinks?

Backlinking for SEO is still one of the most popular methods for obtaining higher positions in SERP’s. What in the heck did I just say? SERP’s or search engine results pages, are simply the pages returned after a person types a search term or phrase into a text box and clicks search. The position that websites have on those pages is determined by a multitude of differing factors. The way the site is built, the relevance of the content to the user’s search query, the length of the URL, the content contained in meta tags and of course, backlinks among other factors. Backlinks are simply links on other websites that lead to yours. Just having a lot of sites linking to your website however is not enough to get a higher page rank. The sites linking to yours must be reputable or in some way important in the eyes of the search engine.

Ranking higher on these pages is less of a science and more of an art form. Backlinking is one of the best ways to get your site to appear as popular in the eyes of search engines and hence, get you more exposure. Once charged with the task of obtaining backlinks however, you may quickly realize that it isn’t as easy as installing links on your own site. You cannot just whip out an anchor tag and plop in a URL. Getting other entities to link to your site is the equivalent of getting them to put promotional fliers on their receptionist’s desk or to hang posters in their storefront windows. Some people may cringe when asked to do it. Or, they may be happy to do it but getting them to actually walk over and hang the sign as well as keep it up for an extended period of time is tricky.



  • Start with who you know

    The best place to start on finding other websites to link to yours is to look at who you are already affiliated with. If you have been in business for a while and have a good reputation, chances are you will not have to look far for customers, suppliers, industry trade groups, business associations and other entities that know you and your business. The first and probably best tactic to be employed for obtaining a backlink is to simply ask. Contacting entities, businesses and/or applicable customers and asking for them to link to your site may bear more fruit than you think. Of course it may take some concerted effort and perhaps more than one phone call or email to get them or their IT department on the ball. These are some of the best places to look for backlink opportunities because these groups already have a relationship with your company and putting a link on their site to yours is probably not the most valuable or difficult-to-do favor you have asked them for.


  • Link other web properties

    If you are looking into SEO in the first place, I’ll bet you are also hard at work developing a web presence. Claiming profiles for your company on social networks, business listing websites and other web properties is a great way to get more exposure for your business. Linking these profiles and listings to your main website will also count toward your backlink tally. While you may not be able to add dozens of backlinks with this tactic, every little bit helps. Just claiming profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and its various products as well as Yahoo and Bing gives you tons of opportunity to link to your site from other accounts that will count as votes for you or your company’s main website.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Obsessed with Analytics

I use the website tracking platform Google Analytics on a daily basis for my jobs as well as for my personal web marketing blog. I sort have become obsessed with tracking the different web properties that I am involved with. For instance my wife and I (mostly my wife) set up a blog about 4 years ago centered on our daughter who was born with metatropic dysplasia, a rare form of dwarfism. About a week ago I got the itch to start tracking the site to see who was viewing it. The first 10 days of data are very intriguing.

We have received visitors from the following countries

  • U.S. (states include New Jersey, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Arizona, California, New York, Michigan and North Carolina)


  • Poland


  • Cyprus


  • Germany


  • United Kingdom


  • Italy



The bounce rate for the site (percentage of users that leave after viewing only one page) is low for a blog at around 60%. Bounce rates are notoriously high for websites like blogs because most of the content is found on the home page and users read more of it simply by scrolling down. This is in contrast to traditional sites that have a home page with some introductory content but the actual “meat” of the site is found on other pages.

Keywords

The most used keyword was metatropic dysplasia however there were other phrases that people typed in to find the blog on Google including “lpa convention shoes off”, “”wears a brace” kyphosis”, “apple jacks”(whatever that meant), “and metatropic dysplasia dwarfism”. Most visitors found the site using the google search engine while others visited directly.

Other metrics that can be measured in terms of how people found the site include referring sites and other search engines however we don’t have enough data yet to see these things and I’m not sure how many people are actually linking to the blog from other sites.

I’m glad to see that people are making use of the information that we are putting out there about this rare condition. Those that would like more info or to connect with other families can view our list of followers on Kaela’s blog or visit metatropicdysplasia.org.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dream Catchers Final Presentation

We have had a very productive semester working with Dream Catchers for Abused Children. I am glad to see they have taken some steps in the right direction in improving their overall website usability. Below is our final presentation and recommendations for site changes. Good luck Dream Catchers!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dream Catchers Site-Wide Implementation of IS 479 Suggestions

Dream Catcher’s has implemented some of our group's suggestions on site usability. I congratulate them on taking the first steps toward making the site have a greater impact on visitors. One of the initial elements we pointed out was the header that ran across the top of their site. In traditional site design, headers and navigation that run across the top of a web page are typically consistent across all pages. Dream Catchers uses Wordpress to construct their site so it is fairly easy to apply these conventions across all pages.

The issue with the site was that there were many images and logos below the navigation and header on every page. On its face this is fine except that it pushes all other content below the page fold or the point at which a visitor to the site would have to scroll in order to view other content. In the world of search marketing, we want users to be able to find relevant information they are looking for right away without having to think too much about it. This is especially true for landing pages that visitors arrive at after clicking on an advertisement. If they cannot see text, images or other content related to their search query, they can become confused or simply think that the page they have arrived at will not fulfill their needs. Just as easily as they arrived, they will leave.

By removing these images at the top of the Dream Catchers pages, the publishers of the site made more content show up before the fold which will increase the likelihood that visitors will stay on the site to look for the information they came for. See the screen shot comparisons below.

This is a page before the pictures/logos were removed
Notice the small "donation" word in the bottom left hand corner. This was a landing page for the donations campaign that we started in adwords. Users would likely miss that small header that isn't prominent on the page. There is the Paypal donate button front and center however there is no information that would help visitors see how their money will be used or why they should donate.

dreamcatchersoldhomepage

This is a page with pictures/logos removed

dreamcatchernewhomepage

Here is a screen shot of the new donations page (previous one pictured first)

newdonationspage

They have removed the pictures below the main navigation header, added an image with the word donate, and added links to information that potential donors would be interested in such as where their money is going and what the organization is all about.

These changes may seem insignificant but they are a huge step in the right direction in terms of usability for visitors to the site. People who work with their websites everyday know where everything is and how everything works but those who are first time visitors know nothing about the site and need things to be simple and easy to find. This is especially true when you want them to perform some action such as making a donation or viewing information you have posted.

Great Job DreamCatchers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Likes, +1's and SEO oh my

+1’s and likes are quickly becoming the new currency in SEO for websites. In the early days of search engines, tactics like stuffing keywords in meta tags worked well to get a page ranked higher. Now search engines ignore those and other techniques. Even the current strategy of backlinking (or the amount and quality of links attached to a particular site or page) is outdated. Fundamentally it makes sense because likes, +1’s and other similar endorsements essentially provide the same type of information to a search engine, that a page has good content or is in some other way appealing.


These endorsement buttons do for a website in one click what it takes programmers all over the web a lot of time to do. The speed at which a site can become popular in this way isn’t even the best part about endorsement buttons. Google’s overall goal is to take the “tech” out of search results. Instead of an algorithm offering the most relevant search results, endorsements from your network of friends, family and colleagues do the job. The only drawback I see with this more “organic” plan is that a person would need to have at least a moderately large network of friends participating in endorsement button clicking in order to get quality search results. I can’t see how this will ultimately replace current SEO techniques but it definitely will become a major factor in how sites are ranked in search results.


This article on LinkedIn talks more about the +1 button and Google Plus in general

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Start Date @ Malloy Incorporated Approaches

On August 15th, 2011 I will begin my new career at Malloy Incorporated in Ann Arbor, MI. I am super excited about starting this position for a couple of reasons.

The Traditional Book Printer


Malloy Incorporated is a book manufacturer that has been around for more than 50 years. The company is actually still located in the original building in which it was started although they have grown significantly both as an entity and in square footage. One of the reasons that I am so excited to be a part of Malloy’s mission is that they are not a company that traditionally offered web or search marketing positions. In fact, I never would have thought to look at the company for these positions as opposed to the Pure Visibilities, PWB’s or Fluency Media’s that make Ann Arbor the web marketing hub that it is. My instructor Bud Gibson turned me on the opportunity Malloy was offering and when I interviewed for the spot, I saw a company that is a survivor in it's industry. A company that is well aware of the changes that are taking place in the print and online worlds. Also, a company that knew it must make moves to embrace these changes. And so I feel incredibly honored to be the one chosen to take on the task of building Malloy’s brand online and perhaps offering suggestions for its future in book and content production.


The Many Hats Of Malloy


As I moved through the interview process at Malloy, I realized that everyone in the company I came in contact with had worn different hats in the time they had been there. Some had come in with a particular background and took on other roles at the company. Each person there that I met was very dynamic and well rounded. I found that I had a lot in common in this respect as my background isn’t one of just sales, or just customer service or just web marketing. I have a degree in criminal justice and one in business administration. I have a growing background in web and search marketing as well as many technical talents to compliment these skills. I am also a talented writer and I think that all of these things combined will help me to thrive in the dynamic culture that Malloy and it’s people have created.


As my start date approaches, a flurry of ideas races through my head of the ways Malloy can develop a web presence and translate that into growth for the company. I feel like the business has nowhere to go but up and the opportunities for development in the online world are infinite. I only hope that I can help build on the success, perseverance and stability that Malloy has achieved throughout its history.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Visitors Using Embedded Form On Parc Pointe Website

The first users of the embedded form on the Parc Pointe Apartments website have submitted information. It’s good to know that people are actually using the form to schedule a time to come in and take a look at what is available. The entire process is credibly simple and much easier than building a form page, linking it to a CGI program (which has its own set of steps for implementation) and monitoring an email account.

All you have to do is create the form in Google Docs. Fields range from simple text boxes to multiple choice radio buttons or check boxes. You can generate a lot of them and I’m not quite sure if there is a limit. The best part is that you can make all the fields a requirement for users to fill out to ensure you are getting all the data you need. For a sales application this is critical as the more information a sales person has from the outset of a cold call or follow-up call, the better positioned they are to make a sale.

My next step is to set up a separate Google account for the apartment community as the current form is sending information to my account. This way people at the office will be able to log on every day or set up email alerts to be notified when a new user has submitted information.

On another note we have also had more visits from new regions of the country! Add Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin, Alabama, Illinois, Connecticut and the District of Columbia to the list!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dream Catcher's July 25th presentation

Our presentation for Dream Catcher’s this week was a great one. I felt we really hit on some key points about the site that should be addressed in order to decrease the overall bounce rate and improve the overall user experience on the site. We also had some success in implementing our goal of tracking donations on the site. Some of the most notable issues with the Dream Catcher’s site are the usability ones as far as clutter, organization and landing pages.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Analytics Email Reports

I love the email reporting feature that can be accessed from within analytics. I just used it for the first time today when showing my boss the traffic we have been getting at the Parc Pointe Apartments website from around the globe and also from within the continental United States. I used the PDF option and also had a copy sent to myself. The interface is extremely user friendly. You can enter in multiple email addresses or just one, in the description field you can type your message to the recipient such as a summary of what the graphics and data mean and then you select the file format for it to be sent in. The PDF is nice and the data/graphics appear just as they do from within analytics except without all the other links, help menus and account data. You can also set up recurring email reports which are great so you don’t have to remember to email the same people over and over. Very nice Google.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More Regions Taking Notice Of Parc Pointe Apartments

Data is really picking up on the Parc Pointe Apartments website. There are a total of 66 visits since the site’s inception a few weeks ago. There have been 58 visits from 9 states within the lower 48, 1 visit from Canada (Toronto to be specific), 3 visits from India and still 1 from South Korea. The site has seen the most popularity on the floor plans and features page where visitors can view apartment layouts. Still no information captured in Google docs for showings but it is still early. It may take some form of advertising campaign to really get info pumping through that page yet the complex is at capacity during this time of year so perhaps early on next year there will be more online requests for showings.

One thing I am going to work on is getting style features to show through in Internet explorer. Currently, most traffic arriving at the site is using that browser and subtle design features of the site are not showing through. Particularly border radius properties applied to borders on several portions of the site. This gives the effect of curved corners in Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome and other browsers but internet explorer does not recognize this code. I am still looking for an easily implemented alternative so IE users will have to look at boring straight rectangles and squares until I find a change.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Donations Goal Collecting Data

We are officially collecting data on the donations goal we have implemented for the Dream Catcher's site. Out of 12 visitors to the page over the past 30 days, one has gone on to click the PayPal donate button. Our made up naming convention (/vpv/outbound/) which was named for Virtual Page View and installed on an outbound link, is showing up in the report successfully. The screen shot below shows the funnel visualization report.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Installing Analytics On Parc Pointe's Website

I couldn't help myself and installed analytics on the website I created for Parc Pointe Apartments. So far there have been 26 visits from 5 states with over 500 page views on different parts of the site. Visitors are spending a lot of time (avg of 2 minutes) on the contact us page which is a good sign. That page features a contact form for prospective residents to fill out if they are interested in touring an apartment or want more information about the site. There isn't a ton of data yet but it looks like things are off to a good start.

Originally I built a custom form using a combination of HTML, Java and CSS and tried to figure out a way to have the form information submitted to an email address without using a CGI program. Turns out that is a lot easier said than done. Thankfully Google Docs offers a service where you can create custom forms and embed them on a website. When users submit the information it is sent to the corresponding gmail account that was used to generate the form. The data appears in a nice little spread sheet that is easy to read and organize. It can also be exported to a third party application such as Excel.

Another task that I am working on is getting the site to appear higher in organic search results. Currently I can get it to show up on the first page but not near the top. I have replaced some of the text in page's title tags with common search terms that people might use such as "apartments in Ann Arbor" or "Ann Arbor Apartment complexes". I have also linked to the site from outside sources such as this blog.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Built My First Commercial Website!!!!!!!!!!!

I have officially published my first commercial website! The apartment community which I work at part time needed a website and I took the liberty of building one for them as a school project. The site sat on my computer (and Eastern Michigan University’s server) for months until one day I mentioned it to my boss. She loved it and ParcPointeApartments.com was born.

Follow the link above and let me know what you think. Future suggestions for improvement that I have been thinking about include: icons for associations and accreditation such as BBB, links to social networking accounts (which they also do not have), online application features (would need some major security reviews before implementation), additional pictures (which should be added by this weekend), virtual tours of apartments, and perhaps rates and features of lease contracts although that will have to be ok’ed by the boss, among other things. Any design comments would be welcome as this is really my first crack at a commercial web presence and site.

Week 9 Dream Catchers For Abused Children Presentation

Here is the most recent Dream Catchers presentation. This week we focused on creating additional profiles within Google Analystics in order to create filters for data. Up to 50 profiles can be created within analytics so that the original account data can remain intact and filters can be applied to other profiles which serve as copies of the original.

We also created a goal for our donation campaign where we are tracking visits to the site and when visitors click on the "donate" button. We had to install code to track a virtual page view because the donate buttons take visitors to the Paypal secure site in order to enter their donation information. This URL is separate from the Dream Catcher's site. It should be interesting to see just how many users are coming through that landing page from our ads and how many are actually donating.

The donation ads continue to perform well with over a 1% CTR (click through rate)so there should be sufficient traffic to the donation landing page to start gathering some actionable data.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

First Articles Submitted To Logbud

I have Logbud set up and have submitted two articles so far. One is about SEO and the other is about how to set up a website of your own using common steps or blogs. So far I have a few impressions in Adsense but there is much more work that needs to be done. In order to generate any real income of off ad impressions, I will need to write more. My goal is to have at least 100 articles in the system by September. Making them popular is another trick to drive traffic. Currently I am back linking to the articles through this blog which is also connected to other sites.

Using the Google keyword tool I am able to see what search terms and phrases are most popular on the web. For instance in a one month period there were over a million searches on the phrase What is SEO?. My next projects will be more how-to articles or just information based ones describing a process or product. New product reviews are also very popular such as ones for Apple products or electronics in general.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tracking For Google +1

Google has added tracking for the +1 button in Analytics reporting tools. Elements such as Facebook likes, +1's, and other user web endorsements are quickly becoming the trick that makes pages rank higher in organic search results. Every time a user clicks the +1 button or likes something, they are publicly endorsing that page, image, or other content and letting their entire network see it.

Now website can track the +1 clicks in Analytics. In Google Webmaster tools you can see how traffic is affected by the button. For instance you can see if users stayed on your site longer in correlation with clicking the button. Traffic that has clicked the +1 button is denoted by a +1 annotation in reports. A separate activity report shows how many times the +1 button was clicked on your own site and on other sites as well as in Google search results pages or other SERP's.

Many of the metrics that are already on Analytics such as geographic and content data are also applied to the +1 metric. This would be a great tool for identifying content that users like which is a large determinant of time on site. Now there is a way to track exactly what content visitors are finding appealing so that is can be spread around to other areas of a site or enhanced in order to make pages more sticky.

You can read more about +1 tracking on the Adsense Blog.

Last LA2M Of The Season

I attended a very informative LA2M last Wednesday and it was the last one of the season. The speaker was Derek Mehraban of Ingenex Digital Marketing. The topic as digital leadership and how businesses and individuals can use digital media such as social and professional networking sites as well as other forums like blogs to promote their brand.

I thought the stats he brought up throughout his presentation were very interesting. Most are listed below.

Mehraban talked about the battle among digital giants for the time on site top spot.

    In May 2011, 180 million people visited Google sites compared to 157.2 million that visited Facebook.

    Although Google had more visitors, visitors to Facebook looked at 103 Billion pages and spent an average of 375 minutes on site compared with 46.3 Billion Google pages viewed with an average time on site of 233 minutes.

Some questions come to mind when I hear these numbers and knowing a little about the businesses that Google and Facebook are in. For instance Google is a search engine and users are starting out with the intention to have the site find another site for them. It is not surprising that a user would not spend a lot of time on a Google results page if they have been shown results that are relevant to their query.
This assumes that these statistics are not including other Google web properties such as Youtube, Buzz, Gmail, and any of the other services that Google runs. It seems that Facebook would be even further ahead based on these statistics.

Facebook on the other hand is a social networking site that people come to in order to accomplish tasks such as communicating with friends and family, viewing images, playing games, modifying their accounts, and a lot of other things that will take much longer than sifting through search results. These statistics do point out one very obvious fact, that content is what will make people stick to a site and not bounce away.

More interesting stats

    Websites with a blog attached generate 55% more traffic than those without one.

This one isn’t surprising as search engines love to index new content with lightening speed. Blogs are one of the easiest ways to update fresh content on a daily basis which is a factor in how a website ranks in search results.

    74% of consumers rely on social networks to do research before making a purchase.
    It wasn’t clear if these consumers were doing research online and then going offline to make their purchase or buying off of the internet or some mix of the two. At any rate it is pretty astonishing that this many consumers are using social networks to read reviews on products and otherwise ping their networks for information.

    41% of B2B and 67% of B2C companies have acquired new customers through Facebook alone.

Overall social networks and other web properties are merely another channel for businesses to connect with consumers. Many of these customers may have very well still bought from the same business had they not been on Facebook or some other social network however by being present in the online world, these companies included in the stat were able to connect or get in front of their potential market in yet another place.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Overall Donation Campaign CTR Still Growing

Day four of the donation campaign re-organization and the ads continue to climb in CTR. We now have two ads performing at above a 1% CTR. The third ad in the group appears to be a slow starter and may need to be paused in the next couple days. Two out of Three isn't bad though!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Donation Campaign Is Optimized!

After revamping the donation ad campaigns by adding more highly targeted keywords to our persona (caring), we have achieved success! Out of three ads in the group, one is starting to show some promise with a 2.44% CTR after only one day!

The caring persona has trigger words such as “guaranteed”, “Reviews”, “dependable” and “recommended by”. This type of person needs a lot of guidance in making a decision in terms of the quantitative data. They also need a lot of other people to have tried something before they themselves feel comfortable in doing so. The call to action in the ad instead of literally telling the persona to act, was designed more to help them act by saying we will show you how.

Another ad in the group has developed a .79% CTR which is ok for a little over 24 hours running so hopefully it picks up a little. The third ad has no activity as of yet but hopefully the attempts at optimization will help this one along as well. At any rate I am glad we are heading in the right direction with this new campaign. Our next steps (although not a part of class requirements) will be to develop an alternate landing page for Dream Catchers to look at. Hopefully they might allow me to link it to the new and well performing campaign in order to do some A/B testing or goal analysis.

Screen shots of the new campaign can be seen in the slide show below.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Toys For Abused Children Campaign Idea And Indirect SEO For Dream Catcher's

I have an interesting donation campaign idea that I ran by the CEO of our NPO today. In the beginning of our work, I asked our sponsor about where the majority of donations were going that came from the site. She told me that some went for promotional material and other parts of them went to purchase gifts for abused children at the holidays.

I was on Google Adwords using the keyword tool trying to find out what terms people are using when they want to donate to a cause. Not Surprisingly there are thousands of global and monthly searches for things like “donations for children, “needy children”, “toy donations”, and “help abused children”. While some of these searchers may have the intent of helping poverty stricken or less fortunate children, those and abused children may often fall into the same category. Something tells me that a caring persona, after seeing some of the sad faces at the DreamCatcher’s sight, might not care what type of situation a child is in as long as they need help.

The other part of this campaign working relies heavily on the landing page at DreamCatcher’s . People that donate online want the process to be quick and they want to know where the money is going. This is in part due to the fact that they cannot actually talk to a real person before entering their credit card info or Paypal email. Even though donation amounts on the web are typically smaller people remain reluctant to give if they don’t see how their money is helping.

On another note, I’m hoping to use some SEO tactics to some better organic results for DreamCatcher’s . By including a large number of relevant backlinks such as DreamCatcher’s and child abuse as well as the words linked above to the NPO’s donation landing page, the Dream Catcher's site will be pushed higher in organic results.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Intrigue Of Facebook IPO

The much anticipated Facebook IPO is coming, some say as soon as next year. Valuations for the company have been flying around like excited children at a birthday party. 50 billion, 85 billion and now over 100 billion. It reminds me of the rocket-like rise of Google stock about 6 or 7 years ago. Shares of the search giant rose to over 400 dollars before the SEC intervened. Could Facebook have a similar road to glory? Here is an article in USA today with more about it. I think I'll be buying some and holding it at least for a little while when it becomes available.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Canadian, The Farmer And The Double Murderer

Acting on one of good web marketing strategies I heard in my class meeting earlier this evening, I decided to Google my name to see how many search results I could occupy. I have been working over the past month or so on developing a solid web presence. For instance this blog and many other profiles that I have created and linked together work to make up my web presence. I searched for myself expecting to see at least a few of those accounts pop up. I was sorely disappointed at what I was presented with instead.

The first result is that of 20 year old Matt Laurin of Missouri convicted for the double murder of an elderly couple. The top result was how he was found in his jail cell recently after committing suicide. So the first three results are dominated with this content portraying my name. I figure, “oh well, maybe the next result is about me that a potential employer would be able to see”. It is a link for Matt Laurin on a Facebook account. Not the first thing I would want a headhunter to view but at least near the top of search results. Nope. It’s some guy named Matt Laurin from Canada with a bad tattoo and a very unflattering profile image. As if it couldn’t get any worse I continue to scroll. Next is a LinkedIn profile and I think, “yes! now they will see me.” Wrong again. Turns out there is another Matt Laurin on LinkedIn who is an “Independent farmer” in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

What has all this taught me? If you are going to be successful in web marketing it will definitely pay off to be visible on a dozen or more platforms so you can push out all the other noise. Otherwise you might be mistaken for a Canadian Farmer convicted of a double murder and found dead in his jail cell. Embedding keywords in your blog for all the other content that gets displayed with your name before you in search results will also help you rank higher.

Inspiring Talk With Real Life Web Marketing Professionals

Just experienced a very inspiring talk in our web marketing practicum class from some marketing professionals. Angelina Vergari and Chad Wiebesick gave very insightful presentations to the class. One of the best ideas I heard was from Chad when talking about “claiming your profile”. He explained that he used a newer site called About.me to combine all of his social media and other related accounts into one place so that interested parties searching for him could learn about who he is.

The best part about the strategy of having a profile on so many different sites is that when someone searches for your name, you will be all over the first and probably the second page of search results no matter what search engine the user plugs your name into. Brilliant! I’m definitely going to investigate that one. I also liked the tip about embedding keywords into your linked in profile based on the companies that you want to find you. In my case and most people in the course, we want to get involved with web marketing in some fashion or another. Chad explains that by embedding keywords such as “search engine marketing”, “SEM”, “SEO”, and other related words, your profile will pop up first or near the top of search results.

The best part of Angelina’s presentation was her explanation of how she transitioned into consulting work from the course. I thought that her comments about the natural progression from working with EMU and Google sponsored non-profit’s to working with “real life” clients was re-assuring. I myself am beginning to contact persons outside the classroom concerning web marketing consulting related work and I thought this helped in easing my anxiety about working with these individuals.

Overall I thought these were some of the best talks we had in Dr. Gibson’s classes. I got some really good ideas for how I want to develop my web presence.

Week 7 Dream Catchers For Abused Children Presentation

This week we are focusing on the products and services offered by the NPO, the ad groups associated with those products and services as well as their performance. The donation campaigns are still struggling and we plan to address these issues this week to get the ad group performing well.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Not Too Little Too Late...Hopefully



Finally there may be a Facebook app released and optimized for the iPad. I know I’m not alone when I got an iPad and realized that the interface on the Facebook app was really grainy and out of focus. That’s because it was never meant to be used on the iPad’s huge screen. Now over a year since the iPad was first released there is an app about to be released for it.

Chat and Groups features in the original Facebook application have been re-done and Facebook has been targeting Apple mobile device users in its design plans. I for one cannot wait to see it solely so I don’t have to look at those grainy images any more. An article on CNET News explains more.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Quest For Donation Dollars

Optimizing our donation campaign for Dream Catchers is proving to be a little more challenging than originally anticipated. After doing some research it seems that there are common characteristics of donors on the web from which information can be gleaned to build a more effective marketing campaign.

• Most donors on the web give small amounts.

Could be anywhere from one dollar to 20 but always less than 100.
Larger donors are looking to make a personal connection and make sure they get their tax receipt.

Donors on the web are motivated by an urgent need for action.

• The funnel must facilitate ease and convenience.

Donors on the web want the process to be fast or they will exit before completing a donation.

Convenience is essential for success; too many steps in the funnel will cause users to exit.

The ability to react quickly to some urgent need to donate meaning clear communication from the non-profit that online donations are accepted as well as an easy and convenient method to do so.

Multiple donation methods. Sites that can only accept credit cards will probably be fine but adding an ancillary method such as through Paypal or Western Union may help increase the opportunity for people to donate. On the other hand only having Paypal as a method excludes people who do not have a Paypal account.


Miscellaneous statistics from the Kintera Luth Non-Profit Trend Report. The publication is a bit old (from 2005) but is sheds light on some very interesting quantitative data about online giving habits of consumers. The trend report is a project undertaken by Kintera, Inc. (NASDAQ :KNTA) and Luth Research which is an online market research firm.

• More than 8.6 million U.S. households donated over $3 billion
online in 2004.

• More than 8.6 million U.S. households donated over $3 billion
online in 2004.

• On average, online givers donate in total (both online and
offline) more than 50% more than those donors who do not
give online. (perhaps because of the convenience).

• More than 75% of donors who go online before making a
donation noted that going online made some impact on
their decision whether or not to give, and more than 25%
said the impact was significant.

This last stat is very interesting because if an NPO’s site does not look reputable, that could kill the entire start of the donation funnel before it ever begins. Non-profits that are driving traffic to their sites via PPC advertising are wasting funds if the site itself is not user friendly and professional. Regardless of whether the NPO is legitimate or not, if visitors do not feel confident they will exit.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mile stone 1 presentation for the Web Marketing Practicum

A little late but here is the team's latest attempt at developing personas for the Dream Catcher's web site.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Google AdSense And LogBud.com

In my spare time I have been working for an online content provider known as The Content Authority. They charge clients for content that can be placed for article marketing and SEO purposes. To date I have written thousands of article for them at an average of a few hundred words a piece on any number of different topics.

I have recently signed up for a Google Adsense account and I am checking out a site called LogBud.com where I will essentially be doing the same thing except that I can embed the Adsense code so ads will appear that are relevant to the content I produce. This will be one of my first experiences with Adsense so it will be interesting to see if I can start generating some passive income. I could also monetize this blog as well if I can start driving traffic to it in some way.

Its pretty easy to get started with AdSense. You just visit the AdSense home page and sign up for an account. The application is one page and they will let you know in a few days to a week if you are approved. Then you go through their set-up process to start posting ads on your website. Of course you have to have a website in order to post ads however a blog such as this one will suffice or a service such as LogBud that requires an AdSense account to participate.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

LinkedIn Is Growing On Me

I used to share my web marketing instructor's sentiments about the popular professional networking site LinkedIn. Few people I knew used it and it seemed like every time I was on the site it was trying to get me to sign up for all these useful yet costly features. The entire point of the site is to network and perhaps find a new job but how often are we career seeking.

So now my opinion has changed because some of the features on the site are pretty cool. The one I like the best and not because its free is the feature that shows you who has been viewing your profile. It is not a teaser either like the silly Facebook questions and answers that pop up and say "someone thinks you're cute!" as you anxiously click on it to find out who it is only to be disappointed at the fact that its your buddy trying to click on enough questions to earn coins to unlock answers about himself. The feature on LinkedIn shows you either a user from an organization for example someone from the Chrysler Corp or a specific profile that has looked at your profile.

I also like that you can link the profile to another web page which makes it nice for sending resumes or links in an email to potential employers instead of a resume. I have only done this once though and I'm not sure if anyone that I sent it to actually looked at my profile.

I have also just downloaded the LinkedIn app for iPhone. It has a neat feature that lets you connect with other users accounts if you are in-person with them simply by putting your phones close enough together. The native API is also nice. I hate when apps just use the safari browser built into an Apple device. The only drawback with the in-person connection feature is that you need a bluetooth connection to make it work. Make it work over WIFI and that would be much better if not on 3G. I also like that you can easily change to one of several different color themes on the app. If you are into the LinkedIn site the app is pretty good if you have an Apple device.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Apple Introduces iCloud

Well it was an inkling in the air and now it is here, Apple's version of cloud based computing appropriately termed iCloud. What else would it be called. The service was unveiled in the wake of the dismantling of the mobile me system that charged users 99 dollars and really wasn't all that great. One notable feature of the new and free iCloud service is that users can sync content across devices automatically. This means that when you download a song it appears not only on the device you downloaded it to but all the other Apple gadgets you own. Apple is known for seamless integration among applications within its devices such as a phone number that can be tapped within the maps application to initiate a phone call. Now that integrative genius is available outside devices. This article in USA Today gives the details of the new service.

Donation Campaigns Don't Work...Maybe

Although we are going to push forward with attempting to increase donations for our NPO, there are a lot of reasons why donation campaigns do not work in Adwords. The main reason is the demeanor of a typical searcher when they go to enter queries into a search engine. This person is typically focused on themselves whether they are looking for a phone number or information on how to write a resume. Most searchers are in a selfish state of mind and are not looking specifically to donate money to a non-profit. That is not to say that people aren't searching for exactly this purpose however these individuals are few and far between.

Our best bet at this point for increasing donations for Dream Catchers will possibly lay in searchers looking for info on reporting child abuse. This happens to be the fourth or fifth most successful ad group in the NPO's campaign. The reason this may be a good place to start is because the searcher is already starting out in a non-selfish place i.e. they are looking for info in order to help someone other than themselves.

Increasing Donations For Dream Catchers

One of the micro goals expressed to us by our NPO is that they would like to increase donations. I’m sure this initiative is in the back of the minds of most NPO managers and our next pet project is to design an ad campaign in Google Adwords to draw in donations for the non-profit. Besides creating a three line text ad (or a few) for the campaign, we need to decide on a good landing page for potential donors to arrive at. The donation page seems to have the best chance of getting the first micro conversion to happen i.e. getting the visitor to click on the “donate” button. There are some usability obstacles to overcome with the site that we may not be able to change right away but we will do our best to work around those road blocks. If we were able to redesign this page to remove some of the clutter and assist visitors in making a donation we believe overall conversions for donations would be much more successful.

Alternate Causes Of High Bounce Rates

After doing some investigating there could be other reasons why the bounce rates are so high for Dream Catchers For Abused Children. In the past 30 days bounce rates are hovering in the 70% range which is not so good. There are other reasons why a bounce rate can be high including the fact that tracking code could be installed incorrectly. Obviously it is impossible to go through the NPO’s server searching HTML documents related to the website that may have Google code installed on them. Luckily there is a scan tool that will do it for you.

Scans are completed on a first submitted first scanned basis so you may have to wait anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days for results to come in. You can check the status of your scan including how many websites are in the queue ahead of yours. Another drawback is that this service only scans the first 100 pages of the site and it is not clear as to whether or not it scans only relevant pages or if it is scanning the first 100 documents loaded onto the server. This could include JS, CSS, PHP and other files that do not characteristically have Google code installed.

So this is a way to determine if your bounce rate is in fact being caused by something else other than the layout of the site. Of course if your NPO's site is obviously plagued with usability and design issues, there is a good chance that this is the cause of a high bounce rate.

Time On Site

Time on site is calculated by Google as the time spent between the first page view and the last page view on a site. For the average time on site, Google takes the average time between page views divided by the number of “qualified” visitors or visitors who did not bounce or exit after viewing one page on the site. Reasons why time on site will always or most of the time be zero are because a site only has one page or only one page is tagged with Google tracking code. This may seem silly however a blog may commonly only be seen in one page view and if an analytics user doesn’t realize that tagging only one page will lead to a zero time on site value until more pages are tagged. Note that the page a visitor travels to within the site must also be tagged with Google tracking code or a zero time on site value will be logged.

Persona Of A Dream Catcher's Visitor

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What Do Dream Catchers Visitors Do?

To truly determine if the Dream Catchers website is doing a good job at serving the personas that visit, we first have to determine what type of site it is. As we found out from our NPO rep, the site provides free educational and news based content to visitors. No subscription for the content is involved and it is not entirely clear how the site generates revenue although there are donate buttons throughout the different pages. There is even a "subscription" donate button where visitors can elect to sign up for recurring monthly donations. Dream Catchers does not fit perfectly but by all accounts it is a content based site so we can approach conversion optimization from that standpoint.

Because it is a content based site with news articles and facts sprinkled in no particular order or system, it may be difficult to track conversions or decided what a conversion actually is. At this point we could potentially focus on increasing donations as mentioned by our NPO rep. This would be a great way to increase revenue for the site as well as be relatively easy to track as far as micro and macro conversions are concerned.

Macro Conversion

-A Successful donation

Micro Conversions

-Entering an amount to donate
-Clicking the donate button

We will also have to further examine the funnel for donations. Once the donate button is clicked, users are taken to another page (off of the dream catcher site) to the Paypal site to enter either credit card information or their Paypal log in credentials. The button under credit card info says "review donations and continue" where as the Paypal login gives no inclination as to whether a donation will be deducted from the visitors account or if there will be another step in the process.

Dream Catchers For Abused Children Visitor Personas

The persona of a typical Dream Catchers For Abused Children Visitor is taking shape. After looking over the analytics data, some observations can be drawn out about what type of person is coming to the site. We know from our NPO representative that the site is geared toward providing information and awareness of child abuse. They do this by providing statistical information as well as news stories about abuse and neglect of children.

The most successful ad campaign is that of "child abuse statistics" which suggests that there are many people coming to the site for factual numerical data. Perhaps students, researchers or others interested in information of that nature. The majority of visits over the past 30 days (May 5 to June 5, 2011) are from the United States (Over 35,000 visits) and from people speaking U.S. English.

Most visitors (over 34,000) arrived via the Google search engine (paid and non-paid). The bounce rate for this time period is 79.57% suggesting that users are not seeing information on the landing page relevant to their search queries or keywords.

Looking at paid search results, 10,946 visits occurred in the time period May 5 to June 5, 2011 and the bounce rate was 61.41%. Looking at the landing page for the NPO shows that almost no information relevant to ad text or search queries can be found concerning the ad entitled “Child Abuse Statistics”. Users are looking for numerical data and/or factual information concerning child abuse as a whole and are not being given this information. The child abuse statistics ad groups are the most popular in terms of clicks (4,000+ in the past 30 days) suggesting that the most frequent visitors to the Dream Catcher’s site are persons looking for this numerical information for research or reporting purposes.

The next most popular ad is that of “child abuse stories” (3,000+ clicks in the past 30 days). The persona of visitors who click on these ads seems to be similar to that of the statistics campaign however content may be more relevant. The bounce rate for the news and headlines landing page that is connected to the ad is lower at 59.49% for the last 30 days. Still too high but perhaps suggesting that content is more relevant to user queries.

Purchasing Keywords?

I'm not sure I understand the activity of "purchasing" keywords for advertising in Adwords. In the past when class members have managed Adwords accounts for non-profits, we simply entered relevant keywords and keyword phrases that we thought users would search for. It appeared more like the keywords were what drove traffic to the text ad that was created. Only when users click on the ad was the account for the non-profit charged for the click. Is purchasing a keyword something different all together or are Adwords users in effect paying for the keyword as well when the ad is clicked on? It seems like it would not make much sense to pay for a keyword when it could be used in Adwords to drive traffic to your site.

Are Double Digit Conversion Rates Always Necessary?

Conversion Optimization is a very intriguing text. Its amazing that some well known companies such as QVC and ProFlowers.com can achieve double digit conversion rates that are 10 times higher than their respective industry averages. The author gives reasons such as the fact that selling online is cheap, that conversion optimization is mystical or hard to understand and conversion data is difficult to track for why companies do not achieve good numbers. He claims that the question is not IF these numbers can be achieved but IF companies are willing to do what it takes to get there. My question is, is conversion optimization at any cost necessary considering other components of the business. Does a company really need to achieve double digit conversion rates if it will cost them thousands or even hundreds of thousands in web development, testing and advertising costs? What if there are other components to the business that are generating significant profits and a website is merely icing on the cake? What if the purpose of an organization's website is to educate, inform or otherwise disseminate information? Tracking conversions here are still necessary and a good conversion rate is desirable to know that individuals are using information presented to them or getting the most out of the site yet focusing a great amount of resources to get huge numbers for a site like this doesn't make sense. For instance it may not be the best goal to try and achieve double digit conversion rates for a non-profit that is providing information and education as opposed to an eCommerce based website that is focused on revenue and sales.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My First LA2M Event

I am currently sitting at my first LA2M event @ Connor O’neils in Ann Arbor. I’ll have to say that I’m surprised at the organization and accommodation the event provides. I was half expecting to show up and find a bunch of business professionals huddled around some pushed-together tables. Quite the contrary as an entire room is dedicated to the weekly event along with free WIFI and our own dedicated waitress. WOW! I’m definitely making plans to attend this event weekly. Our fearless leader Bud Gibson is also in attendance.

The presentation is about to begin. On the schedule for this week is Word Press vs Drupal and Facebook Optimization.

Each presenter is going over the benefits of using each of the different platforms for building websites. Depending on what you are doing there are pros and cons for each. One notable feature of Wordpress for example is the built in analytical feature that allows users to track visitor behavior to their websites. Tracking page views for example can be a very useful tool for knowing more about the traffic on your site.

Another difference between Wordpress and Drupal are how the platforms can be accessed by users. Wordpress for instance has versions of the software that can be downloaded to a machine so that features can be used whether there is an internet connection or not. Drupal on the other hand leaves users to rely on a third party platform to be accessible as well as an internet connection to be present.

On another note there are a handful of business owners in attendance that are looking for ideas and/or human resources to design and build a website. It is very interesting the type of people that attend this event. I seems like there is a melting pot of different professionals, students, writers, and business owners all coming together to talk about marketing on the web.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Google Cannot Track If Java Is Disabled

I'm perplexed by the fact that Google Analytics cannot track visitors to websites that have disabled first-party cookies and/or java script on their browsers. Are there any figures on how many visitors may do this at any one time? Obviously this is an element of a browser that a user would actually have to put effort forth to manipulate so it doesn't seem that it could be that widespread. It does make sense though that the greater the amount of traffic coming to a site, the greater the likely hood that the data could be skewed based on people's java being disabled.

The workaround for this factor is tracking users with the mobile version of the code. The drawback here is that you don't get the same tracking accuracy with things like location or aspects of a visitors presence on your site.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Social media and switching windows wasting company time? Say it ain't so! This article on Mashable claims that a study conducted by an email software provider called harmon.ie shows millions of company dollars are being wasted by digital over-indulgence in the work place. Among some of the time wasters are switching between browser windows and spending time on social media sites. Sifting through emails was also at the top of the list. In my opinion if people weren't wasting company time online they would be wasting it somewhere else.

wasting time in internetville

Successful Meeting With Dream Catchers For Abused Children

Patrick Damm and I just finished our phone interview with Angela at Dream Catchers For Abused Children. She was very informative and shed some light on a micro-goal that we can focus on for the NPO. She said that generating more donations for the organization would be a big plus. She also mentioned that the overall goal of the site is to be an information hub for people looking to get educated about child abuse as well as a source for news and other information concerning child abuse.

We are super excited to help Angela and the organization out with these goals and we will be sharing our weekly progress reports with her.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm reading through Google Analytics by Justin Cutroni and I have stumbled upon my first question. On page 16 there is a warning about configuration and historical data. It states "Once Google Analytics has processed the data and stored it in the database, it can never be be changed. This means historical data can never be altered or reprocessed." Does this mean that copies of data processing configurations are also bad if they were set up improperly?

Dream Catchers For Abused Children NPO Meeting

Just scheduled a phone meeting with our NPO representative from Dream Catchers For Abused Children. She is located in Washington so an in-person meeting was impractical, unless Bud was going to spring for a plane ticket. The aim of this discussion is to find out what the overall goals of the website are for the organization as well as one or two specific goals that we can focus on. I am also interested in what types of people they are trying to attract to the site with the ad campaigns that they have running. Angela our contact there has been very good at keeping in touch with us through email so I'm sure she will have great answers to our questions. Hopefully we can establish a good connection with our three-way conference call. There is a link posted below to their site.

Dream Catchers For Abused Children

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Embedding A Presentation

I was having a lot of trouble publishing my presentation to my blog until I figured out that you have to make a copy of it first in Google docs. If anyone else is having trouble, try making a copy and then publish the copy. It worked for me.

To make a copy...

1. open the document you want to copy
2. Under "file" you will find "make a copy"
3. proceed with publishing the document

Here is mine and Pat's...A little late but better than not at all.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Meeting Our Non-Profit Organization

My team mate Mr. Damm and I made successful first contact with our NPO Dream Catchers For Abused Children a couple weeks ago. The contact Angela Roy gave us a prompt response and seems excited to work with us. I have logged into the account and looked at work done in Adwords as well as analytics from past groups. I can't wait to get to work. Our next contact will be to outline the goals the NPO has for the site as well as for the Google account throughout the semester.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Search Engine Optimization

There is a kind of battle that has been going on among search engines and the websites that they index. Search engines balance the needs of the people that use them, advertisers and their own business needs. Website builders and SEO firms are constantly inventing ways to get sites to appear at the top of organic results. For example it used to be common practice to stuff keywords into meta tags so that search spiders would rank the site as more relevant. Search engines have since been built to be more advanced and recognize this sort of trickery.

Now to get a website to appear at the top of the list there are better tactics that can be used. For instance finding the hottest keywords for a particular market is still one of the surest ways to get a site to rank near the top of the list. Surprisingly these words may not even be grammatically correct. Putting keywords into key places in code is also a good strategy. Putting them in headlines, subheads and in the body of a page are all good places. Filling the page up with so many keywords that it makes the overall content hard to read will ensure that the site is tossed aside by a search engine. Relevance is also very important. Putting in words that have nothing to do with the overall website is also a sure fire way to get ranked last. For example putting in a bunch of "Roth IRA vs 401K" onto a real estate listing site will cause search engine spiders to ignore the page all together.

Finally keeping content fresh is a great way to get ranked higher in organic results. By changing or adding new content daily or at least weekly, search engines are more likely to show your site to their users than ones that have not been changed in months. Of course users will be shown the most relevant content to their query so that is almost always paramount.

Which Is Better For Advertisers, Google Or Facebook?

Advertisers can display text or image ads to potential customers with Adwords by using select keywords. With Facebook, which is associated with Bing, advertisers can reach their audience in a little more personal way it seems. Clients can opt to market to people with certain keywords in their profile. For instance a hair salon owner can market to people with the words Justin Timberlake or Lady Gaga in their profiles. The difference is that the marketing becomes much more personal when you are targeting people with specific information in their profile as opposed to any query that contains keywords of your choosing like with Adwords. I think Google is missing out on the social advertising scene without offering options like these to advertisers.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Apple Pursuing Cloud Based Computing

Tech analysts are reporting that Apple has signed a long term lease to use space in a server farm being constructed in Santa Clara CA which is a jog from the company's Cupertino headquarters. Rumors are swirling that Apple is the new contender for Google and Amazon in cloud based computing. The company has also posted job listings for cloud computing engineers although it has been replaced with the title "web services". Perhaps management thought that was not the best way to surprise rivals with new cloud based services. Can you imagine storing your music online? I don't know how I feel about that one and it only makes it easier for them to track your online behavior. The article below talks more about the lease in CA.

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tweeting For Sale

Twitter has become one of the most used marketing and PR tools for companies and celebrities alike. Many individuals have leveraged it to generate interest or inform their followers. There is however a method to all the Twitter madness. If you are actually trying to use your account to influence market or otherwise communicate in an effective manner, the following tips are very helpful.

- Quantity is important: For all of us new to the Twitter scene, this is an advantage we don’t have. For people like Charley Sheen however, they are way ahead of the curve. The number of followers a person has is said the get you ranked higher in organic search engine results than those who have less. The number of tweets and re-tweets on your account is also a factor in getting ranked higher. While you can’t do much to immediately effect your number of followers, you can write like crazy.

- Timing: If you are marketing something specific, timing is everything. If a company is marketing a product or service that is seasonal or directly related to social trends or events, tweeting about it at the time an event is popular will get you much more attention than when it is not. For example tweeting about summer fashion in the dead of winter might not get you ranked very high.

- Relevance: In the world of search marketing, relevance is the name of the game. If you are not relevant to a user’s query you will not be shown to them. Obviously you can’t be relevant to everyone however you can use all the key words that might be associated with what it is you are selling or what people might use to search for what you are selling. For instance if a company is selling tablet computers, it wouldn’t make much sense to tweet on and on about smart phones.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Naked Domains Driving Me Crazy

I have spent at least a few hours figuring out how to make the naked domain bring up my custom domain. After running around and changing name servers in my GoDaddy account and searching for information on the subject all over the web I was able to get things to work with a simple check box. There is now a check box underneath the text field where you type in your custom domain in your blogger settings under the publishing tab. I don't know how long it has been there or if it has always been there. It reads "redirect example.com to www.example.com". Everything seems to be working now. I'm wondering if I was just looking at it for so long that I never realized it was that easy or if Google has been monitoring my frustration and finally threw me a bone.

Sorry if anyone wasted time following instructions that I have posted.

Update On The Naked URL

In a previous post I outlined how to make your custom domain entitled blog pop up without putting in the www before the domain name. This was not working no matter how long I waited for the system to update. I have found another solution and I got it to work. If you have your domain registered through GoDaddy.com, the following steps will help you set up naked domain forwarding.

1. Log into your GoDaddy account
2. If you do not see your info click on "my account" on the right side of the page
(this should be the last button in the line of options near the top of the screen)
3. On the left column there are several choices for managing your account, click on "domain forwarding" under "domain related".
4. Select the check box next to the domain you want to manage.
5. Once selected, the options for management of the domain will become available, click on "forwarding" and select "forward domain".
6. You will be prompted to enter the domain you would like visitors forwarded to. Enter your custom domain i.e. www.example.com.
7. Save your settings.


When I did this it did not work immediately. I waited a day and now it works. Hope this helps anyone still having trouble.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Let The Networking Begin!

Getting a list of networking events organized is a little tougher than I thought. So far I plan to attend LA2M after hearing so much about it. I watched some of the video posted on the event's site of previous presenters and it looks pretty interesting. I am also planning to attend some entrepreneurial events about starting a business in the area. I want to run ideas of PPC consulting business models by others at the event. I love that people are posting events that they see and inviting others. I think it is a lot easier to attend an event with a colleague or classmate. Sometimes when you are with others it is easier to strike up a conversation with those you don't know. I will try and do my part to post events when I find them.

Google’s Chrome Book Hits The Scene

There is a lot of hype surrounding newly introduced tablet computers with touch screens and all the convenience. With all the bells and whistles on iPads or Xooms or whatever else is being sold, these devices can still not match the functionality of a laptop computer. Sure there is a keyboard but lets be honest, you will never type as confidently or quickly as on the physical QWERTY. Yes these devices render web pages perfectly and handle email with a breeze but how much REAL work can you get done on one? Much of the appeal of these devices comes in the form of a viable visual and processing substitute to an actual computer without all the drawbacks like boot time or limited internet connectivity options (i.e. WIFI only for most laptops unless you have a USB device with service).

The Chrome laptop seems to have all the strengths of a laptop with none of their weaknesses, at first glance. It has been said that the laptops from both Acer and Samsung are essentially a tablet in laptop form with features like instant-on (whatever that is), pay-as-you go 3G connectivity ( huge plus), and all day battery life (8 hours). Features that are included on the Chrome Book but left out on many tablets, most notably the iPad, are the HDMI port and a beefier processor. The article below goes into more detail.

Google Tries To Remake The Laptop

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blog To Buzz Conundrum Solved

For all those web marketers, freelancers and other business minded individuals who are trying to build an internet presence, nothing is more irritating than when you can't get the web to do what you want it to do. Such is the case with many individuals in our IS 479 class when (myself included) we could not get our blogs from Google to feed into our Buzz accounts, also a Google product. I stumbled across some advice on a message board and the trick is simple. Our carefully conceived custom domains are to blame. The fix is listed below.

1. log into blogger dashboard.
2. click settings
3. select publishing tab
4. change back to the default blogger URL
5. return to Google Buzz and click "connected sites" next to your pic
6. Blogger should now be a choice in the list of connected sites.
7. click "add" and then "save".
8. repeat steps one through 3 to re-enter your custom domain (when I did this the custom domain immediately directed me to my blog so it shouldn't take long)


Hopefully that works for who ever is still having trouble.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Patrick Damm's LinkedIn Critique

I have reserved this blog post for my newly minted team mate Patrick Damm and the critique of his LinkedIn profile. Pat is off to a great start by having his school and current employer information. He also has the highly recognizable in/username URL format. I believe that Pat could impress employers even more by adding a profile picture of himself. I would recommend using a professional looking or actual professional head shot. Even though LinkedIn may not be the reason you ever get a job, if an employer decides to look at the page it will be top notch. I was also looking for some more detailed information or past experience that could be interesting or beneficial for employers to see. Hope you find these suggestions helpful Pat!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A-records And Naked Domains Oh My!

Ever wonder how your browser got smart enough to take you to a page even when you leave the prefix www out of the equation? It has less to do with the browser and more to do with A-records. These are settings that are configured in your hosting or domain registration service such as GoDaddy.com. When you type a naked domain such as example.com into a browser instead of www.example.com, you are linked to another IP address for which there is a record. If no such record exists, the user gets an error message. If you are using GoDaddy.com or some other domain registration service user will be directed to a page generated by that service. Either way, users are not seeing your site.

Most people, myself included, feel it second nature to just type a naked domain into a browser and expect to get the site we are thinking of. Should it not appear it is not a stretch to say that most people will resort to using a search engine before typing in www to get the result they want.

Setting A Custom Domain To Your Google Blog

If anyone seems to be having trouble directing visitors to your blog through your custom domain, the following information may help. I obtained bits and pieces of what to do from both Google Blogger's help section as well as Godaddy.com's help topics so if you aren't using godaddy or blogger, this information will not help you much. If you have your blog set up and domain name purchased, these steps will help you direct visitors to the custom domain.

You will have to edit DNS (Domain Name System) Settings before you can link the purchased domain name to your blog. To do this you must enter your CNAME (associated with blogger) into your Godaddy account.

1.Log in to your account at www.godaddy.com.
2.Open the Domains tab and select My Domain Names. You'll be directed to the Domain Manager page.
3.Click the domain that you'd like to use with your blog.
4.select the tools tab and then select DNS manager (redundant I know).
5.Under your customer domain there should be a link that says "edit zone". This is to edit zone files associated with your domain name. Hint: if you are following Google's instructions posted for Godaddy.com, they are misleading and may be outdated.
6.You can click "quick add" however there should already be a listing for a top level domain with "www" already entered. The sub-domain feild may have an @ symbol in it. Delete the @ symbol.
7. Enter ghs.google.com as the Host Name. Specify a TTL or use the default setting of 1 hour.
8. Click save settings at the bottom of the inline frame.

Your settings should take hold in about an hour however it can take up to 48 hours for it too work so don't get discouraged if you can't get you blog to pop up when you type in your domain name. Also, you want to make sure you update blogger with your domain name as well if you haven't done so already.