SEO Case Study: Content is NOT King

content is not king

The prospect wanted to go after the key phrase “corporate wellness Michigan”.

They had their heart set on this term. Now, this was not really based in any kind of keyword research they had done. They were in the corporate wellness business and, by golly, they wanted to dominate the search results for corporate wellness in Michigan. Their logic was sound.

They said they had been trying to rank for this term for about 6-7 months, and they were stuck at page 3. They had all sorts of content in their website. The term “corporate wellness” was woven throughout. Yet for some reason they just were not able to get pass the top of page 3.

So we conducted a little experiment!

The prospect contacted us on a Thursday and by Friday we had decided we were going to try this experiment, so we bought a domain. The domain we purchased was not even an exact match domain (EMD). We went with “corporate wellness”, then put the little “MI” in front of it so it read “micorporatewellness.com”.

Next, we stood a few things on the page. Not a lot of content, mind you; a page title, a sentence or two, an image and a link.  “Corporate Wellness Michigan” is the title for this particular page. We placed it in the title and meta tags. We were even bold enough here in this case to say, “Dear Prospect, you want to rank for this? Please click here.” After that, we pointed a couple links (literally, two) back at this very fresh domain.

Ranking Corporate Wellness Michigan

Turns out, we were able to rank this site by day six.

corporate wellness michigan day 6

All we did is buy a domain, stand up a barebones site, put a couple backlinks facing it, and by day six we had this brand new website on the first page of Google. Not too shabby.

And two weeks later? We were at the top of the search results!

corporate wellness michigan week 2

Keep in mind, nothing changed at this page since the day we built it. We never added any more links going back to it. Yet there it was, on the top of the rankings for those statewide state results. The same search this prospect could not attain on their own, even after six months of trying.

Want to see the page? (You probably want to see the page.) Here it is.

corporate wellness michigan page

This single page is the whole site. That’s it.

So, you know the whole notion that content is king? And how, in order to build up an authority site, you must produce reams and reams of blog posts, each thousands of words long, and they have to be so captivating that people will link to you naturally and (blah, blah, blah)—all the junk we been hearing ever since the Panda and Penguin updates from back in 2012?

It’s junk.

Content is NOT king, folks.

Content helps, especially on the long game (this experiment was a very short game we played) where it’s important to keep people at your site. You eventually want to show that people are staying on your page. Google likes pages that are sticky. With good content, people tend to stay at a website longer and when they linger longer, your bounce rate decreases and your page views increase. Google uses these metrics as social proof by which to weigh the value of your website, so—at some point—you’ll want high quality content on your website.

Again, if we wanted to keep this domain and really turn it into authority-ranked site, we would want to do something more to the site to build it out, but this was just an experiment. Do we have any desire to keep it and build it into authority-ranked site? No, not really. Not unless something happens along the way; maybe the prospect wants to buy this?  For now, it’s just an experiment to boast about and to use as a lesson.

Note: In this case, in this niche, competition was not terribly strong.  We saw things like indeed.com showing on the top of this search results. Usually when you see job sites coming up at the top for search results (when you weren’t searching for jobs,) what you’re seeing is Google not knowing what else to put up there, so it begins filling in the blanks.

P.S.- “Corporate wellness Michigan” was not a well-loved search term to begin with, so the notion that the prospect could not rank for this within six months? They simply did not know what to do. This is why they came to us.

So you there you have it, folks. I hope you enjoyed this presentation! Have questions? Leave them in the comments.

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Google Authorship: How to Get Your Picture into Google Search Results

Marketing Ideas Google Authorship

You may have noticed a trend emerging when you perform a search in Google. Every so often, you’ll notice someone’s face comes up next to their post. At first, you may think, “Wow, they must be an authority. Google is even publishing their face!” Once the star-struck awe wears off, you may then wonder, “How did they do that? Can I do that?”

For authors, bloggers, podcasters, video personalities and content producers, the answer is, “Yes, you can!”

Google—in their tireless effort to serve and encourage rich Internet content—has produced something called “rich snippets,” which offers content producers and marketers an opportunity to stand out using “Google Authorship” markup code.

The Google Authorship process, however, wasn’t terribly clear for me. I ended up needing about five different resources to successfully navigate the Google Authorship process. Therefore, I’ve taken the time to reproduce a step-by-step process for getting that pretty mug of yours into the Google SERPs.

Step 1: Set Up Your Google+ Profile

If you don’t already have a Google+ profile, go to Google.com and select You+ from the navigation bar at the top. As you move through setting up your profile, pay close attention to adding content for the following fields:

  • Introduction
    • Keep this short and sweet; one to four sentences. A little about you and where visitors and followers can find you.
  • Profile photo
    • Use a clear headshot. This will be reproduced as a small thumbnail if it’s placed into the Google search results. (Google is sure to repeat “if” and “no guarantee” numerous times on your Authorship journey. Be prepared: Your face may not show up in the SERPs for months, if ever.)[image of intro and photo]
  • Work Email
    • Preferred: Select an email address with the same domain name as the one you will be linking from (i.e. your email address is yourname@yourdomain.com and your website is yourdomain.com.) If you can’t do that, any email address you control will do.[image]
  • Contributor to
    • This is where you tell Google what sites you post to, or—in cases where you have been a guest author on someone else’s site or blog—what articles you’ve had published. If a guest post, link directly to your post on the other site; not the main homepage.

Marketing Ideas Google Plus Profile

Step 2: Link to Your Google+ Account from Your Posts

There are a couple different ways to add Google Authorship markup code to your site, but I’m going to focus on my favorite: the rel=author parameter. Why is this my favorite method? I feel the rel=me parameter you would add to your blog’s “about me” page is too broad to be targeted, whereas the rel=author parameter you add to specific links, giving you much more control. You may say, “Matt, that seems like more work!” but I would say, “Not if you do it the way I’m about to teach you!”

Your goal now is to add the code to one place: the bottom of your posts. If you don’t already have one, begin by writing your “about the author” blurb. Here is mine:

Marketing Ideas Author Matt SchoenherrWritten by Matt Schoenherr
Matt is a husband, father of four, marketing consultant and founder of Marketing Ideas 101. As a student, teacher and published author, Matt supports the worthy goals of service and commerce in the small business and nonprofit communities. You may find him on , Twitter and Facebook. Creative marketing ideas and marketing strategies may be found at MarketingIdeas101.com

As you can see, I’ve included links to some of the other social media channels I use, the same headshot I used for my Google+ profile (this could be any picture; I’m just being consistent) and a little about myself.

Pay close attention to the Google+ link here. This is the format you want to use:

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/111111111111111111111?rel=author“>My link to Google+</a>

Change the 1’s to your Google+ profile ID. To find your profile ID, make sure you’re logged out of Google+ and

  1. do a search for your profile from the Google+ landing page (Google.com, then select You+.) You may see your profile posts come up on the left and believe you just found your profile.
  2. Don’t be fooled! This is not the right address!
  3. You still want to select your profile from the list that appears on the right.

Marketing Ideas Google Plus Profile ID

Now you will see your actual profile and will be able to capture the URL address properly:

https://plus.google.com/106370176252356730363/posts

Strip off “posts” and now your URL should look like:

https://plus.google.com/106370176252356730363/

Once you have your “about the author” description created, you will add it to the bottom of your posts. If your website is built on a content management system, this may be easy. With Joomla, you may simply add a custom HTML module to the bottom of those pages. In WordPress, you may use a wonderful plugin called “Post Footer” and drop your “about the author” blurb in. If you need help with this, ask your web guru. Here is what my code looks like:

<img src=”http://marketingideas101.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/marketing-ideas-author-200-150×150.jpg” alt=”Marketing Ideas Author Matt Schoenherr” title=”Marketing Ideas Author Matt Schoenherr” width=”150″ height=”150″ class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-1465″ /><strong>Written by Matt Schoenherr</strong><br />
Matt is a husband, father of four, marketing consultant and founder of Marketing Ideas 101. As a student, teacher and published author, Matt supports the worthy goals of service and commerce in the small business and nonprofit communities. You may find him on <a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/106370176252356730363?rel=author” title=”marketing ideas” target=”_blank”>Google+</a>, <a href=”https://twitter.com/#!/mattschoenherr” target=”_blank”>Twitter</a> and <a href=”http://www.facebook.com/marketingideas101″ title=”marketing ideas” target=”_blank”>Facebook</a>. Creative <a href=”http://marketingideas101.com/category/marketing-ideas/”>marketing ideas</a> and marketing strategies may be found at MarketingIdeas101.com.

Step 3: It’s Alive!

Google has provided a slick little tool that tells you whether you’re on the right path. It’s called the Rich Snippets Testing Tool and you can find it here: http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets

To determine if things are working properly, place the URL address for one of your posts carrying the Google+ link into the top box and select the Preview button.

Marketing Ideas Google Authorship Testing Tool

An example of what your post will look like in the search results will appear. If you see your picture, great news! You’re done! If not, the Rich Snippets Testing Tool will tell you what errors it found. For me, I was told I hadn’t verified my email address, so once I added the work email address to my Google+ profile and verified it, my “Extracted Author/Publisher for this page” section looked like this:

Marketing Ideas Google Authorship Verified

Afterglow

Per the search engine marketing agency, CatalystOnline:

“The results over a few weeks proved the quintessential SEO theory that Rich Snippets do increase CTR and as a result greater traffic. According to Google Webmaster Tools, clicks to the site dramatically increased by +150% and this improvement resulted in an increase of visits and page views (see chart below).” (Emmanuel, 2012.)

Marketing Ideas Rich Snippet Results

True, it may take a little time to get Google Authorship markup installed and functioning. Still, if your posts begin displaying your profile picture in the Google search results, you stand to gain considerable advantage over other content authors whom have not made this effort. As of today, I will begin watching to see when (if) my profile picture begins appearing alongside my posts. When (if) I see this occur, I will come back here and post an update to let you know how long it took.

In the meantime, if you work through these directions and you discover something was unclear or missing, please offer some clarification in the comments below and I’ll update this post.

In support of your efforts,

Matt

marketing ideas ebook divider

Update, Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Well, it seems Google caught my Authorship submission today!  Fairly quick turn-around at exactly a week. Nice. So, what did we learn? It’s possible and it can happen quickly. We also learned your photo won’t show up next to everything you’ve written. See below.

Marketing Ideas Google Authorship Results

As you can see, a search for “marketing ideas 101” shows four listings (page 1, positions 1-4) for the Marketing Ideas 101 site but only one entry in the search results shows my Google Authorship image. Still, every little bit helps. In the meantime, I see I need to address the meta keywords and description for my pages, as my resource box content is being displayed instead of the page description. Ah, good times.

If I notice any other updates, I’ll post them here!

marketing ideas ebook divider

References

Crestodina, A. Google Authorship Markup: How to get your picture in search results. Retrieved from http://blog.kissmetrics.com/google-authorship/.

Emmanuel.E. January 19, 2012. CatalystOnline. How Rich Snippets Can Improve Your CTR. Retrieved from http://www.catalystsearchmarketing.com/2012/01/how-rich-snippets-can-improve-your-ctr/.

Google. Author information in the search results. Retrieved from http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1408986&expand=option2.

Google. Rich snippets not appearing. Retrieved from http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1093493.

Google. Rich Snippets Testing Tool. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets.

Jamieson, E. How Long Will It Take For My Face/Logo To Show Up In The Search Results? Retrieved from http://www.authorsure.com/514/how-long-will-it-take-for-my-facelogo-to-show-up-in-the-search-results.

Google Analytics 2012 Report Templates (Some Assembly Required)

Marketing Ideas Google Analytics Report Templates

Thank you, Google.

Thank you for offering us such great value over the years. Thank you, especially, for Analytics. Google Analytics has been a mainstay in our statistical web traffic reporting for years! You were our main constant, Google. You made reporting on client website traffic easy to implement and automate. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

But..

Let’s talk about this new version of Google Analytics (G5) you’ve just blurted out onto the world. No doubt it’s powerful, but I’m wondering–for the love of all that’s holy–why did you put a three year old in charge of the roll-out?

For it must be a three year old at the wheel. Who else could take what was easy (automating scheduled emails of a single, complete web traffic report) and make it ridiculously painful and patchwork to pull together the same information and deliver it to a client?

Who else would send an entire industry scrambling to migrate all their clients’ reports to this same, disjointed cluster of reports?

Who else would miss migrating those email addresses and report schedules?

As a father of four children, I know a thing or two about three year olds and I can tell you none of my three year olds have known how to use Google Analytics. Apparently, neither does the Google project manager who spearheaded this effort, for he or she would have figured out how vital the delivery of these reports are to customers all over the world.

Alas, it is apparent the Google project manager who owns this worldwide debacle wasn’t terribly familiar with this part of the process. Or maybe their Google superiors were asking them to cut corners. Whatever the reason, between this and the ghost town that is Google+, I think Google may be losing their clue. Maybe they’ll get caught up again. I hope they do.

If you saw your traffic reports go away this week, we were warned it would happen. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing (ranting,) it appears there is no solid solution for getting the old, user-friendly reports automated again. Until that is developed, here are some of the “patchwork” reports I referred to earlier. Each has pieces of what you’re accustomed to seeing, but not all of what you were seeing. If you want to have these reports emailed to your inbox regularly, you now set this up on a dashboard-by-dashboard basis.

So, whereas you once received one succinct report delivered to your inbox, now you can receive four or five partial reports, all sent via separate emails. Clever!

I will update the following list of Google Analytics report templates as more become available. If you come across other report templates, PLEASE SHARE THEM IN THE COMMENTS!

Enjoy!

(Andover IT)

(Watson)

(Kaushik)

marketing ideas Google Analytics divider

References

Andover IT. Google Analytics Report Templates. Retrieved from http://www.andover-it.co.uk/tools-tips/google/google-analytics-report-templates/.

Watson, C. Free Google Analytics Dashboards and Custom Reports. Retrieved from http://www.smileycat.com/miaow/archives/002851.php.

Kaushik, A. 3 Awesome, Downloadable, Custom Web Analytics Reports. Retrieved from http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/best-downloadable-custom-web-analytics-reports/.

Marketing Idea #102: The Great SEO Lie

Marketing Ideas The Great SEO Lie

Question: Your SEO marketer has guaranteed you long-term placement on the front page of Google. Do you believe them?

Answer: I’m amazed at how often I run across customers who have been sold on “guaranteed rankings in Google” only to find out once their PPC (pay per click) campaign ended, their “top-spot” rankings fell away. Of course, they were never told this would happen, so all that money they were putting toward PPC just dried up and blew away with little to show for it.

Whenever possible, focus on improving your natural search engine rankings. This is where the most longevity will be. It will take you longer to achieve a top position in the search engines, but once you stop paying, your site will remain in or around that top position for a while (depending upon how competitive your industry is.)