Google Analytics Starting….Now!

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In marketing (and in life), timing is essential. It may be as simple as making the light before it turns red (good timing!). Or it may be something as big as when to pop the big question.

If you’re a marketer, there has never been a better time to pop the question…around site analytics. Okay, it’s not quite as sexy as “popping the question,” but it still benefits from good timing.

Google just released a major overhaul to Google Analytics, their amazing — and free — cloud-based web analytics package. Tweets are flying, especially if you follow the hashtag #googleanalytics, there are a lot of people very excited about the new Google Analytics. That makes this the perfect time to get your clients’ websites tagged and tracking.

If they are already using Google Analytics, you should dive deep into some of the new features, like custom dashboards and improved linking with Google Adwords. The Google Analytics blog outlines some of the new features. Continue reading

7 Tips for Better Flickr Traffic

Since I first discovered the analytics features in Flickr, I have been obsessed with my stats. I just can’t help myself. Stats and analytics fascinate me. (Note: Stats are only available to Flickr Pro users.)

Here are a couple of observations regarding Flickr’s chocolaty goodness:

  1. Post consistently. My stats hovered around a depressingly low number for many months. The key to getting more views on photos was to actually upload photos more consistently. Sounds obvious, but the reality is that people in a social community tend to interact more with people who are contributing consistently.
  2. Give the people what they want. If you know what photos get the most traffic, that means there’s an audience for your work. If people like your dog photos and label them as “favorite” then keep posting your dog photos.
  3. Share timely events. My stats skyrocketed recently when I uploaded 388 photos in one batch. (Thank you Flickr Uploader!). I attended the Long Beach Comicon 2009 and uploaded my pictures within two days of the con. My average views went from 500 a day to over 5,000 per day. That’s a HUGE increase in traffic. Not all of it is sustained, but I have definitely increased my daily views significantly.
  4. Include links to your other sites. The traffic from Flickr to my personal website BuddyScalera.com is increasing. The more people look at my Flickr photos the more they go check out my webpage. I saw a pretty nice jump when I uploaded that batch I just mentioned. Flickr users tend to check out my photo reference books, which is good.
  5. Join groups & create groups. I belong to dozens of informal Flickr groups. Plus, I’ve created two Flickr groups, which has increased my overall photo traffic. Since I have particular photography interests, it makes sense for me to contribute to certain groups. But some of my interests didn’t already have a group, so I created Long Beach Comicon – Official Flickr Group and Comic Book Creators & Pros. One complaint: they don’t give administrators much access to group analytics, beyond giving a list of members.
  6. Participate. People are sharing their photos online because they want the world to see their pictures. Give people feedback on their photos. If you share a comment, people will want to see your photos, which will increase your base of viewers.
  7. Contact ’em. There’s a “friending” feature on Flickr called “Contact.” Basically, it’s like friending someone on Facebook, except you get a feed of new photos that is being uploaded by your contacts. If you like someone’s work, you can check out their work in thumbnails as they upload the images. And unlike Facebook, people on Flickr are uploading photos, so you don’t have to wade through dozens of throw-a-sheep and super-poke invitations.

More on Flickr in the future. In the mean time, check out 10 Tips to Boost your Flickr Profile. Very good article about increasing Flickr traffic.

Help Wanted: Search Specialist

As we increasingly move to an Internet-centric society, we’re seeing all kinds of new and interesting careers spring up. Soon, we’ll see some interesting career opportunities for smart, adaptable workers.

A few years ago, we saw the rise of professional bloggers and search engine marketing specialists. Right now, we’re seeing professionals developing mobile applications and social media widgets.

In 2009, we’ll see the evolution of the Search Specialist. Now, these people are already out there in niche jobs (and they’ll probably be able to find this blog posting). But coming soon, we’ll probably see headhunters and HR departments looking for knowledge workers who can quickly and effectively mine the Net for super-specific information.

It would be natural to expect this to go to someone with a library sciences degree, but I think Search Specialists will evolve from people who work within specific industries.

I’ll give you an example. I worked as an editor at a small e-marketing agency specializing in pharmaceutical communications directed at healthcare professionals. On my team, I had an editor who was a wizard at uncovering information on the web.

Sure, she was good at Google, but that’s a given. She also knew how to dig deeper and get information in other search engines, like Yahoo, Ask, and MSN (all of which give different results). She also knew how to search blogs, message boards, and news articles to dig up more information.

This is going back a few years before the big YouTube and Twitter explosion. But a Search Specialist will be the kind of person who can quickly and effectively dig up, organize, and present highly focused data sources.

In our case, this editor could dig up information, sort the gems from the junk, and generate an informed position on just about any topic you can imagine. Going forward, and it’s going to be important to access all kinds of information on the public Net, even the stuff that isn’t well tagged and indexed by Google.

Blogs, videos, Flash interfaces, games, e-books, Twitters posts, social networks (including Facebook & MySpace), manuals, databases, closed communities, news archives, software, all contain valuable information. Some of this information is indexed, but most of it is not.

Several industries already leverage search specialists, including patent and other legal businesses. In the future, other industries will seek people out who can mine and measure information from Net sources.

Search Specialists will be needle-in-a-haystack researchers who defy traditional job roles. Some of them will be research specialists or editors or scientists or journalists or work from home entrepreneurs.

In the beginning, they will be underpaid and under appreciated. But one day they will be valued and coveted knowledge workers who can extract stubborn data from nearly any source. In the right organization, they will be highly paid and highly promotable, especially as they research corporate strategies.

If you like to search, discover, and organize, it’s probably a good time to start positioning yourself as a Search Specialist in your current career. Eventually, as the career landscape shifts, you’ll be prepared for a new career as a Search Specialist.

Techronyms for Search

In the technology business, there’s a new acronym for every new product, idea, or process. They call these “techronyms.”

Anyway, I find that mnemonic tricks sometimes help me remember techronyms and people’s names.

I wanted to share a quick one that comes up all the time when I talk with people about Google Adwords and Yahoo Search Marketing. Here’s one to help you remember the difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

Remember that the “M” in SEM stands for “money.” The “O” in SEO is for “zero-dollars.” That’s because SEO is free.

As I think of more techronyms, I’ll post ’em. If you’ve got any, post ’em.

Google’s Usability – Only 76%?

At first, this may seem like a criticism of web usability legend Jakob Nielsen, but it’s really not. When it comes to web interface, Nielsen was a true pioneer and continues to be a voice within a world that he undeniably influenced.

No, this is a different take on the same data that he uses to inform his clients. And the industry at large, hence, probably even my clients.

A new article in SEORoundtable.com referenced a study conducted by Nielsen that “One-Fourth of All Internet Users Cannot Perform a Simple Google Search.” The lead noted that “usability expert Jakob Nielsen blogged about how difficult it is to perform a Google search

Now, considering what I know of Google, I wondered how “difficult” it can be to perform a Google search.

Anyway, according to Nielsen’s research, there is evidence that suggests that nearly 1/4 of Internet users cannot actually use Google. Now, he readily admits that 76% of the people he surveyed CAN use Google, but he’s more interested in the 24% who CANNOT.

Well, this glass-half-empty perspective is the part the grabs headlines. Listen, Nielsen is a web usability pioneer, so I am not surprised that when he talks, people listen. But this is sort of the opposite of what the headline should have been.

The headline should have read “76% of Internet Users Leverage Google.”

Consider for a moment what Google does. Based on a few words (aka keywords), Google gives you a list of websites that you might want to “visit.” Despite the fact that these are only digital destinations, we’re asking people to consider at least two abstract concepts:

  1. The idea that there are networked computers that lead to an online destination that doesn’t really exist in the real world and…
  2. There’s some kind of engine (another real world object) that helps you find this non-existent destination.

Even if people don’t need to wrap their hands around the abstractness of it all, they do learn pretty quickly how to use Google to find what they want. If 76% of people have learned how to use Google, that is a testament to the usability of the site. Heck, that’s probably significantly higher percentage of people than learned how to set the clock on their VCR.

Nielsen’s research is probably well designed and would likely stand up to research scrutiny, so it’s doubtful that it’s somehow loaded (to get a specific result). But if you look at the “task” they asked people to perform, then it’s even more impressive that they got a 76% success rate. In Nielsen’s own words, “in one of our test tasks, to find “a strong vacuum cleaner that is easy to use, can pick up pet hair, and costs under $300”)”.

Well, Google would only be one starting point in your web search. If you were a user, you might be looking to buy something, so you’d focus on shopping sites right? But if you were in a research mode, you might also try a review-oriented website.

But if you really wanted to know if it was “easy to use” you would have to look past the marketing copy. Because every vacuum cleaner will claim that it is “easy to use.”

So how do people find out if it’s easy to use? Reviews! Professional reviews, social network reviews, and user-generated reviews will tell you if something is “easy to use” which is a highly subjective qualification. Google is designed to find word matches on facts, not offer a subjective opinion on quality.

Now, back to our 76% success rate….considering the test question, Nielsen should be amazed at how many people were able to use Google to actually find information that helped them find a vacuum cleaner. What other tool has this kind of usability success rate?

Consider the huge differences in education, experience, and attitude of Internet users. Yet, Google created something simple, yet incredibly powerful, that bridges the gap between the gap of human diversity. Let’s face it, Google’s success is due in part to it’s ease of use. People like powerful tools that are simple and pleasurable to use.

Finally, this study wasn’t just about Google, it was about searching on the Internet using a search engine. Google may be the biggest player in search, but Google isn’t the whole Internet. It’s just one corporate brand that happens to dominate their category. Would those people tested know how to use Yahoo? Ask? MSN?

Also, if Nielsen polled those same people in a week, would they have still been unable to use Google? It is an exceptionally easy tool that actually fosters learning.

I deal with clients every day. Most of them do their own research, and I wonder how they will respond when they see a headline like this from an industry legend like Jakob Nielsen. Will they wonder if Google is “easy” enough to use? Will they feel that Google may not be the right channel for communicating their brand message to their target audience?

Of all people, Nielsen should have been headlining the fact that 76% of people can actually use a common tool like Google to make use of the increasingly complex Internet. Not the opposite way around.