SEO and the Techno-Illiterate

Much as we may want to deny it, people can, and do, live without the faintest notion of the nature of technology. They may use technology and its products; but, by no stretch of the imagination could they be described as knowledgeable consumers of technology. – Technological Literacy Reconsidered”Journal of Technology Education 2013″ – Walter B. Waetjen

When I was a teenager I was a volunteer for a local church program that was offering basic computer education to under and unemployed people in our community. We had a small computer lab of 8 desktops that I built and a course that matched the local Community College’s Computerized Business Applications 101 course. This was one of the first comments I heard as the students came to class for the first time.

“I don’t know how to use a mouse. I’m afraid that I’ll break that thing if I touch it!”

Overcoming Technology Phobia

Fear Uncertainty Doubt

There’s so much to know about the online world, it’s easy to see how people overwhelmed by it would be shadowed by fear and doubt. Image Source:  Paul Downey

To say that the students of my class were all “characters” would be like calling Mardi-gras a little quiet costumed get together.

No one in the class was under 40 years old, and most of them had been to rehab at least once in their life, if not in the past 2 years. Regardless they were beaming with enthusiasm at the opportunity that learning how to use computers might bring and yet at the same time a sense of haunted dread seemed to tug at the corners of their eyes when I started telling them about the curriculum we had developed.

Being a Digital Native vs. Being a Technological Castaway

Digital Natives have grown up with technology

Digital Natives have been exposed to technology from the beginning and have advantages over those who may not have kept up with it in later life. Photo credit: Waag Society

“How many of you have used a computer at all in the past month? ” I asked. No one raised their hand. I was blown away, the idea that none of them had used a computer even in the last month when I was using mine to play Starcraft and Final Fantasy 11 online every single day was completely foreign concept. I had taken a computer class in school in first grade!

“How many of you have really used a computer on a regular basis before?” One of the eight students meekly raised his hand. When I asked “What did you do with that computer?”I got a surprising answer.

“I helped load the punch cards for a computer at an old job I had in my twenties!”

Smiling a little bit I let him know that things had changed a bit since then but we’d take it one step at a time. Of course, I didn’t realize how small those first steps would need to be.

Digital Self-Doubt

I could see the irrational fear in her eyes as I asked to class to turn on their computers and to click on the icon on the desktop for Microsoft Word.

While everyone else had put their hands on their mouse, she had picked it up and was looking at it like it might bite her. That’s when she took a deep breath and told me the truth. She really truly didn’t know how to use a mouse.

I had her take a deep breath before having her put the mouse down and put my hand over hers to show her how it moved the cursor on the screen, and that left clicking did actions and right clicking gave options. After a week of coming to class and practicing you couldn’t have guessed that she didn’t know how to use a mouse.

It Is Not Going to Explode

When I told the class that this would be the first time they were going to change the computer settings for the monitor display they gave me blank and stunned stares.

“I don’t think I can do that…I’m sure that I’m going to break it on accident!” one student said. I then gave them an exercise to make them understand that they couldn’t do just that.

“I’d like you to press every button on the keyboard, and click everything you can think of to make the computer break short of bashing it with a hammer.” After a while the nervous chitters turned to laughs as they dragged icons around, opened folders, typed gibberish, and changed the screen resolution but no one was able to destroy their computer.

After that they went to the tasks we gave them with a little less fear and hesitation.

Looking Back to Move Forward

For the final at the end of the class they all emailed me a word document, an excel spreadsheet, and a powerpoint presentation. I can still remember the proud glow of accomplishment they had on their faces when I reminded them of how far they’d come from that first day.

I was ecstatic when I got a call several weeks later from a potential employer actually checking on one of my student’s resume references and was overjoyed to able to tell them that they she was proficient in basic Microsoft Office and would make a great addition as a receptionist.

Techno-Phobia and Small Business

While I was still teaching that class I started working with a real estate website hosting company as online customer support for their websites. We offered full website assistance as long as they had us on the line. To my horror, I found that many of the people I was talking to who were selling million dollar homes had as much technical skill as the students at my school.

From the concerned Realtor who couldn’t figure out where the letter went in her scanner that she wanted to “email” us to the guy who printed out his website, wrote down changes and mailed it to us. Whole pages of handwritten content he wanted added to his site. It wasn’t that these people weren’t intelligent, clever or talented. It was that they had worked in a world of paperwork, literal paper work and hadn’t kept up with the relentless march of technology.

Resolving Techno-Babble Problem

Remember each step needs to be explained in real English, not techno speak . Make each step small and clear, don’t assume they know a single thing.

During my tenure as a customer support rep basically for a website, I learned that a lot of the battle was in the day to day terminology that I had become so used to that I didn’t even realize that people might not be familiar with these terms. I often find myself explaining just what those three letters mean let alone our understanding of Google’s algorithm. But that’s part of our job, explaining complex technical elements to others who may not share our same level of expertise.

Overcoming the Technological Literacy Gap

Here some concrete ideas on where we can start to make changes to our own thoughts and processes to actually help the situation:

  • When you’re faced with a person who is not familiar with these terms, it’s very easy to make them feel inadequate if you’re constantly stopping to spell it out. Instead, use simple practical vocabulary and don’t just drop in technical terms expecting them to be understood wholesale.
  • Break down larger abstract concepts into more concrete smaller pieces.
  • Be patient and don’t be condescending. They likely have far more experience in other topics that would leave you scratching your head, so be polite.
  • Metaphors are Rosetta Stones, they can help translate complex ideas into understandable elements.

Do You Have A Techno-Illiteracy Story?

Have you run into a situation where a high level executive or business owner you’re trying to work with shows a complete lack of technical skills? Please share your story and what it took to overcome the gap!

Learn About Building Tools w/APIs and WordPress Optimization: #Pubcon

Pubcon is only a few days away and you need to start planning which sessions you will be attending! Our own Brian LaFrance will be speaking in two important sessions you don’t want to miss:

How to Build Tools Using APIs

Wednesday October 8,  10:30a 11:30a –  Salon C

Topics Covered

  • Why you should be using APIs to create your own tools
  • Who should be using APIs
  • How you can use APIs even without knowing how to write code
  • Examples of data mashups
  • How to manage an API for your clients if you are a data provider

WordPress Optimization

Wednesday October 8, 3:50p 04:50pSalon A

Topics Covered

  • How to get set up with the right hosting for your site
  • Security Best Practices
  • Designing for Mobile Users
  • Improve Site Speed
  • Integrating Social

See You There!

Come up and meet the AuthorityLabs crew and participate in our Pubcon Scavenger Hunt!

Check out our Pubcon survival tips

Your Online Marketing Success Begins With Goal-Setting

goal-settingYour days are spent worrying about how to continue delivering a product to your customers without increasing prices or losing market share to hungry, well-funded competitors. Your nights are filled with thoughts of what happens if you cannot continue to meet those ever-increasing demands. How long could you meet payroll? How many people could you layoff without hurting the business? Would you have to look to investors for help?

But at this moment your biggest concern is ,“Why in the hell am I sitting in a 9 am meeting being asked to discuss ‘quarterly goals’ for online marketing?”

We know what you’re thinking:

  • Increase revenue
  • Increase profits from revenue
  • Grow customer base to increase revenue, which makes it possible to increase profits from revenue
  • Repeat

What if we told you that the meeting you’re sitting in could be one of the most important meetings you’ll ever attend? What if we told you that the details you could hash out in the next hour could reshape your company and the role it plays in the current market? What if we told you that goals—not social media, not data, not tools—are what your company needs most desperately as it relates to online marketing?

Well, that’s what we are telling you.

Goals Might Be A Tough Sell, But They Are An Indispensable Asset

Online marketing is a point of emphasis for untold numbers of business, and for good reason: Web visibility can equate to more customers, more products sold and more revenue. But the path to success is far from linear, which is where goals come into play.

The No. 1 question asked by business owners who jump into online marketing is “Where do we start?”

whatThe only viable answer is “with goals.”

I admit, the first time this line of thinking was shared with me—during Mozcon 2013 by Mackenzie Fogelson of Mack Web—I was taken aback. Like many others in the audience, I immediately thought “There has to be more to it.” I was right.

There is much, much more to online marketing. But, goals do come first. Here is why, we are swimming in a sea of information, with more tools and platforms than we’ll ever have time to use. We have data up to our eyeballs, personnel strewn across the planet and enough ideas to fill up a college textbook.

All of this information often leads to the thinking that everything is important. It’s not. There is a clear pecking order as it pertains to what your business should focus on at any given time. Creating clear, definable goals ensures everyone is on the same page at the same time.

What Gets Measured Gets Managed

What you assign importance to becomes the priority.

The process begins with a little exercise:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • What impact is that likely to have?
  • Who needs to be involved?
  • What will you need to measure to track performance?
  • What constitutes success?
  • What’s the next step after accomplishing this goal?

Let’s say your business is dipping its toe into social media. You’d love to see some movement on what you consider to be the three most important platforms for your business: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Your goals could look something like this:

  • Hire one full-time employee to man social media
  • Grow Twitter followers by 10 percent over the next 90 days
  • See Facebook Likes increase by 15 percent over the next 90 days
  • Grow Instagram engagement by 20 percent in the following 90 days
  • Increase social shares from the company blog by 50 percent in three months

You’ll notice several important elements in this fictional example.

  • Time element: An established time-lime for completing the goal(s) is an imperative. This creates a sense of urgency and of purpose, but mainly it makes everyone aware that the task at hand is the priority for the allotted period of time.
  • Personnel: Your staff needs to be clear on who’s responsible for helping attain this goal. Empowering teams members to help move the needle is ideal, but the key players must have the authority to advance the charge without others second-guessing them. A formal meeting making everyone aware of what’s happening and who the main players are could prove invaluable.
  • How success will be measured: The term goals might sound nebulous, but they are anything but. Assign a value, metric to them, and you can track them with ease. Rigidity is not the priority here. Be realistic about what can be accomplished in the predetermined time frame, while understanding that significant movement in the direction of a specific goal is tantamount to success. (For example, increasing social shares from the blog by 37 percent as opposed to 50 percent could still be viewed as a success.)

Your first priority is determining what your goals should be, which brings us back to “Where do we start?”

I tell business owners to start with a goal that can significantly impact the business but that won’t sap resources they cannot afford to expend. It could be as simple as posting a weekly blog or as involved as launching a responsive-design website.

Whatever goals you choose, they must comprise three core elements, which I’ve dubbed the “3 M’s Of Goal-Setting”:

  • Measurable: There must be concrete metrics in place by which your team’s performance toward the goal can be measured against. Strive to be as specific and as transparent as possible so everyone knows what they are working toward.
  • Manageable: Refrain from setting goals that are clearly out of the reach, either for the time frame or for the team you have assembled. Make certain to devote the necessary resources to the task.
  • Meaningful: When CEOs ask “Where do we start?” I always answer with “What will have the biggest impact on your business over the next three months?” This helps to identify hot-button issues. I suggest you do the same. Think of (a) what you most need to get done in the next 90 days and (b) what, of the things you could accomplish in that time-frame, would be the biggest positive for the business.

It’s easy to read this post and think, “That sounds too easy. What impact could it really have?” What I love about the goal-identifying/goal-setting-approach is it drives focus inside of an organization. Everyone knows what the priorities are, so it’s much harder for individuals or teams to get off task.

I hope you’ll give this technique the good old college try. I know from first-hand experience how successful it can be.

Google Analytics & Screaming Frog – How to Series – Part 2

At the end of this tuTORIal you will know how to export Screaming Frog data, Google Analytics data, and then bring them together based on whichever value you choose. I will be covering:

  • VLOOKUPs
  • Basic Formatting
  • Conditional Formatting
  • Find and Replace tool
  • Navigating in Google Analytics
  • Navigating in Screaming Frog

Check out part 1 of this series.

ga

Many Internet Marketers have heard of Annie Cushing’s amazing Site Audit Checklist. (If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should.) One of the many tips she released was to make sure that your landing pages are no more than three clicks from the homepage. This level metric is one of the data points we will be pulling in from Screaming Frog, along with Status Codes.

Here is the first part of the video tutorial walk-through. I broke this up into two sections to make it easier for people who have skills in one department over the other. It covers how to export the data you need from Screaming Frog and Google Analytics.

Here is the flip book version!

Step 1 – Enter in the site address you would like to analyze and click start.

step1

Step 2 – Once the report has finished, export the internal tab by selecting the HTML option and then clicking export.

step3

Step 3 –  Export the Organic landing pages from Google Analytics. To do this, navigate to Acquisition > Keywords > Organic > Landing Page. Change the rows option to include all of your rows and then select csv export.

step2

Step 4 – Copy the Google Analytics data and paste it into a Raw Data tab on your dashboard document.

step5.5

Step 5 – Do the same with the Screaming Frog data.

step5

Step 6 – With all the data together, leave the Raw Data tab untouched from formatting or formulas. Next, bring over the data you would like to have in your dashboard.

Screaming Frog: Address, Level, Status Code

GA: Landing Page, Sessions, % New Sessions, Bounce Rate, Avg. Session Duration

step6

Part 2 – Formatting and Formulas

Step 7 – First and foremost, turn off those gridlines! I know, I’m a broken record.

After pulling in the data to the Calculated Data tab, separate them into two tables. In the first data set (GA), add in two columns one for each of the Vlookup formulas.

Next, you’ll need to Find and Replace the http://authoritylabs.com to switch the Screaming Frog export’s URLs to URIs. To do this, press CTRL + F and select the Replace tab.

step4.4

Step 8 – Now you’re ready to write your Vlookup.

  • 1st: Select the value you would like to look for. In this case, it’s the homepage or the URI “/”.
  • 2nd: Select the range of cells you would like to look for this value in. That would be the Data Set 2 table. Lock down those values by selecting M5:U129 and pressing F4.
  • 3rd: Select the column that has the value you would like to retrieve. (In this case it’s the second column.)
  • 4th: Type in the word FALSE which means that you want an exact match.
step12

Step 9 – Repeat the process for the Status Code column. Remember to switch the column number to 4.

step13

Step 10 - Now that you’ve pulled over the data you want. Select the first data set and bring it over to the Dashboard tab. To do this without messing up your formula values, copy and paste special > values only.

step14

Step 12 – Select the data set and format as a table to get the filtering options.

step16

Step 13 – Then filter the levels from smallest to largest. This will put all the “N/A” values at the end of the table.

step17

Step 14 – Delete or Hide the rows that don’t have values.

step18

Step 15 – Select the New Sessions column and under the Home tab select Conditional Formatting > Data bars.

Continue to do this with different colored bars for Sessions, Bounce Rate, and Avg. Session Duration.

step19

Step 16 – You can do basically the same thing for bounce rate, but instead select the icon set.

step21

Step 17 – Only one problem. Bounce rate has opposite values as positive. So you will need to switch the positives to negatives. Luckily, Excel gives an easy fix to this. Manage Rules > Double-click on the Icon Set > Reverse Icon Order > Okay.

step23

Step 18 – To add in a custom format for scratch, select the column > Conditional Formatting > New Rule > Format only cells that contain.

From there select a cell value that is equal to = 200. 200 is a good status code, so I format it as blue.

step24

Step 19 – You can do the same thing for the Level metric and set the values that were greater than 3 to red.

step29

Step 20 - Now you’re finished! Go forth and make your own awesome report!

AuthorityLabs 2014 Pubcon Vegas Scavenger Hunt

Pubcon-VegasIt is time to return to Vegas and we all want to win! Starting Monday, October 6, we will be posting tasks on Twitter and this page so you have an opportunity to win, without gambling.

The first person to complete each task will win a prize such as cash, free drinks, a free AuthorityLabs account and there is even a grand mystery prize!  If you are not the first person to complete a task, we will still have AuthorityLabs t-shirts, pint glasses, and other goodies to give out until we run out.

Who will beat last year’s winner, Greg Gifford?

The Hunt

The contest will start Monday evening and run through midnight Wednesday night. The first tasks will go live on Twitter around 7 PM Monday. Keep an eye on our feed for more information!

How to Find Us

The AuthorityLabs team will be at the conference and official Pubcon networking events. Team members you can look for include:

We suggest you check out the pictures of our team members so you can find them easily. Team members will be, off and on, at the Breeze Bar in TI (and if anyone wants to pick up tattoos, shirts, hats, pint glasses, etc. find us here before supplies run out). We will also be at Epic Dinner on Monday night and will have some things with us like AuthorityLabs tattoos. You can also find us wondering the halls and sessions at the conference and you can find Brian in these two sessions:

The Prizes

Prizes will include cash, free drinks, AuthorityLabs accounts, a few mystery prizes and a grand prize that we will announce soon. The first person to complete 10 of the items on the list will win an awesome prize.  Prizes for each task will be for the person first to finish and the 2nd and 3rd finishers will get a mystery prize.

More Info Coming Soon

Watch our Twitter feed and our blog for upcoming information!

Check out our Pubcon survival tips

What are the tasks so far?

TaskPrizesWinner
Picture with AL swag in front of the M&M stock car1 Year free Pro AccountLindsay Mineo
Picture jumping with the Bellagio Fountains$50 in chipsAshley Ward
Picture of a large alcoholic drink, better if it’s orangeDrinks on us!*Samara Hart
Pose with a chapel wedding prop in an AL tshirt$50Ashley Ward
Pose your favorite Caesar’s Palace statue1 Year free Pro AccountLindsay Mineo
Tweet a picture with at least 100 orange m&msMystery prizeAshley Ward
Tweet a picture of a Gondola or on a GondolaDrinks on us!*Ashley Ward
A selfie with someone’s hair that won’t fit in the shotMystery prizeDan Bagby
A photo of a performer who has an orange costume$50Dan Bagby
A picture of the AL tattoo the size of the Eiffel TowerDrinks on us!*Greg Gifford
Tweet a picture with an orange poker chip$50 in chipsAshley Ward
A photo with a performer covered in sparklesDrinks on us!*Greg Gifford & Ashley Ward!
Tweet a selfie on the NY-NY rollercoaster1 Year free Pro Account
A photo of the orange leaves at The Palazzo’sMystery prize
A photo with Mike’s AL tattoo next to your AL tattoo$50 Greg Gifford
A photo with a tourist in a hawaiian shirt while wearing your AL shirt 1 Year free Pro Account
A photo of an orange Hard Rock Hotel guitar pick $50 Greg Gifford
A photo of you with a showgirl in AL swag Mystery Prize Ashley Ward
A photo posing like one of the neon signs on the strip $100 Ashley & Lindsay
A photo of two AL employee’s tattoos $100 Greg Gifford

 

*Drinks for you and 3 friends at Breeze Bar

Giving A Damn Is Your Business’s Best Blogging Asset

It’s content marketing’s $64,000 question: “What does my company blog about?” No matter the size of the business, the knowledge of the staff or the access to resources, this question inevitably comes up. It makes sense, when you consider businesses who blog receive 55 percent more web traffic per month than those who do not.

Having a blog not only makes it possible for you to engage with and share content with your audience, it also allows you to educate prospects about your products and services as a means of priming the pump: When they are ready to buy, they think of your business, the one whose content they have encountered, whose website they have visited and whose products and/or services they are now familiar with.

The Benefits Of Blogging

(Image courtesy of HubSpot)

Successful Blogging Starts With Giving A Damn

The success or failure of your blog, however, rests on a decision you make—or choose not to make—well before you ever put words on a page.

You must decide to give a damn. You must be so committed to placing your prospects’ and existing clients’ needs ahead of your business’s needs that you use their goals as a beacon for any and all content efforts.

One of the dirty little secrets of content marketing is tactics and strategy alone don’t win. Yes, they help get the ball down the field, but tactics and strategy have to be guided by something.

That something is a commitment to…

  • Better knowing your audience
  • Better interacting with your audience
  • Better serving your audience

The way to meaningfully get noticed is to care more about meeting your audience’s needs than the competition. Several months ago, while putting together a content strategy for a large health and fitness brand, I was asked “What about the blog? What should we blog about?”

The company was rebranding and adding a consumer blog to the website. I shared with the global marketing manager that the surest way to gain ground on the competition and build up good will with prospects was to deliver information that added value to the latter’s lives, and that meant putting them first early and often.

Instead of blogs about the company or its products, blogs would be written about people.

  • “How Janet McMillan Prepares For A Marathon Less Than Three Months After The Birth Of Her Fourth Child.”
  • Not “Ways Our Products Can Help You Prepare For Your Next Race.”

Which one would you read? The one that shows you the business gives a damn, right?

To win your customers over and score big in the content marketing race, commit to giving a damn before you do anything else.

Find out…

  •  Who they are.
  •  What they care about.
  •  How your business can help them accomplish their goals.

Early on, this process is rather easy and simplistic.  Spend some time brainstorming about the people who would potentially be your customers.

Are they men or women? Where do they likely live? What income do they likely enjoy? Where do they spend the majority of their non-work-related time?

From there, you’d place yourself in their shoes, looking to discern what makes them tick: Family? Sports? Career? Travel? Etc.

Give A Damn(Photo credit: ShellyS via photopin cc)

Customers Are Waiting For Brands To Talk To Them, Not At Them

Keep in mind that this process is wholly iterative. You will refine and revise this approach with time and as you gather more information. The goal is to harness enough information for you to market intelligently to prospects.

So, when you sit down to write a blog the process takes shape naturally:

  • Who am I writing this for?
  • What are his/her needs?
  • How can our brand make him/her the hero?

In the case of the fitness brand, the answers looked something like this:

  • A 32-year-old mother of two girls
  • The ability to train in her home
  • By offering a low-cost exercise option that can be used in the home but stores easily and requires less than 45 minutes a day to get a training effect.

As you can imagine, blog content began to flow easily from team members.

  • “How To Exercise For 3o Minutes A Day Without Leaving Your Home”
  • “Ways To Get Your Before-Baby Body Without Leaving Home To Exercise”
  • “Work Up A Sweat While The Kiddies Are Napping”

What began as “What should we blog about? took shape as Who are we talking to? What are their needs? How can we help them?” Your company can follow a similar outline. All it requires is that you you give a damn and drop the brand-first thinking.

What do you say? Ready to give it a try?