Get Digital STL

Evolve Digital Labs and Gorilla 76 teamed up to produce Get Digital.

Making the Plan at Get Digital

Derek kicked off the seminar by emphasizing the importance of designating a manageable starting point. We are overwhelmed by the number of digital mediums available. The standards, Twitter, Facebook, and the company blog, are not easy to control all at once. Additionally, it seems that more and more applications, tools, and social media sites are becoming relevant a such as Foursquare, Pinterest, and Google+. How in the world can a brand handle this much work? It’s exhausting and time-consuming.

 

In his presentation, Derek made it clear that you should start with what you can manage. What is the goal of your digital engagement? To increase sales in a particular service or product? To get more traffic to your website? Start with one channel that you can comfortably control. If it’s a blog, focus on that. If your strength is Twitter, condense all social activity to that one platform. Continue with this strategy until you are familiar with the routine and capable of reaching the set goals.

Additionally, if creating content online isn’t easy or natural for you, find the members of your brand who excel at it. Derek mentioned that nearly 50% of young adults between the ages of 18-24 are actively producing content online already. If there are members of your team who fit into this demographic and possess this valuable skill, why not utilize their experience for your brand?

In order to make sure the social involvement is a wise investment and not just hit-or-miss, you must first create a tactical plan. Using the same “one-channel” mindset, start with simple weekly content plans that focus on one area. It sounds cliché, but it’s the truth: brands should opt for baby steps before diving headfirst into social engagement.

 

SEO at Get Digital

After a quick Q&A session, Derek returned to the stage to kick off his Search segment by explaining the difference between “black hat” and “white hat” SEO techniques. It’s simple: “black hat” SEO is quick, easy, and short-lived. “White hat” tactics, however, take more time and effort, but they naturally result in lingering success. Because the former is the easier way out, many SEO “experts” convince their clients to participate in link buying, rather than ranking organically over time. But does that actually work?

Optimization is all about connectivity. By creating content and building activity, your site and brand will grow in awareness, drawing in a greater portion of potential customers. Derek compared how Google views websites to an airplane terminal map. The larger terminals are the ones that have the most activity because they have the most connectivity. Websites are measured exactly the same. When you create awesome content, people will naturally link to your site, revealing to Google your level of influence.

Where do you start with content? Start with keywords, which are essentially the power tools of your website. They connect you with your consumer. Even if you’re not ranking well for every keyword on your list, you can still focus on the few that you are ranking for and aim to refine your success.  It’s important to note, however, that content should truly be for the consumer. They’re the ones who will be digesting it. Don’t write for search engines.

Measuring and Analytics

There is an overwhelming amount of data you can garner from analytics, but in reality, only a small portion of that should be measured. What exactly do we mean by measuring? There are tools available that can capture all kinds of data about your website visitors. Here’s an overview of what you can measure from your site:

  • Referral traffic
  • Organic traffic
  • Performance of on-site content
  • Conversions
  • Even through social channels, you can measure your followers’ level of engagement.
  • Reach (the number of people who are seeing your tweets)
  • Resonance (what type of content are people receptive to?)
  • Network (are you talking to influencers?)
  • Search Engine measurements:
  • Rankings
  • Cost Per Click
  • Cost per lead
  • Visibility

Having access to this information is what makes digital marketing relevant, accurate, and powerful. Sometimes, though, it feels like too much information. How do you know which metrics to monitor and which to ignore (at least for the present)” Quite simply, you just have to define your specific business goals. Once those are clearly outlined, it will be easier to determine which measurements directly apply to your progress.

For example, if your business goal is awareness, it might be worth measuring social shares and Google rankings. Don’t forget to return to your website, though. As beneficial as social media sites are, your website is yours to use however you want (e.g. for measuring opportunity for keywords, content, and influencers). The most important thing to take away from Joe’s presentation is that these online tools, such as Google Analytics, allow you to customize which data they capture and emphasize, providing you with a clearer understanding of how to reach your goals. Digital marketing is so capable because it can yield real-time insights.

PPC at Get Digital

Derek began by explaining that Google’s algorithm, the process by which it sorts and presents results (among other things), is a very complicated one to understand. If you want to use Google AdWords successfully, you have to actually know what you’re getting into. Business owners who start up a campaign in AdWords typically move forward with Google’s pre-defined settings. But is that necessarily what’s best? For example, Derek mentioned that Google might suggest you allow your ads to be shown on mobile devices. Sounds great, right? More spread, larger audience. But what do you think the chance is of someone converting if you don’t even have a mobile version of your site? Slim to nada. Google wants your money, so they’re going to suggest the configuration that works best for them.

Non-believers of PPC haven’t succeeded in the search engine marketing realm. If you can grasp what it takes to harness the available resources and develop a holistic plan, then you will increase your ROI. Paid search allows brands the unique opportunity to reach users that are already interested, and even actively seeking a solution. We like that.

Killer Content

Jon Franko of Gorilla 76 took the stage to discuss the importance of creating and producing killer content online.

Jon started off with a simple question: what is content? What falls under that category? Answer: a lot of things! Quotes, photos, copy, links, audio, and video, to be exact. While it has turned into a bit of a buzzword, content can be summed up as any kind of messaging that you push out a whether on Facebook, a company blog, or even Instagram. Good content is not easy to generate a but Jon suggests that you first take time to simply listen to what is already available. Industry influencers, respected publications - they already generate relevant, useful information. Digest the content they create and then help them promote it. This act alone will increase the value of your presence in the social channels.

Once you start developing your own killer content, you might reach a plateau. It can be difficult to think of blog topics on the spot or throw a decent infographic together. What Jon recommends is to designate a Rip and Reserve folder. This can be a physical one that you keep near your desk or one that resides within your computer. It might even be handy to utilize both. Whenever Jon comes across an interesting idea, article, etc., he adds it to the Rip and Reserve folder so he can revisit later and possibly create something from it. This is a useful concept for organizing and storing inspiration.

Finally, Jon pointed out that arguably the most important part of producing good content is to do so on a consistent basis. If you ever want to become an expert in your industry, or at least accrue some sort of following, you have to produce content regularly. Follow those content calendars!

The show could not be pulled off without the help of a couple of talented and dedicated teams. So thanks from us at Evolve to the folks over at Gorilla 76. We owe the success to those guys and what they bring to this partnership. We could not imagine pulling this off without the dedication from our partners in Get Digital.

Google, the Game Changer.

Google certainly makes searching easy for us, doesn’t it? All we have to do is type in the first letter and suddenly the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is pulled up, revealing the results for whatever is currently displayed in the search bar. For example, when I type “f” for “Finland,” Google automatically displays the results for the “F” SERP – of course, it’s dominated by Facebook. Even when I continue my search, “Finl,” Google updates the SERP to show the result for what I would eventually type: “Finland.” It’s pretty convenient, I suppose, but there’s also a darker side to this situation.

How is Google changing the game? Manipulating which key phrases are searched.
To be blunt, Google has started to take over. I sometimes imagine Google as an older sibling who thinks he is looking out for our best interests a but really, doesn’t always understand what we want. And all HE wants is our allowance. Especially for those whose jobs are to help companies rank for particular keywords (like us at Evolve), it doesn’t help that Google is completing searchers’ sentences, thus leading them to specific SERPs. This truly might seem insignificant to some of you, or anyone who is unaware of how much companies rely on the analytics pulled from Google, but the reality is that Google’s new suggestions can cause users to word their searches differently than they would have if those additional search queries were not visible. For example, when I search for Edgar Allan Poe’s birthplace, Google offers a list of other suggestions: Edgar Allan Poe Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe Birth, etc.

Has its own best interest in mind.
I also want to bring attention to the fact that Google often shoves its own properties in the way of organically ranking terms. Local search is all good and well (ok, we love it), but it can sometimes take up half of the page. YouTube (which Google acquired in 2006) is often thrown into the mix as well. Again, this might not seem like a big deal until you realize that it seems a bit shady for the Goog to drive traffic to its own sites, rather than making room for other deserving sites to rank organically. It just seems strange… and kind of selfish.

Hiding Results of Gmail Users.
Let’s not forget that Google recently decided to obscure the searches of anyone logged into his or her Gmail account. What this means is that site owners will never know that I came to their site, nor which terms I Googled in order to get there, since I rarely log out of my Gmail account. To SEO experts, this is devastating. Such useful insight could reveal which terms were most frequently inputted, as well as other interesting data – like which pages were visited, and for how long. Suddenly this information is stripped from us, seemingly for no reason. We love the Goog. Ya hear that, G? We love you. How could we not? It makes our job possible. But lately, it’s been making our job sort of impossible, and we can’t help but wonder what Google will become in the next 5 years. Let me point out that Google is not the only search engine that is changing the game. Yahoo and Bing will show the results for “New York” if you type “New Yrok.” Maybe this is just the natural evolution of this industry, but the shadier tactics (like hiding the data of logged-in Gmail users) isn’t cool.

What ways have you found Google to be manipulating/ sneakily changing the world of Search?