Archive for the ‘studies’ Category
Here is a quick look at some strategies I employed last week to help get a slightly popular jobs ad on jobsinireland.org (btw. if you have a job to advertise in Ireland, check it out, it’s free, and the applications go directly to you) more popular and shared more. The background of the story is that last week the Pope decided to resign, and I thought it could be a bit of fun to put together a job description for the pope and to see if it could become popular.
1 – Seeding on social networks
sharing buttons on jobsinireland.org
In most cases it helps if you have your own social presence, which will help share your new content and to get the ball rolling. With content like this, which has a particular time sensitivity, you want to get it seen as fast as possible, by as many people as possible, and using your own twitter, linkedin, facebook profiles will help. You simply don’t have the time for people to ‘organically discover’ your content.
Your followers on these networks are likely to be the first people to share this content to their networks. Having an existing and good relationship with your network will encourage people share your content with their networks. People are inherently lazy and want a one click solution to share things quickly, so the inclusion widgets from these social networks on the page is highly important. If it’s too difficult to share they will just click the back button, and go on with their day.#
I also found that posting about the attention it got also helped more and more people to see the post. So don’t just tweet or post once. I posted about the running numbers of likes and tweets, rather than repeating my self about the jobs post itself. If you are going to re-share the URL you should think of new ways to share it again, so people who haven’t checked it out yet may be pushed into visiting, e.g.
2- Advanced seeding steps with twitter
The main differences between discovery on Facebook and twitter, is the public nature of the timeline on twitter. You are not limited to finding things to read just by your friends if you use the twitter discover tool (or the search tool on hashtages). This serendipity along with #hashtags and @replies can help you get your content seen by more people. I found some of the more popular tweets (ones with the most favorites and re-tweets) about the topic, like this one from the former ABC news journalist Ryan Sheales @RyanSheales , and I replied to it directly
This was in an effort to jump on the number of people who would see this tweet, and possible check out the replies to it. Of course tracking the ROI for this type of action is a little bit difficult, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt. Here is some more examples
3- Contact blogs
Another way to get traffic, and new viewers is to see if you can get some coverage from popular news blogs. I contacted a few Irish ones that I thought would be interested in the post like, Joe.ie, Balls.ie, TheJournal.ie to see if they could be intrigued enough to write about it. Of the 6 emails I sent, 1 site picked up on it, thanks joe.ie, and was the also the reason for the 2nd surge in stats over the weekend (see next section).
4- Improve & revise the content
Over the course of the day I received a few comments and ideas about the job description. There was some imagery flying around facebook & twitter, which I added the best ones of these to the post to make it easier on the eyes. Tweaking your content, and expanding on it to give more value, once you know it’s working, can help increase the number of shares. Again this is hard to measure, but by increasing the value of the post, people are more likely to share it.
Over all the job has received around 4,000 unique views in the space of a week. I found that :
- had the potential to quickly deliver large numbers of readers (at one stage we had over 100 concurrent readers)
- only a few readers re-tweeted or wrote their own tweets to share the story
- 800 visitors came via t.co (twitter URL shortener) links
- URL has been tweeted 84 times
- delivered a steady stream of users
- the average facebook user was much more likely to share or like the post
- 712 visitors came via facebook.com, 531 came via m.facebook.com (facebook on mobile platform)
- URL has been liked or shared 972 times
- google plus
- wasn’t great for driving traffic with only 5 attributed visitors from that source
- blogs (joe.ie)
- 470 visitors came via Joe.ie
- a great way to get extra traffic from an audience that is open to this type of news#
- resulted in 7 more tweets & 24 more likes
- direct (?)
- in google analytics if there isn’t a referring URL present then it will group these together under (direct) as source.
- one theory on this could be people using 3rd party twitter clients.
- 802 people visited directly
- a number of the referral URLs contains hints that the users may have visited via email
- this is something that probably wasn’t used to it’s potential seeing as we didn’t have an easy way to share via the page email.
- other sources included various forums, reddit.com which were achieved organically
Here are three quick tools for checking the social stats of URLS
Basic Facebook stats
Checks : number of shares (cumulative likes, comments, shares)
Advanced Facebook stats
Checks : number of shares (individual likes, comments, shares)
Basic Twitter stats
Checks : number of tweets (cumulative tweets and retweets)
As I was checking the facebook shares over the course of the day, I did see that the number sometimes would fluctuate down. I’m not entirely sure as to why this number would decrease over time, it could be attributed to people deleting the shared article from their wall, or removing their comments.
Visit & Share !
If you’ve found this article helpful, maybe you can visit the pope job description, and possibly share with your network.
In the past few weeks I’ve been looking at some aspects of the website reviews, and their effect on SEO, and real conversion. I looked into the whole landscape of social metrics and saw that for similar businesses some had 10′s of reviews, while others barely have a dozen. There had to be a reason why some businesses seemed to be attracting more reviews than others, and I doubted it was really because they had ‘the sticker’ on their door. There are ways of getting reviews both legitimate and more underhanded. This could be anything from
- reminding past customers with a follow up email that you’d like to hear their thoughts on your business
- asking for reviews at the bottom of your newsletter
- having a terminal near your hotel checkout and asking people to write a review while you check them out
- using a review widget on your website
- paying for reviews to a third party service
- creating your own fake accounts and posting reviews.
- incentivising customers for reviews
Rules on Reviews
In TripAdvisor’s Rules (typo their own) it states :
No reviews written by ownership or management; including current or past employees, or anyone associated with/related to employees of tthe property with which they are affiliated.
So that clears up employees posting reviews. But what about incentivising reviews, it’s not mentioned there, but I’m sure it’s frown upon. I found on a page not linked from their rules, it says
I was offered an incentive for a review – is that ok?
No. Property owners are welcome to encourage their guests to submit user reviews upon their return home, but they are not allowed to offer incentives, discounts, upgrades, or special treatment on current or future stays in exchange for reviews. If someone has offered you an incentive for a review, please tell us about it.
So there you have it, generally it is seems dodgy, leave it out.
Real reviews gone bad
Even if you manage to get a real review, as a business there are certain ways you should react to it and certain ways you shouldn’t react to them. This could have a more catastrophic effect on your business. It’s true that reviews can make or break a business, especially for hotels, bars, restaurants and other service industries where people use that type service infrequently or while on holiday.
But everyone is doing it
Sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Qype and Google Places do take these issues seriously and have moved to try and bring them under control, all with varying amounts of success. According to Gartner they predict that 15% of online reviews will be fake by 2014. But according to the LATimes this number is closer to 40% right now.
It seems that’s there are less scrupulous businesses out their manipulating these review sites. I’m sure there are shill accounts from businesses that post positive reviews about them selves. Or even worse, they might even post less than positive reviews about their competitors.
There are even review services, like the screenshot below, that you can pay for reviews, or if you are on a budget you can pay someone $5 on fiverr to do it.
fake tripadvisor example
This is clearly the high risk approach to promoting your business.
Fake reviews on blogs
Here is an email that I got today, and it really is sad to see, but it should act as a reminder than any review you read, not just from the main review sites, could have an alternative motive for posting.
You’ve built a new app for iPhone. It’s ready; it’s what the market needs. You’ve done a great job! So what now?
The single MOST important thing you can do when you release a new app is obtain quality 5 star reviews. It will make the difference between actively growing and having an app that gets lost in the crowd.
What I do – I provide app reviews for apps in the following categories:
- - Education
- - Food & Drink
- - Health & Fitness
- - Lifestyle
- - Photography
- - Shopping
- - Social Networking apps
I have THE strongest blogger review network for these app categories.
*Important – I only submit reviews for apps that deserve 5 stars and your app is a strong candidate.
I have 2 services that I am offering at 50% for this week:
iTunes App Store Reviews – 20 new 5 star iTunes App Store reviews with comments. Price $99
Home Page Review – I will personally write a 200 word review of your app and post it to my blog home page lechateaudesfleurs.blogspot.com which has over 2800 Mommy Blogger followers. I will also post to my Facebook account, Pinterest account, Google + and my Twitter account. Price $79
In fact, I am so confident in these reviews that if they do not create significant momentum for your app I will refund the entire review cost. I look forward to hearing from you!!!
My nickname is Frenchy. I am French, born and raised in Paris, France…Live in Utah with hubby and 4 Darling kids. Blogger, designer, photographer, fashionista, decorator, crafter, cook, gardener…
Visit my blog here: http://lechateaudesfleurs.blogspot.com
Fake followers, Fake likes, fake fakes
And it’s not just reviews that are actively being manipulated on the web, twitter followers, facebook likes, google plus votes, etc. Seeing the ‘facebook thumbs up’ for a few hundred people does add a certain level of confidence to a shopper. If hundreds of anonymous people like something, it has to be safe, right ? So you can see why business would chase these metrics. We’ve even seen cases where people have manipulated the like button to look like the like widget, but it’s actually just a static image, check http://likefake.com if you are curious.
Sites like Google & Facebook are aware that there are fake accounts, in their SEC filing Facebook said they have around 9% fake accounts. In numbers that’s about 80+ million accounts.
fake twitter account example
Don’t be tempted
Whether you are a blogger being offered to post a review, or a business tempted in gaming the social signals, be warned it’s likely you will be found out, possibly fined and at risk of being blacklisted by the services or penalised on google.
If you or your business use twitter or facebook, and you want to track how many people click on your URL on your profile, you may find this little post of help. Basically you create a redirect in your .htaccess file that sends them to your page with a little extra Google Analytics tracking code added in. This post is similar to how you can track QR code uses which I blogged about before.
Tracking with Google Analytics and HTACCESS
What we do is we use a different URL, like blackdog.ie/t/ & blackdog.ie/fb/ for our twitter and facebook profiles. Then we redirect this via a line on our htaccess file to push it to the home page while adding the extra tracking code for Google Analytics to know where these visitors came from.
redirect 301 /t http://www.blackdog.ie/?utm_medium=social-media&utm_campaign=profile+blackdog&utm_source=twitter
Note : don’t forget to change your own domain name from our one & make sure this appears all on one line in your .htaccess file.
This will add a custom campaign, which can be viewed under: Traffic Sources >> Sources >> Campaigns.
Google Analytics Social Tracking
Google Analytics does track social referrals, but these include other people posting links to your site, not just people viewing your profile and coming that way. To see your social media visitors on Google Analytics, go to Traffic Sources >> Social >> Overview
Here is a typical thing you will see here
You can drill down further to see where exactly these sources are coming from.
So you’ve gone to the trouble of hiring a SEO company, the next question is how to you measure their effectiveness ? Has the onsite and offsite changes they’ve done had any impact ? It’s natural to want to see what the return on your investment is, and it’s important that you understand what the numbers really mean.
Often companies will tell you are ranking for X number of new keywords, which in itself tells you nothing. These words are useless unless they are driving traffic (and converting) to your site. The actual improvement can be hard to see unless you specifically look at organic traffic in your statistical package.
In Google Analytics you can filter just for organic traffic, so paid, direct type-in and referral traffic isn’t counted. It’s a little hidden in the control panel, so to help you we’ve outlined the steps : Go to
This would be the first step. Then you need to compare it against a base level. Here we’ve compared the current month to the previous month.
Your Organic Traffic
Here we see that the number of organic traffic is up by over 70%. The next stage is to check to see how many keywords are delivering traffic to us. Generally it’s better to be ranking for more keywords.
How many keywords do I rank for ?
If you unclick compare to past in the dates field and select Organic under Overview on the left hand side menu.
At the bottom of the right of the table (highlighted in green) you will see the number of keywords that brought you traffic for that period of time.
Technically this shows you only the keywords that drive traffic to you. And a good starting point would be to look at where you are ranking for these to see if you can move up a further 1 or 2 places. In our case there are over 2000 different unique keywords delivering traffic so this should be a good starting point to work on in the next few months. You will also find that once you focus on these keywords, you will also start to get traffic from even more keywords, so it’s a cycle that will never end !
A sudden drop in the number of keywords you rank for is a good indicator of a google penalty being applied.
A big thanks goes to my clients for allowing me to share these graphs, you guys rock !
If you are using QR codes in any type of offline marketing, then it would be a good idea to have some way of tracking these users that come onto your website. One quick way is to achieve this via a HTTP redirect. This redirect would then push people to the right page with some extra tracking code tacked on the end of it. QR readers generally display the destination URL when they decode the QR code, and having something long and complicated may hinder you users from visiting.
One further advantage of bringing users to a QR code with a redirect, is that you can easily change the URL in the future if the campaign changes, or is no longer open. Here you would have the option to show a special notice, or redirect again to a newer campaign.
Code to track QR codes
This code will allow you to track users in Google Analytics by what medium they came from, and you will be able to segment them based on this usage. Below is the code located at http://www.blackdog.ie/q/index.php.
// Fill out and change
$url = "http://www.blackdog.ie/"; // your website name
$medium = "QRcode"; // type of marketing medium
$campaign = "NewsPaperAd"; // name of your campaign
$content= "ad1"; // use to differentiate different ads
$source= "IrishTimes+QR+code+redirect"; // name of your source publication
$term = ""; // if you are focusing on keywords
// That's enough editing
// no need to edit below
$builtURL = $url."?utm_medium=".$medium."&utm_campaign=".$campaign.
header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
exit; // Closes further script execution .
Test this URL
This should bring you to :
- http://www.blackdog.ie/q/ which will redirect you to
- http://www.blackdog.ie/blog/qr-codes-practice/, our post about QR codes, and it will also append the Google Analytics code to track people in the URL.
Create your own QR code for free
There are a few companies out there selling QR codes, probably to business who don’t really understand the technology. There is a free way to generate your QR code, just visit this website and enter the details of the destination URL.
If you have any other tips for business using QR codes, please share them with us in the comments.
P.S. : if you are doing any offline marketing then remember to put a QR code on your flyer, brochure, packaging, etc.
It can happen that your sitemap.xml or your robots.txt file finds it’s way into the index. Just do the following query site:yourdomain.com filetype:xml to see what XML files you have listed from your domain. Here is an example of some files indexed for the domain court.us.
It’s probably not what you really want, as basically it’s just trash in the SERPs. To fix this, and remove it from the SERPs, you can simply add some extra details to your .htaccess file which will send the the proper X-Robots-Tag.
For your .htaccess file
Header set X-Robots-Tag "noindex"
Header set X-Robots-Tag "noindex"
This method can also be used to remove all word documents or similar from the index.
Header set X-Robots-Tag "index, noarchive, nosnippet" </Files>
To check your MIME type
http://redbot.org/ is a handy tool to check out the MIME headers, cache control and FileTypes. Their code is opensource so you can run a version on your server.
Thanks to some people like Carlo Zottmann , JohnMu, & Paul Cawley for giving me some pointers on this.