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This week was all about link building and analytics.

Link building.
We read through the article Link Building for 2017 and Beyond and then watched/read How to Prioritize Your Link Building Efforts & Opportunities.

Basically, I found these articles discouraging. They spoke a lot about the value of link building with SEO, and about how to reach out to others to help build links to your site.  I will need to create some evergreen content (I found this helpful article about that) that is shareable and find places that will be interested in my content.  Because my site isn’t a blog or text-heavy site (it is a shop), I don’t have as much pull when it comes to trying to get people to link to me.  I’m toying with the idea of adding a blog to my website, but I’m not quite sure where to direct my focus.

Later in the week we watched the 30 minute video,  Getting Started with Google Analytics and read the article Interface Navigation.  The video was full of information on using Google Analytics and was easy to follow and understand, and the article was also a good brief introduction.  I found most of the information I was looking for on my own, however. It wasn’t too hard to figure out.

I discovered that my Star Wars Inspired Bath Towels ad had a click through rate of .1%, so I’ve decided attempting to advertise for my Star Wars inspired products is in vain and not worth my time or money.

Advertisement

This week we are talking about Social Media, continuing our discussion about SEO.

We began by reading the article 5 SEO Strategies for Social Media You Need to Know Before You Hit Publish.  This is an excellent article that has far more than 5 ideas to implement.  The 5 main points, however, are to

  1. Make your content segmented, searchable, snackable, and shareable
  2. Learn to speak spider
  3. Use social media meta tags wisely
  4. Use on-page metadata wisely
  5. Use an SEO-auditing tool (they recommend Yoast)— and understand its limitations

Two ideas that I will be implementing immediately on my site are to give each of my pages an HTML title and meta description that work as an “ad” in search results, and to create descriptive image titles and alt-tags.

The next article we read was 5 Steps to Creating a Successful Social Media Strategy for 2017.  I loved it. Key points:

  1. Clearly define your goals
  2. Identify your target audience
  3. Diversify your content- users want to read, look, watch, and listen
  4. Spend money on social media advertising
  5. Think mobile- make your content mobile-friendly

Next, we watched this video on How to Measure Social Media Traffic with Google Analytics.  You can use this information to see which of your social media posts are generating clicks to your site and then use that information to create similar posts or to know which posts to boost.

We finsihed the week by watching the video How To Create A Social Media Marketing Plan For The New Year and reading the article 5 Free Social Media Marketing Tools – The Expert’s Choice (my favorite suggestion is RightTag). We also read Wikipedia’s summary on Social media marketing.

We then laid out a plan to marketing on one platform. My outline is as follows:

Steps to market my business on Instagram

  1. Create an account for my business (done!)
  2. Invite friends and family to subscribe to my feed (done!)
  3. Create a monthly plan for content
    1. Look for movie releases, holidays, celebrity birthdays to include
    2. Promote new products with links to new listings
    3. Include videos- cooking “Han Burgers” while wearing Darth Vader mask & apron, etc.
    4. Showcase the creation process with photography
    5. Include sales and coupon codes with the plan
  4. Create content – find an app that will let me schedule posts for Instagram and do batches at a time so I don’t need to constantly be creating posts.  Set time aside on my calendar to create content.
  5. Use RiteTag to add relevant hashtags to my posts, and include short links (use Bitly if necessary)
  6. Link Instagram account to business Facebook page so posts will appear in both places (done!)
  7. Monitor user reactions to post in order to determine what to promote with paid advertising on either site (Facebook or Instagram).

Our optional reading included:

How Does Social Media Affect Search Marketing?

Omniture / Adobe webcast on Facebook and Twitter marketing

Guide to Using LinkedIn for Your Job Search

 

Because I haven’t been able to put the time into this class that I would like to, and because I’d like to do so in the future, I’m going to try and include more class content in these posts to help me remember what I need to do in the future.

This week we began by focusing on our landing page experience. We watched and read the following:
Does Your Landing Page Seal the Deal?Understanding Landing Page Experience and Basic Strategies for Optimizing Websites and Landing Pages.  This last one has some really great ideas, however I’d need some coding help to figure a few of them out.  I think my biggest problem right now is my ridiculously huge headers, meaning I need to either make new ones that encourage visitors to scroll down, or else I need to figure out a new SquareSpace template.  I can check what Google thinks about my landing page experience by signing in to my Adwords account, then, on the page menu, click Keywords. In the “Status” column, I can hover over each keyword’s status to learn about its performance.

Then we learned about creating experiments in Google Analytics to make sure that our pages give the best web experience.  With this tool you can create up to 10 versions of the same website and people go to your page will randomly be assigned one of them to view.  You can track which one performs the best and then have all users land at that version of the page.  More information on experiments is found here:

Benefits of ExperimentsRequirements & Sign InThe Content Experiments Interface, and Elements of an Experiment.

I certainly can’t take the time to do an experiment right now with my website, but I would really like to take advantage of this in the future.  Some ideas to try variations on would be:

  • Headlines and headers – this is something I’m in particular need to fixing
  • Images and icons
  • Text
  • Calls to action
  • Page layout

During the second half of the week we discussed search engine optimization (SEO).  This video link gives a great overview of what SEO is, and the article “A Visual Guide to Keyword Targeting and On-Page SEO” describes how to make it happen.

I determined through reading this that the 5 best things that I can do to optimize my site for search engines are:

  • Create unique value – I need to make sure I’m not offering the same thing that a user can get somewhere else, and if it is, I need mine to be better!
  • I need to create opportunities for my site/products to be shared naturally. This might mean Pin it links or Facebook share buttons for my products.
  • I need to make my site attractive and user friendly, and make sure it loads quickly. The UX of my site not only helps with higher search rankings, but is more likely to get conversions, shares, and links, as well.
  • I need to make sure that my page is bot and crawler accessible so that search engines can find the content on my site that I want them to.
  • Optimize keywords in a user-friendly way. While they may not be the #1 part of getting traffic, they do matter, and so if I can make sure to include my keywords in my titles, headlines, body text, and URLS, without becoming to repetitive or annoying to my users, this will help my SEO.

Finally, I’m excited to have this moz.com resource to help me find out which sites are linking to mine and determine how that part of my SEO is working. I’m excited to continue to look here as my business grows.

In the second discussion board we talked about the many different ways to make SEO work for us, and I was grateful for the ideas and suggestions that came from my peers as we discussed things like networking and using Pinterest to create backlinks to improve our sites.

The focus this week has been on cleaning up our ad campaigns and making sure that our keywords are performing for us the way that they should. We can do that by using the tools in Google AdWords to see what kind of results we are having with our ads.
Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to put the work necessary into this as I’ve been taking care of family obligations related to the death of my Grandmother this week. I’m hoping to go over all of this again next week so that I don’t waste my ad money!

This week in class we discussed the topics of relevance, Quality Score (in Google AdWords), and how to sign-up for Google Analytics and link it to our Google Adwords account.
Obviously, we are getting ready to begin our ad campaigns, and learning about how to get the most out of them. I don’t feel ready to start spending money on advertising, but now is the time!
There are 3 main componants to a Quality Score rating on an ad- the expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and the landing page experience. A high quality score means that Google thinks your ad and landing page are relevant to someone who sees your ad, and the higher the score, the more likely they are to show your ad.
I found this video to be really helpful in understanding what I need to know and what I need to do next: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sstMxJjP4l8&feature=youtu.be
This article is also really helpful: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2404196?hl=en

This week we created text ads for our Google AdWords campaign. I had actually already done this and watched most of the required videos on my own. I love that Google cares about capitalization and overuse of symbols. They want clean ads, and I love that about them.

My favorite part of this week has been looking at my classmate’s websites. I’m surprised by the number of LDS affiliated products, and I’m enjoying the variety. As much as I feel like I need to take a web design class now, I also love the variety of the websites we’ve built and that they all look so different.

This week we discussed keywords, and what makes a good keyword for searches in AdWords. We also started creating our first campaigns.
A good keyword needs to be one that directs your intended customer to your site. An optometrist needs to make sure that his keywords for “glasses” don’t direct people shopping for beverage glasses.
It also needs to be specific enough that it will show up when someone searches for that term. If I were to use “Star Wars” as a keyword, no one would ever see my site because it would fall so far down on the list if options.
Google AdWords can give you an idea how each keyword you pick will do.

Most of my work for this class this week has been on building my website- making it look nice and be functional. I’m not sure I’m there yet, but things are improving. I really need to figure out how to get some variations available in my products, like color, and adding a place for someone to give me the name they would like embroidered for custom items. Etsy really works better for the custom order situation at this point, I’m afraid.

The lessons this week were focused on business licensing and tax issues. They weren’t actually lessons, though- it was more of a “go do some research and tell us what you found out.” That frustrates me. I’ve already done that, what I want is to know where I screwed up and what I’m missing! Because I already have my business license and trade name I’m a little ahead of things at this point, which is nice. I did the research, though, and felt like I was okay. However, once I tried to connect my website to a third party that accepts credit cards, it asked for my EIN. When I went to look for it, I couldn’t find it, so I asked Google if my EIN was the same as my UBI. Nope. Turns out that I missed a step and needed to register with the IRS, not just my state, for this thing. That was taken care of (and free!), so now I’m good there, I hope.

I guess I’ll just keep learning a little at a time and hoping I get everything figured out eventually.

This week we read about and discussed site design. I used what I had learned from my Intro to Graphic Design class about the principles of design and really thought about what makes a web site look good and function well. I compared a few websites, and really searched to find a site that sold products similar to mine to get a feel for how I want my site to look and which features will help me get the most of out my business. What I discovered is that people who sell embroidered products online generally have really unprofessional looking websites. I did get some good ideas, however, and ended up doing a major rehaul of my website to improve how everything looks.

We also discussed check out systems and took a closer look at PayPal. I was happy to find that their company has shopping cart options that will work well for me, so that I can include options for personalization with my products. That gave me a huge sigh of relief, because I’ve really been struggling with trying to figure out how to do that part of things.

This week in class we focused on choosing a site builder and a hosting company. My first step was to read carefully the details of each company that were provided in the course materials. I felt that the language of the course builders favored SquareSpace over many others. My next step was to discuss a few options with my brother, Ben, who is a web designer by trade, and knows a lot more than I do about this sort of thing. He strongly recommended SquareSpace for my skill level and the things that I want in an online business. I continued to research several other companies, but I felt that they were the best to reach my needs, and they offered a great student discount.

After reading the discussion boards in class, I started to second guess myself, since Weebly was so highly recommended. I don’t like their templates as well, but I’m also not as picky as my brother. Because their website didn’t mention any sort of student discount I sent them an e-mail asking about it, and I included the price I could be getting with Squarespace. It took them over 48 hours to respond to that e-mail, and although the discount was much less than what I could get elsewhere, it was the response time that cemented my decision that Squarespace was the way to go.

However, as I began to look at hosting companies, my views were swayed again. iPage offers $1.99 hosting, which is a HUGE difference. So I really looked into what that would mean, since I would have to choose a different site builder. After a whole lot of research, I realized that iPage would be nickel and diming me for lots of things that Squarespace includes- like backing up my data in case of loss, and the ability to restore it, protecting my site from hackers and protecting the information of my customers, as well. The research process made me realize that there are quite a large number of factors that go into making a decision on a builder and host. I’m glad to have my mind (mostly) made up.