3 Free Google ToolsPassion drives startups. Passion is an important fuel, but selling someone something is important too. Google provides three FREE tools every startup should know and use: Keyword Tool (in Adwords), Google Analytics and Google Trends.
Google Adwords"Our new widget will blow the widget business up," I can hear an entrepreneurial team thinking. Attempts to scare a market into submission rarely work. Seduction almost always works. Keywords are instruments of seduction.
Google's keyword tool inside of adwords shows monthly global and local search demand. I like to compare search demand with documents returned (something you can get by simply doing a search on the keyword and noting how many documents Google finds). Dividing demand by return provides a valuable "efficiency" ratio.
Efficiency means are we likely to get a return if we invest in content for a keyword or key phrase. If a keyword is a "read ocean" of competition where sharks are so hungry they eat each other best to NOTE the situation and avoid creating content directed at those keys.
Many websites fight amongst themselves for nothing. When you factor DEMAND in you are less likely to get into meaningless turf wars, wars you fight with competitors where no customer cares. Efficiency can also show "blue oceans" or keywords that have more searches and less competition. Blue oceans are the holy grail of keyword research.
Everything you learn is valuable. Knowing where red oceans are helps focus a startup's content marketing to ROI. Knowing how existing customers speak (and so think) about the market can help a smart startup change the keywords, demand and thinking of an entire business vertical.
Google AnalyticsHow is your website performing? What is happening when customers search for and arrive at a startup's website? Google Analytics tags a startup's web pages providing valuable information about what pages are working or not. Startups should look to build their list of subscribers FIRST. Many startups pitch their service first and building a list is a distant second thought. Good luck with that.
Few things startups create are so immediately needed they can be sold immediately. Startups have a limited track record and may not be fully understood. Better to lower the bar and ask visitors to join an email list as the PRIMARY Call To Action.
Once in your list use PERSONAS and SEGMENTS to organize email "drip campaigns" to help develop a relationship, make offers and make the sale. Search traffic floats on the wind. When a visitor joins your email marketing chances for conversion go up.
Google Analytics will help you know if keywords you are targeting bring converting traffic. Startups should create 5 to 7 Key Performance Indicators such as Unique Traffic, Time On Site and Pages Viewed to gauge website performance. I like to use those "basic" metrics to create more advanced metrics too.
I like to know my conversion % (visits / goals completed), my conversion by pages (pageviews / goals completed) and know my 80 / 20 points. 20% of most web traffic controls 80% of everything (clicks, conversions, money), so knowing where those 80 / 20 points are is important.
If your website has 100 pages, 20 will be the most important. Knowing which 20 is a KEY piece of startup information. You can speculate on WHY until the cows come home. Better to TEST assumptions and beat your control. DON'T try to rehabilitate laggard pages. Double down on your winners instead as time spent with winners teaches you more faster than attempting to rehabilitate laggards.
I can't tell you exactly what your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be because they vary by vertical and marketing goals. Watch some KPIs daily and trend critical KPIs weekly, monthly and quarterly.
Google TrendsGoogle Trends creates overviews of traffic by keyword and keyword phrase. When I saw this graph for "content curation" I created a "Curation Contest":
Google Trends can show how one phrase or keyword compares to another (in demand over time). Use Google Trends to shape startup marketing and tune language.
Made To StickHighly recommend all startups buy a copy of Made To Stick by the Heath Brothers. There is art and science involved in communicating new ideas. Learning how to dress a NEW idea inside of trusted clothes is art. Watching the metrics to know if your marketing is doing its job is science. The Heather brothers cover art and science in ways sure to help startups succeed.
Technical SEOSartups need to understand "technical SEO" too. Search engine spiders use keywords and social signals to "know" and categorize a web page. If that sentence makes it sound like your startup needs the approval of others via social signals it was on purpose. You do!
Creating content to achieve social shares is another blog post for another time, but here are a few simple rules to follow when pluming your content:
- Title is most important meta data so be sure to use keywords in your titles.
- Each page title should be UNIQUE.
- Put most important keywords that are not your name to the left (name you should get so put to far right).
- Write SPECIFIC and try to avoid I, Me, And, This, That and other phrases spiders can't understand (see my note on SEO writing).
- Use Keywords in your copy, but don't STUFF.
- Make sure title, body coy and alt text for images are aligned but not spammy (don't repeat over and over).
- Make sure your navigation is keyword dense (because those links do get used over and over).
- Only use one H1 (heading) tag, and do use H2 subheads too (you can have more than one).