Amidst all the iPad (or as some say “iBad”) hype, Google announced that it’s social search is now out of labs and in it’s infamous beta testing phase. Beta for Google means it’s available to you to use while they test it, but for most of us, that means it’s ready. Yes, they will continue tweaking it before it is out of Beta, but they have been known to have products in Beta for several years. Gmail being no exception.
A moving picture is worth more than a thousand words, so take a look at Google’s introduction to keeping the web as social as it is below. Otherwise, see Google’s blogpost – how social!
Since you’re reading this post, you either already know that I am Susan Barnes, or you found me through a search for “Susan Barnes.”
“So what?” you say. Well, as of the date of this post there are 1,130,000 results for a search on “Susan Barnes.” This number is likely to continue growing dramatically, so if you’re stumbling upon this post months or years after it was uploaded, look at the number of search results for Susan Barnes now.
How many search results does your name show on Google? Simply enter your name into the search box, and you’ll see either how common your name is, or how famous you are on Google. The higher the number of search results, the more common your name, and the more challenging it will be for you to get a first page ranking on Google or any other search engine for that matter, unless you control all the listings, because no-one else with your name is doing anything worth mentioning.
Since Susan Barnes is a very common name and there are several Susan Barnes’ with strong online presences (and also quite importantly that I am passionate about search engines,) I am intrigued by the phenomenon of getting a good ranking for your name on Google.
A recent book called Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah of HubSpot recommend that if you are hiring anyone to do any web, social media or online marketing work for you, you must confirm that they have a good digital footprint. This means that if you were looking to hire Susan Barnes to help you with Internet Marketing or Social Media, you would want her name and profile to have a high ranking on the first page of Google.
Today (January 6, 2010) if you Google “Susan Barnes” you’ll see results for Susan Barnes the actress, Susan Barnes the author, who also has the Susan Barnes Twitter handle. There’s Susan Barnes the realtor in Orlando, Florida, Susan Barnes the Firegoddess jewelry maker, Susan Barnes the painter in Mendocino, California, (incidentally I used to do a lot of oil painting in college too,) Susan Barnes the writer, Susan Barnes the art historian, Susan Barnes the social media expert on the east coast, among 1,129,990 others. There’s even a Susan Barnes somewhere back east who has no period in her gmail account (susanbarnes @ gmail . com) where my personal email is susan . barnes @ gmail . com and for I frequently get her mail. This is very disconcerting, since I’m sure she is likely getting my mail as well. When is Google going to fix this problem? Larry? Sergei?
As I write this post, the Susan Barnes that is me, is indeed listed on the first page of Google, but currently only because I have a Google profile. So lesson number one for those of you with common names like “Susan Barnes,” make sure you create your public Google profile.
Other ways to get your name listed at the top of a Google search:
2. Be someone that other people want to write about, i.e. get your name eg. Susan Barnes linked from websites that don’t belong to you. This is the same for keywords and search engine optimization. If your keyword appears in link text, it has more value to a search engine.
3. Use your name as your handle in Social Networks. This particular Susan Barnes did not do that, because there are too many Susan Barnes’ in the world (yes I am a bit bitter… grrrrrrr) and when I tried to get SusanBarnes on Facebook, SusanBarnes on Twitter they were already taken. I am Susan Barnes Internet Solutions Consultant on LinkedIn, where I was able to use my name as my handle. I am using Susby on Facebook, Susby on Twitter and Susan Barnes on LinkedIn.
For good examples/role models, see George Kao,Chris Brogan, or Brian Solis.
4. Write a blog post about yourself like this one.
5. Register a domain name with your name it, like susanbarnes.com, susanbarnes.net or susanbarnesauthor.com or susanbarneswriter.com.
6. Use your name in the title tag and meta description of your page or post.
7. Participate in social networks, because reputation is the new currency. Every time you post to Twitter for example, Google is still picking it up and indexing it. What does that tell those of you who can’t fathom why anyone would use Twitter?
8. If all else fails, start a new presence with a catchy name like Shoemoney, Daggle or Susby, but you’ll still need to spend a ton of time blogging, tweeting, updating and participating in order to be considered someone worth listing to Google.
Thank you for reading about the many Susan Barnes’.
Now it’s your turn: What’s your name and how often do you appear in search results?
Google recognizes the power of the social connectors (aka social media) by showing real-time search results including content from Facebook and Twitter. Google is unveiling the “Latest Results” which will show tweets from Twitter streams, updates from Facebook, answers from YahooAnswers and more. To me this indicates the power of real-time results. The freshest content and opinions are what searchers are interested in. Google obviously respects the power of the crowd and continues to believe in us. After all, we are the people who power Google. Google both serves us and we serve them by clicking on ads. It’s a symbiotic relationship. I wonder if they will start showing Aardvark results as well.
Remember, without measurement, there is no success. You have to measure and track whatever you are doing to know how much progress you are making.
Without a goal, there is no where to go, no finish line, no end, and without benchmarks you have no idea where you are, or where the starting line is. So, let’s see where we are in terms of traffic to our websites and blogs and then set some goals so that we can start our journey to accomplish them.
Below is a step by step process for putting a Google Analytics tracking code on your site or blog. If you don’t have a website or blog, then this post is probably not for you, but it you are interested in learning more about how to track visits to your site or blog, for free and with less than 15 minutes of set up time, please follow the instructions below.
If you don’t have a blog, set one up at http://www.blogger.com
You may need to create a Google Account to do this.
Once you have set up your blog. Create a few posts or entries about something you are interested in.
View your blog and copy the URL (from the address bar) of your blog
Once you are logged in, look for the “Add Website Profile” link
2011-11-11 Update: If you don’t see the Add Website Profile link, look on the right hand side of the screen for “My Analytics Accounts: Select an account” and a drop down menu. Select “Create New Account” at the bottom of the drop down menu.
Click the Sign Up >> button
Paste your URL into the Add a Profile for a new domain field. It is important that you paste YOUR URL, i.e. only a website address or blog address that you have control of. You can NOT track a website or blog that you do not control. You may only track your own sites and blog.
Click the Continue >> button
Enter your Last Name and First Name and select your country, then click the Continue >> button
Agree to the terms and conditions by checking the box and then click the Create New Account >> button
Copy the script code on the following screen where you see “2. Paste this code onto your site.”
In blogger, go back to your blog and get to the dashboard, i.e. click new post or edit posts. In your website, you will be copying the script into each page, just before the closing </head> tag. If you have a website set up with a template, you may only need to do this once in a footer file. (If you are not using Blogger, skip to step 15.)
In Blogger, click on the Design tab, and then
Click on the Edit HTML link
Do a find [on a Windows machine, hold down the Ctrl + F keys at the same time, on a Mac hold down Command +F] for </head> in the HTML code page. Add a line break before you paste so that it works well.
Save the template and/or your work if you are not in blogger.
Go back to Google Analytics, which you still have open in another window or tab, and click “Save and Finish”
You will see a yellow triangle with an exclamation point in it. IMPORTANT: It takes 24 hours for the tracking to start happening. If everything is working correctly, in an hour or two, you should see a clock symbol, meaning that Google is “waiting for data.” Check back in 24 hours to make sure the tracking is working and ask your friends to visit your site or blog so that you can see some activity. When everything is working correctly, you’ll see a green checkmark next to the site when you next log into Google Analytics.
If you have any questions about any of the above steps, please leave a comment. Happy tracking!
For the past few months, I have been fortunate to work with D’Layna Huguez-Dixon, Founder and President of Vocal Downloads for the redesign of the Vocal Downloads website. We were a small team with D’Layna doing a lot of the heavy lifting, I consulting on the project specifications, testing, some Flash animation, graphics optimization and requirements documentation, and one programmer to do all the code changes.
It has been quite a journey and we have finally reached destination number one: Phase 1 launch.
D’Layna’s emails all end with a quote which helps me understand her drive and also why I admire her so much. The quote is:
“If your vision is not your obsession, it will never be in your possession.”
Here’s a picture of before, and be sure to check out the after too.
Vocal Downloads Previously
New Vocal Downloads Design
There are many new features including an annual subscription product, enhanced display of samples with expand and collapse options, new member profile and login functionality and the ability to save samples to your crate for purchasing and downloading later. Oh, and right out of the gate the site has a great website grade in terms of SEO as well.
I am so proud of D’Layna for her persistence and courage on this project. It is a labor of love and D’Layna has shown both the labor and the love in great abundance.
Please check out the redesigned website and let us know if you have any suggestions, observations or recommendations.
If you have a new website or even an old one that you haven’t looked at much in terms of how it performs on search engines, the following checklist will assist you in getting your website optimized for best performance in the free or organic listings on search engines and also what to look for and do if you are considering paid search.
Remember: If you are not on the first page of the search results, it is unlikely your listing will be clicked. People simply very seldom look further than the first page of search results.
Search Engine Marketing (SEO and SEM) Checklist
Are your Title tags describing the content on each page of your site effectively?
Do your Meta description and keyword tags accurately reflect the content on each page of your site?
Do you have Alt tags on each image?
Are you using real text for content (instead of graphics with text in them)?
Are you including keywords and are the keywords relevant to the content on each page?
Content: How good is it? If it’s not great, don’t expect a lot.
Is your site and content shareable?
Do you have an RSS feed set up?
How many links are coming into your site?
Can you think of people, site owners who would be willing to link to your site and content?
Have you asked those people to link to you?
Is your site link-worthy?
Have you submitted your site to search engines?
Have you started a blog and/or posted articles about your area of expertise or the product or service you are promoting with your site?
Are you checking how you rank against competitors for particular keyword terms?
Is your content fresh?
Have you run your site through http://website.grader.com?
SEM (Paid Search)
If you are unable to get a top page organic search result, have you considered paid search? Since Google has 84% market share, its AdWords Program is a good place to begin.
Are you choosing your keyword terms effectively?
Are you monitoring which ads are working better than others?
Are you monitoring which keywords are your best performers?
Do you have goals set up in your paid search tool? Is your site listed in as many places as possible?
How focused is each page of your site around a particular keyword term?
What are the top 5 keywords that people are finding you with on search engines?
Do you have pages dedicated to those top 5 keywords?
What a great find! I just learned of the joys of Jay Baer (@jaybaer)and I’ve decided he’s my new boyfriend for social media advice. You can convince and convert me any day, Jay! I love your blog. Not only do you practice what you preach, but you share it too! Thank you.
Since I’ve been a fan of Beth Kanter for several months now I was tickled to find this twitter interview with her that Jay is doing as part of his 20 Twitter Interview series. My favorite question and answer from the Twitterview was:
13. @jaybaer: Social media is inextricably linked with inbound marketing. How important is search engine savvy for NPOs today?
@kanter: SEO is very important for nonprofit marketing plans – part of the rule of thirds (Web site, social media, SEO).
Good to hear we the web site and SEO still need to get attention in this wildly social time.
Well after nearly four months of getting the business up and running, here we are finally with our brand new site. We hope you like it.
What is “Susby” you’re wondering, right? Well let me tell you:
When I was in high school in Cape Town, South Africa, my friends called me Suse (pronouce: “Sooz”). Then there was another Susan, go figure – there are millions, and even more “Susan Barnes”es – just look at Google and you’ll see.
Anyway, I became Suse B, short for Susan B. I also created handmade birthday cards for all of my friends and family and signed them with By Suse. So Margaret Barlow, choir mistress and piano teacher extraordinaire started calling me “SusBy” – for By Sus(e). From then on I have been SusBy or just Susby and that’s the name of my new consulting firm. I am Susan Barnes, aka Susby and the firm is Susby Internet Solutions Consulting, aka Susby IS Consulting.
Short sweet, nothing to do with bees or honey, sorry. Oh, and yes, the licence plate is real. I have had it since 2006. I must have been dreaming of owning my own business since then. Be careful what you wish for… 🙂
Client site A was competing with site B for traffic about a similar topic. The two sites were competing for search results and traffic to promote a similar physical location. Site B was a bit out of date, but had been on the Internet a lot longer than site A. The information on site B complements the information on site A. Client A had a good relationship with the owner of site B, so we decided to pursue merging the two sites into one. The final merged site is still in development, but the immediate result after setting up a redirect from site B’s domain to site A’s domain is a good increase in traffic to site A. Client A is happy, which means we are happy and more importantly people looking for information on this topic will only need to go to one site instead of two.
Traffic in 2009 compared to 2008
Daily visits doubled and tripled after June 19th
Monitor your analytics and statistics log files to see the impact of any significant changes you make to your site, marketing plans and overall online presence. Sometimes you may be surprised by the result. (Hint: Results are not always good, but mistakes will help you learn.)