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Where Did You Get That Stat? The Nebulous Vortex of Sourcing Online Statistics

30 Mar

online researchOne recent morning, a client contacted me and asked me to find a widely cited statistic that supported the use of behavioral job interview techniques.

The client needed to show that behavioral interviews resulted in lower overall hiring costs, lower turnover rates or increased productivity. They needed the statistic within two hours for use in an important piece of long form content.

I didn’t have access to any paid research resources like JSTOR or a real library. I just had the internet. Sounds easy right?

Wrong.

One hour later I had located about twenty different human resources and hiring blogs all citing the same figure. Yet not one of these blogs or websites provided the source for this statistic:

Behavioral interviewing is said to be 55 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing is only 10 percent predictive.

This is exactly the kind of statistic that the client wanted. But without a citation, this information was completely unfounded and useless. The closest I eventually got to locating a source for this statistic was a citation I found buried in a document from Google Scholar search:

1997 by Salgado, J.F. in “Personnel Selection Methods” – in C.L. Cooper and I.T. Robinson, International Review of Industrial Organizational Psychology New York: Wiley – it was shown that behavioral interviewing can increase by nearly 50 percent your chances of hiring the right employee.

Even the above citation does not help to ground the initial statistic in reality, especially because the citation was related to a 50 percent improvement in hire quality, while the other widely used but un-cited statistic claimed a 55 percent increase in hire quality. I also could not find this exact publication anywhere online. Ultimately, I came up empty-handed and recommended the client include a generalized statement such as, “Leading human resource experts believe behavioral interviewing may increase hire quality by more than 50 percent,” or avoid using a statistic altogether.

As a content marketer, I am always backing up my white papers, ebooks and blogs with powerful statistics and research that tell a story.  I’ve spent many hours combing through a network of poorly cited website and blog statistics hunting for the original source. However, this was the first  time I was completely unable to find a well-cited data point.

The Marketing Takeaways

Even from this negative experience, where I was unable to find a statistic, I learned something new about content marketing: the value of well-cited data online. Below are some content marketing takeaways that explain more about how businesses can use statistics and the absence of online citation to improve SEO and increase sales:

1. Create an online landing page filled with properly cited statistics for your industry or area of expertise.

Here is an example of a software provider in the hiring and background check industry with a static page sharing facts and statistics. In conducting research for this industry, I’ve used this page to find original sources and have seen countless other human resources and hiring blogs cite, copy, link to and borrow stats from this page. Using SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer, you can see that this page has a total of 725 backlinks pointing to it, which is a huge SEO signal to Google that this page is authoritative and relevant for key hiring and human resources topics and keywords.

2. Better yet, make your list of facts tweetable or easy to share.

HubSpot frequently posts blogs like this one, “The Ultimate List of 2012 Email Marketing Stats.”  Not only does HubSpot share stats and cite the sources, it also provides “Tweet This Stat” links that allow readers to instantly share the stat with their followers. This sharing functionality provides amazing word-of-mouth for HubSpot and generates social signals like Tweets and Retweets pointing back to HubSpot. (SEOs believe that Google is now factoring social signals into search results). Below is a screenshot of the tweet generated when you click “Tweet This Stat” on HubSpot’s blog:

Screen shot 2013-03-30 at 12.56.16 PM

The Marketing Benefits of  A Citation Heavy, Fact-Filled Landing Page

1. More Backlinks for SEO

A landing page full of cited facts and statistics can  help your business to generate more inbound backlinks. Other bloggers and website owners will link back to your page as a resource or as a source for their own writing.

2. Increased Conversions

With the right statistics, you can even tell a story that helps to convert more website visitors into leads or customers. For example, a plumbing company website could post a page full of statistics showing how much a homeowner can save on utility bills with a tankless water heater or low-flow toilet. A list of persuasive statistics  may convince a greater number of website visitors to call the plumbing company and get those money-saving fixtures installed.

Even though I did not find the stat I was looking for, this experience helped to identify an easy-to-implement SEO and marketing tactic for businesses. Now I have to work on posting my own “fast facts” page about how blogging and content marketing can increase leads and revenue for businesses! Stay tuned!

Photo Credit: Horia Varlan

An Infographic About The Old Pueblo (Tucson, AZ)

8 Mar

How cool is this infographic about Tucson? Love it! Check out more on the Student Experts blog: http://studentexperts.com/stexblog. There’s also a good post on using infographics as an online marketing tactic. They build links, stoke social media engagement and help with SEO.

Student Experts Infographic Marketing
Student Experts Infographic Marketing

Graph Search on Facebook is Here, But Is the Revolution Here?

1 Feb
Graph Search on Facebook.

Options to refine a Facebook Graph Search.

The revolution will not be televised … it will be on Facebook. Ugh.

Today I received access to Facebook’s Graph Search in Beta. Even the tour that walked me through Graph Search was personalized! This creepy new search functionality already has  users in a tailspin about privacy.  Here’s a look at what Graph search does and how it may prove revolutionary for the Facebook empire.

What does Graph Search do?

Instead of limiting Facebook search to the structure of the site (i.e. pages, people, places, interests), Graph Search enables users to uncover connections between people, places and things. Formerly you could do keyword-esque searches to turn up people, business pages, community pages, places and interests. Now you can search your network for very specific interactions and interests.

A Sample Search: “My friends who like Radiohead”

For example, I ran a search for “My friends who like Radiohead” and Facebook returned a results page listing my connections who like this band. The results were not in alphabetical order. I think the results were organized by how recently and frequently I’ve engaged with each friend. To the right of the results, Facebook provided a panel where I could refine my search by gender, relationship, employer, age and more. I could also extend this search to see more content from the people who like Radiohead, such as their other interests, photos, places visited, and so on. I might look at the other bands this groups “likes” to discover new music or find out what restaurants this crowd has visited lately.

Future Potential for Graph Search

Marketers, small business owners, non-profits, and recruiters should all be watching this space closely.  Improved social search functionality  can ignite word-of-mouth, showing Facebook users the stores, restaurants, brands, products, and causes their network is engaging with. With a much larger user base than LinkedIn, job searchers and recruiters alike will be able to search Facebook connections by education, location, and current employers to network with a targeted group of users.

Read More about Facebook’s New Search Capabilities

To learn more, check out these articles about the impact of Facebook’s Graph Search:

Rel=Author May Be SEO’s Newest Signal

18 Oct

SEOs have been chattering about authorship as a potential new ranking signal, since the HTML 5 specifications were first released in 2011. Although HTML 5 is not going to be finalized for another few years, many of the markup language’s new features are already supported by leading web browsers and in use by web and software developers.

One of the new features that HTML 5 allows for is a rel=author tag, which tells a web browser that a certain individual is the author responsible for the content on that page. This tag will put a face behind a name, showing an author’s head shot and byline when a piece of blog or web content comes up in the search results.

Authorship goes hand-in-hand with many of Google’s recent algorithm changes, all of which focus on serving up more relevant, higher quality search results. It seems as though attributing authorship using this rel=author tag will let engines like Google know that the content is authentic, high-quality and written by a real person (and not spun or ghost-written).

I can imagine searching on Google a year or so from now, and only ‘trusting’ content that appears with a real photo and byline. In a few years, I can imagine a SERP where every piece of blog content and news has a photo and byline.

If you want to get a head-start and begin integrating authorship into your blog and content marketing strategy, visit these helpful resources:

Matt Cutts video defining rel=author: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgFb6Y-UJUI

Matt Cutts video on implementing rel=author: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG3Oh7Ues8A

Linking your content to  a Google+ account: 
http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2539557

Troubleshooting rel=author implementation: 
http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1306778

A recent Pubcon talk on the new author tag: 
http://www.pubcon.com/google-author-tag

SocialMediaToday.com on the importance of authorship: 
http://socialmediatoday.com/liz-wilson/852201/content-creators-here-s-why-you-need-be-google-author

SEOMoz blog on preparing for Google author signals: 
http://www.seomoz.org/blog/how-to-prepare-for-authorrank-and-get-the-jump-on-google

AJ Kohn’s blog on how author tags may affect SEO: 
http://www.blindfiveyearold.com/author-rank

SocialMediaExaminer.com post all about authorship: 
http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/google-author-tags/

An Eric Enge Interview with Sagar Kamdar, a group product manager for Google search: 
http://www.stonetemple.com/relauthor-defined-with-googles-sagar-kamdar/

Photo Credit: Alex Barth.