10 Useful Websites That Aren’t All SEO Focused

I recently stumbled upon this BuzzFeed article that lists 33 of the coolest websites – some that would be relevant to SEO, web design, internet marketing, and some that I thought could be useful. Here are my favorites from the list.

1. What the Font?

Panda Meme

I typed in “Panda Meme” and chose this one since it’s a bit easier to read. This would be a great tool if it was a bit more accurate. The results they gave me did not match the photo, but they do have forums on the site that are viewed by font gurus whom may be able to tell you what the font is. Though I wanted to share it since it’s such a great idea, and I’m sure there are times they can be extremely accurate.

 

2. Account Killer

Account Killer

Easily delete your social accounts with this account killing tool.

3. Adobe Kuler

Adobe Kuler

Here you can find complimentary color palletes — for websites, interior decorating, and more!

4. GifprintGifPrint

Print .gifs for free and make them into mini flip books!

 

5. The Rasterbator

moonman

This one is my favorite idea of all the printing sites featured on BuzzFeed. You can make huge printable (and affordable) posters out of any image. This one’s great especially if your walls are bare and you’re on a budget!

 

6. TwoFoods: Instant Food Comparison

TwoFoods

I compared honeydew to hello panda cookies because that’s what I was deciding between after dinner last night. Glad I went with the honeydew (although, I had already eaten a packet earlier that day)! I was just surprised they had Hello Pandas on there, I’m guessing they have everything! If you haven’t had this delicious chocolate (or strawberry, or vanilla) filled cookie treat, you’ve got to!

 

7. Is it Iced Coffee Weather?

Iced Coffee WeatherYes
I mean, it’s kind of always iced coffee weather to me, but this website will tell you “NO” if you’re in a cold location.

8. 10-Minute Mail

10 Minute Mail

You can get a free e-mail here that will self-destruct in 10 minutes. This would be great to sign up for Groupon! I’ve pressed “unsubscribe” or “this is junk” at least 50 times, but somehow their e-mail gods still send me deals in my inbox daily.

9. Word Frequency Counter

Word Counter

Great for blog posts, essays, website content, general writing, and more! They even feature a phrase frequency finder.

10. Down for Everyone or Just Me?

SEOhaus

This is my favorite out of the 33 websites listed on the BuzzFeed article linked above. It is an extremely useful tool I can use every day. There are tons of times a website has gone down due to a server issue, IP issue, cache issue, programming issue, user issue, or any other issue. This website is short and to the point. You type in the website and it will tell you if the site is down, or it’s just your browser. Easy peasy!

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What about my rankings?

For most people an SEO campaign has one objective and one objective only: to increase their search engine rankings. I mean that’s what SEO is for right? At the start of the campaign you pick your keywords, you measure where you’re ranking for those keywords and then you measure the success of your SEO by where your rankings for those keywords end up. Simple, right? Well, not exactly.

First let’s take this all the way back to the basics. Why do you want those rankings to improve? Sure it’s nice to be able to type in a keyword and see your website right there on page 1 but if SEO was only about ego keyword research would be a whole lot easier. At the end of the day SEO is about exactly the same thing that any other marketing effort is about, increasing your exposure to potential customers, it’s about traffic and it’s about conversions. The reason you’re spending your time or money on an SEO campaign is because you want to get more customers. So, if your rankings don’t move for your chosen keywords does that mean that SEO has been a failure?

Not necessarily.

What if your chosen keywords don’t move but you start getting traffic from new variations in those areas? What if the number of search queries generating impressions and click-through traffic grow despite static rankings on the core keywords? What if your SEO company isn’t able to get your website featured organically in a highly competitive market but creates Yelp and social media profiles that grow your audience and start driving calls and conversions? In all of these scenarios, the basic objective of your marketing efforts has been fulfilled and you’re making more money as a business than you were before.

Rankings are by no means irrelevant and any good SEO campaign will lead to an increased search engine presence but with Google’s new algorithm updates and move towards exact match search results instead of the broad matches of yester-year specific keywords are no longer as important as they once were. Keywords that previously showed search volumes in the high hundreds to low thousands are now in the high tens. Other keywords that registered several hundred searches a month have seen their volume disappear altogether. So does this mean that the online markets for those areas have plummeted? No, instead it means that we need to re-think the way we are targeting those markets.

 

Another thing that has devalued keywords as a key performance indicator is the increase in focus on individualized and tailored search engine results. Search engine algorithms have become increasingly complex in the factors that they consider when creating a search engine results page for a user and many of these factors are based on the user. Google’s localized search engine results have been well known for some time but they are becoming increasingly focused and tailored as Google’s focus on mobile search and ability to recognize local business relevance grows.  Even your personal browsing history and social media use can influence what you see and you can bet it’s going to differ from what other searchers are seeing.

SEO is a constantly evolving industry, with the flick of a switch Google can, and has, completely changed the game more than once. That means that the way we think about success in SEO needs to change too after all, rankings are nice, traffic and conversions are better.

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Local SEO tips made simple

Assuming your product or service is of the local variety, people won’t be flying into town solely for the purpose of acquiring it. You supply to a demanding audience within a set geographic area.

While that sounds limiting, it’s quite the contrary in the eyes of local search. That is because your service, be it legal defense or a food truck, only has to compete with businesses in your area. Smaller region means smaller competition.

Like any SEO agency will tell you, the first step in a successful campaign is defining a tangible business objective. For local businesses, you’ve already identified your target market and region. So defining your business campaign means asking yourself: Why does my website exist? And what do I want my website to accomplish? Your SEO optimization objective will reflect your overall business objectives.

With the right search engine marketing strategy, your local business may display in Google search engine results in one of two ways: in a carousel, or in a listing format. The first format collects both organic and paid results, complete with mapping functionality. The listing format is indented from the rest of the results and prominently showcases the important points: address, phone number, and reviews if available.

SEOhaus - Google Search 2014-04-30

Here are a few local SEO tips for optimizing your website and fast results:

  • Create a Google+ Local page, or claim your page if it already exists in local search. A variety of online service can help you claim your listing, even if you weren’t the one who added it. In your new Local page, the most important factor is making sure to feature your correct address and phone number. In a recent survey by Placeable, over 70% of respondents lost trust or loyalty in a business because the address listed online was incorrect.
  • Reviews are becoming more and more important (and visible) factors in search engine ranking. This is the part of your web presence you have the least control over. Your responsibility is to provide a likable product, and politely remind customers to share thoughts. This is even more important to searchers than it is to crawlers.
  • Search engine marketing strategy is just as much about smart UX and content as it is about keywords and meta data, so make sure it’s a site you wouldn’t bounce from immediately. Make sure copy is readable and engaging without keyword stuffing, turn large chunks of text into bullets, and reduce the number of clicks required for conversion by using strong calls to action.

If you’ve found any other strategies that produced results for your local business SEO campaign, feel free to comment!

Posted in SEO tips | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Get in on the Fun of Social Media

A bit of silliness never hurts your social media campaign

Admit it. You spend way too much time on social media. If you’re a social media manager like me, you can get away with calling it “work” or “research.” But let’s be honest. Those puppy photos you spend hours scrolling through is only research for a non-existent study of how much cuteness a human being can endure.

Social media was created to connect people all over the globe in a way that’s entertaining and engaging.  How many times have you found yourself complaining about a friend, former classmate or aunt who constantly posts the lamest, most boring stuff on Earth to Facebook? Probably more times than you can count, right? That’s why it is imperative for companies and businesses using social media to connect to their fans and clients to do something they might have never thought to do: have some fun!

Even if you think your company or industry is not the most exciting in the world, a bit of lighthearted fun with social media can hugely help a brand establish a tone and personality that pushes their popularity. In many cases, that leads to brand loyalty and an increase in sales of a product or service.

A perfect example of a brand using a bit of silliness to gain some momentum on social media is Charmin toilet paper. The brand currently boasts a Twitter following of more than 34, 000 and was named the no. 1 sassiest brand on Twitter by Time. Through their hilarious #tweetsfromtheseat and #CharminCourtesy tweets, Charmin’s social media managers take a product that could easily be ridiculed and gets in on the joke. They tweet irreverent potty humor that garners retweets, favorites and mentions, like these examples:

charmin

 

charmin2

Their Internet savviness, quirky posts, call to action posts that ask followers probing questions like “Do you light a match or courtesy flush?” and accompanying illustrations of the Charmin bear looking adorable all have helped catapult the brand into  an Internet sensation.

Charmin’s use of humor many not be to you or your company’s taste, but the message here is to consider taking a lighter approach to your social media campaign. Facebook and Twitter thrive on shareable content, and brands that post pieces that resonate with people in a fun way tend to find greater success with their social media strategies.

Tapping into trending topics or anything major happening in pop culture in a humorous way is also a major boost to any brand’s social reach. For instance, this simple tweet from Arby’s Twitter page with regards to Pharrell Williams’ ridiculous hat worn at the Grammy Awards went viral.

arbys

I mean, look at those retweets and favorites! While your small company may not see that level of response, it’s entirely possible that with the right hashtags and tags you can find some new followers out there in Internet land. It’s just a matter of establishing a tone, zeroing in on who your audience is and not being afraid of a bit of silliness from time to time.

Obviously, it can’t all be jokes. You are trying to sell your product after all. But by mixing in strong call to action posts, mentioning trending topics whenever possible and creating a recognizable voice, you can see your brand grow into an Internet favorite. A cute puppy photo never hurts either.

puppy

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Five of Our Favorite Free Marketing Tools

If you’ve taken the time to peruse our blog, you will notice that we take a very transparent approach to the way that we share our tricks and tips on the SEO industry. It is extremely important to us that we help to educate our customers so they have a full understanding of the measures that are taking place behind the curtain. With that being said, I wanted to highlight a few marketing tools that we find to be extremely helpful to our day-to-day workflow.

1) Open Site Explorer

This tool provides you with a list of the websites that are linking to you, or another site. By acquiring insight into a backlink profile, you then have the opportunity to establish strong relationships with websites that are interested in your product or brand. This can also be used as a handy tool to monitor the websites that are linking to your competitors. With this information, you can then work to obtain similar link profiles of these competitors.

Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer

2) Content Idea Generator

Are you struggling to come up with unique ideas for your next blog post, or content piece? The content idea generator can help. By simply entering a broad topic, it creates strings of popular searches that can be placed together to come up with innovative new topics. Sometimes the topics that it spits out are just plain silly, but with a little tweaking, it can provide some creative insight.

Portent's Content Idea Generator

Portent’s Content Idea Generator

3) Hemingway

Hemingway is a helpful tool that analyses a block of content, and helps you to tighten it up. State your thoughts concisely with Hemingway.

Hemingway

Hemingway

4) Google Trends

Google Trends works to show how often a keyword, or search term is entered relative to the total search volume across different regions of the world. It also offers insight into, “interest over time” of a certain topic. This can be helpful in dissecting traffic fluctuation over an extended amount of time. Google Trends also provides, “related searches” which can provide additional ideas for keyword research.

Google Trends

Google Trends Graph

5) Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo helps you to quickly identify topics and content that is working well in a specific industry. See who the top authorities are for any given field, and glean insight into areas you may need to strengthen.

Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo

These days, it seems as if there is a tool to assist with the majority of our everyday challenges, and SEO evolves, as do our tools. From content inspiration to competitor comparisons and research, all of the information is right at your fingertips. What tools are integral to your workflow?

Posted in General Online Marketing, Marketing Tips, Web Marketing Tools | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Heartbleed and the future of SEO

With the recent Heartbleed epidemic fresh on everyone’s mind, security seems to be the latest topic to worry about when it comes to your site. Am I safe? Am I putting my customers at risk? Will this have an effect on my traffic? What about my SEO? While security is and always should be a concern, it now seems like it is one more item to put on the ever growing list of priorities you need to be concerned with when it comes to your site.

So first let’s discuss what Heartbleed is and who might be affected. Heartbleed is first a foremost a bug, not a virus, in the functionality of the OpenSSL library. This library is widely used with security vendors for secure web browsing and not an uncommon practice on sites on the web today. The bug, or the chink in the armor if you will, allows an attacker to retrieve systems remotely and access secure information such as usernames, passwords and keys in which they can use to then go on to make larger attacks. Having a security system that seems anything less than secure is not ideal and one that can easily cause panic for webmasters and consumers alike.

Heartbleed should be taken seriously and there are steps to ensure that you have not been affected. If you have not done so already, you can check your site here: http://filippo.io/Heartbleed/ to see if you are vulnerable and it would be in your best interest to have your webmaster regenerate a new private key as well as update the version of OpenSSL if applicable. Once you know everything is again secure, you could turn a headache into an opportunity to shine in customer service. While it may seem like a touchy subject to call attention to, at this point be forthcoming with your customers and let them know what you have done to ensure their safety as well as the actions they can take gives you a chance to be positive and proactive. Pinterest sent out such an email this weekend and it was a great example of how to be helpful without causing alarm:

Hi Elisa,
You may have heard of a recently discovered security issue—called Heartbleed—that impacted lots of sites on the internet, including Pinterest. Heartbleed affected OpenSSL, a type of technology websites use to keep information secure as it travels through the web.
We were quick to fix the issue on Pinterest, and we didn’t find any evidence of mischief on Pinner accounts as a result. But to be extra careful, we’re asking you to reset your password.

Ok, ok so secure sites are obviously important, but what does this have to do with SEO? Well possibly quite a bit in the near future. There have recently been reports stating Matt Cutts would like to begin rewarding secure sites with better rankings. While these comments made during “private conversations” definitely stem from the rumor mill at this point, it is something to take note of, particularly if you are an ecommerce site or one that requires info from your visitors. While this new ranking factor may be a ways out, it all comes down to the common thread of having a quality site. Whether you have a one page site or have a site that offers thousands of products, your goal should always be to ensure you are providing the highest quality possible.  From content to security, quality is the name of the game and it’s time to step it up if you want any chance of playing.

Elisa Houghtelin is one of the Account Managers at SEOhaus. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the latest SEO industry news and tips, you can subscribe to our blog here. Thanks for reading the SEOhaus blog!

Posted in Advice, Google, Search News | Leave a comment

Using Reddit to Test Your Marketing Strategy

I’m sure most of us out there with a computer and an internet connection are familiar with Reddit. Essentially a grown-up version of the bulletin boards of yesteryear, Reddit has quickly risen to be one of the most popular social networking and news sites on the web. Many a meme has been birthed on Reddit and opinions are espoused in subreddits fervently and passionately.

It all started somewhat innocently as a way to share my client’s website and the product they offer. For the purposes of this blog–and because I’m fast approaching middle age–let’s say the product my client is selling is a product to treat hair loss for men.

Anyone remember "spray-on hair?"

Anyone remember “spray-on hair?”

Also, for the purposes of this blog, let’s say the hair loss treatment my client offers is a bit different than other products on the market and therefore less proven to consumers. The price for this hypothetical hair growth system is $200. Sales of said product have been minimal and we’re not quite sure why.

First things first, I found the appropriate Reddit thread for male baldness in order to reach my target audience. Then, in trying to find a way to share my client’s site in a non-artificial way, I took a more interactive approach–I posed a question. This is a technique I learned from doing social media updates. Posts that ask questions of the audience tend to have a higher level of engagement. My post looked something like this:

baldhaus

I honestly didn’t think much of it at the time and I moved on to other projects. However, out of curiosity, I checked on the post a few days later and found that I had several responses to my original post.

baldhaus2

After reading the comment, I logged into Google Analytics and under Referral Traffic, I noticed that my client’s website had received about 20 visits from my initial Reddit post. Cool! I was surprised to learn how helpful Reddit users are in answering questions. This particular user actually went to the website and watched the videos in order to have a more informed opinion in answering my question. Most importantly, this comment and other comments like it confirm one of my suspicions–that my client’s product is too expensive.

Let’s move on to another hypothetical comment:

baldhaus3

Ouch! These Reddit commentators don’t pull any punches. That said, the truth hurts sometimes. It might not be a pleasant conversation with my client but the site may be in need of a redesign in order to build trust with potential customers. Based on these comments, I now have some ideas on how to improve my client’s campaign, which may include lowering the price of the product and redesigning the website.

These are just some hypothetical responses but really the possibilities are endless. Reddit users can offer invaluable insight into strengths and weaknesses with your product, service, website, marketing strategy, etc. By finding the right subreddit, you have a direct line to your target audience and their unfiltered opinion. Furthermore, I encourage that you chime in as well, beyond the initial post, in order to a) keep the discussion going and b) extract more opinions and information.

I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t include some caveats:

1) Take Reddit comments with a grain of salt – There’s something known as “online disinhibition effect”, which in essence means that people act differently on the internet than in face-to-face interactions. In other words, under the guise of anonymity, people are more prone to comment negatively on the web. Look at these comments with a critical eye, as one negative comment early on in a thread can set the tone, as people can feed off of each other’s negativity.

2) Strength in numbers – If only one commentator points out a weakness with your marketing, I wouldn’t immediately go and your adjust your strategy. However, if multiple commentators are saying the same thing, it might have some weight.

3) Ethical considerations – My hypothetical comment implies that I am looking for hair growth products, which in reality, is not the case. I don’t advise being deceptive, as I think that white-hat practices should extend into every aspect of marketing, not just SEO. I was merely using this as a jumping-off point. A better, more ethical way to start a Reddit thread might just be something as simple as “what’s your opinion on this product/website: ________?” If you’re trying to solicit honest opinions, it behooves you to set the tone by being honest yourself.

I’d be curious to know how this technique works for other marketers and if anyone out there has found some other benefits in posting on Reddit. Feel free to comment!

Brian Carver is an Account Manager at SEOhaus. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the latest SEO industry news and tips, you can subscribe to our blog here.

Posted in Advice, General Online Marketing, Uncategorized, Web Marketing Tools | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Mobile Shift in Google’s Paid Search

An interesting article from eMarketer.com arose in mid-March stating that Google is predicted to lose $1.4B in desktop paid searches. U.S. paid mobile search grew more than double – at a whopping 120.8% in 2013. In contrast, paid desktop search had only risen by 2.3% last year.

On the same note, the Google’s mobile search revenues will increase by $1.76 billion according to eMarketer.com.

So what does this mean for Google?

Desktop search is declining, and in turn mobile search is increasing. With those numbers above, the prospects are that mobile search will total one-third of Google’s total search revenues by the end of 2014.

How has Google put more focus on the mobile market?

Last summer, Google announced “enhanced campaigns” which combine both desktop and mobile pay per click advertising departments into one. These enable users to purchase ads as a single package rather than having two separate Google Adwords budgets for one website.

There are upgraded features and new conversion types in Enhanced Campaigns. For example, phone calls are integrated from a click-to-call perspective in a mobile ads campaign. Another added bonus is that you can make adjustments based on the location of the mobile user, which is helpful for local businesses. You can also find many more features here.

Creating one enhanced campaign will provide clients with the incentive to put more budget toward mobile, and make it easier for users overall.

Is that why the SERP has changed?

It is a possibility that Google decided to shift the design of the overall search engine results page (SERP) so that Adwords clicks (especially in mobile) will continue to grow. Here is a comparison of what the SERP used to look like, compared to what it looks like now:

adwords before and after

Photo Credit: Moz Blog

The old version includes a lightly colored background and underlined title tags. The new design is much more discreet and follows the look and feel of the organic search results. The way you can tell the difference is the addition of the yellow [Ads] label for each section of the SERP.

This may prompt users to click on the ads more often because it is less busy and complex.

What does this all mean?

It means that Google is making an innovative modification to the SERPs as well as Adwords offerings in order to help users as they shift towards mobile searching.

Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Posted in Google, Mobile, Mobile Compatibility, Mobile Search, Paid Search | Leave a comment

The 7 Best Bike Wipeouts Caught On Google Street View and What it Means for Content Creators

For the past several years, Google has been gone beyond the bird’s eye view seen in Maps and Earth and put users right in the street. Using cars, trikes, snowmobiles and other vehicles, Google has mapped out countless miles worldwide. Maybe you’ve even spotted the fabled Google car with its multi-directional cameras mounted on the roof. Unfortunately for some of these bikers, they never saw the Google car coming. Let’s getting things rolling:

Learning To Ride

Google Street View, Little Girl, Bike Crash

The training wheels have come off, and it might be a while before this little girl is racing friends down the street or flying off jumps. I’m just glad that Google wasn’t around to catch the early days of me on a bike. Keep practicing, little one.

Turned To Soon

google, street view, boy, bike, crash

This little guy has the moving part down. He’s just working on moving in the right direction. If all else fails, bail and grab a gate.

Late Bloomer

google, street view, woman, bike, fail

She’s old enough to explore the city alone, but she still hasn’t figured out how to ride a bike exactly. Someone please fill her in on how bikes work.

European Faceplant

Copenhagen, Denmark, bike, fail, crash

Apparently, faceplants are the same across the pond too. Good to know. The Google car caught this dude just as he decided to swoop in for a mouthful of asphalt. This guy’s pain is a necessary sacrifice for many lol’s.

Still Learning To Turn

Ohio, bike, crash, fail

This guy from Ohio might have a few years on our little buddy up top, but he still hasn’t mastered the art of the right hand turn either. The Google car conveniently cruised alongside him, giving us this mini comic strip.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Google, street view, european, bike, crash, fail

Let’s just face it (not the concrete like this guy): this just wasn’t his day. Sandwiched between two cars, road workers looking on, and the omniscient Google there to catch it all for everyone to see. That guy is thankful for the Photoshop blur.

Like A Boss

google, street view, kid, bike, wheelie

This kid is awesome. And now thanks to Google Street View, everyone can know it. It might not be a wipeout, but we would all rather hang out with this future BMX star instead of the asphalt eaters above.

*No bikers were harmed in the making of the blog post. Maybe.

Now I thoroughly enjoyed myself putting these together, and it’s my hope that you got a good chuckle yourself, but we have something to learn here. This is the first installation of the SEOhaus Social Media Guide. We’ll be taking a look at how you can maximize your effectiveness across social networks in blog posts in the next few months, and we are compiling everything you need to know into one, comprehensive place.

So, what can this post tell us about social media and shareable content?

Lists

Lists are all the rage. Just ask Buzzfeed. Lists are attention-grabbing and give your viewer a quantifiable start and end. They know what to expect going into it, and if your list is any good, you’ll provide your viewer with the best information – or all the information – they need. People don’t want to read ramblings; they want to get in, read the top-5-this or 11-best-that, and get on with it. That leads to the next point.

Adjectives

Lists are conducive to qualifiers, but you can work adjectives into any headline and content. For example, when I’m hungry, I don’t just want a burrito. I want the best burrito in San Diego. People are always on the lookout for things that elicit the most emotion, not just another blip on the radar. Give them what they want.

Emotion

We might like to pretend we didn’t have our own set of bumps and bruises from bikes, but the fact is we’ve been in the same place as the people above. Luckily, we didn’t have Google rolling down the street as it happened. We can relate to the pictures and feel what they were going through in that beautiful, immortalized moment. Create content that is interesting and relevant to your audience. The more they can feel your content, the better.

Variety

Even though Google captured a similar moment multiple times, each instance takes place in a different place and includes a different demographic. Unless if it’s America’s Funniest Home Videos, laughing at kids can make you feel like a bad person. Add some adults crashing as well, and it’s all okay. But really, avoid tunnel vision and spice up your posts by mixing up who’s including in your posts and who can feel a direct connection to them. You can expand your reach and share-ability by broadening your content every now and again.

Those are just a few of the things that we can learn from looking at Google’s images of people crashing on bikes. What other takeaways can we get from it? Share your thoughts.

Posted in General Online Marketing, Google, Social Media | 2 Comments

Tracking Trends to Transform Your Content: Three Great Free Tools to To Capitalize on Trends in Content!

Whenever an interesting headline takes the Web by storm, a new breakthrough product, service, or event breaks through to the media, or when viral-bait posts start to loom large on social profiles around the Web, we see them everywhere. From an onslaught of social posts within active members of a particular vertical, to pages of results streaming out of the Google News spotlight, there is no running from something that’s truly useful and timely. The ability to create and share content has transformed the way businesses look to promote their expertise; from traditional PR to social media and niche-specific conversations, everyone is eager to get in on the conversation for the latest hot topic or trend. So how do we monitor these events, and have something ready to strike while the iron is hot?

Below, I’ve listed three simple, free tools that can help take the guesswork out of tracking trends and topics–but that also provide ways to look at data to create compelling pieces of content for even older topics that may be receiving less attention than they ever had in the past.

Google Trends

By far the most obvious way to track trends using big data is the biggest corpus of the English language in existence: The Google Index. Google’s affinity for big data has never strayed far from any of its products, and trends provides a free lens to the global conversation at large–no matter what the topic. When brainstorming some pieces for a client recently, I took a look at Google Trends and found some pretty compelling data that showed topics that were ebbing and flowing in popularity. However, the trending topic wasn’t necessarily the most salient point of interest; instead, by focusing on peaks, troughs, and news stories, it can become very obvious as to why certain topics increase in popularity.

Take a look at the graph above for the fitness craze that’s recently swept the nation: CrossFit. By looking at the way in which CrossFit’s popularity has recently skyrocketed, it’s easy to deduce that there are a host of searchers who might be looking for content on this topic. What does that mean for us as marketers, and for businesses who might be looking to take advantage of this? First of all, it is clear that a topic like this is getting a host of media coverage. Having something unique and interesting to say on the topic could potentially open your business to great publicity opportunities, and could help you capitalize on a search trend that seems perpetually on the rise. However, competition may be fierce; since so many people are writing on this topic, it will be increasingly more difficult to get coverage in this field that’s visible on Google’s first page of search results. Similarly, a Google Trends graph for a more volatile global trend might be something like typing in a political figure or subject matter. In this case, let’s take a look at searches related to Mel Gibson:

As we can see, there is a huge spike in traffic right around July 2010, and interest moves away accordingly in either direction. By looking at alarming rises or drops in traffic, we can also track why these spikes may have occurred. Understandably, this was around the same time that Mel Gibson was outed by an explosive rant that leaked to the media; the massive media coverage at the time surrounding his personal life caused a spike of interest and global coverage, which led to this massive plateau. By unpackaging these trends in data, this can lead to incredible new insight to explore a particular vertical, topic, or keyword phrase.

Leveraging big data like this can have a powerful effect on the purpose and impact of your content by showing a greater impact on the global consciousness and facets that are influencing the global conversation at large. This is a critical way to view topics and discuss why things might be losing or gaining popularity. Google Trends has an added level of credibility, as each Google Trends graph that has news-related criteria is coupled by relevant news sources covering the issue, topic, keyword, or trend as it happened.

Similarly, these trends can provide a pivotal lens into how language is changing. See the graph below comparing the use of the word “cell phone” to the use of the word “mobile phone”.

Use of the word “mobile phone” is beginning to overtake the more archaic, limited definition of “cell phone”, yet even this is comparatively dwarfed by the rise of “smartphone” in the lexicon:

Lastly, Google Trends also offers us the ability to parse out these differences by location; it may come as a shock that some of the biggest searchers of the “English Premier League” are not in the UK, or even in America, but spread all throughout the continent of Africa. Using this data can be an incredibly flexible, powerful portal to frame a keyword, topic, or niche-specific industry term in a greater contextual position. Supported by this data, you can create some really killer content.

Twitter Trends and Facebook Fads

Now built into the Twitter and Facebook infrastructure is a similar trend-monitor, which keeps track on lexical instances of popular links, phrases, and more. However, since these are in the social sphere, a huge emphasis should be laid on connectivity.

Zooming in from Google’s massive amount of search data, Twitter offers the same sort of clarity for real-time tracking and recent events. Twitter’s “Trending” and “Discover” functions are excellent ways to find out what people are discussing, either with or without the use of a hashtag. By searching for particular keywords, you can find influencers within your vertical who might be covering your topic, track replies, responses, favorites and retweets in order to see how the narratives are being treated. As people respond, you can also see different angles that might be used to cover the story and find holes that your brand, business, or blog can help answer for consumers who might be asking questions. Similarly, the trends in Twitter can also be adjusted based on location, giving you a better sense of what might be ranking in your particular area, which is a great opportunity for businesses with a strong, localized market.

Furthermore, tools like Topsy help take this to a new plateau. Ever write a piece of content that you’re eager to share with the rest of the world? Try searching for the same types of terms you might be using in Twitter to see how they have populated on Twitter and on blogs and news sources throughout the world. Topsy tracks the past few hours, the past few days, as far back as the past month, with filters available to help further qualify your search by language, popularity, and more. Topsy is a great resource to find both influencers, blogs, and sentiment.

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Facebook’s look at trending topics is a bit newer, and certainly far less granular than the aforementioned options:

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However, this nonetheless prepares you with some of the tools you need to discover important topics in your social sphere and the ability to discover if any of them could potentially relate to your vertical or persona.

An Even Closer Look at Data: Mine Your Traffic From Google Analytics

Another interesting way to use data like this that represents a collective activity is to look at your own data. From overall visitors, to visits to a certain blog post or landing page, your data can have a tremendous impact on the way in which users are communicating with your site as a whole. Comparing year-on-year data to account for seasonal variations can be especially critical, but irregularities in your data, landing pages that are specifically successful, or hugely important blog posts can transform the way your site is perceived.

Intelligence in Analytics takes a lot of the guesswork out for you; by comparing your site’s performance against its average, Intelligence Alerts in Analytics are able to generate huge clues into irregular behavior on your site, and may give you a clue into some unusual trends with your own site’s performance. Perhaps a spell of unusually bad weather brings more and more traffic to a blog that focuses on recipes, cooking, or ways to rearrange or fix your home. Perhaps a blog topic you wrote covering an unpopular actor is scoring some major visits after news coverage on their new role. Whatever the case may be, turning these spikes or drops into case studies of your own can be a powerful way to help tell a story about how everything connects.

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