How do you do a digital audit of your website and social media? Part 1: Website

When you sit down to do a digital audit, it’s helpful to have your marketing communications goals and objectives in hand so you can see if your digital properties are laddering up in some ways to your farm or business’ overall goals.

To me, your website is always your digital home on the web (don’t trust social networks like Facebook or Twitter to keep your “home” intact – glitches can completely remove your presence) and is probably the best place to drive your target audience if you want them to take a specific action – in other words, your CALL TO ACTION.  What’s your CALL TO ACTION?

Call To Action

Call To Action on Truth or Dairy’s blog is sign up for email

While a digital audit can help you see what is going on with your digital properties, you need to make sure that your CALL TO ACTION is easy to see and act upon for your target audience.

You need to be clear on your CALL TO ACTION on all your digital properties. This is done visually as you look at your properties whether it be a website, blog, facebook page, or youtube channel.

The web is very fluid and you need to be ready to change what you have.

Always be thinking of building with the future in mind – what is hot right now with Google is Social, Local and Mobile (SO-LO-MO).

In the future according to the experts, instead of the battle over what’s in your hand and in front of your face (computer vs. mobile phone vs. tablet), it will be your voice and what’s in your vision (think Google Glass and screens that respond to voice and motion).

But what you need to worry about now is your digital footprint (digital footprint is the results people get when they search for your farm/business/name in Google or on the social networks)  and how your digital properties are performing.

Let’s start the digital audit:

First, you need to pull together a list of all your digital properties.

Do all the ones you know and then make sure you do a search through Google with your keywords and names to make sure nothing else pops up. You might find things you didn’t know about or that someone else might have created for your farm or business. And it’s always good to have searches running on your farm or business with talkwalker.com alerts (free service).

Once you have that in place, we’ll begin was analyzing your websites and blogs.

Google Analytics

google-analytics-image

You should have some sort of analytics on your websites. I recommend google analytics. If you are using Urchin, you need to switch over. Your web person should know how to put google analytics on your website or you can do it if you can access to the code – depending on the blog system they should have a plug-in for this.

I have three training classes (posts) on Google Analytics:

How Should You Set Up Your Google Analytics Dashboard for Your Farm or Business

How Do You Set Up A Goal in Google Analytics

How to Read Google Analytics

I’m not going to go into the details here but you should have a sense of your traffic, time on site and bounce rates.

The overview can help you here but be aware it’s really not the whole story. What you are looking for here right now is trends.

Are people using our CALL TO ACTION?
Are we going up or down in visits?
How about time on site?
Where are people leaving the website?

Google Webmaster Tools

webmaster-tools-search-queries

You need to have your web person set you up with Google Webmaster Tools – this will help show you things like Search Queries (Google Analytics won’t show this anymore if people are logged into Google when looking at your website), Crawl Errors, how many inbound links to your website and how to optimized your website.

The information you really need here is do I have any errors, what are my search queries keywords and how many inbound links do I have?

webmaster-tools-inbound-links

Also, who is linking to me?

You should benchmark this number and then try and grow it in the future. The more inbound links you have the better you are – but just stay away from black hat link building techniques (don’t buy them and don’t submit to useless directories).

It will also show you where you are ranking on Google search engine research pages for keywords – it other words, how are you showing up?

Xenu

xenu-screenshot

Xenu’s Link Sleuth checks Web sites for broken links.

Link verification is done on “normal” links, images, frames, plug-ins, backgrounds, local image maps, style sheets, scripts and java applets. It displays a continuously updated list of URLs which you can sort by different criteria. A report can be produced at any time.

Probably one of the best tools out there for link checking and it’s free!

Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer

I use Open Site Explorer to help benchmark the performance of the website.

Copy the metrics on domain authority, page authority, linking root domains, etc…

Much like Google Webmaster tools this will help with showcasing who is linking to you but it will give more information on the sites that are linking to you.

The stronger those sites are, the more power they transfer to your website.

MajesticSEO

majesticseo

MajesticSEO will give you a lot of great information as well much like Opensiteexplorer but you’ll have to login.

Marketing Grader

hubspot-marketing-grader

This is Hubspot’s free marketing grading system and it will give you insights into how the website is performing (0-100 is the grading scale).

The information they provide is pretty self-explanatory.

While they provide some nice insights, be aware they are trying to sell you a product and will probably reach out to you when you use the tool. I do think that Hubspot is awesome but I don’t know how much help they would be for you right now.

SEO Audits are great things

Here’s a great article on how to do this yourself from Philip Petrescu, CEO and Co-Founder of Caphyon, How To Perform a Complete SEO Audit for your website.

This is a very thorough article and I love all the insights and how to fix ideas he has. Definitely worth checking out.

Speed of your Website

google-site-speed

The speed of your website is very important to users and Google. The search engine could downgrade your website if it is not running at a fast enough pace or if a script is slowing it down.

Use the Google Developer Speed tool to benchmark your website. It will also give you a Performance Grade, Load Time and Page Size.

Mobile Friendly

hubspot-mobile-device

Google is not happy with multiple website for mobile and would rather you just have one to meet the needs of mobile users. That’s why going responsive in a redesign is a great idea.

But you need to see how users are seeing your website on their mobile phone so I suggest using Hubspot’s Mobile Device Lab so you can see how your website will render on different devices.  Not everything is represented here.

If it’s hard to navigate, it could cause people to leave the website without doing anything (bounce) and hurt your rankings.

There are probably a bunch of things I’ve missed in the audit (you know like checking different browsers, etc…) so feel free to hit me up with this information.  I’ll add it in if it’s valuable.

Next post will chat about digital audits on your social media presence.

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Creating Your Digital Legacy For Future Generations

Grandpa Les Schindler 1938-1939

Grandpa “Les” Schindler on the farm around 1938-39

My grandfather (Leslie “Les” J. Schindler) was born January 1, 1918 and passed while I was in grad school – Nov 16, 1998.

He was a farmer and mechanic. On the farm, we had a dairy cow, about 40 head of cattle and we planted corn and soy beans.

Growing up I spent a lot of time on back fender of his tractor until I was old enough to drive one (I think around 6 or 7).

Then we would spend the days following each other around the fields. He would be cutting hay. I would be conditioning. He would be baling. I would be stacking.  He would be picking. I would be unloading the corn.

I learned a ton from him – about hard work, perseverance, and a few mechanical skills. I miss him a lot. Especially now that I have a family of my own. It would be great to understand what he thought about his situation and how he dealt with life’s ups and downs.

But he didn’t leave a lot of things behind. Great memories for sure, but nothing really written down.

If he had I would go back to those writings quite a bit.

I would look to what he said and how he said it. I have just a few of those grandpa quotes I remember – one of my favorites that he would say to grandma at the end of night when company had overstayed their welcome.

“Come on, Mother. Let’s go to bed so these people can go home.”

He had a twisted sense of humor.

I wonder if he had the ability to write down his everyday thoughts, would he?

Would he have been a blogger?
Would he had tweeted about the farm?
Would he had shared about the house and barns he built by hand?
Or the animals he cared for?

Probably not. But if he would have created the text, the pictures, the video, the vines, whatever it was – I would read it all, over and over. I respected the man quite a bit but I don’t remember much about what he thought. I just have a few pictures and a bunch of hazy memories of my childhood.

When I think of the opportunity that social media has given me, it kinda blows my mind. You have any opportunity to share with generations that only a handful of people have done in the past.

You can give you minute-by-minute updates of your life in real time. You can follow and learn as much as you want from others.  It’s amazing how connected and documented we are now. We all have audiences – and these audiences actually care about what we are writing.

Facebook as Digital Diary

What do you think about these digital tools documenting your life?

But it’s more than that.

We are essentially writing the books of our lives with ongoing commentary of friends and family and, maybe some detractors as well. That’s a lot different than a normal diary.

Yes, I keep in mind very well the people that are in my social networks when I’m sharing information. I want them to respond to me and I want to be a value add to their days. But I also need to keep in mind my future generations. The sons of my son, the daughters of my daughter’s daughter.

They will be influenced by what I say here because this will be my only voice after I’m gone.

I say all of this not because I want to scare you into deleting your Facebook account. We have all probably vented a few times too many, gone off on a rant or posted photos that could be taken out of context.

No, I say this, because I want you to keep sharing. I want you to pass along your wisdom to future generations and share with them what it was like to live at this day and age.

The stuff you do daily is actually very important.  If you are farming and sharing that information, there’s a good chance that the people who stumble across your blog or Facebook page or twitter profile aren’t connected to that lifestyle.  The daily stuff is new to them and very interesting. It’s not something they experience everyday.

And when generations look back like we do at the 1800’s when people were documenting their lives to share with others via mail but our future will definitely want to look into the past for insights. The sunrises you saw, the work you were passion about, the people you spent time with, the adventures you have are all part of this crazy social media world and it will be available forever to them.

So maybe this post is a little too sentimental. And maybe it’s not “real” enough because I edit out of social media some things that might be a bit too controversial for my future generations and my audience. That’s ok – I’m not and you aren’t – being graded on this.  You can share the controversial – sometimes that makes for lots of discussion – but just remember to be civil and kind.  It’s ok to disagree. It’s not ok to be a jerk.

I just want the future gens to trust me (even if all they know about me is what they have seen when I’m an old man who couldn’t have possibly been young at one time) and know that I thought about them when I was creating. I shared because I cared about them.

So I’m hoping that grandpa would have blogged had he been given the chance.  This way I could go back and visit with him even after he’s gone.

What do you think about future generation viewing our digital profiles? Any issues with it? Does it change how you think about social media?

What’s a marketing mechanic?

don-schindler-working-on-harley

Putting 14-inch ape hangers on my bike, Rosemary.

I was raised in a home full of mechanics.

My grandfather, Les, was a tractor mechanic for Massey-Ferguson for 20+ years as well as a full time farmer.

I used to think we were rich (quite the opposite in fact) when I was little because we had so many tractors, combines, cars and machinery on the farm.

Little did I know that grandpa actually had a standing offer on every broken down machine that came into the dealership – $15. It didn’t matter if it ran or not, grandpa knew it had parts on it that he could use. The farm machinery graveyard right behind grandpa’s house was my playground.

My dad and two uncles were also mechanics and there was a Schindler Auto Body shop on the farm as well.

In kindergarten, I knew the difference between a 9/16 socket, 5/8 wrench and a pair of vice grips. I drained oil and aired tires.  I sanded fenders. I sorted and matched leftover nuts and bolts. Every day I swept the shop to earn a Dr. Pepper bottle from the frig.

I also learned that mechanics fix things. That’s how you measure their value.

So to me, a marketing mechanic is different than a consultant.

Consultants can help you figure out the problem. Consultants can give you advice.

But if you want the problem really fixed, the consultant will tell you what mechanic to call but they aren’t going to get their hands dirty. They need to go consult on another job.

So you end up calling the mechanic and he comes out. He sometimes verifies that what the consultant said was correct (sometimes the consultants don’t get it right) and then fixes it. Right there, right then.

You thank him for his time and then you hold on to his number.  Why, because you’ll call him first next time – what do you need a consultant for.

Everyone knows that it’s hard to find a good mechanic. When people find one, they are loyal to that mechanic. It’s easy to find a consultant.

So you can call me a marketing consultant if you want to because the industry doesn’t use a term like marketing mechanic. But I’m more than just a consultant.

I ran across this post on five skills every auto mechanic should have.  I think it works brilliantly on why I would prefer to be called a marketing mechanic than consultant.

1. Diagnostic Abilities:
Mechanics understand that they need to pinpoint where the problem is. They don’t replace the entire engine – they use the right diagnostic tools to analyze the engine and replace only the part that is broken. Much like that, I’m not going to come in and have you replace all of your communications if just your email marketing is broken. Good mechanics diagnose quickly and get you back on the road to success.

2. An array of integrated skills
Here they talk about understanding the entire car such as the electrical system, fuel system and the air conditioning system. Same here with a marketing mechanic. You need to be able to understand how the marketing communications system is working internally (like the social media team process and the direct mail system process – how are they connected). But you also need to be able to see the entire organization’s culture – how is marketing communications integrating with operations? If the systems are broken, the tactics will fail.

3. The Ability to Stay Prepared
I love how they say “the days of the uneducated grease monkey are over.” How true this is with marketing communications today. The entire world of communications has been transformed by digital and social media. You need someone who is staying on top of the latest technologies and how they can help or hurt your current marketing efforts. Just read my blog and you’ll see what I’m currently looking into and working on.

4. The Ability to Teach Others
I was stunned when I read this because it’s exactly how I feel about mechanics – I just didn’t think that mechanics actually acknowledge that they need to excellent teachers. And good mechanics are great teachers. Great mechanics show others what they learned and why it’s important. I teach and train others all the time on marketing communications and you need someone who is not only going to fix the problem but also show you how they fixed it so you don’t make the same mistake in the future.

5. Career Longevity
I’m a career marketer – granted I didn’t go to school to be a marketer in the traditional fashion (I have an English degree not a marketing degree) but I’ve been fascinated by marketing and communications, reading and writing, creating content for as long as I can remember. This lifelong passion benefits you because I’ve had my fill of mistakes and I can show you exactly how I wouldn’t make them again (I loved Flash early in my career – ouch).

So if you are interested in learning more from a marketing mechanic, then give me a call or email.  But if you are interested in having a consultant tell you to call me to fix it, well I’m sure that can be arranged as well.

What do you think about the differences between a marketing mechanic and a marketing consultant?

Is the “best kept secret” a myth? If no one knows about you – you need a plan.

Talking into ear

What’s your secret? Photo courtesy of hans van rijnberk (Flickr CC)

I dislike when people tell me they are the “best kept secret”.  You are not.  Unless you want to be.

If you say you are the best kept secret, it’s because you don’t know how to tell anyone about what you are doing.  And don’t blame your website.  It’s not it’s fault.

Well sometimes it is. Sometimes your website can be invisible to the search engines and that is something you need to change right away.

How to know if your website is invisible? Check it with http://webconfs.com/search-engine-spider-simulator.php. Run the simple test. If the spider simulator can see your website, then it’s probably not the website’s fault that you aren’t being noticed. I would also recommend linking your website up with Google’s webmaster tools.

If you do have a website problem, there are many solutions out there that can help you solve it.

If you have a small farm or business, then I would recommend wordpress.  Yes, lots of people use wordpress for blogging but you can also set up simple websites without a blog (just remove it – though I don’t recommend removing blogging because it is the best way to get ranked by search engines).

It’s very affordable (just buy the domain name and hosting) and you’ve got a great system on getting a website up and running in no time.

Best kept secrets can be solved simply.  And here’s the most likely problem. You aren’t producing enough content (text, photography, video, etc…). Or let me rephrase, you aren’t producing enough original content and then taking the steps to make sure people know about it (doing enough outreach via advertising or word of mouth).

So if I was in charge of farm or small business and I needed people to know who we are and what we do, I would put together a strategic plan and then an editorial calendar.

Strategic plans are not brain surgery. They take some work but it’s nothing too hard. Some of the research on your target audience may take some time or if you don’t have time, then it will take some money. But having that research is invaluable to your strategic plan and ultimately your communication efforts.

Here’s what I believe should be in your strategic plan or at least these basics.

What would you consider a communication success? This is your marketing goal or goals.

Who would you like to communicate with? This is your target audience. Can you describe them in detail? What do you want them to know and when? Given what you want them to do, what do you think is the best way to tell them about it? This is your messaging. Keep your message short and simple so people do not get confuse about what you are trying to communicate.

What would you like them to do? This is your call to action. Be specific.

Is someone else out there doing the same thing you are? These are the people that are in direct competition for the attention of your target audience. This is your competition. If you want to call this a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis you can.

Where do you think they get their information? Thinking of your target audience, where do you think they get information about your subject?  The things you do here are the tactics like your website, brochures, business cards, flyers, email, advertising, etc…

How are you going to measure if it’s working? Each tactic should have a way to measure it to see if it is working. Remember all measurement must point back to your overall communication goals.

Again, this isn’t hard but it does take some time and energy. But once it is done, it will help to guide you on all the decisions you need to make when it comes to communications.

And believe me, it can help tremendously when you are trying to make decisions about getting into social media.

Did I miss anything? Do you have anything to add?

13 Steps To Getting Started with a Blog

Keep Calm and Blog On T-shirt via spreadshiet

Keep Calm and Blog On T-shirt via spreadshirt

Blogging 101 – Getting Started is a training module I’m teaching to communicators and dairy farmers. It’s all about getting started with a blog as your mainstay on the internet. I’ve given the reasons of why you should blog but here are 13 steps to help you on your journey. And as always, you can reach out directly if you need help. Just hit up here or here and I’ll try to get you an answer or find you someone who can help.

1. Personal/professional brand
You need to figure who you want to be in your professional and personal life. I don’t think these things are separated in this digital age we live in and if you are going to have a digital life and brand then the two need to live together. Mainly because it’s really hard to separate the two and secondly, if you are only going to be a professional and remove the personal, no one is going to find you interesting.

We are humans and humans are social and personal – not robots. You can focus on your profession for your blog but if you never tie in personal stories, it’s just not going to resonate with the audience. Do you need help figuring out how to write out a personal brand statement? – check my post on it. It’s super simple yet will help you in profound ways.

2. Write, write, write.
Write out your first three or four blog posts in whatever system you prefer.  Definitely DON’T write a post in the system – directly on the internet. It only takes a few lost posts before you will switch to just writing in evernote (which I love) or in notepad or text-edit.

3. Add Visuals.
Find pictures / video content to associate with your blog and add them to it. Don’t steal or just grab stuff off the internet. You need to give credit where credit is due. I usually look through free image galleries or get images from Flickr.com/creativecommons – you have to give attribution and don’t photoshop their stuff unless they tell you it’s ok.

4. Select Your Domain.
Think long and hard about your domain name (keywords in the URL are important).
Having a your own domain name (with personal blogs, I suggest using your name) with good keywords in the URL. If you are writing about professional stuff, then make sure your professional terms are in the name.  You can use godaddy.com or other providers to get your name.

5. Select Your Technology – for the future.
If you get a very simple system, you may grow out of it. Pick something you think will be best for you in the future. If you are not tech savvy at all – try tumblr.com.

If you are a little more tech savvy and want more control – bloggerwixsquarespace or wordpress.com.

Want a lot of control – wordpress.org but be prepared to do a lot of work (you might need to learn how to code a few things like w3schools.com) or pay programmers to help you.

6. WHAT’S YOUR CALL TO ACTION!
What do you want the audience to do? Yes, read your post is why they are here – what’s their next step? Get their email address? Connect to you via social media? Sign a petition? Spread the word?

7. Are you a designer?
This is definitely not something to DIY. Hire a professional to make you look good. It’ll be worth it in the end.

8. Add your posts.
Use notepad or textedit to remove code. Learn about categories and tags. Take your time, work out the bugs, you can have a deadline but don’t force it out.

9. Add your other content.
You need an About page and your CALL TO ACTION page. Set those up. Add your social media profile links. Add your fun widgets. Don’t distract people too much. Everything has a purpose.

10. Get on a schedule.
Make and schedule your editorial calendar. One post a week is hard to do but will probably get you the most bang for the buck. Stay consistent. I need to follow my own advice here.

11. Link it up!
Don’t forget to link your blog to all of your social media profiles and email profile. This will help drive traffic.

12. Analytics helps you adjusted.
What should you post next? What are people actually reading? Why am I still blogging? Get Google Analytics (free) set up on your website to insure you understand what your traffic is doing and what they like about your website.

13. Use your network to drive traffic.
After posts, make sure you are posting your links to all your social media contacts.

BONUS: TIPS and TRICKS to get traffic to your blog

  • Help others
  • Talk about others
  • Link to others
  • Did I mention others and link to them?
  • Read other blogs and comment on them.
  • Use Google’s Autocomplete to work headlines

So are you ready to get blogging?  What are your steps to set up?  Anything I missed that you think I should add?

Why blog? Because It Works.

The Thinker - I'm sure he would have blogged, too.

The Thinker – I’m sure he would have blogged, too.

So why blog?

You want to help people find the information they are looking for.
You have something to say.
You want to gain knowledge from others.
You want to connect people to other people.
You want two-way communication and feedback.
You believe you are an expert at…

But what else happens when you blog?

Google and the other search engines start indexing your content.
People start responding to what you writing.
People start trusting what you are writing.
People call you an expert.
Search engines start putting your information at the top of their search pages for keywords.
Suddenly you are internet famous.

Why would you blog?  Did I miss your reason?

Blogging Basics Class – Why blog? Because you want to be found and you’ve got something to say.

I love blogging.  I wish I had time to do it more…and I will make time in the future.  Just a crazy conference week with going to the Big Ten Plus Marketing Director conference in Chicago and then off to the AMA Higher Education Conference in New Orleans.

But here’s the content for my blogging course.  If you disappointed that there isn’t more slides or help, it’s because almost all of the course was done live in class.  That’s why it’s a workshop and not just a presentation.  If you missed, you’ll have a chance to go again in the spring semester.