Saturday, February 28, 2015

My Favorite 5 Analytics Dashboards - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Sixthman

Finding effective ways of organizing your analytics dashboards is quite a bit easier if you can get a sense for what has worked for others. To that end, in today's Whiteboard Friday the founder of Sixth Man Marketing, Ed Reese, shares his five favorite approaches.

UPDATE: At the request of several commenters, Ed has generously provided GA templates for these dashboards. Check out the links in his comment below!

For reference, here's a still of this week's whiteboard!

Video transcription

Hi, I'm Ed Reese with Sixth Man Marketing and Local U. Welcome to this edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we're going to talk about one of my favorite things in terms of Google Analytics -- the dashboard.

So think of your dashboard like the dashboard on your car -- what's important to you and what's important to your client. I have the new Tesla dashboard, you might recognize it. So, for my Tesla dashboard, I want navigation, tunes, calendar, everything and a bag of chips. You notice my hands are not on the wheel because it drives itself now. Awesome.

So, what's important? I have the top five dashboards that I like to share with my clients and create for them. These are the executive dashboards -- one for the CMO on the marketing side, new markets, content, and a tech check. You can actually create dashboards and make sure that everything is working.

These on the side are some of the few that I think people don't take a look at as often. It's my opinion that we have a lot of very generic dashboards, so I like to really dive in and see what we can learn so that your client can really start using them for their advantage.

#1 - Executives

Let's start with the executive dashboard. There is a lot of debate on whether or not to go from left to right or right to left. So in terms of outcome, behavior, and acquisition, Google Analytics gives you those areas. They don't mark them as these three categories, but I follow Avinash's language and the language that GA uses.

When you're talking to executives or CFOs, it's my personal opinion that executives always want to see the money first. So focus on financials, conversion rates, number of sales, number of leads. They don't want to go through the marketing first and then get to the numbers. Just give them what they want. On a dashboard, they're seeing that first.

So let's start with the result and then go back to behavior. Now, this is where a lot of people have very generic metrics -- pages viewed, generic bounce rate, very broad metrics. To really dive in, I like focusing and using the filters to go to specific areas on the site. So if it's a destination like a hotel, "Oh, are they viewing the pages that helped them get there? Are they looking at the directional information? Are they viewing discounts and sorts of packages?" Think of the behavior on those types of pages you want to measure, and then reverse engineer. That way you can tell they executive, "Hey, this hotel reservation viewed these packages, which came from these sources, campaigns, search, and social." Remember, you're building it so that they can view it for themselves and really take advantage and see, "Oh, that's working, and this campaign from this source had these behaviors that generated a reservation," in that example.

#2 - CMO

Now, let's look at it from a marketing perspective. You want to help make them look awesome. So I like to reverse it and start with the marketing side in terms of acquisition, then go to behavior on the website, and then end up with the same financials -- money, conversion rate percentages, number of leads, number of hotel rooms booked, etc. I like to get really, really focused.

So when you're building a dashboard for a CMO or anyone on the marketing side, talk to them about what metrics matter. What do they really want to learn? A lot of times you need to know their exact territory and really fine tune it in to figure out exactly what they want to find out.

Again, I'm a huge fan of filters. What behavior matters? So for example, one of our clients is Beardbrand. They sell beard oil and they support the Urban Beardsman. We know that their main markets are New York, Texas, California, and the Pacific Northwest. So we could have a very broad regional focus for acquisition, but we don't. We know where their audience lives, we know what type of behavior they like, and ultimately what type of behavior on the website influences purchases.

So really think from a marketing perspective, "How do we want to measure the acquisition to the behavior on the website and ultimately what does that create?"

These are pretty common, so I think most people are using a marketing and executive dashboard. Here are some that have really made a huge difference for clients of ours.

#3 - New markets

Love new market dashboards. Let's say, for example, you're a hotel chain and you normally have people visiting your site from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Well, what happened in our case, we had that excluded, and we were looking at states broader -- Hawaii, Alaska, Colorado, Texas. Not normally people who would come to this particular hotel.

Well, we discovered in the dashboard -- and it was actually the client that discovered it -- that we suddenly had a 6000% increase in Hawaii. They called me and said, "Are we marketing to Hawaii?" I said no. They said, "Well, according to the dashboard, we've had 193 room nights in the past 2 months." Like, "Wow, 193 room nights from Hawaii, what happened?" So we started reverse engineering that, and we found out that Allegiant Airlines suddenly had a direct flight from Honolulu to Spokane, and the hotel in this case was two miles from the hotel. They could then do paid search campaigns in Hawaii. They can try to connect with Allegiant to co-op some advertising and some messaging. Boom. Would never have been discovered without that dashboard.

#4 - Top content

Another example, top content. Again, going back to Beardbrand, they have a site called the Urban Beardsman, and they publish a lot of content for help and videos and tutorials. To measure that content, it's really important, because they're putting a lot of work into educating their market and new people who are growing beards and using their product. They want to know, "Is it worth it?" They're hiring photographers, they're hiring writers, and we're able to see if people are reading the content they're providing, and then ultimately, we're focusing much more on their content on the behavior side and then figuring out what that outcome is.

A lot of people have content or viewing of the blog as part of an overall dashboard, let's say for your CMO. I'm a big fan of, in addition to having that ,also having a very specific content dashboard so you can see your top blogs. Whatever content you provide, I want you to always know what that's driving on your website.

#5 - Tech check

One of the things that I've never heard anyone talk about before, that we use all the time, is a tech check. So we want to see a setup so we can view mobile, tablet, desktop, browsers. What are your gaps? Where is your site possibly not being used to its fullest potential? Are there any issues with shopping carts? Where do they fall off on your website? Set up any possible tech that you can track. I'm a big fan of looking both on the mobile, tablet, any type of desktop, browsers especially to see where they're falling off. For a lot of our clients, we'll have two, three, or four different tech dashboards. Get them to the technical person on the client side so they can immediately see if there's an issue. If they've updated the website, but maybe they forgot to update a certain portion of it, they've got a technical issue, and the dashboard can help detect that.

So these are just a few. I'm a huge fan of dashboards. They're very powerful. But the big key is to make sure that not only you, but your client understands how to use them, and they use them on a regular basis.

I hope that's been very helpful. Again, I'm Ed Reese, and these are my top five dashboards. Thanks.

Video transcription by

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Formula for Successful Newsjacking

Capitalizing on news that's already out there can help you earn links back to your website - if you know how to do it effectively.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Click-to-Call and the Big Data Gap

Typical analytics tools may not give marketers enough visibility into the $4 billion that is spent on mobile search advertising.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Google AdWords Reveals Mobile Call-Only Campaigns

​Call-­only campaigns​ are a new and easy way for advertisers to reach potential customers by prominently showing their phone number.

Expert Tips for Cracking Pigeon and Winning Local

Ever since Google rolled out its Pigeon algorithm for local search, SMBs have looked for ways to get back on top. Here's some insider advice for getting to the top of the rankings.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Why the Stock Market and Personalization Will Drive the Future of Search

The future of search will be vastly different than it is today - what might it look like?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Driving Traffic from Facebook - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Facebook sends a remarkable amount of traffic, but there's a lot of confusion around both just how much and (perhaps more importantly for our work) how we can optimize our work to take advantage of it. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand clears up some of the statistical noise and offers 10 tips for optimizing your Facebook traffic.

For reference, here's a still of this week's whiteboard!

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we're going to talk a little bit about Facebook. Facebook has been growing massively. It sends out a tremendous amount of traffic, and as a result, more and more of us in the field of web marketing as a whole, and because it's so interesting as a correlated factor with things that tend to perform well in Google, are interested in the traffic that Facebook can drive and in potentially growing that.

So I'm going to start out with a few stats. I think it is actually very important that marketers like us understand how statistics work, especially as they're represented. I hear from folks all the time like, "Oh, my boss emailed me the new Shareaholic report, and it says that 25% of all traffic comes from Facebook, and we only get 10% of our traffic from Facebook. So we must be doing Facebook badly." That's not actually the case.

Then I'm going to talk a little about some rough estimates, just for theoretical fun purposes, around traffic that Facebook might send versus Google, and then I actually have a bunch of tips for Facebook optimization. None of this is going to be dramatically brand new, but I've tried to distill down and aggregate some of the best ones, throw out some of the ones that no longer apply as Facebook has been maturing and getting more sophisticated and those kinds of things. All right, let's start with these stats.

So let's say your boss does send you this Shareaholic report, and Facebook sends 24% of all referral traffic. Wow. Shareaholic is on 300,000 websites. That's a pretty big group. Like how can we ignore that data? It's not that you should ignore it, but you should also be aware of why is Shareaholic installed and who uses it.

So these 300,000 sites are almost certainly massively over-representative across the several hundred million websites that exist on the Internet of those that receive and are optimizing for social media traffic. I think this is an excellent stat, and if you are a social media heavy site and you are getting less than say 20%, less than 15% of your traffic from social, well, you probably have some work to do there and some opportunity to gain there.

I also like this one from Define Media Group. Define of course is a Marshall Simmonds' company, and they measure across major publishers. So one of the things that you might hear is Buzzfeed, for example, last year put out their big article about how they get 70% plus of their traffic from social, and they don't even care about search, and search is dead. No one does SEO anymore and blah, blah, blah. It turns out actually, I think Buzzfeed does a tremendous amount of caring about SEO despite what they say, but they don't want to be perceived as doing that. Define said across all of their 87 major publishers -- so these are big news sorts of publishers and entertainment content publishers and that kind of stuff -- social sent about 16% of all traffic, search 41%, and direct 43%. That's a very big difference from the social sharing site. So again, you're seeing that granularity and disparity as we look across different segments of the web world.

Worldwide by the way, according to StatCounter, whose stats I like very much because they're across such a wide range of distributed websites, many hundredths of thousands, I think even millions of websites in the U.S. and abroad, so that's really nice and they share their global statistics at, which is one of my favorite resources for this type of stuff. According to them, worldwide Facebook, in January of 2015, driving around 80% of all social referrals in the U.S. Interestingly enough, people like Pinterest and Twitter and LinkedIn and Google+ have more of a share than they do in the rest of the world, and so Facebook is responsible for only about 68% of all social referrals in the U.S. as a conglomerate.

It is the case for anyone measuring Facebook traffic, the average pages per visit tends to be around one. Now, you compare that to Google, where it's around 2, 2.2, or 2.5, you compare that to Direct and Direct is usually closer to the 3, 4, or 5 visits per session. So Facebook's traffic is kind of at the low end of the performance and engagement scale. It tends to be the case that when you're in that Facebook feed, you're just trying to consume content, and you might see something, but you're unlikely to browse around the rest of the website from which it came, and that's just fine. Although, interestingly enough, Facebook does perform better, slightly better than Twitter does by this metric. So Twitter's traffic is even more ephemeral.

I tried to do some rough statistics and think about like, okay Rand, I really need a comparison between how much traffic does Google send and how much traffic does Facebook send. This is something that people ask about all the time. There are no terrific sources of data out there, so we sort of have to back into it. I think you can do that by saying, "Well, we know that Google's getting around 6 billion searches a day currently, and we know that those send on average . . . well, we don't know for sure. We know that years ago an average Google search resulted in 2.1 or 2.2 clicks." I think that was 2009, so this was many years ago. So it could have gone down, or it could have gone up from there. I'm going to say between 1.5 and 3 visits on average, somewhere in there.

Facebook has 890 million daily active users, and we don't know the statistics again perfectly there. But again, several years ago, I want to say maybe 4 years ago, 2011, they had a stat that around 2 external clicks per day per Facebook user. So let's say it's probably gone up maybe 2 to 4, somewhere between there. So given that, Google is in the 9 to 18 billion referrals per day stage and Facebook 1.8 to 3.6 billion.

So if you think Facebook has grown just absolutely huge, it could be as big as a third of the smallest growth maybe that Google has experienced in terms of referral traffic. I think that's possible. I think the numbers are probably closer to the 9 and 3.6 than they are to the 18 and 1.8. That would be my guess. I think Facebook is somewhere between 15% and 30% of the traffic that Google's driving. So pretty massive. Definitely bigger than any of the secondary search engines. Probably driving more traffic than YouTube, driving more traffic than Yahoo!, driving more traffic than Bing. Probably driving more traffic than all three of those combined even. That's quite impressive, just not as impressive as the enormous amounts of traffic that Google does set.

Still, one of the reasons that we care about Facebook even if we don't love the traffic that Facebook sends us because we don't feel that it performs well, Facebook's likes and shares are very indicative of the kinds of content that tend to perform well in search. So if we can nail that, if we understand what kind of content gets spread socially on the web and engages people on the social web, we tend to also perform well in the kind of content we create for search engines.

So some tips. First off, make sure that the Facebook audience and whoever your . . . well, that pen is going to work beautifully for someone never. Let's see if I can make it from here. You guys can't see this, but we'll just pretend I make it. Oh yeah, nailed it. Oh, it almost went in. It like bounced off the shelf and then almost went in.

All right. First off, make sure that your Facebook audience usage matches your content goals and targets. If you're saying, "Hey, we're trying to convert people to a B2B software product in an industry that really targets technical folks on the engineering side," Facebook might be really, really tough. If, on the other hand, you are selling posters of adorable cats and dogs, woo, that's a Facebook audience right there. You should nail that. So I think you do have to have that concept. You can't just disassociate those two. If you're working for a patent attorney, trying to get likes and shares is going to be really hard for their content versus maybe trying to get some tweets or some shares on LinkedIn or those kinds of things.

Second, learn what does work in your topics in Facebook. There's a great tool for this. It's called BuzzSumo. You can plug in keywords and see the pieces of content that over the past six months or a year have performed the best across social networks, and you can actually filter directly by Facebook to see what's done best on Facebook in my niche, with my topics, around my subjects. That's a great way to get at what might work in the future, what doesn't work, what will resonate, and what won't.

Number 3, you should set up your analytics to be able to track future visits from an initial social referral. There's a great blog post from Chris Mikulin. Chris basically shows us how in Google Analytics you can set up a custom system to track referrals that come from social and then what that traffic does after it's come to you from social and left, oftentimes coming back through search, very, very common.

Number 4, headlines often matter more than content in earning that first initial click. I'm not going to say they matter more than content overall, but headlines are huge on Facebook right now, and that's why you see things like the listicles and click bait all of those types of problems and issues. Facebook says they're working to update that. But for right now there's a ton of sharing going on that's merely around the text of that 5 to 15 word headline, and those tend to be extremely important in determining virality and ability to make their way across Facebook.

Number 5, it is still the case -- this has been true for many years now across all the social media platforms -- that visuals tend to outperform non-visual content. When you have great visuals, the spread and share of those tends to be greater.

Number 6, timing still matters a little bit, but actually, interestingly not as much as it used to. I think a lot of folks in the social media sphere have been looking at this and saying, "Gosh, you know what? We're running the correlations and we're trying these experiments, and what we're seeing actually is that it seems like Facebook has gotten much smarter about timing." So they're not saying, "Oh, you posted in the middle of the night and you didn't get very many likes, so we're not going to show your post to as many people." They're now saying, "Well, as a percentage of the engagement on average that's received by this group in these geographies, in these time zones, at these particular times, how did you do?" I think that relativism has made their algorithm much more intelligent, and as a result we're seeing that posting at a certain time of the day, when more people are on Facebook or less are, isn't quite as powerful as it used to be. That said, if you want to try some timing experiments, watch your Facebook Insights page, and figure those things out. There's still some optimization opportunity to be gleaned there.

Number 7, the really big driver of Facebook spread and of the ability to be seen by more and more people, have a post seen by more and more people on Facebook, appears to be -- at least from all the social media experts, and I would validate this myself from my experiences there -- the percentage of the audience that's seeing the post, interacting with that post -- and by interacting I mean they like, they comment, they share, they click on the link, or even, I'm fairly certain that Facebook is also using a dwell time metric, meaning that if they're looking at that post for a considerable amount of time, even if they're not clicking Like or Share or Comment or clicking, if they're observing it, if that's staying active on their Facebook feed in the visual portion of the panel, that seems to be a metric that Facebook is also using. I would be fairly sure it is. I think they're pretty smart about that kind of stuff. Because this is a big driver, what you're trying to do is grow engagement. You want more people to interact more heavily with your content. I think that's one of the reasons that unfortunately things like click bait work so well and great headlines do too.

Number 8, brand page reach is limited. We know this. There have been many sort of Facebook algorithmic updates that talk about what's the organic reach if you post, but you don't pay at all, those kinds of things. However, the flip side of this is that in order for Facebook to not be overwhelmed by content, because the amount of content that's posted there is simply enormous, they've reduced some of those things. But that means a little bit more room for individual people. So individual accounts, like your Facebook account, my Facebook account, not my public page, but my personal Facebook account, your personal Facebook account, those have a little bit more opportunity to get reach versus brands, which for a while were more dominating than they are. Now it's pretty small.

Number 9, if your traffic from Facebook has good ROI -- and this is one of those big reasons why you need to be measuring the second order effects and when that traffic comes back and those kinds of things -- go ahead and pay to amplify. This is just like Google. If you see that a key word is performing well and you can turn on AdWords and you can get more of those visitors and they're going to convert, hey, the same thing is true on Facebook, and Facebook's traffic, generally speaking, is much cheaper on a per-click basis than Google's is. It's also much less targeted. It tends not to perform as well, but much less expensive. So I would urge you to pay to amplify. When you see sites that are performing gangbusters -- Buzzfeed being a very fair example of that -- they're paying a lot of money to drive all that traffic to their site and to amplify their organic reach. They're getting organic and paid reach.

And the last one, number 10, Facebook is really hard to game anymore -- it didn't used to be this case -- with direct signals. It used to be the case that if you posted something on Facebook, you could have a bunch of your friends like, "Hey, everyone go check their Facebook feed now. Make sure you're subscribed to me. If you don't see it in your feed, go over to my specific feed, click it, Like it, Share it, comment it." Then we can sort of amplify its organic reach, because Facebook cares a ton about those first 5 or 10 minutes and what the engagement is like there. That doesn't work very well anymore. Facebook is very, very careful, I think, nowadays to look at: Who did we organically show this to in the news feed? How many of them interacted and engaged with it? What's their history of interacting and engaging with stuff on this particular site? Are they somehow connected? Is there gaming going on here? Have they consistently liked everything that's come from this site in the first five minutes of it being published? All those kinds of things that you would expect them to eventually get to, they've really gotten to, and so gaming it is much more hard.

But gaming people is not much harder, because unfortunately our software has not been considerably upgraded in the last few hundred years of evolution. So as a result, gaming human psychology is really how to, I don't want to say manipulate, but certainly to get much more reach on Facebook. If you can find the angles that people care about, that they're vocal about, that they get engaged, excited, angry, passionate, of any emotional variety about those things, that's how you tend to trigger a lot of activity on Facebook. This is a little different than how it works on other social networks, certainly LinkedIn, parts of Twitter, Instagram different. Facebook very much this kind of controversy, passion, excitement, tribalism tends to rule the day on this platform. I think that's part of why you see some of these click bait and headline heavy sites performing so well. But if you want to find ways to make Facebook work for you, you might want to marry the things that are on brand, on topic, helpful to you, actually will earn you good visits, but do take into account some of that human psychology that exists on Facebook.

All right everyone, what I would love, and I don't always ask for this, but I would love if you have great tips or things that you've seen work really well on Facebook, please share them in the comments below. I would love to read through them. I'm guessing there are some folks in the Moz community who have extensive, wonderful experience here. We'd love to hear from you.

All right everyone, take care. We'll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!

55 Questions to Ask Before Restructuring a PPC Account

If you are a pay-per-click manager, at some point you’re going to inherit an existing account. Here is a checklist of items to review before committing to a restructure.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

5 Questions Your Web Designer Should Ask You (and 5 More You Should Ask Them)

Why not let both designers and their prospective clients know the questions that, if asked, would have solved a lot of the headaches we see every day?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hiring for SEO: How to Find and Hire Someone with Little or No Experience

Posted by RuthBurrReedy

SEO is a seller's market. The supply of people with SEO experience is currently no match for the demand for search engine marketing services, as anyone who has spent months searching for the right SEO candidate can tell you. Even in a big city with a booming tech scene (like Seattle, LA, New York, or Austin), experienced SEOs are thin on the ground. In a local market where the economy is less tech-driven (like, say, Oklahoma City, where I work), finding an experienced SEO (even one with just a year or two of experience) is like finding a unicorn.

You're hired.

You're hired. (Photo via Pixabay)

If you're looking for an in-house SEO or someone to run your whole program, you may have no choice but to hold out for a hero (and think about relocating someone). If you're an SEO trying to grow a team of digital marketers at an agency or to expand a large in-house team, sometimes your best bet is to hire someone with no digital marketing experience but a lot of potential and train them.

However, you can't plug just anyone into an SEO role, train them up right and have them be fantastic (or enjoy their job); there are definite skills, talents and personality traits that contribute to success in digital marketing.

Most advice on hiring SEOs is geared toward making sure they know their stuff and aren't spammers. That's not really applicable to hiring at the trainee level, though. So how can you tell whether someone is right for a job they've never done? At BigWing, we've had a lot of success hiring smart young people and turning them into digital marketers, and there are a few things we look for in a candidate.

Are they an aggressive, independent learner?

Successful SEOs spend a ton of time on continued learning—reading blogs, attending conferences and webinars, discussing and testing new techniques—and a lot of that learning happens outside of normal work hours. The right candidate should be someone who loves learning and has the ability to independently drive their ongoing education.

Ask job candidates about another situation where they've had to quickly pick up a new skill. What did they do to learn it? How did that go? If it's never come up for them, ask what they might do in that situation.

Interview prep is something I always look for in a candidate, since it shows they're actually interested in the job. Ask what they've done to prep for the interview. Did they take a look at your company website? Maybe do some Googling to find other informational resources on what digital marketing entails? What did they learn? Where did they learn it? How did they find it?

Give your candidates some homework before the interview. Have them read the Beginner's Guide to SEO, maybe Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, or the demo modules at Distilled U. How much of it did they retain? More importantly, what did they learn? Which brings us to:

Do they have a small understanding of what SEO is and why we do it?

I've seen a lot of people get excited about learning SEO, do OK for a year or two, and then crash and burn. The number one cause of SEO flame-out or burn-out, in my experience, is an inability to pivot from old tactics to new ones. This failure often stems from a fundamental lack of understanding of what SEO is (marketing, connecting websites that have stuff with people who want that stuff) and what it is not (any single SEO tactic).

It can be frustrating when the methods you originally learned on, or that used to work so well, dry up and blow away (I'm looking at you, siloing and PageRank sculpting). If you're focused on what tricks and tactics can get you ranking #1, instead of on how you're using digital techniques to market to and connect with potential customers, sooner or later the rug's going to get pulled out from under you.

Ask your candidates: what did they retain from their research? Are they totally focused on the search engine, or have they thought about how visits can turn into revenue? Do they seem more interested in being a hacker, or a marketer? Some people really fall in love with the idea that they could manipulate search engines to do what they want; I look for people who are more in love with the idea of using the Internet as a tool to connect businesses with their customers, since ultimately your SEO client is going to want revenue, not just rankings.

Another trait I look for in the interview process is empathy. Can they articulate why a business might want to invest in search? Ask them to imagine some fears or concerns a small business owner might have when starting up an Internet marketing program. This is especially important for agency work, where communicating success requires an understanding of your client's goals and concerns.

Can they write?

Photo via Pixabay

Even if you're looking to grow someone into a technical SEO, not a content creator, SEO involves writing well. You're going to have to be able to create on-page elements that not only communicate topical relevance to search engines but also appeal to users.

This should go without saying, but in my experience definitely doesn't: their resume should be free of typos and grammatical errors. Not only is this an indicator of their ability to write while unsupervised, it's also an indicator of their attention to detail and how seriously they're taking the position.

Any kind of writing experience is a major plus for me when looking at a resume, but isn't necessarily a requirement. It's helpful to get some idea of what they're capable of, though. Ask for a writing sample, and better yet, look for a writing sample in the wild online. Have they blogged before? You'll almost certainly be exchanging emails with a candidate before an interview—pay attention to how they communicate via email. Is it hard to tell what they're talking about? Good writing isn't just about grammar; it's about communicating ideas.

I like to give candidates a scenario like "A client saw traffic to their website decline because of an error we failed to detect. We found and corrected the error, but their traffic numbers are still down for the month," and have them compose a pretend email to the client about what happened. This is a great way to test both their written communication skills and their empathy for the client. Are you going to have to proofread their client emails before they go out? That sounds tedious.

How are their critical thinking and data analysis skills?

A brand-new digital marketer probably won't have any experience with analytics tools like Google Analytics, and that's OK—you can teach them how to use those. What's harder to teach is an ability to think critically and to use data to make decisions.

Have your candidates ever been in a situation where they needed to use data to figure out what to do next? What about tell a story, back up a claim or change someone's mind? Recent college grads should all have recent experience with this, regardless of their major—critical thinking and data analysis are what college is all about. How comfortable are they in Microsoft Excel? They don't have to love it, but if they absolutely loathe it, SEO probably isn't for them. Would it make them miserable to spend most of a day in a spreadsheet (not every day, but fairly regularly)?

Are they a citizen of the web?

Even if they've never heard of SEO, a new employee is going to have an easier time learning it if they're already pretty net savvy. An active web presence also indicates a general interest in the the Internet, which is one indicator of whether they'll have long-term interest in digital marketing as a field. Do some recon: are they active on social media? Have they ever blogged? What comes up when you Google them?

Prior experience

Different applicants will have different backgrounds, and you'll have the best idea of what skills someone will need to bring to the table to fill the role you need. When I'm reading a resume, I take experience in any of these areas as a good sign:

  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Public relations
  • APIs (using them, creating apps with them, what have you)
  • Web development or coding of any kind
  • Web design
  • Copywriting

Your mileage may vary

Photo via Knowyourmeme

Very few candidates are going to excel in all of the areas outlined above, and everyone you talk to is going to be stronger in some areas than others. Since digital marketing can include a wide variety of different tasks, keep in mind the things you'd actually like the person to do on the job; for example, written communication becomes somewhat less important in a non-client-facing role. At the very least, look for a smart, driven person who is excited about digital marketing as a career opportunity (not just as a next paycheck).

Hiring inexperienced people has its risks: the person you hire may not actually turn out to be any good at SEO. They may have more trouble learning it than you anticipated, and once they start doing it, they may decide that SEO just isn't what they want to do long-term.

On the other hand, hiring and training someone who's a great fit for your company culture and who is excited about learning often results in a better employee than hiring someone with experience who doesn't really mesh well with your team. Plus, teaching someone SEO is a great way to make sure they don't have any bad habits that could put your clients at risk. Best of all, you have the opportunity to unlock a whole career for someone and watch them grow into a world-class marketer—and that's a great feeling.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Analytics as the Source of Truth – The Power of Data Integration

There are so many ways that Web analytics and a lack of understanding of how to harness analytics are holding businesses back from making the best decisions.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Updating Your Website? Avoid These 4 Common SEO Landmines

Whatever the reason and whatever the scope, you’ve decided to update your website and if you’re going to be successful, you’ll need to pay careful attention to your SEO throughout the process.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Local Business Conversion Optimization: 3 Ad Personalization Rules to Live By

Employ all three of these tools and you will have a local marketing personalization WMP –Weapon of Mass Personalization – on your hands.

Link-Building Inspiration: Cookie Policy Information

Keeping track of the link profiles of inspirational website can provide a lot of link-building ideas. Here's a great example.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

#SESLON: An IoT Mindset Will Make Marketing Smarter

Opening SES London, Shawn Burns of Schneider Electric said that while search and social may seem like apples and oranges, the two share a connected commonality: consumers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Ultimate Guide to PPC Call Tracking

Over the years, call tracking has evolved to a precise science. It’s now possible to track phone calls down to the keyword level. Here are the call tracking options available to PPC advertisers.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Right to be Forgotten Should Apply Only in Europe, Says Google

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales among those backing Google's stance.

Friday, February 6, 2015

AdWords Editor 11 – What’s Not to Love? 7 Reasons Why You Will

The new version of AdWords Editor is a complete overhaul of the old tool. Here are seven features that will make managing your accounts better than ever!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

How to Make the Most Out of an International SEO Campaign

International SEO is worth the investment in time, money, and intellectual resources if it improves a business' global reach, expands their customer base, and offers them long-term stability in a global market.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Does Bing Deserve More of Your Money?

This may just be the beginning of a conversation about search engine budget allocation.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Google's Matt Cutts on SEO: A Retrospective (2011-2014)

Panda. Google vs. Bing. Penguin. Guest blogging. The years of 2011 to 2014 were nothing short of tumultuous for the search industry. And as the voice and face of Google, Matt Cutts felt the wrath of angry webmasters and marketers.