Facebook Insights – The 5 Page Metrics that Matter Most

With all the different social media networks available these days, brands need to pay attention to which networks are going to be most beneficial to them. Almost always, Facebook ends up at least in the top 3 networks to be on, not to mention if you take a look at your web analytics, you’ll probably see Facebook as one of your top social referrers. A Facebook Page is the backbone of any brand’s social media presence. It is looked at by many as the main social representation of your brand and every section and action should be carefully thought out. Status updates made are sent to the News Feed of Facebook users who have already liked your page, along with several other users picked up through approved algorithmic metrics. By posting valuable, sharable content a brand page has the potential to boost their presence on this social network and in search engines exponentially. But with all this research, referring and sharing going on, which Facebook Insight metrics matter most and how should you use them?

The Top 5 Facebook Metrics that Matter Most

1. Page Engagement

You hear a lot about engagement but what does it really mean? Engagement is a major factor in the Facebook algorithm and encompasses all fan posts, comments, and likes of a brands content. Engagement also reflects the most important items crucial to your content going viral and building brand awareness. With a brand’s ability to capture a readers’ attention, connect with them on an emotional level (it takes emotion to take action), and share the right content at the right time, the

Post Likes – A ‘Like’ implies that a Facebook user finds value in the content you shared and invokes an emotional connection, resonating with them longer.

Post Comments – Any reply to a post; could be an image, a link, a note, etc. Paying attention to the tone of comments and reviewing which posts are most comment heavy, help in defining a brand’s overall Facebook strategy.

Post Shares – Amplifies a brand’s content by exposing the information to Facebook users outside of the brand’s current Facebook fan base. Information can be shared on a user’s timeline, a friends timeline, in a group or private message. Brands see sharing of content as the highest form of post engagement.

2. Page Engagement Rate

Engagement rate measures the number of unique users who engaged with your content as a percentage of the total number of users who had direct access to the information. This metric also includes the effectiveness at engaging your audience and reach of your content.

Engaged User – Anyone who has engaged with your page. Paying attention to the users that are participating in your page performance can help you determine whether you’re growing an active audience.

3. Pages to Watch

Keeping an eye on what the competition is doing. Knowing what content is already generating engagement will help you find and share content that already has influence.

4. Like Source

The location of a brand like. Where are users finding your page? Knowing where a like is coming from can help you with tactics on effective and sustainable growth. Like Sources are broken down by location and include actions taken through ads and sponsored stories, page suggestions, on page, on posts, and from others through extended Facebook Reach.

Like Sources can help with understanding the effectiveness of having external connects(social plugins), what percentage of new Likes is money driven(paid vs. organic), and how many users came from a mobile device.

Facebook Reach – Represents the total number of users who have been exposed to your brand during a given period. This metric gives an accurate measure of your engaged or most influential audience members. I say audience because not all page fans will see your posts and many of those who do see your posts are not fans of your Facebook Page at all.

5. When your Fans are Online

Posting content when your fans are most active will help to generate the engagement a brand needs to be successful. Don’t plan on getting a slew of organic page and post engagement at 3AM when your page fans are most active at 8PM.

Facebook Insights is a great resource for benchmarking your brand’s Facebook performance over time and includes several other great metrics beyond those listed above. Gaining an understanding of the metrics that matter most will aid in an overall successful Facebook marketing strategy and a presence that stands out from the competition.

Which Facebook Insights metrics matter most to you in your industry?

Give Your Website the Finger

We have been saying for quite some time that the shift toward mobile devices is absolutely revolutionary across all online channels. It is no less than a tectonic movement, and is one that is shaking up the internet. Earlier this year, the number of searches on mobile devices surpassed PCs for the first time. In a world where many businesses are still struggling to comprehend the importance of mobile use, 1.75 billion consumers worldwide used smartphones in 2014.

Mobile friendly website example

Example of search result on smartphone

As you read this, Google has fully implemented the  new “mobile-friendly” label as part of its mobile search results. To qualify for this label, the GoogleBot must detect the following criteria on your website:

  • Site avoids the use of software that is not common on mobile devices, i.e. Flash or Java
  • Site uses text that is readable without manually zooming in and out
  • Site sizes its content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll
  • Site places links far enough apart so that each may be tapped easily

In a nutshell, what does this mean to design for mobile?

How would you design your website if it ONLY would appear on mobile phones?

Google also recently announced a new feature for Google Webmaster Tools that tracks common usability issues on mobile devices. The tool alerts you to problems with the criteria listed above. Google would not introduce a tool like this without the implication that, in the near future, these elements will become part of Google’s ranking algorithm. You can test your site’s “friendliness” at Mobile-Friendly Test. The test even shows you an example of how your site looks on a smartphone.

mobile friendly smartphone view

Smartphone view

When developing a website to be seen on a mobile device, simplicity is crucial. The interface must  be clean, without extraneous text, graphics or video.  These types of add-ons will only serve to      slow down your load time.  Short and sweet content, the use of conventional mobile icons, images  that are optimized for responsiveness, all of these elements are going to make the user experience  far more positive on your mobile site. And don’t forget fat fingers! Those buttons need to  accommodate ALL finger sizes, not just those that are “piano fingers.”

Also, don’t forget that one of the best features of mobile devices is that a potential customer may  simply call you or get GPS directions to you directly from your website as they are viewing it. That  is IF they can find your phone number and address!  Placement, font size and color of your basic  information should always be taken into consideration for mobile use.

With all of this in mind, the time has come to consider implementing mobile responsive design at  the beginning of the creation process instead of going back later to enhance a site’s mobile-ability  Simply resizing a website to fit on a small screen or assuming that the customer will pinch or  zoom the view on their device is not enough to satisfy those who may never view your website any  other way.

Stop resisting. The future and the present IS mobile. Start your design with this in mind this and you will have a clean, simple and responsive site that looks great and is easy to use, no matter what size the screen, or finger. You’ll be glad that you did.

Another of Google’s Dodo Birds

Another of Google’s Dodo Birds

Google Authorship Becomes Extinct

Google has done it again! They have marked the history books of online search by adding another Dodo Bird to their increasing list of extinct projects that did not succeed in the intended fashion; this time it is the Authorship program.

As of last Thursday (8-28-14) Google has stopped showing authorship in search results. We lost the authorship images back in June, but this recent Google + post by John Mueller indicated that there will be no more authorship display of any kind in organic search results going forward. This Google program ran for just over 3 years, and supported the use of structured data markup that helped to identify content authors using the rel=”author” tags and provided both a rich snippet enhancement, and supposed ranking benefits to those individuals and websites that properly used the markup.

This program’s rise & fall have come full circle; for fantastic details (beyond my own post) on the history and research behind the loss of Google Authorship, checkout the excellent Search Engine Land article co-written by Eric Enge and Mark Traphagen.

Why Has Authorship Been Removed from Google Search?

Unfortunately after a great deal of review, Google’s experts felt that they had not met the programs goals with the success that was expected, and found that it was time to lay the poor beast to rest citing two primary areas that fell short:

  • Low adoption rates and unsuccessful implementation by authors and webmasters – the numbers of participants correctly using authorship markup did not meet Google’s expectations, and it became seemingly obvious that user patterns were not going to improve. Without better participation for using authorship markup, Google felt that it was not successfully evaluating & connecting content and authorship across the internet as it had hoped to (particularly for the amount of resources they were utilizing).
  • Minimal value to searchers- especially with the ever-growing mobile search market. John Mueller indicated that Google was seeing little difference in “click-behavior” and did not feel that authorship display was offering users any significant value.

What Should You Know Now that Authorship is Gone?

According to John Mueller (who responded to a number of expert questions posted in his blog regarding this change) the following are things that you as a website owner or webmaster should keep in mind:

  • Google is no longer using authorship structured data in anyway, including behind the scenes or for other data analysis.
  • This change only affects authorship markup, not publisher markup.
  • Leaving any existing authorship markup on your site is not an issue in Google’s eyes (it shouldn’t cause problems), and could still offer users important information about you as an author if they want to learn more.
  • Google is NOT yet saying one way or the other whether there is value in linking your Google+ profile to pieces of work that you create. The inferred answer is that there still is value in the linking created by these connections, and that ultimately you will want to be connected to that which you create for other reasons (that Google may assess in new & different ways). So the markup may not be necessary to include within your site going forward as authorship markup itself has no benefit, but linking yourself to content, and authorship in general may still have value. Only time will truly tell…
  • It appears, by spot checking several Google Webmaster Tools accounts, that the authorship markup testing tool has already been removed, and that Webmaster tools is no longer reporting on authorship related markup errors.

There are plenty of people who debate Google’s real data points and reasoning for removing authorship from search display,  but the bottom line is, Google didn’t feel that this bird was flying high enough to justify the processing resources it used.  And so, like many other Google programs, services & interfaces, Google Authorship has gone extinct… like the Dodo Bird.

Special VRMA $300 Membership Offer Extended To August 31

VRMA is THE industry organization providing outstanding education and resources for vacation rental management professionals, such as:

  • Sample marketing plans, government affairs whitepapers, and many other resources
  • VRMA Weekly electronic newsletter that delivers dozens of industry articles from multiple sources
  • In-depth articles and industry updates in The Review quarterly magazine
  • Registration discounts for VRMA events so you pay the best available rate
  • Community of industry professionals who share experience and best practices with each other
  • Vendor/suppliers with products specific to the industry and to serve your business needs

Your membership begins as soon as your membership application and dues are received, and provides membership in VRMA with full benefits until December 31, 2014. Go to vrma.com/managermember  to complete a membership application today. To receive the $300 offer, select Manager Mid-Year Special as the member type on the application and let them know that Blizzard referred you!

VRMA Vacation Rental MarketingVisit VRMA’s Frequently Asked Questions page for more information about this special promotion.

If you want to learn more, but aren’t ready to join, sign up for a FREE two-month subscription to the VRMA Weekly.

If you have any questions, call the VRMA office at 317-454-8315 or visit www.VRMA.com.

VRMA Blizzard Vacation Rental Marketing


When it Comes to Negative Reviews – Have a Plan

I’m going to go out on and limb and guess that most businesses have heard over and over again that you NEED to have a strategy when it comes to responding to reviews.  Most of the time, your reviews are great.  You hand pick some goodies to show case on your website and hope that those out there on Yelp, TripAdvisor and the like aren’t so bad.  And hey, don’t the positive typically stand out over the negative?

The way we function online has completely changed how consumers operate.  More and more, customers will visit those online review sites to see what your past guests have to say.  This is a great way to gain additional business or lose the reservation to your competition.  Online travel reviews give customers a place to lodge their complaint or praise and be heard in a big way.

Monitoring what is out there about your business is a very important part of garnering feedback and making improvements to keep yourself competitive in the game.  Negative reviews are something that you should not let slide and how you address them is important to your future success. By promptly replying, you can minimize the damage and hopefully sway future guests into booking their reservation with your business.

Here are a few good tips when it comes to monitoring and responding to those negative reviews:

  1. Write your own response and definitely don’t have someone outside the business reply.  Include your name, your business telephone number and TRY your best to use actual grammar and good spelling.
  2. Address the legitimate concerns of the reviewer.  Don’t make a deal out of something that you can’t truly fix like they didn’t appreciate the décor of the rental they stayed in.  You can pass that information along to an owner and if they are so inclined, they can make changes to their rental.
  3. Definitely explain what changes you have made or intend to change.  Or, make an offer to the guest that they can’t refuse.  You can make that an online response or private response.  Either way, letting the particular guest know those adjustments you are willing to make will get passed along or read by others.
  4. Remember to be patient, and let your feelings settle before you make any response publicly or privately.  Keep it professional!

Developing a strategy makes it easier whenever you have a negative comment or review to respond to.  By continuing to address your guest concerns and comments, you are acknowledging the human side of your business and encouraging more customers to book and past guests to return.

Reviews come in all shapes and sizes.  Read this story about a bizarre and sexist review on Yelp and how the business owner made the best of the situation.  Just make sure that you have a strategy and respond to reviews, both negative and positive.

International SEO – Google Offers a Helping Hand

Out of Beta and into the real world, international real world that is! Google has just announced adding a new section to Google Webmaster Tools, labeled “International Targeting”. If you operate a website that targets visitors from more than one country, and in more than one language then this may be of serious interest to you.

Webmaster Tools Dashboard

Dashboard in WMT showing the International Targeting Option

In an effort to respond to the public out-cry for help identifying issues with hreflang annotations (the markup that enables search engines to serve the correct language or regional variation of a page in order to provide more targeted results for searchers), Google offers webmasters a tool that makes note of two of the most common problems associated with language targeting and hreflang annotations:

Missing Return Links

The first issue Google helps identify is related to missing return links; if an annotation is not confirmed from the page it is pointing to, there will be an error. For example, if page A links to page B, then in-turn page B must link back to page A, otherwise the hreflang may not be properly interpreted by search engines. For each of these errors, Google identifies where and when detection took place as well as where the expected return link should be.

See the Example Provided by Google:

Example from Google Webmaster Tools of Missing Return Links

Identifying missing Return Tags

Incorrect Hreflang Values

The value of the hreflang attribute must either be a language code in ISO 639-1 format such as “es”, or a combination of language and country code such as “es-AR”, where the country code is in ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format. If the language or country codes are not in these formats then Google reports the issue and provides an example URL to assist with fixing the problem.

Unknown Language Code Report from WMT

Example of Unknown Language Codes in WMT Reporting

For more information on getting hreflang right checkout this recent article from David Scottimano detailing examples & insights for those who need and use international SEO for their website.

Blizzard University – July 24 & 25, 2014

Blizzard University - Glenwood Springs, July 2014 - Get signed up today!

Doesn’t a trip to the beautiful mountain town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado this summer sound like a wonderful idea? Why not make it a learning experience as well! Join us July 24 & 25, 2014 for another Blizzard University Workshop. Learn from the internet marketing specialists in this 2-day informative workshop geared toward beginner to intermediate internet marketers and vacation rental managers. Book Today or visit our workshops page for more information.

Blizzard creates new partnership with Local Market Launch

As local search becomes more and more important, we have recently explored options to make sure Blizzard is using the top performing business listing management and syndication services. We are happy to announce a new partnership between Blizzard Internet Marketing and Local Market Launch for submission of enhanced data profiles to more than 250 local directories.  They will create and claim listings in directories such as YP, Manta, City Search, Hotfrog, Foursquare, Kudzu, YellowBot, Express Update, Local.com, FindTheCompany, Angie’s List and TRUSTEDsearch.org as well as push out our client’s data to major portals like InfoGroup, Acxiom, Localeze and Factual on a monthly basis.2014-05-22_0906

Through Blizzard’s partnership we are able to offer a discounted price with an annual renewal fee.  We are excited to move to this new platform giving our clients the best local presence possible resulting in high citation marks and improved Search Engine search results.  Call us today to find out more about how Blizzard can help your Local presence across the Internet. 888-840-5893

Welcome To Blizzard Nicole Polen!

 We’ve had to add a few new staff members as we continue to grow and change around here! 

Please meet one of our new additions – Nicole Polen!

Nicole grew up in La Crosse, WI but has called Colorado home for the past 15 years.  She started her college career at Western State College and earned her Bachelor’s in Graphic Design from Colorado State University.  For the last 9 years, she’ s been working as a Graphic Designer and Web Designer.  Her skill and passion brings some much needed relief to our Design Team!

Nicole, when she’s not working, loves to run, snowboard, hike , camp and literally anything outdoors.  Except, she doesn’t really care for climbing.  Apparently she doesn’t like heights too much! Nicole, Matthew (her husband) and Bella (their dog) are getting ready to hang their hats in the Glenwood Springs area to enjoy all that mountain living has to offer.

Please join us in welcoming Nicole!