How much software do I need?

Recently Harry and I were shopping in the art supply store. I was drooling over paints, brushes, and everything else. I told myself that the brushes and paint were somehow different than what I already had. For Harry, it's those sets of screwdrivers and rachety thingys from the home improvement store (that look suspiciously like the four sets we already own).

Thankfully, we do (usually) realize that while we may want it, we don't need it, or it's a duplicate of something we already have. 

While we were shopping I had a realization: Many of our clients do the same thing with software. They believe that they need to buy more software to do certain things when they probably already have what they need. They just don't realize it.

A quick Google can yield an answer.  "What software will (do the thing you want to do)?"

Try it. You'll be surprised.

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AuthorRobin Sagara
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Notice that I did not say "metrics" or "analytics" in the title. That IS what I'm talking about, but whenever I say those words people glaze over and exit faster than a wet cat. So don't you go running off just yet! Stay with me here. 

Website, email, and social media metrics - Sagara Development

Once you see how easy it is to view this kind of info, you'll be amazed at how helpful it is. You will be much better prepared to make good decisions about your online marketing which includes your website.

The info is called analytics, sometimes "metrics" or "stats" and they consist of information you can use to understand and optimize your website, email campaigns, and social media. It's the science of the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data.

Most websites and online systems will do all the heavy lifting for you and will assemble the info into graphs and charts, you only have to remember to LOOK at it.

Here's what I suggest you do:

  1. Set a reminder on your calendar for no less than once every three months. Set aside 30 minutes (or ask me or your webmaster/support person to do this for you and send you a report).
  2. Log into your website and social media accounts.
  3. Go to the place where they show you the analytics, metrics, insights, reports (or whatever).
  4. Spend a few minutes reviewing the info. You'll be surprised, I promise.
  5. Now, was that really so hard?

Want to see specific examples of what we use? Read on!

All of this type of info is widely available. What's covered here are the basics to get you started. You don't have to become an expert, but you should be able to find out if all your time and money is paying off, and if it isn't, why.

Websites / Squarespace

As with most website analytics, you can review an overview of activity, get info on popular content, see who is referring to your website, learn what search engines and words people use to find your website, what they are searching for once they are on your website, and much more.

Look at the overview graphic below. Did you do a big email campaign, a live event, a mailing, or some type of marketing in January? And now you see a big spike in views. Good! Whatever you did, it was effective. Do more of that! Did you do some marketing in October? Uh oh, something went wrong. It didn't work very well if you meant to drive people to your website. That's okay, now you know what IS working, so you can do more of it!

Metrics Overview of Squarespace Website

There is more detailed info if you want to look. It's important to know what website content is popular (see the graphic below). Did you do an email campaign and send people to a specific page? Check the info for that day, and see how it worked. 

Squarespace website metrics

 

Email Broadcasting / MailChimp

"Is my mailing list growing?"  It's THE most common question we get, but there is so much more to effective email campaigns than just growing your list. When you use an email broadcasting system, you can easily see your list growth over time and WHEN it grows. You can see who is opening your newsletters, unsubscribing, clicking through to your website, and how many emails bounced or were undeliverable due to a bad address (or a full mailbox). You can even see if people are clicking through to your social media pages.

Social Media / Facebook

On your business page click Insights (top of page), and you'll be taken to a page of all kinds of info to help you see how effective your page is along with info on how effective each individual post is. 

Individual posts will show you how many people you reached with that post, and you can read and reply to comments below each post.  

While personal pages (you have "Friends") don't have the in-depth info of a business page (you have "Likes"), there is still a lot of info you can review. Go to the View Activity Log button (upper right) for lots of helpful info. You can see a list of your posts, see who has tagged you in a post, review your Friends list, and much more.


The info in this post is to get you started. You don't have to become a website, email, and social media expert, but you should know some things about how YOUR website, email campaigns, and social media are performing. Like I said, no less than quarterly, for 30 minutes. You can thank me later!

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CategoriesWorking Smart
 
 

Using blog categories and tags properly will go a long way towards helping the search engines find you and your content, and they will help viewers find what they need once they get to your website, via a search box (consider adding one if you don't have one).

BlogCategories-Tags.jpg

What's the difference between Categories and Tags?

Think of categories like drawers in a filing cabinet, and the tags as the file folders in the drawers.

  • Categories are broader, like entree, dessert, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack(type of meal). They are topics you address on your blog.
     
  • They are the table of contents for your blog. Do as few categories as possible so it doesn't get unwieldy.
     
  • Tags are more specific like chicken, beef, cream, potatoes, butter (the actual food itself). They are specific and address items you discuss in your blog post. Use one or two words only. They should reflect the keywords or points of your article. Tags are your blogs index (categories are the table of contents). Use as many tags as make sense, although less is more when possible.
     
  • Then use them consistently and train anyone you have helping you to use them the same ways you do.

Tips for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for blogs:

  1. Do not duplicate tags and categories. This applies to synonyms also (Google understands similar phrases and will consider them duplicate content - bad). This is essential.
     
  2. Be consistent so tags and categories don't get out of control.  A well-organized blog actually adds to the usability of the site and makes it easier for your visitors to quickly find what they're looking for.
     
  3. Minimize "link bleeding."  Each page starts with 100% of link value, that value is divided up between the links on the page. Minimize links to worthless pages like Contact page, About page.
     
  4. Use widgets judiciously, they can dilute link values.
     
  5. The best links are links to relevant content.
     
  6. The category and tag links listed at the top or bottom of the post will help increase relevancy of the post (better ranking). If you are doing well you will see your category and tag pages/posts doing better than other pages on the site.
     
  7. Pages that change content often (like a blog) are good. They provoke the search engines to crawl them more often.
     
  8. Tags and categories can have multiple pages with tons of content within them. It's a good thing.
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AuthorRobin Sagara
CategoriesWeb Sites

It's been hard to focus on work, what with all the spring sunshine, flowers, birds chirping, soft breezes (and sneezing). Years ago I would have fought the urge to take a day off, thinking I needed to be disciplined and work, but not any more. I've learned how rejuvenating it is to take regular breaks, even during the week. I end up refreshed, renewed, and better able to focus. Thankfully, we live close to the Getty Center and love exploring the garden throughout the year. This spring is especially spectacular. Harry and I had a wonderful time and want to share a bit of it with you:  

Getty4-Robin-Sagara.JPG
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Harry and I are completely alike, except in some very opposite ways. We both like to be organized. HOW that happens, well, very differently. 

Getting organized is highly dependent on your personality. One person's "organized" is another's nightmare. There is no one right or wrong way. You have to figure out what works for YOU. Take a look at what we do:

There is no one right way to get organized.

Harry is a paper kind of guy, he likes to spread out. I don't like paper. Clutter makes me edgy, so I go digital. Don't let anyone tell you that you HAVE to do it a certain way. We have a client who lives by her sticky notes. All over the wall. That works for her.

Wall of sticky notes

By the way, that's Evernote I'm using on my iPad. I HAVE to have a master "to-do" list plus lists for each client/project, recipes, and personal stuff. I collaborate a lot, share files and info, and need to be reminded to do things.

Evernote is the love of my life (after Harry). I started with the secure free version, now pay $35/year ($2.92 per month) for awesome collaboration/sharing/reminder features. I use it every day both for work and personal organization and it stays sync'd across my desktop, iPad and phone. Yay!

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AuthorRobin Sagara
CategoriesWorking Smart

How often should you update your website? Whenever the information and images on your website become dated, when you have new information to add, and when you have finished and photographed new work or new products. No less than four times per year, in my opinion.  Then viewers, and search engines, can see that you are active and productive.

Very often I see websites that have not been updated in years.  Lack of current blog posts, old resumes and bios, old copyright dates, and no recent information make it very easy for the viewer to assume that you are no longer in business, not creating anything new, or that you're not really serious.

Also, make sure the design and navigation of your website are up-to-date and looking fresh. If your site hasn't had a facelift in a year or more, it's time.

Mark your calendar so you don't forget.  Get some help if you need it. It's not a good use of your time to spend hours struggling with it and your results may look less than professional.  

Contact me if you need help. Websites are a big part of what we do to help keep you going strong.

All my best to you and yours!

-Robin

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