Driving Traffic - Leveraging Google tools on Higher Logic Websites

By Jacqueline Tierney posted Sep 30, 2014 12:19 PM


Higher Logic does online communities best, and Google tools will help you to drive traffic to your communities.

Google Analytics (GA) is a free service that allows you to view how many people visit your website, where they are coming from and which pages they access when they get to your site. It works via a simple injection into the head tag of the pages that you wish to track (see instructions here).

But that only scratches the surface. GA gathers actionable data-sets on your behalf. These analytics work as a “rearview mirror” of past activity on your site, providing you with the insight that you need to tweak your site’s structure and content to improve user access and engagement. Specifically, GA tells you which elements of your site are working for you and which are not. For example, the “%Exit” metric will help you to isolate the pages from which users leave your website, while the “Top Content” metric reveals the pages with the highest conversion rates. Based on these stats, you can make meaningful changes to your website’s information architecture, design or structure to drive traffic.

But solid analytics alone will not help you to drive traffic to your website. Sustained user engagement starts with valuable content. In the past, organizations could get away with a presence in one of what Higher Logic’s Dave Sabol refers to as the traditional media spheres. These include Paid Media (print, radio, TV, PPC), Owned Media (websites, blogs, email marketing, communities) and Earned Media (content produced via word of mouth or sharing as seen on Twitter, Facebook, Q&A sites, Wikis, etc.). With the advent of social media, organizations increasingly rely on media produced by the intersection of the three traditional spheres. For example, if content on your website is valuable enough to be shareable, bloggers may repurpose that content and share it on one of their social media outlets. This intersection of Owned Media and Earned Media endorses your organization’s content for free to a potentially unlimited number of followers, greatly expanding the reach of your brand.

That sounds awesome in theory, but how can you quickly drive users to your content so that they can begin share it, tweet it, blog it, etc.? Keep it simple and create a marketing strategy in these key areas: Keyword Searches, Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Optimization.

I. Keyword Searches -  Google Analytics can tell you how users are arriving on your website. Chances are that some portion of them are still landing on your brand via traditional key word searches, so it is crucial that the search engines are properly indexing your website. How can you test which keywords will successfully drive traffic to your site? A tool such as Google AdWords can help you to quickly gage demand for particular keywords:

  1. On Adwords, upload ads and select a set of keywords that describe your organization and the ads
  2. A user performs a keyword search via Google
  3. If the keywords you’ve chosen in Google Adwords match the user’s search, your organization’s ads will populate next to or above Google search results
  4. The user clicks on your ad and is redirected to your website

Based on the results of your AdWords campaign, you’ll quickly identify which keywords command the highest demand. Leverage these words in your website’s title, description and page specific descriptions.

How do you figure out which keywords to test via AdWords? Analyze content that your target web audience creates. Choose keywords from what that group of users says and writes rather than drawing solely from content that your organization has produced.

II. Social Media Marketing – Broadcasting your brand to the public at large (aka Google) is a solid first step in the fight to drive traffic to your site. Now, let’s access your target audience. With paid social advertisements, you can push your brand to your specific demographic. If executed properly, paid social advertising will tap into your existing communities, thereby driving “more qualified” traffic back to your website than Google (folks who are more likely to share your content).

For example, let’s say that your organization has invested time and money to produce really valuable content such as an industry whitepaper or video. Consider promoting it via Twitter Promoted Tweets, Facebook Promoted Posts or via a small paid ad on one of your target audience’s favorite social media haunts.

III. Search Engine Optimization – Remember, driving traffic cannot begin without valuable content on your website. According to Blake and Dave, building quality content is a more cost-effective, long term marketing investment because content can be crawled by search engines for years and gain strength overtime. Quality website content is also a more credible endorsement of your organization than paid advertising. There are entire careers dedicated to SEO, but you can achieve site indexing success with a few simple tips:

Before Google and the other search engines can index your site, the engines must know that the site exists. The information architecture and content on your site must be written in the right language – the keywords that end users actually use when searching. As stated previously, analyze your Google Analytics reports and test with Google AdWords to gage keyword demand. Then, build your information architecture, site title, metadescriptions and content around those keywords.

Your website’s ranking in the search engines is not determined by keywords alone. When compared to other sites that feature similar content, your site should keep users engaged longer. The content should also incite users to take action (comment, share or like), calls to action that are already built into your Higher Logic community site.