A lot of your customers might be blocking Google Analytics

September 1, 2021
📗 Field Note

We use Google Analytics all the time to help content teams perform their best. The Ercule team has spent huge amounts of time learning the ins and outs of Google Analytics. But we’re not big fans.

For a while now, we’ve been telling marketers to prepare (gradually) for a future without Google Analytics.

This recent study suggests that in some cases, especially at developer-oriented companies, many or most users are blocking Google Analytics Javascript. Which means GA gives no data on those users.

Google Analytics will be replaced by other technologies, most of which don’t rely on JavaScript but instead measure traffic directly from the web server. (And to be fair, the study linked above was produced by one of those companies, so you can take it with a grain of salt.)

🏄 What you can do

You don’t have to do anything quite yet. In fact, you shouldn’t.

For starters, keep these Google Analytics mantras in mind:

  • Google Analytics is estimates, not gospel
  • Google isn’t your friend

And be strategic: base your content strategy on the unique goals and values of your business – then refine it with data. (Not the other way around.)

That’s how we do it for clients: by first focusing on the relevance of keywords to a business. After that’s decided, we start consulting the GA data.

Content velocity, and why it’s critical for content marketing performance

September 1, 2021
📗 Field Note

Putting words on a page is hard and, as hard as it is, it’s just one piece of making content marketing work.

Before you write, you have to have a strategy in place, and an outline, and clear goals for what you’re writing, and the reasons why.

And then after you write, you still need to:

  • Get approvals and reviews
  • Add metadata (descriptions, titles, tags, etc.)
  • Include additional elements like images
  • Add the finished piece to your CMS

On top of that, you’ve also got to maintain, optimize, and revise the existing content on your site. The time it takes to complete this process – from assigning content, to publication, to distribution – is what we call “content velocity”.

The teams that get the best results from their content are also (usually) able to move fast. They can come up with a new idea and publish it within a few weeks – and their old stuff gets updated regularly, too.

🏄 What you can do

If you’re feeling frustrated with your current content velocity, do a quick inventory:

  • Content strategy – Is everyone aligned on the program and intent? (Poor alignment leads to lots of disagreements and extra communication.)
  • Production – Is communication with your writers as smooth as possible? (Clunky communication slows down production.)
  • Editorial – Could the the review and approval process be streamlined? Can you remove some reviewers, or change them into contributors whose input is helpful, but not required? (A glutted review process takes up hours that could be better allocated to production.)
  • Technology – Does the idea of putting new content up on the site create dread? Does your team understand all the switches they have to flip to make that happen? (People can waste an astounding amount of time with a CMS they don’t understand.)

And if any of those ring alarm bells, drill down further. What are the things in your process that take the most time, and add the least value – and can they be removed?

Google updates the About This Result feature

August 20, 2021
🕵🏻‍♂️ Journal

Up until now, the little “About This Result” link on Google Search has given quick insights into any page that appears in search results, gauging things like:

  • Basic context (via Wikipedia snippet)
  • Security
  • Whether a listing is organic or paid

It provides a little more context and assurance (or warning) before you click on a link.

But Google’s adding more. New, updated “About This Result” links are providing more and more insights into why Google selected a given link, including factors such as:

  • Keywords
  • Related terms
  • Backlink strength
  • Local relevance

Try searching Google for terms you care about, and see what About This Result says about the people who are ranking at the top. (Hopefully that’s you!)

Make friends with branded traffic

August 20, 2021
📗 Field Note

Branded traffic can feel like the enemy sometimes.(Speaking from experience here.)

After all, content marketers are trying to boost non-branded traffic – traffic from people who don’t know about us already.

But branded traffic is great! It speaks to your brand’s offline activities. If someone searches your name, they’ve already heard about you elsewhere: news, word of mouth, social platforms and the like.

Plus, it directs people to your homepage or product pages. And this can be an opportunity for content marketers.

🏄 What you can do

The next time you’re pulling the usual data, spend a little longer with the branded search numbers.

  • Identify the pages that branded visitors are landing on. You can optimize them for content and lead capture forms.

  • If branded traffic is on the upswing, go congratulate your peers in the PR and social media departments. They’re the ones making this happen!

These are both opportunities to place better content, and get yourself in on more marketing conversations.

You belong in more conversations!

Paid search from scratch

August 20, 2021
📗 Field Note

We write this blog for content people. But some of you – especially if you’re at a smaller company – may end up contributing to paid campaigns, too.

And so Vincent Barr, the mastermind behind Operator, stopped by Ercule office hours to talk about the relationship between paid and organic search.

He provided us with tips for small startups who feel ready to try a paid search campaign.

🏄 What you can do

First off: Pick one platform to start.

When choosing it, make sure of a few factors:

  • The initial costs aren’t too high – aim to start with a few thousand dollars a month
  • You can actually find your audience
  • There isn’t too much expertise required to manage a campaign there

Once you choose the platforms you want for search, begin educating yourself. Google and Facebook, for example, have really substantial documentation.