Posts Tagged 'Reporting'

February 29, 2012

Fruition: Tech Partner Spotlight

This guest blog features Fruition, a featured member of the SoftLayer Technology Partners Marketplace. Fruition's SEO and SEM reporting web app provides highly accurate reports on search engine rankings and onsite signals that impact your Google and Bing rankings. In the video below, learn a little more about Fruition (and a few key SEO/SEM tips for small businesses) from Fruition's Brad Anderson, and scroll down to read about SEO Goals and Key Indicators.

Company Website: http://fruition.net/
Tech Partners Marketplace: http://www.softlayer.com/marketplace/fruition

SEO Goals and Key Indicators

Google's Feb 2012 Update

Between February 25-28th Google rolled out another big set of changes to their algorithm. These changes knocked down a lot of short cuts that SEO companies were using, including blog networks. The red flags have been there for a long time. Blog networks are easy to uncover simply because of the complexity of trying to setup a truly diverse hosting environment. It is not just separate C-class IP addresses it is also registrars, DNS, admin login IP addresses, plug-in profiles, etc. There are so many easy ways to group sites as being related or identical that it is not worth the effort of trying to take short cuts with your linking. Instead focus on what is going to have a lasting impact on your SEO:

  • Page Speed – Improve your code, increase your hardware, etc.
  • Better Onsite Content
  • Usability

These three factors will have a lasting impact on your SEO during 2012 and beyond.

Get Your Strategy Together

Successful internet marketing campaigns have one thing in common: Comprehensive strategies. Today's marketplace makes it extremely difficult to compete in one area of internet marketing without complimenting that work in several other areas. For example, why invest in search engine optimization if you don't have a quality website to convert the traffic to leads or sales? Why invest in a mobile app if you aren't going to optimize the listing to generate a high volume of downloads? These examples show how a comprehensive strategy to internet marketing is the best approach for future success.

Fruition.net has been successful in this comprehensive approach by staying at the forefront of each individual strategy. At the core of these strategies is a collection of goals and key indicators we use to monitor, adjust, and track performance. Below you will find a few of the most important goals for each area of internet marketing.

Comprehensive Internet Marketing Strategies

Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website with the end goal of improving your ranking on the major search engines. Here are the goals and key indicators you should be tracking to evaluate the success of your SEO campaign:

  • Keyword Rankings — This one is easy! Determine which keywords you think will generate more business, write them down, and track your rankings for each of them every month. Side note: Make sure you aren't logged in to your Google account in order to receive unbiased results.
  • Non-Branded Search Traffic — This is the traffic that has come to your website via the search engines, but the visitor did not use your brand name in their search. Your website should already be capturing the branded searches, so the real test is how much non-branded traffic your website is generating and increasing each month.
  • Conversions — This is where the rubber meets the road. Increases in rankings and traffic are great, but ultimately these campaigns are all about generating new leads or revenue. We track phone calls, email inquiries, and revenue numbers for our clients to give them instant feedback on their marketing investment. Some clients take it a step further and track the leads via a CRM to produce a tangible return on investment.

Pay Per Click (PPC)
PPC is a quick method of generating an increase of traffic to your website. You are literally paying for each click, but watch out because your budget can quickly get away from you if you don't know what you are doing. Here are the metrics you should be following to ensure a quality PPC campaign:

  • Quality Score — When someone clicks on your PPC ad, you can direct them to any page on your website. It might be the home page or a specific landing page, but whichever page is chosen will be given a Quality Score (scale 1-10) by Google. This quality score measures the relevancy of the page as it relates to the PPC ad. The lower the relevancy, the higher the cost per click. Therefore, you want to make your landing page as relevant as possible and don't advertise unless your landing page Quality Score is 5 or higher.
  • Cost Per Conversion — This should be your #1 key indicator for tracking purposes. The cost per conversion measures the total cost it takes to generate a lead or sale. The beauty of this key indicator is that it encapsulates all of the moving parts of a paid search campaign: ad design, ad bidding, quality score, landing page design, landing page quality, landing page calls to action, etc.

Social Media
Social media has been a big buzz word for the past couple of years and for good reason. People are spending A LOT of time on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and the like. If you are going to compete online, then you need to at least have a presence with the major channels. Here are a couple ways to measure your effectiveness:

  • Likes/Fans — This is an easy one to track. How many people like your business on Facebook or are following you on Twitter? The larger the number, the better. Search engines like to see a large following because they feel it represents authority and a leader of the industry.
  • Shares/Retweets — There are free tools available that can provide you with the number of times your content has been shared or retweeted. Another case of bigger is better because it shows the people who are following you are engaged with your content.
  • Google +1 — So far we have not seen a correlation between getting +1s and higher organic rankings. That has to change or it seems +1 will be considered a failure.

Website and Application Development
Building a new website or mobile application is a very detail oriented project that requires a well defined process. The best way to track the success of your campaign is make sure your process is well documented with dates attached to each of your deliverables of the project. The time spent up front in the planning stages will bring clarity to the project for all involved and help the project stay on task. Below is a platform that can be built into a very detailed list of deliverables for a development project:

  • Define the Scope of the Project
  1. Project Management
  2. Calendar of the project
  3. Resources needed (human capital, scheduling, technical proficiency, etc)
  4. Wireframes for the user interface (mapping the visitor flow)
  5. Approvals
  • Creative – Design Work
    1. Logos and branding
    2. Image and video content
    3. Clear calls to action
    4. Concepts presented to clients
    5. Revisions as necessary
    6. Client Approvals
  • Coding and Development
    1. Hosting environment
    2. Platform development
    3. Installation of all scripts, APIs, tracking, etc
  • Testing
    1. Cross browser testing
    2. Bug fixing
  • Optimization
    1. Titles
    2. Headers
    3. Descriptions
    4. Alt Tags
    5. Content

    Internet marketing is a rapidly changing marketplace. Employing several complimentary strategies and monitoring the performance will provide you with the greatest opportunity for success. Good luck in 2012 and may all of your internet marketing strategies come to Fruition!

    -Jonathan Mills, Fruition

    This guest blog series highlights companies in SoftLayer's Technology Partners Marketplace.
    These Partners have built their businesses on the SoftLayer Platform, and we're excited for them to tell their stories. New Partners will be added to the Marketplace each month, so stay tuned for many more come.
    November 22, 2011

    Semper Fi + Innovate or Die

    How can I emphasize how cool my job is and how much I like it? I can't believe SoftLayer pays me to do what I love. I should really be paying tuition for the experience I'm gaining here (Note to the CFO: Let's forget the "I should be paying to work here" part when we go through my next annual review).

    My name is Beau Carpenter and I'm writing my first blog for SoftLayer to introduce myself and share some of my background and experience to give you an idea of what life is like for someone in finance at a hosting company. In a nutshell, my mission with is to understand, organize and report every dollar that comes into and goes out of the company. These financial reports are reviewed internally, shared with our investors and used when we have a trigger event like the merger with The Planet last year.

    To give you a little background about who I am, the most notable thing about me is that I'm a third generation Marine. My grandfather served in WWII, my father served in Vietnam, and I joined during the Gulf War, serving from 1991–1995. After completing my tour and receiving an honorable discharge, I returned home to Texas to get my education and start working ... while growing a family of four.

    After I earned my bachelor's degree, I went to work at Rice University for Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize for discovering nanotechnology. Rick was a fantastic mentor, and when he recommend that I join Rice's MBA program, I thought it was a pretty good idea. It didn't hurt that his glowing recommendation gave me a great foot in the door to the program. I earned my MBA from Rice in May of 2005, and headed out into the corporate world ... If you can call SoftLayer, "corporate."

    The majority of my coworkers probably have no idea what I do because I spend a lot time tucked away in my office running numbers. As you probably could have guessed, in financial analysis/reporting, strong numbers are a lot easier to report than bad ones, and SoftLayer's numbers have been so good that they keep me up at night. I know that sounds strange, but I'm up every Sunday night and month-end at midnight so I can communicate our company's progress for the past week or month as soon as it is over. Some may not find that late night work appealing, but being numbers jockey, I can't help but be excited about sharing the latest information ... even if it could technically wait until the next morning.

    I've been in denial for a few years, but after rereading that last paragraph, I have to admit I'm officially a nerd now.

    I've done financial and nonfinancial metrics analysis for a couple of companies before I landed at SoftLayer, and the difference between this company and others I've worked for is night and day. The culture here is healthy and positive, everyone's focused on their work, and the company provides a lot of perks to keep everyone going. Energy drinks, super-cool coffee machines, endless snacks ... but the most important perk is the general sense of camaraderie you get from being around a team of professionals who are passionate about their work.

    Kevin asked me how I'd compare my experience at SoftLayer to my experience in the Marines, and I think the most resonating similarities are the shared sense of purpose and the close ties I have with my team.

    Semper Fi + Innovate or Die.

    -Beau

    January 26, 2011

    Time for an Oil Change?

    <Fade In>
    Man driving into Jiffy Lube, car sputtering and smoking.
    Attendant: "Looks like you need an oil change buddy."
    Buddy: "Yep, I think so. I was here last week and I think they used the wrong oil!"
    Attendant: "Nah, we wouldn't do that. In fact we only have one kind of oil here and that's SAS 70."
    Buddy: "Well, that's odd; I am told that I need SSAE 16 for mine to work right."
    <Mass Confusion>

    Welcome to my world! We have SAS 70 today, but soon we will have the new synthetic, non abrasive, engine-cleaning SSAE 16. Sounds fun right? I sure hope so.

    Why the change? Good question. When SAS 70 first appeared in the early 90s, the world's economies weren't quite as intertwined as they are today. It was much harder to do business globally than it is now. (I think the "fad" called the internet has a little something to do with that but I could be wrong!) Now that the oceans have shrunk to a more manageable size, there is a need for the standards that companies use worldwide to match more closely. The goal of the U.S. Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements 16 (SSAE 16) is to meet a more uniform reporting standard.

    What's the difference? It's an "attestation" not an "audit." Google and thefreedictionary.com define attestation as "To affirm to be correct, true, or genuine," and audit as "an inspection, correction, and verification of business accounts." Though they are closely related, they mean different things.

    What stay's the same? The focus will still be on controls at service organizations when the controls are relevant to their user entities' internal control over financial reporting. (For some reason, servers tend to have quite a bit to do with that!) There will still be a Type 1 and Type 2 with similar scopes in format. The reports will look very similar but they should be a bit more descriptive. The report will still be used in the same methods and by the same type of user.

    What Changes? SSAE 16 is now an attestation and not really an audit. The service auditor will still provide an opinion but it will align itself more closely with existing international attestation standards.

    • Written Management Assertion - Management will be required to provide an assertion, to be included in the report, stating the system is fairly represented, suitably designed and implemented and the related controls were suitably designed to achieve the stated control objectives, and that the controls operated effectively throughout the period. The report will reference that management is responsible for preparing the system description, providing the stated services, specifying the control objectives, identifying the risks, selecting the criteria and designing, implementing and documenting controls that are suitably designed and operating effectively. The auditor's opinion remains in the role of providing assurance, not as the entity responsible for the communication.
    • System Description - The more inclusive description must detail the services covered, classes of transactions, events other than transactions, report preparation processes, control objectives and related controls, complementary user controls and other relevant aspects of the organization's control environment, risk assessment process, information and communication systems, control activities and monitoring controls. (I think an accountant came up with all of that!)

    There are quite a few other differences but I think these are the big headliners. SoftLayer is committed to making this change and having it available for our customers that require it. Our normal SAS 70 schedule is Nov. 1 – Oct. 31 but we will be accelerating the process to have the SSAE 16 in place as soon as possible.

    We are continuously looking at other compliance, reporting, audits and certifications. If you have any that would help you and your business, let us know.

    -Skinman

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