Why Catch Key Words and the Long Tail?

Long Tail ImageOur eighth Analytics class focused on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which determines how prominent (or where) your website site will be listed in unpaid/organic/natural search results via Google or other online search tools.

A key part of attaining optimal SEO for your site is understanding your target audience’s search behaviours.

We learned that people usually access websites to solve one of the following types of queries:

  • Navigational – to find a specific URL
  • Informational – to find any information from an address to an in-depth research study.
  • Transactional – to complete a task, usually a purchase

A key part of mastering SEO seems to be identifying the keywords people use to find your site. Two main types for keywords are: one word to short terms (2 – 5 words) called Popular/Lead keywords; and longer, detailed phrases, called Long-tail keywords.  You need both for success.

As expected, transactional searches are the highest value because they usually generate revenue but I found it interesting that these are also the more detailed, long-tail words or phrases.

There are also other psuedo keywords, such as ‘Trophy Term-Keywords,’ which may drive traffic to your website but this traffic doesn’t convert or behave how you want it to, likely because it’s not a good fit between your audience and your site. For example, a term like ‘call to arms’ might drive military oriented people to a site but they will quickly leave if it’s about prosthetic limbs.

Sofia provided a great list of links and tips for maximizing SEO. Even pointers like setting URLs in the country of your target audience and putting keywords in JPG titles helps.

To compile a list for my senior project, I used Google’s keyword generator tool for my site, then searched my competitors’ sites and ran the generator for their sites.  I found many popular terms, like: senior care, help for caregivers and help for elderly.  I also found the following particularly useful long-tail options:

  • practical tips from real caregivers
  • outside resources
  • here to share advice from the community
  • online community for family & professional #caregivers
  • Where Caregivers Survive & Thrive
  • Caregiver’s Survival Network
  • family caregivers taking care of a loved one

As my project progresses and the content is clearer, I will re-do and refine my searches to find more.

(Photo: Taken by Gabor from Hungary via Morguefile) 

Interacting Within and With the Caregiver Community

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 11.45.24 PMAs a niche social network, interactivity will be the core DNA within Senior Care Share — the social network for Canadian caregivers. One of the site’s key goals is to convert visitors into members of the network, who return to the site at least once a month and actively participate by reading, posting or responding to others’ posts in the various modules. To guide the conversation and discourage detractor/troll behaviour, new members will be directed to review the rules of engagement. These rules will be easily accessible and enforced by the site administer, as required.

Plans are in place to develop the following two core modules within the network, with the intent to scale up to more as the site evolves:

  • A Searchable Question and Answer (Q&A) Discussion Forum (similar to Quora)
  • A Searchable Module for Ranking Senior Accommodations

In the Q&A Discussion Forum, members can interact by posting practical questions about how to best care for their senior family member/loved one. These questions can cover daily care, healthcare or even seniors’ recreation/entertainment needs, such as: Does the Ontario government cover the cost of a walker? or Which Ontario entertainment venues provide hearing devices for seniors?  Subsequently, members can interact by answering each other’s questions and posting relevant links/images.

To steer the narrative and encourage dialogue (or even visits  to the forum), the network administrator will monitor public affairs/ongoing news and regularly post timely, as well as mass-appeal, questions. The administrator will also seek and enter informed answers to many of the posted questions to grow the site’s appeal, particularly in its early days.

Text prompts and compelling icons/buttons will also urge members to interact by clicking a button to ‘upvote’ answers or enter comments about others’ answers.  The upvoting functionality will tactfully help streamline content toward practical useful information versus bursts of emotion.

Members visiting the Ranking Seniors’ Accommodation module will interact by ranking seniors’ accommodations, according to various criteria, and providing comments, based on their own experience. Members will also be encouraged to click a button to highlight helpful reviews .  To direct engagement and give members ideas, major seniors’ facilities will be pre-entered in the module and text will prompt members to evaluate them. Members will also be able to add facilities that aren’t pre-listed.

To further entice members to engage and build the site’s preliminary content, Senior Care Share’s staff will recruit and nurture site advocates. These advocates will be encouraged and rewarded (through ‘social’ credibility and other incentives) to enter accommodation reviews related to their experience or participate in the Q&A module.

As appropriate, the site will also include feature articles and interactive tools that offer ‘evergreen’ information for caregivers. One tool might be a wizard to help caregivers identify the correct battery for their loved one’s hearing aid — as getting the right match is imperative but this information is not prevalent. Other tools/wizards can be developed based on Q&As posted on the site.

Note: Illustration from PowToon application file.

Adding and Measuring the Impact of Mobile Apps

MobilePhoneMeasureSmallFor week 7 of analytics, we focused on how to measure the impact of an app — be it for entertainment, practical or promotion purposes.

Given the development work behind each app, I think it’s particularly important to measure their analytics so that you can course correct, as required, to maximize the investment. This means using app analytics to learn: who downloads the app,  how they discover it  and how frequently they use it (if at all).

Although app analytics measures many of the same metrics as web analytics, like number of visits and sources, I thought it was interesting to note some of the subtle differences between the two.  For example, I noticed that app analytics metrics include:

  • Screen resolutions (as well as screen size and orientation)
  • Varied types of mobile devices used
  • A stronger focus on groups of users — including user’s friends who also use the app and ‘cohorts’ (i.e., segments of customers that downloaded the app during a common time period).
  • “Usage” instances and frequency, since downloads/installs don’t correlate with engagement/use.

Like web analytics, you need to define metrics and KPIs. For example, you need to define an ‘active’ user’s level of engagement (frequency, duration).

We also looked at various tools for measuring app analytics. However, Sofia pointed out that the metrics they measure are not evenly distributed among the categories of apps available. Specifically, current tools are more focused on marketing metrics, like search engine keywords used to discover them, versus content metrics, such as the app’s longevity/life cycle and number of app/widget installs a user has.

Of the tools we looked at, I particularly liked Flurry Analytics because it provides benchmark measures and several distinct metrics, such as user personas. However, it didn’t look like it provided search engine keywords, which you needed to measure through other tools, such as App Annie, as its Key word ranks feature.

For the exercise, I selected a made-up ‘package ingredient analysis app’ promoted through an Instagram campaign. I identified KPIs and measuring tools as:

  • „Number of active users (Flurry- Event- Use)
  • „Average increase in users (over 2 week time periods) – (Flurry – Funnel Analysis)
  • Number of people using the app at 2x per week or more (Flurry – Retention – Return Rate & Event – Use)

I identified metrics and their tools as:

  • „Search engine words used to find app (App Annie – Key word ranks)
  • „Number of installs (Flurry – Funnel –Downloads)
  • „Number of users who have installed the app vs. Instagram users (app installs and Instagram audience)
  • „Personas using app (Flurry – Audience Interest – Personas)
  • „Use of this App compared to other lifestyle apps (Flurry – Audience Interest – My Apps Interest)

We also explored and discovered several other worthwhile app analytics tools, including:

  • Amplitude – Focuses on user engagement, including: segmentation, cohorts and churn.
  • AppSee – Indepth analysis of users and everything they do with app (for a steep price)
  • Ninja Metrics – Focuses on customers and is well suited to game apps
  • Localytics – Unique tool that integrates analytics with marketing to help produce push campaigns

This class opened a new world of analytics — and there may be an app for that too.

Integrating Legal Safeguards to Sustain Users’ Trust

Dr. Cavoukian addressing audience.
Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Executive Director, Privacy and Big Data Institute, Ryerson University, outlines the advantages of embedding privacy in technologies, at a February 28, IABC event in Kitchener, Ontario.

Relevant Legislation & Best Practices

As my senior project is to develop a niche social media network for Canadian caregivers, it must address three key areas of Canadian/Ontario legislation:

In addition, I need to provide ‘Community Guidelines’  to ensure users act appropriately. Along with behaviour guidelines, I must embed references to privacy and copyright law in these guidelines. In addition, I must make it clear that this social network isn’t liable for undesirable outcomes, due to community members’ advice.

The third area, accessibility and AODA, outlines escalating legislated requirements that must be incorporated into all web properties to accommodate people with visual, audio, motor and cognitive disabilities by 2021. This presentation by Ad Web Com provides a clear explanation of this legislation and will be a good reference for developing this niche network. Similarly, CASL will control my solution’s need to take a ‘permissions-based’ approach to recruit members but will not impact online documentation.

I also need to adhere to copyright law, ensuring I am legally allowed to post specific content and providing credit, as required.

Given the sensitivity of personal healthcare information, which caregivers or my community members may share about their loved ones, PIPEDA is my highest legislative priority.

Safeguarding Trust Versus Legislation

Steps to address these areas falls under mandated legislation or legal recommendations/best practices. However, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Executive Director, Privacy and Big Data Institute and Ontario’s former privacy officer, is advancing a global Privacy by Design standard to embed privacy as a default in all technology. For my niche network, this means ensuring that De-identification Protocols are incorporated in the code from the onset.

Furthermore, Dr. Cavoukian positions privacy as a competitive advantage, not debilitating compliance. In many ways, I think all these legal requirements/recommendations or ‘safeguards’ can be considered a competitive advantage because they all help to win and sustain the community’s trust.  I want to keep this in mind, when I address prospective members and describe this niche social network.

Legal Documentation Models 

As examples, I reviewed privacy and community guidelines for:

One of the key tenants of transparency is making things clearer. LinkedIn, Tyze and Carezone have tried to do this in their policies/guidelines.

For example, Carezone, uses a second person voice, a reassuring tone, user-centric headings (e.g. how we protect your data) and plain language to specifically explain how it uses technology (e.g. encryption), physical safety measures (e.g. private network residing in a data centre monitored 24/7), policies and procedures to keep data private. This includes providing specific examples, such as: “We transmit your email address to UserVoice so we can interact with you through email, but we give them no further information about you.” In contrast, the Caregiving Space uses exhaustive legal terminology to explain its privacy and other guidelines, writes some sections using almost illegible all capitals, and offers vague assurances, such as: “… use industry best practices approaches about security measures to prevent the loss, misuse and alteration of the information.”  Where possible, I think it’s most effective to adopt Carezone’s voice, editorial style and more specific approach.

Both Tyze and LinkedIn go further to enhance the user experience when conveying policies and community guidelines. Tyze provides the required legal documentation, as well as a short synopsis in a conversational voice. And LinkedIn, provides friendly user-centric explanations, much like Dr. Cavoukian’s ‘privacy as an advantage’ position, and offers short (1.45 minutes or less) videos to explain user agreements and privacy. I think it will be particularly beneficial to use videos, as LinkedIn does, to explain policies and community guidelines to the caregivers network members to help ensure clarity.

Reviewing these guidelines, particularly those from Carezone and LinkedIn, gives me a framework of key topics for my network’s privacy and copyright sections. I’d like to apply Carezone’s same second person voice and plain language tone for the Community Guidelines.

For example, the Privacy and Security Guidelines should include:

  • How we collect your information
  • How we use your information
  • How we protect your data
  • Information sharing and disclosure
  • Third-party services
  • If there’s a problem
  • Reporting a problem

There are likely more topics to address in my legal documentation but this is a ‘safe’ start.

Linking to Success With Social Media

For week 5 of analytics, we dug deeper into social media with a focus on the value of Google+.  Although Google+ may seem less intuitive to use, you need to evaluate its use in terms of your goals. Specifically, if you want ROI or engagement, Google+ may be well worth the time it takes to set up because it controls ‘who’ sees what you share by controlling how high your organization comes up in Google searches.  Sofia showed us a couple of examples from her own business, when she posted on Google+ and how it boosted the company’s online prominence.  I thought this was effective and drove the point home.  With my senior project, I think it may be worthwhile looking into Google+ ‘communities’ that pertain to senior care but also I think it will be important to have a presence on  Google+ so that might key words and organization will be found.

We also learned than ‘not all links are created equal.’  A key way to optimize search engine results to your site (SEO) is by having links from other website’s connect to yours. However, we learned the strength of these links varies according to various criteria, such as:

  • Authority or credibility of each site linking to you. (It’s better to have links from established, high profile sites like Buzzfeed or the Huffington Post than a blog run by one person with a few subscribers)
  • Number of other sites each site links to. (If it links to a high number of other sites, its link is of less value.)
  • Where your link appears (The Jackpot to have your link in the title or anchor text but this is rare.)
  • Relevance of the sites linking to you. (If you pay for links from an essentially ‘content-free’ site or link farm, there is little value)
  • Authority and Page Rank of the linking page

I also learned the word ‘Social Signals,’ which is when someone likes, recommends or shares your post.  So with my senior project, I ideally want many ‘high value’ inbound links, ideally from relevant healthcare/senior care sites and to generate many ‘social signals.’

Caregiver Personas: Connecting Dedication with Digital

Persona Example Image

Unless an interactive solution meets a human need or desire, it’s just a surge of energy-sucking pixels. To prevent this, you need to start with personas. According to the UX Lady, personas “identify real users’ profiles’, needs, wants and expectations” and help us answer ‘what’ each would do when faced with decisions, both on and offline.

My senior project is to develop a niche, social media network to help informal or unpaid caregivers (i.e., people who are responsible for overseeing the care of family members or other loved ones), specifically those who care for senior citizens.

Many of these caregivers are 45 to 65 years-old and called the ‘sandwich generation’ because they’re raising their own children, while caring for elderly loved ones. According to studies, these caregivers make up a fifth of Canadian professionals and are often “short of sleep, grumpy….and take it out on customers and colleagues at work,” but they are more than this. They are diverse people, living multidimensional lives.

To find answers, I developed personas, based on composites of more than a dozen caregivers I know personally, plus many I’ve read or learned about through recent research and my communications work with Ontario’s Community Care Access Centres.

They included:

  • Gillian,  theTechnopeasant on  a Mission,’ who is single, 61-years-old and responsible for her 92-year-old mom, who recently pulled a tendon.
  • Bruce, the ‘Hipster Tree-Hugger,’  who is a 52-year-old teacher, married with kids, and cares for Mary, his 83-year-old mom, who still lives in her own home…but that is changing as her scenario unfolds.
  • Nadira, the ‘Techno Diva,’ a 45-year-old, software executive, married with one child and caring for her elderly parents, who speak minimal English, including her 82-year-old father, who’s being tested for sleep apnea.

I built these personas using a hybrid mix of templates from the UX Lady, creative agency Fake Crow and our interactive media course last term. I also reviewed other personality models, such as Microsoft’s archetypes for cross-screen engagement, which I thought particularly relevant to tech savvy caregivers juggling home and work tasks; I thought how each type applied to caregivers I’ve met. From these resources, I identified, merged and created categories that touched on characteristics, such as their goals and frustrations, that can inform ‘how’ I build a social network to support their caregiving needs.

When I presented my personas for the class critique, much of the feedback centred on Gillian. I made her proficient at searching for answers online but lacking any kind of mobile phone.  My classmates thought it impossible that someone who was a senior’s lifeline wouldn’t have embraced the convenience of mobile. However, I based this persona on a real, digital immigrant who didn’t user computers until she was 32 and finds the consistent presence of devices, in boardrooms to diningrooms, offensive. Having heard similar objections from other Baby Boomers, I don’t think Gillian is an anomaly but I tweaked her persona to be more ‘open’ to mobile — someday.

Other suggestions were:

  • Including less affluent, non-professional people
  • Including a younger 20 to 30 something demographic as a secondary audience for cases when they are the only family nearby

I think including less affluent/non-professionals was the most important suggestion and adjusted my personas accordingly. I stayed with the ‘sandwich generation’s’ age range based on my research but will consider younger caregivers as a secondary audience for my overall solution.