Website Launched for Nicole Apelian

Check out our latest website, developed for Nicole Apelian. Nicole is a scientist, mother, educator, researcher, expeditionary leader, safari guide, herbalist and traditional skills instructor. She also is one of 10 hardcore survivalists who participated in Season 2 of the History Channel’s hit show Alone.

nicole apelian website home

Nicole Apelian website Speaking Engagements

Dealing with Ghost/Spam Traffic in Google Analytics

Over the past few months, a previously minor issue with Google Analytics has exploded into a huge problem. This GA referral spam, or ghost traffic, takes the form of fake traffic to your website. The apparent objective of these spammers is to get people to visit their websites, based on the fact that they show up as a referring website in GA results. The worst of them manage to show up in reports for almost every website that uses Google Analytics.

This isn’t even real traffic that hits your servers. Instead, it appears in your reports by tricking Google. We have seen this traffic for a few years, but until this past spring it rarely made up more than a small percentage of total traffic. At past levels, it was a very minor annoyance, and easy enough to ignore. But now, the problem has escalated to the point where over 50% of traffic to some sites is fake. And this gets in the way of using your data to make intelligent business decisions.

In general, Google has been fairly quiet on this issue, although they did recently add in a checkbox that allows you to filter out some of the junk. Unfortunately, they have not done a great job of keeping up with the spammers, although in recent weeks there are signs that they are getting better.

In June, a new spammer joined the fray, “”. For a few days in mid-June, traffic from this site exploded like nothing I’ve ever seen, for most  of the sites that we monitor. But then, on June 19th, it appears that Google cut them off. In addition, it seems that other referral spam slowed down at that point (although it is still too early to say for sure). So for now, the worst of this problem may be behind us.

Luckily, we are not completely at the mercy of Google on this issue. In addition to using the checkbox mentioned above, there are also 2 more technical options available to reduce, and nearly eliminate, this traffic. One method involves creating filters, which will eliminate all future junk traffic from hitting your reports. The other involves creating segments, which allows you to view a clean version of your data, while segmenting out the junk.

I won’t go into all the technical details here, as others have done a very thorough job already. has published this article on filters and this one on segments. And for a slightly different perspective, check out the filters and segments articles.

Not sure which you need? Ideally, you should set up both. Segments will allow you to get clean reports from past data, but take a little extra time whenever you want to run reports, among other limitations. Filters can take a little longer to set up, and will not clean up your historical data, but they are more efficient going forward.


7 Steps to Positive Reviews – Seminars and Webinars

We’ll be offering a presentation on the “7 Steps to Positive Reviews” several times in July. In these presentations, you’ll learn about the importance of online reviews, and about strategies to obtain more positive and fewer negative reviews. The seminars and webinars below are all free, but space is limited so please RSVP.

7 steps to Positive Review for Local Businesses
  • July 8th – 9:30 AM – Seminar in our office. RSVP
  • July 16th – 11 AM – Webinar – register to reserve your spot.
  • July 16th – 6:30 PM – Seminar in our office. RSVP
7 steps to Positive Review for Medical Practices
  • July 9th – 11 AM – Webinar focused on the needs of Medical Practices, offered in association with our subsidiary WebForDoctors. Register to reserve your spot.


Content Marketing Tips for Local Businesses

To continue the discussion I began in the last post about why Content Marketing is important, today I will provide some tips to help local businesses develop content.Content Marketing Bullhorn Megaphone Audience Customer Outreach

The starting point will generally be your website. The exact content on your site will depend on the type of business you are, but if you are a brick and mortar business, a critical part of your site involves your location(s).  If your business only has one location, you might not need an actual location page – but only if your homepage is acting as your location page. For businesses with multiple locations, you’ll definitely want to have a unique landing page for each one, along with an index of all of the pages.  As your total number of locations grows, the number of levels/pages within your index will also grow, generally divided by region.

On your location page(s), you’ll want to include the unique contact information for that location, along with most or all of the following:

  • hours of operation
  • service area covered
  • an embedded Google map of your location
  • pictures of the location, to help customer identify you as they approach
  • directions, landmarks, or other tips to help people find you
  • products, services, or other factors that are unique to that location
  • testimonials from customers that reference that location
  • links to more detailed directions pages from major landmarks or surrounding towns

As your business evolves, you’ll want to keep your location pages up-to-date.  Then, you’ll want to consider other ways that you can add content to your site.

Website Sections that can Grow

A blog is the most basic tool that can be used to easily add content to a website.  This content is added chronologically and/or by category.  Which begs the question, what are some categories of a blog that are useful for a local business? Here are some ideas:

  • product or service updates
  • company announcements
  • employee profiles
  • case studies
  • featured complimentary partners
  • local resources of interest to your target market (even if these are not related to your own product and service in any other way)

Of course, you can create other sections of your site that can grow over time. Or, you can always use blogging technology without calling your content a blog. The important thing is not what you call it or exactly where it lives, but to have at least one place on your site that easily accommodates fresh content.



Why is Content Marketing Important?

In the world of online marketing, content marketing is the process of using articles, images, video and other types of content to attract ideal prospects for a business. It is a key element, and in the opinion of many marketers synonymous with, the term inbound marketing. The overall goal of content/inbound marketing is to create and publish an ever increasing and evolving set of content that answers the questions that your prospects are asking.

The basic tools or methods of content marketing include:

  • Content is king conept in word tag cloudWebsites
  • Infographics
  • Blogs
  • Guest blog posts
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Social Media
  • Photographs
  • Press Releases
  • Testimonials
  • eBooks
  • Slideshare presentations
  • Email Newsletters
  • Webinars
  • Directories and review sites

Getting Started with Content Marketing

For most businesses, the foundation of your content marketing efforts will be your website. Starting with the basics about your business, adding on details about products and services, providing case studies and testimonials, and directing people to your places of business are all core functions of your website that depend on the presentation of informative content. Websites should be built with one or more areas (such as blogs, event calendars, sub-pages with service offerings or case studies) that can grow over time.

From there, the content on websites needs to be shared in the places your audience is likely to be looking, or simple hanging out. Optimizing for search engines is one big piece of this puzzle, along with promoting on the appropriate social media, building relationships with relevant traditional media outlets, and interacting with your prospects anyplace that they might spend time – in both the digital and real worlds.

Why is Content King?

Back to the 90’s, the term “Content is King” first became popular in the world of online marketing. While great content has always been critical, it seems like the term has had a resurgence in the past few years. To conclude this blog post, I’ll list a few key reasons why content, and the marketing that goes with it, is so valuable when growing a business:

  • Fresh, engaging content will help your search engine rank – basically, Google loves sites that have pages that regularly change, and/or that add new pages. The more that people who click from Google to your site stick around, the more likely your rank will improve on the next search someone does.
  • Engaging, relevant content will help people learn who you are and what you do, increasing the chance that website visitors or social media followers will become customers.
  • Writing about your business, and even collaborating with employees and/or a hired writer to create content, will help you and your team improve communication when interacting with customers and prospects.


Google Livestream AdWords Presentation

When:  Wednesday, February 11 at 8:45 AMevent_banner

Where:  Pasternack Marketing – 5257 NE MLK Jr. Blvd. Suite 202, Portland, Oregon 97211. Coffee and snacks will be provided.

Cost:  FREE!  Please RSVP, space is limited.

About the Presentation

Google will be livestreaming a presentation with 2 AdWords experts, exclusively for agencies in the Google Partners program. At the conclusion, we’ll have a short presentation of our own, to discuss how we can help you work with Google and other online advertising options. The livestream speakers will include:

Leveraging Technology to Thrive

Todd Rowe, Managing Director – Global Channel Sales.  Todd will talk about how small businesses can differentiate themselves from their competitors through digital marketing.

Advertise Your Business Online

Fred Vallaey, AdWords Evangelist. Fred will cover how small businesses can navigate the web and expand their online presence through smarter insights.



Presentation: Using Content Marketing to Grow Your Business

When:  Wednesday, February 4 at 6:30 PMcontent-marketing

Where:  Pasternack Marketing – 5257 NE MLK Jr. Blvd. Suite 202, Portland, Oregon 97211.

About the Presentation

We’ll be delivering a 20-30 minute presentation about how you can use content marketing to build your business, followed by a question and answer session. The presentation will cover:

  • the types of content that you can create
  • how to establish a voice to keep your message consistent
  • creation of an editorial calendar to plan and schedule content additions
  • ways to promote/repurpose content on social media
  • how you can measure your content marketing efforts

Let us Know You Are Coming

Please RSVP using the following form:

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your Phone

Your Webpage

How did you learn about this event?

Reputation Management Defined

In the world of online marketing, Reputation Management is the process of influencing the information that exists about a person or business throughout the Internet. Your website plays a role in this process, but most of the information in question lives on other websites. These include directories – Google My Business and Yelp are the most important for most industries – as well as social media sites, news websites, and blogs.

Review Monitoring on Buzroo to help with Reputation ManagementThe nature of this content is that it is user generated. Since you, as a business owner, do not write the content, you can never completely control it. Instead, you can learn to be aware of the conversations that are happening that involve your brand. If something negative comes up, there is often an opportunity to learn and improve. And with appropriate efforts, you can encourage your customers to spread the best qualities of your business far and wide. We like to think of this as the process of cultivating your digital landscape.

Key elements of the reputation management process include:

  • Monitoring review sites for new reviews
  • Making sure your information on all review sites is accurate and complete
  • Internally addressing issues if a negative review occurs
  • Responding to negative reviews (sometimes publicly, other times privately)
  • Responding to positive reviews (sometimes publicly, other times privately)
  • Monitoring social media and blog sites for mentions of your brand, and responding as appropriate
  • Monitoring news sites for mentions of your brand
  • Looking for opportunities to be quoted in a news story or otherwise get positive news coverage of your brand

To help you with many of the steps above, Pasternack Marketing has been developing a suite of web-based software tools called Buzroo. The image above contains a screenshot of the Buzroo Review Monitoring tool. Stay tuned for the official Buzroo release coming soon!



The Collaborative Nature of a Successful PPC Campaign

10997835056_2006b594f3_mWhen getting started with digital marketing campaigns, many business owners think they can hand off the project to a pay-per-click expert who will take care of all the work. While your PPC specialist should be able to do the bulk of the work, they will never know your business inside and out like you do.  The PPC process involves many subtle details, and your insight is invaluable in getting the most value for your advertising dollar.

A recent Search Engine Land article “5 Incredibly Practical Reasons To Do PPC In 2015“, makes this point very well:

PPC is collaborative. As much as you might like to hand it all over to the PPC pro and never have to look at the pay-per-click account again, true PPC strategy comes with collaboration. You are the expert of your business; your PPC manager is the expert of PPC. Together, you collaborate and forge great ideas and ways to execute on any goals you may have for the business, its products and services.

When we are hired to help clients with PPC campaigns, we start by working with our point of contact (who could be the business owner, a general manager, a marketing manager) to learn about your business.   We then do research to compliment what we learn from you, by studying your competition, your industry overall, your community, and other relevant topics.  From there, we set up your campaign, but the work is not done.   At that point, we being an ongoing process of making improvements, fending off competition from other advertisers, and working to maximize your return on investment.

Input from our point of contact helps in the following ways:

  • Understanding keywords – we’ll figure out the basics when we set up your account, and then set up your campaign such that synonyms and other variations will trigger your ads. By using the AdWords Search Terms Report, we can see the exact words and phrases that people who visited your site searched on. Sometimes, we need your input to learn whether a particular search variation is valid for your business. Collaboration is especially helpful in determining “negative” keywords, for which your ads will not appear.
  • Ad Copy – when running a PPC campaign, it is a best practice to always run 2 ads against each other. When enough data has been collected to determine that one ad is the better performer, the other ad can be paused.  Then, we test a new ad against the winner. When our clients help with brainstorming new ad copy ideas, we tend to get stronger copy.
  • Landing Pages – In addition to editing the copy of an ad, we can also improve PPC results by improving the copy on the landing pages linked to ads. Again, we usually benefit from collaborating on this process, and at the very least require approval of new pages.

While I’ve written this article from the perspective of an agency collaborating with a client, the same general rules would apply if you are running your campaign completely in-house. Anyone managing a PPC campaign will benefit from open lines of communication with their co-workers who are producing the goods or services that need marketing.

Local Online Marketing in 2015 Lindteigen’s recent article in, “Google Maps, Yelp & Local SEO In 2015“, provides an excellent review of the current state of Local SEO.   Much has changed in the past year, due to Google’s “Pigeon” algorithm update, which is designed to deliver more relevant local results to searchers.   In many cases, the effect of this algorithm is that the first page of Google shows fewer specific businesses, and more links to directory sites such as Yelp or

The two most important directories for most businesses are Yelp and Google My Business (which has evolved from Google Places, and is quite distinct from traditional Google organic search).   Lindteigen gives great advice on getting started with these key directories, and then optimizing your listings, obtaining reviews, and engaging with reviewers.   But, it is important that you don’t STOP at Google and Yelp.

For a slightly more technical article about optimizing for local search, check out “Post-Pigeon Best Practice: How To Optimize For Internet Yellow Pages & Directories“.  This goes into more detail about how and why to optimize your business on online Yellow Pages and business directory websites.

The good news?   None of these techniques are brand new – most of the same best practices from before Pigeon are still advised today.  In my experience, sites that were already focused on cultivating a positive online reputation and having a consistent Name, Address, and Phone number across all directories, social media sites, and beyond have continued to grow.