Setting Up The Perfect SEO Slack Channel
Slack is an extremely efficient application for SEO groups to connect with. In comparison to competitors, the features available in Slack make it an easy choice over the rest. Skype functions well for basic communication but lacks support for large groups. Discord is much too entertainment and meme focused to promote effective work on a consistent basis. So how can one best set Slack up to be effective in Search Engine Optimization? We experimented.
After trying the alternatives, it was easy to settle on Slack as the premier communication protocol of choice. After that, it was time to get to the nitty gritty.
How could we perfect our Slack setup for SEO?
We had a few main requirements that we were looking for in our setup:
- Easy Access to Google Analytics Data
o This was a major priority as through Google Data Studio (a whole new article will be available in the near future on what this tool can do for your setup) we do most of our hardcore integration / analysis. Making slack more of a supplementary tool, prioritizing ease of use.
- Research Tools for Quick Responses / Decision Making
o From day to day, we receive requests or discover new information that requires on the fly decision-making. We value informed decisions, so how can we facilitate that?
- Ease of Use / Responsiveness
o Slack is meant to be a quick-response platform for fast communication / response time. Email communication can be slow, and so if we are going to integrate advanced applications it's best they are not cumbersome.
Slack Integrations That Didn't Quite Work for Us
Yala is a chatbot that claims to use machine learning to know the best time to post to social networks. It’s managed by one individual by the name of Yoav Anaki, and connects to your slack channel and social media accounts to queue information / post appropriately.
In Yala’s favor, it’s a cool piece of software. The fundamental idea behind Yala is sound and for more popular social media accounts (think ‘funny pictures blog’ kind of promotion) it can work well. However, Yala’s posting schedule is relatively unpredictable. If you receive a spike in traffic from hot content at a particular time, Yala may reference that time period or specific content when it’s not appropriate later. If you manage your queue’d content well you can avoid these kind of things, but it’s another hurdle that may or may not be necessary.
However, we manage a large number of social media accounts. We started by adding 50 facebook and twitter accounts to Yala to see how it would handle that level of connectivity. The rating? A total F. At 100 total social media accounts Yala quickly became unresponsive. You could still schedule posts (as far as the tool would report), but it was unable to access any information on what was already queued for which accounts. In other words, all reporting functions were broken. Without being able to figure out what Yala was about to do with our social media pages, we couldn’t use this software in good conscience. We just couldn’t put our clients at the complete whim of Yala’s machine learning algorithm with no oversight possible from the program. If this was able to get patched, I could definitely see us returning to Yala in the future.
Statsbot is a google analytics, mixpanel, salesforce bot for Slack that provides smart alerts and scheduled reports in your Slack channel. Statsbot was one of the programs we were initially very excited about integrating, but just couldn’t get to work anywhere close to our needs without dipping into the paid functionality which we weren’t ready to commit to (based on what we had already seen of the program).
One of the major disclaimers we should include in this section is that our usability of statsbot was relatively limited from the get go. We don’t make significant use of salesforce or mixpanel so the only real use we had for statsbot was for automated reporting and search console queries. For that functionality, paying per user seems like extraneous cost for not a lot of benefit. If you make large use of salesforce, it may be more beneficial for you to check out Statsbot for key members of your team. With the pricing scheme how it is though, it’s not very likely that it will be good ROI for you to use this as a main replacement for other analytic tools and custom software.
Datacard is another analytic integration system for Slack that reports your facebook insights, twitter, mailchimp, mixpanel, amplify, shopitude, and more on one platform. The most immediate standout feature of Datacard is the integration list. For certain niches, being able to request information from these services in one place is highly beneficial. However, for all the connectivity that datacard boasts – it does a poor job of providing additional insights in the data, or displaying the connected data in a way that takes better advantage of having all the information in one place. For us, the immediate comparison for software such as Datacard is a web service like Cyfe – If I could see the Datacard information in a stronger interconnected fashion such as with Cyfe, I would be much more keen on utilizing it further.
So the real killer with Datacard is the pricing scheme. If you only have one or two users or sales people who would take advantage of the reporting service, for $30 dollars a month you can add a pretty robust tool to your Slack channel. Of all the programs that we didn’t end up using here, Datacard is one of the only few that turned it into a profitability / expense argument, as opposed to a functionality or feature-set one. We can safely recommend Datacard if it fits your needs.
DataLingVo empowers your team to ask questions of Google Analytics and more by using a free-form language structure. This is very cool in practice. The language interpretation is relatively strong for what it tries to be. I think it’s an especially effective tool for sales people and individuals who are new to the SEO world. Being able to ask natural sounding questions of your Analytics data and receive the appropriate information is very powerful. The free version supports 50 questions per day which is more than enough for a small team to use indefinitely. Unless you are doing specific auditing, it’s unlikely a group of 4-6 individuals will pass that limit regularly.
However, for all the good points - one major difficulty we had with DataLingVo was integration. Our slack team was created by a different email than the one we use with Google Analytics, and this became a big hurdle for us in setting up DataLingVo initially. Maybe we were doing something wrong on our end, but we didn’t have nearly as much trouble integrating with any of the other services on this list. DataLingVo suggests you just need to invite the google analytics email account to the Slack team, but we would end up in a kind of ‘invitation-loop’ where the other account would be asked to invite the account it received an invitation from. Weird.
So, keeping that limitation in mind, DataLingVo was actually a program we would have continued using if we didn’t find an appropriate replacement in GrowthBot (see below). If you can manage to get past the hurdle that kept us from integrating DataLingVo, I would actually highly recommend it. You can sit the bot in it’s own channel if you don’t want the question & answer type spam filling up your main chat channel.
Slack Integrations We Like A Lot
So that’s a list of four slack integrations we ended up cutting from our list from various reasons. We already have our own custom analytic solutions as well as web options for reporting, so those features and functionality were not core to our business case. We mainly use slack as a small-scale quick-resposne decision making system, and so the following all worked very well for our needs.
Arc summarizes google analytics in slack using simple summaries. While it sounds pretty basic in functionality, we really like Arc for it’s simplicity. It does a good job of interpretating the analytics data at a glance and giving you a digestible version. For instance, it can let you know whether your Audience Engagement “stayed the same” or “increased a little” by comparing the current cycle’s average visit duration / bounce rate etc. and making an observation.
When you are working with 50+ SEO clients at a time, you don’t always have hours each week to pour over the analytics data with a fine tooth comb to make initial observations. It’s extremely handy to have those (in our case weekly) reminders of a site’s performance so you can do further manual investigation if necessary. The name of the game in SEO is efficiency and automation, so having that at our fingertips has been very powerful for us.
One limitation with Arc though is that the free version only offers a single summary. This is acceptable for us as we only really use Arc for alerts on a single domain, but for power users the pricing scheme becomes an issue. Even with a paid sub, you only receive “5” summaries which is not really sufficient. They claim you can add additional summaries for free with no limit with a paid sub, but this remains to be proven. Something like DataCard is actually overall more effective than Arc for what it does, but the interpretation of the results given by Arc is really popular thus far. Caveat; our use case is very limited.
Growth Bot is a chatbot for marketing and sales written by Dharmesh Shah, the founder of HubSpot. Growth Bot is a particularly interesting tool. We’ve already talked about DataLingVo in this article, and this program is a very similar tool – but not limited to your google analytics data. It utilizes HubSpot architecture and other google analytics requests/connections to let you ask simple information of the web or about a website and receive a fast response. What does that mean?
You can ‘show me top posts from thiswebsite.com’ to see what’s popular on a domain.
You can look up emails, you can check top keywords for a domain, you can see top posts for a keyword, company overviews, etc. It’s a very powerful piece of chat software. There is no pricing scheme and the bot is very responsive – we haven’t had any trouble on our end with disconnections or bot spam like we have some of the other software here. While I would not advise using Growth Bot as a complete replacement for analytics tools and data (it’s not Ahrefs), it can be very effective when trying to make a quick profile for sales of a potential lead, or during brainstorming sessions to look up key data quickly to make informed recommendations. Very unobtrusive tech that works well at what it’s designed to do.
Increasingly in SEO, page speed and other technical factors are becoming more and more important. You can see this in Google’s attempts to push AMP, as well as smaller changes such as reporting the page load speed in SERPS on mobile. Monkey Test It provides automated web reporting of basic technical factors including On Load events, On Click events, Broken Links, Basic SEO Tags, and page asset size. You can set up automatic reporting to let you know when stuff is broken, or what needs to be fixed.
While you can most definitely achieve this functionality with other tools, Monkey Test It is free and only tells you there is a problem when one occurs. It’s not practical to manually check page speeds and asset load times for dozens of clients on a regular basis.
The simplicity of Monkey Test It is what we love about it. Simply /monkeytest
Because what SEO Team doesn’t use GIFS? In actual practice though, everyone seems to prefer JPGs. Will need to put more research into GIF tools to convert more to the dark side. Stay posted.
Any Slack addons you use that your team loves? We’d like to hear about them.