Posts Tagged ‘Social Media marketing’

Get Ready for 2011 SEO

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

The new year is almost upon us and 2011 will mean some major shifts in SEOland. Of course every year brings major search optimization shifts. Google makes 550 algorithm changes in a given year according to Wired magazine.

A big shift in 2010 heralds some of the changes for 2011. The Yahoo Bing merger of search results has given Bing a 25% share of the search market. Google still retains their 70%+ and will battle to maintain position, while Bing attempts to grab more market share.

So far we who toil in the SEOland trenches know that speed will be a factor in 2011. Slow loading sites and pages will suffer in the rankings. If your site relies on a slow loading Flash splash page, or your designer didn’t properly compress your image heavy pages, you will see your position erode throughout 2011.

We also know that Social Media will play a larger part in ranking algorithms. Those indicators have been creeping into search toolbars often called “Social Media Index”. We know that being mentioned in Twitter, Facebook, Digg and Technorati is monitored by Google and Bing, we don’t always know how it is affecting rankings.

One of the biggest changes we will be seeing in 2011 is the ability of Google to look at user interaction with a website and rank that site accordingly. Bounce rates, time on site, number of page views will all be a part of ranking. The signals are loud and clear – you will be judged by your industry standards. You must have a site worthy of visitors, or Google will not place your site in a position to attract those visitors via search.

What do you need to do to make it in the next year of search? Be distinct. Have unique value. Engage with your community and if you don’t have a community – build one.

Keep these four factors in mind as you look at your site from a search perspective.

  • How many good inbound links do you you have?
  • How well are you represented in social media?
  • How well do your users interact with your site?
  • How does your site compare to others covering the same subjects?

As we get into the next year, we will be heading inexorably towards the new ear of search. We will need to spend more time, effort and money on becoming Search Engine Marketers. The old “flavor of the week” game the system techniques have become less effective than ever, and 2011 may mark their permanent demise.  Gaming the system may still work somewhat, but the strategic goals of the search engines are working against it. Remember – Google and Bing have obscene piles of money to accomplish their goals. Helping them achieve those goals is in your best interests.

To do that we must think more like traditional marketers. Offer items of value, produce good content, engage your visitors. The engines are watching. They will take note of how valuable your site is to your community. Value will be rewarded.

The beauty of a more traditional marketing approach is that it will be kind to you as the years go by. As search engines improve algorithms they will do a better recognizing sites that are seen as valuable by users. Search optimization is a never ending task. There are thousands of competitors who are spending time and money trying to take over your position.

You can retain your position and improve upon it by using a holistic approach to your online marketing efforts. Then, the changes at the search engines make are likely to favor you at the expense of your competitors who take a more short-term tactical approach.

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How Brick and Mortar Transfers to the Net

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Many business owners from the brick and mortar world come to the internet and feel that that it is alien territory, bearing no resemblance to anything they have handled in their previous brick and mortar world. Yet there are more similarities between online internet marketing and a store on Main Street than you might suppose.

Some business owners come to the online world thinking that like Jack, they have found a magic bean that will grow them an instant money tree. While in some rare cases this may happen, sales will grow over time online, just as they do on Main Street.

The net is not a replacement for a brick and mortar operation, at least not in the beginning. It is an enhancement. Old school brick and mortar techniques are still useful online.  The basics of marketing and advertising are still the same. The goal of attracting new customers and retaining and building old ones is still the goal of online marketing. The only difference is the marketing method.

Here are more similarities between the two:

Location. Your business location on Main Street is vital to foot traffic, your brand, your very presence in the area. Online your ranking – where you appear on the search page results is just as vital. Just like your brick and mortar location, your internet location needs to be easily found by the right target  audience. You would never open your storefront in a back alley. You never want your site to be relegated to the back pages of the search engines.

In the B&M world you can change your location by renting new space. You can’t do that online. You need to have a search engine expert help you rank on page one for the keyterms that your target audience is using to find your products – whether they’re trying to find you or a competitor selling the same or similar items.

Demographics. In the brick and mortar world, you chose your location based on research. You want to be close to your target audience. You don’t want to be miles away in a strip mall when the people buying your products and services are visiting the Mall of the Americas.

This demographic research needs to be done online, too. If you don’t  know who your target audience is, how can you sell to them? How will you write copy that will appeal to them? How will you know where they hang out? How will you know how to talk with them, how to engage them?

In the world of internet marketing, this research has an added element. Keyword research. Too often business owners (and even some search engine experts) look at only two factors – how many people are searching for that word and how many competitors are going after that word. This information is only one small part of  keyword research.  Using keywords that come from that research without digging deeper and finding the “right” keyterms is not going to result in good sales numbers.

If you’re selling ladies coats, and you insist on ranking for “coats” you will get more traffic. But you will also have a lower ROI due to the number of visitors who are NOT ladies and thus are not finding the product they are looking for. Don’t make the mistake of having “pet” keyword phrases. Let your market be your guide. They use their own pet terms to find you, and their language and terminology should be what you use to attract them.

Marketing. The same marketing you use in the brick and mortar world can be used in online marketing. Yellow Page adverts? List and/or advertise in the Yellow Pages online directories – there are about a dozen of them that reach world wide.

Weekly circulars? Set up an email campaign that is targeted to your buyers, your prospective clients or special interests.  Online coupons are just as effective as print coupons. An opt-in box on your site with a good giveaway can entice prospects to trade their email address for the special free offer to grow that mail list quickly.

Phone solicitation? Use social media – Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Squidoo like sites. Used wisely and well these social sites will bring the customer to you – rather than cold calling and phone hangup frustration.

TV ads? One word – YouTube. Video is even more powerful as an online marketing tool than a 30 second spot on a late night cable show. And in actual fact you can use Google TV ads to make your own ad for commercial TV.

The best way to create an effective internet marketing campaign and successfully bring your business online is to remember the lessons of brick and mortar marketing. They compliment online marketing, they don’t compete with it. As a successful brick and mortar business, you are one step ahead of competitors who only know the online world. Use that hard won knowledge to carve out your online niche.

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SEO and Viral Content

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Have you ever looked at a video on YouTube and seen views over 1 million, or even over 2 or 3 million? If you’re a red blooded marketing person you probably drooled as your eyes turned glassy dreaming about that many visitors.

You will hear internet marketers promoting software or programs or techniques that will give you viral content. But you will NEVER see numbers even close to 10,000 by using any of these “tricks”.  You see, these techniques forget a very important fact about content.  The content has to be something someone actually wants to watch/read/listen to.

One of the masters of the viral content game is OK Go.  Their latest video features a choreographed dance with dogs. More than 6.5 million people have watched it on YouTube.

According to Ok Go’s lead singer Damian Kulash, “Content succeeds online,” he said, “because it brings people joy, it makes them smile — it’s interesting enough to be passed along to friends and family members. That’s no stunt,” he said, “it’s just a matter of making something that’s genuine and interesting.”

There’s no amount of savvy or gaming the system that is going to make people like things that are not likable.

We can expand that last statement  (which completely explains why all those programs and techniques won’t work) to read “There’s no amount of savvy or gaming the system that is going to make people like things that are not likable or useful.

Here’s the thing about the net – it’s built around people. Long ago the page rank of a site was an indicator of how many other sites found the content likable and useful. But guess what? Things have changed. Now actual real people “like” content and share it with friends, colleagues, and family. Social has overtaken the net and people, not sites, determine who has the best content. (Which is why page rank doesn’t matter nearly as much as it once did.)

Take a good hard look at your content. Does it talk about you? How great and good and wonderful you are? Be objective – is that content anyone wants to spread to their circle of people? Probably not, unless you have one of those foot long gold statues that are given out at awards ceremonies in Hollywood.

What is your content doing for your visitors? Is it educating them? Is it answering questions for them? Is it making their lives easier? Is it entertaining them?

Are you providing a place for lively discussion of ideas on your Facebook page, your blog, or your forum? Have you built into your site or your social media efforts an engine that will allow more and more content to be built up over time? A repository of useful information in your field?

Or is your site like the millions of others on the net –

  • page one – welcome to my site
  • pages two through 1000 – here are my great products with a one line description and a fuzzy, out of focus product image
  • page three – all about me
  • page four – contact me

This yawner formula is certain to make you a part of the thundering herd of similar sites and prevent you from ever “going viral”.

You see what works on YouTube – the basics – entertain, impart USEFUL knowledge, provide LIKABLE content, works with search engines as well as with people. The more likable content you have, the more the engines will visit and the higher you will climb in the rankings, bringing more and more visitors to your site. Those visitors are asked a ton of questions every single day that begin with “Where do I find…”

This is what viral truly means. When the answer to that question is YOUR site, and YOUR URL gets passed around in FaceBook, Twitter, eMail, and Smart Phone conversations – you’ve GONE VIRAL.

Your site will never achieve the Holy Grail of Viralizm unless you have that likable content in place.

How do you create likable content? Stay tuned and tomorrow I’ll go into the nuts and bolts of how to create that likable content.

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Why SEO AND Social Media Marketing are an Investment

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Are you one of the companies who feels you don’t really need to spend any money on SEO or Social Media Marketing? I know times are tough. I know money is tight. And I know that many companies are tightening the budget. Search Engine Marketing isn’t free. Neither is Social Media Marketing. And cutting corners or even eliminating online marketing efforts completely can look attractive. But money invested in your online marketing can be the best investment you ever make for the health of your bottom line.

Let’s look at SEO first. Do you know what percentage of your visitors are finding your site from organic search? If not take a look at your Google Analytics. If those aren’t available, take a look at your raw server stats. If those are unavailable hop over to Alexa.com and look at their numbers.

Is it 60%? 10% ? 85% ? If it’s above 50% – will you be able to replace that many of your leads and prospective customers without spending any money in any other channel? Can you afford to lose those visitors? The net is a competitive arena, and if you don’t continue a link building campaign, if you don’t continue to create and distribute quality content, you will lose your organic traffic.

Maybe you’ve heard that Social Media is where it’s at. So you might consider pulling your money from the Search Marketing campaign and throwing it all into Social Media marketing. You’ll get some Social traffic, but without a properly optimized site it’s like pouring water into a leaky bucket.

Maybe you think that you can pull ether one or both inhouse. After all the mail room guy says he knows all about Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. And he probably does – as a user of those services. But will he know how to set up the profiles in a way that gets them found by the right audience? Will he know how to conduct the conversations that will get users interested enough to visit your site?

Social Media has two important areas. Setup is the most important. If your setup is not done well, you’ll be building on a shaky foundation laid in quicksand. Social Media is a conversion layer NOT a sales channel. You CAN NOT SELL DIRECTLY to friends and visitors on your Social Media channels.

Social Media is like a good ShamWow infomercial. It introduces your and your company and products to prospective buyers. You have to get them interested and then make them want to buy, and then convince them to buy from you.

With SEO they are ALREADY interested, you just have to move them to your site and show them what they want.

Tapping someone to run a Social Media campaign who knows how to use Social Media, not how to market Social Media is like taking your receptionist who knows how to use MS Office and having her pitch your new operating system software to the folks in Redmond.

If you are thinking about cutting back on your SEO or Social Media efforts, or doing one without the other, remember – you’re playing in the big leagues. The day is long gone when you could throw up a site and get visitors and sales almost by default. You’re competing against brands and companies who command armies of experts.

But the really cool thing about the net is that you can STILL level that playing field and you can go head to head against the giants AND WIN if your experts are good at building foundations, engaging in the right conversations, and making your site appeal to your prospects.

Holding back on your online marketing investments can prevent you from building up the momentum you need to overcome your competition. Holding back on your online marketing investments means you won’t see your conversions increase even if your traffic doubles. Holding back on your online marketing efforts means you will lose market share and stop growing. And in the online world, if you stop growing, in time you’ll just be another web site languishing at the bottom of those 5 million pages that aren’t in the first 100 search results for your products and services.

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Social Marketing and SEO

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Site owners who have come onboard for the wild Social Media Marketing ride probably don’t see the common tie between Social Marketing and SEO. Oh sure, Facebook backlinks to your site help drive traffic and rankings, but there is something much more important that ties all of the social world to SEO land.

The underlying rule in Social is exactly the same as the number one rule in good search optimization results. You have to give before you get back.

Those business entities building out their social profiles so they can push their products have hit a ten foot thick brick wall. Quite simply – pushing product on Twitter and Facebook isn’t a good strategy. In fact it can have some negative results – quickly.

The response from consumers in these channels is as clsoe to instant as you can get online. Consumers are giving the same response in SEO land, but it’s more muted and registers only as a fast click OFF your site, to be seen and noticed only in the “bounce rate”.

In the land of blue birds, you’re more likely to get a pithy one liner “u r lame dude”, or in theFaceBook universe “Go peddle your stuff somewhere else. This isn’t the place for it.”

The idea behind Social Marketing efforts is to ENGAGE the consumer. To give them good content in exchange for their “like” or friendship. Just like it’s older brother – SEO – content matters. Quality content. Engaging content. Content with some value.

The best links in search come from sites that find your content useful, interesting, and valuable. They NATURALLY want to link to you because of your content, not because of your sales message.  Becoming an “authority” site, trusted by Google only happens when you are trusted by surfers and other sites.  Authority sites with good, NATURAL linking strategies are rewarded with higher rankings.

Friends and followers talk to each other about you

In the land of electronic water cooler discussions, your engaging content is rewarded by “friends”. Friends talk to others in their circle and recommend the good, warn about the bad and trash the ugly.

When you were in grade school you probably found out that you couldn’t buy friends. Or at least if you could, it wouldn’t work for long. You ran out of money, or the other kids complained to an authority figure, or your “friends” took your money and then turned their back anyway.

You can buy links. You can buy “friends” on Twitter and Facebook and even YouTube. But it won’t work for long. Get caught by Google or the social giants and you could get a virtual size 15 boot in the posterior. No sit down with the principal and a cry for leniency here on the net.

You have to give before you get. You have to have good content, or a good offer. “Friend me and I’ll give you x amount of days on a subscription. Friend me and I’ll give you this super cool whiz bang product.” That’s as close to buying friends as you can get.

But think about this. About a year ago Ashton  Kutcher threw down the gauntlet to CNN and said he could hit 1 million followers on Twitter before they could. And he did it. In the Social Media scene, being a part of a movement, a part of a group, a part of a cause if you will, yields the really big numbers.

Ashton Kutcher and CNN ENGAGED their audience. They bypassed greed, and the other deadly sins and went straight to the mind. Irreverent, funny, silly, maybe even stupid, but it WAS engaging! And CNN now has more than that first million followers and I am certain that they haven’t limited their engagement to fluff Tweets and updates on their Farmville progress!

They have leveraged those followers and friends into an audience that visits their site and consumes even more content.

Social Media AND SEO marketing efforts need to ENGAGE before the visitor, friend or follower can be LEVERAGED into a customer. Keep that in mind and you may just find Social Marketing is YOUR new best friend.

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How To Win The Internet Marketing Game

Friday, October 8th, 2010

I feel incredibly fortunate to have lived through the beginnings of the biggest revolution our society has ever witnessed.

The Internet.

It may be called the Electronic Revolution, it may be called the Digital Divide, but make no mistake. Computers, smart phones, and electronics all have on thing in common – the Net. In less than two decades it has swept just about every corner of the world, changing our lives and how we view ourselves and others forever.

The faceless, nameless millions who work, play, shop and hang out online are really not so faceless. There is a real live human being behind every keystroke, behind every post, every sale, every tweet. And yet we tend to forget that those real people exist.

When I put my first site online back in ’98, a community site that in it’s own way was a precursor of the socialReal people are behind internet marketingmedia world we know today, I was stunned. I sat there in all my geekiness watching stats. OH someone from Germany just paid a visit! How cool!. Hey there’s a person from Norway! Oh and look – East Bofunk is hooked in, too!

I sat at my computer into the wee hours of the morning watching people coming to my site from all over the world, people I didn’t know, had never met, people who were mere wisps of electronic signal. I visualized these people, they were more than just dots or numbers, they were real people reaching out to me across thousands of miles and THEY WERE BUYING my services – without my having to do a single thing.

This was heady stuff! And then these people started conversations on my forums. They exchanged information with each other, they talked about the net and their own lives. They were real people, there was flesh and blood behind those electronic signals. A hundred sites, then ten thousand, and today 10 billion are serving these people in ways never imagined. An integral part of their lives, a place some call home. A social revolution undreamed of just a short time ago.

Today, 92% of babies born have their picture online before they are 6 months old. Today, smart phone carriers breeze through a living maze in minutes thanks to Google Earth maps. Today, we have a front row seat to every event happening anywhere in the world (except maybe China) whether it’s a flood in Pakistan, a political upheaval in Iran or the new Fall line of a major fashion house. Today, 1 in 3 products is bought online.

Are you a part of this revolution? Are you engaging your audience on Twitter and Facebook and chat boards? Or are you still waiting for a flesh and blood person to walk through your door? Even if they DO walk through your door, they will be changed. They will be better informed, thanks to their online research. They may ask you why you have negative reviews about your shipping process. They may ask you what your Facebook Page address is in case they have questions after the sale.

You see, no matter how much things have changed, no matter how much online marketing and social networking have become a part of the sales process, your customer is STILL real. They are still flesh and blood, they still respond to the same sales process, just in a different media.

Have you embraced the social revolution or are you being trampled by it? If you don’t understand it, if you don’t engage in it, you’re not hanging out where your customers can be found. And you’re losing prospects and sales.

It’s easy to jump in. Just remember that those faceless people are real. The way you speak to them when they walk into your establishment, or call you on the phone works just as well in online marketing as it does offline. No matter how far reaching, or how pervasive the revolution, one thing has NOT changed. REAL people are sitting at that keyboard. The same people who used to walk in or call your business.

The only difference is now you can reach a LOT more of them, and they won’t be your real life friends and neighbors. Make them your digital friends and neighbors and you’ve won the internet marketing game.

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How Much Traffic Will I Get From My SEO Efforts?

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Just about every day I hear business owners talk about SEO efforts. And one of the first questions they tend to ask is “How Much Will My Traffic Increase?” There are two answers that should be given to these owners by a reputable SEO expert.

1. It depends

2. That measurement is not really relevant to your business

In the real world of Internet SEO Land we rarely give those answers or if we do, they aren’t worded quite that bluntly. Here’s the WHY behind those all important answers that you, as a business owner need to understand.

SEO is not a one size fits all. There are many details and strategies that go into an SEO campaign. There are 100 interlocking pieces that come into play, and that’s before the engines decide to change how they look at those efforts.

Here are just a few of the elements that need to be considered and assessed way before the first keyword report is even run:

How well constructed is your site? Is the page code clean, compliant with modern browser regs, and stripped to it’s bare necessity? Or is it bloated with useless comments, script calls, lengthy ways of handling menu buttons, with real content – spider food – not beginning until code line 1500?

Search engines like nice clean code with page content starting as soon as possible in the page source code. To be successful with your SEO you need to make life easy for the search spiders. Convoluted code makes their job harder, and guess what? There’s a bunch of sites within hailing distance that are easier to read. Spiders won’t spend forever on your site – if they can’t read it in their language quickly enough, they move on to a more welcome place.

Do you have a social marketing strategy with frequent Facebook and blog posts, daily Tweets, well described videos on video sharing sites, social group involvement and mentions in bookmarking sites? Google likes content. Google likes links. Google likes FRESH, updated content linked to your site from a variety of sources.

These links and posts can have a great bearing on your SEO efforts, as well as adding to your traffic. Target your keywords to your ideal customer

And finally – how much traffic is available? Yes there are millions of people searching for millions of things – but how many people are actually, realistically searching for what you sell? If 1000 people a day are searching for your blue wooly mammoth blankets, you can’t expect to get 10,000 visitors a day from your search efforts. And if you ARE getting that many visitors, that brings us to question number 2.

HOW much traffic you receive is not what you can take to the bank. How much traffic you CONVERT to sales is the most important metric to track. A search campaign that sends the wrong visitors to your site WILL boost traffic numbers, but it will also boost the number of visitors leaving your page very quickly – called the bounce rate. And those departing visitors won’t be adding money to your bottom line.

A successful SEO campaign is NOT about sending traffic. It is ALL about sending TARGETED traffic through your sales funnel. Once your ideal customer is defined, it is far easier to set a realistic traffic goal. And here’s a tip to discovering how well you’re doing in numbers that really count.

Watch your competitors. If you are on target – using the right keyterms for your target audience, your traffic numbers will be going up. In most cases, you will be taking visitors away from your competition, or getting to them before competing websites do.  Their traffic numbers will start going DOWN.

You can see their traffic numbers at Compete.com as well as your own numbers.

Keyword research is not the first step or the most important step in an SEO campaign. Targeting and reaching the right visitor is. And until that step has been accomplished and tested, answering “How much traffic…” is just crystal ball gazing using a totally fogged up glass sphere.

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How to Fail Online – The Easy Way

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

By our very nature we humans concentrate on how to succeed rather than how to fail. But sometimes we follow what we think are the rules and success doesn’t come our way. When that happens, whether it’s our marketing campaign, our social media engagement, or our seo efforts we need to look at failure factors.

Why is your business online? Is it because everyone else is here? Is it because you can start an online presence easily? Or is it because you want to spread the word to more people than you could ever hope to reach in the physical world?

There is a very important unspoken rule about internet marketing. It’s not what you’re doing or selling, it’s how you PRESENT what you’re doing or selling. No matter what you do, no matter what you sell, someone else is doing it or selling it. The online world is teeming with both customers and competitors.

Getting lost in the crowd is easy. Being unremarkable online is easy. Failing online is easy. What’s far harder is to stand out in the crowd, to present your products and services in a way that is memorable, a way that people respond to.

Being humans we tend to use all our senses to remember people, places and things. Our sense of smell is one of the strongest memory triggers we have. My mom always got up before us and started breakfast cooking. I can’t smell a particular type of bacon frying without being instantly transported back to my childhood bedroom waking up to that smell coming from the kitchen.

But we don’t have smell-o-vision – yet. So we can’t use it to trigger customers and visitors.

Sound is high on the list. I will bet you still do an instant flashback to your first kiss when you hear “that” song starting to play. But sound is tricky. “That” song for me could remind me of the worst date night of my life.Is your site a yawner or does it stand out in the online world

Sight is next. Not quite as good as the other two senses, but it certainly is one we can use in our online marketing efforts. And using visual elements to stand out from the crowd is something most sites don’t do. I don’t mean that super flashy opening screen. I mean our sites and their elements themselves.

Most sites today are made from some sort of template. And most of them blend right in with the next one. And the next, and so on. Oh the colors may change, but everything else is a yawner.  Nothing memorable about them.

But you start reading anyway. And before long you’re trundling off to the next site on the list. That is,  unless you’ve gone to sleep reading the deathless prose on that site and nodded off with your forehead kissing the keyboard. “Our company is dedicated to serving you, our customer with the best products at the most reasonable cost, thus saving your department wasteful management costs and future equity development in the fine field of widget making and mannufacturing”.

Yuck! First of all you’re not the best just because you say so. As a customer I decide who is best. Second of all if I want a droning speech I’ll turn on CSpan. To quote a memorable ad campaign – Where’s the beef? Where’s the excitement? Where’s the difference between you and everyone else?

When you started your company, when it was only a gleam in your eye, some notes on the back of a napkin weren’t you excited? Didn’t you clearly see the differences between you and your competitors? Didn’t you present yourself with that excitement and those unique sales points to everyone around you? Didn’t you shout it from the rooftops to the point where you stopped getting invitations to backyard barbecues and luncheons with your friends?

One company I ran was started during the dot com era. In my presentations to investors I included a Doonesbury cartoon poking fun at the “burn rate” my competitors were so proud of and pointed out that our company was different because we actually MADE money not just spent it. We didn’t always get the cash we were after but we were memorable! We received all sorts of help from some very unexpected places because we stood out in their minds and were remembered weeks and months later.

Does that excitement and uniqueness come through on your website? Or are you a yawner? Will I remember your site? Will I remember YOU? If I don’t I sure won’t be bookmarking you or friending you or subscribing to your YouTube channel.

You are different. Your company is different. Your presentation of yourself and your products should be different. If they aren’t, you’re just fading into the ongoing “noise” of the net.

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Social Sites Come of Age

Friday, October 1st, 2010

We often see changes in internet land that are heralded as the “next big thing” that you, as a business owner, need to jump on right away before all your competitors get ahead of you.

There are a few problems with this sort of pronouncement. First, there is no way all of these bright shiny new things can be the “next BIG thing”. Second, there are nowhere near enough hours in a day or even a lifetime to merge all these wondrous changes into your site or your internet marketing campaign.

So how do you know when that new thing is really and truly the next BIG thing?  I have a test that I apply to new technology that I call the real people doing real things test. Here’s how it works.

I know that there are three types of “adopters”. There are the innovators who absolutely, positively MUST have or use the latest and greatest innovation.

Then there are the hypsters. The guys who recognize that no one really knows that much about the latest and greatest and if they jump on it really fast and convince people that they absolutely positively MUST have this “next BIG thing” they can line their pockets with a good amount of cash before the bubble bursts.

But then there is the last group – the users. The very group who move “new” into “popular and well used”.  Look at Smart phones. They’ve been around for years, but until Apple came out with the uber cool iPhone, they were the busienss tool, not the essential tool of the masses they have now become. Spotting that one was easy – anything that sells millions of units within days is a certifiable “Next Big Thing”.

The net itself was not always a Big thing. But when I saw the first banner on a bus WITH a URL for a mainstream, run of the mill company, not some techno-geek shop, I knew the internet was now certifiably a game changer. Once it was adopted by mainstream, small business owners, the growth cycle was on.

Yesterday I caught the first incontrovertible proof that business MUST engage in Social Marketing. I was watching TV and saw an ad for Tempurpedic beds.  While I am an inveterate ad watcher, this ad caught me with two lines that opened like this:

Ask REAL users …

followed by

Ask YOUR friends on Facebook or Twitter ….

Why did this excite me? Besides the fact that I get excited over some really weird things like advertisements, Tempurpedic had just validated that Facebook and Twitter are a bona fide “BIG thing” that is here to stay. Beyond that they “get it”. The reference to FB and Twitter acknowledges how they are used by everyday mainstream people. It acknowledges and encourages product comparison within a specific circle of friends. And calls them REAL users – implying the all important trust factor!

Don’t rely on paid actors or “testimonials” – go to REAL people who can be found on Facebook and Twitter and ask THEM about how great our product is.

Think about the implications of this approach! Not only do you probably build your OWN followers in social media, but you really hammer home that trust factor. And with online marketing, nothing is truly more important than consumer trust. This ad implies transparency, confidence in the product performance, and engages the viewer with a new wrinkle on the standard call to action.

This ad may not be the first to mention social sites, but it certainly can serve as a starting point for how to engage consumers in other channels by using social sites.

Whether you buy other media spots or stick strictly to the web, rest assured, social media interaction is no hype – it’s here to stay and grow even bigger. And you need to come up to speed on social engagement or yes, Virginia you will be left in your competitor’s dust.

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Writing Your Way to the Top of Google

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

It’s been said that Content is King on the net.  This truism is just as important today as it was ten years ago. Written content is the single best way to get to the top of Google and stay there. It’s also a good bet written content will get you to the top of Bing, too.

The content writing is just the beginning. You can’t write beautifully constructed prose and then wait for visitors to beat a path to your online door. You must “get the word out” byPost to your blog and other blogs, too. submitting your articles and press releases and hitting the social media circuit.

Here are some of the types of written content that help rankings:

  • articles
  • press releases
  • blog posts
  • social media posts
  • content pages

All of this written content must be optimized for your keyterms. In other words, you need to use those keyterms in the titles and the body of each piece of content.

Let’s take a fast look at each content type.

Articles – There are a zillion article directories all over the net. The directory takes your well written article and posts it for other webmasters to come along and use on their own sites. It’s free for them to use, but they MUST include your author information and the url link back to your site.

Well written, content heavy articles are a good way to get two or more backlinks. One from the directory itself and one from each of the other webmasters who post your article on their site.

Please do not send the same article to 100 directories This creates duplicate content and many of the best article directories will NOT accept an article that appears elsewhere. I know this is a popular idea with supposed search engine experts, but it’s a bad idea. Google knows it and doesn’t even count any links coming from the vast majority of those directories. They DO count ones from good, trusted directories like eZineArticles.com. Concentrate on the top 5 or 10 GOOD directories and don’t go over to the dark side of article spam.

Press Releases – while it is very doubtful your press release will be picked up by online or offline news agencies, even though this is a claim put forth by the same “experts” who spam 1000 article directories, PR sites give nice backlinks. There is an art to writing a good press release, and you should study the suggestions at sites like PR Web to become familiar with how to write an effective Press Release.

Blog Posts – we’re not just talking about the blog on your own site. There are many other blogs out there and you can make your own posts to some of them. You should also put your article on pages at sites like Squidoo and HubPages.

Social Media Posts – Facebook Fan pages, Twitter, and other social media sites are becoming a big part of Google search. They are looking to these sites for the fresh content they crave and you need to be sure you are providing that content with frequent keyword rich posts and tweets.

Content Pages – you should have good, content laden, keyword rich pages on your site. While these pages don’t have to be updated that often, they should be well written and should have your keywords well represented.

Producing good written content is time consuming. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that you can offshore content writing and forgetting that it serves as a representative of your company as well as a backlink. If you do contract for this task, be prepared to pay well for good, well written articles. Paying minimum wage will get you minimal copy that is mostly pure fluff. Good articles and blog posts run in the $25-$75 range – per article. You get what you pay for, and hiring someone for $2.50 an hour will get you some pretty awful content.

If you’re serious about moving up in the rankings, you need to commit to a good written content strategy. Well written articles and Press Releases for long term results, well written Facebook posts, and several daily Tweets for that “fresh” content that is becoming so important.

With a well thought out and well scheduled strategy you CAN write your way to the top.

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