Treat Search, Social, and Content Marketing Strategy as a Living Organism

Marketing Units

The merging of search, social, and content marketing into a single digital marketing strategy has been happening for years. Intuitively, many of us have been guided by this fact to create the type of strategies that bring the disciplines together appropriately. As the evolution of the three reach a tipping point that is breaking down a good chunk of the practices of the past, it has become paramount to gain an understanding of how everything works together and why the flow of data between each has such a tremendous effect on digital marketing as a whole.

To do this properly, it’s becoming necessary to break it all down into units. The easiest way to understand this is to compare digital marketing strategy to a living organism. Every action has an effect of some sort on all of the parts. With this comprehension, you’ll be better equipped to make decisions about how to craft the overarching strategy as well as how to organize the individual actions.

 

A Quick Breakdown

If the model to make this work is like a living, breathing organism, then understanding what the different units are can help you grasp how it all plays together. We’re going to be breaking them down individually then bringing them together as a whole. In preparation, here’s a partial list of the individual units that we’ll be covering.

  • Inbound Links
  • Business Content
  • Useful Content
  • Company Blog
  • Site UI and Navigation
  • Social Media Profiles
  • Social Media Shares
  • Customers and Visitors

Over the next few weeks we will be breaking down how each of these works individually to support the whole. In the meantime, start thinking along the lines of holistic processes rather than individual tasks. While the tasks themselves are important, how they affect the entire body of marketing processes is the key to finding success.

Why SEO is More Important than Ever

SEO Keyboard

There are those who have been spreading (indefinitely, it seems) the thought that SEO is dead. It never ends, the thought (hope?) that search engine optimization has reached its conclusion. The main reason for these calls is, of course, when “experts” in search marketing start to find that their techniques don’t work anymore. Nothing will make someone believe a practice is dead more than finding out that they’re processes aren’t working.

Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for the rest of us), SEO is alive and well and growing in importance every day. The reasons are many, but here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Mobile visibility is driving clicks on the go. Many people are no longer doing the majority of their searches on desktop computers. The computers in our pockets are doing just fine (sometimes better) at delivering the information we need. Mobile’s continuous onslaught on our time and eyeball share means that SEO today must maintain a “mobile-first” mentality. If you can make it rank well on mobile, you can make it rank well on desktops.
  • The vision is pretty much set for the near future. Google and Bing are known for frequent updates and since 2011, Google has sent out some big ones. We will see a slow down on the major updates and a focus on tweaks for quality and adjustments to fight spammers. The gameplan is right there in front of us, which means that those who are good at SEO can duck their shoulders down and start barreling through the line.
  • Competitors are increasing but true competitors are diminishing. Everyone is getting into the SEO game, but there’s only a handful that truly get it. By focusing on quality of content, links, and social signals, SEOs are able to succeed. Once you introduce shortcuts (and the majority of them do) you lose the effect. This is a benefit to those doing true SEO because it allows them to rise to the top more easily.

Don’t get trapped in the SEO-is-Dead mentality. SEO is alive and well in its purest form. Bad SEO is dying. This is a good thing.

SEO Do’s and Don’t’s for Hosted WordPress Blogs

Blog SEO

There are many people who believe that when it comes to WordPress based blogs, the only ones which are naturally SEO friendly are those ‘fresh out of the box’ ie. those which have not been customized in any way. When you start to add themes and plugins you begin to create a sort of hybrid version which can become somewhat incompatible with search engines.

Thankfully, there are some fairly easy ways to address this issue and with that in mind let’s look at a few of the SEO do’s and don’ts  which will maximize your WordPress based blog’s search engine visibility

 

DO Make Use of SEO Plugins

When you need SEO help it makes sense to consult an expert in that field rather than a ‘Jack of all trades’. Using a dedicated SEO plugin such as WordPress SEO, Yoast or All in One SEO Pack is a lot like consulting an expert. These plugins are designed to handle all of your SEO needs and many of them are free. There are many themes available for WordPress which offer built in SEO assistance. However, this will tie you to that theme unless you want to redo your SEO whenever you change your theme.

 

DON’T be Lazy When Adding Images

WordPress has an excellent media uploader that is easy to use, so take advantage of that when adding images to your blog posts. The tool has an easy to follow form to enter all of the SEO information relating to your image and it is important to fill it out in full. You can provide a relevant name for the image, a caption featuring your keyword, alt text and even a description all of which will go some way towards improving SEO on that page/post.

 

DO Create a Proper Permalink Structure

One of the great things about WordPress is that it gives you the ability to customize your permalinks. This is great in terms of SEO, but only if you make good use of it by choosing a blog title and thus a post URL which will tell search engines (and readers) a little something about the post.

 

DON’T Go Nuts With Categories & Tags

It is a good idea to use categories to organize your content and to tag your posts; however, it important not go overboard with the categories. If you are going to implement indexing of your blog’s taxonomy archives you will have multiple unnecessary archive pages which are basically duplicates of your posts. It is much better to come up with just a handful of categories that the majority of your content can be filed under. Many SEO experts suggest that between 5 and 7 is the optimal number of categories per WordPress site and that posts should have approximately 3 tags each.

 

Do Claim Google Authorship On All Posts

Google Authorship is a great way to gain exposure as an expert author in your particular field and will lend additional credibility to your website when used. There are lots of ways to make use of Google Authorship including a variety of plugins which will take care of it for you. Just make sure that your contributing authors have added your blog on their Google+ profile.

These are just a few of the things which will affect the SEO status of your WordPress blog. There are many others that you may wish to thin carefully about including choosing the most appropriate server hosting service and producing truly engaging content. With a little effort and attention to detail you can have effective SEO for your blog.

The Most Comprehensive Blog Marketing Infographic You’ll See, Ever

Blog

The word “ever” is a bold word. It means that you’ll never see an infographic that’s this long, this comprehensive, ever the rest of your life. Normally, I would never make such a claim about anything. Babe Ruth’s 60-homer season was never supposed to be broken, either.

However, I can say with confidence that this one will not be beaten. It’s huge. It’s so huge that I had to split it up into four parts to have the images hosted on the site, then decided to just keep it hosted on the source site because it really does need to be seen in all of its glory. Hattip to Venchito Tampon Jr from Digital Philippines for bringing this to us.

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Infographic by Digital Philippines

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Where, What, and Why: The Content Marketing Trio

Three Stooges

Having tracked data for the last seven years in the automotive marketing arena, I can tell you a few things that I’ve learned that have brought us to where the content marketing world is today. It’s all about process and answering the questions that consumers are asking and it’s something that, as I’ve said time and time again in the past, needs to be viewed holistically.

Rather than go into a long post about how to make it all sing properly (that’s for future posts), it’s important to understand the content marketing trio. No, they have nothing to do with the Three Stooges, but those who don’t understand the consumers’ mentality might ended up looking like stooges in 2014. This is that important.

To get this understanding, you have to put yourself in the consumers’ shoes. You buy things. Take what you know about that and apply it to the mentality and process below.

 

Where

If they can’t find you, they can’t do business with you. This is a no-brainer. You can advertise on the various networks, get your branding in place through billboards and radio, put ads in third-party sites across the internet, and a dozen other ways to help people find you, but it’s search marketing that truly answers all of the questions that start with “where”.

Since content marketing can help your search engine optimization tremendously, it fits in as the first of the trio. Most people are probably finding your website by the name of your company. While this is fine, you don’t need to be heavily optimized to be found for your name. It’s the other people, the ones that are doing generic searches for you by product or service in your local area, that can have a double impact on your business. By being better optimized, you are moving yourself up in searches which means you are also moving a competitor down.

 

What

This is your website. “What” you’re trying to sell should be easy to determine once visitors get there. The challenge is that having a website that’s just like every other website in your market is silly yet so commonly practiced thanks to the mega-vendors and forced OEM adoption.

There is a psychology that goes along with websites that says, “different is usually better”. If your customers visit five websites, four of which look pretty much alike and the fifth, yours, looks different, they’ll wonder why. It will register, even if only on a subconscious level. If the design and content are compelling, you have an advantage.

 

Why

In industries such as automotive where the differences in price are measured in small percentage points, the “why” factor comes into play. Most have a page that’s a variation of “Why Buy from Us” on their website but it gets very few visitors. It takes more than that to get a consumer to consider you over a competitor.

This is one of the many places where social media comes into play. When are people most likely to click on the social media buttons on your website? When they’re done. In other words, they might visit a handful of websites and put in leads at two or three of them. Once they’re done, there’s a decent chance that they’ll click through to your social media presence to see what you’re up to from the human side of the company. What will they see? Will it be a ton of ads? Will it be a ton of “look at me” posts?

What if they saw your community involvement? What if they saw your happy customers? What if they saw the local community engaging with you and you engaging back with them? They might look at you and two of your competitors during the course of their browsing. Will you be the most compelling? Does you social media presence give them a good reason to want to buy from you rather than the store down the block that’s posting boring or unauthentic content on their social media profiles?

Holistic

In future posts, we’ll go into how the holistic method of content marketing can make the whole greater than the sum of its parts, but it’s important to understand that reasons that it’s all tied together. Don’t think search, websites, and social. Think where, what, and why.

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Move over Google, Facebook will win the Internet


Mount Google

The Internet Mountain

Having worked in the online marketing industry for over 10 years, I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go.  I’ve also seen companies ascend the mighty internet mountain, only to pass out from the lack of oxygen and come tumbling back down.

Currently, there’s little doubt that Google stands atop that internet mountain.  They’re the biggest, the baddest, and the most influential company on the internet, in my humble opinion.

If you want to find something on the internet, you most likely resort to using Google to find that something you’re looking for.  This is especially true with finding businesses.  However, I believe that the war for internet supremacy, while currently dominated by Google, will not ultimately be won by that behemoth.

Who do I believe will be the victor when the dust settles?  Currently, I believe that company to be Facebook.  Now, this could change.  A newcomer could come on the scene and dethrone Facebook.  My real point is; the internet won’t be won by a search company but rather a social media company.  Here is the reason why.

 

Organic Search Bomb

Any business owner that relies on organic internet traffic has probably had the following experience.

One day, a business owner wakes up and sales aren’t coming in as regularly or perhaps the phone isn’t ringing as often as it usually does.  Flummoxed, the business owner does a quick analysis of his company’s online marketing channels and finds nothing out of sorts.  Then, he goes to Google and types in a familiar keyword that brings up his company’s website in the #1 spot.

To his amazement, his website isn’t in the top spot anymore.  In fact, it’s all the way down at number 6!

He quickly calls his webmaster and asks all the usual questions.  Did something happen? Did we do anything? Is something broken?

More and more I’m seeing this happen with my clients.  And the funny thing is, it has nothing to do with what they’ve done, but rather, how they’re now being viewed.  And the one doing the viewing is Google.

Maybe it was a Panda crawl, maybe it was Penguin or maybe it was some other covert aspect of Google’s algorithm that no longer likes the company’s website.  The point is; they’ve taken a hit.  They’re revenues have taken a hit.  And this drop in rankings has caused serious damage to the company.

I’ve seen entire companies fold because of organic search problems.  I’ve seen layoffs and downsizing due to this as well.

 

Social Media: Steady as She Goes

Now, let’s examine how this scenario would play out if the company we’re discussing drew most of their customers in through Facebook.

The business owner wakes up one morning.  His sales are steady, his calls are coming in as expected, and his company is humming along.  He logs into the admin side of Facebook and notices that his “likes” have jumped from 62,125 to over 63,000.  Great news!

He gets his marketing department to develop an online promotion and posts it on the Facebook page.  At which point, a good number of his followers share it, like it, and redeem the offer.

And this brings me to the point of this article.  A company’s followers on Facebook won’t fluctuate due to an algorithmic change on Facebook’s part.  The number won’t shoot down due to something completely out of the company’s control.

Yes, the company’s follower number can take a hit with bad press or a mistake on the company’s part.  But, those actions are not nebulous and they’re usually easy to identify and find a solution.  Unfortunately, the Google algorithm isn’t as easy to decipher.

 

Google’s Ultimate Downfall

As an SEO (search engine optimization) consultant, I read hundreds of blogs from industry insiders and Google employees.  And I’m shocked at the lack of consensus on what actually affects Google rankings.  You could take two “experts” in the SEO field and ask them what are the top 10 ranking factors and you’ll get two very different lists.

This also brings up the point of Google’s willingness to change the rules of the search engine game.  They will make broad changes to their algorithm that affect thousands if not hundreds of thousands of companies and give little or no notice of the change.  (Exact match domains, anyone?)

Whereas, Facebook actually seems to want to help companies increase their reach and exposure. (Graph Search, news feed optimization, etc.)

All of this doesn’t even take into account the fact that people trust a friend’s referral over an organic search result, but that’s an argument for another time.

The bottom line is this.  Companies are built on the idea that they can make projections on revenues.  A big part of those projections is their marketing.  More and more, companies will find that social media offers a steadier, more efficient, and more reliable medium for marketing over organic search rankings.  As this shift continues to take place, you’ll see more companies divert their marketing dollars towards Facebook.

There are already signs of Google losing marketing dollars to Facebook.  And the pace of that loss is accelerating.

I don’t know when Google will get light-headed from lack of oxygen, atop the internet mountain, and come tumbling down.  But I do know that Facebook is well stocked with mountaineering supplies, and they’ve made base camp just below the summit.  They’re just waiting for their opportunity to ascend.

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Digital Marketing is the Future

The Future

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Google Hashtags for You!

Google Plus Hashtags

Part of the Google Plus update that we experienced a few weeks ago was an addition of auto hashtagging. This feature picks up keywords from your update and adds a label on the top right hand corner of your post, which helps your content’s exposure.

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Today’s Internet Proves You Can Find a Needle in a Haystack!

Needle in a Haystack

Yelling out your life story in the middle of a crowd is a sure fire way to catch some looks. It’s not a very common sight to behold, but this type of scenario is exactly what most Internet users attempt to accomplish on their social media outlets of choice.  Essentially, your tweets and Facebook posts are an extension of your own voice in a digital landscape. So what makes some people stand out better than others? Why is it that some people seem to have an electronic voice that just seems to have more authority than others?

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I’d Rather Not Know My Audience, Thank You Very Much

Audience

When it comes to social media advice, the majority of the common catch phrases are there for a reason. Tips like “be engaging” and “communicate, don’t broadcast” are sound pieces of advice despite the annoying frequency that they’re used by gurus. There’s one common tip that is more than just annoying. In many ways, it’s actually wrong.

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