When I first started in digital marketing back in 2006, I had a dream of helping people take over the internet realm for their particular niche. At the time, I had 4 automotive clients and with the thought that content and links were so powerful for SEO while social media was the future, I pictured a product where my clients were blogging several times a week and posting them on several different blogs that fit in with particular topics.
One of the most amazing parts of my job is spending time reading, watching, and testing the practices of others. It’s conceivable that the true secret to my success over the years has less to do with creativity and more to do with listening and deciphering. You have to listen to the channels like Google and Facebook. You have to listen to your customers. You have to listen to your customers’ customers (if you’re an agency like me).
The annoying part of my job is sifting through the recycled techniques and reinvented terminology that surrounds so many marketing practices. In most cases, it’s the same old things repackaged into a different form or applied from a different angle. Those are valuable, but not gamechanging. Still, it’s important to go through them all in order to find the hidden or not-so-hidden gems that arise. The best practices I’ve found over the years haven’t been on the pages of Mashable, Search Engine Watch, or Social Media Today. The real winners have come from some of the least likely sources.
With all of that out of the way, let’s get to the point. There are three types of marketing. Despite all of the various names – push and pull marketing, social media marketing, gravitational marketing, search marketing, influence marketing, content marketing – the easiest and arguably most pure way of looking at it is to tackle everything from a perspective of venue and intent. Where are the people going and what are they doing when they get there? It’s important for me as well as business owners to look at it from this perspective because the collision of the various marketing types is forcing a holistic marketing model to outperform niche marketing techniques or specialized strategies.
In other words, if you look at venue and intent, you can craft your overall marketing strategy much more easily. We look at it as following the quest – what are they doing, why are thy doing it, and how can we be there to help them choose our clients. When people buy your products, they are fulfilling a quest. No, they’re not slaying an actual dragon, but if they’re on a quest to buy a car, then your dealership selling them a car is the culmination of that particular quest.
Here are the three types of marketing for 2014 (well, early 2014 at least – it changes so quickly) that we like to tackle:
Fulfilling the Quest
This is the easiest to understand and often the hardest to achieve because of the simplicity of purpose. Everyone knows that if someone is interested in buying a car, they’re probably going to go to Google, Bing, or one of the various classified sites to start looking. They might go to review sites and OEM sites as well, but for the most part they’re ready to seek the fulfillment of their quest, they’re going to try to look for cars.
Search engine marketing of all types, whether it’s SEO or PPC, gives you the opportunity to drive them to your website so they may fulfill their quest. They aren’t searching for Honda dealers to have fun. They have a purpose. They’re in buying mode. This is where you have to be in order to help them fulfill their quest.
Renewing the Quest
More businesses are starting to do this. Many of them tried to do it in 2009-2012 and failed miserably. Part of it was because the venues such as Facebook, banner advertisements, retargeting, and other forms of “passive” marketing arenas weren’t developed to the point that they are today.
Now, the goals have come full-circle thanks to the overall availability of the internet. Mobile devices have made checking social media sites and reading websites the common activity when there are no activities to do. As people ride a bus, wait in line at the bank, or even perform other mundane activities like watching television, they are also surfing the internet. They aren’t going to Facebook to buy things, but they’re open to the concept. They’re open to having their quest renewed.
When they go to Fox News to see what’s going on and the retargeting ad pops up in front of them, they are reminded that they are still on a quest even if they aren’t actively on it at that point. When the business they visited last week pops up on their Facebook news feed, they get that reiteration that they still need to buy something. It might take a dozen instances of seeing a brand and its message before they actually click through, but the statistics are showing that it’s working. Not every sale is made through Google. In fact, some of the most important and actionable clicks come through other venues when they’re not in active buying mode.
Creating the Quest
Of the three, this is the one that’s ignored the most. It’s the hardest to do and the least rewarding when not done right. However, it can be the most rewarding when companies are able to make it sing. This is one that we focus on in particular because in our industry, nobody is doing it right.
In many ways it’s like good old fashioned advertising. No, it’s not like the commercials that we see on television today. Think along the lines of the early days of television when brands were built by establishing a problem that people will see in the normal course of their day and then having that problem solved either in the middle of the initial marketing effort or after further research.
The reason that it’s so hard today is because of attention span. We have seconds instead of minutes to get the message out through most advertising and marketing venues. There’s no longer time to tell a story…
…or is there?
The art of creating the quest is about putting the right content on the right venues that will reach people and establish a need whether they’re in the market right now or not. With this particular article already breaking the 1,000-word mark, there’s not enough time to go into it in detail. We’ll do that next time. Instead, watch the following video that shows two commercials that worked well in their day. Today, having a minute-long television commercial isn’t practical for most businesses, but taking advantage of the various channels online to accomplish the same goal and better is something that we know will move the needle. It’s hard. That’s the point. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
More on that next time. For now, here’s the video:
Most people mistakenly believe there’s very little writing web content. They think that as long as they can find an interesting topic, they’ll be able to write up a few hundred words and their website will be good to go. Anyone who has ever worked for Article Writing Services will be quick to point out that writing content for websites isn’t that easy.
Given that 93 percent of Internet traffic starts at a search engine, ranking high by using SEO techniques is important for your website. Consider these tips to help improve your search engine ranking.
Create Inbound Links
When someone links to your website, it shows the search engines that your website is authoritative. The more links there are across the web pointing to your site, the higher you’ll rank. But you don’t have to rely on other content creators to set up the links. Use these strategies to create links to your website:
- Guest post on top blogs. Most bloggers allow you to include links to your website in your content or in the author bio when you guest blog on their site.
- Comment on blogs. Blogs that feature the plugin CommentLuv are a great place to start earning links since you can automatically include a link to your most recent content.
- Organize a link exchange. If you have a blog on your site or frequently update content, connect with other people in your business and offer to link to their website if they link to yours.
- Create quality content. If you wow your readers with your content, people will start linking to your site on their own.
Use Keyword Phrases
While search engines have moved toward displaying quality content instead of worrying about high keyword density, using keywords is still important to ensure that your content shows up in front of the proper audience. Choose keywords that relate to your niche, are commonly searched, and are valuable to your content. Place these keywords in your posts, in page titles, in photo descriptions, and throughout other areas of the site where appropriate.
Hire a Third Party
If you don’t understand SEO or don’t have the time for it, consider hiring a third-party. Experienced professionals keep up with the latest changes and techniques to help you rank higher and bring in more visitors to your site. While it may seem like a hefty cost at first depending on your budget and your goals, having an experienced individual organize your site for search engines can end up paying off by helping you sell more products and reach more people. For more information on hiring a third-party and how much to spend, check out these useful tips.
Utilize Social Media
Social media can do several things for your SEO. For one, it’s a great place to share links and build authority in your niche. It also gets people talking about your product and your content throughout the Internet to help you build your authority. When used properly, search engines are going to begin realizing that you’re an authority figure in your field and decide that your content is worth ranking higher.
One example of a company that utilizes social media techniques properly is GearyLSF, a company that engages their audience, shares useful links and media, and knows how to maximize customer visibility. To get the most out of social media and improve your search engine rankings, follow their example while adding a personal touch to your profiles.
Create Quality Content
You’ve heard before that “content is king.” While there are many other aspects to SEO, search engines realize how important quality content is to their users. Therefore, the higher quality content you produce and the more that people get out of it, share it, and engage with you, the higher you’ll rank and the more visitors you’ll attract.
But it’s not just that. When you write for the individual first and then the search engines, people will stay on your site longer when they find worth in your content. Since search engines interpret this longer visit as higher quality content than if the visitor left after five seconds, it can have a huge impact on your ranking.
Use these additional tips to keep people on your site longer:
- Keep your content interesting and engaging.
- Produce useful advice, quality entertainment, and unique content.
- Show your credibility and authority in your about section.
If you’re still confused about SEO or need more tips, check out the results from Moz’s 2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors survey.
Have you utilized any of these techniques? Did they impact your search engine rank?
(Image via Forbes)
You may not have even known about the scandal of “mug shot websites”; hopefully you never had to deal with the reputation management problem that they caused. Luckily for many people, Google solved the problem for them recently. Personal reputation management was becoming a big business for many different “mug shot websites” that were using public records to rank high for the names of anyone arrested for a crime on Google and other search engines.
These unscrupulous websites have been essentially blackmailing the people to have their names removed from the database to avoid online reputation issues. One of the significant problems is that there is not just one such website, so removing your name from one could have just meant it was the first in a long list people in line for your money.
You Were Arrested for What?
Arrest records are public record for anyone who has been arrested; we know in the United States that you are innocent until proven guilty. Even if your arrest charges were dropped, they still remain public record and many different websites were taking advantage of this and creating a reputation management issue for many people. Imagine the ensuing nightmare if a mug shot website ranked at the top of the page, or even in the paid listings, when a potential boss or future father in law searches your name on the internet.
The mug shot websites were charging people anywhere from $30 – $400 for what they describe as “cleaning up your public record”. However the questionability comes in when they are designed to rank high for the names listed on their site, and some were even paying for advertising with the arrest record names as keywords. Up until this month, they were making a hefty profit from because of their high ranking and not just because people were interested in cleaning up their name on the internet.
Google to the Rescue!
As part of the many algorithm changes Google has made in the past 2 or 3 years, the latest change was an algorithm that directly affected the page rank of types of mug shot websites that were pretty much just gaming Google’s ranking system and making a profit off of it in a pretty unscrupulous manner. These websites are no longer given priority ranking within Google’s search results.
In addition, Master Card has even cut these types of websites off from using their online payment systems.
Do No Evil?
Most people will agree that the mug shot websites are pretty underhanded and should not be doing what they were doing, even though it is perfectly “legal”. However this specific targeting from Google does still raise questions over what type of control Google has over what searchers see and what they do not see.
At the very least, Google’s page ranking adjustment will make it easier for you to outrank those sites for your name and take control of your own reputation management online.
A SearchEngineLand.com article further touches on these points and delves into the policies for both Google and Bing and how they are able to remove content from their sites that may go against terms of services or fall under duplicate content guidelines for removal. They also reported an update to the article that the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center now says it’s gotten hundreds of reports of this problem, and is seeking complaints from people who have been affected.
Manage Your Own Online Reputation
We all make mistakes, it is human nature. A mistake from your past does not have to haunt you on Google and elsewhere online though. What can you do to fix your own problem without paying extortionist websites? Take control of your own reputation management and drown out those negative results by posting your own information about yourself. Here’s how to push the bad results down and boost your own positive results:
- Fill Out Social Media Profiles: Make sure all of your social media public profiles look professional and show the person you want others to see. Fill in all available fields for each profile and set up something with as many social media channels as you can. Each one will create a Google listing that will push the mug shot website down further.
- Utilize Personal Websites: There are several different websites like About.Me and ItsMyURLs that are free. You should set up with all of them.
- Update Your Google Profile: Your Google profile is now attached to Google Plus and that should be filled out completely with as much information as you can think of and do not leave anything blank.
- Use LinkedIn: LinkedIn is there for professional networking and creating a professional profile in a social way. You can brand yourself and make yourself look great with a professional looking resume. Join professional groups on LinkedIn and post relevant articles about your industry or profession.
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.
Many of us who have been doing the hybrid search/social game for long enough remember what it was like to discover Tumblr. I got in pretty early and was able to get Social News as one of my Tumblogs, a pretty decent subdomain that is (unfortunately) completely underutilized and really just focuses on my Instagram pictures. That doesn’t mean that you have to sit around and let Tumblr not work well for you.
SocialMediaToday community contributor Mark Scott posted an interesting piece about using Tumblr as an SEO tool. While there are things in there that aren’t 100% correct such as the concept that all “links you add to all posts on your Tumblr blog are do-follow links” (some are nofollow), but otherwise he gives very sound advice about how to use the platform for something that it’s frankly not very good at for its own self: SEO.
Yes, it’s a great SEO tool and yes, it’s possible to optimize a Tumblog to do well in search, but it’s the benefits that it can bring to other websites where the real juice can come into play. As a supporting site, it’s great for search as long as the content is strong and you’re able to build up a decent following.
Here’s what he said on Social Media Today:
Tumblr essentially functions as a secondary blog you can use solely for the purpose of SEO. You can send optimized links back to the main website, allowing your website’s reach to expand and incoming traffic to multiply. What makes Tumblr great for SEO is the inbuilt promotion and SEO-friendly features that it comes packed with by default.
Read More: Social Media Today
For quite a long time, Tumblr search has sucked. No, really. It sucked. They made minor improvements over the years but it got to the point that I started using Pinterest search to find cool images and sharable content rather than Tumblr despite so much more content on the older blogging platform.
Thinks have changed. Today’s Tumblr search (seen above) is actually pretty darn modern. Best of all (and it almost brings a tear to my eye to say this) you don’t have to search by hashtags anymore. You can do a normal, actual search! As basic as the functionality sounds, it has been a gaping hole for Tumblr for a long time.
If this is the work of Yahoo, which purchased Tumblr for over a billion dollars earlier this year, then Marissa Mayer is my new official favorite Yahooligan.
Here’s the story on BetaBeat:
For most of Tumblr’s history, attempts to search the site have been frustrating and often just plain fruitless. It really took a lot of dedication to keep up with the erotic Optimus Prime fanfic community, you know?
Read More: BetaBeat
- Tumblr Rebuilds Search Feature To Be More Powerful, Filter NSFW Tags Better As It Passes 65B Posts
- Tumblr multiple tags for search
- Tumblr Rebuilds Search Feature To Be More Powerful, Filter NSFW Tags Better As It Passes 65B Posts
- Tumblr Search Gets Smarter, NSFW Content Easier to Manage
- Tumblr launches revamped search feature, lets you search multiple tags, related blogs, and filter out NSFW posts
- Tumblr launches revamped search feature, lets you search multiple tags, related blogs, and filter out NSFW posts
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.
This particular video covers the automotive industry but it can be applied to anyone. Search engine optimization is so shrouded in mystery sometimes that sifting through what’s real and what’s “smoke and mirrors” sold by “snake oil salesmen” can be a challenge. The pitches have a tendency to sound the same.