Social media is free, but what's the catch? Time. We only have so much time to spend putting our message out there, but we don't want to limit how many people can hear what we have to say. This problem comes up in many ways, but the simplest is the dichotomy between Facebook and Twitter. Many folks decide to spend the bulk of their social time on one or the other, with relatively few people using both. If Google Buzz catches fire
Image by luc legay via Flickr
Let's face it. There's no real difference between "friends" and "followers," nor between ""status updates" and "tweets." And why would you decide to spend all your precious social media time updating one venue and not the other, if your customers use both of them? But how can you double the amount of time you spend in social media updating both?
You don't have to. I decided that I prefer Twitter to Facebook so I have every tweet I send out mirrored as my Facebook status. And I do the same thing on LinkedIn. I haven't taken the plunge on Google Buzz yet, but I'll probably do the same thing there, also.
If someone wants to see what I am up to, they can use their favorite method to keep up and I only have to update once. I know people using FriendFeed to accomplish the same thing. In each of your social media lives, you can set up these mirrors to make sure that your customers can keep up no matter what network they are in, while you only need to update once.
Now, I find even though I update in only one place, that I still have trouble making time for more than a few tweets a day, but there isn't anything I can do to help with that.
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by Manoj Jasra
Facebook pages are popping up as quickly as websites and blogs, in fact I am often seeing organizations push users to their Facebook page due to the built-in social interactivity of Facebook pages. With the majority of our online experiences still starting with search, whether it be on Google, Bing or Facebook, there are many factors that will help boost a given Facebook page to the top o
Total Number of Followers: You can consider this the same as back links, the more 'votes' your page receives, the more authority it gains.
Content Posted: The fresher the content, with regards to wall posts/pictures/comments, the greater likelihood of search spiders continuously crawling the content.
Relevancy of Content: Does all the content that is posted within the page help improve its overall theme?
Big Brands: Large organizations will receive a bump just because they are top of mind to users and therefore they receive precedence in search results
URL: Does your Facebook page's URL contain relevant keywords related to search queries?
Number of 'Shares': Is the Facebook Page so compelling that people absolutely have to pass it along to their friends?
Age of Page: This one is pure speculation, but could there be benefits of having an older Facebook Page vs. a brand new one?
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When performing SEO on a site there are literally an endless number tactics, strategies, changes and combinations that can be implemented to help you achieve search engine rankings. Google alone analyzes hundreds of different factors, all to varying degrees, when determining how it ranks pages in the SERPs. Once you get outside the realm of looking only at achieving search engine rankings, a near infinity of factors come into play as you look for ways to improve traffic, draw targeted visitors and improve conversion rates.
The interesting thing about SEO
Successful SEO requires a tremendous investment of time. To say that SEO is a full time job is a vast understatement. One can spend weeks or months dedicated to learning and employing just the more common aspects of SEO. Add to that the learning curve in credible implementation of copywriting, link building, usability testing, data analysis, and the myriad of social networking opportunities that seem to spring up over night, and you can see why today's SEO is not just one, but several, full time jobs!
Get into the investment mindset
Because of the overwhelming number of options SEO presents, many small business are like a dear caught in the headlights. They don't know where to begin or even how to start the process of finding some help.
Hiring a good consultant or firm for a short-term SEO campaign can cost more than a small business owner has in their total yearly marketing budget. On the other hand, to attempt to perform optimization in house, one finds that there is often an insufficient amount of time available for both that and running the business effectively. There are only so many hours in the day!
The small business owner has three options: Do it yourself, hire someone to do it, or hire someone to teach them how to do it. The path chosen is most often dictated by money and time.
If the small business has the money, the route most often chosen is hire someone to perform the SEO for them. This frees up the time needed for the business owner to run the business.
The cost of SEO should not be considered without a full understanding the value behind the work being performed. Such value should be determined by the quality of the information gathered, the skill of the person implementing the information and the ability of the implementation to achieve positive results. Paying more does not necessarily mean that you get more value. On the other hand, rarely can you find great value on the cheap.
It's important to ensure that you're paying only for what is necessary. There are a lot of components to SEO, but not all of them will be needed at any particular time, if at all.
The most successful SEO campaigns utilize various forms of online marketing, but success itself is not determined merely by doing everything possible. Success comes from doing the right things at the right time in the right way. If you can determine what avenues of SEO need to be pursued for your campaign, then you'll ultimately reduce the "cost" involved in getting results.
With any job in life you're either spending your own time, paying for someone else's time (or a combination of both.) With the amount of work that goes into SEO it all boils down to how much time one has, vs. how much time any particular task takes. Depending on those two factors, you then need to factor in which tasks are more urgent and most worthy of the time investment needed.
If time is in short supply the only real options are to hire a consultant for SEO guidance or sub the work out completely. The more abundant time is for the business owner the more SEO work they can take on themselves and "save" on SEO expenses in the process.
Invest what you have into what you need
While money makes the business world go round, time is often our most valuable resource. Money is renewable, time is not. Either way, every business owner must analyze their time and money resources to determine which route is best for them.
The one thing that must be kept in mind whichever route is chosen is that SEO is an investment. Too often businesses look at their marketing budgets as an expense, when instead they should be looking at them as an investment that brings in a return. As with any investment, it must be carefully tracked, analyzed and determined if it brings in a positive ROI.
Another component of time comes into play regardless of who performs your SEO and that is simply one of waiting. Very few sites can become an overnight success. Any investment you make into SEO must consider the period of time it takes for SEO changes to work through the system. The length of this time can vary on a number of factors so you should have understanding of this before you even start.
Make the investment work for you
Most investments don't give you an immediate return. SEO is no different. Many small business owners fail to understand that in order to succeed online a significant investment must be made. Gone are the days when you could throw up a website and expect to become an overnight success. Most of today's overnight business success are back by investments in time, money, resources or any combination of those.
While starting and running a business online is easier than off-line, the investment considerations should be no less. And with that, you must decide how, when, and where to invest your resources; whether those be financial, personal time, or whatever else you have available to you.
If one chooses to hire a consultant or firm, she must consider what that firm will ultimately provide in terms of benefits and, ultimately, return on investment. The fist thing many companies look at when looking to hire a firm is the cost. Making a choice such as this on budget considerations alone is a decision based on faulty logic. You must choose a firm based on the tasks you want accomplished. If "top rankings" are your desire, then you can probably hire relatively cheaply. But if you are looking for a more solid marketing plan that considers reputation and conversions as a measure of success, you'll likely shell out a lot more marketing dollars.
Conversely, if a small business owner chooses to optimize the site themselves, I suggest taking baby steps through the process. Set aside a specific amount of time each day dedicated to the education and implementation of SEO strategies. Don't worry about the all the peripherals such as social media, link building, etc. but instead start by focusing on the on-page aspects of search engine optimization.
As you learn, don't take a single source as gospel. Find multiple sources that can confirm each other and also take in opposing opinions. These can only serve to confirm what you believe is the right approach. But most importantly, learn by doing, testing, and analyzing what you have done. Don't expect big immediate payoffs, but be patient as you work through the SEO process and its implementation of your site.
Finally, if you were to choose a hybrid option, hiring someone to guide you through the process you can get some hands-on expert advice while at the same time saving money by implementing yourself. This can eliminate a lot of the guesswork and even trial and error, though some of that always exists.
Invest what you can and re-invest what you get
Depending on the size of your site and the amount of time you can dedicate to it each day, the latter two options may take you several months to a year to "perfect" the on-page optimization. But once you get through the on-page factors, you can start learning more about the off-page factors.
Again, baby steps are required here lest you become overwhelmed. SEO is literally a sea and if you try to take it all in you'll likely drown in it. Instead, just take a small area to learn and master as best you can before moving on.
The decision you make in how best to invest your optimization campaign is of great consequence to the long-term success of your business. It doesn't matter if its in-sourced or out-sourced, either way, realistic expectations must be in place and your decision must be based on the ability to meet those expectations.
One problem I find with many business that don't think of their SEO as an investment, is that it is often the first thing that gets cut during lean times. We've seen business after business cut their SEO and SEM marketing budgets and therefore cutting profits right along with it. Expenses can be cut to save money. Investments, when cut, only cuts into profits.
As a small business owner, you have to move forward in a way that is best for you, not just today, but a year from now, and five years from now as well. In any case, never be afraid to step beyond your boundaries if you believe the yield will be beyond your expectations. By moving forward, considering your investment options in SEO, you'll be better prepared to succeed in both good times and bad.
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Now that you've got a Facebook Page for your business or organization, you're probably itching to do something with it. After all, there are more than 300 million people using Facebook on a regular basis. Surely at least a few of them want to interact with you!
Tons of companies come in to Facebook, set up their page, throw a few photos and status updates on it and leave. Doing this is akin to building a web site without bothering to optimize it for search engines and create a content strategy. Facebook is essentially another home on the web for your b
It's easy enough to figure out how to post a status update to your page, but you're going to have to go further than that. In this article, I'm going to take a look at the default Facebook Page applications and give you some insight on how to both use them and leverage them. (If it's third party apps you're wondering about...never fear. I have felt your pain, as has anyone else who has tried to set them up. I'll cover them in depth later in the series.)
For now, let's take a look at the first three native applications that come with your Facebook Page. Today we'll be exploring Discussion Boards, Events and Links. In the next article in the series we'll dive into Notes, Photos and Video.
Let's Go Explore Facebook Page Applications
The first thing you'll need to do in order to work with applications is to get back into the admin panel for your Facebook Page. To do this, you'll need to log in to Facebook and go to the Facebook Page you want to edit. Once you're there, look underneath the large avatar on the left and find the link that reads "Edit Page."
Clicking on this link will take you back into the Facebook Page admin panel. Once there, you'll want to scroll down to the section that says "Applications."
Using the Facebook Page Discussions Tab
We're going to work through each of the native apps, so let's go ahead and start at the top. Find the box that reads "Discussion Boards." If you have the type of Facebook Page that's heavily information based or you're seeking to build a really interactive community, you'll likely want to make use of the Discussion Boards.
If you've ever used a discussion forum, it's pretty much the same feature. Discussion boards allows for threaded conversations on your Facebook Page. While it's true you can also have threaded conversations on your Facebook Page Wall, it just makes it a little neater and cleaner to contain more targeted discussions within the Discussion boards. There's not much you need to do admin wise to get these running. Just head over there to the right side of the page and click the little blue edit icon.
First you'll want to hit "Application Settings."
Go ahead and leave "Box" set to "available" and set "Tab" to "added." (Unless of course you don't want discussions in which case you can remove the discussion tab and skip this entire section.)
Then click over to "Additional Permissions" and make sure the box is checked for "Publish Recent Activity." This will allow snippets of your discussion conversations to publish to your Wall as a way to draw additional fans to the conversation.
Now that you've got the basics set up, you'll need to click back over to your Facebook Page so you can start a conversation. Look for the tab that reads "Discussions" and click on it.
Once you're there, look to the right side of the screen and find the "Start a New Topic" Button.
Click that and you're ready to enter your topic name and the content of your post.
Once you've got it written up, go ahead and click the "Post new topic" link. Facebook will take you to the published post.
From there, go ahead and click on the "Discussion Board" tab and you can go back and see what the list of discussions will look like on your Facebook Page.
Now how you use the Discussions tab is up to you and your personal strategy. If you're promoting a web site that focuses on content, you may want to use it to drive discussions from your posts or to ask questions of your readers. If you're a company that sells a product or service, you may want to encourage your fans to use it as a feedback channel.
Little Debbie Snacks does a great job of utilizing their Discussion tab.
Most of the conversation is fans talking about their favorite products, but the Little Debbie team also pops in to answer questions.
Your discussion tab is one of the best ways to really interact with your fans in depth. Find ways to spark conversation, get in and participate in the conversation and keep an eye out for new content ideas for the rest of your Facebook Page based on what people are talking about.
Using the Facebook Page Event Tab
One of the great things about Facebook Pages is the way companies and groups can use them to build a community. Of course part of building a community is bringing people together to share experiences. Whether it's a public apperance, a contest, an educational event, a sale or pretty much anything else... events are your way to rally your fans together around a happening.
They also serve as a great way to remind your fans you exist because they give you a reason to contact them via Facebook and invite them to come back to your page to interact with you.
So let's head back to the main Facebook Page and once again select "Edit Page" from the list of links underneath your Facebook Page profile picture.
Scroll back down to the applications section and look for the box labeled "Events." Move your mouse over to the right, find the blue edit button and click it.
As with the Discussions tab, we'll want to jump straight to "Application Settings." This time around, you'll need to decide how you want to approach sharing event updates with your fans. It's easy enough to select the Tab setting and give fans the option of exploring a full page worth of events that way, but if you plan to integrate a lot of tab options for content and you know you'll be going light on the events, you may want to disable tabs and enable the "box" option.
If you enable the box, your events will show up in the left side bar under your avatar, along side your content. Like this:
Now that you've got your Events set to show up the way you want them to, let's try adding one.
If you've added an Events tab to your Facebook Page, you can click on it, then look for the "Create an Event" button on the top right side of the screen.
You'll be taken to the first of three pages you'll need to fill out to create your event.
It's important to note that as of right now, Facebook Page Events do not have the same features as Facebook Profile Events. When you're setting up an event on your personal profile, you can set an event to be Open, Closed or Secret. This gives you quite a bit of leeway in using the application for events that may or may not be open to the public. The event option for your Facebook Page lacks this. (Hopefully just for now...)
Fill in the information for your event and click "Create Event."
The next page will give you the option of uploading an event photo, writing a description of the event and selecting the options for how the event will show. You can choose to enable an event wall and then to allow guests of the event to post their own photos, videos and link. You can decide if you want to show the guest list or not and you can allow your guests to spread the word and invite other guests.
When you hit "Save and Continue," you'll get a pop up window showing you what the event will look like when you publish it to your wall.
The event will immediately publish to your Wall. Facebook will then give you the option of going through your list of contacts and inviting specific people to the event. You can also import email addresses and add a personal message to your invite before sending it off.
Click "Send Invitations" or go ahead and skip this part and just leave the event posted on your wall.
Once you've done this, Facebook will automatically take you to the event page you've created.
You'll quickly see where you can upload photos, add video, post related links and make posts to the event wall. Over on the right side of the page you can also RSVP as to whether you are attending, print a guest list, invite more people to the event or even promote the event with an ad.
Once you've got that set up, go ahead and click back over to your Facebook Page and take a look at how the event shows up on your wall stream.
If you've got an active membership for your Facebook Page, you may not need to do much more than publish the event. If you're just getting things set up, you're going to have to do a bit of publicity for it. This is where you'll need to actively issue invites, add that email list, and come up with some creative send to friend incentives to help your existing fans spread the word to potential fans.
Using the Facebook Pages Link Application
Your Facebook Page should be a resource for your fans. It should be a place for them to learn about your company and your offerings, but it should also be a place to get supplemental information, to spark conversation and to share things you find. The Facebook Links application makes this possible.
Once again we want to head back to the settings page. (Go back to your Facebook Page and find the "edit page" link under your page's profile picture.)
As with the last two applications, we'll need to start by clicking the blue edit button on the right side of the Links box.
You'll need to once again decide if you want this application to run via boxes or tabs. I've personally yet to really see a reason why I'd run my links in a tab, so I always leave this option off.
Links are more of an immediate delivery to your audience, showing up in your stream and getting clicked and commented on. That said, I do like to turn the box option on. This allows the last several links you've shared to be archived in the box tab on the left side of your page.
The great thing about adding links to your Facebook Page is the system does a great job of formatting them in a way that makes them stand out. You're not publishing a standard text link here. When you enter a hyperlink, Facebook will automatically pull the title of the page, a description and will let you pick an image. You'll also be able to add your own commentary on the link. If you've ever shared a link via your blog, think of this as a micro version of that.
Posting a link is crazy simple.
Simply go to your Facebook Page and find the big entry box at the top of the page.
Paste your link into this box.
Facebook will automatically go spider the link and will generate a box below the entry point that pulls the title of the page, a description (sometimes the Meta, sometimes a snippet from the page) and any images that may be relevant.
If there are multiple images available, you'll be able to use the forward and back arrows that show next to the image to scroll through and pick the one you like best. (You can also click the "no thumbnail" image if you'd rather not have one, but keep in mind images naturally draw the eye toward them, making link that include images stand out on the page.)
Once you're satisfied with the information for the link, it's time to move back up to the entry box and add your own commentary.
You can highlight and delete the link you entered at this point if you'd like. It will still show as a fully functional link when it's posted. I tend to do this before adding some comments about the link.
Links can be an effective tool for attracting fans and building up loyalty. Share resources with your readers. Give them interesting and relevant information and become the source they trust for the topic you cover.
Coming Up Next
In the next article in the series, I'll keep working through the native Facebook Page applications. We'll take a look at the Notes feature, the Photo Album feature and Video integration. We'll skip over the native Facebook RSS/Blog options because quite frankly, I think they're lame. (Don't worry, I'll share with you my favorite third party app for integrating your blog feed down the road.)
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by Stoney deGeyter
OK, so you've got your site set-up and configured in Google Webmaster tools. Now it's time to start looking at the data.
Your Site on the Web
Google Webmaster Tools allows you to view some basic stats and data for your site. It's not nearly as robust as Google Analytics--not even c
- Top search queries
- Links to your site (still to come)
- Keywords (still to come)
- Internal links (still to come)
- Subscriber stats (still to come)
Top Search Queries
This section of Google Webmaster Tools gives you information on what keywords people are using to find your site. Before discussing this in more detail I want to caution anyone from using this information incorrectly.
Just because a keyword query isn't listed here doesn't mean it is not a good keyword to go after. This only represents how people are currently finding you. Keywords not listed here simply mean that you're not well optimized for those keywords and should not be interpreted as meaning they are not good keywords to optimize for.
Onto the data...
At the top you can filter the results by image, mobile, smartphone and web search results. The default setting is "all" which shows a combination of all of them. If you want to narrow it down to just web search results, select "web" and so on.
You can also filter results by country. Again, the default setting here is all countries. You might want to filter your results for your target country, or see how your your site performs from a number of other countries. If you are an American business or primarily target an American audience, you'll want to select "United States" to ensure you're results are filtered properly.
Finally, you can filter the results by date range. The default setting shows data from the last month but you can now change that by any date range you wish. Previously you only had a few options such as "last month," or "last week."
At the top you can see a graph of your site impressions and clickthroughs for the selected period of time along with the totals.
Just below that are four columns of data. From left to right you see "Query" which is the keywords used to find your site, "Impressions" which is the number of times your site appeared in a search, "Clickthrough" which is the number of times someone clicked the search result and landed on your site, and "% Clickthrough" which is your clickthrough rate for each term.
Now let's look at the data displayed, what it means and how you can apply it to your SEO campaign.
Each of the queries is expandable to allow you to get even more detailed stats. As you can see from the image above Google will give you the position your site achieved during the selected time frame. You'll get individual stats for the first five positions, then stats for positions 6-10 and then 2nd page, 3rd page+.
Below the ranking information you'll see the individual pages that were ranked for the specific keyword selected. The down side here is you can't see which pages held the any of the positions noted above.
Now, looking at the entire chart for the same keyword as above, you can see the breakdown in the additional columns.
Seeing how many impressions your site received from each "position" is nice, but this information lacks better context. Sometimes you'll see second and third page rankings getting far more impressions than a first page ranking. This seems to defy logic until you realize that your lower rankings were likely held for a much longer period of time than the higher ranking. It would be nice to see how many days any page held a particular ranking. This would give the impressions much needed context.
The next column of clickthroughs lets you know how many times your site was clicked in each position. You can also see how many times each page was clicked as well. Sometimes these numbers match up nicely so you CAN see which page held which ranking. This chart shows a perfect example. Both the #1 ranking and the home page got 50 impressions and 28 clicks.
Finally, you can see what your click through rate is for each position and page. This simply divides the clickthroughs by the impressions (times 100) to give you a percentage.
The data on this page has changed significantly from just a few weeks ago. Previously you'd see an average position for any keywords and Google didn't provide any specific page data whatsoever. You also only saw a impression percentage, that represented each query's percentage of impressions in relation to all the other queries your site appeared for. This is a nice change, moving in the right direction.
With the new data provided by Google you can see which pages are ranking for any given term. Are these the pages you want to rank? Should different pages be ranking that are not? Take this data and adjust your SEO efforts accordingly.
Also, if you find you're getting a low clickthrough rate, despite good rankings, you may need to adjust your title and descriptions. Tweaking titles and descriptions will help you get more clicks. As your clickthrough rate increases so does your visitor count!
Learn more about these sections of Google Webmaster Tools
- Part I: Setting up a site
- Part II: Site configuration
- Part III: Your site on the web
- Part IV: Your site on the web (continued)
- Part V: Diagnostics
- Part VI: Labs
Be sure and visit our small business news site.
by Stoney deGeyter
Several weeks ago I was asked to speak to the Cleveland, Ohio chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). In all my y
I don't know much about public relations, but I do know SEO and Social Media. My task was to communicate the value of SEO and Social Media to this group of public relations experts. What follows is the result. I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Jennifer Evans Laycock, as she worked with me on parts of this presentation. If any particular slide is valuable (or pretty), it's probably due to her!
How Print Audience Differs From Web Audience
There is a big difference between reading things online versus offline. We often want to think that reading is reading is reading. But reading here isn't the same as reading there. The mindset between on- and offline is vast.
Think for a second. When you grab a book, a magazine, or even a printed piece of material, what do you do? Most of us find a comfortable place to sit, have a tasty beverage within reach, and our feet kicked up on an ottoman or coffee table. We're settling in. But, when reading online, we generally don't get that luxury. We're at a desk with a keyboard and a mouse, probably piles of paperwork within eye shot and our list of tasks is fighting for our attention.
Two experiences, two different mindsets. Before we dive into some of the PR specific issues, let's look at some of the differences between print readers and online readers:
Print Readers are Purposeful
As I alluded to above, print readers tend to be more purpose-oriented. We go out of our way to make sure our setting is just right. Maybe we turn the TV off, maybe we grab a blanket to cozy up under or maybe we take our reading material outside or to the park to enjoy a bit of nice weather.
Many of us have our "reading time." We wait until the office is quiet, the kids are in bed, or a time of day when the distractions are lower than normal. We generally set out to accomplish something. "I'm going to read 50 pages in my book." You want to read the daily paper, or that weekly magazine before the next issue arrives. Or maybe you've got a pile of work papers you want to get through before going into the office tomorrow.
This is the mindset of print. It's goal oriented. You're going to get through this and be done with it. It's completed. Web readers, on the other hand, think very differently.
Web Readers Have a Lack of Focus and Intent
When we read on the web, many of us are sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen. While mobile devices are getting more popular, I don't think this is doing anything to focus our reading. In fact, it may even be less focused as we're on the mobile device only because we are doing something else at the same time. Hence the "mobile" part.
But either way, web reading on any type of computer tends to be much more haphazard. It's not like a book or a magazine. It's more about finding small snippets of information, quickly digesting it and moving on. Our intent is usually more about immediate interest rather anything else. We may read a blog post, scan our twitter stream, scroll through our RSS feeds, or follow some links to a piece of content that looks like new information. And sometimes doing all these things at the same time!
Ultimately, we're not settling in to read. We're searching or scanning and we're reading just enough to get what we need before we move on to another task or another piece of content. And that's where it becomes a battle for those of us that produce content. We're struggling to get the attention of a goldfish!
Internet Readers are Highly Distractable
One of the issues with people reading the web is that it's usually a secondary activity. There is something, or often many things, going on around them at the same time. While reading a piece of content, an important email might come in to their inbox (or an interesting piece of spam, for that matter!) Or maybe their kids are throwing a football in the house and they need to be talked to in a nice, calm, rational way. Or perhaps someone IMs them and they start up a conversation.
When I'm on my work computer, I'm distracted by four monitors. Email, tasks, IM, Twitter, facebook and who knows what else is open in front of me at any given (or more likely, all the) time. Most people don't have that many things open in front of them, but there is still plenty of distraction happening.
When on the web, our attention spans are shorter than normal. We don't invest time to reading web content, and we're often doing several other things at once. This makes it ever more difficult to get the attention of our audience. Bizy, bizy, bizy!
Internet Readers are Usually Multi-Tasking
Not only are we easily distracted when reading, most web readers are doing multiple tasks at once. That IM conversation that starts up may be going on simultaneously as we are reading. Or the article content we are writing leads us to research the topic to gather some thoughts and ideas. Or maybe we're planning a vacation and reading up on locations and things to do.
This is the nature of the web. We go read (or search) not because that's what we're settling down to do, but because we're doing something else and we're using the web to accomplish that goal. Frequently, web reading is the secondary activity to the primary activity or goal we're working on.
And since we're using the web to complete a primary task, we go out looking for information that helps us achieve that goal. But instead of finding a few resources, we find, well, millions of pages of content at our fingertips, all clamoring for a piece of our divided attention.
The Internet is Highly Competitive When it Comes to Content
Billions of new pages of content are being added to the internet every day! Think about every new website, blog post, product page, twitter stream, facebook profile, or Google Place that gets created, and it quickly adds up. Billions of pages! That is a lot of new competition on a day-to-day basis.
Imagine turning your TV on one day and finding a billion new channels! Try channel surfing that! But that's what we do on the web. We surf, search, follow and "like" our way through new content on a daily basis. The competition for our attention isn't only endless, it's growing!
This means we have to treat web content differently than print content. We have to write for the online audience. Taking into consideration all the things above, we have to know what our goals are and write in a way that enables us to not only get our audience's attention, but to also make sure our content fulfills our intended goals.
Three Major Considerations for Online Content
When writing content for an online audience, there are three primary things we have to consider: search, social and conversions. Content that is designed for any one of these can succeed greatly at the one, but fail spectacularly overall.
Search Engines: Is your content developed with searchers and search engines in mind? If not, then you're losing out on a significant portion of your audience. You need to make sure your content can be found, spidered and that it uses the phrases your audience is using. More on that later in this series.
Social Media: While not all content needs to be social content, social content has the ability to reach a much bigger audience. The question becomes, how do you turn "meh" content into "yay" content that gets passed around the social sphere. We'll look at how to build content that gets noticed as well.
Conversions: Conversions is just another way to say "goals." But on the web, the goal is to get your reader to take some kind of action; to "convert" from a reader to a subscriber, purchaser, communicator or whatever else you need them to do. If you know what your conversion points are, you need to make sure your content does more than inform, but drives each visitor to that point of taking action.
Good content accomplishes all three of these. Not only will it be well-optimized for rankings, but it will also be content that people find valuable enough to pass around their social profiles. On top of that, it'll convert them into customers!
In the next post, we'll look at the goals of online PR and what you want your public relations pieces to achieve on the web.
See all posts in this series:
Part 1: Intro / How Print Audience Differs from Web Audience
Part 2: Goals of Online PR
Part 3: Background Research
Part 4a: Crafting the Story p1
Part 4b: Crafting the Story p2
Part 5: Broadcasting the Message / Conclusion
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If you are telling yourself or are being told about all the things you can't do, you are living in a false reality. You are living in a construct that has been fabricated to keep you in your place. If you are able to watch this video, you are blessed beyond the vast majority of the people alive on this planet right now. No matter your current situation, you are blessed with incredible opportunity. Don't let that opportunity slip by because of some false rules put in place by society. You owe it to the world to live the life you most dream about.
The following series is pulled from a presentation I gave to a group of beauty bloggers hosted by L'Oreal in New York. Most of the presentation is geared toward how to make a blog more search engine and user-friendly, however I will expand many of the concepts here to include tips and strategies for sites selling products or services across all industries.
Links come in all different shapes and sizes
There are three basic ways of linking between sites, One-way, reciprocal and multi-way. We'll take a look at these, their values and whether its a type of linking you should be engaged in.
A reciprocal link, in simplest terms, is a link from Site A to site B and a link back from Site B to Site A. Many have written reciprocal links off as being completely irrelevant but that's far too simplistic. There is nothing wrong with reciprocal links in an of themselves. Its all in the execution.
Low-Quality Reciprocal Links
The lowest quality reciprocal links are those found on pages specifically designed to house reciprocal links. What you get from these "resource" pages is a bunch of barely related links from Site A to one or more dozens of other websites. All of these build their own "resource" pages that do you the favor of linking back to you and one or more dozens of other sites.
These pages are usually easy to spot because they generally provide little value to the visitors of the site, other than for a good laugh. If you find yourself linking to a site that links back this way it would probably be of benefit to you to stop linking to them. The link pointed to you likely has no value, however by associating yourself with them (via your link) you can be sending the search engines a signal that you don't care much about the quality of sites you link out to.
High-Quality Reciprocal Links
Despite the belief of some, there are reciprocal links that can pass a lot of value to you. Low-quality reciprocal links are there simply for the quid pro quo of the link. High quality reciprocal linking has nothing to do with doing someone a favor in order to get something in return. These are two links that are made independently of each other simply because you, and the "reciprocating" site find each other's content valuable.
It's entirely possible that one of the linking parties has no idea the other site is linking to them because each link was given entirely on the basis of the value of the content being linked to. It wasn't pre-arranged or purposeful in any way.
That doesn't mean you can't pre-arrange a reciprocal link and still make it valuable. You can, you just need to make sure it looks as natural and non-pre-arranged as possible. Linking and receiving a link in the midst of quality content in primary site pages can do the trick. Just be careful about how many of these reciprocal links show up at the same time.
This is where some of the link schemes get clever. Reciprocal links, we are told have no value so you have to have three or more site's linking together so there is no direct reciprocating link at all.
Three-way link schemes aren't all that difficult for search engines to sniff out so these multi-link programs have gotten more complex. The latest version is link wheels. This is where networks of sites link to a second level of sites which then link to you. You get dozens or hundreds of "one-way" links to your site through these link wheel networks.
Like most linking schemes these link wheels will probably have limited value over the short-term without any real long-term benefits.
On a pure value standpoint, one way links (sans any linking schemes) are the most valuable links you can get. This is, in most circumstances, a link to your site from someone that finds your content valuable, doesn't ask for a link back, you don't link back to them on your own.
If you have good content, this type of link isn't all that rare. The best link marketing is creating a valuable website that is informative, helpful and educational. Of course this isn't proactive marketing, which is why you see a lot of options to purchase one-way links.
Without a doubt, search engines frown on purchased links that are not clearly defined as such both visually and/or using the nofollow attribute. Purchase links at your own risk. If you are using a broker that claims to keep their purchased links hidden from the search engines, keep in mind that the search engines can easily spend money building sites and purchasing links from these same networks. The hidden network is no longer hidden from the search engines and they might not even be aware of it.
Not all purchases links have no value, but only so long as the link flies under the search engine radar. This can rarely be done by purchasing links from a broker, but can be done on a one-on-one situation.
Links are an important part of your optimization campaign, but not every link will provide you the same value. Aside from worrying about reciprocal links, link wheels or even purchasing one-way links, go outside of the box of "get me a link" and think about providing value to your visitors that is worth linking to. Once you have that, then consider ways to get the word of your content out to those that are most likely to link, become customers, and spread the word.
Missed a part of this series?
Part 1: Everything You Need To Know About SEO
Part 2: Everything You Need To Know About Title Tags
Part 3: Everything You Need To Know About Meta Description and Keyword Tags
Part 4: Everything You Need To Know About Heading Tags and Alt Attributes
Part 5: Everything You Need To Know About Domain Names
Part 6: Everything You Need To Know About Search Engine Friendly URLs & Broken Links
Part 7: Everything You Need To Know About Site Architecture and Internal Linking
Part 8: Everything You Need To Know About Keywords
Part 9: Everything You Need To Know About Keyword Core Terms
Part 10: Everything You Need To Know About Keyword Qualifiers
Part 11: Everything You Need To Know About SEO Copywriting
Part 12: Everything You Need To Know About Page Content
Part 13: Everything You Need To Know About Links
Part 14: Everything You Need To Know About Link Anatomy
Part 15: Everything You Need To Know About Linking
Be sure and visit our small business news site.
If you're looking to further your education in online marketing or know of a non-profit that could use an educational boost of their own, you're going to be interested in hearing about MarketMotive's spring scholarship contest. The team at MarketMotive is generously allowing each faculty member to award a scholarship to one of their readers.
The contest is simple...just write up a brief social media marketi
If you're already a social media whiz, that's fantastic...use the scholarship to sign up for one of our other courses. (Or, give it away to someone else!)
You can choose from quite a few different options:
- Paid Search Advertising with David Szetela
- Internet Marketing Fundamentals with Matt Bailey
- Web Analytics with Avinash Kaushik and John Marshall
- Online PR with Greg Jarboe
- Social Media Marketing with Jennifer Laycock
- Conversion Optimization with Bryan Eisenberg
- Search Engine Optimization with Todd Malicoat
Not familiar with MarketMotive? That's ok...check out the program and watch a brief video explaining how it all works.
Rules: Submitting a plan means contestants agree that their plan may be be posted (with attribution) and/or sent to the charity. Plans may be edited before being posted at blog owner's discretion. Winning plan (s)will be selected at the discretion of MarketMotive faculty chairs. All entries must be submitted before 12:01 am EST on April 4th, 2010, and the finalists will be announced the week of April 5th.
Be sure and visit our small business news site.
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