David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

Tips for better SEO (search engine optimization) and website marketing …

THE HAPPY GUY MARKETING

 

Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

What if Google doesn’t rule the world?

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

While getting your site burnt to the ground in Google search is undeniably a huge setback, it is not the end of the world. Before abandoning your website, consider the alternatives to Google search traffic.

When most people think of the word “search engine”, they think about Google. Just “Google it” is even considered a verb by most people. While Google is the number one search engine, and mighty convenient much of the time, it is not the only search option. That is really good news for bloggers and small business owners who have been devastated by the recent Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird blitzes.

In fact, when done right, you can find the other search engines so useful to your business that you might not have to rely on Google search for your business ever again.

Alternatives to Google search

First, Google is not the only search engine. Surprisingly enough, other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Ask, Blekko and DuckDuckGo exist to help you find whatever you are looking for online. These smaller search engines make up approximately 26 percent of searches around the world.

While nowhere near Google’s dominance, over the past year Google has slipped to 67 percent of searches. What that means is that Google’s lead while strong is not infallible to a disruptive search technology – remember when Alta Vista ruled search and Netscape ruled browsers?

Where else do people search?

Second, you could also start searching through directories.  Remember how directories like DMOZ , Aviva and JoeAnt used to be how people found things before search engines took over? In fact, that’s how Google used to find websites.

Niche directories can still be more useful than search engines, such as local city directories (I’ve used Ottawa Start for certain searches.)  You can sometimes find more detailed and categorized information in these directories, and you don’t have to wade through irrelevant results from similar-sounding searches.

Niche directories like Aviva and Technocrati even have blog directories, where you can search for peer bloggers in your niche. This is a superb resource for blog research and blogger outreach.

Third, you might find what you want in video format. Have you ever considered that video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo are just large video search engines? Video is not just for music and old TV shows anymore.  You can find almost any information you want on YouTube.

While YouTube is a Google product, they have their own search engine on the site specifically for videos. Also, Vimeo is a great place to find specific channels with quality information, since they have standards on who is allowed to post content.

Fourth, use Amazon search for your product needs. Amazon can help you find almost any book, electronic, MP3, or product on the planet. With millions of their own products, plus Amazon stores with millions upon millions of additional products, this truly is the search engine of shopping.  Oh, and eBay.  And Kijiji here in Canada.  And Craigslist.  Lots of great places to look for products, new and used.

If you are a retailer, setting up an Amazon store and getting found on their search engine could be more important than being found on Google. Think about this for a second? Would you rather have your clients searching on Google, going from site to site, or on Amazon where they have one click processing for registered users?

Fifth, welcome to the era of social search. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have very dynamic search features. Twitter invented hashtag searches, which are now standard also on Facebook, Pinterest and Google Plus.

Facebook has recently been updating its search recently to try and compete actively with Google search. Its graph search not only takes in the words you are looking for, but also incorporates your own social network in the results. That way, you can search for information that people in your network already provide.

Think about this example for a moment. You write a blog post about “Real Estate Investing.” While that might be a crowded term on Google, you know that a number of your friends on Facebook regularly search for this keyword to build connections.  The next time they do a search on Facebook for real estate investing, you have an increased chance of showing up in their search. What we are talking about here is targeted prospects learning about what you do, and coming to see your content.  So it matters who you know on Facebook.

Google Plus is beginning to use this approach, but it is too early to tell if it will catch on.

Twitter search, while a bit more limited, works in a similar fashion if you want to see who has spoken about specific topics. You can do twitter searches for specific keywords, and find out who is talking about your product and/or industry. This is a great way to prospect for new followers and blog subscribers – much better than using a search engine.

Sixth, industry search engines are also used for business to business searches.  You have to pay for your place in Thomasnet, but it can bring in  a lot of business.  Many companies search for suppliers in busines-to-business search engines. Even if you cannot be found in Google, your listing in a niche search engine can be found when people search Google.

More than one way to be found

As you can see, while Google might rule traditional search, there are still a lot of ways for people to be found via other social networks. The key is to figure out where your target market is, and how they search. Then you can augment your strategy to be found on multiple search engines. My question for you is where do you want to be found online?

 

 


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How to instantly establish trust and authority with your website

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Trust is something you have to earn, but impatient customers are ready to let you earn it easily. Here are a few ways to quickly earn their trust.

Understanding your customers and how they buy is critical to how you set about establishing trust and authority in their eyes. My caveat: whatever you read here is valid only to the point that you test it out and decide that it works for you … or that it does not work for you.

In my previous post, I showed how most people shopping for a service from an individual will not seek out articles to determine their level of expertise. They will look for other things. In the case of designers, they will look for visual samples. But for lawyers and accountants and many medical services and others, they will look for other signs of expertise and trust.

And for people shopping for physical products, I mentioned that customers don’t generally look for expertise.  But there are two key trust factors people look for:

1. The manufacturer of a product – that the product is made well.
2. The retailer – that money handed over will result in the product being delivered.

Questions customers askIn many cases, the  website is run by a retailer selling some other company’s products. In other cases, you are both retailer and manufacturer – you sell your own product.

Whether it’s a physical product or a service, people will come to your site and have the following (often unspoken) questions:

  • Is this product any good?
  • Will it deliver what it promises?
  • Will it break or is it durable?
  • Am I getting a good deal?
  • Is it easy to order?
  • Can I trust my money with these guys?
  • Will the product arrive as ordered, unbroken, on time?
  • Can I get it serviced?

Some of these questions will apply to your website, depending on whether you sell a product or a service, whether it is your own or you are just a retailer.

Read Also: Make a Winning eCommerce Shopping Experience

There are many ways to establish trust with your visitors and give them the confidence to order from you. Here are some good ones, but certainly not an exhaustive list. Which ones apply to you, depends on which of the questions above people are asking.

“See it in use” are magic words. If people can see a video of a product actually being used, it is easier to believe that the product will work well. That’s why TV advertising is so effective for physical products. Ideally, show it doing exactly what the text on your website says it can do. Show smiling faces of people pleased with its performance.

Words of praise. Testimonials are very powerful. That is why so many websites feature a testimonials page. This is a good first start; a testimonials page helps you gain trust of people proactively seeking confidence. Unfortunately, it does nothing for those people whose doubts are unspoken.

Words of praise where it counts. For those people whose doubts are unspoken, testimonials need to be right on the sales page. Ideally, each product page should have a testimonial specific to that product. That helps instill confidence in both the product and the seller, and just when it is most needed – at the point where the buyer is ready to decide. This is exactly what I do, as you can see here.

Words of praise that can actually be believed. It is increasingly common knowledge that most online testimonials and reviews are fake. It is a sad commentary on our society, but I don‘t trust online testimonials. However, there are some ways to make them more believable:

  • Add a photo of the person so that it is clear that the testimonial comes from a real person.
  • Even better, a photo of the person with the product.
  • Even better, a photo of the person using the product.
  • Be specific about who the person is, with name and town, if possible.
  • A video testimonial is even more powerful, especially if it is specific.

Offsite reviews. Put to use offsite reviews. Again, these are not always believable, witness the current crisis surrounding Yelp reviews and the widespread marketplace for fake reviews, but if you get positive reviews (real ones), you might as well quote from them and/or link to them on your website.

You have to earn your customers' trustShow its durability. If possible, take a sledge hammer to the product to show its durability. This might not work with crystal glassware; please use discretion. But remember how Tilley built its hat empire on the powerful testimonial of how the hat went through an elephant’s entire digestive system unharmed.

“Elephant trainer Michael Hackenberger of the Bowmanville (Ontario) Zoo, had his Tilley Hat snatched from his head and eaten by an elephant. Three times. Michael later would find and pick up his Hat, wash it thoroughly, and wear it. He had declined to accept a new Tilley Hat in order that we may have his well-traveled Tilley for our museum. (We were secretly pleased!)” Alex Tilley, Ontario.

Unless you are selling a service or a consumable, durability will be an unspoken concern for your visitors.

Offer a guarantee. People trust someone better who is willing to offer a guarantee.  A money-back guarantee works best. In my experience, people never ask for a money back guarantee for a physical product unless it really is broken or doesn’t work. However, for services, I have found there to be a lot of scam clients. Here is an example:

The client wanted her resume edited and cover letter written (not something we normally do), pleaded poverty for a discount (we should never have given the discount – lesson learned?) then needed two versions of the letter prepared (which we did at no extra charge). When it was delivered, she went straight to the Better Business Bureau seeking 100% refund of her discounted price because she found a missing comma and a run-on sentence. The comma she could have just inserted, and the run-on sentence actually read quite well (and we are always happy to edit anyway as part of our standard service, anyway).

Fortunately, these don’t happen every day, but they do happen sometimes, and there is often a lot of money involved (we don’t sell $10 items). So we can not offer a money-back guarantee, but we do offer a no-questions-asked escape clause in all our contracts. If you are not happy with how a writing project is proceeding, just call it off and we will settle based on how much of the work has been completed.  This is something we have never promoted; maybe we should.

Trust logos. Speaking of Better Business Bureau, displaying their logo is a symbol of trust. A professional accreditation logo works well, too. There are also trust logos related to security of payments that are worth adding. Proper placement of these can make a huge difference in conversions.  Customers need to trust you, your product, your payments and your delivery.

Read Also: 12 ways to brag without bragging online

“As seen in” logos. People trust the media. They say the media can’t be trusted, but they lie. If they see something in the newspaper or on TV, they generally believe it.  (Here is why, in case you are interested.) That’s why “As seen on TV” products sell so well. So it is worth adding as-seen-in logos to your website. You can see how this is done at www.PlantingMoneySeeds.com.

Introduce yourself. Add a video of yourself welcoming people to your website. This is common for consultants to do, but it can help any website. When people can see who they are doing business with, they are more likely to trust them than if they are just dealing with an anonymous website.  People like the convenience of shopping online, but they still like to know whom they are dealing with.  This is particularly worthwhile if you are an unknown brand.

Craft details. Describe in meticulous detail with text, diagrams, pictures and video all the care that has gone into crafting the product. It doesn’t matter what the product is, even if “craft” is not a word you would associate with it.  Show the love, the care, the attention to detail.  This will increase people’s trust in the product and in the manufacturer – and the likelihood that they will buy.

Online chat. Just having the chat available, even if it isn’t used, gives customers peace of mind.  They know that you are there if they need you. That alone can be enough to convince them to trust you with their money. Posting full contact details (address, phone and email) helps them trust also that you won’t be here today, gone tomorrow when they need help.  This is especially true if the product seems complicated and people worry that they might need help assembling or setting it up.

You don’t have to take all of these measures. Many won’t apply to your specific product or service. But the more of them you include, the more comfortable people will be trusting you with their money and making a purchase from your website.

 


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Content marketing is not king of trust

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Content marketing is very useful, but rarely for establishing trust and clinching a sale.

“Content is king.” Who could have guessed that those prophetic words by Bill Gates would today be such a well-worn phrase as to be taken for Gospel truth by pretty much everyone in 2014?

And who could have guessed that those same words would have taken on the misguided meaning that content marketing is king, with the 2014 gold rush to anything that can be labeled “content marketing”.

Content marketing can draw customers inDon’t get me wrong – content marketing is a very powerful tool for many businesses in a number of different circumstances. But the mass migration to the “content marketing” buzzword in 2014 will undoubtedly lead many, many businesses to take up something that is of little value to them, and use it for the wring reasons with predictably unsatisfactory results.

The context for the content marketing craze is the realization that authority is what people and now search engines are looking for.

Well, yes, that is true. It always has been. Google always measured website authority and trust; that’s what PageRank was (still is?) all about, as well as numerous measures of topical relevance, the longevity of a domain and how trustworthy are the websites that link to it. The difference now is that Google seems to have come up with a means of measuring an individual’s authority and trust.

Of course, the expertise of an individual is important when judging the value of his or her advice. However, no algorithm can do anything but make a rough guess on that point.

How does “authority” translate into marketing your business? Is content the marketing king? I recently found myself in a discussion with someone who insisted that content marketing is crucial because you have to build trust to make a sale, and expertise is the basis for trust.

The premise of his argument is that:

A) People read articles as part of the sales process.
B) People follow writers until eventually deciding to buy.

I disagreed, at least for most businesses.

Before going any further, let’s agree – and I think we can – that there are many types of businesses and there are many types of customers. One size does not fit all. The question for each business to determine is what methods fit its sales process and target market.

Let’s also put aside the usefulness of content marketing in the funnel, and content that is actually part of the buying process (demos, product descriptions, etc.), well expressed by Tom Shivers. Those are fairly widely useful, and not at all about building a reputation in the hopes that eventually readers will buy.

When you are the product, such as if you are a consultant or a writer or a designer, your expertise is crucial – no question about that. Trust in you as an individual and in your expertise (authority?) is your main selling point.

When the product is ball bearings or sandals, nobody cares about you as an individual. Yes, trust is crucial, but authority is not. What do they care about?

1. The manufacturer of a product – that the product is made well.
2. The retailer – that money handed over will result in the product being delivered.

Read Also: Make a Winning eCommerce Shopping Experience

In Part II of this discussion (next blog post) we will look at how to build the trust and confidence for a product (hint, it’s not by writing articles or designing Infographics) and for a retailer, too.  For now, let’s look at when the product is you – when authority can be part of the trust equation.

Nobody chooses a web designer for their articles.The number of purchases people make that are in fact expertise purchases is substantial. Consider the following services:

  • Legal help.
  • Accounting.
  • Web design.
  • Marketing.
  • Pest control.
  • Real estate agent.
  • Financial adviser.
  • Healthcare practitioner.
  • Trainer or educator.
  • Pet groomer.
  • Home renovator.

In all these cases, the individual’s expertise is crucial to the value one gets from buying, so authority on a subject matter could have a direct link to consumer trust.

One of the premises of the importance of content marketing as a means of building trust and using expertise to make sales is that people will follow you (and perhaps several competitors) for a while before deciding that you are the person to hire.

This might be the case with financial advisers, marketing help and web design. And maybe if you are planning a move in advance, you would do the same thing for a real estate agent. These are services that you might know about well in advance and might start shopping around before you are ready to make the purchase. And you might very well read their articles to get an idea of what their approach is, if you feel qualified to make some kind of judgment.

Or you might just read their sales pages and look at other trust indicators - ones that take less time and attention that reading through articles – that we’ll be discussing in my follow-up post, and maybe fill in a query form and engage in a few questions.

In fact, for web design, marketing and so many other services, a visual gallery of past projects is more likely what customers want to look at. They don’t usually have the patience to read through reams of words that they know they are unqualified to judge. But most people do feel comfortable looking at pictures and deciding if that looks professional and trustworthy.

I am not saying that articles on a website are useless. I am saying to think carefully about what a prospective customer will look for, on what basis they will decide that you have the expertise to deliver, and create the content that will be most effective – and often it is not articles or Infographics.

Who chooses a real estate agent for their articles?What about a lawyer? Chances are that you won’t even look for a lawyer until suddenly you need to hire one. You won’t read their articles for months before deciding to hire one. The same thing with accounting. And with pest control. People will not read tons of articles to decide if you are trustworthy; they will make a very quick decision – they need to find help fast!

In fact, I’ll take this argument one step further. Even if you are a financial planner or a real estate agent or a marketing consultant, what percentage of your prospects do research months in advance, and what percentage wait until the last minute, search on Google or Bing (maybe comparing a few websites), ask friends for recommendations and make a flash decision whom to contact and most likely end up hiring?

Of course, if you are shopping for car parts, clothing, gadgets, etc, no individual’s expertise will factor into the buying process.

The reality is that for the vast majority of businesses – even those based upon the expertise of an individual – informative articles on a topic will not be a major factor in converting visitors into customers.  There are more effective ways to establish trust, as we will discuss in the follow-up article.

That does not mean articles are useless, just not a priority in establishing trust within the sales conversion process.

Nor does that mean that article marketing, video marketing and Infographics are useless, just not as a means of establishing trust with visitors to most websites.

What content marketing does very well is to draw in people who are not yet shopping, people who are gathering information and might not yet know that they need your services – top of the funnel. They seek information, in so doing they find your article, they read, they learn, they realize that maybe they need professional help, they visit your website…and then hopefully you can make the sale.

In my next post I will discuss what, rather than articles and “content marketing”, will establish trust with potential customers once they are on your website.

 


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A social media monitoring success story

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Smart brands are monitoring social media to track their reputation and following up with action. This is the story of one such smart brand.

So here I am, working remotely once again from my favourite office away from home – the Ottawa Public Library. I wrote about this set-up on my lifestyle blog, not from a marketing perspective, but focusing instead on the flexibility that working remotely allows me to have with family life.

I mentioned the service I use to access my desktop computer, back at my home office, remotely from the library: LogMeIn.com. I did not really do a review of the service, as I have nothing to compare it to. And I was very frank about the advantages of the service as well as the weaknesses. But all in all, it was a positive experience, and I reported it as such.

And I tweeted it. Here is the tweet (It’s a good one; don’t be shy to retweet it.):

 


 

And that’s where the branding fun began. Interestingly, I did not tweet #LogMeIn or @LogMeIn. But the folks at LogMeIn were obviously paying attention, because they messaged me via Twitter for my address. A few days later, a courier arrived with a care package from LogmeIn. Look at all the promotional items they sent me in appreciation for having blogged about their service.

We can always use new water bottles around here. And pens, of course. And I know my daughters will love the little iPod speaker port when I release it to them, as well as the ear plugs. Nice sticker, too, although perhaps less useful. The playing cards will be a hit when one of our current decks burns out, and we need another deck for Dame de Pique or Sequence. And who doesn’t need more pens? (The hats were already on the mantle.)

Tweet this: “Look what brand really ‘gets’ social media.”

Why was it smart to send these promotional items to me? Well, for starters, I am a user of their services and it will build loyalty. Yes, I do feel more positive about LogMeIn because of the gesture.

Perhaps they thought I would be likely to share a pic of these items on Instagram or on Pinterest, and as a blogger who is at least somewhat connected, that would be good promotion for them. (Answer: yes to Pinterest, no to Instagram).

Perhaps they are trying to build brand ambassadors.

They might hope this will inspire me to upgrade to “pro”.

Perhaps they figured I might write about them again, and it never hurts to show your appreciation. After all, in any networking situation the two most important words are “Thank you” – even more important that “How can I help you?” If that was the case, they were right, because here I am writing about them.

Read Also: Case Study on how NOT to do reputation management

Of course, as a social media strategist myself, I am more keenly aware than many people of how a brand is using social media. But I suspect that most bloggers would also sit up and take notice.

Are you monitoring your brand on social media? Are you taking advantage of positive opportunities as much as trying to fix negative situations? Any time your brand is mentioned, you should know about it and take action. And that action should be…

  • Turn a disgruntled customer into an advocate.
  • Consolidate an advocate
  • Provide more fuel for advocates to use

I have no idea how consistent LogMeIn’s social media monitoring and follow-up are; I can base my opinions only on how they followed up with me. And for that, they get an A+ in social media marketing.

 


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Why DIY videos are poised to take the marketing world by storm

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

I’ll be the first to admit that I prefer text over video for most things.  I can quickly scan text to see if I am interested.  Even if presented with a video, I prefer to skim the transcript before investing ten minutes – or even one minute – watching a video.

But the reality is that there are just as many people – perhaps even more – who find reading to be more work than watching a video.

And study after study shows that conversions rise with media variety.  So text is good.  Text and images are better.  Text, images and video are better still.

But video is costly and time-consuming to produce. Or is it?

DIY video to the rescue

The old-fashioned way of doing video was to hire a videographer – essentially film a movie, with all the multiple cameras and personnel and scripting and staging that is involved.  But in recent years, people have been producing their own videos online.

Still, these videos generally take time to produce, so automated solutions are becoming more and more common.  In fact, three new DIY video services have  been announced so far in 2013.  The most advanced of these by far is Tawki, which just launched its crowdfunding campaign on IndieGogo: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/new-fun-social-video-channel

Tawki: One Click, Animate

Fair disclosure: I am a partner in the Tawki project, and very excited to be pushing technology in two unique ways.

The first way that Tawki is pushing the envelope is one that relates directly to the focus of this article.  Namely, that by making DIY video creation even simpler and faster and less work, it will become an increasingly integral part of marketing campaigns even at the low end of the marketing spectrum.

Consider the renovations contractor at the end of a job (or picture any other small business you know ).  He goes to Tawki and uploads a series of snapshots he took during the job, adds a couple keywords and hits “Mix!”  Instantly, the Tawki mixer algorithm goes to work.  By the time he returns from the washroom, he has a complete professional video with transitions and appropriate music on his desktop.

He can add his website URL, company name, phone number – whatever he wishes – and with a click of a button share it on social media accounts or upload to his website.

Or, to really stand out from the crowd, one more click can add animation – but that’s another exciting story for another blog post.  ;-)

DIY video for bloggers

Adding video to blogs - quoteBloggers, pay attention.  You know how much more effective your posts are with images, right?  And finding good images you can legally use is a time-consuming pain right?  So video surely must take longer, right?

Wrong.

Let’s say you run a renovations blog, just to keep to the same theme as earlier.  You go to Tawki with no photos in hand, no video clips, nothing but keywords.  You punch in those keywords: granite, kitchen counters, sink, faucet,… then one click and when you return from the washroom, you have a complete professional video with transitions and appropriate music on your desktop.

Adding video to your blog, your online store, your marketing emails, your social media campaigns has just become quicker and easier than adding images.  That is a watershed that will vastly change the nature of marketing over the next couple years.

Tawki is not the only player that will make this happen.  Several others are making it pretty easy, but none of them have quite as simple a one-click environment as Tawki.  We know that if we want to jump into a hot niche like DIY videos, we had better offer something that leaves the others in the dust.

I invite you to join Tawki on IndieGogo and help us make digital history. Yes, even a small donation helps in a big way!  Here are three of the easier-to-afford perks we are offering.  Just click on any one to join this campaign.

 


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“There can be only one” Highlander and SEO

Friday, April 5th, 2013

I’ve written about how content marketing is cooperative. I’ve written about blogger collaboration and why it’s important to partner with fellow web marketers.

But there is one part of web marketing that is pure bloodsport: SEO. Ranking is search engines is a cut-throat fight to the death. So draw your sword and prepare for battle.

It’s just like the 1986 classic movie, Highlander. Just like immortal swordsmen, walking the earth, we all meet at the Gathering of the search results page. Hundreds of millions of times each day, Google is showing top 10 lists. And there’s only one spot at the top of Google for a given phrase. There can be only one…

Ranking high matters. A lot…

There’s more to life than marketing and more to marketing than search, but ranking high makes a big difference. just ask anyone who has ranked low and climbed or ranked high and fallen.

The top ranked site gets a lot more traffic than number two, and number two gets a lot more than number three. The correlation between rank and clicks is logarithmic. In other words, high ranking pages get exponentially more traffic than lower ranking pages.

Yes, before you decapitate me in the comments, I’ll agree that there are many other factors in clickthrough rates on search results pages, such as branding, relevance, rich snippets and Google Authorship. But generally speaking, higher rank means more clicks.

Source: Optify

Here are some tips that Ramirez might have taught Conner McCleod had they been search marketers:

  • Pick your battles. Don’t rush out and pick a fight with the Kurgen right away. Work your way up through smaller battles and less competitive keyphrases. It would be wonderful to rank for that high volume phrase, but the competition would skewer you.
  • Don’t get too attached. She might be pretty, but you shouldn’t get too hooked on one phrase, one social network, one tracking tool, one writer, one partner site. Someday you’ll have to say goodbye.
  • Never give up. Even if you’re not immortal, you need to be patient. Ranking high for a good phrase can be the work of years. But keep fighting. Trust, with search engines and humans, takes time to build.

Finally, here’s a top-rank tip that everyone can use:

Make sure you rank #1 for something…
Even if it’s a low-volume keyphrase that doesn’t drive much traffic, even if it’s a four-word phrase that people rarely search for, it’s good to rank first for something. It builds credibility off-line when you tell people you rank first in Google for “samurai sword identification expert.”

This is about thought leadership and personal branding. To make it work, focus efforts on one page with a highly relevant (but low search volume) phrase. Pay close attention to keyword researchand on-page SEO. If the phrase isn’t competitive, you’ll soon see yourself at the top of search results. If you add the two links that make Google Authorship possible, you’ll see your face right there in search results.

Now, when you talk about your business, use the phrase, smile and suggest that the listener search for it.

Ramirez: Patience, Highlander. You have done well. But it’ll take time. You are generations being born and dying. You are at one with all living things. Each man’s thoughts and dreams are yours to know. You have power beyond imagination. Use it well, my friend.

See you at the Gathering…

This post is the third in series of movie-themed web marketing posts. Check out Die Hard SEO and Coffee is for Bloggers.


 

Guest blogger Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. He’s also the author of Content Chemistry, An Illustrated Guide to Content Marketing You can find Andy on and Twitter.

 


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Free Blog Planner to make blogging easier

Monday, February 11th, 2013

This is a guest post by Sicorra of Tackling Our Debt.

It is has been 2 months since I created this Blog Planner on Excel and it has made a huge difference to the way I do things when it comes to working on Tackling Our Debt.

I created this blog planner on the spur of the moment. I was tired of having post-it notes all over my desk to remind me about things, as well as other notes randomly thrown into a spreadsheet.

Prior to using the Blog Planner I would stumble through each day doing what I thought I needed to do but never really having a specific plan of what needed to be done to achieve my ultimate goals.

Daily Checklist

Now the first thing I do after logging on to my laptop is open my copy of the Blog Planner and head straight to the Daily Checklist page.

Each week of the year is setup so that I can see the exact tasks that need to be done on a day by day basis. The task list reminds me to do everything I need to do when publishing a new blog post.

Below that is a section of reminders for blog hopping, social media and dealing with emails.

There may be days in the week that I don’t publish a new post but I still follow the task list to do all of the other things necessary to network with others and to market my blog.

Weekly-To-Do-List

Once all of the tasks on the daily checklist are done it is easy to move on and see what else is scheduled to be done that day. The weekly-to-do-list makes this part quite easy. If it’s on the list for that particular day, then it needs to get done. If it isn’t, then I don’t even worry about it.

Now that doesn’t mean that everything always goes as planned and that every single task gets done on time, but now at least I have a clear indication of what did and didn’t get done each day.

For the tasks that didn’t get done I can easily use the weekly calendar to quickly find another free day to reschedule those tasks on.

But the bigger advantage is the sense of accomplishment you feel when you are able to check off all of the tasks that did in fact get done each day and each week.

That is a big part of what motivates me to keep going. The second part of what keeps me motivated to keep going is the amazing results. Sometimes they are instant and sometimes they appear months down the road. But they are always very important.

Editorial Calendar

I know many people use a hand written Editorial Calendar or one that they find in WordPress.

My blog isn’t on WordPress so I didn’t have that.

So for most of last year I was just writing blog posts and publishing them with no specific plan. I still managed to get posts uploaded for up to 2 sometimes 3 weeks in advance, which was nice, but there was no plan around any of them.

Now, using the Editorial Calendar, I can add in topics of posts, specific titles, giveaways, sponsored posts, and so on, weeks and months in advance. And if something changes at the last minute I can easily re-arrange my schedule to fit the changes in nicely.

Another advantage of using the Editorial Calendar is that if you decide to write a series of posts on a specific topic you can easily setup your schedule for that and fit in your other posts accordingly.

You can create blog posts based on specific themes. This is best done if you setup your schedule for several months in advance. For example, you can use it to create a weekly or monthly theme, such as small business week, or work from home week. And then all of the posts that you write on that topic can be published and post-dated for that week or month.

Importance of SEO

If you are in this for the long haul and enjoy watching your traffic stats rise then you need to begin paying attention to SEO as you work on your blog. Why? Because of the residual benefits.

You see many people will visit your blog and read the most current post and typically leave without looking at what else you have written.

But you don’t want that to always be the case.

You want the blog posts that you write today to be found online tomorrow, next week and for many years to come, should you continue to blog that long.

You want the search engines to index your blog posts and you want your blog posts to show up when someone searches for something that you have written about.

This is often referred to as “organic traffic”, and when you look at your Google Analytics under traffic sources you should see a line with that says “google / organic”.

Organic traffic is the best traffic you can receive!

It happens because your blog posts were found by someone that was specifically looking for a topic that you wrote about. And chances are very good that once they click on your link, in amongst all of the other links listed, they will have a strong interest in reading your work.

How Does SEO Fit In With The Blog Planner?

As you begin jotting down your thoughts for a new post or series of posts in the Editorial Calendar you want to make sure that each post is based around a specific keyword phrase.

Once your post is written the next step is to come up with an attention grabbing title that includes your keywords.

Your title shouldn’t include more than 10 words and it should give people a reason to click on it.

Instead of your title just meaning something to you, it needs to mean something to everyone else.

For example, “Save Money”, is far too generic, as is “Blogger Roundup”.

“25 Incredible Ways to Immediately Reduce Your Living Expenses”, will attract more readers.

As well, by focusing on the keyword phrase “reduce your living expenses” in your blog post you stand a much better chance of showing up in Google when someone does a search on that phrase. You may have an SEO plug-in installed that you can use as you publish new posts, but do not rely on that 100%. Take some time to do a few extra steps as part of your SEO strategy for every blog post you publish.

Now we all know that there is more to SEO then a good title and a specific keyword phrase, but focusing on those two items is a very good start.

Download the Blog Planner

If you love blogging and feel that you could be more organized then you already are, please feel free to click on Blog Planner and download a copy of my digital based Blog Planner and get it setup to meet your needs. You will find that it also includes separate pages for you to keep track of your blog stats, conferences, renewal dates, a contact list, blog expenses, advertisers, interviews, special projects and giveaways.

Sicorra is a freelance writer that is figuring out how to tackle debt as she blogs about topics such as Personal Finance, Health, Travel, Work From Home, Food & Drink, and more. You can also find her at her personal blog Tackling Our Debt.

 

 

 


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REVIEW: Comparing MORE Social-sharing Co-op Services

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

A few weeks ago, I reviewed three social sharing websites, all three of which revolved around building more tweets for your content.

Today, I am reviewing a few more.  All of these have value, but it greatly depends on what you plan to promote.

Triberr

Social Buzz Club

You Like Hits

ReTweet It

 

I had not reviewed Triberr earlier, because it lacks flexibility.  You cannot post any link or any tweet for sharing.  You can submit up to three blog feeds.  That’s it.  If you guest post or if you put something on YouTube or on Tumbr, there is no way to ask people to share it.  And if you don’t really want one of your posts shared (suppose it is just administrative), there is no way to hold it back.

I have changed my mind; these limitations do not mean that it should not be reviewed, especially since so many people use it.

The best aspect of Triberr is that it functions automatically, feeding your blog posts to your tribe members.  If all you want to promote are your own blog posts, then this is an easy addition to your arsenal.  But keep in mind that you still have to visit now and then to share your tribemates’ posts.

Tribemates?  Yes, Triberr is divided into tribes of ten.  So the only items you will see for review are the other nine people’s posts.  You can be in multiple tribes, and therefore see more than nine posts, but still you are limited in content to the members of those tribes.

Your posts and theirs will show up in a stream something like this:

I do participate, but I have found that I share much more than my content is shared.  There is no really tally of credits, as there are at the three services I reviewed earlier.

As for the quality of the content and the quality of the accounts that would share your content, that is totally determined by who is in your tribe.  There are a few trigger words that will remove your posts from being retweeted through Triberr – but those posts will still show up, so tribemates can still view them and RT directly from the page.

Although every bit as Twitter-centric as the three services I reviewed earlier, Triberr also includes FaceBook, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn and Google Plus.

Social Buzz Club is similar in quality to Viral Content Buzz (reviewed earlier); you have to get approved to participate.  So the content tends to be high quality and the sharers tend to share from high quality accounts.  This is not the place to post eCommerce links and marketing offers.

The tabulation of points is a little strange.  You get a point every time you share someone else’s post, and you spend a point every time you post a link to be shared – whether that link gets shared 100 times or never.  Like with Triberr, I find myself sharing a lot more than getting shared.

There is a FaceBook support group, which is a very helpful and convenient way to have an instant social-sharing mastermind  group.

Social Buzz Club covers Twitter, FaceBook shares, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon.  Twitter-centric to some degree, but perhaps less so than those previously mentioned.

What I would like to see is a much easier way to see who is sharing my content, what is being shared and where it is being shared.  I find I have to dig to find this information and it is not all totally clear.  It would be even better if the credit system compared shares to shares, rather than shares to posts.

Overall, I do not find I get a lot of buzz from Social Buzz Club, although the quality is good.

You Like Hits is different than the other services reviewed today and a few weeks ago primarily in the plethora of sharing options.  This service is much less Twitter-based than the others, although the Twitter options are more varied: tweets, favourites, retweets and follows.

Unlike most of the others, FaceBook is missing.  But Google Plus and StumbleUpon are both included – not for sharing or liking, but for following.

The quality varies, with some highly-informative posts and some highly spammy posts. Where You Like Hits really excels, regardless of quality, is for visual and audio content.  It offers YouTube views, likes and subscribers.  It offers Pinterest likes, pins, repins and followers.  And it offers followers for Instagram, ReverbNation and SoundCloud.

Yes, if you have music to promote or eCommerce products with pics or with related videos, this platform gives you plenty of promotion options.

One really cool thing about You Like Hits is that they give you ten free points just for showing up each day.  Every 24-hour period you can claim 10 points with two clicks.  It is their incentive for you not to slack off.

If nothing else, this can easily build your Twitter follower base.  Although not the most targeted followers, they are for the most part at least real (unlike those buy-100-followers services) and tend to be useful if your target audience is composed of either marketers, the general populace or people interested in music.

Some of the code on the site is buggy.  When I “click here to load more”, it never does.  And very often when you click on an item to view, you discover that it has run out of points.

I do like the running chart of my shares, so I can see exactly what has been shared, where, by whom.

By appearances, Retweet.It is the smallest of the services I have reviewed so far.  That is to say, it appears to have the fewest users and the fewest options for content to tweet.

It is most similar to EasyRetweet in three ways:

  • It focuses solely on Twitter.  You cannot earn FaceBook, StumbleUpon or Google Plus support through Retweet.It.
  • You earn only half the points that you spend.  So if you want your content to be shared 10 times, you have to share 20 pieces of content in order to earn enough credits.  Why do these two services make you work doubly hard to share your content?  I assume that it is to make credits scarce and force users to purchase credits.
  • The ratio of spam to quality content is low.  In fact, the lowest of any of the services I have so far reviewed, even lower than EasyRetweet.  Perhaps this is because so much of it is purchased.  More often than not, I cannot find any new content good enough to tweet.

It seems to me that there is a vicious circle going on here…

  1. Credits are kept scarce.
  2. People are forced to buy credits.
  3. Purchased credits tend to be for spammy tweets.
  4. Therefore, there is very little worthwhile content to share.
  5. With little to share, it’s hard to earn credits.
  6. Credits become even scarcer.  The downward spiral continues.

But there is another way in which Retweet.It is similar to EasyRetweet.  If you want tweets for an eCommerce page or a landing page, these are the places to go.  Nobody will call you out for spamming or for low quality.  Sales pages are not allowed on JustRetweet or on ViralContentBuzz, and you cannot get them on Triberr.  So there is a place for Retweet.It in the Internet marketing ecosystem.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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What marketing experience means

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Just a quick commentary today.  I was approached not long ago by a potential client who wanted to promote his website in a very specific niche in Canadian forums and on Canadian blogs.  He wanted to outsource blog comments and forum posting, and he was very specific about Canadian blogs and Canadian forums in his niche, because these were the people he wanted to reach out to.

So far, so good.

But then there was a hiccup.  He wanted us to hit the ground running.  He expected us to already know which Canadian blogs and forums were in his niche.  We know SEO, we know social media, we know online networking; that does not mean we know his territory.

“I’m looking for someone with experience
and I’m not going to pay to someone to start study this issue.”

I probably wasted more than an hour back and forth with this lead before we got to this point where he wanted us to research his field for him for free.  Maybe he found some other sucker to do it.  Or maybe he is sulking somewhere, disappointed that he can’t find an “experienced” marketer.

Experience does not mean you know everything.  It does, however, mean that you have a pretty good idea where to look and how to evaluate what you find.  And for that, I am sorry, you do have to pay.

 


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Case Study: A/B Testing on Sim Only

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Every business has a chance to sweep their customers off of their feet…they just need the right broom.

Many online companies have done one too many strategies to sell over the Internet. Affiliate marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Ad placements, and social media usage are all tossed in the basket. But what most of them fail to realize is that eventually, these ploys get old. Such tactics may only be effective during the early phases, but what happens after the consumers have gotten used to seeing the website?

This is the reason why many businesses falter after a few months. Webmasters may exert some effort to update the contents regularly, but these are just not enough to keep the buyers (and profits) coming.

Remember that customer preferences are dynamic. As such, each move should be latched on what the majority clamours. It may sound difficult given the vastness of the Internet market, but this is why methods such as A/B testing exist.

Having people who doubt the efficiency of split testing is inevitable. But companies who have tried running the procedure emerged victorious. The best case in point is that of Sim Only’s A/B Testing.

About Sim Only

Sim Only is the company behind SIM ONLY. They run an e-commerce site to sell mobile phones from colossal companies like Blackberry and Apple Macintosh. Apart from their homepage, therefore, the company also sets its eye on the traffic of its external partnering domains.

Before the split test was conducted, Sim Only’s homepage was garnering an average of 18,000 hits per month. The click out rates, on the other hand, was at 54,000 monthly.

The goal of the company is then to see which type of design can motivate the consumers into checking the external websites. It then partnered with Maxymiser – an infamous company known for multivariate testing – to carry out the process of testing the homepage through a split test that transpired for 6 weeks.

The Plan: How A/B Testing is Conducted

As mentioned, Sim Only aimed to observe how the differences in their main page’s design can lure visitors into clicking the icons for the links.

Vertical vs. Horizontal Layout

The first couple of versions were set to have different presentations of products. One of them bore a vertical layout of the products on the right hand side of the page. The icons were arranged according to popularity, with the best seller situated at the top.

The second version was tailored to have a horizontal design, with the icons running across the page. The products were still arranged according to popularity from left to right.

Both designs came with a check box that allows users to select more than one item at the same time.

It is a must to remember that the webpage can be tested one component at a time. Sim Only managed to conduct more test for the icons, but the differences between the vertical and horizontal produced more significant results.

The Findings

This table shows how the 1,596 number of generations increased to 1,722 with the vertical layout. As a result, the conversion rates (or the ratio of visits to purchases made) rose from 13.35% to 15.97%. More than 50 sales was made with the vertical presentation of products (from 213 of the default to 275 of the vertical layout).

The first variant also touts the lowest conversion rate error, highest uplift, and most ideal confidence error. This can be accounted to the 20% increase in the click out rates of Sim Only’s homepage.

What does this mean, exactly?

Adopting a vertical presentation of the products appears to have greater impact on the audiences compared to the horizontal layout. It potentially motivates more customers to buy a phone of SIM Card, thereby contributing to the volume of sales made by the company online. It’s understandable that it’s not a concept not everyone will grasp, but Maxymiser have a nice A/B testing guide.

Some might think that the results were acquired from pure chance, but the six-week span of the experiment makes it fool-proof and concretely conclusive. Sim Only explained that they cannot go beyond this time allotted because they can lost a huge pool of potential clients when from flashing the horizontal design that does not work as effectively.

 

Ruben Corbo is a freelance writer and writes for a number of online marketing websites including those that help online businesses improve A/B testing techniques to increase sales conversions. When Ruben is not writing, he’s producing or composing music for short films or other visual arts.

 


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