David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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

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REVIEW: Comparing MORE Social-sharing Co-op Services

Feb 07, 2013 - filed under marketing, Twitter 4 Comments
 

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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Does Google think it’s God?

Dec 13, 2012 - filed under Google, SEO 12 Comments
 

Something occurred to me as I sat in church the other day.  For those readers who worship in synagogues or mosques or some other temple, I suspect you will relate to this just as well.

I was watching people enter and file into their pews.  I was noticing how well they were dressed.  Most people dress up to go to church.

They will tend to wear better clothes than for a day around the house or even to go shopping.

They will make sure their hair is just right, almost as if preparing for a date.

They tend to shave just before the service.

Looks are important.  Outward appearance is important.  This might be to honor God, but of course it is not for God’s sake that we do this.  We do this for each other and for ourselves.  People dress well for people.

When God looks at us, it is not through ocular vision.  If God notes our color coordination, it is not on that basis that we are judged. (at least, I hope not, or I am in deep, deep trouble!).

If God notes our hair to be clean or greasy, it is not on that basis that we are judged.

If God notes that we have shaved or failed to do so, it is not on that basis that we are judged.

Nice people can look scruffy.  Evil villains can look sharp.  God looks past the external looks. He ignores the hair, the clothes, the cologne.  He sees what we are really made of.

What does this have to do with Google?

What does all this have to do with Google?  Well, many people do grumble that Google has a God complex, that it is so powerful that one wave of its hand can smote a business.  And to a great degree, that is true.

Is Google God?

But sitting in church, it occurred to me that Google plays God in another way, too.  Google looks at your website on the Internet that same way as God looks at you in church (or anywhere else, for that matter).

Google might note that your website has a flash presentation, but no matter how fancy it is, it is not on that basis that your website is judged.

Google might note that your website has several images, but no matter how elaborate they are, it is not on that basis that your website is judged.

Great websites can look boring, even amateurish.  Trashy splogs can be dressed up fancy.  Google looks past the visual. Google ignores images and layout for the most part.  Google sees what our websites are really made of – the code, the content, the information.

The Google Sermon

You don’t need me to tell you that you should be a good person – patient, generous, forgiving, nice to other people, to animals and to the planet.  I don’t need to repeat the Sermon on the Mount

It is fine to dress up nicely.  Nothing wrong with that, so long as we make sure our inside is nice, that what really counts is attended to.

It is equally fine to dress up our websites nicely.  Pay attention to white space, to fonts, to images, to layout.  Make the site look pretty, professional, inviting.

Nothing wrong with that, so long as we make sure what is behind the external image is nice.  That the code is clean.  That the structure makes sense to Google and other search engines.  That the information is all there, easy to find, easy to understand.  That there is plenty of content, on-topic, not playing with hidden text or keyword stuffing or any of those unforgivable sins of SEO.

Of course, Google is not God.  But clearly Google is trying to emulate God.  So make sure that your website is emulating the faithful worshipper.

Now let us take a moment to pray for those websites that have fallen from grace…

 


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What marketing experience means

Dec 05, 2012 - filed under marketing 1 Comment
 

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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REVIEW: Comparing Social-sharing Co-op Services

Nov 28, 2012 - filed under bookmarking, social media 9 Comments
 

I have been using three popular social sharing co-op services for a while now.  These help spread your content across social networks like Twitter and FaceBook.

The three services are quite similar in some ways and different in other ways.  If you are like me, you will want to use all three.  But if you are too busy for that, this review will help you decide which to use.

The three websites we are reviewing are…

How these social sharing co-ops are similar

I call these three websites “co-op” because of the fundamental basis on which they all function: you share other member links, you earn credits…which are spent when somebody shares your links and earns your credits back.  The more you share of others, the more others will share of yours.  And the corollary…the more you want your links shared, the more you need to share of others.

The other major theme in common between these websites is that you are in charge.  You get to choose what to share on your social media account.  Nobody tells you what to share.  Nobody pressures you into sharing anything in particular.  No selections are automated. You decide what is appropriate and of interest for your followers.

When it comes to social media accounts, what the three services have in common is Twitter.  All three of them are built on the basis that people share each others’ content via Twitter.  But that is where the similarity ends.

How these social sharing co-ops differ

Easy Retweet lets you tweet and sign up new Twitter followers.

Viral Content Buzz and Just Retweet also let you share by FaceBook – but with a difference.  Viral Buzz lets you “share” on FaceBook, in your timeline.  Just Retweet lets you “like” on FaceBook.

Viral Buzz also lets you share on Pinterest – the only service that does.

Just Retweet lets you upvote on Google Plus – the only service that does.

The three services offer different levels of “quality”.  I use the word judiciously, since you might not necessarily want “quality”.  I will explain later.  First, let’s look at what each service officially says about quality, and then I will tell you what really happens at each service.

Here is what Easy Retweet says about “Tweet Contents”:

Any tweets containing pornography (in any form), illegal materials, unauthorised materials, materials in violation of any law will be removed as soon as noticed.

Here is what Just Retweet says in its “Terms and Conditions”:

JustRetweet reserves the right to remove any content posting (text, images, audio, video) for any reason, without notice at any time. Specifically, any posted content that: (1) is pornographic or offensive in nature (including nudity, violence, sexual acts, or sexually provocative images.); (2) infringes upon copyrights as specified by the content creator; (3) is illegal or violates any laws; (4) harasses (also known as “CyberBullying”) any person or any group of people. Such content posts will immediately be deleted and the IP address of the user reported to authorities, if necessary. Violating these terms will result in the irrevocable termination of your ability to use the JustRetweet service.

But on the Just Retweetrules” page, in red text that really stands out…

Here is what Viral Content Buzz Quality Guidelines have to say:

What will NOT be approved to be shared here:

  • Weak-in-content articles (that have no unique style or visual appeal);
  • Ad-stuffed and / or made-for-links articles.
  • Articles directly promoting affiliate products (such as affiliate product review posts)
  • Any sales page directly promoting a product or service
  • Content that is overly promotional in nature
  • Press releases
  • A home page of a business website or blog
  • Anything that the VCB staff in their discretion deems to not be “quality”

What will be highly appreciated here:

  • Unique and original articles that catch an eye and engage;
  • Trending and popular topics with your personal perspective (apps, tools, DIY, infographics, etc).
  • Articles or content that is either extremely useful, interesting or entertaining.

Viral content is defined as “becoming very popular by circulating quickly from person to person, especially through the Internet“, so before adding a project, please give it a thought: “can it go viral”?

Our platform is NOT designed to help everyone get free social media votes. It’s aimed at generating buzz around GREAT content.

You can probably tell just by the length of the rules how serious each service is about ensuring quality and blocking spamminess.  In fact, here is what I have found:

Easy Retweet is full of spammy share requests.  Many things there I would not retweet because they are ads for things like BlogEngage or Fiverr gigs or ecommerce pages.  But there is also some good stuff, and I usually can find plenty to share.

Just Retweet is mostly real content, but there are some sales pages and other business pages that get snuck in.

Viral Content Buzz has been spam-free so far, true to their very detailed quality guidelines…except for Pinterest shares.  As you may know, Pinterest is an image-sharing platform.  But many Pinterest-sharing requests on Viral Content Buzz are for really, really poor images that are totally unworthy of sharing.  Obviously, many people just don’t “get it”. Maybe there needs to be some pop-up “image quality reminder” or something.

To spam or not to spam?

At first blush, it is pretty obvious where people would want to go: to the high-quality, no-spam service.  Especially bloggers who generally share very high quality content to begin with. And there are some benefits, like not having to wade through do as much triage.

But you probably will still want to do some triage.  Not every blog post or Infographic posted is one you will want to retweet to your followers.

And what happens if you want to promote a sales page.  Sure, it’s spammy – but it’s the sales pages that pay the bills.  They need to be promoted, too.  So there is also value in participating in a service where spammy pages aren’t considered spam.  And that’s the point of Easy Retweet – to cater to the Warrior Forum crowd.

On a final note, what is missing is StumbleUpon.  None of the services offer StumbleUpon sharing or thumbs up as an option.  Yet.

 
 


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Stupid link-building tactic #17 – filling in contact forms?

Nov 19, 2012 - filed under linking 3 Comments
 

You have surely heard of “Stupid Pet Tricks”. Well, allow me to present “Stupid SEO Tricks”.

Here is someone trying to build links (directory links, perhaps?) by submitting their site to…the contact form on our SEO services page!

fullname: Manoj Damkondwar
email: emailsuppressed @yahoo.in
phone: 000-000-0000
url: http://www. urlsuppressed.com
keyword1: Remanufactured engine
keyword2: Rebuilt Engine
keyword3: used Engines
keyword4: Car Engines
keyword5: Truck Engine
service: other
language: english
message: Locate rebuilt & used automobile motors and engines for all cars, trucks, and marine applications including gas, diesel, electrical engines & high performance motors.

And here is someone trying to build links (comment spam links, perhaps?) by submitting a cut-and-paste comment to…the contact form on our blog writer for hire page!

fullname: Travesti
email: emailsuppressed @gmail.com
phone: 000-000-0000
url: http://www. urlsuppressed.com
service: blog
length: 10
message: Wow! this is the blog I like most. The templates and the designs really captivates me. Thanks for sharing this!

TIP FOR THE BRAIN-DAMAGED: If you plan to create a bunch of spammy links, at least take the time to make sure that the form you are filling is one that will create a spammy link. Otherwise you are wasting your time, because Google and Bing will never find the spammy link that never gets created.

On the other hand, maybe this is the best way to create spammy links – because Google and Bing will never find them.


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How Far Can You Trust the Internet?

Oct 29, 2012 - filed under domain, social media 4 Comments
 

If something is critical, make sure you own the real estate. This is a good principle to keep in mind when building a reputation, a business or whatever is important to you on the Internet.

Yes, there are popular platforms, such as YouTube and FaceBook, where you might want to be active. But these sites do not belong to you.  You never know when they might shut down (stranger things have happened), change their focus, fall from grace, or decide that you are a spammer or even some minor infraction in the terms of service that you were not even aware of (with no recourse for you to protest).

I was reminded of the importance of owning your own space, when Larry Ludwig had his Bogleheads account terminated.  Basically, after 250 posts, 20 of which he referenced articles he had written that were relevant to the discussion, his account was terminated.  From model community member to pariah in zero easy steps.  All that work – or most of it – down the drain.

Readers with a bit of memory will recall how my account at BlogEngage was terminated, when I was the third top member listed there and had just a few weeks earlier been praised by the owner for  how I conducted myself.  From model community member to pariah in zero easy steps.   I am still guessing that he noticed my free account (grandfathered as an early member) was generating much more success than were the spammer accounts he was selling automated submissions to.  So on a whim, I lost all the work I had put into my account and the site as a whole.

In between these two minor catastrophic events, a new social site called Thruzt came along and was steamrolling ahead to success in its second or third month.  I tried to login to my Thruzt account, when all of a sudden – “Poof!”  Unless you have just wished for a loaded buffet table, “Poof!” is not a sound effect most webmasters like to hear.  Thruzt was hosted on the Cloud (or is it “in” the Cloud?).  And the Cloud lost it.  The entire site.  Yes, from social site of the hour to blank page of the hour in zero easy steps.

These are each individual cases, and they are not specifically instructive to any of our individual activities.  But they do provide a combined perspective of the importance of owning space that cannot be summarily deleted.

  • Your own domain, not a freebie blog hosting or website service.
  • Cloud, OK, but backups, backups, backups.
  • Your own hosting service.
  • Offline backups of all information.
  • Offsite backups.
  • Own your own social site or forum if you want to be certain that nobody will give you the boot.  Nobody can boot me from Zoomit Canada, for instance.

And now for the latest news, I tried to login to my Diigo account last week, but it was gone – but not for reasons similar to those above. In fact, the whole site was gone, but not because the site was terminated (as was the case with Mixx, Propeller and so many other social sharing sites).  I just learned that Diigo’s domain was stolen. That is much like owning a car or cottage, vulnerable to thieves.  But it does give us reason to ponder how much trust we should place in the Internet.

You be the judge of what measures you need to take, but whatever measures, take control.  You cannot control everything, and if you want to reach large audiences, you need to be all over other people’s property.  But make sure that what really counts is on your own real estate – or at least a copy.

Have a story of your own? Feel free to share it in the comments below.

* Featured in the Working At Home Blog Carnival.

 


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Google is not fair (and is not meant to be)

Oct 09, 2012 - filed under algorithms, Google, rankings 9 Comments
 

I was asked the following question recently about Google: “I still don’t understand how other sites post articles that are not original yet they do not get penalized?”

I am sure you have been asked this question many times.  Maybe you have asked it yourself many times.  I have certainly heard it posed in many different ways, why one site gets Panda slapped or Penguin slapped and not another.  As an SEO consultant myself, I have been amazed at how one site with a fairly good link profile, but with some “unnatural” links can get Google’s dreaded “unnatural links letter“, while another site with a much more questionable link profile doesn’t.

But sometimes you have to hear a question posed in many ways, many times before you get that Aha! moment when The Obvious Answer is revealed.  This was that moment.

The Obvious Answer

The Obvious Answer is actually a question: Why do some smokers live 100 years, while others are struck down by lung cancer at 43 or 47 or 54?

It’s just not fair.

Which bring us to the second part of The Obvious Answer: Life is not fair (as I keep telling my kids every time one of them screams out “It’s not fair!”)  And neither is Google.

Let’s review what Google’s ranking goal is, which I can assure you has nothing to do with fairness.  Google’s goal is to provide searchers with what will be most useful to them.  We use search engines to find what we want; Google does its best to deliver.  It does not always succeed (although it obviously does well enough, or we would all be using some other search engine).

My brother, the human search engine

I am reminded now of the purchasing habits of one of my brothers.  Once he takes an interest in buying something, he does endless research.  He is determined to find the best price.  He is determined to find the best features.  He is determined to find the most durable option.

But most of all, he is determined not to discover six days after buying something, that there is could have been an even slightly better option that he missed.

As a result, he often gets better deals than I do.  It’s not fair.

But even with all his research and delaying, he still might not get the very best option.  It’s not fair.

Which means that a vendor or manufacturer with something slightly better might still have missed a sale.  It’s not fair.

And that also means that a vendor or manufacturer got a sale he might not have gotten.  It’s not fair (but they are not complaining, right?).

And when Google ranks web pages, it’s not fair.  And it is not meant to be.  Google’s job, to once again restate the often overlooked or ignored obvious, is to provide searchers with what will be most useful to them.

What SEO is all about

So the job of SEO practitioners is…

Come on, what is the obvious answer?

You can do it.

To make sure our websites are the most useful to searchers.

Now I know that you will say that it is the designer’s and programmer’s jobs to make sure the website is most useful, functioning well, converting well, etc.  True enough.  But it is the SEO’s job to make sure that, for a given search term, the site actually delivers.  Obviously there is some overlap and cooperation required with the designer and the programmer on the technical front, but mostly the SEO needs to make sure the content is what searchers are looking for.

Relevant.

Important.

And, above all, useful.

And the SEO consultant has one additional job, besides making sure the content is most useful – and this is key – making sure the search engines know the content is the most useful.  It is about writing.  It is also about promoting. Yes, all the “content is king” and “quality over quantity” and “avoiding bad neighbourhoods” and “backlink strategies” can be distilled down to this very simple goal.

But what happens if Google doesn’t notice the right things?  What happens if Google does notice the wrong things?  What happens if somebody else is shouting louder?  What happens if someone else makes a more useful web page?  What if Google disagrees that your perfect page is best?

Like I said, it’s not fair.  It’s not supposed to be.  That is The Obvious Answer.

The Practical Answer

Of course, if you’ve been hit be a penalty, such as the “unnatural links letter” or just been demoted by a Penguin slap or hit by Google’s brand new EMD (exact match domain) artillery, and find yourself grumbling that it’s not fair, you will probably find “It’s not supposed to be.” a less than satisfying answer.

It is also a less than practical answer.

The practical answer is to avoid doing anything that the search engines might one day decide is spammy.  Yes, that is a whopper.

And quite impossible.

Once upon a time, you could not be penalized by who linked to you, only by who you linked to.  This made sense; it kept competitors from building piles of spammy links to your site – “negative SEO”.  But with Google’s Penguin and the “unnatural links letter”, times have changed.  Despite Google’s protests to the contrary, I cannot see how negative SEO can be stopped right now.

Not long ago, any publicity was good publicity.  If you could get a mention in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, that was amazing.  Still is.

But if you couldn’t get that kind of coverage, you could still spread your message through blog networks, article submissions, etc.  Much less targeted, much lower quality, much more of a shot in the dark.  But 100 percent legitimate.  Sometimes you market with a rifle, sometimes with a shotgun.  Fair enough?

But now if you market with a shotgun, Google will look at all those low quality repetitive links and down the sink goes your website.  No, it’s not fair.  Especially since it is retroactive, penalizing your site for doing in the past what used to make sense back then (and still would make sense if you don’t care about Google rankings).

So it is not always possible to predict what will get you in trouble, but it is pretty clear that quality over quantity is a good rule of thumb.  Stay away from anything mass-produced or mass-disseminated.  Avoid any get-rich-quick (get-links-quick) tactics.  Take the time to create original content – truly original content, not just rehashed repetition.

You still might get tripped up by suddenly changing algorithms.  Watch how Infographics get treated in a year or two. You still might find yourself at some point in the future grumbling “It’s not fair.”  But your odds of being on the winning side of the not-fairness will be much, much greater.

Additional advice? Hang on tight!

 

 


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Case Study: A/B Testing on Sim Only

Sep 18, 2012 - filed under marketing 2 Comments
 

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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How to Transition Successfully from In-House to Agency Work

Aug 16, 2012 - filed under clients 4 Comments
 

Companies as well as individuals are usually drawn to agency work because it is so specialized. Agencies are filled with people who have the same passion and the similar projects and problems, so collaboration is easier and you know that nothing will slip through the cracks. However, transitioning from in-house work to agency work can be difficult no matter how exciting.

There are a few dynamics that are different when you’re dealing with an agency:

  • You have to juggle multiple projects at once.
  • You have to learn to communicate with different clients.
  • Those who have assigned you a task will likely not be working in the same office. This makes questions and visions harder to get across.
  • Agency work is dependent upon the number of clients available. In other words, it can be a bit less stable and less predictable than in-house work.

Making this transition can be tough whether you’re the employee or the employer. If you are a business owner who is used to working with an in-house staff, outsourcing work to an agency will be a big change. Consider some of the ways that you can help make this transition smooth and successful:

Top 3 Ways to Help Smooth Your In-House to Agency Transition

1. Lay Out Your Day on Paper

It might sound elementary, but having a written out plan will help ensure that you’re prepared. It always helps to know what comes next in your day when trying to learn something knew. This often puts people at ease because they know that there will be no surprises and that they will not forgot anything. If you’re an employer, you should write out a plan for your agency so that they know exactly what you expect. An employee of the agency, on the other hand, might want to create a plan for the day for his/her own personal work (clients, projects, meetings, etc.).

2. Connect Via Social Media

One of the biggest changes that will occur is communication. Working in an agency generally means that you will not be steps away from those “in charge” of the project. In other words, you will not be sitting next to your clients or next to those who are working for you. This makes communication extremely important, so it’s best to connect on all levels. If something were to happen through email and you need to come into contact quickly, social media will be critical. It always puts both parties at ease when they know they can get ahold of that person when necessary.

3. Know Who Is In Charge

Working in an agency requires a lot of decision making. Because the client is not there to hold your hand like they would be if you were working in-house, it’s important to be independent and be able to make decisions. It also helps to know who is in charge in your agency should you have a question. From an employer’s perspective, it is important to realize that the agency will have a lot of clients. They will give you their full attention, but the trust needs to be there. It’s a big transition.

Most find that working for or with an agency is very different than in-house and end up switching back to the way they feel comfortable. However, it takes time to get used to this type of change, and going through some of the suggestions discussed above should help make the transition smooth.

Have you ever had to go from in-house to agency work? What helped you make the change quickly and efficiently? Let us know in the comments!

Guest Blogger: Amanda DiSilvestro is a graduate of Illinois State University. Although she graduated with an English Education degree, she found herself working as a full-time blogger at Highervisibility, nationally recognized as one of the top seo firms in the country. Connect with HigherVisibility on Twitter to learn more!

 


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The incredible Imploding Digg

Aug 01, 2012 - filed under Digg 5 Comments
 

Remember Mixx? It was bought out, and the new owners created Chime.in.  They did not use the coding. They did not use the URL. I suppose they had the mailing list. I hope they didn’t pay more than $19.97 for it.

Well, the new owners of Digg at least kept the domain. Digg was (OMG – I am already talking in the past tense!), you might recall, the grand-daddy of social sharing websites.

A search for “site:digg.com” in Google reveals “About 14,100,000 results”. That means 14 million pages are indexed, probably a lot more are out there. And all of them say the same thing:

“404″

Yes, Digg can now be found all on a single page. Gone is the community. Gone are categories. Gone are any hot or upcoming or friends or anything, except what can fit on a single page. In one fell swoop, Digg has imploded.  I guess this is what happens when a star goes super nova.

You might be able to recoup your user data by filling in a request at http://digg.com/archive, but to what end? What would you do with the data?

No problem. These days you will find me with a lot of other long-time Diggers “Thruzting” away at Thruzt.com. Feel free to join me there. And if you are Canadian, join me also on Zoomit.ca.


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