The Master Marketer BLOG

Facebook Marketing - Five Changes To Improve Your Connections

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Sun, Dec 16, 2012 @ 01:34 PM

When the hoodied one speaks, the Internet trembles...

Given its prominence in Internet marketing at the moment, it's hardly a surprise that whenever any changes get announced to Facebook. There's been a lot of talk lately about Facebook trying to push people towards buying ads... but the reality is there just isn't much data out there demonstrating this.

That doesn't mean it isn't happening, but there's no reason to panic yet.

In the meantime, there have been a lot of interesting changes to Facebook marketing in recently, and most of them have been pretty positive for advertisers. Let's take a quick look at some of the most important changes and how they alter your Facebook strategies.

Internet marketing with Facebook

Facebook Marketing Over The Year: Changes To Our Favorite Social Media Timesink

The Timeline: While it began testing at the end of 2011, the Timeline feature wasn't fully rolled out to everyone until Spring of 2012. After the usual round of complaints, everyone settled down and discovered it was actually pretty nifty.

Further, testing revealed that the Timeline did increase your customer engagement, but almost exclusively with visual content: pictures and video. So it may not have made it easier to get people talking on your Facebook page, but you're more likely to get your visual media shared. Look for interesting pics and film clips to share!

Protip: Make sure you're using the “Pinning” feature to keep your most important updates at the top of your timeline! You can do this for up to a week per item.

Milestones: This is another great Timeline-related feature for your Facebook marketing. You can now boast about important events in your company's history with a Milestone, which can also be linked to events, pictures, video, and other content. It's a great way to share your story with anyone interested enough to peruse your timeline, so add some “historical” information when you get a chance.

Larger Cover Photos: Properly branding your Facebook page to fit the rest of your look can be tricky, but the addition of much larger cover photos goes a long way towards helping. Being able to place an 851x315 banner at the top of your page is great for making your page stand out and clearly show who it belongs to.

Unpublished Posts: Do your visitors complain that too much of your content isn't relevant to them? This could be the solution. Unpublished posts are sent out to your Fans, but not included on your main timeline. It's a good way to target messages specifically at those who are most interested in your company, without annoying more casual visitors who might not care about your latest company golf tournament.

More Emphasis on Sponsored Content: This is the one that has everyone worried. Facebook would really like you to be paying them to put your content in front of your readers, and it's an open question right now how hard they're going to lean on people to do this.

In the meantime, if you've got some extra money to spend and really want to place an emphasis on your Facebook fans, this is still a time-tested way of getting your message in front of them. Just remember: if it's sponsored, you have to try twice as hard to get people interested because they know you're paying to put your ad in front of them.

So, that's what's new on the Facebook front. Tune in next time, and we'll take a look at changes on the horizon – specifically the “Feed view” that's in testing – and see how 2013 looks for Facebook marketing!

Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: Internet marketing, Social Media, Facebook

Is It Time For a Website Redesign?

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 @ 08:17 AM

You'd have to be pretty satisfied with the performance of your website not to occasionally look at it and wonder if it's time to redesign it. After all, everyone likes putting on a new look from time to time, it attracts attention, and it's often even fun.

However, website redesign is not something to be undertaken lightly. It's time-consuming, costly, and must be performed with an overarching strategy behind it. You need to have a clear reason for doing the redesign and specific goals for your new web design, to ensure it truly advances your business.

So...

Why Do You Want A New Website Design?

In my view, there is really only one answer to this question:

Because you want more leads and sales.

Website Redesign

There are a lot of possible reasons for a website redesign, and not all of them are good. Simply being tired of your current look isn't enough, if it's drawing in customers. (Don't you think Cadbury's marketing guys get tired of royal purple?)

Just because your competition redesigned their site also isn't a good enough reason to redesign. Hold back and see how they do instead.

Finally, if it's been less than two years since the last redesign, just don't. Companies that change their branding too often look indecisive, and they risk alienating, confusing, or just plain losing customers.

Basically, a website redesign should be a "last resort" measure, when you're looking at problems with your online conversions that simple changes to your marketing strategies won't fix. Whatever you come up with, you'll be stuck with for at least a couple years, so you've gotta make it count.

Preparing for a Website Redesign

Before even thinking about what your new website design might look like, you need a clear look at where your old site is at.

1. Get Analytical: Get an analytics tool - try Google Analytics if you need a free one - and track your numbers. See how your sales, Calls to Action and landing pages are performing, as well as "second tier" statistics like pageviews and bounce rates. Start thinking about new goals you want to hit.

2. Do a website audit: Here's the tedious part. You need a complete breakdown of everything on your site. CTAs, landing pages, blog entries, videos, portfolios, ebooks, all of it. You need to know everything you have, including their original URLs.

3. Track your inbound links: Your analytics software or your server records (or both) will have information on who has inbound links to your site. You need to know who's linking to you and what they're linking to. Begin thinking about which ones to court for exposure when your new site goes up.

4. Let's get ready to redirect: If you don't use them already, you or your server guy need to learn about 301 Redirects and how they can save you from losing a lot of inbound traffic due to URL changes.

5. Look for material to update: Even if you can't audit every blog, at least check everything you have behind a Call to Action to ensure it's up-to-date and relevant. Keep notes on which ones may need to be revised or redone.

6. Do a new keyword survey. Ahead of the redesign, use a keyword tool (Again, Google has a free one) to get a current perspective on your site's keyword performance and to discover new keywords.

At this point, you should have a good foundation upon which you'll build your new website design. Tune in next time when we start digging into the nitty-gritty of planning a site redesign!

Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: Internet marketing, Website Deign, lead generation

Create Content for the Three Initial Marketing Stages

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Fri, Oct 19, 2012 @ 11:39 AM

Hey, here's a riddle for you:

What is the single most important part of your business, which will always be beyond your control?

The answer? Your customers, of course.

It might seem obvious to say, but the main goal of marketing is to change your customers' behavior. You have to have them to stay in business, and you have to keep trying out new ways of guiding them to your door. Much like a fisherman trying out different lures, we'll never have a complete picture of what a customer's thought process looks like, but we've got a pretty good idea.

There's a popular “funnel” model of the sales process, from the point of view of the consumer, which is summed up with three basic steps:


Thre Stages of Marketing Funnel

Problem Awareness: The customer becomes aware of a need going unfulfilled and begins researching it.

Research and Evaluation: The customer starts looking for information on their problem and potential solutions.

Comparison of Alternative Prior to Purchase: The customer compares potential solutions and decides on one, preferably your product.

However, in this model, we're not consumers. We're selling something. In fact, good marketing means pitching your marketing content differently for people at each of those three stages. So, let's turn that funnel inside out and talk instead about how you should be marketing yourself to fit these stages.

Oh, and one important distinction: you may not be leading an individual customer step-by-step through these phases. Write a range of content so there's something to appeal to any customer who wanders along at any stage in the sales process.

Phase 1: Selling The Solution

One way or the other, we're in business to provide solutions to problems. However, any given problem a customer might have is likely to have multiple solutions. It might not even be a problem the customer is aware of until we bring it up. Either way, the first step towards getting their sale is convincing them they have a problem, and that a solution like yours is a good option.

To get the word out, try:

Blogs about problems on your website and how your class of products can help.

Short videos. (Think about how infomercials sell everyday problems, then be less blatant.)

eBooks, Checklists (“Are You (problem) Ready?”), Whitepapers, and other similar materials.

Social media updates mentioning the problem and asking about solutions.

Phase 2: Selling Your Product

Once the customer believes they have a problem and it's something you, or a company like yours, can do something about, it's time to start convincing them that your products are the best specific solution. This is the point to start bringing out the bigger guns:

Detailed product descriptions and spec sheets.

Free webinars or filmed discussions.

Slideshows with feature comparisons.

Product reviews.

Free samples or demos.

Phase 3: Selling Yourself

So, we're now looking at the remaining potential customers who both have a problem and believe products you carry are the solution. However, there's still one more thing that has to be sold: yourself. Chances are, even if you have a unique product or service, there are still parity problems out there. To seal the deal, you have to convince them that YOU are worth doing business with.

Try:

Free consultations.

Detailed case studies \ portfolios.

Customer testimonials.

Coupons or other promotions.

Leveraging social connections on Facebook and LinkedIn to improve your image.

Marketing in Three Easy Steps

That's it. If you can sell the problem, your solution, and yourself, you've made yourself a customer. If you ensure all your online content is always aiming towards at least one of these phases, you'll be catching more fish in no time.

Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: marketing, marketing planning, sales, Internet marketing, Content Strategy

SEO Backlink Strategies To Avoid

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 @ 07:51 AM

Everyone involved in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) craves inbound links, but unfortunately, they're hard to come by. The fact that they're one of the single biggest determinants of your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ranking has led people to come up with all manner of ways to create them.
These "inorganic" link building strategies - as opposed to "organic" links legitimately made by individuals who like your work - have always had a shaky relationship with Google. Google doesn't like people trying to "game" their results, and are generally looking for ways to discourage inorganic backlink building.
Today, then, we'll be looking at a few strategies you should NOT be using in your SEO to build backlinks. All of these are methods which have, at best, simply become useless and, at worst, can actively harm your search engine optimization activities.

Penguin Alert

Three SEO Backlink Strategies To Avoid
I. Paid Links
There are no ifs, ands, ors, or buts about this one: Do not use paid links. Ever since Google rolled out their Penguin quality-control system, websites using paid inbound links have been among their top targets, resulting in mass down-rankings for sites utilizing them.
This extends even to major websites who aren't exactly "paying" for links. In one high-profile example Google heavily penalized Overstock.com for swapping inbound links for discounts on their site. As soon as they ended the scheme, their rankings rebounded nearly overnight.
Paying for links is simply not worth it anymore, if it ever was, because the penalties if you get caught are just too high.
II. Article Spamming
We talked about utilizing article submission services in our previous article to build backlinks for your Search Engine Optimization, and it's true that these services can be used effectively to give your SEO a little boost.
There is a dark side to them, however: article spamming. This is what you get when people use products like Autospinners, which we've discussed previously, to take one article and mechanically reword it to create hundreds of variations. These articles, which are virtually identical but hard to spot with automated plagiarism scanners, are then submitted en masse to every possible outlet.
While Google continues to play coy when talking about their exact intentions, they continue to make clear that spamming is a major concern for them. It's hard to believe these tactics are not near the top of their hit list.
Autospinning may still "work" right at the moment, but I do not see that continuing for much longer, making any investment in it an extremely risky business.

No Spamming

III. Forum/Blog Spamming with Anchor Text
Here's one that's causing some people to adjust their strategies in the SEO industry as word gets around: anchor text on links that have an exact match to your primary keywords is now something to be careful with. This article says that only about 20% of your back links should be anchored to the exact keyword(s) you're shooting for. This is down from 40-50%, or so they say. Our own research indicates that the number is more like 75%, but keep in mind that at DeepSky we produce quality articles to house the back links. So it all depends on on your particular industry and how much you're willing to put into content creation. All this is a result of the proliferation of spamming techniques that fill up blogs and forum posts with identical links all hitting the same anchor text/keyword combinations.
If you are submitting identically anchored backlinks to your site from a lot of different sources at once, now is the time to examine your strategy. Unfortunately, as a side effect of this, matching links on your own site can, in some extreme cases, also hurt your rankings as well.
When posting comments to blogs to drum up viewers, make sure the comments are useful, and diversify your anchor text to avoid the appearance of spamming.
Finally, here is a good liveblog we came across summarizing a lengthy Q&A with a Google rep about their recent changes. Read it for more insight into what SEO strategies to avoid in the future, but be warned the video portion is a waste of time because it is a third party cut-up designed to be cutesy.
Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: Online marketing, Internet marketing, Search Engine Optimization, SEO

A Great Content Strategy Learning Experience

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Sat, Oct 13, 2012 @ 07:56 PM

Just a couple of days ago I returned from Portland's LavaCon and Content Strategy Workshops. It was a fantastic week of workshops and learning sessions put on by Jack Molisani and Scott Abel. For those of you who don't know the term yet "content strategy" is the current buzzword for optimizing your web presence for customers, members, and constituents. The discipline sprang up as a response to: 1) the avalanche of information that organizations were feeding into their websites and 2) the explosion of different software and hardware devices through which this information can, and is, being consumed.

Avalanche Of Information

An Avalanche of Information

If you own a small company and your website contains less than 100 pages, you're going to have less of a problem portraying consistent tone, terminology, and user experience than a site that contains 1,000 pages. Now think of the problems you'll face when your website gets to the level of 10,000 or even 100,000 pages and comes from a myriad of different departments! For your client's sake you'll need to think about keeping all that content relevant and findable. This quickly becomes a nightmare without rules of governance and a high level strategy that will help you keep things in order.

Creating a website means your are a content provider—aka a publisher. Quick quiz: who is the biggest publisher in the United States? The answer is NOT Random House, HarperCollins, or Simon and Schuster—it's the US government. Surprisingly, number two on this list goes to Boeing Corporation. The main reason Boeing, or any other company, creates content is to serve their clients—even if this content is for internal use. Making content relevant and easy to find is a must when dealing with large quantities of information.

An Explosion of Devices

As of this writing there are just over 4,000 different devices using the Android operating system alone. Are your customers wrong to think you should optimize user experience for their particular device? They don't think so. From Apple's iOS to Android, Kindle, RIM's Blackberry, Windows devices, and others if you want your audience to get your message the way you intended it to be you've got some work to do.

Enter COPE

COPE is an acronym for Create Once, Publish Everywhere. The technology behind COPE is standardizing around XML, Extensible Markup Language, which defines a set of rules for encoding documents that both humans and machines can read. It allows for a different set of instructions to be used when information is sent to specific devices such as desktop computers, tablets, or smart phones. DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) is perhaps the most popular XML data model for authoring and publishing.

Whew, got all that?

My brain is still swimming in the acronym soup I've just absorbed about how to execute a web presence across so many platforms, but the basics of business are unchanged. You can call it Internet marketing, content strategy, content marketing or anything else under the sun, but what you have to deliver is two things: an excellent product (or service), and a superior customer experience. To do this you need to know what's important to your client and how to leverage your products and services to further their goals.

Your content strategy will help you communicate how you can help people, all while using the medium of their choice. Your strategy should contain a content marketing piece to help you acquire customers, members, and constituents as well as retain them and help turn them into evangelists.

Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: Internet marketing, Content Strategy, Content Marketing

There's more to Social Media than Facebook, Twitter 5: Fair Warning

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Thu, Sep 20, 2012 @ 09:57 AM

So, as we wind down our series on social media, I feel like there's one more thing that needs to be addressed. There's a growing perception, especially among those who perhaps chafe under the rigorous output requirements of content marketing strategies, that social media marketing is simple and easy. If you listen to some folks, social media is the true future of online marketing.

Well, maybe it will be and maybe it won't, but one thing is certain: Social media is not the Field of Dreams, and if you build it, they will not necessarily come. Engaging in social media and making it successful is hard work, at least equivalent to other advertising methods, and anyone who tells you otherwise is, well, probably selling you something.

Social Media Caution Sign

The Challenges of Social Media

If you're looking to transition into social media, there are some very specific challenges involved in it that you need to be aware of. Most of these require time, dedication, and patience to overcome. Even if it may not cost much, it can still end up being quite costly in terms of time investments.

I. Huge networks of followers take a long time to build.

Unless you're a mega-brand like Coke or Nike, you're not going to get thousands of social followers overnight. They're only going to trickle in at first: a few a week, maybe a couple dozen a month if you're lucky. You can help encourage people to follow you by pushing your social updates on your website, but fundamentally, it takes awhile. You'll be looking at many months, if not years, until it truly starts paying off.

Until you hit that "critical mass" where your audience becomes large enough to start truly getting engaged and evangelizing on your behalf, your social activities could actually start feeling like a waste of time. Yet, that is the point when you have to rededicate yourself and keep working because social media marketing done halfway is basically useless.

II. The industry is changing at a ridiculously fast pace.

With social sites in general being the hot new thing in online trends, everyone wants to jump onboard, and those already onboard have to keep innovating to remain relevant. Facebook seems to release major new features every few weeks, as does Google and many of the others. In the meantime, dozens of new startups are appearing, giving it their all, and trying to make an impact.

To be effective with social media, you must always follow the latest news and trends. Effective Facebook strategies from only a year ago may be totally antiquated by now. You - or whoever manages your social sites - have to be willing to invest some time and energy simply keeping up with what's new this week.

III. You must constantly monitor it.

Social media is the polar opposite of "fire and forget." For it to be effective, you need to be constantly monitoring the social sphere for discussions of your company, as well as watching for and responding to comments addressed directly to you. Those companies that do best in social media are those who are constantly working at it.

Now, this whole situation leads many companies to consider hiring a marketing firm to handle their social strategies, but then you end up virtually eliminating the cost benefits of social media. If you have to pay someone thousands of dollars to do it for you, it suddenly becomes a major investment.

Basically, social media has a lot of great features, but you need to be realistic about it. It's not a magic bullet for your Internet marketing needs.

Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: Internet marketing, Social Media, Content Marketing

There's more to Social Media than Facebook, Twitter 2: Google+, Pinterest

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Thu, Sep 06, 2012 @ 05:10 PM

Welcome back to the next installment in our series on utilizing some of the "other" social websites in your social media marketing!

Unlike the big two - Facebook and Twitter - most of the other services have more specialized focuses or user groups, so they may not be right for every online marketing plan. None the less, by talking about them in more depth, we can help you identify new services to target that may solve specific challenges that you're facing in your social media marketing.

Today, we'll be looking at two of the newer services on the block: Google Plus, and Pinterest.

Google Plus

Google Plus in Social Media Marketing

Google Plus is, of course, Google's attempt to challenge Facebook. They have a lot going for them, including the gigantic existing Google user base, but G+ has struggled to find a stable user base. On the other hand, Google continues to add G+ services that integrate with their search, so they may end up gaining a stable user base through that path.

Looking at the demographics reveals a couple interesting points. First, the G+ user base is tilted quite heavily towards males, by roughly 2:1, even though most social sites tend to be more equally balanced. Also, the average income of G+ users is somewhat higher, meaning there's more of a potential for marketing upscale items.

If you're looking to leverage Google Plus, here are a few entry points:

  • G+ users are extremely interested in technology. Most of its biggest "circles" - specialized member groups - are devoted to Internet and Tech matters.

  • Open source and similar "free" content systems do well on G+. Android is more popular than iOS, for example.

  • Since anyone with a Google account has a G+ account by default, non-active users can be enticed into becoming more active with promotions.

  • The level of discussion on G+ tends to be of high quality, so contributing positively to conversations helps build followers.

  • The male focus and higher income suggests you may have good luck pushing higher-end items.

Pinterest

Pinterest in Social Media Marketing

On the other end of the spectrum, picture-sharing site Pinterest has an overwhelmingly female bias, with their demographics coming out at nearly 70% female. Pinterest users also tend to be a bit more affluent than other social services so, like G+, higher-end customers can be found here.

Pinterest has been especially popular as a virtual storefront among smaller retailers. Shopkeepers on the crafts site Etsy have had a lot of success putting pictures of their wares on Pinterest. Its scrapbooking-like format also makes it easy to accumulate pictures from across the web that all relate to common subjects.

In some ways, like YouTube, Pinterest works better when used in conjunction with other social sites. It integrates directly into Facebook's photo system and can be easily linked to from G+, Twitter, and other services as well. If you don't sell anything that's terribly visual, you can still utilize Pinterest to house pictures that enhance your message.

Look to Pinterest if you:

  • Have a product aimed more at women than men.

  • Have attractive items for sale which can advertise themselves in pictures.

  • Are a freelance artist, web designer, or such looking to create a public portfolio.

  • Want to direct more traffic to your website, since linked pictures automatically link back to the source.

  • Sell furniture, other home furnishings, or housewares.

  • Want to help define your business's attitude or philosophy through visual collections of curated content.

And that wraps it up for this edition. Stay tuned for our next installment, where we look into FourSquare and other location-based social media marketing opportunities.

Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: Online marketing, Internet marketing, Social Media

SEO Backlink Strategies: Using External Sites

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 @ 03:33 PM


Awhile back, we posted what was to be the first in a short series on utilizing backlink strategies in your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Then we got distracted by something shiny and forgot to write the rest. Oops. So, slightly belatedly, let's return to the subject and talk about utilizing external sites while trying to build inbound links in your SEO.
To Review
Inbound links are the single most important aspect of determining your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings on Google, making up more than half of the total "weight" Google assigns to various aspects of your site. The more quality sites are linking to you, the higher you rank.
However, building these links is difficult, since you only have indirect control of other people's linking strategies. None the less, there are still ways to utilize external sites to help boost your backlink SEO strategies.
SEO External Links
Utilizing External Sites to Build Backlinks for Search Engine Optimization
One of the most constantly popular ways for people to create more inbound links to their site is to, effectively, make them personally. The main way of doing this is via article-submission services such as EzineArticles or Squidoo.
The basic strategy is to submit articles to these services that all link back to your website. If the article becomes popular by itself, then that will carry over to the links it sends you, boosting your inbound traffic directly as well as your SERP results.
Unfortunately, these sites are not held in terribly high regard by Google, so it can often take a lot of submissions to create a noticeable boost to your SEO rankings. However, with time and dedication - as well as a willingness to make sure these articles are actually worth reading - it's a strategy that can still give you some "juice" for your Search Engine Optimization, while costing nothing aside from the time involved.
Social Linking
The other main way you can help inspire backlinks is through a heavy push into social media. If you focus on putting out quality content and making sure it's easily-shared, this can lead to an increase in people sharing and linking to your content, which in turn hypothetically leads to higher SERP rankings.
Yes, it's extremely indirect, and there is conflicting evidence as to just how much impact social sharing has on search page results. The short answer to the question of "How much do Facebook shares impact your Google ranking?" is a plain "We don't know." That's something Google hasn't talked about directly, and there are too many other variables at work for us to answer the question through logical deductions.  (We might revisit this in a later blog, in more depth...)
Never the less, we feel it's a strategy that's still worth engaging in. After all, even if all those Facebook shares are only making a minimal impact on your search page placement, you're still getting the word out there and inspiring people to talk about you. That's worth a lot in online marketing by itself. If it helps your SEO, that's just gravy.
Coming Soon To A Blog Near You
There are a few other link-building strategies we haven't talked about yet because, quite simply, they don't work. Most of these are techniques that used to be viable, but have become antiquated thanks to changes in Google's procedures. Some can now actively harm your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rather than helping it.
So, tune in next time when we explore some things that you should not be doing to try to build your backlinks.
Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: Internet marketing, SEO, Search Marketing

SEO Social Signals: The Big Question Mark

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 @ 04:05 PM

Today,

we're going to wade into what's probably one of the biggest questions in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) world right now: To what extent does Google care about social signals in determining website ranking?
I'll go ahead and give you the spoiler right off the bat: we don't really know. It is clear that social signals do hold some influence over rankings, but exactly how big of an impact has not been determined. Google's keeping mum about it, and there are too many other factors at play to derive a good answer by analyzing results.
However, we do feel that it's worth talking about, and certainly worth exploring for those looking to expand their search engine optimization strategies. Read on for more details!

Social Media Signals
Social Signals in Search Engine Optimization: The Problems
First, just to be clear, "social signals" in this context simply refers to any sort of social network sharing activity involving a website. Examples would include "liking" or "sharing" content on Facebook, or ReTweeting a webpage's Tweets, or hitting +1 in Google Plus.
One big problem with discussing social signals in SEO is that Google has put out extremely mixed messages on the subject. We know they've been tracking Facebook Shares and ReTweets for a couple years now. Yet on the other hand, in a recent talk, a Google anti-spam engineer went so far as to say that they don't consider +1s on their own social network to be terribly reliable. However, that hasn't stopped them from using G+ results to shape their search results to some extent, so they aren't ignoring it either.
Another issue is the matter of the NoFollow tag. Virtually all the social sites, from Twitter to Reddit, utilize the NoFollow tag to prevent Google from counting internal links directly while crawling the web. None the less, Google has said they still can do a pretty good job tracking Likes, Shares, and ReTweets as well as other social signals.
And On Yet Another Hand...
Further complicating matters is that some external analyses have produced some compelling, if not conclusive, data suggesting social signals do significantly impact SEO.
Searchmetrics recently conducted a survey seeking to correlate websites' social performance with their SERP rankings. The results were surprising: in both the US and the UK, a high number of Facebook shares was actually the #1 factor they discovered that correlates to a high search ranking. A similar, unrelated study from SEOMoz came up with nearly identical results.
The problem, of course, is that as anyone who's taken basic Logic knows, correlation can never prove causation. It is entirely possible that both high Facebook activity and high SERP results are both being caused by a third, undiscovered factor (or multiple such factors) while being unrelated directly.
Social Media
It's simply impossible to logically determine, through these studies alone, how likely it is that social sharing is a causative factor in SERP rankings.
So, Now What?
Barring a direct statement from Google clarifying the matter, all we really have to rely on is inference and instinct. My gut tells me that social signals are probably a pretty important factor in SERP rankings. If nothing else, there would be no reason for Google to be integrating G+ into search results if they didn't think there was value in the idea, even if they haven't yet worked the kinks out.
Also, remember: social media has a lot of value to online marketing in general, even if it's not a direct influence on SERPs. It's already something you should be integrating into your strategies. Just keep up your regular SEO strategies as well.
Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: Online marketing, Internet marketing, Social Media, SEO

Navigating The SEO Data Maze

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Mon, Aug 06, 2012 @ 09:55 AM

When new online entrepreneurs get into Internet marketing, they get excited about the possibilities it holds. Internet marketing is more statistics-based, and therefore more “scientific,” than virtually any form of marketing that's previously existed.

You can track individual customers down to their individual likes, dislikes, purchasing habits, and preferred search engines. You can sort this information into demographic groups based on any criteria you like, to find specific targeted audiences to engage. You can track what people are saying about your company all around in the world in real time on services like Facebook and Twitter.

However, this leads to one of the unexpected traps of SEO and Internet Marketing: the Data Maze.

Internet Marketing Data Maze

Enter the Labyrinth

Simply put, the trap of the Data Maze is that there is so much information available that it's hard to sort out what matters from what doesn't. So you just received a spike in traffic from 30-40 year old women who “like” Coca-Cola and Kittens on Facebook. Does this matter to your strategy? Is this something significant, or just the result of looking for patterns?

Just like a maze, the vast amount of data you hold forms walls around your thinking, trapping you and tricking you into focusing on mere distractions.  Like Jennifer Connelly in Labyrinth, you have to be constantly on your toes so you don't get lost in your own Data Maze.

False Leads and Dead Ends

Just to preface this, it's worth noting that virtually no piece of data is truly worthless and could be useful to your strategies. However, these are all things that generally aren't important, and often tend to be abused by less-ethical marketeers looking to make impressive PowerPoints rather than impressive ROI calculations.

So don't get stuck in any of these blind alleys:

  • Pageviews, especially daily pageviews. In and of themselves, pageviews are good for nothing but bragging rights. “One million visitors in a day!” might be a nice bullet point on marketing materials, but if no one is actually buying anything, it's not making you any money.

  • PageRank. Google's PageRank system used to be a vital part of online marketing, but now it's been so depreciated that even Google themselves say it's not really worth worrying about.

  • Social Media Shares. This is another metric that can be a harbinger of good things, but is pretty much meaningless by itself. Shares increase exposure, yes, but are they bringing you customers and sales? Don't pursue shares solely for the sake of getting more shares.

  • Number of pages online. While constant blogging and article-writing is an important element of Internet marketing, you should still focus on quality rather than quantity. Hundreds of poorly-written pages will garner far fewer sales than dozens of good articles.

  • Klout. OK, the way things are going, Klout might be meaningful someday. Right now, it's just a popularity contest. You should be focusing on your customers, not the Internet as a whole.

Finding the Center

As the clock strikes Thirteen and you wish to be at the center of your Data Maze, you can cut through the confusion with one simple question:

How is this getting us sales?”

The path through the Data Maze is marked with profits. In any Internet marketing you engage in, think about whether it's targeting likely customers, and how directly you can tie those efforts to eventual sales.  Demographics, for example, should be primarily used for targeted marketing, not for courting Fans on Facebook.

If it's not garnering new sales and new clients, it's probably not worth investing in. Keep that in mind, and you'll complete your Data Maze.

Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: Internet marketing, Social Media, Search Engine Optimization, SEO