Tweet for Tat

Social Media” are the buzz words of 2009. What used to be the online playground of undergrads pulling all-nighters in their college dorms, has now turned into a marketing phenomenon for Fortune 500 companies and start-ups alike.

However, what a lot of professionals with decades of marketing experience tend to forget when dealing with social media platforms is that they are “SOCIAL” media platforms – arenas to engage other users and build relationships. Meaning, you can’t create an account on Twitter, sign in once a month, and expect to see results. Remember, it takes two to tango, and posting tweets for your business without bothering to read, follow and interact with other users is tantamount to lecturing your teenagers while they’re playing Guitar Hero World Tour on Wii. Futile.

According to a study conducted by MarketingSherpa research, nearly two-thirds of marketers do not monitor their social media accounts. Think of all the missed opportunities to join conversations, learn what potential clients (or competitors) are saying, and to just get the word out there that your company exists! Behave in social media communities the way you would normally behave in live, face-to-face interactions: be interesting, don’t talk only about yourself, ask questions, be a source of useful information, have a genuine interest.

Not only will your fellow Twitterers appreciate the valuable content you contribute and feedback you provide, but you’ll soon find that your company is well on its way to achieving its social media marketing goals.

Simple Steps to Ensure Your Website is SEO-Friendly

If you’re like me, easily influenced by pretty shiny things that flash in my general direction, then you may be designing your website with aesthetics as your number one priority. That’s all well and good if you’re an established fashion label with ten years of Vogue and Vanity Fair creds. But, chances are, potential clients will be depending on search engines to find the type of services or products your company offers, without knowing that your exact company exists. Following these simple tips when building your website can lead to a more SEO-friendly design, giving you the search engine ranking and exposure your company needs to be on its way to becoming a household name.

Tip #1: Age Matters
Search engines want to “see” commitment. Websites that have been in existence for 5 years as opposed to 5 weeks will rank higher. When your website shows longevity, a search engine will consider it as a trusted and authoritative source.

Tip #2: Title Tags are Golden
Don’t make the mistake of titling your web pages with inside jokes only your frat brothers would know, or using overly simple titles like “My Website Page 2.” While this may make your life easier or more comical, it does zilch for search engines when they crawl your site for content. Use your most competitive keywords in your pages’ title tags, as they are the most important pieces of text on your website for SEO purposes.

Tip #3: The Pen (or QWERTY Keyboard) is Mightier than the Sword
You can toss out the notion that “a picture is worth a thousand words” because in the world of SEO, a picture is about as valuable as Enron stock. Rather than focusing on graphics, make sure that your homepage includes searchable content. If you plan on linking to other pages from your homepage, use text links rather than hyperlinks contained within an image. When search engines read a link that uses text (e.g. “Bulldog Puppies For Sale”) and it actually links to a page that has relevant content in the text of the title/URL/header and body copy, this builds your site’s “trustworthiness” and “authority” status putting you on the search engine’s honor roll.

Comparing Facebook Groups and Pages

The Facebook Fundamentals

Establishing your presence on Facebook is an important task whether you are promoting yourself or your business. Some may find that the process is not that straightforward. The first obstacle you will encounter is deciding whether to create a Group or a Page. For some businesses, choosing both is a possibility. So, before you put your time and effort in maintaining your new social media profiles, take some time to consider the pros and cons of each:

Facebook Groups

An easy way to think about Facebook Groups is that they are like any other group or club. A group administrator is in charge of providing members with information, news about events, and more. Other members can also be appointed to help facilitate information. Establishing a group is a great way to gain quick attention for a cause or event.

Pros
+ Good for hosting discussions
+ Communicate directly with members
+ Promote with ads
+ Create events and send reminders
+ Privacy controls (public, private, or closed)
Cons
– Not given any weight by search engines
– Unattractive URL
– No visitor information
– Limited to 5,000 members

Facebook Pages

In some ways, Facebook Pages are more informal than groups. There is no public administrator and users are called “fans”. With Pages, there are more options to track visitor information. Facebook pages are similar to normal Facebook profiles. But instead of a person, these pages are designated to represent a brand or celebrity. Some businesses opt for a Facebook Page to maintain a long-term relationship with fans.

Pros
+ Vanity URL
+ Good for hosting discussions
+ Communicate directly with members
+ Indexed by search engines
+ Ability to extend your SEO efforts
+ Can have over 5,000 fans
Cons
– Cannot send reminders for events
– No privacy controls, everything is public

Making Your Decision

Hopefully, some of these points have helped clear up any confusion. Experts generally agree that Facebook Groups are better for organizing users around a cause or upcoming event. Facebook Pages are useful for a company or celebrity to strengthen their online brand presence. Some argue that users feel more active as a Group member than an observing fan of a Facebook Page. Search marketers usually prefer using Pages because of their advantages in user statistics, while others may use a combination of both.

Customize your Google News Home Page

Customs Sections Directory

Google News has recently made it possible for you to customize your Google News home page! They have created a Custom Sections Directory, which can be modified and changed by its user. Simply click on the “Add a section” link on the far right side of your Google News page and you will be relocated to your custom sections directory where you can begin making modifications.

How to Customize to your Interests

The directory includes various sections to choose from such as “Social Networking,” “Computer Security,” “US Foreign Policy,” etc. By adding particular sections you find interesting, your Google News page will become more personalized to you and your interests. The custom sections directory also allows you to sort by: highest rated, most users, and newest. Starting there can give you a sense of what other users are finding to be of interest. If you wish to browse the directory according to category, this is possible as well! Simply click on the category of your choice and find exactly what you are looking for. The categories include: business, science, technology, sports, entertainment, health, politics, and society. Within these categories are sub-categories so that you are able to narrow your preference down to specifics. Also offered is keyword search. If you wish to create your own customs section or sections this is also possible! Simply enter your city, state and zip code to create a local section or enter a keyword and they will be added to the public directory.

News Worth Reading

After you have completed customizing your Google News home page, the sections you have requested to add will be visible as links on the left-side menu. They will also appear on the bottom of your Google News home page. Customize your Google News home page today and enjoy the convenience of reading about what you want!

Competition Among Top Search Engines

Google Dominates

Google continues to dominate as the top search engine in the United States. While a select few reign over the search engine industry, there is a great range between the top three largest companies. As of September 2009, about 70.5% of users use Google, 17% used Yahoo! and 9.3% sided with Bing. With such discrepancies, the number two and three search engines are losing a great deal of market share to the Google giant. In the past, Google and Microsoft have been fiercely competitive. From competing web browsers to applications, Microsoft has jumped directly into Google’s game with the unveiling of their new search engine in summer of 2009.

Does Bing Size Up?

The commercials seem promising, but does Bing really size up to Google? Formerly Windows Live Search and MSN Search, the new search engine has boldly labeled themselves as the “decision engine”. Some experts believe that Bing is a great improvement from what it used to be, and that it has the potential to threaten Google’s success. While the size of that threat is arguable, Bing offers relevant results that are competitive to those of Google. Another obstacle for Bing to overcome is attempting to win over loyal Google users. Bing is relatively young to Google and time will tell whether or not their technology and measurable marketing efforts will pay off.

New Competitors

Although Google is all we hear about when it comes to search engines, the market outside of the United States is drastically different. For example, did you know that AltaVista is the number one preferred search engine in Canada? The Swiss prefer Abacho, while China is no stranger to altogether banning access to Google. Google is great at recognizing competitors and making valuable additions to their company. Did you know that Google acquired Google Earth from a smaller company in 2004? New technology is emerging all the time and Google is definitely keeping their eyes peeled for new competitors.

Making Use of Local Search Results

Local Search Marketing

Increasing advances and improvements have made local search engine results more relevant than ever. When you’re browsing online for restaurants or hot shopping spots, you want results that are relevant to your geographical location. Google recognizes consumer demand for this relevancy and is working hard to become more local. With that being said, it would be foolish for businesses to downplay the importance of local search. A focus on your local search efforts means taking a close look at your campaign in specific geographical locations. As a small business owner, your recognition on the Internet relies on how well you do in local search results. Even on a nationwide level, a corporation, such as World Gym, can greatly benefit from ranking higher on local search results.

Improving Your Results

There are simple steps that you can take to improve your local search results. First, take advantage of free local Yahoo! and Yellow Pages business listings. You can make sure that your business is listed in other local business directories and listings from your local Chamber of Commerce. When it comes to keeping your website updated, always make sure to include your address and local telephone number, along with an 800 number. This way, customers and search engine results can easily tell exactly where you’re located. Local SEO efforts will also be appreciated in the long run. It can be as simple as adding your city to title pages and including in keywords and while link building.

What the Future Holds

Local search will only get more accurate with time. Earlier this year, Google has even begun to add pictures to their local search result pages. While this will help put local businesses on the map, it means This means that businesses will have another task of monitoring their activity on local search results and websites. If that’s not enough for you to keep up with, there’s much more. Twitter’s search engine allows users to search in real time. When local search is integrated with real time technology, who knows what the future holds!

Small Businesses Benefit from Facebook

How to Take Advantage

Large corporations may have a bigger brand presence on social media sites but that doesn’t mean that small businesses cannot also benefit. Setting up a Facebook page for your business is a cost effective way to keep up with the latest customer trends. Facebook is an easy to use forum which allows customers easy access to upcoming news or events. Additionally, creating a strong online presence can help you rank better in search engine results and bring more relevant traffic to your site. An example of a small business that uses Facebook to its maximum potential is the Beverly Hills based Sprinkles Cupcakes. Founder Charles Nelson relies on building buzz through the Sprinkles Facebook page instead of traditional paid marketing efforts.

Stay Connected with Your Fans

Sprinkles uses Facebook to create a unique and engaging
relationship with their fans. They have even come up with a fun code system which gives the first customers with the secret phrase of the day the opportunity to get free treats! This is a great way to build word of mouth advertising, as well as bring customers to the store. A part of social networking sites is being just that, “social” – and being active can help small businesses succeed in this area. The key is to engage customers by providing help and insight or offering incentives and other promotions. By having a Facebook page, you can monitor the good and bad that is being said about your business. This is better than knowing nothing at all about how your company is perceived. It is even an effective tool that will give you the opportunity to fix those problems.

Using Other User-Friendly Sites

Local references and review sites are popular amongst customers who are looking to try new things. Yelp and Yahoo! Local Listings are perfect examples of these popular sites. Although there are many social networking sites out there, it is important to practice restraint and don’t overdo your efforts. Like any other investment, it takes patience to see a return on your hard work. Whether it is Facebook or any of these other sites, the key to strong staying power is steady maintenance of your page. It is foolish to put in numerous hours one day and then completely stop your efforts. Instead,  view it as a long-term project and set aside a couple minutes every other day to monitor your growth.

What is Twitter?

At nearly three years old, Twitter is not new to the Internet world. Many individuals may not be familiar with the concept of tweeting and find themselves asking, “What is Twitter?”. This video accurately sums up how the social networking service works in very simple terms. Having heard so much about it, it’s refreshing to understand what makes Twitter attractive to such diverse segments of Internet users. Initially, Twitter really took off with working adults who like to stay connected to friends, colleagues, and peers. Nowadays, teenagers to people under 35 are also getting their tweet on.

Twitter has the advantage over other social networking sites because it is well-organized system, yet maintains a sense of informality which makes it so appealing. In September 2009 alone, Twitter received over 23 million unique visitors. So, why are so many people boarding the Twitter train? It’s always nice to hear updates from friends or acquaintances that we don’t see so often. What about news from celebrities, politicians, and even your favorite products? Twitter is a unique place where we can get all that and more in just one place.

Between catching up with text messages, emails, and blogs, Twitter posts are a 140 character package to fill in the void. The average visitor stays on Twitter for about seven minutes and that’s all you need to stay connected while doing everyday things. Twitter is about more than just tweeting what you had for lunch. It is a social phenomenon because users share interesting things that they encounter during the day with the people that they care about. Even when it’s sharing with strangers, Twitter tools allow you to create a bond that would have never happened otherwise. You may also learn new things about people and the tidbits are sure to brighten your day. So, if you’re looking for a social networking site that is simple and sweet, tweeting is the way to go!

Search Marketing During a Recession


Think Positive

What should you do when it comes to your search marketing efforts during a recession? Many marketers believe that search marketing is somewhat recession-proof, but it pays to do your own research. It may be too soon to tell, so it doesn’t hurt to do some analysis. First, talk to your peers and ask them how business is going. You can learn a lot from their personal experiences and networking is always a big plus. Keeping up with the latest news means that you won’t get left behind during the next economic upturn. Things may look slow in the meanwhile, but don’t be easily discourage. Innovations like Google Wave or advances in mobile search marketing thrive during times like these!

Recession Dos

Invest: Whether it is time or money, experts suggest that a recession is a time to invest more into search marketing efforts. Why? Competitors may significantly cut back on their expenditures, so that leaves room for you to take advantage of an open market.
Think “Free”: Take advantage of free help that can come from link building and social networking. These efforts take more time than money and will improve the results that you’ll see in the long-run. You can also take time to give your website that much needed makeover.
Organize: Regardless of the economic conditions, a well-organized business always runs more efficiently. Keeping track of what you cut-back on or increase will help you easily make changes and see results.

Recession Don’ts

Don’t carry on as normal but don’t be afraid. Does that make sense? It is foolish to think that the recession doesn’t have some impact on a part of your business. Disregarding external factors is not beneficial and you won’t learn anything new. The worst thing that a business can do is to cut costs in blind fear. If you cut back or eliminate new content and a paid advertising campaign, why would you be surprised if your business suffers? It’s time think smarter and you can take these tips with you as you move ahead.

PPC Negative Keywords: Maximizing the Positive Effect

Just this morning, we sat in on a webinar titled, “PPC Negative Keywords: Maximizing the Positive Effect”.  It was hosted by Marin Software and Ken Jurina, the co-founder and CEO of of Epiar, Inc.  Here are some of the gems we plucked from our experience – some we know, but some of it was a kick in the pants to spend more time thinking negative.

Negative keywords instruct search engines to not display your ads, decreasing irrelevant queries, impressions and most importantly clicks and spend.

An interesting reverse logic idea that was mentioned: you may want to consider using negative keywords for legitimate terms.  Maybe these terms are spending a lot of money and bringing lots of traffic but they are expensive and converting poorly.  Other great reasons to use negative keywords are:

  • Expensive conversions
  • Expensive clicks
  • Limited budget
  • Bad brand association
  • Not relevant for the user
  • Quality improvements
  • Lowering costs

An important, sometimes hard to find tidbit for each of the search engines is:  What are their negative keyword limits?

  • With Google – 10,000 negative keywords in Ad Campaign or 5,000 at Ad Group Level
  • With Yahoo – 250 negative keywords at Ad Campaign Level or Ad Group Level
    • Singular term covers plural and misspellings
  • With Microsoft adCenter – 1024 character including spaces and commas
    • Campaign, ad group or keyword level

A major lesson seemed to be that ultimately, a combination of exact phrase broad and maximized negative keywords is the best way to target paid search.  Keep in mind that negative keywords have no impact on exact match terms.

So – I’m sold on the idea of switching to more broad and phrase matching and adding negative keywords to all of my accounts.  After adding broad and phrase match and negative keywords, what can I expect?

  • Your ads will now appear on the relevant long tail phrases
  • Your ads will get better exposure to better prospects, which means increased leads and increased revenue!
  • You can now advertise on long tail phrases where your competitors dare not tread, meaning more cheap clicks for you without the dangers of broad match.
  • Once your ads get impressions deep into the long tail phrases, your advertising reach may double, triple, or more!

OK – great, now how do I build these lists?  What tools are there for me to use?

Manually, using intuition and industry knowledge.

Scan through past referring phrases that did not convert, had bounce rates or were trash

So – In the end, negative keywords is a simple concept, important part of every campaign and can according, to today’s webinar, save up 20-40% on spend.  Wow, that’s a “no-brainer”.