Archive | July, 2014

Why Content and Social Media Marketing are the New SEO

28 Jul

SEO is the process of making your web site more accessible to search engines.Google’s algorithmic updates the last 3-5 years (“panda” “penguin” “hummingbird”) have reshaped the SEO marketing landscape permanently.

It’s s a myth to think you can and should be manipulating search engines with back links, page keyword stuffing, duplicate content development, etc. It’s old school and much of these processes are no longer relevant to Google.

Today, SEO rankings are a primarily combination of creating and sharing great content, building a web site that works for your visitor, coupled with basic on page SEO best practices we’ve outlined below.

Best SEO Practices for Today’s Content Soaked World

  • Think of Twitter as Google’s new SEO discovery engine – use Twitter to tell Google what new content has been added to your site, with hyperlinks embedded in your Tweets to the blog post or page.
  • Build your site on WordPress with these basic page attributes to drive SEO: Title and Descriptions consistent with your copy and use the Yoast plugin.
  • Make sure your page construction HTML “score” is correct – use the W3C Validator to check your code by pasting in a URL and checking.
  • Write shareable copy; by “shareable” we mean with excellent, well written copy that educates and informs your audience and use the ShareThis WordPress plugin so visitors can easily share your content across their social accounts.
  • Don’t have a slow web site! Google penalizes sites with poor load times: checkoutPingdom’s site to understand your critical load times for a page. You want to be less than 2.5 seconds of load time per page.
  • Use PlexiSearch (click on search insights) to understand how keywords are rated and ranked by Google and Bing – back links are passé – “social” really drives SEO rankings.
  • Monitor comments via your web site and/or use Disqus for on-baord commenting to make the job easier: site popularity will drive spammers; know this going in.
  • If need be, outsource a portion of your content marketing to help you brand get more lift in the marketplace; this blog post will give you a sense of content marketing costs.
  • If consumer facing brand and/or you have sufficient marketing budget make sure  your updating Facebook on a regular basis; this will drive Bing search results which are picked up by Google.
  • Be proactive with Google: makes sure your Google Webmaster Tools account is working with Google analytics and monitor Google’s “read” of your site.
  • Create relevant “intelligent” URLs that have keywords and informative text embeddedin the URL string. This helps to drive more traffic by letting a viewer doing a search quickly get a sense for what your page is about.

 

 

A critical takeaway for savvy SEO Marketing is understanding SEO is just one strategic part of your overall marketing mix and should be integrated with other strategic marketing initiatives: content, ads (don’t forget about re-targeting), social media, email, offline and commenting on other sites.

Effective SEO 30K Foot Notes for Smartphone in Hand Execs

  • Don’t obsess about SEO! It’s an important part of your overall marketing strategy but it is not as important today as it was 3-5 years ago.
  • Do an informal or formal SEO audit depending on your marketing staff and/or budget
    • Create great content with embedded keyword phrases. We’ve been usingWordtracker for over ten year. It’s our go to “Swiss army knife” all purpose keyword research service.
  • Share and syndicate your content across the social web. Consumers and other businesses are ignoring search and increasingly relying on content accesses ed via social and/or smartphone apps, search is being bypassed.
  • Three Critical key metrics your brand should be aware of: Search, Social and Mobile.
  • Data is exploding with 10X growth with 44 Gigabytes of information online by 2020 – critical to create great content that helps your brand stand out from the crowd, with associated SEO rankings.
  • All brands today are becoming publishers chasing a digital audience that is increasingly fragmented.
  • Responsive web site design has a significant impact on SEO and your overall marketing efforts: 30-50% of your web site traffic is accessing it via Mobile and Tablet.

Content Marketing Best Practices that Drive SEO Marketing and More

  • Start slow: content marketing is a marathon process that is inherently iterative: you learn as you go.
  • Establish benchmark measurements at the outset: social engagement, revenue, email subscription, eBook download.
  • Keep moving forward: don’t get bogged down in the proverbial trenches.
  • Align content marketing with other strategies.
  • Involve your entire organization whether it’s five or fifty people: great content ideas come in all shapes and sizes: sales, customer service and/or exec staff.
  • Great content marketers “newsjack” and “borrow” from others. Content curation (great research) is critical to success.
  • Mix and match snackable short form (images, under 300 word blog post, videos) with long-form “evergreen” high value content.
  • “Chunk” and repurpose and syndicate content to leverage costs. An image curated and sourced for your web site should be featured on your pinterest board, shared on Twitter and recycled via multiple blog posts.
  • Great images help to make your brand stand out, which is increasingly important with today’s crowded markets.
  • Used an Editorial Calendar (this link will take you to our blog post with an embedded Editorial Calendar sample): it imparts discipline to your ongoing content marketing and can be integrated with a site like Trello to drive collaboration via teams of people.

SEO marketing is still a critical part of your overall marketing strategy: but, much of the old school strategies are no longer relevant!

Savvy marketers and brands realize an integrated marketing strategy drives SEO rankings. Your baseline focus has and should be writing and sharing “smart” content that informs and engages your target markets.

Please know this post is far from a comprehensive overview of any and all critical SEO practices. The intent is to point you in the right direction and help you move away from some of the old school mythology that still seems to permeate SEO marketing.

One final point: marketing strategy, technology and tactics are evolving like never before, we live in an algorithmic tech immersed world with applications and machines “deciding” what gets shared across the social web.

Smart marketers and execs have to invest quality time understanding what’s going on in the world around them.

How To Get Industry Influencers To Boost Your Social Media Reach

21 Jul

As social media marketing continues to mature, professionals are learning the value of reaching a large number of people. One post to an existing social media network will reach a professional’s existing audience, but those consumers are likely already aware of that brand. Reaching new customers is key, but social media is a much more subtle form of advertising than placing a billboard in Times Square or running an ad during the Super Bowl.

If brands can locate a person who has wide reach on social media, one message can reach a large number of people. If the message is interesting enough, those members’ messages will be read and passed on by their followers, potentially reaching thousands of people in a short time. That’s why social media has such huge potential, but only when executed strategically. Here are seven steps for getting industry influencers to boost your brand’s social media reach.

1. Define Influencers

For the purposes of social media marketing, an influencer is a person who has a large, active online following. This may be someone who’s deemed an expert in a certain area, or who happens to be very popular. Oprah Winfrey is an example of someone with far-reaching impact, since one recommendation from her can send thousands of people to learn more about a product or service.

An influencer isn’t defined simply by the quantity of followers they have on a particular site. Unfortunately, social media users employ shady tactics like click farms to generate fake likes for their Facebook profiles. Similar tactics can be found on other sites, as well, resulting in users with high numbers of followers but little engagement.

2. Find Influencers

Locating people who can help you reach the masses isn’t easy, but technology can help. Traackr helps you locate top influencers in specific niches based on their reach, resonance, and relevance to your specific topic. Once you’ve located appropriate people, the tool will help you make contact and build a working relationship.

Whether you’re using a tool or locating an influencer through your existing network of contacts, it’s important to carefully research a person before making contact. Your message should only be entrusted to a credible, respected source to help strengthen your reputation. Pay close attention not only to the number of followers the person has, but the number of responses and conversations each of his posts initiates. Those key indicators provide better insight into how many active users the influencer has.

3. Contact Influencers

If someone has widespread reach, chances are marketers are frequently targeting them with their boilerplate requests. Instead of blasting your latest press release out to 100 of the top influencers in your niche, take the time to customize your pitch to appeal directly to the influencer. Ideally, take the time to get to know influencers before bombarding them with marketing requests.

 

LinkedIn is a great tool for connecting with respected professionals in your industry. Send a request and introduce yourself or, better yet, find connections you have in common and ask for an introduction. If LinkedIn isn’t a possibility, reach out to them on social media as a follower, sharing posts and replying with respectful comments occasionally. Once you’ve established yourself as a familiar name, you’ll be better positioned to request a favor.

4. Utilize Your Sources

Once you’ve identified your method of spreading the word, it’s time to craft a content strategy. Simply sending a tweet or posting a link on your Facebook page isn’t enough. To capture the attention of your desired influencers, your content should be as engaging as possible. This starts with a strategic, magnetic headline which attracts the click-through in the first place.

Contests and giveaways as well as video-based content that evokes emotion tend to yield good engagement results, too. The more relevant to your message the content is, the better.

Reaching those customers starts with your influencer. Chances are, if an influencer is regularly reaching a large group of people, they know their audience, and they’ll likely be most interested in content that they know will engage their user base. Pay attention to their follower’s reactions, as well, since influencers will be interested in gauging how popular each type of content they share is with their own audience.

5. Build & Maintain Relationships

When an influencer shares your content, be sure to show your gratitude. This can be through a direct message, a public post acknowledging their effort, or even a gift basket. By doing this, you’re also introducing the influencer to your own follower base, which may help them expand their own influence further. For someone who prizes their status as a respected authority, this is the best way to show your appreciation.

Now that you’ve established a working relationship with an influencer, nurture that relationship over the weeks and months that follow. Share and respond to their posts occasionally; but try not to go overboard. Think of an influencer as a respected colleague whose events you attend in order to learn something and stay aware of what’s going on in the industry.

6. Measure Results

Using top analytics techniques, you should track the results of your efforts and adjust your efforts accordingly. How many retweets did one influencer get compared to another? Was the content engaging and appropriate for the audience? Did the campaign add a large number of followers to your own social media accounts? Did you gain a relationship with a valuable influencer? For long-term success, any social media campaign should make a permanent improvement to your own reach.

 

Results go beyond simple reach, however. Overall, your marketing efforts should have initiated action from its recipients, whether that action is click-throughs to your site or purchases from your online store. If your message is a special offer, be sure you designate a coupon code that allows you to easily track the number of customers who took action on a specific campaign. This will give you the information you need to measure the campaign’s ROI.

7. Find influencers Offline

The group of people who hold the most influence throughout social media is always changing. For that reason, you should always be on the lookout for new authorities who hold the power to help you grow your audience even further. Since many influencers will simply be repeating your messages to the same customer base, continuing to go through the same social media accounts will have diminishing returns to both of you.

Don’t limit your search to the Internet; industry events are a great way to make contact with the best and brightest in your field. If you attend an interesting workshop at a conference, introduce yourself to the speaker and follow up with an online social media invitation afterward. This in-person contact is likely to make these influencers more amenable to working with you in the months following the conference, especially if you continue your interaction online.

Conclusion

Identifying and building relationships with the right people can extend your brand’s reach to a much wider audience, garnering more traffic, leads, and sales. By measuring results and tracking your efforts, you can more easily locate people who have the ability to increase your sales and create a large, loyal audience. Social media is about being social; and socializing with influencers is a strategic and efficient way to improve your reach, credibility, and authority within your industry.

When Should Small Businesses Outsource Social Media Marketing?

14 Jul

Social media marketing is a time-consuming initiative that can easily turn into a vanity project. Small business owners don’t have enough time to engage their social media accounts. Without resources and a strategy in place, it can be pointless in terms of ROI. One of the options is outsourcing social media marketing. Branding and engagement are important parts of your business, so when is the ideal time to do these?

After laying the foundation.
Identify your target audience, determine the best way to promote engagement, and create a style guide. Collaborate with the service provider to find the right strategy to achieve business results.

What’s the point of outsourcing if I’m going to do some work?
Outsourcing doesn’t have to mean surrendering your voice in social media to a third party, and you shouldn’t. When you hand over all the work, they’ll end up managing that part of your business. Your outsourcing partner should follow your lead not the other way around.

This step ensures that your outsourcing efforts are aligned with your business goals. No one knows your brand and its customers more than you do. You can delegate the process and still have control over the branding message.

Before turning your social media account into a wasteland or a useless mess.
If you can’t maintain a social media publishing schedule or don’t know how to make engagement viable, it’s time to get help.

Why? We’ll lose control!

An empty or inactive social media account sends a discouraging message to the visitor. If you can’t translate engagement into business value, it’s useless. Updating your Twitter is easy, but incorporating that into your marketing and sales strategy is the challenging part.

Collaborating with your outsourcing partner and due diligence reduce risks. Assign a person to oversee the processes.

Outsourcing is similar to any other deal. If you treat it as a value generator (other than a cost reduction tactic) and incorporate it into your internal strategy, it can deliver transformational results.

 

Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing, What’s the Difference?

7 Jul

Marketing jargon is enough to drive anyone mad these days. Marketers themselves are hard pressed to keep up with their own latest lingo. One such confusing example is defining the difference between social media marketing and content marketing. As in all good marketing, it boils down to objectives and strategy.

Social Media Marketing

The term social media is ubiquitous, having been with us long enough that we all understand its meaning and use. The phrase itself, subject of a number of claimed origins, was intended to describe the facilitation of Internet communication between people in a community setting. Facebook began ten years ago with numerous channels following. LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and many others offer every community imaginable.

It didn’t take long for business to hop on for the heady ride in an effort to reach out to their customers and prospects. Businesses discovered quickly not to enter social media with guns blazing, me, me, me and sell, sell, sell. The businesses accepted and engaged by their audience are those that take care to show that there are people behind a brand, willing to help and converse with other people in a meaningful way, or at least make them smile and feel good. People communicate with businesses through social media, but only on their own conversational and emotional terms.

Businesses now use social media as a host for very subtle marketing activities. Key is the context of the social media channel itself, with the audience and language particulars guiding the content placed by the business. Twitter, for example, only allows 140 characters maximum (100 characters ideal) and is a platform for brevity and youthful energy.

For businesses to market themselves on social media, they must focus their marketing activities within the confines of the host channels, and to the behavior of the audience within these channels. The advantages are the staggering audience numbers available within these channels; such as the 1.3 billion monthly active users of Facebook.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a relatively new term for a very old practice. It refers to the publishing aspect of marketing. In the days of yesteryear this may have been a catalogue, radio show, or an industry magazine. The idea was (and is) to inform, educate or entertain your audience to a point where they behave in a persuaded manner; to allow your company to help with their business (or consumer) needs.

With the Internet, modern content marketing encompasses many long forms of content. Brands can publish blog posts, whitepapers, e-books, videos, and anything else they need to establish trust and authority. There is room here for traditional marketing methods as well, as long as the methods conform to a consistent strategy in representing the brand.

By owning their own online real estate and content, businesses can market under their own terms. They can produce long form, higher quality and more buyer-centric marketing that can effectively develop relationships with prospects and guide them towards lead conversion. You host your own content on your website(s) or mobile apps, your subscribers enthusiastically consume it, and your sales pipeline fills up.

Endgame: Integrated Marketing Strategy

Content marketing is the most powerful online marketing practice which social media marketing can vitally support. The goal is acquiring subscribers to your original content, whatever the format, because they can become leads. Many SMBs do not have the resources to star as content marketers. Thankfully, we have social media to help establish and amplify your brand and guide people to your website. Social media marketing is a great way to start paving the way towards online marketing independence.

The reality is making and keeping your business successful through marketing strategy. A number of business tactics are required, each requiring specific strategies based on goals. Goals are set and met one step at a time. Content marketing effectiveness takes time; you can start immediately with social media marketing. Everything knits together to tell your own unique story and becomes your endgame; an integrated marketing strategy.