Archive for the ‘SEO’ Tag

Optimizing for Facebook and Search Engines   9 comments

You’re probably familiar with search engine optimization (SEO) tactics for improving your website’s search rankings in Google and other major search engines. But have you thought about how to incorporate social media into your search strategy? Optimizing for Facebook and search engines is benefits overall search rankings.

Facebook can be a valuable asset for search results. The volume of content and variety of places to add keyword-rich content can help you attract new Page members on Facebook, while providing more natural search results.Facebook is indexed by search engines and also has deals with Google and Bing to display social search results that include posts from your friends.

In the more general natural-search realm, a well-optimized Facebook Page can help you overtake a competitor by providing a second set of Pages (in addition to your own website) to display on the search results page. This can also be helpful when you’re looking to do some reputation management. A Facebook Page can also give you the opportunity to add a few more keywords that didn’t work as well on your website.

Places to Put Keywords:

Page name:    Your Facebook Page name or title is one of the first things both users and search engines. Create a keyword-dense title, but make sure it’s clear who you are and what you do.

URL:    You can also choose a vanity URL for your Page, which is another great place to include branded keywords like your company name. Facebook Page URLs are a large part of optimization, as content space is limited.

The Info box:    This small, 250-character box located below the Page icon is an underused gold mine for both traffic and SEO purposes. It’s one of the first things a current Page member sees when looking at either the Wall or Info tab. The keywords you use in the Info box can go a long way in search. With its prominent placement, the Info box is a great place to optimize a little info about your Page, because it’s the highest place in the Page code that allows custom text. You can even put a clickable link in there. You just need to include the http:// part first.

Keywords on Facebook Tabs:

The Facebook tab structure creates a helpful hierarchy of information and the ability to add lots of keyword-rich content. Facebook offers several standard tabs for your Page, including the Wall, Info, and Photos or Videos tabs. You can also add your own custom tabs.

Default landing tab:    Facebook allows you to choose a specific landing tab for new Page viewers. This is the first tab they
see, and its primary goal is to encourage them to click Like for the Page. It is also the first Page crawledby search engines. This default tab can be a custom tab you create, so make sure it contains relevant text that explains to both search engines and Facebook users who you are and what you do.

Info tab:  The standard Info tab has fields containing important descriptive data about your Page. It’s important to fill out all fields, as they provide an opportunity to include keywords and links for both local searches in the Location field and more general product or service queries in the Company Overview section.

Other Content:  

It almost goes without saying, but it’s important to continually share interesting content on your Facebook Page and always use all available descriptive fields on each type of content shared. Facebook allows nearly every piece of content to be indexed by search engines, so use the tabs, tools, and input fields that Facebook provides to your full advantage.

Media:   Post photos to multiple albums and include keyword-rich descriptions of the album and each photo. Every event or topic should have its own album for easier searching. Allow Page members to post their own photos and comment on or tag your uploads.

Events:  Use the Events feature for both real and virtual events. Always fill out all fields with a full description of the event, and make it open to the public.

Status updates:  There is a lot of debate about the extent to which updates help with search engines, but it’s clear that they are a big factor in Facebook searches. Take your time when planning content and include keywords; this is the bulk of what Page members will see on a daily basis.

Increased Interactions:
User interaction is a crucial yet elusive factor in optimizing your Facebook Page and improving search presence. Facebook views interactions with your Page (likes, comments, and posts) much like a searchengine views links pointing to your site. A user interaction is a vote for the content of your Page.

Facebook’s focus on user behavior and interaction extends to visits, clicks, and Event RSVPs as well. The exact weight or algorithm the site uses to calculate interaction is unclear, but the higher the engagement on your Page, the higher you will rank in Facebook searches and the more prominent your placement in a suggested search.

Encourage interaction on your Page by posting frequently and including lots of content that asks users directly to interact.

Make Money with Facebook   5 comments

With the number of Facebook’s  users increasing everyday, businesses of all types are realizing they have a big opportunity to make money with Facebook the world’s largest social network.

It is important to understand that Facebook is not your traditional e-commerce channel and should not be used as a direct
marketing tactic. The hundreds of millions of Facebook members have joined to share their personal stories through updates, images and videos within their social network not to buy products. Utilizing the social network as a sales channel is not a bad thing but should be handled carefully. Aggressive behavior does not pay off.

Develop a strategy for connecting with your customer base. Your strategy should be about quality not quantity of people that “like” your page. Taking the time to develop relationships with your fans, creating engaging content and measuring results are the three essential steps to an impressive return on investment.

-Engage with those who like you page: Start with an interesting and compelling Facebook Page that differentiates your business from the competition. Apps are a good way for any business serious about marketing on Facebook to create a unique experience that helps you stand out. From sharing videos to contests, Facebook Apps are among the most used features on the platform. Add in the ability to share with friends and a strong Facebook App can have a huge impact.

Creating a separate tab that helps business owners showcase their products or services is the right approach. Constantly posting your products on your Facebook  wall will turn people off, resulting in a sharp increase in the number of people “unliking” your page and, therefore, dismissing your brand. Creating a low-risk high-reward option for your customer is important, so always think like your  customers when implementing any new Facebook idea. There are thousands of amazing apps on Facebook and visiting the Facebook App Directory is a good place to start.

-Engaging content: Facebook uses the news feed optimization formula  to decide what content shows up in a user’s top
news feed, this formula  is tied to Facebook’s current news options (top news vs. most recent) .

Facebook news feed optimization has become a new type of  SEO. If you like or comment on updates from one particular
Facebook page often, you are likely to see that business’ status update in your top news feed (the default setting) on a regular basis. The formula called EdgeRank, looks at affinity score (how often the user interacts with the page), weight (how many comments or likes a post has), and time decay (how recent that update was posted). In many respects, this is not unlike link building.

If you post content on your page that does not follow the above formula you are wasting your time, as updates will not be seen by your fans. Before you press the share button, reread the post and make sure you are asking for engagement. For example, if you are thinking of launching a new product, ask the opinion of your customers.

If you are just starting out and have very few people following your page, Facebook advertising is a great approach to reach the right people at the right time. Advertisers can request that ads are served based on what your customers have said they liked in their profile. Example, you can promote a new brand to people on their birthdays, based on information from those user profiles. Before launch, Facebook will even show the number of estimated reach so as to not waste marketing dollars advertising to those less likely to engage.

-Performance: Your Facebook Page, Facebook Insights offers valuable customer information. After reviewing age, gender and country of residence you can enhance or change your current Facebook strategy. Using this data, you can decide which content works best, the audience you are currently reaching and where improvements can be made. In the end, it’s all about making social connections with your target audience.

SEO and Social Media   2 comments

While SEO tends to be more technical (at least it is perceived to be so), social media optimization (SMO) leans more toward developing a process to establish quality relationships where trust and confidence are the aim. It can be argued, however,  that the techniques and tactics employed in each practice are universal and interchangeable. It is difficult to deny that a tremendous opportunity for profit exists when we employ common SEO best practices and apply them within our social media world.

To make the most of the current Web landscape, a formal plan is required — one that provides an understanding of the audience to which you are marketing your products and services, takes into account the quality and quantity of content you will need, and establishes measurable goals for the benefit of your business. SEO in a social media world provides you an opportunity to make a more meaningful impact on existing users and prospects than either practice alone, making your enterprise more genuine and providing the ability to explore channels that may have previously seemed walled, inaccessible and alien.

SEO Failings: Most websites struggle with SEO, and it is not just the Internet mom-and-pops. More than half of the companies had almost no natural search visibility with their targeted keywords, defined as not ranking within the top 100 natural search results. Sound similar to your own troubles? Only two percent of the domains surveyed (those associated with the actual companies) showed a significant number of their keyword terms in the top results. The worst part for Web professionals is that regular Web users are turning a blind eye to corporate social media and its real-time nature. Online marketing firm OneUp-Web’s recent eye-tracking study revealed some interesting findings about real-time and perhaps, in many respects, the impact that “social” has on search results.  Social media may have peaked and you have a perfect storm that is sure to upset the balance of promotions on the World Wide Web. It’s not off base to think that most consumers have no idea that social is making its way into search.

So how do we apply the SEO principles that we know work for generating competitive first-page rankings to social media, and vice-versa? In short, it comes down to how content is developed and shared. But first it’s necessary to discuss the basics of getting social with SEO. A common and damaging misconception is that SEO is separate from the marketing strategy of a business. In reality, integrating SEO into existing business practices is essential these days.

When it comes to SEO and SMO, reaching your objectives requires that as much attention be paid to the content you provide as to how the broader community will interact with it. Since it is the content that people will ultimately discover and share first, if you are publishing the wrong type of content, you will arrive at the wrong destination.

Content Development: Developing content-based promotions for our current or prospective audiences requires
being familiar with their behavior, those users’ preferences and how they will share and publish content within their own network and among the social graph they have established. One way is to use social media monitoring software, like that
provided by Radian6, to stay on top of conversations and the influencers who initiate them.

But you don’t need to be a creative genius to come up with innovative ideas for content. Many top e-commerce websites rely strongly on leveraging user-generated content. Amazon.com is an excellent example. Notice how strongly they leverage user-generated product reviews and recommendations, allowing them to display unique content for nearly every product, on an ongoing basis. Somewhat similar to expert product reviews, but at the category level, are buyer’s guides — informative, unique articles designed to educate potential buyers about particular product categories or industries.

What about informational and service-oriented websites? Nothing works better than an education or information section. Simply add a section to an existing website and publish unique and linkable content related to your company or the
industry it serves.

You will find when creating content that its eventual success does not always rely on the quality of the content, but how it is presented — offering it to users in creative, interesting ways. For this, you will need to take the time to brainstorm. Think of ways that you could change your users’ experiences that would be so interesting or helpful that others would want to link to your website, and/or share that content with their networks. Example: a humorous video of a pet playing with a popular toy could be embedded on a social network, sent via a Twitter update and posted on YouTube — complete with a description of the product and a link where it can be purchased.

But it’s not just the quality of content, it’s increasingly the quantity (as well as its frequency) that matters. This finding coincides with common sense: out of large chunks of business-relevant content (one post per weekday), blog readers will likely find something engaging and proceed to learn more about a company. They might even share that content with their peers.

As important as it is that content resonates with a Web audience, it won’t mean much if that content does not in some way satisfy the objectives of an enterprise. Those objectives can differ greatly per industry or by the type of site that you own
or operate, but they are routinely website traffic, brand exposure, inbound link generation or actual leads and sales. While companies have historically been reliant on SEO to drive marketing or sales, social media requires a different tack.

Multi-channel SMO: The role of SEO in a social media effort is to directly influence discovery of social communities or content via search. For example, search for a popular brand term today and it is likely you will find YouTube channels, Twitter accounts and Facebook Fan Pages on the first page of search results where negative reviews, complaints and brand squatters once ruled that real estate.

What this means is that to succeed with SEO in a social media world, we need to think long and hard about how to distribute content and create a tactical approach to user sharing. While you can foster the sharing process with tools like
ShareThis or AddThis, many companies are turning to Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect to take their communities (as well as the inevitable sharing that goes on with the right content) to a different level. These solutions, while still new, are being widely adopted and present a noteworthy opportunity to shore up support within an existing network. But what about outside of your own site — how do you ensure that your message is shared across your social graph in a way that is consistent with the original meaning and intent?

Social community platform Awareness Networks launched some intriguing multi-channel publishing features on its platform which puts content directly on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and others without the manual legwork. Often, publishers have great content to share but it needs to be managed like a corporate asset. For example, who can access certain social media channels and what kind of content can or should go there? In essence, companies looking to optimize social marketing channels face significant control issues surrounding brand image and messaging across multiple channels.

But perhaps the biggest problem with SMO is measuring the effectiveness of multiple platforms. Efforts tend to become an ROI “black hole” with no empirical data to make informed business decisions. Therefore, it’s critical that businesses set
a formal plan and utilize even the most basic of analytics to measure how each platform is performing. Should Twitter, for example, outperform Facebook in terms of generating traffic and increasing time-on-site, then efforts and perhaps budget
should be shifted accordingly. However, this would not mean that Facebook should be abandoned. Social media is a moving target.

Keyword Optimization: ne of SEO’s most tried and true practices is the use of keywords to help search engines index content. And it’s no different in the social media space. Profile descriptions and content, as well as updates to networks, should include keywords and phrases that are directly related to the content a user can expect to find after clicking a link, or reading the rest of the update. However, this is not to suggest that updates are to be keyword-stuffed. Remember that social media is intended to appeal to humans. That means using keywords mixed with a conversational tone to appeal to both search spiders and people. Anchor text in links must use keywords as well — both those links pointing to your website and to other social profiles.

Most popular keyword tools will provide information on what users are searching for, but why reinvent the wheel? SEMRush provides content marketers valuable insights into the keyword visibility (organic and paid) for any website. HowSociable is a useful tool to quickly gauge the social presence of a particular keyword or brand name but there are others (of varying levels) such as PostRank, Trackur, Social Mention, TechrigySM2 and even Google Alerts to understand the depth of presence for social media campaigns.

It could prove to be immensely valuable to know for what terms and content the competition is optimizing. Gathering that data (whether manually or through a service) at the start of any optimization process becomes integral not just to SEO efforts but also to SMO campaigns.

Generating Links: SEO’s golden child is the incoming link. While one might not think of SMO as a legitimate link-building strategy, the opportunity is most certainly there. Start by linking all of your business’ social profiles together, and to your website. This will help your brand dominate the search results pages for a branded search, as well as give users immediate options as to where they would like to connect with your business.

But the best opportunity for generating links is in your content. Social is built on sharing and that means sharing links. While, at this time, links originating from social profiles is not weighted heavily by search engines, that will likely change. The simple fact is that users are spending more time on social media and, as a result, obtaining more information from these sources. A bonus is that, invariably, high-quality social content will generate links to your website from outside the
social world, too. You can bet that just about every blogger, PR firm and news source is plugged in to social media — and they are looking for content to publish, and to link to from their own sites

By involving SEO insight in a social media marketing effort and vice-versa, marketers, public relations  professionals and advertisers can extend the value of their promotional investment. Well-optimized social media content marketing efforts can attract new network participants via search and through social networks, and facilitate links to websites directly and indirectly.

Search Engine Optimization   Leave a comment

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), one truth is everlasting: The landscape is continually changing. For an example of search’s ever-changing environment,  look no further than a popular search on Google. Search for “Xbox 360” and you will see more than just organic results from websites that mention those keywords. A broad range of content appears, including news, paid advertising, shopping feeds and social media results, including user updates from Twitter. This means that publishers and merchants need to concentrate on more than just increasing organic search placement for an Internet marketing plan to succeed.

Search Basics
Several factors have traditionally produced consistent SEO results. Content is still king, in many ways. Compelling content with proper keyword density and keywords highlighted in titles and meta tags remains very valuable to improving search engine rankings. Link building — inbound and outbound — adds strength to your site in the eyes of search engines, giving your site credibility and respect. Site structure is also important — if it’s easy for search engines to index your content, rankings are not only more easily achieved but longevity can result, too.

Social and SEO
As it stands today, no shift in search is more important or prevalent than social media. Every day, millions of people communicate with social media tools like Facebook and Twitter. Reaching these people can be a critical component of any successful online marketing campaign. However, every social media strategy needs to be more sophisticated than simply starting a Twitter page and posting your company’s latest specials.

Social media and SEO marketing programs can strengthen each other. A high-quality social media campaign that is interactive and engages audiences can improve search engine rankings on two fronts — both in organic listings and as a source of inbound links. At the same time, applying smart SEO practices to social media content — such as keyword-rich updates — will increase the reach and visibility of your social media campaign.

It is important to use your social profiles as a way to attract attention by making sure that the right keywords are highlighted within them. This way, when a user searches for your brand, business or industry, your profile will appear in results. A nice side effect is that the more results containing your brand, the less room for your competition. It’s also important to be active on your chosen social media sites. Along with making your own posts, build friends and followers by being involved in communities with similar interests.  Social bookmarking tools like Digg and Delicious will help promote your own activities along with helping you share useful information with your followers.

Video and Feeds
Feeds have also become a valuable tool in the new SEO landscape. This includes RSS feeds with the latest company news, press releases, blog posts or social media updates. It can also include product feeds — another reason why it’s important that your products and shopping carts can be easily indexed by search engines.

A relatively new concept is video SEO. Since acquiring YouTube, Google presents many video results in regular searches, often on the first page. Applying SEO concepts to videos can not only increase their placement in various searches but also improve the overall ranking of an entire website.

 Getting Personal, and Local
Search engines are constantly looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. One way has been attempting to deliver individual users with as much personalized content as possible. Localized search results have become increasingly expected by users in recent years, as they seek information relevant to their specific geographic area. Even as a small business, it might make sense to have offices (or even phone numbers) in different parts of the country or world to help improve search results in localized searches.

Beyond localized searches, search engines are continually looking for ways to drill down searches with results as individualized as possible. The new Google Personalized Search is just one example of this. Not only are search engines taking factors such as location into account when delivering results, they are also considering previous search history and other sites users have visited in the past. The reality is that, in many cases, no two searches will produce exactly the same results.

Because of concepts like personalized searches, it’s important to feature customized content. Microsites that are targeted to specific areas of interest, demographics or geographic regions are one way to do this. You might build a microsite for teens, or city and state pages for different parts of  the country. These sites also give places to post fresh content on a weekly or even daily basis — something that search engines like to see.

The bottom line is that basic SEO concepts are still critical, just not by themselves. In order for SEO campaigns to be truly effective they need to be paired with smart marketing campaigns that involve every aspect of a company’s online
brand.

Data Driven Blogging   Leave a comment

Maintaining a corporate blog has many business benefits; both for search engine optimization (SEO) and from a lead generation perspective:

-Publishing regular new content signals “freshness” and keeps search engines crawling your site on a regular basis.

-Blogging is a great way to rank for long-tail search queries and more informational queries for which sales pages are unlikely to rank; these queries often reveal a high degree of intent.

-Blogging fosters link-building because helpful, informative blog posts are more likely to attract natural editorial links than sales pages.

-Positioning yourself as an expert in your field builds industry authority, trust and the strength of your brand.

For these reasons and more, many companies have launched corporate blogs.
The most successful of them have large returning readerships (in addition to high
rankings) because they’re good at anticipating what their audience wants to read.
The best way to answer the question — what does your audience want? — is to use all the
data at your disposal to define your blog’s content and editorial calendar. This article will
outline a three-step strategy for using tools and analytics to build a steady stream of
content that will appeal to your readers and customers and help achieve high search
engine rankings.

1. Generating content ideas from keyword research                                                                                                                                    When launching a new blog with a topical focus, it’s a good idea to use keyword research tools to help create a framework of topics to cover. This foundational content will serve to establish your blog as an authoritative source of
information in the industry and on the chosen topic. For example: You own a kitchen supply company and have decided to launch a food blog. By researching food-related keywords, you can plan some of the basic topics your
writers will cover — this can also help define the major categories of your blog.

By researching “recipes,” you might notice a large volume of searches for “easy recipes”. This can be the focus of the new blog.

Drilling down further into that niche, outline some subcategories to tackle, such as:
• Easy chicken recipes
• Easy pasta recipes
• Easy dessert recipes
• Easy recipes for kids
• Easy Mexican recipes

Using simple keyword research, you have now established a focal point of the blog as well as generated several ideas to get started with and on which to focus optimization efforts. And, based on this research, you now know some of the topics most relevant to your target audience.

2. Using Keyword Referrals to Build Out the Editorial Calendar                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Once you’ve covered the basics on the blog, it’s time to start delving into analytics data to find more specific, long-tail keywords that are driving traffic to your website. This data is especially valuable because it’s private, personalized, and proprietary — these are real keywords that are bringing real people —customers and prospects — to your pages.

Go into your analytics application and look for referring keywords — the terms that people have entered into search engines that led them to your blog. You should find some interesting long-tail phrases that are relevant to your blog, but perhaps for which you haven’t yet created dedicated, targeted posts.

For example:
• How to make guacamole
• Easy recipe for chicken parmesan
• Quick birthday cake recipes

By tackling these phrases in new blog posts, you will capture more traffic in those niches from search engines, as well as provide even more specific, useful and link-ready content for your readers.

3. Using Traffic and Engagement Data to Optimize and Refine Your Strategies                                                            Don’t stop at using keyword tools and analytics data to inspire new blog posts. You can also use this data to go back and further optimize your existing blog content for search. Published posts are still valuable sources of new   traffic, links and leads even when they aren’t new. And, you can use your best-performing posts as models for creating new content that will have the most impact with your audience.

Here are some ways to use analytics data to optimize content and refine your direction:

• Check keyword reports for specific blog
posts — Are the keywords that are driving
traffic the ones that you optimized the page
for? Look for missed opportunities — are
there keyword variations you could go
back and include in the copy? Is your title
tag doing enough work?

• Pay attention to engagement, too —
Which blog posts have the most comments?
Which posts have low bounce rates or high
conversion and clickthrough rates? How
can you replicate those conditions?

• Look for patterns in your highest-traffic
and best-converting blog posts — Are
they how-to posts? Videos? What types of
posts get the most links? Do your readers
like longer posts or shorter posts? List-style
posts or articles? Learn from your own
mistakes as well as your own wins —
repeat what works and don’t waste time on
what doesn’t.

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