Is Social Media Marketing Effective?

The return on investment of social media by MDGadvertising. This infographic also tells you what are the social media channels with the highest ROI figures according to marketers who actually measure their ROI. What do you think?

If you would like to discuss your social marketing needs in greater detail, give me a call @ 208.995.9437 or send me an email so we can discuss how I can help you. Free 1-hour consultation available. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

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A Lot of People Are Using Facebook

According to emarketer.com: Facebook usage has grown steadily in the past two years and will continue on a solid trajectory. eMarketer estimates that 132.5 million people in the US will be using the service this year; by 2013, that number will increase to 152.1 million. Read the rest of the story here …

Having an active presence on Facebook can have the potential to help you get found in the search engines. Setting up a Fan Page on Facebook therefore, should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. If you need assistance or have questions, please contact me at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com.

Posting Strategies on Facebook

An interesting article at emarketer.com for businesses regarding posting strategies that encourage feedback on Facebook. Companies should consider the day, time, and content when writing posts.

You can read the rest of the article here ….

If you or your company need help with your Facebook page or would like to discuss a strategy to ensure you are getting the most out of this powerful social networking tool then please give me a call at 208.598.0084 or email me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com.

 

Google’s Search Engine Ranking Factors

You would think that listing all the factors that Google uses to determine your ranking would be a near impossible task, right? Well, apparently not. Today we have your first sneak peek at the list of the almost 200 search engine ranking factors used by Google.

How did this list get started? Well, apparently Mr. Google, Matt Cutts, mentioned at a conference recently that there are over 200 variables in the Google algorithm. So the folks at the WebmasterWorld set themselves a challenge to list them all.

Here is what has been included so far:

Domain

  • Age of domain
  • History of domain
  • Keywords in domain name
  • IP address of domain
  • Location of IP address / Server

Architecture

  • HTML structure
  • Use of Headers tags
  • URL path
  • Use of external CSS / JavaScript files

Content

  • Keyword density of page
  • Keywords in Title Tag
  • Keywords in Meta Description (Not Meta Keywords)
  • Keywords in header tags (H1, H2 etc)
  • Keywords in body text
  • Freshness of content

Per Inbound Link

  • Quality of website inbound linking
  • Quality of web page inbound linking
  • Age of website
  • Age of web page
  • Relevancy of page’s content
  • Location of link (Footer, Navigation, Body text)
  • Anchor text of link
  • Title attribute of link
  • ALT tag of images linking
  • Country specific top level domain
  • Authority of top level domain (.edu, .gov)
  • Location of server
  • Authority links (CNN, BBC, etc)

Cluster of Links

  • Uniqueness of class C IP address

Internal Cross Linking

  • Number of internal links to page
  • Location of link on page
  • Anchor text of FIRST text link

Penalties

  • Over optimisation
  • Purchasing links
  • Selling links
  • Comment spamming
  • Cloaking
  • Hidden text
  • Duplicate content
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Manual penalties

Miscellaneous

  • JavaScript links
  • No follow links

Pending

  • Performance / Load of a website
  • Speed of Javascript

Misconceptions

  • XML Sitemap (Aids the crawler but doesn’t help rankings)
  • PageRank (General indicator of page’s performance)

If you have additional questions about getting your website ranked higher on Google and how important these factors are to helping your company get more exposure online please contact me and I will be more than happy to help. I can be reached at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com.

How Small Business Owners Can Get Started with Online Marketing

Small business owners don’t have the resources that larger businesses have, but in most cases they can move much more quickly.  They need  to take advantage of their ability to move quickly especially in regards to online marketing, but where do they start?

The first step is to get educated or find someone you trust to help you along the way (subliminal message -> think Matt Shifley).  Find a blog or two, like this one, to follow and pay attention to industry trends.  Making uneducated decisions can lead to money in the hole and wasted efforts.

Next, it’s important to prepare a strategy that works for your business.  Do you run a service business, e-commerce website, or retail store?  Do you need search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) or both to get targeted leads?  Get your campaigns going and enjoy the process of refining and optimizing.

One of the easiest steps to success that provides lasting results is to start a blog on your website.  WordPress is a great  starting point.  Even if you only update your industry specific blog once a month and you don’t get hundreds of comments it’s still providing great SEO value.  There are lots of great sites that allow you to submit your blog to their directory.  By doing this you gain a link to your website and set yourself up to get noticed.  More importantly, blogging helps show your passion for your business and allows you to express your expertise.

Another method that works well for some and wastes time for others is social media.  Twitter, Facebook, and community websites can be valuable ways to find prospects as long as you stay focused and don’t let the hours go by as you explore.  Setup accounts specific to your business and provide meaningful information about what you do best, your business.

Finally, plan on revisiting your campaigns regularly.  Dig into the numbers to see what’s working, what’s not and where you need to put more money.

And if you want to go the extra mile try podcasting or creating a video to put on youtube.

By putting time into all of these different methods you can spread a wide net and capture a larger client base.  And don’t forget, while you’re getting things done the big competitor down the street is still working it’s way through all the corporate red tape.

Please give me a call today at 208.598.0084 or contact me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.

The Advantages of Social Networking

A good article from the Search Engine Guide Blog demonstrating some of the benefits social media sites are providing for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs). Some of the most popular sites include Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, and YouTube however, it does not stop there as the list of sites is nearly an endless with new ones coming on board all the time. Even eBay and Netflix have jumped on the social bandwagon, allowing users to create social media profiles within their accounts. It probably won’t be too long before every site has some sort of social media or networking aspect built into it. This leads to the question of “what opportunities are available in this space to help SMBs?”

1. Branding Opportunities

In the same manner that it is important for companies to make sure they have all the various domain names that relate to their brand (.com, .net. .org, etc.), it is now becoming important for companies to make sure they secure their brand on social media sites – at least the popular ones. I wrote about this subject at the beginning of this year and made the following statement:

With all the social networking sites popping up everywhere, the idea of branding comes to mind. Sure there is the thought of how web sites can draw traffic from social networking sites, even sell product or services but in addition to that, what about protecting your brand before someone else beats you to it? This is especially important with respect to user names and unique URLs.

It was important back then and is even more important now. Typical with most social media sites, once you create a profile, you have a unique URL where you can access that profile. That URL, if you set it up correctly, will include your brand name (i.e. http://www.linkedin.com/in/searchrank, http://www.flickr.com/people/searchrank, etc.). The brand name is also used in the title tag of your profile. Why is this important? As I wrote in my last piece on social media, having a number of profiles spread out among various social media sites may help you to have better control over the first three pages of search results for your unique brand name. It also may help users of specific social media sites to find your company if they are actually looking for your brand. Finally, you keep competitors from sitting on your brand and/or people that may misrepresent your brand as I have seen in many cases.

2. Build Link Popularity

Websites essentially need three things if they are to experience good visibility in the search engines – 1.) good content, 2.) good SEO and 3.) good links. There are two ways to get links from other sites – naturally or pay (or beg) for them. Buying them is the easiest but due to Google’s recent declaration of war on paid links, they can fall prey to their big guns. So, natural is and always has been the best.

One way to obtain natural links is to link back to your original web site within the social media sites you set up. Many social media sites will allow you to include a blurb about yourself or your company and in many cases, add a link or links to your sites. Once you get these various social media profiles indexed, they will count as inbound links to your main site. You may even find it useful to include specific anchor text related to keyword phrases you wish to target and point them to pages that have been optimized for those same terms. The bottom line is that social media profiles create opportunities for natural links. Best of all, they’re free!

3. Attracting Traffic

Depending on the industry you are in, social media and networking sites can send quality traffic to your site. In one example, music and entertainment entities are successfully using MySpace to attract its millions of users. How many times have you seen movie URLs that are located on the myspace.com domain? Now if you manufacture and sell contemporary furniture, then you may not benefit much from MySpace traffic seeing its demographic is mostly comprised of youth but you may draw traffic from a photo sharing site like Flickr.

In another example, many companies are using YouTube to attract and drive traffic to their web site. BlendTec is a good case study of this with their “Will It Blend” videos, a series of short videos where they blend everything from golf balls to credit cards to even an iPhone in their industrial strength blenders. People just love to see stuff demolished and the videos have brought much attention to a blending product that many were unaware of prior to seeing the videos.

These are just a couple of many examples of how companies are utilizing social media to drive traffic to their sites. A good strategy is to select sites that are somehow specific to your industry and then let the creative juices flow. The bottom line is that just like millions of people are using search engines everyday, millions of people are using social media and networking sites as well. Creative marketers will discover ways to tap into these users in order to drive additional traffic to their web sites.

4. Interaction With the Public

The reason why it is called “social” is because it allows web users to socialize or interact with each other. This has been one of the biggest fears keeping small to medium sized business from embracing social media – the transition from “talking to” customers to “interacting with” customers. SMBs may be afraid that someone is going to talk about their businesses and it may not always be favorable. If this is your fear then I have news for you –  consumers are already talking so you might as well join the conversation.

Having the ability to interact with consumers is not just about dealing with bad mojo but also taking advantage of social media to bring further attention to products, services, company news or even put a personal face on the company. I reveal personal things all the time about myself and my company and have received numerous compliments from clients stating that they feel more comfortable doing business with us due to the fact that they now know something personal about us.

5. Networking Opportunities

A final reason how SMBs can benefit from social media is the networking opportunities. Trying to be the lone ranger of your industry is not always the most productive way of running your business. Personally, I have discovered many benefits from networking with others in my industry and getting well connected. Many social networking mediums offer opportunities to join specific groups of interest where you can then interact with like-minded people. Facebook is a great example of this – not only can you join groups, you can create new ones, add events and even build interactive applications that run within the Facebook environment.

For me, many of the social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others, have allowed me to develop numerous relationships which are not only beneficial in day to day operations, but especially rewarding when attending industry conferences. The conference becomes more like a family reunion than a boring, uninvolved trade show.

Please give me a call today at 208.598.0084 or contact me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet …

that is indeed a question some of you may have been asking yourself since it seems like everyone and their third cousin from their Mother’s side is on Twitter. But is this social networking phenomenon right for you? Well ultimately it is up to you and how you want to leverage Twitter. Do you want to meet new people? Follow businesses or columnists? Increase the exposure of your business? Or just want to be part of the in crowd? Whatever you decide here are some reasons that a lot of the experts think Twitter should matter to you and can be an effective online marking tool:

1. Personal Branding. Twitter is a social media platform you can use to build your personal brand. It has the primary benefit of developing a casual persona and establishes you as a social personality that is connected and approachable.

2. Get Feedback. Need an alternative perspective on how a website looks or the right course of action to take? Blast out a message asking for advice and you’ll receive replies from other users. This collective intelligence can be used as fodder for articles or projects.

3. Hire People. Need a good logo designer, marketer or programmer? Send out a message asking for recommendations. This is a very quick and easy way to hire freelancers or even companies based on familiar recommendations.

4. Direct traffic. Twitter can be used to get traffic to your websites or the sites of friends. If you ask your friends to tweet about it, the message will spread faster and further as other active users pick it up. There is a viral nature to all types of news, even on a site like Twitter.

5. Read News. Twitter users often link to useful sites or articles and can be a source of scoops and alternative news. You can also subscribe to Twitter feeds for specific websites/conferences, which allows you to receive and view content quickly. This is very useful for active social news participants.

6. Make New Friends. Like any other social network, Twitter has a built-in function for you to befriend and track the messages of other users. This is an easy way for you connect with people outside of your usual circle. Make an effort to add active users you find interesting. A Twitter acquaintance can be developed into a long lasting friendship.

7. Network for benefits. Twitter can be used as a socializing platform for you to interact with other like-minded people, especially those in the same industry. It can be used to establish consistent and deeper relationships for future benefits such as testimonials or peer recommendations.

8. Business Management. Twitter can be used as a company intranet that connects employees to one another. Workers can liaise with each other when working on group projects. Particularly useful when certain workers go out often in the field. Updates could be set to private for security reasons.

9. Notify Your Customers. Set up a Twitter feed for the specific purpose of notifying customers when new products come in. Customers can subscribe via mobile or RSS for instant notification. Twitter can also be used to provide mini-updates for one-on-one clients.

10. Event Updates. Businesses can use Twitter as a means to inform event participants and latest event happenings/changes. This is a hassle-free way of disseminating information, especially when you don’t have the means to set up a direct mobile link between you and the audience

11. Find Prospects. Twitter can be used as a means to find potential customers or clients online. Do a search for keywords related to your product on Twitter Search and then follow users. Tweet about topics parallel to your product and close prospects away from public channels by using direct messages or offline communications. Discretion and skill is needed in this area.

12. Provide Live coverage. Twitter’s message size limit prevents detailed coverage of events but it can allow you to provide real-time commentary which may help to spark further discussion or interest on the event as other Twitter users spread the message. Very useful for citizen journalism.

13. Set Up Meetings. Twitter can help you organize impromptu meetups. For example, you can twitter a message while at a cafe, event or art gallery and arrange to meet fellow users at a specific spot. It’s an informal and casual way of arranging a meeting.

Please give me a call today at 208.598.0084 or contact me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.