The last two weeks have been an incredibly stressful time for every web-focused company. Between Facebook’s recent woes concerning its IPO and General Motors pulling out of its in-network marketing, there’s been more than a little bit of uncertainty in the SEO and online marketing communities as of late. Many of our readers no doubt have their own growing concerns over the state of all-things social media and search engine-related. While current events may have everyone second guessing the viability of their social network strategies, in truth there is no reason to panic.
What about Facebook?
Anyone who watches major news network programming or reads the latest headlines will be familiar with the immense amount of criticism falling on Facebook at the moment. Over the course of the last seven days, Facebook’s underwhelming stock performance has led to a lot of serious questions regarding the effectiveness of the company’s in-network ads as well as whether its mobile efforts will pay off in the end. It’s gotten to the point where even notable SEO experts are making similar inquiries.
Although Facebook’s future is uncertain, that doesn’t mean that businesses should shy away from the social media site here and now. Many of the arguments taking place between pundits over Facebook are based on speculation, and the possible outcomes of these predictions won’t come to pass for months or years to come. While it’s easy to fall prey to the sort of fear-mongering that is common to network television, small business owners need to remember that FB will continue to be a valuable asset to their online marketing efforts.
How is that Done?
If anything, companies operating on Facebook should be focusing less on their in-network PPC campaigning and more on building up a solid social media following. The world’s most popular social network recently hit the 900 million user mark, and this milestone shouldn’t go ignored. In particular, business owners will want to remain dedicated in their efforts to expand the size of their follower base while simultaneously engaging those users that subscribe to their news feeds. This can be done in a number of ways:
- Search for groups or organizations that may share interests that match what your company specializes in. Do what you can to interact with their members and gain their attention.
- Post original and interesting content that is worth reading. This can be done by posting links to blogs and other company properties that may host these materials.
- Comment on breaking industry news that has everyone talking. Users will often take the time to add their thoughts to these posts if they are asked for their opinion.
Despite Facebook’s current predicament, the fact is that the social network still has every bit of impact it had before the company went public. The only difference is the amount of discussion taking place at the moment. Should readers have any additional questions or comments regarding their Facebook operations, they can contact me directly at email@example.com.
Although social media users swap countless IMs and posts across PCs and laptops every month, most people fail to realize the amount of direct messaging that takes place between mobile device owners through those same social networks. According to a blog published just a few days ago on the New York Times website, a number of recent studies all point to the conclusion that social media apps are quickly replacing standard phone SMS as a primary form of mobile communication. One particular report states that the amount of text messages relayed by cellphone owners in the Phillipines on a monthly basis has decreased by more than a third from 2010 to 2011 (down to 400 texts from around 660).
Yet, what does this all mean to the standard small to medium-sized business owner? Well, aside from the obvious fact that Facebook and Twitter are quickly replacing traditional phone texting, it’s important to recognize the ever-increasing need for a strong social network presence in the business world. As conversations continue to take place in greater frequency between social media users, companies want to be a part of that dialogue more than ever. It’s one thing to have a prominent link on a Facebook page or Twitter feed, but becoming a talking point in these back-and-forth messages is even more worthwhile.
Maintain an Undeniable Network Presence
Often a luxury exclusive to multi-million dollar corporations, wide-scale recognition on social networks is considered by many business analysts to be the ultimate goal of any social media optimization. At the end of the day, once the ad campaign is over and the dedicated bloggers, tweeters and status updaters have gone to bed, a business owner wants to rest easy knowing that all that hard work is still finding traction. While getting to this point can take months – or even years – of hard work, getting a campaign started on the right foot can make all the difference.
For the best social media results, small business owners and experienced marketers alike need to remain active when seeking out target demographics. By searching for interest groups, watching how the competition approaches their own campaigns, keeping up with industry-related news and always staying active with posts, a social media listing can establish the follower base and ongoing attention it needs to succeed. A dedicated effort on social networks can eventually establish one’s brand across a wide audience and keep traffic going to a page consistently.
Earn, and Keep, the Attention of Potential Followers
Getting communities on social networks to notice a company is not unlike being the center of attention at a party. Although companies can end up handling thousands of followers at a time, getting people to engage a business takes the right approach. Aside from constantly posting new blog content via Facebook and other social media outlets, companies can also remain relevant on social networks by interacting directly with users. In particular, running a contest is a fantastic way to get new followers to jump onto a business’ social network feed. Raffles and community-driven competitions for consumer goods and various leisure items often provide great incentives.
Of course, it can be difficult to secure these users once a contest has ended. Should a business try to use giveaways to bolster its online following, it’s important that it attempts to continually engage these new followers outside of the contest itself. A social media campaign manager should always try to ask questions and for feedback, do community spotlights or even feature posts from social media users. This type of community response rewards users for being actively involved with a company and provides a solid way to keep people following.
Supplement Social Network Activity with even more Activity
While the old adage of “less is more” certainly applies to social media campaigns, businesses still want to make sure their voices are heard. Although one should take care in not turning away users through excessive posting and in-your-face advertising, it’s a smart move to supplement campaign efforts through additional social networks. In particular, Twitter is an excellent avenue through which companies can spread additional links and updates for their other social media assets while not overwhelming followers on other networks.
Maintaining a strong presence in social media conversations is a true challenge that offers as many rewards as it does obstacles. Should readers have any further questions regarding the right practices for social media success, I can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Among all the various search engines for which SEOs develop, it’s Google that time and time again gets the most attention from online marketing firms. Between continual updates to its search algorithm and ongoing releases for new user apps, the world’s biggest search engine company has truly become a force to be reckoned with. While competitors may try to get the edge on the company, Google’s current market share puts it well ahead of the pack.
According to a recent survey from comScore, Google controls over two-thirds of the search engine market at this point. Following in second and third place are Microsoft and Yahoo which saw around 15% of the average monthly search engine traffic each. While even a small percent of several hundred million users is nothing to scoff at, Bing and other search engine activity just pale in comparison to Google’s current user base. It’s because of this immense number of monthly users that small business owners need to focus on becoming better ranked in the Google SERPs.
Getting Friendlier with Google
It’s a given that a company will want to have a strong showing on Google’s result pages, but not everyone has the sort of SEO-focused behaviors in place necessary to rank highly. Although search engine-friendly website development and original content generation are top priorities for many web-savvy companies, most businesses drop the ball when it comes to establishing themselves with trending Google keywords and topics.
The Right Keywords at the Right Time
While it’s incredibly difficult for anyone to know for certain what needs to be done for a page to secure the number one SERP spot on Google, many internet advertisers recommend timely keyword selection for their clients’ websites. Since programs such as Google Webmaster Tools allow anyone to look up trending search terms and popular keywords, optimizing a webpage’s focused terms towards more effective ones is quite easy.
If a business owner finds that certain terms relevant to his or her industry are tracking better than others, improving a site’s ranking may be as simple as substituting a handful of keywords. Of course, it’s important to remember to never implement irrelevant keywords. More than ever, Google is cracking down on those sites that try to improve their rankings through keyword stuffing. SMB owners should only put in popular keywords when they are 100% relevant to the page’s existent content.
A Sociable Relationship with Google
As time goes on, Google+ is playing an increasingly more pivotal role in the company’s search engine. A few months ago, Google rolled out “Search, plus your World,” an initiative that includes content from Google+ in the main search engine results for those network users who are logged in. Due to Search+, more companies are becoming involved with the company’s social network in hopes that it will help their presence in the SERPs.
While the effectiveness of a strong Google+ campaign in yielding better traffic through organic rankings is still unproven, it’s something that many companies are actively pursuing. Even if activity on Google+ doesn’t result in significantly better SERP showings, the social media strength gained through a successful campaign on the network is still worth the while. Since Google+ is very much an up-and-coming social media network, more businesses should try to establish themselves on it to begin with.
As long as Google maintains its current growth and overall success, it will continue to be a major player in the SEO community. As such, it’s vital that businesses focus on the search engine as the primary source of their organic linkbuilding efforts. Should readers have any questions regarding how to get Google to notice their company, I can be contacted at email@example.com for information.
Many of us in the internet advertising industry have been praising up and down the supposedly limitless potential of Pinterest for months now. As an up-and-coming social network with millions of followers on Facebook alone, the social media site has come up in many discussions since it went into its beta phase. Yet, while it has quickly become a popular talking point for social marketing conjecture, Pinterest is still a relatively unknown website for many business owners.
At its core, Pinterest is all about a single idea: the posting (or “pinning,”) and sharing of images. The website allows users to take photos they find on nearly any site (with a few exceptions) and then upload them to the network. Images can then be shared between albums, categorized and commented on by other users. All this is made quite simple through an intuitive interface and a readily available “pin it” toolbar button supplied by the site itself.
Why is it such a Big Deal?
Quicker than any other social network around today, Pinterest has already earned a strong user base and sees regular activity from a large majority of its members. Due to the website’s ease of use and casual approach to content generation, Pinterest experiences constant traffic and has been growing rapidly month by month. Recent surveys have also shown that the social media site has a very strong female user base that is extremely active.
What can Pinterest Do for Me?
The big thing about Pinterest that many search engine marketers focus on is that large female audience. Since most social networks have a very diverse demographic of users, it can be quite difficult to lock down users when marketing through these sites. Although social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter get tons of exposure, advertisers often have a difficult time getting the attention of the users they want.
Between both its constant user activity and core demographic, Pinterest has the potential to deliver marketing directly to active female users. This means that advertisers who specialize in the products or services women want will see better results out of their work.
How Do I Use Pinterest?
Despite the fact that Pinterest is still in a closed-beta phase, getting on the site is as easy as registering on the homepage and waiting a day or two. Although the team at Pinterest disallows active advertising efforts (at least until they get their own ad program up, no doubt), that doesn’t mean that a company can’t use the site for improving its brand recognition. The following are just a few ways businesses should use Pinterest:
- Upload your original media assets. A while back, I went over some excellent techniques for obtaining original visual content. I recommend that businesses take a look at that blog post and use the tips found there-in to get some great shots of their company and staff.
- Become involved with other users. One shouldn’t openly market or advertise his or her company, but interacting with potential followers will help build connections between various members of the site. This helps ensure that image uploads relating to a company will get the exposure they need.
- Place “pin it” buttons among your company’s social media share options. In the past few months, major online retailers Amazon and Ebay actually added Pinterest share buttons to their product pages. This allows users to immediately post photos to their Pinterest account along with links going back to the product page. Other companies can do the same for their sites or purchasable items as well.
These tips aside, it’s important to remember that Pinterest is still very much a new site. Since it has yet to go fully live to the public, there is always the possibility that the phenomenon that is the site’s popularity may dissipate well before it breaks into the mainstream. Should readers have any additional questions regarding the matter, I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Companies that conduct the majority of their business on the internet are always fighting an uphill battle to gain loyal fans and regular website visitors. With many industries experiencing an overcrowded marketplace and unprecedented levels of brand saturation, small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners are trying to gain that most desired of customer values: trust. Aside from the strength of their online presence, many large corporations have an easier time attracting internet shoppers due to simple brand recognition which lends itself to trustworthiness. When faced with an unknown mom-and-pop retailer and a company that has twenty years of advertising power behind it, there’s no doubt that the average person will choose to conduct business with the more well-known store.
So then, how does a SMB owner manage to gain the trust and patronage of online customers? Well, as many SEO and social media companies tell their clients, the first step towards gaining a strong online customer base is to work towards building up one’s brand. Simply put, the more well-recognized business will always have a considerable edge over those companies that hold far less clout. In order to create a business that people will flock to, SMB owners need to make their company name not only trusted, but also a prevalent entity on the World Wide Web.
Become a Certified Online Business
One mistake that many start-up businesses make when getting started is forgoing extensive certification. Although it’s a sad truth of the digital world, there are countless spammers and fraudulent companies around today that masquerade as legitimate businesses. Fortunately, online shoppers have become significantly more savvy and careful regarding their online habits. Every potential customer a SMB will see will undoubtedly be looking for signs that a website can be trusted before committing to a purchase. If an online business lacks a certain amount of certification, then wary shoppers will go elsewhere.
Aside from the requisite official channels for certification, small business owners will want to become as thoroughly guaranteed to be ethical and legit for site visitors. One excellent avenue for certification is through the Google Trusted Stores program. By submitting one’s company through this Google program, the business will receive a report card that will help ease shoppers’ minds and gain their trust. As an added bonus, Google is gradually implementing Trusted Store badges onto its AdWords results. This means that your company’s future PPC campaigns will appear on Google’s SERPs with a stamp of approval for everyone to see.
Popularity is a Sign of Trust
When someone who is unfamiliar with a business recognizes that company as a dominant force in social media, it speaks highly of their online presence. While earning a follower base numbering in the thousands can be a true challenge to any SMB owner, getting to that level of exposure can be made much easier through the right social media behaviors. Those companies looking to expand their social network influence should look into the following techniques:
- Work together with other established businesses to get a leg-up. If a company is just getting started on Facebook or Google+, it should be turning to preexisting follower bases for potential “likes” or subscriptions. Company owners should never hesitate to seek out partnerships or mutual deals with other companies on social media sites. This will grow a following much faster than otherwise.
- Once it’s begun to garner a respectably-sized follower base, a company should always be engaging users on a regular basis. By posting interesting or timely content, any business can keep its followers paying attention to its feed. An important note: posters should remember to pace themselves. Diluting a user’s stream with never-ending updates is a surefire way to lose their following.
- Always remain active in your social network proliferation. As any social media company will tell you, ignoring other networks in favor of big names such as Facebook leads to stagnation. Should follower growth begin to decline, consider switching some of your focus elsewhere. Twitter in particular is an excellent place to accrue new loyal customers.
As a business’ online following grows, so too will the ease of which users come to trust that company and recognize it as a respectable place to shop. With trust comes frequent and loyal customers, and it’s those people that will lead to consistent and steady sales. Should any SMB owner have any further questions about how to improve their brand recognition and trustworthiness, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
How did you find this post? Is WebiMax doing a good job branding? (You knew to come straight to the site). Did you come from one of the search engines? “SEO company” (as well as related derivations) is a WebiMax keyword, meaning we assume you use the term to find our services on the Web. Is that the case? Guess what? We help in multiple ways regarding social media, Web design, public relations, reputation management, etc. Take a look at our services. Do we consider it all marketing? Is it all SEO? Is it all branding? What do YOU think?
Rand Fishkin posted on SEOmoz today, regarding branding SEO and how “we” (on the inside) refer to the industry as well as (your) public perception of search engine optimization. I’m glad he posted because it’s a conversation those “in” the industry can benefit from. What is your perception of the industry?
“Time may change me…” The industry is going through some growing pains. We don’t need Alan Thicke to counsel us through the process; we just need to ease our anxieties regarding how you, those seeking our services, refer to us.
Technology and broadened-business opportunities have changed the ‘landscape’ of the field from the ‘inside’ out.
Two, great observations about the change:
I get it; you’re probably not like me (being outside the industry and within your own respective field). (Maybe) you don’t regularly read industry literature. I do. Guess what? It’s my responsibility to provide YOU with info from the inside; so, service seekers better understand how a range of services can help them.
Just as I typed, it’s our responsibility to educate our target market, our consumers. I invite every business reader to please be diligent in realizing the change. It’s happened; it’s happening; it will continue. Be a good consumer as we endeavor at being good providers; read about old, new, and evolving services. Do you have a question? Please ask someone. Don’t harbor confused, dated, or limited views. You’re doing our industry and your business a huge disservice. We’re here (people in SEO) to help you build your brand; but before that, we must ensure you completely understand who we are and what we do.
I’ve learned to be a humble guy; I’ve been a brat in my time. I often ‘catch’ myself employing assumptions, making an Equus asinus asinus out of myself. I can admit it. You’re all wiser than me; I know B2B consumers are savvy. Your business is important. Your reputation is important. You would not partner with questionable providers or practices, those who harm the industry and YOU as consumers, those who deviate from informing and applying best practices, those who helped engineer SEO ‘folklore’ and misunderstandings.
I’m asking you to help us so we can better help Y.O.U. Please participate.