A common concern (or more accurately, misconception) amongst business owners is that Internet marketing is an unquantifiable or even abstract enterprise. Although any SEO would vehemently disagree and offer up a plethora of resources which serve to disprove such claims; there are still doubters.
So, how exactly does one measure the ROI of search engine optimization, social media marketing, public relations or any other aspect of online marketing? It all comes back to where SEO began – Google.
Before Google Analytics was first unveiled in 2005, there were only a handful of third-party traffic and conversion statistics reporting tools available on the Web. While some of these proved to be fairly effective, none have quite lived up to Google’s proprietary service. In fact, Google Analytics remains the most widely-used application of its kind to this day.
An SEO’s Best Friend: The Google Analytics Dashboard
Not only does Analytics provide advanced functionality for experts, but it delivers viable real-time data that business owners can understand and use to get more from their site and improve their bottom line. By tracking traffic sources, gathering visitor data and learning which pages on your site are receiving the most views, you’re able to not only improve conversion rates, but easily re-strategize your entire online marketing plan with relative ease, as well.
The Winds of Change
Traditional marketing and advertising initiatives are still effective for many businesses; however, determining the cost-benefit of these efforts is still a difficult process. Today, even some of the world’s largest and most recognized companies have turned to the Internet to increase their sales and utilize Analytics to boost their lead generation and conversion optimization efforts.
As more brands begin to hop on the digital marketing bandwagon, traffic and conversion reporting has become an even more valuable asset. With Google firmly maintaining its position at the forefront of the analytics game, the search engine that started it all is bringing it all back home by offering one of the single most useful tools for businesses.
Thanks to resources such as Google Analytics, much of the skepticism surrounding Search Engine Optimization is beginning to dwindle. With statistics reporting and tracking tools providing solid facts and definitive data to back the claims of marketers, one thing is evident – a strong online marketing plan is a necessity for virtually every business.
Over the years, link building has changed. Anonymity, once a tool of the trade, will no longer take you far. If you truly want a link building campaign to succeed, you need to stay two steps ahead of your competition and three steps ahead of Google.
No longer can you afford to do the bare minimum when building high quality backlinks. You need to make sure that your competitors cannot duplicate them. By building a relationship with a fellow website in your related industry niche, you will be able to reach out to an audience you were unable to before and receive a high quality backlink that will make Google give you goo-goo eyes. You’ll also leave your competitor wondering how you got that perfect link.
Outreach emails are one method of building relationships, but they can be tricky. So, for this Manager Monday, I thought I’d go over a few simple tips and tricks to make the job easier.
Let’s pretend you’ve done your research and have compiled the perfect list of websites you would like to reach out to in order for them to share your spectacular content.
First, let me start off by saying outreach isn’t easy. But it isn’t hard either. Below you can find a few tips that will hopefully improve your email-to-link ratio.
- First and foremost, make sure your email is free of spelling and grammatical errors. There is nothing worse than receiving an email that sounds like it was put together by a third grader–or worse. Also, if the language you use isn’t your native tongue, own up to it. There should be no shame in being multilingual.
- What’s in it for them? Let’s be honest here; no one does anything for free. So why should the recipient link to you? If you can’t answer that question then they won’t be able to either. Don’t assume that they will be able to connect the dots. Do it for them. Perfectly lay out what they will get in return.
- Personalize. Make each and every email as unique as possible. Does this take a little extra time? Definitely. But the results speak for themselves. There is no point in sending out 1,000 cookie-cutter emails if you don’t receive a single link in return. In this day and age, spam is everywhere. Make your email stand out by talking about previous posts the recipient has done or by mentioning something they said on one of their social media profiles. Show them that you did your research and it will greatly increase your chances in either a link back or the beginning of a relationship.
Outreach Tools to Make the Job Easier
Buzzstream manages all of your link building needs. If you are unorganized, like me, this will be extremely useful.
Rapportive via Gmail
Rapporative is a Gmail plugin to help you manage your contact information.
Boomerang via Gmail
Boomerang is an easy-to-use Gmail plugin that will help you schedule emails and reminders–nothing like reaching out for a linking opportunity and missing out on it because you forgot to follow up.
And That’s It
To wrap it up: do your homework, make sure you don’t sound like a third grader and tell them how they benefit. That’s it. Like I said earlier, outreach isn’t easy but it isn’t hard either. Let me know if you have any questions about the above tools in the comments!
Think of the world of content marketing like an aisle in a grocery store. Google is in charge of stocking the shelves, and they place the best products right where the shopper can see them. In the world of supermarkets, companies pay for that prime space. In the world of organic SEO, Google chooses the products that offer their “shoppers” the best value.
So, the question is, how do you offer the most value in a competitive environment? You present your products in a unique and engaging way. By being unique, your website can enjoy the equivalent of a showcase display at the front of the aisle.
Our marketing experts need the answer to two simple questions to get the ball rolling on an exciting and unique content marketing strategy:
1. Who is your target consumer base?
2. What do you offer your customers?
After these questions are answered, your onsite content needs to be reviewed to ensure you are at least providing the essential message your visitors are looking for. Your pages should be set up to offer the maximum convenience to your guest. Keywords and links will naturally find their way into the copy when written with this strategy in mind.
When users are unable to scan your website and determine if you have the information they are looking for within seconds, they are gone. And, if it is clear what you offer, your content better keep their attention with a great hook.
Hook ‘em with Humor
While there are several ways to hook your audience, one of the most overlooked avenues is humor. The Internet is about connectivity–people love to share something interesting or humorous with their friends and family. When your content has your customers saying, “You have to read this!” Google will recognize the value you offer searchers.
Of course, before you ever add humor to your webpages or daily blogs, you need to realize that humor is the seasoning to the informational steak. It’s okay to be funny when your core message is clear. When the two merge, your website can start turning readers into buyers.
Sometimes standing out from the crowd takes courage. Many businesses shy away from humor at the risk of being offensive. This is certainly understandable, but not all humor has to be so blue. For instance, think of Google. They once debuted Gmail Motion on April Fool’s Day. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a special occasion for Google to bring the funny. Think of all the different Google Doodles on their homepage that always provide sharable, buzz-worthy content. As long as humor is geared toward your user base and is sprinkled in with plenty of high-quality and informative copy, it can be a great way to separate your company from your competitors.
Utilizing humor through infographics or instructrographics is another great way to provide fun, sharable content for your social media campaigns. When you create something funny, promote it through your Facebook, Twitter and other social outlets. It will humanize your business and help potential customers build up some trust in your brand.
If humor isn’t an outlet your business can work with, don’t worry. When you inform, instruct, or relate to your audience in creative and valuable ways, it produces a relationship with your customers, and that’s the hook you need. Then, when SEO techniques bring in more traffic, your content can help reel in the sales.
The folks at Nielsen are pretty good at media market research and providing extensive (and more importantly accurate) data within various verticals including entertainment, advertising and recently, a growing industry which combines both: Social Media.
In this year’s Social Media Report which Nielsen released earlier today, a staggering statistic was revealed regarding social media usage – Americans collectively spent 121.1 billion minutes on social networks in July of 2012 alone!
Image Courtesy of Nielsen
According to the infographic published by Nielsen, 5.7 billion of those minutes were logged via mobile devices, 40.8 billion were through apps and somewhat surprisingly, 74 billion minutes were attributed to desktop/laptop users. Even more surprisingly, apps and PCs experienced significantly more growth in this sector than smartphones and tablets.
What’s less shocking is Facebook’s continued dominance in the social media industry. The world’s largest social network accumulated an average of over 300 million visitors per month this year. Facebook also proved to be the most engaging network in terms of audience retention, as users spent more time on the site than any networks such as Google+, Twitter or Pinterest.
Speaking of Pinterest, the up-and-coming, visually-appealing social startup has earned the title of Fastest Growing Network of 2012, having grown by over 1,000% since 2011. Blogger, Twitter, WordPress and LinkedIn were amongst the other top networks this year.
What do these stats mean for business owners? Most importantly, they’re an undeniable indicator of social media’s staying power and usefulness as a marketing tool. Every minute that a user spends on a networking site sharing, following and liking is another opportunity for businesses to achieve greater consumer awareness and gain new customers. With literally billions of minutes a month being spent on social media, those opportunities are virtually limitless.
Furthermore, these statistics show that while Facebook is the most obvious target for Social Media Optimization & Social Media Marketing campaigns, rapidly emerging networks like Pinterest are truly capable of gaining market share and getting noticed in the social media landscape and shouldn’t be overlooked as potential marketing platforms. The data speaks for itself: Social Media is a valuable resource for businesses and those not utilizing it are undoubtedly missing out on one of the world’s largest and most effective promotional outlets.
What are your thoughts on Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report? I’d like to know your thoughts on how social media marketing will change in the year ahead. Leave a comment below, send an email or a tweet with your opinions and insights on the future of Social Media!
At first glance, DuckDuckGo appears to be one of the most unlikely contenders to ascend to Google’s position as the world’s top search engine, but in reality, it may actually stand a pretty good chance in due time. The small, privately-held company based outside of Philadelphia in Paoli, PA has grown rapidly and garnered substantial attention from the public and press without a multi-billion dollar ad campaign, but instead by simply offering an interesting alternative to the competition.
DuckDuckGo’s business model emphasizes “better search”; which its developers have attempted to achieve by utilizing data obtained from Wikipedia and other crowdsourced sites to supplement results, eliminating user tracking and “personalized results” and even open sourcing parts of their code. DuckDuckGo’s radical departure from its competitors has also intrigued SEOs, with many wondering what fundamental differences and similarities exist between DuckDuckGo and Google from an SEO perspective. After conducting a few searches of my own, here’s what I learned about DDG’s algorithm:
Starting With the SERPs
When entered into both DuckDuckGo and Google, the term “WebiMax” yielded relevant (albeit, drastically different) results.
Perhaps the most curious omission from the above-the-fold results on DuckDuckGo is the WebiMax.com homepage. Interestingly enough, DuckDuckGo recognizes our Careers page and the Website Analyzer tool subdomain as being of greater relevancy. However, when the term “webimax” is entered into DuckDuckGo in all lowercase letters, WebiMax.com is the first result and the SERP looks significantly different. The emphasis on case-sensitivity within DuckDuckGo is important to note and clearly impacts rankings.
As I already mentioned, both search engines returned relevant results. Commonalities such as social media profiles, news articles and review sites were noticeable, indicating that like Google, DuckDuckGo also finds these to be highly relevant and authoritative sites.
Rich Content Within Universal Results
Unlike Google, DDG does not feature image or video packs on the SERP. This will be crucial for rich content producers and video SEO practitioners to consider when attempting to gain visibility within DuckDuckGo’s results.
The Bottom Line
DuckDuckGo is very similar to an early Google in its sheer simplicity and SEOs will need to take that into account when designing campaigns. I’m interested to see how DDG’s continuing evolution will affect its algorithm, but for now, there are discernible contrasts between both search engines and optimizers should definitely monitor their rankings closely on the up-and-coming Google challenger.
In recent years, mobile Internet usage has increased dramatically and smartphones, tablets and other mobile computing devices are now the primary point of connectivity for a rapidly growing mobile demographic. For Internet marketers, reaching this massive user base is essential in creating more effective campaigns.
In order to truly achieve optimal visibility throughout social media, developing mobile-friendly sites, pages and content are a must. With Facebook and Twitter ramping up their mobile advertising efforts, it has become easier for social media marketers to build campaigns which target tablet and smartphone users, but even with some help from the networks themselves, it is still important to fully understand the metrics of mobile online marketing.
The Big Difference
The most critical aspect to keep in mind when developing mobile-specific content is compatibility. Does your site have a design that looks good and loads quickly on a tablet or smartphone? Is your rich content mobile-friendly? If not, any pages or content shared throughout the mobile Web is virtually useless. Additionally, social media marketers can take full advantage of popular apps such as Instagram in order to generate more original content geared toward mobile users.
The impact of mobile device usage on social media campaigns is already being noticed and as new “must-haves” such as Apple’s iPad Mini, Google’s Nexus 7 and Microsoft’s Surface make their long-anticipated debuts this holiday season, the market is expected to grow even larger in the months ahead. Every social media marketer should pay attention to their mobile audience and understand the value of building campaigns with this ever-increasing demographic in mind.