Many businesses jump on the social media bandwagon for no other reason than because someone told them they need to be doing it. While that may be true, it’s kind of like being told you should stop at the gas station but not knowing if it’s because you need to get gas, grab a quick snack, or use the restroom! (more…)
Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category
What kind of first impression do you create, when people find you online?
I often follow links from Twitter and Facebook to small business websites and blogs. A lot of the time, these sites look amateur, dated or both. No matter how good the actual services offered by these businesses are, their shoddy Internet presence means most people won’t take them seriously! Prospective clients arrive, see a low quality site and instantly build a negative initial impression of that person or business.
I am not the kind of guy that can predict future shifts in organizational business models or trends in social media like my two colleagues Steve Rubel and David Armano. And, I am clearly not as smart as some of the other awesome people I work with at Edelman.
One thing I am pretty good at though is building community. I have been doing it for many years and for many different brands. And, I can only share insights about what is working today. And what works today may or may not necessarily work tomorrow, so please take this with a grain of salt.
Operating an online business has a lot of advantages over brick and mortar shops. But, contrary to what many believe, being online is not the holy grail of business success. Brick and mortar stores have been successful, to varying degrees, for millennia. Comparatively, the web is barely a twinkly in Al Gore’s eye.
Unfortunately, many would-be business owners plunge ahead in this new marketplace as if it were some magic beans that will suddenly grow into a giant money tree. To be fair… for some, it has. But for the most part, these online business successes are rooted in the old-school business brick and mortar business philosophies. What has changed are the methods of marketing and advertising used to generate new and repeat business.
There have been significant changes in how Google Place Pages are shown in the SERP’s (search engine results pages).
I am not here to confuse SMB’s (small and medium business) owners and marketers with the gory details. You can go to this very extensive and excellently presented post by Greg Stirling at Search Engine Land. It will be a lot to digest especially if you are relatively new to this space but it’s good to take in.
When I was first starting in Internet marketing, one of the first books I read was Permissive Marketing by Seth Godin. The point of this book was that customers who give you permission to market to them are more valuable than those you have to interrupt, and you shouldn’t abuse that trust. One of the second lessons came from adsense, which showed how ads that were integrated into the copy always performed better than those placed outside of the copy.
While this is something I integrate into my projects, there are a lot of media companies that don’t. For example, here is a screen shot of the New York Times on the iPad. Notice the banner placed in the bottom of the page outside of the text.
What happens with the app: during your second story, an interstitial ad appears (which was never clicked on), getting in the way of reading the desired story. This, I’m sure, results in a low engagement. Last week, they made a change. Although the banner is still at the bottom and you still get the interstitial, they added a new format embedded in the text … And, even though I wasn’t the target market, I clicked the ad …
Interestingly, the ad directs you to an in app landing page with options…
…followed by a browser landing page where you could make a purchase.
So what is the takeaway from this?
- Use a service like Crazyegg (disclosure: they are an advertiser) or Google multi variant testing to experiment with ad placement.
- Try placements inside of the content at the top, middle, or bottom.
- Stay away from advertising that interrupts or blocks users from getting to the content they really want.
You don’t need a website to practice SEO. Depending on what your goals are, you can present yourself and your business to interested parties by using SEO principles and understanding a few things about how search engines work. In fact, there are several places you can get noticed for little or no money, and by using some simple optimization techniques you can piggyback off the trust of someone else’s site to achieve your objectives.
Nicheworks are highly coveted or soon will be as no brand is an island. Attention and interests are focused within social streams and as individuals are empowered to define their online experiences, connecting the dots proves pivotal. If conversations are markets, nicheworks represent the glue that binds disparate conversational ecosystems. And through effective engagement, we make inroads towards community and being the construction of bridges between our brand and each desirable market.
While many creative initiatives find their way into social networks extemporaneously, it is the intentional and manual act of linking content to new and traditional influencers. This, for the moment, is the most genuine and authentic way to demonstrate intent and drive awareness and activity among the very people we’re hoping to reach and galvanize directly within the communities where their attention is focused.
Hybrid Theory Explained
Hybrid Theory is the fusion of creative and communications, combining earned and paid media to enliven ideas, unite communities, amplify stories and spark desired outcomes. It unites marketing, advertising, service, and public relations (note: not PR) with engagement and digital influence. This is about applying influence to rouse response where attention is focused. As such, Hybrid Theory requires a cross-breed of communications professional, one not tainted by the acts of storytelling through press releases or communicating through mass messaging and broadcasting. This new breed of communications professional essentially becomes the influencer they wish to engage through the embodiment of what I call the “5I’s,”an evolution of the 3I’s introduced by Forrester Research in its Future of Agencies Report.
The 5I’s are rooted in peer-to-peer networking where the individuals with whom they connect are viewed as equals and conversely, those making contact are qualified as worthy of attention.
In a conversation several years ago with Doc Searls, Chris Heuer, Robert Scoble, among others, Searls described social media as the “live web.” It’s a name that resonated and is now a fully-realized prophesy. Indeed, this live web has evolved into a hyperactive conversation ecosystem that encourages and rewards real-time content creation, collection, and distribution. As social consumers, we willfully drink from the firehose and as such, Hybrid Theory introduces the strategies and means necessary to not only compete for the moment, but also inspire a more vested form of participation that fosters presence and affinity.
If we were to visualize the 5I’s into a workflow for Hybrid Theory, everything would begin with intelligence and the data necessary to inspire insight, innovation, and a corresponding action plan that officially brings creative to life. It is during this process that influential voices who reach and influence other individuals within our desired markets surface.
Ideas are then tested against an influence filter to gauge the viability of meaningful vs. promotional engagement. As such, channel diversity is then explored to chart effective courses for direct connections and the social objects commensurate with conversations within each. Concepts are then transformed into campaigns, stories are packaged as social objects and highly personalized social hubs are constructed to host, define and steer the user experience.
As the campaign goes live in its respective mediums, the hybrid team is then tasked with optimizing content for search in traditional search engines and also social networks. This form of inbound marketing, speaks for the program when consumers seek out related content outside of proactive outreach. Once optimized, social objects are then syndicated through all channels previously identified to reach our audiences and prospective participants as they search for relevant content.
But, it is the last mile where our connections with influential people brings our campaigns to life. This is where we connect the brand, its persona, its mission and purpose, and extend value to our consumers and the markets they represent. It is how we engage and with whom that defines the reach, velocity, and ultimately the resonance of our campaign. And, it is our participation that either credits or debits our social capital.
The state of brands in social networks is measured by the multiple axes of resonance and fortified by the relationships we earn and the actions we merit. Hybrid Theory introduces a human framework that marries best-in-class attributes of data analysis, sociology, advertising, marketing, communications, and service to connect people and brands through relevance, empathy, and empowerment.
Without relevance, we cannot trigger resonance, and without resonance, we cannot establish significance in social media.
There’s a game of telephone going on about a hundred different theories of Search Engine Optimization and the influences or signals that affect search visibility. One that I continue to hear revolves around the notion that search engines like fresh content. I’m sure the genesis was something like: Someone told someone else at a conference and they posted it to a forum where someone read and blogged it and then someone else Tweeted it whereupon someone else blasted it via Ping.fm and Hootsuite. This sort of cycle repeats over and over again.