We’ve all heard that increasingly common search marketing mantra, “content is king.” It certainly sounds nice, and if it was true, it could really be a wonderful thing, because it suggests that all you need to have a well-performing, highly ranking and highly converting site is to treat people the way they want to be treated and give them an awesome site to experience.
Now, I am not Matt Cutts and I am not omniscient, but I do know this: Content is not king. And here’s how I know this: I can point to innumerable instances of poorly written, ugly, blatantly spammy pages ranking well for keyphrases that they did not “deserve” to rank for. And these nasty, thin, worthless pages far outnumber (even post-Panda) instances where beautiful, engaging pages that just focus on “building a community” and “great content,” but do not have strong ranking signals, rank well. (more…)
Throughout my career in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it has come to my attention that many believe SEO success begins and ends with “good SEO.” Although vague, this may have been the case in the early days of SEO. But due to Google’s algorithm evolving and advancing so quickly over past years, a successful SEO campaign not only requires white hat SEO techniques, but is also dependent upon the engagement of many other marketing teams and experts, such as the following:
Let’s take a closer look at the roles that each of these individuals play in the execution of a successful SEO campaign, as well as the responsibilities of an SEO Expert. (more…)
Last year’s most-talked about Super Bowl ad was undeniably VW’s ad with a little boy dressed as Darth Vader. For the few of you out there who haven’t seen it, said little boy walks around dressed like Vader, “The Imperial March” playing in the background, trying to use The Force to start random household objects. He finally “succeeds” by starting his dad’s 2012 VW Passat. (more…)
Social media trends come and go, but as online marketers, it’s crucial that we stay on top of them. Like a rolling snowball, social media is only growing bigger and bigger and seems to swallow anything that crosses its path. We know it should be a critical part of our integrated marketing campaigns, but what exactly should we expect to see come 2012?
Gaining Leads from Social Media Outlets
As more information becomes available on social media sites, users will be spending the majority of their time on Facebook, Twitter and the like. Consequently, users will turn to social media to learn more about their favorite brands and what they have to offer. Marketers expect to see improved social analytics that will provide them with more detailed information about their social ROI and how social fits in the conversion funnel.
It will be imperative for marketers to not only produce more social content describing their products and services, but produce meaningful content that will create leads. Blasting a survey or a question to your fans won’t be enough. As social media grows, your fans will become overwhelmed with information being spouted by their favorite brands. Your social content must be both useful and compelling to grab and keep the attention of your fans.
Social on Other Devices
What devices? You guessed it—mobile and tablets. The word “mobile” is being passed around a lot when it comes to speculating 2012 trends, but what does it mean to you as a digital marketer? It means content will be (and should be) targeted to mobile users. And it would be wrong to ignore the renowned tablet. As the variety of tablets increase and prices decrease, more consumers will be drawn to using tablets in place of their laptops or desktops. Marketers can prepare for this by creating content that is quick and easy to access. With more users turning to mobile, start adapting your social content for smaller screens. Bloggers would be wise to shorten the length of their blog posts, and it would behoove social marketers to stay away from flash.
However controversial, frictionless sharing is likely to grow in 2012. It’s the automatic sharing of content from news sites and music sites such as Spotify, and word is more companies will integrate with Facebook’s Open Graph. Here’s what Facebook has to say on their developer’s page:
“We are now extending the Open Graph to include arbitrary actions and objects created by 3rd party apps and enabling these apps to integrate deeply into the Facebook experience.”
What does it mean? It means frictionless sharing is only going to grow. Users don’t have to hit a button or paste a link onto their wall anymore; it’s the easiest form of sharing that Facebook can devise (so far).
TV + Social
Turn on your TV and you won’t be able to avoid the calls to action propelled by social. At the bottom of the screen, hash tags compel viewers to tweet about the show, and already dozens of shows incorporate Twitter and Facebook into their programming. Shows such as The Voice use Twitter and Facebook to collect public opinion on an array of topics, making the audience a major factor in their planning. The use of social in TV programming will grow immensely within the next year, and social media crowdsourcing will reach a whole new level. The key to using this successfully is to listen to your audience and take what they have to say into consideration. Implement their feedback into your marketing campaigns.
What other trends do you think will arise in the next year?
We hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving, ate lots of turkey, watched some great football (well, if you root for certain teams or like football) and found some excellent Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.
The holiday treats don’t stop there, though–as our thanks to you, we’re giving you our white paper on personas. For free. Okay, so all of our white papers are free, but free is always the best price, right?
At any rate, we hope you enjoy our latest white paper Personas: The Online Marketing Secret Weapon.
White paper description: Personas are fictional representations of typical users, well known in the development community but not as well known in online marketing circles. That’s a mistake, because Personas can be your secret weapon in optimizing your online marketing campaigns and improving your ROI. This white paper will provide you with the details you need to implement Personas in your marketing campaigns. You will learn what a Persona is (and isn’t), how to create a Persona, and how to implement that Persona in optimization of landing pages and websites. Armed with this information, you will be able to use Personas to optimize your online marketing efforts, increase conversions and improve your ROI.
Download the white paper now, and feel free to leave comments regarding your experience with personas. Do you know what they are? Do you use them at all? Do you need help figuring out who your target personas are and how to effectively implement them? Leave your comments below!
If you missed our webinar on Wednesday, you missed a great one. “Persona Non Grata: The Online Marketing Secret Weapon” was chock full of need to know info regarding personas, including a statement that should be obvious to most marketers, but that I think all of us forgot from time to time: “More effective communications leads to increased sales.”
“What does communicating effectively have to do with personas?” you ask. It has EVERYTHING to do with personas.
See, personas allow us to better understand our target audience, the tasks they are trying to complete, their pain points, and how they interact with our company’s website and content. Knowing those things allows us to better design our site, create better content that’s much more direct in its purpose, and to essentially create an emotional connection between ourselves and the person on our website. And as all marketers know, creating that emotional connection is super important to getting that person to pick up the phone or fill out a contact form, thus getting them into our sales funnel.
Craig went over a lot more in the webinar, too, and I highly suggest you view it when you get a chance. And as always, feel free to leave your thoughts/questions regarding personas, or contact us if your company needs help developing their personas.
The time for launching holiday campaigns is now—especially if you are an online business in need of improving your search ranking and lead generation before the year is out. Sure, the holidays are a great time for B2C companies to boost sales with paid ads, but sales aren’t the only things to boost. With the right strategy, your online business can boost its search engine rankings and experience a fantastic increase in lead generation. The key is to have a competitive edge by incorporating integrated marketing efforts.
During the holidays, consumers will be feverishly searching online for holiday specials, gift ideas, and almost anything holiday related. It’s important to take advantage of the increase in search volume by implementing certain holiday search terms into your SEO keyword strategy. Here are just a couple of popular holiday search terms you can use to boost your search ranking.
Adapt these terms to fit with your products accordingly. For example, if your site sells men’s cologne, try using the keyword phrase “gifts for men” in your SEO efforts. Apply holiday search terms to your title and description tags. You also want to take advantage of seasonal shopping holidays such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Search terms such as “black Friday specials” or “cyber Monday discounts” are very popular around November, so be sure to incorporate these search terms into your SEO strategies ahead of time so your content may be indexed by the holidays.
Blog about It!
Don’t stop your efforts at meta tags and descriptions. Integrate these popular holiday search terms into your content marketing strategies to gain excellent shelf space and generate more leads. Create a blog entry that encompasses a holiday key phrase. For example, if your popcorn business is in need of more search traffic, create a blog entry entitled “10 Gift Ideas Using Popcorn.” People love numbered lists because they’re easy to read and quick. Use this to your advantage and capitalize on the term “gift ideas” to make a killer blog post. People will enjoy the creative aspect of using popcorn to make a gift, and will likely be drawn to your site to see what assortments of holiday popcorn they can use. Don’t forget to include a link back to your site so that users will know exactly where to go for more information and you can get that lead.
Of course, your holiday blog entries can be much more direct in terms of promoting a product or special. If you have a Cyber Monday special that you want to promote, use your blog to do so! But as always, be sure to make the blog entry interesting for the visitor in order to see real results. Search engines like blogs because they are (or should be) constantly updated and usually spout out new information. People like them because they are useful and fun.
The holidays are not the time to shun social media. Users will be turning to social sites to see what their friends are buying or talking about. Use this to your advantage and increase your social efforts and the amount of posts that you publish. Ask questions that will help your holiday campaign as a form of informal research. Going back to the popcorn store example, (I’ve got popcorn on my mind) ask questions like “Which holiday popcorn flavor is your favorite?” or “Which popcorn do you prefer to pair with your hot chocolate? Caramel or toffee?” Etc. This is a great way to increase engagement and get customers going back to your site! If you wrote a recent blog post about the holidays, don’t forget to tweet about it or create a post that will lead visitors to your page and your site.
When it comes to planning your holiday campaigns, the possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, this blog entry cannot be. Read more about ways to amplify your holiday online marketing and learn about how pay-per-click (PPC) and email marketing can boost your sales before the year is out. With an integrated online marketing mindset, you can boost your businesses sales, lead generation and search ranking just in time for the holidays!
Anyone who’s remotely plugged into pop culture is aware of the huge popularity growth zombies have experienced over the past couple of years. From zombie movies to a CDC entry on their website on Zombie Apocalypse preparedness, zombies have become pretty darned cool. So cool, in fact, that a hardware chain recently decided to market certain tools as zombie defense tools.
That’s some pretty clever–and timely–marketing if you ask me.
Why is it so clever?
Well, for one, we’re in October and mere weeks away from Halloween. Zombies are already on the brain (um, no pun intended). There’s the whole pop culture phenomenon thing going on, not to mention the fact that fall is typically a time when folks start completing household projects before temperatures drop and the holidays take up every bit of free time they have. The more important part, though: it grabs attention.
Westlake Ace Hardware is a small hardware chain, with stores in only seven states (Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas for anyone who’s curious). They don’t have the size or the recognition that Lowe’s and Home Depot do, and I’m guessing they probably don’t have the marketing budget that Lowe’s and Home Depot have, either. The challenge for most medium-sized businesses is often figuring out how to differentiate themselves from their much bigger competitors on a budget that usually doesn’t come close to the budget enterprise level companies have.
So you advertise a shovel as a zombie defense tool, and a power generator as a way to zombie-proof your home. Gardening gloves are suddenly protective gear and a nail gun isn’t just for sticking boards together. If you’re a zombie, caulk is a great way to put yourself back together and air fresheners are a great way to keep that decaying corpse smell out of your home. Westlake has even created a news page dedicated to the marketing effort, complete with videos and press releases about zombie protests, and their marketing team has put together a couple of infographics.
This is a case of a company doing some really great things in their online marketing efforts. They’ve created a zombie-specific section/landing page, they have infographics, blogs, press releases, videos and are integrating their zombie preparedness center into their social media campaigns. The only thing I can’t seem to find is a paid media campaign. You get results on the SERPs when you search for “zombie preparedness” and “zombie hardware,” but those are mostly to news stories about Westlake’s marketing efforts (granted, SEO love generally takes a while to gain traction, so this makes sense). If they were our client, we would probably suggest a paid media campaign along with having a completely separate email sign up form to better nurture those customers and to allow some pretty good segmentation. Otherwise, though, this looks like a well-run and super creative online marketing campaign.
What do you think about Westlake’s online marketing campaign? Does it amuse you as much as it does me? What are some great examples of creative online marketing campaigns you’ve seen?
We all know that Google loves new content and a blog can be a great way to continually create fresh content. Many companies find that a blog becomes an integral part of their overall SEO strategy to drive more search engine traffic and increase Page Rank. However, writing a blog post several times a month can get old over time.
Writer’s block? You betcha! The answer? Convince other people to get into the fun of content creation!
Sometimes employees are excited about this prospect, sometimes they need more motivation. So how can you motivate employees to write blog posts? Well, there are a variety of ways limited only by your imagination. One such way is to offer a contest where for a period of time you accept entries for best blog submission. Ideally, you should be able to collect enough entries from one contest to have blog material for several posts. You can offer a prize for the best submission, or perhaps the best submission in each category if you receive a large number of entries. Make sure to set criteria, it helps produce quality posts.
What criteria should you use to ensure good content? You might have to spend some time thinking about your goals setting a clear blog strategy to develop criteria that make sense for you. We’ll cover that in a follow-up blog post next week.
Prizes. Make the reward enough to be a true incentive, but not so much that it breaks the bank. Keep in mind that companies are spending big bucks on Search Engine Optimization and the SEO value of a current and quality blog is worth a lot more than a $10 gift certificate to Starbucks!
The prize can simply be cash or a gift card
A prized toy or fun item that can be used or displayed around the office. Rock’em Sock’em Robots or a quality motion-sensitive fart machine are classics and are always appreciated by your more sophisticated and mature co-workers! ;o)
A cheesy trophy can be fun.
Lunch with the CEO or a member of the senior staff to bestow a little recognition and thank you for your contribution. If you’ve been looking for the right time to chat them up about that raise or promotion you’ve been wanting, now’s your chance!
A free paid day off.
Hold a department versus department challenge to see which group can write the best blog post. Winner gets bragging rights plus a group celebration/reward.
Do a monthly contest for the best blog submission and record the winners each month. At the end of 6-12 months do a drawing from among those winners and they get a weekend vacation for two.
You can even use analytics to track how much traffic each blog post drives to deeper pages on your site and hold a contest around that!
As I said, the possibilities are endless, limited only by your imagination. In the end, you should have enough quality blog posts that you will rarely have to worry about a languishing blog or lacking enough content to make your site interesting to search engines. Not bad for a bit of blog navel-gazing and some money for prizes.
As an Account Manager at Apogee Search, Kate van Ravenhorst has helped various clients implement website redesigns. Through her experiences Kate has discovered a few best practices for implementing a successful website redesign, and she was kind enough to share her knowledge with me.
When a company chooses to employ a website redesign there are a variety of motivating factors, but no matter why you decide to redesign your site, it is important to consider SEOthroughout the process.
First, look at the organization of your website’s content. It is important that multiple pages within your site don’t compete for the same keywords. Kate suggests placing web pages that may cause an issue on different levels within the site’s hierarchy. Higher level pages are assigned higher value within search engines.
Maintaining site value is also important during a website redesign. It is helpful to preserve the existing URL structure from your original website. It is also useful to organize content in logical folder names and incorporate keywords into the URLs where appropriate. Additionally, redirects are crucial in maintaining a website’s value. A 301 redirect guides visitors to the appropriate page on your new site. 301 redirects are also the most search engine friendly web page redirection method because they allow the search engines to attribute the value of the old page to the new one. This will also help avoid having visitors encounter 404 errors for web pages that no longer exist if they arrived at your site through an old link or bookmark.
Ensure the search engines can find your new site by using HTML and XML site maps. AnHTML site map lets visitors navigate your site with ease, as well as allows the search engine spiders to access the entirety of your site. XML site maps are important because they are designed specifically for search engines. They allow search engines to crawl a site more thoroughly and alert search engines of new pages. Creating a Google Webmaster Tools account is also useful, because it will provide you with general diagnostic information, notify you of indexing issues, and accelerate the indexing of your site.
Finally, you must reconfigure your tracking. If you use Google Analytics, or another analytics tool, remember to preserve historical data from your old site and create a new profile to track activity on your new site.
There is likely to be some fluctuation in rankings as you implement a redesign, but these tips will help you diminish any potential negative affects.