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I had a customer ask me if there was a more immediate way to make money online than blogging. I said the best way the make money right now is to wage a pay per click campaign. And I fully believe it. It’s the best way to make your efforts pay right now.

Why is pay per click advertising the best “right now” marketing tool online? Because you can set a budget, write your ad and have your ads online within 30 minutes. Your ads could be live within five minutes of starting your new campaign. You could get your first click within a few seconds of that ad going live. You could make your first sale just a minute or so after that. So, literally, pay per click marketing is the best “right now” marketing tool online.

But that doesn’t mean you should drop everything and just jump on the pay per click bandwagon. Pay per click has its benefits, but there is one thing that it cannot do that almost every other online marketing method can – SEO.

That’s right, pay per click marketing is not search engine optimization. That means you still need to perform some other form of search engine marketing with a long term strategy for ranking your web pages in the search engines. Pay per click is good for right now, but it isn’t so good for next year. To be successful online, you need both a short term and a long term strategy.

At certain times in the past there have been certain Internet marketing tactics and strategies that have stood out as more important, or more effective, than all the others. There were keyword stuffing and meta tags, directory submissions, article marketing, pay per click advertising and blogging. These days it looks like Facebook and Twitter, or social networking, is winning the game. But what’s next?

When I look at emerging technologies like video marketing, mobile marketing, cloud computing and e-books, it’s hard to see just which one will win out. I think local Internet marketing will certainly be at the top of the list. But in what form?

Predicting the future is difficult, especially online. Who could have ever predicted the popularity of blogging ten years ago, or that social networking would have caught on? It’s not like people go looking for these tools. They just spring up and then people learn how to use them effectively. Once the word spreads, you can’t stop it.

I don’t know what will be the most effective Internet marketing strategy of the future, but I do know that successful Internet marketers will be those who have their ear to the ground and learn to use the tools that are available effectively. Will one of them be you?

Spying on the competition in today’s fast-paced Internet business environment is a necessity. If that is something you place high priority on then you might be interested to know that Facebook could very well be your best spy tool.

Competitive intelligence just keeps getting better and better. And Facebook has recently introduced some interesting developer tools and social plug-ins that could make that a lot easier. However, they are quite controversial.

Privacy concerns are what’s on everyone’s lips, but businesses could find one benefit in Facebook’s Like button. The fact that you’ll be able to see users’ likes publicly, including events they plan to attend, may mean that you can spy on your competition and do it right out in the open. How’s that for a benefit?

Of course, privacy advocates are working hard to nip that in the bud and if they succeed then it will be a moot point. However, until they do, follow your competition on Facebook and see what you can learn about them.

The Web is atwitter today with talk of Facebook’s potential network and its Like feature. The focus is on Facebook’s privacy settings. By allowing publishers Web-wide to mine data about Facebook users through a Like button on their site, Facebook could use that information to target advertising on its own website. But that Like button could be more important than anyone realizes. It can be important for web design.

Issues that web designers will have to consider when building their website will include:

  • Whether or not Facebook’s Like button is necessary.
  • Where on each page of the site the Like button should be displayed.

It’s a no-brainer, of course. If Facebook is the most trafficked website on the Web then most webmasters are going to consider putting the Like button on their site, but is that going to be a good idea? You might find that consumers will not Like your content if they think that it will reveal something about themselves that they don’t want potential employers, college admissions counselors or someone else knowing. That Like button could then be a pariah.

It will be interesting to see how the Facebook privacy controversy plays out. It will be more interesting to see how it affects web design.

There are two types of viral marketing campaigns – successful and unsuccessful. Running either of those is no reflection on your skill as a marketer. Good marketers can have an unsuccessful campaign and bad marketers can get lucky and hit a home run. But there are certain principles of viral marketing that should be followed if you want your campaign to have a chance at success.

No. 1, whatever it is you are trying to promote should have some kind of popular appeal. You may have the very best motorized widget on the planet, but if your target market is smaller than a little league baseball team then quality is a small consideration. An idea has to have some popular appeal if it is to ever go viral.

Secondly, it helps get your idea into the hands of a few well connected individuals. Your product or service can be high quality and popular, but if you can’t get at least one well connected person with influence to plug it then chances are you’ll have a hard time getting it to go viral. I hate to plug it as a popularity contest, but that’s what it is. Even 100,000 average Joes won’t have as much influence as 1 kingpin with 100,000 average Joe devotees.

That last sentence needs some elaboration. 100,000 average Joes have friends and their friends listen to them, but they have no one to appeal to as an authority but themselves. The 100,000 average Joes who follow King Cheese, however, can always point to King Cheese as the authority. “Hey,” they could say to their friends, “If you don’t believe me then listen to King Cheese; he’s the man.” Those kinds of appeals work so it’s important to have at least one highly popular and influential person to like your idea enough to promote it.

Finally, your product or service has to have quality. It can be popular, but if it isn’t full of quality then popularity will wane.

Here’s to your next viral marketing campaign. May it be successful.

One of the most important developments the search engines ever came out with was the sitemap. It allowed all of the search engines to better crawl websites and find content for indexing. Now, Google is offering video sitemaps and I’m betting it’s going to be every bit as revolutionary as the original HTML and XML sitemaps.

A sitemap is very important for crawlability and getting indexed and ultimately for achieving high SERP rankings. It tells the search engines how many pages you have on your site and which pages are important for crawling and, more importantly, what changes you’ve made to your website since it was last crawled. A video sitemap will do the same for your video content.

You might as well face the music. Video marketing is here. And it’s only going to grow bigger. The only question you need to answer is, Are you getting on the bandwagon now or later?

WebProNews reports that StumbleUpon – not Twitter, not YouTube and not Digg, but StumbleUpon – is the No. 2 driver of social media traffic globally. Did you figure on that?

StumbleUpon is a curious mix of social bookmarking and social networking. It is based on quite a unique concept. I consider it a bit of a hybrid among social media brands. But it has its negative points as well as its positives.

On the positive side, StumbleUpon is great for driving new traffic to your website. On the negative, most of that traffic bounces.

Unless you have something that SU visitors really want to see, don’t expect them to visit more than one page on your website. They’ll visit, and they might even give you a thumbs up (many SU users actually give you charity thumbs up in hopes that you’ll do the same for them), but don’t expect them to stick around.

Is that good? It depends on what you mean by good. It’s bad only if you value a high bounce rate. But the real test is, does that StumbleUpon traffic make you money? If it does then you’re gold.

A WebProNews article asks if Google AdSense will be in trouble if Facebook starts offering advertising opportunities. It’s a good question.

Two days ago we asked if Twitter was offering a new SEM model. We might just as well ask the same question of Facebook.

The difference between Facebook and Twitter, of course, is traffic. Facebook is only about 50 times the size of Twitter in terms of traffic. It is now the most trafficked website on the Internet. And it’s gathering information about its members that Google would kill for.

Every time you Like something on Facebook you are indicating your interests. Every time you comment on something or share something on Facebook you are indicating an interest. That’s much more valuable information to advertisers than a string of keywords you entered into a search query. And it’s something that I think Google knows as well.

If Facebook did roll out an ad network based on user interests, would you advertise through it?

Yesterday Google announced that it was changing the name of Google Local to Google Places. If you’re interested in why Google doesn’t have a unique domain name – yet – for Google Places, you can read about that at Search Marketing Standard. It’s a good read.

But whether you think Google screwed up or hit a home run, this is an important step for all of us, especially local business. Google says that one in five searches are local so if you have a local business then you need to claim your business at Google Places. Don’t wait.

Here are some of the new features Google has added to Google Places:

  • Claim your own service area and hide your address
  • For select cities, you can add tags to your listing for $25
  • Add photos
  • Get custom QR codes
  • Join the Favorite Places program
  • Add real-time updates
  • Track your progress with your own personalized dashboard

Seriously, this looks like a good deal to me. Could Google have rolled it out in a more strategic manner? Yes. But that they’ve done this and done it now says a lot about how serious Google is about local search marketing. I chalk it up as a plus.

Twitter has announced that it will start introducing ads called Promoted Tweets, except that these ads will be organic tweets with one exception. They’ll be labeled Promoted Tweets.

And there is one other difference as well:

There is one big difference between a Promoted Tweet and a regular Tweet. Promoted Tweets must meet a higher bar—they must resonate with users.

The plan is this …

Promoted Tweets will be added to users’ Twitter streams according to relevance. If Twitter users don’t reply to or retweet the Promoted Tweets then they’ll disappear. They won’t be shown any more. My question is, Will the advertiser be reimbursed for any unpublished tweets or is the risk a part of the deal? Do advertisers pay a flat rate and take a risk on the tweet not resonating?

This certainly looks interesting and if the first phase of advertisers manage to pull off ads that resonate then I’m guessing that other advertisers will be given an opportunity as well. Will Promoted Tweets become another potential advertising stream for search engine marketers who want to reach their target audiences? Will it fly?

Reputation management has become very important to online marketers. And video marketing seems to be picking up speed as well. In fact, video marketing is here and if you haven’t started your video marketing plan or even thought about how to use videos for your online marketing then you are behind the eight ball already. Videos are not only good for search engine marketing and social media marketing, but for online reputation management as well.

The idea behind reputation management with videos is two-fold:

  • You want to use videos to increase your search engine marketing presence
  • You want to use videos to improve your brand perception

Both of these initiatives is possible with videos and you can do both simultaneously. The search engine marketing aspect of video marketing can be taken care of with distribution of your video to the various video sharing sites as well as the embedding of video on your own website. The brand perception, however, is taken care of by the content of your videos.

Now is the time to stat planning your video marketing and your reputation management initiatives. Wait any longer and you’ll have no chance of catching that eight ball.

If you are running any PPC campaigns and are looking for places to find keywords outside of the traditional keyword research tools, is there help for you? Actually, yes, I think there is. You don’t have to use the same old keyword research tools to find your keywords.

Here are a three places you can find additional keywords for your PPC campaigns:

  • Twitter – There are two ways to use Twitter for keyword research. You can look at Twitter trends, which is real telling for what is hot right now. And then there is Twitter Search. Either way will tell you what is popular on Twitter or what is happening on Twitter.
  • Analytics – Take a look at your website’s metrics. What keywords are people using to find your site? Those keywords could be ripe for a PPC campaign.
  • Competitive Blogs – What are your competitors writing about? Better yet, pick the top three blogs in your niche and read the comments. What are the readers saying? They are the same audience you are trying to reach. Pull out some niche-related keywords for your PPC campaigns.

When it comes to PPC campaigns, you don’t have to be like everybody else. You have to do what is right for your business. It starts with keyword research.

Yellowbook is a staple of local business advertising. First started as a print directory in 1930 to serve Long Island, New York, Yellowbook has become a major publishing company that now serves 48 states. It is one of America’s most important publishing companies.

In recent years, however, Yellowbook has become more than a print directory. It is an online publishing powerhouse that now serves every community in the U.S. with directory services. If you want to find a particular type of business anywhere in the U.S., Yellowbook is the place to go.

But things have just got better. Yellowbook now has an iPad app. That means that the millions of early adopters who have purchased an iPad can now find any business they want through Yellowbook. Well, they can find any business listed. Are you listed? If not, the iPad is the perfect reason to list your business at Yellowbook. This is local Internet marketing at its best.

One of the best ways to keep up with the competition is to buy what they’re selling. And if it’s free then it’s really easy to do. Just take that free download and look it over. Can you compete?

It might seem difficult to compete with free, but if you first understand what “free” is then it might not be so free after all.

Most marketers will offer a free download in exchange for an e-mail address or contact information. It’s considered an even trade off. I’ll give you something for free right now if you give me your e-mail address so that I can keep contacting you over and over again to try to sell you something. Of course, we know this works.

But is that the model that you should use? That’s a question that only you can answer, but before you answer it you should see how many of your competitors are giving stuff away for free and what it is they are giving away. If it’s working for them then it might work for you. Consider that.

It’s been awhile since HTML has had a major update. It’s about due for one and in fact there is one currently in production – HTML 5.

HTML 5 will certainly be a revolution in website design elements. One area where HTML 5 will make necessary and revolutionary changes for webmasters and web users alike is in how browsers see videos. Currently, anyone who watches videos online must first download a browser plugin. At least one of them, and in many cases web users have more than one.

Popular browser video plugins include:

  • Adobe Flash
  • Apple Quicktime
  • Shockwave
  • RealPlayer
  • VLC for Mac OS
  • Windows Media Player

Chances are, if you watch videos online right now then you have one or more of these browser plugins installed in your Web browser. If you don’t have at least one of these then are not able to watch videos. HTML 5, however, will make these plugins obsolete.

HTML 5 Means Increased Web Security

Many Internet users are concerned about security. They don’t want to download anything they are not sure about. Therefore, they are a bit skeptical of the whole video browser plugin thing. With HTML 5 they won’t need to be. They’ll be able to watch videos without a plugin. And there browsing experience will be more secure as a result.

These security concerns are not without warrant. Many a website user has landed on a website and been asked to download a Codec for a video then been hit with malware issues that completely destroys their trust in websites that use video. While there is no such thing as complete Web security, HTML 5’s video tag will mean no Codec downloads are necessary and therefore any requests for such downloads can be immediately ignored. Videos will automatically play in any browser without a Codec or browser plugin.

HTML 5 Will Provide More Design Control For Webmasters

If you use video on your websites now then you are stuck with current sizing and embedding conventions. Customization is out of reach for most website designers. HTML 5 will change that.

With HTML 5 you’ll be able to control height and width of your video frames, autoplay on or off, design of your video frame and even search engine optimization with file naming conventions and src attributes. You can host your videos on your own server rather than upload them to YouTube and embed them on your site.

Another great HTML 5 attribute is the poster attribute. You’ll be able to designate an image placeholder to display while your video loads. That placeholder can be a branding logo, an ad or a cartoon. It’s entirely up to you. Again, more design control.

When Will HTML 5 Be Available?

A release date for HTML 5 has not be published. But production has been going on for a couple of years now so I’m guessing it’s getting close. I would not be surprised if HTML 5 was unleashed by the end of 2010. It would be a welcome change to the current state of video optimization and website design.

The first thing you should do before you embark on that new viral marketing campaign is to give your website content a complete look over and overhaul it, if necessary. Let’s face it. If your site is more than five years old then chances are it needs an overhaul. So do it.

What does an overhaul mean, exactly?

First, it doesn’t mean redesigning your site from scratch – though that might not be a bad idea either. It may not even mean changing every word on the site. What it probably means, at least in most cases, is to rewrite the content so that it has more a now feel to it and not an outdated feel.

If the information on your site is outdated then you definitely need to rewrite it so that it is more up to date and contains accurate information. For some sites that might mean a complete overhaul. For other sites it could mean simply tweaking a few words or lines here or there to keep the information up to date. Every site is different so every site has different needs.

The bottom line: Viral marketing won’t work if your site is out of date. Keep the content current.

Paid search increased by 11% in the first quarter of 2010 over the same quarter in 2009. Could this be the beginning of an economic recovery for online business?

There’s no doubt that 2009 was a depressive year for the online economy. But it appears that advertisers are starting to gain confidence again. If that is the case then we can expect that 2010 might be a good year for paid search. I guess we’ll have to wait another quarter to see for sure, but I do think that the second quarter of 2010 shows some promise, particularly when typical years show a decline in the first quarter due to the after Christmas decline in retail business.

With paid search and Bing both increasing their year over year percentages the retail sector is showing more and more promise. If you’re ready to start advertising again and you’re ready to launch your next paid search campaign, talk to someone who is familiar with your business sector.

I’ve head of Twitter being called social media, but I’ve also heard people say it’s not social media. So which is it?

I think it certainly has some qualities of social media. I mean, you can follow people and they can follow you. You can directly contact individual users, send private messages and make lists of your favorite Twitterers. There certainly are some social media qualities.

But in other ways Twitter does not resemble social media. For instance, you can follow people who never follow you back and you’ll both get along fine. Or vice versa. You can have people follow you that you don’t follow back and everyone’s still cool. Your public messages can be broadcast to hundreds or thousands of people with no reciprocation and no response. You can still be effective on Twitter as a mass publisher.

But which strategy is most effective for Twitter? Is the social media strategy where you connect and interact? Or is it the non-interactive strategy where you simply publish and expect no responses?

Personally, I think that’s a question that every Twitterer has to answer for him or herself. There seem to be people on Twitter making both strategies work quite well. The bottom line is, What works for your business?

At one time SEOs talked about something called keyword density. The idea was that if you put just the right number of keywords in your content then you could rank it pretty well in the search engines. Then Google came along.

For awhile after Google became the dominant search engine, keyword density was still talked about widely. But links became so much more important and after about three years it became apparent to many SEOs that inbound links were just as important or more important than the number of keywords on your page. Some SEOs even start saying that the number and type of inbound links to your web pages were more important for ranking purposes.

In fact, links did become important. In many cases, you could rank a web page for its key terms by finding the right kind and right number of links with just the right anchor text. Today, however, that’s a bit more difficult to do.

Links are still important, but all the search engines are a bit less forthcoming about how links fit into the overall picture. The search engines used to report your links. Now they don’t. Not much any way. And it’s a lot more difficult to find out information about how your links are affecting your search rankings.

The way it looks now, links are still important. They’re as important as they ever were, but there are so many ranking factors now that it’s difficult to say that there is any one ranking factor that is any more important than any other. We could probably identify a dozen or so ranking factors that are at the top of the ranking factor food chain and inbound link anchor text is one of them. Still, when it comes to the number of links you need to rank for a keyword, your guess is as good as mine.

Does your website load slowly? If so then you need to figure out how to get it to load faster because Google has now made page load speed a ranking factor.

This is very significant. If you do any pay per click advertising then page load speed has already been a factor for your quality score. But yesterday Google announced that site speed will now be considered as a ranking factor.

This actually makes a lot of sense. Users don’t like to land on a page and have to wait for it to load. It could mean the difference between them staying on your site or visiting your competition. So why should Google be concerned about that?

Truth is, they’re not. They don’t care if you make any money or not. But they do care if they make money and they do care if searchers have a good experience on any site that Google sends them to. If your site is an AdSense site and it loads slowly then Google will make less revenue. If you advertise your site using pay per click advertising and it loads slowly then you’ll likely have fewer clicks and Google will make less money. See how it works now?

Fix your site load speed or you might start seeing your pages fall in the rankings.