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Reputation management is not rocket science. It’s more like story telling. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning is monitoring – monitoring your name brand to see what people are saying about you. The middle is what you do in response to that. And the end is the follow up.

You can go online and start posting all kinds of stuff about yourself and do it in a vacuum. Build a website. You should have one anyway. Start social media marketing. Do a little Twittering. YouTube your videos. And so on. But what are you doing it for? Do you have a plan? A strategy? Are you winging it?

Don’t wing it.

It’s better to start off with a plan. You can modify the plan later if you have to. But start with a plan. And the first item on your plan should be to see what people are saying about you before you start talking about yourself. How you approach your own brand reputation management could have something to do with what’s already being said. You can’t change what you don’t know.

There are some tools available for you to help you do better reputation monitoring. Here are three tools that you should start using right away:

  • Google Alerts – It’s free. Enter your name brand and receive e-mails any time someone online mentions it.
  • Twitter – Start paying attention to Twitter. If someone is saying something about your brand right now then you want to know about it. Conduct a Twitter search for your brand name. See what’s being said.
  • Facebook – Facebook is now the most trafficked website online. If someone is talking about you they are probably talking about you on Facebook.

These won’t be the only tools you’ll use to monitor and manage your reputation online. But they are a good place to start. If you have no online presence yet then start with these three tools. Effective reputation management branches out from there.

Pay per click marketing has its ups and downs. There is no doubt about it. Clicks can be expensive, you have to deal with click fraud and if your landing page isn’t ready for taking orders and closing sales then you could be paying for clicks that don’t convert. Even worse, you could have a poorly written ad and be paying for unqualified leads. But enough about the dangers. How about the pros?

It’s easier to explain why you need pay per click advertising for a new website by explaining the negatives in search engine optimization and social media marketing. Let’s start with SEO.

You can work your tail off day in and day out and not see any real results from SEO for a year or two. Depending on the competitive nature of your industry it will likely be an uphill climb. That doesn’t mean it won’t be worth it and that you shouldn’t employ search engine optimization in your marketing strategy. You should. But don’t expect immediate results.

Social media marketing has its own challenges. Like SEO, the results will likely not be immediate. You’ll have to work for them. Then there’s the whole tracking of your results issue. But that’s a completely different item.

When you consider that even the best SEOs and social media marketers have to spend hours managing their campaigns over a long term basis just to see the beginning of their results, it becomes much more clear why pay per click marketing is ideal for new start ups. You don’t want to wait forever for results to start coming in. You see want to some ROI soon. The sooner the better. Pay per click is the best option for most start ups.

Content mills are not new. They are, however, new at dominating the SERPs. I’ll restate that another way.

There was a time long ago (like in the late 1990s) when there were two types of content. There was the high quality content that you’d find on any A-list website and there was less-than-stellar content. Some of that less-than-stellar content was produced by freelance writers or people who wrote SEO content for others to profit from.

In those days the ratio of quality content to the other kind was pretty even. But today, the less-than-stellar content seems to have taken over some corners of the web while quality content struggles to stay afloat.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

There really are just two (legal) ways to acquire quality content for your website.

  1. You can write it yourself
  2. You can hire someone to write it for you.

If you hire someone to write your content for you then you’ll still be responsible for its quality. What guidelines do you have for that? If you have none then you’ll have to accept the guidelines of you content provider. Will it be quality content?

This is where webmasters who cannot write themselves can end up in a quandary. If you hire a budget writer then you’ll likely get budget content. For the high quality content you need to spend some money. And there’s the rub. Can you afford the quality content?

This is ultimately your decision to make, but don’t make it blindly. If you want your content to shine then you need to hire a quality content provider.

We’ve found a cool tool for testing and comparison your link atrophy with that of your competition’s. In case you’re wondering, link atrophy is the process of your inbound links disappearing. Why does that happen?

First, it happens because domain owners that are linking to you have let their domain ownership lapse. If there is no domain then there is no link. That’s probably the number 1 reason why links disappear. But it’s not the only reason.

Another reason you could be seeing your inbound links disappear is because you have a disproportionate number of links from one domain compared to other domains. For awhile – and still today, actually – it was a popular strategy among website owners to build a blog on a separate domain from one’s own website and use it to build inbound links. As a result, these websites built up a large number of inbound links from one domain. That has caused link atrophy and can actually be detrimental to your marketing efforts.

Short term links also disappear after a period of time. Press releases, social bookmarking and other short term links only pass link juice for awhile. Then they disappear.

That’s three reasons for a high link atrophy percentage. If you test your link atrophy then you should also test the link atrophy of your competition and see who is faring better at keeping their links. If your competition is beating you – that is, their link atrophy percentage is lower – then you need to figure out why, and fix it.

Use this tool to check your link atrophy. Then check your competition’s.

Members of the W3C are muddling their way through an update to HTML, the principle language of the Web. The new version, HTML5, is said to be an improvement over HTML4, the current version of HTML. But is it?

Some of the code elements that are being tested as we speak include:

  • <header>
  • <footer>
  • <audio>
  • <video>
  • <article>
  • <embed>
  • <nav>
  • <section>

The above HTML tags are currently not included in HTML4. I will say this much. These tags will certainly streamline the code in HTML and make some parts of web design much easier. The big issue will be in the implementation of the new version of hypertext markup language and whether or not HTML4 will still be acceptable to modern browsers.

My guess is that HTML4 will still be acceptable and readable, but I do see a point afar off in the future where HTML4 will be phased out completely and replaced entirely by HTML5. Of course, HTML6 could be in development by then.

What do you think. Will HTML5 make web design easier?

OK, this might come as a shock to you, but two of the best methods of viral marketing are right under your nose and the chances are you’re already using them.

Ready? Brace yourself. The two forms of viral marketing right under your nose (and that you are probably already doing) are:

  1. Blogging
  2. Facebook

OK, now tell me you didn’t see that coming.

First, blogging. There are a lot of reasons why blogging can be viewed as one of the best methods of viral marketing. But, truth be told, it’s even better when matched up with other social media marketing methods like Facebook and Twitter. And … real time search has made it even more important because your blog posts can be indexed and set aside as a part of the real time search results giving them even greater exposure than ever before. The only thing you need to do is create great content that others will be happy to share.

Then, there’s Facebook. Facebook is like a party. That means there is more than just one way to get in. Not only can you make friends and share your blog posts and other interests with those friends, but you can also build a fan page with all sorts of great features that will attract followers and you can also build apps that get passed around and used. Both of those Facebook marketing tools can easily make your website an instant viral sensation.

Viral marketing is nothing new. It’s been around awhile in various forms. And blogging and Facebook are not the only methods of viral marketing online. But they are right under your nose and there’s a real good chance you’re already doing them. Need help making them viral?

When a major international political power lays off aging workers because they don’t understand social media, that’s a sign. Of course, we already knew that social media optimization was the future of Web marketing, but this kind of reinforces that message for us.

Why? Why, you might ask, is espionage social media habits a sign that this is the way of the future?

Well, here’s the way I see it. If the spy agencies rely on social media and they are doing it undercover, how much so should those of us with nothing to hide (literally and figuratively) be open to the power of this new technology?

The devil, as they say, is in the details. But social media marketing is still a new form of marketing and is virtually untapped. I see other important agencies the world over going the way of MI5 and migrating its work force to social media marketing and social media operations, including social media optimization. Social media is not just for marketers any more. It’s for all of us.

So you’ve done a good job getting your web pages to rank in the search engines. You’re at the No. 1 spot with several of your most important keywords and you’re in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots for several others. You’re even getting a good load of traffic from your keywords. But what about sales? Zero. Zilch. Nada. None, right?

Welcome to the Internet marketer’s eternal dilemma. You’ve learned the most important lesson the hard way. Search engine optimization is important, but it’s not the holy grail.

If you expect to make it in the world of Internet marketing, you’ve got to do more than just manage your keywords well. You’ve got to build web pages that sell products and services. You’ve got to convert traffic to sales. And if you don’t, well, then you aren’t really doing what a marketer should be doing. Simply ranking well won’t pay the bills.

Instead of focusing all of your efforts on keywords and search engine rankings, try to figure out what converts traffic to sales. If you can nail that down and still rank your pages well in the search engines then you’ll start making the money. Just don’t expect too much until then.

Now that Facebook is the most trafficked website online, is it good search engine marketing?

It depends on what you mean by search engine marketing. If you expect that every message you post on Facebook is going to end up in the search engine results, don’t count on it. But if you mean that some aspects of Facebook have a good chance of ending up in the search results then yes, it is good search engine marketing.

Facebook profiles have been indexed for some time now. If you have a Facebook profile and you are active on Facebook then your profile has a good chance of ranking well for your name. At the very least it makes for good reputation management. But profile pages are not the only pages that have the potential to be indexed in the search engines.

Fan pages, too, can get indexed and rank for key terms. Since businesses can start a fan page without having a Facebook profile, it makes for a great opportunity to target a keyword and get a search engine ranking.

Another way that Facebook could be good search engine marketing is through real-time search. Some of the search engines, like Bing and Google, are beginning to index Twitter, Facebook and other other social networks in their real-time indexing and that could mean great search engine marketing.

So what do you think? Will you be using Facebook more?