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Social media optimization also carries search engine optimization benefits. Or, to shorten it, SMO is SEO.

But the vice-versa isn’t necessarily true. SEO does not equate to SMO. Search engine optimization and social media optimization are two different things. They achieve different purposes and as such require different strategies and approaches. Nevertheless, there is a search engine optimization component to SMO.

But what does that mean exactly?

In truth, it means different things depending on the social media platform. For instance, with Facebook, your profile can end up in the search engine results pages for your name. And many of them do. For Twitter, however, your tweets will likely end up in the search engine results pages for real-time keyword queries. Other social media services have their own ranking positives.

But what you need to understand about social media optimization is that it does come with search engine optimization benefits. If you perform your SMO tasks correctly then you’ll get a double-pronged benefit.

Social media may be the big craze, but search engine optimization is still just as necessary today as it ever was. It may be true that the search engines are not as adept at filtering out spam and choosing the best sites for every search query as they used to be. But there are a lot more sites to index and rank today and a lot more spam. It’s a huge undertaking for the search engines to be able to do what they do.

But the lion’s share of web traffic still comes from the search engines. For most websites, the percentage is 70% or more of all web traffic comes from search engine queries. That alone should tell you that search engine optimization is important.

It is no longer a smart idea to rely on just one method of Internet marketing. The wise marketer uses multiple avenues of approach to reach his target market. That means combining search engine optimization with social media marketing, pay per click advertising, link building and even review sites. You have to be ready to close on any traffic from any source at any time.

Most importantly, don’t give up on search engine optimization just because a few other methods of marketing are starting to take on more popularity.

Local search is becoming more and more important all the time. As more small businesses come online and try to compete at the local level, local search will grow in importance.

Several Internet marketers answered a poll and discussed which local search criteria are the most important. Interestingly, most of them agreed on the most important criteria. After that, there was more disagreement but, again, you’ll find a large number of the marketers agreeing on the most harmful local search factors as well.

The top 3 most important local search criteria, according to the poll numbers are:

  • Claiming your Place page
  • Your business address listed in the city of the search being conducted
  • Picking the proper categories for your Place page

Another positive local search factor that is worth mentioning is the number of Internet Yellow Pages and directory listings you have. Many of the marketers in the poll seemed to think that was important.

Regarding negative factors, the following negative factors were chosen as important to stay away from:

  • Multiple Place Pages with the same phone number
  • Not showing your address on your Place page
  • Multiple Place Pages with the same address
  • Listing a PO Box on your website without a physical address
  • Multiple Place Pages with the same business title

Interestingly, many of the marketers involved in the poll thought customer reviews were important as well. It could be that negative reviews might have an influence in your rankings, but that is subject to debate.

If you’d like to see the results for yourself, you can see them here. It’s quite a read.

One of the most talked about topics in the last couple of years has been reputation management. But most people intuitively assumes it means online reputation management. Not necessarily.

Anyone who has been in business for long knows that reputation management is just as important off line as it is online, but few people realize that it’s much more difficult to manage off line. Joe Hall communicates this very well in his blog post at Marketing Pilgrim.

I like his political analogy. It’s also true in business, though few people do it intentionally to harm a business’s reputation.

Here’s how it works, the whisper campaign. Someone tries a new restaurant in town and they didn’t like the salad. They tell their friends they didn’t like the restaurant. Now the friends go and tell their friends that the restaurant has a lousy salad. Pretty soon, everyone in town is talking about how lousy the salad is just because one guy didn’t like it.

That’s the simple version. Reality is much more complicated, but this is what company’s face off line. You may never know which customer didn’t like your salad, but you’ll know if you’ve only sold one of them. And the customer paid cash. So you can’t even track him down. Bummer.

But in all seriousness, if this conversation took place online then you’d know who said it and when. Even if the person used an anonymous name or fake name, at least there’d be a record of where it was and when. For instance, some user named Evil Twin tweeted it at 12:01 New Year’s Eve. You can always point to that tweet in your reputation management responses and follow any rumors that spread from it.

Online reputation management is easier than off line reputation management because there’s a record. And if you can follow the record, crafting responses is a whole lot easier.

In an overly saturated Web marketing playing field, it can sometimes be a bit discouraging to know that your e-mail marketing, blog or other marketing tools are just as good as the next company’s but not a great deal better. The Web seems to be saturated with marketing messages and no matter how super duper your product and service is, if it just falls in line with the hundreds of other messages that consumers are ignoring then it can be a bit discouraging.

Pay per click advertising, however, is the sensible alternative.

With pay per click advertising, if someone ignores your message then they aren’t right for you. You don’t want to spend money talking to them anyway. But if you get a click from someone who found your ad then there’s a real high chance that the person is the right customer for you.

I’d rather spend money getting the right customer than to spend less money chasing the wrong customer, wouldn’t you?

That’s the difference between PPC and other forms of Web marketing. The right customer comes to you, but with e-mail marketing and other forms of marketing you have to reach out to them and many times you are reaching out to people who will not buy from you.

If you want to reach the right market for the right money, try pay per click advertising.

Google and a few other large websites have been racing to a more open Web for some time. OExchange is the latest protocol in that race and it could be a deciding factor in how social sharing ends up on everybody’s top priority list.

Currently, if you want your website visitors to share your content to multiple sharing sites then you have to provide them with multiple buttons or a single button with access to multiple APIs. For instance, Share This and AddThis utilize the API of the various social sharing sites they support, but that can often be cumbersome. OExchange would be a single protocol that is accessible across multiple platforms and reduces the need for multiple APIs.

In other words, your site visitors will be able to share your content to every service that supports OExchange with a simple click. The need for services like ShareThis and AddThis would be reduced.

One benefit to this would be an increased load time for your website as the multiple API protocols won’t be necessary for sharing the data and slowing down the speed of your site. Another benefit would be site visitor happiness.

What do you think? Is OExchange another step in the evolution of social media optimization? Is it necessary?

Internet marketing has grown so much more competitive and sophisticated in recent years. Beyond your own website, there are several places online you can go to build more content related to your niche and even include inbound links to web properties you own. Here are 5 such websites where you can go to building related content.

  1. Squidoo Squidoo is more than a content tool. It’s an online marketing and money making tool to. You build “Lenses” around a particular topic and can include links to any online resources that you choose. It’s great to use as a link building tool because you can make your Lenses relevant to your niche topic and website AND it has a PR 8. In addition, you can add AdSense code and affiliate links so that your Squidoo Lenses make money.
  2. HubPagesHubPages are almost like Squidoo Lenses. You can build them around a niche topic and earn money from them. However, they are most effective when you build shorter pages (Squidoo Lenses work better as longer articles) with several of them on the same topic linked together to form a hub.
  3. Knol PagesKnol Pages are not as monetizable as HubPages and Squidoo Lenses but they are good for building links. Write a high value article on a given topic and link to your own web properties. It’s a great link building tool.
  4. Associated Content – Now owned by Yahoo!, Associated Content is a lot like HubPages. You create content around a specific topic and link out to your own web properties or other web properties. You can monetize your AC pages with AdSense ads and share the revenue with AC.
  5. Examiner – Organized sort of like a newspaper (can you tell by the name?), Examiner is the local version of HubPages. You can create content on a single topic for a local audience and it’s a great tool to use for building a reputation within your niche, which is better than direct monetization.

With these 5 websites, you can become an expert in your niche above and beyond your own website and even use them to make money, build your reputation, drive traffic to your websites and increase your inbound link popularity.

Companies have been engaged in competitive intelligence gathering since the beginning of trade and commerce. The tools and strategies have grown more sophisticated over time and society has built rules around what is considered ethical with regard to competitive intelligence.

When it comes to gathering intelligence about your competitors you are relegated for the most part to anything that is considered public domain or information that is publicly available. In other words, you cannot place spies within their organization to steal their trade secrets. However, you can subscribe to their newsletters, blogs and other publicly available information in the same manner as one of their customers would.

If information that was supposed to be secret is leaked to the public then that information becomes public information as long as you broke no laws to acquire that information.

When it comes to the legalities of competitive intelligence, be sure to consult an attorney. This blog post should not be construed as legal advice. We’re just interpreting the playing field of competitive intelligence as we understand it. At the end of the day, any public information or information that is publicly available is fair game for competitive intelligence. That’s a pretty open field if you play a fair game.

A few years ago it was common to hear someone say something like, “An ugly website gets prettier by the dollar” or “A ugly website that makes money is more valuable than a pretty website that doesn’t.”

While these anecdotes are pithy (and, we admit, true), we also can’t help but quip in return, “I’d rather have a pretty website that makes me money than an ugly one that makes me the same amount of money.” Wouldn’t you?

All things being equal, I’d rather have a pretty website than an ugly one. And that’s why I can say with confidence that web design IS e-commerce. There’s no sense pretending you have a choice. It’s not like you have to choose between a pretty website or one that makes money. You can have a pretty website that makes money. In fact, if your website is attractive then you stand a better chance today of turning it into cash.

Google would rather send searchers to a pretty website that is relevant to their needs than an ugly one that isn’t. Visitors to your site today will leave if they show up and are offended by your colors or the odd shape of your background. So attractiveness does count.

Instead of defending old Web 1.0 websites that did well because they were ugly enough to stand out, take some time to examine what it takes to make money online today. One part of the equation is web design and website attractiveness. Don’t discount it. Your visitors won’t.

At one time e-books were a great viral marketing tool. But that was a bit of a primitive time. It’s like the Stone Age now. Cool tools, but the hammers we use now do a lot better pounding.

Unfortunately, e-books have not arrived. But they’re not exactly in the Stone Age either. There is a transition.

Thanks to two developments in the e-book publishing industry – the iPad and the Kindle – there is a revitalized interest in e-books. But it seem like the big frustration for consumers is there isn’t one standard. That makes it difficult to get a viral marketing effect with an e-book.

Not impossible. Just difficult. There is still a possibility that an e-book can go viral, but if it does so it will have to go viral in one of three accepted formats:

  • Kindle
  • iPad
  • PDF

Right now, I’d say e-books are more likely to go viral if they are in PDF format. But you can create a mini-viral effect with either Kindle or iPad versions of your e-book. But the most important thing about e-books going viral is you have to have great content. Mediocre just won’t cut it.