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How many keywords is enough for your SEO or PPC campaign? The truth is, you can never have enough keywords. How you use your keywords is far more important than how many keywords you have.

When it comes to SEO, the more keywords you have the more opportunities you have to capture rankings for those keywords. You figure you have two chances to rank for the same keyword on the same website at Google and once or twice at Bing. If you have a 1,000 keyword list then that gives you about 4,000 chances to rank for those keywords with a 1,000-page website.

With PPC it’s a little different. Pay per click campaigns operate best with tight keyword groups. If you group your keywords effectively and write good ads that lead clickers to well-optimized and conversion-ready landing pages then you should have a profitable marketing plan. The more keywords you have in your arsenal the better your chances of reaching that goal.

But pay per click advertising and search engine marketing effectiveness depend on your use of the keywords you have. Your SEO efforts will be greatly improved if you have a good army of keywords.

Don’t get wrapped around the axle on numbers, just find good keywords.

Google have announced the introduction of ‘Instant Previews’ in search results and this could, over time, influence traffic numbers to many web sites. The feature allows users to preview the site listed in results without the need to actually visit the site. We all know how quickly web design can affect a user’s opinion of a web site. Put simply, if the user doesn’t like what they see, they will check out the next site listed in the search results. Are they going to like your web site?

All web site owners should, as a priority, check out their own web sites using the instant preview. Just enter a search for a term you know you rank highly on and click on the magnifying glass on the right of your search listing. While you’re at it, check out your competition as well. Put yourself in the shoes of an average Internet surfer – which site would you visit first?

Custom web design will become a key area in the future as web site owners try to outdo each other with striking logo designs and web pages that are easy to navigate and easy to find information on. One of the features of Instant Previews is that the section of the page where the search term exists is highlighted, placing it in context within the page itself.

What makes Instant Previews even more dangerous for those with weak designs is that a user only has to click on a magnifying glass once. From there the user only has to place the cursor over each magnifying glass to see a preview. They can quickly flip between a couple of sites before deciding on the one that suits their needs.

Logos will be important as will color and layout. The quality of your content cannot be underestimated given the focus it will receive for search terms. If you are running a business web site, have a good hard look at your web design – is it time to call in an expert to create a complete custom web design?

Of course, Instant Preview may not catch people’s attention and the effect on traffic and click-through rates could be negligible. While I wouldn’t panic just yet – I suggest you carefully watch your stats over the coming months.

What is the second largest search tool on the Internet? YouTube. In fact, there are more daily searches on YouTube than there are on Yahoo!, Bing, Facebook or Twitter – combined. If you target Google for search traffic then you should also consider YouTube and all it takes is a few well optimized videos. Here are 10 essential components to a well optimized video.

  1. Valuable Content – don’t confuse value with quality. When it comes to quality, most people refer to sound, lighting and other production techniques. Value in a video is what will make it popular, be it humor, music, or an easy-to-follow how-to video.
  2. Keyword Rich Titles – be sure your titles are accurate and keyword rich, they may also appear in traditional search results.
  3. Video Tags – use tags that properly identify the videos content
  4. Video Description – like the title and tags, be sure to use a keyword rich description that accurately describes the video’s contents. Remember also that the description is your sales line to attract viewers.
  5. Categories – accuracy is important with today’s videos so be sure to select the right category for your video.
  6. Video Transcriptions – it doesn’t take long now to create a video transcription – Be sure it is well optimized for your keywords and upload it with the video.
  7. Captions – the use of captions is becoming popular so use them where they may be appropriate.
  8. Geographic Locations – if geographic location is important, be sure to included it in areas such as description and keywords.
  9. Annotate And Link –  Use annotations and be sure to link to any other videos you may have.
  10. Promote – promote your videos at every opportunity. Refer friends to your new creations and ask them to share with their friends. If you have a Facebook or Twitter profile, share the video link with them as well.

By following those 10 steps, you should have a video that provides some sort of value to viewers, and that is well optimized to appear in YouTube (and organic) search results. Of course, you can always engage a professional video creation team to do it all for you.

If you have a web site – why? Is it to help market your business and build a brand? Is it to attract customers, make sales, and over time, deliver a healthy return on your investment? If your web site is connected to a business, or in reality, the whole business, then I am sure your answer to those questions is a resounding yes. If that’s the case, how do you intend to attain those objectives. For most businesses, they use one or more of the following:

Search engine optimization – who can argue with free organic traffic? Of course, that’s not an overnight program so you may use:

Pay Per Click Marketing – if you can’t secure free traffic overnight, why not buy it? That is essentially what PPC marketing is all about – buying traffic. That will kick start your business so you decide on:

Social Media Marketing – you get social perhaps building a Fan Page on Facebook and building up a list of followers on Twitter.

There are many other methods that you could use to try and attract traffic. The one thing that is missing in this process is the human element. Aside from business-to-business commerce, you are trying to sell a service or product to a human.  Whether it’s SEO, PPC or Social Media Marketing, you should never lose sight of who your customer really is.

SEO is a prime example of becoming wrapped up in finding a way to the top of the search results while forgetting that your customer is actually a person. Finding a keyword that is well used but is easy to target may get you to the top of the search results. You may even gain bandwidth-busting traffic – however, if the search term has little to do with actually purchasing the product then it’s likely your sales will be low. The reason – you have missed the human element. You have gone for a perceived easy target without considering it’s worth to your business.

The same is true with PPC and social media marketing. The latter is littered with small online businesses that have looked for quantity when it comes to followers, and not quality. Your customers are humans, not numbers or keywords – forget that, and no amount of internet marketing can hope to achieve your initial goals.

Search engine optimization is one of the most effective online marketing strategies available to businesses trying to do business online. There are plenty of reasons for believing that SEO is a worthwhile activity. Here are five reasons you should employ SEO in your online marketing strategy:

  1. Any improvements you make to your website for SEO will help the search engines better index and rank your website for the rest of its life;
  2. A good SEO firm will recommend “best practices” so that you have the best SEO tools and advice at your disposal;
  3. Any new content you create is yours forever and that content has the potential to bring you new customers from your website every day;
  4. New links you gain from your efforts will remain and continue to drive traffic and increase your search engine rankings for the life of your website;
  5. If you get lucky and rank for keywords that you aren’t targeting then that’s a ‘give me’. You don’t pay for those keywords so you can potentially have lots of freebies.

SEO is one of the most cost effective and efficient ways to market your business online. The results are long term and once you find a strategy that works, you can use it on all of your websites.

There are always strange things going on inside Google. One can often imagine it looking like a mad professor’s laboratory except, instead of test tubes, it’s computer geeks glued to monitors. The latest offering from Google – mod_pagespeed. As the name suggests, it’s a module designed to improve the load speed of web pages.

The need to consider page speed as a ranking algorithm is a bit of a mystery in a way. Sure, we all want the Internet to burn along at the speed of light – but page speed itself is not a measure of quality. In fact, better quality pages often take a moment longer to load than those spammy made for Adsense content rip-off sites that abound. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be constantly assessing your pages for speed issues.

Pages that have modules that rely on external sources – for example, Amazon product feeds – can be a little slower, especially if Amazon is having a slow day. You will need to assess the value of having these modules against the effect they have on page load times. There is a way around this, however, and that is to look at a page the way a user does.

Your page’s design and the code behind it should be written in such a way that the content appears as soon as possible when loading. Blogs are notorious for having a left side bar that loads before the content. That is fine as long as the content in the side bar is loaded quickly – have one of those Amazon widgets and the main content can be delayed for several seconds. The key in that situation is to move all the slow loading content to the right side bar, or to have your theme written so that the main content is loaded first.

Should you use Google’s mod_pagespeed module? You will need to check compatibility issues; for example, it will only run on Apache 2.2. You will also need to assess whether or not it really delivers any improvements in page load speeds. If it doesn’t then ask whether you really need another layer of software around your site.

2010 will probably go down in Internet history as the year that search results came of age. There have been many changes made this year and the latest could give small online businesses a real competitive edge, especially if they can beat their rivals when it comes to price and service. Rich snippets have been around for a while and offer a web site owner the option to add data to their search results. The latest from Google takes this one step further.

Using rich snippets, you can now include price, availability and reviews to your search results. If your online business is a shopping site, this one change to your listing could remove the need to be number one in search results. Your search engine optimization strategy should still be focused on a gaining a high ranking, but at a listing in the top three to five results could now be competitive.

Consumers performing a search will be able to see at glance which online shopping site has the product in stock, how much they are charging, and whether or not there are any reviews available. If your prices are competitive then you will have an edge of those not displaying prices. You will certainly have an edge of those displaying prices that are higher than yours.

The only doubt that could be raised over this feature is whether or not will trigger price discount wars between highly ranked web sites. Consumers won’t complain, but it won’t be good for your bottom line. It your competitors aren’t displaying prices, then use rich snippets to give your business an edge. If your competitors are displaying prices, then you will need to decide whether or not displaying your prices you will advantage, or disadvantage your business. Consumers will certainly win!

Pay per click marketing, particularly through Google Adwords, has been the backbone search marketing for a good decade now. One of the limitations has been that each ad unit could only have one link. Earlier this year Google made changes to Adwords that allowed advertisers to include an additional four site links in their ad units.

For many businesses, these additional site links have been a real boost. Rather than advertise one product, you could effectively advertise five products. If you sold hard drives for example, and your ad unit promoted and pointed to Western Digital hard drives on your site, your additional site links might point to sales pages on Seagate, Maxell,  Maxtor or Samsung hard drives.

The concept is sound and as you can see from the above example, is more likely to increase click through rates than decrease them.  If you can convert those clicks to sales and similar rates then your sales and profits will most likely improve as well. For many businesses in that situation, undertaking a split test of ad units with and without site links could be a worthwhile experience.

As with everything in life, there is also a downside to site links. They are not for every business and need to be used wisely. If you are heavily promoting one product or service, the last thing you should be doing is diluting that traffic away from your featured product. More importantly, using site links because you can could be highly counterproductive and result in falling click through rates and falling sales.

Split testing is the key to success when making any changes to a marketing campaign, more so if it is proving to be successful. Site links do exist in Google Adwords, and if you sell a range of products then, used wisely,  they could be beneficial to your business.

One of the hardest tasks for many businesses is monitoring their brand, company or product in social media circles. In highly competitive niches, being able to keep your finger on the pulse could mean the difference between cashing in on the latest trend, and missing the boat completely. Here’s a simple question. How many times was your brand, business or product mentioned in social media circles today, or this week? Don’t know? Perhaps you need to consider using one of these tools.

These tools all help you to monitor social media for any term. I suggest you have a look at each and if you find one that you’re comfortable with, use that. As a side note, they are all free.

Spy – searches for mentions across a variety of social media sites including Twitter, Friendfeed and Blog Comments. It’s fairly comprehensive but rather slow. Instead of a full screen of results, it scrolls them one at time so it can be a little disconcerting.

BoardReader – more like a traditional search engine. BoardReader delivers results from a variety of social media. It also has a neat little graph that shows the frequency of mentions over the last month.

SocialMention – one of the most comprehensive social tracking tools. SocialMention doesn’t just include mentions from a wide range of sources, it also includes lists of associated keywords, hashtags, top users associated with the search terms, and the major sites where the search term was found.

Collecta – real time search engine that looks for your search term in a variety of sites including Twitter, Facebook and Google Buzz. You can filter out certain search types such as videos and images.

48ers – another real-time search engine. Type in a  search term and it  will deliver up-to-the-minute results from sites such as  Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz, Digg and Delicious.

These tracking tools are ideal for keeping up to date on what your competitors are saying, and who is saying what about them. They can also be ideal for keeping up with what is happening in the industry. As competitive intelligence tools, they  pass the grade although there are far better options available if you’re prepared to shell out a few dollars.

One of the most important components of social media marketing is your reputation on social sites that you develop a presence on.  There are several activities you can undertake that work to increase your reputation amongst followers, and often work to encourage newcomers to also follow you. Here are six activities that you should consider.

1 – Promoting Others – spend a little time researching what others have to say about your brand, product or service. If someone has written a good blog post detailing how to use your product to advantage – promote it with a link to the post.  Followers will appreciate the information and of course the blog writer will appreciate that A) you have bothered to read their content, and B) you are promoting it for them.

2 – Respond – responding to people who reach out is vitally important. If someone follows or ‘Likes’ you, a quick and simple welcome personalizes the relationship. If someone asks a question, respond to it in a timely fashion.

3 – Give Credit – if a question is asked and you decide to write a blog post on the topic, give credit to the person that asked the question. They feel that their question was important, others see that you take questions seriously, and you are also sending a message that you do actually read comments and responses, even on Facebook, or Twitter.

4 – Provide Value – people follow you for a reason and, generally speaking, it’s because they have some expectations. If you have promised early notice of specials then deliver. Failing to deliver will see people leaving you quite quickly, telling the world along the way that you fail to deliver.

5 – Stay On Topic – stay loyal to the niche around which you have created your profile. If you have several niches, then develop separate profiles and build followers for each. While the occasional cross-promotion is generally acceptable, don’t over do it.

6 – Be Social – it’s not just about you or your business. Don’t forget the social component. While readers don’t want to know about what you had for breakfast, you would be surprised at how many people do want to see the human side. An engagement, wedding or new baby by a staff member will often see a stream of congratulations. If you, or that staff member can respond, so much the better.

Social media marketing is not always about promoting a brand, product or service. However, in delivering on those six points, you can be doing just that, but in a way that highlights the ‘social’ nature or your marketing. Just for a change – put yourself in your followers shoes!

Gaining followers that stick around on social media sites can be difficult. Have you ever wondered why some sites seem to attract thousands of followers even though their quality doesn’t ‘stand out’ from the rest? Matt McGee reports on what could be the magic magnet on these sites.

Our society has been based in part on coupons, freebies, special deals and discounts so it’s only natural that this philosophy has followed consumers onto the Internet. It may not be magic, but the magnet that draws in users to many sites is still that philosophy – “what advantage is there to me?” McGee puts it very succinctly:

the primary reason consumers follow companies/brands on Twitter, or like them on Facebook, is because we’re all looking to save a buck.
A report published by ExactTarget shows that consumers are very conscious of this ‘saving’ mentality. Check the following statistics on why people liked businesses or brands on Facebook:
  • 40% want to receive discounts and special promotions
  • 36% want a freebie
  • 33% want updates on future products
  • 30% want updates on upcoming sales
  • 25% want access to exclusive content
Those figures make the situation pretty clear. Offer visitors something they may miss out by not following you and temptation is often too hard to resist. In many cases, although the user may not want your product today, they will follow you ‘just in case’. The logic behind their decision is not always important – what is important is that you now have them following you. From there, it’s up to your social media marketing prowess to convert them.
If you want to increase your lists on any of the social media sites, offer them something special – it may not be a magic formula, but it does seem to work like a magnet. And there’s a special flow on effect – people will often share what they feel is special to their friends – perhaps it is a magic formula!

It’s almost cliche to say it now. Video marketing is one of the most important forms of Internet marketing. I think it may even become more important in the near future. But what kind of video production is important? Right now, today?

I think it’s safe to say that you want quality. Quality is better than quantity. What good does it do to circulate 150 mediocre videos when you can produce 10 great videos and get a better response.

So how do you make a great video? It starts with a great script.

Here are some ways to ensure that you produce great videos for your video marketing campaign:

  • Make your video on location, not in a studio.
  • Film your video in DV or HDV format.
  • Use a teleprompter.
  • Make sure you employ professional lighting techniques.
  • Recognize that real quality takes place during the editing process.
  • Integrate Flash and other multimedia presentations whenever it makes sense.
  • Submit your video to the right marketing channels.

One aspect of video production that is often overlooked is the rehearsal and stage setting phase. Make sure you think through your entire production before you begin. Is it set in the right place for your concept? Have you thought about props, clothing, and costumes? And how much do you rehearse before you start filming?

These are important considerations. Be sure to use a teleprompter because it’s easy to forget your lines when the camera starts rolling. A teleprompter will cut down on the number of takes you need to complete your video production.

There has been an interesting change in the way local search results are being displayed in Google. Rather than a seven pack with map followed by organic listings, the seven pack has been taken out the frame and listed in a similar fashion to organic search results. The map has been moved to the sidebar pushing Sponsored Links down the page.

Having conducted numerous tests, the question now is whether or not a business still needs Google’s pay per click sponsored ads. There are points for and against and your decision will depend on your advertising motives. Let’s consider some of  those points:

Points Against Pay Per Click in Local Search

The way local results are now being displayed, it is quite normal now for a business to have two free listings in search. The first listing is in the local search results and includes a link to your web site and a link to your Places page along with a Google map placeholder. The second listing could be located below the local search results depending, of course, on your search ranking for that key term.

If your paid listing is not ranked in the first three then it could be pushed down into the side bar listings. These now appear almost below the fold – not exactly a highly clickable location. This could result in a large drop in click-through rates.

Points for Pay Per Click in Local Search

Following on from point one in the arguments against, if your site ranks highly in search results, ranks highly in local search, and ranks in the top three for paid search then you could see your site (and brand) listed three times in a search results page. This may well increase click-through rates in both organic and paid search listings. That amount of exposure can also be good for branding purposes.

What will be interesting to see is the feedback from local businesses. Those that are not bidding for positions 1-3 may see a drop in click-through rates. Those that are bidding for those positions may well see a rise in those same stats. If that does become the situation, you will probably see those positions becoming more competitive, and more expensive. Have you noticed a change in your click-through rates?