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Social media marketing covers a wide range of activities. One of those activities is the marketing of your content from your blog or website.  Many blogs now use plugins that automatically Tweet your latest post to Twitter. You can also list your posts on Facebook for all of your friends to see. Consider the following scenario.

Over a period of time you notice that content related to a particular subject, let’s call it subject A, gains a lot of attention, discussion and Retweets. In comparison, everything else gains little or no attention at all. On Facebook, you notice the opposite – subject B gets a lot of attention and tends to draw the majority of ‘likes’. Subject A goes without notice.

Can that information help your marketing strategies? I believe it can in two completely different ways. In the first instance, it’s a waste of time and effort making offers for subject B through Twitter. Likewise, it is a waste of time making offers for subject A through Facebook. If you concentrate your promotional efforts where you are gaining the most reactions, you are more likely to attract traffic and sales.

The second area that this data can help you in is future marketing. If you know that subject A is not gaining any notice on Facebook, you have to ask yourself why. Are the demographics wrong? Is your marketing approach wrong? Or is the subject poorly presented? By analyzing these results, you may be able to present your material in a manner that is more acceptable, and that may draw a larger response.

You can gain a real insight into want people are interested in simply by looking at how many times your content gains a reaction in any social media site. The next time you look at the number of Retweets or Likes, ask yourself why – the results may surprise you.

While most online businesses are stressing over SEO, social media marketing, and perhaps even pay per click campaigns, email marketing rolls along delivering a steady flow of targeted traffic. Email marketing suffers from an image problem in some sectors. First, it is viewed as being too hard. Secondly, it is viewed as being below the old-fashioned junk mail that still floods our snail mail boxes.

These are both misconceptions that need clarifying. Let’s take the second point first. Today’s email marketing campaigns are as much controlled by the receiver as it is the sender. If you run your email campaigns correctly, then the only email addresses you have are those who have opted in – and they always have the opportunity to opt out again whenever they want. As to junk mail, that depends on you. You can choose to send junk, or you can choose to send newsletters that receivers will read and find useful.

Is email marketing too hard? Hard is probably too strong a word. There are several services available that will handle the grunt work for you. That is, collecting and storing the email addresses. You just need to make a form available to your visitors, and they will do the rest.

You actual marketing emails are up to you. They can be very simple and very plain emails inviting your recipients to come back to your website, perhaps offering discounts or special offers. You can also make your newsletters quite professional by hiring a specialist in this field.

Email marketing is neither hard nor junk mail. A recent report has highlighted how successful promotional emails are in relation to search and social media marketing. If you haven’t tried before, I suggest you do a little research.

Here’s a question for you to consider. If you were in an industry that was closely related to real estate, where would you concentrate your internet marketing campaigns? Which search engine would you focus on? It’s not a trick question, but it is a question that relates to how closely you watch the changes in search engine activity.

A little while ago Google announced that it was dropping out of real estate search. Their excuse was that the Google API was being dropped from use so real estate agents would no longer be able to list properties. Back in July, Zillow and Yahoo! announced a special partnership that would see Zillow real estate listings automatically available through Yahoo!s real estate search. This now makes Yahoo! the biggest single real estate listing site online.

If you are in an industry closely related to real estate – for example, mortgages, insurance, title searches, home inspections, appraisals, and so on – then it would make sense to concentrate some of your paid search efforts on Yahoo!. Time will tell if Yahoo! Real Estate becomes the most used real estate search portal online, but with so many listings, there is a good chance it will.

That’s real estate. The point I make here is that current information, especially news related to search engines and social media sites, is vital if you are to be effective online. You do need to filter your information admittedly. I mean, if you are in no way connected with real estate, then you would say ‘so what’ to much of what I have written. However, tomorrow, it may just be your niche that’s affected – are you going to be on top of the story and ready to take advantage?  Your internet marketing efforts are only as good as the information you base them on.

There has been a lot of background noise in recent days about website security – or rather the lack of it. One phrase that has been coined, probably by a journalist eager to sensationalize things, is the danger of a digital 9-11 attack. There’s no doubt that many businesses and governments aren’t protected sufficiently to ward off such an attack, but what about smaller businesses – how much protection do they need?

If we’re talking about a digital 9-11 attack, I don’t think small businesses need to worry. Any attack of that nature is going be directed at governments and financial sectors. That doesn’t mean you are safe from other attacks. Most businesses lack any real security measure to protect themselves, yet a small digital attack on their website could do immeasurable harm to that business’s reputation.

We can’t do much about the causes of these attacks. In some cases, people are targeting a business because of its policies; in other instances, it is purely random. So how can you protect yourself? There are a number of ways.

First and foremost, regularly back up your site and your database if you use one. Every day is the ideal situation with the backup copies stored away from your server. With backups, you can at least restore your site to a good copy should anything untoward happen. Your website should also include software designed to block hackers and viruses from getting a foothold. It is estimated that websites unknowingly help to spread 15% of all computer viruses and malware. I am sure you wouldn’t like to see your website suddenly listed as a malware site.

Your reputation is important. Take the steps to protect your website, and to protect your visitors. At the same time, you will be protecting your own online reputation.

There is a lot of jovial discussion around the Internet at present over the current public spat between Google and Bing. Google has accused Bing of cheating while Bing has accused Google of profiting from spam.  From an SEO  consultant’s perspective, we have been complaining of these types of things for years.

Does Bing use Google search results as a factor in its algorithm – probably, and according to Google’s ‘evidence’, definitely. No one has questioned or tested whether or not Google uses Bing results in its algorithm. They probably don’t, otherwise they wouldn’t have made an issue of Bing’s apparent use.

The bottom line is the user. Both search engines are trying to produce results that are relevant to the user. Unfortunately, both search engines still include web pages in their results that are outdated and/or not at all relevant to the search term. In the meantime,  the art of search engine optimization is constantly being frustrated by the constant changes in the way both search engines determine ranking factors.

Bing’s call that Google profits from spam has been an issue for a long time. Those with poor quality content are always looking to get to the top of search results quickly and are quick to jump onto the next backdoor method as soon as one is found.

This is really the crux of the SEO – search result problem. It would be too much to ask for an algorithm that couldn’t be spammed, yet allowed the best results to constantly be shown to searchers. An algorithm that everyone knew, and could work towards to gain a front page search listing. But that would be too easy, I guess. Oh shucks, it’s time to wake up from my dream so I can catch the next installment in the search engine wars. There’s one thing I do know, this public spat is not doing anything to improve search results.

There are many businesses that are not aware that pay per click advertising can be run internationally. Back in December, Google released a new website that could make life for businesses looking to expand internationally a whole lot easier. The appropriately named Google Ads for Global Advertisers website acts as a central hub for all of the tools required to run successful international campaigns.

Of special interest to advertisers with only a little experience with international markets is a new tool, the Global Market Finder.  This tool has the potential wow factor for those advertisers who may at least be exploring international options. Enter your keyword and the new tool will automatically translate it into 56 different languages, and then use Google search data to determine which countries have a high demand for that keyword.

As with other Google tools, you can see the search trend data, what competition there is, and the estimated price for your keywords. For many businesses, you may find that trading internationally has a lower cost per click while delivering similar conversion rates – the difference being either more profit, or more funds to up your keyword bid price locally.

There are a lot of businesses that could possibly investigate including overseas trade in their business development program. Google’s new website will certainly make life a little easier when it comes to research. The only concern I have is the use of translation software, especially for those looking to target two or three word keyword phrases.  Translation software can often make a real meal of these translations, often with interesting results. Before proceeding with a pay per click campaign in another language, check on the translation first – just to be on the safe side. Have you ever considered expanding internationally? For many businesses, there is a whole new marketing waiting for them.

For people who feel that forums are dead – they are not. There are some pretty awful forums online, most of them neglected and left to their own devices. They are full of spam and often it’s the good writers who get dumped out of the forum. Good forums, on the other hand, are great for sharing ideas, perhaps getting links, and often delivering traffic.

So how do you obtain all this through forums? Here is a short list of tips that may help you build credibility:

  • Rules – the first thing that must be stipulated is that all forums have rules. Some are lax and some are very strict. Understand those rules. Most decent forums will suspend or terminate your account if they catch you spamming everyone else.
  • Manners – until you get a feel for the forum – in fact, until you are accepted by the regular members – watch your manners, especially language. No one likes a rude johnny-come-lately upsetting everyone. If someone helps you out, be sure to contact them and say thanks – even if it is in the thread.
  • Be You – be sure to use a photo or avatar that is good, not cheap, and certainly not blatant marketing material. Be yourself, and if the opportunity is there, be open about your business interest.
  • Communicate – forums exist for one reason – for people to communicate about a specific niche or topic. Follow the threads, join in, discuss issues, and solve problems. The latter is what will eventually build your reputation. Simply commenting with words like ‘good tip’ is not communicating.
  • Signatures – most forums allow you to craft your own signature file. Read the rules and only use what’s allowed. Many forums allow you to link to your website – this means that every time you respond in a thread, a link is created to your pages.

Follow those rules and you will get on well in a forum. If you thought they were dead, think again as they have become an important marketing channel for marketers. They could be for you as well.

Late last week Bill Hartzer wrote a post that discussed what he calls social validation and it’s importance to SEO. His rationale is that if content gets mentioned on social sites, for example, re-tweeted on Twitter or ‘liked’ on Facebook, then search engines will sit up and take more notice of that content. To quote from the post:

….the search engines (Bing and Google) are looking for social validation. They see your new URL and index it, but will rank it higher in the search results if they can find some reason to: and one of those reasons includes social validation.

There is little doubt that search engines are taking more notice of what is happening through social media. While this is important, it is also important to understand the wider implications of successfully promoting your content through social media.  The more often your content is referred to through social media, the more likely it is to be referred to in other areas such as blogs and web pages.   The result is an increase in the number of inbound links.

So this then begs a question – do pages that perform well after receiving a lot of mentions in social media do so because of that interaction, or is it because of the sudden increase in mentions throughout the web, the sudden increase in links? Many people would argue both, and they are probably right.

What is important to note is that creating content that is well written and well received will rise to the top of search results quite quickly, if those factors all come together. What is more important is to find ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ who are themselves well respected, especially by the search engines. Other users will follow their recommendations, meaning more traffic, more inbound links, and perhaps a few extra brownie points from the search engines. The lesson is simple – build credibility in your content by have those respected acknowledge it’s value.