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In case you haven’t heard, social media is changing for the better. There are three websites that I’d highly recommend you join today. One of them is 10 years old and one is only a couple of months in age but has already set records for traffic. What are the three sites? Are you ready for a surprise?

  1. StumbleUpon
  2. Google+
  3. Klout

StumbleUpon

Why am I recommending StumbleUpon? The site recently hit a huge milestone. Its Stumblebar – the StumbleUpon toolbar – has registered 25 billion clicks. Yes, that’s 25 billion.

That’s huge.

And it has done this in the last 10 years.

Internet marketers have known for a long time that StumbleUpon drives massive traffic to websites. There are good reasons why.

When you put these two things together – massive traffic and 25 billion – StumbleUpon is the place to be.

Google+

Google+ has gone down in history as the fastest growing website. It reached 25 million visitors in one month. That’s faster than MySpace, Twitter, and even Facebook. And it isn’t even out of beta yet.

I believe Google+ will be the social media website to be on this time next year. Better join it now.

Klout

OK, so why Klout? It’s not so much a social media website as it is a social media metrics website. Which is my point.

Until now, Klout only measured your influence at Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. However, recently the site has added Tumblr, YouTube, Flickr, Blogger, Instagram, Last.fm, and Foursquare, taking the number of sites it tracks to ten. It will soon add Quora, Facebook pages, Yelp, Posterous, and WordPress.com.

I believe Klout is serious about becoming the premier social media metrics tool online. Join it now.

PPC, like all other things (on the Web and off) has evolved. And it continues to evolve. Google has largely been responsible for that evolution, but Facebook has played its part too. And it’s likely to evolve even more, but who knows who will be most influential in how that happens in the future?

One way that PPC has evolved is in the tools that advertisers use to track their campaigns. Both Google and Bing, and Facebook now, have tools that allow you to track your own PPC campaigns. But you might benefit more by using a third-party tool that you pay for. Especially if you run a lot of PPC campaigns on more than one platform.

PPC has evolved in other ways too. For instance, pay per click has morphed into pay per action. Advertisers can pay for user activity in a number of ways. Here are some of the more popular pay-per-advertising models:

  • Pay per lead
  • Pay per impression
  • Pay per view (for videos)
  • Pay per call (for mobile and phone actions)

You can expect some of these to expand as technology improves. Currently, pay per impression is generally expressed in terms of 1,000 impressions. But what will it be ten years from now?

Pay per click advertising has become one of the most effective branding and marketing channels online. Don’t expect it to stay the same. It will change. And mostly for the better.

When it comes to using online marketing tools, it seems that small business owners still haven’t put a lot of value on social media. That’s interesting because those same small business owners do put a lot of value on word of mouth advertising. They say it’s important.

The reason I find this puzzling is because social media is the new word of mouth. But I understand how some people might not see that.

If you consider that Facebook is the most trafficked website online and that it’s the new social club (without the drinks), then you might get a glimpse into why it might be useful to do some business networking through there. But don’t just take my word for it. Ask the people who are using it.

Then there’s LinkedIn. People asking questions and answering them. Introducing each other to connections. That sort of thing.

A lot of referrals take place through social media. Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Google+. Even Quora. But if you talk to small business owners, you wouldn’t know it.

I’d recommend picking a social media website – any one will do – spend 15 minutes a day for two months just figuring it out, meeting new people, interacting in small ways, and see where it leads you. What would it hurt?

I think it’s pretty well accepted now that it’s possible to brand yourself, and your business, through Facebook. You can use your profile, your fan pages, even ads, to achieve a branding effect with your Facebook presence, but should you?

There’s no doubt that Facebook is the most trafficked website online. But is that reason enough to use it for marketing and branding?

I think Facebook branding goes beyond mere traffic numbers. After all, you’re not going to reach every person who uses Facebook. You shouldn’t even try.

Like any marketing channel, your focus on Facebook should be in trying to reach the people who are the right target market for your product or service. If that’s a local clientele, then you should focus on local. If it’s national or international, then you should strive for that audience. Branding, after all, is only as effective as how well you identify your market.

Finding the right audience for your product or service on Facebook isn’t easy. You can’t just go up and search for people who are looking for what you have to offer. Instead, focus your efforts on building relationships with people. You are a person trying to build relationships with other people. In the process, you can identify the needs of those people and make subtle offers.

Should you use Facebook for branding? Yes. But do it smartly. Don’t be overly aggressive or obnoxious.

About a month ago, Google and Twitter decided to part ways, though no one is clear as to precisely why. The result has been the end of realtime search at Google.

It seems that Google has plans to resurrect realtime search with Google+ as a prominent feature. I have two things to say about that.

  1. First, adding Google+ to a product that was useful and helpful is a good idea. After all, the product was owned by Google. So I’m all for adding Google+ to realtime search. However, in its current form, Google+ won’t be able to carry the weight of realtime search. Include it, but don’t rely on it too much.
  2. Secondly, realtime search was – and is – valuable without Twitter. I understand that Twitter was a huge contributor, but Google couldn’t figure out how to make realtime search work without it? I think any service that relies upon one dominant player for success is doomed to failure from the beginning.

The bottom line is this: Realtime search is important. But it shouldn’t be reliant upon one service for it to be successful. Search engines that employ realtime search should think about diversity. And that goes even – maybe especially – for Google.

Answer: It isn’t.

But that hasn’t stopped the second place search engine from posting its own content quality guidelines. In a nutshell:

  • Avoid duplicate content
  • Don’t create pages with thin amounts of content
  • No pages with only text or only images – mix it up
  • Share your content through social media
  • Don’t use automatic translation tools
  • Proofread your content
  • Keep your videos short
  • Turn excessively long pages into multiple-page articles
  • Don’t create content just for the sake of content

About the only one of these that might be different from Google’s content guidelines (and even that is questionable) is the suggestion to not use automatic translation tools. I say this might be different from Google’s guidelines because Google actually has an automatic translation tool, but I wouldn’t vouch for its accuracy.

In short, if you follow Google’s content quality guidelines, then you will likely do well in Bing as well. And since Google still delivers over 60% of the Web traffic for most websites, that’s sort of a no-brainer. In fact, Google delivers more than 70% of the Web traffic for most websites.

While it’s nice to hear from Bing just what its content guidelines are, I still think the better bet is to follow Google’s guidelines and you should do well in both search engines.

Should you design your next website with HTML or a content management system (CMS)? To be sure, each has its pros and cons.

    HTML – We are on the dawn of a new age with HTML. HTML 5 is currently in development and some website development experts have already started using it, either in purity or in conjunction with a CMS. New developments in the Web’s basic language make it extremely attractive, especially for pure website designers who want to build a website from scratch.

    There are many good reasons to design your website with HTML, but you’ll always be relegated to updating your website one page at a time. A CMS doesn’t have that disadvantage.

    CMS – While a content management system has its flaws – decreased security, for instance (and even then they have come a long way to defeat breaches) – a good CMS can make your life a whole lot easier. Instead of focusing on design with every website update you undertake, you can focus on the implementation of your content and save yourself oodles of time in the process.

    There are free open source CMSs available that can make your website look like a world class website. And there are systems that you can pay for that will do the trick as well. Either way, a good CMS can offer many of the same advantages as HTML.

So which is right for you, HTML or a CMS? That sounds like a question a web design consultant can answer for you.

If you’re looking for good reasons to use Twitter (and I mean reasons you haven’t thought of yet), here are three good reasons to hop aboard Twitter right now.

  1. By following the A-list bloggers and your favorite Twitterers, you can often find great blog ideas just by reading what others are saying. You can check out the latest trends and get blog ideas as well. Twitter is an endless source of ideas for your blog. Just don’t plagiarize.
  2. No matter where you are located, you can always find interesting people to follow (and be followed by). Use your Twitter stream as a networking tool and discover who is in the know. Build relationships that lead to new business.
  3. The search engines now return real-time search results. These are results that are returned within seconds and include Facebook status updates, Twitter messages, LinkedIn updates, and other social media interactions. Your published tweets have a real good chance of appearing in real-time results if you optimize them for search engine traffic.

Social media is an ever-changing landscape. Twitter is a fast growing social media publishing tool and it’s become more and more relevant by the day. Start using Twitter today.

Advertising has always been about multiple points of action. On one hand, advertisers expect to earn a return on investment. But they also want to brand themselves in the marketplace. Sometimes you can do one or the other but not both.

The first step to using PPC advertising as a branding tool is to set your goals. Determine what your point of ROI is for each click price point. Can you achieve branding effects by limiting your ad spend to a maximum so that you can also realize an ROI? If not, then you have a choice to make.

Is branding more important or is that ROI more important?

The key to using PPC as a branding tool is to plant your company name or product brand in the top of your prospect’s mind. You want them to think of your company when they think of the benefits of using your service. To do that, you’ve got to establish your brand as a top brand through psychological condition. That may require throwing out your advertising budget and just focusing on being No. 1.

Large corporations have been making these decisions for years. Online, with PPC particularly, it’s a decision that even small companies can make.

One of the most important aspects of SEO is page load speed. It’s easy to overlook this if you are new to search engine optimization. If you do your own SEO, then you might overlook it completely. If you have an SEO firm, be sure to ask them to check page load speed.

Page load speed is important for one reason and one reason only: Your site visitors expect it.

It’s true that Google places emphasis on page load speed for search ranking purposes. The reason they do this is because page load speed is important to website visitors. If someone conducts a search and finds your website in Google’s rankings, then they visit your site, and the page loads slowly, they will likely place blame on Google for sending them to a sub-par web page. That’s why Google rewards pages that load fast and penalizes those that don’t.

The time to think about page load speed is when you title=”web page design”>design your website. It’s better to head it off at the pass than to wait until your rankings decline in the search engines.

Things that can affect page load speed are photos, videos, and multimedia presentations, CMS with heavy code, themes and skins, JavaScript and other extemporaneous code, and a number of other factors. You owe it to your site visitors to ensure that your pages load quickly. You also owe it to yourself.

If you plan to do any Internet marketing at all, then the most important thing to keep in mind about your business is that you are first and foremost a publisher. A self-publisher, but a publisher nonetheless.

Why is it so important to consider yourself a self-publisher? Because when you think about it, publishers own and control the flow of information and information is the key to your business.

It doesn’t matter if you run a brick and mortar busines or an online-only business, if you are marketing online, then you are publishing information. Articles, blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook status updates, Facebook pages, social bookmarks with content summaries, answers to questions on the Q&A sites, the list goes on and on. It’s all content that you publish – whether on your own site or someone else’s.

While this is marketing and the intent is to drive traffic back to your website so that you can close sales, it’s also publishing. You’re in the information publishing business no matter what other business you consider yourself in.

When you think of yourself as a publisher, then you gain a lot more clout. You gain instant credibility. You can suddenly own and control the flow of content and information. If you aren’t doing that, then it’s controlling you.