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Here’s a story for you. Famous stand up comedian Louis CK ditches traditional media and decides to deliver his own comedy routines through his website for $5 per download. Either that is genius of the highest order or sheer folly. What do you think?

Here’s what I think: He’s paving a new path for others to follow. And they will.

In every field there are innovators. The innovators come first. They meet with mild success, or sometimes wild success, while others watch and learn. Then, the second wave hits. Others pick up where the innovators left off and take that success to a new level.

I think we’re entering a new era. Creators have realized they no longer need a publisher or a large benefactor to increase their market share and visibility. Louis CK built his reputation on the backs of large companies who gave him a platform. Now that he has his platform he can take it out on his own. And he’ll likely succeed because he’s creative, good with business and has attainable goals.

What about you? Can you take your business on its own? Can you innovate? Should you?

Entrepreneurs can learn from the creative geniuses among us. Internet marketing is changing the playing field. Have you noticed?

Google+ Pages for Business are finally here. Some of use have been waiting for these for awhile.

If you’re wondering just what a Google+ business page is, think of it as a Facebook page for Google. There are, of course, some subtle differences between Google+ pages and Facebook pages. One such difference is that you must have a Google+ personal account before you can add a page. But that’s a minor hurdle. I recommend that you get a personal account as well.

So what can you do with a Google+ business page?

For one thing, you can post to Google+. If you’re not sure if that’s a benefit or not, consider these points and then make up your mind.

  • Google+ is owned by Google, the largest search engine online. While SEO benefits are currently unproven, you can bet that Google will eventually provide greater weight to personal profiles and business pages for brands.
  • Increased online reputation management opportunities.
  • Better targeted marketing as you can create circles around your different market segments and communicate with each segment more easily.
  • Multiple pages possible, which means you can have one for each product or brand you support as well as each location you serve.
  • More effective video marketing since YouTube and Google+ are integrated allowing you to share videos more easily.
  • Google+ is the fastest growing social media website in history.
  • You can schedule hangouts with your clients and partners and communicate for free with them via video right inside Google+

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Google+ is only going to get better. If you haven’t joined yet, I highly recommend that you do and set up your business pages now.

Social media sites have risen from nowhere to be the most popular sites online. Facebook is currently the most trafficked website online. It used to be Yahoo! Then Google.

YouTube is the second biggest search engine online. But it’s more of a social media website due to its viral video nature.

Twitter and Google+ are both in the top ten most trafficked sites online as well. And LinkedIn isn’t too far behind.

But the race isn’t over yet. All of the social media sites are working hard every day to improve themselves. The latest, Google+, is constantly improving and growing fast. It could become the second most trafficked website online in a matter of months. And Google is already suggesting that it will be the face of Google in the future. How that will affect its traffic numbers is anybody’s guess.

Who will ultimately win this war between social media websites is indeterminable. What is important for business owners is that you have menu options. You are not stuck using one social media site for your marketing and branding.

In fact, if you aren’t using multiple sites to establish a social media presence, then you aren’t getting the full benefit of social media marketing. The best approach to social media is to analyze the sites for their strengths and determine which ones make most sense for your business, niche, and situation.

If you haven’t started using Google+ yet, I have one more reason why you might consider it. YouTube video marketing has just got easier. In fact, it’s easier than Facebook and Twitter.

It happened in just the last couple of days. Google added a YouTube search feature. In the top right corner of your screen (if you’re using Google+) you’ll see the YouTube icon. Click it and a search bar extends left a couple of inches.

All you have to do is enter a search term. When you do, a popup box the size of a YouTube video appears with a video playing related to your search term and a playlist below it. You can watch videos right through the playlist or go to the video you want to watch. Then, when you want to share on Google+, you click the green Share button.

The share button allows you to pick your circles, write a message, and send, just like on Google+.

So how do you make the most of this? If you’re a video marketer, upload your video to YouTube. When you’re ready to share it on Google+, just use the YouTube search feature. It’s the easiest video marketing I’ve seen to date.

Google is not just a search engine. In fact, for many businesses it’s a life source. There are many ways that Google as a company helps small businesses, or can. Here are some of the best services that Google offers for small businesses looking to establish a presence on the Internet.

  • Sites – Need a website? Google Sites allows small business owners to establish a basic website without having to pay for hosting.
  • GmailGmail provides e-mail addresses for millions of online marketers and business owners.
  • Blogger – Google’s Blogger service allows anyone to establish a blog online – even for business.
  • Images – If you use images on your blog or website, you can get unlimited hosting with Picasa.
  • Image Editing – Edit your images with Picnik.
  • Video Marketing – Start your own channel, host and market your videos (and your business) with YouTube.
  • Offers – Promote your business through Google Offers.
  • Reader – Keep tabs on your competition and other important industry news blogs with Google Reader.
  • Alerts – Monitor your reputation and important topics with Google Alerts.
  • Code – Create awesome products with Google Code.
  • Trends – Research popular search trends you can respond to within your niche.
  • Custom Search – Create your own search engine and use it for your website.
  • Google+ – Go social with Google+, Google’s own social networking website.
  • Checkout – Take payments on your website with Google Checkout.
  • Calendar – Stay organized with Google Calendar.
  • Documents – Create and share your business documents with Google Docs.

I’m certain these are not the only Google services you can use for your business. You can find more through Google’s service listing page.

I’m also not saying that I recommend all of these services. In some cases there is a better alternative. For instance, PayPal is a much better payment service than Google Checkout, but if you were so inclined you could feasibly run your business using Google Checkout and take credit card payments through your website (you can do the same thing with PayPal).

In this century, Google provides small business owners with many services that allows you to run your business entirely on Google.

Here’s an interesting post on how social media is changing search. There’s actually some real serious thought fodder here.

Specifically, here are a few snippets to bite into:

If I want to find information about very recent events, such as the things going on at occupy wallstreet or occupy oakland, I’ve been finding it much easier to type the hashtags for those into twitter than search at Google or Bing or Yahoo. At this point, Twitter still seems to be very much ahead of Google’s new freshness approach in pointing out recent pages about those protest movements.

Amen to that! Twitter’s been ahead of the search engines on recent information for a couple of years now. Twitter has actually become a breaking news center and is able to get news to the public faster than traditional news outlets. The search engines have yet to capitalize on that need.

(Source) So Google needs to have the best product to continue selling ad space. That product was ironically endangered by Caffeine. With Panda Google tries to solve the content issue and with the Social Signals linked inextricably to the Authors and Publishers tries to solve the obsolescence of the Link Graph.

Bill Slawski concludes:

Some topics demand very fresh content, and social media has raised the expectations of searchers by providing them with a way of finding fresh information on natural disasters, breaking news events, and other topics that are recency sensitive. If you search at one of the search engines and get no results for those topics, that might seem like a failure on their part. Google’s move towards providing fresher results was pretty much demanded by the expectations of searchers who want fresher content.

I for one believe the search engines have not yet fully tapped into social media’s potential for their search results. We’ve got a ways to go. But I do believe they are working on it. Bing is probably ahead of Google in terms of social media impact on search results simply because it includes Facebook in its results. And you can use Facebook to conduct Bing searches.

Don’t think that Google isn’t thinking of ways to make its search better with social media. Google+ is a big part of that effort and I suspect will become an even bigger part of the picture in the future.

Danny Sullivan created a Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors. The idea itself is so sublime that the mere thought of it is worth mentioning. It’s a cool idea because it renders a quick visual look at the most important SEO ranking factors while keeping it simple.

So what are the most important SEO ranking factors?

According to the chart, the most important SEO ranking factors include:

  • Content quality
  • Keyword research
  • Inbound link quality
  • Site crawlability
  • Social trust and authority

Important negative ranking factors include link buying and cloaking. Those two sins alone can be site killers.

These are, of course, not the only SEO ranking factors, but they are the most important meaning that focusing on these factors before you worry about anything else is of prime importance.

Danny Sullivan’s table wasn’t mean to be exhaustive. It was meant to be a gentle reminder of what is truly important in SEO. Other factors that might be less influential should still be considered, but ignoring these “most important” SEO ranking factors will almost certainly kill your chances at ranking well for the keywords you want to rank for. They are essential factors for consideration.

When it comes to SEO, don’t just focus on one or two ranking factors. Spend some time learning the principles of SEO and the things that don’t change over time. Everything else is temporal.

When it comes to online publicity, not all publicity is good PR. That’s what this article at Entrepreneur.com says, and I agree.

There are plenty of ways you can hurt your reputation by publishing at the wrong venue. Here are four specific ways you can do more harm than good by engaging in bad PR practices:

  1. Promoting news to people not likely to become your customers. Why waste your time chasing parked cars?
  2. You could drive traffic away from your website instead of to it.
  3. Publishing content on sites with a bad reputation due to unedited or unfocused content, cheap ads, spam, or warez can give you a bad reputation by association.
  4. Sending content to someone else might help them more than it helps you.

Sometimes, publishing content on your own website can benefit you more than publishing it elsewhere. While everyone desires good inbound links, bad inbound links can be harmful. It is best to maintain your reputation and guard it as much as possible.

If you have a content marketing strategy, try refining it to include a system for evaluating potential link partners and content partners. Don’t publish your content anywhere it could hurt you. Protect your online reputation at all costs.

Is it possible to brand your business with videos? Of course, we believe it is. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your video branding strategy.

  • Include you logo and business brand name in every video. Make it a standard practice to showcase your business logo and brand in the opening sequence of your video and in the closing frame at a minimum.
  • Use a cornered logo often and when practical. In lieu of the above suggestion, add your logo to the corner of your video screen so that it is visible throughout your videos.
  • Create a YouTube channel. Distribution is a key element to video branding. Create a YouTube channel and distribute your videos on a regular basis through that channel.
  • Establish a voice for your videos. If you use the same voice over artist for every video, you’ll establish that voice for your company and it can work as a branding element.
  • Establish a visual style. Small elements such as video transitions and effects can be used to brand your videos. The key is consistency across all your videos.

Video branding is all about establishing top-of-mind awareness for your brand through videos. It can be done with simple elements and a consistent approach.