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Keyword selection is one of the most important aspects of online marketing. When you complete your keyword list you’ll use your keywords for SEO, social media, reputation management, article marketing, blogging, pay per click marketing, and a host of other online activities. So making sure you have a good keyword list is necessary to increase your marketing advantage.

Here are eight ways you can conduct keyword research to find the best keywords for your business.

  1. PPC – Run a limited PPC campaign to test keywords that you can also use on organic search, social media, and other online marketing campaigns.
  2. Blogging – Write a few blog posts to target specific keywords you might be interested in. See how well they rank and whether or not they draw traffic.
  3. Competitive Research – Go on a scouring expedition to analyze keywords used by your competition on their websites. Check meta tags, content, and links, particularly inbound links.
  4. Social Media – You can also test your keywords on social media sites. Build a Facebook page, use them in your Twitter message, and see what kind of responses you get on your links.
  5. Build Microsites – Test your keywords with microsites. If they rank well and draw traffic, you can build new landing pages on your company website.
  6. Landing Pages – Just the reverse of the previous suggestion, test your keywords on landing pages. If they work well, build a microsite.
  7. Video Marketing – You can also test keywords with videos on video sharing websites.
  8. Conduct A Survey – Ask your website visitors and social media friends. Ask them if they’d respond more favorably to “X” or “Y.”

Keyword research is one of the most important aspects of the online marketing process. Don’t leave it out.

Leave it to Aaron Wall to come up with the link building is dead infographic. But the veteran SEO has been chiding Google for its policies for several years now. Still, I think he has a good point. This infographic illustrates how traditional link building is dying. (I’d embed it, but the smallest option – 640px – is too wide for this blog.)

What I think this infographic is saying is that Google is favoring big corporations at the expense of small businesses. Do you see that? Do you agree?

Something else that Aaron Wall does not mention in this infographic is Google+. I believe it is Google’s hope that everyone will start using Google+, then they will know what your interests are intrinsically. Link building won’t be necessary if Google can rely entirely on social cues to deliver you the content you’d be most interested in. And companies that spend their time building links for SEO purposes will just be wasting their time.

This makes me wonder what kind of Web we’ll have 2-5 years from now. Will link building be completely dead? Will the Web be entirely social and will the Web’s biggest search engine deliver all its results based on how you interact with Google+?

What do you think?

Veteran journalist and Web entrepreneur John Battelle is writing a book about what the Web might look like a generation from now. He has some very interesting ideas and he will often give a little glimpse into what he is thinking along those lines on his blog. His latest post is about the Internet’s “Big Five” – the key players in the Web to come.

It’s easy to see where he is coming from in choosing these companies to represent what the world may look like 25 years from now. But that’s a long time in Internet time. Remember, it only took a decade for any of these companies to make an impact on the world as it is now.

But his blog post does make me question some things about the direction that the Web is moving in. Here are a few that come to mind.

  1. Will Apple primarily become a mobile app company?
  2. Why hasn’t Microsoft leveraged its core products by hosting them in the cloud? It seems that this could be a key area of competitive advantage given the popularity of services like Google Docs, Zoho, and Salesforce.
  3. Can Google succeed in becoming the core reputation management platform online? Has it already?
  4. Is Amazon the Wal-Mart of the Web? Can it put Wal-Mart “out of business?”
  5. Can Amazon position itself as the premier cloud service for the Web in the next 20 years?
  6. Would a public IPO push Facebook higher in the rankings, perhaps past Amazon, or Google?
  7. Who will emerge as the Internet’s most prominent icon for the next generation? Will it be Google, Facebook, Amazon, or some company we haven’t heard of yet?
  8. Can Google win as long as it maintains confidence in the Open Source Web given that none of the other four companies do?

The interesting thing about this list is that Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon all have core online businesses. Apple is integrated heavily into mobile apps. Google, of course, is the leading search engine. Facebook is the leading social network. Amazon is the leading e-commerce website. Only Microsoft has a core business that is not an online business – its Office suite of products. How will that affect the Internet for the next generation. If Microsoft doesn’t take its core product online, will it become obsolete?

What are your thoughts?

Is it a good marketing strategy to develop multiple Facebook pages? It depends. There is a lot riding on your ability to manage multiple pages. Here are some thoughts to ponder.

  • Do you have the resources to manage multiple pages? For every page you have you’ll need at least one administrator. Does your administrator have time to manage those pages while also attending to their other duties within the company?
  • Do you have the money to outsource the administration of your Facebook pages? If you cannot have someone inside your organization manage your pages, then you’ll have to pay someone else to do it. Is it affordable?
  • Does each Facebook page have a strategy? It’s conceivable to have a Facebook page for each product you sell or each division within your company, but you also need a strategy for each page. Who is responsible for developing that strategy and is implementation feasible for each page you want to develop?
  • Do you have enough content to fill each page you want to develop?

Facebook marketing has become a strategy all on its own. Make sure you have the proper resource before you implement a Facebook marketing strategy, including multiple pages for your business.

All content falls into three categories. Whether it is video content, text-based content, display advertising, or something else. There really are only three kinds of content.

  1. On-Page Content – On-page content is everything that appears on your web pages and is visible to human eyes. It can be Google AdSense, videos, articles, your blog, or a widget. It’s the content that either adds to or subtracts from your page’s ability to achieve high search engine rankings.
  2. Off-Page Content – Off-page content is designed to do one thing – send visitors to your website. Some off-page content may also provide you with link building benefits. This, too, can be any type of content visible to human eyes. Videos, articles, blog comments, forum comments, social media content or anything that appears on a website other than yours and either serves to build inbound links to your website, boost your reputation, or drive traffic to your site – maybe even a combination of the three.
  3. Code – In the code category of content is anything that is read by the search engines or rendered by Web browsers. This includes your HTML code, JavaScript, PHP, CSS, and other “behind the scenes” elements that are viewed only by the search engines and Web browsers unless your human visitors View Source.

All three types of content have the potential to affect your search engine rankings and your website’s reputation. Guard them well, present them professionally.

You’ve likely heard of blogs. There’s nothing really magical about them, but you can use a blog for your business to increase your market and talk to your customers. Here are 7 ways you can use a blog to boost your business and your brand online.

  1. Search engine optimization – Well optimized blog posts can increase your standing in the search engines.
  2. Social media optimization – Promote your blog through the popular social networks to increase your traffic and brand exposure.
  3. Field questions about your business – A blog allows your customers and potential customers to communicate with you. You can answer their questions and build your brand.
  4. Network with others in your industry – A blog is a conversation. Your market is a conversation. Why not join the two?
  5. Increased search engine rankings – Not only can each individual blog post be optimized, but the more blog posts you have the more chances you have of being ranked in the search engines.
  6. Close more sales – You can use your blog to close sales simply by putting links to your landing pages in high profile locations on the blog.
  7. Customer service – Handle customer service issues on your blog in less time and with fewer expenses.

You no longer have to sit on the sidelines and watch while your competitors steal the market. You can use a blog to drive more business to your website and increase your search engine and social media exposure.

Not all links have to be text links. Of course, text links are more valuable than image links, but when building out your link portfolio, think diversity. Images can diversify your links and do it in ways beyond the obvious kinds of links. Some websites might never link to you textually, but might use an image you offer while compensating you with an attribution link.

Here are 9 creative ways to encourage other webmasters to link to you with images.

  1. Create an image resource center on your website and allow anyone to use them as long as they give you a link back to your website.
  2. Use your own images in your blog and use a keyword phrase in the image’s caption to link to an internal page on your website.
  3. Send an e-mail to websites that hotlink your images and ask them to download the image and upload it to their own servers, then link back to you. If they refuse or don’t answer, send them a follow up reminding them that your suggestion is better than being slapped with a DMCA complaint.
  4. Start a Flickr, Photobucket, or Picasa account and include instructions to anyone who wants to use your images showing them how to link to you.
  5. Create an image widget and allow others to use it on their websites.
  6. Run an image contest
  7. Start an image blog
  8. Send out a social media release to Pitchengine.
  9. Send your images to photo bloggers and ask them to review your image gallery.

Link building is an important part of running a website, but doing the same old thing can get tiresome. Try a few creative methods of link building with images.

Facebook has been in the news a lot lately. Here are some of the biggest headlines regarding Facebook and what they are up to in these times:

With all this talk of Facebook, if you run a business and you want to know the best practices for marketing through Facebook, talk to someone who knows how to meet your needs.

UGC stands for user generated content. If you use it, it means less work for you, more monetization opportunities, fewer time management hurdles, and possibly even better content. In most cases, it also means more website traffic.

User generated content can be solicited in any number of ways, however. And it can take on many forms. It can be straight textual content, other graphical content, photographs, videos, social networking content, or a mixture of the above. But how do you get people to send you their content to start with?

First, you should build your own content and get the pump primed. Once you’ve attracted a certain level of traffic, start building your platform. Then, put a call out on your website, in your e-mail blasts, and in forums within your niche.

You should make it easy for your website visitors to upload their content. Add a membership feature to your website and give each member the means to add content within their own community profile area. That content can be anything they desire, but you should encourage content that compliments the content you’ve already loaded to your site and that attracted people to it in the first place.

User generated content is how savvy webmasters build communities today. But you must build the platform.

Conversational marketing is a concept that has been around for about as long as the Internet. First outlined in a book titled “The Cluetrain Manifesto,” it espouses that idea that markets have always been conversations – with the exception of that brief period in the 20th century that was dominated by mass media.

Unfortunately, some businesses – big businesses, in particular – are still trying to play the mass media game. But it doesn’t work. Not in conversations.

The Internet allows consumers and marketers to enter into a conversation where they can mutually agree to terms that benefit both parties. That’s what commerce has traditionally been based on. Both parties receiving a benefit in exchange for a benefit. And that’s what the Internet fosters as well. You and your clients can enter into transactions that lead to mutual benefit. But it starts with a conversation.

Online, conversations generally take place through social media.

If you’ll open up accounts at the popular social media hot spots – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ – then you can enter into conversations with your customers, or prospective customers. Then you can take those conversations to your blog and ultimately to your internal communications – videoconferencing, phone, e-mail, etc.

Don’t overlook the power of conversational marketing. It is a two-way street that offers untold benefits in the digital age.