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If you write, promote, post, or market a blog or website content in any fashion, then I’d chance to say that you are a publisher. But what does that mean, exactly?

The definition of “publisher” has changed. In the old days, it meant you contracted with writers and agents to produce written manuscripts. You were often the risk taker in the business process of producing written works. You put up the money for the content being produced and saw the project through from beginning to end. You were seldom the creator of the content itself.

All of that has changed in the Internet age. Today you can be a publisher without as much risk. If you have a blog on your website, you’re a publisher. If you write and post articles online – even if those articles are not on your website – then you might be a publisher.

Why does that matter? It matters because if you are a publisher, then you should act like a publisher.

A publisher is concerned as much with the cost of producing content as much as he is with the actual process of producing the content. That means you must concern yourself with the cost of acquiring content if you don’t produce it yourself, the time cost of producing your own content, and the return on your investment in terms of the money your content makes. That’s what publishers do.

Content marketing is about producing quality content for your readers, but publishing content is about measuring the return on that content. If you want to run a business online, you have to think like a publisher.

Is it getting more difficult to market a business online? I can see how a business owner would think so. There is so much to think about. You have to build a website, then you have to promote your website. You have to come up with a search engine marketing strategy, perhaps a pay-per-click advertising strategy, and put together a social media marketing plan. You may need a video marketing plan, an e-mail marketing plan, and even a display advertising plan in some niches. There really is a lot to think about.

While there is a lot to think about when you embark upon an Internet marketing venture, it isn’t as difficult as it seems. There are some things that are actually easier online than off line. For instance, there is a lot that you can measure online that measuring off line is unheard of.

Still, it helps to have a plan.

A good Internet marketing plan starts with research. In your research you should include some time to study your competition. Learn what the movers in your niche are up to. Not that you’ll follow them, but it helps to know what others have done and are doing in your industry. You may find some things that you like that you want to emulate while tossing out other strategies that don’t fit in with your goals and mission.

When you start with research you will eliminate a lot of your options. Taking items off the table that don’t belong there is a good way to narrow your focus and research can help you do that. Build your online marketing plan on solid research and it gets easier. A lot easier in most cases.

Google’s latest algorithm update is now starting to be called Penguin. At first it was an unnamed update that Google said was necessary to combat webspam. It’s interesting that now they’ve decided it needs a name.

There is a huge difference between an overoptimized website and a website that relies on spam for rankings. You can be one without being the other. I’m sure Google knows that.

But that doesn’t mean that overoptimization is excusable. You may have crossed a line, but it wasn’t a big line.

So what is overoptimization, exactly? In my mind, an example of overoptimization would be too many keywords. It’s when you focus so heavily on keywords that you end up chasing the keywords and therefore include too many on your web page. Maybe you didn’t go so overboard that you are a spammer. Maybe you just went a little overboard.

Overoptimization happens when fairly innocent Internet marketers try to hard to achieve the right rankings.

Sometimes overoptimization can simply be an aggregate of a lot of small errors. Maybe you have too many keywords in your domain name and too many on your web page, plus your inbound links are all using one keyword so you have no link diversity. The key is to scale back on your use of keywords and use a level head where your content is concerned.

If you write content for human readers rather than robots, you shouldn’t have an overoptimization problem. And you definitely won’t have a spam problem.

Wordstream has a colorful, and very helpful, infographic that shows the best of the best Internet marketing tools in 10 different categories. Specifically, the categories addressed are:

  • Web analytics
  • Social media management
  • Content marketing and blogging
  • Search engine optimization
  • Pay-per-click marketing
  • Marketing automation
  • Video hosting management
  • Conversion rate optimization
  • Crowdsourcing
  • E-mail marketing

You’d think a company putting together that kind of list would include only paid services in hopes they might earn some affiliate money, but that’s not the case. Some of the marketing tools are actually free. Many of them, in fact.

Among the free Internet marketing tools that made the list are Google Analytics, HootSuite, WordPress, Joomla, Google Webmaster Tools, Vimeo, WordWatch, Google Website Optimizer, evly, NetProspex, and several others. There is at least one free service under each of the above 10 product categories.

So, what’s it mean?

If you’re savvy with your investment dollars you can run your online business using all free tools.

While I wouldn’t necessarily agree with every service on the list as I’d probably add some tools that aren’t on the list, but I will say that the infographic gives a good visual representation of some tools that are available for startups. But if you really want to shine and get your service the recognition it deserves, you’ll still have to spend some money on content creation.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to run your business online. You can find awesome Internet marketing tools for free, and most of these have value added services that you can pay for as your business grows.

If you are looking for a way to make yourself more popular on Facebook, some scientists in the Netherlands have the answer. You need sexier friends.

Two scientists conducted a study using 78 people and their conclusion was that if you want to increase your Facebook popularity, then you should have more attractive friends. Is that a useful study?

Social scientists have for years now said that popularity off line in part has something to do with how attractive you are or your friends are, but does that translate online? Maybe it does. But I don’t think a sampling of 78 people in a study is enough to make that statement definitive, do you?

Nevertheless, it’s worth giving it a try. Maybe you can go around looking for attractive Facebook people to add to your friends list. Then what?

These kinds of studies don’t do businesses much good at all. You are looking for customers, people who will interact with your brand and purchase your products or services. That requires a certain level of targeting. If attractive people are your target market, then by all means seek out the most attractive people you can find. But if attractiveness has nothing to do with who is in the market for your goods, then don’t consider it.

Facebook is a place where people go to meet new friends and interact with their current friends. Don’t overcomplicate your social networking. Just do it.

Google has always had it out for webspam. After all, it dilutes the search engine’s search results and makes it difficult for real quality content to rank as high as it should. That’s why webmasters should kill the spam before Google does.

Yesterday Google announced another algorithm update that will address some of the ongoing webspam issues. In January, the company addressed content quality with an algorithm that punished web pages with too many ads at the top.

It behooves you to keep an eye on what Google, and all the search engines, are up to so that you don’t run afoul of their policies. By keeping your site “clean” – or free of spam – you increase your chances of ranking well for your keywords.

Many an innocent business owner has found herself slipping in rankings because of some algorithmic change that addressed a problem that the business owner didn’t know was a problem. You might think you are following search engine guidelines only to discover that the practices you’ve been engaged in are practices the search engines don’t favor.

The best way to protect yourself from algorithmic changes that make your site good today and not-so-good tomorrow is to follow the search engine blogs and stay up-to-date on their policies. But if you can’t do that – admittedly, it is nearly a full-time task – then hire an SEO firm that does keep on top of industry changes and tries to steer clear of objectionable practices.

SEO is ever-changing. It requires daily practice and daily monitoring.

Have you ever checked your referral logs or analytics and saw a search query that someone found your site for and wondered why you ended up ranking for that search term? Have you ever seen that search query show up more than once in your referral logs and analytics reports? If you’re like me, I’m sure you have.

What happened?

SEO Theory’s Michael Martinez says this.

Search engines don’t stop ranking your pages at the end of your list of carefully chosen keywords. If they find expressions your page is relevant to that you didn’t think of, they’ll give you some exposure you didn’t count on. The difference between a real long tail strategy and a faux long tail strategy is the absence of popular head terms in your search goals.

What most business owners, and even a lot of SEOs, don’t understand is that the magic that happens in search happens when the searcher enters a search query in the search query box and clicks the Search button. It does NOT happen when you optimize your web page.

So what does that mean exactly?

Well, you can optimize your pages endlessly, do all the keyword research you can think of, and build link after link after link with the very best anchor text possible and still get traffic for search queries you didn’t think of. That happens because search engine robots are looking for content that matches search queries. They are not looking for search queries that match your content.

That’s an important distinction. But what does it mean in terms of search? Here’s what I think it means:

Quit chasing keywords. Instead, chase the customers that are important to your business – the ones most likely to buy your products and services. You cannot guess every search query those customers will use to find you on the Web. What you can do is write great content that attracts the people you want to do business with. Then promote that content where those people hang out.

Does your website need a sitemap? And if so, where do you get one?

First, let’s talk about what a sitemap is.

A sitemap is a list of web pages on your website that you submit to the search engines to make your site easier to crawl and index. I’ve seen some smaller websites get by without a website, but if you have more than 10 pages on your site, then I’d say a sitemap is definitely necessary. Even if you have fewer than 10 pages on your website, a sitemap could benefit you.

Don’t rely on the search engines to crawl every page on your site. Get a sitemap.

One of the most important benefits to a sitemap is that you can assign priority to your pages. Your home page should have the highest priority. But if you have second and third tier pages on your site, then you can assign a priority to them accordingly. The search engines will crawl those sites based on that priority.

A sitemap is an XML file that you upload to your website and submit to the search engines. You should also include a TXT sitemap, and HTML sitemap, and an ROR sitemap on your site. These are for your human visitors.

There are several sitemap generator websites online. One that I recommend is XML-Sitemaps.com. You generate your sitemap and upload the files to your server.

A sitemap will increase your chances of getting your pages crawled and indexed. You can have a separate sitemap for each section of your website and if you have a large website, then that might be in order. You can also have a video sitemap for your site’s video section. Anything you can do to help the search engines index your website should be done.

Funny how so many people are willing to tell you how to optimize a web page but they can’t do it themselves. They’ve read the book, they know all the right things to say, but where are their rankings?

They don’t have any.

Real SEO is not about chasing keywords. Keywords are important, yes. But if you can’t rank a web page without doing keyword research, then you probably aren’t doing your SEO right. Stop it.

Search engine optimization is about creating opportunities. It’s not about following 10-year-old advice as if it is today’s recipe.

So now the big question is, How do you create opportunities with search engine optimization? Glad you asked.

What world class copywriters do is study copywriting techniques. They write headlines that grab readers’ attentions. Then they write content that people want to read. And they do it so well that you wish you had written it. On any given day a good online copywriter can get their content to rank for hundreds of keywords. They write content that matters.

Instead of chasing keywords, try instead to write as keywords don’t matter. Don’t just pick a popular phrase that a lot of other people have written about and write a post about it. Instead, write a post about something that people in your niche want to know about. Write it without worrying about what keyword to use.

I’m not saying keywords are not important. What I am saying is that bad content can’t be saved by keywords. Learn to write good content before you try to spruce it up with keywords.

It appears that large companies have given up their blogs and flocked to social media instead. The reason they’re giving up is because they say that social media is easier to manage than a blog. But is it?

I love this paragraph by Cynthia Boris:

Just remember that if you want your social media outlets to benefit you, you have to do more than just keep the lights on. You have to provide meaningful content that engages your audience. In that respect, it’s just as hard as blogging, but most people don’t see it that way.

Not only that, but …

What blogs give you that you don’t get with social media, is a chance to communicate without all the noise. On Facebook, you’re one of a dozen posts competing for instant attention. An hour later, you’re off the front page and forgotten.

What Cynthia Boris doesn’t say is that your company blog also provides you with search engine optimization benefits that Facebook and Twitter don’t offer. OK, Twitter does offer a little bit of SEO juice, but it’s nowhere near what your blog has to offer.

Every blog post you write is another chance to be seen in a search result. Your blog itself increases its SEO chutzpah with longevity. And you can build invaluable internal links with a blog. Facebook has blocked Google so your posts aren’t going to be indexed and your links back to your site won’t be seen. Twitter is in bed with Bing, not Google.

I’m not saying don’t use Facebook or Twitter. They have their place. But having a blog is one of the best SEO tools you can have. If you have trouble coming up with content, maybe you should think about hiring someone else to manage your blog.

It’s been talked about before, even predicted. TV is going social. But I think TV is going social in a way that wasn’t foreseen. Cynthia Boris at Marketing Pilgrim talks about it.

It seems that 64% of TV watchers have seen a social symbol appear on a program they’ve watched. Cool. But then she goes on to report that 33% of them acted on that symbol.

This is all great. What she’s really saying is that TV programming executives are now adding Like buttons, QR codes, and other social buttons on the moving images on the screen. So viewers are using their smart phones to interact with their TVs, Liking TV shows, and performing other tasks as well. That’s it?

OK, so I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t that enough? I mean, social TV has arrived.

Yes, it has. But I think the bigger question is how many TV programs actually employ the social buttons?

If you consider that the average TV watcher spends 2-5 hours watching TV during a 24-hour period, how many shows will they watch during that time? And only 64% of them saw a social button.

Let’s figure 30 minutes per show. A 3-hour-a-day viewer will watch 6 shows. Let’s say she’s a part of the 64%. She saw the Like button on one of her favorite shows. That’s 1 show in 6. Less than 20% of the programming.

Don’t get me wrong. I think social TV is a big deal. I think it will be even a bigger deal in 10 years. In fact, I expect that the “social” part of TV will become even more social, allowing TV viewers across great distances to interact with each on their TV screens while they are watching the same show. I can imagine people using their televisions as a sort of social network in itself.

We’ve only touched the tip of the pond with this social TV thing. Sure, it’s something to get excited about. But let’s hold onto our hats. It will get better. Don’t you think?

Do you have your contact information clearly visible on your small business’s website? If not, why not?

I’d say this is one of the most important pieces of information to include on any website, especially if your business is a local small business that serves a geographically-based targeted audience. Your contact information is essential.

The days are long gone when the average person pulled out a Yellow Pages and thumbed through it to find a local business to customize. Today, more than half of the people in any given geographical market will go online and conduct a search for a business and they’ll most likely use Google. Ninety percent of them will use either Google or Bing. Therefore, your contact information is essential.

There are places other than your own website where it might be prudent to include your contact information. For a local business, you should claim your Google Places and Bing Local listings. A listing at several of various local business directories like Yelp and SuperPages might also be in order. But your website is the most important place for your local contact information. It is there where people are likely to engage with you and to seek out your services. If your website is optimized for the right keywords and geographical audience, then contact information will be even more essential.

People search for phone numbers online. All they have to do is type in your business name. If you have a website, what do you think they will find? If they are looking for your phone number, address, or e-mail contact information and it isn’t on your website, they will go to your competitor. It’s really that simple.

If you do a fair amount of TV advertising and your target market is Web savvy or a tech savvy audience that spends time on YouTube, then you can improve your TV advertising performance by adding a YouTube channel to your campaign. How do I know? It’s been done before.

Watch this video and you’ll see what I mean.

Using YouTube for audience engagement is nothing new, and I’m sure other television advertisers have added a YouTube channel to their TV advertising campaigns. But I haven’t seen anyone talking about the results from doing so – until now.

Reciprocal Consulting has said all along that a YouTube-TV advertising combination would be effective. Just think about it. You can produce one video for your YouTube channel and use it for your TV advertising as well. That will save you on the cost of production of your videos.

Another way to make it pay is to produce two versions of the same video – one for TV and one for YouTube. If your video tells the same story with two different endings, then you can drive traffic from the TV ad to the YouTube channel where you can get a little deeper engagement with your audience, not to mention track them a little more closely. Then, your engaged audience can interact with you in the comments of your YouTube channel.

If you have thought about adding an online video marketing element to your TV advertising campaigns, there is no better time than now.

A lot has been said of marketing toward particular segments of the population and that includes the differences between the generational segments. For instance, if you are marketing products and services toward Baby Boomers, then you would position your brand differently than if you were marketing toward Millennials (younger people between 18 and 34).

But is there any validity to this marketing argument?

I think it depends on the product and service. Obviously, some products appeal to older populations that younger people aren’t going to be interested in. An AARP membership, for instance.

But what about generic products or products that cross generational lines in terms of interest and usability?

I think the key is to outline the benefits of your product for the consumer. Maybe older people are looking for a different benefit than younger people when it comes to your product. Maybe not. The key to any marketing – even online marketing – is to sell the benefits of the product or service. The question is, How?

If you have different market segments that seek different benefits for the same product, then it might be prudent to target them separately the same way that marketers in the TV and print advertising age have done. In that case, you might build two separate websites and focus optimizing them for the right keywords for each market. Then use the right social media sites to drive traffic and make connections based on the market.

Market segmentation is nothing new. Online, however, it might take on a different flavor. Think about it in terms of benefit for each segment and you can’t go wrong.

I’ve been reading more and more about AuthorRank lately. So let’s define what that is.

AuthorRank is a new ranking algorithm instituted by Google. While it isn’t official in terms of Google itself saying this is what they do, speculation among SEOs and Internet marketers is that this is the direction Google is moving and the way authority will be judged in the future. It actually makes a lot of sense.

Instead of analyzing raw back links, Google will analyze who those links are from. Not “who” as in web properties, but “who” as in actual authors.

For instance, if you are linked to from another website in your niche, that’s grand. But if Bob Jones links to you from that website and Bob Jones is the most authoritative author in your niche, then that’s pure gold. If Sally Matthews is a new author with a slightly positive authority, then that link from her article will carry some weight based on the authority of the website, but it won’t carry as much authority as a link from Bob Jones.

Under this system, AuthorRank makes recommendations (links) from established authoritative authors much more valuable. The system will invariably do away with spam and link gaming. But it has to be managed.

In other words, AuthorRank is a score (kind of like a credit score) that will force web authors to pay much more careful attention to who they link to and why. They will have to manage their authority within their various niches. You might as well call it a type of reputation management.

As I said, this isn’t official, but I can see the Web moving in that direction and it’s all going to start making Web authors be more careful with what they with with their links.

Content marketing is the best way to reach your market today. In fact, it’s really the only way. You’re either effective at it or you’re not. But where do you publish your content?

Here is a list of 12 essential content marketing channels for your online content. Use as many as you have time to manage.

  1. Pinterest – Pinterest is the new kid on the block, but if you have graphics on any of your Web properties, then it’s a great channel to incorporate into your marketing plan.
  2. Tumblr – Tumblr, too, is highly graphic in nature, but unlike Pinterest it is also very textual. You can incorporate your best graphics with textual content and build a community around your content pretty doggone fast.
  3. Blogger – Blogger is the original blogging platform. While it hasn’t changed much over the years, it has gotten better.
  4. WordPress – This competitor to Blogger is another platform you should incorporate into your content marketing strategy.
  5. Your own domain – Your blog and website at your own domain name is the best content marketing channel you have. Don’t abandon it or, for goodness sake, forget about it.
  6. YouTube – If you have video content or you’ve been thinking about producing video content, then you should have a YouTube channel.
  7. Twitter – You can actually say a lot in 140 characters, and drive tons of traffic.
  8. Facebook – Connect with old friends and make new ones. Build a page for your brand. But don’t stop there. It’s the most trafficked website in the world.
  9. HubPages – Build your own hubs and monetize, plus drive traffic to your own web pages with solid, original content.
  10. Squidoo – Create lenses on any topic in which you are an expert, and point your links back to your website. It’s the perfect marketing channel.
  11. LinkedIn – Meet other business people, ask questions about your topics of interest, answer some, and make connections for life.
  12. Quora – If you are an expert on any subject in the world, Quora is the place to prove it.

Now that you know the 12 essential content marketing channels, what are you going to do about them?

What will Internet marketing look like in 2032, twenty years from now? Care to take a guess?

If you look at the history of Internet marketing from the beginning of the World Wide Web until now, it’s very interesting how we have progressed to the point that we have.

  • 1990 – Birth of the World Wide Web including browsers and hypertext, online bulletin boards are very popular communication channels
  • 1993 – Excite, the world’s first search engine, was created
  • 1994 – AltaVista was created and later would become the world’s first major search engine; Yahoo! became the first powerhouse Web directory
  • 1995 – GeoCities launched, becomes the first successful online community; webrings begin to rise in popularity
  • 1997 – SixDegrees is the first official social network
  • 1998 – Google was born, the first search engine to analyze back links
  • 1999 – Overture became the first company to offer pay per click advertising; Blogger.com launches
  • 2000 – Google enters PPC market with Google AdWords
  • 2003 – Google AdSense program starts, increasing Google’s hold on the PPC market; LinkedIn and MySpace both launch
  • 2004 – Facebook is created
  • 2005 – YouTube launches; Google introduces personalized search
  • 2006 – MicroSoft LiveSearc started; Twitter launches
  • 2007 – Mobile marketing starts to pick up
  • 2008 – Facebook becomes most popular social network
  • 2009 – LiveSearch rebrands, becomes Bing; Google rolls out personalized search for logged out users
  • 2010 – Local search becomes more important
  • 2011 – Google+ launches, Google proclaims it is the future of the search engine’s search and social product

This is a very sketchy history of Internet marketing, but it can shed some light on the direction that online marketing is going. More personal, more local, more social, more mobile, and incorporating more video and visual results. So what will all of that look like in 2032?

Truthfully, it’s anybody’s guess, but if I had to hazard a guess I would say that all of these components of search will be more integrated and more sophisticated. Are you preparing your company to make the most of your opportunities in each of these online marketing channels?

Do you have a good idea for a YouTube channel? Think you could become the Jon Stewart of online video entertainment or the Brian Williams of online video news content? What about your own niche programming serving up videos to your website’s audience. Maybe you could be the Tim “The Toolman” Taylor of hardware, or you could deliver video car reviews.

Whatever your passion is, you can now enjoy the same monetization opportunities on YouTube that were previously only open to producers of popular content.

In other words, if you have only 500 subscribers to your YouTube channel and regularly receive just 20 likes on your videos, that’s OK. You can still join the YouTube partnership program and start monetizing your videos. This is an incredible opportunity. Not only can it provide incentive and encouragement for you to continue with those videos – if you’ve considered giving up due to lack of attention – but you might be able to leverage it into an additional revenue stream for your business.

The first step, of course, is to sign up for a YouTube account. If you haven’t considered your own YouTube channel until now, it might be a good time to do so.

The second step is to start producing videos. The good news is they don’t have to be long videos. You can post 1 ten minute video per week and with the proper social network campaign you could drive your viewership up and up and up. That will increase your revenues and your exposure.

If you’ve had an eye on YouTube, start your video marketing right now. You have one more motivation.

The best viral marketing sometimes just happens. Such was the case recently when hundreds of thousands of people shared a photo of a smiling man within minutes. The man has since come to be called The Ridiculously Photogenic Man.

Which is, uhm, a bit ridiculous.

But of course, it took off and soon after news and talk shows on TV were discussing him. Talk about going viral. It doesn’t get any more viral than that.

And the thing is, the man whose image went viral didn’t even know about it until after it happened. Not only was it not planned, but he didn’t even have knowledge of it. Still, he reaped the rewards of 15 minutes of fame and the Cooper River Bridge Run got some notoriety from it as well.

So here’s the eternal question. How can social media marketers learn to go viral using this meme as an example. What can we learn from it?

  1. No. 1, I think it’s important to point out that promoting someone else first can go a long way. The John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health is a good cause. They didn’t plan this or have anything to do with it, but they certainly can reap the benefits from a viral meme that spun out of control.
  2. Step back and let it run. Don’t force it. Let others take the ball and run.
  3. Just put it out there. You never know what will happen if you put a little drop into the stream. That’s a metaphor for “just do it.”

Viral marketing doesn’t always have to be planned. Sometimes the best way to get a little attention is to be spontaneous.

One of the most important parts of search engine optimization is also the part that is most often downplayed by the SEO community and by webmasters in general. Almost everyone is fixated on the technical aspects of SEO – keyword research, keyword density, meta tags, alt tags, etc. But you don’t often hear about how important creativity is in the SEO process.

When I speak of creativity, what I’m really talking about is bringing something unique to web pages. That’s something unique in the web design as well as in the content delivery.

Creativity is important in the SEO process because it makes your website unique, not only to visitors but also to the search engines. You want to feed the robots with information the can’t find somewhere else. You can do that in one of two ways.

The first way to be unique in your content is to provide information that no one else provides. That’s a bit difficult, but it can be done. You want to look for opportunities to bring to light information that no one else has access to or has left ignored. If you can do that, then you can take advantage of the creative aspect of search engine optimization by providing unique information.

The second way to present unique content is in the presentation. This one is much easier to implement than the first method. You can take care of the presentation by focusing on web design, site structure, or content presentation elements on the page – for instance, use of videos, infographics, or other interesting visual and non-visual content delivery elements. You can also add rich snippets to your page to increase your search engine optimization possibilities.

Creative SEO can be handled in any number of ways, but it’s a very important aspect to SEO in the 21st century. Make your website unique.