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Would you believe me if I said that Pinterest drives more traffic to websites than Yahoo! and Bing? According to this article, it’s true. Pinterest trails only Google and Facebook in terms of outside referrers according to numbers tracked by Shareaholic.

So, does that mean you should be using Pinterest? Not necessarily.

The test for using a social media website for your marketing initiatives should not be how much traffic it generates for other marketers. After all, what works for one company may not work for yours.

The most important thing to consider when deciding whether to use a particular social media network for marketing is the demographic make-up of its user base. Is there a significant number of your target audience using that social media site? Are they likely to find your content on Pinterest interesting and useful? If the answer is “yes” to both of those questions, then go ahead and use Pinterest.

Of course, you can ask those questions of any social media website and substitute “Pinterest” with the name of that website.

Pinterest is a great social network. It can be very effective for marketing purposes, but it isn’t for everyone. Before you jump in and start Pinteresting, take some time to determine whether or not you can get the proper mileage from pinning your images.

What should you do when your keyword list runs out and you don’t know what else to write about? There are a number of things you could do. Today, I’m going to suggest a keyword suggestion tool by the name of Soovle.

The first thing you should notice when you arrive at Soovle is the search box in the middle of the screen surrounded by the names of 7 search engines. The 7 base search engines include:

  • Google
  • Amazon
  • Yahoo!
  • Bing
  • YouTube
  • Answers.com
  • Wikipedia

If you type one of your search terms into the search box, you’ll get similar terms appearing over the names of each of these search engines. Click on one of those search terms suggestions at any one of the 7 search engines and you’ll be taken directly to that entry at that search engine.

This is the most basic way to use Soovle. You can click on the little red arrow under the search box to rearrange the search engines on the page. You can also click on one of the small icons below the search box to rearrange the search results so that a particular search engine is at the top of the circle around the page. For instance, click on Amazon’s icon and the Amazon results will appear at the top of the page.

Up in the top right corner of the screen you’ll see a series of links. Click on “engines” and a little pop up appears that allows you to increase the number of search engines from 7 to 11 or 15. Want to switch a search engine for another? Just drag and drop the icon into one of the dotted-lined boxes. Now make another search.

Soovle is real easy to use. It can be a good tool for coming up with additional search terms based on your primary search list.

Video marketing is becoming more and more powerful, and competitive. It’s also one of the best ways to SEO your website. And I mean beyond building inbound links.

Here are 5 SE0 tactics to ensure you employ when conducting your ongoing video marketing:

  1. Submit to more than just YouTube – There are at least 50 video sharing websites online. You should upload every video to YouTube and at least 10 of the more popular video sites in addition to YouTube.
  2. Optimize your video titles – Make sure the title on each video you upload to the various sites mentioned above is unique. If you share one video to ten sites, then you should have ten unique titles. Each of them should use your primary keyword. Also, optimize your description and tags for each video on each site.
  3. Embed your video on your website and/or blog – Google is now indexing embedded videos on websites and sending traffic directly to those sites.
  4. Add a niche-related video section on your website – This will encourage other people in your niche to share their videos on your website. More content equals more SEO.
  5. Create a video sitemap – Sitemaps help search engines find pages to index. If you have a lot of videos on your website, then you should create a video sitemap.

Video optimization is one of the most important activities you can perform if you use videos in your marketing – and you should!

Last Friday, Facebook announced that you can see the searches you’re making. You can also remove your searches, they say. That’s all nice, but why are they tracking them?

Like everything else Facebook does, this new thing is going to be rolled out “over the next few weeks.” In other words, starting “today” (i.e. last Friday), you can see your searches and delete them, but you won’t be able to do that until Facebook actually allows you to do that by adding the Search option under your Activity Log. That will happen at Facebook’s discretion, of course.

Here’s the question: Why is Facebook even tracking your searches? So far, I have met very few people who think Facebook’s search feature is even that good.

Frank Reed at Marketing Pilgrim thinks it’s because Facebook is planning to create a search engine and allowing its users to view and delete their searches prior to making that announcement would ease the shock to privacy advocates. That’s a reasonable suggestion, but does it hold water?

Since Facebook has commented in the past that a search engine could be in the works, I don’t think he’s too far off the mark. If Facebook had a search engine, would you use it? Would you attempt to optimize your content for Facebook search?

Television advertising can get expensive. If you have a larger competitor that is using TV advertising and you want a way to nose in on his turf and siphon away a little business, you can do that with a surreptitious PPC campaign targeting keywords that your competitor is using in his TV ads.

So, how do you do that exactly?

What you want to focus on are brand-specific keywords related to your competition and the products they are promoting on TV. This works especially well if your competitor is promoting a special. Then you can use PPC to undercut that special.

For instance, let’s say your competitor is marketing helium balloons at a 20% discount for customers who buy them by the dozen. The normal price is $3 per balloon, but if the customer buys 12, then it’s $28.80. You can have a PPC campaign that targets your competitor’s brand name, the name of any particular products on sale, etc. Of course, target the generic keywords as well.

People generally search for brand names and product names after they see TV commercials. If you get people clicking on your ads with an offer that undercuts your competition – for example, you could offer 12 helium balloons for $26.00 – then you could siphon away some of that traffic.

It’s a sneaky tactic, but it works like a charm.

It is becoming increasingly more important to have a multi-dimensional approach to using social media. Strictly posting about your company or brand or using social media for SEO purposes isn’t enough. There are other ways to use social media and grow your business, including:

  • Holding contests
  • Solicit feedback on new product lines
  • Monitor brand mentions
  • Organize events
  • Handle customer service issues

Only 46% of small businesses are using social media for customer service.

I agree with those who say that you are not as followable on social media if all you do is promote self-centered posts. Posting about your new product offerings or listing your products and services might be of interest to some followers, but if that is the extent of your posting, then it will wear out quickly. You can round out your social media by posting more third-party news sources, tackling customer service issues, and polling your customers to see what other products they might have an interest in. You can even go so far as to plan and schedule special events.

There’s no limit to what you can do with social media. I encourage you to branch out and get more diverse with your interactions on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

If you’re looking for a new opportunity in video marketing, YouTube has it. But this opportunity requires that you put an educational twist on your videos, not a self-promotional angle.

I hope you don’t see that as a bad thing.

The Internet has always been a place where people have gone to search for information. Therefore, informational-driven content typically does well. In times past, that has existed primarily in text-based content such as articles and blogs. But today, it is just as likely to be in the format of videos, infographics, or multimedia presentations.

Khan Academy is a YouTube channel that is education-focused. If you have a topic that is easily digested and perfect as an educational venue, and you believe you are the right person to deliver educational content on that topic, then here’s your opportunity.

Educational videos are very popular right now – on YouTube and elsewhere. So this opportunity comes at just the right time.

The YouTube opportunity – termed EDU Gurus – will only be open to 10 people, each of whom will receive $1,000 to allow them to purchase educational equipment. But you have to apply for the program. If you’re accepted, then you could be the next YouTube sensation. Here’s your opportunity, all of you who are interested in being video superstars.

What should you do if you discover that your website has a lot of bad inbound links? Can you delete them?

I’ll say right at the outset that it’s difficult to have your bad links removed. You’ll be a lot more effective if you create good links to offset the bad links you have out there. Diluting the effect of bad links is more effective and time efficient in the long run because the search engines measure your authority based on a cumulative effect of your overall marketing efforts online.

But if you were going to try to get those bad links deleted, how would you do it? Here’s a simple step-by-step process that I’d recommend following:

  1. First, identify the bad links. Webmaster Tools is the best way to identify bad links. Some SEO tools will help you with this too. Once you identify them, create a spreadsheet of those links and where they’re located.
  2. Contact the webmasters of the sites where your links are located. Don’t send out a form letter. Contact each one separately. Be personable, polite, and professional. Simply request that links to your site be removed. Many webmasters will ignore your request, but some will not.
  3. Report bad links to Google and Bing through Webmaster Tools.

That’s about all you can do. You will not likely get all of your bad links removed, but you might get some of them removed. Again, your best bet is to create as many good links as you can to dilute the effect of bad links.

Customer loyalty is very important. If you can encourage your customers to come back and do business with you, then you can grow your business beyond your wildest dreams. Many customers already use loyalty cards. In fact, Constant Contact says that the average customer uses their loyalty card every 8 days.

Here are a few other statistics taken from a recent infographic by Constant Contact and CardStar:

  • 73% of consumers use a mobile phone while shopping
  • 3 out of 4 Americans are members of at least one loyalty card program
  • A loyalty card is converted to a mobile app every 8 seconds
  • 93% of the people who use apps while shopping also make purchases at a physical location
  • 30% of CardStar mobile loyalty app users use their cards for grocery shopping and 25% for retail shopping

With more than half of all CardStar mobile loyalty app users scanning their mobile device for purchases at a grocery store or retail store, if you are in the retail business, then it makes sense to have a loyalty card program. If you have one, why not convert it to a mobile app?

Check out the below infographic from Constant Contact and CardStar. Then find out how you can make your mobile app marketing, and your online marketing, more effective with a mobile loyalty offer.

The State of Mobile Loyalty
Like this infographic
? Get more social media marketing tips from Constant Contact.

Many PPC advertisers have the false belief that quality score is all about click-through rates (CTR). That’s a dangerous belief because, first, it isn’t true, and secondly, if you focus entirely on CTR, then you’ll miss out on great PPC opportunities by not paying attention to other important details.

While Google doesn’t share its PPC algorithm and the factors it deems important for a good quality score, there are some very good reasons for believing that CTR is not the brass ring.

I’m not saying CTR isn’t important. I’m simply saying it isn’t the sole determinant of a high quality score. Other factors like landing page experience and load time, keyword groupings, and ad text also bear on the quality score of your PPC ads.

Google is very concerned about landing page load time. That’s why you can now measure your load time in Google Analytics. If it weren’t important, there’d be no way to measure it. You want to make sure that your landing page loads fast. Beyond that, you also want to make sure it is well optimized and that it answers the questions your visitors have when clicking on your PPC ads.

The ad itself is just as important. If your ad text is misleading or not relevant to the landing page, that will detract from your quality score.

Finally, if you have a lot of non-relevant keywords in your keyword group, that will also affect your PPC quality score. So don’t get wrapped around the axle on CTR. It’s important, but not all-important.

Search engine optimization practices have gone through a lot of changes over the years. Early on, webmasters stuffed their web pages with keywords and used meta tags extensively. It was not uncommon to view source on a page and see the meta keywords tag stuffed with hundreds of keywords even if most of them didn’t appear on the web page anywhere. And those pages ranked for those keywords too.

When Google came along, they created an entire economic system based on backlinks. Inbound linking became a new kind of currency – and spam.

Umpteen million algorithm changes later, Google looks at links in a totally different light, meta tags are pretty useless (especially the meta keyword tag), and hardly anyone knows what constitutes effective SEO any more. The game has completely changed.

But has it?

The key to ranking in the search engines has always been quality of content. Yes, you might have built inbound links, wrote impressive meta descriptions, and made sure your page title had your primary keyword in it, but the search engines still focused on the content. Was it any good and did it solve a reader problem? That’s still the case today. Quality content will win out every time.

That’s not to say that search engine spam doesn’t still exist. But if it’s spam, it will eventually disappear from the SERPs. Focus on quality. It’s the only real SEO that’s left any more.

Most businesses approach an online marketing company with a general question like, “what kind of marketing should I do online and what does it cost?”

If an online marketing company answers that question directly, they’re probably not the company you want to go with. The sad fact of the matter is you can’t really define your online marketing strategy unless you define your budget first. Why is that?

Online marketing has blossomed into many different sub-niches. You can use videos online, pay-per-click marketing, social media, search engine optimization strategies, mobile marketing, and the list goes on. Each one of these online marketing channels requires a specialist to put together a strategy that has a remote chance of success. That’s because they’ve each developed into a unique discipline.

You can easily spend $1,000 on marketing your business online and barely touch the tip of the iceberg in terms of opportunities. So you have to narrow your scope to determine what are the best opportunities for your business.

How you spend $300 in PPC is very different in how you can spend the same amount of money on social media. If that’s your monthly budget, then you can’t do both very effectively.

By setting your online budget first, you automatically eliminate certain online marketing channels because you can only do so many videos for $500. That money might be better spent pursuing a channel that allows you to reach your target audience with many more touch points. For this reason, it’s best to meet with an online marketing consultant to help you narrow your opportunities to most cost effective for your business.

It’s getting harder and harder to convert video viewers to customers. It could be because videos are a lot more popular online right now than they’ve ever been, but it’s also because there are so many ways to view videos. People aren’t necessarily watching them on your website. And not necessarily on YouTube either.

People watch videos on social networks and on their mobile phones and tablets too. They may be at home, at work, or standing in line at the movie theater. You have to grab their attention fast and close them.

Here are 4 ways to ensure you get closer to converting video viewers to customers the first time they watch your video:

  1. Keep it short – Few people have time to watch a ten minute video, especially if they feel like they will be sold to. Make it short and hold their interest.
  2. Entertain them – Be entertaining even as you inform. People will sit through two minutes of entertainment more than a 30-second infomercial that is nothing more than a conduit for information.
  3. Add calls to action – If you want people to respond, give them a call to action. Tell them what to do because it may not be obvious.
  4. Close them on the spot – Put your call to action in the video itself rather than having your viewer go to your website and fill out a form. If you can get the click right in the video, then you put your customer one step closer to the conversion. That means you are more likely to get the sale.

Video marketing is becoming more sophisticated every day. Leave nothing to chance.

Exact match domains have been a target of controversy in the SEO world for over a decade. There are people who are die-hard proponents of exact match domain names, then there are those who cite high profile examples of successful websites that are not exact match domains. Here are a few:

  • Google
  • Yahoo!
  • Bing
  • Alexa
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • etc.

The list could go on.

Exact Match Domains Are In Decline

SEOmoz recently conducted a study on whether or not exact match domains are in decline in SEO results. The conclusion was that they are.

The author of the blog post, however, was careful to point out that the fact that exact match domains are in decline does not necessarily mean that the search engines have targeted them in their algorithms. There could be any number of reasons for this decline. Here’s one:

I suspect that, by targeting some forms of spammy anchor text, Penguin disproportionately hit EMDs. Many people who use EMDs solely for ranking purposes are also aggressive with exact-match anchor text. The EMD drop was probably collateral damage.

Don’t Dump Your Exact Match Domain Yet

There are a number of reasons why a webmaster might want an exact match domain name. If it’s for branding purposes, then I think your chances of ranking well with your exact match domain is better – unless you engage in spammy SEO tactics.

On the other hand, if you want an exact match domain name because you think it will help you rank better in the search engines and your intent is to SEO your web pages using exact match keyword phrases and anchor text until you rise to the top, there’s a very good chance that you’ll over-SEO your website and produce the opposite effect. But that will be because of your on-page SEO spam, not necessarily due to your exact match domain.

My personal opinion is that your domain name, exact match or not, enhances what you do on your web pages. If you engage in solid SEO practices that are well received by the search engines, then your domain name can help. But if you engage in on-page spam, then it could also be considered a part of that spam.

Conclusion: Tread lightly.

What are the top three uses for social media among marketers? According to one report, the top three uses for social media are:

  1. Brand Awareness
  2. Marketing Campaign
  3. Content Marketing

These are interesting responses (to a survey question), but what is even more interesting is the breakdown between agency client responses and marketing agencies. It breaks down like this:

  • Brand awareness: 64% clients; 61% agencies
  • Marketing campaign: 44% clients; 37% agencies
  • Content marketing: 37% clients; 38% agencies

The overwhelming category for social media marketing is as a brand awareness channel. A full 20% of clients consider social media a brand awareness channel over anything else while 24% of agencies do so. That’s a pretty big margin.

Another observation regarding brand awareness and social media as marketing campaigns is that more clients see it this way than agencies. Agencies don’t start outweighing client responses until we get to the content marketing category. Then everything below that — customer service, retention, and sales — is weighted more toward agencies.

The third observation is that both agencies and clients each see the hierarchy of importance for social media as the same right down the line, with one notable exception: Agencies see social media as content marketing as slightly more important than social media for marketing campaigns (by 1%).

So what does all this mean?

To me, the categories are not altogether distinctive. Brand awareness and marketing go hand-in-hand. Furthermore, content marketing and marketing campaigns (particularly online marketing) are not inseparable. It seems to me that social media can be all of these, and should be.

When it comes to marketing your business through social media, define your end goals first. Then, strive to meet them through consistency.

If you’re on the back side of life, or approaching it, then you likely remember the old TV commercials featuring the Pepsi-Coke blind taste test. Well, Bing – the search engine – has something similar going on. In their own version of the blind taste test, Bing takes Google on and, according to its own study results, is winning.

I find this quite intriguing. I think the results depends on your search queries. I tried it on what I consider very low results search queries. That is, these are non-popular search queries that likely aren’t searched often, but when they are searched for they are searched for by a specific niche market individual who knows what they want. Bing won a round out of five and there were two draws.

Two draws! I think that’s something to brag about, if you ask me.

I suppose it’s possible that on more popular search queries, Bing could very well win. Perhaps they’re targeting the more popular search queries.

But anyway, if you care to take the Bing blind test, you can head on over to the Bing It On website and take the test for yourself.

This is an aggressive marketing tactic. But will it result in Googlers converting to Bing? Only time will tell. If it does, Bing could become a major player in the search engine war. But if not, I guess we’ll just all be stuck with Google for a little while longer.

Let’s forget about technical SEO for a minute. What qualities should good SEO content have? I think there are 3 essential qualities that every page of SEO content should possess whether or not the author follows a strict technical recipe for search engine rankings. So what are those qualities?

  1. Relevance
  2. Originality
  3. Sincerity

    SEO Relevance

    The key to all good SEO is creating content that is relevant to a search query. This might border on technical SEO, but in terms of content quality, it’s absolutely essential – technical or not. If your page isn’t relevant for at least one specific search query, then you can bet it won’t rank for anything important – if it ranks at all.

    Content Originality

    You might think that relevance is the most important quality, but I don’t think so. Originality is so important that even if you fail to make your content purposely relevant, you could still achieve decent rankings for something on originality alone. Many web pages accidentally achieve respectable rankings even though they lack SEO technicality because they hit a home run in the originality department. Above all else, be original. Duplicate content will get you nowhere.

    Sincerity

    Most readers can spot B.S. when they see it. Fluff is just that. Nothing that anyone wants to read. Make your content shine with sincerity, integrity, and originality. Why produce anything else?

These qualities are probably not what you expected, but I think they are absolutely essential to writing great SEO content in 2012. What do you think?

I signed into my Klout account and saw this message:

We’ve improved the Klout Score to continue giving you the most accurate and transparent influence measurement online. As of today, your Klout Score and history will reflect these upgrades. Here’s what’s new…

After clicking the Next button, Klout informed me that they are now using more sources to measure influence, including Wikipedia, LinkedIn, and +K (they weren’t already using +K?).

This video tells us that Klout is now using more than 400 signals from 7 networks and more than 12 billion inputs per day. That’s impressive. But does it accurately measure influence?

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Klout’s latest update is what they are calling Moments. Moments is a lot like Facebook’s Timeline except that it’s a mash-up of what Klout considers your most important updates from the networks it monitors. Unfortunately, not everyone has Moments yet. A message tells me that all users will be upgraded this week.

Klout still has not started monitoring Quora, Posterous, Yelp, Disqus, bit.ly, and several other networks. These networks have been in the Coming Soon category for quite some time.

So, back to accurate measures. Does Klout accurately measure your influence? It depends on what you mean by influence. The Klout model is still largely a mystery. Some people rely on it religiously while others hardly pay it any mind. Personally, I think Klout has a long way to go. It’s getting better, but I wouldn’t rely on it alone as a strong measure of influence. Consult it, but don’t take it as social media gospel.

Are you tired of social media How To posts that start off by telling you to write a killer profile? What else are you going to do? Of course you’re going to add a profile to your account. That’s what you do when you join a social media site. You tell people who you are. It’s a no-brainer, not some flash of brilliance.

One article I read gave a list of ten things to make your Twitter account stand out. In a nutshell, here’s the sage advice:

  1. Set up a professional profile (As opposed to an unprofessional one?)
  2. Stand out from the crowd (You mean, like, tweet in your underwear?)
  3. Indirect mention (Because influencers are so oblique)
  4. Ask for help (You know you need it)
  5. Help others (They need it too)
  6. Listen (To the sound of silence?)
  7. Be consistent (Why not? Inconsistency is sooooo bad.)
  8. Participate in Twitter chats (Not a bad idea, actually)
  9. Use hashtags (Yep, I agree with that one)
  10. Retweet your followers for influencers (Because influencing the influencers is the most important thing)

There’s actually some pretty good advice in there, and that’s the problem. It’s the same old advice that “Twitter experts” have been giving for five years. Nothing new, really.

So I’d like to give you the down and dirty How To Twitter advice you won’t get anywhere else. It’s a one-step process. You don’t have to memorize 10 dos or don’ts. All you have to know is ONE thing:

Be Yourself

You won’t get any better social media advice than that.