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Matt McGee shares that he recently published a blog post on Sunday, a time when most experts say is the worst time to publish a blog post. But is it really?

I have to concur with Matt’s conclusion. There’s no best time to publish a blog post.

Well, actually, there is. It’s when you publish it. There’s no better time than the moment you get the idea, write the post, and hit Publish. Why wait?

You can spend all your time thinking about the best time to publish your content, or just write it and publish it. Planning doesn’t involve second-guessing when people are going to share your stuff, bookmark it, send it to their friends, or sit on the pot with their tablet and take it all in. They’ll share, send, read, and retweet when it’s convenient for them. Your job is to simply write and publish – on your own time.

I fully believe in editorial calendars. You can plan a month out all of your content – and you should. Plan to publish your material at the most apropos time in conjunction with important events and in sync with your community’s goings on. But be flexible. Allow it to change if necessary.

But quit thinking your blog posts have to go out on a certain day or at a certain time each day to be most effective. It’s not true.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team, often takes questions from people and answers them via video. WebProNews featured one of these questions from Cutts recently regarding synonyms in your content.

Regarding the use of synonyms in your on-page content, Matt Cutts makes the following comments:

  • Use both words, “without sounding artificial or stilted or spammy”
  • “Make sure that you mention, in a natural way, that you are good at both of those”
  • “Maybe once it’s a USB drive, and the next time it’s a USB stick, and at the bottom of the page it’s a flash drive”
  • Read the text aloud and ask, “Does it sound stilted? Does it sound artificial?”
  • “Try to use the words in a natural way as long as it doesn’t go too far, and people start to notice that it sounds weird”

Notice how many times he used the words “natural,” “artificial,” and “stilted.” He even used “spammy” once, and “weird.” The idea is to use natural language writing techniques to cover the topics you write about online. That is, write as if you were writing about your topic and search engines didn’t exist.

If you use the same keyword phrase over and over again in your content, then it will likely sound artificial or spammy. You don’t want that. So you do want to substitute your keyword phrase a few times with something that is synonymous. You want to do that so that your writing does come across as natural and not stilted. But here’s the catch – if you replace your primary keyword phrase too often and use too many synonyms just for the sake of using synonyms, then it will sound unnatural.

So the key is to find that balance, that in-between place, where you focus on your primary keyword but substitute it for a synonym in certain places so that your content flows smoothly from beginning to end.

Cyber Monday sales are up. Surprise!

Sarcasm aside, online sales go up every year for Cyber Monday. But what is fairly new is that mobile sales have gone up the last couple of years. This year they went up 96% from last year and now represent 13% of total sales on Cyber Monday.

I think this can be attributed to only one thing – an increase in smartphone sales.

More people are buying smartphones all the time. Since this time last year smartphone sales have gone up tremendously. I don’t see this changing. I think more people will probably get a smartphone for Christmas. Those who don’t will likely get their own before Christmas next year. More people using smartphones, and tablets, only means more potential shoppers for Christmas. It’s a chain reaction.

This illustrates the growing importance of mobile marketing. I think mobile marketing is going to increase in popularity and effectiveness in the next few years. Social media is still effective if you do it the right way, but mobile marketing is more like traditional online marketing. It’s simply done on a different device.

If you’re looking for the next opportunity in online marketing, look at mobile marketing. Think long term, not right now.

I’ve heard more than a few arguments about whether or not long or short content is best for online marketing. To tell the truth, I think it’s a losing argument no matter which side you’re on.

The advocates of short content take that approach because they believe that people won’t read long form content. The truth, however, is that people will read long form content if it is good. They won’t read it if it is not good, but they won’t read short form content if isn’t good either.

Advocates for long form content argue that search engines have more to feed on with long content. The more content you have the more queries you can rank for. That’s true. But if the content isn’t worth reading, ranking well for it won’t matter. You’ll get a lot of bounces if you get traffic at all.

The key to any and all content, whether short or long, is to make it good. Quality content is the best content.

So does that mean that size doesn’t matter? Not really. Size matters if you want to increase your chances at ranking for more search queries, but you have to take the time to do your research and write content that deserves to rank well. That means writing content that people want to read. If you can consistently produce high quality content in long form, then you should do well online.

Today is the biggest shopping day of the year. People are flocking to their favorite online stores to take advantage of today-only specials to purchase Christmas gifts for their loved ones. Will you be one of them? Better yet, will your online store be one of the merchants that Christmas shoppers visit today?

Cyber Monday is not just a one day event. If you haven’t thought about it yet, then you may be too late. But there are some last minute things you can do.

For starters, why not offer a last minute mark down? Just because you haven’t created any specials yet doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. How about offering a generic 10% off any item in your store, or a discount on a purchase of $50 or more? Or you could simply offer free shipping – today only.

These types of specials are easy to implement. All you have to do is update your website and send out an e-mail to your mailing list. Then promote the special through Facebook, Twitter, and your other social media accounts.

You might even drive traffic to your landing page through a well-targeted PPC campaign.

While last minute mark downs are not the most effective way to promote your Cyber Monday specials, they can get you some additional business or at least gain you a few customers down the road. People who shop on Cyber Monday may not buy today, but when they see an item they like and they can’t find it anywhere else for a better price, they’ll be back.

Google+ Hangouts just keeps getting better. Did you know you can livestream your hangouts over YouTube, and even on your own website?

It’s true. All you need is a computer, a Google+ account, and a webcam. Then you can plan, schedule, and broadcast your very own Hangout. You can use your Hangout for anything you want. Here are a few ways you can use Google+ Hangouts:

  • Hold a series of classes or workshops
  • Host a webinar
  • Answer customer service questions in realtime
  • Take care of customer service issues with multiple people having the same problem at the same time
  • Make an important announcement about your business
  • Introduce a new product or service
  • Conduct private business meetings
  • Present awards, promotions or other honors across great distances

I’m sure you can think of other uses for Google+ Hangouts. The cool thing about Hangouts is that they are free. Instead of paying for meeting or webinar meetings, you can have them on Google+ for free. And you can livestream them over YouTube or your own website – again, for free.

Innovative online marketers are always trying something new and always testing the latest technology available to them. Google+ Hangouts is still new enough that you can be on the ground floor.

There are two annual shopping days that have achieved famous, or infamous, notoriety. One has been in the popular imagination since before the Internet was commercialized. The other is strictly an online shopping phenomenon.

Black Friday. That’s the traditional biggest shopping day of the year. It’s the day after Thanksgiving, which is tomorrow.

Black Friday is the day offline retailers look forward to. It’s the day that many stores open early to allow shoppers inside to ransack the store and fight over ugly baby dolls. It’s also the day when they earn their paycheck for the year. If you are an offline retailer and you haven’t started your promotions – including your online promotions – to get people to your store on Black Friday, then you are way behind.

Cyber Monday is the other shopping day. It’s the day that online retailers, e-tailers, look forward to – the busiest online shopping day of the year.

Like Black Friday, if you haven’t started promoting Cyber Monday sales, then you’re way behind. Those should have been planned and promoted months ago. But it’s not too late to start marketing for the holiday. You still have a month to go until Christmas. You may be late to the party, but you can still get in. Start your Christmas sales today, and turn this into the best Christmas ever.

If you own a small business and you’ve been wondering how you can take your business online to Pinterest, your prayers have now been answered. In other words, you can now set up a business account on one of the fastest growing social networks online.

Pinterest is highly visual. You can pin your favorite photos and that has the potential to drive new customers to your business website. Not only can you pin photos, but you can also pin videos.

And you can share, re-pin, and like the photos and videos posted by other users.

Until now, Pinterest has encouraged individuals to use its services. They’ve only tolerated business users. Recently, however, Pinterest has set up a business subdomain and now allows businesses to set up brand pages, allowing them to convert their current accounts if they have them. I highly recommend that you do this.

If you are a business currently using Pinterest, it would be a good move to convert your account to a business brand page. If you are not on Pinterest and you have a lot of images on your site, or videos, then I’d encourage you to join Pinterest and start pinning.

Don’t delay. The future of your marketing plan starts right now.

More and more, I’m seeing top-notch SEO experts – people who have been the top leaders in SEO and Internet marketing for more than ten years – saying that chasing keywords is no longer an SEO best practice. That just doesn’t seem right, but I’ll have to agree with them. If you want to rank well in the search engines going into 2013, I recommend focusing on high quality content without the keyword spam.

What do I mean by that?

Jill Whalen has an article at SiteProNews listing 18 former SEO best practices that could now work against you. I think this is a very important list.

Right in the middle of her article, however, is this paragraph:

Today, and for the foreseeable future, SEO is much less about optimizing for specific keywords, and much more about technical issues, social signals, and the overall trustworthiness of a company and its website.

Pay attention here because this is real important. The emphasized phrases are mine.

Trust: The New SEO

If you aren’t optimizing for specific keywords, then what are you optimizing for? Answer: Trust. That’s it. Your new buzzword going forward is trust. That’s the new SEO.

Does that mean you can’t use keywords? No, not at all. It does mean that your keywords should not be the focal point of your content. The needs of your readers should be the focal point of your content with the end goal of earning and building trust at the forefront of your thinking process.

In reality, this is the way it should have always been. Keywords can get your site ranked, though going forward this is questionable, but they won’t build trust in your brand. Only high quality content that meets the needs of your readers can do that.

Forget about stuffing keywords into your content, building back links with anchor text, and other manipulative SEO tactics. Just write great content. That’s your new SEO strategy.

More and more, I see websites ranking for key terms that don’t appear in their title tags and that don’t have any measurable inbound anchor text using that specific key term for which they are ranking. And in many cases the key term isn’t anywhere on the page. I’m not the only person who has noticed this.

So what’s happening?

Rand Fishkin does a good job of explaining about co-citation, which makes a lot of sense actually. We’ve looked at another type of citation that Google has become adept at using for SEO purposes in the local space as it relates to Google Places. Maybe Google is taking what it has learned from Google Places citations and applied it across the Net as a whole. That wouldn’t surprise me.

SEO is changing, folks. What used to work isn’t working any more for a lot of people. That doesn’t mean that anchor text, title tags, and other classic SEO tactics are dead, or dying. What it does mean is that they may have a diminished effect in the future as Google learns to look for other clues that will help it rank web pages for specific search queries that webmasters may not necessarily be targeting.

Is this good news? I think it is. I think it could mean less spam in the search results, but I also think it will make SEO better for online marketers who want to do it right.

Online reputation management is one of the most important tasks for any business in today’s multimedia culture. Once you decide to start marketing your business online, you are engaged in some type of reputation management. You might as well make your reputation-enhancing activities a proactive agenda item in your efforts to increase your business online.

One of your most important tools for managing your reputation online is social media. That includes Facebook and Twitter as well as any niche social sites you use, social and mobile apps, and collaboration tools. Anything with a social element can be used for your online reputation management needs.

Rich Gorman has a short-but-sweet article at Marketing Pilgrim that touches on how to use use social media for online reputation management. His three recommendations include:

  • Picking the right platform
  • Engaging the user
  • Using keywords

These are really easy to decipher. When it comes to picking the right social media platforms, all you have to do is ask where your target audience is, and where will your content have the biggest impact? That may be Facebook or it could be LinkedIn. It could even be a smaller network like Quora or FourSquare.

User engagement is also important. Don’t just spam the social media sites with useless information. Try to engage and interact with other users with posts that will help them and make you an expert in your niche.

Finally, keywords are searchable. Don’t overdo it, but do include keywords in your posts.

Social media engagement is reputation management. The more you do, the more you’re likely to increase your standing in the community and the more you risk doing something that will have a backlash on your reputation. Be wise and stay connected.

When it comes to marketing online, do you know how to find the right niche? Is it all about keywords? Should you take your most profitable keywords – the ones that Google says are most profitable – and turn those into your primary source of income?

No. I think you’d be surprised at how simple it is to discover the right niche.

If you want to own an online business that will earn you a steady income, start with your passions. What do you care about? What’s the most important thing to you? What do you think about more than anything else?

Write down five things that really float your boat. Prioritize them. Which is the most important, and which is least?

Now, conduct a preliminary keyword research for each item on the list. How many strong keywords do you see that you could target? Now go to Google and Bing and conduct a search for the top 5 keywords on each list. How much competition do you have for those keywords?

You want to try to quantify a value for the level of competition and the potential for search engine optimization. But don’t let that value determine your niche. Go back to your passions.

Is there anything about your research that would indicate one of your passions is too narrow or too broad? If so, put it aside. Focus on something that will allow you ample opportunities for income but not force you into an overly competitive environment.

When it comes to building an online niche, start with your passions. Let them rule the day.

There is a lot of talk among SEOs about White Hat strategies and Black Hat strategies. Obviously, you want to stay away from the Black Hat SEO tactics and go with the White Hat tactics. But there’s just one problem. Every White Hat SEO tactic has the potential to become a Black Hat tactic.

I’m not being facetious. All it takes to become a Black Hat SEO is to take a White Hat technique and overdo it. Many have done it.

Google algorithm updates are full of historic swipes at large numbers of Internet marketers who learned how to SEO their websites from gurus, ninjas, and purveyors of White Hat tactics. What’s good today may be bad tomorrow in the eyes of the search engines. That’s why I advocate any SEO tactic being employed in moderation.

Too many blog comment links can be detrimental. The reason is because so many commentators are only after the links.

Take any SEO tactic that has worked for someone and you can find someone else that it has hurt. That includes simple implementations like using a keyword in your page title. It works because it’s a practice that has been recognized by the industry to get pages to rank well. BUT, there have been some cases where a web page has ranked for a search term that was not included in the page title. It happens all the time. And there are instances, as well, where search terms in page titles couldn’t save a web page from being de-listed or falling in the SERPs.

I’m not saying that search terms added to a page title will get your site de-listed or cause you to fall in the rankings. What I am saying is if you take a good thing to excess, then you could be considered a Black Hat SEO practitioner by the search engines.

Do the good things, but do them in moderation.

Small Business Newz lists the top 10 trending opportunities for small businesses. Interestingly, the first five are firmly established and growing online marketing tactics. I think in five years these will be so mainstream that you can’t ignore them. So what are those five? Let’s take a look.

  1. Social networks – This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been online for the last couple of years, but I think niche networks will grow to be even more popular than the big five (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube).
  2. Geolocation – Services like Foursquare and Facebook location updates are putting business owners just around the corner from their customers. Your office can be anywhere.
  3. Crowdsourcing – Small Business Newz proclaims the excellencies of deal and discount sites, but crowdsourcing can come in many formats. And it will.
  4. Social commerce – A blend between social networking and e-commerce, small businesses can use these sites to create outposts with shopping carts. Why just have one storefront when you can have several storefronts, each one getting its own traffic and with its own conversion rate that you can measure and control.
  5. Referral-based review sites – We’re talking about sites like Yelp that allow customers to review businesses and then refer traffic to those businesses. Already popular, I think you’ll see more of these types of sites pop up in the future, and you’ll likely see them serving specific niches.

The trend online for any new marketing tactic is to fan out from the general to the specific. New trends start with general audiences in mind, then when something catches on the concept goes specific with niche-targeting technology. I think you’ll see it with every one of these top 5 online marketing trends.

Not all content is created equal. You can produce or create content that has temporal value. It can even have intrinsic value. And of course, even content that is temporal can have tremendous value even if for a short time. But there is no value quite like eternal value. That’s what evergreen content can do for your business.

So what is evergreen content? I’ve identified 4 very important qualities of evergreen content that every online marketer should know. If you know these qualities, then you can create evergreen content on a regular basis and keep visitors coming to your website over and over again.

  1. Search engine optimized – Evergreen content is content that can be found through a simple search query. It has to have some SEO value and be searchable.
  2. Valuable to a large variety of people – The content itself must have some intrinsic value. That value must crossover to people from a variety of backgrounds and achieve some sort of cross-appeal to multiple audiences.
  3. Must be shareable – Evergreen content is content that people want to share with their friends.
  4. Lasting value – As its name implies, evergreen content is content that has lasting value. It isn’t trendy or fashionable one day and unnoticeable the next. News is rarely evergreen because it by nature is transient. But informational content that has the same value next year or next decade as it has today will always be searchable and shareable. It’s truly evergreen content.

Are you looking for content that appeals to a broad audience and will be valuable for a very long time? You should be. It’s the most valuable content you can produce.

Online marketing is a multimedia enterprise. Some small businesses do it effectively while others struggle day to day. To truly be effective at marketing online, you’ll need to learn how to use images effectively. Here are 6 ways you can use images for better online marketing.

  1. Turn them into infographics – Infographics are popular right now, and they’re effective. Use eye-popping images with statistics and a powerful message to highlight key talking points and drive your target market to take action.
  2. Create shareable memes – On Facebook, Google+ and other social networks, memes get people talking. Your images with just a few choice words can give people something to talk about.
  3. “Look inside” photos – Show people on your social networks what goes on in your business “behind the scenes.” Take photos of your customers and employees interacting and doing their thing. Then post them on Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.
  4. Make them Pintering – Take cool photos and share them on Pinterest. Watch them go viral.
  5. Add them to your blog posts – Your blog posts will become a hundred times more interesting with images that draw readers in. Pick the right images and you’ll get more readers, more traffic, and more interaction.
  6. Liven up your Timeline – Your Facebook Timeline is the place people go to see what you’re all about. Make it easy for them. Give them images to look at and they’ll stay longer and interact with you. With the proper Facebook engagement, you’ll be the life of the party.

You make your online marketing better with images in many formats. So why not take advantage of the opportunity?

In the midst of a great article on measuring ROI in search engine optimization campaigns, Michael Martinez started talking about depreciating link values. That’s an odd way to talk about link building, isn’t it? But it’s really not – not if you consider inbound links an asset.

A Website’s intrinsic value should include the intrinsic value of the links that point to it. So I feel, anyway. Hence, if you can assign a dollar value to links you can improve your asset valuation of a Website. Furthermore, if you incorporate link decay models into your depreciation methodology you can measure a type of growth in asset value that can be used to infer future conversions over virtually any period of time.

All of that’s well and good when determining the value of a website, but what about in determining the value of a link building campaign?

In order for links to depreciate, they have to appreciate. The value of a link is not necessarily what you pay for it – and I’m not talking about buying links. No matter what kind of link building you do, you have to expend some money to do it. So how do you determine link value?

4 Ways To Determine Link Value

One way to determine inbound link value is the traffic generation method. If you can assign a value to each unique visitor and to each real visitor to your website, then you can value your inbound links by the amount of traffic generation they deliver.

The downside to this method is that it doesn’t take into consideration your search engine rankings.

Another way to determine inbound link value is to measure your search engine rankings, but that doesn’t take into consider your website traffic or conversions. It’s not a very good way to judge value because there are a lot of other factors you can’t control.

You can measure link values solely on how well they convert traffic to sales, but there are weaknesses to that model as well. Not all conversions take place the first time a link is clicked, or the first time a visitor arrives at your site. A visitor could click a link and visit your website, then visit it again through a SERP, and finally convert through a PPC ad. So what is the value of that link then?

The fourth way to measure link values is by using a combination of the above methods. The downside to doing this is that you run the risk of counting certain link qualities more than once. Still, by making an honest effort, you can close the loopholes on each method and you stand a better chance of seeing a realistic picture of your link values.

Are you familiar with the term “persona marketing?” Probably not. I just made it up. But there is such a thing as using personas to market your products and services. It’s nothing new.

Marketers have been using personas for years. It’s your voice. You can create a character with its own persona and write from that character’s point of view or you can use your own natural voice and make that your persona. The key is to create a memorable character, real or imagined, that people can relate to and respond to.

If you create a great persona for your marketing efforts, your content will be unique. And that’s the most important thing your content online should be.

When your content is unique and your target market responds favorably to the persona you’ve created to promote your brand, you’ll increase your visitors, your unique visitors, and your conversions. That’s what marketing is all about – making the most of your marketing opportunities to present your message in a unique manner using a voice that is unique to you and your business. That’s persona marketing in a nutshell.

There’s never been a better opportunity to succeed with persona marketing than there is right now. No matter what business or niche you are in, use your persona to entertain, enlighten, and sell to your target market.

54% of the top brands are now using Instagram, but what is that? In short, it’s a photo sharing app for your smartphone. But what can you do with it?

Several small business owners share what they do with Instagram, but the question is this: Is it for you?

Like all social media, what you get out of Instagram is directly related to what you put into it. You don’t have to spend all day taking photos and sharing them to make it work for you. I think it will be more rewarding if you use Instagram in conjunction with other social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

The key to any social network, and that includes Instagram, is to integrate it into your overall online marketing plan.

Rather than use Instagram to push your brand on unsuspecting consumers, why not just use it to highlight key aspects of your business once or twice a day – or, once or twice a week even? You don’t have to make a big splash to be effective. All you have to do is be consistent.

Instagram, like Pinterest, Photobucket, and Flickr, allows you to share important news and events about your business in a graphic way, and images can often be more powerful than words. Just be smart in how you incorporate it into your business. Think it through and it can work for you.

A new study shows SmartPhone clicks have gone up 105% year over year since last year. Traffic from tablet users has gone up a whopping 339% year over year.

Are you astounded?

You shouldn’t be. We’ve been saying mobile marketing is growing, and now we have the proof. In fact, it’s growing by leaps and bounds.

Click traffic overall is up 21% in the U.S.

If you are engaged in online marketing or e-commerce at all, then you need to pay attention to these numbers. I don’t think this is a fluke. I fully expect these trends to continue for at least 3-5 years. More and more people are using Smartphones and using them for shopping online. People are using their Smartphones for finding local businesses and making purchases from global businesses online. Now the question to ask is, how can you tap into that money?

The first step is to make sure that your website is mobile-ready. That includes design as well as your ordering system. Can mobile users access your website?

After making sure that mobile users can access your website and use it, try marketing it. That’s right, marketing your mobile site is a tad bit different than marketing your main website. You can use PPC ads to drive traffic to your mobile site and use other acceptable online marketing methods to reach mobile customers specifically just as you do in searching for other customers.

The age of mobile has arrived. Don’t pass up this opportunity.