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Google announced this week that they rolled out Penguin 2.0. The Internet is a-buzz with analyses ranging from OMG! to zzzzzz.

Our take? Wake up and go back to sleep.

Algorithm changes are serious business if you have an SEO problem. Or, to put it more succinctly, if you’re running afoul of the search engine guidelines, then you have cause for worry. That doesn’t apply to most of us.

There are certain industries, however, that should be on red alert. Porn, real estate, Viagra, and anything that is typically associated with spam. That doesn’t mean that if you work in these industries you’ll experience a drop in search engine rankings. It does mean that if you work in these industries and you do experience a drop in rankings, you’ll likely find Penguin 2.0 to be the culprit.

Here’s a simple solution for algorithm changes: Don’t sweat them unless you have a reason to.

Sometimes, websites lose rankings when there is no just cause. But keep in mind also that algorithm changes move things around temporarily. You may lose rankings for a short while before popping back up. If you do lose ground and you don’t see your sites rising again after a couple of weeks, then you should be alarmed. Right now, don’t panic.

When you enter into business and decide to compete against other companies in your niche, one of the most important activities you’ll have to engage in competitive analysis. But what should that entail?

There are three key areas that you should analyze your competition on today. This may change in ten years, but today I’d say you need to look at these three areas:

  1. Inbound links – Where are inbound links to your competitors’ websites coming from, what anchor text are they using, and which pages are being linked to?
  2. Social influence – Which social networks are your competition using, how active are they, and what kind of content are they posting on these social sites? Also, try to determine, if you can, the reach your competition has.
  3. Content analysis – This is a very important piece of the competitive analysis puzzle. Look at your competition’s top content. What is it? Also, which pages are getting the most traffic? What kind of on-page optimization strategies are they using?

The idea behind competitive analysis is not to find things to copy from your competition. Rather, you are looking for opportunities they may have missed and looking to see what strategies you might capitalize on.

Competitive analysis is a big part of the overall picture when starting a new business. Don’t forget about it.

Social media has become the big gorilla of online marketing. Unfortunately, it isn’t the panacea that a lot of hype makes it out to be. It can, though, be very rewarding if you work it the right way.

I’m not going to tell you which social media websites to be on. Instead, I’m going to tell you how to make the most of the websites you are on, and what to do if you are posting to certain social media networks. Here are three ways to improve your social media marketing experience.

  1. Be an authority and seek out relationships with other authorities. If you are not a highly respected authority, then you are second rate. That’s the taxonomy of the Web. So how do you do that? One very important way is to seek relationships with other authorities in your niche. If they follow you and share your content, then the search engines will like you better.
  2. Implement Google Authorship. Just by adding the Rel=Author code, along with an image and your byline, to your content, you are telling Google that your content is trustworthy. Trust is very important online. If your content can’t be trusted, then it won’t be ranked by the search engines and no one will find it. Google Authorship helps you do that better.
  3. Add A Twitter Card to your tweets. This is a fairly new tool for Twitter users. If you aren’t on Twitter, don’t worry about it (whether you should be on Twitter is another story). Twitter cards make your tweets more trustworthy. Untrustworthy content doesn’t get shared.

There you have it. Here are three ways to improve your social media marketing campaigns right now. Today.

I’m surprised that the number of small business owners who see value in Google is so low. But I think Frank Reed’s analysis is pretty sound. This is likely based on most small businesses having no clue what Google+ is.

Sadly though it goes even deeper because most don’t even have the knowledge of what Google+ is and why it can be valuable. Simply knowing what they are missing is the first step.

I disagree that Google+ is more valuable to large businesses than small businesses. That may not be what Frank Reed is saying, but it appears to be the case. This:

I would posit that Google+ is truly valuable to larger businesses. Why? Because they have the resources to take advantage of what Google+ offers a business in terms of its SEO efforts.

coupled with this:

But optimizing your Google+ presence requires the usual resources that most SMB’s struggle with which is people, time and money. SMB’s often don’t do what many see as what is best for them in marketing because they simply don’t have these resources.

is what I’m basing that on.

I do agree that Google needs to target agencies like Reciprocal Consulting. These agencies are the conduit between the small business owner and Google as search engine and Web portal. Google+ is a social network, but it is more than a social network. It isn’t Facebook or LinkedIn. There is an additional element of search that I think is lost on most small business owners.

So what’s that mean? I think it means that agencies also need to help small business owners understand the benefits of Google+. Those benefits are something akin to social + search. Even then, I’m not sure that gets to the heart of it.

If you want to win with content marketing strategies, then you’ve got to have the right idea about what content marketing is, what you can do with it, and how it can help your business grow. Unfortunately, a lot of business owners and managers haven’t thought about these questions.

In a word, content marketing is about using online content to discuss important concepts related to your business niche. It isn’t selling. It isn’t lead generation. And it isn’t here-today-gone-tomorrow news. Though it can be all of those. Content marketing is first and foremost about connecting with your audience.

So what can you do with it? Well, for starters, you should be publishing it. Regularly. Think of yourself as a publisher, not a marketer.

Thirdly, how can help your business grow? Try to think of your content as a way to attract eyeballs. You want to provide useful, insightful, and/or entertaining content. If you do that, you’ll attract eyeballs. The selling comes later.

So what are the three most important rules for content marketing? Glad you asked.

  1. Do your homework/research – Find out what people want and deliver that. Plain and simple.
  2. Write for your audience – Seriously. Know who your audience is and write for them. Don’t write for anyone else.
  3. Make every link count – Don’t just add links to your content for the sake of adding links. Don’t do it for the SEO. Do it because the link fits the content. If your links are relevant, people will click them.

Content marketing is your business. See it the right way and you’ll get traffic and conversions.

You can’t hardly turn the TV on any more without hearing a tweet mentioned or see a Twitter account plugged. Major news outlets have Twitter accounts, and news is often first announced on Twitter. But that’s not enough for Twitter. They want to push further.

Twitter Amplify is Twitter’s advertising program, and they’ve announced some new partners:

  • A&E (@AETV)
  • theAudience
  • Bloomberg TV (@BloombergTV)
  • Clear Channel (@ClearChannel)
  • Conde Nast (@CondeNastCorp)
  • Discovery (@Discovery)
  • Major League Baseball (@mlbdotcom)
  • National Cinemedia (@NCMonline)
  • New York Magazine (@NYMag)
  • PGA Tour (@PGATOUR)
  • PMC (@Variety)
  • Time Inc. (@Time_Inc)
  • VEVO (@VEVO)
  • Warner Music (@warnermusic)
  • WWE (@WWE)
  • VICE (@VICE)

Twitter calls these partnerships two-screen partnerships. Brands promote themselves through Promoted Tweets to remind viewers to tune into their TVs at the appropriate times to view their favorite shows and programming. And then the shows often tweet during the airings as well as immediately before and after.

Everything from news programs to sports can be seen on Twitter’s new Amplify.

So how can you turn this into a marketing opportunity for your business? You could contact Twitter and ask how you can participate in the Twitter Amplify program. If it works out, you could expand your audience and reach new people through Twitter and your TV screen.

Google is no stranger to search tools. While we’ve been talking about Yahoo! lately, Google rolled out another search tool called Google Trends Top Charts.

Top Charts is a sort of monthly Zeitgeist. You can search the latest search trends by month and by region.

For instance, the top actor searched for in the United States in April 2013 was Selena Gomez. The top athlete for the same period in the U.S. was Michael Jordan. The top author was William Shakespeare.

If you change the month and year, you’ll see the top searches that month in the U.S. were for Ryan Dunn, LeBron James, and William Shakespeare, respectively.

Let’s go back to December 2004. The top searches in the three aforementioned categories were Lindsey Lohan, Michael Jordan, and, again, William Shakespeare. That Shakespeare guy is one popular fellow!

The list of categories on Top Charts is pretty long. Currently, you can search in the following categories: Actors, Animals, Athletes, Authors, Baseball Players, Baseball Teams, Basketball Players, Basketball Teams, Books, Business People, Car Companies, Cars, Chemical Elements, Cities, Cocktails, Colleges & Universities, Countries & Regions, DJs, Dog Breeds, Drinks, Energy Companies, Financial Brands, Financial Companies, Foods, Games, Government Bodies, Kids’ TV, Medications, Movies, Musical Artists, People, Politicians, Quick Service Restaurants, Reality Shows, Retail Companies, Scientists, Soccer Players, Soccer Teams, Software Technologies, Songs, Space Objects, Sports Cars, Sports Teams, TV Shows, Teen Pop Artists, US Governors, and Whiskeys.

Top Charts goes all the way back to January 2004. Currently, you can only search in the U.S., but other countries are on the way.

If you are running a business in any of these niches, or related niches, then Top Charts is a great search tool. You can use it to write relevant blog topics on current events or run your other promotions.

Back in 2005, Yahoo! purchased Flickr, the world’s first major photo sharing website. Then, nothing happened. Many users thought they screwed it up. Well, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer is on a mission to ensure that Flickr is improved upon.

The company has announced that all Flickr users now have 1 terabyte of storage space.

That’s huge.

With that much storage space, you can upload one photo per hour for forty years and not use up your space. So has Flickr become a great place for uploading and sharing your photos again?

Maybe. The real test will be if users start using the site again. A lot of people left after Yahoo! purchased the site. But if you can upload that many photos for free, then I’d say it’s still a great place to store your photos for using on your website or blog.

But that’s not all. Yahoo! has also improved the look of Flickr, giving it some new features.

Your homepage is now a gateway to everything you care about, and all the photos Flickr has to offer. Our new Activity Feed combines your friends’ recent uploads with activity on your own photos, and all in a beautiful design that lets you share and interact right on the page.

You really should check it out. Flickr’s new look is awesome. And for video marketing, it’s just as awesome. You can now upload videos up to three minutes long.

Friday, we talked about Yahoo!’s new partnership with Twitter. Today, USA Today reported that Yahoo! is purchasing Tumblr for $1.1 billion.

Here’s the kicker: Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer said, “We promise not to screw it up.”

That’s good news. It makes you wonder why she’d say that. People who have been following Yahoo! for a number of years realize it for what it is. Yahoo! executives know they have a problematic history of buying up Web properties and then screwing them up. Mayer’s comment is supposed to be reassurance to Tumblr fans that Yahoo! will accept the blogging site the way it is.

But a lot of them aren’t buying it.

Here’s my question. Assuming that Yahoo! makes good on its promise not to screw up Tumblr, how can this acquisition benefit Internet marketers?

That could happen any number of ways. Already, the company is discussing potential advertising opportunities via Tumblr bloggers agreeing to run ads on their blogs. There’s no definitive answer yet, but if that happens, then Tumblr itself could increase in value in terms of how it can benefit Internet marketers.

It also makes me wonder if Yahoo! has in mind using Twitter in any way within this relationship. Would Tumblr blogs run Twitter ads, by any chance? Or Yahoo! PPC ads?

All of these are unanswered questions, and it may be too soon to speculate. For now, let’s just hope Yahoo! makes good on its promise not to screw up Tumblr.

Remember when Twitter and Google partnered up for realtime search? It didn’t go so well. In 2011, they parted ways because they couldn’t reach an agreement that was acceptable to both parties. Now, Twitter has partnered with Yahoo! to show tweets in Yahoo!s search pages.

This is awkward for a number of reasons.

  • First, you may not think of Yahoo! as a search engine any more, but it is. That really is its core function. However, it is third in the search competitive space with only 5% of the market share on its best day.
  • Because Yahoo! has such a small portion of the search market, that’s not a big feather in the cap for Twitter.
  • It is a huge benefit to Yahoo!, however.
  • I wonder how it makes Google executives feel that they lost a valuable asset to Yahoo!?

Twitter is a valuable medium for any company to partner with. Still, it’s Yahoo! They aren’t exactly a force to be reckoned with any more. On the other hand, you can’t write them off completely.

For search marketers, this is still a good deal. It opens up Yahoo! as a potential new source of indirect traffic. If you are a Twitter user, it’s time to play around to see how your tweets are chosen for display on Yahoo!’s SERPs. There is a lesson in search engine marketing to be learned from this. I’m sure we’ll hear about it from the top pros soon.

If you’ve been waiting for live streaming to come to YouTube, then you can relax. If you have more than 1,000 subscribers to your YouTube channel, then you can engage in live streaming video right now.

This is an awesome opportunity for serious video marketers.

YouTube has been the forerunner in video sharing and video marketing since its inception in 2005. Now that it’s owned by Google, the opportunities for marketing are even better. It’s not just a video marketing platform. It’s a video storage and video sharing platform with huge, HUGE SEO benefits.

Your audience will surely value the live streaming experience. If you produce an informational segment in your niche at a specific time every day, week, or month, then live streaming is perfect.

The WebProNews article highlights some of the features of live streaming on your YouTube channel:

  1. Real-time transcoding in the cloud
  2. Multiple camera angles
  3. Closed captioning
  4. Support for multiple devices
  5. And much more

If you thought YouTube marketing was good before, it just got a lot better. Video marketing is a great way to introduce new clients to your products or engage with new leads. Live streaming video takes the benefits of video marketing and multiplies them.

Are you using Google+? If you are, then you might be excited to learn that Google is planning 41 new features to Google+. Most of these you probably will have no interest in, but some of them do seem exciting.

WebProNews mentioned four of them:

  1. A multi-column desktop format
  2. Related hashtags
  3. A new Hangouts app
  4. A photo-editing feature with multiple components, one of which is dubbed “auto-awesome”

I presume the Hangouts app is going to be an Android app.

The WebProNews article came out yesterday and says, “Most of these new features will be rolling out to Google+ this afternoon.”

I haven’t seen them yet, but maybe they were talking about the other 37 features.

It’s nice to see Google improving Google+. As long as these improvements keep coming, I don’t think the service is in any danger of being killed (like Google is doing with Google Reader this summer). A product that is in continuous improvement mode is not likely to go away. To me, that means you should probably be using it, especially since the implications for search rolled into the product are very high.

Are you using Google+? Will you be using it in the future? Why or why not?

Google’s Matt Cutts, head of the web spam team, posted a YouTube video about upcoming algorithm changes. This is something Google rarely does, but Matt thought it was important he posted on Twitter that “Pretty much every SEO should watch this video:”

I’m going to post the video for you to watch, but before I do, here’s a summary of what you’ll hear:

  1. There will be a major Penguin update
  2. Google will address advertorial spam
  3. Spammy queries will be looked at
  4. He doesn’t say what, specifically, Google will do in this regard, but Matt does say they plan to “go upstream” to address link spam
  5. More sophisticated link analysis (Matt seems really excited about this one even though his language is tentative)
  6. Improvements on how Google handles hacked websites
  7. Algorithm tweaks to boost “authority” as a ranking factor
  8. Google will attempt to soften the blow of Panda for sites in the “gray area”
  9. This one actually makes a lot of sense and it’s surprising Google didn’t think of it sooner, but they will diminish the number of times a domain cluster appears in the SERPs for the same domain, addressing specifically subsequent SERP pages
  10. Improvements to webmaster communication

Much of this has to do with addressing blackhat SEO techniques, so most of us don’t have anything to worry about. The changes that will affect us whitehat guys are mostly positive. Should we be worried, or do you see any of this as good for webmasters?

Watch the video before you answer:

Every once in a while someone jumps up and asks the question, “Are Bing and Yahoo! still relevant?” The short answer is, yes, of course they are still relevant. The long answer is a little more involved, but it goes something like this.

Google enjoys a huge share of the search market. More than 60%. The rest is divided among Bing, Yahoo!, and the various search engines below that (Ask, Mahalo, and even YouTube). While it’s important to make sure your website meets Google’s guidelines so you can rank your website well in its index, it’s equally important to ensure that you diversify your traffic sources.

Those of you who have been around for five years or more may remember MySpace. At one time, it was the No. 1 social network. Now, hardly anyone thinks about it.

Why is MySpace important? Because it should serve as a lesson. Obscurity is just one competitor away no matter who you are – even Google.

Google may be top dog in search today, but that doesn’t mean that Web users won’t find something to replace them next year. It could be Facebook or it could be something else. If you rely entirely on Google and Google starts sending you less traffic (even if they don’t fade into obscurity), then your business is shot. Traffic diversity is one of the most important things for anyone running a business online.

For that reason, Bing and Yahoo! are still relevant. Diversify your website traffic.

Content comes in many forms. One thing remains true, however, for all forms of content. It must be strong or it will lose your audience’s attention.

When I say “strong,” what I mean is your content must do three things:

  1. It must inform your audience of something that is important to them.
  2. It must present you as a subject matter expert.
  3. And it must interest your audience in learning more about you and your business.

Any content that doesn’t do these three things isn’t strong content. But here’s a caveat: You must do these three things in every piece of content you produce without mentioning your company. In other words, you don’t have to write a sales pitch. Make your content about your audience.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds. It requires a certain mindset in the content producer. You can’t be “all about me.”

You have to be all about your customer.

Your audience is going to want to know what’s in it for them. They will judge you by your content, and they will judge you on whether your content meets their needs. If it doesn’t, they will go somewhere else. You won’t have a chance.

So, here’s the question: Is your content strong? If not, why not?

Seth Godin shares his secret for writing viral content. But is it really that simple? Is all you have to do is write for one person?

Well, yes and no.

It seems simple, and it is. But it’s not easy. The first thing you need to know about viral content is that no one can write viral content every day. Not everything you write is going to go viral. But if you can write one piece of viral content every 30-60 days, then you can make a big impact in your niche. Even if you write one piece of viral content every six months, you’ll make a big impact.

Seth Godin is right about one thing, however. You can’t plan viral content.

You can plan content, and you should. The way to write your content is to think of your ideal audience. Who are you writing to? Write to that person as if your life depends on it. And embed enough value into your content that the person you are writing to cannot help but share it. Make it so valuable that they can’t refuse.

Viral marketing is more a phenomenon than a planned event. That doesn’t mean you can’t plan your marketing efforts. You should plan every piece of content you write. But you can’t predict how people respond. Sometimes, things go viral you never would have expected. That’s a good thing.

Everyone is guest blogging, but are they doing it right? You know the benefits. Getting your name out there, authorship, authority, reputation, etc. But what about link building?

Guest blogging for links is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you can get some good links if you have articles on influential websites with authority. However, get too many of those from the same domains and the benefits are diminishing as you build more links. Many guest bloggers, have traded one bad link building strategy for another.

Think about it. If you were penalized by Google Panda or Google Penguin for excessive link building, or building low quality links from low quality websites, then why does it matter if you’ve got your name on those articles? They’re still bad links.

What you really want to do is spread those links around. Do some guest blogging on as many websites as you can. Diversify. That’s the name of the game.

Link building isn’t dead. Neither is guest blogging. But there are good and bad ways to go about each.

In today’s online marketing environment, you’ve got to make sure you don’t do too much of a good thing. Or do a good thing badly. It’s as important as doing a bad thing altogether.

According to Constant Contact, LinkedIn is getting more graphic. This is a good deal for LinkedIn users, and if you’ve stayed away from LinkedIn because it was boring and didn’t seem to offer the same bells and whistles that other social media sites were offering, now you can jump on the LinkedIn bandwagon.

What makes this exciting is you’ll be able to upload videos, images, photos, and other graphics to each section of your LinkedIn profile. That will make your profile a graphic depiction of your resume and life right off the bat.

Savvy Internet marketing experts know that visuals keep people returning to your website and are more likely to convert once they are there. It’s been that way for years. So this new development at LinkedIn plays right into the knowledge and information that professional online marketers have been operating on for a decade, at least.

LinkedIn has been used primarily as an online resume service. Now, your resume just got a lot more graphic. But I also think the added visuals will turn LinkedIn into more than just a place to post your resume.

What do you think? Is this good for LinkedIn? Is it good for LinkedIn users?

As more people flock to Twitter for following their favorite celebrities and other people of interest, the social media site is becoming saturated with tweets, retweets, and hashtags. How can a serious-minded business person stay ahead of the curve and have a meaningful experience on Twitter? One way is to create Twitter lists.

A Twitter list is simply a list of other Twitter users who fit a particular mold. You can use these lists to create a specific-niche group of people to follow.

For instance, if you are interested in sculptors, you can create a list of your favorite working sculptors. Let’s say you have 15 sculptors worldwide that you would include as your favorite living sculptors. Create a list. This list makes it easier for you to follow those sculptors as you keep them grouped in that list.

The Twitter list also tells other Twitter users who you think are the important people in that niche. This is important for reputation purposes. If others agree with your recommendations, they are more likely to follow you.

Another benefit to lists is it puts you one step closer to those individuals. When you put someone on a list, you are one step away from them. You actually have a relationship, of sorts.

Twitter lists keep Twitter interesting. They also boost your reputation and draw you closer to the type of people you want to follow, and who you want to follow you.

The Facebook era of Tweetdeck is over. Actually, the third-party app era of Tweetdeck is over. No more Facebook integration and no more Android or iPhone apps, and no more Tweetdeck AIR.

The bright news is that Tweetdeck is working on an app for Chrome, which should include notifications.

What’s this mean for social media marketers who rely on Tweetdeck for posting?

First, it means that you’ll have to find another way to make your posts to Facebook. That’s bad news. If you are currently using Tweetdeck on your iPhone or an Android device, or still using Tweetdeck AIR, then you’ll have to migrate your usage to the web-based version of the product. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If the Chrome app happens, then Chrome users will have an advantage.

Tweetdeck does offer a reason for their discontinuance of their smartphone apps:

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a steady trend towards people using TweetDeck on their computers and Twitter on their mobile devices. This trend coincides with an increased investment in Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android –– adding photo filters and other editing capabilities, revamping user profiles and enhancing search. That said, we know this applies to most of our users –– not all of them.

Tweetdeck has spent the better part of the last year enhancing its web-based platform. The fact that they are still hiring developers means that we’ll see more improvements to that platform in the coming months. I’m excited to see what they come up with.