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An interesting study that pits tablets against smartphones concludes that tablets are being consumed more for books and reference material as well as travel and local-related content than smartphones. Smartphones rule everything else.

I find this to be quite interesting. Books and reference I understand. But local and travel? Tablets, not smartphones?

The study counts click-throughs from mobile ads. Interestingly, smartphones and tablets run neck and neck with smartphones having a slight lead in the music and entertainment category. I’m guessing, like Cynthia Boris, that tablets dominate video and smartphones capture most of the music downloads.

The one category I’d like to see split in two is the travel and local category. Is it possible that travelers search for information on their tablets BEFORE they leave for their destinations while smartphone users are more likely to search for local information on their smartphones? That’s just a hypothesis, but unless there is a study specific to that questions we can’t know.

What we can know is that smartphones show marketing potential for a lot of categories, including productivity apps, games, shopping, news, weather, and dating.

I don’t know what you’ll do with this information, but I’d suggest studying your smartphone and tablet markets to see if you can ascertain any nuances of usage among your audience. If so, then adjust your mobile marketing appropriately. That includes mobile advertising, social media, and mobile search.

Content marketing is the new SEO. It’s always been the essence of SEO, but in the last couple of years more and more search marketers are referring to themselves as content marketers rather than search engine optimizers. There is nothing wrong with that.

But if you want your content marketing strategy to stand out, then you can’t be reactive. You’ve got to be proactive. So here are three tips to help you develop a more proactive content marketing strategy.

  1. Be More Semantic – You almost have to. Google is now only rarely providing keyword data in its analytics. Most of what you’ll read is “Keyword Not Provided.” Your best clues for what keywords and phrases people found your site by are your entry pages and the search ranking for the keyword they did use. That means you have to do a lot of guess work. At some point, you have to trust your gut. If you understand how people search for information, then you’ll better understand how to present information in the search engines. That requires a semantic approach.
  2. Build a content calendar – Since you’re being more semantic, plan further out. Use a content calendar to plan your posts ahead of time and write the best posts you can.
  3. Do more research – To write the best posts possible, you need to really understand your subject matter. It isn’t enough to know what people are searching for and how. You also have to know how to deliver that information so that they can find it. That requires research.

Your content marketing strategy deserves a more proactive approach, so give it what it wants.

Google is getting more sophisticated in the way that they allow webmasters to track and measure website traffic. The new analytics is referred to as Universal Analytics.

Universal Analytics is centered around four specific and key areas of measurement:

  • Organic search traffic – Universal Analytics allows you to designate which search engines are more significant to your measurement goals. You can remove search engines from your list and prioritize those that are on your list.
  • Session and campaign timeout – The default is 30 minutes for sessions and 6 months for campaigns, but Universal Analytics allows you to change those parameters based on your cookies and website policies.
  • Referral exclusions – Referral traffic is an important metric for any website. By being allowed to exclude certain referral sources you can get a truer picture of your session timeout data. Learn more about how this works here.
  • Search term exclusions – You can exclude search terms that people use to find your website and when you do Universal Analytics will count that traffic as Direct Traffic.

Universal Analytics gives you more control over how you measure traffic information related to your website, but it also means spending more time playing with the controls that measure these statistics.

If you need help figuring out Universal Analytics, talk to a search engine marketing specialist about how to incorporate it into your business.

One of Google’s latest technology advances and one that is picking up momentum is Google Glass. An interview at Search Engine Journal shows webmasters how to optimize for Google Glass. Is it time for that yet?

First, let’s talk about what Google Glass does.

  • You can snap photographs without your hands.
  • Take videos or moving pictures
  • Share what you see in real time
  • Get directions from your location to another point
  • Send messages
  • Conduct Google searches
  • Translate your voice into other languages
  • And more

All of this from a set of weird looking glasses you place on your head.

It’s all pretty cool, actually. But should website owners optimize their websites for Google Glass? What would that mean, exactly?

I think the biggest potential for Google Glass for search lies in the Local department. If you want to travel from one location to another, then local search is essential. Otherwise, organic search is largely a matter of general information. Not that that wouldn’t be useful.

Google Glass is still within its first year. One Google Glass user gives it a net thumbs up, but that’s one user.

It’s unclear just how useful Google Glass will be for most users in three to five years from now. Will it have a run of market success or market failure? Until the public decides either way, there’s no sense in webmasters thinking about optimizing for a product that may or may not be around in five years. Google has a bad habit of rolling out products that don’t last.

Don’t get me wrong. Google Glass is cool. I can see it interacting with web pages in some very cool and powerful ways. But changing your website to facilitate new gadgets cost money and time. You should weigh that investment against potential gains before you get too excited.

You’re better off investing in optimization for mobile phones and tablets at this point.

Professional affiliate marketers know all the best ways to find products that they love and are sellable, but what if your primary business is to provide your own products and services and you want to enhance what you have to offer your audience with complimentary affiliate products? Sugarrae has some good ideas on finding affiliate products at her blog.

I like her approach a lot. But I have to say that you want to be careful if marketing affiliate products is not your first line of business. You don’t want to market competing products.

For instance, let’s say you are in the gardening niche and you’ve developed a new gardening tool. If you want to sell more of that gardening tool, you probably don’t want to start selling a similar tool that does the same thing, especially if that competing tool is already a top performer in that niche.

It’s not that you don’t find value in the product. It’s a fine product and you’d use it yourself – if you hadn’t developed your own tool. The issue is, you want to sell more of your tool. You’ll do that if you don’t offer competing products.

What you want to do instead is find complementary products to sell that will enhance the use of your tool. If you’ve got a new spade design and it will go well with a certain hoe that is already on the market, then you can sell the hoe that complements your spade. Think “complementary” when it comes to affiliate products, not competing. Otherwise, you could sell yourself short.

According to a new study, social media campaigns are achieving higher reach numbers than ad exchanges, networks, and other online marketing channels. But this study could be misleading. Reach doesn’t equate to conversions.

Online marketers have to answer this question: If you reach more users or potential users than you did before and achieve the same number of conversions, are you better off?

What if your conversions go down with a higher reach, what then?

The thing you have to remember about reach is, it doesn’t necessarily translate into revenue. However, you may still get a little branding benefit out of it. That is a benefit, assuming that the folks you reach are targeted consumers. If they are people interested in your type of product or service and are in the market for it, then reaching them can be a benefit if they don’t buy from you today.

I’m not knocking reach, but it’s one metric. It’s not THE metric. Any marketing that doesn’t lead, directly or indirectly, to higher revenues should be scrutinized more heavily.

That said, Facebook and other social networks seem to be growing in effectiveness as more people flock to those networks to hang out with their friends. But does that mean you should be marketing to your audience on their Facebook walls? That’s another question.

Everywhere I look now there is an article going up on some SEO website, in an e-mail newsletter, or one of the dozen or so Internet marketing news websites I read each day about how you get can back in Google’s good graces following the fallout from all those bad links you built. My only question is this, why did you even start building those links in the first place?

For at least ten years, Google’s song and dance has been “focus on content quality and usability.” You ignored that advice and went with your SEO agency’s advice instead. That advice amounted to

  • Paid links
  • Reciprocal links
  • Link wheels
  • Article directories
  • Link spam tactics

All the ways Google said not to do it, you did it anyway. Now you’re trying to figure out what happened.

In some cases, SEOs and online marketers thought they were following search engine guidelines. By the letter, they were. By the spirit, they weren’t even close. And now the owners of those websites are trying to figure out how to kill all their dead links and get back on top of the search engine listings.

Here’s a reality check: Even if you got rid of all of your bad links, there’s a good chance that you wouldn’t rise high enough in the search engines to recapture your old ranking. Sorry, but Google’s smarter than that. The latest algorithmic overhaul – Hummingbird, it’s called – is designed to give whole new ranking factors a greater prominence in the final results.

Instead of trying to game the system, why don’t you just focus on quality content instead?

Search Engine Journal comments on a video by Matt Cutts wherein he recommends three things specifically about metatag descriptions:

  • Write unique metatag descriptions for “pages that really matter”
  • Let Google auto-generate metatag descriptions for other pages
  • Absolutely DO NOT allow duplicate metatag descriptions for any of the pages on your website

This advice coincides perfectly with our own experience. We prefer metatag descriptions for most pages, but there are definitely times when you should let Google generate metatag descriptions.

For instance, when you have several web pages that are close to the same but not quite – an example would be an online dictionary of niche terms organized by alphabet where each letter of the alphabet has a separate page – then you might not want to write a metatag description. The last thing you want is 26 metatag descriptions that read something like

Glossary of terms for _____________, letter A.

where the only difference is the actual letter. In this case, you’d essentially have 26 duplicate metatag descriptions with one small variation. Even if you rewrite this description, there are only so many ways to say the same thing. Your best bet is to let Google generate the search snippet based on the user’s query.

When it comes to long web pages with a lot of information on them, especially web pages where you might have several subheadings, you want to write your own metatag description.

Still, even if you write your own metatag description, there is a good chance that Google will replace it with a search snippet customized to a searcher’s query. There’s nothing wrong with that so don’t be alarmed if you see it. But if you are targeting your long-copy web page toward one or two keywords or phrases, then you can write a metatag description that targets those words or phrases. That can benefit you.

Pinterest is one of the fastest growing, and now most popular, social media sites online. Have you looked to see if your competition is using it? If not, you should.

Nevermind using Pinterest for your own marketing. You can do that and, chances are, you’ve already considered it if not already doing it. But an even more powerful opportunity awaits you in spying on your competition. See what each of your competitors are up to by spying on their pinboards.

Hat tip to SteamFeed for this tip:

  • Start by signing up for Pinterest and filling out your profile. If you want, do it under an alias. This is a good strategy if you plan to use Pinterest to spy on your competition and nothing else, but it really isn’t necessary since all of your pinboards are secret. No one knows what your boards are called or what pins you keep in each board.
  • Set up a separate board for each of the competitors you want to follow. Your competitors will know when you follow them, so if you don’t want them to know you are following them, then an alias works great.
  • Keep up with your competition by noting each of their moves, news announcements, new product launches, etc. As an alternative to the last point, set up a separate board for each type of event you want to track (company news, promotions, new products, etc.) and track each of your competitors in those event boards.

How you set your Pinterest espionage account is up to you and your unique needs and depends on how many competitors you want to follow. Any way you look at it, Pinterest is a great opportunity for spying on your competition.

Here’s an idea. If you want a new way to appear in the search results without having to build a website, tweak your website with a few additional pages, and/or bombarding your friends with social media messages, try writing and publishing a book. The long, drawn out legal battle between Google Books and The Authors Guild over whether or not it constitutes copyright infringement for Google Books to scan pages of published works has resulted in a big win for Google.

This is actually good for searchers and authors alike. Consider this scenario.

You write a book about the mating habits of warthogs. A searcher interested in the topic of warthog sexual behavior conducts a Google search and one of the results is a passage from the Foreword of your book. That Foreword actually entices the searcher to head to the library and check your book out. After thoroughly reading the book and returning it, they decide it would make a great Christmas gift for Uncle Bob.

Congratulations! You just picked up two new readers of your book, and it was all because you found a new way to be included in search results.

Authors should consider this a good thing. Google has been saying all along that the practice of scanning pages from books acts as a digital card catalog. They’re not scanning entire books, just a few passages, a few pages. A judge considered it fair use. I think we can expect The Authors Guild to appeal, but will they win?

If you’ve always wanted to own a premium domain name, now may be your big opportunity. Yahoo! announced on its Tumblr blog that it is auctioning more 100 domain names. But if you go to the Sedo page for the Yahoo! account, there are actually more than 500 domain names on the list. Some of them look pretty good.

The reserve price for these domain names range from $100 to $1.5 million. Some of the auctions have been identified as Top Domain Listings. These include:

  • av.com
  • webserver.com
  • westerns.com
  • transmissions.com
  • sled.com
  • sandwich.com
  • blogsport.com
  • crackers.com
  • truestory.com
  • airtrafficcontrol.com
  • raging.com
  • jockeys.com
  • religious.net
  • irecruiter.com
  • vivas.com
  • finalcountdown.com
  • fonzo.com
  • laun.com
  • webcal.com
  • cyberjokes.com

The auctions are scheduled to begin today at 12:00 noon EST. That’s in just a few minutes, in case you’re wondering.

I never knew Yahoo! was in the domain name speculation business, but I guess it’s not surprising when you consider they’ve been around for a long time. They no doubt saw the potential in some of these domain names way back when. The big questions is this: Why are they getting rid of them?

Is Yahoo! just dumping domain names they have no need for or did they not figure out a good business plan for them? Or maybe they just bought them to sell them off for a profit later, and now is “later.”

If you’re in the market for a premium domain name and you’re sure you’ve got a good business idea to use it for, then now is your chance to enter into an auction. You could walk away with a million dollar winner. When you do, look us up. You’ll need a good search engine marketing firm.

The Local Search Ranking Factors survey has been around for a few years, but it bears to take another look. The latest results are posted at Moz and it’s interesting to see what the top 5 ranking factors are.

  1. Proper category associations – Google doesn’t really want to play with you if you don’t categorize your business correctly. From a user perspective, who wants to find your dentist’s office under the “restaurants” category?
  2. Physical address – This is extremely important. If someone searches for auto mechanics in Chicago and you are an auto mechanic located outside the city limits, there’s a good bet you won’t show up in the search results. Like it or not, that’s how local search is played. By the same token, if you are in another city limit, then Chicago businesses won’t be listed when a searcher is looking there either.
  3. Structured citations – I consider this very important. It’s also easy to get it wrong. Structured citations is any mention of your business on other websites. You can’t control how bloggers mention you, but you can control your business directory listings. Note that consistency is more important than quality and quality is more important than quantity.
  4. Link from Google+ or Google Place page – I highly recommend a Google+ page for a local business. Make sure you link to a website with your correct physical address. I think this factor has the potential to become more important in the future.
  5. Domain authority – Take a look at your website. How does it stack up against similar sites in your area? This is not an objective standard, necessarily, but it is a worthwhile standard. You can learn more about domain authority and how to influence your website’s authority from this Moz article.

It would be worth your time to study the top 20 local search ranking factors.

Local search is important for a number of reasons, especially if you are a local business serving a distinct geographic area.

I still run into people trying to do SEO likes it’s 2005. Bill Slawski has an excellent post at SEO By The Sea regarding a Google patent that may help the search engine identify link spam.

There are several aspects of this blog post that we could discuss. I’d like to focus on one point: Anchor text spam.

Here’s what Bill says about it.

Anchor Text Spamming – This involves acquiring links from a large number of pages linking to a particular page using the same anchor text, to get that page to rank highly for that text in search results.

I can think of two instances where this could be a problem for regular people trying to increase their search engine rankings and using outdated strategies that could get them into trouble. One is bloggers who use their blog to build internal links using the same anchor text phrases over and over and associating those phrases with a particular web page on their website. The other instance is guest blogging.

If you do a lot of guest blogging and you have a single bio that you use for every guest blog post, then you should pay attention this. It’s possible that your bio could be considered anchor text spam if you use the same anchor text phrase to link to your website every time.

I’m not saying you should stop guest blogging. I am saying you might consider varying your anchor text in your bio.

This isn’t to say that Google is definitely flagging your blog posts as anchor text spam, but if you keep doing the same thing and you aren’t getting results, then maybe you should try something different.

If you haven’t figured out that site speed is important, then you should consider why Google might introduce the Page Speed Suggestions Report inside Google Analytics.

This is a report that truly looks helpful.

When you’re inside your Google Analytics account, click on the Content – Site Speed section. Next, click on PageSpeed Suggestions. You’ll get a Page Speed Insights page, which should help you see how you can improve the necessary pages on your website.

Your Page Speed score will be a number between 0 and 100. The closer to 100 you get on that score, the better your page speed for the tested page. It’s important that you understand, however, that the tool doesn’t measure page speed. It measures the extent to which you can improve the speed of the page. A lower score means you can improve it a lot.

By analyzing the speed of your web pages, you can determine if you have too many graphics on a page, too much script, or a lot of videos. Too many ads, for instance, can result in a slower page speed.

As the Internet gets faster and faster, page speed will likely be a bigger issue for websites. That illustrates the importance of updating your web pages from time to time to take advantage of the latest web design practices. You should test all the pages on your website periodically to see how they rate on page speed.

Bill Slawski has an excellent post this morning on Hummingbird and Authorship. What it boils down to is short text, or social messages.

If you’re one of those people who has developed a habit of sharing links on social media but not including any context for those links by adding helpful commentary so your fans and followers can understand the importance of the link, then you probably aren’t doing yourself any favors. You should start adding more to your social messages.

I’m not saying you should write a book. Twitter only gives you 140 characters, but those 140 characters are very important.

In a word, they add context to your links. But that’s true of your messages on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ too. What you say about the links you post can determine an awful lot about what you think of that link. In the case of Google+, it could also determine your authority on the topics you post about. Google knows what those topics are based on your social messages – or short text.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you post a link to a how-to on changing the oil in a Mercedes. If you are a Mercedes auto mechanic, then that’s a link that is right in line with your expertise. But how will Google know that if all you post is a link. One paragraph of text explaining that the article is a must-read for anyone who owns a Mercedes helps Google associated the keyword “Mercedes” with your name and reputation. Do that enough times and Google will learn to associate your name with “Mercedes” all the time.

One post here and there isn’t much, but long term, a habit of turning your links into short commentary will give you a boost in authority.

Google’s Hummingbird update has turned the SEO world upside down. Everywhere you turn now, it seems you can find an article or blog post explaining how webmasters should optimize their websites for the new search engine. The talking point is that Hummingbird isn’t just an algorithm update. It’s a complete change in how Google ranks web pages.

Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t.

Regardless of what you believe about Hummingbird, there is one thing that is absolutely true. It has changed the way we do SEO going forward. And because of that, it’s time to evaluate your website to see if it stacks up against the new search engine ranking system.

Your first step should be to look at your content. Is it written well? Does it target a specific target? If not, then you need to fix that first and foremost.

Next, take a look at your link portfolio. If you have any questionable links, then you need to disavow them. It’s better to mess up and disavow a few good links than it is not to evaluate your link portfolio at all and be penalized for have a few bad links. You don’t want to be hit like the content farms were under Penguin.

Thirdly, review your technical SEO. There are some very specific things you should look at. Search Engine Journal has the list.

Finally, take a look at your social media strategy? Do you have one? Is it a good one? If not, then you seriously need to think about starting a social media strategy that helps you promote your brand.

SEO post-Hummingbird isn’t a far cry different than it used to be – if you’ve always tried to follow the search engine guidelines – but it is different.

When it comes to paid advertising, most people know about Google AdWords, but that’s not your only option. In most cases, Google AdWords is the most expensive option and therefore maybe not your most cost efficient option. Here are several options you can choose from when it comes to pay per click advertising.

  • Bing Ads – Bing Ads is the Microsoft equivalent to Google AdWords. The advantage is you have less competition because most advertisers are using Google AdWords. The downside is you won’t reach the same size market. Bing’s search engine is quite a bit smaller than Google’s. Still, it’s a viable option.
  • Facebook Advertising – Facebook has its own advertising model. Ever see those ads on the right side of your wall? You can target your ads demograpically, which is something you can’t do with Google AdWords. The downside is, the keyword targeting isn’t as impressive as with Google.
  • Promoted Tweets – Twitter has something called Promoted Tweets. You pay to have a tweet appear in the Twitter stream of people who fit your target profile.
  • LinkedIn Advertising – The B2B network LinkedIn also have an advertising model. If you are a business-to-business business, then LinkedIn could be a good alternative to Google AdWords.

If you’re ready to expand your PPC advertising strategy, start with these good Google AdWords alternatives.

The last thing in the world any business owner wants to do is respond to negative mentions. It can be especially tedious if you have a really bad negative report that climbs the search rankings and overtakes your own search engine results.

The first thing you should NOT do is panic. Keep in mind that many content pieces rise high in the search engines within the first few hours of publication then fall again. Give the negative content up to three hours to settle before getting too wrapped up about the negative reports. If the content is still ranked higher than you after six hours, then it’s time to respond.

DO NOT respond directly on the page where your negative report appears. That almost always signals to the search engines that the piece is valuable and offers legitimacy for that page to stay high in the search rankings.

Instead, undergo a positive publicity campaign.

If possible, publish two or three press releases. Make them about different newsworthy items. If you can’t do that, then write three separate press releases on the same newsworthy item, and be sure the content in each press release is very unique. Publish them at three separate press release distribution websites, and be sure to send them to relevant news media personnel by e-mail as well.

Write a blog post and send a couple of guest blogging queries out as well. And share as much as you can through social media. The goal is to combat the high search rankings of negative content with promotion of positive content.

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. And be sure to target the exact keywords that your negative content is ranking for. Be diligent in publishing new, fresh, and original content targeting the proper keywords. It may take a few days to push the negative content down. If you see minimal results, keep going.

The worst thing you can do is react to the negative mentions by retaliating. If you do that, you could have a worse reputation management problem.

A few years ago there was a trend to classify all search engine optimizers into three categories. They were either white hat, black hat, or grey hat. These distinctions, borrowed from old spaghetti westerns, are readily recognized as the good guy, the bad guy, and the guy in the middle, respectively.

Today, there is less of a tendency to discuss SEOs in these terms, primarily because SEO has become “content marketing.” I don’t care what you call it, it’s still SEO.

More or less, you can still classify SEOs into three distinct classes, but let’s dispense with the references to hats. We’ll call them withers, forers, and againsters. Again, terminology isn’t the issue. Call them what you want. The idea is that there are SEOs who work with the search engines, those who appear to be search engine cheerleaders, and then those who seem to actively work against the search engines – just doing what they want.

That last category is a little bit difficult to define because if you get the wrong idea, you might think they are the same as the black hat SEOs of five years ago. Not necessarily.

The “working against” category could include contrarians and SEOs who just do their own thing. They aren’t really concerned with best practices or following the latest trends. That’s not to say they don’t employ SEO techniques. They are more apt to write in a natural language style or use plain English rather than stuff your content full of keywords.

What’s the takeaway?

When you hire an SEO team to write your content for you or to plan your content marketing strategy, ask them what their search engine philosophy is. Do they work with the search engines or do they sound like cheerleaders? Or, maybe, just maybe, they are those maverick types who do it their way, right or wrong. You deserve to know.

Do you know which demographic spends more time on social networks? If you guessed moms with young children, then you’d be right.

It isn’t hard to figure out why young moms spend more time online than anyone else. Their children aren’t old enough yet to demand running around here and yon. Older kids have extra-curricular activities. Younger kids have diapers.

Young moms can put the youngster to bed for a nap and sneak away to Facebook.

But they’re not just talking to their friends either. They’re actually engaging with brands.

These moms also engage with more brands online and they say advertising helps them choose the right products for their children.

In addition to using social media to find products for their young children, moms also are active on mobile devices. In fact, they’re twice as likely to use their mobile phones to access the Web than the rest of the population. They’re also heavy users of their tablets for Web surfing.

All of that spells one thing: If your target market is young moms and you sell online, then you can have a heyday. Take to social media and look for those moms who are searching for products for their young children. It’s a great demographic to market to anyway, but it’s even better now that you know they spend more time online than their neighbors.