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SEO is always going to be an area that changes, and there will always be something to learn as a result of the fluidity. Moz recently came up with a fun way to see what you know (and what you don’t know) about search engine optimization in their New SEO Expert Quiz.

The quiz is randomized so nobody gets the same questions in the same order, and Moz claims it is “astronaut training hard,” but the fifty questions only take about fifteen minutes to answer. The benefit of taking the time to do the quiz is in the results: you are shown the questions with your answer, the correct answer, and a link to learn more about the subject.

This is like a custom lesson in SEO stuff that targets your weak spots. 

Even if you delegate your search engine optimization to someone else, it’s a good idea to keep learning about how it works overall so that you know what you are delegating. Their job may be to handle the details but you should know enough to appreciate what they do for you.

Understanding SEO basics prepares you for using the Internet with confidence, because the codes are no longer gobbledygook to your eyes. This quiz is a fun, nonthreatening way to gauge your SEO expertise and see where you fall in the learning spectrum. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that you know more than you realized and that your guesses in the quiz were intelligent deductions.

If you would like to learn more about SEO visit reciprocalconsulting.com/search-engine-optimization.php.

The word “audit” can bring up some bad memories, but it really is an important process when it comes to keeping your website functioning the way you want it to. This is because it’s like a content tuneup for your site.

Search Engine Journal has a step-by-step explanation of How To Conduct A Content Audit On Your Site that is extremely helpful. It’s a very easy guide worth bookmarking, because content audits should be part of your regular site maintenance just as tuneups are needed to keep a car running smoothly.

If you are not consistently fixing the small problems and replacing outdated items on your site, then it gradually bogs down under an accumulation of minor issues that become overwhelming. This accumulation of minor issues might not seem like much, but getting rid of them usually results in a boost in traffic and rankings.

What might need a tuneup on your site?

  • page title and url
  • description
  • content
  • keywords
  • alt tags
  • last updated
  • internal links

An audit is simply taking a closer look at the individual components of something. In this case, that closer look is with the ability to do something about what you find. Many times a site will have content or links that were good when it was first put up but has expired or needs to be redone. Once a regular content audit routine has been established, it isn’t difficult to keep up because you are only having to fix what has developed since the last time.

No matter how well a website has been designed, it is going to need regular maintenance to stay effective. Content audits are like tuneups for your site to keep it running smoothly. For more information on web design, visit http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/web-design.php

Recently, Search Engine Journal (SEJ) went through their site and found 9 Noteworthy Social Media Facts in the articles they’ve published and provided links to each one. These facts are noteworthy because they show how social media is becoming one of the most important places to have a presence if you are a business.

  1. in the last six months there’s been an 80% increase in using mobile devices to read email
  2. LinkedIn has 77% of all job postings on its site
  3. one email address can have many Twitter accounts
  4. there was an 800% increase in infographic search volume from 2010 to 2012
  5. the top 24 most-engaged brands on Twitter have more than a million followers
  6. 60 of the top 100 brands on LinkedIn post videos linked to their YouTube channel
  7. 50% of online customers expect customer service on a brand’s Facebook page, but only 23% of brands on Facebook do it
  8. in 3 years, Instagram got 150 million users and grew by 23% in 2013
  9. in 2013 the digital video advertising industry brought in almost $5.8 billion, up 40% from 2012

How do these compare with what your actual online marketing strategies are? You may choose to ignore Instagram, for instance, without any problems, but if your business is on Facebook, you should make sure it is responsive to the “friends” who engage you there.

It’s a good idea to pay attention to social media. Take a quick look at this list and use it as a launching pad to evaluate and renovate your social media marketing campaigns.

When you think about it, social media is just an extension of your customer circle and it makes sense to optimize it. For more information on social media marketing, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php

People today are bombarded with far more information than they can handle. Any message that catches their attention has to engage them long enough to get a message across, and for many folks, that means a video.

Video combines many levels of communication into one quick presentation. Eyes, ears, and emotional response integrate to send a message to the brain in more than words. This doesn’t mean that video is better than words alone, but it does mean that a message targeting a visceral response might be best presented in video form, but the type of video matters.

For instance, written content scrolling across the screen may have movement and music, but most people are not going to be reading it unless they are already engaged. Who reads the credits at the end of the movie? The people who know somebody who worked on the movie and are looking for their friend’s name.

That same content presented as a short film clip telling a story or a friendly  speaker explaining a process is far more effective because it will connect on more levels. In addition, there’s more for SEO purposes. Rich snippets, video search engines, and link building all add to the increased conversions seen when a good video element is added to a page.

Perhaps the biggest reason videos maximize marketing is that they work the way most of the population operates. We see, we hear, we move in our real world– so we respond to content that is visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

There’s a lot more on video marketing at  http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/video-production.php

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is an investment of time and money, so you need to know as soon as possible if a particular campaign is successful or not. Search Engine Journal has been talking to different experts in their SEJ interview series and recently caught up with Ilya Lichtenstein from Mixrank to discuss how to run successful PPC campaigns. Here are the highlights from that conversation:

Over 80% of PPC campaigns fail, according to Ilya’s data. So you need to look at leading indicators when you first start a campaign and watch progress with a critical eye. You can usually tell in the beginning if it is going to be in that 80%.

Don’t waste your time tweaking a failing campaign to try and get it going. Good ones don’t start slow most of the time, and failing campaigns don’t resuscitate. You are better off killing the slow starters and investing in the ones that work from the start.

Figure out what makes your successful campaigns work and repeat it. Keep trying until you get some breakout successes and copy the things that work. It will take some time (remember that percentage of failures) but as you find your successful campaigns you will get better at your strategies.

One observation you could make on this advice is that you cannot be emotionally attached to your PPC campaigns. If you have a favorite that is just not taking off, the idea of pulling the plug is painful. But statistically, that failing campaign will not speed up despite anything you try.

According to this expert, you know very soon if your PPC campaigns are going to be successful. And that’s actually good, because you don’t have to waste any time moving on to the successful ones.

For more insights on PPC Management, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/pay-per-click.php

 

Copyblogger just posted an article by a behavioral investigator named Vanessa Van Edwards on nonverbal hacks that can capture attention and convert traffic on your site. It’s an interesting look at human nature and our automatic responses to visual triggers. The reason that nonverbal communication is so important in web design is because people don’t read what doesn’t catch their attention. So the greatest content in the world will go unread by most folks if they don’t notice it.

Research has shown it takes five tenths of a second to make a good first impression online. That means visual rather than verbal is the first thing to pay attention to as you decide how to set up your website. Here are the six wordless ways you can do it:

  1. Understand eye patterns, and set up your headings and buttons in the normal F-shaped way that readers tend to process information: upper left corner, across, down, across, down. This is how we read text in English. (Non-English readers may not automatically do this if their normal script is written right-to-left.)
  2. Photos and videos should show your hands and positive facial expressions. This generates trust without saying a word in any culture.
  3. Guide actions nonverbally with images showing hand gestures or eye directions (looking to the video or button you want them to click).
  4. Utilize the research that has identified where visitors focus: logo, main navigation menu, search box, social networking links, primary image at top of page, written content, website footer.
  5. Take advantage of all the studies on color and psychology and match the colors of your site & logo to the main idea of your brand.
  6. Simple beats over-cluttered every time. Every time.

For more on ways to improve your site’s web design, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/web-design.php

 

“When we think about the future of marketing it’s easy to slip into the trap of thinking purely about technological challenges. However, the truth is that marketing isn’t changing because of technology. Marketing is changing because consumers’ expectations are evolving.”

This quote by Hannah Smith is taken from her post on Moz titled, “Bacon, Burritos, and the Future of Marketing.” It’s an interesting stroll down memory lane if you have been in marketing for any length of time. She moves from keyword density and anchor texts through the various names Google dubbed its tweaks (Vince, Caffeine, Panda, Venice, Penguin, Hummingbird) and the goals of those tweaks. Then there are ads, always an interesting topic.

The predictions made at the end are insightful. It is safe to say we will see more devices being used, which will result in challenges as marketers try to create messages that work across all channels. Analysis becomes even more important since we need to know what is happening during a session and figure out what people are actually doing. This analysis will help with the flexibility that is key to staying strategic, instead of being locked in to one plan of action.

The “out there” prediction in the article, that only brands that stand for something will survive, is accompanied by several illustrations and a challenge: consumers are able to find information and discuss brands on a level that is unprecedented in human history. They are savvy enough to research the brands their friends suggest and expect a seamless experience when they look you up. They also expect a response when they speak and wield great influence on their friends.

What should brands do?

 

A brand must meet the customer’s expectations or they will go somewhere else. And what do customers expect of a brand? A consistent story, a mission and goal, that the brand “stands for something” worth joining. The challenge is that it’s so easy to have that “something” be tarnished as unfavorable information goes viral. With smartphones, friends can find all the dirt while they are in the restaurant talking about it.

This is why reputation management is more than an afterthought. Good online reputation management practice keeps your brand “standing for something” in the eyes of your customers through all marketing changes. 

For more information on online reputation management, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/online-reputation-management.php#2

 

Is your business coming up when someone searches for it? When it comes up, do your hours and location leap to the eye? Can someone see if you have the product they are seeking?

These questions are the ones to ask, according to the latest Google Think Insights Study. Marketing Pilgrim took a quick look at the highlights and here they are:

  • 4 out of 5 consumers use their smartphone (88%) or tablet/computer (84%) to do a local search
  • 50% of smartphone searchers visit the store within a day vs 34% of tablet/computer users
  • smartphone users look for business hours (54%), directions (53%), and address (50%)
  • tablet/computer searchers are interested in availability of product (45%), hours (42%), and address (38%)
  • 60 to 70% of consumers want to search by customizing for city or immediate surroundings

The full Google report on understanding consumer’s local search behavior is here. The takeaway for a business is in making sure that the information — ALL the information — that comes up when someone searches for anything related to their business is accurate, easy to find on the page with a small screen, and links to their home web page for further information like menus or products.

Many people are willing to come to a store to get what they want if it is nearby and they know it is available. This is the advantage local has over online sales, because there’s immediate gratification when you get what you want at the time of purchase instead of waiting for it to be shipped. Your site has to come up in a search, be updated, and easy to navigate or your visitors will go somewhere else.

For more insights on local search and SEO visit reciprocalconsulting.com/search-engine-optimization.php

Sometimes, with all the emphasis on various social media interactions, that old email idea seems somewhat stale. But there is a lot to be said for strategic email marketing:

  • it’s targeted to the people who ask to be on your list
  • it’s private so they are not afraid to respond to your surveys
  • it’s easier to customize so the relationship is cultivated
  • it’s measurable because they can unsubscribe

An email marketing service provider or autoresponder can be a good tool for businesses looking to be efficient and effective with their email strategies. It’s important to think through what you want to accomplish and how your email campaigns fit in with the rest of your internet marketing plans.

When you use email wisely, there is a personalized aspect to your communication that can’t be replicated on any other media. Even tweets and chats lack the ability of an email to have targeted links or promotions, customized coupons, and the potential for content.

But unwise email marketing campaigns are why email has a bad name. Nobody wants bloated junk mail. People get mad when subject lines promise and don’t deliver. It irritates folks when all there is in the body is another version of your ad. If you aren’t going to be sending out email that is worth reading in your customer’s opinion, then you are probably better off not sending out email until you figure out how to do it right.

Email marketing is part of a complete internet marketing strategy. For more insight on how that all fits together, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/internet-marketing-services.php#6

The last time you tried to find something with a search engine, did you think, “which strategic keywords will likely be on the site I want?” or did you think “I want to fix my bicycle so I’ll type in ‘how to fix a bicycle'”?

As someone interested in SEO, you may have been thinking about strategic keywords. Would someone interested in bicycles be thinking about keywords?

Probably not. They’d be thinking about bicycles, and that would be their intent.

Moz just asked some similar questions in Laura Lippay’s article on content strategy, and there’s some great content there along with examples and an interesting string of comments at the end. In Lippay’s view, audience intent wins over keywords as a motivation for content.

For instance, a person interested in bicycles would probably be interested in a site that is a source of bicycle-related ideas, pertinent content, authoritative reference material and discussions as well as a few products and some great humorous memes to share. They come to the site because it has stuff they are interested in (how to fix a bicycle) and come back because it continues to interest them. These interested visitors are more apt to buy what the site sells because there is a history of visits and they trust the site. That’s a win.

To quote Laura Lippay, “It all goes hand-in-hand. When you create something that your audiences like, that they link to more, share more, and engage with more, it’s likely to affect search engine rankings and traffic, too.”

What do you think? Would you agree?

For more on SEO and content, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/search-engine-optimization.php

Twitter has just come out with a study  titled, “Discovering the Value of Earned Audiences — How Twitter Expressions Activate Consumers.” The purpose of the study was to figure out how mentioning a brand in a tweet changes the behavior of consumers, both online and offline.

The three key findings quoted from this study are:

  1. Brands are an integral part of regular conversation on Twitter.
  2. Consumers take action both online and offline after seeing brand mentions in tweets.
  3. The source of a tweet containing a brand mention affects consumer actions.

It’s an interesting study and has a key takeaway for brands: earned media needs to be complemented with both owned and paid messages, because this combination drives greater consumer action and maximizes your return for the efforts you invest in your Twitter strategies.

In plainer language, you need to mix your tweets up by having conversations with your followers as well as the linked posts to your blog and any ads. Which makes sense when you think about it because people might know facts about your brand, but they tend to trust your brand based on a perceived relationship with your customer base and your social media presence.

So tweeting effectively is a combination of using Twitter as it originally started, which is relationship-based, and using Twitter as it is becoming, which is link-based. The people follow the links they trust based on the relationship they have with the tweeter.

One way to do this is monitoring your Twitter account to respond quickly to questions or comments you get and see what develops.

For more information about using Twitter effectively, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php

Social Media Marketing (SMM) is a necessary tool in today’s world, but it will be a useless tool if your employees are not trained to handle social media correctly. Many reputation management challenges have been created by employees who posted foolish or detrimental things online, and it’s a lot easier to prevent problems than it is to try to repair damage.

Your employee represents your company.

Unless you are a self-employed superpower, you have employees. Most of the time, your customers are interacting with one of them instead of you. Without adequate training, you are hoping your employee makes the right guess about the way you want them to interact.

Many employees have no idea what your SMM plan is or how they are a part of it.

Unless you make sure employees know what is expected of them on social media, they may affect your brand from their own accounts, simply by naming you in an inappropriate post.

If employees handle your social media accounts, they need to have guidelines.

Unless you have clear policies on how quickly questions are answered, how to handle disgruntled complaints, and other online dilemmas; you are expecting that employee to read your mind.

Even if you are paying a professional team to manage your social media marketing, everybody who works for you should be properly trained on social media policies from the day they are hired. The goal of your marketing is bringing in more traffic, and your employees will be the ones handling that traffic. Social media training is an essential part of the process.

For more information on social media marketing, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php