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Search Engine Optimization has been around for quite some time; long enough to go through an evolutionary process that has changed the way internet marketing is done. The goal of being on the first page of the search engine remains the same, but the method has changed as search engines used new algorithms to determine how to prioritize findings. It’s a constantly changing puzzle that keeps professionals challenged.

Social Media Optimization is the new kid on the SEO block, promising great things and looking easier to deal with than the arcane formulas of traditional search engine optimization. But is it an either/or situation? Of course not. Neither one is a magic bullet that will maximize your marketing goals. Both SEO and SMO are tools that need to be used skillfully in order to work well, and they should both be in your marketing toolbox.

SEO will be used to bring your business up in the ranks of a search engine. Since search engine algorithms are trending toward using social media input, SMO starts getting important in search engine optimization. But while there’s an overlap, social media optimization has a completely organic side based on human nature. The way you optimize your social media is by engaging people in an ongoing relationship. A first-time customer might find you from an internet search or from a “share” from a friend on a social media site. That is the beginning of the acquaintance and it grows through interchanges that increase familiarity and connection.

Optimizing your business means you use the technology at your disposal to develop the relationships with your customers that result in a loyal base you can rely on for future transactions. If you only have been thinking of SEO, you need to add SMO to your toolbox so you have the advantages of using both. If you need help with your social media marketing tools, you’ll find it atĀ reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php.

 

In the middle of a great post at Moz on mobile-friendly websites, Bridget Randolph points out;

“We are increasingly living in a multiscreen, device-agnostic world.

And this means that “mobile” can’t just be an add-on anymore…Mobile is not a separate channel; it’s a technology. So although at this point there’s “no such thing as mobile” for the user, don’t be fooled: Making it easy for users is really hard. We can’t be lazy. What we need to be doing is asking the right questions.”

Her advice covers 4 phases of the customer journey: discover, explore, buy, and engage. Each category has a lot of good ideas to consider, case studies to look at, and it is set up in an easily read format that is classic technique portrayed. You could use it as a textbook example of how to explain a potentially complicated process.

Every time you add a channel to your enterprise, it is a good idea to do it in a way that works for the devices that will be used to access it. Mobile devices are different in experience than a laptop, for instance. So why would it be wise to take the laptop design to the mobile device without changing anything? Short answer: it isn’t.

So how does that look for web design? It looks like using dynamic serving, different HTML based on user agent while a single URL is used for simplicity. You want to be thinking about the consumer’s experience, and that means a smaller screen needs a different design in order to be effective.

  • How easy is it to find the “order” button from a phone?
  • How hard is it to navigate your site on a tablet?
  • Can the user go from one device to another in a seamlessly synced experience?

Testing all the devices your customers use, the way your customers use them, is a very good idea. We live in an increasingly multi-device, mobile-savvy culture and business has to keep up with it by designing your site appropriately for all the channels your customers will access. You can get help with your web design atĀ reciprocalconsulting.com/web-design.php.

Some business owners struggle with what images they should post on Pinterest, particularly if they don’t own an e-commerce business or don’t sell physical products. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what kind of business you have. You can still make use of Pinterest.

Here are 5 ways to make your Pinterest pinboards more interesting:

  1. Pin your instructional videos or images associated with your podcasts. You can always pin the pages where your videos are posted in YouTube.
  2. Take pictures of your customers and employees interacting and upload those to Pinterest. Alternatively, take pictures of your employees behind the scenes (at office parties, industry events, etc.) and upload those to Pinterest.
  3. If you own a brick-and-mortar store, upload pictures of new products in your inventory when they come in. A great way to do this is to take pictures of your employees putting them on the shelves.
  4. For service businesses, you can pin images from around the Web that showcase problems that your staff can fix. For instance, an auto mechanic might pin an image of an overheating radiator. Be sure that you pin images on websites that have a Pin button so that you don’t run into potential copyright issues.
  5. Pin work you do for clients or supporting documents around the Web that back up claims you make on your blog. Infographics are very pinnable.

Need help with your Pinterest account or another social media account? Get Pinterest help at reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php

Some of the most important metrics for pay-per-click advertisers are ad positioning metrics. These can include but are not limited to:

  • Click-through rates
  • Visitors
  • Pages per visit
  • Average duration on site
  • Conversion rates

Each of these PPC metrics weighed against your ad position can help you save money on your advertising budget. One important way this happens is by gauging your metrics for each ad position relative to other ad positions.

For instance, if you discover that your CTR for position three is higher than your CTR for position one or two, then that’s a huge benefit. But what if your conversion rate is higher for position two?

You have to determine what metric is more important for you in reaching your goals.

If you are not concerned with conversion rate but are concerned with a higher engagement with your visitors, then you might look at your pages per visit and average duration metrics. Adjust your budget to target your ad to the optimal position so that you can reach the highest engagement possible for your ads.

This is no easy task. It does require keeping an eye on your ads and performing some tests to determine the best position for the goals you want to reach.

You can get started with ad position adjustment by consulting with Reciprocal Consulting at www.reciprocalconsulting.com/pay-per-click.php

Blogs have been around for a long time and it’s amazing that there are still a lot of people who don’t know how to comment on them. You’ll see comments like “Nice post. I learned a lot,” or “Thanks! Great post.”

Okay. Why bother?

If you want to get someone’s attention, write a comment they’ll remember. Take issue with what they’ve said. Disagree. Not in a combative way, but don’t be afraid to state your own opinion and back it up with a fact or two.

You can even create a great comment by agreeing with the author. Instead of saying “Nice post,” how about saying something like, “I agree with that. In fact, I read another post on the same subject the other day at Such-and-Such blog where the author went into detail about statistics and included a couple of infographics. The interesting thing was …” and give a couple of sentences on why you thought the post was interesting.

Those kinds of comments have value. They are more likely to get someone’s attention and keep the conversation flowing.

Many people are still treating blog commenting as a spam pool. Quit trying to get links from other people’s blog posts with crappy, spammy blogs. Join the conversation and add some value. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your own time.

Learn more about online marketing at http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/.

Last week, a popular guest blogging network got stung hard when Google slapped them with a penalty. And now, guest bloggers are running for cover. But should they be worried?

We’re big fans of link building around here, and guest blogging isn’t a bad deal either. But if your purpose for guest blogging is to build hundreds of links back to your website, then you’re doing it wrong.

Guest blogging isn’t about the links. It’s about your brand. It’s about putting your brand in front of a potential audience and attracting that audience to your website so that you can build a relationship with them. What matters is how you do that.

So how should you go about guest blogging?

Start with identifying blogs that attract the same type of reader you want to attract. You want a blog with a high percentage of crossover in terms of your audience. The audience for your target blog may be interested in the same types of products and services that you offer.

Read up on that target blog’s content guidelines. Do they accept guest posts? If so, how do they want to receive them?

Follow the guidelines for your target blog to a tee. Don’t concern yourself with anchor text links in your bio or relevant dofollow links. Write high quality content that is valuable to the target blog’s audience. Above all, add value to the site you are guest blogging for.

Instead of linking to your site using anchor text in your bio, link to your site using your brand name or using the URL.

Guest blogging is about adding value, not building links. If you do it well, you’ll get the recognition you deserve.

Webmaster Academy is a school run by Google designed to help new webmasters learn how to build an effective website and get it indexed in the world’s largest search engine. It’s a useful course, but I wouldn’t expect to learn everything there is to know about building a website if I were you.

The three newest modules in the academy are:

  • How to make a great site that is valuable to your audience
  • How Google sees your website
  • How to communicate with Google about your website

All of this is useful information to new webmasters, but there is more to building a website than making it look pretty and getting it indexed in the search engines (although, both of those are good places to start).

You also need to concern yourself with accuracy of content, navigational issues, whether or not your site is accessible to mobile phones, and the importance of keeping it updated. That’s just to name a few of the important details webmasters should concern themselves with on every new website.

It’s a lot harder to build an effective website than it used to be. There is a lot more to think about. I wouldn’t trust it to an amateur.

To learn more about how to build an effective website, visit http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/web-design.php.

There is a practice going around called Twitterjacking. It is essentially using other people’s tweets, hashtags, and other Twitter marketing strategies to draw attention to your business. It’s controversial, but it can also be powerful if you don’t overdo it or misuse it.

The first step is to find popular Twitter users and hashtags in your niche and follow them for a while. Get a feel for what they tweet about before you do anything.

If opportunities arise, interact with these power users. Ask them questions or respond to their tweets. Focus on building a relationship first. You can even retweet some of their most interesting or useful tweets.

After you’ve built a solid relationship, tag along on one of the popular hashtags that are gaining traction. Rising hashtags are great opportunities. Make sure your tweet is relevant to the hashtag and to your audience. If possible, mention the originator of the hashtag or the associated brand by @ sign and name.

This practice, if done well and unannoyingly, will usually net you a few extra followers every time you use it. Just don’t abuse it.

Retweets, hashtags, and even favorites are all subtle but powerful ways you can hijack Twitter to attract a little attention to your brand.

An infographic at Marketing Pilgrim illustrates five obvious trends in search engine optimization. One of those trends is that social signals are increasingly leading to higher search engine results for marketers who are active on the social networks.

These social signals include:

  • shares
  • likes
  • retweets
  • +1s
  • comments
  • followers and fans
  • and other social signals such as total reach and influence

What this means for search marketers is that you should spend a little bit of time each day on social media, sharing your content and interacting with your audience. This will likely become more and more important as the search engines place greater emphasis on these social signals.

In the old days, marketers built content and tried to get as many links as they could to that content with the right amount of anchor text and other link building signals. Today, it’s all about the social signals, and we’re talking about more than those that lead to links.

There are a handful of social media websites that are most important in helping marketers increase their social influence. These include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Instagram

While these are not the only sites worth mentioning, I’d say they are a bare minimum. You may not need to be on all of them, but you should establish a presence on most of them. And be active.

Social media marketing is as good as SEO. Learn more about social media optimization at reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php.

Internet marketers debate about some of the stickiest things. One of the big debates going around right now is whether you should write long, well-researched blog posts or shorter posts geared toward driving more traffic to your blog.

There are advantages to doing it both ways. One advantage to long, in-depth blog posts is that it gives you a chance to prove your authority.

An advantage to shorter posts is that you get more opportunities to rank well in the search engines and drive more traffic back to your blog through social media engagement. Both of these values are important. Our take is it never hurts to have more blog posts as long as you have a strategy. On the other hand, longer blog posts don’t hurt either. But you have to decide whether you want to spend your time writing your blog or servicing your customers.

When it comes to blog marketing, you have to do what is right for your business and your customers. What does your audience want?

Answer that million dollar question and it will tell you whether you should do a lot of research and write long blog posts or write short snippets. I’ve seen bloggers succeed with both strategies. You have to play to your audience.

At Moz, Cyrus Shepard shares 12 powerful ways to optimize for Google traffic without building links. It’s a great list, but I’d like to focus on just 5 of those optimization tactics and show you how you can put them to good use in simple ways.

  1. In-depth articles – You don’t have to be a news publisher to take advantage of this markup, but you should take a cue from popular news websites like Huffington Post and the New York Times. Use pagination, Google Authorship, canonicalization, and paywalls more effectively.
  2. Rich snippets - Google is adding more and more rich snippets all the time. You can use them for reviews, videos, events, books, articles, and much more. This is advanced SEO.
  3. Google Authorship – Google Authorship means having your photo appear in search results, which gives you a higher authority rating and potentially more click-throughs for your content.
  4. Local SEO – Cyrus Shepard mentions internationalized SEO, which is great, but what about local SEO? If you’re a local business, then you want to drill down.
  5. Social annotations – Simply sharing your content on Google+ is enough to increase your SEO potential. Your content will show up in more search results, even among people who are not in your network, but it will definitely appear at the top of the search results for people who are in your Google+ network.

Implementing these tactics won’t necessarily increase your search engine results or get you more traffic, but not implementing them will definitely hold you back.

Get more information on the best SEO tactics at http://reciprocalconsulting.com.

If you’ve been online for any length of time, then you’ve probably noticed that images are becoming more and more prevalent. In the early days of the Internet, images were used primarily as a way to capture attention. Once they did that, they were pretty useless. Even then, it was not uncommon to find pages and pages of content with no images at all. Today, it’s getting harder to find such anomalies.

Images are important, but they’re not just to capture attention any more. They often serve a broader purpose.

For instance, infographics are images that tell a story. You can actually build a web page with no textual content and say much more with the string of images as story. Your challenge then is to drive targeted traffic to that image.

Images serve another purpose, however. They not only enhance the content on your page, but they can actually enhance your search engine optimization.

There’s more to it than simply splashing an image on a page and adding an alt tag to describe what that image is for. The search engines are now associating images with the surrounding content. This sort of contextual analysis is going to get even better. Welcome to the semantic web.

Getty Images recently announced that you can embed images onto a web page. You can now have free images with credits and SEO value added to your content with a simple click. That’s not bad.

More than anything else, headlines determine whether or not readers will click through and read your content. This is true whether your content is a blog post, a static web page, a social media page, paid advertising, or something else. It doesn’t matter what format your content takes, the headline is one of the most important elements on the page.

A good headline does several things well.

  • For starters, it grabs readers’ attention. It’s got to be enticing enough to compete against other headlines, moving images, and shiny objects.
  • A good headline also promises a benefit. Tell your readers why they should click the link and read your content.
  • It contains an emotional trigger tied to the benefit. The best headlines make the reader click because they have a vested interest.
  • Another thing a headline should do is create an incentive to share. You want your reader to read your content, but you also want them to share it. Your headline will play an important part in that.
  • It should also be straightforward and honest. It should tell the reader precisely what your content is about without being misleading.

Hopefully, you see the importance of writing good headlines. If you don’t, you may not get many readers. It’s one of the most important elements on any web page.

One area of business marketing that is growing more popular, as well it should, is the use of case studies.

Case studies are powerful marketing tools because they allow you to use the success of your customers for marketing your business. People love to listen to the testimonies of others. In fact, personal testimonies are powerful because they add credibility to your reputation as well as your products and services.

Even in today’s social media and search engine business environment, word of mouth is still the best advertising. A case study is an organized word of mouth campaign. And it’s very effective.

First, identify a handful of your customers who have used your product or service to solve a problem. Make sure they are a customer who had a specific problem to solve before using your product or service and used your product or service to solve that problem. Then have someone interview that customer to uncover the facts of their particular case. You can then write that customer’s story to highlight the benefits of using your product or service. It’s a valuable marketing tool.

Case studies can be used as free downloads or you can sell them as educational tools. Either way, you provide awesome benefits to your potential clients, who might be interested your brand.

LinkedIn is the quintessential social network for B2B marketing. If you do any kind of business-to-business business, then you should be on LinkedIn. Your profile is the essential marketing element for connecting with others. Here are 5 of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile and how you should optimize them.

  1. Your headline – Your headline is very important. You need to tell the world the most important part of your background in 120 characters. Don’t just list your title and company. “CEO of XYZ Corporation” is not as catchy as “Ideator and Business Leader at a Fortune 500 industrial manufacturer.”
  2. Your photo – Is your photo up to date? If not, then you should get a more recent photo. Don’t be afraid to spend a few dollars to have one taken of you. It will make a difference.
  3. Your summary – You have 2,000 words to present your best background experience to page viewers. Make it relevant. Include strong action words that depict your most impressive credentials. You can even include links to your portfolio.
  4. Experience – Make sure your most recent job experiences are listed. Keep this part of your LinkedIn profile up to date. You never know who is watching.
  5. Media – You can upload important videos, podcasts, PDF files, presentations, and whatever else is important to your portfolio. These round out your LinkedIn profile and make it easier for potential business partners to see what value you can be to them.

Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date if you want to impress potential business partners.

If you are writing content in a highly technical niche area, then you might be wondering whether you should use lots of jargon or write with clarity in mind. Matt Cutts suggests you should aim for clarity when possible.

I completely agree. The exception would be if your audience consists entirely of technical people or professionals within your industry. In that case, use jargon.

If your audience is mixed – that is, consisting of both technical professionals and lay people – then you should aim for clarity, but it’s okay to add a little jargon for the technical people. You have to write in the language of your audience. If you are selling products and services to lay people, it is extremely important to speak their language.

This is a fundamental principle of writing in any discipline. You must keep your audience in mind.

So, what if you have multiple audiences? In that case, I’d write each blog post to a specific audience. If your audience is 80% lay people and 20% technical, then write 80% of your blog posts to the lay audience using clear language to help them understand your concepts. The other 20% of your blog posts can be technical in nature, and you can use jargon to speak to that audience. I would still aim for clarity to keep your lay audience engaged with a little jargon thrown in for the technical people.

Bottom line, aim clarity in your content message when you can.

If you go to Amazon.com and look for a product in any category, you’ll discover that their navigation taxonomy is quite robust. You can search the site by keyword to find the product you want. Usually, you’ll get a list of products that match your search criteria, then you’ll be given a list of navigation options (usually in the sidebar) that allow you to narrow your search to name brands, sizes, prices, types of products, etc.

So you want to duplicate this type of sophisticated navigation system on your own website. That’s good. Amazon is definitely the model to follow. But there is one big issue to think about as you build your e-commerce website.

First, nix the dynamic URL parameters. They aren’t going to help you. Each product on your website should have a keyword-based URL, and that goes for the categories and specific page navigation options too.

For instance, if your customer comes to your website searching for socks, your search page should have the word “socks” in its URL. Giving the customer the option to click-through to pages for “tube socks,” “athletic socks,” and “ankle socks” without including those descriptors in your URLs could lead to duplicate content issues, especially if your customers can arrive on any product or category page from multiple locations on your website.

Every page on your website should have a single URL before you start adding dynamic parameters and session IDs. Otherwise, you’ll have navigation issues.

Integrated marketing is a simple concept that is a challenge to implement, but it is one of the most important aspects of marketing a business of any size. Your first step is to develop your company’s mission statement and unique selling proposition (USP). From that, you develop your marketing plan.

It’s important, when establishing your overall marketing plan, to think about how each piece relates to the others.

For instance, you might have a great video marketing strategy, but how does that strategy work with your social media and e-mail marketing strategies? By making each piece work together toward a common goal, you can truly integrate your marketing so that you get more mileage out of every event.

There is no limit to how many different types of marketing you can incorporate into your integrated plan. If you can do it and you want to, you can integrate it. But you have to have someone available to manage the roll out.

There’s no sense running a paid advertising campaign, for instance, if you don’t have a qualified person available to manage your PPC accounts.

So assess your company for strengths, skills, and personnel assets, and take a look at your marketing budget. Is it feasible to do what you want to do? If not, where are the holes? Is there a way to fill them using outside resources? Take a full assessment before you begin your marketing plan and figure out how to integrate each piece before you develop it.

Adding new content is one of the best ways to increase your search engine optimization, but it can be expensive in either time or money. If you write your own content, you could spend a lot of time writing and crafting that content to say what you want it to say. If you hire a freelance writer to handle your content for you, it could cost you a lot of money. But some SEO techniques don’t cost a lot of money.

One way to increase your search engine rankings and SEO potential is to increase your page load speed.

Google’s page load speed checker will tell you if your web pages load slowly and on what devices they load slowly. This is important information because if your site loads slowly on mobile, that will translate into a bad user experience. Your traffic will go down and Google will notice that your click-throughs are lowering. That will affect your rankings.

Another way to increase your search engine rankings is to employ rich snippets.

There are different types of rich snippets, but all of them are valuable in letting the search engines know what your content is about – and not just Google either. You can use metadata markup to let the search engines know what type of content exists on a page and help them rank it accordingly. Microformats can be used for

  • Book, movie, music, or business reviews
  • People
  • Products
  • Businesses
  • Recipes
  • Events
  • And more

Identify the type of content that exists on your pages and employ rich snippets when appropriate. This alone could boost the SEO for that content.

When it comes to reputation management, most online marketers have more than one to manage. I’m sure that if you thought about it, you could identify several reputations you have to manage on a day-to-day basis. Here are a few you might consider:

  • Your personal reputation – If you are a CEO or an entrepreneur, then you are managing your personal reputation. Even middle managers or department heads have to manage their own reputations online, especially if they blog or do any social media for their companies.
  • Corporate reputation – If you’ve incorporated, or even if you’re doing business as, your business’s reputation is separate from your own.
  • Brand reputation - Your brand also has a reputation. The brand is the recognizable logo or brand identity associated with a particular product, product line, or corporate face.
  • Products – Each product or product line you manage has a reputation to manage.
  • Slogans and taglines – Believe it or not, your talking points messages need to be managed and develop their own reputations apart from the brands and entities they represent.
  • Marketing messages – Beyond taglines and slogans, marketing messages, ad spots, etc. need a level of reputation management all on their own.

Any aspect of your business that is managed by a single individual or a team of individuals is subject to reputation management. That includes geographic locations, divisions, and branches. In some cases, the different identities that need to be managed may overlap. For instance, your brand and your corporate identity may require separate reputation management campaigns, but there will be some overlap between the two. You should know where those overlap points are.

Reputation management has gone beyond a single entity to manage. You have several reputations to manage.