How to Get Your Website Noticed with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO - it's not as cryptic as it looks

Have you ever Googled yourself only to find that you landed on page 14 of the results?  I know I have, and it left me a) pretty bummed and b) scratching my head thinking, “why?”  At first, I attributed the results to my limited participation on the internet.  But then I thought, “Nuh uh, I have Twitter and Facebook.  Heck, I even have a blog, Flavors homepage and a LinkedIn and Delicious account, so what gives?”

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art of getting your website to the coveted, first page or even better, top 5 results of a Google search.  It is a complex task that combines the efforts of paid search, contextual advertisements, paid inclusions, and deciphering the madness of the Google Page Rank System (mashable).  When it comes to the Google page rank system, your popularity on the internet = your page rank.  This seems to laugh in the face of the popularity ≠ influence argument.  Regardless, this process is  “determined by the number of links that are linking into your site with specific keywords and just how popular the pages are that contain those links into your site.“– eHow.com

For example, if we enter Gloria Lee as keywords, the search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing – pick your poison) determines the sites relevant given the keywords and the order in which it should be listed (Suite101)

So how do we manipulate the pecking order so that our website lands on the first page of the search?

  1. Produce good content – Search engines are primarily on the hunt for good and relevant information.  If your site is laden with rich, content, then chances are, you’re site will appear in the earlier search pages.   This means no to keyword stuffing.
  2. Get linked– partner with other websites, create valuable content, or ask for links.  At times, inbound links can even trump compliant HTML and keywords, so create content or partnerships so that outside sources link your content to their page.  Google looks not only at the number of links to your site, but also the source.  The more reputable the source, the higher up the SEO ladder you climb.
  3. Register available domain names – snatch up all the .com, .ca, .net, .org, .info you can find because Google is gaga for domain names.  Put simply, the search engine assumes that the website in question is going to be about you
  4. Mention yourself on your site – this follows the principle of keyword density.  Google searches for certain words to determine the ranking of pages.  It is important to include the full name whether it is for an organization or for an individual.
  5. Effective use of keywords – META tags, page titles, image ALT tags, website text and the sitemap are just some of the places where you can imbed your keywords and ultimately improve your search engine awareness
  6. Use tags – if you’re a blogger, you’ll have the functionality of tagging your posts.  Google tries to recognize tags and use them to prioritize your site in its search ranking for those terms.  5 – 10 tags are recommended in each entry.
  7. Analytics – signup for free applications such as Google Analytics to track among many other things, visitors, keywords and bounce rates

Mastering the art of SEO is no small feat, and can take upwards of 6 – 12 months to perfect.  Many factors claim to be king when it comes to SEO – content, imbound links, keywords, but patience is equally important.  Google uses a complicated algorithm when running its page rank, so patience is critical for the work that is involved with SEO.

Resources: Mashable, Mashable, Suite101, eHow, Digital Media Tree

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Posted in SEO, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Online Influence: Issues, Debates and the Answers You’re Looking For

1in·flu·ence
noun\ˈin-ˌflü-ən(t)s, especially Southern in-ˈ\
1 a : an ethereal fluid held to flow from the stars and to affect the actions of humans b : an emanation of occult power held to derive from stars
2: an emanation of spiritual or moral force
3a : the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command b : corrupt interference with authority for personal gain
4: the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways : sway
5: one that exerts influence

The definition of influence is in the eye of the beholder.  Webster’s dictionary offers a variety of interpretations (as indicated above), with number 4 seemingly the most relevant to the discussion of online influence.  Klout, a tool which measures your influence across the social web argues that online influence is more than just a popularity contest.

“We believe that influence is the ability to drive people to action — “action” might be defined as a reply, a retweet, a comment, or a click.” (Klout)

Klout uses over 25 variables to produce your online influence score.  Among those variables are:

  • True Reach – The size of your engaged audience.  Over 2500 followers/friends doesn’t necessarily mean you have true reach.  True reach is measured by the number of followers who actively participate, listen and/or react to your content.
  • Amplification Probability – The likelihood your content will be actioned by your engaged audience through the form of retweet, response, Facebook “like” or comments

  • Network Influence – The influence level of your engaged audience.  Are opinion leaders, experts and industry heavyweights among your followers?

Want to know your Klout score?  Click here.

Mashable debates that principles of brand, expertise and trust underscore the concept of influence .  The stronger the brand, the wider the influence.   Expertise is contingent on your depth of knowledge and ability to disseminate information.  Subsequently the title, Expert, is one that is earned and given by others as a result of trust and rapport.  Trust is earned over time, as a direct result of consistently delivering promises and fufilling expectations.

Influence VS. Popularity


Having each accrued over 5 million followers, Twitterati heavyweights Ashton Kutcher, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber are undoubtedly popular, but are they influential?  Results of Fast Company’s Influence Project and a study conducted by Northwestern University argue no.  Though celebrities may garner a critical mass, research revealed that the majority of their content (tweets) were left ignored by the millions of their followers.  True influentials are specialists/experts in their respective field, who “dynamically change the opinions of people on specific topics, or the topic of the moment.” (The Telegraph)  Click here for a listing of new influentials.

Whether you are in agreement with all definitions, or just one, influence involves two parties: the influencer who produces content (newsworthy information, expert advice, music, gossip, a winning goal) which ultimately inspires or compels the recipient (influencee?) to action.

If you had to choose one characteristic that drives influence, what would it be?

Posted in Influence, Klout, Social Media | 5 Comments

The Fool-Proof Social Marketing Plan

 

So easy an idiot could do it!

 

Your colleagues, countless articles, the success of viral marketing campaigns and expert bloggers have finally convinced you that social media is a force to be reckoned with.  Communication platforms such as Twitter, FourSquare and Facebook allow companies to create and build new and existing relationships.  Tools such as hypertargeting identifies your market with surgical like precision.  Web analytics measure your performance to identify both your strengths and weakness.  You’re ready to jump on the social media band wagon, but naturally, you ask yourself “HOW?!”

Like all marketing endeavours, it all begins with a great idea: “Let’s start marketing through social media!” followed by a well thought out strategy.  Here’s how to make your social marketing plan fool-proof:

1. Establish Objectives – What short-term and long-term goals do you wish to fulfil with your social media marketing efforts?  Having a SMART (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) goal isn’t enough these days – they need to be SMARTER (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely, Evaluated, Re-evaluated).  Your objectives should answer the who, what, where, when, why and how of your campaign.

2. Listen – Always keep one ear to the ground and listen to what the public has to say about you and product.  What are they interested in?  What’s working, and what isn’t?  What suggestions have been made?  Don’t fall victim to thinking you know exactly what the consumer needs.  Go straight to the source to find out: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Google searches, Yelp, Amazon.  You’d be surprised how honest and forthcoming the public can be when it comes to airing their satisfaction/grievances.

3. Target Market – If social media is the latest addition to your marketing mix, then it’s possible that you may have already identified your target market.  But consider this: is your target market online?  It’s entirely possible that your social marketing efforts might tap into a secondary market.  Determine the extent of their internet activity: usage, frequency, user status, and loyalty to specific mediums.  Identify demographics, psychographics, geographic and behaviouralistic traits of your audience and structure your content strategy accordingly.

4. Communication Channels– A variety of social media platforms exist, including but not limited to Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, websites, FourSquare, Facebook, all of which allow you to create a flow of communication and create/facilitate relationships with potential and existing users.  Consider the benefit of these channels and how they will be integrated into your current strategy.

5. Stand and Deliver – Create a content schedule to facilitate timely delivery and increase campaign efficiency.  Identify how frequently content will be delivered and by whom within your organization?  Will everyone contribute or will you a dedicate a team to the social media marketing efforts?  What content will you deliver and what conversations do you plan to create or join?  Critical to the delivery is relating the content back to the objective and branding strategy and adopting a distinct voice within the market.

6. Measure Results – Analytics such as URL trackers, search engine ranking, site visits, Google Alerts help take the guesswork out of planning and reveals the effectiveness of your campaign.  These tools of the trade help monitor your results and can determine how much traffic is generated through your website, your website referrals, all amount of time spent on each page, number of retweets on twitter, number of “check-ins” at your establishment via Foursquare.  What is measured ultimately depends on the goals as identified in your objectives.

7. Evaluate and Re-evaluate: Reflect on the campaign and see if the results measure up to your goals and objectives – were they achieved?  Make the appropriate adjustments and continue striving for success!

Click here for a full scope of delivering a successful social marketing campaign.  Delicious, isn’t it?  Bon Appetit!

Sources: Reve NewsExpansion Plus, MRKT3311 Team A, Wikipedia,

Image credit: De Telegraaf

Posted in Campaign, Digital Marketing, Marketing Plans, Social Media | 4 Comments

5 Online Marketing Mistakes You Should Avoid

Shocking, isn't it?

Much of marketing (and life in general) is about learning strategies for success, but also about learning from the mistakes of others.  Here are some tips that will prevent your audience and social media pundits from exclaiming, what were they thinking?!

1) Marketing to a Demographic – Marketers should always target a niche, not a demographic.  A niche can be best described as “a group of people with a common problem who congregate together.” (Copy Blogger) Stay at home mothers, seniors over the age of 65, and newly weds are all examples of demographics.  Stay at home mothers trying to keep the house clean, seniors looking into retirement homes, and newly weds who wish to shed weight are examples of niches.   These groups all have a specific problem to solve, and your task is to do just that.

2) Expecting Your Campaign to go Viral – Having a viral campaign is a marketers dream.  It relies on Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM), whereby content – images, video, articles are passed from one person to another.   The true value of WOMM is that the content is more likely to be reviewed because it is being sent from a trusted source – friends, family or corworkers.  As a result, your message has a higher chance of reaching and pentrating audiences.  The fact of the matter is, most campaigns (I’m talking 90%) will not go viral.  Viral should never be the intent behind your marketing efforts.  It is the reward, not the expectation.

3) Expecting the Public to do the Marketing for You – This faux pas hinges largely on #3.  Too often, marketers assume that a viral campaign will save their organization time and money, since the success of the campaign is contingent on the pass-along rate.  WRONG.  Incentives must be added to compel users to participate in your marketing efforts.

4)  Neglecting Metrics – Joe Shmoe sits in his living room and watches your tv ad.  It makes him laugh, it convinces him that your product is superior and it propels him to make the purchase.  Fine and dandy, but one of the core weaknesses in television campaigns lies in the inability to trace consumer action, history and response.  Online marketing can measure user details, page visits, and peak web site times.  There are a variety of tools that can help measure your website’s performance, so why not use them to your advantage?

5) Failing to Plan for the Long Term – Many marketers get caught up with the “real time” movement of internet marketing.  Constant, rapid, here, and now.  Though this might be the case, it is absolutely CRITICAL that a long term online marketing plan be considered.  Too often, marketers get stuck on trying to create the one perfect campaign, rather than a succession of succesful campaigns.  Your long term plan should guide you towards your goals, relate your actions back to your vision/mission statement and provide measures of success.

ARTICLE RATING: HOT

Copy Blogger hit the nail right on the head when it outlined the difference between demographics and niche markets.  If an organization markets to demographic, it fails to solve a problem or need within that group.  As a result, the audience may feel  spammed with messages, and ultimately, harbour negative feelings towards the product/service/company.  Addressing your niche allows the marketer to identify the core benefit of the product/service and better articulate the message.

Given the recent success of the Old Spice campaign, markters are running amuck, with visions of viral campaign grandeur.  That’s the first mistake there, making viral marketing your MO (modus operandi).  This faux pas results in a short sighted campaign, which typically fails to address the core needs of the target market.

Know thy audience, know thy long term plan and know thy metrics and ye shall reap the rewards of a successful, online campaign!

Resources: Copy Blogger, Twittown, Whats Next Blog, iMedia Connection,

Posted in Business Models, Digital Marketing, Social Media | Leave a comment

The 411 on Social Objects

kid in bowling ball costume

This could very well change the future of marketing (the bowling ball, not the kid. Okay, maybe the kid too).

Social studies, social media, social networking, social justice, social security and now, social objects.  But before you roll your eyes over the gratuitous use of the word, “social”, feast your eyes upon this article posted via the @nytimes discussing the nature and future of social objects.  Immediately, I thought, objects can be antisocial?  *cue laugh track here*

Essentially, social objects are regular items – bowling balls, ipods, a bottle of wine, with embedded chips that track usage and frequency.  The power of social objects is best illustrated with an example:

Imagine a bowling ball with an RFID chip embedded which specifies the materials used, its origins and features.

The minute the ball is picked up, the chip measures, among other things, usage, frequency, wear and tear.  Here’s where the social part steps in: the ball, which is connected to the internet, has the ability to send and receive information from other racquets (players) to track performance, keep score of games and record wins or loses. Data from the ball can be a contributor to social networks – checking you into a bowling alley via FourSquare, updating your Facebook status each time you win a game, or sending you a DM through Twitter reminding you of your next tournament!

ARTICLE RATING: HOT

The beauty of this concept lies in the fact that inanimate objects are becoming living extensions of the user.  Now this may already be the case, whereby purchase decisions often reflect our character/behaviour/values, but here’s the difference: these objects can tell us a story.  The data derived from social objects can give us a sense of history (how was it used, at what frequency) as well as future (how should it be differentiated, trends in usage, areas of improvement).  This has critical implications for market research too – rather than arranging focus groups, which can cost hundeds, thousands or even millions of dollars, intelligence derived from these social objects can tell us more about the user and ultimately, consumer behaviour.  Pure marketing genius, I’d say.

Resources: The New York Times, Craziest Gadgets

Posted in Digital Marketing, Market Research, Social Media, Social Objects | Leave a comment

Social Media: Changing the Business Landscape

There is no doubt that social media has changed the face of business, communication and life as we know it today (that last part was added for drama).  A picture is worth a thousand words, and this infographic via Penn-Olson does just that:

Infographic - effect of social media on business

1. From Selling to Connecting: Gone are the days of the used car salesman hustling his way into your wallet.  A successful business uses social media to listen to the customer, and actively responds to inquiries, complaints, comments and suggestions.

2. From Large Campaigns to Small Acts – Sure, companies still spend millions of ad dollars for that coveted 60 seconds during the Super Bowl half-time, but small acts such as swiftly responding to consumer complaints are becoming more and more valuable.  You know how they say a bad shopping experience will result in the customer telling 10 of their friends, who then tell 10 more of their friends etc?  Well with tools such as facebook, twitter and blogging, that negative experience is echoed to thousands reaching an audience from here to Timbuktu.

3. Letting Go and Becoming More Transparent – Businesses are encouraged to step out of their fortified, corporate image and leverage the power of employees to act as ambassadors by sharing their experiences via twitter, corporate blogs and other platforms.  This helps put a friendly face to the corporation, and provides an opportunity for employees to create relationships with potential and existing audiences.

4. Anytime, Anyplace: Availability within an Arms Reach – Consumers can now reach corporations in their preferred communications platform whether it is in140 characters or less (Twitter), email, discussion forums, snail mail or telephone.  The world is your oyster!

ARTICLE RATING: HOT

The article consistently provides great examples that help illustrate each point.  Websites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, Rate My Professor, and Twitter allow companies to tap in to the customer experience and receive feedback that ultimately paves the way for new business practices and early detection of problems.  Promptly responding to consumer feedback increases consumer loyalty and also publicly shows that as an organization you a) listen b) care c) follow-up.  Tip #3 could prove to be challenging to some organizations, with the main concern being the unpredictability of employee actions.  Drafting a corporate social media policy will help prevent inconsistencies, breach of information and other types of tomfoolery.

Critical to the success of a business operating in a digital environment is its ability to listen, react and respond to the customer.  After all, the customer is always right!

Resources: MashablePenn-Olson

Posted in Business Models, Digital Marketing, Social Media | Leave a comment

The Digital Revolution: Keep Calm and Carry On

Keep calm, carry on

Do as it says and I promise Twitter won't deploy an explosive device.

OH MY GOD WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT SHOULD I DO?, a free eBook with the goal of moving its reader to the “era of digital awesomeness”, dispells ongoing myths about digital marketing and provides compelling evidence as to why it should be adopted.

A timeline showcasing the history of the digital era reveals the unwielding power of the social web and its crushing effect on various industries: entertainment (music, cinema, adult), telecommunications (landline phone, mobile) and travel/tourism to name a few.  So does this mean that the internet is bad for business?  Or does this force businesses to adopt a new marketing strategy?  I’ll let you chew on that and kindly welcome your feedback in the comments section.

Underlying this technological revolution is the premise that technology should be well integrated, invisible, and disruptive.  So no pink elephants in the room!  Similarily, a well executed branding strategy needs to be just as stealthy, integrating the product/service into the consumers life(style) by enriching and enabling their existing behaviour rather than forcing the individual to adopt new ones.  We are creatures of habit, and often become defensive when we are thrown out of our comfort zone.

Like all successful marketing efforts, it all starts with a great idea. OMGWhatHappened… stresses that the idea must come first, and the technological platform that can best support it should be conceived later.  I would suspect that this suggestion along with tip #5 (Make a Techi Friend) should alleviate the concerns of old school markters.   The reader will soon learn that when it comes to digital marketing, the basic principles of marketing remain the same: know your audience, focus on the consumer, exceed expectations, integrate your campaign, the only difference is the platform.

BOOK RATING: HOT

The book is easily accessible both financially (it’s FREE) and academically as it is grounded in laymen’s terms.  What I appreciate most about the book is how it provides simple ways to shift digitial skepticisim into the here and now.  The book adopts an almost Coupland-esque narrative, with its GenX voice and generous use of helvetica font.  Now I’m all for digital marketing, so this book may have been preaching to the converted, but it only fuelled my passion for the discipline.  Cheesy, but true!  An easy read for the bus, the doctor’s office or inbetween coffee sips.

Resources: Ohmygodwhathappened?

Posted in Digital Marketing, Social Media | 2 Comments

It’s All in the Name

Twin girls crying on Santa's lap

This could have been prevented if they read this post...and avoided Santa altogether

I’m one to embrace technology, so learning to use a new communications platform such as WordPress wasn’t particularly daunting.  Identifying a name for my blog however, was a whole other ball game.  My first instinct?  Something simple, like glorialee or, since I’m so creative, leegloria.  No go.  With over 11.4 million registered blogs on WordPress, it was no surprise that most of my first choice names were already taken.

WordPress Beginner recommends users to consider the following when brainstorming domain names:

1) Keywords: choosing the right keywords, or descriptors can influence your ranking in search engine results.  Identifying a quick, and catchy name is a receipe for repeat visitors to your blog.

2) Branding: the domain is a reflection of yourself and/or your organization/product/service, so it is critical that you are consistent across all communication platforms.

3) Length and Hyphens – the shorter the name, the more memorable it will be for your visitor.  Hyphens and double letters tend to confuse the user and cause typos (ie – marketinggenious)

The article proceeds to list specific domain registrars which are particularly useful as these tools identify whether your desired domain is available.

ARTICLE RATING: LUKEWARM

What I would have liked to see in the article is a list of do’s and don’ts coupled with examples of real web/blog names.  A list of words related to an industry/topic (think thesaurus) would have been particularly helpful to get the ball rolling.

Choosing a domain name is a creative process, so  I suppose it is challenging to list what exact name would or wouldn’t work for a blog/website.  After all, who would’ve known that an obscure name like Google would’ve worked!

Resources: WordPress, WordPress Beginner, and The San Francisco Chronicle

Posted in Blog, WordPress | Leave a comment

Another Diary?

Two dudes and a watercooler

Let's party.

Welcome to The Water Cooler Diaries – not to be mistaken for the Vampire Diaries, Diary of a Call Girl, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Redshoe Diaries or Diary of Anne Frank.  It’s a place where marketers and non-marketers alike congregate to discuss marketing trends, pop culture, social media, viral phenomena (no, not the SARS mask wearing kind), advertising and all things in between!  Here’s how it works, I’ll post a topic, give my two cents and ultimately provide a rating: Cold, Lukewarm or Hot.  Get it?  Got it?  GOOD!  Now let’s roll!

Image courtesy of http://www.jpaerospace.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment