June 2nd, 2012 @ // No Comments
In another move to drive traffic to its social networking site and integrate its various searches, Google shifted all of its Google Places pages into Google+. Eighty million Google Places pages are now Google+ Local pages, and Google+ users can access a new tab on the left, labeled Local, to get at this information. So what’s gained from the change?
Greg Sterling gives a full review over at Search Engine Land. It’s a pretty dramatic change, and a big help to Google+ users who might patronize these businesses, as well as the businesses themselves.
Users clicking on the Local tab get a list of recommendations of businesses to frequent for their local area. The default seems to turn up restaurants, but it’s easy enough to do a search for something different. Google+ Local reflects the search giant’s purchase of Zagat by including overall scores from the review guide. With Zagat scores going up to 30 points, potential customers get to see more of a range than they would with a standard five-star scale. As Sterling notes, it allows for more differentiation and nuance, since the scores include separate ratings for food, service and atmosphere – and don’t tend to converge at 3.5 stars.
You don’t need to be on Google+ to experience Google+ Local. These pages can turn up on a regular Google.com search, when using Google Maps, and through mobile applications, as well as on a Google+ search. Sterling noted that the additional functionality will allow users to sort and filter their results based on a number of criteria, such as whether their friends have left reviews of the business or posted about it. This part of Google+ Local wasn’t working for me when I tried it out.
On the business end, Google+ Local pages allow companies to add a lot more images, making the pages more visually interesting. These pages also offer at least some of the same kinds of tools you’d find on a regular Google+ page; firms can win “followers” and message them, for example, and Google plans to add more functionality down the line. Even now, some Google+ Local pages look very similar to Facebook business pages, and boast the same kind of capabilities.
Remember what I mentioned earlier about Google using Zagat scores instead of the five-star scale? Google+ encourages users to write reviews of businesses, and when they do, they get to use a form that rates food, service, and atmosphere/decor separately – much like a Zagat review. Users can rate each of those items on a scale from 0 to 3. They can also leave comments about their experience with the business. Sterling wrote that “Some of those online reviews may also make it back into Zagat proper, at the discretion of Zagat editors I was told.” After you’ve written a review, you can make it public or private; you can even specifically share it with one or more of your Circles.
If you have a Google Places page, you should continue to manage your information on Google Places for Business, according to this blog post. But expect to see upgrades to Google+ Local pages. One upgraded page let visitors click to separate sections to see posts, photos, videos, and an “about” section that included a statement from the business, address, contact information, a map, directions and reviews. Restaurants could include links to hours and menus on their “about” section.
Business owners will want to learn how to use the increased functionality of Google+ Local pages. If you can engage customers, you stand to gain quite a bit. And you should be aware that, unlike Google Places pages, Google+ Local pages will be indexed by the search engine. This could even simplify your life in the long term, as Google ultimately plans to let business owners manage multiple locations from a single page. But the key take-home point, if you run a business, is this: you can’t afford to ignore Google+ anymore.
June 2nd, 2012 @ // No Comments
If you can remember the days before Facebook and Twitter, you probably recall a time when social media marketing meant using MySpace, Delicious, commenting on the posts of bloggers dedicated to your niche, making yourself known in forums, and so forth. Nowadays, just trying to keep up with the different categories can make a marketer frantic.
Social media optimization and social media marketing really got their start in 2006, with a blog post by Rohit Bhargava. To some extent, it existed before that post, of course; it’s worth noting that Facebook had been founded only two years before. Rohit codified rules, which others expanded on. He updated those rules several years later.
As you’d expect, since we’re dealing with the online world, a lot has happened in the six years since Rohit wrote that post. And if you’re trying to understand it all, it’s downright scary. Business Insider posted an insane but painfully accurate infographic to get that point across. Even the graphic’s creator missed something; Pinterest wasn’t included, and really should have been.
The graphic separates services and websites important to social media marketing into no fewer than 28 different categories. Twenty-eight! And they’re all legitimate, as near as I can tell. All of a sudden, I feel a certain sympathy with General Motors for removing its advertising from Facebook. Perhaps it was simply a matter of not being able to keep everything straight, and giving up on trying.
In this article (and the ones that follow) I’m going to explain these different social media categories. Hopefully, rather than contributing to the confusion, I’ll help you get a handle on each of these areas. We’ll take a look at what they are, what they do, some of the major players, and their marketing potential.
Facebook and Twitter are practically in a class by themselves; they’ve certainly spawned several separate categories. Twitter has its own third-party apps, while Facebook features Facebook apps, and Facebook gaming, which Business Insider’s infographic treats as a separate category.
Twitter applications include such items as TwitPic, StockTwits, wefollow, tweetmeme, twitvid, Listorious, and more. These services vary in their specific goals, but in general, they try to enable their users to get more personalization, functionality, or efficiency out of the microblogging site. Or in other words, they make it easier for users to pursue their personal interests through Twitter.
For example, TwitPic helps users post pictures and videos on Twitter. StockTwits dubs itself a “financial communications platform” and tries to organize Twitter streams focused on that kind of information. It also seems to have its own, separate functionality, with members and bloggers and more; it offers a “pro” service, which is in beta. Twitvid bills itself as “a social network that connects you with the latest and greatest videos on topics and people you find interesting,” presumably collecting them from Twitter. Listorious lets you find people on Twitter by topic, region or profession, and interview them by asking questions through their interface. You can add yourself to Listorious.
You can take a couple of different approaches with Twitter apps if you want to promote your company. You can do a search for Twitter apps and find some to use that work with your marketing plan. For instance, wefollow offers a list of Twitter users organized by interest, which should be pretty valuable to just about any marketer.
Or, if you’re ambitious, you can think of Twitter as a “fire hose” of information and work with someone to create a specific Twitter app that would fit the theme of your company or your goals. For example – no surprise – StockTwits was founded in 2008 by long-time investor Howard Lindzon. Maybe you can come up with a Twitter app that would appeal to your potential customers or target audience, and then promote it; every time a user consults it, they’ll be reminded of your company. If you choose this approach, you should still do a search for Twitter apps that are similar. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel; at the very least, you want to make it better.
That’s all that I have time and room for today. Next week, I’ll discuss several more social media categories and how you can use them to assist you in your marketing campaign.
June 2nd, 2012 @ // No Comments
Howdy, SEOmoz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I wanted to tackle the topic of comment marketing. A lot of people in the internet marketing world and the inbound marketing world use comments as a form of marketing, and classically, at least in sort of the SEO world, it’s been a little bit of a grey hat/black hat tactic.
Now, there’s obviously like the true black hat stuff, which is essentially comment spamming and it’s just automated stuff that goes through, leave comments in the hopes that some of them get approved and some of them pass some link value and maybe some of them are not no-followed or maybe the no- follows carry some weight or get scraped or picked up. Xrumer blasts, like all these kinds of things, right, that find open ports on the Web and leave these strings of comments. That would be like the black hat stuff.
Then there’s the grey hat, which is essentially, you know, it’s a real person commenting, but they’re not adding much value and their entire goal is just to get a link and they’re not doing a whole lot.
There’s the rarely observed but highly valuable form, in fact, most valuable form in my opinion, which is the true white hat kinds of comment marketing, and that’s what I want to talk about today.
Comment marketing is this idea that I want to participate in the Web’s communities to earn the trust and respect of other people and the awareness. This is a blog post, right? Here’s some content. You can add comments down at the bottom. This happens all over the Web. There are literally tens of millions of blogs where this could be valuable, depending on your niche, and contributing here and earning the recognition of readers can earn you all sorts of returns. Let me talk through some of these.
So comments work well because commenters and readers, the people who are here, people in this world, right, this guy here, that guy there, they tend to be influencers. They tend to be the people who have larger Twitter followings, have lots of fans on Facebook, have lots of people reading their RSS, have the ability to link to you, have the ability to spread your message, speak at conferences and events, influence other people. They are valuable connectors, and it’s a great reason to be in front of them. It’s not just the people here, though. It’s also this guy, the person who wrote the post. We’re trying to get in front of them. When we earn the attention and awareness of the blogger, we can often build a relationship there, build some trust and likability, build a system whereby we can earn things like, oh, we can earn a guest post. We can earn the community’s reciprocity, inspire reciprocity, meaning that if we contribute here, we’re likely to get some of these people and maybe this person contributing on our site to our blog to our marketing efforts, those kinds of things. So it does all these great things.
The goals of comment marketing, when it’s done right, need to be build awareness, meaning people recognize you when you’re commenting, they recognize what organization you’re with. You build trust, meaning, “Hey, you know what? I know that Rand guy. He’s commented on lots of sites. I’ve seen him around. I’m familiar with him.” Build likability, the goal here being when I see him, I think, oh, I will positively interpret that message because in the past I have had a previous good experience when this person has left comments. Whenever I see their avatar, whenever I see their username commenting, I think positively about them. That’s a great thing to build up over time, and it does lead to all of the great things that you need to be doing in an SEO campaign and a social media marketing campaign and a content marketing campaign. It will help all of those channels succeed better.
You are not, not trying to build links. No, not directly anyway. Eventually, over time, one of the goals is hopefully to get some links, maybe to get a blogger to mention you, point over to your stuff, not to build profiles, which, essentially, is just a form of link spam or of reputation management where you’re building all these profiles across different sites, and not to comment without adding value. “Great post. Nice work. Thanks for writing this.” Okay, well, thank you maybe, maybe 1 out of 10 comments can be that because you just feel like, man, that was a really great post and I want to tell this person. That’s genuine and fantastic, fine. But if you’re just doing that across hundreds or even dozens of blogs, what are you doing? Why are you there? If you’re not participating without adding value, then the opposite of what you want is going to happen. You are going to build awareness, but you are going to screw yourself on trust and likability. This completely defeats the purpose, and you will have to rebuild your persona on the Internet. A terrible, terrible idea.
I do have some pro tips when we’re doing this, to help you accomplish all these goals. The first one is, since we’re trying to build awareness and recognition, please, for goodness sake, I see this mistake all the time, use the same avatar and username everywhere you go. Seriously. I can’t tell you how many people have, “Oh yeah, my Disqus profile looks a little bit different than my Twitter, which looks a little different than my Facebook, which looks different from the one that I use to comment on blogs. If you want, you can do one of the things that I do, which is I have kind of one image that I always use for my personal stuff. So I have a personal Facebook or I have my Foursquare, and that’s personal. It’s private. I don’t share it with everybody. Then I have my public persona, and I use that same avatar all the time.
If you can, if at all possible, use a real human being face, hopefully your actual face or your social media, community manager’s face. Get close up. Eyes, smile, those kinds of things create the sort of stuff you’re looking for: trust, likability, familiarity, awareness. It creates that branding. Use a background, that is hopefully colorful, that helps the person to stand out, that’s a good color match. Professional photography can actually be helpful. I know it looks like it doesn’t because the image is this big. Who cares about professional photography at this size? You’d be shocked. You’d be shocked at how much it really actually helps.
Don’t be afraid. A lot of people that think that, oh, if I’m doing comment marketing, if I’m trying to engage to build positive things, then the last thing I want to do is disagree with the blogger or disagree with another commenter. Actually, no. I would say that that’s a highly valuable tactic. When you disagree or you have critiques or you have additions or you say, you think to yourself, boy, you know, this part of it I really liked and I think it’s highly accurate, but this piece I’m not so sure about and here’s why. As long as you’re doing it respectfully and positively, you’re actually going to be earning much more value and creating much more of a conversation and a community and a reason for everyone to be participating on the blog than if you’re simply agreeing every time and saying that you like it. Then you just fall away into the noise. But if you bring up salient points, you’re going to have a much better time. I even recommend, and I do this myself sometimes, if there’s something that you truly disagree with strongly, you can comment about it, go back and forth on the comment thread. If you’re still having questions about that, go write a blog post about why you disagree. Make sure to stay positive. Stay highly respectful. But oftentimes, the person will update their blog post or write a new blog post saying, “Hey, I wrote about this last week. This person who’s a frequent commenter in our community mentioned it here.” Now you’ve got a link. You’ve got some of their traffic. You’ve helped to drag some of their community over to your community and built more awareness and trust and likability. Fantastic. Excellent, excellent work. That’s precisely what you’re trying to do.
When sharing a URL, so let’s say you’ve got something in the comments and you go, oh man, this person, they wrote about this. Some people are asking about this topic, and I have something that I wrote specifically about that a little while back, or I have a tool or I really want to share this thing. First off, if it’s paid, if it’s something that you have to pay for, don’t share it. Don’t mention it. If it’s free, however, and anyone can consume it, rather than putting in the URL that makes it a live link, which can look a little spammy, look like you’re trying to get that link, what you can do, and I think this is a great tactic is to say, particularly if you’re not sure of the rules, “Hey, I’m not sure what the rules are here. I wrote something about this. I think it would be worth sharing and of interest to your community. Here’s the URL,” and then cut it off, so that essentially instead of http:// whatever, you’ve just got SEOmoz.org/blog/thepost. The reason you do that is because it will appear as text, and then you can say, “Editor/blogger, if you want to make this a live link, that’s great, or feel free to remove it if this is not appropriate.” Then, essentially you’re caveating the link that you’ve dropped and saying, “Hey, I’m trying to do this in a very respectful way and I think this is of interest.” If you do it in that way, and you do it with something that is high quality and relevant and useful, you’ll probably get a lot of nice traffic. You won’t be able to see the referring source, because a lot of people will just copy and paste the URL, but you will see that traffic. You will see people referencing it. Then you can follow up in the comment thread underneath where you’ve left that.
Number four, I should put this as number one. Target the right blogs and communities. So there are blogs where it pays to contribute. So usually in most industries there’s somewhere between 5 and 50 blogs that really matter, that are very important, and you should start building profiles there, but you shouldn’t ignore sort of the long tail of, oh, they only get a few dozen to a few hundred readers. You should be contributing on those blogs as well. In fact, those people are very likely to be the ones who will start linking to you, start sharing, because they’re also more up-and- comers than they are sort of big industry leaders, and for that reason it can often be a lot easier to earn that trust and awareness and likability. If you’re the person who comments on three out of five posts on a blog that usually only gets five or six comments, they’re going to love you. They’re going to appreciate you so much. You are making their day, and that’s a great thing. You actually want to be that big fish in the small pond.
Make sure, though, that the communities are targeting the right kinds of people. So what you are not looking for is customers. I am not asking you to go find the people who are going to buy your stuff. What I want you to find is these people over here who are influencers of potential customers. So it’s not the person who, oh, well this is male between 25 and 35, and I’m selling boots to outdoorsmen and so this is my customer. But you are thinking, hey, who are the people who write about outdooring? Who are the people that go on travel adventures? Who are the people that are on television or in media or on the Web who are talking about these things? Those are the folks that I really want to reach. So this is not about directly encouraging customers to come to you and buy. This is about influencing the influencers who will then get your message down to customers. This is why comment marketing works, in fact. So get the right blogs and communities. If you’re looking for a good tool, I actually do recommend Google’s Blog Reader, because if you go to Google Blog Reader, you can do searches for your keywords for your topics and then you can sort things or see things by the number of RSS readers, which is actually probably the best way to gauge the authority or the influence of a particular blog.
Number five. This is obvious. Don’t pimp your products, the things you’re selling. Pimp your content. Pimp the stuff that you’ve written on your blog. Get inspired from the stuff that people are writing to write other great things and to put those things together. If someone says, “Oh, I really wish there was a resource for what kind of trails go with what kind of boots,” and you think to yourself, I can do that, do it. Go do it, and then email the blogger and say, “Hey, you remember how you said that you wish that there was this? I made that. Would you share it for me? Would you help me get the word out? Do you have any critiques?” Bing.
Number six. This one is kind of sad and sucky because I take a lot of pride in our industry and in what we do, but it’s true. If you use the word SEO or Social Media Marketer in your profile, you’re not going to be viewed positively. So I might recommend saying, “I’m the Director of Marketing” or “I run a community” or “I’m involved with outreach and building.” Outreach maybe is not such a good word. Try and find good language that describes what you do accurately, but doesn’t necessarily use buzzwords that are going to piss people off. People on blog comments and in these kinds of communities are very, very sensitive, and they’ve been burned by so many people who do the grey hat and black hat kinds of comment marketing that it sort of burned these words as untrustworthy in their eyes. So I’d recommend biasing away from those.
All right, everyone, I’m looking forward to some fantastic comments here, maybe even some suggestions, some disagreements, these kinds of things. I will see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.
June 2nd, 2012 @ // No Comments
If you follow the local search space, you’ve likely heard by now that Google Places will soon fully be rolled into Google+ and known as Google+ Local. Those of us who regularly work with Google Places are not strangers to frequent and abrupt changes with their local search product but this recent change is probably the biggest one in the history of Google’s local search. And if history has taught us anything, we’re in for a bumpy ride as Google fully makes the transition to Google+ Local.
Here are some of our initial notes on the changes, new features and strategies to consider as this change fully rolls out.
In most cases, your business listing from Google Places should already be showing up on Google+.
If you already claimed and optimized your listing on Google Places, you should see everything on your new Google+ Local listing. Pictures, descriptions, reviews, etc. should all be present.
If you haven’t claimed your business listing, what are you waiting for? Click the “Manage this page” button on the right side which will take you to Google Places where you can claim, optimize and verify your listing.
If you have claimed your listing and see the “manage this page” button on the right, don’t get too nervous. Google is still working that out.
At this point in time, it doesn’t appear that much as changed in terms of ranking strategy, mostly the user interface. For most searches, the rankings of businesses have stayed in tact. With Google aggressively trying to combine Local and Social, we don’t expect this to stay this way forever.
In the mean time, make sure your listing is claimed, accurate and optimized. Keep creating new citations and ensureing existing citations are consistent with your new Google+ listing. Even though Google is making it harder for people to leave reviews, keep encouraging your customers to review your business and become a fan on your social networks.
At this point, you still manage all of your business information through Google Places. However, it’s expected that Google will soon be moving everything to Google+ Local.
Reviews – One major difference is how Google now handles reviews. In the past, any Google user could leave a review and also utilize a nickname in the process.
With Google+ Local, users now must have a Google+ account and use their real name to leave a review. While this does feel like another attempt for Google to strong arm the general public into using Google+, it also raises the barrier to entry to get reviews from your customers.
Zagat Rating System – In some cases, you’ll also see the new Zagat rating system on some page. This is based on a 30-point scoring system. Your Google+ user reviews rates the business between 0 and 3. The scores are averaged and multiplied by 10 to show your potential score, up to a maximum of 30.
Keep managing them separately for now. A Google representative has acknowledged that it isn’t ideal but they are working to consolidate Google+ Business Pages with your new Google+ Local listings.
You can use this form to find out when your pages are combined – http://goo.gl/8apbo
June 2nd, 2012 @ // No Comments
Linkbait is the process of publishing a remarkable piece of content others can’t help but link back to. The most common forms of linkbait are:
Linkbait can be considered a tactic, but this is only a short term perspective. When thinking of any strategy as simply a tactic you throw up blinders that deter the campaigns ability to fully capitalize on the specific approach. Linkbait should be a heavily integrated part of your content strategy. The difference between the two will lie in quality and delivery of the content. Because of these two distinctions, and the partially jaded personality the term “linkbait” has taken, I’ll refer to this strategy as “link attraction.”
Creating content that is not only useful but attracts a lot of links can be difficult. To ensure you are doing it right, start by asking the right questions:
The most common goals in content creation will likely consist of one or more of the following:
While the key factors of creating link attractive content will remain the same no matter the KPI, knowing the metrics that will be tracked to determine success can alter particular aspects of the content creation and push.
Often creating link attractive content is a design heavy process. Content must be both useful and beautiful to attract a high volume of links. Understanding where your schedule and funding sits for a particular project will determine the difference between quick one off’s, like an infographic, or intensive niche guides.
Knowing not only who your major audience consists of, but understanding how large it is and how large your access to that audience is becomes key, especially when determining how to best push your content to initiate that link attraction. Your two key sources for kicking off link attractive content will be your email list and social networks. Make sure you are strategically integrating these two assets into your content sharing process.
Also, when your audience amplification is weak it is ideal to integrate other strong websites and networks outside of your brands into the push process. Often this can be done through strategic partnerships in linkbait like incentive driven content (joint giveaways) or even publishing your infographic on another website rather than your own. There are many ways to piggy back off others strong following in order to create your own for the future.
The last factor to consider with link attractive content is to understand links or social shares should be considered a conversion of it’s own kind. This means that with every piece of content developed majorly for the purpose of acquiring links should be designed in a way that this is made as simple as possible. To do this you may consider doing the following:
What other questions do you have about linkbait? Do you have any other ideas for link attraction you would like to share? Please comment below, and let’s continue the conversation.
Do you have a question about SEO, internet marketing or social media? If so, post your questions on the SEO.com Facebook page, Tweet us, or leave a comment on the SEO.com Google+ page. For Twitter and G+ use the hashtag #SEOCOMFAQ. Maybe we will use one of your questions in a future video.
Article source: http://www.seo.com/blog/what-is-linkbait/