SEO

No one loves Google more than Google: Google+ the New Network

Google Plus, you might have heard about it, but like many people still might know what it actually is… Well what is it? Google Plus is a social media platform that extends past the social network itself, also connecting all of Google’s properties. You no longer need an invite to join, but you’re probably thinking that it’s just another social network. You’re already on Facebook and Twitter, so why would you need to have yet another social media account?

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According to Social Media Today, Google Plus is “arguable the most important social network for businesses and marketers and should be integral to content-focused SEO strategy.” Google Plus is important for businesses because it can increase their online presence. In an article on Forbes, Linda Sherman, a consultant and former CEO of ClubMed Japan made this statement about Google Plus, “people who are ignoring it are falling behindGoogle Plus can give you access to influencers who might not notice you elsewhere…There is a nice spirit of camaraderie that people seldom feel with well-established platforms.” You might not be on Google Plus, but your customers still are. 

“No one loves Google more than Google.” Having a Google Plus account can help you be searched on Google. It can build your audience, help you make connections and increase your ranking.

Reasons to be on Google Plus:

  • Integrated Content – Google+ makes it easy to share content across all of Googles platforms (Gmail, Maps, Chrome, Google Play and YouTube)
  • +1 button – If Google Plus was Facebook, the ‘+1’ button would be the same as the ‘like’ button. This is good for SEO rankings for a business. The more +1’s a page has, the more popular the page is and the higher the page ranks
  • Google Circles – This feature allows users to categorize who they are following and their followers, which makes it easier to target messages to corresponding or relevant audiences. Circle examples are “Friends,” “Family,” “Work,” and “Local Businesses.” Extended circles allows friends of friends to see your shared content; again, extending your visibility and reach.
  • Google Authorship – Google Authorship links your Google Plus profile to the content you create. The more you share the more visibility you get, resulting with a better ranking.
  • Hangouts – are essentially group chats through text or video, allowing communication with a maximum of 10 people at once. A Hangout on Air is a broadcasted hangout that can be seen during or after the hangout. This is beneficial for promotions through email and Youtube.
  • Communities – are chat forums on specific topics, products or services that are created by brands or individuals to converse and share information. Communities are good for relationship management, getting leads, building authority, creating brand awareness, and getting customer feedback.
  • Events – Google Plus events are similar to Facebook events, easy to share and create, but they are more interactive. Users on other Google properties can easily transfer events to calendars and emails on Gmail and Google Calendar.
  • Business Pages and Places – these help Google find your page and share your information such as, store hours, location, phone number, also providing a Google map. These are important features of Google Plus because “97% of consumers search for local businesses online.”
  • Insights – are statistics for your page traffic. For example, number of views and in what area, number of interactions, and what activity worked. This is really important for businesses because it gives them feedback on their content, which allows them to alter future content to help them build authority and their audience.

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Social Media Today offers some tips to optimize your Google+ usage:

  • Be Visual – post engaging content, adding pictures and videos
  • Start a Community – can promote users to promote knowledge, and share interests and your brand, as well as get customer feedback
  • Set up Google Authorship – is a very important rank signal, and can increase rank in organic search
  • Share content from a range of sources – posting and sharing adjacent content, other or related content  that your customers would look at, builds your authority
  • Make the most of your profile – be sure to include all your business information (including your other social media networks) on your About page on your profile and use intriguing images to captivate users attention.
  • Improve the images you post – images are a good attention getters, and Google Plus offers image editing options

It is important for businesses to have an established online presence in today’s technologically integrated society. Being on as many social media platforms you can, and posting valuable and engaging content increases your visibility. Google Plus is an important growing social network to have a presence on in order to build relationships, your authority and your brand. If you don’t have an account now, you need to make one! www.google.com/+

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Second is the first loser – increase your rank using SEO!

The Seattle Sounders player, Zach Scott once told me “you miss every shot you don’t take.” To be successful in the digital age, organizations need to have an online presence; or in other words be searchable. Most Internet traffic occurs through search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. But, if unable to be found by search engines, businesses are missing the opportunities that these search engines provide.

According to Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO, “search engines’ primary responsibility is to serve relevant results to their users,” by having 2 main functions:

  1. Crawling and Building Index – Automated robots (spiders) search the web for documents, pages, files, news, videos and media through the use of links, and store them in hard drives in order for them to be recalled when searched
  2. Providing Answers – Using algorithms, search engines provide answers to user queries (the words/phrases entered into a search) usually through a list of relevant pages, which are ranked by perceived usefulness.

Popularity matters. Search engines’ results are based on the importance of a page, which is interpreted by its popularity. The more popular a page is, the more valuable its information is. Most Internet users know that the top results are usually the best results.

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So why is this important?

  • Search is the primary method of navigation for most Internet users
  • Search provides opportunities for organizations
  • To have empathy for your audience (know what they want and appeal to them)
  • Ranking of search results determines credibility
  • Top ranked searches get the most visibility and traffic

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“Second is the first loser,” another quote told to me by professional soccer player Zach Scott. The top three search results get the most traffic. How do we become the top search results? Search engine optimization (SEO). What is SEO? Moz, (formerly known as SEOmoz) defines it as:

  • Search Engine Optimization: “improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines”

If you read my last post, “They want you, to want them – Inbound Marketing” you might have caught on that SEO and inbound marketing go hand in hand. Using search engine optimization increases a sites’ ability to be found, or searched, increasing its overall rank. Inbound marketing is attracting potential customers to your page through engaging content. A site can be searched, but not have good content, or a site can have good content, but not be found. They are peanut butter and jelly!

By adding keywords, or simply restructuring a website can make all the difference in showing up in a search. Keywords are essential and the most important for search. When search engines spiders crawl, they organize their findings based on keywords. For example, to find this awesome cat .gif, I searched “cute cat gifs” (originally looking for something cute, but this was way cooler) and the first link that resulted (believe it or not) was cutecatgifs.com!

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Keywords are the “money makers” in search marketing, being able to produce high returns. Though keywords, one can learn about buying behaviors and motivations, which is important to compete in the market. This is also the basis of inbound marketing, getting the customer to find the company. Having an optimal page, with keywords, enables and facilitates users to find websites they potentially didn’t even know existed. (One should have only assumed a web page solely dedicated to cat gifs existed) Here are some keyword tips:

Where to put keywords:

  • Tag in title at least once
  • Prominently near the top of the page
  • 2-3 times in the body of the page
  • URL
  • Alt code of an image
  • Meta description of a tag

Important reminders when using keywords:

  • Relevant to content
  • Specificity = less competition
  • Attract the right audience

When using keywords, keep in mind the 3 main types of search queries. This will help understanding customers problems and help to provide them with answers:

  1. Transactional Queries (Do): making a purchase
  2. Informational Queries (Know): seeking information
  3. Navigation Queries (Go): seeking an online destination

Keywords gone wrong! Jonathan Strickland does a good job explaining black hat SEO techniques in his article “How Search Engine Optimization works,” which are something one should not participate in!

Black Hat SEO techniques:

  • Keyword stuffing: “altering search results by over using keywords on a page.” This can consist of inserting words that are not relevant to a pages’ content.(although this may sound like a good idea, it can hurt  your ranking, or attract the wrong people)
  • Invisible keywords (cloaking): inserting words that aren’t visible to web users, usually because the color of the text matches the background. But since spiders decipher content through HTML, they detect text even if people can’t see it.

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SEO companies track and analyze data in order to continually improve SEO strategies. Keeping track of rankings, referrals, links and keyword searches is how SEO is successful. Moz recommends the following metrics to track:

  1. Search engine share of referring visits
  2. Visits referred by specific search engines
  3. Visits referred by specific search engine teams and phrases
  4. Conversion rate by search query term/phrase
  5. Number of pages receiving at least one visit from search engines

Inbound marketing wouldn’t be possible without search engine marketing. SEO increases the chances for customers to find businesses. Increasing presence and accessibility on the Internet is a good thing. Although you may have implemented these strategies to your page, increasing rank takes time.

dwight clark seo

 

They want you, to want them – Inbound Marketing

Lets face it, marketing has changed. Everyday people see thousands of advertisements whether they are aware of it or not. Marketers are no longer focused on finding you. They want you to want them, they want you to need them, and they want you to find them. The intrusive traditional ways such as cold calling, print advertisements and trade shows, also known as outbound marketing are being replaced. Instead, marketers have made a transition towards inbound marketing, getting you to come to them.

According to Marketo, “at its core, inbound marketing is about creating interesting, informative, and even entertaining content and optimizing and distributing it across online channels so it can be found by – and hopefully engage – prospective buyers.”

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How does inbound marketing work? Hubspot, a leading developer of inbound marketing tools, describes inbound marketing with four marketing actions:

  1. Attract – You need to attract the “ideal customer.” Getting the right traffic is important because your whole business is based around these customers. Important tools:  blogging, social media, keywords, and webpage optimization
  2. Convert – This is where you turn your site visitors into potential leads. Obtaining contact information is crucial, so you need to offer them something of value, such as ebooks, whitepapers or tip sheets. Important tools: calls-to-action, landing pages, forms and contacts
  3. Close – Turn leads into customers. Giving each lead a personalized experience in their lifecycle stage is important. Keep track of which efforts brought the best leads. Important tools: lead scoring, email, marketing automation, closed-loop reporting
  4. Delight – It is important to maintain a relationship with customers even after they make a purchase. To do this you need to provide context – or engaging content to give them the inbound experience. Important tools: smart calls to action, social media, email and marketing automation

hubspot inbound marketing actions

The last step of the four marketing actions is delight. Dharmesh Shah, the chief technology officer and co-founder of Hubspot stated in the “2013 Inbound Keynote,” that the most important goal is customer “delightion.” Strive to give an exceptional buying experience so the customer is more than delighted. This is bigger than customer lifetime value (CLV) because not only does it result with customer loyalty, but it turns the customer into an advocate. Shah stated “the most valuable customers are not those who buy the most, your most valuable customers are those who sell the most.” Customer advocates tell their friends, who tell their friends = free advertisement.

inbound marketing vs outbound marketing

So what are some of the benefits of inbound marketing?

  • Interactive communication
  • Non-intrusive way of getting customers to come to you, therefore making your target market is more easily reached
  • Provided value, entertaining and educating (potential) customers
  • Content can be shared via blogs, third party sites and social media
  • Cost effective (no costs for print or TV ads, internet is viral)
  • Easy to track return on investment (ROI)
  • No blocking techniques (do not call list, spam filters)

Touching back on Hubspot’s “2013 Inbound Keynote,” they introduced three new inbound marketing products.

  1. the Social Inbox
  2. the Content Optimization System
  3. Signals

The Social Inbox

Browsing Twitter feeds for particular subjects is like searching for a needle in a haystack. But with the Social Inbox, Brian Halligan, CEO and co-founder of Hubspot says it’s “all needles, no hay.” The Social Inbox is a new way to personally organize content on social media such as Twitter. Not only does it allow you to filter through specific topics, but it also allows you to differentiate the users who are doing the talking.

How does it do this? Well first, you create a social media stream. You start a new stream, which is designed around three three simple questions

  1. Who do you want to listen to? e.g. leads, customers
  2. What do you want to listen for? e.g. keywords Hubstop & inbound marketing
  3. How do you want to be notified? e.g. email vs. app

This is beneficial because it let’s you get to know the customer on another level, allowing you to give them the best inbound experience possible.  Regular websites, and social media can’t tell the difference in their visitors or the devices they are using to access them.

The Content Optimization System (COS)

This may sound familiar, but what you’re probably thinking is CMS (content management system). These are different! A typical CMS system in Halligan’s words “turns your brochure into a website or online presence.” In this case, when a visitor visits the page, they get experience A. When a lead visits the page, the get experience A. And when a customer visits the page, they get experience A. It provides the same experience to everyone.

The content optimization system on the other hand, tailors content to specific people. The goal is to give people the best experience possible by understanding their relationship and the device they are using. COS allows companies to provide custom home pages for visitors, leads and customers, and personalize it by adding different tags such as their name and company. This gives visitors experience A, leads with experience B, and customers with experience C. This adds to the inbound experience, and benefits your company.

Signals

Signals in a new innovative technology that works inside of other applications. It gives you real-time notifications, providing better communication with leads and customers. It is similar to the Facebook messaging feature where you can see if the recipient has read the message or not, combined with the subscribe feature of being notified when someone posts a new status.

With Signals, you can “watch” new leads on platforms such as their LinkedIn. You will be notified if any changes are made to their page, and if you send them a message, you can see if they have read it, or have clicked on any links. Sales people struggle with following-up with customers and potential clients. With Signals, there is no mistake of forgetting to follow-up and no need to spam, it makes communication more efficient and effective.

These products were very interesting to learn about, because they are very interactive, and almost invasive. The word invasive might be too strong of a word, but the amount of information that can be yielded off of Internet tracking is unbelievable. I thought the tools were very innovative, and spins off of existing technology used throughout social media (in some aspects), but it will be interesting to see how crucial they become for businesses.


To reiterate, inbound marketing “helps potential customers find your company – often before they are even looking to make a purchase – and then turns that early awareness into brand preference and, ultimately, into leads and revenue.” (Marketo)

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