search engine optimization – Socialmedia.biz http://socialmedia.biz Social media business strategies blog Fri, 29 Dec 2017 08:16:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The more the messier for search success http://socialmedia.biz/2016/12/01/the-more-the-messier-for-search-success/ Thu, 01 Dec 2016 15:48:56 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=28851 Continue reading ]]> redbullhorn Chris AbrahamYou need to spend only 20% of the time you do on your content marketing and marketing SEO than you’re doing — at least for now. Be quick, be messy, be pedestrian, maybe even turn off your Grammatik and your Autocorrect. Churn out five-times the amount of content you’ve been writing then hit publish and walk away for a couple days. Then, feel free to get all anal retentive on your content — but only with the stuff you plan to add to your portfolio. Leave everything else as close to as-is as possible. Please.

America voted Donald J. Trump 45th president of the United States.  To many, Trump’s campaign was a mess — but it worked because it spoke directly to so many people right under our nose and in their own language. Away from school marms and hall monitors. For better for worse, the internet reflects the way people search and write and speak when they’re on their own, away from the grammar police and your thesis advisor.

When I was recruited into the elite digital team at Edelman Public Affairs, they made me take a grammar test. It was an HR requirement even though I was brought on board by an EVP. To this day, our reports, our memoranda, even our emails need to reflect exceptional professionalism.

Unfortunately, all this esprit de corps is mostly wasted in your pursuit of search engine optimization (SEO) ranking and in your content marketing campaigns. Trump speaks at a 6th grade level, and should we all.  In fact, weren’t we all trained to aim at the 6th or 7th grade Flesch–Kincaid readability?

As I have said many times before, Google is mostly literal. Google is not your book editor or your doctoral advisor, Google is your everyman. Google is mostly populist. Actually Google is whatever and whomever you want Google to be; however, when it comes to money, you’re more likely to get 20,000 nickels than one thousand-dollar bill. Everyman is where it’s at.

When I wrote for AdAge, back in the day, circa 2008-2009, they did the most delightful thing, though I don’t know how SEO-aware or SEO-focused they were about this. They published whatever I wrote for them immediately upon receipt and then, a couple-days, if not a week later, they went back and put it through the full archive, for perpetuity, let’s not embarrass the Advertising Age reputation, editing.

I always knew that my work would enter the world fully-flawed just like me. With the kind of mistakes that everyone, including me, makes all the time, especially during search. The genius of letting a few days go by before the first deep editing is that all the mistakes, all the informality, and the colloquialisms of we the rabble, pre-spit-polishing and detailing.

And then Google gets in there, indexes, and maybe gets lazy, doesn’t come back in a couple-few days later, doesn’t care too much about the diff between initial draft written by a PR and marketing professional. The final article worthy of consideration is restored to a perfection there never was, by a hyper-vigilant school marm cum hall monitor cum editor.

In my previous life, I used to be a professional film photographer. 35mm slides through Nikon bodies and Nikkor glass. The creative process only took up 20% of my time while developing, sleeving, editing, sorting, labeling, logging, packing, mailing, marketing, selling, and waiting took the other 80%. No, I am not missing a piece. Since I was a slide shooter, I rarely spent too much time in Photoshop doing post-production. I only had light, film, glass, and filter.  Someone else did their magic in the darkroom or on a Macintosh Quadra 950.

Same with blogging or any other type of creative behavior. When I was shooting, I was giving 100% but it was still only 20% of the work required to deliver a finished product to the client.

I have upwards of 100,000 slides in archival sleeves in my storage area — but only 4,000 have made me any money and only 400 of those slides made my portfolio: 20 sleeves of 20 slides per.

But back in the day, all 100,000 of those images sat in tall steel file cabinets at Corbis (née The Stock Market) and Pacific Stock, filed away and indexed.   While only 4,000 made me royalties and only 400 made me money, 100,000 were always in play.

While only 4% of all my work was considered profitable — and that’s high — nobody ever knew which 4%.  And though only .4% ever made it into my portfolio, 250x that had potential.

I want you to write at least five times as much content as you are. Blog content, not ephemeral tweets or facebooks.

Populism 2017 — stop trying to appeal to your Headmaster or the Yale Law Journal, the future’s in that other bubble, a bubble where your choice of words and how you write them color your writing as much as does the content.

Each and every telegraphist has his or her own unique style and pattern when transmitting a message, called their “fist,” identifiable to other telegraphers. The same can be said about your and your words and your writing. Allow your content to become as unique in style and pattern as possible. Your flaws will become your own personal style and you will actually begin to attract people who are outside of Phi Beta Kappa and the National Honor Society — were they ever your perfect customers in the first place?

Via Biznology

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Promote your book with influencer marketing http://socialmedia.biz/2015/05/04/promote-your-book-with-influencer-marketing/ http://socialmedia.biz/2015/05/04/promote-your-book-with-influencer-marketing/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 09:45:09 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=28033 Continue reading ]]> ‘Never forget that every profile, website & blog represents a person, a soul, an ego & a heart’

Target audience: Marketing professionals, authors, self-publishers, PR pros, brand managers, SEO specialists, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Moran_3E_COVER-230x300Chris AbrahamAfew days ago at GroupHigh’s Outreach Marketing Virtual Summit I gave a presentation on how to promote your book (or your client’s book) by engaging online influencers. And I cited six books that I’ve promoted over the past couple of years on behalf of their authors: Glock and Law of the Jungle by Paul M. Barrett; Search Engine Marketing, Inc., by Mike Moran and Bill Hunt; Mindful Work by David Gelles; and The Creator’s Code by Amy Wilkinson.

The most important part of the premise of this entire presentation is that I have never been retained by a publisher, only by authors who have taken it upon themselves to span the marketing gap in the absence of serious marketing efforts by their publishing houses. They all took responsibility for the success of their books online with online influencers.

Remember, publishing isn’t the same animal it was even 10 to 20 years ago:

  • The publishing industry has changed in the last decade
  • With eBooks, self-publishing, and a decrease in traditional book reading, the margins on all but the top-sellers is paper thin
  • First-time and niche authors have much less support and resources towards book-promotion
  • Mindful Work by David GellesMarketing budgets have been slashed or preserved for top sellers and top earners (that’s assuming you can even get a book deal these days)
  • Unlike advertising or a book tour, there is no barrier to entry to social media
  • Social media enables both intimate one-to-one relationships with online influencers
  • Social also enables access to one-to-many and many-to-many social media shares
  • Influencer marketing allows authors to identify and then engage topically-relevant online influencers and bloggers
  • Time, talent, and treasure are all you need to support your online “shadow” book launch and book tour
  • You can do it on the cheap using just your time and talent or you can subscribe to a dedicated blogger outreach platform like GroupHigh with a little bit of treasure
  • Or, you can open your wallet and either collaborate with an expert or hire a publicist to do the outreach on your behalf (I’m always happy to help)

3 essential rules for social media marketing

While social media marketing lacks formal protocol, there are three essentials:

  • Treat everyone as if they’re a Kardashian: be excited and grateful and don’t take anyone for granted – no matter how little clout (or Klout) — and be willing to lavish time & attention on everyone
  • Be responsive and follow up more than once: “no reply” doesn’t mean “no”
  • Provide an exceptional gift: bloggers love bound galleys, they love hardcover copies drop-shipped. They’ll take paperbacks, some prefer Amazon-compatible downloads – but nobody at all loves a PDF attachment.

The Creator's Code by Amy WilkinsonIn each of the preceding books, each author was willing to lavish as many books, at much attention, and as much time was as required to make a connection and honor each influencer:

  • Paul M. Barrett was willing to brave the gun message boards for Glock.
  • Amy Wilkinson hosted a reddit IAmA question and answer session.
  • Mike Moran & Bill Hunt never met an interview they weren’t willing to take.
  • David Gelles took podcast interviews as readily as NPR interviews.

Why you should reach further than the A-List

  • Top newspapers, journals, celebrity sites, and high-status A-level blogs are highly competitive.
  • Don’t forsake the crème de la crème but don’t only rely on them to fuel your book’s promotion – everyone’s fighting to go to prom with the prom king and prom queen.
  • If you don’t already have a brand, it’s entirely possible to build a powerful brand from the bottom up: blog by blog, influencer by influencer.
  • Social media goes beyond blogs, Facebook, and Twitter – don’t ignore message boards and specialty sites.

Rule #34b – If it exists there is a blog about it.

There’s so much more than mommy bloggers

Law of the Jungle by Paul M. Barrett

  • Paul M. Barrett made best mates with both the pro-gun and anti-gun online – I helped him connect with shooting sport hobbyists on both general sports shooting and Glock-specific message boards for his book Glock.
  • I found David Gelles hundreds of influencers connected with the mindfulness movement, both spiritual and secular.
  • I helped Amy Wilkinson connect with both entrepreneurs and women with the goal of connecting with women entrepreneurs.
  • Mike Moran tapped me to help him and Bill Hunt track down everyone outside of their personal SEO/SEM database of contacts.

Run your campaign on any budget — here are some tools

  • For years, I did all of my blogger outreach campaigns using Excel spreadsheets and then Google Sheets.
  • I discovered bloggers using keywords on Google and blog search engines and tracked engagements on those blasted spreadsheets.
  • You can do it cheap and hard or spend a little money to make it easier.
  • I currently use a combination of Google, SDL (formerly SM2), InkyBee, and GroupHigh to do my blog and blogger research.
  • I use GroupHigh to manage my outreach campaigns, including contacts & follow-ups.

Never forget that every single profile, website, blog, and email address represents a person, a soul, an ego, and a heart. Never lose sight of the fact that you’re reaching out to people and not just reviews, ratings, blog posts, or earned media mentions.

 

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Don’t believe what Google tells you about search http://socialmedia.biz/2014/09/03/dont-believe-what-google-tells-you-about-search/ Wed, 03 Sep 2014 10:55:31 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=27683 Continue reading ]]> liar
Photo by Alan Cleaver on Flickr (CC BY)

How has Google misled us? Let us count the ways!

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Chris AbrahamIf you’ve been listening to Google of late, you’ve heard their spokespersons’ declarations that you should go merrily on your way producing content for your followers while making no attempts to improve your search rankings through explicit means. Focus on what you do best and ignore all that voodoo SEO stuff.

Well.

I’ll probably get some blowback for this, but it’s time to call out Google for its — how shall I put this? — sleight of hand, half-truths and tendency to lie about this.

The following list of Google mistruths have some exceptions and caveats. And, Google does make examples of bad actors, which is all to the good.

But for the vast majority of us Web publishers, bloggers and businesses who just want to create content and have it read, you should frankly ignore what Google has been telling you about backlinks not mattering anymore, SEO not mattering anymore and other misdirections.

Let’s do a rundown of which SEO elements actually still work

How has Google misled us? Let us count the ways! (I’ll list my bona fides below, and I have my own caveat: Google hasn’t said that none of the following is important, but let’s run through all of these SEO elements one by one.)

  • title-tag-google-serp-exampleGood titles are still really very essential – Because Google returns search results based on the sloppy terms you enter into the search field onto a results page that pretty literally just passes your page title through, you had better do a good job of making sure every single page of your site has a very descriptive, accurate, and unique title. That’s all Google has and that’s really all you have when it comes to whether or not someone clicks on your content or not.
  • meta-tagsYou still need to write for robots – Google is smart. It does understand synonyms and can make leaps in logic; however, Google cares more about speed than cleverness. Luckily, there are so many people who pre-prepare everything so perfectly for Google’s thoughtless pass-through that you’ll always lose. Google doesn’t have to think at all because there are enough other sites besides your site that does everything right — such as writing for robots, literally and across a wide diversity of appropriate keyword phrases — that any laziness on your part will be harshly penalized.
  • google-page-speed-serviceSite speed is the most important – Even if you do everything right in preparing your site for a simple Google pass-through, Google will drop you as a top-three result on Organic Search if the pass-off isn’t immediate. So, after you make your site perfectly suited for Google and you’re still sucking wind, try upgrading your server, reducing the number of plugins you use, increasing the aggressiveness of your caching strategy (or, get a caching strategy), consider beefing up your server, putting our database on a separate box, get your ping down by getting closer to the the Internet‘s backbone or have someone optimize your DNS, or look into an Internet content delivery network service provider.
  • google_pagerank10_sitesGoogle is not a thinking thing or thesaurus – As a direct result of Twitter‘s success, Google rightfully feels like its results need to be real-time. In effectively creating an acceptable real time web, Google is generally in a constant feeding frenzy. A lot of cheating happens in this initial couple hours. And Google acts pretty dumb. In its rush to deliver content as it happens, real time, it tends to care more about filling the vacuum of trending breaking news than it cares about verifying. So, while Google does a good job of “trust but verify,” it trusts first. So, it’s still possible, even in 2014, to drive a lot of organic traffic to your site by just trend-surfing, news-surfing, and headline-surfing your content directly to what’s going on right now. You’ll just about always get a crush of traffic if you can be first to press on a big event, disaster, death, or announcement.
  • Even in 2014, you can drive a lot of organic traffic to your site by just trend-surfing, news-surfing and headline-surfing your content directly to current events

    Google is still painfully literal – If you don’t write it, literally, in a literal string, on your site, verbatim, please don’t be surprised if your site doesn’t rank at all in that particular topic.

  • Conspiracies still work on Google Search — As we have learned from Cristina Everett and the New York Daily News, if you can orchestrate a lot of people to write about the same topic or link to and fro or if you can conspire to write about each other or support each other’s content back and forth or even get everyone else in your little cabal to share and mention your posts, blogs, articles, columns, products, press release, announcement, or post, conspiracies of these sorts still work on Google, especially during its super-dumb feeding frenzy real time web “yay, hot donuts” phase.
  • Metatag keywords work – Everyone tells you that the META Keywords tag has been completely deprecated but I don’t buy it, especially on sites that are predominantly visual, graphical, imagistic, photographic, or based on Flash, video, Silverlight, or whatever people use because they’re not smart enough to implement HTML5.
  • meta-descriptionMetatag descriptions are important – This is what Google passes through directly from the pages of your site verbatim to the results in the form of the page description, second only as important as the Title. If you don’t provide a pretty, well-written, useful one, Google will lazily and hastily scrape one up for you, one that will probably suck and might even eventually result in Google deprioritizing your site (because there’s always someone else who will gladly do it right).
  • search-bot-alt-textAlt tags are essential – Google still really can’t do anything with video or images or photos or code blobs unless you describe them or label them textually in a way that Google can read and index. And, if you do a good job of labeling your images, graphics, logos, executables, scripts, documents and PDFs, Google will reward you by showing your photos and videos and images and logos and graphics when people do image or video searches or even inline in regular web searches. If you dominate image and video search in your vertical, it can really help your general ranking everywhere else. So, it’s not even just the ALT tag anymore, there are quite a few ways to use HTML Schema to tell Google what’s going on. Do it! Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, and even Squarespace make it super-easy so you really have no damn excuse! Do it! Do it!
  • Name all your files to be Google-readable — I spoke on this in the previous bullet but instead of leaving your photos and images with their default file names, be it what Adobe named them during some sort of slicing process or whatever your digital camera or phone named it when you uploaded it to your server. Instead of Photo.jpg, name your photo chris-abraham-portrait-black-glasses-black-t-shirt-socialmediabiz.jpg or something like that.
  • Quality-BacklinksBacklinks (still) matter – Reciprocal links, Page Rank, Domain Name age, and Backlinks are the core of Google and they’ll never really get rid of it. It’s their secret sauce and whether they’ve developed a new formulation there is still some sort of Google Rank or Google Klout going on — this Very Big Lie that backlinks no longer matter is the source of this article, Google is a lying liar that lies, as that’s one hell of a Big Lie.
  • Human readable URLs are important – If your content management system (CMS) still gives you URLs that look like www.socialmedia.biz/?p=27642 instead of www.socialmedia.biz/2014/08/20/always-write-for-google-never-for-humans, then you really need to either install a plugin or upgrade your crappy CMS.
  • Google still cares about formatting tags — No matter what anyone says, use the <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <em>, <i>, <b>, <u>, and their HTML5 and CSS equivalents — they add structure and Google hearts structure.
  • Google still indexes every page “separately” – You need to make sure every single one of the pages on your site are optimized. Google indexes by page and not by site. You need to have a separate title, keywords, description, and copy for every page and not just for the site. You need to either do it perfectly for each page or choose an SEO plugin that can do it for you automagically.
  • GoogleAuthor2Google hasn’t given up on Authorship – Even though 70% of all publishers, platforms, sites, papers, bloggers and writers ignored Google Authorship, Google rewards everyone who works happily and merrily toward making Google happy, and they’ll surely find a way to not deprecate the hard work we put into their effing terrible, unpopular, and alienating Google+, Google+ Pages, and Google Authorship.
  • Google kisses Google+ users’ bottoms — Go invest the rest of this week mastering Google+, Google Plus Pages, Google+ Business Pages, and Google+ Communities. Do it!
  • Google cares very much about site architecture – All robots and bots would always prefer structure data to the muddy hell known as whatever we like to read, research, and explore as humans. So, any predictable structure you can design into your site will be surely appreciated by the robots and bots of Google. If you move your site to a popular publishing platform like WordPress or Drupal, you will have invested in a structured platform that Google gets already.
    rss_xml_atom_feeds_news_icon
  • Google still does care about Sitemaps – Google loves structured data and Google loves it when you let it know that your site’s been updated instead of just waiting around until a Spider or Bot comes around.
  • Google still loves RSS and ATOM –  Google loves structured data, remember?
  • Google actually prefers long-form content —  Google indexes about half a megabyte, 520 Kb, per page, so you’re doing yourself a disservice by keeping your pages limited to 100 Kb. And, Bing probably indexes upwards of a megabyte of each page. Each page, that’s right, and not your entire site.

My bona fides, or, do I know what I’m talking about?

Google-Plus-ImageI’ve been producing websites since 1993, submitting sites to directories well before search engines sent out bots and spiders, and tailoring content for Google since late 1998. Soon to be 16 years later, Google hasn’t left behind all of its old tricks — no matter what Google tries to tell you what Google organic search has become circa 2014. When it comes to how things work when it comes to developing a server, site, content, and brand to appeal to Google, Google is a lying liar that lies.

Google can’t afford to leave anyone behind

Every time Google has tried to raise us up and improve us as Internet publishers, they have failed; and, they can’t afford to leave our content or us behind, especially when they so desperately want the entire world to build a mirror copy of In Real Life online and in a form that Google can index and understand. As a result, they need to do the equivalent of making the search algorithm as patient, accepting, compliant, flexible, and empowering as humanely possible, otherwise, the only sites that will every return are sites that are heavily bankrolled. Google might very well be lying to us, but it really does care about the best customer service experience humanly possible. And, in service of that, Google has and will continue to turn the other cheek while at the same time telling us exactly the opposite.

And, if you want to read a lot more about this subject, I wrote a much longer-form version over on the Biznology blog.

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Always write for Google, never for humans http://socialmedia.biz/2014/08/20/always-write-for-google-never-for-humans/ Wed, 20 Aug 2014 12:02:46 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=27642 Continue reading ]]> google-bot
Google bot image by Jeff Lowe (CC BY SA)

To be found online, create headlines & leads with the all-powerful Google bot in mind

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Chris AbrahamWhen it comes to dominating search, especially when it comes to blogging and publishing, you need to always write your headlines and copy first for Google, then for people. Humans (and their flexible brains) are forgiving when it comes to reading stilted, “robotic,” keyword-explicit headlines and articles, but Google is not when you don’t.

You always need to write the copy — the exact phrases — that you believe people will most likely use to find what they’re looking for — that’s who you’re writing for. It’s true, no matter what anyone says — even at Google HQ! The title is the most important but so is the first paragraph, especially if you can insert that copy into your Description Meta Tag and your Keywords Meta Tag headers. It just makes sense, especially with breaking news, when you’re proffering content that Google will not have the time to ruminate and deeply examine before they need to include it in the real time web where it will show up in search.

Google can’t resist hot donuts

As I have said before over the years, Google can’t resist fresh hot donuts. They just eat ‘em up. When there’s breaking news, Google is just passing stuff along, and the timelier the better. If you can get the keywords right and be the first to market (first post!), then you can take the headlines away from even the biggest players — at least at first, and especially if there’s a little orchestration.

Learn from Cristina Everett’s leaked memo

cristinaEverettCase in point, Cristina Everett‘s memo to her Web editors at the New York Daily News last week.

This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Online Reputation Management (ORM) converge. It’s where I live. I had a big pitch the other day in New York, so I rode my motorcycle up and back. On the way home I played through my Stitcher queue. Halfway through New Jersey Le Show came on. You’ll know Le Show from its host, Harry Shearer. In every show, he reads through the week’s trade publications and then features a segment called “I’m Sorry” in which he reads through the last week’s formal apologies.

On Aug. 12, New York Daily News editor Cristina Everett wrote a memo to her writers thanking them for the awesome work they’ve done getting and keeping their stories about the death of Robin Williams written by New York Daily News at the very top of organic search:

From: Everett, Cristina
Date: August 12, 2014 at 5:33:00 PM EDT
To: WebEditors
Subject: ENTERTAINMENT handoff!
NOTES ON ROBIN WILLIAMS STORIES/HEDES!!
Thank you to everyone who did a great story [sic] with keeping our stories SEO strong with the * Robin Williams dead at 63 * header for the first 24 hours. Starting tomorrow morning, we can scale back on the robot talk (meaning no death header) just as long as the stories continue to *start* with his full name and include buzzy search words like *death, dead, suicide, etc.*

Behind every successful publication there’s a Cristine Everett

christinaEverettGooglePlusCristina Everett may well be judged guilty in the court of industry and public opinion, but she’s feeling the heat from above, isn’t she? Journalism is becoming a kill or be killed blood sport. She is probably being pressured by her bosses about click-throughs, ad revenue, performance, and all that — and she’s dealing with dinosaurs, also known as reporters, and those trilobites known as copy editors — professionals who only receive awards when they write carefully turned prose, not when they write the perfect Google-bait, search-bait, link-bait.

Cristina Everett will not get fired. She’s a star. She delivers the goods! She’s able to get her writers in line with both the stick and the carrot. She was able to get her Web team to write quickly, efficiently, and on-point, leveraging a global event, a beloved and universally adored actor, and a tragic loss to bring a heap of traffic, attention, and ad revenue to wee little New York Daily News, broadsheet tabloid gossip mag. Bringing vast attention, traffic, and notoriety — even if it’s negative — is ultimately good for the paper.

Robin Williams dead at 63

Were it not for the news story behind the memo, we would never have had the opportunity to see the truth behind the story: even in the post-keyword and post-link-juice, post-page rank era of Google algorithm updates Hummingbird, Panda, and Penguin, one must always write for keywords, always write for Google — especially for Google News, Yahoo! News, AOL News, and Bing News! It works!

Robin Williams Dead At 63

Pros like to make SEO way more complicated than it is

Write every single line, from your headline to your closing line with Google in mind. No matter how stilted your copy might be for the careful reader, you’ll never ever get read if you don’t end up in the first-5 search results on the first page of Google search — or Bing, Yahoo!, AOL, Facebook, whatever. Your article will never go viral, it’ll never be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, reddit, or even on Google+.

So, go forth and optimize. And don’t feel embarrassed in the least.

H/T to Attorney Shawn Sukumar.

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Why Google Plus is more like a forum than a social network http://socialmedia.biz/2014/07/23/why-google-plus-is-more-like-a-forum-than-a-social-network/ http://socialmedia.biz/2014/07/23/why-google-plus-is-more-like-a-forum-than-a-social-network/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:02:38 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=27537 Continue reading ]]> Five-things-Google-Plus-changed-in-our-world
A Google+ affirmation graphic.

Tips on what works and doesn’t work on G+

This is the second of a three-part series on Google Plus. Also see:
Hey Google! Here’s why Google+ is still a ghost town
Why Google Plus is the antisocial network

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Chris AbrahamIt occurred to me, after spending a week deep-diving into Google+, that Plus is not a social network — or even a social layer. It’s a global reboot of the message board.

If you want to succeed, you need to forget about your friends and your family. Leave them behind. There are cooler, smarter, funnier people on Google+ than we have in our own lives now.

Hello to birds of a feather

It’s not where you connect with people you know, it’s where you find birds of a feather. It’s where you can find better. It’s a bona fide online community along the lines of The WELL, Slashdot, and Reddit more than it’s like LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Facebook.

When I join a forum, I don’t expect all my friends to be there already. I don’t expect brands to be there. I go there because that’s where the experts are. When I go to the ADV RiderMotobrick, or BMW MOA forums, I don’t expect to see my cousin Joe or my high school sweetheart.

But, I do expect to meet folks who know much more about motorcycles than I do. Folks who’ve already sorted out oil changes, what to pack on an around-the-world expedition on a bike — all of that. I expect to enter a different world entirely. That’s apparently how Google+ is set up. Why bring the mundane people of your life with you?  Start anew with the smartest, most creative, most interesting folks that the entire Google Globe can offer.

How to be a Google+ success

plusBarStep one: Join Google+ (you probably already have one or more account on Google+ already that you may have checked out once, three years ago — it’s still there). Just go to your Gmail account — I know you already have one of these — and click either on the little white Rubik’s Cube or on the little bell (with the red circle with numbers over it).

Step two: Forgo any and all other social media platforms. Leave your other online homes and commit to G+ — even though none of your clients want to use it.

cDarlStep three: Start following some of the people whom Google recommends you to follow. Add them to your circles. But be sure you’re smart with your circles. Start slowly. Look, listen, then start +1ing the content you like. Realize that, on Google+, you can actually engage with everyone and anyone you meet. It’s not ageist, it’s not sexist, it cares nothing about caste, celebrity, success, or education (well, that’s not entirely true. Google Plus is a meritocracy, as are all online communities. Forget about “don’t be evil,” — don’t be stupid!)

Step four: Keep on adding people to your circles who you find interesting or compelling. Spend more time engaging in comments and +1ing for a couple of weeks until you get a feel for the community and people start getting to know you. I call it the “goldfish in the bag” time — where you’re in the fish tank but you’re still in the water in the clear plastic bag you were sold in in order to acclimate to the water temperature and your surroundings before you really commit to moving in.

cDalrStep five: Start posting your own content. Be sure that you share other people’s content as well. It’s not about dropping links from your own articles. It’s sort of like Reddit or Wikipedia in that respect. If your content isn’t good enough for other people to share onto Google+, it probably isn’t good enough (that really stung to realize, personally).

Step Ssx: Rinse and repeat, every day.

Good news & bad news

Despite Google’s overtures, I missed the fact that none of my friends were there — or, they were there but not participating. Brands generally weren’t there, friends weren’t there, and even people who are, aren’t there very long.

While people generally like what they see on first blush, they eventually leave the empty austerity of Plus to return to the messy excitement of Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Reddit. And, at the end of the day, I just kept engaged with Plus because I was afraid not to: I do Search Engine Optimization, Online Reputation Management, and endlessly promote my own writing and content, so I just assumed that posting onto G+ regularly would in some way curry favor with the Google Gods.

The good news: Google+ is probably one of the smartest, interesting, intelligent, interested, and compelling virtual online communities ever created.  G+ is a worthy inheritor of Real Name communities like The WELL, The Meta Network, EchoNYC, and even USENET. The conversation — both the initial posts as well as the commentary — is longer-form and can thread down into infinity. The people are loyal, devoted — often zealous — and are as likely to be photographers, educators, writers, physicists, philosophers, and artists as they are celebrities or featured guests. The people who live on Google+ are in love and cannot even consider spending their time, energy, and limited free time anywhere else.

dMacThe bad news: what I said in my last post is still true: If you’re just casually interested in making a virtual online community home on Google Plus, you’re still screwed. I was told, again and again, that if I had spent three years in the desolate wilderness of Google+, desperately holding on and sending out my weak olly olly oxen free in the form of posting, sharing, and dropping articles I had written, then I was doing it wrong. That I hadn’t wanted it enough. That I was to blame. That if I had really wanted to be a joiner, I would have. That my shitty experience on Plus is all me and had nothing at all to do with the social network — sorry, social layer — at all.

On Google+ I feel a little like Frankenstein’s monster

I’m in trouble. There’s a posse out to lynch me because of what I’ve been reporting about Google+: it’s a ghost town! It’s a spam box! The only reason to be there is to curry favor with Google for organic SEO benefit. I feel terrible, too, because there’s apparently very passionate members of this community, too. Folks who are not merely passionate about Google+ but simply devoted. Committed. To the exclusion of all others.

dStudAll I know is that I have been a member of Google+ from the very beginning — for very close to the entire three years it’s been nothing but a ghost town for me. Simply an elaborate connective tissue stitching together all of Google’s more compelling properties like Search, Picasa, Hangouts, and YouTube.

Well, my initial experience with the Google+ mob is that they’re committed to blaming the victim: me and all the folks who are unwilling to negotiate the initial desolation of the initial G+ experience we’ve all experienced as default Google+ members. We’re all Google+ members, right, just because we’ve all got Gmail accounts. Just by the virtue of that common thread, the designers of Google Plus should have “dumbed down” Plus in order to encourage everyone and anyone who has a Google webmail account to also have at least a brilliant kiddie pool experience with G+ as well — even if requires water-wings and a watchful parent nearby.

My friend BL Ochman loves Google+ and believes me wrong about everything. I agree that Google+ is pretty great, theoretically, sure — and the tools are gorgeous and shiny — but even BL sees little worth, especially in her most recent article, Dear Google: You are doing a terrible job of explaining Google+. It sounds like she’s worried.

Do you use Google Plus? If so, why?

So let me ask you: do you use Google+? Do you or your company have Google+ Business Pages. Do you have a community on Google+? And, if so, how often do you visit? How much time have you committed? How long did it take you to become a bona fine Plusser?

I found the Google+ affirmation graphic on Google Plus (at top), and it really makes me want to find a home there.

When I read through this list I feel pretty bad about spending the last three years dropping links and Facebook content into Plus as an afterthought. Sort of writing compulsory checks to my church instead of believing in God. Just because, that’s what you gotta do.  Maybe I have been mistaken. Probably.

This proves that everyone on Google Plus think they’ve invented the virtual online community. Not Lisa Kimball or Scott Burns and TMN.com or Howard Rheingold and The WELL. It’s sweet, actually. Just like when millennials act like they’ve discovered the orgasm or something sweet like that.

I’ll stop giving Plussers any more grief. It’s just evangelical zeal. The passion and obsession of the newlyconverted. It’s actually lovely. Hopeful. It just means that persistent and intimate community online is not a vestige of the past but something that’ll persist into the future.

On the other hand, one of the nicest things about my online message boards and forums about motorcycles that I frequent is that there are posted FAQs, pinned suggestions, rules of the (forum) road, and also a bunch of old timers, moderators, admins, high-post-counters, and other fanatics who have taken it upon themselves to take me under their wings, facilitate my experience, and encourage me to come back and have a fulfilling time.

My organic experience with Google+ has been more sink or swim. More pass or fail. And, that’s the missing piece.

(H/T to Attorney Jason Kalafat for his support in developing this page)

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Why promoting a brand takes perseverance http://socialmedia.biz/2014/03/26/why-promoting-a-brand-takes-perseverance/ Wed, 26 Mar 2014 12:01:42 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=27204 Continue reading ]]> persistence

Target audience: Marketing professionals, PR pros, brand managers, SEO specialists, businesses.

Chris AbrahamIf you want to be heard above the din of the Internet, you need to speak clearly and with persistence. It’s not uncommon for someone at a loud bar not to hear you the first time, or even twice. If you assume someone isn’t interested in getting to know you better just because they don’t hear you the first or second time, then you’re doomed. The Internet is the busiest, loudest, most distracting place ever created. It’s global and impersonal and often anonymous. Plus, there’s no accountability.

At least in a bar, you can sit right next to the someone you want to meet and then just bide your time until there’s a lull in the noise or you can catch an eye. The Internet’s just not like that. Social media is loud and tends to be an insider’s club. We resonate with people we already know, be it in our in-boxes, our rivers of news, or our walls, we tend to tune out unknowns. And, in social media marketing, most of us are unknowns, most brands are unknown, and most services, too.

not_your_type_mainIn order to score the digits in content marketing, you need three things: confidence, conviction, and stay-with-it-ness. One of the reasons why people are so coy online when it comes to engaging folks online about brands, promotions, events, products, and services is because they feel like they’re in some way doing something that’s dodgy. That selling is an ignoble pursuit. That what you’re doing – engaging people online in order to have them read, share, write, review, and buy – is sleazy and that what you’re pushing is snake oil.

When singles talk about being attracted to confidence, what they’re saying is that they’re attracted to transparency and authenticity. Confidence conveys a deep belief that what you’re pitching has integrity, be it yourself, when it comes to the art of seduction, or your brand, when it comes to the art of content marketing. Like the dweeb approaching the supermodel, it’s not that nice guys finish last, it’s that folks who don’t really believe they belong doing what they’re doing, pitching what they’re pitching, saying what they’re saying, and being what they purport to be, finish last.

women-in-bar-rejecting-a-manWhat separates winning content marketing campaigns from the losers? Persistence. From my experience, too many new media marketing campaigns lack bravery, boldness, confidence, and persistence. They do the messaging equivalent of “ahem, excuse me, if you would be so kind, ahem, I don’t mean to bother you or anything, ahem” rather than “hello, my name is Chris Abraham, damned glad to meet you.”

It’s understandable, really. Brands are afraid of the online world, especially earned media, where anything that a brand says and does can be used against it. So, over time, shell-shocked from seeing everyone around them being shot down and rejected; and, after repeatedly being warned by the media and by social media gurus as to how much of a mine field blogger outreach is, once-bitten, twice shy.

If you want to be successful in search marketing, earned media marketing, and content marketing, you’ll need to reach out not once, twice, but three times. We have learned this from direct mail and email marketing, especially when it came to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaigns: if you’re aggressive and email your core demographic repeatedly, you may make a few enemies and suffer a few humiliations – but you’ll probably also raise

Earn that respect a little bit at a time

170100012_homeAccording to Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post, “3 million donors made a total of 6.5 million donations online adding up to more than $500 million. Of those 6.5 million donations, 6 million were in increments of $100 or less. The average online donation was $80, and the average Obama donor gave more than once.” Also, according to Joshua Green in his Bloomberg Business Week article, The Science Behind Those Obama Campaign E-Mails, “Most of the $690 million Obama raised online came from fundraising e-mails.”

It’s true. Bloggers are generally more libertarian rugged individualist than sycophantic people pleasers. And, most brands aren’t used to being challenged. “How dare they, those pissants, they’re merely bloggers.” I personally thought that this belief perished by 2010; however, the fear, indignity, and confusion persists. What it’s turned into in many ways, is the world of sponsored posts, native advertising, and guest blogging schemes. These are considered much safer as these bloggers are surely sycophantic people pleasers and are much more predictable than bloggers and journalists who may be willing to be engaged by you, informed by you, and then converted by you to become bona fide brand ambassadors through earned respect.

Go well beyond the A-listers

When it comes to my strategy for blogger outreach, I am committed to reach out to as many bloggers as possible, from the rarefied air the A-listers and celebrities breathe all the way down the long tail to the hobbyists, the passion-players, and committed content nerds and geeks. What I do is collect lists of thousand of bloggers who meet a minimum requirement for interest in whatever I am promoting.

When I promoted Mizuno running shoes, my minimum requirement was that the blogger had, at some point, discussed running, jogging, fitness, or getting in shape. Very broad. This resulted in 100 A-list bloggers, all of whom my associate, Sally Falkow, and I engaged by hand; and then around eight-thousand bloggers who received a mail-merge-personalized email offering them first access to Mizuno’s Mezamashii project as well as lots of opportunities to test Mizuno shoes, to be considered for Mizuno sponsorship, and to be taken into the Mizuno communications and marketing fold. In many ways, it was a corporate olly-olly-oxen-free; and, it was an easy sell: top-quality product, sleeper brand, and who doesn’t like to try out new shoes, eh? It was funny, though, as many of the A-listers were already contractually sponsored by other shoe brands. It was the long tail that really paid off as many of them “had never been kissed” before by brands, though they all winsomely hoped that some day their prince would come, bearing cool shoes and athletic gear for them to try out and review. And, for many of them that day had come.

Even with the deck stacked, we still needed to be persistent. Upon receipt of the first email offer pitch, many of the bloggers assumed it was spam. It rang the “too good to be true” and “who, me?” buttons. It wasn’t until the second outreach when a flood of responses came in with, “yes, please.” And, to make sure we had herded all of the strays, we did a final outreach, a third, to make certain every one of those 8,000 bloggers had an opportunity for first refusal. Mizuno earned hundreds of earned-media-mentions and thousands of registrations for their Mezamashii Running Community – and all of that activation in the space of four weeks.

In the Internet age, it’s no longer enough to be the best looking or most interesting, you really must be the most brave. You need to get your pretty self up off of that bar stool and get right over and start meeting people. The world has become flat, thanks to the Internet, and if you just wait until your Prince Charming comes to you on his palomino horse, then you’ll really only get what you get, and that might be nothing.

(Special Thanks to DC Robbery Lawyer Jason Kalafat for his contributions to this site)

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Burnish your brand’s reputation, don’t ‘manage’ it http://socialmedia.biz/2013/10/23/burnish-your-brands-reputation-dont-manage-it/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/10/23/burnish-your-brands-reputation-dont-manage-it/#comments Wed, 23 Oct 2013 12:00:55 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=26272 Continue reading ]]> reputation

Reputation management is not about dressing up mistakes

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Chris AbrahamIf you want to fix your online reputation, writing big checks to an online reputation agency isn’t enough over the long haul — you’ll also really need to get your own house in order.

Most online reputation management (ORM) agencies can easily take back all the land you’ve ceded to negative reviews, rigorous and vigorous besmirchment, and terrible happenstance; however, this is all assuming you’ve been done wrong.

I call this scenario “the clean.” The crime scene may well be bloody and I may well need to don a Hazmat suit, fill my bucket with Clorox bleach, and get scrubbing with my stiff brush until the apartment is again rentable. The crime is over, it’s unlikely to repeat, and my job is just to restore the scene to normal.

If, on the other hand, you’re a bastard who had deep contempt for the morons you serve, allow your resentment at their stupidity come off you like waves of heat and believe that the customer is always wrong and that all your products and services are pearls to swine, then, yikes! This happens all the time. So, instead of passionately working hard to service customers and clients with kindness, super-service, innovation, convenience and value, they just assume that good enough is good enough.

When it’s cheaper to hire PR pros than to change the culture

This happens the most with monopolies and essential services. We all know their names. And, they’re often lambasted, drawn and quartered. While the fact that most of their clients and customers are being held hostage keeps these companies complacent when it comes to very expensive revisions in process, quality, and service, they’re not stupid. It’s cheaper to hire an army of crisis communicators, PR agencies, ad men, and online reputation managers than it is to turn a Comcast into a Zappos — at least for a while, that is, and especially when you still represent a monopoly. Online reputation management does work, but it’s an endless game of whack-a-mole.

I call this scenario “repair and repeat.” My analogy here is war. Some neighborhoods in Israel are the victims of chronic rocket attacks. Israel’s smart: they realize that if they allow these neighborhoods to look war-torn then settlers will never move there, will never stay there.

They have dedicated teams to come in, immediately after every attack, and quickly mend the damage, be it structural or cosmetic, from panes of glass to entire rebuilds — all in the service of making sure that people in these neighborhoods feel like they have a semblance of peace and security, even though they’re living a life or Russian roulette. This is very similar to doing online reputation management for a company that has decided to spend all their money on PR, ORM, publicity, and advertising without making sure it integrates with actual services, quality, customer care, and the ability to deliver on what was and is promised in those ads, PR, and publicity.

It’s putting lipstick on a pig.

Yes, maybe some accountants ran the numbers and decided that it would be cheaper to repair settlements than to make peace in the Middle East. Maybe some bean counters decided that the amount of money resulting from settling on a number of deaths associated with a flawed automobile is less money than a recall. Maybe it’s easier to care in public and on social than it is to really give a damn because you’re pretty much the only game in town. Yes, sometimes the numbers don’t lie and yet you do the right thing anyway.

And now, maybe it will be worth it, even to the bean counters.

While the Internet is nothing new and we have been talking about the customers taking over the conversation that used to be controlled only by Madison Avenue since 1999′sCluetrain Manifesto, it really wasn’t until Google went from playing catch-up and appeasing a corporate culture that liked to play Internet- and search-stupid (“we didn’t mean to do anything terrible! what’s ‘black hat?’ — my search guy said it was kosher”).

Now, as I have been saying week after week, Google’s refining and constricting and honing its search, relying less and less on a link-based algorithm that’s been around and mostly unmolested since Sept. 4, 1998, and more on how content, information, sharing, clicking, viewing, and authorship relates to social networks, news and content platform, blogs and social platforms, and Google+. And while Google has been twice-bitten and thrice shy, continually always loosening the noose again and again, they’re now taking two steps forward and only relinquishing one.

Online reputation can’t be managed on its own

The rope is tightening, so lazy SEO and online reputation management agencies are not only becoming less effective but they’re losing entire first and second pages that they had previously held for — and promised — their clients (though we online reputation management agencies are amazingly good at promising nothing as we know how unpredictable, mysterious, and fickle Google has been every step of every day of the last 15 years). And when you’ve paid $30k/month for years to an agency that has promised to turn a bloody disaster back into a pristine property, it doesn’t matter what the contract promises to not promise, I am sure clients can become quite irate.

Why am I discussing this again? Well, there’s a story behind it.

I am up in New York, and while up here, I connected with Peter Shankman and we met last Saturday at the Union Square Farmers Market. When I arrived, I also got to meet both Peter’s lovely baby daughter as well as Bob Knorpp, host of The BeanCast Marketing Podcast.

Remember, Google needs to pay attention to the needs of its users, who mostly enter short, cryptic phrases into search fields

As we walked among the heirloom tomatoes, organic kale, and plump fuzzy peaches, we discussed online reputation management, both in the context of hyper-active social media customer support and in the context of more traditional ORM strategies when it comes to search results, review sites, and online discussion.

We all agreed on two things: 1) online reputation management is essential and powerful and 2) it doesn’t work over the long term on its own.

While online reputation management can work using brute force and infinite resources (think $30k+/month ad, infinitum), there will be a point of diminishing returns as Google normalizes the online reputation management campaign and the newest, freshest, and most relevant real, organic, authentic, and popular content will bubble to the top, especially as Google gets better and better at connecting organic social sharing with authorship, timeliness (real-time webbiness) and popularity into not just a contributing factor of Google’s search algorithm but the dominant source for emergent news and relevant content.

Remember, at the end of the day, Google needs to read the minds of the people who visit — based mostly on cryptic phrases written by normal folks and not by Boolean ninjas fresh from their degrees in library science.

And since Peter Shankman is the author of Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over–and Collaboration Is In and Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World, I was preaching to the choir and gathering insights at the same time.

In the end, a tarnished reputation may not be your customers’ fault

If you’ve simply been besmirched, write a check to me. If, on the other hand, your corporate culture is circa 1953 in 2013 and you feel like the customer is mostly wrong, you’re cutting essential services to maximize shareholder value and you honestly believe that huge retainers to Edelman, Hill & Knowlton, and Ketchum is enough cover fire to allow you to behave badly, then think again.

While writing huge checks to an online reputation management agency is an essential first step towardsreclaiming your good name on Google search, if your company is being chronically pulled through the mud, you feel like you need to blame your customers for being idiots, you find your good self mocked and derided on Twitter, there’s an unflattering hashtag about you, and you’re a trending topic when it comes to suck, the evidence does not support that it’s your customers’ fault.

I recommend buying Peter Shankman’s book and then calling Pam Teagarden for advice on how to reboot your company from being insufferably entitled to being unendingly grateful. While it might seem impossible to revise your corporate culture in such a revolutionary way, evolution takes too long.

Good luck. And, if you’ve read this far, I hate to break it to you this way: It’s not us, it’s you.

(Disclosure: I am a former employee of Reputation.com and they continue to sponsor my work.)

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7 strategies for succeeding in the new Google Search http://socialmedia.biz/2013/09/26/strategies-for-succeeding-in-the-new-google-search/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/09/26/strategies-for-succeeding-in-the-new-google-search/#comments Thu, 26 Sep 2013 12:02:25 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=26075 Continue reading ]]> search
Image by Fairfax County on Flickr

Changes in search results require changes in content & marketing strategies

This is the second of a two-part series on Google Search. Also see:
Content strategies to deal with Google Panda & Google Penguin

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR professionals, mobile strategists, businesses, nonprofits, Google Plus users.

Chris AbrahamAcouple years ago, search engine optimization (SEO) held a lot of secrets. But that’s not quite as true today.

To a large extent, SEO today has become a war between Google’s vision of what quality and valuable search results should look like — and the rewards conferred to anyone who can just produce content that meets those stringent standards — and an entire industry that is committed to finding every shortcut and loophole possible and systematically exploiting those loopholes for as long as possible until they’re closed. The entire SEO industry has been almost entirely fueled by exploiting shortcuts, loopholes, link syndicates, link conspiracies, strategic linking, shadow linking, and shadow content. And it’s mostly worked, too, until recently. Until Google really started rolling out Panda and Penguin algorithms, as I wrote about Monday.

Google’s algorithm is more than just links, robots and spiders. It includes an army of thousands of human reviewers and members of the social media attention economy

Google has been tightening and closing as many loopholes as it can get away with. In the past, Google has treated the cancer of link spamming and black hat SEO with very broad treatments, similar to radiation or chemotherapy, that would harm way too many honest citizens to make it worth the number of black hat SEO practitioners knocked off.

Now, however, Google’s algorithm has become much smarter than just links, robots, and spiders. It includes an army of well-trained, savvy, human reviewers (10,000 as of 2007, surely legion by now), as well as us, the greater Internet, who are part of a very active social media attention economy. From legions of active Google-paid reviewers to a billion passive reviewers who create very useful patterns, Google can now recognize all of that in real time and then test to check to see if various memes, virals, videos, and popular content are propagating for real or as a result of a promotional command and control structure aimed at gaming search for fun and profit.

You’d best be newsworthy, interesting, social — and more

Google used to be easy to fool because every time it tried to shut down SEO hijinks, it would also shut down thousands and millions of amateurs who are just doing dumb things with their own fully legitimate websites. That’s partially because amateurs just do dumb stuff when they’re learning, partially because gray- and black-hat SEO consultants are everywhere and are giving bad advance to just about anyone, and finally because most Online Reputation Management and SEO professionals have mastered the art of making content that is pitch perfect as-good-as-but-no-better-than beginning blogs, sites, journals, and social media profiles. If you can’t hide your (hundreds of) spam sites in plain sight, then you’ve failed.

Even Google’s human ninja reviewers often get fooled. However, they’re never fooled by cheap, half-assed, good-enough SEO strategies that had worked until recently, as I said. So, what to do, now that Google’s being cruel and is no longer rattling sabers but taking very powerful people’s corporate sites’ heads off? And I am not joking, there are some sites that make hundreds of millions of dollars a year that have been relegated to bankruptcy based on some decisions, over time, that some SEO consultant or another was able to sell them and implement.

Here are the answers to all your prayers — 7 strategies for succeeding in the new Google Search:

1Be newsworthy: any earned media outreach or social media propagation campaign needs real legs and being timely and newsworthy is essential — just like any PR or promotional campaign. This will mean you’ll need to become way more strategic and need to spend more money on talent than on technology. Do you have something to announce? No? Well, can you do something announce-worthy, newsworthy, that you can then ride? It’ll take time, creativity, and cost some money; that said, it’ll all be worth it if you can break into all the noise and reach through all those deaf ears and touch people in a profound enough way that they help you move your brand forward. If you can do that, the links will count and so will the tweets and Likes. When the social media sphere and the blogosphere actually end up opting-in, it’s legit and passes Google’s Turing test.

2Be interesting: You don’t need to be newsworthy if you can be interesting. The Internet is rife with people laughing at their own jokes. Compelling personalities with good senses of story, humor, narrative, and charm are very rare. I dare you to be interesting. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

3Be social: Even if you’re boring, you can still be social. Some people are artists, some people are art critics, and other people are curators. If you can’t be the interesting artist, you can instead be the acerbic art critic or the curator that digs through the online mediasphere finding other people’s art and getting recognition for it. Either way, be social, be engaging, and be online. Grow your online influence (it is easier if you’re newsworthy or interesting, surely, but it’s not essential) and you, too, can encourage coverage and pass Google’s Turing test with the power of earned media and engagement.

4Be better: If you suck or if you’ve sucked in the past, you can always crow about your getting better. Sort of like a fat me bragging about all the weight I am losing, all the weight I am lifting, and all the miles I am riding and running. So, work on getting better — but don’t do it in a vacuum, do it out loud and let everyone know. But, don’t fake it. Why? Well, Yelp! for one.

5Be funny: If you choose this one, don’t rely on your own perception of your ability to be funny. Also, don’t ask people you pay, they’ll laugh at anything you say. If you want to know if you’re funny, ask people you know from high school or college. Actually, if you’re really funny — like witty, insightful, and laugh-out-loud funny, you’d probably know already. You’re probably already known for it. if not, is there anyone else in your office who’s a laugh riot?

6Be compelling: Camp counselors don’t have to be talented, funny, or interesting, they just need to know how to make amazing experiences happen through some sort of compelling nature. Being compelling means that you can create an environment that is safe, generative, nurturing, and structured — can you be a compelling social media camp counselor? Can you become the man or woman who make Prom happen instead of needing to become the King, Queen, or the Band?

7Be committed: Even if you’re a real dud, you can win the war by just creating content, engaging online, blogging, tweeting, engaging, socializing, connecting, Liking, retweeting, sharing, and then doing this from now and then forever — if you can commit to creating a little content every day, connect with other people in your space a little every week, and to willfully and with purpose making sure you get invited to all the coolest parties — even if you’re not cool and have nothing to wear — then you, too, can benefit from the new Google.

Shortcuts and loopholes won’t cut cut it — hard, obsessive work will

The long and short of it is that you’ll need to become your own newsroom, creating content and newsworthiness and interest, all on your own. You’ll need to then push that content out, share that content out, engage with influencers online, see if they may well be interested on knowing more about your newsworthy news, your interesting self or content, asking them for their help in getting the word, and then following up with them a couple times to make sure they do what they said they’d do — and not because they were BSing you but because everyone’s too busy, distracted, and behind to do anything anyone says they will — unless you hold their feet to the fire.

So, goodbye shortcuts. Aloha loopholes. Now, you’ll have to buy a few more hats for your job: PR hat, entertainer hat, comedian hat, writer hat, social media geek hat, party planner hat, camp-counselor hat, and any other hat that encourages others to engage with you more, to share of you more, and even write about you more — and as long as they get the link right, it doesn’t really matter what they say about you, mostly.

Good luck. Please let me know if you’d like me to break things down more. You need to become obsessed about this stuff — or find one or more people in or close to your organization who can be. It’s a must.

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WordPress SEO plugins to boost your search results http://socialmedia.biz/2013/06/19/wordpress-seo-plugins-to-boost-your-search-results/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/06/19/wordpress-seo-plugins-to-boost-your-search-results/#comments Wed, 19 Jun 2013 10:01:34 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25223 Continue reading ]]> wordpress

Yoast, All in One, W3 Total Cache: Which is right for your business?

Guest post by Angie Picardo

Angie-PicardoWordPress is more than just a blogging platform. It can also be used as your content management system. Of course, part of managing content is ensuring that your site stands out and can be found among the millions of sites on the Web. One of the main tools for marketing to the right people is search engine optimization (SEO), or how to rank higher in Google’s search results.

SEO plugins are ready-made widgets that can be plugged in to your WordPress site to do lots of cool stuff. Plugins are modules of code that can easily be added to an existing WordPress site. The majority of plugins are free, but some do have a price, which goes to subsidizing their development. SEO plugins are useful for small businesses because they help business owners and bloggers understand what kind of keywords are producing results. These plugins can help in analyzing how users find your site. The information they provide can also help users make their sites more visible in search engines.

It can be tough to navigate all of the available plugins for search engine optimization, especially because SEO is a rapidly developing field, so Socialmedia.biz has gathered some of the most worthwhile WordPress SEO plugins below. It should be noted that there are several options for plugins and you should only install one depending upon your business or personal needs.

WordPress SEO by Yoast

SEO by Yoast

1Yoast SEO offers some awesome functionality for users. It is currently compatible with WordPress from 3.3 to 3.5.1 and was just updated a month ago. At 4.7 million downloads and an average rating of 4.7 out of 5, it can certainly be classified as an extremely popular plugin. Yoast SEO allows users to see a rendering of how posts will look when they show up in search results, including the post title and meta description. These features allow users to adjust their titles and descriptions to so that they make sense for the contexts in which they appear.

This plugin also offers page analysis, which checks for things users might forget like whether images have alt tags that contain keywords or if meaningful subheadings are present. Another great feature is XML sitemaps, which automatically generates an XML sitemap and notifies search engines of the site map’s existence. This is especially useful for larger sites. Finally, SEO Yoast has a number of other features like RSS optimization, breadcrumbs, the ability to edit the .htaccess and robots.txt files, social integration, and import and export functionality.

All in One SEO Pack

SEO Pack

2All in One SEO offers, as you might expect, a little bit (OK, a lot) of everything. This plugin is compatible with WordPress versions 3.3 to 3.5.1 and was last updated this month. It has over 14.3 million downloads and an average rating of 3.8 out of 5. It is available for free, but there is also a pro version available for $39 (plus a monthly subscription fee). This is the most downloaded SEO plugin on WordPress.

The All in One SEO Pack offers support for Google Analytics, Custom Post Types, Advanced Canonical URL, fine tuning of navigational links, a built-in API to work with other plugins and theme, and Nonce Security. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to know all these terms.) This is the only plugin that provides complete SEO integration for e-commerce sites based on WordPress, and it supports content management system-style WordPress installations. Finally, the great thing about All in One SEO Pack is that it has whatever level of customizability that users want. Beginners can automate everything, while advanced users can tweak all the features to their liking.

W3 Total Cache

W3

3This plugin will do search engine optimization one better; it describes itself as offering Web Performance Optimization (WPO) instead, which uses caching to provide better support. It is also the only WPO framework currently available on WordPress. Like the previous plugins, this one is quite popular, coming in at 2.1 million downloads and a rating of 4.6 out of 5. It is compatible with WordPress from 3.2 to 3.5.1.

W3 Total Cache’s main benefit is that it increases server performance, which reduces download times. When the plugin is fully configured, W3 Total Cache promises to deliver at least a 10x speed improvement. W3 Total Cache’s improved conversion rates affect Google rankings, and thus lead to high search rankings. It uses an optimized process to render pages, which causes them to load extremely fast.

This plugin also has lots of cool features. It is compatible with shared hosting, including VPNs and dedicated services. It has mobile support. The plugin caches pages and posts, CSS, JavaScript, feeds, search results, and database objects, all of which keep pages loading quickly. Along with caching, it offers the minifcation of posts, pages, feeds, embedded or 3rd part JavaScript or CSS. Overall, this plugin is a great way to speed up your site and improve user experience.

Whether you prefer overall functionality, a little bit of everything, or something focused on server performance, these plugins are definitely worth a try.

Which SEO plugin do you use, and how are you liking it?

Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a firm in San Francisco. Her mission is to help consumers stay financially savvy and save some money with the best CD interest rates.
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Don’t overlook LinkedIn in building your new business http://socialmedia.biz/2013/05/09/use-linkedin-to-build-your-new-business/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/05/09/use-linkedin-to-build-your-new-business/#comments Thu, 09 May 2013 12:11:29 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=24873 Continue reading ]]> LInkedInSS

9 ways to leverage the power of LinkedIn

Guest post by Cara Aley

caraaleyThe right digital marketing strategy is important for every new business. Many new business owners focus their efforts mostly on Facebook and Twitter and overlook how useful LinkedIn can be in the launch and building of awareness for their businesses.

Below you’ll find multiple ways in which you can use this powerful networking website to help successfully promote your new business.

Create a profile for better SEO

Create profile

1LinkedIn is one of the more search engine optimized websites. Simply creating a profile on LinkedIn for your business will ensure that it is pretty quickly one of the first links people will see when they search for your business (this is good for both SEO and reputation management, pushing other links down further in search results).

In creating your profile on LinkedIn, you can provide a company description, a separate product description page, and other links (including one to your website). Use keywords in your company and product descriptions to ensure SEO opportunities.

Let recommendations speak for you

2Ask people to recommend your product or service. On the Products page (or Services if that is what you provide), ask people to recommend you. If you are launching a social enterprise, people will more than likely be happy to share their positive feedback about the good you are doing. Not only will the networks of those recommending you see this (the viral effect at work), but so will those visiting your company profile on LinkedIn.

Your employees are your ambassadors

3Have your employees indicate their work for your company on their profiles. Both you and your employees should be sure to indicate that you work for the company in your LinkedIn profiles. This will increase the exposure of the company – as your connections see you and employees “joining” the company, many will naturally be curious to review the company profile.

Share company news

4Post to the feed as your company to promote your business. LinkedIn has a feed just like Twitter and Facebook. Take this opportunity to post to the feed and share news about your business, relevant industry news, and product or service updates. Anyone connected to your business may see this and share it via Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. Ask your employees to do just that!

Promote your business personally

5You can do this as can your employees – share information about your business launching, point to your company’s profile on LinkedIn, and ask people to share the great news about your launch!

Connect with other professionals

6Make sure your company network is strong. Connect with relevant professionals who support what you are doing and whose networks could be of value to you. When these individuals connect with you, it will be apparent to their own networks, who might show interest.

Join relevant groups

7Joining groups that are related to social enterprise and your specific area of focus winds up being a great way to create an awareness of your company, and to connect with relevant individuals and businesses.

Post jobs

Post Jobs - LinkedIn

8Have job openings? LinkedIn is a great place to find candidates and create awareness of your business by posting job opportunities. Showing that you are hiring is a very positive sign for the growth of your business – people will be impressed to see this. You will likely make many new, relevant connections simply in the posting of a job opportunity.

Post a video

9This is another great way to create awareness for what your business is doing, enhance your profile, and provide something that others can share that could go viral. Utilize testimonials from customers and people you are helping with your business. Take the time to share why you are doing what you are doing, and the social good that will come of it.

In short, LinkedIn should not be underestimated for the incredible power it holds in helping to launch your new business. People will expect that you have a profile on LinkedIn at a minimum – but there is an incredible amount of power in leveraging LinkedIn from a promotional standpoint.

How has LinkedIn helped you with your business development and marketing efforts? We want to hear!

Cara Aley is a freelance writer who covers a wide variety of topics from financial topics for Billfloat to Facebook marketing tips for entrepreneurs.
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