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Is it a business directory? Is it a business networking site? Is it an overzealous hybrid destined to over-extend itself and die on the vine? For our purposes today we’ll refer to them as “biz sites” and it can’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the wide range that are available. They’re free to use, easy to sign up for and potentially helpful to your company or agency in a wide variety of ways you may not have realized.

Although LinkedIn and Plaxo have an imposing headlock on the B2B and B2C business networking space, there are a lot of others jockeying for position whom you likely haven’t even heard of – let alone begun to utilize. Although taking the time to register your own company or that of a client on these “2nd-tier” networks probably won’t result in the flood of direct traffic, leads or new contacts that the major players may have driven – there are still very tangible and numerous benefits to taking the time to build yourself a presence on each. These are listed in no particular order as I recommend them all as part of any comprehensive ORM or SEO effort:

Social Networking Sites for Business

  1. My Cubicle Space: Their stated mission is to provide a search engine platform where any business can promote their product or service in a creative way to the fore front for millions of people. Free to use and includes press release submission, blog and keyword targeting capabilities. HQ: Watertown, MA.
  2. Ryze: Members get a free networking-oriented home page and can send messages to other members. They can also join special networks related to their industry, interests or location. The local features are particularly impressive and should be perfect for businesses with physical store locations or service areas. Both free and paid options exist. HQ: San Francisco, CA.
  3. Ziggs: A definite fore-runner of the emerging LinkedIn competition, Ziggs allows you to build a profile, network, post jobs and other classifieds and is strongly marketed as an online brand management resource. HQ: Boston, MA.
  4. Naymz: Naymz’s solid tagline “Empowering Reputable Professionals” relays their understanding of ORM’s massive importance. If you maintain a decent “rep score”, based in large on how many people you get to vouch for you and therefore refer to the site, they will create a Google ad for you with a budget of $10. HQ: Chicago, IL.
  5. FastPitch: Billed as a “professional social network”, Fast Pitch has added an impressive amount of useful features during their short existence including a press release submission option, blogs, event calendars a helpful tour, some early integration with other social networks and the ability to see a list of other online members. HQ: Sarasota, FL
  6. Spoke: I like the fact that Spoke features rotating member profiles on their home page. They heavily tout the lead-generation potential of their network as a strength, possibly making it more apt to attract those with B2C lead generation as opposed to networking priorities. HQ: San Mateo, CA
  7. Zoom Info: One of the more established sites on this list, Zoom Info has been around since 1999 and according to the home page has over 42 million people and 3 million companies as part of their database. The site is clearly defined for three specific purposes: searching for people, searching for companies and searching for a job. Personal profiles are free to create and company profiles are apparently coming soon. HQ: Waltham, MA.
  8. Konnects: No identity crisis here. Konnects is a B2B networking site with a very human-oriented feel. Lots of headshots, rotating newest member list on the homepage and a big focus placed on physical events. Free to sign up and you can request via email a “group” for your organization which I am assuming means an eventual quote on a branded community. HQ: Tacoma, WA.
  9. Upperz: The “social network site for professional use” has a long way to go before nipping away at anyone else’s market share, but the latest member blog postings and media gallery featured on the front page are a bit of differentiation. A serious lack of company (I can’t tell for the life of me where they are head quartered) or feature information puts Upperz on my “maybe someday when I have a lot more free time” list.
  10. Direct Matches: It sounds and frankly looks a lot like a dating site, but Direct Matches is aimed at business people. Their mission states that they are the first site to “deploy a multi-matchmaking system that helps people locate everything from business contacts to finding friendship and dates online”. I spoke too soon. Perhaps they are over-reaching but the dating angle is certainly unique – and potentially the basis for an equally unique sexual harassment suit. HQ:
  11. Xing: The “first Web 2.0 site to go public” definintely looks the part. The clean design, mobile capabilities and numerous mentions in top trade publications make it 2.0 all the way. Purporting to transcend all countries, languages and industries – Xing is definitely a must for professionals who do a lot of business internationally. HQ: Hamburg, GER.

Business Networking Sites for Direct Traffic
How many of today’s most successful web entities started in a dorm room? What is small time today might be huge tomorrow and even if you don’t start immediately having your door beaten down by contacts and customers who find you via Zing – you never know. It’s also important to take into consideration where some of the new or lesser business networking sites may have a strong foothold internationally. Even if a given biz site is only big in Asia it’s still going to provide you with a brand new link. Considering the supplemental benefits we’re discussing today I believe they are worthwhile if well designed and well intentioned – regardless of a site’s current popularity.

Business Sites for Search Engine Optimization
Unless you’ve been exiled to Siberia for the last two years you know that building one-way, incoming links to your website is an enormously important facet of SEO. All of the aforementioned sites allow you various levels of link inclusion. Some limit you to a URL, some automatically link the URL with the company name you input and others allow for the embedding of links in HTML-friendly summary sections allowing you to craft the hyperlink text to your target keyword specifications. A few hours spent creating presences on all of the aforementioned sites is going to be of better SEO value than a week of submissions to crummy “directories”.

Business Sites for Online Reputation Management
On many of the sites I list below you can get your company or personal name into the URL, header tag, title tag or a combination. As these three elements are held in very high regard by search engine algorithms, biz sites can be tremendously helpful for online brand reputation management. If someone Googles the name of your company, for example, and finds your dedicated page on Spoke – that could mean a negative blog post from a critical customer being pushed down to the second page of the search results for a potential one.

Do you use a similar biz site that hasn’t made our list? Am I using terminology or descriptions that can be tightened up (one of the things that perplexes me about this space is how to properly categorize the different sites)? Do you represent one of the sites listed and want to provide a little more info? Please let me know and we’ll keep this post evolving. Get networking/SEOing/Reputation defending and I look forward to your additions and comments.

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I begrudgingly began using Twitter over a year ago as it had emerged as a social media juggernaut and it behooved me to get myself up to speed, as that’s kinda what I sorta do for a living. My adoption was slow at best and up until last week I was probably logging in and pretending to “get it” about once a week. Well, a couple of days ago I truly “got it” and I really wish more of my personal friends and colleagues were using it – hence this post.

twhirl

If you have a Twitter account, even one that is gathering dust, please feel free to add, follow and interact with me. We didn’t have to go to high school together – you can just be a fan of the blog, a creepy ex-girlfriend, a creditor, etc: Pyeman73. My Narcissism is rampant but not fussy.

The other reason I have warmed up is my discovery (via a friend’s tweet, no less) of a great application called TWhirl, which makes using Twitter about 3 times as fast and easy as it used to be. It runs quietly in your taskbar, alerts you to new tweets via a subtle pop-up and opens with a click any time you wish to contribute. You can also cross-populate Pownce and Jaiku (two other popular Twitter-esque sites) automatically. If you currently have no clue as to what I’m talking about please be patient and read on. If I’d had Twitter laid out for me like this a year ago I might have taken it to heart straight away.

What Twitter Isn’t

  • An instant messenger.
  • An RSS feed.
  • A blog.

What Twitter Is

  • A social media messenger: You are sending a “tweet” to a large group of people all at once in real time, as opposed to just one other person.
  • An RSS feed “on steroids“: as I’ve seen it described. A traditional RSS feed keeps you updated whenever the blog of a friend, foe, peer or other person of note is updated without you having to visit 72 blogs via your bookmarks every hour on the hour. It could be said that Twitter updates you on the “thoughts” of those same people in real time.
  • A micro-blog: Watch as people update you throughout the day as the mood strikes them as opposed to a traditional blog that might creak into action 3 times a week. The 140 character-limit per tweet keeps the lines from becoming blurred on this point.
  • A micro-distribution list: Instead of spending a half hour setting up and sending a mass email linking to your latest baby pictures on Flickr, send a tweet and all your best buddies will see it right away. Twitter automatically shortens URLs so that they don’t take up too much of your 140 character limit. On second thought, just don’t send me the baby pictures, full stop.

Practical Twitter Uses

  • Groveling: Ask a question of your professional peers, who are also Twitter addicts, and get thousands of dollars of consulting advice for free and almost instantaneously. Obviously this does not apply to every single industry. I haven’t seen to many ball-scratching construction foremen wearing “I’m Tweeting” t-shirts, for example.
  • News: Information spreads like wildfire on Twitter, and if you’re following industry peers or thought leaders – you’re often getting it from the horse’s mouth.
  • Whoring: Encouraging acquaintances to vote for or “Digg” your blog posts, articles, press releases, etc. Don’t send out annoying pop-up IMs one at a time to 30 people – send out one tweet. If they want to ignore it, they can. Entirely unoffensive.
  • The Liquor: Where are you and your co-workers or friends going for drinks tonight? It’s Thirsty Thursday, after all. This use isn’t quite as important as the first three examples, but most of the social media mavens I know are also pissheads. Hyperlinks respectfully forgone.

Are You Gonna Tweet All Day Little Birdie?

Twitter is the water cooler of 2008. I forget where I saw it, but I’m sure I didn’t coin that phrase. To help you visualize that statement here are a collection of real tweets I have received this week:

  • “Is anyone else excited for the new episode of The Office tonight?” – From a friend of mine who wants to have John Krasinski’s baby, or at least some of his DNA on her chin. It was accompanied by a link to a plot summary she had found.
  • “New blog post on how to start and spread rumors.” – From an industry peer of mine who likes to send out a tweet to all of his friends whenever he posts a new article on his blog. Many of them would eventually read the article anyway, but Twitter allows you to self promote and get info in front of eyeballs instantaneously.
  • “Best Damn Tech Show, Period. films tonight, DM if you are in the Philly area and want to hang out!” – DM stands for “direct message” and this podcaster is using members of his audience following him on Twitter to announce an episode taping. In the process, he is likely going to strengthen his brand, attract some new followers and eventually gain listeners.
  • “There’s a giant lake monster attacking the Ottawa suburbs and everyone must evacuate immediately!” – As Twitter officially launched in October 2006 I don’t think anyone’s had the opportunity to utilize it as a distant early warning system… yet. Why is my glass of water rippling? OH JESUS NO…. (flatline).

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SEOs: 3 Ways to Communicate in 2008!

Although that sounds like a disingenuous campaign slogan, let me assure you that I like to keep my political opinions to myself. C2K8 is the proper abbreviation (which I just made up) for said slogan and it stems from some hard lessons my department and I have taken to heart over the past year. Search marketing is going to change dramatically in the months ahead, with an economic downturn predicted along with the usual evolutionary nature of the profession, and increasing communication with clients is a non-negotiable goal I am implementing to get my team ready.

There’s no cookie-cutter method for managing and communicating with your clients. Some folks will only want to hear from you once a month when you deliver their 30-day ranking report. Others will want to be involved in each and every step of their search engine marketing campaign. Flexibility is important – if you try and put the square peg of a client who likes to stay informed into the round hole of one who likes you to work autonomously – you’re going to have one less client on your roster pretty darn quickly. The best strategy is to risk over communicating, if that is at all possible, because you’re far more likely to run into trouble for not being transparent enough than for providing too much information.

Communication, however, can be a double-edged sword. Beware of billing clients for frivilous work or contact. If you initiate a half-hour phone conversation about your son’s little league team, that can be a great way to forge a relationship and earn their confidence. If you then charge them for that friendly chat – not at all cool. Likewise, if you burn through 2 hours of their monthly budget preparing a report they didn’t ask for, which they don’t see value in, you’re going to have an issue again. Pick your battles and don’t waste your non-billable time, or their money, unless everyone is on the same page and feeling verbose.

Here are a few simple ways in which you can open the lines between your team and your clients without the risk of either side not making the best use of their valuable time:

1. Go to the Phones: Some people like to work predominantly via email while others prefer conducting their business over the phone. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but one is not better than the other and it is foolish to try and impose your personal preference onto your clients. That having been said, it’s hard to go wrong by picking up the phone and making an unscheduled call. Even is you get your client’s voicemail they’ll still appreciate you reaching out and checking in on them.

2. Traditional Greetings: Have you had your client for a full year? Did they recently achieve a critical keyword ranking victory or sales goal thanks to your SEO efforts? Did they get married, have a baby or move to a new city? Gift baskets, greeting cards and other simple gestures are easy to organize and worth far more in terms of goodwill than any money you’ve spent. There are many web 2.0 services which make sending gifts and keeping track of important dates a piece of birthday cake.

3. Welcome Them to Your World: Most SEOs have their heads buried in industry blogs for a good hour of every work day. If you don’t, your skill set is in danger of dying on the vine. When you see a search marketing-related post that applies to a specific client’s products, services or predicament – forward it to them with a short, analytical note. Not only are you finding a quick excuse to say hello, you’re letting them know that you’re “on the case” and researching ways to help them.

All the advice I can give, and the daily communication reminders I give myself, can be boiled down into one crucial word: proactivity. Find reasons to reach out to your clients – on even just a weekly basis – and you’ll quickly find that managing them, their campaigns and their expectations will be infinitely more efficient and enjoyable for you both.

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I Dig the SEODigger

Once in a blue moon, an SEO-related tool comes along that really stands out from the pack. It’s easy enough to parse and filter data in a variety of ways via an API – but is the resulting mashup tangibly useful in any way, shape or form? Is it making your life easier by providing an innovative and time-saving tool or are the developers just showing off and completely missing the point? Usually, as I’m sure you know by now, it is the latter that ends up cluttering your inbox and RSS feed. But not today.

SEO ToolI was recently introduced to a new tool out of Russia called SEODigger via the always bleeding-edge, Brendan Picha. The tool builds a reverse index of keywords that you may have no idea your site is currently ranking for. Combining Google, Overture’s old volume tool and Wordtracker – the results are clean, practical and easily exportable into .CSV. Not to mention you don’t even have to register, let alone pay, to use it. I would recommend joining the community however as membership has is privileges in the form of more queries allowed per hour. A query history page is also provided which allows you to log back in a week later and re-run previously generated projects with just a click of the mouse.

In addition to the comprehensive list of word that you’re showing up for in Google, the outputted reports contain additional useful information like the actual SERP position and separated volume results from WordTracker and Overture. It is also possible to filter the search between an individual page and an entire domain up to a ranking depth of the top 20 results for a given keyword or phrase. How are all SEODigger’s gold nuggets helpful to an individual SEO or Search Marketing agency? The answer to that question is not entirely clear to me yet, however I have been making a list of potential client-facing applications, and checking it twice. ‘Tis the season, afterall.

  • In the same query you can identify keywords you didn’t know you were ranking for that actually have significant volume. Finding these less and less common ‘sweet spots’ has never been easier.
  • Keyword research has a tendency to drop off after the first few months of an SEO effort, and Digger is a simple and easily shared way to breathe new life into your list of MVKs. And if your client never knows that you weren’t specifically targeting the high volume keyword you’ve suddenly discovered their site ranks well for – it won’t hurt them.
  • A lot of this info is easily discernible from analyzing server logs, But if you’re ranked #19 as opposed to #1 for a high volume, relevant keyword you won’t be getting a fraction of the potential traffic. Your already existing and considerable traction for that valuable term may never become apparent. With the data you get from SEODigger, you can quickly identify these easily attainable SERP wins and get onsite or offsite targeted optimization into the project plan and underway in a fraction of the time you may have noticed the opportunity otherwise.

I invite readers to help me add to this collection of reverse-index uses, and correct me if a better tool to this end currently exists. In the meantime, many kudos to Aramis and the entire SEOQuake team behind this useful new SEO tool, and I hope you find it as helpful as I have. Get digging!

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WordPress and Facebook, Sittin’ in a Tree

Adopting a new Web 2.0 user-generated content site or social network is a scary premise. We all have our personal favorites and with so many new contenders being introduced on a daily basis it’s nearly impossible to get noticed above the ruckus. If you don’t believe me, subscribe to the Mashable RSS feed for a couple of days and just try to keep up with it. So, short of coming up with an incredibly unique and mind-blowing idea it’s a good plan to make sure your new entity is compatible with established big wigs. In fact, making sure other applications can integrate with yours is a good rule of thumb no matter what level of popularity you’ve achieved. APIs and development platforms have created the current era of the mashup (web application hybrid) and with so many great marriages even at this early stage – it’s a wonderful sight to behold.

I am a big Facebook user and WordPress devotee, so I have been pleased to see the two behemoths playing so nice together recently. It keeps one from having to undertake the time-consuming process of updating certain aspects of their web presence from scratch in multiple locations. Although I love keeping in touch with friends via FB, I also spend a lot of time maintaining my personal blog and in terms of updates, photos and other snippets of content there is a lot of potentially redundant overlap between the two. Here are a few of the tools I use to cross-pollinate the two worlds in the best interests of protecting my fragile sanity.

  • Import Facebook “note” comments into WordPress: If you syndicate your blog into your Facebook profile via RSS, as a great many of us do, your FB friends are able to leave comments on each and every “note” (as the posts are called once they are imported). Having two sets of comments for the exact same post is a little silly on the best of days. This WP plugin pulls comments out of FB notes and adds them to your real blog, to sit seamlessly beside those that have been left on the original post, on a post-by-post basis.
  • Integrate your WordPress hosted blog into Facebook: I don’t actually use this plugin myself, as I do not host my blog with WordPress, but for those that do it’s definitely an impressive mash. It’s more of a two-way street than many of the apps, with benefits to populating both platforms. Publish posts, bookmark, check stats and more.
  • Insert Facebook photos into WordPress posts: This is the first of two very useful photo-related plugins. Additions to your ‘write’ dashboard after activation allow you to browse your Facebook gallery remotely and add thumbnails or larger sized photos directly to whatever post you happen to be writing. Hopefully the author will update it soon because judging from the comments it isn’t working with the most recent versions of WP. Somebody please pick up this ball and run with it – it’s almost, almost an awesome plugin.
  • Migrate entire Facebook gallery into WordPress: This is an exceptional plugin, written by Aaron Harp, that allows you to incorporate your entire Facebook gallery – lock, stock and barrel – into a static WordPress page of your choice. You can also update exported galleries as you make additions to the parent FB gallery whenever you want – with the touch of one button off the ‘manage’ tab. I am surprised that this plugin hasn’t caught on at a larger scale, and I encourage Aaron to keep developing similar items as he’s obviously darn good at it.

If you know of a worthwhile WP / FB application that I haven’t listed here, please let me know and perhaps I’ll write a Valentine for it too. Or better yet, write your own. To date there aren’t very many of them and you could earn yourself some considerable notoriety should you so desire. How about a WP plugin that displays your FB “status” in your sidebar? Or a way to improve on and customize the FB sidebar badges they provide with information from specific apps you have installed (Flixster, Bookshelf, etc.)? The possibilities aren’t endless, but they’re out there. Get mashin’!

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Looking for SEO Pros in Ottawa

As much as I love telecommuting, there’s no complete substitution for collaborating in person – or at least having the option to drive less than 8 hours for a team meeting. I find myself in need of additional resources, and I am going to start the search in my own backyard. I’ll phrase this in the form of a razzle-dazzle monster listing and we’ll take it from there…

Are you a “nights and weekend” SEO looking to get into the exciting world of online marketing full time? Would you like to join an accomplished and experienced search marketing firm who can benefit from your existing skill set whilst improving it dramatically?

… and the usual nonsense you’ve read a million times, elsewhere. But seriously folks, if you are an experienced search marketing pro looking for a team, or hoping to supplement the income you make off your own related efforts, please say hello. Likewise, if you’ve yet to dabble in SEO but want to learn and are already in possession of above-average writing skills, say hello.

SEO in late 2007 is more about creativity and quality content generation and less about knowing where to stick the right keyword into a piece of HTML. If you’re hungry, literate and have a wild imagination – I’m willing to take on the less experienced in addition to the Gurus. I’ll need a few of both. We pay well, have many high-profile clients, are perfectly sane (which always helps) and we get results. One more time for the cheap seats – say hello and let’s just do the thing.

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Press Release Schizophrenia

We have 12 vacancies. 12 cabins, 12 vacancies.” – Norman Bates

Folks will never tire of telling you how beneficial press releases are to search engine optimization, but can rarely recite the minutiae as to exactly why. It’s also important to understand the double-duty press releases can play in supplementing your online marketing efforts as a whole – SEO being only one facet of a comprehensive strategy. I thought about the potential confusion earlier this morning as I wrote some material for our sales monkeys. I’ve edited it a bit, and now – perhaps – it will give you a leg up. PRs are indeed great for boosting SERP rankings if you know what you’re doing, but that’s not the only traffic benefit they can provide on the interwebnets.

Press releases have two major benefits in regards to SEM (Search Engine Marketing). The first is direct traffic generated upon publishing. This traffic is a considerable spike which trails off after a while. All of the best PR networks allow you to target your release to some degree – be it geographically or topic/industry specific. It is possible to tailor submissions to these networks carefully and with the site’s target audience in mind. These releases can also be also tagged, re-purposed on the website (in a blog or news section) and submitted to dozens of social media outlets – depending on obvious variables like topic, mass appeal, etc. A press release about a new vacuum cleaner attachment isn’t going to attract as much direct attention as say a release about a corporate merger.

The second benefit is long-term and ongoing. Most PR networks allow you to tailor at least one link back to your site. The text contained in an HTML hyperlink is a major factor which search engine algorithms consider when associating a site with a specific keyword or phrase. For example, if a site wished to rank well for the term “discount DVDs”, you would link that phrase back in a subtle manner within the body of the press release. As the release is picked up by major networks like PR.com you will generally see a large boost in the SERPs (search engine results pages) for the targeted term. Over time, this press release will very likely be syndicated across a wide variety of websites, all with unique IP addresses, and usually with the hyperlink intact. So, although you pay $200 to submit the release to PR.com, in reality the value has the potential to eventually quadruple depending on the same variables I mentioned earlier.

Mental illness is nothing to poke fun at and that’s not what I’m here for. Press releases can, however, be likened to a split personality in the way they can provide so much visibility value when used effectively and by companies that know what they’re doing. One personality is loud and brash and wants to get picked up by Google news for a quick traffic fix and followed by obscurity. The other wants to quietly lurk in the background and percolate over time. Is this a good or responsible analogy? It’s accurate at any rate. Now if you’ll excuse me, my mother is calling.

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Fisher Price: My First Link

Arranging reciprocal link partnerships with other websites used to be an extremely effective tool for bolstering your organic search engine rankings. As webmasters figure out how to manipulate algorithms, however, those algorithms will inevitably be updated by the powers that be. Currently, search engine algorithms give far more credence to one-way incoming links, and the art of facilitating these is commonly referred to as link building. Link building methods are extremely diverse, and the term should only be considered as an umbrella over a variety of specific strategies, including:

  1. Paid links: Links can be purchased through link brokers or manually sought out one at a time by webmasters or web marketers. Brokers will provide you with a network of sites to choose from whereby you can customize the ever-important anchor text and select publishers relevant to your subject matter for a monthly fee. Doing it the old fashioned way is a long process, involving many emails or phone calls to prospective publishers, but may ultimately lead to the best value.
  2. Link baiting: Writing original, catchy content and submitting it to news sites and social media sites has become a popular way of garnering one way incoming links, and is commonly referred to as “link baiting”. Particularly effective are “how-to” articles, top 10 lists and video clip collections. The catchier the title, the better. Should you strike gold by becoming the next viral marketing darling, the huge number of links you’ll receive from other sites, blogs and news sites will be priceless.
  3. Topic and content networks: Sites like Squidoo, HubPages and WetPaint can be categorized in a number of ways – content site, social media, etc. – but one thing is for sure – they are free and easy ways to create links pointing back to your website. If, for example, your website sells cell phones, you can build a resource lens about your company or a relevant topic and link using your choice of anchor text. The more your lens, hub or canvas is perceived as being an objective resource, the more traffic and incoming links it will get from other members of the network and people who stumble across it via search engines, passing the “link juice” on to your main site.

These points are a high-level starting point, but specific examples help paint a good link building picture for the uninitiated. Simply put, high quality and original content, coupled with a base knowledge of the emerging social media and voting sites that have been rushing onto the scene, can do wonders encouraging the outside world to link to you. Build it, and they will not come. Build it and make it helpful or entertaining enough to the right person – and they will gladly link to you in a heartbeat.

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Frequently Updated Content is King

Blog this, and blog that. You’re sick of hearing the word. You’ve met 7-year-old kids who have told you your company needs a blog. What the heck are they, exactly – and why do they make a difference to your marketing mix?

At its simplest definition, a blog is little more than an easily update able, content management system (CMS). At it’s most effective, it gives individuals and groups the ability to become authorities in their chosen field. Coupled with a service or retail based website, an objective and original blog of quality can drive scores of relevant visitors who may then convert to customers, employees or new friends.

But how do blogs relate directly to SEO and SEM in general? The original content your company creates is ideally updated every few days. Indexing spiders are more likely to visit, and look favorably upon, websites that have changed somewhat each and every time they drop in for a visit. This will increase spidering frequency, and also improve your legitimacy in the eyes of the major algorithms. Not to mention all of the unsolicited incoming links that objective resources effortlessly attract.

Make it good and make it frequent. Add good, niche subject matter and the rest just may take care of itself. Alternately, you can always go back to knitting dog sweaters.

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Does PPC Frighten You? It Should

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is undoubtedly the fastest way to get your products or services in front of your target market via a popular search engine. It is also a great way to waste a staggering amount of money if you’re not very careful. Starting a new PPC campaign from scratch requires planning, market research and a clear set of conversion goals. You have to understand what you’re getting yourself into before funding your first Adwords or YSM account, or you’re definitely flirting with budgetary disaster. Here are a few facts you should keep in mind before deciding PPC is right for your marketing effort.

PPC is very time consuming: Building new accounts, researching keywords and testing ad copy all factor in to the ramp up time – but is there ever a point at which you’re ‘done’? Can occasional maintenance take the place of the undivided attention you were devoting in the early days of a new PPC effort? The short answer is ‘definitely not’. Although it may seem plausible that your campaigns will reach a point where they can be switched on to auto pilot, there are many reasons you should always remain active in their daily management.
PPC is expensive: The amount of money you’re going to have to bid on a given keyword will be directly related to how competitive your vertical is. If you’re a mortgage broker, a battery store, a casino or a personal injury lawyer – pack in right now. If, on the other hand, you sell purple squirrel jackets, PPC may be just be just the thing. Providing, of course, anybody knows your product exists and will be searching for it. The underlying message here is take a close look at the landscape before settling on PPC. Organic search engine optimization takes much longer, but the long term ROI is much greater than paying $10 a click to be in the 7th bid position for “laptop battery”.
PPC is only one piece of the puzzle: PPC only drives traffic to your site which, if you’ve been fastidious in your keyword research, may be relevant to your business. It does absolutely nothing to improve your conversion rate once that visitor is on your home page. If you’re missing the basics in terms of user experience, content, the checkout process and generally instilling consumer confidence – do not spend a dime on PPC until you’ve gotten your house in order. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it pull out its credit card.

This is less of an introduction to PPC than it is a cautionary tale. Under the right circumstances, and with an experienced account manager at the reins, PPC can be a tremendously deadly arrow in your online marketing quiver. It is still an arrow, however, and not a silver bullet. Banner, CPM and PPC advertising should be only be among a wide variety of options you consider when planning a budget and strategy.

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