Up Periscope

Ménage à Trois: A Marketing Love Story

Social Sonar - Monday, October 08, 2012

Ménage à Trois translates to "Household of three". Here at Social Sonar, we often talk about the Virtuous Cycle, the three services that complement and feed each other seamlessly to create a cohesive marketing program and serve as the basis for all other efforts. Combining services does more than triple your reach; it has a multiplying effect.

Virtuous Cycle of Marketing

1. Blogging

Maintaining a blog is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your business. Not only does a blog educate your customers and demonstrate your expertise, it also greatly improves your search engine ranking. Every blog post increases the number of keywords and pages on your site, so search engines will rank your url more highly than other websites with less information.

Having a more highly-ranked site ensures more traffic to your blog, which leads to more people signing up for email newsletters, and more people liking your Facebook and Twitter accounts. If you run any Google AdWords campaigns, you can actually pay less and be ranked higher than less informative sites.

Blog posts also provide you with unique content to promote in your Facebook and Twitter messages, as well as your email newsletter. You can even run targeted marketing campaigns linking to specific blog posts, which are easier to set up than landing pages.

2. Social Media

Updating Facebook and Twitter pages shows customers your business is healthy, and you are keeping up with the times. Rather than expecting people to visit your website, you are meeting them where they already hang out and making it easy for them to interact with your business or check your hours.

Social media is an ideal tool to drive customers to your website when you need them to take an action. For example, you can promote your recent blog post on Facebook and Twitter. People click the link to visit your blog and spend time on your site, where you can convince them to make an appointment or call with questions.

You can even run specials on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Post a unique coupon code and send people to your website to make the purchase. You get to keep more money than if you partnered with a deal site like Groupon or Living Social.

Tell other fans on your Facebook and Twitter pages about your positive Yelp reviews, and encourage them to review you. You can even link directly to the positive review!

3. Email Marketing

Gaining the trust to receive an email address is one of the most powerful marketing relationships you can build. Make sure you always send relevant content so recipients are less likely to unsubscribe.

Blog posts are ideal for ensuring your emails are always interesting and informative. They enable you to take a "Something for Everyone" approach, as we mentioned in our blog post What Saturday Night Live Teaches Us About Email Marketing.

Facebook and Twitter are great tools to promote signing up for your email newsletters. People who sign up to receive your emails are more likely to make a purchase than someone who has only liked you on Facebook or followed you on Twitter.

This recent article from TIME states, "Forty-eight percent of consumers reported that social media posts are a great way to discover new products, brands, trends, or retailers, but less than 1% of transactions could be traced back to trackable social links... For repeat shoppers, 30% of online purchases begin with an e-mail from the retailer."

Our complete package offers everything you need for the basis of a healthy marketing program: Blogging, Social Media, and Email Marketing. Give us a call at 1-866-843-4490 or send an email to service@socialsonar.com to find out how our customized automated solution can work for your business.

What Is SEO And How Do You Get It?

Social Sonar - Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Search Engine Optimization. SEO. You may have heard those "buzz letters," but what do they mean? SEO "is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural," or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic"), search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users."  (Via Wikipedia.) 

Basically, SEO is what helps people find you faster. How do you raise your SEO and help your customers find you in a sea of competitors? Some of it is simple -- things you may already doing:

  • Add a blog to your website
  • Add Google Analytics to every page of your website
  • Don't use excessive code
  • Make every single page unique
  • Use meta tags
  • Don't use repetitive wording
  • Include footer links on every page
  • Create separate pages for each keyword
  • Use keyword rich title tags on each page of your website. 

However, recently it was revealed that Google's new algorithms also include social media in the SEO-raising criteria. Updates can also determine when websites are trying to trick the algorithms into raising their ranking. Therefore, you not only need a great website, you need to be a social media conversationalist.

What else should you be doing to stay relevant in the online world? We hate to sound like a broken record, but...

Maintain your Facebook page: Post interesting content (photos, links, etc.) and respond to questions or comments. It is truly important to have a conversation on Facebook. 

Share tweets about your industry, not just your brand. And share interesting links and information so that others will be compelled to re-tweet and respond to your posts.

Upload videos to YouTube (which is owned by Google). Include a link to your website somewhere in the description. An interesting video can go viral and give your brand a boost. The goal is to create content that others want to share.

If you are on Pinterest, pin or re-pin interesting visuals. Don't just pin photos with links back to your website.

On LinkedIn, you should join groups and participate in conversations: answer questions and post your company updates. Although it doesn't necessarily raise your SEO, it contributes to brand recognition. 

Since Google obviously owns Google+, it is certainly a place that you may want to consider spending time if you are looking to raise SEO. It may not weigh heavily now, but as Google+ gains momentum, it may matter more in the future for those trying to raise awareness of their brand online.

As you work to build your brand, your ranking in any search engine should organically rise as well. Which sites are you using to build your brand and optimize your search engine ranking?

 

Guest Blogging, Part 2

Social Sonar - Saturday, April 07, 2012

Last week we briefly discussed the benefits of guest blogging, and why it's important in light of new search engine algorithms. This week, we'll discuss the specifics of how to become or utilize a guest blogger.

How do I become a guest blogger?

Here are some of the steps that Liz Strauss of Successful-Blog.com suggests:

1. Search for a blog that relates to your niche or your interests. Perhaps you like to write about fashion. So, you look for fashion blogs. Be specific in your search. Perhaps you want to hone in on fashion for pregnant women.

2. Check to see if your blog of choice accepts guest bloggers. Some blogs have specific guidelines for guest bloggers. Make sure you understand what is expected of you.

3. Examine the blog to see if it seems to be a blog with high traffic. This can be difficult to ascertain. I like to look at comments, number of tweets and the amount of content the blog produces. I check to see if I can see a pattern in the number of posts per day/week.
Tip: You want to find a blog with decent traffic so that people will become familiar with your work. I’m not saying to never write for smaller blogs. But you should keep your purpose in mind.

4. Choose a topic that hasn’t been covered on the blog. Try to aim for a unique angle. For instance, with my pregnancy fashion example, you could write a post about swimsuits and cover-ups that flatter that baby bump.

5. Write the post.

6. E-mail your post to the blog’s owner. Most blogs will have a contact page, where you can find an e-mail address.

7. Wait one week, and respond with a follow-up e-mail if you don’t hear anything. Your short, simple follow-up e-mail could read as follows:
I wanted to make sure you received my guest blog post “Flattering That Baby Bump At The Beach.” I sent it on Wednesday, June 12. Will you be able to publish it?
Tip: You might want to attach your post again in case it has been overlooked. It will save your contact the time of having to ask you for your blog post and waiting for your response.

8. Wait another week. If you still don’t hear anything, use that guest blog post on your blog, pitch it to another relevant blog or use it for article marketing.

What if I want someone to guest blog for me?
Come up with a set of parameters for your potential guest bloggers. As an example, popular blog, Addicted2Decorating (http://www.addicted2decorating.com/advertise-with-a2d), has a great guest-blogger policy. Then, put the call out. Be sure to use all of the social media channels available to you, as well as your local business connections to find potential bloggers.

Is there way to track the benefits of guest blogging?

Yes, actually. There are now tools available that can help you to make sure your links aren’t tampered with after the fact and track things like Facebook likes generated by your blog post.

Guest Blogging, Part 1

Social Sonar - Wednesday, April 04, 2012

 

What is guest blogging?

Guest blogging entails writing a blog post for someone else’s blog. You get credited as the author of the post, and it links to your own blog or website so readers can find your site. For small businesses, it is most beneficial to guest blog for sites related to your market.

How being a guest blogger benefits you...
You’ll make business connections, engage new potential customers, and maybe get some clout out of the deal. You’ll also hopefully get the most important payoff - traffic to your site.

How your guest blog benefits others...

“...in the post-Panda era, guest blogging is one of the most powerful ways to rank higher with Google. The Panda-dubbed updates to the Google algorithm that started changing ranking factors (and search results) in early 2011 have dramatically shifted the search marketing game.

Where once a brute-force effort to blanket the internet with spammy back-linked content and stuff keywords for ranking could convince Google that a site was worth a high rank, now the focus has shifted more clearly to original, quality content. Google is in the business of serving up the most relevant online resources, so naturally, it wants websites to earn their search placement, not take it.” - Social Media Today, “Google Panda Makes Guest Blogging Easier”

This means that more and more webmasters are in need of high-quality, content-rich copy in order to improve their rankings in the search engine. Your guest blog gives them exactly that!

Be sure to check out Part 2 of this blog to find out how to become a guest blogger and more.

How Does Google Think? The Principles of Search Engine Rankings

Alison Kawa - Saturday, June 18, 2011

Everyone talks about the specific methods of getting your site highly ranked in natural searches, but the algorithms Google and other search engines use are constantly changing. While it's sure to remain some combination of placement and number of keywords, number of pages, and number of strategic links to and from other sites, it might be a better strategy to think about natural search from Google's point of view.

They want to return relevant information from a user's query so that person will return to search again on Google. Here is a list of questions Google engineers keep in mind when they tweak the algorithm:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don't get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you'd want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

You can find more details on Google's blog.

In short, it's not how you get your site ranked high, it's why. Please feel free to comment or contact us if you have more insights or questions about natural search.

How a Blog Benefits Natural Search

Alison Kawa - Saturday, May 28, 2011

Having a blog is a serious time investment, and every word is worth it. Here's why.

Relevant keywords / number and placement of keywords

Blogging enables you to mention multiple keywords that can be relevant to a search. Every time you blog, you increase the number of times the keywords are mentioned. Often times keywords will end up in the title of your blog, increasing their importance in the Google ranking algorithm and making your site more likely to be returned in the results of a search.

Number of pages on a website

Having a lot of pages indicates to Google that you have a lot of information. Since Google’s mission is to connect users with the information they seek, having a blog positions you as an industry expert whose site is valuable. Each time you write a blog post, a page for that post is automatically created, increasing the number of pages on your site and increasing your Google ranking.

Frequency of site changes

Google wants to provide its users with the most up-to-date information. The logic is, the more often you change your site, the more current your information is. Google’s crawlers will re-visit your website and, if you have made edits since the last time it was crawled, the crawler will make a note of it and return more frequently. If you continually update your site, it will be crawled more and more often, and the information you post will be catalogued closer to real-time. Every blog post counts as an update to your site, and will increase your search engine ranking, as well as the frequency of your crawling.

Why Having a Blog Is Crucial for Your Business

Social Sonar - Saturday, May 21, 2011

It raises your natural search engine ranking.

WordPress LogoWe'll use Google as an example of a search engine, since it holds 80% of the market share. Google determines the ranking of a website with the following:

  • relevant keywords to the search
  • number and placement of the keywords
  • number of pages on the website
  • frequency of site changes
  • and many more (secret) methods

Every time you write a blog post, you:

  • increase the number of keywords on your site.
  • automatically create a page for each post, thus increasing the number of pages.
  • change your website and creating something new for the crawler to find during the next visit.

See the pattern?

It complements your SEM strategy.

Having a high natural search ranking actually increases your ranking for paid search, as well. By keeping your site relevant and timely with a blog, your ads will appear higher on the page and cost less per impression.

It gives you something to talk about.

Facebook and Twitter posts are great for a short format. If you have a big idea that warrants some explaining, a blog post is a great way to offer added value to your customer.

It's free advertising.

Blog posts are easy to share. By setting yourself up as an industry expert with a lot of experience, people are likely to listen to what you have to say, and share this information with friends and co-workers.

How to Master Search Engine Optimization

Alison Kawa - Saturday, May 14, 2011

How do you rank high in natural search?

The answer is simple and refreshing: Be useful. Have content people want to read. Not only will you be helping your customers, you will also increase your natural search ranking.

Many people create content with a blog. A blog is a great way to talk to your customers in a more informal tone. They get a better feel for you and your company, and they often find additional, useful information. In talking about your business, you are bound to use keywords that rank you higher in natural search results.

Make lots of friends. The more sites that link to you, the more important search engines think you are. It’s just like people. The more people have heard of you, the more important people think you are. The quality of the websites that link to you, however, is really important. A link from a major website like the BBC is much more important to your ranking than links from one hundred really small websites.

Have a lot of information. The more pages you have on your website, the higher your ranking in natural search.

Avoid Flash with every ounce of strength you have. Flash “breaks” your website for search engines. If you look at the code of a website using Flash, it simply states, “Must have Flash player to view this site”. It doesn’t tell the search engines anything about your website, or why it is relevant to the search.

Do your business a favor and focus on natural search from the beginning. Your money will be well-invested!

How Natural Search Works and Why It's Important

Alison Kawa - Saturday, May 07, 2011

How does natural search work?

Search engines like Google want to return useful information when you search so you will use their services again. Search engines send out "crawlers", "bots" or "spiders" to look through websites and catalog their content. The search engines keep track of "keywords", or words commonly used to search for things, on the website. When a person searches for something in a search engine, the search engine displays the results according to how useful they are to the person searching. In other words, how closely the keywords on the website match the words in the search.

As a small business owner, you want to make sure your website is listed as high as possible in natural search rankings. Search engine optimization, or, making it easy for search engines to find and catalog the keywords on your site, is crucial to getting a high ranking in the natural results of a search.

For example, if you are a wedding photographer, you want to have the words "wedding photography" on your site, as well as your location. "Chicago", for instance. When someone searches for "wedding photography" in the Chicago area, Google can tell what location the search originated from, so it returns results relevant to Chicago. The more times you mention keywords and your location, the more relevant Google thinks your website is for the person searching.

Can't you just list keywords over and over again on a separate page on your website?

In the early days of search engines, it was simple to trick Google into thinking your site was useful for the searcher. People would do things like put keywords in white on a white background so people couldn't see them on the website, but crawlers would catalog them. But search engines are smart and adapt quickly. Nowadays, websites are punished for using cheap tricks like the one mentioned. Their ranking is actually lower than it could be if all the content was original and contained the same number of keywords.

Why is natural search important?

Natural search is non-stop, relatively cheap advertising. Your only cost is creating content. Lots of people have paid search programs with services like AdWords. In order to have your ad appear on the right side of the search results, you have to continue putting money into the program. If you don't pay your AdWords bill, your ad no longer appear on the right side. When you invest money and time in search engine optimization, the investment stays with you. Even if you turn off your paid search program, your ranking in natural search will still be there.

Natural search actually works in tandem with paid search. Google displays ads not only according to how much money the person paid for the ad, but also how relevant the website is to the search. You could pay less and be ranked higher than the next company down if the search engine thinks your website is more useful.