Up Periscope

5 Basic SEO Strategies

Social Sonar - Thursday, January 17, 2013
search_image
Search engine optimization (SEO) may not be part of the social media, but if you're creating or maintaining a blog, it may be particularly helpful for your business. Online portals like Google and Bing help give visibility to business using SEO. In the end, knowing the tricks these search engines use can help you create a sale for your business. Here are some basic SEO principles to help your site.

1. Tracking
If you don’t track and analyze your marketing efforts, how can you know if something is successful? The easiest first step is installing Google Analytics. It’s free for basic functions, so once you get used to various features, you can determine whether you need the paid version. Just try it out and start looking at conversions today.

2. Keywords
Determine keywords that fit the business and services that you provide. Utilizing keywords within your content, including tagged photos, is the best way to optimize your site. Since Google and Bing algorithms do all of the work, it won't cost you anything!

3. Site Map
Clean up the structure of your site. Don't overwhelm search engine crawlers with too many bells and whistles. While some sites use Javascript to give the site a sleek look, search engines can't read this design, meaning your website won't be visible to your potential consumers when they run a basic search.

4. Landing Pages
Creating targeted landing pages for services, products, or FAQs provides visitors answers to their search inquiries. Your homepage is certainly key to your business because it’s the introduction to your brand, but it’s not the only page to worry about. Providing a range of landing pages means your business will be optimized for search engine ranking and obtaining consumers.

5. Links
Structure your links. Make sure your content is strong and your pages are specific to what you are talking about. Example: www.yoursite.com/press_release/May_2012. Failure to provide specific links to content, or having links unrelated to the content itself, doesn’t help your SEO ranking.

Though these tips are helpful to remember, the bottomline is that if you don't provide strong content that showcases your business, services or products, the best SEO optimization will not bring people back to your page. Be sure to keep content creation in mind as much as these technical specifics!

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?

 

Social Media: Secret Sales Department

Social Sonar - Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Benjamin in DisguiseThe #1 thing every business wants from Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and blogs is money, either from current customers or returning ones. Measuring the effect of your blog, email newsletter, and Facebook and Twitter accounts without coupon codes is a nearly impossible task.

There is compelling evidence social media helped you make sales, whether you realized it or not.

Influence Purchases

When someone searches for your company on Google, some of the links that normally show up in the search results are your blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp pages. The searcher may decide to make a purchase based on what they see on these sites, whether your realize it or not.

One of our customers is a chiropractor who used to rely heavily on Yellow Pages. He had a new client come in and cite Yellow Pages as her source for finding the business. During the course of her appointment, however, she admitted to reading his recent blog posts, and they helped her make the final decision to use his services.

Add Legitimacy

A few years ago, it wasn't guaranteed every business had a website. Almost all business owners now realize the importance of having a website to allow customers to find them. A Facebook page and Twitter account are just as important now as a website was then. Having these pages shows your business is up-to-the times, and thus thriving.

Expand Your Presence

People love to share what they are doing, where they are going, and the coolest new things they found. People often tag businesses in posts. If you don't have a Facebook page or Twitter handle, you're missing out on free word-of-mouth advertising. On the converse, the ability to be tagged in posts allows your current customers to easily introduce new, potential customers to your business.

One of our customers owns a loose leaf tea store. His customers often mention his Twitter handle in their tweets and tag his Facebook fan page in their posts as a way to brag about going to his store or post a picture of themselves enjoying his tea.

Raise Your Rank and Reduce Paid Marketing Costs

Having a higher search engine ranking naturally leads to more sales and cheaper Cost Per Click. The higher your natural search rank is on Google, the less you pay for AdWords bids. Thankfully, your blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account all raise the ranking of your website for better visibility and more sales.

The simple truth is customers now increasingly expect you to have a social media presence. Whether your efforts on these platforms yield sales all depends on how active you are and how often you engage your customers.

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.

Social Media and Lead Generation

Social Sonar - Saturday, December 17, 2011
Although most social media experts suggest focusing on building your brand and having a conversation with your customers rather than trying to make a sale, you want to know that the time you are spending on social media sites is actually paying off. Webmarketing123 recently released a report entitled, "Social Media: The Tailwind for SEO & Lead Generation." This is a summary of their report and recommendations. 

One important way to help build your brand is to raise your ranking in search engines. Almost five billion inquiries are processed on major search engines every single day. Search engine optimization (SEO) is about getting your business to the top of those lists. By cross-promoting Facebook posts, likes and tweets, you will link your social media optimization (SMO) to your SEO program. Therefore, by communicating with your customers on social media sites, you may actually raise your SEO rankings. 

Webmarketing123 suggests mapping out your plan as follows:

    1.    Diagram: Choose your social networks.
    2.    Test: Figure out which types of campaigns work best with your audience.
    3.    Strategize: Decide which content you will promote.
    4.    Implement: Launch your campaign and grow your audience.
    5.    Monitor: Track growth.
    6.    Measure: Measure return on engagement (ROE) across periods of time.
    7.    Optimize: Develop fresh content and schedule posts and tweets to encourage customer interaction.

Your ultimate goal is to drive more traffic to your website, which raises your SEO rankings and makes it easier for customers to find you.  You also want to boost the number of "likes" on Facebook and increase re-tweets or replies.  Both people and search engines like fresh, keyword-rich content.  By keeping Facebook and Twitter updated with engaging and interesting content, you are improving your rankings. 

Close the circle by adding share buttons on your website.  This makes it simple for customers on your website to "like" or tweet about new content.  You should also cross-promote your blog on Facebook and Twitter.  Learn how to use keywords and hashtags on Twitter, so that search engines will add them to the search results page, which will help drive more traffic to your website. 

You can the measure your ROE by monitoring traffic on Google Analytics, measuring your buzz on Facebook and growing your followship on Twitter.  "In social media, your ROI is your ROE."

The social media/SMO/SEO/ROE/ROI world can be very confusing.  If you would like us to explain how social media can help improve your business, please let us know!

 

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 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.