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On the subject of Blogging

dog

Joe Joe

January 23rd, 2014.

Reducing Your Content Marketing to 1 Hour a Week

I ran an experiment last year. I had a website with no blog. It had lots of pages on a niche topic, but very few readers. I installed a blog and began posting once per month. In a year, the traffic doubled – (I’ll admit it increased from ‘barely perceptible’ to ‘quite unremarkable’, but you can’t argue with the numbers).

 analytics

The massive spike around April 2013 was from some experimenting with paid discovery. The second, smaller spike was a particularly controversial blog post.

I think this settles the argument once and for all: A regular content schedule is a sure-fire way to get traffic.

I know what you’re wondering – ‘How does this affect me, the business owner?’

Well, business owner, I’ll tell you.

It means that you should be publishing regular content on your site if you want people to be visiting it. But as a business owner (or marketing manager) you’ll be plenty busy enough with all sorts of other concerns – do you have time for creating a content marketing strategy too?

YES!

You need to be producing content – that’s a fact. It’s a thing you can’t deny. I create content for 30 clients – I use the ‘DEAL’ system, from Tim Ferris (author of The Four Hour Work Week):

Define, Eliminate, Automate, Liberate.

Define

Define the sort of content you need. I daresay you won’t go far wrong with one blog post per week and one infographic per month.

You’ll also need to consider sharing and seeding the content as it’s produced. This can be done via the regular social networking channels, but also on targeted interest sites via email outreach.

All of these things take time – hours and hours of time. But only if you do them all yourself…

Eliminate

Remove any unnecessary steps in the programme. Don’t waste your time getting bogged down with trying to design things yourself or write blog posts yourself – there are plenty of people in the world who will do it for you in exchange for money. They are called freelancers and are readily available online.

Think about what you really need to do for the job to work. In fact, I’ll do it for you – you need to come up with content ideas and you need to check it, then post it. The rest can be done for you.

stoge

Automate

Automation is achieved by setting up a system that handles the tasks for you. In essence, you feed the machine with briefs and it comes back with content. Online freelancing services exist purely to make your life easier, and they’re really great.

My favourite freelancing sites include:

-Research/Data Input:

O-Desk

O-Desk is very useful for finding people to do basic tasks – data analysis, basic research, number crunching etc. I use O-Desk for jobs that are too time consuming to handle myself. For example, if I was trying to make an infographic about football transfers (which I am), I’d post the job on O-Desk and find someone more capable and efficient than me to handle the research and analysis while I concentrate on planning the next infographic.

O-Desk also allows you to create teams of people to handle larger ongoing projects. It’s efficient and easy to manage and provides a screentracker so you can make sure your freelancers are staying on task.

Do note, however – O-Desk has a very high number of have-a-go-heroes. They aren’t necessarily qualified in a given field, so although they are competent, you can’t expect them to do more demanding tasks. For basic stuff though, it’s ideal.

-Writing:

Textbroker

Textbroker’s site is fairly basic in functionality, but it focusses solely on copywriting so it’s far more targeted. Prices vary based on the writer’s rating (out of 5). I’ve found some really fantastic writers on Textbroker, but also some absolute stinkers. Usually I have to edit a few things as it’s easier than sending it back for amendments, but it saves a lot of time.

Good copywriters also tend to be good researchers. They’re generally more able to follow a complex brief than their counterparts on O-Desk, so you can offer them more in-depth projects to research.

-Design:

People Per Hour – covers pretty much every digital-based job, but I use it for designers

PPH is more useful to me than some of my own body parts. I can post a job at 9 in the morning, receive proposals and have the job in the bag before I go to bed that night. People Per Hour has the benefit of knowing where your freelancer is located, so you can target areas that are likely to have more qualified personnel.

For instance, in searching for a designer, Europe has more reliable design schools than other parts of the world, and by choosing someone in Britain I can guarantee we’re in the same timezone, language and operate on the same working hours. It makes the tasks much more manageable.

Dribbble

The site is really fun. You could spend hours looking at the fantastic artwork and designs people come up with. It costs a lot as it’s targeted solely for design and membership is by invitation only so the vetting process is quite thorough.

Hiring works like a traditional jobs list – you post your jobs and people apply.

It is possible to contact the designers for one-off work, but generally they know the value of their work so be prepared to pay for it.

-Outreach:

You need to get your content in front of people. Using services like O-Desk will be futile as the workers tend to take the easy option, and language barriers often mean briefs are misinterpreted. People Per Hour is better as you can find people with proven experience who can provide you with a list of relevant sites to contact with a view to posting your content.

Sites like BuzzSumo (free) and GroupHigh (not free) really speed up the process as you can tap into existing conversations about the things you’re promoting, and target the people interested in them.

-Seeding:

Seeding is an essential part of the content process. Making sure your content appears in the right places and in front of the right people is undoubtedly going to reap its own rewards. By building lists of relevant sites to post to, you can automate this process and make sure every piece of content is placed in front of the influencers, sharers and promoters you need.

If you’ve got a bit of budget, you might also consider paid promotion on social media. ‘Boosting’ a post on Facebook, or StumbleUpon’s paid discovery service guarantee the content will be exposed to more people. However, the content needs to be useful and relevant to the audience to gain more traction. If it’s not engaging, people won’t engage with it (click/share etc.) and you’ll have wasted the promotion budget.

Liberate

As you practice and refine this process you’ll find yourself free to do other things for your business. You’ll be free to chase new clients and more work, and the best part is, you won’t need to do any more work yourself – the system can handle it!

You’ll notice I didn’t mention anything about idea generation – that’s because I think idea generation is the one thing you shouldn’t outsource. You need to make sure your content is completely suitable for the purpose, and you can have a lot of fun coming up with new ideas.

 

master bait

Joe Joe

February 14th, 2013.

An Essential Tool for Seeding Your Linkbait – The D.O.G.C.A.T.

master bait

 

Linkbait. The One True Love of the Content Makers.

That essential tool in the arsenal of online marketer, Linkbait is content designed to attract the attention of other web users by baiting them to link to it (see?).

Linkbait isn’t just ordinary content. Blog posts are easy; but making something that your industry will want to share and celebrate is a different ballgame entirely.

Linkbait can come from a stroke of genius or hours of planning, or both. As long as people look at it as either a resource for their industry or something novel and entertaining, there’s no reason it shouldn’t attract links from the right people.

 

More links means more traffic and better SEO!

So we know you’ve already made a killer piece of content. You’re just here to find out how to spread it around properly, right? Well fret no more, Ladies and Gentlemen. We present:

 

The Datadial Original ‘Guide to Content Appreciation’ Triangle.

Or

D.O.G.C.A.T.

 

Seeding Linkbait copy

 

Ok, Calm down. We know it looks overwhelmingly complicated, but let me explain exactly how it works:

 

LEVEL 0 – Creation:

The whole thing works on the basis that you already have a piece of original content that you think will attract attention from your peers in industry. Whether it’s a video explaining how Les Miserables is a great model for growing your start-up, or an infographic explaining the best way to seed Linkbait, as long as you think people will be able to use it; you’re on track.

 

Level 1 – Social Media:

This is the most basic type of seeding. It’s an essential step, but exposure will be limited to the size of your following. If you’re lucky, your content might be Shared, Retweeted or +1’d to a wider audience. It’s possible that you have 6 million followers on Twitter, but if you don’t it might be worth taking measures to grow your following. Social sharing is a self-fulfilling process – the more people share it, the more people see it. The more people see it, the better the chance of them sharing it.

 

Level 2 – Social News Sites:

This is a stage that requires a bit more work and skill. Sites like Newsvine, Digg and Reddit allow users to submit links and articles to be read and reviewed by their peers. These sites are community-powered and collaborative.

- Newsvine is more news-based and content is reviewed by site-users who can indicate good content by clicking the ‘Seed Newsvine’ option. The more people who seed it, the more it spreads.

- Digg is a little serious but reflects a community interested in alternative news and modern trends. Content is promoted by clicking the ‘Digg’ button and the more Diggs an article gets, the higher it climbs on the front page.

- Reddit has the potential to be the strongest tool in your Content Sharing arsenal. Reddit is, in essence a news/link/media sharing site which is comprised of niche special-interest Subreddits. There are Subreddits for pretty much anything you can think of, from /r/pokemon to /r/indiegaming. Finding the right Subreddits to seed your content is key, and if the community like it; you’ll reap the rewards.

 

My Top Tips for Submitting to Social News sites:

1)  Think of a catchy title to draw people in and make it seem newsworthy. (‘New Study Shows Horses are Just Really Big Dogs’ is a lot catchier than ‘I read an article earlier about how horses are really big dogs and I thought I’d share it with you on here’).

2)  Don’t offend the community. There’s a certain tribalism associated with community-based social sites and it would be a faux-pas to insult the people you are trying to impress. (‘Redditors Might Benefit from this Spell-Checking Plug-in’ works better than ‘Redditors Can’t Spell!’)

3)  Don’t be too self-serving; for some reason people think it’s less authentic to promote your own work than to find something organically. (‘Cool Infographic about Seeding Linkbait’ works better than ‘I made this amazing article about Seeding Linkbait).

 

Level 3 – The Newsiest Blogs in Town:

These are the former Search Engine Contenders that for the most part have bowed out of the Search Wars to focus on other parts of user experience. They’ve become pinnacles of the online news world, and although they’re still somewhat community-focussed, they are edited.  They now support a news format with a kind of blog/online magazine layout. Emailing the editors of relevant sections with your ideas could earn a link to your content and massively improve your exposure.

 

Level 4 – Industry Specialists:

If you’ve written a post on ‘Implementing Google Authorship to aid SEO’, you might consider contacting SEOMoz or other industry leaders to see if they’re interest in the resource you’ve created. One tweet from a well-followed industry leader is worth more than an email to everyone in your address book. If your specialism is music you might contact a blog such as Pitchfork or AllMusic; and if books are your forte, Waterstone’s are industry leaders. Specialism can extend into things as niche as genre, so don’t hesitate to hunt for the best blogs in your industry.

 

Level 5 – Actual News Sites:

If your content is really a revolutionary resource you might consider contacting the editors of international media and news sites. The Guardian, The Times or The Huffington Post could (if targeted properly) gain you worldwide exposure. If your content isn’t up to scratch, you’ll just be wasting your time, but a carefully strategized approach could land you on the pages of the centres of global news reporting.

 

Level 6 – The BBC:

Only one step up from The Huffington Post, but perhaps a world apart. The BBC departs from the idea of community-based news reporting and presents itself as the leading resource for news. You can submit news stories to the BBC and its various subsections, but since they are keen to avoid any undue consideration in news reporting, the only way to get an acknowledgement from this avenue would probably be to create something that actively changes how people think about your industry.

 

Some Final Notes on the D.O.G.C.A.T.

Three factors that seem to change as you move up the ladder are cost, difficulty and exposure.

Cost

Cost is actually higher on level 1 than level 6. Using paid methods of promoting your material on Social Networks can be very useful. In fact, the clever clogs in charge of these outlets have been sure to make sure spending money is easy and will benefit you. However, as you move up the D.O.G.C.A.T., cost is no problem. You can’t buy your way onto the pages of reputable news sites, but truly strong content dressed up properly can be submitted for consideration for free.

Difficulty

If you’ve already got social media plug-ins installed, spreading your content on Level 1 is a cakewalk. You literally have to do nothing. Isn’t the internet amazing? That said, by relying on the automated service alone you probably won’t see the benefit. Pumping your content back into the mixer will ensure more people will have a chance to see it and click through. Level 2 requires only an idea of what that particular online community are looking for; but from Levels 3 to 6 it becomes much harder. The content must be of an incredibly high standard and it will help to have a point of contact in the business rather than emailing ‘editor@x.com’.

Exposure

Level 1 could go one way or the other in terms of exposure. On the one hand, if you run the social media for a multi-national corporation; you’ll probably have a big following and high exposure. If you’re a local fruit shop, you might find significantly less exposure. Level 2 can offer a high level of exposure if your submission proves possible; but as we’ve said, this requires a certain level of skill. It goes without saying that a lot of people read news websites, so Levels 3-6 will be guaranteed high-exposure.

We hope you find the D.O.G.C.A.T. as useful as it definitely is.

 

It will probably change the industry.

 

…BBC here we come.

BP

Joe Joe

December 5th, 2012.

Content Marketing Advice for Buckingham Palace that You Can Use Too!

Aside from staggering wealth and undeserved attention, one of the things that I’ve always associated with The Royal Family is their strategic but reserved PR coverage.

I remember when the Queen Mother passed on. The news was broken by a headed-letter placed at the gates of the palace. 10-Years-On, the world has changed. In the age of Social Media and online press, would they still have delivered the statement in this way? I doubt it.

It would be a waste of paper.

Buckingham Palace is moving into the modern age, and I think that’s a step in the right direction.
Following the announcement at The D and D of C’s website  that there is to be a Royal Baby, the whole world has gone Royal Baby crazy. For an idea of what the baby will look like, The Poke gives a pretty scientific model. For an idea about names,  namethatroyalbaby.com is the place to go. As The Royal Baby still hasn’t developed a skeleton and is smaller than an apple, all we can be sure of is it will be a PR dream-come-true. So I thought I’d write a guide for Content Marketing that The Palace can use to promote the infant once it’s born.

…Other readers might also find it useful for their company’s Content Marketing Strategy.

There can be little doubt that content marketing should be a central focus of your digital marketing plan. It’s alleged that 19% of Internet Users now get their news from Social Media. I can attest to this: having spent most of yesterday avoiding social media platforms in case I saw spoilers for the Boardwalk Empire Season Finale, I only found out about the Royal Baby this morning when I was on Twitter researching coverage of the Pandas at Edinburgh Zoo. But with 400 million Tweets being sent per day, and 1 Billion Facebookers scrolling through content all day long; how can you make the Royal Baby (or your product) get the attention you think it deserves.

SECTION 1: Competiting for Attention

As with any content production, you need to know your audience.

When it comes to Content Marketing, often it will pay dividends to build-your-own audience. Obviously the current market-share for people interested in the Royal Baby is lower than it could be. Create content that evokes people’s curiosity and encourages them to come back for more. A weekly feature called ‘Ask Royal Baby’ where Royal Baby answers Tweets on a YouTube Channel, or takes part in a Google+ Hangout would be ideal. Tweets featuring #AskRoyalBaby will stand out in the stream, and the Sharability of videos means you’ll see huge coverage, and a huge amount of attention.

(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: You might benefit from an ‘Ask an Expert’ style weekly blog that runs along the same lines.)

Technological Sophistication

As well as being current with what you output, you need to be current in how you output. It’s no secret that the ease and simplicity of mobile internet has made the trials of turning on a computer a thing of the past. React to new releases in the digital consumer world before your competitors and you’re bound to see the benefits before them. You might consider releasing an App with minute-by-minute news and updates straight from Royal Baby central. As new technology reveals itself, don’t be afraid to take chances on new ideas. You never know – Royal Baby could be the first star of Holographic Video Blogs!

(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Make sure you’re aware of growing interest in different areas of media consumption. A fairly basic App could be a really innovative way to interact with your customers, or distribute your Blog and Newsletter).

Section 2: Original Content

You are probably asking yourself ‘How Do I Remain Current AND Still Stay Original?’

Simply put, I would say the most efficient and effective way to combine these two things is to put new slants on established concepts. Make things that people will find entertaining or useful and, importantly, things people will want to share. These are all concepts you’ll be very familiar with, but for clarity and usefulness, here are all of them:

How-To – Accessible Application of Expertise

This could be anything from your typical ‘How to’ Video Tutorials (‘How to change Royal Baby’s Nappy’; ‘How to Dress Like Royal Baby’ etc.), to Un-Paid (or even Paid) Teleclasses such as ‘How to Prepare Royal Baby’s Dinner in 10 Easy Lessons’ or ‘Why Is Royal Baby Crying?: A Five Week Course’. People will visit your company’s page to turn their interest into expertise. The more variety of ‘How-Tos’ you offer, the more visitors you’ll attract.

 

(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Share the knowledge in your field of expertise. ‘How to Revamp Your Webpage’ or ‘5 Ways to Make Your Own Furniture’ would work equally well. And like I say, you can name your price if you don’t feel like giving your secrets away for free.)

Also: don’t underestimate the power of E-mails. You can offer E-mail guides which could be more cost effective and a lot simpler if your professional interest is more technical.

Blog Series

You already have regular news updates on your website, so why not offer a weekly or fortnightly specialist post. Much like SEOMoz’s Whiteboard Friday where SEO concepts are described by a professional using a White Board to illustrate their points; you could offer a an insight into Royal Baby’s lifestyle from the people who know him or her best. ‘Royal Family Friday’ would be an excellent platform to get visitors to your website. Short interviews with members of The Royal Family talking about Royal Baby are sure to bring in hits. Think how many people tune in for The Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day. Imagine how much traffic she could bring in each week just talking about Royal Baby’s antics. It’s an untapped gold mine.

Angry Birds isn’t as easy as it looks – Source

 

(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Think what regular features would interest your audience. If you run a management blog, it could be worthwhile interviewing managers from different industries each week on ‘My Manager Monday’. If you run a Travel Agency, you could have reviews of different holidays from people who have just returned home in a weekly ‘Airport Arrivals’. The scope is huge, but as long as people will be interested and willing to share it, there’s no reason you can’t give it a try!

Top 10s

This is an incredibly straightforward and well-used format. It’s basically an entertaining list of things related to your company. It doesn’t even need to be 10! You might go for ‘The Top 10 Mushed Food Royal Baby Loves’ or ‘5 Toys Royal Baby Can’t Sleep Without’.

(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Come on… This is an easy one. Just make sure you’re relevant and interesting!)

Twitter Campaigns – Make Your Content Live in the Stream

The top thing to remember when using Twitter for a marketing campaign is that it should be 95% relationship building and only 5% selling. Twitter is predominantly a social platform. People want to see the latest thoughts from their friends and celebrity interests in their stream, so flagrant advertising sticks out like a sore thumb…

A sore thumb that’s been cut off and glued on…

A sore thumb that’s been cut off and glued onto a mouse’s back….

Ok, maybe that’s too much. The point is: it’s obvious and unwelcome. If you only tell your followers about Royal Baby merchandise all day, you’ll be doomed to fail as people don’t just want to be sold things. If you actively engage with your followers by replying to their tweets and sharing pictures and videos, you’ll probably find them much more susceptible to being sold Royal Baby calendars and car accessories.

(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Don’t underestimate the power of Twitter. At the minimum, you could use the platform to promote news from your company and share content. If you are a reasonably well-established company with thousands of followers, you could start a Twitter Event. Stage a giveaway for the 1,000th retweet, or start a Hashtag idea like #ReplaceSongNamesWithCarParts or #CarPartFootballerNames. If it’s funny and accessible, people will be weighing in with their own ideas in no time, (but if it spreads too far you probably won’t get the recognition for creating it).

Compare whatever you’re writing about with a current news story

[See ‘Content Marketing Advice for Buckingham Palace that You Can Use Too!’ by Joe Shervell, or ‘What The Leveson Enquiry Can Teach Us about Tobacco Farming’ by nobody.]

Reproduce Advice You Gave a Client

If somebody phoned you this afternoon asking for your advice, they probably aren’t the only person who needs it. Turn a customer’s question into a ‘How-To’ (see above) or even a Video Q&A with the customer where all questions are asked and answered. This could be anything from ‘How Can I Join the Royal Baby Fanclub?’ to ‘Which University Will Royal Baby Attend? I Want My child to Marry Royalty’.

(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Judge the important problems your customers are brining to you and work on ways they can solve them by referring to your blog or online guides. Again, the more diverse the content, the wider the variety of visitors you’ll attract.

Never Underestimate the Power of Hard Copy

In the modern world, emails; messages; texts and tweets fly around our heads and across our field of vision faster than we could possibly process. It might be a refreshing and paradoxically novel idea to approach your audience with something fresh: hard copy letter or CDs or DVDs. You could send out hand-written letters to everyone citizen of Britain and the Countries of the former British Empire, signed with a poster-paint handprint by Royal Baby. This would be a massively personal way to reach every member of the target audience.

(If your product is not The Royal Baby: You could send out sales enquiries in hand-written letters, or send your Newsletter printed on card. This will instantly set you aside from everyone else in your industry and keep you at the forefront of the clients’ minds. Floppy Disks may stand out even more, but unless your client has been making a concerted effort to halt progress, they will only be useful as Coasters).

Section 3: Other Key Factors

Aside from the content itself, there are several theories worth bearing in mind.

Good Content = More Followers

Broadly speaking, the better the content, the more people will want to see more of it. These will be the subscribers; the followers; the digital friends; but crucially, the online customer base that is so essential for this type of marketing. The more people who are interested in Royal Baby, the easier it will be to tell them about Royal Baby.

Content Knows No Bounds

 

For the connected generation, everything is accessible on mobile. Whether it’s an article, picture or video; you can access it on your desktop, tablet, phone, TV or PS3, all at the same time! This means it’s never been easier to get the latest content from Royal Baby straight to the people you want to see it the most.

The More Natural, The Better the Results

The more your content fits into the platform you’re using, the better the engagement from the audience. ‘Sponsored Tweets’ look just like Regular Tweets (Except for the fact that they say ‘Sponsored Tweet’). To Johnny User, this is much more acceptable than the stapled-on banner ads we learned to ignore in 1997. It also puts the content directly in the stream, meaning even the most highly-trained content avoider has to give it a cursory glance. If you fill Royal Baby’s fans Timeline’s with pictures and Hilarious Demotivational Posters, you’ll find a much higher engagement than straight-up bit.ly links to RoyalBabyShop.Com.

Don’t Be Afraid to Use Other People’s Success

Unfortunately, Royal Baby isn’t due to make an appearance until Spring 2013. This means he or she will be late for even the ‘Dead Horse Flogging’ phase of Gangnam Style. But you could recreate a timeless classic in the Sneezing Baby Panda video, with the Duchess of Cambridge nearly having a heart attack as Royal Baby sprays mucus everywhere. Or feature Royal Baby in a series of parody Old Spice adverts doing dangerous but awe-inspiring things like cliff-diving or riding a motorbike around the Large Hadron Collider.

Never overlook the importance of a Strategic Partnership with other brands. I’m sure Google will do some kind of logo to celebrate the baby being born. In fact, I’d put money on it. Other internet sensations Royal Baby could be involved with are:

- Twitter Feud with Nicki Minaj
- A Vice Documentary About Royal Baby
- Will It Blend?

Ok, I’m joking about the last one.

But there’s nothing wrong with partnerships. You’re judged by the company you keep, but if you can achieve extra exposure for your product then there’s no reason not to try it out.

Whether you’re promoting The Royal Baby, or a Digital Marketing Agency; original marketing that gets people talking and sharing is the way forward. Generate interest and you’ve made a step towards generating sales.

Voyeur

Joe Joe

November 29th, 2012.

Rise of the Digital Voyeurs: What is Your Role in Social Media?

 

Every day we sign into Facebook, Twitter , Google+ and a plethora of other Social Media platforms. The content shared on these sites is limitless, and with new content being created and shared every day, the power of Social Media has never been stronger.

We are constantly told about the benefits of Social Media as an Online Marketing Strategy, but one question that I’ve been pondering is: What do the 700 million people who use these sites actually use them for?

I propose a three-pronged method of identifying social media users.

1) Those who seek to create new content for their online audience for a multitude of reasons and in a multitude of ways. (Creators)
2) Those who enjoy nothing more than engaging with online content and sharing it among their family, friends and professional peers. (Amplifiers)
3) Those of us who sign in just to see what our friends and family have been up to. (Voyeurs)

The spread of users across these three categories is far from even. As the following diagram comprehensively explains, the people responsible for creating new content are in a tiny minority, while most people are quite content to just observe what other people are creating.

 

So what type of user am I?

There is no easy answer to this question. I imagine most people fall under ‘a bit of each’; but here, I will give each User-Type a profile and you can see which you most identify with.

Creators

These are the people at the top of the content waterfall. People who focus on creating web content. Here are the different types:

Type 1: Raising Awareness/Expanding a Fan Base/Increasing Exposure

The creators with the most exposure are big brands with big followings. A company like Coca-Cola push new content all day every day. They want to keep people interested in their product and spread the good word. If people are sharing new pictures, competitions and media around Social Networks, it’s free promotion for the company and everyone’s a winner.

There’s obviously a sliding scale with the multi-nationals at one end and independent companies, artists, musicians and people trying to build a fan-base at the other end.

(If you’re on the digital marketing team of a big brand; an unsigned musician; or a celebrity, this is you).

Type 2: Staying Current/Inspiring Ideas/Informing

Other creators might be Bloggers or companies who offer online services. They spark discussion about topics and, as their content is shared in email or social networks, they build more of a following. New content is important for these people. Staying fresh and current in the SEO-driven world requires a focus on innovative ideas and compelling writing.

(If you’re a Blogger, SEO or Redditor, this is you)

Type 3: Have-a-Go Heroes

The final type of creator is anyone else who posts on any Social Media Platform. The people who Tweet about their breakfast; or Instagram pictures of the weather; or update Facebook after a successful bowel movement. The people who just want to share their lives with their contacts. Features such as ‘Checking-in’ and ‘Tagging’ on Facebook enable these users the opportunity to be as detailed as they could possibly be when creating new content. The more they tag, the bigger their audience becomes. Mobile technology means that essentially anyone with thumbs can be this type of creator.

(If you have an internet connection, this is probably you)

 Amplifiers

The Amplifiers of Social Media can be broken into similar sections, as such:

Type 1: Shameless Self-Promoters

This is the type of Amplifier who tries to get their own content as much attention as they can. For example, a Blog-Post writer at an internet marketing company might Tweet a link to his post for his followers to see. His Twitter account is linked to his Facebook page, so it will also post the link to Facebook. He might then post a link to the page on Reddit; Submit the page to Stumbleupon; +1 the page on Google+; Pin the page on Pinterest; e-mail the page to all of his friends; write a letter containing the URL to his Great Aunt; Spray paint the link under a railway bridge or just go door-to-door asking people to visit his page. If he’s lucky, his followers, friends and associates will give the post the same treatment; retweeting it and sharing it around their own online networks and this will get the post the recognition it deserves.

(If you are trying to increase exposure to your own content, this is you)

Type 2: Subject Gurus
These are the types of Amplifiers who are considered (by themselves at least) to be experts in their field of interest. They will follow anyone who shows an interest in their subject and retweet, comment and increase awareness of the content they view to be of a high standard. This could be @DogFoodCentral Retweeting your comment about the new biscuits you bought your Labrador, or it might be @MattCutts raising awareness of your worthwhile post about Google’s Interpretation of HTML Tags. In any case, these are people who have an online following interested in a particular subject. They acknowledge that responsibility by sharing the best content in that field.

(If you are an online expert on anything, this is you)

Type 3: Fankids

These are the people who share content from their favourite bands, celebrities or artists. There are pages and sites dedicated to sharing the content put out by pop-cultural icons from all walks of life. Many artists have modern-day Fan Clubs in the form of Fan Pages and Groups on Facebook. There are also a growing number of Twitter accounts dedicated to Retweeting people talking about the artist. For example the frankly confusing account dedicated to 2010’s 4th Place X-Factor Contestant, Cher Lloyd:

For an example of the hype that can be created by Fankids, look at a fairly innocuous Tweet from  a young boy named Justin Bieber:

That was Retweeted by more people than could fill Wembley Stadium.

Take a moment to process that…

Now, I’ve got nothing against Justin Bieber. I’m sure he’s completely deserving of the attention he receives for quoting other people’s lyrics. But I’m sure if an 18 year old boy doing an Apprenticeship at a local City College had Tweeted the same sentiment, it might not have generated quite the same buzz…

Fankids share their love of artists to an alarming level of dedication, making them a huge part of the Amplification process.

(If you are obsessed with someone online, this is you)

Type 4: Keyboard Keensters

This applies to anyone else who interacts with online content. Casual Social Networkers who either want to get involved with the technology or just keep up with their friends. They will retweet @sportsquotesoffical or whatever sage advice is being handed out by @charliesheen that day. They will comment on each other’s photos with material that 5 years ago would have been confined to a text message or phone-call. They will like their friend’s status updates, share photos from their favourite singer’s pages; but still be fairly restricted to slightly extended group of people that they probably see on a day-to-day basis anyway.

(If you spend much of your time on Social Networking sites, but don’t like posting, this is you)

Voyeurs

This is less easy to break into different segments since we are all guilty of it in some way. By Voyeurism I mean the idea of looking and not touching. Seeing but not interacting. The idea of voyeurism conjures up a lot of negative connotations, but I think it is exceedingly appropriate here– especially in an age where privacy is flouted just as much as it is protected. There’s something kind of perverse about how most of us use Social Media. Every day we log on and trawl through updates of people we probably wouldn’t even think about were it not for this fairly unnecessary level of connectivity.

I’m in the age bracket where people start to have children. I’m sure having a child is the most precious thing in the world, and I’m sure when I have children I’ll want to share it with everyone I know. But at the same time, I find it almost unsettling that I’m being exposed to an enormous number of such life events by people I barely know and may never physically meet again. We invite people who are essentially strangers to share in our successes and failures, knowing that they probably don’t care. We watch people’s lives go by in our Newsfeeds and learn more about them than we care to know; but in many cases we wouldn’t even say hello if we passed them in the street.

And we still log on every day to do the same.

Looking but not clicking.

…Welcome to digital voyeurism.

So Why Should I Care About This?

It’s important to recognise who will be using your content and what they will be using it for. If you want to get a killer video out there; or you want more people to spread your latest blog post you need to think of ways to turn Voyeurs into Amplifiers, and Amplifiers into Super-Amplifiers. You might offer a prize for the 1000th Retweet or comment. You might reward commenters by commenting back with feedback. People like to know their opinions are being heard, and the more links you build on that personal level, the more people will connect with your company and the more they’ll come back. Get visitors active, and then reward their activity.
As a planet, we’ve never been so connected. The next stage for online commerce is activating the potential to interact with all of their potential customers. Things like Google Authorship are a step away from online anonymity and a stronger sense of community.

Put the effort into engaging the visitors to your site and you’ll see the benefits in no time.

googled

Joe Joe

November 27th, 2012.

Google Authorship: Your Agent, Promoter, and New Best Friend!


 

 

‘Google Authorship’. You’ve probably heard it being bandied around and if you haven’t taken the time to look into it, now’s your chance. Google Authorship will arguably prove to be the most significant tool for building rankings that Google has ever introduced; and if you’re smart about it, you can start benefiting immediately. This post will explain what it is, its implications and how to use it, so it’s a great place to start. Before we begin, it’s important to say that Authorship and AuthorRank are separate, but inescapably linked. Just like nobody ever talked about Tom without mentioning Jerry, it’s hard to talk about Authorship without thinking about AuthorRank.

 

What is Google Authorship?

Nutshell time!

Google Authorship is Google’s strategy of linking web authors to their online content. So anything you write online can be linked to your online profile (no prizes for guessing it’s your Google+ profile). Google haven’t officially said that this will lead to a writing-quality based ranking system; but they’ve implied it pretty heavily. In 2007, Google patented something called ‘Agent Rank’. You can take a look at the patent here , but if you’re not versed in patent law, Bill Slawski gives a pretty good run down over in February 2007.

Obviously we’re now spoiled by blogs explaining where they were going with this patent, but with the advent of Google+ and Authorship the theories are starting to become an impending reality.

Be Careful

It’s important to remember that Google Authorship and AuthorRank are separate entities.
You can read all about Authorship at the horse’s mouth; but broadly, it’s the link between authors and their content. AuthorRank is the rating system associated with this link. Authorship is in operation now. AuthorRank isn’t.

In a lot of press stuff the G-team has been saying the main focus of Authorship is to link authors to their content. Google Software Engineer, Othar Hansson appears to be obsessed with the fact that it puts your picture next to your post on SERPs and the psychological benefits of this in terms of connectivity. In his words, it’s Google’s way of ‘making the internet more human’. It’s a lovely sentiment, but cynical-old-me still thinks this is all part of the much bigger AuthorRank picture. And that’s not a bad thing. AuthorRank will be a great way of promoting online content based on the merit of its production and weeding out spammers. It punishes anonymity, but celebrates connectivity, and that’s surely a step in the right direction.
AuthorRank isn’t officially in use yet, but the buzz around it has become almost deafening and smart money is on it being run as an operational algorithm very soon.
But, back to Authorship…

Why should Authorship bother me?

Why shouldn’t it? This is the first chance we’ve been given to associate all of our online work in one centralised beacon. If, like me, you originally avoided the Google+ hype, change your mind now, or you might just get left behind.

There’s never been a better reason to join up. It will ensure you get the praise you deserve for the stuff you’ve written in your field of expertise by linking to similar articles you’ve written. In fact, that plan is already in action. Matt McGee has found that as soon as you’re finished reading an article by an author signed up to Authorship, you press ‘back’ on your browser and Hey, Presto! You’re presented with more articles on the same subject from the same author. This is the perfect type of promotion and will benefit your traffic in no time.

Pros and Cons of Authorship (and, inevitably, AuthorRank)

Let’s take a look at the effects Authorship could have on your business:

Pros
- Association with good writers and good content is bound to have a positive influence on your site’s PageRank. AuthorRank will undoubtedly go hand-in-hand with PageRank!
- People will be able to interactively see the merits of your site by clicking the author links on each post.
- Verified quality writers will encourage more people to link to your site. It’ll work wonders for Domain Authority.
- What if that writer who’s earned you all those Click-Throughs leaves? Well, they’ll always be tied to the domain that published their content. So even if they stop writing for you, as long as you both stay on top of your game, you’ll both benefit.
- You’ll get more Clicks because people will trust that smiling Rich Snippet of yours more than they trust a farmed-in link.
- People will be more willing to contact you with their thoughts. That means you’ll be able to engage more with your audience.
- Spammers will be much more easily identified. No Authorship will mean no verified author. Quality content will be rewarded.

Cons
- If you rely on one writer for a high ranking/readership and they leave, you’ll have to work extra hard to keep on top and stay fresh. But there’s nothing new there!
- Authorship can’t be attributed to your company, only to your writers.
- Authorship can’t be attributed to a team, only to ONE writer.
- It acknowledges the achievements of individual writers rather than a whole business.
(But the kudos is shared by association, so everyone’s a winner.)

One point which is a mix of a Pro and a Con: a lot of people have been reporting that their Rich Snippets have taken weeks or even months to show up. Generally, Google seems to giving it on a priority basis to people they think have earned it. That is, people who are getting a lot of traffic for a lot of posts. It seems a little harsh to begin with, but at least this way you know Authorship has truly been earned.

At face value, the pros seem to outweigh the cons; and the cons concerning companies benefiting from the writing of their employees seem to be part of an on-going morality battle. Is it OK for an employer to take credit for their employees work? That’s a question for another time on another blog. But in any case it would seem that Authorship unequivocally promotes and celebrates individualism and, to bang the Marxist drum, denies the power of anonymous corporatism.

How Can I Get On Board?

2 Things you’ll need for Authorship before you start out:

- Online Content (you already have that though, right?)
- A Google+ Profile!

I don’t have Google+!

Let’s start from the start. I’ll show you how to set up a Google+ profile from Scratch; using the perfect blank slate: me!

Step 1: We’ll pretend like none of us has a Google account and start from the front door. Head over to Google+

Step 2: Fill in the Details form

Step 3: After a verification process, you’ll be presented with this box:

Step 4: Get your photo up! This will be the photo used in your Author Rich Snippet.

Step 5… and Get Involved!

There are plenty of posts around the web that can give you a complete overview of what Google+ has to offer, but since this post is about Google Authorship I’ll leave you with one piece of advice:

Use Google+ as much as possible. The more you engage with your profile and the circles you build, the more you’ll gain from the service and the more strength you’ll have around the web.

So how do I link between my profile and my posts?

Well, there’s a lot of ways this can be done. The process can be quite confusing, but Rick DeJarnette gives a decent overview.

NB. It’s still a little jargony in places.
I’ll break it down as best I can in a second, but if the HTML stuff gets too much, feel free to watch this video of Matt Cutts and Bond-Villain-in-Waiting, Othar Hansson looking uncomfortable and explaining the HTML coding in very accessible terms.

For Sites with One Author:

If you have an email address on the same domain as your published work:

Step 1: Head over to the Authorship sign-up page and fill in the form.

Step 2: Click ‘Verify’ in the Verification Email.

Step 3: In the ‘Edit Profile’ section of your Google+ profile, you’ll now find you’re a ‘Contributor to’ the domain of the email.

Step 4: Start writing as much as possible at that domain. The more Google sees people are looking at your content, the more important Google thinks you are and the sooner you get your picture on the Search Page.

If you don’t have an email address on the same domain as your published work:

This may also be useful for posts in blogs where you’re a guest poster.

The best way in this case is to include a hyperlink with an HTML “rel=author” tag at the bottom of each page you write.

Basically, rel=”Author” is a way of telling Google that the author of this page is at the other end of this link.

The complete HTML link will look something like this:

<a href=”https://plus.google.com/101369752982717498462#101369752982717498462?rel=author”>Joe Shervell</a>

And behave something like this:

Joe Shervell

Now go back to ‘Edit Profile’ on your Google+ page and edit the ‘Contributor to’ section to include the site you posted to. It may be more beneficial to give the exact URL of the page, like this:

But reportedly listing the domain’s homepage will still work fine.

My site has multiple authors.

That’s ok, so does ours!

Step 1: Make sure you have a Bio Page set up for each writer. Something like this.

Step 2: Set up a Hyperlink from the Content Page to the Bio Page, but make sure you include our old friend, the rel=”author” tag.

Step 3: Set up a Hyperlink from the Bio Page to your Google+ profile, but this time include a rel=”me” tag. Simply put, Google will read this as you saying ‘this is me’.

Step 4: Head back to “Edit Profile” on your Google+ profile and enter the URL of the bio page in the “Contributor to” section.
That’s about the size of it!

But I use WordPress. What about me?

If you’re WordPress savvy then it’s really straight forward:

Step 1: Grab yourself a copy of a plugin like this one.

Step 2: Install it (It’s all explained in better detail right here)

Step 3: Fill in the information on your WordPress User Area.

Step 4: Keep posting and sharing and Google will notice you and give you your well-earned Rich Snippet.

So I’ve Set Up Authorship. Now What?

By setting up Authorship you’ve put yourself on Google’s radar as a writer, and that’s a huge step in the right direction. When AuthorRank does arrive, (and it’s not a matter of if, but when?) the more prestige you’ve earned as a writer, the better.

Use your Google+ profile to interact with your community of readers. Write about what you know, and write about it well. Google will see you as someone worthwhile in the field and give you a better rating in the rankings battle. This ‘writing about what you know’ is an important point. If you’re Noam Chomsky, then Google will recognise all the stuff you’ve written on Language Acquisition and if you decide to blog about it, you’ll be rewarded with high rankings based on your previous work. If you’re Noam Chomsky and you decide to write a blog post about Animal Husbandry in the Serengeti; you might not get the same level of respect.

That seems like an important point; one that I’m loathe to gloss over. Google Authorship can reward expertise. If you build a following and recognition as a writer in a certain field, then it will be reasonably safe for Google to assume that anything you write on that subject will be of a similar calibre. That’s not to discourage you from branching out into other fields; but if you do, make sure you have a community willing to accept that change or you might be punished by negative response.

To sum up neatly; Authorship is essential to let Google know you are a legitimate and quality writer who isn’t out to scam or spam. In the future, AuthorRank will come into the equation, and when it does, make sure you’re ready by building a big following and professional group now on Google+.

And even if we’re all wrong about AuthorRank… what’s the harm in having Google’s Seal-of-Approval on your work?

Martina Martina

August 11th, 2011.

[Infographic] – Which search engine holds the most weight?

Google, Google, Google…it’s all we talk about, it’s (possibly) all we care about in terms of SEO ranking and PPC ads, and some might say they even live in fear of it (you know, since the big bad Panda updates).

One thing we can’t argue with however, is its resourcefulness; it has “everything” one could need, making it so much more than just a search engine. It’s a machine.

Now that isn’t to say that Google can’t be annoying sometimes (infact an earlier post of mine focuses on just that *shakes fist* :x ) and familiarity breeds contempt after all, right?

Perhaps it’s because of its ‘one size fits all’ approach or perhaps it’s because of it’s dominance of the entire internet that causes people to look elsewhere for a search engine that fits their particular needs and that feels slightly more personal…in any case, I came up with this helpful infographic to help you decide:

Click image for the full HQ infographic

Use the following code to post the full infographic to your blog:
<a href=”http://picturepush.com/public/6293344″><img src=”http://www1.picturepush.com/photo/a/6293344/img/6293344.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”Image Hosted by PicturePush – Photo Sharing” /></a>

Martina Martina

July 25th, 2011.

How to create the perfect return-customer!

If you take a look at what you eat, where you shop or even what you wear, you’ll discover that the most effective brands and businesses in your life are successful because of their ability to keep you trapped in their rotating doors. You’ll buy that same beverage maybe twice a week, and go to that same supermarket at the end of each month- all because you’ve convinced yourself you like the design on the plastic bags, and the staff are friendly. Actually, there’s more to it and I’m about to tell you exactly what that is…

Brand evolution…

You frequent a brand because it grows with you and becomes something that understands you. For example, after McDonalds understood the issue the population began to have with societal obesity, they reduced portion size (although I blame inflation) and boosted the nutritional value of the food through the choice of ingredients used. This became acceptable to parents, who then were more inclined eat there with their families.

An example of an industry that arguably did not readily embrace evolution and suffered greatly as a result, is the music industry. After the birth of the digital age of music, illegal downloading and iTunes, the archaic business model of selling CD’s showed a huge decline in sales. Failing to catch on quickly enough meant that some artists suffered (and the customary private jet was downsized to a regular limousine).

Whatever your line of business, you need to understand the importance of evolving with the customer, if you sell tube-socks and make a great profit in winter, introducing a pop-sock range for the warmer months would mean that you have something to offer customers all year round. Alternatively, if your business is to provide SEO services (and you are doing this well) – then perhaps you could suggest Pay Per Click (PPC) services too.

Integrating, and actually wanting customers’ opinions…

When listening to a friend or colleague talk about something they care about, you always feel that little bit of gratification when they ask you your view on the subject and genuinely care about your answer. Imagine this never happened – if people talked at you, telling you their views and never asking about yours…you would get tired of listening to them, and they would eventually emigrate to a world of bias where only their opinion matters.

Feedback is a wonderful thing, and to guarantee any kind of success you need to be engaging the people whom that success relies upon. There are many ways this can be done such as market research, comments sections and incentives.

Personally, I dislike the emails I receive asking me to ‘spend 2 minutes’ of my time filling out a feedback form, but interestingly, when shopping online – the reviews section about the product I am interested in, is the first place I look before pressing the ‘checkout’ button. If you struggle to get feedback, try using incentives in exchange for it, offering a discount or a token for free software after a few important questions are answered, is a ‘quid-pro-quo’ way to dig out helpful information that could help you better your business.

Offering alternatives…

Nestle’s chocolaty awesomeness is far from limited. Nestle offer a range of sweets and treats making them one of the most popular and wealthy brands in the world. If Nestle was limited to just one chocolate bar, sure that bar of chocolate would taste good to those that enjoy it, but after years of just a milk chocolate bar, people would stray – they’d try praline, white chocolate, plain chocolate – and so on. If Nestle weren’t the ones to provide these different types, they’d be losing out on possible revenue and brand awareness.

The power of a brand comes from its ability to churn out good ideas and give people choice. This isn’t limited to types of product or service offered, your business alternatives should extend to forms of payment, methods of contact and more. Yes this is 2011, but believe it or not, some people prefer to send a postal-order or a cheque rather than use their credit or debit card online. Similarly, some people like to mail a letter to you rather than send you an email – and some people like to call you on the phone, instead of using Skype.

Being savvy is important, but it is important to remember that you could alienate a whole market simply by not catering for it. If you sell online, offer WorldPay, PayPal and the ability to pay by card – by doing so, shows customer consideration which is exactly what you need to do!

Avoiding over-saturation…

An unexpected text message from an old friend, is often the perfect segue for reconnecting, because sometimes it’s the subtleties in life that we enjoy the most. However ‘broadcast-message’ after Facebook invite from that annoying person you’d probably cross the street to avoid, will never get the attention they want. This is because there is an important difference between the two – in the first example, you feel as though that person put thought and care into the message and in the second, you feel undervalued, someone just making up the numbers.

Your business works the exact same way, its quality over quantity. Flooding prospective customers with emails about what their missing might cause them to report you as spam, and maybe even tell others to do the same. However, providing them with worthwhile information they may not already have gathered, might prompt them to subscribe to your blog, or enquire about your business.

Acknowledging loyalty…

Many businesses have cottoned onto the positive effects of personalisation, sending out post with only your first name as the title as if they’re your buddy, addressing you with “hi” rather than the traditional “Dear” and sending out seasonal gifts and confectionary. Even if it’s slightly corny and obviously not based on some fantastic rapport you have with them, they do it in hopes that you’ll feel appreciated causing them to stand out.

Even if a thousand others receive the exact same gift, unlike the Facebook invite example above and more like the Google+ invite in its beta stages – it makes you feel all special.  Using this method is an added charm, especially if the customer is new to you; it works almost as a reminder to them of their importance to you. Consistent use of this technique might eventually convince that customer that you are important to them, because you obviously ‘care’ about them enough to remember them personally.

Customers will keep coming back if they are fully catered to. Whilst I am not suggesting that if you are not doing all of the above perfectly, you will fail – including these tips into your already operating mode of business, will help boost ROI and customer satisfaction. A ‘win-win’ outcome! :-)

Matt

July 19th, 2011.

Ecommerce website content for SEO – what is it and are you wasting your time?

A phrase that you often hear being thrown about by SEOs is “content is king”, Although this is (arguably) true, I think that in many cases this just leads to commercial webmasters blindly adding low-quality content to their websites for the sake of it without really considering if it is beneficial to them in any way.

It is incredibly important to understand that different kinds of content act in different ways and using different types of content in different areas of your website can drastically influence traffic, sales and conversion rates.

The table below outlines the typical types of content that commercial websites may use and the likely impact on rankings, conversions and links.

Filler Blog Posts

Description

What I would term as ‘filler’ blog posts are often the first thing many people produce when asked to provide ‘SEO content’.   Frequently outsourced they often ask their writers to write low-quality bulk copy based around their range of products and services and then dump it all onto a blog attached to their domain.

While this kind of content by virtue of its sheer volume can sometimes produce visitors, it really is the SEO equivalent of a numbers’ game, and webmasters have recently seen Google move to reduce the effectiveness of this kind of mass produced content with the Panda updates.

This type of filler content almost always converts very poorly, it is of low quality and therefore generally results in a high bounce rate, also because visitors end up on an article page rather than a  product or category page you are relying on them to navigate quite a few pages before they reach your products.

That’s not to say that keeping and writing a company blog or news pages is going to harm your site in any way, but there is a large distinction to be made between in-house staff adding knowledgeable and informed content and an external agency using it as a dumping ground for keyword stuffed articles.

Examples

Rather than picking out and linking to any sites in particular I found the example below on a paydays loans site. As you can see, it’s not particularly compelling to visitors, fairly keyword heavy along with a lack of images and calls to action. I would expect a page like this to suffer from a very high bounce rate and a minuscule sales conversion rate.

Resources, FAQs And How To Guides

Description

Resource guides, cheat sheets and how to articles are brilliant sources of great quality content if you are an expert on a topic. Even if you’re not a  fountain of knowledge you can easily research topics well enough to write an influential guide for others.

The great thing about this type of content is that it tends to attract topical links from closely related sites over a longer period of time, and because of it’s text heavy nature and the number of links that it attracts you will find that these type of articles frequently rank very well for a wide range of generic and long-tail key phrases.

However this type of content isn’t often going to convert into sales directly, but the branding a link benefits often result in secondary traffic from SEO, brand recognition or word of mouth.

Examples

Yoast – WordPress SEO

Yoast is a very well-known SEO who specialises in WordPress, he wrote the definitive guide to WordPress SEO which attracted hundreds of topical links and social shares.

The Mashable Twitter Guide Book

Social media website Mashable launched a Twitter guide book in both an online and downloadable pdf versions.With an impressive 16k Tweets and over 5,000 links to date.


Linkbait

Description

Linkbait covers a wide rage of content types, and really encompasses anything that is specifically designed to elicit a link from other websites or more recently, sharing on social media websites. Linkbait can range from anything from a funny image or video, controversial views or interesting top 10 type lists.

Again SEO behaviour is very similar to resources and how-to guides, linkbait won’t often result in direct sales, but will often attract links far better than other types of content.

Examples

Will It Blend? iPad

A really clever viral video linkbait from Blendtec piggybacking onto aspirational nature of the Apple iPad, while using the shock of destroying one to send it viral.

Berocca – Blogger Relief

Berocca used a free giveaway in conjunction with a blogger outreach programme in order to directly target the linkerati themselves. Using social media to promote the campaign and the the bloggers themselves to spread the word.

 

Infographics

Description

Strictly speaking inforgraphics would probably fall within the linkbait category, but I think their usage is now so widespread that they deserve a mention on their own.

Infographics are an attractive, visual presentation of statistics and data, however they are often criticised for over-simplifying data and not indicating facts are clearly as possible.

Scientific they are not, but they do tend to be viral magnets, people seem to be far more willing to link to or share data presented as an infographic that other forms of information.

Examples

Profile Of A Twitter User

Taking inspiration from a Guy Kawasaki tweet NG Online News put together this quirky infographic that spread like wildfire on Twitter.

The Spread Of Starbucks

Princeton University in conjunction with Flaming Toast Productions created a really interesting infographic detailing the spread of Starbucks coffee shops worldwide.

Optimised Product Copy

Description

I think that well optimised product copy is one area where many eCommerce websites are really missing a trick. You see so many with short inadequate product and category descriptions, or sometimes missing altogether. It’s all very well adding 2-3 keywords to your title tags, meta descriptions and H1 titles, but given the opportunity there is a wealth of long-tail keywords that you could also have the opportunity of getting traffic from.

Of course there are often design and branding implications that often limit the copy available on a page, but it really is worth trying to work through these issues in order to try to offer more extensive page copy. Being able to answer sales queries before they arise will also improve conversion rates and reduce the time your staff spend answering telephone or email queries.

Taking a fictitious example of a website with a category page selling toasters. You may expect to have optimised the page for key phrases such as Toaster, Sandwich Toaster etc. But if you did a little keyword research around the topic you could probably pull in  a few hundred other phrases that were used in conjunction with “toaster” each month. In this example the full list is over 400 phrases long.

Passing this list onto your copywriter and asking them to include these secondary phrases in the body text on product and category pages will have a huge impact on relevant long-tail traffic and sales to the site.

In terms of a financial impact, for example a website that has a modest 200 products, even adding 5 extra visitors per day to each product page will result in an extra £164,250 in increased revenue assuming a £30 average sale and a 1.5% conversion rate.

Examples

Simply one of the best product pages that I have ever seen is at Firebox. Product pages are immensely detailed, well written and optimised so each one should receive a large amount of long-tail keyphrase traffic. They have also incorporated social media voting, comments, videos and user reviews and FAQs. This is almost perfect in terms of creating a huge amount of content on normally difficult to optimise product pages.

Breaking News

Description

Being first to breaking news is a great way of going viral without too much effort. Of course it’s not easy to be first to the punch, but if you have inside knowledge and the ability to publish before others you will often find that you get cited and referenced on other websites that write subsequent articles.

Examples

One of the best examples of the power of breaking news is Gizmodo managing to break details of the next Apple iPhone when a prototype was lost in a bar. The story received a massive 245,000 Facebook likes and almost 10,000 links.

UGC And Reviews

Description

UGC content for eCommerce sites is really a no brainer for most sites these days. Being relatively easy to implement on most eCommerce platforms and easy to promote using reminder and follow-up emails to recent customers.

Where UGC really comes into it’s own is in competing for long-tail search phrases. Often your customers may use non-industry terms and phrases that you haven’t included in your original page optimisation.

Examples

Argos along with most large online retailers have been encouraging user product reviews on their websites for some time. Users as well as being able to leave star ratings for products are encouraged to leave more detailed text descriptions and reviews.

Widgets and Badges

Description

Although widgets and badges tend to fall far more into the off-site SEO remit I think they’re an important enough part of a promotion stratgey that they can fall into both on and off page strategies.
Often these can be used in conjunction with other content strategies such as generating top 100 lists of industry sites and asking those in the list to link back, or producing infographics with easy embed codes.

Examples

AdAge Digital produce a “Power 150″ of the top 150 worldwide marketing blogs. Members of the list can of course download versions of the badge to use on their blogs and Facebook pages.

Link Acquisition Rates

The graph below shows the typical link acquisition rates that you would expect to see over time from different types of content. The vertical axis represents the level of activity (links and social shares) and the horizontal axis the phase in the content cycle.

Content types such as infographics tend to attract a lot of links very quickly as they usually perform well on social bookmarking sites and get embedded on related blogs. This activity usually tails-off over time.

Compare this to content such as resources and how-to articles, which if well written then often sharing activity increases over time, and in the long-term can be a stable source of good quality links.

Conclusions

The main takeaways are that although content is vital to eCommerce websites, it has to be the right kind of content used in the right way. The best content strategy is one that is diverse and encompasses many of the above methods rather than focusing on one particualar one.

Martina Martina

May 10th, 2011.

How to turn bounces to boomerangs!

Are your bounce rates extremely high? Does Google Analytic’s show that people are only spending a very short time on your site before leaving? Loyalty rates low?  As a web-master if you face any of these issues, read on for some tips on how to overcome them:

Have some “me” time



Link to your site – on your site. The more links your website includes to the pages on your site the better. The simple logic behind it is this, when these links are clicked, they lead to another area of your site. This means people will be hanging around longer, seeing what else there is to see rather than being lead off to other places online or simply leaving altogether.

Opt for quality over quantity


What would you rather:
(a) thousands of visitors daily who stumble onto your site & realise they have been duped by your misleading ad causing them to instantly leave and grumble about wasted online browsing (which would result in high CTRs, virtually no conversions and an extremely high bounce rate).
OR
(b) a consistent amount of daily visitors who spend a little longer on your site browsing and hopefully converting?

The point of this rhetorical question is relevance. A person wanting to buy household goods for interior design, finding your site through an ad suggesting household goods for interior design before discovering what you actually sell are gardening products, will leave. You may be happy about a high CTR but remember, you are paying for every click in a CPC campaign and every thousand impressions in a CPM one; be specific.

Avoid mazes, nobody likes those


The origins of the internet arguably date back to the 19th century, yet 2 centuries later people still create websites with awful navigability leaving the average web surfer frustrated enough to give up searching for whatever it is they wanted on that particular site and going elsewhere. If you want people to stay, you must make each section of your site clear and easy to get to, it wouldn’t matter if you had the most wonderful web content available if people didn’t know it was there.

Get the right look


Using Google Adsense is one great way to bring some extra revenue. When people come to your site and you have too many ads, links to here & there, misspellings, dodgy looking logo’s/pictures, flashing animations and the like…they leave. These things are annoying and really count towards (or in this case against) customer confidence. Try Google’s ’website optimiser’ – a tool that allows you to test different versions of your site to help decide what the best version is.

Incentives and interaction


Incorporate things into your site that people want to spend time doing, this could include anything from quizzes, polls, questions, comments areas, forums, things to rate, games etc (I could keep listing things but I think you get the point).

Good luck! :-)

Martina Martina

February 23rd, 2011.

Why it is now impossible to rank as #1 in search engines…

The evolution of the Internet shows the constant change in the way search engines fetch you the information you want when you put in a query. Gone are the days, when a uniform set of results would pop up irrespective of who you are, where, when and how you searched a particular term.

One such example was just 2 years ago in the huge viral campaign for the blockbuster movie ‘2012’. The online marketing behind this movie was so clever that consumers were told to “just search 2012” in a search engine, as part of the teaser. Indeed if they did, a quick search in Google would return about 1, 000 websites and over 150 books based on the idea that 2012 marked – the end. Scary!

Localised and Personalised results.

Two years later, things have changed. With Google collecting just about every smidgen of information available to them from the online user, they have found away to return results that are ultra personalised all depending on the users’ settings. This is great in terms of relevance. For example, a Londoner living in Chelsea putting in a search for “local plumbers” or even just “plumbers” would be in for a treat. Google would collect her I.P. address which would determine roughly which area the search has come from, her domain name, (which in this case would be ‘.co.uk’), and even the similar searches that have been carried out in the past, to finally come up with some options that would best relate to that user.

This seems great for the person wanting a local plumber. But is it great? The answer is yes…and no – and here’s why:

  • It causes some businesses or products to not be shown, limiting the users opportunity to try something new/go somewhere else.
  • Other businesses might not draw customers from certain locations because they are not being shown in results.
  • Most importantly: nobody ranks number one!

Blended results

Blended results further add to this difficulty of ranking at the very top of your field. These are integrated in the results that are returned when you search any particular term. For example we already know that a search for “local plumbers” combines a series of data to produce personalised results. Blended results are the effect of vertical search engines gathering information. For example in Google, there are additional tabs you can click to get certain results: (images, news, books, blogs etc.) These are placed adjacently between organic results. So you might search “plumber” and return: 1. A Google page listing of a local plumber, 2. The Wikipedia definition for the word, 3. A directory result and 4. An image of a plumber (just kidding on this one :-) but you get the idea.)

Therefore ranking at number one is not really generic. This doesn’t mean however, that you can’t rank at the top for your field if you utilise tools such as Google AdWords and create a very powerful and successful campaign with all the right keywords. After all, you only need to appeal to the intended audience, and this is exactly what Google assists in doing!

Happy Searching.

Martina Martina

December 2nd, 2010.

The nature of the ‘NoFollow’ tag… and some reasons you should avoid it.

Blog spamming is inevitable. It occurs when people post numerous links within comments sections in a blog article with the intention of readers of that article scrolling down to the comments bit to add their two pennies worth, seeing these links posted by other “readers” of that article and clicking on those links.

Whilst this is unfortunate for the blog owner, since many of these links drive traffic elsewhere, there is one proposed solution to this, and it goes by the name of the ‘NoFollow’ tag (written in HTML as (rel=”nofollow”)) – its one aim? To block search engines from following such links in comments.

Problem solved right? … Wrong! Regardless of the intention of the tag there is one overarching issue here – spammers haven’t hung up their spamming hats just yet, so if the tag does little or nothing to stop spam, ultimately it has failed.

Here are 5 more reasons why the NoFollow is a NoGo:

  • It’s Pointless - It doesn’t work. Spammers still spam. If you want don’t want spam then perhaps you should use an(other) anti-spam tool such as ‘math’ alongside useful plug-ins like ‘SpamKarma’.
  • It’s Pointless – The use of ‘NoFollow’ in comments on WordPress blogs (which are widely used) is default, hence – you may already be using it.
  • It’s Pointless - There is no value, in terms of search engine indexing, & if the search engine indexes can’t find your link, and having many indexed links is your aim (and it is) then there is no point.
  • It’s Selfish – Leaving a comment on another’s blog post is a nice thing to do and the right comment can even lead to more comments. If someone takes the time to do this for you, why not give back a little. Sharing is caring.
  • It’s … Pointless – Guess what, Search Engines such as Yahoo, actually follow ‘NoFollow’ tags and have been known to count them as back-links in SiteExplorer. So, if you’re goal in comment spamming is to build such back-links in the hopes of building your site’s value … NoFollow is of no use to you here either.

The choice is yours…choose wisely.

Martina Martina

November 2nd, 2010.

The importance of blogging regularly.

Blogging regularly is important for many reasons. The most obvious being that if your want to retain a degree of professionalism (assuming your blog is not a personal one) then it looks better if you are continuously finding new and interesting things for your audience to read.

Honestly, how eager are you to get involved with a company or a business through its website, when you visit its blog and see that the ‘most recent’ entry has a date stamp of 6 months ago…?

Besides, there are some little gems you may be sacrificing if you neglect your company’s blog – such as:

Being fresh and innovative!

A blog post is an article that varies in length, can be about anything you want and is usually beneficial to the target audience it was written for.  Through blogging, you can use it to encourage people, persuade them or simply to entertain them. Why lose out on something this beneficial? If you are a company or a business that has something you are trying to sell, your blog is the place to do this!

Being seen!

If you want to improve your chances of being visible in search engines (and you do) then well structured posts are essential. A great post can start to rank in search engines over time and could potentially bring in web traffic to your website. (For tips on how to write a great post you can read my earlier article titled ‘Successfully guest posting on A-list blogs’)

Being communicative & media savvy!

Simply because blogging and social media marketing must coexist when it comes to marketing a business, communication is essential.

Social communities, such as Twitter, Digg, and Facebook among others, can be used as a platform for your blog, and so being a consistent (but quality) blogger could create the opportunity for more traffic to find drive its way to your blog. Perhaps most importantly, through these social networks you could gather new business opportunities.

Being heard!

Blogging is a way to explain to your readers who you are as a company. Distancing yourself from the competition is what your brand and your website will attempt to do, but a blog can add that extra panache needed to make your business really stand out. Much like a chronicle, your blog can be how you document the goings on in your company – which will give allow it to develop a voice and a personality.

So blog & blog often!

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