Friday, January 23, 2015

5 Small Business Tips On Social Media Optimization

The notion of social media optimization was conceived in a blog in 2006 by Rohit Bhargava. This was before Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram and Google+ existed. And before Facebook launched the numerous features it now offers. And yet, it completely revolutionized the way marketers used social media.
Eight years down the line and social media optimization continues to be as important now as it was then. This is true for large corporations and small business alike. In this article we’ll be delving deeper into social media optimization for small businesses and passing on insider tips and secrets the professional use.

What is Social Media Optimization?

Social media optimization, SMO or Social SEO is the use of social channels to increase awareness of a brand, product or service. Such channels include social media platforms, bookmarking sites and blogs.
SMO is similar to search engine optimization as it involves creating and publishing carefully tailored content. However, the focus is on customer enjoyment and engagement rather than algorithm-pleasing tactics. The goal of SMO is to produce content that users will want to share across social networks.
For many marketers, the aim might be to achieve a kind of viral publicity, but SMO can be effective on a more subtle level. This is good news if you want to stay away from cat videos or witty Twitter banter with your competitors.

Should I Bother with SMO?

Good question. Why should you bother with SMO when there are a hundred other ways to market your brand?
As Dustin Stout explains in this post; “Social proof is now being factored into search engine rankings. There are various studies that have been done on this, but all of them agree that the more social shares a website or blog post has, the better it is likely to rank.”
There you have it, other people’s activity on social networks and in the blogosphere can have a serious impact on your website’s rankings; search engines are now taking cues from how people react to your content on Facebook, Twitter and the like. Not only does social sharing increase brand awareness in an organic way off-site, but it actively helps your on-site SEO efforts.
Now we’ve got you all fired up about SMO, here are five tips for small businesses so you can start implementing it today.

5 Tips for Small Businesses

1. Create Irresistible Content

Produce content that users feel they absolutely must share with the world. Provide insight, answer burning questions, use humor and above all, be human; it will help readers feel that connection that compels them to share.
Long-form blog posts have their place, but visual content performs better on Facebook than text and links. We can safely assume that the same can be said for Google+ and thanks to the recent addition of in-stream images, Twitter. The following infographic by M Booth and Simply Measure reveals the true impact of visuals.
M Booth Infographic
                                                            (USA IT COMPANY)

2. Make it Easy to Share Your Content

Let’s assume the average visitor to your website is time-limited. They spot a great infographic and think “Jane would find this useful”. They can connect with Jane by Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and email. But the visitor is on their phone, which makes it difficult to copy and paste the URL, and there are no visible sharing buttons on the page. They decide to send Jane the link later, when they’re at the computer, but forget.
Don’t lose out on potential engagement and awareness; make it quick and easy for users to share your content at the click of a button. Check out the buttons in any of this blog posts, they even give a tally of Tweets, Likes and Shares.
Social Sharing Buttons

3. Be Sociable

It is important that you, the owner of a business, engage with your audience. Networking will be your most powerful tool in the fight for SMO supremacy. So connect with fellow experts, customers and prospects in your blog community and on social media. In addition, comment, like, retweet and plus one other people’s content, you might just find they return the favor.
It is especially important that you respond to customers. They have taken the time to share their thoughts on your blog post or comment on an update, so recognize that with gratitude.

4. Share Your Own Content

In order to reach the widest audience possible, you need to share your content on as many platforms as possible.
In his updated version of the original post that sparked the SMO revolution, Bhargava talks about sharing content in a different way. He suggests going further than just posting a link on Facebook or adding your infographic to Pinterest. “This encompasses everything from creating slides to post on Slideshare or documents to share on Scribd – as well as tweeting about your content or offering embeddable versions of it, or using RSS feeds to syndicate it.”

5. What NOT to Do

To round off this list of tips, we would like to discuss an SMO tactic you should avoid at all costs; excessive link dropping.
Link dropping is a bit like name dropping; fine in moderation, but pretentious, frustrating and distasteful in excess. You may think that joining every Facebook group and Google+ community to post endless links to your content will increase traffic and improve your SMO, but it will actually achieve quite the opposite. You may find yourself blocked from groups, unfollowed by colleagues and reported as spam. The damage to your reputation could be monumental.
Alternatively, consider joining a few select groups and engaging with the conversation in a meaningful manner. Provide your input, but only share links to your own content when it is relevant, and even then show some restraint.

What Next?

If you’re not using SMO to market your business and boost your search engine ranking, you should be. And now you know the ins and outs of SMO, there really is no excuse. The five tips listed above will give you a head start, so get to work today.
If you’re a bit of an SMO aficionado, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Share your own tips in the comments below!

Where Does Search Fit in Digital Marketing in 2015?


What does search fit in your digital marketing program? If you answered ‘with the SEO department’, you’re certainly not alone, as many marketers and businesses owners still use the traditionally siloed approach to search marketing, leaving the SEO folks to do their work, separate from the social, paid and content marketing teams.
However, in the ultra-competitive world of search marketing, integration of tactics under a unified digital marketing strategy is becoming more important than ever.
Similar to mobile accessibility, 2015 is the year when integration of search with the overall digital marketing strategy will increasingly move from a ‘nice to have’ to an essential. Brands that embrace an integrated approach will be rewarded.

Owning Mindshare

A key objective of any digital marketing initiative should be to create or strengthen associations between your brand and relevant topics, opinions and feelings. Whether it’s a blog post, Yelp review, Facebook status, Google Places Profile or YouTube video, any and all touch points that people have with your brand content are an opportunity to leave a lasting impression and motivate future actions (like becoming a customer).
Capturing mindshare for your brand’s key topics means your content needs to reach the right people, at the right time and leave a lasting positive impression. In other words, you need to be the best answer.
But first, you need to understand the question, who is asking and how. Then it’s simply a matter of translating (optimizing) your content into the language your potential customers are already using (or may use in the future).
Search marketing is a perfect solution to this challenge because it seeks to both understand the question and provide the best answer, where it will be found.
Capturing Mindshare with Search Marketing

Why Let Search Reap all the Benefits?

Just because search marketing holds the keys to understanding and reaching your target audience doesn’t mean its principles and best practices can’t benefit other areas of your digital marketing department.
There are variations between channels in how people discover great brand content and the formats they prefer, but there is most certainly consistency in their core questions and pain points whether they are on Twitter or using a search engine. Tweaking the format and optimization elements to fit the channel makes perfect sense; altering the key message does not.
Below are just a few examples of how a solid search marketing strategy can benefit other tactics.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a huge opportunity for the application of search marketing best practices, most notably keyword strategy. Given the incredible volume of content on any of the popular social networks today, people are using search functionality to navigate and find what they’re looking for more than ever.
As with organic search, including relevant keywords in your social content and profiles greatly increases the chances of being seen by the right audience at the right time on social channels. In addition, optimized social content is increasingly being indexed and found in organic search, in particular if it’s posted to Google+ or Twitter.

Offline Events

Thanks to live blogging, event hashtags, live feeds and the near ubiquitous smartphone, there may not be any truly ‘offline’ events or content anymore, which is why it’s important to consider search in your event strategy.
Your event related content should align closely with your search strategy, including pre-promotional materials, booth promotions, presentation and interview transcripts, videos, social messages and downloadable materials. 

PR and Earned Media

Regardless of whether press releases and other ‘earned media’ content lives on your website or externally, it’s a no-brainer to make sure it’s optimized in a manner consistent with your search strategy.
Earned media mentions from credible third party sources can be very effective at influencing brand perception, particularly when they show prominently in relevant searches (i.e. for keywords and topics that sync up with your content strategy).
Granted, generally you won’t have the same level of control compared to ‘owned media’ but if the balance of your brand content is well optimized per your keyword messaging strategy, that is likely to influence the way your company is talked about by third party influencers, which increases the chances of earned media being on topic.

Universal Search Optimization

Most marketers know that ranking above the fold on page one in either natural or universal search for a keyword can do wonders for traffic and brand awareness, but did you know that the combination of appearing prominently in both natural and universal results can significantly increase these effects?
In fact, according to research from Google and Search Engine Land, this potent combination results in a 30% increase in brand awareness, perception of brand quality and purchase consideration.
In order to achieve this highly coveted ‘one two punch’ of search visibility, it’s critical to make sure any brand assets (e.g. images, videos, news content) are optimized consistently with your overall website search keyword strategy to give them the best chance of gaining visibility for consistent search topics.
These are just a few examples, but the point is that there really isn’t an area of digital marketing that search marketing best practices can’t benefit (please feel free to dispute that in the comments).
Universal Plus Organic Search Rankings

Live Together, Die Alone

Like the cast of the recently popular show “Lost,” a digital marketing department plays host to a varied cast of characters with different skills and motivations, who may not always get along.
In order to survive and thrive, it’s necessary to put differences aside and align towards a common goal. Allowing your digital marketing tactics to set up their own independent camps deep in the jungle of your company is asking for a war.
Digital Marketing Jungle
Here’s to 2015 being the year we fully integrate search into digital marketing.
Where does search fit into your 2015 marketing plan?
Want to learn more? Hear Evan speak about using SEO to improve search visibility at the PRNews Google Conference in San Francisco on February 11th.

Social Media Advertising for Content Marketers: Insight from Salesforce’s ‘2015 State of Marketing’ report

Social Media Advertising
Salesforce recently released its annual “State of Marketing” report, in which the company surveyed 5,000 marketers worldwide. Results of the survey point toward a significant investment in social media advertising in 2015.
According to the CRM company’s report (gated download), 70% of marketers will spend more budget on social media advertising this year. As numbers of customers on social channels increases, it is increasingly imperative, as the survey results show, to have a social media marketing strategy in place.
It is clear that digital marketers are increasingly valuing social media advertising to help promote their content marketing efforts. In 2014, 25% of marketers saw social as a critical enabler of products and services. The number leaps to 64% in 2015.
Social media overall is on the rise in both SMBs and large corporations. The 44-page Salesforce report says that 78% of marketers stated that they have a dedicated social media team. This number is up from just 57% in 2014. As digital marketers focus more on social media, it is important stay abreast of the reach and power of social networks.
Here is a look at the top three:


Salesforce’s report showed that Facebook had continued to be “the most popular social channel for marketers to engage customers around the world.” With 1.35 billion active monthly users on Facebook as of Sept. 2014, B2B marketers are increasingly looking to Facebook to engage with their audience.
Here are a few stats to keep in mind:
80% of marketers are using Facebook
74% of marketers use Facebook to engage customers
73% rated Facebook ‘very effective’
19% rated Facebook ‘somewhat effective’
8% rated Facebook ‘not very effective / not effective at all’
Facebook is by far no stranger to B2B marketers, even though some still think it’s a place to connect with high school classmates. Facebook for business offers tips for getting started with Facebook advertising. Both B2C and B2B marketers will find resources to help you on your way to create awareness, launch products and services and drive sales. Facebook also offers tips specific to advertising on the social network.
Targeting options help Facebook advertisers reach not only the consumer audience that B2C marketers are after, but the B2B audience as well. Targeting by interests, connections, behaviors and location can help B2C marketers reach an audience that is more likely to include key buyers and decision makers they are after.
The video marketing service Wistia seeks to reach a B2B audience with this ad:
Wistia ad sample


Second to Facebook is the micro-blogging social network Twitter. Marketers using Twitter totalled 70% of those surveyed for the 2015 report. However, Twitter ranks higher than Facebook in terms of use by marketers to engage with buyers. Salesforce’s survey showed that 79% of Twitter users engage customers on the platform, more than Facebook’s 74%.
More numbers about Twitter:
68% of marketers rate the platform ‘Very effective / effective’
22% say Twitter is ‘somewhat effective’
10% say Twitter is ‘Not very effective / not at all effective’
Twitter’s 284 million monthly active users also serve as a target-able audience for digital marketers in both B2C and B2B roles. Twitter offers campaigns that work in a number of capacities, depending on your objectives. Twitter ads (some still in beta) can:
  • Grow followers
  • Facilitate conversations
  • Encourage app downloads
  • Collect email addresses
Twitter ads also can feature in-stream video as well as clickable offers. Twitter cards allow marketers to attach media experience to Twitter ads. In the example below, Uberflip uses a Twitter card to gather email addresses for a free eBook download.
uberflip ad sample


When LinkedIn (a TopRank Marketing client) announced in 2014 that it was going “all in on content marketing” it resonated with marketers. LinkedIn has developed platforms that allow for the promotion of sponsored content. LinkedIn has used content marketing itself to promote the network’s ability to connect B2B marketers and buyers. LinkedIn’s collection of eBooks and videos have helped marketers understand the possibility of reaching a B2B audience.
LinkedIn’s numbers from the 2015 Salesforce report:
62% of marketers are currently using LinkedIn
69% call LinkedIn ‘Very effective / effective’
21% of marketers say LinkedIn is ‘Somewhat effective’
10% of marketers say that LinkedIn is ‘Not very effective / not at all effective’
Through LinkedIn sponsored updates, marketers are reaching a B2B user-base that is highly in tune with the business of the day. Rarely are LinkedIn users on the network to be social. The focus is careers, networking and industry insight.
Adobe uses LinkedIn to raise awareness of digital marketing solutions through sponsored updates.
Adobe ad sample
Many more social channels
Every time a social media network pops up on the scene, there is no doubt savvy marketers will look for the best way to utilize that network. Social network advertising and engagement  to catch up with a buyer base in order to raise awareness and drive buyers toward their products or services. While the top three networks mentioned above are just the tip of the social network mountain, there are certainly others to keep an eye up with, from standards such as YouTube, Google+ and Instagram, to Snapchat and other messaging apps.
Have you found luck reaching your audience through social media? If so, tell us about your experience. If you would like more information about how TopRank Online Marketing can help you reach these audiences, reach out to us here.

USA IT COMPANY : Google and SEO Don’t Actually Change that Much

This post is going to sound like clickbait to some, irrational to others, and probably sane to only a handful of practitioners, but I think it’s a frequent and important enough topic to put out there anyway. Almost every time I’m interviewed about SEO or asked about the practice at a conference, I’m asked “how can I keep up with SEO when the algorithms are changing all the time?” There are three assumptions inherent in this question that I want to challenge:
  1. Doing SEO well at any level requires keeping up with the day-to-day changes and minutiae
  2. Algorithm changes are the primary (and/or only) thing that changes SEO
  3. SEO practices are actually changing or need to change due to algorithmic updates
I think all three assumptions are false. Here’s why.
#1 – At the most tactical level of keyword research, content creation, site auditing, link building, and technical SEO, it could be argued that keeping up with SEO is essential to getting the most out of your work. However, most folks who interact with SEO aren’t doing all of those things all of the time. In fact, I’d wager that the vast majority of marketing and web professionals who interact with SEO do so tangentially – web developers who want to create sites and pages that follow best practices, marketing leaders who want to craft or execute an SEO strategy, copywriters and bloggers who need to create search-friendly content, public relations professionals trying to insure their contributions maximize SEO benefit, etc.
For these roles, having a solid grasp of SEO that’s a few months or even a year behind the very latest trends will rarely be harmful. Perhaps they’ll not realize that the Google+ authorship program has disappeared and maintain that markup. Or maybe they’ll ignore bad links pointing to their sites rather than disavowing them in Webmaster Tools. It can be hard to admit as someone who pays attention to the day-to-day changes of SEO and often feels like that world is in constant upheaval, but there are a lot of very successful sites following 4-5 year SEO best practices and doing remarkably well.
#2 – Yes, the algorithms that power rankings change all the time. But they are consistently going in a direction they’ve been headed in for nearly two decades. Google wants to return the best, most relevant, most trustworthy, fastest solution to searchers’ queries. Google’s definitions of  “relevant,” “best,” and “most trustworthy” almost never change*. Thus, if you’re optimizing to the destination of the algorithms, rather than the specific point of the algorithms’ progress today, you’ll be close to maximizing your benefit while minimizing the need for extra work.
It’s a lot like how autopilot navigation systems work. At any given point in a given flight’s journey between, say, Seattle and Philadelphia, the plane is actually off-course.  If it continued in that precise direction indefinitely, it would not reach Philadelphia, and would, instead, run out of fuel in Nova Scotia or Florida. But, through a series of tiny, frequent course corrections, the plane manages to get to Philly via a surprisingly optimal overall path. Google functions the same way – the little course corrections along the journey are myriad and many of them are fascinating** but if you’re optimizing for the eventual destination, your strategy is unlikely to require much updating as the course corrections manifest.
#3 – When SEO best practices do change, my experience has been that it often has much less to do with algorithmic changes and much more to do with changes in human behavior, particularly around how we use the web. The emergence of social media marketing as a major strategic component of SEO didn’t happen because Google suddenly started counting Facebook likes & shares. It happened because hundreds of millions of people started using Facebook as a major discovery, sharing, and interaction platform. Responsive and adaptive design for mobile didn’t come into being because Google biased their algorithm to reward mobile-friendly design. They became best practices because mobile adoption and use skyrocketed. Same with everything from content marketing to video to paid amplification through content syndication networks.
Some SEO practices really do change based on Google’s shifts. Keyword stuffing died out long ago because Google stopped rewarding it. Many forms of link acquisition, for example, have become far too risky to invest in because Google’s become so aggressive about penalizing sites that engage in these practices. But, I’d argue that this takes us back to point #2 above. If you were targeting Google’s destination, rather than their point in the journey, most of these algorithmic shifts didn’t affect your approach much, if at all.
Let me be totally clear – if you’re an SEO professional, it’s your job to keep up to date with the nuances, and to be able to understand and explain the micro-shifts occurring in the field. And, yes, Google and SEO do change all the time, but it’s those course corrections that are changing, not the destination***.
That’s why I think it’s both counter-intuitive and simultaneously sane to say that for most people who are not hardcore SEO professionals in the trenches, SEO isn’t changing from day to day or even week to week – at least, not in a way that requires their devout attention. Reading a roundup of news every week (e.g. Moz’s Top 10 or Searchcap)  is something I’d still nudge you to do, but it might even be overkill depending on your role or needs.
Say you’re a small business owner who does a lot of marketing and customer acquisition via the web. Organic search sends between 40-70% of your web traffic. But SEO is only one small aspect of your overall workload.
In the scenario above, do you really need to know that…
If you are an SEO professional, you should be living and breathing this stuff. Those of us deep in the field sometimes can be early adopters of a process/tool/data source/platform/algo shift and benefit from knowledge of those micro-shifts. Hopefully, it’s not just your job, but your passion, and finding out new information about how search works, how social media platforms are changing, how the web ecosystem is changing fills you with a sense of learning and accomplishment. But, if you’re that small business owner, you can pretty well ignore those five things.
I’d take this even further.
If, in 2004, you balanced SEO best practices with usability/user experience needs and created a site with content that was optimal for people and engines, you probably had an SEO strategy that would still work today. You might need to make updates, especially with regards to your tactics for earning awareness (taking into account the rise of social networking), for optimizing to multiple devices (instead of just multiple browsers), and to keep your UI/UX enjoyable for modern users, but strategic-level SEO wouldn’t need nearly as much of a shift as these others.
Here’s a checklist I made a couple months ago, in August 2014, that featured in a recent presentation:
This same checklist could have been made in 1998 or 2004 or 2010. The words might have carried a slightly different meaning, but to me, the shocking part is how consistent our high-level, best practices have remained.
* One might argue that Google’s become more brand biased/domain-biased rather than the page-level-centric model they started with, but I’d counter that, if they’d had the technology, horsepower, and experience to pursue brand/domain-biasing in 1998, they’d have started out that way.
** And, yes, some of these course corrections actually take the algo more off-course, and as such, can be temporarily exploited.
*** The only potential caveat to this is the possible shift in Google’s destination from providing answers sourced from other sites to a willingness to provide the answers themselves. That strategy started only a few years after Google did (as early as 2003/4 from what I recall), but it was, arguably, slightly different than the prior destination.
USA IT COMPANY (Mobile Application development USA)