Archive for January, 2011

Social Media Guidelines

January 25th, 2011 by Jessica Runberg

For a word nerd like me, 2010 was a big year. It was the first time that the AP Stylebook officially included social media guidelines. What are social media guidelines? Basically, AP defined
what social media is and how journalists should use social media in their work—grammatically and otherwise.

Read on for a summary of the newest social media entries now officially recognized by the Associated Press.

app Short for application. A program that runs inside another service. Customers can download hundreds of applications on their iPhone. App is acceptable on second reference.

crowdsourcing The practice of asking a large collection of individuals online to help gather information or produce ideas. A journalist may use Twitter to crowdsource ideas for an article.

fan, follow, friend Actions by which users connect to other users on social networks. You friend people on Facebook, you like businesses on Facebook (until recently, you became a fan of businesses) and you follow people and businesses on Twitter. Acceptable as nouns and verbs.

Google, Gooling, Googled Google is a trademark for a Web search engine. Google, Gooling and Googled are used informally as a verb for searching for information on the Internet. Always capitalized.

microsite A tightly focused group of Web pages typically dedicated to a single topic, product or service.

retweet The practice, on Twitter, of forwarding a message or link from someone else to your followers. Spelled out in all references, though common usage on Twitter abbreviates to RT.

search engine optimization Any of a number of methodologies used to ensure that online content shows up in search engines such as Google, thus increasing traffic to the content. SEO is acceptable on second reference.

unfriend To remove someone from a list of friends, usually on Facebook. Also defriend, an acceptable but less common usage.

This is just a sampling of some of the latest social media entries. You have to love the AP Stylebook!

How to Create Online Content Worth Reading

January 24th, 2011 by Allison Yagesh

Writing online content is different from print because online audiences typically have shorter attention spans—an infinite amount of possibilities are just one click away. Here are five tips to keep their attention:

1. Establish a Goal and Achieve It

Every word on the page should have a purpose. Whether you are selling a product or service or you are trying to educate the audience, be sure to clearly establish your content goals before writing. This will give your content direction and clarity.

2. Answer Questions

To achieve content goals, you need to answer vital questions to give the audience a reason to pay attention. Anticipate questions or stick to the basics by answering a few news-style questions: who, what, where, when, why and how.

3. Eliminate the Unnecessary

Online audiences have notoriously short attention spans. Get to the point quickly and cut unnecessary filler words and phrases. Get rid of anything that adds length but lacks value. Front-load content so the reader will get the most important information in the beginning and have a reason to keep reading.

4. Stay Organized

Each paragraph should have a specific focus. Cater to readers who skim and add subheads to clarify each paragraph’s purpose. Keep paragraphs short and present bulleted lists when appropriate.

5. Personalize It

Know your audience and customize content to address their needs. Write with a friendly tone (depending on the formality of the subject matter) to create an authentic experience for the reader. Provide informative tidbits that will encourage sharing. Overall, make sure that your content is relevant to your audience.

How to Leverage Social Media’s Impact on SEO

January 18th, 2011 by Allison Yagesh

Last month, Google and Bing confirmed that links shared on Facebook and Twitter impact search rankings. SEOs across the Web have long suspected this, though the official confirmation has inspired a deeper inspection to determine how to make the most of it. Here are some tips for how to leverage social media to impact your company’s ranking:

1. Inspire Action

Give the audience a sense of who your company is. Do this with personality and panache. You need to sound like a person, not a robot. Engage the audience by revealing information that explains your company’s authority. Include persuasive calls-to-action and a link to your website to encourage conversion. Giving the audience a glimpse into your business will help to attract new friends, followers, etc. and in turn, new customers and clients.

2. Social Authority

A major factor as to whether references to your company by other users will impact ranking depends on the authority of the user making the reference. It is quality over quantity and user elements like the number of friends or followers they have or how many people they follow will affect how the post is ranked. This process is tough to force, so allow time for popularity to grow organically. Stay relevant by making frequent, informative posts.

3. Spice It Up

Avoid posting in the same format and shake things up regularly to encourage interaction with the audience. Contests are a great strategy to inspire action. Provide valuable bits of information that are easy to share. Remember, people will only share your post if they think it makes them look good, intelligent, witty, etc. Keep posts fresh, fun and informative!

(Digital) Content is King

January 13th, 2011 by Jessica Runberg

With today’s social-media frenzy, digital content is more important than ever. Whether on a website, a blog, a Facebook update, a microsite, an online ad or a Tweet, digital content is king.

Why go digital? Because online content has the power to spread like wildfire. It’s one of the reasons that press releases have experienced a renaissance on the Internet. If your press release, YouTube video or Facebook update goes viral, you could see an influx of hundreds or thousands or millions of visitors.

The best part? Online content is one of the only forms of media that can take on different forms. Take Burberry’s The Art of the Trench microsite, for example. It claims to be a living celebration of the classic Burberry trench coat and the people who wear it, but is it an advertisement or social media? Is it marketing or entertainment? It’s almost chameleon-like in its ability to address the needs of the company and the consumer.

Social media is blurring the line between what’s advertising and what’s “just for fun.” And customers are spreading the word about companies’ products and services without the company having to do any of (or very little) work. When customers do the work for you and share your story with others, the results can be phenomenal. But if you’re going to do it, it’s important to keep up with your digital content so visitors don’t see tweets or blog entries that are a couple of months old. Also, search engines will show recent tweets/status updates, so some traffic can be generated by making a quick daily update part of your routine.

Another benefit of digital content is that you can get immediate feedback from your client base. Customers who are connected 24/7 will respond instantly to Facebook status updates, tweets, comments on your blog posts (especially if they have an RSS feed). And these same customers will share these updates with their friends, and their friends will share them with their friends and so on.

You get the point. Now get out there and post some digital content—stat!

SEO Site Improvements For 2011

January 12th, 2011 by Patrick Hare

The new year usually brings a little spring cleaning for webmasters and site owners, and in 2011 a lot of people are interested in modernizing their sites to make them more user friendly and easier for search engines to read.  A site that had modern features a couple of years ago may now seem dated, and this can be due to the appearance of things (like cars and people) in the images on the site, or functionality that may not be up to par for Web 2.0 functionality.

Here are a couple of inexpensive ways to spruce up your site so users can get the information they need and search engines can give your site a more prominent position among competitors for top keywords:

  • Remove logos that link to obsolete sites. A few years ago, “Chiclets” (icons for feeds and networks) were popular so an article or page could be shared on various networks. Several of these sites have gone out of business, so removing the link will modernize your page. Additionally, a search engine does not see you linking out to a dead site.
  • Add logos linking to popular new sites. Got a Facebook Page, Twitter Feed, Foursquare Check-In, or other trendy feature for your business? Make sure people can see your presence. Social media has an impact on search rankings (though the exact amount is debatable) but it still makes sense to improve the trust factor in your site by linking to your channels elsewhere on the web.
  • Check your page loading speed. Google Webmaster Tools will tell you how long it takes for your main pages to load. If you have slow load times, you may want to look into elements like image size, javascript and flash file sizes, and other components. Page speed not only impacts search engine positions, but it also kills conversions when people who are trying to by a product have to wait for a site to finish loading.
  • Include your address, location, and new phone numbers. Google Places and Bing Local should be associated with your physical address. You may be able to claim your listing in Google and Bing map (or embedded local) results, and adding your address to the site also helps other local search tools associate your site with your brick-and-mortar presence.
  • Update any product descriptions that may be new. It isn’t uncommon to see a reseller website that does not have the latest model of a popular product listed. While you don’t necessary have to delete old model numbers (which is usually not recommended) you should make sure that your site can be found for searches on new models or versions.

Staying up-to-date on your website is good for business, and keeps the site fresh in the eyes of search engines and other tools. Google, Bing, and other up-and-coming search engines are continuously working to find new pages and read sites that they had previously been unable to index. Unfortunately, this does not favor the webmaster with a “hands-off” approach because competing pages will also be discovered and shown in search results simultaneously. There are even cases where active SEO campaigns have to deal with unintended competition from newly indexed pages on sites that aren’t even trying to be found. By having a freshly updated site, you can offer visitors an appealing alternative to “junk” results, and show search engines that your site is more relevant that ones that may have been build and forgotten.

2011 Internet Trends

January 11th, 2011 by Allison Yagesh

2010 was a huge year for technology and online innovation. With social media showing its value with search and the creation of new platforms to access the Internet on-the-go such as the iPad, 2011 is sure to be another record-setting year for online technology. Here are some Internet trends to prepare for in 2011:

1. Social Growth

After the behemoth growth of social media in the past year, it has become clear that Facebook, Twitter and other social networking websites will continue to flourish in new ways. Facebook was recently valued at nearly $50 billion, thanks in part to a recent investment of $500 million by Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies, which has left analysts guessing their next move for edging toward Google’s market share.

2. Find Your Niche

Search engine optimization will continue to trend to niche markets by way of “long-tail” keywords. Seek out these low-traffic, low-competition keywords to take the lead in your market. Need some inspiration for long-tail keywords? Peruse the suggestions in Google Instant to get new ideas for search trends.

3. Mobile-Friendly Design

Internet analysts agree that mobile Web access will soon overshadow desktop Internet access. With the number of people online via smart phones, tablets and laptops steadily growing, it is important to make sure your website is mobile friendly. In 2010, custom apps gained popularity as a powerful marketing tool. Expect apps to be bigger than ever in 2011, especially since more platforms are now mobile compatible.

4. E-Commerce Updates

Watch for a social shopping to cast a ripple effect throughout the e-commerce market. With Groupon’s unmatched success in 2010, expect to see continued innovation in the way things are bought and sold across the Web.

Understand Long Tail Keyword Trends With A Tag Cloud

January 6th, 2011 by Patrick Hare

Long-tail keywords are a great way to get traffic, but the very nature of long-tail keywords makes them difficult to research. For anyone who is going after short-tail traffic on a website, it is a given that a significant quantity of traffic from longer-tail terms is going to be generated. This traffic will increase as the short-tail phrase moves up in search engine rankings, and in almost every case you can gauge the success of early SEO efforts by the trickle of long-tail keywords that bring visitors to your site before a short tail term even hits the first page of Google.

Measuring the sentiment of searchers can help you determine which additional phrase combinations (or roots of phrases) can deliver more high-value long tail terms. One way to do this is to use the Google Keyword Tool to get a list of variations relevant to your main phrase, and then use a Tag Cloud in order to see which words most prominently figure into the mix. Most tag clouds will make frequent words appear to be larger, so you can easily see a quick visual snapshot of the most common words. You can even find several free Tag Cloud generators online, which let you drop lists into a field.

In the example below, we used a small group of terms related to “logo design” in the Google keyword tool. At a glance, you can see that the terms “logo” and “design” have the biggest frequency, and these terms are followed by terms like business, software, company, award, corporate, and best. Terms like affordable and portfolio are less popular. Therefore, if you have a website (like Web.com’s LogoYes logo design division) that is relevant to these keywords, then you know that you can pepper them into your content in order of importance.  A more in-depth test may include a much longer list of terms in order to recognize broader trends.

 

To understand the nature of your existing traffic, you can also make a tag cloud by exporting your Analytics keywords (usually you have to do this in blocks of 500, but you can get a pretty good sample with the first page) and then feeding the word list into the cloud. You may be surprised at some of the high frequency words that come to your site, but you can then make adjustments either to cater to those keyword visits or to reduce the profile of words for which you don’t care to be found. While people normally don’t think about eliminating unnecessary “free” traffic, a lower quality search experience and higher bounce rate may have a negative long term impact on rankings, and dilute your value among your core market. 

For both approaches, the keyword search volume or traffic volume for each individual keyword is not measured. Instead, the goal is to find out how many other individual words are appearing in search results and in actual traffic. By making a quick study of the terms in each situation, you can usually discover opportunities for further optimization or content building. For example, if a relevant keyword appears often in searches, but is not getting traffic to your site, then you can create material that matches up with consumer sentiment.