SEO and Social Guide for Travel Niche

The travel niche is a fast-growing one where the web is concerned, presenting a slew of opportunities to talented writers given the wide range of people interested in learning more about the places they plan to visit.

Like any unique niche, being a travel blogger requires that you stay up on the latest in SEO, social media and other marketing tactics, helping you to rank among the best of your peers when it comes to attention from both search engines and potential subscribers.

Take your travel blogging game to the next level with this SEO and social guide for the travel niche:

The Devil is in the Details

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Before you can get down to the business of writing compelling, engaging content on the world’s wonders, you’ll need to set yourself up with the best platform to support your words. This will include focusing on a few key points:

  • Choosing a domain name. Any travel blogger worth their salt should register a top-level domain name for their website, giving it an air of professionalism along with a memorable address to get visitors to their home on the web. Try to find a good compromise between a name that clearly lets potential visitors know that travel is what you’re about, and a name that is catchy enough to find its way into their memory banks.
  • Choosing a host. Trusting your publishing efforts to someone else is as big a deal as it sounds, and this means that you should choose a host that you have reason to trust and depend on. Luckily, this trail has been blazed by millions of bloggers before you, so the web is rife with reviews on every hosting service imaginable, corporate giants and small-scale businesses alike. Take the time also to identify and cover your needs, ensuring that your host is offering the features that you require at a palatable price.
  • Choosing a publishing platform. Truth be told, this section can more or less be summed up with a recommendation of WordPress, the world’s favorite publishing platform. It’s free, trusted by hundreds of millions of people and offers every feature imaginable that a blogger could require, offset by millions of plugins that allow for even more functionality.

Determine Your Keyword Focus

Given the stiff competition that you’re up against in such a busy niche, you’ll need to pick and choose the keywords that you want to target very carefully, helping you to land the visitors best suited to the content that you’re offering. This doesn’t require scientific precision, but you will need to take the time to identify keywords and terms that people are actively looking for, using that knowledge to tailor your content to serve those needs.

The simplest way to do this is by using Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool, a handy search function for webmasters to narrow down the most popular terms being searched for among the more than three billion that take place on Google each month. This will allow you to identify some of the more narrow travel niches that are underserved, helping you to focus your content on the minute, but ever-so-important aspects of travel blogging that your readers will thank – and reward – you for.

The second aspect to keyword research is staying on top of things. While Europe may have been all the rage in 2012, it could be that current events sway the average traveler to interest in visiting Asia in 2013; when your visitor’s needs change, so should your content creation endeavors. In order to make sure that your travel focus is always cutting edge, set a weekly schedule of taking 30 minutes to use the AdWords Keyword Tool so that you can keep up with the changing tastes and areas of interest of your readers.

Great Content = Great SEO

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Even while you’re investigating and implementing the many particulars involved in properly optimizing your website for Google and friends, it is important to keep in mind that the most important aspect of SEO is good, quality content. This will encourage readers to share your content via social media, talk about it in online discussion forums and link back to it from their own websites, all crucial aspects of getting search engines to notice and reward your efforts.

Use the keywords you found by using the tips above to choose your focus and, for the sake of helping Google and friends to properly rank your blog, include those keywords in your content, but never lose sight of the fact that enjoyable, engaging and fun-to-read content is the best SEO of all.

Be the Epitome of Linkbait

One of the keys to good ranking and visibility on the web is backlinks – that is, obtaining a link to your website from another location on the internet. While there are a myriad of ways of obtaining backlinks, the best way is to encourage others to do the work for you.

“Linkbait” is often used as a negative term to refer to deliberately misleading article titles, but it also describes the ability of a writer to entice readers to get excited about their content by publishing words that generate passion. As a travel blogger, you can achieve this by provoking commentary with in-depth locale reviews, recommending destinations that are typically off of the charts of most travelers, or focusing articles on specific, exciting aspects of a given potential holiday; the possibilities are endless.

Let’s Get Social

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Once you’ve got a site structure in place that houses a good amount of quality content, it’s time for you to get the word out about who you are and what you have to offer, and social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and others offer you a fast, free and user-friendly way to do this. The ever-evolving social landscape will keep you on your toes with the new opportunities it presents over time, but here are a few key ways to take advantage of social media:

1. Gather Your Readers on Facebook

With more than one billion users, Facebook is the world’s biggest meeting place, virtual or otherwise. This means that almost all of your readers are probably already active there, making it a simple thing for you to encourage them to talk about your travel blog’s content in a natural, viral way.

The easiest way to achieve this is with a Facebook fan page, providing a platform-within-a-platform for people to seek out your content and share it with friends; given the general popularity that the travel niche enjoys, you’re certain to find new potential subscribers every single time someone publicly “likes” your links on Facebook.

Be sure to be personally active on your page, engaging readers and initiating conversation and debate that will help to draw attention to what you have to say!

2. Be a Travel Tweeter

Twitter has emerged as a strong number two to Facebook, providing you with a unique way to alert interested readers about your new posts. While you’re unlikely to find yourself in deep debate about a visitor’s favorite holiday destination here, the mere volume of Twitter’s user base will help you to get noticed, quickly and easily.

3. Pinterest for Travel Beauty

A relative newcomer to the social media world, Pinterest has quickly become one of the most talked about platforms on the web. With its unique focus on the sharing of photographs, it’s a particularly useful place for travel bloggers, allowing you to link your written content with the sheer beauty of the world’s endless list of travel destinations, making it much easier to entice visitors to your Pinterest board to continue on to your blog in order to learn more about what they’ve seen.

Conclusion

Everyone loves to travel, whether in reality or only in their mind’s eye, giving you a great head-start before you’ve even come out of the blogging gate! With an eye for detail, a solid plan for success and a good effort to produce enjoyable, reader-worthy content, you’ll find your blog a trusted source for travel news and opinions before you know it!

Jessy Troy is the social media consultant and enthusiast who love the freedom of working while traveling. Her favorite destination is Paris.

Image Credits: 1, 2, 3.

About Guest Blogger

This article is a guest post provided by a third party, its content was added to Digital Ethos to help provide additional information for our readers and followers. While the Guest Blogger posts do not undergo the same scrutiny as Authors and lack sources, the content was reviewed and approved as valuable to our mission.

Inbound Marketing & 3rd Generation of Websites: Part 2

In part I we delved into the early stages of websites, how they begin, their evolution and where they are heading today. From a business perspective, sites have seemingly gotten smarter, and the potential to utilize them for growth and lead generation is amazing. I like to think of a website as having a salesperson working for you 24/7/365. No vacation, no sick days and a constant ability to draw in fresh prospects. Sure there’s upkeep and in this article we are going to get our hands dirty with the foundation principles of Inbound Marketing. What exactly is Inbound Marketing?

Much like many people asked what social media was a mere few years ago, the term inbound marketing is not part of the mainstream vernacular, yet.

Inbound marketing is the process of drawing customers and prospects to you, instead of you seeking them via outbound techniques, like direct mail or cold calling. Oftentimes, these traditional methods are unwelcome and interrupt people without their permission. Inbound uses a combination of methods that position a business to be found when the prospect wants to find you. This is a much different idea, and simple at it’s core. Think of it like this: If you were watching your favorite TV show on DVR, and suddenly thought, “Hey, I need a new vacuum” and a vacuum commercial came on, you wouldn’t skip it. It was there when you wanted it there, not when the advertiser would force you to watch it.

Mind you the concept is not new, and the term Inbound Marketing has been around for many years, created by Hubspot, who is at the forefront of inbound marketing software and education. (full disclosure, my agency Soul NYC is a Hubspot Partner).

For businesses looking to redesign their website to be 3rd generation, there are some key elements to consider to set it up properly for Inbound Marketing. Your website is the major component, but external factors also can come into play. 1. You must have a blog. This is a must. The cornerstone of inbound marketing is producing interesting and relevant content on a regular basis. A website with a blog, gives a business the opportunity to broadcast at will. Blog content, besides providing useful information for your audience, also gives the search engines more opportunity to find your site. Continually adding to your blog adds pages to your site, and that fresh content is actually considered differently by Google and other search engines. Recent changes to search algorithms give more weight to fresher content. “Google’s aim is to include recency and freshness when determining relevance.”

  1. But what do you write about? Think about the things your customers ask you over and over again. These are great fuel for blog articles, and will be the types of things people will search for. Make a list of at least a dozen potential titles, so you have somewhere to start. Try to schedule posting at least one blog article a week, if not more. Make sure your content and titles are SEO friendly, which leads us to…
  2. Optimize Everything SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a key component is setting up your website for inbound marketing. It’s one of the most powerful things you can do to drive traffic to your site. It is important that the page titles are used properly. We often see the name of the company only on every page title, or just a simple one word description of the page content. The title should include important keywords and other information, like location that can help to return better results on search. These title tags show up in the browser, search engine results and many social media sites use that title tag as the link when posted. Example: Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name 2 In addition it is good practice to link keywords within the body of your website content and blog posts to other pages on your site. Remember to write your content for readers, but consider the terms or keywords that they might be looking for. As always make sure that content is relevant to your audience and useful. Stuffing it with keywords over and over for the hell of it will make it unreadable and Google doesn’t like that either! These are just a few of the many things that affect SEO on your site. Do some research or discuss with your web design agency about properly structuring your site for SEO. There are also practices for Offsite SEO that are equally important. As we’re talking about fine tuning your website for Inbound Marketing, we will save that for another article.
  3. Integrate Social Media Social Media can work on many fronts. It can help you build presence and audience external to your website and position you as a knowledgeable leader in your field. In terms of your website, social can be used to draw people back to your content when you post it on the channels that you choose to use. It also is a way to spread that content. The larger your audience is on social, the wider your potential reach is. So post often and with relevancy. Share and retweet other people’s content as well. It’s just good practice to do so, and will always lead to reciprocal sharing of your content. On your site, implement tools to make sharing easy. Give site visitors the opportunity to like, share, tweet and email without leaving your pages by using social share buttons.
  4. Create Clear Calls To Action Once you’ve done the work to get visitors through your site through blogging, SEO and social, now what? You want to speak to them directly. A call to action helps to do that by giving them a specific action to take. These can be catered to the different types of people who buy your services by creating “buyer personas.” This differs for every business and usually there are several types of them. Regardless of the specifics, your call to action (CTA) should be written and designed in a manner that will incite a response. Some examples: Start Your Free Trial Today Call for a FREE Consulation Download our Ebook on XYZ Tell them clearly what you want them to do. A good CTA is explicit, concise and stands out on your page. Place them on pages where people wind up from search and social, like your homepage, blog, and services pages. You should have multilple CTA’s to use that are specific to the page or content the viewer is looking at. Then link those CTA’s to landing pages…
  5. Use Landing Pages to Convert Visitors to Leads This is where the magic happens. A good landing page is written to reinforce the offer of your CTA. It should describe the benefits of the offer and again incite an action. Common practice on landing pages is to remove all buttons and links, leaving the user with just the form that you will use to capture their info and register them as a lead. Once the form is completed, the user is typically sent an email with a link to download the offer or confirming receipt of their information and the next steps you will take. Here are 7 Tips to Landing page success from Search Engine Watch 3

    1) Have a Clear and Emphasized Call to Action
    2) Align Your On-Page Message and Call-to-Action With Your Off-Page Promise
    3) Simplify Design and Reduce Text
    4) Use Images Judiciously
    5) Show Brand Validation
    6) Enable Sharing and Highlight Social Validation
    7) Test, Test, Test

  6. Analyze & Measure Everything The foundation for all inbound marketing efforts is analytics. You have to know where your traffic sources are coming from, what they’re looking at, and whether or not they are engaged with your content. This requires robust software to be installed on your website.

Google Analytics is a start but it doesn’t offer the full suite of measurement tools needed to effectively get the job done.

Good tools will track and measure many important bits of information that will allow you to continually improve your inbound marketing game. Knowledge is power, and the right platform will provide you all of the insights needed to craft better optimized content, stronger CTA’s and landing pages, as well as gain valuable insight about who is hitting your site. Leads and Conversions are also recorded and data can be tracked and compared over time.

This constant measurement allows us as marketers to improve our efforts while the customer or business owner has real data on what is being done and how that relates to ROI.

Final Thoughts…

Inbound Marketing, is a worthwhile, proven approach that can create a steady flow of traffic and leads when executed properly. If you’re considering a website redesign, ask your developer or agency about how you can implement features in your new website to facilitate this. As always make sure that the approach is right for your business. If you decide to go it alone and are not capable or writing and producing content in a timely manner, it may not be a fit. You can seek out assistance from a qualified professional or agency so that you get the most out of inbound marketing.

Sources:

About Tommy Spero

Tommy Spero ( @tommyspero ) is the Principal and Creative Director of Soul NYC (www.soulnyc.com) , a branding, web design and inbound marketing agency that helps companies large and small use design and technology to grow their businesses. Tommy drives the vision of the agency, with over 14 years working in the design and interactive space. His experience working with some of the worlds biggest companies, like American Greetings, Sony Music, VH1, Showtime and Novartis, gives him unique insight on how small and medium businesses can succeed through the use of branding and technology. His design work has been featured multiple times in the LogoLounge series of books by Rockport Press, as well as appearing on television and all across the web.

Google AdWords, Part 2 [Internship]

As you read in the Google Adwords part one, pay per click (PPC) is one of the options Google offers as an advertising feature. However, PPC is not the only feature. Cost Per Impression (CPI) is another online advertising tool that Google offers. CPI usually is in the form of a banner ad on a website and advertisers pay for every time their ad is displayed. CPI is different from PPC because CPI is only when the ad is displayed on a website, not clicked like PPC. Cost Per Mille (CPM) is the most common marketing practice used on the internet. CPM advertising is the way a marketer can be more certain about the revenue they generate from their website traffic. When the amount paid for every thousand earning impressions served, this is said to be CPM or CPI.

Some of Google Adwords advanced features include location options. In the previous Google Adwords article, it talked about setting your location to make your ads visible to a certain area. Advanced location options allow a marketer to reach people viewing pages about your targeted location. This will help because you will not only be seen in just your targeted area anymore. The only catch is that this feature is only available for certain campaign types that have “all features”. The good news is that you can switch your campaign type whenever you like.

Google had recently been trying out a new feature called Google Email Subscription Ads. This allows companies to buy ads that automatically fill in a newsletter slot. This allows users to sign up more easily for email subscriptions or other free newsletters. A cool feature on this allows your Google email address to be displayed next to your ad.

A new revolutionizing feature that Google Adwords set up is calling Pay Per Call (PPC). Pay Per Call is simply the process of an advertiser paying the publisher every time their phone number is clicked off a Google search page. This is another good way a marketer can establish their advertisements and see how their PPC option really works.

Google offers many different features for businesses to choose from. Google Adwords is a great beneficial step for your business to take. The set up is easy, and Google is kind enough to show you a step by step process. Even though Google is testing out some features, it’s easy to see that they are thriving and will go into good use.

Read: Google AdWords Part 1

Sources:

http://www.allbusiness.com/marketing/advertising-internet-advertising/2646-1.html#axzz29NUBY4iJ

http://support.google.com/adwords/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1722038

http://www.crunchbase.com/product/google-adwords-2

http://paypercallexchange.com/mobile-marketing/google-mobile-adwords/

 

The content in this article is part of Digital Ethos’s Digital Media Education in the Higher Education Internship Program, the content was created by @KaylaMarzo, a Student at Suffolk County Community college, intern at Digital Ethos.

About Digital Media Education Internship

Digital Media Education Internship Program is an outreach initiative for Digital Ethos.

Why use Google AdWords? – Part 1- [Internship]

Google logo

Ever search something on Google and wonder what makes the first search result better than the next? With a little help from AdWords it can help you achieve a higher rank in the search results. AdWords bid on keywords that will help trigger their sponsored ads. How much they bid is one of the things that determines their position on the page of search results. The more their ads are clicked, the less they have to pay for each click.

Google AdWords is Google’s pay per click (PPC) advertising platform. This tool is used to direct traffic to your website. Every time your ad is clicked in the PPC option, the advertiser pays the website owner on the terms that the agreed on. The budget can determine how often ads can appear on Google. PPC’s content usually takes form in advertisements such as sponsored links or ads. They appear either above your search results or along the side.

There are many beneficial factors when taking using the AdWords tool. When someone clicks on your ad, this will take them to your website where they can learn more about your business and make a purchase.  Advertising on Google can direct more traffic to your website as you are using the most widely used search engine in the world.

When you first come across Google AdWords, you’ll want to narrow down your audience and attempt to target just your customers. Google AdWords allows you to narrow down your audience by choosing from hundreds of languages, and specific cities and regions. For example, if you own a furniture store in New York City, you don’t want your ads to be seen in Colorado. Set your campaign ads to be read in English throughout the New York City area. Making your ads visible within a ten miles radius of the city or using the zip code targeting can’t hurt either.

After you targeted your audience, you then want to create your ad that will appeal to them. You want your ad to stick out like a sore thumb. In a world full of furniture stores, you want someone to click on your website instead of your competitors. In order for the searcher to click your ad, you want to be able to provide them with the one they think provides the most beneficial information or drives the highest value. In order to make an ad the most effective for your website, you want to choose keywords that are relevant. Choose keywords that relate the most to your site, service or offer. For example, if you are a business that sells furniture, your keywords might include couch, futon, or recliner. You’ll also find it useful to create long tail keywords, like NYC furniture store, or park slope furniture store. The long tail keywords use more terms to narrow your target and often have less competition.

There are a couple of types of keywords, one being negative keywords. A negative keyword is a phrase or word that prevents ads from appearing when a searcher types it in. For example, if your business sells furniture, but doesn’t sell bed frames, you would add the negative keyword but put a hyphen before it like so –bed frames. This eliminates your ads from appearing on irrelevant searches. Another type of keywords include exact match. You want to use exact match when you are using keywords that are exactly what a customer would be looking for when searching on Google. Exact match means that the ad shows for searches only when the search query is exactly the same as your keyword. When using exact match, chose your keyword and put it in square brackets. When someone is looking to buy a love seat, and you own a furniture company, you may want to use [love seat] as an exact match.

After you created your ad, you want to set a pricing. Set your daily budget and cost per click up. You can spend to as much or as little as you want. The average cost per click with Google AdWords is around $3.50 per click but in some cases skyrockets to $20. A useful feature on AdWords lets you change your budget at any time. When you are finally all done with setting up your ad, you want to launch the campaign.

Signing up for Google AdWords can be a good move for your business. It can direct traffic straight to your website which can mean more purchases. Google AdWords generates more visitors, followers, and customers. When you have an effective ad on Google’s search results page, your website will see a whole new world. The tool is one of the best advertising options when you want to track ROI and be able to reduce or grow on the fly. While there is still a lot of other options, using the PPC campaigns in Google AdWords can be a great source for new business.

Coming In Part 2 – Google AdWords, Advanced Options, CPM, Newsletter, Calls, DisplayNetwork

Sources:

The content in this article is part of Digital Ethos’s Digital Media Education in the Higher Education Internship Program, the content was created by @KaylaMarzo, a Student at Suffolk County Community college, intern at Digital Ethos.

About Digital Media Education Internship

Digital Media Education Internship Program is an outreach initiative for Digital Ethos.

A Day at Google New York & Seth Godin [OPINION]

Google started a pretty amazing program called “Google Engage for Agencies”, while it’s a great outreach program to help generate brand advocates that act as a sales team for low to no cost, it’s much more then that!

Google has generated a program that has done a few things, but I want to center on two, Content and Education!

1) Google Engage is a program that is producing content for Google.  Agencies are now telling stories for Google about Google and tying it directly into local communities! The Engage program has agencies and consultants that now have stories that tie back to their community, ones that give all the recognition to Google and the AdWords platform.

2) Google is flooding the market with the correct information and empowering agencies and consultants through education to provide the correct and effective services. In a time period where consumers distrust agencies and digital marketers (and they should) Google has decided to empower those that want to learn, want to provide value making it much harder for those that are not genuine to survive.

The Engage program has provided others, like myself with direct education and training. The information that I now have as a professional has been advanced by the support of Google, both in a distance education program and done in conjunction with Dale Carnegie trainers at Google.

I made a comment earlier that consumers distrust digital marketers and agencies and that “they should”. I stand by that statement, in fact,  I started blogging because of that very fact just a few years ago. Walk into a small business owner these days and don’t be surprised when you get a question like “what makes you different then the other 100 sales people before you” and it’s a great question, in fact if business owners and organizations had asked it sooner we wouldn’t have the distrust that the marketing industry has earned.

Google made a commitment to provide a service that they believed helps connect people on the web to solutions providers and services. That incredible tool has been defiled by digital marketing consultants and agencies. As Seth Godin has explained, marketing had it good until the illusion vanished. Out of fear and greed the economy was destroyed overnight by those that worked to game the system, be in PPC, SEO or just selling products, services and solutions that they didn’t care if it worked as long as they got paid.

Google had another great surprise for those of us in attendance, a LIVE Google Hangout with Seth Godin, “America’s Greatest Marketer as claimed by American Way Magazine. Seth’s presentation was excellent and while he did a great job sharing information with us, the Q&A was a treasure. Seth’s message is that success comes from being genuine and often takes a long time, in fact Seth admitted it took his blog three (3) years to gain traction.

A day at Google confirmed one thing, the world is full of fraud and the marketing industry has a disproportionate number of contributors. The bright note is that for those of us that take the time to genuinely try solve problems and not just generate sales or revenue, we can and will be successful. In this case, Google is genuine about wanting to connect people with what they are actually looking for, be it through organic search or paid search. Google is acting like a leader, providing the right and accurate resources to the community. The Google Engage program is just one of the resources that Google has invested in to empower the professionals that are trying to do the right thing by their clients, customers and business.

In the end, Google was impressive at every turn. Google New York had Food, Fun and Value! The information was only surpassed by their commitment and methods to deliver it! A methodology that I feel is worth any successful business or corporation pursuing.

About Basil Puglisi

@BasilPuglisi is a Content Contributor and the Chairman of the Board for Digital Ethos. Basil C. Puglisi is also the Digital Marketing Manager for PMG Interactive. As the Digital Marketing Manager he provides oversight and support to Digital Campaigns, from Website Development to Search and Social Reach.

How Exact Match Domains Have Weathered the Penguin Storm

Exact match domains have always had the added advantage of direct-type in traffic, giving them certain immunity to algorithm updates. Once an EMD is linked to a website, the webmaster’s behavior has more to do with rankings. Penguin sought out sites with too many exact match anchor text links, but the outcome had more to do with who can get away with it and to what extent. For EMDs, exact anchor text makes up part of the natural link profile.

Brand based anchor text is natural, i.e. www.brandname.com, brandname.com and brand name. When your brand is your exact match domain name, your website is not going to set off those same red flags for your exact match keywords. But, what you’ve done with your link profile beyond that is what does come in to play with Penguin. Is the rest of your link profile diversified with partial anchor text, long tail, and a nice mix of click here, visit this site and straight http: links? That’s most likely what sets apart the ones who were impacted by Penguin and those that were not.

Tier 2 pages

What have the exact match sites done with their tier 2 pages? Chances are, most have targeted different keywords for those pages and not focused on as many brand anchor text links. Natural links to tier 2 pages often contain the title tag. Take a look at your back link profile and look how others linked to those pages. That’s a good indicator of what natural linking to those pages looks like.

Meta Data

Another issue any site could run in to is over-optimized title tags. So, if you repeated your keywords in your title tag in a spammy way, i.e. red shoes, cheap red shoes, not only does that page come across as spammy because of the title tag existing on it, but if a user linked to your site with the title tag, that appears spammy, too.

Keep in mind, if you keep on playing with your title tags, you set off a spam alert. If your title tag is webmaster tools compliant, don’t tweak it. Spammers will often watch if their title tag adjustments results in higher or lower rankings and if they drop, they will go back and revert the changes. This is when you get in to trouble. Your server records the file date every time you make a change and Google uses that data to make an evaluation.

Many exact match domains do continue to rank well in Google post Penguin, but no site is immune to future updates. Moving forward, don’t assume that because your website was not affected that it won’t be. We’ll always be left guessing what the next problematic issue will be.

 

Source:

Theresa Happe works with Buy Domains, a leading source of domains for sale, including available and exact match domains.

About Guest Blogger

This article is a guest post provided by a third party, its content was added to Digital Ethos to help provide additional information for our readers and followers. While the Guest Blogger posts do not undergo the same scrutiny as Authors and lack sources, the content was reviewed and approved as valuable to our mission.

SEO2012: A Visual Look at Search Engine Optimization

First, note that the article starts with “opinion” and the truth is that all content related to SEO is exactly that, opinion. Any representative or person that claims to have “facts” to back up their SEO strategies has discredited themselves. This is not to say that professionals can’t produce data that shows results, but simply put no one outside of Google really knows what drives Search Results in a manner that can be supported by fact. If you then take into account the fact that SEO has changed so many times in the last two years, one could argue that the industry has removed itself from the categories that allow for the titles guru and expert.

Search Engine Optimization

The chart is meant to be a tool, one that business owners should find useful as a roadmap for talking points with a SEO Professional or Agency. While there are finer points and details to contend with, you’d be hard pressed to find a real professional in the industry that could argue about the basic premise here and how important quality SEO is derived almost equally between each of the three sections. As such you should expect and anticipate that your SEO strategy should touch on all three, or spend your time and money somewhere else.

Onsite, represents the structural design and make up of your website. The structural design is a crucial component to how the site is crawled and MORE importantly will allow your users to interact with it. Engagement which is the perceived value to the user or visitor, is believed to have direct value correlations to onsite structure. Things “onsite” like Meta descriptions will affect things like CTR (Click through rates) which is one of the values we believe Google uses to determine if the placement is justified. Followed closely by bounce rates and time on site, which again we believe are all indicators to your sites value in relation to a topic or keyword. The Offsite refers to things like Social Signals, which once heavily included Twitter, but now seems most influenced by +1 activity from Google+. Geo references and Google Local are also factors in the search results both as an independent source and as part of traditional organic results. While backlinks are frowned upon in the perspective of buying links, you’d better believe that it’s going to continue and finding strategies that are genuine in nature are crucial to you survival on page 1.

There is no cookie cutter for SEO, anyone that walks up claiming they have the package for you is full of it! Genuine SEO strategies take time and must evolve, you can start with a budget but what you get as a report at the end of each month can be completely different, types of content, links, social outreach/bookmarks will all change over time and the SEO strategy should reflect that approach and not a useless plan that says $800 you’ll get 50 links, 3 articles and # # # #. That’s a big red flag.

In the end, SEO is part of a business. The Search Engines want to put people in touch with the service they are looking for and you should only want to spend time and money on strategies that place genuine search results that you can benefit from. In the end it’s all about connecting people with the content, product or service they want or need.

Sources:

 

 

About Basil Puglisi

@BasilPuglisi is a Content Contributor and the Chairman of the Board for Digital Ethos. Basil C. Puglisi is also the Digital Marketing Manager for PMG Interactive. As the Digital Marketing Manager he provides oversight and support to Digital Campaigns, from Website Development to Search and Social Reach.

Did Digital & Social Media kill the economy? [OPINION]

While the internet is full of success stories for Digital & Social Media, and we all know I have covered a few, like Facebook Success Stories (Social Media), Google Places for Your Service Industry (SEO), New Google Newsletter and Mobile Adwords Features (SEM) etc. However, I was recently left wondering about the bigger picture…

Did we fail to learn in web 1.0?

Websites were all anyone could talk about in the late 90’s and everyone was trying to get on the web. The issue with web 1.0? Business owners created a website just to have a website, which resulted in a business move that in most cases was a poor investment. The websites had no business plan, no systematic function and in some cases reflected poorly on a business rather than positively. The complete lack of strategy wasted time and money which also left the business owners in disbelief about the value of such a venture.

Less than a decade later here comes the Social Media Revolution, with the promise of opportunities to reach and touch people on a global scale at rates, that overnight, make TV and Print look like the dinosaurs. In 2008 the Social Media rush is on and you can’t help but get a sense that web 2.0 looks a lot like web 1.0. Social Media sites are flooded with businesses that again have no business plan, no systematic function and in some cases reflected poorly on brand. Overnight Social Media Marketing becomes a keyword that tens of thousands flock to. This brand new communication tool in the digital space is barely in industry use and gurus and experts pop up everywhere and overnight the guy next store has started an agency.

When the iPhone was launched in 2007 and forever changed the music industry, mobile for business doesn’t pick up steam till 2010, when it starts to become a part of mainstream marketing. With the announcement in early 2011 that Smartphones have surpassed PC sales the industry prepares for the next technology rush. In that same year reports indicate that Mobile Advertising is Expected to Reach 5B in 2015. This brand new communication tool in the digital space is now front and center and the young child of social media tries to pivot and tie mobile and social together, not an easy lesson as Social Media giant Facebook is learning in 2012. A prediction everyone sees coming but Facebook and the greedy analysts, and a point I tried to make days before the IPO in my aritlce “Why the Facebook IPO looks like a Bad Investment. Just like websites and social media, the industry rushes to mobile, creating apps, mobile sites and forever changing their advertising all without any thought to a strategy or branding.

Was there a bigger problem?

  • For the first time anyone who wanted to launch a website could.
  • The masses can be reached through Social Media sites that are free.
  • Everyone has a mobile device envisioned as if we all lived in the era of Star Trek .

What is it about the “basement business effect” that caused irrefutable damage to the digital economy?

The basement business effect

With the entry level barriers of owning and operating a business practically vanishing overnight and with the pool of talented employees vanishing, the best corporations are left competing against the best talent, who despite the lack of traditional resources can do the same job for a fraction of the cost and in some cases better!

Here enters our problem, the entry barrier is so low that anyone can show up at your door with a fancy website, flashy business cards, a MBA from the internet and the promise of gold. Fool’s gold that is. The market tumbles overnight because the shift happened so fast no analyst can predict the effect the American ego has on the pretty bubbles floating in front of them.

It’s not just digital, but it’s hard to argue that digital hasn’t played a crucial role in the economies demise. Banks offer checking accounts for free, the technology and promise of low overhead and the thought that you don’t need a traditional infrastructure make it seem possible. The overflow of students in education that already had swelled the ranks were overtaken by the fact that you don’t ever have to come to school to earn the same degree as the people before you did.

As if the degree from Walden, Phoenix, Capella or any other distance program could even compare to the brick and mortar programs. Can you truly believe that the distance learner has any of the abilities that a traditional student was forced to learn through socialization and real life interactions? I have done them both and I don’t think so…

Digital and FREE

FREE, its killing our economy and the digital revolution is what caused it. The best technology still requires two things:

  1. Education (Invest to Expect)
  2. People (Humanity)

While the industry would have you believe that there is an automated solution for everything, there is not and the truth is humanity can’t stand automation. Take IVR, the phone system that would replace a call center employee, for example.  The research shows that people can’t stand it and those that offer a “real” human interaction have seen their sales climb! However, this will not stop someone from selling it and some unaware business from buying it.

FREE is the biggest thing plaguing business and the economy. Despite the common phrase “you get what you pay for”, business owners continue to pursue FREE at their own demise. The pursuit of FREE, whether by the seller or the consumer, leads to complete chaos and is quickly ruining our economy.

Make a decision, it doesn’t matter whether you’re buying or selling. Invest in what will work and you’ll get the ROI your looking for.

If you’re a consultant selling digital services, STOP doing FREE consulting or proposals. The second you start to look over a company’s assets, be it the business model, the website or the social media site, you are WORKING! Do you want to work for FREE? How do you see that in the long run?  This is why you are running around working 80 hours a week and only getting paid for 10!

If you’re the business owner stop taking or looking for FREE! When you get something for free you don’t respect it, and if you don’t respect it, it’s useless. Second, you’re not that smart. When you assume you can listen to someone explaining a business or marketing strategy and then you just go do it yourself, you are, quite literally, entering into idiotic behavior. Now you’ll spend time doing a job that you don’t quite understand, are not equipped to supervise, and might never have the skill set to correct or evolve as needed. Worse, you are spending time working on something that won’t provide the promised ROI (based upon the professional’s history), and you will end up spending more than necessary, and possibly stunting your businesses growth!

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About Basil Puglisi

@BasilPuglisi is a Content Contributor and the Chairman of the Board for Digital Ethos. Basil C. Puglisi is also the Digital Marketing Manager for PMG Interactive. As the Digital Marketing Manager he provides oversight and support to Digital Campaigns, from Website Development to Search and Social Reach.

Killer Keywords – The Key to Advertising Success

For those just getting started with PPC advertising, specifically Google AdWords, you might find the whole process to be a little overwhelming. Google provides, what seems like a million different tools to make your life “easier” but often times it makes things more difficult when it’s a matter of getting started.

In an attempt to free you from your state of paralysis, I’d like to start small and offer a couple of tips to embarking upon your Google advertising journey by walking through the process of building a keyword list.

Build Your Foundation 

This is where it all begins. Keywords are the phrases that trigger your ads to be displayed when a Google search user enters into the query process.

An effective keyword list is a vital component to campaign performance. Begin by creating a list of words and phrases that relate to your brand, products and/or services. While a great place to start is by brainstorming on your own, there are tools to help.

Google Keyword Tool

Google provides a great resource that will essentially build a base of keywords for you. Isn’t that handy?! You have the ability to search on category keywords, Web sites and/or categories. Based on your search query, Google returns hundreds of potentially related keywords. Here are a couple of suggested uses:

  • Search for keywords using competitor’s website domains. This strategy will discover terms that people are searching on that point them to competitor sites.

  • Search for terms related to your brand name or your core product offerings. Be sure to use negative keywords to refine your search

  • The results from the Keyword Tool not only offer a list of generally related keywords, but also a new Beta tool, called “Ad Group Ideas.” This is an extremely helpful tool when you’re looking to find more specific keywords to build tightly knit Ad Groups, which we’ll discuss at a later time.

Search Query

Another excellent way to discover keywords is to simply perform a search query for words and phrases related to your company. There are a few ways to use this:

  • Perform a search and note the predictions that Google makes for your search. These are terms that Google has stored as previous searches. This is valuable information that should not be ignored.
  • Perform a search and see which sites come up in the organic and paid search results. Visit those pages and browse the site for keywords you can use. You can search for words displayed on the page, and you can also search for meta-tags, which are simply the keywords within a page that specify page description and are used by browsers and search engines. To find the meta-tags follow these steps.

Not All Keywords are Good 

Consider the perfect keywords and phrases that will provide your Web site with the most effective resulting traffic. The goal of running an AdWords campaign isn’t just to drive traffic to your site for the sake of getting more eyes on your Web page. The intention is to drive users to your site who are going to take a desired action.

Target users who are looking to buy or sign up for what you’re offering. Let’s use the example of a coffee merchant. There are thousands of coffee suppliers. Consider what makes you different.

Differentiation Considerations:

  • Location – do you have a brick and mortar location? Where do you ship to? What are best performing areas?
  • Specialties – Is your coffee organic? Is it fair trade? Where are the beans grown?
  • Special events – Do you host cuppings? Are you providing discounts or have sales coming up?

These questions will help you build long-tail keywords that improve the performance of your campaign.

Your first instinct might be to simply build a list of general words and phrases related to coffee, but resist the urge. Instead, use the questions posed above to build a more effective list of phrases that have less competition and are more relevant to what you’re offering.

Building a good keyword list can be a time-consuming exercise, but it’s worth it. Try to think like a customer. Test search queries to see which competitors are displaying for which keywords and how you can refine your terms to get in a competitive position. You won’t know how your keywords perform until you actually put them in market and begin to optimize them. Don’t worry about that now. For the time being, just focus on building your killer keyword list.

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About Andrea Steffes-Tuttle

Andrea Steffes-Tuttle (@andrea_tuttle) is a Marketing Analyst at SpotRight, a customer intelligence platform out of Boulder, CO. SpotRight provides marketers with social data and actionable insights on their customers to maximize the return on their marketing efforts. Andrea also maintains a consultancy firm, serving as a Marketing Technologist, assisting clients with their community management and online advertising initiatives.

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