Once you’ve published quality content then you can focus on “Inbound Marketing” — developing a strong social presence, working on your ‘brand’, SEO, Social Media Marketing, Pay Per Click — these are inbound marketing skills which lead customers to you as opposed to outbound marketing where you approach the customer with banners and button ads, email marketing and other traditional techniques.
In preparing for our PAII Webinar on Online Marketing Recommendations for Websites (Sept. 30th — register online, it’s free), we took a closer look at some Hotels & Inns we had reviewed recently to look for the strengths in their social media strategies.
Below, I’ll outline some things we know are strong for both the Balch Hotel and the Edenwild Inn with regards to their presence in the social venues. First, let’s look at the Balch Hotel:
The Balch Hotel covers a range of social sites including those above (Google+, Twitter, and Facebook) with a smart strategy to emphasize different advantages of staying with them
Are you practicing SEO… without the “engines” of CRO?
What is it that you want to achieve with your company website? Is the end goal the sheer glory of seeing your web appear high in the search engine pages for random keyword phrases? Or perhaps the c-suite execs push for numbers – the more people that arrive at the site each month, the better?
Of course not.
Search engine rankings and number of visitors are meaningless unless they convert into leads or clients. Even if the only goal of the website is to provide information, it is still desirable that the visitors that land on the site have an interest in the topic and their path through the site to find the information they seek should be productive.
The point of the website is to have visitors interact with it in one or more of any number of pre-determined conversion goals. SEO gets the visitors to the site but CRO gets them to interact with it and hit those conversion goals. (more…)
Are you closing your social media connection loops?
How can you engage strong Klout leaders in social media, then close the engagement loop? Let’s take a look. This post begins with a focus on a great engagement tip using HootSuite — the pro social media dashboard, scheduling and swiss knife tool. Then we’ll look at a SlideShare presentation (still another content engagement tactic you should explore) and with a takeaway on content strategy. The beauty of the sequence is that using social media, one connection led to another and this post closes that loop.
Let’s start with a Hootsuite tip (disclosure, Webdirexion is a pro solution partner with Hootsuite and both Julie Hume and myself are certified in Social Media Marketing by Hootsuite University). In a nutshell, this tip focuses on finding and engaging Klout leaders. You read it right — “Klout” is the name of a ratings service that looks a key performance indicators in social media and assigns you a score. The higher the score, the more Klout you have… see Webdirexion’s Klout score here.
The Klout Technique in Hootsuite
In the screenshot below, using Hootsuite, you can see that I have first filtered in the “stream” of twitter users that have mentioned our company (@Webdirexion) using the Klout filter set for at least 40-45 strength. This reveals at least one possible Klout leader for engagement:
3-steps for engaging with Klout leaders as a social media marketing tactic.
My reply, which links back to this post, shows in the Hootsuite stream with the original message.
After I review a Klout leaders profile, I check number of followers (Vinay has 4400+ followers that may see my reply to him) and further qualify the the contact. Then I actually read the post and follow the link in it. I need to do each of these things to qualify the contact (ie. a possible client or a colleague?) and make an intelligent reply. No robo-replies here — being “social” means you actually talk to one another with authentic dialog.
Following the link in Mr. Koshy’s original post led me to the slideshare presentation included below — and gave me the right inspiration for a reply. Note that in the reply, I did three key things:
I linked back to this article which mentions the dialog
I put some text before @vpkoshy because if I did not, only vpkoshy would see the reply (credit to our Julie Hume for the tip on that tactic)
I used a hashtag to extend visibility for the reply
The Content Strategy Concept (from a Slideshare presentation)
Note how the Content Pillars support each of the objectives above.
On slide 28 shown at right, in a presentation recommended by our Klout Leader friend from Australia, the author (Christel Quek) gives a diagram of three “content pillars” supporting the audience, brand objective and user motivations. What a concise way to picture your “content marketing” work to be done.
There are also a number of great tips for social media marketing in that presentation, including:
Using hashtags as a call to action
Let your brand personality shine in social media
Remember to use social media to “listen to understand”
Focus on how your products or services touch people’s lives
Make your user the hero
Recognize your champions — influencers
I then left a comment at the slideshare. Thousands of people will see the tweet. Mr. Koshy will see that Webdirexion replied directly and followed up and respected his tweet. Ms. Quek will find out that a Koshy tweet led to a blog post with her slideshare embedded (below). Who knows, maybe Vinay Koshy and Christel Quek will learn about and help be influencers for Webdirexion. It’s a social circle — see how that works?
Here’s the slideshare on winning at content strategy:
Hootsuite: Social Insights with Adam Pisoni Co-founder – Yammer
At the center of this post’s tactical tools is Hootsuite, so we’ll end with a short video of thoughts related to using the platform.
How does a company respond fast enough to their customers that are themselves, communicating, sharing and learning at faster and faster speeds due to technology? Adam Pisoni of Yammer has some thoughts in the following video. Yammer is a private social network that helps employees collaborate across departments, locations, and business apps. Note that you can add Yammer and dozens of other networks and apps into your convenient Hootsuite pro dashboard.
Remember that curation is a content strategy, while tools are tactics in search of a strategy.
One of the tactics in the Content Marketer’s arsenal is called “curation”, where you find and republish quality content in a newly “packaged” way. The idea is that you add value at least three ways — you assemble a package that would be hard to find or gather elsewhere; you contribute some editing and related content yourself; and the UI of the “package” facilitates readership (on different devices and through smart layouts that leverage content in a streamlined fashion) and social sharing.
We’ve tried four of the major services for curation over the past 3-5 years, so I wanted to give you some take-aways about each — Flipboard, Paper.li, Rebel Mouse, and Scoop.it. I’ll give you a sample of what we have used them for and thoughts on results but first the most important thing I can tell you is that these tools are tactics… in search of a strategy. What do I mean by that? Well, too many content marketer’s seem to rush into the latest greatest tool and deploy it as a tactic with no clear publishing strategy (niche, readership, purpose of publication, editorial guidelines, etc.) in hand. Planning is in order. And, remember the old adage — if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Curating a good publication takes time and consistent effort, so you need to have a clear picture of the end goal and how it will pay off for you. Remember that curation is a content marketing tactic, not a publishing strategy. (more…)
Avoid the backlink beartrap – clean up your link profile.
Way back in the mists of internet time, Google noticed that sites which performed a useful service tended to attract natural links. Web-owners chose to link out to sites which complemented their own or served their own web visitors in some way. For example, a site selling holiday accommodation might link out to local restaurants, tours or transport information.
This system worked well for both those searching for information and for the website owners themselves. By going to the effort of seeking out quality websites to link to, the website owners created a source of information to which visitors would return. The sites which made a point of providing quality information naturally attracted links from related sites.
Unfortunately, while this system worked well for all involved, once it came to Google’s attention they decided that organic links could be used as a method of judging a site’s quality. Although Google is notoriously close-mouthed when it comes to their ranking algorithm, it soon become clear that the number of links pointing to a site was significant. Cue linkbuilding frenzy.
Discredited Linkbuilding Tactics
Just say no.
Services sprang up right, left and center promising to drum up hundreds of links within days. Schemes and scams abounded. They still do. Look at the image to the left which was cut and pasted from a service in the wild. Wow. 56,999 backlinks for $5. It sounds too good to be true. Doh.
Article Directory Spam
Site wide Links
Poor Quality Directory Spam
The Intent Behind a Link
While some of the techniques used were spammy and intended to game Google from the outset (hello, Link Wheels!), others like blog commenting and guest blogging only become spammy when you consider the intent. It is fairly obvious that a comment on a mommy blogger site from a user calling himself – and linking to – Hot Asian Chicks is likely to be a spammer. However, a commenter on the same site giving tips on baking the perfect pie is likely to be the real deal. In the end, both Google (and smart, honest marketers) want to be about authentic links — you know, from people who really think your site content IS worth a link.
Google Slams the Brakes On
In April 2012, Google launched an update, initially known as the Webspam Algorithm but soon given the name Penguin. Like the Panda Update which came before, this newcomer had teeth. Here is how Penguin is described by Chris Meier in the excellent Positionly blog:
A little more than a year after first introducing the Panda update, Google introduced Penguin – a webspam algorithm update. Panda specifically targeted sites and pages with low quality content, while Penguin was designed to target pages that were boosting their rankings by spamming Google. Popular techniques included: Keyword stuffing, Link schemes, Cloaking, Sly redirects, Doorway pages, and Intentional duplicate content.”
Google is always on the lookout for ways that their search engine might be being gamed by those trying to get low quality, irrelevant sites to appear higher in the SERPS than they deserve. This constant tightening of loopholes means that what was a legitimate SEO tactic a couple of years ago is now verboten. It may be that the first the web owner knows about a poor quality link profile is when he receives the following scary email from Google:
Unnatural inbound links
Google has detected a pattern of artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site. Buying links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank are violations of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to globaldatavault.com/. There may be other actions on your site or parts of your site.
Use the Links to Your Site feature in Webmaster Tools to download a list of links to your site.
Ensure that unnatural links pointing to your site are removed.
When these changes are made, and you are satisfied that links to your site follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, submit a reconsideration request. If you’re unable to remove links pointing to your site, please provide as much detail as possible in your reconsideration request.
For an updated list of manual actions currently applied to your site, visit the Manual Actions page. If no manual actions are listed, there is no longer a need to file a reconsideration request.
If we determine your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.
An Ounce of Prevention
There is no question that inbound links are still an important ranking factor. Here is what Searchmetrics say about them in the introduction to their excellent 2014 Ranking Factors Study:
Backlinks: The quantity and quality of backlinks remains crucial as there are many new features introduced this year that have been revised to improve the quality of the results.
What has changed is the very strong emphasis on the quality of the link. Is it coming from a reputable site? Is it coming from a relevant page? Is the site the link is coming from seasoned and cited often on the topic of the post it is linking to?
Going forward your link building energy will have be targeted on building high quality connections however before that perhaps you need to take a trip back in time and see what beartraps have been left in your path through outdated linking tactics or downright spammy techniques.
Stay tuned for the next post to find out how to take a long hard look at your current link profile and clean it up preparatory to embarking on a quality link building campaign.
The Webdirexion Sled Team, left to right: Scott (Chief Optimizer), Miranda (Content Wrestler), Serhii (Programming Ninja), Julie (SEO Maven), and Wendy (Project Chauffeur). Sherri is not in this race (only 5 allowed on the slopes), but will appear in a forthcoming video.
Quick… what would be a great way to unwind after all that online, digital, content, internet marketing work? A sled race, a la Jib Jab, of course.
We were inspired to create the following video for our Holiday Greetings in the spirit of fun and good humor when one on our team, Sherri Gutierrez (Marketing Consultant), did her own greeting using the same tool. We’re reproducing our sled race here, in case you missed it, and we do wish you a Happy New Year — watch it below.
But beyond the good fun, here are some technical social media marketing points for consideration: (more…)