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Twitter SEO – Cross between Social & SEO

October 29, 2009

With both Google and Bing both striking deals with Twitter, I thought it would be great to do a post about how this will impact search as well as how SEO’s out there can harness this to their advantage.

The Current Environment

Twitter SEO Tips

  1. Make sure to use relevant keywords in the first few words of your tweet. The “lead-in” of each tweet appears to be important for SEO.
  2. Make use of # tags, for example #keywords  that are relevant to the site.
  3. Optimize your Twitter page’s “Bio” line so it includes the most important, mission-critical phrases for your brand. Your bio is consistently indexed so its contents are what provide your Twitter page with its core relevance.
  4. We would need to build the link reputation by adding a call to action on the site, asking users to follow us on Twitter.

Sadie

3 Tips for Surviving E-commerce SEO!

October 23, 2009
Numeric examples of PageRanks in a small system.
Image via Wikipedia

Its been a while since I last posted on Socialicious – I want to take this opportunity to apologise to my regular readers..hope none of you removed me from your readers..LOL. My excuse is that I have been very busy working and learning…and I want to share what I have learnt with you, so here goes…

E-commerce SEO is very different when you compare it to other industries. Here the focus is just not on rankings but on SEO conversions and SEO ROI.  Great SEO conversion rates can only be attained when there is , in my opionion, a perfect balance between your on-site and off-site factors. So here are a few tips I’d like to share with you:

Tip #1 -Remove ALL Duplicate Content on Your Site

This can be in the form of duplicate product descriptions or duplicate page titles and descriptions as a result of pagination and sorting. These are surefire was to find duplicate content on your site:

  • run a Xenu scan and then to sort the page titles, you’ll then find all pages with duplicate page titles.
  • You can use the following searches in Google to detect duplicate product URLs

site:mydomain.com inurl:productID
site:mydomain.com intitle:"my product name"

Duplicate product pages cause the following issues (at least):

Page dilution in the search indices. It’s not uncommon to find sites with dozens or even hundreds of product duplicates; with Google crawling and indexing a finite number of pages (domain dependent, of course), this is critical to resolve.

PageRank split in the link profile. Duplicate pages can attract links on their own, too, and these need to be consolidated to maximize a product URLs external links.

Never use supplier product descriptions on your online shopping site…EVER!!! Cause guess what? Everyone else is doing the same damn thing!

Duplication caused by pagination and sorting is also a bitch! I read this great post on the Blue Acorn blog that really helped…

Basically the advice I got was to use AJAX for sorting and filtering and JavaScript for pagination, and to follow this up with a custom no-follow on each page link. To explain further, you will have one page listing all your products and use CSS  to make it seem that your products appear on different pages, you will then use Javascript to “navigate” between these pages. We only use AJAX for sorting as this would just bring up subsets of the same products.

Remember that each individual product needs to have a unique URL..one man, one vote!!!

Tip #2 : Improve indexing by flattening your site and inter-linking

If you have a site with thousands and thousands of products you need to find a way to get all of your products indexed in Google. A great way to do this is to implement a recommendation engine similar to Amazon.com or to employ cross-selling (which you should be doing anyway). This also results in related links to relevant products or product categories which will aid the search engine spiders through your site. Be sure to remember the golden rule :

ALL IMPORTANT CONTENT NEEDS TO BE AT LEAST 3 CLICKS AWAY.

The 3-clicks is a minimum..following this rule leads to increased accessibility as well.

Tip #3: Improve your site’s usability and load time!

You need a shopping site that’s designed in a way so that it is easy to find your products and in the quickest way possible. Always remember that the competition is always a click away. A site that loads fast and is user-friendly is like chocolote mousse to a search engine spider and the little critter will spend more time indexing pages on your site, meaning you get more products into the SERPS thereby increasing the amount of keywords you rank for, and the more keywords you rank for, the more likely it is for your customers to find you!

There are many ways to decrease your site’s load time such a decreasing image resolutions, etc.

We can do the following to decrease load time:

  • Try not to have too many images in a post: 1 or 2 are just fine, unless you write about photography!
  • Try not to have very large images in your posts: Larger the size of the image, the larger would be the file size. And the longer it would take to load.
  • Actually resize the image, not just through HTML attributes: If you find a large image (say 1200 * 800), and want to display it only as a small image (say 500 * 333), don’t just use the HEIGHT and WIDTH attributes of the IMG tag to reduce the display size. Reduce the image dimensions physically using an image editing tool, as that would reduce the size of the image (and therefore reduce the loading time).
  • Optimize the image for web usage: Use only properly optimized images, as they are smaller in size. At the least, try to reduce the color depth as long as it doesn’t impact the way the image looks.
  • Keep scripts in external files.
  • Try to keep widgets and badges on a low – badges and widgets not only increase the page load time, but also distract your readers from the content. This impacts the user experience negatively.

By at least implementing these suggestions onto your e-commerce site, you should see some success, although it doesn’t stop there..you need to be pushing and pushing.

Sadie

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The Top 5 Misconceptions About Social Media

October 2, 2009
Image representing Mixx as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Doing Social Media you will find that there are certain misconceptions about using emerging media. This post is a list of the top 5 misconceptions:

1) Misconception #1: Social Media is only right for certain brands – Often time people ask me: ” Is social media only right for web services or for “cool” products? The answer is no. Social media is right for every brand as long as the brand is able to find its target audience within a certain platform and converse/interact with it in an effective manner. Of course it may be exciting to do a marketing campaign for Apple than for Charles Schwab but for either one of those brands a targeted social media campaign within social networks and the blogosphere can bring amazing results as far as: Brand awareness, Overall buzz around the brand, traffic, customer loyalty and ultimately revenue. In fact often time it is the “duller” brands that experience the most growth out of social media campaigns because they experience a more substantial change in popularity between their starting point A and their ending point B than the “cooler” brands. Take for example Mint which is an online personal finance service and was just bought by Intuit for $170 Million. Not the most exciting of startups perhaps and yet Mint is a fine example of a company that did a great job in using social media to maximize the buzz around its brand, making its blog magazine-like with articles about tips for young parents and other interesting content. Mint made their content so interesting in fact that users/blog readers promote the brand on their own.

2) Misconception #2: Social Media is all about getting traffic and quickly – Social media marketing is a long term process that takes time. Once a brand enters any network such as Facebook or MySpace, it takes time to build that brand’s community. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a community on Facebook. If you want to do social media marketing right and not just spam the hell out of people, you must use conversational marketing to engage them. Conversational marketing is all about conversing with your community. Learning more about their likes and dislikes, listening before speaking and reacting based upon the customers’ feedback. Whoever thinks that he will open a Facebook page and reach tens of thousands of site visitors on the first day, is dead wrong. Brands that use social media to promote themselves will see a steady growth in traffic to their sites over time as their brand names become more and more viral within the networks – due to the increase in number of fans, number of tweets, exposure in blogs, etc. Sure there are different ways which will increase the rate of a brand’s virality on the Web. For example, creating strong social incentives for people on your site which will increase their urge to promote your brand is definitely a factor which will heighten the public’s awareness. You can read more about social incentives in this post I had written last year. However, don’t expect to get thousands of visitors to your site before you’ve been able to build

1) A strong loyal online community

2) A strong incentives system to increase brand awareness. Both these goals take time to achieve. From my experience, it usually takes about three months to start seeing effective results when using social media tools.

3) Misconception #3: “By using social media we will lose control of our Brand’s Image” – Executives (especially in big companies) often think that their employees will go wild and start telling every horror story imaginable regarding their brand because the company will open a Facebook page. So here’s the scoop: People will talk about your brand whether you like it or not. Opening a Facebook page is not going to change it and not opening a Facebook page is not going to make it go away. The question is: Do you want to be a part of that conversation or not? By having a presence in social networks and blogs, you as a brand show your customers and employees that you care about their feedback and that you are there to listen and satisfy their needs. I’ll give you a real time example: My hosting company is Network Solutions. For a few days my blog wasn’t uploading and I started to get very pissed off. I tweeted “Network Solutions Sucks” and specifically addressed @Shashib – the guy who handles Network Solutions’ social media efforts. A few moments later I received a tweet back from Shashib. He wanted to hear what’s wrong and help me resolve the problem. He promised a Network Solutions agent would call me soon. Within a few moments I received a phone call from an agent who helped me fix the situation and upload my site. At that moment, Network Solutions won my customer loyalty forever (or until the next time they screw up :-)). Real time customer care is something that brands can utilize social media tools for (specifically twitter) like no other marketing tools they have had till now. We’ve already seen amazing examples of customer care from Zappos and Dell. Brands should not be afraid of engaging in honest and transparent conversations with their clients online but rather they should be very afraid of ignoring their customers’ complaints and pretending that everything’s fine when it’s not.

4) Misconception #4: Social Media Is Just a Fad – I often hear people who say that social networks are just a passing fad. This is what I have to say to them: Social media is an inevitable digital evolution of our desire as humans to communicate with one another. It is a desire that we always had and will always continue to have as long as we are human. I had written about this topic in the past. To say that social media is just a fad is to say that communication is just a fad. Here are a few stats that might help to change the mind of those who are still apprehensive: 1) 2/3 of the global internet population visit social networks and time spent on social networks is growing at 3x the overall internet rate, accounting for ~10% of all internet time. 2) Visiting social sites is now the 4th most popular online activity – ahead of personal email! Care to change your mind?

5) Misconception #5: “I don’t need a professional to do social media for me” – Many executives think that they don’t need a professional to help them with their social media activities. They’ll just take a student who has a few hours a week and get him to sit on the social networks and play with their company’s branding. It’s inconceivable to me how on one hand companies can be so cautious regarding beginning to use social media and on the other hand they’ll give the work to a mere student who could ruin their branding in a few hours just to save a few bucks. In order to engage in social media campaigns that are effective and successful, companies should use social media expert services at least in the first few months just to understand the specific rules of each community. One must remember that Facebook, twitter, Mixx, Bebo are all communities with their own set of rules and it is crucial for brands to respect the community’s rules in order to survive. Just like a company wouldn’t take on its PR on its own without consulting with a PR expert first, a company should not delve into social media without consulting with a social media expert. After a few months of training, I believe brands can take the work upon themselves, but they must not forgo the training period as they could do more damage than good for their branding. These are the top five misconceptions I’ve heard regarding social media although I’ve heard many more. I would be delighted if you guys shared in the comments section some of the misconceptions that you’ve heard.

Sadie

Some Mindblowing Social Media Statistics

August 18, 2009
Image representing Flickr as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Here’s a repost of an e-consultancy article that I thought was awesome….

All this information is likely to be out of date in six months or so – but until then, they’re reasonably recent facts and once again I feel they demonstrate the meteoric rise and importance of this rapidly evolving area of online.

In no particular order:

  • Social networks and blogs are the 4th most popular online activities online, including beating personal email. 67% of global users visit member communities and 10% of all time spent on the internet is on social media sites.
  • If Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth most populated place in the world. This means it easily beats the likes of Brazil, Russia and Japan in terms of size.*
  • 80% of companies use, (or are planning to use), LinkedIn as their primary tool to find employees during the course of this year. The site has just celebrated reaching its 45-millionth membership.
  • Around 64% of marketers are using social media for 5 hours or more each week during campaigns, with 39% using it for 10 or more hours per week.
  • It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million listeners. Terrestrial TV took 13 years to reach 50 million users. The internet took four years to reach 50 million people… In less than nine months, Facebook added 100 million users.
  • Wikipedia currently has more than 13 million articles in more than 260 different languages. The site attracts over 60 million unique users a month and it’s often hotly debated that the information it contains is more reliable than any printed Encyclopaedia.
  • The most recent figure of blogs being indexed by Technorati currently stands at 133 million. The same report into the Blogosphere also revealed that on average, 900,000 blog posts are created within a single 24-hour period.
  • It’s been suggested that YouTube is likely to serve over 75 billion video streams to around 375 million unique visitors during this year.
  • The top three people on Twitter (Ashton Kutcher, Ellen DeGeneres and Britney Spears) have more combined followers than the entire population of Austria.*
  • According to Socialnomics, if you were paid $1 for every time an article was posted on Wikipedia, you would earn $156.23 per hour.
  • The online bookmarking service, Delicious, has more than five million users and over 150 million unique bookmarked URLs.
  • Since April this year, Twitter has been receiving around 20 million unique visitors to the site each month, according to some analytical sources.
  • Formed in 2004, Flickr now hosts more than 3.6 billion user images.
  • Universal McCann reports that 77% of all active internet users regularly read blogs.

Although these statistics look impressive, it needs to be remembered that no single piece of data can be used to base strategy or objectives upon, let alone be used as a forecast for future growth of a specific area of social media. To really drill down into a sector of interest, you need to fully aggregate and analyse all available data before making an informed decision or conclusion.

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3 Sure-fire Ways to Increase Conversions

August 17, 2009
Example of U-V color plane, Y value=0.
Image via Wikipedia

Increasing your website conversions is a sure-fire way of increasing your profits. Just image giving yourself an instant pay-raise by doubling your profits! You can do this in two ways, double the amount of visitors your website receives everyday or increase the conversion rates of your existing visitor count. In reality this looks like this, your website receives 100 visitors each day and you make two sales at a total of $500. To turn that $500 into $1,000 you need to aim at doubling your conversions. On the other hand, you could always turn your 100 daily visitors into 200 hundred to increase your conversions from two sales to four, making you the same $1,000. I think you’ll agree the latter one is harder work and just doesn’t make sense in the long run.

Website Design

A website should look nice but you really do not need lots of flash graphics. Flash graphics can seriously increase the time it takes for your website to load. Remember, you only have a few seconds to catch your visitor’s attention.

When designing your website you should also make sure that the navigation is logical with your categories are grouped sensibly. It should never take more than a few clicks to find an item and complete the checkout process.

Trim the Fat

Cut down on your website’s load time by hosting your images and videos on dedicated image and video hosting sites. You can then embed the images and videos directly into your website without your server taking the hit each time your website loads.

You’ll also want to place scripts (such as analytical and visitor tracking scripts) in the footer of your website so that they are the last things to load. Make sure you check with each script to ensure it can be placed somewhere other than within the tags.

Place a Lead Capture Form on your Website

This is one of the easiest ways to boost conversions, place a lead-capture form on your website. You will need to register for an account with a dedicated email service provider (ESP) to handle this but the low cost will be offset by the increase in your conversion rates. You’ll now need to simply add an ethical bribe (a reason for a visitor to give you their name and email address, such as, a free report or e-book) along with you lead capture form to start generating leads. As soon as you have a person’s name and email address you will be able to follow-up with them via email and work towards turning the visitor into a customer.

A dedicated ESP allows you to add emails into an autoresponder that will now send emails to your prospects on autopilot; you simply add the emails in the order you want your prospects to receive them and specify time between email (1 day – 7 days etc).

It can take (on average) 5 – 7 contacts with a prospect before they become a customer, making email, your autoresponder, a very powerful medium.

Sadie

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7 Questions Businesses Should Ask Before Doing Social Media

August 7, 2009
Jump on the social media bandwagon
Image by Matt Hamm via Flickr

When considering a social media marketing strategy, it is important to remember that social media marketing has only just entered the ‘prove it’ stage. In other words, whilst many are aware of social media and its potential benefits, there is no clear road map yet that businesses can adopt for guaranteed success. There are case studies of brands and businesses who have achieved a level of success but there are still many businesses who have not sought to use social media in their marketing process so there is a need for more evidence to breed strategies.

There seem to be some common questions about social media marketing which those many businesses who have not yet got involved in social media are seeking answers to, before embarking on a potentially time-consuming and unknown strategy. Here are seven of the top questions we are asked.

The first question has to be “Where do I start?” There is an ever-growing number of social media websites, and you need to research these before you decide which site(s) will be best not just for you, but to track down your target audience. Trying to second guess which social site will be the next big thing or which is going to fall out of favour is a bit like trying to herd cats, so you should spread your actions across more than one site, and keep a weather eye on developing trends.

Question 2 - What tactics should I use? Once you have decided which sites are appropriate for your marketing message, you need to understand which tactics are likely to work best in those places. Once again, this is a matter of not just research but also trial and error. However, don’t dive in to tweeting, for instance, without at the very least understanding the basics, the netiquette, and lurking for a while to see what others are doing, right and wrong.

Question 3 – What is social media netiquette? There is a fine line between communicating or socialising, and marketing, and ensuring you don’t cross that line will take some effort. There are unspoken rules in each of the social media ‘worlds’ but there are many experts who are happy to ensure that the community adheres to those, by educating newbies and so on, so seek out the people who are respected within those communities and ask for advice, or listen to what they are saying.

Question 4 - How do I measure whether it is working? You need to be clear that spending time and money on the tactics required for those sites will not dilute your core marketing message, nor distract from or conflict with other activities. You should ensure that you have processes in place to track effectiveness and return on investment, just as you do with other marketing efforts. Remember: metrics matter!

Question 5 – How much time should I spend? It is clear from the many who are already involved in social media that it can, without careful management, become a major time sink. Understanding this from the outset will mean that you can develop clear processes that do not eat into precious time that could be more profitably be spent elsewhere. This is not to say that marketing via social media cannot reap rewards, just that you should be aware that you can become consumed and even a victim of your own success.

Question 6 – Can things go wrong? The social media world is very viral, and one minor post can go global in hours or even minutes if it captures the imagination. This can lead to servers falling over, out of stock product landing pages, or your email inbox suddenly becoming fuller than your secretary can cope with. Automation and checking that your backend systems are fully functional is worth considering if you don’t want to be overwhelmed. Whilst it is not usual to find these problems happening, other events in the social media world outside of your control can contribute, and it is worth being aware of the potential for social media to make life that little bit harder than you were expecting!
If there are any known problems with your site, ordering systems, stock control etc, or you have been seeing poor conversions from other marketing tactics, then it would be wise to resolve these issues before becoming a social media marketer. If there is already something wrong with your website, you can count on it being pointed out publicly to many in the social media world!

Question 7 – What should I look to achieve? Understanding exactly what you want your social media efforts to lead to is a must. There is no point twittering or updating your profile purely for the sake of it. You should have clearly defined outcomes so that your actions lead to the results you wish for. This means that you also need to make sure that once you have driven your new audience in the direction you wish them to go, your website, newsletter, blog etc is also set up to help you achieve your aims.

Summary.

Social media marketing is definitely a must in the mix of internet marketing and promotion but you should enter the water cautiously. Not so cautiously that you don’t see results, but it is most definitely not a ‘dive in at the deep end’ strategy unless you are very thick skinned and/or ready to start a new business if this one goes down the tubes because of your social media mistakes!

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WTF is this Social Media Thing?

August 3, 2009

Future man social media

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