Archive for January, 2011

Best Twitter Guides, Tips and Tools of 2010

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Twitter came of age in 2010, growing at a scorching pace—from 75 million users at the beginning of the year to more than 190 million by the end of December. Twitter is used (officially) in 65 of the Fortune 100 companies, 63% of small to midsized businesses, and nearly half of all B2B enterprises.

Best Twitter Guides of 2010As adoption skyrockets, marketers are striving to optimize their use of the world’s most popular microblogging platform. And that leads to questions, like: What are the best ways to attract more (relevant) followers? What types of information are worth sharing, beyond blog posts? Which companies are really succeeding on Twitter, and how are they doing it? How can I get more retweets? What’s a Twitter chat, and how do I participate in one? Which are the most helpful third-party tools for Twitter?

Get the answers to these questions and more here in some of the best Twitter guides, tips and tools of the past year.

How to Get More Followers on Twitter

How to grow your Twitter following by iMedia Connection
***** 5 Stars
Based on research, Courtney Wiley reveals what type of content to tweet, when to tweet it, and the ideal frequency of tweeting to use in order to grow a Twitter following.

47 Twitter Power Users’ Secrets To Getting Many Followers by JobMob

A selection of the Twitterati share their advice—ranging from short snippets to fairly detailed guidelines—on how to grow your Twitter following. Robert Scobel, Dan Schawbel, Peter Shankman and many of the others are legit no doubt, though a few of the “power users” here are questionable. Still, lots of good advice.

How to Get More Twitter FollowersGet More Twitter Followers by Treating Your Profile Like a Landing Page by Social Times

Darko Johnson shows how to apply the principles of effective landing page design to your Twitter profile in order to increase the likelihood that people who see your profile will choose to follow you.

20 ways to increase the number of your followers on Twitter by Web SEO Analytics

Wisely warning against the use of automated programs or techniques, Vasilis Vryniotis offers 20 “white hat” best practices for increasing your Twitter following naturally, such as promoting your Twitter handle in online and offline locations (your blog, website, email signature and business cards), adding yourself to Twitter directories, and perhaps most important: mentioning and thanking the people who help you.

Why 150 Followers Is All You Really Need by TwiTip

Then again, do you really need more followers? Srinivas Rao uses the theory of Dunbar’s Number to argue that 150 followers is all one needs on Twitter. The author makes an intriguing case, but I’m not sure I buy it (particularly given that he follows over 1,300 people on Twitter).

How to Do Lots of Other Things on Twitter

16 bitchin’ commands and shortcuts for Twitter by eConsultancy

Want to quickly see the last tweet from a particular Twitterer? Or the most recent tweets mentioning that person? How about performing advanced searches on Twitter, like exact match, either/or, hyper-local (with x miles of…), or find questions you can answer? Chris Lake shows you how to do all of this and much more with these helpful Twitter shortcuts.

40 useful things you can share on Twitter besides blog posts by Social Media Today

Frequent best-of contributor Adam Vincenzini contends that “the more unusual and varied your stream is, the better—both for you and your followers.” And with that in mind, he lists more than three dozen types of items you can share on Twitter other that stuff from your RSS stream, such as a new app or tool (with a quick tweet review), an interesting hashtag or discussion, an interesting/relevant YouTube video or a link to a Twitter list you think is worth following.

7 Really Cool Things About the New Twitter by Social Media Today

Tia Peterson praises seven features of the new Twitter interface (such as the “Recently Listed” box, easy DM replies, and ability to send a tweet from any page) but also cites three areas that still need improvement.How Retweets Trail Off Over Time

How Many Times Do You Tweet Your Blog Post? by Ask Aaron Lee

Most bloggers tweet each of their posts only once. How many times should a post be tweeted? In this post, Aaron Lee and Guy Kawasaki recommend an ideal frequency, backed up with some highly logical reasoning. Spock would approve.

How Twitter increased my blog’s traffic by 300% in one week by MackCollier.com

Ever wonder exactly what impact Twitter can have on blog traffic? Mack Collier details an experiment he ran and shares the nitty gritty numbers and percentages, as well as the process he used, concluding “even if you only have 100 followers, you can still leverage Twitter as a tool to build your blog IF you are active on Twitter. Active interacting with others, engaging in conversations, and linking to valuable content.”

13 Twitter Tips for Increasing Engagement by Sazbean

Sarah Worsham lists helpful tips for increasing engagement and growing your following on Twitter, such as sharing and retweeting, asking questions, attending tweetups and using Twitter directories to find people in your industry.

Twitter success stories: Explaining the ROI of Twitter by {grow}

As Mark Schaefer explains, “There are MANY benefits to Twitter besides direct sales.  You might gain information, competitive intelligence, insight,  a new supplier or partner, publicity, brand awareness, an idea, customer insights, and yes, even a potential customer. And while all of these are great, most are intangible and difficult to display in an Excel spreadsheet! So why keep trying to do it?…When benefits are difficult to quantify, the best way to explain the value is through a story.”

8 Ways to Not Get ReTweeted by HubSpot Blog

Dan Zarrella uses extensive HubSpot research to show that practices like talking about yourself, dumbing down the readability of your tweets, eschewing links, and repeating the same things everyone else is saying are great ways to avoid being retweeted.

26 Twitter Tips for Enhancing Your Tweets by Social Media Examiner
***** 5 Stars
Debbie Hemley provides a highly creative A-Z list of practical tips for maximizing the business impact of your tweets, from Answers and Behind-the-Scenes info to utilizing YouTube and a Zippy Writing Style.

4 Rules for Marketing on Twitter by Practical eCommerce

Paul Chaney reveals the “unwritten” rules for earning influence on Twitter, for example: “Don’t Follow Just to Pitch. A distasteful trend has developed among newer Twitter users. For example, people are following me and when I respond in kind, their first tweets are frequently to pitch me on a website they want me to visit or a service they provide…If you want a formula for how marketing via Twitter and other social networks should work, it’s this: Connect > Converse > Convert.”

Calculating and Improving Your Twitter Click-through-Rate by SEOmoz

The brilliant but oblivious Rand Fishkin illustrates how to calculate your Twitter click-through rate (CTR) and notes some findings from his own experience: shorter tweets and those that are on-topic (whatever your primary topic is) tend to get retweeted more frequently. Somewhat surprisingly, Klout scores appear to have little correlation with retweet rates.

Twitter Dictionary | 35 Twitter Abbreviations by Bit Rebels

Primarily for Twitter newbies, Diana Adams defines nearly three dozen common Twitter / texting abbreviations such as DM (direct message), IRL (in real life) and Gr8 (self-explanatory).

Typecasting Twitter: 7 Top Uses by iMedia Connection

Noting that “Twenty nine percent, one in every three tweets yields some kind of reaction—comments, re-tweets or clicks. Ten percent prompt a reply to the original tweet. These are direct marketing nirvana numbers,” Daniel Flamberg dissects research to isolate the seven most common uses of Twitter.How to Follow a TweetChat

How to Participate in a Twitter Chat Session like #BlogChat or #AgChat by ag – a colorful adventure

For those who haven’t participated in a Twitter chat session before, Janice Person provides clear, step-by-step instructions for getting setup, using controls, and keeping up with the stream of conversation.

3 Absolutely Cool Twitter Search Tricks to Help You Save Money! by Sexy Social Media

In this helpful but brief post, Annie Wallace shares three clever Twitter search tricks you may not be aware of.

Best of 2010: 14 Ways Every Business Should Be Using Twitter by Inkling Media

Ken Mueller lists 14 practices businesses can adopt to optimize their benefit from Twitter, such as providing customer service, promoting events and monitoring competitors.

Twitter Tools

20 Top Twitter Monitoring and Analytics Tools by Pamorama

Pam Dyer serves up brief reviews of more useful Twitter tools including Twitscoop (trend-monitoring), TweetBuzzer (identifies popular brands on Twitter), Twitter Analyzer (kind of like Google Analytics for Twitter) and Tweeps (get stats that help you decide who to follow—or not—and find people you’d like to have following you).

How to Add a Tweet Button Anywhere by SitePoint

While there are several easy avenues to placing a Tweet button on a blog, Alyssa Gregory supplies simple instructions for adding Tweet buttons in other venues like emails, PDFs and Facebook pages.

11 Websites to Schedule Your Tweets Online for Free by TwiTip

Young Yang reviews free tools for scheduling tweets, like FutureTweets, HootSuite and SocialOomph. It’s important to remember that Twitter is a social platform, so your followers will expect interaction; if you’re busted relying too heavily on automated or pre-scheduled tweets, you will lose followers. However, these tools can be very helpful if used strategically and sparingly.

Tweetvolume

Type in any three words or phrases and compare how often each is tweeted about.TweetStats Twitter Statistics

5 Best Twitter Tools For Smarter Blogging by Smedio

Sridhar Ramunajam provides quick reviews of five helpful Twitter tools including dlvr.it for auto-publishing blog content to Twitter and TweetStats, which provides stats about your account (e.g., tweets per hour, tweets per month, tweet timeline) in graphical format.

Six Benefits to Using Twitter.com Instead of an App by TwiTip

Shannon Albert makes the case for using Twitter itself rather than a third-party app (e.g., HootSuite or TweetDeck) for interacting on Twitter: it’s faster, has no limits on Tweets per hour and lets you see other users’ custom backgrounds among other advantages.

Twitter Stats

All You Need to Know About Twitter in 2010 [Infographic] by Mediabistro

Lauren Dugan presents an infographic from Flowtown that reviews Twitter highlights of 2010, from Bill Gates setting up a Twitter account in January through celebrity digital death at year end.

Related Post

50 (of the) Best Twitter Guides, Stats, Tips and Tools of 2010 (So Far)

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Best Google AdWords Tips and Tactics of 2010

Friday, January 28th, 2011

According to recent research from eConsultancy, “Paid search consumes the largest portion of online lead generation budgets, accounting for 28% of spending (in 2010), up from 22% in 2009.” In addition, more than half of companies that use paid search increased their budgets for it last year.

Best AdWords Tips and Tactics of 2010There’s no question that paid search delivers leads, and no question that AdWords is the big dog in the PPC world. Yet many marketers struggle to optimize this channel in the face of increasing competition, changes to Google results pages (e.g. Google Instant) and changes within AdWords itself. How can you use AdWords reports to fine-tune campaigns? How do the new keyword targeting options work? When should you use the AdWords Editor? How can you optimize campaigns using search funnels? Where do image ads fit in the mix? And most vexingly, how can you fix low Quality Scores?

Find the answers to those questions and more here in some of the best Google AdW0rds tips, tactics and techniques of the past year.

4 Ways to Leverage Adwords Search Query Reports by PPC Blog

Four ways to generate actionable data from Adwords Search Query Reports, such as finding new keywords from phrase variations and synonyms, and identifying negative keywords to add to campaigns.

Including Image Ads In Your Marketing Mix by PPC Hero

“Image ads (a.k.a. banner ads) are run on the content network, and they are a great way to add an additional variable to your ad testing, and reach your customers in a new way.” This post outlines several considerations to keep in mind when using image ads on Google’s content network, as well as step-by-step instructions for setting up image ads.

3 Rarely Used AdWords Settings You Should Be Aware Of by Daily SEO Tip

Eric Gesinski explains how to adjust keyword bids by time of day, set up a custom area within which to display ads for local campaigns, and rotate ads evenly for proper A/B testing.

New keyword targeting feature rolling out globally by Google Inside AdWords

Dan Friedman illustrates how the new modified broad match keyword targeting option works, complementing the original broad, phrase and exact match options in AdWords.

AdWords Quality Score FactorsGoogle AdWords Quality Score Factors by PPC Blog
***** 5 Stars
An outstanding post detailing the factors that make up Google’s notorious Quality Score, the most important steps you can take to improve a low quality score, and which actions don’t really matter.

Uncovering Valuable Insights With Google’s Bid Simulator by MediaPost Online Media Daily

Comparing Google’s bid simulator to “a spreadsheet where marketers can test different scenarios to illustrate the real value between click and cost,” Jeff Licciardi explains how the bid simulator can be used to drill down to the revenue-per-click level and optimize bids to increase impressions, clicks and ROI.

5 Reasons Why We Love AdWords Editor by 1upDigital

The AdWords Editor, as Lucy White describes it, is “a free Google application that allows you to manage and update your Google AdWords campaigns offline, and then upload your changes to the online AdWords interface.” She details five reasons why this tool is helpful for managing large AdWords campaigns, among them the ability to find and replace, copy and paste, and make bulk changes (such as changing max cpc bids for a group of keywords).

Spotlight on AdWords Search Funnels – Part 1 by Google Conversion Room Blog

Noting that “The standard approach to conversion reporting traditionally focused on a customer’s last click on your ad. Search Funnels fills in the gaps on what happened before this last click!” Evelyn O’Keeffe steps through the benefits of and process of using AdWords Search Funnels to hone in on metrics such as assist clicks (clicks on one of your AdWords search ads that happened prior to a conversion) and assist impressions (unclicked ad impressions viewed prior to a conversion).

6 Steps To Raise Your Quality Score by PPC Hero

Amy Hoffman provides a helpful checklist of actions for improving quality score, such as using keywords in your ad copy and creating tightly themed ad groups.

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8 Ways to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign by Search Engine Journal

Larry Kim offers eight tips to improve the ROI from your AdWords campaigns, including using your prospects’ words, optimizing ad copy, and using long-tail keywords to get more conversions at a lower cost.

The New Google AdWords Feature You’re Not Using But Should Be by MediaPost Search Insider

Janet Driscoll Miller explains how the AdWords Call Metrics feature works, who can benefit from it, how to enable it, and how it “opens greater opportunity to effective, trackable mobile search advertising.”

Case Study: Improving Low Quality Score Accounts by PPC Hero

A practical, real-world case study that steps through four key areas for improving quality scores: tightly-focused ad groups, relevant landing pages, using keywords in ad copy, and taking advantage of all keyword match types.

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Is Salesforce.com a Player in Marketing Automation Software?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Guest post by Lauren Carlson.

Salesforce.com is the cloud computing darling of customer relationship management (CRM) software. They have significant control of mind share in that space, and their legacy in customer service and sales force automation software is strong. However, CRM is a trifecta. It is made up of sales, service and—wait for it—marketing! So, where does Salesforce.com stand as a marketing automation solution?

Salesforce.com Marketing & LeadsMarketing Automation Software Guide decided to answer this question. Up front, Salesforce.com will garner appeal because the marketing app is bundled with the Sales Cloud 2 product. You can’t argue with a free app. However, there are several best-of-breed players in the market that have developed robust, feature-rich systems that can handle the most sophisticated marketing strategies. So, when should Salesforce.com make your marketing automation software shortlist? When should you look elsewhere?

To answer these questions, MASG evaluated the system by looking at product functionality. They assessed the seven high-level functions of a marketing automation, identifying capabilities and gaps. You can view the chart on their blog post here.

For a more in-depth analysis, you can visit the MASG blog. However, the verdict is that Salesforce.com is a great place to start with marketing automation. It has the necessary tools and capabilities for very basic marketing activities such as limited email marketing and campaign management. However, as your company grows, your marketing activities might need to scale as well. In this case, we suggest seeking out a best-of-breed vendor, such as Marketo, Eloqua, Genius, Manticore Technology, Genoo or the wide variety of other systems. These vendors have sophisticated features and processes that can meet the needs of marketing teams in any size organization.

Lauren Carlson is a CRM Market Analyst with Software Advice.

FTC Disclosure: Webbiquity has no financial relationship with any of the vendors mentioned in this post.

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Best SEO Guides, Tips and Resources of 2010

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Ranking well in organic search results becomes more imperative every day, particularly in the B2B world. According to recent research, 9 out of 10 B2B buyers say that when they’re ready to buy, they’ll find you. 93% of these decision makers use search to begin the buying process. And it isn’t just low-level minions conducting searches at the behest of higher-ups; 63% of C-level executives say they first turn to mainstream search engines to locate information.

Best SEO Guides of 2010That makes optimization more important than ever, and leads to questions like: How can SEO be used in online reputation management? What common SEO mistakes are critical to avoid? How important are footer links to SEO? How can PDF content be optimized for search? How does the introduction of Google Instant change SEO tactics? What are the crucial tasks to include on site audit and pre-launch SEO checklists?

Find the answers to those questions and many more here in more than two dozen of the best guides to SEO tips, strategies, techniques and tactics of the past year.

SEO Basics

SEO: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners by KISS Metrics

Neil Patel provides an excellent and largely non-technical guide to SEO success, from keyword research and content development through meta tags, search-friendly URLs and link building.

Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide 2010- Plain Speak on SEO by WorkingPoint

For those without the time, inclination or webmaster jargon knowledge to read Google’s 32-page SEO Starter Guide, this blog post nets it out: choose the right keywords (based on your market knowledge, not so much what keyword tools tell you), optimize your site, pursue quality links, and unless you have such expertise internally—hire professional help.

SEO 101: Defining the long tail by Conversation Marketing

Ian Lurie lucidly explains the meaning of “long tail” in search with simple and compelling graphics showing that while individual “head” terms may get management salivating for top rank position, it’s the less sexy but more specific 3-word and longer queries that collectively generate more traffic and a much higher conversion rate.

What Is SEO, Really? by SEO Book

After providing an explanation of SEO, brief history of the discipline and recommendations on how to learn modern SEO techniques, Peter Da Vanzo concludes that SEO isn’t only about rankings—but it isn’t just about money either.

You WANT Rankings, But What Do You Really NEED? by Search Engine Guide

Frequent best-of contributor Stoney deGeyter elaborates on the “key components to a well-rounded optimization campaign,” including keyword research, website architecture, copywriting, on-page optimization, analytics and more.

Advanced SEO Tactics, Techniques and Considerations

The dangers of ranking No. 1 on Google by iMediaConnection
***** 5 Stars
Drew Hubbard quantifies both the value and risk of high rankings. On the value side, getting your site ranked #1 on both Google and Yahoo/Bing means you’ll attract (on average) 40% of ALL organic search clicks for that term. On the risk side, however, carefully choose which terms you really want to rank for. People search for different reasons. Ranking highly for an informational—rather than transactional—can end up drawing a ton of traffic to your site and putting a big load on your servers for no real business benefit. Ranking for high-conversion keywords is far more important (i.e. profitable) than just showing up well for high-traffic terms. Still, considering all of the worries that might keep an SEO pro up at night, this one is probably pretty low on the list.

How to optimize page Titles and improve click through rates by Web SEO Analytics

Vasilis Vryniotis runs through the basics of optimizing titles for search: make them brief, descriptive, attractive and branded, with the most important keywords up front.

25 tips to skyrocket your search engine rankings by Socialmedia.biz

Karan Singhal offers 25 tips that may not “skyrocket” your site’s rankings but should help, among them: understanding your target market and how they search, using internal linking with anchor text, utilizing keyword-rich URLs, and keeping your site’s content fresh.

SEO Ranking Factors - HubSpot12 Amazing SEO Infographics by HubSpot Blog
***** 5 Stars
Kipp Bodnar compiles an outstanding, highly bookmarkable set of SEO infographics suitable for printing out and posting in a highly visible location. Examples include the SEO Order of Operations (grab and include with the post?), SEO vs. PPC stats, and the ROI of SEO.

Search Marketing in a B2B World – PPC and SEO by SlideShare

Magnus Nilsson guides b2b marketers through search optimization in this online presentation, from recognizing the differences between how buyers search at home versus at the office, and how different types of business buyers search, to using analytics to measure what’s really important.

Do You Make Any of These 10 Simple SEO Mistakes? by KISS Metrics

Kristi Hines details 10 common SEO mistakes and how to correct them, such as focusing on link quantity over quality and not creating compelling, linkworthy content.

SEO Raises Awareness and Reputation Better than PPC by MarketingSherpa Blog

Adam T. Sutton reports on MarketingSherpa research showing that more marketers view SEO as “very effective” than PPC at increasing brand/product awareness (42% to 34%), improving brand/product reputation (29% to 19%) and improving PR (27% to 6%). For many if not most companies, PPC and SEO should both be part of the marketing mix; but it’s important to recognize their differing and often complementary strengths.

The Business Of Burying Internet Search Results by NPR

Noting that “The Internet can be a hostile place, with powerful companies paying handsome sums to hide negative content in Google search results…Unseen battles are waged every day to protect and destroy brands and reputations,” Peter O’Dowd demonstrates how companies and political figures are turning to content marketing and SEO to push negative mentions of them off the front page of search results.

The Problem with Footer Links in SEO by WordStream Internet Marketing Blog

Lior Levin writes that footer links generally don’t carry much weight with search engines: “Since the webmaster has heavily devalued the link, it only makes sense that the search engines would as well.” While footer links have valid purposes, important links should be placed more highly, and prominently, on the page.

We’ll Stop Screaming “Relevance” When You Start Listening by Search News Central

Gabriella Sannino demonstrates the centrality of relevance to search results by stepping through the process of optimizing a single page, from keyword targeting and meta tags to content development and link-building through guest posts or bylined articles.

Google Webmaster Tools - Internal Link GraphThe Art and Science of SEO Site Audits [Best of SEW 2010 #10] by Search Engine Watch
***** 5 Stars
Adam Audette outlines an extensive checklist and process for performing SEO site audits, including on-page and off-page factors, reporting, and audit tools.

Twitter & Facebook links affect SEO on Google and Bing by Web SEO Analytics

Another noteworthy post from Vasilis Vryniotis, this one detailing how search engine are using social signals to impact rankings and what type of information the search engines attempt to glean from links in social media.

Fundamentals of PDF Optimisation for Search by Bruce Clay

Explaining that “Properties to a PDF are what meta tags are to a web page,” Aaron Egan demonstrates how to use text, properties, tags and navigation to make PDF documents as search-friendly as possible.

The SEOmoz Internal SEO Pre-Launch Checklist by The Daily SEO Blog

Aaron Wheeler outlines critical (e.g., title tag, URL structure, image alt tags) and “worth double-checking” (robots.txt file, H1 tags, images optimized) SEO tasks to complete prior to launch. Danny Dover elaborates on this SEO “cheat sheet” in the accompanying video.

Google Instant and SEO

Google Instant: Fewer Changes to SEO than the Average Algo Update by The Daily SEO Blog

Rand Fishkin pulls data from a variety of sources to show that the introduction of Google Instant had only subtle impacts on search behavior.

Google Instant Results for Toyota6 Ways to Ensure Better Rankings in Google Instant by Search Engine Journal

Kristi Hines here offers a half-dozen tips for ranking better in Google Instant, though most are just good solid SEO practice regardless, such as thinking like searchers, keeping your online reputation clean and producing content in a variety of formats—not just text.

Google: Complexity is Good! by SEO Book
***** 5 Stars
Aaron Wall posts an entertaining and informative rant on how the increasing complexity of Google search (incorporating personalization, social signals, video results, Google Instant, etc.) has also led to a proliferation of bugs. A quote that every SEO should print out in a large font and tape up on his or her wall: “Sometimes you don’t rank because you screwed up. But sometimes you don’t rank because Google screwed up.”

SEO Planning for 2011 by Search Engine Watch

Eric Enge reviews some of the most impactful changes for search optimization in 2010 (e.g., May Day, Caffeine, Instant) and identifies four key factors SEO practitioners will need to focus on for search success in 2011.

SEO for Bing

SEO Tips for Bing by MarketingProfs

With Bing now accounting for roughly 30% of organic search in the U.S., John Pring provides timely advice on how to optimize for this search engine and differences from Google; while backlinks, pagerank and fresh content matter less to Bing, many of the same factors (keyword research and density, an XML sitemap) apply.

SEO for Bing: Don’t Ignore It by Search Engine Watch

Stating that “Google is absolutely watching Bing’s every move, and search marketers should be doing the same thing,” Adam Audette predicts that Bing’s market share will grow and provides several general (e.g., clean code, quality content) and specific (use XML sitemaps and keep them up to date) tips on optimizing for the #2 search engine.

Google Webmaster Tools and SEO

Beginner’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools by KISS Metrics

Neil Patel (again) provides an outstanding primer on the functions and use of Google Webmaster Tools, from adding your site and uploading an XML site map through sitelinks, settings, identifying your best external links and keywords, and much more.

Google Webmaster Tools 101 by ClickZ

Ron Jones explains how to use Google Webmaster Tools to diagnose SEO problems and make improvements in different areas (HTML, internal links, keywords) to optimize overall website performance.

Related Post

40 (of the) Top SEO Guides, Tips and Resources of 2010 (So Far)

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31+ of the Coolest Social Media, Search and Web Tools of 2010

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Looking for an easy way to create a cool graphical email signature with trackable interactive buttons? Supplement your email list with your contacts’ social network info? Find out if the username or vanity URL you want is still available across dozens of social sites? Display a feed of brand-related comments from a variety of social networks on your website? Create video emails? Convert PowerPoint presentations to Flash, or into YouTube videos? Search for a brand name or keyword across all of the most popular social networks at once? Monitor social media discussions of your company or product in real time? Create animations? Promote events through social media? Gather competitive intelligence?

Best Cool Social Media, Search and Web Tools of 2010Economic conditions may have been tough in 2010, but there was no shortage of online innovation. Discover how to accomplish all of the tasks above and more using some of the coolest free and modestly priced social media and web tools released in the past year or so.

Cool Social Media Tools

eSig

A slick tool with free and fee-based options for creating graphical email signatures, adding interactive buttons and even tracking click-throughs from the different elements of your email signature.

Flowtown

A handy way to supplement your email contact list with information about those prospects from the most popular social networks.

namechk

Check dozens of popular social networking and social bookmarking websites to see if the username or vanity url you want to use is still available.

JustUnfollow

Don’t want to follow Twitterers who aren’t following you? This tool makes unfollowing non-followers easy.

Klout Score for TomPickKlout

A free tool for finding the relative influence of any Twitter user. For those accustomed to getting stratospheric scores on standardized tests, Klout can seem a bit harsh. If you need more of an ego boost, try TwitterGrader.

paper.li

Create your own online newspaper from Twitter and Facebook updates based on any topic or group of contributors. Your custom paper is updated daily and easy to share.

DialogFeed

***** 5 Stars

Display a feed of brand-related comments from a variety of social networks on your website. Highlight the best comments, selectively hide comments (e.g. that are irrelevant or profane), and enable site visitors to share comments back to their social networks without leaving your website.

twebevent

A free service for setting up, promoting and hosting Twitter chats.

Social and Alternative Search Engines

48ers

A realtime social search engine that pulls current and recent results for any term from Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz, Digg and Delicious. Searches can also be filtered by platform.

Qwiki Search for Gwyneth PaltrowQwiki

A different kind of search engine, Qwiki (currently in alpha) delivers a combination of audio, images and text in response to searches on an expanding variety of topics. In the site’s words, “Think of asking your favorite teacher about Leonardo Da Vinci, or your most well-traveled friend about Buenos Aires: this is the experience Qwiki will eventually deliver, on demand, wherever you are in the world… on whatever device you’re using.”

MyLife

A powerful people search tool. Find long-lost acquaintances, extended family members, or a future love interest. Discover what information is available about a potential future boss or employee. Interesting, though the “Who’s searching for you” feature appears to be more a spammy sales tool than a functional offer.

Blekko’s Tools Give Search Marketers Google Alternative by MediaPost Online Media Daily

Granted, the web is littered with “Google killer” alternative search engines, but Blekko, created by Rich Skrenta and Mike Markson, is really cool. It enables users to perform slashtag searches, so for example, rather than just searching for “social media marketing” and getting a zillion results of all types, you can search for “social media marketing /blogs” to see only results from blogs. Or use /forums too see only results from discussion forums, /date to sort results by recency, or even create your own slashtags.

Social Media Monitoring Tools

Lithium

A feature-rich, realtime social media monitoring and engagement tool. In addition to customizable search and sentiment monitoring, the Buzz Tracking feature provides realtime “metrics around how much buzz is out there, how much of it is yours, how much of it is your competitors’, and what’s buzzing industry-wide.” Lithium also includes response assignment and reporting tools. A free trial is available.

BackType - Social Media Monitoring and Analytics ToolBackType

A slick, easy to use social media monitoring and alerts tool. Create an account or try it out by setting up a free alert in just seconds.

Actionly

A social media monitoring tool that tracks your brand and keyword searches across Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Youtube, Google Buzz, Blogs, and News, and reports results hourly. Actionly also includes Twitter account management and analytics tools.

Sysomos

A realtime social media monitoring tool featuring sentiment analysis, key influencer tracking, and the ability to sort/view results by geography and demographics. Sysomos has an impressive blue chip customer list and the company’s recent acquisition by Marketwire gives it solid brand and investment backing.

Wildfire Social Media Monitor

Measure your social media marketing performance with tracking tools for the major social media networks, keep tabs on competitors and compare your results to theirs, and get alerts about trends and social media activity. Wildfire is designed to enable organizations to easily create branded interactive campaigns (e.g. sweepstakes, contests and surveys) and publish them to multiple social networks and their own website. Pricing ranges from $30 to $150 per month.

Other Cool Web Tools

Proclaim Messenger

Proclaim Messenger enables you to easily combine pre-recorded or live video with PowerPoint presentations to produce video email campaigns (with full analytics), one-off video sales emails, or hold live one-to-one or small group video chats. Pricing ranges from $30 to $100 per month depending on features.

Runaware

Runaware’s TestDrive® suite of services provides software developers with marketing tools and a hosted interactive online demo environment that allows customers to evaluate real software in their web browser, complete with tutorials and detailed usage reporting. Runaware’s Cloud Platform offerings enable clients to experiment and evaluate SaaS and PaaS using their own application without requiring any modifications.

Wondershare

An inexpensive tool for converting PowerPoint to Flash web files, ideal for creating online presentations, Flash banners, photo albums, e-cards and more. You can import other Flash files and audio as well as record narration. The output can be saved as a Flash file for the web, converted to a self-running executable, used to create an auto-run CD or sent as an email attachment.

Qirina

Billing itself as a “keyword analysis and comparison engine,” Qirina is a simple but useful SEO evaluation tool that helps users understand a site’s position in the keyspace, assess the quality of the site’s on-site SEO, and identify competitors in search.

Reviews of More Cool Web Tools

Another Cool Tool To Optimize Your Site Loading Speed by Daily Blog Tips

Now that Google is taking site loading time into consideration as a ranking factor, webmasters are feeling the need for speed as never before. Here’s a quick review of WebPageTest, a handy tool for checking any site’s pre- and post-cache load times.

6 slick news aggregators you should try by iMedia Connection

Josh Rose reviews six “news aggregators (including Popurls, Netvibes and Alltop) that…are moving beyond the simple RSS reader. These are customizable tools that can be shaped into exactly the right resource for the most important information you need to know.”

PowerPoints That Turn Into YouTube Videos Create Instant Marketing Tool by MediaPost Search Blog

Laurie Sullivan provides an update on Brainshark, “a tool that turns PowerPoint decks into YouTube videos. The platform turns a presentation into a video slideshow (with voiceover/audio) formatted to upload onto YouTube with one click.”

Dvolver Moviemaker6 Free Sites for Creating Your Own Animations by Mashable

Sarah Kessler reviews a half-dozen free and (mostly) easy to use tools for creating online animations, including GoAnimate, Devolver, Xtranormal and Voki.

6 Newfangled Social Media Tools Worth Discovering by Convince & Convert

Jay Baer shares his thoughts on a small collection of tools worth checking out, including Curate.Us, which is sort of a social media-friendly version of ClipMarks; Formulists, a slick tool for automatically creating lists of your Twitter followers based on criteria you select such as having a similar follower count or having retweeted you in the past month; and Wibiya, which lets you create a custom footer bar for your blog or website that enable users to easily translate a page, share it via their social networks, link to your YouTube channel or perform other actions.

12 Social Media Tools for B2B Pre-Event Marketing by Social Media B2B

***** 5 Stars

Adam Holden-Bache presents a dozen tools that can “help event organizers extend an event’s visibility, attendance and pre-event conversations,” from LinkedIn Events and Facebook Events to build attendance, to location-based services for event check-in, to Slideshare for leveraging presentation content after the event.

MentionMap for TomPick on Twitter11 Twitter & Social Media Tools To Try In 2011 by COMMS Corner

***** 5 Stars

The brilliant Adam Vincenzini reviews a collection of highly useful social media tools including Twoolr for Twitter statistics, MentionMap for analyzing “what a particular person is talking about on Twitter and who they are talking to,” TouchGraph for visualizing where your site is being mentioned, and Citrify, a simple yet effective web-based photo editing tool.

The Best Things In Life Are Free: 10 Tools For Digital Professionals That Don’t Cost A Dime by MediaPost Online Media Daily

A quick review of 10 free tools for online marketers, for tasks like keyword research, competitive intelligence gathering, social media monitoring, test marketing and presentations.

Most Popular Free Windows Downloads of 2010 by Lifehacker

***** 5 Stars

The most popular free Windows tools of 2010, including Soluto for speeding up slow PCs, Snow Transformation for those who want their Windows screen to look like a Mac, Freemake video converter and editor, and MultiBootOS– a true geek tool that lets you load multiple operating systems onto a USB drive and select between them at boot-up.

4 Social Media Predictions for 2011 by oneforty blog

Social media monitoring tools are predicted to get both more sophisticated and less expensive in 2011, and several interesting vendors are cited here including Argyle Social, viralheat, Beevolve and eCairn.

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20+ Cool Social Media and Web Tools

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