Archive for January, 2013
With its progression of benignly named yet ferocious algorithm updates (Farmer, Panda, Penguin), Google continues, in its efforts to battle webspam, to confound and make life more difficult for legitimate SEO professionals and their clients as well.
Fortunately, there are a large and growing number of tools available to help SEO practitioners adapt and carry on their valiant efforts to help Google bring the most relevant (usually anyway) results to the top.
What are the best tools for finding and eliminating broken links? Which tools work best outside the U.S.? How can you develop a keyword strategy that will set your site (or your client’s site) apart from the competition? Which tools beyond the most common are most useful for developing target keyword lists?
Find the answers to these questions and many more here in almost a dozen of the best guides to SEO tools and keyword research of the past year.
SEO Tools and Reviews
Search Engine Tools:Some of the Best SEO Tools are Free…Take a Look! by Coconut Headphones
Ted Ives offers quick reviews of almost a dozen of his “personal favorite free search optimization tools for SEO,” including Xenu Link Sleuth (“Perfect for finding broken links and much much more”), Screaming Frog (“an ideal tool for performing a quick site audit”) and the SEOQuake Toolbar (“great for rapidly doing a competitive analysis on a SERP”).
Top SEO Tools for 2012 by Mark The Marketer
Mark Gottlieb reviews nine of his favorite free and fee-based SEO tools, including some common ones like SEOmoz and Screaming Frog as well as some that may be less familiar, such as Keyword Blaze (“Keyword Blaze is one of the best if not the best keyword research tool”—and it’s free.)
78 Resources For Every Internet Marketer’s Toolkit by Search Engine Watch
**** 5 STARS
Dave Davies provides an outstanding list and mini-reviews of almost 80 of his “favorite resources based on what they yield and what they produce from a dollar-in-dollar-out perspective,” ranging from SEO audit and link building tools to coding tools, conversion tools, social media tools and “convenience” tools like Domain Tools (“Quick and easy access to domain information including registration, server details and location and some basic SEO information”).
Link Rot – and the Most Amazing Free Tool to Find and Fix Broken Links by Internet Marketing Ninjas
Writing that “There are diseases on the web that you don’t want to get, and if you’ve had a website online for years, or if your site links to other sites, then there’s a great chance that you’ve caught some Link Rot… it doesn’t sound nice, and it’s really not nice,” Jim Boykin explains what link rot is and links to a new tool to fix it.
40+ SEO Tools of the Trade by Search Engine Watch
Derek Edmond presents a categorized list of tools for on-page SEO analysis, keyword research, content generation, social media profile link info, competitive analysis, link diagnosis and other functions, then addresses SEO tools for Asia and takes an in-depth look at Bing Webmaster Tools.
Bing Offers Up a Free Link Graph by SEOBook
Aaron Wall interviews Duane Forrester of Bing about the search engine’s new SEO tools and product roadmap. The two discuss Bing’s link explorer tool in detail, covering topics such as the size of the tool’s index, search filters, future product plans, trends, marketing strategy and more.
14 Search Tools to Bookmark by Search Engine Watch
Duncan Parry reviews a collection of “really useful tools, some of which you will use every day” including StatsCounter (which provides “data on the market shares of search engines, browser versions, computer, and mobile hardware and operating systems here for most countries”) and keyword tools from Google, Yandex, Baidu, SEOBook, Ubersuggest and YouTube.
Keyword Research Guides and Tools
Be Careful Using AdWords for Keyword Research by The Daily SEO Blog
Rand Fishkin points out some of the limitations of the Google AdWords keyword for organic keyword research, lessons learned from one of his experiments (“Running discovery-focused searches in AdWords may not show you all the valuable/high-volume keyword phrases connected to a word/phrase”), and four methods for addressing this challenge.
For experienced SEO professionals, Ron Jones walks through a set of questions to ask when formulating keyword strategy, such as goals (primarily branding or conversion?), measures of success, keyword-landing page mapping, selection criteria beyond search volume (e.g., relevance, intent and level of competition) and more.
22 Free Keyword Research Tools by Practical eCommerce
Noting that “Choosing the right keyword is the foundation of successful search engine optimization,” Sig Ueland reviews nearly two dozen tools designed to help identify the most promising keywords for a site, ranging from the familiar (the Google AdWords keyword tool, SEMrush) to the more esoteric (Soovle, Trendistic, MetaGlossary).
An Introduction to Keyword Research Using Free Tools by The YouMoz Blog
Astutely noting that “Many SEOs will tend to stick with using Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool and as a result, they will most likely be targeting the exact same keywords as the competition,” Adam Whittles outlines a contrarian strategy based on long tail keywords, staring with basic research and competitive intelligence and progressing through research tools, filtering and measurement.
Guest post by Megan Totka.
The benefits of social media are clear: huge outreach, easy to use, low cost and (assumed) high ROI, not to mention a wide variety of options. In no way would I recommend anyone stop using social media as a marketing tool. In fact, I’m a huge advocate of it. But after months or even years of use, you will likely learn, there are a lot of things to hate about these websites; that even though it’s become an essential marketing channel, social media still sucks. There are plenty of posts about Facebook rants as well. These things can sap the life from you if you aren’t careful. Be sure to be aware of these bad qualities so your business can still make the most of this marketing phenomenon. Here are five things I dislike about social media and how to overcome them:
- The grammar, typos and autocorrect errors. Everyone is in a rush these days. “I love you” suddenly becomes “I luv u.” There are shortcuts for everything. LOL, TTYL, BRB… I could go on 4evr. Grammar goes out the window when users are squeezing their message into 140 characters. Typos are a normal occurrence since many messages are posted quickly without being double checked for errors. And with smart phones becoming the standard, autocorrect has become the new typo. You spell a word wrong and you can blame it on autocorrect. Or if your thumbs are just going at it too fast, who knows what your message will end up looking like. For businesses, I’d encourage you to treat your Facebook statuses and Tweets just like you would print ads. Give them a second glance and make sure your writing is up to par. Try to use a laptop or desktop if possible. Phones simply make it too easy to make mistakes. If you want followers to take you seriously then you don’t want them to see you as another one of their lazy buddies.
- The minimal shelf life. If you have a sale or promotion going on at your business, one post about it just won’t cut it. What you post on Monday morning is long gone by Tuesday. Social media has a multimillion user reach, but for each individual update, the reach is short lived. To overcome this, businesses need to be consistent with posts and updates. If you are running a sale for the week, make sure your followers know. Make each post a little different and make it fun. Don’t overdo it though; I wouldn’t recommend more than two of the same topic posts in the same day.
- The lack of control over the software. Let’s face it, social media changes at the drop of a hat. The minute you get used to a forum and style, it gets changed. There is nothing you can really do to prevent this because you don’t own the software. To prepare though, keep your marketing strategy simple. Do not rely on posting an update in an exact way, shape or form but instead just plan on what you will say and when. Do not plan too far ahead, so if there is a change, there is only a one or two week transition to your new plan.
- The overkill. Personal users of social media talk about everything. Moms post about being thrown up on and every milestone their child reaches. Students post about drinking too much, sleeping in and college sports. Men post about cars, electronics, guns and politics. And nearly everyone seems to post abundantly about what they are eating or what they are doing all day long.If you are a business, post only about your business.If you are a small business owner and you have a basic fan page versus a huge sponsored costly Facebook business page, it may be tempting to mix your business with personal. “Little Sophie had a big diaper explosion so I’m behind on custom necklace orders this morning. Sorry ladies!” In a sense, you want your followers to know you are human but bringing your kids into it, especially with something that’s way TMI (see I did it…) is not acceptable. It’s not professional and enough gross excuses will have your readers running.
- It’s transparent. The worst thing about social media is the ability for an individual to be anyone they want. One user can have five profiles if they really wanted. ROI cannot be determined because of this. There’s a systematic approach to knowing how many people read each of your posts, follow you or like your page but this does not tell you how much money you are making based on the time you spend on social media. This is one of the biggest complaints businesses have about social media. Facebook has a pages app that helps businesses in this respect but it still has the loophole of not knowing how many of those “reaches” belong to an individual person rather than the same person 100 times. Keep this in mind before putting a lot of money into your social media marketing, especially if you need to know accurate figures for ROI.
What do you think? What are your least favorite qualities about social media websites or marketing using them?
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. Browse the local business directory by state and city to find a local business near you.
As noted in 21 (of the) Best Facebook Guides, Tools and Rants of 2012 So Far a few months back, Facebook remains the 800-pound gorilla of the social networking world. It’s now exceeded one billion users, and as noted below, 80% of all businesses maintain an active Facebook presence.
But its incessant changes, moves to charge brands and celebrities for exposure they’ve become accustomed to getting for free, and possibly even (gasp!) aging demographic may be cause for concern.
Will Facebook lose ground to Google+? Is it becoming uncool? Or if not—how have recent changes in Facebook’s layout changed best practices for marketers? what are the secrets to Facebook advertising success?
Find the answers to these questions and more here in two dozen of the best Facebook guides, tips, stats, facts, raves and rants of 2012.
Facebook Tips and Guides
The Simple Science of Facebook Engagement by MyBeak Social Media
Laura-Lee Walker shares an infographic that reveals the “formula to follow” for greater engagement on Facebook. Among the key findings: “Include images with posts. This increases the likelihood that fans will engage with your fan page (39 percent higher than average).” The infographic also shows the best (and worst) times to post, contest ideas, “winning words” to include in updates and more.
SEO for Facebook – New Video Revealed by Search Engine Journal
Adria Saracino points readers to a video produced by Facebook that provides business owners and marketers with tips on how to optimize their Facebook pages for search engines. She writes that “The video takes users step-by-step through a number of processes for building an optimized Facebook page with a good name and quality, relevant content.”
Mustaza Mustafa presents a richly illustrated, step-by-step process for using the CertifiedSeller app to add a Twitter profile link to your tab on Facebook timeline. Commenters note that Facebook could certainly do something to make this process easier, but the method here does work.
Nine Ways To Improve Your Facebook Engagement and ROI by MENGonline
David Lund details nine tactics for improving marketing effectiveness on Facebook, such as “Use Facebook to communicate your new news and introduce new products. Your followers are more interested than most consumers in news about your products and brand. They will likely be early adopters and advocates that can help build word of mouth BUZZ about your new products.” Though targeted at consumer marketers, many of the tips apply to b2b marketing as well.
Understanding the 6 Facebook Post Types by Practical eCommerce
***** 5 STARS
Paul Chaney explains in detail the six types of posts that can be added to a Facebook page along with “reasons why you would use them and best practices for each post type” and tips for the best use of each post type, for example on video posts, “Don’t put logos in the video. Harvard researchers found that the more prominent or intrusive the logo, the more likely viewers are to stop watching, even if they know and like the brand.”
How to Do a Facebook Personal Profile Security Audit by Seriously Social
Ian Anderson Gray shows how to do an in-depth personal security audit on Facebook, covering everything from password updates and recognized devices to adding a “do not track” plugin and navigating Facebook’s privacy settings. While this process is for personal profiles, Ian notes “if you do manage a Facebook page, make sure all your admins run a security audit on their personal profiles each month. There are serious issues here, because your page could be compromised by the security settings of one of your page’s administrators.”
Jonathan Greene provides a detailed, illustrated five-step process for using Facebook Insights to identify patterns and trends that can make your social media marketing much more effective, or as he puts it, “Filtering your posts by certain KPIs might reveal very rewarding patterns in engagement and syndication, which could be the push you need to take your social campaigns to the next level.”
13 ways to boost your Facebook Page reach by Socialbrite
Arguing that “Marketers who are whining about (Facebook forcing people to pay to have their page updates reach their Facebook fans) need to put down the tissues and realize that promoted posts are simply one option among many to amplify reach,” John Haydon delves into the inner workings of Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm and offers 13 recommendations for reaching fans without writing a check, including posting awesome content (based on thorough analysis of past performance) and using your blog, events and webinars to increase visibility.
5 Successful Facebook Marketing Campaigns – Case Studies by jeffbullas.com
It’s easy to generate tremendous traffic and buzz on Facebook if you’re a major brand advertiser with buckets of money to spend, but what about small businesses with much more limited means? Jeff Bullas very helpfully here offers small to midsized business marketers some proven tactics for Facebook marketing success and then shares five case studies from small firms that have made a splash on the giant social network with cleverness and creativity, on a budget.
Stop Looking at Facebook’s Insights by Inkling Media
Ken Mueller makes a compelling case for, well, not quite ignoring Facebook’s Insights, but at least putting those numbers in proper perspective. Noting that “I honestly put very little weight in Facebook insights. They change how things are measured on a regular basis, and if you spend any time poring over the numbers, you know they clearly don’t add up. I wish they did, but they don’t,” he outlines five reasons not to obsess over these metrics—and what to focus on instead.
Facebook Promoted Posts and Other Recent Updates of 2012 by Vertical Measures
Sarah Schager shares updates on nine post-Timeline Facebook changes, including promoted posts (only for brands with at least 400 fans), changes to how to links are handled within status updates, events, and the inclusion of mobile views in the reach metric (finally).
Facebook Simplifies Ad Creation With Redesigned Self-Serve Tool by Sprout Social
Jennifer Beese explains Facebook’s recent changes to its self-service ad creation tool and notes “Once you’ve chosen what you’d like to advertise and listed your main objective, Facebook will recommend a combination of traditional sidebar ads and Sponsored Stories. Additionally, you’ll receive a preview of how our Sponsored Stories will appear in people’s’ News Feeds.”
12 Latest Facebook Page Features You Might Have Missed by Social @ Blogging Tracker
The delightful Wong Ching Ya details a dozen of Facebook’s relatively new features, including onsite notification (which provides page administrators with “instant page notifications in your profile’s homepage for new posts, fan messages, comments or whenever someone liked your page posts”), target page posts, and Facebook custom audiences (“Brand pages can now target their offline audiences on Facebook through relevant ads by uploading info such as email addresses, phone numbers or Facebook user IDs”).
You’ve probably read about the dismal click-through rates for Facebook ads, but Dan Slagen here offers guidance on beating the averages through high relevance and a compelling call to action, then presents examples of brands generating strong performance with Facebook advertising.
Facebook Upgrades Small Business Site by MediaPost
Noting that small business advertisers are vital to Facebook (and Facebook is an important marketing platform for many small businesses), Mark Walsh reports on efforts by Facebook to help small businesses create more effective ads and generally use the social network more effectively, including tips like: “Ensure you know people are coming to your business because they found you on Facebook: whisper codes, unique Facebook links to your site, friend referrals, exclusive Facebook discounts. Also, put your Facebook URL on more of your in-store materials—receipts, napkins, brochures, etc., to increase fanning of your Page.”
15 Tips For A Successful Facebook Ads Program by MediaWhiz
Adam Riff shares 15 “secrets” to optimize Facebook advertising, such as rotating ads frequently to combat banner blindness, tracking metrics beyond basic “likes,” testing occupational targeting, and leveraging Facebook data to make smarter media buys through other channels (“The great thing about Facebook data is that it can give you insights about your consumer base that you might not have otherwise known”).
Noting that “Facebook seems to be launching a new form of advertising—or some new feature within the advertising—every day,” Amanda Sibley details the features and usage of Facebook’s five forms of on-page advertising in this thorough and helpfully illustrated post.
Facebook 2012 Facts and Figures for Small Business Success by MyBeak Social Media
Laura-Lee Walker (again) shares a huge collection of Facebook facts in this infographic, such as that 58% of Facebook’s one billion+ users visit the site daily; the average Facebook visits lasts 20 minutes; 80% of businesses are active on Facebook; the two most popular apps are the Blackberry Smartphones App and Texas Holdem Poker; and much, much more.
Frequent best-of writer Laurie Sullivan reports on Facebook’s efforts to make it simple for small businesses to connect with their customers on Facebook, noting “About one-third of the 100,000 small businesses that have published Offers are new Facebook advertisers, and about 30% are claimed on mobile devices,” and that “Facebook (now) supports more than 13 million small and local business pages.”
Facebook Rants and Raves
Is Google Unstoppable? by MediaPost
John Capone details advertising statistics and projections that suggest, over the next couple of years, in terms of advertising revenue, “Google will begin to leave Facebook and the rest (of the major ad sellers) in the dust.” He describes Google as The Predator of the online advertising world, while Facebook is more like Barney the purple dinosaur.
5 reasons your brand doesn’t need Facebook by iMedia Connection
Peter Platt sets out to dispel five “myths” of Facebook marketing, among them that Facebook is an engagement platform for brands: “A couple of years back, we wanted to ‘like’ brands so we could see what their offers were. But all too often, brands became that annoying friend who posted too much, and we quickly learned to hide or unfriend those brands. Brands also started building out complex Facebook platforms with lots of functionality and engagement tools, but the reality is that the news feed is the core of Facebook activity. Complex portals garner some interest, but at the end of the day, the news feed is where most of the users are.”
Kyle Spencer advises investors that although Mark Zuckerberg may have discovered he really does need to listen to the market, there are five things to keep in mind before diving into this stock, such as that the kids are somewhere else: “There was a time when Facebook was cool. Not anymore. 65% of Facebook users are 35 and older, and adults are the fastest growing demographic…Why is it important where teens hang out? Because parents follow their kids around on the Internet. Teens are the first adopters, the fastest social innovators and have more free time to surf the net. Jumping ship keeps teenagers one step ahead of mom and dad. Remember AOL? It’s an old folks home, now.”
Facebook is for Likes Not Leads by Brent Price Carnduff
Writing that “The truth is, most of those 900 million people (actually over a billion now) aren’t there to be marketed to. And frankly, Facebook doesn’t make it that easy for businesses to connect with them,” Brent Carnduff outlines what he believes Facebook can, and can’t, do for marketers and business owners.
Facebook: Are the Good Times Really Over for Good? by WindMill Networking
Chris Treadaway laments recent changes by Facebook that make it more expensive—much more expensive—for brands to reach fans with their content. He cites recent criticism of the social media network by Mark Cuban, George Takei, and a range of Facebook community managers, yet in the end concludes “It’s going to cost us more to do the things that we’ve gotten for low cost so far…but we won’t go anywhere.” Maybe.
Guest post by Athena Newton.
If you were to do a Google search for some of the top social networking sites, you’ll almost certainly stumble across a news story concerning privacy issues with user data.
Though membership continues to grow for companies like Facebook, 2012 hasn’t been kind to the social giants when it comes to what they’re doing with all of our personal data and facts about ID theft online. Instagram is a recent target with changes to its terms of service, essentially allowing the company to sell its users pictures to third party vendors without any permission whatsoever. After an intense user backlash and a decline in numbers, Instagram pledged to readjust its terms to tighten up privacy.
As Ryan Block notes with The New York Times, the real slap in the face to those who use these services isn’t that their data is being sold off, but that it’s being done without a lick of permission.
“In my search for technology products and services that somehow enrich or add value to my life, Facebook and Instagram have been a net negative not only in their usefulness, but also in other, subtle ways most people don’t often consider,” said Block in the Times op-ed post.
Since the backlash with Instagram, other social networks have been tip-toeing in their approach to changes in terms of service. Foursquare, a social network that lets you “check in” online to places you go, is adjusting its service so that every user’s full name appears on their check-ins, as opposed to a first name and initial (such as John D).
The lesson learned, however, is that Foursquare is giving their users advanced notice of the changes, and spelling out in plain English what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. In a sub-page Foursquare calls “Privacy 101,” the plan and purpose of users’ privacy is laid out simply.
This is where social networking is going in 2013. Your data is still being shared to third parties, but the companies responsible are keeping you more well-informed about it. The saying goes: “The cover-up is always worse than the crime.”
Even when trying to do the right thing, some social networks just can’t cut a break. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s sister, Randi Zuckerberg, recently had an internet meltdown in glorious fashion, because a picture she shared on Facebook, which she thought was private, ended up getting reposted on Twitter. The snafu was something that could happen to any of us, but it was also a reminder that social networking privacy is so complicated that not even the boss’s sister understands it.
Randi later admitted that she (and everyone else) should only post something online they wouldn’t mind seeing on the cover of The New York Times, which is something we should all live up to. As social networks become more popular, there’s money to be made. In this case, it’s in the form of selling your data and even pictures to advertisers. And as time goes on, it will likely become harder to opt out of this in the future. So, take Randi Zuckerberg’s advice, and simply be mindful of what you post online.
About Athena Newton: a recent MFA graduate, Athena writes about fashion and celebrity trends in the U.S. and Europe. She loves following trends and seeing how history repeats and reinterprets itself through fashion.
January is a great time to take a step back from day-to-day tactics and ask the Big Questions; or in cliché form, to look at the forest rather than the trees.
Who are (really) your best customers? Why do they (really) buy from you? How has the way buyers in your market make procurement decisions changed? How can your organization utilize social networking principals and tools to improve operations across departments? What is the secret to success (really!)?
Find the answers to those Big Questions and more here in nine expert marketing strategy guides from the past year.
Why Social Is So Disruptive to Traditional Marketing by Social Media Today
In the spring of 2009, the notion that digital would account for the majority of marketing budgets within just a few years seemed like a laughable proposition. Traditional media still accounted for more than 90% of spending at that point. Yet just 30 months later, IDG reported that the shift was official, and digital would account for more than 50% of marketing spending in 2012.
Judy Shapiro points out this rapid shift and explains what fundamental changes in marketing practices she believes are required for success in this new realm, writing that “It’s clear we can’t simply apply new social technology to the old marketing mix and expect it to work anymore than we can apply wings to a car and expect it to fly.”
Brad Smith contends that marketers should ignore best practices, competitors, popular platforms and the like, and instead find and capitalize on untapped and underutilized tactics and opportunities. He then lays out a 5-step formula for “arbitrage marketing” to help identify and implement such tactics.
7 Burning Questions for B2B Marketers in 2012 by iMediaConnection
Writing that “good questions help you to focus and to get to the heart of what matters most,” Tony Zambito presents seven key questions marketers need to ask in order to hold onto and attract new customers, among them “How Do We Create A Better Buying Experience? With distinctive differences between products and services narrowing substantially, experience-centered marketing and relationships will be the coveted playing field to win on. When was the last time your organization reviewed processes, systems, departments, and the likes to determine whether they added value to the buying experience?”
Stop Talking About Social and Do It by Nilofer Merchant
Nilofer Merchant explains how social media has affected all areas of the enterprise, not only marketing and PR but also product development, supply chain management, finance, sales, service, and HR (“‘Human Resources’ have changed when most of the people who create value for your organization are neither hired nor paid by you”). She presents a quick visual model of social business along with three three thought-provoking exercises to help corporate leaders think strategically about this transition.
5 Ways New Buyer Behaviors Are Impacting B2B Sales by iMedia Connection
Tony Zambito (again) argues that, contrary to the “buyers are in control and don’t need sales” mantra, b2b sales professionals are still quite essential. However, buyers’ expectations are changing and therefore the way sales people do their jobs needs to change as well, for example: “Buyers already know about your ready-made solutions found in their researching. What they seek is skills and knowledge in advising them on how solutions—modified, customized, and most definitely altered—will help them to achieve the specific goals and outcomes they seek.”
Shawn Achor demonstrates how happiness not only correlates with positive life and business outcomes (which one might expect), but can actually produce such outcomes. Writing that “A decade of research in the business world proves that happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%,” he also provides a practical series of steps anyone can use to retrain their brain to be happier–and quite possibly more successful as well.
Who is Your Ideal Client? Do you know? by Bourn Creative
Any effective marketing message or content development program starts with the target audience in mind. A common exercise is creating personas, or conceptual representations of an ideal sales prospect, reader, subscriber, repeat customer, etc. But such personas often aren’t created effectively or completely; Jennifer Bourn here explains how to do it right, and how doing it right leads to higher growth, easier sales cycles, and higher profitability.
Why Media Buyers Are Switching to a Smarter Planning Framework by iMedia Connection
Contending that “P.O.E.M., or Paid (vs) Owned (vs) Earned Media, is a strategy framework that buyers and planners use to segment campaigns and channels…but (today), thinking in terms of Paid / Owned / Earned will break the back of your media team and send money leaking out of your strategy,” John Manoogian presents an alternative model he calls “M.A.S.S.” media, for channels that are Measurable, Authentic, Scalable and Social.
6 Steps to Inbound Marketing Success [Infographic] by B2B Marketing Insider
Michael Brenner presents a six-step guide for inbound marketing, starting with strategy creation and the recognition that content marketing is an investment, not an expense and progressing through generating “more (website) traffic through effective blogging, social media, SEO and paid search, effectively converting that traffic into leads, and perhaps most important, measuring everything to support continuous improvement.