23 Outstanding Social Media Marketing Guides

Though the use of social media and social networks for marketing is now nearly ubiquitous, and 78% of companies have dedicated social media teams, many marketers sill struggle with certain aspects of social marketing, such as formalizing strategies and measuring results.

The Social Conversation Prism from Brian Solis and JESS3Yet as buyers make increasing use of social media to evaluate the offerings of and engage with vendors,  expectations will inevitably increase. Basic presence and listening tactics will no longer suffice,  and certainly  won’t differentiate brands.

What trends and changes in social media do marketers need to stay on top of? How are social media marketing best practices evolving? How can marketers make the best use  of visual content? Which metrics are most valuable in evaluating tactical success?

Find the answers to these questions and more here in some of the best guides to social media marketing and measurement of the past year.

Social Media Marketing Guides

5 Social Media Trends for 2014: New Research by Social Media Examiner

Patricia RedsickerThough published last February, this post from Patricia Redsicker remains timely. Key trends she identifies for 2014 (which will remain important in 2015) include the importance of social listening (though “only 31% of marketers think their social listening is fully effective”) and increasing use of social advertising (57% of marketers used social ads in 2013 and another 23% are [were] expected to start using ads in 2014″).

6 social media network updates that you missed by iMedia Connection

Trevor La Torre-CouchHopefully you’ve caught up to these by now, but just in case, this post from Trevor LaTorre-Couch details (fairly) recent design and functionality changes from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and explaining for each change the benefit(s) of each change for marketers.

10 Steps Using Social Media For Business Development by Soulati-TUDE

Jayme SoulatiJayme Soulati walks readers through 10 steps for “good old-fashioned networking” on social media to fuel business development, starting with setting goals (e.g., elevating your personal brand or asking for a meeting) and proceeding through characterizing your buyers, social sharing, engaging, and showing personality.

Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism Catalogs The Best Social Platforms by Search Engine Journal
***** 5 STARS

Kelsey JonesKelsey Jones shares a fantastic “a visual map of the social media landscape” created by Brian Solis and JESS3 (see image at top of this post). The image calls out many of the top tools and platforms across the realms of social listening, learning, and adapting, further broken out into more specific groupings like video, social curation, and service networking.

10 Reasons Why Small Business Can’t Ignore Social Media by Marketing Technology Blog

Jason SquiresThe benefits of social media marketing are no longer questioned much, but for those still dealing with skeptics and doubters, Jason Squires has put together this excellent infographic showcasing its utility, supported with statistics, facts, and mini case studies.

52 Unique Ways to Create Social Media Magic by Rebekah Radice

Rebekah RadiceFrequent best-of honorees Rebekah Radice and Peg Fitzpatrick team up to offer more than four dozen tips to optimize business results from social media, from joining Google+ communities and using a social media management tool to telling “your brand story with Pinterest boards” and using third-party apps to grow your Twitter following.

12 Most Cool Social Media Practices to Avoid Looking Like a Jerk by 12 Most

Jake ParentJake Parent shares a dozen useful tips for being more engaging (and not a jerk) on social media, among them asking questions, complimenting people, and always giving more than you take: “always offer more value to people than you ask of them. In other words (be) on the lookout for problems to solve for people.”

24 Social Media Tips For The DIY Social Media Marketer In 2014 by Idea Girl Marketing

Keri JaehnigKeri Jaehnig details two dozen tips and tools for planning, productivity, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, image editing (e.g., PicMonkey – an “easy online image editing tool”) and more. The self-promotion is a tad thick in spots but the tips and links are helpful.

A Scientific Guide to Posting Tweets, Facebook Posts, Emails, and Blog Posts at the Best Time by Buffer Social

Belle Beth CooperFrequest best-of honoree Belle Beth Cooper reports on research showing the best times of the day and week to post updates on Facebook and Twitter; to send marketing emails; and to publish blog posts. She notes however that results vary between men and women, B2C vs. B2B audiences, and sometimes even significantly between different studies.

12 Ways Social Media Could Leave You Needing A Lawyer by Louder Online

Aaron AgiusAaron Agius details a dozen social blunders to avoid, at risks ranging from embarrassment to winding up in court, such as using vulgar language, getting political, using auto-responses, or “insensitivity to personal struggles” (a particularly relevant but wince-inducing example).

10 things you should never say to a social media manager by PR Daily

Carrie KeenanCarrie Keenan has brilliantly compiled 10 of the dumbest (but sadly, far from most uncommon) questions asked of social media managers, among them “Hey, I use Facebook. I would be so good at your job!,” “What do you do all day?,” and the gawdawful “Can’t I have an intern/my son/my granddaughter, etc. do that for me?”

B2B Social Media Marketing Guides

A Key Secret to Jazzing UpYour B2B Content’s Visual Appeal by B2B PR Sense Blog

Jonathan PavoniWriting that “Today B2B marketing departments are developing more visual content such as images, web video, infographics and Slideshare presentations,” Jonathan Pavoni demonstrates how to use Slideshare to “repurpose content, capture prospects’ attention, and drive additional leads into the sales funnel.”

Frameworks for smart content marketing programs by i-SCOOP
***** 5 STARS

J-P De ClerckWhile more than 90% of companies have adopted content marketing practices, many still struggle with effectiveness. To help, J-P De Clerck looks at several strategic content marketing frameworks, including the seven “building blocks” framework from Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose and the 4-step content marketing framework for startups from Lee Odden.

11 secrets of good B2B social media by Potion

Though primarily aimed at beginners / entry level social media marketers, this post is worth at least a quick scan by more experienced social pros as well. It helpfully lays out the key components of the social marketing process, from developing and sharing content through tagging, measuring, and showing personality: “people like interacting with people. What’s your brand personality going to be?”

Five Fantastic Examples of B2B Social Media Marketing by j+ Media Solutions

Jennifer G. HanfordWhile B2B marketers often focus on being professional in communications and not overly personal, this post from Jennifer G. Hanford reminds readers that whether B2B or B2C, all marketing is ultimately P2P (person to person). It presents snapshots of a handful of successful B2B social media efforts, including use of YouTube, Facebook, and even Pinterest (who knew Constant Contact maintains 100+ Pinterest boards?).

Guides to Social Media Metrics and Measures

Metrics to Measure YouTube Marketing by distilled

Phil NottinghamPhil Nottingham contends that most marketers don’t understand how to quantify social media marketing success on YouTube, and aims to fix that with this post. “‘Going viral’ isn’t a business goal, neither is having a million video views…With YouTube, your goal should always be some form of increased brand awareness.”

What to measure: ROI or KPIs? by iMedia Connection

Rebecca LiebThe brilliant Rebecca Lieb makes the case for defining and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) for social media marketing efforts rather than trying to force measures of return on investment (ROI), noting that “Measuring message amplification (or brand metrics such as purchase intent, favorability, or consideration) isn’t unrelated to ROI. All are steps along the journey — critical steps.”

what’s the right metric? by bowden2bowden blog

Randy BowdenRandy Bowden shares his thoughts on the ROI-vs-KPIs debate introduced above. He explains how each metric works and suggests that both are important, though conceding that “you can’t measure your ROI with social media totally…(and, ultimately) ROI is not black and white.”

7 Multi-Platform Social Media Analytics Tools by RazorSocial
***** 5 STARS

Ian ClearyIan Cleary reviews seven “very useful social media analytics tools.” He provides a brief description of each tool as well as explaining how much it costs, the main features, how it works, and an “overll opinion” of the tool’s strengths, limitations, and ideal application.

Guides to Marketing with Tumblr and Triberr

Is Tumblr Right for My Business? by QuickBooks

Brenda Stokes BarronWhile noting that not every business can make use of Tumblr, Brenda Barron outlines three questions for marketers to ask to determine if the platform may be helpful to their brand, starting with how visual your business is: “Tumblr is intrinsically image-based, much like Pinterest. This makes it the perfect avenue for…businesses in industries with a visual focus.”

How to Use Tumblr for SEO and Social Media Marketing by Moz

Takeshi YoungWriting that “Tumblr is one of those social networks which is often overlooked, but which has tremendous potential for SEO and social media marketing,” Takeshi Young explains how Tumblr works, its benefits compared to other social networks, and how to use Tumblr for online marketing (including four types of content that “perform extremely well” there).

Tumblr Tips To Help Grow Your Blog and Social Mentions by Inspire To Thrive

Lisa BubenLisa Buben offers more tips for content distribution success on Tumblr, such as loving content (“The little heart ? can go a long way on Tumblr. Spread the love around”), reblogging, commenting, using hashtags (yes, “Hashtags are big on Tumblr!”), and how to gain followers.

This Triberr strategy can increase your distribution now by leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal

Jim DoughertyFor those unfamiliar with Triberr, Jim Dougherty explains its a platform that “allows bloggers to increase their distribution by creating tribes that can (potentially) pool their collective social audiences.” For those interesting in trying it out–or already using it but perhaps not getting the results hoped for–he prescribes a three-strep strategy for increasing the reach of your blog content.

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Most Engaging Twitterers in Minnesota

One of the greatest attributes of social media is its ability to connect people with similar interests across the globe. We’ve connected with Twitterers interested in b2b marketing, PR,  web presence optimization and digital marketing topics everywhere from the U.K., South Africa, Israel, and Australia, to Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Chile, Canada and New Zealand.

It’s also valuable however for making new connections in your own backyard. “Tweetups” and other networking events are excellent places to meet new social media connections and to meet existing connections in real life, extending the relationship beyond the web.

Here are a couple of dozen of the most engaging Minnesotans we’ve met on, through, or because of Twitter over the past five years. Got any additions to the list? Recommendations are welcome!

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30 Awesome Blogging Guides, Tips and Resources

Despite the occasional “death of blogging” pronouncements (often made, ironically, in blog posts), blogs remain the core of a robust social media strategy. The proliferation of themes, tools and plugins have transformed blogs from mere online text collections to powerful interactive, rich-media sites that can attract, engage and educate your potential buyers.

Particularly with Google’s emphasis in its recent Panda and Penguin algorithm updates on content that is fresh, compelling, unique, social, and naturally linked to, blogs have become even more essential to SEO strategies.

For those who still aren’t convinced of the value of business blogging (as well as those who need to convince others), the “why blog” posts below provide compelling evidence. Those getting started or already active in blogging will discover how to:

  • • grow blog traffic,
  • • make content more valuable to readers,
  • • increase blogging productivity,
  • • generate more comments and social shares,
  • • find royalty-free images,
  • • promote your blog, and

more here in 30 of the best business blogging guides and resources of the past year.

Why Blog

Why You Want To Be the Last Blog Standing by Outspoken Media

Lisa BaroneReporting that “the number of Inc. 500 companies maintaining corporate blogs has dropped for the first time since 2007. Did you hear that? IT DROPPED! According to Dartmouth’s research, just 37 percent of companies interviewed said they had a corporate blog, down from 50 percent in 2010,” frequent best-of honoree Lisa Barone advises readers to “let your blog be the last blog standing because while sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may be effective and sexy all in their own right, they don’t hold a candle to the sexiness and superpowers possessed by your blog,” and backs it up with 10 reasons and tactics to beat your competition through blogging.

Yes, Your Company Needs a Blog – 13 Reasons Why by AboutUs

Kristina WeisKristina Weis provides a baker’s dozen reasons for creating a corporate blog, from demonstrating your expertise (“If [prospective customers] can easily find some articles written by you and/or your staff that show your company’s expertise, they’re going to feel a lot more confident about spending their time or money [or both] with you”) and increasing website traffic to helping with customer support and generating new product ideas.

Past, Present and Future of Blogging: 3 Infographics by jeffbullas.com

Jeff BullasJeff Bullas shares a wealth of fascinating blogging facts and stats here, such as that 27 of the top 100 blogs are built on WordPress, with 16 on TypePad. 43% of U.S. companies now maintain blogs. And more than half of all social media-driven blog traffic comes from Facebook (28%) and Twitter (26%) combined.

7 Tips for Blogging – Maybe Your Most Important Social Media Activity for Business by SocialSteve’s Blog

Steve GoldnerContending that “Everyone always jumps onto Facebook and Twitter as one of their first social media activities. I recommend you think about blogging first. No other endeavor can be better to promote you or your brand as a subject matter expert,” Steve Goldner offers seven tips for blogging success,  such as utilizing your passion, speaking (writing) naturally, and posting on a consistent basis.

Dozens of reasons why corporate blogs still matter in B2B marketing by Content Marketing Experience

J-P DeClerckJ-P De Clerck makes a comprehensive case for corporate blogging—as long as it isn’t done the “wrong” way: “It’s traditional PR in a new package: corporate blogs as a way to shout how great they are.” Done right, blogs serve as the hub of a company’s social media strategy, a magnet for search traffic, and an opportunity to speak to prospective customers on a more informal, human level. He points out that 57% of companies with blogs have acquired at least one customer through blogging; that blogs make it easy to share multiple types of information; and that they make it easy (and even inviting) for customers and prospects to provide feedback.

Blogging Tips and Guides

33 Ways to Get Help For Your Blog (Without Breaking the Bank) by Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenFrequent best-of author Heidi Cohen offers nearly three dozen ideas “to help you efficiently leverage resources in seven of the areas where many bloggers typically need support,” such as content block (one idea: “Answer customer questions…Collect the questions prospects and customers ask from sales and customer service; then answer them”), lack of creative resources, and disappointing blog traffic.

20 Ways to Improve Your Blog by TribalCafe

Gary FoxReporting that “28% of brands that (didn’t previously) publish a blog (planned) to do so in 2012—bringing the percentage of brands that publish a blog to 85%,” Gary Fox lists 20 ways to attract more readers and generate better business results from blogging, among them using strong visuals, varying blog topics, and making your content SEO-friendly (“focus on a keyword [phrase] for each blog post and try to not venture too far” from it).

5 Tips to Becoming a Top Blog in Your Industry by Social Media Examiner

Michael StelznerMichael Stelzner shares a handful of techniques he used to make Social Media Examiner a big success, such as surveying the interests of your audience (“When you know precisely what content your readers crave, it’s much easier to create posts that are widely read and shared on social channels”) and spinning a single hot topic into multiple posts from different perspectives (e.g., a beginner’s guide, biggest myths or misconceptions, case studies, etc.).

Five Tips to Make Company Blogs Worth Reading by Marketing Profs

Muhammad YasinMuhammad Yasin offers a handful of helpful recommendations for making your company blog a success, including focusing on expert tips: “If you are not an expert yourself in a particular field, find experts and learn from them. See what they are writing about, absorb their knowledge, and share their tips. Better yet, invite those experts to share their knowledge on your blog as guest bloggers. Allowing independent experts to write for your blog can provide a much needed fresh perspective and may result in their recommending your products or services.”

Fixing The Social Media Plateau by Soulati Media

Jayme SoulatiThe delightful Jayme Soulati identifies 10 signs that “may be an indication it’s time to step up your game, take it to the next level, and grow or remain complacent” in terms of your social media practices, such as “Learning new things becomes more rare; another 20 ways to use Pinterest blog post isn’t providing new insight over what you know now,” and tips to get un-stuck (e.g., “Reduce the time spent on the channels that don’t return much to you. That way, you’re not spread as thin”).

10 Valuable Ideas to Help You Find Time to Blog by MyBeak Social Media

Laura-Lee WalkerWriting that “Creating content and finding the time to do it are the biggest obstacles entrepreneurs and small business owners face when marketing their business,” Laura-Lee Walker presents helpful ideas for generating more content in less time, among them inviting guest bloggers, repurposing existing material,  and using mobile phone apps like Dragon Dictator: “You don’t have time to write down all your ideas or blog posts…simply use an application…that will translate your voice to text. (They are) not perfect but will give you a head start and reduce the time you spend on typing your blog articles.”

21 Business Blogging Tips From the Pros by Social Media Examiner

Cindy KingThe impeccably discerning Cindy King curates an outstanding collection of blogging tips from pros like Leo Widrich (“A product is only useful if you know others want it. Validate an idea for a blog post in the same way”), Heidi Cohen (“Understand prospects, customers and the public are on your blog to get answers to their questions and accomplish their goals, not yours”), and Stephanie Sammons (“Work to develop a blogging style that is unique to you. What’s your angle? What’s your view? How can you differentiate yourself from others who are blogging in your niche?”).

Guest Blogging: Seven Tips for Success by Spin Sucks

Gini DietrichPR expert and author Gini Dietrich offers several excellent tips for expanding your reach by publishing guest posts on other influential blogs. My favorite tip is her first, on how to gauge authority (and corresponding effort) of a blog: “Go to Open Site Explorer and type in the URL for the blog for which you’d like to submit content. I’ll do it for Wood Street…You’ll see the site authority is 48/100. If the authority is 40-70, it’s worth pursuing. If it’s higher than 70, you’ll have a tougher time getting your content on the site, so you’ll need to be extremely patient, but persistent. If it’s between 90 and 100, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get something placed there without the help of a communications professional.”

Starting a Blog in 2013? 16 Ideas to Avoid Complete & Utter Failure (Infographic) by Pinterest

Wendy MarxNoting that “the majority of blogs starting every year end up failing,” Wendy Marx offers 16 tips in this infographic to beating the odds, such as “Be consistent: Whether you keep an editorial calendar or not, it’s important to continue to publish content on your blog because that consistency brings in more traffic” (amen!) and (perhaps most importantly), “Have fun with it: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun with the process and enjoy every minute as your grow your audience and build your business.”

Guest post: 7 powerful headline techniques to skyrocket your blog traffic by Creative Ramblings

Lillian LeonReminding us all that “in the online world, your headline is the single most important part of your content…instead of reading every blog post, people scan for information. They look for headlines that capture their interest, and only click on the ones they feel are worthy of their time,” Lillian Leon details seven techniques for crafting headlines that grab attention, including “Fear: Identify the one thing your readers fear the most, and you’ll have yourself a headline that’s pretty much impossible to ignore.”

10 Additional Ideas to Generate Comments and Shares by Spin Sucks

Following up on an earlier post on the same topic, Gini Dietrich (again) offers 10 more ideas to increase engagement on your blog, from writing book reviews and rants to covering the latest trends and answering questions commonly heard by your sales force or customer service reps.

Content Development and Writing Tips

26 Tips for Writing Great Blog Posts by Social Media Examiner

Debbie HemleyIn her own unique and highly creative style, Debbie Hemley presents “26 tips, from A-Z, to help you create optimal blog posts every time you sit down to write,” beginning with A for Anatomically Correct: every blog post should contain the “six parts of the anatomy of a lead-generating blog post” such as an eye-catching title, calls to action, and social sharing buttons.

12 Most Useful Sources for Good Stuff to Post by 12 Most

Peg FitzpatrickPeg Fitzpatrick passes along content curation tips from Guy Kawasaki in this post showcasing the top dozen places to find shareworthy content, starting with your own network and including both popular sharing sites (like StumbleUpon and AllTop) and less obvious choices (e.g., Futurity, TED and NPR).

How to find photos you can legally use anywhere by CBS MoneyWatch

Dave JohnsonObserving that “No matter what you publish — a blog, updates to the company website, project reports, or even the venerable tri-fold — you no doubt need artwork to complement it,” but just haphazardly reusing artwork found online can lead to legal troubles, Dave Johnson recommends two easy methods for finding photos that are usable under the Creative Commons license.

29 Free Blog Images Sources: Where to Get Royalty Free Photos by Directory Journal
***** 5 STARS

Gail GardnerIn case Dave’s recommendations above don’t quite meet your needs, Gail Gardner provides a massive list of sites where you can find free or reasonably priced images, as well as resources for comparing prices across different image sites, selling your photos, identifying trademarked images, adding images to blog posts, and more.

5 of the Most Important Content & Social Media Tips For A Successful Business Blog by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

Lee OddenLee Odden writes that “If I were only to give 5 content marketing tips to a company that wanted to get the most for and from its customers through blogging, here are the tips I’d give.” Among his top five tips? Focus on the problems your audience faces—but don’t forget to tell them how you can solve those problems. Create an editorial plan. And measure results to support continual improvement.

How to Differentiate Your Content by Geoff Livingston’s Blog

Geoff LivingstonGeoff Livingston lays out four steps to becoming an “A-list” blogger in your niche subject area. Given Geoff’s success, I won’t argue with his methodology—though it’s not for everyone. But if you’ve got the time, intestinal fortitude and financial backing or wherewithal to pursue his program, go for it.

The Nine Ingredients That Make Great Content by KISSmetrics

Zach BulygoContending that “In order to boost SEO rankings, gain traffic and/or leads, you need to have great content on your blog or website,” Zach Bulygo shares nine tips for producing stand-out content (such as making your content actionable: “The best content gives the user a sense of how to apply the information…Many times, just writing well about a topic will spark some ideas for readers,”) then follows up with half a dozen examples of sites that consistently provide remarkable content.

Blog Promotion Tips and Tactics

6 Tips For Building a High Quality Blog Following by Fearless Competitor

Shane SnowShane Snow channels Jeff Ogden and Brian Clark in this post, providing “six tips to attracting readers who stick around longer than the click of a StumbleUpon button,” such as speaking to a specific audience, guest blogging and publishing guest bloggers, and encouraging loyalty through consistency: “taking an editorial stand for what you believe in, rather than watering things down to avoid offending anyone. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to try to be controversial. In this day and age, simply taking a position and standing behind it will bring people who agree, and people who don’t.”

Want Your Blog Noticed? (Hint: It’s Not Just Content!) by Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen (again) supplies 23 tips for growing awareness of your blog, such as integrating your blog’s brand into related content and activities (“As a media entity, your blog deserves its own brand. If it’s a corporate brand, it should be adapted for the blog”), referencing and linking to sources, and guest blogging.

Want to Increase Blog Traffic? Some Fab Tips for Success by Positively Peggy

The ebullient Peg Fitzpatrick (again) serves up five tips for growing blog traffic, such as sharing your content at optimal times: “Buffer App helps you not only share at the optimal times based on your followers being online but also evenly distributes your amazing content throughout the day so you don’t annoy your followers with a huge spurt of brilliance and then lose them with silence later.”

How Bloggers Can Grow Each Others Readership by The @Steveology Blog

Steve FarnsworthSteve Farnsworth recommends Triberr as a tool for increasing the reach of your blog posts, and explains in detail how Triberr works and how to get the most out of it (e.g., by starting your own tribe, joining other tribes, and “dating around”). While the tool is a great concept and has potential, its ongoing technical issues are frustrating.

How to Effectively Promote Your Blog Posts by MyBeak Social Media
***** 5 STARS

Beyond the big social networks and Triberr, Laura-Lee Walker (again) presents an infographic illustrating 30 ways to promote your blog content using social media, social bookmarking sites (does anyone still use Digg?), your contacts, other blogs, and 10 top syndication sites.

5 ways to promote your blog by commenting on others by Creative Ramblings

Cendrine MarrouatCendrine Marrouat explains why commenting on blogs is beneficial (chief among the rewards: “You get to connect and build relationships with other bloggers”) and how to do it well (e.g., add value to the conversation, share relevant links, and comment regularly on the same blogs).

30 Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts by Listly
***** 5 STARS

Ted RubinTed Rubin shares a bookmark-worthy list of tactics for sharing and promoting blog posts, including Facebook (“Add it on your personal & business pages, groups and through ads”), Pinterest (“Create a board specifically for all your blog posts and pin each post to it”) and through AllTop.com (“syndicates content in every category, from autos and food to business and sports”).

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Book Review: Optimize

The old days when SEO meant writing key-stuffed copy and then begging for or buying as many links as possible, from any willing website, are long gone. That’s clearly good for searchers, as search engine results have become more relevant and useful. But it’s also good for marketers, as it forces a focus on understanding buyers and providing them with value rather than manipulative gaming of search algorithms.

Optimize by Lee OddenIn Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing, Lee Odden provides the definitive guide to SEO and its extension into social and content marketing for the new, more sophisticated world of search and web presence optimization.

Divided into three sections—Planning (tactics, audience research,  content), Implementation (persona development, keyword research, content optimization, measurement) and Scale—the book provides a comprehensive roadmap for using integrated digital marketing tactics to drive business results.

Among the specific pieces of wisdom Lee shares in the book are:

  • • Search is a moving target. “Search results have evolved from 10 blue links to situationally dependent mixed-media results that vary according to your geographic location, web history, social influence and social ratings…at any given time, there are from 50 to 200 different versions of Google’s core algorithm in the wild,  so the notion of optimizing for a consistently predictable direct cause and effect is long gone.”
  • • You need to know where you are before you can know where you’re going. “Audits are a key part of search engine optimization, allowing marketers to access the current state of the website in ways that identify any conflicts or inefficiencies for search engines.” Audits also help establish baselines—the starting points from which progress can be measured.
  • • Five different types of SEO audits are vital for establishing baselines: keyword research, content audit (“a website must be the best resource for a topic, and content optimization takes inventory of all content and digital assets that could be a potential entry point vis search and recommends SEO copywriting tactics to showcase those pages as most relevant”), technical SEO audit (making sure the site is easy for search engines to crawl), link footprint and social SEO audit.
  • • PR is now a vital component of SEO. “The public relations function within a company often produces nearly as much content as marketing in the form of a corporate newsroom with media coverage, press releases, images, video, case studies, white papers, and other resources…Each of those assets is an opportunity for journalists to discover the brand story through search engines or social referrals…Companies that optimize and socialize their press releases give new life and extended reach to their news by making it easy for bloggers and end consumers to find and share press release content.”
  • • Content isn’t just the job of marketing and PR. It’s also crucial to optimize content produced by customer service (FAQ’s, common how-to guides), HR, and subject matter experts in field consulting, engineering and sales for search. Marketing may have to scrub and polish some of this content for public consumption, but it’s vital to tap expertise across the organization.
  • • Your online competitors aren’t always your real-life competitors. “In the search and social media marketing world, the competition isn’t always who you think. Companies need to understand that online competition isn’t just made up of companies competing for market share in the business world, but also information and content published from a variety of sources that compete for search engine and social media users’ attention.” It’s not unusual for university websites, government agency sites, and reference sites like Wikipedia to “compete” with a company in search.
  • • Monitor search results to spot new opportunities. “A trending story may cause news or blog results to appear high on the page, which might prompt you to comment on a high-ranking story or reach out to a journalist or blogger to offer your point of view…When you notice that the search engine tends to favor certain media, such as video, for one of your target keyword phrases, it may prompt you to focus on video content and optimization for a particular target keyword phrase.”
  • • It’s vital for a business to “be seen” in different places. “48% of consumers are led to make a purchase through a combination of search and social media influences.”
  • • Search visibility isn’t important only for prospective customers. “95% of journalists use search engines…89% of journalists use blogs and 65% use social networks for story research.”
  • • Develop content for your prospects, not for search engines. “Write down some of the high-level characteristics of your best customers. What motivates them? What do they care about?” I would add “what keeps them awake at night?” and “what will compel them to take action” to this list. The answers to those questions will be crucial in developing your content strategy.
  • • Make fact-based, data-driven decisions. “Keyword research tools are designed to override the false assumptions often provided by the two most flawed tools that you can access—your gut and your brain.” It isn’t that you aren’t smart, but rather the words used inside of your company and those that your prospective customers use to describe the same product or service are often very different.
  • • Think about blog post topics from a variety of angles to keep it interesting. “Typical categories for an editorial calendar can include breaking headlines, industry news, ongoing series, feature stories, in-depth product or service reports,  polls, special promotions, events, tips, lists…the important thing is to be relevant: to your customers, your brand, and to search engines and social communities.”
  • You don’t have to do it all yourself; content curation is as important as creation. “Pure creation is demanding. Pure automation doesn’t engage. Curating content can provide the best of both.”

And there’s much more, including several useful lists such as analytics tools, “20 different content types” and “sources of news to curate.”

Even in books I really find valuable, I usually find at least a few points of contention, or things the author just plain got wrong. But even though I wore out a red pen highlighting passages in this book, I didn’t find a single point where I think Lee missed the mark.

The only thing I would add is an over-arching framework to fit all of this into. “SEO, social media and content marketing” is descriptive, but a mouthful. Add PR and online advertising to the mix, and it gets really awkward without that model. Optimize fundamentally provides an excellent how-to primer for utilizing the web presence optimization framework. As Lee notes:

“If a company doesn’t see the bigger-picture synergy of how to break social media, content, and SEO efforts out of departmental silos and approach Internet marketing and public relations holistically, how can they grow and remain competitive?…Integrating social media marketing and engagement with search, content marketing, email, and other types of online marketing tactics can results in substantial benefits.” But “For many companies, it can be very difficult and complex to implement a holistic content marketing and search optimization program.”

Web presence optimization strategy provides the structure for implementing such a program, and Optimize is a great place to start in learning how to do it.

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