A nice, neat visualization of ways to market your website. In my experience, SEO and blogging are best for driving traffic, while e-mail marketing kicks @$$ at generating leads. I enjoy social media and have definitely benefited from it, but if I had to pick three out of the four things to do, I’d drop the social media. Fortunately, I’m not in that position and can do all of the above!
As a writer, I’m really happy to see these changes in SEO. I’d much rather focus on strong writing and intriguing content than trying to jam key words that don’t fit into a blog. And I am thrilled that search engines are no longer using blog comment links to build rankings – hopefully the spammers will get word of this soon and leave my blogs alone!
So how are you changing your SEO strategy, if at all? What works for you? What doesn’t?
Recently, my modest little blog has been hit by a wave of spammers leaving bogus comments. They do this in an attempt to build links back to their clients’ websites, “improving” the website’s SEO.
I know the game.
And the only joy I get out of it is the knowledge it doesn’t work. Thanks to Google’s new algorithms, that sort of dishonest link building doesn’t have much impact on SEO anymore. It just wastes my time.
So to all those businesses that are paying people to sneak links onto other people’s blogs, you’re wasting your money. And pissing me off. Which strikes me as a sort of lose-lose proposition. Not that my being annoyed is going to affect a spammer’s life in any way, but why annoy people you don’t even know? It’s just bad karma.
So where is SEO going? For 2013, it looks like content is king and social networking is rising in importance.
The statistics have spoken. Doing just one thing well isn’t enough, at least when it comes to getting your marketing message out to the consumer.
This infographic makes sense to me. You’ve probably heard the old saw that some people learn by hearing and some by reading and some by watching, but put all those elements together and you can increase the speed and effectiveness of a lesson. Why wouldn’t the same be true with marketing messages?
I’ve been playing with the free version of Pitch Engine, a platform for creating and distributing press releases. Writing about the free version feels a bit unfair, because the paid version is clearly superior to the unpaid version. Still, I’m all for back links to my website and ANY way I can get the word out about my new book, so…
Pros for the free version:
- It enables you to create a press release with multimedia embedded.
- Gives you backlinks to your website.
- Enables you to promote to existing customer lists and social media accounts.
- I really like the “quick facts” feature, where you create Twitter-length facts that people can easily retweet.
- It takes advantage of the web. Now you don’t have to put all your info on one page. You can have links to contact information, etc.
Cons for the free version:
- The text for my press release didn’t show up on the release. When I asked a service rep about it, she told me Pitch Engine worked best in Google Chrome. I dutifully downloaded Google Chrome and it worked. But who wants to download a special browser just to use a website? Does Google have an ownership stake in this company?
- You get one layout. That’s it. It’s not a bad layout, but… Oh, heck. It’s a bad layout. I get that they need to include ads to make money, but blech! I feel churlish complaining since it is free. And the paid versions look awesome. With the free layout, you really need a landscape style photo – with portrait you’re left with two much white space. The press release I posted on my own WordPress site outshines it in terms of aesthetics. On the other hand, my WordPress site doesn’t have all those cool “quick facts” features and isn’t distributed to search engines automatically.
The screenshots are too big to include in this post, so here’s a quick comparison:
My cousin works in the design department at the Atlanta Zoo. Last March, she started up and now manages the zoo’s Google+ page. The page now has over 180,000 followers. Yes, in eight months, the Atlanta Zoo got over 180,000 followers on their Google+ page. Granted, they have cute pictures of animals to post. But animal photos alone do not explain this success.
So I asked her how she did it and she gave me some rocking tips, which I’ll share in a moment.
But first, a caveat: I’ve been slow to come around to Google+. There are only so many social networks my brain can take, and Google+ came late to the party. So I figured Google+ had better be pretty damn awesome to drag my time away from other social networks. It is. And linked to the Google search engine, you can bet being on Google+ creates some serious SEO advantages.
Here are the quick takeaways:
- Hangouts: This is possibly one of the coolest features of Google+. Hangouts are video conference calls, much like Skype. But unlike Skype, at the end of the Hangout, Google uploads the video to YouTube and produces a video that you can then repost, reuse, recycle. Check it out:
- If content is king, social is queen: Like any other social media, success comes from both talking to people and listening to them. It also means being out and about online. For example, the zoo has been following Steven Colbert’s Google+ page and making bear jokes. Their dream is to get some sort of cross promotion going with him. But in the meantime, people see the jokes, and go to check out the zoo’s page.
- You can get your message across: Google+ gives you more space to write because posts can be expanded if you need to explain more.
- Have a strategy: The zoo’s Google+ page is oriented toward education about their conservation and research work, and its followers are global. By contrast, the zoo’s Facebook page focuses more on local mom’s, promoting zoo events.
And now for a few technical tips:
- Photos shine on Google+, but landscape format works best.
- Use hashtags to promote your own topics and to find people who might be interested in those topics.
- The zoo has gotten a strong response from the Google+ album feature. Then again, they’ve got awesome photos to promote.
- Hangouts: Check the hangout rules, test your audio, and do utilize the Google+ events feature to promote it. Yes, you can create a special page just for your hangout!
- Check out the ripples feature, which enables you to see where your influences are.
The secret sauce:
One thing my cousin didn’t mention (likely because she didn’t realize it) was that her posts are funny and authentic. We talk about authenticity a lot in social media, but it’s a nebulous concept. The best I can do is give an example.
While she was showing me the page, a post with a photo came to her that she needed to repost. Her reaction when she opened it up was to laugh and declare, “That’s one big baby tapir!” And the title of the post she came up with: One Big Baby Tapir.
Okay, maybe that’s still nebulous. Just be yourself!