6 Social Commerce Trends You Should Know About

It’s great to know that your own posts get found and read, and in some cases this leads to even better things, one reader telling us about an article they had written that provided even more information on the topic we had been featuring, that being ‘Social Media’s power in the Ecommerce World’.

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We checked out the article and found it very interesting, Social Media now being an area that no one can totally ignore. At the moment, Serendipity really only uses Social Media to boost the power of the links we create. BUT, that is all set to change soon as we plan to offer a level of Social Media marketing to our customers.

Anyway, read on, and if you want to see the full article on Social Media Marketing, click the link!

Just a few decades ago, advertising only showed up in a few channels, such as television, radio, and billboards. Companies who wanted to increase sales had to shell out a significant amount of cash to get their products in front of people and there was no way they could guarantee their ads would get traction.

Social media has completely revolutionized the way commerce happens. Now masses of people spend their hours on social media platforms, consuming quantity in astronomical proportions. Companies who want to drive sales have to be innovative in their social media tactics.

Every year, these tactics change as social media platforms release new options. What trends can we expect for 2017? Here are 6 you need to know about.

It’s All About Those Videos

Have you noticed that video is everywhere?

Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Periscope have all released the option of live streaming video. Additionally, all these platforms offer the ability to create video ads. Even now, YouTube now has shoppable ads before videos. It also allows companies to create simple calls to action so that viewers can purchase their products.

Expect to see more companies tapping into the power of live, shoppable video even more in 2017.

Companies like QVC and the Home Shopping Network have long demonstrated that live video can generate huge amounts of sales. Now almost anyone can create live videos in which they demonstrate and sell products.

Because these videos can be so highly targeted, they represent a massive opportunity for advertisers.
If the live video trend continues, we should expect to see almost every company selling their products live on social platforms.

Cashing In On Those Impulses

Marketers have long tried to tap into impulsive buying. Whether that’s encouraging consumers to call immediately or offering a limited-time discount, impulse buying has always been deeply integrated into the shopping experience.

However, impulse buying is increasing at a staggering rate with social networks.

Platforms like Instagram and Facebook allow consumers to make purchases without ever leaving the platform. And while not exactly a social platform, Amazon has one click ordering to make it all the easier to purchase without thinking.

Companies know that impulse shopping can drive a huge amount of revenue and are doing everything in their power to make it as simple as possible for customer to purchase without thinking.

In 2017 we should expect to see more and more companies implementing impulse buying options across social media platforms.

Pinterest, for example, isn’t just a place for posting recipes and interior decorating ideas. They now offer a “Buy Now” button which allows consumers to make immediate purchases from the platform.

Considering that a massive amount of Pinterest users visit the site for product-related ideas, it’s a huge opportunity for marketers.

95% of websites are HURTING their Own Google Rankings

We have checked hundreds of websites over the years and the sad fact is that 95% of them are actually doing things that will make it harder (or impossible) to get rankings on Google.

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Is Your Site One of the 95%?

The question that you (as a business website owner) might well be asking is MY site one of the 95%?? Of course, you may not be bothered, thinking that your site’s ‘job’ is just to ‘be there’ when someone wants to check on you. But that is really a waste, your site could be doing so much more than just sitting back, waiting for the occasional visitor…

Brochure Sites

Brochure sites are sites that are just meant to act, well, as an online brochure, a means to impart information about a business to anyone who is interested. They are often just visited by people who having heard about a company (or maybe they met someone at a networking event?) want a bit more information before they contact them for a quote etc.

A Wasted Marketing Opportunity?

This is a good way of using the power of the Internet (saves on a lot of brochure printing for a start), BUT, is it also a wasted opportunity? The thing is here you have a website, full of (hopefully) interesting stuff about your business, the services that you offer and ‘what makes you special’ and yet no great efforts are being made to get more people to read it all. This must be a wasted opportunity, as any one of those visitors (that the site is not getting) could be a potential customer…

So What Are These Sites Doing Wrong?

The fact is that there are many ways that business sites are ‘getting it wrong’ when it comes to getting Google to ‘like’, and thus give their pages a prominent position for a given search term. Some of them are quite basic mistakes too and could easily be fixed with a few clicks (and a little bit of thought).

Some Examples of the Mistakes Sites Make

The Title Tag

You may not notice (although Google always does) this one, as it a bit hidden, but if you take a look at the top of your Internet Browser window, you will see the ‘Title’ information for the page you are looking at. In many cases you will see words like ‘Home’ or ‘About Us’. Whilst not being incorrect (as you would be looking at the Home or About us page), they are not really very informative to the very ‘person’ you really want to impress and that of course is Google.

Think about it, would not a phrase like ‘IT Support Services | Computer Repairs’ ‘tell’ Google a bit more than the word ‘Home’? It really is a no brainer and so very easy to fix….

The Meta Description

When you look at a page you don’t even see this (not even at the top of the Browser), it only being visible in Google’s search results, under the Title and the URL of a site. This might make you think that it is worthless from an SEO point of view, but you would be wrong. It is true that the words in the Description do not have a lot of clout SEOwise, but if you leave the field empty or use the same one on many pages, you run the risk of making the site appear to be ‘lazy’ as far as Google is concerned and that ‘black mark’ could make all the difference when Google has to decide what site to list for a phrase you want to be found for.

Again, a few clicks on the keyboard can make the problem go away.

The Elevator Speech

Another thing you should bear in mind is that a good Description can make all the difference when it comes to getting that all important click from the Google search results. Think of this 160 character text block as your ‘elevator’ speech and create one that would make someone just have to click through to your site, as it is only then that you get a chance to start that dialogue that could result in a sale or enquiry.

The Header Tags

This is another of those things that you will probably not have noticed (and yes you guessed it, Google is looking at this too), other that is that the text might look a bit bigger. But why is the correct use of Header tags important? To explain this I need to give you a bit of a history lesson, it all starting with the way that documents are constructed. This actually goes back to the time that newspapers were laid out using lead type as here the editors had to be able to let the people who were laying out the type which bits were the important, that is, what words (like the Headlines) needed to be big. This was all done using a ‘Header Tag Number ranging from 1 to 6 (or something similar).

This rule set was used when the code that describes how a page would be displayed on Wordprocessors and screens was written , it again being used to control how words would be displayed. This in turn fed through to the language that controls printers and also, most lately, how web pages are rendered by Browsers, this of course being HTML.

The Advent of CSS Styles

In the early days on the Internet there were in fact only a few ways you could control how big the words on a page were, these Header tags being one of them. Today of course you can control the font, size and colour of the text on your webpages using CSS Styles, but the importance of the Header tag lives on as Google still use these to work out which words on a web it should take more notice of, something that is vitally important when trying to get your page to the top of the results.

A Problem With Web Designers

It must be said that most sites use these Header tags, but the problem is they are often used incorrectly, the majority of web designers still using them to control the size of text, often compounding the issue by then using them for such terms as ‘Home’, ‘Contact Us’ or ‘Blog’. Highlighting words like these to Google is useless, far better to use them to point out to Google those words that you want to be found for like ‘IT Support Prices’ or ‘Best Anti Virus Software’.

Putting this right is a little harder than both of the above, but it is still not that big a job and makes your site that bit better in Google’s eyes and thus that bit more likely to get a good listing in their results.

Links – The Popularity Voting System of the Internet

Whilst the majority of the power that links bestow come from links to a site from other sites (so called ‘backlinks’ as they link back to you), the links FROM a webpage to other sites and the INTERNAL links in a site are also important. The first tells Google that you are a part of the community that makes up your market place (as well as pointing them at some other valuable resources, which Google likes to see), whilst the second type helps Google understand what each of your pages is about as well as helping people move about your site. As Google rates sites that offer the best ‘user experience’ higher than others, such internal links can only help.

Incoming Links

Whilst the links to a site cannot be put right by making changes to the site, they are a vital part of the ‘battle’ to get a site listed on Google, accounting for about 40% of the marks that Google allocate when deciding what site to list for what term. However, the fact is that the majority of sites either don’t have the any (or enough) links or have the wrong sort. Both of these can really hinder a sites chances of getting a first page (or any) ranking. Fixing them can take a long time and a lot of work though and has to be done very CAREFULLY.

 

SEMANTIC SEO and the Words on the Page

Semantic SEO is all about making sure that Google understand what a site is all about, thereby ensuring that it’s ‘meaning’ is fully comprehended. This is easier to do than you might think, the major thing to get right being to make sure you use the right words on the page. The right words of course are the words that Google wants to see. The good news is that Google will tell you what these words are, all you have to do is to ask in the right way, this being done by ‘Reverse Engineering‘ the top pages on Google …

Writing the Right Copy

Armed with these words and phrases, and a good understanding of the subject (it helps if you are a genuine expert) you can then write the right copy, adding some images, and if you can audio and video components as you go. Sprinkle some internal and external links at the same time and you have gone a long, long way of cracking this particular nut.

 

Polishing the Spitfire

You may not believe it, but it is said that back in World War 2 they used to polish the photo reconnaissance Spitfires (as well as painting them pink so that they were harder to spot in the dawn or dusk skies) just so that they could gain a few mph, something could make all the difference, life or death in this instance, when being chased by enemy fighters.

If you follow the guidance above and fix any of the items mentioned in the above information, it will in effect polish your website a little, perhaps gaining just enough extra speed to get your site onto Page 1 of Google and thus get the extra traffic that could make all the difference to your business.

 

Need Help With the Polishing?

However, if you need help with the polishing, even if it’s just some assistance in finding out what bits to polish the hardest, please do give us a call. We are here to help and offer a lot of free advice and assistance.

Google’s New Tweet Section. What Will It Mean For You?

We have seen Tweets in the Google Search results before, so this is not new, but I suspect that the way they are being chosen and integrated is different this time around.

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From a marketing perspective though, all that matters is that it is happening and that therefore any business should start thinking that bit more seriously about using Social Media and Twitter to better effect.

As I have mentioned previously, Social Media is important for SEO too, it being an increasingly important factor in the way Google chooses what site to list. This makes Oscar Wilde’s comment “There is only one thing in life worsr then being talked about, and that is not being talked about” even truer, if for different reasons…

The other thing to take from this interesting article is that by the looks of it, the hashtag #, could be being used to selec

Google and Twitter have been teasing us with a new integration of tweets into Google search results for months, but this week they finally made the official announcement. Real-time tweets are now showing in Google search results on mobile devices with desktop integration to come soon.

The integration takes the form of a carousel that appears in search results, which lets you swipe sideways to see various tweets. It only appears on some searches, and it’s unclear how and when exactly Google decides to show them. The examples we’ve seen have been for Twitter profile searches, celebrity searches, and newsy/trendy topic searches.

The placement of the tweets in search results varies. I assume it’s based on now relevant Google feels those tweets are to a particular search. If the search is related to an event, perhaps Google will be more likely to show them toward the top while it’s actually happening. I’m only speculating.

Google isn’t saying much of anything about how it determines what tweets to show or how it shows them. It’s refusing to answer questions about this, and the blog posts from both Twitter and Google on the integration are pretty short and vague. It’s easy to understand why this would be the case. They don’t want people to game the system and abuse the feature.

It’s entirely possible that we’re only seeing the very beginning of what Google will ultimately do with its newfound tweet access. We spoke with Stone Temple Consulting’s Eric Enge about the new integration, and he believes Google will be doing a lot of experimenting and potentially evolving its use of the tweets.

Earlier this year, after Google’s deal with Twitter was announced, we had a conversation with Enge about some studies his company had conducted, including one that analyzed Google’s use of tweets at the time. There were a lot of interesting findings in those, which you can learn more about here. Now that the new integration is live, we wanted to see what Enge thought about it, and if he can see any validations or contradictions to what the study found. Here’s what he told us:

Right now the integration between Google and Twitter is quite light. Currently, it’s only visible from Smartphone devices. In addition, it’s clear that they are experimenting. For example, when you search on a name, such as “Taylor Swift”, you see tweets that she has put out there. Yet, the initial release showed tweets that mentioned her. This is typical of Google, where they experiment with different implementations to see what works best, before settling on one for the longer term. I expect this experimentation to continue.

What this means for visibility in the short term is not much at all. This process is in the very early stages. Think of this as Google proving that they can access, process, and leverage the data from the Twitter firehose. I’d expect more substantial integration sometime soon. The whole process may take months to play out.

What I’d love to see is Google do something involving personalization related to Twitter. I.e., if you share a link in a tweet, and then later search on a related topic, that particular article might rank higher in the search results. I have no way to know if they are getting enough info to implement something like this, but it would be a very cool feature for them to be able to add.

As you know, our two most well-known studies on Twitter evaluated how Google Indexes tweets, and how to maximize Twitter engagement. The current integration tests between Google and Twitter don’t really feature anything that would dramatically change the conclusions of either of those studies. I think the real story is yet to come.

Frankly, I expect both studies to change. Twitter indexing could well skyrocket, as our indexing study showed indexation rates for Tweets of just over 7%. Imagine if this jumps to 50% or more. This could be a huge deal!

In addition, the simple act of rendering tweets in search results will not create a new source of engagement, which is whether or not you are able to get displayed. In particular, how timely are you with Tweeting our news. If you are fast with this, your tweet will get far more attention than ever before.

Overall, I think this initial integration is big news because it’s the start of a process. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the story unfolds!

It does seem like Google may use hashtag searches as an indication of when users might want to see tweets. While not all hashtag searches yield twitter results, others mainly related to things that are being talked about a lot at the time do.

Under Google’s previous Twitter deal, it had a realtime search feature, which included tweets in addition to content from other services. It would be cool if they could bring content from other sources like Instagram, Facebook, etc. into the carousel, at least for hashtag searches as hashtags extend well beyond the Twittervese these days. Either way, Google’s approach seems like all the more reason to include hashtags in tweets for visibility purposes. It is unclear how often people are actually searching Google for hashtags however.

Please see the full article at http://www.webpronews.com/what-does-googles-new-tweet-section-mean-for-you-2015-05

Semantic SEO and Google, the (not so) Blind Man

In some of my previous posts, and when discussing SEO with my clients, I’ve often alluded to Google being like a blind man in a department store. I used this analogy as, without some help, both the man and Google could easily get lost and not be sure that they were in the right place.

In the case of the blind man, this would result in him leaving the store without making a purchase (perhaps never to return); in Google’s case it could mean that they will not understand what the site is really all about. This could be catastrophic as far as getting rankings for just about anything is concerned.

Leaving signposts on your web pages

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Of course, in a store you have Braille signs, but what is the equivalent on a website? The answer is of course the Meta Title, Description and Header tags of the pages. Using these to inform Google about the content of the pages is a great first step; even though it’s very much part of the ‘Old SEO’ it’s still vital today.

Google ‘the not so blind man’ and old and new SEO

Even with all of its power and the new SEO practices that it’s forcing us all to follow, Google is still like a blind man in that it needs help to ensure that it gets the right end of the proverbial stick. There is however a huge difference between Google of old and the one that is evolving before our eyes.

If you’re of a certain age, you may remember the TV series Kung Fu. In it, David Carradine stared as a Shaolin monk (Kwai Chang Caine) who, through the training he received, became a martial arts expert. However, it’s not David that’s interesting here, but his mentor, Master Po. Po was totally blind, yet he could ‘see’ everything, pointing out the grasshopper at the feet of the young Kwai Chang – something the latter, even with his perfect vision, had missed.

Today, Google is like Master Po: it can’t see everything, but it can see a lot and all that it does see is taken into account when considering what site to rank for what. But it’s vitally important to understand how it is planning (and to some degree already is) to use this enormous amount of data. That’s because this is the big difference between old and new SEO.

Old SEO equals keyword matching

To be fair, old SEO was more than simply matching a keyword phrase to the ‘best’ sites for that term; even the old systems had 200 or so ‘factors’ that were taken into account. But in the end, it was mostly to do with how well the ‘signposts’ you placed on a site (be they in the Titles, Headers or copy, not to mention all those links) matched the keyword phrase; that’s what really counted.

This of course led to gaming of the system. SEO companies would alter the pages of a site to SHOUT the target keywords to Google. And to reinforce the message they’d create thousands of links to reinforce the message. Pages without any real merit reached the top of the listings and Google came out with more and more rules to try to combat the situation. It was a time of new trick after new trick, with each one being found out and the gains it had brought removed. But it worked, and to some degree still does.

The days of Old SEO are numbered

Google, it seems, concluded that it wasn’t going to continue with this ‘arms race’. Instead, it would change the game entirely. In my view, it didn’t do this out of spite; I believe Google just wanted to ensure that it would always be able to pick the best sites for any phrase and never be tricked again.

This was no mean task, but Google has a plan based on the fact that, instead of just matching keywords to sites, they will (try to) look beyond the words to the meaning of the search phrase – in other words, what you or I, as searchers, are really looking for.

This was one of the reasons for the introduction of the Hummingbird update (technically this was more like changing the engine than replacing a part of it, but let’s call it an update for simplicity). In doing so, Google wanted to be better able to understand what people wanted when they used the new Voice Search feature on smartphones. (By the way, according to the experts, the reason for this is that people express things differently when speaking, compared to when they write them down.)

The reason it’s called Semantic SEO

This leads nicely to the reason this whole process is called Semantic SEO. Semantic is a Greek word that means ‘meaning’. As Google is trying to work out what the intent (and what it really means) behind a search phrase is, this has led to the whole process being called Semantic SEO.

Google does more than just try to work out what the real user intent behind a search phrase is. In order to come up with matches in its database of sites, it must also understand the real meaning of any page. To do this, it must work out what the content is trying to say; that is, how it can help, inform and entertain.

It is thus vital to understand what message you are trying to put across with any content. You can read more advice on this in the next post.

But how does Semantic SEO work?

This is the big question for anyone who wants the best rankings possible for any relevant search phrases. But it’s here that we hit the first real change. You see, even though keywords still have their importance, they’re not the be-all and end-all that they used to be. That’s because Google no longer relies on simple keyword matching.

So, if Google isn’t using the words on pages to decide what it should list, what is it using? This is where it gets tricky to explain; basically, Google will look at the information, the real meaning of a page and the site it is part of, and the purpose behind its creation. It will also look at what others say about it (and on it in the case of comments) before deciding if this matches the meaning behind the search phrase.

Being found when you’re not even being searched for

This is what Serendipitous Search is all about. It’s another another huge change to the old SEO because Google is now more of an ‘answer engine’ that provides suggestions for sites it thinks might be useful – even though they don’t include the keywords being searched for.

The more you make your site answer the questions and needs of your potential customers, the more Google traffic you will give you.

 

Semantic SEO and the feedback loop

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This is another very interesting (and potentially scary) thing about the new Google. Not only does it look at the words on pages, their meaning, links to and from a page, and social media comments (as well as who made them). Google also looks at the data it has gleaned from the billions of searches it makes every day and sees how each one went.

This means that every time a site is listed, Google can tell how popular that site was from the CTR (click-through rate) to the site. It has been using this methodology for years with Pay per click (AdWords); adverts getting the best CTR are charged less than those with low CTR. With organic listings there is of course no payment. But if a site’s Title and Description don’t get people to click on the link, Google will eventually notice and simply stop giving that page a listing for that term. You can imagine that, if this happens too often, a whole site could just disappear from the rankings. So beware and do check the CTR in your Webmaster Tools.

There’s more too. You see, a site could well have a really great Title and wonderful descriptive text causing all who see it to click through. You might think that’s good news, but if the site doesn’t live up to the visitor’s expectations and they click back to Google to try again, Google will notice this – and conclude that, for that term at least, the site doesn’t deliver the goods. As with poor CTR, this could eventually lead to the site not being listed at all.

Google will also use the feedback process to ‘learn’ what people want to see in the first place, which helps it understand what the meaning of the search was really likely to be about. This allows Google to make its best guess about what sites it should list for any term, and then just sit back and wait to see how people react. If they click on a site and don’t bounce, then they’ve got it right. But if they bounce they haven’t, so Google ‘learns’ with every decision searchers make. What’s more, it will never forget and will keep updating its knowledge all the time. Spooky, eh?

There’s more too. You see, a site could well have a really great Title and wonderful descriptive text causing all who see it to click through. You might think that’s good news, but if the site doesn’t live up to the visitor’s expectations and they click back to Google to try again, Google will notice this – and conclude that, for that term at least, the site doesn’t deliver the goods. As with poor CTR, this could eventually lead to the site not being listed at all.

Google will also use the feedback process to ‘learn’ what people want to see in the first place, which helps it understand what the meaning of the search was really likely to be about. This allows Google to make its best guess about what sites it should list for any term, and then just sit back and wait to see how people react. If they click on a site and don’t bounce, then they’ve got it right. But if they bounce they haven’t, so Google ‘learns’ with every decision searchers make. What’s more, it will never forget and will keep updating its knowledge all the time. Spooky, eh?

The above process is made even more powerful by the fact that, just as Google can deduce what a page or a site is about (and therefore what answers and information it gives), when it really does satisfy a user it can then deduce the original intent. This is yet another part of the great feedback loop.

Semantic SEO and gaming the system

As we’ve seen, it’s the copy and how well the message and meaning of a site is put across to Google and any visitor, that really counts in the end. The former to get a listing in the first place; the latter, in effect, to keep it.

There is, of course, more to convincing Google than the copy, though I think this will take the lion’s share. Inbound and outbound linking, the social media signal and the level of interaction (including sharing) are also major factors.

Although it may be possible to game the system by creating a bigger social signal than the site really deserves, the experts’ view is that this will be more and more difficult, with Google looking at each person who comments or Likes, then deciding if they’re real or not. If they are one of the millions of fake profiles set up in the past, they will count for nothing, and may even damage a site.

Thus under the intense scrutiny of Google, it may be as hard and unproductive to create huge amounts of social signal as the process of creating thousands of worthless links…

This doesn’t mean that a small quantity of such links and signal are useless. Both can ‘prime the pump’ a little so the real power of the site is allowed to shine through. If this is the case, a small level of gaming (or old-fashioned SEO work) still looks as if it will be worthwhile.

However, if the page or site in question doesn’t really deserve a high ranking, it will eventually be denied one when people tell Google that it’s no good via low CTR’s and high bounce rates. Therefore, the whole process depends on having a site that answers visitors’ needs. And that means high quality, useful content delivered via words, pictures and video.

The new Semantic SEO

So what will the new SEO process look like? In my view it will still start with the keyword phrase. After all, this is the start of the process and can’t be ignored. The next stage is to try to work out which words are likely to be used by someone who has the intent to react with your site in the way you’d want. This could be to buy something, or simply to understand that you could help them with their problem or needs.

Once you’ve decided on these words, you can reverse engineer the Google results to see what sorts of words it likes to see.

Combine this data with the questions that are being asked, and the problems that your site solves, and you have the recipe for a perfect page that answers people’s needs and uses the words Google expects to see. Interestingly, the latter neatly covers the area of LSI (Latent Sematic Indexing) – without all the effort.

Once this page is created, and you’ve placed all the standard ‘blind man signposts’ on it, you can proceed to getting it noticed via old-fashioned links and social media.

As you can see, the above includes some old SEO practices, this being for the simple reason that they’re still as relevant and required as they were several years ago.

The biggest change and the greatest challenges are to understand what you should write about and post on a site, and how you can generate the necessary signal on Social Media. I’ll cover this in my next post.

Driving More Traffic To Your Website

Just having a website is not enough, it needs visitors. Think about how people will find your site, when you consider all the websites there are out there, finding one specific site is like searching for a thimble in a giant warehouse stuffed with things. Obtaining targeted traffic has to be co-ordinated and organised so that it is a proper marketing strategy. So, how do you go about attracting the right audience to your site?

First and foremost, you need to use a good range of keywords and key phrases that are relevant to your niche, in your published content. It is always a good idea to perform a thorough keyword research so that you are aware of what terms are being searched for. Don’t forget local keywords and long tail keywords, these can lead to a valuable increase in business.

Make use of social media. These days, social media is an important aspect of any online marketing strategy. It is however, important to know which platform or platforms that your customers use. There is no point in being on one that they don’t use, the whole point is so that you can interact with them. Social media can really help with brand recognition and for lesser known companies, it can give them a real boost. You will need to engage with your followers, this need not take a long time, just a few minutes a couple of times a day. Remember, it is a 2 way conversation and should not be used just for the hard sell, you will lose followers faster than snow melting in the midday sun if you just use aggressive selling tactics.

Set up a blog. Having a blog is another way of driving traffic to your site and it doesn’t cost you anything. There are plenty of free web 2.0 blog sites that you can use to publish your blog on. Writing about things you are passionate about will pass on that enthusiasm to your readers. Make sure that you write really interesting articles that people will enjoy reading and will share through social media. Readers want to gain something, so a little titbit of knowledge or some fun and interesting facts will go a long way to encouraging readers to return. Video blogs can be a great way of conveying useful information.

 

 

Social media marketing and SEO are two tightly interwoven strategies. Both are organic, inbound strategies that focus on building an appealing identity that naturally attracts visitors. Since social media relies on high-quality content and a visible, strong brand presence, the efforts you spend on SEO can doubly improve your social media reach, and as most search marketers will tell you, your social media presence can greatly increase your search rankings.

Unfortunately, when discussing how social media can influence your Google rankings, most search marketers leave out the details. Rather than discussing exactly how and why increased social media attention can improve your SEO, it’s written off as a generality, leaving social media marketers to wonder whether their strategies are actually effective.

To remedy this, I’ve compiled a list of six social media practices that are shown to effectively boost your SEO. For more ways social media benefits online marketing campaigns, see “The Top 10 Benefits of Social Media Marketing.”

1. Growing Your Number of Followers. The total number of followers and connections your social media profiles contain does have a significant influence on your rankings. A company with 100 Twitter followers won’t receive nearly the ranking bonus of a mega-corporation with a million Facebook likes and a million Twitter followers. However, there are some stipulations to this; Google can detect the quality of your followers, meaning buying 100,000 proxy Twitter followers isn’t going to do much for your overall rankings. Instead, you’ll need to build your following organically.

Growing your number of followers is a slow process, but effective so long as you’re consistent. Present your brand uniquely and consistently, using the same voice to update your users on a daily basis. Post useful articles, helpful tips, open inquiries, and general discussion items, then follow up with your users by engaging with them in conversation directly. Conversations and direct customer engagements are the key to building and retaining a sizable, interactive following, since they encourage current followers to return and help build your authority for new, potential followers.

2. Encouraging External Inbound Links. Social media is also useful because it encourages more external sites to link to your content, and the more diverse external links you have, the more authority you’ll gain in Google’s eyes. Of course, the catch to this is that you have to have high-quality, authoritative content to begin with. Otherwise, you’ll have nothing to use to attract links.

In this case, social media serves simply as a broadcast channel. Your content, assuming it’s original and useful, is going to serve as bait, and your social channels are going to serve as fishing poles, putting the bait in front of the right eyes. Use hashtags to gain visibility for your initial rounds of syndication, and don’t hesitate to bring your content into existing threads and discussions. Doing so will improve your social reputation as an authoritative leader, but more importantly, it will maximize your potential external link sources.

3. Optimizing Your Posts for Searches. This strategy also relies upon pre-existing content, but it opens a secondary channel for search. In addition to news articles and Knowledge Graph entries, Google also tends to favor popular social media updates in the top sections of its SERPs. It’s a key, somewhat temporary position you can attain by making sure your posts are optimized for the opportunity.

Read more http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2015/01/27/6-social-media-practices-that-boost-seo/2/

Making the most of SEO

It is so important nowadays for businesses to have some sort of social media presence. With virtually everyone having access to social media, it is a great way of interacting with your clients, improving your customer services and attracting new customers. Business branding is how you should look at using social media rather than as a sales pitch. Yes, you can use it for sales promotions however, this should be done very sparingly, people do not want to see a permanent sales pitch and you will lose followers faster than snow melting in the desert. Work your pitch as a way of sharing information, tips, advice and even as a way of showing the lighter side of life. Be seen as a business who is expert in their field and who is always happy to share knowledge. Your own profile should not be neglected. Create a professional profile which contains genuine information that shows you as a real person.

 

Social media is all about sharing and interacting so spend some time doing this. Start a conversation and see what people say. Do not get into arguments, that would be completely unprofessional and will also show your company in a very bad light. Try to be respectful online, remember that what you write is there for all to see. Be enthusiastic and positive, these qualities can be a real magnet. Honesty and kindness should be employed at all times, this does not mean that you have to be either a soft touch or a push-over but it will show a better side to you and your business.

 

Yes, it is that time of the year again when everyone starts to predict what SEO will look like in the coming year. Google’s algorithm is constantly changing. There are public updates as well as refreshes and tweaks that occur on a regular basis. Rather than throwing out theories or predictions, I want to discuss five things that you should already be focusing on as we enter 2015.

1. ROI Should be the Metric You Track, Not Keyword Rankings

Determining whether or not an SEO effort is successful based on keyword positions is completely reckless. Ranking reports that show your website is ranking high for a bunch of keywords looks great but it doesn’t always translate to leads, sales and revenue. In fact, some SEO companies will target low competition, virtually useless keywords, just so they can tell you that you are ranking #1 on Google.

As a business owner, which statement would you want to hear from your SEO company?

  • Great news! Your website is number one on Google for the keyword ‘free widget information’ but we don’t know if it has produced any revenue. Buy, hey congrats — you are number one! Woo hoo!
  • Last month’s infographic was responsible for earning 72 inbound links and it also pulled in 67 leads, 18 sales and17,360 in revenue.

Is a fancy keyword ranking report more beneficial or knowing what your return on investment was? If you aren’t measuring the success of your SEO effort in terms of ROI now is the time to start.

2. Earning Links Instead of Building Them

Inbound links are going to remain the biggest signal, or vote of confidence in terms of authority and trust, that Google uses in their algorithm. This isn’t going to change. Not in 2015 and probably not in the years to come.

For the past couple of years the focus has turned to building high quality links. Well, this has evolved into a hybrid SEO-Public Relations approach, and watch for more companies to combine their SEO strategy with a more traditional PR approach moving forward.

Earning a single link on a high quality relevant website is valuable for multiple reasons including SEO, attracting referral traffic and brand exposure. Look for traditional PR and SEO to work hand-in-hand in 2015.

Click link to continue http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-long/5-things-your-seo-strateg_b_6341032.html

13 SEO mistakes that are easy to make

 

Using Social Media For Customer Service

Social media has many uses for business marketing however, it can be  a very powerful voice for customer service. Virtually everyone uses social media in one form or another and as such a dissatisfied customer can very quickly and easily give your firm a bad review that can spread like wildfire. On the other hand, a good review can really help your business’s reputation which in turn can lead to new clients. This is why it is important to monitor the social media platforms you are using for your business, it is no good setting up accounts and posting now and again and then not bothering to interact or engage with your followers or even worse, just posting continual sales pitches. Of course you can use it for the occasional sales pitch but followers want more, they want information, discussion and a bit of fun as well. It does require a degree of dedication and if you can’t do this yourself, you should delegate this task to someone who will be diligent, interact with followers in a fair and non-judgmental way and flag up or solve any issues that might arise. As with any customer service, it is important to address problems as soon as they arise. Similarly, thanking those who give praise is also appreciated.  So, if you thought social media was just another marketing tool, think again, use it to promote your good customer service.

With the modern man attached to his smartphone at the thumb, today’s consumers often look to social media as the go-to route for customer service interactions with brands around the world.

Additionally, there’s a greater incentive for brands to satisfy needs and fix problems expressed on social. An irate traveler in an airport only influences other irate travelers. An irate, inconvenienced traveler on social media influences their followers – and potentially many more.

Personally, I now default to seeking support and service first on social media. Often, these interactions begin when I hear two of the most inconvenient words in any language:

“Flight Cancelled.”

These words imply all sorts of misery: long lines, angry travelers, overbooked alternate flights, missed connections and hours on the phone with airline customer service. Except not anymore.

On a recent trip, my wife and I experienced the dreaded cancellation, and all 150 to 200 people from our flight were told to go to the main customer service desk for rebooking. Anxiously waiting in line, I started tweeting at the airline.

There was no Twitter version of a phone tree, no time being put on hold. Within minutes, a person (indicated by a signature like this at the end of their tweets: “^LC”) got back to me. The representative requested I follow their account so we could discuss flight information via Direct Message instead of by publicly tweeting.

Less than 10 minutes after the initial cancellation, I had our rebooking – all via Twitter. We were still 20 to 30 minutes from the front of the line at customer service, and most of the people in front of me were on the phone – on-hold – with the airline.

The best part? We were rebooked on a plane departing within 15 minutes. If we’d waited on traditional customer service options, the flight would have been long-gone.

Traditional service options would have left me a frustrated, stranded traveler. I would have hours to tweet snarky comments about the airline. Instead, it had a satisfied customer – already on Twitter, ready to share my experience. Click here to read on

Further information

When social media doesn’t work

The top 7 social media trends of 2014

Don’t dismiss PPC as part of your strategy

You might think that there is no place for pay per click or PPC in your online marketing strategy and this may well be true. However, do not discount it as means to rapidly increase valuable traffic to your site. It is important to identify and understand your audience before you begin so that you are targeting the right people from the start. There are now many channels you can make use of, from the traditional search engine PPC to social media and this is why it is important to understand who you are aiming your campaign at. There is no point in setting up a campaign on a channel where your target audience is not likely to subscribe to, this will be a complete waste of time and effort. When you have chosen your channels, make sure you measure everything as this information will tell you where you can make adjustments to improve return on investment. Here is some useful information to help you set up a winning PPC campaign.

Creating and managing a pay per click advertising strategy for your business can be a truly daunting task.  While pay per click advertising, or PPC, is one of the best ways to increase traffic to your website, it can also be risky. Without a properly managed strategy, you can end up paying more than your potential return. Fortunately, there are methods proven to optimize your PPC strategy. Here is a brief pay per click definition, along with the five basic principles of any PPC strategy.

What is Pay Per Click Advertising?

Pay per click advertising is a type of online advertising where the advertiser only pays when a web user clicks on an ad. In search engines, PPC ads can be differentiated from regular search results by their prominent placement, which is typically above or to the right of the search results. Often PPC ads will also be marked as “Sponsored Ads” or “Sponsored Links.”  Advertisers place bids on keywords or phrases designed to match search queries of your target audience. The rates charged for a PPC ad vary depending on the popularity of the keyword or phrase.

Track Measurable Conversions

Unlike other forms of advertising, PPC does not scale. As you get more traffic, you will continue to pay more money because your cost per click will stay constant. The best way to avoid losing money is to track conversions. A conversion can be defined as any useful action a visitor to your website takes. While it doesn’t have to be a sale, it needs to be measurable and valuable to you in some way.

Crunch the Numbers

While PPC can be pricey, it is worth it if you are profiting from all those clicks. Generally, the amount you spend per click needs to be less than the total profit earned per click. While your initial direct profit from your PPC campaign may not meet this guideline, it is important to consistently crunch the numbers in order to know if your PPC campaign is a success.

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/online-marketing/5-basics-ppc-strategy-0777682#r50RYKoIYPbwo60M.99

Further information

Getting creative with PPC campaigns

3 important considerations for mobile PPC

How to generate awareness with PPC

The new SEO and the part that it plays today

There has been a lot of talk about SEO being dead over recent months, but in my view, to paraphrase Mark Twain, “reports of SEO’s death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Why am I so sure about this? Well to use an expression that is said to have been used by the famous Sherlock Holmes (but never was it seems) it’s ‘Elementary my dear Watson’, because quite simply ‘Google Needs Help’ to reach it’s own goal of listing the best sites for any given search term.

Google Needs Help in Deciding What Sites to List

This, some may say is a bit of a bold statement, but when you come to think of it, it’s totally true and always has been. It may actually be even truer today, as Google have stated that they want to list sites with ‘Good Content’. They go on to say that one of the ways they ‘decide’ on what ‘good is’ is by seeing how many times the content has been shared, and of course this ‘sharing’ needs people to take an action and ‘share’ ,  ‘like’ or link to a site’s content.

The Old Old SEO

If you go back in time in SEO, it was all very simple, you just keyword stuffed a page, and then built lots and lots of links to it, this was enough to get any page listed, but that was a long time ago indeed and so  much has changed.

The Old SEO

Moving forwards in time a little, we see that it was Links that were the ‘silver bullet’ some people going so far as to say that they could get a blank page into the listings purely by the power of the links. One example of this was the ‘Google Bomb’ a technique that was used to get Google to come up with sites referring to George W Bush if you searched for ‘miserable failure’. This won’t work now of course, Google making changes back in 2007 to make sure that Links themselves would not work this way anymore. It however did work then and is an example of how Google took note of links.

The Arrival of Social Media

The arrival of Social Media however really changed the whole area of SEO, many of the ‘brownie points’ that Google gives to sites being re-allocated from the areas of On Page SEO and Links to Social Media ‘Chatter’.

This is really the change that you need to take into account, regardless of whether your business is active in Social Media or not, as just because you are not ‘talking about yourself’ does not mean that others are not (this by the way is another topic and is all about Brand Management / Protection, more on this another time).

Social Media Signal

It is this ‘Social Media Signal’ that is the real ‘killer’ today, Google ‘Wanting’ to see comments about a sites content in Twitter, Facebook  on the Social Bookmarking sites etc, as this in their view means that the pages must be interesting.

Content Marketing

However, it is not ‘good enough’ these days to just have good content on your site, you also need (especially in tough market places) to have interesting information on other sites, this process being known as ‘Content Marketing’. But even here it is not enough just to post this data, you have to make sure that this ‘shared content’ is itself ‘shared’ on Social Media sites.

How this Helps Google Decide to List Your Pages

This is of course the crux of the matter, as once you understand what you need to do to ‘help’ Google you will understand why SEO is still so very important…

Google the Blind Man

I believe that Google is much the same as a blind man in a department store, sure he will find the right department given time, but if he is helped, he’ll find it a lot faster (and perhaps before he just leaves) and be ‘happier’ when he does.

Helping Google find the right pages on a site starts with making sure that the site is well built and is structured to be ‘Search Engine Friendly’ (you would be surprised just how often sites are not built the right way even today). This includes, but is not restricted to, using the right Titles and Header tags for the pages. These together with a site map really helps Google know what the pages are about and where to find them.

Then there is the Links to a site. These are not anything like as powerful as they used to be, but they still count. You do however have to be careful as Google has many rules covering the linking arena .

Lastly, but not least we have the Social Signal mentioned above.

But What Part Does ‘Modern’ SEO  Play?

First, SEO means keyword research, as it is this that drives the On Page SEO (the words on the pages). Following the SEO rules then ensures that the site is built with the Search Engines in mind (so that all the pages can be found and SHOUT the right words).

Links are next on the agenda. Now whilst Google only really wants  to see links that are built by independent reviewers / visitors to a site and not by the site owner (or their agents), this is not always possible as people often won’t find a site unless it is listed on and Engine, so it really is a chicken and egg situation.

This means that the pump must be primed a little to start with at least, links being created by ‘artificial’ means. This is of course not liked by Google, but they know that it goes not and will turn a blind eye unless it is done in totally the wrong manner.

The New SEO’s real difference to the Old (and really old) SEO is that of Social Media.

As Google looks for social signal (the sharing / liking / bookmarking of sites) it is not surprising to find that today there is a huge industry whose one aim is to artificially create social signal to a site’s content or to its shared content. At the moment, in my view this is going a bit crazy and Google will no doubt put into place some checks and balances, so any work today has to be done carefully, but there is no doubt of its importance.

All the above helps the blind man

All of the three areas of the NEW SEO help the blind man find your site’s pages and what is more important understand what they are about and to at least ‘believe’ that they are ‘liked’ by others and are worthy of listing.

I hope that by now you will understand that SEO is far from dead as Google still needs help in deciding what pages to list for what.

If you would like to discuss your requirements, or just want to know a bit more, then please do contact us, we’ll be pleased to help.

 

3 important parts of SEO

At Serendipity Online Marketing, we are always encouraging you to provide quality content for your sites and blogs, obtaining good backlinks and make use of social media where appropriate. These 3 things are essential for keeping your website in the organic rankings and if you are a business owner, your site has to be noticed and listed by the search engines. Remember to write your content for human readers, it must be engaging for visitors to read, this will not only encourage them to return to your site but it also means that they will be inclined to share it with others and this in turn leads to increased traffic. The increase in traffic will be noticed by Google and this will increase your standing. Staying within the rules of Google’s algorithms cannot be stressed highly enough, any transgressions will be severely punished, as many have found to their cost so, play by the rules and you will see the benefits.

Two of the main components of a strong SEO strategy are the same as they has always been: to publish high-quality content that gets read and linked to by as many people as possible (ie, quality content and inbound links).

But in 2014, a third key element will join the ranks of these two elements: social media. I touted social media as one of the three key elements of SEO for 2013, but over the course of the year, my experience has been that most business owners still haven’t gotten the message. I’m still constantly asked why and how social media benefits an online marketing campaign, which leads me to believe that social media, while definitely a buzzword recognized by most business owners, hasn’t yet been adopted to the extent that it needs to be.

While social media has been a factor in the ranking algorithm for years, the community has been reluctant to officially adopt social media as a key role within SEO campaigns.

Social media wasn’t around when SEO first developed into an industry, but it’s now pervasive across all industries and our culture; and it provides the means to increase shareability, distribution, and reach. This, in turn, provides readers and search engines alike with new metrics by which to measure quality (ie, quantity of shares and mentions in each social media channel, which are both easily measurable). As a result, “social signals” are now the fastest-rising search engine ranking factor, and business owners that fail to recognize this will be left in the dust by their competitors that do.

Click here to continue reading

Further reading

How to write content for SEO, Google and Marketing

SEO = relevance and reputation