Monthly Archives: November 2011
As social sharing gained greater importance in Google’s search algorithm updates throughout 2011, it makes perfect sense that Google would venture into the social space by creating Google+ and the +1 button to get in on the action. Since then, Google has slowly rolled out updates to how Google+ and +1 impacts search results, and these little changes are starting to add up. To stay ahead of the curve, let’s take a look at the four most recent updates that Google has started testing to integrate their foray into social networking with the organic search world.
Google+ Content Appearing as Site Links in Search Queries
Google is slowly starting to return results in search engine results pages in the form of Google+ posts with ‘Add To Circle’ buttons for Direct Connect-approved brand accounts. This feature is available to all searchers, regardless of whether they are logged in to Gmail or are Google+ users.
How to leverage this change: If you’re not approved for Direct Connect, apply for it so you are prepared when this functionality rolls out to all brands. This update makes it easier for Google+ business pages to attract new followers, so get ahead of your competitors and get excited about the fact that even people who aren’t on Google+ can soon access the content you publish there via search engine results pages!
Google+ and Google Places Integration
This change snuck up on marketers during the Thanksgiving rush. As reported by Search Engine Land, Blumenthals.com performed a local search and noticed that the usual Google Places listings appeared but now with a newly incorporated icon (see the gray arrow) that clicks through to a Google+ only results page.
How to leverage this change: This is presumed to be a test, but if you’re concerned with local search, ensure your Google+ business page is up and running and that it includes a picture and regularly published content that speaks to a local searcher. If searchers can easily find your Google+ page, it should look good, move them through to your site, and hopefully gain you another follower.
Google+ Profile Integrates With Search Results
Google+ photos and bylines are beginning to appear next to content in search results, and searchers who click through via the photo or byline are sent to a SERP that delivers only content authored by the owner of that Google+ account that’s related to the original search query.
How to leverage this change: Encourage employees, especially your business’ primary content creators, to promote content on social networks to extend your reach. Because a searcher can click through for more results on their query from you and only you, be sure to consistently create content around your most important keywords so a disappointingly short page isn’t returned!
Google News is Spotlighting +1 Content
If content has received a +1 by a Gmail user or member of a Google+ Circle, that item is now eligible to show up in the spotlight section of Google News. This means that people signed in to Gmail can see the news articles their network likes (in the non-Facebook sense, of course!).
How to leverage this change: If you stay up-to-date on your industry and +1 great content, your Google+ profile picture will show up next to the content you publicly +1′ed. This brings more traffic to your Google+ profile, expanding your reach and getting more eyes on your content.
Have you noticed Google+ content creeping up in search results in unexpected ways? Has it convinced you to create your Google+ Business Page yet?
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So you want more Twitter followers, eh? You want to increase your ‘likes’ on your Facebook business page? Social media sites make great tools to engage prospects and customers as well as share content and messages about your brand. Since as a marketer, you’re primarily using these tools for promotional purposes, you need to make sure you’re attracting new fans and followers through content and campaigns that will attract the types of prospects your brand wants; followers that may be interested in what your business has to offer and will actually want to engage with your brand.
Below is a list of 5 awesome examples of brands that have effectively used social media to engage with their fans and followers in fun, unique, and brand-centric ways. What makes these examples noteworthy is not only the creative ways the brands interacted with their fans, but also their incorporation of clear calls-to-action and targeted links for potential customers to connect. They launched their unique campaigns so fans and followers could learn more about their company and brand, and in addition, created ways for them to become leads and potential customers.
1. Artist Vows to Sketch Every New Twitter Follower
Artist @GregBurney vowed to sketch the first 3,000 new followers he gained. He started out with 70 followers, and by the end of the day, had attracted over 2,000. Today he has over 5,000 followers. Because of this awesome interaction showcasing his talent, Burney gained an 8,000% change in Twitter followers and possibly a few more people interested in his artistic work.
2. Tweets Get Blockbuster Voiceover Treatment
British Telecommunications company Orange dramatized its Twitter followers’ summer plans by giving them the summer blockbuster voiceover treatment. All Twitter users had to do was include #thissummer in their tweet along with their plans, and Orange would capture it and give some the voiceover effect. Orange hosted the voiceovers on its blog, which helped generate more traffic to their site. Not only did this keep followers engaged with the brand, but it was fun, shareable, and in line with the brand’s communication image.
3. Wendy’s Gains 30K Twitter Followers in a Month for @GirlBehindSix
Wendy’s introduced a game show revolving around the Twitter handle @GirlBehindSix, which referred to the open slot on Wendy’s menu. The campaign made @GirlBehindSix the host of a 140-character game show that gave prizes such as mopeds, espresso machines, and foosball tables. The game show challenges varied from taking a Twitpic of your old headphones to win new ones or coming up with a name for a moped gang to win a moped. @GirlBehindSix gained 30,000 Twitter followers in month with barely any ad support — just one promoted tweet and a huge amount of word of mouth marketing.
4. The “Resorter” and the BALSAMS Grand Resort Hotel
The BALSAMS Grand Resort Hotel used its “InnBedded Resorter” campaign to find the world’s first-ever “resorter,” a person who would live at the hotel for the months of July and August and use social media channels to share all of their experiences at the 8,000 acre resort. The “Resorter” blogged daily and posted social media updates, photos, and videos about all The BALSAMS had to offer. The campaign was a huge hit for the hotel, and they saw a 20% increase in bookings in August. They also worked with Canadian social media travel stars Alex and Luke, who simultaneously posted to their own social media accounts about the hotel.
5. Healthy Choice and the Growing Coupon
In addition to growing its Facebook fan base, Healthy Choice was looking to increase engagement and reinforce the brand’s value image. The brand knew its customers were social media savvy and that they were also extremely interested in coupons. Therefore, Healthy Choice introduced a progressive coupon on the Healthy Choice Facebook Page. The coupon began at a low value of $0.75 off and increased as people ‘liked’ the page and signed up for the coupon, ultimately reaching a “buy-one-get-one-free” deal. In just a few weeks, Healthy Choice’s fan count grew from just under 7,000 to over 60,000, and the Facebook ads they used generated over 11 million impressions. Most importantly, 60% of new fans also subscribed to Healthy Choice’s newsletter.
In the end, it’s not always about what you do, it’s how you do it. If your fans and followers are engaging with your campaign, that’s great, but make sure you give them a reason to be there that will help move the needle for your company as well. Set goals (do you want to increase reach, generate leads, etc.?), use calls-to-action, and make sure your campaign is engineered to achieve those goals. Use your social media campaigns as a tool to build interest in your business and ultimately generate new leads and future customers.
What are some creative ways you engage with your fans and followers in social media?
Image Credit: Matthew Johnson
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EDINBURG, Texas – While flying an afternoon patrol along the twists and turns of the Rio Grande, Lt. Continue reading
What we’re following:
- American Airlines files for bankruptcy protection
- Protesters break into British embassy in Iran
- Conrad Murray to be sentenced
And did you see…
- Facebook IPO could value the company at $100 billion
- Obese third grader taken from home, placed … Continue reading
In search engine optimization, inbound links are a marketer’s most powerful asset. Given that off-page SEO (as opposed to on-page SEO) accounts for the majority of a web page’s ability to rank for a particular keyword, building authoritative and relevant links into your website from external sites isn’t exactly something you should overlook in your SEO strategy.
But while link-building is critical, it’s also tricky, considering giving an inbound link is the decision of the website linking to you, which isn’t something you have complete control over. Therefore, it’s one of those inbound marketing tactics that requires dedication and the realization that success won’t happen overnight. So how can you take control of something that is seemingly out of your hands? Don’t worry; you’re not totally out of luck.
If you’re new to the concept of an inbound link, read this introductory article about inbound links before you move on. All set? Great! Now you’re ready to tackle 8 powerful link-building tactics to improve your business’ search engine optimization.
Link-Building Tactics to Boost Off-Page SEO
1. Submitting to Website Directories: This is one of the few link-building tactics you do have complete control over. That said, it’s also one of the tactics with the least SEO mojo. While inbound links from website directories may not have a ton of authority, the ease of submitting your website to them to jumpstart your link-building efforts makes it totally worth it, especially the free ones.
2. Content Creation (Link Bait): Another link-building tactic you have complete control over is your ability to create remarkable content that others naturally want to link to. This type of content historically gets a bad rap as ‘link bait,’ which can be defined as content specifically created with the goal of generating attention and encouraging others to link to the website. But that doesn’t mean all ‘link bait’ content is bad. As long as the content you’re creating has value to your target audience, why wouldn’t you want others to link to it? Content that typically makes great link bait content are types that get shared a lot, including original data and research, infographics, viral videos, and content about controversial topics. A business blog is the perfect platform for this content.
3. Networking & Building Relationships: While networking and relationship-building takes time, it’s a very effective way to keep your business and your content on the minds of people who might be interested in linking to you. Make a list of the bloggers in your industry who have authoritative and relevant websites. Then start building relationships with them. Follow and tweet with them on Twitter, and give them a little link love by linking to their content in your own blog articles. Once you’re on their radar, they may be more inclined to link back to you if you have content that’s relevant to their audience, too. Reciprocity is a beautiful thing!
4. Optimizing Your Social Media Presence: Okay, we were admittedly a little bit sneaky with this one. Yes, many social media sites use ‘nofollow’ tags, meaning you don’t get any SEO juice from links on your social media profiles or links you share through your social media updates. But even though these links may not benefit your search engine rankings, they’re still links from an external source into your website. Plus, search engines are increasingly using social cues to identify authoritative websites and content. Use the links in your social media profiles wisely; point them to your website to direct viewers of your profiles back to your website. After all, isn’t the ultimate goal to get them there, regardless of how they found you?
5. Asking (Politely): We’re not suggesting that you beg and bribe your way into generating inbound links. However, there are certain occasions when it’s okay to politely ask a fellow blogger to link back to you. For instance, say you got a great mention in a news article on a site with a good amount of authority. The website cited your data and mentioned your company’s name as the source, but where’s the link love? In these cases, it’s perfectly reasonable to politely email the author, thank them for mentioning your data, and ask them to please include a link back to your website as well. As a bonus, if you have a good relationship with this website owner or blogger (see tactic #3), you might even be able to leverage that relationship to request specific anchor text and the URL you want them to link back to. Chances are, they didn’t have your business’ specific SEO strategy in mind when they mentioned you, and they may be perfectly happy to grant your request.
6. Submitting News Releases to Distribution Services: Although news releases can be a great way to get the word out about your company’s product news and other important updates, they also have great SEO benefits. Every time your release gets distributed by a wire service and syndicated on a website…BAM!…an inbound link. Even better is when a website picks up and covers the news you’re promoting in an article of their own, generating an even more valuable inbound link. While most news release distribution services charge for their services, there are a few free ones you can leverage, as well. To get the best bang for your buck, use news releases to share news about content you create that is particularly link bait-friendly, such as new data and original industry research reports you might release.
7. Leveraging Co-Marketing Partnerships and Initiatives: Partnerships and co-marketing opportunities can be a great way to generate inbound links. Generally, co-marketing initiatives are conducted with partners that sell products or services that aren’t competing with your own, but are complementary. Consider leveraging those relationships in your link building efforts. You link to them. They link to you. Everyone’s happy.
8. Guest Blogging (External Content): We saved the best for last. Guest blogging is probably the most effective way to generate quality inbound links to your website. Yes, it requires more content creation on your part, but the results are lasting and powerful. Think about it: what business that understands the importance of inbound marketing isn’t trying to provide a steady flow of fresh content? If you were struggling to fill your blogging queue with valuable content, wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity to publish a guest post from a fellow qualified blogger? As a blog manager, they get fresh content with little effort. As a contributor, you get control over the anchor text and URLs for the keywords you’re targeting. Win-win!
What are some other powerful link-building tactics you can use to boost your business’ off-page SEO?
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Nothing works better than just improving your product.
- Joel Spolsky
Many of you probably joined Twitter to market a business. While marketing may be your primary focus, the Twitter also emphasizes an element of personal branding you shouldn’t neglect. Have you optimized both your business and personal Twitter presence to enable people to learn more about you and your business?
If you haven’t, keep reading. David Meerman Scott shares a set of elements you should optimize within your Twitter profile. Let’s look at the four major components of a Twitter profile for better optimization:
1. Your Twitter Background
The first component you can optimize is your Twitter background. As a Twitter user, you have the opportunity to upload a custom image or pick one of Twitter’s suggested templates. Don’t use the default. David’s Twitter background, for instance, is an image of an antique typewriter. “It’s like my personality,” says David.
A customized Twitter background is great for conveying something about you or your brand’s personality. What is more, it makes you more unique, helping you stand out from the crowd of other Twitter users. Not sure how to go about creating a custom Twitter background? Check out our video tutorial.
2. Your Photograph
The second element of a Twitter profile that you will need to optimize is your avatar. Again, don’t use the default “egg” image. That won’t help you differentiate you or your business from the rest.
Many people use photos that don’t help Twitter users recognize their identity. There is either too much going on in the photo, or it has been taken from too far away. These types of images might be great at conveying your personality, but they aren’t necessarily optimized for branding. Instead, for personal profiles, you should consider using a headshot that clearly shows your face so you can be easily recognized in the Twittersphere. For business accounts, use an image that portrays your company logo or brand.
3. Your Twitter Bio
Your bio is the third thing you should optimize on your Twitter profile. It’s easy to just put a laundry list of stuff in there to define you or your brand, says David. But why not come up with a full sentence that describes you or your business? Also, make sure you include a link to your website or blog, where visitors can go to learn more about who you are and what you do.
4. Your Tweets
Don’t forget to also optimize each of your tweets. Always share valuable content and use action-oriented language. As we have discussed previously, verbs are the part of speech that generates the most shares on Twitter. Post regularly — even over the weekend. We have found that Saturdays and Sundays perform well in terms of engaging people through tweets.
Make sure your updates also include links to landing pages, a technique that will enable you to generate leads from Twitter. In this way, your social media efforts will directly impact lead generation.
What are some practices that you have leveraged to optimize your Twitter presence, both for personal and business use?
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According to recent Nielson’s numbers, 43% of all mobile phones are smartphones, and Google anticipates that 85% of mobile devices will be web-enabled by next year. This means smart marketers simply can’t afford to ignore mobile phones and mobile phone users. But what do you really need to do to make sure your website is mobile-optimized? Here are the top 3 essentials for a mobile-optimized website.
1. Create a Mobile-Friendly Version of Your Website
The first — and most important thing — you can do to mobile-optimize your site is to create a mobile-friendly version. This allows people who are visiting your website on a mobile device to easily view it on a screen that is typically 2 inches wide by 3 inches long. Because of their size, mobile phones present a unique challenge when displaying lots of information. You want to make sure that text is readable, links and calls-to-action are clickable, and that the site is easy to navigate.
There are 2 ways you can implement a mobile version of your website.
- Mobile CSS: Mobile CSS allows you to change the way your website is organized and displayed just on mobile devices. Just as you can have a printer-friendly version of your page, you can also have a mobile-friendly version using mobile CSS.
- Mobile Redirect: You can also choose to create an entirely different website for mobile viewers. If you do this, you need to have a mobile redirect so that users who visit your site using a mobile device will automatically be redirected to the mobile version of your site.
2. Set Up a Meta Viewport Tag
Smartphones are also navigated differently than a desktop or laptop computer. Instead of using a keyboard and mouse to move around your site, users are typically using their fingers on touch screens. As a result, smartphones allow users to do things like rotate their phone to view a website in a different orientation or scale a page larger or smaller.
The meta viewport tag is what makes this all possible. This line of code tells a mobile device how to orient a page when it’s loaded. It also determines if a page can be scaled larger or smaller and if it should rotate as users rotate their mobile devices.
If your site is missing a meta viewport tag, you need to add a line of code like the following to the header section of your website. (Note: This line of code can be customized by your developer depending on your desired height and scale specifications)
<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width,initial-scale=1,user-scalable=no” />
3. Add Apple Icons
Apple icons are a great branding opportunity for people who use iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. Apple allows users to add a quick link to the desktop of their device for easy access. Similar to a shortcut, the quick link lets users come back to your site with one click, right from the home screen of the device. Without any customization, the device will take a screenshot of your site and use this as the icon. Defining the icon that will be displayed is a great branding opportunity.
If your site is missing the Apple iPhone and iPad icons, you will need to do three things.
- Design a 57×57 pixel icon that you would like to use for your Apple iPhone and iPad icon. This can be something as simple as a screenshot that you crop to the appropriate size or your logo.
- Upload the icon to the file manager of your website where you store other images.
- Add the following LINK element to the Header HTML of your website, pointing to the new icon you created.
<link rel=”apple-touch-icon” href=”http://blog.hubspot.com/filename.png” />
The role of mobile devices in marketing is still being figured out by users and marketers alike. You can expect to see changes in how smartphones are used and what you need to do to support your users. Implement these 3 essential steps, and you’ll be ahead of the curve, making it easy for mobile users to access your website and its content.
Have you mobile-optimized your business website yet?
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There’s a lot of buzz around whether marketing automation software is worth the investment of time and money, or whether it’s a waste. Here’s the thing: marketing automation can be a really great complement to your inbound marketing strategy IF it’s used correctly. Many marketers, however, have come to believe some things about marketing automation that simply aren’t true, which leads to misuse of the software and ultimately ends in a lot of disappointment and dismal results. Let’s clear up 5 of the most common misconceptions that surround marketing automation and highlight both the dangers and merits inherent in marketing automation.
1. Marketing Automation Gets You Leads
This is the biggest misconception out there about marketing automation, so let’s clear it up right now. Marketing automation does not get you leads; inbound marketing does. In fact, 25% of your database expires every year, so it’s crucial to maintain inbound marketing efforts alongside marketing automation to ensure your database doesn’t slowly wither away. When done correctly, however, marketing automation does help you make the most of those leads by nurturing them and navigating them through the decision-making process until they decide they’re ready to buy (and even after they become a customer, to make sure they stay happy!).
2. Marketing Automation Means ‘Set It and Forget It’
This is one of the easiest ways to make sure your marketing automation investment is a complete waste. Marketing automation software can offer robust functionality, but without an insightful marketer behind it to continually analyze and tweak campaigns, all that functionality is useless. Is your click-through rate on an email low? Test a new subject line. Is one segment of your database opting out of emails at a faster rate than others? Perhaps your send frequency is too high, or your messaging isn’t quite hitting the mark. No one (and I mean no one) gets it right the first time. Keep coming back to check in on your data, adjust what didn’t work, and do more of what works well.
3. Marketing Automation Helps With Email Deliverability
You can definitely still spam people with marketing automation, and marketing automation software cannot help you get your emails through spam filters. Marketers still have to understand and implement email marketing best practices and avoid things like sending irrelevant emails, emailing too frequently, and emailing people who haven’t opted in to their communications. Between sophisticated SPAM filters, email overload, and advancements like Gmail’s priority inbox, marketers have to ensure lists are segmented and emails address something the prospect cares about. If not, messages will get weeded out of inboxes in a jiffy, no matter how sophisticated your marketing automation software is.
4. Marketing Automation Personalizes Communication
Marketing automation scales personalized communication; it doesn’t create it. The onus is still on the marketer to create buyer personas and interpret leads’ behaviors to align their needs at any given time in the buying cycle with the message they should receive. Marketing automation software is not capable of gleaning what to send, when to send it, and to whom it should be sent all on its own; it needs a marketer (usually with the help of the sales team) to tell it all of these things.
5. Marketing Automation Sells For You
No, marketing automation software is not the salesperson of the 21st century. Marketing automation software simply helps bubble up the people that are inherently more “sold” on you because you’ve done a good job creating educational content and getting it in front of them. You still have to create and optimize that content, promote it in social media, drive visitors to landing pages with killer offers, and (this is the biggie) ensure your marketing automation software is running in such a way that it delivers the right content at the right time, and it understands how to identify those people who are ready to speak to a salesperson.
The major caveat to all of this (and if I haven’t emphasized this enough, here it comes…) is that marketing automation only works when done correctly. Approach marketing automation as a tool to improve your inbound marketing, not a replacement for it, and learn how to interpret visitor activity for effective use of the tool as part of your inbound marketing strategy.
What other misconceptions have you encountered about marketing automation? Have you implemented it as part of your own inbound marketing strategy?
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I had Apollo on the brain during our Saturday night coverage of NASA’s Curiosity Rover mission to Mars. I reported that a Saturn V rocket was carrying the Mars Science Lab. I should have said it was an Atlas V rocket. Continue reading
Go ahead … Google your business! Don’t be shy — it’s just as important as checking yourself out in the mirror before you leave for a job interview!
Don’t Let Others Do Your Googling for You
We have all Googled our own keywords at one point or another, and as marketers, many of us obsess over getting the highest rankings in the eponymous search engine. But there are still a huge swath of businesses that are letting someone else do their search engine optimization and Googling … and it turns out, they are leaving money on the table.
Your Customers Search a Variety of Keywords
Let me share a quick story to illustrate the point. Recently, I learned that I am a proud Aunt of my second nephew who was born several weeks early. Hurrah!
That meant I was driving up for Thanksgiving without time to have selected the perfect baby gift for this premature bundle of joy. Naturally, while coming home from the gym in my native Austin, Texas, I decided to use my iPhone to solve the problem with a local solution.
So, I pulled up the maps app and typed in “baby gifts 78704″ in the search box.
The results pictured at right are what I got. That’s not much. Seriously, Austin may not be Manhattan, but I was dismayed to find only four shops within a three mile radius of downtown.
“No way,” I thought.
Being a savvy Googler, I altered my search to “baby clothes 78704.” Lo and behold, check out the seven results much closer to my blue dot, several of which were just blocks from my exact location!
Totally Different Results for Such Similar Keywords!
Something you’ll notice is that a few of the “baby gift” results are NOT in the set for “baby clothes,” though having checked out their websites, I know they sell both.
So, I made my way to Wee, which had just the sort of cute, snuggly gifts I was looking for. When I got there, I told the staffer that I couldn’t find their store when I searched for “baby gifts.” First, she was incredulous, since they have an SEO firm they work with. Then I showed her, and she was really grateful for the tip.
Take Control of Keywords & SEO for Your Business
While I may have only given her another keyword to target, what I really hope I did was open her eyes to the idea of taking charge herself. If the Wee team had brainstormed and researched its own keyword list and done just a small amount of SEO homework, including Googling themselves, they’d have a much higher possibility of getting found by shopping aunties just like me!
Make sure you’re taking control of your business’ keywords. You’re the expert about your industry and business, and you likely have a better understanding of the types of keywords and terms your prospects are using to find you. If you hire an agency or an SEO consultant to help with the work, make sure you take part in the keyword research and choose a reputable partner you can trust. It’s critical to be on the same page about the keywords your prospects and customers are searching to find you. If not, you could be leaving valuable customers on the table.
When was the last time you Googled your business … from your buyers’ perspective?
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