Staying on Top of your Internet Marketing Game

In the world of digital marketing, the landscape is always moving. New platforms are always popping up, existing platforms improve or change their offerings and new trends emerge. Unlike offline marketing were “tried and trusted recipes” can produce results time and time again, online marketing presents daily challenges.

For example, you can be outbid on Google Adwords; your Facebook posts are not getting any reach, or you have had no retweets on Twitter.

All of the above makes for a very challenging and flexible, moving business plan. Static plans just don’t work online. Keeping yourself up to date on new developments is essential for successful marketing campaings.

As the lead trainer for the Skills Train, Sue van der Linde firmly believes there are very few online marketing gurus out there; although many would like to call themselves this. It takes hard work and dedication to stay ahead of developments in the industry.  Sue is frequently updating her knowledge base to ensure your courses are meaningful and give real answers to real problems your business may face online.

Below is her most recent achievement.

certificate - digital marketing

Posted in SEO, Social Media Tagged with: ,

SEO TIPS for the everyone

Most people with some web design and beginner SEO knowledge should be able to take these to the bank without any problem.

1. If you absolutely MUST use Java script drop down menus, image maps or image links, be sure to put text links somewhere on the page for the spiders to follow.

2. Content is king, so be sure to have good, well-written, and unique content that will focus on your primary keyword or keyword phrase.

3. If content is king, then links are queen. Build a network of quality backlinks. Remember, if there is no good, logical reason for a site to link to you, you don’t want the link.

4. Don’t be obsessed with PageRank. It is just one isty bitsy part of the ranking algorithm. A site with lower PR can actually outrank one with a higher PR.

5. Be sure you have a unique, keyword focused Title tag on every page of your site. And, if you MUST have the name of your company in it, put it at the end. Unless you are a household name, your business name will probably get few searches.

6. Fresh content can help improve your rankings. Add new, useful content to your pages on a regular basis. Content freshness adds relevancy to your site in the eyes of the search engines.

7. Be sure links to your site and within your site use your keyword phrase. In other words, if your target is “blue widgets” then link to “blue widgets” instead of a “Click here” link.

8. Focus on search phrases, not single keywords, and put your location in your text (“our Palm Springs store” not “our store”) to help you get found in local searches.

9. Don’t design your web site without considering SEO. Make sure your web designer understands your expectations for organic SEO. Doing a retrofit on your shiny new Flash-based site after it is built won’t cut it. Spiders can crawl text, not Flash or images.

10. Use keywords and keyword phrases appropriately in text links, image ALT attributes and even your domain name.

11. Check for canonicalization issues – www and non-www domains. Decide which you want to use and 301 redirect the other to it. In other words, if http://www.domain.com is your preference, then http://domain.com should redirect to it.

12. Check the link to your home page throughout your site. Is index.html appended to your domain name? If so, you’re splitting your links. Outside links go to http://www.domain.com and internal links go to http://www.domain.com/index.html.

Ditch the index.html or default.php or whatever the page is and always link back to your domain.

13. Frames, Flash and AJAX all share a common problem – you can’t link to a single page. It’s either all or nothing. Don’t use Frames at all and use Flash and AJAX sparingly for best SEO results.

14. Your URL file extension doesn’t matter. You can use .html, .htm, .asp, .php, etc. and it won’t make a difference as far as your SEO is concerned.

15. Got a new website you want spidered? Submitting through Google’s regular submission form can take weeks. The quickest way to get your site spidered is by getting a link to it through another quality site.

16. If your site content doesn’t change often, your site needs a blog because search spiders like fresh text. Blog at least three time a week with good, fresh content to feed those little crawlers.

17. When link building, think quality, not quantity. One single, good, authoritative link can do a lot more for you than a dozen poor quality links, which can actually hurt you.

18. Search engines want natural language content. Don’t try to stuff your text with keywords. It won’t work. Search engines look at how many times a term is in your content and if it is abnormally high, will count this against you rather than for you.

19. Text around your links should also be related to your keywords. In other words, surround the link with descriptive text.

20. If you are on a shared server, do a blacklist check to be sure you’re not on a proxy with a spammer or banned site. Their negative notoriety could affect your own rankings.

21. Be aware that by using services that block domain ownership information when you register a domain, Google might see you as a potential spammer.

22. When optimizing your blog posts, optimize your post title tag independently from your blog title.

23. The bottom line in SEO is Text, Links, Popularity, and Reputation.

24. Make sure your site is easy to use. This can influence your link building ability and popularity and, thus, your ranking.

25. Give link love, Get link love. Don’t be stingy with linking out. That will encourage others to link to you.

26. Search engines like unique content that is also quality content. There can be a difference between unique content and quality content. Make sure your content is both.

27. If you absolutely MUST have your main page as a splash page that is all Flash or one big image, place text and navigation links below the fold.

28. Some of your most valuable links might not appear in web sites at all but be in the form of e-mail communications such as newletters and zines.

29. You get NOTHING from paid links except a few clicks unless the links are embedded in body text and NOT obvious sponsored links.

30. Links from .edu domains are given nice weight by the search engines. Run a search for possible non-profit .edu sites that are looking for sponsors.

31. Give them something to talk about. Linkbaiting is simply good content.

32. Give each page a focus on a single keyword phrase. Don’t try to optimize the page for several keywords at once.

33. SEO is useless if you have a weak or non-existent call to action. Make sure your call to action is clear and present.

34. SEO is not a one-shot process. The search landscape changes daily, so expect to work on your optimization daily.

35. Cater to influential bloggers and authority sites who might link to you, your images, videos, podcasts, etc. or ask to reprint your content.

36. Get the owner or CEO blogging. It’s priceless! CEO influence on a blog is incredible as this is the VOICE of the company. Response from the owner to reader comments will cause your credibility to skyrocket!

37. Optimize the text in your RSS feed just like you should with your posts and web pages. Use descriptive, keyword rich text in your title and description.

38. Use keyword rich captions with your images.

39. Pay attention to the context surrounding your images. Images can rank based on text that surrounds them on the page. Pay attention to keyword text, headings, etc.

40. You’re better off letting your site pages be found naturally by the crawler. Good global navigation and linking will serve you much better than relying only on an XML Sitemap.

41. There are two ways to NOT see Google’s Personalized Search results:

(1) Log out of Google

(2) Append &pws=0 to the end of your search URL in the search bar

42. Links (especially deep links) from a high PageRank site are golden. High PR indicates high trust, so the back links will carry more weight.

43. Use absolute links. Not only will it make your on-site link navigation less prone to problems (like links to and from https pages), but if someone scrapes your content, you’ll get backlink juice out of it.

44. See if your hosting company offers “Sticky” forwarding when moving to a new domain. This allows temporary forwarding to the new domain from the old, retaining the new URL in the address bar so that users can gradually get used to the new URL.

45. Understand social marketing. It IS part of SEO. The more you understand about sites like Digg, Yelp, del.icio.us, Facebook, etc., the better you will be able to compete in search.

46. To get the best chance for your videos to be found by the crawlers,create a video sitemap and list it in your Google Webmaster Central account.

47. Videos that show up in Google blended search results don’t just come from YouTube. Be sure to submit your videos to other quality video sites like Metacafe, AOL, MSN and Yahoo to name a few.

48. Surround video content on your pages with keyword rich text. The search engines look at surrounding content to define the usefulness of the video for the query.

49. Use the words “image” or “picture” in your photo ALT descriptions and captions. A lot of searches are for a keyword plus one of those words.

50. Enable “Enhanced image search” in your Google Webmaster Central account. Images are a big part of the new blended search results, so allowing Google to find your photos will help your SEO efforts.

51. Add viral components to your web site or blog – reviews, sharing functions, ratings, visitor comments, etc.

52. Broaden your range of services to include video, podcasts, news, social content and so forth. SEO is not about 10 blue links anymore.

53. When considering a link purchase or exchange, check the cache date of the page where your link will be located in Google. Search for “cache:URL” where you substitute “URL” for the actual page. The newer the cache date the better. If the page isn’t there or the cache date is more than an month old, the page isn’t worth much.

54. If you have pages on your site that are very similar (you are concerned about duplicate content issues) and you want to be sure the correct one is included in the search engines, place the URL of your preferred page in your sitemaps.

55. Check your server headers. Search for “check server header” to find free online tools for this. You want to be sure your URLs report a “200 OK” status or “301 Moved Permanently ” for redirects. If the status shows anything else, check to be sure your URLs are set up properly and used consistently throughout your site.

Posted in SEO

Facebook’s Changing Algorithm: How to Make it Work for You

Facebook’s Changing Algorithm: How to Make it Work for You

Earlier this month, Facebook execs penned a blog post describing changes to the social media giant`s news feed algorithm. Designed to curb spam and enhance the user experience, the modifications were defined in three broad categories: ‘like-baiting,` frequently circulated content (or images and posts uploaded repeatedly), and spammy, misleading links (such as posts that purport to be links to a photo album but are purely ads.)

Like-baiting is “when a post explicitly asks News Feed readers to like, comment or share the post” in the hopes of additional distribution. Although in the past these posts were more widely seen, readers reported that they were less relevant than other stories with comparable analytics (likes, comments and shares). “Over time, these stories lead to a less enjoyable experience of Facebook since they drown out content from friends and Pages that people really care about,” the Facebook blog states.

To ask for the Like or not.
Despite Facebook`s unequivocal statement indicating that posts telling readers to share/like/comment will be less shareable, Unbenchable CEO and Facebook expert Lou Abramowski has ignored the suggestion … and still received great results. In a Facebook page for Ultimate Frisbee fans, Abramowski recently posted a link to a Huffington Post article written by Isaac Saul, saying “LIKE if you know what Isaac`s talkin bout.” The post received 841 likes and 390 shares – and more than 125,000 views – in just three days. The difference may be that asking for likes, when done only on occasion and embedded with highly relevant and shareable content is different than inundating readers with prompts on a regular basis.

User experience is key.
Some people on Facebook complain they’re inundated with the same posts or images, see a lot of material they find uninteresting or irrelevant, and sometimes even click on misleading posts which appear relevant but turn out to be anything but. The changes being made are an attempt to address these very issues, and are based on data from users who indicated which posts were relevant, as well as posts or pages they hid. Ideally, tweaks to Facebook`s algorithm will improve user`s experience with its news feed, so that content viewed is relevant and trustworthy. Facebook’s referral traffic share continues to grow, and changes that improve reader experience may lead to more people spending more time on the social media platform.

But how do the changes affect your business` Facebook posts? If you haven`t been reposting content ad nausea, creating misleading ads or repeatedly requesting likes, comments and shares, you may not notice any changes at all – or maybe even experience a slight increase in how often your posts are viewed. To increase the shareability of your Facebook content, though, it`s best to keep in mind the tips below.

Consider Facebook ads – and make sure they`re targeted.
“Facebook has been changing their algorithms more frequently over the last year,” says Celeste Horton, a production manager at online marketing firm WebScout. “Business pages are having a tougher time reaching their audience. This is forcing businesses to pay for ads in order to be seen by a broader audience.”

What`s the best way to get people to consistently read and share your content on Facebook? Other than making sure the content is high quality, ensuring the right people see it is key.

“Don`t waste ad dollars on people who don`t want to see your content,” says Horton. “Target the right person you want to reach, not just the [entire] U.S.”

Luckily, Facebook ads allow for very specific targeting by location, age, interests and other demographics. Make sure to be extremely specific about who you want to reach. Targeting the right person increases clicks and shares. It also leads to more people following you – so they`ll read your content without having to see ads going forward.

Even a small budget for ads can have a good ROI.
Horton spends just $5 a week in Facebook advertising on one of her clients, a small amount which she believes would just be a drop in the bucket on Google Adwords. Five dollars a week can lead to 3,000 to 5,000 extra eyes on a business page, which can translate to around 10 new ‘likes` each week as well as additional site traffic. “You definitely get bang for your buck with Facebook ads,” Horton says. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money.”

Post previews with images are better than photos alone.
“Photos are going to be shown more than if you just use text, and that’s across the board for any kind of business,” says Horton. She`s also noticed that posting a link with the preview image is more widely shown than just posting a link, even if you add in your own photo. Make sure to use stock images, or your own photos, for your posts and share those same images along with the link in Facebook.

As always, make sure you’re sharing fantastic content.
Much like Google, the details of Facebook`s algorithm will always be somewhat secretive, but one thing is clear: your content marketing will always yield a far better return if you post quality content. No amount of targeted ads or social media savvy can make a rushed post instantly shareable. The better your posts, the more fans will engage with them – which, Horton points out, means they`ll be more likely to see your updates in their news feed. So, make sure to put your best foot forward on your blog and, hopefully, fans will follow.

Posted in Social Media Tagged with: , ,

Facebook under attack as ‘algorithms’ spreads false stories about the Obamas

Facebook users clicking on a link to read a story about Michelle Obama’s encounter with a 10-year-old girl whose father was jobless were in for a shock, the Boston Globe reported yesterday.

THE OBAMAS

Facebook responded to the click by offering what it called “related articles.” These included one alleging a Secret Service officer had found the president and his wife having “S*X in Oval Office,” and another that said “Barack has lost all control of Michelle” and was considering divorce.

Facebook did not try to defend the clearly false content, said the paper. A spokeswoman said there was a simple explanation for why the stories were pushed on readers: algorithms.

The stories, in other words, said the Globe were apparently selected by Facebook “based on mathematical calculations that rely on word association and the popularity of an article. No effort is made to vet or verify the content.”

A Globe reporter came across the Michelle Obama links by clicking on an Associated Press story that had been posted on Facebook by The Globe. That story was legitimate; it told how Michelle Obama accepted a resume for the jobless father of a 10-year-old girl who met the presidential spouse at the White House.

As soon as the link to that story was clicked, however, Facebook offered what it called three related articles, said the Globe .

The link to a story about the first couple’s supposed encounter in the Oval Office led to an article that was clearly fake and was “filled with language not suitable for a family newspaper,”said the Globe. The link to the story saying that the president had “lost all control” of his wife quoted a supposed insider saying the first couple were “considering divorce.”

A third link, to a story saying that president’s wife “has no dignity,” was a piece of commentary.

The White House declined comment on the portrayal of the Obama family.

Experts told the Globe Facebook should immediately suspend its practice of pushing so-called related articles to unsuspecting users unless it can come up with a system to ensure that they are credible.

“They have really screwed up,” said Emily Bell, director of Columbia Journalism School’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. “If you are spreading false information, you have a serious problem on your hands. They shouldn’t be recommending stories until they have got it figured out.”

The incident is important, Bell said, because it illustrates the danger of having a company such as Facebook become one of the world’s most widespread purveyors of news and information.

The website relies on the idea that people trust stories posted by friends. But this recent practice, announced last December, is a departure from that ethos because no human being, much less a friend, vets related articles that are posted as a result of Facebook’s algorithms.

Facebook last month announced that it is creating its version of a news service, called FB Newswire, based on social media information that it promises to verify with its partner, Storyful. These verified stories would be offered to news organizations around the world, further expanding Facebook’s influence on the way people get their news.

Storyful said on its website that it would ensure that stories are verified before they are posted on the news service, pledging that it would be “debunking false stories and myths.”

The Globe said that only underscores questions about why Facebook does not similarly try to verify or debunk stories that it pushes to readers as related articles.

Asked to respond, a Facebook official made clear that the company does not apply the same fact-checking standard when offering readers related stories on their news feed, such as the ones about the Obamas.

“These news feed units are designed to surface popular links that people are sharing on Facebook,” Facebook spokesman Jessie Baker said via e-mail. “We don’t make any judgment about whether the content of these links are true or false, just as we don’t make any judgment about whether the content of your status updates are true or false.”

Nicholas Diakopoulos, a fellow at Columbia’s Tow Center who has studied the way major websites rely on data to disseminate information, said that it is not a defence for Facebook to say that it relies on algorithms when posting “related stories.”

He said that humans devise the algorithms and are responsible for their quality. An algorithm, for example, can be designed to accept stories only from a list of trusted sources. By allowing related articles from obscure and unreliable sources, Diakopoulos said, Facebook is offering its huge platform but ceding control of the content.

Google takes a different approach in compiling articles for its Google News service. In addition to using algorithms, the company said it requires news organisations to meet rigorous standards for inclusion.

 

Source : thedrum.com

Posted in Social Media Tagged with: ,

PPC Tip Of The Day

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The keywords in your paid search accounts are what drive the entire PPC machine. Without the keywords, your ads have no trigger to populate. If it were as easy as adding all the keywords in the world and walking away, said world would be so simple and perfect.

 

 

STRUCTURING YOUR PPC CAMPAIGN:

For some reason many people want to make as many ads and add as many keywords as possible to a single campaign. Stop it! The PPC platforms offer you a great way to manage and monitor your ads, take advantage of it. I like to limit each campaign to about five keywords and some variations of those terms. This will allow you to better target your ads and landing page thereby increasing your ad quality score and decreasing your cost per click. – See more at: http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/archive/2013/08/23/tips-to-improve-ppc-campaigns-and-reduce-cost-per-click.aspx#sthash.Q2rzf6Z8.dpuf

 

 

 

 

Posted in Social Media

Social Media Tip Of The Day

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In today’s world social media has become the most fastest and easiest way for people to connect with each other be it via facebook twitter or pintrest with these networks you can do just about anything be it simply just chatting to your friends or advertising your business.

Posted in Social Media

SEO TIP OF THE DAY

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SEO tip of the day: Keywords

Choosing the right keywords is important. Don’t make assumptions about keywords you think are being used. Do some research on it. Using the wrong keyword could peg you up against a lot of well-established and highly visited websites. Use a keyword research tool to find out how people are searching. Narrow your focus and target when using keywords. Be specific and avoid the generic.

Posted in SEO

Cape Town Scoops Social Media Award

Cape Town Tourism has been announced as a winner in this year’s annual Travel + Leisure SMITTY Awards  in the category Best Overall Use of Social Media, CVB, Global.

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The Travel + Leisure SMITTY Awards recognise innovative use of social media in the travel industry.

The 2012 winner for the category ‘Best Overall Use of Social Media, CVB, Global’ was VisitSweden. In 2011, VisitSweden handed over control of their Twitter feed (@sweden ) to regular citizens for one week at a time, in a bid to feature the local voices and flavours of Sweden.

Digital marketing and social media have been an integral part of Cape Town Tourism’s marketing programmes. Cape Town Tourism’s eMarketing strategy focuses on using citizens and fans of Cape Town from around the world as the marketers of Cape Town.  Some of the tourism organisation’s digital and social media milestones include:

  • The creation of a virtual fan park for Cape Town on Facebook.The I ♥ Cape Town  Facebook fan page stands at more than 280 000 fans and was recently recognised as one of the top brand Facebook pages in the country.
  • Regular tweets and blogs have earned Cape Town Tourism a place as one of the top 25 most influential tourist boards and DMO’s online
  • The launch of the new Cape Town Toolkit  that includes diverse itineraries, high-quality images and information about Cape Town that allows registered users in the travel, tourism and marketing trade to access promotional material and resources at the touch of a button.
  • An integrated marketing campaign with National Geographic saw Cape Town and Durban feature across National Geographic platforms for a period of fourteen months between April 2012 and June 2013. The campaign had a strong online focus and included a one-hour documentary about the two cities, a series of TV vignettes focussed on the unique sounds of each city, an array of international National Geographic magazine features, editorial on National Geographic’s website, as well as a social media and digital campaign championed by National Geographic’s digital nomad, Andrew Evans.

Cape Town Tourism was one of the pioneering DMOs to work with travel bloggers in a formal way. In August 2012, Cape Town Tourism hosted four top international travel bloggers as Cape Town iAmbassadors. The campaign was called #LoveCapeTown and over the hosting period it recounted their experiences of the destination across various digital and social media platforms. Cape Town locals were called on for crowd-sourcing ideas and, as the marketers of Cape Town; their engagement resulted in over 36 million Twitter impressions in three weeks (via Tweetreach).

In 2012, Cape Town Tourism used Facebook as a tool for uncovering Cape Town and it’s abundance of attractions via an interactive travel game app called My Cape Town Holiday . The app was launched as a competition that saw Facebook profiles being sent on holiday to Cape Town between October and December 2012, with the offer of the real thing for three lucky winners – announced in February 2013.

Rich Beattie, Executive Digital Editor of Travel + Leisure says: “We launched the SMITTYS last year simply to recognize innovation in social media, but the competition has also raised the creativity bar for travel companies. The increased level of originality really showed in this year’s entries—we saw new ideas on every social media platform. And the addition of travel bloggers has injected the awards with even more energy.”

Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism said; “As Cape Town shifts its brand position to appeal to the new urban traveller, technology and digital marketing is set to play an even more significant role.  The relationship between travel and technology is closer than ever. More destinations are turning to social media to promote their services and reach customers in a more intimate, interactive and instant way. We know that today’s traveller is researching on social media. If they want to know something, they just put it out to the global community, so it’s a space Cape Town Tourism considers vital to play in, staying close to the conversation as a trusted member of the community. The widespread adoption of our hashtag #lovecapetown has been symbolic of the remarkable shift that communication and marketing has undergone in a very short period. I am very proud of the SMITTY award and the team that conceptualised the campaigns that it recognises.”

Posted in Social Media Tagged with: , ,