Why I Embrace the Morphing Medium of Internet Marketing & Benefit from Major New SEO Trends

I’m increasingly enjoying my role as an Internet marketing strategist. Yes, of course, I delight in making a difference by helping businesses sort out how to produce the best results for their particular brand of enterprise. But, it’s also fun to dance with such a lively partner. 😉 Marketing Strategy signYes, Internet marketing is a lively medium. And, what makes it especially lively is (now and for the foreseeable future) it is a constantly moving target, a morphing medium, and a communications environment where change is not only constant. It must be embraced to be enjoyed.

I’m “all in” because it’s my sincere pleasure to stay out in front of the latest changes. For that reason and in order to try to be helpful, I think it’s time to update you on a couple of major developments in the world of online marketing and search engines in particular.

Next Generation SEO Social Signals

As I wrote several months ago (see “This Ain’t Your Mama’s SEO“), search engines are placing increasing importance on “social signals,” indications such as links, likes and +1’s via posts in social media that indicate real appreciation for your content.

I have also long encouraged participation in Google’s social network, Google+ (and if you want more information about how your business can benefit, visit their business pitch page). I even spelled out why I think Google+ is important in my book, “Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know.”

Now, especially when it comes to the all-important Google search results, one social signal has risen above the rest. The latest leading edge social signal is getting Google+ posts with links to your content (blog posts or whatever) to receive +1’s (Google+’s equivalent of a Facebook “like”). In two recent research posts that included reputable analysis of what helps your content rise to the top of search results (something that every marketer wants or should want), the Google +1 has become arguably the most valuable and important search ranking factor, rising even above unique IP in-bound links!

In the Moz.com post, 2013 Search Ranking Factors, the +1 is second only to “Page Authority” to which +1’s are a contributor and which, in any case, is not a specific strategy but more an indicator of success for your page’s online visibility. In the Search Metrics2013 SEO Ranking Factors study, +1’s came in well ahead of another social signal, Facebook Shares. This social signal came in as the #2 ranking factor, but it’s worth noting, I think, that a +1 is just a click and thus easier to get than a share which requires more effort and usually a comment.

In any case, there can now be little doubt that one of the most important things you can do to gain search engine visibility for your web pages is to get people to +1 them on Google+. Of course, this speaks once again to the requirement that you create high quality content that people will actually WANT to share (more on that below). And, if your business is not actively posting (and promoting) its content on Google+, what are you waiting for?!?

SEO Beyond Keywords: Think Pages that Build Topical Authority

Beyond the rabid conversations about “branding” is the more fundamental, at least in SEO terms (pun intended), of building an authentic topical authority—that is an authority that is focused on a specific, relevant topic. This kind of content can be highly regarded by search engines based on its quality, especially when that includes your marketplace’s support via social signals (i.e. Google+ +1’s, Facebook shares, and the like. 😉

In the old days of search engine optimization (SEO), it used to be all about keywords and links; and don’t be fooled, these things are still very important. But another important development in the world of SEO is that Google has recently made clear that it is no longer sharing the data that it used to share regarding which keywords are bringing traffic to your website. This report found inside Google Analytics, for example, is now showing “(not provided)” and has become a major buzz in the Internet marketing world. Among many other posts, for example, here’s Search Engine Watch’s post, “What ‘(Not Provided)’ & Google Hummingbird Mean for Small Business SEO.”

Recommended Reading & Here’s Why

My best practice recommendations are reinforced by the more Big Picture approach taken in the excellent Moz.com post by Ruth Burr, “What is SEO Now That Everything is (not provided)?” I offer this link as a personal suggestion for “recommended reading.”

I like it because she moves the strategic conversation beyond the more common attempts to rank pages for specific keywords. Rather, Ruth focuses on the more meaningful objective of building authority around specific topics. Again, of course, this includes relevant keyword phrases, but it takes a broader and longer term perspective in order to deliver a more more valuable approach. It does this through a foundation of sustainable building blocks like links from credible sources and social signals that may or may not be keyword specific. Ultimately, it’s the relevance of the source not the link text that makes the biggest difference.

As she says:

The real killer of the keyword-driven approach isn’t (not provided), though. It’s Google’s increasing devotion to semantic relationships between topics and entities on the web. Author Rank, personalization, and the Knowledge Graph have added new elements to consider: Now, in addition to what your content says and who links to it, Google also cares about who created it, what else they’ve done, and who’s shared it. (my bolds)

From an Internet marketing strategy perspective, this means, as Burr says, “we need to shift our focus from getting traffic from keywords to getting traffic to pages.”

There is just no getting around the requirement for well-focused, high-quality content that is relevant and valuable for your market niche.

And so it goes. Change is constant, and I see no alternative to embracing the adventure.

I’m happy to help, and I look forward to your comments and feedback as well as to any opportunity to be of service to you and your company.

“It’s a Wonderful Web” ENewsletter Highlights Facebook Pages, Google AdWords and Luscious Links

The March 2013 edition of our “It’s a Wonderful Web” e-newsletter is out. It includes:

  • social media puzzleWhy a Basic Facebook Page is Not Effective Marketing
  • Get QuickStarted with Google AdWords, the World’s Biggest Ad Platform
  • Luscious Links including where to find great images for your blog, why Google+ is a must, and Twitter’s Vine video app

If you’re not already a subscriber, click here to read it online.

New Internet Radio Interview: What’s So New About New Marketing?

One of the fun things about having written a book about Internet marketing is getting to do interviews. Thanks to Susan Scher of the BlogTalkRadio show, “In Other Words” for the opportunity to take a full hour to discuss why I think that understanding the new dimensions of online communications is so important. Among other things, the interview (linked below) covered topics like “what’s so different about New Marketing,” authenticity, the rise of online video, the empowered consumer, social media marketing, my Attract/Engage/Relate approach to sales funnels, content marketing, and much more. Please enjoy and let me know what think.

Listen to internet radio with Perfect World Network Radio on Blog Talk Radio

Just Announced: My New Online Course on Internet Marketing

I’m thrilled to announce a brand new online course as part of our NewMarU.com start up:

Start with a Solid Foundation: 
Building on the 8 Key Concepts of Sustainable Online Marketing

There will be four one-hour state-of-the-art online sessions, all within a two week period. Here’s the dates

  • Tuesday Nov. 6th
  • Thursday Nov. 8th
  • Tuesday, Nov. 13th
  • Friday, Nov. 16th

All at Noon PT, 3pm ET (9am next day in NZ)

Helping people to do Internet marketing right is why I wrote my new book, Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know.

NOTE: This will be a small group. There will be time for you to get your questions answered personally, and I will also give you direct feedback on your progress and step-by-step accomplishments as you grow your own online presence.

Each one-hour sessions will have a specific area of focus:

  • Session 1: Know Your Fundamentals
  • Session 2: Choose Your Building Blocks
  • Session 3: Be Your Best By Using Best Practices
  • Session 4: Marketing Fueled by Your Own Sustainable Energy

Please click here to learn more! And please let me know if you have any questions whatsoever. I’d love to see you there.

Wishing you every success,

Jon

Modern Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Advantages and Techniques

This Guest Post is by Tara Hornor of Creative Content Experts

There was a time when word of mouth marketing could only move at the speed of human speech. Business owners handed out stacks of business cards to customers for their referral program. Neighbors leaned over fences to discuss the finer points of various products and services. Life was about keeping up with the Joneses. Oh, how times have changed.

Radio and television sped up this marketing technique significantly. Word of mouth marketing grew exponentially as use of the Internet became more popular. Now word of mouth marketing moves at the speed of social media, which sometimes seems faster than the speed of light.

Consumers are more likely to make a purchase or use a service if the product or service has positive reviews from family members, friends, acquaintances, even fellow consumers who are otherwise strangers. While word-of-mouth marketing sometimes just happens, there are a few techniques you can employ to help encourage and speed up the process.

Here are a few of the advantages of Web and social media powered word-of-mouth marketing follow by some useful tips to help you get the most out of your efforts.

Can’t Avoid Word of Mouth Marketing

Studies confirm that word of mouth marketing drives 20-50 percent of purchase decisions. First time purchases are especially affected. Purchases that offer a higher risk benefit the most from word of mouth exposure because consumers have much more at stake. For example, if your company is new, try to get some reviews of your products. This acts as a word of mouth reference for peers.

Consumers trust friends more than ad campaigns. Of course, circles of trust now include virtual friends as well as real friends. Word of mouth marketing offers businesses a host of tangible benefits, including:

Stand Out in the Crowd

Consumers are faced with abundant choices. Everyone is competing to be heard. Word of mouth marketing silences the competitors more easily by using trusted recommendations. This is where reviews, Twitter tweets, and Facebook posts about your products and services are priceless.

Leverage Authorities

Savvy business owners who cultivate and nurture relationships with influential bloggers and commenters can leverage their authority. With the right tools and incentives, businesses can turn influencers into brand advocates. Having an influencer who authentically puts their weight behind your products and services can easily be the difference between a sale and a click away from your site.

Speed Up Sales

Word of mouth marketing enables consumers to decide faster. Input from trusted sources allows consumers to put aside any reservations and take a chance on a new product or service. Instead of “thinking about it” and maybe coming back to your site, with some word of mouth support an immediate sale is far more likely.

Modern Word of Mouth Advertising 101

The Internet offers an almost infinite number of hubs for virtual meetings to occur. Today’s version of the “fence out back” encompasses the entire world. Businesses can create virtual storefronts and communities for visitors to socialize in. The corner store has now housed itself in social media. Businesses can easily build brands by following a few simple word of mouth marketing techniques:

  • Put audience interests in the forefront by engaging them with interesting posts and updates.
  • Use photos and videos to show audiences, instead of telling.
  • Design all content around the interests of the target market, focus on their agenda, nor yours.
  • Show people using products, not just product still life images.
  • Integrate reviews, likes, shares, and tweets from various social media resources.
  • Encourage customers to write reviews on your site as well as via review sites such as Yelp.
  • Provide incentives for reviews, both negative and positive, such as a discount or free gift.
  • Make sure to include negative reviews with the positive, as this validates reviews.

Bonus resource: If you want more info on how to engage “influential talkers,” here’s a useful educational video via WordofMouth.org -> Ant’s Eye View’s Jake McKee on how to work with influential talkers

The typical social media user has an average audience of 100 or more. For the average person, that’s 4 times the immediate influence than in days gone by. Word travels much faster than it used to. Therefore, get customers excited about and involved in your company by engaging them on social media sites, your website, and blogs with interesting and helpful information.

Social media tools provide an excellent vehicle for businesses to connect with more consumers more efficiently. The modern water cooler conversation now takes place on social media sites and through product reviews. So get involved with your customers on these sites and be a part of the conversation. As the buzz around your business grows, keep an eye out for an increase in sales to increase alongside of your success with word of mouth marketing.


Tara Hornor has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design. She writes for PrintPlace.com, a company that offers online full color printing for business cards, catalogs, posters, brochures, and promotional postcards. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter.

NEW “Wonderful Web” ENews: “New is New Again”

The new edition of our “It’s a Wonderful Web” enewsletter is out. It includes the follow short stories:

  • It’s All About YOU (including Paul Simon quote)
  • New Marketing in Another New Era
  • Whipping Up Lower Cost Websites (fresh offer)
  • Make Your Marketing More Effective
  • New Custom-Designed Client WordPress Websites
  • Is Your WordPress Website Safe? (new services)
  • New News About NewMarU (update on our educational site)
  • Luscious Links: More Useful Info, Just a Click Away (valuable!)
  • Quick Hits: About the New Enews Format

If you’re not already a subscriber, you can read it online by clicking this link.

Social Media Goes Visual: Why Pinterest is More Than You Think

NextGen Social Media

Pinterest is much more than the latest and greatest “hot” new social network. Because of it’s visual nature, I believe that this upstart social network reflects the next generation of socially networked communication. In the current and coming stages of the evolution of the Web’s social revolution, the written word is no longer sufficient.

In case you haven’t tried it yet, Pinterest is essentially an online vision board. It lets people “pin” images that they find inspiring, useful or beautiful and then share their collections of images—called “Boards”—with others. When people “re-pin” the images, they are essentially “retweeting” or sharing visual communications in a state-of-the-art social media style.

This naturally compliments the ways that video and photo sharing have become majorly important. In fact, the array of visual communication innovation that we are seeing right now is indicative of the dawn of a new age. The web has quickly become a more dynamic visual medium. Text and hyperlinks were a foundation, but only a beginning. And we are still in the early stages.

Let’s Get Visual!

This trend isn’t new, but it does make a big difference. For example, Facebook power users know that when you share pictures, not just text updates, it fuels increased engagement in a big way. In other words, you get more “Likes” and comments when there’s a visual component to what you post.

Elsewhere, Tumblr has extended the Twitter-powered popularity of micro-blogging in a much more visual direction, and the popularity of using Instagram to share and talk about photographs is also surging (and is poised for major new expansion when the Android version of the Instagram app is released soon). ReadWriteWeb even reminds us that it is this mobile-phone-powered digital photography trend that slew the former photo corporate dragon: Death by Smartphone: How Mobile Photography Helped Kill Kodak.”

And then there’s YouTube which recently announced that 24 hours of video is uploaded to their site every twenty-four seconds. The video visual media explosion is so dramatic that YouTube itself produced this quick little 45-second video in an attempt to make its mind-boggling growth comprehendible:

If doesn’t clarify this explosion for you, Time Magazine recently ran an article, The Beast with a Billion Eyes, which characterizes YouTube as “the most rapidly growing force in human history.”

Blogger/consultant/author Jay Baer  says: 

“This is the year that photos challenge writing as the lingua franca of the social webIf you’re not taking and posting pictures to dedicated photo networks and cross-posting (when appropriate) to Twitter and Facebook, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your network and see the world through the eyes (or cell phone cameras) of thousands of new friends.”

The fact that the verb “pinning” has been showing up in conversations that aren’t even specific to Pinterest is a huge testament to the fact that people are captivated. If you think about how many times a day the verb to “google” is used to mean “search,” you can see that we’re on to something.

Why Is This Important for Business?

According to the Wall Street Journal, traffic to the Pinterest website has grown tenfold over the past six months. In January, the number of visitors on Pinterest was already almost a third of that on Twitter.

But Pinterest’s impact of web traffic may be even greater than Twitter’s. Based on a recent study conducted by Sharaholic, Pinterest drove more referral traffic to sites in January than Google+ (with 100 million users!), Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn and MySpace all combined. Those are big-time numbers for the new kid on the block.

But, is there really room for another player in the social media VIP room? New York Times technology columnist David Pogue in his review, A Scrapbook on the Web Catches Fire, gives three good reasons why there definitely is:

  1. It’s clean. No ads, no pop ups, no blinking anything. It’s a pure and relatively simple rest for the eyes.
  2. It’s personal. Broadcasting isn’t the focus, rather your own interests take center stage in an authentic way.
  3. It’s humble. Pinterest Boards are about beauty, inspiration, information, passion, not self-absorbtion. It’s not, “Look at how great I am!” It’s, “Isn’t this GREAT!”

The blogger Beth Hayden sums it up well when she says Pinterest can  “…start making your social media strategy more beautiful, one little pin at a time.” When you add to this the fact that the early research seems to show that it will also make your social media marketing more engaging; and, when done appropriately, it will also help connect you to your constituencies at a deeper level: What’s not to like?

——

Our Other Pinterest Post:

Luscious Links to Unlock Pinterest: Free Resources Show How to Pin Your Marketing

Your Social Media Future: It’s Time to Say YES.

I continue to be amazed by how many professional people still resist social media marketing. In fact, this seems to be one of the main reasons that participants find so much value in my workshop, “Mastering the Social Media Marketing Mix.”

The US “premiere” of this workshop will be in San Francisco, next Wednesday, October 12th. The producer, Linda Kosut just sent out an email announcement to her list with the headline, “Social Media IS Our Future” including a commentary about how she personally resisted this idea for a long time.

social media marketing workshop in Auckland, NZ

"Social Media Marketing Mix" workshop in NZ

When I was in New Zealand, Mark Lowndes of the law firm Lowndes Associates described his experience this way:

“A year ago I was certain social media had no relevance to our commercial law firm.  Today I am convinced I was wrong. Social media will be an increasingly important part of our interaction with our clients and the business community at large. As with many businesses, I now believe there is no option but to learn how to engage effectively using social media.”
— Mark Lowndes, Lowndes Associates

When I speak about how important I think it is for companies and professionals of every variety to engage in social media marketing, I compare it to the ’80’s when I used to tell business audiences that email was as important as their toll free phone line. (Yes, amazing but true, not everyone recognized email at that point as an important customer service and/or sales communications channel.) I told these business people that they have to respond to their customers, and your customers have the right to communicate via any communication “channel” they want to use.

Now, your customers are “calling” you via social media. Of course, I think you should be pro-active in this new arena. But, for openers, if your toll free phone line was ringing, or you were getting email from a prospective customer, you would answer, wouldn’t you? Of course you would. Well, if you’re not engaged in social media marketing yet, please consider this your social media marketing “call.”

And, here’s a real invitation: If you are in the SF Bay Area, please do not miss the chance to experience the whole 3-hour presentation of “Mastering the Social Media Marketing Mix” at Ft. Mason, Wednesday, October 12th, 6:30 to 9:30pm. Frankly, the $99 registration fee is a remarkable value. My four-week online version of this workshop which will be announced shortly is expected to cost $397.

So this San Francisco live presentation, to a small interactive group offers great value. It will also deliver great inspiration that will motivate real productivity. And there will be tons of great information. I promise all of this, and I hope to see you there. Please click here to register and/or for more information. Thanks!

My 2nd 2011 Social Media Speaking, Workshop Tour of New Zealand Will Energize With Authenticity

I can hardly believe that I’m taking off (“leaving on a jet plane”) this weekend for my second 2011 “tour” speaking and leading workshops throughout New Zealand.

I am amazed and delighted that my April, 2011 NZ speaking tour has led to a new batch of “return engagements.” Truthfully, I relish the opportunity to “turn on” business audiences to the remarkable communication opportunities of social media and Internet marketing, while also encouraging them to be proactive Net citizens who use the medium well through authenticity and leading with value in order to create meaningful relationships.

On this trip, in addition to at least three “In-House Workshops” and an academic presentation for Otago University, I will lead the public events linked below. Kiwi friends, I hope to see you there!

To get an idea of my MediaSense keynote event please check out this great 90-second promo video shot when I was in NZ last April. We will be doing an expanded version of MediaSense in Auckland on the 25th of August:

AUGUST 2011 NEW ZEALAND — PUBLIC EVENTS

Thursday, August 25th — Auckland
Breakfast panel for the Lowndes Associates Business Intelligence Series (now sold out!),
as well as a keynote speech & moderator for two panels at
MediaSense: Make Social Media Marketing Work for You
(click for more info about the impressive line up of speakers & registration details)

Friday, August 26th — Hawkes Bay
Exclusive Half-Day “Social Media Mix” Workshop
(click for online description document)

Tuesday, August 30th — Wellington
Half-Day “Social Media Mix” Workshop sponsored by SmartNet
(click for description and registration)

Please “stay tuned” by subscribing above. I hope to post more from the road. Or use the Twitter or Facebook links above to get updates. Thanks!

Social Media Makes the Old New Again: “If You Don’t Have Something Good to Say…”

A recent viewing of a Yahoo! video of Seth Godin reminded me that the social media “sea change” is much more than an incremental shift. It is literally a game changer. (FYI, this was also the subject of my latest TheTVNews.tv video commentary.)

It’s no wonder that so many people are either being diverted by “get rich quick” scam artists or trying to stuff social media strategies into some kind of  “same-ole-media box.”

In order to make sure that your social media marketing time is well spent, here are some provocative questions inspired by some respectable authorities that I hope will help you approach your social media marketing in a meaningful, satisfying and successful manner. After all, A Billion Dollars Isn’t Cool. You Know What’s Cool? Basic Human Decency :

  1. What’s the Difference between the Engagement Game and Actually Being Engaging?
    The Difference Between Engaged and Engaging” — a blog post by Danny Brown
  2. Why are Facebook “Fans” and YouTube Video Views a Meaningless Statistic?
    AdAge: “Sorry, but Counting Facebook ‘Fans’ or Video Views Won’t Help Your Brand
  3. What’s Wrong with Us? Are We Lazy or What?
    Social Media Fatique” — a blog post by Chris Brogan

Creating meaningful social media means moving beyond this “Social Media Fatigue.” And, it’s not going to happen unless we, as Brogan says, take the opportunity “to make something interesting and worthwhile, to be helpful, to empower others, to encourage and inspire others.” (In an earlier blog post, I called this “Leading with Value.”)

As our grandmothers used to say, “If you don’t have something GOOD to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Bottom line, real relationship building—which is what social media marketing is (or should be) all about—comes down to communicating your “basic human decency.” Now that’s “really cool.”