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Good Samaritan Award

good samaritan awardI was notified today that I am a recipient of the Good Samaritan Award! I have always been very private about my philanthropy, and usually opt for smaller causes or individuals over large charity organizations. As many of you know, I was the chief social media coach on Fundrazr and had the privilege of coaching many charity fund raising efforts.  It is an honor to have been nominated and I was blown away to be the recipient of the Good Samaritan Award. I will continue to quietly pursue my charity work and coach non-profits to help them get the exposure they need.

Thank you!

 

Tweaking Your Twitter Profile For Maximum Impact

Image courtesy of photos.com

Do you feel like you’re losing the Twitter race? Are you not growing your following as quickly as you’d hoped? With over 200 million fellow earthlings actively using this extremely popular social media tool, you need to make sure that you stand out from the rest of the tweeting crowd. And one easy way to attract followers and keep them coming back for more is to create a smashing profile.

Here are a few tips to help you maximize the impact that your profile has on prospective followers.

1. Profile Pic

When you put your cleverly crafted witticisms out there into cyberspace, you want people to know–and remember–that they came from you. That is why it is important to have a profile picture that is easily recognizable. If you are tweeting on behalf of your company, you may want to use your logo. If not, select a high quality photo that you use across your social media profile accounts. And, ensure that your photo translates well into a thumbnail.

2. Profile Info

You want a clever profile that reflects your unique personality, but make sure that it includes a few valuable tidbits of information including a one line blurb about yourself or your business. You also need to provide a link to your webpage, a way to contact you, and your location. And clarify what you hope to accomplish through your Tweets with a call-to-action such as “follow me for the latest automotive news.”

3. Pretty Profile

If you want to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack, you need to steer away from preset designs. Followers who demand original content will look for original design–and that means a flashy background, sidebar, and header.

  • For the background, choose a quality image that suits you or your company’s unique flavor. It must be less than 2 MB, preferably using a PNG format and centered. Small images can also be tiled.
  • Your sidebar should contain your company logo or personal photo with your contact information.
  • The header image should be dark enough to allow text to show up and be legible.

4. Follow and be followed

In order to achieve popularity, you need to be generous with other Twitter users. Follow people that tweet on topics that interest you. Retweet things that tickle your funny bone or make you say “a-ha.” Avoid, however, following too many people or you will find yourself bogged down in tweets.

5. Don’t become mechanical

When life gets busy, you may be tempted to schedule automatic tweets. There’s nothing wrong with doing this once in a while, but it should never become standard practice. If you want to attract and hold an audience, you need to maintain your friendly and personal tone. Automatic tweets detract from this and can make your tweets sound cold and detached. Remember, tweeting is a form of conversation–not a mode of sharing generic newsletters.

6. Keep your eye on the trends

If you want your tweets to be relevant and attract a large audience, monitor the trends list for interesting topics. If everyone is talking about a subject, it must be of interest in the here and now–making it the perfect topic to attract and maintain followers. Make sure, however, that you are not simply regurgitating stale info or talking about something just for the sake of talking. You need to have something new to offer the discussion.

By following a few handy profile-enhancing tips, you can attract new followers and grow your Twitter audience. Yes, you can stand out in the crowd of tweeting earthlings. All 200 million of them.

What techniques have you used to create an attention-grabbing Twitter profile?

Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer and avid blogger. She has written on a multitude of topics including social media marketing, online reputation management, and blogging tools. You can follow her at The Embiggens Project.

Language Translation Services in Social Media

Social Media has taken the world by storm. More than a fad, social media has become a wholly new way to communicate – more immediate than old-fashioned letters, more passive than telephonic communication, persistent and durable. Whether you’re an individual or a business, being a part of a social network is essential to being a part of the world.

Of course, as an individual you can always choose to wall yourself off and refuse to take part in social networks, either for a ‘vacation’ or permanently. As a business, today, you have little choice; there are a billion people with Facebook accounts. Your customers are on social networks – and very likely in another country.

No Borders

It might seem to the casual English-speaking Internet user that the world speaks English, and that might give the impression that you can conduct your social media marketing in that language and be effective. To an extent, you can – the English-speaking market is very large, and even outside of it a number of people understand English well enough. But if you exclude other languages, you are leaving a huge number of potential customers on the table. Not only do you need to investigate translating your social marketing, you need to investigate which social networks people are using in your target countries.

Two Simple Rules

Here are two basic rules for your social media, whether you use it as a marketing tool or simply as a way to stay in touch with your customers and potential customers:

 

It’s Personal. Social media is all about making a connection. People are looking for a real, human personality to interact with, not a machine spitting out advertising slogans, or an auto response script. It’s best to have someone actually managing your social media, responding to things in a personal way. On the same note, if you opt to conduct social media campaigns in different languages, do not, under any circumstances, simply run your tweets and posts through an automated translation service. Everyone will know at a glance that the stilted, personality-free posts were machined, and will ignore them.

 

It’s Local. Don’t assume you can have a single Facebook and Twitter account and be done with it. Not only do people use their local language versions of these tools in their home countries – meaning you should have separate accounts for different locations, using the appropriate languages – but they often use region-specific services. They may not use Facebook at all! Do some research and make sure you know which social media service actually reaches the populations you’re trying to connect with. Then hire a professional translator or translation service to make sure your posts will find a warm reception.

 

If you keep these two basic rules in mind, your social media efforts will not be in vain. Remember, social media is about people connecting with people: Don’t try to use a machine for your end of that connection!


Philip is a guest blogger who blogs on behalf of One Hour Translation, a professional translation firm that specialises in website translation services. To know more please visit their website.

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Google Plus SEO: Engagement

SEO for social networks is not the same as SEO for your website or blog. A large component is the social element and Google Plus is no different. Not only do you need to optimize your profile, link your website and optimize your posts, but you also need to talk to people.

Sharing your Posts

When you write a post, make sure that you are sharing it to the public. You have a choice of what circles and with whom you want to share your content. You can make it as limited or open as you would like. But if you want people you don’t yet know to access your content you need to make sure it is publicly available. You do this by selecting “public” when you select your circles.

By making your posts public, not only will people be able to find you in searches but when they go to your profile they will be able to see what you have posted. Many people like to “browse” profiles before they circle someone. Think of this as your Macy’s window and they are window shopping.

Respond Back!

So many people ignore the people who engage with them. This is bad. If you want to grow your network, your exposure and improve your SEO you need to engage back. If someone pluses your post, add them to your circles. If someone comments on your post, respond back…and add them to your circles.

Tag People

A great way to initiate conversation with someone is to tag them in a post. You do this by typing + and then their name (which will auto-populate when you start typing). This creates a tag, or linked text, in your post. Doing this also gives a notification to that person that they were tagged.

This is a great way to start conversation or let someone know that you are talking about them, or their content.

Comment

Comment on other peoples posts. It really is that simple. Stop only looking at what you are putting out there and start looking at what other people are sharing. If you post thoughtful comments on other peoples posts you might make a new contact, create a conversation or debate. You will all be introducing yourself to all their followers who saw that post, because when they see the post they will now see your comment. If it is good they may circle you or look at your shared posts.

Circle People

Circling people is one of the easiest and fastest ways to grow your network. Go out and find people in your interest area. Find people you might want to talk to. Add them to your circle and start engaging with their content. Many people will circle you back just because you circled them.

Finding Content

Finding people can best be done by finding content. You do this through G+’s real time search. Type in a search term and your results will stream in real time what people are currently posting. You can keep this search list auto-refreshing or pause it for easier reading. This is a great opportunity to comment on people posts and find people to add to your circles.

All of these things will help boost your overall SEO. Google+ will rank you higher in their internal search engine, getting you more exposure, and thus helping your overall SEO.

Google Plus SEO: Social Snippets (SERP)

Google Plus Collage

An interesting image is not just important for your blog post but important for you SERP.

The most important part of SEO optimizing your Google Plus posts is making sure your content is easy to share. Your social snippet is integral for making your content easy to share. A snippet is also known as a SERP, or search engine results page. This is the description that Google associates with your page. So your SERP is the summary description that people see in a search engine that helps them determine if they want to click on your link or not. In Google+ the snippet is what helps people determine if they want to read your post.Having a strong snippet can help determine if people read, comment or plus your post.

How to optimize your SERP

So now you are likely thinking, yes this is something I need to do! But how? Thankfully for blog writers there are a number of easy plugins you can use. I use Scribe SEO to optimize my blog posts. This helps me with the content, keyword generation, tags and my SERP. I have heard good things about All in One SEO and WordPress by YELP. Though, I have only used Scribe as it works well for me and I see no reason to switch.

If you need to optimize a website you will need to go into the html code. If you are not comfortable or familiar with this, then ask a web designer to do it for you.

In your html you will need to optimize your “Meta Description”, this is what sets your SERP:

<head> <meta name="description" content="This is an example of a meta description. This will often show up in search results."> </head> 

Your meta description is where search engines will pull your snippet from. This is on every page of your website…and yes you want to optimize ever meta description.

Images Matter

We are all visual people. Pictures say a thousand words. Ok, sure both of these cliche statements are true. So what does that have to do with SEO? Well, this is another important element of your optimization. If you want people to read your post you want to make it as attractive as possible. So using an image that helps captivate people’s attention is important.

Plus, when you add an image to you blog post not only does is make it more attractive to the reader, it creates another SEO opportunity. You can optimize your image information, so when people do image searches they might come across your post.

 

So not only is it important to make sure you optimize your Google+ but you want to make sure that if you are sharing content from your website that it is optimized as well. The quality of your snippet greatly influences views, comments, pluses and sharing.

In-House Social Media Teams on the Rise

I don’t need to tell anyone here about the rise of social media and how it has been injected into the DNA of doing business in the 21st century. Nevertheless, it can be an eye-opening experience to watch just how much social media is catching on.

It’s no secret that social media has real effects and results for businesses that do it right; more and more companies are seeing the light. The most recent trend in businesses of all sizes is hiring in-house social media teams to handle brand management, customer engagement and digital marketing.

Savvy marketers have long praised the growth and efficacy of social media on the whole. Facebook has ballooned to more than 800 million users in the wake of its OpenGraph platform – the behind-the-scenes protocol that allows integration with Spotify, news sites, and all that other cool stuff. Perhaps it is this continued success for Facebook that led to its recent and long-awaited IPO.

More companies across the board are following the lead and cultivating in-house teams dedicated to social media. They generally operate within the realm of a marketing department, though their tasks are more dedicated solely to social media.

The big question is how this will affect firms that have helped companies with social media strategy up to this point.

The importance of business-suited social media is also evident in the backlash Google+ received when users learned they could not create business pages – an innovation Facebook pioneered – that have since become standard procedure for any real social sharing network. YouTube’s announcement of brand channels was welcomed with ringing bells and banging drums by enterprise businesses.

More often than not, a business will enter into a social media campaign believing there are fans of their brand out there waiting to have a place to congregate and spill their guts about just how much they love a company. What we’ve seen is that, though that is sometimes the case, most people are waiting for a tweet offering free coffee or a grocery coupon. “Liking” a brand on Facebook is more indicative of an interest to receive something for nothing than it is a genuine curiosity about a brand.

Rather than be pulled into these campaigns by outside marketing firms or agencies, businesses have elected to develop their own in-house teams that will take a perspective that emphasizes the companies’ strengths instead of just diving into social media because they read 100 blogs on the internet telling them it was the right thing to do.

These in-house teams are culled from freelance social media professionals or marketing gurus who have the wherewithal to understand what social platforms work for the business by which they are employed. Whereas some shoddy agencies have put companies that sell plumbing services to the residents of Muncie, Indiana on Twitter and Vimeo without any real reason, these in-house teams are being assembled with the mindset of the company taken into account; hopefully, these in-house teams will understand which of the many, many social platforms actually present an opportunity – and which should be ignored.

If this trend continues, social media marketing companies like Back At You will have to start leveraging their expertise in order to stay relevant. And the case may become harder to make as more experienced social media professionals are snatched up to work exclusively for big brands.

Local Luck: SEO Effects on Place

When you have a website for your business you want it to come up as number one in search results or as close to number one as possible. Additionally, you want your content not only to be search engine optimized but also relevant to your potential client.

An ideal way to accomplish this is by adding location data to your content. Specific local signals like your address and phone number can help you rank better with Google and Bing for local search queries.

Local marketers are becoming more aware that best practices demand that location information be included in their site content. Local searches on the Internet are the predominant way a consumer looks for a place of business. If your site’s content lacks location information you are doing yourself a huge disservice.

Perhaps you own a local pizza store that delivers and you are located in the Arden neighborhood of Sacramento, California. If your content only refers to you as a pizza place, your website will be returned with about a gazillion others in search results. If you add to your content that you are in Sacramento you will show up somewhere in the Sacramento results. But there is more than one city named Sacramento in the country. So adding the word “California” helps narrow down the results and your site will show up along with all other pizza places in Sacramento, CA. But if you put in your street address, and the neighborhood, you have increased the likelihood of showing up high in the local results. Adding a link to a map can earn you a higher return on Google, and don’t forget that using a free Google Places page is a great idea. Google Places is simply a free listing of a business giving location and phone numbers, along with customer reviews.

Let’s face it, the Yellow Pages is last century’s best method of location-based advertising. Today, local search is almost exclusively done on the Internet and accessed by computers and smartphones and even automotive systems such as OnStar.

But local businesses are not the only beneficiary of location optimization. Perhaps a person in California has to take a business trip to Chicago. This person has not been to Chicago before but wants to stay close to the business he is going to visit. He knows that his client is in the Chicago Loop. A smart Chicago hotel that is downtown will add the Loop to their address information. They might put their address with a tag line that says, “steps away from the Chicago Loop” with a map link. The marketing department – if they are really on the ball – will have included taking a Google Places page, too.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is much more than keywords. Smart companies use relevant photos, videos and other media to help their sites rank higher in search results. There are many companies that specialize in SEO work. Many of these companies are amazing in how they can artistically weave all the elements of SEO into a site while making the site more engaging.

 

 

Article Marketing; A Post-Mortem

What is Article Marketing?

I’d like to introduce a fellow named Matt Cutts. Matt is the head of Google’s Webspam, which makes him an expert at both identifying and eliminating any signs of article marketing. He defines article marketing as “…you’re writing an article and you try to include a link at the bottom and you’re hoping a bunch of other people put up copies or mirrors or duplicates of that article and that those links might flow through.”

Matt then adds a slight warning, “Typically the sorts of sites that just republish these articles are not the highest quality sites.”

Why are We Doing a Post-Mortem?

It’s time for a post-mortem on article marketing, because as a business strategy, article marketing simply doesn’t work anymore. An article posted to an article directory might eventually show up on a search engine like Google, or it might not. In any event, it definitely won’t be found on page one of the Google search results – if it’s found at all.

One reason that Search Engine Optimized (SEO) articles don’t see much daylight is that people just don’t enjoy reading them. At best, they are thinly disguised ads, and at worst they are a clumsy package of strung-together keywords and backlinks. These articles are generally never shared, Liked, plugged, or DIGGed (or DUG, perhaps?)

Despite this, sites that sell Yamaha piano keyboards and Kitchen Aid Mixers still send out poorly written articles in hopes of establishing strategically placed backlinks. It hasn’t occurred to some folks that whether they’re selling keyboards or posting reviews on retouching photoshop pictures, the article directories are not able to deliver either better Google rankings or more website traffic.

It might be too early for an autopsy on article marketing – it’s still wheezing slightly – but it’s as good as dead, and the causes of death are very easy to diagnose. All five of them are explained below.

Mortal Flaw #1: You Can’t Control Who Publishes Your Articles

The point of submitting an article to an article directory is to raise your website’s Google rankings for a particular keyword or keyword phrase. This will only work, of course if your articles are published on quality websites that Google trusts.

Unfortunately, once you’ve submitted your article, you have NO INPUT on where your article ends up. The kinds of websites that use article directories are not highly ranked in Google searches. The highly ranked sites have dedicated writers and exclusive content, so they don’t need to purchase low quality articles in hopes of filling up a page.

If you are hoping for the kind of strategically placed backlinks that lead to improved Google rankings, leave the directories out of your loop. You’ll need to retain control over who gets to publish your articles and where they are published.

Mortal Flaw #2: You Can’t Succeed By Posting Duplicate Content

Google became the world’s largest search engine for two basic reasons; it’s efficient and effective. That didn’t happen by accident.

Whenever a problem arose with the speed or efficiency of the algorithm, the folks at Google found a fix. Back in 2004, Google had a problem with duplicate content in their search results, and they fixed it by installing a duplicate content filter.

Since then, article marketers have invented and often sold new ways to distribute duplicate content to the masses via Google’s search results. Each new way was met with an updated spam filter, and so the cycle continues.

Unfortunately for the article marketers, this resulted in one of the world’s least effective marketing models;

  1. write an article and submit it to a directory
  2. notice an inconsequential improvement in Google ranking or site traffic
  3. notice your backlinks being systematically hunted down and vaporized
  4. write and submit another article

I have discussed the weaknesses of article marketing for several years now. Although a few marketers have made a bit of money with this strategy, most have not. What’s more, the amount of money made looks like chump change compared to the money which could have been generated by businesses working with guys like Matt Cutts rather than against them.

Mortal Flaw #3: You Can’t Succeed by Posting Duplicate Anchor Text, Either

I couldn’t have timed it better if I had tried.

I just got off the phone with someone who was wondering why his article marketing plan had failed so spectacularly.

This person was very annoyed because his website, which was supposed to rank well for the keyword phrase “Lasik eye surgery”, had just fallen from page 3 to page 30 in the Google rankings for that particular page.

Ouch. That must have hurt.

Eventually he explained that he had written several articles, inserted backlinks in these articles to his website, and then submitted them to 100 different article directories. In theory, this should have improved his Google rankings, not torpedoed them.

Then he mentioned that he had used the exact same phrase, “Lasik eye surgery”, as the backlink to his site, and he did this in all of his articles.

This practice is referred to as duplicate anchor text, and Google doesn’t care for it.

Consider this for a moment; if ten webmasters initiated backlinks to the same website at the same time, what are the chances that they would use the exact keyword phrase, “photo retouchers” for that backlink?

The chances are pretty poor..

The chances of a hundred different webmasters doing the same thing, then, would be about impossible.Matt Cutts and anyone who works for him would immediately recognize this anomaly as an amateurish attempt to manipulate Google’s algorithm, and deal with it appropriately.

In this case, the “appropriate” thing would be for Google to guarantee that the website in question is kicked to the curb and never sees a respectable ranking for that keyword phrase.

Mortal Flaw #4; You Can’t Succeed by Establishing a Business in a Bad Neighborhood

Web marketers recognize that certain sites can be caught in what is referred to as a bad neighborhood. Think of your neighborhood as being comprised of sites that you link to, and sites which link to you

In actual neighborhoods, when one piece of property becomes run down, the surrounding properties lose value as well. Strangely enough, the same thing can happen in a virtual neighborhood.

Matt Cutts explained this phenomenon recently by announcing that it was now possible that your website’s rankings will be negatively impacted by who was linking to you. This is not the result of some accidental function in the algorithm, by the way.

Google understands that one symptom of article marketing is a bunch of backlinks to low- or no-quality websites. Consequently, when they see a website with that symptom, they penalize it with a low or nonexistent ranking for that particular keyword.

Mortal Flaw #5: Google Doesn’t Want Article Marketing to Succeed.

Just this year, Google’s Panda update initiated some of the toughest non-defined standards yet with regards to how particular web pages were ranked, and this resulted in a flurry of reverse-engineering by outraged article marketers. In spite of this, I have been assured that “article marketing still works”.

That line is becoming harder and harder to believe, particularly since all of the strategies intended to keep article marketing “working” have been eviscerated by Google’s ever-evolving spam filters.

Anchor text stuffing, link farms, scraper sites, article spinning and link partnering have all hit their expiration dates, and The Next Big Scheme in article marketing is doomed to a similarly short life.

So, why do article marketers insist on prolonging this expensive form of life support?

A ridiculous amount of time and resources have been spent trying to outwit Matt Cutts and his small platoon of spam killers. All of those attempts, by the way, were quickly rebuffed. Just think about the amount of wealth that could have generated if those resources were spent working with, rather than against, Google’s Webspam department.

Matt Cutts was asked “…if he recommends article article marketing as an SEO strategy?” His reply was almost funny; “…so if I had to make a prophecy or forecast about how Google feels or how search engines feel about them in general, the trend that I am hearing and the sort of complaints that I am hearing are that people are not huge fans of article marketing and don’t view it as an incredible value add in terms of the content that gets added to the web.

Think for a moment about the irony in the statement, “So if I had to make a prophecy or forecast…”

Matt is tasked with ensuring that neither duplicate content nor spun articles show up in any Google ranking resuts. He doesn’t need to guess; he already knows how Google feels about article marketing in all it’s forms.

Google would like article marketing to die a very quick death, and they’re paying Matt Cutts to devise the death blow.

Naturally, Matt could possibly be delivering Google-inspired propaganda with his veiled threats about article marketing. On the other hand, when did you last have to access the second page of your Google rankings to find the information you were looking for?

Simply put, article marketing makes for an inefficient search engine. Google has no tolerance for the inefficiencies brought on by article marketing, therefore it will be squashed whenever possible.

Is Article Marketing Dead Yet?

If article marketing were a human being, we would be making it comfortable and gathering the family for final goodbyes. However, article marketing is simply a business tool which has become completely ineffective, and an ineffective business tool is as good as dead.

If you are looking for an effective and sustainable marketing strategy for your business, it’s time to move on.

As always, your comments are appreciated.

About James

James Martell is well known as an affiliate marketing specialist in outsourcing and SEO. He is also a speaker and does weekly podcasts and affiliate marketing trainings. James is host of the Affiliate Buzz podcast on WebmasterRadio.FM (the first ever and longest running podcast about the affiliate industry), and creator of the Affiliate Marketers SUPER BootCamp where he teaches others how to make money with affiliate marketing. He lives in White Rock BC, a seaside suburb of Vancouver on west coast of Canada with his wife, Arlene.

Kim Kardashian Crowdsurfs Twitter as a Business Strategy

Kim Kardashian in a big feathery dressLast week I was drinking my morning coffee when I saw a brief interview on the Today Show with Kim Kardashian.  Matt Lauer was talking to her about her personal brand-based empire. Though they did not focus on it, Kim shared that she often crowdsurfed Twitter to make both personal and business decisions.

In case you are not sure who Kim Kardashian is, she is the star of the reality TV show “Keeping up with the Kardashians”.  If that didn’t answer your question (I know it didn’t for me), she is the daughter of Kris and Robert Kardashian. Her father, Robert, is a prominent defense attorney.  Her parents divorced and later her mom married Olympic Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner.  She has 9 siblings; 3 from her mom, 4 from Bruce and 2 from Bruce and her mom.  Her family dynamic contributed to getting the reality show. But Kim is a PR maven. Like Paris Hilton, she is another person who has managed to become famous just for being famous.

Though Kim did not rely on her fame as a basis of success, she has created a very successful business. Starting off as a fashion stylist, she and her sister opened up a clothing store called DAS. She has also launched that into a high end fashion line in conjunction with fashion house Bebe; an Armenian-inspired jewelry line;  a shoe company (shoedazzle.com); a fitness DVD, and most recently her own brand of perfume.

In the interview, Kim mentioned that she is often indecisive and will ask her Twitter followers for their opinion, whether it be about what color nail polish she should use or design concepts for the bottle for her new perfume.  She said that involving her followers made her more accessible. It allows them to relate to her more easily and feel like they are a part of what she is doing.

This is the key. Crowdsurfing is great for gathering opinions and thoughts, but it is also an excellent way to allow people to feel that they are playing a role in your decisions.  It keeps your audience involved and turns them into active participants. However, if you ask your followers for their thoughts and opinions and then completely ignore them, you will have accomplished the opposite of what you set out to do. If you are not actually interested in people’s opinions, then don’t ask.

Below is the short video interview from the Today Show – enjoy.

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