In this installment of expert interviews, we had the chance to discuss the impact social media has had on the business world with Aaron Magness, the Brand Marketing and Business Development Director of Zappos.com Inc. Aaron has been a part of the Zappos Family since 2008, and is also a member of the Zappos Insights team. Zappos Insights was developed when Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com Inc, decided to let the rest of the world in on not only “what” they did, but “how” they did business. Together the team developed training programs to mentor companies and individuals on how to achieve the business environment they desire. The Zappos Family prides themselves on their core values, “anything worth doing is worth doing with WOW.” Aaron uses his expertise in marketing, PR, social media and business development to deliver WOW.
Elise Redlin-Cook: Hi Aaron! You are very active in the Twitter world, how has Twitter affected you?
Aaron Magness: Twitter has become a tool that I benefit from personally and in the business world. It has allowed Zappos to build more personal connections with people. Tony Hsieh, our CEO, developed a philosophy that tweeting has helped him grow and become a happier person.
By incorporating these four elements into his tweets, he has been able to deliver happiness to his customers and employees:
Elise: What kind of impact does Twitter have on Zappos?
Aaron: Twitter does a great job of extending our communications strategy. We’re able to form authentic relationships with our customers to service their needs.
Elise: Great point! Twitter definitely allows businesses to develop relationships with customers that were nearly impossible before. However, it is constantly evolving. How do you see Twitter and the way people use it changing in the future?
Aaron: This may not pertain exclusively to Twitter, but the evolution of communication and openness continues. Individuals will continue to become more open and transparent with those around them. Brands will be able to communicate directly with individuals and form personal connections.
Elise: How important do you think it is for companies to engage with customers using social media?
Aaron: It’s extremely important for companies to engage with customers. Period. How they do that may change depending on the industry and customer base. We need to understand that Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc are all just tools we can use to form personal connections. They should all be seen as extensions of actual conversations.
Elise: Are there any social-media-specific guidelines in place?
Aaron: Our entire policy is summed up in two sentences:
As Aaron has pointed out, it’s clear that social media sites, like Twitter, are constantly evolving to benefit businesses by creating a direct communication to their customers. Learn more about “Twitter Tactics for Business” in our recent webinar and tell us in the comments below what type of impact has social media had on your business?
Content marketing is still forming at a rapid pace. Most struggle to find not only the time to integrate content marketing into their current traditional and online marketing plans, but struggle to figure out how. Creating your own content strategy can be a confusing endeavor. This workshop will help you make it happen!
Like no other event currently available in the internet marketing industry, the workshop will cover eight critical steps of content marketing: developing a strategy, conducting market and keyword research, content development, optimization, promotion, distribution and success measurement. With professional curriculum and a hands-on style format, students will learn to create, implement and sustain a successful content marketing program for their organization.
Each student will be provided with a workbook to follow along and participate in exercises. Following completion of the course, each student will be given a free copy of Arnie Kuenn’s upcoming book, free copies of five how-to guides including; Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Keyword Research and Local Search Marketing, plus several concrete ideas for content for his/her businesses and a workbook filled with exercises, resources and free tools!
The Content Marketing Workshop will take place at Dynamic Worldwide in Tempe, AZ from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 7. Don’t worry, we’ll give you some breakfast, a couple of breaks and lunch!
Arnie Kuenn, president and founder or Vertical Measures and soon-to-be published author, has held executive positions in the world of new technologies and marketing for more than 20 years. Kuenn served on the 2008 Arizona Super Bowl Marketing Committee and is the founder and president of the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association (AZIMA). Arnie has presented at SMX Advanced, AMA Phoenix, Online Marketing Summit, Social Media AZ, EduRG, ASU Cronkite School of Journalism and many online webinars.
If you own a website, you are a publisher. Organizations (B2B and B2C) need to provide content that their audience will enjoy and portraits them as the expert. Whether you are a content strategist yourself or need a roadmap to get started, this workshop will serve as your guide.
Taking place at Dynamic Worldwide in Tempe, AZ, one can get to the workshop via train, plane or automobile! And, if you’re really looking for a workout and to save a tree, bike or walk. There are plenty of nearby hotels in case you’re from out of town.
While there are tons of SEO optimization methods that can be implemented for websites, here are the ones that are a must have for your business blog if you want it to rank well for keywords and be visited by those who come across it in search results.
Be sure to include an up to 60 character title tag (<TITLE>Your Page Title</TITLE>) for not only your blog’s homepage, but for each and every post that includes your post’s main keywords.
This is important not just for SEO, but also for social media sharing of your post, as the post’s title is generally what gets tweeted, shared on Facebook walls, bookmarked, etc.
So make those 60 characters count, as that will be the first impression of your post in search results and on social networks.
Though it is often debated about in terms of whether it is still important, I still always suggest that the blog’s homepage as well as individual posts have a great 160 character meta description (<meta name=”description” content=”Your page’s awesome description that makes people want to click on it to read more.” />).
This is usually the description that will show up in search results as well as the description for your post when shared via Facebook and social bookmarking networks. It should, like the title tag, include your post’s main keywords and should be written as a sentence – the description should not be just a 170 character stuffing of keywords.
Self-Hosted WordPress Tip: To be able to enter your Title and Meta Description for each post, you need to have a SEO friendly WordPress theme such as Thesis or plugins such as the Platinum SEO Pack or All in One SEO Pack. Then just look for the Title and Description fields when you are writing and editing your blog post.
Along with the TITLE tag, the blog post URL should be optimized with your post’s main keywords to help boost them in search results.
As you can see from the below results for our link building expert interview series, the keywords that were searched for are bolded in both the title and blog URL which means the URL is noticed by Google. It also makes the listings stand out even more.
Self-Hosted WordPress Tip: Be sure when you start out your blog that you change the Permalinks (in your Admin Dashboard under the Settings) to include the post name using /%postname%/ in the custom structure.
You can learn more about custom structure tags for your blog post URL’s in the WordPress Codex.
Also, you can use the SEO Slugs plugin to automatically remove a, an, the and other unimportant words from your post’s URL which will leave only the keyword rich words behind.
Images can be an important part of your blog post, as many people will be attracted to a post simply because of the image. It can also help you demonstrate your topic more thoroughly as well as break up the text in a post to make it easier to read.
When you add images to your post (<IMG SRC=”your-keyword-image.jpg” ALT=”Your Keyword Image Description” TITLE=”Your Keyword Image Description” />), there are three ways you can boost your SEO optimization including:
The combination of the above elements will help your post images rank in Google Image Results…
As well as additional areas of Google search, such as the news results, which will also help the result stand out from the others no matter where it ends up in the top 10 listings…
How important are your header tags (<H2>Keyword Rich Heading</H2> and <H3>Keyword Rich Heading</H3>)? First of all, they make your article easier to read by breaking the content up into easily scannable sections.
They also can help your post rank for specific keyword phrases and terms within search results.
As you can see from the above search result based on the header in this post, you also need to make sure the first bit of text after the header supports the keywords mentioned to get readers to want to click on the post to learn more.
These are some of the top optimization elements that I have seen lead to better search engine results positioning. What are some elements you include in your blog posts to ensure better rankings?
In this installment of expert interviews we had the chance to speak with Ken McGaffin, Chief Marketing Officer at Wordtracker, a company that helps website owners and search engine marketers identify relevant keywords and phrases for their business. Ken has worked in various industries and is an experienced internet marketing consultant. He enjoys giving advice on the industry with his frequent (and free!) webinars and has written down all of his great link building strategies in his e-book Wordtracker Masterclass: Link Building. As a prominent figure in the link building trade, he knows what it takes to be successful.
Elise Redlin-Cook: How has link building changed since you first got into the industry?
Ken McGaffin: I first got into link building around 1998, so there have been huge changes in the industry since then. At that time reciprocal linking was all the rage, and the idea of getting quality one-way links was seen as a little bit strange. Now of course it’s essential. There are a few major changes though, that have occurred over the years that I find to be very important today.
First of all, conversion matters. Links are not just for SEO purposes anymore, but for bringing in traffic which hopefully will convert into sales. That for me, is the main reason people should put effort into link building. I believe that people follow links like cars follow road signs, to get well-placed. If you have relevant links, then you should have no problem getting a stream of well-qualified traffic to your site, and increasing the likelihood of someone buying your product or service.
The rise of blogging has also created many link-building opportunities. In every industry sector, you now have a core of top bloggers that hold a lot of weight and power. Therefore, one of the first steps I’d suggest is to find these top bloggers and start building relationships with them. Once these relationships are established you then have the ability to create a whole network of potential links.
I think that link building is a fundamentally a creative process. I personally try to concentrate on “getting links without asking.” That is creating content that is so good, engaging, and useful, that people want to link to it, and want to be amongst the first to do so.
In addition, the rise of social media has also provided fantastic linking opportunities. Social media allows for a more personal way of getting in touch directly with link prospects, and making the whole job of link building much more focused and a lot easier to do.
Finally, there is a new emphasis on online public relations today. For me, I think there are better ways that you can generate high-quality links without having to ask for them. By investing your time and effort into creating great products and content you can then use various tried and trusted public relations techniques to get people to link to you.
Elise: As you mentioned, everyone talks about the importance of being personal in link requests. How do you accomplish that?
Ken: There is no other way to do it than to get personal! Direct contact with individuals is essential if you want to make a pitch. Remember it is people who make links, not websites, so you’ve got to find the person behind the site, the person who will actually write the link for you, and find out all you can about them BEFORE you make a link request.
Social media is such a useful tool in finding out about people. In the past we had to make “cold call” link requests, but now with social media, it has made cold calling a thing of the past.
Elise: So Ken, can you tell us a story about a time you acquired a link in a creative manner.
Ken: I think that link building is a fundamentally a creative process. I personally try to concentrate on “getting links without asking.” That is creating content that is so good, engaging, and useful, that people want to link to it, and want to be amongst the first to do so. So, you will find my bookshelves are packed with books on creativity, advertising, public relations case studies, and storytelling.
Having said that, one time I used storytelling to create a free 10,000 word e-book on keyword research with contributions from nine SEO experts. How I did it was that first I created a fictional story about Susan Webster, an entrepreneur who wanted to sell vegetarian dog food online. It was around 850 words and I tried to make it as compelling as possible. I then sent the story to around twenty SEO experts, and asked them what their advice to Susan would be. Nine of the experts responded with articles of around 1,000 words each. With the help of their responses, we created the e-book based on their answers and gave each of them a nice link to their sites. The end result was a very useful book for our potential customers and of course, many, many links to our site.
That was back in 2005, and that guide continues to bring us traffic and give us links.
Elise: Wow! What a great example. Clearly thinking outside of the box can really pay off. So, knowing where link building has come from to where the industry is now, what would you say are the biggest challenges in link building today?
Ken: There are many challenges today for the dedicated link builder. I think the biggest challenges would be trying to create great content that people want to link to. You’ve got to put the time and effort into finding quality link prospects and separate them from all the others.
Unfortunately, while those quality link prospects are going to be most valuable to you, they are also going to be amongst the most difficult to get. But it’s not just finding the right links it’s also about having good content. Top quality content is essential for effective link building. Yet it’s very hard to persuade clients to invest in creating it. Just trying to use the power of persuasion, on top of quality content and links, is a big challenge in and of itself.
Elise: Indeed it is. Do you have any insights to the industry that you would like to share with a newcomer to the field?
Ken: Think strategically about link building. It’s a difficult, but a fantastically exciting area to be in. There is a danger of being sucked into the details of things that can overwhelm you, but you’ll make yourself so busy that you haven’t time to think about them. So my advice would be to take a step back and learn what strategy is all about, understand what objectives really are and apply their discipline to your work (read anything by Peter F. Drucker). Do that and you’ll stand head and shoulders above every other newbie.
It’s clear that the link building world changes daily, but keeping a focus and utilizing the right tools can make all the difference! Do you have any tips to add?
One of the first steps to local search marketing is to add and claim your listing in Google Places. This process is fairly simple and you can add your business listing, but occasionally you’ll run into some roadblocks that can make it a little more difficult. One of these roadblocks might be that your listing is already claimed and titled as an “owner verified listing.” If you’re the business owner and you have not had anything to do with Google Places in the past this can be troubling, but there is really no need to worry as this can be corrected.
The first step you will want to do in this situation is verify that no one at your business has taken the initiative to claim the listing. If you’ve ask around and determined that the listing was not claimed by someone at your company and you do not already have an owner verified listing you will want to create one for your company.
Here are the general steps to follow to create an owner verified listing for your company:
It cannot be emphasized enough that you will want to be attentive to detail to ensure that all the information is correct, as the last thing you will want is to have duplicate listings for your business.
Now that you have the correct listing online, go the Google Places listing you want removed. Once you are there, you will then click on “edit this place” to report a problem.
This will bring up this screen:
Select the “Place has another listing” option and provide details in the comment area with the URL of the correct listing and your request to have the duplicate listing removed. You may have to repeat the report a problem if the duplicate listing is not resolved after a few weeks.
Alternatively, you can also utilize Google support for Places, which might address other issues you could be having in claiming your listing.
Good luck and happy listing!
Do you have a story or a tip to share for perfecting the process of creating a Google Places listing? If so, comment below!