Though I have read a plethora of information about social media marketing as have many in the Internet marketing industry, I would definitely recommend checking out this book. It is an extensive guide, from the basics to the ins and out of social media, to how social media fits into your company’s Internet marketing plan.
A theme of the book, and the part that I found most interesting, was the focus on the importance of conversations. Sometimes when thinking of social media as a business strategy, people may lose sight of what is truly at the core of it all, which is connecting with others.
Some key elements of the book regarding conversations:
”The conversation will happen with or without you.” People will be talking about your company or product whether you have a social media presence or not. It’s imperative to be active on social media sites to connect with the people who have positive and negative things to say about your business.
Don’t dwell on the negative. After researching what people are saying about your business on social media sites you may find there have been some negative sentiments. This scares people away from social media all the time, though social media can actually act as an avenue to talk with these and attempt to understand where they’re coming from.
There is no magic recipe for the perfect social media marketing plan. Every business is different no matter what niche it is in. Even from competitor to competitor there will be differences in policies and tactics. “Effective social media involves research, strategy, planning and measures,” Evans said. “The results of that research will vary for each company, so the most effective social media platforms and social media plans will vary, too.”
Pay attention to “return on conversation.” Measuring the success of social media marketing can be a difficult feat. Instead of focusing solely on ROI, Evans recommends taking return on conversation into account. Continuously monitor and engage in conversations and recognize how powerful online communities can be. Also, be sure to join the discussion across a number of social media sites, including niche communities.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and will continue to use it as a resource. If you have read the book, what were your favorite sections? If not, what resources (books, articles, blogs) do you refer to for social media marketing information?
As the local search industry continues to grow, so does the terminology! While there are certain terms and phrases that are standard across the industry, there are some that are less commonly used or have alternative terms. Below is a list that might help you navigate your way through the streets of local search and in the process provide a basic understanding of local search marketing. In most of the definitions here, since I just can’t help but get carried away when talking about local search, I have also given some tips on how to best utilize these features to help your local search rankings.
Category: When listing your business with Google Places especially, you will want to choose a category for your business. This is a very important factor in their algorithm. If you have not claimed your business on Google Places, it will choose a category for you from a set of approximately 2,000 default business types based on the North American Industry Classification System. Be sure to select the correct category for your business and up to 4 subcategories to be sure the search engines know what your business is all about.
Centroid: As determined by the local the search engines, the centroid is the very center of a neighborhood or metropolitan area. A business’ proximity to the centroid plays a role in where it ranks in the local search results; however there is debate on how important it is. In my opinion, I believe it matters more in competitive markets. For example, if there are 1,000 plumbers in San Diego and someone searches for “plumber, San Diego, CA” the businesses that are closer to the centroid and have nicely optimized listings are more likely to show up towards the top.
Citation: Citations are to local search optimization as links are to website search engine optimization. Citations are viewed by the local search engines as a listing of a business on a website, preferably with a matching address and phone number to that which is provide on the business website and on that search engine’s local listing. Ideally, you have your complete address and local phone number on your website, you have claimed your search engine listings, and you have matching listings on sites like Yelp, CitySearch and Internet Yellow Page sites. The search engines see these listings as verification and as votes for your business. This will help your rankings in the local search results.
Data Provider, Aggregator, IYP: Companies such as infoUSA, Localeze, and Superpages are major data providers, also known as data aggregators and Internet Yellow Pages. The search engines often crawl these sites to gather business data. These companies often have contracts with the search engines to provide this data. So, if you see that your business is already listed on the search engines, these sites are very likely where the search engine got your information. You will want to claim your listings to ensure all the information is correct.
Directory: A website that lists business contact information in an organized manner, typically in alphabetical order and/or by business type. Just as the search engines look to data providers and aggregators to gather information, they also crawl directories.
Geospecific search: When a user searches for a business or company with a geographic modifier such as a city, state or zip code. For example, “plumbers, San Diego, CA”.
Google 7-Pac: The 7 local listings that appear alongside a map at the top of a search engine result for a geospecific keyword. These results are determined by the search engine’s algorithm. If a particular neighborhood or metropolitan area does not have a large concentration of the type of business the user is searching for, Google might only show 3 results. Similarly, Yahoo and Bing have a certain number of results that will show up next their maps.
Local algorithm: Just as the search engines have an algorithm for the organic search results, they also have a specific formula that determines the ranking for business listings relevant to a particular geographic area. Various factors play a part in this algorithm, some carrying more weight than others.
Review: A customer’s summary of his/or experience with a particular business. Reviews cannot be controlled by the business owner. Reviews can be left on Google Places and on most other local search listing sites like Yelp, Foursquare and Gowalla. Business owners should pay attention to these reviews and use reviews as an opportunity to engage with customers. This touches on online reputation management.
This list covers the basic terminology that you will likely hear when you start talking to a local search professional. Knowing these terms will get you on your way to having a better understanding of local search. To continue your journey in learning about local search, check out our “Go Local or Go Home” webinar on the Vertical Measures webinars page.
In the next edition of our VM interview series, I sat down with Vertical Measures’ own IT administrator David Gould, who tells us about his long day at VM fixing the Internet, his artistic talents and what it’s like to work with two computer screens on his desk.
Michael Schwartz: Before we officially start this off, I need to begin with a story. One day last month the Internet broke down and rumor has it that after the rest of the staff went home following lunch, you stayed to fix it until after midnight. What in the world were you doing in the office by yourself for that long?
David Gould: The official story is that I was correcting an unexpected server issue; testing, installing, rebooting can take a long time. Off the record, I got the last season of Dexter on DVD and the office TV is much bigger than my home unit.
Michael: One of the reasons you won July Employee of the Month honors aside from your late night bringing back our Internet service has to be our new information database called EDWARD. How do you expect EDWARD to make life easier here at VM?
David: Because of the nature of our business, we work with a lot of information – clients, projects, websites, resources, affiliates, contributors. The goal for EDWARD is to tie together those disparate elements together in one place so there’s less time spent managing projects and data and more opportunities to develop our services.
Michael: There are also some rumors swirling through our office that you are actually the wittiest Vertical Measures staff member. Can you say something witty that would confirm or deny this assertion?
David: Sadly, no. I think humor and wit are like Michigan J. Frog from the old Looney Tunes cartoons. At unexpected moments you get dancing and a rousing rendition of “Hello My Baby,” but ask it to perform on cue and you just get a blankly staring frog. Right now, you’re getting the frog.
Michael: While working on a link worthy project for VM, we found out that you are actually a walking IMDB. Do you really know every movie known to man?
David: I love movies and shows. I don’t know think my knowledge is that encyclopedic, but I have a good memory for names and faces, so sometimes I’ll know the random actress from the random movie. You’d be surprised how much the ladies are dazzled by an off-the-cuff Bonnie Franklin reference.
Michael: When Arnie leaves the office on a trip for a few days, it’s VM tradition to sketch trip-themed drawings on his dry erase boards. What we have since figured out by this exhibition is that you are one of the few VM-ers with true artistic talent. Is art a passion of yours?
David: I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. As I got older that broadened into painting, and graphic and web design, but doodling was always a favorite. I was a cartoonist for ASU’s State Press in college. It’s a nice skill to have. Otherwise, your boss doesn’t usually let you sketch bears and squids in his office.
Michael: Your other fun talent away from VM is as a bass guitarist in the band Pants. How long have you been playing and what do you love so much about being in a band?
David: I’ve played music since I was a little kid. My dad was a musician and we grew up with music all around. Around 15 I picked up the guitar, since the trumpet groupies tend to taper off after junior high. Like art, it’s a great creative outlet, and means that every few weeks the band my friends are all going out to see is mine.
Michael: I’ve got to ask, every once in a while you boast two screens. How much more work can you get done with a second screen?
David: It helps me a lot with programming and testing. One screen is coding, the other is the resulting web page, so I can have both up as I write and update. Having dual monitors just amplifies the person driving it. A productive person will be doubly productive. A slacker, doubly good at Farmville.
Michael: Along with Abby Gilmore, you are one of the native Bostonians here at Vertical Measures and that means you’re a big fan of all their sports teams. What do you think has been the best moment of the past decade for Boston sports, the Patriots’ Super Bowl wins, the Red Sox World Series victories or the Celtics becoming a powerhouse again and winning a title?
David: The past decade overall has been a real gift to Boston sports fans. Although football is my sport, I’d have to say the Sox World Series win in ’04. The other success have been fantastic, but there was so much history behind that moment that it struck me the hardest, and resonated well outside the local fan base as well. Wicked awesome.
Michael: It’s become almost a joke here at VM that whenever the slightest thing gets broken on our computers we yell, “Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaavid!!” Tell us about this part of your job.
David: In addition to being a web developer and managing our network, I am also a kind of computer parent. My two kids are the employees and the computers, and I have to get them to play nice. Often, someone will come to me (read: shout across the office) and complain that their computer spazzed out, or is running slow, or won’t share. I have to try to remedy that situation with some tech band-aids and a juice box.
Michael: You are the manager of your own department (IT) at Vertical Measures, a department with no members other than yourself. Do you ever get lonely sitting on your own branch of the org chart?
David: I’ve opted to hang the org chart sideways, where I’m on top.
Michael: Finally, why do you like working at a link building company like Vertical Measures?
David: It really is a great and rewarding job, working with amazing people in an interesting industry. And my office has paintings of elephants and jaguars. And there’s no height requirement like at NASA.
If you’re like me then you’re always looking to learn something new in the industry. From what’s up and coming in mobile search, to proving ROI for social media, there always seems to be someone’s new and exciting ideas available online to learn and share. But it’s a whole different experience when you stop reading something online, and hear the expert speak at a conference or event. This September 9th get ready Phoenix, Social Media AZ is back.
On September 9th attendees of the third SMAZ conference will learn applied social media practices, and many presenters will be showing how successful strategies have worked for their businesses or clients. In addition, the Online Marketing Institute (OMI) is presenting their social media workshop, complete with case study research from the leading universities and research firms. This 2 hour workshop is $79 (save 30% if attending SMAZ by using code OMISMAZ30, register here).
Speakers at SMAZ include:
• Greg Chapman – President of Sitewire?
• Laurie G Buczek – Enterprise 2.0 Program Manager, Intel Corporation
• Matt O’Brien – President, Mint Social
• Michael Roberts – President, SpyFu.com
• Sheila Kloefkorn – Founder & President, KEO Marketing
• Arnie Kuenn – President, Vertical Measures
• Mike Corak – VP of Strategy & Interactive Services, Tallwave
• Bret Giles – President, AgencySide
• Fred von Graf – President, Web3Mavens, LLC
• Tiffany Winman – Social Media Strategist, IBM
• Jeff Moriarty – Director Social Media, Sitewire
• Bart Steiner – CEO and Founder, Bulbstorm, Inc.
• Fionn Downhill – President, Elixir Interactive
• Linda Vandevrede – Public Relations Consultant & Author
• Evo Terra – Digital Business Strategist, Sitewire
• Dean Wright – VP Marketing, Tripware.com
Interested in attending? Here are a few more details:
Register for tickets: Full Access All Day Tickets available, special pricing for students or previous attendees (buy one get 2nd 50% off!). Register here.
See the buzz: Check out all the peeps already tweeting about the event (you might even find a coupon code or two!). #SMAZ
Be there: MadCap Theater – 730 S. Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281 on September 9th, 2010 (view map here).
Parking: There will be free and discounted parking available. Once you register you’ll get more details.
I’m getting excited for tomorrow’s (August 12th) Vertical Measures Monthly Webinar centered around “Onsite SEO: Building a Solid Foundation for Your Website,” at 11:30 a.m. EST (8:30 a.m. PST, 10:30 a.m. CST). My co-workers James Constable (Link Strategy Specialist) and Jason Hendricks SEO (Link Acquisition Specialist) are sure to have some good insights and reveal some secrets that they’ve uncovered first hand. Speaking of folks with a lot of experience in SEO this week, I got to speak with Dave Harry of Reliable-SEO. You may also know him as the “The Gypsy” as he is known on twitter and from www.huomah.com.
Elise Redlin-Cook: Would you consider yourself a “coder/programmer”?
Dave Harry: That one is hard to say really. Compared to the more hard core folks, most certainly not. But I have been building sites for some 12 years now and do know my way around code. But nothing more than the average every day hack really.
Elise: So, what do you think of PageRank?
Dave: What do I ‘think’ of it? That’s a strange one to be certain. I ‘think’ that it is the driving force behind all of modern search. All of the major engines use it. There is no avoiding it. It is a pretty interesting idea that has evolved greatly over the years. It is the genesis for the link economy and the scourge and bain of pain behind the mess that is the web these days. On the other hand, I also believe it will become less important in the coming years. How’s that?
Elise: Haha, perfect! How about your thoughts on using XML sitemaps?
Dave: Great idea… especially with video (aka video site maps) and news. I also don’t believe one should be doing away with the ever-faithful HTML site maps, but given the adoption of the major engines, it makes sense to be using them these days.
Elise: So in your opinion what areas are currently the most important in organically ranking a site?
Dave: All of them. No, seriously. I am a bit on the anal side in that I want to nail ALL of the on-site elements and keep semantic and other rules in mind when it comes to link building even. I tend to leave nothing to chance and hit ‘em all. On-site TITLE and IA structures are likely the most important. But I wouldn’t count out semantic relevance factors either. At the end of the day, all things being equal off-site, the site that nails down the on-site elements wins.
Elise: Explain to me what META tags matter in today’s world.
Dave: Interesting question deserving of an unorthodox answer. The TITLE element is important for ranking, the DESCRIPTION element is important for CTR. That’s the stuff we all know already. What is more interesting is the rise of RDFa and microformats and even semantic mark-up for Facebook’s social graph goodies. In the very near future we should see these types of meta-data on the rise. It is an area not a lot of SEOs are looking at, but should be.
Elise: What kind of strategies do you normally implement for back links?
Dave: Content programs, plain and simple. We aren’t really big into (comment) spamming types of link building. We use a combination of content strategy, outreach, placement and syndication. Sure, now and again I might fill in the link profile with some foundational stuff (directories and article marketing etc.) but I tend to not really do much of that these days. Back in the old days, before social, it was much harder to get the content out there. But that is no longer the case and if anything, link building has become much easier. People often don’t seem to understand that it is really ‘link marketing’ more than it is ‘building’. We want to not only use it for simply getting links, but to also build authority and traffic…. yes, TRAFFIC. Something that seems foreign to a lot of SEOs these days.
Elise: So, what role does social media play today in an SEO strategy?
Dave: Much as we discussed already, it is massively important in the link marketing process. It has given us unrivalled abilities to get our content out there like never before. That being said, one should also remember that it is about the secondary links. Social media is also huge in branding and authority building. Further down the scale it can be used for localization and citations as well. It should also be noted that the lines aren’t as blurred as many seem to think, something we covered in a recent episode of SEO Dojo Radio #4.
Elise: What are the main tools that you use in your SEO Site Audits?
Dave: My brain, my fingers and my keyboard. Seriously though, most of the work we do with audits is based on experience, not tools. That is another bone of contention for me in that far too many SEOs these days depend on their tools. Data is completely and utterly useless without the desire to find a given data set. The data doesn’t create the strategy, the strategy dictates what data you are after. Of the various tools we ‘regularly’ use in most cases are (Google/Bing) Webmaster Tools, Majestic (for link data) and a few custom ones we have. But once more, each situation is unique and for the most part our audits are done through the experience of the eye looking at the site. I don’t believe there is yet a tool that can replace it.
Elise: The Search Engine Optimization field has changed a great deal in the last couple of years. How does it differ from when you first began?
Dave: HA! Not sure about the ‘last couple of years’ in that it has been a constant evolution for me over the last 8+ years I have been at it. For me much has changed from the rise of anchor text (05 or so), the loss of value for things like meta-keywords, the incarnations of social (from forums to social media) as mentioned already and so much more. I even believe search engines have gotten much better at determining semantic relevance from an on-page perspective (which gave rise to phrase ratio’s over KW density concepts). Some of the most massive changes have been in the verticals… video, local, real time etc.. This is an area I have not seen SEOs very quick to catch onto. Just look at any SERP these days and you will likely see a LOT of differences in a universal SERP compared to the past days of the 10 blue links. Now we start to consider semantic meta data and well… things just keep on changing all the time. And what of implicit user feedback? Another area I believe will start to become more and more important over the coming years. SEO is dead? Puh-leeeaze…
Elise: What are the biggest obstacles that you face in getting clients and/or developers to execute your action plan?
Dave: Man, that’s probably the number one most frustrating aspect of performing SEO. I have solved it in two simple ways.
A. Be much more attentive during the sales process. In short, be sure to qualify your clients to ensure you are setting yourself up with the best chance to succeed. If the client is not going to take/implement the advice you give them, just walk. Or at very least be sure to spell out in contractual format that you are not entirely responsible for the results … and NEVER get into pay-for-performance.
B. Be a consultant. This is something I do more and more of these days. I do the research/reporting/planning and hand it over. Done…finished…out of there. This is one way that I have been able to alleviate the problem and frustration of seeing my hard work go down the crapper. Sad, but true.
I am pretty sure that’s not the angle you’re after… but it is the reality of the business. You really need to have clients that are on board and understand the SEO process… it can’t be an after-thought.
Elise: What advice would you give to those that are new to SEO and lack the knowledge, experience, and hindsight that you possess?
Dave: Earn information retrieval… plain and simple. I have long lamented that SEOs not understanding how search engines work is like a web developer that doesn’t know HTML. It is 2/3rds of the initialization; ‘Search Engine’. The more one learns to ‘think like an engineer’ the easier it becomes to understand where things are headed. Being able to future-proof one’s SEO so that it stands the test of time is paramount as far as I am concerned. It also enables you to logically sort out what is and isn’t of value. Even for R&D (testing); how can one test anything when they have no grasp of how search engines work?
What other advice? Much like the above; don’t learn SEO from blogs. You must take your knowledge of search engines and apply it to your ongoing testing and research. Blogs are great, I write on a few, this interview is going on one, but that is NOT where one’s strategy should come from.
Elise: What search marketing conference do you most enjoy attending? Speaking at?
Dave: None. I don’t go to them and have traditionally turned down offers to speak at them. I am a family man first and foremost and while my kids are at the precious age (8&10) that is the golden moments, I don’t really see/feel the need to go. That being said, I do run a weekly chat session at the SEO Dojo and have enjoyed the many great guests we’ve had on there. Having a strong network (which would be ultimate value of them for me) is invaluable. Sorry… no recommendations beyond that here.
Elise: How about recommending some relevant reading materials to newcomer in the field?
Sure can… anything on these lists;
Or even Garrett French’s ebook (for link building)
At the end of the day the problem with a lot of tech books is that the information get’s outdated pretty damned fast. So I’d probably recommend joining a community such as Aaron Wall’s SEO Book gang and of course our own SEO Dojo. There are plenty of reading materials in those and forums to ask questions/further your knowledge. I’d also likely recommend taking in some as well…for the networking more than the sessions.
Elise: What inspired you to go into Search Engine Optimization? Did you follow a specific path into this field?
Dave: I sure did… hehe… I started a web design/development company back in 1998 and had been on the outside fringes when clients started to ask us about it. Then in about 2002 I decided it wasn’t great on my relationship to be working side-by-side with my wife and went into SEO full time. She still manages the original company and I am pretty sure our life is better for it.
Once I got into it though, I was just your average hack until I began to get geeky into IR patents and papers… The real turning point was likely through folks like Bill Slawski which was a watershed moment. There is simply nothing more fascinating in this world to me than the challenge of indexing and making meaningful sense of the world’s information. I don’t do PPC, I don’t do social… I am an organic search geek through-and-through.
Elise: Do you have any exciting projects that your involved in right now that you’d like to discuss?
Dave: Not really… we have a whack of those pesky NDAs which precludes me from talking about what we’re working on these days. I will say we have some interesting challenges we’re involved in and that’s what keeps me going. Beyond that, we have the aforementioned ‘SEO Dojo’ which is a growing community of SEO geeks (and webmasters) that was launched in late 2009. The best and most surprising part is that I am probably learning more than I am teaching… it has been a GREAT experience for me so far.
Elise: What made you decide to get involved in training SEO?
Dave: The total mass of complete GARBAGE that is out in the space. I was in the martial arts for more than 20yrs and one of the more important parts of that world is passing along the art. I decided long ago to try and do my part in helping to evolve the industry. Originally that was via blogging, more recently with the SEO Dojo. Nothing is more frustrating than to have clients asking questions (of ignorance) gleaned from some blogger or listening to the crap being spouted on the various forums in the SEO world. Instead of just ignoring it, I decided to be part of the solution.
That being said, there are many days when the sheer weight of it all makes me want to just pack it in and work for my own means. It can be a very thankless job out in the public eye and frustrating far beyond the benefits. I have been trying to ‘do my part’ for some 5 years now and how much longer I can take it, remains to be seen. Hopefully some of the newer generation will pick up the torch soon and I can fade back into anonymity.
Elise: Are you driven by any great passions outside of the business arena?
Dave: Oh you betcha’. Did I mention my family? Oh yes, I did… well, they are always first and foremost. Much of my present world enables me to spend lots of time with them and I do enjoy my summers together with the fam’. I am also an avid musician these days and manage to spend time playing around town and at gatherings. I started that back some 30yrs ago. As for the martial arts, not so much anymore, the tired ol body just doesn’t hold up for that as it used to.
And ultimately, learning is a passion. I don’t read fiction. I don’t watch reality TV. Most of my off-time is spent as a sponge sucking up more of the world’s endless information.