Tuesday, July 21, 2015

SEO for Social Media: The Single Worst Social Media Mistake

This week while researching what others have written about Instagram and SEO, we were surprised to discover this advice from the top result:

Link Your Facebook and Twitter Profiles to Your Instagram Account

"Be sure to link your Twitter and Facebook profiles to your Instagram account...When your accounts are linked, when you share on Twitter, it’ll be posted to your Twitter feed as a link and posted to your Facebook feed as photo with text. This will increase the visibility of your posts and build more engagement with your brand."

So says Misty McPadden of V3B, "an innovative agency specializing in the digital space."

If that description sounds vague (perhaps robotic) to you, you're not alone. It's the type of sleek, soulless agency that you'll find all over the SEO world today, it's jargon-ridden website offering "solutions" to "leverage" your "brand."

This is not to say that a company like this cannot help your business; the success of V3B, after all, is quite evident in its top rankings. On the other hand, if you're like us, you might find V3B's style--and it certainly is stylish--impersonal and cliché.

The main problem with a cliché, you might know, is that it is easy; it is the crutch of a bored writer who cannot (at the moment, at least) think for him or herself. Instead of creating a language that speaks to others in a way that feels real, the bored writer mails it in, substituting buzz words for sincere thought.

We like how George Orwell described clichés:

"A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically ‘dead’...has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. But in between those two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves."

George Orwell himself spawned a few clichés, most notably "Big Brother is Watching You."

And this just so happens to be the problem with McPadden's advice to link your various social media accounts. This is a tired bit of advice that shows little to no real understanding of the nature of social media.

True, effective social media is about engagement. It is impossible to engage with anyone if you're attempting to (warning: cliché coming!)  kill three birds with one stone.

Twitter. Facebook. Instagram.

As we've said before: "Each platform is unique and should be respected as such. Respect each individual audience for what it is, and remember: be an active member of the community."

The advice to link accounts disregards the unique nature of each social media platform; it essentially favors quantity over quality.

A perfect example of this is Misty McPadden's Twitter account, which shows surprisingly little engagement for an account with 44.2K followers. Perhaps this is because McPadden follows 41.7K people--or, really, no one. Just take a look at her "Tweet's and Replies." There's little to no conversation happening--none at all. One could be excused for believing the account was actually a spam bot.

This is our stance on spam:

"A spammer works on the principle of nearly 100% quantity. Blasting emails to millions, regardless of the recipient's preferences, spammers care little about the quality of their image. Instead, spammers play a numbers game, hoping for bare minimum conversions: 1% or less.

Sounds inefficient? Well, it is, in a sense.

Yet a 1% conversion for one million emails is still 10,000. Would you like 10,000 customers? Perhaps. But if you're goal is a sustainable business, of course, spam is not the answer. Spam comes at a cost: when you spam, the quality of your brand image is degraded. You might attract 10,000 customers, but you positively repel 990,000 others. This is why we refer to spam as the lowest level of marketing, and why we believe is it entirely inefficient."

For more, read: Quality over Quantity: A Different View of SEO Marketing

The upshot: Be real. Engage. The single worst social media mistake is playing the numbers game, favoring quantity over quality.

Marketing with Stepman's PC

If you're looking for a small SEO company that takes the time to communicate one-on-one with each client, we suggest contacting our sponsor, Stepman's PC: 215-900-9398 Stepmans PC combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective marketing campaigns.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

SEO for Amazon: A Few Simple Tips

Yesterday was Prime Day, Amazon.com's celebration of its 20-year anniversary. The shopping "holiday" was heavily promoted as "Black Friday in July," and, at least on Twitter, heavily panned as an egregious disappointment.

We took a spin around this site yesterday morning, and we had to agree with much of the commentary: the navigation was incredibly confusing, the "deals" were nothing to write home about, and the exclusions were plenty--basically everything you'd actually want to buy.

In fact, the best thing about #PrimeDay, were the tweets.

Despite the total fail of Prime Day, however, there is no doubting Amazon.com's supremacy. As Market Watch noted in anticipation of Prime Day:

"Amazon’s stock has surged 50% year to date, making it the fourth-best performer among S&P 500 components this year. The company’s market value has increased by $72.25 billion this year to $216.8 billion. That is higher than the value of 22 of the 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, of which Amazon isn't a member."

That's a whole lot of money, of course, yet many people don't realize precisely how much of Amazon's business is generated by third party sellers.

As Amazon itself says:

"Since 2000, Selling on Amazon has been helping individuals and businesses increase sales and reach new customers. Today, more than 40% of Amazon's total unit sales come from third-party selection."

If you're a small business, we hope this is not news to you. After all, it would be foolish to ignore a marketplace with this sort of sales potential. The key, of course, is not to simply sell on Amazon, but to sell well on Amazon. To do that, you need to rank well in Amazon's search results. I think you can see where we're going here...

Yes, you can perform SEO for your Amazon products--in fact, you must, if you want to share in the success.

Here are a few tips. (Hint: use keywords, a lot of them!)

Use Precise and Abundant Keywords for Your Product Title

When you sell on Amazon.com, you must create a Product Detail Page. As Amazon notes:

"Detail pages become a permanent part of the Amazon catalog, and you - along with other sellers - can create listings for these products on Amazon.com. Customers can find the pages and listings you create through search and browse, and add them to their Amazon shopping cart or Wish Lists."

To attract these browsers, of course, you want to detail your page with the most explicit information possible.

Your "Product Title" is, of course, the most important detail. Thankfully, you have a 500 character limit to describe your product in detail with juicy keywords.

500 characters might seem like a lot, and stuffing a title with keywords is antithetical to today's SEO practices, but as Search Engine Journal notes:

"Here is the key to ranking on Amazon. You only need your keyword to appear once. If you can get that keyword into the title, you do not have to worry about including it anywhere else. With 500 characters, you can pretty much include every possible keyword in the title."

Write Clear Bullet Points and a Descriptive Product Description

Bullet points appear under the title and can be as simple or complex as you prefer. Just remember, here too, you have the opportunity to add keywords that might help your product rank better on Amazon

Simple Bullet Points for Vans Authentic Sneakers: Canvas, Rubber sole, Metal eyelets--all viable keywords. If you prefer, you can be more descriptive.

The "Product Description" is important for both SEO and conversion. By writing a precise product description, you give Amazon more to work with--ditto the search engines, like Google, who might use text from the product description to rank your product.

By telling the story of your product here, however, you also give potential customers who happened to have reached your page (presumably because of your keyword-rich product title), an inducement to buy--what we call conversion.

The product description here tells a intriguing story: 
"Vans' storied history, and our connection with skate and surf culture, began in 1966 Southern California with the rolling out of a single pair of shoes."

Get Product Reviews from Your Current Customers 

Reviews are important for both SEO and conversion. First, a review, by nature, is the exact sort of unique content that an SEO specialist loves. The more reviews you have, the more your product will be revealed in search results by both Amazon and Google. Second, the more reviews the more trusted your product will be with consumers. So once you've attracted a potential customer, the reviews will help convert that customer.

To get reviews, ask your customers! You might do what many Amazon sellers do: send an automated email to those who have recently purchased your product. And, of course, if you have a list of loyal or repeat customers, reach out to them for reviews.

Just remember, don't write bogus reviews for your own product. This is unethical and rarely effective.

Marketing with Stepman's PC

If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively promote websites on Amazon.com, we suggest contacting our sponsor, Stepman's PC: 215-900-9398 Stepmans PC combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective marketing campaigns.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Why Twitter is the Social Media Choice for Today & Tomorrow

In last week's post, "Five Steps for the Social Media Newbie," we listed Facebook as the de-facto social media choice for most brands. After all, of the top social media sites, Facebook refers, by far, the most traffic to other sites.

There is, however, one caveat with this distinction. A "Page", which Facebook defines as "businesses, brands and organizations [that] share their stories and connect with people," does not  necessarily show up in its fans News Feed.

To make a Page show up in the News Feed, a fan has to manually go to the Page, hover over the "Liked" button and choose "Show in News Feed."

As a social media manager for your brand, then, you must figure out some way to let your fans know about this--say, by email (if, of course, you have access to relevant emails).

Another option, is to create a personal profile, and to serve as a brand ambassador from your personal page. In other words, promote your business from your profile.

In the context of your immediate social network, this might alienate certain friends and family.On the other hand, we believe you can attract attention for your brand with minimal annoyance, if you follow the two simple rules we noted last week:
  1. Be an active member of the community. Engage. If you're a sincere individual (or brand) who understands social media, you know that engagement is everything. 
  2. Create quality content. This is so obvious it scarcely needs to be mentioned. Yet each day we log onto Facebook, we're stunned by the apparent disregard for truly quality content.

With apologies for the language, here is a tweet that expresses the second of the first of the two simple rules--rules that apply to all social media. More on Twitter on below...

Yet another option is to venture elsewhere in the social media universe.

Despite the recent Shareaholic report that listed Pinterest as the site that refers the second most traffic--a whopping five times more than Twitter--we believe a good Twitter presence will be more available today and tomorrow for emerging brands.

First, for today: we admit that the Shareaholic numbers are quite hard to ignore, yet they don't speak to the true value of Twitter, which is its unique culture, stronger than all other social media networks. It is this culture, too, which might explain why the social media network refers less traffic.

One of Twitter's strengths is its insularity. Tweeps, as they're sometimes called (not by us; only this one time), engage in conversation more often than users of any other social media network. Indeed, when we speak about "the national conversation," inspired by such events as Ferguson, a lot of that talk originates on Twitter--and decidedly not on Facebook.

This conversation, however, often stays within the realms of Twitter--thus, less outbound traffic. "Less outbound traffic" might just be a misnomer, though. Tweets are often mentioned in the news; and many people visit Twitter first to follow national events.

Even then, you might be wondering how an insular conversation can be helpful for a small business trying to promote its brand.

Take a look at these numbers from social media strategist, Jay Baer:

"In addition to following brands, Twitter users research and engage with companies. 42% learn about products and services via Twitter. 41% provide opinions about products/services. 19% seek customer support."

As Baer notes: "I maintain that as Facebook continues to tie together the real-time Web with the open graph, Twitter usage will inexorably shift from person to person connectivity, to customer to company connectivity. I believe Twitter will ultimately be the way that we interact with brands, and will power the social CRM movement..."

We happen to agree with this assessment--to a point. To our view, Twitter will grow as both a network for personal communication as well as customer to company connectivity. Even now, Twitter is much more brand-friendly than Facebook.

Second, however, is Twitter's potential to become an even more visited source for news, information, and knowledge. This potential is seen most readily in the deal (announced earlier this year) between Google and Twitter.

Since February, Google has been indexing tweets for the purpose of enhancing its own search results. And just this week, Search Engine Land noted a 466% increase in this indexing.

Again, though, engagement is key. Google does not necessarily preference accounts with the most followers: "it may not be all about follower count, and there is a correlation between those with higher engagement levels and overall 'authority' and indexation."

Are you on Twitter? Do you engage with your "followers"? How? Let us know in the comments below.

Social Media Marketing with Stepman's PC

If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively promote websites on all social media channels, we suggest contacting our sponsor, Stepman's PC: 215-900-9398 Stepmans PC combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective social media marketing campaigns.