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5 Must Have Sites of Social Marketing

The 5 Must Have Sites of Social Marketing:

It’s all the rage now: social bookmarking and networking.

It’s link-body-building on steroids. I have to admit: I was skeptical. I thought, “Digg might survive, and couple others, but it will most likely die out within 3 years.” Right. I was wrong. It’s bigger than ever, it’s badder than ever, and it’s made the internet nearly transparent. I’m a believer: all it took was Simply Hired.

If you’ve never been there, let me explain: Simply Hired, in its essence, is simply a carnivorous bot that scrapes the net for job lists and republishes them. It “socialized” other website’s proprietary listings. It blew me away. That was 3 years ago. Now it’s the staple of any website’s longevity: what’s the social aspect. Can I share, can I publish, can I gather a following to spread the word?

The Five Sites an SEO Can’t Live Without

1) FeedBurner

(we’re under the assumption you or your clients have a blog.) Don’t know what I’d do without it. Honestly. A central location to manage your blog’s distribution (and client blogs), nice tools to help optimize your blog, and statistics measurement on subscribers. It’s Google-driven, which means you’re reaping the benefits of being in Google Blog Search and on the fast track to being found and spread virally. Check out this Feedburner 101 on Google if you need more reasons to get on board.

2) Digg:

yeah, it’s not the same Digg it once was. It’s being overrun with prepubescent folks posting some outlandish junk, but every once in while you’ll find a diamond in the rough. Be that diamond. Digg carries a lot of weight and tons of people surf it; you can get a lot of valuable eyes, not to mention links if you create content that spreads. Though, be warned, and don’t get discouraged, if your posts become stagnant out there.

3) Sphinn:

(this is not an attempt to brown-nose) This is mainly for SEO/SEM professionals, people that have some skin in the game (and good articles and advice to improve it) Great site to build your reputation within the SEO community, make some connections, and learn a few things.

4) Facebook:

Having a Facebook page is essential in the social network/media game. I don’t recommend their ad system, but having a client/company page is key. It’s a great way to build up a local base of people and give your “stony-corporate-image” a “humanistic” face lift. Not to mention it’s another source where you can get pretty good links back to your site. MySpace is just a cesspool now, and I don’t think it offers any real value for companies or clients.

5) Twitter:

The latest and greatest out there. It’s IM on HGH. You may have read about the Twitter auction, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg with this one. It’s nearly compatible with every social networking app out there. More importantly, assuming you don’t abuse your tweets, you can build a solid network of followers to link up to your pages and help you get really viral: FAST. It’s growing quickly, so getting in on the ground floor and building up your followers and who you’re following is key.

So there it is: the top 5 social marketing tools every SEO/SEM needs to be on. I’d be interested in seeing some other lists on this, other opinions of what other SEOs consider invaluable social networking tools.


5 Tips to Build a Solid Email Marketing Database

Email Marketing Database: Quality over Quantity

I thought we’d switch gears today, take a break from the SEO blogs, and talk about something vital to everyone’s business: reaching consumers with targeted communications. Yes, that’s right, I’m discussing email marketing today (as you may have guessed from the title).

This is key component to any business, reaching out to consumers and building solid brand recognition. And, hopefully, brand loyalty. The first thing that needs to be done, is build a QUALITY database with WILLING participants. For a small and medium businesses this is the real challenge, so I’ve comprised 5 easy tips to building a solid email database:

  1. List Brokers = IF’Y RESULTS

Buying giant data lists from list brokers is something you DON’T want to start with. Sure, you can instantly supplement your database with hundreds, possibly thousands, of email addresses and fire your communique out. But there’s two reasons to hold off on this route:

  • Quality of email address is not guaranteed. Who knows how many hard bounces and spam filters you’ll be trapped in.
  • The people you are sending to did not opt to receive your email. While I’m convinced the folks selling this list have a found a loophole in the FCC’s SPAM regulations, the last thing you want to do is start building resentment toward your brand by pushing unwanted communications on them.

2. Clean Your List Up

If you have already purchased a list, that’s ok. Once your emails go out, look at the data and clean up your list.

3. Bigger Doesn’t = Better

5,000 email addresses are great, 10,000 is better. Wrong, especially if they came from a list broker. The object of your database should be QUALITY. I’d rather have 500 quality people to send out to that are going to open my email, click-through to my site, and get in the purchase funnel.

4. Low Open Rates=Higher Spam Marks=Blacklisted

This is almost self-explanatory. Our data shows, and common sense prevails, purchased lists have very low open rates, receive higher spam marks from email providers, and continually pushes you closer to getting blacklisted.

5. A/B Testing, Co-Branded Communications, and Contests

A/B Testing:

take the money you were going to use to buy a list, and do some usability testing on your emails and your website. Send out variants of your email with long/short copy and layout rearrangements. Check out your site and make sure that people can FIND AND SIGN easily. Ask a couple of friends, pay some strangers, to test it out for you and give you feedback.

Co-Branded Communications:

hook-up with another company in your area and petition them to send a co-branded email with your company. This could earn you plenty of “trust” points with consumers and they’ll be willing to sign up for emails in the future.

Contests and Campaigns:

start a contest or a campaign. It’s a great way to get people to give you their email address in the off-chance they’ll win something.

So the idea is to get quality people on quality lists by staying away from database brokers. You should clean up your lists periodically, probably once a month, to make sure you’ve got the highest quality opens when your email goes out. And, to build bigger lists of your own, co-brand your email or start a contest.


Google PageRank: Just a Number

Google PageRank: What is it Good For?

There’s been talk recently that Google has updated the PageRank for sites across the web: some are losing PageRank while some have seen significant increases. When it’s all said an done, it doesn’t mean a thing.

Sure, I look at it too. And, yes, sometimes as an SEO I obsess a little about it. It’s nice to know that a fairly arbitrary measure, the little green gas tank of trust, is getting full. More importantly, for savvier clients who have some measuring tools, and have enabled the PageRank function of the Google toolbar, is comforting for them to see their website get higher and higher in PageRank. Heck, I like to see it too; it gives me the feeling that Google is actually paying attention to my site(s) and rewarding/commending the work I’ve done for the website(s).

The PageRank toolbar gives SEOs important tips as to what Google thinks is important:

  1. Cached Screenshot of your site.

    Choose the “Text” only version of the cache to see what Google sees when they index your site. This is how you’ll know if you are being indexed and relevantly ranked for the keywords you’re targeting.

  2. Backlinks to the page in question.

    We all know that high quality, relevant backlinks with keyword targeted anchor text pointing back to you is essential.

But, in the end, your site’s PageRank doesn’t mean anything at all when thinking about organic search rankings. It’s pretty, it’s comforting, and above all, a high PageRank cultivates trust among visitors. That is, PageRank says to users that the information you have on your site is trustworthy, relevant, and could be valuable for the user. And, that, folks is what PageRank really does.

That’s what is so special about PageRank; users feel like the information they’re getting from your site is trustworthy and solid. I agree with Barry, focus on your site’s content and links. Because, after all, it’s about getting found through queries, making conversions, and getting your clients a nice ROI. If you focus on PageRank, it’s more than likely, everything else suffers. PageRank will come with better content and more high quality, relevant links to you.

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