Start a Business Blog with Purpose

You know the feeling of excitement when starting to write on a fresh pad of paper or notebook? Business blogging can be the same way. It’s never too late to start thinking of consistently blogging about your business, no matter what size it is!

Before You Even Start
First off, it’s important to determine what type of blog is most suited for your business. Read our blog post on: The Pros and Cons of On-Site and Off-Site Blogs to find out which would work best for you. Again, you want to think of SEO benefits as well as branding.

Who are You and Who are You Writing for?
Next, think of the tone, style and voice you would like to convey to your audience. Although blogs are most interesting when readers can relate to the writer, having a ghost blogger, guest writers or taking on the voice of the company as a whole is also acceptable. Which leads to the next important ingredient – passion and purpose.

Blogging Goals
Starting a blog solely for ad space or affiliate clicks isn’t what blogging is about. You’ll come across blogs that don’t actually have content and repost news articles that exist solely for this purpose. And guess what? In the eyes of search engines and readers, they won’t survive in the long run.

The objective of your blog should be aligned with your business goals. It can be as formal or informal if you want and updated as frequently as you like. The key is to be consistent with your choices. Not convinced? A popular study showed that there are 2 main factors that are essential to sales success: 1) to be perceived as an expert in your field 2) to be likeable. Guess what, blogging for your business can help you in both these areas!

Time for Inspiration
Check out some of these business blogs for inspiration. Also, feel free to share your blogging tips with us on Facebook:
Cure Thrift Shop
Nuts About Southwest
Blackberry
Whole Foods
Ice Cream Journal

Do You Have a Love/Hate Relationship with SEO?

Love and hate – when it comes to search engine optimization, it’s normal to have these conflicting feelings. But you don’t have to feel hopeless and directionless. Don’t let the chaos of SEO ruin your outlook on website marketing. There are ways to get out of a slump.

Choosing the Right SEO Firm

Like any good relationship, it helps to know what you’re looking for. Are you looking for a generalist or a specialist? You might be interested in only one or a few aspects of online marketing, such as off-site link building or blogging. In these instances, it helps to really find someone who specializes in these areas.

If you’re looking for a company to help with all aspects of online optimization, it helps to seek out a reputable SEO company with experience in your industry. Make sure to ask for a free SEO website analysis to find out more about your weak areas that need help.

Think About Alternatives
If you don’t have the patience for a long-term SEO campaign, paid search marketing can help those who want more immediate results. Although organic optimization is popular, it doesn’t hurt to think about PPC as a complement to the SEO content on your site.

Speaking of complements: branding, video marketing, social media and reputation management are also aspects of online marketing that don’t necessarily deal with SEO directly, but make a great impact. If you’re too frustrated to deal with natural optimization, remember that there are other areas to spend your time. And this is great because you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.

Lesson Learned

Yes, SEO can be volatile and results depend on search engine algorithms, search volume and customer trends. Sometimes, these things are far beyond your control and the best thing you can do is sit back and wait until the dust settles. Read and learn about the current algorithm “weather” and remember that like with anything else, there will be ups and downs in your SEO campaign. Make the most of it and you can help reduce those numbers of downward trends.

Online Marketing Lessons to Learn from 3 Scary Movies (Part 2)

Happy Halloween Eve! Get ready for some more lessons from scary movies:

4) Gremlins
Gremlins and links – what do they have in common? One is cute and cuddly (Gizmo/white hat) and the others are just plain nasty (Mogwai/black hat). In the movie, the bad gremlins multiply quickly and can cause havoc if left to their own devices. (If it were only so easy to kill bad links with bright light…)

As we know, there are different types of links and automated services might not be the best. Links should be earned a few at a time and not by the dozens or hundreds one day out of the month to catch up. Even Google recently said that website submission services can be harmful to your site. Proceed with caution and just like having your own Gizmo, some people just aren’t ready!

5) The Fly
In this cult classic by David Cronenberg, Dr. Brundle turns into a human fly in an experiment gone awry. His ultimate wish is to be fused with his wife and unborn child to become… you know, the ultimate fly-human-hybrid. After his plot is foiled, he begs his wife to put an end to his misery – which she does.

Does this sound familiar to your website? Some owners can go overboard with content, design, over-optimization, thin content, and questionable SEO tactics over the years. Pair that with an exact match domain and you’re bound to be buried by Google in the post Panda and Penguin world. There’s a time for it and some people just need to know when to end it all… and start over new. This means 301 redirecting your content or affected URLs to a new domain and starting fresh with new content. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. Don’t let the monster consume your pride and work things out before things get any worse.

6) Friday the 13th
At the end of the film, just when you think the masked killer is dead, there he is! Not only does Jason live but he also survives 11 other sequels including trips to space, hell and an intense battle with Freddy Krueger. The same goes with SEO. Many people claim that SEO is “dead” but it has really taken a life form of its own and is constantly changing to adapt to the evolving search marketing landscape. You can go on and on about how search engine optimization is a dying art but at the end of the day it comes down to the truth – SEO lives (and so does Jason Voorhees)!

Read our previous post here and let us know what you think!

Content Excellence with Coca-Cola

If you think that Coca-Cola is just focused on selling beverages and snacks, think again! Take a look at the video above to get a better idea of Coke’s content marketing vision for today and beyond.

What is content excellence?
The main takeaway from this video is that Coca-Cola is working hard to transfer their achievements in creative excellence to content excellence. The main idea behind this term is to create liquid content (viral) that is linked (relevant to customer interest, business objectives and brands).

In the end, Coke’s changing their method of storytelling in order to provoke conversation and they plan to continue the growth of their brands by promoting content in the community, as well as acting and reacting with their audience.

A change in storytelling
The one thing that small businesses can take away from this video is that Coke is changing the way that they’re telling their story, in short… marketing their goods. Nowadays, with social media and new technology, successful companies can no longer just expect to get by with one-way storytelling. You can’t just shout at potential customers and expect them to be engaged – it’s a two way street. This is where Coca-Cola introduces the idea of dynamic storytelling:

The development of incremental elements of a brand idea that get dispersed systematically across multiple channels of conversation for the purposes of creating a unified and coordinated brand experience

Leveraging user-generated content
Coke’s success can be seen in the amount of positive, user-generated stories. Coca-Cola, the drink and other snacks have become such a staple in our history that people can’t help but share their own personal connections to the products. In fact, Coke says that the amount of user-generated stories exceed those that they put out themselves for most of their brands! Call it what you want – going viral, word-of-mouth advertising, buzz… To achieve this level of positive feedback requires focusing on content excellence by engaging the community. Coke shows that you can’t do it alone and expect success.

Tweet us @emarketed or comment on our Facebook Page to let us know what you think about Coca-Cola’s innovative content marketing strategy!

SEO Keywords: Are You Branching Out?

Nowadays, exact match domains and anchor text can be a huge no-no. The focus on being search engine friendly is to include more natural and user-friendly terms that actual humans would search.

Why Variation is Important
In the post Penguin-era, it’s important for an SEO campaign to include different keyword variations, synonyms and long tail terms to catch everything that could fall in between the cracks. In some industries, such as the health or legal field, it can be difficult for clients to give the okay on including more broad or all encompassing terms. The key here is to have content with the correct jargon but to be open to the idea of focusing on queries that customers are likely to search, even if it’s not “technically” correct. There are ways to make this point clear with the content you add and educate your visitors.

Search Traffic Matters
It may be difficult to explain to clients why it’s important to focus on terms that they aren’t necessarily interested in. For example, if they are only interested in very specific phrases with low to no search traffic, aggressively pursuing these keywords might not bring a worthy ROI. On the other hand, focusing on related terms that are searched more often will help bring relevant visitors you need to your site. Once you establish favorable rankings focusing on these keywords, you can zero in on more niche and specific keywords. Having a strong foundation to tie it all back to is important in maintaining your rankings.

Are You Convinced?
Branching out of your most desired keywords list also means including branded terms and even throw away terms. Of course, you’ll still have a main list that you’re actively optimizing for, but it doesn’t hurt to diversify.

Check out these helpful articles on keywords, anchor text and more:

SEO Analytics, Middle Earth-Style
Google Penguin Update: Impact of Anchor Text Diversity & Link Relevancy
Anchor Text Variation in your Link Profile: Do It

Can Competitors Attack Your Site With SEO?

Lately, there’s been much debate on whether Google penalizes bad/low-quality links OR if they simply de-value them. With every algorithm update, there is more speculation. The argument is that Google can’t (or shouldn’t) penalize outside factors, such as links, that can be created by virtually anyone – including your competitors.

This is where the notion of negative SEO comes into play. Since frantic webmasters are scrambling to avoid over optimization penalties, what’s to stop the really vindictive ones to use these tactics against a competitor?

If you’re interested in reading this long thread, 2 users posted a case study about their experiment on using “negative SEO” techniques to cause 2 sites to tank in just a few weeks. They post rankings of specific keywords before and after their link bombs and the 2 targets suffered accordingly. If this experiment really holds true, this means that competitors can focus on penalizing your site instead of optimizing theirs. Rand from seoMOZ eventually joined in on the conversation and even offered his site as an experiment for negative SEO.

On one side, this is terrifying news and imagine all the possibilities! Competitors can spend a few hundred dollars a month to send crummy links to your site, buy social mentions, submit false/wrong information to automated local citation services and more. This is all in the realm of possibility… but others argue that negative SEO alone cannot bring down a site that has been thriving solely using white hat techniques.

The best thing you can do is to keep an eye out on the search marketing newsphere. Keep this information on your radar so that you know what’s going on and when. It’s also important to keep tabs on your site via analytics and check them regularly for any drastic and unnatural changes – like say a couple thousand incoming links from irrelevant sites! It also helps to check your rankings (with a service like Authority Labs) or even keep Google Alerts so that you’re aware of mentions and if anything else unusual occurs.

For now, we’ll have to stay tuned to see how this negative SEO experiment turns out. In the mean time, SEOs around the world are awaiting Google’s official word on this topic. This idea of manipulating a competitor’s link profile is controversial but relatively low-key (for now) but what if it catches on with more and companies attacking each other? Do you think that Google will wait until then to make an announcement or change the way that they value bad incoming links?

Taking a Look at Google Plus and Search

google plus While there’s no argument that your website can benefit from an active presence on Google Plus, it’s still crucial to take a look at the different ways in which this is possible:

Inside the Social Realm
There’s no doubt that +1’s help web pages when we take a look at Search Plus Your World. This helps socialize your search results – meaning that your +1’s will show up when your Google plus friends search for something relevant to your recommendation (and vice versa). These +1’s act like a social sign of credibility and relevance since your friends are liking them and in return, endorsing that certain web page/company. This major change in search has businesses even more intently focused on creating content that will engage users and not just search engines.

Impact on Search Algorithm
The more +1’s your site has, the more it signifies relevance, credibility and trustworthiness. To what degree Google considers these social signals is unclear and their impact probably changes all the time, due to different factors. Of course, this also goes for Facebook Likes and Tweets, but some suspect that Google will give preference over their own social networking platform over the others that are out there.

Ongoing Debate
There is no direct answer on whether Google Plus can bring something “new” to your online organic campaigns but it’s the potential that people are focused on. In a way, you can look at Google + in a way that it isn’t doing anything to drastically change the search marketing game, but that it is amplifying the effects of things being spoken about in the SEO community for awhile now.

For example, these social signals are encouraging companies to create content that is more user-friendly and that will evoke more engagement. The addition of social factors to search engine results are also discouraging spammy content, keyword stuffing and other black hat methods that have been frowned upon because really, who is going to click on, read or even +1 a badly written, self-serving article?

Is Google Plus Right for Your Business?
This all boils down to making an analysis on what social platform will be a good fit for your company. Right now, big brand names and marketing/technology companies are doing well with Google Plus. Smaller companies might benefit as well, depending on their niche. In a comparison that can be easier to relate to, it’s like choosing whether direct mail, television ads or even paper directories are a good fit for your company. Believe me, there are some clients who still invest thousands a month in Yellow Page ads. Marketing is about choosing a mix of different strategies that will suit your company well – it doesn’t mean that you have to just choose one thing and stick to it.

Porn Sites, PageRank & Popularity

Porn sites debunking SEO myths. Say what? Today, we take a look at a video by Matt Cutts explaining just that:

Is PageRank determined by popularity? Yes and no. Your site’s popularity is a factor in your PageRank but it’s not the only one. Among many other things, PageRank also includes reputation. Matt explains how even though porn sites are highly popular, they are often not linked by reputable sources like CNN and The New York Times. This explains why .gov and .edu sites (other reputable sources that aren’t as popular) have a higher PageRank than lower quality sites that aren’t reputable (porn sites).

Are porn sites (and other low quality sites) penalized by Google? The video shows that the porn industry isn’t necessary targeted as a whole to be penalized but there might be some other explanations. The question also brings up a good point, since porn sites often feature many link exchanges, ads and affiliate links to other low quality sites. As a whole, Google frowns on this.

What does Google consider trustworthy?Reputation, trust, and authority are all words in Google’s vocabulary in ranking high quality sites. Google trust includes PageRank although Matt claims that it’s not really an algorithm, but more of a way how Google determines the usefulness and relevancy of a page. In other words, Google looks at pages in the eyes of an average visitor and judges the page on whether it’s delivering what it’s promising and in what manner.

What do you think and does this video help clear up the often misconceived notion that PageRank is solely based on popularity?