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Tony Adam

Entrepreneur, Marketer, Aspiring Polymath

SEO
Social Media – Part 2: Dominating the Search Engine Results Pages
January 15, 2008 4
  
     
Last week I talked about how to stay active, answer questions, etc. to keep brand awareness high and reputation management under control. This week, I'm going to give you an overview of how to dominate the SERP's (Search Engine Results Pages) by using Social Media to your advantage. We all know since the "Web 2.0 Evolution" there has been a massive influx of Social Media properties on the web. That being said, you can use this to your advantage from another Branding and Reputation Management aspect by using them to control the top 10 results listed in the SERPs for your branded search. (e.g. digg) Here is what you do: 1. Find Social Media sites that are relevant: Do some quick research and find the sites that are relevant to you. If you do real estate, using YouTube is a great site...at the same time...if you are a large tech company, TechCrunch's "CrunchBoard" is a great place to get a public profile about your company. Quick note though, keep this up to date...some brands do a bad job of this. 2. Build your branded social media page: Getting a public page on hot spots like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, etc. is very easy to do and build. There is already a template behind them, all you need to do is adjust it so that you are branding your page appropriately. Some sites, (e.g. MySpace) require some markup/css, but still very simple. Most organizations have already done this, if you have, GREAT!, you're already one step closer to success. 3. Subdomians: Google has cracked down on the subdomain issue as of late, but, that being said for branding purposes, it is still helping out in dominating the SERPs. For example, having a careers or jobs mini-site/subdomain on your brand (e.g. careers.myawesomebrand.com) will give you yet another listing. 4. Blogging: O.K., I realize this is not so much related to a social media site...but it is related to the SERPs and control them. Blogging around your topic and creating linkbaitable items will not only get you a ton of traffic, but the true success comes from the amount of links for your site. So, be sure to set your blog up on your domain as a subfolder (http:://thegreatestbrandever.com/blog) or as a subdomain (blog.myreallycoolbrand.com). Along with all of that, you can use your blog as a great tool to pass some great PR value and Link Popularity to your Social Media sites. 5. Link Building: Doing link building on your ".com" is not the only place to focus. Granted, that being said, most social media sites do contain some heavy PR value and a good starting point. So, with very little effort, but an effort none-the-less, you will be able to rank those pages. So, send a link from your ".com", your blog, etc. and a small link building effort should help. Now, remember, these are the 5 steps to achieving Search Engine Results Page domination. Doing only 1 or 2 of these things will help your organization, but, you will receive the most effectiveness by following the steps and ensuring the dependencies. Overall, your goal for the overall effort is reputation management and ensuring that your brand is controlling the SERP for a branded search (e.g. "Digg"). Doing so can have a tremendous amount of value and reduce a ton of negative publicity for your brand.
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SEO
Web Standards based design and SEO
January 2, 2008 9
  
     
So, I figured to ring in the New Year of 2008, I would post about how the whole SEO industry should really start to take an understanding of Web Standards in the design of Websites. Semantic Web Design and using CSS for layouts is not really cutting edge people!! We have been doing this since 2001! I have been so thoroughly frustrated with the quality (rather, lack of quality!) that I am seeing in some of the top agencies and experts in SEO. Even being at Webmaster World PubCon this year and sitting in on some of the interactive site reviews I was horrified by the lack of real web knowledge. Now, as much as I love the SEO industry, I feel the need to call everyone out that is doing this. We are at a point where the web is becomming more and more semantic and browsers are standards compliant (See: Private Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 build passes Acid2 test). What I am not going to do is start giving you a tutorial for how to build CSS layouts or semantic websites. Although this is an area of expertise of mine, there are TONS and TONS of resources for this out there already. (Resources Below). Building Web Standards compliant websites that are semantic will add tons of value, not only to your services, but to your overall value as an organization. We are no longer in the 90's and do not have to use tables for design purposes and layout, CSS is extremely powerful now. Using a CSS layout will dramatically reduce the amount of markup on your page. Also, use semantic markup up in your html document, such as using semantic CSS styles, insert the appropriate HTML (e.g. paragraphs, strong instead of b), etc. There should never be a class named "style6" or a div id with the name "leftside." Classes should be named "footer" and similarly your div id's should signify the content on the page, (e.g. div id="logo"). Here are the two **VERY IMPORTANT** reasons that you should build Standards Compliant websites with semantic markup. Crawlability and Indexability is of course one of the most crucial things when working with SEO, because, the truth is, if a search engine doesn't crawl your site, you won't have any business. Standards compliant and semantic markup allows the search engine to read through your html documents with many pre-determined factors. To break this down in its simplist form search engines read through an html document the same way that we read through a written or "Word" document. From a User Experience stand point, page load times will drop and allowing the page to even render correctly will increase conversion. Websites Maintenance can be a big part of the work that is taken on for consultants, agencies, and SEO Experts. Especially in larger organizations that have hundreds or even thousands of pages. Using the methods that I have been talking about will allow you to dramatically reduce the time it takes to even put up pages or re-design pages on a site, thus reducing your cost to build new or update old pages. This leads to you offering discounted rates, increasing customer loyalty, and/or increased margins for your organizations. From an SEO perspective, the benefit of building a site this way is that you do not have to attempt to stuff keywords into your content, less markup will in-turn help with keyword ratios on the page. In summary, please build standards compliant websites that contain semantic markup. You will see a great benefit from it and help in cleaning up the web! Resources: A List Apart Articles - Great Web Design Resource Web Standards Project - Do I really need to explain this? Designing with Web Standards - A GREAT book by Jeffrey Zeldman that explains why Web Standards is important (yes, even for SEO) and goes into code level detail. If you are using Standards based design with your websites and/or are practicing SEO...please comment!...I'd love to hear and share your thoughts!
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Online Marketing
Being an Industry Thought Leader Through Your Corporate Blog
December 21, 2007 1
  
     
This is a continuation post as a follow up to Blogging for Customers, not Dollars. I felt this was important for corporations and in-house talent to look at when writing a blog. Sometimes we tend to think about a blog as a way to push products, which is what I talked about previously. The truth is, this is o.k. to do, but ONLY as part of your blog content. Being at a large organization, you are already at the advantage of having a following, your blog will benefit from this. You want to make sure that you are keeping your readers interested. Continuously blogging to your users only about changes to the company or new products, etc. are a way of losing readers and interest. Swinging to a more positive note, you need to start thinking of your blog as the "Thought Leader" for an industry. There are many ways to do so and it will dramatically improve readership and reach. People expect this out of a large company that is an industry leader already, so, being that thought leader that I speak of, will really set you at the top. Pay attention to the industry: Listen for what people are looking for. If identity theft and security on the web is a big part of your industry, then use that to your advantage. Write an article about how it applies to your company and how to prevent it, or something along those lines. Don't spam: As I mentioned above, do not...and I'll say this again...DO NOT write solely on new products or what your company id doing. This is boring, tends to decrease interest, and looks to much like an advertising tool. Write great content: By paying attention to the industry, you know what your readers are looking for. This is crucial info, now go out and apply it. Write articles about the industry, keep people informed of the industry news, etc. Then, every so often, you can write an article that is great and increase visibility. Linkbaiticize: As apposed to publicizing, you want to write great content that leads to great link bait. Also, get to know the top evangelists, sites, etc. around your industry in the blogosphere. Hopefully they will pick up your article and maybe even submit it to digg/reddit/etc. user that could submit your story is another way to increase readership. Doing this and getting this kind of traffic is of course, one of the best ways to increase your blogs overall ROI. The amount of in-links and subscribers alone is worth the time and money invested, then you have the users that actually follow through on product specific blogs and convert into real $$. Keep it Fresh: Don't stop there, continue to fire away and keep content fresh. Stagnant content will lose readers...so keeping it up to date will keep people interested and looking for more. I can't stress enough how important it is to follow the 5 rules above about being an industry thought leader. There is definitive ROI through the amount of link popularity, subscriber-ship, and readership that is gained through Social Media. All that, plus, conversion and click-throughs to product subscriptions, etc. that could quite possibly lead real dollars. Here are some good resources to check out for an understanding of the power of social media are: A Visual Tour Through the Basics of Social Media Marketing by SEOMoz SEO Book Bloggers Guide to SEO
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Networking
Being effective at Conferences and Networking Events
December 19, 2007 0
  
     

Sometimes it is very hard to meet people at conferences, networking events, etc. I've been doing this for quite some time as a consultant, so there are a lot of lessons that I have learned and even some that I still can't quite get over. That being said, it is always important to be mindful of a few things are very important.

Be courteous: No matter who it is you are talking to, treat them with respect and a little bit of class. There is worse than that feeling. The truth is, you never know at any point in your career that you might cross paths with that person and that first and lasting impression could make or break that meeting.

Listen & Pay Attention: Stop talking and listen! I can't tell you how many times I've done this or been victim of this. In the past I would totally just blabber away and not really pay attention to the person I am talking to or have someone do this to me. It is quite annoying and as with anything else, leaves a bad impression

It's o.k. to be nervous: Sometimes people tense up and get nervous at these events. This is completely fine and normal, there is absolutely no need to freak out. I remember my first conference, I was so nervous to talk to anyone because I didn't feel "good enough" to be there, that I basically just curled up in a ball with my laptop and worked. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT do this!!

Business cards: Recently at PubCon 2007 someone told me..."ohhh, I don't do the whole business card thing..." also at a couple of other events in the Bay Area recently I have run into countless situations where people were not prepared. The truth is, if you are at an event where you are trying to build on connections, business cards are crucial to staying in touch with people.

Follow Up: Always, Always, Always follow up with the people that you meet at an event. My best practice for this is doing a mass add of people to LinkedIn and send out an email the night of or day after an event. I would say within 24 hours is a good rule of thumb. To add to that, if you are at a conference, definitely continue to add and get in touch with the connections you make because they are fresh on the mind at that point. Also, if someone gets in touch with you, the same rule should apply, follow up with that person within 24 hours.

A lot of times the rules above can be tweaked and adjusted per industry and your needs. But, just be sure that you are applying them in whatever way you see fit.

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SEO
Evangelizing SEO within an organization…
June 30, 2007 0
  
     
Evangelism about SEO in an organization and spreading the word in a "grass-roots" sort of way is something that is very hard to do. I always think about it and get excited over the fact that I can make a difference and become a "thought leader" for an organization. The truth is, the evangelism of SEO within a traditional organization or small business can be painful. I've been faced with this a couple times at organizations and while sometimes it is great and can lead to tremendous success, other times, it ends up just being a painful battle without any change. So, basically I wanted to run through some of the things that I have done to try to get people excited about SEO and Search Marketing. I would call it by "Top 5 tips for SEO Evangelism," but I don't want to seem to cliche. (Oh darn, I already did!) TALK TO PEOPLE! - This is by far, the most important rule that I have given myself. Get people in the know about SEO. (excuse my cliche sounding rhyme's!...lol). Bring up topics going on in search, throw out numbers about how search is growing in popularity. SEOMoz does this well by putting quotes from well known articles on their homepage, these are things that you can total mention to people within your organization and hopefully build buzz. The main goal and hopefully you can get this going is to have people talking about SEO/SEM to each other. Baby Steps - On the marketing and creative side we tend to see a lot of "ownership" around pages. They don't want major changes to be made. So start with small things like meta tag, title tag and page naming changes in that could help certain keywords without changing your messaging or content. Web Standards - Work closely with your web development teams to get better at coding. WATCH OUT THOUGH, YOU BETTER KNOW YOUR STUFF! Do not attempt to make it an attack. Evangelize it, that is what this is all about, spreading thoughts, knowledge and wisdom to other teams for the overall good (sounds like i am trying to save the world a bit??). Anyway, to get to the point, you basically want to get people thinking they should be standards compliant, ensuring the design elements are CSS based and that your HTML is read like a document. This allows for better site crawlability and your HTML will be read better by spiders. Make Suggestions - Take a risk and go out on a limb by putting in thoughtful input whenever possible. Some things I have done with this is made statements in meetings about the amount of searches there are for a certain keyword or phrase that we could be capitalizing on. Use Analytics to your advantage - This will help put everything together. Give you an unbelievable amount of data to take back to your colleagues and counterparts. Oh and guess what else this gives you?! We all know that the "Big Wigs" like seeing the numbers quickly and to the point, so this is a great way to evangelize your successes, no matter how BIG your "big wig" is. Now that you have my secret and effective list of evangelism for SEO, you better put it to good use!! Spreading the word and starting a movement of sorts around will definitely help spread the word about SEO, building better sites, with a better user experience and great content.
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SEO
Tools for Linkbait and Viral Marketing
April 2, 2007 0
  
     
Really understanding the value of good links and viral marketing seems to be a common struggle for many companies. This being the case, it is very easy for these companies to lose out on a lot of opportunities for link building or even linkbait types of opportunities. Capturing links through a means of viral traffic and linkbait is critical to becoming a leader in a specific industry or even a niche within it. Also, if done correctly, this can put you in a position to rank highly or even at the top of most SERP's. One of the things that I have found is that organizations completely disregard that everything link-worthy is hosted on their company domain. Creating knowledge-bases or tools that your organization will be using or distributing to various partners are great sources of traffic generation, and it doesn't end there. Not only can you direct traffic to your domain, but talk about a major viral method of increasing your link-authority. Creating these tools, knowledge bases or anything of that sort really gives you that edge over your various competitors. It is highly critical though that you ensure a few things are in-line though:
  1. First and foremost, ensure that you are creating this tool within your companies domain.  It is massively important that this traffic is being driven to your domain from not only a user perspective, but from an SEO and link building one as well.
  2. Appropriate naming and Keyword Research:  You know the space that you are competing in, you know your competition and you obviously know that industry if you are creating a tool of some sort.  Now, make sure you use that knowledge to distribute those links to partners/customers/etc.
  3. From a design perspective, you need to ensure that people don't get the message that you "overly advertising" your product.  You are creating this to drive traffic and become a leader.  For example, do not use your current web templates for this and your XXL logo.  You can subtly brand the page to your company's liking, just ensure that you are creating a RICH user experience for everyone linking to it, not just you.
Once you incorporate the previous items into the thought process of your tool or what not, you will notice tremendous results.  Many financial organizations do this well with "rate calculators" of some sort.  This can really apply to any industry with any content or tool.  Just ensure that you are doing so correctly, creating linkbait for others to pickup and virally spreading your message!!  You can even do this in a consumer directed and social media type of campaign, but make sure you follow the rules and you will watch your tools spread like wildfire and your rankings on the SERP's increase at a rapid pace.
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Online Marketing
Blogging for Customers, not Dollars
March 20, 2007 1
  
     

I really want to focus right now on how to focus blogging on not dollars, but your customers. So, to start, I want to tell you what this WILL NOT be about: Blogging to Make Money, Blogging to be an expert and Blogging for leads. The reason I am putting this out there is to really focus on how to blog to interact with customers/end users.

In the interest of who does a good job of this, we can look at a couple companies that do a great job of doing this. Microsoft does this with channel 9 and Google does this constantly with their plethora of product blogs.

Really customers need to be kept in the loop of what products and services you are offering and how to make your customer feel like you care (granted, you truly should care, but thats a whole other post!). By doing this, you are connecting with those out there and giving them value.

Another real major item of interest is allowing users/customers to really take part in the planning and discovery of great product features. Keep your users/customers really involved in your planning, product and company or organization. This will leave them feeling like they have some sort of stake in the company and feel as if they are truly apart of the company.

Finally, in closing, make sure that you are ensuring involvement from the community. Your users, your customers, and even complainers will give you a ton of feedback through through blog comments or emails after blogs are posted. Allowing them to get involved will definitely resonate well with them and you will have REAL hard data from customers that now feel like they have a PERSONAL stake in the organization.

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