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Update: SEO Issues - is it Penguin? Is it Panda? or is it me?

It was a little over a year ago that I posted the " SEO Issues - is it Penguin? Is it Panda? or is it me? " in which I detailed o...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Google Secure Search and what it means for SEO's

I was editing videos from Search and Social Hawaii diligently and getting ready for my talk on SEO this Thursday when I saw a post update from the Google Analytics Blog addressing the announcement that Google is going to make search more secure. So I came out of my hole for a moment to draft up a quick blog post to clear up any questions.

Google says:

"As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver. As a result, we’re enhancing our default search experience for signed-in users. Over the next few weeks, many of you will find yourselves redirected to https://www.google.com (note the extra “s”) when you’re signed in to your Google Account. This change encrypts your search queries and Google’s results page. This is especially important when you’re using an unsecured Internet connection, such as a WiFi hotspot in an Internet cafe. You can also navigate tohttps://www.google.com directly if you’re signed out or if you don’t have a Google Account."

What does this mean for SEO's?

It doesn't directly effect rankings as a whole, but it does effect the individual user's results as they will see a more personalized list of websites in their search results. In all honesty, that doesn't change anymore than what us SEO's have been working towards for several years now since Google setup Gmail and a login feature for their products and searches. It just means that instead of a few users seeing personalized results, more users will start to see personalized results. So dont' focus on whether or not your target audience is going to be logged in and what they might see in their personalized results, assume that all of them are.

Now here's where it gets tricky. The Google Analytics team is working very closely with the rest of the company to ensure that data is being passed showing the referring URL and Terms from paid and natural search results.

"How will this change impact Google Analytics users?
When a signed in user visits your site from an organic Google search, all web analytics services, including Google Analytics, will continue to recognize the visit as Google “organic” search, but will no longer report the query terms that the user searched on to reach your site. Keep in mind that the change will affect only a minority of your traffic. You will continue to see aggregate query data with no change, including visits from users who aren’t signed in and visits from Google "cpc"."

What is Google Analytics doing about it?
We are still measuring all SEO traffic. You will still be able to see your conversion rates, segmentations, and more.

Which is great for those of you that have Google Analytics installed on their websites, but what about Omniture or Webtrends?
In 2005 when I was working with Omniture to start showing referring key terms for SEO and streamlining our PPC within the system they were able to crack the code and get us the robust tracking we see today. While I don't see a blog post on either Omniture, or Webtrands blogs (I'll add the links in a comment as soon as I see something) I can assure you that Google doesn't want to hide anything from us SEO's and Marketers. They want us to be able to see the referring traffic and asses what is working, and what isn't. If we don't see it, we can't create a better user experience, and that would go against all of Google's ideals.

For those of you that rely solely on Omniture (or have clients that do) take a moment and reconsider adding the Google Analytic tracking onto the website (or talk to your clients about it) for the time being.

So never fear, rankings will still go on as usual, and the ability to track in Google Analytics won't be effected in any way...

Carry on...

Friday, May 27, 2011

3 Simple Facebook Tricks for Marketers

A lot of people ask me often "How did you do that?" in regards to some of the cool things I do with Facebook status updates, managing my pages, and so on. So here's a few of my little tricks you can use while marketing to your peeps.

1) Tagging in a Status Update or Comment
Tagging people or pages in Facebook is a common occurrence, but unfortunately a lot of people don't quite know how to do it, or how to use it to their marketing benefit. Adding a tag to an update can have many benefits. Thankfully, Facebook has recognized this downside to the secrets of tagging and has now made it easier to do by simply listing out people or pages you have "like"d to make it easier, but in some cases you may not see the suggestions pop up. In this case, you cans till use the "@" for tagging. One of the glitches is that at times it takes a bit for the system to populate the suggestions, so if you don't see them right away just delete everything back tot he "@" and redo it until it shows up. Also, if you aren't friends with the person, or "like" the page of the place or business you are tagging you won't see it in your suggestions. So be sure to "friend" or "like" them before tagging.
Here's how you do it:
Begin posting your status and simply add the "@" then immediately type in the name or page (no space after the "@" is typed) and you can see the suggestions pop up.

Using Tagging for Marketing
In some cases the status or post you made will show up on the person, business, or place's wall you tagged. If the person, place or business set their preferences to not allow people to tag them, or the page settings only show their posts to the wall, then your tag will not show up. It is still a good practice to tag when mentioning them though as it provides a link to their profile or page. Wappow uses tagging as we mention businesses that sponsor our events. The users can just click to their page and "like" them or just learn more about our sponsors. We also use this method for our speakers so our attendees can see who is speaking and learn a bit more about them by checking out their profile on Facebook. Some other uses are if you are offering a promotion with a partner company, you can tag the other company to gain more exposure. Blog posts that mention companies can be posted to your profile with a tag to the company you are blogging about. You can even call out your most active fans to show them appreciation for spreading the word about your company and encourage more brand advocates as others see you giving credit for active marketing on your behalf. Got more ideas? Comment below and tell me how you have used tagging to benefit your marketing.

2) Sharing Facebook URLs (Pages, Videos, and Photos)
The sharing of other Facebook photos, videos, or pages unfortunately isn't just a click away form the Facebook interface. At times you are given the option to "share" a post, or "like" a post or comment, but the post to your profile or page isn't as visible as it would be if you were to post them yourself.
For example: if you simply "like" something this is what it looks like in the stream:

The sample above is a comment on a video posted by a friend. As you can see it's pretty hidden amongst the other posts made. If it's a video or picture you really want your users to see and give credit to the person who originally posted it and you see the "share" option is available, got that route. Click the share link and a popup will appear with the option to make a comment and "share".

This is what it will look like if you "share":
Notice the video is much more prominent on the page than the comment. 
If the "share" option isn't available, or you want to take full credit for sharing the photo or video, simply right click the link of the photo or video and select "copy link location". Then select the "link" on your page or profile and paste the link in the field and click "attach" - then comment away.
When sharing photos and videos from other sources (such as youtube.com, slideshare presentations, etc) simply grab the URL (link) of the item and paste it in the link field as shown above. In most cases Facebook recognizes the URL as a video or flash player and will render it on the wall as such so the user can just play from your stream. We use this for photo sets on Flickr, posting the link to the set directly to our wall so the user doesn't have to leave Facebook. Posting videos and photo set links to events before, during, and after is very beneficial to marketing efforts. People can see examples from the event and say they are "attending" or "maybe attending" which allows for us to continue to encourage them to register for the event and show up. In return your users will often share the videos or pictures which gives you more exposure and sparks the viral marketing effect. 
Here's an example of what it looks like as your friends and fans comment, share, like, etc the item you posted:
Akvile had attended one of our events and commented on one of the pictures in photo album I had posted to the Wappow page. People that didn't make it to this particular event get to see who was there, who spoke (in this case Rand Fishkin CEO of SEOmoz) and will be thinking to themselves "Darn, I wish I had gone. I'll have to go next time." which for our monthly Wappow Social Day! is exactly what we want them to do.

3) Getting People to "Like" You
You've probably seen those ads or Facebook posts to groups or pages that say "Make money now on Facebook, get 'likes' for your page" or something similar. The truth is, there are no quick fixes to getting a ton of "like"s for your fan page. Sure you can pay some money to a company that will magically get you thousands of "like"s but what are they really going to get you? Nothing...
The best way I have found to getting "like"s is to be patient and know where your fan base is. You don't want thousands of random people that aren't going to benefit you by "like"ing your page, you want true brand evangelists that will buy your product, use your software, attend your event, will share out your content, and spark the viral effect (They "like" or comment, three friends see it and "like" or comment, and those people have three friends that see it, and so on.) 
One of the most effective ways we have gotten "like"s with regards to business related pages is to add the like box to the website. After adding the SEOGoddess fan page to the SEOGoddess website I noticed a huge lift in "like"s to the page. Now the page has over 1,000 likes in just a few months, and the good news is: they are all people that took it upon themselves to "like" the page. 
Add a "Like" Box to a Website
Adding a Like Box to your website is pretty simple - just grab the URL of the page you want to add, and go to the Facebook Developer's section and enter the URL of the page in the WYSIWYG they provide:
Click the "Get Code" button and copy the html code provided. You can then add the code to your website (or give it to your developer to add for you). If you have a Wordpress or other content management system, simply go into the source code or "edit html" option and paste the code where you want the widget to appear. 
Don't Have a Website?
If you don't have a page that is associated with a website you can still get "like"s the natural way, it just might go a bit slower than you are wanting. Just remember, being patient is the key to quality "like"s. I created the Seattle, WA page on May 19, 2011 which now has 10 "like"s on it (1 week after it's creation) which are all very active in posting to the page and sharing posts.  My initial strategy was to post to the Seattle, WA Group the page is associated with, shared it to my personal wall, and every couple of days share it to the SEOGoddess fans, Wappow fans, etc. I also scheduled posts to hit the page from Hootsuite with links to places to visit around Seattle, and events happening. As people catch on with posting events, businesses, etc the "like"s will grow and all will benefit from the page. How does this page benefit our marketing? Wappow hosts a lot of events in Seattle, WA so having a group just for Seattle, and a page that goes with it that both have a large following will eventually benefit the company gaining exposure to the event we hold. It also shows a sense of community on a personal level as Seattle is my home, my family history, and therefore very close to my heart. In a year or so as the company grows, the fan base will grow, and our branding in the local area will become strong resulting in people trusting in, and frequently attending our events.
So there you have it - 3 simple tricks you can do to get your Facebook marketing going. Don't forget to remember to engage with your friends and fans on Facebook and you'll be successful in driving leads and establishing a solid brand presence.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Social Media for a Cause

Yesterday Gillian Muessig (President of SEOmoz and my SEOmom) asked me to do her a favor, and when SEOmom asks me to help her out, help her out I shall do.

She sent me a link to Chase Community Giving and described the charity she has been working with for a while now and is needing help in getting enough votes to get the much needed $25,000. The charity is called the "The Akshaya Patra Foundation" which is the world's largest NGO-run midday meal program, feeding 1.3 million children each day in over 8,000 schools through 18 kitchens in 8 states in India.  Being a woman passionate about children and aiding people in other countries, I naturally took this one on. Not to mention that on 5/19 they where at 210 votes with 6 days to get to 200,000 votes we had a long ways to go. Gillian was at first discouraged, but I know if social media goes viral in the right ways anything is possible. So I immediately did the math - in order to get to 200k in 6 days if we could get at least 200 people (which is about where they where at to begin with) to each share to one person and ask that person to vote then we could double the amount of votes in 1 day. From there it's just a matter of getting each person that votes to encourage 5 friends to vote (or vote 5 times themselves and get one friend to share and vote 5 times) then day one should end with 2x what they started with. From there - if each person votes and shares to 5 people the viral effect should take hold and the numbers should grow to 250,000 by the 5th day.

Here's how it works:
Day 1 get to share to at least one friend - 200x2=400
Day 2 get those 400 to share to 5 friends - 400x5= 2,000
Day 3 get those 2000 people to share to 5 friends - 2,000x5= 10,000
Day 4 get those 10,000 people to share to 5 friends - 10,000x5=50,000
Day 5 get those 50,000 people to share to 5 friends - 50,000x5=250,000

So naturally by day 6 we should be well over the 200,000 votes...

How are we doing it you ask?
The beauty of marketing in social media for charities is that they are a charity. Asking people to vote for a person or a product is one thing, but asking them to give to help feed starving children, well it just tugs at the heart strings. Which is the driving success of any social media effort. It's not just about messaging, imagery, user experience, numbers, and any other traditional marketing strategy. It starts with emotion and social engagement first and then messaging, imagery, user experience, and numbers to drive the success.

So I started naturally started with a post to my Facebook status asking people to vote and share it out as well. The awesome thing too is that the page for the charity offers up ways to share it out and get people to vote (smart). A simple click to the Facebook like icon and I added a comment "This one is VERY important - we need 200,000 votes by May 25th. Help me spread the word by copying and pasting this and posting to your status..." But oops - I forgot the call to action to "vote", so while I shared it out, I didn't quite get the messaging right. What I should have said was "This one is VERY important - we need 200,000 votes by May 25th - go vote and then help me spread the word by copying and pasting this and posting to your status..." but then I didn't tug at the emotions of the people I am sharing to, so some of my friends thought it was spam (doh). So once again, I revised the post "Help us fight childhood hunger and promote education to the children in India. We need 200k votes by 5/25 to raise $25k - go vote and spread the word by copying and pasting this and posting to your status...".

From there I utilized some of the pages and groups I manage. The only thing is that the message and the nature of the charity didn't match up with the demographic of some of the pages. The "I had 'Learning Disabilities' as a kid and now I'm a genius" and the "Breakfast Sandwich" pages were both a prime example of where NOT to post a request to help a charity. The fans of those pages are looking for certain things, and starving children in India was not one of them. But I have others - and those pages (while not 100% the demographic we where looking for) could be worked into helping out. I refrained from using any of the Wappow business pages (the Wappow page, and the Social Day page are focused on marketing and social media marketing and to stray for even one post would discourage our fans), but the SEOGoddess fan page has a level of personality, and enough fans to make a difference, that twisting the message to work with the audience could actually grab some attention. So here's what I posted "President of SEOmoz, Gillian Muessig asked me to help her get votes for her favorite charity. I'm a sucker for helping to feed children in other countries so I voted... If you get a chance, go vote and get your friends to vote - we need 200k votes by 5/25 to raise $25k from Chase Community Giving." It ties in the SEO community by mentioning Gillian and the company she runs (in which SEOGoddess fans are also familiar with), and validates the post by mentioning what the charity does, and where the money is coming from. I also pulled in the sense of urgency and challenge (which sparks the competitive emotion in people) by mentioning the goal of getting 200k votes by 5/25. If you also notice, I validated why SEOGoddess is helping the charity herself (or myself as you look at it).  By tagging Gillian, SEOmoz, and Chase it also puts the post on the walls of each of them (if they allow it in their settings) which validates each mention with a link to them, plus gets more exposure. Oh, and I didn't forget the 2 call to actions - 1) Go vote, and 2) Share with your friends.

But I didn't stop there...
I have a few strategies and tricks up my sleeve as a marketer. Asking friends to help share things out on a personal level goes a long way. I have found most times if I write out the message myself and send an email with an explanation as to why I am asking them, and why they should do it most times they are more than happy to help out. The trick is to email the people who's followers (and friends) are going to be the right demographic for the message. I wouldn't ask my Mother or Father to share this out (my Mom had a hard time even taking a cruise to Greece as it was just too foreign for her) so supporting children in another country isn't her thing. Not to mention her friends would think something is wrong with her. My Father is in Real Estate... (do I really need to explain why that demographic won't work?).  So I selected a handful of friends in the SEO industry that know Gillian and SEOmoz well. I also hit a couple of friends that have been known to support charities similar to this one that aren't in the industry. So between Googletalk and Emails I managed to  ask over 50 of my friends to help out. Each one came back with a "I'd be happy to"... It was because of the choice of demographic in friends, and their followers, and the personal messaging from me that encouraged them to say "yes". Now whether they message it right is up to them. I do at times have something to copy and paste, but a lot of times how I say something isn't necessarily the way they would say it so it doesn't quite come across right.
Of course there is still lot's more we can do - but at least we are off to a great start.
As of last night (after a full day of sharing) they where up to 260 votes (6:15 pm pst) and 690 this morning (6:30 am pst). As of now they are at 925 (1:35 pm pst) and growing each time I refresh the page. So according to the plan we should end with 2,000 today and continue to grow as each person votes each day (up to 5 times) and shares to 5 people who vote, and those 5 people share to 5 people who each vote and share and so on.

So when you get a chance today - go vote and share to at least 5 friends: http://wppw.me/4ZwVP 
Don't forget to ask your friends to vote and share (and dont' forget to get your messaging in)...