04 Apr 2012
Google recently announced the most major transformation ever to their search algorithm and how it displays results to users. The “Search, plus your world” combines data from Google+ networks and the public internet. These changes propel Google+ into the status of major player in the social network wars for our attention. How will these changes effect search engine optimization for web sites? What does this mean from a social search strategy? These questions and more had me curious and stumped, so I turned to the person who I knew could best shine a light into the changes and their implications; Ed Reese of Spokane’s Sixth Man Marketing.
Ed, and his company are among the most regarded and respected in their field of search, SEO, and other geeky type stuff, so I thought I’d sit down and ask Ed to “shine the search light” into what all this means.
So, Ed, explain the new Google changes in regular people talk?
What do the changes mean from an SEO and web site optimization standpoint?
It definitely makes an impact. This somewhat “officially” announced to the general public how important Google believes social signals to be in determining quality content. And while it’s still a read-between-the-lines statement to some degree, they aren’t hiding that fact that incorporating a Google+ strategy into your marketing mix will likely help search rankings.
So how did social media influence search ranking algorithm in the past? Google’s big announcement made it sound like this is a new ranking factor.
We’ve been tracking social media’s influence on search engine rankings since February of 2011. SEOmoz wrote a great blog post about Twitter and Facebook’s influence on search rankings last Spring that documents what was going on at the time really well. The best example I’ve personally seen is from the Bloom Spokane. Last February they wrote a blog post that ranked #3 on page one of Google for the very broad phrase “birth advice” within 48 hours of it being published. For a small non-profit to outrank big sites like Mothering.com, the BBC, and Wikipedia that quickly was pretty crazy. We found out that the blog post was shared by nearly 200 Facebook pages in those first few days. And some of the Facebook pages had A LOT of followers. Google was tracking Facebook shares as a signal that this was quality content. It was the social sharing that was the main signal to Google that this was quality content out of the gate. It’s received natural inbound links (the traditional ranking influencer) since and has gone to the top spot for phrase “birth advice.” But it was the social sharing on Facebook that got it to the top of page one so quickly.
How does Google+ play into things now?
Google+ amplifies that effect. By adding circles (networks) of people on Google+ with common interests Google is able to create its own social graph of and determine what the these Google+ circles determine to be valuable content. The biggest upside, however, is that through personalization people in your circles are MUCH more likely to see your content (whether a website, blog post, etc). The downside is that Google+ still isn’t widely adopted by the masses (and I’m not certain that will happen). That said, Google has been very aggressive in marketing it and the likely increase in organic search traffic will be a continued to bring business owners and marketers on board. We’ll see how that plays out in the long run, but for now it’s something that I believe people can’t ignore from a marketing perspective.
What additional information is out there that people should check out?
I’d talk to people with direct experience using Google+ that have SEO and social media experience. Get Listed University is coming to Spokane on April 27th and will be a great opportunity to talk with some of the best folks around to understand how it fits within a good SEO strategy.
GET LISTED UNIVERSITY TICKETS ARE $199. Get admission for only $149 with the NECTAR discount code at THIS LINK.
I know you have a Google+ class coming up as well. I think that would also be a great opportunity for people to learn more about it in person. In terms of online information, I think that SEOmoz has some great information about both Google+ and social media’s growing influence on SEO. Here’s a quick list of their best blog posts and presentations on the topic:
- Why Every Marketer Needs a Google+ Strategy
- How Google+ Uses SEO to Steal Search from Facebook & Twitter
- Social Media for SEO (Presentation by Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz)
Thanks, Ed, for dropping the knowledge bombs about Google, SEO and Social Media. Looks like ignoring Google+ is a foolish thing to do and properly optimized social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest are essential for rankings and listings.
01 Apr 2012
Groupon and daily deal sites are projected to be worth over $4.2 billion by the year 2015*. There are dozens of daily deal sites,
although most of them operate in generally the same way; for small business owners, these daily deals can make or break a business.
Thinking of a Groupon? This $20 class can save you thousands. CLICK HERE to REGISTER.
The way daily deals are structured
Generally, daily deal services are structured in such a way that both the merchant and the daily deal service both make money in some way. Groupon splits the income from the daily deal half and half, and requires a 50% or more discount on the product or service.
For example, a Groupon that costs $10 must be for a product or service worth $20. The merchant gets $5 of this income, and Groupon gets $5. Most daily deal sites also charge a credit card processing fee of between 1 and 3 percent. At the end of the day, this means the merchant gets approximately 22% of their usual charge for the item included in the coupon.
Each daily deal site pays out income from their deal differently; some in one lump sum, though many pay out in smaller installments.
The benefits of running a daily deal
For business owners, there are a multitude of benefits associated with running one of these daily deals.
- Very targeted customers: Generally daily deal sites offer very tightly controlled targeting of their customers, based on age,
previous buying habits, and geographical area. There are also daily deal sites that aim for a very targeted demographic; services such as Gaypon, for example.
- New customers: Many of the customers that purchase and use a daily deal are customers that may not have otherwise spent the money to visit your location or utilize your service; these new customers can be a much-needed shot in the arm for a business.
- Social presence: Most daily deal website users are already comfortable with the web and social media. Running a daily deal means attracting customers that are already primed to use social networks and offer their opinions on your business to friends.
- Search Engine Optimization: The spike in traffic, topical links to your website, and social media discussion of your business that will happen the day a daily deal runs with your business can do great things for your search engine optimization, if your website is ready for it.
There are a multitude of benefits to running a daily deal, but unless you are truly prepared for the onslaught, then a daily deal can ruin your business. There are hundreds of thousands of stories online of businesses that have been put out of business by their Groupon or daily deal. Before you decide to run a daily deal, you should carefully consider:
- The cost of the deal: In order to run a daily deal, you will likely giving a discount of 75% or more to every customer that uses
the coupon. Consider if your busienss can take that kind of a discount, and if not, then running the deal may not be worth it.
- Utilizing the information: You can get a wealth of information from and about the customers that buy and redeem your deal. If you do not yet have the structure to utilize the information in the future, however, then it may not be worth the cost.
- If you are prepared: A daily deal means several large spikes for your business. A spike in website traffic, a spike in orders the first few days, and another spike a few days before the deal expires. These customers are also very vocal and very likely to share, so if you are not prepared to handle the onslaught, you could do more damage to your businesses’ reputation than you could help.
So – should you run a Groupon?
So, in the end, should you run a Groupon or other daily deal for your business? The answer depends on if your business is prepared for the deal, and if you can structure the deal in such a way that the deal will not drive your business out of business. Do the math very
carefully, know your goals for the deal, and structure it in such a way that you can turn the one-time daily deal customers into a boon
for your business, rather than a drain.
To learn more about doing a daily deal the right way, check out Groupon – Deal Sites the Right Way on Tuesday, April 3 at noon at Nectar Media. 120 N Stevens
30 Nov 2011
Last week, I had the opportunity and good fortune to share my Thanksgiving wine picks with Spokane area wine lovers on KXLY920 radio station and KXLY TV’s Good Morning Northwest show. While some may think of me as a media whore, I love these opportunities to showcase Spokane wine and of course Nectar Tasting Room. While these opportunities sometimes seem to come out of the blue, they are not by accident, they are by design. The great thing is that anyone can develop the relationships they need for success in their industry.
Over the last few months I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking on “relationship marketing” and building strategic connections; so much so, that I’ve started a book about the subject (only on chapter 3 of 12 right now). While I may not “do” relationships and networking correctly all the time, I have seen the power of these strategic connections in action these last 12 months. Here are three tips for turning online relationships into offline success.
1. Be genuine
People can spot a phony. Be who you are regardless of your faults and failures. There are some people I don’t get along with. I can be impetuous and quick to speak without thinking through the consequences, but I am also quick to apologize and know my shortcomings. Many people can build a wide and shallow network but it will collapse like a house of cards if the roots are not deep and genuine.
2. Be purposeful
Build relationships that can be symbiotic. This isn’t done to meet selfish needs but it is done with thoughtful intention. As a Washington wine blogger, I knew that I needed the bigger community of established bloggers. I intentionally sought out and connected with people like Washington Wine Report, Seattle Wine Gal, Paul Gregutt, Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman and more. These relationships became mutually beneficial and even spawned some great friendships.
Knowing that social media marketing and developing a brand required a broader reach, I intentionally connected with local influencers like Pam Scott, Visit Spokane, Ally Shoshana, Monte Tareski, Barb Chamberlain (and so many others) along with the growing local traditional media population on Twitter (enter the radio and TV contacts). Be purposeful about the connections you make whether it is media, non-profits, industry alliances, or popular influencers.
I would speculate that at least 90% of my great “offline” relationships began through “online” purposeful connections.
3. Be giving
Some people are consumers and users. By their very nature their endeavors dry up because at their core they are taking more than they are giving and eventually there is nothing left to take. I love what I do. I love Spokane and the wine scene here. While I have been intentional about most everything I’ve done, I also love seeing the success of those around me and promoting our area. From day one when 5 people watched a video and 3 people read a blog post, it was about adding value to the community. A good friend recently reminded me that it was this “giving” that was so attractive at the beginning. As a business owner with bills, new stresses and responsibilities, I have to admit that I briefly lost sight of giving and became inwardly focused. People often ask if a wine bar around the corner is our competition. I always respond with, “No, I love that place. I often go there when I’m not working.” I love promoting them and their events. Regardless of whether there is a direct financial return, giving should be at the core of what you do. I’ve recently learned that there is a basic principle of the universe. Where your attention goes, your energy flows. Living life with open hands to give also allows you to receive back as well. Many of the most valuable relationships I have were birthed out of giving relationships with the Spokane Symphony, American Childhood Cancer Organization INW, Make a Wish foundation, Cancer Patient Care, Cystic Fibrosis and more.
Relationships are the key to success in any endeavor. Relationship marketing is the unique combination of building and nurturing relationships both online through social media and offline through traditional means. In my opinion, relationships grow through selfless effort and sacrificing your own needs for the greater good of others. Be genuine as you intentionally and purposefully build relationships with key people. Look for ways you can give back to each of those relationships and success will be yours.
For those of you who are interested, I’ve included both the TV and radio spots here for you
09 Jun 2011
Dear business owner, I don’t want to be your friend. I don’t want my personal information being in your feed. I’m sure you don’t need to know about my friend drama or how high my bedazzled score is. I want to like you. I want to be a fan of your business, but we don’t need to play Mob Wars together, or ‘poke’ each other, or even chat. Please, shut down the friend page for your business and open a Facebook business page. I’ll like you, I promise.
Now, I don’t mean to be harsh. Many businesses started Facebook “friend” pages because they were misinformed or because they were early adopters before Facebook had business pages. I would like to gently encourage any business with a “friend” page to start the process of moving those friends to “likes.” Growing friends is certainly easier, but as you’ll see below there are several benefits to an active and engaging business page.
Five Reasons Why I Like You, I Really Like You
1. The Danger of Being Closed Down
Facebook terms and conditions clearly state that you will not use your personal profile for commercial gain. Additionally, profiles are to be created with real names. Business names are not “real names.” I’ve known a few businesses that have had their profile pages shut down, without warning for violating these terms. Losing connection to several hundred to several thousand people is not something you want to risk.
2. The Power of an Opt In
When a person makes the conscious choice to ‘like’ your page, they are opting in to your message. You’ve proven to them that there is a connection and through the power of engaging content you can keep them coming back for more.
3. Limited Popularity
While it may seem like a stretch to have 5000 friends, you may be surprised to learn that over time your brand may easily generate this kind of organic growth. Facebook limits the amount of friends a person can have to 5000. Ask my friend, Rick Bakas about those limitations. Rick is a person, but he is also a brand. He’s now created a business page for his brand to accommodate his popularity. Locally, I see several businesses with friend pages that will soon be at that cap. Don’t limit your growth, start thinking strategically how to move people to the correct platform.
4. Stats and Analytics
Facebook analytics can be a pretty powerful tool. At a glance business pages can see who is interacting with their page, what type of media people are consuming, and how effective their campaigns are. The demographic information alone can help make significant business decisions. Facebook also tells businesses the impressions (or reach) of each status update. Watching this information over time can tell you when people are online and what type of content generates the most interaction.
5. Facebook Ads
Don’t underestimate the power of Facebook ads. Facebook is the single most used web site in the world and those trends don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. With 50% of users logging in daily, and average time on site nearing an hour, Facebook is certainly giving ad spots greater visibility and power. The future of their revenue model is in ads. Business pages can utilize ads to gain more ‘likes’ or to promote a particular product or event. The beauty of ads is the ability to target who sees your advertisement. If you want wine lovers within 50 miles of Spokane, WA who are also interested in jazz to see your ad, Facebook gives you that kind of power. My personal preference is to pay per click, rather than pay per impression.
A Migration Plan
Now that you see the error of your ways and are scared to be shut down, you need a migration strategy. How are you going to move the hundreds (and potentially thousands) of people to a new location?
- Start: The journey always begins with the first step. Create your business page, add some content updates, upload the pictures you need, get the profile complete and then start reminding your “friends” to go “like” the page. Do this frequently with a stop date in mind (90 days).
- Create an event: From your “friend” page, create a Moving Day event to let all of your “friends” know that they should like your new page. Remind them that the “friend” page will eventually be shut down and if they want to continue to get your witty, humorous, and informative posts, then they better go like you.
- Encourage Migration: If you can afford to, offer a special small incentive to everyone who migrates by a certain date. Make the coupon only available on the business page and promote it through all your marketing channels.
Facebook recently added a feature to allow people to migrate their profile page to a business page. The process only transfers your profile picture and automatically turns all your friends into likes. No other data is transfered. Check out this article on Mashable for more information. http://mashable.com/2011/03/31/facebook-profile-to-page-migration/
Chances are you won’t win everyone over to your like page. Some people just don’t pay attention. You’ll most likely also gain some new “likes” as the organic growth of people liking your new page shows up on hundreds or thousands of people’s feeds. Start now. There will be some attrition along the way but the results will be worth it. You’ll “like” it, I promise.
Josh Wade is the owner of Nectar Tasting Room, Spokane Wine Magazine and Nectar Media. Josh used the power of relationship marketing to build a following and a brand for a business before opening. Relationship marketing and social media has helped drive successful business revenue without the need to spend money on traditional marketing. Nectar Wine Blog receives 12,000-20,000 page views per month and ranks in the top wine blogs in the country for engagement, traffic, and readership. Learn more about Nectar Media here.
22 Feb 2011
I’ve been on an SEO / SEM (search engine marketing) kick lately. As a new business owner, I’m starting to see the value of proper placement, key search term optimization, and Google (or Bing) ranking. In a previous post I wrote about how properly tagged blog posts can generate long term recurring traffic and how Google loves linkbacks (being referenced in other people’s blog posts). With Nectar Tasting Room opening, I’m more in tune with how people can find me online and being a part of the search terms people are using for wine tasting and wine events in Spokane.
If you have a business, you NEED to be thinking about where you rank in Google search. If you sell shoes in Sheboygan or parakeets in Poughkeepsie, Google search will improve your customer conversion. I will go as far as to say that focusing on search engine listing is the single best investment a business can make in their bottom line.
I recently had a conversation with a local search engine guru / god…okay, his name is Ed from Sixth Man Marketing about an upcoming search engine optimization seminar in Spokane. If you live here, I strongly encourage you to go (details below). If you don’t live here, well, your loss because Spokane is a really cool place. Regardless, Ed (a.k.a. SEO guru/god) was kind enough to provide FIVE SEO/SEM tips just for my readers. Shhhh…don’t share this post. It’s just for those that read this blog. P.S. Stay tuned at the end of the post for the amazing details on the upcoming Get Listed University seminar.
FIVE SEO TIPS
- Make sure your business information is consistent across the web. Do an audit of your brand and make sure the references you find are the same. Update any inaccuracies and make sure your business name and particular is consistent.
- Test categories in Google Places. Look to see if the categories you think will be a good choice for you produces a local search result (map). Test the categories that make sense for your business and track them to see which ones work best for you.
- Make sure your address and phone number are prominently listed on your site. This can be a sub-page but make sure they aren’t just in the footer. A page that calls our your address and phone number helps a lot. Also 800 numbers can really throw the search engines off. Use your local number if at all possible.
- Understand what citations mean to local search. The Get Listed Resources page has great information about them.
- Once you understand what they are, I recommend using the Whitespark Citation Finder to track them down.
GET LISTED UNIVERSITY
Spend a whole day with industry experts and search engine optimization pros at Northern Quest Resort and Casino on February 25 from 8AM – 5PM. Your fee includes…
- A full-day workshop to accommodate the amount of content & questions
- Classroom style seating for easier (and more comfortable) note taking
- A lab area for hands-on training! Get personalized advice from our experts.
- Updated presentations with the latest information about the Google & Bing search algorithms.
- More local success stories. Hear how last year’s attendees (and a few others) made HUGE gains.
- Lunch and snacks. After all, what’s a seminar without lunch and snacks.
- Free follow up class at LaunchPadINW Lounge for the first 40 people who register
Use the discount code “LAUNCHPADINW” and save $30 off the $149 price
VISIT http://www.sixthmanmarketing.com/get-listed-spokane for all the details! If you don’t go, you’re sorta silly!