I’m excited to announce that everyone who’s already signed up for my Ask Gerald newsletter should now have the inaugural edition in their inbox. If you haven’t had a chance to sign up yet, it’s not too late to become part of my free newsletter.
The point of the Ask Gerald newsletter is to make it as easy as possible for you to directly ask me questions. While you will continue to see great content on the blog, I wanted to create a place where people feel comfortable asking direct SEO questions. After evaluating several options, I decided a newsletter was by far the best. Not only does this format allow me to answer individual questions, but it makes it possible to share that information with an entire community of people who truly care about SEO.
Once you sign up, don’t forget to send in your SEO questions. Whether you’ve got a question about building links, increasing your social media presence or dominating a local business niche, I want to provide you with answers. So, be sure to send your questions to askgerald at sem-group.net so I can start answering them in the next newsletter!
Sign up now so you don’t miss out on the next Ask Gerald newsletter:
I’ve heard some people say they got into their online business, be it SEO or copywriting, so they could work from home and not have to interact with people. And every time I hear that, I can’t help but take a step back and think, “That’s stupid.” I mean, sure you may not be dealing face to face with people on a daily basis, but a large part of what you do involves client interaction. You absolutely have to know how to work with people in order to succeed.
Now having said that, I fully realize that some people who “retreat” to an online job in order to avoid social duties may require a little extra help in respect to client relations. If that describes you, here are a few tips on how to help you out. Follow them and you’ll be retaining clients and getting referrals in no time.
- Go the extra mile to fix your mistakes—I’m writing this post today because quite frankly it’s fresh on my mind. See, I did another post for this blog that I was supposed to schedule for 9 A.M. this morning. But I screwed up and it published overnight. Well, after thinking about it, I decided that it just wasn’t right for me to say “OOPS!” and move on. So instead, I decided to supply the blog with an extra post. And it just so happened to be fitting material. Would Gerald have let me keep posting to his blog if I had simply said “Sorry,” and moved on to next week? More than likely. But hey—I want to make sure I keep my business relationships moving in the right direction. I plan on working with him for a long time. So why not scratch his back?
- Deliver as promised (and don’t promise if you can’t deliver)—Sometimes I’m lucky and acquire a project that has a flexible deadline. But more often than not, if a client contacts me then they needed the piece written yesterday. So they ask when is the soonest I can finish for them. I’m always tempted to overcommit in order to secure the project. However, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s better to give them an honest answer than to promise and not deliver. Nothing makes a client unhappier than having to wait for work that should have already been completed.
- Keep communication lines open—Again, sometimes you get the low maintenance client that just wants you to send them the finished product and shut the hell up. But always go into a new relationship assuming your client needs his hand held. In other words, give him frequent updates. And ask him if he has any questions (and be ready to answer them). Bottom line—make him feel important.
Have you run into client issues before? What have you done to go the extra mile?nbsp;
Thinking about getting into the blogging game but afraid that since your college professor always gave you D’s on papers that you won’t cut the mustard? Here’s a little secret for you: there’s little connection between how good you were at writing papers in school and how successful of a blogger you can become.
The fact is, you don’t have to be a good writer, technically speaking, to be good at blogging. Here’s why:
- You can get away with sloppy mechanics—You’re English teacher isn’t going to be reading your blog posts with a red pen in hand. In fact, chances are almost no one will be checking out your mechanics. And in some cases, grammar errors can actually enhance your writing. Unless your mechanics are so poor that they take away from the meaning of your posts, you’re probably going to be okay. Sure there may be a few commenters who give you a hard time (see: grammar Nazis). But you can just tell them to go to hell.
- You don’t have to have an SAT vocabulary—Back in school, it was all about flexing your vocabulary muscles. The bigger words you used it seemed, the better grades you received. However, when it comes to blogging, the rule of thumb is to keep the vocabulary to a junior high level. That way you can keep things conversational and make sure people of all reading levels can join the conversation.
- Complex sentences are frowned upon—Again, when you write online, the idea is to keep things simple. You should only do things to enhance readability, not detract from it. One way to go about it is to keep your sentence structure relatively simple. That means weaving together 3 line long sentences with subordinate clauses and conjunctions and blah blah blah simply is not necessary.
- It’s more about voice than anything else—What it comes down to is does your personality come out in your writing? Furthermore, do people like this personality? Is it witty? Knowledgeable? Approachable? If you can answer yes to these questions, then you’re going to do just fine.
What might be more surprising here is that often people who were “good writers” before will attempt to enter the blogosphere and go on to suck it up. Why? Because they’re style is too stiff. A good blogger needs to be able to bend and not break. He needs to be able to make the words work for him—not the other way around.
What about you? Have I planted a seed of faith inside of a would-be blogger?
Have you ever visited a website and were curious about what they were running on it, such as the platform, analytics, or add-ons? Have you ever wondered how many other people are using the same website components as you do? Do you want a quick SEO profile of the site as well? If so, then you need to visit BuiltWith.com.
Learn What Technology Any Website Uses
There are three ways to find out technology a particular website is using. First off, you can visit the BuiltWith.com homepage and enter the domain name in the search box. Next, you can just enter http://builtwith.com/domain.com into your browser and change domain.com to the domain of the site you wish to view. Or you can download the Chrome Extension and click on the extension to see a popup with the website’s technology profile.
On the website’s profile page, you will find the following information (when applicable).
- Server Information – This doesn’t tell you where a site is hosted, but tells you the type of web server the site is hosted on.
- Content Management Systems – This will tell you if the website is using WordPress, Joomla, or a similar CMS.
- Ecommerce – This will tell you if the website is using an Ecommerce system like E-junkie or other shopping cart software.
- Frameworks – This will tell you the programming framework of the website. For WordPress, it will commonly be PHP.
- Advertising – This will tell you what advertising systems are being used on a website such as Google AdSense and some affiliate networks.
- Analytics and Tracking – This will tell you if a site uses Google Analytics, StatCoutner, or similar analytics system. Aweber’s mailing list code sometimes pops up into this area too.
- Audio / Video – This will tell you about any technology such as Vimeo, YouTube, or other media found on the website.
- Widgets – This will tell you about different widgets and add-ons a website is using, including social sharing buttons. It will pull information about some WordPress plugins, but most will just be lumped under WordPress Plugins.
- Aggregation Functionality – This will tell you about the RSS and pingback functionality of a site, including whether it uses Feedburner.
- Document Information & Encoding – This will tell you more about the website’s coding, like if it uses HTML, CSS, etc.
View Trends About Website Technology
While you are viewing a website’s technology profile you can click on the link for any technology listed to see more data about its usage. Alternatively, you can visit theTechnology Trends page and see the top technology used across the Internet. For example, if you clicked on WordPress, you would see the following.
This chart shows you if a particular piece of technology is increasing or decreasing in popularity. In this case, usage of WordPress is definitely increasing.
Find out what industries use a particular piece of technology the most. This pie chart shows that, aside from the Other category, WordPress seems to be used equally amongst different niches.
See what website technology is similar to the application you are viewing. In this case, the next most popular technology similar to WordPress is Joomla.
Want to see the biggest sites using a particular piece of technology? Click on the Top Sites list on the application page.
Get a Glimpse of a Website’s Search Engine Optimization
If you want to check out a website’s SEO information, click on the SEO Profile tab. This will give you a little analysis of basic SEO elements such as your title tag, meta description, H1 heading tag, common keywords (as shown in the pie chart above), image ALT tags, website speed, and social bookmarking stats on Facebook & Delicious. It also gives you an overall score plus a score of where your website ranks compared to others. Apparently 57% is a good score if 97% of other websites score below that!
Keeping an eye on what the future holds in its palm is key to growing your business and reaching out to new audiences. Trends will continue to change directions. And if you aren’t ready to embrace the upcoming developments, you can easily lose the race. As we proceed into 2012, it’s highly essential that you become cognizant of the top digital marketing trends.
Given below are four key trends that you’ll need to watch in 2012, so that you can make your digital marketing efforts fruitful and elevate your business to new heights.
#1. Location, Location, Location!
Location-based marketing (LBM) is one of the top trends in the digital marketing arena, as the year 2012 continues to unfold. Focusing on delivering content (instantly usable information) to the user should always remain a high priority, if you’re really serious about generating more leads as well as staying ahead of the competition. With the ever-increasing population of mobile device users, delivering content to consumers based on their location becomes even more important.
The biggest benefit of location-specific marketing is that you can immediately increase the rate of conversion for your business. To improve your location-based marketing, you can follow these tips.
Buy country-specific domain names (.co.uk for UK, .com.au for Australia etc)
Create a mobile-friendly version of your website
Use Facebook ads to target audience by demographics, interests etc
Master the usage of free tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc
Use services like foursquare and Gowalla to engage consumers
Don’t forget to claim your Google Places page (Google Places Optimization)
#2. Video Advertising Leads the Way
According to a recent report by emarketer, online video advertising spend in the US will cross the $3 billion mark in 2012. Online video marketing is an emerging trend due to two major reasons – better reach and better measurement. Since more than 1.3 billion videos are watched in the US per day, video advertising happens to be a rich medium to establish an emotional connection with consumers, engage them quickly and achieve a higher conversion.
#3. Gamification Drives Social Momentum
Yes, it’s not just the latest fad. Though adopting this marketing approach depends on the kind of business you run, gamification can present some of the most potential opportunities you wouldn’t want to miss. To get started with it, you should first of all get the concept pretty clear in your mind. Gamification is not entirely similar to games. In fact, the concept that underlies the term is the application of gaming principles to non-game experiences in an effort to drive social momentum among the audiences. Several brands have gamified their marketing strategies to engage customers (by offering incentives) and provoke them to take action. Start-ups can benefit from this concept the most.
#4. Privacy Concerns are Growing
User privacy is another burning issue that digital marketers should pay careful attention to. Today, consumers are more vigilant about the usage of their personal data by businesses. Whether you’re an advertising agency, a retailer, a trader or an OS creator, you can never keep consumers in the dark about how you’re going to handle their personal data. The more knowledge and control (over personal data) you provide, the more trust you can gain from users.
There are many more trends that you’ll need to watch out for, to bolster your digital marketing strategy further. What’s really important, however, is that you don’t get distracted while getting the basics right.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on other upcoming trends in digital marketing. The comment section is all yours.
Monday Youtube announced the mega site hit a milestone – 60 hours of video is uploaded every minute, up 30% in the last 8 months. Surprisingly this milestone was less than the company’s goal of 72 hours, but regardless is quite astonishing. Along with this milestone, Youtube humorously developed OneHourPerSecond.com showing you exactly what can be done in various lengths of time visually. It’s worth a watch.
With a days worth of video (24 hours) uploaded every 24 seconds it can be worrisome for marketers. Will your video stand out? How can you capture viewers attention? Is it even worth it? These are growing questions, only made the more clear by Youtube’s recent announcement.
So what are marketers to do in 2012? What does 2012 have in store for video marketing? Here are a few tips and blog posts to help you put together your video marketing plan for this year.
1.) Use Insights for Audience to see what interests your demographic and what they like to do on Youtube.
2.) Build greater audiences with the creators playbook on Youtube, full of tips and best practices.
3.) Make use of these 29 tips from experts on how to better integrate video into your marketing efforts this year.
4.) Try your hand at a video tutorial. Using a program like Camstudio you can take an otherwise boring tutorial and turn it into an easy video.
5.) Next time you do keyword research see if any long tail terms come up that you could turn into a video. Make a goal to identify, research, plan and shoot a new video every quarter, to address some of the questions or keyword phrases you found in your research.
6.) Consider doing a series of videos and knocking them out all in one sitting. For instance – arrange to interview a few experts. Book a space to shoot the video and capture them all in the same day. Then promote them as a series to build momentum and encourage regular visits to your blog as well as increase in email opt ins.
7.) Remind yourself that it’s not too late to get into this whole video marketing “thing”. With a flip cam and a few hours to burn, you can turn a seemingly simple idea into one that transforms beautifully on film. When you think of content start thinking about video too.
8.) Cisco predicts that by 2015 almost 80% of all internet traffic will be video. That’s quite astonishing when you think about it. Video communication isn’t a new concept, but due to the increased availability of video compatible devices (including iPhone 4S) video has become all the more popular. Frame Concepts names video as one of the hot marketing trends of 2012. They suggesting thinking about running customer events via video or even producing a video newsletter, a pretty cool concept!
9.) Check out these creative tips for video marketing newbies, this video highlighting how Realtors can use video in 2012.
10.) Attention spans are getting shorter, as pointed out in this post by Omaha Video Solutions. All the more reason to shake things up and start saying the same message but in a different format – with video.
11.) 3D is gaining momentum and can take a dull and boring video project and make it into something a lot more exciting. Realistic, creative and interesting video is a thing of the future. While it might not be in your 2012 plans, it is something to consider if you look to take your video marketing to the next level anytime soon.
12.) As more and more people use handheld devices to access the internet it’s important for websites to cater to this growing trend. Optimizing your website for mobile and optimizing your video for mobile is extremely important.
What do you think about video marketing in 2012? If you have additional feedback to share feel free to do so, in the comments below!
Regular readers probably know the following two things about me:
First, I’m a big fan of guest blogging contests. Not only do I like the fact that they give participants an opportunity to win cash and all kinds of great prizes, but I also think they’re a great opportunity for a writer to be exposed to a new audience. Whether a writer is an active blogger or someone who owns a business, a guest blogging contest can connect them with readers that may have otherwise never known about them.
Second, I recently launched MySEOCommunity.com. Because it brings together everything that I’ve been working on for the past few years, I view it as “my baby.” Although I’m well aware that it’s not the Internet’s first SEO community, I think that it has several features that set it apart from the rest. You can read about the community’s unique features on its About page.
As a result of my love of guest blogging contests and the launch of MySEOCommunity, it’s only logical that we’re celebrating the launch of the site with a new guest blogging contest:
Since a great SEO guest blogging contest has to feature a great 1st prize, the maddest SEO scientist in this contest gets $1,000 in cash and a lifetime premium membership to MyBlogGuest.
If you check out the official announcement, you will see that the prizes for the contest’s other winners aren’t too shabby. In fact, this contest has over $2,000 in total cash prizes, as well as some other awesome goodies from all of our sponsors!
If you’ve participated in any of our other guest blogging contests, you know there are two parts to the recipe for success:
-Write a killer post
-Promote the heck out of it and interact with the post’s audience
Since the new site is all about community, we’re really emphasizing the social aspect of this contest. So, not only will you want to Tweet your post out once it’s published, but you will want to engage with everyone who leaves a comment on it. Additionally, if readers start discussing it on channels like Google +, be sure to interact with them there as well.
The deadline for this contest is March 5th, so it’s time for you to head to your lab and start cooking up an amazing post!
And a huge thanks to all of the sponsors who made this contest possible:
Next Digital is Asia/Pacific’s largest full-service digital agency. They specialise in creative, marketing, strategy and technology, leading the new digital age to discover what’s next! Digital Marketing
WordStream, provider of ppc software and a better Google Keyword tool
Search Engine Marketing Group SEO Link Building services
Julie Joyce www.LinkFishMedia.com
Doc Sheldon The Clinic
Create amazing blog using our Awesome Thesis Child Themes
A professional website design copmany Helping you create a unique brand image
ShellShock UK Content Strategy Link Building aka Content Marketing
Ash Buckles www.SEO.com
Brian Waraksa Houston Internet marketing
Jacob Share Group Writing Projects
Ajeet Khurana About the Web
The people at Top Web Design Schools, a directory of web related college programs
Customer Paradigm Magento Developers
BestGardenGifts.com Best Garden Gifts
HotTubVariety.com Hot Tub Reviews
EarthCareGreenhouses.com Wholesale Greenhouses
GoGardenGuides.com Home & Garden Social Bookmarking
USA Greenhouse Store Greenhouses
Bob Jones Perth SEO
NewsPuff.com News Puff
MiniGreenhouseKits.com Commercial Greenhouses Supplies
OurCrazyDeals.com Our Crazy Deals
www.Zoomit.com Canadian News
David Leonhardt SEO Ottawa
John McElborough SEO Agency
Contest Media Partners
Free Blogengage Account $29.95 Value blogengage.com
Ana Hoffman www.TrafficGenerationCafe.com/
Non-cash SEO Prizes
David Harry A full years membership at SEO Dojo, a value of $250.SEO Training Dojo
Lifetime membership to: My Blog Guest. MyBlogGuest.com is the free guest post exchange community where users meet to exchange guest posts and network.
Link-Assistant.Com SEO PowerSuite Enterprise (max. functionality license) SEO tools
SEMrush.com – the best tool to spy on your competitors ($210 value) www.semrush.com
WebSEOAnalytics.com 1 Year subscription to their Professonal SEO tools
www.Hostgator.com 1 Year Business web hosting
Last week I posted about all the annoying things people do that make me wish I had never accepted their friend request in the first place. Of course, I’d be a hypocrite to say that I have the social media thing down perfectly. In fact, if I’m truthful with myself and to all you guys—well I pretty much suck in respect to social networks.
Don’t believe me? Here, let me point the spotlight back on myself and uncover all the annoying things I do.
I Talk Too Much about My Kids
Before I had my own, I despised when friends would fill my feed with updates on their kids. Why? Because let’s be honest here—no one cares about your kids other than yourself. Yet here I am with back to back posts about my daughter and our experience with her toddler bed. Me<–hypocrite.
I Get Pissed off about Sports
Okay, so lots of people like football (and sports in general). And perhaps you follow certain people on Twitter to get updates. For example, I follow @houstontexans to get score reports in case I can’t see the games. But let’s be honest, no one wants their Facebook newsfeed clogged with some drunken buffoon (me) bitching about his team for 3 hours straight. Take a look:
I Post Inside Jokes to Get on the Radio
Why are they called “inside jokes?” Because outside of the people you are speaking directly to, no one gets what the hell is going on. Not exactly a great way to make friends (“secrets don’t make friends”). Well, I listen to a local station here in Houston, 1560 the Game, and I constantly tweet the show in an effort to have mine read on air. Lame, I know. So everyone outside of the hosts I’m tweeting to have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m surprised they haven’t given me the boot yet (some have).
I Don’t Stick to My Word
We all make promises, but few of us keep them. Count me in the few. This past summer, I did a guest post for Search Engine Journal explaining what to do when you run out of ideas for business blog posts. The post itself was pretty good, I must admit…but at the end, I made a promise. See for yourself:
Guess how many times I tweeted out post ideas? Ummmm… 3, maybe 4. Did people start following me after this post? Sure. I gained a few new tweeps (I hate when people say “tweeps”). But what did they get in return? A few good ideas mixed in with all of the above. Poor guys.
Is It Too Late for a New Year’s Resolution?
So now what? I realize I’m not the best follow or friend. Do I vow to make a change? I suppose I could. But let’s be honest here: leopards don’t change their spots. And truth be told, I’m probably not going to quit doing what I do in respect to social networking. At this point, it’s not important enough for me to try.
So why did I post this? For you to learn from my mistakes. You want to be an interesting follow? Want to use your social media accounts to pull in business? Do the exact opposite of what I’ve shown you in this post and you can!
Do you have any annoying Twitter or Facebook habits? Be honest—share them!
Oh, and also, if you want to put up with my crap, give me a follow on twitter: @chris_HELP
I love Question & Answer sites for two reasons. First of all, they allow you to build your authority in almost any niche by letting you demonstrate your expertise on any given topic to those who are seeking answers. Second, they provide a hotbed for discovering popular topics to write about on your blog. The following ten Q&A networks should have questions for people seeking to answer them in any niche.
If you have a LinkedIn profile, you’re already set to participate in LinkedIn Answers. This professional network covers categories ranging from Administration to Technology, including Blogging, Internet Marketing, and Search Marketing. Those whose answers are selected as the best answer have the chance to be listed as the category experts.
Tips to maximize your LinkedIn Answers experience include:
- Be sure to complete your LinkedIn profile prior to participating & make sure it is public. This way anyone who enjoys your answers can learn more about you and head on over to your website! Pay particular attention to creating a crafty headline as this will be shown next to your name when you answer questions.
- If you have a blog post that supports an answer you give, add it as a web resource.
- Great answers can lead to job opportunities, clients, and leads, so make your answers count!
Tips to maximize your Quora experience include:
- Filling out your profile. This includes adding links within your bio information to your website and top social profiles so people can check out your website.
- When you follow a topic, go back to your profile and click on the Topics link. Then add a quick blurb for each topic in the “Describe your experience” area. This will be added next to your name when you answer questions within that topic.
Tips to maximize your Focus experience include:
- Fill out your profile completely. Your job title will be listed next to your name when you answer questions. Your profile also allows you two dofollow links, so choose them wisely.
- You can add links to your answers as well – just paste in the full URL and it will be hyperlinked automatically.
When you think of Q&A networks, Stack Overflow may not come to mind at first. But with 8.1 million unique visitors per month, it should. Their community is mostly focused towards developers and programmers, but it does include questions tagged with SEO, SEO Friendly, and Social Networking.
Tips to maximize your Stack Overflow experience include:
- Subscribe to your favorite question tags via RSS. That way you can keep up with new questions without having to visit the site daily.
- Prepare to talk to a very technical audience as most of these people are developers, not Internet marketers.
While the Yahoo Answers community is not always professional, it is still the Q&A network whose questions get featured in search results often. Hence it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on the Search Engine Optimization category to see if there are good questions to answer.
Tips to maximize your Yahoo Answers experience include:
- Get your 250 points early by answering easy questions. Once you get 250 points, you reach Level 2 and can add links to your answers. Before you reach Level 2, your links will not be active.
- People seem to prefer cartoon avatars over actual photos. You’ll be in the minority if you put a real pic on your account.
Do you use Q&A networks? What other networks would you suggest for helping build authority, find blog topic ideas, and building links?
Over the past few days I’ve done a bit of research for an upcoming post on SearchEngineWatch.com, brainstorming ideas on how brands can use Pinterest. In the end I found there are 5 or so industries that hands down should be using Pinterest for some of their social media marketing efforts. Whether it’s to help sell products or services, this new social networking site can be put to good use. Let’s examine these 5 industries.
When I first started exploring the site a few months ago my immediate thought was – wow this would be a great site for someone planning a wedding and that’s exactly what I’m using it for. My baby sister is getting married soon and as the maid-of-honor it’s my duty to keep her up on all the hip wedding trends, but when you live 1,000+ miles away that can be difficult. That’s where Pinterest comes in. She and I share our ideas on a board and look to other boards for ideas. Simple and painless – well sort of. This whole wedding planning thing is stressful!
Creating inspiration boards to establish your wedding style is all the rage. Imagine as a wedding dress designer, photographer, jewelry designer, event planner, caterer, baker, etc… using the site for something similar but to cater to your customer or prospects needs. Brides can repin your pins, click through to your website and purchase your products or services. Anyone in the wedding industry really should consider using Pinterest.
Arts & Crafts
If you’re in the business of selling handmade items or art then Pinterest is perfect for you! Similar to Etsy, Pinterest allows users to browse products in their gift category section. Upload your wares and start selling – but not through the Pinterest site. You’ll need your own storefront or Etsy shop in order to accept payments and deal with those details. Pinterest is just a way to showcase your talents and let others see the products you want to sell. Simply add “$” to the Pin description and Pinterest will place your content in the gift category, along with a nice banner illustrating the price of your item. It’s that easy!
The fashion industry is ripe with competition which makes it all the more important to have your style stand out. If you’re a clothing designer, stylist, clothing buyer, personal shopper, style editor or fashion blogger then Pinterest is perfect for you! The site allows you to show off your style in a clean and elegant way, which in turn can help you sell your own services or products. Connect with others that have similar styles and position yourself for opportunities to collaborate with others.
Travel & Hospitality
The travel and hospitality industry relies heavily on appearance. With Pinterest travel agents can set the mood for your next excursion by creating vacation inspiration boards full of fabulous pictures from the area or highlighting activities you can do when you get there. Additionally, a hotel could create similar inspiration boards, enticing web visitors to plan their next vacation. A spa might have photos of the area, activities around town, lodging and of course photos of spa services. It’s all about telling a story and Pinterest can help you do that if you’re in the travel & hospitality industry.
Last but certainly not least is the real estate industry. Selling a property takes a lot of effort, so why not make it easier on yourself by pinning photos of a featured real estate property? Take it a few steps further and pin photos of the area, the local school, areas of interest around town, community areas, or even pictures of possible upgrades the prospective homeowner can make to the home. Help to create a sense of what the home will look like after they’ve purchased it and prospective buyers can start to see themselves actually living there.
Well that makes 5 industries that should be using Pinterest. Have more to suggest to our readers? Add to the comments below!