No doubt by now you would have heard of the black hat search engine optimization (SEO) tactics JC Penny’s pursued in order to be ranked well for various search terms particularly in planning for the 2010 holiday season. The news was uncovered by the New York Times in quite a bit of detail.
Their investigation found thousands of unrelated web sites in the retail industry were linking JCPenny.com. The process was done by linking very specific keywords and based on the detail of these links someone planned this process. While JC Penny’s SEO company was apparently fired for this incident, I find it difficult to believe that someone at JC Penny would not have known about this strategy.
Let’s start from the beginning and take a look at linking strategies post Google going public in 2004 and serious algorithm changes that took place in 2005 and beyond. There are a number of data points that Google monitors about a website and the individual web pages within the website. Ultimately it is about a web page, not a web site, therefore, any page can become ranked and any page can become an entry point for a visitor. This would then require you to re-think the call to action if your home page is no longer the entry point.
This first begins with how relevant a web page is relative to the search. This would include your Title tag, the meta Description of a page, and the visible text. The three parts have to work together in order to show a certain level of keyword density on a topic. You will notice I did not say anything about meta keywords as those have become less important over the years since companies can hide what they are really about in the meta keywords versus what they are displaying to the rest of the world.
The next major point would be about the web pages importance. This is determined through the number of web pages linking to your website or web pages. The more links the better. At least that was the original thought until website owners decided to buy links cheaply without doing any work. These links have several sub-components including if the site that is linking to you is relevant to your topic and if that web page itself has any importance.
The process of trying to cheat yourself into the top of a Google search is considered “black hat” optimization or SEO. Google has different ways of monitoring this process and is generally successful in locating the problem situations. Although, JC Penny’s situation was not caught until much later. Websites caught in this act are de-listed from Google and need to clean-up their act in order to get back into Google.
The short-term benefits of black hat SEO do not make any sense to the longevity of a business. It is better to focus your attention on developing real links from reputable websites and communities mostly using Content Marketing with articles, news releases, documents (e.g. Powerpoints), Videos, and Social Media. Aside from the obvious benefits of Content Marketing being a credible linking strategy, the benefits for brand reputation, brand credibility and brand awareness include:
• Traffic from Search Engines
• Traffic from Non-Search Engines
• Owning more search results using 3rd Party website where your content is distributed
Linking strategies are labor intensive and take time. This process also requires three types of linking that include:
• Direct Linking to website home page
• Direct Linking using targeted keywords
• Cross Linking distributed content
• Deep Linking inside of your web pages
This is one reason where Pay Per Click advertising using Adwords becomes beneficial in order to generate short term results while the organic results are being executed through content marketing.
While we can continue to talk about JC Penny’s debacle using cheap black hat optimization tricks that has back fired, as well as, linking strategies, let’s focus a little on the New York Times article itself.
You will notice I am not linking to that article in this writing. Frankly, I refuse to! I do not wish to add a link giving that article any further importance on the web because within the article it is linking directly to all the black hat optimization websites. I am sure I could write an article strictly on the ethical linking policies required by major publications, however, we’ll see if we can get the point across in fewer words.
As an owner of a web marketing agency I took the time to read the entire article meticulously to understand what was written. Mind you I have over 17 years Internet experience with two successful companies and my knowledge is quite deep.
What I am surprised at, considering the writer’s newly gained knowledge about linking strategies, is why would the New York Times setup active links to the companies providing such horrible service from this article (meaning coming from nytimes.com domain) and give them any value, benefit, and support?
In this case:
• Page 1 all the links in the last paragraph to black hat optimization link building farms
• Page 2 link to SearchDex who was fired by JC Penny
• Page 3 links to TNX, cookingutensils and Cocaman.ch who are engaged in these black hat linking building schemes
Why would the New York Times support these companies with links to their websites? Are they planning on helping them further with their business by helping their ranking position? Afterall, NYTimes.com, as a domain, has a lot of power and links to websites from NYTimes.com will only help the destination website.
What ethical policies are in place at the New York Times when it comes to linking to a website?
Of course I submitted this question to the New York Times and am currently waiting on a reply, which will be posted here should it ever arrive.
The Internet is a living breathing marketing tool that has no end point. You cannot perform a certain amount of work and expect the work to provide you millions of dollars next week nor will the one time work or expenditure give you longevity. As a business you have to plan on continued web efforts using all facets of web marketing, which is a multi-directional strategy.
Afterall, something that came up in a client meeting recently, “We will stop your optimization efforts when the search engines stop changing algorithms and technologies!” Yeah, that will be the day.
Certainly your time resources are limited and our team can assist with a deep understanding of organic marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), local business marketing, proper adword management, social media and many other Internet marketing strategies. Local Business Listing Optimization Services are provided by SmartFinds Internet Marketing, a Internet Marketing agency.
We learned recently that information submitted to the micro-blog, Twitter.com, does not continually remain on Twitter.com. Since postings on Twitter are eliminated over time, then Twitter may not be considered an effective long- term content marketing tool for your Internet marketing strategy. Instead, it might better fall into the category of short-term Internet advertising.
The general concept of Content Marketing is to post information throughout the Web in such a way that the work being performed will have a shelf life of years. Information posted on the Internet, for the most part, requires labor. Nothing is very automated about this posting process; yet, the significant benefit is the ability to garner traffic from these postings through a variety of sources over the long term. Content Marketing tasks can be reduced after time and even after these efforts are reduced or ceased, you should still continue to see viral benefits.
If we compare this to Internet advertising, the general routine is that as long as you have money for your an ad, the ad will help drive traffic to your Web site. If the money stops, then the ad disappears and the traffic from the ad stops.. For this reason, Internet advertising does not have a shelf life and is generally a short term response. Internet advertising is not very labor intensive.
Twitter, on the other hand, appears to be a labor intensive social media marketing tool which requires ongoing labor to maintain a presence with your posts. For something considered to be a “blog” of sorts, we have to wonder if this process really benefits a content marketing strategy.
As an example, in our Twitter account we saved two different searches. One for our company name “smartfinds” and the other for a very popular article we wrote about the “court of the people”. Both had postings indexed by Google and we could see the number of interested Twitter members grow. Unaware that this information may come down from Twitter, we did not pay close attention, onlyto occasionally check our saved Twitter searches.
Recently, we checked these saved Twitter searches and found they all had zero response. This was quite a surprise for a labor intensive process. The Google indexed pages are still intact; however, they link to a blank Twitter page without the content. This would not benefit us with Google searches and eventually Google will remove the listings as well.
Our recommendation is for Twitter to re-consider its policies and keep postings for content marketing purposes. Twitter currently acts as a short term response Web site for current activity. This and relationship building can be accomplished from a variety of other sources on the Web where the content continues to stay. Without any long term benefits of the posted information, why would one want to Twitter as part of a viral content marketing strategy?
In an age of constant noise of information, how can any company expect to cut through and reach consumers in a meaningful way to become a trusted brand? The answer may seem a bit strange, but to cut through the noise of information you will need more information? Yes, more information!
It may seem counter intuitive to fight the noise of information by adding to what’s already out there, but information’s is among the most valuable tools in any marketing strategy. And in order to deliver effective information, you have to listen first. What is the market saying about your industry, your products or your services? Understanding through listening will help you target your information to meet the market interest.
In fact, listening is the basis of trust in relationships, be they business or personal. Listening enables you to determine what information will be most valuable and relevant to your customers. That information, then, becomes the key to building trusted relationships. Listening is accomplished through research from everyone about keywords being typed into the search engines to discussions in forums and social communities.
The new marketing isn’t about self-promotion; it’s about giving customers what they need to become educated consumers. This is the age of:
- Information marketing,
- Education marketing,
- Content marketing
If you want customers to see your brand as a trusted information source, you need to think like an information provider, not just a provider of goods or services. By empowering customers with relevant news and information, a company becomes one-half of a trusted relationship.
So, what are some methods for you to distribute information through content marketing on the Internet? First we would recommend reviewing a previous post on our blog related to Content Marketing here. Content Marketing is not directly about your website, but rather what is happening overall within your business and industry sector. This is a communications art and outreach effort that does not involve direct selling, but is rewarded with sales and loyalty. Content Marketing is a supportive method of selling via quality, relevant and valuable information which:
- Educates your customers
- Shows your authority in your field
- Allows prospects to find you through multiple sources
Your brand is what people read about and talk about online. Isn’t it better to be part of shaping the conversation?
The Internet went “boom” right around 1995. Why did the Internet become increasingly accessible and desirable around 1995? There are a variety of reasons. For one, people became more comfortable using the Internet because it started to have the more familiar ‘look and feel’ of television. Also, Windows 95 helped make the process of getting an Internet connection easier. The old days of the Internet only being text and then, moving to something more visually appealing was certainly a big factor.
People who were aged 10, 15 and 20 years old in 1995 are today aged 24, 29 and 34 years, respectively. If we think about today’s 24 to 34 year olds, we realize they all grew up with the Internet as an integral part of their life. In addition, this age range is now, on average, in the beginning of their career or in middle management in their career. Certainly, this target audience is a key market segment and reaching this digitally-minded group requires a strategic, digital approach.
A business executive of any “C” level will likely delegate to this age range, or employee level for vendor research on a particular service. This age range is not likely to look in the yellow pages, or a traditional hard copy trade magazine, or necessarily be enthusiastic about a direct mail piece. The more likely sources for the vendor service research by this age range will include:
- Search Engines using keywords
- Social Communities (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook)
- Their peers on the Web looking for feedback
When the initial research is complete; and they have made contact for a proposal, their recommendation(s) to the executive will come from what they were able to find on the Internet. If your business is not engaged on the Internet beyond having a brochure Web site, you may find it difficult to get in front of this audience. Internet marketing is not only about having a Web site, but also engaging the Internet community through content marketing.
Content marketing is about distributing your information by posting (not advertising) a variety of types of electronic information. This will include articles, news releases, videos, photos, podcasts, e-newsletters, and social community marketing to name a few. It is a process that uses editorial content as a means of advertising. It is a process that shows you are an authority in your industry through a variety of locations on the Internet.
The three factors that will help get you in front of this age range will include the following. (Please keep in mind there are many details associated with each of the three below. We are presenting a summary of these items and can further describe details if you wish to send to us a DM (“direct message”, a Twitter acronym).
Visually Appealing Web site
The visual appearance of your Web site will need to have current design and technology built within to grab the attention of this age range. Certainly the flow of your Web site, along with the structure, layout, features and functionality need to be included too. If your Web site has not been updated in some time, you may wish to look into developing a new site. Please consider having a new Web site developed, not a new brochure. Engage the audience.
Technically Effective Web Site
In order for your Web site to be ranked organically for keywords being searched, you have to achieve a Web site that is technically effective. Insuring your Web site code is W3C compliant will be a good start. Server files along with proper header tags in your HTML code are also important. Follow this with content relevant pages for the search engines in which the meta data and the visual text work together.
Content Marketing (your outreach program)
In addition to the above description of content marketing, consider the following. Imagine going to the magazine racks in a book store. Now imagine an editorial feature or listing about your business within every magazine on the racks. Not just in a trade journal, but in every publication on the magazine racks.
Content marketing can help achieve this type of broad coverage on the Internet. When people search for terms related to your business segment, your ‘trade journal’ listing appears by having your Web site appear in the search results. The Internet’s trade journal is based on the search results for a specific term. For this reason, your content has to be distributed as widely as possible to increase the probability of someone finding your information – regardless of where they may be searching. Social community marketing is a type of content marketing and is included in this process.
If we change our paradigm and consider the “Internet boomer” audience as an integral part of our marketing strategy, we will increase the number of prospects our business will reach. We are also more likely to increase the geography from which our prospects will find us. The demographic that we need to target, as part of our marketing strategy, has changed. It is imperative for a business to change how it is reaching prospects. There is a reality that the traditional approach is not as effective as it once was because of this age range that has grown up with the Internet.
The other day at a prospective client presentation, we provided the client with metrics, analytics and additional information about their Internet presence. Included in the data were insights into their keyword ranking, competitor analysis and brand review on the Internet. Toward the end of the meeting, one of the attendees commented, “We didn’t know what we didn’t know!” This comment certainly caught everyone’s attention and brings to light a worthwhile consideration, “What don’t you know about your Internet presence?”
The amount of data available about a company’s Internet presence, brand, Web site, and competitors is staggering. Tapping into this publicly available data is only half the battle. Interpreting this information in a manner that helps a business grow and increases revenue is the most critical component. I believe the latter motivated the client to comment “We didn’t know what we didn’t know.”
- What are your Internet metrics? In other words, how does the Internet community perceive your Web site? The basic components of this data would include – but are not limited to, your Google Page Rank, your Traffic Rank, and your link popularity at each of the major search engines.
- What are your competitor’s Internet metrics?
- What is your ranking for your selected keywords?
- How many searches and competing Web pages exist for these keywords?
- Are there additional keywords to consider which provide a balance between high searches and lower competition?
- If you type in your company name or a variation of your company name into a search, what are the results? What about typing in your domain name?
(This is all publicly available data that does not require access to your Web site statistics or Webmaster Tools.)
After gathering the information, the next, most critical step is to interpret the data to determine which Internet strategy will best benefit your business.
It is important to understand the process is about more than your Web site; Ensuring your Web site is technically effective, that your pages have relevant content, and that keyword landing pages are developed is only part of the equation. Many businesses quickly flock to spending too much time on their Web site and adding pages, without realizing they also need an outreach program outside of their Web site on the Internet to truly affect their Internet metrics and analytics.
Enlisting a content marketing program along with developing a technically effective Web site coincides for a cohesive strategy. Doing one without the other does not produce the desired results. Here’s a brief look into both elements:
Web Site Technical Effectiveness
Most of the technical requirements are within the Web site and on the server. We’re talking about sitemaps, having W3C compliant code, link title descriptions and image descriptions to mention a few. Then there is content relevancy which involves tailoring the written content so search engines can identify a Web page’s authority on a search topic.
If you want to start by setting up your website’s sitemap, check out the sitemap generator from XML Sitemaps.
For this conversation, let’s define content marketing as “the convergence of editorial and advertising, using multiple formats that allows for viral distribution to raise awareness about your business and Web site.” When we talk about content marketing, we’re talking about posting information that will have a shelf life of years.
Content marketing is about establishing your business as an authority on a topic or multiple topics relevant to your business, products, services, and industry.
Content items may include articles, news releases, photos, PowerPoint presentations, social media marketing, and videos, to name a few. As this information is distributed, you are increasing the critical mass of information about your business.
What Don’t You About Your Internet Presence?
If we consider your Web site and the amount of Internet information that is available about your Web site, how much of this are you aware of? Do you know how the Internet community perceives your Web site? Take a look at your metrics or share your feedback, and let us help you interpret this data.
Considering that “Content is King” on the web, it’s important to gauge how wide of a net is being cast through your Content Marketing efforts. Is the content you are distributing of interest to the rest of the world? Does it have viral possibilities?
Perhaps your strategy is to circulate positive information about your company as a digital public relations tool. Or maybe you’re working to promote specific products and services. Whatever your objective, the starting point is the same: research. Your research will help ensure your content is found under the right circumstances, as well as angled toward the areas in which people are most interested.
Your Products and Services Strategy
When beginning the keyword selection process for a web site, many of our clients initially gravitate to words which they personally associate with their business. Their first response tends to be, “we are currently ranked number one for this particular term or terms.” As part of our early research, SmartFinds Internet Marketing identifies how many people are actually searching the term(s) – and more often than not, we find there are no searches – or not a very significant number of searches.
Of course, the more meaningful data comes from our identifying which types of term(s) are actually being searched relative to a client’s products or services. The old days of guessing which keyword term(s) will bring results are gone. All three major search engines and many other resources can help you zero in on viable keyword choices. Terminologies, monthly search volumes and number of competing web pages are all data points that are available.
Use this research when developing your content for articles and news releases – as well as postings for social media marketing. The research is also valuable in determining how to strategically tag and describe your videos and photos. Furthermore, your analysis will assist you with terminologies for your web site and in developing landing pages.
One interesting situation which raises issues is when the world is seeking your business products and services in one way, yet you want to be known in another way. The business focus will need to lean towards bringing the traffic to your web site; and then, educate the visitors towards your focus. One good example of this is “dental benefits” versus “dental insurance.” Most dental coverage is legally known as “dental benefits,” but the consumer market seeks this information out as “dental insurance.”
Using Content Marketing for Business Digital Public Relations
Business digital public relations are all about your company name and your company’s domain name. There is less research required in this process since both items are easily located. The process begins by going to the major search engines and typing your company name in quotes to see what the results display.
The questions to ask and answer about these results are:
- Are they positive or negative about your company?
- How much of this information is on 3rd party web sites?
Ideally we are not looking for those listings on your own web site, but on others. Prospects are typically more interested in what is on third party web sites than what is on your own web site. (Similar to how a magazine article about your business might be of more influence than your company brochure.)
- Does the information support your sales team when they drop off a proposal with a prospect?
You may find that there are other companies that have similar names; or there is other information unrelated to your business creating content noise that does not support your business. Inconsistent information about your business or neutral responses will not support your sales team.
Take the next step in this exercise by entering a search of your domain name in quotes. We find that companies may have more information on the web about their company name and significantly less with their domain name link. It is imperative that the two reach similar volume over time in order to build the story around your business.
The idea now is to develop content around articles, news releases, videos, photos, social media communities that is all about your business name and with your domain name as the link.
Stay tuned to this SmartFinds Digest; and we will tackle benefits, measurement and search engine ranking effects of content marketing. You can visit our recent post about content distribution at this link.
For now here is an exercise you can perform yourself. Do you know how much information exists on the Internet about your business? Have you performed a search at the major search engines on your company name? What about a search on your domain name? Now compare that to your competitors. Tell us what you found!
The Internet has created an environment in which institutional control of the order of information has been lost. As a result, order and the control of information have trickled down to the individual level. Imagine the transition from several thousand companies once controlling messages through traditional media, to today’s expansive communication via several million individuals free to distribute their own information on the Internet.
Welcome to the “court of the people.” This court of the people’s currency is emotion. The one with the most amount of emotion will spread their word about a company, a product, a service very quickly throughout hundreds of web sites. When a customer’s emotions are negative, of course, this becomes problematic. The web sites which a dissatisfied customer can post to includes blogs, forums, complaint communities, and social communities at large
Certainly one can argue that this process aids in identifying scams and locating others that have experienced the same scams. Allowing the individual to post their experience on the web will bring people together from different parts of the world to help stop predators seeking financial gain on the backs of others.
While the court of the people has a legitimate and positive aspect, for large corporations operating with products and services to consumers, it can become an Internet public relations nightmare. For this reason, it becomes important to perform ongoing monitoring and continual management of the information through thousands of web sites. Unlike traditional media, information that is posted on the Internet has a shelf life of years, can be easily found through search engines, and continues to shape customer opinion.
What options do businesses have in this new age of Internet public relations? A passive approach towards the “court of the people” will not provide a long term solution as negative information builds exponentially. An active Internet public relations strategy will be necessary and one that not only monitors brands, products and services, but also develops relationships with the consumer through social media marketing.
You may have heard that “Content Is King” on the Internet. The statement is 100% accurate. Content Marketing through content development and content distribution will become one of the methods of active Internet public relations strategy. Content marketing can be defined as “the convergence of editorial and advertising using multiple formats that allows for viral distribution to raise awareness about your business and web site.” Content types range from articles, news releases, video, photos, social media postings and much more. How much information is posted on the Internet about your company, your domain name, your products and your services? How wide of a net has been cast with this content?
Another Internet public relations strategy is relationship building through social media marketing. Social Media Marketing strategies allow businesses to engage the consumer at the time that they are asking questions, posting opinion, or seeking help. Most companies do not have a strategy for social media, rather a peripheral approach. A strategy that focuses on the business objectives, monitoring tools, and analyzing results will develop relationships between the brand and the consumer; and, supports the sales process. The process of a social media marketing strategy can also tie into a business’s customer relationship management (CRM) system.
So, where does Internet advertising fit into this process? When it comes to the Internet public relations, there really isn’t any room for advertising. Internet advertising is best suited for product launches, events, internet value offers and other promotions that support the direct sales process. One has to also consider that Internet advertising has a shelf life of a few seconds and provides no longer term benefit when it comes to your Internet public relations strategy.
Content marketing to post information through multiple methods will give you a proactive position for any negative publicity. Social media marketing for relationship building will support any current customer questions, opinions, help as well as sales. Circumventing the “court of the people” will support your brand objectives with an active Internet public relations strategy. Does your company have one?
The volume of content in the digital marketplace has been growing exponentially over the past few years. Individuals, social communities and businesses are all discovering how powerful content, article and news press release writing can be as part of their digital marketing efforts. Still, it can be challenging to find staff with time to physically manage the process of developing and distributing content about your business. This may leave you wondering, “Who really has time for content distribution?” This discussion helps identify reasons why finding time for content development and distribution truly matters.
First, let’s consider that in order for the search engines to provide responses to users’ search requests, there must be content that is indexed from web pages. The importance of content has been a reality since the commercialization of the Internet in the early 1990s; and while much has evolved in regards to search engine optimization (SEO), it remains important for a business to distribute content to increase visibility and promotion of their web site. Just having your web site has not been sufficient for a few years.
Imagine the steps associated with Content Distribution as a collective outreach program to let people and the search engines know about a web site. A good content distribution platform includes news networks, social communities, forums, blogs, video communities, cross-linking techniques, and a variety of search engine related strategies. This platform should be constantly refined and used across all digital advertising and marketing efforts.
In all of the above cases, the content which is posted (text, images, and videos) can be set up to carry a link back to a web site. The process is called “posting” and posted content has a shelf life of years. Look at any search engine; and, it will contain content that was posted to the Internet in the early 1990s. Posted content provides public relations and can help drive traffic to a specific web site from more places than just the search engines. The process also carries with it the possibility for viral or third party distribution of web site links.
If posting is done successfully, a business may consider their web site address to be “cast in stone.” Over a 12 month period, from direct efforts – as well as through viral and third party sources, a business web site may increase the number of links to their web site into the thousands. Direct staff may have posted to some places, while, others are created through the viral process, or through third party web sites seeking information beyond a business owner’s direct control. Each day, week, and month, the number of links grows even without a business owner’s direct input. The process does not have an end point, however generates exponential response.
In summary, while the distribution of content certainly does take time and is labor intensive, it produces results that are key components to successful web site marketing.
Are you currently engaged in content marketing? Are you realizing effective results? Let us know what’s working for you; and remember, if you need support with your content marketing efforts, SmartFinds Internet Marketing and our team of experienced writers can provide you with assistance.
Reflecting over the first quarter of 2009, I’ve spoken with small business owners, medium business owners, large global business leaders, brand managers, entrepreneurs, agency VPs, PR experts, client marketing executives, adverting executives, social media gurus, writers/bloggers and of course – IT and technical wizards – who all are energized and thirsty to move the needle forward.
Now that the second quarter is underway, are you maneuvering towards your goals and effectively moving the needle forward or just idling on fumes? With a sour economy still looming, budget cut hangovers are still pounding in everyone’s heads and resources are “busting-at-the-seams.” Yet, many savvy businesses are staying ahead of the competition by learning from and embracing the maturing “new media” technologies – cultivating well planned digital marketing, digital advertising and social strategies.
A well-executed digital strategy can drive businesses forward. Advertising can help you with the ability to connect with your target audience across multiple digital touch-points. Content marketing helps you become an authority on topics that will allow you to have “a shelf-life of years” out on the web. Social strategies can build one-to-one relationships that help your enterprise grow credibility and relevance over time. In addition, if done correctly a well-executed digital strategy can aide in building brand champions and hand raisers that facilitate your message – genuinely.
Traditional or poorly executed digital methods that lack effective measurability to track an accurate ROI can be painful. In addition, many times they can even fall short of providing valuable baseline data benchmarks and reliable consumer insights for future use.
Is New Media New?
So, when it comes to “new media”, is the media new or is it how the technology is maturing that is – in fact – new? It has matured – nicely – sort of, since I graduated from college nine years ago.
So Today, What Is New Media…?
For the later part of the 20th century, we can simply define new media as the emergence of networked information and digital communication technologies. When I was in college in the late nineties, I used every aspect of the web that was available at that time from early social communities (e.g. CollegeClub.com) to search engine research. (An MSU professor first told me of Google in 1999.)
Swingers (1996): "Our Little Baby's All Growns Up!"
New media today is “all growns up” Or is it? We continually see the maturation process happening on a daily basis. Content relevancy is rising and digital communication is flowing “over capacity” at times.
Twitter Over Capacity - Source: Twitter
Is digital a realistic approach for our brand?
We have a saying at SmartFinds, “We take a rational approach to an irrational medium,” which was coined by our colleague, Gene Brady, in the Fall of 2008. As is the case in any good creative, marketing, social or advertising strategy, the first step is developing a strategy based on solid business objectives and intense research – or “listening.”
Recently, I was talking with a friend about a social strategy and as I was speaking on this “listening” business he stated, “yeah, but you’re not actually “listening,” you or your marketing team is reading stuff on the Internet.” I said to him… “Shhh… listen…, with the expertise of our analysis software and technology tools, can’t you hear the sweet music of ones and zeroes playing 24-7?” Is your brand in harmony, out of tune or not even audible on the web?
Finally, don’t just throw your time or budget away!
Don’t think that you need to do everything at once. Develop your plan with solid business objectives. The new media flow begins with a review of the business objectives followed by – Research, Strategy and Planning to derive trustworthy marketing, advertising and/or social objectives.
For example, at a high level, approaching an effective digital marketing program requires:
Industry Research – In developing your strategy, we need to understand your business, your products and services to provide solid gap analysis to guide you to get the results you need and catapult you ahead of your competitors.
Market Research – We must answer all questions that will allow us to reach your target market. This includes analyzing items such as, key phrases searched, the volume of those searches and competition that is out there. We will also find websites, forums, blogs, communities, micro communities, et al. – to learn (“listen”) how your target audience uses the Internet.
Competition Research – We generate Internet metrics about your site with the public information such Page Rank, Traffic Rank, Link Popularity and Keyword Density. These metrics not only allow us to perform technical marketing (including SEO) but also give us guidelines and goals to reach for a content marketing campaign for sustained presence within the Internet community.
Competitor Research – You need to distinguish between Competitors and Competition online. Competitors are companies that provide the same products and services with the potential of acquiring business away from you. Competition – Any web page that happens to have the same keywords or phrases that are part of your content marketing campaign. Competition research gives us information why a certain web page is ranked, while Competitor research will help us identify how well the competitors are actually performing on the Internet.
Strategy Development – Analysis of the research data helps determine the type of content marketing needed. It helps to guide the changes needed on your website for visible text or the effectiveness of the campaign as your brand is marinating on the Internet.
Business Plan Development – Does the strategy have potential to increase revenues? How much revenue can it potentially increase short term and long term? Based the campaign objectives and your profit margins we can provide you with an estimate for the return on your investment into your own company.
Are you already embracing new media to help drive business forward? Need help getting started? What are some of the pain points in your business world today? Let us know what’s working for you or what questions you may have. Remember, at SmartFinds Internet Marketing, “We take a rational approach to an irrational medium; and we are dedicated to one thing: helping you drive business through Internet marketing.”
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You may have heard that “Content Is King” on the Internet. The statement is 100% accurate. The one with the most content and backlinks to their website wins. (The “and backlinks” statement is significant.)
Of course, developing and writing content is only the first step. Where and how to distribute your content is even more important! Consider this: If you post 1,000 content items on the Internet, but they are posted in a way that lacks viral capabilities, the reach will not expand and will be constrained within the 1,000 original websites. As a result, these content items do not provide much value. If, on the other hand, those same 1,000 posted content items virally find their way onto 100,000 websites, your business achieves a much bigger impact from the outreach effort.
Let’s dig into this process of content marketing. First, let’s define content marketing:
“The convergence of editorial and advertising using multiple formats that allows for viral distribution to raise awareness about your business and website.”
Content Marketing is not directly about your website, but rather what is happening overall within your business and industry sector. This is a communications art and outreach effort that does not involve direct selling, but is rewarded with sales and loyalty. Content Marketing is a supportive method of selling via quality, relevant and valuable information which:
- Educates your customers
- Shows your authority in your field
- Allows prospects to find you through multiple sources
There are a variety of types of content, including:
- Articles (informative and educational, not featuring your business)
- News releases
- Social Media
The above tends to have the most viral impact, however, additional types of content are as follows:
- Powerpoint Slides & Presentations
- Webcasts or Webinars
…So you get the idea that there are many other items which might be included as types of content
Unfortunately, the process of physically distributing content on the Internet is far from an automated task. Instead, the process is laborious. Many of our clients simply do not have the time and resources for this important outreach effort; therefore, they outsource the management of their content marketing efforts to SmartFinds Internet Marketing. For companies who directly engage in content distribution, it is typically something to pursue at regular intervals over weeks and months. Locating websites that accept your content, specific to your business and industry is not as important as casting a wide net on the Internet. Some distribution point categories to consider include:
- Article Networks
- News Networks
- Wiki Communities
- Photo Communities
- Video Communities
- …and many more
You will notice that many of the above are plural. Content marketing allows you to support your identity on the Internet and as such, acts as a public relations tool through a variety of distribution areas.
Stay tuned to this SmartFinds Digest; and we will tackle strategy, content development, benefits, measurement and search engine ranking effects of content marketing!
For now here is an exercise you can perform yourself. Do you know how much information exists on the Internet about your business? Have you performed a search at the major search engines on your company name? What about a search on your domain name? Now compare that to your competitors. Tell us what you found!