If you're new to the Web marketing game, watch this interview with Crexendo's VP of Web Marketing, Parker Garlitz. It's a good overview of what we do here at Crexendo.
Since they were first created, search engines have been evolving. And it’s pretty safe to say they will continue to evolve. It’s good news for end users because search engines keep getting better at finding the Web pages most relevant to a given search. It’s bad news for Web marketers because it means we have to keep changing up our game in order to prove to the search engines that our Web pages are relevant to a given search. Search engineers keep changing the metrics of their engines, so we have to keep changing our Web activities to match.
One of the most prominent metrics lately has been link relevancy. It’s determined by a combination of the content of the source page and the content of the anchor text; both ends of the back-links you build.
For example, let’s say that I find all the information I can about tubeless tires for my mountain bike. I even decide on the type I want, buy them, put them on my mountain bike, and ride them. They’re awesome, and I get so excited about them I decide to write about it on my blog or in an online article.
When writing the blog post or article, I can add links out to some of the Web pages where I found the best information. The anchor text I use to link to that Web page could say “Click Here”, but the words “Click Here” aren’t relevant to the topic of the page to which they link. Smarter would be to use anchor text as part of a sentence relevant to the page to which it links. Like this: “There is plenty of great information on tubeless tires out there to help you decide which type is right for you.” Here “great information on tubeless tires” is text that is highly relevant to the page to which it links. High relevancy makes for a higher search rank, and the more relevant links to your page, the more likely it will come up high enough in a search to get clicked on.
Today’s search engines rely heavily on this type of human-powered information. They use it to determine what the target page is about and to what queries it is most relevant. Relevancy is king right now and will continue to play a prominent role for the foreseeable future. To keep your relevancy rank high, remember to make the text of your back-links relevant to the page to which it links.
Link-building, also known as back-linking, is an important component in any good SEO strategy. It can even be the most important, and is often the most time-consuming. If you’re new to the game, you may wonder where to begin building links. Here are some of the things you should and shouldn’t do to build links to your website.
You can classify SEO tactics in to two general categories: “black-hat” tactics and “white-hat” tactics. Black-hat tactics seek to “game” search engines into ranking your site higher or your competitors’ sites lower. White-hat tactics differ in that they seek to build legitimacy and relevancy in order to gain a higher search ranking, and they never seek to influence the rankings of competitors.
It’s best not to engage in black-hat tactics because they tend to come back to haunt you. Either the search engine you’ve gamed catches on to what you’re doing and de-lists your site, or your competitors catch on to what you’re doing and do it back to you in spades. Sometimes the line between what is a black-hat tactic and what is a white-hat tactic are bit blurred and subjective. Just remember, karma can be a real bitch.
One of the most popular black-hat methods that, unfortunately, has been used successfully by many in the past, is paying someone to create mass backlinks. There are programs designed to create back-links indiscriminately, with the only goal being volume. Fortunately, it’s getting harder to use them successfully because of something called a “trust rank” that looks at the relevancy of a back-link. In fact, you can actually hurt your Google rank if it sees massive amounts of irrelevant links to your website. So you’ll have paid to lower your search rank.
Where to Create Links
-Directories. There are free directories, like DMOZ (dmoz.org) and there are paid directories that charge a yearly fee. These include Yahoo Business Directory, Business.com, and Best of the Web. Some take time to get listed, especially the free directories. The sooner you request, the sooner you’ll be listed.
-Press Release Sites. Again, there are paid sites, like PRWeb.com, and there are free sites. The distribution on paid sites is much better but can be expensive. Free sites include OpenPR, PRLog, SpeedyPR and many more. The link to your Web page happens in the resource box at the end of the press release. The drawback here is that you have to have some news on which to write a press release, and also you have to take the time to write it well. A poorly written release can hurt your company image.
-Free Article Sites. Here, again, the drawback is that you have to come up with a good topic for an article, take the time to write the article well, and have your article accepted by the site to which you submit it. Some of these websites are easier to get accepted in than others. Some free article publishing sites include ArticleDashboard, Ezine Articles, and ArticleCity.
-Vendors, Friends, Family, Partners. Here’s a good ready-made set of cheerleaders for your website. Many of them have websites on which they can publish a link to your website. Don’t be afraid to ask for it, and remember to reciprocate.
-Social Media. Your Facebook friends are another ready-made group of cheerleaders for your website. Create your fan page and include a link to your website. Ask your friends to “Like” your fan page and tell their friends. Blog on your website and submit your posts to Digg, StumbleUpon, and other social bookmarking sites. You can also tweet your blog on Twitter. The goal there is to make it interesting enough that people will want to re-tweet (RT) it.
-Comments on Forums. Some forums let you include a link to your website in your signature line. Remember, don’t spam. It’s a good way to get kicked off a forum. Only make relevant, helpful comments. Here’s a good, simple example of one such forum: Visit UltraSmoothJazz.com. In the top right corner of the page there’s something called a ShoutBox. The shout box allow you to input a website URL. That will link your handle to your website. Make your comment, hit “Shout”, and you have a back-link. Unfortunately, this particular back-link will only last about a week. There are other forums where your back-link will be more or less permanent.
Remember, you’re just starting out. Don’t be overwhelmed by thinking you have to do all these things at once. Pick one or two to start with and build from there.
Press Releases are a good way to promote the products you sell or the website you sell them with. Obviously, you have to make sure you take all the steps to use them properly, such as including your back-link either in the article or resource box, tweeting the release once it's published, posting it on your Facebook fan page, etc. Done properly, a well-written release can be a valuable asset for your business. But don't overlook the crafting of the press release as the important step it is. Creating a press release to promote your product or e-commerce website requires thought and preparation. Here are seven mistakes people commonly make when writing a press release.
1. Lack of proper research. Read and subscribe to press releases not only in your own niche, but from some of the larger and more successful companies in the world. See how they are structured and worded. Incorporate the structural features you like into your own releases.
2. Rash Assumptions. Your reader may know nothing about your products or website. One goal of a press release is to have your reader generate buzz to their readers or media outlet, so lay out the specifics for them.
3. Condescension. While fatal flaw #2 says to be specific with what you are writing, be careful not to write in a condescending tone. It's a sure way to turn readers off. Assume your readers are reasonably intelligent.
4. Overselling. The purpose of a press release is to put information into the hands of those who have influence and a crowd to share it with. They are not the ones who will be buying or using whatever is in the contents of your press release. Don't try to make them the buyer. Rather, look at them as your reseller and present the information in the same way you would teach a sales associate how to sell to a customer in a store.
5. Bloat. A press release is not an article. It should be informative and easily digestible; keep the fluff to a minimum and focus on the details that pertain to your service, product, or website.
6. Dull titles. Look at your deleted email folder to see which messages you deleted without opening. Chances are the subject line didn't entice you to open it. Be creative and direct with your title. It can mean the success or failure of your release.
7. Incorrect or outdated information. Wait until you have all the facts, specifics, and proper information included in your press release, then send it. Don't send a release announcing a forthcoming release, either. It will break the trust of your readers. You're better off sitting on a release for a few days than sending it out missing crucial information.
Avoid these simple mistakes in your press releases and the information in them will be more likely to get used. As with all writing, re-read it, proof it, and then read it again to ensure it flows smoothly and conveys the exact message you need it to. Finally, remember to tweet your release and post it to your Facebook fan page to help boost exposure.
Many people understand what Social Bookmarking is good for: It’s a way you can share cool websites, articles, videos, etc. that you find as you surf the Web. The Bookmarks feature on your Web browser gets cluttered fast and it only works on one computer. A social bookmarking site enables you to access your bookmarks from any computer or mobile device, and rather than trying to navigate a complicated file system for all your bookmarks, you just use tags. You can also look at your friends’ accounts to see what cool things they’ve bookmarked under a certain tag. What a lot of people don’t know is how Social Bookmarking can be used to promote a website. It’s quite common for people to know a little about how social bookmarking works but then ask, “Now how can I use it for my online business?”
As with any component of a social media campaign, start small. There are several social bookmarking sites from which to choose. Delicious, reddit, StumbleUpon, and Digg are a few of the most popular. Pick one or two to start with, open an account, and learn how they work. Try to find and make friends within the site. Look closely at which sites have received the most bookmarks. What can you do with your title that will help you attract attention that way?
If you’re just starting out, use the circle of friends you already have in Facebook. It’s a ready-made group of cheerleaders rooting for your success. Ask them to get on the bookmarking site(s) you’ve chosen and bookmark your website, blog, or whatever it is you’d like to attract more traffic to.
Why’s It Good?
What’s the value? First, backlinks. The more people who bookmark your page, the more backlinks it has. The more backlinks it has, the higher rank it achieves in organic search. Second, depending on the bookmarking site, your page can receive more direct traffic from it. That’s because on some sites, the more people who bookmark your page in a short amount of time, the longer it stays highly visible to people who are just surfing the bookmarking site for cool stuff. Hopefully, some of those surfers will be curious enough about your page to go check it out.
Remember, social media users hate spam. Don’t title your page with something that sounds “spammy”. Instead use a title that tells what value any visitor will get when they come to your page.
Like any social media site, the more time you spend on a bookmarking site, the more familiar with it you’ll become, and the more ways you’ll discover to use it to promote your page.
E-merchants and others looking to boost a site’s search ranking see a lot of advice about how to build links and optimize their Web sites for search engines. We all know that search engine optimization (SEO) and link-building are important because they increase search engine rankings, but not if we do it the wrong way. Here are three paths you should avoid.
1. Slack Off. Whether out of frustration, laziness, or poor follow-through, the surest way to fail at link-building is to not do it. Think of link-building like gardening. A garden has to be tended and cared for on an ongoing basis in order for it to yield its crop. The same is true of link-building. You can’t just do a bunch of it and forget about it. Spend a set amount of time each week just link-building.
2. Write For Search Engines. Search engines are getting smarter and smarter. Every day they’re getting better at detecting when they’re being played. That means if you clutter your Web pages with repetitive terms designed to snag the attention of search engines, the likelihood that it will ring the bells of those search engines is decreasing rapidly.
Even if that weren’t true, consider what happens when real live people visit your website. It’s easy to see when a page has been written for search engines and not people. The result is a page that turns people off and gives you a huge bounce rate; i.e. people take one look at your page and leave within seconds.
Your website has to appeal to the people who visit it. A high traffic rate does little good if your bounce rate is sky high. Write your Web copy with the goal of appealing to your customers. Then, go back and see where you can add in your chosen search terms without hurting the effectiveness of your copy.
3. Pay For Linkbacks. You’ll see companies that offer to give you bunches—even hundreds—of automated linkbacks for a fee. Stay away. Because search engines are getting smarter, they can tell when a site has had this done. It sees a load of irrelevant linkbacks and the result is a lower search ranking. So not only does it not work, but you will have paid to hurt your search ranking.
That said, there are also companies who can provide relevant backlinks. These companies have real live people who do their link-building, not automated software “bots”. A live person can make sure the links he builds are relevant to the site they link to. Those are the kinds of links that boost search rank.
A Brief History of Social Media
To help understand what Social Media is we need to understand where Social Media came from and why we use the term "Social Media." To briefly give an overview of how and where Social Media came to be basically comes down to communication. Communication has been around well since forever. Communication from cave man to cave man and communication in the form of postcard from a loved one on vacation have all been forms of simple Social Media. Sharing communications with others is what makes it social. For example when you receive that post card from your good friends traveling abroad, you are most likely to show other people the note on the postcard and the image of where the postcard came from. With this being said simple evolution has transformed social interaction and media in the forms of print, phone, and now the internet simultaneously into one formal way of saying group communication.
A Brief Evolution of Social Media
This image shows a rough timeline of how Social Media has evolved over the years into what we have come to know and love. Definitly in the last 10 -15 years the term "Social Media" and its related "Social Networking" and "Social Bookmarking" have come into heavy usage andacceptance. We will break down a few of the social media types and give a little info about each one to gain a better grasp on what is out on the web today.
The following in a non-exhaustive list of some great Social Media Platforms:
Communication: Sharing updates and info on what people are doing and connecting with firends
- Blogs- Blogger, Wordpress, LiveJournal, Xanga
- Microblogging- Twitter, Foursquare (GPS based location game), Tumblr
- Social Networking- Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Ning
Collaberation: Teamwork and information gathering
- Google Wave
Multimedia: Sharing images of events and photographs
- Photo Sharing: Flickr, Picassa, Photobucket
- Video Sharing: Youtube, Vimeo, Viddler
- Music: Myspace Music, Last.fm, Pandora, Grooveshark
Simplification Services - The make it easier to get your message out and increase your reach
- Tweetdeck- Facebook & Twitter
- TubeMogul- Youtube, YahooVideo, Metacafe
Web 2.0 Properties - Interactive Information Sharing Websites Usually Used for Link Building Purposes
- Squidoo- Uses "Lenses" to display information about websites, products, and opinions
- Stumbleupon - Social website searching and finding interesting websites
- Delicious -Social Bookmarking at its best
We hope this has been informational so far as to the history of social media. Next week, we will dive into how Social Media is "Social" and go through the top Social Media Sites and explain them in more detail.
This post is not intended to give an exhausted account of Social Media but to help understand what it is better.
Welcome to the Crexendo blog!
Our purpose at Crexendo is to help you stand out from the crowd, and anyone who’s ever done a Google search knows that “the crowd” is considerable.
In our efforts to be your source of all things Web Marketing, we intend to use this blog to post tips and tricks to help make your website the magic bullet you’d like it to be. Topics will include:
- Link BuildingPaid Search Management (PPC)
- Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
- Social Media
- Local Web Promotion
- Web Design
- Web Development
- And much more!
We decided to start this blog to give our clients and prospective clients more information about what we do and include powerful tips and tools to help you generate more leads or sales. We’ll update the blog with new information every few days. If you’re trying to sharpen your website’s performance, this blog will be well worth following.
"Since Crexendo began helping us with online lead generation and SEO, we have been able to transition away from cold calling and trade shows as our primary means of prospecting, to using the web as the primary method. Through Search Engine Optimization, we now get more leads that are better qualified, and cost about half as much per lead. It has transformed the way we think about marketing. Thanks Crexendo!"
VP of Channel & Partner Alliances