Browsing articles tagged with " Blogging"

How I Started Blogging. What’s Your Story?

Apr 22, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing  //  No Comments

While today’s online media are abuzz with the latest and greatest social media tactics and tools, for many of us that have been around a little while, it was blogging that started our social media careers.

It’s funny to think that in 2002 a type of site called “blog” came up on my radar as a possible marketing tool. At the time, many blogs were personal diaries posted anonymously or by people with a little tech savvy and plenty of opinion. Writing personal thoughts on a public web site was absolutely the last thing I would ever consider doing.  However, it was a curious thing and I started a few blogs anonymously to see what it was like. Unfortunately, the excercise was so foreign, poorly executed and without feedback, that I deleted them.

In mid 2003 I began looking for online content outside of forums and started reading several SEO blogs including Search Engine Blog (Peter Da Vanzo), Search Blog (John Battelle) and Search Engine Lowdown (Andy Beal). Interestingly, only Search Blog remains what it was.

In December 2003 after using Blogger.com as a group blog software for a few collaboration projects I finally decided to start a blog under the  blogspot.com domain for TopRank Online Marketing, which by then, had been in business about 2 years.

As you can see from my “Hello World” post in Dec 2003, I had humble goals to post news and information related to online marketing.  We had a web site that pulled in a lot of search traffic, why would we need a blog? The reason was simply to see what blogging could do to get the word out about our expertise and to share information.  Blogging was very new territory and there wasn’t anyone to demonstrate best practices, so I set out to find what those were while sharing links, news and resources.

I suspect there are a good number of companies that treat other social media services the same way, whether it’s Twitter, Foursquare or building a social mobile app. It’s new territory and they want to find out whether those applications or sites would make sense in their marketing mix. The problem with that perspective is that it’s about the most inefficient and unproductive way to go about finding the right online marketing channels for a business.

The biggest mistake I made 6 plus years ago when I started blogging was not creating a strategy. As a marketer, I knew better than to chase a tactic, but I had no idea at the time how much of an impact blogging would have on our business. In other words, despite a lack of strategy, we were able to use our marketing savvy, curiosity and interest in connecting with the online marketing community to achieve many of the goals we set out to reach in our business. It just took a lot longer without that strategic plan.

Companies starting down the path of becoming more social in their culture to better connect with customers and to realize the marketing, PR, and customer service benefits from social media participation don’t need to waste that time.  Doing the homework of researching customers, setting goals and developing a strategy are essential steps towards a successful social media marketing experience.

Back to why I started blogging. The SEO community was a lot smaller in 2003 and 2004. Writing a post about anything to do with search engine optimization would be noticed and commented on by the small number of SEO bloggers. There were plenty of cross links and “hat tips” (whatever happened to those?) and openly shared opinions. Blogging even made a number of SEOs very popular, very quickly.

Blogging to get popular is the goal for some people and there certainly is some relationship between notoriety, awareness and credibility with the ability to attract sales.  The key (for me at least) is that creating awareness of oneself is simply a proxy to gaining visibility for your business. It’s not a goal in itself.  As a result, Ive been open about using visibility to help others and make connections.

The turning point for me in blogging was due in part to learning to liveblog at conferences.  Steve Hall of AdRants provided my first opportunity to liveblog at a ad:tech event  - an absolutely humbling experience for anyone that isn’t a natural writer. I met people like Frank Gruber and David Berkowitz at that event  in 2004.  I did some liveblogging for Barry Schwartz and Search Engine Roundtable after that which also provided great exposure and connections. Matt McGowan brought even more exposure opportunity by having Online Marketing Blog as a media sponsor for SES conferences. There’s a huge list of people that have been very helpful over the years, especially our longtime readers.

Since then we’ve published a lot of content and provided a lot of insight into holistic SEO and online marketing topics. During that time I think the most important thing I’ve learned is to find your voice and stick to it. Don’t try to be what you’re not. It simply doesn’t resonate with readers or with the goals you’ve likely set.

Whether it’s blogging or other types of content and networking, I think the real value from online publishing in a social context is of course,  being social.  Blogging has been a great experience in terms of developing relationships with people I would have never connected with otherwise. It has definitely served as a platform for making connections in the industry that have led directly and indirectly, to a lot of new business.

I started blogging personally as an experiment and found a process and strategy along the way that has helped grow our business and the online marketing/sales performance of many of our clients.  Long time blogging provides ample opportunity to make and learn from mistakes. Blogging also allows us to continue to be a resource while sharing our expertise with potential customers, partners and employees.

We’ll be going through yet another evolution with Online Marketing Blog in the next month or two and I wonder about the experiences of our readers that also blog:

If you’re a blogger, why did you start? What’s your blogging story? Did you start as an experiment? Did you start with a strategy? What was your biggest mistake? What have you learned?


© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
How I Started Blogging. What’s Your Story? |
No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

Top 5 Search Terms at Online Marketing Blog – Including Pirates

Apr 16, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Search, Social Media  //  No Comments

Here on Online Marketing Blog, we post a tremendous amount of insight on organic  search optimization and content marketing related topics each month. But how about the site search tool on our own blog? Who’s searching for what, and why? And what are they finding?

Mining the site search report from Google Analytics can be very useful since it’s an indication of what our visitors want to read more of. Here are the six most popular site search terms for Online Marketing Blog including our favorite, “pirates”.

1. Facebook

With Facebook taking off as a top channel for social media marketing, it’s no wonder that them comes up as our leading search query. Just consider the recent numbers:

  • Facebook boasts more than 400 million active users
  • 50% of Facebook users log on during any given day
  • More than 20 million Facebook users become fans of pages every day

A quick Online Marketing Blog site search for “Facebook” yields recent posts on tools for sharing microcontent, insight on social media advertising and how to leverage channels like Facebook to take advantage of real-time search.

2. Twitter

Speaking of popular social media marketing channels, Twitter takes to No. 2 spot for most common site searched on Online Marketing blog. Twitter may only have less than 106 million users compared with Facebook’s 400 million. But consider how quickly Twitter is growing and how active its users are:

  • New users sign up at the rate of 300,000 per day
  • 180 million unique visitors visit the site every month
  • Users post an average of 55 million tweets a day

So what can you get with a search for Twitter on Online Marketing Blog? Learn more about the role of news in blended search or find ways to electrify your social network.

3. Books

Who says print is dead? “Books” turns up as our fourth most popular search term.

Here on the Online Marketing Blog, we’ve posted reviews of some of latest most intriguing marketing online marketing books like “The Art of SEO.”

Plus, we’ve conducted exclusive interview with some of the hottest marketing authors out there, such as David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing.” We’ve even polled our readers on the best available books on SEO.

4. Social Media

These days, social media isn’t just a hot topic for B2C marketers looking to connect with consumers on sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Social media is equally as relevant in the B2B world. In fact, 91% of business buyers read blogs, watch user generated video and participate in other social media, according to Forrester Research.

A “social media” search on Online Marketing blog pulls up posts on setting and measuring goals for business blogging, which social media sites are the biggest time wasters and the risks of sponsored blog posts.

5. Email Marketing

Contrary to predictions, RSS never did replace Email. Social media and network use and status updates or microblogging haven’t “killed” the popularity of email either. In fact, there have been reports that Email use is actually up. So it certainly makes sense that our readers are looking for more information on email marketing.

A search for “email marketing” reveals some insight posts including, “5 Top Email Marketing Tactics for 2010“, 5 Tips for Effective Email Copywriting” and “How Social Media & Email Marketing Boost Customer Reach“.

And Finally: Pirates!

Few things seem less relevant to Online Marketing Blog than pirates. Yet somehow it’s one of the most searched terms on the blog.

So what do pirates have to do with Internet marketing and Web 2.0? There is an answer in this social media marketing post, we promise. Hint: It has to do with Dave McClure.

Are you analyzing the top search phrases on your web site? Are you using that insight to guide your site content?


© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Top 5 Search Terms at Online Marketing Blog – Including Pirates |
No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

Max Kalehoff on Social Media Advertising, Blogging & the Future of Paid Search

Apr 14, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing  //  No Comments

One of the most insightful voices in the online marketing industry when it comes to advertising is Max Kalehoff of Clickable. I was introduced to Max at a Search Insider Summit conference several years ago with very high regard by David Berkowitz, another intelligent voice in the industry, so I knew immediately he was someone to pay attention to.

Max’s company recently announced the addition of Facebook Advertising to their PPC management platform and he was very kind to take the time to answer several detailed questions about social media advertising on the Clickable platform, the future of the online advertising industry, slimy SEO middlemen, how he stays current and blogging about his Weber grill. :)

1. You have impressive credentials in the interactive marketing industry with your experience working at Jupiter, comScore and Nielsen. How did you come to work with Clickable?

It’s mostly luck. I’ve been fortunate to work with a series of successful startup teams and entrepreneurs that played a key role in shaping the Internet. I came to Clickable from Nielsen, which bought our last startup, BuzzMetrics, the pioneer in social media measurement and research. I admire Nielsen and have many close friends there, but I wanted to build things and innovate again in a startup environment. Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures, a Clickable investor, introduced me to David Kidder and Munish Gandhi, Clickable’s co-founders. I shared their vision for helping businesses succeed by simplifying online advertising. We quickly became friends and colleagues and the rest is history.

What’s behind your passion for building early stage companies?

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been passionate about building things, solving creative problems and exploring new territory. I’ve always tried to live out those passions through education, work, hobbies and family life. With work, entrepreneurial ventures are the best outlets for those passions.

When I was in college, I started two summer businesses. The first was sailboat charter business, and the second was a Web development consultancy. Post college, I spent a few years in the marketing agency business but soon threw myself into technology and Web startup life. There’s nothing more invigorating than working closely with a group of like-minded, passionate people trying to change the world. Big companies have their purpose, but nimble upstarts attract smart people who crave abstract problems, peer-to-peer learning, mastery, self-imposed discipline and persistence. Upstarts also require a lot of risk-taking, serendipity and authentic discovery.

To me, that’s the only way to live. And given the mess our world is in, we need more of these minds and ventures to invent our way to a better future.

For the uninitiated, what is Clickable and what types of companies should be using it?

Clickable is a software-as-a-service platform that makes online advertising simple, instant and profitable. Our tools empower beginners to professionals, and companies of all sizes, to maximize their advertising investment. We have three core products: Our flagship Pro tool is a simple dashboard that empowers marketers to manage online advertising with transformational return on investment. Clickable Pro activates instantly with an intuitive experience that makes it easy to manage performance across all major advertising networks, like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and, now, Facebook.

Clickable Pro is complemented by Clickable Assist, a managed service that delivers agile assistance to maximize online advertising success. Finally, Clickable Platform is a white-label solution for big services companies to rapidly deploy large-scale online advertising programs to their local business customers under their own brands.

We have a simple purpose that ties everything together: to help businesses survive and thrive by simplifying online advertising success. We pursue that purpose by living up to three core values that comprise our DNA:

  • 7:1 – The 7:1 ratio of good to bad acknowledges we’re not perfect. This is a powerful admission that enables us to listen better and constantly improve. This underlies transparency, trust and collaboration with each other and our customers.
  • Simplicity – Our complex world is desperate for simplicity. Simplicity is difficult, yet it creates value, differentiation and opportunity. That’s why we make everything simple and beautiful.
  • And – We are multidimensional. We innovate constantly to perfect our product-to-market fit … And we are a competitive sales culture that closes business. We celebrate both.

Recently the Clickable ad management platform announced the incorporation of Facebook ads.  Being able to track Facebook and search marketing PPC programs side by side seems a significant opportunity for all.  What should advertisers, especially small and medium sized businesses that you serve, expect from social media advertising? What kind of advice do you give to temper expectations? Or do you even need to?

We first removed the complexity that prevented marketers from expanding into search networks besides Google AdWords, by introducing a simple interface that marketers could use to manage all of their search marketing campaigns. It’s become clear that the next place where marketers want a simple, effective solution is on the world’s largest social network: Facebook.

With over 400 million members, Facebook introduces a new way to advertise that complements search marketing. Using extensive demographic targeting criteria, advertisers on Facebook can get out ahead of their customers and create demand that they can later capture with their search campaigns. Marketers can also use Facebook to promote their brands and drive direct sales. Indeed, this is new territory for everyone. We look forward to experimenting with our advertisers to surface best practices and customer profiles that achieve success.

In the course of doing business with many SMBs in conjunction with TopRankSMB, a surprising number of marketers mention having “tried PPC and it didn’t work”.  In most cases it’s due to a lack of knowledge, tools and time to gain the knowledge to run a successful search marketing ad campaign. What advice do you find yourself or your company giving SMBs most often in regard to online advertising? What tips can you give to those just starting out?

Indeed, we found that up to 50% of SMBs that try online advertising don’t succeed, primarily because of complexity. Similarly, a recent study we conducted on SMBs indicated that roughly half don’t properly track conversions. Knowing conversions is the first step in how an advertiser defines success, whether it’s generating a lead, having someone fill in a form or making a sale. Tracking conversions is important in directing your ad investment to the keywords that will drive the greatest return on investment. There’s a lot of talk about efficiency of click-throughs and cost-per-click, but in the end what really matters is the return on your ad spend, and the profitability of your business.

Our most common advice? First, make sure you are tracking your results, and don’t do anything until your analytics are effectively in place. Second, embrace “goal-based advertising” — that is, make investments only toward very specific and realistic business goals. That requires determining the monetary value of your goals, and figuring out which of your services and products have enough potential to justify spend. Finally, invest the time to get educated in PPC and do it right, or hire sometime to do it for you. Otherwise, you will quickly become another statistic in the “tried PPC and it didn’t work” category. That’s a disadvantageous outcome for most businesses.

You really hit a nerve with, Brands: Beware Of Slimy SEO Middlemen Meddling Through Social Media.  The behavior of the SEO account exec you interacted with is strikingly similar to how many media relations people and start-up business owners behave when they pitch us to write about them on Online Marketing Blog. It’s often a bucket of fake suck-uppiness wrapped around a pitch for a single, short term outcome. It’s sad because something far more significant could be achieved if they looked past the one “placement”. Client demands drive a lot of this behavior and agencies of all types (SEO and PR) often comply. What’s your advice on creating a more meaningful connection with bloggers?

My advice for creating a more meaningful connection with bloggers is the same as my advice for success in life: Give more value than you take. If you provide unselfish value, then people will  become attracted to you and they will advocate you. Advocacy may result in links, testimonials, business referrals, constructive feedback, partnership, loyalty and friendship. But calculating relationships purely based on SEO objectives can quickly become a risk to your brand. It’s that simple.

I like that you can switch from “My New Weber Grill” to “Social and Search Advertising“.  As an accomplished and long time blogger, what advice do you have for other interactive and marketing types for blogging over the long haul? How has your own blog affected your career and work?  How satisfied are you with your corporate blogging efforts?

It’s important to acknowledge that despite all the experts and gurus, the Social Media and Interactive bible is far from completion. We’re only in the beginning of the first chapter, and we’re all students. With that in mind, I think more successful blogging and social media efforts have a defined purpose, goals and room for lots of experimentation.

My personal blog is very much me, reflecting the perpetual blur between my professional and home life. They are impossible to separate, and the tension between the two is what makes life interesting. My blog has created an online presence that’s delivered myriad opportunities. It’s led to new business, new friendships, introspection and (in some cases) breaktrhough ideas. I also believe a personal blog is the best laboratory to become fluent and personally vested in interactive technologies. The learning I gained from my personal blogging endeavors directly contributed to some of our more successful interactive marketing strategies at Clickable.

I know we’re already into Q2 but what predictions can you offer on the future of paid search for the rest of 2010?  What are your thoughts on: Microsoft and Yahoo, Mobile PPC, sponsored social content or what’s next for Google and it’s array of advertising opportunities?

Our Q1 2010 analysis of search spending among advertisers on the Clickable Platform reveals that budgets are significantly higher in Q1 versus year-ago, suggesting an economic and advertising rebound. We have seen 75% of our advertisers increase their budgets versus year-ago, while 25% maintained flat or slightly decreased budgets. Based on Q1, we forecast that 2010 full-year search budgets will increase anywhere between 10% and 30% versus 2009. Meanwhile, search budgets are diversifying in terms of network distribution. Microsoft/Bing seems to be gaining ground on Yahoo and Google. Last year, only 5% of customers were using Microsoft/Bing, while currently this percentage is at 9%.

We believe one of the big stories in 2010 will be gains in social-network advertising, particularly Facebook. Inefficiencies and behavioral friction have prevented serious experimental dollars to shift, especially among PPC marketers.  Social advertising will grow dramatically in 2010 as the major social networks surface in third-party management tools, as well as improve their own self-serve dashboards. A lot of advertisers are highly interested in seizing new opportunities to connect with customers. Mobile advertising is picking up speed, but won’t be terribly relevant for most advertisers in 2010.

You blog and write for MediaPost which I recommend people read. How do you stay current yourself? Do you have a short list of industry conferences, blogs, newsletters, Twitter handles or books that you’d recommend?

I read a mix of news aggregators and thinkers in strategy, venture capital, tech and media, including: TechMeme, John HagelFred Wilson, Umaire Haque, Jeff JarvisAll Things Digital, TechCrunchBusinessInsider, NYTimes Bits and (of course) TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog. While I write a weekly opinion column for MediaPost, I believe it’s one of the most thorough and ubiquitous sources of hard news in the interactive advertising industry.

I’m also blessed with a quirky list of friends whom I pay close attention to on Twitter, and they reward me with serendipity, personal tips and reading recommendations. I’ve not read any good business books in years, so I’ve abandoned them for fiction, history and poetry. The market is saturated with conferences and good ones are becoming rare; the best ones tend to be grass roots, niche and local, like many Meetups. We co-founded the New York SEMPO Search Meetup, which now has a passionate following of more than 1,000 members. We also founded and run Interesting Cafe, a discussion series that features some of the greatest living innovators in tech, media, culture and science. Small, passionate gatherings like these have the most profound and positive impact.

Thanks Max!

Max Kalehoff is vice president of marketing for Clickable, a platform that makes online advertising simple, instant and profitable. He also authors AttentionMax.


© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Max Kalehoff on Social Media Advertising, Blogging & the Future of Paid Search |
No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

Comment Management Tools You Should Know

Apr 13, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media  //  No Comments

What is Comment Management?  Virtually all blog software offers commenting functionality, so why would you need a 3rd party comment management service?  Many of the comments and “reactions” to content posted on a blog never make it to the blog itself – the source of the conversation.

Comment Management tools provide all the expected features and also pull in mentions & citations of the post as well. That way when someone reads a post on your blog, they can see comments made directly on the post as well as mentions made of of the post on other sites like Twitter.

Should you add a comment manager tool to your blog? It depends how much of your social engagement is happening off your blog and also whether you feel it will add to the user experience to see a collected list of on and off site interactions. For many blogs, citing comment and reaction counts is simply a matter of social proofing and popularity. For others, it’s an attempt to harvest all the conversation about a post at the source.

To help you decide, here are the three main comment management tools to consider:

ECHO from JS-Kit offers a wide array of features. It can be embedded on a blog or static web site and pull in comments from Twitter, Digg, comments from other blogs, FriendFeed and several others. Commenters can choose to promote their comments simultaneously to Twitter, Facebook or Google Friends. Sites like Technorati and Guy Kawasaki use ECHO.  We tried JS-Kit but didn’t like not being able to show comments on top of the off site citations under each post.  JS-Kit ECHO Live is $12/year and ECHO Live white label is $48/year. There is also a PRO version with many other controls and features with costs according to page views ranging from $195 to $1995 per year.

Disqus, as you may have noticed, is the commenting system we are currently using on Online Marketing Blog. Disqus lets readers choose their identity, via: Facebook Connect, OpenID, or Twitter Sign-in, when they leave a comment. Comments can be threaded and the moderation dashboard is easy to use. Off site references to your content on Twitter, FriendFeed, Digg, and YouTube are pulled in as “Reactions”. You can sort comments as we do, on top, then show the reactions below. Readers can choose to cross post their comment to other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.   You can edit comment content but not the names of commenters, which is frustrating because some spammers write really useful comment content but spam them hell out of their names and links. The base version of Disqus is free. Disqus VIP offers much hand holding support and analytics. Cost is not disclosed on the site so it must be very expensive.


IntenseDebate was acquired by Automattic, the company behind WordPress and therefore, can be easily added to WordPress blogs as well as TypePad, Tumblr or Blogger blogs. There’s comment threading, notification by email, commenter profiles and points, moderation, cross posting to Twitter and several other features.  IntenseDebate is free.

Which comment management tool is right for you? It depends on your use. If you have a static web site and you’d like to add comment features, then ECHO might be a fit. If you want something that offers all the basics and works natively with WordPress then maybe IntenseDebate is your pick. If you want more features and also don’t want to pay anything, then it’s possible Disqus is the choice for you.

The great thing about these tools is that they are easy to install and test out.

Here are other reviews you might find useful on these comment management systems.

  • Blog Comment System Shootout: Disqus vs. Intense Debate vs. JS-Kit Echo – 40 Tech
  • 3rd Party Comment System Roundup – Dave Mosher’s Blog

Although I pinged Facebook and Twitter connections for examples of other 3rd party comment management tools that pull in off-site citations, I didn’t hear about any. I didn’t find much on Google either. There are other comment management services, tools and plug-ins, just not any (that I’ve found) that automatically pull in 3rd party mentions of your content.

If you know of other comment management systems that pull in comments from other social media sites, please share in the comments. Do you use any of the the tools mentioned above? What has your experience been? What features would you like to see added?


© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Comment Management Tools You Should Know |
No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

5 Ways to Leverage Real Time Search in Your Online Marketing Mix

Apr 9, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media  //  No Comments

real-time searchSince late 2009 when Google introduced real time search, the concept has gained a lot of attention.

Today, real time search is at the top of the priority lists for all the major search engines – Google, Bing and Yahoo!.

As part of the new technology, Google is combines live updates from sites like Twitter and FriendFeed with the latest news headlines and blog posts in search results.

For web searchers, real time search means the ability to discover breaking news the minute it’s happening.

For marketers, it presents a whole host of opportunities to increase online visibility. Here, we’ve provided five ways to leverage real time search in your online marketing efforts.

1. Develop the type of content that supports real time SEO

With real time search, frequently publishing online content becomes a must. Try incorporating these three types of content to support both traditional and real time SEO programs:

  • Tweets and Facebook fan page updates: Micro content from social sites now has the ability to appear in search results. It’s quick and easy to frequently post Tweets and Facebook fan pages updates, so both should play a big role in your real time SEO content strategy.
  • Blog posts: Blogging presents the opportunity to help your content rank and show thought leadership at the same time – since blog posts can offer more valuable information than micro content.
  • Optimized press releases: By optimizing press releases and submitting them through authoritative newswires, you can help your content achieve high rankings.

2. Mobilize your fan base

Creating a core group of brand advocates is important for a number of reasons. They recommend your products and services to their friends and family, defend your reputation in times of trouble and are more likely to adopt future products and services you introduce.

Now add one more benefit to the list: Brand advocates – particularly authoritative ones – can link to your content to help keep in the real time stream.

In addition, brand advocates who are active on social sites like Twitter can create their own content about your company that can appear in real time search results.

3. Know what’s hot in the news

With real time search, it’s important to recognize both what users are searching for online and what they’re discussing via social channels – at this very minute. Create frequently updated content that speaks to the latest topics and trends, and is optimized for the latest search terms.

A variety of tools exist to help monitor search and conversation trends:

  • Google Trends: Use this free tool to find the hottest topics and hottest searches in Google
  • Social Mention: Determine the strength, sentiment and reach for terms used throughout the social web, including blogs, microblogs, social networks, video sites and news sites
  • BlogPulse: Find the top blog posts, key phrases, new stories and more from across the search universe or related a specific topic
  • Delicious: See the types of content that goes wild across the social web
  • Trendistic: Learn trending topics in Twitter over the last 24 hours, week, month or more (see image below)

Trendistic shows “online marketing” trends over the past 30 days.

4. Time your content promotion efforts wisely

Give your content an extra boost by monitoring when blog posts, articles and other online content are indexes in Google News or Google Blog Search. Then ensure tweets, Facebook fan page updates and other social content promotions are timed right after the content is indexed. Doing so will help you take advantage of every opportunity to appear in real time search results.

5. Optimize your web site and online content for mobile technologies

Real time search is relevant on many mobile devices, including Android and iPhone devices. So Web site optimization for mobile technologies becomes even more important.

Consider these few mobile SEO tips:

  • Limit the use of images
  • Keep the design simple and clean
  • Test to ensure your site appears as it should across various mobile devices

The bottom line is, it’s crucial to take advantage of every real time search opportunity that comes around. Remember that these opportunities won’t stick around for long – presenting themselves quickly and then disappearing. It is real time, after all.

Have you implemented real time SEO into your online marketing mix? Tell us what best practices you’ve found so far.


© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
5 Ways to Leverage Real Time Search in Your Online Marketing Mix |
No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

Setting and Measuring Goals for Business Blogging

Apr 8, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing  //  No Comments

As companies that realize the value of online marketing understand the need to publish engaging content, one of the most common considerations is a company blog.  Blog software is fundamentally one of the easiest content management software systems to install and use. Of course the software isn’t magic. The content and ability to reach and engage with customers is a big part of what makes a business blog successful.

For those companies that are thinking of starting a blog or reinvesting resources into a company blogging effort that has gone stale, some of the most important questions to ask are:  Have you identified specific goals for the blog? How will you measure success?

In sports you can’t score if there isn’t a goal and it’s no different with business blogging.  There are a variety of reasons why publishing ongoing communications that allow readers to interact adds value to a business. Add to that the distribution via RSS that extends the reach of your message and  it’s easy to see why so many companies start blogging. The failure for many business blogs is centered around not making a connection between business goals, blog specific objectives and most importantly, how meeting customer needs leads to the first two.

Here are three key questions to consider as you design your plan for business blogging success:

Why start a business blog? What end goals or outcomes can you reasonably expect?

There are many good reasons to start a blog. But are those reasons good enough to start and stay blogging for the long haul? Our survey on blogging and SEO showed 90% citing blogging as important, significantly important or a primary SEO tactic. 94% of bloggers reported seeing measurable SEO benefits from blogging within 12 months.

  • Initiate and foster customer engagement
  • Improve coverage by media and bloggers
  • Improve search engine visibility
  • Increase mentions on other blogs, social networking, news, bookmarking and media sites
  • Build thought leadership
  • Provide an informative communication channel
  • Recognize employees, clients, marketing partners and especially brand evangelists

How will you know your blogging efforts are successful according to those goals? How are you measuring blogging success?

We ran a poll last year with our readers that ranked their most important measures of blogging success. Here is the distribution:

  • Engagement: comments, links 36%
  • Improved brand recognition 31%
  • Build thought leadership 31%
  • Search engine rankings 31%
  • Better communicate with customers 30%
  • Traffic to the blog 27%
  • Coverage by media and other blogs 18%
  • Traffic to the corporate web site 16%
  • Sales leads 16%
  • Industry Recognition 13%
  • Sell products 2%
  • Improved customer satisfaction 11%
  • Page views 9%
  • Time on Site 6%
  • Ad revenue on the blog 5%

What tools are you using to measure blog performance?

Goals for business and the blog are great but it’s essential to have the right tools in place for analytics. One of the biggest mistakes is to rely on things like Google Alerts.

  • Web analytics (Google Analytics, Woopra, Clicky, etc)
  • Feedburner
  • Social media monitoring tools
  • Link analysis tools
  • Comment tracking tools
  • Clipping services
  • Forum conversation tracking tools

It’s fundamental, this notion of setting goals, understanding outcomes and the tools needed to measure. But you know the saying, “Common sense is the least common thing on Earth.”  Companies can achieve great return on investment with the right plan and leadership in a blogging effort. The key is to do the baseline work to build a foundation upon which it can grow and succeed.  Stay the course and leverage both listening and engagement tools to guide content. Develop networks and distribution channels to grow readership and reach. Take the time to really understand the impact of data provided by reporting tools and create reports for executives that highlight business goals.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with setting, measuring and reaching business goals through corporate blogging? Have you started a business blog only to shut it down? Have your company blogging efforts been successful beyond expectations?


© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Setting and Measuring Goals for Business Blogging |
No comment | http://toprankweb2.mn2.visi.com

Setting and Measuring Goals for Business Blogging

Apr 8, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing  //  No Comments

As companies that realize the value of online marketing understand the need to publish engaging content, one of the most common considerations is a company blog.  Blog software is fundamentally one of the easiest content management software systems to install and use. Of course the software isn’t magic. The content and ability to reach and engage with customers is a big part of what makes a business blog successful.

For those companies that are thinking of starting a blog or reinvesting resources into a company blogging effort that has gone stale, some of the most important questions to ask are:  Have you identified specific goals for the blog? How will you measure success?

In sports you can’t score if there isn’t a goal and it’s no different with business blogging.  There are a variety of reasons why publishing ongoing communications that allow readers to interact adds value to a business. Add to that the distribution via RSS that extends the reach of your message and  it’s easy to see why so many companies start blogging. The failure for many business blogs is centered around not making a connection between business goals, blog specific objectives and most importantly, how meeting customer needs leads to the first two.

Here are three key questions to consider as you design your plan for business blogging success:

Why start a business blog? What end goals or outcomes can you reasonably expect?

There are many good reasons to start a blog. But are those reasons good enough to start and stay blogging for the long haul? Our survey on blogging and SEO showed 90% citing blogging as important, significantly important or a primary SEO tactic. 94% of bloggers reported seeing measurable SEO benefits from blogging within 12 months.

  • Initiate and foster customer engagement
  • Improve coverage by media and bloggers
  • Improve search engine visibility
  • Increase mentions on other blogs, social networking, news, bookmarking and media sites
  • Build thought leadership
  • Provide an informative communication channel
  • Recognize employees, clients, marketing partners and especially brand evangelists

How will you know your blogging efforts are successful according to those goals? How are you measuring blogging success?

We ran a poll last year with our readers that ranked their most important measures of blogging success. Here is the distribution:

  • Engagement: comments, links 36%
  • Improved brand recognition 31%
  • Build thought leadership 31%
  • Search engine rankings 31%
  • Better communicate with customers 30%
  • Traffic to the blog 27%
  • Coverage by media and other blogs 18%
  • Traffic to the corporate web site 16%
  • Sales leads 16%
  • Industry Recognition 13%
  • Sell products 2%
  • Improved customer satisfaction 11%
  • Page views 9%
  • Time on Site 6%
  • Ad revenue on the blog 5%

    What tools are you using to measure blog performance?

    Goals for business and the blog are great but it’s essential to have the right tools in place for analytics. One of the biggest mistakes is to rely on things like Google Alerts.

    • Web analytics (Google Analytics, Woopra, Clicky, etc)
    • Feedburner
    • Social media monitoring tools
    • Link analysis tools
    • Comment tracking tools
    • Clipping services
    • Forum conversation tracking tools

    It’s fundamental, this notion of setting goals, understanding outcomes and the tools needed to measure. But you know the saying, “Common sense is the least common thing on Earth.”  Companies can achieve great return on investment with the right plan and leadership in a blogging effort. The key is to do the baseline work to build a foundation upon which it can grow and succeed.  Stay the course and leverage both listening and engagement tools to guide content. Develop networks and distribution channels to grow readership and reach. Take the time to really understand the impact of data provided by reporting tools and create reports for executives that highlight business goals.

    What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with setting, measuring and reaching business goals through corporate blogging? Have you started a business blog only to shut it down? Have your company blogging efforts been successful beyond expectations?


    © Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
    Setting and Measuring Goals for Business Blogging |
    No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

    Sponsored Posts – Measure The Risk Carefully

    Apr 5, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media  //  No Comments

    Sponsored posts have been a hot topic in the blogosphere and among marketers the last few years.

    What exactly is a sponsored post?  The simple answer is:  a company pays a blogger cash to blog about their product or service.  This is different than an advertorial since the blogger is paid cash to write the content as opposed to the sponsor creating the message.

    An entire cottage industry of companies such as IZEA, Smorty and a slew of others have sprung up to offer a variety of methods to pay for sponsored posts.  Some require bloggers to say good things.  Others tell bloggers they are free to write what they wish.  But in either case, there are potential risks involved marketers should be aware of.

    Many digital audiences appear to have an  issue with sponsored posts because they see it as a breach of unwritten editorial rules of the web.  It is for that core reason sponsored posts remain controversial.

    For the purposes of this post, I am just talking about cash for blog posts.  This a different animal than offering sampling, trials or demos of products.

    Let’s dig into why sponsored – aka cash for blog posts – are something you should measure the risk of carefully:

    Sponsored posts may draw the eyes of the engines

    Cash for blog posts could be risky behavior if the sponsored links are follow links.  Matt Cutts at Google has publicly stated that paid posts should not affect search engines.   A simple solution for companies brokering sponsored posts is to require the no-follow attribute added to links within the content.  Some pay-per-post companies offering this service state they require it.  Some bloggers may adhere.  But many bloggers have no idea what a no-follow attribute is and may not follow this guideline.  Additionally, bloggers and marketers engaging in outright cash-for-play are involved in risky behavior even with no-follow links.  This is due to halo effect of linking in the social web, and may walk a thin line with the engines who are paying attention to these campaigns.

    Before engaging in sponsored posts, consider organic outreach

    More than 80% of bloggers are already writing on products and brands.  In other words: be remarkable, have great marketing/PR and you’ll be talked about.  Learn the intersection of social media and PR, begin content marketing and engage in strategies that inspire natural coverage, conversation and influence.  The organic approach yields the highest results: since sponsored posts must have no-follow links, the SEO and PR intersection does not exist.

    Sponsored posts may train audiences to expect cash to write about you

    By engaging in sponsored posts, you may succeed in training audiences to expect a return every time they mention your brand or product.  Instead of growing in an organic fashion, sponsored posts may keep your brand out of the natural conversations and put you on a treadmill of having to pay cash for coverage.  And that’s not a sustainable way to grow a web community.

    May be seen as inauthentic

    Due to FCC rules, all sponsored content must be disclosed.  With this disclosure and transparency, readers see the content was influenced by cash, not the author’s true perception of the product or brand.  This potentially destroys the true power of word of mouth.  It affects the blogger as well:  they may lose the trust of a carefully built audience.  Audiences may not believe a blogger thought a product was great because that blogger was paid to talk about it.

    Sponsored posts are advertising – not social media

    Companies who pay bloggers cash to write about them are engaging in advertising, not social media.  Would you pay someone cash to talk about your company or product at a party?  What would everyone else at the party think?  That’s exactly what happens on the social web when users see bloggers taking cash to write up products.  So if you think it’s a risky play to pay people cash to talk about your brand or product in person, it’s equally so online (perhaps even more so since the web is referential).

    Organic push methods do exist

    Newswires, article submissions, advertorials, syndication products, and other paid methods of gaining exposure amongst web audiences exist.  The social web as a whole has less issues with these services because they are not paying individuals directly to talk about them.  Rather, they are paying to have their messages added to areas they will be found – and then reacted to – without cash going directly to users or leveraging a personal brand for influence.  Communications professionals can use paid tools to cross the editorial line with less risk than directly paying cash to individuals.

    Conclusion

    Forrester research has been touting the positives of sponsored conversations.  Jeremiah Owyang says they are here to stay.  There are companies engaging in this tactic and doing fine.  I’m not ruling the tactic out entirely, but I do wish to caution marketing and PR professionals to weigh the risk carefully.  Sponsored posts may run counter to a social media marketing strategy focused on inspiring organic attention and building a community based on trust.  They do not provide the SEO benefits of organic outreach.  Consider your larger objectives and strategies carefully and ask yourself  if sponsored posts are the tactic for you.

    Save to del.icio.us
    [StumbleUpon]
    [Google]
    [Facebook]
    [Twitter]
                subscribe Subscribe to this Feed

    © Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
    Sponsored Posts – Measure The Risk Carefully |
    No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

    3 Tools to Help You Share Microcontent Online

    Apr 2, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media, Twitter  //  No Comments

    Over the last few years, the concept of microblogging has gone from zero to hero. Just a few short years ago, the terms “microblogging” and “microcontent” were known only to early adopters.  These days, the only thing “micro” about microblogging and status updates is character count. Consider a few recent statistics:

    • There are nearly 40,000 Tweets a minute, according to TweeSpeed
    • Last year, Tweets grew 1,400%, while traffic to Twitter.com grew around 1,100%
    • More than 60 million Facebook status updates are posted every day

    When it comes to microblogging sites, customers and prospects are either there, or those that influence them are. Microblogging can take on a life of its own – with users making connections, developing relationships and publishing content all from within.

    Are you unsure of how to best leverage microblog connections and microcontent for other online marketing efforts?  One answer: cross-publishing or syndicating microblog content to other channels.

    Fortunately today there are several tools available to help you and here, are three:

    1. @anywhere

    Twitter is in the process of rolling out a new feature, @anywhere, that will allow users to syndicate Twitter content to virtually any online channel without sending visitors back to Twitter.com. Not only that, but the syndication process will be as simple as dropping a few lines of JavaScript.

    Initial participating sites include Amazon, eBay, Digg, Yahoo!, The New York Times, Salesforce.com, You Tube and several others. With @anywhere, visitors to these sites will be able to follow Twitter users, retweet content and search for new Twitter accounts – without ever having to leave the website.

    Here’s what it could someday mean for your organization:

    • Customers reading a blog post written by your CEO could follow him or her on Twitter directly from your site
    • Prospects viewing a video on your website could retweet the content without leaving the webpage

    2. Google Buzz

    Google Buzz

    The latest social media player to enter the game is Google. Its recently launched Google Buzz tool is built into Gmail and enables sharing of updates, photos and videos all from within the inbox. The tool connects with sites already in use, including Twitter, Picasa, Flickr and Google Reader.

    Essentially the tool enables Gmail users to leverage the personal email contacts already made, as well as the entire Gmail community at large, to engage in conversations and share microblogging content.

    Google Buzz goes beyond just status updates, though. It automatically pulls images from links and enables users to respond to content without ever leaving Gmail.  Whether Google Buzz attains the popularity of Facebook or Twitter remains to be seen.

    3. Facebook Connect

    Facebook Connect

    Facebook Connect

    With Facebook Connect, marketers can create more engaging experiences on their websites by allowing site visitors to bring their Facebook life with them. Facebook Connect pulls Facebook users’ profile information, photos, connections and more directly to your website.

    Facebook Connect creates what it calls a “viral sharing loop” on your site by:

    • Making it easy for site visitors to share your content with their Facebook networks
    • Enabling you to show visitors what’s most popular on your site with their Facebook friends
    • Allowing visitors to comment on, review and rate content on your site

    Other tools that make it easy to share microcontent incude: ping.fm, HootSuite or socialoomph.com.

    What tools do you use to cross-publish or syndicate your microblogging content to other channels?

    Save to del.icio.us
    [StumbleUpon]
    [Google]
    [Facebook]
    [Twitter]
                subscribe Subscribe to this Feed

    © Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
    3 Tools to Help You Share Microcontent Online |
    No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

    5 Tips for Better B2B Branding

    Mar 26, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media, Thought Leadership  //  No Comments

    Think branding only falls in the B2C court? Think again.

    In fact, three of the top 10 brands in 2009, as ranked by Interbrand, generate a sizable amount of revenue from their B2B customers: IBM, Microsoft and GE.

    As a B2B marketer your brand is your most valuable asset.

    B2B branding is less about cool, hip monikers (the Apples and Starbucks of the world) – and more about thought leadership.

    Particularly in down economies, B2B prospects and customers conduct significant research leading up to purchases. That means you as a marketer have to educate them early on, and establish your brand as a trusted resource that gets their problems and has the solution.

    To help your organization be seen as the thought leader it is, we’ve identified five B2B branding tips:

    1. Consistently produce useful, innovative content

    These days, every company is essentially a media company. So it’s easier than ever to provide relevant, informative content for customers and prospects.

    From a company blog to Twitter to YouTube, there is no end to the content channels available. Provide the latest industry news and insight on trends through:

    • Offering a white paper through an email marketing campaign
    • Creating videos and promoting through YouTube and on your web site
    • Conducting interviews with industry influentials and turning into blog posts

    Whatever channels you choose to promote, and whatever types of content you create, these consistent signals prove to customers and prospects that you are a thought leader.

    2. Network digitally and in person

    Nothing communicates a brand more than direct involvement with customers and prospect. In that regard, online social networking has opened a new door. According to a recent eMarketer study, six in 10 B2B marketers planned to up spending on social in 2010.

    Whether your organization integrates Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or another social network into its B2B branding efforts, the same rules apply:

    • Social media is about engaging in conversations, not just pushing products
    • It’s not about the masses; it’s about your target audience
    • It’s listening and hearing before selling and talking

    That’s not to say that in-person networking is irrelevant. On the contrary, perfect B2B branding combination. Take advantage of opportunities to give keynote speeches, participate in panel discussions or lead breakout sessions at industry events.

    3. Get personal and be real

    B2C marketers seem to have this concept nailed. But humanizing your company for customers and prospects is just as important in B2B branding.

    For one TopRank® Online Marketing client, an industrial part distributor for the bulk powder processing industry, humanizing its image was a top concern.

    The TopRank team created the Powder Doctor, a unique character, to relate to customers and prospects through email marketing campaigns. This humorous cartoon character offers advice – Dear Abby style – for common industry problems. Powder Doctor campaigns have increased sales for Powder-Solutions by 83%.

    4. Position yourself differently than others in the space

    No doubt about it, it’s tough to build personal B2B brand if you’re just like everyone else. You simply can’t be known for what everyone else is.

    Standing out from the crowd is easy when your products or services are truly one-of-a-kind. When products or services are similar to those offered by the competition, it’s more of a challenge to uniquely position yourself.

    For one TopRank client – a staffing software company – that challenge was known all too well. To help the client stand from a large pool of competitors, TopRank developed a copywriting strategy where website copy was written in first person, from the viewpoint of the staffing software (i.e., “why you should hire me to fill your staffing software needs”).

    This strategy has not only helped the company develop a truly distinct B2B brand; the strategy has also achieved increased search traffic, high rankings for terms such as “staffing software” and a trend up in inquiries.

    5. Leverage proof points

    It’s perfectly appropriate – and necessary – to toot your own horn from time to time as part of your B2B branding efforts. Whether it’s an impressive media placement or a web traffic milestone, implement proof points illustrating why your organization is a thought leader into marketing communications.

    Keep in mind that proof points are both analytical and subjective. For example:

    Analytical: website traffic increases, number of retweets of blog posts, number of blog subscribers

    Subjective: media placements, media interviews, mentions on blogs

    Are Your Ready to Take B2B Branding to the Next Level?

    B2B branding through thought leadership is not as easily quantifiable as other marketing efforts. And investments in reputation building might not pay off as immediately as pay-per-click or email marketing.

    But building a recognizable B2B brand pays off in the form of long-term increased referrals, positive brand conversations on both digital and in-person channels, web traffic and sales.

    What methods have you used to build a B2B brand?

    Save to del.icio.us
    [StumbleUpon]
    [Google]
    [Facebook]
    [Twitter]
                subscribe Subscribe to this Feed

    © Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
    5 Tips for Better B2B Branding |
    No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

    Pages:12»