20 Tips to increase Twitter Followers

On the web you can find alot of articles that describe various tricks & tips on how to increase the number of your twitter followers. Additionally lots of companies have created software & services that can help you automate the whole procedure. Even if some of those programs and techniques do work in some cases, it is highly recommended not to base a social media campaign on spammy techniques because it can really affect your company image.

In this article I will focus on well-tested white-hat techniques that can be used to increase the number of your followers. I stress that these are not magic tricks that will increase your followers in one single day. These are good techniques that can help you on the long-term increase the number of your twitter followers, maintain them and build a loyal target audience.

1. Be an active user on twitter

If you want to increase your follower count, make sure you post regularly & send most of your tweets during the right hours of the day when most people are online.

2. Place relevant social media buttons in your blog

If are an active blogger you should place relevant social media buttons on a strategic position of your blog.  Do keep in mind that usually the best position for a button is on the top of the article, near the title. Also it is recommended to use the standardised buttons that people know and trust. Finally it is recommended to use buttons that let your readers see how many shares or likes a particular post has. This will encourage them to share it with all their followers.

3. Add a twitter badge on your website

Adding a “follow me” twitter badge on a visible area of your site will help you attract more users. Also it is a great idea to add your social media profiles in your Contact page. This is because some people might find it easier to contact you through these channels rather than sending you an traditional email.

4. Add your twitter account in your email signature

This encourages the people that contact you by email, to find you on twitter. Also adding your other social media profiles like LinkedIn and Facebook is a great way to increase your business connections.

5. Add your twitter username to your business card

This can help you increase the number of followers from your own industry.

6. Using hashtags

Twitter uses #hashtags to group together tweets or add additional information about a message. For every topic, industry or event the community will use alot of different hashtags. Here are some examples: #SEO #socialmedia #SEM #Digitalmarketing #Google #followfriday etc.

twitter3

7. Participate on #FollowFriday

Every Friday twitters will recommend other interesting users to their followers. Make sure you recommend other important followers to the people that connect with you. In alot of cases you will see that they will do the same for you. The 2 most popular #hashtags about Follow Friday are the #ff and #followfriday.

8. Interact with other people in twitter

If you want to be popular on twitter you must interact with other people. Chat. discuss, provide feedback, retweet messages, ask and reply questions. Do not forget that the main aim of social networks is to socialize with others, not only to promote your company.

9. Update your bio, image & Background

Adding accurate bio &  information in your profile can assist other people find you and follow you. Selecting a good profile image &  background can also help you  to show  users that you are a professional. Also don’t forget that first impressions are very important. It like getting a management job in Malaysia .

10. Follow people with similar likes & interests

Twitter is a great place to find new internet friends, exchange ideas & participate on discussions. By socializing with other people you will not only increase your followers count but also be able to influence other people on twitter.

11. Send high quality tweets

Sharing high quality content and messages with your followers is very important in order to become popular. By sharing your views, news, trends, quotes, links & websites that you found useful, you can slowly increase your followers and become a more influential user.

12. Don’t send 140 char twitter messages

People usually give credit to the original author of a tweet, when they Retweet (RT) a message. Many times they choose not to use the ReTweet button because they want to add their comments. But by sending messages shorter than 140 chars you give the chance to other people to give credit to you by placing your username in the tweet or to add their comments. This will help you generate conversation and increase your twitter followers.

13. Add yourself in some Twitter directories

There are a lot of twitter directories out there, where people can find other twitter users with similar interests. But not all of them are worth using, but there are few such as WeFollow that receive lots of traffic and is pretty good.

14. Conduct a contest on twitter

Conducting contests on social networks can help you increase your business brand awareness, your followers & the traffic of your site.

15. Connect your Facebook profile with Twitter

There are many applications that can assist you connect your Facebook or LinkedIn profile with Twitter. In this way you can post the same messages to all the people that connect with you on the many different social networks and increase your total  social connections.

16. Use your twitter profile when commenting on Blogs

When posting a comment on a blog, it is a good practice to add your twitter profile as the link. This can help you start a conversation with the authors and thus increase your followers.

17. Tweet mentions and Thank the people that help you

When people ReTweet, mention you or help you, make sure you thank them. Not only is this the proper thing to do, but also they will appreciate it and they will continue support you.

twitter-bird

18. Don’t Spam you followers

If you start to spam your followers they will unfollow you and you will kill your reputation. Keep in mind that honest & transparent behaviour can help you not only increase your twitter followers and keep the ones that you have.

19. Create a separate list of useful tweets

As we said above it is important to tweet often and send quality messages. Due to the fact that you can’t be on Twitter 24/7 or you might not have always something useful to send, you can create a list of interesting topics, tips, techniques, articles and references and use them when you are stack. This list can contain useful information about your industry how-to articles, tutorials and references to your blog.

20. Use Twitterfeed or a similar services

TwitterFeed & similar services or programs can help you automate your tweets, connect to your blog with Twitter & Facebook and schedule your future tweets. These services can increase your follower count because they can help you tweet more often. Nevertheless remember that these services should not be replacing you on social media & that you must remain an active user.

Google’s +1 button is finally here!

 

After all the talk, Google’s +1 button is now officially here. In a low-key blog post, Google simply announced that the button has launched with a handful of web properties, comprised of the usual suspects. 

google-plus-one

Google is letting people add +1 buttons to their own sites. Webmasters can get all the info on the code by visiting Google’s +1 button code generator page. The code is straightforward for nearly all Webmasters, comprising a JavaScript include for your “head” and a matched set of tags where your want the +1 button to appear in your docuement body.

Ways to Set the Button Up

Currently, there are few options:

When adding the button you have your choice of four sizes ranging from 15 pixels to 60 pixels tall, set the language annotations will appear in, and the option to display (or not) a counter indicating the number of +1s your page has received.

For advanced Webmasters, you may also specify callback functions in the form of a JSON object. You can also pass a URL to the +1 button code. This is especially useful for bloggers who want to put the +1 button in their list of recent posts or category pages. By default, the +1 button uses the URL of the page it is on. By passing a different URL, you can +1 a page using a button on a completely different page. Twitter’s Tweet button allows this functionality, too.

Do You Really Need it?

Aside from yet another social button by which to share, what does this mean for you and your Web site? Although you would not know it from the low-key announcement, this is Google’s most important push towards social search, with so much riding on it that Larry Page has made a bonus plan for Google employees.

Annotations will now be seen by people you (and others) are connected to via Google. However, Google has yet to prove that +1s will have the same far-reaching impact that Facebook likes currently offer.

However, a close reading reveals that Android Market, YouTube, Blogger and Product Search will all see +1 buttons arriving soon. This has the potential to be a game-changer as it will be the first time that user data is really exchanged between these properties. In particular, Android Market definitely stands to successfully differentiate itself against the Apple AppStore – which has no means to bookmark apps or recommend them to friends, even via iTunes Ping.

New Data Nuggets

Web analytics may not necessarily need another metric but +1 button promises to help measure engagement. Official details on what data will stream from Google’s +1 button are not available yet, but Jim Prosser from Google confirmed that “we’re bringing data to Analytics, Webmaster Tools, and AdWords frontend soon”.

Nontheless, there are methods of tracking +1s to your pages. By writing your own Javascript function, you can track +1 clicks as a Google Analytics event using _gaq.push() and use GA’s standard reporting functionality.  All-in-all, the +1 button will now become another micro-conversion that may provide insight to how your site is performing and how users are engaging with your content.


 

 

Twitter now has a “follow” button, to follow the “tweet” button!

 

There seems to be a button war going on all around us. Google, Yahoo, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, digg — they’ve all been trying to get their buttons in prime real estate on big websites. But 2 players are larger in the space than anyone else: Facebook & Twitter. And Twitter has just escalated the war a bit today.

Twitter has just unveiled their new Follow Button. This follows their previous Tweet Button which is already in use on 1000s of websites around the web. While the Tweet Button was great for sharing single pieces of content, the Follow Button is meant to establish more twitter social connections on the web. So, it’s kinda like the Facebook Like Button, which people place on their sites to get other Facebook users to establish themselves to brands remotely. Of course, the Like Button also kinda acts a bit like the Tweet Button as well (that is, you can also share individual pieces of content from it too).

Are you confused yet?

Twitter’s 2-button concept is actually pretty simple. The Tweet Button is to share things. The Follow Button is to make connections with other Twitter users remotely. So if we were to add a Follow Button to the sidebar on DigitalOnlinestrategy.com, with one click, you could follow our twitter account. This is something Twitter tried to do with the Tweet Button pop-up , but this is a lot easier to understand. Though it also seems like this is actually part of what they were doing with @anywhere — whatever happened to that idea anyway?

And again, it’s all a part of Twitter’s move towards a stronger social graph with much more connections. This will also help with discovery since Twitter is launching the “Follow Button” on over 50 high-profile sites including places like our sister sites , About.me, AOL.com, and Huffington Post. And big sites like  Lady Gaga’s site,IMDb, MTV.com, Jennifer Lopez’s site, and others.

 

Twitter getting more complicated or just getting more social? You be the judge

Twitter has added a couple of features recently, that while adding more social elements may risk ‘jumping the shark’ a little. The new features are the ability to see what tweets your followers are making as well as those made by people they follow. They also added a “stumble through” button allows you to shuffle through your followers tweet streams.

twitter-1

Now how many people are scratching their heads wondering what all that was about and if it is something users really need?

The beauty of Twitter was its simplicity. Being forced to communicate in 140 characters at first seemed ridiculous but quickly took hold because it was simple. The company played with a few features over the few years of its existence but dropped most as they did not foster that simplicity. Now it seems Twitter wants more interaction between its users and are launching these new features to foster this. But should they?

twitter-2

“You can see above that you will be able to click on a person that youíre following and see Tweets from their followers. This means that you are effectively looking at their Twitter stream,” the Next Web noted. The feature had been available a couple of years ago but was pulled, they added.

The ‘stumble” feature has not rolled out globally but the pic below shows there will be a button to click to go through and see others tweet streams. This could come in handy, but is it essential? Social media sites have a tendency to get lucky with their initial service offer and then make changes to what they belive their users want and in many cases they are wrong. Hey, even Google has launched bad products and pulled them quickly.

twitter-3

Why do I want to randomly see a twitter stream of one of the people I follow? Is this a feature to just get more interaction? Twitter does not run ads so the extra pageviews will not add to their income – or are they ready to monetize and want to have some increased pageview generators in place?

One has to wonder if the people at Twitter are making moves that may become too intrusive and change the perception of this simple yet popular communication tool. Twitpics was a hugely successful feature – whether these two new ones become popular has yet to be seen. Personally, I don’t think this feature will become very popular… but I have been wrong before.

What It Takes To Become an Effective Link Builder

Good link builders are a special hybrid of SEOs. There are a lot of good SEOs in the industry, but effectively building links is very different from just keyword research, copywriting, or technical analysis. I’ve been thinking alot about what makes a good and effective link builder.

Whether you’re an SEO expert looking to improve your own skills or a marketing manager looking to hire a new link builder, here are the characteristics of a good and effective link builder.

Internet Culture

SEO is one of the few industries where my history as an awesome video game player, an epic geared raiding Wizard, forum admin and hacker supreme became a marketable skill.

I’m an awesome marketer online, not because I have  marketing training, but because I understand online communities properly.

A link builder should read Reddit daily, keep on top of memes, , use StumbleUpon,read Hacker News , and engage on Twitter. They should follow analysis on these communities.

Internet Culture

Real creativity is one of the things that is difficult, maybe impossible, to teach. It can be encouraged through culture, because everyone has a level of creative genius, but creativity is something I would hire for.

Sea, especially link building, is moving closer to being inbound marketing, which is starting to become difficult to distinguish from pure traditional marketing. Creativity is a driver of holistic marketing strategies.

The Search engine optimisation creative process can also be inspired.

At Digital Online Strategy, we have a structures in place which help inspire creativity. It’s important to establish boundaries and kinds of thinking that help creativity. Having the ability the stop,  drink a beer, and invest full mental power allows your brain to free itself up creativity.

Analytical Skills

But creativity isn’t enough for an effective link-builder. Technical skills are also a requirement. Digital online strategy carries resident math, computer science, and computer engineering majors. Before leaving college to pursue a career in SEO, I was studying computer engineering and worked at Vanderbilt where I did pharmacology research and development.

A good link builder should have an understanding of data analysis to conduct competitive link analysis, to dig deep into a website’s information, to perform research, and to bring insights out of large sets of crazy information.

This also includes good skills on using the right tools, such as Excel, and Google Analytics.

Good analytical skills allow a link builder to do 2 things really well:

  1. Readily scale processes by evaluating data effectively.
  2. Recognise changes & trends, which can be reapplied to your digital marketing efforts.

Technical Skills

Although a not so technical link builder can build links through the process of content creation, business development, PR and outreach; they don’t have the ability to develop products or agile tools without leaning on another team.

Technical Skills a Link Builder need to Have

  • Knowledge of (X)HTML/CSS
  • Understanding of at least one modern programming language (no need to code, but hack at least)
  • Knowing how to build agile tools in Google Docs
  • Knowing how to upload files via FTP
  • Knowing how to execute 301 redirects using .htaccess and how to develop robots.txt files
  • Knowledge of sufficient coding skills to “get” tools like Firebug

Sociable Geek

A link builder is not the same as a technical SEO, and must be a social geek. The SEO who loves crawl analysis may absolutely hate talking to people. A link builder must be happy talking and engaging with complete strangers about links.

I do believe being sociable is a skill you can learn. By nature, I’m very introverted, so I find people describing me as a “ personable search marketer” a bit odd. I have improved my skills as a link builder by constantly presenting, facing clients all the time, going to networking events, and talking to strangers on the tram.

Sales Experience

Very few job experiences taught me more about link-building than the 3 months I worked in-house as an internet marketing intern and was placed into the sales department. I worked on a 15 person cold calling sales team and was exposed to their culture during my time working with them.

Recommended Sales Reading for Link Builders

Ingenuity

By ingenuity, I mean something totally different from just creativity.

Ingenuity is intellectual hustle.

Ingenuity allows link builder to develop well thought out, systematic & clever solutions. Ingenuity is seen in careers like developers, scientists, artists, engineers and musicians.

Ingenuity also leads to agile toolsscrapers, and custom search engines. Link building ingenuity leads to building great indexes of the internet & also scalable link building tools. Effective link builders are willing to intellectually hustle to get a solution.

Hustle

A link builder isn’t just putting links on websites, they are building businesses. They’re creating the difference between a good business and its competition. As a link-builder, you should always be bringing hustle to your work all the time. A link builder with hustle can dominate big brands and companies with huge budgets by simply outworking them all.

Extra “Panda” Update Information Starting to Appear..

 

Last Friday, Google posted an update on its Webmaster Central blog titled “Providing More Guidance on Building High-Quality websites“. The blog post expands on much of what Google has said about the infamous Panda update since its first release on February 24th.

In statements about the Panda update, Google has used a number of questions that they’re attempting to answer with an algorithm. “Do you feel comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?” & “Would you take medical advice from this site?” are 2 that have been around since the very beginning. Last Friday’s Webmaster Central post offered up a better list with some of the highlights below:

  • Does the website have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Does the article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine/real interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by trying to guess what might rank well in the search engines?
  • Does the article provide original/real content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its particular topic?
  • Is the content being mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of content creators, or spread across a large network of websites, so that individual pages or websites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Is this the sort of page you would want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of advertising that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Will users complain when they see pages from this site?
  • Will you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?

Answering the “touchy” Questions

We can conclude how Google can algorithmically answer quite a number of the questions, but what about those “touchy” questions, like the credit card issue question? It’s hard to say, but actually having alot of the questions answered about your website might provide some valuable feedback. If you’re an in-house SEO for a website that has been banned, perhaps one of the following services can be used to help a claim for a re-design or some other change in website philosophy.

UserTesting

User Testing LogoUserTesting is a high-end feedback solution. For $39 you will get a video of a user interacting with your website. UserTesting lets you to ask the user up-to 4 questions after they’ve completed the feedback video, which would be a execellent place to ask some of our Panda questions. 

Other Panda Odds and Ends

NPR did a  long story on Panda’s effect on one company’s struggle since it got Panda-fied: Google’s search new tweaks puts a company at risk

Matt Cutts quote from that  particular story:

“Think about something like an Apple product, when you buy an Apple product you open it up, the box is beautiful, the packaging is beautiful, the entire experience is really wonderful”.

It sounds to me that this particular statement is really just another way of saying “huge amounts of duplicated or bad content on your site can impact the whole domain”.

Reversing the Effects of  the Panda update

Tom Critchlow had this exchange of words with Matt Cutts on Twitter:

@mattcutts assuming a site completely reworks their site/content after panda, how long before they will regain traffic?less than a minute ago via web  Favorite  Retweet  Reply

@tomcritchlow short version is that it’s not data that’s updated daily right now. More like when we re-run the algorithms to regen the data.less than a minute ago via web  Favorite  Retweet  Reply

Moral of this story: Do not expect rankings to come right back after making changes. This is a quite frustrating because webmasters cannot make a change, wait to see if the change actually “worked”, then try something else. It also might explain why there has been so few reports of websites regaining their traffic.

A 3rd Panda Spotted?

Some rumors picked up in early May that a 3rd Panda update may have gone live. Users were reporting wild fluctuations in their rankings and other weird things in the Google cache and site search commands. Considering what Matt Cutts said above, it  actually makes more sense for Panda updates to hit suddenly and all at once, rather than over a longer period of time. Some sources are reporting that their exact match domains took a hit.

So our current Panda timeline now reads:

  1. Feb 24th, 2011: New Panda rollout on Google.com searches
  2. April 11th, 2011: New Panda rollout to all English speaking Google sites. Additional tweaks made to original algorithm
  3. May 3-6th, 2011: Mabe a Third Panda update?

Have you seen any drastic traffic changes during this time frame? Have any of your websites recovered from initially being Panda-fied?

 

It Now Pays To Watch Ads On Facebook


Facebook has introduced a program on Thursday that offers consumers a credit incentive to watch ads on the site.

Facebook will now reward fans who watch certain ads with Facebook Credits, which in turn can be redeemed to purchase other goods on Facebook Deals, the company’s new Groupon-like daily deals venture. The incentive, however, is not very huge. Initially, the average ad will only yield 1 credit, which is equivalent to only 10 cents.

The ads will be mostly in games. Zynga, Digital Chocolate & CrowdStar are among the participating game publishers. Facebook is working with SupersonicAds, SocialVibe, Sharethrough & Epic Media  to serve ads on the program as well as TrialPay, which will provide cool analytics.

The CEO of Sharethrough, says Facebook’s move represents “a step away from disruptive advertising.” Sharethrough’s clients include Nestle and Microsoft, who say their network won’t deliver traditional advertising but rather very branded entertainment, which consumers will want to share & watch with their friends.

Giving incentives to consumers to watch ads is one solution for Facebook’s very low banner click-through rates. This move comes after Facebook expanded its Credits program last week to allow consumers use their Credits to buy real-world things advertised in the Deals. Last time, the credits, which were awarded for fans who signed up for various programs  or bought outright could only buy virtual goods.

Search and Social: Are You Missing Out?

It seems that every so often I’m presented with managing a client’s search engine optimization (SEO) campaign and immediately run into a disconnect: no social media presence! To me, the two logically go together, but to others they may seem mutually exclusive. They’re missing out!

Admittedly, search engines utilize social media factors when determining rankings. How could you not? With sites like Facebook attracting over 500 million users, and Twitter producing 50 million tweets per day, search engines would be remiss if they failed to acknowledge the key signals indicated when users recommend, “Like,” share, tweet, update, or otherwise share information.

If you were a search engine, trying to filter out spam and produce the right results to searchers, wouldn’t you want to make sure you properly “counted” the content/websites that online users really find interesting? That’s where social media comes into play.

Real-time Search

In the recent past, online users have seen search engine’s experimentations with integrating social media factors into their algorithms. The addition of real-time search to Google (and subsequently to Bing) is proof positive that search engines actually care what is said in the social realm.

They’ve made a few adjustments since they started showing the results back in December , but occasionally you’ll see it pop up in the SERPs. Imagine tweeting from your branded account, and having your tweet pop up in a prospective clients search — on the first page of Google.

Rankings

Not only can your social media profile be showcased in real-time search, the profile itself can rank for keywords. For example, for about a week now, a Google search for [holiday gifts] (a term searched an estimated 49,500 times per month) ranked the Twitter account @ number one.

Google SERP Holiday Gifts

Reputation Management

Maybe ranking for specific keywords aren’t your concern with social media, but reputation management is your thing. Social profiles rank high for brand names, especially heavy hitters like Twitter and Facebook.

But don’t forget about niche sites. This list of niche social networking sites is continually updated, reviews are available, and organized by niche. Brands can rank highly using social sites such as LinkedIn, Business Exchange, iCareCafe, and even MySpace.

Be sure to sign up for, and utilize, niche sites. Not only for rankings, but also the simple fact that your prospects might just frequent these sites. If you have a presence and are active, you won’t just be helping your rankings — you’re potentially helping your bottom line and getting direct traffic to your site.

Site Search

It’s time to start thinking of sites like Twitter and Facebook as search engines. Twitter serves up a reported 24 billion searches per month. This, compared to the rough estimates from Bing (4.1 billion) and Yahoo (9.4 billion), is truly monumental. The trend is shifting. Will you be there to take advantage?

Keyword Research

Have you ever used social media for keyword research? You can gain a lot of insight into what your audience is talking about by looking at Twitter searches, and integrating that “jargon” into your SEO campaigns. You’d be surprised what new keywords you can find simply by listening a bit to your audience, and integrating them into your messaging and SEO efforts.

Link Building

In the traditional sense, social sites can be a way for your brand to build links back to your website. Whether it’s a link to your most recent blog post, a link to your services page, or even a keyword in your bio that links back to your website, each can be seen by Google and are given some “credit.” These links are almost always no-follow, but no-follow doesn’t mean they are “unseen” or purposeless.

One way businesses fail to truly optimize their social link building for search engines is in the lack of keyword integration. A few suggestions:

  • Use your keywords in your tweets, and follow it up with a link to your website. Even if you use a short URL, you can optimize your efforts. Many free URL shorteners allow users to customize the URL. Put your keywords in there!
  • Import your blog to your social profile (Facebook allows this, as do many others). If your blog has an internal link to your site (of course hyperlinked to your keywords), it will be transferred to your social profile when posted.
  • Add keywords to the meta title of your social profile. In Twitter the meta title of your profile is the name field and handle. Add some of your keywords in this area (as applicable).
  • Anytime you upload an image to your Flickr page, Facebook, etc., why not add a keyword? Just one more area you can optimize your efforts for search engines.

As you can see, there are many ways in which social merges with search (or search merges with social), and many areas where businesses very well may miss out. So the big question you must answer is: How do you make sure your brand doesn’t miss out on optimizing your social media efforts for search engines?

 

Kaila Strong

13 Questions To Ask Before You Hire A Local SEO Consultant

Just got an inquiry from the millionth small business who had wasted a nice chunk of their budget on an offshore SEO agency that did a grand total of nothing except worthless spammy link building. Here’s an example.

I am not going to bitch about snake-oil salesmen, ethics, how many good SEOs there are, etc. Instead I am going to ask every small biz out there who is reading this to sit up straight, stop mumbling, look me in the eye and pay attention. It’s time to wise up.

Now I know you are no search marketing expert. That’s why you’re looking for help with your SEO right? So I thought it might be useful to put together this list of questions for the next time you take a pitch from your friendly local SEO consultant:

Can you tell me exactlyhow you do what you do? Local SEO is not magic. There is a long list of techniques that are known to work. Some work better than others. While how a SEO campaign is executed can have some proprietary aspects to it, in general a good SEO consultant should have no problem telling you how that are going to go about improving your rankings. In particular you want to make sure they are not using any spammy techniques that could potentially harm your business. If they avoid the question or they don’t seem particularly transparent about their methodology, hang up the phone. It’s not particularly hard to switch out a toilet, but most people would prefer to hire an expert so it gets done right. Your plumber doesn’t have any secrets (at least I think he doesn’t) so why should your SEO consultant?

What are you going to need from me to be successful? While it typically takes some time to analyze the state of a business’ SEO, the consultant likely has a list of tactics they will deploy which they know from the start. Some of these will require input from the client. It’s important for you to understand up front how much of commitment will be required. Knowing how much time, money and human resources you will need to spend will help you determine how profitable this effort will be.

Do I control access to all accounts? Typically local SEO engagements require updating your business’ profiles on a number of sites: Google, Bing, Yahoo, yellow pages sites, etc. I hear from businesses all of the time who can no longer get into their Google Place Page account because their old SEO agency or a former employee created it for them. It is critical that you control admin access to the account for any profile or page created for you by a third party. This can save you a lot of headaches if you part company in the future.

How are the spammers doing it? Most SEOs I know typically work inside of the various search engines’ guidelines to achieve great rankings for their clients. It can be tedious, not-very-glamorous work, but in the long run it pays off. That said, there are a whole host of successful SEOs that use less-than-kosher techniques that can pay off fast and drive a ton of new customers to their clients. While these techniques can be risky, the short term ROI on them can be stellar. I would never recommend that a client go this route, but as I watch the same spammy fake address listing rank #1 for a valuable local query for the third month in a row, I would be hard-pressed to tell a client that it is not worth doing. If you are going to play in this game, you need to know both how to play by the rules and how to break them. If the consultant doesn’t know about these techniques, how are they going to know how to beat them?

What is a typical return on investment for one of your clients? This is always a great question. Depending on the client’s business, a good search marketing consultant should be able to come up with some kind of tangible ROI metric that you can relate to your own business. Instead of “increased traffic 50%” I like stuff like “generated five breast augmentation customers at $1,500 a pop and twenty qualified leads in sixty days.” That one always starts a good conversation with the prospect. 🙂

How do you measure your effectiveness? Pretty simple question. How are you going to prove to me you did what you did and that it worked? Typical answers include: increase in rankings for targeted terms, increased qualified traffic to your site, increased inbound email and phone calls (via a tracking phone number usually), and ultimately increased business.

How do you communicate your effectiveness to me? The consultant should have a system that regularly communicates what they have done, what is going to be done and when.

Who’s my point of contact? You or a 22-year-old? Enough said.

If we part ways, will you remove all your work from my website and the links you have secured? This is why it’s important to understand the consultant’s methodology from the get-go. SEO consultants often rely on networks of sites they control to get links to your site. Then they hold you hostage by threatening to remove those links if you don’t renew a deal. Make sure you understand up front that this is not the case.

Can you show me some representative results? If they can’t show you a company that they have successfully ranked #1 for a variety of competitive terms and give you an idea of how they did it, then say sayonara.

Can you give me some references?

Why do customers leave you? I doubt there is any agency out there that has a perfect record when it comes to performance and customer retention. Customers change their strategies. Consultants don’t hit home runs every time. An honest discussion about challenges the consultant has had with customers and how they are improving things is always a good thing. A good consultant should almost be proud of their mistakes. I like to tell my clients that when I started doing SEO I lost a lot of traffic and learned enough so that you don’t have to.

What sets you apart from other SEO companies? The answer here shouldn’t be “we get you ranked #1.” What you really want to know is why they think they deserve your business vs. the thousands of other guys out there?

 

Andrew Shortland

Facebook Marketing – Facebook Page Optimisation

This blog post will cover what social media optimisation is and how to optimise a Facebook Page both for search engines and user engagement. Hope it will be an eye opener for you

Overview of Social Media Optimisation (SMO)

Facebook Page optimisation has been of particular interest, due to the increasing popularity of Facebook.

Facebook Pages are excellent tools which can be used to increase brand visibility and engage followers through the use of some simple strategies and techniques

So what exactly is Social Media Optimisation and how can it be applied to Facebook?

For those still baffled between social media optimisation (hence Facebook Page optimisation) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) here is a well cited quote from Rohit Bhargava, the Vice President for Interactive Marketing with Ogilvy Public Relations described the concept of social media optimisation as a technique in which to

“  ..implement changes to optimize a site so that it is more easily linked to, more highly visible in social media searches on custom search engines (such as Technorati), and more frequently included in relevant posts on blogs, podcasts and vlogs. “

What this means is that compared to SMM, which includes paid Facebook Ads and other methods that externally market your social media sites, SMO is about improving the components that lies internally within your social media accounts.

By optimising the components such as your profile ‘Info’ fields,  your wall status updates, the notes you create, the custom tabs you can develop with FBML (more information on that further on) you can easily optimise your Facebook Pages..

Facebook page optimisation has generally two main objectives:

1. To optimise for search engines

Optimising for the search engines specifically involves improving all facets of a Facebook Page, so that it will have a better rankings in search engines those indexes and displays search results on Facebook pages.  Examples include optimising keywords for the Facebook Profile Tab and wall status updates.

2. To optimise for user engagement

There is a saying that ‘No man is an island’. This is perfectly apt for a Facebook Page. We don’t only want people to find your Facebook Page, but also to share content with you and spread the word about your wonderful page.  Instead of actively marketing the Facebook Page externally, ensure that your Facebook Page is optimal for encouraging traffic to your main website and other social media assets such as Twitter, YouTube and your blog.

Tips on how to optimise a Facebook Page for search engines

Before we go into how to optimise for a Facebook Page for search engines, we must ask ourselves “Which parts of a Facebook Page exactly does a search engine index and display on their search results?”

An analysis was conducted  using Google Search as it is the dominant search engine in Australia, and in many other countries. After a bit more digging by our team we found that using a simple Google search query to discover what content from Facebook Page were displayed in the search engine results pages. However, we have empirical evidence to suggest that the following sections of the Facebook Page is being indexed and displayed.  This is interesting knowing the body of the Facebook pages are empty with Javascript disabled.

The findings were that a majority of Facebook pages are not indexable by Google due to privacy restrictions, but all public pages are getting crawled and indexed like any other pages on the web. The different tabs are also getting indexed with their relevant URLs, (even though these don’t look very sexy). Note that even user comments get indexed.

We received a report from the genius team over at Searchengineland.com earlier this year which indicated that Google real-time search is now including Facebook Pages as part of its search results.

 

Examples of different parts of a Facebook Page Google can display

Google indexes and displays the title of a notes page created in the Notes application

Google indexes and displays wall status update

Google indexes and displays a link that is posted on the wall

Google indexes and displays comments made on wall post updates

Google indexes and displays Facebook video titles in the universal search


Google indexes and displays the title and also the description of the video

Summary of how to optimise for a Facebook Page

 

  • Always add unique content to your websites, whether it is a wall status update, or a
  • When sending out wall status updates, be sure to include primary keywords relevant to the update
  • Ensure you update your profile description and information, including the short blurb, with keyword rich, while at the same time maintaining relevance and appropriateness
  • When creating notes with the Note application, make sure you optimise the title of the note page with primary keywords.
  • Encourage users to post comments as they can capture greater exposure for your Facebook Page on Google search results.
  • Optimise your titles and descriptions for your videos and photos
  • In general, always think of keywords when you are adding content to any pages!

Tips on how to optimise a Facebook Page for user engagement

Update the ‘Info>Detailed Info’ fields to include links to your websites and other social media assets, similar to what Sony does below. They included links to not only their social media sites but to also other Sony websites.  This will encourage cross-reference traffic between all your websites.

Use Facebook Markup Language (FBML) to create custom tabs on which users can land on. The custom landing tab can be used to promote your Facebook Page, your website, other social media sites you own or just bring to attention a particular piece of information to the visitor. You can place any type of content on a custom tab, be it a link to your homepage, a YouTube video, or a quick survey for your visitors.  An example below is the Sony custom tab called ‘make.believe’.

Facebook has announced that on the 23rd of August 2010, custom tabs for Facebook Pages will be limited to a width of 520 pixels. You will be able to preview your custom tabs before publishing it, so please remember to modify your custom tabs for a greater user experience.

References

Facebook: Profile and Page Roadmap Update: http://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/399

Technical discussion on FBML: http://wiki.developers.facebook.com/index.php/FBML

Static FBML Application Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?sid=4f93513c73973214f42f630bfb78603c&id=4949752878&ref=s

You can create custom FBML boxes on the sidewall to promote your Facebook Page or any of your other websites.

The profile pictures can be more than just the logo of your brand! Maximise the use of your Facebook profile image size and include a call to action or a promotional feature in addition to your logo. The largest official size is 180×540 pixels; however there has been an instance where it was actually 200 x 200.

Both examples are displayed in the following banners taken from some of the largest global brands in the world.

Wrap-up of the post

We’ve gone through a quick definition of what social media optimisation is and covered some tips on how to optimise your Facebook Page for search engines (Using Google as the main example) and then delved into optimising for user engagement.

We hope that this post has helped you become a better social media optimiser. We believe that social media optimisation is complimentary to any search engine optimisation work and should be considered as part of your Internet marketing strategy. Any comments, success or failures, feel free to comment down below. We promise to be nice.

 

Chee Chun Foo on 08/24/2010 @ 7:11 am