Monday, July 23, 2007

Pay-per-Click versus SEO and Social Media Marketing

Pay-per-click (PPC) can be an excellent way to expand your search engine awareness about products or services in an early stage company and before the SEO and social media marketing tactical results kick in. But keep in mind, as the Internet has matured, so has the cost of pay-per-click advertising. The more viewers/listeners/readers, the more it costs to reach them, so it’s important to know when and when not to use pay per click ads.

PPC is good when you need to supplement key words that are harder to optimize. As an example, the word “antivirus,” which is a popular and hard to optimize key word, could be part of a PPC campaign. The goal however, in many cases, is to raise the bar on the traditional SEO results, and eventually reduce the amount of money spent on PPC. Because if you quit paying for PPC, the visibility goes away completely, whereas if you stop doing traditional SEO, it’ll take awhile for the page results -- where you are on the first pages of the search engines -- to diminish.

PPC is also good when doing targeted regional market rollouts. I recently did an online media plan for one of MarCom Broadband's clients known as Dogtor Paco, with new mortgage payment calculator technology. I like the fact that online newspaper classified advertising in large regional markets, such as the Los Angeles Times online real estate advertising, seems to be cost effective, but the one I really like is CitiSearch because it offers a no risk pay-per-performance (PPP) model - and the fact that it offers a national scope - with ads that run on its partner channels as well.

Companies definitely need a budget for PPC. It’s a day to day tracking experience requiring a lot of time, and in our experience, measurement for results is an essential key component. Often times campaigns require “tweaking” and adjustments before they work. Measurement for results is an essential key component.

On the other hand, an excellent way to expand awareness about your products and services, and to provide link backs to your website is via article submissions, PRWeb, PR Newswire, and a number of free online wire services.

According to Arbitron, 27 million Americans have listened to a podcast, or online radio and TV which has become very popular. Early adopters in any category are going to benefit from this. I recently did a podcast tour for my healthcare client and she’s already done three interviews. The beauty is that they provide links right back to the most popular pages on their website. In fact, check out our client provides this service.

In the end, the more content you have on the Internet with your key words, the better chance you will have to attract communities of people searching for your topic.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Link Building and the Value of Global Social Networking Sites

We have two new student interns thanks to my lectures at Cal State Northridge. Sho is an exchange student from Japan, and Nora is a recent graduate who is helping me with social media marketing and PR for the hispanic community. We gave Sho a laundry list of websites to open accounts so that he can help us with social network link building. A few of them are Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, MySpace, Jaiku, and Wikipedia. He can even go into some of his native social networking sites in Japan and build links for our clients.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and social media marketing include the dredges of link building -- something we all hate doing -- but fundamentally one of the most important account maintenance aspects. Link building could be compared to media relations.

My associate Mike Keesling calls honest link building, “White Hat” Search Engine Optimization (SEO) link building strategies, as this relates to rankings in the organic listings of Google. These kind of links are really, really important. As of late, the number and quality of inbound links to a website are what is under scrutiny by Google. Also known as link popularity, the search engines look at this as how other sites consider your site. Would it be important enough to link to?

The search engines don’t want useless artificially created links. There are "Black Hat" link building techniques such as link farms, or link exchanges, which could easily get your site bounced out of the search engines altogether. There are no easy ways to build link popularity these days because the search engines want to see links from authoritative websites that share the same focus as your site, or opinions and reviews – which can easily be done on social networking sites.

Link building will provide additional visibility for your website, so, when you start to work on building links, don't forget those two basic reasons for requesting links. There’s also an art to link building. The secret is to build one of your key words into the link. If I am writing about “social media marketing,” which is one of my key words – then that is also my link, which will be hyperlinked back to a matching phrase on my client’s website. Because of the way that search engines read dontent, you can use links well when they are in headlines, subheadlines, the first sentence and the middle and the last sentence of an article or release.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Article Submissions for Social MEdia Marketing

Lately it seems pretty clear that the media don't really need PR folks pitching to them. We still do, however, most media are Internet savy enough to research their topics online and find articles about companies out there on the Web. And so that means that we, as marketers, need to make sure that our clients are also out there - accessable even by the media. What does this mean?

You start with a good press room on your website with press releases that include your key words embedded in each release. You add a press kit with documents that describe what your company is all about - that means press releases, company backgrounders or profiles, frequently asked questions (FAQ), product or services profiles, and customer testimonials, etc. Each of these documents too must be key worded.

Next you post your press releases by the wire service companies, and write articles and post them throughout the web in article submission sites. Its important that you not "copy" any documents that are posted. The rule of thumb is to change the content of each artcle on the web about 30 percent because Google will not "count" duplicates.

Just like in the old days, people said retail was all about location, location, location -- well, search engine optimization and social media marketing is all about content, content, content on the Internet.