Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Search + Social: Why Reviews Matter

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Testimonials and Recommendations matter!

This is simply a fact for any business be it word of mouth or online reviews. Personal recommendations are extremely powerful with regard to growing your business and bringing in new clients and patients. Are people leaving your business positive reviews? Do enough people look closely at what is said in reviews to help your online business grow?

The Role of Online Reviews

google-local-denver-dentistOnline review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Places, and Bing Local give people fast access to location facts and ratings for local neighborhood businesses.  Every year, a growing number of online visitors are using reviews to build their trust in local businesses.

According to a BrightLocal study done in 2013, 85% of consumers said they read online reviews for local businesses.  79% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.  And 73% of consumers said that positive reviews online make them trust a local business more.  There is no denying that customer reviews help you engage with your potential clients and also help you understand potential customer needs.  Reviews also help you improve your online visibility in search results by increasing trust and click-through rates for your website.  This actually helps push your site higher in the rankings if enough people continue to engage with the content they find on your site.

The Role of Social Media

So, how do search engines use reviews in their search results?  At first glance, it’s easy to see that Google and Bing both show the amount of reviews a business has in its local results. With the growing popularity of social networking websites, online searchers have more access than ever to attitudes, opinions, and viewpoints of people who have interacted with a business.  Search engines are realizing how trustworthy and useful this information is by incorporating activity on these sites as favorable ranking factors.  Google utilizes +1s in its algo.  Bing recently rolled out their new Smart Search feature which incorporates reviews from places like Facebook, Mapquest, and Yelp in local results.  Reviews are increasingly becoming more about personal interactivity on social platforms, and sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are playing a bigger role in how a website ranks in search.

How to Best Leverage Social & Online Reviews

With social and review sites in mind, what is the best way to incorporate those reviews and interactions into your greater web marketing plan?  First, if you don’t already have listings or pages on these sites, then, you will want to actively work on claiming and optimizing those listings.  Make sure your business name, address, phone number, business hours, and website url are up to date and current so people can find you and contact you.

Create an outlet where you can expertly provide advice and information about your business.  Promote your special services.  Offer something that “the other guys” do not.  What makes you stand out from the crowd?  Create value, and share it on these pages with potential new clients and customers.

Share and engage with your audience, don’t just spew information (I call this “soap-boxing” – this will lose you followers faster than it will gain them).  When customers feel engaged, they tend to be more loyal to your products and services.  Loyal clients become advocates for your business. With social media, engaged clients and patients can (and probably will) endorse your company for everyone to see.  When that happens, it can be a very powerful tool to enhance your online presence.

Denver Dentist Search Results on Google (with reviews)

Additionally, local businesses with negative reviews will want to respond openly to negative reviews.  A bad review is not necessarily a bad thing.  If used the right way, it can become a positive influencer.  Use the opportunity to reach out and change that reviewer’s experience into something positive.  If the reviewer is not interested in responding, it at least shows future visitors that you are concerned about the experience people have when visiting your business or using your products.  It also shows that you are willing to go that extra mile to make amends.

You will also want to continually generate new reviews from happy clients promoting what you do best.  In doing this you can drive any negative reviews further down the page and keep the newer, positive reviews higher up.  Reviews don’t just affect the impressions a potential client has on your business; it can affect how your business website ranks on Google, Bing, and Yahoo search.

by Tammy Smith SEO Analyst, Page 1 Solutions, LLC

Top Five Google Plus Features

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

With the recent roll out of Google+ three weeks ago, there has been much talk about Google’s attempt to stomp all over Facebook and other social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. So far the Google+ platform is available by invitation only, as they are still tweaking the system and working out the bugs.  I was able to set up a Google+ account two weeks ago and so  far I really like what I’m seeing.

Keep in mind that at this early stage, Google+ works only with Google accounts that have an active Google profile. If you haven’t created your Google profile, you will not be able to sign up for Google+. Judging from the feedback I’m seeing from other users, there are people who love what Google is doing, and then there are those who doubt Google’s ability to create a social media platform that will actually work well and catch on with the Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter crowds.  After all, say the doubters, this is Google’s third attempt in the social media realm.

This time, however, I think they are on to something, and have created a powerful social media tool with a great deal of potential.  G+ integrates what I like most about the other platforms and adds a bit more.

Here are my personal Top Five Favorite Google Plus Features:

#5 – Hangouts – Hangouts is a great way to communicate face to face with anyone via video chat.  It is very easy to set up and, in my experience, works better than Facebook’s Video Chat feature. The interface looks good and is incredibly easy to use.  You only need to download a simple plug-in the first time you initiate use, and you are ready to chat!

Google Hangouts

#4 – Sparks – Sparks is a feature that enables you to find, create, and ultimately share topics of interest and use them like a news feed source for information.  Topics can be broad like the pre-set categories “movies”, “gardening” or “comics”.  You can also create targeted topics like “1950’s Horror Films”, “Growing Tomato Plants”, or “X-Men” by using the Find stuff you’re interested in… search bar.

#3 - Photos / Instant Uploads from Android – For someone like me who is always forgetting to dump the pictures out of my phone, this feature makes photo uploading unthinkably easy!  All you need is the Google+ for Android app and your photos automatically upload themselves to your G+ account immediately after they’ve been taken.  The app is much easier to use than Facebook's upload interface and the photos are quickly uploaded into a private album, by default.  You can set to share them with one or more circles when you upload or you can keep them private and share later. So simple.

#2 - Mute Posts – The Mute post option came so close to being number one on my list. It is a simple thing, but oh, so necessary.  If you have a topic on your Stream feed that no longer interests you, or a conversation that you don’t care to follow, you have the ability to get rid of it via the mute, report, or block options. Link To is also an option in the menu if the conversation is something you want to pass along to others.  Mute post is the kind way of saying "shut up" or "not now" to someone on Google+!

#1 - Circles (and Streams limited sharing capabilities) – Circles is definitely my favorite feature of all!  Circles allow you to add people to different groups and categorize them.  For instance, I currently have a few different Circles categories:  friends, work, family, & following.  Each of these are groups of people I interact with differently.  For instance, I probably wouldn’t share pictures of my weekend exploits with my family or work circles, but would with my friends circle.  I can use the family circle to keep up to date on the upcoming family reunion, and I can chat with co-workers about the latest and greatest SEO happenings in my work circle.  The best part is no one has to read conversations from me that do not pertain to them.  Each circle sees only what they need to see.  No superfluous junk!  If you do happen to  have a big announcement you want to share with everyone, you can easily do that as well.  You do not have to be in your Circles to segregate your posts, you only need to designate who gets to see what right from your posting bar in Stream (via Share what’s new…).

In a not so tiny nutshell, those are my top five favorite features that Google+ has to offer right now.  Keep in mind that what we are seeing in these early stages is Google+ for the individual. With the scheduled roll out of Google+ For Business later this year, Google has the means to integrate much of what they already excel at (search, Google Checkout, advertising, analytics, mapping, and communication) and bundle everything together in one tidy and potentially powerful package for business entities. More on that when Google releases it!

by Tammy Smith SEO Analyst, Page 1 Solutions, LLC

How to be a high-quality player on Twitter

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

The other day, a troll hit me up on Quora, and I tweeted about it. It wasn’t long before Quora co-founder Charlie Cheever (@ccheever on Twitter) came to my rescue:

and a bit later:

With such excellent customer service as that, you better believe that Charlie Cheever earned himself a new Twitter follower. Monitoring brand mentions for instant, proactive CRM is an excellent use of Twitter. Many kudos to Charlie for that!

Recounting the incident later to friends, one of them told me, “Wow, look at you, you’re famous!” To which I blushed and insisted that no, I’m really not. I mean, take a look at my current Twitter stats:

501 followers is so not even close to famous, at least not on Twitter. And yet, my Klout score isn’t half bad for someone with so few followers:

Klout attempts to assign a score to a social media user to gauge their actual influence. How these numbers are calculated is not really important for this article. You can visit their site to read all about it if you like. What is interesting, however, is what happens when you compare my score with those of a handful of the better known players in the internet marketing industry.

@dr_pete: 56
@joehall: 58
@ccheever: 43
@randfish: 68
@tomcritchlow: 58
@justinrbriggs: 50

That’s a pretty random sample grabbed from whoever happened to be sitting in my Twitter feed just now. Every single one of them has more than twice the followers I do, and yet in most cases my score isn’t too far behind theirs. What’s more, I somehow beat the founder of one of the hottest web properties out there! What the heck is going on?

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Stephen Colbert wants “Tall Women Carrying Heavy Things” in his SERPs

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

This week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt visited The Colbert Report, and Stephen Colbert asked Schmidt why nothing comes up when he searches for “tall women carrying heavy things”.

My first thought was that someone should buy that domain, bid on the phrase in AdWords and give Mr. Colbert his fantasy. Seriously, how many people tried that search once he mentioned it? I know I did…

It turns out that this is not the first time Colbert has mentioned his unusual fetish.  TallWomenCarryingHeavyThings.com was registered in April 2007. A guy named Alex posted a long rambling page describing his apparently lonely and somewhat sad life and how he came to purchase the domain after seeing it listed as Colbert’s third most checked website.

“My name is Alex. I currently have no girlfriend, in a few days I will have no job, and I just got back from watching a movie that was considerably out-of-focus at the local theatre. I come home to my sister’s dog welcoming us back and still constipated (sadly he has been ill all day).”

Poor guy.

I was somewhat disappointed that someone had gotten to it three years ahead of me. But then I started poking around a little bit and got to thinking about it, and man, this guy is missing out on some major opportunities here! The site name alone is wonderful link bait, given that it was mentioned in front of Eric Schmidt on The Colbert Report. So here are my suggestions for Alex:

1. Convert it to a WordPress site. Easy to do, lots of theming possibilities that don’t look like something off of Geocities circa 1997. Use it to post pictures of, well, tall women carrying heavy things! Something about this whole concept reminds me of another old Comedy Central gem, The Man Show, and how they always ended the show with totally gratuitous video of hot girls jumping on trampolines. Run with the concept!

2. Toss some AdSense on this puppy. As SEOs we sometimes tend to eschew AdSense on the notion that it somehow devalues the site’s authority, but let’s face it, this is an extremely niche-y site that doesn’t need a lot of page rank. It’s a gimmick, really. Might as well make some cash on it.

3. Set up AdWords. I have a sneaking suspicion that “tall women carrying heavy things” is not going to be all that expensive to bid on. The only ad that shows right now is for The Colbert Report, and they’re essentially advertising your website for you.

4. Set up Google Analytics. While I’m pretty sure it’s a no brainer that your top referring keyword will be “tall women carrying heavy things”, wouldn’t it be interesting to see how many of hits are referred from ColbertNation.com? Or even just how many people search it every time the show mentions it?

5. Put @BobbyGeorgina to good use. Use that poor, underutilized Twitter account of yours to promote your new blog of photos of tall women carrying heavy things. Tweet them at @StephenAtHome in fact! And while we’re on social media, set up a Facebook fan page for your site. Post about it on the fan page for The Colbert Report. By the way, congrats on curing that pesky “no girlfriend” situation, but you’re following six Twitter accounts, and none of them are Stephen Colbert? Really??

Please, Mr. Alex Kirkland, you’ve got first mover advantage here. Please do something awesome with this site!

Why Facebook Places is doomed

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

When Facebook launched its new geosocial check-in service one week ago, I was convinced it was going to blow its stand-alone competitors completely out of the water simply because it lives where the vast majority of social networking addicts already spend large chunks of time. That would make it hugely accessible and convenient – no need to leave Facebook to broadcast your location such as is necessary with Foursquare or Gowalla. Why go out of your way when it was already right there?

As an SEO, I was excited about it. Check-ins provide another avenue of brand exposure for my clients, and Facebook was telling business owners to claim their profiles. We scouted out the process for our clients by claiming our own company profile.  Now, a mere week after Facebook Places was launched, I am ready to predict that it is doomed to fail without some fairly major adjustments. Here’s why.

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Google FanGirl: YouTube Queue

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

I use a lot of Google products on the daily: GMail, Docs, Reader, Analytics, Places, Maps…. you get the  picture. Google is my go-to for all things web.

Naturally, of course, I watch videos on YouTube. Just like the rest of you, but I do it because I LOVE GOOGLE!

…Ahem. I noticed something totally awesome today on YouTube and it made me wonder, “Why the heck has no one else talked about this yet? Am I the only special one to hear get access to it or am I just 2 years behind, as usual?” I checked with some other Ninjas, and it seems that it is in fact a new feature, and I LOVE IT. You don’t even have to be logged in to have it.

Want to know what it is?

YouTube Queue.

YouTube Queue

Lookie, there it is, at the bottom of the page!

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All Searches Are NOT Created Equal

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Why Facebook Surpassing Google in Search Volume May Mean Very Little to Business

This morning, BusinessWeek posted an article on this and many other Google woes. While Google may indeed have other issues, in my opinion, search isn’t one of them. Here’s why. (more…)

The Right Tool for The Right Job

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

I may be a total girl when it comes to actually using most of the tools in anyone’s garage, but I absolutely love them. I love the magic that happens when a painstaking task becomes effortless thanks to a brilliantly engineered device. Since I like to nerd-out about my favorite things while talking about SEO, let’s see if I can draw some parallels between my three favorite actual tools, and their theoretical SEO counterparts!

The “mini power tool” (shown in the photo) that was developed and used by NASA for the last repair of the Hubble Space Telescope combined with the fastener capture plate developed for many uses on the same mission is an awesomely specific and effective combination. The mini power tool was developed specifically to allow astronauts to remove tiny screws from one panel of the Hubble telescope. It had to be made smaller than previous power tools in order to gently remove the small screws, and a light was installed in the front of it so astronauts could clearly see them. The fastener capture plate allows for the screws to be removed cleanly, capturing all the screws as they are removed so they don’t drift off into space… or worse, inside the telescope.

This tool reminds me a lot of Yahoo! Site Explorer. It is an invaluable tool to SEOs for either evaluating your own backlinks or looking at the backlinks of a competitor. There’s really no better tool for the job. SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer is a close replacement, and certainly offers some nice metrics in addition to links, but we’ve found that it doesn’t give as complete or accurate a list as YSE. We are devastated with the thought that it might go away. Both of these tools are great examples of tools engineered to a very specific purpose. However, they also both share a ginourmous fault – being a one-trick pony. Yahoo! Site Explorer only shows us backlinks – why not also show local citations and reviews? Why not allow an option to see social media citations? Yahoo could also take a page out of SEOmoz’s book and show some trust rankings. My next favorite is a much, much more versatile tool…

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Sub-Sites: White Hat or Grey Hat?

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Search engine marketing, especially in large metropolitan areas, is becoming increasingly competitive. With more and more business owners and professionals becoming aware of the benefits of ranking high for relevant search terms, it is becoming increasingly challenging to rank well.

The typical “formula” for good on-page optimization looks something like this (not an all-inclusive list, but does touch on some of the main points):

  • A search relevant URL
  • A “flat” html file structure
  • Search friendly html file names
  • Relevant page titles
  • Quality, unique content  (and plenty of it)
  • Good on-page linking with relevant anchor text

Then you go into the off-page factors like:

  • Local profiles (Google, Bing, etc.)
  • Quality, relevant Inbound links (I have issues with this one, as it still seems that spammy links benefit results. I guess my definition of spammy differs from that of Google.)
  • Blogging
  • Active social networking profiles

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MySpace is Being Included in Google’s Real Time Search…Where is Facebook?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Google released the news yesterday that they had reached an agreement with MySpace, and now MySpace will be available in their real-time search results. I find this interesting, since MySpace is a dying social network by most accounts, but what I really find interesting is that Facebook still isn’t being included. Why do you suppose that is?

Well, I think it’s because Google is a Bitter Betty.

Yep. I said it.

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