Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What's Best For Your Company

I was going to write today about effective social marketing updates, but another topic got my attention this morning. I recently had a client call to tell me that his company was going to go with a web designer/SEO company that was local to him. The choice to have a local company handle your search engine optimization is a personal one, and I always encourage my clients to do what's best for them and their business. Since Crescent Moon Design Studio does business both locally and worldwide, I understand when a client wants more face-to-face contact with their Internet marketing professionals. I released his hosting and domain accounts and gave him all his site files and content for use with his new design company.

That was a few months ago. Today, out of sheer curiosity, I went and looked at my former client's new site. It was efficient, professional, and laid out well when it displayed in different browsers. But then, I looked at the source code.

There were literally ten pages of code before you ever found any content in the source code. There are some schools of thought to this that support the idea that search engine spiders will ignore code when crawling a page. Other schools of thought hold that the spiders won't crawl past a certain point in the code and will simply stop after a certain number of characters. The literature isn't particularly clear on this point; on the one hand, I can see how search engine spiders' algorithms are complex and could be coded to skip over the reams and reams of JavaScript, Applets, Flash, et cetera, that's been embedded in the source code. On the other hand, I've always thought it better to be safe than sorry. Besides, it's not that hard to write a line of code referencing JavaScript, Applet, Flash, and CSS files that loads them off the page. The effect is the same, and if the spiders don't like code, well, then, it doesn't matter, does it?

The second problem was that the new designer had buried the main keywords under a hierarchial menu, which means that the content that contained the keywords only appears two to three clicks away from the main page. This means that his main keywords, cultivated over literally years of working with the site, never appear on any of the main "hub" pages.

I suppose my advice at this point would be to keep an eye on the site to make sure it gets indexed properly by search engine spiders and alter the content on the main pages accordingly. Since I am no longer in charge of that site, that would be left up to the new designer or the site owner. There are, of course, dozens of other aspects to the SEO of a site that would have to be considered, as well, but, in the end, what's the point of having a flashy, professional-looking site that nobody visits?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Social Marketing & You... & you... & you....

Social marketing is something of a new "buzzword" in the search engine optimization industry, but it has been around a lot longer under different names. In the modern context, what we're talking about is using sites that link people to one another in order to market your business, venture, product, whatever it may be. The most popular places for this are Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. There are several others, including YouTube - which will get its own post here eventually - but the essential function is this: if people you know (or people in general) like something, you might, too.

These various networking sites give different names to this concept, but the end result is that, via recommendations, other people learn about some information, a page, a product, a movement, a business, a project, a video, a song, or any other thing or idea out there in the world of Internet content (and sometimes real-world content). Facebook calls these recommendations a few different things: "liking" someone's post, becoming a "fan" of something, or joining a "group" about something. MySpace calls it "friending." YouTube calls it "favoriting." Twitter calls it "Re-tweeting," "hash-tagging," or "@-ing." On Digg, you can "dig" or "bury" something.
The point is, if enough people recommend something, it can go "viral," meaning that, for a period of time, the "thing," whatever it is, will be everywhere on the 'Net.

This concept drives home the idea I've been promoting here of having excellent content that people will want to look at and share with others via links, tweets, likes, digs, or whatever the site happens to call it. How do you make this great content? Sometimes, you have a business or product or service that's a little quirky, so using that funny angle, you could create a humorous commercial and post it to YouTube, maybe even as a "reply" to a similar, popular video, so more people will see it. Then, you post that link to your Facebook account, which is linked to Twitter. This means that, once you post that link to your cute, funny video to your Facebook status, it automatically updates your Twitter status. Your Twitter account should by synched to your MySpace account, so the Facebook status updates your Twitter status, which updates your MySpace status. From there, you can also have the Twitter feed going to your web site and blog, so it updates that, too.

Finally, you would posted either a link or an embedded player of your video on your RSS-enabled blog. Over time, if your content is good enough, people will come and take a look. And they'll share your content with others. If your products or services are what people are looking for, you'll make sales. And that's how it links back to your web site content.

Next time, we'll talk about effective social marketing updates that don't come off as "Spammy."