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Social Media Marketing Strategies: Best Ways to Build Your Brand Using Social Media

The social media revolution will continue in 2013 and for the near future. With Facebook now at more than one billion users and other platforms like Twitter and Pinterest adding users by the millions, marketing teams must use these sites to promote their brand.

Most of the top corporations already realize this reality and they are moving quickly to improve their social media efforts. One of the most important advantages offered by social media is the opportunity it provides for regular interaction with potential and existing customers.

Here are some of the best ways to build your brand using social media:

Make it a daily routine – Social media is important enough for almost any business to engage in it on a daily basis. Indeed, many companies even operate considerable customer and tech support operations on social platforms like Twitter. While not all organizations will be able to dedicate teams or employees to social networking campaigns, they should try to do at least some work in this area on a regular basis.

Outsource if necessary – If you cannot dedicate the employees, time and other resources to learn the social media game, another option is to hire outside agencies to take care of this marketing area. In some cases, this may be more cost effective, especially for companies with limited knowledge of online marketing. By outsourcing your social media branding efforts, you can concentrate more of your resources on the core mission of your company.

Work across multiple platforms – Do not rely on a single social networking platform for your branding efforts. Even large sites like Facebook have limited reach. Some people eschew Facebook for one reason or another, or they are inactive on the site. Among the most important networks are Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and Yelp. Let your online community members on one platform know about your pages on other platforms to increase your networking reach.

Interact with friends and other community members – The big advantage of social media over other types of marketing is the ease in which it allows companies to interact with their audiences. By posting an update on Facebook or Twitter, for example, you can easily reach a good percentage of your community instantly. So long as users do not post overt solicitations, it is unlikely that other community members will view their postings as spam. However, you should not just post content like articles, videos and images. The real advantage of social media is that you can respond directly to others very easily. While you may not be able respond to every comment or posting on your pages, you should make an effort to interact regularly with others.

Post valuable content – Rather than marketing products upfront, it is much more effective to become a source of information that is useful, entertaining or otherwise valuable to your friends, fans, followers and other online community members. Let them come to depend on you as a source of information. Post other good content that you come across, but also create your own content that will originate from your social media pages. When people come to value you as a friend, they will visit your pages more often. Eventually, the social media algorithms will recognize this interaction and your content will start appearing frequently in their newsfeeds.

Market your brand subtly – Instead of coming out and overtly promoting your brand, you should use a more indirect approach. Indeed, it may be against site etiquette to solicit products or services directly. For example, on a Facebook fan page, you can use your logo as the profile picture. For the larger cover image, you can alternate photos and graphics regularly that help promote your brand. In the “About” section of your page, you can list your main homepage along with any associated websites. One good trick to get visitors to your website is to create site-based content like informational articles and videos. You can then share this content on your social media pages. Make the various forms of content helpful rather than sales-oriented so that your friends view them as a service. However, you can include links on the content pages to other pages that directly sell your products and services.

Encourage employees to create pages – In addition to creating a company social media page, encourage each employee to create their own company-oriented page. The page will differ from their personal social media pages and will only be for business purposes. With this strategy, you will be able to grow the company’s online network faster. The employees can invite others in their network to become friends and this will bring them into your company’s network of friends of friends.

Get involved — Use social media for good causes that have nothing to do with your business. The purpose here is to give back to the community and to generate goodwill. By participating in good causes, you and your employees can interact with others in the community and create stronger relationships. People will not only appreciate your work, but in most cases, they will also help spread the word about your business. Work with others on their projects and also lead by creating community-based projects of your own.

Develop strategic relationships – Find out how to work with others on social media platforms for the mutual benefit of everyone in the network. Other businesses or organizations may be willing to cooperate with your company in social media campaigns. On a more basic level, you can simply promote the content of others with the idea that they will reciprocate and do the same for your own content.

Provide calls to action – One of the best ways to achieve viral content on social media is first to create something of quality that is interest to other community members. However, it is also important to ask others to help you in promoting your content. Research studies show that others are much more likely to share, like or comment on your content when you request them to do so. Add notes to your postings like “Please like and share.”

Post-Panda SEO: Stop Building Links, Start Writing Content!

Search engine optimization has long been a goal of virtually every website owner, but recent updates to Google’s search engine algorithms have many scrambling to completely change their ways. In recent updates known as Google Panda and Google Penguin, the world’s largest search engine changed the very structure of the way pages are evaluated, displayed, and ranked during a keyword-targeted internet search. It has had a number of major effects on website developers and marketing professionals, including a strategy that has shifted away from links and toward quality content.

Down with Links: The Changes that are Transforming SEO

Google’s search engine algorithm changes came in two parts. The first was known as Google Penguin, and that update focused on content. Developers at the company found that many websites were taking advantage of Google’s focus on keywords, engaging in an act known as “keyword stuffing” to propel their websites to the top of search result pages. That resulted in a number of spam websites being the “most recommended” website in the eyes of visitors, and it was a serious problem for the company for several years.

The update virtually eliminated that problem, focusing instead on a website’s value, authority, engagement, loading times, conversion rates, and other factors. Excessive use of keywords was punished, rather than rewarded, and habits began to shift.

A second update to the system, termed Google Panda, focused primarily on link spam and excessive outside referrals. Another major way that spam sites were taking advantage of Google’s policies was by building a simply unmanageable link of referrals from outside websites, many of which they actually owned themselves. In Google’s eyes, each of these links was a virtual endorsement of content, improving that site’s authority and sending it upward in search results.

With Google Panda, the emphasis on referral links was greatly diminished. In fact, it’s estimated that roughly three percent of websites saw their ranking change in a negative way after the update simply because they were relying too heavily on link-based SEO techniques. With results like that, website owners everywhere should consider the balance of their SEO between links and content, and make the appropriate adjustments.

How to Live in a Penguin and Panda World: Fresh, Authoritative Content

Since links are now virtually a non-starter when it comes to improving a website’s ranking and performance at Google, website owners have had to look elsewhere in order to make sure that their site doesn’t slip to the back pages of a keyword-targeted search result. That has been a pretty difficult process, largely because it’s new to many websites and they’re not familiar with how to accomplish this.

The operative phrase when making the transition into Penguin and Panda compliance is “content marketing.” In essence, content marketing involves creating robust, authoritative content for a website that is posted frequently and draws visitors based on how informative it is. Instead of luring people into keyword-spam traps, or link-heavy sites that offer no value at all, content marketing proves that a website knows what it’s talking about, carries some authority in the industry, and is worth visitors’ time. When Google gets word of that, they’ll reward a content marketing website with prime placement among their results.

Content marketing might sound like an easy solution to link-based search engine optimization, and it generally is. There are a few guidelines to follow, though, to ensure that these rich articles are not used in vain. To keep Google’s favor, be sure to make a few considerations when writing, soliciting, or posting content marketing articles to an existing website.

1. Focus on Keyword Density

Any search engine optimization professional is likely familiar with the term “keyword density,” but they may not be familiar with Google’s changed view of keywords on websites. While there was a time when more keywords meant a better ranking, that is not the case today. Instead, Google views excessive keywords as spam. If there are too many instances of a single keyword within any content marketing article, it will not help a website’s ranking at all. In fact, it will generally send the website down.

Be sure to focus on density that doesn’t exceed 5 percent, in most cases. This will make the keyword sound natural, and Google will rank the website far more favorably. A few different keywords throughout the article will make this easy to accomplish without sacrificing placement in any current targeted search results.

2. Freshness is a Priority

Articles must be fresh. Content marketing is viewed by Google has a field that is exceedingly dynamic. Information changes every day, and the search engine’s algorithm now accounts for this. Articles that are a few months old do not score highly anymore, and those that are a few years old will probably not appear in search results at all. Instead, focus on fresh content that is posted on a regular basis.

One article per day, or three articles per week, or ten articles per month, is a great way to get started. With fresh content and a predictable update schedule, Google will reward a website with higher rankings.

3. Post Content Marketing Articles on Other Sites

The importance of the “guest post” on outside blogs has become significantly more important since the Penguin and Panda updates. Websites that link to another site as part of a blog entry lend significantly more authority than those sites that merely operate a link list. Therefore, website owners should focus on striking up relationships with others in the industry, exchanging guest posts and creating a rich environment for competition and SEO improvement that Google will view as authority and credibility.

Easy Changes to Make for Penguin and Panda

The changes that need to be made in order to accommodate the Penguin and Panda algorithm updates are actually pretty easy. Most people already operate a blog within their site, and they like to discuss topics relevant to their products or niche. By emphasizing keywords, freshness, and authority, link-based marketing can easily become a thing of the past without harming a website’s rankings during the transition to more modern techniques.

Best Practices for Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is beneficial for everyone involved. The person who’s blog you’re posting on can increase their audience by gaining your readers. The opposite is true, too. By posting a blog post to another person’s well-read blog, you’ll increase your exposure, gain additional readers and direct visitors back to your own website. In order to benefit both the owner of the blog and yourself, though, you have to follow guest blogging best practices.

Familiarize Yourself With the Blog

Before you pitch an idea or submit a blog post, get familiar with the blog you’ll be writing for. You have to make sure you’re not repeating a past blog post idea and that you’re sticking with the overall theme of the blog at the same time. While you don’t have to copy another writer’s style, you should try to stay close to the style of the blog, if possible. Don’t skip over the guest comments, either. They’ll give you a good idea of which blog posts are well liked and which ones get skimmed over quickly.

Submit Only High Quality Content

Just because your guest blog post isn’t going on your website, that doesn’t mean you can skimp on quality. Remember, the post is still going to have your name on it! Don’t ever skip over the proofreading step – you’ll be surprised at how many spelling, punctuation and grammar errors you miss if you only skim your writing as you type.

Add Tags to Your Post

Whether or not you’re posting the blog post yourself, make sure to add tags to it. If you’re uploading the post to the blogging platform, you can simply add tags in the destined field. Otherwise, include a list of keywords and keyword phrases along with the blog post so that the owner can easily add tags when they post it. Tags are a great way to add SEO to your blog post without sacrificing quality. The right tags will be noticed by search engines, making it all the more easy for people to find your post.

Add SEO Keywords

You should still add some SEO to your blog post even if you’re including tags as well. The key is to make the SEO seem streamlined and natural instead of choosing keywords that stick out like a sore thumb. With good writing, SEO simply comes naturally. Make sure you have a decent amount of SEO in the first paragraph, though, since this is the best area to place keywords to optimize search results.

Avoid Making Your Post Look Like Spam

It’s tempting to look at every keyword and reference in your guest post as another opportunity to attach a link. This will make your blog post look more like spam and less like interesting content, though. Readers are very in tune to advertising and because it’s so prevalent on the Internet, your blog post may be ignored entirely if it’s suspected to be advertising or, worse, spam. Blog readers don’t want to be inundated with advertising!

Use Links Wisely On Your Own Blog

After your guest post has been published, write a bit about it on your own blog and include a link to the blog and post. If you only include one or two links in your blog post, it won’t look like spam. Also, it will have the intended effect of directing people to the other blog and your guest post.

Promote Your Guest Post

It’s a kind of unsaid agreement between the writer and the blog owner that you’ll promote your guest blog post once it’s up. Otherwise, the blog owner isn’t really able to increase their readership by tapping into your followers. You have to promote your post by linking to it from your own website or blog as well as your social media platforms.

Submit the Post to Search Engines

Popular search engines like Yahoo! and Google often have an option to submit a new link. You can also submit the blog post link to social bookmarking websites like Reddit, StumbleUpon and Digg, which catalog all links submitted by users. Then, users can easily find and share these links, increasing traffic to the blog and blog post. Submitting links doesn’t guarantee that the blog post will show up first in results, but it does increase the chance of having the post be found by Internet surfers.

Add Links to Your Own Blog

Your own personal blog or website should have a blog roll or list of links that you want to recommend. Add the blog owner’s URL to this list – they’ll likely do the same for you in return. This is the quickest way to get the blog owner’s link in front of a bunch of people at once. Hopefully, people will click on the link and then find your blog post on the blog.

Comment on Comments

Revisit your blog post often and check out any new comments that people have left. If it calls for it, respond back. When readers know that they may be able to catch the writer’s attention and even strike up a conversation, they’ll be more likely to interact on the blog post and blog in general. You can also visit other people’s blog and leave comments on posts. Make sure to include the URL to the blog or your blog post along with your comment – most blog comment sections have an area specifically for a URL. The more interesting your comment, the more likely readers will be to click your link.

Write for the Blog Often

If all goes well the first time around, there isn’t any reason why the blog owner won’t want a qualified and experienced guest blog writer back a second time and more. Build good relationships with the people you blog for and try to stay on a submission schedule. One blog post per month is great, if you can work it out with the blog owner and handle the schedule. The more you post to a blog, the better your Internet search engine ratings will be.

How Google’s Panda and Penguin Changed the SEO Landscape

The world of search engine optimization has evolved in the past few years. Each time Google rolls out an update, panic spreads like wildfire across forums, blogs, and social networks. For marketers, knowing the date of these updates can help explain changes in organic website traffic and rankings. Google’s recent Penguin and Panda algorithm updates have dramatically affected search results. No one knows what Google’s next move will be.

Why the Updates?

Achieving high search engine rankings has become critical to business success. Google aims to deliver the best user experience. Panda and Penguin updates are a boost for marketers who have worked hard to provide quality content. Their goal is to identify websites that use questionable SEO strategies and improve search engine results. It is important to understand how these updates affect your website so that you can optimize your pages and make sure you don’t lose out.

Since Panda and Penguin target two different issues, it is essential to know the exact algorithm that hit your website. Penguin targets unnatural backlinks and spam, while Panda is all about low quality content. Both updates will be rolled out periodically. Therefore, you have to continuously improve your SEO strategy and provide the highest quality content. In order to be successful and maintain your search engine rankings, it is necessary to make a few changes to your website, including:

– Remove poor quality content
– Create fresh, interesting content
– Build relevant links
– Eliminate unnatural back links
– Vary your anchor text
– Ensure proper navigation
– Optimize pages for multiple keyword phrases
– Remove duplicate content
– Avoid over optimization and keyword stuffing

The best way to determine whether you have been hit by Penguin or Panda is to launch Google Analytics and check your stats. You must know the problem in order to address it. Based on how Google rolled out these changes recently, many marketers are confused about which update hit their websites. These updates force people to keep producing quality content and use ethical SEO techniques.

Google Panda Update Overview

Google Panda was released in February 2011. This update aimed to lower the rank of “thin sites” and “low quality sites” that provide little or no value to users. At the same time, Google Panda provided better rankings for high quality websites with original content and fresh information. This change to Google’s search results ranking algorithm has had a great impact on content farms. These website were loaded with hundreds of low quality, keyword stuffed articles.

According to Google, over 12 percent of searches in the United States were affected by Panda. This update is just one of more than 200 different factors that Google uses to rank pages. In the last year, Panda began to have a monthly schedule. As a result, many websites tried to diversify their content beyond search engines and create better quality articles. To lose the penalty, webmasters must remove or improve low quality content.

This update made people realize that some widely used practices were actually going against Google’s recommended Best Practice guidelines. Panda affected web pages that don’t have relevant content, but simply exist to push users to cloned sites, landing pages, parked pages and more. Many websites hit by Google Panda are loaded with intrusive ads or provide duplicate content. It takes just one or two pages of poor quality content, and your entire website can be penalized.

How to Recover from Google Panda

The best thing you can do to recover from Google Panda is to constantly update your website with fresh, relevant, and informative content. Webmasters should also avoid over optimization. Try to keep the optimization ratio around 70 percent. Every time you write a new post, ask yourself a few questions. Is it well researched? Is it useful for readers? Are you providing information from reputable sources? Focus on creating unique content. For example, if you have an ecommerce website or an online store, write unique product descriptions.

What Is Google Penguin?

Google Penguin was released on April 24, 2012. This update affected over three percent of English-language search queries. It aimed to decrease rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using black hat SEO tactics, including content spinning, link schemes, cloaking, and keyword stuffing.

Many SEO experts agree that Penguin was just the official word that Google is taking action against people who are trying to cheat the system and use unnatural linking practices. Website owners should check their Google Webmaster accounts for any messages from Google warning about a potential penalty. Some contributing factors to Penguin may include:

– Keyword stuffing in internal/external links
– Blog spam
– Low quality article marketing
– Overuse of exact-match domains
– Excessive links from poor quality websites’
– Aggressive internal linking
– Unnatural inbound links
– Paid links
– Link exchanges

Google Penguin is cracking down a common black hat SEO strategy: abusing links to achieve higher search engine rankings. If your website has links from low quality directories, link schemes, and dubious sites, you may receive a penalty. It is estimated that 94 percent of Google Penguin victims did not fully recover. Overly-optimized websites will continue to be targets. For now, the best approach is to focus on the quality of your site in terms of content value, link value, and visitor interaction.

How to Recover from Google Penguin

The first step to recover from Google Penguin is to analyze your website’s traffic data and identify the problem. Check the backlinks pointing to your site and determine which of them are contributing to your penalty. Remove as many bad links as you can. Send out link removal requests to webmasters and then start a new link building campaign. Safe post-Penguin link-building anchor types include hybrid-branded anchors, universal anchors, and branded anchors.

Focus on link quality. Work on collaborative projects with reputable webmasters. Offer you services in exchange for relevant backlinks. Publish guest posts on high quality sites. Spend your time building connections with industry influencers. Keep your bounce rate low and write great content. Make sure your website has a diversified link building strategy.

Authoritative Links: Building Links on Wikipedia

This piece explores how and why to create a Wikipedia page for your company. Public relations (PR) and Internet experts indicate the site is invaluable when it comes to virtual branding and developing an online presence. Creating a Wikipedia (Wiki) company page is no small feat. Following certain entry protocol eliminates the possibility of article deletion.

History of Wikipedia

In 2009, Time Magazine explored Wikipedia’s troubled start. Initially founded as an online encyclopedia, founders Jimmy Wales and Lawrence Sanger revamped their Nupedia website to facilitate article production speeds. The result was a platform where anyone could create pieces about anything without editor wait times. Wikipedia went live in 2001. As of 2009, the site had approximately three million entries.

Due to earlier content problems, the company eventually enlisted the help of volunteer editors who constantly monitor site information. This created stringent entry requirements that are still in effect. Wikipedia’s societal impact is a constant subject of discussion. In 2011, Wikimedia recommended that Wikipedia receive recognition as a virtual World Heritage site. Only time will tell if the concept becomes a reality.

Importance

Wikipedia has over 19 million articles written in over 282 languages. PR companies stress the importance of a quality Wiki page considering many social media outlets like Facebook use Wikipedia to create separate pages for their respective sites. Electric commerce or ecommerce websites acknowledge a quality Wikipedia page is crucial for search engine optimization (SEO) planning.

Marketing departments relish SEO optimization. The concept describes Internet traffic generated from free online search engine listings. Wikipedia article links frequently rank among the top search engine results, giving companies an automatic traffic boost without absorbing additional company funds.

Business Types that Benefit from Wikipedia

Free advertising may seem like a gift to smaller enterprises with limited marketing budgets, but business advisors state the opposite. Wikipedia pages are best for larger entities with a proven record of accomplishment. Retailer Macy’s Inc. is one company with successful Wikipedia and Facebook pages that foster valuable online interactions.

Newer businesses may wish to stay away from Wikipedia for a number of reasons. Arrests, mismanagement and other growing pains immediately create unflattering new page entries. Personnel may not have the time to monitor edits from competing businesses or dissatisfied customers. Most important, fledgling companies cannot control page information that could hinder potential growth.

Creating a Page

Getting a page on the Wikipedia site is notoriously difficult. The open platform design means that readers or editors can deem pages unworthy or insignificant and call for their deletion. Employees and company representatives cannot create a Wiki page. Those that try find their pages deleted within 24 hours. A 2007 article reveals software giant Microsoft came under fire for attempting to manipulate their Wiki page using paid bloggers.

Companies not content with waiting for Wikipedia editor acknowledgement have two methods of Wikipedia page submission.

– Designate an employee the official Wikipedia liaison. Have the person become an active member of the site by editing other articles and conversing with other members in the user forums. Create a simple article after building a credible reputation within the site community. Immediately address editing concerns and discuss how to improve the piece according to Wiki standards.

– Create a Wikipedia account and request that a site editor create the company page. Requestors must state their role within the organization. In addition to designating a site category, users submit a brief company description. The site also requires links to a minimum of two outside information sources. Even pieces written by site editors receive deletion nominations, so users should always provide a wide range of company information to convince readers of entry validity.

According to website guidelines, company pages remain “shallow” or short. Most contain company history and goods or services offered. Editors also highlight historical and notable facts surrounding the business. The site strives to connect newer pages to existing entries instead of sending readers to outside links.

Additional Information

If a company chooses self-submission or an editor creation, one factor remains the same. Entries must have minimal media coverage before creating a Wikipedia page. This reinforces legitimacy and assures readers that the entity is culturally relevant. Many turn to Wikipedia to create industry buzz, not realizing the medium simply compounds on existing popularity.

All photo submissions need commercial use licensing to avoid copyright infringement. The company website should be the only page link. Editors review all additional links for possible spamming. Violating photo or link policies could result in page deletion.

Now you have some Wikipedia page basics. For the right company, a Wiki presence creates additional industry buzz and delivers societal relevance. The idea may seem enticing, but smaller businesses should wait before make their page debut to avoid sabotaging potential development.

Link Building With Press Releases

There was a time, long before search engine optimization overtook the way people create content, that press releases were reserved for seriously impactful announcements about a company’s new products, a new direction, or things like mergers and acquisitions. Press releases were infrequent, important, and noteworthy for the wide community of business professionals and customers who had a vested interest in that company. And then, starting about a decade ago, website owners discovered that a press release or two could actually boost their website’s ranking at major search engine like Google.

After it was discovered that press releases were a really big deal for search engine optimization, their importance began to wane, at least online. Over the next ten years, websites would release statements not only announcing new products and business directions, but also announcing things like how great their business was, and how high they were aiming for the new year. Press releases began stating the quality of products, rather than the novelty of them. In time, most people learned to ignore press releases. So did the search engines.

Do Fewer Blasts & Back Link Existing Press Releases More

Search engines have long recognized the potential for press release abuse and, with recent algorithm updates, Google has addressed this issue head-on. In recent years, the company’s Penguin and Panda updates have sought to reduce the importance of press releases, largely because they are so frequently abused. They’re also not very good for link building, especially within the new paradigm being promoted for today’s major search engines. There are three core pieces within that paradigm. A good link building strategy is one that shows all of the following three qualities:

1. It’s aimed at gaining new links from unique top-level domains around the Internet
2. It incorporates social signals and engagement
3. It promotes natural linking conventions and patterns

Each of these three components is completely ignored by those individuals who push out press releases on a daily or weekly basis through the major agencies on line. For a more in-depth look at how these three conventions are essentially being ignored, keep reading.

New Links from Unique Top-Level Domain Names Online

At first, press releases probably seem like a rather genius way to boost a website’s search engine rankings. The links that come into the website are from a large number of online press release firms and syndication agencies, and each link is highly unique. The problem arises the second time around, when website owners send out yet another press release about how great they are, rather than some big news even that’s going to characterize their business. The inbound links generated are, once again, coming from major online press release sites and syndication operations. This time, they are not unique.

Time after time, these links get less unique, more repetitive, and far less effective. In the eyes of Google’s new algorithms, constant links from PR agencies represents a case of abusing the system. If the search engine does determine that a site us sending out abusive and unnecessarily frequent press releases, they’ll further punish the website with an even lower ranking. In the worst cases, they’ll remove the site from Google’s index altogether. That’s a very, very big loss.

Incorporation of Engagement and Social Signals

The release of Google Penguin focused quite a bit on social media referrals and user engagement, and the follow-up Google Panda increased the importance of those activities even more, in its own way. Today, website owners who want to move upward in Google’s search engine rankings need to dramatically improve their user engagement by encouraging their readers to like, tweet, and comment, on a regular basis. Press releases generally do not encourage this at all.

The only real way for a website to boost its search engine rankings would be if a press release inspired someone to go to Facebook, find the company who released the statement, and then click through to that company’s website directly from the social network as a result of the press release. If that sounds convoluted, that’s because it is. It’s highly unlikely to happen, and that means bad news for any website that frequently releases news statements to the major PR wires online.

Natural Linking Patterns and Conventions

A uniform press release is sent to a large number of online PR wires, who all link to the author’s website using the same anchor text. This would only be natural if it occurred one time, on one website, and not in aggregate on tens or hundreds of press release sites. This type of linking is largely ignored by Google if it occurs a large number of times, netting websites no tangible gain in rankings at any major search engine.

All Hope is Not Lost: Simply Don’t Abuse Press Releases

When press releases are sent out to the major PR websites infrequently, they do benefit the author’s website. That’s because these unnatural linking styles are an exception, not a rule, and Google rewards them appropriately. When determining whether to send out a news release, be sure to consider the following questions:

– Is this information unique?
– Is this information newsworthy?
– Have I sent out a press release recently?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then it’s probably a good idea to stay away from issuing a press release. Instead, use a guest post to tell existing customers about exciting new changes in a company’s products. This guest post can also be used as a promotional article, and posting it on an industry blog is a far better use of resources than posting it to a press release website online. Furthermore, because most PR websites require a paid membership in order to distribute news statements, this actually saves quite a bit of money for website owners.

Press Releases Make Excellent Buffer Sites

Instead of churning out press releases, consider employing link building tactics to support the releases that already exist.

All things are good in moderation, including the use of press release to discuss exciting new developments about a company’s products and services.

Google vs. Bing: Why Microsoft Can’t Overtake Google in Search

BING — but its not Google?

For years, Microsoft has been trying to outperform Google when it comes to performing searches online. The company’s MSN Search and Windows Live Search options failed miserably at achieving such a goal, and Microsoft eventually shifted to renaming its search engine operation entirely. The newly named “Bing” has been making pretty big wave online since its debt several years ago but it has only managed to carve out a 12 percent share of the online search market in that amount of time. Meanwhile, Google maintains an enormous lead, with slightly less than 67 percent of all online searches being performed via Google.com.

Microsoft has made a lot of noise about the superiority of their operation, going so far as to challenge Google to a “search off” in a wide-ranging promotional campaign. All it has gotten the company is an extra 2 points of market share, with no real results to show for it. Toward the end of 2012, Bing’s rising position in search market share stagnated, even as advertising ramped up for the Bing search engine, the Surface tablet, and the release of Windows 8. The reasons that Microsoft will likely continue to fall well behind Google are many, but there are a few that are particularly painful for the company to deal with.

Google Sets the Search Engine Optimization Conversation

Google’s hugely dominant position in online search has given it the ability to largely define the terms of what constitutes a good website, with its algorithms being trained to identify good, authoritative, highly valuable content. That means developers are designing their sites specifically to fit within Google’s own paradigm, while the competitors online are merely fitting themselves into Google’s model for what constitutes a good, highly-ranked website.

Bing has tried to bring extra value to this by pairing with Facebook, which Microsoft owns a pretty big stake in. Using Facebook, results are filtered in a “social” way that aligns them with a person’s own interest. However, with 12 percent of the search market share and the inclination of many Facebook users to safeguard their data, this approach has had a negligible effect online. Furthermore, Facebook users who are logged out do not benefit from this social approach, making Bing’s returned results a touch less accurate than those provided by Google.

Search Placement on Google is Far More Valuable than at Bing

The problem with Bing is that it’s mostly perceived as an afterthought for marketing professionals who are looking to pay a premium for excellent placement in results. Google allows sponsored results to appear before its ranked ones, and many companies take advantage of this service. Bing has its own form of sponsored, highly ranked results, but they’re purchased by marketing professionals far less often. Most medium-sized businesses often have a budget that forces them to choose between placement on Google or Bing. With majority market share position, who wouldn’t choose Google?

The problem with this strategy is that it sets Bing up to continually take financial losses. In fact, the search engine has been a loss leader for Microsoft since the very first day it appeared online. Google, meanwhile, derives the vast majority of its revenue through its search product. With a combination of paid placement and Google AdSense products with every search, the company has mastered profitability and search result relevance all at once.

Google’s Web Services Beat Microsoft’s, Hands Down

Microsoft had an early lead in web services toward the late 1990s, when virtually everyone hat a Hotmail.com email address. That edge vanished over the course of the next decade though, largely at the hands of Google. In the years that have followed since Google unveiled its industry-leading Gmail product for consumer and business email, the company has released cloud-based calendars, productivity applications, blogging tools, and its own social network. Google Analytics monitors a website’s SEO, while Google News allows access to the latest headlines. Its investment in YouTube has paid dividends, and its Google Play store has tens of thousands more applications than Microsoft’s own Windows 8 Store.

Customers can, and often do, using Google for everything. Of course, every single one of Google’s web services runs its search operation through the company’s own software. Because Google beat Microsoft in web services, it now counts a larger base of daily users and higher revenues from virtually all aspects of its business.

Android, Android, Android

The battle for mobile dominance is one that exists largely between Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. Windows Phone 8 has single-digit market share, and it’s clear that BlackBerry is no longer a major competitor. Though Apple and Google compete in a major way, all searches conducted on an iPhone do, by default, run through Google. For all but the most recent year of the iPhone’s existence, its mapping tools used Google services and a YouTube app was installed by default.

On Android, every service runs through Google unless users change it on their own. With a majority of the international smartphone market share, this is an advantage that Microsoft will likely never overcome. Even if they did, it would take them the better part of a half-decade just to reach parity with the sheer number of Android devices currently on the market. With every Android phone sold, Google counts another search customer among its ranks that likely wont’ defect to Bing, Microsoft-owned Yahoo, or any other options.

Relevance is the Difference

Conduct the same search at both Microsoft’s Bing and Google’s search engine, and Google is likely to present a better set of results than Bing does. That’s what most users have found, except for those that Microsoft proudly touts in its “Bing it On” commercials that claim it offers more relevant results than does Google. When it comes to search, the relevance and value of every result is what determines the relevance and value of the search engine. This alone is what has contributed to Google’s dominance and, without a major change to Microsoft’s product, that isn’t going to change now or in the near future.

Considering Pay For Performance SEO? Guaranteed Rankings Exist, But Do Your Research.

The SEO industry has become clouded by the propaganda spread by both search engines (Google, specifically) and the so-called ‘community leaders’.

Without a doubt, the world of search engine optimization has changed since the integration of Google’s Panda & Penguin search-algorithm updates. Content creation and external link building has had a massive facelift. Long gone are the days of directory blasts, mass article submissions, and paid links.

However, when it comes to selecting your SEO provider, one universal truth remains unshaken by the industry’s recent turbulence: can they deliver results?

You know: traffic, rankings, conversions, and ultimately ROI.  Isn’t that the reason you hired them in the first place?

There are only a handful of ‘actual’ performance-based SEO agencies that deliver real results.

Some will charge you massive up-front fees or for minor ranking improvements.  Other ‘guaranteed rankings‘ agencies will only charge for page 1 rankings, but with a catch: the agency selects the keywords for the client. In many cases, these are obscure, low-volume terms which are brand-oriented or extremely long-tail with a negative ROI..

The true gems in this rising industry are the agencies that work for free. Yes, there are a few loyal leaders who stand by their word and charge absolutely nothing until page 1 rankings for highly-relevant  queries are achieved.

Tactics & Strategies

When seeking a pay-for-performance agency, make sure you ask the following questions up-front:

  • What type of content and links will they be driving to your site?
  • How long do they anticipate it to take to rank on the first page of Google for your keywords?
  • Do they have case studies of prior clients available for review?  References?

 

Our Recommendations

ResultFirst San Jose, California Manish Mehta 888-512-1890

Red Evolution Barrow-In-Furness, United Kingdom David Robinson 44-01224-443551

imwave, inc. Reston , Virginia Tony Pantano 717-801-1506

 

How To Buy Aged Domain Names

Does an aged domain name make it easier to rank in Google?  In some cases, yes.

It’s not so much the age of the domain, per se, as the authority you’re able to assume.  Lets review a quick Q&A from my experience:

 

If I buy an old or aged domain name, is it easier to rank in Google?

If you’re able to acquire an aged domain name with significant PageRank or an extensive back link profile, absolutely.

 

Does the domain need to be relevant to my targeted niche?

In my experience, no.

 

Should I 301 redirect the domain name to my new domain and/or existing property?

While a 301 redirect of an authoritative and/or trusted domain can enhance your existing site’s (or a new domain)  rapid acquisition of its own trust and link equity, I believe it’s almost always more effective to develop and re-establish old domains rather than a redirect.  If you’re looking to promote your existing domain or new brand, create content on re-established domains specific to your niche.

 

How do I buy old or aged domains?

Though a multitude of registrars and ancillary services exist, I’m a fan of GoDaddy Auctions.

 

How do I know which domains are worth buying?

Several paid services exist to assist in the hunt for aged authoritative domains, but why pay when you don’t have to?  I use ExpiredDomains.net free service for an initial assessment of available domains for purchase.  It will allow you to view basics metrics (PageRank, Back Links, SEOMoz Domain Authority/Page Authority, MozRank, etc.) for all domains currently available for sale on GoDaddy Auctions.  I then use SEOMastering’s Fake Page Rank Check Tool to verify authenticity of PageRank, and look for hidden bonuses like existing Yahoo Directory or DMOZ listings.  Additionally, I’ll analyze potential domain purchases with back link analysis tools like MajesticSEO, Ahrefs, and OpenSiteExplorer.  Personally, I prefer an established, diverse and clean back link profile to Google PageRank.  MajesticSEO is my tool of choice for analysis.  Even without a subscription, look for trouble indicators like over-optimized anchor texts or excessively low trust.

For example, a current domain listed on PRDrop is bosch-fh.com, touting a PageRank of 7.  Impressive, no doubt, but in analyzing this domain with MajesticSEO we see it’s showing a single back link that’s showing as recently deleted as of April 4th and nil CitationFlow or TrustFlow.  Don’t be led astray by PageRank alone.  While a PR7 site can have uses of its own, I’d much prefer a PR5 domain like togetherville.com, with a TrustFlow of 25, 16,567 back links from over 1,000 different domains on 819 referring class C subnets.

A quick search on Archive.org’s WayBackMachine shows the domain active with content as recent as March 2013, and the domain still exists in the Google index and shows no 301 redirects.  This makes for a fantastic potential acquisition.

 

What are some pitfalls to avoid when evaluating domains to acquire?

Sites that diverse back link profiles, but have been stripped of PageRank.  See my example below, WickedAngelsRadio.com, on initial inspection — evaluating back links alone — it appears that this would be an absolute power house of a domain.  Our first warning signal is the discrepancy in the ratio of CitationFlow and TrustFlow.  A domain with this many back links showing a TrustFlow of 8 likely has a sordid past.

WickedAngelsRadio has a diverse back link profile, but has been stripped of PageRank.

Upon further inspection, we see this domain has been completely stripped of PageRank by Google.
0 PageRank?  Rut roh.

0 PageRank? Rut roh.

Worse yet, glancing at its anchor text diversity, we see key indicators prior use and abuse.
Extensive back link profile.  Bueno.  Over-optimized anchors containing casino references?  No bueno

Extensive back link profile. Bueno. Over-optimized anchors containing casino references? No bueno

 

What are my options after purchasing an aged domain name?

Rebecca Kelley presented the article below on SEOMoz.  I think provide a fantastic post-acquisition risk/benefit analysis.  Again, it’s worth mentioning, in my experience I’ve seen the most favorable results when developing out the content on an acquired domain.  Your mileage (and intent) may vary.

Option #1: 301 Redirect the Old Domain to Your Existing Domain

The easiest and least time consuming option is to 301 redirect the old domain to your existing site. This tactic obviously works best if both sites are in the same sector and are targeting the same keywords; otherwise, if you have a pet supply site and you buy an old Texas Hold ‘Em poker site, a redirect probably might raise some eyebrows among the search engines. If, however, your site is brandnamepets.com and you buy onlinepetsupply.com and 301 redirect the domain over, you’re inheriting a lot of topical and appropriate links.

PROS:

  • Is the least time consuming option
  • Benefit from the value (about 95% or so) of the old domain’s links (postscript: Danny Sullivan has recently blogged about expired domains and their link credit, and it appears that buying a domain and redirecting to your site for the link benefit may not work since the links may not pass credit from expired domains.)

CONS: 

  • Old branded anchor text pointing to your new site isn’t going to help as much as a keyword-rich anchor text
  • If the old site had a penalty (for shady link building, cloaking, spamming, etc.), the penalty could carry over to your new site (I can’t confirm this to be true, but a lot of SEOs I’ve talked to believe that this is a possibility, and some have sworn that they’ve experienced it firsthand, so I guess you just have to be cautious)

 

Option #2: Create a Microsite That Links to Your Existing Domain

The second option requires a bit more time and effort than a 301 redirect. You could do a mini overhaul of the site and turn it into a microsite for your main domain. This option is good for exact-match domains for your targeted keyword, and there are other reasons for going the microsite route that Rand’s highlighted in his post about root domains, subdomains, subfolders and microsites. This strategy also works better if the old domain has decent rankings for the keywords you’re targeting.

PROS:

  • Can cross-promote/cross-link to your existing site
  • More real estate in the SERPs means more branding and potential conversions for your site
  • You can do stuff on your microsite you may not want to do with your main site (e.g., launch silly viral content, experiment with a promotional tactic)
  • You don’t have to have a completely robust site; a lot of microsites are smaller and have a single focus (e.g., center on a quiz or a centric idea)


CONS:

  • Can be time-consuming to do an overhaul of the old site
  • Aggressive promotion and linking to the existing domain can seem spammy and you could get penalized for reciprocal linking or setting up a link farm
  • Your current site isn’t inheriting any of the old site’s link value that would have come via a 301 redirect
  • Microdomains can be used ineffectively (see Rand’s Whiteboard Friday about the microsite mistake)

 

Option #3: Overhaul the Old Domain and Operate It Independently

The third option is the one that’s the most time consuming but also has its benefits. It’s like having a successful restaurant and buying another restaurant and operating them simultaneously. They’re not the exact same restaurant, but both are popular in their own right and make you money. The same goes for Option #3. You could update the content on the old domain and sell the same products that you’re selling on your current site. If you can get both sites to rank alongside each other in the SERPs, you’re increasing your conversion chances and sales potential.

PROS:

  • As with Option #2, you get more real estate in the SERPs if you can get both sites to rank for your targeted search terms
  • You don’t have to work hard to brand the old site if it’s a generic, keyword-rich domain–you can just focus on getting rankings and conversions
  • The old site already has links pointing to it and is more established than starting with a brand new domain

CONS:

  • You have to ensure that the old site doesn’t mimic the new site and runs into any duplicate content issues
  • It’s time consuming to revamp and maintain the old site (you’ve essentially doubled your workload)
  • As with Option #2, aggressive cross linking between the sites can raise red flags

Your course of action really depends on how much work and effort you can put into the expired domain. If you’re barely able to maintain and optimize your current site, you probably want to just 301 redirect the old site (note: see my amended comment above about the link value not likely to be passed). If, however, you’re more creative and have some time on your hands, you can try your hand at crafting a microsite. If you really know your stuff and are experienced at making money off various websites, you’d probably do well with the third option.

 

What has your experience been with acquiring old domains?  Let us know.  More to come.

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