Sam Harrelson

Keyword Research Tips

Good overview of keyword research here. Too many people neglect the usefulness of thinking through important terms and keywords in their web site’s content or blog posts. If you ask a Googler how to rank better in their search engine, they’ll tell you to “write great content.” That’s true but deliberately thinking about your “main ideas” and including those terms in your content also helps that aspect of discovery marketing.

The one pushback I have is the need for landing pages focused on particular keywords… that was certainly true a few years ago, but recent Google algorithm changes have made that pretty much a waste of time and resources if the landing pages are being created with the direct purpose of keyword rankings…

Keyword research is the first step in the SEO copywriting process and an essential part of any SEO strategy. Before you write your website content you need to think about which search terms you want to be found for and this means getting inside people’s heads to find out which words they use when searching. Then you can use these exact terms in your content so that you start ranking for them. This is keyword research and this ultimate guide will take you through the many steps involved.

Source: Keyword research for SEO: the ultimate guide • Yoast




Yes, your brain (and mine) needs more downtime

“Downtime is an opportunity for the brain to make sense of what it has recently learned, to surface fundamental unresolved tensions in our lives and to swivel its powers of reflection away from the external world toward itself. While mind-wandering we replay conversations we had earlier that day, rewriting our verbal blunders as a way of learning to avoid them in the future.”

Source: Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime




Your phone’s homescreen is dead; or how native advertising wins in the post-mobile world

iphonenotificationsios9

“Part of this will entail  a shift in advertising to permission-based advertising:  asking the consumer whether she wants to see an ad — which would be asking her if she wants to receive information — for a particular brand at the current time. The consumer will have the choice: yes, I’m in the supermarket and I want to see the weekly specials; or no, I’m driving and I only want to receive breaking news that’s relevant to my family. She would no longer be forced to page through or scroll through irrelevant ads to reach what she needs.”

Source: Notification: The Post App World Revealed – Ad Tech Daily

I’ve been doing a ton of work and research in what comes “after” mobile… meaning, what advertising and marketing looks like now that our mobile devices are being used more than our laptops and desktops.

Your iPhone will look dramatically different in a few short years. I don’t mean the physical part. I mean the part you’re interacting with at the level where you once opened an app to check your latest Facebook Like notifications or new emails. There will be little-to-no reliance on that grid of apps that you belovedly call your homescreen.

I’ve been using my iPhone and Android phones this way the last few weeks and it’s been transformative. I could never go back to relying on opening apps from a homescreen to receive, process, or even create information (more on that soon).

Google, Apple, and Facebook all understand that the “future” (as in the next few years) will be dominated by notifications.

Just to think, Twitter had it right with Track all those years ago. Shame they double clutched the ball.

Native / content – advertising / notifications win… adblockers plus notifications plus better ad technology means branding and advertising will conflate. It’s going to be wild. Put on your VR helmets!

Discovery marketing = notifications.

 




Playing Checkers At a Chess Match

llamadress

We had the “viral singluarlity” happen on the internet last night and you can be sure that across newsrooms and marketing meetings this morning, there are discussions of dresses and llamas happening right this moment as the East Coast crowd goes to work and looks at all those sharing numbers and metrics.

However, only BuzzFeed is BuzzFeed.

Be yourself. Attract a different crowd with authenticity. Don’t listen to shallow marketers (hey, we’re not all shallow) telling you to “be viral” at all costs. There’s money and value in being different.

In this game, BuzzFeed is winning. It must boggle the mind at traditional publishers that seemingly the entire Internet is talking about content that was created not by a seasoned reporter but a “community growth manager.” These so-called premium publishing brands will inevitably lose their pricing power in the ad market as they continue to copy BuzzFeed. What’s more they’re playing catch-up in offering high-priced agency services that are fueling the models of BuzzFeed and Vice. There used to be an axiom in the tech market: It’s a bad idea to try to out-Google Google. Too many people tried that — Google “Accoona” sometime — and totally failed. These days, in viral publishing, it’s a bad idea for premium brands to try to out-BuzzFeed BuzzFeed. Soon, Time, Esquire, GQ and the like will become indistinguishable from BuzzFeed. And the problem with that is simple: BuzzFeed is better at being BuzzFeed than Time.

via The dress is white and gold. Or, why BuzzFeed won – Digiday.




Google Starts Ranking Your Site Based on Mobile Friendliness

We’ve known for a few months that Google was going to start ranking websites based on their ability to be displayed on mobile devices such as phones and tablets as well as traditional laptops and desktops. Looks like April 21 is the big day to have made the switch to a mobile-friendly site:

Big news from Google today: beginning April 21, the company will increase the ranking of sites that are mobile-friendly.

via Google Will Rank Your Site Higher If It’s Mobile Friendly.

Why is this important for non-profits, churches, religious groups, and community orgs in addition to startups and small businesses (most of our clients)?

Because even though search has had to share the limelight with social networks in terms of being “found” and “discovered” on the web, it’s still incredibly important to rank as well as you can in Google as search is still dominant.

You simply can’t afford to have a website that doesn’t display properly on an iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone etc after April 2015.




What if businesses and schools looking for big ideas followed Asimov’s advice?

The great ideas of the ages have come from people who weren’t paid to have great ideas, but were paid to be teachers or patent clerks or petty officials, or were not paid at all. The great ideas came as side issues.

via Published for the First Time: a 1959 Essay by Isaac Asimov on Creativity | MIT Technology Review.




A/B Testing for Mobile Websites Webinar

Split testing is incredibly important as all good marketers know.

A/B split testing on mobile is extremely important as more marketers are realizing in 2013 and definitely into 2014. I came across this webinar this morning and thought I’d share as it’s always a good idea to hear tactics from others to improve conversions (especially in mobile):

In one hour, you’ll learn:

How the right mobile strategy can accelerate your marketing ROI

Key mobile web design elements that improve conversions

How to use mobile A/B testing to drive conversions through the roof

via A/B Testing for Mobile Websites: A Crash Course Webinar | Mobify.




Yoast SEO Plugin and Modified Headers

 

I’ve used Yoast’s SEO WordPress plugin a great deal in the past when I needed a “set it and tinker when necessary” on a client site or affiliate site we’ve developed. I decided to give it a go with the fresh WordPress install we’re using for CostPerNews and discovered something that I’ve heard others complain about in the past… dual sitename titles both in the browser and in the meta.

So, a little googling turned this up:

I have taken a liking lately to Yoast’s SEO plugin.  So far, it just plain works.  Now I am not the type of guy to worry too much about this stuff.  I apply little tweaks here and there and maybe it helps.  But the plugin offers a lot of things I like, like bread crumbs, and easy access to my .htaccess file, and robots.txt.  Only a few things have to change to enjoy this plugin.  Let’s dig in to this.

via Modify Header.php to Get the Most Out of Yoast’s SEO Plugin in a TwentyTen Child Theme – VoodooPress

Basically, clean up your site’s title tags and you’re good to go.

Again, Yoast isn’t for everyone (interesting discussion in the comments if you’re into this type of thing). However, it’s free and is a nice helper when you’re looking for an optimization plugin for your affiliate site that is quick, generates clean sitemaps (necessary for hooking your site up to Google Webmaster Tools, which you should do regardless) or even optimizing your breadcrumbs (always good for SEO!) and cleaning up rel=author issues.




ShareThis Advances Web Marketing with SQI

ShareThis has always been something of an enigma for me. I’ve discussed how companies like ShareThis really are the future discovery motors that will ultimately replace search engines. Google itself gets this and is doing great things with Google Now to prevent itself from being usurped as the prime player in the mobile ad ecosystem.

You might have noticed I’ve added the ShareThis functionality (and a couple of our client blogs) to this site as I’ve been making the most of their platform. It’s been an interesting test to add the type of sharing functionality that moves conversations from a blog to a social outlet the way a commenting system might have done a few years ago.

More specifically, ShareThis has just added a new backend dashboard for publishers that really makes use of their data and your site’s data in a unique way (with a tie-in to Google Analytics).

Particularly interesting is the concept of SQI that plays into the dashboard:

Social Quality Index, SQI, measures the social quality of a website against the ShareThis Publisher Network. By favoring social interaction over broad reach, SQI puts the publisher’s audience and content into the spotlight. The SQI score measures social quality on a scale of 1 to 200, with 200 representing the highest social quality. This proprietary formula evaluates social metrics such as: outbound shares, inbound clickback traffic and page views to calculate the audience engagement of your site. Social quality denotes a good match between the publisher’s audience and the content and it is directly correlated with the number of times users return to the same page and the level of interaction with other media on the page, like ads.

It’s more than a semantic difference in approaches to marketing that ShareThis is promoting with the SQI concept. Rather than focus on silos like pageviews or clicks that (in reality) measure nothing, SQI provides a metric that actually has meat on the bone. It’s not a scarecrow but a tangible measurement that advertisers and publishers should be demanding in their campaigns. In effect, SQI take us beyond links as the currency of the web and gives us good reason to do so.

I’ve been a long time advocate of the idea that HTML and the web should evolve beyond the concept of a link for traffic flow. The “social web” of the last few years has definitely made that reality more possible than ever. However, companies and advertisers (and agencies) have been slow to pick up on that trend and we’ve been focusing most of our efforts at making a linked-based web marketing approach fit into what is now a share-based network of people.

My own mistake in the past has been to think of ShareThis as mostly a way to drive traffic on Facebook based on recommendations from readers/users/consumers. However, the real beauty of ShareThis lies in the analytics suite and API that allow for some pretty interesting implementations of data analysis.

Tools like ShareThis are taking us beyond a realized version of the web that still operates on the foundation of links (as it does in the HTML I’m writing this post in or the RSS pipes that you probably used to find out about and/or read this post) and even search but puts a layer on top that advances the discovery of relevant information, products or services.

The function of discovery through shared social currency is the key benefit of betting on services such as ShareThis over traditional and limited marketing channels that rely on more costly and less targeted consumer acquisition methods.

We’ve seen our clients marvel at the real benefits of discovery marketing compared to their previous methods of siloed channels because the reach, scope and golden fleece of “social media marketing” success becomes readily apparent when you analyze the data points between these methods.

That is the transformation that is so hard to grasp for many companies. Going from a model based on having results that come from money poured into a model based on time and cultivation is difficult. ShareThis and the whole economy of “sharing” changes the conversation from intention to attention.

Traffic flows on the web and that flow is very powerful if you properly set the channels for that flow to occur rather than trying to build irrigation channels for the flow to take right angles.

ShareThis functions very much as a link, or vehicle, to get web users/interested buyers from one place to another in much the same way Google has been our chauffeur for years. Those places include the traditional Facebook and Twitter malls but increasingly Google+ (and Google Now) is making an interesting stab at becoming what the search engine could not (which is why Google is throwing the mass of its own juggernaut behind the project).

SQI could evolve into something very important for this next iteration of marketing on the web. We’ll certainly be pushing our clients towards that realization. Conversation at scale is the real ingenuity here and something to keep an eye on.




On Facebook, It’s Pay to Play if You Want to Be Seen

This comes as no real surprise for marketers who use Facebook to promote products, offers or brands, but if you’re not willing to pay up you’re probably not going to show up with as many likes or engagement as you had hoped for:

On Facebook, Sharing Can Come at a Cost – NYTimes.com: “To my surprise, I saw a 1,000 percent increase in the interaction on a link I posted, which had 130 likes and 30 reshares in just a few hours. It seems as if Facebook is not only promoting my links on news feeds when I pay for them, but also possibly suppressing the ones I do not pay for.”

Hunter Walk also has a few good theories as to why engagement stats on Facebook seem to be dipping including better spam fighting, effects of ad models and the impact of mobile UX.

Having been on the organic and paid side of Facebook marketing, I’ll stick with the pay-to-play theory for now.