Common Sense SEO Part 3 - Promotion & Social Media13 Sep 2010
Now that you are producing remarkable content and optimizing it for search engines and other channels, you are ready to start promoting your content. There are many ways to promote a website but only a few are cheap. The reason why Google makes as much money as it does is because it takes advertising and creates a system where by you don’t have to pay for ads that you don’t use. The pay per clicks way of doing web ads has been around for over a decade but only Google mixing it with their heavy traffic on their website and providing it to other sites with a system that reads the site’s content and gives you the best ads compared could really master internet advertising. I know a lot of people that use this method of promoting their sites and it’s fine if you have the money but can get expensive. This system is usually great for online retailers trying to sell a product or service businesses trying to sell directly to someone in need of their services. Google keywords work in an auction system so basically the more popular the keywords are the more expensive they will be to purchase for ad space. Everybody knows this but what most people don’t know are the downfalls of this sort of advertising, the first being that you can’t control who clicks on your ads.
In the past the problem was related to location, so if you had an ad for a pizza place in New York, you could use up your ad revenue having people who couldn’t even order from you clicking and using up your ad money. Since then Google has fixed this with hyper local which allows you to choose whether or not you want people in your area or throughout the country or even the world to see your ads. You can even advertising in specific areas while not advertising in others much like you can with regular local TV or Radio ads. The second downfall is that ads don’t create permanence online, that means that if you have a ton of traffic coming to your site from ads, as soon as your ad money runs out so does the traffic. Yes you can get a bit of a bump in your Google rankings if you get a flood of visitors but overtime that rating will go down as you stop getting new visitors to your site. This is why using other methods to increase traffic like creating inbound or back links to your site and building content are so much more vital than paying for ads because it’s a more permanent solution and will keep your site’s popularity and thus rankings up in the long run. In short the ad system is great if you have a product you want to sell quickly and directly to the public but usually business to business companies don’t do well with ads since people click thinking they will be able to purchase or buy something but end up finding that they can’t buy directly and the ad was wasted.
The second way of promoting your site online is through social media, this will also only work if you have a product or service worth promoting to the general public. There are different social media platforms for different target markets, you’re not going to market your enterprise services or business to business on MySpace but LinkedIn might be your mecca for promoting your business using social media. A company that sells a product or service to teenagers may want to use MySpace and Facebook and may skip LinkedIn all together. Either way there is one social media site that crosses all those boundaries and that is Twitter. There is way to much hype associated with Twitter and way to many businesses put all their efforts in learning everything they can about it as if it’s going to help them increase sales and that is just not the case. Social Media can only do two things for your business and I’ve listed them below so you have an idea of why it is important but you shouldn’t believe all the hype behind it.
First Twitter and other sites help you create back links, If you have a site that produces recipes or a company that has regular products or services that are launched it helps you pass that information on to people who are more likely to post links to it somewhere of value like their websites or forums and create back or inbound links for your website. The is really the only reason why a company should absolutely have a Facebook or Twitter account at least. It also ties into having more content on your site, the more stuff you have on your site to work with the more likely someone will repost or re-tweet it on theirs and you get Google juice in the process. This is why you see every large company always giving out their Twitter and Facebook profiles on commercials and in person asking people to follow them. They understand the likely possibility that even if one in 100 people following them reposts their blog article or message on their blogs or websites, than that create a back link that will permanently increase their business ranking at a quarter of the cost. The more followers you have, the more times this may occur which is why it’s called cheap advertising. A big problem small businesses have is that they don’t have the man power to stay on top of these things or post their blogs on these sites. Services like Ping.fm are perfect for businesses wanting to use social media to reach out to people who can possibly create back links for them, ping allows for instant submission of content to more than 50 different social media websites without you or your employees from having to go on and log into each of them and post your article, blog post, recipe etc…
The beauty of using a content management system like WordPress is that they have plugins capable of automatically posting to services like Ping the minute you Publish a blog post and thus it saves you from even having to worry about keeping up with Social Media. There is one plugin which I enjoy the most that takes your old posts and will send them to Twitter at a random interval of your choosing so that your content is always being redistributed online once a week, a day or even a minute if you have enough website content to not have to repeat yourself and it saves you hundreds of dollars from having to hire someone who would do that for you in the old days. I’m in the process of working on one that does the same random interval routine but for Ping.fm so that I can reach all 50 social media platforms with random articles from my site regularly. Then all you really have to do is make sure that people are adding you on Facebook, following you on Twitter and friending you on LinkedIn either through your regular advertising, product packaging or even on your website and you have an automatic pipeline to their attention.
The second thing Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz and all these platforms are good for is customer service, If you promote your customers to post on their twitter accounts with a hashtag # and your company or product name (aka #myProduct) any time they have a problem or a question with your product or service. Then you can see instant on demand feedback that people are having and solving their problems on the spot if it is an important one will give you an edge that few businesses actually understand. There are both plugins and services which will email you every time someone hash tags or just types in your company name or product name so that your customer service rep has up to the minute information of issues if they come up. Not all businesses see the importance of this and this is not useful for all businesses. But some like Continental Airlines and Dell have embraced this as a means of getting to the heart of solving a problem without tying up expensive customer service lines with a representative and are now using it with those same customers to test out products and get honest feedback without having to pay for costly focus group. Again what it all comes down to is finding ways to create more and more inbound or back links in order to improve your site’s importance on any number of subjects and getting more eyeballs on your products and services. One of the reasons for Jeff Bezos decision to move Amazon away from just books and into any product online was his desire to see more of his products listed on search engines like Google and when they added a reviews system, it was really as a way to give users a means to create for them more content that was valuable and searchable. Next I’ll discuss the topic of Conversion or getting your customers to buy and stay or come back to your site again and again.