With the growth of social media, Companies are spending millions of dollars on advertsing through social media & networking websites. Social media advertising is a part of online advertising budget & companies must stratergise properly before they decide on social media advertsing. Some of the top websites include Twitter, facebook, Linkedin, youtube, digg, reddit & others. Setting of objectives, budget, Advt types, Ad copy & ROI calculation are some of the steps in the social media advertising. Social media Advertising is proving to be better than search advertsing for some of the types of campaigns based on the objectives. Advantage of this type of advertsing is to target the audience easily based on age, gender, profiles & others.
Twitter has promoted tweets, promoted trending topics & promoted accounts as advt formats. This is very useful when launching of a new service, product & also to create new twitter accounts. Also with millions of twitter users, it easier to target the audience & gain visibility.
Facebook has both direct & indirect types of advt. Direct is one in which ads served through banners, through 3rd party ad networks & others. Indirect is one in which the companies create fan pages & one needs to like the facebook fan page to proceed.
Youtube has ads at the bottom of the video player which is displayed when the video is playing. Youtube is the second largest search engine & advt in youtube provide a great way to promote the products.
Other social media sites have their own formats in the form of sponsored stories, articles & others which are served through 3rd party ad networks or through the social media websites.
Flash pages don't help in getting higher rankings on the search engines. Even though search engine algorithm has been improved over the years, they still find it difficult to index flash pages. Search engines clearly note that they index text based elements & hence flash pages are at a disadvantage. They should not be used for navigation & home page text. Noscript was used in earlier times, but its excessive use lead to spamming & hence search engines discourage their use now.
Whenever flash is used, an alternative HTML should be made available. Many websites provide both a flash version & HTML version of the sites. Top level navigation should be in text as it helps search engines follow the links & index the properly. Also sites should be included in Google & Bing webmaster tools to know how search engine bots are treating the pages. Content is still the king & providing fresh & updated content to the search engines help improve the rankings of the pages.
Google's Google+ has been growing rapidly & is one of the top growing social networks. Google's buzz & wave both failed to tap into the social networking space. Facebook stole the show from Myspace & is the biggest social network. Some of the top differences between the 2 are
1) With Google+ circles, you can target & communicate the message. While facebook doesn't have the option to target a particualr group. Segment communications in Google+.
2) Google+ is currently open for personal accounts only. While facebook is open for both personal & Business accounts.
3) Sharing information - Google+ provides an easy way to share the information through circles. Facebook has a limit on the number of words which can be posted.
4) Optimized Google+ pages will have the advantage of listing in Google search results & this can drive traffic to the pages. This is a big drawback for facebook pages.
5) Hangouts – Hangout is already turning out be the great asset for Google+. With a webcam & mic, one can chat with people in Google+ & also do the video chatting.
There are different ways by which search engine bots indexing & following of the webpages can be contolled. Google bot, Google mobile bot, Yahoo bot, MSN bot are some of the important search engine bots visiting a page to cache it. Depending on the importance of the webpage & content of the webpage these should be implemented. Sometimes if we use more than one method, it may become contradictory & it affects the crawling of the webpages.
1) Robots.txt file
This is a very common method of controlling the access to the site. This should be placed at the root of the site & can contain which bots to allow, which to be blocked & also if any pages should be blocked from indexing & following.
2) Meta Robots Tag
This is used for page level control & should be placed in the header section of the page. This can contain NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW, INDEX & FOLLOW depending on the type of the restriction.
3) Canonical Tag
This is a page level meta tag which is placed in the HTML header of a webpage. Its purpose is to inform search engines which version of the URL is canonical & to keep duplicate content out of the search engines.
This is used for controlling the access to non HTML files like PDF, flash & other files. This has been supported by the major search engines & is used at the page level at the HTTP header.
With the rise of social networking & bookmarking, sharing the content on the web helps increase traffic & also improves branding. There are several social bookmarking sites & also websites where content can be shared. Some of the top such sites are Digg, reddit, google+, Stumbelupon, Delcious, Facebook, Twitter, scribd & others. Some of these sites are popular for tech, gossip, politics & others.
1) Social Sharing Buttons helps increase traffic to the website. By submitting the sites to Digg, Reddit & others, users will vote on it & if they like, they will visit the site to access the content. Thus increasing the traffic.
2) It helps in branding of the site. As more & more people share the content, people will start searching for it in search engines & thus helping in branding.
3) It helps in creating of communities. If people start liking content from websites, it helps in creating a community of like minded people who will be great asset for the sites.
4) Other websites start linking to the articles, blogs & others which will help increasing trust rank & hence better Google rankings.
Google has expanded the sitelist search results. When we search with a keyword, usually the first website result contains many links to different sections of the site. This is called as sitelinks & Google displays this for a site depending on the authority, popularity & other factors of the site. First the links were displayed as a row with 3 to 4 hyperlinks. Later on Google expanded this to 2 columns of links. Now google has expanded this further with full-size links with a URL and one line of text—similar to regular results. The no. of links has also been increased from 8 to 12. This provides better quality links to the users & also helps in easier search experience. Sitelinks help navigate to the particular section of the site easily.
Google has been making many changes to the search results & also how it is displayed. Panda update helped provide high quality links to the users & also helped weed out sites with duplicate content. Google also added search box next to the 1st site in search results to find the resources easily.
With the increase in mobile browsing & smartphones, it is becoming easier to get information on the go. Mobile websites filled this void earlier by providing information. With the arrival of app stores, mobile browsing took on a new experience. To decide on the whether to go for a mobile website or mobile app depends on business objectives, user demography, budget constraints & others. Having an app along with the mobile website provides an additional source of income as well. Some of the top differences between the two are
1) Apps require a good strategy to succeed. Need to decide on whether to offer free or Paid.
Users can access the websites freely & can be built easily.
2) Apps need to be developed for each app store like Apple, Andorid, BlackBerry & others
Websites can be developed on a common platform.
3) Need to share the revenue with the app stores & also comply with their terms & conditions
Can keep all the revenue & also websites can be developed without any hindrances.
4) Entry costs for the apps in some of the app stores. Also need to have a proper strategy in place to develop apps
Mobile websites don't cost much & also can be developed in house.
5) Apps can be accessed even offline. Upgrades in apps need to be installed.
Websites need to have a net connection to access. No need for any upgrades.
6) If apps are successful, it helps build brand visibility easily. Also helps in viral marketing.
Websites can be found in search engines through keyword search & it also helps in driving traffic.
Google has launched fetch as googlebot, a new feature in Google webmaster tools, to submit & index the sites/pages faster. Even though there is normal Google way of crawling & indexing, this new feature allows it do faster for Google. This can be used in situations like: if the page is launched new for some events & want it be indexed faster, to replace a cached copy of the page in Google & also to submit new sites. However, there is a limit of 50 submissions per week for individual URL's & 10 per week when URL's & all the pages under it. This can be found under the diagnostics settings of the webmaster tools. It involves the following steps
1) Set up a Google Webmaster Tools account for the website & verify it.
2) Under the diagnostics settings, fetch as Googlebot is given.
3) Add the pages to it & if successfull, you will be given the option to Index the site
4) Indexing can be done at the root level or pages associated with it.
5) Once indexed, the tool shows the updates & also the no. of remaining fetches.
Social Media events provide a great way to connect with the customers & engage with them. Important social media sites like facebook with its 750 million members, Twitter with millions of tweets, youtube being a top video search engine & others provide an avenue to engage with the customers. It can be used during the pitching to the clients & developing rapport with the clients. Social Media is also used in a big way in the events to provide real time information to the users. It includes live blogging, tweeting, live streaming and all of which can be included in an aggregator to provide a single window for the information.
Some of the factors to be considerd while using the social media events include
1) How the events benefit the customers
2) Topics considered can include Addresing important issues customers face, trends in industry & others
3) Informing the customers about the event through mail, blogs & others
4) Developing a proper content which hold the interest of the audience.
5) Using an expert in the field for the social media event
6) Special offers, discounts & others who sign up during the event
Some of the important Social Media events Include
1) Live Chat
2) Virtual events
4) Events using Twitter/Facebook like Townhall events
With the increase in smart phones & higher internet penetration, mobile browsing is growing at a rapid rate. Also mobile search is increasing resulting in higher mobile traffic. Websites fit for desktop browsing may not be suitable for mobile viewing. Not all phones have proper mobile browsers & hence content may not be displayed properly. Some of the Mobile SEO best practices include
1) Deciding whether to serve mobile web pages from www.pages.com or m.pages.com or www.pages.mobi
2) Proper meta tags for the pages. Location based Keywords play a very important role & also keywords should be close to Google mobile predictive search.
3) Making sure that mobile web pages adhare to w3c mobile web standards
4) Registration forms should be small & ask for only important info.
5) Submitting mobile sitemap to Google webmaster central & allowing the Google mobile bot to crawl.
6) Listing the site in directories, search engines & others
7) Having a proper analytics tool to measure the metrics for the pages & implementing any changes needed.
8) Site should load faster, no flash, ajax & heavy images.
Facebook is the world's top social network with 750 million members. Though facebook is the top network, however it is unable to dominate in a few key markets of the world like Russia, China & Japan. In these markets, it is the local social networks which are giving facebook a run for money. Recently Google has launched Google+ & has quickly garnered 10 million members in a short time. Orkut which was growing in India & Brazil has slowed down now & its place is being taken up by Facebook.
There are other social networks like myspace, hyves, hi5 & others which have a good number of membership. People are spending more time on social networks owing to games, picture/video sharing & chatting. Also for the business, it is providing an avenue to reach their customers easily. Brands must target their local social networks to reach their customers easily. Social networks have redefined online marketing tactics & more & more companies are spending their budget dollars on facebook & others.
- Facebook - US, Europe & others
- Vkontakte - Russia & other countries surrounding it
- Mixi - Japan
- Qzone - China
- Orkut - Brazil, other Latin American countries & India
- Maktoob - Arab Countries
Google has been on a shutting down spree starting with health, powermeter, labs & now Google directory. Directories were once the top source for link juice & over time directories have lost value. DMOZ is still the king of the directoires & google also drew a lot from DMOZ for its directory. It is no longer available & visitors to the site are suggested to use Google search for information.
Directories provide link juice to the sites which would help site get better page ranks & rankings in Google. Many directoires charge for premium listing. However, with the growth of social media, PPC & others, directories is losing their sheen. I beleive, Google's closure is the final nail on the coffin for the directories. With this Google is stressing on unique & fresh content, which would be used in Google ranking & in accordance with Google Panda update.
Google's panda update, instant search, using social media results & real time search have added a new dimension to the search optimization. This shows Google is placing more focus on unique, fresh content which provides users with the good content & information. With this, reciprocal linking & directory listing have joined a bygone era.
Google+ is one of the fastest growing social networks, having attained 10 miilion member base quicker than facebook & twitter. When Google+ was launched, there was lots of confusion over creating brand pages. Some of the pages created were even deleted by Google. Google also announced that it would be opening up Google+ for brand pages. Google+ gives the opportunity to target the audience using circles. This helps in easier targeting of the audience. It is the product pages in facebook which have given it a big advantage. A few of the brands have already created the brand pages. Some of the important steps in creating brand pages include
1) Going through the Google's terms & conditions & creating the pages in accordance with it.
2) As the brands already have pages on facebook & twitter, making sure that communications remains consistent across the board.
3) Having a team dedicated to Google+ brand pages for problem solving, answering the users comments, etc
4) Google would use the google+ pages for ranking in its search engine. This is a great opportunity for brands to rank in top spots & hence content, videos, offers need to be optimized properly.
With the rise of social networking sites like facebook, twitter, youtube & others, it is becoming important to make the websites socially aligned. Facebook has 750 million members & this makes it a great place for business to target the customers. Websites should include a link to their facebook, twitter & youtube profiles on their homepage in a prominent place. They should also include facebook connect so that users can login & any updates they make get published on their pages. Creating a channel on youtube & embedding videos on the site will make people spend more time on the site. They can also include twitter & facebook conversations/comments for the site. Blogs are great to connect with the customers & websites should have a blog included in it. Also submitting blog entries to social bookmarking sites, creating profiles in the social sites will help give visibility.