Don’t underestimate the alternative options to Social Media Optimization, namely in Social Media, Pay-Per-Click marketing, Banner Ads and Text Ads.. We discussed some of the limitations of SEO, which are being hard-pressed now because of recent Panda and Penguin updates, not to mention newer algorithm changes, which we’ll discuss a bit later.
One of the most alarming trends in web marketing over the past few years has been the advent of social media, and now the weight that Google and Bing are putting into social media pages as “popular” search results. In other words, you are benefiting from the huge popularity of Facebook, Twitter and other sites and your official social pages will be ranked higher than just an unknown or newly developed website. This is why companies are spending a lot of time and money developing their networking content.
What is involved in networking content?
The latter of these is most important. Few companies today understand how to use social networking to generate conversation about their company; the few that do are just now getting the hang of it, and are sweating it out trying to make their page fun, educational and accessible to customers with questions. However, even fewer companies truly understand how to create viral content.
Viral content is made to be popular, polarizing, even controversial. The most popular viral content doesn’t just attract attention but captivates people. The story becomes a nationwide or even worldwide phenomenon. Everyone clicks and watches, and everyone shares it with everyone. Before you know it, you have one million hits and you’re a celebrity!
Companies know this and the shrewd ones make it a point to regularly create viral traffic hoping to catch that attention and get a big boost in brand recognition. The Gotye hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know” is a great example of a music video that went viral, gaining 400 million views and spawning parodies, because it was such sharable content.
Understand, of course, that not all companies can afford to create videos, animation, games, or hilarious or shocking comedy skits. That’s okay, because being viral doesn’t just mean it has to be entertaining. It has to be of interest to people. It has to be:
Even if you’re not “entertaining” you can still craft a page, video or audio podcast of information that is value—that educates the viewership about an important issue they are familiar with.
The latest algorithm updates reward websites and social networking pages that help to share viral content and create million view wonders. That’s why you’ll notice that most pages that contain anything cool and interesting has share and like buttons plastered all over it! They want you to share this content because this will help the viral piece, and the entire website, go up in search rankings and in turn generate traffic.
Try to create content that your competitors are not creating. Try to predict what tomorrow’s “big thing” will be. You may choose to fascinate your readers with a bit of history, an interview, a detailed discussion on a craft or hobby that’s little known or reported, and many other diversions. Social networking is about getting people talking—creating a party page of useful, amazing content that demands attention.
The good news is that the lack of opportunity SEO sometimes provides you will send you right into the “arms” of PPC, or Pay-Per-Click advertising. PPC does have some advantages, and yet some limitations to be aware of. With this approach to text marketing, you don’t have to so much “guess” where your site ends up. You simply pay for the top spot, or the second spot, or whatever you can afford.
You are bidding against other competitors for keywords, by selecting your maximum bid price for running a text ad based on a keyword query. You are not charged per impressions (how many times people see the ad) but instead how many times people click your ad. So you’re basically paying for conversions. However, if you don’t get enough impressions or click-through you will have to change your keyword ad, or the keywords selected for better results.
Even with PPC, which in theory has more freedom than SEO, is not as anarchic as you might think. For instance, there is a randomizing factor involved with PPC listings, not to mention a quality score guarantee. Even if you pay extra for advertising space, you are not safe from suspension or penalization in PPC, if you misspell words in your ad, or if you link to poor quality landing pages. The Quality Score factor insists that you really “try” and approach PPC with the same methodical nature of SEO.
Additionally, PPC marketing has its own guidelines of acceptable behavior. And guess what happens when everything else is leveled? When everyone does it right and bids an identical price for the top slot…Google randomizes the results. It’s only fair, right? Google does try to limit the corporate influence of large corporations facing off against smaller “free market” businesses with such algorithm updates as Quality Score. Nevertheless, the war wages on, because it’s just a fact of business that larger companies have more money to develop content. They can afford journalistic writing and can pay for higher quality link development. Their top sites are usually also more popular overall because they have a national brand.
It’s not entirely fair, but then again how awesome is it that you can actually compete with national brands to begin with, without requiring millions of dollars for advertising? When you localize your content, you can better target your customers in ways big companies really don’t try to do.
Furthermore, you can better target your audience by using negative keyword searches, as well as Geo-targeting your ads. Geo-targeting means that you can pick where your audience is set for a particular campaign, or even use country domains, like .ca or .uk.
Keep an eye on the negative keyword search trend. Not everyone is happy the way Google returns results anymore and this has led to many users now including negative keyword searches in popular queries; for example, “Lindsay Lohan –Mean Girls” would include only Lindsay sites that do not contain references to “Mean Girls.” All you’d have to do for your content is make sure your page does not reference the negative keyword and you would come up in at a higher search result.
Banners and text ads are still an important part of the Internet, and all the more so as more and more users are using the web for video surfing, gaming, and social networking which advertise products according to different criteria than just searches. For instance, Facebook personalizes all of its ads according to what you post about. Some popular online magazines like Ask Men and Cosmopolitan may even run “hijack full page ads” which take up the whole screen. (Somehow they get away with hijack ads without being penalized, so go figure)
For the best results incorporate your banner ads and text ads into sponsored searches, from the likes of Google, Yahoo, or other big name companies, since they make it a point to group these banners ads with related sites. Directly paying for banner ads without having any network support or keyword-geo targeting can be pricey and is the equivalent of a TV commercial, since it’s difficult to control who sees the ad and who thinks it’s relevant.
Be careful about affiliate advertising, including in context anchoring, which can cheapen the professional look of a website by peppering multiple words in the article with commercial links. Search engines are definitely sending a message that gaudy is not good, and are penalizing sites (most notoriously E-Zine Articles) for having too many ads highlighted over the content itself.
Banner ads are also not searchable, nor are link exchanges the great idea they used to be ten or even five years ago. Never forget the importance of searchable text when trying to find traffic. Banner ads can be effective but only if your target demographic is strongly invested in the website. So much of what sells online and what attracts monster traffic has to do with people who share values and interests, and who can each benefit from doing business with each other.
You might sometimes notice that you get different search results on different computers, even typing the same thing. There is a very good reason for that: your Internet is stalking you! More to the point, these search engines (and social networking sites like Facebook) use your browsing history to better tempt you with marketing offers, and better match results to your queries. They know that no standard fits all, and so want to base your queries off other sites that you have already been searching. Some search engines like Google, actually borrow your bookmarked sites in Chrome to further suggest website pages of interest after a search. Frequently visited sites, recently visited sites, and sites that you rarely visit are all taken into account.
How can you possibly plan for all of this as an Internet marketer or website owner? How does a person’s personal browsing history come into play?
Simple—it’s all about knowing your customer. Consider pertinent questions as you build your SEO or PPC campaign, such as:
Asking these questions will help you create a more thorough campaign, and one that will only benefit from such obstacles as personalized search results.
Now that you’ve known everything about social media optimization. Next is one of the most complicated issues of designing and maintaining a website will be tracking your progress and reacting to it. That’s the theme of our next chapter, analytics.