Friday, November 21, 2014

The Shotgun Social Media Strategy

Convince and Convert (Digital Marketing Advisors) had an interesting article by Jay Baer on how to create a more effective social media strategy.

Most marketers know that the majority of social media channels don’t send (share) your posts to everyone on your list or to your connections. So, if you post something to Facebook, the majority of your FB connections won’t see your post. We’re talking about at least 98% of your connections will never see that post. Pretty dismal, right?

And, the same holds true for most of the other channels, including Twitter.

This obviously affects your marketing reach.

Baer explains that there’s something called ‘reliable reach’ and social media doesn’t make the cut.

“Reliable reach is the ability to send a message to a person who has asked to hear from you, and for that message to actually reach that person. Email has reliable reach. So does direct mail. And the telephone. And even fax. Social media does not have reliable reach, which is what makes it so challenging for marketers.”

If you’re like me, you spend time and effort on working the social media channels. And, you’ve established connections on each channel who want to hear about your posts. BUT, the majority of those connections aren’t getting the opportunity to receive what you’re posting.

So, say you have 5,000 Twitter followers. This now becomes your “theoretical reach.” Your reliable reach is only 2% or less of that number which is about 100 followers.

The reason given for this lack of fulfilling the ‘promise’ social media channels give to their members of offering great marketing reach, is because of too much noise . . . too much information being posted and processed.

Sounds convincing, doesn’t it?

Well, if you want to cut through that noise, all you have to do is pay. If you pay Facebook, your posts will reach a lot more of your connections. Hmmmm.

But, what if you don’t want to pay or don’t have it in your marketing budget?

How do you compensate for this highly unreliable reach?

Baer recommends putting down your marketing ‘rifle’ for a marketing ‘shotgun.’

Let’s break it down:

The rifle approach according to Baer is based on producing great content, have a specific plan for each channel, and strive for a large following on the channels your working.

But, for the rifle approach to work, you need reliable reach. But, that’s not happening. So, your efforts won’t be fruitful.

The shotgun approach according to Baer is based on using a large target.

The theory is if you send more posts in more places, you’ll reach more connections. It’s more important to actually reach your realistic number than your theoretical number.

Summing it Up

The shotgun approach makes sense to me, as long as it’s not used abusively. People don’t want to be bombarded with your content, or sales pitch for that matter. You’ll need to fine the “magic point” for the number of postings that enable you to reach more of your followers, but not so much that you put anyone off.

As with everything in life, moderation is best.

References:

Why It Might Be Time to Completely Change Your Social Media Strategy
Theoretical Reach - On Anti-Social Social

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Content Marketing - Are Long Sentences in Your Blog Posts Good or Bad for Your Rankings?

I’ve been getting more involved in my website analytics lately. Due to this, I found an interesting ranking element I didn’t know about – sentence length.

I know about sentence length in regard to writing for children, but had no idea it was a ranking element for your website.

Apparently, long sentences reduce content clarity.

This has me thinking and editing as I’m writing – adding more time to my schedule.

As an example, I wrote the following sentence in a recent blog post:

“If you copy and republish content from other websites without adding any original and substantial content or value of your own, you could (most likely will) be penalized with a hit to your search ranking.”

Hmmmm. Thirty-five words. Oops.

According to Clarity Grader, a free website analytics tool, your sentence length shouldn’t be longer than 20 words. You should aim for less than 5% in this area. I’m at 14.9 percent.

Again, OOPS.

Rewriting for Clarity

Going back to the long sentence example above, how would I rewrite it to create shorter sentences and boost clarity?

If you copy and republish content from other websites, you must include original and substantial value to your reader. If you don’t, you’ll be penalized with a hit to your search ranking.

There you go - two sentences both under 20 words.

Here’s another way to reduce the sentence length:

Republishing content from other websites without adding original value of your own will get your rankings penalized.

But, having to worry about sentence length with clarity in mind, along with every other ranking element, certainly puts a damper on creativity and writing time.

It really feels like bloggers have to jump through hoops just to keep their heads above the marketing waters.

Summing It Up

It’s a good idea to think shorter sentences. If you think you have a run-on sentence, check the word count. If you’re over, rewrite it into two or more sentences.

On a brighter note, my readability score is 63 percent. Anything 50% and over is pretty good.

NOTE

Another caveat is the length of your blog post. I just read it should be at least 400 words.

This post was under that count at 384 words, so what should I do, rant on and on, even though I’ve made my point and given my readers valuable information?

This will be the topic of another post. Keep an eye out for it.

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NEED A GHOSTWRITER / CONTENT WRITER?

Visit: Karen Cioffi, Freelance Writer

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Monday, November 17, 2014

3 Power-Packed Elements to SEO Ready Content

There is much to know about SEO ready content. The most important thing is to create content that search engines will find valuable enough to use as the results of a search query.

Below are three power-packed elements needed to create this type of content.

1. Create ‘shareable’ and keyword optimized content.

The ‘old’ SEO involved optimizing keywords that search engines would find, categorize, and index in order to place that content as results based on search queries.

Today, it’s all about providing quality content that readers will find valuable enough to share. You want readers to share that post with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Google Plus, and other social networks.

While you also need to provide keywords for the search engines to find and categorize your content, the key to blogging is now to provide quality content that’s shareable.

SEO is now kind of like a popularity contest. The more people who like and share your content the greater value your site has with Google and other search engines.

2. Use original content as much as possible.

A while back, it was okay to use reprints (duplicate content) on your website. You might get reprints from other bloggers who want to share their content or from article directories. You simply add the content to a post, add the attribution (the author’s byline), optimize the post, and you’d be good to go.

NOW, Google wants fresh content. It wants high-quality and original content. So, it’s advisable to keep the reprints to a minimum, if using them at all.

I usually have original content on my site here, but I’ll be striving to make it at least a 98-99% reprint free site.

NOTE: Duplicate content also include content you have duplicated on webpages. 

3. Fill in all the blanks.

Just about all websites provide tags, categories, and description features for your blog posts. It’s critical to fill these sections in. The more information you provide for the reader and search engines to find and categorize your post, the better.

Tags are an effective way to group related content. It tells readers and search engines what the post is ‘specifically’ about (e.g., dog allergies, dog dander).

Categories are a bit broader than tags. Using the tag examples above, the categories may be: allergies, pet allergies.

Descriptions are a brief synopsis (one to three sentences) of what the post is about. This snippet helps the search engines and is usually what they use if you’re post is used as a search result.

There you have it, three power-packed elements to SEO ready content that will get your posts doing what they should be doing: getting read, being shared, bringing traffic to your site, building your authority, and boosting conversion.

Definitions:

Conversion - the process of a visitor moving to the next level by taking an action you want. It could be opting in to your email list or buying your product.

Search query – when a person uses Google (or other search engine) to find what he’s looking for. He inputs a ‘keyword’ into the search box and Google will provide those posts that it thinks is the best results in response.

As an example, I input “article marketing” into Google’s search box on November 15, 2014. Google provided answers to that post. The first SERP included my post:


SERP is an acronym for ‘search engine results page.’ It’s the pages google provides for a search query. Have your post as the results on the first SERP is what you should be striving for.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Social Media Marketing and Time Management

There’s a great quote at BufferSocial, “Social media shouldn’t be a time waster. It should be a money maker.”

I absolutely love this quote.

If you’re like me, you spend time and effort keeping up with your social media channels. Post to Twitter. Post to GooglePlus. Post to Facebook. Post to StumbleUpon. Post to Pinterest. Post to LinkedIn. Post to . . .

Then analyze what’s working and tweak when and where needed. Then wash, rinse, repeat.

And, along with posting to these social biggies, you need to keep track of which posts and strategies are bringing in traffic – which posts are converting.

It’s a lot of work.

Along with the work, there's the time element. According to Business Insider, “Americans spend more time on social media than any other major Internet activity, including email.”

More than email? Wow. That’s a lot of time.

To get an idea of just how much time we’re talking about, a PDF Industry Report from Social Media Examiner demonstrates that 36% of marketers spend 1 to 5 hours per week on social media marketing. Twenty-six percent spend 6 to 10 hours. Eleven percent spends 11 to 15 hours per week.

I probably fall into the 26% of marketers, but want to get those hours cut down.

3 Tips on Streamlining Your Social Media Marketing

1. Get automated.

It’s essential to have your posts go out automatically. I use SocialOomph.com, but not regularly enough.

When not using automation, I share each of my posts manually to my accounts. I use: Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, LinkedIn, and StumbleUpon. Yes, there are lots of other ones, but it’s impossible for me to include more. And, these are the ones I’ve found to work best (for me).

I also go to each network and find posts of others that I think my ‘followers’ will like and share those.

Automation streamlines this process for you.

2. Limit the time you spend looking for content.

Aside from using your own content to post, BufferSocial recommends you limit yourself to 30 minutes of scoring the internet for content.

So far, I’ve never had to scour the internet to find content. It comes right to me in my email. Subscribing to lots of business and marketing sites, I get fresh content every day.

It is important to limit your time on this strategy also because you can end up going from link to link to link, reading more and more and more.

I also find content by going directly to my networks, as mentioned in number one, above. I skim for titles I think are valuable - click on the link to make sure the content's worth sharing, then share it.

3. Analyze your efforts.

This is another of those must-do elements. If you’re spending X amount of time engaging in social media marketing, you should make sure it’s working. And, you need to know which of those efforts is actually creating a worthwhile ROI (return on investment).

The BufferSocial article on time-saving strategies goes into more details on these strategies and more.

I hope this helps you get a better handle on the time you spend ‘socializing.’

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Blogging with External Links - More Value to the Reader and More Ranking Power

There are so many tips, tricks, and strategies to blogging ‘effectively.’

Anyone can blog. It’s simple - you just type away, publish the post, and share it.

But, to blog effectively, you need to pay attention to lots and lots of blogging strategies to make the post more valuable to the reader and make it search engine friendly.

One technique to add a power-punch to your blog posts is to use external links (outbound links).

According to Moz.com, “External Links are hyperlinks that point at (target) any domain other than the domain the link exists on (source).”

In simpler terms, an external link is one on your website that links to another website (domain).

Why Use External Links?

1. Added value to your reader.

External links can provide your reader with another viewpoint on the topic of the post. The linked site can also enhance your content, bringing more value to the reader.

2. It provides proof.


These links can also be used as ‘proof’ that what you’re saying has validity. Having a heavy-hitter site agree with your viewpoint or information gives your post more authority . . . more weight.

3. It creates a connection.

Using external links makes the site you’re linking to aware of you. This established a connection, even if a tiny one.

4. They’re good for search engine categorizing and ranking.

MOZ explains that “the target and source pages and domains cited in a link also provide valuable relevancy metrics for search engines.”

Normally, external links point to content that’s relevant to the source post (your post). Linking to content that’s similar helps the “search engines establish knowledge hubs on the Internet that they can then use to validate the importance of a given web document.”

Being the Target of an External Link

On the flipside, if you’re linked to by a ‘reliable’ site, it’s like a vote of confidence or popularity in the search engine ranking contest.

The more ‘reliable’ sites linking in to your site, the more value search engines will think your site has. This will make them (the ‘search engine gods’) smile on you with better rankings.

So, start using external links in your blog posts. And, if your content is valuable, hopefully, ‘good ranking’ sites will link to your content.

TIP: Make sure the external links you use are relevant to your post’s topic and include them naturally within the content. Or, you can include them at the end of your post as a reference or further reading. In this case, use the title of the post you’re linking to and make it clickable (anchor text).

For an example of these links in practice, look at the link I have in the 5th paragraph.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Email Marketing and The Evergreen System (it has to do with autoresponders)

How do you create a marketing system that converts, and one that keeps working without any effort after the initial setup?

It’s called the ‘evergreen system’ or the ‘autopilot system.’ And, it involves email marketing and autoresponders.

I’m in the process of creating this type of system. I’m hoping to have it up and running in the new year. Interestingly, each pro marketer has their own version of this system. The one I lean toward is the six-week mini e-course.

The Evergreen System Ingredients

1. A Website is the very first ingredient or element. You must have a website and one that’s SEO effective.

No matter who you are or what you’re selling, you must have a website that works. It needs to generate traffic, engage readers, boost your authority, be shareable, be SEO effective, and convert.

2. Landing pages are the second element. It’s the landing pages that you’ll bring your inbound traffic to. These pages must have copy that converts. It needs to let the visitor know that by saying YES to the CTA (call-to-action) he’ll get something of value. Your landing page should address the visitor’s problem.

3. The opt-in is one of the most important conversion ingredients in this marketing mix. The opt-in needs to be attractive, engaging, and quickly convey the benefit of clicking through. It needs great copy.

Tip: Your opt-in can cause reader anxiety, so be careful of the wording. Avoid “Sign Up” and “Free Trial.” Both can be subconsciously perceived as costing monetarily or ‘effort wise’ down the line

4. The free gift may very well be ‘the’ most important ingredient. It’s the gift that will motivate the visitor to click on the opt-in box. But, it MUST be perceived by the visitor as being valuable enough to give her email address.

5. The follow-up or autoresponder series is what will create this evergreen, converting system powerful.

I’ve written about the autoresponder series before – you can check it out at: Powerful Email Messages That Actually Convert. But, this series is different.

In this newer version of the autoresponder series, it’s all about giving doable information through the weekly ‘lessons’ series.

How it Works

Once you get the new subscriber with your free ‘information’ gift that’s absolutely worth his email address, you follow-up with a six part autoresponder through your email marketing service.

Since everyone is busy, keep the lessons short and sweet and if at all possible, make them a video. Research shows that video converts better than other forms of content.

According to Tim Paige of LeadPages, the videos should be no more than 4 minutes each. The first 3 minutes should be valuable information and the 4th minute should be your CTA. Let the subscribers know that if they want even more in depth information that will help them get more traffic, or boost their authority, or lose weight, or have whiter teeth, they should get what you’re offering.

Pretty simple, right? Give it a try!

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Have You Had Your Content Stolen? Protection Strategies You Need to Know

I write a lot. I have probably close to, or over, 1500 articles and blog posts floating in cyber space. In fact, there may be 2000 or more. Some have my byline, others I've ghostwritten.

When you have that much content out there, you have to expect some of it will get hijacked, even though it's not ethical.

An article at Problogger, delves into this topic and gives 3 tips you can use to protect your content.

1. Stop 'em cold in their tracks.

This first tip I haven't taken advantage of, but will so soon. It involves disabling 'text selection' from your blog. The Problogger articles explains more about this. In essence it makes it so your content can't be copied off your screen.

You can use this strategy with both Blogger and WordPress.

2. Next up is watermarking your images.

You wouldn't think this is necessary, but from experience it is. I create just about all of the images I use on my blogs and websites. I put a "Copyright 201X Karen Cioffi" on them. One though, on book marketing, I uploaded before adding my copyright note. I happened upon that image on a writer's website. It was being used as their logo.

Now, using a copyright note isn't the same as using watermarks, but it's a step in the right direction.

3. The RSS feed is third on the list.

This is about protecting your RSS feed. You can "either allow partial/short RSS feeds (so that the scraping software doesn’t take all of your content) or add a custom feed signature with a copyright notice in the feed footer section of your blog"

I have a copyright notice at the bottom of all my websites.

Keep in mind there is NO absolute strategy to keep your content from being hijacked, but every precaution helps.

To read the Problogger article on protecting your content from being copied, just click the link!

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