Everyone understands the value of a great strategy, right?
After all, every business person will at very least pay lip service to the idea that having a plan is pretty critical for success, whether in operations, branding or marketing.
But if we’re all being honest, the “strategy” part seems to have been overlooked for online marketing for a long time.
Take for example the statistic that just 39% of B2C businesses and 42% of B2B businesses have a documented content strategy in place. Instead, many jump straight to content production, publishing as much and as often as they can but without much of a framework to bring it all together.
Or consider how for years, SEO has been looked at like a group of tactics – a little link building here, some on-page optimization there, and poof – rankings, right? Well, in theory, anyways. Even new developments like Google+ Authorship tend to be looked at in terms of their immediate return (a little picture by your listing) instead of their long-term value (becoming a trusted publisher over time).
Even PPC hasn’t been exempt from this kind of ad hoc approach. Too often, businesses just choose the highest traffic keywords, set up their bids and hope for the best.
But maybe worst of all is that companies treat all the different online marketing channels as silos, each operating independently instead of combining to achieve a common, defined goal. Sometimes, the teams working on these different channels won’t even communicate with each other, creating enormous missed opportunities to share data and learn from the successes of the others.
It’s all a bit of a rat race, with parts moving in every direction. So, why has strategy been such an oversight for so many businesses?
It starts with perception.
For years, online marketing was pitched as a “silver bullet”; a cheap, fast and mostly technical undertaking that could yield big results without much sustained effort. Online marketing “packages” were sold – a one-size-fits all approach for a process that should have been custom tailored to the business being served.
Agencies also contributed to the idea of “Silos” by selling services separately instead of holistically, reporting on each different channel independently of the others. But as we approach 2014, the lines between channels are becoming increasingly blurred, feeding into and complimenting the activities of one another.
The perception of online as simple, push-button marketing is slowly changing as the web and digital marketing mature. Outside pressures are starting to force marketers to rethink their approach to the online medium, some of which include:
- Google algorithm updates have made it increasingly more difficult to succeed with tactics that were once quick wins. Now, success means catering to the user – and businesses are realizing they’ve never taken the time to define those users, their pain points or their buying cycle.
- PPC campaigns have become much more varied and complex with a dizzying array of potential extensions and options to exploit. While “just push play” is still an option, the sheer number of ways to spend your ad budget are giving businesses pause and making them question whether or not they’ve taken the best approach with their investment.
- The amount of content being published daily is skyrocketing, creating an avalanche of noise that sub-par content cannot break through. Companies that were outsourcing their content creation to the lowest bidder or guest blogging on shell websites for links are starting to see diminishing returns on their investment.
- The massive uptake of mobile (56% of the world’s population owns a smart phone, and there are more mobile devices on the planet than people) has forced businesses to reevaluate whether or not they are equipped to meet users on mobile platforms and highlighting the need for a multi-tiered approach to their online presence.
- More and more businesses have clued in to the potential of online marketing and are investing in it, creating a landscape far more competitive than in years past. The winners are really cleaning up, while the losers are further behind than ever before.
Only Fools Rush In…
Even as the processes become more involved, businesses are usually eager to get moving as quickly as possible. They want to see progress immediately and results yesterday.
This kind of “must-move-quickly” pressure can cause businesses to skip the most critical, foundational steps; the gritty but crucial jobs of research, planning and analyzing.
Slow Down. Think Critically. Action Carefully. Win big.
What’s missing for marketers in 2014 isn’t the ability to take action or the expertise to execute – it’s the time and effort invested in creating and documenting the underlying strategy before moving forward.
In 2014, I think we’re going to see this start to change – but mostly because it has to. Smart businesses will be the ones who don’t just pay lip service to strategy, but embrace it as an integral, mission-critical part of online marketing.
So what about your business?
Can you articulate your current strategy when asked? Do you know what’s working, what isn’t – and why? Have you taken the time to develop personas, map out buying cycles and plot out campaigns? Do you have a roadmap in place to guide how your budget is spent and rationale as to why your dollars are allocated the way they are?
If not, are you ready to change? If you are, 2014 could be your year – the year you helped strategy make a much-needed comeback.
Using Pinterest for reputation management is a topic that has been overlooked in the current buzz around this social photo site. If you are a brand or an individual looking to control the search engine results (SERPs) around your name, Pinterest as well as other social photo sharing sites can be an effective tool.
Let’s use Pinterest as our example in leveraging social photo sites for reputation management. Pinterest is currently ranked as the 16th most popular site in the United States and 62nd globally (Alexa). With over 11 million unique monthly users and an average time on site of 98 minutes per month (TechCrunch), you can see why we are going to leverage this site.
So to start, if you have not already set up an account on Pinterest you can request an invite directly from the site. The invites are currently taken up to two days to get confirmed. Once in, you are ready to start to build upon you current online reputation.
I have been testing a couple of things on Pinterest to familiarize myself with their service and what I found was that a properly optimized “Board” (think of it in terms of a bulletin board) or “Pin” (this would be the individual post) can quickly show up in the Google SERPs for your targeted keywords. However, I have not seen the same thing in Bing or Yahoo as of yet. So this example will help you cannibalize the Google SERPs for your personal name or company name. Here is my strategy for online reputation management using Pinterest.
When setting up you account I strongly suggest that you use your proper business name in the First Name field. I found that Pinterest does not have a character limit on the First Name field. Also create a username that matches your brand, but is not too long for people not to remember it. For example Martha Stewart Weddings Middle East uses the username MSWME. For individuals, use your first and last name that you have consistently used online. The “About” section on the initial profile has a 450 character limit (includes spaces). Create a concise company overview or bio using your targeted keywords within this character limit.
When setting up a Board on Pinterest you need to keep in mind that the Board name will be used as the page title as well as in the H1 page heading. So use your official company name or proper name when creating your Board. You will also be able to create a Board description. The Board description has a maximum character length of 500 (includes spaces) and it will be used within the Open Graph description tag. So I recommend that you create a concise business overview or a bio using your targeted keywords. Don’t just copy and paste it from the “About” section, modify it a bit to create additional unique content. Once that is set up you will need to edit the Board and choose a category. If you are setting this up for a company, choose the best category that matches closest to your industry. If you are setting this up for a personal brand, choose either the “People” or “My Life” category.
With the initial set up of the Board you can go ahead and start adding Pins to it. So let’s say you are a law firm, you could add a Pin for each of the lawyers in the office to assist in their own online reputation management. You could add client testimonials to the board. You can add your press releases (those that have images). The possibilities are pretty endless, but you want to keep in mind that this Board should be focused on your brand name and that you should be using your brand name within the descriptions of each Pin. If you are an individual you can Pin your work portfolio, sites that you have designed, or even other social network profiles that you previously created to defend your online reputation.
What other ways have you used Pinterest to enhance your own online reputation?
Guest Post Provided by Brent Nau an Internet Marketing Consultant with Advanced Medical, a physical therapy staffing company.
Wanted to share with you a new test that Google was doing by changing the vertical maps to a “Horizontal Map” for the Local Searches
What I found also that this test affected also Brand search with a Local Map Enabled:
I think these changes have multiple implications on Adwords (now ads are higher on the right sidebar). One more quick note i noticed that i did try multiple searches to trigger the blended search and couldn’t see a blended search with the new map.
Got a question lately where a friend of mine is moving his site from a static HTML website to a .php website. One of his questions where if he needed to add a redirect from his Old URLs to his New URLs, where the the only changing part in his URL structure is the Extension. For Example:
- Old Url: /wissam-dandan.html
- New URL: /wissam-dandan.php
RewriteRule ^(.*)\.html$ $1.php [R=301]
As my first blog post on my personal blog, I will start it with the reason that let me setup and launch my personal blog, the Authorship markup.Google has gifted all authors a rel=author markup in search results. this will help searches discover great content.
To identify the author of a blog or article, Google checks for a connection between the content page (such as an article), an author page, and a Google Profile. Authorship markup uses the
rel attribute (part of the open HTML5 standard) in links to indicate the relationship between a content page and an author page (** Authorship markup)
To implement it in my blog, I create a an “About me” and i used custom menus to be able to add the rel=”author” in the href linking to my about page. to do so you need to:
- Create About you page
- Go to Menus under Appearance
- Create a Menu, click Save
- Check the “About me” page in the left column and click “Add to menu”
- In this step you have to click “Screen Options” on top and check “Link Relationship (XFN)”
- now go to the “about me” showing in the Menu and click the small down arrow
- fill the rel box with “author”.
- Now while you write your About page make sure that every social profile, author page on a different blog and your Google + profile. you need to add a rel=”me” in every link.
- in this final step go to Google Rich Snippet testing tool
Wissam Dandan is an International SEO and Digital Marketing consultant in Daytona Beach, Florida. a Lebanese Origin with a Passion for SEO and Analytics, Founder of LebSEO Design . I also maintain a microblog on Twitter @WissamDandan and Google+