Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Why Is My Google Places Page No Longer On Page One?

I have had a couple of calls that run along these lines recently. Their Google Places (Google+ Local) Page used to show up on the front page for their main keyword in the nearest big town but doesn’t any longer. 

In most cases, this is because business owners have got wise to Google Places and [...]

Monday, 4 February 2013

Welcome To Facebook - The Truth Behind 'The Social Network'

With the recent flotation and the legal battles of The Social Network movie, it's easy to miss the real story behind Facebook.

Eight years ago, Facebook began as a Harvard campus network but, in 2012, Mark Zuckerberg's website can claim 13% of the world's population as members and he has just launched the company on the Stock Exchange.

But for him, it is clearly about more than the money. He has given everyone a platform to share and follows what he preaches on his own Facebook page. The development of FB is directly related to the growth of people's desire to share, which clearly becomes addictive.

However, people will not keep joining at the same rate forever so now there are apps, games, competitions and business pages to keep people on the site for longer and to encourage them to come back more often.

But there are have also been issues over privacy and so the developers have tried to simplify this complicated area - which caused some mirth over Christmas when even Zuckerberg's sister got caught out by the settings and had a hissy fit over a private family picture that became part of the public domain.

The golden rule of using Facebook - if you don't want it to be public, don't put it on Facebook!

The Origins of Facebook
Whilst he was supposed to be majoring in psychology and computer science during his time at Harvard, Zuckerberg's real desire always lay in the foundation of a social network on the internet, a goal which he talked about extensively but never dreamed that he would actually achieve himself.

In a curious twist of fate, Zuckerberg's professor had also taught Bill Gates and he explained that they were both very similar in their feeling that what they were being taught might not be what they actually needed to be learning.

The original Face Book was like a year book of student details, complete with photos. But, as was described with relish in the movie, Zuckerberg and his room mates devised a website that would see them hack into the college database to produce an album of photographs that could be compared and rated. The Face Mash was a huge success with some but provoked a large number of complaints to the college authorities about privacy issues, who insisted that it was taken down.

After complying with the initial request, Zuckerberg then launched thefacebook and invited people to post their own information rather than populating it himself. Within days, there were calls from other colleges who also wanted their own version of thefacebook.

What made thefacebook different from other successful social networks of the time like friendster and myspace was that mix of psychology and computer science which allowed Zuckerberg to creatively meld technology with social products.

Sadly, creativity is very often linked with disputes over ownership and, whilst he continued to deny their claims, Zuckerberg had to settle with the Winklevoss twins for $65 million.

With its simple design and Zuckerberg's determination never to let it crash, the Facebook became very popular in those early days and in the summer vacation he moved to California, renting a small house in Silicon Valley for himself and some friends and they all hung out and worked on the project and started getting recognition in the media.

Making Money At Facebook

At the start of the next semester, there were over 200,000 users and the Facebook had outgrown its bandwidth again. They were in need of some serious investment so Zuckerberg pitched to local Silicon Valley venture capitalists and won $500k. He set up an office and bought the domain name

In 2005, they had achieved a million users and in 2006, Zuckerberg turned down an offer from Yahoo to sell the network for $1bn. Despite pressure from his friends and colleagues to accept, he declined and, instead, opened Facebook to anyone with an email address, resulting in an additional 50k new users joining every day. 

In 2007 Microsoft offered $15bn and Zuck turned that down as well.

He said it had been harder to turn down the $1bn from Yahoo and lose some of his disappointed team but he continued to grow a dedicated staff with whom to share any profits.

Advertising on Facebook

When the 100 million users mark was reached, he realised that he needed to find a way to make money from the audience he had built. He poached Sheryl Sandberg, a senior advertising executive from Google. She knew Adwords and could show him how to move into this lucrative area.

And so advertising started to appear on Facebook... and the rest, as they say, is history.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Why Advertise Your Business on Facebook?

Research has shown that the average amount of time spent on Facebook is 33 mins, compared to 13 minutes on Google and 20 minutes on YouTube so it's no wonder that entrepreneurs want to tap into the opportunities offered by Facebook for businesses.

Over half of their almost one billion users log in to the platform every day - many starting the day to see what's going on in the world rather than opening the newspaper or listening to the radio because they can also chat with their friends across the globe simultaneously.

This means that many businesses are looking at opportunities to use it as an ecommerce platform - they want to bring their website to Facebook since their customers don't want to leave it.

However, many forget that it is first and foremost a social platform and a business opportunity very much second. 

Using Facebook for Business as a social media marketing strategy

  • You can send visitors to your website or affiliate pages whatever the nature of your business.

  • You can build a list if you have an opt-in form on your Welcome page.

  • Offline marketing - it's great for communication of events. Restaurants and hair salons can let their clients know what's going on with promotions and coupons.

  • Brand awareness - your Page should be consistent with the logos and feel of your website and the same keywords should be targeted to take advantage of the SEO aspects of Facebook.

  • Groups as well as Pages - you can communicate directly with members of a group so many businesses set one up to encourage conversation about related aspects.

  • Grow the following for your blog

But you can only do these things if you can engage with your audience on a more personal level first - you can't just shout at them about your business.

One of the most effective ways of bridging this gap is by using contests and competitions on Facebook.

Facebook Advertising for Business

Sponsored Stories, Promoted Posts and Facebook Ads are the main methods of advertising.

Facebook Ads are easy to create and not as expensive as many people think - and the beauty of them is that they utilise all the information that Facebook has acquired through the engagement and interactions of its users.  It remembers everything you do there and then uses that information to show you the most relevant ads for your lifestyle.

Facebook is a different marketing strategy - friendly and social, not products and product numbers. If you use your status updates to talk about niche topics, you can suggest products later. It's a conversation not a send out of your link to the website/affiliate link.

With Facebook for business use, you should use your Page to build relationships and be a friend not a marketer.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

He Wants To Make A Hole

The trouble with learning from local SEO gurus in the US is that they do not always inhabit the same world as small town UK business owners. 

Our fellow countrymen are far less likely to give up their email address for a free ebook or white paper... or even for the chance of a discount coupon to put towards their next purchase.

It's a case of experimenting and finding out what works in your local neighbourhood, as well as working out which platforms your target market are frequenting.  But the most important thing is to put yourself where your potential customers are hanging out.

A client told me recently that one of her customers had chosen to contact her because 'you and your website were everywhere that I was looking online'.  In the past, marketers used to say that it took seven exposures for a person to be ready to buy and, these days, many of those seven chances to be noticed can be on social media platforms.  But it's more than that.  You have to work out if your customers will be looking for words, pictures, videos, coupons, news... and then make sure that your business has at least something showing there.

Another customers said: "I want to be everywhere like *name of my first customer*"

And, sometimes, you just need to think out of the box.  It's all very well touting your products and services but in most cases, your target market doesn't actually know that that is what they need to solve their problem.  In many cases you have to focus on the question, not the answer.

Remember, the man who is looking on line for a drill doesn't actually want to buy a drill.

He wants to make a hole.

Just saying...

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

SEO Strategy for Local Business Marketing

Building an SEO Strategy for Local Business Marketing is no different from trying to achieve global domination with a larger site.

You have on page SEO Strategy and off page SEO Strategy factors and if you leave some of them out, you're going to lower your chance of ranking.  It's like cooking, if you forget to add some of the ingredients which are part of the recipe, it's not going to be as nice.

SEO Strategy

The whole idea of  an SEO Strategy is that you are helping Google and the other search engines to understand what your site is all about it.  If they have that crucial information, it helps them to rank you better.

Domain Name/URL for Local Business Marketing
But it's also important to stop being a local business marketing expert and think about how the ordinary man in the street thinks.  And the first time you ask yourself that is when you come to choose your URL or domain name.  Should it be keyword rich?

When Google decided that the URL should be important to the algorithm, they weren't thinking relevancy per se.

Big companies that are not thinking like marketers choose their brand as their URL every time and Google says that the common person when naming their domain is most likely going to choose their brand name too - so marketers try to incorporate keywords into the brand name to get the best of both worlds.

However, sometimes it's not possible to get the dot com version of the domain that you want and the experts seem to agree that the next best are dot net and dot org in terms of effectiveness but that adding dashes to a dot com are also permissible.

MetaData for Local Business Marketing
If you use Wordpress to design your sites, there are three SEO plugins which help with completing the metadata for the site itself, as well as the Pages and Posts.  All in One SEO, Platinum SEO and the Yoast Wordpress SEO.

The Title tag is important because it shows up on the broswer bar as an identifier for the site. Just as the title for a magazine or newspaper is important, having your keyword in the title is also key. So if you want to rank for a term, you need to make sure that it is included in the title tag for your website.

Typically, Google displays your title with the keyword first and then the brand on the other side of the pipe bar and this is the best way to optimise your site.

For the description it has been known for companies to rank well with the keyword stuffed into it three times and you can be penalised if it doesn't read well.  Contrary to what some experts might say.  Google does look at the description because they bold the keyword in the title and the description and in the domain name.  Adding your location into your description can help to position your website for local business marketing.

There has been a lot of disagreement over meta keywords but most people agree that, whilst Google may ignore them, Yahoo and Bing do take them into account so it is still worth completing this box.

On Page SEO Strategy

Keywords in content is very important.  The density should be around 2-3% so that would be 8-10 times in a natural way within a 500 word article.  You can also use lsi (latent semantic indexing) or related words.

A great way to establish these is to go to the bottom of the first page of the SERPs for the keyword you are targeting and you will find a list of related searches.  These words can be sprinkled throughout your post to help make your actual keywords more powerful since Google sees that they are all related.

For local business marketing you should add a geo modifer or location to your best keywords and this will allow you to narrow down your niche to focus on those customers who are most likely to buy from your business.

Just as a magazine or newspaper would break up a long block of text to make it easier to read for humans, you can use different sizes of headers called h1, h2 and h3 for the search engines and these titles should include your keywords.

You can also use underline, bold and italics to highlight your keywords and draw the eye of both the reader and the search engine spiders.

Tags and Categories should also be keyword rich.  If you build your content in Wordpress these are both ways of telling Google what the content is about.  Relevant tags and categories give more credibility but they don't necessarily need to be included in the actual content.  They just need to be related and relevant.

Nofollow or Dofollow?
Only a local business marketing strategist would even think about such a question.  Google likes to think about what the common every day person would do and most would not know what nofollow means. Every time you do something sneaky like that, you stand out as  'doing stuff different' to the common person and that's not good

Having said that, some marketers have said that tags should be made nofollow because for some reason Google can rank them very quickly and ignore the actual content.  The ranking for tags does not stay put and so will drop off the front page as quickly as it arrives and the content that you were trying to rank will remain unnoticed.

Images are a huge part of  your local business marketing SEO strategy because GoogleYourKeyword.jpg that will count in your favour since most non-marketers would call their picture that.

Internal Linking
You need to ensure that you have separate pages/posts for each of your main keywords which take into account all the above on page SEO and then you need to link them all to each other in the main body of the text using the relevant keyword as the anchor text.

Google will follow the link from the main keyword to the page about main keyword and when they're looking to index you as a brand new site, the more info and the more proof that your site is about your main keyword, the better off you will be.

On page factors can get you ranking if the keyword is not so competitive but long term you need off page backlinking as well.

Off Page SEO Strategy

External Linking
This is where your website links out to other relevant sites - not competitor sites but articles on Wikipedia or authority 'standards' sites,  University or government sites about the same keyword.

You can put them into the body of your articles or have a blogroll page named resources and link to wiki, government sites, webmd, authority sites.  This shows that your site is trying to provide relevant info and is linking out to other relevant information sites.

Sometimes it just takes Google a while to actually find your site and its content.  A good way to find out if you have been indexed is to google "".

If it shows some results, then  you have been noticed by Google and your pages indexed.  One guru explained that if you have not been indexed then you can use Google's webmaster tools but it is better to show up in a more natural way by typing into google "

Quantcast is a demographics site and if it does not have your domain on its list then it will wonder wonder why you are asking about it and try to find out more.  This means that when Google crawl Quantcast, they will find your domain listed and come to you to crawl the new content.

Another thing that you should ensure is that you have used your Webmaster tools to select whether your site is seen as or  This means that you avoid splitting your backlink juice.

SEO Strategy for Local Business Marketing

The best way to configure your SEO Strategy to help your site get ranked on a Google first page, whether you're engaged in global or local business marketing is to have your main money site right in the centre and then create a series of stand alone sites that you don't own but on which you are allowed to post content that contains backlinks back to your main site using your main keywords as anchor text.

These sites are called 2.0 properties and examples are article directories or microblogs like tumblr, posterous or wordpress.  They are content rich authority sites in their own right and so a backlink from one of these will help your own ranking.  If you post content and create links to your own site from several of these, you are building a link wheel with your site at the hub.

Some people have found that linking the external content rich sites together can add an extra dimension to this SEO Strategy whilst others say that it is better to leave a gap so that the wheel remains open.

Whatever, having a wheel focused on a particular keyword with unique content on each of the linking sites can build up both your authority and your ranking for that keyword.

Acquiring social media approval with Facebook Likes, Retweets and Google +1s all adds to the votes of confidence in your favour in the eyes of the search engines.  Add in syndication by including your posts in RSS feeds and for local business marketing, this is a bit like a provincial radio show being broadcast on a national network.  RSS feeds are the data from your content and these are pushed all over the internet bringing links and traffic back to your site.