03 Dec

Social Engagement Optimization

A few years ago SEO used to stand for Search Engine Optimization but today it could easily stand for Social Engagement Optimization.  How you get people to your site has changed.  The search engines are still the number one source of traffic but the sites that could be classed as search engines have changed.

Sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, linkedIn, Pinterst and YouTube are allowing business to do something online that they have been doing offline for years, building connections.  Companies will sometimes try and hire their competitor’s best sales person.  They do this for a couple of reasons one of which is the network of connections the sales person will bring with them to the new organization.  Social Media is the online manifestation of this benefit.

An important part of any strategy that utilizes social media revolves around knowing the audience.  Social Media is about conversations, not broadcasts.  You most likely have a different kind of conversation with your spouse than you do with your employee.  You instinctively know the difference in your audience.   It is for this reason that simply using Facebook or Twitter to have conversations with your audience will not work if it is not executed properly.  Many companies look at something like Twitter as a great way to broadcast their message.  Do these kinds of messages enrich the conversation?

I have found there are five ways to engage your audience with social media:

  1. Enlighten
  2. Entertain
  3. Educate
  4. Equate
  5. Engage

The primary goal when using Social Media should be to create something worth sharing.  Your audience will only share something that they believe has value as defined by them and not you.

21 May

Start With Why

Start With Why is the title of a book written by Simon Sinek.  I recently purchased this book.  I’m 4o pages in and I’m enjoying it so far.  Why did I buy this book?  I watched a video of the author presenting his thesis at a TEDx event.  The video really got me thinking about how I present my services.  I won’t go in to the thesis of the book, that’s what the video is for, but I will say that because of the idea espoused by the author I will be rethinking how I talk about what it is I do.  I’m not sure how these changes will manifest themselves so stay tuned.

From an business perspective my experience is tangible proof that using social media is one way to broaden your reach.  I follow a blog called Presentation Zen.   I saw a link to the Start With Why video on that blog.  I watched the video and bought that book.  I have also signed up on the Start With Why blog to receive communications directly from the author, Simon Sinek.  Ask yourself how can your business use this kind of approach to grow sales.  Just remember to start with why.

03 Sep

Symptomeering, Keyword Selection Process

There are many people that claim to offer SEO services.  Some consultants are better than others.  I actually had a client ask for my help after they had used another SEO consultant.  That consultant built my client a new website that is doing 1/3 the traffic and half as many leads as they were getting from their old, ugly site, that was optimized for the right keywords.

In talking to my client I explained what makes me different is my ability to think like a prospect.  I am not encumbered by the curse of knowledge that my clients seem to have when it comes to their business.  Many of my clients have forgotten what it’s like to not know that their product or service exists.  To deal with this I have use a process called Symptomeering.

Symptomeering (sym-to-meer-ing) is the process of identifying symptom based keywords that your target audience uses to explain the pain they are experiencing.  These symptom based keywords are then aligned with your offering in order to drive actionable traffic to your website.

The process looks like this:

Symptomeering Flow Diagram

Symptomeering Flow Diagram

11 Apr

Social Media Success Stories

Even at this juncture I’m still asked by business managers if social media is helpful.  My answer is always an emphatic yes with one caveat, you get out of it what you put in.  One of the challenges I face is that as a consultant I only have so much control over the process when I’m helping clients.   It’s different when I’m helping myself, I have complete control.   When I have the control I need I can generate success.   Here are two stories from my own experience that highlight how social media can help your business.

Like many people I use a variety of social tools including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  This success story started on Twitter, moved to Facebook and ended on LinkedIn.  It would seem that you need to use more than one tool for maximum effect.   The end result for me was a small contract to help someone merge two domains without losing ranking.  At first I noticed that someone was retweeting some of my posts.   I sent a thank you tweet here and there.  It continued like that for a while then one day I posted a slightly more personal comment about a rock band that I liked.   This generated a response from my follower.  We’d been interacting for a while and we clearly shared the same taste in music so I added this follower to my Facebook account.   Our post, counter-post continued there until I noticed a plea for help.   I offered my assistance and we started working together.   The process of landing the gig was very short as we’d already built up trust and a rapport over social media.   Subsequent to the conclusion of the work the client posted a recommendation on Linked In further reinforcing the value of social media.

The second success story does not have a sales component but it does demonstrate the ability to use social media to establish credibility and domain expertise.   A couple of years ago Garmin decided to launch a service that competed head to head with a small company located in Seattle called Groundspeak.   I already had a blog about geocaching and would post to it from time to time.  One of my readers tipped me off to the impending launch of Garmin’s new site before it was launched.   My site was one of the few that had early knowledge of the launch.   I used Linked In to find a contact at Garmin so that I could verify that they were going to launch the site.  It was confirmed and I started writing more about it and my audience grew.  It was a very hot topic in the geocaching community.   I was posting some of the better information which prompted a call from the PR person at Garmin.  Credibility generates more credibility and I was soon talking with one of the co-founders of Groundspeak.   I wasn’t really looking to sell anything to these companies so there wasn’t a real sales opportunity for me.   I was able to leverage the relationships for some help in a related business endeavour.

These are two short success stories that highlight the tangible benefits of social media.   You will get out of social media what you put in to it.  Remember to be social, interact and share.   That’s what it takes to get the most from social media.

06 Apr

Banner Ad Rotator

banner rotator config screenSometimes when building a website the purpose of the site is to create advertising space that you can sell.  For this you need a banner ad rotator solution for your site.   Like most things for WordPress their is a plugin for that from the great folks at Tribulant.   The folks at Tribulant take a very SEO friendly approach to their product names.  This plug in is called WordPress Banner Rotator Plugin.

I have used other products for this purpose in the past.   I really like Tribulant’s version for the easy to use configuration interface.    As WordPress plugin the Banner Rotator takes advantage of short codes for both the ad itself as well as the ad size.   This allows you to place a skyscraper short code on your page and then have all skyscraper ads show up there.   You might use this on category pages as an example.   This is definitely a hand feature.

Something about this plugin you might like is the ability to use text or html in the ad.  With this feature you can create a portion of your page that will change on every load.   This is a great way to change content on your site.

If you are thinking of placing banners on your site then I’d highly recommend this plugin from Tribulant.