User-Generated Content Can Hurt Site Image

User-generated content adds value to a site, but it comes with disadvantages for advertising and marketing as well.

User-generated content adds value to a site, but it comes with disadvantages for advertising and marketing as well.

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The term user-generated content is popular among media sites and closely tied to the hyperlocal concept.

It is helpful to understand that user-generated content is not new or innovative, nor did it originate with Web sites, but it is an important part of any online operation.

Continue reading “User-Generated Content Can Hurt Site Image”

Online Marketing Strategy – 3 Goals, 8 Tactics and 1 Solid Plan

“Online marketing strategy” is a popular phrase that often is used to describe ways of generating large amounts of traffic to a Web site.

In the business world, the words strategy and tactics are often used together and sometimes mixed together so tightly that the meaning of one is almost the same as the other.

Let’s take a shot at what online marketing strategy really means and how it can be used to grow a Web-based business. Continue reading “Online Marketing Strategy – 3 Goals, 8 Tactics and 1 Solid Plan”

SEO Tactics Decline While Online Branding Rises

Many Web sites have been damaged and in some cases have been sold or folded because of the way Google has changed its approach to ranking sites in its search results.

SEO Tactics

Many Web sites have been damaged and in some cases have been sold or folded because of the way Google has changed its approach to ranking sites in its search results.

The impact has altered the way sites approach search engine optimization tactics.

This article is not an analysis of the Google search algorithm and how a site can manipulate results in the world of Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and other Google search initiatives.

Instead, it focuses on one consequence in particular and what to do about it, starting with content quality.

Nofollow Rockets Up

In 2005, Google’s Matt Cutts and other experts proposed the nofollow link as a way of reducing spam on blogs.

Spammers would post comments and articles on various Web sites and include a link back to their own sites as a way of building “backlinks”, providing their site with “link juice” and improving their rankings in search engines.

The link text would contain keywords that would improve the ranking of their sites within Google for those particular keywords.

In other words, a site about “yellow widgets” would post a comment elsewhere about yellow widgets and include a link back to their site with “yellow widgets” in the link.

As a result, their own site would rank higher for “yellow widgets” because search algorithms placed value on those backlinks and associated those keywords with that site.

The nofollow attribute was intended to put a stop to this “unnatural” manipulation practice. A nofollow HTML tag looks like this:

<a href=”http://www.example.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link text</a>

However, implementation was uneven. Recent Google changes have literally forced many major sites to implement nofollow or lose search rankings.

A major SEO tactic has declined as a result.

The Rise of Branding

Google and Bing have made it clear that branding and site quality matter more and more. It’s in their best interest to do so for the simple reason that they want their own search engine visitors to click into a good site and good article.

Their credibility and usefulness rise as a result, their visitors return more often and they make more money from ad revenue.

So it is in a site’s own best interest to focus on quality, which in turns impacts the brand and potential for return visitors who remember it or bookmark it. Google and Bing respond favorably to these efforts if they are done right.

Site content quality includes articles with:

Authoritative content that is in-depth, written well and based on credible and accurate sources of information.

Enhancements that engage the visitor via images, infographics, polls, videos, commenting and other forms of interaction.

On-page optimization via effective document titles, meta descriptions, headlines, image alt tags and keywords.

Site architecture and internal linking that directs visitors toward the best and most important content.

Fast load times because fast sites result in higher pages per visit, lower bounce rates and higher return visits.

Quality sites build brand. Quality and branding increase rankings in search engines. It’s a win-win for the sites and the search engines.

SEO Isn’t Dead Yet

The above description is the on-site perspective of search engine optimization. Clearly, SEO isn’t dead from that perspective.

Where SEO is dying — maybe declining is a better and less dramatic word — is with external tactics.

Backlinks from external sites still matter in the SEO world if they are from links that are dofollow.

They matter even more if those backlinks provide referral traffic. And referral traffic from nofollow links is better than no traffic at all, so in that case nofollow links matter.

But as stated before, nofollow more and more is putting a stop to getting any value out of external backlinks.

Finally, it should be noted that Google apparently does follow the link, but it does not give the landing page any link value or put the page in its search index unless it was already there for other reasons.

Facebook as a Marketing Tool: Branding Versus Response

Facebook logoThe dent in the wall of my office comes from beating my head against it over the use of Facebook for marketing.

Facebook as a marketing tool is not always an easy tactic to judge. Its impact seems to vary widely from one company page to another.

I spent most of my career as an online general manager being required to deliver results for aggressive, high-growth budgets. The end goals were profit, revenue and audience targets.

As a result, I usually judge online marketing tactics in terms of measurable benefits.

Do we get any responses? What is the response rate? What is the return on investment? Does it contribute in any way to profit, revenue or audience? Continue reading “Facebook as a Marketing Tool: Branding Versus Response”

Brand Builders Sacrifice SEO for Sake of Site Visitors

Online BrandSearch engine optimization is the single most important marketing tactic for sites that are pure Web brands and that rely on organic promotion.

But is SEO always the most important tactic for every site and every situation? The answer may be no. For some sites, online brand management is more important.

I have worked on many Web sites going back to the mid-90s that are either pure online brands or extensions of offline brands.

The pure online brands usually get the great majority of their traffic from search engines.

There is no question that they must emphasize SEO techniques to attract the maximum number of visitors, especially if they have little to no money to spend on promotions. Continue reading “Brand Builders Sacrifice SEO for Sake of Site Visitors”

Online Brand Marketing Can Outperform SEO

Online BrandOnline branding is often overlooked as a marketing tactic because search engine optimization is so widely embraced.

It’s true that pure Web brands in particular may get up to 90 percent or more of their total traffic from organic search results.

It’s also true that Web sites with a strong offline brand can get more audience via direct traffic than SEO.

Over many years working with local newspaper Web sites, one fact came up over and over again in analytic reports.

The single most popular keyword that brought visitors to a newspaper Web site was the newspaper’s name — not its Web site name, but the name of the print product. Continue reading “Online Brand Marketing Can Outperform SEO”

Web Site Marketing Plan – An Outline for Success

Plans Can Be Simple or Complex, But Focus is Key

A Web site marketing plan can range from one page to dozens of pages. What matters most is the meat of it and the focus and execution of the most important elements.

What also matters is whether the important site promotion goals are achieved.

The complexity of the plan depends on whether the person executing it is a one-person publisher or the online marketing manager at a large company. The following plan assumes that one person is responsible for the entire marketing program of a single Web site. Continue reading “Web Site Marketing Plan – An Outline for Success”