Archive for November, 2010

Sales Strategy, Training, and Expert Tips: Carpenter & Associates

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Recently, we wrapped a project for Carpenter & Associates, Sales Strategy Extraordinaires. Scott Carpenter and his team are experts in a number of subjects, including:

We worked with Carpenter & Associates from web design and development on WordPress to blogging to SEO. Scott and his team are creating great content on their blog, where you’ll be sure to get great sales insights like how to get new salespeople on board and ramp up their performance and the best way to grow your sales.

Scott, the president of Carpenter & Associates, will be starting some information packed sales webinars come January 2011, so be sure to keep checking for more information. And don’t forget to connect with Scott on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

If you need help with your sales team, contact Carpenter & Associates today. If you need help increasing your online visibility, give flyte a call.

Nicki Hicks
Maine SEO

LinkedIn ads vs. Facebook ads: A clear winner?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Pay per click has spread to social media; both LinkedIn and Facebook have advertising opportunities, and Twitter isn’t far behind. Both Facebook and LinkedIn offer opportunity for better visibility, but what if you could only choose one?

There have been quite a few blogposts and case studies done between Facebook ads and LinkedIn ads, so I’m not going to include all of screenshots here. The important thing? They all say the same thing.

The settings

Facebook ads offer far more demographic driven targeting, while LinkedIn – just as you’d expect – has more business driven options. What does that mean exactly?

On Facebook, you get to choose:

  • Geographic location (Everywhere, State or Province, City)
  • Demographics (Gender, Age)
  • “Likes”, Interests
  • Advanced Demographics (Birthday, Interested in, Relationship status, language)
  • Education and work
  • Connections on Facebook (pages or friends)

While on LinkedIn, your options are:

  • Company size
  • Job Function
  • Industry
  • Seniority
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Geographic location

Oh and by the way, you can only choose 3 of these categories in LI.

The ads themselves

You’ve probably seen Facebook ads – they show up on the right hand side of Facebook on most pages.

LinkedIn ads however, well I challenge you to find them. On the homepage, LinkedIn displays ads, sure, but you’ll pay a pretty penny to have a banner ad show up. You’ll find ads by LI members at the very bottom of the homepage. They’re scattered about on LinkedIn, getting better real estate the deeper you go on the website.

Otherwise, they’re relatively the same – both offer a headline, copy, and an image.

Show me the money

LinkedIn is significantly more expensive. This case study – that compared two similar ads – showed a whopping difference of $2.94 per click!

Facebook, however, has had historically low bid rates – rarely over $1.00.

The metrics

Neither Facebook nor LinkedIn have a great ad metrics system.

Facebook ad metrics include:

  • Clicks
  • Impressions
  • Click thru rate
  • Average Cost per Click (CPC)
  • Average Cost per Thousand Impressions (CPM)
  • Plus:
    • Demographics who click on your ad
    • Interests of those who click on your ad
    • Conversions by time and impression

LinkedIn gives you a even less:

  • Clicks
  • Impressions
  • Click thru rate
  • Average cost per click

A clear winner?

Targeting and money-wise, I think Facebook is the clear winner (and all case studies agree). However, both camps still have a long way to go to create better metrics.

What about you…do you prefer LinkedIn or Facebook ads?

Photo credit: pareeerica

Nicki Hicks
Facebook, for the win!

The Ultimate Link Mashup to Writing a Stellar Blogpost

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Rich and I have done quite a few posts about blogging over the years, both on the Maine SEO blog and on the flyte blog. With so many scattered tips across the Interwebs, I thought why not put them all in one place? Well, here you go: everything you’ve ever wanted to know about writing a blogpost.

Pre-blogging

  1. Make sure you own your domain. AKA stay away from Blogspot.
  2. Start by managing your time wisely. Carve out special time every week or even every day to write. Often, you’ll find if you don’t you’ll never have time to blog. Still don’t have the time? Oh yes, you do.
  3. Understand that bearing it all [in a blogpost] is OK. If you’re not sharing industry secrets, your competitors are. In other words, nearly anything should be an option for your blogpost.
  4. Will you be writing for your own blog or would you like to try to guest blog on someone else’s? If the latter (because you know guest blogging will change your life), then make sure you use Alltop to find the best guest blogging opportunities.
  5. When you start brainstorming ideas, consider ditching your typical blogpost topics for a related niche.

Start writing

  1. Use whatever works for you, but if you’re getting writer’s block, try some of these options:
    1. Get inspired to write
    2. Hit some pain points
    3. More ideas for different types of posts
    4. Use WordTracker Labs’ Keyword Questions to get inspired
  2. Make sure your blogpost is as optimized and search engine friendly as possible.

Post blogging

  1. Offer your readers a handy dandy RSS feed and email subscription.
  2. Are you leveraging your network after you press publish? Try this few easy steps every time you do a new blogpost. Better yet, here are 25 ways to promote and market your blog.
  3. Then, leverage your post for more backlinks.
  4. Use Google Analytics. Are your blogposts getting you the “right” kind of traffic?
  5. Moderate your spam. Don’t know what spam looks like? Here are the three types of comments and which are spam.
  6. Decide whether you want to allow pingbacks and trackbacks. The big question is: are they adding value? (Learn more about pingbacks and trackbacks here.)
  7. Understand your writing will grow and change as you do. It’s all about learning as you blog.
  8. Attract even more traffic to your blog.

Photo credit: adikos

Nicki Hicks
Rinse and Repeat

The Differences Between Yelp and Foursquare (and Why Yelp Will Outshine Foursquare)

Monday, November 8th, 2010

In early October, Cybele Brooks and I attended SMX East, a search geek conference which, this year, had a lot to say about the location-based app and review driven site, Yelp. In fact, the other Brooks here at flyte, my boss Rich Brooks, took some time to interview me last week on just that:

The difference between Yelp and Foursquare

What you get with both Yelp and Foursquare

  • Location-based check-in’s
  • Badges
  • Friends
  • Add a new business or location
  • Hierarchy (Duke/Duchess on Yelp, Mayor on Foursquare)

What Yelp has that Foursquare doesn’t

  • Quick tips
  • Reviews
  • Reviews that will be pulled into Google Maps, and other local directories
  • Add information about a business (that isn’t necessarily yours)
  • Add photos for a business (that isn’t necessarily yours)

The choice is yours

Go out there and sign up for both services and see what you think. Do you prefer the value of having customer reviews and tips? Or do you want to just let people know where you are?

Nicki Hicks
Now that’s a cute face!

Managing SEO’s Reputation: Should it fall on the client?

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

There has always been a lot of conversation around SEO’s reputation and how to improve it.

Earlier today, I read a post by Lisa Barone called 5 Ways to Fix SEO’s Reputation Problem. It all started with a discussion on Sphinn yesterday around the SEO industry’s (often) negative reputation.

I think the reality is when there’s a community as social, interactive, and user generated as the SEM community is, there are always going to be people trying to take advantage of the system. One of the best and worst things about SEO is the fact that anyone is allowed to participate and therefore, anyone can call themselves an SEO.

Sure, there are ways we can fight back against the SEO reputation issues; but the truth is that if people continue to buy unethical, unmoral, and illogical services from SEO firms, those firms will continue to exist. So…it all comes back to the client.

5 Things to Check Before Hiring an SEO firm

A lot of companies have had really bad experiences with SEO consultants…and it’s no wonder! The poor clients walked right into their spidery webs! Even Google has suggestions for how to pick a great SEO consultant.

It comes down to doing your homework.

  1. Is the firm adding to the community?

    …and more than just self-promotion? Do they have a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook fan page? Are they actively adding resources and information to the Interwebs?

    This certainly isn’t an all or nothing question, but strike 1 for the guys not being resourceful.

  2. Does it seem too good to be true?

    “I can get you to the first page of Google in one week.”

    Yeah, sure, so can I…for a search term that no one’s competing for and more importantly no one’s searching for. If someone’s getting you excited with seemingly impossible promises, remember they’re really just empty promises.

  3. Do they practice what they preach?

    Did you do a Google search to find the firm? Were they in the first 3 results for your search term? The first page?

  4. Check their reputation

    Start with Google and search for “[name of firm] reviews”. Then ask for references and follow up with them.

  5. Connections to a developer

    You may not have thought of this one. Every good SEO should either be a developer, have a great developer in house, or know a good developer. If your site’s already up and running, you should assume you’ll have to make changes to it based on the SEO’s suggestions. You might already have someone in house, but if not, make sure the firm has someone to suggest.

What about you? What are your recommendations to improve SEO’s reputation? Or to help clients get educated about the firms they use?

Nicki Hicks
Here’s to educated clients

Information Architecture: Navigation Best Practices for Big Site SEO (Webinar from SEOmoz with Rand Fishkin)

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

This is a recap from a webinar SEOmoz did a while back, with Rand Fishkin. Follow Rand on Twitter here.

Goals of successful information Architecture

  • Semantically logical structure (Zoo animals –> African Savannah –> Lions) – If your site architecture is logical, your users will spend more time on site, find what they want easier, and convert more often.
  • Minimize click depth (not JUST for search engines!) – so that users and search engines can reach any point on the site in a minimum number of site. Usability and SEO best practices are nearly identical.
  • Maximize usability of navigation

Tips for Semantically Useful Navigation

  • Initially design without keyword research – so that you aren’t bias in the way you organize by the keywords you discover. Rand suggests first organizing your content the way it makes sense to you and then incorporate the keywords that make sense for search engines, where they make sense.
  • Add  in keyword research based modifications to your draft IA
  • Validate architecture/path with non-SEOs – make sure that your navigation still makes sense to non-SEOs and non-web users

Tips for Minimal Click-Depth

  • Imitate the ideal navigation pyramid – in the first example, you’ll see you can get to 1 million pages with three clicks; in the second, you can only reach 150,000 pages with three clicks.

  • Broad linking at top levels – at the top level, link to very broad categories; link to popular subcategories from the homepage. Rand uses Metacritic as an example.
  • Editorial categorization > user-defined (hack: multi-level HTML sitemap – like this page at Rotten Tomatoes)

Tips for Usable Navigation

  • Obvious navigation elements (like with MailChimp)
  • Naming Conventions that Make Intent (not like Media Temple) – don’t use language no one outside your company won’t understand
  • User & usability testing (using something like Silverback 2.0)

Avoiding Common “Big Site” Problems

  • Duplicate content issues:
    • Rel Canonical tags (although sometimes it isn’t perfect) – you’ll lose a tiny bit of PR, but you’ll save yourself before bad things happen. Rand always suggests using the rel canonical for the absolute URL of pages for your article/blog/products section(s).
  • Google Webmaster Tools – use to ignore duplicate content
  • SEOmoz web app

Scraping and Re-Publishing

  • Scrappers (good or bad) that take content can be shown instead of original content.
  • Employ absolute URLs (as in <a href=”http://www.seomoz.org/blog”> anchor </a>) not relative (<a href=”…blog”> anchor </a>)
  • Don’t go overboard with bot blocking

Incomplete Indexation

  • Don’t look at the site: command and compare it day to day. (Read this post by Rand.) Use track referrals instead.
  • Check page “types” that don’t receive traffic (see this post by Rand)
  • XML sitemaps – helps search engines crawl large websites
  • Content syndication (use the allintitle: command)
  • RSS feeds
  • Twitter for indexation

“Search Results” in the SERPs

  • Create category “landing” pages
  • Remove obvious traces of “search” on landing pages

Faceted navigation

  • Rel canonical can help
  • Use AJAX to reload pages
  • Watch out for Google crawling Javascript
  • Offer facets only to loggin-in/cookie users

Q&A

Sorry couldn’t stick around for the whole webinar, but here are two juicy tips:

Google Image search – less a new algorithm than a new interface. Text around image seems to be doing better than alt text.

Want a copy of Rand’s Firefox bookmarks? Here they are!



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