7 SEM Trends for 2011

8 02 2011

After spending the last month reading list after list making SEM predictions for 2011 I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring.  When you truly look at predicting anything, the best case scenario is you’re right and the worst case scenario, well at least you made an effort.  So, without further ado, here are my top 7 SEM predictions for 2011:

1.  Above the Fold Content Becomes Less Crucial

One of the biggest things to take away from the infographic craze is that users are willing to scroll if you have engaging content.  Virtually every mouse has a scroll feature; create amazing content so I want to use it.



2.  HTML5 and CSS3 Will Begin to Go Mainstream

The general population is afraid of change.  Most tech people are early adopters and embrace change.  Now we just need the people building sites for clients that are still using IE6 to let them do it the right way.  Listen to Smashing and start using HTML 5 and CSS3 today.

3.  The Death of Foursquare: As big players integrate location-based services better, the smaller pioneers will fade.

Let me start by saying I’ve never been into letting people know where I’m at so they can go to my house and kidnap my dog while I’m out drinking.  Therefore, I may not be the authority on any this issue.  However, I do hate having to juggle four different apps in order to let everyone know what I’m having for dinner, where I’m having it, that I just became the Mayor and that I checked in to save 20% on appetizers.

4.  Google’s Disdain for RSS Will Continue to Grow

With rumors already swirling about Google moving resources away from Google Reader, it’s likely that support for RSS will fade overall.  Personally, I used to be into RSS as it’s an excellent way to keep abreast to the latest news and industry blogs, however that all went away when Twitter became my professional social vehicle and Facebook became my personal social vehicle.  Using Twitter and using it right helps to filter out all the fluff and only read content that is valued by people who know more than I do.

5.   Blekko Will Become an Important FREE Tool for SEO Professionals

Blekko has already made efforts to supply SEO data to users.  I think the next step in the process is to allow the data to be exported and manipulated.  Stay Tuned…

6.  Local Search Will Drive More Customers to Brick & Mortar Stores

Yelp reported that in December of 2010 35% of all searches on Yelp.com came from a mobile app. Please take into account that this number doesn’t even include the people who go directly to the site through their mobile browser instead of using the app.  People are searching locally and on the go because they want to spend locally.  Looking at Google’s shift towards local content only reinforces the fact.

7.  Customer Reviews Will Take Center Stage

One of the biggest obstacles working with companies that are just now jumping on the local bandwagon is that it’s difficult to get an influx of reviews.  As local businesses begin to optimize for local search, expect to be asked to review a business more and more as you’re walking out the door with your lunch.

In the end, there were a million different predictions I could have thrown out there. Check back next year and we’ll see how I did.

 

What are your thoughts/predictions for 2011 and beyond?

Advertisements




Add Visual Context with Google’s New In-Page Analytics View

15 10 2010

Google has just released a new feature in beta that provides better visual context to your site’s analytics – appropriately named In-Page Analytics.  With this new features, you will be able to see a bubble over every link on your site.  Each bubble shows the percentage of clicks that each link receives when visitors view any given page, but hover your cursor over each bubble and you’ll get even more statistics.

In-Page Analytics View

This type of visual context within Google Analytics is nothing new but the previous product, Site Overlay, was limited in its capabilities.  Now, webmaster have a much easier way to see how users are navigating about the site.  It can be a great way to find under-performing links and test new strategies to generate more attention there, like a new call-to-action for example.   Google is hoping to expand In-Page Analytics in the future and continue to make Analytics a powerful platform for any website owner.  In-Page Analytics can be accessed from the Content section of your account and Google offers a great walk through video on its official blog.





Social Media and the Masses

28 07 2009

Facebook.  Twitter.  MySpace.  Today is the “golden age,” the renaissance, the awakening, of social media sites.  From Facebook to Twitter, not only is the user population exploding, but businesses of all sizes from the “David” (small) to the “Goliath” (large) are seizing the opportunity to reel in the masses and promote themselves.

One of the largest social media sites on the scene, Facebook, currently has over 250 million active users, with 120 million of them logging on at least once per day.  These numbers are gargantuan compared to the early 2000’s, or the “dark ages” when I myself joined the elite Facebook clique.  A select few of my former high school buddies had the special privilege to be part of this newfound type of social media.  Since then the small town group has expanded into an extremely large community where now thousands of my tiny Texas high school comrades are members. It is only coincidental that the fast growing demographic of new Facebook users is the over 35 crowd.  And that is just one example on how the dark ages of social media experienced an awakening of sorts and transformed itself from one little weed in your lawn, to your lawn being all weeds.

Looking back 1 to 2 years, I didn’t even know what a “tweet” was.  Fast forward to today and Twitter is the new rage of social media, and businesses from small to large, are spreading their wings on Twitter by storm.  Why you might ask?  752% is why.  That is the amount of growth that Twitter has experienced in the last year.  Twitter allows a business to not only communicate effectively with its customer base through tweets, but also allows sales, specials, and promotions to be advertised.  Think of it as the free version of non-traditional advertising.  Particularly the struggling airlines (lower your fares!) and local businesses have established their little places of happiness on Twitter, targeting leisure travelers and the local foodie crowd.

Communicating with your constituency is an advantage that conglomerates on Twitter have.  Particularly, both United Airlines and Alaska Airlines frequently advertise fare specials and communicate with their fliers through Twitter.  United has “TWARES,” fares available only to their 18,000 loyal followers, most recently advertising a cheap fare between the Gateway City and the lovely Windy City.  Alaska Airlines most recently advertised a fare sale between Portland and Southern Alaska, which I wish was still going on, as the heat is unbearable in Portland this week.  Keep your reputation and feelings towards your business above the clouds by communicating directly with your customer base, which in this day and economy is more important than just selling products.

Local businesses in Portland have carved their space onto Twitter as well.  Burgerville, a restaurant chain in Washington and Oregon, that has the best onion rings ever, recently used Twitter to promote its new mobile cart the “Nomad.”  The location of the “Nomad” was publicized via Twitter to the masses, generating large interest in the Burgerville brand.  Fortunately the “Nomad” parked itself only a few blocks away from our local Formic offices here in Portland.  We all enjoyed fries, burgers, and Oregon raspberry lemonade, which are not usually readily available for our lunchtime cravings.

What’s the moral of the story?   The answer is that any business, from a small mom and pop shop to a multi-billion dollar worldwide corporation, can benefit from the use of social media sites.  Use it to reach out to your local consumer base to advertise specials for free without selling your soul to traditional forms of print and television advertising.  Make yourself known! Crush your competitors (not literally) and take the upper hand in these tough economic times by reaching out to your constituents!

If you’re interested in cost effective online marketing and overtaking your competitors by setting up a social media campaign, our team has a plan for you.

Facebook. Twitter. MySpace. Today is the “golden age,” the renaissance, the awakening, of social media sites. From Facebook to Twitter, not only is the user population exploding, but businesses of all sizes from the “David” (small) to the “Goliath” (large) are seizing the opportunity to reel in the masses and promote themselves.

One of the largest social media sites on the scene, Facebook, currently has over 250 million active users, with 120 million of them logging on at least once per day. These numbers are gargantuan compared to the early 2000’s, or the “dark ages” when I myself joined the elite Facebook clique. A select few of my former high school buddies had the special privilege to be part of this newfound type of social media. Since then the small town group has expanded into a extremely large community where now thousands of my tiny Texas high school comrades are members. It is only coincidental that the fast growing demographic of new Facebook users is the over 35 crowd. And that is just one example on how the dark ages of social media experienced an awakening of sorts and transformed itself from one little weed in your lawn, to your lawn being all weeds.

Looking back 1 to 2 years, and I didn’t even know what a “tweet” was. Fast forward to today and Twitter is the new rage of social media, and businesses from small to large, are spreading their wings on Twitter by storm. Why you might ask? 752% is why. That is the amount of growth that Twitter has experienced in the last year. Twitter allows a business to not only communicate effectively with its customer base through tweets, but also allows sales, specials and promotions to be advertised. Think of it as the free version of non-traditional advertising. Particularly the struggling airlines (lower your fares!) and local businesses have established their little places of happiness on Twitter, targeting leisure travelers and the local foodie crowd.

Communicating with your constituency is an advantage that conglomerates on Twitter have. You’re your reputation and feelings above the clouds by communicating directly with your customer base, which in this day and economy is more important than just selling products. Particularly, both United Airlines and Alaska Airlines frequently advertise fare specials and communicate with their fliers through Twitter. United has “TWARES,” fares available only to their 18,000 loyal followers, most recently advertising a cheap fare between the Gateway City and the lovely Windy City. Alaska Airlines most recently advertised a fare sale between Portland and Southern Alaska, which I wish was still going on, as the heat is unbearable in Portland this week.

Local businesses in Portland have carved their space onto Twitter as well. Burgerville, a restaurant chain in Washington and Oregon, that has the best onion rings ever, recently used Twitter to promote its new mobile cart the “Nomad.” The location of the “Nomad” was publicized via Twitter to the masses not generating large interest in the Burgerville brand. Fortunately the “Nomad” parked itself only a few blocks away from our local Formic offices here in Portland. We all enjoyed fries, burgers, and Oregon raspberry lemonade, which are not usually readily available for our lunchtime cravings.

What’s the moral of the story? The answer is that any business, from a small mom and pop shop to a multi-billion dollar worldwide corporation can benefit from the use of social media sites. Use it to reach out to your local consumer base to advertise specials for free without selling your soul to traditional forms of print and television advertising. Make yourself known! Crush your competitors (not literally) and take the upper hand in these tough economic times by reaching out to your constituents!

If you’re interested in cost effective online marketing and overtaking your competitors by setting up a social media campaign, our team has a plan for you.





Sports and Search Engine Marketing

24 07 2009

Let’s face the facts, I LOVE sports.  I’ve been playfully teased in the past about my obsession for sports and certain sports teams.  You are probably wondering, “How does this relate to Search Engine Marketing?”  In fact, thank you for asking.  Both Bing and Yahoo have created sports shortcuts for search queries.  Bing was the lead-off hitter, creating an “Instant Answers” feature that has been increasingly expanded.  Type in the name of a team or player and you will get Instant Answers on all of their current stats.  Yahoo countered by quickly rolling out “search shortcuts for sports”.  Let’s take a closer look at these two search engines and their affinity for sports.

Bing Instant Answers

The Portland Trail Blazers are playing in game 5 of the playoffs and you do not have access to your television.  Don’t stress, Bing.com has your back!  You can get an instant update about what is going on in the game via Bing.com.  Perhaps you are not away from your television, but you are curious how the Cavs versus Magic NBA playoffs game is going and the stats for a particular player.  Simply type in that player’s name into Bing.com and get Instant Answers stats.  Let’s say that Lebron James recorded a triple double, and you found that out by typing in his last name into Bing.com – amazing!  This is a great feature for sports junkies, including myself, who want to check the box score of a game or see a particular player’s stats on the fly.

Yahoo Search Shortcuts for Sports

It can be hectic at times to follow your favorite sports team(s); therefore Yahoo quickly launched a tool similar to Bing’s that is a “new sports team shortcut.”  When a user searches for a favorite major league or college sports team or player on Yahoo Search, a short cut appears with real, live data that includes the live score, the previous game’s score and the date and time of the next game.  A user will also find quick links to the team or player’s page, as well as stats, photos and schedules.  The sports team shortcut covers the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAAF and NCAAB.

With all of this sports talk, I’d like to end this discussion with a list of my top 10 favorite sports websites (in no particular order).





A Small Business Can Do More, With Less

13 04 2009

“Ringing the cash register” or bringing in new clients is undoubtedly what makes or breaks the bottom line for any business and particularly those of small to medium-sized businesses.    However, getting your target audience to become aware of your product or business offering takes quality marketing, which costs big dollars. But here’s the catch.  If you are a small to medium sized company without an in-house marketing department and a small expendable income to dedicate to marketing your business, how do you stretch a limited budget and get the most out of each dollar?

The answer is simple, move your advertising dollars online.  In this case, less really is more.  Below, take look at the top roadblocks that small business owners report they are facing today, according to a poll of US marketers by Bredin Business Information.

new-picture-21

Many of these challenges would be scalable for a larger business, backed with millions of dollars in funding and the ability to utilize all advertising mediums from direct mail to TV ads.  However, over 90% of all businesses in the United States are small to mid-sized companies with much smaller budgets.  By using online marketing tactics, small businesses (SMBs) can still achieve influential results and send a powerful message to their target audience, without emptying out their pocket books.  Online marketing strategies are highly measurable and designed to target customers even more effectively, so that advertising dollars are spent more wisely.

In 2009, the switch to online marketing efforts is already on the rise and trending significantly upwards.

new-picture-31

Headquartered in Portland, OR, Formic Media, Inc. was designed specifically for the +90% of businesses in America today – your small to mid-sized business.  Formic Media offers customized Search Engine Optimization, Social Media and Pay-Per-Click advertising packages designed to get your business better results for much less.





3 Essential Elements to a Successful Social Media Marketing Campaign

25 03 2009

Having spent the last year presenting the topic of social media marketing to a variety of small business owners and trade associations, I’ve had the opportunity to see how various individuals, companies and industries respond to the concept. Unfortunately, the most common reaction to many of the ideas covered in my presentations (i.e. concepts like Twitter and LinkedIn profile optimization), is a blank stare.

As such, I decided it was time to develop a methodology for explaining and implementing a social media marketing campaign that even my grandmother could understand. After a little brainstorming and a few discussions with the team, I developed the “2MCE” process, which is a simple but effective way to understand and leverage the value of social media marketing, as outlined below.

Monitor & Measure
The first step in the 2MCE process is to Monitor & Measure. As with any marketing or communications strategy, it is always best to get a feel for your audience and the tools before you developing an overall campaign strategy. For starters, create Google Alerts for your branded terms, so you can be notified the moment something on the Internet related to your business is published. You can also use search engines to conduct real-time research (i.e. Google, BlogPulse and Technorati). More advanced marketers may opt to customize Yahoo! Pipes RSS feeds or pay for social media monitoring services (i.e. BuzzMetrics, Cymphony, Radian6). The bottom line is that you need to build your overall strategies based on where your customers live online, and agree on a set of metrics and benchmarks to measure volume and sentiment of conversations over time.

Create & Communicate
Once you’ve developed an overall social media strategy and set up monitoring and measurement (aka Web analytics), it’s time to reach out. When creating content for social media profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, etc.) try to ensure the content is timely, relevant, unique and valuable. Once the content is published, make sure that it is properly optimized, syndicated and promoted to your target audiences within those communities and beyond. When creating a Fan Page on Facebook, be sure to utilize FBML and the API to create interesting custom applications that get shared virally. On LinkedIn, create and manage a Group. On Google and Yahoo!, create gadgets and widgets respectively. Tools like HootSuite improve profile management for Twitter, while Hellotxt helps syndicate profile “updates” across multiple profiles (including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook). If you’ve created a blog, make sure to promote posts (via search engine optimization, tagging and RSS syndication).

Engage & Empower
Last but most importantly, now that you have a foundation including monitoring, measurement, optimized profiles and valuable content, it’s time to engage with your constituents and empower them to become evangelists for your brand. One of the most powerful forms of generating awareness and credibility within your industry is to engage in knowledge expert communities like LinkedIn Q&A and Yahoo! Answers. Similarly, participating actively in related online communities and threaded forums can create a level of connectivity with customers and prospects ad dollars can’t buy. Furthermore, Twitter and blogs can be more than one-way communications vehicles. By monitoring the blogosphere and Twittersphere for relevant conversations, you can comment, reply and generally engage your audience on their terms, and bring them back to your site or profiles to continue the conversation and nurture the relationship.

By following the 2MCE processes, you can ensure your social media marketing efforts are focused and relevant. Don’t get distracted by specific tools, platforms or technology. Focus on the fundamentals and look forward to improving your bottom line. Of course Formic Media, Inc., a search engine and social media marketing (SEM) agency is here to help develop, implement and manage your social media marketing strategy.





Formic Media’s 5 Tips for Hiring

24 03 2009

Many HR Firms will give you advice on how to hire.  You’ve “Googled” and probably picked the best questions or suggestions out of the top “five things to know about hiring” and went about your merry way interviewing candidates.  Did it work?  Did you get the very best candidate?  Or perhaps it might not have worked out.  Was it unclear expectations?  Not enough information obtained from the interviews?  Were you unable to compare between the final candidates and make a good decision?

Formic is in the process of looking to add another person to our tight knit group.  Obviously each of us on the “hiring committee” has our own preferences and wishes for our new team member.  We thought it would be interesting to share our process, and the types of candidates we have encountered throughout our hiring process.   As the unemployment rate for Oregon reaches 11%, the candidate pool has increased, and there are so many talented candidates out there.  How do we sort through the tremendous amount of response to find that “perfect Formic employee”?

For this task, Formic has developed our own “top five things for the interview process“.  These are pretty common sense rules to work by, and have evolved over many years and candidates interviewed.

1. Telephone Interviews or Email Questions.

Have a few basic questions ready, this will help you discover from your candidate pool who you want to bring in for the real deal.  In this current job market, the pool is big.  Formic had over 300 replies to job postings, and from that point there was serious vetting to be done.  Telephone interviews helped us determine who was closest to our “prospective candidate” profile.  This saves you TIME since there is no set time to the phone interview.  It can be as long, or as short as you deem necessary.

2. Have a set of questions ready for the interview (phone or meeting).

This allows you to develop a quantifiable list to compare candidates to each other based on the day to day activities of the job, and of what potentially these people will encounter duty wise, and the skills that they will need to have to be successful.  How did we reconcile our own ideas and opinions into a group decision and process?  We started out by writing our own interview questions and then submitting them to the Formic group.  Just that simple process actually helped our own team by learning more about each other, and making us a more tightly bound group.  In hindsight, it really was a good team building task!  Another suggestion – throw in a bonus question, something that will surprise them and also give you a good indicator of their personality.  Don’t just make it about the job, their skills and what they can do for you.  Find out who they are.

3. A clear job description, and the skill set required to master the job.

This is a pretty obvious one, but one that small business owners tend to miss.  If you aren’t clear on the job, how can you even communicate that and expect your candidates to be able to respond.  If you say “bookkeeper”, that isn’t as cut and dried as you might think.  Also, if you have expectations and job duties ready to go, and this person fails – you have a clear outline of expectations with no ambiguities to the job.  Attached to this job description should be the range of salary, or hourly rate you are willing to pay.

4. Have more than one person interviewing prospective candidates.

Have more than one person interviewing the candidate serves a couple of purposes.  One, interviewing is highly subjective and based on a good deal of soft information. So, whenever possible, have at least one other person carefully interview the final candidates for a position. Two, you may be surprised with a fresh perspective.

5. Second Interviews.

You should always conduct a minimum of two interviews.   This can give you a fresh perspective of a candidate; they could relax and open up more, interview even better, or possibly worse.  Questions asked in the first interview could be answered differently.  It’s another opportunity to see the candidate in a new light.

Hopefully some of our experiences can help you in your own interviewing process.  We’d also like to hear what works for you.  What hasn’t?  Because of the current job market conditions and the increased candidate pool, you are going to have to be even more careful to hire the most talented and qualified candidate, not just the most talented job seeker.








%d bloggers like this: