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Slow and Steady Always Wins the Race

“Why can’t I just buy one of these link building programs?”

“Won’t this go faster is I just buy links?”

“Why is this taking so long?”

As someone who hears these questions regularly, it is always important to explain why it makes sense to follow the path of the SEO straight and narrow. Well, here is a perfect example why.

The New York Times recently did an article on an SEO investigation of JC Penny and their organic search placement. Guess what they found? Link farms! Apparently these weren’t even cleverly hidden link farms, but blatantly obvious black hat SEO techniques.

When I was a young girl my mother used to tell me to think of the following before I did something: “when Mom finds out what I did, and she will find out, will it be worth the punishment?” While I hated hearing this as a child and teenager, it actually makes sense when it comes to your SEO plan.

Any improvements that may result from black hat techniques will be short lived. Now, if you are planning to go in, make some fast money from an SEO client and get out, well then, your mission will probably be accomplished. However, if you have any scruples or business ethics at all, you will explain to your client that when it comes to SEO, slow and steady ALWAYS wins the race.

Super Social Media

If someone or a company was still unsure of the power of social media, yesterday’s Super Bowl should have convinced them.

It started when Christina Aguilera flubbed a line in the National Anthem. Twitter immediately went ablaze about it, pushing it to the top of the Trending List. It continued throughout the game on both Twitter and Facebook reviewing every commercial and every play during the game, and even the half-time show.

So why should someone care? This information is gold for those in the market research field. It is better than working with a small focus group because it is a huge cross-section of people.

So if a company has been unsure if social media is a worthwhile venture, I would say it definitely is!

Social Media Stupidity

We have all watched the events that are unfolding in Egypt with a wide variety of emotions. Sadness, frustration, anger…the list goes on and on. Kenneth Cole looked at it a different way – with a mix of PR and sarcasm…and stupidity.

Kenneth Cole Tweet

Kenneth Cole Tweet

Now, in full disclosure, I have always liked the Kenneth Cole brand. Also, I am far from the “P.C. police.” However, there are certain things you just don’t make light of; the 9-11 terror attacks, slavery and the holocaust, to name a few. What is going on in Egypt should be added to that list.

Social media has played a large part in the uprising in Egypt. It has been one of the primary ways to get two-way information. Additionally, many companies use Twitter to promote their brands. The combination of the two here? I have to disagree. It was definitely in poor taste.

Now some may say that he was crazy like a fox. That there is no such thing as bad PR. Not sure if I really agree. I think this is a perfect example of how social media can backfire. Ultimately, I believe this will hurt his brand.

In another example of how social media is reshaping relationships, a recently released study by Harris Interactive found users enjoy more positive experiences than negative experiences.

For example, the study found that two in five Americans say that they have received a good suggestion for something to try as a result of their use of social media (40%), 15% say they have made a connection regarding a job opportunity, and one in ten say they have found a new apartment or house through their social media use (9%). A total of 2,331 adults surveyed online between December 6 and 13, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

On the other side of the coin, a number of study participants reported they were offended by posts, comments or photos from “friends.” Many believe, however, those issues can be quelled through better privacy settings.

Ultimately, just like with any shiny and new toy, social media will continue to have some growing pains. At the same time, it seems that the positives of social media outweighs the negatives. Everyone has to decide individually how social media will work best for each individual.

While many of us use social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, for fun, it has developed into a important information track when there is an uprising, like the current issues going on in Egypt.

Just like in Iran last year, the youth of Egypt has taken to the streets in protest of their President and demands for a more free life. They are using sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to get their message out and stay in contact with family members.

Unfortunately, just like in Iran, the Internet and cell phone systems were quickly shut down in an effort to create a media blackout. This ultimately has made the situation worse. Despite calls from the United States to allow access to the Internet, social media sites and cell phones, overall access is still minimal, at best.

The past situation in Iran and the current situation in Egypt shows exactly how powerful social media has become. It has gone well beyond a source of fun or getting back in touch with old friends. It is now a source for hard news and ways to stay in touch with people and media outlets from around the world. In fact, social media has been the source for many news agencies as they attempt to cover this difficult situation. It shows exactly how much the Internet has changed our lives and has been a catalyst for social justice.

Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten is a specialist in SEO, social media, blogging and content development.

Top Five SEO Tips

When a company first begins to think about SEO, it can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips when starting an SEO plan.

Keywords are Key: From content to blogging to link building, keywords are key! Really think about the service or product your company can provide when building your keyword list. Start out focused on 10 or so keywords and phrases and build from there.

Build a Brand: Go beyond just online marketing or SEO and think about your brand. Who are you? What is your company all about? What sets you apart from your competitors? What do you do to make a positive impact on your community?

Stay White Hat: Think about what you don’t like when surfing online and what spammers do and DON’T DO IT. You will not only alienate your potential customers, you will detract from your SEO campaign. Don’t be a spammer!

Use Analytics: Make sure to utilize an analytics program for your website, your blog and other other online site your company may manage. Analytics programs provide key data on how your potential customers are finding you, how long they stay on your site, how many pages they visit and most importantly what keywords they are using in their search. Remember, this is not a “set it and forget it” type of plan.

Do More than Just “Sell:” When people go online, they are most often looking for information. If a potential customer feels like they are just getting a sales pitch, they will quickly navigate away. By providing information, you are essentially helping your potential customer while simultaneously showing you have in-depth knowledge in your field. Help solve a potential customer’s problem and they will go from a potential customer to a customer!

These are just a few considerations when building an SEO or online marketing campaign. It is always a good idea to work with an SEO specialist or online marketing consultant when it is time to manage your company’s online presence. These individuals can really help build your brand and make a positive online impact!

Yesterday on Fox and Friends, a segment highlighted three “mompreneurs” that started their business at home while raising their young children. One thing all three mentioned was building their brand.

It is important that companies consider their brand when developing an online marketing campaign. A brand is how the public will perceive your company. It goes beyond the service or product you provide. Who are you? What is your company all about? Do you care about your local community? This all goes in to building your brand.

So, don’t just think about advertising and marketing. Think about how the public considers your company and what your brand is all about. If you are having trouble with these steps, then consider hiring a consultant that can help you build your brand in addition to finding the right words for your web content to make sure your message is spot on!

Last weekend, the Northeast was hit with a blizzard. If you live in New York City or New Jersey, you know for the most part, snow removal was not handled well. That is, unless you live in Newark.

Cory Booker’s use of Facebook, and especially Twitter, is a great example of how to make social media a useful and important communication tool.

He used social media to keep in touch with his constituents during the storm as a way to identify trouble spots, people who needed help and other snow-related issues in his city. As a result, he received rave reviews for his handling of the storm, while New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie both received failing marks for their snow removal management. Especially Chris Christie, who was away in Disney with his family during the storm and the Lt. Gov., Kim Guadagno was also away on vacation, leaving the state in the hands of State Senate President, Stephen Sweeney.

So, for those of you who aren’t sure if social media is worth the time and effort, I say look to Mayor Booker’s use of social media and take a page from his playbook!

Branding Reinvented

In today’s age of SEO, social media and instant information, the concept of “branding” has definitely been reinvented and redefined. When a company or individual works to develop a brand strategy, it should not be taken lightly. It is often considered the most difficult step in developing a marketing plan. After all, this is how you will be presenting yourself and your business to the world. This is how your or your company will be identified by the public at large. There are, however, a few steps you can take to help start the process, so it feels less daunting.

Identify Your Audience

First and foremost, you need to identify your target audience. This will help you in a number of ways. It will help to identify the best ways to reach your audience, which can vary widely depending on the market. For example, a manufacturing plant manager will find relevant market information differently than an engineer. Additionally, it will begin to help set your marketing budget, which will now be realistically based on the best ways to reach that audience instead of just throwing darts at the board.

Look at What is Working

Work to become familiar with what avenues reach your target audience and “learn the lingo.” Understand how industry professionals communicate with each other and utilize that when developing your brand.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Regardless of where you are working to communicate to your audience, make sure you put your best foot forward. Establish yourself as a knowledgeable and professional individual in your industry. Attend industry and networking events. Always keep business cards with you and develop your “elevator pitch.” You never know when you could make that perfect professional connection!