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Getting a '+1'? doesn't only apply to guest lists anymore. Google recently launched its new social sharing button, which will compete against Bing's recent partnership with Facebook and the 'Like'? button. While Facebook is one of the most popular sites on the Internet, Bing still doesn't compare to Google in terms of search engine user percentage. Even after last year's Bing/Yahoo! merger, the two engines combine to make up only about 14% of the total market share in the United States (Google has an impressive 85%). So even though Facebook activity may be influencing Bing's organic search results, the Bing user base is still relatively small for the partnership to have shown great impact thus far. With unsuccessful past social media experiments of their own, Google is using their new +1 button as a means of influencing their own search algorithm. The social aspect of +1 comes from the fact that users need to be logged into a Google account (Gmail, YouTube, Webmaster Tools, or other Google powered channels). From there, Google users can see which of their friends liked certain content, whether it's displayed on a link from a search engine results page, or an actual piece of content from a website. A recent study showed that 90% of online consumers trust recommendations from people they already know, and 71% of online consumers admit that reviews from family members and/or friends influence purchase decisions (Econsultancy July 2009, Harris Interactive June 2010). This data, coupled with the growing popularity of Gmail, and the worldwide popularity of YouTube should help get the +1 button to penetrate the psyche of a large amount of Internet users. I mentioned above that the +1 button can be applied to pieces of content and search listings, but the +1 button isn't only limited to organic listings. Paid listings can also benefit from the button. Google separately monitors which people clicked the +1 button sildenafil using a color coded display, which shows whether a user clicked the button on an organic listing, a paid listing, or on a website. The implementation versatility of the +1 button, combined with the social experience could have a great impact on click through rates for both organic and paid listings. Google has also rolled out detailed tracking solutions to support the +1 button. In Google Webmaster Tools, a user will soon be able to track detailed +1 activity, search impact, and demographic data. In Google Analytics, users will soon be able to track visits that were affected by social media engagement, which will pull data from all social media sites (Facebook, Twitter'?¦etc). It remains to be seen if the Google +1 button will catch on with Internet users, but if it does, the tools are in place to revolutionize the Google algorithm and bring social based search to the mainstream.
As someone who has spent the majority of my life around music, I recently wondered what it would be like if artists sacrificed their artistic integrity to make their songs more searchable within search engines. Call me a dork, but yes, this thought actually entered my brain and it intrigued me enough to write a blog about it. This idea would be terrible for musical integrity, but it would be great for sales and artist related search traffic. So I thought about what some of the more popular music related search terms might be, and the first thing that came to mind was 'love song.'? Maybe it's because I just got married, maybe it's because Valentine's Day just passed, or maybe it's because I recently sang a karaoke version of 'Endless Love'? with our office manager Patty. Regardless of the reason, after researching the search volume of the term 'love song,'? I discovered that there are 2,240,000 monthly searches for that exact term across the world. When you think of artists who made their living off love, who comes to mind? Luther Vandross? Lionel Ritchie? While I'm sure many of today's 20-30 year olds were probably conceived to the music of these two men, neither Luther or Lionel were ever smart (or simple) enough to have a hit single called 'Love Song.'? So naturally I asked, "who HAS had a single called 'Love Song'"? The only 3 artists that came to mind were The Cure, Sara Bareilles, and 80's rockers Tesla. After doing a quick Google search for the term 'love song,'? videos and lyrics for all 3 of these songs showed up on the first page of Google. That is pretty amazing considering the high search volume, and the number of popular love songs that exist. Tesla also had an album called 'Bust a Nut,'? but that's a different search for a different day, on a different computer. Give them some slack'?¦it was the 80's. Tesla just might have predicted SEO would be huge while they were just learning Prodigy! Sara Bareilles may have struck SEO gold with 'Love Song,'? but she sure didn't gain any SEO points by keeping that last name. How many people do you really think can spell Bareilles? I know I had to look it up! Note to Sara: There's probably a reason why Lady Gaga doesn't go by Stefani Germanotta. How about going by Sara Ellis? Just a thought'?¦
In the movie 'The Social Network,'? Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg led us to believe that since Zuckerberg so desperately wanted to be considered cool himself, that he also wanted Facebook to be cool, so that he could be considered cool by association. For this reason, he was against selling advertising on Facebook, as he thought ads would cheapen the experience and make it uncool for potential users. Seven years and billions of dollars in value later, Facebook is the biggest website on the Internet and it has since allowed sponsored ads. The conspiracy theorist in me believes that Zuckerberg always intended to have ads on the site, but he just wanted to get everyone addicted to Facebook FIRST, and THEN make money off these addicts. You may ask, 'Greg, are you comparing Mark Zuckerberg to a heroin dealer?'? In a way, I AM comparing Mark Zuckerberg to a heroin dealer, only WAY smarter, because Facebook isn't illegal, and it's a universally accepted addiction. Now that sponsored ads have been in our Facebook consciousness without mass Facebook upheaval, we will now see the beginning of sponsored stories. With sponsored stories, businesses can now monetize their Facebook fans. For example, let's make up a fictional store called 'Sneaker Land.'? Aside from having the most original name for a sneaker store in recent memory, Sneaker Land also has a growing Facebook fan base. Occasionally, Sneaker Land posts interesting pieces of content based around the sneakers they sell. This content might deal with subjects such as sports or fashion. If a 'fan'? of Sneaker Land were to 'like'? this content, Sneaker Land could then pay Facebook to feature this information in the 'sponsored'? column for all friends of fans to see. By doing this, Sneaker Land is building awareness to the social networks of their fans, while increasing web traffic, and ultimately increasing their bottom line. Sponsored stories aren't just limited to article related content. 'Check Ins'? have become a popular feature on Facebook as of late. These 'Check Ins'? can now also be sponsored as well. Now if you 'check in'? to Sneaker Land with your friend Joe, all of your friends can now see a Sneaker Land sponsored ad letting them know that you were at Sneaker Land with your friend Joe. The advantage of sponsored ads is that the ad has longer staying power to penetrate the consciousness of your social network, rather than being buried in the list of recent status updates. While this information may seem scary to some people, the idea of sponsored stories doesn't stray far from behaviors that the majority of people already participate in. People are quick to share personal information with their friends, and now this information will just be there longer for people to see. If you don't want this information being used, then don't share it to begin with. The idea of sponsored stories seems like a slam dunk for businesses wanting to reach their target audience, while building their social media presence. In addition, social media posts now routinely rank in organic search results, so it would be an ignorant move for companies to not at least pay attention.
From 1987-1997, the FOX television network aired "Married With Children," its most successful live-action sitcom to date. The show chronicled the miserable Al Bundy, a former high school football star turned women's shoe salesman. Ever since Al scored 4 touchdowns in a game for Polk High School, his life went steadily downhill. For Al, work was no relief from his miserable home life, as he would routinely make fun of his customers for his own personal enjoyment. Something tells me that if social networking and local search were around back then, there is no way Al would have been employed at the same shoe store for 11 years. Local search has proven to have a major effect on search engine marketing. For example, the other night I was looking to purchase a new pair of sneakers and I was trying to find shoe stores that I wasn't previously aware of. I did what the majority of people would do; I typed in www.google.com and searched for "boston shoe stores." Out of the 10 search results on the 1st page, 5 of them were local search websites, and the #1 ranking was held by Yelp. Now that the communication of social networking has been combined with local search, word of mouth marketing might as well be renamed "word of viral universe marketing." This should be exciting for many business owners, as they have a new source for free advertising that outreaches the scope of their previous efforts. However, notice I said this should be exciting for "many" business owners. One of the main reasons why it has been difficult to convince many businesses to embrace social media marketing is that the business loses control of its desired message. For business owners not completely comfortable with the ways of the Internet, this can be a scary thought. If a business is a respectable establishment that treats customers with respect, social media should only benefit them. However, if a business makes a habit of shady dealings and rude customer service, you better believe that they will get some horrible reviews from angry customers, which will only lead to horrible "word of viral universe" marketing. Before I started this blog entry I did some research and found that about 1900 people searched the term "boston shoe stores" last month. That means that 1900 people also saw similar results as I did on the 1st page of Google. That also means that up to 1900 people saw the 74 mostly atrocious reviews that a certain Boston shoe store received from the online social universe on Google Places alone. The reviews weren't much better on Yelp either. According to dissatisfied customers, this company's employees have done everything from not honoring returns, to belittling customers, to even flirting with a customer's girlfriend! What would be even sadder is if this company was unaware of the power of this thing called the Internet. In addition to being a respectable establishment, a certain degree of public relations needs to be present for the most effective social media marketing. Instead of trying to hide negative comments and reviews, companies should be trying to embrace them to improve their business. By conversing with customers, businesses are getting on their level and showing they care. That action alone will more than likely make up for any wrong doing the business did in the first place, and ultimately the customer will probably give the business a second chance. Luckily for Al Bundy, his company wasn't forced to embrace social media back in the 80's and 90's. If the real life version of Al Bundy is still selling shoes today, he better keep his wisecrack comments to himself.
Not long ago I was at having an enlightening and topical discussion about Meat Loaf (the singer, not grandma's favorite dinner staple). As this riveting discussion was coming to a close, I was reminded of an article I read where someone recorded Meat Loaf giving SEO advice over the phone. This article was memorable for two reasons: Meat Loaf was giving SEO advice over the phone. The blurb about Meat Loaf appeared in TV Guide, and I don't think I've ever seen SEO mentioned in a mainstream media outlet. SEO usually goes unnoticed. It flies under the radar like a good cameraman, a good baseball umpire, or the bass player in a band. Like the professions I've described, the need for SEO is only noticed if the existing product is less than satisfactory. At the very least, a website should have abundant keyword rich text and well optimized Meta tags before search engines will consider displaying its URL prominently in search engine results pages. Obviously there is more to it, but we aren't trying to put anyone to sleep here. Let's say you own the only bakery in a town called Springfield. When someone searches "bakery Springfield," you better at least appear on the 1st page. Let's get back to the reason you're reading this...Meat Loaf! Senor Loaf was doing an interview with a site called www.thedeadbolt.com. He mentioned the first thing that came up when he Googled the site was a URL for a budget locksmith. Makes sense right? Since then it seems as though the site has implemented the necessary SEO steps, because the budget locksmith no longer appears first. Naturally I was curious to see what happened when I did a search for "meat loaf" in Google. The man knows his stuff, because he out ranked the food itself. At this point I was fantasizing about Meat Loaf being my co-worker and my SEO partner in crime. I wasn't even thinking of the public relations gift AMP Agency would receive in hiring Meat Loaf as an SEO Specialist. The press release alone would probably go viral. Knowing what I know now, if a guy named Pork Dumpling was going to consult me on SEO strategies, I would probably demand a background check and a drug test, but if he told me his name was Meat Loaf I'd be all ears. In closing, I would like to leave a message for Mr. Loaf... Dear Mr. Loaf, While I am not a fan of your music by any means, I am a fan of your fondness for food, especially meat loaf. I find it to be delicious and unfairly scrutinized against, especially when it's in the company of "sexier" dishes. I am also a fan of your ability to stay relevant, even though you haven't had a hit since before the majority of people had internet in their homes. In fact you are more relevant than the food itself (according to Google anyway), and that truly is something to be admired. Given your love for search engine optimization, I would love for you to be my co-worker. In fact, I would do anything for you to be my co-worker, but I won't do that. Sincerely, Greg Faucher