In 2012 – The Future is Social Search – ENGAGE

Social Search is Here – Think about Engagement

 

The Google Bomb came and got dropped on everyone, including myself this year.    The Farmer update had people that relied solely on Article Marketing crying like newborn children as they lost their precious first page rankings and they saw all their hard work flushed down the toilet.    For some, their sites got slapped off the face of the earth.

Adaptation and improvisation are the fundamental keys to staying in business when times change.   Either you change with the times or your business dies.

Has the Google Slap Happened to You?

Play by the Rules, Don’t get Slapped, or punched in the Face

After the update, it had me think of Article Marketing in different dynamics.    The Search Engine Rankings were polluted with fake Pharma sites and “Get Rich Quick Scams”.    I don’t blame Google’s web spam team one bit for doing what they had to do with ridding the search results of this rubbish.

I originally learned  to do SEO from Paul & Angela’s backlinks.    These were called Web 2.0 profiles and I used to engineer thousands of them and ran them through a complex indexing process.   These were in a certain “grey” area, however  I considered them White Hat “One Way Links” and fair.   However, over time as bot technology has improved so has the webmaster’s ability to combat and spot spam.    Nowadays, if you write a Web 2.0 Profile and even take the time to flesh out all the profile information and add a picture of your smiling mug, chances are slim to none that the link will get indexed, and even if it does, chances are very well that the link will be erased if you do not participate in the forum.   Your efforts will be short lived, and the method does not work nearly as well as it used to.   I wrote so many of them initially because pouring garbled, unintelligible spun garbage into the search engines did not sit well with me ethically.

So let me be frank, if you are scraping content from other people and remixing it into garbled, illegible and unreadable garbage just for the purpose of getting a link your days are numbered.   If you are using a “backlink energizer” product that scrapes other people’s content and reinserts your links into unreadable blog rolls and Google’s WebSpam team finds this content farm linking to you then you risk being audited, deindexed, slapped, and your cheating will be punished with you being sent to oblivion and you will have no traffic, no sales, and no business.

You get humbled after certain algorithmic updates and learn the hard way that there is only one way to play with Google, by their rules.  If you think you are smarter than the top 1% of Ivy League mathematicians that design their algorithm then your hubris (arrogance against the gods in Greek mythology, HUBRIS) will be punished in no uncertain terms.    If you break the rules then the algorithm doesn’t necessarily kill you, it just ignores your bad links.    So, what are bad links?

  • Auto Approve Scrapebox Spam - Useless for anything but quick indexing, but do you want to be sharing links on a page with porn and viagra sites?  Answer is  NO.   Scrapebox is good for only one thing, checking to see if your links are being indexed.   Hosing your website with a bunch of Spam Links from this blackhat program using an auto approve list will get you burned and sent to the second or third page.  (Confirmed from my testing).
  • Xrummer Forum Spam - Once again a great way to burn your website to the ground especially in the hands of an idiot.   When you are capable of hosing down 60k anchor text links in one day then you should seriously consider where these links are pointing at because it will definately get you brought down in the search results and penalized.
  • Badly Spun and Unintelligible Articles  -  If it is not something people want to read, then why on God’s green earth would they click on the link to go to your website to read more.   Think about writing useful content that engages your reader and wants to bait them to the website for more.
  • Reciprocal Linking Schemes on Irellevant Sites - I’ve actually talked on the phone with a person that practices SEO in Portland and wrote a 5 star book on Amazon that thinks this still works.  Normally I would have respect for a fellow colleague but he condemned me to clean up the mess he made with his giant reciprocal link farm when my local client signed with me.   So now I am calling him out for the fraud that he is.    He’s on the fourth or fifth page for “SEO Portland”.    Do not involve yourself with fishy domain linking schemes that are reciprical in nature.   You only want “One-Way Backlinks”.  Ignore requests for link exchanges and participate in Guest Blogging instead.
  • Auto Blogging Link Farms – These horrendous creations are an abomination to the practice of SEO and ethical people that value  the content that goes on to the internet.   These so called plugins will scrape and remix content from article directories and insert your links in them.    Avoid at all costs.

I originally  learned to build backlinks through Paul & Angela’s back link packets.   These were devalued as lower class links, so now I only use them for link diversification.   I write links from EVERYWHERE, no-follow blog comments, follow blog comments, blog rolls, social bookmarks,  press releases, article directories, and Web 2.0 Profiles.       I took a concentrated course on White Hat SEO and learned how to build 1-5 IP diversified links surrounded by strong, grammatically correct content and relevant copy on blog rolls and Press Release sites.  These are good links.   You will never get punished for building these type of links.      If you do not have time to write this content then get someone to write it for you.   Make sure your content is topical, and relevant to your site on the first tier, and most importantly grammatically correct.  Feel free to blast these blog rolls with all the spam you want, however I interlink them with a second tier of guess what?  Readable, legible and useful content.   This method pulled me from the second page, I was rewarded with a PR 3 and now I simply know better.   In order to win you must begin to think of everything you do online in one dynamic only – ENGAGEMENT

The content I use is  engaging.  I could put the content in my Twitter Streams and on my Linkedin Profile and not be ashamed of the articles linking back to my website.

If your email program only gets 100 opens when you have a list of 40,000 people then this should tell you something.  YOU’RE NOT ENGAGING.  You are blasting marketing at people that don’t care.     Make something up, give away a gift card, football tickets, t-shirts with your logo on it, do anything but BLAST YOUR MARKETING UPON DEAF EARS THAT DO NOT CARE.  You have to give people a reason to care.  Otherwise they won’t opt in.   Or if they do opt in, they will not care.   People are easy to understand in the marketing world.  Human beings are innately selfish.   Appeal to their sense of “Me”.   Think about it, my cell phone is called the myTouch.   As in “MINE”.   Think about the most ingenious marketing strategy ever launched with the iPod.  The keyword being “I” as in MINE.  It’s something personal, it’s mine to own, and it is precious to “ME”.   Once you figure out how people think then the marketing becomes easy.

The iPod is one of the Most Commercially Successful Product Launches to Date

This device appealed to people’s sense of “ME”

   If you do not want to reward, retain, and engage your customer then your business will die.  Period.  What’s in it for the customer?  Why should they follow you on Facebook?   Because you put up pretty pictures.  You think the customer gives a flying fuc$! about your pictures?   The only reason they opt into a company’s marketing is because they are asking that one question?  What’s in it for ME.   What kind of reward do I get for following YOU.  If you are not asking these questions now then you are setting your business up for failure.    If you are not answering your fans questions, showing human empathy, if your campaign is being run by a robot that blasts marketing messages into Twitter and Facebook like these are one way marketing channels like TV then your campaign will  FAIL. Your fans will stop following you, and nobody will care about what you are marketing or will care about what you have to say.   I know because I have measured the analytics and they all point to one thing.  The days of one way marketing channels are over.   Give it up, hire someone to talk to your audience.   Stop blasting your marketing on autopilot with bot programs to people that don’t care.

 So here is my tip if you Want to Survive 2012

Now here is the most  important part, so make sure you get it.   It’s time to think about engagement.   From your email program, to your SEO program, to your social media program, the purpose behind your content should be to ENGAGE your audience.    Now, more than ever.   If you obsess over link building schemes you will fail.    If you do not have on audience that you actively talk to, you will fail.  If your fan base is not sending you feedback then you are failing.

If you do not pay attention to a customer’s criticisms online and fix the problems in your organization that they are pointing out, then you will FAIL.  Don’t FAIL in 2012.  ENGAGE! and you will SURVIVE.

 

Is Social Search the Death of SEO?

Is Social Search the Death of SEO? 

It seems like yesterday that Facebook overtook Google as the most popular website on the web and formed an alliance with Bing to transform Social Search.   In an ideal world this system of peer recommendations would help people find the best products and services based on a simple “like” button that’s been planted on every website. 

 

On one side of the equation you have people that think Google’s search algorithm is easily gamed by spambots (I assure you it is not that simple) and that the quality of the results has been diluted by greedy marketers looking to hawk their products online. 

While there is certainly some of that going on, building a company’s entire marketing strategy around one vertical search directory wheher it be Facebook or Twitter isn’t a very sound decision.

 

SEO and Social Search
Seo versus Social Search

 

Why should You Be More Concerned with Search Engine Marketing Now?

Other Than Proven ROI Models?

 

Because there are hundreds of other search directories where your business can be found.   Craigslist, Judy’s Book, Yahoo Local, Citysearch, and Kudzu just to name a few.  These vertical search directories have review systems that allow for customer feedback that is a little more “in-depth” than a thumbs up button.  Also, in these socialistic paradigms everyone has an equal voice, lending to a cluttered wall where marketing messages get lost over time as a person “likes” more companies and has more friends vying for attention.  

 If anything, I have found through split testing that people are more adept at ignoring marketing in social media channels and they have the power to segment the marketing messages into a list that they may never even look at, or can alltogether just hide. 

A person should make a business page on Facebook and claim their Facebook Places listing so that they can be found through their search algorithm.  There are certainly some cool interactive features you can do with Facebook like have photo sharing contests and participate in real-time customer service.   It seems really logical to have a Facebook or Twitter presence for a restaurant or night club so you can keep your followers informed on food and drink specials.

 

What’s Wrong with Social Search?

 

While I like the idea of having massive forums where like minded people can gather and participate in conversations, there is one problem with this.  People, just like in real life, segregate themselves into tribes and then participate in discussion groups about what they want to talk about. 

Also, what may be popular on the internet may not be the best thing for society.  I’m sure millions of people “Like” coca-cola.  I had one the other day for the first time in over a year.   It was delicious.   It doesn’t change the fact that just because the beverage is popular that it is loaded with high fructose corn syrup and isn’t necessarily good for your health.

 

So Why is  Search Engine Marketing here to Stay?

Google’s December Update favored brick and mortar businesses in search results to filter out spam.   For example,  before this update  I could simply optimize my SEO business for Nashville, Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles (which I did not, but could have),  but now the new Google “Places” listings favor offices and businesses in their own city for first page results.  For certain types businesses, these results are already covering the whole first page.  Combine that with the aggregation of reviews from all the review sites and you have a first class peer recommendation system built on steroids.   Rather than a simple “thumbs-up” we have entire reviews that were written with in-depth critiques of a business from people that have actually been to the location.

 

Google’s Mobile App

 

   Facebook won’t let you give a business a “thumbs down” but these review sites sure will.  With the Google Places app hitting the Iphone market this cements the new algorithm as the champion of real peer recommendations.  After all, if I were looking for a good restaurant in Atlanta then sure, I would ask a friend sometimes.  Or I could ask the hundreds of people that went to that restaurant in one click of a button on my cell phone.  It doesn’t get much better than that.   So, is Social Search the death of SEO?  No, it just made it better.