Monthly Archives: August 2013

9 Ways to Use Google Plus for Business

G+ logoI’ve written a great deal on these pages about using Facebook, Twitter and other social networks for business. In fact, reams have been written about using these networks to promote your business. Even Pinterest has generated quite a bit of interest. However, for some reason, Google’s own offering, Google + is often ignored by those who promote using social networks for business. Today, that all changes.

Okay, to be fair, there have been some things written about Google +. It’s not like nobody has ever written about it. However, whereas I seem to see an article about Twitter or Facebook almost every day, I had to actually do some serious digging to find out about the benefits of using G+ for business. That’s a shame because there are some genuine gems here.

Google Authorship

Since Google owns G+, they are able to offer features which simply do not exist in other kinds of social media. Facebook may be the 800 pound gorilla in the room with around 20 times the number of users as G+, but Google is still the king of search. They have leveraged that to include an absolutely invaluable feature in the Google + infrastructure.

Google Authorship is designed to group together articles you wrote across a wide variety of different websites so that people can find your stuff regardless of where it’s located. This is in essence a very sophisticated form of SEO because it will allow your content to stand out from the crowd (assuming it is actually worth something. If it’s poorly written junk, you are best off ignoring authorship and hiring a professional writer).

The way authorship works is that you include an extra piece of code within every document that you create (if you use WordPress as your content management system, you can do this with a plugin. I believe there are also some themes that now have this feature baked straight into the system). The link will be to your G+ profile and will use that information to display your authorship data.

By the way, it’s important to make sure that you have a professional looking photograph in your G+ profile because that is also what will appear when your content gets shown to the world. It will look something like this:

Google authorship

As you can see, authorship will make your listings stand out, with a photograph. This will also help you to get your content noticed and clicked on more often than other material. Clicking on the photo of the person will allow you to see what else they have authored, thus allowing you to find more content by the same author if you like what you see.

Get Link Juice from Your Other Social Networks

This is another benefit that only Google can provide because they own both G+ and the Google search engine. In essence, what you can do on your G+ account is to link it to your other social networks. So why would you want to do that? Simple – by doing so, you are allowing Google to see what kind of influence you have elsewhere and to add to the value of your links on G+ and those other networks.

This kind of thing in essence creates a network of links across your various networks and makes each and every link that you share across them that much more valuable.

Following Others

This is similar to the way that Twitter allows you to follow others and the way that Facebook allows you to follow specific celebrity pages and the like. In essence, you follow various other people and many of them may in turn follow you. Unlike on Facebook, where you need to friend someone to follow them, on Google +, you can follow anyone’s public comments even if they are not your “friend.”

The catch is that you want to ensure that you don’t follow too many more people than are following you. Think of it as being kind of like Twitter, where you want to get plenty of followers but don’t want to be following so many people. The more followers you have, the greater your influence and the more likely your content will rise to the top.

This is especially important when you use Google Authorship because Google actually maintains something called author rank. This means that if your content is getting followed by more people than you are yourself following, you are considered an influencer and as such, your content gets pushed to the top of the rankings.

Build a Business Page

Just as you can build a business page on Facebook, it is possible to do the same thing on Google+ and ask your friends and your customers to like the page. Similarly to the way things work over on FB, the more likes (actually follows) that you get on your Google + business page, the more influential it becomes and the more likely it is to help you with your business prospects.

Similarly to the way that Facebook pages work, you get to create a cover photo as well as a logo image and then add extra content to the page. The good news is that as far as I can tell, you don’t need to worry about getting 25 followers before you can get a name you like. The bad news of course is that this means that anyone can grab names so it’s useful to get in there quickly and find your page name.

create a business page

You can check whether or not your business page name is available by the way by using Namechk. By the way, just as an aside, that same website will allow you to check out the availability of names on dozens of other services, not just Google + so it’s a really great service to be aware of.

When creating a business page on Google +, you will need to choose from the various options available. Included options are local businesses, products or brand names, corporations, sports or entertainment or ‘other’ in the event that your page doesn’t quite fit with any of the choices available. You will then be asked to pick a subcategory for your page as well.

I won’t waste an enormous amount of space here telling you all about how to build the page because it’s pretty obvious. The one thing that I think is important to mention is that you need to create a tagline for your business page which includes 10 words. This is important because it will be shown whenever your page appears in search results.

Make Use of Hash Tags

Hash tags are likely familiar to you from using Twitter to get the word out about your business and your products. However, Google also uses hash tags and allows them to be searched for on the system. You can use them to great advantage to help your business get noticed on the service. Posts should always include hash tags so that they can get added exposure.

Don’t forget as well that you can include links back to your own pages and then use hash tags to increase the number of hits that you get on those pages. This is a super easy way to add to your SEO efforts on Google + without putting in much effort. By the way, Google + also can suggest hash tags to you if you don’t choose any on your own. Just make sure that you choose tags that make sense for your posts.

Hangouts

This is actually a pretty unique feature on Google + which I happen to be a very big fan of. Google hangouts are basically chat rooms where you can get together with your customers and tell them all about the products that you have for sale. You can then use these things to provide interviews, do question and answer sessions and even to give webinars.

Once you have created your hangouts, you can record them directly on the service and then have them shared automatically onto your YouTube page so that you can increase the number of videos available along with the views you get. Don’t forget to invite customers to the hangout and to schedule them on a regular basis.

hangouts

Communities

These things work similarly to the way that groups on LinkedIn work. In essence, they are special groups which discuss areas of specific interest. You can join communities which are related to your niche and you can even create your own communities. This means that you will be able to reach out to customers who might otherwise not find your Google + page.

By the way, communities do tend to get an awful lot of spam on them so if you are serious about making your community one that’s worthwhile to your customers, you can set it to be private. This means that anyone who wants to post will have to request to join rather than simply showing up for a drive by spam posting.

The bad part about setting your community to private however is that you may discourage some people from posting because they need to actively join the community. You’ll need to decide which option is more important to you – having more open access or not having to constantly delete spam from your community.

Use Bulk Follow

Another excellent feature on Google + is the circles feature. Facebook has tried to create something similar where they offer to give you specific groups that things are shared with. However, on Google +, circles can actually be made publicly available. This means that you can follow an entire group of people on G+ by following an entire circle.

Remember as I said earlier that unlike Facebook, you can follow people without having to actually “friend” them. Thus you are able to follow people and then you will (hopefully) get followed a number of those people. It works kind of the way that followers on Twitter work in that many people will follow you if you follow them.

Add a G+ Badge on Your Website

Finally, consider adding a Google + badge to your website. In essence, this will allow you to link your G+ business page to your business website. This will in turn allow you to create some extra link juice back to your business page. When you do that, you increase the visibility of your business page and as such, you are that much more likely to get both the page and your site to the top of the rankings.

5 YouTube Optimization Tips to Drive up Views

youtube logoVideo and especially YouTube is one of the most important things to understand when you are trying to do SEO and make money online. Unfortunately, there is roughly 48 hours’ worth of video uploaded to YouTube every single minute. That means that effectively, you have a tremendous amount of competition to grab eyeballs online.

By the way, did you know that YouTube is the second most popular search engine on the web? If you’re like me, you probably thought that it was Bing with Yahoo! a distant third. Based strictly on text search, you’d be right. However, when you figure this based exclusively on the number of searches per day, YouTube comes out second only to its parent company, Google.

So what can you do to tap into this tremendous market? I did some research recently to learn about the best ways to get your message out there and actually build yourself a serious YouTube presence without breaking the bank. These techniques don’t necessarily require you to spend a fortune for slick videos (though it does help to do so). They do however require that you spend some time doing things correctly.

Sourcing Video

Let’s start with how to source your video. Your smartphone very likely is capable of doing the job but if you want to look like someone who isn’t running an amateur hour production, you’ll need to augment it. For some reason, every single guide I looked at while researching this article ignores this basic requirement. They just assume you have a video and don’t talk about sourcing.

Fortunately, making your smartphone function as a camcorder is pretty easy. I won’t waste your time telling you to go to the app store for whatever flavor of OS you have (iOS, Android and Windows Phone all have decent video recording apps and most phones come with some kind of basic video recording app as well).

However, I do recommend that you get yourself a smartphone tripod grip. This is a little device that can grip your phone and attach to a standard tripod. Put your phone on one and you go from shaky, handheld amateur hour productions to a professional looking video where even if all you do is talk to the camera, it looks like it was shot by a pro. Joby makes a pretty decent one but there are others available too.

smartphone tripod adapter

I also recommend checking out Camtasia Studio. It’s not free but it can help you edit your videos and add special effects without costing an arm and a leg. Okay, enough of discussing how to take the video. Now that you have one, let’s talk YouTube optimization.

Start with the Description

The description in your video is vitally important to getting it noticed. The fact is that no search engine will actually check what your video is about. YouTube does try to do a speech to text capture of your video’s content but this is a very limited service which still tends to get quite a bit wrong. Plus, if you do an anidoodle style video, there isn’t going to be any speech.

Your description should lead off with your URL. This can either be a link to your homepage or to a specific page on your site which is related to the video. Ideally, you should link it to a page specific to your video because that will drive the most sales. Thus if you create a video all about muscle building supplements, you should probably have a link straight to the purchase page instead of the home page.

The reason you want to put your link right in the top of the description is simple by the way. When your video’s description is minimized, that and perhaps one or two more lines are all that will show. Thus you need it in a prominent place to grab as much traffic as possible from it.

On to the description. It should be keyword heavy but not keyword stuffed. In essence, a good paragraph for a video about SEO might be:

Find out the five secrets of doing SEO correctly. SEO is one of the most confusing aspects of making money online and without it, you will find that it is difficult if not impossible to get your website noticed. Here, we’ll teach you five secrets of how to do SEO correctly. These ideas won’t cost you a penny but will help your efforts to build your search engine visibility tremendously.

A keyword stuffed description (which will first of all turn off human visitors to your site and will second of all likely get your video penalized as spam) by comparison might be:

SEO is all about getting noticed by the search engines through SEO techniques. SEO is really important to building a business online and without SEO, you are wasting your time online. In fact, SEO is so important that without SEO, you will find that sites simply die and lose out to those with good SEO. 5 SEO secrets will teach you the five SEO techniques that every SEO expert already knows to use when he or she does SEO.

I think you get the point there and if you don’t, please hire yourself a professional writer to do your descriptions. You need it.

Other Metadata

Of course, while the description is extremely important to ensuring that your video will get noticed by the masses, it’s important to remember to look at all the other metadata that you can put into a video. Think back to the early days of the web and you’ll pretty much have the idea of how this is supposed to work.

Back in the early days of the web, SEO often consisted of stuffing the keyword metadata section of a post with every keyword you could think of to attract people to your content. Porn operators famously started to put irrelevant keywords into their metadata and so the search engines started to ignore the keyword.

Today, keywords are nowhere near as important in SEO as they once were. We recommend putting them in mostly for internal indexing purposes. However, when it comes to videos, keyword tags become vitally important. Again, because the search engines have no way to see what your video is about, they need other clues. Your keyword tags provide those clues so use them wisely.

Consider using YouTube’s Keyword Suggestion tool. This tool is designed to suggest keywords that are specifically searched for on YouTube in much the same way the old AdWords keyword tool did the same thing.

YouTube Keyword Finder

It is also important to think carefully about your title. It should include keywords while at the same time being interesting enough to get people to want to click it and see what the video is all about.

Use Annotations

YouTube videos can include annotations. These are those little text boxes which pop up throughout a video. They can be absolutely invaluable to you for several reasons. First of all, the annotations can help you to get your message across. They can tell your viewers about your products and why they’re so great while the video is playing.

YouTube annotations

In addition, you can include a link in your annotations. While the link must be within YouTube, this does allow you to point people to all kinds of things, including another video where the description has a link back to your website.

There are six basic kinds of annotations available to you here.

Pause – This is actually pretty useful because it can allow you to stop the video just after you suggest a call to action. This will keep a URL up on the screen so that people can go to take a look at what your company has for sale. You could also include a pause where your contact information appears. Finally, you may want to use the pause annotation to simply create dramatic effect.

Title does pretty much what it sounds like – it includes a title on your video. The nice thing is that you can create a title which reinforces for your customers exactly who created this video that they’re enjoying and where they can find out more information about your company.

Note is one of the most popular annotations on YouTube because it allows you to insert a professional looking note with links into the video. In essence, it will create a note down at the bottom of the video which appears at a specific point in the video.

Spotlight in essence turns an entire section of your video into a link to something else somewhere on YouTube. Thus in essence, people could click anywhere when you use the spotlight.

Speech bubble is probably most useful if you have a video where someone is doing something without speaking. The speech bubble pretty much does what it sounds like – it allows you to create a speech bubble which can be positioned anywhere on the video. It’s often used for comic effect when creating a video to say what someone is thinking as opposed to what they’re saying.

Labels basically allow you to create a box with a caption on it. They’re pretty similar to the note feature but with a bit less flexibility.

In order to use any of these annotation features, you simply select “add annotation” on an existing video and then start adding in annotations.

Remember Your Play Lists

The odds are good that you know what a playlist is. Anyone who has ever plugged an iPod into a pair of speakers for a party knows that you pick an appropriate playlist of your favorite songs and let everyone else hear what you picked out. What some people may not realize is that YouTube offers a similar feature.

Playlists on YouTube allow you to create lists of your own related videos or lists of other videos which you happen to think your visitors might be interested in. Now, why might you want to call attention to someone else’s videos? There are several reasons:

First and foremost, by including someone else’s videos, you increase the value of your own videos. Think about this: Let’s say you run a company selling weight loss supplements. You created a few videos explaining how your weight loss supplements work and why they’re so great. What if you took those videos and now combined them with a few videos about proper dieting and how to exercise?

Instantly, you have created a playlist which has much broader appeal to your potential customers and which sneakily includes your own video selling your products. People will click the playlist because it promises lots of weight loss tips and tricks and your video slides right in there whereas the same person might not have looked at your video alone.

In addition to this, when you create a playlist with other people’s videos and make it public, they can find it and they may well decide to put a link to your playlist on their YouTube page thus increasing the visibility of your own videos and playlists.

It also goes without saying that every playlist you create should follow the same basic rules as your videos. Good titles, good descriptions and good use of keyword tags are all critical to getting your playlist noticed.

Brand That Page

Finally, remember that your YouTube channel has a personal page attached to it. This means that you can add graphics, include plenty of descriptions and of course lots of links back to your home page or whatever other page you want. Thus it’s important to go in and do some branding. Let your customers know when they visit your page that this is who you are.

You can also create custom banners for your page though YouTube does charge a fee for this service. However, the results can be stunning to say the least and they will really help you to sell your company as a big, professional company as opposed to a small outfit which people shouldn’t pay any attention to.

10 SEO Tools You Need to Know About

seo (top image)

I know what some of you are thinking – another blog post about SEO tools? Seriously? Well yes, another blog post about SEO tools. We are after all Quantum SEO Labs. It’s in our name and frankly, we feel that one can never have enough different kinds of SEO tools in one’s toolbox. After all, with the Internet becoming more and more competitive every day, it’s important to use whatever you can to keep on top.

Now what I’ve tried to do with this list though is not to highlight the usual suspects. You won’t find me writing about Open Site Explorer or even the Google Keyword Planner (the replacement for the old Adwords Keyword tool which some people hate and others love). Instead, I searched out some of the more unusual tools out there on the web in the hope of helping you to find the tools that you might not otherwise come across.

Panguin Tool

This has to be one of my all time favorite SEO tools. This tool is basically the answer to the Penguin/Panda and whatever other updates Google decides to throw at us. Basically, Panguin will allow you to compare the results of your Google Analytics information from before the updates with your current results. You can see visually how each update has affected your website and decide what to do about it.

The tool is divided into three separate parts. You have Google Organic visits, which tells you how many visits have come in since each update was implemented (seems my site has gotten hammered in the various updates BTW). You can also see Landing Page variance which tells you which pages have gotten looked at more both before and after each of the updates.

Finally, you can see keyword variance where you find out which keywords are working now as opposed to which ones had been working before the updates. Now could you figure this information out all on your own? Sure you could. But the thing about Panguin is that it makes it infinitely easier to see exactly what impact the updates have had on your website.

Bottom line, this tool is incredibly useful and one that you should be visiting on a regular basis. The same company offers a number of other tools but this one is the tool I recommend by far more than any other.

Panguin

Xenu Link Sleuth

Broken links are the bane of every website owner on the planet. Inevitably, websites we have previously linked to disappear or simply change their URLs around. Even a simple site update can break links. Those broken links can easily cause your Google SERP results to suffer. Broken links are a sign to Google that your site is not well maintained.

Xenu is one of a great many services which are designed to allow you to hunt down broken links. I like it simply because it works and it works well. The service works through a Windows desktop based client so you do need to download it which is a bit annoying. However, overall, it does the job, the results are easy to follow and it’s an essential tool in any SEO toolbox.

Cloudflare

I have been using Cloudflare on my own websites and I absolutely love the service. It’s designed to allow you to accelerate your website’s international loading time. In essence, Cloudflare is a CDN or Content Distribution Network. Basically, what it does is to cache copies of your website on servers all over the world. This allows you to serve up your website to everyone  that much faster.

Cloudflare also optimizes your website so that it will load up faster throughout the world (even if it didn’t cache it) and it even includes analytics to let you know how your site loads throughout the world. Plus, Cloudflare provides protection for your website against DDOS attacks meaning that you are less likely to be the target of malicious hackers (nothing can stop them completely, but it does do the job pretty well).

cloudflare

I saved the best for last though. Cloudflare may already be integrated into your web hosting service. Check your cPanel to see if it’s available to you. If it is, you just activate and boom – you’re done. If it’s not, you’ll need to sign up independently and follow a few additional steps but it’s still pretty easy to get the job done.

GetListed

This website is an absolute must for every single local business anywhere. I’m serious. If you run a local business, get to GetListed right now. Basically, this website will allow you to check whether or not your local business I actually listed everywhere it could be listed. You can search for your business name along with your zip code.

Once you put this information in, the system will search through more than two dozen search engines which provide local listings. You can then see which ones have your business listed and which ones don’t. Go ahead and look through them and start making sure you get listed everywhere. Your local business will thank you for it.

getlisted

I ran my business through the system (it’s not actually a local business so I’m not that worried) but I found that it only had me listed in Google. Couldn’t hurt to let all the other search engines know about my website just in case.

Linkstant

Another incredible tool that you need to know about. I know that many of you like to use Open Site Explorer to find out about the backlinks to your website. That’s perfectly fine and you should continue to use that service to monitor your site’s health. However, there is another thing you need to know about – you need to know when your site is linked to immediately.

This is especially important in this day and age because of the latest Google system updates. Basically, there is a possibility that junk links can affect your website. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a heads up whenever a link is made to your website? This way, if someone puts up a junk link, you can immediately use the Google Disavow tool to stop it from affecting your site’s rankings.

You do need to include a few lines of code on your website so it’s not like you can simply put your site into the service and find new links ala Open Site Explorer. It will simply scan continuously for new links which are created once you’ve set the service up.

Similar Page Checker

This one is also great. I do a great deal of writing where I basically need to create content which says the same thing but is completely different from anything else. Or at least, as different as possible. We all know that Google tends to give the highest rankings to content which it considers to be fresh and unique.

Even though the so called duplicate content penalty is a myth, Google will not allow you to get the same rankings for content which is virtually identical to everyone else’s content. That’s why you need to continually check on these things.

Enter the Similar Page Checker. The service can compare two pages and see whether or not they’re really similar to each other or not. Thus you can compare spun content and see whether or not it really is unique.

The system is really simple and works like a charm. Now I know you could use Copyscape to do this too but what I like here is that it lets you compare two specific pages so that you can compare spun pages on your own site as opposed to simply checking your content against other pages on the wen.

SharedCount

Have you ever wondered just how far and wide your reach is in the social media world? I’ve written often enough on these pages about how vital it is to keep your social media accounts active. I myself have been working hard to raise my Klout score because I know it will ultimately help me to build my business.

ShareCount is designed to make it easy to check how often your link has been shared in social media. In essence, rather than simply finding out about a link having been shared by some random user on Twitter, you can find out exactly who shared your site and when by using this service. It’s really cool and incredibly useful for tracking the impact of your social media efforts.

sharedcount

nTopic

I’m guilty of it myself – I tend to drift far off topic when I’m writing a long blog post like this one (though I think in this case, I’ve been pretty good at avoiding the fluff). It happens to the best of us though and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. That said, it’s always useful to have some kind of independent analysis to help you figure out if your article on SEO tools really does discuss SEO tools.

Enter nTopic. It’s a play on words (the question is, is your stuff “on topic” but since that URL was taken, they got a little creative). nTopic analyzes your content to decide whether or not what you wrote is actually staying on the topic that you wanted to discuss or if it drifts off into the la la land of fluff and irrelevant nonsense.

The service works by using a system similar to the kind that Google uses to look for keywords which tell it that you are on topic and it can even suggest keywords to use to improve your “on topic” score. This of course should result in higher rankings in the SERPs (considering that Penguin was all about quality content versus junk content).

SERPMetrics

We all know that it’s absolutely vital to keep close track of your SERP rankings. We also know that just because you have a PR3 on your home page doesn’t mean that your SERP rankings are going to be worth anything. However, it’s always a problem to keep close track of these things because you need to constantly log into an anonymizer service to find out where you are.

SERPMetrics makes the whole process dummy simple. It tracks your SERP rankings for popular keywords in the three most popular search engines, thus allowing you to check in real time whether or not you are getting the results you need. You’ll find that the service tracks this information over time as well so that you can see if your SEO campaign is bearing fruit or not.

Wistia

This is a tool for those of us who don’t want to fuss with trying to get AWS to work with our videos. If you know how to set it up and you have all the various video players you need, you can pretty much ignore Wistia. However, if you just want to put up a few videos on your site and make them play smoothly without bothering with all the headaches of setting up AWS, this is for you.

Wistia is a video hosting service which allows you complete control over how your videos are presented. Moreover, as an SEO tool, it also allows you to embed appropriate keywords to ensure that your content can be found by the search engines.

Now again, there are cheaper options using third party players and the Amazon cloud service. The thing that I like about Wistia is that it’s simple and if you don’t have a whole lot of videos, it just works.

Bottom Line

SEO is an awful lot of work regardless of whether you use these tools or not. That’s one of the reasons that people come to a company like Quantum SEO Labs to get the job done. But even if you use us to take care of your needs, you may still want to check out some of these tools because they can also be sued to see whether or not we’re providing you with the services we promise to provide. And of course, if you are a DIY type of person, these SEO tools are vital and can still be used in conjunction with some of our link building services.

by EricHammer, on       Comments are off for this post