What is Edge Rank

EdgeRank is an algorithm created by Facebook that governs what is displayed on FB, and how high it shows in the news feed.

An Edge is anything that “happens” on Facebook. Ex. comments, likes, shares, status updates. Essentially, an action that occurs on FB is considered an Edge.

EdgeRank ranks Edges in the news feed. The Edges with the highest rank calculation will appear the highest in the news feed.

The EdgeRank algorithm is driven by three main measurement factors:

1. Affinity: the strength of a one-way relationship between a User and an Edge. Affinity is built by repeat interaction/ engagement with an Edge.

2. Weight: the general rule is that the Edges that take the most time to complete tend to have the greatest weighting. Ex. a comment is going to have a greater weight than a Like.

3. Time Decay: this refers to the amount of time the Edge has been alive. The older the Edge the more value it loses. This is FB’s way of keeping the news feed current and live with current UGC. Choose your post time wisely.


In 2007, a FB representative said in an interview that only about 0.2% of eligible stories actually make it into a user’s news feed. That means that your status update is competing with 499 other stories for a single slot in a user’s newsfeed.

Now that you understand how the facebook EdgeRank algorithm works, re-evaluate your social content strategy. Make sure your posts spark engagement, are sent during high volume traffic periods, that it is relevant to your target audience, and that you are responsive to all forms of post engagement.

Learn some new ways to build engagement on your facebook page

Thoughts?

Google Authorships evolved a few years ago, but it has grown in importance as Google continues to connect search results with its products. Such changes include the migration of Google places into Google +, and the transition of Google docs into Google Drive. As we see Google + social signals apparently weighing more heavily in Google search algorithms, I think it is a safe bet to say that Google authorship will grow in importance as both a conversion and ranking factor.

What is Google Authorship?

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As you can see above, this search result has a picture of a man (the author) next to it. These avatars are beginning to pop up more and more in search results pages. Authorship allows content curators to claim their content and build credibility, as well as it allows search engine users to find more content written by the same person. Many industry experts are saying that Google Authorship is the first step towards verifying author identity, and establishing author rank, which is projected to be a major future search algorithm update.

The advantages of Google Authorship…

1. Personalization and Trust: People love to be able to put a name and face with a piece of content. Further, readers realize that an author is not going to put their name next to a piece of spammy, irrelevant information. Thus, authorship helps you build credibility and trust in the SERPs.

2. Build your social following: Having the +1 social signal embedded in the meta description of the search result allows the users to click through to the author’s profile and find out more about them, and the company they work for. A nice marketing strategy when it comes to developing industry credibility and positioning yourself as a thought leader.

3. Higher conversion rates: The avatar allows your webpage to stand out on SERPs, and with the added element of trust and credibility more people are likely to click-through to your website or social properties. Another inbound marketing win!

4. More credible backlinks: With the introduction of Penguin update, Google has clamped down on backlink quality. But, with authorship, instead of receiving domain links, content can now get ‘human’ links. As people link to content, that contents credibility and weight in the search engines increases. It makes sense, if people are linking to content it must be legitimate, from a social standpoint, as just like the authors, readers aren’t going to want to be linked to spammy, thin content.

5. Authorship Analytics: At the end of 2012, Google launched the Authorship Analytics platform which allows users to monitor the number of impressions and click-through rate of their content. This is invaluable from a content marketing, and SEO perspective, as authors are able to test and see which content their readers are digesting the most.

Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, stated that content with a Google + profile attached to it is going to rank better than content that does not have a profile tied to it. As social signals continue to drive search algorithm updates, Google look set to give more weight to content that has natural (human) backlinks. Building SERP rank, and credibility is critical to any brand or content curator. Google Authorship should be a part of any brand’s digital marketing strategy.

Set up your Google authorship markup.

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What is a Meta Description?

Meta descriptions are concise explanations of the content people will find on web pages. See the example below:

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This is a meta description for the PGA Tour website. You can see that it previews the type of content that you will find on that particular webpage. Meta descriptions are not an important search engine ranking factor, however they do have a significant impact on the click-through rate of search engine results pages (SERP). These short snippets give webmasters the opportunity to advertise the exact type of content that a reader will be able to find on the webpage. It is often a snippet of content from the webpage itself.

Meta descriptions should contain relevant keywords related to the copy that is found on the webpage. The information in the meta description should be compelling, and entice the reader to click through to find out more. According to SeoMoz, the met description should be between 150-160 characters, after that the description gets truncated, and you may the chance to communicate valuable information to your readers. Keep it concise and keyword relevant.

Some SEO best practices to consider then writing your meta tags:

+ Keep in mind that seach engines will bold the text in the meta description that was used in the user’s search query. Keep this in mind when optimizing long-tail keywords in your meta tags.

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For example, above you can see the words Zoo and Boise that have been bolded. My search phrase was “Boise zoo”.

+ Keep your meta description unique for each webpage. We don’t want to confuse the search engines, we want to make indexing as easy as possible.

+ Quotes cut off descriptions. When you include the double quotations around words this cuts out the words inside those quotations. Instead, include single quotations around words if you have to use them. This is important to remember, you don’t want to inadvertently remove keywords from you meta descriptions.

Conclusion:

Keep it concise, include natural keyword flow, and do not use double quotations. Use relevant keywords that accurately describe the content that will be found on the webpage, and you will be boosting your webpage click-through rate in no time!

Thoughts/ opinions?

No matter whether you are a product or a service business, you need to be using landing pages in order to build conversions.

Many business owners think that their homepage is their landing page. This is a critical error, and completely undermines the purpose of landing pages: conversions. For example, imagine if you are sending qualified leads to your homepage to convert (buy your product), they will land there and have no means by which to satisfy their need (purchase), and will likely bounce off your page.

Landing pages are built with the sole objective of converting those people that land on them. This conversion could be signing up for an email, registering for a contest, entering a draw, or purchasing a product. But, the main takeaway here is that landing pages should be optimized for a specific target audience. Your marketing efforts will hopefully drive qualified leads to these pages, where they will eventually convert.

In order to create an effecting landing page, you need solid structure. Here are the main ingredients you will need to build an effective landing page and generate more conversions:

1. Main Headline

  • Top of the page
  • Compelling. E.g State Farm Insurance – “See why 40 million drivers trust us”
  • Sole purpose is to capture interest and get people reading more

2. Related sub-heading

  • This should support and further explain the promise/ message in your main header
  • It should get people to keep looking
  • Keep it short and sweet. A couple sentences is usually enough to maintain interest.

3. Differentiation

  • Provide a bulleted list of attributes/ features that make your product/service better than the competition
  • Outline how your solution solves the reader’s problem

4. Visual Testament

  • Embed a photo or video that shows real-life customers benefiting from your offering
  • Distill comfort in the fact that your product will solve their problem

5. Call-to-Action

  • This is most critical element of the landing page
  • Be clear and concise
  • Display the CTA prominently (above the fold)
  • Make it clear what the person is signing up for

6. Testimony

  • At the bottom of the page include actual client testimony (include profile image), or a list of current clients to build credibility

Conclusion:

Always make sure the content you are including on your landing pages is relevant to the anchor text and search queries linking to them. In other words, make sure the content and purpose of the page is mapped directly to the keywords linking to them. This way, you will be delivering targeted traffic to your pages, increase your chances of converting, and reduce those nasty unwanted bounce rates.

Also, check out Unbounce’s 7 elements of a winning landing page for a template landing page design and further best practices.

Let me know you thoughts????

Long-tail search refers to online searches that include three or more keywords. These search strings are typically very targeted. And, there is a reason for this.

Today, there is so much competition for every type of keyword you could imagine, or more specifically, for those short-tail keywords. For example, imagine if you did a Google search for the keyword phrase, “Titleist drivers” (golf product), you would be hit with thousands of search results, many of which wouldn’t be directly relevant to you. Now, try “Titleist D4 Drivers less than $300″. Your search results will be considerably less, and that is because you have use a long-tail search, that is very targeted, with additional search parameters. 

Today, online searchers usually know exactly what they are looking for, and with search engine algorithms being more advanced than ever, they can type in targeted search queries without having to open the advanced search bar!

What does this mean?

Anyone wishing to rank online needs to be aware of the potential of optimizing for long-tail search. 

Why?

Because it is the key to attracting targeted traffic. When your customers, or readers, type in a targeted search phrase and land on your page, Google has put them there for a reason, the landing page is optimized for that search query. And, we both know, targeted traffic leads to higher conversion rates. 

Another point to note here is that long-tail keywords attract less competition. Meaning you have a greater chance of ranking highly in SERPs when using long-tail keywords. This is crucial when you consider that 90% of search traffic is gained on the first search page. For example, the search phrase “digital marketing” attracts 987 million search results. The search phrase “types of digital marketing” delivers only 46,900,000 search results, still a lot, but considerably less than the first search phrase. Keep this in mind when you are thinking of blog content.

Remember, for less-competitive, highly targeted traffic, think about incorporating long-tail keywords into your digital marketing strategy.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization.

The name says it all. SEO is the practice of making sure your website is ranking across search engine ranking pages.

For the sake of this article we are going to talk about SERP in the context of business websites. Even today, many businesses think that if they simply create a website, buy a branded domain name and tell their friends, they will get traffic. The age old adage of “If I build it, they will come”. This is not true, in fact, it’s quite comical. If you were to launch a website without a solid SEO strategy your site would sit in oblivion.

Its not enough to publish a website, you need an SEO strategy. And, luckily for you, SEO doesn’t have to be tedious and expensive. Any entrepreneur can own their SEO strategy with a little discipline and hard work.

I am an entrepreneur myself, and recently took it upon myself to research and discover what makes a website rank well across the major search engines. Here are tips to help you get your website ranked, and build your traffic volume.

CONTENT:

We’ve all heard the adage, “content is king”. Well folks, with the recent updates to Google’s Panda algorithm, this adage is more relevant and true than ever. Quality content is now one of leading rank factors for websites across all major search engines. If you don’t curate unique, relevant, quality content, you will never see the first page of Google, and consequently you will miss over 80% of potential online traffic. Ouch!

Why is content important?

Well, at the end of the day the answer to this question rests largely with “keywords”. These days, search engine spiders crawl millions of webpages every second based on the query strings people are searching with. If you want your website to show up at the top of the results page for a given search query you’d better make sure your content contains the relevant keywords. For example, if you own a property management company in Boise Idaho, you will definitely want your copy to contain the keyword phrases “Boise Property Management”, “Boise rentals”, and “Boise Property Management Services”, to name a few. If it doesn’t, your site will not rank for these keywords.

Now, if you want to research and see what keywords you should be ranking on, check out Google AdWords keyword tool. This will allow  you to see the search volumes surrounding particular keywords (broad and exact searches at the local level), and even find new keywords that you should consider optimizing for. But, before you use this tool, make a list of at least 10 keywords you would like to rank on, and then use this as a base to start your keyword research.

Now what do I do?

Once you have a defined list of keywords, it is time to start incorporating them into the content of your website, and marketing efforts. Be sure to include relevant keywords in your site content, title tags, meta description and heading tags. If possible, infuse a major keyword into your URL, and image alt text (spiders are unable to read images).

Caution: this is maybe one of the biggest errors SEOs make – do not stuff keywords, and make sure that keywords are relevant to the page content.

Ten years ago people could get away with stuffing their content full of every single keyword they could think of. This was a result of the now obsolete notion of keyword density. Now, Google will crush you. Each keyword you include should relate to the page content, and flow naturally. Google’s algorithm now actually checks to make sure that the content is not only relevant, but that the copy makes sense.

Other basics to consider:

Social Media Optimization: A solid content strategy should also be the centerpiece of your social media strategy, not matter what platform you are using. People are not only using search engines as means of finding quality content, they are now able to target specific content by following branded social pages. This is particularly true for blogs. Companies use this platform to curate and share valuable content. The more valuable, and relevant this content is, the more engagement it attracts. Here in lies the opportunities. If companies are able to generate traffic inflow to their blog, they are able to use this social property as a touch point that builds credibility, and acts as a vehicle to to generate targeted inbound traffic to their website. This traffic is driven through keyword anchor text. People click on a link and it takes them to a relevant landing page that facilitates conversion. Here, you can see how tightly, content, SEO, and landing page optimization tie into lead generation and conversion optimization, the lifeblood of every business.

+ Fresh is Best: Make sure you content is continually refreshed, updated, re-optimized to counteract the content decay. In a sense, its similar to facebook’s edgerank algorithm that penalizes old content. As engagers, we like the newest, freshest information out there. So, make sure you content is unique, and remains relevant. This takes discipline.

+ Ad-to-content Ration: Make sure you have more quality owned content on your site, than you do paid ads. A hid ad-to-content ratio will make search engines view your content as “thin” and penalize you for that.

+ Guest blog/ backlinks: this is a great way to position your brand as a thought leader and build engagement with other relevant influencers in your industry. If you are able to develop backlinks from these credible sources you rank will skyrocket. Make sure to have your backlinks contain keyword anchor text that are relevant to content on the landing page they are linking to. This element is crucial to any type of linking strategy.

+ Landing Pages: make sure your destination landing pages are relevant to the inbound anchor text source. If it is not, you will be penalized, and your customers will not like the fact that they were directed to a page that does not answer their question, or satisfy their need. This is bad!

These are just some aspects of SEO that everyone should be aware of. As you begin you SEo quest, you will start to see how everything comes back to your content strategy when it comes to SEO – from keywords, to tagging, to inbound anchor text, to call-to-action, everything comes back to content. So make this your SEO start point.

Cheers, and let me know what you think, or tell me something I don’t know. I want to know ;)

I think every business student should have a solid grasp of key accounting principles, no matter what major they are pursuing. Such an understanding not only aids understanding about essential business operations and how they relate to profitability and long-run success, but they are also valuable in everyday life!

Here are some important ones:

+ Accrual Basis: the accounting process whereby revenues are recorded as earned, while expenses are recorded as incurred.

+ Cash Basis: revenues are recorded when cash is received, and records expenses when cash is paid. For a business invoicing for an item sold, or work done, the corresponding amount will not appear in the books until payment is received – and similarly, debts owed by the business will not appear until they have been paid.

+ Accrued Revenues: revenues that have been earned and recorded, but are yet to be collected. These become receivables.

+ Accrued Expenses: Unpaid expenses that have already been incurred. These become payables.

+ Book Value: Cost minus accumulated depreciation. This is the net amount at which an asset is reported on the balance sheet.

+ Adjusting Process: updating balances at the end of an accounting period in order to reflect the true balance for revenues and expenses.

+ Adjusted Trial Balance: A trial balance prepared after adjusting entries have been prepared and posted to the ledger.

+ Depreciation: the allocation of cost of a long term asset over its useful life. Straight-line depreciation is a common method.

+ Fiscal year: A one-year accounting period that does not correspond with the calendar year. Differs based on industry.

+ Matching Principle: match revenues with expenses and record them simultaneously within the same accounting period.

+ Periodicity Assumption: accounting assumption that breaks the business cycle into periodic intervals, alas the income statement.

+ Prepaid Expenses: goods/services that are purchased before their consumption. They are assets until consumed.

+ Unearned Revenue: Revenue that has been collected in advance of providing a good/service. A liability until earned.

+ Asset: an economic resource that is owned by a company.

+ Liability: an obligation that arises from past transactions or events.

 

These are just a few, but its a great place to get started. Check out this link for a great resource that gives fundamental concepts and interactive learning aids.

Email marketing has a mixed reputation. Some people think it is great as a CRM or loyalty tool, others think it is effective as a lead nurturing channel, while others believe it is simply archaic, obsolete in the continually changing world of digital marketing.

I believe there is a time and place for everything. And, email is no exception.

Today, I have chosen to concentrate on the email marketing channel as it relates to lead generation: the first stage in the customer conversion cycle. Here are some tips to optimize your lead generation efforts using the email channel:

+ Use incentives in your subject line to increase open rates. For example, “Free shipping when you spend $25 or more.”

+ Keep your email copy concise and to the point. I recommend keeping you copy to under 100 words, or three short paragraphs.

+ Keep your call-to-action (CTA) and key message above the fold.

+ Keep your email width to 500-650 pixels, any wider and people will gave to scroll horizontally to read your message. Don’t do it!

+ Keep your subject lines short – no more than 40 characters. Also, make sure your subject line creates urgency and is related to the core message or offering in your email.

+ Use auto-responders for email opt-ins. Let’s face it, people forget when they opt-in for emails. According to Hubspot, auto-repsonder emails should be sent out at 1 day, 5 days and 10 days after the person registers. Each auto-responder email should be unique, and offer bonus material to reward those that opted in. Most ESPs allow you to set up triggered email campaigns.

+ Always tie emails to custom landing pages. This is a big one when it comes to conversions. Email headline, copy and content should match the landing page. It is important to track which combinations perform the best and equate to the most conversions.

+ People should be able to open your email and “get it” within 5 seconds, any longer and you aren;t being concise enough, or your value proposition is not clear.

+ NEVER try to sell anything in your first email contact. The purpose of the first lead email contact is to leave the reader wanting to know more. An inquisitive click is essentially a warm lead. If people don’t want to know more, they wouldn’t have bought from you in the first place.

+ Incorporate a content strategy centered around educational value. If you can demonstrate thought leadership early on the buying cycle you will have that much more influence and credibility when it comes to the conversion stage.

+ Include Alt and Title text. This text should contain a CTA, as well as a link to a landing page.

+ Avoid legal action by making sure that you are following all CAN-SPAM laws. Include a physical mailing address, notification that the communication is an advertisement, and an unsubscribe link.

+ “Cash” and “sale” are examples of SPAM-sensitive words and should be avoided as much as possible in email copy.

+ Personalize communications with variable merge tags that populate personal data in the email body, such as *|FNAME|*. This is particularly important for retention purposes.

+ Always include links to your social media, blog, website and any other owned sources that may derive value for your readers and/or enhance your credibility.

+ Sharing icons can be valuable in terms of building reach. But, be careful with the content you choose to amplify.

+ Try and repeat your CTA 3 times throughout the body of the email.

+ Try writing your email before the subject line to improve the relevance of your subject line.

Lead generation is a delicate practice. Follow best practices, and implement a solid content strategy and you’ll be converting in no time!

Before we start I want to iterate two words: SOCIAL MEDIA.

Like most of the billion people that make up today’s Facebook community, I follow certain brand pages. Yet, it amazes me how many brands fail to recognize the fact that their brand page is SOCIAL. I mean, isn’t it ironic to consider that 95% of Facebook wall posts are not answered by brands?!

Unfortunately, many brands are using Facebook as primarily a self-promotion platform, scattering their page with product links, telling their followers (short term) all about their product or service. This is a big mistake.

Facebook is a powerful tool that can increase leads, build awareness, and facilitate conversions, if handled correctly. I believe that brands should base their social content strategy on the 70/20/10 model. Seventy percent of content should be engaging, 20% should be educational, and the remaining 10% should be reserved for self-promotion. Bottom line, brands need to use Facebook as a tool to listen to, and connect with their audience. After all, the brand extends far beyond that of product positioning or sales strategy. Every brand need to recognize that their is a human element, quite possibly more important that any other brand element when it comes to the long term sustainability of a business’ bottom line.

Why? Because it is the social – or human – element of a brand that ultimately builds connection, and it is this connection that fosters loyalty, which my friends, is the key ingredient to growing life time customer value.

The reasoning is simple, we all like to be heard, and we all like to know that our feedback, or opinion, is valued. Social channels allow brands to listen to their consumers.

Social channels are engagement channels. Here are some examples of how you can engage with your customers, build a connection, grow a community, and create a brand image that has a loyal following:

+ Be responsive to customers. Golden Rule: show you are listening by responding within 24hrs.

+ Poll your audience for fun, or research

+ Humorous jokes and images – Photoshop is gold here, take at look at Grubhub and Seamless FB pages

+ Ask your audience to fill in the caption on a photo

+ Word association games can be fun – when I say “………”, you say “_________” ?

+ Create and post events

+ Facilitate User-generated content (UGC). For example, ask members to post photos/ content to your wall

+ Always recognize competition winners

+ Post photos of employees so they can meet the team ( really personalize the brand)

+ Post case studies and testimonials

+ Provide product or service tips that provide value and are related to the benefit your business offers

+ Ask poll questions and publish the results

These are just some ideas. But you get the picture. The word of the day here is engagement. This should be the primary goal. Brands need to provide a platform by which they exude a persona, because without it you will not be able to build a relationship with your customers, and without that relationship it is hard to build loyalty, and without loyalty, lets face it, customers are going elsewhere, in a hurry!

Let me know your thoughts?