Questions? Feedback? powered by Olark live chat software

The Future of SEO

Marketing podcast with TopRank’s Lee Odden

photo credit: Simon & His Camera via photopin cc

photo credit: Simon & His Camera via photopin cc

Does it makes sense for companies to invest in SEO as an independent activity? Can you influence search without content and social?

Those are some of the questions I asked Lee Odden, author of Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing and founder of TopRank Online Marketing for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.

I think it’s easy to say SEO is dead. Certainly it’s not practiced the way it once was but does it still have a place as a stand alone marketing practice.

The practical matter is that when you’re in a competitive environment it’s not enough to put up good content. There’s still a need for content and digital assets to align with keywords and that takes intention. Social media participation and authority are increasingly important so as Odden shares in this interview – “you’ve got to be doing it all.”

Content marketing is perhaps the future of SEO right now, but it’s not just content – it’s content marketing. The implication being that the content has a purpose and a specific intent.

Odden’s recent blog post titled – The Truth About Content Marketing and SEO makes this distinction very clear.

Optimized Is the New Integrated

Marketing podcast with Lee Odden (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Some years ago smart marketers latched onto the idea of something they referred to as integrated marketing. The idea behind this concept was to make all aspects of marketing such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing work together as a single force, rather than allowing each to work as a stand alone.

The concept made complete sense, but then something really big happened.

The relationship that our prospects have with our marketing communications has changed dramatically. Marketers are no longer in control of how a message is consumed, who consumes it, when they consume it or even who produced it in the first place.

Social media, search, TiVo, and little things like the “do not mail” list altered the practices of lead generations through broadcast marketing forever.

As marketers started to discover the new reality of the need to be found, a new word started to creep into the marketing lexicon – optimize. The term itself has been with us since the dawn of search and has been mostly applied to the practice of search engine optimization or SEO.

But now it must be applied more broadly than the notion of keyword rich content and high quality backlinks.

Today, every element of our marketing must be optimized to take advantage of the fact that it may indeed need to work in isolation.

This doesn’t throw off the notion of integration; every element of your marketing working in tandem is still a good thing. It adds, however, the reality that much of your marketing may be encountered in ways that you no longer control and every element must be able to do the job of moving a prospect forward on its own.

  • Today’s marketer must rely on outposts, such as social media networks, to open up new paths of entry for a prospect.
  • They must rely on educational content to draw the attention of those researching online.
  • They must participate in communities that exist for the sole purpose of building trust and providing proof.
  • They must optimize every brand asset and put them in places where prospects might stumble upon them.

Few marketers online have shared my longstanding belief about the optimization mindset so thoroughly as Lee Odden, publisher of the Top Rank Blog. Lee has been urging SEO types to embrace the marriage between search, social and content for as long as anyone I can remember.

This month Odden released what I think is an absolute must read for anyone that wonders about the practical realities of the new world of marketing. The book is simply titled – Optimize.

Optimize introduces the concept of the optimized mindset and in opinion says just as much about how you need to think about your business as being a guide for how to turn practical social media and content marketing advice into action.

Odden stopped by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast to talk about Optimize and the future of marketing online.

Here are just a few things that you need to consider in the optimized mindset:

  • Your listening, especially to your customers, must be optimized
  • Your brand assets, such as images and videos, must be optimized
  • Your content, tailored to serve specific purposes, must be optimized
  • Your customer experience, beginning with the end in mind, must be optimized
  • Your social media participation
  • Your product and service delivery
  • Your customer service
  • Your store or office
  • Your advertising
  • Your referral generation
  • Your public relations
  • Your sales system
  • Your partnerships
  • Your analytics

You see, integration isn’t enough anymore – Today’s marketing requires the optimization of every element and it’s a mindset as much as it is a tactic.

Wednesday Guest Stars

Here are your guest contributors for Wednesday’s edition of the Duct Tape Marketing Small Business Week iPad Giveaway.

Read each of the five posts that follow and click our entry form link to match the guest star with their post.

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a social media strategist, thinker, speaker and educator. SocialMediaExplorer.com is owned, co-authored and edited by Jason.  He also offers a question-and-answer and learning community at ExploringSocialMedia.com. Social Media Explorer is also the name of Falls’s consulting company which focuses on strategic counsel for medium and large companies in the realm of social media marketing, digital marketing, online communications and public relations.

Lee Odden

Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in strategic internet marketing consulting, training and implementation services including: Content, Search, Email and Social Media Marketing.  As an active thought leader in the search marketing industry, he’s contributed to top industry publications such as Mashable, iMedia Connection and Yahoo Search Marketing Blog along with publishing TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog.

Shama Kabani

Web and TV personality. Bestselling author. International Speaker. Award winning CEO of The Marketing Zen Group – a global digital marketing firm.  Shama is a bestselling author with her book -The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue.  When not working directly with her clients or shooting her show, Shama travels the world speaking on business, entrepreneurship, and technology.

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone is Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer of Outspoken Media, Inc and writes for the Outspoken Media Blog. She has been involved in the SEO community since 2006 and is widely known for her honest industry observations, her inability to not say exactly what she’s thinking, and her excessive on-the-clock twittering at @lisabarone.

Rae Hoffman-Dolan

Rae is the Principal of Sugarrae SEO Consulting and does various types of Internet marketing; search engine optimization, viral marketing, affiliate marketing, site auditing, link development road maps and tons of other little nooks and crannies of this business.  She is also the co-founder, co-owner and CEO of MFE Interactive in addition to being the co-owner and SVP of Marketing for Speedy Incorporation.

I Have a Web Site, What Else Should I be Doing Online 1

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone is Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer of Outspoken Media, Inc and writes for the Outspoken Media Blog. She has been involved in the SEO community since 2006 and is widely known for her honest industry observations, her inability to not say exactly what she’s thinking, and her excessive on-the-clock twittering at @lisabarone.

I Have a Web Site, What Else Should I be Doing Online 1

You should be doing what so many of your competitors are NOT doing – turning your attention toward building excitement around yourself and your brand.

First, begin growing the site’s presence by guest blogging on industry-relevant blogs to build your own authority as an expert, drive eyes to your site and to build those all-important links and relationships. Don’t start out targeting the A-listers, but the up-and-comers and the folks who appear just as hungry as you. Go through the same process on Twitter (you have one of those accounts, right?), using tools like Twitter Search, Twellow, and Tweepz to find like-minded Twitter users that you can follow and connect with. Get involved in Twitter chats, industry podcasts, and community events. The combination of reaching out in the blogosphere, on Twitter, and to your in-store customers will help you lay the groundwork of building a super awesome promotional army that you can push news too.

With your army intact, drive them wild with excitement, simultaneously building your brand karma by hosting or sponsoring a contest or event. It could be as simple as lending your name to something that’s already going on, giving away a product or gadget, hosting a Twitter party or something more old school like sponsoring a Late Night at your store where you stay open late and offer some cool (and URL-branded) giveaways and raffles. Because while having a Web site is great, taking the steps you need to build your promotional army to help you GROW that site is even better. Otherwise, yeah, nice Web site, dude. No one cares.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

I Have a Web Site, What Else Should I be Doing Online 2

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Rae Hoffman-Dolan

Rae is the Principal of Sugarrae SEO Consulting and does various types of Internet marketing; search engine optimization, viral marketing, affiliate marketing, site auditing, link development road maps and tons of other little nooks and crannies of this business. She is also the co-founder, co-owner and CEO of MFE Interactive in addition to being the co-owner and SVP of Marketing for Speedy Incorporation.

I Have a Web Site, What Else Should I be Doing Online 2

If you’re a local service based business, you may have noticed Google Places listings are steadily becoming a dominant force in the Google results for your most important local terms:

Various guides to optimizing Google Places listings agree that the reviews shown with your Places listing are an important part of getting to the top of those rankings. The reviews shown on your Places listing come from multiple sources across the web including big “local” sites like InsiderPages, Citysearch, Yelp as well as niche sites like Zagat and TripAdvisor and tons more. (Tip: click on your competitors’ listings to see additional sites their reviews are coming from.)

So the question becomes, how do you GET people to leave the reviews needed to rank well in Google for your local terms?

Create a “review page” on your website that links to all of your listing pages that you see being used in the reviews of your Places listing. Explain how you love providing great service and encourage customers to review your service.

Make customers aware of the review page via:

  • Business cards – on the back: “Love our service? Reward us by giving us an awesome review [link]“
  • Generic follow up emails – Check how they liked your service, ask for feedback – if the feedback is positive, suggest they might be interested in leaving a review [drop link]
  • Follow up when people leave positive traditional comment cards – thank them for their feedback and mention they can leave reviews about their experience online [drop link]
  • Add a “tell us how you found us” field to your contact form listing the biggest local review sites as options. Follow up with happy customers who say they found you via Yelp to remind them to leave their own review on the site [drop Yelp listing link]

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

I Have a Web Site, What Else Should I be Doing Online 3

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a social media strategist, thinker, speaker and educator. SocialMediaExplorer.com is owned, co-authored and edited by Jason. He also offers a question-and-answer and learning community at ExploringSocialMedia.com. Social Media Explorer is also the name of Falls’s consulting company which focuses on strategic counsel for medium and large companies in the realm of social media marketing, digital marketing, online communications and public relations.

I Have a Web Site, What Else Should I be Doing Online 3

The web is not a venue where, “if you build it, they will come.” You have to make sure your audience knows your website is there and that it can help them. Spend some time discovering where your customers and people like them are hanging out on the web. (Hint: Assuming you want twice as many of the types of customers you already have, why not ask them?) Do they read blogs? Are they Facebook users? Is Twitter their thing? When you start to see where it is the people you want to attract are, go there, participate in the community on those platforms and provide your insights and expertise (not your catalog) to build trust and attract people to want to know more about you.

That’s it! There’s no big mystery here. Find your audience, serve them well. Remind them occasionally you’re there to help when they need you. Provided your website leads people to clear calls-to-action that you’re measuring, do that and you’ll see your needles move.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

I Have a Web Site, What Else Should I be Doing Online 4

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Lee Odden

Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in strategic internet marketing consulting, training and implementation services including: Content, Search, Email and Social Media Marketing. As an active thought leader in the search marketing industry, he’s contributed to top industry publications such as Mashable, iMedia Connection and Yahoo Search Marketing Blog along with publishing TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog.

I Have a Web Site, What Else Should I be Doing Online 4

One of the most common forms of online marketing for small businesses is to have a website. The problem is, with today’s increasingly social and mobile web, a web site just isn’t enough.

To help website owners take full advantage of the most important online marketing opportunities, here are 3 things small businesses can do to attract and engage new customers.

Content Publishing & Marketing: Consumers are interacting with multiple content sources before purchase and businesses that provide useful information beyond product features and benefits can attract more traffic and referrals.

Tips, articles, videos and experts interviews provide customers with the information they need to buy and refer to others. Useful content optimized with keywords also attracts more search engine traffic and links.

Social Media & Networking – 90% of marketers say that social media is important for their business according to the 2011 Social Media Marketing Report. Word of mouth, referrals and buzz on social networks can increase awareness, build trust and influence sales.

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube offer useful platforms for small businesses to be helpful and share information with networks far beyond their customer base.

Local & Mobile – By 2014, mobile Internet will take over desktop Internet according to Microsoft Tag Lab. Small business websites can increase page views by offering a mobile friendly version of their website. They can also increase visibility on local search by making sure they’ve claimed their listings on Google Places and Bing Business Listings.

By integrating their web site investment with useful content, social media and local marketing efforts, small businesses can make sure they’re visible wherever their customers are looking and provide great reasons to refer even more new business.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

I Have a Web Site, What Else Should I be Doing Online 5

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Shama Kabani

Web and TV personality. Bestselling author. International Speaker. Award winning CEO of The Marketing Zen Group – a global digital marketing firm. Shama is a bestselling author with her book -The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue. When not working directly with her clients or shooting her show, Shama travels the world speaking on business, entrepreneurship, and technology.

I Have a Web Site, What Else Should I be Doing Online 5

Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step towards dominating the internet. You have a website that is well-designed, well-functioning, and most importantly well converting. (Correct?) Now, let’s look at 3 things that you can do to continue to market online.

1)     Create Compelling Content. There is a lot of noise on the internet. Don’t add to it. That being said, people still turn to the web to research, learn, and buy. It used to be that the loudest merchant in the bazaar won. Today, it’s the merchant that provides the most value and really takes the time to educate the consumers. Don’t let your website sit idle. Continue to create and post content that will provide value to your visitors.

2)     Keep in Touch with ALL Visitors. Well, almost all. If you’ve ever watched the classic “You’ve Got Mail!” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, then you remember the excitement on their faces each time AOL announced “You’ve got mail!”  There can never be a remake of the movie. Why? Because no one is that excited to get email today. Not you, not me, and you guessed it…not your customers. That isn’t to say that email marketing is no longer efficient. But, that you need to give your visitors and prospects options. Perhaps they can join your email list. But, can they also like your page on Facebook? How about follow you on Twitter? Or, subscribe to your blog? Once someone lands on your website, make sure that they have plenty of ways to keep in touch with you. And, most importantly, you with them.

3)     Leverage people as the media. Also known as social media. Every single customer or client has the potential of becoming a champion or a critic. And, you have the power to sway them. Use websites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to build a community around your audience.

Your website is a crucial piece of the web marketing puzzle. But, it is just the start!

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here