Larry BraunerSEO is an ongoing process. Yet, in some cases, there’s low hanging fruit to be picked, and much can be accomplished with remarkably little effort.

Wouldn’t you agree that it’s much much better if your content appears on the 1st page of Google than on the 2nd? I do hope you’re nodding your head yes with me.

Useful SEO Hack

Low Hanging SEO FruitHow much effort would be required to move from the 2nd page to the 1st page? That depends, but if your content is at the very top of the 2nd page, it only needs to move up one position, from 11th to 10th, to be at the bottom of the 1st page.

Moving your content from the 4th rank to the 3rd would make a greater difference but may not be achievable, and even if it is, it would require much more effort than moving from 11th to 10th, since the 10th isn’t as competitive as the 3rd.

So when your content ranks at or near the top of the 2nd page in Google or other search engines, nudging it up to the 1st page is low-hanging juicy SEO fruit that you mustn’t neglect to pick.

Larry BraunerI’ve recently been mulling over the opportunities, challenges and limitations associated with integrating social media across the enterprise in preparation for a major enterprise social media symposium to take place in Manhattan on July 21, at which I’ll be a roundtable moderator.

The purpose of this article is to provide food for thought and lend structure to future enterprise social media integration discussions.

Enterprise Social Media Opportunities

These enterprise social media opportunities seem to be key:

  • Greater Efficacy and Efficiency – To coordinate resources across the enterprise and across social media in order to achieve synergies and reduce duplication of effort and software acquisition.
  • Greater Consistency – To coordinate agendas and messages across the enterprise and across social media so that employees, customers and investors obtain consistent information.

Enterprise Social Media Challenges

Enterprise social media integration challenges fall into two categories:

  • Conceptualization – Developing a holistic array of social media strategies, techniques and best practices. Matching them to each unit in the enterprise.
  • Implementation – Training and managing the teams responsible for social media implementation. Coordinating the activities of all the units in the enterprise.

Enterprise Social Media Limitations

Obviously an enterprise will be limited by the quantity and capability of staff members and outside personnel it can devote to its social media endeavors.

However, a more absolute limitation to enterprise social media integration is that no two units within an enterprise will have identical agendas or publics. Conversations with an investing public will differ drastically from those with employees or potential customers. Therefore, sharing Twitter accounts, Facebook pages or other social media channels among units will rarely make sense.

Conclusion

Social media integration can be beneficial for the enterprise provided that challenges can be overcome and major pitfalls can be avoided.

Larry BraunerSeveral colleagues have asked that I share my experiences and thoughts about Google Friend Connect on this blog. So as to humor these fellows and show them that I can — at least on occasion — be thoroughly amicable and completely reasonable, I’ve acceded to their demands.

Google Friend Connect or GFC is a set of widgets or gadgets, as Google calls them, that you install on any website or blog site, in order to develop a community of users and fans on that site.

If you aren’t familiar with Google Friend Connect, it would be worthwhile to take several minutes right now to check out a CrunchBase blog post on Google Friend Connect or, if you prefer something much more terse, try the Wikipedia article on the same subject.

Here are ten of my personal Google Friend Connect observations:

  1. While the official Google Friend Connect instructions are not totally adequate, the GFC gadgets aren’t  too difficult to install, at least not on a blog site sidebar.
  2. It happens infrequently that the Google Friend Connect gadgets can’t be installed on a website because of a script conflict. I haven’t found a way to work around this problem, but I’m still on the lookout for a solution.
  3. Once gadgets installed, visitors to your site begin joining, almost if by magic.
  4. As with Facebook pages, you can actually see who your members are and reach out to them if you choose.
  5. The rate at which people join is lower than I would have expected, yet slow and steady, they do keep joining. I suspect that too few people understand what Google Friend Connect is.
  6. The single most valuable feature of Google Friend Connect is the website newsletter. Make sure you click the check box in the newsletter tab that reads: “Ask visitors to subscribe immediately after their first sign-in.” A high percentage of your site’s GFC members will elect to receive email updates from you.
  7. Another valuable feature of Google Friend Connect is member polling that helps you learn about your members and their preferences. You can download your data into a spreadsheet to analyze.
  8. The Google Friend Connect comment box enables members to have discussions with you and with each other. I’ve only installed it on blogs so far. Since visitors can comment on individual blog posts, I don’t feel that the gadget has added much to these sites. I’m looking forward to installing it on a site that has no blog in the very near future.
  9. If you log into Google sometimes using one account and other times using another, your Google Friend Connect membership may suffer a split personality. Unfortunately, there isn’t even a name yet for this disorder. GFC gives you so many ways to connect that you can easily become fragmented.
  10. I originally joined Google Friend Connect because I believed it might help with my search engine optimization. I reasoned that any data that Google owned, they ought to use to assist their search algorithms. I have no proof, but my analysis leads me to believe that they are in fact using these data. If they aren’t, they might in the future. In any case, considering the brand building benefits of GFC, you can look at search influence as a possible plus.

I highly recommend Google Friend Connect. While it won’t totally transform your website, GFC will make it more social.

Please join Google Friend Connect on my blog’s right sidebar.

Larry BraunerThe Business Development Institute and New York University are hosting a meeting of The Search and Social Leadership Forum in Midtown Manhattan next Thursday to discuss some of the opportunities and issues surrounding the integration of social and search.

The search and social symposium will be attended by top marketing and communications leaders from large brands. It’s my good fortune to have been invited to participate as a social media and SEO evangelist. I will not, however, be speaking at this event.

To learn more about the Search and Social Leadership Forum or sign up, please visit the event’s web page. Hope to see you there.

Larry BraunerA blog site is any website, which has been created and is managed with a blog tool like WordPress — even if that website has no blog at all.

WordPress is called a content management system or a CMS. WordPress was originally developed for the blogging community to make it easy to set up blogs and update blog content. This blog and my other one, Online Social Networking, are both WordPress blog sites.

Over time, WordPress has evolved into a general purpose web development platform. WordPress enables you to create a blog, a conventional web site or a combination of both.

Joomla is another such content management system, but it’s less popular than WordPress and more difficult to use, according to many people.

WordPress Blog Sites for Small Business

WordPress Blog SitesEase of use and flexibility make WordPress an excellent selection for your next blog site, either for your small business or for personal use.

WordPress is so ideal for small businesses that a great number of web developers have started using it to power their clients’ websites.

There’s no cost for using the WordPress content management system, but you’ll have to host your blog site yourself, or as I do, pay a web hosting service $5 to $10 per month to host it for you.

Although WordPress is easy to use, setting it up can be complex, especially if customization is desired. I recommend that a social media consultant, myself or another, set your blog site up for you and show you how to add content and maintain the site.

You’ll be able to manage your blog site by yourself without enormous effort and won’t require a webmaster — unless, of course, you prefer a hands-off approach.

Say good-bye to expensive web developers and big-ticket websites. Say hello to WordPress blog sites, affordable online homes for small businesses.

Larry BraunerI don’t intend to compete with Wikipedia and provide you with a precise technical definition of social media.

I prefer to keep my definition of social media short, simple and hopefully usable. “Social” refers to people and to their interaction.  “Media” are means of transmitting information.

People are transmitting, i.e., sharing information.

Social media — or social media sites — are online venues, such as social networking sites, blogs and wikis that enable people to store and share information called content, such as text, pictures, video and links.

People are creating the content for social media, and to that extent, the media belongs to people and not just to publishing companies.

I didn’t mean to imply by my article, Best Ways to Use Social Media for SEO, that social media is part of SEO. Rather, search engines help to locate content on the web, and social media aid search engines in that process.

Social media sites are all about communication and relationships. In advertising, content is king. In social media, content is very valuable, but relationships are king.

Let’s communicate. Please leave me a comment — and subscribe to my blog.

Oh, just one more thing. When you write about social media, why not link to this blog post when you first use the terms social media or social media sites in your article? ;-)

Larry BraunerI wrote this past week about how Social Media Marketing Impacts SEO.

There are essentially three ways that posting your content in social media can increase your brand’s visibility in search engine result pages:

  1. Your content itself ranks well in searches for your designated keyword phrases.
  2. Your content provides backlinks to other content which as a result performs better in searches.
  3. Your content engages people whose backlinks and online conversation help your content perform better in searches.

Ideally, when you would post your content in social media, all three benefits would be obtained. In practice, sometimes you achieve this objective; many times you do not:

Being virtually everywhere (pun intended) is a powerful strategy, so do not reject key social media venues just because they don’t help you achieve all your social and search objectives.

However, it is desirable to accomplish all three objectives with one action when possible, and here are some tips that can help:

  • Post on Amplify and Posterous, all-in-one blogging, micro-blogging and social bookmarking sites, rank well in search and feature both dofollow links and member interaction. They can also syndicate your content to a variety of social media sites.
  • Your blogs and online social networks, such as Ning sites, that you control can potentially help with all three objectives. It depends on the extent to which they influence both search engines and fellow humans. You can also set them up to syndicate your content.
  • Leave good comments on influential dofollow blogs in your brand’s niche, if you can find any. Most popular high PageRank blogs are nofollow. Always be careful not to spam.

My other blog, Online Social Networking, is dofollow. This blog isn’t — at least not for now. I suggest that you not let that stop you from commenting and subscribing. ;-)

Larry BraunerIn The 4 Elements of Social Media Monetization, I advised that you “take stock of your social media assets and monetize them with suitable products or services.”

Following my own advice, I recognized that my combined expertise, influence and traffic are nearly a perfect fit for marketing business networking sites, groups and events, something that I’ve in fact thought about in passing before.

While my other blog, Online Social Networking, dominates searches related to online networking, it also ranks very high in the search engines for business networking keyword phrases and therefore receives ample business networking traffic, as well.

Considering the business networking traffic potential of my blog, my social media marketing expertise and my increasing online influence, promoting business networking sites, groups and events on the Internet is a sensible way for me to leverage my web presence and the experience that came with building it.

Contact me to learn more about my new business networking marketing and branding service can help you.

Larry BraunerAre you a web consultant or entrepreneur looking for ways you can monetize social media?

If you think about it, there are really only four social media assets that you can package and sell to customers:

  1. Time – Your time and the time of others. Virtual assistants primarily sell time coupled with a moderate level of expertise.
  2. Expertise – Your expertise and others’. I’m including valuable skills and special abilities here with expertise. Consultants sell expertise coupled with time.
  3. Influence – Your influence and others’. Having influence, you can move people to take action and sell endorsements to advertisers.
  4. Traffic – Your web traffic and others’. Sell it to advertisers or use it yourself.

All that you provide as a social media consultant or marketer aggregates these four elements in some way. Considering each an asset, the more of each you have, the more you’re worth and are able to offer your clients.

It follows that if you want to increase your business worth as a social media consultant or marketer, you must increase your inventory of the four basic elements:

  1. Time – You can sub-contract, work more or become more efficient.
  2. Expertise – You can research and learn more or build a team with diverse backgrounds.
  3. Influence – You can brand yourself more or collaborate through strategic alliances and joint ventures.
  4. Traffic – You can add content, increase your influence, refine your SEO, enhance your marketing or, once again, collaborate.

Work to increase your supply of the four basic elements with both short- and long-term objectives in mind. I’m working to increase all four but especially influence and traffic.

Take stock of your social media assets and monetize them with suitable products or services and, if you think you and I can collaborate, let’s talk.

Don’t forget to comment and subscribe. ;-)

Larry BraunerKnow a business that’s hesitating to dive into social media marketing or the web?

I want to share with you a little gem I found in Learning by analogy, an article by Seth Godin, author of the new and very popular Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

By the time there is a case study in your specific industry, it’s going to be way too late for you to catch up.

When a novel opportunity arises, you can’t afford to wait for others to explain it to you. You must seize it and leverage your experience and knowledge from past situations to plod your way through the new one, formidable as it might seem.

Otherwise, your competitors will, and you’ll find yourself behind the curve, unable to catch up. What if in past years your company had been one of the few left that had no phone, copy machine, fax, word processing, computer or email? Try to imagine that.

Getting back to marketing, how will the Yellow Pages help once people no longer let their “fingers do the walking through” them or newspapers, once they are no longer “fit to print?”

That time is very much upon us.  Look around you. Even the Yellow Pages, newspapers and magazines are scrambling to build their presences on the web.

Yes, the time for social media marketing and the web is now — ready or not!

Larry BraunerThe Internet and social media marketing are helping small business owners to level the playing field and compete more favorably with their larger counterparts.

To compete online, a business needs to invest in developing, optimizing and promoting websites. Online advertising costs money and, as I wrote earlier this week, Social Media Marketing is NOT Free either.

However, the cost and risk associated with doing business online are tiny compared with those of running a brick and mortar business, such as a Macy’s or an H&R Block.

Building an offline presence like that of Macy’s or H&R Block could stretch the resources of many large businesses. On the other hand, building a powerful online presence using social media marketing and search should be affordable, even for small businesses.

Offline, less is more, but online, bigger is er — bigger. There’s no limit to how large you can build your web presence.

Now, one little favor — forget the Super Bowl ad you were intending to place for your small business and make the check payable to yours truly. You can expect a stronger return on your investment. ;-)

Larry BraunerIf you and your organization are having difficulty justifying the high cost of social media marketing, consider this new and compelling factor:

Social media is increasingly influencing your visibility in the search engines. Businesses that fall behind in social media marketing could soon start noticing a reduction in their search engine traffic.

I wrote last year in The Long Tail and Social Media and Social Media vs. Search Engine Optimization about ways in which your social media marketing can be helped by search engines.

Shortly thereafter, I discussed in The NEW Search Engine Optimization some of the effects that social media marketing can have on your SEO and on your web presence. Now that the topic of social and search is gaining traction, I’m revisiting it, and I present to you a brief summary of social and search issues and benefits.

Dubious Value of Backlinks

The use of social data by search engines isn’t something new. Backlinks can be regarded as a form of social data. Search engines have for many years relied exclusively upon inbound links to evaluate a site’s authority. A well known criterion derived from the analysis of inbound links is Google Page Rank.

Backlinks are, however, of somewhat dubious value, since they often result from non-organic gray- and black-hat link-building techniques, such as link exchange, outright link purchase, blog-comment spam and spam blogs.

Social Media Content Authentic

Social media content is growing exponentially. Social content can be mined for useful data, and it will be. Social media sites and blogs yield data that’s authentic, and which coupled with backlinks, promises to more adequately measure a page’s authority.

Social media data may also enable search engines to return results that are more personalized.

Social Media Generates Backlinks

Not only can data from social media complement backlinks, social media itself can generate valuable backlinks to your website. Your blog posts, your comments on dofollow blogs and your content on dofollow social media sites, such as Amplify and Posterous, can all link back to your website.

However, the potential for backlinks doesn’t end there. Your participation in social media will attract genuine backlinks from within your communities.

Social Media Appears in Search Results

Search engines are indexing more and more social media content. Your content on social media sites appears in search engine results and can receive traffic from them. Your backlinks contained in that content, even if nofollow, permit visitors to click through to your website.

Furthermore, when your content is returned in search engine result pages, it occupies a slot that might have otherwise been occupied by a competitor.

Consider the numerous ways in which social media marketing can help search, and you might find it easier to justify costs, even if you cannot satisfactorily estimate social media ROI.

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