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Evangelizing SEO within an organization

Evangelism about SEO in an organization and spreading the word in a “grass-roots” sort of way is something that is very hard to do. I always think about it and get excited over the fact that I can make a difference and become a “thought leader” for an organization. The truth is, the evangelism of SEO within a traditional organization or small business can be painful.

I’ve been faced with this a couple times at organizations and while sometimes it is great and can lead to tremendous success, other times, it ends up just being a painful battle without any change.

So, basically I wanted to run through some of the things that I have done to try to get people excited about SEO and Search Marketing. I would call it by “Top 5 tips for SEO Evangelism,” but I don’t want to seem to cliche. (Oh darn, I already did!)

TALK TO PEOPLE! – This is by far, the most important rule that I have given myself. Get people in the know about SEO. (excuse my cliche sounding rhyme’s!…lol). Bring up topics going on in search, throw out numbers about how search is growing in popularity. SEOMoz does this well by putting quotes from well known articles on their homepage, these are things that you can total mention to people within your organization and hopefully build buzz. The main goal and hopefully you can get this going is to have people talking about SEO/SEM to each other.

Baby Steps – On the marketing and creative side we tend to see a lot of “ownership” around pages. They don’t want major changes to be made. So start with small things like meta tag, title tag and page naming changes in that could help certain keywords without changing your messaging or content.

Web Standards – Work closely with your web development teams to get better at coding. WATCH OUT THOUGH, YOU BETTER KNOW YOUR STUFF! Do not attempt to make it an attack. Evangelize it, that is what this is all about, spreading thoughts, knowledge and wisdom to other teams for the overall good (sounds like i am trying to save the world a bit??). Anyway, to get to the point, you basically want to get people thinking they should be standards compliant, ensuring the design elements are CSS based and that your HTML is read like a document. This allows for better site crawlability and your HTML will be read better by spiders.

Make Suggestions – Take a risk and go out on a limb by putting in thoughtful input whenever possible. Some things I have done with this is made statements in meetings about the amount of searches there are for a certain keyword or phrase that we could be capitalizing on.

Use Analytics to your advantage – This will help put everything together. Give you an unbelievable amount of data to take back to your colleagues and counterparts. Oh and guess what else this gives you?! We all know that the “Big Wigs” like seeing the numbers quickly and to the point, so this is a great way to evangelize your successes, no matter how BIG your “big wig” is.

Now that you have my secret and effective list of evangelism for SEO, you better put it to good use!! Spreading the word and starting a movement of sorts around will definitely help spread the word about SEO, building better sites, with a better user experience and great content.

5 Quick Viral and Referral Marketing Tips

Many companies completely forget to include the following viral strategies or they are simply looked over. The sad truth is that these strategies are almost always EXTREMELY simple to implement.

1. Add to Favorites: One of the easiest tools and effective tools for getting people to come back to your website. There are typically pre-written scripts or scripts easy enough to implement. A must have to start with…

2. Recommend / Email to a friend: Not allowing your customer a route sending your website off to his friends or co-workers could lead to a major amount of lost opportunities. Make sure that you have some form on allowing customers to recommend, and definitely make sure it is EASY.

3. Add to Del.icio.us: Although this is not as easy as the first two, with today’s age of social media and how much it is used, it is crucial to getting recurring site traffic, almost as much so as “Add to Favorites.”

4. Share on Facebook: Customers and site user’s are spending more and more time on Facebook and giving them the ability to share stories, articles, landing page’s, etc. on their profile can get you some major traffic and conversion.

5. Social Media Madness: Other than the above listed items, social media is your friend. If you are a blog or publisher network, then add items like “digg this” or “submit to netscape” and even things like google bookmarks.

Giving your customers and/or users an opportunity to pass the word along and keep coming back to your site can only be an advantage to your overall success. Obviously you don’t want to over do it, with links ALL over the place and scattered that it would drive someone insane. Just make sure that you are giving people the opportunity to spread the word.

Word of Mouth, Viral and Customer Evangelist Marketing

After receiving a book about Creating Customer Evangelists, I was inspired to re-visit a post I had written a while back on the new generation of Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM), Viral Marketing and Evangelism.

Currently we live in a very technological and extremely different world than even as little as a 2-3 years ago, let alone a decade. It seems as though the traditional marketing years are losing their dominance rather quickly. Although, it is true, the traditional marketing strategies will never go away. The question we really need to ask ourselves is difficult as we are individuals from all sorts of groups, such as marketers, advertisers, search marketers, SEO experts, evangelists, etc. etc. So, what is this difficult question that I speak so highly of?

Where is marketing going?…and..Who are the real evangelists?

This question has really to deal with a couple major techniques and I will explain this. But, really, we are talking about Word of Mouth Marketing, Viral Marketing and Customer/User Evangelism at it’s best.

I’ll start with an example. Let’s look at digg.com. The site is a breeding ground for open source evangelists that are really technologists at heart. This is a prime example of viral marketing strategies that are really driven by the customer. Well, in this case open source software, it would really be the user.

Another example with digg.com, is Apple. Apple’s customer base is really expanding at a dramatic pace. Yes, they do have those extremely comedic commercials on TV and traditional marketing techniques, this much we know. What I want to delve into is the number of evangelists they have developed around the world that continuously tell others about their products. I’ll even give you a personal example, anyone that asks me whether to buy a Mac or PC, I recommend the Mac. This is an example or word of mouth marketing and customer evangelism at its best.

So, why is this important to the rest of us and why is this important to marketers?

Well, the answers to these questions are quite simple. We need to learn as marketers and brand marketers to really build around our customer base. Create an outlet to ensure that our customers are becoming evangelists for our organization. Just like the traditional marketing tactics, we will not see an end to internal company evangelism roles, this is in-escapable. There is though a great opportunity, now, more than ever, our customers, employees and clients are becoming evangelists and marketers on our behalf. Thus, we are enlisting volunteers to speak highly about your company’s products and services without any internal campaigns or effort.

So, we have address the what’s, the who’s, the why’s. But, really, how do we get this done and how do we execute on this.

Truthfully, the answer is right at your fingertips. As I mentioned above about Apple and digg.com. Find out where your users/customers are going and doing and really ensure that they have an avenue to speak highly of you. Creating catchy and sticky products and campaigns will also give your customers an opportunity to spread the word. Learn your social media sites and how you can use them to your advantage.

From a search engine optimization and/or marketing standpoint, you can use blogging to increase rankings and readers. Most people really relate blogging to blogging for dollars, but in this case, blog for your brand. Ensuring that your blogging is very well optimized for word of mouth and viral techniques, like email this, digg this, share on facebook, etc. is highly critical. Gives your brand a massive growth opportunity without you even lifting a finger. Make this all highly accessible and let your customers spread the word for you, because, like the saying goes, “If you build it, they will come.”

Quick and Dirty SEO Copywriting Tips

SEO has lately been a plethora of information about Linkbait, tricking engines, social marketing and such and I wanted to post something in my mind that really takes me back to what got me into SEO, using my creative side and copywriting for the search engines. After all, I still believe content truly is king.

These may or may not impact your overall SEO performance intentionally, but it will increase conversion and possibly indirectly affect your rankings in the SERP’s. Here are a few factors that I have found to be HIGHLY important when writing good content or copy:

1. Talking to your customer: This really has the least desired significance from an SEO perspective, but is still highly critical. Your copy should really put your customer or reader in a situation where they feel like you are talking directly to them in a “1 on 1” style conversation.

2. Be Consistent: Maintaining a level of consistency with your page copy is going to lead you in the right direction. Maintain a consistent theme, ensure your crucial keywords and key phrases are being called out and stand out. You can throw a bold/italics/underline tag in there to make it stand out to the user and even the search engines.

3. Markup, Markup, Markup: As mentioned above, throw some tags in there to mix it up and have content that sticks out. Use custom CSS to create sexy header text and give the search engine’s more visibility into key phrases. Be creative in the way that you do things, but, DO NOT SPAM! If you spam, you won’t gain conversion, which goes back to being consistent and talking to your customer.

4. I said I wasn’t going to talk about links, I can’t help it!: Another way that you can be creative with your markup is not just by marking up your phrases, but also, linking to internal pages within your site. This will really give you an opportunity to really get some attention with SE’s.

5. Having a Call to Action & Being Persuasive: So, you’ve talked to your customer, you’ve maintained consistency, you’ve got the SEO stuff out of the way, now how do I sell?! Well, maintaining all of the above will get you part way there, but having a really persuasive call to action will really help you convert customers and readers. Overall, that is your main goal, conversion, so ensure that you are really taking control here and throwing all your creative juices in this basket.

Some of this must be quite obvious to the seasoned folks, and even to myself, but it is very nice sometimes to remind yourself and bring yourself back to the basics. Especially since in my mind, when it comes to good marketing at all, Content is always king.

Beginner’s Guide to Blogging

Recently I have been trying to get into the swing of reading up on articles in my time off, getting back into SEO/SEM and blogging.  Soon enough I will try to enter the podcasting and vlog world as well.  That being said I have enjoyed blogging every time I get a chance to and decided to write about blogging.

(Okay, side note, for those of you that are already blogging up a storm, post some comments and tips for others!!  I’m sure they’ll appreciate it and plus, you might get another reader! ;-)…)

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