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How Do Social Media Sites Make Money: An Infographic

Posted on May 24, 2012 by Josh

I thought this infographic was really interesting as it shows what most social media sites are using to make money. Check it out and leave a comment with what you think.

How Social Sites Make Money
Via: USBundles.com

Yahoo Axis: A New Way To Search

Posted on May 24, 2012 by Josh Mc

When I got into the office this morning I saw lots of mentions all over the web of this new release from Yahoo called Yahoo Axis. I went and checked it out and it really has a lot of cool new features. What Yahoo Axis is essentially is a search engine that I feel puts the focus on the design aspects of sites around the web. It is in the same vein as the instant previews that Google does, but it bases the search completely on those previews. If you want to use Yahoo Axis on your computer it can be installed as an add on to many of the popular browsers. What is does is essentially live in the bottom of your screen and open whenever you need it. 

A search on Yahoo Axis quickly brings up the sites that would be returned in a normal search, only it loads them as thumbnails and allows you to select simply based on the way that they look. This is a really cool feature that puts a ton of emphasis on the way site design is constructed to bring in visitors. Another interesting thing was that when you are on a result page you can hover over the right or the left of your screen and easily click to the next result (completely different website) without having to reload the search and select again. I thought this was a really cool idea as it will be a time saver when doing research. Yahoo Axis also syncs with your iPhone and iPad for seamless browsing between the devices.

You can check out Yahoo Axis for yourself here. Make sure to let us know in the comments whether you think this is the future of search or just another passing phase.

Understanding the Panda and Penguin Google Algorithm Updates

Posted on May 22, 2012 by Josh Mc

Google recently made two changes to its search algorithm that have forever changed the way search engine optimization works. These two algorithm changes, known as Panda and Penguin, affect every website on the Internet, including eCommerce websites. While I know that search engine optimization can be a scary and confusing thing to look at, I thought it would be best to lay out some understanding on the updates and how they can best be combated in the eCommerce world. I have left resources at the end of each linking to people much smarter then me, if you feel like you have been affected by and of these updates you should check out the resources for more information. For exact dates on specific updates check out this post.

Panda Update

The first of the two updates was the Panda update. This update to Google’s search algorithm placed a greater emphasis on on-page content / SEO and was released last year (but is updated every couple of months which is why it is still relative). Websites now, more than ever, need to offer new, quality content to their visitors in order to combat the attack on low quality pages that the Panda update went after. If you were trying to promote a website with a bunch of advertisements above the fold and generic, duplicate content and other problems, these were the pages that were most affected in this update.

Adding fresh, high quality content to your site, and fixing low quality pages, is a good way to counter this Google update. If Google sees certain on-page metrics such as time on site, page views, and number of unique visitors, then these are all positive signals that the user was able to find what they wanted on your site, so dive into these in your analytics to see where you have pages that may need to be updated.

When dealing with an eCommerce website, you could also consider adding a blog or articles to your website in order to get this fresh content, or you can go through and refresh old product pages that have not gotten the updates they need. Refreshing product pages is a big one as these pages are often exact copies of what is on manufacturer pages and other competitors around the internet. If you only have a small amount of pages it is a great place to start. Always remember to provide value to the user and to focus on some of the above signals to make your site better and hopefully help you stay away from a loss in future Panda updates.

Resources

Penguin Update

The most recent Google update is the Penguin update. This search algorithm update has to do with targeting web spam, specifically targeting spam tactics like keyword stuffing, link schemes, etc. In the old days of SEO, you could simply build a large number of backlinks to your website from any other website on the Internet, and often it did not even matter where the links came from just as long as you had them. Now, this is no longer the case, as Google really only wants to see sites receive backlinks from relevant websites and not places that will sell you 200 links for $9.99. If you run an eCommerce website selling baby items, you will want the majority of your backlinks coming from websites that also discuss topics related to babies, which is a no brainer, but something that many companies lose sight of. This will help Google determine what your website is about and whether or not it should serve up your website in the search results for certain keywords related to the baby item niche.

In addition to obtaining backlinks from relevant websites, the Penguin update made it more important to diversify your anchor text (the text that makes up the link). Previously, the more backlinks you had using a specific keyword as the anchor text, the better the chance your site would be able to rank for that specific keyword. Now, in an effort to fight webspam, Google is often penalizing sites that try to manipulate anchor text. This doesn't mean that no links should have the keyword you are targeting, just that it is now more important to diversify your anchor text when building links, that way the links do not come across as spammy to Google.

The biggest thing Google is looking for in regards to a link building is a natural looking backlink profile. If all of your links are from one type of website using the exact same anchor text, this will not look very natural in the eyes of Google. Cleaning up old spammy links and making an effort to obtain links from a variety of websites related to your industry, that use simply anchor text like your company name, is becoming one of the best ways to work on improving your search engine rankings after the latest Penguin update.

Resources

All that to say, creating good content and bringing in good links is more important than ever to the prolonged success of your site in organic results. While Google recently made changes to their search engine algorithm, it is possible to still improve your site’s rankings through improving the quality of your site’s content. Adding fresh content to your site, obtaining links from relevant websites, diversifying the anchor text you use when building your links and cleaning up old spammy links are all great ways to do this. Obviously these are not guaranteed to help you recover from a penalty or shift but they are a great place to start. If you were affected by either of these updates I recommend the resources above as a good place to start. Let me know if you have any comments or questions!

Which Shopping Engine is Best? This Study Compares Them

Posted on May 3, 2012 by Josh Mc

CPCStrategy put together an interesting article comparing many of the top shopping engines to see which ones preformed best for things like traffic, revenue and conversion rate. It is a great study for those that are involved with shopping engines and I recommend you check it out.

Here's a quick breakdown of some of the results:

  • The study analyzed 4,274,820 clicks
  • 82,845 orders
  • $1,158,604.41 in spend
  • $7,867,575.91 in revenue

Best Comparison Shopping Engines (overall):

  1. Google Product Search
  2. Nextag
  3. Pricegrabber

Best Paid Comparison Shopping Engine (overall):

  1. Nextag
  2. Pricegrabber
  3. Shopping.com

Best Converting CSEs:

  1. Google Product Search
  2. Nextag
  3. Pronto

Best Paid COS (spend / revenue) CSEs:

  1. Pricegrabber
  2. Nextag
  3. Shopping.com

Biggest Traffic Driving CSEs:

  1. Amazon Product Ads
  2. Google Product Search
  3. Shopping.com

You can check out the full article on comparison shopping engines to see all of the other data they put together. Make sure to leave us a comment to let us know what you think of this study.

Four New Social Media Sites You Shouldn't Ignore

Posted on April 24, 2012 by Josh Mc

Social media provides a platform for businesses to connect to customers and clients. Most marketers exclusively use the big social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) for their social media marketing strategies. This detrimental strategy ignores lesser-known but rising social media networks, and while not all of these will be perfect for you, you need to go where your customers are. Here are four up and coming social media sites you shouldn't ignore.

Foursquare

Foursquare lets users check-in to businesses when they are out shopping. Companies sign up their business on Foursquare and users sign up and configure their smart phone to check them in whenever they enter the physical address of a business. Their check-in information broadcasts to their entire network acting as a referral for the business. In exchange, businesses offer discounts and sales to customers for checking in to their business.

Pinterest

Pinterest provides a platform for the visual arts to shine. Users pin up links to interesting visual content such as recipes, photography, videos and art. This information goes out to their entire network. The pin acts as a link to your website gaining you a back link and potential traffic to your blog or site. Studies by the Market Pros show that Pinterest experienced a 4000 percent growth in use in the last six months. For some sites, it now generates more referral traffic than YouTube, Google+, Reddit and LinkedIn combined.

Tumblr

Tumblr, a micro-blogging platform, provides a free blogging service to users who sign up. This social media network is great for developing blogs for the pop culture and entertainment niches. It receives excellent daily traffic and gets favorable search engine rankings. Developing a blog gets your name out there, drives traffic to your website and lets you earn income online. Tumblr is also a great community for making friends, networking your business and commenting on other blogs.

Google+

Google+ looks to beat out Facebook on the social media network of choice. They provide all the functionality of Facebook with some extra perks. Google+ provides a way to host virtual hangouts or webcam meetings with your circles of friends. Beyond just social media, Google+ also seeks a way to change the search engine results. Google now uses your Google+ links, friends and network to personalize search engine results when you are logged in to your Google+ account.

Social media networks are slowly changing the landscape of the Internet. Social media allows users to share information across multiple networks including links, videos, photos and status updates and is a great way for businesses to connect with customers. Let us know if you have other up and coming networks that you recommend we check out.

Ecommerce & The Social Login (Infographic)

Posted on April 16, 2012 by Josh Mc

I enjoyed this infographic as it presents some great information on the affect of companies using social logins on their eCommerce sites. One of the most interesting facts is that it states that 68% of consumers go to social networking sites to read product reviews, so connecting with customers on those sites is becoming increasingly important. Check it out below.

How Do Social Login & Sharing Affect Ecommerce?

You can get this Social Logins Infographic yourself from Monetate Marketing Infographics

Creating Organizational Culture

Posted on April 3, 2012 by Arianna

Companies have always tried to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Whether it is by providing amazing customer service like Nordstrom, or being eco-friendly like Johnson & Johnson, their ultimate goal is to be known for their behavior along with their products. The concept of organizational culture is what defines companies such as these. Although culture in an organization has always existed, it seems that now more than ever companies are at work trying to define and cultivate it. Unfortunately for many of these companies, their understanding of organizational culture has limited their progress. I, like many of these companies, have the daunting task to define my department’s culture.

My first question was obvious, “How do I create and define our department culture?”

Since I had no understanding of the concept, some research was definitely needed. John M. Invacevich, Robert Konopaske and Michael T. Matteson wrote a book titled Organizational Behavior and Management which helped grasp the concept of organizational culture. The text explains that, “Organizational Culture is what the employees perceive and how this perception creates a pattern of beliefs, values, and expectations”.

In order to create our department culture, I went to Edgar Schein’s “Three Layers of Organizational Model” for structural help. The first layer is visible artifacts and creations. These may often be difficult to interpret, but include things like a company’s office set up such as cubicles, technology, art, and even company newsletters. The second layer is the organizational value, or what is important to the leadership of a company. And the third layer is the basic assumptions made by employees in a corporation that guide their behavior.

There are three types of organizational culture: Customer-Service culture, Ethical culture, and Diversity culture.  In Customer-Service culture the main focus is obviously customer satisfaction. An example of this is Nordstrom, who rewards employees for going out of their way to provide exceptional service. Ethical culture focuses on the well being of the environment and the improvement of people as a whole – of which Johnson & Johnson is a prime example. Diversity culture encompasses and promotes diversity in employees, customers and business relationships. Zappos, the internet retailer, has applied the diversity culture, striving for diversity in each department of their company.

Though a company can have all three types of organizational cultures it is really important to focus on one culture and branch out. Since I am merely trying to define my customer service department culture, my focus has mainly been in the Customer-Service culture. I have yet to fully define it, and though it is a long process, I hope to include my employees in the creation and definition of our culture. In the end it is all about what employees believe it is.

In what ways, has your company defined and implemented its company culture? How has that worked out for you?

A Walkthrough for Problem Solving in the Workplace

Posted on March 28, 2012 by Josh Mc

Every professional knows that problem solving and decision making are two skills that are used every day in conducting business affairs. No matter what a person's official job title, he will be faced with problems that require solutions. Solving those problems quickly and effectively is what makes an individual stand out as a competent employee and leader among their peers.

Unfortunately, problem solving skills are not taught to many people. Instead, most individuals learn how to deal with problems through trial-and-error, and their methods may not be as effective as they could be. Here are the steps for confronting and solving problems at work:

1.) Identify what the problem is. Before a solution can be made, the problem must be accurately identified. Be sure that you understand not only what the issue is, but what caused the issue and what the real consequences of the issue are. By identifying a problem at its source, you can deal with it once and for all.

2.) Recognize everyone's interests. Most problems affect more than one person in the workplace, and different people may be affected differently. Before proposing solutions, be sure you understand who is affected and how; this will help you come up with an answer that will suit everyone's needs.

3.) Understand that you can't make everyone happy. Although you must take other people's concerns into account, at the end of the day it's often impossible to satisfy everyone. You must make an effort to create a solution that balances the needs of the company, the customer and the employee, but you must also accept that a perfect balance is not always possible. Do the best you can and more forward.

4.) Brainstorm solutions and weigh the possibilities. Come up with as many possible solutions as you can. Quite often, problems create anxiety because there seems to be no solution. The more potential solutions, the less problematic the concern becomes. Even if some solutions seem ridiculous, it will help to see as many options as possible. At that point you can weigh the pros and cons of any decision and decide which choice is the best for your needs.

5.) Make a contingency plan. Sometimes, a solution won't work. If the projected solution doesn't fit, make a backup plan and implement it. Understand that problem solving is an ongoing process, and not all problems have to be solved immediately. Some complex problems may take a long time to resolve, but as long as you're putting forth the effort to try, you will be rewarded by a satisfying resolution eventually.

These are the steps that I recommend when solving a problem in the workplace, if you feel I left something out please let me know in the comments.

Developing a Successful Content Strategy

Posted on March 8, 2012 by Josh Mc

Fresh content is an integral part of any internet marketing strategy. Content can be anything from posts on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, to blog entries or product descriptions. In order to be effective, a business content strategy should have a cohesive goal and direction, and be centered around the natural use of targeted and long string keywords.

#1 – Update Regularly
One of the mistakes that many business owners make is starting a content marketing strategy and then not following through. If you want your business content strategy to draw in customers and improve website traffic, you need to update your content at least once a week, more often if possible. Plan on sending out at least three social network posts a week, updating a blog at least once or twice a week and updating important product descriptions as needed. Updating product descriptions does not mean rewriting all of your product descriptions, it means adding or deleting information or setting up a schedule to rewrite several product descriptions on a weekly basis (obviously easier if you have a smaller site).

#2 – Use Keywords Naturally
Once you have researched and chosen your targeted keywords then they should be integrated into your content. Optimal targeted keywords are single or double words that are popular but have low levels of competition (hard to find these but they are optimal). Additionally, research long tail keywords to use in your content as well as these can be easier to rank for. Long tail keywords are phrases associated with your targeted keywords but are at least 3 or 4 words. For example, your targeted keyword may be “shoes,” but your long tail keyword phrase might be “red women’s high heeled shoes.” Research from the Pew Foundation has found that consumers are using long string keywords more often when they conduct online searches.

Keywords should be used naturally within the text of your content. Readers should not notice that you have inserted keywords. Instead, the content should flow easily and be easy to read. Make sure to run a spell check and grammar check before posting content to avoid glaring errors or mistakes.

#3 – Use a Variety of Content Types
Utilizing a variety of content gives you a broader audience to drive customers to your website. For example, you may use posts to Twitter or Facebook to announce new products or seasonal sales; however, posting informational video content to YouTube may create a following for your company and bring an entirely different kind of customer your way.

Blogs and article marketing are also excellent forms of business content to utilize in developing following and driving website traffic your way. Both forms of content can serve as a medium for positive public relations, increase your online presence and establish you as a leader in your field. Additionally, they also are a method of creating backlinks, which can improve your website’s search engine ranking.

When putting together a business content strategy, it is important to carefully choose keywords and integrate them naturally into your content. You should plan on updating and posting fresh content on a regular basis. It is also a good idea to utilize a variety of different types of online content to blanket the internet with your message and to broaden the scope of potential customers your message reaches. By developing a business content strategy, you can improve search engine ranking, increase website traffic and increase your online business presence.

If you have any other tips for creating a content strategy make sure to leave them in the comments.


Tips for Effective eCommerce Website Design

Posted on February 21, 2012 by Josh Mc

Designing a website that customers will want to use over and over again is critical to the success of your company. If you do not use proper design attributes, then your repeat traffic will suffer and you will have a difficult time reaching your revenue goals. There are some simple design attributes that will help retain traffic and drive referrals to your site from other sites as well.

- Watch Your Colors
Every color on your website is critical to attracting new clients and retaining buying customers. The background images and colors need to be subtle and the text needs to be easily read against the background. Using a dark background and dark text is going to make it too difficult for visitors to navigate your site and will not encourage return visits. Bright colors make it difficult to look at the site for any extended period of time which discourages browsing. Make sure to pick good neutral colors that are easy to read and do not hurt your eyes to stare at.

- Make the Navigation Simple
Every website designer should become familiar with the "three click rule" of website development. Your customers need to find what they are looking for in three clicks or less or else there is a chance that they will consider the site too difficult to navigate and go elsewhere. Make your site navigation easy to use and make sure customers have quick access to all products.

- Offer Help
If a customer cannot figure out how to use a part of your website or needs information on a product, then that information needs to be easily obtainable on your site. Every product needs to have its own specifications and buying information and there should be a library of help topics for visitors to access.

- Use Images Effectively
On an eCommerce website, you are going to want the images of your products to stand out from the other images on your site. If you want to use images on your website to enhance the content, then be certain that the images are relevant and professional. The most impressive images on your website should be your product images.

- Use Secure Pages
With identity theft being a concern for online consumers, it is essential that you use a secure order entry page for your eCommerce website. Any page where the customer is asked to input information should be secure. If you do not create a secure website, then consumers will most likely not buy from you.

- Put Customer Service Online
You should allow customers the option of using an online customer service process along with a toll free phone number. Offering something like a live chat service will allow your customers to have easy access to having their questions answered. Some online consumers do not want to pick up the phone to report a damaged or malfunctioning product. You can increase your consumer traffic if you include a customer service portion to your ecommerce website.

These are just a few tips to help you when designing a good online experience for your customers. If you have some additional suggestions make sure to leave them in the comments.