infographicWith plenty of different forms of advertising and publication forming over the past several years, many bloggers are looking for alternative ways to catch the eyes of their readers while also creating something that will spread beyond the realm of their own blog – hopefully attracting others to become readers. One of the best ways to do this is by creating a infographic that summarizes a topic or event in an aesthetically-pleasing fashion. By boiling down the subject material into an easy-to-digest format, you stand to gain much attention from those seeking refuge in an internet environment of information overload.

Origins

Before you begin designing the finer points of the infographic, you must first develop a concept. By having a stellar idea sketched out from the beginning, you will be able to keep on track and deliver all the necessary information. Since your blog most likely is dedicated to a particular niche or category, it is smart to stick to this subject material – although other bloggers have had great success using an infographic outside their own realm to generate buzz and hype about their site. Generally speaking, a good concept will cover the history and facts of the subject while also maintaining a creative element. These tactics combined will result in a wave of people and search engine bots viewing and pinging your website.

Data

With your idea solidified and brainstorming finished, you can now move to the research and data-collection part of building your infographic. Some concepts may cover factual, historical events or ideas and will have a plethora of information to support your premise. Others may be circumstantial or involve trends that are not as clear; still, you will need to locate data, statistics and other concrete facts that support your position. After you have assembled the data necessary for putting the infographic together, you should then proceed to organize it in a word processing document or similar program so as to make the final part simpler.

Design

At this stage, your worries are putting the collected data into a graphically-pleasing format that viewers will enjoy and can appreciate. Usually, you will want to start off with a large canvas in a program such as Photoshop; an infographic is usually shown in “thumbnail” mode and are meant to be clicked on to see the entire image. You can always resize the image later, so feel free to make it as big as you feel comfortable doing. Colour schemes, borders, fonts and other elements are variables that will depend on your own likings, the theme of your website and the theme of the topic.

Distribution

Finally, you are ready to begin pinging your website with the new infographic. We recommend that you host the image on the same server and domain as the blog; you will most likely receive a boost in traffic and an uptick from search engines by earning inbound links. You may wish to put it on its own page, followed by a click-through link to the full-size image. You also want to place social sharing options on the page so others can spread the word about your newly-published infographic.

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Most websites and companies have heard of mega social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Their omnipresence on the internet is something that we all either use on a day to day basis or are witness to when navigating just about any website. What some webmasters and businesses fail to realize is that there are dozens of other social networking websites out there that cater to smaller yet more dedicated audiences. In the world of niche marketing, these tiny social networks can be valuable in getting your products and services seen by those who are interested.

The Premise

Many people use the major social networking platforms, but they may also enjoy using platforms that are less populated and therefore more relative to their particular interests. Instead of a social network of 100 million users who have an array of different interests, many of these networks instead have populations closer to 100 thousand users that share the same unique interest. If your site is built around the premise of a particular niche or isolated category, then there is most likely benefit in finding a social network that caters to these interests. Those who successfully utilize these systems can stand to gain a heaping of new traffic and revenue for their sites, companies and projects.

Finding Your Niche

As previously mentioned, there are plenty of smaller social networking platforms on the internet that offer people like you the ability to market a brand to interested users. If your current operation revolves around pinging YouTube videos about art to interested users, then you may wish to use a site such as deviantART that currently boasts over 20 million users. Likewise, a campaign that revolves around the sales of custom comic strips may find welcome arms awaiting them at ComicSpace, which has a dedicated fan base of around 100 thousand users.

Building Your Base

Upon joining one of these niche social networks, you will probably notice that there is a pecking order of sorts – that is, there are a number of established, reputable posters who have earned the respect of their peers by providing quality information and updates. If you think you can simply begin pinging YouTube videos and instantly become a star, then think again. You will need to gain the trust of fellow community members by providing substantial value to the discussion at-large. This is perfectly feasible but does usually take some time before people begin to notice your worth.

Conclusion

With a plethora of niche social networks currently available on the web and new ones constantly being created, you are sure to find a network that matches the criteria of your site or business at one point or another. By being an active member, providing valuable content to the members of the community and occasionally plugging your own project in an intrusive-free way, you will begin to reap the rewards that these networks can offer. Best of all, most of these networks are absolutely free to join. With no excuses left and only time to spare: why are you still waiting? Begin your newest social networking adventure today!

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Nobody has to tell you that your small business is important. Even more so is the way in which you allocate funds for any advertising efforts – whether they be conventional banners or social media targeting. If you have ads pinging to Google, Bing or other platforms and want to get the best bang for your buck, then you absolutely have to take the proper initial steps to ensure that your funds are being allocated in the best way possible. No two businesses are the same, so it is up to you to determine which venues are appropriate for your advertisements. The following article will help streamline that process regardless of ambition.

Market Research

Prior to placing any orders for advertisements, you first need to understand who exactly you are trying to reach through your efforts. Is your business attempting to market a product to the 18-25 demographic or stay-at-home moms? Knowing the exact target market of your product or service is not only vital for advertising but also required for any measurable success. Many upstarts make the mistake of failing to determine their audience, something that often leads to a higher rate of failure for those businesses.

Review Past Attempts

If you have used advertising campaigns in the past, then it is imperative that you review the results and assess your prior performance. Were the ad campaigns that had been pinging to Google and others effective in terms of click through rate? Which ads did well and which ones did not in terms of conversions, leads and sales? Having this information readily available helps you avoid making the same mistakes once again.

Assess Your Niche

Every niche and industry is different in terms of what advertising approach works best to attract like-minded users. If you are attempting to reach people in the consumer electronics category, for instance, then you will want to emphasize a heavily-reliant online campaign that may feature an intense amount of social networking outreach. On the other hand, a less technologically-savvy niche may find advertising to be more effective with traditional web advertising methods.

What Are Your Goals?

Every business should have a stated and concrete goal when it comes to what they want to achieve through advertising. A failure to determine how much additional revenue is to be generated or how many new visitors should be attracted to the site will ultimately lead to overall failure for your advertising campaign. There are many advertising solutions available that may be suited for your business depending on whether you wish to increase traffic, increase sales or increase community engagement.

Diversify Your Advertising

Even if you have settled on one particular format for your advertising campaign, you will still want to create multiple variations to test the success of each approach. Having all of your eggs in one basket can lead to failure if the initial ads were all poorly-designed or failed to attract the attention of viewers. By using different images, text and forms of persuasion in each ad, you will have a better chance of finding that perfect solution that drives traffic to your site. From there, you can then design multiple ads that revolve around that premise.

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PageRankThere has been an increasing amount of discussion recently as to how Google PageRank factors into search prioritization and whether or not its importance has faded. We know for a fact that while it was once the single largest determining factor in search engine optimization protocols, it has continuously been downgraded by Google in their algorithms. We have considered the decreasing importance of this metric and have put together five examples of why PageRank no longer matters as much as it once did. While it is good to have a high PageRank, it is no longer mandatory in order to be successful on Google.

Paid Advertising

Some may be thinking that this is a “cheat”, but the fact remains that Google Adwords have allowed websites and businesses to circumvent the ranking system in some regards. By purchasing advertising and allocating it to a relative category, your site can be seen just as easily by users as a PR7 site that is ranking at the top of major search results for that category. While the advertisements appear on top and to the side of conventional search results, there isn’t much difference in their overall appearance. This can “trick” users into clicking on them, which was the goal of Google from the start – to create advertising solutions that mimic search results.

Search Result Inconsistency

If you do a random search and then proceed to begin pinging servers to determine what PR each website has, you may discover that the PR rankings do not match the search results in terms of the order in which they are listed. On many occasions, we have discovered PR0 or PR1 sites sitting comfortably at the top of key search results, while some notable PR5, 6 & 7 sites are listed below them. If PageRank were still so important, this would not be the case.

Social Networking/YouTube Woes

While a properly designed website with great content was all you once needed to be number one, you must now compete with varying forms of media to hold that spot. Google’s algorithms have recently began giving additional clout to articles and results from Google+ users – boosting their content to the top of the page when it otherwise might not appear. In addition, the merger of Google and YouTube has now created a separate section in search results where videos will appear in lieu of websites.

Website Flippers

It has become a well-defined practice by many website developers to build a site that has high PageRank in the hopes of being able to “flip” the site for a nice profit after potential customers begin pinging servers to determine the site’s value. With this marketplace continuously growing, Google has had to shift its focus away from PR and begin to delve into more nuanced metrics for determining site measurement.

Slow Updates

It used to be that PageRank was updated at least once every three months. It now appears that PageRank is being updated less and less as Google appears to be phasing this metric out of the equation. Over the past year, it has only been updated three times – showing that Google is considering this variable less and less by the day.

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pinterestWithin the past month, Pinterest has unveiled its newest modification: the ability for businesses to set up their very own pages. In the age of social media, every business should be jumping whenever a new platform allows them to expand their brand recognition, and the ever-growing strength of Pinterest makes it a very interesting platform to use for advertising and social networking. Whether you did not know about this recent development until now or have simply been waiting to set up your page, the time for inaction is over. There are plenty of business opportunities available through Pinterest and there has never been a better time to setup your own page.

Explosive Growth

Over the past year, Pinterest has become famous as one of the fastest growing social networking platforms on the web. Just one year ago, Pinterest had approximately 3 million users. Today, that number has grown to 26 million and is continuously climbing at a rate of about 50,000 users per day. This sort of growth has led Pinterest from only focusing on individuals to realizing the potential that expanding its offerings to businesses can provide to both the company and its users. Best of all, setting up an account is straightforward and simple; we cover that aspect below.

Setting Up An Account

You will now see the option to register and create a Pinterest profile as a business. If you already have an account with Pinterest, you also have the option of converting the existing account into a business account. If you wish to get the most out of pinging URLs, status updates and other posts, you can also verify your business account. This action will allow you to directly link your website to your Pinterest account and the profile will display a ‘Verified’ icon to let users know you are who you say you are.

Business Features

One of the new features offered to businesses when they setup a Pinterest account is the ability to customize their page with buttons and widgets. By adding their own buttons that allow users to pin their items to their own boards, interaction is streamlined even more – something that was previously thought impossible due to Pinterest’s easy-to-use interface. If you have recently been pinging URLs to advertise important content about your business, users will find that they are able to easily share and view the content. With the ability to also verify and link the account to your website, you will most likely benefit from an increased amount of traffic flowing from the Pinterest profile to your company’s web page.

Conclusion

It only makes sense that the quickest growing social networking platform on the web is also quickly becoming the fastest growing hub for entrepreneurs and businesses. As Pinterest’s clout continues to expand, we expect to see more and more competition on the site between businesses. If you have not already taken care of the steps outlined above to secure your place on Pinterest, then you are wasting valuable time. It’s free, easy and provides yet another way for you to advertise and promote your business or cause.

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LinkedIn was developed as a social platform for business professionals and other opportunists to connect and engage with like-minded individuals from around the globe. While it started out as a simple, bare-bones way to interact with one another, the platform is gradually moving in the direction of social sites like Facebook in an attempt to get its user base to spend more time interacting with others and sharing information. If you have been attempting to build up an audience of professional connections on LinkedIn, then you must follow these tips and tricks to make sure your time is well-spent.

Make Common Acquaintances

Before you proceed to begin pinging lists of individuals on the LinkedIn network to be your contacts, remember that LinkedIn works much differently than sites like Facebook. Due to the configuration of the website, it is more difficult to simply add people with which you have nothing or no one in common. There may, however, be acquaintances of current contacts that you wish to connect with at some point. You should make sure to send them a message identifying who you are and informing them that you are mutually connected to a particular person.

Get Involved With Groups

LinkedIn offers two useful features: LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Answers, both of which have valuable information that can lead to lasting relationships on the site and beyond. If you have information to contribute about a particular category, then consider doing some investigation for content in which you can offer advice and assistance. Afterward, you will then be able to connect with the person – having already demonstrated your short-term value. By narrowing down the fields and categories in which you participate, you are more likely to find like-minded individuals who will appreciate networking with you. Dynamic, organic connections like these are part of what helps build a strong, meaningful relationship on the site.

Connect With Customers

If you have done business with someone who uses LinkedIn, then it is a good idea to attempt to establish contact with them on the platform. While you do not want to be too invasive, you can take advantage of how LinkedIn is constantly pinging lists of status updates about your acquaintances and connections. A brief personal observation about one of your connections may come in handy later on in a conversation with that customer. By showing that you have taken the time to be aware of their happenings, you can easily demonstrate that you are a well-connected, attentive businessperson.

Utilize Endorsements

LinkedIn offers a new tool called LinkedIn Endorsements, which lets users “vouch” for other connections’ skill sets and qualifications. By entering in a phrase or keyword, you can easily endorse a person’s qualifications – which sends them a notification and encourages them to do the same. While this may not seem like a big deal, it is a great way to break the ice for a potential long-term relationship that can lead to future collaboration between you and that particular user. You may also find out that the person in question has unknown skills that can be of benefit to you – and vice versa.

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content marketingWith constant shifting occurring in the world of search engine optimization, many have been pondering the question of whether search engine optimization companies should consider a refocus of their abilities – and also, their names. As we begin to see the SEO tactics of the past become outdated and an increasing reliance on social networking, multimedia and interpersonal connections develop, many firms have been considering how to proceed. In this article, we will address those concerns and hopefully provide some clarity as to what the future purposes of these companies should address.

Content Marketing is Evolving

While in the past, search engine optimization consisted of text in the form of quality content or keywords along with pinging backlinks, we are now seeing an evolution that relies on an increasing number of multimedia concepts to be successful. A recent survey showed that nearly 9 out of 10 respondents believe that content marketing will play a bigger role in web development over the next year. The same study shows that more than half of companies plan to address this aspect of outreach in 2013. As more and more webmasters become aware of the value that content marketing has, there will be greater and greater demand for those services.

Making Preparations

While some have said that the renaming is a simple task, the act of preparing for such a shift is much more difficult. It is true that current search engine optimization specialists are still needed in many of the same capacities, but content creation is a different field than SEO; most companies have until recently dealt with one aspect or the other. Firms specializing in these industries will need to consider how they can expand their operations to include both services. Content creation firms will need SEO specialists to make sure their content is distributed, and SEO firms will need content creators as a way to offer a balanced array of services to clients seeking to expand from just traditional SEO.

Examples of Services

What exactly constitutes content marketing? Many may think of simple content creation (articles, pages) at first thought but the concept runs much deeper. One of the more popular current trends in content marketing is the use of infographics to detail a particular subject or field of interest, with the hopes of attracting said individuals to your website. Other examples include viral videos and social networking campaigns that rely on word of mouth. Rather than pinging backlinks on purpose, the goal appears to be shifting to one where content is distributed in the hopes of it going viral – which will create a ton of backlinks on its own.

Conclusion

If the main question is whether search engine optimization companies should re-brand themselves as content marketing companies, the answer is no. A simple renaming will accomplish nothing, but it should be a top priority for search engine optimization firms to begin incorporating content creation and marketing directly into their day-to-day operations. The failure to do so will be seized upon by others and those companies will most likely become the big names in a future we may not yet recognize.

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