How NOT to use Facebook to Promote Your Business

imagesWe have helped quite a few independent businesses get started with solid Online Internet Marketing methods and advice. We recognize how social media usage, search engine optimization and online marketing can be just as difficult and off-topic from their core knowledge as Quickbooks and Accounting practices.

Even with this understanding, I’m a little surprised to be pointing out the obvious of how NOT to use your Facebook page to win business and influence friends in 2013.

But, apparently its worth reminding business owners that social networks are the front store that most potential customers will see before ever walking in your door.

Don’t give people an excuse to walk past your storefront…but definitely don’t give them an excuse to throw mud and trash on it either.

Need an example? Annie Colbert at Mashable has just posted this article that summarizes a recent Facebook meltdown by Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro.

 

Are you Kevin Bacon Close to your Customers?

Are you Chuck Norris Bacon Close to Your Clients?

Chuck Norris Bacon Number

Google just added a new search option, called the Bacon Number. Adding Bacon Number to an Actor or Celebrity name will calculate and display the other actors that have mutually worked with Kevin Bacon or your provided actor in the same movie. Or worked with an Actor that later worked with one of them. For each actor that is needed to link the original actor to Kevin, that counts as one degree of separation.

This fun little actor trivia game is based on Six degrees of separation, a concept that refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy and popularized by a play written by John Guare.

So, now that you have Google’s help, see if you can find an Actor with a Bacon Number greater than 3. You’ll likely be amazed how small, or tight, the “Hollywood” industry appears when viewed from a “How Connected Are They” search tool.

Unfortunately, your industry doesn’t have a Bacon Number Tool, but it is almost certainly as connected. You are probably no more than 3 degrees, and no further than six degrees, away from every client or potential client. And they are that close to each other as well.

This close connectivity within an industry, or a community, is what makes social networking so effective for businesses, even small ones. Ask your next new customer how they found out about you. If it’s a person, thank them on your Facebook page and Twitter.

Google Adwords Big Change Coming?

Upcoming Adword Format Bad for SMBsWhile catching up on the latest SEO articles, a disturbing post showed up today. It appears that Google is testing the effects of showing how many clicks an Ad or Advertiser has previously gotten.

While we promote Google Adwords to many of our small business clients, there are various aspects that are real disadvantages to them. The overall complexity and several default settings are definitely an issue for SMB and independents without some type of Search Engine Marking (SEM) resource.

Well, Google is trying an Adwords experiment that may indeed be another major problem for small businesses. There are apparently two types of displays being tested, one that just says “Clicks”. The other one says “clicks from this advertiser”. In this image, notice the difference between the two almost identical Ads for the same basic product/brand:Google Adwords Click Display Experiment

Showing “Clicks for this Advertiser” in the Ad will create a very unfair advantage for large brands, big Ad budgets and National Ad agencies.

Notice that the top Ad has 156,000 previous clicks and the one below it has 59,000,000. Which would you click?

We’ve been very successful pitching SMB Ads against major brands with deep pockets. We rely on niche targets, whether time spots, longer tail keywords, more refined and selective demographics or sites. If successful, our Ad typically shows higher than the wider casting net of the big check books.

Think of it another way. A big budget allows for less granular keyword bids, less related Ad text to keywords they are bidding on and finally, paying a bit higher due to a lower quality score. If we are able to place our SMB Ad alongside the more generic text from one of their Ads, we stand a better chance of getting the click due to our more relevant copy and keywords.

Unless that other Ad has 59,000,000 clicks displayed and we only have 156,000.

The real shame? All 156,000 of our visitors could have bought a product, while 200,000 of those other clickers could have bounced away from that site’s competing product immediately without buying anything. If that Advertiser’s 58,800,000 of those clicks are for Ads that send them to another page, not that related to our client’s product, then they won’t even be penalized much. And the users that might have clicked and bought, will instead gravitate towards the Ad with more clicks due to the Lemming Effect.

This also means longer running Ads and Advertisers could have better click through rate (CTR) advantage.

JC Penny Penalized by Google

Stay out of the Google Penalty BoxA great, detailed article was written yesterday on SearchEngineWatch.com about Google penalizing JC Penny for inappropriate link building by JC Penny’s SEO firm.

I’m mostly surprised by two things: JC Penny employing an SEO Firm that resorted to such a known “Bad Practice” and JC Penny obviously doesn’t have an internal SEO staff person overseeing and reviewing what their SEO firm is implementing. This seems like using an offshore contract manufacturer without and experienced person in the company being held responsible for managing that outsource. Seems insane. But, a company’s Web Site probably isn’t as important as building the products sold on it, right?

Here’s just a snippet from the article, “Bad Brands and Bad Linking: How to Avoid Google Penalties“:

JCPenney should have known what their SEO company was doing. You need a solid understanding of what your SEO firm is doing to “help” you, and how you can monitor SEO campaigns involving your brand.

Claim Your Business’s Google Places

I’ve posted previously about the importance of “claiming your Google business listing” on Google Maps. Last year, Google renamed this feature and created Google Places. Well, it is even more important for businesses to claim their Google Place and start improving or adding to the information that Google has chosen to include. This should help your search engine results on Google AND help customers learn about your business from YOU as well.

Claim Your Google Place

We recently added a new client that has been in business for a little over a year. They chose to start their company in a facility that houses other small businesses…which means they all share the same physical street address, except for their Suite number.

This client didn’t show up on Google Maps, even if you keyed in their phone number OR actual address. I was actually surprised they didn’t show up at all. Of course, in this case, Google’s authentication method wouldn’t allow the use of their phone number, because Google hadn’t put the two connections together within their indexing. I had to use the slower post card mail route.

Now, can you imagine the frustration of users today who might be trying to locate your business AFTER arriving close by. Now that they’ve claimed their Google Place, they show up correctly on Google Maps as well.

FREE Google PlacesIf you are a retail establishment that relies on foot traffic/local traffic for your revenue, I cannot stress how important doing this simple, FREE, easy process is for your company. If you need help, give us a call.

YELP CEO responds to class action lawsuit

I’ve been discussing the issue of online reviews, and in particular YELP in several articles this year, such as “no Sheriff in the Wild Wild ‘Net” and more recently about a class action lawsuit against YELP.

YELP’s CEO has responded to the lawsuit with his blog post. It does provide YELP’s perspective and emphasizes that the quality and fairness of the reviews is how they’ve built a large user base. Jeopardizing the integrity of that, he states, would negatively impact the company.

While that may be right, or may have been right before gaining 29 million users, he doesn’t address anything at all about their income and business model, other than referencing “no businesses that advertise on YELP have a perfect reputation”.

But, isn’t that where the issues lies? I suspect those businesses didn’t start off advertising when there were few users and great reviews. I believe the majority of those businesses advertised to get a more favorable review up top above a negative review…that seems to have only occurred after turning down an Ad deal from a YELP sales person.

Of course, I’m only speculating based on the range of multi-page articles I’ve read, several by investigative reporters. I could, of course, be as wrong as the YELP CEO contends all of these reports are wrong.

Yelp sued for online reviews

I just noticed a news item on TechCrunch.com that mentions Yelp is being taken to court over their online review & ‘pay to remove’ practice.

On this previous blog post, I mentioned how Yelp, and other online reviews, can be a real challenge for small business owners trying to keep up with all the information overload and online ‘sites’ they have to monitor.

I’ll keep an eye on this case, as many in my part of the industry will do I’m sure, and let my readers know the outcome (though I’m sure it will be several years).

But does Yelp Love us?

But does Yelp Love Us if We Don't Pay?