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Spam, Bacon and How to Keep Your Email Inbox Cholesterol Free

Spam and Bacn Put email in Jeopardy

In an online world where Facebook claims 850 million subscribers, Skype features an incredible number of 700 million users and Social Media seem to have taken over global communication, we tend to forget quite easily that the biggest social medium is still EMAIL. Email was created for people to have almost instant, free information and communication exchange. Email was and is the first and largest threat to Newspaper printing and Post Offices around the world.

We love it and we hate it, but we certainly don’t wanna be without it anymore. It can save huge amounts of time or become like in recent years, a black hole from which none of your free time can ever escape. If you are like me and have several email accounts, organized to receive different types of mails, you may face the rude practice of SPAM to a very annoying point. On my main accounts I probably get 200 to 300 mails a day, but with an increasing percentage of SPAM or Bacn (pronounced bacon). I do not want my host server to decide for me what is Spam and what is potentially worthwhile information, nor am I willing to use external services for my private emails, so I don’t want those filters. Besides  between 40% to 70% of all email is currently getting blocked by spam filters! That means recipients never have a chance to read it, making the “cure” almost as bad as the disease. If you face the same problem and have to put your finger almost permanently on the DELETE button, here are some tips to help you manage your Yahoo emails for maximum productivity, as there are dozens of shortcuts and new tools.

Following are my favorites. I have used Yahoo in this example, but Google, MSN, AOL and all the other providers have similar options available.

Bacn

You know what spam is — unsolicited email that adds around the middle fat to your inbox — well bacn can be equally annoying. The term “bacn” was coined by a group of podcasters a few years ago to refer to messages that are better than spam, but still not personal email. More specifically, bacn is junk email you’ve actually signed up for — whether you meant to or not. Maybe it’s a newsletter from your college, or a marketing push from the online catalog where you bought a present last Christmas. I buy a lot online, so I get a lot of BACN. To get them to stop sending the bacn, you need to unsubscribe.  But doing this manually — hitting the unsubscribe button on the bottom of every one of these emails is extremely time-consuming — so you need an unsubscriber.

In Yahoo Mail, the unsubscriber is easy to activate. Simply click on the Unsubscriber application on the lower left hand side of your Yahoo Mail (hint: if you don’t see it right away, look within the “Applications” folder in that lower-left area). Then click to “Create my Unsubscribe Folder,” and an unsubscribe folder will automatically appear in your folder list. Now, just drag unwanted emails into that folder, and an app called OtherInbox will work to unsubscribe you from those email lists. Even if you can’t be safely unsubscribed, emails from these senders will be moved automatically into the unsubscribe folder, so you never have to see those emails again.
If you use other mail clients, there are third party browser extensions like unsubscribe.com that basically do the same thing.

Spam

When you get junk that’s completely foreign to you, offensive, or an obvious scam, do not unsubscribe. Use the Spam or Junk button instead. When you click the Spam button, Yahoo and other email providers prevent subsequent emails sent by the same sender from getting into your inbox. They also use your actions as feedback to improve the various filters of their spam defenses.

Trying to unsubscribe from spam, especially the obviously smarmy emails, is possibly the worst thing you can do. You are basically emailing back to a spammer telling them that your address is a live one; they will then sell it to other spammers, so you’ll get even more junk!

Organizing The Email You Want

You may or may not know all about creating folders to organize your inbox. But you may not know that you can use a free web app to comb through your inbox and for example find all those receipts from online purchases that you’re supposed to keep track of?

Slice organizes everything you’ve bought online from large merchants, such as Amazon and Apple, as well as daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. They take care of tasks like tracking packages and giving you all the info you need to facilitate a return. Neat and just a glimpse into the future of exacting administration.

Managing Large Files

I don’t know about you but I often have people wanting to send or receive very large files from me. You know when you have a really big photo or video file you want to send, but either your email client or theirs has a size limit and won’t let it though?  Services like relayit.net and whalemail will allow you to send them. And Yahoo Mail users have a program built right in that lets you send files up to 100 MB in size. You can find the Attach Large Files app in the Applications section underneath your folders. (If you don’t see it listed, you can add it to your list by clicking the plus sign.)

Yahoo! Mail Shortcuts
 (learn them…they make life online much easier)

If you’re one of the nearly 300 million or so Yahoo Mail users, here are a few new keyboard shortcuts just for you:
Want to switch between preview mode and the complete list view? Easiest way is to just use hit the “V” key, and it instantly toggles your view.
Want to write a new message? Hit the n key; to reply, hit the r key.
And a real neat one: Shift-K — it lets you take an email you have read and mark it as unread so you don’t forget to go back and actually answer the person. You can also hit the Mark as Unread button if you are reading on a mobile device and want to remember to go back later to answer when you are on a computer. Another way to do this is to flag a message for follow up. In that case, hit the “L” button to mark it. Shift-L unflags it.

Enhanced Yahoo Mail Security

Maybe your password has been hacked in the past or maybe you just like to keep your email super safe. For you, Yahoo introduced a new feature last December that enables you to add a second sign-in verification. Once this feature is activated, any suspicious account sign-in attempt will be challenged by an additional query beyond the initial password validation. Favorite pet, singer, first grade teacher etc. Learn more about it by clicking here.

Now remember. I only served up Yahoo’s options in this article. Use the same terminology but change the name to Google (f.e. Enhanced Google Mail Security) and you’ll get similar results if your email address reads Gmail.

Online Marketing and Misconceptions: 5 Top Myths Debunked

Online Marketing and Misconceptions: 5 Top Myths DebunkedContributed by: Alyssa Clarke

The importance of online marketing has substantially increased in the last few years and many businesses are embracing this trend for their own betterment. But like all good things, there are certain misconceptions surrounding the thought of online marketing. Many people fail to understand that online marketing requires a great deal creativity, effort, money and technological expertise. The success of online marketing strategy also depends on a great deal on SEO. However, as stated earlier, there are five popular misconceptions regarding online marketing.

My products will anyway be sold
Maybe you are leading the industry in your field but to make your online presence felt the audience must be able to find you in search engines. SEO is very vital nowadays; simple word-of-mouth publicity is past. The website title must be descriptive but concise. The content of the website needs to be relevant and must have specific keywords for SEO purposes. Flash needs to be avoided as HTML increases search engine optimization. Flash sites take longer time to load and hence may deter the customers from entering the site. To increase the ranking of the internal pages, you must apply internal lining within the website.

This will be super quick
Success will not come to you within a short span of time. There is no quick fire method to make huge amount of money. You must have a long term plan in place so that you can reap the rewards of online marketing. You need to spend several hours/week or at least designate a person to manage the website and the related internet marketing campaign. The website must be consistent, attractive and should have good SEO throughout. This will give a solid foundation in search engine results and thereby attract many potential customers.

An attractive website will ensure profits
A website, full of funky graphics and a brilliant looking homepage, will count to noting if it is not clicked by the audience. The websites need to ‘exist’ on the search engines and then only it can generate traffic. Once adequate traffic is generated, your products and services will be known to everybody. You must invest in proper SEO so that your efforts behind a website are not wasted.

Social media is a passing thing
The concept of social media has integrated successfully into online marketing campaigns even though critics are shouting at the top of their voices that this is just a trend which will eventually pass away. There are opportunities galore for businesses to use the social media for augmenting the business. Since it is cost effective, it has huge potential for customer growth and it can also help to promote marketing campaign to certain demography.

Since I am successful, I can stop
You must not be content with what you have or with what you have achieved. Maybe the website is getting really popular and it is selling products and services at a good rate but you must keep in mind that competition is never far behind you and you just cannot rest on your laurels.

The website must be updated regularly and you must exhibit diligence and commitment to online marketing. Your business will suffer a great deal if you start neglecting the websites; you will miss the new concepts entering the market every day. You will profit a lot if you are abreast with the latest developments in the field of online marketing.

About the author: Alyssa Clarke is a blogger who also happen to be tech freak. She loves spending on tech items and recently bought a new Nikon Coolpix L120 and a cool LED watch.

Website versus Social Media

searchamelia.com: website or social media

When is too many friends simply too much?

As a website developer with a responsibility to maintain some two dozen sites of various intents and purposes, denominations and charitable causes I often wonder why there are still so many small and midsize businesses that feel they can limit themselves to branding and sales via social media, Facebook in particular, without even having a website.

Of course cost or technology could be an issue but not an excuse. Or maybe they think they have no time to properly promote, maintain and integrate a website into the marketing and sales strategy?  Doesn’t make sense in my opinion that a serious business executes a Social Media strategy on Facebook and Twitter (and maybe a bit on LinkedIn), without having a website however.

Yet, in all my meetings and conversations it turns out to be a grand misunderstanding. So in order to clarify the issue Website versus Social Media” today’s question is: If you were given a choice when first taking your “brick and mortar” business online to develop a website or set up a Page on Facebook, and you weren’t allowed to do the other which would you choose? Would you build a website and give up marketing through Facebook or would you set up a Facebook page and give up having your own website?

When I look around on our immediate community and talk with clients it becomes rapidly apparent that many local businesses still forgo developing a site for their brand; most notably restaurants, small retail shops, service organizations, car maintenance companies. Yet, having heard of social media, they are now setting up profiles and marketing their brands through social sites, but still don’t have their own website. Actually it is amazing how many think that a website is no longer necessary? The question is: are these businesses making a big mistake?

Here is why I know they do.

The Internet has been with us for almost 20 years now and over those two decades massive changes have taken place inside the development of the World Wide Wide. Changes that are still going on, even in accelerated speed. Reality is that we are at the cusp of a generational change over,mixed and matched with major technological advancements. Most of us have no clue about the technology behind it, but that is were the danger lurks.

The internet is built on formulas and the current frontrunners in developing these formulas (algorithms etc) are the world’s biggest websites: Google, Facebook, youTube, Yahoo, Bing.  Young adults don’t do anything these days or the Internet is in some way involved; while my generation is desperately trying to get their brains around Internet issues of privacy and loss of identity, historic values. Part of my generation, the truly dangerous part, mostly those without any understanding of the technology behind the Internet, is now trying to gain control over the Internet through pathetic efforts called Pippa and SOPA.

To give you a little taste of what I’m talking about,  social media today are based on an evolving formula which is called a A scale-free network whose degree distribution follows a power law, at least asymptotically.

That is, the fraction P(k) of nodes in the network having k connections to other nodes goes for large values of k as where c is a normalization constant and γ is a parameter whose value is typically in the range 2 < γ < 3, although occasionally it may lie outside these bounds. Tell me you have a clear understanding of this and I’ll take my hat off. But guess what? Just a couple of years ago this formula was preceded by one called: Social Circles Network Model. And several new ones are currently under evaluation for future use.

Why is this important?

For businesses that market their brand and product exclusively through Social Media, this means that there is a lot of techno volatility in the communication market. Even if accepting that Social Media have a substantial impact on marketing and sales strategies, the dependability factor is overwhelming. Imagine that you had spent the majority of your time and advertising dollars over the years on social media giant My Space. You ‘d not be a happy camper right now. The same would apply for Google Buzz, which Google just abandoned, as well as Yahoo!360°, Yahoo Kickstart, Yahoo Mash. Before there was Friendster, MySpace, LinkedIn, XING and Facebook, there was SixDegrees.com (1997-2001), based on the movie Six Degrees of Separation. No more.

LinkedIn killed VisualCV, Facebook mostly killed MySpace, which is now quietly re-assessing its role in the field of Social Media. And Twitter, well Twitter will over time kill all printed news as it will feed us with micro bursts of news (headlines) that will, at our discretion tinyURL lead us to websites, if we want to have the complete story, in the process eliminating printing presses and printed media. It’s the nature of the technology beast. And before everything is said and done, mega social media changes are part of the growing process and the pain.

Remember Friendster?

It was launched in 2002 and attracted tens of millions of users. On May 31, 2011 it “deleted” all profile data acquired over the years. It reportedly wiped out all photos, blogs, comments and groups uploaded or created by its users. If you had put your profile markers on Friendster, you’d be up the creek without a paddle

Can the same happen to Facebook?. You bet it can. And what are you going to do as a company when your only focus in the Internet world was on Facebook. Your efforts will probably end up in Wasteland.
Even in a much less devastating way, it can and will happen. Whether there are profile changes, less stringent securities, lost privacy issues or just one of Facebook’s (Zuckerberg’s) pet peeves, a social media campaign better be based on a solid website; “real estate on the internet that you, the small business owner, controls.

You website is the real estate you own. You command and control it and nobody can take that away from you. It’s your home base. Everything else in the social media world are outposts, intended to connect to your website and the truth is that Social Media Marketing is so much more than a Facebook page and a Twitter account, simple already because the barrier to entry is low to non existent. Building friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter only has one true function, getting your name in front of eyeballs with the hope that it will support reputation, goodwill and ultimately loyalty.

Social Media are merely your Network’s Outposts

Harvard Business Review said a couple of years ago: “During the subprime bubble, banks and brokers sold one another bad debt — debt that couldn’t be made good on. Today, “social” media is trading in low-quality connections — linkages that are unlikely to yield meaningful, lasting relationships.” Even though I do not entirely subscribe to this thought, I do highlight the fact that Social Media for a business should be Outposts in any business media strategy. But, and this is a huge BUT, the business connection (RSS) should be with your own website, the one you own and control; hosted by a reputable host and maintained, upgraded and updated by you. If you don’t have your own site then you’re driving all your marketing to another businesses brand.

Most of the arguments in favor of going the Facebook marketing route revolve around the ideas that you can’t do everything Facebook does on your own site and that since people were already at Facebook it was easier to connect with them. Well that’s nonsense. Facebook is a website like any other. What’s stopping you is time and resources, but the reality is if it was built on Facebook’s domain, it can be built on yours too; and as far as numbers go, think about this. Are you really interested in an anonymous Facebook friend in Timbuktu as a potential customer?

As far as the second is concerned it’s true. A site like Facebook is always going to have a larger community and social network than you do, but so what. You’re not trying to connect with everyone in that community unless you’re Coca Cola. You couldn’t, even if you tried. You want to connect with a much smaller subset of that community and you want to have meaningful conversations with them.

Those meaningful conversations are going to happen on your site, at your home base. Sure people are already hanging out at Facebook so it’s easy for them to say hi. The same way it’s easy for them to say hi when you cross paths at the supermarket.
The real conversation takes place when you set out to talk to each other. The person who takes the action to come to your site is much more important to your business than the person who dropped by your Facebook page while they were visiting 20 other Facebook pages and playing Farmville.

That second group of people might interact with you more often because they’re at Facebook more often, but the point is they didn’t go to Facebook specifically to talk to you. They did, however, go to your site specifically to talk to you, which leads to a much more meaningful conversation.

That’s not to say that sites like Facebook and Twitter aren’t important. It’s not to say they can’t help your business. It is to say that it’s far more valuable to get the people you meet at those sites back to your site and interact with them there.
Social sites are great for meeting new people and for quick interactions with the people you know. You can start a relationship on any of them, but to make that relationship deeper and stronger you need to interact outside the social network. Your site is the better place to grow the relationship. Your site will always be worth more to you than Facebook or Twitter or any other social site will be. Your site will always be the more valuable resource as far as your business is concerned.

Given those conditions you will be ready to face the marketing and sales future of your business, which makes your site worth more than Facebook, Twitter or any on the long list of current Social Media Sites.
You control your site. You don’t control your outposts.

You will always be limited on your outposts as far as what you can do and outpost are exposed to human interest forces and can be taken away at any time for any reason. Not so with your website. And what’s more…..there’s no functionality on your outpost that can’t be implemented on your home base site. Given enough time and resources you could rebuild any other site on your domain. You probably aren’t going to do this now, but in reality you could and it’s not nearly as hard as it might seem. Set up a site with WordPress,BuddyPress, and bbPress and you’ve mostly got Facebook. Add some kind of instant messaging and you’re close to having Twitter too. If I would have a popular bar like the Surf, Sliders, the Palace Saloon or any of the Resorts here on island for that matter, that’s exactly what I would do.

I recently got invited by a very old friend to join a selective social network called “Principality of Monaco”. Most of the almost 500 members of this exclusive network enjoy a close relationship to Monaco, its lifestyle and the royal family on the French Riviéra. They share thoughts, ideas, friendship and tips across the globe. In the past few weeks I have sent by request numerous pictures of recent Concours d”Elegance events with the result that at least a handful of Principality friends are planning to be here on island in March.

At SearchAmelia we are working on a similar social media network  for Amelia Island with a launch date of March 1, that will be tied to the Principality network and several other ones across the globe, because we believe that Facebook will ultimately become to heavy to maintain, unless membership becomes a paid subscription.

That’s why I am in favor of controlling your destiny on the internet with your own website.

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Limited Choices Make For Happier Customers

With the Holiday Shopping Season on red alert, retailers and online merchants are learning that limited choices and features leads to happier customers. In a famous Stanford University study, about selling something as simple as jam (confiture) to the public, it turned out that confronted with 20 flavors, people had a hard time deciding what to buy. As a consequence they bought little, and were actually often unhappy with their purchase choice. When only six flavors of jam were offered, people decided much more easily on the flavor, bought a lot more and were happy with their purchase decision.
It is of course a well known fact that people have a hard time, when confronted with too many choices. Yet there are still product manufacturers out there who haven’t understood that peculiar human treat yet. For them and for the confused consumer, I’m repeating a little test here that may be helpful when being confronted with too many choices in your gift shopping .
Pictures of Match Sticks in your Mind
Envision three match sticks for a second. Just close your eyes and imagine three of them in a row. It’s pretty easy if you use for example the image of three medal winners on a podium. Now try to envision five match sticks. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t because most people can’t.
If you’re still in the game, go ahead and  imagine a row of six match sticks in your mind’s eye.
Not two groups of three, but six in a row. If you still can, call me, you’re exceptional!!

We humans have trouble seeing large groups of items and as a consequence we have trouble deciding when offered too many options and choices. It’s funny that I was recently confronted with that oddity as we moved into a new home. Our old home had a simple straight forward washer and dryer. Simple settings – small, medium, large load; cold, warm, hot water and the dryer was equally simple to operate. Not so with the new machines. Twenty different settings with whistles, lights and bells and too many features that turn the simple issue of doing a load of laundry into an ordeal of major proportions.

Have you ever consciously noticed why good waiters in a restaurant hardly ever give a kid a menu. Instead they give the adults a menu and ask the kid if they want the hamburger or hotdog. It’s the most likely outcome of their choice without having to go through 20 minutes of indecision.

Do you also know that the number one reason that consumer goods get returned, is because they have too many features. They are too hard to use. Most people want and use only a fraction of what the device usually is capable of doing. Just imagine the number of different laptops, cell and smart phones, stereo systems, vehicles and TV systems. Let’s face it that we can not buy a phone anymore that just does that; place and receive phone calls.

Of course there are exceptions to these rules, after all we’re human and therefore complicated far beyond cookie cutting.
One notable exception to the “too many choices” dilemma is ice cream. When it comes to frozen treats, more variety is always better.
Actually food groups know other exceptions, especially in the categories desserts and spices.

A few decades ago as a marketeer I would have given anything to get my hands on this type of data, that now is regularly made available by search engines like Google. It would have solved the age old question of which half of the advertising budget was wasted and which half worked for anyone willing to listen.

Watch this video that clarifies this phenomenon a bit.

Facebook’s Search for Relevancy May Embarrass You

Beware how Facebook spreads your interests across the internet.

Facebook may be the 800 million pound gorilla in cyberspace, but the Social giant’s share of the search engine market is almost non-existent. As a matter of fact, it’s not even worth measuring compared to search leaders Google and Bing. This means that Facebook is leaving a lot of gold nuggets on the table, considering that Social Search is the future of all marketing and communication. Growing a College Kid’s dream into a serious company, Zuckerberg and his advisors must have been a bit frustrated with this shortcoming, having 800 million users, yet are a non-entity in the search market? The reason: private data.

Since day one, Facebook has had a lot of data, but it has been mostly private. You could only see a person’s wall posts, for example, if you were friends with them. The limitations of private data made Facebook a weak search engine and subsequently resulted in very little usage.
Last week Facebook made a string of announcements that makes it clear Facebook is making it a priority to solve this problem. Facebook has made changes to users’ profiles to empower users with different sharing options. Now, on a message by message basis, users can select if they want an update to be shared with only one person, all of their friends, or the entire PUBLIC. That last option is huge. It makes the available pool of data and results available for Facebook search much greater.  For Facebook, to stand any chance in the battle for search engine usage, it has to encourage more users to share public data. And that’s what Zuckerberg tried to get across during his “show” in San Francisco, by implying that personal data should be available, after all we have nothing to hide. Or do we?

More ‘Likes’ Are Critical to Leveraging Facebook for SEO

One of the best default functions of Facebook is that data for business pages is public and open to everyone by default. However, there is more to leveraging Facebook for SEO beyond simply creating a Facebook Business Page.
Social search is really about more personalized search engine results. By analyzing information that your friends, followers, and connections have looked at online, search engines can not only provide better recommendations for a keyword you entered, but it can also tell you that a certain connection found this content valuable.
Because search in the future will be personalized and results will be based on social recommendations, it is important to start building reach today. Sure, all businesses want more people to like their Facebook page. These Likes are worth far more than vanity in a popularity contest between you and your competitors. Likes are also your pathway to getting more people to see and recommend your content. More importantly, in the world of social search, Likes are the new inbound links and will help search engines recommend your content to more people attracting new visitors and leads to your website.

Social Search Is Only Getting Started

Social search is young. It can’t even crawl yet. A lot is going to change as Google, Bing, Microsoft, Twitter, and companies that we haven’t even heard of yet battle in the years to come. One thing that won’t change is that search is only going to continue to get more personal. Social media will be the major source of data that drives search personalization.

Learn how your Facebook use can embarrass you.

In general I would say I don’t hide much of who I am and what I stand for, quite in contrast to my younger years. With the arrival of the internet in the rearview mirror almost 2 decades ago, I realized that privacy was a thing of the past and it would be better to dust off the skeletons in the closet and open the door ajar. There is a parallel between a fugitive hiding in a big city and people burying their privacy in an onslaught of information. The shear quantity of information available is a natural protection barrier until you stick your head out of the cornfield. And the new Facebook has a feature that may just do that for you unwittingly. Yesterday Pete Cashmore gave a clear warning on Mashable you will want to familiarize yourself with.

If you don’t have the time to read his entire essay, here is in a nutshell what you’re facing. Going through Yahoo News this morning I clicked on a picture of Demi Moore, being in the news now that her husband Ashton Kutcher has taken over Charlie Sheen’s role in the CBS hit series “Two and a Half Men”.  Rumors of a split between the two are imminent, kind of like Will Smith and Jada with a reference. Three clicks later I’m looking at pictures of Demi Moore in bikini on a Jacksonville beach while filming the 1997 blockbuster G.I. Jane.

Here is the clincher, if I would have left my Facebook “add to timeline app” on, my Facebook friends and the rest of the world would know what I was reading and looking at this morning. In my case quite innocent, because I never knew that G.I. Jane was filmed in Jacksonville (my keyword), but you and the world out there may have thought I was just another “dirty old man.”

Brand Loyalty often Misunderstood

Social Search is ready for take off

Social Search for Personal Branding is Ready for Take Off

Having Brand Loyalty is a hugely important advantage when you’re in business, but often misunderstood. Loyal customers are a business’ lifeline in tough economic times. But brand loyalty is often wrongly attached to the product or service. A typical example is a TV product called Two and a Half Men, which faced that reality last week when most of the record 27.7 million viewers of the revamped show with Ashton Kutchner replacing Charlie Sheen, came to the conclusion that Sheen-acting-Sheen was probably the entire attraction of the show, in spite of being surrounded by a myriad of funny actors playing off his persona. Of course we will give Chuck Lorre’s writers another chance or two before switching to another channel, as brand loyalty will slowly reveal that it is not the product but the person delivering it, that creates the loyalty. Charlie Sheen’s brand on Cable channel Comedy Central in turn commanded an aggregate 10 million viewers that same evening with the Charlie Sheen roast, making it the most-watched roast on the Cable network ever, and the most watched show of any kind with the targeted audience of viewers between the ages of 18 and 49. That’s brand loyalty for Charlie Sheen, who apparently still is “winning”, settling his $100 million lawsuit amicably.

Marketing experts have known for a long time that people were never really loyal to individual products or services, even though they often say they are. It’s the brand that they are loyal to and the brand is always the person that represents the product or service. Service companies have known this for a long time and through non compete clauses and other tricky legalese tried to restrict their top people when leaving the company. To the customer they are the brand. If you drive Ford or Chevy for many years it’s most often the dealer who is the brand’s face. It has always been like that and to prove it just think how easily we claim “ownership” of people that do something for us with the phrase: my handyman, my gardener, my mechanic, my dentist, my postman, my webmaster, my doctor, my financial adviser or my broker. We don’t become “possessive” with the use of the word “my” unless there is a degree of loyalty involved.

Corporations know this. Communications and Insurance companies, Grocery stores and Supermarkets, home improvement giants like Home Depot, Lowe’s and even Wal-Mart have turned their branding efforts to people.

You are a Social Search Brand

So here is a suggestion for all of you out there who have websites. Pay very close attention to where video shows up and will show up in the next 10-12 months. Brands are moving much more rapidly through video !
For example, when you order that Best Seller on your Kindle or iPad watch what changes are coming your way! It’s likely that you’ll see a new “Special Embedded Video” edition rising up. What does this mean? It’s an amazing version of the entire book with multiple embedded videos scattered throughout the pages. Research Dave Ramsey’s book “EntrePreneurship”. Right on iTunes you’ll find a Special Embedded Video Version, which brings you even closer to his brand…. which is essentially, himself.

And the changes keep coming…
As I have watched Apple roll out their iAds it’s become quite obvious that we could literally be entering a time when there will be no use or need for web browsers as we know it, even though Facebook’s changes last week were all aimed at becoming a player in SEARCH. But think this through… if you’re on your iPad or Smartphone it’s not likely you’ll even USE your browser like you might have if you were on a laptop or desktop computer. You might start browsing Facebook on an App, move over to Hootsuite to check your Twitter feeds, mosey over to read a book and if you do need to use Google, it’s most likely you’ll do so through….. you guessed it, an app! And you’ll do it following people, messages, personal contact… not products or services! It’s called Social Search and the term was coined in 2009, waiting for the technology to catch up on what people want.

Things are changing and it’s so important that you not only begin to understand, prepare and ACTIVATE for these changes, but you need to get your brand’s message right. Mobile marketing demands even more now than ever that your BRAND be wrapped around who you are and what you do.

Plain English? People want to see YOU and YOUR face and what you stand for on their mobile devices, not a glorified overly done flashy website.
When thinking through your brand, it’s important to ask yourself “Who Am I?” but remember, the answer to this question must lead to what people view you as. This might be a bit different than how you see yourself!
If you’re a professional and are used to being called “Dr So and So” or “Vet So and So” that is not going to work with branding. What you DO for people is where the focus needs to be.

This information will be hard for some to swallow but your college education, degree and investment into that Ivy League University means NOTHING when it comes to your brand, long term.

What does matter, what is BIGGER than that, is what do people want YOU for ahead of all others?  Do you make people well quicker? Do you make them money. Is your advise helpful in their custom circumstance?  Can you improve their health, their skills, their lives, their happiness, their income, their self confidence? This is part of your brand. If you’re a naturo-physician or therapeutic masseuse, do you treat people breaking all rules of traditional medicine? Than this would be a great brand-leading message. What result do you bring people? What are YOU an expert at? This is your brand. This is what people will know you as and remember for. Before the world wide web, you could not afford any profiling like this, but today it is at your fingertips or smartphone camera.

It’s important to not wrap our brand around our product or service. Always remember that people are never loyal to products or services. To get your brand into the minds and the hearts of the right people, my friends… wrap your brand around Y-O-U. That is why Facebook last week announced a number of ground breaking changes that all deal with emotional attachment at the center of the issue. Social Search is the Word of the Year. Watch Google’s Matt Cutts explain the essence of real content and in the process become the Face of Google.

Social Outposts and RSS Feeds

Real Simple Syndication keeps track of time and interest

Social Outposts such as Facebook and Twitter fulfill an important function for those coming rather late to the Internet. The reason Outposts are popular is because they’re easy. Easy to setup because they don’t require any specialized skills, easy to make look nice since you’re coloring within the lines. We all remember the days when Facebook started its relentless march passing teenage sweetheart MySpace with an adjusted platform. I remember telling clients in 2006/2007 to open accounts on Facebook and they all came back to me with the remark that it was too difficult.
Facebook made it simpler and since then acquired almost 600 million users. Social Media Sites, also called Outposts, are valuable and exciting networks. The social web as a whole continues to expand daily in a similar manner as the Universe keeps expanding as I indicated in yesterday’s blog post.

I see the Internet as a 3 lane highway. The high speed passing lane is occupied by professional people like us, who spend most of their waking hours studying, developing and testing internet strategies, creating new venues constantly. There are relatively few people in that lane and movements go fast with mobile being the latest addition. The middle lane is reserved for those who have committed to a web blog or site to brand themselves. They go a bit slower, but still much faster than the slow lane which is massively occupied by the Social Outposts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.). Because of the sheer volume of traffic in this lane, they are  the ones that are presently catching the spotlight, but the real internet value centers around the middle lane, the one that uses the medium to profile themselves without the limitations of the Social Media designs.

The reason why I’m bringing this up is because stream-based platforms are essentially “a problem in search of a solution”. Everyone within them (just look at Facebook and Twitter) wants something to point at. Something unique, useful, interesting or creative that exists outside the stream. The stream’s purpose isn’t to talk about itself, but rather to find things to talk about, comment on, amplify and share. But here is the warning: many businesses that today feel that a Social Media presence is enough, are missing the boat.

Every Company is a Media Company

Understanding and accepting the notion that every company is a media company, the opportunity that is staring us in the face for the longterm, points at the need to have or start a blog. That is true branding. Appealing to and creating networks of like-minded individuals and groups
Even as social outposts grow in popularity, the ease of spreading new, original and relevant content and ideas just continues to increase. In fact, as the average user decides to forgo a self-hosted platform in favor of yielding their presence to the stream, the opportunity for the company or individual who is above average able and willing to vest the effort to build a real web community – is mind altering. And honestly, that can only be done through time and money investment in appealing, well maintained individual web logs (sites).

A stream based platform, however popular, simply doesn’t foster the same type of community as one that is platform agnostic. To use social networks you don’t own, without having your own self-hosted destination that is updated with frequency and priority, is to act tactically – not strategically. You’re not building any longterm momentum this way.
In addition, social platforms are exclusionary by nature. Not everyone uses every platform and that’s something a lot of people seem to miss. For example by choosing Facebook as your only platform, is a bit like building a brand through the “old-school” mass marketing approach. You spend a lot of time (and possibly money) to reach a market that is unspecified. If you seek to penetrate an entire category and not simply a single network, then becoming a publisher is the answer – the only answer.

Other benefits having a self-hosted blog has over any network you don’t own/self-host:

• Your own domain with clean URLs is still the most accessible, find-able and share-able asset on the web. You do however need to apply Google Places, Maps and Mobile to your profile.
• Blog content can be shared across the web, in any way a user prefers.
• Media have become very comfortable directly reacting and linking to blog content, far more than any micro-content like a Tweet (ephemeral) or a Facebook status update (tough to link to).
• Self-installed analytics packages like Google Analytics or Omniture offer far more detailed and meaningful reports than any data from social sites and provide the full picture – all the way to conversion.
• Once sustainable traffic is build, you can point the firehose of traffic at any outpost you have a page on and grow it. For example SearchAmelia has a 43% traffic build through Facebook and 19% through Twitter.
• Three words: search engine traffic.
• A truly creative, personalized design that is as you define it, not constrained by someone else’s rules.
• On blogs, archives are valuable and continue to be re-shared and used to thread the past with the future. In stream-based platforms like Facebook, today’s updates are lost to eternity by the time tomorrow comes around or in search terms, page 2 might as well be page 90. At SearchAmelia we are sometime amazed getting comments on stories that were posted one or two years ago!
• You can run calls to action next to your content and get to an outcome (leads generated, talent solicited, ads clicked – up to you!).
• Traffic is distributed with a self-hosted blog: if one source dies up, there are many more.

You can build opt in at the source, bypassing the noise of the real-time web and distribute content directly to high value (but unloved) email and RSS readers. This is essential if you want to capture your markets within the time constraints that everyone has these days. An RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feed allows your followers to pull valuable information from your site, rather than you trying to push it upon them. It also supports the two way communication module that is called Web 3.0 Here is a short video in plain English on how to set this up.

Of course the early adopters of the Bell Curve will continue to voice the message that “blogs are dead”. Interestingly enough however, you’ll notice the most popular place they do this is on …you guessed it, other blogs. It’s essentially an absurd conversation. My advise is to ignore this and instead focus on reality: that the single best place to build a voice for you or your brand and dominate your category remains blogging.

Remember, you are not just another web user. As someone reading this post: whether a marketer, an artist or an entrepreneur, you’re hardly average. Rather you’re looking for the most potent approach to share ideas. I know it requires work, but to think doing so does not, is naive.
The waves of change on the web don’t knock over the past, unless your equity is tied up in a single network. A distributed presence not only provides accessibility, it provides security.

It’s still a great time to start a blog, but every day you wait is another day you fall behind savvy competitors who haven’t been taken in by the hype of Social Outposts.

Two Really Quick Facebook Tips

Two Really Quick Facebook TipsFacebook Tip #1: If your business has a Fan Page and you want people to “Like” it, it is a good idea to “Like” the pages of your friends, customers, family and sponsors. Remember, people like to do business with people they like… pun intended!

Now, here’s another quick tip for Facebook users:

Recently Facebook made some changes and suddenly I was no longer receiving updates from friends and pages that I like. Even though you are allowed to have something like 5,000 friends, Facebook likely did this to save a bit of space.

Someone posted a comment about the changes, (and I apologize, but I can’t for the life of me remember who it was) so I went snooping around in my account and sure enough, I had to change a setting on my account to see all of the posts from my friends and pages.

Here is the easy fix so you too, can once again read the status and comments of all of your Facebook buddies:

    -Click on the drop down menu next to “Most Recent” (a little blue arrow pointing downwards).
    -Scroll to the bottom of the menu and click on “Edit Options”.
    -The very first option says, “Show posts from:”
    -Open that menu, then highlight and click on “All of your friends and pages”.
    -Click “Save” at the bottom and you are done!

Do other issues or questions regarding social networking have you puzzled? Drop me an email at Judie@SearchAmelia.com and I will try to help you out! We may even address your concerns in an upcoming article.

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SearchAmelia on TwitterYou can also choose to follow SearchAmelia on Twitter to get your daily updates!

Keyword Research is where Online Success Begins

Keyword Research is the key

As we at SearchAmelia are expanding our Courses/Bootcamps on how to build and maintain successful WordPress websites, an important and largely misunderstood  question from our students always comes down to optimizing keywords. Keywords in essence represent a form of stepping into the shoes of your potential customers and imagine what they would type into a browser to get relevant returns on their questions (answers). Now to be completely clear upfront, searching is a slowly diminishing part of how people get answers or relevancy on the internet. Increasingly Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a host of other social media connect people to your site and stories, but even there consistency in keywords gives direction to the quality of the search. Google obviously is the granddaddy or search and as such the powerhouse to deal with. And Google stays at the forefront of search by constantly changing their algorithms; a complicated mathematical validation of many factors that define relevancy, trends and needs/wants.

The first step in understanding the importance of keywords and phrases is Keyword research. It will help you to compete in the marketplace. Knowing for example what keywords your successful competitors use can help you to gain momentum quickly in the search engines.
When you write your blog posts, submit your articles to places like Ezine Articles,  and when you upload your videos to YouTube and Vimeo these keywords will also be very important.

A simple and easy tool to use online for this research is Spyfu.
Spyfu allows you to enter a domain or a keyword and find the SEO value, Organic Traffic value and more. If you’ve ever wanted to see what your competitors were paying for their ads in PayPerClick (PPC) and what keywords they were using, this is the way to do it.
What if you could be a ‘fly on the wall’ of your competition and find out what works and what doesn’t when they do their online marketing?
Spyfu enables you to do all of this. Another valuable free source is for example Wordtracker .
When you start out doing keyword research you could get sidetracked however thinking that by using every single keyword anyone in your niche is using you’ll rise to the top. This is not true. In a WordPress platform you could actually be accused of keyword stacking if you do that.  But finding the top 10-20 keywords and use them alternately will serve you well.
Look for the keywords that are not being used generically everywhere else.

For example I have a client who applies eyelash extensions. Using a keyword such as eyelashes or even eyelash extensions is far too generic. My client however has a long history of being a highly dedicated emergency room nurse (RN) who has studied and become licensed in every aspect of medically correct extension procedures. Her uniqueness is not that she does eyelash extensions and permanent make up procedures, her uniqueness is that she is the ONLY one in the region fully licensed with an extensive medical care background to do these procedures. A great keyword for her is therefore not eyelash extensions, but licensed eyelash extension artist – because believe me it is true artistry with a steady hand to do this procedure correctly, because eyelashes are just very close to the eyes, with substantial hazards if done incorrectly.

When I did extensive searching on Spyfu we also found that keyword reversals as well as misspelled keywords would work well, such as eyelasch extension lisense. Little did she know that people were actually searching for these words reversed or misspelled. Here on the local scene nobody realizes how often Fernandina Beach is spelled and searched for a Fernadina Beech.
Allot of people make these mistakes or tipos and yet, before they realize their mistake the search engine has returned a result, that just might be you!
I also discovered her competitors were using words such as false eyelashes and licensed eyelash extension specialist. These and other words are quickly implemented into her blog and her website.

Being able to find these and other keywords, we recommend that a webmaster reviews the PPC ads that are being used by successful competitors and then taking action to position your website/blog accordingly.
When you write your articles in your WordPress blog, don’t forget to use these keywords in your SEO description, title tag and keyword section.
Also use these keywords in the post tags area.  Google will find you more quickly and so will everyone looking for what you offer.
Don’t make any assumptions when it comes to what your ideal clients might be putting into a search engine to find you. You may know what your site is about and how you, the site owner, would find it, but it’s different when it comes to predicting how a potential or paying customer would go about looking for it.

Remember as well that just because you think people will find you with a specific keyword doesn’t mean they are. Being the top listing for an irrelevant keyword or phrase means nothing if no one is searching for you with those terms. It’s a waste of time and money.
Pay attention to what SpyFu shows you as the other organic and paid keywords people enter when looking for your product or service. Use these words as well in your blog posts and meta descriptions.
Something many beginning website operators buy into is the thought that ‘more is better’. This is not true when it comes to using your keywords on your blog. Be careful to stay away from  “Keyword stacking“. Using the same key words in a dozen different places in an article, will get you penalized. Not a good thing.

Your page content isn’t the only place where you can insert keywords. Keywords should also be used in several other elements on your site:
* Title Tag
* Meta Description Tags
* Headings
* Alt text
* Anchor Text/ Navigational Links

After you’ve spent a lot of time finding your keywords; make sure you use them in all the appropriate fields to get the maximum benefit.
Lastly, don’t forget to use your SEO plugins and tools that in particular WordPress platformed websites/blogs offer. All search engines love WordPress
We talk about them quite a bit in our Wordpress Website Building Bootcamps and courses. A tool like Scribe SEO will show you additional keywords you might want to pull into your post tags once you have written your articles. It will show you how many anchor text links you’ll want.  This is your best tool for making sure all of your hard work is pulling together and creating the most optimized content possible, with the highest potential for traffic, ranking and conversion.

If you are interested in learning more about how to successfully operate your web presence, our next course is scheduled for late August. (yep we take a Summer Vacation from teaching as well). Register early by dropping us a note

Unload your Attic or Garage on eBay

I can help you unload your clutter items profitably

Do you have a home or garage full of items that are no longer wanted? Would you like to turn your unwanted items into cash and finally get the space cleaned up for your car, bike or garden equipment? I can almost guarantee that on eBay they turn into someone else’s treasures.

Let me be your trading assistant on eBay to do just that.

You will receive my expertise in selecting correct keywords and listing descriptions, my outstanding positive feedback of over 4,500, over six years of experience and I do all the work from taking pictures, selecting the right keywords, to shipping the items.
The split is normally 50/50 while I pay the listing fees, the final value fees, the Paypal fees and the expense of handling and shipping supplies. In the case of high priced, much in demand items, we may negotiate a different split.

You can find me on eBay under ID name of seller_zone or my newly opened store “Eclectic America”.

Please call “TJ” at 904-430-7075 to set up an appointment; it’ll be worth your while.

Personal Branding vs Business Branding

The Personal Branding Beginners Kit

The Personal Branding Beginners Kit

With the new economy strongly based on internet presence and foreseeably expanding beyond the realm of our imagination in future years, I often get the question what I think is more important, personal branding or business branding, as if there would be a clear-cut option for every business or entrepreneur. Yesterday’s IPO for the social business website LinkedIn at the highest bidding almost doubling the initial introduction price per share, on the surface seems to say that investors’ belief that Internet services that connect people with common interests will be able to make more money as the Web’s audience steadily expands.

In my opinion however, main street investors still have not learned how to avoid market manipulations by Wall Street’s underwriters. Giving LinkedIn a Market Cap value of almost $9 billion on opening day, gives me the chills. And I am all for internet based valuation, but LinkedIn without any clear monetization strategy serves at best a niche market on the Internet. The website ranks 182 globally, with reportedly 102 million profiles posted. Compare this to potential other social sites such as Twitter, which ranks 27 with about 200 million subscribers, Zynga with 290 million gamers and ranking 102 globally and than of course the 800 lbs Gorilla Facebook, which has long surpassed Google as the number 1 website in the world with close to 600 million subscribers. What will the market do when these giants go public? In any case LinkedIn is at best a personal branding site with limited monetary options.

Oprah vs Steve Jobs

Yet none of this answers the question whether personal branding or business branding is preferred. Take Oprah for example. Her show last fall had 75,000 followers on Twitter, O Magazine had 106,000 and Oprah Radio had 25,000. The grand lady of talk TV herself had in excess of 4 million followers, which leads to the question what her holding company Harpo is worth without her. I guess with a personal value estimated at $2.75 billion, who cares! It’s probably the same story for another master of self promotion known as The Donald.
In the case of Steve Jobs and Apple there is clearly a personal brand, yet it is the Apple product design that makes the company so valuable.

The first question should always be for anyone starting or running a business in this day and age; what is the ultimate objective: Selling or building a historic landmark?

If your objective is to ultimately sell or go public, than find Superstars to work with you and build the business brand; if your objective is to build a landmark, you may want to push personal branding along with a keen eye for potential successors over the longer term.

Another approach here is to ask yourself the question: Do I have a product or service that is scalable. If so, you may definitely be looking at a business profile.

A self-employment-company is one in which the success of the business depends on how long and hard you work. Many professionals fall into this category: lawyers, doctors, physical therapists, and sports trainers, to name a few. Take for example Harrell and Harrell or Morgan and Morgan, large law offices here in North Florida. The founders have already secured successors by taking some of their children into the business. It is interesting to see now that Morgan and Morgan apparently changed course slightly and acquired the services of former Florida Governor Charlie Crist in their partnership, someone who definitely campaigns on a personal branding platform.

Understand me well, I’m not knocking personal branding or a self-employment businesses. They can have some definite advantages over working as an employee and they are definitely my favorite alternative to growing old on 401K’s or Social Security. I think for example that a self-employment Internet Business is the best remedy against Dementia, Boredom, Isolation and Poverty.
Mastering the Internet combined with a personal branded platform will give you:
•    a higher than average income
•    a sense of accomplishment
•    significant control over what you do

That’s a lot, yet there is one important thing you likely won’t have: an asset that can be sold for a great deal of money. Although granted, that type of business was more a thing of the Old Economy.

A “real” business to me is one that doesn’t forever depend on the owner. After the start-up it can grow and produce more cash and become more valuable, as the start up entrepreneur(s) gradually works less.

You work hard in the beginning and then you hardly work at all. Preferably Good People are running the operations. As an owner you stop by every once in a while to check on things and if you don’t want to stop in, you can have your profits wired to your personal account. Another big advantage of real businesses is that they develop equity. Equity means real value – something you can sell or take dividends from.

How to figure out what company you have.

If you want to earn a good living doing something you like, a self-employment company may be right for you. But if you want unlimited income and the chance to make money without working long hours, you have to have a “real” business.

How do you tell if you have a real business or a self-employment company? Answer the following questions:
1.    Does your income depend on how many hours you work?
2.    If your customers discovered that you were no longer actively working, would they continue patronizing your business?
3.    If you decided to stop working next month, would your employees be able to run your business without you?
4.    Could you sell your business for a lot of money – enough to retire on?

If you answered “yes” to all of the above, congratulate yourself. You are the owner of a valuable business and we can only teach you how to integrate the worldwide web to make your business even more attractive.

If you answered “no” to any of them, you need to make yourself less important.

Understand that every business has two aspects: producing a product/service and selling it. As an owner of a real business, you don’t want to be the product/service provider. You want to be the marketer.
Being the marketer means you will work in the background. That means less glory, less personal branding, but ultimately more money and free time.
It may be flattering to hear that your customers want you on the job. But as long as they feel that way, you are the victim of their schedule. If you want to be able to control your own time – to come to work when you wish, leave when the whim to do so hits you, and take long, worry-free vacations – you must become replaceable.

There is only one way to do that: Find a superstar who has the potential to replace you as the most valuable person in the business. And don’t stop when you find one superstar. Two is better. Three is heaven.

The goal is to transform the organization from one that is based on you, to one that is driven by marketing. This is a difficult challenge – especially for people who like being “in demand. “But it is essential if you want to sell your business, as a business, sometime in the future.

I hope this answers at least some of the mystery around personal branding versus business branding.

Be in Control of your Facebook Presence

Control your Facebook presence

The choice of whether Facebook enriches or impoverishes your life is yours to make – and it’s all about being clear on your goals and pursuing them… and only them. Do you want to cultivate dozens of “friends” to put your business front and center? Do you want to enliven your social life, with or without going out? Perhaps you would like to be an active presence with your children and their families by regularly exchanging information and photos? As a business you may want to be on top of damage control if needed and be closer to your customers. This week we’re spending a lot of time and effort on Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization and Social Media strategies here at SearchAmelia. Here is the first episode about your Facebook presence and what is needed to avoid overexposure.

HAVE A PLAN

Whatever your preference or objective, it is advisable to decide specifically what rules you want to set for yourself, including who you really want as Facebook friends and the amount of time you’ll allow yourself to spend on the site each day. And then write these rules down — literally — and thumbtack them up where you can see them. Periodically review your rules to see if they are working for you. The idea is to be sure that you are in charge of Facebook rather than it being in charge of you. It is a wonderful tool as is the Internet, but using the tool wisely is entirely up to you.

Facebook, which started as a playground for Ivy League college kids, has now taken the lead position on the World wide Web, with more hits than Google, but more importantly it has captivated the grown up market. The social network has literally changed and overwhelmingly improved our ability to connect with others wherever they might be, and as a consequence people over age 50 are now the fastest-growing category of users, representing 42% of users according to recent research. And it’s easy to see why. We all have multiple stories on how we have reconnected with people who once were important in our lives, but by the movements of life ended up somewhere else on the globe.

TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING FASTER THAN WE CAN FATHOM

Smart Phones and Loin Cloths

This morning I was reading an essay that was titled: “Cows are the new Currency”, a story about a young Maasai man in tribal Tanzania, who was texting his girlfriend all dressed up in tribal garments, worrying about how to obtain 20 cows for her father in return for her hand in marriage. He was observed on a dusty African street, a crazy mix of ancient culture and modern influences, dressed in traditional cloth wrap and wearing homemade bull hide sandals soled with strips of rubber from old tires; yet he carried a cellphone which he was using to text his lady friend, a local model. And that describes the times that we live in perfectly. None of this was mainstream just 15 years ago and many have not found a balanced approach to the new era yet, especially not the phenomenon that is Facebook.

NOT YOUR THING?

Now, if you haven’t used Facebook or used it only briefly, you may feel about as inclined to explore it as you are to hang out at a food court over French fries and soda — as teenagers do — and I agree that devoting time to using Facebook is not without its problems, as we shall see below in our conversation with Lauren Zander, life coach and Daily Health News contributor.

On the positive side, Facebook can be especially valuable for older folks to help them stay connected with others — which has been shown to be a critical factor in longevity. One of my wife’s cousins who has become virtually housebound because of physical problems is having a great time exchanging jokes and tidbits with numerous friends and family. Even though she is physically isolated and in poor health, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that thanks to his “Facebook life,” she is a reasonably happy woman. Facebook also can be terrific for people who aren’t comfortable in social situations, offering the opportunity to share a more sparkling online self with friends new and old.

FACEBOOK DANGER ZONES

But – and yes there is a “but” to this story… there also are some problems with all this. Some of the more common ones should be understood.

It’s a performance.
Not only does Facebook allow socially awkward people to transcend their shyness, but it also allows people to carefully edit their lives so that what they end up presenting to the world isn’t exactly the truth. I know some that have made a serious mess of their lives, but to read their Facebook pages, you would think they are the masters of the universe, having licked all of life’s problems. Many people make a practice of posting lots of pictures of themselves dressed to the nines… attending glorious parties and relaxing on lavish vacations… engaging in witty repartee with their long list of “friends.” This can be deeply depressing to people who end up believing that others’ lives are so much better than their own. Acknowledging that it is only natural to want to share life’s high moments, we have to remember that the happy faces on Facebook show just one side of life, and everyone has the other, more difficult side as well.

It’s a time sucker.
Hours spent socializing on Facebook can overtake the other parts of your life. These carefully crafted and highly filtered online interactions can be easier and more immediately gratifying than dealing with the daily challenges of life with your spouse, kids, parents, siblings and neighbors. In the end, the online social world does not provide the same quality of interaction and cannot replace face to face interaction. It’s rather ironic for people to spend hours connecting with people across the country and the globe while ignoring those who are up the hall. Couples facebooking each other from the same living room is a sure recipe for disaster

It’s an invitation to mischief.
It’s not uncommon for people who are bored with their lives and, yes, their marriages to connect with past loves “just out of curiosity” and, if flirtations ensue, trouble (of the real-life kind) can come soon after. For example a 2010 study from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says that an astonishing 20% of divorce cases in this country now cite evidence from social-networking sites — with Facebook leading the pack.

HOW TO BE IN CONTROL

The choice of whether Facebook enriches or impoverishes your life is yours to make — it’s all about being clear on your goals and pursuing them… and only them. Do you want to cultivate dozens of “friends” to put your business front and center? Do you want to enliven your social life without having the spare time to actually go out? Perhaps you would like to be an active presence with your children and their families by regularly exchanging information and photos?

Whatever your preference, it is wise to decide specifically what rules you want to set for yourself, including who you really want as Facebook friends and the amount of time you’ll allow yourself to spend on the site each day. And when you have these rules formulated, then actually write them down and thumbtack them up where you can see them. Periodically review your rules to see if they are working for you. The idea is to be sure that you are in charge of Facebook rather than it being in charge of you.

A Simple Definition of RSS Feed

A Simple Definition of RSS FeedWhat is an RSS Feed? RSS, or Real Simple Syndication, (simply defined) is a way for websites to distribute their content. With Feeds you can authorize a website to send you their updates on a regular basis, directly to your email’s inbox, your favorite news reader and even your cell phone.

This is a great way for you to keep track of your favorite websites without having to go to them, if you subscribe for their feed, their newest content comes to you!

With SearchAmelia we often put the following information at the bottom of our articles:

Feedburner If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment below or subscribe to the feed to have future articles delivered to your e-mail and get the latest Amelia Island News, business, tourist activities and videos every morning!




SearchAmelia on TwitterYou can also choose to follow SearchAmelia on Twitter to get your daily updates!



If you want to receive our daily updates, there are TWO things you need to do.

First: Simply enter the email address you would like us to use to send you our daily articles automatically each morning.

Second: …and this is the step everyone seems to miss – we will send you an email confirming your request. You MUST confirm that you are requesting our Feed. Otherwise, anyone can enter your email address and you would begin receiving unsolicited mail. The confirmation will come to the email address you provide almost instantly, so if you do not see it in your in-box, check your spam folder. It is that simple! (Real Simple Syndication!)

One more thing – I volunteer for a number of organization around Fernandina Beach and suddenly I was receiving “newsletter” type emails from people and businesses that I did not request. That means someone has taken the contact list of a group I associate with and added my email address to their list of mail recipients without my permission. Unsolicited commercial email is SPAM! Suddenly I was getting the same newsletter, that I never requested, in three different email addresses that I use. Many email marketing services such as “Constant Contact” for example, find this action in violation of their terms of service.

(If this has happened to you, just click on the “unsubscribe” link found at the bottom of the email in question.)

SearchAmelia will NOT do this to you – that is why the confirmation is so important! (We also will not sell or share our email database.)

Intimacy is the Ultimate Sales Tool

Intimacy of a shared experience turns enemies into friends

I have been in the marketing, pr and advertising business for more than 35 years. And in all that time, I’ve read my share of books on advertising.And guess what, now with the internet on the roll, I’m at it again. That’s why I get a bit miffed when I end up in conversations with some young punks who have never even heard of the greatest minds in the industry such as David Ogilvy or Claude Hopkins, let alone aspire to read what these truly great innovators had to say. I love confident people, but I despise arrogance based on ignorance.

Claude Hopkins wrote a little book called “Scientific Advertising around the time my dad was born in 1923; 89 pages of pure unadulterated wisdom and perception of the human condition.    He wrote about original stuff, not about the corporate protocol that has any marketing person repeat the words of his bosses.
Even among educated professionals there is an alarming lack of specific knowledge about the principles and practices of direct-response marketing these days.

And honestly, you will fail as marketer if your decisions are based on hand-me-down protocols. The first thing you need to do is understand the science behind what you are doing. Claude Hopkins’s Scientific Advertising was first published in 1923 and even though you might wonder whether a book published more than 80 yeas ago has anything relevant to say to the marketer of today, but believe me this book is the brainchild of a super master marketer, the accumulation of a lifetime of experience boiled down to 89 fast-reading pages.
Hopkins was a mentor to legendary Madison Avenue advertising guru David Ogilvy. Ogilvy is often called the father of modern advertising. But he learned most of what he knew from Hopkins.

Hopkins was the first one to argue that advertising has only one purpose: to make sales. Clever and entertaining advertising might win awards, but the company that pays for such advertising is wasting its money.
Hopkins was also the first one to preach the importance of knowing the customer and emphasizing customer benefits rather than product features. The public doesn’t care about your product or about you, he boldly asserted. What they care about is themselves.
He was also one of the first to argue that long copy will almost always perform better than short copy. That was a revolutionary thing to say at the time. And even today, many marketers – including Internet marketers – have a hard time believing it. We keep telling ourselves to keep it short and to the point, yet survey upon survey proves that long copy outsells short copy every time.

Hopkins also recognized the power of advertorials – advertisements that have the look and feel of editorial. This is still one of the most powerful and least understood techniques of direct-response marketing. Hopkins had it figured out 90 years ago.

One of the major problems with the advertising on the Internet is the proliferation of fancy layouts and eye-popping graphics. Hopkins explained why that is likely to diffuse the message and reduce sales. Yet advertising professionals today continue to make this basic mistake, because they have a hidden artist complex. Flash websites have all but lost the war on conversion and sales.

Another gem Hopkins elaborated on was the importance of plain language. And yet another one: When writing advertising copy, never write to a group of people (even though you are writing to thousands). Imagine that you are writing to a single person and make the copy feel like it is personal.

And the one that hits the nail squarely on the head, was Hopkins’s comment on intimacy. “Intimacy,” he said, “is much more important than salesmanship.” I am willing to bet that nine out of 10 people who read that have no real idea what it means.
But I can tell you with certainty that the most important page on any website, is the one that says “ABOUT”. It’s where eyeballs congregate and get intimate before hard earned money is exchanging hands.

We Live in a Fast and Furious World

Instant Gratification...the evil genie in the bottle

With every passing day I realize more and more that we live in a fast and furious world with instant gratification being the roaring engine under the hood. From the obsession of Google Rankings to the demand for lightning speed internet and smartphones that sing, dance, pay our bills and do our groceries and tell the world what we’re doing, at what time and….where, the warp speed of instant gratification is on a collision course with the physical limitation of time AND the negative impacts we may suffer as a result.

Last Sunday afternoon, while Dave and I were practicing for another revival of the music duo Evolution, the conversation turned to the song ” A Man of Constant Sorrow” from the 2001 movie “Brother where are thou”. I had never seen this apparent classic with George Clooney, so while we were practicing, TJ tried to somehow get her hands on it for evening watching. This turned out to be an increasingly difficult task with all video stores on island now closed up. Friends were called, Redbox and Blockbuster Dispenser were checked to no avail, so in the end it became a rent and download from Netflix. And that’s when TJ’s patience was severely put to the test, as the download onto her laptop was going to take about 60 minutes.
Several years ago, this service was simply unknown of, yet today we get impatient if it takes more than a minute or seconds when it comes to a website visit.

And as my mind wandered, I got to think about how people come to us with the request to build websites if we can guarantee first page ranking on Google, in the process deeply exposing themselves as “followers of fashion” on the topic of internet technology and marketing. What they actually ask is: “Can you get me a first page Google ranking for my preferred keywords.” And our answer to that question is these days: “show me your keywords and maybe if we work hard on it, over time you may”.

With 13 billion webpages floating around in cyberspace, first page ranking obviously requires knowledge, hard work and intelligent devotion, rather than performance tricks to fool search engines for a while until they slap you and send you back in the queue, the sandbox or ban your site for life. Oh yeah that happens more often than you think.

What we can do however in the meantime is work on optimizing the conversion. Conversion comes from building a relationship with customers based on quality and/or a can’t refuse “call to action”. Quality in this day and age still answers to the same principles of trust and quality. And that’s what so funny about TJ’s impatience on the download of the Netflix movie and how it contradicts her own meticulous approach to Online Business.
Almost 6 years ago she started to get serious with eBay and make it a weekly/daily time investment. She took time to learn and practice, crossing the T’s and dotting the j’s so to speak. Now six years later she is a powerhouse in global redistribution of “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure”; trusted, knowledgeable and with many thousands of transactions under her belt, she has a 100% positive feedback. That did not come overnight or certainly not by giving in to the demand for instant gratification.

The other day I read a story about air cargo skyrocketing in spite of a recessionary economy. As a result of that rapid growth, smaller airports are now trying to attract cargo jets beyond their airport’s handling capacity. People around these smaller airports now are getting in uproar, because of the potential of noise pollution, conveniently forgetting that there is a causal relationship between the demand for instant gratification and the things we have to put up with in order to accomplish  or enjoy that. We’re living fast and furious.
I can go on and on about writing up examples of this gratification anxiety and the fact that is has consequences we may not be willing to accept, but this story is about our passion: Internet Presence.

Stop Obsessing about Ranking

To all our customers….I love you. I really do! But please, for the love of all that is good and holy, will you stop obsessing over search engine rankings?
I get it, you hired us to build and perform Search Engine Optimization on your website. Why do we optimize for search engines? For rankings, right? Well, no, not anymore. It’s been almost a decade since the SEO industry began its turn toward a fuller website marking experience, looking beyond search engine rankings as a metric of success, and instead looking at business growth, conversion rates, and return on investment. Rankings are a traffic delivery mechanism. Traffic can be hit or miss. Not all traffic is targeted. A lot of traffic bounces. We see it all the time, clients like you are looking for rankings for your industry terms. But, quite often the time and effort needed to rank these favorite phrases holds no value compared to the conversions it delivers. That means, the ROI just isn’t there.

Instead of focusing on these “pet” terms, and potentially wasting thousands of dollars in the process, I could be focused on building exposure through some other relevant terms that have a better conversion rate and give you a much higher return on investment.
I understand where you’re coming from: You need rankings to get traffic, and you need traffic to get conversions. But, would you be happy if I could help you get more traffic and conversions, even if your favorite keywords were not ranking? Would you trust me if I told you that not all the keywords you care about are valuable and many of them are prohibitively expensive?
I hope you hear what I’m saying. I totally understand that you need exposure on the search engines to get the traffic and the conversions you need. But, rankings for certain high-traffic, low value keywords isn’t going to give you both. Oh, you’ll get traffic, but you’ll see your conversion rates plummet.

My question to you is, who will you blame when you see conversion rates go down? Is it the design team, the usability team, the marketing team, the SEO team? It may not be anybody’s fault, except that you’re ranking well for very poor converting keywords.

Finding Keywords that Deliver

In an ideal world, EVERY industry related keyword would bring you quality, converting traffic. But, a few minutes looking at the keyword research data will tell you otherwise. Every industry has thousands of terms that are not relevant for any particular site within that very industry. It’s true for your competitors, just as it’s true for you.
Good optimization is all about finding the right keywords. Not just industry terms, but terms which match the searcher’s intent for the product, service, or information you offer. Sometimes the searcher’s intent is clear in the search phrase. Many times, it’s not. If the intent isn’t clear, you can do two things: Guess or test.

Guessing at the intent means you either assume it is a valuable keyword or it isn’t. In SEO, this can be a huge gamble. Guess wrong, either way, and you are either potentially wasting a ton of time, or you’re losing out on a lot of potential conversions.
The better option is to test. The best way to do that is via PPC. Throw up some ads using your testing keywords, and see what happens. If the keyword converts at a rate comparable to other keywords, then you have yourself a winner. If not, you just saved yourself from wasting a bunch of resources on optimizing a loser.

Rankings Don’t Always Matter

If you know all your keywords are winners, you still have to be careful about measuring rankings over results. There is a lot more to a good conversion than ranking for your best terms.
Did you know that in some circumstances you can actually get more traffic by ranking lower in the results? It happens all the time. Why? Because your title and description tag are written to drive the click and conversion more so than to get rankings.
You can tweak your title to improve clicks and conversions, and that may cost yourself some ranking positions. But, if you tweak it for rankings, you may lose both clicks and conversions. It’s not always win/lose, sometimes you can win-win, but the better win is the conversion.

Yes, We Know a Thing or Three About Conversions

Searcher expectations play a significant role in the ability of your site to convert visitors to customers. Quite frequently, you, dear client, have rejected our usability recommendations. I know, you just want rankings, what do we know about usability? Well, quite a bit, actually.
Remember earlier when I said SEO has moved into online marketing rather than just rankings? Well, this is what we mean. We understand that, for what you’re paying us, if you have a bunch of top rankings and no business, we’d lose you as a client. You can’t sustain a business that doesn’t grow. So it’s in our best interest to help you grow your business.

That means, we have to look beyond search engine rankings. Our goal is to help you deliver the most qualified traffic, and make sure that it isn’t wasted. If you have a qualified lead, your ability to convert that lead is only as good as how good your sales person (or website) is. Well, we don’t just bring people to your door, we want to help you sell them as well.
That means we have to know a thing or two about website usability. This goes hand-in-hand with SEO. We can optimize a page for certain keywords, and we can get that page to rank, but we also have to make sure that the page delivers the message required for that visitor. Put simply, we have to make sure the optimization meets the visitor’s expectations!

Did you know that the search engines know when someone spends time on your site or quickly exits and goes back to the search pages? You can bet that this data is important to them. If too many people are “bouncing” off your site and choosing another in the search results, this is an indicator that the site did not meet their expectations. This means, no matter how well optimized and ranked, the page is a dud and will be very difficult to rank.
Not only did the visitor not find what they wanted on that page, but they weren’t even interested in looking further on your site. That’s bad news.

We Want You To Succeed

It all comes down to this: Why pay us to drive 50,000 visitors to your site if you are only able to convert .01%? Wouldn’t it be more lucrative to drive only 5,000 visitors while improving your conversion rate to 3%?
The goal is to increase conversion rates AND traffic. But, more often than not, improving your conversion rates will produce the better ROI. That doesn’t mean you ignore search engine rankings, but it does mean that you make sure that you’re not just looking at rankings as the end game result.
Rankings are a great way to generate traffic, and they should not be ignored. But, they also should not be obsessed over. The new Internet is different. It’s time to start looking at the bigger picture. Look beyond which keyword is ranking where and dive into your analytics to find out where your conversions are coming from and what you can do to improve those. Use your Social Media such as Facebook, youTube, Twitter, LinkedIn daily to increase exposure. And yes that may mean focusing on some new keywords. That may mean increasing rankings for others. That also may mean ignoring the very keywords that you’re obsessing over.

I was surprised a couple of days ago to see that on One Day I received messages in SearchAmelia emails that ABC, CNN and Megan Fox had started following us on Twitter. I even have a Megan Fox befriend request on Facebook that I haven’t validated yet. But via the Social Media they go to our website. As a matter of fact 41% of our daily traffic comes via Facebook and 21% via Twitter. Linkedin, youTube, Reddit, Technorati and a handful of others smaller media, account for 11%, which leaves “only” 27% for the Search Engines Google, Yahoo, Bing, Chrome, Safari, Opera and About.

Search engine rankings are, and always will be, important. Though, with social, local, and personalized results being mixed in, the value of a ranking has been greatly diminished. Just because you see a keyword ranking great, doesn’t mean your audience is. Which is just yet another reason why you should stop obsessing over rankings and start obsessing with us over your business’ online success!
The core of a solid online marketing strategy should include:
• A website that has been optimized for search traffic and designed for usability and easy navigation towards your main product/service pages
• An on-site blog (attached to your main domain, as opposed to on a separate URL) that is frequently updated with valuable content reflecting your brand’s area of expertise
• A target to continuously increase the fraction of organic search traffic over pay-per-click traffic, gradually tapering PPC off towards your niche product areas
• Use a web analytics tool to constantly review your traffic sources and the volume of leads they bring your business, and revise your priorities as required
• A very regular check of your social media profiles, review websites, industry forums, etc. to respond and engage with any comments related to your brand.

And believe me, instant gratification does not play a function in this process. Even though we treat it as the key to happiness these days, instant gratification is nothing more than a very short term emotion that dies the moment it is accomplished.