Painting the picture:
We’ve all been in the situation where we hear of a brand and want to learn more about their business. Just like any savvy online shopper, the next logical step would be to Google their name and look at the top results. This is a perfect scenario for any business that has a good online presence. Ideally, the potential customer will click through to the main site and learn what the company is all about. This is, after all, the goal of branded SEO.
But what if the main site is crowded by a number of review sites in the search engine review page (SERP)? Here, the potential customer is likely to notice this and want to investigate further. In this situation, the potential new customer will either be persuaded to give their business to the brand, or become weary and look elsewhere depending on the content of the reviews. With an abundance of review sites on the web these days it’s almost inevitable that a brand will run into this problem at some point. Take for example a local coffee shop I recently heard about:
Seeing all of the review sites ranking so high, I was moved to look at the reviews and make sure it would be worth my time to visit this shop. Review sites are mostly built from user-generated content that is out of the brand’s control, but there are ways to somewhat sidestep this issue by taking over as much result page real estate as possible.
In past times, the use of subdomains were a powerful SEO tactic to gain more real estate in the SERPs, however this is no longer the case. Previous Google algorithms were known to allow for two results per host, subdomains included. If all of these assets were ranking for the branded terms, competitors or negative review sites would be pushed down below the fold essentially making them irrelevant. Unfortunately, this method was abused by brands to monopolize the SERPs and the term “domain crowding” was born. This forced Google to push in the direction of greater “SERP diversity” taking away the previous advantage of subdomain usage. Subdomains still hold their place in the web design world for organization of giant sites but in terms of SEO or reputation management, their value is dwindling with every algorithm update.
Sitelinks have been used for quite some time now and are, for the time being, still very helpful in terms of regaining SERP real estate. But what new tactics can be used to take place of the no-longer-useful subdomain usage? Fortunately, the concept of gathering assets to force competitor or review sites down the ranks is not all lost. However these days, instead of using subdomains or multiple top-level domains, brands would be wise to use social media assets and local search. If the business has physical locations, Google+ Local is your best friend. Once your Google+ Local account is set up correctly branded search results will contain a map with the locations nearest to your set location.
If your business has social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. these pages will show up in results pages as well. As an added bonus, if your rel=”author” and rel=”publisher” tags are set up correctly, you can get nice pictures of the author or company next to the results. And if you are active on Google+ and have all of your SEO/SM ducks are in a row, you can gain a giant info box on the right side of the SERPs. As a comparison to the SERP screenshot above, the results for a Starbucks query showing good use of both Google+ Local and Google+ are below:
As you can see, other than the Wikipedia entry, Starbucks owns the vast majority of this SERP. Below the fold and not seen in the screenshot are more local listings, the official Starbucks Twitter and Facebook pages, and because SERP diversity is still in effect, some related news articles. With this much real estate under a brand’s control, it becomes far more difficult to notice any bad reviews or competitors. It is important to note that it’s not as simple as creating an account on as many social media platforms as possible. Each account should be managed closely and used often if they have any chance of ranking high enough to beat out the popular review sites like Yelp or Urban Spoon.
Although SERP diversity makes it harder for brands to completely control branded SERPs, there are still plenty of ways to regain any lost real estate. With the growing importance of Google+ and other social media platforms, we will continue to find ways to once again dominate the branded SERPs.
Customer service is hard. Just walk down the hall to the CSR “wing” and listen in to a couple of calls throughout the day. Customer service on social media platforms, however, adds a whole new level of drama to the experience simply by taking place in a public forum. Social media marketing allows for a direct line of communication, hitherto unavailable to the common consumer, and it’s public- suggesting that the user holds great leverage over the actions of the brand. Sometimes these public posts are legitimate inquiries regarding products/services. Sometimes, however, users just want to stir the pot. Here are a couple of guidelines to follow when determining whether or not intervention is necessary.
Here are three tricks of the trade when managing customer service on social networks:
1) Don’t feed the trolls. This cannot be mentioned in community management/customer service class enough times. As University of Central Lancashire lecturer Claire Hardaker so eloquently points out at the bottom of this infographic, the only way to combat trolling is to ignore it.
2) Elongate the conversation. This simple practice will weed out the trolls after your first or second response (trolls are too busy for an actual conversation). A good way to do this is to institute a character limit on yourself in your responses. You won’t be able to provide the full detailed resolution in your first 100 characters, which will allow you to carry the conversation over multiple comments during the resolution process.
When responding to legitimate inquiries (read: not trolls), always include a question to finish your response. 90% of the time (strong estimate) you, or the customer, do not know what the inquiry actually is. Don’t assume that the customer is entirely familiar with your product or your brand. This simple practice will cover most bases when managing your page; extracting all details, determining validity of the claim, showing personal attention in a public forum, etc.
3) Assume a “first name basis” with everyone. Always use the inquirer’s first name in your response. You will surprise yourself at how disarming something this simple can be, and the respect given will show throughout the conversation. It is not recommended, however, to use your own first name when representing the brand publicly. Use initials publicly, and your first name when responding in private messages.
Incorporate these three tricks today, and your community will silently thank you!
Here at Intrapromote our focus is on Integrated Search. The best socially focused newsrooms follow an integrated approach and we’ll examine here how some designers are weaving social content into the traditional online newsroom home page.
While socially influenced newsrooms are not new phenomena, lately several travel focused newsrooms have made headlines for their unique design and integrated social content. Vail Resorts is one travel industry newsroom that has been mentioned on two prominent blogs in the last few weeks (PRWEB – Press Release Distribution Options: Spread the Wealth and Social Media Today — Travel, Social Media and the Online Newsroom). The Vail Resorts newsroom is a destination in itself, and goes beyond the usual fact sheets and press contacts you’ll see on a lot of online newsrooms. From a usability standpoint the Vail Resorts newsroom puts everything at the user’s fingertips, so it takes only seconds to discover the relevant content that’s integrated from Twitter, Facebook, images and video.
There is more to creating a socially integrated newsroom than labeling it as such and placing a few social sharing icons on the page. While this is a good start, there are a number of creative designs that can inspire you as you search for the perfect balance of visual content and text, offers and listings of special events, webinars, etc. Your company can use its newsroom home page as a showcase for not only press release headlines, but images and video, too. Some good items to include in your newsroom are your company’s green and sustainability initiatives and community support events and partnerships. Integration is key – Make it easy for users to view your content from multiple sources on your newsroom home page.
Here are a few outstanding examples from a variety of verticals that can spur you on when creating your company’s newsroom:
Socially Integrated Newsroom Resource Tips: For more ideas, read this post on the subject by Steve Momorella at Social Media Today: Four Socially Integrated Online Newsrooms. In it he mentions the Vail Resorts newsroom as he did in his other post, but he also discusses survey report data that defines what he calls the “news consumer.” These insights can be helpful to you in planning your newsroom design.
Image above courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.
I’ve been really excited about our customers’ surging interest in online PR. It’s important especially in this economy to get the most value from every marketing initiative. Press releases provide so many value-added benefits, all within a neat 500-600 word package:
1) Keeps your brand in the news
2) Provides ability to control anchor text links with your most important keywords
3) Offers reputation management control benefits
4) Gives you the ability to target news to specific groups
5) Integrates as a key adjunct to SEO, SEM and social media marketing campaigns
At Intrapromote we offer you the flexibility to select the PR services that work for you. We sell full scale PR contracts where we do it all from writing to syndication, and we also work with a number of in-house mar-com departments editing and optimizing existing releases. Our ability to scale our PR services to your needs means you get the most for your press release marketing spend.
And if all of the above reasons to ramp up your PR efforts aren’t enough, why not try these as well:
- Fresh content is valued by Google
- PR updates keep your newsroom current for journalists who are searching for information about your company.
You don’t have a newsroom for your site you say? We can help with that too…
Need a way to keep your brand in front of your target audience? Email me, email@example.com and we’ll schedule an introductory phone call at your convenience.
Great PR Resource of the Day: How to Write a Successful Press Release
Intrapromote prides itself on its custom content marketing campaigns, and one way we make good on that promise is through our collaborative writing partnerships with our clients. We work within a variety of client relationships to strategize and write blog posts, web and email newsletter copy, press releases and other marketing focused copy.
One of the first questions I ask when we begin work with a new client is how would you like to go about producing marketing copy? Intrapromote works in all of the following capacities with our clients; often in several capacities simultaneously:
- We can write your marketing copy for you with your input and approval.
- Your writers can write a draft and we’ll polish it with best practices optimization and conversion language.
- PR campaigns offer additional flexibility as we can use your existing newswire account to syndicate your press releases for you, while taking advantage of all the targeting capabilities the newswires offer.
Here are three great examples of what we mean by collaborative writing:
This customer knows they can come to us and get a press release either written from scratch, optimized and syndicated at a moment’s notice; or they can hand us a release draft and say: “Just syndicate this.”
This customer hates staring at the blank page. He tells us to write something he can say yea or nay to. That works for him.
This customer writes excellent blog posts, but they are a bit rough and she knows that. She wants them polished and we do so in a way that preserves her authentic voice.
We invite you to contact Intrapromote for your copywriting, online press release, email marketing, and other content marketing campaigns. The added value you receive delivers a great return on investment.
One last example: I personally wrote a press release last week for reputation management purposes. I told the client that she might expect some business calls due to the release. She got in touch after it went live and said she had gotten several calls and a request for a quote from an industry publication! She and I had collaborated on the angle for the release and I wrote it and syndicated it. It worked because Intrapromote executed on the spirit of collaboration; which we believe has more than one definition.
We all know that having unique content is one of the keys to successful Internet marketing. I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce everyone to some of the outstanding content and branding that I’ve run across while surfing the web lately.
The first piece of content I’d like to share is from idrummag.com. This site has taken the idea of an actual magazine that you’d flip through in your local book store and transferred that feeling into the online world while making the experience even richer. You can view one of their drum magazines and see that they back up their tag line, “Quality On Every Click”. You’ll notice right away that it’s exactly like a magazine, with ads on the first few pages, a clickable index that takes you directly where you want to go, and high quality images and video woven in on every page. They also have worked in sharing options, email functionality, comments and a subscribe option to the bottom of every page.
That’s not to say that their content is perfect. It does not appear that this type of content is not indexable – which is a shame because there’s so much unique content to be found in these magazines. If they could make the text and images readable and embed YouTube videos instead of using their iDrum player I think they could really see some gains with this type of content.
To shift focus, I’ve been seeing some companies really leverage emerging software and applications to set themselves apart while bolstering their brand image. The one site I’ve been hooked on is We Are Hunted. I originally discovered We Are Hunted through Spotify, which they’ve used to establish a rapport with music listeners by offering an app dedicated to finding new music on Spotify. After trying their app I was compelled to visit their site where you the listener can create playlists with new music to share, with the chance to become a playlist superstar if your playlist makes it onto the “Popular Playlists” page. Not to mention that the app connects Spotify to your social media so that your friends on Facebook and Spotify can see you’re using their app, really making use of social relationships to build their user base.
It’s a perfect example of a brand using new technology and trends to hook users and eventually drive consistent traffic to their site.
Have you run across some Internet content or branding that is absolutely addicting? Feel free to share your findings by commenting below.
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