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Friday, November 23, 2007

Social Marketing & SEO; Making Moe Mad

You're probably wondering about the second part of that title - Making Moe Mad. I'll explain where Moe fits in shortly.

What is social marketing and how does it relate to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)? In a nutshell, social marketing is about using "Web 2.0" style websites to create quality links (an essential ingredient in SEO), distribute your content beyond the bounds of a regular static website, and generate direct traffic to your site.

Web 2.0 sites are new-generation sites where the content is essentially user-generated. Some examples are Facebook, Digg and StumbleUpon, but there are hundreds out there with more created every day. Some focus on bookmarking, where you tag (label) your favourite sites and share them with other users, while others use a voting system where members submit and vote on "stories" (usually blog posts). Others allow you to submit video or podcasts.

Although I've had some experience with social marketing I didn't really fully appreciate the potential until I downloaded Jack Humphey's free Authority Black Book. If you haven't downloaded this book, do it now. In my view it's worth more than many books I've paid up to $100 for. Yes, I know, nothing is really free. In this case the book is promoting Jack's Authority Site Center, but that's no bad thing. ASC is a good investment BUT you don't need to join or buy anything to benefit from this book. The techniques and resources are essentially free and available for you to start using right now. This is a case study of putting the techniques in the Authority Black Book into action.

To make the most of social marketing you really need a blog. You can use social bookmarking to create links to your regular static websites, but blogging allows you to do much more. The Authority Black Book advises that WordPress is far superior to other blogging platforms such as Blogger. The blog you're reading now was created with Blogger, so to put that advice to the test I decided to apply Jack's techniques to a recently launched site on affiliate marketing; Affiliate-Sales-Programs.com. This site was created with WordPress.

I'd already done a few posts on ASP, but not much link building, and I was yet to see any significant results. So I posted a review of Google Snatch, which I'd already reviewed on this blog. That review had not ranked particularly well. After applying Jack's techniques to the new review it showed up in Google, within 24 hours, at #2. Then it slipped back to page 2, and then bounced back to #1, which is where it is as I write this.

There's a certain irony here. My review of GS (a guide to SEO, despite what the sales page says) was quite negative. I actually recommend you don't buy it. I used none of the advice given in the book, apart from some basic keyword research (which I do anyway), yet here was my review ranking #1 on Google.

My next review was for XSitePro, which again I'd already reviewed on stevepronger.com. This product has been around a long time and there are a lot of affiliates promoting it, including big names in affiliate marketing like Allan Gardyne. No number ones yet, but it's currently #19 (page 2) on Google. Given the level of competition, and the fact that this is a newly launched site, I don't think that's half bad!

Clearly, the methods discussed in the Authority Black Book are extremely effective. Not only are the posts on affiliate-sales-programs.com ranking well, but for the target keywords "affiliate sales programs" the site has moved up to #11 on Google and is currently #1 on MSN.

However, there are some things you need to be aware of before you start applying these strategies. Generally you won't have any problems using bookmarking to build links to your posts (as long as you don't try to do hundreds in one day) but submitting your posts to sites like Digg and Newsvine can create problems for you. Essentially, these sites do not like you:

  • submitting your own content
  • submitting content which promotes a product or contains an affiliate link

In fact, Digg banned me. Newsvine were much nicer about it, but warned me not to continue doing what I was doing. Newsvine is still worth joining though, even if you don't submit your posts, because you can create links to your own sites in your profile page.

Another site I submitted to called Plime gave me a rating of minus 72 for my posts. Which brings me to Moe. Moe (his avatar was a picture of Moe from the 3 Stooges) had left a comment on my post that it was a "splog". A splog is a spam blog. I've seen lots of splogs. They exist for no other reason than to create links and usually contain scraped or computer-generated content which is complete rubbish to human readers. They have no value to anyone. Does the blog you are reading now look like a splog to you?

I found it quite amusing to look through some of the stories which received high votes on Plime. A raccoon with bulging eyes. A baby is born with eight limbs. A horse and jockey fail to make a jump. The horse dies. And so does the jockey. Yeah, great stories guys.

But, submit a story which can help a small business owner market their business online more effectively, even if it's telling them to NOT buy a particular product, and it's spam, spam, spam. If you're reading this Moe, you wouldn't know a splog if one bit you in the arse there buddy.

That's the problem with sites like Plime. The users just aren't interested in marketing related content. But that's fine. Who gives a rat's when there are so many other social networking sites you can submit to. And remember, your objective here is to promote and distribute your content, not win a popularity contest. Your posts to these sites WILL show up in the search engines even if you do have a vote count of minus 72.



What about Digg? To be honest, Digg isn't worth it. Yes, they are a high authority and high traffic site. And yes, if you manage to get a front page listing they can actually crash your server from the traffic (or so I've heard), but I've also heard the traffic does not stay long and is untargeted. What's more, there are many, many other Digg-like sites who are far more enlightened and will welcome your submissions. Of course you still want to submit quality content. Don't spam them with pure advertising.

So, what are some of the better Web 2.0 sites to experiment with? Here are my top recommendations:

There are many others. Do some experimenting and find the best ones to submit your content to. Check the search engines for social networking sites which come up when you search your keywords, and join them. Some won't welcome your content, but others will. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


So, is blogging/social marketing worth it? For your average small business owner, blogging is something they just don't have the time or motivation to do. For them, your traditional SEO and link building strategies will achieve the desired results. But, there can be no doubt that blogging, preferably with WordPress, and using the social networks to distribute your content and build links, is an extremely effective marketing tool, and can funnel targeted traffic to your existing site.

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