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Another Advantage of Using Google+ Hashtags

Hashtags have become commonplace in social media conversations.They seem to be used everywhere. People can now search Google using hashtags to find Google+ content – another benefit of posting on Google+. In other words, not only are Google+posts indexable but so are Google+ hashtags.

If you were not using Google+before, you have one more incentive to do so. Google continues integrating its products and services. A recent integration includes adding Google+ hashtags into their search results, which is a step beyond what other social media platforms have done.

Doing a Google search for #marchmadness returned these results:

Google Plus Hashtags Search-March Madness

Google+ content that used the #marchmadness hashtag is displayed on the right side, prime real estate, whereas regular search results are listed on the left. Interestingly, at the Google+ results is the option to search Twitter and Facebook.

The Google+ results are presented in a scrolling fashion but can also be viewed using the arrows. The number of +1’s and other post activity can be seen. Clicking on a result will send a person to a Google+ page with current results of posts using the #marchmadness hashtag (image 1). Clicking the link to the person or brand that posted the link will take a searcher to the respective Google+ profile (image 2). Only posts that have been publicly shared or shared with the person searching will appear so privacy controls remain intact.

Google Plus Hashtags Search-Related Postsimage 1

Google Plus Hashtags Search-Profileimage 2

So what does this mean for brands?

Brands should post content on Google+ and use relevant hashtags in their posts. With this recent integration, relevant hashtags amplify a brand’s content beyond its followers and becomes another way to have its social media content discovered  by people via Google search results. Who doesn’t want to be discovered?

Hashtags can be used in a variety of ways: campaign, brand, trending, niche trending, content, event and location. A brand’s goals and content will dictate which ones to use. But do not go overboard with tags or the post will look spammy.

Hashtags are now included in an expandable list of three items in the upper right corner of the post. Hashtags in gray are manually created whereas the ones in blue are auto generated by Google based on the post’s content. While a hashtag is being manually created, Google will autosuggest other tags. For example, typing “#socialmedia” may generate the suggestion “#socialmediatips,” which could be a more relevant choice than the generic tag. Only using generic tags will cause a brand’s message to be lost in the noise and target too general an audience. Any unwanted tags in the list can be removed. If more than three hashtags are used, use the most important ones first. Clicking on a hashtag takes a person to related posts that used the particular hashtag and even related hashtags for more in-depth exploration.

As this feature is still fairly new, its potential success is unknown. The number of people who search by hashtag will determine the impact it has on brands. Even if it does not fully live up to expectations, the indexability of Google+ posts provides numerous benefits to justify a Google+ presence. Meanwhile, tag it!

Thinking About Using Social Logins on Your Website?

social login options“90% of people have encountered social login before, and more than half of people use it.” ~Janrain

Social logins increase the time people spend on a website and apps and can help increase the purchase of goods and services by reducing the need to create an account or remember log in information. Therefore, an increasing number of websites are using social logins as a way for people to quickly create accounts for purchases or to access membership only portions. Social logins allow people to use their Facebook or other social media account credentials to sign in instead of creating unique usernames and passwords. Social logins have great benefits, but website owners need to be aware of all aspects before implementing them.

Let’s briefly explore some of the pros and cons of using social logins on a website or app:


  • One less login for people to remember
    With multiple accounts, people have difficulty remembering sign in information. A recent Janrain study shows 50% of people who use social login do so because of this issue.
  • Easier conversions, especially on mobile
    Because of the registration ease, people are more likely to stay on the site to purchase goods and services, especially if trying to accessing the site via mobile. Ever try to fill out a registration on a smartphone? Not easy.
  • Gain tremendous visitor data
    Social login provides you with instant demographic and psychographic data about your customers, which improves segmentation, personalization and targeting efforts. Just think of how much data Facebook has on you.
  • Greater personalized experience
    Since you have a greater amount and depth of visitor data, visitor experiences can be much more personalized.
  • Less spam / mistargeted messaging
    Greater visitor data means your communications are less likely to be considered spam or mistargeted.
  •  Possible lower cart abandonment
    If people have to register to purchase items in their carts, many will abandon them rather than create an account. Gigya is working on integrating billing information into its social login solution to make purchases even easier.
  • Social logins provide familiarity
    If your brand is not well-known, seeing the familiar logos of Facebook, Twitter or other social media networks can provide visitors with a greater sense of familiarity and comfort.
  • Possible fewer failed logins
    Without having to remember usernames and passwords, there is the possibility of fewer failed login attempts. Recovering log in information is frustrating, and many people will not complete it. Successful log ins mean people will stay longer on the site or app and possibly make more purchases. 

  • Data accuracy
    People do not always provide accurate data when creating a social media account or may no longer be using the email accounts they signed up with. Also, you may not get any information depending on a person’s privacy settings.
  • Loss of control to a third party
    If Facebook, Twitter or other network goes down or has some difficulty, then people will not be able to access accounts on other sites using their social login. Also, a customer may cancel a social media account. If that account was used to sign into your account, her account with you is also cancelled.
  • Security issues
    If one of these social identity providers is hacked, then all accounts a person uses that profile to sign into can also be compromised.
  • Lack of trust by consumers
    For people who choose not to use social login, Janrain reports the three most common reasons include lack of trust of the company using their information appropriately, fear of the company posting to their social media feeds and fear of being spammed.
  • Missing consumers not on social media
    For various reasons, not everyone uses social media. Therefore, if you only use social media login, you are missing a large audience. Think revenue.
  • Mixed branding
    Some companies, like MailChimp, feel having the logos of social networks so prominent on their sites give the false impression of an implied endorsement and dilutes brand identity with a NASCAR-style logo covered page.
  • Too many options
    With multiple social login options, you may create friction you were trying to avoid because now the visitor has to choose between multiple networks.
  • Lack of customer email addresses
    Not all social identity providers allow for access to email addresses. Email advertising is still a strong marketing option.
  • Visitor forgetting which social login used
    Unless people use the same social media account for all social logins, they will periodically find themselves in the same predicament as when they created unique usernames and passwords.

If you decide social login is right for your website or app, follow these simple best practices:

  • Have a true purpose for using social login. Do not do it because others are.
  • Choose the networks actually used by your websites. Facebook is the dominant one per Gigya and Janrain, but option preferences vary by website type, geography and other factors. For Q4 2013, Janrain reported that for sites using its platform 45% of consumers used Facebook while 35% used Google. Gigya reported 51% and 28% respectively.
  • Update your privacy policy to meet the requirements of the social media identity providers you are using.
  • Do not ask for more data than you need. You can always ask for more later on in the process.
  • Be transparent about exactly how you will be using visitors’ information.
  • Place the social login in a prominent position.
  • Provide the option for an email registration.

As you can see social logins provide numerous benefits with a drawbacks. If you are not sure whether to go this route, you may wish to experiment with it for a while to see how your visitors respond. Many sites benefit, but MailChimp found a simple copywriting change was more effective for it.

Have you used social login on sites and apps? Do you have a social login solution for your own website or app? Leave comments or questions in the box below.

8 Ways to Leverage Pinterest for SEO


Pinterest isn’t just a place to pin pretty pictures. This fast growing social media platform can provide SEO benefits to your website.

Here are eight easy ways to maximize the SEO benefits of Pinterest:

1. Post Unique Content.

Fresh and unique content ranks higher than rehashed or old content. Add interesting photos, videos, graphics and other design elements to capture people’s attention. Don’t forget to pin YouTube videos for a little extra punch. Just be sure that you do not violate any copyright laws because the onus will be on you,  not Pinterest.

2. Optimize “About” section.

With only 160 characters to explain who you are, what value you add and any authority you bring,creativity and brevity are key. You will also want to include keyword(s) for people to find you. Your Twitter experience will come in handy at this point. Also, include a company logo and location. Last, make sure you website is verified.

3. Differentiate your boards.

Many users use default board names. Instead, use descriptive titles with appropriate keyword(s) for your boards to make it easy to understand exactly what it is about. Remember they are skimming the content. Continuing this method in the captions and content. However, avoid keyword stuffing because that tactic backfires.

4. Build backlinks into your content.

Like on your website, backlinks are important on Pinterest. Add relevant links to your website when you create captions and content. Every time your content is pinned or re-pinned a “nofollow” backlink is created. Do not use a URL shortener because Pinterest sometimes flags that as spam.

5. Tag pins with hashtags.

Like on Twitter, hashtags can further help people find specific content on interest, which increases followers and content sharing. If you are doing a cross-channel campaign, use the same hashtag across the board.

6. Use the categories feature.

Using the categories features helps align your brand with a particular niche of people, Again, this technique helps the right audience find you.

7. Include a “Pin It” button.

Make it easy for people to share your content on Pinterest by including a Pin It button on your website, blog posts and other online content. This button functions just like other social share buttons obtaining your brand greater exposure.

8. Build followers.

Just like on other social media platforms followers are important. Build your following by commenting, liking and following people. In other words, be social. Social media is about “pull,” not “push.” The larger your following the better your search engine ranking.


As Pinterest is the fastest growing platform, it cannot be ignored by business for marketing or SEO purposes. With a little creativity, even businesses that are not typically considered “visual friendly” can benefit from using it. These suggestions provide you with a starting point on the SEO benefits of using Pinterest, but the list is not exhaustive. As Pinterest evolves, even more tactics will emerge. Its recent purchase of VisualGraph could prove instrumental in improving search on the site.

What ways are you using Pinterest to bump up SEO for your website? 

Google+ SEO – Social Signals in Search


In a prior post, I discussed optimizing Facebook for SEO. As we’ve seen, what you do in social media has a direct effect on how (or if) you are found in search results. Not only does what you do in Facebook matter, Google+ also has a role in search engine results. They are both a big part of the social signals in search.

In 2011, Google announced that Google+ public posts will begin showing in search results. Similar to Facebook’s social influence on Bing, the Google+ integration will show you when your “friends” have shared a story or link.

Google+ Optimization Tips

  1. Link to all other profiles.
    Make Google+ your central hub for all your accounts. This allows Google to make an easier connection on who you are and where you are located on the web.
  2. Meta Description.
    The same philosophy applied to page optimization works with Google+ as well. Although Meta Description has little affect on rankings. A good meta description will show in search results and will result in a higher click-through-rate.
    Google Plus in Search Results
  3. Don’t Go Stale.
    Search engines love fresh content. Google+ is no exception.
  4. Use and Optimize Every Field.
    The more information you add, the better your chances of being found.Google Plus Introduction


  5. Optimizing Posts.
    What happens in Google+ matters to Google. That means that all posts are relevant and can show up in search results. Best keywords practices should still apply.
  6. Content is Still King.
    Good content leads to more sharing. If you develop something worth sharing, it will be shared.

Ultimately, it all matters. Google+ is one aspect of SEO. It can save you or break you, but every little step matters. Google+ should be a part of your SEO plan, is it?

Avoid the Lure of the Shiny Object Syndrome in Social Media

social media shiny objectResist the lure of the shiny object syndrome if you want your social media efforts to be successful. For some businesses, when a new social media tool or network is launched, they quickly add it to their arsenal. They are spellbound by whatever is the latest and greatest. Then, they find themselves overwhelmed and unable to gain traction. They suffer from the shiny object syndrome.

Do you have the shiny object syndrome or want to avoid it? Before you set up another social media account, ask yourself these questions about your current ones:

Does this network further the implementation of our strategy?

All your tactical efforts need to support your strategy. If not, then you risk moving your company in the wrong direction and wasting time and money.

√ Is our target audience using this network?

If your target audience is not using a network or is minimally using it, then spending time on it does not make sense. You want to go where your audience is.

√ Is this network appropriate for our brand and products or services?

Not every social media network is appropriate for every brand. Some are better for B2B while others are better for B2C, and each network has its own tone to it. If you are unsure, research case studies, reviews, etc. to make the determination about the match.

√ Do we have the resources available to create content, engage people and monitor on this network?

Social media requires a lot of time and effort. Regardless of your social media team’s size, you want to be vigilant about how much you take on so you do not become overwhelmed, dilute your efforts or sabotage your success.

If you answer no to any one of these questions, place that network on a list to be deleted. If the answers are yes, then continue your efforts. These same questions can be used to review any potential additions. If the answers are yes for a new one, then start creating your strategy and content for it and set up the account.

Start with only a couple of networks. Develop your presence on them, and become proficient in using them. Then, start testing the most promising of other networks, keeping what works. Think rifle approach, not shotgun.

Trying out something new is fun, but using a measured, strategic approach to social media will help you avoid the shiny object syndrome and have your social media efforts be more successful.

Have you caught the shiny object syndrome or avoided it?


Facebook SEO – Social Signals in Search


I am often asked about Facebook’s role in organic search rankings. We all want any advantage we can get to boost our presence in Google. I could provide the standard stock answers:

  • Be Real
  • Encourage Engagement
  • Have Fun
  • Post Photos

Those are all great tips, but those only take you so far. Facebook optimization is very similar to optimizing a website. A great looking page will only get you so far. You still need to follow some general best practices when thinking SEO with Facebook.

Before getting into those, I wanted to highlight a few other areas.

Any SEO plan always start with keyword research. Without knowing what you are optimizing for, then SEO efforts become meaningless. Through discussion, research, and competitive comparison, the list can be refined to a core list of 10-20 keywords. Keeping the list of keywords short makes it much easier to pull from when looking to optimize Facebook posts and descriptions about your company.

Facebook Graph Search
Facebook introduced graph search in Spring, 2013. With this new search tool, Facebook pulls information from its billions of accounts, plus supplemental information provided by Bing.

The new Facebook search is based on a social graph. That means that search results are based on your personal connections. Just like Google results, rankings are becoming irrelevant. What you see in your Facebook results will most likely be different than what I see. That does not mean that optimization tactics cannot apply, in fact they are even more important than before to stand out.

Ever wonder why you see certain posts in your Facebook feed? That’s because of EdgeRank, Facebook’s formula for deciding what shows in your news feed. In short, EdgeRank looks at weight and time when knowing what posts to show in your feed. If the post is still timely, active, gaining comments, likes, and shares then it has a higher EdgeRank. That leads to more likes.

I am aware of Jessica Lee’s recent post on Search Engine Watch: “EdgeRank is Dead, Long Live Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm!” However, reading the entire article we see that it’s not really dead. It’s just a name change.
To quote Jessica:

“Conceptually, the EdgeRank algorithm is alive, but the word ‘EdgeRank’ is dead.”

Until a better name is developed, I’ll stick with EdgeRank.

When looking to optimize for Facebook, it’s not that different than techniques used to optimize for a web page. Title, Meta Description, Headers, Content are all relevant to Facebook as well. In fact, there is often a corresponding element on Facebook that matches website elements. I’ll go through some of those common SEO elements below and how they relate to Facebook.

Page Title
While many techniques have come and gone with SEO, Page Titles are still a top priority. When optimizing for Page Titles on a website we emphasize keywords and length. Within Facebook those same concepts apply. There are several areas that act as Titles within search results.

Page Name
When Facebook pages show up in search results, it will show the page name first. Although, from an SEO perspective the tendency is to stuff keywords in the page name, that’s not ideal. You still want to emphasize your brand and let Facebook know you are a legitimate business not “gaming the system”. Facebook has disabled generic, keyword-stuffed, pages in the past. The optimal approach is to work them both in the name. Keeping in mind the first word is the most essential element.

Facebook Pages in Google Results

When sharing any information on Facebook, remember the keyword research you’ve already done. 
It’s important to try to work a targeted keyword in as early as you can into the Posts. Ideally, just like HTML Title tags, the first word is essential.

Posts in Google Results

Meta Descriptions 
We know Meta Descriptions is an old school SEO practice. They use to have a dramatic effect on search rankings, however, it’s fair to say that has stopped. Meta Descriptions are not ranking factors now, but still extremely essential because these often show up in search results. The better their description and relevancy to the searchers intent, the higher the click-through-rate.

Posts – The same Meta Description philosophy can be applied to Facebook Posts. It’s often the Facebook post that shows in Google search results under the title of the page. Because Google has limited amount of space, it’s important to get to the keyword and call-to-action fast. All other sentences are needed and great for users on Facebook, but within search results the first sentence is the best.

About – The about section is also equivalent to the Meta Description when pages show in Google search results. Again, a larger message is great for Facebook. In fact, that’s encouraged. However, the first sentence is crucial. Analyze your about section and make sure you have a targeted keyword at the beginning of a well-written, grammatically clean, paragraph.

After the first sentence, the next 155 characters are also important. That’s because when new pages are found its first 155 characters that are often displayed in Facebook search results or before a page is “Liked”.

An area that is often overlooked in Facebook optimization is Notes. The Meta Description and Page Titles rules apply to Notes as well. As seen in the Google result below, Facebook Notes can be picked up. Keywords need to be targeted in the Notes Title and in the first sentence of the Note.

Facebook Posts in Google results

Facebook Posts in Google results

Traffic vs Engagement
The above information contains some great tips to optimize your presence in search results, whether in Google or Facebook results. However, engagement is always more important than traffic. In fact, engagement leads to more traffic. Don’t get caught trying to chase the quick visit. You may get some immediate numbers, but a long term strategy and engagement plan will result in many more visitors, and more importantly customers.

The Top Posts About Enhanced Campaigns (so far)

Since Google announced the upgrade to AdWords Enhanced Campaigns 3 months ago, there have been a slew of posts by PPC industry expert blogs about everything from early strategic theories to the impacts on campaigns.

Here is a list of posts that best explain AdWords Enhanced Campaigns so far:

The Whats and Whys of AdWords Enhanced Campaigns

Google AdWords Enhanced Campaigns: The Good, Bad & Uncool by Alistair Dent via Search Engine Watch

Google to Force You to Go Mobile with Enhanced Campaigns by Sam Owen via PPC Hero

Why Enhanced Campaigns Aren’t Really An Upgrade or Improvement by Neil Sorenson on Search Engine Land  

What Specifically is Being Enhanced?

AdWords Enhanced Campaign Upgrades to Include Integration with Google+ and Mobile Apps on Inside AdWords

Enhanced Campaigns: Offer Extensions and Location Targeting Explained and Ad Group-Level Bids Coming to Enhanced Campaigns by Ginny Marvin on Search Engine Land

Bidding Strategies

How to Determine Your Hourly Bid Multiplier in AdWords by Benjamin Vigneron via Search Engine Land

Demystifying Google’s Enhanced Campaigns Bid Modifiers by Jeremy Hull on ClickZ

Enhanced Campaigns – Workarounds and Best Practices You Need to Know by Sana Ansari at PPC Associates


7 Reasons Why You Should Invest in PPC Marketing

Are you one of those businesses that has tired PPC marketing, but didn’t work for you? Or maybe it worked for a month then just “dropped off?”

Like anything that is worth it, PPC takes time, and when set up and continually managed well, it CAN be a profitable avenue.

Here are the top reasons that your business should invest in PPC (or try it again) and make it part of your marketing strategy.

You can see the actual numbers. 
One of the greatest downfalls of traditional marketing is that there is no way to know for sure how many people saw an advertisement and how many of those viewers made an action after seeing it. With AdWords PPCs not only is it possible to know ad impressions, clicks, conversions, and specific metrics, Google has also recently earned Media Rating Council accreditation  for their ability to measure viewability for one of their newer products.

You can’t be everywhere all of the time.
As a small business owner, you can’t be an expert at everything; it’s just not possible. It is worth your time to partner with an expert who has proven success record and who is active in the PPC industry. Google AdWords updates their platform very often, sometimes daily, so find a PPC expert that keeps up on trends so they can consistently optimize your campaigns and your bottom line.

You can buy  phrases that you don’t organically rank for.
Optimizing a site to rank well organically for keywords that convert is the ultimate goal, but if your site isn’t showing on the first page of results it’s probably not getting as much traffic as you need. Utilize a  PPC strategy  to target keywords that your site can’t organically rank for.

Buy more space on the results page.
Double your real estate on the search results page by purchasing keywords that you do rank well for, thereby doubling the chance of a click and a conversion.

PPC can be affordable.
You don’t need a large budget to compete in PPC. When managed well the CPA for PPC can be relatively low. And unlike other forms of marketing, the ROI can be measured with PPC.

Get a quick response from PPC.
PPC’s campaigns can easily be paused if your company no longer offers a product, or ads can be immediately updated based on your inventory, business trends, or unexpected situations. It only takes an email to your skilled PPC partner who can immediately update the campaigns.

AdWords Targeting options that WILL reach your customers.
PPC affords you the opportunity to reach relevant customers based on very targeted specifics including: location (down to a zip code), search intent, search time of day, device used to search (tablet, computer, mobile), and a slew of other options. AdWords is also actively rolling out upgrades and expanding the platform to include Social signals (Google+), advertising options on mobile apps, and bid adjustments based on a assortment of factors.

Skilled PPC agencies will ensure that you are visible to customers at the right time during their decision process and buying cycles

Beat the other guys.
Your competitors are investing in PPC and capturing your customers, let’s go get them back!

Nashville SEO & Internet Marketing Meetup: Google Rich Snippets & Author Highlighting

Nashville SEO & Internet Marketing group will be discussing author highlighting on Thursday, November 29. Please join us.

The Nashville SEO & Internet Marketing Meetup crew is a great group of people organized by Ross Jones of 2 the Top Web Site Design & Promotion. You can join the group here: Every month this group discuss the latest trends in search engine marketing.

Nashville SEO & Internet Marketing

November’s Nashville SEO & Internet Marketing event is another great topic! After attending PubCon in Las Vegas, author highlighting and rich snippets are fresh on my mind. It was clearly the trending topic during this annual search and social conference. In fact, I presented a spotlight session, Social Signals in Search, where I discussed Google rich snippets and author highlighting.

Let’s catch up on November 29 at the next Nashville SEO & Internet Marketing. See you there!


Winning Google+ Hangout Strategies

Give people what they want and they will (Google+) hangout with you!
One constant in any marketing strategy, whether it be in the format of print, email, website, or social media is providing targeted content to a targeted audience … AKA – Giving people what they want. If you (a brand, business, marketer) provide it, they (your customers, brand ambassadors, industry influencers) will soak it in, like it, and hopefully share it.

How does this apply to the shiny widgets on Google+?
Google+ provides an opportunity for brands to connect with their audience in a unique, interactive way via “Hangouts” and “Hangouts On Air”. As a marketer, this opens up a whole new platform for connecting brands with their audiences, but also provides an opportunity for companies to show their personality and go “behind the scenes” for those interested in a deeper connection to a brand than just an ad or email offer.

Google Plus
Here are a few examples of innovative ways brands can incorporate Google+ hangouts into their content marketing strategies:

  • Google+ hangouts with celebrity endorsers and bloggers/ brand ambassadors
  • Google+ hangouts with engineers, R&D, manufacturers of products
  • Google+ hangouts with CEOs, Board Members, Industry Association Leaders

What are the trends for marketers and brands with Google+ Hangouts?
According to Ad Age: “The potential audience reach of “Hangouts On Air” — where the Hangout can be viewed by anyone who has the brand in their Circles, even if they’re not among the nine selected to actively participate — is attractive to brands, but programming one requires coordinating with Google to set it up on the back end, and Google has only done a handful so far, including a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in October and a session with “The Muppets” on their brand page to promote their upcoming film last week. Christian Oestlien, Google’s head of social advertising products, said the ultimate goal is to make Hangouts on Air a feature that brands can program independently.” – [Source:]

Interested in playing with Google+’s Hangouts On Air?
Here’s a getting started guide from Mashable:

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