Is it Time to Take a Machete to Your SEO Strategy?

3 Jun

Disclaimer: This column contains ideas that advocate radical changes to the SEO strategy for many web publishers. This may or may not be the best thing for you to consider for your website. You need to evaluate that risk for yourself, and neither the author, nor Search Engine Watch, can be responsible for how you take this advice or the impact on your business.

Has your site been subject to a steady ongoing decline in organic search traffic? Or even hit by a penalty? Either of these are likely signals that something is wrong in how your site is being perceived by Google. Your site likely is sending Google signals that it is infected with poor quality SEO or commercialization practices.

Do you want to reverse the damage and get back to strong traffic growth over time? Then you should pay close attention to what Google’s Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts said about disavowing links:

“One common issue we see with disavow requests is people going through with a fine-toothed comb when they really need to do something more like a machete on the bad backlinks.”

While Cutts’ comment was focused on links, this concept really applies to the entire web strategy of many different publishers for whom SEO or commercialization has become an excessive focus.

Using a machete sounds like it hurts! And, it will.

Seriously, for most businesses, trying to save as many links or questionable on site SEO practices as possible will doom you to a long slow process of trying to get clean in Google’s eyes.

You can spend 6 to 12 months trying to recover if you get too cute about it. You may need to sacrifice short-term revenue to get back to a place where you can grow your business going forward.

machete-eric-enge

(Yes, that’s me with a genuine machete!)

Google’s Algo Update Process

It will always possible for people to name reasonable exceptions, except, for one fact – Google is not building spam fighting algorithms to evaluate each individual site on the web. They are building spam fighting algos that improve the overall quality of search results.

The new search algorithm launch process looks something like this:

  1. They assemble a series of test cases for areas that they want to address. This comes in the form of a set of motivating searches, where the results are not as high in quality as they would like
  2. They come up with an algorithm to address most of the test cases.
  3. They run a series of in-house tests to see if it works. To do this they show a number of “raters” two results side by side, the current search result, and the search result that makes use of the new algorithm.
  4. If the raters pass the new algo, they then test it with a small part of the Web population, in what Google calls a “sandbox”.
  5. They measure whether or not the net interaction with the search results is improved.
  6. The output of these experiments is then discussed with a launch decision team. If it is approved by that team, they roll out the change to the general population.

Google Algorithm Validation Process

The decision is data-driven, based on the overall improvement of search results. The algorithm update is designed to improve overall search quality, and it is truly not about your site individually.

The Key Takeaway

Don’t think of the Google algo as performing an analysis on a site by site basis. Think of it as looking for signatures or profiles of sites that are good for users vs. those that are not good for users.

It is not about you. To Google it is about recognizing patterns in web publishing behavior that allow them to show more of the top quality sites in the first few search results, and less poor quality sites there.

What does that mean for you? It is about how your motivations express themselves as a web publisher. You should be OK if your day to day focus is something like:

  • “We want to offer the best damn ______________ resource on the web and we will accept nothing less”

There are other variants of this, such as a determination to offer the fastest way to learn about some topic, or the lowest prices anywhere on the web, or goals of these types.

Here are a few motivations that won’t work:

  • We will make more money per visitor than anyone else.
  • We are going to compete for every long tail search query we can think of.
  • We are going to manage our publishing strategy based on rankings reports
  • Let’s increase organic traffic by getting lots of web sites to link to us (without a concern about the relevance an quality of those sites).

Summary

While this article is a “philosophy piece”, the reality is that without the right philosophy no amount of effective execution is likely to help you win in the long run. The reality is that Google, and to a lesser degree Bing, make the rules.

Get your priorities in line with the right motivations and you will be in line with what Google and Bing want you to do. This will get you out of the business of trying to figure out what they will let you get away with today, and set you up for much less risk of getting slammed by their algo changes of tomorrow.

 

Reference :- http://searchenginewatch.com/
EBriks Infotech :- SEO Company India SMO Company India PPC Company India
Address:-  Image  E-171,Sec-63 Noida(UP) India-201301

Google Updates Data Highlighter, Launches Structured Data Markup Helper

3 Jun

If you haven’t started using structured data with Google to help your websites yet, Google has introduced some new tools to make it easier for webmasters to provide structured data for their webpages.

google-data-highlighter

First, Google has updated their Data Highlighter to now cover eight types of structured data, which allows webmasters to easily tag key fields on their sites for the applicable structured data. The tool now includes the following types:

  • Events
  • Products
  • Local businesses
  • Articles
  • Software applications
  • Movies
  • Restaurants
  • TV episodes

To use the tool, you need to login to Webmaster Tools, choose your site and then click “Optimization”, then “Data Highlighter”. It gives you the option to tag a single page or multiple pages, verify the tags, and then “publish” it to Google. The process will take webmasters about 5 minutes for single pages, and 15 minutes of a series of similar pages.

structured-data-markup-helper

Second, for advanced webmasters, there is the Structured Data Markup Helper. You can use the helper to embed structured data right onto webpages, as the tool provides microdata annotations you copy into the page’s HTML. You can then use this information to tag similar pages on your site.

You can read a brief overview of these new tools on the Inside Search blog and a more advanced look at the tools on the Google Webmaster Central blog.

 

Reference        :- http://searchenginewatch.com/

EBriks Infotech :- SEO Company India SMO Company India PPC Company India

Address            :-      Image        E-171,Sec-63 Noida(UP) India-201301

Google Confirms Negative SEO Exists

3 Jun

negative-seo

For years, Google stood by the stance that there was little competitors could do to a website to negatively affect its search engine rankings. As natural links became more valuable and paid links were devalued or penalized, Google changed their stance slightly on the issue, but still maintained it wasn’t a widespread issue, with Google’s Matt Cutts admitting negative SEO isn’t impossible, but it is difficult.

Then came the link disavow tool, which allows webmasters to disallow paid or low quality links and clean up their backlink profile, regardless of whether they or a competitor was responsible for pointing those backlinks at a website.

Now Google has changed their stance once again, simply saying that Google works hard to prevent competitors from utilizing negative SEO.

The change was noticed on the “Can Competitors harm ranking?” help page at Google Webmaster Tools.

When the page first went online, it simply stated “There’s nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.” Last year, when negative SEO became a lot more prevalent, the wording was changed to “There’s almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.”

This week, webmasters noticed that the wording was changed once more, to “Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.”

This is a clear admission that yes, negative SEO does exist and it can result in third parties being able to remove competing sites from the Google search index, or at least negatively impact their search rankings.

While changing the wording is a confirmation for many webmasters that Google is finally acknowledging the problem, it could also tip off negative SEO wars between competitors. Some webmasters might not have engaged in negative SEO for the simple reason that so many people insisted the problem was next to nonexistent, although those who have been impacted by it know otherwise. So some unscrupulous webmasters might think nothing of link bombing competitors with one of those “10,000 backlinks for $20” deals that are advertised everywhere.

That said, webmasters who might not follow SEO news closely, or who haven’t had their sites impacted by negative SEO, might never visit that page and see confirmation that negative SEO is a potential problem. The change to the page reflecting Google’s new stance on the issue was made very quietly, and seems limited to just that single page.

It is a step moving forward that Google is acknowledging that negative SEO is a real problem, but it is also positive that they are also acknowledging that they are looking at ways to combat the issue.

 

Reference :- http://searchenginewatch.com/

EBriks Infotech :- SEO Company India SMO Company India PPC Company India

Address:-   Image     E-171,Sec-63 Noida(UP) India-201301

Image

Do You Want To know About Local SEO By EBriks Infotech

3 Jun

Do You Want To know About Local SEO By EBriks Infotech

EBriks Infotech Is A Leading Brand SEO Company India That Come In Top Five SEO Company In India.We Share A Important Information About Local SEO.We Increase Organic Search Engine Rankings,Increase your sales And Also Increase your profits Share With Us Friend.If You Want To More Infomation About This Then Visit http://www.ebriks.com

Image

Do You Want To know About Digital Marketing Strategy By EBriks Infotech

31 May

Do You Want To know About Digital Marketing Strategy By EBriks Infotech

EBriks Infotech Is A Leading Brand SEO Company India That Come In Top Five SEO Company In India.We Share A Important Information About Digital Marketing Strategy.We Increase Organic Search Engine Rankings,Increase your sales And Also Increase your profits Share With Us Friend.If You Want To More Infomation About This Then Visit http://www.ebriks.com

Engage a Wider Audience by Optimizing for Personalized News Readers

30 May

The consumption of news is changing… rapidly. Traditional print news has been fading away, and the convergence of electronic and interactive media is taking over. Consumers are longing for more personalization, voting and filtering options to deliver spot-on news in a digital world with many distractions. The current challenge for publishers is to determine how to cater to an audience that has more control than ever to choose what shows up in their news feed.

Personalized News Readers / Social News Readers
A few of the current players in the personalized/social news reader app space.

Recent changes in the way news can be consumed has publishers either scratching their heads to figure it out, or chomping at the bits on how to leverage these emerging news platforms. Media publishers that stay innovative and leading-edge are in a great position to leverage the power of personalized news readers (aka social news readers) to stay connected through a customer journey. Popular news reader app Flipboard announced they had 20 million users back in August of 2012, so it’s a technology that cannot be ignored!

Before providing insights into how publishers can better optimize their content, let’s review some recent technology changes and shifts in consumer behavior…

The backbone that has helped power content in various personalized news readers took a slight blow with Google’s announcement of the Google Reader service getting shut down. I personally have used Google Reader to power content for news readers on my iOS devices including Zite and Flipboard. From an end-user standpoint I am bummed about Google Reader going away, but I am just as excited for the opportunity for another player to step in and leverage RSS technology. Feedly is already making some big gains in acquiring new users and Digg announced they are building a reader solution.

As of late there has been a shift from aggregating great content via RSS, to following publishers on social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. This evolution isn’t a surprise due to the increasing adoption and usage of social media, but as a news consumer I get nervous this shift will lead to more noise and cluttered news and information. I’m only saying this because an app like Zite has allowed me to really leverage my Google Reader RSS feeds to get great articles for reading without combing through vast amounts of noise in social media feeds. Regardless of personal preference, there are more options now than ever to find content that matters to each individual.

Some of the newer personalized news platforms are bypassing RSS altogether and relying on linking to your social media accounts to pull in relevant content. This new direction places less emphasis on some of the technical aspects of RSS optimization, and more on social media integration and the wisdom of crowds through sharing and voting. This could cause some temporary headaches for end users, but it presents an opportunity for content publishers and marketers to get more relevant social shares around their content to influence placement in social news readers.

How can publishers make sure content remains visible and found by people using personalized news readers?

The answer is simple… keep following SEO best practices for content optimization! It is important your internal team or agency partner continues making sure content is optimized for searchable keywords, readability and shareability.

How do you rise above competition investing in ongoing content development and promotion?

The answer goes beyond your standard SEO best practices. Following these best practices below ensures your content strategy is integrated with various forms of digital marketing, and it will increase the chances of your content being found and widely read via personalized news readers.

Getting Started with Audience Research

How often do you ask your audience how they like to consume content? Are you using analytics to determine which channels get the most engagement for your content? If you have a variety of ways your audience reads your content you’ll want to make sure you are active in channels that provide high visibility and ultimately drive people to take action. Channels to ask your readers about are; printed magazines, blogs, e-mail updates, social posts, RSS feeds, video, podcasts, or personalized news readers. Determining the proper mix of channels through audience engagement and analytics review allows you to refine your content marketing and optimization strategy for better results.

Content Development / On-site Optimization

  • Publish unique and timely content that will engage readers and promote shareability and discussion. Incorporate trending topics and keywords in your posts to gain additional visibility.
    • Perform quick keyword research
    • Generate an eye-catching headline
    • Consider constructive conflict
  • Include customized graphics that draw attention in a personalized news feed
    • Include at least one image (Flipboard recommends it should be at least 600px wide)
    • Keep your image captions short, one or two sentences at most
  • Place your Twitter handle in the content of the post near the headline
  • Write balanced content for multi-device consumption (desktop, tablet, smartphone)
  • Strive to make articles at least 700 characters or 150 words long
  • Make sure your blog posts having relevant categorization and tagging
  • If your content is regionally focused then it’s best to share light content during morning and afternoon commuting times and longer articles at night when users spend more time reading them
  • Review the “New & Noteworthy” lists on Flipboard and Zite to view what the latest hot news topics are and determine what is relevant to your business and ongoing messaging

Technical Optimization

  • Use clean and consistent URLs
  • Specify canonical links via <link rel=canonical> on all pages
  • Include social sharing integration on your posts
  • Include optimized Open Graph tags for your most compelling and shareable content
  • Make sure your RSS feed is valid using the W3C Feed Validator
  • Optimize your RSS feed using FeedBurner and make sure it is optimized, easily accessible, and caters to your audience (enable and optimize for the email subscription option)
  • Include a link to your RSS feed on every page of your site via the auto discovery RSS meta tag
  • Establish authorship for your blog and article posts
  • Optimize for Google News inclusion
  • Generate a frequently updated XML sitemap for your blog or newsroom
  • Add your blog feed headlines to your homepage for an area of fresh content

Off-site Optimization

  • Submit your RSS feed to Blog/RSS directories
  • Link to your great article/blog post content from relevant press releases
  • Cross-link from relevant content posted on YouTube and SlideShare
  • Link to your relevant content from guest blog posts on other sites

Social Promotion

  • Post your blog or article links on your social channels with context on why people should read it
  • Encourage your social followers to follow other people you have an influence on (this will increase the chances your content shows up in their social news reader)
  • Consider a paid social campaign to send traffic to great content to get brand exposure

Platforms and Publishing Opportunities

Below are some widely used platforms that provide an opportunity for content publishers to follow guidelines or submit an application to be included as a preferred publisher:

Zite uses an algorithm to evaluate millions of news stories around the web every day. This algorithm analyzes multiple attributes to determine if an article should be delivered to you via your smartphone or tablet. Zite looks at the type of article, its key attributes, and how it’s shared across the web and matches these articles with your personal interests. Zite offers a Publisher Program where each publisher’s content will be featured within its own section of the app, showing articles to a reader based on his or her interests. Currently, Zite is focusing on larger publishers and working with Bleacher Report, CNN, The Huffington Post, etc. but they are looking for ways to work with smaller publishers sometime soon.

Flipboard transforms how people discover, view and share content by combining the beauty and ease of print with the power of social media. Social tools built right in so you can like, comment, +1, email and more. It is customizable to become your own personal magazine within your smartphone and/or tablet. The content guide section will help you find the best sources curated from around the web. Flipboard accepts publishers, they would like you to email your optimized RSS feed and include social and website details in your email. Once you email them, they will review it and let you know the next steps. As for making sure your RSS feed is optimized before submitting it and assuring your news feed is seen, check Flipboard’s tips on publishing content via RSS feeds.

Pulse is an extremely popular personalized news reader application that has received widespread media recognition, including winning the Apple Design Award. On April 11th, 2013 Pulse was acquired by LinkedIn. Pulse accepts publishers through a form on their site, where you will need to fill out your site’s description, content categories, logo, and any RSS feed URLs you’d like to submit. Before you submit, make sure you check that your feed is updated frequently, all content is suitable for the audience, and includes working images and videos. Pulse offers tips on optimizing the RSS feeds you submit to them, so you can increase the likelihood of your content being seen by users. They advise including related links at the bottom of your articles and publishing new articles frequently.

Umano is an application that allows voice actors to explain your content. Umano gives publishers two options for integration – basic and advanced. The advanced option allows publishers to create a more integrated experience. Umano breaks down best practices for integration, which includes creating a unique URL for every article and customizing the player appearance.

Social News Platforms without a Publishing Program

Below are a few social news platforms that are emerging that do not rely on RSS or publisher submissions and will determine what is popular based on who you follow on the social channels:

Thirst uses your Twitter feed to deliver stories and other content you want to read. Users start by creating a Thirst account, or logging in through Facebook or Twitter. The app will open with a selection of topics displayed in a style like Flipboard. When selecting a topic, users get a list of stories, a tab highlight chatter on social networks and a section for comments. Users can choose to follow a specific subject on top of any social recommendations, if enabled. Stories are displayed as they would on a standard Web or mobile browser.

Prismatic is a social news discovery site that hopes to help by allowing people to delve into topics, through algorithms that read the content being shared on social media.

There Are No Shortcuts!

Gaining visibility on social news readers still relies on creating great content with value and building relationships. It’s hard to predict where social and personalized news is heading, but if you integrate your content marketing and take a part in the evolution you’ll gain quicker insight into how changes apply to your business and messaging to connect with people.

Please share your tips and experience below on ways to engage your audience with compelling content!

 

Reference :- http://www.moz.com

EBriks Infotech :- SEO Company India  SMO Company India  PPC Company India

The consumption of news is changing… rapidly. Traditional print news has been fading away, and the convergence of electronic and interactive media is taking over. Consumers are longing for more personalization, voting and filtering options to deliver spot-on news in a digital world with many distractions. The current challenge for publishers is to determine how to cater to an audience that has more control than ever to choose what shows up in their news feed.

Personalized News Readers / Social News Readers
A few of the current players in the personalized/social news reader app space.

Recent changes in the way news can be consumed has publishers either scratching their heads to figure it out, or chomping at the bits on how to leverage these emerging news platforms. Media publishers that stay innovative and leading-edge are in a great position to leverage the power of personalized news readers (aka social news readers) to stay connected through a customer journey. Popular news reader app Flipboard announced they had 20 million users back in August of 2012, so it’s a technology that cannot be ignored!

Before providing insights into how publishers can better optimize their content, let’s review some recent technology changes and shifts in consumer behavior…

The backbone that has helped power content in various personalized news readers took a slight blow with Google’s announcement of the Google Reader service getting shut down. I personally have used Google Reader to power content for news readers on my iOS devices including Zite and Flipboard. From an end-user standpoint I am bummed about Google Reader going away, but I am just as excited for the opportunity for another player to step in and leverage RSS technology. Feedly is already making some big gains in acquiring new users and Digg announced they are building a reader solution.

As of late there has been a shift from aggregating great content via RSS, to following publishers on social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. This evolution isn’t a surprise due to the increasing adoption and usage of social media, but as a news consumer I get nervous this shift will lead to more noise and cluttered news and information. I’m only saying this because an app like Zite has allowed me to really leverage my Google Reader RSS feeds to get great articles for reading without combing through vast amounts of noise in social media feeds. Regardless of personal preference, there are more options now than ever to find content that matters to each individual.

Some of the newer personalized news platforms are bypassing RSS altogether and relying on linking to your social media accounts to pull in relevant content. This new direction places less emphasis on some of the technical aspects of RSS optimization, and more on social media integration and the wisdom of crowds through sharing and voting. This could cause some temporary headaches for end users, but it presents an opportunity for content publishers and marketers to get more relevant social shares around their content to influence placement in social news readers.

How can publishers make sure content remains visible and found by people using personalized news readers?

The answer is simple… keep following SEO best practices for content optimization! It is important your internal team or agency partner continues making sure content is optimized for searchable keywords, readability and shareability.

How do you rise above competition investing in ongoing content development and promotion?

The answer goes beyond your standard SEO best practices. Following these best practices below ensures your content strategy is integrated with various forms of digital marketing, and it will increase the chances of your content being found and widely read via personalized news readers.

Getting Started with Audience Research

How often do you ask your audience how they like to consume content? Are you using analytics to determine which channels get the most engagement for your content? If you have a variety of ways your audience reads your content you’ll want to make sure you are active in channels that provide high visibility and ultimately drive people to take action. Channels to ask your readers about are; printed magazines, blogs, e-mail updates, social posts, RSS feeds, video, podcasts, or personalized news readers. Determining the proper mix of channels through audience engagement and analytics review allows you to refine your content marketing and optimization strategy for better results.

Content Development / On-site Optimization

  • Publish unique and timely content that will engage readers and promote shareability and discussion. Incorporate trending topics and keywords in your posts to gain additional visibility.
    • Perform quick keyword research
    • Generate an eye-catching headline
    • Consider constructive conflict
  • Include customized graphics that draw attention in a personalized news feed
    • Include at least one image (Flipboard recommends it should be at least 600px wide)
    • Keep your image captions short, one or two sentences at most
  • Place your Twitter handle in the content of the post near the headline
  • Write balanced content for multi-device consumption (desktop, tablet, smartphone)
  • Strive to make articles at least 700 characters or 150 words long
  • Make sure your blog posts having relevant categorization and tagging
  • If your content is regionally focused then it’s best to share light content during morning and afternoon commuting times and longer articles at night when users spend more time reading them
  • Review the “New & Noteworthy” lists on Flipboard and Zite to view what the latest hot news topics are and determine what is relevant to your business and ongoing messaging

Technical Optimization

  • Use clean and consistent URLs
  • Specify canonical links via <link rel=canonical> on all pages
  • Include social sharing integration on your posts
  • Include optimized Open Graph tags for your most compelling and shareable content
  • Make sure your RSS feed is valid using the W3C Feed Validator
  • Optimize your RSS feed using FeedBurner and make sure it is optimized, easily accessible, and caters to your audience (enable and optimize for the email subscription option)
  • Include a link to your RSS feed on every page of your site via the auto discovery RSS meta tag
  • Establish authorship for your blog and article posts
  • Optimize for Google News inclusion
  • Generate a frequently updated XML sitemap for your blog or newsroom
  • Add your blog feed headlines to your homepage for an area of fresh content

Off-site Optimization

  • Submit your RSS feed to Blog/RSS directories
  • Link to your great article/blog post content from relevant press releases
  • Cross-link from relevant content posted on YouTube and SlideShare
  • Link to your relevant content from guest blog posts on other sites

Social Promotion

  • Post your blog or article links on your social channels with context on why people should read it
  • Encourage your social followers to follow other people you have an influence on (this will increase the chances your content shows up in their social news reader)
  • Consider a paid social campaign to send traffic to great content to get brand exposure

Platforms and Publishing Opportunities

Below are some widely used platforms that provide an opportunity for content publishers to follow guidelines or submit an application to be included as a preferred publisher:

Zite uses an algorithm to evaluate millions of news stories around the web every day. This algorithm analyzes multiple attributes to determine if an article should be delivered to you via your smartphone or tablet. Zite looks at the type of article, its key attributes, and how it’s shared across the web and matches these articles with your personal interests. Zite offers a Publisher Program where each publisher’s content will be featured within its own section of the app, showing articles to a reader based on his or her interests. Currently, Zite is focusing on larger publishers and working with Bleacher Report, CNN, The Huffington Post, etc. but they are looking for ways to work with smaller publishers sometime soon.

Flipboard transforms how people discover, view and share content by combining the beauty and ease of print with the power of social media. Social tools built right in so you can like, comment, +1, email and more. It is customizable to become your own personal magazine within your smartphone and/or tablet. The content guide section will help you find the best sources curated from around the web. Flipboard accepts publishers, they would like you to email your optimized RSS feed and include social and website details in your email. Once you email them, they will review it and let you know the next steps. As for making sure your RSS feed is optimized before submitting it and assuring your news feed is seen, check Flipboard’s tips on publishing content via RSS feeds.

Pulse is an extremely popular personalized news reader application that has received widespread media recognition, including winning the Apple Design Award. On April 11th, 2013 Pulse was acquired by LinkedIn. Pulse accepts publishers through a form on their site, where you will need to fill out your site’s description, content categories, logo, and any RSS feed URLs you’d like to submit. Before you submit, make sure you check that your feed is updated frequently, all content is suitable for the audience, and includes working images and videos. Pulse offers tips on optimizing the RSS feeds you submit to them, so you can increase the likelihood of your content being seen by users. They advise including related links at the bottom of your articles and publishing new articles frequently.

Umano is an application that allows voice actors to explain your content. Umano gives publishers two options for integration – basic and advanced. The advanced option allows publishers to create a more integrated experience. Umano breaks down best practices for integration, which includes creating a unique URL for every article and customizing the player appearance.

Social News Platforms without a Publishing Program

Below are a few social news platforms that are emerging that do not rely on RSS or publisher submissions and will determine what is popular based on who you follow on the social channels:

Thirst uses your Twitter feed to deliver stories and other content you want to read. Users start by creating a Thirst account, or logging in through Facebook or Twitter. The app will open with a selection of topics displayed in a style like Flipboard. When selecting a topic, users get a list of stories, a tab highlight chatter on social networks and a section for comments. Users can choose to follow a specific subject on top of any social recommendations, if enabled. Stories are displayed as they would on a standard Web or mobile browser.

Prismatic is a social news discovery site that hopes to help by allowing people to delve into topics, through algorithms that read the content being shared on social media.

There Are No Shortcuts!

Gaining visibility on social news readers still relies on creating great content with value and building relationships. It’s hard to predict where social and personalized news is heading, but if you integrate your content marketing and take a part in the evolution you’ll gain quicker insight into how changes apply to your business and messaging to connect with people.

Please share your tips and experience below on ways to engage your audience with compelling content!

Brands Take to Instagram for Marketing

30 May

Brands Captivate Users with Photo Sharing

Instagram: The Hot New Marketing Channel

Instagram began as a mobile app similar to Foursquare, but the creators stripped many of the original features to develop the app we know and love today: a space to share, like, and comment photos. Within the first three months of existence, the app’s community grew to over a million users. Now, almost two and a half years after the app’s initial launch and one year after Facebook’s acquisition of the mobile app, Instagram boasts 100 million monthly active users. Instagram’s numbers are astounding, and brands have taken note. Few early adopter brands began using the app in 2011, but lately there has been a noticeable increase in companies using the app for contests, giveaways, and other marketing tactics.

Instagram boasts 40 million photos per day with upwards of 8500 likes and 1000 comments per second. Most Instagram users are regular people, posting pictures from their day-to-day lives, but a growing trend is emerging with brands taking to Instagram to boost their social media management. More brands are beginning to not only have an account in Instagram, they are posting upwards of 20 or more times per month, which is helping to increase engagement and followers.

The Best Industries for Instagram Marketing

Intel has proven that even seemingly mundane industries can have an interesting Instagram profile, but it is definitely easier for some industries than for others. Companies with a visually-driven product or service offering will have a much easier time using Instagram to its fullest. In addition, brands or celebrities who want to showcase a “behind the scenes” look will also do very well on the app. Some of the best industries include:

  • Food and Beverage
  • Hospitality
  • Entertainment
  • Fashion
  • Design

Who is Using Instagram?

Many brands have begun to use Instagram to market their company image, and a handful of these brands are doing an excellent job. The following four brands have gathered tens to hundreds of thousands of followers because they use interesting tactics to engage with their fans:

Starbucks

With over 1.2 million followers, Starbucks (http://instagram.com/Starbucks) uses user-submitted photos mixed with behind the scenes photos of coffee roasting, their equipment, the original pike place location, and other creative photos to engage their followers.

Red Bull

Red Bull’s (http://instagram.com/redbull) Instagram following has grown to over 701,000. The energy drink company posts exciting, high-energy photos depicting various adventures and stunts. These photos support the brand’s tagline, “Red Bull Gives You Wings.”

adidas Originals

The adidas Originals (http://instagram.com/adidasoriginals) Instagram account has over 630,000 followers. This account differs from the adidas company account because it showcases photos of new merchandise alongside photos of the various ways that Adidas customers use their merchandise, like mismatched adidas shoes, wearing them out, or celebrities who support the brand. These photos make this specific account more exciting than the adidas company account, which posts many general and commercial-looking photos of their products, yet this account still has 237,000+ followers.

American Express (AMEX)

American Express (http://instagram.com/americanexpress) has capitalized on their card rewards by using their Instagram account to showcase “exclusive experiences, news and rewards,” as stated in their account tagline. Their photos show off the food and entertainment side of American Express rewards as well as behind the scenes at the American Express HQ, like take your daughter/son to work day. Their charming and exciting photos have resulted in over 27,000 followers.

Benefits of Instagram for Brands

Instagram is one of the most popular apps for many people; users spend time browsing pictures, and if a brand’s photo is one of the pictures in their feed, then the use of Instagram successfully keeps the brand’s name on the user’s mind. This could lead to the user following the brand’s Instagram account if they aren’t already, and further engaging with the brand on Instagram.

Call to Action

One of the biggest benefits of using Instagram as a brand is the ability to plug a Call to Action (CTA) into many posts. Brands are taking advantage of this by promoting sales, promo codes, new products, contests, events, and other related topics, and followers are responding. Brands that attach deals to their Instagram photos may see an increase in their followers, and some muse that it may be a good way to retain followers as well.

Instagram provides multiple opportunities to add links and Calls to Action. In the account summary of every Instagram profile there is an option to provide a URL which shows in clickable form on the brand’s Instagram profile. Unfortunately, Instagram does not currently support clickable links in captions and comments of individual photos, but the app does support hashtags, which are words or phrases preceded with the # symbol.

Humanize a Brand

Like social media, Instagram has the huge benefit of humanizing a brand. Many times brands can be seen as unreachable or objectified, but brands have been slashing through this ideology by posting pictures of “behind the scenes” in offices, studios, and on the go.

By doing so, Instagram users get a better idea of what a company is really about. Fashion brands have uploaded photos backstage of runway shows and photo shoots, big corporations have shown peeks into day-to-day office life, and the trend keeps growing. This shows Instagram users that these brands are actually approachable and that real people are behind the shiny logos.

Social Media Integration

To further this effort, brands are using Instagram’s built-in social sharing, which allows the same photos on Instagram to be shared on the company’s Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr or Foursquare. The two most commonly used of these are Facebook and Twitter. Even though Twitter doesn’t support Instagram photos in the convenient way that it used to, social sharing has become one of the best benefits for brands using Instagram.

Instagram takes it one step further and allows the option to share photos on any Facebook page that the user is an admin of. To activate this, go to Settings which is the gear icon on your profile page. Then scroll down and select “Share Settings,” then “Facebook,” then “Share photos to,” and allow it to authorize posting on your behalf. You will now have the option to select a personal timeline or a Facebook page (company page or otherwise). Once you have set this up, all of your photos that you choose to share to Facebook will automatically post on the page that you select in the settings. After setup, this option is also available for photos that have already been posted; to do so simply select a photo from your profile and tap the “…” icon next to the like and comment buttons. Select “Share Photo” and choose which social networks you would like to share to. By setting up Instagram to share photos on the company’s Facebook page, brands can seamlessly link these social accounts together.

Instagram Brand Marketing Techniques

There are many different marketing strategies that can be instrumental when using Instagram for brands. Some of these include photo enhancement, hashtag use, contests and social sharing.

Photo Enhancement

Instagram draws users in with the vintage look and feel of the filters available. The app currently features 20 different photo filters, all designed to give users’ pictures a vintage or analogue photography form. The app also offers the ability to add blur and to adjust the contrast. The statistics for filter use among brands shows that about 50% of brands don’t use any sort of filter for their photos while the other 50% do use filters to enhance the picture. The most popular filter for brand photos is L0-fi3.

Hashtags

Hashtags, as previously stated, are words or phrases preceded by the # symbol. They act as categories on Instagram, similar to their purpose on Twitter. Hashtags can be used to tag a brand, a specific product line, or virtually any word or phrase imaginable. It serves as a way to search for different categories, like #nature, #happyhour, or #style. Many user-created hashtags have been made popular on the app and are used daily, like #instagood. The best way for brands to engage in this trend is to create their own hashtag and give their fans an incentive to use it. For example, Red Bull uses the hashtag #GivesYouWings, and BMW uses #SheerDrivingPleasure. These hashtags can be used by anyone on any photo, but the best way to encourage their use is with a contest.

Contests

Contests are one of the best ways to engage current fans and gain new ones. Most contests are centered on a specific hashtag that is created by the brand for the specific contest. The prizes for these contests vary; some brands offer one prize per week and then a grand prize at the end of a time frame, and others just offer one grand prize. One example of a current contest is RA Sushi’s #RAShoutOut program:

RA Sushi

RA Sushi (http://instagram.com/rasushi) is a little newer to Instagram, and they recently rolled out an Instagram contest. To enter, Instagram users simply have to follow @RAsushi on Instagram, take a photo at any RA restaurant and post it using the hashtag #RAShoutOut. Each week one winner is chosen and granted a $25 gift certificate to RA.

There are many past contests that have gotten a lot of fan attention. Here are a few of them:

T.J.Maxx

Last month T.J.Maxx (http://instagram.com/tjmaxx) held a contest for “maxxinistas” everywhere. For the month of April, T.J.Maxx encouraged Instagram and Twitter users to shop at T.J.Maxx and create a designer outfit. Then users could post a picture of them wearing their new outfit with the tag #MaxxStyle, along with the designer name and how much they paid. Not only did fashion-focused fans get to be featured on T.J.Maxx’s Facebook page, each week T.J.Maxx rewarded one person with a $50 gift card and a grand prize winner got a $500 gift card to the store.

GE Instagrapher Contest

General Electrics (GE) (http://instagram.com/generalelectric) hosted a contest to select the next GE “Instagrapher,” the brand’s next Instagram photographer. Users were encouraged to post pictures using the hashtag #GEinspiredME on photos based around the four ways that GE works: building, powering, moving and curing. Over 4,000 images came pouring in, all with the goal of winning the grand prize: to be the next GE Instagrapher with the chance to be flown to the UK to photograph a GE jet engine plant.

Social Sharing

As previously mentioned, Instagram makes it incredibly easy to link to a brand’s various social media accounts. After a quick and easy setup, brands (and regular users) can post their Instagram pictures to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare. They can also add a location to tag a specific store, restaurant, office or otherwise to further enhance the brand’s image. With so many options for sharing, brands would be smart to take advantage of this built-in feature.

New Instagram Feature

Instagram has just launched the preview version of its new feature, Add People. This feature enables tagging pictures, similar to Facebook’s tagging. A person or brand can tag any Instagram user, whether it is a brand’s profile or a person’s. This feature is available for immediate use in the new Instagram updates 3.5 and 3.5.1.

The Add People feature could be a great tool for brands to promote, via contest or otherwise, to encourage Instagram users to tag their account. These photos differentiate from hashtags because they will appear on a special new tab on the brand’s profile. This feature will go live on May 16th, 2013. Until then, Instagram users are encouraged to play with the feature and tag themselves and friends. (editor’s note: this post was submitted before the feature went live)

A Great Tool for Brands

Instagram is a great tool for brands to market their business. More and more brands are catching on to these tactics and creating new techniques to engage followers and to enhance their marketing efforts. Mobile marketing is becoming more critical each day, and Instagram offers a fun, fresh integration while keeping the public involved.

The beauty of Instagram marketing is that brands don’t force their message on people; the people choose to engage with the brand, and therefore, the brand’s marketing message. If only all aspects of marketing were this easy!

 

Reference :- http://moz.com

 

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