Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Importance of Social Media Marketing: Why You Should Learn and Master it

Social media marketing is the process of promoting your site or business through social media channels and it is a powerful strategy that will get you links, attention and massive amounts of traffic.

There is no other low-cost promotional method out there that will easily give you large numbers of visitors, some of whom may come back to your website again and again.

If you are selling products/services or just publishing content for ad revenue, social media marketing is a potent method that will make your site profitable over time.

Those who ignore the efficacy of social media usually fall into three categories; the ones who don’t know much or anything about social media, the ones who are interested but don’t know how to use it and those who don’t believe in the value that a social media strategy can bring to any site or business.

The Value of Marketing Through Social News Websites
Web 2.0 poster
Image Credit: Poster Web 2.0

For those who don’t understand or see the value of social media websites, let’s take a look at the benefits of creating viral content and effectively promoting them through social media channels.

Developing link baits and successfully getting it popular on various social media websites like Digg and StumbleUpon will lead to multiple benefits for any website:
  • Primary and Secondary Traffic. Primary traffic is the large amount of visitors who come directly from social media websites. Secondary traffic is referral traffic from websites which link to and send you visitors, after they come across your content through the social sites.
  • High Quality Links. Becoming popular on social news websites like Digg or Reddit will get you a large number of links, some of which may be topically relevant, some not. A good story can realistically acquire a large number of high quality editorial links, most of which cannot be easily bought.
Now let’s translate this into tangible benefits for your website:

1. Links = Better Search Engine Rankings.
When a website receives a large number of natural, permanent links from trusted domains, it develops authority. Search engines trust it. If you optimize your linkbait and website structure properly, you can easily start ranking for competitive keywords, which will in turn bring in search engine visitors.

Do this often enough and your search traffic will undoubtedly increase. In a sense, you are obtaining these quality links through borrowed trust. Many bloggers and webmaster still think that if an article is on the Digg or del.icio.us homepage, then it’s probably worth checking out and referencing through a citation link.

A new website may find it difficult to gain links from a critical mass that is not familiar with it but a trusted social news resource makes it easier for links to come in, because the community and buzz has somewhat ‘certified‘ the value of the site. Note that the actual strength of the article is still of utmost importance for all.

2. Primary + Secondary Traffic = Community/Supporters.
Some people claim that social news websites only send useless traffic, visitors that will often just view a specific webpage and click away. Yes, that’s usually the case. Sites like Digg are notorious for their poor bounce rates: many visitors drop in for the article and then leave after reading it. StumbleUpon is much better in this aspect.

But don’t mistake this with a lack of interest. Your subscriber figures will often take big jump up and then stabilize after a few days. If your entire site is relevant to the general interests of the social media website, there will always be a handful of social users who will start to track your site in order to submit future content.
Detractors also ignore the power of ultra targeted secondary traffic. General sites or blogs in the same niche will link to a story that’s popular on social sites, because it adds value for their readers or users. This is done naturally on a daily basis for many.

While primary traffic usually comes in a larger volume, I would argue that secondary traffic is more valuable. Why? Because links from other websites bring visitors who are very likely to be interested in your content. These citation links demonstrate recognition of your site in the eyes of others. It builds your brand.

Think of the social news site as a platform or a soapbox. As something that gives you a chance to be heard or read, even for a brief moment of a few hours. The people who are drawn to your message will visit your site and recommend it to others.

Four Reasons to Practice Social Media Marketing

Web 2.0 poster
Image Credit: Poster Web 2.0

Why bother exploring social media as a marketing channel for your website or business? After all, you could stick to link exchanges, search advertising or the purchase of banner and editorial ads on relevant sites.

Here are some reasons why you should consider using social media:
  1. It’s natural. Not only do you get natural links without any discernible pattern, your website is exposed to large groups of people in a spontaneous fashion. This differs from paid advertising which has overt commercial overtones.
  2. It’s defensible. Once successfully mastered, social communities can be a great source of web traffic on top of any traffic you are already receiving from search engines. While you can’t easily increase your search engine traffic, social media traffic can be very easily controlled through strategic marketing.
  3. It’s low-cost/high returns. If done by yourself, costs are limited to only time and perhaps the expenses involved in hiring a freelance programmer/designer. The benefits will often exceed the cost. It would take you thousands of dollars to buy many links; social media has the ability to give you that for free.
  4. It complements other efforts. Social media optimization and marketing is usually community-specific. It doesn’t interfere with any other methods of getting traffic to your website. It can and will fit perfectly with an advertising campaign targeting other websites or search engines.

So How Does Social Media Help Me to Make Money?

It doesn’t. At least not directly. Every site or business that wants to expand and become profitable, needs a core group of supporters who will be willing to make purchases or recommend the site to others. Your site needs to perpetuate itself.

The more supporters you have, the faster word spreads about your site. Social media marketing is an excellent way to get people to come into your site to take a look at at what you have to offer. You will grow when there are a group of loyal visitors ready to always act upon what you have to offer.

Because social media websites can be leveraged for links and better search rankings, they can greatly increase your site’s income potential. For example, you will be able to price ads higher or generate revenue from any paid business models.

Why Bloggers Should Learn How to Use Social Media

Bloggers and social media
Image Credit: Climate Change Protest

There are many ways to build a popular blog and many methods to promote your website. For example, you can start leaving comments regularly on many high traffic blogs in your niche or perhaps, consider guest posting on other bigger blogs.

My marketing strategy for blogs is very simple. I don’t comment actively, hold contests or write guest posts. I’ve never done any of that for any blog I’ve ever set up. Some people might enjoy doing it but its just a little too tedious for me.

What I do instead is strategic. I focus on creating just one excellent blog post, which I will then push through social media sites and email pitches to other bloggers. This is straightforward and I don’t have to run around many blogs putting up my URL and thinking of something insightful to say.

Think about it. Why write 50 guest posts for 50 different blogs when you can easily just write one article and get an equal amount of links and greater traffic through the use of social media? Guest posting builds relationships but I reckon there are many more powerful ways to network with others. 

It isn’t just about creating articles and then promoting them on social sites as an afterthought. It’s about putting social media in the center of your marketing strategy, optimizing your site or content and making it an attention magnet.

Social Media and It’s Potential for Your Site: An Example

I recently launched a new blog a months ago and took around 20 hours to create a feature article. I subsequently promoted it on various social websites through my own influencer profiles. I also sent out emails to large sites in the same niche.

The article eventually got to the Digg, del.icio.us and Reddit frontpage and received over 140+ reviews on StumbleUpon. It accumulated well over 800 unique links, including some from very heavily trafficked websites. Some of them alone sent more traffic than the frontpage of del.icio.us.

The article is more than a month old and it is still receiving incoming links. Subscribers are up by over 800% and I received around 12K pageviews everyday for the first month. Bear in mind this is only a one month old site.

While not every article in every niche will receive the same amount of attention or success, this illustrates the great potential of social media. I’ve become a firm believer in having a solid social media strategy for every website I develop. It is important for success on every level, even for sites that are already popular.

Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing: An Article Series

Digg
Image Credit: johnxlewis


Social media marketing is not difficult at all. It is something every one can do with some effort and knowledge. It isn’t some secret art form that only experts can master. Unlike other skills, social media has a remarkably low barrier of entry. Everyone is invited to the party. No one is excluded.

I know how social media works. I know what type of content/bait works for different websites. I know what type of marketing strategy to adopt for a high possibility of success. This knowledge is something you can acquire yourself too.

Now that I’ve illustrated the value of social media, a step by step introduction to social media websites and the appropriate marketing strategies to adopt is in order. I plan to start an article series on DIY social media marketing, to teach absolute beginners and bloggers/webmasters what they need to do for social media success.

Labels: ,



Tuesday, August 10, 2010

97 Social Bookmarking Sites with Google PageRank

Quick, name an online bookmark service. What comes to mind? Digg? Del.icio.us? StumbleUpon? Mixx?These are some of the most commonly used services, but they're not alone. There are hundreds of places that let you save your bookmarks online.

This list names 100 social bookmarking sites and includes the PageRank for the site's homepage, as well as the number of pages indexed in Google.

NOTE: The PageRank and indexed links information comes from the SEO Quake add-on for Firefox and was pulled in January 2008. Please note that PR and indexed pages are subject to change. To check today's data, download the Google toolbar, SEO Quake add-on or another tool.

List of Social Bookmarking Sites with Google PageRank & Indexed Pages


1. Slashdot - PR9 - 188,000 links
2. Digg - PR8 - 3,470,000 links
3. del.icio.us - PR8 - 1,540,000 links
4. Reddit - PR8 - 1,040,000 links
5. Technorati - PR8 - 760,000 links
6. Stumbleupon - PR8 - 725,000 links
7. Blinklist - PR7 - 1,620,000 links
8. Furl - PR7 - 1,210,000 links
9. Propeller - PR7 - 322,000 links
10. Rojo - PR7 - 6060 links
11. de.lirio.us - PR7 - 3770 links
12. Folkd - PR7 - 410 links
13. Netvouz - PR6 - 912,000
14. Mister-Wong - PR6 - 898,000 links
15. Simpy - PR6 - 867,000 links
16. Bibsonomy - PR6 - 469,000 links
17. Kinja - PR6 - 438,000 links
18. Backflip - PR6 - 227,000 links
19. Clipmarks - PR6 - 121,000 links
20. Rawsugar - PR6 - 50,300 links
21. Searchles - PR6 - 32,000 links
22. Searchallinone - PR6 - 18,800 links
23. Tailrank - PR6 - 10,900 links
24. Linkagogo - PR6 - 6790 links
25. Web2List - PR6 - 4780 links
26. Spurl - PR6 - 38 links
27. Faves - PR5 - 1,280,000 links
28. Megite - PR5 - 753,000 links
29. Clipclip - PR5 - 323,000 links
30. StartAid - PR5 - 637,000
31. Linkroll - PR5 - 147,000 links
32. Sk*rt - PR5 - 104,000 links
33. Listible - PR5 - 60,400 links
34. Feedmarker - PR5 - 58,800 links
35. Markaboo - PR5 - 48,400 links
36. Bringr - PR5 - 16,500 links
37. Gabbr - PR5 - 5000 links
38. Mybookmarks - PR5 - 916 links
39. Buddymarks - PR5 - 907 links
40. Tallstreet - PR5 - 408 links
41. Mylinkvault - PR5 - 71 links

List of Bookmark Services with Google PageRank & Indexed Pages, Cont'd 

42. Ma.gnolia - PR4 - 818,000 links
43. Web2Announcer - PR4 - 305,000 links
44. Diigo - PR4 - 276,000 links
45. Plugim - PR4 - 120,000 links
46. Lifelogger - PR4 - 86,700 links
47. Dropjack - PR4 - 65,000 links
48. Indiasphere.Net - PR4 - 45,900 links
49. Otavo - PR4 - 35,000 links
50. Butterflyproject.nl - PR4 - 34,500 links
51. Lookmarks - PR4 - 32,700 links
52. Myvmarks - PR4 - 28,200 links
53. Blurpalicious - PR4 - 25,300 links
54. Cloudytags - PR4 - 24,100 links
55. Mysitevote - PR4 - 20,000 links
56. A1-Webmarks - PR4 - 15,200 links
57. Philoi - PR4 - 12,400 links
58. Oyax - PR4 - 12,000 links
59. Gravee - PR4 - 9940 links
60. Votelists - PR4 - 6150 links
61. Gd-Sites - PR4 - 5840 links
62. Contentpop - PR4 - 5490 links
63. Gaddiposh - PR4 - 3130 links
64. Urlex.Info - PR4 - 654 links
65. Connectedy - PR4 - 636 links
66. Connectedy - PR4 - 568 links
67. Unalog - PR4 - 162 links
68. Bookmarktracker - PR5 - 314 links
69. Marktd - PR3 - 130,000 links
70. Getboo - PR3 - 96,500 links
71. Listerlister - PR3 - 19,100 links
72. Bookmarkplace - PR3 - 15,100 links
73. Jigg.In - PR3 - 9220 links
74. Stirrdup - PR3 - 9220 links
75. Chaamp - PR3 - 7770 links
76. Ez4U - PR3 - 6520 links
77. Socialogs - PR3 - 5200 links
78. Business-Planet - PR3 - 4740 links
79. Articlesnetwork - PR3 - 3670 links
80. Wirefan - PR3 - 3030 links
81. Fritterware - PR3 - 2970 links
82. Sitesays - PR3 - 1560 links
83. Bookmark4You - PR3 - 948 links
84. Crowdfound - PR3 - 782 links
85. Authorcontent - PR3 - 513 links
86. Info4It - PR2 - 91,100 links
87. Palbe - PR2 - 9300 links
88. Dealoid - PR2 - 9270 links
89. Barksbookmarks - PR2 - 7370 links
90. Articlesarchieve - PR2 - 5350 links
91. Article-Publishers - PR2 - 4380 links
92. Latestramblings - PR2 - 3180 links
93. Xlmark - PR2 - 2120 links
94. Ebizgo.Info - PR2 - 1150 links
95. Actualtopics - PR2 - 749 links
96. Projecthear - PR1 - 19,600 links
97. Wordsjournal - PR1 - 14,100 links

What is Google PageRank? 

And why should you care when using social bookmarking sites?



PageRank (often abbreviated to PR) is Google's patented way of determining a web page's importance. The PageRank scale goes from 1 - 10, with 10 being highest, and it factors in the quality and quantity of links that point to the page.

Google describes it this way:

"PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B."

If you're using social bookmarking sites simply to recall your favorite pages, PageRank really isn't important. You should simply find a bookmarking site with features you like (Can you organize your bookmarks in folders? Can you highlight text on the site? Is it easy to save pages?).

But if you're a website owner, lensmaster or article writer using social bookmarking to help improve your site or article's searchability, PageRank is important. Google will likely find and index your site much more quickly if you add it to sites that already have PageRank rather than those that don't.

However, new sites are always springing up. A bookmarking service that has no PageRank or indexed links today may be doing very well three months from now. Also, remember that Yahoo!, MSN and other search engines have their own algorithms, so even though a site has only 10,000 links in Google, it may have 100,000 in Yahoo! or vice versa.

For more information about PageRank, check out these resources:

-- SEO expert Danny Sullivan has an excellent article on PageRank on Search Engine Land

-- WebWorkshop has a very comprehensive (and math-intensive) primer on Google PageRank

Labels:



Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Accessibility does not prevent you from using JavaScript or Flash

A common misconception is that in order to make a website accessible you have to abstain from using JavaScript or Flash. Almost every time I hold a workshop on Web standards and accessibility there is at least one participant who believes that accessibility limits what they can do on the Web by telling them to stay away from anything that isn’t pure HTML.

Misinterpretation of guidelines?

This misconception likely has its roots in people misinterpreting or adhering very strictly to a couple of guidelines in WCAG 1.0:
Ensure that pages are usable when scripts, applets, or other programmatic objects are turned off or not supported.
Use W3C technologies (according to specification) and follow accessibility guidelines. Where it is not possible to use a W3C technology, or doing so results in material that does not transform gracefully, provide an alternative version of the content that is accessible.
My interpretation of those two guidelines is not that the use of JavaScript and Flash is disallowed, but that you have to ensure that you use them unobtrusively.

Unobtrusive JavaScript

Even WCAG 1.0 allows the use of JavaScript as long as it is not a requirement for accessing and navigating your site and its content. Use it when it is actually beneficial to the end user and not just because you can. Some rules of thumb:
  • Think about what happens when support is missing
  • Make sure any user interaction is input device independent (i.e. does not require a mouse)
  • Implement JavaScript using progressive enhancement

The Ajax problem

There is a catch though. Using JavaScript to manipulate the contents of a document without reloading the page (with Ajax, for instance) can be confusing to some people, particularly screen reader users. Screen readers have become better at handling Ajax than they used to be, but it is still possible that the user is not informed of a change in the page content due to an Ajax request.
To make JavaScript and Ajax-heavy websites accessible to everybody, you may need to turn to WAI-ARIA:
WAI-ARIA, the Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite, defines a way to make Web content and Web applications more accessible to people with disabilities. It especially helps with dynamic content and advanced user interface controls developed with Ajax, HTML, JavaScript, and related technologies.
The good news is that support for WAI-ARIA is already partly there, and is increasing. All major browsers support or will support it, as do several screen readers.
More articles on WAI-ARIA:

Flash and accessibility

As for Flash, well, there are two main things to think about. One is to embed Flash content so that people without Flash (like iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad users) get an alternative, normally in the form of HTML. Again, by using progressive enhancement. The other is that you need to make the actual Flash content as accessible as possible, which means developing your Flash content with accessibility in mind. Information about how to do that can be found on Adobe’s Flash CS4 Professional Accessibility site.
One unfortunate thing with Flash accessibility is that, if I read Adobe’s documentation correctly, Flash content can currently only be made accessible to screen readers running on Windows, so screen reader users are out of luck if they use another operating system, like Mac OS X or Linux. Be aware of that and offer an alternative.
According to the information in Flash Player and Flex Support for IAccessible2 and WAI-ARIA, It looks like that problem is being worked on. However, until Flash is accessible across platforms I am hesitant to call it what WCAG 2.0 refers to as accessibility supported technology.

JavaScript and Flash are not always available

In summary: remember that you simply cannot assume that everybody has support for JavaScript and Flash, that you have to think about what happens when support for either is missing (i.e. use progressive enhancement), and that you need to consider how assistive technologies handle them. Also realise that you do not have to give users without JavaScript or Flash exactly the same experience, but you do need to give them something.
You do not, however, have to avoid JavaScript or Flash as long as you keep accessibility in mind.

Labels: