Friday, June 21, 2013

Is Facebook’s Move Toward Hashtags Good for Businesses?

If you're already using Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or Tumblr, hashtags are just part of navigating from one public topic to another. Facebook, which has made a mantra of its mission to bring offline friendships to the web, with official “friending” requiring approval from both sides of the relationship, has now announced that it too will incorporate hashtags in a move that can change a discussion previously limited to friends on the network to one that invites the public to join in as well.

For individuals, the move to conversations linked to hashtags brings the potential intimidation of engaging in conversation with a more public and potentially less friendly audience. For businesses, on the other hand, the potential for public participation in searchable hashtags can expand the reach of published posts from friends/fans/etc. to a public audience that is exponentially larger.

The objectives behind the move to hashtags are two-fold; to move into Twitter’s turf as a resource for unfolding news events and to build a footprint in the “interest network” space occupied by the likes of Pinterest, Instagram, Thumb, Tumblr, etc. In both of these types of networks, organization and functionality is centered on a topic or interest as opposed to a network of friends, as is currently the case on Facebook. Facebook will incorporate the new hashtag tool in the search bar, which will enable the viewing of and participation in posts on Facebook and other social networks where the same hashtags are active.

While not the primary driver of the move to hashtags, businesses on Facebook will derive numerous benefits from the move by expanding their reach and growing their audience by incorporating their high value keywords into Facebook’s hashtag system.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Habitual Search Engine Optimization

A common misunderstanding regarding search engine optimization is that doing it once is going to suffice and high page rankings will automatically follow. The reality is that SEO is an ongoing process that requires constant testing, man-hours, and analysis in order to provide the best results possible. The countless moving parts of SEO also require monitoring due to the changes in the search engine landscape and how they might apply to both you and your competition.

This is habitual search engine optimization and it requires constant attention to provide consistently superior results. The margin of keyword battles that have been won consistently and decisively may narrow. New search engines like Microsoft’s “Bing” get introduced. You add a new and unique product that can’t be optimized with the keywords you’re using currently.

* Analysis – Analysis of keywords and phrases is the foundation of successful search engine optimization. Focusing time and money on winnable searches versus highly competitive ones will prove to be more cost effective and result in a much higher return on investment. High rankings on search engine results pages from going after less competitive keywords will also occur much faster.
* Research – It’s imperative to stay current with what is working in search engine optimization. Knowing how Bing is different from Google for instance, can give you an advantage over competitors and access to new visitors. Another dynamic area is social media. Knowing how and where to maximize your optimization efforts can be the difference between success and failure. Only by doing some advance research will you be able to tell which platform will deliver optimal results as the difference in user demographics varies widely between MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
* Tweaking - Google provides a ton of free data. They have tools available that will tell you what keywords you are ranking for, which keywords are driving traffic to your site and which ones aren’t, which pages have been indexed, where inbound links are coming from, and where the problems are on your site. Watching for shifts in keyword tendencies, making adjustments, and making sure your site is maintained can make a huge difference in driving both new and repeat traffic to your site.
* Testing – Test everything you do in your search engine optimization efforts. What was working at one point may not always work but you won’t know it unless you’re constantly testing results. Trends may go the other way as well, where terms that haven’t tested well previously start yielding traffic and conversions as a result of higher visibility and branding efforts. Testing to see where visitors are bouncing off of the site can provide intelligence on weak areas of the site and determine where fixes are needed to make the site stickier. Additionally, testing allows the website owner to know what’s working and to concentrate resources on those areas.

Search engine optimization requires constant attention to provide consistently superior results. Only by making SEO a habitual practice can a website owner maximize efforts, resources, and outcomes to keep traffic and conversions growing quarter to quarter. In many cases, the work required for habitual SEO can be too prohibitive to be done properly in-house. The Gervais Group specializes in all the areas of habitual search engine optimization, generating superior results on a consistent basis. Call us today at 770-529-2262 or visit Gervais Group at