Music Video Strategies for Promotion and Monetisation

Caroline from Radar recently chaired a panel at legendary music industry conference, Midem. Top industry professionals discussed strategies for promoting and making money from your videos and here are some of the top tips they shared:

Music Video Strategies for Promotion

“YouTube logo” by Andrew Perry

The importance of YouTube
Having your video on YouTube is essential for musicians:

  • availability (YouTube is the primary search tool for music).
  • shareability (it’s easy to share and embed from YouTube).
  • monetisable streams (YouTube LOVE music videos and encourage partnerships with labels and artists).
  • statistics (radio decisions re playlisting are commonly based on YouTube stats).

How to become a YouTube partner

  • YouTube are making it increasingly easy to become a partner, which means you can earn money from your video views. YouTube Partner Programme
  • Partnership also improves search rankings for videos in your channel.
  • There’s a myth you need to have over 100,000 views to become eligible – not true. YouTube want more quality music content in the partnership scheme, so get registered.

A YouTube Don’t

  • Don’t split views. Upload the video to the artist channel and favourite in the label channel. Favouriting means the video will show up on the label channel, but the views all aggregate on the artist’ copy.

Pros and Cons of Monetised Ads

  • You earn money, versus monetised videos can be less viral – artists and sometimes fans hate ads. Sharing is often the most important metric for a video, above and beyond monetisation.
  • Two kinds of ad: 30 sec pre-roll, very intrusive but high earning and 5 sec skippable banners.
  • Infectious Music don’t run ads for the first two weeks of a new artist’s campaign – they consider ads can be THAT off-putting to fans of new acts.
  • Monetised videos become unavailable to German and Chinese fans, due to lack of licensing agreements in those territories.

The Pros of VEVO

  • The biggest global network dedicated to music visuals.
  • Improved recommendation to viewers – who stay longer and watch more.
  • Higher earnings for partners.
  • They will do special promotion projects with the right partners.
  • They like independent artists, there are many ways for independent artists to get onto VEVO, eg via The Orchard.

The Cons of VEVO

  • You have to upload a new master file, so you’re splitting views across Youtube and VEVO.
  • The ads are the more intrusive type ads.
  • You can’t opt out of ad type, eg you can’t opt out of alcohol ads.
  • VEVO works better for some kinds of artists than others.

Packshot and Lyric Videos

  • It’s useful to have all your tracks on Youtube – if you don’t then someone else will.
  • Packshot videos are quickest and cheapest way to do this. If quality content is important, lyric videos are a good solution.
  • Always service a video when you’re going to radio.

UGC User Generated Content

  • Various responses exist for YouTube partners; Don’t allow, which serves up a stern looking message. Allow but monetise, which takes away some creative control.

Video for Promotion and Discovery

  • Channels such as Balcony TV can deliver an audience, but don’t yet deliver monetisation. Very useful for new artists, where growing a fan base is more relevant than monetising views.

Buying Ads for Promotion and Discovery

  • Link your Google adwords account to your YouTube channel and buy re-targeting ads. This allows you to serve relevant ads to people who have already visited your channel. It can be a highly effective way to build views and channel subscribers.
  • Subscribers are extremely valuable – every time you serve a new video you can send a bespoke message to subscribers’ inboxes. 

The Top Industry Professionals are:
Eric McKay, Business Development VEVO
Connie Meade, Label Manager, Infectious Music
Stephen O’Regan, Founder, Balcony TV
Patrick Ross, Label Services, Kobalt.
Caroline Bottomley is Managing Director of Radar.

The Full Midem Panel Video

Radar is an award-winning, global network connecting independent artists and labels to professional music video directors. Post your brief here: Radar Music Videos.

Many thanks to Caroline Bottomley

Become A Social Media News Curation King With RSS

RSS has been much maligned of late but still remains one of the easiest and most convenient ways of keeping in touch with breaking news and subscribing to new content on your favourite websites and blogs.

My Overworked Google RSS Reader

Social Media Today, summed up RSS very well here: “using RSS in combination with Google Reader can be a very powerful option if you do content curation or disseminate information to a determined audience. I use RSS very actively as my primary channel for receiving information instead of having to remember every site I have to visit every day to get news.”

RSS Still A Killer App

There has been talk that Twitter and Facebook are replacing RSS as a key broadcaster of news, but thats something of an over statement, RSS is still a key app for me as I curate/read an extensive array of news feeds daily and Twitter is still way too ‘noisy’.

Subscribing to a specific RSS feed in Google Reader is still the best way, at least for me, to stay on top of any key developments in my field of  choosing and certainly in the SEO, Search and Social Media field there isn’t a key name out there that isn’t blogging and syndicating that blog with an RSS feed. Fact.

RSS enables me to skim hundreds of article headlines in minutes enabling me to click only on those that are of key interest to me. This would highlight the importance of writing those killer article titles too!

My RSS Toolbox of Choice

I use the Chrome browser pretty much exclusively these days and there’s a couple of browser extensions I use that enhance my usage of RSS and my content curation in general.

RSS Subscription Extension adds one-click subscription to your toolbar and shows the familiar orange RSS subscription icon when a RSS feed is detected on the website you’re browsing making it an easy click and go to subscribe to a feed.

Postponer Manager is a pair of extensions that add extra function to Pocket (aka Read It Later). The Postponer Adder adds an icon next to every article in your Google Reader to add it to your reading list.

So, if you’re short on attention span or time you can simply click on the Adder icon next to the article you’re interested in, in your reader and the post will be saved automagically on your Pocket page for you to return to and read at leisure. Lifesaver! Sign up free here.

Postponer Adder Chrome Extension
Postponer Adder Chrome Extension

Feedly is basically a news curation plugin of sorts and syncs with your Google Reader to become your ‘Social News Reader’. Basically it does what services like Paper.li and Twylah do to your Twitter feed, turns them into personalised newspapers from content you’ve collected yourself (in this case from your collection of RSS feeds).

My Social Media RSS Feeds via Feedly
My Social Media RSS Feeds seen thru Feedly

You can use Reeder iOS app to sync your Google Reader account to your iPhone or iPad too.  For more tips there’s a great post from last month at Lifehacker that digs around for resources to customise your Google Reader experience here: ‘Supercharge Google Reader with Styles and Extensions’.

I’ve kind of moved away from desktop RSS readers simply because my reader is so busy it was using 70% of system resources at times and slowing everything else down! Not everyone is an ‘info freako’ like me and if you do want to read offline too then Feed Demon is about as good as it gets and syncs with Google reader too. Brill.

Your OPML Starter Kit!

Acronyms you’ve never heard of? We got em! OPML is, in laymans terms is a portable data format with  the most common usage being to exchange lists of web feeds between web feed aggregators. So.

Here’s a quick and easy lesson in how you can use it to move your collection of feeds around (or indeed back them up). I try and export my list of feeds from my Google Reader account monthly at least, then if for some (unlikely) reason my reader settings get corrupted I can simply re-import my original list.

To export your OPML list of feeds (which is actually a very small text file so its quite practical to share via email) in Google Reader go to Reader Settings, then the Import/Export tab then right click and download under OPML download (natch!).

Downloading your RSS feeds as an OPML file in G Reader.

If you have a specific category and want to grab just that collection of feeds, you’d click on the subscriptions title then ‘Folder Settings’, scrolling down to ‘Create a Bundle’ then save. You can see my collections below with several sharing options.

You can grab the OPML and download, email to your friends, get the HTML to post your collection as a widget in your blog or simply add the bundle as a link on your website.

RSS Bundles in Google Reader

Getting Started With Stuff to Read!

Lets assume you already have a Google reader account (and if you use GMail then you do). Here’s three OPML (XML) files for you to download from my own RSS reader account.

Search and SEO (right click and save as..) 36 different feeds,
Social Media  30 different feeds
WordPress  21 different feeds

After you’ve saved one or all of the files, fire-up your reader of choice and go to reader settings, then Import/Export and it’ll ask you to import your subscriptions, select an OPML file>Choose File>Upload and done. You’ll now see your categorised folder in your reader and you have more to read now than you can possibly manage!

Do comment below if you use any particular reader, RSS tool or browser extension that hasn’t got a mention here (and there is many!).

 

Related Reading

Supercharge Google Reader with Styles and Extensions (Lifehacker)
RSS is dead… long live RSS! How to replace your Google Reader shared feed (SocialMediaToday)
Replacing your RSS reader with Twitter + Hootsuite (ItsWorthNoting.com)
The War On RSS (Vambenepe.com)
Will Twitter Replace RSS? (Twitip.com)

The Complete Pinterest Resources Guide For Power Users

BzzzSocial on Pinterest
Buzzsonic on Pinterest

OK, so you’ve fallen for all the Pinterest hype and you’ve signed up and got started, now what? I hunted down some of the better resources, tools and how-to’s from the Interwebs and tried to sort through the avalanche to target the best and most useful that’ll help you get the most out of your Pinning. Just in case you’ve been slacking, here’s the official FAQs page if you’re still playing catch up!

“Pinterest is completely visually driven. Unlike other social networks that are focused on what you’re doing right now, Pinterest concentrates more on what you want to be, where you want to go, what you want to build in the future”. Thought  Matrix

First Things First. Tune Up Those Images

One of the main things to remember, and one of the ‘rules’ you should  stick by is the (my label!) ‘attribution etiquette rule’, that is, giving credit to where you  sourced that pinned image from. That means it shouldn’t be as lazy as doing a Google image search and pinning what you find from the search giant.

Mashable recently published ‘How to Make Images Stand Out on Pinterest’ which has a great infographic on how best to present your pinned images and optimise them for everyones benefit.

Pinterest Image Optimisation
Pinterest Image Optimisation

Pinterest Browser Extensions & Plugins

A  browser plugin (for Chrome) I swear by, which streamlines my image searching ten fold is the Tin Eye reverse image search tool, which works by adding an extra search option when you right click on any image in your browser. Click search and off it goes to find alternate sources and sizes of the image you’re looking at.

Pin Search is another simple but extremely useful browser plugin which adds an extra button onto the Pinterest page you’re browsing. ‘Search’ appears underneath the default three options of Repin, Edit and Comment when you hover over an image in Pinterest, zipping off to search Google images to dig out more options on the image you’re interested in.

I always try and remember to click through directly to the source of the pinned image before re-pinning just to make sure it doesn’t take me off somewhere it shouldn’t  (spammy framed redirect-affiliate links was a recent experience).

The Pinterest Pin It button (from Shareaholic) is another essential I use daily and if there is something sleeker and more feature packed, I have yet to stumble across it. It does what it says on the tin, “the easiest way to send images from any website to your pinboards”. Either click the button or right click on the image. Simple’s

One more on the Pinterest browser plugins that I use.  Share As Image Pro (until recently known as PinAQuote) lets you highlight text anywhere on the web and easily convert it into an image and post as a nicely coloured Pin. So, good for all those classic inspirational quotes and snippets of wisdom we all love so much. The ($2.99) Pro version lets you customise the text and background colours you pin. Worth it.

Share As Image Pro Browser Plugin
Share As Image Pro Browser Plugin

There’s an increasing amount of Chrome browser extensions for Pinterest and you’ll find all the official Pinterest tools on the Goodies page. These include a simple browser bookmarklet, follow and Pin It buttons for websites and the official iOS Pinterest App.

Calculate Your Pinfluence !

This is probably as irrelevant as Klout scores (CNN Money had a piece called ‘ Why Klout scores are possibly evil’ last year) but Pinreach is actually a quite useful mixture of ‘influence’ and analytics. The fledgling service analyses your popular boards by using repin numbers and shuffles the data from your boards via repins, likes, followers, pins and comments. You can also get data on your most popular repins.

Its great for gaining some quick insight and stats as to what is working best on your profile and for calculating which board needs more work.. You get a PR (Pinreach) score out of 100 (much like Klout) though I found Pinreach to be of much more  relevance  than Klout.

Pinreach Pinterest Analytics
Pinreach Pinterest Analytics

If you want to get more indepth on the analytics and what traffic Pinterest is sending to your website, Mashable have a very useful guide on How to Track Traffic From Pinterest in Google Analytics.

Pinerly I haven’t yet got access too, but Mashable have (natch!) but ploughs a similar furrow to Pinreach but with more onus on running Pinterest marketing campaigns.  Pinpuff is another of what they’re calling Pinfluence tools, along the lines of Klout, with the promise of ‘pinperks’ but other than that looks very similar to Pinreach.

 Pinterest, Meet WordPress

Pinterest WordPress RSS Widget

When I last looked there was already 86 different Pinterest plug-ins for WordPress bloggers to add to their websites. Naturally, one will be enough for your site, which one depends on your own preferences but the majority of them simply give you the ability to display activity from your Pinterest account either in your sidebar with a drag n drop widget or via short codes, which let you add activity to pages and posts.

I looked and tried a few here on BzzzSocial and settled on the ‘Pinterest RSS Widget’ which enables you to display thumbnails of your Pinterest general feed (or a specific pinboard) in your sidebar and also the ability to add feeds to any posts and pages using short-codes.

Pipped into second place was ‘Pinterest Pinboard Widget‘ which displays some very nicely laid out thumbnails in your sidebar of your activity but unfortunately (as yet) no ability to display from specific pinboards which was the clincher for me. If you just want to display action from all your boards in one neat looking display this is the way to go.

‘Pretty Pinterest Pins’ was my weapon of choice initially but display size options were limited with no thumbnail square option which meant the pins took up much more space in the sidebar. Other than that it allows you to choose from specific pinboards, item count etc.

The neatest (at least for me here) social sharing WordPress plugin at the moment is Digg Digg, which gives you several options to share content, including ‘Pinning’. You can display buttons above or below content or choose the floating social sharing bar (which you can view next to this post). Similar to the one used by Mashable no less. Easy to set up, modify and looks great.

Pinterest, Where’s The RSS?

The Sociable have a great guide on how to pull in RSS feeds from specific Pinterest Pinboards so I wont ramble on repeating what they’ve done so well.

” Following a specific board created by a user via RSS is less obvious. If you visit a user’s Pinterest Board you’ll see that there are no links to subscribe to that board’s RSS feed. But you can still generate a feed for it. To do this, first open the board (e.g. Felicia Day’s Geekin Board), then, Remove the last “/” from the URL and add .rss – your end URL will look like http://pinterest.com/feliciaday/geekin.rss ” read the full post at The Sociable…

12 More of the Most Useful Pinterest Articles from this Year

13 ‘Pinteresting’ Facts About Pinterest Users:Infographic (Mashable) Who are these feverish pinners? According to full service agency Modea, the majority are female mothers — 28 percent have a household income of $100k+.

Shopify Survey: Pinterest Users Spend 2X More (PinnableBusiness.com) Ecommerce store platform Shopify just released numbers on the profitability of Pinterest for their shop owners. They looked at over 25,000 Shopify online stores to see how Pinterest drives sales. The results are dramatic.

The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Pinterest for Marketing (HubSpot) As with any hot new social network that comes onto the scene, marketers are chiming in with, “Can I use it for marketing?” “…and, how?” The short answer? Absolutely. The longer answer? Read on to find out how.

20 Awesome Tools Which Will Have you ‘Pinteresting’ Like a Pro (The Next Web) With such an active community, it’s no surprise that there are a ton of other interesting tools, apps, and sites which aim to enhance the Pinterest experience beyond the Follow Button and Pin It button which can easily be installed on any website.

Proof That Pinterest Drives Sales, And Its Fans Spend Big (Fast Company) Pinterest users not only buy the products they pin, but spend more on average than their Facebook counterparts, according to new data from Shopify.

16 Ways Educators Can Use Pinterest (Infographic) (Mashable) OnlineUniversities.com have put together an infographic, which details how teachers can use Pinterest to organize lesson plans, distribute curricula, collaborate with other faculty, and even encourage student participation.

56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest (CopyBlogger) Think those inspiring vision boards don’t result in referral traffic to websites and blogs? Think again. In January 2012, Pinterest drove greater traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google Plus, Reddit, and Youtube — combined.

Infographic of the week: Pinterest Marketing Strategies (Populate Digital) The infographic gives you 64 marketing tips and tactics that you can apply to your Pinterest account now, to help give you a head start.

Pinterest Marketing Tips & Tricks to Drive Targeted Traffic(Search Engine Watch) Having little experience beyond personal playing around on it, my view was that Pinterest was shaping up to be a fun toy, but had little value for marketers. Of course, I love to be proven wrong when someone can bring the numbers to back up their experience with a new “toy.” Steve Gerencser from Steam Driven Media did just that.

How local businesses can do research and gain an edge with Pinterest (SmartBlogs.com) Sure, it’s easy for big brands such as Whole Foods to be successful but what about small and local businesses? The good news for local businesses is that Pinteret’s search feature makes it incredibly worthwhile for local businesses to be on Pinterest.

Why Online Marketers Better Get An Interest In Pinterest, Fast (Forbes) A few months ago I wrote of the need for brand managers to get “pinterested” due to the fact that women, AKA the one responsible for the majority of household purchase decisions has “developed an affinity for the latest and greatest social media platform.” It would also appear that those in the e-commerce world better also get “pinterested” if they have not already.

The Ultimate Pinterest Guide for Your Online Store (Shopify) The whirlwind of excitement that surrounds Pinterest provides online store owners a great opportunity to leverage it’s popularity (and overall awesomeness) to bring attention to their online store. Whether you’re already setup on Pinterest or you’re a complete newbie, this is a guide that will teach you the basics, and also help the more experienced pinners get the most from this popular social media platform.

Happy Pinning!

And don’t forget to connect with me on Pinterest OK and dig into one of my most popular boards too: Social Media, SEO & Digital Marketing , packed with close to 600 carefully curated resources and infographics on Social Media and SEO.

Follow BzzzSocial on Pinterest

Some Quick Branding Tips and Tools

At Brighton SEO search marketing conference last month I was reminded that the most straightforward of tasks are often the most useful.

Samantha Noble from Koozai gave a presentation called ‘(Re-) Launching a Brand Online Effectively‘ where she bought up several things you should be doing to protect your brand (or launch a new one).

“There are a number of things to consider during the research stage if you are planning on launching or re-launching a product or service online. Even if you are not changing your brand name, there are a number of things that you should review to ensure that potential customers find you easily, but most importantly, that your brand name is protected.”

Register Domains and Social Profiles

Some of the basic pointers she outlined were:

  • Secure the trademark
  • Decide on a date to go live
  • Register and redirect domains
  • Claim all social profiles
Koozai Sam on Branding
Koozai Sam on Branding

One of the first steps I always take myself is to see if the domain name is available for the name I’m planning on using, initially the .com and if that one is available then I’ll grab the .net and .org too. And its not all about the .com anymore either with a whole bunch of newer TLD’s in usage these days (there’s another older post of mine at Buzzsonic that talks about domain name extensions for music businesses), including .dj .tv .ly .la .cd .fm and .it just to name a few.

There’s a complete list of domain name extensions available via governing body IANA here.

MakeUseOf.com have a handy roundup of domain name search tools and ideas in their post, ‘10 Unusual Domain Name Search Tools to Find Hot Domains‘. Be aware though and Samantha did bring this up at her Brighton SEO branding presentation, that should your chosen name be available, don’t leave it until later to register.

I have found, to my dismay that I’ve lost a few good brand name ideas by not securing the domain name straight away. Mysteriously (or not) you could find, the next time you go back to register the name, its been snapped up.

For the more exotic domain name extensions I use 101Domain to see what’s available outside the plain Vanilla .com and .net’s of this world. I recently started snapping up a few names with the Indian extension .in, primarily because there was a $2.99 firesale at my registrar of choice Name.com.

Branding Inspiration & Ideas

Nameboy will give you some ideas by generating a bunch of names from keywords showing you a list of what’s available and  bases its results on a primary word and a secondary word. Domai.nr is another clever idea which generates names as you type in the search box and Namevine  searches for a domain name and matching social media profiles.

Social Name Check

Namechk Social Profile Search iOS App
Namechk.com Social Profile Search iOS App

Once you’ve discovered your domain name is available you’ll want to secure all the major social media profiles (and any you speculate might take-off later) for that name. Not sure you’ll want to go so OTT with 500+ social profiles (cripes!) but Knowem.com will search 575  social networks and over 150 domain names for your brand, which for a rising pay scale, starting at $75 (depending on numbers) will secure the brand for you. Great for those with more money than time.

Namechk ‘only’ checks 159 different social networks (I think that’s probably enough!) and quickly tells you which ones are available, as well as any available matching domain name’s. The site will export the results as a text file for reference too and they have an iPhone app for idea brainstorming on the move. Neat.

Trademark Your Brand 

One final point. Just because you have the domain name and the Twitter and Facebook vanity URL’s doesn’t mean you own the trademark, so make sure you search the trademark registry in your country (here’s the USA and the UK ones for starters).

Check this Dummies post: ‘How to Trademark Your Brand Name‘ too, for a more detailed instructional.

 

Related Resources

Craft an Unforgettable Story for Your Business (ChatterJet)
Reputation Management in a Digital Age (Koozai)
Claim Your Company Profile on Social Sites (ChatterJet)
Online Reputation Management Tutorial (SEO-Hacker)
5 Tips To Manage Your Multinational Social Media (SearchEngineLand)

How To Crush It With These Awesome SEO Tools,Tips & Resources.

OK, apologies in advance for ‘stealing’ the title of this blog post from Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘Crush It!’ book, but it just seemed like a good idea at the time! Anyway, what prompted a ‘need’ for this post was the absolutely bewildering array of information, services and resources (good and bad) out there, infact search Google for SEO and they will return upwards 0f 800M results. Phew.

Learn To Love The Google

Fittingly, it isn’t an SEO company that returns the top result either but the Wikipedia entry for SEO followed by Google’s own  ‘Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Webmaster Tools Help‘.

What else? Well, I sifted through a whole bunch of good and bad stuff and came up with a pretty effective reading list for those of you who either want to set about doing your own SEO, or, read up on as much background as possible so you’re not completely bamboozled when that SEO guru you were recommended tells you how quickly he can dominate Google’s SERP’s.

Call it your very own SEO bullsh*t detector if you like. And when you think of SEO results, think long term not short term gains, there’s a few SEO horror stories that’ll make you think twice (or should make you think twice!) about using any ‘black hat‘ methodology or any kind of the more nefarious short cuts.

Here’s some quotes pulled directly from Google’s own SEO for webmasters page.

  • Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.
  • No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
  • Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.
  • Choose wisely.

Where To Start With SEO

SEOMoz SEO Expert Quiz.75 Questions

OK, its a little bit geeky and it will test you to the limit, but definitely worth a try is the SEOMoz SEO Expert Quiz. According to SEOMoz, “The SEO Expert Quiz has 75 action-packed questions and takes 30 minutes to complete.” It was pretty tough and I missed the ball with several answers in my rush to finish but the great thing is there’s a post-score analysis where they tell you where you went wrong. Brilliantly useful and educational.

Google SEO Guide for webmasters. Free PDFNeedless to say, all webmasters should heed to the ‘law of the Google’  and a good primer on what you should be doing and shouldn’t be doing to help position your website as high as possible in the search results is both Google’s own  webmaster resources  page and this PDF download on the basic’s of SEO, from choosing the right title tags, improving the structure of your URLs, Optimizing Content and even SEO for mobile phones.

Bing also have a thriving webmaster resources page, including detailed instructionals on SEO best practices.

Another bulging arsenal of SEO resources is from SEO Book and their Search Engine Optimization Tools page which features a pile of free and premium SEO tools from Firefox extensions through to web based SEO tools including things like a keyword suggestion tool and meta tag generator.

SEOrgy

The authorative Search Engine Watch have the concise guide, ‘Back to Basics – SEO 101‘ whilst SEOMoz get a little more indepth with their ‘The Beginners Guide to SEO‘ which digs deep into every corner over ten very extensive chapters which you can follow in the web based version or hand over your email for the PDF download. Superb.

Free Beginners Guide to SEO

Other essential and detailed resources include, ‘SEO 101 Resources: Beginner’s Guides and Tutorials‘ from Search Engine Journal, which is a roundup of the best resources from around the web (and which mirror’s some of my choices here).

ArtDriver.com have another brilliantly curated list of tools ‘38 Free Online SEO Tools‘ which put me onto the Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool. Basically a killer little desktop app which, to quote the website itself:

” spiders websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective. It fetches key onsite page elements for SEO, presents them in tabs by type and allows you to filter for common SEO issues, or slice and dice the data how you see fit by exporting into Excel.”

Very handy, oh and there’s a great free version too (actually I’ve concentrated on free resources all round in this piece). Very simple and easy to use.

SEO Glossaries & Title Tags

If you’re baffled by the terminology and search engine definitions (hell, I still am) then  SEOBooks, ‘The Search Engine Marketing Glossary‘ should be a massive relief as should be the HighRankings ‘SEM/SEO Glossary‘ A to Z.

Dont forget the importance of your title tags with this ‘Title Tag SEO Best Practices‘ guide from SEOMoz either. Search Engine Watch also have a brilliant guide, ‘How to Write Title Tags For Search Engine Optimization‘ and sum things up well here:

Title tags are part of the meta tags that appear at the top of your HTML inside the < head> area. Think of title tags like the title of the chapter of a book. It tells people and search engines what your page is about.
Title tags are also part of what makes people decide whether to visit your site when it shows up in the search results. The title tag should contain important keywords to help the search engine determine what the page is about.”

Desktop SEO & WordPress Tools

A few more desktop based tools that are worth trying are the browser extension/toolbar SEOquake which is available for Firefox (where it hold top spot for most SEO downloads), Chrome, Opera & Safari. SEO Doctor is another popular SEO extention (for Firefox only), there’s a detailed overview here.

Full list of SEO extensions for Chrome here and Firefox here.

If you’re using WordPress (and millions are) then the ‘Best WordPress SEO Plugins For 2012‘ guide from iBlogZone is a great roundup, there’s even a ‘Part 2‘ and it covers all those SEO plugins you’ve heard of and some you haven’t. Nice.

Of course Yoast have one of the best and most popular WordPress SEO plugins around and their official SEO guide is equally as comprehensive, ‘The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites‘.

SEO Audit Checklist

And, where would we be without an infographic . Search Engine Journal have a ’20 Minute (Or Less) SEO Audit Checklist’. Put together by  Inmotion Hosting.

The 20-Minute (Or Less) SEO Audit

The guide is broken into the following components:

  • Adjusting your browser
  • Evaluating your homepage
  • Testing the site’s global navigation
  • Reviewing category and subcategory pages
  • Checking for optimized content
  • Analyzing your site’s off-page SEO

And finally (phew!) from Kunocreative.com is their neat PDF printout ‘The Search Optimization Cheatsheet‘.

Kunocreative.com SEO Cheat Sheet
PS. Just as I was finishing, came across this,  ‘33 Free SEO Tools You Should Know About’ from WebGnomes. Great stuff. As always, please leave recommendations for all those hundreds of things I’ve probably missed in the comments. Enjoy!

Download this whole article as a PDF.

Further Related Reading

SEO, Why You Are Doing it Wrong (Search Engine Watch)
The Power of Keywords (SEO Book)
Five Common SEO Mistakes (and Six Good Ideas!)  (Google Webmaster blog)
Free SEO Advice & Marketing Tips for the Music Industry  (SEOMoz)
Some Key SEO Tips From The Top (Area239.com)

Some Key SEO Tips From The Top

I was lucky enough to be in Brighton UK last month for the increasingly influential Brighton SEO search marketing conference. There was a wide range of attendees, the majority seemed to be from London and the south (naturally) with a handful of Northerners and overseas attendees. And much talk that the 1000 tickets for the event sold out in 13 minutes!

Brighton SEO conference infographic-April 2012
Brilliant Infographic via ShellShockUK

It was a great start with the soundtrack of choice Sabre’s Of Paradise ‘Smokebelch’ welcoming us into the Brighton Dome.

Organiser Kelvin Newman introduced the first panel, which was also one of the best, ‘Ask The Engines’ which included  Pierre Far from Google Europe, Dave Coplin from Bing UK, Martin MacDonald from Expedia and outspoken independent consultant Rishi Lakhani.

The organisers already have video archives of the conference live.

Plenty of questions were raised like is SEO doomed? How does it need to evolve? With responses like “seo will never die, its constantly evolving”, “it’s very much in its infancy, much more fractured organic marketing and skills will evolve”.

Rishi was quick to point out there needed to be a more formal structure to SEO as there is no real recognised industry body, no standards and no ethics board and the people practising SEO services were unqualified.

Bing’s Dave Coplin also pointed out that there was a real passion for SEO and that practitioners were ‘alchemists’ with no rules or career paths.

Google guy Pierre was eager to warn against link buying schemes, warning that Google search algo’s use over 200 ‘signals’ to filter out spam in search results.  There was talk of ‘rich snippets’ becoming more important.

Philip Sheldrake was up next and delved into ‘the Semantic Web and the Internet of Things’. Things got a bit ‘geeky’ at this stage as the stage echoed with discussion of ‘Web 3.0’, RDF’s (Resource Description Framework’s) and Tim Berner Lee’s four principles of linked data. I left for a coffee break with the term IPv4 spinning around my head.

Samantha Noble from Koozai digital marketing was next with great pointers on relaunching a brand online.  She said branding was more to do with the customers perception of the brand and a strong example of a great brand was Virgin, with multiple business ventures but one brand name. When she brought up the question of who had trademarked their brand, only around 10percent of delegates raised their hands.

One of the most useful practices to protect your online brand is to make sure you buy up all the top level domain names. Another great tip she mentioned was to reserve your brand name on all the major social networks  using social profile search tools like Knowem.com.

I used this trick for my Buzzsonic brand and dominate all the SERPs. A unique brand name is key. Consider that some of the biggest online brands, Ebay, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, Facebook are known for the brand name, not the keywords in the name.

As I scribbled away on my wirebound reporters notepad the people either side of me were stroking their iPads like extra’s from ‘Minority Report’.

Black Hat Microformats? Oh My God!

And we were off again with Glenn Jones and Google rich snippets, microformats, RDFa, extra semantic content and social graph API’s. Blimey, and no mention of OPML after all that!

Thanks to the brilliant Katie at iSayDigital for sparing me one of those magic Wonka tickets!

Related Reading

15 Top Quotes & Takeaways From Brighton SEO (ScreamingFrog)
BrightonSEO Conference 2012 – A Round Up (SEOFoSho)
Brighton SEO 2012 Round Up – Top 5 Takeaways from Every Talk (SiliconBeachTraining)
The Best Brighton SEO Round-up Articles (ShellShockUK)
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool
Welcome To The Koozai Blog
SearchBots: Lost Children or Hungry Psychopaths (Cloudshapes)

12 Free Small Business Tools To Bootstrap Your Start-Up

We did a inventory this week to try and discover what our most crucial tools in the office were. Things we found crucial to the way we work, things that we found cost effective (mainly free!) and things that made our lives easier, cheaper and more streamlined.

We’re probably considered tech nerds to many, we spend way too much time online, we collect social media infographics on Pinterest, we jailbreak our iPhones and are early (over) adopters of anything to do with social media, but one thing we do have in common with most is that we appreciate free stuff and it kind of took us by surprise at just how well equipped a small business can be on a shoe-string budget.

How small business is using social media
Graphic via Mashable.com

1.UBUNTU 

We’ll accept that, at least for now, the Apple Mac book’s are on hold and we like the variety of software and the familiarity of the Windows OS. So.

Having said that, if you’re really feeling the pinch you can give that old PC or laptop a real speed boost by loading it up with Ubuntu . Ubuntu is the totally free OS that runs on Linux so there’s something of a learning curve vs. Windows, but the GUI (the graphical user interface) is surprisingly easy to get to grips with and you can run Firefox, Chrome, Mozilla Thunderbird and thousands of other similar software tools that’ll make it possible to run everything you need to run a small business just as well as Windows.

Take into account too, that Linux is known to be more stable than Windows and is based on Unix, which also powers Apple’s OS. If you want to try it out without committing yourself you can even boot it up from disc first.

The free Open Source Linux/Unix based OS, Ubuntu

 

2.LIBRE OFFICE 

If you’re grabbing the download of the Ubuntu OS then this office suite will be included in the install. Libre Office is a newer spinoff of OpenOffice, which was originally run by Sun Microsystem’s as a free alternative to Microsoft Office (you’re not still paying for that are you?) and does pretty much the same things as the paid software. So, you can write documents, do spreadsheets, edit Word docs (here called ‘Writer’), edit vector graphics, do database editing and presentations (similar to Powerpoint).

 3.SKYPE 

Still paying over the odds for your phone calls? Why? Skype is pretty much ubiquitous these days and as well as using it for (free) Skype to Skype calls worldwide, you can extend its usability by using USB phones (those headsets really aren’t that cool right!) and on the move (over WiFi) with Skype mobile apps for Android and iPhone handsets.

4.DROPBOX 

I had a recent laptop burn out which not so long ago would have crippled my productivity stone cold dead. Thanks to my Dropbox sync from laptop to cloud, all my working files and documents were safe and accessible immediately. You can sync up to 2GB for free and there’s an iPhone app for handheld access and a ton of add on services to squeeze even more usability out of the service. 50GB will cost less than $10 a month. You might also try Box.net (who’s free version extends to 5GB) and the much hyped GDrive. Essential.

5. TWEETDECK 

There really is only one choice (in desktop apps) for me, for managing my Twitter (and Facebook, Foursquare and Linkedin) accounts. I’ve been using Tweetdeck for quite a while now and it was my favourite social media management tool until Twitter purchased the company and messed up all that I liked about it. Never mind, you can still ‘downgrade’ from the latest version to the ‘pre-Twitter owned’ version (hunt down the older Tweetdeck 0.38.2 from Oldapps.com) if you hate the latest version.You’ll need to install Adobe Air too.  Schedule your social media posts, keep track of hashtag searches and monitor your @mentions and followers in real time.

Hootsuite is almost up there (for me) in terms of features and usability but is web-based vs desktop and its user interface is a little cluttered for me.

6.GOOGLE ALERTS 

Besides being a voracious user of the often much maligned RSS (for which you should be using Google Reader of course) for keeping in touch with news, my most useful ace up the sleeve is by telling the mighty Goog to alert me when ever anything with my chosen keywords gets mentioned via Google Alerts. I can even tell them how often to let me know, as it happens, daily or weekly. Brilliant.

7.GOOGLE APPS FOR BUSINESS

For smaller teams (of 10 or less), Google Apps is an excellent set of collaboration tools in the cloud and include Gmail (please tell me you don’t still have a Hotmail address?), Docs and Calendar and has transformed how we work with others in many ways. Convenience.

Essential office tools in the cloud with Google-Apps

8.BIT.LY 

I love Bit.ly, the ubiquitous URL shortener. It tracks every click on those URL’s  I scatter across various social media networks, it gives me real time analytics and even lets me use my own custom shortener. Particularly useful for tracking the effectiveness of social media campaigns.

9.INVOICEABLE 

Invoiceable (ex-Invoice Bubble) is an alarmingly simple and useful free tool that enables you to use invoicing to clients. You can create professional looking invoices for free, hook it up to your Paypal account, have recurring invoices and even fire off invoices and estimates as PDF’s. Invoice Bubble is financed by small ad placement which you can remove for $5 a month.

10.TEAMLAB

Yeah, we’ve all heard of Basecamp, which kind of set the standard for online collaboration and project management, but here’s a younger upstart out of Latvia. Teamlab offer a brilliant set of business collab, document and project management , CRM and team management tools. You can import projects from Basecamp, documents from Zoho, Google Docs and Box.net and even have your team enter blogs, forums, polls, bookmarks and Wiki’s. Free. Pretty awesome. Alternatives to consider? Freedcamp and Project Bubble.

teamlab free online project management tools for business

11.WORDPRESS

We will never stop raving about WordPress simply because it offers a brilliant platform for any young (and old) upstart to launch an online enterprise, blog or store, super quick, simply and cheaply. Hook yourself up with a reliable webhosting account (one with CPanel and Fantastico) and a domain name and you can be up and running in minutes. Absolutely indispensable.

12.MAILCHIMP

We love Mailchimp too, primarily as its a great intuitive mailing list management service and also because they have a ‘forever free’ service if you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers which lets you send up to 12,000 emails per month absolutely free. You can hook it up to your WordPress blog and if things really take off upgrading isn’t going to break the bank. Such is the nature of ‘disruptive tech tools’, we are now looking into Wysija WordPress newsletter plugin (you’ll see it in use on this site very soon!).

Honourable mentions go out to Gimp (free Open Source image editing alternative to Photoshop), Google Analytics, PortableApps.com (your desktop apps on a thumb drive), Rapportive (social GMail plugin), Survey Monkey (though Goog just released this) and Remember The Milk (task manager) amongst others !

If there’s any we missed (and because of space we know there are many!) do let us know in the comments.