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Search Engine Guide : Small Business Search Marketing
Search engine marketing news and information you can use to grow your business.

Search Engine Guide
  • Is regulation an adverse event for pharmaceutical social listening?

    by Mike Moran

    I once hosted a webinar on the use of social media in the financial services industry. Regulated industries (such as financial services and pharmaceuticals) tend to have their own unique concerns when they embark on social media listening. While some pharmaceutical companies are willing to dive right in, others have held back, concerned about the requirement to report all "adverse events" from medications. What do the listening companies know that the sidelined companies don't?

    First off, I don't want to minimize the regulatory concerns of pharmaceutical companies. It is indeed true that they have a duty to report to the FDA any reports they become aware of that one of their drugs has produced an adverse event in a patient. Typically, they become aware of such incidents when the patient calls them to report a problem, and they have well-worn processes to collect the information and make the proper report to authorities.

    But what do they do in social media? How do they report that @patient tweeted that she felt dizzy after taking brand-name-drug? Some companies believed that they could protect themselves from liability by intentionally NOT listening to such chatter. If they are not aware of the report, then they are under no compunction to report it. It's logical from a legal point of view, but does it make sense? I mean, the same lawyers could just as easily disconnect the phones to call centers to remove the risk of hearing of adverse events by phone.

    Clearly, pharmaceutical companies must do more. The leading companies are taking the same approach in social media that they do for any other contact with patients, but it takes some thinking. When a patient phones you to ask a question or report a symptom, the company can make sure that all of the questions are answered so that a complete report can be filed. In social media, that's not so easy.

    One study shows that 0.3% of social media conversations contained any report of adverse effects from brand name drugs, and that, of those, only 14% contain enough information to file an official report with the FDA.  So, the companies were not required to file reports in the rest of those cases. What's more, because the companies have all the processes in place to file reports from other sources of information, all that was needed was a mechanism that identifies those events and triggers the existing reporting function. This triggering mechanism is not unlike the training that phone reps get as to when they should be asking questions on the phone to file a report.

    As with most things in social media, problems that start out seeming big usually turn out to just take a bit of extra thinking. Now, the FDA might at some point change its regulations and impose even more requirements on what is expected of companies in social media. Perhaps companies will be required to have listening programs. Maybe the government will even go so far as to require companies to reach out in dialogue to gather more information from the 86% of people who report adverse events without meeting the reporting requirement, just as they expect a phone caller to be asked enough questions to file an adverse event report. If that happens, the companies who have already taken steps in social media listening will be ahead of the game.

    But even if the regulations do not change, the vast majority of conversation about pharmaceuticals is NOT about adverse events, so companies ignoring this conversation are missing a wealth of information that could help them make better business decisions today.

    Originally posted on Biznology

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • LinkedIn: An Underappreciated Gem for SEO

    by Jayson DeMers

    In the game of SEO, social media networks are becoming more important than ever. And out of all the social platforms, LinkedIn is perhaps the fastest rising star as it relateIn the game of SEO, social media networks are becoming more important than ever. And out of all the social platforms, LinkedIn is perhaps the fastest rising star as it relates to SEO.

    LinkedIn has more power to impact rankings than it generally gets credit for. It began as a tiny, networking startup, but as of the start of 2015, LinkedIn has managed to rack up 364 million members in the 13 years since its founding.

    A website with that much attention can't be ignored by search engine ranking algorithms. It's especially lucrative for B2B companies, since more than 50 percent of them are finding new buyers through LinkedIn. The underlying networking structure makes it especially relevant for searches in the B2B realm.

    The open-publishing aspect of LinkedIn, the ability to post job descriptions, and the capacity to reach out to other firms all provide further benefits. Getting results from these methods isn't easy as you might think, though; it may require some changes to your strategy and a little more effort.

    Here are a few suggestions. 

    1. Polish Your Profile 

    Your profile should be complete to attain the SEO power it's capable of. Many businesses haven't taken the trouble to update their page, however.

    It should include information about your company, a link to your website, your company's physical address, a high-quality photo, and any other relevant information. 

    A polished profile will strongly improve your rankings for branded search terms, which can go a long way toward protecting your reputation online in organic search results. Take a look at the LinkedIn page for Park West Gallery, one of the largest art galleries in the world, for an example of a polished profile. It not only has information about the business, but also job postings.

    With this data on the page, Park West becomes relevant for a variety of search terms, which will add relevance to its desired ranking keywords, boosting its rankings for branded and keyword-related queries not only in Google and Bing, but also for searches conducted in LinkedIn itself. 

    2. Optimize Job Descriptions

    Job descriptions on LinkedIn can also enhance SEO visibility. When users search for related keywords or branded terms in Google or Bing, your job description published on LinkedIn can display in search results. To achieve this, begin by focusing on the keywords in the job title. The more specific you can be in your job description, the better. Search engines are more likely to display your company profile if it's pointing to something specific rather than generic. 

    As a word of caution, avoid keyword stuffing. You don't want to miss out on keywords with your LinkedIn content, but you don't want it to appear spammy either.

    Search engines can tell the difference between relevant keywords within an article on a profile page and keywords used with no context. 

    3. Reach Out to Influencers 

    An effective tactic for getting your page noticed by search engines is bringing it to the attention of important people. Reaching out to super connectors is a great idea, particularly if they're influential within your field.

    Following influencers will give you insight into how other companies and marketers are using SEO to get better rankings. Matthew Capela, best-selling author and founder of Alphametic, has developed a list of top SEO super connectors to be following on LinkedIn.

    With the help of these social geniuses, you'll be able to discover new ways that LinkedIn can get more attention for your business. 

    Creating brand exposure through SEO is a common goal for most digital marketers, and LinkedIn is becoming more of a tool for doing so. Smart marketers are including LinkedIn as part of their strategy in order to attract more brand exposure and search visibility.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • Agile marketing blocked: "Taking a guess can get me fired!"

    by Mike Moran

    I do a lot of teaching agile marketing to the digital marketing world, ever since the release of my book  Do It Wrong Quickly. I once had a class on search marketing where a student lamented that my approach--to experiment and try new things--wouldn't work in her organization. In fact, she told me point blank, "Taking a guess can get me fired!" 

    First off, if guessing at Internet marketing can get you fired, you might be working for the wrong person. But assuming that you can actually reason with your boss, or that you can quit before he says "You're Fired!" and go someplace else, here are the things you need to keep in mind as to why agile marketing is so important, especially for search marketing.

    It is absolutely critical that you guess at search marketing because not doing so allows you to do some very bad things:

    • Choose keywords that make no sense. Being forced to look at the right landing pages, rankings, and guessing at improvements caused you to realize that you have big problems to address, starting with the right keywords. The worst thing you can do in search marketing is to target the wrong keywords. If you are forced to tell people that you know what you are doing, then you are likely to stick with the wrong plan just to show that you weren't an idiot without ever trying what is right.
    • Stick with dumb paid search ads. Similar to keywords, if you decide to plan out what you are going to do and stick with it, you'll never discover the best ad, because it is never the one that you try first. Only by experimenting can you figure out what to do.
    • Assume things are OK when they are not. This is actually the worst of all of the problems, and it can happen in any kind of digital marketing, not just search. If you don't take a guess at what improvement you will make, you have nothing to compare your actual results to, which prevents you from realizing that your improvements efforts might not be working.

    The direct marketing principles underlying digital marketing are based on the idea that you project what you expect your results to be before doing anything, and then check to see whether it happened before deciding what to do next. Taking an educated guess is crucial to making the whole process work.

    I know that it might feel that taking a guess is bad because you want to do something more accurate than taking a guess. Unfortunately, there isn't anything more accurate. So, the real alternative to taking a guess is not to have any goal at all, which leads to the bad outcomes I outlined above.

    I appreciate that guessing is uncomfortable, but it is more comfortable than failing-really failing in your search marketing program. None of us wants to be wrong, but accepting that we mostly get things wrong will help us to eventually get them right. The right answer will only be found by actually doing the guessing for your sites, making changes, guessing again, and seeing how you do.

    Think about it this way. When you first stepped up to a bowling alley, you had no idea how to hurl the bowling ball or where to aim it. You took a guess, probably a really bad one the first time. After a while, if you kept at it, you got better at it, until you felt as though you were doing more than just taking a guess-you had an idea of where to aim and where the ball was going. You could have taken all the online courses and read all the books in the world on bowling, but you were never going to succeed by just studying-you had to do it. And it probably wasn't very comfortable to throw the first ball-you probably felt a bit embarrassed at how badly you did it-but it was the only way to really learn to bowl.

    I am making you throw the ball in search marketing. And search marketing is even harder than bowling because the ball changes shape, you can't see the pins, and they move. And you don't know what a strike or a spare is, so you need to predict what you expect to happen ahead of time to see whether you are doing a good job or not.

    It's very uncomfortable and very difficult. But not doing it means you are guaranteed not to win and not to improve.

    Originally posted on Biznology

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • Have you started running your marketing by the numbers?

    by Mike Moran

    One time, many years back, I ran into a famous public speaker. The speaker had one single product that made him rich: a single speech, delivered flawlessly, over and over again for years. It may seem appealing as a way to make a living, but to me it sounded rather boring. I like moving onto new ideas, not repeating the same ones over and over. 

    Yet there is one subject I have been talking about in various forms since 1999 when I first brought it up at IBM, and I can't seem to stop talking about it. It's about digital marketing decisions based on metrics. No matter how long I've been discussing this subject, it feels like there are always more companies that need to hear the message.

    At first, I thought it was understandable. After all, this web marketing stuff was new (back in 1999) and it makes sense that not everyone understood how to apply direct marketing principles to digital marketing.

    But it's 16 years later. I'm starting to believe that there's a never-ending supply of companies that still are marketing by the seat of the pants. In 1999, it was almost all companies. Within a few years, the e-Commerce companies had caught on. Later, the retailers caught on, whether they sold online or offline. In recent years, I've found that many B2C companies have caught on, but that leaves a big, yawning gap.

    Those B2B marketers are still hearing the same stuff from me that I was saying inside IBM in 1999. Identify your Web conversions. Test your marketing. Make decisions based on results.

    It's not easy, but it is simple. The principles are simple, but because it is difficult, we'd all rather think about something else. It's human nature to be in denial of problems that we can't solve. Many B2B companies are so overwhelmed at the idea of measuring its marketing and sales that we act as though the problem does not exist. It makes us feel better not to have to dwell on a failure this large.

    Now, it doesn't make the situation any better. It doesn't improve our business results. It just makes us all feel better. So, the question is whether you are willing to risk feeling bad. Can you cope with feeling a little overwhelmed if the payoff is vastly improved business results?

    I'll challenge you with this question: "Have you started running your marketers by the numbers?" If not, why not?

    It's not a rhetorical question. Make a list of all the problems and ask yourself how you could take just one step to solve one of them. If even that is too overwhelming, then take a different approach. Fast forward yourself three years into the future and imagine that this problem is completely solved. (If three years seems unrealistic, make it five years.) Then ask yourself what had to happen to solve the problem. At this point, you can't throw up your hands and say it is impossible, because we already said that it is solved. Don't dwell on how unrealistic it is-this is your imagination. What must have happened to get you to the point where you can make your marketing decisions based on numbers?

    No matter how difficult this, it's too important to just give up. Do one thing to solve the problem. Then do something else. Before you know it, you might be able to make one kind of decision based on numbers, even if they aren't the greatest numbers.

    I'm begging you not to sentence me to this same speech 16 years from now.

    Originally posted on Biznology

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • Are Keywords Relevant in 2015?

    by Jayson DeMers

    SEO best practices frequently get revised as new algorithm updates are released by Google and Bing. These changes render some tactics more popular, and others entirely irrelevant. Keyword research, and the obsession with keywords when it comes to SEO campaigns, is a prime example of this. Years ago, prior to the April 2012 launch of Google's Penguin algorithm, using the right keywords strategically within your website content as well as within the anchor text of inbound links to your website was the best way to increase your rankings for those specific keywords. 

    However, a number of factors have reduced the usefulness and popularity of keyword-focused SEO, including the release of the Penguin algorithm and other updates designed to level the playing field for non-SEO-savvy businesses, along with the stiff competition many high-value keywords now face in organic search. This shift has many SEO strategists wondering if keywords should be considered at all as part of their SEO campaign in 2015 and beyond. 

    In the past, keywords were everything. Google would collect data from blog posts and web pages and rank them according to the amount of specific keywords used within the page. It didn't take long for companies to realize that relationship and begin stuffing keywords throughout every article they published. 

    That worked beautifully for a while until Google caught on and began penalizing the over-use of keywords. Now, the use of keywords is much more complicated. Keyword stuffing may be a thing of the past, but that doesn't meant that the use of targeted words for ranking results is entirely dead. 

    A Greater Focus on Placement 

    Search engines still value keywords within a page--if they're placed properly. Keywords are useful for search engines in determining how to categorize a web page when users enter a search query. However, they pay far more attention now to where those keywords are placed rather than how many times they're used. In fact, too many uses of keywords (known as a high 'keyword density') can actually lead to the page suffering in the rankings due to perceived manipulation of the algorithm.

    To get around the keyword stuffing problem, focus on placing them strategically in specific areas of your page. Generally, Google looks for a specific keyword within the title, heading, and first subheading (title, h1, and h2 meta tags) of your articles. Such meta data takes priority over copy, side bars, and footers. 

    Quality Articles Go a Long Way 

    Search engines are developing a certain sophistication that many companies are struggling to understand. When Google, for example, scans your webpage, it doesn't stop at the title. In fact, nowadays, Google will often disregard the title if the body content differs significantly from the title.

    Search engines can detect the main topic of your articles in order to deliver accurate search results for users. Search engines focus more on the meaning of the article than on the individual keywords or phrases found within the content itself, which explains why when you search for the phrase "roof maintenance," you'll see several articles within the top 10 results that don't have the words "roof maintenance" in the title. 

    This sophisticated form of categorizing articles is also used to help searchers find articles that may be relevant, even if their search query doesn't specifically match keywords within an article. Using a method known as "semantic search," which detects the actual meaning of a user's search query rather than the exact wording, Google makes the user experience even better. This brilliant move on the part of search engines makes it integral for businesses to seriously consider the meaning of each article when inserting keywords. 

    For a good example of this method, take a look at this chart from 42 Floors. Its focus is on local SEO, so it includes geographical information in the title and in subsequent headings. It also includes information that can be used in semantic search while picking up on the meaning, rather than just the keywords. 

    Structure Matters When It Comes to Keywords 

    When you think of keyword use, you'll need to think about more than just the wording. Structure of a webpage makes a bigger difference than most people realize. Begin by looking at the big picture of your website. Attractive design, easy navigation, and great search features within the site will reward you in the eyes of Google. They appreciate anything your website does to accommodate users. 

    Take a look at your existing website and make any necessary changes to improve the functionality and user experience. If it loads slowly, speed it up. If it lacks proper security and encryption, take the steps to make users feel safer. Adding site maps and static footers that contain useful links and contact information can also be beneficial.

    Keywords themselves are becoming less important in SEO as search engines learn to decipher semantic meaning behind content rather than simple keyword phrases, but there are some new and valuable lessons worth learning in order to improve your digital marketing campaign. The term "keyword" has evolved to more closely denote the meaning or purpose of your content and website than anything else. Focus less on using keywords and focus more on publishing only relevant, high-quality content that provides value to your readers, while maintaining topical relevance to the keyword phrases you wish you rank for in organic search results.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

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