YouTube as Search Engine

YouTube is the Second Largest Search Engine.

People go straight to YouTube, looking for content.  In addition, content on YouTube filters into Google Video Search and Google Video Results on the “All” results page, but YouTube searches themselves are increasingly valuable.

Is your Brand Utilizing YouTube Properly?

YouTube Channels Matter

You definitely need a YouTube Channel, and that Channel should be optimized on your name.  When you are uploading videos, you want to make certain that people looking for you find your official page.  (Yes you can create multiple YouTube Channels, but how and why you’d do that is a more advanced topic).

Your Name, images, description, all these things matter.  Setting up your Brand Account is critical if you want to share access with others, or separate your professional and business life, and you can learn about Brand Accounts from Google, Manage your Brand Account.

YouTube Video Optimization Matters

If you are competing on a competitive generic phrase, you can spend endless hours working on learning SEO both on your website and on YouTube as a platform.  For Basics, you want to focus on the core areas of ranking:

  • Use the Brand Keyword in the Title
  • Compelling Thumbnail and Title that encourages people to click on your video
  • Say Your Target Keyword (so it gets transcribed)
  • Invite people to comment and subscribe in the video
  • Ask People to Subscribe to the channel
  • Promote Your Video to get Views (on your Blog, on Twitter, in your Email Signature, everywhere)

YouTube Can and Will Drive Quality Traffic

YouTube gets people looking for entertainment and information.  If your video offers either, it’s a great way to promote your brand, and a great way to engage with your customers, clients, and prospects.


Social Networking Across the World

Social networking is amongst the hottest topics of the past few years, but while our US Centric media has focused on Twitter (popular in urban areas) and Facebook (popular throughout the western world), the growth of social media is universal.  Here is a country-by-country map of the dominate Interestingly, Google’s Orkut has a small presence in Latin America, and it is likely that Facebook will overtake it in 2010.  This has the added benefit of destroying anyone who thinks that Google’s web dominance in anyway approaches Microsoft’s desktop dominance in the late 1990s.

Most interesting to me, the map looks increasingly like a Cold War map, with NATO/Facebook squaring off against Warsaw Pact/V Kontakte, although the division is less political and more language based.  Proper Cyrillic support is necessary in Russia and areas with high numbers of Russian speakers.  As communication morphs, increasingly email is the dominate business communication and social media is the dominate personal communication method, making sense of personal communications matching personal friendships while business needs the real time communication for which the academic system was developed for.

As communication increases, the world becomes increasingly similar, and a US-centric view of your potential user base may look myopic as more and more of the world starts to look similar.  If you can sell in the US via Facebook, you can sell across Europe via Facebook, as long as you adapt to the social and language conventions of your target country.

Ethnic Micro-targeting on Facebook

So again I open my email to an article about the creepy way of finding Jews to market to on Facebook, this time entitled, Kosher Ham’s Jewdar Tell-All.  A while back, I commented on how I would identify people by ethnicity on Facebook, Ethnic Targeting on Facebook, and I was amused to see an article almost half a year later laying out the things that popped into my head in 10 minutes.  However, there were two things that bothered me in this article:

  1. Actually targetting Jews with an advertisement for a “Kosher Ham” business seems really bottom of the barrel, a proud Christian or Muslim wouldn’t target their fellow members of faith with an anti-Christian or anti-Muslim business, would they?
  2. They outrageously list the social groups they target, listing a few historically Jewish fraternities and leave out AEPi (Alpha Epsilon Pi), the Jewish fraternity.

In all seriousness, the point they make is that when targeting a group, you aren’t looking for 100% accuracy, just decent accuracy.  The US Jewish population is about 2%, targeting everyone looking for Jewish customers is pointless.  However, online we can develop sub groups with decent Jewish accuracy, and similar options exist for other populations.

For example, approximately 12% of New York City is Jewish, if you target people in New York City, you’ll get more non-Jews than Jews, but you are reaching 6 times more Jews than reaching just the United States.  Further, looking for keywords associated with secular Jewish culture (obviously a business making fun of Jewish dietary law as part of its snark isn’t looking for religious affiliation), you can start to reach a targeted segment.

Now, many, perhaps most Jews on Facebook won’t have ANY interests related to Jewishness on their profile, and if your goal is to reach all Jews, this will fail.  If you were running a political campaign and targeting Jews with a message, only reaching 40%-60% of the Jews on Facebook might not be enough.  However, for running a CPC campaign, it doesn’t matter what percentage of the Jews on Facebook I reach, what matters is what percentage of the people that I reach are Jewish.  Running an online small business doesn’t require “market share,” it requires reaching profitable customers.

If you only target people affiliated with ethnically aligned groups, you might find some segments that are 80% – 95% your target demographic, which means that you’ll get higher click through rates and waste fewer clicks.  People affiliated with those aligned groups, even if not of that ethnicity, might be useful to target anyway.  Someone that frequented Hillel events, even though not Jewish, is probably either a prime target for Jewish-themed T-shirts, either for themselves or as a gift, making your targeting even better.  National ad campaigns are difficult, finding potential customers for a business is much easier.

Google Creates Open Marketplace for Display Ads

In what might be huge news, Google is opening the DoubleClick Ad Exchange as an open marketplace.  The Internet has destroyed middlemen and process where ever it has moved, devastating travel agencies, newspapers, recruiters, and in some markets, realtors.  It has been market-by-market, but the value of exclusive information has been destroyed as information has become publicly available.

One exception, media buying.  For reasons that will perhaps never be clear, purchasing banner ads on websites doesn’t follow the open marketplace of the rest of the web, but the rather strange world of media buyers and sellers, with their high commission rates and huge selling costs.  I understand why $10 million ad campaigns might require some sales finesse and price breaks, I don’t understand why I can’t buy 30 second spots on a local independent station in the middle of the night without knowing a salesman and creating an account.  I really don’t know why buying banner ads also seems so convoluted.

When I have done business hosting ads and buying them, I’ve found the results pretty decent if you are targeted.  I believe that they are much cheaper than Text Ads for business reasons… a marketer with a credit card can buy Text Ads, it seems like you need to spend time talking to a salesman to do banners.  Given how many independent marketers are moonlighting on the web, it’s insane to have a medium only available from 9 AM EST to 5 PM PST, when the search engines will let me buy spots at 4 AM.

Planning a Twitter Post: Usability Matters in 140 Characters

So Twitter is an interesting medium, because the rules are all informal. The speed at which information flows means that active Twitter users either use Tweetdeck and monitor the conversations all day, or log in periodically and miss whatever didn’t just happen. How often you can repost the same Tweet is a fine line between spamming and letting the information vanish.

The Nielsen Norman Group describes the 5 iterations their announcement of two usability conferences went through, a very detailed process for planning an announcement.  Rather than blasting it every hour and losing followers, they are focused on a tight message that is under 130 characters for easy Retweeting and viral effectiveness.

I feel pretty hypocritical, seeing as how I’m just using Twitterfeed to feed my blog posts, but a real solution is on the to do list, and safe to say for a client I would never simply dump a headline written for the web and Usability/SEO to a twitter feed.

When doing early tests with Pack Your House, which was actually going out via SMS, we would routinely spend 3-5 iterations for each message, because you can’t send people repeated messages without upsetting them or running up their tab.

An interesting thing you’ll notice through the iterations, he dropped extraneous words, not vowels.  He communicated his information without resorting to short hand that his targets might not understand, carefully adding emphasis and scanability to his Tweet rather than confusion.

The Twitter system opens up some tremendous marketing channels for getting messages out, but usability will help determine the success or failure of this channel.

SEO Friendly Content: The Holistic Approach to Web Design

When I started in SEO, everyone wanted a silver bullet.  As the years passed, people still want a silver bullet, but more and more clients and companies realize that SEO is part of the web site design process, not a bolt on service.  Sure you can do bolt-on SEO spamming, but it’s really expensive, time consuming, and only worthwhile for very wealthy companies in hyper competitive areas.

I saw another business blogger talking about Promoting Your Business For Free, and there is a discussion of business tools like blogs and press releases, and using social media to get word out, but not a word about SEO.  What’s a shame is every piece of advice he has on that article is good for someone doing SEO.  Add a little bit of ideas on keyword research, focusing on the topics your potential customers are searching for, and you’d have the basics for writing SEO-friendly copy without getting into the details of keyword density and emphasis.

A press release and a spider-friendly “landing page” aren’t so dissimilar, and it amazes me that to this day there isn’t anyone really offering the combined SEO/PR service (hint, hint, keep an eye on my site, I’m working with a PR firm to put an offering together).  Twitter is a great way to reach like minded individuals, but not necessarily a great way to build sustainable traffic.

Demographics of Twitter — Teens Catching Up

The latest demographics show Twitter usage amongst teenagers catching up with older dynamics.  The service still dominates in the 35 – 54 year old segment, which makes sense given that the mid-career professionals with nobody looking over their shoulder at the office all day (literally, more likely to have an office or at least a large cubicle) are making more use of a tool that requires constant connectivity for usage.  However, teenagers are slowly taking more of an interest in Twitter, which seemed odd to those that assume that technology is most often adapted by the young and moves up.  In the case of Twitter, it captured the Blackberry-addict demographic, not the TXTing on a phone demographic that they aimed for.  The comScore Blog Entry shows this with some lovely charts.

Twitter started by assuming that you’d want to update your close circle of friends with your goings on.  When Twitter hit the scene, my friends in urban areas on the coasts jumped on it to update everyone with what they were doing socially.  The teenage demographic doesn’t WANT to publish everything publicly, at least where their parents and/or teachers can find it.  Myspace offered teenagers tremendous room for self expression, while Facebook focused on the college (and later high school and young professional) markets of dating and social connection… high college students keeping in touch with high school friends, etc.

Interestingly, Twitter is now integrated with other parts of the web much better, making it a more useful tool for this demographic.  One of my high school classmates posted on Facebook that we should follow her on Twitter, as she isn’t on Facebook much anymore, but whether this is inevitable or a function of Facebook’s chasing Twitter and de-emphasizing what made it originally popular remains to be seen.  The old core of Facebook, finding old friends and reconnecting, or sharing college experiences with friends across the country, seems to have been supplanted in a barrage of data.  Facebook knocked Myspace off as leader by offering a clean and easy to use interface, but when they started fighting Twitter for buzz the news feed stopped being about sharing photographs and more about comments on statuses and wall posts, making it more and more a poor impersonation of Twitter.  If you want status and comments, Twitter’s world of feeds and mentions is a far cleaner interface than Facebook’s increasingly cluttered system.

Teenagers either have a close social circle that they are in touch with, or looking for ways to break out of the social world that they inhabit during the day.  A service that wants to reach them needs to offer one (or both) of those options.  Twitter offers teenagers the ability to aggregate information flow that interests them, and the increasing integration with other aspects of the web make it more interested.  When I was in high school, BBSes were the online way to communicate, by college, ICQ and later AIM became the online social center.  As Twitter takes that portion of the mindspace, Twitter’s relevance in that group increases.  However, the idea that my instant messages would be published on the website (even with the distinction between direct messages and public ones) seems odd to me, but AIM seemed odd to email/USENET users before us.

Facebook Pages Support Twitter, Smart Move

Last week, Facebook announced that they would support Twitter for Facebook Pages.  This seems to shock Mashable, but I’m not sure why.  Facebook offers Pages (formerly fan pages) as an enticement to businesses.  You can advertise them, add applications to them, message them, all sorts of functionality for businesses to use Facebook for marketing and pay Facebook to run CPC ads for their Page.

Hellotxt added support for Pages a while back, which would let you cross Publish to your Facebook Page, Twitter, and a few dozen other social media sites. If I’m Facebook, I want to be the core of your Social Media existence, and letting your updates auto-post to Twitter makes sense.  A business doing social media is likely to do Twitter and Facebook, so if you’re Facebook, why have them go to a third party, when you can make yourself the center of their Social Media world.

Facebook offers tremendous tools for online interaction with customers, Twitter offers some buzz.  If I can’t have dedicated people for both, I either need a cross posting tool, or having one update the other.  I see no threat to Facebook from this, and a way of enhancing the service that they want to charge people to advertisement.

Death of Search, Long Live Search

The growth of social media has Internet Marketers wondering if these new areas of interest mean the end of search as the heart of an Internet Marketing campaign.  I have always resented the tag SEO for my ideas on the Internet, because the concept of gaming the search engines has been dead for over 5 years now.  The growth of link based engines, starting with Google made gaming the engines less useful than a simple coherent strategy.  By building content with the user’s needs in mind, you were naturally doing SEO with good links, clear text, and simple content rich sites.

The emergence of social media as new avenues for traffic and links only add more aspects to your traffic strategies.  It is no longer “Google or Bust,” when you can generate traffic from Twitter or Facebook.

Good content, useful materials, clean HTML, and publishing your information into social media can all help you gain links to your website, or visitors that may leave comments and enhance your site.  Anyone on the Internet for more than 8 years remembers “surfing,” where you would click around from site to site exploring.  Pre dot-com, websites linked to each other, Google’s wars on spam may have discouraging linking for a number of years, but with the growth of social media, people are out exploring the Internet, and that helps publishers with good content find more traffic.

Email as Two Way Medium

So the line between evil spammers, and normal spammers seems grey to the ISPs, non-existent to the users, and bold to people looking for bulk commercial email.  Google is adding features to positively tag email from people in your contacts, including showing the picture.  One way to get in the Contacts list is to receive two responses.

It’s been 10+ years since people routinely used email responses, most automated emails say not to reply.  Perhaps this will bring back communications.  If companies are used to getting responses via Twitter, perhaps they can bring it back to the “ancient” email technology.