YouTube SEO (VSEO)

YouTube SEO (VSEO)Now that YouTube has integrated with Google it’s easier than ever to get your video into search results, but video SEO (VSEO) still makes a difference in getting the best possible ranking! The idea behind VSEO is that Google still can’t ‘read’ videos and therefore can only assess this kind of content via all of its associated text, which is why it’s got to be done correctly!

  • Tags – This is where the most mistakes are made. Tags are meant to give Google a clue as to what the video is related to, not get your video extra clicks just because you tagged it for a million different keywords. If Google sees that everyone who types in a keyword immediately clicks off of your video (this is called a “bounce”) it’s going to decide that you’re not relevant for that term. High bounce rates are very bad and tell Google your content isn’t very good. Low bounce rates are rewarded with better ranking. For YouTube tags, 5-10 is a great range. 
    • Short-tail keywords: These are very general and simple keywords that apply to a wide range of subjects and get tons of traffic. They’re also much harder and more expensive to get a good ranking for and those you attract will be less likely to be good leads. 
    • Long-tail keywords: These are much more specific keywords, usually keyword phrases that narrow down users to only those that are most relevant to your website. They’re easier and less expensive to rank for and your leads are more relevant. These long-tail keywords are also going to generate more long-term traffic than the short-tail keywords. Forget short-tail and invest in long-tail.
  • Title- Just as with a blog post, your most important keywords should be up front. Google still places a lot of weight in titles—the keywords you use should also be reflected in description, tags, and transcript.
  • Description - Should be written in natural language but all of your main keywords (the ones that will be reflected in your tags) should be there. Get rid of empty words or requests for shares and be sure to include links to any social media platforms or landing pages you’d like to send viewers to.
  • Transcripts- It’s going to be interesting to see how YouTube transcripts evolve, but until search engines learn how to ‘read,’ we have to provide the braille for them in the format of a Transcript. You can easily caption/subtitle your own videos using very basic formatting guides and give Google more information to work with. At the end of the video, include a link to your website in the audio transcript.

Looking forward to seeing how Google learns to best judge video relevancy!

Post by Cricky Cicchetti

 

10 Google Search Secrets You Should Already Know

As I was scanning the Google Search Blog today I came across something called A Google a Day. The user is given a question and using his or her own grasp of Google Search, the user races against the clock to find the answer and type it in as quickly as possible. Today’s example is below.
A Google a Day, Molière and Tartuffe
Having grown up in a house where my older brother and I raced to do everything, this was a welcome challenge. My brother and I would often demand our parents give us an obscure fact to find and then we would literally run to our respective computers to try and find the answer first. I was excited about A Google a Day, and yes, I OWNED today’s question.

A Google a Day, Molière and Tartuffe
It’s a strangely satisfying game and I’d recommend this if you feel like taking your Google Search skills for a spin. A Google a Day even explains the best way you should have found the answer. The questions range from easy to pretty tough and definitely point to the rising importance of search as a skill. With so much knowledge easily accessible it’s crucial to be able to navigate it quickly and effectively. The plane of digital literacy has been established and you don’t want to find yourself on the wrong side.

Ok enough of the preaching. On to the old and simple ways that the Google Search bar can help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Strange that more people don’t know about these Google search secrets…

10 Google Search Secrets You Should Already Know!

site:

If you know what you’re looking for on a particular website but just can’t seem to find it, site searches are great. I generally use them to track down email addresses. Sometimes they’re hidden in counter-intuitive places so having a trick like site: up your sleeve can help you root them out.

ex: site:www.thedailymuse.com interview

For the above query, the search results are all articles from The Daily Muse–a fantastic resource of young businesswomen!–with just the articles pertaining to interviews. Nice!

define:

This one’s pretty easy. Want to know the definition of a word? Just type define: with the word. Clever Google will understand and return a definition complete with a pronunciation guide. For example, define:brouhaha

define:brouhaha google search

word * word

This one is new to me, but it’s a good one! Sometimes you’re not exactly sure what the right keyword is, but you know at least some of them. Google Tips & Tricks uses “creative * writing” as an example which returns results for keyword phrases including “creative nonfiction writing,” “creative poetry writing,” “creative & practical writing,” etc.

-word

This is a great search tool if there’s a very popular search term very close to the one you’d like to use that will likely skew the results away from what you’re looking for. Try this little comparison on your own, you’ll see that the first search is dominated by results for Hermione Granger, a more popular search than those looking for the Hermione from Greek mythology or any other Hermiones out there, and the second excludes those articles about the fictional literary character:

ex. hermione

ex. hermione -granger

“search phrase”

Hopefully this one goes without saying. By placing quotation marks around your search phrase (or phrases) you can find exact matches for them. While a search with no quotation marks will yield results that have your terms in any order, a search with the phrase in quotation marks will return sites that rank well for those words in that particular order.

weather

You can either type in “weather” followed by a city or just weather followed by a zip code. Easy.

weather google search tips and tricks

Movies

Another easy one. Rather than remember the name of the movie theater and track down the website, whip out your cell phone at the office, or–holding my breath–crack open a newspaper, just type “movies” and your zip code.

Flight status

Just type in the airline and flight number to get information about the flight’s status.

flight status google search tips and tricks

+, -, *, /, % of

Don’t have a calculator? Embarrassed and need to figure out a basic function in a hurry? Just pop in your equation and Google will tell you the answer! On behalf of all Literature majors, thank you Google!

math google search tips and tricks

km to miles

I’ve definitely used this one a lot when I’m cooking (yes, Mom, I know what I do doesn’t really count as cooking) and it works with all units of measurement.

unit conversions google search tips and tricks

These have been around for ages, but they’re worth the refresher!
Post by Cricky Cicchetti

Search by Image: A whole new kind of web search!

Mr. Toad Esq.Hold on to your Cheetos, Internet Obsessives! You may not know this, but right now you can search the Internet with a photo. That’s right, instead of typing in a search query, you can just drag and drop a photo over the search bar and Google will just tell you what it is! Take this little toad for instance. He’s adorable but where on earth is he from? Never fear, using one of the four methods of Google Search by Image you can easily track him down. Check out the screenshot below of our Google Search by Image of this little gent. Note the Google Knowledge Graph at work on the right, figuring out from our image that we’re probably trying to track down the book this fellow is from!

google search by image screenshot

Given the ever-increasing importance of images in marketing (I’m looking at you, Pinterest!) I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a sign of improved awareness of image sourcing practices. It would make sense to keep an eye on Google’s Search by Image if you’re a company that creates a lot of original art or markets via original images.

Google Search by Image can help you identify a painting, a famous monument or geographic feature, or the origin of an image. It can also find additional photos for you with similar content and color balance. Or the name of that guy who sings the part of the song you like to listen to in the shower… or whatever.

google search by image harry styles

Keep it real and don’t let your newly discovered powers of search go to your head!

Post by Cricky Cicchetti

What is Google’s Knowledge Graph?

What the heck is Google’s Knowledge Graph and what does it mean for digital marketers? The quick and dirty of it is that Google search is getting smarter. A lot smarter.

Google Knowledge Graph digital marketers

Search queries drive modern interaction with the Internet and up until now it’s been pretty clunky. There hasn’t been another option so it’s never really bothered anyone. We use single words to narrow down all the websites on the Internet until we have just the right few pages that we’re looking for. That’s not a natural way to search. It’s not only prone to abuse, but it’s all based on the text of a website rather than the meaning of its content. Google’s new take on search is based on the relationships between keywords and how they affect each other rather than how they cut down search results by the presence of keywords on a page. Make sense? Lance Uloff gave a great example in his article (Google Search Just Got 1,000 Times Smarter) published on Mashable earlier today:

Google is switching from simple keyword recognition to the identification of entities, nodes and relationships. In this world, “New York” is not simply the combination of two keywords that can be recognized. It’s understood by Google as a state in the U.S. surrounded by other states, the Atlantic Ocean and with a whole bunch of other, relevant attributes.

Want to see it in action? Type a famous person’s name into Google. Google search now understands that when I type in Nikola Tesla I’m curious about a person and that I’m probably looking for some basic facts rather than a bunch of websites with that keyword phrase. You can also do this with geographic features, movies, countries, and brands! Check out the screenshot from my test:

Google Knowledge Graph in action

How will this impact those who are trying to optimize their websites for favorable Google site indexing? It’s a little too soon to tell, but in the meantime just do what Google suggests and just keep creating relevant and interesting content!

Post by Cricky Cicchetti

Author Markup: Link your Google+ profile to your blog posts

This is incredibly easy to do and incredibly satisfying to see. Author markup is just html that tells Google who wrote an article and where to draw information about them from. Here’s a little screen shot of a search result with author markup. It stands out from the search results around it because it has color, takes up more real estate, and shows a clear connection to a real person (yes, it apparently still matters.) Posts with author markup like this get more clicks than posts without it!

author markup chad pollitt kuno creative cricky cicchetti inboundtastic

Step One: Set up your Google+ Profile

Easy peasy. Just visit your profile on Google+, click Edit Profile, and on the right hand side, fill in the URL of the website you contribute to. In my case, this is the daily blog I run for the company I work for and good ol’ Inboundtastic.

Next is just adding the email that you want to be available to those who are reading your blog. I put both of these emails under the “Work” section of my profile. Once it’s added, click Save. Now you’ll see a little blue “Verify” hyperlink next to the email you added. Go through the verification steps as prompted. Easy.

Now your Google+ profile (and your Google+ profile photo!) are ready to be linked to the wonderful content you’re going to spit forth into the world, regardless of what site is publishing it! See the example above? See where it says “More by Chad Pollitt?” Because he’s linked his articles to his Google+ profile, you can find all sorts of cool stuff that he’s written just by clicking on his name. Whoaaaah. The web just moved to a whole new level, right?

Step Two: Set up the link within the blog post

You’re going to laugh this is so easy. I won’t tell you how long it took me to figure this out because it’s embarrassing, but the html below is all that you need to have in your blog post (obviously inserting your own information, I’ve put all of the places you need to do this in green.) There’s also some html for a little G+ icon included below, you need that somewhere on your page too.

<address>Post by <a href=”mailto:cricky@inboundtastic.com“>Cricky Cicchetti</a></address><a href=”https://profiles.google.com/104212631248024660526” rel=”author”><img src=”http://ssl.gstatic.com/images/icons/gplus-16.png” alt=”" width=”16″ height=”16″ />
</a>

Now, publish your blog post and wait. It took a few days before the link was processed for me, but it’s not some sort of static waiting period. In the meantime you can use the Rich Snippets Testing Tool to see if you’ve done it correctly.

Step Three: Enjoy

If you’re anything like me, when the link is processed, you’re going to call your friends and make them do an organic search for your blog post until they see your smiling face pop up in their search results. Feel free to repeat as necessary.

Post by Cricky Cicchetti

Rich Snippets Testing Tool: Totally Chill

rich snippets testing tool cricky cicchetti inboundtasticThere are a couple tools that I use all the time, but a particularly cool one is Google’s Rich Snippets Testing Tool. It took me a little while (and a number of handfuls of M&M’s from the office gum-ball machine) to figure this out, but it’s not as scary and foreign as it sounds. If you’re comfortable mucking around in the html of your blog post you’ll definitely be able to handle rich snippet markup.

What is a rich snippet?

Google has a great page that explains rich snippets, but the basic gist is that you can embed certain structured information in your blog posts that will flag information for Google’s search result snippets.

Here’s a rich snippet preview of one of my past blog posts. You can see what data Google can extract from your markup (in this example you can see the extracted author/publisher data for the page). Note that the Google search preview shows a little picture of me. That’s because I linked my post to my Google+ account. Here’s an explanation of how to do author markup. If you’re waiting for Google to index you, the Rich Snippets Testing Tool is a great way to make sure you’ve marked up your post correctly.

rich snippet preview cricky cicchetti inboundtastic

Why should my markup have rich snippets?

A search engine’s job is to connect people with the content that they’re looking for. Helping search engines out by telling them explicitly what they’re looking for will only help you get found by those who are trying to find you. I found this article from Google Support on microdata very helpful in figuring out how to do it.

Was this post helpful? What are some tools that you like using?

Post by Cricky Cicchetti

Third-Party Apps: Do you really need them?

If you’re a small business owner or running a personal site or blog, it can be tempting to buy into the marketing copy of third-party apps that promise to ease the confusion of the mighty Interwebs. There certainly are a lot of social platforms out there right now, but you don’t need to be on all of them.

twitter iconsFigure out which platforms are relevant to the content you’re producing (are getting you the most traffic, conversation, sales, whatever is important to you), and get rid of the others. Focus your energies on outposts that will benefit you. There shouldn’t be more than a few.

To keep your social media outposts updated and relevant, you can either post updates manually by visiting your desired platforms or integrate updates via third-party apps. It’s really up to you and how you want to run your updates. Just make the decision in an informed way. Here are some pros and cons. It’s the best way to make decisions, right? Right.

third-Party Apps

  • Fewer clicks – You don’t have to visit each different platform and sign into them all (if you’re not automatically remembered). You can update all of your social media from one convenient location.
  • More room for error - If you’ve got a few different platforms to update and you’re using an app to make it go faster, it’s much easier to accidentally post an update to the wrong platform, for the wrong day, too many times, to the wrong person, etc.
  • Automation – A big feature of many third-party apps is automation, or the ability to schedule social media updates ahead of time. It’s a very handy way to grab the reins of what would otherwise be a very overwhelming job.
  • Third party stamp – Many third-party apps include a small stamp or indicator that you’re using their service. Some feel this looks unprofessional, some don’t mind at all.third party platform stamp
  • Decreased relevance – Sometimes *gasp* third-party apps automating updates can lower the priority of updates from third-party apps. This is just how some social platforms’ algorithms (like Facebook) are written; Social platforms would prefer that people engage with them directly rather than via some other website.
  • Lose touch - Unless you’re very careful, being able to update all of your platforms quickly without even visiting them can lead to you doing a lot more sharing and a lot less listening. Just be vigilant, yo.

Updates by hand

  • Takes longer - Ok, we’re not talking very much longer, maybe a couple of minutes, but some people just don’t have those few minutes to spare every day. In my opinion, those people need to reassess their direction in life (but that’s a whole different blog post for when I’m social media guru that’s starting to stray from concrete marketing advice into lofty spiritual guidance.)
  • Absolutely free – When you’re using your social platform directly you don’t have to worry about paying for a fancy service. Sure, there are a lot of free third-party apps (or free versions without full  functionality of pro-versions), but many find ways to monetize their best software.
  • Simple – If the whole point of all of this is to simplify your social updates, why on earth would you add the complexity of learning a whole new platform? If the sound of this just turns you off, third-party app updates might not be for you.
  • Working as intended -  Why mess with a good thing? If a social platform is written to work in a certain way, why trust a third-party platform that doesn’t necessarily have access to those algorithms?

So where do you fall? There’s a whole industry around managing social media which I don’t especially buy into. Sure, I use some platforms to automate some things, but I’m honestly not as big a believer as some. If you’re interested in learning more about some third-party apps, check out this very detailed slide show from InformationWeek’s social business section, the Brain Yard: Top 20 Apps for Managing Social Media.

Post by Cricky Cicchetti

Scared of Facebook Timeline? Please.

Facebook Timeline

When it comes to interacting with the web, people fall into two groups: Those who resist new technology and those who grab it with both hands and shake it around. Which are you?

Facebook Timeline is coming whether you’d like it to or not and there’s no use complaining about it (Facebook is an entirely free service that you can stop using at any time–they will make changes all the time as they see fit.) While you still have the opportunity to set up and edit your profile in Timeline before publishing it for public view, take a little time to get used to the layout. Right now it might not make much sense to you, but when you see your own information converted to Timeline format, you’ll start to understand it much better. It’s actually gives a fantastically efficient overview of someone’s Facebook history. There’s no need to be scared of Facebook Timeline.

Still doubtful? No worries.

  • Profile – Unlike the original Facebook page, you now have the opportunity to pick a banner photo. This gives you a lot more choice in personalizing your page and can make it feel more like home. Mine is a screenshot from my favorite computer game. Most people select a banner that will give some sort of nice contrast with their profile photo.Cricky Facebook Timeline banner
  • Photos – Facebook Timeline has a bigger emphasis on photos. Photos aren’t buried in albums but used as ways to mark time. Take the time to go back and edit which photos are emphasized within certain albums, and alter the privacy settings on others that you don’t want people to see.
  • Milestones – Another very cool feature of Facebook Timeline! Milestone banners break up the two-column format. They can be used for anything. Facebook automatically adds Milestones for graduations, starting certain jobs, and your birthday. Add some photos to these, they look really cool and make it easier to chart time at a glance. Facebook Timeline Milestone Cricky Cicchetti graduates from Yale
  • Buttons – If you’re starting to feel a little more comfortable with Timeline you can work on your buttons. Located just below the banner on the right hand side, these are gateways to more about you. Manage the things you’ve ‘liked’ on Facebook, your subscriptions, photos, friends, videos, etc. You can even add custom pages by adding apps to your account. You can only display four though, so choose wisely! Here’s an example of a brand page’s buttons. Notice that the last two are custom buttons. Click the image to visit Coca Cola’s page and see what their other buttons are (just click the small down arrow next to the rightmost button.)Coca Cola Facebook Timeline Brand Page

What questions do you have? Are you still scared of Facebook Timeline? The forced switch is coming at the end of March 2012 so start getting comfy now. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t, just be aware that your information may display a little differently than before so be sure to take the time to review it when Timeline goes live.

Post by Cricky Cicchetti

4 Reasons Personal Branding is Dangerous for Corporations

With the rise of personal branding comes a new relationship between corporations and their employees. The public is increasingly relating to and responding to individuals rather than faceless brands which is–many believe–a great development.

personal branding dangerous for corporationsCorporations reap the benefits of having dynamic and influential social media and content managers (just think of Mashable’s Pete Cashmore or Problogger’s Darren Rowse) but despite the numerous exciting benefits, this trend ultimately points to a shift in the power dynamic for brands…

  • Recruiting a following - Companies will begin to recruiting individuals with developed and wide-reaching personal followings. Major brands will essentially buy personal social networks and the trusted personality to funnel brand messaging through to potential customers.
  • Losing an audience – When you mix a personal brand with a company (setting up a Twitter account for your company that is also your own primary account) you create a massive conflict for a company. Remember the mess with Noah Kravits and his PhoneDog Twitter account, @PhoneDog_Noah?
  • Lack of control – As soon as a brand calls upon individuals to use their style and voice to carry the banner for corporate marketing initiatives, they lose control. Allowing individuals to take on personal ownership of brand messaging gives them a significant degree of power. Developing a strict code of rules for all employees will lessen, but not eradicate, the possibility of embarrassing mistakes or leaks.
  • Overshadowing – If an employee curates a certain sized audience or develops a sizable enough influence, you could have your very own hostage situation on your hands as one person becomes increasingly equated with everything your company name stands for. Allowing individuals the opportunity to take personal ownership could translate into an influence-based hierarchy that could be threaten for an unprepared company’s personel structure.

These are some of the hurdles that corporations have to consider before embracing a full-blown social media campaign. With careful planning, preparation, and monitoring they are easily cleared, but the field will continue to change as social media evolves.

How else is personal branding dangerous for corporations?

Post by Cricky Cicchetti

Google Analytics: Excluding traffic from specific IPs

google analyticsIf you have a new blog you’re definitely going to want to integrate it with all of Google’s tools (start by verifying your blog with Google Webmaster Tools – it’s has some good insights and it always pays to be in Google’s directory.) One of the most valuable free tools you have at your disposal is Google Analytics. When you’re setting this up, don’t forget the very important step of removing your own computer’s IP address (and, if your family is like mine, your parents’ IP addresses) from the results. Excluding traffic from those who will visit your site very frequently because of a close personal connection (or other reason) can help you get a better snapshot of the healthy of your website.

This is actually surprisingly easy. After you set up your Google Analytics account by installing a little tracking code into your website, just create a filter.

  • Select [Admin] –> [Filters] and choose the button [+New Filter]
  • Create a New Filter (type, predefined) and exclude the desired IP address. Not sure what your IP address is? Just type “my IP address” into a Google search bar and your IP address will be displayed at the top of your search results.

excluding IPs from search traffic google analytics

Now, enjoy tracking the traffic to your website! Now you’re tracking just the visitors that you want to be tracking! What are some other Google Analytics tips that you’ve found useful?

Post by Cricky Cicchetti