Archives for March 2012

How to Optimize Your Mobile Site for Search Engines

According to Google, mobile search is growing much faster than desktop search… in fact, it’s grown so fast that it’s even beating Google’s predictions.

As Google’s Zero Moment of Truth ebook says, mobile is “not ‘the wave of the future’ any more — it’s right now”.

With mobile search becoming such a dramatic part of online search, it’s absolutely crucial that you optimize your site so that it is seen by searchers and engines. But before we get into that, here are some statistics for you:

Statistics every mobile SEO marketer needs to know

mobile shopping

Let’s look at some stats…

  • In a Google Smartphone User study, mobile searches will make up 25% of all searches in the world this year.
  • A Compuware study said that over 50% of consumers would not recommend a business with a bad mobile site. In fact, over 40% said they would use a competitor with a better mobile experience.
  • 60% of consumers use mobile searches before buying.
  • Close to 50% of mobile searchers made a mobile purchase in the last six months.
  • 51% of mobile users will buy from a retailer with a site specifically for mobile users…but only 4.8% of brands have a mobile site.
  • In the “Mobile Movement,” a study by Google, 77% of smart phone users visit search engines and then social sites.
  • Over 90% of mobile searches end in some type of action…visiting a business or purchasing, for example.

mobile 9 out of 10

As you can see, being mobile ready is super important. Now let’s explore the differences between mobile and desktop search and SEO.

The difference between mobile and desktop SEO

mobile seo

Some people might say that because they are doing traditional SEO, they are doing SEO. Basically, they say, there is no difference between the two.

This usually leads to the perception that someone with a traditional SEO background could do mobile SEO by using methods like relevance, accessibility, usability and marketing. And it’s true that these general principles apply to mobile search, but there are subtle differences in optimizing for mobile that you wouldn’t apply to desktop.

With normal SEO, people push for keyword-rich content as that helps the search engines determine the relevancy of a page. When it comes to mobile sites, you have to throw the general principle of 250 words or more on a web page for proper SEO out the window.

The main reason why mobile sites demand different SEO standards is that the mobile experience is very different from the desktop version. If you try to apply traditional principles, you aren’t going to get the same results. However, apply mobile-centric SEO practices to mobile search, and you’ll start to win the game.

Mobile users behave differently and use different keywords

mobile chart

In traditional searches, people are using keywords. This is not always the case in mobile search. Searchers can use a variety of methods like Gesture Search, Voice Search or Google GogglesIn other words, they don’t necessarily go to their mobile browsers.

And if they do use keywords, those may have different meanings in different contexts. Also, mobile searchers do searches in different settings and at different times from desktop searchers.

What this means is that you need to make mobile keyword research a high priority…instead of just focusing on traditional keyword research exclusively.

Mobile users engage differently

According to Google’s book, the top three positions on a search page matter even more in mobile world since the digital shelf gets really small on mobile devices.

In fact, according to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth, a drop to the first (below paid ads) position can result in a conversion plunge of 90% or more! This means that your SEO campaigns need to take into account click-through rates and search volume in the mobile realm.

The other big difference is that mobile users do not want to scroll.

mobile search

So, if you do not have a top three position on search…and this includes ads…and you’re not optimizing for it, then you are not doing mobile SEO.

Debunking common SEO mobile myths

Since mobile SEO is such a new discipline, there are a lot of differing opinions about it. For example, Ryan Jones wrote an article called Mobile SEO is a myth in which he said that “mobile SEO” was a concept created by salespeople who wanted to sell more SEO services.

Here is a summary of the main points of his article:

  • Creating a site that works on all devices is the best mobile strategy.
  • If you can’t do that, then use m.yourdomain.com, canonical tags and device detection to redirect.
  • Give users a link to switch to a traditional version of the site.
  • Create an app if you want to deliver a true device experience.
  • Local SEO is really want we mean when we say “mobile SEO.”

While there is some truth to some of the things he said, the overall notion that there is no such thing as “mobile SEO” was debunked by Brian Meunier in an article called 7 Mobile SEO Myths Exposed:

  • Myth #1: A Dotmobi TLD is necessary for indexing and ranking – The company behind Dotmobi TLD wants you to believe that building a mobile site through their product is the best approach. The truth is that whether you build it on Dotmobi TLD or m.domain.com or another alternative, you are no better or worse. However, Google has indexed more m.domain.com sites than any other.
  • Myth #2: Metatext is necessary for mobile SEO – Metatext files are like robots.txt or an XML sitemap in that they help a search engine find and index content. The only problem is that metatext isn’t supported by Google or Bing. That’s significant since they command over 99% of mobile market share. If your content is already indexed well, you don’t need metatext.
  • Myth #3: Code validation is necessary for mobile SEO – In a nutshell, when it comes to smartphones, validation doesn’t matter.
  • Myth #4: Mobile site maps are necessary for mobile SEO – Google’s John Mueller said that if you are indexing smartphone content, you don’t need the mobile site map. Now, mobile site maps probably can’t hurt, but they aren’t necessary.
  • Myth #5: Mobile formatting is enough for mobile SEO – Just formatting your desktop site for mobile misses a key part in mobile SEO. A site that develops content based on mobile-centric information architecture and keyword principles will always be better optimized.
  • Myth #6: Mobile queries are shorter – Research from 2009 by Google shows that these queries are only slightly shorter…2.44 words versus 2.93 words for computers. In 2011, they found that longer queries are more likely to be used than shorter ones.
  • Myth #7: People Aren’t Searching On Mobile Devices – This myth isn’t as common as others, but it was made famous by Steve Jobs who said in 2010, “search hasn’t happened on mobile devices.” Early this year, Google reported that 1 in 7 queries comes from devices. Some industries like restaurants receive even higher percentage of searches on mobile phones. Jobs was actually saying that most of the search occurs through apps, but Google reported that mobile searches were actually conducted by 77% of smartphone users on their phones and not through apps, which was 66%.

Mobile search strategy

Now, let’s look at some high-level mobile SEO strategies.

Develop sites that can be used across all devices

Search engines rank a page based on some common criteria like page download speed, screen rendering, site performance and usability. What this means is that a fully optimized mobile site will outperform a site that has been reformatted for a smaller screen.

Here is a site that Jakob Neilson tested called allkpop:
mobile site

The site did many things right. For example, the mobile version of the site is rendered when the site detects that a mobile phone is visiting the page…and it also has large touch targets.

It’s important to note that key content can be stripped away from a page if you transcode it via a cookie-cutter template. This produces poor usability, incomplete or broken pages and bad navigation, all of which leads to lower rankings and lower repeat visits, resulting in even lower rankings.

Device type also informs search engines about search rankings since different mobile web browsers will render pages differently. That’s why it’s critical that brands develop a mobile strategy that works across all devices…and mobile operating systems.

Use traditional SEO practices

Although there are SEO techniques unique to mobile, if you apply these traditional SEO practices to your mobile site, you should see an increase in rankings:

  • Relevant keywords in headlines and copy – Mobile search by consumers focuses on tasks like finding a specific location or researching a specific product. This is different from how searches are conducted on a desktop, so it’s important to understand the behavior of mobile searchers and how they perform searches. Armed with that research, you can start crafting headlines and copy that reflect these needs.
  • Relevant page titles  Page titles are the first things that mobile searchers evaluate when searching on their phone. The closer you can match your titles to their search queries, the higher your content will rank.
  • Accurate page descriptions  Next to title tags, page descriptions provide another opportunity to deliver relevant, high-quality content to mobile searchers.
  • Outbound links  Even though there are usability concerns with large links, you want to include outbound links that lead to relevant information that provides a better user experience. This will also build a connection and a sense of trust when you link to authority brands.
  • Standard coding  You must follow valid HTML coding since there are a variety of mobile operating systems. These web browsers still look through the code to determine the relevancy of a page. Broken pages are the result of a bad or invalid code and lead to lower rankings. This seems like common sense, but it’s worth repeating that you need to build all sites according to standards to provide the same experience across all devices.

Create mobile-friendly content

After the site architecture and design is determined, your next step is to figure out how you are going to host your mobile site.

You can find lots of options, but I think the best way to do it is simply park your homepage and mobile-only pages on m.domain.com subdomain or /m subfolder.

The desktop pages you don’t change to mobile you can keep at your desktop URL. Just reformat them for mobile users.

You can also redirect, but when it comes to transcoded desktop URLs, you’ll want to use canonical tags so the link juice is directed back to desktop pages.

Cheat sheet for preparing your site for mobile readiness

Mobile SEO is a rapidly changing landscape…and I’ve provided you with a lot of information above. Here’s a summary of everything I talked about to make it easy for you to apply these steps to your mobile SEO strategy.

  • Trigger mobile-formatted CSS – When someone accesses your site via a mobile phone, you’ll want to give them the mobile version, which happens through using user agent detection. This pulls up the CSS formatted version or sends the user to a mobile friendly version in your directory or sub domain. If you use WordPress, download the WPtouch plugin, which does this for you automatically.
  • User opt out – Give users the option to opt out of this mobile-formatted CSS.
  • Don’t block Googlebot-Mobile – Google will check your Doc Type to see if you are using Compact HTML type or XHTML mobile. Depending on the answer, it will be indexed in the mobile version.
  • Image rendering – When it comes to images, use percentage or relative rather than pixel or absolute.
  • Minimize the length of links – Links that are too long will not look good in a mobile view.
  • Position calls to action in the top left section of the site rather than the top right  The top right, which is where the calls to action are positioned normally, may be cut off in the mobile version.
  • Minimize the number of click-throughs – Unlike with desktop search, where users are happy to click as long as they sense they are going down the right path, mobile users do not like to click more than two times.
  • Test your site’s mobile readiness – Use MobiReady for load times and device rendering and W3C mobileOK Validator for validation.

The Future of Mobile Search

As mobile gets faster and easier to use and the mobile experience improves, the adoption of mobile phones will continue to rise.

This is no different than the rise of the personal computer.

This means mobile SEO is powerful and can mean big business for you. Getting mobile SEO right can help you gain and increase mobile traffic.

In the same vein, search engines are trying to keep up. They do a lot of testing and changing of algorithms, so you’ll need to keep up too.

  • Pulling in personal, real-time results – Search results are getting increasingly personal with real-time content like tweets and wall posts. This is great for the mobile user because it gives him or her the information he or she wants quickly. Think Facebook’s Sponsored Stories. The level of personalization will be high since phones aren’t shared like computers, so results will focus on the mobile user even when the user is not actually logged in.
  • Mobile SEO can also be very focused on location  GPS is not used in normal web searches unless you have actually set your location…but eventually it will be. This will make the results of mobile search even tougher to predict. When it comes to driving traffic to your brick-and-mortar store, you need to consider the fact that people may never even click through to your mobile site since they can get everything they need from the map: your address and phone number are provided on the search result.
  • Apps change mobile SEO – Mobile users are also skipping mobile web search in favor of search engine apps like UrbanSpoon, WikiTudeShazam and RedLaser, providing a search experience centered around an industry like restaurants. These apps will also rank in search results. That means another mobile strategy to consider is to create an app. If it does well in the app store, it may get pulled into universal results on a mobile search.
  • Search engines on one URL for mobile SEO – On the Bing Search blog Microsoft said that Bing proposes a one URL per content item strategy. The benefits include more ranking signals coming to one URL. This doesn’t mean that every single mobile URL should be a desktop URL. Sometimes you’ll need a mobile-specific landing page…and if you do, Bing says to block it via robots.txt. Google hasn’t made such a definitive statement. Google says to treat Googlebot mobile like it were a mobile userbut how exactly to structure your site? Google says you can do both by using mobile URLs and a desktop URL with a mobile template. Is one better than the other? John Mueller at Google said to use one URL with a template.

Conclusion

The mobile world is changing fast, which means you need to be on top of the SEO mobile game by looking at your web analytics constantly and following the industry experts for every piece of news you can get.

Falling behind this rapidly growing market could be very costly. Doing it wrong can be just as costly. Make sure you have the right information and the right tools to get the job done correctly and in a timely fashion.

So, have you optimized your mobile site for search engines?

P.S. If you want help optimizing any of your sites click here.

How to Optimize Your Business For Local Search and Social Marketing

pikes place market seattle

If you have a local business or one that targets audiences in a specific geo-location, then you will want to move beyond general guides for search and social optimization. This post will take you through several marketing strategies for local search and social media marketing.

Keyword Research for Local Search

Before you can optimize your website, social media profiles or anchor text for link building, you have to know what keywords you want to use. When it comes to local search marketing, you are not only targeting industry-specific terms but geo-specific terms as well.

Let’s look at an example of a local plumbing business that might have several locations in Washington. When planning their optimization strategy, the first thing they might do is take a look at some geo-specific keywords + plumbing to see how many times they are searched, using Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

While the numbers may not be exact, you can rest assured that, given the above data, “seattle plumbing” is searched more than “tacoma plumbing,” but “tacoma plumbing” is searched more than “everett” and “edmonds plumbing” combined. When you start with terms like that, you will also get additional suggestions plus the approximate number of times those phrases are searched monthly.

Want to try some other ways to get keyword ideas? Try typing in your keyword ideas in Google search, then scroll down to the bottom to see the related searches.

You can also look at your top competitor’s website (the one that ranks the highest for your main targeted keyword phrase) to see what keywords it ranks for, using SEMrush. A free account will show you 10 keywords.

Using a combination of these tools and researching other local competitors in your industry should help you develop the right keywords to use for the local search optimization of your business.

On-Site Optimization for Local Search

Once you have your keyword set, the next thing you will want to do is optimize your own website for local search. Let search engines know what locations you are targeting by including geo-specific information, keywords and phrases in the specific places on your website as described below.

Title and Meta Descriptions

When it comes to search results, people are going to see your website’s SEO title tag and meta description, or other related snippet from your website, first.

Note that when searching for air conditioning repair seattle, people will see those keywords bolded in both the title and snippet about the website. Make these two areas count for local search by doing the following:

  • Locally Optimized Title Tags – The SEO title tag is still one of the most important elements for on-site optimization even if Google sometimes chooses alternate titles for search results. Regardless, you should still assume that Google might choose your specified title tag to link to your website in search results. Hence, you will want to make sure it not only includes your primary keywords, but your location as well within 70 characters.
  • Locally Optimized Meta Descriptions – Again, Google might choose a snippet of text from your website instead, but it never hurts to have an optimized meta description. Make sure it includes your primary keywords, areas your business serves and phone number, if possible, within 165 characters.

Local Address & Phone Number on All Pages

Another good signal to search engines is a local street address and phone number on all pages. Most businesses will place this information in their website’s footer. Be sure that it is actually in the text and not in an image. This is good for search engine bots and for people on their mobile phones as your phone number will be clickable!

Location-Specific Pages

Have more than one location but only one website? That’s not a problem. Just create a page on your website specific to each physical location. This way, anyone searching for your business in a particular region, city, state or country should be directed to the appropriate page.

Embed a Map

If you enter an address on Google Maps, you can get an HTML embed code to add the map to your website. Just click on the link icon to get the code.

You can also click on the “customize” link to choose sizing and other features for your map before embedding it on your website.

This is a great way to help visitors to your website find your location easily, and, who knows, it might tell a Google search bot more about your location.

Create a Geo Sitemap

Want to make absolutely sure Google knows where you are? Then create a geo sitemap and a KML file for your website. Geo Sitemap Generator makes it easy. Just fill in your company details, download the files and upload them to your website’s root folder.

Then go to Google Webmaster Tools, add your website (if you haven’t already), verify it using your Google Analytics code (other options available), and then add your geo sitemap’s URL under Site Configuration > Sitemaps. Instead of waiting for Google to find out where you are, tell it where you are!

Local Search Directories

Once you have optimized your site for local search, you should begin some off-site optimization. The first places to look at are applicable local search directories.

The following are seven of the top local search directories.

Google Places

The ultimate goal is to have the best Google Places listing. For local businesses, it could mean having your business show up on the first page above some of the organic search results.

To get started, add or claim your business on Google Places. When you create your profile, be sure to fill out as much information as possible and add up to ten supplementary photos. You can even link five videos from YouTube about your business.

Also note that you can hide your address on your listing by selecting “Yes, this business serves customers at their locations.” This is a great option for home businesses that target local clients. When you select that option, you will get a check box to not show your address.

Once you have completed your profile and hit “submit”, you will need to choose a way to verify your business. Some will have the option to verify by phone immediately – others will have to wait two to three weeks for a postcard by mail to the business address.

Once your Google Places profile is live, be sure to encourage your customers to review your business. Be sure to also monitor your business reviews. You can respond to good or bad reviews as the owner. This is a great way to demonstrate your customer service skills publicly!

You can even use your responses as a way to advertise your friendliness to potential customers as the above business has done. And don’t worry if customers review you on other sites as many of them feed into Google Places.

The only unfortunate part of off-site reviews is that they won’t count towards the number of reviews and stars shown in Google search results.

While Google Places one of the most important places to get listed on, you have to also create profiles on other sites to build citations for local SEO. The more consistent listings you have on additional local search directories, the better your local rankings will be.

Yahoo Local

Yahoo Local should be next on your local search listings and citations quest. You can add or claim a basic listing for free which includes all the vital information: contact information, link to your website, hours, payment options, email address, products, and services.

Or you can choose the enhanced listing for $9.95 per month, which allows you to add photos, coupons, a 3,000-character company description and a-150 character company tagline. You can also run a report to see the number of impressions and clicks you have received with an enhanced listing. The nice part about Yahoo Local compared to Google Places is that verification is done on Yahoo’s end and takes a couple of days to go live.

Bing Local

Bing Local allows you to add or claim a free listing with up to nine photos for your business. Its submission system (the Bing Business Portal) is currently in beta and not the most user-friendly compared to Google or Yahoo. Verification is done by mail and can take two to three weeks. One nice thing about Bing’s local pages is that it pulls in reviews from a variety of other local search sites, and, unlike on Google, the total number of ratings and stars from all sites are listed in Bing’s local search results.

Yelp

Yelp is one of the most well-known local search directories. You can add or claim your business listing for free and add photos and lots of additional details beyond just your contact information. Business owners can respond to reviews on their page, which is a plus for demonstrating customer service skills. Yelp also offers pay-per-click advertising within their network, so you can get your business listing in front of more people.

Merchant Circle

Merchant Circle is another popular local directory that allows businesses to add or claim free listings with extended descriptions, profile pictures and links to their websites. It also offers free basic statistics about your listing such as what keywords drive traffic to your listing. It also shows you the number of visitors your listing has received in the last thirty days compared to an average business and the top business in your category on Merchant Circle. You can click on the “who is this?” link to find out who the leader in your category is to learn more about your competitor’s local marketing strategy.

Superpages

Superpages allows businesses to add or claim free listings that include an extended description of their business, multiple categories, a listing of products and services, one related business image and a link to their website. You can add or claim your business listing here.

Yellow Pages

Yellow Pages allows businesses to add or claim free listings that include an extended description of their business, multiple categories and a link. You can also add additional photos for the business listing.

Additional Local Directories

Looking for more? You can use tools like Whitespark Local Citation Finder, which will help you find the best local directories for your business. You can also search for the names of your main competitors to see what sites they are listed on and make sure you get listed there as well.

Why It Is Important to Claim Your Listings

If a business has been around long enough, there is a good chance that the business is already listed with its address and phone number. With that in mind, is it important to claim your business listing? Absolutely! Many local directories do not have any verification method to prove that someone editing a listing actually belongs to the business.

If you take the initiative to claim your listings on major local directories and networks, it prevents other people from modifying (or even completely removing) your listing.

Getting Local Reviews

Once you’ve claimed your business profiles on local search directories, the most important thing you can do to boost your visibility is get reviews. Having a positive rating can help you elevate your business in search results, especially on sites that allow visitors to sort businesses by the number of positive ratings.

Here are some tips for getting great social local search reviews.

  • Add Buttons/Badges to Your Website – Let your website visitors know they can rate your business on directories like Yelp by adding links to your business listing on your website.
  • Encourage Reviews in Your Store – If you have a store or restaurant, encourage local reviews by simply putting a mention or link to your Yelp or other business listing on receipts.
  • Encourage Reviews via Emails – Does your business have an online ordering system? Do you encourage people who buy from your website to sign up for your mailing list? If so, email people after they have received their purchases and ask them to rate their experience with your business on the business listing of your choice.
  • Simply Ask – If you interact with people on a daily basis in your business, simply ask people to add a review on your business listing. Most people will be happy to oblige.

No matter how great your business is, you still might encounter a bad review. As I mentioned previously, many sites like Google Places and Yelp allow business owners to respond to their reviews individually. Be sure to monitor your reviews regularly and respond to them as necessary. Leaving bad reviews unanswered does not make them go away. It just makes visitors to your profile wonder what, if any, resolution your unsatisfied customers received.

By responding to your bad reviews, you show potential new customers that your goal is to make sure everyone is happy, no matter what.

Link Building for Local Keywords

Once you’ve built your local business listings up, the next thing you should start doing is building links to your website. Keep in mind that you don’t want to overdo things as Google is hard at work on an over-optimization penalty as we speak. That said, there are many great ways to acquire links.

Since I’ve already discussed 10 hard-hitting link building tactics and leveraging link blending to maximize rankings, I won’t go into any more general link building strategies here. Instead, let’s look at some local linking options including the following:

  • Related Local Businesses – Look for businesses that are in the same industry, but are not competitors. See if those websites have resource pages that link out to other businesses similar to yours. Then see if you can strike up a dialogue with the business owner and convince them why they need to have your link listed as a valuable resource to their visitors.
  • Local Bloggers – Find bloggers that are in your region whose audience might be interested in your business. See if you can arrange to do a guest post for them or get them to sample your products or services in exchange for a review on their blog.
  • General Local Resource Pages – Search for local business resources that may not have come up in your local directories search and find out if you can get your site listed.
  • Competitor Backlinks – Using tools like Moz Link Explorer, find out what backlinks your local competitors’ websites have to see if you can get yourself listed on them as well.
  • Local Events – Be on the lookout for events in your area such as industry conferences, expos or shows. Check the event’s website to see if they link to their exhibitors and sponsors. If they do, invest as an exhibitor or sponsor of the event to get your link on their site as well.
  • Local Charities – Give back to your community by sponsoring and donating to local charities. Many will have websites that thank their local sponsors and donors, linking back to the sponsors’ and donors’ websites.

Now that we’ve covered most of the local search marketing bases, let’s take a look at some local social marketing strategies.

Local Marketing on Facebook

With 845 million monthly active users, you’re bound to find some of your target audience on Facebook. Here are some ways to make sure your business gets found by Facebook users in your area.

Optimizing Your Facebook Page for Local

The best way to optimize your Facebook page for a local audience is to make sure it is set up as a Local Business. If you haven’t created your Facebook page, make sure to create your page as a Local Business.

If you have already created it, you may be able to change the category, depending on your number of fans. To check to see what category your page is listed as, go to Admin Panel > Manage > Edit Page and then Basic Information. Here, you will see a category and sub-category for your business.

Once your Facebook page is set up as a local business, be sure to enter all of your local details including your street address, local phone number and business hours. If you don’t want to list your exact street address, you can just enter the city, state and zip code to give users an approximation of your location.

One thing to mention in regards to the new Facebook pages design is the About information for your business. It will generally show your business category, location, phone number and business hours.

You can make the area show your website by removing your phone number and business hours from your page’s details. You just have to decide which is more important for your visitors – seeing your phone number on your Facebook page or having the ability to click through to your website. If you do want your local business information to stay intact, you can also add a status update with a link to your Facebook page, then pin the status update to the top of the page so it shows in the top left column.

Connecting with a Local Audience on Facebook

Once your Facebook page is locally optimized, you will want to get your page in front of a local audience. Here are some simple ways to do this:

  • Invite Your Friends – Go to the Admin Panel > Build Audience area and use the Invite Email Contacts option to invite your email contacts to become a fan of your business page. Then use the Invite Friends option to invite friends on your personal profile to become a fan as well. Be sure to invite contacts in your region to get the most targeted audience for your page.
  • Become a Fan of Local Business Pages – Again, you will want to avoid competitors, but become a fan of related local business pages by using Facebook as your page and liking the page. Once you become a fan, you will be able to interact with the local business page through commenting on its updates. Your comments will show up as authored by your page. This will get your business exposure to your target audience and will hopefully lead to new local fans of your page.
  • Target Status Updates by Location – Send status updates only to people in specific locations by changing the dropdown for your status update from Public to targeted by Location/Language. There, you can specify an audience within a particular country, state, and/or city.
  • Use Facebook Ads – Facebook Ads are a relatively inexpensive way to target Facebook members in your region. Select your Facebook page as the Destination for your ad, and then use the local targeting option to show the ad to people only in a specified country, state, province, city, or zip code.

Local Marketing on Twitter

While Twitter may not have as large of an audience, it does have 100 million active users. It is also much easier to gain followers since you can interact with people without them even following you. Here are some ways to make sure your business gets found by Twitter users in your area.

Optimizing Your Twitter Profile for Local

With Twitter profiles, you don’t have to worry about properly categorizing them from the start to make them local-friendly. All you have to do is a few minor edits to your Twitter profile. Be sure to include a specific location in your Twitter information as well as a local keyword phrase in your Twitter bio.

This will help anyone searching specifically for local businesses on Twitter to find yours easily.

Connecting with a Local Audience on Twitter

As previously mentioned, remember that on Twitter you can interact with anyone, regardless of whether that person is following you by simply mentioning his or her @username in a status update. Here’s how you can grow a local audience on Twitter:

  • Check out Followers for Local Businesses – Look for local businesses on Twitter in your industry (including competitors) and take a peek at their followers. Chances are, they might be interested in your business as well.
  • Follow Local Discussions – Use Twitter Advanced Search to monitor conversations based on specified keywords from users near a particular place, which can be specified by name or zip code.
  • Try Twitter Maps App on Bing – Bing offers several apps to enhance the functionality of their maps, including a Twitter app. To access this app, go to explore map apps and select Twitter Maps. Zoom into your location on the map and see tweets that were sent in your region.

Once you find some people that fit your targeted, local demographic, be sure to follow them on Twitter. Don’t just click the “follow” button though. Be sure to actually follow their updates and interact with them. The second part is key if you expect to get any local followers to your Twitter profile in return.

Local Marketing on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the top social network for professionals; therefore, it’s the perfect network for business professionals. Below are suggestions on how you can grow a local audience on LinkedIn.

Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile for Local

To ensure that your profile comes up for anyone searching for professionals in your area, make sure you have entered your correct location in your profile’s basic information settings. Then, for keyword optimization, include your location in your profile’s headline. Also be sure to list locations in your current and past job experiences.

Connecting with a Local Audience on LinkedIn

LinkedIn only wants you to connect with people in real life as opposed to networks like Twitter, where you are encouraged to follow anyone you are simply interested in. To get more local connections on LinkedIn, be sure to do the following:

  • Invite Email Connections – The best way to start building your LinkedIn connections is by importing your email connections into LinkedIn. LinkedIn will then allow you to invite anyone who is on LinkedIn to your network.
  • Connect with Colleagues & Alumni – After you have connected with everyone in your address book, you can then connect with current and past colleagues as well as alumni from the college you attended.
  • Open Networkers Groups – LinkedIn Open Networkers (LIONs) are people who want to connect openly with as many people as possible on LinkedIn. Search for open networkers in LinkedIn groups, join a few LION groups, and then start perusing the members’ list. You will be able to use the group through “how you know the person” on the LinkedIn connect form. Then just include a private message explaining why you want to connect with him or her, e.g., you are trying to make more local connections on LinkedIn.
  • Local Networking Groups – When searching groups, be sure to also search for local networking groups. After you have spent some time engaging with the local groups, you can start connecting with other members.
  • Email Your Local Contacts – Remember that LinkedIn contacts are not meant to be spammed. That said, you can go to your connections and filter them by location. Then you can select people in a specific location to email, one or more at a time. You should probably email everyone individually and in a personalized manner, if possible. If not, this could be a good way to get an important message to lots of local contacts simultaneously.

Local Marketing on Foursquare

Last but not least on the social circuit is Foursquare, the ultimate social network for local businesses. If you have a location that you want to share with the public, you will definitely want to add or claim your business on Foursquare.

Optimizing Your Foursquare Profile for Local

Foursquare business pages are as locally optimized as they get, so nothing to worry about there. Just be sure to take advantage of adding extra details about your business, including your other social profile links and a link to your website.

Connecting with a Local Audience on Foursquare

The best thing you can do on Foursquare is encourage people to check in to your business. One of the top ways of doing this is by offering incentives such as discounts or coupons for people who check in often at your business. You can offer perks by creating specials for newbies, friends, swarms (when lots of people check in during the same time period), loyalty and mayors (the person who checks in the most at your location).

The reasons check-ins are so powerful is that, most of the time, users will not only check in on Foursquare but also share their check-in with their Twitter and/or Facebook audience. This is great word-of-mouth marketing as people are more likely to go places their friends have been to or recommended.

Promote check-ins at your business location by putting a Foursquare window cling on your business’s window to remind people to check in. Also, be sure to advertise your Foursquare presence and specials on your website so people will know they are getting a great deal when they check in on arrival.

More Local Social Media Optimization Tips

The following are general tips that suit almost any network that wants to make sure its social media presence is locally optimized and that is ready to build an even larger local audience.

  • Include Social Links in Your Emails – Anytime you send out emails, whether they are special emails to your general mailing list or just regular emails to your contacts, be sure that your email signature includes a link to your top social profiles.
  • Include Social Buttons on Your Website – Add social media buttons or badges to your website so that visitors are able to connect to your business easily. You can add them in the header, sidebar or footer of your website.
  • Add Social Mentions to Printed Materials and Advertisements – Do you have brochures, business cards or advertisements in local magazines or newspapers? Be sure to add a simple “Follow us on Twitter” or “Find us on Facebook” to these items (and direct links if possible).
  • Stay Active – Staying active on your social networks will help greatly in encouraging engagement with your current audience.
  • Encourage Sharing – If you create content on your website in the form of articles, newsletters or blog posts, be sure to encourage your audience to share them socially. This should help lead new traffic to your website and connections to your social profiles.

Looking at Local Analytics

To make sure that your local marketing strategies are getting local results, check out the following analytics.

Google Analytics

When reviewing traffic to your website, look at your Google Analytics’ Audience Demographics data.

Here, you will be able to see if local visitors stay on your site longer than other visitors by analyzing time on site, bounce rate and pages per visit. If you have set up goals on your website, such as a person making a purchase or signing up for your mailing list, you can see if people in particular regions are completing these goals more often than others. Through analyzing the data, you might find additional regions that you will want to target your local marketing efforts towards.

Facebook Insights

Want to see if you are getting likes from the right audience? Check out your Facebook page’s Insights to see demographics information for your page’s likes, reach, and people talking about your page content.

If you notice that you are getting more likes outside of your targeted location, you will need to figure out better ways to encourage audience growth in your desired region such as creating more location-specific content or specials on your Facebook page.

Conclusion

If you follow the steps I mentioned above, you should start seeing an increase in foot traffic to your business. The thing to keep in mind when doing local search and social optimization is that it takes time to see the results. Don’t expect miracles in the first 30 or even 60 days. It will take months, if not a year, before it really kicks in.

What other local search and social optimization tactics do you use?

How to Rank on the First Page of Google Through Videos

video

Don’t you wish there was a way to land on the first page of search results that didn’t involve the back-breaking work of traditional SEO?

Well, ever since Google started giving more and more attention to its blended results, you have had an incredible opportunity to jump to the first page of results by creating video content.

Studies have shown that videos were over 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results as part of the blended results.

The bad news is that this pushes down web pages. The good news is if you take advantage of what videos give you in appearing on the first page, then you can get a distinct leg up on your competition.

But you have to do more than just create, edit and upload. There are some very specific steps involved.  [click to continue…]

How to Get Bloggers to Reply to Your Comments

reply to comments

Want to know the secret to getting big-time bloggers to reply to comments you leave on their blogs? I’m talking about people like Brian Clark, Ramit Sethi and Danny Sullivan.

“No way!” you say. “Those guys are too busy! They’ll never respond to me.”

Anyway, why should you really care?

Well, getting someone to respond to a comment you left on her blog is a direct line to getting her attention…

And getting her attention is one step closer to becoming popular online.

And becoming popular means you are driving more traffic to your site, converting more of those visitors into subscribers and ultimately building a loyal following who will buy your products.

Over the years, I have both experimented with strategies and learned methods from others like Nicholas Tart at Income Diary to get the attention of bloggers. Now, I want to share those strategies with you.  [click to continue…]

The Marketer’s Guide to the New Facebook Pages

The new Facebook Pages design is here. For anyone in the Facebook marketing world, this means a lot of major changes. If you took advantage of the features of the timeline design for personal profiles, then the pages will feel similar to you. This guide will help you find out what you might like or hate about Facebook’s latest updates to pages and how your brand or business can adapt to them.

What Is New About the Facebook Pages Design?

Before we dig deep into the details, let’s take a look at some of the major changes to the Facebook Pages design.

Here, you can see some of the major cosmetic changes including the following:

  • The Timeline Cover Photo – This is probably the biggest and most beautiful of the new features. Depending on your industry, it could be either the perfect portfolio for you or your worst marketing nightmare.
  • Your About Info – The About info for your company moves from a tiny box on the sidebar to one of the first areas people see after they take in your cover photo. Although Facebook doesn’t need to do it, this is the perfect place for you to put a link to your website so you can get a higher click-through rate.
  • Apps – After the box for your photos (which is not moveable), there are three prime spaces for your apps, assuming you don’t want to keep your number of likes on the top row. There are twelve boxes in total – ten for apps.

Next, you can see the two columns for updates. How this will affect conversions still remains to be seen, but you can assume that having a major update next to one that isn’t that important will take away some of the focus from the major update. While you can highlight important updates (which I will discuss later), the highlighting can leave your page’s wall looking unbalanced and somewhat empty if a less important status update is left in a single column.

It’s All About the Cover Photo

The biggest piece of branding on the new Facebook Pages design is the timeline cover photo. Here are the things you need to know:

  • Size – The optimal size for your Facebook Page’s cover photo is 851 x 315 pixels. While Facebook says it can be as small as 399 pixels wide, you should go with the full resolution size so you get the best image quality.
  • Rules – There are lots of rules when it comes to the cover photo. The first warning that pops up about cover photos when you go to upload yours for the first time is that they cannot be advertisements, promotions or coupons. When you go to the read more page, you will see additional restrictions including no price or purchase information, no contact information that should be in your About section, no references to Facebook features such as Like or Share, and no calls to action.
  • Ideas – Once you get past all of the rules, you have to start getting creative. Some ideas for a cover photo include a great photo of your latest product, an image of your services, a photo of your company’s employees, or an extension of your logo. Be sure to check out the new Facebook Pages in the upcoming inspiration section.

Status Updates

If you’ve grown accustomed to posting status updates on your personal timeline profile, then the Status Update box on the new Facebook Page shouldn’t be much of a change.

  • To post a link to your wall, simply paste the link in the Status update box, and it will automatically pull up the link preview.
  • If you want to post a video from YouTube, paste the link to it in the Status update box, and it will automatically pull up the video.
  • To post photos or video, click the Photo option and upload a photo or video from your computer. You can also use your webcam to take a photo or create a photo album.
  • To ask an open-ended or poll question, click on the Ask Question option.
  • To post a milestone (such as expanding offices to a new location), click on the Milestone option.
  • Don’t forget to use the targeting option to put specific updates in front of the right demographic of your fan base.

Once you’ve posted an update, you also have additional options.

  • Pinning – Want a particular status update to stay at the top? Hover over your update, click on the Pencil icon and then click Pin to Top. This will keep the update pinned to the top of your wall until you choose to unpin it or pin another update.
  • Highlighting – Bring extra attention to important status updates by hovering over your update and clicking on the Star icon. This will stretch that update across both columns on your page’s wall.
  • Changing the Date – Did you forget to add your latest blog post from Friday onto your wall as an update and realize it after you added Monday’s blog post? Don’t worry. Just add Friday’s blog post on your wall, hover over the update, click on the Pencil icon, and then click Change Date.

Noticeably Missing Features

Although there are a lot of great changes, there are also a ton of things that are missing such as:

Missing – Wall Activity from Everyone

Maybe it is just a pre-launch issue, but one thing that is noticeably missing from the new Facebook Pages is activity by anyone who isn’t your friend. You can compare the above screenshot while I am logged in to my account, which shows the number of friends of mine that have liked my Facebook Page plus a friend’s recent tag vs. the screenshot below, where I’m logged into a dummy account that has no friends.

You can still see likes, comments and shares on wall posts from people you are not friends with. You just cannot see direct posts on a page’s wall or tags of a page from people you are not friends with. This means that you could go to a business page that has hundreds of rave reviews from others, but if none of those people are your friends, you would not see them. It is ultimately determined by the privacy settings of the people who post on pages. Visit Facebook’s help center to learn more about privacy for people who like pages.

Gone – Default Landing Tab

Say goodbye to having people who are not yet fans getting directed to your fan gate or welcome tab. While you can use the direct URL of an application to direct people to a specific tab, anyone who clicks on the main link to your Facebook page (such as the one from the Like button or box on your website) will be taken to your main Timeline. This has made some marketers upset as they were able to successfully convert fans or even get sales from a default landing tab, but sadly it is confirmed by Facebook to be gone.

Missing – Place Recommendations

Another (hopefully) pre-launch issue is the missing recommendations for local business pages/place pages. If you haven’t converted your local business page to the new Facebook Page design, I would suggest copying your recommendations and who they were from before you do. Maybe grab a screenshot or two as well. No one is 100% sure if this will get re-incorporated into the new Facebook Pages or not. You can voice your opinion in the Facebook developer’s bug report for recommendations in timeline for pages.

Facebook Apps & Custom Content

Once you get past the loss of default landing tabs, next you will likely notice additional changes to the way your Facebook apps and custom tabs are displayed.

  • Number of Apps & Custom Tabs – As I mentioned earlier, you can use up to 10 apps and content tabs on your Facebook Page. While there are twelve boxes, one is reserved for your photos, and another is reserved for your page’s number of likes.
  • Prioritization – While the photos box will always stay in the first position, you have the option to put your apps and content tabs in the next three spaces. This way, you can display your most important apps and custom content tabs without having to hope that a visitor knows to click on the down arrow. Click on the down arrow next to your row of apps, hover over a tab and click on the Pencil icon. Then use the “Swap Position With” option to move your boxes around in the order you would like them to be displayed.
  • Custom Name & Icons – For any box other than Photos and Likes, you can change the tab name and image. To do so, click on the down arrow next to your row of apps, hover over a box and click on the Pencil icon. Select Edit Settings. Here, you can enter a different name for your tab or click on the Change link to change the tab image. Images should be 111 x 74 pixels. Use larger images with the same proportion so they will scale down to fit inside the box. Images smaller than 111 x 74 pixels will not fill the entire space.
  • Content Size – Custom content and apps now have a width of 810 pixels to work with. Any of your current apps or custom content should be centered within this space until they are changed by you or your application provider to fit the new layout.
  • Direct URL – The only alternative to a default landing tab is directly linking to the tab you want your fan page visitors to go to. Click on the tab you want your visitors to see first when they come to your page and copy the URL from your browser’s address bar as shown below. Then use this URL when you link to your fan page within your website content, email signature and other locations.

Messages – The Good, Bad and Ugly

One other major new feature that visitors to your Facebook Page can take part in is private messages.

  • Keeping Bad Comments Off Your Wall – One perk to having the private messaging option on your page is that it has the potential to steer angry customers or fans from writing on your wall to writing to you in private. This way, you can handle a situation without it becoming an ugly (and possibly viral) mess for your brand.
  • Keeping Good Comments Off Your Wall – A downside to having the private messaging option on your page is that people who might otherwise leave a good comment on your wall praising your brand might send the compliment privately instead. While you could politely ask if they could share their comment publicly (or mind if you share their comment publicly), it would just be easier if they had left it on your wall in the first place.
  • Losing Wall Engagement – The other downside to messages is they might take away public engagement with your wall. Instead of commenting on one of your posts, the reader may message you privately instead.
  • Turning Off Messages – After considering the pros and cons of the private messaging system, if you choose to turn off private messaging for your page, you can. Facebook certainly did. Simply go to your Admin Panel, then click on Manage and Edit Page. On the Manage Permissions screen, you will see a checkbox for Show “Message” Button on your page. Simply uncheck that to turn off the private messages option.

The New Admin Panel

The new Admin Panel for your Facebook Pages gives you the most important information about your page at a quick glance.

The following are some of the features you will definitely want to check out:

  • Notifications – Of course, notifications are not new. But when you click the See All link, you will find an RSS feed for your page notifications. This comes in handy if you manage a lot of pages but don’t want to go to them individually to check your notifications. Now you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed for all of your pages’ notifications to see them all in your RSS reader.
  • New Likes – Click on the See All link under New Likes to see the latest people who have liked your page. Use the dropdown menu to see other Facebook Pages that have liked your page.
  • Messages – If you leave the private messaging feature turned on on your page, this is where you can see incoming messages. Click See All to view them all, or click on the name of the sender to see the full message and reply.

Next, you’ll want to check out your dropdown menu options, starting with Manage.

  • Manage > Edit Page – Under the Manage menu, you will find the Edit Page section. One of the most important screens you will want to visit when you convert to the new design is Manage Permissions, as shown above. Here you can customize the posting ability of fans on your page, post visibility, tagging ability, private messages option and other settings. The rest of the information is the same as in your page’s previous Admin Panel.
  • Manage > Use Activity Log – If you have used the Activity Log for your personal timeline profile, you’ll see that this one is similar. Scroll through your activity log to see posts by your page and by your fans. Click on the icons to the right of each update to change the settings for each post to Highlighted on Page, Allowed on Page, Hidden from Page, Delete Post, Change Date, or Report/Mark as Spam.
  • Manage > See Banned Users – If you have ever banned a user from your page, you can see a list of those users here. You can also choose to un-ban users if your issues with them have been resolved.

The other important menu item that will help you get more Facebook fans to your page is Build Audience. Here is what you will find under it.

  • Build Audience > Invite Email Contacts – Have a huge email list? Take advantage of it by importing your contacts (up to 5,000) and inviting those email contacts to become a fan of your page.
  • Build Audience > Invite Friends – Page Admins can invite their friends to become a fan of their page. After you suggest your page to a friend, that friend will see a notification on his or her profile to check out your page. This is a great way to build your fan base. Be sure to take advantage of it before Facebook decides to remove it again.
  • Build Audience > Share Page – This is just a quick way to post an update with a link to your page on your personal profile.
  • Build Audience > Create an Ad – If you want to expand your page’s exposure on Facebook, try Facebook Ads. They will allow you to show your page to a target audience defined by location, demographics and even interests.

New Facebook Insights Data

Want to learn more about your Facebook Page’s fans and activity? You can do so with Facebook Insights. To get to your Insights, click on your Admin Panel and See All next to the Insights portion. There, you will find some exciting information about your Facebook Page.

Overview

The first screen in your Insights panel is the Overview, where you can see the following details:

  • Total Likes – The number of people who like your page. Unfortunately this number does not include other Facebook Pages that like your page.
  • Friends of Fans – The number of people who are friends with people who like your page. It seems this number should also include subscribers of people who like your page. Although it doesn’t, that would be a great addition.
  • People Talking About This – The number of people who have created a story about your page including posting to your wall, interacting with a status update (likes, comments, and shares), answering a question, responding to an event, mentioning your page in a status update, tagging your page, or checking in at your place.
  • Weekly Total Reach – The number of people who have seen any content from your page for the last seven days.
  • Posts – The purple bubble on the graph represents the number of posts your page has published on a given day.

Beneath the graph, you can see engagement information about your individual posts on your page. Columns are sortable by date, post snippet, and the following pieces of data:

  • All Post Types – The default view for this section will show you all of your latest posts. Click on this dropdown menu to see posts with photos, links, videos or questions.
  • Post – The post column shows the beginning snippet of your post. Click on it to see a full preview.
  • Reach – The number of people who have seen the post within the first 28 days after it was published on your wall. Click on the number to see the graphical breakdown of organic, paid and viral views.
  • Engaged Users – The number of people who have clicked on the post within the first 28 days after it was published. Click on the number to see the number of times your post generated clicks and engagement from users including likes, comments and shares.
  • Virality – The percentage of people who have created a story from your page post (shares) out of the total number of people who have seen it.

Likes

The Likes section shows you a demographic breakdown of people who have liked your page including their ages, genders, countries, cities and languages.

Beneath the demographics is a section that tells you where your page’s likes have come from.

This is a great way to see what converts visitors into fans.

  • On Page – Likes generated from your Facebook Page itself.
  • Like Box and Like Button – Likes generated from the Like Box and Like Button social plugins on external websites.
  • Admin Invite – Likes generated from the use of suggesting a page to a friend from the Admin Panel > Build Audience > Invite Friends.
  • Timeline – Likes generated from people clicking on your page in a person’s personal Timeline profile Likes section.
  • Mobile – Likes generated from people on mobile devices.
  • Search Results – Likes generated from people who used Facebook’s search box.
  • Page Like Another Page – Likes generated from other pages that like your page.
  • Facebook Recommendations – Likes generated from a Recommended Pages unit in the right-hand column on Facebook.
  • On Hover – Likes generated from the pop-up window shown when someone hovers over a link leading to your page anywhere on Facebook.
  • Ticker – Likes generated from mentions of your page in the news ticker.
  • Friend Referrals – Likes generated from a story about someone liking your page.

You can also see the number of unlikes you have on a given day. If you see a big spike in unlikes on a particular day, you should see if you posted something that day and avoid similar updates.

Reach

The Reach section shows you demographics of the people you have reached through your page’s content, posts and stories by others. Scroll down to the bottom of this section to see two important pieces of information:

  • Total Tab Views – The number of times each tab is viewed on your Facebook page, including the main timeline itself.
  • External Referrers – The number of referral visits from sites other than Facebook, including any site on which you have included a link to your Facebook Page.

Talking About This

The Talking About This section shows you demographics of the people who have created stories around your Facebook Page. Beneath the demographics data are the graphs showing how people are engaging with your page including page likes, stories from your posts, mentions and photos tags, and posts by others.

Export Data

Want to see the raw data? You can export your page and post level data to Excel (.xls) and comma-separated text format (.csv).

This can be helpful since most of the Insights screens will only allow you to go 89 days back. The export will include any data after July 2011.

Facebook Insights for All

While access to detailed insights is limited to page administrators, you can now see some basic insights about any page by visiting the page and clicking on its number of likes.

Here, you can see the number of people talking about a particular page this week, the number of total likes, the most popular week for that page, the top location engaging with the page, the age group of the most engaged fans, and a graph of their latest engagement activity.

This is a great way to do some competitor research.

  • You can target your competitor’s most popular city and age group in Facebook ads to generate new likes for your page.
  • You can scroll through your competitors’ timelines to see what they did to make their pages popular on the most popular week.
  • You can see if your competitor’s latest Facebook marketing strategy is increasing or decreasing their page’s engagement and choose to either model yours after theirs or not.

Your New Facebook Pages To-Do List

So, now that you’ve read through this guide, you might be wondering what you should do first. Here’s a simple list of things you need to do to prepare your business page for the new design and functionality. Otherwise, your page could end up looking like this.

  • Take Advantage of the Preview Option – You don’t have to convert your page over until March 30th, 2012. But you can prepare your page to be converted to the new design by clicking on the preview button to see what it will look like and prepare accordingly.
  • Get a Great Cover Photo – If you have to, hire a photographer to take pictures of your employees, your building, your products, etc. But get a good cover photo. Your page will look abandoned without it.
  • Update Your About Information – You can have up to 165 characters in your page’s About field including a link to your website. Use it wisely as it will be front and center and could lead to additional clicks to your website.
  • See What Your Updates Look Like – Scroll through your timeline to see your page’s wall posts and status updates. Make sure that you have a good number of updates from the past few months as a minimum. Use the highlighting option by clicking the Star icon on important updates to make them stand out.
  • Break Up Third Party Updates – If you used a third-party platform to update your page, you might find that some of your updates are clumped together. Click on the Pencil icon above a group of updates and View Individual Stories. This will take you to those updates in your Activity Log. Click on the Circle icon next to each update and change it to Highlighted on Page. Then go back to your page and click the Star icon to un-highlight them. This should turn them into individual stories on your page’s timeline.
  • Backdate Updates to Fill in Timeline – If you don’t have a lot of updates, post some and then click on the Pencil icon on the update and change the date. Use this to fill in your recent timeline to show some activity.
  • Check Your Page’s Basic Information – Click on the About link on your page and take a look at your page’s basic information (contact information, description, etc.). Add additional information if necessary to fill this area out.
  • Check Your Custom Content & Apps – Click on each of your Facebook apps and custom content tabs to see what changes need to be made. Contact your designer or application creator to see when they can fit your apps and content to the new Facebook Pages layout size.

On-Going New Facebook Pages Maintenance Plan

Once you have taken care of the basic housecleaning, you will need to do the following to keep your new Facebook Page’s timeline full of activity!

  • Post a Variety of Updates – Keeping your Facebook Page up-to-date is now more important than ever. Be sure to post a variety of updates including simple status updates, questions, photos and videos to engage fans and keep your timeline looking healthy.
  • Use Pins and Highlights – Take advantage of the pinning feature to keep important wall posts up at the top and the highlighting feature to stretch important content across both columns for maximum impact.
  • Check Notifications & Respond to Messages – Keep an eye on any activity happening on your page and be sure to reply when needed. Especially keep tabs on your messages – you might be able to prevent an angry message from going private to public by responding quickly.
  • Do Some Testing – Try new things. If you feel like your number of likes is not increasing at a good rate, try a new cover photo or Facebook ad. If people don’t seem to be responding to links on your wall, try photos or videos instead. Move your tabs around to see if you get more traffic on a welcome tab over a Twitter tab.
  • Keep an Eye on Insights – Check up on your Facebook Insights regularly. This could be the key to finding out which page posts get the most response, what sources are leading to likes on your page, and other crucial information about your page’s engagement.

Inspiration from Brand Facebook Pages

Need some inspiration for your page? Take a look at these brands using the new design successfully to give you some ideas on cover photos, custom tabs, about information and more.

  • The Today Show – America’s #1 morning show puts its main stars on the cover and pins its latest show content on its timeline asking viewers what they thought of the story.
  • SportsCenter – SportsCenter shows an inside look at taping the show in its cover photo and highlights the latest sports news in its timeline.
  • People.com – The top celebrity magazine puts the most popular celebrity photos on its timeline and uses its latest magazine cover as its profile photo.
  • Tide – This detergent brand showcases its latest product in its cover photo as well as in its custom tabs.
  • Herbal Essences – Herbal Essences displays its latest line of products in its cover photo and highlights 40 years in the business, video reviews, and current promotions in its custom tabs.
  • Macy’s – Macy’s prides itself in being the world’s largest store in its cover photo and lets visitors know it has been around for 150 years in its About info. Plus, it pins news about its latest sales on its timeline.
  • Livestrong – Livestrong pins the milestone of the date it was founded and uses its cover photo as an extension of its well-recognized logo.
  • Chevy Sonic – Chevy showcases a creative cover photo of its newest model and uses custom tabs that make it look like the coolest car ever.
  • Kia Soul – One of the most memorable parts of every Kia Soul commercial is the hamsters, and its Facebook Page highlights them in its cover photo, profile photo and latest updates.
  • Ford – Ford uses its custom tabs to showcase an app with its top product pages. It also highlights news about its upcoming Google+ Hangout on its timeline.
  • American Express – American Express puts a creative spin on its “Member Since” tag on its cover photo, and its custom tabs feature the latest Amex promotions.
  • SEOmoz – SEOmoz uses abstract artwork for its main cover photo and highlights its mascot Roger in its profile photo.
  • Mashable – Mashable updates its cover photo with the latest news on its site, which is currently (at the time of posting) the iPad 3. They also make sure that everyone knows about their other pages by displaying them to be liked.
  • Zena Caffè – This restaurant puts a delectable dish as its cover photo, enticing visitors to want to stop in and have a meal.
  • Canlis – This restaurant shows its lovely location as its cover photo and puts videos and reservations in the custom tabs.

Official Resources

Need to know more? The following are additional resources from Facebook itself.

  • Introducing New Facebook Pages – This is Facebook’s introduction to the new Facebook Pages design and main features. You can also see the latest big brands that have converted their pages.
  • Facebook Pages Common Questions – This covers common questions asked about the new features and managing your new page.
  • Learn About Facebook Pages – This is the video guide/course for the new Facebook Pages design. It includes information on how to connect with people, customize your page, control your content and manage your page.
  • Facebook Pages – This is the beginner’s starting point for basic Facebook Page information. Most of this information has been updated for the new design.
  • Facebook Pages Product Guide – This 8-page guide walks you through the new Facebook Page features and includes a checklist of what you need to do to prepare.
  • Best Practice Guide – Marketing on Facebook – This 14-page guide covers best marketing practices and includes a list of helpful Facebook resources.
  • Building Your Business with Facebook Pages – Although it’s not quite updated to reflect the new design, it contains some helpful Facebook engagement tips throughout and editorial calendar samples on pages 12-14.

Conclusion

As you can see, while there are some major drawbacks to the new Facebook Pages design, there are also many new advantages. There is no sense in protesting the changes as they are going to happen whether you want them or not, so you might as well go with the flow and adapt to Facebook’s new design. Take the next few weeks to make it work for your business!

So, what do you think about the new Facebook Pages?

P.S. If you want help growing your business click here.