WordPress SEO meetup, Phnom Penh

Be Chantra, the indefatigable social networking master, is putting together a WordPress SEO meetup. Connect with him on Facebook or LinkedIn if you are interested in speaking. K4 Media will definitely be attending and taking notes. In the meantime, here’s 5 links to help get your SEO mind ready.

The definitive guide to higher rankings for WordPress sites

If you are using WordPress and concerned with SEO, you are likely using Joost de Valk‘s industry leading plugin Yoast SEO. Like the headline says, this is the “definitive guide.” It’s long. But it covers the fundamentals of SEO, and anyone hoping to wade deeper into the SEO ocean should be comfortable with the ideas here.

WordPress SEO

This Siteground tutorial is basically a light version of the above definitive guide. It’s short and identifies key areas of the WordPress page to target for better SEO, but doesn’t go into great detail.

Beginner WordPress SEO (Part 1): How to Optimize Your Blog Posts

A do-it-yourself guide to SEO. As the article promises: if you focus on these 7 key areas of on-page SEO, you can improve your search engine rankings.

10 WordPress SEO Questions That Took Me 10 Years To Answer!

Trond Lyngbø, a columnist at Search Engine Land, touches on some frequent questions surrounding WordPress and SEO. These questions are not aimed at beginners, and the answers are often a bit technical in nature (ex, Can It Hurt My SEO If I’m Not Using The User’s Native Language? Will Adding A Post To Many WordPress Categories Be Good For My SEO? How Can I Improve My SEO With WordPress Widgets?). But there are worthwhile ideas here that even experienced SEO hands have probably not thought about in a while.

5 crazy SEO mistakes not to make in WordPress

These 5 tips are also a bit technical in nature and presume at least an intermediate level of SEO understanding. But such is the way of the SEO warrior. If you plan on reaching the advanced levels, there is no getting around the technology.

A Google search returns literally millions of articles expounding on the often shadowy world of SEO. You can never know it all. To further complicate matters, SEO techniques are constantly in flux, ebbing and flowing to the algorithms of Google and other search engines. Paid professionals can help, but so can rolling up your sleeves and doing the messy work.

That said, however, remember that SEO is marketing. And before going gung-ho with SEO, I strongly, strongly suggest evaluating the effectiveness of your current marketing strategy.

You have one, right?

Because SEO is not a replacement for a real marketing strategy. And skipping this step will likely end with tears and lots of lost dollars. Caveat emptor.

SEO in 1 minute

Read Jill Whalen. Religiously. Her newsletter is among the very best resources on search engine optimization available anywhere. Her posts are far too complete to try and summarize, but here is a taste from her latest newsletter:

I recently did a site audit for a client who was wondering why they were having a hard time showing up in Google. … They have a fairly small local company that sells some common but specific types of office furniture. While they have a niche for the type of furniture they sell, for the most part it’s nothing that you can’t buy at most of the large office-supply stores such as Office Depot and Staples.

So how do you compete SEO-wise with the $1 million budgets of Office Depot and Staples. It’s not impossible. But it’s not easy, either. Or fast. Read the whole post.

Fighting spam

Everyone hates spam. So why are more and more local companies adopting this awful marketing technique? Ignorance, I suppose. But there are ways to fight back.

During a recent project, I stumbled across a dead-handy WordPress plugin that does exactly what its name suggests — obfuscates your email address.

Type your email address —  no-one@nowhere.com, for example — into any WordPress page, and the plugin will render the html as moc.erehwon@eno-on.

Spam-bots get nothing.

For more on the subject, check out A List Apart’s essay on Graceful Obfuscation.

Android stumbles out of starting gate

In the face of stellar iPhone and iPad sales, Android, the rival platform from Google, is struggling. The latest news is that a gaping security hole leaves nearly all Android users open to attack.

Researchers in Germany have found that most Android phones contain a dangerous security hole that, if exploited, would allow someone to access your accounts for certain Google services.

Elsewhere recently, Nvidia chief Jen-Hsun Huang has called out Google for its less-than-stellar tablet sales.

“It’s a point of sales problem. It’s an expertise at retail problem. It’s a marketing problem to consumers. It is a price point problem,” he said, for starters.

Though Huang didn’t mention the $499 starting price for the iPad, it was clear that this was a reference point. “The baseline configuration included 3G when it shouldn’t have,” he said. “Tablets should have a Wi-Fi configuration and be more affordable. And those are the ones that were selling more rapidly than the 3G and fully configured ones,” he said.

He didn’t stop there. “And it’s a software richness of content problem,” he added, echoing Jha’s comments.

Facebook fan page updates

Facebook updated the design and features of its Facebook Pages last week. For business owners, the upgrade will make it easier to market your business pages. Among other things, you can now “be the page,” which allows you to use Facebook with your business identity, instead of your personal one.

In the top-right navigation, under Account, you will now find a “Use Facebook as Page” option, which lets you switch identities.

For other insights: The Social Path gives a nifty to-do list to take advantage of the new setup. Simply Zesty highlights the best new features. And Econsultancy offers a marketers take on the upgrade.

Facebook, Twitter and you

Digital Surgeons has a tidy little chart comparing the two heavy hitters on the social media circuit. While it’s not immediately clear how useful — or accurate — the information is, the info-graphic provides a fast overview of the two sites’ user bases.

Some highlights:

  • Facebook has 500 million users (70% outside the U.S.)
  • Twitter  has 106 million (60% outside the U.S.)
  • Both sites attract more women than men
  • 40% of Facebook users follow a brand
  • Of that 40%, 67% plan to purchase that specific brand

Such global trends are reflected here in Cambodia, too. The number of local Facebook users has skyrocketed over the past 6 months. Cambodia now claims nearly 200,000 Facebook users, up more than 300% since June.

Many of those new users are local businesses who are now making meaningful connections with new customers and strengthening relationships with old ones.

It’s dead simple to create a Facebook fan page.

Being memorable is a bit more challenging, but not impossible. (For starters: Mashable offers a quick intro to custom landing pages; Tech Crunch showcases 12 plugins that help; Hyper Arts provides an excellent tutorial for the keen do-it-yourselfer; and Custom Facebook Pages serves up a huge gallery for inspiration.)

Fan page promotion is not nearly as difficult as many people imagine, either. In fact, if there is a prevailing wisdom on how to best promote your Facebook page, the idea epitomizes the Renaissance Slacker ethos: Don’t try too hard.

Top 100 Web sites in Cambodia

I was just doing some research into a new project and stumbled across Alexa’s “by country” rankings. Alexa is one of the world’s top Web traffic monitoring firms, with a database of statistics on hundreds of thousands of Web sites. Their numbers aren’t perfect, of course. Alexa tracks search and traffic data only from its own community. But that community is mostly representative of the larger Web, and the Alexa numbers are invaluable not only for the insight they offer, but because this kind of traffic information is not publicly available anywhere else on the Web.

Alexa Top 100 Sites in Cambodia.

The promise of email marketing

In a blog post titled “Email Marketing: ‘I am not dead yet‘,” email marketing consultant Jeanne S. Jennings offers some fairly compelling reasons for getting serious about email marketing.

Each year, the Direct Marketing Association ranks marketing channels by the ROI generated. Email has lead their rankings for a number of years; in 2010 they project that email marketing will return an average of $42 for each dollar spent, down from more than $43 in 2009. Email is the leader by more than a nose; the #2 channel was Internet search advertising, which returned just under $22 per dollar spent in 2009.

Getting the right strategy in place, however, is not easy. Exact Target offers a 60-second quiz to help get you started.

Blogging and SEO

Every person I talk to wants to be top 10 in Google.

Ranking well, however, is just the means to an end. And the best SEO gurus will tell you that SERP rankings are a poor measure of success.

What Web site owners really want, or course, is more traffic, more leads, more customers and, let’s be honest, more payola.

But how do you get there?

Social media provides one of the easiest ways to kick start your online marketing. While there are literally thousands, if not millions, of sites and tools out there that fit the “social media” definition, there are only three that matter: blogging, Facebook and Twitter. (Tumblr, so sayeth The Times, may soon make it four.)

A blog is the closest thing to an online marketing panacea that the interwebs have to offer. A good blog guarantees your Web site has fresh content. (That alone is worth two gallons of Google juice.) Blog posts filter out through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, and posts can be effortlessly pushed out to blog trackers such as Technorati, Google Blog Search and IceRocket.

A blog guarantees your site gets an RSS feed. And a good blog improves your site’s chances of reaching people interested in knowing more about your offerings and your industry. A really good blog can establish you as an expert in your field, or define you and your organization as thought leaders. And a blog gives people who reach your Web site something worthwhile to view, instead of lamo stock images or worse, completely irrelevant content used simply to take up space.

With a little focus, keyword rich blog posts can also improve your visibility in the rankings.

All of that and more from a single, regularly updated blog. And there’s a whole cottage industry of site-makers out there developing tools to make it all one-click simple. Twitterfeed automatically publishes your blog posts to Facebook and Twitter. Ping-o-matic updates more than 20 search engines. That means blog once and hit Facebook, Twitter and dozens of other smaller players with a single click.

A recent blog post (what else?) from Marketing Sherpa titled “Blogs are Becoming the New Front Door for Prospects: Is Yours Open?” highlights the skyrocketing importance of the blog. Although the story is aimed at business-to-business marketers, the same concepts hold just as true, if not more so, for B2C sites.

In Marketing Sherpa’s research, many businesses reported that their blog page had overtaken their home page as their site’s No. 1 entry point. One company reported a 4x increase in traffic, a 3x-4x increase in the amount of time viewers spent on the site, a huge jump on Google rankings and a 70% increase in inbound leads.

Payola!

Getting social media right

Marketing Sherpa is a must-follow site for anyone involved in online marketing. Sherpa provides invaluable insight into current online marketing trends and solid research to support its conclusions. In a recent article, titled “Perceptions about Social Media are Changing,” Sherpa offers some priceless advice on corporate forays into the Facebook/Twitter scene.

The 17% of organizations who still believe social media marketing is basically free and should stay that way, are destined to get what they pay for.

Not surprisingly, those who have reached the strategic phase of social marketing maturity are far more likely to be producing measurable ROI or at least seeing signs of a return on their investment on the horizon.

On the other hand, marketers in the trial phase of social marketing maturity are more than four times as likely to not recognize the value this tactic has for organizations willing to invest appropriate time and resources.

Getting social media right takes time and planning. Jumping in haphazardly will only produce haphazard results, or none at all. Setting goals, and then devising a plan to achieve them, is the only way to go.

Your newsletter, blog, Facebook and Twitter pages should represent individual parts of a total marketing strategy. Each piece should work symbiotically with the others.

Readers who congregate on different media are often interested in different aspects of your company. Take the time to find out where their interests lie, and then cater to them.

Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have grown so rapidly because the personal interactions they provide are far more compelling than passive Web experiences offered elsewhere on the Internet. For companies, this offers an unprecedented opportunity to reach out to potential customers.

But attitudes on the Interent are far different than those encountered in traditional media, where audiences are largely passive. Talking at your readers, or trying to steer their conversations, will only drive them away. Once gone, they are unlikely to return.

Engage readers openly and honestly, and be part of their conversations, not a television blaring annoyingly in the background.