When was the last time you thought about making changes to your business page or assessing how your company interacts with its community on Facebook? If your business has been doing things the same way for a while on your social media pages and isn’t getting the expected results, it may be time to make some changes. Here are 5 ways to upgrade your Facebook page experience for your visitors.


         Start with an objective assessment of a visitor’s experience on your page – Businesses often set up social media pages (and websites) from an internal point of view without considering the experience of first time and repeat visitors. Taking a look at your Facebook page from the viewpoint of your target market may provide insights on whether your business is delivering the experience visitors are seeking or conveying company messaging that misses the mark in the context of a social media environment.   

         Don’t be static – Businesses often set up their page on Facebook and then leave the same content in place for months or years. The problem that occurs in this situation is that when visitors start seeing the same thing on every visit, their motivation to come back starts to ebb. Instead, by staying current with content, such as an ongoing series of best practice tips for products, industry news and/or promotions, your Facebook page can give your audience plenty of reasons to keep returning.

         Go social versus commercial – Always remember that the key word in social media is “social”. The most successful companies on Facebook have a communal voice that seeks to engage their audience with 2-way communication as opposed to blasting out advertisements.

         Vary your forms of content – Support your written content with podcasts, images and video to change up the interface between your business and page visitors. Alternating mediums for your content will give your page a dynamic feel that can lead to longer stays by visitors. You can also increase engagement by posting contests and surveys.

         Keep your posts to a “Twitter-like” 140 characters – Even your most loyal visitors may be perusing your information in a brisk succession, so keep your posts short enough to convey the basics of the pertinent information within a few seconds. To add value to your short posts, provide a link to longer form content to enable access for those seeking additional information.


Your business’s Facebook page may be the preferred channel for members of your target market to interface with your company. By providing a positive on-page experience with dynamic, fresh and timely information, your business can grow its number of social media followers, increase social actions and ultimately drive more sales.


Building a large audience on social media platforms offers businesses numerous opportunities relating to communicating the company’s messaging, building credibility with an expanding target market, and improving rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). Much like the most effective search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns, building an audience takes time and effort, an issue that a growing number of businesses are trying to circumvent through the purchase of “Likes” on Facebook and “Followers” on Twitter.    
Here’s the problem: While having a huge amount of Likes and Followers may look impressive, the benefits of building fake audiences pretty much stops right there. Rather than adding value, the strategy results in numerous issues including:
* Fake Likes/Followers cannot engage with posts generated by the business – While the sheer number of a business’ Likes/Followers may have mattered in search algorithms at one time, these easily manipulated social signals are now ignored when it comes to SEO benefits. What matters now is engagement, but that isn’t going to happen with fake accounts. Instead, the immediate result is a plummeting ratio of social signals generated by posts, which will have a negative impact on search engine rankings.   
* Changes in Facebook’s News Feed work against fake accounts – The recent changes in how accounts’ posts are seen in the News Feed mean that only a fraction of a page owner’s fans/friends will see each post, unless the company pays to promote them. Absent constant payments for visibility, Facebook measures the quality of each post by, you guessed it, engagement. This works against Like buying in two ways; the News Feed will distribute a portion of the percentage of posts to fake accounts and lower engagement will reduce the percentage of real fans, friends, etc. that will receive subsequent posts.
* Buying Likes/Followers does not build credibility – Spotting fake accounts is a relatively easy activity. For example, if a business suddenly has a huge new group of Likes/Followers from Bangladesh, the vast majority of them are likely to be fakes. For businesses trying to build their brand through trust and credibility, manipulating these numbers can set in motion a situation where the real accounts start wondering  what other information is being misrepresented.
While there may be a strong temptation to buy Likes/Followers, do not do it. It will likely start working against your business immediately, while also hurting your target market’s perception of your company over the long term.
One of the biggest challenges that small and medium sized companies face in their social media initiatives is negotiating the slippery slope of trying to sell products to people who are far more interested sharing pictures of, or conversing about, their kids, pets, and travels. In these social environments, the creation and sharing of valuable content goes hand-in-hand with constructive interaction between the business and its community, and being a good citizen of the “network” is considered as required behavior. 
While participation on these social networks is widely acknowledged as a necessity for a variety of purposes, the primary frustration for many businesses that have dedicated considerable amounts of time and money to social media initiatives is that, even after good network citizenship has been established, any attempt that smacks of overt selling will likely be ignored or treated with the same regard as spam.
If this describes your business’ experience on social networks, the solution may be provided by networks that, instead of being driven by conversation, are consumer/product-driven. The term attached to these sites is “social shopping” and, rather than sharing inspirational quotes and pictures of today’s breakfast, member of these social networks share commentary, opinions, and images of products that are formatted in feeds that cater directly to shoppers’ expressed interests. By combining social interaction with shopping, these sites serve to bridge the gap between the approval and reassurances that are a key aspect of shopping in a store and the isolated decision making process of online shopping. Pinterest and Etsy are two of the most popular social shopping sites, but growing numbers of new sites are being developed and brought online as the demand for this type of experience increases.
While consumer-based social networks present new opportunities for ecommerce sites, businesses need to maintain their presence on the cornerstone networks as well, due to the SEO and reputation management benefits generated by social signals from these sites. To start seeing revenues from social media initiatives, however, adding social shopping networks could be the solution.

As Google reminded all of us last February with their "Panda/Farmer" algorithm change, search engine optimization will continue...

With 2012 coming in as the slowest year for Initial Public Offerings (IPO's) since 2008, business owners who have been contemplating a public offering are trying to decide whether to take the plunge or wait until the pace of offerings accelerates. Part of the blame rests with Facebook's disappointing (aka: failed) IPO last spring which saw shares slump into the teens after being sold to the public for $38 per share. Since making its low at $17.55, the shares have recovered to a current trading level in the high $20's but the IPO market has remained chilly.


Despite this tepid environment for companies trying to go public, the right IPO deal can still get done and the Facebook IPO can teach us a lot about what not to do. Here are some of the errors that were made in the third largest IPO on record.


1) A lack of experience in the team that was put together to take Facebook public – David Ebersman was hired in part due to his "public company experience" but that experience was gained during his 15 tenure with Genentech, which had gone public 14 years before Ebersman joined the company. One of his biggest errors was his over-estimation of demand for Facebook shares, which led to his push for a 25% increase in the amount of shares in the offering a few days before the IPO. This effectively flooded the market and shares took a dive in part due to oversupply.
2) Shares in the offering were structured with voting rights diminished to the point that shareholders had no power to effect change in the company. It was perceived as an act of hubris based on the hype surrounding the offering and led many institutional investors to a decision to sit on the sidelines instead of participating in the offering.
3) Rampant insider selling – In most cases, especially in high-visibility IPO's, insiders are forced to wait for the expiration of blackout dates or for a secondary offering after the IPO is completed to sell their shares. The high amount insider selling in Facebook's IPO looked like a massive exodus to many industry watchers.


IPO's in today's market can be completed successfully by making the right offering and learning from mistakes made by recent predecessors. Working with an experienced group, such as the team led by Dmitrij Harder at Solvo Group can put your company's IPO on the right track and keep it there through its completion. For more information, visit: http://solvogroupinc.com/

Once keyword research is finished and website analytics is in place it's time to start generating and distributing content...

So you've built a site that delivers high value information to your target market, has a great look, and also has simple and clear navigation. It's all good so far but all of these fantastic aspects are considered to be "on-site". To complete the picture, you're going to need to go "off-site" and start marketing on the internet. This is the only way people, outside of the ones you give your business card to, are ever going to find you online.


Don't be intimidated by the term "marketing on the internet". The basics of this necessity are very simple and include the following actions:


  • Start a blog – WordPress, Google, and a host of other sites offer free blog platforms. In fact, the platforms offered for blogging are now so robust that your blog can be turned into second "mini-site" to support your primary website. You can use your blog in any way you wish, whether it's to provide a more informal venue to communicate with your customers, to give insights into your company's philosophy, or to communicate other types of information.
  • Write informative articles – There are numerous sites around the web where you can post articles, including ezine.com, hubpages.com, and Squidoo. Authoritative and informative articles on these sites can position you as an authority in your field and drive traffic to your site.
  • Get social – The social media sites offer another channel for marketing on the internet but the rules are a little different here than elsewhere. Dial back on your sales lingo here and focus on adding value wherever possible.


The techniques for marketing on the internet will vary depending on your business but these three venues are a great start. Wade in and you'll start generating traffic that seeks you for both information and your authority in your area of business.

One of the big social media mysteries for business owners often centers on the lack of comments, replies and shares they receive, even after publishing high quality articles. In these situations, it can be extremely frustrating to have built a growing social media presence with a consistently increasing number of fans, followers, friends, etc. that never actually engage with the business.


This challenge of businesses trying to engage with a relatively unresponsive community is a common one and often occurs despite high quality customer service, the creation of valuable content, and the company's accessibility. At the foundation of this issue is the fact that consumers are bombarded with offers to engage by numerous companies the minute that they go online. Despite the fact that they may have greatly appreciated your most recent article or video, without a prompt to engage many will move on to the next page.


So how can your business persuade them to invest the time to engage on your social media platforms? Here are three ways to get your business' community talking:


  1. Ask for stories – You can ask for stories that are related to your business or not related at all. Questions like "Worst date", "Best day ever", and "Favorite home remedy" tend to elicit responses and conversation. One thing to avoid would to pose a question that opens the door for customers to air complaints about your business, products, etc. McDonald's made that mistake in 2012 by asking for "McDonald's Stories", which turned into a forum for people to complain about their bad food experiences at McDonald's.
  2. Conduct a survey – The best surveys ask open ended questions as opposed to those calling for "yes" or "no" responses. Have a deadline and then post a summary of the survey so respondents can see the results. Be sure to add any interesting, funny and/or unusual anecdotes included in the responses in the survey.
  3. When feasible, share your community's content on your other social media sites. This kind of acknowledgement speaks volumes and will encourage other community members to post to your social media sites.


Success in social media requires more than just collecting followers because today's consumers also want to have a connection with the companies they choose to do business with. That being said, getting customers to interact on your social media pages can be a challenge. By encouraging discourse with questions, surveys, and sharing their content, however, your business will have opened the door to increased engagement with your community.

The search engines are constantly upgrading their algorithms with the purpose of surfacing web pages with links and other search engine optimization elements that are difficult to manipulate, as evidenced by Google's Panda update in early 2011 and the Penguin update a little over one year later. Due to the transparency of communications between companies and their followers/friends/fans on social media platforms, these algorithms are steadily increasing the weight and significance of links and their bearing on how web pages are ranked on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

For businesses, the shift of the search engine algorithms toward favoring links and other facets of SEO that come from social media sites necessitates an active presence on these platforms, whether the interfaces are translating into increased revenues, or not. The alternative would be to stay away from social media entirely and hope that the search engines' accelerating prioritization of SEO in their ranking algorithms doesn't affect hard earned visibility on the SERPs. Measures that a company could take as an alternate path to social media would include increasing the number of internet assets, redoubling article distribution, and auditing the company's website to ensure that it is properly optimized.

The problem with this alternate path is that these actions would most likely result in a diminishing returns scenario, even if the algorithm shift to social media oriented SEO wasn't already under way. The reason for these diminishing returns is that companies that are actively engaged in SEO have usually already targeted the best venues for links, blog posts, content, etc., meaning that they will see a lower return on their investment as their actions expand to less relevant and weaker sites. In fact, weaker sites and the links generated from them were the primary target of Google's previously mentioned Panda and Penguin updates.

With the search engines signaling their preference for social media generated SEO as well as their disdain for specific and traditional optimization practices, thefuture for high rankings on the search engines results pages rests in the wide and growing variety of social media platforms. While engagement on these platforms may not lead (at least immediately) to measurably increased revenues, the alternate will likely be a slow deterioration in search engine rankings accompanied by decreasing visibility, consumer traffic, and sales.

A search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that isn’t in a constant state of evolution will most likely deliver results that miss objectives by a widening margin over time. Much like marketing strategies that still haven’t adapted to consumers moving online for information, research and making purchases, an SEO strategy which assumes that online consumer behavior patterns are in a constantly static state is destined to underperform while also missing out on opportunities of marketing and selling products and services through a growing number of channels.

To keep your SEO strategy on top of the changes in this dynamic environment, keep an eye on these consumer behavior trends for 2014:

  • Increasing participation on special interest social media networks – Consumers are waking up to the fact that the Facebook/Twitter platforms aren’t the only games in town. While monthly user numbers are still very healthy for the big two, a growing number of social networks are being built to address specific interests. The narrowing of these sites’ focus eliminates much of the noise that is common on broader networks and allows members to interact with communities that share specific interests ranging from vintage shopping to the healthcare industry.
  • Mobile everything – Estimates are that mobile device users will access the web more often than desktop users beginning in 2014, a trend that shows no signs of stopping. As consumers, mobile device users have extremely high correlations between their searches and making purchases, which is reason enough for businesses to become more mobile friendly with their sites and include mobile optimization in their SEO initiatives.
  • A continued migration away from traditional media and traditional advertising – Rather than being forced to choose between the offerings that are provided by traditional media, consumers are heading to the web for a greater variety of entertainment choices. This migration is decreasing circulation/viewer/listener numbers, with a direct correlation to the decreasing effectiveness of advertising. Another challenge for traditional advertising is that TV watchers are implementing ad-skipping technologies whenever possible.

These trends can help to focus your SEO initiatives on high growth areas that can deliver solid returns. Additionally, by re-allocating marketing money away from the diminishing returns of traditional advertising, you’ll be able to strengthen your SEO efforts even more.

Featured News

  • User Experience and SEO



    Prior to Google’s implementation of the Hummingbird algorithm in the second half of 2013, search engine optimization and delivering a positive user experience with published content were distinctly different practices. Despite Google’s mission to surface high value content, its algorithms were easily manipulated with SEO tricks that didn’t necessarily deliver the information that the search engine users were looking for. At the same time, content that delivered relevant information often earned lower rankings than poorly written articles that prioritized packing in keywords over adding value.


    Hand it to Google, the search engine has stayed true to its commitment to deliver improved user experiences and is now far less vulnerable to manipulative practices. Its ranking algorithm now factors a variety of signals that result from positive user experiences, including:        


            Links from authority sites – Content that contains valuable source material, topic-relevant information or delivers a positive user experience in general can earn links from authority sites to provide additional information or to be cited as a reference. These links carry an increasing amount of weight in the ranking algorithms due to the quasi-vetting process from originating authority sites. This is a completely different ranking methodology than the one which rewarded web pages that had thousands of spammy backlinks purchased for a few pennies each.       

            Social actions – When content is posted to social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, user can elect to share that material with their friends and/or followers. Sharing or liking posted content is referred to as a social action, which is an indication that the content delivers a positive user experience, whether it’s entertaining, informative or a combination of the two. Steady and/or increasing social actions with specific web pages can then boost rankings due to the implied legitimacy of independent referrals.    

             Active and positive comment threads – Quality content draws engagement in the form of active commentary threads. Content that is generating shares and likes will also elicit commentary, with the actions reinforcing each other when being weighed by search algorithms. While these reinforcing actions are great for SEO campaigns, they are equally capable of driving higher rankings for negative content, such as news stories.    


    In today’s SEO campaigns, manipulating the algorithms has become increasingly difficult. This is due in part to the growing sophistication in algorithm methodology that can detect spammy links and content. It is also due to the evolution in the way people communicate and share information on the web. The paradigm change now forces SEO and content distribution campaigns to focus on the same primary goal; delivering a positive user experience. 

  • One SEO Change to Implement Now


    As the sophistication of search algorithms continues to increase, search engines are improving their understanding of what their users are looking for with their inquiries. Prior to replacing its search methodology with the Hummingbird algorithm in 2013, search results typically showed results that had a high percentage of the same keywords included in users’ inquiries. While the pages that were returned based on keyword matches generally reflected some relevance to the search, there were also results that had nothing to do with the nature of the inquiry.


    Two of the primary reasons for these unrelated results were black hat techniques that were used to trick the early algorithms into granting high ratings, as well as words that were spelled the same but had different meanings, known as homonyms. An example of a homonym is the word “lead”, which can either be a noun as in the metal or a verb as in “to guide”. An inquiry such as “lead dog” could list sculptures of dogs made of the metal as well as dog teams in the Iditarod race. Refining the search to “what is a lead dog Iditarod” could still return mixed results. With the implementation of the Hummingbird algorithm, searches provided results based on the context of the inquiry, rather than trying to find pages with identical keywords.


    The change to contextual search, in addition to providing a higher percentage of relevant results for all users, was also influenced by the more conversational nature of inquiries from mobile device users. When voice commands are used, it’s more natural to ask a question than limiting inquiries to a few key words. As the search phrases became longer, keyword-based algorithms struggled to return listings that answered the questions that were being posed, which required follow-on searches and lead to a less than optimal user experience.


    For businesses that have not changed the foundation of their SEO initiatives to the new search methodology, previously high rankings are likely to start falling, if they haven’t already. The key to success in context-based search is to modify content so that it answers the questions posed verbally by mobile users. As a simple example, a searcher may pose the question “Where is a pizza place in Anytown?” Content that answers that question, which would earn a higher search listing, would include something like “Jack’s Pizza is located at 123 Main Street in Anytown.”


    As Google and the rest of the search engines try to deliver the best user experience possible, the focus is on eliminating listings that don’t deliver the answers sought by searchers. To that end, the listings that are presented will increasingly address the full context of inquiries with the delivery of specific answers. In this environment the SEO campaigns that are modified to answer questions, rather than match keywords to searches, will deliver website and storefront visits which will drive revenues.  

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