Business Books You Should Be Reading in 2016

Let’s cover a few core business books you should be reading in 2016…

On the last episode of Nathan’s Bookshelf, we got a taste of my more esoteric, literary, and poetic interests, with a dash of business books.

This time around, the focus is mostly on business books.

I’m a firm ongoing learner, who believes that people should always be improving their job skills and life skills.

I look at it like this: in a college course, they will typically have you read 1-3 books on a given topic…which are, by the way, often theoretical, abstract, and not practically useful.

So if you read a book a week, what kind of education are you giving yourself?

Anyways, enough pontificating.

books-933293_1920Here’s what I’ve been reading this past year:

  • No B.S. Ruthless Management of People and Profits – Dan Kennedy’s non-politically correct guide to managing staff in your business. He makes a lot of fascinating points, in my opinion, but beware: ruthless means ruthless.
  • Making Them Believe – Another Dan Kennedy book, written with Chip Kessler. This book covers the life and the marketing takeaways of John Brinkley, a man who surgically implanted goat testicles as a cure for impotence.
  • Scaling Up – This book, by Verne Harnish, is a must-have for any business that experiences – or wants to experience – super-fast growth.
  • Ca$hvertising – This book is an epic guide to advertising. Copywriters and advertising professionals will probably know much of the material covered herein, but it’s still a good reference book. For those who aren’t immersed in advertising and marketing and want to learn more, it’s a must-have.
  • The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Getting Your Shit Together – John Carlton’s first book (I think) is a must-have for anyone – and I mean anyone – who wants to improve their business skills. Most people probably haven’t heard of him, but he’s a killer copywriter who can teach you much about sales, young padawan. When linking to the book, I discovered that he has another book out, Simple Success Secrets No One Told You About, which I immediately downloaded … even though I haven’t read it yet, I recommend you do the same … that’s how good this guy is.
  • The Boron Letters – Gary Halbert has been called the world’s greatest copywriter. This book is a series of letters written by Halbert to his son, which cover everything from copywriting to marketing to life advice. A must-have for any business bookshelf.
  • Don’t Wear a Cowboy Hat Unless You Are a Cowboy… – Robert Bly is another one of the world’s most famous copywriters. He’s written dozens of books and his copywriting portfolio covers the gamut. Every businessperson should have at least a few of his books on their bookshelf.
  • The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene’s classic is another must-have for any business person – and any other person who wants to be successful in life and relationships.
  • Fanatical Prospecting – Jeb Blount knows how to sell. Like many of the authors listed here, he is an “old-school” salesperson who doesn’t spout the New Age nonsense that you see everywhere else online … which is often designed to steer you clear of prospecting, direct marketing, and sales.
  • New Sales. Simplified.  – Mike Weinberg, who did the foreward to Fanatical Prospecting, writes another great book on prospecting and new business development – that is, bringing new business in the door as opposed to harvesting the same clients and customers over and over. It’s geared towards the sales professional, but you should read it. It will clear many of the New Sales Age cobwebs out of your thinking.

There are plenty more books on my bookshelf from the past year, including many I haven’t gotten to yet.

But these are the business books that stand out.

What most of these books have in common is that the authors truly understand sales.

As I mentioned, many of today’s marketing and sales professionals subscribe to New Age beliefs: prospecting is dead, cold calling is dead, inbound marketing should replace outbound marketing, and so on.

The authors mentioned here contradict these false teachings and stand like a torch against the darkness.

In fact, when it really comes down to it, when you really think about it, and when you really dive deeply into your business, it’s clear that sales, prospecting, and new business development are the bottom line.

If You Use an Ad-Blocker, You’re a Content Thief…Or Are You?

Melissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, thinks you and I are missing out because we use ad-blockers.

According to her, it’s a “mistake” to install ad-blockers because the “experience on the web becomes a lot less rich.” When you install ad-blockers, you’re either receiving untargeted ads or no ads at all. Mayer says she tells her friends and family to remove those browser extensions because “your experience on the web will get worse.”

Digiday points out how ironic this is, given the fact that Yahoo’s own ads were exploited by hackers at one point, causing millions of Yahoo visitors’ computers to be infected.

She does make a point, however. Publishers depend on ads to earn revenue. You block ads, you’re getting something for nothing and publishers don’t make the money they need to keep offering you great information and entertainment.

So Are We Content Thieves?

lock-432450_1920To Mayer and many other businesses, native advertising may be the best bet.

Native advertising, for those who don’t know, refers to ads that are disguised as editorial content in media outlets and publications. A company will write an article that furthers its marketing objectives, then publish it on a media outlet with a tiny little grayed-out caption that says, “Sponsored Content.” The article looks real and feels real, but, as John Oliver points out, it undermines audiences’ trust and the media industry as a whole.

Sponsored Facebook posts and sponsored tweets dance a fine line between native and normal. They don’t want to push it too far, of course, because then users will get angry at the obvious deception. But users also don’t like to be blatantly advertised to, so the social networks need to dial back those obnoxious ads to make them less annoying.

So we’ve got a couple extremes when it comes to advertising.

Advertisers can either scream at you to get your attention, which people absolutely hate, which is why people install ad blockers, which supposedly make our web experience worse. Or ads can camouflage themselves and vanish into the tall grass, like a tiger stalking its prey.

Or…

They Can Go Freemium

times-square-923448You know that app you installed that offers to remove ads or add features for a few bucks?

That’s called the freemium model.

Don’t want to pay for this app, publication, or service that other humans have worked hard to create for you? You get ads.

Don’t want ads? Pay up.

Simple.

In general, people don’t want to dish out cash for anything digital, especially if they haven’t tried it yet. Hence, we have the proliferation of advertising, freemium products, free trials, and so forth.

But why don’t more companies offer us the choice?

Since only a tiny fraction of users ever opt to pay to remove ads, it wouldn’t hurt the advertisers’ income streams very much, if at all. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that people who pay to remove ads aren’t likely to click on them at all. I’m certainly not.

For most companies, however, it’s an either-or proposition. Many services are strictly ad-based and you have zero choice in the mater. Many publications force you to subscribe, then they still serve you with ads. Other publications, such as Consumer Reports, are entirely subscriber-funded.

Now that we live in a digital world, it’s actually possible to offer users the choice.

If I found a service that I really, really liked then I’d want the option to pay to remove ads.

Conclusion

Mayer’s statement was presumptuous and silly. It’s natural that a company whose revenue depends on ads would push for a digital world fueled by and funded by ads…natural but shortsighted.

In fact, she demonstrated that she wasn’t listening to her own customers. If ad blockers caused a decline in Yahoo’s revenue, then it indicated, if anything, that Yahoo wasn’t delivering a good user experience. I, for instance, never use Yahoo precisely because it’s in-your-face and obnoxious. I can only assume their ads worsen that already-poor web experience.

Instead of fighting an endless battle over how best to advertise to people who don’t like ads, why don’t companies offer ad-free versions of those same services?

Windows 10 Made Me 10X More Productive Overnight. Plus, Microsoft Sway is Microsoft Swank.

Hi folks,

At first, I didn’t know Microsoft Sway was a presentation software. I just started clicking away and came up with some pretty cool stuff. It seemed apparent to me that most content is headed this way, including blogs.

So here’s a little experiment (FYI, it may not be very responsive because it’s embedded).

I put my post into Sway, and a few pictures later, this is what I came up with.

More Fun with Big Data

As Problogger pointed out that Define Media Group pointed out, Buzzfeed’s recent picture of traffic referral sources may be slightly skewed. Their claims suggest that Facebook generates nearly triple the traffic referrals that Google does. It’s an interesting statistic, but the methodology and data sources are clearly opaque. This problem suddenly becomes compounded when publications such as Recode and The Atlantic propagate said data without verifying it.

Good vs. Evil, Facebook vs. Google, DMG vs. Buzzfeed

But could it even be possible? Facebook has 1.24 billion active users and Google has almost 12 billion monthly searches, so yeah, I guess it’s possible that highly active users post and refer more traffic. Again, I’m dubious: Buzzfeed, a player in the social arena, understandably wants to promote social media, since social media promotes their services.

Reading Recode’s original article about the Buzzfeed phenomenon, it’s hard to tell where the data comes from: “BuzzFeed’s pretty darn big, and its network has some 200 other sites in it, so while we’re not looking at all of the Web here, we’re at least looking at a good-sized chunk of it.” DMG adds more about the data sources, but not much: “According to BuzzFeed their data gathering is done via a tracking code across their network of sites of which ‘represent an audience of more than 300 million people globally.'”

Define-Media-Group-search-social-pie-chart

via Define Media Group

Define Media Group, on the other hand, is a marketing firm that provides both search and social media marketing consulting. DMG is very explicit with their methodology and their data sources. Their data suggests results almost the opposite relationship between search and social referrals. In my mind, transparent methodology and data sources certainly lend DMG the upper hand here.

Hype and manipulated statistics have been around for quite a long time, but in the internet age, they can have a tendency to go viral and make big waves.

Surfing and Wiping Out

In Bob Hoffman’s notorious speech where he slammed new school marketing pundits, entitled, “The Golden Age of Bullshit,” he brought up the Pepsi Refresh Project.

A few years ago, to much fanfare, Pepsi dropped its marketing campaign in favor of a complete shift to social media marketing. And, after 2010, corporate social media spending climbed 64% each year for several years running, according to stats I found at Hootsuite.

We’re clearly living in a new age, right? An age of conversation, engagement, and buzz?

According to Hoffman: one estimate has it that the Pepsi Refresh Project cost the company between $50-100 million. The popular soft drink dropped from the second best-selling drink to third and lost a 5% market share before slinking back to its former paid advertising practices.

The same research companies that had proclaimed the death of traditional advertising turned around and stated that social media was a “barely negligible source of sales.”

Hoffman cites Forrester Research, which had foretold the beginning of a new age of social media marketing and “the end of the era of mass marketing” just a few years earlier. They later changed their position, and stated that email marketing was nearly forty times as effective as Facebook and Twitter combined.

What does this tell you about big data?

Big Data = Statistics

Big data is statistics with just more of them. It can be insightful and truthful, or it can be skewed and manipulative. Transparency in both methodology and data sources are vital if we are to make any useful sense of statistics that are thrown our way. Publications such as The Atlantic and Recode — not to mention anyone wielding statistics — have a responsibility to do some fact-checking and verification before propagating such big bad data.

If I had to pick one data set out of the two mentioned above, it would be DMG, because they are open about their methodology and statistics. With Buzzfeed’s info, we literally just have a picture, without understanding the methodology or numbers behind it, just as with Google Trends.

The Future of Content Marketing Part 2

Elsewhere I explained that everyone and their mom should hop on board the Google train, because they’re taking over the Earth. And that’s true.

Wil Reynolds, CEO of Seer Interactive, an internet marketing company, demonstrated as much in a presentation at Affiliate Summit. The search engine’s evolution is a good thing, he argues, because it clears away more of that spam that pollutes search results. And that’s true.

Image 5Look at the ribbon that now headlines search results: suddenly we see lists of local results with photos all lined up next to each other. How convenient is that? And how useful for local businesses?

After watching his presentation, I felt that I’d been rather harsh on Google. After all, Google currently incorporates your location into all search results, which should help business who are close to you.

But, what with the vastness of the internet — not to mention the vastness of the world we live in, from which the internet is derived — I can’t help but feel like I’m getting a rather simplified picture of the information I am seeking with my search query.

Is Google Good or Evil or What?

Wil Reynolds has a lot of positive energy and believes in building real value and promoting passionate business men and women, instead of spamming people to make a buck. While Reynolds seems to suggest that Google’s interface evolutions and search algorithm updates are beneficial for the little guy and the casual internet surfer who wants spam-free search results, I partially disagree.

To demonstrate how Google is battling the nefarious hordes of spammers, Reynolds breaks out his smartphone and talks to it. Instead of navigating into a website to find the weather or our flight times, he shows us, all we have to do is ask Google, and it will tell us.

Image 6

The Knowledge Graph

And it’s true. Ask for the meaning of a word, and Google will provide us with the answer. Ask who Miley Cyrus is, and Google tells us. Where does this data come from? Sometimes it tells us, sometimes it doesn’t. Why bother visiting Wikipedia or donating to their cause when Google just gives it to me?

Unlike a search engine, which would direct us to the services and sources of the information we are seeking, Google becomes the service provider by taking that information from said sources and giving it to us directly.

This trend will only continue.

Is this good or bad? How can we know when we don’t know what the heck is going on? Google doesn’t talk about their motivations or intentions.

Oh wait, according to them: “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

How do Driverless Cars or Robots Fit In?

Image 1

Apparently you can book flights through Google. Airlines better stay on Google’s good side if they want to remain visible.

It’s really hard for me not to see the monopolistic side of things: Google is aggressively pushing into every major market they can get their paws on. They are offering overnight delivery to compete with Amazon (already a retail and publisher crusher), they are extracting and storing and publishing portions of books online,  they read your email, they are going after wireless giants, they are building robots, they are building driverless cars, and they are going to build androids.

Some tech lovers love Google, and knock the “Google is evil” mantra. I think “evil” is a word from a Disney movie and has no place in an adult discussion about real things in the real world. Google’s just monopolistic — the dream of any profit-centric business — and their data gathering behavior is creepy. Emails should be private. Privacy should be a given.

But I digress.

Image 2It doesn’t pay to wear a tin hat, but it does pay to pay attention to the writing on the wall. Google may not be evil, but don’t assume that they are an altruistic company that looks out for your business or aims to bring the world together in peace and harmony. Do you think they’re fighting the recent FCC ruling because they’ve got such big hearts?

Like any corporation, their top priority is their bottom line.

 

PS – “What does this have to do with content marketing?” some content marketers may be asking themselves. Other content marketers, however, will see exactly how this affects their field. If you are one of the former, then watch Reynolds’ presentation.

Google Trends Says Laotians Love Japanese Girls

If you already understand how Google Trends works, you can skip to the “Why Google Trends is Stupid” Section.

Everyone else, welcome to my article.

For those who don’t know, Google Trends is a Google tool that allows you to examine the relative “interest” in search terms, search topics, where those terms and topics are most popular, other related searches, and other related data.

This type of data, of course, is extremely valuable for internet marketers engaged in research…or would be if it weren’t so sketchy.

Miley, You Lose

Let’s compare the literary genre of science fiction, the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, the search term “hunger games,” the anime genre, and the term “miley cyrus.”

miley v anime google trendNot only does worldwide “interest” in anime consistently top all other searches, it even outperforms all the others combined at least 95% of the time. On the one hand, we never really think of anime as being so popular, but when you include the entire world’s search results, you can see how it compares to other genres and titles that garner so much attention from mainstream media.

When you look at the actual charts, Google’s site correlates popularity spikes with news events for you, so you can see that miley cyrus’s biggest spike coincided with her MTV music awards. Examine the “regional interest” section and you’ll see that her biggest fans aren’t in the United States, but in Guyana, the Faroe Islands, Guam, Belize…in fact, the USA is #8 on the list.

Interesting, or confusing?

The Japanese-Loving Laotians

laotians love japanese girlsjapan laos google trendsWhile first looking at some Japan-related search trends, I noticed something else: Laos tops the search term volume for “japan,” followed by Cambodia, Myanmar, Mongolia, and so on.

At the bottom of the Laos-specific search page, you will see related searches.

Now, anyone who has spent any time in southeast Asia doesn’t need to blink twice to know something’s wrong with this picture.

The “100” next to Laos means that it has the highest search volume in the world, and the other 1-to-100 numbers are calculated against that…or so I thought, based on Google’s unclear help bubble language, which says, “Numbers represent search volume relative to the highest point on the map which is always 100. Click on any region/point to see more details on the search volume there.”

The reason for these odd-looking results?

Google normalizes its data (see below), but, even in a post titled “How Trends Data is Normalized,” it doesn’t tell you how Trends data is normalized, it just explains what the normalized results look like.

We aren’t told what the search volume is, so I went over to Google AdWords to look at numbers. There, we find that Laos manages a paltry 1,360 searches per month vs. the USA’s 199,640. When I checked search volumes for “japan girl” plus “japan girls,” I found that Laos came up with 206 searches, and when you add “google japan” to that list, you only come up with 278, vs. the USA’s 43,422 for all three search terms.

Why Google Trends is Stupid

No numbers and no pre-normalization information means no meaningful picture.

Google really needs to work on its social skills. Its inability to successfully promote its social network Google+ is one glaring example of this, and the opaque Trends interface is another. Behind the scenes I’m sure they’re working on an artificial brain that will predict the future, but we’re all left in the dark with “interest” charts. I suppose that’s normal in this age of Big Data-hoarding.

Data Normalization

Wow, guess those Aussies like GoT. Too bad there's only 22 million of them

Wow, guess those Aussies like GoT. Too bad there’s only 22 million of them. How good is there internet infrastructure, I wonder? And what about demographic data?

To normalize a data set means that, according to the map-making software folks at AlignStar, you “transform the data so it may be compared in a meaningful way.” In the example they give on the AlignStar site, we see two maps of unemployment rates. One which shows absolute values within a US state, and the other which shows normalized values.

Each map paints a different picture.

If, for example, you wanted to measure the counties of a given state to see which have higher unemployment rates, then you would measure the absolute number of unemployed against the total workforce, which is what AlignStar did in their second map. This shows a couple counties that had relatively high unemployment rates. They pointed out,

The maps above portray a very different picture of the same information. Each map could prove useful depending on the point that the map creator was trying to make.  It is important to keep this in mind when creating thematic maps. Sometimes a very small change can result in a very different picture.

What is a Trend?

game of thrones australia usaWe don’t know what data goes into these graphs or how it is being processed.

Not normalizing the data would make many Trends rather boring, however, since the USA is the biggest user of Google and has one of the most powerful — if not the most powerful — telecommunications infrastructures in the world. It would probably look like the first map on the AlignStar website.

But what do Trends’s post-processed pictures actually tell us?

I’m no statistician, but there are some pretty obvious questions that come up as to how valid or useful this tool is. In the case of Game of Thrones, we see many first-world countries popping up on the map, so it is more reasonable to assume some relative popularity correlations between countries such as the USA and Australia. But without the raw data we can’t verify anything for ourselves.

Look at Laos and Cambodia. The vast majority of the population doesn’t even have internet access.

So, once you dig a little deeper, you realize that Google’s geographical “normalization” can, at times, be misleading, pointless, and wrong. Guyana‘s and the Faroe Islands’ supposedly vast interest in Miley Cyrus, for example, doesn’t tell us how many people in said countries have access to the internet, have smartphones, speak English, use Google, use other search engines, or have ever seen a computer.

In Cambodia, Japan’s second biggest fan, most people live in rural areas with no internet access or electricity, and will likely go their whole lives without ever seeing a computer except that one time that one white guy came to take pictures of an ox with his smartphone.

When you take such a ridiculously small search sample size from small countries with small populations that live the same way they have for the past thousand years, Google’s one-size-fits-all normalization clearly tells us absolutely nothing, except maybe that some travelers, Japanese expats, or other rich folks search for “japan” with more relative frequency than other countries.

Maybe, though, that’s the just data you’re looking for.

More Fun with Big Data

It’s just Big Data, and I hate Big Data, mostly because I don’t have any.

As Jaron Lanier has pointed out, and as I will probably write about again, that sacrosanct elixir of the techtopians has got a tenuous-at-best causal relationship between the input and the output. When you hide the quantities and use unknowns to algorithmically define terms like “popularity” or “interest,” without including (in this case) vital geographical and demographic factors such as economic status, internet infrastructure, population of said country, and so forth, then you start getting unverifiable and meaningless statistics. Bad data is even worse than bad science.

As I like to say, “No! No, Big Data, no. Bad Big Data. That’s a bad, bad Big Data.”

Without the ability to see and play around with absolute values ourselves and without knowing how those values are normalized, we are left only with pretty pictures and graphs. As with the Google algorithm, we just have to take their word for it. And with Google’s attitude toward the world’s data, do you really feel like doing that?

SEO to Now: Content Marketing’s Future

The basic “currency” of SEO is the backlink, which can vary in value, from the negative-value spam links to quality links from authorities such as Amazon, Wikipedia, or government sites. The basic mindset of SEO used to be “more, more, more,” in terms of both content and links, because it was quantity that mattered. As Google wised up, we gradually saw a shift towards quality content and content marketing, yet we still see filler material everywhere. Google’s emphasis on quality content will never change, but as technology changes, what other changes can we expect to see in the marketing world?

The search engine’s algorithm updates helped steer the marketing world towards content marketing, where the bottom line has been “promotion through valuable content.” Content subsequently replaced links as the atomic unit of internet marketing. Google Now, a personal assistant and prediction service based on the Google search engine, is poised to become the search interface for Google Glass.
The goal is to create an easy-to-use personal assistant, as opposed to a search engine.

Beyond the Search Engine

The gap will continue to grow between the top results and all the rest
The gap will continue to grow between the top results and all the rest

Google itself is obviously not just a search engine any more, but has become a full-fledged tech monopoly with multiple agendas. In the post-SEO world, especially with Google+, Google has made it clear that if you want to be successful with Google marketing, you have to play Google’s ballgame. Google will continue to compete for the same types of multi-market dominance as Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung. So they will push harder and harder to have everyone “integrate” with Google services.

Content marketing will be affected by the further consolidation of data and traffic into an even more biased and simplistic interface. For one thing, the top results will become more static and difficult to penetrate. The content itself will become shorter, simpler, and designed to be more attention-grabbing.

Google or Bust

While technically speaking a search engine should be a database, Google has been called an advertising agency, which makes sense from a marketing perspective and a design perspective. Businesses will face even more pressure to integrate with Google services in order to be featured in the search results. If you opt out of Google+ or anything else Google, then you just won’t make it near the top.

Some might say this type of filtration system is good, because it weeds out the filler content and spam. But it also means that the search results will be more simplified than they already are. It means that legitimate businesses will have to compete harder against each other and against spammers to make it into the results that actually matter.

And for those who do not want to join Google+ or get a Google account?

Good luck with your marketing.

Three Marketing Automation Tips for the Freelancer

If a Tweet is Tweeted in a busy city and nobody hears it, did it make any sound?

If a Tweet is Tweeted in a busy city and nobody hears it, did it make any sound?

When you are a freelancer and work from home, you don’t always have time to maintain ten different social networks. The social network scene soon becomes a time sink of sharing, liking, linking, and tweeting. And with the need for constant self-promotion, the freelancer can end up spending way too much time online.

The mainstreaming of automation tools has changed the landscape for everyone. In the old days, i.e., five or ten years ago, internet marketing automation was only for the tech-savvy. If you knew how to program, you could design your own scripts or programs to assist you, but these days, applications such as Hootsuite and Buffer are pretty much necessary for anyone that has multiple social presences.

I hope he doesn't get mad at me for posting this...honestly this is what it looked like when I scrolled down...

I hope he doesn’t get mad at me for posting this…honestly this is what it looked like when I scrolled down…

The Twitter user interface needs a lot of work, which is one reason that more functional applications like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Tweetadder, and Buffer came around. Twitter really needs to revolutionize its model before other programs, like SnapChat or Prismatic, come in and push it out of the way. However, as long as Twitter maintains its hold on the mass-chat model, it will stay there. If next generation social networks don’t incorporate a tweet-ish feature, Twitterers will stay Twitterers, and, in my opinion, the post-Facebookers will become SnapChatters or Prismacticers.

So with the state of social networks in constant flux, how do you manage it all?

Use Hootsuite

Currently, Hootsuite is the ultimate  social media marketing tool that organizes your data streams for pretty much every outlet you can think of, and some you may not know about. For instance, did you know that MySpace is still around? It must be, since Hootsuite offers integration with it.

Try not to crash

Try not to crash

At first glance, its interface looks like the cockpit of an airplane. But once you start trying to maintain several presences, its benefits will become obvious. But if you want to be able to quickly share to multiple accounts, there’s another app that you should use. It’s called…

Buffer App

Personally, I use Buffer to schedule post to a handful of accounts. Buffer’s app can connect to Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, App.net (whatever that is — just kidding! I’m sure it will be very popular one day), and Facebook. You install an add-on for your browser, and whenever you click the Buffer button it queues it to a customizable schedule for any or all of your connected accounts.

At this stage, Buffer’s limited social network selection may be a deterrent for some. They are building out functionality, though, so the future probably bodes well for Buffer users.

Using Buffer is a snap, and Hootsuite gets easier with time, but with all the choices of social networks, which ones are right for you? Many people will give you different advice. Usually they tell you what works for them, or base their advice on popular opinion, etc. But the bottom line is:

Choose the Networks You Like

I never liked Facebook, the same goes for LinkedIn, and Google+ was DOA, but your choice of marketing should really be based on one of two things: your personality, and your personality.

If you are a Facebooker, then marketing on Facebook will come more naturally, you will enjoy it more, and you will have an easier time connecting with other Facebookers. Consequently, Facebook marketing should work best.

Kevin Muldoon interviewed a number of successful bloggers, and they all had different styles that worked best for them. Some advocated a large social network presence, some advocated accumulating bylines, while others were entirely successful as ghostbloggers, without bylines or a social presence.

Most people will tell you to do things one way, because that’s what worked for them. That’s problematic, because they don’t know your business or your target demographic, among other things. Regardless of your approach, time spent is time spent. You will get a return.

What Buffer looks like right before you share. Obviously I'm not going to share a post of me working on this blog.

What Buffer looks like right before you share. Obviously I’m not going to share a post of me working on this blog.

For most freelancers, Buffer and Hootsuite are more than enough. Buffer lets me post to Google+ for SEO purposes, Facebook even though I think it’s pointless, and Twitter because I think that’s the best way to connect with other like-minded people. And Hootsuite lets me manage conversations easily and quickly.

All freelancers should definitely automate their marketing to a certain extent. As online networks evolve, they are dividing up the internet population into many social networks, and managing all your networks is becoming more and more difficult. Fortunately, automation tools will always be around to help you maintain your online social presence.

SEO Basics

Site not found. Maybe I should connect to the internet first.

Site not found. Maybe I should connect to the internet first.

How are people supposed to find your site through search engines amid the millions of other websites populating the information super highway? This article explains the basics of SEO to people who know what the term means, but aren’t sure exactly what it is or how it works. When thinking about how SEO works, the best way to look at it is this: Google wants to promote legitimate, unique, high-quality, reputable websites, and filter out spammed sites, filler content, and low quality sites.

The relevance of your site to a given set of search terms is determined by keywords pulled from your content. As long as your site’s text content — in page titles, file names, meta tags, and site content — is articulated appropriately to the search terms your audience would choose, then this part should be straightforward. Web designers are aware of these basics.

Google measures a site’s “reputation” by the quantity and quality (reputation) of backlinks, or inbound links coming from other sites. This is similar to Facebook’s “like” button. A site’s “reputation,” or authority, then determines a site’s placement on the search results page for given key words. Everyone wants to increase their sites ranking on the search results page, because the top sites receive exponentially more hits than lower sites.

Manipulating a site’s ranking in the search results is where SEO gets complicated. It involves keeping up with Google’s methodological changes and second guessing the Google algorithm. It is an esoteric and fast-paced industry that has become the domain of internet marketing companies and code-savvy internet marketers.

Most businesses rightfully stay away from this technical field, which can get murky with questionable methods and ethical debates. The bottom line for most companies is to increase their search engine results while maintaining ethical marketing standards. This is the safest way to ensure that sites don’t get penalized by Google.

On-site SEO means making sure your site is well-designed, containing text that is appropriate to your site’s concept. It is important to make sure the main idea, product, or service of your site is articulated clearly within the text portions of your web pages. This includes page titles, meta tags, and site content. Google only reads text, so text conatined inside of images does not get read, but the image pop-up captions can be read by the Google bot. Web designers are generally aware of these requirements.

Google attempts to filter out those who would manipulate the system, so two-way linking tends not to help, and can even hurt site rankings. Circular linking, where a group of sites link one direction, in a circle, also gets penalized. Link farms, or sites which only exist to provide backlinks to other sites, don’t really help either. Networks of sites which interlink to one another get demoted, duplicate content gets demoted, as does any other activity which could indicate subversive SEO manipulation.

Keeping up with the inner workings of the SEO field tends to be a highly competitive, technical, and time-consuming endeavor, best left to tech gurus.

As long as your site is well-designed and your content clearly articulates your site’s function, internet marketing is a matter of reputation-building and customer outreach, by means of the various new media channels.