Metacraft

Social Media and Deep Links

Social Media and Deep LinksWhen you use social media to promote your business there are a few tips that will make the process more productive. Generally you want to encourage the highest number of potential new customers to visit your website or contact you directly. But there are other considerations for small or new businesses. You also want to direct the search engine spiders to visit your site and index as many pages as possible. Over a period of several years they will eventually venture into every corner of your site, but a couple of years can seem like an eternity. There are two routes you might take to speed this process up.

(1) Create new content or articles on your site on a regular basis and link directly to these through social media. Regular fresh content has a positive effect on the return rate of the search spiders, if it is detected that your site is infrequently updated the frequency of visits is dramatically reduced. There's no point after all, looking over the same content time and again.
(2) Create social media feeds which are relevant to your products and services and link these directly to existing content on your website which is related.

Effectively both of the above approaches implement what in SEO circles is referred to as a 'Deep link'. Although you are posting information for human eyes to read, the various search engines also collect a vast amount of information through social media sites, follow links and extract content from the target page. This is all good as far as you are concerned.

Remember however the those same human eyes are attached to a brain which can quickly become bored if you use the same tactic repetitively. Post a text extract one day with a link to the content article your text came from. The next day you might create a graphic relating to a product or service and towards the end of the accompanying text insert a link to an area of your site where further information can be found. Swap and change so people become familiar with your brand, interested in your content and build trust in your service.

Keep it fresh

Keep it freshAlthough there are many criteria involved in maintaining good search rankings. One which is certainly important if regular fresh content, both on your site and in your social media feeds. If you build a web site and then leave it dormant for a year it's really not going to have much return appeal for human visitors, this is recognized by the search engines. New content on a regular basis also increases the frequency of the returning visits from the search robots, a simply mathematical comparison reveals new content is available and the return interval is reduced. This is great news for your ranking.

If your web site is relatively new and the search engines have not as yet indexed it, regular updates of your social media feeds linked to new site content is a great way to attract and capture the attention of the search bots. After all if you've written a new article for your site, why not copy a snippet and post if on Facebook and/or Twitter? You're doubling your impact for very little additional effort....

An example is Anis Louise Guest House in Chesterfield. The Upcoming Events and Short breaks are updated on a monthly basis and are generally up-to-date for two months in advance. These events are then used as the foundation for regular Facebook updates effectively creating deep links for the search bots to follow. As a way of testing the value of these regular updates, simply Google 'Guest house Chesterfield' or a similar search. You'll always find the Anis Louise Guest House in the first position of the unpaid rankings. That's quite a bold statement, but I'm good to stand by it!!

On-line Customer interaction

On-line Customer interactionOn the high street your existing customers will call in with the hope that you have that {Insert product} that they are looking for, often prompted by the fact they were passing. The internet is a slightly diffecent marketplace. There is no equivalent concept for just passing as such, but customer interaction is a pretty good match conceptually.

Your existing customers like to be involved, be that commenting on your Facebook page, sharing content from your website or rating you and your services on-line. The trick is to harness this potential for your benefit. Under most circumstances you'll be busy enough dealing with the day to day running of your business without wanting to spend an hour a day vetting comments on your website and social media so it's in your interest to consider how best to deal with customer interaction before you embark on stimulating it.

Social media. Facebook in particular has become a major means of connection between businesses and their customers. If you have a Facebook page for your business, which you really should have, make sure that you reply to enquiries that people post on your page. By replying quickly and being helpful you instil a feeling of pro-activity and trust in potential customers as everybody who has liked your page can see these interactions.

Social recommendation sites – Trip Advisor & Rated People etc. If you have a presence on one of these services again ensure that you deal with customer comments quickly and politely. Even if it is simply to thank somebody for adding a positive review. If by chance a customer raises concerns by replying promptly and dealing with these concerns you not only recover what might have been a tricky situation, you build trust.

Email. If metacraft provide your email services we can connect these to most mobile phones. A quick reply to an email is the first step towards securing a sale. Unfortunately technology has made people very impatient, if you don't reply promptly your potential customer will find somebody else.

All this said, keep things seperate. Mixing your personal views with business interactions is always a bad thing. There's one outstanding example I recall a client embarking upon. On the run up to the local elections he posted a well crafted graphic on his Facebook business page, all well and good so far. It was intended to stimulate interaction from his customers. However it was politically provokative and although it stimulated interaction, this took the form of a heated dedate which escalated into a full blown argument and about a quarter of the people who had liked his page clicked un-like.... Not the best move.

Responsive Design or a mobile App.?

Responsive design or a mobile App. - how best to capture your mobile autience?Responsive design. This is a reasonably new industry term which in simple terms describes a website which recognises if it is being viewed on a mobile device and changes its display options to best suit the device. All the content available on a desktop machine is available on the mobile version but scaled, rearranged and presented using a mobile friendly menu system. This site is built on a responsive platform, so if you view this article on your mobile you'll find the site looks slightly different and is easy to navigate without zooming in/out and scrolling left/right. Behind the scenes there is a great deal of Java Script which interrogates your browser on the devices and then makes the presentation changes required. This requires a fair degree of processor power and on very slow devices you might notice slightly slower page load times. However most modern mobile devices are equipped with powerful processors and you'll probably never notice.

The benefits of a responsive design is that your site will be accessible on almost all devices – Apple, Linux variants, Windows and Android. The only disadvantage is that you won't have the option to present specific content to mobile platforms.

Mobile Applications. If you have specific content that you would like to present to your visitors who are on the move, a mobile App. Is the way forward for you. If for example you want to offer a special discount for Early Bird visitors but only on specific days of the week which vary week on week, a mobile App. Is ideal. The potential customers clicks on the offers button and is presented with the upcoming offers. If they are in the area you can entice them in. If you want to offer directions to difficult to find locations, the mapping system in mobiles is easily accessible and very useful. Another often overlooked benefit is that once your customers have installed the App. On their device you have effectively placed a miniature salesman in their pockets. Mobile users tend not to delete App.s until they are running out of storage so your App. Will sit quietly awaiting your customers attention indefinitely. The is a slight problem with mobile App.s however. There are four major platforms on the market and quite a number of other propitiatory platforms. Android and Kindle are open source and easy to build App.s for. Apple devices are reasonably easy to build Apps. For but there is no guarantee that Apple will accept your App. for upload into their store. As this is the only simple way to install Apple App.s it can be a major disadvantage. Windows and Blackberry devices are not supported by most App. development platforms and Windows specifically is a close platform so the use of App.s in very restricted.

An App. Is ideal as an additional service for your customers. It can offer benefits that your website can't really deal with. But it's unlikely that mobile App.s will ever replace business websites. There are some limited situations where an App. Is a direct replacement for a website. This is an example. Home Chef App. For Android.

Likes - Facebook Social Media - To like or not to like?

Likes - Facebook Social Media - To like or not to like?Just like any other social media opportunity for business there are good ways to approach Facebook, great ways to deal with it and some pretty poor strategies. So here's a brief breakdown from my experience marketing businesses on Facebook over the last 10 years or so.

Firstly it's useful to consider the two possible streams of likes from a business point of view.

(1) Like for your business page.
(2) Likes for individual articles or entries on your website.

Both play a part in the promotion of awareness of your business and the services you have to offer, but in very different ways. For this example let's pretend you run a guest house. Most small businesses have a good deal in common as far as the opportunities offered through Facebook are concern.

(1) The number of likes on your Facebook page might initially appear to be crucial. When first starting in business you might not really want your potential customers to think that you only have 3 people who like what you do. But honestly is the primary principle here. Don't be tempted by the emails you'll get from India offering to sell you likes and don't try to persuade people to like your page with incentives. A business based in Lincoln which opened last Wednesday and has 4537 likes all from Mombasa looks slightly suspect. Was there a recent conference for Indian marketing specialists who all stayed 48 in a bed? Probably not. Similarly “ Like our page and the 750th person (or a random person when we reach that number) will receive £5000 in M&S vouchers, well it just looks tacky really.

Also to be considered is the background Facebook algorithm. If you have less than 100 likes almost everybody who liked your page will see a good percentage of your page posts. If you have 1000 likes the number of people who see your posts will be reduced to a smaller percentage. Facebook after all in a commercial entity, they actually want you to have to pay for all the people who like your page to see your posts. The way around this is to get as many people as possible to share your posts. Again please don't post “Click like and share” for a free trip to Australia, we all know this is not going to happen. Make your posts interesting, varied and switch between text, pictures with supporting text and text with links. All are equally good, but you need to make your posts interesting so if they are read by somebody who might not actually be interested in what you have to offer today, they might at least be happy to share your post on to their friend who might be interested. If you have a number of employees it wouldn't be considered bad form to ask them to share your posts once in a while, but certainly not every post you make.

(2) Facebook likes from your site are slightly different. Presuming that your website has the ability for visitors to click like at the end of an article, the response and results from the avenue will be quite different. They are unlikely to instantly increase the number of likes your Facebook business page has, but they will greatly increase the coverage you receive through Facebook. Provided that the content of your website is interesting and relevant. This avenue is called Social Share and is a vital source of brand awareness for both large and small businesses. It is still open to abuse. Just because you think your latest weekend special offer is the best thing since a fried breakfast, don't be tempted to have everybody at the village cricket match in the morning share it. The whole point of social media is that it is transparent, your visitors will spot if the whole on Newark-On-Trent suddenly start liking your mid-week two for one offer...

At the end of the day your objective should be to bring new custom to your business and fresh sales from existing customers. Sometimes it's tempting to shout too loud, but in the long run social media is an endurance sport, not a sprint.

So:-

Good – Be patient and honest
Great – offer content both on Facebook and your website which has relevance and appeal
Bad – Buying likes, enticing like and/or shares. You'll simply look untrustworthy.

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