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"How to 'Socialize' Your Way to Improved
     Search Engine Placement!"


Looking for new ways to get improved search engine placement for
your web site? Then maybe you should spend a little more time
socializing online!

I'm talking about getting more active on social media web sites
like MySpace ( http://www.myspace.com ), Flickr
( http://www.flickr.com ), and Digg ( http://www.digg.com ).

Sure, these sites might be the online hangouts where people like
to goof off during their "down time" at work...

But they're also extremely popular web sites with high Google
PageRank numbers -- and if you can get links on these sites to
point to your site, it might get driven to the top of the search
engine results page for your keywords!

In a recent newsletter
( http://www.marketingtips.com/newsletters/?article=art_august06b ),
I talked about how creating a keyword-rich article and
distributing it on the Web can improve your ranking in the
free search engines.

It's an easy way to get relevant sites linking back to you, and
it doesn't cost you a dime!

Well, posting content on the social media sites is another great
way to achieve these same goals. It's just that the type of
sites -- and the type of content you post on them -- are
different.

And the best part about this strategy is that it involves
hanging out at fun sites you'd probably enjoy spending time at,
anyway!

But before I show you how to "socialize" your way to improved
search engine placement, let's take a closer look at exactly
what social media web sites are.


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Discover how these popular online hangouts can lead to
improved search engine placement!

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These days, social media sites are HUGE! In fact, they make up
five of the top 10 fastest-growing Web brands on the Internet,
according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

And this explosive growth isn't likely to end anytime soon.

So if people are hanging out on these sites in ever-expanding
numbers, don't you want to be there too? Just like in the
offline world, "location, location, location" is the key to
success!

Now, there's been a pretty big buzz around the phrase "social
media" lately. But what exactly does it mean?

Social media sites are simply online gathering places where
people share interesting, entertaining, informative, or just
plain *goofy* content with each other.

This content can take many different forms. It can be...

    * Personal information in the form of blogs
   
    * Useful articles about anything and everything

    * Photos or video clips that people might get a kick out of
      watching

    * Collections of bookmarks to favorite online articles or
      web sites that people can check out for themselves

Members of these communities can comment on each other's
contributions, engage in discussions, and find other people who
are interested in the same things they are.

Hanging out and participating at these sites can be a great way
to make new online friends or business contacts.

It's also an effective strategy you can use to drive more
traffic to your business site -- not only from the social media
sites themselves, but also from the improved search engine
placement you'll get from having more high-PageRank links
pointing to your web site!

Social media sites can be organized into a few main categories:

    * Social networking sites: These sites are basically online
      communities that connect people through networks of
      friends.

      MySpace ( http://www.myspace.com )is the Internet’s most-
      visited social networking community. On their profile
      pages, MySpace users can describe their interests, upload
      pictures, post blog-style entries, and list the other
      MySpace users who have become their friends.

      They can even post audio and video clips to share with
      other people!
     
      Independent musicians and bands were the first group to
      take advantage of the interactive nature of MySpace to
      get their product out there.
     
      They found they could attract devoted followings by
      posting audio clips of their latest songs and updating
      fans on their concert schedules.

      This has been a big hit with teenagers and
      twentysomethings, who come to the site to learn more
      about the bands who are poised to be the next "big
      thing."

      But MySpace isn't just for the teen scene anymore! Even
      professionals like financial planners and lawyers have
      started networking and community-building on MySpace.

      The fact is, people in pretty much any field can gain
      more exposure by creating a MySpace page. And the great
      thing is, it's free!

      So set up an account for yourself, start
      networking and adding other people in your industry to
      your "friends" list, and make your name and web site
      visible on these wildly popular sites.

      And don't forget to link to your business site in your
      profile!

      If you're interested in exploring other popular social
      networking sites, some of the top ones include:
      Friendster ( http://www.friendster.com ), Facebook
      ( http://www.facebook.com ), and Linkedin
      ( http://www.linkedin.com ).

    * Social bookmarking sites: At social bookmarking sites,
      people save links to their favorite web sites or
      articles -- just like you do with the "Favorites" or
      "Bookmarks" function in your own personal web browser
      (e.g., Internet Explorer or Firefox).

      When you save your favorite links at a bookmarking site
      like del.icio.us ( http://del.icio.us ), they become
      public and can be viewed by other members of the site.

      You can also "tag" your links with descriptive keywords,
      so people have a better idea of what kind of content
      your links are pointing to.

      To learn what we mean by tagging, check out the blog
      post I wrote on it a few months ago at
    
http://blog.marketingtips.com/derek/2006/06/how_a_game_of_tag_can_direct_s.html

      Tagging your bookmarks is useful in another important
      way: When people use the site's internal search engine to
      look for bookmarks on a particular topic, any ones that
      are tagged with keywords related to that topic will
      appear in the search results.
     
      The more an article or a web site gets bookmarked by
      members of these sites, the higher it ranks in the search
      results.

      So if you include an appropriately tagged link to your
      own site (or to an article you've written) in your
      bookmarks list, and a lot of other members add it to
      their bookmarks as well, your link will be seen by a lot
      more people searching for your keywords.

      And if your link becomes really popular, it might even
      end up on the bookmark site's homepage -- which will
      generate a TON of traffic and incoming links to your
      web site!

      Okay, so that's the "Holy Grail" of using bookmarking
      sites as a traffic-generating strategy... and the
      chances of it happening are actually quite slim.

      But even just ONE link from a top bookmarking site like...
     
      - Digg ( http://www.digg.com )
      - del.icio.us ( http://del.icio.us )
      - Netscape ( http://www.netscape.com )
      - Reddit ( http://www.reddit.com )
      - Furl ( http://www.furl.net )
     
      ... will boost your site's value in the eyes of the
      search engines.

      So why not spend the few minutes it takes to create an
      account on these sites and give it a shot?

      After you set up an account, list a few of your favorite
      sites as bookmarks, making sure to also include links to
      YOUR web site or articles. And don't forget to make them
      public, so others can view your favorites as well.

    * Media-sharing sites: Have you ever checked out the latest
      videos at YouTube ( http://www.youtube.com ), or the most
      popular pictures at Flickr ( http://www.flickr.com )?

      These web sites have been taking the Internet by storm,
      with everyone rushing to upload their favorite cat
      videos, or photos from their vacation, or latest business
      conference pictures. But you can also find things like
      real estate "virtual tour" videos being uploaded and
      viewed.

      So if you’re a real estate agent, a great way to increase
      your market visibility would be to get an account, upload
      a video tour of a listing, and then tag it with
      appropriate keywords.

      Anyone who's searching for video info on real estate in
      your area will probably come across your video tour --
      and learn about you in the process!

      Online video and photo-sharing sites have been growing by
      leaps and bounds, and they also show no signs of slowing
      up.

      The top video sites include...
      - YouTube ( http://www.youtube.com ), and
      - Google Video ( http://video.google.com )
     
      While the most popular photo-sharing web sites are...
      - Flickr ( http://www.flickr.com ), and
      - Fotolog ( http://www.fotolog.com )

    * Wiki sites: A wiki is a type of web site that lets ALL
      its users update the site’s content.

      Every visitor to a wiki web site can add to, delete, or
      edit the site's content, creating a sort of living web
      page full of fresh perspectives and up-to-the-minute
      information from multiple users.

      Take Wikipedia.org, the Web's biggest and best-known wiki
      ( http://www.wikipedia.org ): It's an online encyclopedia
      that allows users to update its database of entries on
      everything from historical figures, to technical terms,
      to world events.

      So by creating an account at Wikipedia, you can start
      making changes to existing articles, or add completely
      new articles related to your industry or area of
      expertise and grow your reputation as an expert in your
      field!

      Plus, you can look for suitable opportunities to include
      links to your own web site or articles in the entries
      you edit.

      For example, at the end of every Wikipedia article is a
      section called "External links." If you write an entry on
      a term related to your product or industry, and your web
      site can help people learn more about this topic, you can
      include a link back to your site!

      One thing, though: Since other users can also edit your
      entry -- as well as the links you've included -- the link
      to your web site must be relevant, or else it will likely
      be removed by another member of the community.


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How to attract the most eyeballs by posting attention-
grabbing content on social media sites

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Take a moment to think about what people do when they're
sitting in front of their computer at work and want to take
a quick mental break...

If they're one of the millions of people who like hanging out
at bookmarking sites, maybe they'll pop over to Digg to see
what the daily top bookmarks are.

Now... which headline do you think they'll be more likely to
click on?

"Chirac Urges World Powers Not to Refer Iran to Security
Council"

-- or --

"How to Roast Coffee at Home With a Popcorn Popper"


My bet is on the latter, because it sounds like a fun way to
waste a couple of minutes and learn an unusual skill -- and
besides, what office worker doesn't love coffee?

Now imagine if you ran a small coffee-roasting business -- just
think about the kind of exposure an article could get you, if it
were featured on Digg's homepage.

The trick to creating fun social media content that spreads
through the Internet like wildfire (going "viral," as it's
called) is to write entertaining articles that are short,
compelling, and eye-catching.

First, write a headline that grabs readers' attention and tells
them exactly how your article is going to help or entertain
them. Then keep your piece short, easy to scan, and fun to read.

In fact, lists are often some of the most popular articles on
social bookmarking sites. People who visit these sites are
usually looking to waste a few minutes online, and they don't
want to read a bunch of heavy text.

That's why lists are so great! They're easy to format and quick
to read, and don't waste any time getting to the punchline.

Media-sharing sites like Flickr ( http://www.flickr.com )and
YouTube ( http://www.youtube.com ) obviously need different
content because they're dealing with video and images. But the
same principle of creating short, snappy, and entertaining
content still applies.

Many of the most popular videos on YouTube, for example, are
short compilations of funny video clips -- like you see on the
TV show "America's Funniest Home Videos."

But content that's entertaining AND solves people's problems can
also be effective. "How-to" videos that teach people a specific
skill are extremely popular in certain markets.

Now I'm sure many of you are thinking, "How am I supposed to
create an entertaining article or video when I sell a boring
product like widgets?"

The truth is, there are thousands of ways to create entertaining
content for these sites -- if you use your imagination.

Here are some examples and ideas to get you started:

    * Compile an entertaining or informative list related to
      your industry: One of the most popular September stories
      on the tech-oriented Digg ( http://www.digg.com ) is
      titled "112 Windows Run Commands."

      The article is simply a list of shortcuts that will help
      Microsoft Windows users save a lot of time -- and people
      obviously liked the article, because it's already received
      2,363 "diggs," or votes, from Digg users!

      And just think about how many of these people emailed the
      article to their friends!

      If you ran a web site that sold computer software, can you
      imagine what kind of traffic your site would have received
      if you had created and submitted this article yourself?

    * Take existing content in your newsletter or blog and
      repackage it for social media sites: You probably already
      have valuable content on hand that you've written for
      your site's newsletter or blog.

      Simply tweak this existing content to make it short and
      scannable, and re-use it on the social media sites!

      Spend some time thinking up a snappy headline, because
      that's the biggest factor in getting people to click on
      your article. And don't forget to tag it with popular and
      appropriate keywords.

    * Create a funny compilation video: Let's say you sell a
      relatively specialized product, like baby shoes. One
      thing you could do would be to run a contest on your web
      site where the person who submits the funniest baby video
      wins a free pair of shoes.

      After you've chosen a winner, simply string all of the
      best entries into a single video.

      Then upload your video to YouTube ( http://www.youtube.com )
      or Google Video ( http://video.google.com )with the tags
      "funny" and "baby" -- and don't forget to include
      information about your web site.

      In fact, I just did a search at YouTube for the term
      "funny babies" and the first video in the search results
      page has been viewed 67,143 times in the last nine 
      months -- and the clip is only 10 seconds long!

      If 67,000 people had viewed your baby video in the last
      nine months -- with the URL to your business site clearly
      displayed at the end -- I can guarantee you'd be seeing a
      LOT more traffic.

      Remember: These don't have to be lengthy professional
      videos -- something filmed with a digital camera or even
      a cell phone works great!

    * Post an interactive product demonstration: Flickr
      ( http://www.flickr.com ) could be a great place for you
      to put up an interactive demonstration of your latest
      product.

      Just upload some images that show exactly how your product
      works or what it can be used for -- along with some
      descriptive text -- and let visitors post comments and
      questions about your demo.

      That way, you can use Flickr to promote your product AND
      receive honest feedback from potential or current users.

    * Promote offline events you've attended: You could also use
      Flickr to promote offline events you've attended.

      Simply putting up pictures of the people you met at the
      latest industry conference you attended can be a great
      way to develop a community of like-minded professionals.

      If you tag these pictures with the name of the event, it
      will be easy for other attendees to find your shots.

      You can even tell participants during the event where to
      go online to see the pictures, once it's all over -- that
      way, you're sure to get some hits as soon as the pictures
      are posted!

      And don't forget to include a link back to your web site
      or product page at the bottom of every photo you upload,
      as each of these will count as another incoming link that
      will help with improved search engine placement.


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The "dos" and "don'ts" of participating at social media sites

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WARNING: There's ONE IMPORTANT THING you have to remember when
using social media sites to get improved search engine placement
for your site!

And that's the fact that these are SOCIAL sites -- people don't
visit them expecting to be hit with a bunch of marketing
messages. So if you want to get links at these sites to point to
your own site, you have to do it SUBTLY.

Think about it... If you were at a party and somebody started
handing out business cards and immediately launched into a sales
pitch for his product, you'd try to get away, right?

Well it's the same thing on a social web site. That kind of
behaviour is considered highly unethical and inappropriate by
members of these communities.

On Digg ( http://www.digg.com ), for example, links will often
get voted down as spam if they're submitted by the person who
owns the site they point to.

And on del.icio.us ( http://del.icio.us ), if all of your
favorite links point ONLY to your web site, you'll lose all
your credibility, and no other users will add your links to
their own list of bookmarks.

So make sure that you're participating honestly and being
low-key about your business. Be sure you share other relevant
and entertaining links with the community, in addition to your
own products and articles.

Otherwise all your hard work creating content for these sites
will have been a waste of time.

Here are the main things you should be doing on social media
sites:

    * Do create a profile with a link back to your web site

    * Do tag your articles with relevant keywords

    * Do participate in the discussions to build your
      credibility

    * Do contribute to the growth and value of these sites by
      creating and submitting content that is entertaining and
      solves problems

    * Do get a good grasp of what's receiving attention on that
      specific site before submitting content

    * Do invite your friends to go online and vote for your
      links -- within reason, of course!

    * Do give your articles intriguing headlines that will get
      people to read further

    * Do be yourself -- these communities don't reward fakers

Here are a few things you shouldn't be doing on social media
sites:

    * Don't spam sites with links only to your own articles, or
      bookmarks pointing only to your site

    * Don't go overboard when encouraging friends to vote for
      your links -- organized "gangs" of voters often get
      discovered and "booed off" these sites

    * Don't submit boring or irrelevant content -- this will
      only hurt your reputation

    * Don't be there just to promote yourself -- nobody wants
      to be friends with people who are only out for themselves!

By following these rules, you'll become part of the online
community, and people will begin to value your opinion and see
you as a credible source of information.

This will allow you to become more powerful in the community,
and your links and articles will carry more weight than the
anonymous contributions of a new member.


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Final thoughts

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The key to getting the most out of these social web sites is to
start small. Check out a few of the different sites. Then choose
one or two that you enjoy hanging out at, and get a feel for the
communities.

By spending time at these sites, you'll discover what type of
information is popular, get tons of ideas for new articles, and
find out exactly what's on the minds of regular Internet users.

Eventually, start creating some valuable and interesting content
of your own, and submit it to these sites... then sit back and
see what happens!

By participating honestly and sharing some interesting links,
videos, or articles -- as well as providing links to your own
web site -- you might find that a lot of other people will start
linking to your articles and your business site.

The worst that can happen is you'll have some fun, meet some
interesting people, and learn a few things.

If you do things right, play by the rules, and create some fun
and interesting content, you'll be able to grow the number of
relevant links pointing to your site -- and that just might lead
to your ultimate goal of improved search engine placement!

So, have YOU ever posted links on social media sites as a way
to increase your traffic or get improved search engine ranking?
And if so, was the experience a success for you? Tell us about
it – we’d love to hear about YOUR marketing stories!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Derek Gehl specializes in teaching real people how to start profitable Internet businesses that make $100,000 to $2.5 Million (or more) per year. To get instant access to all his most profitable marketing campaigns, strategies, tools, and resources that he's used to grow $25 into over $60 Million in online sales, visit: http://www.marketingtips.com/tipsltr.html

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