Get Well Duck and Great Job on Social

My advertising and social media mind has been curious for a few days now about Aflac’s latest television ad campaign. I have to admit, they are doing a great job of getting people to take seeing their TV ad a step further and incorporating social media or client/potential customer involvement.Aflac Duck

Aflac, which is a supplemental insurance agency for individuals and groups, uses a duck as their company mascot/recognizable logo. The Aflac duck has been featured in various commercials and is used in the name of the company logo. Their creative team nailed the marketing slogan and mascot with the phrase, “We’ve got you under our wing.” It’s genius. You may have seen their TV commercial which starts with a doctor giving a press release about the Aflac duck being injured. The premise, to relate this to their offerings of supplemental insurance, is that the duck was in an accident. The doctor goes on to say that Aflac Duck has sustained a laceration to the wing and a fractured beak. The poor little guy will be out of work while in recovery. Luckily, with Aflac’s help they are paying his living expenses.

What the ad does as a way to stay social, is they give a link where you can send the duck a get well card. This gets the TV user away from the commercial and on to the website. Since my curiosity was piqued, I went to the web address, http://www.getwellduck.com, and I was automatically redirected to a Facebook page. I was expecting a website page and not a Facebook fan page. You don’t have to sign up for an app or even like the fan page to send a card. The card creator allows you to choose a background, and image, and you can also include a personal message. This is great social media involvement.

At first I was surprised there wasn’t a website or a landing page from the Aflac website. However, I like that the company isn’t pushing their website traffic on me and they are keeping this social, light, and fun. I think this extra step taken makes the company seem more personal and less corporate. It is important for other businesses to follow their lead. People are more likely to relate to a person, in this case a duck or mascot, than they are a corporate logo.

Author: Krystle Green is the Vice President of ArteWorks SEO, a full service search engine optimization firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about SEO, SEM, or social media please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

That Photo Was Private

Zuckerburg made headlines today, but it wasn’t Mark we are reading about. His sister Randi caused a viral storm without realizing it after posting a family photo on her Facebook account. This poses an interesting question about the privacy policies in regards to Facebook photo posting. Are Facebook’s privacy settings confusing? Facebook undergoes a lot of changes and the privacy settings are no stranger to the updates. There are privacy loopholes that users, including Randi Zuckerburg, have fallen victim too.

Randi posted a family photo from Christmas of the Zuckerburg’s to her Facebook account. She was under the impression that the family photo was only viewable by her friends. She had tagged people in the photo which then, by default, made the picture appear in those peoples’ timelines. A lot of Facebook users’ do this with pictures they post of friends. Once you tag someone and the picture is posted on their timeline, the image is no longer private especially if the user doesn’t use privacy settings. This is what happened in Randi’s case. A friend of the person she tagged was able to view the photo, and she posted it to her Twitter account (of which she has 40,000 followers).

Randi tweeted at the user and was furious that her private photo went public. A few tweets were exchanged and deleted…however we all know once a tweet is seen it isn’t always deleted permanently especially when people use third party applications such as Tweetdeck. The story of the private family photo and the image itself went viral.

If a Facebook employee doesn’t even understand the privacy settings, how is the average user viewing these settings as well? Are the privacy settings too confusing? I wonder if there will be another Facebook update after this photo fiasco.

This controversy isn’t just happening on Facebook. Instagram is also under pressure from its users about picture privacy guidelines. If you post pictures to a social network, who really owns the rights to the pictures? Privacy policy should be clear for all users to comprehend. As a user of different social networks, it is important to take your own precautions. Especially in regards to private messages, status updates, and pictures. Once something is posted online, it is there forever. Not only should private users take precautions, but this is an important lesson for corporations to follow as well.

About the Author: Krystle Green is the Vice President of ArteWorks SEO, a full service search engine optimization company located in Austin, TX. For more information about social media, SEM, or SEO Austin please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

How Social Media Has Forever Changed the Way We Do Business

Social Media has only been around for a short 10 years, but has already drastically changed the way we advertise and operate online. Facebook became one of the first social media vehicles to give companies, big and small, a chance to connect and interact with their target market. Social media has helped turn advertising from a one-way marketing vehicle to an actual dialogue between customer and corporation.

Now that the consumers have a voice in the media, companies are learning quickly that one wrong step can lead to a less than savory public outcry. While consumers have historically learned to stand up to corporations when they feel there is a perceived injustice, it’s becoming easier with the help of social media. Both Bank of America and Verizon learned that lesson when they made extreme changes to their policies that negatively affected their customers.

That’s when one 23-year old tweeter became a hero of the people, when she refused to accept Bank of America’s proposed $5 monthly fee on its debit-card accounts and she wasn’t alone in her distaste for the idea. She drew in over 300,000 signatures last October opposing the change after blogging about changes.

While some may think deeming these small victories as successful “twitter uprisings,” they’re missing the point of how social media is playing into our day-to-day lives and our ability to communicate our concerns with large corporations with a simple 140-character tweet. Could you imagine if those 300,000 petitioners had instead switched banks after the $5 monthly fee was imposed? Bank of America would have to devote tens of thousands of marketing dollars just to reacquire their lost and dissatisfied customers. What’s more important is to note the number of customers that would have been permanently turned off by the company, those that couldn’t be bought back with even the most desirable introduction rates and marketing tactics.

While some companies may fear the shift of power from corporation to consumer, the smart businesses are learning to take advantage of these social media vehicles to connect with their consumers. “Friending” and following your consumers is a great way to get to know their thoughts and feelings, not only on a demographic base, but for their qualitative feedback that they so readily provide. These are the kinds of comments and reviews that companies pay to gather in focus groups and consumer interviews. The companies on the forefront of social media are learning to appreciate their consumer feedback. They are utilizing social media to keep their customers happy and gage how they should be operating their business. Combining an active social media campaign with an already intensive search engine optimization austin campaign is one of the best ways to not only keep your business on the top of the search engines, but to keep your customers as satisfied as possible.

About the Author: Allison Schnur is the Marketing Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Austin SEO firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about our top rated search engine optimization company please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

Part 2 of 2: Google SEO Starter Guide Recap

Google recently released an updated version of their Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. Part 1 of this 2 part series discussed important on page elements such as title tags, meta descriptions, and url structure. Below you will find more important information from Google’s SEO starter guide.

Quality content and services
While keyphrase density is a myth, there should be rich, unique text content present on the home page, and the text should be relevant to and contain at least one of your desired keyphrases. It tells the search engines what your site is about. People will be more likely to link to you if you provide interesting or informative content. As Google puts it, “organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site’s reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content.”

The trusted “alt” attribute
Do not miss out on opportunities to optimize images. Search engines do not read images so it is your job to tell them what they are looking at when your site is being crawled. The “alt” attribute is also useful if an image doesn’t appear on a user’s browser because the user can read what the missing image is supposed to be. The Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide shares a helpful tip: store images in a single directory and use the most common supported filetypes. This becomes especially important if you use images as links. Image “alt” attributes help you get found in blended search results and should relate to the theme of your page. They are also a good way of helping the search engines ascertain the content of your site, and relevancy to particular keyphrase searches.

Heading Tags
Heading tags, or tags, should be used to highlight keyphrases, they will catch the users’ eyes and should only be used when/where appropriate. They should be used to highlight major themes/keyphrases of each page and should be included at least once on each page.

The importance of a nofollow
Using a rel=nofollow will not bleed any of your site’s page rank. This is very useful for sites or blogs that allow user comments. Linking to bad neighborhoods or having them link to you will hurt your ranking (another reason not to be involved with link exchanges).

Keep in mind that having a fully optimized site is not enough to get you ranked on the first page of Google or other search engines. There is more to it than that. Off page work and leveraging social media is just as important for your SEO strategy. I like how Google puts it, “While most of the links to your site will be gained gradually, as people discover your content through search or other ways and link to it, Google understands that you’d like to let other know about the hard work you’ve put into your content.”

About the Author: Krystle Green is the Vice President of ArteWorks SEO, a full service search engine optimization firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about SEO, SEM, or social media please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

Part 1 of 2: Google SEO Starter Guide Recap

Google recently released an updated version of their Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. I believe that Google has released this document for the purpose of keeping people away from snake oil SEO and to keep website owners in compliance with Google’s terms of service.

While there are no surprises in this document, it is important to reiterate to those website owners who may believe in myths. Google has made it clear as to the ranking factors. They have also updated the guide to incorporate the importance of social media.

In the document, Google states that, “search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website.” SEO is not all about on page elements but the blend of on page and off page elements. The importance of on page optimization starts with a few elements of html, including title tags, meta descriptions, alt attributes and such.

To fully understand SEO you should first know how and what you are achieving. Google says it best in their starter guide, “search engine optimization affects only organic search results, not paid or ‘sponsored’ results such as Google AdWords.” A prospective client told me that he used pay per click (PPC) and thought that Google would rank him higher because he was paying them every month. That is a myth that had to be revealed. Paying Google for PPC does not affect your organic ranking.

Here are some of the on page elements that Google says will help make your site more visible on their search engine and easier to crawl.

Unique title tags
I often see that a client’s site who is just starting SEO is not optimized. One of the first problems I see is that the site has duplicate title tags or only the business name. Duplicate content is an issue in and of itself but to only have the business name is more of a problem. Most users do not search on Google for a specific business unless they are researching the business. How would anyone know that Fake Business Inc. was selling a fake product unless they searched with the keyphrase “fake product.” Search engines are smart but you have to tell them what they are looking at so they know how to rank you.

Meta descriptions

Another problem I often see is clients simply listing their keyphrases in the meta descriptions. Your meta description is like an advertisement. It is usually what appears in the search engines and draws people in. The description should use persuasive language that also contains your target keyphrases for that page. Having an optimized meta description is an opportunity to connect with your customers on the search engine results page. The same philosophy for interior page title tags applies to interior page meta descriptions.

URL structures
Google stats that you should, “provide one version of a URL to reach a document.”  We had a prospective client tell us he had bought 10-15 different URLs in hopes he would rank higher. He used a different keyword in each URL, did not use a 301 redirect, and only had a link on the site hoping people would click through to the main site. Needless to say he was nowhere to be found on the search engines for his desired keyphrase. We politely told him to stop wasting money on more urls. Some prospective clients do not think it is important to inform us if they own different domains with identical content. The problem is that there will be a split of link building which could negatively affect their position on the search engines.

About the Author: Krystle Green is the Vice President of ArteWorks SEO, a full service search engine optimization firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about SEO, SEM, or social media please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.