When you’re set on a goal, don’t forget about the journey

My day at Jump’13 got off to a great start with an inspiring presentation from our friend, Andrew Hood of Lynchpin on Tag Mismanagement. Reading between the lines of what Andrew had to say set me thinking about some of the key challenges we face today in marketing, and mistakes that are all to easy to make.

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Twitter trends go local…

Twitter’s Trending Topics list may or may not be useful to you. While they can often be helpful in spotting breaking news events and the hot topics of the day, they’re also notoriously associated with spam.

In an effort to make them more relevant to users, Twitter yesterday rolled out Local Trends functionality for all Twitter users.

With a few clicks, users can opt to view Local Trends instead of the global Trending Topics that are displayed by default. Currently, Twitter offers Local Trends for six countries (Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, the UK and the US). It also offers Local Trends for 15 individual cities (14 of them in the US).

The announcement on the Twitter blog details what Twitter is trying to accomplish and where it is taking Local Trends:

Local Trends will allow you to learn more about the nuances in our world and discover even more relevant topics that might matter to you. We’ll be improving this feature over time to provide more locations, languages, and data through our API.

While I’m not all that excited about being able to view Twitter’s Local Trends on the Twitter site (or pull them through the API), the addition of richer geographic and language functionality to the API could be very important for Twitter. It’s not hard to see the ways in which developers could take advantage of this to build interesting applications. For instance, it might be interesting to see what links people are sharing in a particular city. And I’m sure there are cool ways local businesses could more easily connect with customers and potential customers in their area using Twitter.

That thought raises an even bigger question: as Twitter becomes more geographically aware, when will it pull the trigger on incorporating geography into a business model? A lot of people have tried to build local business models online. From news to classifieds, success has often been hard to find. Twitter, however, might just find that local is its sweet spot. I for one would like to see it explore this area further. Hopefully, Local Trends is only the start of even greater experimentation in this area.

Photo credit: Brood_wich via Flickr.

Search Engine Optimisation – the basics explained…

As the internet grows exponentially each day, it becomes harder to gain recognition as a small business owner. Having to compete with large corporations that possess seemingly infinite advertising funds is a difficult task to say the least. In fact, it would be literally impossible without a thorough knowledge in search engine optimisation. Search engines are responsible for more than 80 percent of the traffic distributed on the internet. If your site does not rank highly in the search engines, then there is simply no way you can become a formidable presence in your niche. There are many secrets to be learned before you can master the art of search engine optimisation, however learning the basics will give you the head start needed to compete with experts in the field.

Quality Content

When web surfers search for a phrase in a search engine, they are looking for an answer. The website that best solves this question, according to the search engine, will appear at the top of the search results. A search engine judges the usefulness of a website based on numerous factors. One of the ways search engines judge your site’s usefulness is the amount of time each visitor spends on each page. If your visitors only spend 30 seconds at your site before leaving, then the search engines will view your website’s content as relatively useless. Another way search engine’s judge the usefulness of your site is by calculating the number of links containing your website’s URL that exist on the internet. These links are called backlinks. The more backlinks in existence, the more useful your site appears to be. In order to boost your site’s search engine ranking, you’ll need to provide engaging content updated on a regular basis.

Keyword Optimisation

Simply having useful content is not enough. You want your content to be based on keywords that will attract attention for your niche. Try to remember that you are targeting search engine queries, so you’ll want to include key phrases within the content of your website. Before you begin writing or buying content for your site, you’ll want to do some keyword research. Find out what the most popular current search phrases are in your niche. You’ll also want to choose a keyword that is not over-saturated with competition. You can find out all of this information by using keyword research tools provided by Google. You can even find out what the hottest keywords of the day are by using Google Hot Trends. Once you have decided upon your keyword, it is important to use the proper keyword density. Search engines frown upon spam content that is littered with over-used keywords. You want your content to have a keyword density of about 1-3%.  Make sure you place the keyword in the beginning, middle and end of each article on your website. It is also important to include keywords in the design of your website, within title tags, meta tags, and even anchor text.

Getting Indexed

Once you have created your website and filled it with useful content, you’ll need to get the attention of the search engine crawlers. To do this you can submit your sitemap to Google and a few other popular search engines. You can also submit your site to a few popular online directories and social bookmarking sites. As your popularity increases the search engine crawlers will begin to notice your site, and eventually your site will be fully indexed. It is best to have a site that is heavy in basic text, as search engine crawlers index this kind of information more efficiently.