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  • Dark Social: What It Is and How To Deal With It

    The Dark Ages, the dark side of the moon, fear of the dark… What do all of these references to the dark have in common? Ignorance, or the unknown. And that’s exactly what dark social is all about. Dark social refers to the ubiquitous practice of sharing content privately; that is, not sharing something openly via social media, where shares can be tracked by companies, but instead, cutting and pasting links or even whole blog posts into emails to send them to friends. This creates a dark spot for businesses and marketers trying to keep tabs on where their web traffic is coming from, and which content is encouraging engagement. And this dark spot is significant. According to a June 2016 report from RadiumOne, 82 percent of content shared on mobile is shared through dark social – via messaging apps, email, or text. That’s up from less than 50 percent in 2014. And although we’re all very familiar with Facebook’s “share” button, it turns out we don’t use it as often as we might think. Just 13 percent of content on mobile is shared via Facebook, and 10 percent on all other social networks. Worst of all, sometimes, in all…

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  • How to Market a Resort or Vacation Destination Online

    The travel industry has perhaps the greatest potential to grow and market online. Sadly, most hotels and resorts treat online marketing very much like they do traditional marketing – they setup a brochure website, and then forget about it. To truly engage an audience and sell more rooms, you need to look at web marketing as a living, breathing, entity. These online marketing tips don’t apply to local motels which would be best served by billboards and local marketing. Instead, I want to focus on true vacation destination hotels and resorts. Places people research and book in advance. Get the Basics Right – I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. No amount of marketing will make up for a poor product or service. If the rooms are dirty or checking in is a hassle, don’t expect marketing to make up for it. Of all the things people talk about online, hotels top the list. Do yourself a favor, take a percentage of your marketing every month, and use it to better the customer experience. Provide Tongue Candy – No, not mints at the front desk. But, stories that people will repeat when they go back home. I…

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  • Social Media Optimization – 10 Important Factors for 2016

      From years of executing SEO and SEM campaigns, I am now more than ever seeing the parallels of  social media and SEO/SEM as well as how they all work together. Ten years ago, business owners thought their only option to improve their SEO was stuffing their meta tags and submitting their site to 1,000 search engines. Similar to SEO and SEM, business owners now realize it’s not enough to just plug the social media hole because they read in some business magazine it was needed. A new phrase has joined the lexicon of business buzz words, and rightfully so, showing a more sophisticated marketer: Social Media Optimization. You should not have a social media campaign for your business just because everyone else is doing. CEOs, marketers, entrepreneurs are now seeking solutions to optimizing their social media marketing campaigns. What do I mean by Social Media Optimization? I’m not Shama. I didn’t write the book on social media and I’m not a social media speaker. My name is Angela and although I have been blogging since 2001 and have been learning online marketing since 2005, my main area of expertise is SEM/SEO.  The reason I say this is I don’t…

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  • Shama TV: Make Your Facebook Feed Work for You

    Well, it’s Monday again, and that means it’s time for another episode of Shama TV! This week Shama gives you five ways to make your Facebook feed better, so you can lose all those updates you don’t want and get more of what you do. (Scroll down for a full transcript.) 3xw Hey Zen Nation, Shama here! Are you frustrated with Facebook? Help is here! Today, I have five ways to optimize your Facebook feed to see more of what you want and less of what you don’t. The biggest complaint I hear about Facebook is this: “Help! my feed sucks! I never see posts from my closest friends but I often see things I have no interest in.” So, how do you fix it? Well, first you have to understand how Facebook works. It uses a complex algorithm to determine what to show you on your news feed when you log in. And it makes the determination with the things you tell it. So here are 5 things you can tell Facebook of what you want to see more off. Number 1. It’s all about engagement! So engage with the things you want to see more off. Don’t click…

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  • 4 Secret Facebook Advertising Features You Didn’t Know Existed

    Did you know 92% of marketers take advantage of Facebook advertising? Facebook advertising is not going away; in fact, it’s only becoming more powerful. The advertising dollars put towards this platform each year increased from $4.28 billion in 2012 to a projected $14.27 billion in 2015. We’ve had years of experience harnessing the potential of Facebook ad campaigns for our clients and have seen first hand the success that the perfect strategy can bring. We’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, which features to make full use of, and which to avoid. Today, we’re here to let you in on a few of our secrets. Check out these four features you can start using to boost your online marketing today. 1. Specific Retargeting Most advertisers are aware of Facebook’s audience pixels that are placed on the homepage of your website to track visitors. These pixels create custom audiences, allowing you to retarget visitors on your website through an ad. What most users don’t know is that you can zero in on these visitors even further. For example, you have the option to target visitors of specific pages on your website, visitors of certain pages but not others, and even visitors…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Changes to Google Authorship & A New Way to Re-Tweet

    SEO: Google is bringing about some serious change to authorship in its search results. Previously, underneath the URL of a result, Google would show the name of the author, the author’s profile photo, and his or her circle count on Google+. Now, the photo and circle count will be dropped, apparently to make the design look less cluttered. A representative stated that click-through rates with the less-cluttered look are around the same, though that remains to be seen. Google is beginning to process and remove approved page submissions through the Right To Be Forgotten Form. Right To Be Forgotten is a ruling made by the European Court of Justice in May which declares that EU citizens could request for search engines to remove links to pages deemed private, though the pages themselves will continue to exist on the Internet. Hundreds of thousands of pages are estimated to have been submitted since the ruling. Technology: Amtrak will soon be working on implementing its own high-speed wifi network for passengers on its Northeast Corridor lines, which travel between Boston, New York, and Washington DC. Amtrak’s current network offers speeds of 10 Mbps, and the improvements would boost that to a minimum of…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Amazon’s Fire Phone, Updated Google AdWords Policies

    SEO: Google AdWords will be receiving an update to its Policy Center in September, with the search engine claiming that policies will be streamlined to provide more transparency into why they exist and what advertisers can do to comply with them. Most advertisers aren’t likely to be affected by the change, though Google points out that there will be new restrictions put in place regarding weapons, tobacco and fireworks, all of which will fall under a new Dangerous Content policy. At the SMX Advanced event this week, Google’s head of search spam announced that the search engine will be revising its rejection notices for reconsideration requests so that, in some cases, they contain more detail. A screenshot of one such notice shows a new section titled “A note from your reviewer,” followed by specific advice that would help a webmaster to prevent further manual action from Google. Social Media: In a not-so-surprising move, Facebook has launched a new, Snapchat-like mobile app with features that allow users to trade photo and video messages. The app, named Slingshot, does possess a unique quirk, however—users may only view incoming messages after responding to them with his or her own photo or video. This…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Facebook Ad Profiles and TweetDeck’s Security Flaw

    SEO: Bing’s Ad team is rolling out a new, much-requested feature: auto-tagging for ad destination URLs. When UTM tags are added to destination URLs on ads, the performance metrics will flow into Google Analytics. Auto-tagging is also supported by the Bing Ads API. Now, advertisers will no longer have to manually tag URLs or rely on a third-party solution when uploading new ads to Bing Ads campaigns. Social Media: Facebook has announced that it will give users access to the dossiers of likes and interests which the social media platform keeps about them. Additionally, users will be able to change, add, or delete information in those files, as well as indicate which types of ads they would prefer to see. At the moment, Facebook gets its information for targeted advertising from users’ likes and shared content. Soon, though, the company will tap data that it already collects from people’s smartphones and other websites they visit to target advertisements. Twitter’s chief operating officer has resigned, and his position will not be replaced as the microblogging platform’s CEO seeks more direct involvement with the company’s engineering and product teams. The COO’s responsibilities will be shifted to other executives. No reason was given…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Twitter’s Financial Renaissance and Apple’s Smart House

    SEO: In what’s turned out to be a piece of non-news, a Google spokesperson has recently refuted speculation about updates to the Penguin algorithm by confirming that the search engine is not currently working on new Penguin or spam efforts.  The company’s response follows claims from SEOs about drastic changes in search results, especially concerning previously penalized sites. Although Google is denying that they’ve made any changes to their algorithms, webmasters whose sites are experiencing ranking changes are hesitant to believe that. Google’s head of search spam released a video this week to address a very specific SEO question: how does the search engine handle one page that has two links that lead to the same page? He answered by saying that PageRank flows to each link individually, just as it would for any other link on the page. Additionally, the treatment of anchor text may vary with time. In 2009, Google only counted the anchor text for the first link, but that may not necessarily be true today. Technology: According to a new report, Apple is planning on introducing a new smart home concept at its upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference. The company’s supposed plan is to showcase a system…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Snapchat Settlement and Twitter Languages

    SEO: Facebook announced App Links at the F8 Conference. What are App Links? App Links already exist, but are fairly difficult and called mobile deep linking. Mobile deep linking works differently for different platforms like iOS and Android. Facebook already uses App Links in its own apps.   Facebook, as part of the open source program, wants to make it easier for developers to circumvent an app having to open a browser to show an Instagram picture in a messenger, for example. Ideally, the picture would open up easy as one, two, three in Instagram, skipping the browser altogether.  This could also be a game changer for mobile advertising. Social Media: Twitter has introduced language targeting this week. Why is this exciting? Because now you can chose the language you prefer to target promoted tweets and accounts in. Language targeting will be available in 20 different languages. Twitter offers more than just language to their advertisers: “For instance, a travel brand that wants to reach Spanish-speaking travelers in the U.S. can combine U.S. geo-targeting, travel-category interest targeting and Spanish language targeting to effectively connect with their target audience.” Snapchat, a popular messaging app, has settled with the Federal Trade Commission after…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Project Ara and Nearby Friends

    SEO: The head of Google’s search spam team addressed the biggest myths he sees today in the SEO industry. The most notable myth, apparently, is that people believe Google makes changes to search results solely to make more money for themselves by coercing people into buying ads. On the contrary, choosing or not choosing to buy ads has no impact on a website’s rankings. What’s more, Google doesn’t make changes to their organic algorithms with the intention of selling ads. Google, in the last year, launched the carousel interface, intending to better distribute content from their Knowledge Graph. Now, the company is testing something new: showing ads from paid Google Shopping results in that carousel interface. For example, a search for laptops will bring up a carousel that features different laptops from a variety of vendors. Social Media: Facebook is back in the news, and this time it’s not for another multi-billion dollar acquisition. The world’s largest social network announced a new feature for its core product this week: Nearby Friends. As the name suggests, the feature will let users see which of their Facebook friends are in physical proximity to them. Nearby Friends will work on iOS and Android…

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  • Hybrid Content Marketing Will Change the Way You Do Business on Facebook

    Today, we here at Marketing Zen are excited to bring you a blog post from contributing author Jim Belosic.  Jim Belosic is the co-founder and CEO of ShortStack, a software application company that makes apps for Facebook, websites and mobile.   In the past few years, content marketing has become the hottest form of marketing out there. But make no mistake: Content marketing is not hot because it’s trendy, it’s hot because it works. For the last year or so, my company, ShortStack, has relied solely on content marketing. My decision to shift away from advertising and toward content marketing was based on one simple idea: I’d rather invest my company’s hard-earned dollars into awesome people instead of in ads that died as soon as I stopped funding them. People have the ability to produce thought-provoking and informative blog posts, infographics, PDFs and eBooks that will live on the web forever once published. My favorite metaphor is that the content my team produces functions like solar-powered cars, while ads are like gas-guzzlers. Original content contributes to better search result rankings and also has the power to establish brand representatives within the company as experts in our industry. These are all the things I…

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