Microsoft Bing displaces Google in deal to provide search, ads on AOL websites

Bing Ming Yen Hsu Flickr


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Microsoft’s Bing division will provide search and search advertising capability for AOL’s portfolio of websites for the next 10 years, Microsoft announced today in a blog post. Previously, Google provided these services for AOL.

As a result of the deal, sales and trade marketing employees will go from Microsoft to AOL, whose sites include Engadget, Huffington Post, and TechCrunch. Bing-powered search will go into effect on Jan. 1, according to a statement from AOL.

Further, AOL will sell display, mobile, and video ads across Microsoft’s websites in nine countries.

Meanwhile, AppNexus will “become our exclusive programmatic technology and sales partner” in 10 countries, Rik van der Kooi, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of advertiser and publisher solutions, wrote in the blog post. Business will move from Microsoft to AppNexus in the months to come.

Bloomberg originally reported on the news, saying around 1,200 employees would be affected, but VentureBeat has heard from a source familiar with the matter that the number will be between 500 and 1,000.

The takeaway with this news — and the news earlier today about Bing mapping assets and employees going to Uber — is that Microsoft is doing less in some markets, in order to place more emphasis on on markets that are more strategically important.

Programmatic advertising and display advertising were not specifically cited in the sweeping email that Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella sent to employees last week. Here’s what he did say: “We will need to innovate in new areas, execute against our plans, make some tough choices in areas where things are not working and solve hard problems in ways that drive customer value.” The offloading of as many as 1,000 employees could certainly be called a “tough choice.”

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Airtable lands $7.6M round to help build simple, extensible database apps

This animated GIF shows how Airtable's consumer-friendly database works.


Airtable, an online database service whose motto is “organize everything,” has closed a $7.6 million series A round of funding. On top of that, it has also landed a Facebook executive.

The new executive is Francis Larkin, who spent five years in various marketing roles at Facebook, most recently as director of product marketing. He led the teams responsible for the first Facebook F8 conference, for implementing the “like” button, and the recent Instant Articles project, among other projects.

Airtable is aiming at an interesting, and potentially huge, niche: people who want to organize information with greater flexibility than Excel (or Google Sheets) affords, but who aren’t ready for the complexity of a database, SQL code, Python, PHP, and the like.

Airtable is based on a proprietary relational database, its co-founder and chief executive, Howie Liu, told me — but for the most part, consumer users won’t need to worry about that. It’s got a friendly, drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy to add fields (or columns, depending on whether you’re thinking in database or spreadsheet terminology), update and add records (rows), generate reports, and more. The app works on desktop web browsers and mobile browsers with equal ease.

And, like a Google Sheets document, values are updated in real time, instantly. If you and I are sharing a database and I update it with some new information, you’ll see the new data immediately, with no need to refresh.

Unlike Google Sheets, Airtable lets you easily create connections between different tables (as you can with a relational database), and you can mix and match different types of data — adding a photo field to your database alongside its text and numeric fields, for instance.

The goal, Liu said, is to support the creation of “apps of emergent complexity with very simple building blocks.” In other words, you could use Airtable to create something very simple, like a list of travel destinations you’d like to visit; or something very complex, like a homegrown customer relationship management system to help your salespeople coordinate and follow up on the most promising leads at different companies. Or your database app could start simply, and grow as you add more linked tables to support your expanding needs.

Because it is a proprietary database, Airtable doesn’t support the industry-standard SQL interface out of the box. However, it plans to support interoperability and extensibility via a custom API generator, enabling the apps you create in Airtable to exchange data with other apps via RESTful API calls.

You’ll have to wait for specific integrations, however: For instance, Liu said that connections to IFTTT and Zapier are coming soon, but aren’t yet available. It does currently support Evernote, but only in a limited way: You can attach a single Evernote note to an Airtable record, but as yet there is no way to import or integrate an entire Evernote notebook.

“The software revolution has given people access to millions of specialized apps, but there’s one fundamental tool that still remains out of reach for most non-programmers — the database,” Liu wrote in a blog post to be published today.

“If we can make databases as intuitive and accessible as word processors and spreadsheets, we believe we can unlock a new type of creativity with use cases yet to be dreamed and built.”

The funding was let by Charles River Ventures, with participation from a host of angels, including Kevin Mahaffey (cofounder and CTO of Lookout). Hollywood celebrity and Silicon Valley angel investor Ashton Kutcher is also an investor.

Kutcher also backed Liu’s previous startup, Etacts, which was acquired by Salesforce.com in January 2011. Liu says that Kutcher approached him after Liu presented his startup at a Y Combinator demo day. Although Liu may have been skeptical of the actor’s tech credibility, Kutcher rapidly proved his technical chops and utility as an advisor.

“I’d put him in the top quartile of investors in terms of savviness,” Liu told me.

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Elon Musk: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded because of ‘an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank’

The SpaceX CRS-7 explodes minutes after it launches on June 28.


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Houston, we have a SpaceX problem. Again.

The privately held company today attempted to send its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station to deliver cargo from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. But three minutes after launch, the rocket blew up.

Just before a NASA press conference to talk about this CRS-7 mission, SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk wrote on Twitter that there had been “an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank.”

For at least one reason, this is not good: An exploded rocket is a rocket that SpaceX can’t reuse — and that means the company has to spend money to build a new rocket. (Incidentally, today is Elon Musk’s 44th birthday.)

Two Microsoft HoloLens augmented-reality headsets were among the cargo headed up to the ISS, thanks to a new partnership between Microsoft and NASA. “@NASA we’re with you and ready to try again!” Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella wrote in a tweet. Also on board were food, water, a docking system, a space suit, students’ research projects, and other equipment.

“What I can tell you at this point is the first-stage flight remained nominal,” SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said during the press conference. “We do not expect to this to be a first-stage issue.” She did not provide any further detail about the explosion, other than that what happened at 10:21 a.m. Eastern was “an anomaly.”

“We must find the cause of the failure,” Shotwell said. “We must fix it.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has classified the incident as a “mishap” and has safety inspectors monitoring activity onsite, an FAA spokeswoman said during the press conference.

“Once we identify the issues, we will submit a document to the FAA,” Shotwell said. “It will be considered prior to the next flight. I don’t have a timeline for that right now. It certainly isn’t going to be a year — I imagine a number of months or so.”

Today’s incident follows a string of flawed SpaceX missions.

Three months ago, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket succeeded in launching but exploded as it landed vertically on SpaceX’s drone ship.

“Cause of hard rocket landing confirmed as due to slower than expected throttle valve response,” Musk noted on Twitter at the time.

The Falcon 9 also had a crash landing in January as it attempted a landing on the drone ship. And in February a SpaceX rocket came very close to landing on the drone ship but ultimately came down just 10 meters shy of it, heading right into the ocean.

SpaceX in January announced that it had raised $1 billion from Google, among others.

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With split nearly complete, PayPal expects to begin trading on July 20

PayPal


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Today eBay announced that it has nearly completed its spin-off of PayPal.

PayPal is expected to begin trading on July 20 under the symbol PYPL on the Nasdaq. In the announcement, eBay noted that in 2014, PayPal processed $235 billion in transaction volume, handling one billion mobile transactions. In total, PayPal raked in $8 billion in revenue last year.

EBay first announced plans to spin off PayPal in September of last year.

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The Biggest Social Media Science Study: What 4.8 Million Tweets Say About the Best Time to Tweet

Imagine removing all guesswork when you schedule your tweets, knowing the times that work for maximum clicks and maximum engagement.

As someone who shares frequently to social media, this info would be fantastic to have! We’re always eager to dig up new research into social media best practices—things like length and frequency and timing.

The timing element, in particular, feels like one where we’d love to dig deeper. And we just so happen to have a host of data on this from the 2 million users who have signed up for Buffer!

With a big hand from our data team, we analyzed over 4.8 million tweets across 10,000 profiles, pulling the stats on how clicks and engagement and timing occur throughout the day and in different time zones. We’d love to share with you what we found!

 

best time for twitter

The best time to tweet: Our 4.8 million-tweet research study

Our key learnings

Wow, we learned so much looking at the awesome stats from those who use Buffer! Here were some of the takeaways we came up with. I’d love to hear what catches your eye, too!

  • Early mornings are the best time to tweet in order to get clicks.
  • Evenings and late at night are the best time, on average, for total engagement with your tweets
  • In some cases, the most popular times to post are opposite of the best times to post.
  • Popular times and best times to tweet differ across time zones.

The most popular time to tweet:

Noon to 1:00 p.m.

We’ve taken the data from all tweets sent through Buffer to find the most popular times for posting to Twitter. Looking at all tweets sent across all major time zones, here is an overview of the most popular times to tweet.

  • Noon to 1:00 p.m. local time, on average for each time zone, is the most popular time to tweet
  • The highest volume of tweets occurs between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., peaking between noon and 1:00 p.m.
  • The fewest tweets are sent between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m.

Here’s the chart for the most popular times worldwide, taken from an average of 10 major time zones (the times represent local time).

Most Popular Time to Tweet Worldwide

Here is the graph for the most popular times to tweet in each of the four major U.S. time zones. 

Buffer social media science study - US popular times to tweet

(We normalized the data to account for daylight’s savings in the U.S. as well.)

Here are the charts for the major time zones in Europe and Africa.

Most Popular Time to Tweet Europe

(Note: The London (GMT) time zone used to be the default time zone for new Buffer users, so our data for GMT is not as clean as we would like it to be. We’ve omitted any takeaways for GMT from the research results here.)

Here are the charts for the major time zones in Asia and Australia.

Most Popular Time to Tweet Australia Asia

It’s interesting to see how the most popular time to tweet varies across the time zones. We’ve shared Buffer’s 10 most popular time zones in the charts above. Here’s a list of each most popular hour for the 10 major time zones.

  • Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. (Pacific Time): 9:00 a.m.
  • Denver (Mountain Time): noon
  • Chicago (Central Time): noon
  • New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, etc. (Eastern Time): noon
  • Madrid, Rome, Paris, etc. (Central European): 4:00 p.m.
  • Cape Town, Cairo, Helsinki, etc. (Eastern European): 8:00 p.m.
  • Sydney (Australian Eastern): 10:00 p.m.
  • Hong Kong (Hong Kong Time): 8:00 a.m.
  • Tokyo (Japan Time): 2:00 a.m.
  • Shanghai, Taipei, etc. (China Time): noon

For any clarification on this or the other research throughout this article, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll get right back to you.

Takeaways & thoughts:

  • The most popular time to post could be due to a number of factors: This is when most people have access to Twitter (perhaps at a work computer), this is when online audiences are most likely to be connected (see Burrito Principle), etc.
  • Should you post during the most popular times? That’s one possibility. Also, you may find success posting at non-peak times, when the volume of tweets is lower.
  • If you have a large international audience on Twitter, you may wish to locate the particular part of the world where they’re from, and adjust your schedule accordingly. You can find the times when your audience may be online with tools like Followerwonk and Crowdfire.

The best times to tweet to get more clicks

We were excited to dig into the specific metrics for each of these tweets, too, in hopes of coming up with some recommendations and best practices to test out for your Twitter strategy.

First up, the best time to tweet for clicks.

Looking at the data, we found the following trends for maximizing your chance to get more clicks:

  • Tweets sent between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. earn the most clicks on average
  • The highest number of clicks per tweet occurs between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., peaking between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m.
  • The fewest clicks per tweet happen in the morning (when tweet volume is particularly high), between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m..

The data in the below chart is the worldwide average, calculated for the local time in each time zone. So the peak at the 2:00 a.m. hour would hold true as the overall top time no matter which time zone you’re in—2:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, New York, Cape Town, Hong Kong, etc.Best Times to Tweet for Clicks Worldwide

 

For the specifics on each of the best time to tweet for clicks in each of the major time zones in Buffer, here’s a breakdown.

  • Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. (Pacific Time): 2:00 a.m.
  • Denver (Mountain Time): 7:00 p.m.
  • Chicago (Central Time): 2:00 a.m.
  • New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, etc. (Eastern Time): 11:00 p.m.
  • Madrid, Rome, Paris, Berlin, etc. (Central European): 2:00 a.m.
  • Cape Town, Cairo, Istanbul, etc. (Eastern European): 8:00 p.m.
  • Sydney (Australian Eastern): 2:00 a.m.
  • Hong Kong (Hong Kong Time): 5:00 a.m.
  • Shanghai, Taipei, etc. (China Time): noon
  • Tokyo (Japan Time): 8:00 a.m.

Best Times to Tweet for Clicks - by time zone

Takeaways & thoughts:

  • Clicks was far and away the largest engagement metric that we tracked in this study (compared to retweets, replies, and favorites).
  • Some of the recommended best times for individual time zones show that non-peak hours are the top time to tweet for clicks. This data may reflect some particularly high-achieving posts—some outliers—that bring up the average when the volume of tweets is lowest. Still, it’d be a great one to test for your profile to see what results you get.
  • One neat thing to keep in mind is that a non-peak hour in, say, Los Angeles may correspond to a peak hour in London or Paris. The worldwide audience is definitely one to consider when finding the best time to tweet.

The best times for overall engagement with your tweet

We define engagement as clicks plus retweets, favorites, and replies. When looking at all these interactions together, we found the following trends for maximizing your chance to get the most engagement on your tweets:

  • Tweets sent between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. earn the most total engagement on average
  • The highest amount of engagement per tweet occurs between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., peaking between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m.
  • The smallest amount of engagement happens during traditional work hours, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Best Times to Tweet for Engagement

Takeaways & thoughts:

  • The best times to tweet for engagement are quite the inverse of the most popular times to tweet. (The late-night infomercial effect—tweet when fewer people are tweeting—seems to be the case here.)

The best times for retweets and favorites on your tweets

Adding together two of the most common engagement metrics, we found some interesting trends for maximizing the retweets and favorites on your tweets, especially for those with a U.S. audience.

Looking at 1.1 million tweets from U.S. Buffer users from January through March 2015, here were some of the notable takeaways we found:

  • Tweets sent at the 9:00 p.m. hour in the U.S. earn the most retweets and favorites on average
  • The highest number of retweets and favorites occurs between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., peaking between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m.
  • The lowest retweet-favorite engagement happens at 3:00 a.m.

(Interesting to note, the takeaways from this data compared to the worldwide engagement data differ slightly for a couple reasons: 1) clicks represent a huge portion of overall engagement, and 2) the worldwide vs. US datasets vary.)

Best Times to Tweet for Engagement USA

We’d love to make it easy for you to share these results with your audience, your friends, your clients—anyone you think might benefit from them.

>> Download every chart from this post (.zip) <<

The methodology for our research

We studied all tweets ever sent through Buffer—4.8 million tweets since October 2010!

Based on this sample set, we looked at the number of clicks per tweet, favorites per tweet, retweets per tweet, and replies per tweet, in accordance with the time of day that the tweet was posted to Twitter.

Further, we segmented the results according to time zones, based on the assumption that the learnings might be more actionable if they could be specific to exactly where you live and work.

We had an interesting opportunity to consider whether median or average would be the better metric to use for our insights. It turns out that so many tweets in the dataset receive minimal engagement that the median was often zero. For this reason, we chose to display the average.

Over to you: What are your takeaways?

We’re so grateful for the chance to dig into the stats from the many tweets that people choose to share with Buffer. The data is super insightful, both for sharing with others and for impacting our own social media marketing plans!

What did you notice from the stats here?

Did any of the results surprise you or get you thinking about your plans in a different way?

I’d love to hear your take on this! Feel free to share any thoughts at all in the comments!

Image sources: IconFinder, Blurgrounds, Death to the Stock Photo, UnSplash

The post The Biggest Social Media Science Study: What 4.8 Million Tweets Say About the Best Time to Tweet appeared first on Social.

How Google May Use Your Behavior to Impact Search Rankings – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

A recent patent from Google suggests a new kind of influence in the rankings that has immense implications for marketers. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand discusses what it says, what that means, and adds a twist of his own to get us thinking about where Google might be heading.

 

http://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/bswj50ador?videoFoam=true

How Google May Use Their Knowledge of Surfer & Searcher Behavior to Impact the Rankings - Whiteboard Friday

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

 

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week let’s chat about some things that Google is learning about web searchers and web surfers that may be impacting the rankings.

I was pretty psyched to see a patent a few weeks ago that had been granted actually to Google, so filed a while before that. That patent came from Navneet Panda who, as many in the SEO space may remember, is also the engineer for whom Panda, the Panda Update from Google, is named after. Bill Slawski did a great analysis of the patent on his website, and you can check that out, along with some of the other patent diagrams themselves. Patents can be a little confusing and weird, especially the language, but this one had some surprising clarity to it and some potentially obvious applications for web marketers too.

Deciphering searcher intent

So, in this case, Googlebot here — I’ve anthropomorphized him, my Googlebot there, nicely — is thinking about the queries that are being performed in Google search engine and basically saying, “Huh, if I see lots of people searching for things like ‘find email address,’ ’email address tool,’ ’email finder,’ and then I also see a lot of search queries similar to those but with an additional branded element, like ‘VoilaNorbert email tool’ or ‘Norbert email finder’ or ‘how to find email Norbert,’ or even things like ’email site:voilanorbert.com,'” Googlebot might actually say, “Hmm, lots of searchers who look for these kinds of queries seem to be also looking for this particular brand.”

You can imagine this in tons and tons of ways. Lots of people searching for restaurants also search for Yelp. Lots of people searching for hotels also add in queries like “Trip Advisor.” Lots of people searching for homes to buy also add in Zillow. These brands that essentially get known and combined and perform very well in these non-branded searches, one of the ways that Google might be thinking about that is because they see a lot of branded search that includes the unbranded words around that site.

Google’s site quality patent

In Panda’s site quality patent — and Navneet Panda wasn’t the only author on this patent, but one of the ones we recognize — what’s described is essentially that this algorithm, well not algorithm, very simplistic equation. I’m sure much more than simplistic than what Google’s actually using if they are actually using this. Remember, when it comes to patents, they usually way oversimplify that type of stuff because they don’t want to get exactly what they’re doing out there in the public. But they have this equation that looks like this: Number of unique searchers for the brand or keyword X — so essentially, this is kind of a searches, searchers. They’re trying to identify only unique quantities of people doing it, looking at things like IP address and device and location and all of that to try and identify just the unique people who are performing this — divided by the number of unique searches for the non-branded version.

So branded divided by non-branded equals some sort of site quality score for keyword X. If a lot more people are performing a search for “Trip Advisor + California vacations” than are performing searches for just “California vacations,” then the site quality score for Trip Advisor when it comes to the keyword “California vacations” might be quite high.

You can imagine that if we take another brand — let’s say a brand that folks are less familiar with, WhereToGoInTheWorld.com — and there’s very, very few searches for that brand plus “California vacations,” and there’s lots of searches for the unbranded version, the site quality score for WhereToGoInTheWorld.com is going to be much lower. I don’t even think that’s a real website, but regardless.

Rand’s theory

Now, I want to add one more wrinkle on to this. I think one of the things that struck me as being almost obvious but not literally mentioned in this specific patent was my theory that this also applies to clickstream data. You can see this happening obviously already in personalization, personalized search, but I think it might be happening in non-personalized search as well, and that is essentially through Android and through Chrome, which I’ve drawn these lovely logos just for you. Google knows basically where everyone goes on the web and what everyone does on the web. They see this performance.

So they can look and see the clickstream for a lot of people’s process is a searcher goes and searches for “find email address tool,” and then they find this resource from Distilled and Distilled mentions Rob Ousbey’s account — I think it was from Rob Ousbey that that original resource came out — and they follow him and then they follow me and they see that I tweeted about VoilaNorbert. Voila, they make it to VoilaNorbert.com’s website, where their search ends. They’re no longer looking for this information. They’ve now found a source that sort of answers their desire, their intent. Google might go, “Huh, you know, why not just rank this? Why rank this one when we could just put this there? Because this seems to be the thing that is answering the searcher’s problem. It’s taking care of their issue.”

So what does this mean for us?

This is tough for marketers. I think both of these, the query formatting and the potential clickstream uses, suggest a world in which building up your brand association and building up the stream of traffic to your website that’s solving a problem not just for searchers, but for potential searchers and people with that issue, whether they search or not, is part of SEO. I think that’s going to mean that things like branding and things like attracting traffic from other sources, from social, from email, from content, from direct, from offline, and word-of-mouth, that all of those things are going to become part of the SEO equation. If we don’t do those things well, in the long term, we might do great SEO, kind of classic, old-school keywords and links and crawl and rankings SEO and miss out on this important piece that’s on the rise.

I’m looking forward to some great comments and your theories as well. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

 

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How to Build Links in Person

Posted by RuthBurrReedy

The important thing to remember when you’re trying to attract links—real, powerful, high-quality, authoritative links—is that behind each of those links is a person. The kinds of links that Google wants you to build are the kinds of links that you get when a real live person decides to share or link to your content.

That great content you’re creating is designed to be the kind of stuff people like to share, but getting people to share it often requires outreach. When you ask someone to read and possibly share your content, even if it’s content you think they’ll really like, you’re essentially asking them to do you a favor. That’s a lot easier to do if it’s somebody who already knows you and likes you.

This is why a relationship-based approach to link building can be so powerful. By connecting with site owners on a personal level, you can start creating a positive association between you and the content you share. Start thinking of a link as something that’s given online by a real live person who also exists outside the Internet, and you can move from being a link builder to being a relationship builder. One moment of link outreach can generate a link, but an ongoing relationship can result in multiple links and shares, not to mention introductions into that person’s network of friends and connections.

Plus, you might make a friend!

nasa robots making friends

Photo via Pixabay

A few caveats

In-person link outreach is not for everybody. There are a few reasons why building links in person might not work for you.

  • No budget: Like many content building and link outreach strategies, some of the in-person link building tactics I outline below will require a financial outlay, which not everybody can swing.
  • No time: In-person link outreach takes a lot of time, and some of it will almost certainly need to be spent outside of work hours (or during work hours, but not at work).
  • Too far away: If you’re not located in the same city/state/country as your client, it’s going to be harder for you to build links for them in person.
  • Not a people person: If you dread talking to people, especially people you don’t know, this strategy is going to be massively unpleasant for you.

Yes, you still have to build good content. Like any good strategy to attract links, building links in person is only going to work if you’re also taking the time to build linkable, shareable resources that people will want to link to (need some help building content for your industry? Check out Ronell Smith’s guide to creating content for boring industries). As you’re laying the foundation for your link outreach relationships, you should also be planning your content calendar—that way, by the time you’ve got a great linkable asset ready to share, you’ve gotten to know some people who can share it.

Don’t be creepy. The point of in-person link building is not to lie, cheat, or manipulate people into being friends with you in order to secretly use them for their sweet, sweet links. The point is to form strong, genuine professional relationships with people who will appreciate the awesome work you do. You’ll be a stronger marketer for it, and maybe even meet your next boss or BFF.

 

All right! Let’s make some friends.

Where to build links in person

Trade shows and conferences. This is the “budget outlay” item that I mentioned earlier: if you can swing it, attend some trade shows and conferences in your/your client’s industry. Of course, this is easier to do if you’re in-house, or only building links for a few clients, than if you have a whole roster of different sites in different industries under your care.

If your clients are in your area, make sure they let you know when they’ll be attending or exhibiting at events, and see if you can tag along. Events like a home and garden show usually have tickets for under $20. In-house marketers should also see if they can be part of the booth staff at trade shows where their clients are exhibiting. If there’s a relevant conference or trade show in your area and your client isn’t exhibiting, see if you can get an expo-only pass for free or a reduced rate.

Marketing conferences can be a great place to hone your SEO skills, but they can also be a great place to connect with other marketers. If you’re attending a marketing/SEO conference, take a look at the attendee list and see if there are other marketers from your industry who will be attending (especially if they don’t work for competitors). Another SEO is going to understand why you might be asking them to share or link to your content, so it’s worth your while to cultivate relationships with other SEOs who might have access to topically-related sites. A marketing conference is a great way for SEOs with a lot of different clients to build link relationships across multiple industries, too.

attendees at MozCon

Shane Macomber Photography

Meetups and trade associations. In addition to higher-dollar industry events, most metro areas have a variety of meetups, clubs and associations, many of which are free to join. If your client is a member of an industry association, see if you can tag along to an event that’s open to the public; even closed-membership groups tend to have a mixer or two every year to let potential new members experience the group.

Check sites like Meetup, LinkedIn, Facebook and yes, Google+, for groups in your area. There may be groups focused on your client’s industry/ies, but it’s also worthwhile to start attending local events around marketing, PR, advertising, social media, etc. to connect with other local marketers. Inbound links from sites in the same local area can be quite valuable for websites with a strong local focus, so building link relationships within your local community is definitely worth doing—and is another way to build link relationships for multiple clients at once.

Assessing link relationships

Of course, just because you’ve met someone in person doesn’t mean they’re going to link to you, or even that you’d necessarily want a link from them. Try to do some recon before heading to the event, so you can keep an eye out for your dream link targets.

Wherever possible, get a list of people who will be attending the event; this will help you pick out a few people with whom you’d really like to connect. If you can’t get a list beforehand, compile a list of the people you met afterward and do some research.

Don’t forget that attendees are people, not just businesses—you’ll want to take some time to check attendees out on social media and LinkedIn, too. A person may have a business card from one company but actually work with multiple businesses. Someone with no website of their own might be a regular contributor to an industry blog, or just fantastically well-connected in the community you’re trying to join and still worth getting to know. A person’s position within a company will matter, too—you’re more likely to get a link from a marketing/web person (who has access to the website) than, e.g., the manufacturing plant supervisor (who probably doesn’t, and also has other things to do).

Take some time to evaluate sites like you would any other link prospect. Stay away from sites that appear at risk for a penalty, or are sleazy enough that you don’t want to associate your client’s brand with them. That doesn’t mean they’re not still worth getting to know as people (you should certainly never shun people at conferences, that’s just rude), it just means that they won’t be a focus of your link outreach later.

Make the connection

When you meet someone with whom you’d like to build a link-based relationship, don’t start out asking for the link, any more than you would online. If you’re at a networking or industry event, there’s a basic understanding that people are there to make professional connections—there’s no need to be more specific than that and say you’re there to make connections that might result in links (nobody wants to feel like they’re being used for their links).

After your research, you’ll probably have a few people who you want to make sure you meet, but don’t seek them out at the expense of forming other connections. Remember that your goal here is more than just a link—it’s a relationship, which could be mutually beneficial to both of you. Ask people questions about themselves, their work and what they think about the event. Just like on social media, you don’t want to talk only about yourself—your main success metric for these events should be engagement.

When a networking conversation is drawing to a natural close, excuse yourself (if you need an excuse, getting more food or drink is usually a good bet)—but make sure to get a business card, or social media info from your new professional connection. As you follow your new friends on Twitter or G+, add them to a list or circle for people from the event or group you’ve attended so you have them all in one place later.

Follow up

By the end of the event, you should have a list of new friends who might link to or share your content. Your next step is not to ask them to do so, however (unless you have a specific content piece that came up in your conversation that they were interested in). Your next step is to nurture that connection.

Start with a quick tweet or email the next morning that says it was great to meet them and maybe references something in your conversation. If your only point of contact for them is email, use it very sparingly—nobody likes aggressive emails. Your best best in this case is to try to see them again at the next event, to continue nurturing your relationship in person. You could also see if they want to meet for coffee or lunch to talk shop.

nurturing a relationship over the phone

Photo via Pixabay

If you’ve added your new connections on social media, take some time every day to check in with your list. Talk to them—they’re your new friends! Reply to their tweets, answer questions they might ask, and above all, share their content when they post it. You’re showing them that you’re a connection worth having by bringing value to their conversations. Make sure to switch up the time of day you’re doing this, since different people use social media at different times of day. If you get into a conversation with some of their followers, make sure to add them to your list, too.

Over time, it will become clear which people are turning into real connections and which are just not going to respond to you. You’ll also see some of your new pals sharing the content you post, without you even having to ask them—that’s a great sign that they’re seeing you and your content as valuable.

When your feel your relationship with someone is at a point where you can ask them for a favor without it being weird, go ahead and ask them to share or link to a piece of content of yours. Make sure the content in question is actually relevant to what they do/like; one awesome thing about relationship-based link building is that you may actually get content ideas by listening to what your new friends have to say. Be cool about it—a simple “Hey, I thought you’d like this, check it out” is often enough.

All of this relationship building can also be done online—people do it all the time. However, in my experience, meeting someone in person can drastically reduce the amount of time and the number of interactions it can take to build trust with someone and get to the point where you’re happy to share each other’s content. As with most link-building strategies, a time investment up-front can pay dividends down the line.

 

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Getting Your First 1,000 Facebook Fans (Infographic)

More and more people are using Facebook to research businesses these days, and they’re doing more than just finding a business’s location and reading posts. People are using Facebook for social proof. They want to see how many people “Like” a business.

Think about it. If you want to go to a new restaurant and you visit its Facebook page and it has 30 fans, does that make you more or less likely to visit the establishment? It probably doesn’t help. The same goes for internet businesses. If you’re running an ecommerce store and you have only 100 fans, do you think that helps your chances of getting orders, especially when your competitor has 5,000 fans?

This doesn’t apply to all businesses, but for most B2C companies, having a lot of Facebook fans is important. This is especially true for small businesses. In certain bigger industries, such as automotive, the amount of Facebook fans doesn’t factor into a buying decision for the consumer.

To help you grow your fan base, Neil Patel over at Quick Sprout has created an infographic that’s full of wonderful tips to help you reach your first 1,000 Facebook fans.

How to Get Your First 1000 Facebook Fans
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

For additional tips on getting more Facebook fans, check out this content from Kissmetrics:

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is a Content Writer for Kissmetrics.

Whittl Picks Up A Chicago-Style $3.3M Series A

Chicago It turns out geography is still a thing. Recently, Whittl, a Chicago-based company raised a $3.3 million Series A round of capital. The new monetary event follows a $1.3 million seed round that took place around two years ago. If you can’t see the irony, you haven’t lived outside of the Valley in some time. Given the generic chop of both Clinkle and Secret, it’s hard to keep… Read More

Survey Finds 5 Entrepreneur Attributes are Shared Qualities

Entrepreneur Attributes

The 2015 U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth survey has found that many business owners and entrepreneurs share at least five similar attributes.

The survey is based on a nationwide survey of 640 high net worth and ultra high net worth adults, of which 118 are business owners, with at least $3 million in investable assets, not including the value of their primary residences.

The five attributes shared by these high net worth entrepreneurs are:

A Passion for their Business

Nine in ten business owners say they have a clear sense of purpose for their lives, and three quarters of respondents consider meaningful work an important aspect of their purpose.

Personal and Business Lives that are Closely Intertwined

A high proportion of business owners’ finances are tied up in their companies. Forty-four percent say most of their income and financial assets are linked to their firms. For owners under the age of 50, that is especially true. Nearly two-thirds of those responding (64 percent) say their businesses represent most of their income and assets.

A Focus on Health, Family and Financial Security

Seventy-six percent say their health is their most important personal asset. Yet, 35 percent say they’ve sacrificed their health for the sake of their careers.

A Strong Sense of Responsibility for the Needs of Others

Seventy-nine percent say they typically put the needs of others ahead of their own. Partly as a result, 59 percent say their personal, work, financial, and social goals often conflict with each other.

A Desire to Give Back to Society

Nine in 10 business owners say that giving back to society is important, if not essential, to their lives. And they place greater relative importance on giving back than non-business owners.

U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, which conducted the survey, is a private wealth management organization. The company says it provides resources and customized solutions for wealth structuring, investment management, banking and credit needs.

U.S. Trust is part of the Global Wealth and Investment Management unit of Bank of America, N.A.

Image: U.S. Trust

This article, “Survey Finds 5 Entrepreneur Attributes are Shared Qualities” was first published on Small Business Trends