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Creating a video sitemap for Google search

Adding video to your website is a key element today,  just as adding social media elements is a must do in today’s world of organic search. To gain page one video placement you need to get the video indexed by Google.  We all know of pushing an XML site map to gain organic traffic to our content, however many do not know to add a video sitemap, in addition. Check with your webmaster or agency to be sure they know to do this.  The Quick Online blog had a great article on this a few months back, and it is worth revisiting or visiting for the first time, especially if you are adding videos to your site or are already using video.  The blog  also addresses, hosting videos on your site vs feeding from YouTube or DailyMotion.

How to Get Your Videos Indexed by Google  by Quick Online blog
March 1st, 2010
Guest post by Keiros.
How to get your videos listed on Google? Have you already noticed while performing a search on Google, those videos thumbnails displayed on the left side of some sites? They are definitely great traffic attractors, and having such a video associated with your site when being on 5th or 6th positions of the search results page may be better in terms of “click-thru-rate” than being on 1st position without it.
There is an additional bonus in having a video associated to your site: on some occasions, Google displays in a block titled “Video results for Keyword“, often on the 3rd or 5th position, several videos, and when it is the case, you can jump several positions and land directly on the first page to join an already existing video results block.

The trick is to find a search argument for which your page is already ranking well but not yet on the first page, with Google displaying a Video Results group on first page: you will benefit from the optimization work of those who made the way to the first page.

Found the perfect search request? All you need to do now is to make your video indexed by Google, and that’s the easiest part !

1.Put a video on your page : I mean a real video, hosted on your site, not on Youtube or DailyMotion. You need a .flv file (or .mpg, .avi, .mp4) and a video plugin that supports this kind of video formats. Jing is perfect to record onscreen action and make nice video tutorials.
2.Create a thumbnail of your video : that’s the thumbnail that Google will display on its search results page, so making a good quality thumbnail out of your video is an important step. Personally, I’ve found that 160×120 gif or jpg works well for that purpose….and they actually don’t need to be extracted from your video. Any image pertinent to the content of your video will make the trick.
3.Create a video sitemap : Video sitemaps are XML files similar to usual sitemaps but using a different syntax. See an example.
4.Submit your video sitemap to Google : Video sitemaps can be submitted in Google Webmaster Tools exactly as a standard sitemap. If you had not yet registered your site in Google Webmaster Tool, that’s the perfect occasion to do it now.

Video Sitemap example

( See HTML on the Quickonline site)

The video-specific XML tags are pretty straightforward, but if you need more detail, you can check this page on Google Webmaster Central: Creating Video Sitemaps. Don’t forget to optimize your video sitemap by inserting your main keywords in the video tags, it will give an additional boost to your ranking if done meaningfully.

Guest author Keiros is an outsourcing and infrastructure management consultant, and a contributor to SEO Chat Forum. You can also write guest posts and share your Google tips with our readers.

How to use Ping.FM to be able to update all your social statuses from one place.

Looking for ways to streamline the updates and set ups for your social media programs? The Social Media Guide  blog recently did a very good and detailed review of Ping.FM. I am always looking for ways to multi task in the social media world and this is a very good solution to issues all CMO’s face when it comes to updates and changes and how to get them on each and every social media tool we use in our marketing mix.

You or your team spend hours filling in profiles, joining groups,updating statuses as the list of social media tools grow in your marketing mix. So check out this option and the detailed instructions that they gave us.

How to use Ping.fm

Ping.fm, Social Media — By Matthew Tommasi

There are so many social networking sites around today and even more appearing on a weekly basis. 

If you are like me, it is likely that you are a member of more than one social network like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. If you are one of the hardcore you could be a member of many, many more. 

How many hours would you have spent filling in your profiles, joining groups and updating your statuses within these social circles? It starts to add up. 

Wouldn’t it be good to be able to update all your social statuses from one place? Well you can with Ping.fm

Ping.fm allows you to send updates to all, or just a handful of your favourite sites. Updates can be made from your browser, email or sms. If you have an iPhone and are using the Twitter application Tweetie, checkout my guide on how to integrate Ping.fm with Tweetie. 

This guide will show you how to save time and be more efficient when it comes to updating your social statuses. 

Firstly, you will need to make sure you have added all your social networks. For this guide, I have only added Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. 

There are three different methods of posting – status updates, micro-blogs and blogging.. which I found a little confusing when it came to configuring my social networks. Do I set them as status only, or micro-blogging only, or both, or what? And what about updating via email? 

So I decided to test these out to see how they worked for real. Here is what I have found when testing out the various posting methods of Ping.fm. 

To check out the details go to:

http://thesocialmediaguide.com.au/2009/05/10/how-to-use-pingfm/

Adding Group SMS text messages to your marketing or communications plans

 Finding ways to leverage SMS or Text marketing is always a challenge on how to do carefully selected text messages to targeted audiences.  Messages like getting a key message out to your sales force or you need to change a location or time for an event and to grow customer engagement. Broadcasting text alerts to your subscribers and have it also push to your Twitter, Facebook and website visitors in one stroke is a valuable tool to consider. Mashable recently covered this subject.

” Christina Warren  from Mashable blog has done a very good outline of a way to easily do this.

This post is part of Mashable’s Spark of Genius series, which highlights a unique feature of startups. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here. The series is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark.
 

Name: TextMarks

 Quick Pitch: TextMarks group text messaging services turn any mobile phone into a powerful marketing tool.

 Genius Idea: TextMarks makes it easy to create SMS marketing campaigns by letting users send a text message with a custom keyword of your choice to 41411. You can also use TextMarks auto-post service to send out SMS messages to subscribers and also update Facebook() and Twitter().

As the Red Cross’s efforts in raising money for Haiti proved, text messages can be a powerful way to engage others and to spread information. It’s not just about joke-of-the-day subscriptions or other nonsense that you see at 2AM on TV — real money and real causes can be publicized through text.

 

TextMarks is a service that makes it really easy to set-up a mobile campaign to broadcast messages or updates to users that opt-in to your service by first texting a keyword. 

What we like about TextMarks is that the service is easy to set-up and affordable. You can try out the service for free and send unlimited ad-supported messages each month, and ad-free plans start at $9.95 a month. For small businesses or small groups like churches or clubs, that’s a really nice option. 

We also like that you can update Twitter and Facebook with the same messages you send out to other users. That way, if you’re using messages to keep people updated with scheduling information or other time-sensitive info, the message can go out across all of your social channels.”

What other blogs are saying about you and your products.

Blogs and monitoring of blogs and what is being said about you is a hot topic these days.  How do you monitor? Do you pay to monitor? What tools are available to you to monitor blogs and what is being said about you or your company is all the discussion in the CMO’s mind.

Social Mouths blog had some good ideas of free listening posts for your products and services, beyond the paid services for social media monitoring such as Radian 6 and CrimsonHexagon. 

Here is the short list URLs and Free blog listening tools:

IceRocket

Blog Pluse

Blog line search

Google blog search

Paid Services:

Radian 6

Crimsonhexagon.

Here is the blog I was reading on the subject.

Social Mouths blog 

Do You Know What Other Blogs Are Saying About You?

listeningDo you know if you are being mentioned on other blogs? Did you know there are ways of tracking this? And, why is this important anyways?

In this post, I’ll explain why paying attention to what other blogs say is important and how to be aware of these mentions.

So let’s get started…

Why You Should Care

SEO

When you get mentioned by another blog, the author usually links back to your blog/site and as you know, getting backlinks is one of the most important things you can do to your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as they can improve your page ranking. The search engines want to know if your site is relevant.

Sentiment

The next thing you need to worry about is sentiment. Is the comment positive or negative? Of course you don’t want people saying something negative about you or your services. When you track these mentions at least you have the opportunity to participate, maybe try to do something to turn an unhappy customer into a happy one. Damage control.

If it’s a positive mention, it is also a good opportunity to engage in the conversation.

Reciprocity

Be human. Be thankful and participate by leaving a comment or giving the post a tweet. Not to make you feel obligated but return the favor if you can, there is a good chance the other blog is somehow related to your topic.

Don’t ignore it, keep this blog in mind.

Let’s Look At An Example

Herbert from Penn State | Outreach Marketing did a very, very nice piece sharing a post from SocialMouths on his “Why Is Social Media Not Working For You” (Thanks Herbert).

Outreach Marketing

OK, so this is an extreme example and it’s not always like this, the mention can be a simple link to your blog or to a specific post. The point here is how to find this, right?

Tools

There are many tools you can use to track these mentions, feel free to share your favorite ones in the comment section of this post. Here a couple you can try:

Go to these sites and do a search based on your blog’s name or URL.

IceRocket

icerocket

BlogPulse (From Nielsen)

blogpulse

Other tools you can use are Bloglines Search or Google’s Blog Search.

Get Alerts

rss readerAll these services and most of them out there allow you to get the search results on RSS. You should subscribe and organize them on your RSS Reader. The point is to get alerts and be able to react as soon as possible, there is no point if you come back a month after the post was published.

Final Tought

The social web gives you the opportunity to engage in ways traditional media can’t but if you don’t pay attention, those opportunities are wasted.

One more thing, when you mention somebody or share a post from somebody else on your blog, make sure you do it properly so you give credit and the other end is aware of it.

Happy Listening!”

Jing is free software that adds visuals to your online conversations

Jing by Techsmith, is a tool that has captured my attention. It is a simple to use tool for instant sharing. It can be used for screen shots, videos, call outs and to show people what you are seeing on your screen with a click of a button with a linking URL.  Much better than the process of screen shot, save to word ect.  It sits on your desk top as a yellow half-moon ready for when you want to screen shot with three choices of capture, history and more.

Their website says it is to add visuals to your online conversation. There is a free version and a paid version for adding video. With the free version you also get 2 mg on Screencast which is a nice benefit.

Here is a few ways they suggest using Jing

  • collaborateCollaborate on a design project
  • share snapshotShare a snapshot of a document
  • speechNarrate your vacation photos
  • bugCapture that pesky bug in action
  • family tech supportShow Dad how to use iTunes
  • homeworkComment verbally on students’ homework
  • tidbitsPost tidbits from your life on Twitter or Facebook

What I also like is that is integrated with their other programs, that are more complex.

Screencast.com Screencast.  It not only provides free storage and instant sharing of your Jing content…it’s also a super place to share your high-quality videos, images, presentations, and all manner of digital content.

 

Snagit Snag-It . This Swiss-army knife of screen capture picks up where Jing leaves off.  Powerful image editing, scrolling window capture, cursor capture, tagging, search, and rugged good looks.

Camtasia Studio Camtasia Studio.  Jing’s big brother on the video side—and the ideal choice for creating longer, more polished screen videos. Camtasia Studio can edit your Jing videos, too.

Bing has issued best practices guidelines for SEO, SEM

Search Engine Optimization Journal is an SEO Blog that discusses Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Ranking and Positioning for the new and advanced reader and has a very interesting article on Bing and branding your website. I found this article very interesting, since SEO and SEM have become such a part of our lives in marketing. Bing  is recommending that you take an approach that utilizes a robust social marketing element into your daily routine.  They also talk about focus on link building as a key to the success of your website.  I also was interested in the term going “unnatural” in the search engines which manipulates the system in order to achieve higher rankings. Having Bing talk about link building and other best practices will make it clearer as to your next steps with you agency or team.   Good read.

Bing Gets Serious About Link Building

Writing by Nick Stamoulis on Friday, February 26, 2010

I think one of the best things I have ever heard a webmaster blog from a major search engine say is to build your website like a brand. Bing’s exact words state: “Develop your site as a business brand and be consistent about that branding in your content”

Too many people out there get all antsy to have their internet marketing look like a recipe. If it looks like a recipe it is a recipe for disaster. Bing’s official webmaster blog states that it is very important and vital to treat your website like a brand. How would a brand build its image? If you take that step you will build your business the right way rather than just go after rankings. Rankings are important but they are not the only and final goal you should be worried about for your internet marketing campaign. Building business is the most important aspect to your SEO campaign. Bing also recommends taking an approach that really utilizes a robust social marketing element into your daily routine. Link building is very vital to the success of a website but unfortunately it is important to do it in a way that allows your business to grow and not just your rankings. Bing also refers to going “unnatural” in the search engines which states that an unnatural approach is one that blatantly attempts to manipulate the system in order to achieve higher rankings.

Bing’s exact words go as follows:
” So what does it mean to go unnatural? It means you’re trying to fake out the search engines, to try to earn a higher ranking that the quality of your site’s content dictates as natural through manipulation of search engine ranking algorithms.”

Bing hasn’t been the first search engine to come out with this type of best practice’s guide. Google has been doing it for years now just not many people want to follow it. When the top two search engines in the world layout a best practices guide on how you should conduct your search engine optimization efforts it is time to listen.

Please take a look at the Bing Webmaster Post that talks about link building and SEM, it is a great read:

http://www.bing.com/community/blogs/webmaster/archive/2009/11/20/link-building-for-smart-webmasters-no-dummies-here-sem-101.aspx

Tools for creating business web forms- Wufoo, Iceburrg, Formsite and Google Docs

I am always on the lookout for great web tools.  Web forms is an area that unless you code, it can get expensive and is hard to do.  Sometimes the templates for wordpress or other platforms do not have the custom options you need to do web forms.  I always look for info on this subject, since then it gives me options of how to get the web form I want to do.   Building a web form used to require coding on the back-end of your site. Now there are some great free and low-cost options for resources on the web to make building and integrating forms into your website easier. 

 Mashable this morning had a good starter list for sites. 

 The four business web forms sites are: Wufoo , Icebrrg , Formsite , Google Docs. The cost ranges from free to a few dollars per month.  “By Matt Silverman 4 Terrific Tools for Creating Business Web Forms  

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

 Web forms can be a great asset on your business site. They let you collect pertinent data and contact information from your visitors without exposing your direct e-mail address to the world. They also set specific boundaries on the type of data you receive from customers so that the information fits nicely into a spreadsheet or database as needed.  Building a web form used to require a bit of coding and “wiring” on the back end of your site. These days, there are some great free and low-cost resources on the web that make building and integrating forms into your business website a breeze. 


 

1. Wufoo


 Wufoo is a great web-based form generator with a very intuitive interface. Forms are extremely customizable with simple drag-and-drop commands and many style options.  

 The forms you create “live” on Wufoo, but they are fully embeddable into your own website or blog by pasting a bit of code. But what makes Wufoo especially useful is that your account on the site serves as a hub for all the data that flows into your forms.   

 While you can download and configure your form to function with your own database, you may not want to when you see all the great looking reports and widgets you can generate just by logging into your Wufoo account. By hosting your data with them, everything is DIY, and easily accessible, with no need to hand your files over to a database expert to get your form up and running. In addition to viewing entries on the site, you can configure Wufoo to e-mail or text you when a user completes your form.   

 A free Wufoo account allows one user to generate three forms with three corresponding reports. Additional forms, users and reports come at a few price points, starting at $9.95 per month.  


  

2. Icebrrg


 Icebrrg has nearly identical features as Wufoo, and similar price points for paid accounts. You can host your own files or integrate the forms easily onto your business website and receive notifications when they are filled. A nice feature is that embedded forms are rendered in HTML, and will comply with the CSS styles of your website to match the look and feel automatically.   

 Icebrrg no longer has a free account, but at $9 per month, you get 10 forms, 500 entries, and 100MB of storage for customers to upload files. 


  

3. Formsite


 Formsite has a focus on a few more complex features that not every business may need in a form, but some will find extremely valuable, such as payment integration for credit cards, PayPal, and Google Checkout. They also offer multi-page and “skip/branch” surveys, which allow you to control the flow of questions based on certain rules and user responses. 

Formsite has all of the customization, embedding, hosting, and notification options as the sites mentioned above, and their free account lets you create five forms, with 50 items per form. 

4. Google Docs(Google Docs)


 If you’re already using Gmail(Gmail), Calendar, and other Google Apps for your business, you may want to take advantage of the forms function within Google Docs. 

 This form generator is pretty bare bones, but the dead-simple interface and integration with your existing Google(Google) account make it useful for internal employee surveys or even the daily lunch order. 

 Once you create your form document, it’s tied to a spreadsheet and data summary that also live in your Google Docs. The data feedback, in the form of a response counter and various charts and graphs, is extremely detailed and easy to read (similar to Google Analytics(Google Analytics)), and the timestamped spreadsheet is exportable for whatever your database has in store. 

 A Google form is embeddable in an external website, but its cumbersome formatting and limited customization means that it probably won’t agree aesthetically with your sites. For now, linking to these forms is a quick and dirty way to gather data on a simple, clean interface.”