The Value of Organic Search Engine Marketing

In this age of dominant social media, does it matter whether or not your websites are properly optimized for search? Believe it or not, yes. If your main site functions as your prime source for e-commerce and a point of contact for your business, it is important that customers can find it via search if they do not patronize your social channels. While it is good to have a strong marketing strategy with Twitter and Facebook, you should not neglect your main site, or rely upon them to drive your traffic. Organic SEO still holds value in this changing world of online commerce and marketing.

Why maintain good organic SEO practices for your website? It seems easier to tweet out new content and upload videos to YouTube, doesn’t it? While the Internet gives us the advantage of obtaining information practically at the speed of light, the transfer of news and viral curiosities happens at such an abbreviated pace. Our attention spans appear truncated as we dish out and receive news in 140 character bites. Eventually, though, if you sell a product or service potential customers will want thorough details. Therefore, it is important that your main website is prepared to accommodate visitors.

You must continue good SEO practices – proper tagging of photos, meta data, and links – to give your company the edge over your competitors:

  • Outbound linking to relevant information can boost your authority. Naturally you will have links to your social profiles prominent, but don’t forget inbound link that takes visitors deep into your site. Robots continue to crawl the Web as well, so keep your code clean for them.
  • Tag photos accordingly for added search mojo, and make sure your content is sufficiently peppered with your keywords.
  • Structure pages so that content is easily to find, and that your site is easily navigable. Remember what was said about short attention spans: if you don’t have the offer up front people are not likely to search creation for it.

One thing to bear in mind when optimizing your site for good search results is that the more attention you give it, the more likely the major engines will pay attention to your activities, in a good way. If you have a blog attached to your site that is updated regularly, all the better. The influx of fresh content helps keep your site relevant and gives people a reason to return.

Organic SEO remains a factor in your online success. Take the time to evaluate improvements to your main site.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Virginia SEO services and Virginia website design services.

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Choosing the Right Twitter Hashtag for Your Marketing

Used to be you’d see a billboard advertising a product or service with a phone number underneath the company logo. Then the phone number became a website address, then a Facebook user name alongside the unmistakable blue square with rounded corners. Today, you are more likely to find advertisements that display none of these things as they are replaced by a hashtag and a simple word.

Take for example, recent advertisements for the HBO series, “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” A title card displays the show’s name along with #curb. The show doesn’t necessarily want you to like a Facebook page or check out a preview on YouTube, but they want you to create conversation. The #curb tag in Twitter or other social networks gets you into an exclusive club of Curb fans – you can search now and see what people are saying, and generate your own buzz among your friends and followers. It’s a smart move by HBO and Curb to market the show in this manner, because who can better promote a TV series, book, music act, anything, than an active group of fans?

It’s one thing to have a Twitter account with thousands of followers, and another to have thousands of Twitter users actually talking about your products and services. At the end of the day, which do you think is more valuable: a thousand people reading your posts and possibly patronizing your business, or a thousand people each tweeting about your business to their followers, and potentially increasing your visibility? This is not to say you should stop trying to bring in new followers, but this is a great time to shift some focus in your Twitter marketing to encourage positive chatter.

The Hashtag VS. the @Mention

Even if you are new to Twitter, you know the difference between using # and @ in conversation. The @ mention often directly addresses another Twitter user, while the # addresses a specific topic in Twitter that is popular, or “trending,” or part of a pertinent discussion. Conference planners often set up hashtags for conferees to follow for information, and fans of TV shows and movies may add a tag to their tweets to generate attention. Fans of “True Blood” converse during the show – just look for #trueblood in Twitter to see the activity.

As you formulate a marketing strategy that involves Twitter, you will want to focus on a unique hashtag people can use when referring to your company. While an @ mention may alert you more easily, not all of these tweets may be visible to everybody, depending on the Twitter client used. Use of the hashtag is better to promote your brand to as many Twitter account holders as possible.

Selecting a Tag

In selecting a hashtag that will identify with your company, you want to be mindful of the following:

1) Make sure it’s not already being used. Play around a bit on Twitter and test potential hashtags you would use for your company identity. Your company name or a derivative of it may work, but have an alternative if you find it’s being used.

2) Keep it short. People should discuss your company with as much free space as possible. You have 140 characters per tweet, so try to keep the hashtag less than 10% of that.

3) Make sure people know to use it. Let people know the hashtag, and use it often in your own tweets. As followers go by your example they may soon converse on their own about you, and the hashtag allows for easy monitoring.

Having customers talk to you via Twitter is good. When they follow you, it’s great. When they talk positively about you on Twitter or anywhere else, you strike gold.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing and Twitter marketing services.

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CINIVA Web Agency Heats Up Damuth Trane’s Online Presence With Cool New Site

Noted two years in a row as one of the best places to work in Hampton Roads by Virginia Business, Damuth Trane not only offers its employees a safe and dependable workplace, but clients are assured of quality power plant resources. As a means of modernizing their message after more than four decades in the business, Damuth decided to update the look and navigation of the company’s website. To achieve this, they turned to another Hampton Roads company known for longevity and quality: CINIVA Web Agency of Virginia Beach.

“We have been honored to work with a number of established businesses in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, names that have been around forever,” said Steve Van Leeuwen, president of CINIVA Web Agency. “To add Damuth Trane to our clientele is definitely a bonus for us. We love success stories like theirs, and are proud to be a part of their online team.”

Visitors to the new website for Damuth Trane, launched early this summer, will find a highly detailed site that breaks down all commercial solutions available – from building management and energy audits to HVAC repair and regular maintenance. Interested potential clients have a clearer picture as they visit the website on how Damuth Trane can lower overall utility bills and apply green solutions to their businesses. In addition to the site makeover, CINIVA also created a YouTube channel for Damuth which offers insightful videos that highlight their services.

“Damuth Trane may be one of the best places to work in Hampton Roads, but we definitely believe they are a great company to work with, too,” said Van Leeuwen. “We look forward to a long relationship with them.”

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What’s the Fuss About Google Plus?

So, Google Plus is supposed to be the big threat to Facebook, just as Google Buzz was to have been…something. In the frenzy to become early adopters of the latest social media trend, webmasters are coding the little +1 buttons on their sites, which turn blue when a user clicks them to give the content a boost. The trick to achieving success with this, of course, is making sure there are other Plus users out there to click the button.

Users of Google Plus may also adjust their accounts to cross-post to other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, yet there doesn’t seem to be a way to do the opposite. You can push Facebook notifications to Twitter and vice versa, but Google either does not or doesn’t plan to accommodate receiving notices. You can, however, upload photos and videos to your Plus activity stream and sort people you follow into different and unlimited groups, or “circles.”

Seems the notions of circles works more cleanly than Facebook’s grouping system, which requires users to sift through a drop down menu to find the stream of friends they wish to read. Plus chat functionality is also available as a carryover from GMail. What’s not to love?

More importantly, thinking as social media marketer, what’s the fuss? Is Google Plus worth an aggressive push now or is there the risk of waning interest like with Buzz? If you have established presences with Facebook and Twitter under your business name, you may think the addition of Plus can boost your brand. It is entirely possible, too. However, nurturing your Plus profile and connections will take time from your current social media strategy. If there is the chance Plus will fizzle out after the initial novelty wears off, how much of your energy was spent that should have been somewhere else marketing your business?

Then again, Plus could take off and give Facebook a run for the money.

As you approach a new social media outlet for potential marketing success, it is good to note specifically how others are using it. If you find within your circles people have not updated their activity streams in weeks, it could mean your circles of influence are experiencing social media overload, or find the structure is not to their liking. Addition of +1 buttons to promote your content can provide a good idea of whether or not people find your content worthy of sharing – remember to have other social buttons available as well. A gradual entry into Plus may yield good results for your company’s visibility in the long run.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing and Facebook marketing services.

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Twitter Connections – How to Establish Connections on Twitter

What can a business do on Twitter to improve their social media clout and click-through rating? As somebody who works in social media, I’m asked this often. Where Facebook and YouTube appear to offer businesses a clear understanding of how they work and how they benefit others, Twitter remains an enigma. Business marketers know they should at least have their brand established in a profile, with the proper links in their bios, but beyond that… what? Do you fear Twitter is useless in business for the noise it creates and the saturation of users trying to market to you? If you believe this, perhaps it’s time to step back and approach your use of Twitter differently.

If you have dabbled in promotional tweeting to tout your products and services, you may have noticed other businesses follow the same path. Tweeting turns into repetitive sales pitches that get lost in the ether. Of the people you follow, the majority of re-tweeted messages come from comedians or companies taking advantage of paid tweeting, and only they know the effectiveness of such campaigns. To succeed in using Twitter as part of your online marketing, you need to focus not on how many people will get the message, but how many people will do something about it.

In other words, rather than blast out sales and codes ad nauseum, take a personal approaching to using Twitter and reaching people individually. Convert to sales one Twitter user at a time.

Okay, so how do you achieve this? First thing you want to do is set up a feed that tracks specific key phrases relevant to your business. Whether you are searching for people looking for hotel rooms, shoes, books, car rentals… eventually somebody is bound to ask the Twitterverse where he can find something. Check the feed regularly and weed out possible leads, then approach the user with a friendly greeting and an offer to help.

Now, as you use Twitter you want to have a client in place that alerts you immediately when you receive replies and direct messages. This allows you to remain timely in your one-on-one marketing. If you respond to Twitter users and disappear for eight hours, you aren’t much of a help. What if a reply goes unanswered and a competitor picks up the ball? For heavy-duty Twitter use, somebody on the team needs to watch the account.

When you are not directly approaching people on your account, use Twitter to humanize your business. Talk about what you are doing, what the weather is like outside the office… keep the narrative light-hearted, and even include an occasional third-party link to something interesting. Retweet followers where applicable, and always respond to mentions, regardless of whether they are friendly or harsh. People need to know there’s a person behind your social presence, and putting a genial attitude in your social media works to establish trust.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on social media writing and Virginia web design.

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Vote for CINIVA, Best of Hampton Roads

Each year, The Virginian Pilot holds its Best of Hampton Roads polls. Residents throughout the metropolitan region have the opportunity to vote for the businesses, restaurants, and services they believe are the best in Tidewater. It should be no secret that many perennial winners are also CINIVA Systems clients – just as they strive to offer the best in their respective fields, so we work to give them the best Web presence out there. This is why we think CINIVA should be voted Best of Hampton Roads, too!

This year, now through March 31, you have the opportunity to help us reach the top of a new subcategory in the Best of Hampton Roads Business to Business polls.

When you visit HamptonRoads.com/bestof, please consider writing in CINIVA Systems under the Business to Business subcategory of Best Graphic/Web Design (located under Best Promotions, Customer Relations, and Conference Needs section). You may have to register to vote, but it’s free, and we appreciate your support.

We work to be the best in Hampton Roads because you want the best!

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CINIVA Clients are the Best of Hampton Roads

Each year, The Virginian Pilot holds its Best of Hampton Roads polls. Residents throughout the metropolitan region have the opportunity to vote for the businesses, restaurants, and services they believe are the best in Tidewater. It should be no secret that many perennial winners are also CINIVA Systems clients – just as they strive to offer the best in their respective fields, so we work to give them the best Web presence out there. This year, now through March 31, you have the opportunity to help our clients reach the top once again.

When you visit HamptonRoads.com/bestof, please consider the following when you vote (Some may need to be write-in votes):

Sundays Blue Box Tanning Resort: Best Tanning Salon – Best Health and Beauty Services for Chesapeake, Norfolk, Newport News, and Virginia Beach.

Nancy Chandler Associates: Best Real Estate Services in Chesapeake and Norfolk.

Care A Lot Pets: Best Animal Hospital/Vet Center, Best Dog Training Facility, Best Pet Day Care Center, Best Pet Groomer, and Best Pet Supplies Store in Virginia Beach.

Maximum Air: Best Heating and Cooling Service in Newport News.

Atomic Plumbing: Best Plumber in Virginia Beach.

Shred-It Norfolk: Best Document Shredding Company (Business to Business)

Home Solutions/House Doctors: Best Local Home Improvement Contractor, Best Window Replacement, and Best Siding in Virginia Beach.

Center for Health and Cancer Prevention: Best Cancer Prevention Center in Virginia Beach.

Select Import Motors: Best Place to Buy a Pre-Owned Car in Virginia Beach.

Chesapeake Enterprises: Best Local Home Improvement Contractor in Chesapeake.

Freemason Abbey: Best Brunch, Best Fine Dining, Best Local’s Hangout, Best Restaurant for Lunch, Best She Crab Soup, Best Kept Secret, and Best Family/Casual Dining in Norfolk.

Aqua Leisure Pools: Best Pool/Spa/Hot Tub Company in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

Law Offices of Richard J. Serpe, PC: Best Law Firm in Norfolk.

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Google Takes A Stand To China

Clap. Clap. Clap clap clap clap… roaring applause… crazy guy hanging from the rafters screaming “YOU DA MAN, GOOGLE!”

In case you haven’t heard, Google has announced to China that they will stop censoring google.cn. This comes as a result of a series of targeted attacks on Google by China’s infrastructure – attacks that have not only resulted in theft of Google’s intellectual property, but caused dozens of Gmail users’ accounts to be accessed by third parties.

It’s no surprise that China has cyberattacked Google, let alone any company. The country has constantly implemented ways of restricting free speech on its citizens. Chinese officials have found ways, either cooperatively or not, to retrieve personal e-mails from their citizens that mention political content. This is no secret.

Now, Google is saying, “Enough is enough.”

Even though it attracts tens of millions of Chinese users, Google.cn could potentially be pulled from China if the country fails to comply with Google’s requests. Google is now telling China it will no longer censor search rankings, and if that’s not OK with them, they will shut down their offices in China.

Our take: Good for Google. This could have long-term repercussions not only for Google, but for how Internet censorship is handled from this point forward. Even still, this is a step in the right direction. We are so fortunate to have our freedoms here in America, and free speech and free press are tenets we think all people should live under.

It will be interesting to see how this shakes down for other companies like Microsoft and Yahoo. Will they follow suit? Probably wouldn’t hurt for Yahoo, who has already gotten bad press by playing along with China’s rules.

We encourage you all to read Google’s blog and stay updated on the issue at hand.

A great takeaway from this to not take for granted how easy it is to retrieve information in America. Google has come a long way and made life very easy for all of us here. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, now they are going the extra mile and trying to protect human rights.

Kudos, Google. Job well done.

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Marketing Your Brand in 140 Characters Or Less

In website design, the credo used to be that one had an average of five seconds to capture the attention of a visitor with compelling “above the fold” content. If nothing placed immediately under the address bar prompted somebody to scroll down the remainder of the page, you could be certain the next action would either be the back button or a link offsite. While this principle still holds true – there will always be canadian pharmacy shop.com cause to optimize a website for maximum stickiness, it can be applied to marketing via social media. In the case of micro-blogging sites like Twitter, and to some extent the status update feature on Facebook, your space is limited. And every word posted must count.

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It is said that brevity is the soul of wit, and where social marketing is concerned it is also the heart of your strategy. As you consider each tweet and status update to promote your products and services, you must choose the words wisely, and tempt followers to want to click-through to the point of sale or conversion.

One solution for gauging interest would be to approach micro-posts as you would your e-mail marketing strategy. When you prepare a blast, it’s natural to want to achieve a strong open rate. Therefore, the subject line of your message is what will lead people to click through to the mail. One advantage to Twitter, as sometimes opposed to e-mail, is that certain words won’t be filtered as spam. If you have complimentary products or deep discounts to advertise, usage of the words free and sale won’t penalize you on social networks. However, it’s also important to note how often you push the hard sell. Repeated canned text could be a turn-off to followers. Check your analytics to determine how many referrals from Facebook, Twitter, and other networks lead visitors to your landing pages.

Do you engage followers on a regular basis? As you study your social accounts and gauge what interests people, try a direct approach. Address followers with links to specific information on your site or third-party affiliates. Using a URL shortening service like bit.ly can inform you if your target, and others, click through on your suggestion.

Utilizing the economy of words to relay your company’s message can improve traffic flow to your website. Where the Internet tends to foster short attention spans, use the most important words to your advantage and stretch interest from visitors.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media optimization and travel social media.

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Yelp Walks Away From Half Billion Dollar Google Deal

The deal had been in the later stages of negotiation. The two companies had agreed on a price – around $550 million plus earnouts – and were working through the final details of the acquisition.

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Something happened that made Yelp reconsider the deal. Over the weekend they notified Google that they were not going to sell, say multiple sources.

It is not known where to purchase viagra at this time what made the deal go sideways.  For now Yelp intends to stay independent.

Yelp is a company founded in 2004 by two former PayPal employees, It’s a local reviews website covering almost 40 states. Yelp also launched in the UK in January 2009. Users write and read reviews about anything from their local restaurant to the worst downtown club. Additionally Yelp offers social networking features: the ability to add friends, groups, events, talk in forums or message contacts. The idea behind this is that users will trust their friend’s reviews more than others. Yelp’s competition comes from Citysearch, Insider Pages, Yahoo Local and formerly Judy’s Book.

It’s sad that Google is not going to acquire Yelp.  That would have been a fantastic deal for both companies and great for the search ecosystem.

Derek Gordon wrote a great article about this.  To read his article in full click on this link.

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