Monday, 21 July 2014

6 Social Media Marketing Strategies to Drastically Improve Your Efforts in 2014

Did you know social media is the number one daily activity among Americans, topping time spent on email and Google?

According to Fast Company, 93% of marketers use social media to promote their business.

Social media is BIG and only getting bigger. If you are not marketing on it, you are likely missing a large chunk of your target consumers.

As a product of the Mark Zuckerberg generation, it is easy to understand why people are so obsessed with social media; for marketers, the potential to grow their business via these networks is endless. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ – these are some of the prime networks every company, big or small, young or established, needs to have an active presence on. It is now inexcusable for any business that wants to thrive to not be tweeting!

And now we are being exposed to more and more social advertisements. As I complete my morning ritual of sipping coffee and scrolling through my Instagram feed, I now notice sponsored ads appearing in between filtered pictures of scenery and food. It is impossible to visit one’s Facebook news feed without popping into a few compelling ads along the way. And I’m not going to lie, I’ve fallen victim to several of these ads, and been captured and clicked through to their site, sometimes even converting – shameful, I know.

But before diving into paid ads it is important to build out your social channels with rockstar content, quality customer service, and eye-catching visuals. Once you optimize your social channels for success, you will not only gain loyal brand promoters, but you will begin capturing leads and converting visitors into customers.

For those of you who have let your social channels develop cobwebs and cockroaches over the past year, here are six social media strategies to take control of your social channels and give them a much needed facelift in the New Year.

Social Media Marketing Strategy #1: Create A Game Plan & Stick To It
If you have no execution strategy, your content is likely going to fall through the cracks. Set a limit on how many tweets you have to publish per day. This number can be adjusted as needed, but having a number you have to hit, even something as small as four tweets per day, gives you a benchmark and a goal at the very least.

TIP: Investigate how often your competitors are posting and conduct industry research to see the ideal amount of content to publish per day on each channel. You want to be active, but not overly active.

Compile all content in an easy-to-read editorial calendar. Google Excel Docs is a good place to start. Set up a weekly, shareable publishing calendar, then separate by social channel, and provide columns for co-workers within your content team to provide their feedback before posting. Plan ahead, but continue making additions as necessary, for example if a great PR hit is published cover this in a timely manner even it was not on your original posting schedule.
social media strategy

Look into social media management platforms, like Hootsuite, Buffer, and TweetDeck, to help schedule posts ahead of time, monitor and manage your social feeds, and access performance analytics.

Social Media Marketing Strategy #2: Treat Each Channel As An Individual Entity
Each social channel needs to be treated as a separate entity. There can be content that is spread across all channels – for example if your business was recently acquired by a global company, this is likely news you want to share across the board, but you should adjust your strategy depending on the audience for that channel.

For example, LinkedIn tends to have a more business-focused audience looking for in-depth, educational content, compared to Instagram, which is likely to have an audience looking for engaging visual content. Pay attention to your follower demographic on each channel to publish content that appeals to them.

Social Media Marketing Strategy #3: Go Above & Beyond In Customer Service
If a visitor tweets at your handle or posts on your Facebook page and never receives a response, trust is lost. Due to your lack of communication, the dissatisfied potential lead is now turning to your competitors to seek answers to their questions. On the other hand, when you deliver a thoughtful response in a timely manner that visitor is flattered and intrigued by your brand. It’s humanizing to take the time respond to a personal inquiry, and it builds your authority.

Alexa, a friend of mine who formerly resided in NYC, commented on a picture on Instagram posted by her favorite city dive bar. The social media manager quickly responded by offering her a free T-shirt for the positive feedback. A few weeks, when later Alexa drove six hours from Boston to collect her free shirt (and visit a few friends), the bartender realized, “Wow! Social media does work!” She has in turn become a free promoter for the bar, and encourages her large network that still resides in New York to check out her former go-to spot – essentially free PR for this small, neighborhood bar. And this is one minuscule example – if you haven’t heard the Morton’s Steakhouse story about delivering a joking tweeter a free steak at the airport, I suggest you use this as a prime example of BOMB customer service that led to a ridiculous amount of free press.

Negative feedback needs to be addressed as well, preferably with patience and respect. But think of your social channels as an opportunity to display how awesome you treat your customers.

Take these four steps to boost the happiness of your Twitterbirds:

Assign a first responder to post and monitor each channel your brand has a profile on.Create a troubleshooting library of common bugs or complaints that arise, and how to handle these issues. This will ensure the issue is addressed properly and in a timely manner. (NOTE: If the issue needs further investigation or requires confidential information, have the user email support, send a private message, or call your help line.)Be creative – use giveaways, personality, and a sense of humor to engage followers and convert them into free brand promoters.DO NOT IGNORE any comment posted to your account on social, whether stellar or critical. No need to create brand detractors!

Social Media Marketing Strategy #4: Embrace Mishaps
We are humans, so mistakes are unavoidable. This is especially true when it comes to the fast-paced world of social media. Rather than flat out ignoring these hiccups, embrace them. I am not saying that when a comma is missed in a tweet you should announce this small grammar error, but DO NOT delete the tweet. It has already been published, and followers are more likely to notice if you are continuously re-posting. For larger mistakes, like a product error or multiple overcharges to customer credit cards, you’ll want to proactively respond in an apologetic, actionable manner, and send out content from your social accounts apologizing and addressing how the error is being handled so customers are aware.
But what happens if a BIG, truly embarrassing mistake is made? Personally, I love how Pamela Vaughan, a HubSpot employee, handled her baby bump mishap. Pamela accidently posted a picture of her growing pregnant belly to HubSpot’s company Twitter account, which has close to 350,000 followers. Instead of crawling into a hole of embarrassment, Pamela embraced her faux-pas and created this awesome blog post. The post has received a lot of love, with several shares and comments mostly showing respect for HubSpot’s human element – a key that makes them one of the most loved marketing companies out there.

Social Media Marketing Strategy #5: Track & Talk!
Tracking is often perceived as tedious and time-consuming. It can be, but it only needs to take a few hours each month. Set aside time to review metrics that are important to your business on a monthly basis (preferably the first day of the month). Here are some stats to focus on: number of posts, follower growth, clicks to your site/products, pageviews, post likes or shares, impressions, etc. Look at each channel separately, and compare to your largest competitors to get a sense on how you’re matching up (or how you’re CRUSHING them!).

If you’re crunched for time and analytics is not your thing, invest in software to help track data. A lot can be tracked using free tools like, Google Analytics, and Hootsuite. Diving in to see which content received the most clicks, shares, etc. will show you what to repurpose in the future. Look for common themes in your analysis, for example if advice posts with numbers in the title perform wonderfully on Facebook then up these on that platform.

Share your results and set monthly strategy meetings with your different marketing forces within your company to plan for the future. Working collaboratively and taking a step back to brainstorm and reevaluate your strategy can drastically improve your social efforts. Also leverage other departments within your business. Various teams like client services and sales might have stellar ideas for social since they are the people who communicate with prospects and customers on a daily basis.

Social Media Marketing Strategy #6: Stay Active On Google+
Many of you may be raising an eyebrow, but Google+, often viewed as the Facebook wannabe, is not going away anytime soon. In fact, it’s only becoming more and more important for businesses to actively engage and grow their circles on this platform. When you search on Google you will notice that Google+ is everywhere. If your business is actively posting on Google+, you will receive essentially free ad space when users search for you on Google.
Notice when I do a search for Salesforce not only does their Google+ follower number display, but there’s a call-to-action to follow their brand, as well as recent posts on their Google+ page, on the right side of the SERP.

According to a survey, leading marketers believe the number of Google +1’s plays the second largest part in determining search engine rankings. This isn’t proven to be true, but clearly marketers are seeing that Google+ is affecting the visibility of their content on Google.

Google+ is also integrated with YouTube, so users are unable to comment on the platform without being opted into Google+. Essentially Google is making having a Google+ account pretty much essential.

What will you do to improve your social media marketing efforts in 2014?

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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Do you really need an SSL for your ecommerce website?

It is critical era in which we are more concerned about the security of websites. Any website be it a simple web page or a complex web application are equally vulnerable to security threats. Virus, Trojan, adware, spyware, malware, hackers and the list continue. Especially those websites which involved in online payment option (online shopping, online banking, trading, online retailing, NGOs in short all websites coming in the category of ecommerce) are at a higher risk. As the final motto of any intruder or hacker would be gaining money directly or indirectly.

Well, long story short, yes you need to secure your E-Commerce website with SSL certificate. SSL ensures the encryption of the connection as well as the data transmitted between the source and destination and vice versa.

What are the factors that make it compulsory to use SSL in ecommerce website? Lets us see a few factors which lead to the enforcement of the usage of SSL.

Credit/Debit Card Acceptance:
Are you an online shopping/banking/trading website whether an established or a newbie? If yes, then you definitely will be accepting payment through credit/debit card. And also you realize that credit/debit card information provided by any customer is the most sensitive data to be protected. Threats like Identity theft, phishing and malware attack are more likely to create chaos on your website if you are not SSL protected.

Also if you are storing credit/debit card details in your database then obviously you are going to retrieve the data or process the data in any other way offline through POS machine or if you directly charge on your dealer account’s website, then you should be SSL protected.

Login Form:
Login form will carry all the specifics of the customer from his name, address, phone number, workplace to his bank account number. If all this data is transmitted from one source to another in a plain text form then it is but natural that any attacker would easily access that information and hence will misuse it. SSL here enforces the strong encryption of the data being transmitted at the same time it establishes a secured connection between the two end points. There are possibly two ways of securing the login form:

To secure the login page with the SSL certificate separately.
And another way is to make the login form your website’s home page and securing it with SSL.

Development issues:
Yes, it is possible that there might be some issues in development side. However, it is not wise to blame your developer as he would never have done it intentionally. Many a times organizations have their whole website or a part of website built up offshore, developer may download a source code from already compromised websites, SQL injections if not closed the database connection are some of the common loopholes that lead to security breaches.

One should always prefer coding of the website inside the company itself, purchase a code signing SSL certificate to ensure the integrity as well as authenticity of the code, never ever download code from an unsecured website, always close the SQL database connection. Install Standard or EV SSL certificate which comes along with enhanced security tools like anti malware scan and phishing scan.

From above factors it must be clear that how important SSL certificate is to secure your website as well as your reputation.

SSL everywhere
Now, there are many web host providers that provide SSL certificates to be used up in a share. But the shared SSL does not appeal the visitor that much as private SSL certificate separately does. Also, it may not display the organization name as well as the website’s name and also it may show a warning message. People feel uncomfortable to filling their personal information with shared SSL warning massage.

I would like to recommend go with standard SSL certificate which is issued on fully qualified domain name and will not shows any warning massage. Using trusted brand SSL certificate is more prefer for securing personal information and transaction for ecommerce business.

If you are a newbie and a low budget website owner then there is piece of cake for you too. You can redirect the customers to the trusted third party payment processor like PayPal. But here also the need of SSL appears as PayPal allows you to accept credit card information on your website and obviously you are going to store it.

Well, the above feature cannot be counted as an alternative for using SSL as it is just securing your website’s payment procedure still your login form and other codes of your website needs to be secured. And for that you need SSL certificate.

For those websites who are using third party payment processors Standard SSL certificate is the best match.

While for those who are dealing with each and everything of ecommerce from scrap on their websites itself, an EV SSL certificate is a must.

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Sunday, 6 July 2014

Were You Really Hit By A Search Engine Penalty, Or Is It Something Else? - Arine Solutions

Often, I’ll speak to prospective clients who think they’ve been hit by an algorithm update or a penalty. They’ve lost a lot of organic traffic, so they immediately think that a search engine change is to blame.

Unfortunately, I’ve also run into many situations where SEOs are using algorithm updates such as Panda or Penguin as explanations for organic traffic drops. Because clients may not understand the technical nature of SEO, vendors can often hide behind excuses of algorithm updates or past penalties as the reasons for traffic drops. So how can you know what the real problem is?

Have You REALLY Been Hit With A Penalty?
The first step in understanding if your site has been a victim of an algorithm update or penalty is to check your organic traffic levels. If an algorithm update or penalty are at work, you often may see organic traffic drop off a cliff.  Dig deeper to determine if the drops are solely from one search engine. If not, then an algorithm update or penalty are likely not the cause, since they would only affect traffic from one search engine.

Also check the timing of the drop, note the search engine and then check Moz’s Google Algorithm Update History page which can provide you with a timeframe of recent updates. If your traffic drop timeframe also matches the timing of an algorithm update, your site may have been affected by an update.

To check for penalties, such as inbound link penalties associated with Penguin, the first step is to ensure you have a Google Webmaster Tools account. Check this account regularly to be sure that you’re not missing notifications from Google about potential spammy links they may have identified.

Additionally, if you suspect that your SEO has been building spammy links, check some of the backlinks that Google has identified and listed in Google Webmaster Tools.

Click on the links themselves — view the pages where the links originate from. What are they like? Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart described identifying pornography as, “I know it when I see it.” The same could be said about spammy links. It can be difficult to define exactly what constitutes a spammy link or site, but you’ll certainly know a site or link is spammy when you see it.

Other Common Reasons For Major Organic Traffic Drops
There can be other common reasons for big traffic drops, including blocked indexing, missing redirects, market changes and level of SEO activity.

Blocked Indexing
If traffic is quickly dropping from multiple search engines, this could be a sign of site technical issues that have prevented search engine indexing. Has your robots.txt file from your test server been moved to the live server accidentally? If so, it could be blocking search engines from indexing.

Check your robots.txt file for disallow statements that apply to your whole website or specific pages that have lost traffic. If this is the case, remove the incorrect disallow statements from the robots.txt to begin recovery.

Along with the robots file, there may be other ways that bots are being blocked from indexing content. Was your site redesigned recently, or did pages with the greatest losses experience a programming change? Other common issues that can prevent indexing include using JavaScript for certain page information, placing forms in front of content (search engine bots cannot fill out forms), and other types of technical changes.

Missing Redirects
Often overlooked in the website relaunch process, 301 redirects are crucial for search engine robots to find content when the URL and/or domain for a site has been updated, which is common with site relaunches. Here’s an example of traffic drops (across multiple search engines) for a site relaunched without 301 redirects in place:
missing redirects

How can you see if you’re missing 301 redirects? In analytics, choose a timeframe from before the relaunch. Drill down to find a handful of your most visited pages on the website from that time period. Enter that URL in your browser address bar. If you receive a 404 error, then a 301 redirect was not created for that page and is a likely culprit in your organic traffic losses.

And if you’re missing 301 redirects for your most trafficked pages on your site, it’s likely safe to assume that 301s were not created for any pages on the site, since you would likely prioritize your most trafficked pages for redirection.

Market Changes
On occasion, I’ve also found that organic traffic drops because of a decrease in searches in a particular market. A few years back, I was working with a company that sold disk defragmentation software. Even though our rankings for key terms were consistently improving, organic traffic was dropping. Why? Was it a penalty or algorithm update? Neither — it was market conditions.

A good tool to use in these situations is Google Trends, which shows keyword search volume over a time period. Notice the pattern over the past ten years for the term “disk defragmentation”:
google trends

Lo and behold, in this instance, the overall search interest in terms like “disk defragmentation” has been on the decline for some time. This isn’t a measurement of SEO, per se, but rather an industry indicator.

Similar searches for the company’s brand name, its competitors’ brand names, and other related non-brand terms demonstrated similar results.

Level Of SEO Activity
One last issue I often see is that website owners may perceive SEO as a one-time project rather than an ongoing investment. The problem with this approach is that the elements are always shifting in SEO:

  • Ranking factors change and evolve over time
  • Competitors may be investing more in SEO than you are
  • New competitors enter the fray each day

Again, you may initially perceive organic traffic loss over time as a potential algorithm or penalty issue, but truly it just may be that SEO inaction over time has caused the site to lose traction in search.

Final Thoughts
Before jumping to the conclusion that your site has been hit by an algorithm update or penalty, be sure to check all of these factors. While this isn’t a comprehensive list, these are the most common issues I’ve encountered that are mistaken for algorithm updates or penalties.

It’s far better to understand the real problem and face it head on than to blame an algorithm update or penalty; and, you’ll be one step closer to solving the real issue at hand and regaining organic search traffic.

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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Panda Strikes Again: Yahoo Voices & The Yahoo Contributor Network Closing Down - Arine Solutions

Yahoo has announced another round of product cuts and changes, all part of what it calls a continued effort on “furthering our focus.”

The most notable cut announced today is the upcoming closure of both Yahoo Voices ( and the Yahoo Contributor Network (

The former is Yahoo’s home for user-generated articles; the latter is the network of authors that generates the content. Yahoo says that Voices will shut down on July 31st — a help document pegs the exact (and odd) time at 11:38 pm on July 30th. The Yahoo Contributor Network will follow “by the end of August.” No exact date is given.

Content that Yahoo published via the Voices site and other Yahoo properties like Yahoo News or Yahoo Sports will be removed from the web. Yahoo says some of the “work for hire” content that’s part of these services may remain on the web.

Panda Fallout
Yahoo Voices was born in 2011 out of the dust of Associated Content, a publishing site that Yahoo bought in 2010 — and a site that was creating about 10,000 new articles per week.

This all happened around the time of Google’s Panda algorithm, which specifically targeted so-called “content farms” like Associated Content — sites that produced vast amounts of content, at least some of which Google considered low quality. At our SMX West conference in 2011, Associated Content revealed that two-thirds of its content had suffered in the immediate aftermath of the Panda update.

When Yahoo shut down Associated Content in late 2011, it deleted 75,000 articles and moved the rest to Yahoo Voices, using a new domain in the hopes of starting fresh.

Yahoo’s announcement today makes no specific reference to the Panda update and its impact on Yahoo Voices, but the decision to shut it and the Yahoo Contributor Network down is another sign that the glory days of mass-produced user-generated content are over.

See Yahoo’s announcement for a list of other services and products that are being shut down or combined into other Yahoo products.

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