The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project recently released it’s findings from a phone survey of about 1-thousand US adults. As Matt McGee reports for Marketing Land, the survey aimed to discover who exactly is using various social networking sites. Some of the findings you may have already assumed, such as, Pinterest is dominated by women and those with good, higher paying careers are using LinkedIn. All of the information is valuable, however, so you can tailor messages on specific sites to the demographics that are most often found there.


66-percent of Internet users are on Facebook, which is by far the highest percentage of users. Users are fairly evenly distributed between men and women, education level and annual income. The biggest advantage Facebook features is the captivation of older Internet users. 56-percent of those age 50-64 have an account, which makes Facebook the clear top choice for marketing to the older crowd, despite the fact that younger users also flock their.


Though Twitter does not hold a large market share of Internet users overall, it is almost entirely populated by well-educated men and women under 50. The annual income data is well dispersed across the spectrum, which sets Twitter apart from LinkedIn.


As I mentioned earlier, LinkedIn is generally used by successful professionals over the age of 30. Its clientele is made up of 36-percent of Internet users with college degrees and 34-percent of Internet users with an annual salary over $75-thousand. With the exception of Facebook, which posted large percentages in every category thanks to their sheer number of users, LinkedIn is by far the leader in those two categories.


19-percent of female Internet users have a Pinterest account and that number is almost certainly still growing. Though their ages tend to skew younger than 65, you can reach nearly every female group through Pinterest.

Instagram and Tumblr

These image based sites returned data that is remarkably similar. Their users are mostly young, 30 or below, with at least some college experience. Oddly, Instagram features a large number of well-off users, 16-percent of those with a salary above $75 thousand. Tumblr is more evenly dispersed and, if anything, tends to attract those with a salary below $50-thousand per year.


Google’s changes to their SEO policies have made optimization more and more difficult over the past few years. Chris Crum at WebProNews suggests that a new study from the world’s largest search marketing-specific nonprofit trade organization SEMPO reports that SEO spending is still going strong in spite of all of the free information available on the Internet.

The 72-page report, published by Econsultancy, looked at almost 900 companies and agencies and found that, “overall, the report depicts a stable industry, without making dramatic changes.” Despite significant changes in practices through the inclusion of new tools and algorithms, the survey reports that SEO has “very much the same goals in place.”

Most survey respondents increased their SEO budgets over recent years, and as low as 2% of those responding said they did not spend money on SEO. Meanwhile, the amount of agency billing for SEO services is on the rise. SEMPCO says “a significant rise in those spending less than $100k corresponds to higher numbers across the board, with the greatest increase in the $1 to $5 million range.”

One change that is particularly interesting is the statement by SEMPCO that “survey responses show a drop in the blunt objectives of driving traffic.” However, the amount of agencies citing brand reputation as their primary objective has consistently doubled annually. This is especially clear in the paid side of the industry.

What can’t be denied after the report is the value of the search marketing industry is only rising, even when faced by the rise in popularity of social media and Google algorithm updates that force sites to be less reliant on Google.

The report makes clear the “changes to the Google algorithm affects a large percent of marketers, or at least has them concerned,” and SEMPCO also notes “87% call the updates of the last 12-18 months ‘significant or highly significant'”. Most find the changes to be positive, but some legitimate brands have felt the backlash of the hunt for spam sites. Meanwhile, there are rumors of more Google updates in the future.

Thankfully, Google offers some advice on SEO, especially when beginning to look at hiring someone: “Deciding to hire an SEO is a big decision that can potentially improve your site and save time, but you can also risk damage to your site and reputation. Make sure to research the potential advantages as well as the damage that an irresponsible SEO can do to your site.”

Google does emphasize the benefits SEO agencies can provide, such as technical advice on website development, content development, keyword research, and expertise in specific markets and geographies.

They advise “before beginning your search for an SEO, it’s a great idea to become an educated consumer and get familiar with how search engines work.” Of course, they recommend their Webmaster Guidelines and Google 101: How Google crawls, indexes and serves the web as starting points. Google also recommends hiring an SEO early in the development process. They even offer a list of questions you can ask SEOs during your hiring process.

Google’s assistance with SEO doesn’t come without it’s warnings, however. “While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEO’s have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to manipulate search engine results in unfair ways.”

It’s Google’s suggestion to be nervous of any SEO firms or agencies that contact you out of the blue, or one that asks you to link to them. “You should never have to link to an SEO.” They also warn that no firm can guarantee you a #1 ranking.

And if Google hasn’t already made you worn out from lists of recommendations, they also offer a list of deal-breakers when investigating an SEO, such as if the SEO owns shadow domains, puts links to their other clients on doorway pages or offers to sell keywords in the address bar.

Just because Google offers lots of advice, doesn’t mean they are making it easy to get on the first page of test results. But, they are offering resources to give your site its best shot and SEO doesn’t look to be going anywhere.

“Write something…and make it count.” Daunting words that have kept plenty of marketers awake at night. Before you make your company’s next Facebook post, consider Ron Schott’s elements of a succesful post.

Rather than a broad, please everyone approach, utilize Facebook’s advanced targeting and create copy specifically for your diverse range of consumers. Study your audience and create targeting profiles filtering by: age, gender, ‘interested in’, ‘relationship status’, language, education, workplace and location down to city.

Find a relevant, interesting picture that’s ideally no bigger than 403 px by 403 px. That way, your loyal customers will pin the image and spread the word for you.

Time the relese of your brilliant post based on the activity of your audience. Be sure to consider outside influences that could cause social media to blow up. I’m talking about political debates, press conferences or sporting events. Plan ahead so your work of art doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

Neglecting design is unforgivable in the online world. Having a good design is the difference between a good user experience and a frustrating one, which in turn makes the difference between success and failure for your site.

Good design is a main component of what made Facebook and Twitter rise above other social media sites. Using attention grabbing compositions keeps people reading. It also improves your site’s reputation. Hopefully these design tips will help you attract visitors to your web page and keep them there.

  1. Don’t crowd your page With Ads – Advertising may seem like a great money making method, but if you go overboard with ads, your site will look bad and users will be put off. Your sidebars should be places of content, not clutter. You don’t want to distract people into leaving your page, do you? If you decide to go the ad route, remember that less is more. Integrate the ads into your site’s appearance and try to only allow ads that are relevant to your content.
  2. Use Images Strategically and Professionally – Having high quality and professional pictures on your page can be a great boost to your aesthetic. Too many photos, however, and you run into the same problem as with ads. Too many pictures can overwhelm the viewer, and more importantly, they can make the site just look like a mess. Choose images carefully so that they add to your content, and not distract from it.
  3. Use a Professional Header Graphic – Your header graphic is at the top of every page a visitor sees. It affects their interaction with your entire website. So, you could say having a professional header graphic is fairly important to your user’s overall experience. If you aren’t a professional designer, this is one area where hiring someone is for the best. Make it clean and simple. You want to draw in visitors with a stylish and classy header, not bare down on them with clashing graphics and text.
  4. Use a Color Scheme That Highlights Your Content – The best color palettes for web sites are those with a few relatively similar colors. Complementary colors or colors close to each other on the color wheel help make sure nothing clashes, and that you don’t distract from content. You want your design to bring attention to the content in a positive way and not overwhelm.

Making sure you follow these rules for your site’s design can help improve your visitors’ experiences. Happy viewers makes for return visitors and more time spent on your site. By using a design that complements your content, your visitors will feel naturally drawn to it and they’ll be much more likely to stick around.

For more suggestions on web design, look at Sarah Arrow’s article at Sark e-Media.


We all use different ways to identify ourselves online. Most use their websites or social media pages. The problem is, once you go outside of your own domains and comment on blogs or forums, you become, for all intents and purposes, anonymous. Not so if you use a Gravatar, or ‘Globally Recognized Avatar’.

What is a Gravatar?

A Gravatar allows you to make a sort of ‘brand’ image of yourself by concisely providing a visual summation of the identity and personality of your choice.

The trick is choosing one that works best for your business, whether it is a standard head and shoulders photograph of you or your brand or product’s logo.

Everyone knows that blogs and forums are some of the most useful resources one can have to keep in touch with the trends and technical issues of their industry or areas of interest. What many may also realize is the comments sections on these posts are sometimes even more useful than reading the articles.

If you take a moment to look at comments sections, there are usually three different types of commenters.

  1. Spammers – The posters who leave generic comments that are often irrelevant.
  2. The Interested – Posters who appear to have a genuine interest in the subject, but are not usually very informed.
  3. The “Experts” – The people who post relevant and informative comments.

You will notice the Experts almost always have a Gravatar next to their names.

How Do I Create a Gravatar?

Creating a gravatar is as quick as it is easy and free. If you have a WordPress account, it’s as simple as logging in to If you don’t have a WordPress account, you can just associate your Gravatar with your email address.

After that, all there is to do is set up a profile with a suitable image and a few personal or business details. You can even add links to existing blogs, websites and social media pages.

Now, anywhere you comment, you will have your Gravatar next to it.

What Are The Benefits of Gravatars?

If you participate in comments sections frequently, you will begin to be recognized by others in the industry. This is why it is essential to have a professional looking image. This will help raise awareness of all of your pages, as well as their reputations inside the area of interest.

Considering it takes almost no time, and Gravatar doesn’t send you waves of spam e-mail, there’s really no reason not to sign up. You’ll be surprised by just how much your Gravatar does for you.


If you need more persuading to check out Gravatar, check out Alistair Harris’ article at ClickThrough.

Social media has exploded over the past five years, especially for the marketing of businesses. Why? The simple answer is because it’s free. But, while it is free to use, in order to be successful on social media, you have to invest a lot of your own time and effort.

There are opportunities for you to get all of those ‘Likes’ and followers you desire overnight though. Ellen Gipko, at Search Engine Journal, discovered multiple freelance job postings in search of, or offering, ‘Likes’ or followers for a price.

While having more ‘Likes’ than the competition may initially draw people in, they aren’t sticking around if your page is a ghost town. And what good are 500 Twitter followers if they don’t interact with you and create an interesting, entertaining forum?

There seems to be no evidence that having a boat-load of “REAL USA LIKES” on your Facebook page improves your SEO rankings either.

So while you may be jealous that your main competitor’s profile boasts more ‘Likes’ than yours, remember that old saying: C.R.E.A.M. or Content Rules Everything Around Me. If you put in the leg, er finger work, you’ll get the ‘Likes’ and followers and have a reputation to grow on your success.

Technical debt is a common issue in the start-up ecosystem, and it has been well discussed. When scaling your product and engineering, sacrifices must be made for the sake of speed, but they almost always cause problems later. What most start-ups fail to realize is that this problem occurs in almost every aspect and form of business practice.

Rand Fishkin uses a story to illustrate this point. A man named Heaton sees a job ad on a website that looks perfect for his skill set. He applies and, 4 days later, gets an email asking to talk over the phone. The hiring manager loves Heaton and emails him 2 days later inviting him to meet with the whole team. 10 days later, Heaton meets for a full interview and is introduced to 4 of the 6 other teammates. The other 2 are out, so Heaton is scheduled to come back 3 days later. When he comes in, he gets a written offer.

Unfortunately, Heaton had interviewed at a big corporation the day after he had applied for this opportunity with a start-up. They immediately sent him an offer with plenty of time to consider. On the last day he was allowed by this offer, Heaton accepted. This day happened to be the day before he was offered a job with the start-up, which Heaton would have preferred to work at. Heaton assumes any company that takes 23 days to get back in touch for an important position already has too many issues anyhow.

In reality, they are hiring because they have a huge issue. There’s no HR or hiring function, so they had to ask the CEO to make the hire, in addition to an already difficult future. Most in this position haven’t had to fire before, so they may not realize how important it is to be fast with responses when hiring. Also, each individual only feels like they’re taking a couple days with their responses. But these few days individually add up quickly, which led to Heaton’s problems.

Only after losing Heaton does the start-up realize it has this issue and tries to solve it.

Problems like technical debt happen in every aspect of business where a start-up can take a shortcut. Not every problem goes unaddressed or scales badly, but enough issues do create an inflection point that costs money.

If you are a start-up or are joining one, be ready for these types of problems. It is always difficult to try to fix problems once you are already moving, but you will have to. Also, if you are interested in a start-up from the outside, empathize with their problems and know they may not be as messed up as it appears. They may just be dealing with start-up debt.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference last week that his company “burned two years not working on mobile.” As Carly Page reports, he even went as far as to say “Now we are a mobile company” and “we are going to make a lot more money than on desktop.”

Zuckerberg, however, dispelled rumors that Facebook would move into the hardware game by releasing their own mobile phone.

There could be a search function implemented into Facebook in the near future though. Facebook is currently seeing about a billion search queries per day, which is understandably enough to make even a wealthy man like Zuckerberg take notice.


Technical SEO can be interesting, but no one likes coming across the same problems time and time again. That’s why it’s shocking how many websites are struggling with the same issues.

Here are some of the most frequent issues that can found while doing a site audit. We also have the solutions, so you can be prepared if you come across any of these issues.

1) Uppercase vs. Lowercase URLs – This happens most often on sites that use .NET. The server is configured to respond to URLs with uppercase letters and doesn’t redirect or rewrite to lowercase versions. This issue is slowly disappearing because search engines are improving a lot at recognizing canonical versions and disregarding copies. Just because it is going away doesn’t mean this issue should be ignored. Search engines still make mistakes doing this, so don’t rely on them.

Luckily, there is a an easy fix for this issue in the form of a URL rewrite module, which solves the issue on IIS 7 servers. There is a convenient option inside the interface that allows you to enforce lowercase URLs. If you do this, a rule is added to the web config file and this problem is gone.

2) Multiple Versions of the Homepage – If you are auditing a .NET website, go check to see if exists. Most likely, it does. The page is a duplicate that search engines often find via navigation or XML sitemaps. Other platforms will instead make URLs like or Most contemporary search engines automatically fix the problem, but why not make sure there isn’t an issue to be fixed?

The best way to solve this problem begins with doing a crawl of the site and exporting it into a CSV filtered by META title column. Do a search for the homepage title and you’ll quickly spot duplicates of your homepage. An easy fix for these duplicates is to add a 301 redirect version of the page that directs to the correct version.

You can also do a crawl with a tool like Screaming Frog to find internal links that point to the duplicate pages. Then, you can edit the duplicate pages so they direct to the correct URL. Having internal links that go via 301 can cost you some link equity.

3) Query Parameters Added to the End of URLs – This issue is most common on database driven eCommerce websites because there are tons of attributes and filtering options. This means often you will find URLs like In that example, the product is filtered by color. Filtering like this can be good for users, but bad for searches. Unless your customers do not search for the specific product using color, the URL is probably not the best landing page to target with keywords.

Another issue that tends to show up on tons of crawls of sites is when these parameters are combined together. The worst is when the parameters can be combined in different orders but return the same content, such as:

Because both of these have different paths but return the same content, they are seen as duplicate content. It is important to remember Google allocates crawl budget based on PageRank. Make sure your budget is being used efficiently.

To begin fixing this issue, you need to address which pages you want Google to crawl and index. Make this decision based on keyword research and cross reference all database attributes with your core target keywords. You need to figure out what attributes are keywords used to find products. In figuring this out, it is possible to find high search volume for certain keywords, for example “Nike” = “Running Shoes.” If you find this, you want a landing page for “Nike Running Shoes” to be crawlable and indexable. Make sure the database attribute has an SEO friendly URL and ensure that the URLs are part of the navigation structure of your site so that a good flow of PageRank users can find the pages easily.

The next step depends on whether you want the specific attribute indexed or not. If the URLs are not already indexed, add the URL structure to your robots.txt file and test your regex properly to make sure you don’t block anything accidentally. Also, make sure you use the Fetch as Google feature in Webmaster tools. Remember, however, if the URLs are already indexed, adding them to your robots.txt file will not remove them.

If the URLs are indexed, unfortunately you are in need of the rel=canonical tag. If you inherit one of these situations and are not able to fix the core of the issue, the rel=canonical tag covers the issue in hope that it can be solved later. You’ll want to add this tag to the URLs you do not want indexed and point to the most relevant URL you do want indexed.

4) Soft URL Errors – A soft 404 is a page that looks like a 404 but returns a HTTP status code 200. If this happens, the user sees something resembling “Sorry the page you requested cannot be found”, but the code 200 tells search engines that the page is still working. This disconnect can be the source of the issue with pages being crawled and indexed when you don’t want them to be. A soft 404 also means real broken pages can’t be found.

Thankfully, this problem has a very easy fix for any developer who can set the page to return a 404 status code instead of a 200. You can use Google Webmaster tools to find any soft 404s Google has detected. You can also perform a manual check by going to a broken URL and seeing what status code is returned.

5) 302 Redirects Instead of 301 Redirects – Because users won’t be able to tell there is even a problem, this is a pretty easy problem for developers to make. A 301 redirect is permanent. Search engines recognize this and send link equity elsewhere. A 302 redirect is temporary and search engines will expect the original page to return soon, which leaves link equity where it is.

Find 302s by using a deep crawler like Screaming Frog. It allows you to filter by 302s, which you can then check individually. You can then ask your developers to change any that should be 301s.

6) Broken or Outdated Site Maps – XML sitemaps may not be essential, but they are very useful to search engines that make sure they can find all the URLs that matter. XML sitemaps help show the search engines what is important. Letting your sitemap become outdated causes them to contain broken links and miss any new content and URLs. Keeping sitemaps updated is especially important for big sites that add new pages frequently. Bing also penalizes sites with too many issues in their sitemaps.

Audit your current sitemap for broken links. After, speak to your developers about updating your XML sitemap and make it dynamic so that it updates frequently. How frequently depends on your resources, but doing this will save you a lot of trouble later.

It is very possible you will come across other issues while doing an audit, but, hopefully, if you come across any of these, you are now prepared to fix the problem.


For more Technical SEO Problems, read this article by Paddy Moogan at SEOmoz.

A specific question that all business owners with a LinkedIn profile will have to find an answer eventually is, should I accept a LinkedIn invitation from a competitor? Lori Ruff at Integrated Alliances find that the answer is not as simple as yes or no.

Before making your decision, think about your competitor’s reasoning for sending you the invitation. Also, remember your reasons for having a LinkedIn profile to begin with.  If this person doesn’t help you meet your goals and doesn’t offer you any advantages, there’s no reason to connect with them.

However, keep in mind that your competitors likely encounter the same day-to-day problems you do. Afterall, they’re in the same business. Don’t be too hasty when deciding whether to accept that invite.  Down the road, your choice could come back to haunt you.

So, should you accept your competitor’s invitation?  Unfortunately, the answer to this one seems to be a resounding ‘maybe’.