When marketing your business through social media, it can be easy to hit a proverbial wall and decide that everything worth doing has already been done. When you find yourself stuck in this rut, it can be extremely helpful to read about the innovative ways other companies are using social media. This will hopefully inspire you to put your own spin on a particularly interesting or engaging campaign, rather than solidify your thought that everything has already been thought of.

David Moth has a fantastic list of excellence in social media at Econsultancy. Some even come with a disclaimer that they’re no longer possible since they bent the rules of a specific social media platform, but that should encourage you to bend your own rules.

The debate between skeuomorphism and flat design has been covered thoroughly, but when I talked about it I found it hard to think of many examples of flat design. Possibly because I largely use Apple products or because flat design is a new-ish trend, I find myself interacting with skeuomorphic design interfaces much more often than flat design schemes.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of sites out there using the ideas behind flat design to create striking pages. For those unfamiliar, flat design is a style that drops all forms of imitation of depth or “realism” in favor of designing based on the flat screens we actually use. A great deal of new sites are using the style to create clean, minimal pages that emphasize simplicity and interaction, and Chris Spooner compiled a list of sites that have sprung up using flat design, complete with images for each website.

The actual debate between the two design methods is of course overblown. Some writers act as if the schism will decide the future look of the internet in the same way VHS and Laserdisk competed for how we watched movies at home. Unlike that type of competitive market, neither is “better” for the internet, though one may be more suited for your current project. These pages definitely make it clear that flat design can inspire creative and user-friendly interfaces just like skeuomorphism can.

New business have a lot to manage in a short period of time if they hope to be sustainable, and one of the most important marketing tools they can use is SEO. Establishing your company online is a huge step towards establishing your business in your community, and the only way to get popular online is to have a website showing up in the search rankings.

In the past, creating a respectable website with good content would have been enough to get your page on the search results page, but the internet is now an incredibly competitive arena. To get your website on the front page, you have to create great content while also managing a number of ranking signals that Google and Bing use to rank websites.

These signals are read by “bots” or “spiders” that index web pages and all of their internal information, which are sorted by algorithms that decide what pages get ranked where. There are seemingly countless signals, and it can be overwhelming when you are just getting started.

Startups trying to understand SEO often feel completely confused by the barrage of technical information out there, but there are some basic steps you can take to get started. Sujan Patel has five rules you can apply to running your website which will help any fledgling business firmly ground their online presence.

Source: RBertelg/Flickr.com

Source: RBertelg/Flickr.com

Website owners and SEOs have to budget their time wisely. There are a billion different ways you can try to gather traffic, but some are more effective than others. Of course, anyone that preaches that they have a quick way to get visitors is probably pushing questionable or outright terrible practices that won’t actually work, but there are also methods out there that under perform because they have become outdated or just fail to understand the field.

Sujan Patel put together a list of seven of these SEO tasks that waste precious time at Search Engine Journal. Some of these tasks are harmless, but don’t have any actual value. Checking your site traffic every day can be tempting, especially to new site owners. There is a legitimate thrill to seeing people begin to trickle onto your content, and the number of visitors is a helpful metric to keep note of, but checking traffic every day focuses too much on individual visitors and not the overall trends in traffic. Trends in traffic numbers give you much more useful information than seeing every single visitor arriving on your page.

Some of the other tactics Patel points out are downright frowned upon by the SEO community, and the Search Engines are trying to put a stop to them. Buying backlink packages was nothing more than a scheme to get sites to the top of rankings without having any actual value. It was a loophole that many took advantage of, but it has absolutely no real worth, and Google’s algorithm updates have made it very clear that the practice isn’t tolerated anymore.

Monitoring keyword density, unlike the past two, used to actually be fairly useful, but it has absolutely no function in the current SEO climate. Keyword density was never quite as important as some made it seem, but for a period Google’s system did favor sites with a reasonable amount of keywords within the content. That is pretty much completely gone now, and the more advanced search engines favor natural sounding content rather than overstuffed robotic sounding paragraphs.

Patel has even more tasks that are draining your time without giving anything back. It is easy to be tempted by easy paths to high rankings or to fall out of touch with the constantly changing SEO world if you let it happen. The best way to know where to focus your energy is to keep up to date with everything happening in SEO regularly, and to look for practices which offer long-term, sustainable growth for your site.

Source: Flickr

Typography lagged behind a lot of innovation online for years because of constrictions on font use. Text on the internet relied on a few fonts that would be on almost every visitor’s computer, and even then you were doubly limited by text legibility. Web-safe fonts opened the doors a little for designers, but they also created their own set of unique problems.

It hasn’t been until just recently that creative typography became easily achievable and widespread online thanks to a few technological jumps. Higher display resolutions, more control over text, and the wonderful @font-face implementation has made typography not just a creative flourish, but a necessary concern when trying to make a gorgeous site.

Whether or not this is related to the burst in popularity for typography in design as a whole is hard to tell, but it is hard to deny that while the internet has been making typography easier, more traditional designers have also been enjoying a renaissance for calligraphy and innovative use of text.

Paula Borowska is as big of a typography lover as I am, and she agrees that 2013 is going to be huge for online typography. She predicted the typography trends for this year over at Designmodo, and it is interesting to see how many of her predictions are parallel with the wider trends for web design at the moment. The first trend she mentions, an increased utilization of white or negative space, has been on every web design list for this year, and it is hard to deny that eye-popping use of text has helped push minimalistic design to new heights recently.

Link building is still considered a staple to SEO, despite what any bloggers may say. Yes, Google has clamped down on those using questionable quality links or outright spam to try to boost their rankings, but if you have been building a quality link profile, you likely never had problems with any of the countless Penguin updates.

For new sites, understanding where and how to begin building a link profile can be a bit confusing however. The most important tip for building up links is to start broad. While links tightly connected to keywords have a much bigger effect on rankings, they only improve your rankings in very specific searches.

Instead, you should be trying to create a broader relevance. This makes you rank higher for all keyword combinations rather than the few specific keyword combinations. Once you start seeing broader improvement, you can see what specific keyword combinations are doing the best, and which ones need your focus.

Peter van der Graaf explains how to begin your hunt for a better link profile over at Search Engine Watch, where he explains how to identify quality link partners and how to shift from a broad link profile to specific keyword focused links once the time is right.

When it comes to online marketing, images are very in. Facebook has taken notice and plans to up their advertising haul by expanding image size within their sidebar ads and tweaking the format.

Jennifer Van Grove, of CNet, writes that Facebook is currently testing the new ads on a small percentage of U.S. users’ screens. The image is larger and stretches from border to border of the right-hand column. Ad text, including a bold headline then appears underneath the ad.

This change makes Facebook ads more attractive to users, which in turn makes them more attractive for advertisers and brings in more money for Facebook.

High quality images are one of the best ways to make a website look great, but they pose a problem. No matter how nice a website looks, if it takes too long to load, your audience won’t stick around to see it. Images are one of the biggest slow downs on a websites loading time, but there are ways to optimize your images so that they don’t kill your speed.

Gisele Muller found a few tools that help lessen your images’ load on your site. They all are mostly simple, like TinyPNG which uses smart lossy compression techniques to make your PNGs smaller without destroying the quality of the image. Most function by removing the unnecessary information included in every photo, such as color profiles or comments.

No matter what, if you want a gorgeous site, you are going to want to use quite a few images. If you want people to actually use your site, you will have to find ways to optimize those images so they don’t slow you down and hold you back.

Building a backlink profile is considered a staple of SEO techniques, but eventually you may have to do some cleaning up, especially now that Google has introduced multiple algorithms to clamp down on the use of low-quality links.

If you’ve seen a sudden drop in traffic or rankings lately, it is likely you were hit by one of these algorithms. You may have received a notification of being penalized, but unless it was a manual action, it is highly likely you got no warning that you were hit by the changes. Either way, one way towards repairing the drop in traffic is to do some pruning on your backlinks, and removing low-quality links that are pointing to your site.

Cleaning up your links is neither fast nor easy. It takes time and patience, but with effort you can restore your site’s health. You can’t just go in and cut out random links hoping to solve the issue. Attacking the problem broadly could cause more problems, and pruning backlinks is considered a last-ditch effort according to SEO.com. “You should exhaust all of your other efforts like updating your content, building higher quality links and producing good content to promote and engage users before you consider removing bad links.”

After you have tried all these methods and determined whether your website was hit by a penalty or an algorithm update, then you can create a strategy for fixing your backlinks. Neither problem can be fixed automatically. If you received a manual penalty, you will have to do everything you can to fix the issue identified, and submit a reconsideration request. Algorithm updates, on the other hand, require changing your methods and waiting to see positive growth for your site.

If you are ready to put in the work and time to try to properly repair your site, and you’ve already tried everything else, then it is time to really get your hands dirty. SEO.com has a full tutorial for cleaning up backlinks, and it walks you through every step, including suggesting tools for analyzing backlinks.

AdWords for Video launched last August, but it took until earlier this month to tack on the much needed analytical tools that have become standard for regular, old AdWords for text.

As Katie Ingram reports for CMS Wire, AdWords for video has added 3 essential tools to help advertisers track who is experiencing their ads.

Reach and Frequency Reporting allows users to see how many unique viewers their ad has received, which seems like something that shouldn’t have taken 6-months to include.

Column Sets takes a company’s marketing goals and shows them relevant metrics to reach said goal. Users can use default columns, such as Website and Conversions or Views and Audience, or make their own out of the available metrics.

GeoMap simply shows where viewers of your ad are located. None of these are groundbreaking inventions, but rather relevant and useful tools to help make AdWords for Video as effective and popular as the original flavor.