Monday, July 29, 2013

Custom URL on YouTube: How to Create One

Having a custom URL on YouTube like is an important part of marketing. It makes your YouTube page easy-to-remember and find, and makes your brand look cool.

But how do you create a custom URL on YouTube?

YouTube has a nifty help file, here. It says:
How To Create CUSTOM URL On YouTube
  1. Make sure you're signed into YouTube, and go to your advanced account settings.
  2. Under Channel Settings, click Create custom URL.
  3. You'll then be able to choose the URL you want. Note that you can't choose a URL that someone's already chosen. Once you've chosen your custom URL, it will appear like this:
But oops.  It ain't always so.  In many situations you will NOT see the "create custom URL" feature!  How do you then create a custom URL for your YouTube channel?

I'm not completely sure, but here's one work-around I have created if you are creating a NEW YouTube channel.  I'm not sure if it will work if you have an existing channel without a custom URL.

Steps to Creating a YouTube Channel Custom URL

  1. Log into your personal Google+ profile, via Gmail.
  2. Go to
  3. Create a "page" for your business.  Log into that page.
  4. Open up a new browser, and go to
  5. Select to use YouTube as that new page.
  6. Go to your channel settings.  Log in / make sure you are "logged in" to YouTube as that new page.
  7. Then go to and you should see the ability to create a custom URL.

But What If You Already Have a YouTube Channel But With a Crazy URL?

Now if you already have a YouTube channel, I'm not sure how you can create a custom URL if you already have a YouTube channel but do not see the "create custom URL" feature on advanced settings.  Individuals do not seem to see this feature.  Any suggestions or tips from the studio audience?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sales Funnel vs. Sales Ladder: Why I Hate The Concept of a 'Sales Funnel'

Marketers love lingo, and one of the phrases marketers really like is this: the "sales funnel." Aristotle taught us long ago that metaphors matter... How we think about a problem conceptually will guide our actions.

Sales Ladder vs. Sales Funnel - See Them Jump
So think about the concept of a "sales funnel." What does it imply? It implies that your customers are passive little marbles that can be "driven" down the "sales funnel" as if the "gravity" of your marketing pushed them along. So we start thinking about customers as "passive" rather than "active" and we act accordingly.  

Lazy: as if we can "drive traffic" to our website (another phrase I really hate).

Are customers really passive? Can you "drive traffic?"

So think about yourself on the Web for a moment.  Are you passive? Are you "driven" to a website "as if" you were a marble?  Or are you active: reading, scanning, clicking, thinking, clicking back when you find something you do not like... being skeptical before you fill in that feedback form to get that free download?

Which is it: passive or active?  Are you (or your customers) stupid or smart?

Sales Ladder is a Better Metaphor

That's why I like to think of my customers as pro-active participants in the Web endeavor. They actively scan. They actively search. They actively share (on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter). And they are skeptical.

Like salmon swimming upstream, they have a goal in mind. They want to find something, buy something, learn something. But they are anything but passive!  Anything but stupid!

And if the sales ladder I build is too steep (just as if the fish ladder is too steep), they can't (or won't) jump up. So I think of something interesting (and free) for step one, something interesting (and non-threatening) for step two and so on and so forth.

A sales ladder is a better way to think than a sales funnel.

Stop that Sloppy Marketer

Next time a marketer says "sales funnel," please stop them and ask them if they think customers are truly passive like marbles. Sloppy thinking creates sloppy marketing.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Viral Marketing 101: Geraldo Rivera Shirtless or Nude

Geraldo Rivera, that shameless publicity monger, has done it again! And, not in a good way. Last night, he tweeted a picture of himself shirtless. (He can teach us marketers a thing or two about viral marketing).  Now, the tabloids of the Internet (e.g., Huffington Post and the like) are picking up on it like wildfire, and it even shows as top trending search on Google:

If that doesn't work, just Google 'Geraldo Shirtless' to "see" what the fuss is all about: a 70 year old man, shirtless.


What's Going On, Geraldo? Teach us to Viral Market.

See Geraldo Rivera Shirtless
As marketers...  we want to look behind the scenes as to who is creating publicity, why and how. 

#1 - Geraldo is "stupid like a Fox." Here's a guy who's campy self-image is a man-on-the-street yet he seems to hang in there, year after year as someone on the publicity circuit. So he tweets a semi-obscene photo of him (Reminds you of Anthony Weiner, the New York congressman and his issues, no?).

Geraldo's possible goal: stay visible, get buzz going around you. Get 'em talking!

#2 - the public. Everyone loves a scandal.  People love shocking, gross, offensive.  (Just pay attention to what trends on YouTube or what trends on Google searches!). This viral photo is leveraging that hunger for scandal we all share, and the Huffington Post and the other blogloids are picking up on that trend to "sell more ink" and "get more ad views."

#3 - the blogloids. HuffPost and the like are in the business of promoting scandal, so they are the viral video / photo's best friends.  What Seth Godin calls the "sneezers" - the ones who take an idea and spread it to the winds.

So take Geraldo's shameless hunger for publicity, the public's appetite for a little sexy scandal, and the blogloids = viral on the Internet.

What Geraldo Doesn't Teach Us: Brand Image

So Geraldo is "going viral" with his semi-nude photo....  But...  What does this mean for his brand image? He stays campy, a bit gross, off-kilter, and just weird.  So he doesn't make the leap to respectable journalist but rather stays more like weird, sometimes funny, off-kilter Uncle who does inappropriate things.

Learning from Geraldo: Going Viral in a Good Way

So Geraldo's latest escapade teaches us something about "going viral" but in a bad way. Weiner of New York did it worse, but we (as marketers) want to a) go viral, and b) preserve our brand image.

Will it blend anyone? What are your thoughts on the "Geraldo Shirtless Scandal?"

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Organizing Your Share Life & Review of Feedly

Sometimes when I go to church... people have this funny phrase: their "Prayer Life." What they mean is that they have an organized ritual of praying and being spiritual much as many of us have an organized ritual of going to the gym, or to Starbucks, or watching Mad Men. So by "Prayer Life," they mean a systematic rigorous method of connecting with God or being spiritual.

Your Share Life

Your Share Life & Review of Feedly
Whatever your religious inclinations might be, you can learn from this idea. For example, what is your "Share life?" Sharing is huge on Social Media; no one can be an expert on everything.

Most of us "share" cool stuff with our followers... But do we do this in a systematic way?

I am an expert on SEO, for example, and on Social Media, but not on WordPress, not on taxes, not on politics, and not on pop culture. But I follow others on those topics, and I share myself on SEO, Social Media and AdWords.

Having an Organized Share Life

Each morning, I boot up my trusty computer and do the following:

  • Check New York Times headlines.
  • Check Gmail News
  • Check Feedly for top news, especially "official" posts by Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the gang.
I also have a built out "dashboard" with direct links to Search Engine Journal, SEOMoz Blog, Search Engine Land, etc. Everything is just one click. By the way, now that Google Reader has died, I highly recommend Feedly as an RSS reader - it's a quick, easy way to "subscribe" to content on the Web.
Then if I find something interesting, I read it. If it's really interesting and topical, I share it - usually on Google+.

Feedly: an Awesome Replacement for Google Reader

If you haven't heard of Feedly, check it out. It's amazing, it's free, and it replaces Google Reader pretty much instantly.  It's also available on your phone. Identify your top resources, subscribe to them, and then you have a new way to systematically find cool stuff.  I love Feedly!  Check it out!

What's Your Share Life?

I have an organized share life for my clients, friends, and followers. It's a daily ritual and it keeps me informed. What's yours for your clients, friends, and followers?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Metrics, Goals, and Transactional Keywords: Define Them!

Goals matter! Not just on websites, but in life itself. Remember that annoying question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Adults were asking you then about your goals. Now, there are many twists and turns on this road of life, but still goals matter. The same goes for SEO and Social Media: what are your goals?

Are they:

  • Brand buzz - generating positive buzz about your business or organization?
  • Direct sales - do you sell something on your website?
  • Sales leads - is your sales process necessarily complex, and therefore your sales staff "follows up" with prospects by email or phone?  Perhaps even in person?
And then how does your website, Facebook page, Twitter page, YouTube channel... you name it impact your goal(s)? If you rank on Google do you rank for the "right" keywords? And are you getting traffic from Google, and is that traffic converting?

Or, looking at the issue in terms of social media marketing, do you have many "likes" on Facebook? If so, do they "matter"? Will they "buy your stuff" eventually if not now? Or are they just fake friends, who "liked" your page because you gave something away, but ultimately won't ever really convert into anything serious?

Metrics Matter: Rankings on Google, Likes on Facebook, Landings on Web Pages, and Ultimately Conversions

Have you thought through your metrics?  If not, why not? Get started!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mike Tompkins and Video Marketing Tactics: Go Viral On YouTube

"Going viral" on YouTube is the ultimate "holy grail" of YouTube marketing. A viral video, of course, is a video that gets shared at a factor high enough to replicate ( > 1, so to speak). Let's take a look at one of my favorites on YouTube: Mike Tompkins, and reverse engineer some of his YouTube promotion strategies.

Step 1: Identify a Video Theme Already "Going Viral" Such as a New Pop Song

Tompkin's third video is a "cover" of Miley Cyrus' pop song, "Party in the USA." If you've never heard it, you can read about it on Wikipedia, here.  "Party in the USA" was released on August 11, 2009 and was a huge hit.

Tompkins released his cover on December 2009, about three months after Miley Cyrus.  (Timing, as they say, is everything!).  This video currently shows 3,462,470 views - not bad, Mike Tompkins, for your third video!

Step 2: "Hijack" YouTube Searches

So how does this work? People are searching YouTube for Miley Cyrus, Party in the USA. Below is a screenshot of the YouTube suggest for Party in the USA.  Notice #8 - Party in the USA cover. 

Notice how Tompkins titles his YouTube "Party in the USA Cover".  So as they search, he hijacks them with his interesting cover. Not to mention that people actively search for "covers" on YouTube, knowing that covers are commonly made and can be very good.

His video is currently #4 on YouTube search for "Party in the USA Cover"

Step 3: Produce an Amazing Video

His video is amazing (especially given how low budget it must have been at that time; his videos have gotten much, much better as he has grown smarter and gotten a bigger budget). And the video promotes his music and his channel; it's sticky!  So he grows his subscriber base by "hijacking" successful videos - that's the core of his YouTube strategy!

Step 4: Rinse and Repeat

Much of his channel is built on this same strategy over and over again: identifying trending music videos on YouTube and rushing out covers. Tompkins is like a stock picker, picking the "winning stocks" and piggy-backing on them to ride to the top of YouTube

Learning from Mike Tompkins

If you are into video and video marketing, are there ways you can replicate Mike Tompkins strategy in your own industry? Namely: a) identifying trending videos, and b) hijacking / mashing up / creating covers of these videos?  If video matters to you - it could be worth a try. Oh, and he also does a great job with partnering; witness his collaboration with Pitchperfect, here.

Shout Out To VideoTov

A shout out to my friends at VideoTov, a top video editing platform.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Google Penguin, Meet Panda: A Quick Negative SEO Primer

What is negative SEO? I am getting this question more and more. So here's a quick primer on Negative SEO.

Google has launched two big "updates" to the Google algorithm of late: Panda (focusing mainly on 'keyword stuffing' and low quality content) and Penguin (focusing mainly on low quality inbound links, especially the overuse of embedded phrases). Along with this, Google seems to have increased its awareness of manual spam complaints. All of this is creating some unintended consequences.

Unintended Consequences of Panda and Penguin

Negative SEO: Penguin, Panda and More
I doubt that Google meant to increase the availability of negative SEO tactics. Negative SEO is the use of faked or aggressive tactics by your competitors to make your own site look "as if" it is doing something against Google's terms of service, or just as bad, to call Google's attention to something you are doing that many other competitors are doing as well.

So think about it this way:

  • Panda = low quality content.
  • Penguin = low quality inbound links
Negative SEO = Hey Google, Website such-and-such is doing either Panda or Penguin, or both!

How Do Competitors Create Negative SEO Campaigns

There are a number of ways.  The easiest way is to file a "spam complaint" with Google about your website. That can be done here, but you must be "signed in" to Webmaster tools.  Another way is to complain directly via Penguin, here.

More aggressively, competitors can create "fake" inbound link schemes and then complain to Google via one of the above forms. It's really a lot like calling the IRS hotline, or tattling to the teacher in second grade. Just that the teacher is Google, and you and your competitor are the second graders.

Matt Cutts (Google's Web spam guru) just released a video on negative links which touches on the topic, here.

Negative SEO and Branding

Finally, some competitors are launching "fake review" sites that complain about a competitors product or name. These sites then climb to the top of Google searches and introduce FUD (Fear / Uncertainty / Doubt) that your products or services are worthwhile or honest.  Creating fake reviews on Yelp, Amazon, or Google+ Local would also fall into this category.

Your To-Do

Are you vulnerable to negative SEO? Inventory what you are doing on your website vs. Penguin / Panda. Inventory which competitors might be motivated and able to create a negative SEO campaign against you. And pay attention to your corporate or personal branding. Engage in reputation management, policing your searches to make sure that you "look good" when someone Google's you.

Welcome to the new world of negative SEO!  Have fun!

Monday, July 15, 2013

AMA (Ask Me Anything) via Reddit and John Malkovich: Marketing Authenticity

Reddit, of course, is one of the original social news sites. People vote "up" articles and Reddit acts as a sort of crowdsourced news reader.  Much of Reddit can be very dumb, and very pop culture-ish but sometimes it is amazing. For example, their: Ask Me Anything series.

Ask Me Anything is an example of marketing authenticity. Authentic, interesting interactions between people of all types. It's becoming very popular among actors and pop stars, and can teach us a thing or two about marketing buzz and about how authentic sells in the new world of Internet marketing.

Ask Me Anything on Reddit

Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit and Internet Marketing
The AMA series gets real people to ask usually famous people, anything. What's cool is that it often creates an authentic dialogue between a famous person and real folk like you and me. Here's an example from John Malkovich, who has to be one of my favorite actors. Being John Malkovich is an awesome movie BTW.

  • Read the AMA by John Malkovich, here.
  • View his "Proof in Advance," here.
  • Watch his YouTube Thank You, here.
You can view a list of all the AMA's on Reddit here.

What Reddit's AMA's Teach Marketers

Reddit and John Malkovich are teaming up to create buzz for their brand and create an authentic interchange with fans. You and your brand may not be quite so famous, but it's certainly instructive to think about how you can nurture real, authentic dialogue between you and fans whether via a Reddit AMA or some other technique.

Postscript - John Malkovich is Just Cool

Malkovich ends his AMA this way:

ok everyone. i have to take off now. it was very enjoyable not having the media filter. thank you for your questions and comments. funny or bright or sincere and even hateful. take care. maybe see you someday. 

I love his thick skin.  He's just cool, which makes him authentic and interesting as an actor.

What can you do that's authentic and interesting for your own brand?

- Jason McDonald
Jason McDonald is director of the JM Internet Group, a leader in online SEO and Social Media training. Reach out to Jason via the links at the top of this blog.

The Travails of Review Marketing and Social Media

Review Marketing is All About Reviews. Most of  us worry (a lot) about reviews - reviews on blog sites, reviews on social media sites like, and of course reviews on sites such as Yelp or Google+. What are the issues?

Review Quantity and Review Quality

Google+ Local and Yelp Review Marketing
First, you just need quantity. Does anyone care enough to review you at all? Usually you have to encourage, solicit, cajole, beg, prod... your customers to review you. Just getting a few reviews on a site like Google+ and/or Yelp will make a huge positive difference in your SEO performance. Not to mention whether you show up on an internal search engine like that of Yelp or Amazon. Get reviews!

Second, you need to worry about quality. You can have reviews that are poorly written, or reviews from people whose profiles are so weak that they get filtered out. Even worse, you can have negative reviews.

Bad Reviews!  Uh-oh!

Bad reviews can come in a number of ways. First and foremost, the very unhappy customer.  So here you need to try to a) prevent any bad reviews by checking in with customers. If there is a problem, try to fix it before they "go negative" on you. Or b) crowd out negative reviews with positive reviews.

A New Type of Bad Reviews

To add some worries there is a new type of Bad Review.  The New York Times reports in an article entitled,  Why Web Reviewers Make Up Bad Things:

  • Until now. A fascinating new academic study sheds light on the fake negative review, finding not only that the source is totally unexpected but also that the problem is much bigger than a few malicious operators. It turns out that competitors are not necessarily the ones giving one miserable star to products they did not buy or experiences they did not have. Customers do it — in fact, devoted customers.
Read the article to learn more!

Testing Blogger and Google+: Will This Work?

One of my frustrations with Google+ has been the (ironic) lack of visibility of Google+ posts on search results. So after some investigation, I found out that you can link your Google+ account to your blogger blog.
Benefits of a Blogger Blog for Google+ (and SEO!)

My experiment is to create a blog for my Google+ postings, and then post directly to this new blog rather than directly to Google+. Then with a little help from SEO, get the new blog (which will be populated with Google+ postings) to show up on Google.


Benefits of Blogger and Google+ Integration

  • Ease-of-use. Using the blogger platform will give me lots of flexibility in posting, and the ability to have longer posts.
  • Integration with Google+. The new posts will appear both on my Google+ feed and on my blogger blog - so the "short read" will exist on Google+ and the "long read" will appear on the blog.
  • SEO Visibility - posts will appear in Google search and therefore pull in some new people who will find me not through Google+ directly but through search.

Registering a Domain Via Blogger

Next up - registering a domain via blogger.  Yee gads, Google does not make this easy!