Monthly Archives: February 2013

5 Funniest Google AdWords Ads

Google AdWords are something we always expect to see now. Sitting in the sidebar of a search, the top results features, sitting somewhere on a webpage…we just know it is going to be there. Half the time, I know I don’t even notice them. It is as though my eyes skim over them with absolutely no recognition, not even bothering to read what they are.

Many people are like this now, which is a shame. Because when you do pay attention, you will occasionally find some hilarious flubs by the automated system and the companies that have bought AdWords. These are five of those examples.

1. Cupid Is On eBay

Cupid Is On eBay

We all want to be loved. Now it is easier than ever…just hop on over to eBay and buy some! Not only is it available, but it is apparently cheap. That hasn’t been my experience, but hey, I am not the expert here. Whoever managed to apparently bottle, brand and advertise love is a genius, and probably worth trillions. I bet that can buy a whole lot of the love stuff.

2. Screw Dominos!

Screw Dominos!

Thinking of ordering Dominos? Pizza Hut has something to say about that. This is the search equivalent of a photobomb. It isn’t even subtle, Pizza Hut literally thrust themselves right in there like a canon ball in a swimming pool, splashing their marketing all over the place. But what I really love about it is how it is actually the result above the real Dominos site. I don’t know if there is a clearer way of one business giving the other a finger. This by the way is not allowed by Google but doesn’t mean this can’t be done. :)

3. I Can Confirm This

I Can Confirm This

This one is just clever. It reacts tot he ad above it, and is very amusing because of it. I love witty advertising, especially when it has a bit of a sarcastic flare. For those who don’t know, this refers to former GameSpot editorial director Jeff Gertsmann. In 2007, he was fired from his position for unclear reasons. Though it is widely believed to have been advertising pressure that led to his being unfairly bumped from the company. A number of colleagues left in protest, and it caused quite a stir. Even years later, this reference is a funny one.

4. Toddlers On Clearance

Toddlers On Clearance

Not only can you buy love these days, but apparently you can buy a baby, too! They are even on sale, so I bet you can get a great deal. There is no word yet on whether or not you can get a two-pack deal on twins. But we will keep our fingers crossed.

5. Oh My…

Oh My...

I have never seen a worst example of advertising on Google. Why this would even register for an ad is beyond me, but I am sure it caused a great deal of embarrassment for eBay. Which, by the way, does not specialize in the sale of African slaves. Or indeed people of any kind.

Have you seen any examples of funny Google AdWord flubs? Let us know in the comments.

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Ann Smarty

Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas

Ann Smarty is the pro blogger and guest blogger, social media enthusiast.

The post 5 Funniest Google AdWords Ads appeared first on SEO Chat.

Keyword Research: Two Unusual Resources

“Check what keywords your competitors are using, and build better content to win their traffic.” Sound familiar? While that statement represents one traditional approach to keyword research, it could also kick off a losing battle. You really want to be where your competitors aren’t, but where you can still find lots of traffic looking for what you have to offer. To do this, you may need to do a little research off the beaten path.

I’d like to tip my hat to David de Souza, writing for Search Engine Land on the topic of using these “hidden gems,” as he calls them, to find performing keywords that your rivals haven’t stumbled upon yet. I’m not covering all of his gems here, so by all means, check out his article for the ones I’m missing.

His first suggestion seems counter intuitive at first. You’ve no doubt noticed that many keywords for which you want to rank return searches with a Wikipedia page in the number one spot. They’re not your competitors, and you sure don’t want to try to outrank them! Or do you?

For many pages that you don’t own – especially your regular competitors – you lack some important data necessary for outranking them: the amount of traffic they receive. Interestingly enough, however, that’s not true with Wikipedia pages.  There is a tool to which de Souza links that gives you some excellent information. He notes that it “will allow you to find traffic volume for any Wikipedia page over the last 90 days,” but it actually gives you a bit more than that; you can fiddle around with it and even analyze the popularity of any particular page over a longer period of time.

Why is this useful? When you try a keyword in Google and see a Wikipedia page ranking at the top, you can check the traffic that article receives to see if it’s  worth it to try to outrank that page. One caveat: the fine print on every page of this tool says “This is very much a beta service and may disappear or change at any time,” so I’d recommend finding a spare 10 minutes or so to play around with it reasonably soon.

The second suggestion for keywords off the beaten path takes advantage of a traditional year-end habit of websites in many fields. No, I’m not talking about New Year’s resolutions; I’m talking about most popular posts lists. These can yield all sorts of interesting ideas. Of course, it’s February now, so how do you find those posts if it’s not the right time of year?

You need to create a query for Google that joins several things. The first part will be your niche, the phrase “most popular posts of 2012” (or whatever year has just passed) and the word “traffic.” So if your niche is electronics, your search would look like this: electronics “most popular posts of 2012” traffic.

Okay, so it’s pretty clear why you want the niche and the “most popular posts of 2012;” the niche directs Google and the quotes tell it to look for an exact phrase. But why the traffic? You want to find lists that mention how much traffic the site received. One of the posts that de Souza found in this manner noted that it posted 50 articles during the year and received more than 100,000 visitors. “Using the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule), we can estimate that the 10 articles listed received around 80,000 visitors,” de Souza notes.

Now here’s where it really gets interesting. You can check out those popular articles to see if you can create better content on those same topics. If you can, you know what to do, right? In fact, if you really want to make your efforts pay off, check out those popular posts to see which ones got links. After you’re created your killer content, send an email to the webmasters of those websites to make them aware of it. You just might get a link, which will certainly help you in your goal of beating the competition.

You should never do one form of keyword research to the exclusion of others. These ideas aren’t meant to take the place of whatever you’re doing now. They’re there to help you when you’re stuck and want to find something different that could still bring in good traffic for your website. Good luck! 

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Are Reviews Getting Even More Important?

It is quite obvious that Google is beginning to put more importance on the use of reviews. It is all about trying to narrow that gap between the social web and ecommerce, where sales themselves are becoming more and more social in themselves. Just look at the regularity of community selling on sites like Amazon.

But will that be a factor when it comes to rankings? Will SEO have to adapt to be more ratings inclusive, a new addition after already changing to make way for both video and social results? Given the high priority given to review communities like Yelp and CitySearch when in results for both local and online businesses, and the way that Google is now encouraging G+ users to review local businesses by accessing search result data for suggestion customization, it has already begun.

What This Means For Ecommerce

Are Reviews Getting Even More Important

Local businesses are well used to seeking out reviews from customers. Along with social media and online shopping carts, they are the only way to establish a viable web presence. It is the typical ecommerce business that has to really focus on this change and the way it is certain to adapt over time.

External reviews are important, and many small companies encourage their customers to hop onto sites like Yelp or ResellerRatings for their opinion on the service/product. This is a good idea for small businesses, as customers are more likely to comment when they have positive experiences, unlike many large corporations that find themselves with reviews only when the customer is unhappy.

Sites like Amazon also offer a great service for those who are selling a tangible product. It is a selling community, and reviewing for many people who buy there is second nature. Especially when they are happy with what they have bought. Google seems to also favor these pages, showing the star rating right there in the results.

The Risks of Fake Reviews

Fake Reviews

Some people reading this are already tempted to begin what many companies do, which is purchase fake reviews. This is a mistake, as Google is working overtime to quell this phenomenon, as are the third party sites reviews are hosted on.

If you are suspected of review spamming, all ratings can be wiped off of the account. Sometimes sites will even ban the company entirely, though most the time this is for multiple offenses after getting a warning. Plus, most customers are now web-savvy enough (and jaded enough) to recognize fake reviews, and to be leery of even positive ones if they don’t appear to be genuine. There are plenty of signs that they can follow to come to this conclusion, so don’t underestimate them.

For those who are struggling to get customer reviews, you can always meet in the middle. Offer someone a free sample of your product or service in exchange for an honest, well written review. Many bloggers will do this on their sites, which are great to link to, and social users who are following your page will jump on the opportunity if you offer it. As long as you are not soliciting positive reviews, or running it as a contest, this is not against any TOS.

Reviews Through Surveys


There are websites that are choosing to use third-party surveys in order to find out about customer experience. Which can help when trying to improve for better public reviews that will come up in a Google search. Usually, they are done using a service like TrustPilot or Foresee.

But these are controversial, and many small business owners in particular see them as a risk to their brand loyalty, not a help. Customers don’t usually like seeing these popups at the end of a purchase or while browsing a site. They are an eyesore, annoying and completely unsolicited. So the customer opinion of a site can go down drastically for nothing more than the survey request.

When looking at a large company, this doesn’t make much of a difference; they aren’t likely to stop using it or shopping there. However, smaller businesses have to work harder to prove themselves against the competition. At the very least, a more creative and less invasive way should be found to find out the information from a survey. Even a single email a few days later, while not ideal, is better than a popup.


Reviews are a big deal on Google now, and user experience data is crucial for the average ecommerce site. But there is a right way and a wrong way to use this tool, and you should take care that you don’t make a misstep. Luckily, the ranking benefits far outweigh the risks.

Image Credit: 1.

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Ann Smarty

Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas

Ann Smarty is the pro blogger and guest blogger, social media enthusiast.

The post Are Reviews Getting Even More Important? appeared first on SEO Chat.

Republishing Content: The Right Way to Do it

To totally misquote Barbie, “Writing original content is hard!” Well, if it was easy, anybody could rank, right? When you need to create something new on a daily basis for your blog, it’s tempting to find a great piece of work and just copy it. That’s illegal – but there is a legal way to do it.

Before I explain the right way to republish someone else’s work, let me give a tip of the hat to Mike Moran for explaining all the issues around it. I’m going to start with the biggest one: by law, you need to get permission from the copyright holder before you can republish something. That’s usually the author of the work. And yes, you need to get that permission even if you’re publishing it on the Internet – and even if you include the person’s name, copyright notice, and link back to them. I’m serious; contact them first and get that “yes.” If they say “no,” DON’T republish it. If they say “yes, but here are my conditions,” don’t republish without fulfilling those conditions.

If that sounds like a lot of effort, guess what? The copyright holder went through a lot of effort to create that article in the first place, and you’re going through a lot LESS effort to get it. You know you’re going through a lot less effort, because if you weren’t, you’d simply write something original yourself and put THAT up on your site, now wouldn’t you?

Besides, do you know what happens when you republish something? You’re competing in the search engines with the original item. Most web surfers find content online by searching for it. The search engines can tell the original from the republished item by checking a number of “hints;” judging by our SEO Chat forum comments over the years, they’re not perfect, but they’ve been getting better at it. Now these search engines assume that searchers want to see the original item, so they’ll rank that higher than republished items. So all that new traffic you may have been hoping to attract with an awesome piece of content you’re republishing? Yeah, that will end up at the site with the original item, not at yours with the republication.

So if you’re going to republish something, make sure it’ll be of benefit to your regular readers, who will certainly see it. This point brings up a side issue, though: your regular readers may be used to a certain “voice” from your blog. Part of the point of writing a blog in the first place is to establish not just your expertise, but yourself as a personality with which your audience wants to engage. It’s another form of branding, in a sense. And if you’re republishing someone else’s work, well, they don’t have your voice or your personality. So the content may be useful, but in at least in this one sense, republishing it is  counterproductive.

But let us assume at this point that you’re not completely dissuaded from capturing some of the advantages of republishing. You’re completely out of ideas (which need never happen with an editorial calendar, by the way); you asked the copyright holder for permission to republish and they laughed in your face (which is just as well, since their writing style clashes with yours); and you know your readers want more on this topic. So what can you do?

Fortunately, there’s another form of “republishing” that isn’t really republishing at all. It’s legal, you don’t need permission from the author of the original item, and nearly every blogger does it. I’m doing it right now, in fact. You take the original article and write a few paragraphs about it, building up your own opinion on the topic – adding your own spin in your own voice to the issue. Courtesy demands that you link to the original, and that you have something substantial today. Granted, in some sense it’s not totally original content, but at least you’re not starting the piece by staring at a blank page with an exhausted and equally blank brain.

Moran notes that if you only write two or three paragraphs from your own perspective on someone else’s original work, you provide fodder for the search engines while satisfying your regular readership. “And if you can write five or ten paragraphs with a well-thought-out opinion,” he continues, “agreeing or disagreeing with the original, or adding and expanding on points in the original, you have likely created a nice article both for your readers and for search engines, without the heavy lifting of having to think up an idea on your own.” On top of this, if the site containing the original content supports trackbacks, a link to your article will show up in its comment section. You could get traffic from the original item to yours, then – which you wouldn’t get if you simply republished the original item!

So, to recap: writing original content is hard work, but the benefits are worth it. If you’ve temporarily run out of ideas for writing something original, you can consider republishing someone else’s work, if you do it right – but there are disadvantages. The more original you can make your work – the more work, and the more of yourself, you put into it – the more benefits you’ll get. I’ll leave Moran with the last word here: “In blogging, there is no substitute for originality.”

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Google Rolls Out Enhanced Campaigns for AdWords

On Wednesday, Google announced what it called an upgrade to its popular AdWords advertising platform. Called “enhanced campaigns,” it’s supposed to help users “more simply and smartly” manage their ad campaigns. It might be  simpler, but some vocal observers note that it isn’t smarter.

You can read all about the new features straight from the horse’s mouth in a Google blog post. The whole idea behind enhanced campaigns is to reach users with ads that are appropriate to their time of day, location, and the capabilities of the device they happen to be using. For example, as the blog post notes, if you run a pizza restaurant and want to reach users, you might want to deliver one kind of ad to the person searching for “pizza” at one in the afternoon on their desktop at work (with a link to a menu or an order form, maybe), and another ad to someone searching for “pizza” at eight in the evening on their smartphone and about a half-mile from the restaurant (how about a click-to-call phone number and a restaurant locator?).

With Google AdWords enhanced campaigns, you’ll be able to manage these different kinds of ads all from one place, and with one campaign. “Enhanced campaigns help you reach people with the right ads, based on their context like location, time of day and device type, across all devices without having to set up and manage several separate campaigns,” Google notes. And you can adjust your bids accordingly – by bidding higher or lower based on how far away someone is, what time of day they’re searching, and on what kind of device they’re searching. “These bid adjustments can apply to all ads and all keywords in a single campaign,” Google explains. Keep that last point in mind – because it’s the root of one of the criticisms leveled at enhanced campaigns.

Pamela Parker, writing for Search Engine Land, does a great job covering the reaction to Google’s enhanced campaigns. Many advertisers like the fact that they won’t have to run multiple separate, parallel campaigns to manage these different ad contexts, as they have had to up until now. Others praised the new reporting features, that give greater and finer details to help measure the new conversion types. Parker notes that brick-and-mortar businesses, especially, will benefit from the location-specific and time-specific features of enhanced campaigns – so you can bid higher for customers physically closer to your establishment, for example or include a click-to-call phone number only during the hours that your business is open.

Unfortunately, while AdWords enhanced campaigns may make it easier for certain kinds of advertisers to run the sorts of ads that will increase their traffic, for others, it just might be a disaster. Surprisingly, for certain things, it’s not granular enough. Neil Sorenson does a great job taking apart the issue here. Enhanced campaigns groups tablets and desktops together – and for the sophisticated advertisers who have used AdWords’s device targeting features, that’s actually a major step backwards.

According to Sorenson, tablets and desktops do not convert the same way at all – to the extent that it makes no sense to group them into the same category. He noted that one of his clients boasted a conversion rate on mobile devices that was 20 percent better than their desktop rate. The client’s conversion rate on tablets, however, was 70 percent WORSE than the desktop rate! But with enhanced campaigns, the tablet/desktop is the “default” bid, and the mobile device bid is a multiplier of that bid. As Parker notes in her piece, “There’s no way to conduct a mobile-only campaign.”

Sorenson, for his part, would like to see much finer-grained control, with the ability to aim ads by type of tablet, distinguishing between iPads and Android tablets. His company sells accessories for iPhones, Android devices, iPads, and similar devices. In the year after his firm implemented device-specific campaigns on AdWords, their mobile conversion rates improved by a third, and their tablet conversion rates more than doubled. To no one’s surprise, they found that “ads targeted directly to users, while they were on their iPads, pitching iPad accessories were successful!” While Sorenson acknowledges that his business is an extreme example, he knows no one who has implemented device-specific campaigns that would agree with Google’s assessment that desktops and tablets convert similarly.

That’s not even the only issue with lumping desktops and tablets together for enhanced campaigns. Tablets are more mobile than desktops or even laptops. You may not want to show the same ad, with the same interactive features and links, to someone searching on a desktop computer as you would to someone on a tablet. Enhanced campaigns doesn’t seem to give you a choice in the matter.

Let’s finally touch on a point I mentioned earlier: that bid adjustments can apply to all ads and all keywords in a single campaign. Sorenson notes that this replaces the kind of device targeting he’s been able to do up until now. So now he can modify bids specifically for mobile devices, but only at the campaign level. “That feels a lot like giving a Band-Aid to a heart surgeon and wishing the patient a successful triple bypass,” he sarcastically observes. “What are we going to do with bid modifiers at the campaign level when actual bids are calculated at the keyword level? Workarounds? Tricks and tips to get back what we currently have? Ugh.” He doesn’t think that improving the experience for local advertisers should have to come at the cost of power advertisers losing valuable capabilities.

This, of course, is the root of the complaints from advertisers about enhanced campaigns: the loss of control, and valuable features that helped advertisers manage how and where their ads were displayed. Jeremy Hull, director of search at iProspect, observed that “This is an example of Google deciding what is best for the advertiser.” To be fair, he praised some of the other new features. But if his comments – and those of many other advertisers – are any indication, Google will get a fair bit of push-back on these “enhancements” to AdWords.

Have you tried out AdWords enhanced campaigns yet? What do you think of the changes? We’d love to hear your opinion.

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Co-Citations: Another Reason to Write Killer Content

Google’s Penguin algorithm cast a long shadow over link building in SEO. With many kinds of links apparently getting devalued, some wonder what the search engine considers important or relevant anymore. Even anchor text has come into question. What’s an SEO or a site owner to do?

First, remember that Google’s algorithm updates are designed to fix what it sees as attempts to manipulate your standing in the SERPs. The search engine tries to deliver the most relevant results to searchers, and as we all know, it uses links (among many other factors) to signal relevance. So if a website links to your site with “dog training school” as the anchor text, Google figures that it thinks your website is relevant to that search.

But Penguin seems to be changing that. According to Pratik Dholakiya, writing for Search Engine Journal, Google is starting to think that anchor text is “too easily manipulated.” As he explains it, “A link with highly optimized anchor text simply doesn’t look natural. It means there’s a much higher chance you had direct control over the creation of that link. If most your links have optimized anchor text, it probably means you built most of them yourself.”

Google does not want to see links you’ve built yourself. It wants to see links that other people built to your website because they believe the content is so interesting and so compelling that they want to share it with their friends. In other words, it wants to see natural links – and someone giving you a natural link, in many cases, won’t include any special anchor text in it. At best, they’ll add the bare link (which is another reason you should set up your headlines and pages so that they include keywords, but I digress).

Dholakiya goes on to discuss co-citations, which he and a number of others believe Google will be giving more weight to than anchor text in the near future – assuming the search engine isn’t already doing this. Co-citations are a little more complicated to understand than simple links, though they have a long academic history. Let me see if I can show you how these would function on the web by using a fictitious but true-to-life example

Say you’re writing a blog post on the best strategies for enriching your soil for the upcoming gardening season. You have a local readership, and you really want to encourage them to get out and do the work themselves. You know some of them may already compost, but others are just getting into the game, and still others will be starting “fresh,” so they need sources of good, pre-composted material. As you’re talking about options in your blog post, you provide a short summary of how to compost, and link to a fuller description. You also link to websites for your local agricultural cooperative extension, which offers free compost; a local mushroom farm which sells cheap compost; a company that provides a kit with special worms that consume household trash and turn it into compost; and a calendar page for your local library listing the date and time of a talk one of the area gardening experts will be giving, which you know will cover composting.

All of those links you’re making in your blog post are co-citations. Since you are citing all of these sources in one article, Google will look at them and assume that they are all relevant to each other. Within the context of your article, they certainly ARE all relevant to your topic, right?

The key point from Google’s point of view is that co-citations are much harder to manipulate than anchor text for links. Think about it. It’s one thing to write an article and get a link back to your website for it. It’s another thing to cite several others in the same article – some of whom are probably competitors. Indeed, why should Google pay attention to you in an article in which you’ve linked to yourself along with several others?

Google is paying attention to industry influencers – that well-known gardening expert with a blog, for instance. As Dholakiya notes, “you cannot manipulate the industry influencers who make your co-citations possible. They only promote the content that they feel is best to share with their readers.”

So how do you get on the radar of these industry influencers to get co-citations? Go back and read my headline. Dholakiya explains that “You cannot have great co-citations unless you have actionable content which people love to read and share.” A lot can and has been written about how to write killer content, but Dholakiya offers three tips: stay up to date on the trends in your niche; produce original content on your subject that hasn’t been thoroughly covered by others; and create content that, one way or another, makes waves in your industry such that it influences the direction of posts made later.

Isn’t it funny that I started by talking about Google’s Penguin algorithm/filter, which focuses on links, and ended up talking about content, which is supposed to related more to the search engine’s Panda algorithm/filter? Yes and no. If you’ve been doing SEO or running a website for any length of time, you know that killer content leads to links. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, and that’s the way Google hopes to encourage it to be. There are no lasting SEO shortcuts. Just do it right the first time, by writing the best content you can. Good luck!

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Google Plus Fun

I am guilty of making Google Plus jokes. I just can’t help myself, not after watching years of the internet giant attempting to break into the social networking game. Failed attempt after failed attempt have marred their history, but they finally got it as right as they ever have with G Plus (in fact it appears to be the second largest social network). Only to find out that their best is still not good enough to make them true contenders for Facebook and Twitter.

Now, that isn’t to say it hasn’t found some success. But the rumors about it being a ghost town is fair enough, with far less people using it than actually have accounts. Or so the stories go, ones I believe given the fact that I don’t have a single friend who has logged onto their own accounts since they first opened them by invite. That can’t be a good sign.

There are going to be plenty of people out there that disagree with me. Google Plus does have its share of fans, even if it hasn’t found the same level success as other social sites. But let’s put that aside and enjoy some jokes about the service. Come on…you know you want to.

1. How I Feel After Posting Something on Google+

How I Feel After Posting Something on Google+

Originally posted by Brian Kuo, then reposted on Quora by Sudhir Srinivasan, this one cracks me up. I have a G+ account, mainly because I gave into the hype back when the invites were released and was among the first wave of users. My posts had hardly any reach, and by the time I had figured out the whole circles thing, my friends accounts had already been abandoned. There was no one to appreciate the funny cat videos I was linking, or the quasi-philosophical musings about burritos. Just me, standing impressively on a stage in front of a lot of empty chairs.

2. Social Networks Explained In Sexual Terms

Social Networks Explained In Sexual Terms

Idan Scneider posted this link, which has several joke infographics on it. The Google+ one is a lot funnier than the others, I think. It does point out that G+ is growing once again, thanks to the business applications unique to the site. But it is definitely the ‘kink’ of the social world.

3. One MILLION Dollars!

One MILLION Dollars!

Jack Bridger brings us this amusing, if outdated, example. Anyone who has seen the Austin Powers films will forgive the reference to such an old franchise, especially when they see Doctor Evil. A character who is still funny enough to excuse Mike Meyers for his part in The Love Guru.

4. Social Media Explained

Social Media Explained

When I first saw this photo posted by Carla Harris, I didn’t think it was funny. Not until I read the final line and started to actually laugh out loud. Or, slightly chuckle out loud. I am sure I am not the only one who has suspected that the majority of G+ users are Google employees.

5. Halloween G+

Halloween G+

Once again, this joke posted by Nivethan Jeyasingam shows us the commonly held belief that no one uses Google+. I am always amazed to find that the site is nearly taking over Myspace as a place where only trendy hipsters dare be seen. Which isn’t a bad idea; we could use an online holding pen for that social group. Then we would never again have to see their Instagram photos or their statuses about how cool the Black Eyed Peas were before Fergie.

Do you have any jokes about Google+? Post them below!

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Ann Smarty

Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas

Ann Smarty is the pro blogger and guest blogger, social media enthusiast.

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