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June 27 , 2012 In: Blogging

Do’s and Don’ts of Business Blogging

If you’re looking to increase traffic or search engine ranking of your website, one strategy is starting a blog. While it requires an investment of resources and energy, regularly posting fresh content to your site in the form of a blog is a terrific way to liven up your online marketing efforts. Here are a few simple do’s and don’ts to guide you forward.

Do: Write What You Know
It’s the first rule of writers: Write what you know. A blog is a way to establish yourself as an industry expert, so pick a subject that you know well. Remember, you’ll be writing about this a lot, so you should also pick a topic that interests you. You don’t necessarily have to know everything about your topic from the start (there are lots of ways to do additional research), but you should have the fundamentals of it down. Make your blog the go-to source for what’s going on in your field.

Don’t: Fail to Proofread
Nothing will doom your blog quicker than bad writing. Faulty grammar, incorrect punctuation, misspelled words, these things are toxic, and readers will flee from your blog, never to return. If this is a problem for you, ask someone you know who is good at copyediting to look at your blog before you post it and to make the needed corrections. It can be hard to accept criticism, but your readers will appreciate it, and in the end, you’ll be glad you did it.

Do: Make a Long-Term Commitment
In the early days of your blog, when it seems like no one is reading, it will be tempting to give up. Don’t. Blogging takes hard work and persistent effort over many months—or more—to build an established readership. It takes patience and commitment. If you don’t have that, it may be best to look for other ways to get your voice out there, such as contributing to other, already established blogs or newsletters. If you do start a blog, though, be prepared to stick with it for the long haul.

Don’t: Be Overly Promotional
A blog should be a resource for providing useful and engaging information to your readers. It’s not a channel for repeated efforts to sell them your product or service. If you do that, you’ll lose their trust and drive them away. There is a delicate balance that you must strike with your blog. By being seen as a trusted resource for information about a given topic, it’s more likely that your readers will trust you when it comes time for them to open their wallets.

Do: Include Other Voices
Including other people in your blog is a great way to keep things fresh, and it gives you a break once in awhile from having to come up with new ideas. This can be accomplished through guest bloggers and through interviews with experts. Look for other people in your organization or industry to contribute guest blogs or interviews from time to time. This adds value to your blog and allows others to feel included.

Don’t: Muddy the Waters
Veering off topic or losing sight of your blog’s strategy will confuse your readers and cause them to lose interest. Stay focused and keep your eye on the goal, which is a loyal audience.

May 3 , 2012 In: SEO, Social Networking

Are You Optimizing LinkedIn?

Many businesses are utilizing Facebook and Twitter to maximize their marketing efforts. One social networking platform that is not used effectively is LinkedIn. There are many benefits of listing your professional profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is well known as the best social networking site for professionals. Many people think that LinkedIn is only for those that are seeking professional employment and networking opportunities. While in part this is true, LinkedIn does offer all types of businesses the chance to market and grow. Does LinkedIn offer a way for SEO strategy to be used?

Surprisingly, SEO strategy does work on LinkedIn. Google considers LinkedIn an authority. This means that you can use LinkedIn to boost the rank of your website and/or blog. The process of optimising your LinkedIn profile is in your actual personal profile on your account. Your profile is the optimal place to include SEO links and strategies. This is done in a few simple ways.

Profile Picture: Make sure you have a professional image for your profile picture. Google targets pictures in a similar fashion to actual links. Having the same professional image on all of your social media platform sites is very important. Hiring a professional photographer to take your professional headshot is well worth the investment. You will then have a high-resolution photograph that you can incorporate into your business and personal brand.

Professional Information: You can make your bio as simple or as complex as you wish. Your bio is the perfect place to insert optimised keywords and key phrases. As is the case when using all keywords and key phrases, be very thoughtful about word placement. You want your profile to read with a natural flow, not choppy with random keywords that don’t make sense. The very least amount of information that your profile should contain is a link to your website that is clearly visible. Once people have found your profile, you want to make sure they know how to learn more about you and your services.

Unique Profile URL: Having a unique profile url makes it easy and quick for people to find you. A unique url also makes it easier for someone to come back to your profile at a later date. A custom url also makes your LinkedIn profile SEO friendly regarding searches for your name.

Anchor Text: LinkedIn allows you to create a unique anchor text to your websites within your profile. Simply click ‘edit my profile’, scroll down to ‘websites’, click ‘edit’ and ‘other’. You will see an extra box where you can type in your keyword title and your website url. This is a huge SEO advantage that many people overlook.

LinkedIn may seem like a site that is only good for those that are seeking professional employment. However, there are many advantages to utilizing LinkedIn as a professional and as a business. LinkedIn offers many SEO advantages. Any business or professional can use LinkedIn effectively to increase their search engine ranking. This is one social networking platform that you do not wish to ignore.

Are you maximizing the experience your visitors have to your website or blog? Many people spend a great deal of time optimizing their website and blog. They use SEO properly, create great content and have become authorities in their niche market. One thing that many people tend to overlook is their social media share buttons. Where are you sending the visitors who have taken their time to visit your site or blog? Are you maximizing your visitor’s experience?

Using social media share buttons is one of the best ways to maximize the exposure of your website. By simply adding the ability for readers to share your content, you are increasing your circle of influence. This will drive more traffic to your site. More importantly, you will find that people who may not be in your normal circle of influence are viewing your site. The two most important social media share buttons should be Twitter and Facebook.

Buttons For Twitter
Social media share buttons for Twitter can be found on the Twitter website. Twitter has it’s own button that gives readers the ability to tweet your content. You have your choice of buttons:
• Share a link
• Follow
• Hashtag
• Mention
By adding one of these buttons to your website or blog, you are making it easy for your information to be shared. For example, if your website tells readers about the importance of Life Coaching, your content will discuss the latest news about the benefits of this service. When a reader finds a piece of information useful, they will see, clearly marked, the ability to share this information with their followers on Twitter. This is a great way to have the services you provide broadcasted to a new audience free of charge.

Buttons For Facebook
If you aren’t maximizing the benefits of your information being easily shared on Facebook, you should be. There are two popular share buttons for Facebook.
Facebook Like Button: Allows people to “like” a post on your website or blog. This “like” then becomes public on their Facebook page and is visible to all of their friends.

Facebook Share Button: Allows people to “share” a link from your website directly onto their Facebook page. This is seen as an update and is visible to their friends. The Facebook Share Button also allows those that see the post to click on the link and be taken to your website. This is a great way to provide information and offer services to those outside of your businesses natural circle of influence.

Both the Facebook Like Button and Facebook Share Button are simple social plugins. Instructions on how to use are found on Facebook’s site.

Social share buttons are a simple and free way to maximize the exposure and visibility of your website. It only makes sense that if you have taken the time to properly search engine optimize your site and create great content that you make it easy for your visitors to share that content with their circle of influence. By taking the time to put social media share buttons, at least to Twitter and Facebook, on your website you will see your reputation as an expert increase.

Can 140 characters change your business for the better? Twitter caught the world by storm, creating an environment where people shared short messages about themselves with the world and people started paying attention. What began as personal outbound messages quickly shifted to the business market. When businesses began using Twitter, the face of customer service and business marketing changed drastically. How can businesses benefit and grow, based on Twitter use?

Grab Attention
Twitter is a way to announce a message quickly and to a large group of people. By using #hashtags, a business can have their tweet appear in an aggregate stream of everyone that has used the same #hashtag and those that are searching for the #hashtag. What is a #hashtag? They are similar to a tag or optimized keyword. Just about any word or phrase that is associated with your business or the subject of your tweet can become a #hashtag. It is important to note that random #hashtag use is ineffective. Take a few moments to see what topics are trending in #hashtags streams, apply those to your business then attach them to your tweet. This is a great way to attract potential customers along with keeping an eye on your competitors.

Instant Feedback
Twitter is one of the fastest ways to see what your customers are saying about your business. Everyone is talking about what restaurant they just visited and what product they just purchased. By searching your @username and any phrases that are associated with your business, you can see what people are saying in real time. This opens the door to delivering top-notch customer service. If a customer is dissatisfied and says they had an awful meal, the twitter account for that restaurant can offer an immediate reply and extend a positive resolution to the disgruntled customer. Likewise, if a customer gives a glowing review, the business can reply a word of gratitude, showing the customer that their opinion is highly valued.

Stay Ahead Of The Curve
Even if your primary demographic does not use Twitter on a frequent basis, a business should not ignore Twitter as not being important. Your competition is on Twitter. The easiest way to see what your competition is doing and how they are engaging with their customers will help you stay at the top of your industry. When a business sees what their competitors are saying and what their competitor’s customers are saying, they will discover ways to improve their own business. They will also receive reinforcement for what they are doing correctly. If your top competitor has many disgruntled customers due to a price increase, you will see that raising your prices may not be the most effective way to cut costs. Additionally, if the competitions customers are repeatedly asking for a specific product, your business can be ahead of the curve and offer that product before your competitors.

Twitter is an effective tool to both market your business and to keep tabs on the competition. Businesses can quickly ease the frustration of disgruntled customers or offer appreciation to satisfied customers. Businesses can also keep an eye on the competition. No matter how your business uses Twitter, the information gained by paying attention will prove valuable.

In the past few years, twitter has really taken the social media world by storm. For a time, it was the fasting-growing website in the history of the internet, and it now stands proudly among the top ten most visited sites on the web.
However, as such a new tool, the rules of the game are still being developed. Take advantage of these tips to make yourself useful to your customer, and use twitter to jumpstart your social media campaign.

1. Take It Slow

Twitter is a powerful new tool, and provides amazing marketing opportunities. But don’t just jump down people’s throats all at once. You have to make friends first. If you move too quickly, they will un-follow you, which is exactly the opposite of what you want to happen.

Make friends with people, and engage them on a meaningful level, before you start trying to sell them things.

2. Build your Base

First and foremost, Twitter is a numbers game. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing War and Peace, one tweet at a time, if you don’t have any followers. Which begs the question – how do you get more followers. Building a substantial base of followers is primarily a matter of following other people, and interacting with the community.

To find other people to follow, just search for your interests with a hashtag (#) in front. Once you’re searching in your industry, find people who have a lot of followers within the industry. These are the thought leaders, the people whose tweets are most influential. Make sure that you’re following, and engaging with them.

Which leads into the second point. Engage with and interact with people as much as possible. Respond to people’s tweets, and re-post the good ones. People like it when you re-post their tweets, and they will respond in kind by following you and reposting your tweets.

3. Respect the signal/noise ratio

I understand that twitter is a social and personal tool in additional to being a business tool. Thus it’s inevitable that you’re going to have some tweets about what you’re cooking for dinner or the film that you just saw. In fact, Twitter’s creators reportedly envisioned it as a sequence of updates about users’ personal lives.

However, you should ascertain that a certain percentage of your tweets are actually providing value to your readers, and not just telling them about your life. The ratio of valuable tweets to total tweets is called the signal/noise ratio.

The ideal ratio varies from person to person, but if you find that you’re making your followers look at pictures of your dog every single day, you might want to scale back your noise a little bit.

4. Write Regularly

Nobody likes a lurker, and nowhere is this more true than on twitter. You don’t run the same risks of being thought weird as you do when standing against the wall at a party, but you do run the risks of being forgotten.

Ideally, you should post a couple of times per day. This isn’t as hard as it sounds, because twitter posts do not need to be very detailed. An interesting thought, a useful link, (nearly) anything goes.

If you do not tweet frequently enough, you will have almost no impact. You will just be sound in your listeners’ streams.

5. Use Common Etiquette

Although twitter is a brave new world is terms of social relationships, it does not mean that you can forgo common etiquette. If you are addressed directly, you should reply. If someone reposts your tweet, you should thank them or return the favor in kind. And lastly, do not talk about yourself too much. Link back to your own sites only occasionally.

It may sound quaint, but people will appreciate your etiquette in an age of spam, and you’ll see yourself more like, and more followed.

Small businesses are often stretched for both time and resources, making them vulnerable to the idea that there are guaranteed ways to go viral on Facebook. It is true, that there are some techniques that will quickly go viral, but they do not usually help with business and sales. The most important thing to remember about marketing on Facebook is that it is not all about the highest number of views. To be successful using Facebook marketing campaigns, you need to combine humor, current information, multi-media presentations, expertise and consistency. Many business owners in search of the quick fix may decide to pursue strategies that are not good for long term success. Below are three big things to avoid when using Facebook.

1. Be My Fan? If your business spends tons of time importuning people to become a fan, it is wasting time. Certainly you want to offer the option, but sending out massive numbers of requests or making hundreds of posts to that effect will not have the results you are looking for. Sure, it is tempting to simply spam the forum to try and pick up some high fan numbers, but it will not lead to conversions and long term success. Some people will certainly add your company, but then they will block it from their news feed, completely negating the benefit of them adding you in the first place.
2. Spamming. Internet users as a whole are not happy with spammer tactics. Most people will simply ignore items they perceive as spam. When it first started to be used via email decades ago, it had some success in the market, but it is not a tool for a legitimate business. Long term success requires that you establish your business as a legitimate expert in your industry. Spam does just the opposite. If you are confused about the term as it relates to Facebook, there are some actions that can be considered spam, even though they do not involve email. Posting direct sales information that is not on topic on multiple forums is an example of Facebook spamming.
3. Never Lie. The Internet always remembers, so never, ever lie or misrepresent a product or service on Facebook. The recipient will not hesitate to call you out on it on your Facebook page. Sure, you can delete their post, but that often leads to more backlash than the original post would have as consumers perceive you as trying to sweep the mess under the rug. Facebook is a forum where consumers appreciate the truth. Sure, you may lose out on one sale, but the potential customer will remember and value your honesty for the future.

Do not fall into the trap of thinking you can enjoy instant success without effort. It simply is not true. However, when you put in targeted effort to maximize your marketing attempts, you will see eventual success. Pursue legitimate marketing efforts to create an image the will lead to long term, consistent, sales increases.

October 4 , 2011 In: SEO, Social Networking

Social Media Sites; Now a Tool for SEO

With the addition of Social networking sites to Google’s search definitions, social media marketing has become more important than ever. Your page rankings can now rise and fall based on the number of Facebook fans you develop or the number of re-tweets you generate. This puts the marketing spotlight right back onto social media. While many companies are already exploring social media as a marketing tool, that will need to expand in the coming year. There are many options for advertising and marketing using these networking sites, so take the time to plan a strategy that will work with the atmosphere of social networking.

Because social media is now a determining factor in search engine results, it needs to be prominently displayed on all of your web content. Make it easy for people to become a fan with a quick link to Facebook. Let them subscribe to your feed with a Twitter link and join your network via LinkedIn. Don’t forget to offer them a button for your YouTube channel as well. The easier you make participation, the more likely people are to click a button and improve your rankings. Do not only place these buttons on your web page. Also include them on any web content you post. If you have a blog include the links, if you write and post articles, embed the links. Get those links posted as far and wide as possible to create the results you are looking for.

Keep in mind that unlike other advertising and marketing efforts, social networking is not passive. You can not simply post something and expect a desired result. You must interact with fans and other interested people to generate additional page views. The basic fact of social media is that it is social. That means that you must engage in conversations and post regularly. If you don’t keep your interaction levels high, fans will quickly stop visiting your site and sharing your posts. By keeping the tone more casual and informative in this setting, you create the needed atmosphere for growth. Users on sites like Facebook are often looking for a break from daily activities. Include a certain level of humor to encourage them to relax and communicate on an individual level.

Incorporating social media in your marketing campaign is a necessary part of growing your business online. By maintaining several social media outlets, you maximize your potential market place. Users that prefer Twitter don’t always login to Facebook and vice versa. YouTube content is very different from the expected posts on text based systems. You must seamlessly integrate all of these communication methods to open your business to the widest possible audience. Placing artificial limits on your profit potential is not a healthy way to run a business.

With SERP placement also dependent on social media, it is no longer something that you can afford to ignore. Build a fan page today and start sending tweets with current promotions and sales. The dual result of a higher page ranking and direct social media marketing can help your business expand exponentially.

All online marketing content should be created not just to be easily found on search engines, but also to be customer friendly. Content needs to provide potential customers with the needed information about your products and services in such a way that they are engaged and made to feel as if their needs come first. Web content is not simply about presenting information pertinent to your company. Getting rid of we and our and replacing it with you is a good start, but it is not enough. Don’t simply rephrase, here’s what we do, to, here’s what we can do for you. That is not enough to attract a customer’s interest.

Start with a Question
It is always better to begin by asking your customers questions and providing links to different possible answers. If a customer starts on your landing page and the first thing they see is a question, they are more likely to stay and look for a service that can meet the need mentioned in the question. For example, if you own a company that provides payroll services, you might ask customers about a situation where a payroll error created problems for the company. Where employees where short changed or tax information wasn’t recorded correctly. You begin by asking about errors, and then you provide links to different payroll services that address different needs. By asking the customer to identify the service they are most interested in, you engage them and encourage them to continue browsing. By using a question format for all page and paragraph headings, you encourage the customer to read further to discover the solution.

Provide Information on Solutions
You are familiar with what most customers seeking industry services you provide want. Read your content as if you were a customer. Ask the stupid or inane questions, because what seems obvious to an industry insider is often gobbledygook to those shopping. Make sure your content offers actual solutions to a problem using as little industry lingo as possible. Never assume a customer is familiar with your products, they often come looking without a clear idea of what they want. Tell them what the solution is before you try and sell them a product. If you sell management training courses, describe what they need their managers to offer, before telling them that they can learn the information on your site. Always provide as much detail as possible without overwhelming the consumer. They don’t need the minutia, but they do need enough information to motivate them to make contact.

Getting contact from customers through your website is the purpose of online marketing. If you sell products, you want to drive direct sales. If you sell services you want people to email or call your company for more details. Convincing customers to take action is the hardest part of online marketing, but offering solid content with actual solutions can be all the motivation they need to take the next step. Once you have them engaged in conversation, via telephone or email, it is a short step to convince them to buy.

Using social media to promote a brand takes the same dedication, patience and time that any marketing campaign requires. There is no such thing as instant sustainable success. Using Facebook as a marketing tool is a great way to begin building an online presence to gain brand exposure. Here are some great tips to get you started or expand on your current Facebook marketing push.

Social Media is Social
The first thing to remember about all social media is that it really is about being social. Marketing on Facebook requires interaction. Browse the site and look at other pages that are relevant to yours. Engage in conversations and answer questions. Make wall posts on other pages. By participating in the site, you encourage others to visit your Facebook page. Don’t advertise as you browse, these interactions should be genuine. Advertisements are off-putting and won’t build long-term sustainable customer relationships. It seems obvious that interaction is key with social media, but many companies fail to put in the time that is needed to truly develop an online presence on Facebook. Take the time; it is well worth the eventual results.

Pictures Grab Attention
Once you have begun building a Facebook fan base, there are some simple things you can do to keep people engaged all the time. Make your posts graphically oriented, never simply post a block of text. Facebook users browse so rapidly, text is often ignored. Pictures catch and hold attention longer and are more likely to generate comments. Keep the pictures interesting and fun and you may find your fan base growing exponentially, in less time than you might expect. Pictures are more likely to be shared, so more people see them than a text block.

Questions Encourage Answers
Another tactic to engage readers is to ask questions. Don’t simply tell people about you, find out about them. A quick and fun question will often garner a significant number of responses. Asking questions does a couple of things. First, it allows people to talk about themselves, which they are much more willing to do. Second, it lets your fans know that you are interested in what they have to say. People respond in a positive way to companies that are approachable.

Successes should be Shared
Don’t just appear approachable, be approachable. Your fans should feel like they are your friends. Include them in your company by posting about successes and company info that is not directly related to sales. Posting about winning an achievement or producing an award winning product lets fans know that you want to celebrate with them, which helps them feel connected with your company’s success.

A Little Genuine Interest Goes a Long Way
While give-a-ways and viral videos are a great way to bring in new fans, the only way to keep them is by always having updated and fresh content. Stale pages don’t keep fans and while they may forget to un-fan your page, they aren’t interacting anymore. Treat fans like real people; address them by name in your responses. Just because the interaction is online, doesn’t mean that you should be any less personable, genuine and polite than you would be in real life. In fact, to generate successful Facebook marketing you need to be more genuine and give fans more information. Take an interest in other people and they will return the favor. Listen to what people say and respond. Don’t make posts and never follow up. Facebook is like a conversation that you are holding with several thousand people simultaneously. When someone asks a question, make sure to provide an answer.

Taking the time to interact with Facebook fans will increase your business success. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. People will develop brand loyalty to companies that listen to consumer wants and needs.

At the heart of every search engine optimization campaign is the task of creating content. When we speak of content, article marketing is the one thing that instantly comes to mind. By writing short SEO articles on your niche or industry, you can start generating organic traffic, create backlinks, and effect viral distribution of your content if your article gets picked up by ezine publishers. The role of article submission in search engine optimization is pretty much indispensible, because content is the food that attracts search engine traffic to you.

However, to generate traffic and get better search engine placements, you have to do more than just submit articles to popular article directories. The days of simply submitting your articles to content farms in order to get backlinks are pretty much over (owing it to the fact that major online search engines have started to “disqualify” backlinks coming from article directories). What does this mean for you and your site? It means, you have to explore new ways of distributing your SEO content on the web to get backlinks and higher search rankings.

When you finish writing an article, your first goal is to post it online and be credited by the search engines as the original creator of it. This is important because no matter how many copies of your article gets reposted on various webpages later, search engines will always give you the credit for it, and you will receive priority rankings for that piece of content. How do you do this? Well, the easiest way is to simply post the article as a separate page on your site. This way, your article can have its own tags for page title, page description, and meta keywords. Instead of being at the mercy of article submission sites, you can have total control over the SEO of your own piece of content, because you posted it in your own site and did the on-page SEO yourself.

The next thing you need to do is to get instantly noticed or “indexed” by the search engines. You do this by socially bookmarking your article in sites such as Stumbleupon or Digg. You don’t have to repost your article. Just submit your link on these sites, and because search engines visit these social bookmarking sites often, they will easily “find” your link there and include it in search engine results as soon as possible.

After you get indexed on search engines, you need to generate backlinks (a backlink is generated when the link for your website is posted on another site, more preferably a high authority site in your niche). To get backlinks for your main website, your goal is to get your article published on other blogs similar to yourself (which includes your website link at the bottom of the article). It is highly recommended that you find these blogs and find a way to contact the blog owner and offer to make a guest post. Some will be more than willing to repost your article and website link on their website if your content is good. And the more guest posts you make, the more backlinks you can generate.