Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:52:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Important Factors in Improving SEO Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:52:29 +0000 keyboard-417093_640

In this modern technological age, consumers are reliant on the internet more than ever to connect them with the products and services they want. However, according to reports by ReachLocal and Yodle, while 85% of customers are searching for local business online, more than half of all small business owners (52%) don’t even have a website.

The fact of the matter is that all businesses need to have an online presence and optimize their pages for web searches. SEO is extremely important when it comes to getting your business higher up on search results, as 75% of internet searchers don’t look past the first page. Furthermore, more than just ranking and increased traffic, having an optimized website ultimately leads to more sales, revenue, and loyal customers for your business.

Here is a basic rundown of what influences page rank and some ways to improve SEO.

Factors that Influence Page Ranking


More than ever before, the phrase “Content is King” rings true. After all, one of the top things search engines are looking for is websites with top notch, unique, and informative content. This is because that type of content is valuable and is in high demand by internet searchers.

In fact, according to The Custom Content Council, customers not only prefer to learn about a company through tailored content, but more than half are willing to buy more from businesses that provide custom content. Essentially, good content helps build your business’s relationship with customers.

With this mind, it only makes sense that black hat methods like plagiarized or machine spun content only hurts search result rankings.

Keywords and Search Terms

Gone are the days of keyword stuffing, spamming, and other types of unnatural keyword use. Unlike in the past, search engines run via increasingly sophisticated algorithms. One example is Google’s Penguin update. As a result of these fine-tuned algorithms, if you fill your website with repetitive words and phrases, Google and other search engines will immediately catch on and penalize your rating.

On the other hand, your website will fare better through natural use of keywords and search terms. When truly relevant and used in a regular way, then those keywords indicate content that has been customized for your audience and is also what they are most likely to search for themselves.

Website Accessibility

Both search engines and customers dislike websites that perform poorly. User experience suffers greatly from issues like a website being slow to load, broken links, 404 error pages, and dealing with badly structured URLs. As a result, how well your site performs is also a factor that influences the ranking of your business’s website.

Social Media and Links

Going hand in hand with quality content, search engines also take social media activity into consideration. This includes signals like shares, likes, and retweets. After all, a business website that stays active and provides what customers want will also be of interest to others.

As a result, when it comes to page ranking, an indication of good content is that it is sharable or linkable. Many businesses have quality content; however they sabotage their own ranking by making it difficult for (or even preventing) visitors from sharing content with others.

In addition, social media sites are also an important platform for interacting with customers and responding to their comments, questions, and concerns. This not only helps a business maintain its relationship with customers but also boosts its search ranking as it brings more authority, visibility, and web traffic to that business’s site.

social-media-400854_640Ways to Improve SEO

From the factors above, it is clear that businesses have to keep both customers and search engine algorithms in mind when it comes to SEO and page ranking. However, optimizing your business website is not as complicated as it might initially seem. Here are some simple ways to improve your business’s online presence and SEO.

  • Have solid content. Whether you’re just starting up a business website or have had a page up for a while, make sure your content is high demand and optimized for search engines. Necessary attributes include content that is specific and in depth, good website structure, and a page layout that is easy for a reader to navigate and helps them find the information they are looking for.
  • Check and claim your business pages. Especially for local businesses, many times Google+, Yahoo Local, and other location based business sites will automatically create a page for certain addresses. As a result, all businesses should look up, claim, and correct the information on their listing. Ensuring the correct information is out there is extremely important when it comes to details like hours of operations. For example, if your business’s auto-created listing was incorrect, chances are you’ve lost customers because of misinformation.
  • Utilize visual content. It’s no secret that humans are visual creatures, so a business website that is plain and lacks interest will only pale in comparison to competitor sites. Employ pictures, infographics, and other forms of media like YouTube videos to draw customers in and encourage them to engage with your business.
  • Make sure your website is easy to access on any device. From their smartphones to tablets, customers frequently search for local businesses on a variety of devices. While having a website is a must-have, mobile-friendliness is a major element that should be kept in mind. Studies show that many customers form a negative impression if a business’s website is slow or difficult to access on other devices.
  • Use suitable social media and review sites. As long as it appropriate for your type of business, social media is a great marketing platform and way to engage customers. For example, if your store sells crafts or baked goods, visual sites like Pinterest and Instagram would be a perfect match. Similarly, creating a profile and encouraging reviews on sites like Yelp is a good idea if you are in a service based industry like a restaurant or health clinic. There is nothing like genuinely glowing customer reviews to increase web traffic, customer loyalty, and sales.
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Traditional vs. Online Marketing Tue, 09 Sep 2014 16:36:29 +0000 marketing online

With technology becoming more deeply imbedded in most people’s daily lives, businesses need to redefine how they interact and draw in customers. Especially for local level businesses, utilizing more up-to-date marketing techniques not only brings in a better ROI, but also increases their customer base. In fact, according to recent research done by Demand Metric, online content marketing generates thrice as many leads as traditional and costs 62% less.

While traditional marketing still has its place, businesses that can adapt their marketing strategies for modern audiences will undoubtedly be more successful. To help your business make better marketing decisions, here is a basic rundown of traditional and online tactics.


While both types of marketing seek to reach and inform potential customers, traditional marketing involves predominately offline tactics. Specifically, before the internet became everyone’s favorite source of information, the main way that businesses reached customers was via various mediums. Newspapers and magazines had a lot of weight, while getting your name out via TV and radio was also common.

In essence, traditional marketing tactics include the following:

  • Newspaper and Magazine Ads
  • TV and Radio Commercials
  • Signs, Catalogs, and Fliers
  • Renting a Billboard
  • Distribution of Business Cards and Brochures
  • Having a Booth at a Trade Show
  • Speaking at a Conference
  • Hosting Seminars and Classes


Since most traditional marketing tactics involve the print process or in-person dealings, they require more upfront investment. Take for example, the cost involved in getting an advertisement out in print. Not only is it a process that takes time, but print materials involve hiring a graphic designer, purchasing ad space, paying for printing, and if they are distributing the flyers via mail, also taking care of stamps and delivery costs.

Similarly, common marketing events like seminars involve many costly steps as well. In addition to paying an employee or guest lecturers to host a class, a company needs to advertise the seminar, get enough customers interested in attending, pay for necessary materials, and rent a suitable venue to house all the attendees.


When compared to internet marketing, traditional marketing tactics tend to be more much limited in reach. Whether a business chooses to market itself via mail flyers or a billboard, those advertisements are physically limited and can only reach a certain number of potential customers who happen to pass by. Even if there are many individuals who would love the items or services a business offers, their chances of discovering their ideal gym or new favorite restaurant via a random street flyer is fairly slim.

However, this is not to say that traditional marketing tactics don’t work. In certain situations, such as a small coffee shop that caters only to people in the area, marketing via an advertisement in the local newspaper would be a great way to reach their target audience.


While more costly and limited in reach, traditional methods do have their benefits. In terms of interactivity, things like trade shows, seminars, and classes are more successful in building up strong business relationships. Furthermore, traditional tactics also often result in more successful engagement with customers.

As much as people like the speed and ease of internet interactions, it’s not too surprising that in-person experiences are more memorable. A pleasant conversation with a business representative or attending a conference not only allows a business to showcase their good points, but also encourages customers to share their experiences with others.

social media marketing worldwide facebook-245454_640


Also known as eMarketing, online marketing uses the internet to reach customers. With computers, smartphones, and other web-accessing devices becoming ubiquitous, some common online marketing tactics are as follows:

  • Company Websites
  • Business Blogs
  • Online Reviews
  • Marketing Articles
  • Email Subscriptions
  • Video and Podcasts
  • Online Deals/Coupons
  • Pay-per-click Ads
  • Social Media Pages
  • Viral Advertising


In comparison to traditional, online marketing costs much less. Websites are fairly inexpensive, meanwhile social media business pages are usually free and simple to set up as well. From articles to images, web content does not require nearly as many steps as printed materials and can be more easily updated and changed.

Furthermore, it is easier to track the ROI of online marketing methods. Take for example, the difference between a TV advertisement and YouTube video short. While you would have a rough idea of how many people saw your ad on TV, it is challenging to connect those individuals with how many customers were actually motivated to visit. In comparison, the statistical report of a YouTube video not only shows many people viewed it but can also indicate how many visitors to your business’s website were directed there from YouTube.


Online marketing has a massive reach. Instead of hoping that enough customers will see a street ad and stop by, marketing your business on the web means you can reach anywhere from an entire nation to a huge international market of potential customers.

This broad scope is especially critical for small businesses who sell products to a niche clientele. For example, while there might be only a handful of customers interested in custom cowboy boots in your immediate area, online marketing enables you to gain visitors, fans, and buyers from other states and even countries.


While not as relationship-building as some traditional marketing methods, online marketing provides many new venues for customer interaction. Instead of seminars and classes, businesses can be more dynamic. Whether it’s via an online giveaway, video competition, or photo challenge, businesses can have more sustained customer interaction. In addition, nothing can beat the speed of gauging customer satisfaction and receiving feedback online.

Furthermore, viral and social media tactics can really make your customer base swell. By simply using social media to encourage individuals to share with their friends, businesses have an easy way to spread their name and reach customers. After all, visitors become leads who in turn become customers, fans, and promoters.

Lastly, online marketing is a convenient way for customers to find your business. Whether they are looking for a coupon or have questions, most modern consumers will first scope out and attempt to contact a business online.

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How Small Businesses Benefit from SEO and Online Marketing Thu, 21 Aug 2014 20:45:38 +0000

Whether you run an MRI clinic or restaurant, utilizing a variety of marketing tactics can be very valuable for your business. Most people have used a web search engine before; however, very few business owners actually understand how sites like Google help connect users with the information and services they want. Especially for small businesses, things like online marketing and SEO can seem to be a complex undertaking. Nevertheless, promoting yourself online is critical for modern businesses.

While this is by no means a comprehensive guide, here is a basic run down of what SEO is and how small businesses can benefit from online marketing tactics.

What is SEO?

As the abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization, SEO is a type of marketing strategy based off of how search engines operate. In essence, if a website has been optimized for search engines, then it will have better visibility and a higher search ranking. While fairly sophisticated, one way to think of the link between internet content and search engines is as an interconnected web of documents, links, and sites.

How It Works

Whenever someone looks for something online, search engines like Google send out a program called a “crawler” or “web spider”. This bot has to crawl through billions of webpages, find all the information, and then index it into a search result. In addition, they have to do this extremely quickly since users expect results in seconds.

In order for this web spider to efficiently find the best information, search engines have it look for content that is important and relevant. While things may have been different in the early days of the internet, these programs now use advanced algorithms (or ranking factors) to evaluate content. Updates like Google Panda mean there is no point in attempting to “trick” search engines using things like keyword stuffing or spun content.

Basically, since search engines are calibrated to find relevant information and streamline the search experience, well designed websites with quality content will emerge at the top. As a result, websites that use SEO techniques will likewise appear higher in search results since they fulfill the ranking factors of search engine algorithms.

SEO and Its Role in Online Marketing

First of all, it is important to note that SEO is different than SEM, or Search Engine Marketing. While they used to mean the same thing, SEM is nowadays used in reference to paid search advertising, where businesses pay for their advertisements to appear when certain words are searched for. These paid ads are often placed next to SEO search results, which are called “natural” or “organic” because they are unpaid.

For successfully marketing to a modern customer base, it is necessary for businesses to invest in online methods. Less expensive than traditional tactics, proper SEO and cultivation of organic search results are two of the best ways for small businesses to grow in a sustainable manner, strategically promote themselves online, and gain increased customer traffic.

How Do Small Businesses Benefit?

Let’s face it. In this day and age, the internet connects everyone. As a result, even local businesses in the heart of New Jersey can benefit from having an online presence. In fact, if you aren’t using the web to market yourself, you are definitely losing out on a ton of business. Modern customers are very reliant on internet research, as according to a 2013 study done by Eventility, a whopping 97% of consumers search for local businesses online.

Whether you run medical practice or a gym, here are some of the main ways small businesses benefit from online marketing.

Massive Reach

Whatever service or product you offer, there are always potential customers looking for the right business to fulfill their needs. Very few people bother searching traditional places like the yellow pages anymore. From their computers at home to their smartphones and tablets, most consumers are relying on online search engines.

By wisely using SEO and marketing online, you can be visible to this online customer base, overcome basic distance limitations, and reach more customers overall. Similarly, if your business also sells products online, you can even gain sales from customers that live half the world away.

Lower Marketing Costs

Compared to traditional marketing tactics, online marketing is both more efficient and less expensive. Where businesses used to have to man a storefront, entice customers to walk in the door, and convince them to purchase their product or service, now a well-managed website can take care of all those steps simultaneously.

Financially, it only takes a small investment to set up a website, business listing, social media page, and/or blog to compete with others online. In addition, from an online platform, your business can promote itself even further via updates, special offers, and other campaigns.

Customer Convenience and Increased Sales

Thanks to the fast pace of modern life, most customers like to get what they want right when they want it. In that sense, websites are the best resources in that they are available 24/7.

Business websites that are attractively designed and mobile friendly will often bring in more sales. This is because they contain all the necessary facts customers are interested in, such as hours of operation, address, services, pricing, and contact information. A successful business website that sells products will also have a checkout process that is easy, secure, and streamlined.

In essence, having an online site for your business not only makes life more convenient for your customers, but also equates to more traffic and sales.

Grows a Community of Customers

By using the social media aspect of online marketing, even small businesses can gain a loyal community of fans and patrons. Whether it is via Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, or Google+, internet platforms can be great places to connect with customers, address questions, and get feedback on what is going well or needs to be improved for your business to succeed.

Combined with tools such as customer reviews, online discounts, and event promotions, SEO and online marketing spreads your business name across networks while also drawing in new customers.

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Content Marketing Part-2 Thu, 03 Apr 2014 10:01:52 +0000 Welcome back to our ongoing Must-Have Social Media Strategies Series. We hope you’ve been implementing the advice we’ve delivered so far. If not, ask yourself what’s stopping you. You’re the only one standing in the way of your success, whether in your personal life or in your business. But you’re also the one that decides when you’ll succeed, and that’s a beautiful thing. So if you made it through Must-Have Social Media Strategies 1-6 and haven’t done anything about them, we invite you to go do that now. We’ll wait patiently. No, seriously. We made a mixed tape. It’s power ballads from the 80s. There’s some Poison on here, a little Bon Jovi, and, of course, Journey. We could listen to this all day. In fact, even if you have implemented Strategies 1-6, we won’t mind if you sneak off and implement them again while we take a minute just to rock out a little bit. Ooh, yeah, that’s good stuff. Does anyone have a lighter? I want to hold it up into the sky while I nod my head and bite my lower lip with intensity. While you’re looking, if you could pass me a bandana to tie my hair back, that’d be great. Oh, man, are those ripped, acid-washed jeans? Where on Earth did you find those? Goodwill? I knew it. Pass those over here too. Okay, now we’re really feeling it.

Back and ready for more? Great, because we’re ready to give you some. This week’s Must-Have Social Media Strategies 7, 8 and 9 are here to really move your content marketing engine forward. It’s where you start to pick up steam in everything you do. It’s where the wheels really start to turn, and you begin to see results. Now, you’re going to have moments where you’ll be tempted to skip over these things, either because you feel like you’ve already done so much implementation already or because you’re itching to run forward to the part where you sell, sell, sell, but that would be a mistake. We’ve laid your foundation, it’s true, but you don’t build a roof without the framing structure to support it. Strategies 7, 8, and 9 are those wood framing pieces. And joists. And bolts. And sheet rock. And other construction terms that seem applicable to this roof metaphor. Walls. We guess we could have just gone with walls…

Must-Have Social Media Strategy #7: Write Great Stuff

It may seem strange that we would have to clarify that the things you write should be good, but sometimes it may be a challenge to produce the good stuff when your deadline is looming. That’s not to say that you should be one of those perfectionists who only feels comfortable pushing the publish button after you’ve meditated on your content for two weeks and made five drafts and had a writer friend look it over and blah blah. You’ll never get anything done like that. But we also don’t want you pushing out crappy content just because it’s been three weeks since you put up a blog post.

One of the reasons that content marketing is so important for your business is that it can establish you as an expert in your field. You’ve got information up in that brain of yours that’s just dying to get out, things that nobody else knows, things you’ve learned through your one-of-a-kind experiences. That’s the great stuff we mean. You should be sharing that goodness with your visitors. That’s what’s going to get you retweeted, linked to and shared. The poorly written, poorly thought out, not in-line with your business’s purpose, blatantly salesy, riddled with typos and crappy grammar e-newsletter that you’re tempted to send out just so you can check it off your list isn’t. Oh, it will get you unsubscribes, but we’re not in that business. (Is anyone?)

Your content needs to be great—not perfect, but great. It should fit with your company’s mission and the value it’s trying to deliver to its customers. It should be free of errors. It should be thoughtful and unique, something that could have only come from you and your individual perspective. People appreciate consistency, but it doesn’t always have to follow the same format or have the same tone as the one that came before. To quote Whitman here, you are large (you contain multitudes). And don’t be afraid to push the envelope once in awhile. You can stir up controversy. You can say things you’re debating saying. You can be honest with your readers that you aren’t quite sure how they’re going to react to it. If you’re an entrepreneur with a small business and most of your leads come from the web, one of the biggest reasons your customers like you is because of who you are and what you represent. You better believe that gives you the right to be human once in awhile. And humans don’t always go the way you expect them to go.

Think carefully about what your content actually says about you. If your content is crappy, will you be attracting high-quality customers? Can you justify charging premium prices? The content you put out sets the tone for your business and your products and services. It tells your customer how much you value them and how much you value your business. If you’re posting low-level content, your customer will expect to pay low-level prices. And if you’re posting low-level content, your customers might not even be the ones you want for your business. They might be price shoppers, the ones that always pay the lowest amount for a product or service that they can find. This works if you’re WalMart, but very few of us have that vision for our business. We can safely assume that if you’re here, reading these content marketing posts, you’re probably not aiming to be the cheapest, lowest-level business in town.

You might be asking yourself how you’re going to have time to come up with all of this fabulous content. Here’s an interesting statistic for you: 62% of businesses blog, but only 9% of them hire a full-time blogger to do it for them. So, yes, it is possible to hire someone to do your content creation for you, but we think you can write more frequently and better than you give yourself credit for. Our best advice is to sit down and block out a chunk of time to simply generate content ideas. Remember that content can come in many forms: infographics, how-to articles, video posts, podcasts, questions and answers, stories that your customers might find relevant or interesting, reviews of other products related to your niche. Once you’ve created your list of ideas, keep it handy so you always have something to write about. Or go a step further and actually start writing it now. Just because you choose to publish a blog once a week does not mean that you have to write a blog once a week. You can spend one day creating several so that all you have to do later is post them.

We recommend you remove as many barriers as you can to producing great content. To encourage you to do, we’d like to leave this strategy with one more fact: small businesses that blog regularly receive 126% more leads than those who do not.

Must-Have Social Media Strategy #8: Be More Generous Than You Think You Should Be

However much time you think you should spend giving away valuable content to your website visitors and social media followers, listening to what they have to say about you (and in general) and contributing to other people’s conversations, spend more of it. Soon after you start changing your content marketing strategy into one where you produce and upload content on a consistent basis, it’s going to be tempting to sell your products. You’re going to think you’ve put in your dues. You’re going to think to yourself, “Hey, I’ve put out some good stuff. People are going to be begging to buy from me now.” But the harsh reality is, they’re probably not. It takes time to build up the sort of trusting relationship you want with your customers; it doesn’t come overnight from a blog post or two. Consider dating—would you enter into a long-term relationship with a person you’ve only been out with once or twice? (I’m going to ignore the oddballs out there who are nodding and saying, “Yes, if she was incredibly hot” in hopes that you are in the minority.) It’s much better to take the time to get to know a person before you decide to enter into a committed relationship with them. And the same goes for your customers. They’re going to want to get to get to know you before they take it to that next level of giving you their credit card information. According to email marketer Infusionsoft, your customers aren’t buying after 3 follow-ups; most of them are buying after 8 or 9.

Don’t get us wrong. Ultimately, you do want your visitors to convert into customers. You can try to sell early, of course, and you should definitely be selling eventually, but we think you’re much better off putting in more time than you expect you should. The more time you put into developing the foundation for your buyer-seller relationship, the stronger it’s going to be. Let’s take for example the buying and selling platform Fiverr. If you’re not familiar with this website, it’s a marketplace where you can find people who are willing to do a plethora of things (many of them odd—the things they’re willing to do, not the people. Although…) for $5, or “a fiver” as it is occasionally referred to. And believe it or not, it is a major website, receiving traffic from all over the planet. Its sellers offer more than three million gigs. We can safely say they’re a major player. At the time of writing, out of the past 11 tweets on their Twitter page, only 2 of them were promotional. The rest? Responses to people that had tweeted them, both customers who were grateful for what they’d received through the marketplace and those who were unhappy.

What’s a good ratio of providing value to selling? Financial guru RamitSethi famously says he gives away 99% of his best stuff for free. Business coach and founder of the famous online marketing course B-School Marie Forleo says she personally prefers a 90-10 ratio. Would you like to be as famous and successful as both of these bestselling authors/millionaires? Of course you would. But in order to get there, you have to be willing to consistently add value to the lives of your customers. Your business should focus most of its efforts on what it can give, not what it can get. We once heard that however much money you would like your business to earn this year, you should provide that much in value to your customers. We think that’s a good barometer.

Must-Have Social Media Strategy #9: Make Gratitude Your Attitude

Every year on Thanksgiving, my family goes around the table, and we all say what we’re thankful for. It’s tradition, and it’s a good one. Or take, for instance, the research that’s been done on gratitude as a practice. Shifting your perception to a place where you are regularly expressing gratitude for the things in your life actually makes you a happier person—and, strangely, tends to attract more things into your life for you to be happy about. We think that’s a pretty good reason to apply gratitude to your business plan.

What happens when you give someone a compliment, and they don’t say “thank you” back? Does that make you want to tell them nice things in the future? We’re guessing you said no—and your customers probably would too. If your people are doling out the praise on Twitter and Facebook and forums, take notice, and thank them genuinely for the love. We know your product or service is excellent and of course what you provide is quality, life-changing stuff, but this person did not have to take time out of his or her busy day to publicly declare their appreciation and admiration for you, so why not acknowledge that? Reply to as many of these messages as you can (you know we’re going to recommend that you reply to all of them), and make your responses personal too. Your customers will be delighted that you’re listening.

You can also use this opportunity to be grateful to any press outlets who have chosen to cover your business, any other bloggers who have agreed to let you publish on their sites, any service providers who are lighting up your life right now, any people you find inspiring. You can and should be giving regular praise to your customers, whether they’ve initiated tweeting you or not. Consider using your social media pages to offer regular customer appreciation sales or promotions, unannounced, just to show your people that they mean as much to you as you mean to them.

Thanks again for stopping by for part 2 of our Must-Have Social Media series. Remember, it’s all well and good to consume content, but what really matters is what you produce. What will you make after reading today’s post? Let us know.

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13 Must-Have SEO Boosters: Part 1 Thu, 03 Apr 2014 09:39:36 +0000  Content is king, right? You’re pretty sure you heard that somewhere. Or, a lot of wheres, actually. But content is a lot like that age old question about a tree making noise while it’s falling in an empty forest: Does your content matter if nobody reads it? We could answer that for you, but we’d much rather guide you so that this question is never one you have to ask yourself.

Getting your content read, your site visited, and the money to show for it all is an integral part of success for a business, but you’re competing against any number of other sites for people’s attention. It’s not enough to simply post something once and hope people will find you. You have to actively market to your ideal audience. You have to construct a plan of attack. You have to learn about (cue suspenseful music) SEO.

Ah, search engine optimization. It’s how people find your website. It’s how Google finds your website. It’s how Google helps people find your website. And yes, it can be learned. We promise. Here we breakdown the first three strategies in our series of must-have SEO boosters.

SEO Booster 1: Guest Blog

This might surprise you, but we’re not actually going to start this journey at your own website. We’re going to start it in a land far, far away instead—in this magical landscape we like to call “the Internet.” One of the things that’s so beautiful about this candy-coated place is that there is no single road to find information. As anyone who has ever spent a second on a Wikipedia page knows, there are many ways to get from here to there. It’s like one massive game of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” (We are tempted to spend a moment here going from Wikipedia to Kevin Bacon in six steps, but it’s probably better to stay focused on SEO. And if you’re doing this game in your head right now, one of the steps is definitely the film based on Wiki Leaks The Fifth Estate. We digress.)

You might be asking yourself why any of this matters. It matters because a person does not have to hit the keyboard knowing that they are going to find your site. They can be drinking their cup of hot tea or Oval-tine or whatever it is your audience drinks, ready to look up times for the latest Kevin Bacon movie, and still wind up on a path to you. And one of the best ways to direct them from there to here is SEO booster number one, guest blog.

The guest blog is the post you write for someone else’s website that drives traffic back to yours. The key to a good guest blog is aligning yourself with someone in a similar industry but probably not a direct competitor. Think of it like a department store; you want other people that are shopping in Bloomingdale’s, but not necessarily in your specific department. For example, if you’re writing a book about, let’s say, teaching English in another country, you may not want to guest post on other authors’ pages. You would want to guest post for recruiters that are sending people to that country or services for expats teaching English in that country. Get the picture?

Aim high. The only limit on guest posts is you. You can pitch any fellow company or blogger in your niche with your idea, and we do mean any. If you want to be on Oprah someday, pitch Oprah’s people. It’s the idea that you should surround yourself with greatness. You do not have to be afraid to pitch people that would ordinarily terrify you. If that’s the level you want your business to be in, cowering in the corner hoping they notice how great you are isn’t going to get you there. Reach out to them. Introduce yourself. Point out something specific that they’re doing that you love. Tell them about what you’re working on and why it’s a perfect fit for their readers. The worst they can say is nothing. The best they can say is, “Yes, this is exactly what we’ve been looking for!” and then send a bunch of traffic back to your site. We can’t tell you what they’ll say for sure, but we do know that if you aren’t even asking, you’re definitely not going to get results.

SEO Booster 2: Author Rank

The first step to achieving greatness in guest posting is to handle your author rank.

Have you noticed that when you search for something recently, the first results you’re getting are from blogs you’ve probably never heard of with someone’s professional portrait listed beside it? Thank the magic of Google for that. That’s Google Authorship at its finest. When you provide valuable, good-quality content to high-level websites, you get a happy, little tick in your favor on the search engines. But in order to achieve this, it helps if there’s an easy way for search engines to track all of the places you’re posting and all of the content you’re posting about.

To get started building your authorship reputation, you need a Google+ authorship page. Pick a great picture of your face (where you’re looking at the camera and smiling, preferably) and use this as your profile photo. We actually recommend you use this photo for all of your social media pages, not just your authorship page. It can be your Gravatar, your Facebook profile picture, your Twitter picture, the photo on your “about us” page. People like consistency. They do not want to guess that it’s the same you be-bopping all over the Internet. Make it easy for them. Second, pick your name. Make it the same name everywhere too, particularly on all of the articles you write for others. Every article you write should have a byline, and that byline should match your Google authorship page. Google also wants you to have a verified email address at the domain of your posts. If you do not have a verified email address at that location, you can set up a link from that page back to your Google authorship page and then manually add a custom link from your Google page back to your guest blog.

We want to remind you that while it may be extremely tempting to hop from site to site and post the same article, it’s actually better for SEO if at least 30% of each article is different from the original. And further, you should only be posting on pages that are relevant to what you do if you want to maintain a solid reputation as a guest blogger and in your business. Resist the urge to give away your content to anyone who asks for it. It’s your content; you get to choose where it goes, so make it count.

If you want to make the most out of your guest blogging, you should lead visitors back to your website, where you have an opt-in to catch their email address. This way you can contact them even after they leave through an e newsletter stating your products, services and promotions or whatever else you decided to put in your e newsletter. (You do have a strategy for your newsletter, don’t you? You are sending one, aren’t you? If not, we really want you to consider doing this. There’s so much potential for sales and more when you have a lengthy list of email addresses at your disposal. For example, if you are thinking about writing a book through the traditional publishing route, it actually helps your cause significantly if you can go to the publisher with the number of subscribers you have for your newsletter.)

SEO Booster 3: Keep Up With Your Social Media

Having active pages on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook actually helps your performance on a search engine. This is because it gives you more authority and shows that you are an actual person with newsworthy things to say. So if your Facebook page has been sitting stagnant for some time, log in right now and do something about it. If you’ve long since forgotten your Twitter password, have them send you a link to reset it. If your Instagram photos are as old as they look with that filter on them, for heaven’s sakes, update them.

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15 Must Have Social Media Strategies for 2014 – Part 1 Wed, 18 Dec 2013 09:24:44 +0000 http://localhost/elegant/?p=1 The Must Have Social Media Strategies Series for 2014 – Part 1


Must-Have Social Media Strategy #1: Be Yourself

Do you know what makes or breaks a TV sitcom? It doesn’t matter if it takes place in a sunny LA loft or an apartment in NYC, if the story revolves around a coffee shop or a doctor’s office, if the two central members of the cast are married to each other or are set to fall in love through a series of almosts and plot twists. No, the biggest key to reaching sitcom gold? The quirkiness of the characters.

This piece of TV wisdom works to your advantage in real life. How? We’re glad you asked. Because we believe the difference between a good brand with a moderate number of followers and a premium brand with a tribe of raving fans, in this digital age, is personality. Take Marie Forleo for example. You could call her a business coach, a public figure, a bestselling author, a web TV hostess, or even a hip-hop dance instructor. Clearly, she is one multitalented lady, but would thousands of people from 191 countries around the globe subscribe to her weekly MarieTV webisodes and shell out nearly $2,000 for her scrumptious B School each year if she didn’t come at you with such…Marie-ness? She is hard to resist, with her readily available kookiness, her silly jokes, her occasional swear words, and her not-so-occasional dance numbers. Your shields are down because hers are. Simply put, she is who she is. And people love her for it.

Or consider the example of Maneesh Sethi, travel hacker and blogger, who used Craigslist to hire a girl to slap him across the face whenever he spent too much time on Facebook, which, if the video serves as any proof, he very frequently did. And guess how people reacted to Mr. Sethi and his slapper? They loved it. A lot. He earned spots on major TV news networks. What allowed for this kind of success? Maneesh. He had the sort of bold personality that made hiring a stranger to smack you almost seem normal.

When social media first started, there was a flicker of fear, “Oh, God, I have to curate my social media pages if I want to be taken seriously in my career. There must be a separate work me and a separate play me.” Convinced The Company was keeping watch on our Facebooks and Twitters (and often they were), we were living in an era of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydes, every person with two distinct sides: one buttoned up and one with its hair down. Like an army, we were all waiting for our commander to yell “at ease” so we could finally post that vacation photo of us drinking a daiquiri on the beach—a daiquiri we paid for and are legally allowed to drink as an adult, but one that somehow brought us shame when our friend dared to take a picture of us drinking it, leading us to imagine the debate we would find ourselves having if the HR department ever got their hands on the evidence that, yes, we do in fact carry on as normal people when we’re not in our cubicles.

But somewhere along the way entrepreneurs and major brands started to shift the gears of these expectations on social media. They realized that it was precisely these things that we do in our personal life, these opinions that we have and jokes that we make and if P interest has anything to say about it, yes, even the daiquiris we drink, these things—these human things—that are much more endearing to customers (who are also humans, let us remind you) than any 140-word post about the thing you’re selling.

So be yourself on your social media pages. Embrace your you-ness. Remember that nobody does what you do in quite the way you do it, so be undeniably, apologetically you. People love personality. Let yours out to play.

Must-Have Social Media Strategy #2: Respond to Everyone

Even though there’s a screen between you and your customers, social media actually brings you closer to them than ever. Think of the more traditional forms of advertising: TV commercials, radio spots, print ads. With these mediums, you’re getting your message in front of the eyes of potentially millions of people. Good, right? Maybe. What’s even better? An actual relationship with them.

Traditional forms of media don’t allow for a customer to contact you directly. Sure, you probably list a website, where they can go and fill out a contact form. Or a phone number that they can call and set up an appointment to talk to someone. But how much different do these two things sound? In the first scenario, your customer sends a contact form, and a customer service representative answers them via email. “Okay, cool, I talked to a customer service representative today,” is what your customer would say, if they even think to mention it at all. In the second scenario, your customer tweets at a major brand, and the major brand answers him or her directly. Your customer gets to say, “Burger King tweeted me back today.” See the difference? In both scenarios, the customer is actually only speaking to one person who works for the company. In fact, in the second scenario, they are probably actually speaking to a bearded dude named Dan who works in Manhattan at the PR agency Burger King hired to run their social media, but you can be almost certain that the second scenario got Burger King a customer—or potentially a brand ambassador who bragged to their friends all about their social media interaction.

This is why we recommend responding to everyone. Yes, everyone. On Twitter, on Facebook, wherever you have fans and followers that take the time to write to you. We bet it won’t take as long as you think it will, and it has the potential to breed loyal followers in a way that traditional media just doesn’t. Everyone wants to feel heard, and you have the potential to make that happen. But if you are going to respond to everyone (and we sincerely hope you do), do your best not to make it sound automated. You want your customers to feel like they’re talking to an actual person, not a robot that runs your Twitter page. You don’t want it look like a series of “@someperson, Thanks, that’s great!” followed by “@someperson2, Thanks, awesome!” followed by “@someperson3, Thanks, that’s good!” See the problem? Make it personal. Acknowledge the person and why you’re answering them directly. This way they will know that you’re actually paying attention to what they have to say, not just trying to meet some best practice social media post quota.

Not only do your customers hope you’ll respond to them on Twitter; some of them are downright expecting it—especially if they’re complaining about something. In 2013 a British TV program called The One Show did an experiment to see how quickly companies would respond to criticism on Twitter. The winner? It took only 3 minutes to get a response, while the slowest response time was one hour and ten minutes (compared to 24 hours when a complaint was lodged via email). That’s powerful proof that companies are taking their social media very, very seriously.

You might even find your next employee by engaging with your community via social media. For example, National Public Radio regularly uses Twitter to recruit fresh talent that it thinks are in-line with the company’s visions and goals, utilizing a hashtag campaign with its current employees to give a personal representation of what it’s like to work in the company.

But Twitter is not the only game in town for responding to your followers, we’d like to point out. There are also plenty of opportunities to do this on Facebook, and 47% of people say that Facebook has the biggest impact on their purchasing. You may even wish to directly ask your Facebook fans for their opinions on things. Jeweler Tatty Devine used Facebook to solicit wishes from their customers, which they then posted on wish trees in their brick and mortar stores. Guess what? Facebook is their number one source for driving online traffic.

A way to connect to your customers, increase brand loyalty, solve customer complaints, find fresh new faces, and increase your sales? Why wouldn’t you respond to everyone?

Must-Have Social Media Strategy #3: Dial Down the Corporate Speak

Value proposition. Synergy. Mission statement. It’s the business jargon we’ve all come to know (but probably don’t love). This used to be the way we talked about our businesses, in conference rooms, on whiteboards and yes, even on our websites. Not anymore. Now, people want you to use real words when you’re talking about your business, words that convey meaning, not confuse it. They want to go to your website, your Facebook, your YouTube, your Twitter page, your anywhere page and be able to tell in an instant who you are and what you do. They don’t want to get lost in this business jargon of yesteryear. They don’t want to do guess work. They don’t want to have to interpret what you’re saying, or worse, ask you. Because if they have to ask you, they’re not going to. Instead, they will leave, and they will buy from the other guy. So don’t post your mission statement, your value proposition, your grand corporate vision, or your manifesto (unless it’s as clear and cheerful as Lululemon’s, in which case, by all means, post away—another way you can convey your kookiness. See Strategy 1. And as long as we’re talking about it, make it pretty. Pretty is shareable. Shareable is what you’re after.).

Your social media pages are not places to be stuffy. Consider the tone you would have in an interview versus the tone you would have in a conversation, and apply the second one to your social media. There, let the walls come down a bit, stretch and spread out, take off your shoes. If your virtual space is confined and uptight, your customers will feel restricted and on edge. If your virtual space is comfortable and inviting, though, your customers will feel both comforted and invited.

Do consider your branding when you’re updating your social media pages though. One of the best suggestions we’ve heard is to pinpoint the few keywords you want your customers to consider your company as being (inspirational? Cheeky? Intellectual?), and apply those words to every message you share. Is your post in-line with those keywords? Great. Share away. Does that post contradict one of them? Reconsider before posting.

Let’s use Sharpie as an example. Who comes to mind when you contemplate the ideal Sharpie customer? A business person, perhaps? Someone running meetings, maybe? But if you think that means that Sharpie is using their Instagram and Twitter pages to talk about using Sharpies in a business capacity, you’d be quite wrong. Instead, they’re posting photos of hand-drawn bowties and wild neon lip prints. They’re going bold. Vibrant. Much like the Sharpie itself. And we’d bet they’re getting a lot more retweets doing it this way than if they were posting stale statistics or boring business jargon.

Or Red Bull. Their Google+ page features videos of extreme athletes jumping and snowboarding and otherwise participating in fringe athletics, and it receives at least 50 comments per post.

Ultimately, when it comes to what you post, you want to be repeatable, because that’s where the social media power is—in being repeated. Is anyone going to repeat your mission statement? Would they even remember it after they read it? Heck, can you remember it (no peeking!)? If not, save it for the boardroom and for meetings with your venture capitalists. In your digital space, take a walk on the wild side. Meow.

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