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Tag : blog marketing

SEO for Amateurs: What, How, and Why

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16Jul

If your brand has a website, you have probably heard of SEO. This concept is frequently mentioned, but rarely discussed in lay terms. What is it? How does it work? Why should you care? We’re here to break it down and help you understand how to make it work for you. 

The What

Search Engine Optimization (a.k.a., SEO) is the process of optimizing the content of your website for search engines (shocking, we know). People rarely look past the first few pages of search engine (let’s be honest, of Google) results, so the closer your website is to the top of that first page , the better. SEO is considered “organic,” in that you are not paying a search engine for your rank. 

The How

Ask yourself how much you really want to know about SEO, because there is a lot of information to unpack here. At first glance, SEO might appear to be an ice berg: small on the surface, gargantuan beneath the waves. In reality, SEO is more like an ant hill: it looks simple enough above ground, but that unassuming mound of dirt hides an extensive and intricate network of tunnels guarded by hordes of zealous soldiers.

What we’re trying to say is this: SEO is surprisingly complicated. Here is a very brief, very broad overview of SEO mechanics.

Search engines (almost all of them, anyway) index sites using crawlers, computer programs that continually browse the internet. As crawlers travel the world wide web, they index and catalog all of the information they find. The search engine’s algorithm then sorts the findings according to two criteria: relevance and popularity. Relevance is influenced by myriad factors, including external links, meta data, and citations. Popularity is a factor because the algorithm–much like middle school students–assumes that popularity is a good indicator of value. (Generally, that holds true.)

You optimize your search engine rankings by incorporating keywords and key phrases into your website and content. How do you know which words are key? Well, what are the most common search terms used by your customers? What do people type into the search bar when they’re looking for your industry, product, or service? Some of this seems like it would be common sense (for example, a gluten-free bakery would use keywords and phrases like “gluten-free,” “gluten-free ingredients,” “celiac,” et cetera), but there are other aspects that you might miss (e.g., there is often an overlap between gluten sensitivity and other dietary restrictions). Most people use keyword research tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner or Keyword Explorer from Moz. SEO is more than stuffing your website with keywords and calling it a day. You must carefully integrate keywords into your content.

By the way, remember the ant metaphor? Much like the angry soldier ants who fiercely protect their queen and kin, Google doesn’t play. If there are indications that you’re gaming the system (keyword stuffing, manipulating back links, or any other black hat nonsense), you will be penalized. The algorithm won’t literally attack you, but you’ll lose rank. There is no appeals process, either: the only way to regain your standing is to reform your SEO practices.

The Why

There is no logical reason to abstain from SEO. A well-designed website is using at least a few keywords anyway–the process of SEO just ensures that the best keywords are being used. A brand has no excuse to avoid this powerful tool.

Need help with your SEO? Yeah, you do. Contact us today for a free consultation!

 

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Why Isn’t Anyone Reading My Blog? Here’s How to Get Your Customers Interested

28Aug

So you have created a blog.  A wonderful, action packed blog.  You have poured much time, effort and probably a bit of cash in it to take it live.  So now you sit back and wait for the traffic to flood in, right?  “Build it and they will come” and all that.

Unfortunately not.

Well, that isn’t always the case.  Especially if you are a SUPER high profile person or company, some of the traffic you have built into your brand.  But like many of us, that is not the case and we need to build this traffic from scratch.

What is the first step?  Make sure that you have a killer product (aka blog).

  • Is the design easy to navigate?
  • Is your content valuable and well-written?
  • Are you using pictures to flesh out your ideas?
  • Are you using links in each article and keywords?

These four questions will truly help you understand if you need to do any retooling.  Remember, you want a sporty dependable vehicle not a Porsche.  Although Porsches look nice, they can be expensive and a luxury…not a necessity.

Now promotion.  Like any new product or service, you need to create a promotional strategy for your blog.  How do you do it?  Well think about how you market your company.  What marketing channels do you use?  Did you create a launch campaign for your product or service?  When thinking about promoting your blog, this is the train of thought you need to jump onto.

Remember: it takes work to earn readers….that’s right, I said EARN readers.

With that in mind, let’s share some tips to getting people to read your blog!

  • Email Blast:  Send an announcement to your database of contacts telling them about your blog.  Then whenever you send out email blasts to this database add a link to your blog or to the RSS feed so they can easily subscribe.
  • Email Signature:  Make sure that you have a link to your blog and/or the RSS feed in your email signature.  If you have other employees, make sure that it appears on their signatures as well.
  • Blog Tour: Choose a handful of blogs of people whom you respect and of whom you share a common audience.  Subscribe to their RSS feeds and every morning leave a comment on one of their articles.  When you do this, make sure to share the link to your blog.  Note: always make your comments meaningful, sharing your expertise.  It works a heck of a lot better than just agreeing with them.
  • Social Media Profiles:  Make sure that your blog appears prominently in all of your social media presences (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc).
  • Social Media Groups and Pages:  LinkedIn in particular has the option of joining/creating groups.  Make sure to share links to your articles in relevant groups from time to time (not everyday) and when commenting, mention or reference a blog article your wrote (if relevant and adds value).
  • Exchange Links:  Another great way to build traffic is to exchange links with those whom you admire.  My only advice is to not take part in “link farming” and only ask those whom you could benefit from linking with.
  • Google Adwords:  This is a “worst case scenario” in terms of blog promotion, but if your blog is out to make money from advertising or product sales, these highly visible Pay Per Click campaigns can bring you new traffic you wouldn’t receive elsewhere.  Make sure to read through the guidelines to ensure you create the perfect ad.

This is a good starter list to get you on your way.  But remember, there are many other different methods that you can use from advertising to direct mail.

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Blog Building 101: It is More Than Just Opening a WordPress Account

22Aug

As we have all seen over the past few years, business blogs are popping up everywhere!   Everyone from the famous Hilton Hotel chain to the local business around the corner from you are launching their own piece of the online marketplace.

Why are they doing it?  Well for many reasons, but the ones you are probably interested in is the fact that they are top credibility and customer relationship builders for businesses and create many new opportunities to grow your business.  Not to mention that they drive that all important traffic to your website!

So, let’s get down to basics…and I do mean basics (anyone familiar with the blogging platform – avert your eyes now).

A blog is basically an online diary where you can share your opinions, expertise, favorite videos, relevant pictures…basically anything that you want to communicate to your target market of readers.  What makes it different from your commerce website, is that the language is more conversational and should inspire comment and conversation with your readers.

As a business person, think about a blog as a conversation starter with your customer.  Every time you write to your customer (by posting a note or article on your blog) you are blogging.  As you are the author of your blog postings, you are considered a blogger.  I share this with you because sometimes the above “blogging lingo” can over complicate such a simple concept, so it is best to understand these terms before you dive in.

Blogs allow your customers and prospective customers to learn more about you and your business as well interact in real time, through commenting on your posts.  The by-product is that when you share your expertise with the masses, you build your credibility in your industry.  And best of all…it can work as a direct funnel of pre-qualified leads directly to your website.

These are the steps to get started:

  • Sign up for a free blog on either WordPress or Blogger (two most used FREE blog sites….I prefer WordPress)
  • Using their ready-made design templates, choose a suitable layout for your blog (make sure to use one that fits your message and topic….so no puppies spilling out of baskets if you are a chain of funeral homes)
  • And then start posting!

Ok, simple enough.  But what the heck do you write about?  The simple answer: anything that is related to your business or area of expertise.  If you are an economist, write about some of the recent advances in economic policy.  If you own a computer software company, share ten tips to a faster desktop computer.

A great way to easily generate activity on your blog is to look at every piece of information that you have written in the past (articles, ebooks, marketing materials, brochures, company bios, etc) and see if you can recycle it!  Post it on your blog and you have instant content!

Now that you have a site, design and content…it is time to let people know it exists.  Let everyone know about your little piece of heaven on:

  • Your email signature
  • Your company website
  • Social Media Networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest)
  • Use Digg and Technorati to share your stories
  • Market your blogs through article marketing sites
  • Send out an email blast to your database
  • Anytime you write an article for anything online, make sure to add the link to your blog…even in discussion rooms and message boards

Now that you have people coming, make sure that you write new blog postings packed with useful information at LEAST twice a week.  The trick to effective blogging is not to do 100 posts a week, but to pick a number and hit it consistently.  Once a week all you can spare, that’s fine if you make sure to do it every week.

Blogging does not create instant results, but as your audience of followers grow, so will the number of business opportunities.  In my opinion, blogging is one of the crucial marketing mediums that every company and individual should not ignore.

Top Tip: If you do not have the time or expertise to get a blog started quickly, it is absolutely acceptable to outsource this to a company who specializes in this.

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