To Blog or Not to Blog: Top 5 Tips to Get Leads and Improve SEO

successful business blog You may be hearing a lot about blogging in business circles today, and for good reason. Blogging is very important if you want to create a strong online presence, improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and generate leads.

Every business wants to come up in page 1 of Google results. If you are blogging consistently, and the RIGHT way, which means knowing what your keywords are and using them in the right places, you can help yourself do just that.

Take a look at these top 5 tips on how to effectively blog for your business:

  1.  Blogging Improves Natural Search. If you want to start coming up in Google search, the biggest bang for your buck is to blog every day! To blog the right way, be sure to put your keywords, or, (your customer “pain points”) in the title of your article and hyperlink them in the 1st few sentences of your article back to the most relevant page of your web site
  2.  Links from Other Web Sites. Help Google find your articles by asking other bloggers to link to them. Plus, you should link to your own content from your Facebook business page, LinkedIn and Twitter. Blogging is MORE than just a “field of dreams”, you should build it, and they might come, (over time) but, help them get there faster by getting other sites online pointing to your content.
  3.  Feature Others. A great way to get people pointing to a blog article on your site is to talk about them! If you did business with them, write a review. If you use their product, tell how you liked it. Include photos or videos (this is what people love to see and click on the most) and tell the person you’ve blogged about them so they will visit the article (drives traffic) and tell their connections about it too (drives more traffic). Plus, encourage them to leave a comment.
  4.  Add the Blog to Your Domain. One of the biggest mistakes I see in blogging is when a business sets up the “free” blog and does not host the blog on their own domain (URL). Google loves to see a website change their content. If you’ve had the same old website for years and never edited it with new copy or images, chances are Google is not visiting you much. A Blog remedies that because each new “post” is a change to your web site and also adds a new page. Each new page is another opportunity to optimize for keywords, improving your SEO.
  5. Call to Action. Once you’ve made this investment of time creating great content, don’t miss the chance to capture a web site visitor. Include a strong “Call to Action” on your website, such as “Order now and get Free Shipping with this code”, “Sign up for our Free E-Newsletter”, or “Get our Free report”. Social media is very effective at getting people into your sales funnel. From there, continue with your traditional marketing efforts to convert them to a sale.

So, get out there and start blogging! You can generate leads and improve SEO, which all leads to improving your bottom line. Fairytale Brownies is a GREAT example of a successful business blog who was able to cancel their Pay Per Click marketing spend due to fantastic natural search results. Check out their blog!

3 Reasons Your Social Fans are Not Buying

getting customers to buyAs I meet new businesses, I often hear, social media does not work. With that statement, I usually ask, how often are you posting? What topics is your audience interested in? And, how does social media fit in with your “traditional” marketing efforts?

Many businesses open social accounts because they “know they need to”, but, then abandon them, or, don’t create a solid marketing plan to integrate the activity alongside their other marketing (like print ads, flyers and email).

If you want to see success using social media marketing, follow these 3 tips:

  1. Get your Fans into your Sales Funnel. This is where you drive people to your ordering path, such as, getting them opted into email where they can start to hear about your specials and offers on a regular basis. Drive people back to your OWN website whenever possible. Use your blog to write great content that you can link to and make sure you have a way to capture anyone who visits your web site with a “sign up for emails” box.
  2. Post Good Content. Make sure you are posting what your audience is interested in. Be sure to deliver great information and yes, you can “sell” to them as well. But, most often, Facebook (for example) is a great tool for reinforcing your brand. You may not make as many “direct sales” from someone clicking on a link. But, you are staying top of mind when they are ready to purchase. And, it’s GREAT to build your list here by posting about upcoming events you are holding or FREE seminars they can “share” with others and opt into your list. You never know where someone is in their buying cycle or what post you make is the one they need at just the right time.
  3. Ask for What you Want. Your audience already likes you, which is why they are a Fan! All you need to do is tell them what you want them to do. Ask them to “like”, “comment” and “share” and they will. Plus, give specific “calls to action” that provide urgency. “Order by Friday and get 10% off – please share with your friends” and give a link and a code to get the discount.

Marketing is a continuous effort not a one shot deal and there is no silver bullet in any marketing campaign. But, it is just that, a campaign, filled with many efforts that keep you in front of your customer, lead and target marketing so that you are there with the right offer at the right time when they are ready to buy.

(Image credit clickz)

Is Pinterest Really Good for Business? Myths exposed!

pinterest for businessIf you keep hearing about Pinterest and want to hop on the bandwagon because you heard about the SEO benefits, it’s time to hop off. Pinterest is a social community, not an SEO tool.

With every social community, (the most popular being Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), in order to have your business succeed on a social network, you’ve got to be present, active and participate. This is where most businesses fail using social media. They think they can just open up an account and the business comes pouring in. Not so.

There’s no denying that Pinterest does have some SEO power because it can drive traffic to your site. Visits to your web site is just one of MANY elements of SEO, but, recent studies are showing that the bounce rate is high. So, people click to your site and click right off in a matter of seconds. You can’t make a direct sale that way.

Pinterest’s REAL power is building a visual representation of your brand. See Better Homes and Gardens on Pinterest as an example of a brand who’s doing it right. Choose good images to pin that are relevant to your business and whenever you see a box to fill in, always customize with your keywords and link people back to your blog (this is where the SEO part comes in). You should always write a pin description (it appears under the pin image and provides additional information about your blog post).

Make sure the image makes sense on its own, as some images only make sense in the context of the blog article. You may need to overlay some text onto the image for major impact.

As you are getting started in Pinterest, find followers who are genuinely interested in your site and build targeted connections for link building (that means, make friends online and then talk about how they can link to your website – Twitter is also great for this.) This is where the real SEO benefits begin.

3 Ways to Stay Top of Mind: Permission Marketing

marketing opt in permissionMarketing is all about reaching the most targeted audience at the right time in their buying cycle. The reason permission based marketing (when someone opts-in to your list) is so valuable is that you often may not know when a customer is “ready to buy”, so making sure your target audience is engaged with you in the contact method(s) they prefer is key.

People need to see your message 7 – 10 times before they take an action, so the more methods they opt-in to, the better. If they see your Facebook post, email and LinkedIn Status update in the same week, you are increasing the “marketing impressions” they receive, so you have a better chance of being top of mind when they need you.

Try these 3 Ways to Stay Top of Mind:

  1. Email: Make it part of your marketing plan to send monthly emails. Even if your audience doesn’t have time to read them, or even click through, your name goes by as a touch point. Even if they hit the delete button, your name / brand has registered in their mind… keeping YOU top of mind when they need your product or service.
  2. Be Engaging: Create content on your blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn status updates that people will want to share or comment on. The more interaction you can get with your content, the more you will be remembered by your audience AND, get exposed to their contacts when they “share” what you’ve posted. Photos and Videos get the most activity.
  3. Reach Out 1 on 1: When you see an article that makes you think of someone, email it to them, or share it on their Facebook Wall. When you make an effort to keep others top of mind, they will do the same in kind just based on the fact that they appreciate your thoughts and effort.

Every business should have an online marketing plan that should include blogging, Facebook and email to get started. Twitter and LinkedIn should also be considered. If you are not sure how to reach your target customer, or you need assistance developing a marketing plan, we’re here to help.

(Image credit: warehousinglogisticsinternational.com)

Pull vs. Push Marketing and Your Blog

Why is a blog so important in online marketing? Because of its ability to “pull” leads and customers to you!

When you think of typical marketing, it’s generally “pushed” out to the audience. You send out direct mail and email, you post Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn content, you hand out flyers, you place print ads…. push, push, push.

how to blogWith 70 million people conducting daily searches on the internet, smart business owners are using their Blog to “PULL” potential customers to them! People are conducting online search for a solution to their problem. If you Blog about the right topics, YOUR web site can come up as the solution!

How to Pull People to Your Blog?

  • Put the Keyword into the Title as soon as Possible: Search engines give more weight to the 1st 3 words of a title.
  • Use Keywords throughout the Article: Use the phrase in the 1st sentence or 2, then 1 or 2 other times in the post. Hyperlink them back to the most relevant page of your own website or blog.
  • Get Links to your Blog: Start with links from your own website, your own Facebook and Twitter sites, and then branch out and make friends online to get links from OTHER peoples websites.

Keywords are the key and you must use them in your content in the right places and also receive inbound links to your content on your important keywords. There are many elements that effect Search Engine Optimization and your ability to pull people to your content. Call us if you have any questions on how to blog effectively for your business.

3 Ways to Maximize Engagement in the New Facebook Timeline

Out of the 37 million Facebook business pages, 7 million have already made the mandatory 3/30 switch to the “Timeline” format. Want to know what best practices early adopters have to share? Read on.

how to pin and feature posts fb new timeline

  1. Features: Hover over any post you have made to your wall and click the “star” button top right that says “Highlight”. When you do, it will spread the post out to cover both columns of your wall and feature it. This is GREAT for photos and makes a fantastic visual impact.
  2. Pins: You can pin any post or “feature” to the top of your wall, so, it is the first thing your visitors see. The result? Increased engagement with your page. Find this button by hovering over a post, and you’ll see “edit or remove” option, top right. Click the “pencil” image and choose “pin to top”.
  3. Noisy Tabs:If you were using a Facebook Welcome page before, it is now a “tab” that appears under the cover photo. You have 3 “above the fold” spots to use, so, make them good with custom tabs that really engage your visitor. Making your tab “noisy” refers to the level of engagement you can get by asking people to do something on a page, like, vote or watch a video.(By the way, you don’t have to have “liked” a page to write on the wall now, so, getting people into your permission marketing stream with a “like” is something you need to focus on.) Tabs are now your only place to give visitors a “call to action”.

julep facebook timelineTake a look at the following “early Facebook timeline adopters” business pages for ideas:
http://www.facebook.com/julep
http://www.facebook.com/Nylabone
http://www.facebook.com/VEVO
http://www.facebook.com/mountaindew

What is the most exciting about these new changes is that those Facebook business pages with under 1 million fans that have been using the new timeline for 1 month now, have seen significant improvement in engagement with their page.

Try the suggestions below and post your results below.

Social Media Experts Webinar Series

The vast majority of Americans are actively using social media. Has your business acted on this fact?

If you looking for a way to keep pace with the quickly evolving field of social media marketing I highly recommend this webinar series for any business. As a social media professional, I always stay on top of the latest happenings with big brands and online social tools. This social media webinar series is something I attend every year and highly recommend to clients.

More than ever, it’s critical to keep up with social media changes, to stay competitive and to learn the tactics and strategies that produce the best results and the greatest return for your business.

If your business has not yet tapped the massive opportunities presented by social media marketing, read on…

Recent Statistics on Social Media Adoption
Here are a few reasons why you should invest heavily in social media:

Mass adoption of social media: Nearly 80% of all active U.S. Internet users regularly visit social media sites (Nielsen). And while consumers spend 25% of their Internet time on social sites, Facebook has become the most visited website in the world. Your customers are there.

Social media benefits businesses: Among marketers who include social media as part of their overall strategy, 97% agree that it provides benefits and value to their business (eMarketer).

Social media improves branding: In a survey of more than 700 marketers, 88% of respondents found that social media helps grow brand awareness. Social media also benefited marketers by allowing them to engage in dialogue (85%) and increase sales and partnerships (58%). An additional 41% of marketers said it helped reduce costs (Wildfire Interactive).

These stats are just a sample of the power of social media.

Are you “all in” with your social media activities? Want to fast-track your success?

social media success summit 2012Social Media Examiner Announces Social Media Success Summit 2012
“Social media has changed radically in the last 12 months,” acknowledges Michael Stelzner, (CEO and founder of Social Media Examiner). “Google+ entered the stage, Facebook introduced Timeline for pages, YouTube unveiled their new layout, Twitter got a complete revamp and then there’s Pinterest. It’s a completely different world and there’s a need to discover new strategies and new ways to market your business with these platforms.”

To equip you with the latest strategies for marketing with Google+, blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest, Michael Stelzner and the people you trust from Social Media Examiner have recruited 27 of the world’s most respected social media experts to share their newest tips and advice at Social Media Success Summit 2012.

If you’re not familiar with these events, they’re large online conferences (so you don’t need to travel).

Typically, thousands gather at Social Media Examiner Success Summits to discover new social media tactics, network with peers and discover how other successful businesses are using social media.

What People Say About Social Media Success Summit

Last year, 3,000 people attended the online summit.
Some of the organizations represented were Coca Cola, Visa, Microsoft, 3M, Honda, Kraft Foods, SAP, Wells Fargo, Disney, AutoDesk, LexisNexis, Four Seasons Hotels, Fuddruckers, EMC and thousands of small businesses.
Here’s what some of them had to say:

“Thoroughly wowed by the format and content. I will most definitely attend future summits,” Kim Kiefer

“Guaranteed to improve the way you approach social media. I’ll be back next year!” Derrick Sweet

“Phenomenal topics and knowledgeable speakers. The ability to ‘catch up’ on sessions thanks to recordings was a selling point for me due to scheduling,” Erin Caples

“This is the most comprehensive training I have yet seen on social media. The lineup of presenters was most impressive and the whole summit exceeded my expectations,” Suzanne Kiraly

Meet Your Presenters
Among the 27 social media experts who will be presenting at this summit are:

  • Jeremiah Owyang, Altimeter Group
  • Chris Brogan, author of Google+ for Business
  • Mari Smith, co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day
  •  Brian Solis, author of Engage
  • Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford Motor Company
  • Frank Eliason, author of @YourService
  • Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner and author of Launch
  • Jay Baer, co-author of The Now Revolution\
  •  Jason Falls, co-author No Bullshit Social Media
  • Mark Schaefer, author of The Tao of Twitter
  • C.C. Chapman, co-author of Content Rules
  • Dave Kerpen, author of Likeable Social Media
  • Jesse Stay, author of Google+ for Dummies
  • Amy Porterfield, co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies
  • And experts from Dell, Ford, LinkedIn, Citigroup, Citrix and many others.

social media success summit 2012 get a free class

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Attend Social Media Success Summit?
Here are a few reasons:

  • Learn the latest and best social media business-building tactics.
  • Learn about tracking and measuring social media return on investment.
  • Learn how to sell with Google+, blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest.
  • Learn how content marketing fits in with social media.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to network via LinkedIn with thousands of people who are expected to attend.
  • You’ll interact live with experts from big B2B and B2C brands such as Ford, Dell, LinkedIn, Citigroup and Citrix.
  • Keep learning even after the summit is over—With the session recordings and the transcripts, you can keep studying the material for up to one year from the date of your ticket purchase.

Want to save some money? If you reserve your spot now, you’ll save 50%. Click here for details.
What do you think? Would you be interested in learning what the world’s top social media experts are doing that makes them so successful?

Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

4 Major Changes to Facebook Business Pages you Must Know

On Leap Day February 29, Facebook announced 4 major changes to your Facebook Business Page that will occur on March 30th. These changes will dramatically affect the success of your business! Here’s what you need to know.

  1. Timeline for Pages: Pages are getting those big, glossy cover photos and full-width media highlights which changes how we think about the identity of a business. “Welcome” pages / tabs will no longer be options as a landing page. You can still add the pages, but, they will reside under the cover photo as avatars (with a hotlink under it). Also, Facebook will NOT allow Pages to include “calls to action” or overtly promotional text in their cover photos. Your Page CAN include a logo or an image of your location or your staff in the cover photo, but it cannot say something like “Get 40% off today only” or “See more at our website.” The timeline cover size is: 850 pixels x 320 pixels.new cover photos for facebook business pagesHere’s some new business Cover Story photos to help you get ideas:
    https://www.facebook.com/CouponMintMag
    http://www.facebook.com/cocacola
    https://www.facebook.com/mortgageconsultant
    http://www.facebook.com/Starbucks
    https://www.facebook.com/umbro
  2. Getting More Customers: There will be a “friends-focused” approach to reaching and growing your audience. Instead of just seeing a wall of information or updates, you’ll first notice how many friends of yours already like the Page. You’ll also see highlighted activity from your friends that’s relevant to the Page, whether it’s a check-in or a story about the brand. It’s this type of activity that will lead to higher engagement with your business page. You can immediately connect with a brand much more personally. This will help pre-sell visitors on your company so you can get more “Likes” and turn those fans into customers!
  3. New Admin Panel: The admin panel will appear at the top of any Pages you manage, and it will act as an activity snapshot for notifications, post performance and stats. Page administrators are also getting messaging capabilities so they can respond to messages from everyday users (a first for businesses on Facebook). In addition to stats and notifications, admins also now have the ability to cherry pick “pinned posts,” which will appear at the top of the Page’s Timeline for up to seven days. You can also add past “business milestones” to the page (even if they occurred before you Business Facebook page was created.)
  4. Measurement: There will be an all-new dashboard for analytics where Admins can keep track of the activity on their page, respond to people who have commented on their timeline, and view page analytics. The admin panel will display any new likes, notifications, post performance statistics, and messages.

Facebook is providing a LOT of advanced notice. Admins will have ample time to craft, prune, and curate the Timelines and highlighted stories so that the organization’s message is told powerfully and visually.

6 Top WordPress Plug-Ins

wordpress pluginsOne of the great things about a WordPress blog is all the Plugins easily available for use.

Plugins help add features to your WordPress site that maximize flexibility and minimize heavy HTML coding. They offer custom functions and features so that each user can tailor their site to their specific needs.

Here are my top 6 favorite WordPress Plugins:

All in One SEO Pack
Automatically optimizes your WordPress blog for Search Engines (Search Engine Optimization) by allowing you to easily add keyword tags and relevant descriptions to each blog post.

Akismet
Checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not and lets you review the spam it catches under your blog’s “Comments” admin screen.

Google Analytics
Enables google analytics on all pages helping you understand how someone came to your site and what keywords they used to get there.

Subscribe2
Provides a comprehensive subscription management and email notification system for WordPress blogs that sends email notifications to a list of subscribers when you publish new content to your blog.

Share This
Adds links to share posts via Email, StumbleUpon, Digg, Facebook, Twitter at the end of each article you write.

Yet Another Related Post
Shows a list of the last 5 other posts you’ve written on this same topic that is related to the current entry, which introduces the reader to other relevant content on your site and keeps them engaged with your site longer.

3 Tips to Managing the New Facebook Profile Changes

Facebook NEW timeline 1Were you shocked to see the new Facebook changes on your profile last week? If so, you are not alone. Facebook has made tremendous changes to Personal Profiles and Business Fan Pages will not be far behind.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but, here are 3 tips worth knowing so you can get a handle on the new changes to your Personal Facebook Profile:

  1. Subscribe: Subscribing is really just the same as “adding a friend” or “liking a business page”. What’s new is that you have so many more options regarding the type of information you wish to see from each person or page. Just mouse over the name and the “hover” card will appear with many choices based on: “volume” – how often you get content, and “type” – what content you hear about. Learn more here: facebook.com/about/subscribe
  2. Timeline: The former “wall” is now called your Timeline. You are not automatically switched over to this view just yet. But, take a look at learn more about it here: facebook.com/about/timeline You may find it fun. The new layout is nice with a large “Cover” photo at the top instead of the 5 little thumbnail images plus news is shown in a 2 column format (you can even click to “feature” a particular post that will spread across both columns). What’s new is you’re going to find many drop down boxes and icons to click on that will let you edit and update just about anything. For those with lots of free time, you can spend hours adding life events (even those in the past). Facebook wants to hold your whole life!
  3. Privacy: There are many ways to select what other people see about you. You can control:
    • How you connect with friends
    • How you are “Tagged” and tag others
    • Who sees when you add new apps and websites
    • Who sees what you posted in the past
    • People and apps you have chosen to block

    Take a look at each setting individually and open or close them as you see fit.

PLUS! Facebook will be adding NEW “like” terms such as: “watch”, “read”, “listen” so that you can more accurately interact with content.

BONUS! And, if you really want to help Facebook know what you want to see on your wall, click the little blue triangle on the top left of a post to either remove it as a “top story”, or click the empty left top corner to mark it as a top news.

More questions? Just post them below.

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