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Local SEO Factors

Local SEO Factors

Local SEO FactorsAs explained in my last post which covered the definition of SEO, we learned that authority plus relevance equals rank. Search engines typically measure authority by looking at how many actual pages exist on your website, and by analyzing how many other websites link to yours. The more relevant pages you have, and the more relevant and credible links you have linking back to your website, the better your SEO mojo. However, when it comes to local businesses, it would be nearly impossible for your business to rank against big directories, like Yelp and YP, if the same approach were taken.

That’s why for local businesses, the search engines use a different approach. Local SEO is the term used to describe the specific tactics involved in helping local businesses get found and ranked on the search engines. There are 3 factors to consider when thinking about Local SEO.

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO refers to the content and structure of your businesses website. It’s important that your website prominently displays your NAP (name, address, and phone number) correctly across all pages. The products and services that you offer should be listed. If you offer a wide array of services, create a services page that lists and explains all of the services you offer. If you serve a large community that extends far beyond your physical address, create a page that speaks to the products and services you offer in the various communities you serve. Also, don’t forget a good call to action, coupon, or other offer. In short, make it easy for your website visitors to understand who you are, what you do, why they should use you, and make it super easy for them to know where to call or visit you.

When it comes to website structure, there are so many website building tools and services that ensure your website is structured in a way that makes it easy for the search engines to find and index the information on your site. Website services like those offered through our very own PowerSites® will allow you to have a perfectly structured website with little effort and at an affordable price.

Citations

Citations are your businesses NAP (name, address, and phone) listed across the web. If your NAP is listed on ten different web pages, then you have ten different citations. Since most local business websites don’t have tons of pages nor do they have tons of back links from other websites, the search engines look to citations as a way to measure authority and relevance instead. When it comes to citations, it’s important that your NAP is consistent across all websites and pages. If you have a phone number listed on your Yelp business listing page that differs from your listing on Yahoo! Local, that is not good.

The more consistent and error free your NAP, the more professional and authoritative you look in the eyes of the search engines. Additionally, the way your citations appear across the internet should match the NAP used on your local business’s website. And, if you are trying to get in Google’s good graces, you should make sure you have a Google+ page for your business, again with the same info.

 

 

Reviews

There is a reason why reviews are all the craze. Not only is it proven that consumers are more likely to patronize a business or use their products or services if they have reviews, but the search engines actually favor businesses that have reviews posted on sites like Google+, Yelp, and Facebook. Asking your customers to give you reviews on these sites will not only help your local SEO, but it shows your customers that you care about their feedback. Don’t be afraid to incentivize your customers either. Offer them a discount on their next purchase or service if they write a review for you!

Whatever you do, don’t get bogged down thinking about how you are going to take on these three factors. Local SEO may seem daunting, but any time you think about ranking on the search engines it is important to remember one thing – the search engines are trying to think like humans. When put that way, local SEO is really just a good result of professionally representing your brand online, explaining why people love you, and making sure everyone knows how to get a hold of you.


Drew Fortin is the VP of Marketing at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Local Business Listings.

Be Relevant to Google

Be Relevant to Google – The Rest Will Take Care of Itself

In an age of digital connectivity users want results, and they want results fast. Within this framework Google is playing an epic game of King of the Mountain, and no one is poised to knock them off that mountain anytime soon. While Google has their hands in a lot of cookie jars, their predominant core functionality still revolves around their ability to take a user supplied query and return the most relevant results in the blink of an eye. We’re going to dissect it in more detail, but the keyword that needs to be circled, italicized, bolded, highlighted above is ‘relevant’.

Be Relevant to GoogleFor a hyper local business owner that is already the accountant, HR, customer service rep, salesman, etc – it is critical that they add Google buff to that list to make sure they position themselves to be relevant for the users that are searching for their products or services. Yes, there are other search engines, but Google still holds a 72% search engine market share – so when time is tight you can find the most benefit, and highest ROI, by focusing your efforts on making sure you represent your business with the right content and on the right mediums to become relevant. Trying to understand the terminology used when discussing the algorithm Google uses for its search engine can cause many to have nightmarish flash backs to vocabulary prep courses for the SAT. So were going to keep it simple and look at the three things that a hyper local business needs to master to become, and stay, relevant.

Content is King

Forget all the high tech terms, forget all the web mumbo jumbo and remember this simple three worded statement:  CONTENT IS KING. If you truly embrace this you will put yourself in a position to succeed in the web space where so many hyper local businesses fail. There are hundreds of solutions out there to help hyper local businesses become relevant on the web, but they will all fail if they aren’t supported with engaging, concise, and consistent content. The days of keyword stuffing and link building are dead, but organic SEO is still very much alive, and by creating a site that focuses on the core services and products of your business then the more likely you will be returned in results when users are looking for your type of business or service. Take the time to really think about your business and how people talk about your business and give all of that great content to the builders who are creating and maintaining your web presence. If you want to really go next level on content then take a look at keeping an active blog on the site that speaks to consumer issues and wants to only enhance yourself as an authority within your business’s vertical.

Get Social

If you have amazing content on your site about your business it is more important than ever to make sure that you get involved in Social Media. For most hyper local businesses it is quintessential that you have at least one account set up with the big players –  Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn, preferably an account for all of them. By having your own account on these sites it gives you the ability to share the content of your site to a community of users that might not have come across it otherwise. It is also necessary that on your site you create the ability for users to be able to share your content when they want to across all of the aforementioned sites. If you provide high quality and industry/user specific content then people will naturally want to share your site, and this helps promote overall organic activity around your brand. When Google sees this type of activity around a brand name they will associate your brand with being an authority in the space and your site is that much more likely to be served in the search results for users to digest.

Mobile First

Many of today’s consumers are on the go and aren’t necessarily looking for businesses while they’re at home at night, but rather when they’re on their phone out and about. It is no longer efficient to build a site intended for desktop use and then retroactively work towards creating a mobile presence. In an age where time is the most valued commodity, a great way to make sure you have a site that is mobile optimized and still serves its purpose in a desktop environment, while minimizing upkeep time, is to make sure that you’re site is built in a responsive design. A responsive design is Google’s recommended configuration for a site build as in the most basic sense it just means you have one URL that uses the same code and changes it look to the consumer based on the screen size of the device they are using. More importantly having a single responsive site makes it easier than ever for the Google bots to read and index your site content, and when Google can read your site correctly you position yourself to succeed.

This is by no means the Holy Grail to solving the enigma, wrapped inside a mystery, that is the algorithm used to support Google’s search engine; however, it does give you some very rock solid first steps to position yourself ahead of your competition in a readily changing environment by just staying relevant.


Lynn Hughes, Product Manager at PowerSites®Lynn Hughes is the Product Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.
Tips on How To Write an Effective Coupon

How to Write an Effective Coupon

Having a coupon is a great way to enhance any marketing campaign, or rid yourself of excess inventory. While coupons are easy to write, there are a few common mistakes that are often made. Below are a few tips to help you avoid these mistakes and write a more effective coupon.

Title

Tips on How To Write an Effective CouponAn effective title for a coupon is short and to the point. Use the body of the coupon to give the details on what the customer is getting. Use the large bold font of the title as an opportunity to grab attention. Good words to use are “Free”, “X% Off” or “$X Off”, start out with telling the customer how much they’re going to save!

Body

Use the body of the coupon to explain what the offer is for. The best coupons just simply list out what the customer will get when they redeem this coupon. Don’t leave anything out, and don’t be vague. An example would be “Oil change includes x,y, and z premium oil extra”

Disclaimer

The disclaimer is the fine print that lists out anything that would void your coupon. One per customer, not valid with other offers etc. Try to keep this section as short as possible. A long disclaimer with a bunch of rules may turn off your customer and they may avoid using the coupon all together.

Expiration

The expiration date is one of the most overlooked part of a coupon. If you pick an expiration date that’s too long, customers are more likely to place them in a pile “for later” and then completely forget about them. However, if you use a short date like 7 days, there’s a sense of urgency to use the coupon as soon as possible, making it less likely that your coupon will be forgotten.

Coupon vs. Special Offer

This is not necessarily a tip, but a mistake I see often. Special offers disguised as coupons. While special offers are a great alternative to coupons, because they don’t have that sense of urgency, they’re not as effective at tracking a campaign. The two main difference between the two can be answered by these two questions. Does it expire? and Can anyone get this price? All coupons expire, and the only people that can get the coupon price is if they have the coupon, or at least know about it. If you’re offering an oil change for $35 anyone that walks into your store then “Get an oil change for $35” is not a coupon.

A strong coupon offer can help enhance any marketing campaign, so take your time and make sure you get the best results. Part of this is writing an effective coupon that draws your customers attention, and entices them to come to your store.


IMG_9375_600x600Michael Baaske is the Digital Product Coordinator at PowerSites®, and with over 7 years of experience in PrePress and print media, Michael has seen some good, and bad coupon offers. PowerSites® is an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success, that’s a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

Why small businesses need to be mobile savvy

It’s Not Too Late For Your Small Business To Be Mobile Savvy

Why small businesses need to be mobile savvyWe are in the midst of a digital revolution and one thing is clear, an era of mobile is upon us. While technology has taught us that nothing stays the same for long, it has become abundantly clear that mobile devices will impact the relationship between consumers and small businesses for a long time to come. First, it’s important to understand the current and future impact of mobile and then take steps to make sure that your business portfolio includes a strong mobile strategy.

3 Steps to Improve Your Mobile Presence:

1. Responsive Site Design

Creating your website is the most basic step you can take in the development of your online brand. It is critical that your site is capable of being digested by users on a variety of platforms including laptops, tablets and smartphone devices. As a small business owner we know you wear many hats on a day in and day out basis so instead of managing both a desktop and mobile version of your website look for a responsive site design to make sure your brand is presented appropriately all screen sizes and devices. By leveraging responsive technologies you can create a single website (lives on a single URL) that automatically adjusts itself to fit any screen size that a potential customer is using to view your content.

2. Social Media

With millions upon millions of users interacting with social media through their mobile devices it is essential that as a small business you leverage this digital marketing channel to further support your overall digital presence. There are so many different social media sites that it can be quite overwhelming for someone who isn’t necessarily tech savvy to leverage these services appropriately. However, if you focus on the big three; Facebook, Google+, and Twitter you will more than be able to cover your bases. So do some homework, create a page for your business on each of these sites, and get your company in front of a whole new group of customers who are on the go, ready to buy, and use their mobile devices to drive their purchasing behavior.

3. Local Business Directory Listings

No two mobile users will search for a product or service the exact same way. As a small business owner with a mobile strategy it becomes your responsibility to make sure that your brand is available for digestion through as many channels as possible. You can enhance your presence within local search by leveraging local business directory listing networks. The benefit here is two-fold by creating a consistent presence across sites like Yelp, Yahoo! Local, PennySaver, and FourSquare you increase your exposure for users searching for small businesses on these individual sites as well as improving your local search rankings for organic traffic on the major search engines.

The mobile space is readily evolving and will only continue to change, but as a small business if you can take these basic steps to start establishing an effective mobile business strategy and presence, you’ll be on the right path to making sure the move to mobile doesn’t pass you by.


Lynn Hughes, Product Manager at PowerSites®Lynn Hughes is the Product Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.
Local Marketing 101 - The Marketing Plan

Local Business Marketing 101 – The Marketing Plan

Marketing: (noun) The way companies interact with consumers to create relationships that are beneficial to both parties.

Advertising: (noun)  The act or practice of calling public attention to one’s product, service, need ,etc., especially by paid announcements in newspapers and magazines, over radio or television, or billboards, etc.

Branding: (verb) To mark with a branding iron


As a marketing manager I have helped mid to large sized companies put together marketing plans. In bigger organizations there are usually a number of people involved in the process and it can take a days or even weeks. Some companies even go as far as taking their teams offsite to develop the plan in order to keep them focused.  When it comes to creating a marketing plan for a local business, it isn’t much different other than there are probably less people involved but the questions you face and the components of the marketing plan are the same.

What is a Marketing Plan?

Local Marketing 101 - The Marketing PlanA marketing plan is the roadmap for all of your business’ marketing efforts. This is where you outline what channels you want to invest money in (i.e. online, social media, direct mail, TV, radio, etc.) and what it is you want to do via these channels. It also should encompass the message you want to deliver to your customers. The purpose of a marketing plan is to help schedule your campaigns and help keep the efforts on track. The marketing plan is a part of your overall business plan and should support those business goals. Marketing plans are typically set for a year. Outlined below are the main components of a marketing plan and some questions most marketers face when creating their plan.

Establish a Realistic Budget

To begin with, create a realistic budget. Your marketing budget should be part of the plan. If you want to increase your business by let’s say 50% but are only willing to spend a minimal amount on achieving that, the likelihood of accomplishing your goal is slim. Many business owners spend very little on marketing. Only about a quarter of business owners spend more than $500 per month on marketing leaving close to 75% of business owners spending less than $500 per month. Some spend nothing! This is according to Yodle’s First Annual Small Business Sentiment Survey. Of course, don’t spend more than you can afford but be smart about where you invest your marketing dollars. Figure out where you will get the most exposure and Return on Investment (ROI). The U.S. Small Business Association also suggests giving yourself some flexibility so that you can run an unplanned campaign when your business needs an extra boost or for when you’d like to test new offers.

Know Your Audience

Find out who your customers are and what they are interested in. This will give you better insight into what your message and value proposition should be to your customers. What is it that most of your customers respond to the best? Use that information to help you acquire new customers and retain current ones. Market research is also important in identifying segments that are important to your business. What types of customers do you want to attract? Research can be conducted via direct mail, surveys and personal interviews with customers.

Select the Right Marketing Channels for Your Business

Determine which channels work best for attracting your target market. The most common channels businesses utilize for marketing purposes are:

  • Direct Mail
  • Classified Ads
  • SEM (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Directory Listings
  • Website
  • Email
  • Mobile
  • Social Media
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Radio
  • TV

Depending on the type of business your running and budget you might use all of these or just a few. In deciding which channels to use, think about where you can get the most visibility by your target market. That is exposure and geography. So for example, if your target market is 18-24 year old females within a given zip code, you might consider using a combination of social media, mobile, SEM and your website.  Nowadays, it is imperative to have an online presence even if this is the only channel you use to brand and market your business. Having a website for your business not only adds credibility but it makes it easier for your customers to find you. Keep in mind that although Radio and TV will get you mass exposure, it is difficult to target your message to a specific segment of people and it is also difficult to track its impact on revenue. The key here is to optimize the mix of channels and offers you are using. Only testing will help you figure out that sweet spot.

As mentioned earlier; you also have to think about ROI (return on your investment). Measure the impact that your campaigns have had on your revenue and compare that to a time when you were either not running a campaign or running a different campaign. This will help you figure out which campaigns worked best for you. It is important to make campaign analysis and reporting part of your marketing plan. Without it you can’t tell what worked and didn’t work. When building out the plan, Consult with all of the business stakeholders. This can be business partners, employees or vendors. They might be able to share insight that you may not have which will help make your plan stronger.

Revisit Throughout The Year

Marketing plans are living, breathing documents. They are fluid and can change as your business and the market change. The plan should be revisited periodically throughout the year.  As you test and optimize your campaigns, you may decide that you’d rather invest in only some of the channels (or different channels altogether) that you initially started with. The key is to analyze your campaigns and see if they are paying off.


Iliana Angel, Marketing ManagerIliana Angel is the Marketing Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

How can SEM benefits your business

How Does Search Engine Marketing Benefit your Business

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a way to promote your products or services. The purpose of Marketing is to get the message of your brand, and offers delivered to as many people as possible that may be interested in what products or services you have to offer.

How Does SEM (Search Engine Marketing) play a role in this?

SEM allows you to market your product and offers through the Search Engines, like Google, Yahoo, and Bing for example. Search engine marketing is one of the most effective marketing techniques that allows us to drive qualified leads to your business. With SEM, we can provide a quick and effective way to be found on the search engines because we are able to bid on specific keywords related to your products and services. We can target people who are already interested in you, and with SEM we can provide exactly what they are searching for.

How can SEM Benefit your Business?

How can SEM benefits your businessWhen people search online for a product or service they are usually in a buying stage. We use SEM to target your product and services so that when someone searches for a specific product your ads will show in the search result listings. SEM allows us to literally place your business in front of the people looking for you and bringing these prospects to your websites and converting them into a customer.

  • Lead Generation: SEM will drive targeted traffic to your site 24/7. The Internet never sleeps. When your site has visibility on search engines, you are going to get targeted traffic every hour, of every day. Millions of searches are conducted every day as people look for websites, information, products and services. With search marketing, you can definitely get more targeted traffic to your website.
  • Cost Effective: When compared to other traditional advertising media, search marketing is definitely more cost effective. Search engine traffic is more targeted which makes it easier for you to convert prospects to customers. We are also able to measure your response with Google Analytics so that you know how effective your campaign is, and with SEM you can see results right away.
  • Brand Building: When your website has high visibility on search engines, you are showing your prospects that your business is an authority in your respective brand or industry. When searchers see your website often, they will remember your brand. Even if they do not need the product or service now, they will think of your brand first when they need it in the near future.
  • Stay Competitive: Do a Google Search with some keywords related to your business. You will see that most of your Competitors are already leveraging SEM, and are taking business away from you. Stay competitive in your industry with SEM.

Major search engines like Google account for more than 90% of all search engine traffic. SEM allows you to leverage your business in Google’s playground to get the maximum exposure to your business. Be seen in your industry with Search Engine Marketing. To find out how you can get started contact PowerClicks SEM today!

Article Source: EzineArticles.com


Rejane Thayer, Search Engine Marketing SpecialistRejane Thayer is the Search Engine Marketing Speicalist at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

Powersites-blog-Google+

Why Google+ is a Necessity for Your Small Business

Google+ is a necessity for your small business. In a digital era where it seems like a new social networking site is popping up every day, there’s no doubt that the social landscape can be a confusing one to navigate for a small business owner. Instead of trying to understand the impacts and benefits of each social option on your brand, take the time to learn one–Google+.

In its most basic form Google+ is a social networking site, but the power behind the platform makes it an invaluable tool that must be fully vetted – as it holds significant SEO/organic search value and integrates with the complete suite of Google products and services. Below, we will take a look at these and 2 other reasons as to why you shouldn’t wait any longer to make sure your business is on Google+.

SEO Benefits

There are numerous SEO benefits from using Google+ that can help a company’s SEO value. After you create a Google+ page people are able to ‘+1’ your page, which is very similar to the ‘like’ functionality of Facebook. In part of their SEO ranking algorithm Google factors in how many +1’s your page has in order to determine the popularity of your business compared to others. It is also of note that Google+ posts are almost immediately crawled and indexed, which just adds to the overall visibility you can obtain through being an active Google+ user. Other factors like Google Authorship and Google+ Local pages also can contribute to a company’s overall organic search visibility.

Integration Amongst A Full Suite Of Google Products

There is no mystery that Google owns quite an extensive product profile and it would only make sense that Google would spend the energy to make Google+ interact with these various platforms as efficiently and easily as possible. With existing integrations with Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Chrome, and Google Play it really makes Google+ the one stop shop to leverage all of these tools within a single social network.

Google+ Local

Google+ Local is Google’s answer to company Facebook pages, and provides more robust functionalities with integrated features like Google Maps, Zagat Reviews, and a thorough integration within Google+ to review how your circles interact with your business. Provide valuable information about your business for consumers to absorb and interact with, with the added benefit of having your Google+ Local page being indexed by the search engines. Finally, in order to show up on Google Maps for local search a business must have a Google+ Local page.

Relationship Development

Google+ provides their users with unique abilities to further engage with potential consumers and enhance their brand awareness by being actively involved. Communities, give business the ability to interact with individuals and other companies who share a particular interest. You can join, or even better, create your own group so that you can potentially become viewed as an authority within your chosen vertical. Events, give a business the ability to set up an event and distribute that information directly to a users/groups Gmail account and calendar if accepted. The more consumers a business is able to interact with the better possibility they have for those consumers to turn into customers.

These are just a few of the benefits a business stands to gain if they leverage Google+ appropriately, and illustrates why it deserves the attention of all local business owners as they trying to navigate the extensive waters of social media. If you have more questions about the benefits of Google+ or how PowerSites® can help you with your presence on Google+ please contact us today!


Lynn Hughes, Product Manager at PowerSites®Lynn Hughes is the Product Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

Work Smarter, Not Harder: iOS Apps for Small Businesses

When you own a small business, it’s your baby. You want to handle everything down to the last detail, even if you end up curled up in a corner when the lack of a work-life balance comes crashing down on you. Delegating tasks to employees is a good first step toward confronting this issue, which affects many small business owners. Putting your technology to work for you helps with the rest. These iOS apps allow you to work smarter and not harder, so you don’t have to keep looking over your employee’s shoulders, and actually manage to relax.

Dropbox

Cloud storage is widely used by many companies, and for good reason. The ability to upload all of your needed files to an account that you can access from anywhere, and sync across your devices, means time saved. running back to the office because you forgot to grab the sales projections for your investors is suddenly not an issue. Dropbox is a household name for personal and business cloud storage, and its business features give you powerful file sharing and collaboration tools that are safe and secure.

Quickbooks 2013

Book keeping and accounting isn’t the most glamorous task, but until you can afford an accountant on staff, you’re stuck doing it yourself. Make this process slightly less painful by using the Quickbooks 2013 app. According to the Apple Store, it allows you to create invoices, check out your profit and loss on the go, create estimates, and analyze your profit and loss.

Evernote

When you don’t need a full blown collaboration tool, but you do want to sync notes filled with business information, meeting minutes, and ideas to your team, Evernote works perfectly for this application. This powerful app gives you the ability to share your notes with your team, adding in files and media for supporting documents.

Go to My PC

Are you separated from your computer when you travel for business, have vendor meetings, and are otherwise out of the office? Instead of stressing because of the lack of access to your main computer, use a remote desktop connection app such as Go To My PC. Despite the name, it also works perfectly well on Macs if you use Apple for more than your mobile products. You connect directly to your computer and can access it as though you were right in front of it. The connection is secure so your data is kept safe.

American Express Receipt Match App

American Express is known for the best small business credit cards from AMEX, and they have an app that makes it even more appealing as a prospect. The American Express Receipt Match App works as a typical receipt scanning app to start with. Once you or your employees enter in their receipt information, however, the app searches for matching transactions from your credit card statement. That way you don’t have to wonder which card it ended up on, and you have a full accounting of all of your receipts. This makes claiming expenses and deductions that much simpler at the end of the tax year.

How to Utilize Pinterest and LinkedIn Alongside Facebook and Twitter

Social NetworksFacebook and Twitter may be the best-known social media sites, but they’re not the only ones that can benefit small businesses. Among English-speaking social sites, LinkedIn sits at the number five spot, trailing behind Twitter, Trendstream’s GlobalWebIndex reports. Meanwhile, Pinterest ranks number seven. Both sites are growing quickly, with LinkedIn growing at 30 percent, and Pinterest at 20 percent, Jeff Bullas reports. For small businesses seeking cost-effective marketing methods, both these platforms represent untapped opportunities.

Pinterest

Socialbakers has found Facebook posts with photos generate more “Like”s, comments, and shares than any other type of post, constituting 93 percent of the most interactive posts. Pinterest leverages this visual appeal by enabling users to upload images and other media content as “Pins” and organize them on “boards” where others can see them.

Pins create a way to visually build your brand. You can pin images associated with your company logo. You can also post graphics that position your expertise or support your sales theme, such as quotes or infographics with statistics.

Pinterest can help generate leads. Your Pins can attract followers from within Pinterest. You can also link your Pinterest account to other sites to attract followers from there.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn boasts 200 million users, including 74 million from the United States, according to its site. It provides the business-oriented equivalent of Facebook, which can boost your brand in several ways.

Customizing your URL will distinguish your page from competitors and from others with similar names. Ideally, choose a URL consistent with a domain name representing your brand. Use a service such as WebHostingBlueBook.com to locate a good URL domain name.

Your profile’s headline field lets you describe what makes you and your products or services unique. Other fields establish credibility by citing your professional credentials and displaying references.

LinkedIn also provides promotional opportunities. You can network with other professionals in your field or your target market by using the site’s private messaging and groups features. Participating in group discussions and sharing content gives you a way to establish your expertise and build business relationships.

The above methods can also serve to drive traffic to your other social media platforms. For instance, you can include links in your profile. You can also share content of interest to groups you participate in, where appropriate.

Integrating Your Social Toolkit

Pinterest and LinkedIn work best when used in conjunction with your other social media tools as part of a single toolkit, rather than viewing them in competition with Facebook and Twitter. You can integrate your Pinterest account with your Facebook and Twitter accounts for cross-platform sharing. Likewise, you can use your LinkedIn profile to link to your Facebook or Twitter pages, and vice versa. You can also share content from these social media hubs with your LinkedIn networks.

You will get the most leverage out of using these social media tools if you track your results. Sprout Social provides one way to do this by integrating management of your LinkedIn page with your Facebook and Twitter activity and providing you with analytic feedback on the results of your campaigns.

Prevent a Dying Blog With These 6 Tips

Prevent a Dying Blog With These 6 Tips

Prevent a Dying Blog With These 6 TipsYou have a blog? Join the club. You’re competing with millions of Web content pages and other blogs for a reader’s valuable time, attention and page view. There are 59 million WordPress sites alone. More than 51 new websites launch each year, notes website monitoring company Pingdom. Ensure that your blog is a one-of-a-kind online destination with these marketing tips, and make sure you do the following:

1. Lists, Info Graphics, Images, & Blurbs

According to the Nielson Norman Group, a market research firm, only 16 percent of readers follow a blog post word for word. Nearly everyone scans the content to find the most relevant, interesting or entertaining information as quickly as possible. Build readers’ trust and keep posts brief. Include plenty of visual support, such as images, bullets, numbered lists, and informational graphics to drive your point home.

2. Blog Post Email Promotion

Neil Patel, founder of online analytics and marketing companies Kissmetrics and Quicksprout, says email messages drive 14 percent of traffic to a website or blog. Building email campaigns with a responsive design ensures messages can be read on any device. Keep the formatting short and simple. Nearly half of all email messages are read with mobile devices, according to email marketing company Yesmail Interactive.

3. Community Building & Social Media

Building a community and loyal following around blogging content helps maintain, and even drive, traffic. Readers invested in your content will re-share posts on Facebook, for example, that they see as worth promoting. For word-of-mouth blog marketing, make sure that you:

  • Post original, unique blog articles that speak directly to the reader
  • Post a blog link on all social media channels to announce a new post
  • Respond to social media comments and engage in active dialogue
  • Post updates on promotions, sales and events

You may attract a number of unique visitors, but the following pointers will retain them.

  • Host contests and giveaways on social media to engage visitors
  • Capture email addresses with free offers
  • Survey a reader after a blog view

4. Topics & Posting Schedule

If you can generate enough topics to keep your content fresh and your readers engaged, write as often as you can. Aim to post at least one piece of original content per week to stay relevant to both your readers and search engines.

Avoid space filler copy, and always write with a genuine interest in the topic. Enthusiasm will naturally be conveyed with your words and tone — a few lackluster articles can cause readers to hit the unsubscribe button.

Be sure to create a content calendar that’s topically fluid, rather than sharing random ideas and stories. Be open to inspiration and develop a high-level plan that keeps your blogging on target.

5. Mobile

According to an email marketing survey by Constant Contact, 44 percent of Americans own a mobile device, and 43 percent of those users open an email message on a smartphone or tablet. Promote featured blog posts and sweepstakes through email blasts that can be easily read on mobile devices. You’ll also want to go mobile from the business side. Acquire a guaranteed wireless connection with a portable Wi-Fi system from a website such as www.wirelessinternet.net. The capability to post remotely helps you meet your blogging goals in a timely manner.

6. Expert Citations

To obtain authority and credibility, cite evidence that supports a specialized topic if you are not an established expert in the field. Not yet a seasoned expert? Write with veracity and conviction or let your personality shine through with words to express a point or entertain.