Category Archives: SEO

Step by step: Make SEO, Content, Social Media & Email Work Together for You

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puzzle with hand pushing in last piece of digital marketing puzzle We’ve met more than a few business owners who look at digital marketing tools as aliens from foreign planets.  What’s even more common is for them to look at each of these “UFOs” as all from a separate planet (or galaxy!), without putting all the pieces together and recognizing the potential of well-coordinated online marketing plan.

We’ve written about the ‘what’ of these online marketing tools: search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing, and how they are a must of any business marketing plan. Now we’re going to give you a general idea of how you can make them work together as an integrated marketing plan (think of it as a coordinated universe if we want to stick with space analogy), saving you time and effort in the process—and increasing your business bottom line, if executed correctly.

Start with a solid foundation: your website

What good is a stellar email marketing campaign if you don’t have solid website pages to send your audience back to?  What kind of sales numbers are you going to achieve if you entertain your audience on social media, but don’t have any more business info to give them?  Start with a well-built website (or hire experts to do it for you) with all the ‘must haves:’ optimized information about all your products or services, your business, and a way for people to reach you.  Optimize the content on your pages for search engines and your audience (use these tips), and use SEO to attract local customers searching for products and services pertinent to your business (see how this is all starting to come together?).   

Use your sales cycle to plan

Your efforts to market your website should follow your sales cycle.  For example, if you are a caterer, look back at your sales for the past year to dictate your marketing plan for next year.  Your sales team or customer service representatives would be an excellent source for this information; after all, they are interacting with your potential and existing customers on a regular basis.  An example would look like:

December-March Booking weddings (because of high engagement rate)

April-June Booking company picnics

July-August Booking weddings

September-November Booking holiday parties

This calendar is very simplified, but you can see how your sales cycle would drive your online marketing calendar.  Based on this basic example, the content you produce would match what your sales team is seeing from customers so your entire team can use the materials you produce to reach your targeted audience.

Use strategy to dictate content creation

Remember just because you’re following your sales calendar doesn’t mean you need to produce content that is entirely about selling your business.  You are trying to provide value to your customer, and you’re not going to attract new customers if you’re screaming “buy, buy, buy!” in their face.  It’s the wrong first impression.

What you should do is compile a list of subjects related to your calendar.  These subjects can stem from customers’ frequently asked questions or topics that your sales team feels would entertain your customers and draw potential customers (more ideas for content topics here).  If you outsource your content creation, make sure you connect with your marketing team on a regular basis.  Make sure you integrate big events into your calendar as well, such as a trade show or open house.  Use video, quality images, and other media as part of your plan—remember not everyone is driven to text alone.  Make sure you post content to a blog (this is a very common and effective content marketing tool, more info here) on a regular basis (this is very important), both to keep your audience’s and search engine’s attention (search engine optimization).

Don’t forget that your content is being produced to convert your customers; include links back to your website, search-optimized pages, and social media channels so your customers have an easy way to buy and ask questions.

Draft a strategic distribution plan (and stick to it)

Businessman sitting at table and screaming in megaphone on laptop while content marketingQuality content without a distribution plan is like a really good secret no one hears.  Add another dimension to your content calendar with ways you are going to share your content, such as social media and email marketing.  When adding this layer to your online marketing, keep the word ‘manageable’ in mind.  A good distribution plan is no good if you can’t execute it.  Remember, you don’t have to be on every social media channel out there, only the social media sites that fit your audience (we found a useful information on social media channels and demographics here).

Share your content as much as possible and make your content shareable so your customers can share it.  Make sure your sales team pushes it out as well.  Ask them to share it on their professional social media channels (if applicable) and via email.  Start building an email list of customers and potential customers, with the customers’ permission.  Use your content in emails, and drive the customer back to your blog, website, and social media channels so they have a variety of ways to contact you and buy your product or get a quote.

In addition to sharing content, don’t be afraid to share interesting articles and videos, notices with upcoming events (i.e. grand openings, trade shows, open houses, etc.), faces of your business, and interesting things you see on the job.  Keep everything you share somewhat professional; you don’t want to give your business a black eye by making one of these social media marketing mistakes.

How to make it ALL work for you

We wish we could give you a hard-and-fast plan with every online marketing tool integrated into an effective plan for your business (and we haven’t even touched out to add traditional marketing to the mix), but the truth is that every business and industry is different.  Plan accordingly, and be flexible.  Test out what works and doesn’t work, and outsource to the experts if you feel overwhelmed by “space age” online marketing.

7 of Our Top Tips for Companies New to Online Marketing

Online Marketing Pyramid Has Blogs Websites Social Media And Email ListsYou’ve heard all the online marketing buzz terms: social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing…and you’re ready to jump on board. You’ve heard about the results that other companies are getting using the internet and you’re ready to start using all the online marketing tools to market your company.

But are you really ready?

The world of internet marketing is not as intimidating as it seems, but it is an unknown that won’t yield results if you blindly jump in. On top of that, it’s also always evolving and changing as technology advances. So where do you start? We’ve compiled a list of some of the top tips we’d give to anyone ready to start using these valuable tools—in fact, we’ve given them to our own rookie clients.

Know what you want to achieve.

Don’t jump into online marketing without a goal. Your goals could include increase website traffic, online conversions, customer engagement…your goal is specific to your business. Once you’ve set your goals, create a calendar that matches your promotions and audience.

Target your efforts.

Online marketing is all about starting a conversation with your audience. Know who you’re talking to, and how they want you to talk with them. Select a voice that fits the demographic of your audience and your industry, and use that voice in all of your materials. Next, choose the online channels where your audience converses so you don’t waste your time throwing a million proverbial darts without hitting very much of the target.

Don’t treat online customer service different than in-person service.

If someone comes into your store, or calls you on the phone, you answer their questions promptly and courteously. Treat the service you deliver from your website and social media the same way, and follow these six rules for delivering excellent customer service.

PLEASE integrate all your marketing.

Online marketing may be the big unknown, but it’s not a stand-alone effort. Treat your online marketing efforts like you (hopefully) are treating all your mail and radio ads: integrated with one consistent voice. For example, if you are putting together an ad for the local papers, post those same deals on social media. Don’t worry about your audience getting the information too much; today’s customers receive their information from different channels. Your job is to be on all those channels with coordinated information and one clear, consistent voice for optimal brand awareness.

You have to commit to online marketing, and stick to it.

Online marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Once you jump into online marketing, expect to allocate time to writing quality content, scheduling strategic social media posts, answering messages, and locating high impact images. Online marketing results occur from regular work, so don’t give up. If you don’t have time to keep up, outsource your efforts and give the company the necessary information they need to market your business.

Don’t use social media and content marketing as another advertising space.

You don’t get results in online marketing like you do in advertising. Internet marketing is more subtle. You’re trying to build trust, and you’re not going to get that by screaming at them. Instead, entertain them (if appropriate). Build a relationship with them. Give them information. Answer the questions they ask on the phone and in person. Provide customer service.

You don’t have to do it all.

There’s no shame or blame in handing your online marketing efforts over to the professionals. Contact a company that can supplement or manage all your online marketing efforts. Use our do’s and don’ts of outsourcing to get the most out of your marketing company—and to achieve the online marketing results you’re always hearing about.

6 of Our Favorite Tips for Optimizing Your Website

SEO Optimize Keywords Links Signpost Showing Website Marketing OptimizationIt’s never too late to turn your efforts to website optimization. With the number of mobile searches now bypassing desktop searches and 95% of smartphone users reporting that they have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT), every day is the time to seize the day and get your website up to search engine standards.  The good news is that optimizing your website isn’t that complicated if you know what you’re doing—and have the time to devote to your website optimization.

Write for your audience.

We feel like broken records with this tip, but there’s a reason why ‘knowing your audience’ is the number one rule of marketing. Knowing your audience is key to success when planning social media posts, delving into email marketing, planning a brochure, and creating optimized content for your audience.

Once you know who you are audience is, write for them. Use a brand voice appropriate for your audience, and select topics and key words they would use in their online searches. For example, if you run a pet store, you might write a blog post focused around the right dog food for their pet. As you write, think about your audience and what they would want to know. Include keywords and topics relevant to their query in your quality content.

Don’t focus entirely on search engines.

You’re trying to get to the top of Google, Yahoo, and Bing, so your efforts should be focused on optimization entirely for the search engines, right? That’s what many a business owner thinks, then wonders why their conversion rates are not increasing. If you want customers to visit your site, and buy from you, write your content for them—not just for the search engines. For example, while you should use keywords in your content for optimal results (here’s a great article on how to choose your keywords), writing an article stuffed full of the same keywords turns readers off and kills your chance to convert.

It’s never too early to think about site structure (and mobile users).

The structure of your website is an integral part of search engine optimization, so plan ahead. Start thinking about optimal site structure when building a new website, or find a company that does. Some of the items on your checklist should be: optimized URLs, pages that are easily shareable, relevant content, strong images and video, excellent title tags, mobile-friendly features. You read that last item right; use of mobile devices is not going away, and it is not going to decrease. Plan accordingly.

Don’t stop optimizing.

Once you’ve built an optimized website, don’t let your efforts end there. Websites with regular, high quality, updated content get better results with the search engines. What does that mean for your business? You need to deliver customer-focused, optimized content that speaks to your audience and contains excellent images and videos. If you don’t think you have the time or knowledge to deliver, contact an online marketing company that can create optimized content on a regular basis (called content marketing). Once you’ve contracted with the company, do them (and yourself) a favor: stay involved. Schedule regular contacts with the company so you can give them topics relevant to your company and feedback or questions that you hear from your customers during daily business operations.

Embrace SEO technology.

One of the most common misnomers we hear is that businesses only need optimized writing to get to the top of search engines. We wish it was true (how easy would that be?), but unfortunately it’s not. Getting to the top of search engine rankings is dependent on the structure of your site, updated content, optimized writing, and utilizing the right search engine strategy. For companies targeting customers across the United States, the right SEO plan is a national SEO strategy without any local focus. If your business is a brick-and-mortar location focused on growing a local customer base, contact a company focused on localized SEO. Localized SEO technology targets customers in your preferred areas, earning your company the top spot for customers searching for a local business that can solve their problem.

Be flexible.

Today’s SEO is not your grandma’s game of stuffing a page full of the same keyword. In fact, those kind of old-school SEO tactics, and black hat SEO tactics, can get your website penalized and kick your company off the digital map. Like most online marketing tools, SEO is a freight train running down the tracks. As search engines implement updates to improve user experience, be ready to adapt your marketing efforts and adopt best-use practices to get to the top of search engine results.

Of course, if you find you don’t have time (or the expertise) to use all these tips, you can always outsource your online marketing. You’ll get optimal results…without having to understand all the website optimization techniques, and without having to stay up to date on the latest updates in search engine optimization.

Don’t Listen to these Bad SEO Tips

search engine optimizationThe world of digital marketing is fraught with misconceptions and bad advice. We’ve found this to be true in almost every part of digital marketing; if we had a penny for every bad piece of social media marketing advice we’ve heard, we’d be buried in pennies. That penny pile would have nothing on search engine optimization, which is full of junk ideas and misunderstandings. The pile of pennies of SEO misconceptions would reach to the sky; that’s why we’ve tackled some of the worst SEO tips we’ve heard, and the truth behind them:

“SEO is dead.”

We’re getting really, really tired of this. SEO is not dead, it’s just changing. The days of keyword stuffing and buying links are gone, and has been replaced by SEO tactics centered around technical aspects and optimized content that gives your users, and the search engines, what they want the way they want it.

These new SEO tactics achieve results; we’ve seen a local flooring company increase their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. The flooring company receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package.

“SEO is not technical; it’s just about writing optimized content.”

Don’t ignore this piece of advice, but put it into context. Optimized content, text written for optimal results on search engines, gives your business website a digital marketing advantage. However, technical SEO pushes that advantage over the edge and positions your website well on search engine results pages (SERPs). To maximize that investment, invest in an ongoing content marketing strategy, which produces fresh content relevant to your industry and your audience. Content marketing provides updated content to your customers and your search engines on a continual basis.

“Buying links gets you to the top of the search rankings.”

Buying links also gets you penalized by Google. It’s a black hat SEO tactic that you should never listen to. If you produce excellent content through content marketing, or have excellent content produced for you, you’ll earn those links without penalties.

“You don’t need SEO if you don’t sell products online.”

Completely false. Think back to the last time you were looking for a plumber, or a dentist, or carpeting. You went online and typed in “local plumbers,” right? Just because your company doesn’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, doesn’t mean that you don’t need SEO. Statistics don’t lie: 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore), and a startling 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011). Making an affordable investment SEO technology means your company is on the list next time one of your local potential customers types in keywords that pertain to your business.

“SEO only works for national companies.”

No, no, and no! We’ve helped businesses of all shapes and sizes achieve local results—online exposure in front of potential customers in surrounding communities—with our search engine optimization technology. Local search engine optimization technology can get you in front of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20 or 50 mile radius. With more than 90% of users turning to search engines for information, local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using topics and keywords your audience searches for.

“One SEO firm is as good as the next.”

No. Like any other industry, you have to weed out the good from the bad. Be wary of outlandish promises and guarantees. Ask for references and testimonials of past successes; steer clear of firms that use black-hat SEO practices, such as keyword stuffing and buying backlinks. Ask your SEO firm to see their technology; a demo can give you the full picture of what you’re in for, and the SEO results you’ll achieve.

4 Sure-Fire Ways to Sabotage Your SEO Results

search engine optimization technologyAre you trying to drive more traffic to your website? Have you taken the words ‘optimized website’ to heart? Are you getting results? If not, it may be because you’re unintentionally sabotaging your own results. You’re not alone. The internet is full of websites that don’t reach their search engine optimization goals because they lose focus in four common areas.

Not thinking about your audience

When you’re trying to rank for the search engines, it’s tempting to focus solely on search engines. How can you make Google happy? What does Bing want that gets you to the top? Remember, search engines want to deliver user-focused content to search engine users. So focus on your customers. (Do you know who they are? If not, that should be your first step.) What are their pain points? Common questions they ask? Information they search for? Remember, what they are searching for is not just about your products, it’s answers to their questions, so don’t get too focused on you and your products either. Think of the process as a pizza restaurant with delivery. If you produce the delicious pizza (information) your customers want, then the delivery boy—search engines—becomes busy delivering your product to customers.

Being too worried about keywords

The days of keyword stuffing are over. In the ‘good ole days,’ your website’s ranking used to revolve around how many times you could put a keyword on one page. Google was looking for keyword density, and many companies responded with website pages full of a keyword and no valuable content for the customer.

That was then, this is now. Today’s search engines are looking for valuable content, and thin content stuffed with a keyword doesn’t cut it. In fact, keyword stuffing can get you penalized and destroy your search engine rankings. That doesn’t mean that keywords don’t count when trying to achieve SEO results; we’ll tell you how important they are, and how they are important in achieving results for our clients. What it does mean is that it’s up to you to deliver valuable content to your customers with keywords and relevant topics that your customers are looking for. To put it simply (and very generally): make your customers happy, make the search engines happy, get better ranking results. If you don’t think you have the expertise to craft that content, and create the perfect balance, contact experts in SEO writing that can. It’s a small investment that can pay big in the rankings.

Thinking you can do it all yourself

Optimizing your website with valuable content is half the equation (both when writing content for your new website and content marketing); technology is the other half. Local search engine optimization technology can get you in front of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20 or 50 mile radius. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, you need to integrate search engine optimization into your marketing strategy because local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using terms and the professional content your customers are searching for.

Not being selective about your SEO provider

A quality SEO technology firm can convert online users into customers, and get your business website at the top of search engine rankings in local markets. A sub-par SEO firm delivers promises that they can’t back up with testimonials or valuable metrics and statistics. For example: one of our clients, a flooring company, saw their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. The flooring company receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package.

Shy away from companies that promise #1 rankings for almost no money; ask the company for testimonials and about the SEO tactics they use. You don’t want to get sucked into a gimmick with no results, or a company that uses SEO tactics that could get you penalized by search engines (i.e. buying backlinks, keyword stuffing, etc.) If you have any other questions about local SEO or want to see it in action, ask us. Breaking down the basics of SEO, and helping make sure that website optimization is working for you—and not against you—is what we do.

5 Reasons You Can’t Afford to Ignore Local SEO

local seoYou’ve heard the joke “Where do you bury a dead body?” “On the second page of search results.” Now that you’re done laughing, we’re here to tell you it’s true. If you’re a number cruncher, we’ve given you statistics that back up the joke; if the numbers aren’t enough to convince you, we’ve got other numbers for you to consider: revenue received from the increase in website traffic from search engine optimization. In this post, we’re going to give you the missing piece of the puzzle: the five reasons that SEO generates increased website traffic and extra business revenue.

In the past, you knew where your website stood in search engine rankings. Not anymore. Today’s search engine results are focused on user experience, with the goal of giving users customized results based on their preferences and location. Getting your website to the top of those users’ search engine results is a challenge, and an ever-evolving one, but a worthy investment of time and effort that gets results for five key reasons:

  1. Local SEO technology gets you in front of local customers. Yes, we’re stating the obvious. Local search engine optimization technology can get you in front of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20 or 50 mile radius. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, you need to integrate search engine optimization into your marketing strategy because that’s where people are looking for products, services and information—-a lot of people. With more than 90% of users turning to search engines for information, local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for.
  2. A beautiful and functional website is not enough. “There,” you think, “I’ve invested in this website. Customers come and find me!” Unfortunately that’s not how it works. Customers have a lot of online options, and studies have shown that they make more than 60% of their purchasing decision online. So how do you get your new website found? Contact a reputable company that can achieve results with search engine optimization, updated content and social media marketing. Together, these three digital marketing tools get your website found by local customers—and keep you there.
  3. Search engines are replacing phone books. Statistics are proof of an trend: 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore) and a startling 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011). More and more, American consumers are looking to the internet to find local solutions and information. If you’re not online, you’re not on their radar.
  4. Your competitors are using it. We’ll be honest; we don’t know if your specific competitors are using SEO. However, we do know that thousands of businesses are utilizing digital marketing tools including search engine optimization, social media marketing and content marketing as part of their marketing strategy—and getting results.
  5. It works. Paid search engine optimization technology is one of the most effective online marketing tools for businesses. One of our clients, a local print company, was positioned at the top of search engines just a week after utilizing our SEO technology. Their results were localized, with their company showing up in cities and towns search results within 30 miles of their location including a major metropolitan area. They also invested in content marketing to keep their site content updated and give their customers value, yielding long-term results; their printing firm has remained at the top of the major search engines—Google, Yahoo and Bing—since launch. Better search engine results have meant more digital exposure for their business, and stronger opportunity for online conversions. Another one of our clients, a flooring company, saw their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. The flooring company receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package. If you want to tap into that same local search engine technology to get results for your company, read our blog post about SEO terminology or see it in action.

5 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About SEO

search engine optimizationWe recently saw a graphic that pointed out that what you often view as basic or common knowledge, others see as advanced—and often you don’t even realize it. It made us realize: they’re RIGHT. We have found that saying to especially apply to search engine optimization (SEO), an online technology many don’t understand, and is dogged by SEO lies and misunderstandings. Perhaps because of the latter, there seems to be a lot of basic things that people don’t understand (even beyond the terminology and acronyms). So, without further adieu, here are our answers to some of the things people don’t know about SEO (or at least get you started):

  1. SEO requires research. If you want to get max results from a SEO program, you have to know things—or find them out. The first, and most important, piece of information is identifying your audience. Who are your customers, and potential customers? What do they want to know? What problems do they have? If you want to know if a SEO firm is genuine, ask them about their keyword research. Legitimate firms do an extensive amount of research to get the best results for their clients.
  2. You don’t have to put a lot of effort into SEO. SEO can be intimidating and overwhelming. There’s so much to know, and the list seems to keep getting longer: website structure, content optimization, graphic alt text descriptions…you get the idea. While optimizing a website takes a lot of effort, you don’t have to be the one to put in the effort—or to keep up with the latest evolutions in SEO. The answer: outsource to a company that can. There’s nothing wrong with trusting another company with your SEO program, social media or content marketing. To be clear: that doesn’t mean you won’t have to do ANYTHING. Your SEO firm needs your input to create and manage an online marketing presence in line with your business goals.
  3. Even if you don’t sell products online, you still need local SEO. Local search engine optimization technology can get you in front of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20 or 50 mile radius. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, you need to integrate search engine optimization into your marketing strategy to drive potential customers to your brick-and-mortar location. With more than 90% of users turning to search engines for information, local SEO technology (like KD Interactive’s) can get your business website in local potential customers’ organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for. Statistics don’t lie: 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore), and a startling 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011).
  4. SEO is always, ALWAYS evolving. Today’s SEO is not your grandma’s game of stuffing a page full of the same keyword. In fact, those kind of old-school SEO tactics, and black hat SEO tactics, can get your website penalized and kick your company off the digital map. Like most online marketing tools, SEO is a freight train running down the tracks. If you’re tired of trying to keep up, find a company that does.
  5. SEO is an integral part of your online marketing strategy. One of our clients, a flooring company, saw their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. The flooring company receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package. Fact is: local SEO works. If you have any other questions or want to see it in action, ask us. Breaking down the basics of SEO, and making it work for you, is our job—and it’s one we don’t take lightly.

How to Increase Local Sales with Digital Marketing

using digital marketing to close local salesJust because your company doesn’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, doesn’t mean that you don’t need digital marketing. Statistics don’t lie: 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore), and a startling 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011). So how do you use digital marketing to your business’ advantage?

  1. Get your primary audience’s attention. There are a number of ways to accomplish the goal, but the first step in the process is to follow the first rule of marketing: know your audience. Who do you sell to? Who is looking for your product? Once you have that key piece of information, invest your marketing budget and efforts into digital marketing tools that work (and marketing experts recommend): search engine optimization, content marketing and social media marketing. Contact a company that specializes in local search engine optimization (SEO) and can use their technology to get you in the top search engine rankings on Google, Yahoo and Bing in surrounding areas. They can create information that your audience wants and use their knowledge of conversion rates to turn them into customers. In addition, they can find social media platforms where your audience is at and create content for your website that they want to click on. The result: a multi-channel digital marketing strategy designed to get your audience’s attention, build trust and convert them to customers (and is far more affordable than you would think!).
  2. Create great headlines. All great website and content marketing headlines have a commonality: they speak to your audience. Whether that is through an attention-grabbing headline (e.g. 5 things you’re doing wrong) or a title that speaks to their pain point or entertains them. Common examples of good headlines include:
    • Questions (How can I fix this?)
    • List (5 Ways to fix your problem)
    • Shocking (5 Horrible Mistakes You’re Making Fixing Your Problem)
    • What’s not a good headline? A title that tricks the user and doesn’t deliver. Don’t produce a headline to get their attention, or uses all the key words that your audience is looking for, and doesn’t deliver any value. Remember, the best way to sell to a customer is to build their trust. Misleading them has the opposite effect.
  1. Use different media and visuals. Don’t use a one-size-fits-all mentality when planning and selecting visuals for your digital marketing efforts. Create videos and graphics for every different preference, or purchase them. Use them on your social media channels, on your website and in your content marketing channels for maximum impact.
  2. Craft a strong call-to-action (CTA). The definition of a CTA is not always about a purchase. A call-to-action can be a graphic, asking your audience to contact you with questions (remember you want to build trust) or inviting their input (about a product, a funny picture, anything). Whether writing a draft for new page on your website or writing a post for your blog, don’t forget to include a CTA.
  3. Keep testing. A website is not a static animal to be published and left for 5-10 years. Rather, evolve your website, social media, content marketing and digital sales tactics to fit your customers’ needs (remember they come first) and improve their buying experience. That’s what so great about online marketing: it changes and morphs with the world (think about the impact of mobile devices on digital marketing). Your job, as a B2C or B2B company—remember it’s all about marketing to humans!—is to grow with it.

If you don’t have the time, or resources internally, to take on these digital marketing channels, outsource. We’ve said it before: there’s not shame or blame in outsourcing. Rather, it allows you to focus your efforts on what you’re good at (like running your company) and puts your digital marketing efforts into the experts’ hands. Experts who have the expertise and knowledge of evolving digital marketing trends and can convert them into local sales. It’s a partnership with great results, and a great return on your investment.

Content Marketing 101: “What the heck is a blog?”

content marketing for businessAn integral part of our business is not just digital marketing execution but education. Our clients are experts in their chosen industry, but don’t always know the specifics of search engine optimization, social media and content marketing. We hear a lot of questions like, “What the heck is a blog?” “Why should I be on social media?” and “What does SEO do?” One of the key digital marketing efforts that we’ve seen work for our clients’ business is content marketing through a business blog—even though it’s also one of the most misunderstood. If you don’t know what a business blog is, or why you should care, let’s start at the most basic question and walk you through the process of incorporating a business blog into your digital marketing plan.

“What the heck is a blog?”

Let’s start with one of the most common content marketing questions, usually asked in many different forms (this is our favorite). A blog is a website filled with content, such as written articles, videos, photos, podcasts, infographics—the possibilities are endless. The goal of a blog is two-fold:

  • To give your audience what they want. Remember, the #1 rule of marketing is to know your audience. If you are a sports retailer, your audience is going to be different than the audience that follows a spa or wedding venue. The common phrase is to find out what your audience wants to know and give it to them. How do you figure that out? Ask them. Listen to them on your social media sites. In a way, you’re using a business blog to provide customer service.
  • Build trust. If you give your customers and potential customers what they want: entertainment, answers to their questions, knowledge, you can earn their trust. In the old days, this trust was earned over the phone or in person. Now, customers are using search engines to find information. They’re cruising the web because it’s convenient and easy to find what they need, both in information, services and products. Or they’re clicking on links they receive in their email. A business blog gives them the information they’re looking for on the internet, and gives them links to find more out about products or to contact a business. A second part of this goal is that regular content builds trust with a tool that more than 90% of online users turn to for information: search engines. Top search engines gauge your website’s validity and the strength of your pages based on the content of your website pages. By posting regular blog posts, you are showing search engines that your content is updated, quality and relevant—three criteria they use to rank websites for search engine users.

“What do I write about in a business blog?”

This is the million dollar question because it seems at some point, all bloggers search for inspiration for blog content. We’ve already made a few suggestions, but here’s a list to get you started:

  1. Answers to readers’ questions
  2. Content related to a trend in your industry
  3. Entertainment/fun post
  4. A list of your favorite somethings (New Year’s resolutions, tips, etc.)
  5. Frequently asked questions
  6. Content that shows you care
  7. Story about your business

The sky’s the limit for topics, but use these two R’s in the content you produce. Don’t forget to include visuals as your content, or part of your content, and a call to action.

“What is a call to action?”

A call to action, or CTA, is an element on a web page that asks the reader to do something: to contact a business, download a document, etc. One of the most important elements of a business blog is a call to action, whether that is a part of the blog post, a button, ad, part of a video…your options are endless. When adding a call to action to your business blog, remember that the average reader doesn’t want to get a concussion from your aggressive selling. Remember, the goal of a business blog is to give your audience what they want and build trust, which can best be achieved with advice, tips, entertainment and a few calls to action. Readers don’t want to land on a page with a great title and just selling—and no quality content.

“Do I just add content to my business blog…and let it sit?”

No, no, no! One the biggest myths surrounding a business blog is that you build a blog, and let it sit, waiting for visitors to come. A business blog is full of content that should be shared via social media sites, emails to your customers, as guest posts on other blogs, even as customer service when a question is asked.

“How much time does it take to run a business blog?”

We’re not going to lie to you. A successful business blog is a labor of love and time. Successful business blogs contain relatable and regular content. What does regular mean? Regular means that you post content once, twice, or three times a week, or twice a month—whatever you can manage—without gaps in content posting. Unfortunately, many business blog writers start out with the best of intentions and lose steam. If you don’t have time for a business blog, contact a content marketing company that can keep your blog updated with content specific to your business. We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing. Use this list of do’s and don’ts for outsourcing, and remember that you still need to allocate time to give input. The result of your efforts? A successful business blog with relatable and regular content—the answer to your customers’ and potential customers’ needs.

Search Engine Optimization 101

SEO If you’ve heard a lot about search engine optimization (SEO) but don’t know how to break through the industry talk, don’t feel alone. As a SEO provider who gets clients up to speed on SEO, we get it. SEO providers (like us) are so deep in search engine optimization technology sometimes what comes out of our mouth sounds like “blah, blah, blah” to anyone not acquainted with SEO (which let’s be honest, is most of us). So how do you make sense of all of the SEO blah-talk? Start by breaking down the “blah, blah” into clear SEO terms:

What is a search engine?

Search engines are sites like Google, Bing and Yahoo that people use to find information and businesses. A May 2011 Pew Internet survey found that 92% of online adults use search engines to find information on the Web, including 59% on an average day. The most popular search engine is Google, which processes more than a trillion searches each year worldwide.

When a user puts in keywords to find information, the search engine generates a list of websites. Studies have repeatedly shown that the websites listed near the top get the most clicks, with 75% of users never scrolling past the first page of search results.

What is search engine optimization?

Search engine optimization is just what it says—creating an optimal website for search engines. There are three different ways to optimize your website:

  • By creating regular and fresh user-friendly content users want to read.
  • By using search engine optimization tactics on your website such as writing accurate headlines and excellent content on each page.
  • By hiring a search engine optimization firm to optimize your website and use specialized SEO technology to target your local customers and get to the top of their search engine list.

What are organic search results?

The page generated with the information you are looking for is a search engine results page (SERP). At the top are sponsored listings with paid ads. Below the ads, otherwise known as sponsored listings, are the organic search results. This is the list of websites the search engine has pulled from the web. Organic search results are your goal, as “79% of search engine users say they always or frequently click on the natural search results. In contrast, 80% of search engine users say they occasionally/rarely/never click on the sponsored search results.”

Getting listed in the organic search results is not easy with hundreds of ranking factors used by search engines to generate the results. What’s even more challenging is to show up in the top organic search results in your local area, the bread and butter for most businesses.

What does SEO do?

Paid search engine optimization technology is one of the most effective online marketing tools for businesses. One of our clients, a local print company, was positioned at the top of search engines just a week after utilizing our SEO technology. Their results were localized, with their company showing up in cities and towns search results within 30 miles of their location including a major metropolitan area. Our work yielded long-term results; their printing firm has remained at the top of the major search engines—Google, Yahoo and Bing—since launch. Better search engine results have meant more digital exposure for their business, and stronger opportunity for online conversions.

ABC Flooring, one of our clients in southeastern Wisconsin, saw their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. ABC Flooring receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package.

Any other SEO questions?

Did we answer all your questions? Or do you want to see how paid SEO technology works? Schedule a demo or contact us. Though search engine optimization produces local results, we’ve achieved results for businesses from Wisconsin to California. We can do the same for you, and in clear SEO terms you can understand—and benefit from.