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Diversify Your Income

Many online retailers have specific industry and target audiences that they work with. While it is important to establish yourself within a niche that is going to support you, there are also ways to diversify yourself from this and grow your profits accordingly. This can be done simply by exploring coincidental merchandise or services that your customers are probably already buying. The goal is to get them buying these extras from you. Here are three quick tips to diversifying your site to increase sales:

  1. Do some research on your clientele. Find out what they like and what they are already doing with that extra disposable income that they aren’t spending with you. If you sold plants, you’d sell gardening tools too, wouldn’t you? This is more than that, however. What if you developed a class in which you teach new gardeners the best practices for planting and growing? Products that you sell online don’t just have to be tangible goods. Knowledge is a hot commodity.
  2. Think outside the box. Maybe classes aren’t something that your business does now and isn’t something that is going to make you a household name, but if you made an extra few hundred dollars a month by sharing your knowledge, wouldn’t that help with the mortgage? Be creative in when it comes to boosting your income. Think about what your customers would pay for, or what you would pay for if you were shopping for a specific item. If you had just bought a new pair of binoculars for bird watching, wouldn’t it be great if there was a tour of your local parks on the best spots for bird watching to get you started?
  3. Don’t be afraid to fail. This experiment in online retail is going to take you a few times to get right. You may not see the increase you are hoping for in the first few months, but don’t let that discourage you. Understand that it takes time to get the traffic you want and in turn see the sales that you are hoping for. By diversifying yourself to encompass a customer’s needs, you are already going to be a step ahead of the competition. Think of yourself as a streamlined part of your customer’s experience. A one stop for not just only product but knowledge and community.

Get Visual

If you are producing content for your company site or social networks, note that you need to be producing more than just well-written articles. Generally speaking, you have less than thirty seconds (sometimes much less) to wow a first-time visitor into staying on your site. While they might just be eager to glean information on your business, especially if you have a brick and mortar location, you need to add visual content and other appealing things to get them to stay on your site.

Recent studies have shown that people are less and less likely to read the information on your site and more likely to click on a photo or video that explains the same information in a visual manner. Even better, using images or videos will get your site a better share rate. People are more likely to repost about your page if they can pin an image on Pinterest or share the image on Facebook or Twitter.

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of having to shoot photos or videos, as there is plenty of editing software that makes it easy for someone with basic computer skills to have nicely crafted visuals on their site. If you are unsure of what sort of visual content you should be creating, look at the sites of similar companies to glean ideas. If you are a retailer, it is easy to make information videos about product and current events that are industry specific. Instructional videos are also popular and will get you higher rankings. Google loves content that is user-friendly, so think of content that would be useful or interesting to your average clientele.

Building a Strong Brand

It seems whenever you search for SEO or SEM, there are those key phrases that pop up like “brand identity” and “brand loyalty,” but what do those phrases actually mean? How can you take your business to the next level by developing that strong brand and utilizing it in internet marketing? Here are three tips to help get you started on your re-branding project or your first branding attempt:

Find your target audience

Don’t think in terms of, “My target audience is everyone! Everyone will love my product and I want to advertise to the general public.” It’s great to have goals for yourself and to strive to become the next or Coca-Cola, but another part of being a business owner is basing your goals in reality. If you want your audience to be the entire world, you can get in line behind every other business who wants a household name but maybe hasn’t put enough thought into what target audience they are going to market to. Your target audience should be people who are going to buy your product and will be receptive your re-branding campaign. This will also help later on because you will be able to develop keywords specifically for your niche audience, as opposed to fighting for high bid keywords that are expensive and flooded with competition.

Think to yourself, “Who would read a blog about my products?,” or “Who would want a shirt with my logo on it?” Developing a strong brand encompasses all of these things because it creates a cohesive force that your intended public can get behind. For small businesses, it is important to develop a target audience that is realistic and well-planned. This is crucial to building up your brand image.

Set visual goals and boundaries

Set a clear path for your brand image visually. You want to focus your energy on a strong sense of color coordination and imagery, as opposed to having too many ideas and too many different themes. Budding businesses can either get too crazy with their design or they stay so conservative that they end up looking plain and generic. Do some research on what similar sites are doing and pick another color group or theme that will make you stand out.

Once you have developed your color story and design work, stick with it! There’s nothing worse that you can do for your young business than build an amazing visual brand and lose consistency with it. Give people something they can recognize and relate to when they are visiting your site. Remember that you can and should hire a design expert. We can all whip up a logo in Photoshop, but there is a reason people get paid to do design work. They are the pros and can do the work much more effectively and quickly than if you tried to do it by yourself. It can be the difference between a brand-worthy logo and clip art.

Be well-rounded

You’ve got your target audience and a strong visual presence, now it’s time to build a well-rounded campaign. Does your brand use SEO? Are you building links or using PPC to back up this new identity you’ve created for yourself? Develop a strategy for getting your brand from your website to the people who will shop with you. Create a Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch with your fan-base. Maybe you have viral videos that will add to your brand by giving it a face and humanizing it. People love to relate to their favorite brands, so give them someone or something to relate to. A well-rounded brand will tackle this by conveying one message across different mediums. Create a blog space for yourself; give the customer content that they will find relevant. When they can trust you for good content, they will revisit your site again and again.

5 Free Resources Every SEO Should Have in Their Back Pocket

Although it has been around for nearly two decades, the world of Search Engine Optimizers is always evolving and growing. The industry is brutal but with the right resources, SEO’s can stay on the top of their game by staying current and changing with the trends of the market. Here are five free resources for beginners that will help advance your skill set and keep you current.

1. Google Webmaster Central Blog

The Google Webmaster Central Blog is a key resource as Google is the dominating power in all things internet, including internet marketing. This blog has everything you would expect from Google and more: videos, instructional how-to’s, materials for beginners and the tech-savvy. Best of all, the information is coming from those at Google who are monitoring and even creating the trends and breakthroughs we all try to follow. The Webmaster Central Blog is also a nice resource to have because it showcases various areas of study to make your internet experience well-rounded. Even though it may not focus solely on SEO, it gives anyone in the internet marketing industry a leg up on competition by introducing new areas if interest and covering topics from images to crawl errors.

2. The Daily SEO Blog

From the innovative team at SEOmoz, this blog is something that every SEO should be checking daily. It captures everything relevant from the industry, whether its new policies and penalties or the discussion of black hat SEO’s. They have a great segment called “Whiteboard Friday,” which is an entertaining way to stay informed and keep up on the hot topics in the trade. There are several different SEOmoz bloggers, but perhaps one of the shining qualities to this particular blog is that they pull excellent posts from their user-driven blog, YOUmoz. This is great for two reasons. Firstly, it allows outside voices to have a widespread audience and share their knowledge of SEO and second because it tells the reader that SEOmoz is cultivating the best talent possible for their articles.

3. Klout

While this may seem like just another social media tool, Klout is unique because it measures your influence over others. It tracks the analytics of your social media sites in one convenient spot and best of all, it’s completely free! It converges all of the different areas that you are active in social media-land, and turns it into tangible data. Not only is this a great way to stay on top of your game, but it also shows that you are taking the time and effort to track all of this data.  Klout is user friendly and is a great way for beginning SEO’s to break into the analytical side of the job. It tracks the influences of over 100 million users everyday, which means that you can see your reach and develop better strategies for broadening your brand. While your Klout score may not be the most important thing, try to look at Klout as a tool for configuring algorithmic success within the industry, not to track your popularity.

4. Open Site Explorer

Another great site from SEOmoz, this allows you to track sites and compare different sites to see the effectiveness of their links. This tool is an amazing one to have in your arsenal, as you can compare someone you are working with to their competition. You get more options if you decide to purchase SEOmoz pro, but there is still a lot of information from the free site, although you only get to do 3 reports a day. Between Open Site Explorer and Klout, there is a plethora of information, waiting to take your SEO skills to the next level. Open Site Explorer can show you incredible information about your site from page authority to internal and external links. This is definitely a tool to look into and get familiar with.

5. Pinterest

Pinterest is a newer social media site that allows users to “pin” things they like in a virtual inspiration board. Why is this important to SEO? Pinterest is trending to be the new big thing in social media, falling in the number 3 spot behind Facebook and Twitter. It is especially important because it goes beyond sharing information with followers. Pinterest represents the potential to create different pinboards and utilizing them as a two way communication strategy. The SEO doesn’t determine what gets posted or what is tweeted — the consumer is solely responsible for pinning items that they are interested in. One company that seems to be thriving on Pinterest is Blendtec, who is embracing the possibilities that this new form of social media represents. This is a site to keep in mind in the future as it grows and expands as a marketing tool.