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Ten Benefits of Search Engine Optimization in our Modern, Connected World

In this age of social media, you probably have heard that “pushing for content” is the greatest way to attract customers to your business. Everyone is focused on getting the most number of shares, the highest number of engagement, the “top post” that will spike to going viral.

Yet computers and patterns of techniques still drive the backbone of the internet. Facebook uses specific methods of identifying good content that might be relevant on someone’s news feed. Google uses someone’s personal search history to identify both geographic and tailored results, but even these depend on semantics. In fact, as more content, more stores, and more websites pop up, the greater need our world will have on sorting this vast information in a form that computers can understand.

The death of Search Engine Optimization is greatly exaggerated. While the old method of “just backlinks” and pure keyword-based optimization is long gone, search engine optimizers have survived a seismic shift in the complex way that the internet sorts itself. Here are ten ways in which optimizing your website can still benefit you today, which also illustrates just how complex and encompassing this field has become.

  1. Audience. In a social world, trends are increasingly defined by the masses, and often, knowing just who to target is extremely difficult. Through keyword research, social trends, shopping statistics, we can help you find the right products and content your business should be selling. Words go in and out of style, but research will always hold its value.
  2. Ideas. Brainstorming can be a chore, especially when you are jump-starting a new business or trying to add to an already existing portfolio. Yet with an SEO advisor, analysis reports and tools can give you insights into what has worked well so far in the world. This can even tap into your competition, allowing you to see how others have fared and provide you with a branch of generating new ideas.
  3. Organization. Spammy pages are scattered, cluttered, and not well organized. They use improper page layouts, untagged images, and promote chaos in an already chaotic online world. Optimizers ensure that your pages and products are organized, with the proper mark-up that both humans and computers can understand. How do your pages connect to other related pages? Do they convey a natural flow of information? We consider this and many other minor factors when ranking.
  4. Go local. With local targeting through keywords, directories, trends, it’s easy to know what your geographic target is looking for. The rise of smartphones means that more than ever, people are searching in their area for products.
  5. Strength. The internet has given rise to many forms of content and forms of sales. Contests, types of promotions, webinars, animated videos and guides, monthly product magazines, different forms of catalogs… It can be overwhelming to choose. Keywords alone don’t cut it for good SEO, we must have insights into more detailed specifics that engage your brand in a strong way. The stronger your engagement, the greater importance you’ll be on the internet.
  6. Authority. Generating backlinks is no longer as easy as asking someone to place a link to your business on their site. Authority is gained by the right shared content, well-written reviews from customers, and curated information.
  7. Universality. SEO ensures that your website is usable not just on tablets or desktop computers, but also on any other smart appliance. Like it or not, the internet of things trend has taken off, and over time there will be opportunities to showcase your business on other forms of technology. It’s also important that people with diverse backgrounds can access your website.
  8. Speed. Believe it or not, Google factors in page load times when it ranks your site. Where and how can we improve your page efficiency?
  9. Submissions. While Google is still the #1 search engine, people are also using other websites for searching. Each engine has their own unique way they crawl the web, and knowing how to work with the big guys will place you in good territory with the internet.
  10. Efficiency. As a business owner, your job is to focus on the business and sales. Through search engine optimization, your efficiency can grow without much overhead from your company. Optimizers work with and for you, not against you to create the best e-commerce experience you can have in today’s age.

Responding to Negative Criticism on Social Media Pages


When you start any social media page, you are opening yourself up to two-way communication between yourself and your audience. The public has the ability to share comments about your business with friends and others in that network. Eventually, no matter how hard you try to please everyone, there will be that one person who is incessant on posting negative things on your page. Don’t worry, this is not the end of the world. In fact, depending on how you handle this situation, you can turn a cranky customer into a lifelong shopper.

One thing that we see on corporate sites all the time is the bland, generic answer that is almost like the computer is talking, not a customer service or PR rep. Do not respond with a cookie cutter answer that is impersonal and – to be honest – mildly offensive to the consumer. The last thing you want to do when a customer gets upset is coddle them with a generic response. Imagine if you went into a brick and mortar store, upset about service, and the salesperson or store manager simple pulled out a cue card from behind the register and began reading a scripted prompt, asking you to call an 800 number or email the corporate offices. It would be a slap in the face.

If you are a professional in the public relations or internet marketing field and you are managing social media pages, you should be embarrassed if your company is responding this way. How hard is it to respond to the customer complaints on an individual level?

Doing this on Facebook or Twitter is especially damaging because now potential customers can track your conversations and decide if they like the way you handled the situation. In addition to that, the person who has complained can also share these comments with friends and respond to them in an unsavory manner. Don’t treat your customers this way. Send them personal messages and always assume that the customer is in the right – even if they aren’t. Responding with scripted answers makes your customers feel unimportant and will lose your company business.

Advertising: The Difference between Social Media and Social Spending

It is agreed, unanimously by the marketing industry that it is important to develop social media pages. We have had many posts on branding and social media writing; however it is time to put a backbone in the newly formed organism that is your marketing strategy. It is well and good to post on your social media pages and to put time and effort into maintaining them. You should absolutely do this. But now that you’ve gotten used to being a Facebook or Twitter pro, it’s time to talk dollars and cents.

We all love that we can get free advertising through our networks of friends and followers, but there comes a time when you need to realize that a strong social presence needs to be accompanied by a strong ad presence on the web. If you aren’t using pay-per-click marketing tools, such as Google AdWords, its time. Brands spend thousands and millions of dollars on web marketing, knowing that you can’t rely solely on a social media presence to bring you sales. It’s all part of a cohesive marketing strategy and money needs to be put into online ads.

Consider how much you spend on a phonebook ad or a billboard. Those are both local, limited ad spaces, while the internet is infinite. Your marketing strategy should already have a budget in place for internet marketing alone, and if you haven’t given this any thought than it is past time to do so. There is a great opportunity to expand your brand, especially if you don’t have a brick and mortar location, through online marketing and advertising.

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.

Google+ Hangouts: Why you Need Them.

While most people have a basic understanding of social media — many of those choosing to use the dominating power — Facebook, the word of Google+ is slowly but surely spreading through the masses. Google+ offers users an all-encompassing experience that seems seamless and omniscient.  The interface is simple, sleek and efficient. While it appears that Google+ is only denting the traffic of Facebook users (only measuring to about 13% of the number of users compare to Facebook), it is now seeing the kind of results one would expect from a Google product.

One of the main reasons why Google+ will soon capture a wide audience is the hangout feature. This tool allows you to have video conferences with people in your circles, providing a service that many users adore. Families can convene online from coast to coast with ease. Shop owners can give presentations to customers outside of store hours, increasing brand loyalty and doing so in a way that doesn’t conflict with their busy schedules. Hangouts even allow users to share documents with Google Docs right within the confines of the chat.

If you have not yet developed a Google+ page for your business or even for yourself personally, you’re going to want to. Integrate this feature with your website and utilize the tools to build a brand image with Google. You can also integrate it fluidly with any other Google features that you are currently using. Google Places has even earned a spot, now being referred to as Google+ Local. It will be a way of sharing complete information about your company to the public, allowing them to share, review, rate and interact on a personal level with their networks.

Father’s Day: Opportunity for Online Growth

Get your business ready for  Father’s Day spending.

With over 70 million dads in America, there are plenty of reasons to boost your site this Father’s Day and offer promotions that your customers won’t be able to resist. It is projected this year that more families will be spending money on Father’s Day as it has taken a hit these past few years during the economic recession. For those of you who are not the best at creating specials or haven’t given thought to a sales campaign for this Father’s Day, here are five fun ways to get your customer’s involved this Father’s Day:

  1. Have people upload pictures of themselves with their dads to your Facebook or Twitter page to get a discount at your online store. Customers will be interacting with your social media pages and shopping your retail site.
  2. Bundle a few different packages on your eCommerce site to make shopping easy. Give a discount when customers buy the bundle and give them great, fun names. You could have one with a firearm, ammo and a holster and call it the “For When your Daughter Starts Dating” package.
  3. Do a free giveaway with a gift card purchase. Find an item that is overstocked and use it as a purchase with purchase when anyone gets a gift card for dad. More importantly, most of the time people will find something more expensive than their gift card and your sales will be even higher.
  4. Create a new look for the special, giving customers a fresh outlook on your site. This can be done by uploading new pictures to your homepage or creating a new banner. Through image association, you can train your customers to know when there is a sale and build a sense of urgency – they need to buy now because there is a sale.
  5. Pair up with another local business, maybe a restaurant or a movie theater, and build a package that could be “Dad’s Night Out.” This is something that sites like Groupon and Living Social will be doing, so you can get ahead of the curve by doing a local event or even partnering with a similar website.

How to Tell if Your Content is Appropriate.

It is always difficult to establish what content is appropriate for your audience when you are posting on a company page. As times progress, censorship has evolved and many businesses struggle to identify what should be shared with customers and what needs to be flagged as “inappropriate.” While there are definitely some things that should stay far away from the office, there is also a great trend in businesses getting personal. Pictures of staff members that aren’t stuffy headshots are a big hit with customers — just check out our employee profiles. It lets customers relate to the people on the other end of the phone and develop a stronger bond – this will ultimately lead to customer loyalty and increased use of your products/services.

The important thing to know is how to maintain your professional identity while seeping your personal life into your branding. This question of brand identity has many different answers and it mainly depends on how you interact with your audience and what you expect out of this newly redefined relationship. For some companies it is an easy decision to become more personal and to bring in that humanization and humor to the workplace – mostly these are companies that can develop a personality without damaging professional relationships.

One company that completely embraces this and has since its inception in 1992 is Moosejaw. Just check out the Madness tab on their site. It includes such features as, “Crying Tomatoes,” and,”Your Weird Dreams.” Moosejaw has a lively character that it shares splendidly with customers through humor, and this has built the brand a very strong and loyal base.

However, Moosejaw is a clothing retailer and distributor that has a lot of freedom in their marketing and branding. What about the companies that have to present themselves in a professional manner, such as a financial planning organization or a law firm? These places are generally seen in a professional light and could lose credibility in their professions by sharing too much personality.

Thankfully there is a way to find balance within extremely professional environments. A great example of a professional company that also offers personality to their clients is the Slalom Consulting Group. Take a look at their About Us page. Look how they incorporate photos of their staff that make their staff seem approachable, friendly and knowledgeable. They offer up faces and bios that we can relate to and that make us trust more readily than pictures of suits and board rooms.

Building a Social Media Following

One of the biggest problems that many small businesses have with social media is gaining the loyalty of fans. “How do I get more likes on Facebook?” That’s a question we hear on a daily basis. There are plenty of intense conversations on the relationships built on social media networks and how people interact with businesses through them, but creating a fan base is easily done. We are going to break it up into two strategies: the conventional method and the unconventional method.

There are obviously tried and tested tricks that companies use every day to get themselves more friends.  Here are three basics that most people use when first trying to gain a bigger following:

  1. Put buttons on your website that link directly to your Facebook, Twitter, etc. pages. These will help guide customers who are already visiting your webpage to your social media pages. This is also an industry standard that most successful businesses are already utilizing, so you want to do this to keep yourself current.
  2. Another great tool is putting these buttons right into the signature on your e-mail, especially if your job title includes anything like the phrases “marketing” or “public relations.” This will give a direct link to people who you are in touch with on a regular basis, including current and prospective clients.
  3.  There is one tactic that is so simple, if you aren’t already using it you probably don’t even have a Facebook page. Get everyone in your office and five of their friends to like your page. It’s called a social network for a reason! This is a digital word-of-mouth that can result in business and financial growth. Everyone knows someone who knows someone who could benefit from using your products and/or services.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are some outside-the-box tips for the creative company that isn’t afraid to use new tactics to score new followers. We want to profile three tips that you can accomplish easily, not ways to go on extensive social media campaigns. These ideas are simple to implement but you’d be surprised at how many businesses don’t use them:

  1. Make an aesthetic presence with your social media pages. Use graphic design to create beautiful pages on Tiwtter, Facebook, YouTube etc. that match your brand and give fans something cool to look at. Update your cover photo on your Facebook timeline so that it is creative, interesting and will inspire people who visit your page to like it. This is a great way to be visually stimulating for your audience, and when your page looks unique, you have a better chance of capturing the attention of your clientele. Check out these creative timeline covers and these Twitter pages.
  2. Interact with people by having a contest or poll. Ask your followers questions and give them a forum to share a little bit of themselves. There is nothing more exciting for fans than the ability to have their 15 minutes of fame with one of their favorite brands.Look at the way Realtree Outdoors® uses their Facebook page and brand identity to excite fans and build a stronger following.
  3. Add a touch of personality to your pages by posting photos and videos of the staff or company events. It’s always a great way to increase your following and followers love when there is a way for them to directly relate to your brand. It also shows that you are interacting on a personal level, building the trust that a consumer will feel with your brand. We recently had a day when we brought our dogs to the office and we posted pictures that got a good response from our fans.

The Art of Facebook Domination

People from over 200 countries across the globe flock to Facebook to connect people. But what connection are they truly making — what connection to their favorite brands are they making, more importantly? What does the average user really want out of their Facebook experience? The realm of Facebook encompasses more than profile pictures and relationship statuses. It surrounds the basic human instinct to feel important; to feel as though your voice is being heard. That being said, what can be done on your page to encourage people not only to like your page but to enjoy going there on a daily basis. Breaking down the fundamental communication value of Facebook is key to incorporating a successful social media strategy into your brand. I will be using Coca-Cola to demonstrate three tips that can be developed over time to build something more than a brand — a true following. With over 41,000,000 likes, Coca-Cola has built a following with a social media empire to match:

1. Be True to Your Fans

There is a reason that people buy your product or partake in your services. Keep yourself rooted in that essential part of your business that got you fans in the first place. If you are going through a re-branding phase or are considering making a jump to a social media campaign, remember that within your innovation, there needs to be a core value that your business has carried and that has been related to your customers.

Coca-Cola is a great example of a company who keeps up with their evolving image while staying true to the basic values that most people associate with it. This is America’s brand and has always upheld this image with their advertising campaigns. Their cover photo on Facebook emulates the same emotions that some of their earliest advertisements did: wholesome, youthful, fun, tradition — a refreshing beverage to be enjoyed by all.

The mind-boggling thing about Coca-Cola is that it is virtually one product (beverage) that has made such a powerful throne as a brand. According to their website, “From humble beginnings 125 years ago, our Company has evolved from one product — Coca-Cola — to more than 500 brands in 2011. We’ve grown from selling a modest 9 drinks a day in 1886 to 1.8 billion a day. And we’ve expanded from one city in one country to availability in more than 200 countries around the world.”

1.8 billion a day. That could translate to roughly 26% of the global population buying a Coke on a daily basis.

2. Give Your Fans a Voice
Something that every good salesperson knows is that people love to talk about themselves. If you get them to tell you what they are truly in the market for, it is simple to sell it to them. Coca-Cola gives their fans a forum and an opportunity to be heard. The company encourages fan involvement and they put that right in their Facebook introduction, “The Coca-Cola Facebook Page is a collection of your stories showing how people from around the world have helped make Coke into what it is today.”

What fan wouldn’t want to be part of one of the biggest brands in the world?

So what you need to do is give your fans and opportunity to do your marketing for you. It’s as basic as the word-of-mouth method, but translate that into social media. Let them tell the story of your product and partner with local businesses and archives to do the same. This is the simplest way to let your loyal customers, the ones who actually spend a lot of time using your product, tell you what they want. It’s the survey, the research, the data collection, the analysis all rolled into one. And it’s free!

3. Incorporate All of your Branding Materials

Not only has Coke taken over the web, they’ve taken over color association. When you see red and white or even a red bottle icon, you know that it’s Coke without even having to think about it. Their social media is no different. It reeks of red and white and the Coke brand in a way that associates all of your fondest childhood memories with their Facebook. Remember being barefoot in the summertime grass, drinking a Coke and eating chips. Maybe waiting for 4th of July fireworks to start. Maybe playing with your best friend that moved away when their dad got a job two states over.

This branding pulls everything together with two colors, focusing on their heritage and yet calling people to action by telling them to “express themselves.” What Coke has done, is it’s become a cultural icon to the extent of which almost every significant image used in their advertising gets sucked into their image vortex. Polar bear. Santa Claus. These are things that have become part of their strategy and part of the reason why people drink 1.8 billion a day.

So how can you take this theory and apply it to your business? Incorporate a strong color association with your brand name. People associate by color more than almost any other medium because it’s usually the first thing you notice when looking at an ad. Develop a strong design and utilize colors in your branding efforts. Then, once you have developed the strong brand, make sure that your different networks, websites and other branded items are plastered with the same palette. Keep it consistent. This is crucial to getting your branding materials involved on Facebook.

Be sure to incorporate other things. The logo, pictures of the storefront, pictures of the employees. Show them who you are as well as what you do. This will encourage trust, which is essential in building any relationship. Keep your brand strong and consistent and be sure to incorporate these things in your Facebook page.

 

Hungry for more? Check out our website to see what services we offer in web-marketing, social media and brand development.