Category Archives: Search Engine Marketing

Online Marketing Blog: Engage, Connect and See a Tangible ROI

Disney is a social media giant. With over 200 millions “likes” across its Facebook pages, it is one of the most powerful brands on the web. So, I’ve decided to explore how Disney accomplishes such a feat. In order to do so, we must examine how they engage with their fans and the impact that interaction has on consumers.

Disney builds a community, not just a pitch
If you look closely at Disney’s tweets or Facebook posts, you’ll notice that most of the communications are centered on interacting with fans. Their goal for social media is not to be commercial but, rather, informational. And, you can see this easily. Take their recent Youtube video about creating life-size LEGO models of Toy Story characters. The content of the video wasn’t made to promote that LEGO has a Toy Story line of toys. Instead, it tries to give something back to the fans.
  
  
Disney invests in digital publishing
Disney moves with the times. In just 18 months, it has launched more than a dozen children’s book apps. In fact, Disney Publishing has seven out of the top 10 apps in the Paid Books category. And now that Disney owns Marvel (Yes, you heard me right— Marvel comics.), they are expanding to put comics online.
 
  
Disney sees social media as a powerhouse to use

In today’s age, it still amazes me that people question the benefit of social media. Disney decided to communicate with fans and develop emotional connections with them through their social media strategy. Naturally, what’s bringing people together is a shared love for the brand. But, it’s also deeper then that. Not only are people connecting with Disney; they are connecting with each other, and that goes back to creating a community.
  
Your business can grow through the strategic use of social media. When you integrate social media with other marketing strategies, you can see the ROI clearly in the form of visitors converting into customers. Social media marketing is less about "being there" and more about "what you do when you are there".

"It's not for me", "my business is different and all referral based", or "we're too small" are not reasons not to engage in online marketing. Social and search marketing are imperative to small business growth. It is the most cost-effective form of marketing you can and should leverage. All you need is a strategy, a plan, and a company who knows how to execute the marketing plan.

Contact us today to learn how we can be your  designer radiators marketing partner, regardless of  your budget.

Online Marketing Blog: Social Media is Free, Right? Wrong!

Let’s face it; in today’s world, the idea that you can get something for nothing is absurd. So, if you aren’t paying for it, what are you giving up? When it comes to social media, the answer is time.

Whenever you are promoting your services or products online, you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself spending a bit longer then you originally planned. Answering questions and interacting with customers is an time-consuming job. And if you are doing it yourself, guess how many billion tasks are you leaving undone?

On one hand, it is fun. You know what you are doing is working when people respond back and engage with you. That ripple effect is proof, if anything else. On the other, you find yourself being more and more a social media manager, and it makes you wonder how on earth you are supposed to do, well, everything.
 
And this is why several companies— ourselves included –are encouraging business owners to budget for their online marketing activities.

The idea is that if you want your website to appear in search results, to connect to more visitors or start more conversations, you need to spend an enormous amount of time promoting that. If you find throughout the year that you can’t do it yourself, this calls for hiring someone and having a budget in place will solve that hiccup.

Whether you choose to do this or not is entirely up to you, but we can’t pretend that social media is free. After all, there is a reason for the saying that time is money. And, as a business owner, you must determine how much your time is worth to you. 

Online Marketing Blog: Small Business Owners & Social Media Marketing – Is it Even Optional Anymore?

To invest in social media marketing or not to!!!

That is a question that most small businesses face when thinking about social media. But social media usage has skyrocketed and so of course everyone must invest. But how and how much seems to be more of a question.

Studies show that a whopping 70 percent of companies say they use social media, however most of them feel like it is more of experiment than a strategy. While they know that the goal is to maintain an online image, how to do that seems to elude owners.

Still, for those who haven’t jumped on the social bandwagon, 41 percent say they plan to, leaving little room to doubt that using online media is no longer optional for business owners.

In my humble opinion, the reason social media continues to be an experiment rather than a strategy is because business owners don’t seem to understand the value of marketing. Most business owners only think in terms of sales or leads. They don’t place as much importance on branding, networking, and forming a trusted network which can result in sales and leads. Let’s face it, marketing is loosey-goosey; it’s intangible; it’s nothing you can put your hands on; it’s….ok you get my point, right?

However, marketing is an important strategy that requires effort, daily focus (not weekly or monthly), and a comprehensive strategy that is all encompassing. What I mean by all-encompassing is that marketing needs to be multi-channel, multi-faceted. More about that in a future blog….

But just to close out this one, let me emphasize that online marketing is no longer optional. You gotta do it!

Social Media Blog: The Information Superhighway that Rivals the Billboards on the Freeway!

We'd all be on billboards seen on the major freeways in our town!

Yes, we would. If we could afford it that is.

Most of us smaller businesses can only dream of being on those big, beautiful billboards being visible to the millions of people driving down the major freeway. We all want everyone to know what we do, who we are, what we sell. Right?

But wait! There's another freeway known as the information superhighway or the Internet as we call it. It offers you Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social sites to make sure that you get an even better reach than that billboard you so covet.
 
Today’s online business world is all about creating a buzz around your brand and getting better connected with prospects and customers. By appealing to their interests and interacting with them, your company has a much greater chance of driving prospects to your site.

Stop casting a wide net of spam and advertisements that rarely provide the necessary Return on Investment (ROI). Use tools like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to shorten your sales cycle, build credibility, and convey what your customers want to hear. With just one 140 character tweet or with just one Facebook post, you can reach millions. Billboards on the other hand can only be seen by the few thousand who drive up and down that area each day.

Social media is here to stay. You can hide from it for a while, but you can't run from it forever. And if you haven't checked lately, check what your competition is doing online. If they've already leap-frogged you, there's your first worry. If they haven't, there's your first step. Call us either way and we'll make sure you stay abreast and get ahead of your competition!

It's time to get social. It's time to go gangbusters online. What are you waiting for again?

Social Media Marketing Blog: Is a Website a Cost or an Investment?

Small business owners are often faced with a number costs necessary to run their business. If these costs are not managed properly, the business and the owner(s) can be bankrupt before the business really gets off the ground. The biggest advantage a small business owner can have is an investment in a website to promote their product or service.

Reach Local or Global Customers
A quality website is the way to showcase your products and services. Regardless of whether your customers are local or global, your website is the best way to reach them. A well-created, aesthetically appealing, and functional website is especially important for small businesses because it is the most cost-effective marketing tool available to them.

Credibility and Visibility
Small businesses can maximize their business visibility with a comprehensive Internet strategy. Even if your services aren’t bought online, customers use the Internet to research what they are interested in buying. Regardless of the type of business you are in, your customers are researching and looking for you.

A well-designed and navigation-friendly website can also enhance your credibility. Customers can review testimonials, company information and your product or services portfolio to make an informed decision.

Brand awareness
By leveraging social networks like Facebook and Twitter, a company can gain brand awareness. Brand awareness results in more credibility for your company and will eventually drive leads and customers to you. By interacting with prospects with buy soundcloud plays agency and customers on social networks, you will build relationships that will also enhance your brand awareness.

When prospects tell me that they can’t “afford a website” or “can’t afford monthly marketing”, I wonder at their seriousness about being in business. Let’s face it. Digital (Internet) marketing is here to stay. You may hide but you can’t run from it. If you aren’t on social networks or marketing your website on search engines, how do you expect to remain viable? Look around you and check out your competitors online. Do they have a leg on you in terms of online visibility? If they don’t, that’s all the more reason to get online and leap-frog them by carving out your place in the big, competitive web world. If they do, what are you waiting for? You should’ve been online yesterday!

A website is an investment. Website marketing is “protecting your investment” and “growing your business”.

 

Search Engine Optimization Blog: What Google’s Farmer Update Means to You!

Google has recently updated their algorithm to lower the rankings and penalize content farms. In short, content farms are sites that produce regurgitated low quality content just for the sake of search engine results. While this new update has been successful for the most part, there are some legitimate businesses and blogs who have been caught up in the mess. The intended result of the update was to reduce spam that was often returned in search results. However some sites got penalized even though they weren't using black hat SEO.

You may recall that JCPenny.com and Overstock.com both recently came under Google's microscope for unethical Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics. Both companies claimed that the tactics were unintentionally underhanded. However, Google defined their tactics as ‘black hat’ and these companies saw their rankings plummet.

Content farms have plagued Google and Google users for years. The Farmer update is the latest attempt to weed these out from search results .

Defining a Content Farm

When it comes to defining a content farm, the answer can be quite complicated. Most people know a content farm when they see it, but there are other aspects to the argument that is creating problems. The main consensus is that content farms are sites that simply lift content from other sites, but Google has also defined them as sites that create content to just manipulate the search results.

An example of manipulating the search engine involves using a hot topic word as many times as possible in order to drive the page to the top of the search list. While this is the goal of many sites and businesses, it’s difficult to tell where these tactics become black hat and where they can be termed "legitimate" SEO. Since defining content farms or black hat SEO often comes down to Google's opinion, it doesn't matter what you and I think, Google decides what to do and it did.

The latest Google update is not perfect, but it is perhaps necessary. There are a LOT of sites that I would not want to see in my Google search results. Google has communicated that a web development company can write to them to let them know if you are unnecessarily being penalized due to the update and they'll do what they can to help your site not suffer from dropped rankings.

But you know what? I think that if Google doesn't want people spamming it and circumventing it, why doesn't it just publish its algorithm and let us SEO people figure out how to work it. This will make life for us SEO practitioners so much easier.Especially with the new GuaranteedSEO.Services. Just saying!!!!

Search Engine Marketing Blog: To Blog or Not To Blog

To blog or not to blog!

Well, here are two key reasons to get off the fence and begin blogging:

  • Building Traffic, Links, and Rankings: Search engines love content. The more content you publish, the better your website will fare in search engine results. Blogging also builds traffic to your website and link backs when others who read you blog link back to your website. Links and traffic continue to play a big role in building better rankings too.
     
  • Establishing Expertise: Using a blog, you can show your expertise and insight into a particular topic. When your prospective or existing customers read your insights, you benefit from their positive perception of you and your company as a solution provider in your field of expertise.
     

And when you blog, remember to use a blog utility that is within your website and not external. Remember, the idea is to build traffic internally not send that traffic to another site. Blogger and Word Press platforms offer the opportunity to blog for free on their platforms. But neither of them need the traffic! Your website does. So spend money on getting a blog utility installed within your website and start blogging today!

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Why LinkedIn is One of My Favorite Social Media Websites!

LinkedIn is one of my favorite social networks. Well, it's in the top three, but you may find it interesting that it's number two after Twitter and ahead of Facebook. Yep, I like LinkedIn more than Facebook because of its functionality as well as it's ability to add value to my professional and business needs.

I remember joining LinkedIn way before Social Media websites were popular and when I was employed at General Motors. I don't even remember when I got my first invitation to "link in" but it has got to be a decade or so. Initially it was made up of the select few career professionals who joined it and then sent invitations to each other. Now of course it has grown to become one of the top professional networking sites for working professionals and business owners.

Although LinkedIn doesn't have as many users as Facebook's 500 plus million, there is no other network that offers you detailed information about professionals in every field you can imagine. The data is well organized, well-searchable, and easy to find and use.  LinkedIn's biggest advantage to you, as an individual or company, is that it allows you to showcase your profile with as much detail as you can possibly add. Your profile becomes an impressive presentation of your company, your skills, your education, your accomplishments and your connections. If you have a captivating profile, people are attracted to you and you'll find yourself being connected to others who become a valuable network for you.

The best way to create a captivating profile is by studying other profiles in your field and outside your field. Yes, even profiles that are not in your field can give you ideas to make your profile more comprehensive and interesting. Also, review corporate profiles of your competition and see what they are saying to make themselves look good. Don't copy but certainly use similar ways to create your own corporate profile so that you can stand head to toe in comparison to your nearest competitor. Testimonials are great for attracting attention of the one who may be tougher to convince simply based on your attractive profile. Testimonials from current and past clients, employees, and colleagues are a great way to let others know what people think of you.
 
Focus on building a network that is hand-picked with individuals whom you want to be associated with. Yes, you won't always be able to focus on who you want and may need to add people who don't appear to be "valuable" from a connection perspective but that's ok. You aren't getting charged for each connection you add so why sweat the small stuff?

Start building your network with the people  you already know. Do your research and connect others keeping in mind "givers gain". I'd say focus on quality of contacts and not so much the quantity because that'll bring more value in the long run. Also keep an eye on the suggestions for connections that the LinkedIn database offers (on the right hand side of your LinkedIn screen). These people are offered as possible contacts by the LinkedIn database based on the interests you filled out in your profile.
 
Update your profile frequently to keep it fresh. Send out notes to your connections letting them know if you have information that they find useful. Integrate your twitter feed to LinkedIn because it's a great way to gain the attention of others who may not be in your network directly. Make use of the Answers section to answer other people's questions and post some of your own in a way that engages other people's attention, not spams them.  Use LinkedIn's extensive database to search for company contacts or people whom you wish to reach to showcase what you do and what you sell.
 
And of course, make sure your profile includes links to your websites including your blog. Share a little bit of your personal information that is not "private" and that may interest others.
 
So if you've only been thinking of playing on Facebook and Twitter, perhaps it's time to give some attention to LinkedIn. Trust me, it'll be worth it.

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Has Yahoo-BING Search Alliance Leveled the Playing Field?

So Yahoo and Bing have joined hands to take on Google. So has the playing field for search domination leveled off just a bit you think?

After establishing the Search Alliance between Yahoo and Microsoft, Yahoo had quickly begun transitioning Bing results into Yahoo results. So now, in the US and Canada for English results only, Yahoo search experiences are now powered by the Microsoft platform. This change in other markets will come fairly soon given the speed at which the transition is happening immediately after the public announcement was made.
 
Yahoo will be displaying mostly organic results from Bing. And initially Yahoo will only deliver English-language searches via Bing. As both partners work together to leverage each other, it is not unrealistic to expect that they will soon cover more markets and include other language searches.

Google continues to dominate the search usage market with greater than 60% of users using Google Search.  So has the competitive landscape evened out a little bit with this search alliance between Yahoo and Bing. Or has Google monopoly on search gotten stronger with the search alliance between Yahoo and Bing? Will new players crop up to pick up smaller usage shares in the US and Canadian Search markets?

We're all waiting to see how this plays out….

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Facebook Places – The new way to reach your audience

When you have something that’s being used by half a billion people, it’s bound to have a huge immediate impact. So can your business when it is featured on your Place Page.
 
Facebook Places is a smart-phone location check-in feature that will allow you to share your location, find the location of your friends, and discover new places based on other Facebook user recommendations – much like Loopt, Foursquare and Yelp! provide.
 
Facebook Places has exploded as a habitual way of connecting. With people migrating their location check-ins to the network where they spend most of their time already – Facebook, it is a suite of advertising tools that provides you a way to list, claim and advertise your business.
 
You can grab your friend’s attention to your Place page by adding a story about your place page that talks all about your business on your profile. Data that you can collect on users and amount of times they check in will prove extremely valuable in tracking customers and advertising spend. What this means is that the customer that comes in every day can now be tracked and even incentivized to get a free gift for every tenth check-in. It’s like the digital/social version of the loyalty card.
 And more so, people are talking and telling others about your business therefore this has the potential for generating new referrals!
 
Offering coupons and special offers for people who check in is a natural way to tap the power of using online tools to drive offline sales. You can also make this more appealing and catchy by creating polls and inviting comments about your business. You can reward those who bring potential customers to your place page or share their experience with your business by offering them exclusive discounts or special offers.
 
All in all, Facebook Places is here to stay and I predict that advertisers will start becoming creative for leveraging Facebook Places.