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How To Know Where You Should Build a Link Or Not- Link Building Do’s and Don’ts

Link Building

How can I tell if a link is safe?

How do I spot a good or bad link?

What questions can I ask myself to see if a link should be pursued or not?

These are common questions many business owners ask ourselves as we SEO our websites. Link building is an essential part of SEO. Without it, especially in a competitive industry, your site may move in rankings, but at some point it will stagnate. Many SEOs believe that link building can attribute 60% or more to the ranking ability of a site. Plus, with the right kind of links, link building can drive quality traffic to your website which can convert into leads. However, if you do not have quality links placed, it can be detrimental to the growth of your online presence.

Link Building Can Be Dangerous

But beware. And we hesitate to say “Buyer Beware,” because you should not be buying links. The issue is that link building can be dangerous—and can do even more harm than good. With algorithm updates like Penguin and a Google search formula that closely scrutinizes links to your site, it’s more important than ever to not only build a clean link profile, but to make sure all links already pointing to your site are of good quality and the kind that will not be disregarded or penalized by Google.

Link building is a complex subject, so if you are starting out and you are not working with a professional SEO company (we recommend that you do), then see if the link you are planning to build to your website meets the following 10 criterion:

•  Is the page being linked to valuable to users? Can you articulate why?
•  Will the webpage linking to you likely refer a quality prospect to your site?
•  Is the link built to help users online or is it solely built for SEO purposes?
•  The website is related thematically or solves a problem for the same target audience.
•  The content on the page where the link is coming from is thematically relevant to the page it is linking to.
•  The link will actually be clicked on because it is placed into the optimal context (content of the page).
•  The website is of high quality – branding, content, user experience.
•  The website itself does not have bad links pointing toward it.
•  The website looks up-to-date and well managed
•  If your customers came across this link, would they form a positive or negative impression of your brand based on the page on which the link has been placed? If the answer is yes, then it may be good. If no, then avoid this link.

A better way to look at this is to simply ask whether a link builds value to your target audience and the audience of the site where the link may be placed. A focus on value and whether that link will help people and actually be clicked is a better way to determine if this is a good link or not rather than adhering to one supposedly safe or sanctioned approach.

Final Tips: Don’t EVER BUY links to your site, especially if you are offered packages like “Buy 300 links for a special time $299 offer.” Stay away from these solicitations. There are many companies out there that will promise hundreds or thousands of links for a price. Don’t buy into their offer. You not only run the risk of receiving a bunch of links from poor quality websites, purchasing links to boost your page ranking goes against Google’s guidelines. As a result, your website could get penalized or even banned from the search engine.

Especially if a deal sounds to good to be true or you do not know the company personally who is selling to you, then you should avoid link building companies altogether. Rea link building takes time and is a very in depth manual process based on an approach and a strategy.
Play it safe and do it right the first time. A few good links carries much more weight than many poor quality links, and it is the safest route to take on your link building journey. If you get penalized, it will cost you dearly in time and money to clean up your link profile.
Getting Started with Link Building

If your goal is to build a solid online presence that draws your target audience to your website, and you do not know how to start, then reach out to us with your questions. We are happy to help. Call (516) 610-0922.

 

 

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Get Ready For The April 21st 2015 Google Mobile Friendly Algorithm Update

upside-mobile-friendly-algorithm-blog-photoIt’s not a trick. It’s not hype. It’s real. A BIG Google update is coming in two weeks.

If you run a small or medium sized business on Long Island or in NYC, it’s important to get ahead of this.

Google has announced that on April 21st, 2015 it is going to update its algorithm to formally include “mobile friendliness” as a ranking signal into its rankings formula. The update will roll out in the days and weeks after 4/21/15 and it is being called ‘Mobilegeddon’ by some.

Based on the fact that Google calls this update ‘Significant’ and a lot of chatter in the SEO world, the most likely result of this update will be twofold:

  • Websites that are not mobile friendly will likely lose rankings—and the impact could be severe, especially if your website has a high proportion of mobile visitors and your lead generation is dependent on mobile visitors.
  • Websites that are deemed mobile-friendly could see a rankings boost.

Many say it will be bigger than both the PANDA and the PENGIN updates.

One thing is clear: mobile friendly sites (sites that are responsively coded or mobile sites that pass Google’s mobile usability tests in Google Webmaster Tools or Google’s Developer testing website located at [https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/]) will be favored and websites that are not mobile friendly are likely to see some type of rankings drop on certain keywords, especially keywords that are competitive and in a niche where there are many sites that have already become mobile friendly. This could result in less traffic and a negative impact on your lead generation campaign.

mblfriendlyBut remember the silver lining: if your site is mobile friendly, you are likely to experience a boost, especially if your competitors do not get up to speed.

Also, you have time to work on this and you can work on it after April 21st. The algorithm should work in real time so you will not have to wait months for your site to be re evaluated.

Here Are Some Things We Expect:

  • Only mobile rankings will be affected (this is the best we know to date)
  • Tablets are likely to not be affected
  • The update will go page to page on your website (any indiv. page can benefit from the update)
  • It will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide
  • The algorithm will run in real time
  • It appears that a page will either be mobile-friendly or not (there will likely not be degrees of mobile friendliness)

So, How Do I Know If My Website Is Mobile Friendly?

There are three ways to check:

  • mobilefriendlablGoogle Developers tool: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/. Go to this tool and enter your domain. It will tell you if your site is mobile friendly.
  • Use Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). There is a “Mobile Usability” area that you can use within the GWT dashboard. It will tell you if your site is mobile friendly or if you have errors to fix. It will specify what errors you need to fix.
  • Test it yourself manually on a smartphone. Use a smartphone and Google your company name. Look for a little label that says “mobile-friendly“ in your website description. If it says “mobile-friendly” then you pass. If it doesn’t then you probably have seen the errors using the two other aforementioned tools.

SIX Common Website Mobile Friendly Fixes:

  • WordPress Theme Updates: If you use a WordPress site, then update your theme and make sure the theme is responsively coded. If your theme developers do not have a responsive theme, they are probably working on one now. At minimum you should go to their website and write to them as well as get involved in the Support forums. The most cost effective thing is to just update your theme to a newer version.
  • WordPress Mobile Friendly Plugins: If this is not possible, then there are a number of free and paid (fermium) Worpdress mobile plugins that will turn your website into a mobile friendly website. Customization options will let your theme resize to the devices being used to view your site. Investigate this on your own or with your web developer.
  • Separate Mobile Website: Another option: you may already have a mobile site i.e. a separate site on a subdomain or in a folder e.g. m.website.com or website.com/mobile. If you have a separate mobile website, you should test it and you may be fine.
  • Third Party Application: Yet another option is to use a third party service (an example is dudamobile. We have no financial benefit of promoting them but we like their site). You can build a mobile site. Then you put a redirect into your existing website that points the domain to the separate mobile friendly version of your site. This way, if you have a non WordPress website e.g. HTML, you can keep the site and still meet most if not all of the mobile friendly requirements.
  • Responsively Coded Website: A final practical option is for you to consider building a new website that is responsively coded or retrofitting an existing site to make it responsively coded (either in HTML, WordPress or other). That means you have one websites that reformats to the device. This is the most costly option however many sites are likely outdated or are in need of an update for branding purpose. Now is a good time to make this investment since you know that Google will be looking at the code in detail. It’s best to bring your site up to today’s standards, not just for Google, but for your own customers.
  • Wait and Learn. The last option is to sit tight, wait and learn …for the time being. This is the case if you know for sure that a) web marketing and SEO are not important to your business strategy 2) your customers won’t care 3) your target audience does not use mobile. While these cases are few and far between for small businesses on Long Island and in NYC, they do exist. If you look in Google Analytics it will tell you how many mobile visitors you get. If the number is low, you can decide if it is worth it to make the investment after the update takes place and you can see if you are hit. Run your keyword rankings and traffic numbers before and after April 21st to get a sense.

Those are SIX options. There are probably more, but think it through.

Still don’t know what to do?

If you need professional help, call us at (516) 610-0922 or visit our Long Island marketing company at www.upsidebusiness.com.

Still, do not panic. Yes, there may be a cost and an investment to you, however with the penetration of mobile use around the globe at an all time high, it’s time to make your website user friendly anyway. Plus, Google has been telling business owners to become mobile friendly for years. On a higher note, a better user experience will yield better metrics that will in turn help your SEO rankings. With mobile visitors making up 30%-50% or more of many websites, making the mobile experience optimized is a sound business investment that can help you get a step ahead.

Here are some excellent resources to read up on the update now:

What we know so far: http://moz.com/community/q/google-s-mobile-update-what-we-know-so-far-updated-3-25

Google FAQs: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-answers-pressing-questions-about-mobile-friendly-algorithm-update/129064/

Advice from Google on common mobile issues: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-provides-advice-to-site-owners-ahead-of-april-21st-mobile-friendly-algorithm-change/128944/

Good luck!

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Behind The Scenes At The Upside Video Studio in Hauppauge, NY

We had a ton of fun with a Client in early February at our Hauppauge, NY video studio. The Client wanted both a Green screen set up with some custom backgrounds as well as a second set constructed to look like an office. Here are some photos from the shoot and the final video too.

 

Here is the Final Video:

tag: Hauppauge video production

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How To Discourage A Marketing Agency That You Terminate From Hijacking Your Website/Online Advertising Campaigns

Marketing Campaign Upside Business Upside Business ConsultantsIf you run your own business, then you should be in control of all of your web properties at all times. The reason is that you can still provide access to your Long Island internet marketing agency; however, you will be minimizing the risk of the following three things from taking place:

•  The web marketing agency locking you out of your website and locking access to your website files.
•  Your marketing agency from removing administrative access to your hosting environment, social media or advertising campaigns.
•  Your marketing agency attempting to transfer ownership of your company domain to their own company (this is a grave and sad reality that we have seen with some companies who have used marketing agencies out of town).

Yes, we have seen each of these occur while onboarding new clients who were unhappy with their previous marketing agency. Unfortunately, some less reputable firms (in spite) may take steps to prevent you from “moving on” and moving forward. That is why we highly recommend you consider doing the following:

Domain Access

Rarely does your web marketing agency need access to your domain name. Common reasons are to help launch a new website or perform work on your email system. The primary purpose is that the agency will access the domain and point it to the new website’s nameservers/ip address, wherever it is hosted. You can actually do this important step on your own, if you would like, as long as your timing is done in close coordination with the agency. If you do not know how, you can use tech support provided by your hosting company. If you do give Admin access to your domain name, then make sure that you change and update all of your login information, at minimum, and do not provide your credit card information to the agency.

Hosting

If you need to give your agency access to where your website is hosted (e.g. GoDaddy), you do NOT have to give them login information to your actual hosting account. Instead, you can create a new File Transfer Protocol (FTP) user with restricted access to only the files you would like your agency to view. This will allow the agency to upload and download web files (which is important to managing your website and your SEO). However, FTP user access is in your control at all times, and it can be removed at any time by you, without providing Hosting access.

A WordPress Website

If you have a WordPress website, then you have a username and password to log into you website. However, you do not have to give that to your web marketing or SEO agency. You can create a new User in WordPress at the Editor (not the Administrative) level. This will provide access to your website so the agency can do their work; however, they will not be able to change Administrators or take more actions than you desire. The User can also be removed at any time.

Google Advertising (Google Adwords)

For Google Advertising, you can grant access to your Google Adwords campaign without giving your original login information. The same is true for your Google Analytics. You can add a User in such a way that they can see reports and create reports, without being entitled to add or remove other Users.

Lastly, some of you have been thinking how this should all not be necessary at all…and you are absolutely right. The only web agency you should work with is one you can trust, either through vetting them properly or by getting them through a referral. Never work with a company that you do not trust. For example, if they do not have a local office; if they are a new company; if they do not have solid or local references, it may not be worth the risk. However, if you do work with a new company and you want to hedge some risks that could hurt your business, then try some of the above steps. None are hard to implement and each will save you time, headaches and ultimately profits.

Good luck!

For more great online marketing tips, join us on our Facebook page at: Facebook.com/UpsideBusinessConsultants

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If I Respond to a Fake ‘Bad Review’ on Google Plus, Will the Fake Review Move to the Top Position in the Reviews Area or Stay in its Original Position?

This is a great question we are answering in response to a recent client’s question.

First, if you do receive a bad review on Google Plus, and especially if it is fake, then one thing you need to do is to make sure that you bury it in a sea of new positive reviews while also flagging and reporting it to Google. The reviews must be REAL, from actual customers/clients. Never fake a review.

Negative Google Review

Example Fake Review

Second, while Google rarely takes down a ‘fake’ review, they do encourage you to continue to flag the review as inappropriate until their team reviews the review and responds to you via email to let you know if it violates their TOS (which in only rate cases it does). When you are looking at the review on your Google Plus page, if you hover over the right side of it, you will see a flag icon. Click it and you will be taken to a webpage where you can submit your request to Google to review the review. This is what Google’s site says:

“Google takes abuse of its services very seriously. In the fields below, please provide us with information about the comment that you believe is in violation of our Terms of Service. We’ll investigate and take action as necessary. We’ll follow up with you only if we require more information or if we have additional information to share.”

However, few of us have this much time to wait as our reputation gets tarnished, so it is also important to then respond directly to the reviewer. Post a professional response to the review that helps discredit the reviewer and shows that it is false. You do not want to throw coals onto the fire and attack back. The end goal is to help other online visitors see the truth of the situation: that a non credible source is proactively disparaging your business without cause. (Note: in general, it is also best to take the entire conversation offline, if that is an option, and to encourage the person to call you directly, if the review is real).

So, what will happen after you Respond to a review that is left on your Google Plus page? Will the review that you respond to surface to the top of the reviews listed on your Google Plus page or will it stay in its original place? Google states that the bad review will in fact stay in its original spot in the queue of reviews, even if you Respond to it.

Here is a capture of a conversation with Google answering this question:

Google Plus Reviews - Customer Service Conversation

We hope that helps. Remember:

1. Bury the review in a sea of new positive, real reviews
2. Report the bad review to Google repeatedly
3. Write a well thought out response that will help discredit the negative review without spurring more negativity online

Good Luck! If you have any questions about online reputation management, get in touch. Or, you can get some tips on adding positive reviews here: 5 Best Practices For Obtaining Real Online Reviews That Will Help Your SEO

NOTE: the information on this blog is for Informational and educational purposes only. It should not be construed as official advice and it does not apply to every situation. We advise that each issue be handled on a case by case basis and that you discuss your specific issue with you marketing agency on record before taking any steps. Google’s policies may change at any time and information in this blog may become obsolete.

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Three Local SEO Strategies Your Small Business Can Not Afford To Pursue

Local SEOIt’s 2015 and the SEO landscape is very different than it was 2-3 years ago. There are still many misconceptions out there about what you should and should not do. Here are three SEO strategies that local businesses should avoid at all costs:

1. Paid Link schemes

Getting your SEO company to build quality links for you (links from credible, relevant, high quality websites) is good. Paying for article spinning and links from unrelated, low quality sites will not only not work anymore, it will almost certainly catch up with you in the form of a penalty. If you do links, make sure they are built manually by your SEO company. Avoid companies that tell you they will build you hundreds or thousands of links per month. Quality is much more important than quantity.

2. Inconsistent Citation Building

Building Citations and adding your business to local listings is important to ranking locally. Some businesses decide that they will use a version of their company name that is stuffed with keywords to enhance their rankings. This will actually hurt rankings in the long run because Google will look for consistency between your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) across the internet and they are looking for the same information. The chance of an incorrect, spammy name being consistently executed is very low. Always use your real business name and make sure it is stated correctly at all times. This will impact your Google map ranking, for example.

3. Low Quality or ‘Thin’ Content

Content matters a lot and is an essential component of your 2015 SEO plan. Small business owners know that blogging can be important as well as building good quality content on their websites. However, on a budget, many look for economical labor. Often, the result is a cheaply written blog or duplicate content, both of which can lead Google to look at your content as “thin,” unhelpful or not informative enough. The quality of the content on your site will impact your rankings. Take the time to ensure high quality standards and vet any writers who you hire. Be suspicious of artificially low pricing. You often do get what you pay for.

In sum, 2015 is not the year to take shortcuts with your local SEO. Take a conservative approach to link building, but do not overlook its importance. Make sure you are Citation building the right way. And, pay special attention to writing good quality content for your website. SEO is no longer (and has not been for a while) about keyword integration—your brand, its message, its content and its consistency across the web will impact your SEO campaign.

Good luck~

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B2B Sales Meeting Tips: How To Prepare For Sales Meetings

Sales Meeting

“Great salespeople don’t sell products or services – they solve problems.” What problems are you solving for potential clients?

Whether you’re preparing for a sales meeting for a large corporation or a small mom and pop business, it is crucial that you make a good first impression. One way, to make a good impression, is to be able to present to your audience a relevant solution to their problem. Here are a few more ways to get you started in the right direction:

•  Asking the right questions: Use the first part of the meeting to ask questions in order to understand the prospect’s challenges. Only then can you determine what the prospect needs from you, or whether y•  Asking the right questions: Use the first part of the meeting to ask questions in order to understand the prospect’s challenges. Only then can you determine what the prospect needs from you, or whether you can solve his/her problems at all.

What are some of the biggest challenges your clients have been facing in your market?
 What challenges, if any, did a current or previous company not solve for you?
 What are the major expectations you have for any new company you hire?
 What have you seen competitors do well?

•  Lay out all of the prospect’s challenges: The aspects of your service that address his/her specific challenges. Everything else is irrelevant. Once you’ve addressed all of your prospect’s challenges, stop the presentation.

•  Talk about opportunities that you see and what will happen if they use your services: “If we do this, X will happen.”

•  Use stories and case studies to demonstrate value instead of listings services: Showcasing your ability to deliver value to the other “similar” clients or customers who derived value from your product or service is a great way to win business. But, be careful not to come off as too sales-like. Client stories are more memorable and compelling than stating a list of your services. Tell a recent client story that underscores what you do well.

•  Get Feedback: “Does what I am discussing make sense?” “Do you think what I am discussing could be of value to your organization or your customers?”

•  Ask for something: Whether to schedule another phone call in a week, asking for the business, or speaking with other representatives who are integral to the decision, this is an important area most sales people miss.

•  Leave the Referrer something: What can you leave behind to help the individual understand the value you provide better? What could you leave behind that could help others who hear about you understand your offerings better?

Other Things To Prepare:

Prepare a one-minute elevator pitch that sums up what you do, why you do it better, and what problems you solve.

After you make contact with a potential referrer or client, what is your post-meeting contact strategy? When do you contact them again?

Who are the decision makers and are you really reaching that audience?

What stories you can tell? Tell stories that answer objections and stories that portray customers who are happier and more successful because they did business with you.

Preparation Strategies:

Be ready to address rebuttals and obstacles. Come up with a list of 10 – 20 questions and rebuttals the prospect will have. Proactively address them when you speak.

Try to give the prospect a tool they can use to self-diagnose if it is time to switch.
Provide easy-to-read, side-by-side comparisons of your plans and try to explain what business profile would most likely suit each situation.

Memorize an answer to the question “tell me about yourself.”

Get good at getting to the point quickly and cut your material in half, in general.
Are there any props that make sense for you to use to demonstrate any aspect of your business to someone?

Explain clearly what the benefits of your services are for prospects by using phrases like “that means you get…”

Hopefully, the tips above will help prepare you for your next B2B sales meeting. To learn more great tips, join in on the conversation on our Facebook page at: www.Facebook.com/UpsideBusinessConsultants.

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I Don’t Have a Mobile-Friendly Website… What Are the Consequences?

Mobile Friendly WebsiteIf your website is not mobile-friendly and your customers are heavy users of mobile devices like iPads and iPhones, then you may be missing out on leads or inquiries if you are a service business and sales if you are a product based business.

Besides impacting your top line, here are five practical reasons to have a mobile-friendly website now, as we head into 2015:

Better rankings: Google is labeling websites as “mobile-friendly” in search engine results pages seen on mobile devices, and it is increasingly using mobile usability as a ranking factor. Mobile friendliness is directly linked to SEO and conversion.

Better branding: A mobile friendly website provides a more consistent user experience to your customer base, which is important for branding and service.

The Future Is In Your Hands: Mobile is the fastest growing marketing channel in the past decade, and mobile search is going to outpace Desktop search.

Sense of Urgency: Customers on mobile devices are looking for instant information and are very likely to want to make a purchase; visit a store; book an appointment; make a reservation, etc. they tend to be on-the-go and very quick to leave a site that is not mobile-friendly. If your customers expect you to be accessible via the Internet, then it’s time to become mobile friendly.

Beat The Competitors: What makes you memorable and stand out? If you want a leg up on the competition, a mobile friendly website is an excellent way to differentiate.

The above assumes your audience uses mobile devices. There are cases where a business does not tend to attract business on mobile devices. Always understand your target audiences’ habits, likes, dislikes and behaviors first before making an investment. Your Web marketing agency can help you retrofit your existing site or install a new template onto your site that is responsively coded. If you do not know where to start, give us a call at: 516.610.0922. We are happy to answer your questions.

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Seven Creative Ways To Use Video For Service Businesses

Video MarketingVideo marketing is a powerful medium. In some cases, it is more powerful than the written word. In fact, by 2017, 74 percent of all Web traffic will be dominated by video, according to marketing experts.

There is no question, now is the right time to start implementing a video marketing campaign into your marketing strategy. If you are new to the video marketing arena, getting started with video may seem a bit overwhelming to absorb. So, our team brainstormed five creative ways to start using video to help gain more exposure to your service business:

1. Ask a common question and answer it – Vlog OR speak about a new law, regulation, trend, statistic or change in your industry that will impact clients. Align the question to profitable service areas that you provide. Embed the video into those webpages on your website.

2. Do a monthly update to your clients showing them the trends and industry data that are critical to their business. Send an email blast out with the video or a link to the video.

3. Make a video thank-you and send it out to Clients. For example, a send a Holiday season video message, or send a video to people who you networked with at a tradeshow, etc.

4. Make a branding video that highlights your company’s unique characteristics and put it on your homepage and YouTube. Differentiate from other service providers.

5. Make a video that asks your prospects to take an action. For example, you may want to build a landing page for your email opt-in list. On the webpage, a video explains why joining your email list is beneficial to others.

6. Make a video explain something complex that your company tries in simple terms. Video is an excellent medium to make the technical easier to understand. Use imagery and simple explanations to make your service offerings clearer.

7. Get the client to provide video testimonials or have them come to your office, and professionally film a short testimonial that you can share with others. Testimonials gives future customers the opportunity to see how much people love your service. Video testimonials are also a great way to help boost your creditability, and it can place a person’s mind at ease when making a buying decision. Don’t forget to post them to your social media sites!

Bonus: Repurpose old blog posts into shortened, video versions that are easier to consume. Then post them as new blogs referencing the old blog post.

In summary, video marketing is not only an excellent tool for attracting visitors to your website, if your video is well produced, it could increase the amount of time people spend on a Web page. The longer a visitor remains on a page, the better. According to a recent study taken by Virtuets.com, 46% of visitors took some form of action after watching a video advertisement on a website. As you can see, video marketing is an effective way to help boost your ROI.

Have you used any creative video ideas that worked for your business? Please share, we would love to hear.

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What Is The Most Important SEO Metric for My Service Business?

 metr-photoWhat Is The Most Important SEO Metric for My Service Business?

SEO metrics should be defined upfront—we all know that. But what is the most important SEO metric to analyze? Is it Keyword Rankings? Traffic? Unique Visitors?

Most reputable SEO’s agree that success should be tied to a mutually agreed upon outcome because ranking #1 and not getting desired results is very possible when the wrong keywords are selected, a website design and content is poor, or if your business does not see desired actions by website visitors taking place, for example.

Your SEO Company’s Job

The job of your SEO company is to help you identify the online sales funnel, help drive quality traffic to your website and build a Conversion process into your website that is effective.

And Your Job Is…

Your job is to make sure your Sales team and business-side processes, promotions and communications plan are optimized to convert a lead to a sale. This includes being creative and aggressive, as needed, with your promotional strategy.

So, if I do all of these things, what is the metrics that I should look at?

The most important Metric to focus on is one tied to tangible results linked to financial performance. In most cases, especially for Service businesses on Long Island, that means counting the number of Phone Calls and Contact Forms filled out on your website.

You also want to look at the engagement and conversion rates of your landing pages, bounce rates, Users (unique visitors) and Goals that are met (these need to be defined in Google Analytics e.g. someone filling out a form).

With Google’s Hummingbird Engine, it is recommended that you evaluate your Landing Pages (and top landing pages) and correlate rankings and traffic as well as bounce rates with the quality of the content on that page. If you have pages that are not performing, you need to equally look at on-page content as much as you do the On page SEO, inbound links etc. CONTENT continues to be KING.

In sum, to get results, your service business has three main jobs to accomplish with your SEO company:

  1. You pick the right keywords and get rankings on page one of Google. These are in-demand keywords that will position in your market online as well as longtail and niche keywords.
  2. You then drive increased quantity and quality of traffic to your website from online channels where your target audience or a customer segment spends time.
  3. The website experience and Conversion Rate (number of visitors who took a desired action in a timeframe/ the total number of visitors in that timeframe) must then be optimized as well. This includes having a strong offer or “Call To Action.” A/B testing promotions and determining which marketing message is most impactful can help you get the best results, time and budget willing.

In sum, the key to getting SEO results is a holistic approach that ensures that your entire SEO Campaign is Optimized at all lead/customer touch points. Just optimizing your website for Keywords will not be enough to get a profitable Return On Investment (ROI) for most companies.

Related Article: This article is very helpful for discussing other important SEO metrics: http://www.inboundmarketingagents.com/inbound-marketing-agents-blog/bid/333001/5-SEO-Metrics-You-ll-Regret-Not-Measuring

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Repurposing Your Social Media Content To Maximize Return On Content (ROC)

Repurposing Content ComputerAre you looking for ways to extend the “life” of your blog posts or social media content, or recycle and reuse old social posts for a new use?

Are you looking to be more time efficient when it comes to making social media posts?

For most of us, the answer is YES.

Imagine how much time you would save if you could create less content and spend more time promoting it? Thanks to a simple technique referred to as ‘repurposing content’, you can finally re-use and recycle older content that you feel is still relevant and helpful to an audience.

But first, what is the problem we are all trying to solve, and what is Return on Content (ROC)?
The problem for business owners is that we want to get results from our social media. Yet, posts have very short life cycles, often just a few hours. So, many of us make one post – we set it and forget it – and then we move on to something else. In more involved pieces such as developing seminars, webinars and trainings, or eBooks, we have a tremendous opportunity to leverage that work for a new use, especially for others who have not seen it yet.

So, What Does it Mean to Repurpose Content?
When people think about repurposing content, they immediately assume it has to do with republishing content (copying and pasting it somewhere else online). Repurposing content has to do with reworking an article or social media post for a particular audience OR a particular format. It has to do with extending the life of a post or piece of content that you feel still has more to give by changing it and making it appeal to a different segment of people or people on another social channel.

For example, let’s say you created an article geared towards families searching for a professional landscaper. You can repurpose the article and reach a new audience of homeowners in a new market; for example: the do-it-yourself home improvement market. It is also great for SEO, and it adds value to your business.

Why Should I Repurpose Content?
Especially on Facebook where your organic ‘reach’ may be low, many times your Fans may not have even seen the original post. This is true on all social networks. If they have not seen it, then although you have posted it, it is still brand new to them. This alone is a good reason to reshare by way of repurposing old posts.

Reposting the SAME older post is NOT RECOMMENDED and can even work against you on certain social platforms.

What is the key to knowing if I can re-use content?
If there is one word to focus on it is “Relevance.” As long as a topic or content is still relevant and timely, it may still make a great share to your community. Or, it may be reconstructed to suit an audience on a different social network. For example, you may have content on Facebook that may be a good source of information to a community you recently started on Google Plus. Why not share it if it is still of value?

Creative Ways to Repurpose Content

First, think about who the audience is. Then think about the format of the content. For example, you may have given a training session to an advanced group of trainees on the subject and questions were raised during that session that made you realize new ways to present the same material to a more beginner level audience. You then write a tips sheet, turn it into an Infographic and post it on your Facebook page. In this instance, you are taking one piece and adapting it to a new segment of people with a fresh format. This is a good example of repurposing.

One thing you will want to do is to find your most prized piece (i.e. a blog post, video, social media post, etc.). For example, you can turn your blog post into an Infographic, or even a tutorial piece on YouTube. Or, you could put a tip into an image and include your logo, branding your content before it is spread online.

If you have an interesting topic, you can even turn your content piece into an e-book. There are a variety ways you can repurpose content. Here are a few more ways you can re-use your content:

• Create individual posts from a bulleted list within an article.
• Take something complicated/technical that was meant for one audience and simplify it for another
• Turn an idea within your post into a case study.
• Create a podcast from your best blog article.
• Turn sentences within a blog post into quotes.
• Turn your content pieces into a slide share – just make sure you make it visual.
• Repurpose content into a webinar.
• Turning an eBook into an autoresponder email series
• Turn a blog into a Vlog i.e. a video blog.

These are just some ideas. If you have offline articles or a print newsletter, another option is to take them and write them into web-friendly pieces that are then distributed online.

Here are a few tools you can use to help repurpose your content and get it into the hands of new readers:

• YouTube
• Bubble.us
• Visual.ly
• Scoop.it
• Medium
• Roojoom
• BlogsRelease
• Tribber
• List.ly

The list above can go on-and-on. These are just a handful of tools that you can use. The key to success when repurposing your content is to make sure the content is still useful to your audience. Your content should compel people to take action – even if it’s just sharing your content on their Facebook page.

5 second litmus test to see if it is worth reposting it?
1. Is it Relevant?
2. Is it Timely?
3. Will it reach your intended audience if posted?

If you answered yes to all three, then give it a try. Sometimes a post was not successful the first time only because it did not reach its intended audience. If this is the case (you can e.g. see how many people a post reached in Facebook Insights to determine this), make a game plan to ensure it does.

Good luck!

Join us on Facebook.

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Is Publishing My Blog Posts on LinkedIn Publisher Considered Duplicate Content, and Is It Bad for SEO?

Duplicate ContentThis is a question many marketers have asked as they consider making posts on LinkedIn Publisher. We found an excellent article that evaluates this issue, and below is a summary of that article’s key points as well as a link to the article, which we recommend that you read.

Short Answer: Publishing the same blog posts on LinkedIn

Publisher, which you previously published on your blog site, is a risk that “has all of the signs of a potential penalty.” The best course is to not replicate content, but to create specific content for each marketing channel your company uses.

The article explains that LinkedIn Publisher “hasn’t been around long enough to really and truly impact search results.” However, the way LinkedIn Publisher auto codes its posts tell the search engines (through canonical tagging) that the post you make on LinkedIn originates on LinkedIn and not a third party source, such as your blog. Because the Authority of LinkedIn will most often outweigh your blog, it could hurt the rankings of your blog posts and could potentially make them harder to find in the search engines. It’s best to avoid potential duplicate content.

Advice: In the long-run, keeping your content unique to the original platform is the most risk averse method, and a best practice when dealing with new content marketing channels like LinkedIn Publisher. The article advises talking about a topic and create unique content related to that topic for each platform as the best approach.
Excerpts (paraphrasing may be used below from the original article to make the points clear):

By not duplicating content on LinkedIn and keeping your content differentiated across platforms:

1) You are completely bypassing any and all duplicate content questions that can be raised by canonical tagging, and

2) You are creating content in two separate spaces potentially improves your visibility in search results, because the LinkedIn Publisher posts will not only be searchable on LinkedIn, but they will be searchable in Google itself.

One thing you can certainly do is share links to your original blog posts on your status updates, in Groups and, etc. However, sharing a link and sharing content will be viewed differently than publishing an article on LinkedIn. It’s best to proceed with caution at this time until more data is available and/or Google makes a statement as to how it will deal with this type of content marketing in search results.

Original Article Source: http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/linkedin-publisher-seo

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Is Guest Posting On Other People’s Blogs Good For SEO?

Guest BloggingGuest posting by itself (publishing a blog you write onto another website) is not bad. But, according to Google and SEO’s, the practice of guest posting for SEO reasons is not a sound SEO practice anymore.

In fact, link building tactics have increasingly been scrutinized by Google over the past three years. Your links are being looked at, evaluated, and they are influencing your search results. If you are guest posting to get links back to your website that will improve your rankings, think again. You may be doing more harm than good.

What’s the problem with guest posting for SEO reasons?

The problem with Guest Posting is that once people began doing it solely for SEO, lots of low-quality sites cropped up, creating an association between low-quality content and guest posting. As a result, guest posting can raise a flag to Google about your site. Plus, lots of fake guest blog posts were being put up around the Internet by SPAMMERS. People also began paying sites to accept their guest posts, which is essentially PAID LINKS. This is all very bad for SEO over the long-run. You can see why GOOGLE got suspicious – the links look “cheap.”

If you ask Matt Cuts of Google, “Should we guest post for SEO reasons?” the answer is: NO. In general, do not do it if your reason is just for SEO.

According to Search Engine Land, a well-known SEO publication used by Internet marketers, “Webmasters need to look at guest blogging as simply a vehicle to get the direct referral traffic, to build up a company’s brand awareness and not about what it will do to help further their rankings in Google. Many people simply forget that the success of a link, regardless of whether it is nofollowed or not, can also be measured in how much direct traffic that link generates.”*

In general, our rule is: If you are doing guest blogging solely as a means to getting links back to your website or for SEO, then we do not suggest doing it. The downside could outweigh any upside.

However, if you are guest blogging because you are sharing helpful content to a community that you could really help out, and your goal is to share great content that can lead to increased awareness and credibility of your brand, then yes, it can be a good idea. You must evaluate each opportunity on a case-by-case basis.

What should you look for on a potential website on which you might guest post?

It’s a good idea to check out the website. Is it a good quality site with a strong design and user experience? Is it professionally designed? Does it look credible? How long has it been in operation? What is the quality of the content on the site? Read specific articles and evaluate. Are the articles unique or duplicate? How many visitors does the site get? What do backlinks to this site look like? Is their SEO sound or suspicious?

Remember, not all links are good. If the site on which you are guest posting is of poor or low-quality, or if its own SEO or link building strategy is not sound, you could subsequently be harmed in the search rankings.

It’s helpful to sort through and be honest with yourself about your INTENT.

Thinking through your actual intentions and goals will let you know if you are likely going to be rewarded or hurt by your link building / content marketing tactics.

        Good Reasons to Guest Post:

• According to Google, “exposure, branding, increased reach, community.”
• You are writing to a specific community to genuinely discuss an issue with a defined readership
• Your goal is to build credibility as an author and SME.
• Your goal is to help others, and solve a problem selflessly.

Bad Reasons To Guest Post:
• SEO, link building reasons
• Sharing a post that you already posted on your website onto a new website (do not do this)
•You are getting paid to do so (do not do this!)

Our Advice:

If you can personally vouch for the author or you have a relationship with the site, and you are guest posting to provide new, high quality content for a specified site without the sole intention of SEO or link building, then you are most likely in the clear. Having your SEO company evaluate the opportunity for you will give you peace of mind.

*Source: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2324561/Matt-Cutts-Says-Stop-Guest-Blogging-for-SEO-Heres-Everything-You-Need-to-Know

Good Luck!

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Google Has Ended Its Authorship Program

bye byeGoogle is committed to Search. But is equally committed to rigorous Testing of all of its products. And it is not afraid to pull one from its “shelf” if the data it collects does not meet its own requirements and align to its goals well. As of yesterday, John Mueller of Google Webmaster Tools announced in a Google+ post that the search engine will cease displaying authorship results in Search Engine Results pages. Google has “dropped all Authorship functionality” from being seen in SERPs.

Here are the reasons stated, according to Search Engine Land:

 1. Low adoption rates by authors and webmasters. Few people used authorship because it was so difficult and confusing to implement. The adoption rate therefore suffered.

 2. Low value to searchers. Also, according to the Search Engine Land article, “John Mueller stated that Google was seeing little difference in “click behavior” on search result pages with Authorship snippets compared to those without. This came as a shock (accompanied in many cases with outright disbelief) to those who had always believed that author snippets brought higher click-through rates.”

Many people suspect that one of the drivers of killing this system is that about half or more of all of Google’s traffic now comes from mobile devices , where real estate comes at a premium. The sheer amount of space Authorship photos etc. would take up are costly.

Proving authorship quality is still going to be on Google’s radar, and we doubt it will give up on developing a more efficacious, error free way to do so that also has a high adoption rate online.

NOTE: the above is meant only for informational purposes as an article summary of an original article posted on the below website with the below listed authors.

CREDITS: The original article was co-authored by Eric Enge and Mark Traphagen.

Click here to read the original Search Engine Land article

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What are Citations and do I need them to get good local SEO campaign results?

citate-seoWhat are Citations exactly?
They are described as an online reference to your Name, Address and Phone number on other notable websites that are well indexed. Together, they form the acronym known as NAP. It’s very important that your NAP appears consistent throughout the web.

What is an example of a Citation?
A good example of a Citation would be having a listing on ‘Yelp.com’ or “Hotfrog.Com”. Other examples include: local business associations, the Chamber of Commerce, Superpages, etc. It’s very difficult for a CEO of a firm to pretend to have membership in a business index or Chamber of Commerce, especially if his/her information is mentioned in a popular blog post. As a result, Citations can significantly improve the trust Google has for your website as well as its credibility.  These are factors taken into consideration by ranking algorithms.

Why are Citations Important for Your Business?
The good thing about citations is that your website doesn’t even need a backlink from the site to get recognized in the search engines. Another plus is that citations confirm that a business is truly a part of a local community. The very fact that there are credible websites with your name on it can help your SEO efforts.  The quantity and consistency as well as content of your Citations will affect your local SEO rankings.  You want to have a lot of them and they need to all be consistent. Citations, coupled with links from popular high-ranking websites and a well optimized website (if you have one) can ultimately enhance your local search engine rankings.

To find out more great online marketing tips, feel free to join in on the conversation on our Facebook page at: Facebook.com/UpsideBusinessConsultants.

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How Long Will it Take for My SEO Campaign to Show Measurable Results?

SEO CampaignThis is a common question. It depends on the keyword, the competitiveness of the keyword, the efficacy of the SEO tactics used and how much effort is put toward a concentrated SEO campaign.

Results can be seen anywhere from a few weeks to a several months, or more. For longtail or local SEO terms, results can usually be secured in a much shorter timeframe. For two word and competitive keywords e.g. estate attorney, it’s best to plan for a six months to one year timeline and then reevaluate your strategy, as algorithms change.

To answer this question it’s also important to ask, “How are you measuring results?” Is it by rankings? Phone calls? Website traffic? How well you meet your goals really depends on what they are in the first place. For example, if you are talking about any keyword rankings improvement I would say a good est. is 2-3 months.

If you are talking about conversions, it depends on the quality of your website and how well it converts. If you are talking about traffic, it depends really on the quality of traffic. More traffic does not always lead to more results if the traffic is not the right audience. In some cases, traffic can stay the same but become more targeted, leading to more results without traffic growth. However, it is not uncommon for website traffic to double or triple overtime.

In the end, a keyword ranking by itself is not a success story without accompanying conversion and tangible business results. It’s best to focus on the results that will be measurable and achievable for a business and benchmark your SEO campaign performance based on those measures. If you are thinking about starting a new SEO campaign, feel free to call: (516) 610-0922 to speak with an SEO consultant.

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Three Big Risks Of Using A Keyword Rich Domain That You May Not Have Considered

Keyword Rich DomainsLooking to attract more website visitors with a keyword rich domain that can give you a Google rankings advantage?

Before you do, think through the pros and the cons.

Many businesses buy a domain such as www.keyword.com. This is known as an Exact Match Domain, or EMD. Examples might be www.longisland(nameofservice).com or www.longislandpatentattorney(dot)com or even longislandmarketingcompany(dot)com.

Some basic benefits of keyword rich domains:

- They often get a little higher rankings power, though most search engines deny it
– Instant recognition of what you do or what you provide
– Boldcasing of your website occurs in SERPS (search engine results pages) when that exact term is searched in Google, resulting in more prominent visibility in search engine results pages

However, despite some of the benefits, there is one thing many companies do not think about and that is the hidden cost of marketing yourself with a generic brand name and generic domain name:

If you have a generic domain name e.g. Long Island Patent Attorney, using longislandpatentattorney.com, and you are in a competitive industry, three negative consequences could happen.

First: You may drive potential searchers right over to your competition.

Short anecdote:

A company called us this week. Their name was (keeping them anonymous) www.longisland(nameofservice).com , in the Long Island contracting industry. Apparently they have selected a domain name and company name that is generic. The keyword is high demand and the service offered (part of the name of the domain name) is in high demand right now.

As a result, many competitors have cropped up over the past three years, each providing the same exact service – each optimizing their business off of the same exact keyword. The company is experiencing a negative consequence of their generic domain name: their competition are easily found for a search of their company name. Combine that with the fact that they have not trademarked their domain name (the keyword), and there is little protection that they have when a searcher online types in the term and then sees the company’s website along with all of its competitors.

Adding insult to injury, their website’s overall design, usability and content is relatively weak in their industry. The result: business performance is almost certainly being affected.

Second: Even when you receive a referral through Word of Mouth, if the potential customer looks you up online with a generic keyword e.g.long island house cleaning, they may have trouble finding your website. This is bad for business. A generic name can also make it very hard to protect your reputation online and make it easy for customers to look you up and review your track record. It may also make your company look “cheap” or even “spammy.”

Third: Many sites that choose a keyword rich domain name may also be over-optimized in other ways, triggering a search engine rankings penalty. For example, if you have a keyword rich domain but your website provides a great experience for visitors; is optimized well; is mobile friendly; and, is filled with great content (assuming no bad links), then you may have very positive results. But far too often, keyword rich domains are accompanied by bad SEO (black hat SEO) or over-optimization of your website. This can lead to a penalty. Matt Cutts and other Google Execs have repeatedly claimed that Google would go after exact keyword match domain sites that offer low-quality content. If you have a keyword rich domain, you MUST make sure all other elements of your site are strong, in our opinion, to maintain rankings into the future.

Final advice: building a unique, memorable brand with a strong, recognizable internet presence probably has no downside, whereas being generic almost always does. It’s important to not be hasty or shortsighted; what you decide now can not only impact what customers think of your business, it can directly impact results.

What type of domain name do you think will resonate most with your audience? What type of image do you want to present publicly? If you are not sure, remember that all big brands started out small at some point and most carved out a niche with a unique name. What can you learn from this?

Good luck!

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social video marketing

Social Video Marketing: Ready Or Not, Here It Comes

If you’re active on social media, you’ll often see that videos shared by others take up much of your news feed—by 2017, video traffic will take up 67% of all consumer web traffic. Social video can help your brand with engagement to consumers because brains process visual content 60,000 times faster than text—this is especially important as consumers are inundated with all sorts of content, and visual content such as videos can make more of an impact than text. If you plan to use social video and jump to the front of the line to grab the attention of your audience, this infographic, which summarizes many key video marketing statistics, can show you how to get started:

 

social video marketing infographic

YouTube seems to be the default choice for businesses to host their videos, but they should also consider other options such as Vimeo, Google Hangouts, Instagram and Vine to host videos and get their content out to as many people as possible.

There are a few main takeaways to keep in mind about these video content platforms.  While YouTube is currently the easy choice to upload video content, the above platforms are all growing fast; it’s important you keep up to meet your customers where THEY are! While Google Hangouts is more appropriate for companies trying to engage in B2B marketing, Instagram is more useful for companies trying to meet consumers rather than other businesses (B2C).  Even though Vimeo is beautiful, successful marketing on “YouTube’s cousin” will cost you; but a pro subscription will give you search engine visibility, advanced tracking and statistics as well as a customizable and brandable video player. Overall, Vine currently seems to be the toughest social video platform to market on due to countless videos that rarely gain traction.

Special thanks to tollfreeforwarding(dot)com for their contributions!

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Facebook marketing strategy

6 Facebook Strategies Local Business Owners Should Use To Improve Facebook Marketing

If you have a retail store or bricks and mortar location, you may have thought about what types of Facebook strategies would be helpful for you. Getting traction can take time. Try some of these tips to help your retail page grow faster:

1. Mixing Up/Expanding Types of Content

While Facebook is a common outlet for companies to reveal their blogs, blogs and text-based posts are not the only forms of content that you should be publishing on the world’s most popular social media platform. Take advantage of Facebook and the fact that most of your customer base is, more likely than not, using it! Facebook’s algorithm is very friendly to photo and video posts that get higher engagement. Post videos of your store or workplace, showing what your company and employees are all about. Show how happy your customers are when they are using your product or service through interview testimonials on camera. Written testimonials are great to have on your company website, but posting live interview testimonials and customer experiences on Facebook are both great ways to mix up your content. Even a video of your customers talking about their experiences is great content! Podcasts, other media, contests, in-store events and other engaging posts that diversify your post types can help you learn more about what gets the best interaction and results.

2. Facebook marketing strategyResearching and Building Relationships with Other Pages who Target Your Audience but Whom Are Non-Competing

If your customers use Facebook consistently, it is probable that they ‘like’ more than just your page on Facebook. That means when they are scrolling down their news feeds, your recently published content is not the only thing they see. For this reason, it might help expose your business and attract new customers (as well as keep current customers interested) if you team up with other companies. Potential segments of customers might like a prospective social media partner’s page on Facebook, but not yours. This strategy works especially well if you partner with a company whose product or service is a non-competing complement to your own. For example, if your company manufactures and sells peanut butter, developing a relationship with a company that makes jelly is smart. Some ways you can foster a social media relationship include content sharing, cross promotions and simple mentions/tags on Facebook. Your business page can even ‘like’ other business pages on Facebook. It’s important to focus on building a relationship with the page first and not spamming or posting on other page’s walls to gain visibility. These tactics, without relationship building, are not good etiquette!

3. Consider Facebook Advertising When Needed to Push a Big Promotion

Like Google, Facebook has its own advertising services that you can use to increase your visibility and marketing strategy. Through Facebook advertising, you can attract new audiences and reach out to people who do not know about your page. You can even ‘boost’ some of your posts to really heighten the chances of your post being seen by as many people as possible. Advertising on Facebook can be very beneficial if you know how to use it and what steps you should be taking. If you know of a certain audience you would like to target through Facebook, you can do so by targeting ads to specific zip codes and/or demographics. This is helpful since Facebook has significantly reduced Reach of your posts. Whereas in the past, almost all of your posts reached your Fans, now on average only 10-15% may. To actually get exposure, sometimes a combination of advertising and organic reach can get you better results.

4. Take One Big Step back Every Week. Identify 3-4 Customer Segments

 While Facebook can be intriguing and entertaining, don’t lose site of why you have a Facebook page in the first place: to appeal to and retain the attention of select audiences. Every week, you should take one step back and ask yourself, “is my company performing on Facebook the way we set out to?” If the answer is no, but you are not sure how to fix the problem, keep the following in mind. Make sure your content ‘portfolio’ provides content for each of your target audiences so as to keep the page relevant to the people you ‘want’ as fans. Once you realize who your target audience is, identify the segment through the creation of a folder. Start a library of content for that audience and begin to understand what types of content it finds exciting and appealing. All content that you post on Facebook should be relevant to that target audience and be posted with the attempt to help them.

5. Capture and Convert ‘In-Store’ LikesFacebook business

One of the most important audiences you have that can be tapped is your existing customers – the ones that come into your shop all of the time and already love your company. These potential “brand ambassadors” can do wonders for getting the word out about your business to others in their own networks. If you do not have store signage on counters, tables, doors (even electronic signage) that mentions your Facebook page and attempts to get store visitors to Like your page, then you are missing a critical piece of your marketing: marketing to your existing, loyal customers. It’s likely that only a small percentage of them are Fans of your page. If you can give them a good reason to join it, that can be a powerful catalyst to your Facebook Fan Page’s growth. One way to accomplish this is in-store signage. Another is through email blasts. A special promotion never hurts! Be creative and see what you can do.

 6. Create a Facebook Fan Page Exclusive Promo

In truth, timing is very important in marketing. Facebook marketing is no different. But when the time is right, it’s nice to reward your Facebook community and show that you care about them. Thank them for their contributions. In addition, consider a Facebook-only time-limited promotion; maybe put up a coupon that they can display on their phones at the register or even print. The key to this strategy is to make the reward time-limited. This can, temporarily of course, spike sales and interest in your company. A good time to offer this exclusive promo might be when your company has just released a new product line, for example, and you want your customer base to see it.

Try some of these strategies to make sure that you are getting the most out of the hard work you are putting into your Facebook marketing.

If you have any questions or insights about Facebook marketing for retailers, give us a call at (516) 610-0922 or shoot us a note at info@upsidebusiness.com with your questions. We would love to hear from you.

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The Meaning And Importance Of A Responsive Website Design

If you don’t have a responsive website design, then chances are your website may not work on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. The fact is that mobile search will generate more searches than PC searches in the very near future. Your website user experience is not only essential to your customers, it’s important to you, because metrics associated with the experience mobile visitors have on your site WILL impact your SEO rankings—and that ultimately impacts your lead flow and your revenues.

If your website has more than 15% percent mobile visitors, it’s time to seriously consider coding your website responsively.

Website developers have to keep in mind that people who log onto websites via smartphone are more likely to be doing so for brief snippets of text, like contact or location information. Attention spans are also short. Information is expected in few if any clicks.

By contrast, people logging onto your website via PC or desktop computer are most likely in an office at home—not on the go in need of immediate information.

Also, in 2014, there is a strong trend of first looking at a website on a mobile device and then using that experience to determine if they will then visit your site on a PC.

The point is that in the year 2014, most business websites must cater to a variety of mobile platforms, which does make your website developer’s job a little more difficult. However, for the sake of bringing in more business and attracting customers, having a responsive website design is essential.

What is Responsive Design?

A responsive website design is essential in today’s day in age, especially if your audience uses mobile devices. Google Analytics will tell you how many of your website visitors use mobile devices. You do not need to guess!

 

responsive website designWhen a website is responsive, it adjusts based on what platform it is displaying on to display properly in the browser size of that particular device. In other and simpler words, if you look at a website on your desktop computer and check the same website on your smartphone on the train home from work, it should be equally easy to navigate and read. To make a website responsive (credit to http://www.studiopress.com/design/website-respond-mobile-devices.htm), there are a few things you can do, like alter the frame width and font size while targeting specific devices (computer science is involved). This work should only be conducted by a skilled, professional web developer. Adjusting media queries also helps; however, you might not have to tamper with media queries if you initially build the website with a flexible grid approach, which ensures website readjustment from platform to platform without you doing a thing.

Keep in mind that, for example, simply adding a mobile friendly “menu” plugin onto an existing WordPress website is NOT the same as responsive design. Only the menu itself will reformat to be mobile friendly. The rest of your site will not be mobile friendly. Only by coding the entire site to resize and format for mobile devices will enable your prospects and visitors to have a seamless, cross-platform user experience.

For a small business website, this type of coding can usually be done for anywhere between a few hundred dollars and a thousand dollars. It’s best to budget in advance for this and work with your web marketing consultant to determine if it is time to make this move. Good luck!

 

 

Sources:

http://www.copyblogger.com/mobile-responsive-design-101/

http://www.studiopress.com/design/flexible-grid.htm

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6 Essential Ways Small Businesses Can Differentiate To Survive In A Competitive Market

Making your business stand out from the pack is hard. Competing for and winning new business is even harder in a competitive market. But that doesn’t mean you should resort to competing on price. Competing on price alone is not a viable strategy if potential customers have a lot of choices, and can land you into a price war. By not maintaining your pricing structure, you’ll lose profit margins and depreciate your brand.

Instead, differentiate on other aspects of your business and your operations to provide something your competitors can or do not. This will create entry barriers for competitors and make your business model difficult to replicate.

Here are several ways small businesses can differentiate:

1. Different Products and Services – Niches

Before either entering a new market or providing a new product or service, you must ask yourself: “am I offering something different?” If you are not offering something different – or something that solves a specific problem for a group of people better than an alternative option– chances are you will struggle to gain traction and your product or service won’t get off the ground.  This goes to the core of your business model and your company’s ability to compete and become profitable.

 

how to differentiate your businessLook for profitable niches with less competition in a broader market to find an audience. Own that space. Then see if you can cross sell or up sell products or services to them.

Make sure you are focusing on potential customers who have the biggest problems to solve and for whom there are fewer service providers.

2. Don’t Just ‘Be different.’ Project Something Unique.

Even if you sell similar or identical products to a competitor, your marketing alone can create a completely unique public profile. Differentiate through your marketing itself.

Use your marketing materials – images, video, promotional materials (not promotional offer), fonts/styling/color palette, and your brand voice (how you speak to your audience online and in what tone) – to stand out from the “me too” voices online.

3. Unique and Memorable Offer

Make your offer unique – period. For example, instead of free consult (which is ubiquitous), perhaps try distributing a one-hour onsite free strategy session.  Instead of an “up to 70% off” message, try a free gift card with a minimum purchase amount.

Sometimes a hook or offer itself that can be of value to a customer can be the difference between getting a phone call or not. It is important that the offer is cost effective for you and is thought through as a calculated risk.

Only offer promotions that will build a closer tie to your business and not just attract people who will take the bait and leave. If you have an online grocery business, don’t hand out free iPads with your first shipments to customers because the iPad has nothing to do with the groceries. You want customers who are genuinely interested in and will be loyal to your business – not the perks.

4. Capitalize and Gain Share of Voice on Specific Marketing Channels

You can’t win everywhere because resources are tight and budgets must be allocated carefully to activities that will get the most ROI. You cannot win a marketing war on all fronts, so do not have a marketing strategy that requires consistent monitoring on a myriad of social media platforms and media outlets. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

Competition may be steep in certain marketing channels (e.g. Google advertising or TV); however, you may find that your audience is on social media and your competition is not putting its resources there. If you believe you can capture and convert part of that audience, you are essentially getting a new segment of the target market hooked on your brand. This could happen if, for instance, you build a Facebook page and it really catches on.  Remember, sometimes competition is not in a space because no customers are there either. Make sure you research demographics and understand the behavior and habits of your target audience.

Establish your presence on social media – this sounds obvious these days, but many small businesses do not perform well on social media. Your company can be different. You can lead in this space, even on a budget. The cost is time. Publicize news to fans and get your name out there while keeping fans engaged with your content. Having share buttons below your published content (which is important for content marketing) can help accomplish this.  Boost important promotions on Facebook and consider some limited advertising on social media where it makes sense.

5. Execute a Content Marketing Strategy – especially in 2014 and Beyond

Part of web marketing is a content marketing strategy – something that is important to consider no matter what business you are in. Granted, a content marketing strategy is more appropriate for some companies than others. It all depends on what business you are in and what your target market is looking for (or not looking for).

content marketing

B2C companies (e.g. retailers) constantly utilize content marketing to reach out to their target audience. From social media to website blogs, these companies publish market relevant content to not only remind customers of their businesses but, more importantly, to supply helpful content to them.

IBM, a B2B company, also utilizes a content marketing strategy effectively. Content marketing helps IBM display its wealth of knowledge and maintain its strong professional reputation. Recently, IBM published a document called P.O.E. (Paid, Own, Earn). P.O.E. “shows, explains, and teaches” businesses how to use IBM materials to market their businesses, according to hubspot.com.

Content marketing is not only good for customers and prospects, it’s great for search engine optimization (SEO), too.  Rather than push a sales message and look to convert a sale, content marketing focuses more on building customer relationships and solving problems, etc. Quality content can generate sincere trust in your company/brand.

Publish relevant, optimized content (possibly through a blog) that will help your customers and not just bring in business. Blogs, videos, articles and eBooks are all potential low-cost tactics that can help elevate a marketing campaign without a costly advertising budget. While they can take more time to create and it takes time to generate results, the pay off can be big for companies who do it right.

For more information on content marketing, visit http://upsidebusiness.com/blog/2014/03/10/why-interruptive-marketing-doesnt-work-content-marketing-does/.

6. Present a Consistent Brand Across Platforms and Devices

Many small businesses do not effectively create a consistent marketing experience across marketing channels and devices. For example, fonts, styling, tone, marketing messages, promotional videos and imagery may be disconnected and too inconsistent.

Or, what may be viewable on a PC may not work on a mobile device. Creating a consistent marketing effort will make your business stand out and add to its public image. Most importantly, a consistent marketing presentation will help people remember your company. This is because they will associate a certain style or image with your product or service.

Conversely, a marketing mix that is inconsistent comes off as disjointed and haphazardly put together without care and effort. The result? You might lose current or potential customers because they find themselves unable to give you their trust.

Even on a small budget, you can make sure most marketing is presented in a cohesive, integrated way. Always be visually consistent – from press releases to your company website. This way people will always associate certain images, language and font styles with your company. And remember: have a company website that is functional and engaging on PC, tablet and Smartphone platforms.   Website analytics programs can tell you what percentage of your visitors are on mobile.

Differentiating your business online is incredibly important for your brand popularity and, ultimately, success. By partaking in content marketing, presenting a consistent brand across multiple platforms and devices, capitalizing on share of voice, and distributing unique and memorable offers, you will be establishing an online presence. A product or service that serves a market niche and is inherently different will make all of the above much easier. “What about your product or service is ‘different and better’ than anything else out there? If yours is a “me too” product or service, nobody’s going to talk about it.” Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable

 

Source: http://kapost.com/kapost-50-content-marketing/#IBM

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Which Social Media Platform is Right For Your Business?

Social Media MarketingBusinesses—both small and large—are increasingly using social media to advertise their products and services. While a vast majority of the U.S. adult population (70 percent to be exact) uses Facebook, your social media marketing strategy is not, or at least should not be as simple as creating a Facebook page for your company and call it a day. Instead, you should carefully think about the characteristics of the most popular social media platforms available and see if your company’s needs can be met on a specific social media platform.

But first… you will need to do a little research before choosing a platform. Find out which social media sites your target audience is currently gathering. This is an important step that many marketers and business owners neglect. If the majority of your target audience is more likely to use Pinterest and Google+, you will want to focus your marketing efforts on these platforms first before all others. If your audience is more active on Facebook and YouTube, there’s no question, your focus should be on those two platforms.

Here are a few tips to consider when you are trying to decide on which platform to use:

Facebook: Having said that, There are certain businesses that primarily use Facebook to integrate themselves with social media. Be careful, though—it will be a complete waste of time having a Facebook page if you are not going to monitor it carefully and stay active in your “fan” engagements. That means promptly detecting if there is a problem (i.e., negative content about your company) and constantly posting relevant photos, videos and posts that interest your fans.

Overall, Facebook is a great online marketing tool to use if your business is trying to gain a fan base or build a solid reputation amongst potential customers—especially customers aged 18-29 years old and Social Media Platformwomen. Comment threads are easy to follow, pages can be well branded it is very easy to use, and the sheer The amount of time people spend on Facebook makes it a business ‘hub’ for many entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. The downside of Facebook is that it is increasingly difficult to get “Reach” or visibility of your posts in your Fans’ newsfeeds. It takes a concerted, consistent effort to drive results. Having a solid social media marketing campaign should be a part of your game plan. In some cases, it is better to not have a page at all then to only post sporadically.

Instagram: Instagram is one of the most rapidly growing social media platforms today. Owned by Facebook, Instagram acts similarly to Twitter in that it gives the user the opportunity to relay short, quick messages to others. What makes it slightly different from Twitter is that its content is largely visually based, while that of Twitter is written (but can include visuals). But what really separates Instagram from other platforms is that it allows businesses to connect with followers on a more personal level through promotional codes, event updates and unique pictures that you can only see in person if you make the effort to follow-up with a certain company and come back for more.

Finally, Instagram is used by 37 percent of 18-29 year olds. If your target audience is in this group and sharing photos is an important aspect of your brand building efforts, Instagram should be highly considered.

Twitter: As previously mentioned, Twitter is definitely more focused on written content than other social media platforms like Instagram, although it has gotten better at integrating photos into its posts. With a 140 character limit, posts must be concise. Twitter is ideal for broadcasting quick information, facts, thoughts, and updates as well as news. If used properly, Twitter can provide just as much of a personal connection between customers and businesses as Instagram. If your business is trying to build up excitement for an upcoming event or product release while relaying a clear call-to-action through web links, Twitter is definitely right for you.

Contrary to many other social media networks, there is little gender disparity on Twitter; however, similarly to Facebook and Instagram, the highest percentage of any age demographic is 31% among 18-29 year olds. Twitter is a must have social account that business owners should at minimum create an account for in their company name for brand reputation purposes. Many people have trouble understanding how to use Twitter and how to correctly use hashtags; however, once the initial learning curve is over, it is a great platform to not only share content, but procure content and research competitors and trends.

LinkedIn: While the above platforms should primarily be used to attract more customers, LinkedIn should be used to connect with more people within your industry (although it can be used effectively so people find your business). After all, LinkedIn is seen as the Facebook of the professional world. So, what should you be doing to increase your intra-industry connections? One way to use LinkedIn to your advantage is to use keywords and links in appropriate locations on your LinkedIn profile to boost your SEO.

Additionally, when marketing on LinkedIn, it is okay to use written and visual content. For example, update your profile with relevant articles or infographics that explain the logistics of a certain aspect of your business. Overall, if you are trying to connect with people within or outside of your industry or people outside your industry who may be able to help you, LinkedIn is the right social media platform for you. It is important to note that men are more likely than women to use LinkedIn and usage is highest among those aged 30-49 years old and 50-64 year old. Every professional should have an up-to-date personal profile with testimonials and a company page created for their business.

Pinterest: One of the key facts about Pinterest that separates it from other social media platforms and that many people know about it that, when compared to men, women are 4 times as likely to use Pinterest. Of all other social media networks, Pinterest is also the most visual-oriented. Businesses that want their ideas, products or services to go viral should definitely look into Pinterest. With an easy-to-find and use “Pin It” button on all content on your company Pinterest profile, consumers can pin your content to their boards and even share it on other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For this reason, it is important for your Pinterest profile to have share buttons for other social media networks.

Google Plus: With nearly 400 million users to date, Google Plus is rising on many people’s social media platform rankings. In truth, the network is Google’s attempt to create a platform that is equally as popular and influential as Facebook. There are a few features that distinguish Google Plus from Facebook, however. From claiming Authorship to utilizing the Google Plus ‘Stream’ and targeting your posts to specific audiences (even those outside your ‘circle’), if you learn the rules and features of the Google Plus platform, you can really improve your business’ visibility and bring in more business. Many believe the layout of Google Plus is slightly more visually engaging than other social media platforms – and we know how important that is.

All in all, it is important to really examine what your business is trying to accomplish in the short and long-term prior to selecting and, ultimately, closely monitoring a social media network. While leveraging connections, fans and followers online can be quite advantageous, it is important that you keep your social media accounts active in order to gain the attention of your followers. Otherwise, they will lose interest and find somewhere else to hangout – like your competitor’s page. Having a social media profile that lays dormant for months or years on end is, frankly, a waste of time and resources.

The key is to align your company goals with where your true target audience spends time on social networks. Then, given your realistic set of resources and time, to set up a social media campaign that can be consistently executed, properly managed and well received by your fans and followers. Any company that does not know where to begin should consult a social media marketing firm to first craft a social media strategy and a content plan. This will help save countless resources and time. Best of luck and choose wisely!

Do you need help improving your social media marketing strategy? Feel free to give us call at: (516) 610-0922.

To get more great tips join in on the conversation on our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/upsidebusinessconsultants.

 

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So, What Actually Is Google Plus? How Can I Use It To Help My Business?

Google PlusIf you have been wondering what all the hype surrounding Google Plus is about, it is finally time to put your imagination to rest and use the second-most popular social media platform (behind Facebook) to your businesses’ advantage.

Nearly 400 million people use Google Plus today. Chances are that some, if not all, of your target audience is using Google Plus. It is time to actively leverage all that the advanced social media platform has to offer. There are definitely many similarities between Google Plus and Facebook, for example. Both platforms allow you to communicate via messaging and video, post status updates, create and edit your own profile (with visual content – we know how important that is), etc. However, there are definitely a few features that separate Google Plus from some of the top social media platforms we have previously discussed.

First of all, Google has provided several workshops and online blogs and videos to aid in your adoption and optimal utilization of Google Plus. Some of the other social media platforms merely let you explore the online depths yourself, so take advantage of the help that Google has provided and can be easily found in its search engine.

Second, Google Plus allows your business to claim Authorship. What this means is that any time your business page publishes content, maybe via a blog post, your Google Plus profile will show up right next to it. For details on how to claim Authorship to be more influential in the online community and increase your search engine visibility, see: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/google-plus-for-business.

The Google Plus ‘Stream,’ which is similar to the notion of Facebook’s ‘News Feed,’ has a unique feature that you can really use to reach out to your target audience over the web. The Stream allows you to share written and visual content with anyone – even people who are not in your “circle.” So even if you are not connected to a substantial percentage of a potential target market, you can still convey your messages to them and increase your popularity. By making your posts ‘Public,’ as opposed to merely ‘Your Circles’ or a ‘Specific Circle,’ your posts will reach as many people as possible on Google Plus – something Google recommends online marketers to do.

There are some aspects of Google Plus’ layout that makes it a tad more visually engaging than other social media websites. For example, cover photos – the visual staples of your profile – are larger and more easily seen by viewers. Additionally, from your ability to alter text styles on posts to include “rich snippets” and manipulate images, the Google Plus user certainly has ample flexibility.

Finally, given that most Page administrators on Facebook are seeing a post reach of 10-15% (as opposed to 100%), very few of your Facebook posts are reaching your Fans on Facebook. Google Plus is not subject to these issues at this time. And many businesses are slowly building their Google Plus pages up to position for a potential switch.

Almost 70% of the search market is dominated by Google. Google Plus is a Google property and many SEOs believe that posting on Google Plus can positively benefit your Google rankings, esp. for those with whom you are connected. The fact that Google Plus has increasingly merged with Google Maps/Places Listings has made Google Plus pages much more in the public eye than in the past. If you Google a business’s name, chances are you will come across their +Page. If you have reviews and content on yours, this is a chance to engage and connect with a potential prospect or partner. The sheer numbers of people are reason enough to claim your profile.

We also recommend that you watch this really excellent video by Chris Brogan. It will be time well spent.

Remember that like Facebook, there is your personal Google Plus page and there is your business Google Plus page (in your brand name). The personal +Page is about you, your interests and your own thoughts. Your business Google Plus page is about sharing content and resources to others online, including those who are not yet connected to you (build it and they will come). It’s important to understand that as a business owner you can have two accounts and use them differently.

It is up to you to use the tools of Google Plus to reach your target market and bring in more business!

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Three Ways You Will Get Your Website Penalized Through Bad Quality Link Building Tactics

PenguinSpammy, low quality, irrelevant links can cut off your supply of leads if you have been pursuing SEO tactics that Google is known to penalize.

Unfortunately, in their quest to find the cheapest or most affordable SEO company out there, many business owners unknowingly hire an SEO company who can damage and in many cases directly hurt your website’s performance.

You may have heard of the Penguin update (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Penguin) from Google by now. If you haven’t, Google updated its algorithm, starting in April 2012, to go after sites that are manipulating search engine rankings via way of bad and low quality links. Google was displeased with the tens of thousands of link networks, spammy websites and obvious manipulations of the search algorithm. The reason: to continue to provide searches with good quality search results. Sounds good right?

Today, we are just going to focus on three link building tactics that you should avoid at all costs. We are not going to talk about what you should do, but rather what to avoid doing. If your website marketing has included any of the below schemes you may need to consider performing a thorough SEO audit of your site and take aggressive action to clean up your link profile:

1. You have paid a company to do link building and that company has placed links to your website on unrelated, poor quality or low quality sites with keywords in the text pointing to your website. For example, a website is about Real Estate in New York and there is a link to your website about ABA Therapy.

Takeaway: If you are buying a “link building package” from an SEO Company, understand exactly how they go about link building. Is it manual or so they use software? How many hours per month do they spend? What is their approach to link building and their process? Who is doing your link building exactly? Is it done in-house or is it farmed out overseas? All of these can present red flags.

It’s important to understand if your SEO company is using ‘white hat’ strategies based on Google’s Guidelines and SEO fundamentals that are generally safe from algorithm changes, or if they are putting your website into risky territory. Transparency with your SEO company is essential to keeping your website safe and out of harm’s way. And remember: whether the link itself is FREE or paid for, you can still get penalized.

2. You have used the same keyword over and over again in the text pointing to your website in a link (known as “anchor text”), resulting in an unnatural looking anchor text profile. If you are suspected of having built unnatural links, you could be hit with a penalization due to over optimization.

Takeaway: Having keywords in your links is important, especially if the page they are being directed toward is really about a related subject and the content on that page is truly helpful and well presented. However, if you use the same keyword anchor text too often, you may trigger Google’s spam filter. It’s very important to build a balanced portfolio of links that combine ‘follow’ and ‘no follow links’, as well as links with your keyword, brand name, generic words, permutations and even actual URLs for anchor text. Speak to an SEO expert and be very careful.

Cleaning up a bad link history can be a very time-consuming and a costly process. If you suspect that you have bad links, get a detailed link analysis done on your website. A knowledgeable SEO firm will be able to do this for you using software and manual research. Ask that company for references from clients for which they have previously conducted an SEO Audit and ask about the quality and thoroughness of their work.

3. You have manually put up links proactively on many web directories, however they are low quality with low Page Rank, and they are unrelated to your industry.

Takeaway: Getting links on web directories is a good thing, if you know that the directories themselves are good quality and credible in the eyes of Google. Fewer directory listings on higher ranked websites related to your company’s products/services is almost always better than getting lots of links on low quality websites. If any of those directories themselves are hit by a Penguin or Panda update, your site could also subsequently lose some rankings if the links are devalued.

Google has gotten much more sophisticated at not only determining whether or not to do a sitewide penalization of your website, but whether it will go after specific links themselves. If you do not see yourself getting good quality referral traffic from a directory or you are not sure, do not build a link there. If you think the site looks suspicious in any way, avoid it. Your SEO firm can create a list of quality directories for you. Stick to industry specific directories and some high quality general directories.

A few tell tale signs that you may have been hit by Penguin:

• A sudden drop off of site traffic
• A severe drop in keyword rankings
• Traffic decreases aligned to Penguin known update timeframes
• You have links to your sites from spammy looking websites
• You have a lot of links coming from blogrolls, forums, and blog spam
• You have used SEO companies that outsource link building abroad and they promised you a certain number of links to be built that is extremely high e.g. 1,000
• Your phone stops ringing and your marketing plan is based on search marketing leads
• Your SEO company has promised an unrealistically short timeline and guaranteed results that are likely impossible to reach

Types of links to avoid (source:searchegninejournal):

• Paid links
• Link directories
• Irrelevant links
• Bad link neighborhoods
• Site-wide links on low quality sites
• Spammy blog comments
• Article directories
• Link exchanges

In summary, link building is an essential part of SEO, but it is also a risky area in which to invest without knowing exactly how your SEO company is going about that process. It’s best to sit down with your SEO consultant in person and talk through link building in detail. If you suspect that there is risky behavior being applied to your account, get a second opinion or look into switching companies. You have too much on the line to not be in control of your link portfolio.

If you have any questions, give us a call to chat on the phone at: (516) 610-0922. Or join us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/upsidebusinessconsultants.

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Why Visual Content May Make Or Break Your Website

If you are not getting the traffic or lead flow you are looking for from your company website, you may want to ask yourself if your website is engaging enough. While written content can be essential for conveying core brand values, explaining details and summoning calls to action, visual content is equally important in that it attracts the eye and gives viewers something to remember. According to the semantic overlap hypothesis, people remember written content most when it is accompanied by relevant visuals. And let’s face it, small business owners want their companies to be memorable and top of mind for customers, who have many choices.

Our brains process visual content about 60,000 times faster than text—something you should be using to your company’s advantage. Your website should have ample visuals in a variety of places (note: our eyes naturally gravitate to the lower left-hand corner of frames) to trigger viewer engagement with online content. After all, what is the point of having a website if those who look at it are not captivated and do not remember anything about it?

Three Types Of Visual Content Ideal for Small Businesses

Infographics: Infographics help to convey information or attributes in an organized, captivating way. Through the use of charts or graphs, diagrams and maps, having infographics past your homepage will keep your audience interested and allow them to benefit by engaging with your site.

Photos: Photos, images and graphics are the most basic form of visual representation and, like infographics, help to keep your audience engaged and help them to develop associational juxtaposition in their minds. When people see certain objects or read about something related to your company, they will certainly think of your product or service if they have a picture readily accessible in their minds.

Videos: Unlike infographics and photos, videos aid any marketing effort in that they can more adequately relay a brand essence or company personality. Your videos can include both written and visual content that support your company’s promotional mix and incorporate your company’s contact information.

At the core of effective marketing is storytelling, or revealing a company’s brand attributes, how a company’s product or service works and why consumers can benefit from it. Today, more and more companies are telling these stories through visual content. Take UnderArmour for example:T-Shirts Not Just Shirts

The picture on the home page of UnderArmour’s website, shown above, is trying to convince the consumer that the company’s shirts are not just t-shirts, but in fact make you a better performer. Note the usage of visual and written content to convey this message to help the consumer retain the message.

Cisco is another company whose website is visually engaging. One of America’s top B2B companies, Cisco makes products that are technologically advanced. It makes sense that one of the pictures on its homepage tells the story of and shows a woman using Cisco Intelligent WAN with Akamai. Written content also accompanies the picture, with a call to action that says “Learn How [Cisco Intelligent WAN with Akamai helps you speed innovation].”Cisco

Quick Tips When Placing Images on Your Site:

• Use images that are licensed
• Create your own unique imagery when possible
• Optimize images for search engines
• Optimize image file sizes to ensure fast page load speeds
• Share images on social media

Remember that that written content does have some advantages over visual content, such as the ability to explicitly describe how something works or provide CTAs; however, the increasing importance of visual content in digital marketing can not be overlooked.. Visuals should be plentiful on your company’s website because they stimulate audience engagement and will allow your customers to remember your message and brand.

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How You Will Know If Your Blog Is Good Enough To Post: The 3 Question Litmus Test

redyWe all have self-doubts about deciding when a blog is “ready” to publish, or if we should publish an article at all. If you are on the fence about publishing a blog or deciding if it is “good enough” to post, here are three simple questions you can ask yourself:

1.    Would I share this article directly with a customer, in person?
If the article is well written, customer centric and helpful enough to solve a customer issue, you are on the right track. If you feel comfortable enough to stand behind your writing and show it to a paying customer, then it is most likely good enough to post too.

The bottom line: Only post blogs that you think your customers or clients would benefit from directly. Do not just post an article with the sole purpose of scaling up the size of your website. If you have a content marketing service, make sure every blog that is posted is reviewed and approved beforehand.

2.    What is the purpose behind publishing this blog?
If you are writing about something, it should be about a topic that is not only relevant to your customers, but also to your own business goals or to a definable end. If not, why bother posting it? If you do not know the answer to this question, then there may be a gap between what you are producing as content and your content marketing objectives.

The bottom line: Your blog should be relevant to a goal you have defined and it should be written with a specific purpose. This will help you stay on strategy.

3.    Is it technically Sound?
Does the article stay on topic? Does it have good flow? Good content? Correct grammar? Is it unique? Is it relevant to issues on your customers’ minds? Does it have a good title and structure? Is it optimized for search engines?

The Bottom Line: Make a check list that defines what a blog needs to accomplish in order to make it publishable and stick by it.

Ask yourselves these three questions to make sure you have a baseline standard of quality. Good luck!

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5 Best Practices For Obtaining Real Online Reviews That Will Help Your SEO

Website ReviewsOnline reviews influence perceptions of your business and whether a prospect may click-through to your website or call. They influence sales opportunities and whether or not someone will try your brand for the first time. They also influence your Google rankings. And they influence whether or not you will get recommended to others. The list goes on.

The bottom line is: Brands rely on building trust. Having a number of real, positive reviews about your company online can improve your  business performance.

If you don’t know a lot about procuring online reviews, here are 5 tips every small business owner needs to know:

1. Reviews need to be REAL: Any website reviews put up on the internet need to be actual reviews written by real customers or people who have interacted with your brand. Putting up fake reviews will likely result in a penalty by Google.

Eventually, they will catch up with you. Sites like Yelp also have their own filters and are pretty sophisticated in terms of flagging potential review spam. Make sure you do not try to manipulate the search engines.

2. Reviews must be put up by actual customers, from their own offices or homes. Search engines know where reviews are uploaded from the IP address. If they see 10 reviews going up in a month from the same IP address, that does not look “natural.”

While you could be a business with a kiosk in-store, legitimately asking real customers to put up reviews on the spot, it will also look like an SEO company or reputation management company put up multiple reviews from one location. You must have REAL reviews and you must have customers put them up on their own.

3. You can build your own Reviews or Testimonials webpage. You may have received email thank you, letters or other testimonials from customers that you would like to share. Or, you may have seen reviews on the web and have decided that centralizing them is a good idea. Well, you do not only have to rely on Review sites to build your online reputation.

Have your SEO company optimize your Reviews web page (or create one) for searches on your [brand name + reviews]. Customers researching your reviews will find testimonials that you choose to share. This is a good strategy to ensure you are putting your best foot forward and it is completely ethical and “white hat.”

4. You can use Video for reviews. Get video testimonials from customers or clients. Upload and optimize them on YouTube (or Vimeo, or any other video site), put them on your site, and share on social media. The videos can then be found in Google’s index when people search your brand name and “reviews.”

Video is a great way to show real people supporting your business. Videos perform very well in the search engines, so they are also good for your SEO.

5. Make putting up reviews easy for your customers. You can put links to your local listings on your site (use icons, text links, Yelp), and ask people to visit those listings to place reviews. On your Testimonials webpage or in your footer are two common locations.

It’s okay to ask for reviews. It is okay to share where you would like them and even how customers can legitimately put them online themselves. It is not okay to offer payment or reward for putting up reviews.

These are just 5 best practices for getting real online reviews. Start with these and continue to build your online reputation. Also, remember to not manipulate search results in a way that will harm your website down the road. There are no short cuts! Besides, most of the time, people can tell if a review is not authentic.

Good luck!

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My Website Bounce Rate Is 5%. Is That Too Low? Is It Too Good To Be True?

Bounce Rates A very low Bounce Rate such as 5% is an indication that there is probably something wrong with your website.

Anytime a Bounce Rate seems suspiciously low (lower than 10%), that should raise a red flag for you. If you see a bounce rate of 2% for example, don’t start celebrating. It is likely inaccurate, and it could be a technical issue with how your analytics tracking code was integrated into the site.

Before going further, let’s make sure we all know what Bounce Rate means. According to Wikipedia, “the percentage of visitors who enter the site and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bounce_rate]. This is a metric used to gauge website performance and it is often seen in Google Analytics. Generally speaking, a low Bounce Rate means you are doing well and a high Bounce rate means there could be an issue with your website’s design, usability, SEO/content or functionality.

What’s a “normal” Bounce rate?

In our experience, we typically see Bounce Rates between 40%-60%. Lower than 40% is very uncommon and higher than 70% is alarming and requires action.

Whether or not the bounce rate is good or bad is relative to how well you are achieving your website marketing goals and the business outcomes (e.g. sales) achieved.

Lead generation sites and landing pages do tend to have higher than average Bounce Rates; however, if they are producing a healthy ROI and the financial outcome is strong, then a Bounce Rate by itself is not a signal of success or failure.

Still, if it is very low, such as lower than 10%, there is a very good chance the number is wrong and there is technical fix needed on your website.

What is the cause of a low Bounce Rate?

If your bounce rate is out of the expected range and seems “too good to be true,” it is often the case that somewhere in your website the Google Analytics code may have been inserted twice. Duplicate analytics code is often the cause.

This is especially common in WordPress websites that end up having analytics code inserted both in your template and also in an SEO plug in. Or, it can happen when analytics code is inserted both in your header and footer of the website. There are other causes, but they are rarer.

Luckily, the solution is usually simple: call your developer and have them remove the Google analytics code (the script they provide to you in your account) from showing up twice. Or, remove it yourself if you know how to do so.

That’s usually it.

Your Bounce rate should then adjust itself over the next 24 hours back to its “real” bounce rate.

Hope this helps!

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Do I Need To Submit My Website To Hundreds Of Search Engines?

SEO Myths In short: NO. You do not need a search engine submission service!
You may have seen tactics used by low quality SEO companies (they usually come as SPAM emails and they are looking to charge a fee) as follows:

  • Telling you that you must pay them to submit your website to dozens or hundreds of search engines or more
  • That you must pay them to make sure you get your website indexed
  • That they can get you tons of hits on your website
  • That submitting your website to search engines is critical to SEO

None of this could be farther from the truth.

The truth is:

You do not need to submit your site to the search engines because they usually find your website on their own. Indexing can take anywhere from a day to a few weeks. To see if your site is indexed type the following into Google “site:www.nameofwebsite.com”

Be sure to update www.nameofwebsite.com to your actual domain name.

If your site is professionally designed with unique, quality content, your chances of indexing are much higher. Your site also needs to be coded in a way that is readable by search engines. If it is not, it does not matter if you submit to a ton of search engines, your site will stay invisible. Most of the time, you have nothing to worry about.

If possible, the best way to get your website indexed quickly is to get a link from a reliable website (blog, website, forum, press release etc.) that is already indexed. If you can not, then you can still do the following below to get started.

1. You can submit your new web site to Google yourself at: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/submit-url

2. You can set up a Google Webmaster Tools account and submit a sitemap there. You can create a sitemap for free on a number of websites only (Google “free sitemap creator”). You can then upload it to your website and submit to Google via your Webmaster Tools account. This will help Google understand what pages you have on your website and maximize their ability to become indexed. More information: https://support.google.com/webmasters

3. You can submit to Bing here: http://www.bing.com/toolbox/submit-site-url

4. You can submit to Yahoo here: http://search.yahoo.com/info/submit.html

That is all you need to do.

Remember: The majority of search engines that do exist pull data from the top three (Google, Bing, Yahoo). As long as your site is indexed in these three, you should be covered. Est. 2/3 or more of all searches occur on Google anyway, so it is not necessary to be found in small, virtually unknown search engines.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at (516) 610-0922 or email: info@upsidebusiness.com.

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SEO Myth: The Way To Rank Higher Is To Use A Keyword Over and Over in Page Text

SEO Myth and TruthTruth: While the keyword should be on the page several times, it should be integrated in a natural way. Keyword Stuffing, the act of repeated and overuse of a keyword in a page to increase its keyword density (the proportion of words on a page that are a keyword to the overall number of words on page), can actually lead to penalizations.

If you try to over manipulate a search engine, they will almost certainly catch you. If not now, then later.

In reality, there is no ideal number of times to repeat a keyword on a web page, however many agree to cap it at 2%. The keyword should be in the Page title and page text at minimum so that people know what the page is going to be about.  Variation on your keywords is important as well as writing for people not search engines. Simply repeating your keyword a million times just won’t work! Doing so will make your copy sound spammy and turn people away.

With Google’s new search engine, understanding the searcher’s intent and the meaning behind their search term (intuitive search) is important. If you have one or two target phrases per web page and then build quality, unique content that is well written (multi-media such as video helps engagement) you are on your way. From there, each page should be built based on strong ethical on page SEO best practices. A careful, but well thought out link campaign can complement your on page efforts, but be very careful about what types of links you have pointing to your site. Work with a professional SEO company to determine how to build links without suffering Penguin update penalizations.

Focusing on outcomes and conversion (how you will get someone to take an action) when they actually get to your page is a more strategic way to think about SEO that will get you better long term results. Keywords are a necessary and important part of the process, but keyword rankings alone will not get you results by themselves, especially in a competitive market.

Join our Facebook community and receive great tips daily! Join in on the conversation at: Facebook.com/upsidebusinessconsultants

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Why Interruptive Marketing Doesn’t Work & Content Marketing Does

Content Marketing TipsDo you like being interrupted?

Few of us do, yet interruption has become so normalized in outbound marketing that some people forgot that it often leads to rejection and frustration by the very people you are looking to attract to your company.

In fact, there is almost no type of media that doesn’t eventually become interruptive in nature, even if it was once ‘pure.’ Take Facebook. Have you noticed how many ads and sponsored posts now show up in your feed?

The bottom line: Interruptive marketing (interrupting someone’s user experience to get their attention e.g. spam ads, pop up ads, video ads etc.) is a big turn off for many.

Consumers no longer want to experience interruptive marketing, the kind of marketing that constantly bombards you with advertising, promotions and sales gimmicks when you would like to be seeing something else. They have many choices of where to spend time online and they want to see what they expect, not what YOU want to show them based on achieving a marketing goal or a metric.

The key is to EARN their attention first by giving them content that they are actually seeking.

So what should you do?

Rather than selling someone something, create content that is meant to inform, educate, inspire and provide a point of view first. Build your trust and relationship with your audience before you ask for something. Sounds reasonable right?

What is Content Marketing Exactly?

It is a method of creating and distributing valuable content to engage and attract an audience – with the goal of compelling them to take action. Content marketing is non-interruptive marketing that is very informative and engaging. It also speaks the consumer’s language clearly. It can entertain, educate and captivate an audience (all at once) in order to build trust and relationships.

Examples of content marketing effective for small businesses:

• Creating a free downloadable eBook or guide
• Blogs articles
• Informative videos
• White papers
• How to guides
• Infographics
• Help posts (social)
• Email newsletters
• Case studies
• Online articles
• News
• Videos
• Podcasts
• etc. (what would you add?)

Did You Know That Content Marketing Can Jumpstart Your SEO Campaign?

There is one problem that many business owners are facing and that is converting traffic into sales. That’s because if you have nothing to offer, people may not stay on your website.

A common situation we have seen: a business may have a solid SEO campaign with great traffic results, but no one seems to want to buy. That means you are getting people to your site but it is not translating to new business.

Content marketing can help be the glue that keeps your website “sticky”. You need to actively give people a reason to stay on your site. Having a great product/service to offer and a well-designed website is simply not enough these days for many businesses. Good content marketing solves this ongoing problem.

Look at search behavior: the first thing 2/3’s of all online searchers do online is “Google it.” If your company produces engaging, problem-solving content that’s well-optimized, you will begin to get noticed within the search engines. An article you wrote, for example, can be the gateway to your site. You can start attracting people through your content, not just your homepage. This is good for SEO. Think about each piece of content as a potential bridge to potential customers. Better content ranks better. Better written content gets shared more and leads to more traffic. And Google considers a website with valuable content an authorative site. These are all good reasons to start.

Unlocking The Key To Content Marketing Starts With Your Customer

In order to attract people with your content, make sure your blog posts, guests’ posts, ebooks, whitepapers, copy and other forms of content are written with your target audience in mind. In other words, provide them with content they want to hear. This may seem obvious, but many people use content marketing to push a sales message, or in some instances, to impress their peers or competitors. If you don’t know what to write, ask customers what would be helpful, think about questions you have been asked and common problems facing your audience. Write about real issues they care about it and you will be on the right track.

Some Do’s and Don’ts Of Content Marketing

Do’s
Think ‘reciprocal relationships’: You want to give a little now to get a little later. It is a reciprocal relationship: if you show people how helpful you really can be, they may contact you to talk about your products or services. This process requires one to really know his/her target audience, which is critical to any marketing campaign. In our case, some of our clients want to understand content marketing a little better, so we have written this straight forward article to help. We are serving an actual need: the need for certain clients who do not know where to begin with content marketing to understand it a little better. That makes it a worthwhile investment for us.

Be unique: The content must be unique and original. Don’t use duplicate content or content used elsewhere on the internet. It won’t perform as well in search engines and in some cases can lead to SEO penalizations. If you are an expert in your field, write from scratch based on a concept or theme.

Have the ‘right’ intent: The key is, if your intent is to truly help someone, then you are on the right track. Optimize the content correctly but do not manufacture an article that is unreadable. Read your article out loud and ask yourself if it makes sense. Keep it understandable and “consumable” for them. Overly technical or jargon filled posts may turn away readers. Simple is better.

Make content easy to share: Also, make sure your content is shareable. Content marketing isn’t just about words thrown up on a page. It should inspire and enlighten your audience. When people find your content useful, they will share it on various social media sites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). It can then become ‘viral.’

Make content consumable on the type of device it was intended: If you are targeting a mobile audience, make sure the content your create formats for the browser size on which it will be viewed.

Don’ts
Write just for SEO: Often times, many marketers will just write content for the sake of SEO. This method may have worked out well 10 years ago, but today, that has all changed. Keyword stuffed articles do not work because they are written for search engines, not people. People want well written, clear, original content that makes sense.

Is viral a goal? Your goal should not be to write something viral but to write something so good masses of people can not help but want to share it with people they know.

Don’t just create it, share it: Don’t just write a great article, be sure to announce and share it through your different marketing channels, whether it is on your website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email blasts etc. also think about how you can reuse or repurpose it later to share again if it is not time sensitive.

In sum, be helpful and provide valuable, relevant content that truly helps your target audience solve a problem, overcome an obstacle, or make a situation more understandable etc. Be consistent, fresh, and always stand out from the competition. Your “voice” in your writing is part of your brand so be authentic, but professional; be informational but keep information easy to digest.

We hope this introduction helps you!

Join us on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/upsidebusinessconsultants) for original content, news, and online marketing tips geared towards your small business.

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5 Reasons Your Small Business May Need A Mobile Friendly Website

Mobile Friendly Web DesignIf you are wondering whether getting a mobile friendly website design is worth it, try the following 30-second ‘litmus’ test: Visit your website from a Smartphone or tablet. If it is “thumb-friendly”, you have passed the test. In other words, if you are able to maneuver through each Web page with your thumbs, without constantly pinching and zooming, continue reading.

If you find yourself struggling to navigate from a mobile device (e.g. iPhone, Android, Blackberry or tablet), imagine what it must be like for your visitors. Most visitors have one thing in common: when they become frustrated, they leave (bouncing back to the Search Engines to go elsewhere). That increases your website’s “Bounce Rate,” a metric usually indicating a lack of engagement. User engagement metrics are used by Google as part of their algorithm and they can either help or hurt your SEO.

Obviously, there are other ways to know it’s time to make your website mobile friendly. Here are five additional considerations:

1. Customer Behavior

Are your customers on the go? If your business is in an industry where people are constantly on a go, such as a restaurant, ecommerce business, etc., having a mobile friendly website is no longer optional. Mobile users demand instant access to a company’s website. If they are not able to view a website from their phone, they will abandon the site and go elsewhere. If you do not know, reach out to customers (ask on Facebook, do a survey, call key customers, etc.) and find out what they think.

2. Overall Mobile Device Penetration

According to Forbes, 87 percent of adults in the U.S. use a mobile device. Approximately,
45 percent of these mobile users have a Smartphone and 90 percent use it to surf the Web. In addition, 74 percent of Smartphone users will leave a website if it takes longer than 5 seconds to pull up on a screen. These numbers are expected to rise over the next couple of years.

Mobile users are very active on social networks too (one of the reasons Facebook and others are investing so heavily in mobile advertising), so if your brand has a Fan page that posts content with links to your website, you want to provide a mobile friendly experience for them when they click thru to your site.

3. Your Competitor Has One and You Do Not

You want to have the edge over your competition online. If your competitor has a mobile friendly website and you do not – redesigning your website should be the first item on your to-do-list. A positive viewing experience on your website can result in more leads and interest in your company. Mobile users are more likely to revisit a website that provides the best usability.

4. Check Your Website Analytics Data

If your website is an important part of your marketing plan, the stats can help you justify an investment in a mobile friendly design. If your data (such as from Google Analytics, a free program you can use on your website to provide you with website performance information) shows that the percentage of mobile users visiting your website is trending up, this is a sign that it may be time to optimize your website for mobile. If only 7% of your visitors use a mobile device, it may not warrant the expense. However, we have seen many companies move from 5% in one year to 30% or more three years later. Especially, for ecommerce websites and lead generation sites, mobile can directly impact your top line.

5. Consistent User Experience Across Devices

The key to improving your website visitors’ experience is to provide them with an optimal and consistent user experience. People should be able to have easy access to information on your website whether they visit from a PC or a mobile device. Remember, you only have less than 5 seconds to capture your visitors’ attention. If your customer or visitor struggles to view your website from his/her mobile screen, you could potentially lose a sale.

If you do find that you require a mobile friendly experience, you have two basic options.

Option 1: Have your web marketing agency recode your site to be “Responsive” [more info at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsive_web_design]. A Responsive website itself will recognize the devices used by visitors and optimize the viewing experience (this is the recommended approach).

Option 2: You build a separate mobile website customers can use (this will require you to maintain two websites which may or may not be advantageous to you).
Your marketing agency can help you determine what is appropriate for you based on your needs.

To find out more web design and marketing tips, ‘Join In’ on the conversation on our Facebook page at: Facebook.com/UpsideBusinessConsultants

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21 Ways To Launch Your New Facebook Page and Grow Your Fan Base

Launch Facebook PageLaunching a new Facebook fan page is exciting but also daunting for many. Knowing how to promote your page is not always obvious, but there are some relatively simple ways you can actively increase the visibility of your page and your posts. Facebook’s internal algorithm continually updates and only a percentage of your Fan page posts are ever seen by your Fans (known as “Reach”).  That is why you have two jobs: 1) writing exceptional content. 2) promoting that content and making sure it gets seen by your audience.

If promoting your page and getting the visibility you want is important to you, try some of these tips below to help launch your page and grow your Facebook page:

1.    Artwork: First, make sure your cover art and profile image are professionally designed, branded and that they meet Facebook’s guidelines. The first time people go to your page, they will consider becoming a Fan based on what they see. Make sure your page communicates a strong image. Here is some information from Facebook’s site: https://www.facebook.com/help/492441920771107/

2.    Clean Url: Make your page easier to share by changing the name of your Facebook page’s hyperlink to a vanity url that is better for branding and print materials (go to https://www.facebook.com/username)

3.    Unique Content: Provide exclusive content Fans can only get on your page. While sharing content written by others is a good idea, it is also important to provide something unique, developed by your company. If people like the content and they know they can only get it on your page, your page can become a valued resource with a clear benefit.

4.    Consistent Execution: Be consistent with your execution. Stay on track and on schedule. A social media content plan you develop before your page launch will help you know how often to post, when to post, what to post etc. Executing posts consistently will show your community that you care, that you are reliable and that your are committed to them.

5.    Website Promotion: Add a Facebook icon/widget to your business’s website for clients to have easy access to your Facebook page. Cross pollinate your Facebook page on your website “hub” in high visibility areas in your website template.

6.    Cross Promote from Content Hubs: Cross promote your Facebook page by adding a sentence at the end of each new released article or blog post on your website with a call to action. For example: “Like us on Facebook to get important industry news, tips, and articles.”

7.    Email Link: Add a link to your Facebook page at the end of your email signature block.

8.    Email Blasts: Invite your e-mail contacts to like your Facebook page through e-mail blasts and personal e-mails as needed. It’s important to convey the value of the page’s content and center your message around “joining a community,” not “Liking” you. Remember, it’s about them, not you.

9.    Outreach To Facebook ‘Friends': Also remember to invite your friends straight from Facebook through the Facebook Page admin panel. Try to focus on friends who you believe will benefit from the page.

10.    Mention on Citations: Include a link to your Facebook page in local business directories. Many allow you to post a link to your page.

11.    Use Shareable Images: Post images onto Facebook with text embedded in them. Create the image yourself and include your business web address as a watermark. People tend to engage, share and click on images more than other posts. When they do, your reach can increase as people see the original content creator.

12.    Leverage Business Partners: Get business partners to announce and/or share your page on their Fan Pages, on their websites or even on their own email blasts.

13.    Reach Out To Other Fan Pages: Like other Facebook pages who serve your potential audience. It’s important to be tactful here and not poach competitor’s Fans. We are talking about Fan pages that serve a similar audience but are non competing. Remember to be a helpful contributor and become a valued part of that community first. Once you have established trust with the page and its community, you can reach out to the page Admin and discuss opportunities for content sharing. You can share posts on each other’s pages. Getting on the phone and introducing yourself in person first (if you are local) are even more personal ways to build those relationships.  Spamming another page with your link on their Wall or in a comment thread will backfire and is not good social etiquette.

14.    Get Your Staff Involved: Add social savvy staff members as Admins to your business’s Facebook page to allow them to also post informative and captivating content. Have them invite their own contacts. It’s important to carefully select page Admins and their level of access to the page. At minimum, train all staff about how the page is used in your business and appropriate ways to share the page with customers with whom they interact.

15.    Facebook Advertising: Use Facebook ads, boosted posts and sponsored stories to build your fan base, if needed. Facebook is a public company and is aggressively promoting its advertising platform. Only a percentage of your posts ever reach your fans (called “reach). Reach can be expanded through Advertising on Facebook through boosted posts and advertising for Likes, to name a few. If you want to target specific demos, Facebook’s advertising platform can be a good resource if you have the budget.

16.    Good ‘OL Word Of Mouth: Tell family and friends about your new Facebook page offline (Word of Mouth) and get them to join by word of mouth.

17.    Cross Link on Other Social Profiles: Mention your Facebook page on other social network sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pintrest.

18.    Offline Promotions: If you have a Bricks and Mortar business, use print collateral such as business cards, flyers, bag stuffers, brochures, invoices etc. to announce your page.

19.    Contests: You can run contests on your page to attract more attention but beware. Offering a promo to attract initial attention may work but it may not sustain a long term relationship. If you provide an offer for a contest, be sure it helps forge a stronger long term relationship with your company or even leads to a potential sale. If you just offer a chance at a new iphone, for example, you may attract people who want a new iphone but have no interest afterwards in your content or your product/service. Avoid short term schemes that may lead to drop offs. Make sure you follow Facebook’s guidelines, which change over time.

20.    Press Releases: This one is not for everybody, but If you are doing something special and press worthy on your page, consider sending out a press release announcing that you have recently launched or revamped your Facebook page. Follow up with the news outlets and use a reputable press release distribution company (write to us if you need advice, we do not want to single any out here).

21.    Don’t forget about the basics: a successful page starts with good content that is consumable and resonates with your audience. Be different, be unique, try new things and always experiment (in a calculated way) to see what types of posts get the most visibility. Differentiate and never become a “me too” page.

Following some of these tips should help you get your Facebook page launch on its way. Have fun, be creative, be authentic and most importantly, always think about your audience first. Results take commitment, consistency and time. Hang in there. If you ever hit a wall, consider consulting a social media marketing company to help you overcome challenges.

[ join our community on facebook for online marketing tips: facebook,.com/upsidebusinessconsultants ]

 

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2014 SEO Tips To Significantly Improve Small Business SEO Performance

img-seoWe would like to share these ten key small business SEO tips for 2014. If you are looking for ways to obtain a higher return on investment (ROI) for your Search Engine Marketing program, Upside’s SEO consultants suggest focusing on the three C’s: Customers, Content and Conversion.

Read the full Ten 2014 SEO Tips article here.

HAPPY NEW YEAR and we wish you success in 2014!

 

This post by Doug Betensky

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The Difference Between SEO and Google Pay-Per-Click

seo-pay-per-clickWhen forming Internet marketing campaigns, there are many options that need to be taken into account. The clear goal is to get visitors to your site that are intent on purchasing the offered goods or services and to then convert them into paying customers or clients.

The methods on how to accomplish this vary, in serving different needs for business owners. To get search engine visibility, you can 1) optimize your website, or 2) put up Google Adwords pay-per-click ads, for example.
If you run a business on Long Island or in the New York City area, which is the right Internet marketing strategy for you? Here are some details that can help you decide:

What is Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC)?

PPC is a service that Google offers to companies, in order to get themselves and their websites prime positioning on the results pages for specific search terms. Here, companies literally pay Google for each user that visits their website, regardless of what the users are actually doing on the site. While the PPC method promotes companies by way of these ads to users, they don’t do anything for improving the quality or online presence of your site.

The actual price you pay-per-click has nothing to do with the sites’ overall conversion rates or the time users spend on the sites for that matter, with prices ranging anywhere from cents on the dollar to about $20 per click. These prices largely depend on the market you enter as well as your respective competition. If you’re willing to pay for it, PPC is quick to do and requires relatively little effort to get optimal positioning on results pages. It does not involve making beneficial improvements to your site or further establishing your brand, leaving the business owner in a win-lose situation, as merely obtaining better positioning doesn’t warrant any increase in conversion rate.

PPC Summary: PPC gains your website immediate visibility but you will pay per click. It is a great way to get your website visible to customers but you will lose your visibility the second you stop advertising. It is a great, nimble tool to get keyword rankings in a short period of time. If you do not have strong organic rankings, PPC can be an important part of your Internet marketing plan.

What Is SEO (Organic)?

Search engine optimization, SEO for short, is the processes by which one gets to be placed in top organic positioning for given search terms. Achieving SEO doesn’t have a tangible cost, in terms of dollars spent, but does require effort in campaigning. SEO campaigns involve creating an excellent site, building awareness about your site online through various platforms, and even optimizing your HTML code.

According to Ephricon.com, most studies show users are three to five times more likely to click on a site in the organic listings than to click on a paid advertisement, with all things being equal. There are no shortcuts in organic SEO, as you have to deserve to be the #1 organic result for a given search term in order to attain that positioning.

Many companies look to hire an SEO consultant on Long Island, ensuring that you get the wanted results without having to pay Google every time someone visits your site, including those visitors who have no real intention of making a purchase or contacting the company. Ultimately, you need to build a valuable site and influential brand in your respective market in order to succeed in organic SEO.

SEO Summary: Search Engine Optimization is a process and is not advertising. It is a strategy to organically rank your website itself. It is more sustainable and you do not pay per click. Though you need to keep up with optimization on your site monthly, once you achieve rankings, with properly “white hat” SEO tactics you should be able to maintain visibility and get higher ROI over time. SEO is an important part of ensuring that any website is visible to your target audience.

Which strategy should you use?

If you are not sure, it’s helpful to evaluate your marketing plan and to test different strategies to see which has a better result for your particular business. Many businesses use both strategies simultaneously or in combination.

The short answer: For immediate rankings use PPC. For better long term results use SEO.

To find out more information on Organic SEO services and Pay-Per-Click, call Upside at: (516) 610-0922.

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Upside Business Consultants Launches UpsideCreativePro.com

Video Marketing in New YorkWe are excited to announce the launch of our new marketing resource, UpsideCreativePro.com. Our video production website is dedicated to video marketing for Long Island and New York City companies.

The videos we create are high-definition, broadcast-ready videos designed to be web ready. We produce an array of videos, such as: Custom Videos, Documentary Style Branding Videos, On Location Videos, Product Demos, Short Commercial Spots and more.

How it Works…

The process is simple. When you need a video produced, Upside’s video marketing division will handle every aspect of producing your video. You will work one-on-one with an account manager and a professional videographer for production planning. Then we film your video on location or at our in-house photography studio at our headquarters in Hauppauge. The entire process is easy and the timeline is short. Go here to view our video marketing packages.

Advantages of Using Video on Your Website

If a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth a million. Video Marketing is becoming more and more popular among web users. Here are a few interesting facts about video marketing:

  • Provides interaction and meaningful feedback. Consumers love commenting on videos. Business owners can use customers’ feedback to solve problems and fulfill needs.
  • Cost less than traditional print advertising or TV advertising. TV advertising alone can cost around $45,000 – $100,000, according to experts.
  • Video is social media friendly. People love sharing videos with their friends and co-workers.
  • Video is searchable and great for Search Engine Optimization. In 2012, online marketing videos have shown up in nearly 70% of the top 100 Google search listings, according to Marketing Week.
  • Product videos create higher conversion rates on websites. Nearly, 64-85% of viewers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video. 187 million Americans watched 48 billion content videos online in July, 2013, according to Comscore.

Upside Creative doesn’t just create visually appealing videos, we make sure the videos we produce are seen by your intended audience. Do you need a video produced for your company? Contact our Long Island video production team today.

Read the official announcement here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/video-production-company/long-island-web-video/prweb11269968.htm

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Does My Small Business Need Marketing or Public Relations?

Difference Between PR & MarketingWhen faced with the dilemma of how to increase traffic to your business, it may be difficult to decide whether you should take a plan of action revolved around marketing or a plan of action revolved around public relations.

Although some may think marketing and public relations are essentially the same thing, this simply is not the case. First take a look at these definitions of marketing and public relations to give yourself a better sense of what they really are.

Marketing: The activities of a company related to buying and selling a product or service to a certain target audience. To reach a target audience, different tactics are used that are associated with advertising, selling, and delivering products to customers. In essence, marketing is the combination of everything that a company does to gain customers and preserve a lasting relationship with them.

Public Relations (PR): The practice of communicating with the entire public. The main focus of public relations is to present your company (or person) in a positive light to create a strong public image for your company (or person). Businesses use various tactics through the news and the press to cultivate a good relationship with the public.

As you can see, marketing and public relations focus on two completely different areas, and therefore, create different outcomes. While marketing targets a specific audience to promote a product/service, public relations tries to highlight a company’s attributes to the entire public and project a desired image. In essence, marketing is closely tied to generating sales and revenues (tangible) whereas public relations works on bringing positive awareness and favorable attitudes to your business (intangible).

Ultimately, if your primary goal is to strengthen sales in a specific period of time, your best strategy is to focus on marketing, effectively maximizing the resources you are willing to invest.

Any questions? Feel free to email us your question at info@upsidebusiness.com. Stay tuned here for the answer.

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6 Ways Long Island Lawyers Market Themselves Online and Increase Their Web Presence

lawmkngIf you own a Long Island law firm and are looking to grow your internet presence, you are not alone. The adoption rate of online marketing for attorneys has been exponential in recent years.

Lawyers now market themselves using websites, social media, advertising and other lead generation tactics. Lawyers continue to invest in marketing strategies that differentiate them and expose them to new, untapped markets. While word of mouth referrals still remain a leader in bringing in new clients, firms that market themselves well online not only outcompete their competition but find new sources of revenue.

For attorneys where your reputation is your intrinsic value, it’s very important to have a strong internet presence and overall influence. The market is competitive and clients are constantly comparing and contrasting firm’s based on what they find about them online.

Is your firm’s reputation strong online?

Are you found in top positions for your practice areas in the search engines?

Where are you being outperformed by other firms?

If you are a leader in your niche, it’s important to demonstrate that online, where potential clients are searching for you on Google, Yahoo, Bing, Legal Directories and other sites.

Here are 6 practical ways that lawyers are marketing themselves online to ensure they are building their web presence.

1.    Utilize a User-Friendly, Informative Website with Quality Content: One of the most critical aspects to establish yourself as a powerful force on the web is to have an easy-to-navigate and engaging website with informative content. A crisp, clean website with useful information has great potential to captivate potential clients. Furthermore, make sure your website is fully optimized for your keywords and the respective cities you serve to maximize your online presence.

2.    List Your Firm on Local Business Directories and Legal Directories: Listing your law firm on local business directories and legal directories is not only incredibly easy, but is also a very effective marketing technique. Besides the fact that most local directories allow you to post some of your firm’s information for free, these local directories help you quickly grow your practice regionally. By placing advertisements for free over the internet, you have a much better chance to have increased traffic to your firm.

3.    Start a Blog with Relevant Information Related to Your Practice: Blogging and posting quality content allows you to establish yourself as an expert in your niche while proactively helping potential clients solve problems that are on their minds. A blog is a great resource for people looking for specific information about a topic and allows for a seamless transition between your blog and your firm’s website. Moreover, a blog is one of the best features to aid in search engine optimization.

4.    Create Informative Videos About Your Law Firm: With videos becoming such a strong presence in social media, engaging people with videos on your website has never been so important. Videos with a personal message from you to your target audience can be a powerful way to communicate to an online audience. Having great social content allows you to truly enhance your visibility over the web. They also rank better in search engines than static web pages do.

5.    Build a Strong Public Image: By having a strong public image, you can assert yourself as a dominant figure in the legal landscape you serve. Lawyers can do this through press releases that publicly declare their recent successes or talk about the community orientated work they perform. Having positive reviews online will allow others to see the benefits that can come about from working with you.

6.    Use Web Analytics to Help Drive Marketing Investments: Web analytics are a great tool to analyze data reports related to search engine optimization. By carefully examining web analytics you can see what your law firm does well and how you should improve your law firm marketing. By understanding the behavior of your audience, you can get a better grasp on what you need to do to attract more clients.

Are you doing all of these things, or should you be doing more?

Lawyers continue to increase their investments in internet marketing. Having a well optimized lawyer website, an appropriate social media presence, and a lead generation strategy in place helps many New York law firms grow. If you have any questions on how to begin the process, reach out to your lawyer marketing firm or marketing consultant. They will be able to put an appropriate program together for you that will achieve your firm’s marketing goals.

If you have any questions, call (516) 610-0922 or email info@upsidebusiness.com

 

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Five 2014 Marketing Plan Writing Tips You Don’t Want To Miss

marketing-plan-readyDo you have a 2014 marketing plan documented for your small business?  Do you know what you will do different this coming year to improve your marketing strategy?

It’s not too early to have a plan in place for how your business will market itself in 2014. In fact, now is the time to be making choices and figuring out how your business will hit the ground running come January 1.

Whether you have a marketing plan for 2014 in writing or it is understood as general knowledge, there are five core marketing planning questions you should be able to answer cold. They are:

  • “Why are you in business?” as well as “what core problem are you solving for your customers?” Can you clearly explain in one sentence what you do and how customers will benefit? Does your marketing convey these points consistently?

 

  • Can you define 1-2 groups of target customers in order of priority, based on which are most profitable and most easily reached? When you know the demographics, behaviors, likes/dislikes of your potential prospects, it’s a lot easier to understand what paths to reach them and what message to convey to them. This can help get better results, not to mention attract more profitable customers.

 

  • Do you really know who your competitors are? How you define your competition may vary depending on the circumstances. For example, if you are a bricks and mortar retailer you may have a competitor right down the street. However, if you also have an ecommerce part of your business, your competition might be more national than local, and based on where different websites rank for your target keywords. Before you answer the question “who is my competition?” think about the different ways you can first define your competitors. Then make a list of your competition based on the distribution or marketing channel you plan to use. Make a plan for how you will outperform each one and link it to specific actions you will take with a timeline.

 

  • Can you articulate concisely how you are different than other companies? Can you do it in a way that makes an impact on a prospect such that they are more likely to take a desired action?  Are the ways you differ from other companies important and essential to your audience? Are you conveying the message of what separates you from competitors effectively? Only being different is not enough. It’s important to be different in a way that others care about.

 

  • Can you commit to a budget? Many companies have a plan and no budget. Ideas are great. But brilliant ideas that cannot be practically executed collect dust. It’s important to look at your finances, discuss with your accountant, and make a budget for your marketing, both annually and monthly. A reputable marketing company will help you design a marketing program that meets your budget while maximizing results.

 

Now that you know what sets your brand apart and what you are going to say to a specific audience, determine which marketing channels are best to reach your audience and figure out how you will get them to take a desired action.

Bonus tip:

Map out what you will accomplish by month, from month 1 through month 12 and list all of the resources and staffing that need to be in place to accomplish those goals. Make staff accountable. Put a monthly budget together and make your plan as concrete as possible. Create mini marketing plans for parts of your marketing plan. For example, do you have a social media strategy mapped out? An SEO strategy? A plan for your traditional marketing strategies?

If you do all of these things you will be on the right path. Get to work on this TODAY!  You will thank yourself later.

Best of luck as we head towards 2014!

[And remember, it’s true: “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin]

For more information, contact upsidebusiness.com at (516) 610-0922.

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5 Compelling Reasons Why Every Small Business Owner Should Use Negative Keywords In Their Google Pay-Per-Click Campaigns

Are you looking for ways to use your adwords dollars more cost effectively?  Have you ever asked yourself “what can I do to make sure my ads are not showing or clicked on for certain undesirable keyword phrases?” How can I get my cost per lead minimized?

If you are looking to ensure that your Adwords campaign is attracting real, prequalified leads to your website (such as people with intent to make a purchase or transaction), it’s time to take a stand against irrelevant search queries.

Many business owners do not know that you can program your Google Adwords campaign in a way that prevents your ads from showing when certain undesirable keywords (irrelevant search queries) are typed into Google.

Words that people type into search engines for which we do NOT want to trigger our ads from showing up in search results (causing what is called an Impression) are called negative keywords.

For example, let’s say you provide a premium product or service. Words like “cheap” or “free” may bring in poor quality leads who will not pay your prices. Another example is if you are a general contractor and you want to bring in customers, not people looking for employment. Some negative keywords you might use are “jobs” “job” “employment” etc. If you add these to your negative keywords lists, your ads will stop triggering for these words.

Google does not go out of its way to tell you about negative keywords because the more keywords your ads trigger for, the more clicks you will get…and the more money Google will make! But, all of the tools are there for you to take control over your ad campaign.

A recent client worked with us to find out why they had spent thousands on Adwords but were getting undesirable inquiries. The keywords reports showed that 70% of all ads were being clicked on by people seeking employment! With some changes, the ads are much more targeted now; they are spending the same amount of money but getting twice the number of calls; the phone is ringing regularly; and the RIGHT traffic is coming to their website.

The lesson: Bringing in the wrong leads costs you money, waste resources and leads to poorer return on investment (ROI). Carefully constructing and managing your Google Adwords campaigns on an ongoing basis in a way that only triggers your ads from desirable keywords is very important to getting better results.

What you can do:. Make a list of all the words you believe could bring the wrong audience to your website and then go to your keywords tab in Google Adwords. Scroll down and look on the left. You will see an option for “Negative Keywords.”

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Click on it. You will have an option to add negative keywords at the Ad Group level, or on the right, at the Campaign level.  If the words apply globally to your campaign, click “Add” on the drop down menu in the Campaign level area. Click on “Add keywords.” Then, add your negative keywords here.  Click save and you are done. In five minutes you can already be significantly upgrading the quality of your campaign. Use Google’s Help forum for more intricate details.

In case you are not convinced yet, here are five reasons why using negative keywords is a crucial part of the search engine marketing process and you should learn how you can use them (or have your internet marketing company do it):

•    Prohibit your pay-per-click advertisements from appearing to customers who are searching for a service that is different from what you actually offer. By using negative keywords in your search engine marketing process, you can better ensure that only prospects interested in your specific services are clicking on your advertisements.

•    Show your pay-per-click advertisements to an audience who is more likely to click on them. Negative keywords create a specialized target audience who has genuine interest in what services your company offers. By separating the market through the use of negative keywords, you can focus on a group that will not only go about clicking your advertisement, but will then make the effort to inquire more information about your company and ultimately benefit from the services you offer.

•    Improve your conversion rate. In the realm of search engine marketing, a conversion score is the percentage of people who click on your online advertisement and then actually go about taking an action such as e.g. using your service, buying a product, calling you etc. A low conversion rate and not using negative keywords often go hand-in-hand since the room for random clicks is significantly higher. A higher conversion rate proves that the money you are spending on advertising is effectively being spent.

•    Prevent misleading impressions. If someone clicks on your online advertisement, yet realizes your service is not what they are looking for, they can become frustrated and bounce back to search engines. Keeping people engaged on your site is very much related to your user experience; however, it is equally related to meeting the visitor’s expectations in terms of what content will be on the page. Every click matters and negative keywords help guarantee that the impressions your advertisements make on people is solely positive.

•    Reduce costs by excluding keywords that do not pertain to your company. With pay-per-click advertising, you are spending money on every click of your advertisement, but you may not be getting a return. Sooner or later, each irrelevant click can severely add up to a large waste of money. The simple use of negative keywords can truly help your return on investment and ensure the money you are spending on advertising is well spent.

And this is what Google says about negative keywords on their website:

“With negative keywords, you can:

  • Prevent your ad from showing to people searching for or visiting websites about things you don’t offer.
  • Show your ads to people who are more likely to click them.
  • Reduce costs by excluding keywords where you might be spending money but not getting a return.”

So, if marketing your business better and saving money sound like something you would like to do, try using negative keywords going forward.

If you do not have time or this is not something you are interested in doing, call a professional internet marketing consultant who will help you. Feel free to reach out to us at (516) 610-0922 with any questions.

 

Good luck!

 

Doug Betensky

Upside Business Consultants

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