Four Free Online Tools I Can’t Live Without

These days, time can often be in short supply, especially for those of us in the Internet Marketing field. Countless start-ups have risen to the occasion to combat the ever-mounting challenges of time management, as evidenced by the wide variety of tools and apps on the market. But where does one start? In this post, I have identified four tools that have proven to be especially helpful in managing and streamlining my workflow. Continue reading

Posted in Advice, Facebook, General Online Marketing, Google, Google+, Marketing Tips, Productivity, SEO tips, Social Media, Twitter, Web Design, Web Marketing Tools | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 9 Most Shared SEO Articles of 2014

Another year is in the books, and what a year it’s been! It has been a roller coaster ride for the industry with search algorithm updates, content marketing kicking link building to the curb, and Matt Cutts taking a leave of absence but not before taking down multiple link rings. Here at SEOhaus, our company has grown significantly as we have added more talent to the team and evolved into BrightHaus. As internet marketers gear up for 2015 and eagerly await the newest trends and predictions for the New Year, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the most shared industry articles of 2014.

The 9 Most Shared SEO Articles of 2014

Search Engine Land

It’s Over: The Rise & Fall Of Google Authorship For Search Results

With over 15,000 shares on social networks, this was by far Search Engine Land’s hottest article in 2014. A long-time lovechild of many SEOs and bloggers, the Authorship death sentence sent many marketers into mourning. In late summer, it was finally time to let go. Thank you, Search Engine Land, for being the friend willing to tell us it was over, and Authorship was not going to come back.

Google Releases Penguin 3.0 — First Penguin Update In Over A Year

Oh, Penguin. The ice-cold algorithm filter isn’t nearly as welcome as Happy Feet. The bane of many webmasters, Penguin 3.0 was received with mixed feelings. This article was shared over 10,200 times as news of a new Penguin in town spread. Many webmasters eagerly awaited improvements as a result of link removal efforts, while others hoped they would escape the wrath of our flightless friend.

Google Begins Rolling Out Panda 4.0 Now

Knowing how the industry reacts to algorithm changes, it’s no surprise to see the Panda announcement from May come in third place with nearly 9,200 shares. This was certainly one of the most talked about headlines of the year as it has been over year since the previous Panda update. Similar to Penguin, changes with Panda are always polarizing.

Moz

10 Smart Tips to Leverage Google+ for Increased Web Traffic

Cyrus Shepard takes home the top prize in 2014 with his Google+ tips garnering over 7,200 social shares. Posted in April, many of his tips are still relevant and helpful today. The core Google+ has not changed in recent months, and this is still a great article to reference when building your presence on the social network.

Your Google Algorithm Cheat Sheet: Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird

Search Engine Land gives us the breaking news on changes in search, and Moz contributors promptly fill us in on how to navigate those changes. Although there have been some algorithm changes in recent months, this is still a great resource to refer to and keep in your back pocket. Marie did a great job of bringing problems into light and offering solutions.

The Most Entertaining Guide to Landing Page Optimization You’ll Ever Read

We all love a good read, so why not have a chuckle while improving your craft? As far as measuring success goes, keyword rankings are a thing of the past. Even improved traffic metrics can make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but just about every campaign comes down to one thing – conversions. This is a great post, and if you haven’t made your way from top to bottom without skimming, I recommend giving it a go.

SEOhaus

The Importance Of Social Media In Marketing

Not to be pigeon-holed as an SEO company, we began offering social media packages this year. Two of our Specialists – Dylan Taylor and Taylor Mak – fittingly burst onto the blog scene this month and received the most social shares. They’re the social pros, of course, so I remain suspect of them garnering so many shares. Regardless, it’s a great discussion of why social media is so crucial to your campaign’s success.

Weekly roundup: Top 5 SEO trends and more

I always love a good roundup, whether weekly or annual. Andy highlights some of the top articles of the week, all of which are still very solid resources several months later. Don’t have the time to stay on top of the top headlines every day? Just check in with us when you can to get your recap.

Tracking Time: Eye-Opening Insights Into Productivity

The third most shared blog post for us this year comes compliments of Richie. As our company continues to grow, we recognize that our team members and their strategies need to be at the forefront of the industry. To better hone our craft, we ran a little experiment here in the haus to identify pain points, time bottlenecks, and ultimately how to up our game. This is a really insightful piece about how we operate.

 

So there we have it: 2014 in a social nutshell. The top three articles from Search Engine Land all focused on changes made by Google, so it’s interesting to see the difference between a news source like SEL and industry favorite Moz, which has more editorial, evergreen content. Our own blog showed similar trends to Moz with a post about social media taking the top spot for both. If you are a webmaster, which of your posts garnered the most social attention or page views, and what were some of your favorite articles of 2014?

Posted in algorithm updates, General Online Marketing, Google, Google Algorithm Update, Google Panda, Google Penguin, Google Plus, Google+, Link Building, Marketing Tips, Search News, SEO, Social Media | Leave a comment

5 Changes to SERPs via Google’s Knowledge Graph in 2014

Throughout 2014, there have been several changes in the world of SEO — from the always looming algorithm updates that massively affect the way search engine results rank and display, to adjustments to the more dynamic and intelligent features of search engine results pages (SERPs) that we have all come to know and appreciate since the advent of the Hummingbird algorithm, there have been some significant updates in 2014. Penguin 3.0. Panda 4.1. Pigeon. Yet, there have been some significant updates to the way in which search results display that welcome discussion, and can yield insight into the way in which Google and the behavior of its users will continue to evolve in the coming year.

Loco Local Search Results

It’s no secret that Pigeon was a pretty significant–and at times, even unexpected–change in the way in which businesses were forced to compete for local search and visibility on SERPs. What we saw from Pigeon was a concerted effort from Google to really qualify what constitutes a need for a local result. In Moz’s piece detailing advice from experts about Pigeon recovery, it becomes clear that Pigeon did several things all at once, much of which leaned heavily on the implicit data passed to Google during the search query, like location information and the device on which you are searching. The location information is especially important, as we saw Google restrict the geographic radius of local-pack search results, and also use implicit data to deliver local listings that are physically closer to the searcher. For those using explicit geographic information as part of their search strategy, this was a bit of a rude awakening as Google also restricted the types of queries and associated vocabulary that generated local listings, and presumably leaned heavily on user data to adjust the types of industries that see local listings rather than strictly organic search results. For example, searching for a restaurant may yield a local pack, while searching for available local real estate may not.

Pigeon was far from a picnic, though generally didn’t disrupt things too much. Search Engine Land even suggested that the best thing to do about Pigeon was generally to stay the course. However, this ushered in a larger conversation about the way in which Google was looking to change local results as a whole. Leveraging the Knowledge Graph, Google also looked at shifting ways to display local results in SERPs. The carousel is now being replaced by answer boxes that feature the same information, providing a more intuitive user experience and illuminating Google’s shifting point of view on the carousel’s UX.

 

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A third major shift in local results was the formal introduction of the now re-named Google My Business, which was no small feat; Google Local, and the host of other names for local business results are now populated by Google My Business, entities that tie a businesses local platform’s local, social, brand sentiment, and content all together via Maps and Google+. This was a significant launch for Google, and should provide some significant advantages to ensuring we optimize local search.

Farewell to Freebase

Google’s knowledge graph continues to help illustrate some of the most sought after information for searchers directly on the SERP itself. While earlier iterations of its Knowledge Graph caused dips in organic traffic, robbing traffic to individual sites by quickly answering the user’s question from the search result, new iterations of the Knowledge Graph encourage further exploration and more detail than ever before. From answer boxes to extended data and related searches, Google’s commitment to making their SERPs smarter and more user-friendly remains steadfast.

Much of Google’s understanding about how particular entities are related to one another comes from Freebase, an open-source database that was heavily moderated and one to which many users continue to contribute. However, Google is moving its source of information and the structured data used to establish relationships from one entity to the next to Wikimedia’s Wikidata, and eventually phasing out the Freebase API. It’s unclear to see how this will affect how SERPs display information within the Knowledge Graph, but any time there are major shifts in open-source platforms, users can expect to see at least some variance with the ways in which new users behave.

Smarter Search Results Using In-Depth Answer Boxes

As Google gets smarter, users naturally expect a smarter search, and their engineers seem to have been hard at work preparing to deliver just that. An example of this that’s certainly been around for a while is the way in which Google displays definitions. Consider the following:

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Leaning more heavily on structured data and relationships, Google is able to create a box that succinctly defines the word, yet looks far beyond the word’s definition into the etymology, history, and root of the word. Similarly, these extended relationships are appearing more frequently in answer boxes, including showing song lyrics that link directly to Google Play.

Updating Display

Google’s commitment to improving user experience caused two small, albeit significant, changes to the way in which they display certain types of search results. The search results now displaying an Answer Box or Carousel now contain breadcrumb navigations for secondary questions.

In Search Engine Land’s piece outlining this new feature, they use an example of a search query like [michael jordans children]. The resulting SERP has photos of his children in the carousel, and a bread crumbs for searches specific to Michael Jordan. This helps provide a better user experience for users seeking to understand the relationship between, people, places, and things of interest.

Similarly, Google worked to deliver the highest quality content to users no matter what device they were using. There are now small clues indicating when a site may be appropriate for a user to visit on a mobile device, which is a fantastic way to pre-qualify a site’s ability to compete. As user experience will always remain a sustainable ranking factor, Attaining these visits on the right device is paramount to keeping them there!

In a seemingly insignificant switch, Google started labeling search results with “Mobile-friendly” or in some instances, included an icon representing a mobile phone for mobile sites. This clearly shows the importance of having a seamless UX no matter what device a user may be using to access your site.

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More than a Meta Description

The final thing I wanted to look at that delves into how Google is using structured data, the Knowledge Graph, and relationships between entities to better present data to the world is looking at the evolving structured snippets that appear at the bottom of search results. SERPs now display more structured data underneath each meta description, highlighting the importance of structured data and rich snippets to help better identify your business and corresponding information.

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Google’s changes to the way in which data is presented on SERPs are significant, and definitely illustrate a commitment to structured data all based on an improved UX. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but just a short look at how relationships and entities are better infiltrating Google’s ability to address topics rather than just keyword-based queries. We are eager to see how these changes continue to evolve in the coming year!

 

Posted in algorithm updates, General Online Marketing, Google, Google Algorithm Update, Google Hummingbird, Google+, Marketing Tips, Mobile, Mobile Search, Search, Search Engines, Search News, Search Review | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Value of Philanthropy to a Small Business

 

PHI·LAN·THRO·PY the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. A philanthropic institution: a charity.

This hectic fast-paced world we live in can be exhausting and overwhelming. Let’s face it: Sometimes the truly in-need are overlooked until the holidays come around. However, it’s never too late to do some good. Volunteering is a great way to boost employee morale, give back to your community, and do a little good with your time, and that’s just what BRIGHT HAUS aimed to do last Friday volunteering at the San Diego Food Bank. We’d like to share our experience and encourage you to make a regular donation of time or money to a cause in need in your community!

Having your business participate in a philanthropic cause not only builds a sense of positivity and community among your employees, it can also be a great way to usher in positive publicity for your company. I’m lucky that here at Bright Haus, I work in an environment that not only welcomed my idea of bringing the company in a more philanthropic direction, but encouraged it. Soon after, we began to plan our time volunteering to assist the San Diego Food Bank for our first holiday philanthropic event.

I set up a date and a time, let the company know, and allowed whoever could donate their time to come volunteer at the Food Bank. At Bright Haus, we have a flex schedule that allows us to work 8 AM – 6 PM Monday-Thursday and 8 AM – 12 PM on Fridays – allowing us to schedule a volunteer event much easier. On Friday Dec. 19th, 18 of us drove to the San Diego Food Bank to volunteer from 1 – 4 PM.

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The first project assigned to us at the Food Bank’s warehouse was to bag up emergency food packs for those in need. We finished all the supplies within the first hour, and had packed up 365 emergency bags!

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The second project we worked on at the Food Bank was bagging up “backpack” meals for kids who did not have food at home, and would take these packs on weekends for something to eat. We finished 825 bags!

The top 3 reasons your company should be philanthropic

1.     It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Philanthropic and community involvement does not have to involve money, a big detailed fundraiser, or even a lot of time! If you are a new business, or just one that cannot afford to drop your own funds at the moment, don’t worry! There are plenty of events and charities to get involved with and donate your time! You just have to look around and offer your services and time. If there is something your company is passionate about and takes donations, donate. If your employees can put in some volunteer hours, volunteer! You can make each event quarterly, semi-annual, or yearly – whatever works for your company and benefits the community at large!

2.     Free publicity and committed employees.
A strong commitment to philanthropy and community involvement within your company can actually attract the right kind of employees to your business. Business is all about how good your products and services are and what makes you different from your competitors. You can get your company free publicity on your charitable events via social media, your company site, or local media. Being a company with a commitment to the community can be an advantage to prospective employees, who see your company as going beyond the daily dollar signs. You could be attracting prospective employees that are full of heart and are willing to go above and beyond to help those in need, and can double as employees who care about their company, about their jobs, and about their clients.

3.     Your community will appreciate it!
Probably the greatest reason to be philanthropic or give back to your community, especially during the holidays, is because your community will appreciate it.

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*Happy Holidays from our Haus to yours!*

 

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“The Interview” to Stream Online – Like Now

Well that was quick!  The now infamous Seth Rogan and James Franco (or Flacco if you’re President Obama) assassination comedy “The Interview” will stream online in addition to playing in hundreds of small independent theaters across the United States.

Let’s recap, last month Sony Pictures Entertainment suffered what Twitter has dubbed the #SonyHack when much of their confidential corporate and personal employee data was released online for what was claimed to be “retaliation” after Sony produced a film that portrays two Hollywood-types being recruited by the CIA to kill the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, after the “Supreme Leader” invites the duo to the isolated country.  The White House has now confirmed the hack from the group known as the “Guardians of Peace” to have originated from North Korea.

Soon after the threats to theaters, Sony allowed for their distribution partners to pull the movie if they so desired, and all the major chains did.  Some smaller and outspoken theaters such as the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Texas wanted to proceed, however as a majority of theaters were not showing the film, Sony pulled the flick altogether.  Then President Obama chastised Sony’s reaction in his year-end Press Conference (where he casually made history only calling on female reporters and renamed James Franco.)

Now let’s get back to the movie’s return to the theatre marquee.

That brings us to today, when the movie will be released online, one day before it hits theaters.  While streaming services like Netflix have been attempting to make history releasing a film online while it also plays in cinemas (what the industry calls a “Day-and-Date” release) with their Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel, (which doesn’t come out until next August,) “The Interview” will kill that films attempt to make history, releasing the film online a day before it hits theaters.  The film will be available on Google Play, YouTube, and www.seetheinterview.com starting at 10am PST, 12/24/2014.

According to public Internet domain registration records, www.seetheinterview.com was registered on Monday, December 22nd, 2014.  The last 48 hours at Sony have been busy, with plans to stream online hatched just this week.  We’ve sure come a long way from the film distribution of yesteryear where a film’s rolls had to be printed and shipped via courier to cinemas across the country and globe.  Will this film pave the way for other more adventurous, or less mainstream films to skip the traditional model and head straight to your living room?  Certainly the President’s free publicity, and the intense media coverage will give this film a head start, but if this film is a success perhaps it is the start of a new trend.

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Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Group Brainstorming Session

Somewhere in an office right now, an employee is guarding his computer like a hawk. He’s trying to protect his latest great idea to prevent a fellow employee from stealing the idea, or taking the credit – and the spotlight.

That office is not SEOhaus. You see, as I have learned quickly at SEOhaus, we appreciate the power of a good group brainstorm session, and feeding off of each other to get the job done. Our clients thank us for that for one reason: it gets results.

We recently had a client who wanted to switch gears on his campaign to promote a more humorous, light-hearted undertone. It being a unique niche, it wasn’t easy to get the thought process flowing so a co-worker put the idea out on the floor. Within 6 minutes we had more than a dozen ideas – many worthy of reporting back to the client.

And that was just the beginning of things going well for the account. The results of our brainstorm – and the social campaign that followed – yielded huge results for the client. We’re talking a 98% increase over their average social shares. It also led to 60% more social referrals than their previously best-performing post.

Skeptical that a brainstorm alone can yield these results? Check out why we think it’s so great, and how you can incorporate it into your work life.

So What’s So Great about Group Brainstorming?


A Diverse Point of View
No matter what industry you’re in, chances are that your clients each have very diverse customer bases. And unless you change personalities as often as a teenager girl changes outfits, you’re not going to be able to put yourself in those customers’ shoes to truly understand their needs and wants, or the best channels to reach them. When you brainstorm as a group, however, you’re diversifying the mindset. Each person involved has unique experience that will shape the way they respond to the task, or issue at hand. Let this work to your benefit. This can give you many different angles that you previously may not have considered on your own. Sure, you could spend tons of time and even money on market research (and for some clients you’ll have to), but you’d be surprised what a nice sample your very own office can provide.

In this case, our goal was to expose our client’s website to new audiences and ultimately increase their client base. By gathering ideas from the group, we were able to appeal to the humor of a diverse group of people. When we reported these ideas back to the client, they were impressed with the creative and broad-appeal topics we came up with in such a short period of time. And ultimately, this approach helped us attract the likes and shares we were looking for.

It Can Get the Ball Rolling
We’ve all been there before, staring at a project for what seems like forever – and getting nowhere. Sometimes all you need is a little push in the right direction. Opening the floor for discussion can be that bit of help that gets your own mind churning and the ideas flowing. And that effect is magnified amongst all the participants of the brainstorm. It’s pretty remarkable how quickly employees can build upon each other ideas to arrive at a great final product.

With this example, it took a few minutes to get the first idea on the table, but once it was there, everyone was able to build off of each idea and make improvements, until we reached the final ideas to present.

Creates a Better Working Environment
Just as a supportive, collaborative working environment is needed to even allow brainstorming to begin, brainstorming can in-turn nurture that working environment. It’s a symbiotic relationship of sorts. Think about it: would you rather be the guy huddled at your desk by yourself or have an open, supportive relationship with your co-workers?

We must warn though, doing this consistently can lead people to get REALLY open. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say it’s a good thing HR was on lunch during this particular brainstorm. But as long as you’re okay with knowing just a bit more about your co-workers than most would – go for it! Trust us, the benefits are usually well worth a few awkward stares.

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Make It Happen

You will hear a lot of businesses talk about teamwork and collaboration, but it takes a conscious effort to actually walk the walk. If you think your office collaboration could use a bit of work to really foster solid brainstorming and teamwork, here are some ideas to get started.

  1. Chat It Up
    Having an employee chat room can serve as an open forum throughout the day – a place to bounce ideas off of each other, ask questions about common clients, or get feedback on work. Of course, you’ll want to set guidelines to prevent misuse of the software, but in most cases employees will use the tool for good, not evil.
  2. Open Spaces
    Some offices lend themselves to an open floor plan, but for others it will take a bit more work. Either way, having an open office environment, or even a common room employees can retreat to (that’s not the water cooler) can open the doors of communication. Individuals are much more likely to collaborate if they’re physically interacting with each other, not just email addresses.
  3. Create a No-Judgment Zone
    If employees have any inkling that their ideas will be balked at, demeaned or otherwise not valued, they’re not going to go all-in during the brainstorm session. Don’t allow negativity during group brainstorms. For brainstorming to work well, all those involved, particularly the decision makers need to “think gray.” Thinking gray can apply to most business decisions, and essentially means hold off on forming opinions until you’ve heard all sides. You’d be surprised what emerges as the clear winner after everything is laid out on the table.

Give It a Shot

Though sometimes it can seem easier to stay organized and complete tasks by making them your sole responsibility, asking for a little help from the group can yield impressive results for your clients – and when they win, everybody wins. So next time you’re feeling stuck on an idea or need a bit of creative juice, open it up to the floor and trust the process. And in case you still need help brainstorming more brainstorming ideas, check out some of these tips, from Inc.com and Open Ideo.

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7 Tips for Building Links Without Creating Content

Google’s love affair with informative and useful content is well documented. In order to build a strong backlink profile, creating great content is reportedly the only method that works. While original and useful content should never be ignored, when time is short or topics are scarce, you can fall back on these 7 link building strategies.

1. Testimonials

If you’re using a product that you like, consider writing a testimonial on your site about the product. When you’ve created the testimonial, contact the company and let them know that they can put the testimonial on their site. Most companies like to show that real people are using their products and will link back to the testimonial on your site.

2. Event Link Building

Event link building is perfect for a company that is planning on hosting a local event for its customers and the general public. The idea behind this is that you reach out to newspapers, local travel sites, and event magazines and let them know that your company is planning to host an event for the public. You provide the location, date, time, name of the company, and a link back to your site. This is a great way to publicize the event you’re hosting, establish a new relationship with a valued online site, and receive an authoritative link.

3. Expired or Moved Sites

Hundreds of sites either shut down or get moved daily, which means that these sites’ backlink profiles make a great target list for outreach. The most difficult part of this process is identifying the sites that have shut down or moved. A list of appropriate sites can be found by using search strings like:

  • “target keyword” + rebranding
  • “target keyword” + out of business

Once you have your list of sites, you select one and plug in the URL into a tool like Majestic SEO or Ahrefs. These tools give you a comprehensive backlink profile for that moved domain. The next step would be to go to these links and identify the sites that make sense to get links from. Once the sites are identified, send an outreach email to the admin of those sites letting them know that they are linking to an outdated, non-existent site and that you would love to offer your site as a replacement.

4. Blog Aggregators

Blog aggregators are sites that aggregate blogs from different industries to make them easier to access for the user. In order to have your site appear on an aggregator, like AllTop, you are required to:

  • Submit your site.
  • Add special HTML code to your site to confirm that you’re the owner.
  • Wait for someone from the aggregator to stop by and take a look at your site.

Once your site is approved, you will have your own section in the aggregator with a dofollow link. Great return for very little work.

5. Broken Link Building

Broken link building is as old as the Internet itself. It’s simple to implement as well. By using search strings like:

  • “target keyword” + “resources page”
  • “target keyword” + “recommended sites”

You can identify the resources pages within your niche. By using Chrome’s Check My Links plugin, you can quickly find any broken links that a page has. Once you have your list of broken links, send an email with the list to the site admin and mention that your site would be a great replacement for one of those broken links. The site owner should be happy to include your link within his or her site.

6. Donations

Contributing to a donation not only makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, but also gives you the opportunity to get a link from that charity. First, identify which charities list their donors on their sites (usually in the resources page). Once you have your list of charities, pick a few that you would like to donate to and ask for a link back to your site. You’re not only doing a good deed, but also helping yourself.

7. Google +

Google+ allows contextual dofollow links on your profile. In order to actually see the link as dofollow, you must be signed out of your Google+ account. With enough interaction within Google+ and direct linking to your profile, you can realistically make it a powerful link.

Do you have any suggestions for building links without content? Let us know in the comments.

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The Importance of Social Media in Marketing

Whether you’re a business or an online community, you know the importance of standing out from the crowd and creating your own voice. The question is, how is this done effectively today? As the competition becomes tougher, and the market more saturated, new ways to market yourself have become widely used among businesses to achieve growth. Though there may be several new effective ways to do this, Social Media is one of the most effective of these methods.

For years now, businesses have had real success with marketing on social media platforms. Now with almost 2 billion people using social media, there are more opportunities than ever to attract new customers and build a solid online community for your business. Here’s a look at just some of the ways social media can improve your business.

Brand Authority/Loyalty

Having a clear and consistent image of your brand gives you the power to influence millions of people.  As a powerful voice online, you have the ability to attract new audiences and make your brand grow further than what you might have expected. Brand loyalty is positively affected when a company posts consistent, quality content that is relevant and up-to-date, and is shared consistently across all other social platforms. Make sure you have what it takes to be consistent with your social media channels. You might think, what does it mean to be consistent online? There is nothing worse than developing your brand offline, and have nothing to show for your fans. Remember these key things:

  • Create an editorial and campaign calendar for content and schedule social posts to go out using social media management systems like Hootsuite or Buffer.
  • Build a strategy that defines who you are as a brand and what type of message you want to send out. Are you a lifestyle brand catered to outdoorsy men? Are you a luxury brand providing services to young, successful professionals? Understanding who you are will enable you to find a direction for your online presence.
  • Identify your audience using tools like Facebook Insights, Followerwonk, and Google Analytics. That way, you can provide them with content that is relative to your brand but also taps into their interests and demographics.
  • Engage! Write your posts in a manner that is fun and interesting to your readers. The whole point of social media is to share and communicate. Treat your audience as your close friends by connecting with them in a way that they value.

Relationship Building

Brands that are established on social media have proven to have a positive influence on company to customer trust. Developing a well-focused marketing strategy, rather than a broad strategy, will attract the right audience for your brand.  Make the message loud and clear to your target audience. Once you build your message with consistency and truth that holds to your brand’s values and culture, the more trust you will gain from your follower base. However, trust can’t be built overnight.  Success with your customers requires more listening than talking. Things to consider:

  • Experiment with content to see what works and what doesn’t work, and strategize based on that.
  • Get to know your online audience. See what they react to, what they engage with, and research who they are using web-based tools. Knowing is understanding.
  • Be specific and focused with your content. Users want that credibility from you and want to feel that you are taking the time to acknowledge them and developing a community they can feel a part of.

Better Search Engine Rankings

Search Engine Optimization is the best way to catch traffic from search engines, but thanks to Google, the requirements are always changing. Being social is the fastest way to multiply your online presence. That’s what social media is all about– being social! (Crazy, right?) Being active on social media acts as a “brand signal” to search engines that your brand is legitimate, has authority, and is credible and trustworthy. While social media sends important signals that make their way back to Google, it can’t consistently crawl platforms like Facebook and Twitter, just portions of those pages, so likes and shares aren’t really a ranking factor. However, a strong social presence can positively influence your rankings.

Another Window to Increase Conversions

Every post you make on social media is an opportunity for an individual to become a customer. Every photo, video, like, or comment you post equates to brand exposure, which could lead to a site visit and potentially a conversion. Not every status update or tweet results in a conversion. However, positive interaction with your audience creates a humanization element behind your brand. People like doing business with other people, not companies. Your customers want to know that there are people, just like them, hard at work to meet their needs.

It’s no secret that social media will continue to have a significant impact on business owners and marketers in 2014 and beyond. We now have the ability to reach out and communicate with our target audience on a day-to-day basis. This is a game changer for businesses; an approach that has never been done with traditional marketing. Social media, when done right, can lead to more traffic, more customers, and more conversions. What are you waiting for?

 

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Starting from square one: the 5 best online SEO resources

Like quite a few people I’ve met, I really fell into SEO headfirst. It wasn’t what I went to school for, and I knew of it only in a peripheral sense. A couple years ago, I was working in-house for a private company’s marketing department, when I was asked to “take care of the SEO” — which I discovered soon after meant making tweaks and changes to the internal Yoast plugin.

I knew it had to be more than some simple plugin or else everyone would be doing it. I had to start from square one, so I started doing research — a lot of research. During this back-to-the-basics process, I learned that there are hundreds upon hundreds of how-to SEO resources. Despite the plethora of sites that claimed to know what they were talking about, I kept circling back to a select few.

So here is a list of my favorite search engine optimization resources; these are my 5 “square ones”:

Moz.com

The brain child of the one and only, Rand Fishkin, SEO guru and one of the biggest names in the industry. Moz.com became somewhat of a marketing bible for me. Their Beginner’s Guides where nearly unmatched in their level of knowledge and detail in addition to the exercises at the end of each chapter which we clear and easy to understand the concepts being portrayed.

In addition, as if the Beginner’s Guiders weren’t enough to turn your n00b SEO brain into mush, Moz supplemented their guides with pages upon pages on top of more pages of resources, blogs, tips and tricks, and the very popular, White Board Fridays.

Search Engine Land

Search Engine Land can be daunting at first. Above the fold, the homepage is essentially a collage of images with big headlines on them. However, once you dive into one of the topic sections from the tool bar it becomes more manageable. Search Engine Land is essentially an article site, with tons of articles about random SEO based topics, but it’s the “What is SEO?” page that puts Search Engine Land on this list.

They start your off with a video explanation of what SEO is, followed by what is one of my favorite pieces of SEO knowledge, The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors. This table breaks the influence every factor of SEO has both positively and negatively based on 7 factors: Content, HTML, Architecture, Links, Trust, Social, and Personal. Each one of these is further explained in the chapters following in the guide.

Kiss Metrics Blog

My favorite thing about this blog is that Kiss Metrics doesn’t just stick with traditional topics for their tutorials. Yeah, they have introduction courses about SEO and PPC, but the fun part about Kiss Metrics is the topics that you might not think about at first, for example, “How Colors Affect Conversion” or “The 7 Deadly Sins of Landing Page Design”. Their topics are unique and innovative and come in infographic, text, or webinar form. Kiss Metrics is great for once you have a little bit of knowledge under your belt and want to start drilling down into more specific topics.

Search Engine Journal

SearchEngineJournal (SEJ) is similar to its other counterpart SearchEngineLand and that is by no means a bad thing. Overall layout and design resemble each other so if you’re familiar with one you can navigate the other with ease.

The thing that made SEJ stand out for me was “SEJ’s Guide to SEO”. Now I know there are plenty of other guides out there, but the appeal for me about this one is how straight forward it is. There aren’t loads of images or arrows with small text or other forms of clipart. It is straight text and packed full of useful up-to-date information.

Quick Sprout

Video tutorials about SEO are easy to come by, just go to YouTube, type in SEO, pick a video and hope the person who made it knows what they are talking about…assuming you can understand them through horrible audio quality or thick accents from wherever they are from. Or, you can go to QuickSprout’s University. The University offers short video tutorials that are easy to understand, descriptive, and most importantly skill based. Each topic is broken down into a beginner, intermediate, and advanced knowledge level so that your bright eyed and bushy tailed brain doesn’t get overloaded and discouraged by topics that are way above your level of understanding.

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SEO for local stores with national ecommerce websites

Why sell to just one city when you can sell to the whole country? Foot traffic is still a great way to offer services and sell products, but many local stores have gotten into the national market and want national results without hurting their local search rank.

Does optimizing for my local store negatively impact my national search rank?

No, but it is important to have dedicated pages for your local stores. If you have multiple stores, include a location finder with a page dedicated to each location. Share as much information that is relevant to this specific location, like it’s hours, local coupons, contact info and directions.  Additionally, don’t neglect your product or service on these local pages.  Andy’s Pizza Place, is inline with likely search terms, but if your name it Andy’s Place, emphasis Pizza in the local pages in addition to the physical location.

Should I include my in store inventory online?

Ideally, users would have the ability to identify the physical store location where a product is available in addition to online purchasing options.   You don’t want to hurt local sales at the expense of online sales. Provide the buyer with the best information and let them choose how they prefer to purchase.  A product you offer may potentially be available on 100+ online stores, but buying options in your local market are certainly more limited.  “Available for pickup today”, can be a compelling marketing tool that gives you a heads-up on the Amazons of the ecommerce marketplace.

My location is in the metro area but outside of the city proper

Google does include distance in it’s ranking factors, but they also allow you to designate your service area in Google+.  Using a fake address, changing the location of the pin in Google maps, or using a PO Box, will result in a penalty.  You can add another legitimate address within the city, where you meet clients or conduct business, even though it isn’t your headquarters.

Here are a few tips for your local page:

  • Add a few direction from local land marks or populated areas
  • Add geo tagged photos of you store location
  • Remove address and Google+ from product pages and focus on a single local landing page (per location)
  • Get quality links from authoritative local domains to your local landing page

Do reviews help national or local SEO?

You want to encourage reviews for your store location and your ecommerce products.  Positive reviews should be encouraged on any user generated review site, i.e., Yelp, Yahoo, Zagat, etc., but keep in mind that, although these reviews may impact your search rank, they will not be visible in good search results, these are now exclusively Google+ reviews. Encourage real reviews from real customers.  Google will filter spammy reviews and could potential penalize you for fake reviews.

Implementing the proper schema makeup on your products pages allow search engines to identify the product name, description and rating, and can then pull that data into search engine results.

My local rank dropped after a Penguin update

After the Penguin 2.0, many local businesses with low quality links from directors were penalized.  Make sure your links and directory listing are coming from industry relevant sources.

You should identify and delete the low quality and irrelevant links and focus on sites that are related to your business and sites which see user generated reviews and content.

Summary

Organically ranking locally is much different than ranking nationally, but your efforts for both depended on quality, unique content onsite and real user generated content offsite.  Massive unrelated links and fake reviews that used to work now cause penalties.

Posted in Local SEO, SEO tips | 1 Comment