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64 posts categorized "SEO"

February 08, 2012



Competitions
Hopefully, by this point in the year small business owners are finally able to catch their breaths and analyze if their enhanced online visibility is working out for them.  We’ve gone over several strategies that a business of any size can employ to beef up their enhanced online visibility in the past, but if the numbers are still not where they should be there are a few more tips and strategies one can try.

The first thing that every small business should be doing regularly, regardless of whether one’s enhanced online visibility appears to be thriving, is check out the competition.  This is not something with which one should be obsessed but it never hurts to take a peek every month or so to see what the immediate competition is doing to improve their enhanced online visibility. 

By immediate competition I mean those businesses that are in one’s immediate vicinity and has been known to take a customer or two.  This may be geographically if one is operating a brick and mortar store or it may be an internet store.  No matter who one’s immediate competition may be it is always a good idea to see what they are doing on their social media pages, blog and website.  Of course, one would never steal ideas or strategies from a competitor but if they appear to be thriving one can always see where they put their energy. Is it Facebook, the company blog, or better web content?   

After studying the competition a small business can take a fresh look at their strategies aimed at building an enhanced online visibility.  Rather than duplicate what the competitor down the street is doing successfully one can try and find a unique strategy with the same goal.  If the competitor has a killer Twitter account a small business might want to focus on the Facebook page.  If blogging seems to be where the customers are then finding creative new tactics should be one’s focus.

This review and reevaluation of one’s strategies for gaining an enhanced online visibility should be done on a regular basis whether one’s business is suffering or soaring.  For those stagnate this process should be done more often.  Enhanced online visibility requires hard work and diligence to be maintained.  Even small businesses employing great strategies and staying on top of trends will have to commit to a large amount of work to keep their enhanced online presence thriving.

February 07, 2012



IStock_000004010049Small
It is understandable how managing several social media sites, a company blog, website content and forum reading and posting in an effort to create and maintain an online brand presence quickly becomes overwhelming for a small business owner.  In an effort to do it all some small business owners may assign tasks to other employees.  There is nothing wrong with multiple people within a business handling the various online marketing strategies as long as there is a consistency of voice.  If the voice of one’s brand wavers online brand presence is actually hindered rather than helped.

To avoid hurting one’s delicate and new online brand presence there are a few consistency tips any small business owner can adopt to help avoid costly mistakes.

Online Brand Presence – Consistence User Name

This seems too easy but it can be a problem for small businesses.  When joining forums and other online communities a small business must always have the same user name no matter who is doing the writing.  If multiple user names are created customers and fans of the business may become confused, or worse, not realize that one business is behind all of the posting which is the opposite of one’s online brand presence goals.

Online Brand Presence – All Writers Understand Goals

Behind every great online marketing strategy should be even better goals.  These should be decided upon before a single Facebook or blog strategy is even discussed.  Once the goals are clearly defined any employee managing a specific strategy can stay on course since the goals are set in place and understood.

Online Brand Presence – Monitor the Brand

Even the best laid plans, clear goals and consistent writing will do no good if one’s online brand presence isn’t established.  To ensure this top priority is being met every small business owner should search their brand regularly.  For some this will mean weekly, for others almost every day.  Sometimes a search (on several search engines) will allow a clear and unbiased look at how the strategies are working.  If consistency is an issue a good search should expose it.

Regardless of how a small business goes about establishing their online brand presence consistency must be kept in the forefront of all writers.  Although this is an issue primarily when there is more than one writer a lack of consistency can still pop up with one writer if the writer doesn’t stick to the previously established goals and not let mood or emotions interfere with the job at hand. 

February 06, 2012



Online Innovation is it online marketing
We looked at previously how every day marketing strategies employed by small businesses should be looked at from the new perspective of building one’s enhanced online visibility rather than throwing away what has proven to work in lieu of completely new practices.  While there is no harm in a small business owner trying to make the transition to an online presence on their own they may want to at least consult with a professional online marketing company to make sure they are doing enough and not wasting precious time and money on strategies with little effect on an enhanced online visibility.

The key to tweaking current marketing strategies to make them applicable to an enhanced online visibility is to start with what works best.  Below are a few strategies every business already should be doing but can easily be used to bolster an enhanced online visibility.

Enhanced Online Visibility – Print Advertising

Almost every small business has print ads of some kind even if it is an ad in the local high schools basketball program.  It doesn’t matter where print ads are located; they should always include a website, blog address and social media information if an enhanced online visibility is the goal.  As suggested in Part 1 contacting a professional online marketing agency may be a wise decision when designing ads of all kinds as they have experience in promoting websites and social media.  The changes to the ads may appear subtle but usually have an amazing impact.

Enhanced Online Visibility – Promotional Material

A great marketing strategy is to give promotional material away to customers and target customers.  Depending on the industry these gifts can range from teddy bears and lollipops to Post-Its and pens.  No matter what gifts and materials a small business uses to market to customers and potential customers along with the company name should always be the website address.  Again, this is crucial for developing an enhanced online visibility. 

The focus of marketing needs to shift from the customer thinking of Business A when needing their product or service to the customer thinks of Business A’s website.  Enhanced online visibility does not happen overnight and takes a lot of work.  Thankfully, most small businesses already have effective marketing strategies that can easily be manipulated to move them online and get customers thinking of them as an online presence.  With a little help from an online marketing professional any business can quickly begin building an impressive enhanced online visibility.

February 03, 2012



Marketing-channel
These days it seems that too many companies don’t see the forest for the trees in regards to their enhanced online visibility.  With acronyms like SEO and SMO and SEM thrown around accompanied by anecdotal warnings to those not adopting such methods the message is clear – move online or close the business doors forever.  Of course there is some truth to moving online. As the world’s economy has shifted from brick and mortar stores to online versions businesses (especially small businesses) must make the transition as well to keep customers.  That doesn’t mean that good, old fashioned business and marketing practiced must be abandoned completely.

There needs to be a balance and when working fervently on creating an enhanced online visibility for a business remembering that the business was built by people, not computers, will go a long way in making the transition to online a success.  There are several ways that a small business can take great strides at building and maintaining their enhanced online visibility with very minor changes to their current marketing strategies.

Enhanced Online Visibility – Business Stationary

Every piece of paper with the business’s name must now have the business website, blog address and social media information.  It may seem like a small step but, in fact, it is huge.  How often does one go digging for an invoice to look for a phone number when the phone book or computer is two feet away? By adding all of one’s online contact information on business stationary customers will have quick and easy access to additional ways of interacting with the small business which will do wonders for enhanced online visibility.

Enhanced Online Visibility – Vehicles

Regardless of what industry one may be in almost every business owner owns a vehicle.  Business logos on a car or truck are not just for delivery vehicles anymore.  This mobile billboard can be one of a small business’s greatest marketing tools.  To really make it work there must online information included.  By adding one’s website address and a Facebook or Twitter logo can greatly increase enhanced online visibility.  Turning to a professional in the online marketing field to design an attractive sign for a vehicle is not a bad idea as those in the industry know what works.

These are just two ways a small business owner can use every day practices and items to create and maintain an effective enhanced online visibility.  Rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater businesses must reexamine what marketing practices they are already employing to see what small changes can be made to bring them online and get the customers online with them.  That is the challenge of creating an enhanced online visibility.

 

February 01, 2012



Orange_man_shaking_hands
Any good politician knows to really get votes they must go out and meet the people; the same is true with creating an online brand presence.  While online chat rooms, webinars and social media sites are great they do not substitute for real face-to-face meetings.  For those with a small business that brings customers into a physical store this online brand presence building strategy is easy.  They have been doing it all along.  For those, though, without the luxury of customers walking into a physical store finding ways to interact in reality can be more challenging.

Online Brand Presence Face-to-Face – Host a Speaker

Hosting an industry leader at a local conference center is a great way to meet one’s customer base and open channels of communication.  Industry leaders often have lecture series and, depending on the industry, can be relatively inexpensive to book.  By offering a reservations-only luncheon with guest speaker any small business can begin to meet their customers and potential customers away from the computer screen yet still build the powerful online brand presence.

Online Brand Presence Face-to-Face – Discussion Groups 

This is, by far, the most inexpensive way to meet customers and others in one’s industry community.  Every industry has news and issues confronting the industry.  Libraries, churches and community centers often are home to industry discussion groups that meet monthly or even bi-weekly.  By engaging customers with discussion face-to-face it is easier to transfer the communication to the online arena which is exactly what one must do to build a strong online brand presence.

Online Brand Presence Face-to-Face – Trade Shows and Booths

For those small businesses unable to bring in a speaker or host a discussion group the booth can become their best friend.  By having booths at all expos and trade shows which remotely relate or appeal to their industry and target customers they can begin to meet customers and answer questions in person.  Especially for those small businesses with a handful of employees getting out and meeting customers and showing them the business is committed to their satisfaction is crucial for getting ahead.  Once a physical connection is made it will be easier to entice them to engage online which in turn builds online brand presence.

These are just a few ideas of how to create and bolster an online brand presence for small businesses.  With many of us confined to computers most of the day it is easy to forget how important human contact is for making great impressions and capturing customers.  Online brand presence is only possible if the customers are interested in one’s business.  Often times building that interest takes work only face-to-face can accomplish.

January 31, 2012



Scheduling
Most small businesses now understand the value of social media, blogs and website content when creating and maintaining their online brand presence.  Once all of those components are up and running, however, it is easy to become overwhelmed and begin to fall behind in updates.  Before ever committing to various online strategies an online marketing plan must be created including goals and strategies.  Most important in the plan should be schedules. 

Each individual piece of the online marketing plan runs on a different schedule to maximize online brand presence.  Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter should be updated at least once a day. Blogs should have at least one post per week, preferably three to five.  Websites should be updated as information chances and at least once a month to keep content fresh.  Industry forums should be visited on a regular basis with comments added.

With all these different schedules anyone can see how a small business can quickly lose track and inadvertently lose online brand presence.  That is why setting up concrete schedules for each arm of one’s online marketing campaign is absolutely necessary to meet goals.  As goals are met or are changed schedules must also be reevaluated.

 Businesses should pay close attention to analytics in order to revise schedules as needed.  For instance to keep engagement at its peak and online brand presence at a maximum a business might discover that posting comments on social media three times a day is ideal.  Any more posts and the numbers remain the same; any fewer posts and the numbers drop.  In that case the social media scheduling should be changed to reflect the analytics.

While keeping up with scheduling is crucial to the success of online marketing and building an online brand presence small businesses must not forget their goals.  Social media, blogging and a business website are all great tools at gaining a great online brand presence but are not the same as sales.  The focus of any online marketing plan should always be to gain and retain customers – not get as many ‘subscribers’ on Facebook as possible.

With so much at stake in today’s company and more and more small to mid-size businesses focusing their marketing online all businesses, regardless of their industry, must bring their A-game to truly build an online brand presence.  By starting with the basics of developing a solid marketing plan and realistic schedules reflecting the goals of that plan a true online brand presence can be attained.

January 30, 2012



Email-marketing
It appears that with all the hoopla regarding social media and blogging that many companies have forgotten their first method of building an enhanced online visibility – email.  While it’s not as glamorous as Facebook or Twitter it has the ability to make a substantial impact on a business’s enhanced online visibility if used correctly.  Typically email address lists are voluntarily provided by customers making the chances of emails being read much higher than other forms of online marketing.  Also, much more can be said in a newsletter sent out en masse via email than with a tweet or post.

Enhanced Online Visibility through Email Address Lists

Most businesses have been collecting email addresses of their clientele for years, if not decades.  Email is much better than physical mailings for newsletters and updates because people tend not to change their email address as often as physical addresses.  Also, there is no cost to distribute email newsletters.  This fact alone makes email distribution a good investment.  Although these reasons are compelling enough for companies to focus on email address lists there is an even better reason – email addresses are given voluntarily, almost assuring the recipient’s interest in one’s business which will ultimately help build enhanced online visibility.

Enhanced Online Visibility through Email Content

Many people think newsletters are a thing of the past.  With instant information at everyone’s fingertips why would anyone take the time to read old information in a newsletter? People still read newsletters because they do not think about the business or industry until the newsletter pops up in their inbox.  While those deeply involved in an industry or company may have run across the information distributed in the company newsletter it is safe to say the average customer has not.  Weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly newsletters give a nice synopsis of a company’s activities and industry news without overwhelming customers.

Enhanced Online Visibility through Email Updates

Yes, it is true that updates can be given on Facebook and Twitter but for many customers an email account is checked more often than a social media account. Or even if the social media page is seen by the customer they may accidentally overlook a company’s update.  If a customer cares enough to keep a company’s email notifications and newsletters in their inbox and not spam box they are much more likely to read the updates than in any other venue on the internet.

There are many other reasons not mentioned in the post regarding the benefit of email in building an enhanced online visibility.  Although there is not enough time to give a real discussion to the tried and true email method of distributing information and, in turn, building an enhanced online presence, it is safe to say it is worth considering.  There is nothing wrong with an aggressive social media marketing campaign but companies would be wise to not forget about the power of the company email when an enhanced online visibility is the goal.

January 27, 2012



Blogging
We talk a lot about the importance of blogging to create online brand presence and while that is true there is a component of the blog that is often times overlooked.  In short, a blog is a social experience which builds community around one’s service or product.  If a business views their blog this was online brand presence is greatly enhanced.  If they see their blog as a way to increase search engine rank or make a sale online brand presence will be slow in attaining.

A blog might seem like a lonely task, information only going in one direction, from the writer to the audience, but in fact it is an online conversation.  A recent article explained just how important the social aspect of blogging really is to building an online brand presence.  Within the article several tips were given for small businesses to keep in mind when writing blog posts.

Online Brand Presence through Blogging – Communicate

The audience is every bit as important as the writer as a blogpost is a conversation not a lecture.  A post should pose questions to the audience and expect answers in the form of comments.  One relatively new way to engage readers and promote comments is to add social media buttons to each post.  These are small Facebook ‘like’ and Twitter ‘tweet’ buttons that allow readers to send a link to the blog post to their respective social media account.  This is one of the best ways to create and maintain online brand presence available today.

Online Brand Presence through Blogging – Content

While the content will be ultimately determined by one’s industry there are certain topics that readers do not want to see in a post. Small businesses should refrain from technically complicated (above their average audience’s knowledge) information, bland industry news and vulgarity.  Controversial topics are great if they are not too divisive.  Controversy can be a great conversation starter or it can be damaging.  Topics should be part of the overall social media plan with controversial topics one possible strategy to increase online brand presence.

Once a small business gets the hang of writing a blog and is beginning to see involvement from their target audience it is time to take their writing to the next level and seriously begin working on their online brand presence.  By becoming aware of subtle manipulations to one’s company’s blog can make the time invested writing and maintaining it well worth it. Building and creating online brand presence is a job all in itself and when a business works smarter they reach their goals quicker.

January 26, 2012



Social-media-graphic
As more and more small businesses begin to realize the benefits of launching an online marketing campaign with social media as the primary strategies to increase their enhanced online visibility a new industry has been created.  Social media tools are now available for a variety of tasks to aid the small to mid-size business owner in streamlining their social media marketing tactics and interpreting analytics.  For a business to truly see an enhanced online visibility taking advantage of these tools would be most beneficial.

Enhanced Online Visibility – Adding Multi-Media

There are a slew of new social media tools aimed at helping account holders integrate music, video, pictures and even voice recordings into their Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media accounts.  Research has proven that pages rich with multi-media generate more interest and engagement with the community.  With so much at stake in online marketing businesses would be wise to use every tool at their disposal to help create their enhanced online visibility.

Enhanced Online Visibility – Time Savers

As a small business gets more fluent in social media and their audience grows they will quickly find themselves devoting a large amount of time to the websites.  Best practice dictates that to have a successful social media marketing campaign a business must be constantly available to respond to comments and post comments regularly.  If successful this will require a lot of time especially if several sites are being utilized.  There are many new and exciting social media tools on the market now aimed at this time issue.  They streamline the updating and monitoring process by funneling all activity from multiple websites into one, easy to understand dashboard.

Enhanced Online Visibility – Analytics

After all the hard work small businesses put into their marketing some form of analytics must be available for review.  This could not be truer for those wishing to affect enhanced online visibility through an online marketing campaign.  Several social media tools provide customizable analytics ideal for the small business.  With information presented in easy to understand formats one doesn’t have to an expert to make sense of the information. 

After a company becomes comfortable with social media (one site at a time, please) they should investigate social media tools and determine which could benefit their business and make social marketing goals more attainable.  With so many tools available now and the number increasing regularly there is a social media tool available to help any business in any stage of growth build their enhanced online visibility.

January 25, 2012



Avoid-grammar-police-there-theyre-800X800
Everyone, by now, understands the importance of online brand presence and the various vehicles to help build and maintain it.  The most popular routes to boost one’s online brand presence where it needs to be are social media, blogs, and website content.  All three rely heavily on the written word yet companies are more and more often neglecting the English language.  There is no quicker way to lose respect from one’s audience and actually hurt online brand presence than by getting lazy with grammar and spelling.

Social media has been quite a blessing in terms of improving online brand presence.  All of the wonderful aspects of social media that make it so appealing are what make it so easy to lose control of proper grammar and spelling.  First of all, misuse of language is rampant on sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Even the most devoted English grammar-abiders can’t help but fall victim to the ‘everyone else is doing it…’ mentality.  While one’s audience may misuse homonyms and misspell common words frequently companies must take the high road and stick to writing good copy all the time to increase online brand presence.

The casual tone of blogs and social media also lends itself to the misuse of grammar.  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with dropping the formality, something which is a great tool for building an online brand presence, when posting on the company blog certain rules must still be strictly enforced. There should always be a distinction between conversational tone and bad writing.  Fragments should be avoided at all costs.  Misplaced modifiers should not exist and all words should be spelled correctly.  Tone has nothing to do with these issues.

Errors found in website content are perhaps the most disturbing. The website is the company’s online clothing.  It should display the best the company has to offer.  When customers and potential customers see misspelled words and grammatical errors within the website it damages online brand presence and sends the message that the company is not professional.  No matter what the company sales or offers in services correct grammar and spelling must be used on all web pages.

The trend to let grammar, spelling and punctuation slide is upsetting. The entire profession of editing exists to catch such errors and is now being disregarded in lieu of fast and easy.  While it might be fast to throw a Facebook post up without review it’s a company’s online brand presence that suffers if it isn’t up to par.  By taking just a little bit of time to review and edit all writing, even a simple Tweet, companies can guarantee they present a professional image and, in turn, maintain their online brand presence they worked so hard to attain.

January 24, 2012



Trainingclassroom
In part 1 of this post we looked at three very basic rules to remember when building online brand presence through social media accounts.  These rules apply to businesses of all sizes in all stages of their social media development.  Online brand presence is carefully cultivated over time and with thorough plans, not just appearing overnight to a few lucky chosen. 

With that in mind we can jump right back into some basic rules all businesses must follow if they hope to reap an increased online brand presence through social media use.  Today focuses on three rules that are unique for social media marketing but no less important.

Be Active

Online brand presence is such a finicky thing as are one’s customer base.  If one were to study the companies with the largest, most influential, online brand presences they would find they were constantly doing something.  Of course a small business can’t compete with the likes of Coca-Cola or Playstation but they can make themselves available to their customers by responding quickly to comments and posting interesting comments which leads to the next rule.

Initiate Conversations

Facebook and Twitter are vehicles for conversations, not an arena for sales pitches.  Customers can turn to a business’s website if they want to learn about how wonderful a product or service is.  Online brand presence is, also, not directly about sales.  It is simply getting the word out about one’s business.  By posing thought-provoking questions and posting intelligent, interesting questions customers will respect and admire one’s Facebook or Twitter page resulting in the highly coveted online brand presence.

Take the Time

This cannot be stressed enough.  When businesses complain that their social media accounts are not building the online brand presence they were expecting time is usually the reason why.  Businesses need to post a comment at least once a day and respond to comments within a maximum of twenty-four hours.  There are a variety of online solutions for being notified when a comment is posted.  If a business cannot make the time to do social media correctly then perhaps they should explore other ways of building online brand presence.

The rules set forth in this two part post are very rudimentary yet still highly accurate in creating an online brand presence using social media.  It’s easy to get distracted with all the applications and customizations Facebook and Twitter offer a business, but at the end of the day if the goals aren’t met and online brand presence isn’t gained the job just wasn’t done right. 

 

 

January 23, 2012



Training
One of the most popular ways to build online brand presence is to participate in social media.  We have suggested this repeatedly and gone to great lengths to help small businesses really gain a name for themselves and create an online brand presence while doing it.  Still, though, many businesses are faced with lackluster results and no increase in online brand presence after creating and paying diligence to their Facebook or Twitter accounts.  Faced with disappointment and frustration they may decide to quit.  Instead of throwing in the towel we want to return to the basics for a few moments. 

It’s easy to see how perhaps in all the excitement of a new Facebook account a business could forget what they learned in Marketing 101. For that reason we will review some very, very basic ideas of how to create online brand presence through social media using the exact same principles one would use in any other marketing device.

Have a Plan

We see all too often businesses jump head first into the social media pool without ever developing a plan.  An online brand presence does not come about by serendipity but rather through careful planning.  When approaching a social media website every business should develop goals in writing, then strategies for achieving those goals, followed lastly by tactics.  Goals should focus more on the online brand presence then sales.

Know the Audience

It’s tempting for businesses to want to drive the conversations on one’s social media account page.  After all they are the experts are they not?  The truth is that to really build an online brand presence businesses must let their customers set the tone for the conversations, and the topics.  By studying trends within the customer base businesses can anticipate the hot topic and steer it in their direction while appearing to let the customer hold the reigns.  That is smart marketing.

Remember Manners

If one was at a trade show they would never think of cursing at a customer or competitor.  Nor would they use vulgarity.  Some businesses forget how to behave online although the results can mean disaster for an online brand presence.  Whoever is responsible for handling the social media accounts should have stellar social skills and remember what they post lives online for eternity. 

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