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Creative and Easy Ways to add Fresh Content to your Site

April 23rd, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of Susana Fernandez/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Susana Fernandez/Flickr.

Keeping your website updated and publishing new content on a regular basis can help you achieve and maintain search rankings, making it easier for your market to find you. New content can also help you keep visitors interested and engaged, which can lead to lower bounce rates and even increased sales.

Many businesses struggle with finding ways to update their site regularly without completely overhauling their pages. Here are a few simple and creative ways to keep your site updated with new content.

Post to your Blog Regularly

Perhaps the most common way businesses keep their site updated is by blogging regularly. New blog posts will help you get higher rankings and of course, are an excellent way to tell your story and communicate with your market. When you publish informative and valuable blog posts and then share them through social media, you’ll also attract more traffic to your site.

Create a Company Newsroom

Another simple way to add new content to your site is to create a company newsroom. Similar to a blog, this could be a page on your site where you post news updates, press releases and information about current events that relate to your company or industry.

You can also share these posts through social media, email marketing campaigns and even with media outlets that may decide to cover your story, giving you excellent exposure and potentially linking back to your website.

Highlight Products on your Homepage

Highlighting products on your homepage not only allows you to add fresh content regularly, but also makes it easy to add a call to action asking visitors to make a purchase. Use a portion of your homepage to add some content about a featured product and then add a link that allows visitors to purchase it.

Change the highlighted product regularly, every few weeks or months, and use this tactic in conjunction with other marketing efforts to make the most of it. For example, at the same time you promote a product on social media, feature it on your homepage.

Publish Newsletters

If you produce newsletters to send to your email marketing lists, why not publish them on your website too? Dedicate a portion of your site to your newsletters and post them there when you send them to your market. Be sure to promote these on social media too so you can attract traffic and even grow your email list.

Newsletters can include information about new products, special deals, company news and tips relating to your products, among other kinds of content.

Add How-To Guides and Other Resources

Posting valuable content on your site is a great way to build your reputation as an industry expert and the go-to resource for your market. Publish how-to guides, idea lists, tips and other resources that your market will find helpful. This is an excellent way to boost your traffic and makes it easy to continually post fresh content to your website.

Adopt some of these tactics to keep fresh content flowing to your site so you’ll see better search rankings and a more engaged audience. Remember, it’s vital that the content you post is designed for people, not search engines, and rankings will follow.

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Why Your Website is Boring Your Visitors

April 22nd, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

You’ve launched a beautiful website and are starting to drive traffic to it, but aren’t reaching the numbers you want or your visitors leave quickly and you have high bounce rates. What’s the problem?

Many businesses spend a lot of time and resources on a website only to feel that it’s not performing very well. Your website is your online storefront and is absolutely essential to your online presence. Making sure your site helps you sell products, engage with your market and reach your other marketing goals is important.

It’s not Professionally Designed

If your website doesn’t look professional your market won’t take you seriously. A website that isn’t organised, is hard to navigate and that isn’t visually interesting doesn’t speak well of your business and will drive visitors away. Make sure your site looks current and is visually interesting by using images, shapes, buttons and boxes.

By the same token, don’t overcrowd your site with so many colours, images and pieces of information that it overwhelms your users. Find a good balance that attracts visitors and looks clean.

You Don’t Provide the Right Information

Many of your visitors come to your site looking for specific information. Try to find out what that is and then make sure it is easy to find. Some common reasons people might visit your site include to find product information, buy a service, contact your business or compare products.

You can do some market research to find out what you audience wants and then make sure you meet those needs with your site’s design and layout.

It’s too Copy Heavy

Sites that bombard visitors with paragraphs upon paragraphs of copy are overwhelming and quite frankly, boring. Break up text with images and make sure your site’s copy is tight and readable. You can also use bullets, boxes, buttons and design elements to make your site more readable and the text easier to digest.

If you can, spread copy out on different pages so that users can navigate to the information they need without having to dig through lots of text they aren’t interested in.

There isn’t much to Interact with

If there isn’t much people can do on your site or if there isn’t a way for them to interact, they will leave. This goes hand-in-hand with providing the right information. When your website makes it easy for people to interact with you and respond to your calls to action, they will.

For example, if people come to your site to find more information about your products and then make a purchase, make that process as simple as possible. Other ways to encourage interaction include offering free resources, linking to your social media profiles, allowing comments on your blog and making your contact information easy to find.

Nothing Ever Changes

Keep your website interesting by changing it once in a while. You don’t need to drastically change the design or even redo the copy frequently, but find some element that you can change or update on a regular basis to keep people coming back.

Some easy ways to do this include blogging, highlighting products, posting news releases, promoting sales on the homepage, offering different free resources or highlighting different how-to guides.

A boring website won’t benefit your business and can actually hold you back from making more sales and growing your audience. Use these tips to find ways to recharge your website and make it something new and interesting that will help your business succeed.

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Expand Your Reach by Publishing Content in these Places

April 21st, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of Victoria Pickering/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Victoria Pickering/Flickr.

Both Internet marketing and content marketing require you to reach out and find your market where it is. Yes, you want to drive traffic to your site and attract your customers to you, but you need to find your target market and draw people in. One of the best ways to do this is to publish your content in multiple places.

So, where do you publish your content? Start with your own properties like your website and blog. This gives you a permanent online presence and gives your audience one main place they can go to get information about your business. Since these are your pages, you have complete control over them and can use them however you want.

But, to expand your reach, grow your online presence and reach a larger audience, you will need to publish content on some other sites.

For search engine optimisation purposes, never publish the same piece of content in multiple places, as search engines penalise duplicate content. Also, keep in mind that it’s okay to build links to earn rankings, but steer clear of spammy sites and link farms.

High-Quality, Reputable Blogs

Guest blogging is still relevant and beneficial as long as you do it the right way. Don’t make link building your primary goal. Look for blogs that your audience reads and the people you are targeting respect. Then, contact the owner with a post idea that benefits his readership and ask if he would be willing to let you be a guest blogger.

You can still link back to your website but make sure the links are relevant and the sites you post on are reputable. Be wary of blog networks, as Google has recently penalised some well-known sites.

Outside Publishing Platforms

Outside publishing platforms like LinkedIn, Medium, and other sites, can help you get your content out there and direct traffic back to your site. Many of these places already have rather large readerships and if your content resonates with the people there, you will attract new site visitors and customers.

Industry-Specific Websites

Don’t discount industry-specific websites. Many industries have online journals, websites and blogs that have very large followings and getting your content there could help you expand your audience very quickly. Some of these sites allow you to set up an account so you can publish content whenever you want. Others choose content selectively and you’ll need to submit a blog post or article for approval.

Press Release Distribution Services

Legitimate press release distribution services like PRWeb and PR Newswire make it easy to publish press releases in a place where others can find the information and even share it on their own site. These sites also allow for links, so you can use them as part of your SEO campaign. When you use press releases, make sure the content is newsworthy and current so they will be as effective as possible.

Publishing branded content on various sites will help you reach a wider audience, drive traffic to your site and even earn search engine rankings. The key is to choose the sites you use carefully and opt for high-quality sites with a good reputation and that attract your market.

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Will Facebook’s New Nearby Friends Feature impact Your Business?

April 18th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock

Facebook has announced a new feature that allows users to make their location visible to their friends and in turn, see where their friends are. The goal behind the new Nearby Friends feature, according to Facebook, is to foster more in-person communication and interaction and to spark online conversations about places.

The feature is optional and users can turn it on or off. They can also control exactly who can see their location and even set time limits for their visibility. The idea is that as people use Facebook from their smartphones while they are on the go, they can meet up with friends who happen to be in the same area. Users can also give recommendations for restaurants, shops and other sites when they see their friends are in a specific neighbourhood.

When the feature is activated on Facebook’s mobile app, users will be able to see the locations of their friends on a map, so finding friends is very easy. Nearby Friends will become available to users in the United States first in the coming weeks, and then it’s likely that all users will have access to it soon after.

Nearby Friends and Your Business

So, will this new feature impact your business? It has the potential to, but the question is how will you leverage it?

To use Nearby Friends, you’ll need to encourage organic interaction. You can’t set up a page, activate the feature for your audience or even actively use it in a way that benefits your business. What you can do is be aware that your market may be more inclined to talk about your brick-and-mortar locations on Facebook if they use the feature.

Also remember that friends are extremely influential and their opinions often mean more to people than messages and tactics from your business. For example, some people may be more easily swayed by a friend who sees they are in the same neighbourhood as your shop and recommends it than they will be by your own Facebook posts.

Keep in mind that not all of your potential customers, if any, are following you on Facebook. If your Facebook following mostly consists of current and past customers, the Nearby Friends feature could be a way for you to tap into the group of people who are likely to become your customers as people recommend and mention your business.

Businesses won’t be able to actively use this feature to promote their products and services, but the feature could make them more visible to a new audience on Facebook. The key is with the users. If your customers love your business enough to recommend it to their friends through Facebook, you may benefit from the Nearby Friends feature.

Whether or not this new feature will catch on and be embraced by users remains to be seen. How heavy Facebook users choose to use Nearby Friends, and how actively they participate, will determine whether or not your business will benefit.

In the meantime, you can encourage your customers to recommend your business to friends, offer perks to customers who refer new customers and continue to build your Facebook presence and community.

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How to Align Your Content with Google’s Goal and get Better Rankings

April 17th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of Anthony Ryan/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Anthony Ryan/Flickr.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, recently tried to clear up some common search engine optimisation myths. In his video, he let marketers in on the secret to getting Google rankings: align your content and site with Google’s goal to provide the best search results to users. You can see Cutts’ video on Search Engine Journal.

But, how exactly do you align your content with that goal? How do you make sure it helps to provide users with the best search results? Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Know what Your Market Wants

What does your market want? A solution to a technical problem? Creative ideas? Products that make life easier? Whatever it is the people you are targeting want, provide it. There are lots of ways to find out what this is, from simple brainstorming to polls and surveys and even focus groups.

Once you know what these wants and needs are, make sure every piece of content on your website works to meet those needs. Your pages will attract more traffic and be more likely to rank when people search for related terms.

Appeal to Your Market’s Emotions

Your site should appeal to your market’s emotions in a way that makes people want to respond to your calls to action and value your content. First, think about what you want your market to do and what people want. Then, figure out how the content on your site can spur that action.

For example, a business that provides safety equipment might appeal to readers’ emotions by appealing to their desire to keep family and employees safe.

Know what Makes Your Market Tick

Knowing what makes your market tick will help you create content that provides the best results to Google searchers. When you know what interests people, what kind of information they are looking for and what drives them to interact, your content will rank well and help your business be more successful.

The things that motivate your market will most likely be closely tied to what people want and their emotions, so when you combine all this information you can produce powerful content.

Provide Undeniable Value

The best content is valuable to the people it is meant for. When this value is undeniable to your market, your content will be more effective. Provide information, resources, advice, details or even entertainment that is relevant to your market and provides benefits. Search engines, including Google, rank high quality content higher than content that doesn’t provide much value and isn’t relevant to searchers.

When you align your content and website with Google’s goal of providing the best results to searchers, your pages will rank higher and your site will be much more successful.

These tips will do more than just help you optimise your content and drive traffic to your site, they will help you connect with your market and achieve your overall goals. Use these tips to take your content to the next level so you can get higher rankings, more traffic, more engaged readers and more customers.

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How to Overcome 4 Daunting Email Marketing Challenges

April 16th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of RaHuL Rodriguez/Flickr.

Image courtesy of RaHuL Rodriguez/Flickr.

If you use email marketing, you know that finding success is a matter of finding the perfect frequency, messaging and content. Email marketing is a tactic that can be extremely successful and bring big benefits if you can overcome some of the common challenges it brings.

At first glance, these statistics seem a little daunting, but they reveal key information that can help you enhance your campaign so it will bring better results.

Average Open Rate is 22.8%.

According to Smart Insights, emails from businesses are only opened 22.8 percent of the time. This statistic may not be very encouraging, but it does emphasise the need for businesses to give their markets a reason to open their emails.

If you know that most people don’t even bother to open marketing emails, you know that you need to make the most of the subject line and provide significant value if you want your market to read yours.

Average Click-Through Rate is 3.36%.

Smart Insights also reports that the click-through rate for marketing emails is 3.36 percent. This statistic, and the previous one, is based on research that examined marketing emails from 25 industries across the UK.

This click-through rate reveals that even if someone opens your email, the chance that he will click on a link in it is very slim. The solution to this challenge is to use enticing copy and give people a good reason to click on links in your emails.

Strategies like only showing the first paragraph of a blog post in the email, offering deals and directing people to valuable resources can help you increase your click-through rate.

21% of people report email as spam, even if they know it isn’t.

Convince and Convert reports that 21 percent of people report marketing emails as spam, even when they know they aren’t spam. This number is significant and means you could be losing subscribers who don’t feel your emails are relevant or offer enough value.

Avoid losing subscribers by providing content that interests your market, that people are looking for and that is relevant to your subscribers. The most successful email marketing campaigns will deliver value directly to your target markets’ inbox.

17% of people set up a new email address every six months.

Convince and Convert also found that 17 percent of Americans create a new email address about every six months. While we don’t know what the statistic is for the UK, email users here probably have similar habits.

What does this mean for your campaign? It means that the addresses on your list aren’t always accurate and that your emails aren’t always being delivered to or seen by your target market.

One of the best ways to overcome this challenge is to make it easy for people to update their email address and to constantly strive toward building a current email list. Just because people have subscribed once, don’t assume they are getting your messages. Add sign up forms to your checkout process, blog posts and in prominent places on your website to keep your list current and valuable.

These statistics highlight the particular challenges email marketing can bring and provide insight into how businesses can enhance their campaigns. When you understand why most campaigns fail, you can avoid these mistakes and problems and make your campaign more successful.

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Mobile SEO: Targeting Your Local Market

April 16th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

We recently blogged about how important and valuable mobile search and leads are and shared a report that revealed that mobile local searches have an 80 percent conversion rate. Your local mobile audience is one you don’t want to ignore, but how do you use search engine optimisation to target potential customers?

The key to getting this traffic, that brings leads, is to focus on mobile optimisation and local SEO and Internet marketing. When these things work together, you’ll target a market that has proven that it wants to make a purchase (see our recent blog post).

Get Your Site Mobile Ready

First, make sure your site is mobile ready by making sure it has a responsive design. You want your site to be easy to read, navigate and use on a small smartphone screen or a tablet.

Your site should also load very quickly and cater to mobile users’ needs. People who visit your site from mobile devices might be looking for different things and have different intentions. For example, they may be looking to find your location, log in to their account or find product information. Whatever your users are looking for, make it easy to find on your mobile site.

Use Local SEO and Internet Marketing Tactics

Using local SEO and Internet marketing tactics will help you get the attention of potential customers near your business and drive traffic to your site, which you can convert to leads.

There are all kinds of strategies and tactics you can use to build a local SEO and Internet marketing campaign, but here are a few good places to start.

Target Local Search Terms

Target local search terms that include names of cities, neighbourhoods, business centres, shopping centres and other geographical words and phrases. This will help you rank your site for local terms your market could be searching for.

Leverage User Reviews

User reviews on sites like Google+ Local, Yelp!, Yell and Touch Local not only help you build a positive reputation and generate business, but can also help you earn search rankings. Encourage your customers to leave a review by letting them know you have a profile on these sites.

Don’t Ignore Local and Business Directories

Set up an account on local and business directories to earn rankings and inform your market. Consider using Google Places, Yahoo! Local and Bing Places as well as local and industry specific business directories. Make sure your profiles are complete so you’ll get the most out of these sites.

Create a Local PPC Campaign

Don’t discount the power of local pay-per-click campaigns. These are a great way to get your business name and website in front of your local market and can help you drive valuable traffic to your site.

Local SEO and Internet marketing tactics are essential if you want to reach potential customers in your area. Start building a local marketing strategy with these tips.

Reach that valuable local mobile audience by using a combination of a strong responsive website and local SEO and PPC strategies to drive traffic to your site and increase sales.

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Don’t fall Victim to Facebook’s Updated News Feed Algorithm

April 14th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of Dimitris Kalogeropoylos/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Dimitris Kalogeropoylos/Flickr.

Facebook has updated its algorithm, which determines what appears in users’ news feeds. When you understand how the algorithm works you can better understand how to get your posts in front of the biggest audience and use your account effectively.

This latest update is mostly designed to fight spam, but you should be aware of the changes so your content won’t be targeted.

Don’t “Like-Bait”

In it’s announcement, Facebook warns users not to do what it calls “like-baiting.” This is the practice of asking users to “like,” share or comment on a post. Your business might be doing this in an effort to increase engagement and make your content visible to a wider audience. According to Facebook’s announcement, users find these kinds of posts 15 percent less relevant than other posts.

From now on, these kinds of posts will appear less frequently than posts Facebook thinks are more relevant to a user, like posts from friends and even other pages. Facebook says that it isn’t targeting pages that are genuinely working for engagement, so to make sure your page’s posts are seen, avoid asking for engagement on a regular basis. Instead, ask questions and post insightful content that sparks a natural reaction from users.

Don’t Upload the same Content Multiple Times

Facebook is also cracking down on pages that upload and share the same piece of content several times. Some businesses may do this as a way to make sure more people see their content, but it is a form of spam that users don’t appreciate.

With the new algorithm these pages won’t appear in users’ news feeds as frequently as they used to. Only upload and share each piece of content once.

Don’t Share Spam

Spammers are using a new tactic in an effort to get Facebook traffic. They are sharing links on Facebook that look like they lead to helpful content, pictures, or a high-quality website, but instead, lead to a spammy page or ads. Facebook is using this algorithm update to make these kinds of posts less prevalent on users’ news feeds. Your business should never share this or any other kind of spam on Facebook.

For most businesses, this update won’t make a big impact on the way they use Facebook. As always, the key to success with social media marketing is sharing high-quality content that will benefit your market.

As you do this, be careful not to blatantly ask your followers to “like,” share or comment on your posts too often. This could lead Facebook to flag your content and posts from your page won’t be as visible to users.

Instead, encourage interaction by asking your followers questions, participating in conversations and sharing the kind of content that people will want to interact with. Doing this will make your Facebook page a more valuable resource for your market and a stronger part of your social media marketing strategy.

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12 Tips for seeing Success with your Pinterest Account

April 11th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of julochka/Flickr.

Image courtesy of julochka/Flickr.

Are you getting the most out of Pinterest? If you’re just pinning images without seeing much traffic to your site, additional sales or engagement from your followers and other Pinterest users, you should reevaluate how you use your account.

Consider a Business Account

Pinterest business accounts make it possible for you to verify your account so your followers know that it is the official account for your business. With a business account, you will also be able to link to your website directly from your profile page.

Complete your Profile

Once you have set up an account, make sure your profile is complete so your market can find you easily. Include a descriptive bio and a link to your website. You can even add links to your Twitter page.

Pin from Pages that Need Traffic

Pin strategically so you can drive traffic to the best pages on your site. For example, pin images from your product pages so when people click on them, they will be able to make a purchase with just a few clicks.

Add a Pin it Button and Widget to your Site

Grab the Pin it Button and Pinterest Widget and add them to your site. This makes it easy for people to pin your images, helping you share your content, and find you on Pinterest.

Use Pin Descriptions

Don’t just leave pin descriptions blank. Use them to share product specifications and other important info. Good descriptions will also make it easier for people to find your pins when they search on Pinterest.

Use Rich and Place Pins

Rich pins and place pins let you include more information on a single pin. You can include headlines, story descriptions, prices, maps, addresses, phone numbers and even recipes.

Pin Testimonials

Are you pinning testimonials? This is a great way to tell your market what your customers think and share product reviews. Pin images that link to the full testimonial or create an image with text and pin that.

Leverage your Boards

Create specific boards to categorise your pins and so that people can follow certain topics you pin about. Be sure to take advantage of board descriptions too!

Create Group Boards

You can invite people to collaborate on group boards so your customers and members of your target market can add content to them. This sparks engagement and helps you foster a relationship with your market. It is also a good way to listen to your market and find out what kind of content people are interested in.

Don’t Hesitate to Pin others’ Content

As with other social media sites, you shouldn’t be too self promotional on Pinterest. Of course, you should share your content, but don’t hesitate to share content from others that will interest your market and to form relationships.

Transform your Account into a Resource

Make your Pinterest account the ultimate resource for your market. Fill it with pins that provide valuable information to your market, whether that is do-it-yourself project ideas or articles about technology.

Use Promoted Pins

Pinterest is testing promoted pins and you can sign up to get more information about using them for your business. They will allow you to get your content in front of more people so you can reach a wider audience.

Including Pinterest in your social media marketing plan allows you to reach your market in a more visual way. Use these tips to enhance your strategy and account and to make sure it will bring the best results.

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Study Shows Local Mobile Searches have an 80% Conversion Rate

April 10th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

We already know how important mobile marketing is, but a new study by Neustar Localeze highlights just how vital it is and how it can actually help your business make more sales. According to the research, mobile searches have an 80 percent conversion rate. The study also found that three out of four of those conversions actually lead to a customer coming into a store, not just an online purchase.

The same study found that 63 percent of people who do Internet searches do so from multiple devices to find local businesses. They use laptops, smartphones, tablets and other devices to do searches to find information about businesses in their area.

These statistics tell us that people aren’t just searching for local businesses on their mobile devices, but those searches lead to a high number of purchases.

But, that’s not all. A study done by Google and Nielsen found that:

  • 55 percent of people using a mobile device to research a product want to make a purchase within an hour.
  • 83 percent of those people want to make a purchase within a day.

So, people aren’t just buying products online, they are also going into brick-and-mortar stores to make a purchase and want to do so quickly. Local mobile SEO can be a very powerful way to increase your brand awareness and sales.

Adding Mobile to your SEO Strategy

If you’re already using SEO to drive traffic to your site, it’s imperative that you make sure you are also doing mobile SEO. This newest research highlights just how important it is and how lucrative it can be.

Use Mobile Keywords

People use different keywords when they search from a mobile device than they do when they search online. For example, they may use shorter phrases since they aren’t using a physical keyboard and they are likely to search for local information. Target some specific mobile keywords as part of your SEO campaign.

Link to the Right Pages for a Mobile Market

Just as people use different search terms while using a mobile device, they may also be looking for different information. Your market may be looking for your address, contact information, product specifications or pricing. Think about what mobile searchers are looking for and then optimise and rank those pages.

Build a Mobile-Friendly Site

Of course, to get the benefits of mobile SEO, traffic and leads, you’ll need to make sure your site is easy to navigate on a mobile device. Smartphones and tablets have smaller screens, so be aware of how much text you use and create a navigation menu that is simple and intuitive.

The latest research reminds us that mobile optimisation, traffic and leads are extremely important. To increase your sales and reach your market more effectively, it is essential that you use mobile SEO and make sure your site is easy to use from mobile devices.

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