Loading

Grow Smart Business


teaserInfographic
Close

Search Articles



Posts Tagged ‘Google’


How B2B Marketers Are Using Social Media

July 30th, 2012 ::

Marketo published a great infographic (see image) they created with ColumnFive based on the results of a social media marketing survey that Social Media Examiner conducted.  More than 3,800 marketers shared how they use social media – and what kind of benefits they are reaping.

A whopping 93% of B2B marketers use social media, an increase of 10% from 2 years ago, and those marketers are experienced: 38.5% of them have 1-3 years of experience using social media.

See how you stack up against them:

Benefits of social media marketing

  • 69% gathered insights on the marketplace
  • 60% improved their search rankings
  • 56% acquired new business partnerships
  • 53% developed loyal fans

Top 6 social media networks used

  1. Facebook (87%)
  2. Twitter (84%)
  3. YouTube or other video site (56%)
  4. LinkedIn (87%)
  5. Blogs (66%)
  6. Google+ (44%)

Looking forward, they want to improve their efforts in 3 areas…

  1. LinkedIn use (76%)
  2. Blogging efforts (71%)
  3. Facebook fan building (68%)

…and they want to learn more about

  • Measuring social media effectiveness (77%)
  • Converting activities to sales (72%)
  • Learn best practices (74%)

So, how do you compare?  Leave a comment below and let us know what social media networks you use and how they are benefiting you.

Image courtesy of Social Media Examiner

3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Search Rankings

July 19th, 2012 ::

SEO

SEOMoz is a company that provides SEO and social monitoring software, and they publish a lot of interesting information based on their own research.  Use the following tips – all based on their research – to easily improve your search rankings:

1. Add fresh content.

Google rewards new content on your site.  If you publish a really useful blog post on a subject that is valuable to your readers, it will get shared via social media and receive some ranking love from Google.

Along those same lines, frequently updating your website is also viewed favorably – that could mean adding new case studies, media mentions, or a video to your homepage.

2. Focus on content titles.

Instead of focusing on clever titles for your blog posts, white papers, ebooks, and other content, focus on including all relevant keywords. By relevant, I mean keywords that people actually use in search, not what you think they use.

To find those keywords, simply use a keyword discovery tool like Wordtracker.  You will learn which keywords and phrases are competitive, meaning popular but not so popular everyone uses them.

3. Get social.

Google judges your content on more than 200 signals, all of which affect ranking.  Four of them are link-related: quantity, diversity, quality, and relevance. Quantity is lowered by quality, meaning relevant links are extremely important to your rankings.

To get relevant links, it is important for thought leaders to share your content and link back to it.  Start by following influential people on Twitter.  If you are engaged, retweet others’ tweets, mention people and companies, and publish interesting content, they will likely follow you back – and see and share your content.

***

Have you used any of the above tips to improve your own rankings?  What other tips have worked for you?  Share your ideas in the comments below!

Image courtesy of bradfordbarker.com

Automate Online Marketing and Stay Organized With IFTTT

June 6th, 2012 ::

Ifttt

In order to manager social media, small business owners do a lot of things, from downloading various apps to using social media dashboards.  I just read about another tool that you might want to consider using called Ifttt.

Funny name, cool service: Ifttt is short for “If this, then that” – basically, it’s a very easy way to automate your social media accounts.  Think of it like a game of dominos: You simply set a trigger for one service, and when that occurs, another action is immediately carried out.

Here are 3 ways Ifttt can work for you:

Link accounts so specific actions are automatic.

For example, post news and updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ at once and link your RSS feed so new blog posts are automatically shared.

Administrative grunt work will be easier.

Instead of changing account profile pictures one by one, all of your profile pictures will update across accounts – or on only two accounts.

You can keep track of your social media updates and shared links by sending them to Evernote and posting them on your Google Calendar.

If you use Google Reader, send blog post ideas to Evernote before you forget about them.

Organize yourself once and for all.

Keeping up with email is a never-ending task, but Ifttt makes it a lot easier.  Emails can be cleared out of your inbox by adding labels to Gmail messages and sending them to Evernote or your calendar.

Backing up documents, pictures, and email attachments can be done by sending them to Dropbox, and you can cross-post images on Instagram and Flickr, thus creating two archives.

Instead of juggling calendars and communication channels, notifications can be set up to keep you up-to-date.  For example, you can be informed of changes to your flight’s departure time and reminded about regular events, like your weekly staff meeting.

***

If you use Ifttt, what other ways has it made your life easier?  Share your ideas in the comments section below!

Image courtesy of socialmediarology.com

8 Changes to Google+ That Can Affect Your Marketing Efforts

May 10th, 2012 ::

Google+ logo

Just like any social network, Google+ is always changing its features and improving its user experience. Unfortunately for marketers, these changes mean added work, as we try to keep up with the best ways to use social media to interact with customers and clients.

In social media, however, change is inevitable – but you can get a quick handle on the recent Google+ changes simply by reading this article. In it, I’ll share the eight major changes on Google+ and how you can leverage them to boost your marketing efforts.

1.  Switch between Page Admin and Personal Account with ease.

This feature is great for marketers who like to keep up with both their business’s page and their own personal Google+ profile. When you click on your icon, a drop-down will appear with all the pages you manage. Or, you can use the navigation ribbon on the left of the screen to access your pages.

2.  Use the new top navigation to customize which pages you see.

Now you can add your two most important circles to the top navigation to keep tabs on your most loyal customers, newest prospects, or whomever else you choose. Adding your favorite circles is easy with a drag-and-drop feature you use from the left-hand navigation ribbon.

3.  Promote your page on the right-hand sidebar.

Now Google+ is recommending pages that users might want to check out in a space on the right-hand sidebar. While the exact nature of the algorithm used to determine this is unclear, the pages seem to be related to those followed by your circles. By building up your followers, you increase the chances your business will be featured here – which is basically like getting free advertising on Google+.

4.  Now you can easily see who is engaging with your page.

When you click on the +1 or Share icons of any post, an “activity drawer” opens to show you a thumbnail image and name of everyone who has shared that post in some way. This feature comes with a built-in incentive to +1 and share more since doing so means your name and image will be seen more.

5.  You can create better photo albums and videos.

Sharing photos and videos of your products and events adds interest to your page. Now, images are larger and full-bleed, meaning there are no borders. Use photos and videos to show the employees behind your company, to share PowerPoint or SlideShare presentations, or to share recorded hangout sessions (see below).

6.  Try out the new Hangouts Page.

This feature gives you yet another way to build community and communicate with your network. Hangouts are on the left-hand navigation and highlight live YouTube video chats others can join. You can see what’s being talked about, get feedback, and make pitches by joining relevant chats.

7.  Use the Trending Topics and Explore sections.

Now Trending Topics appear on the right-hand sidebar of people’s homepage so you can keep your eye on them. If you post about topics that are trending, you could get more visibility for your business in its new, more prominent location. Be sure to note that Google+ does not feature “Trending on Google+” on the home screen when you’re logged in as a page, so you’ll need to click on the “Explore” icon to see what people are talking about.

8.  The Header Image and Profile Photo have new features.

Now you can grab users’ attention with improved versions of these images. Your profile image is in a prominent space in the top right corner, and there’s more space for your photo strip. You can even change your photo strip layout to feature one large image – similar to Facebook – or keep the old five-photo scrapbook layout.

***

Now that you’re aware of the newest changes to Google+, you can proceed with your social media marketing efforts with confidence. Be sure to check the Grow Smart Business blog often for all the latest social media updates.

Image courtesy of frombogotawithlove.com

5 Must-Have Social Plug-Ins for Your Blog

April 30th, 2012 ::

Plug in socket

I love tools that make my busy blogging schedule easier, don’t you? If you are looking for simple plug-ins that encourage readers to share your blog content, look no further. These five social plug-ins will make your blog more share-worthy in no time.

1. and 2. Google-pleasing plug-ins

Pleasing Google should be at the top of every blogger’s to-do list because if you don’t appear in Google search results, new readers will have a harder time finding you.

The All in One SEO Pack lets you create your own custom title, description and keywords for each of your blog posts. Entering this information into the plug-in, which is located in your WordPress dashboard at the bottom of each post, helps search engines to index your content.

Inbound Writer is another useful plug-in that recommends keywords for you to focus on in your blog posts. The app analyzes your copy against websites you’ve pre-selected to determine which keywords are most relevant and will make your content more pleasing to Google. Inbound Writer even provides real-time analysis, showing you suggestions and an SEO score as you write.

2. Make Friends With Facebook

With 500 million users worldwide, it’s wise to make your blog as Facebook-friendly as possible. Since Facebook changes constantly, I recommend using Facebook’s own plug-ins to integrate with the social giant.

Try Facebook Social Plug-ins to allow your blog readers to Like and comment on your posts. These plug-ins require HTML to use, but Facebook provides step-by-step instructions for the less technical among us.

3. Be Pinterest-ing

Since Pinterest has become huge over the past year, it’s important to make your blog as visually appealing as possible, especially if you feature products in your posts. PhotoDropper lets you find creative commons images without the hassle of searching Flickr or Google Images.

PhotoDropper aggregates images and delivers them directly into your WordPress dashboard. Best of all, there’s no need to worry about licensing and attribution because the app makes sure you use and credit images correctly.

4. The Best All Around

If you want a plug-in that wrangles all your social sharing buttons into a tidy package, then you’ll want to try Digg Digg. You can decide which buttons to display as well as whether you want a top sidebar or a floating one. Digg Digg will display your buttons on each of your posts for easy sharing, along with the share count for each.

***

What other social plug-ins help make your blog more share-worthy? Why not share them with us, in the comments section below?

Image courtesy of clker.com

Marketing on Google+ Part 3: Top 3 Reasons You Should Use Google+

April 20th, 2012 ::
This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Marketing With Google+

Google + logo

Even though Google+ has gotten plenty of media attention since its 2011 launch, you may not be convinced that adding yet another social network to your company’s online strategy is worth the effort. After all, another social network means added work on top of an already busy schedule.

I know what you mean. I thought the last thing I needed was another task on my marketing to-do list, but after reading a recent interview with Guy Kawasaki, I am convinced that Google+ is well worth the effort. In this third article in our Google+ series, I will share three reasons every marketer should be on Google+.

1.  It’s the Wild West

Kawasaki likens the uncharted territory of Google+ to the Wild West because there’s still so much to discover about this robust platform. Smart marketers are staking their claim by getting on this network as soon as possible to jumpstart their Google+ communities. Right now Google+ has the advantage of being a wide open space, so it’s easier for marketers to get noticed there instead of trying to break through the noise of more crowded spaces like Facebook and Twitter.

2.  It has enormous SEO value

Let’s face it – Google is the most powerful, groundbreaking search engine in the world, and it seriously shook up search when it introduced the concept of “social search.” Now when users search on Google, they see their friends’ interactions on Google+, right alongside their search results. No other social network is so intimately integrated with Google’s search engine, so everything you do on Google+ has enormous SEO value for your company. Kawasaki recommends posting the type of content you want to be known for. Since Google basically controls search, it just makes sense to use its rapidly-growing social network to shape your own SEO strategy.

3.  Because Guy says so

I don’t know about you, but when someone as successful as Guy Kawasaki goes out of his way to promote a marketing tool, I take notes! Kawasaki admits that 99 percent of his social media efforts are now focused on Google+. That’s a serious endorsement. He says he loves the network, and he obviously sees great potential in its use for marketing, so I would suggest tuning in to anything this former Macintosh marketer has to say.

And how do you learn everything there is to know about marketing on Google+? Kawasaki recently published his new book, What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us, to help you launch and perfect your Google+ marketing strategy. Kawasaki’s self-published book boasts a low price point so everyone can get their hands on it, and since it’s an ebook, he can continuously update it as Google+ rolls out new features. You can check it out and get your copy here.

How about you? Has your company made the leap to Google+? What do you find to be its advantages/disadvantages, compared to other social networks?

Image courtesy of frombogotawithlove.com

Marketing on Google+ Part 2: How to Use Ripples

April 19th, 2012 ::
This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Marketing With Google+

Google + logo

In Part 2 of our Google+ series, I’ll show you how the Ripples feature makes identifying influencers and nurturing those important customer relationships easy.

While Google+ Circles seem to get the most attention, the fast-growing social network’s Ripples feature is an overlooked marketing gem. Ripples is an analytics tool that shows you who has shared each of your posts. Using interactive graphs, Ripples provides clear analysis of everyone who has passed along your content, as well as what they had to say about it.

What’s unique about Ripples is that it requires no configuration to get it working on your Google+ business page. While the most helpful tools on other platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, are often third-party apps, Ripples is built directly into the Google+ platform. To keep privacy concerns at bay, all posts analyzed by Ripples must have been sent out to “Public,” and the tool only displays those posts that were shared publicly as well.

How to Use Ripples

On every Public post that has been shared, you will find an arrow in the top right corner. Click the arrow to get to a drop-down containing “View Ripples.” When you click on this, you are presented with a graph of bubbles representing all the users who have shared that post.

Users who have contributed to the most shares will appear as larger bubbles in the graph, and you can find out what each user said about your content by scrolling over a bubble.

How to Find Influencers

Because users contributing to the most shares are displayed as larger bubbles, you can clearly see who is talking about your brand and sharing your content the most. These people are your influencers – those customers who help promote your brand the most online.

The tidy Ripples feature gives you an instant overview and identification of your influencers on Google+. Instead of sifting through text and browsing countless profiles, you can instantly see who is sharing and driving interaction for your business.

How to Group Influencers

After studying interaction on your social media pages, you begin to learn who your influencers are. With Facebook pages, businesses have no way to group these influencers using the Lists feature because it is only available on personal profiles. However, Google+ allows both individuals and businesses to create circles.

You can easily group your Google+ influencers into their own circle to further nurture these important customer relationships. Try sending out exclusive content, gathering feedback, and interacting individually with your influencers. Just be sure not to neglect the rest of your Google+ community.

Ripples gives marketers an easy-to-decipher visual representation of how well your content is performing on Google+. This information can help guide future marketing campaigns and assist you in conveying important data to management.

Have you unearthed this marketing analytics gem? How are you using Ripples to inform your marketing strategies?

Image courtesy of frombogotawithlove.com

Marketing on Google+ Part 1: 8 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Site

April 17th, 2012 ::
This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Marketing With Google+

Since its launch last year, Google+ has rocketed to social media stardom among marketing pros, but not everyone has closely examined what it can do for their own business’s bottom line. In this three-part series, I will show you how to leverage Google+ to boost your company’s online marketing performance.

This first article focuses on how to drive traffic to your website using Google+. Recently Google changed the SEO game by introducing “Search, plus Your World.” This new search concept revolves around Google’s idea that people want to see search results that are related to their personal history and their social profile. So, the +1 and Google+ posts are heavily integrated into the search results Google returns because it is factoring in your social profile in its search strategy.

What this means is that marketers have a world of new opportunities to leverage Google+ to build their SEO strategy and drive traffic to their site. Here are eight ways to do just that.

1.  Use Web links.

Web links help Google know how to categorize you, so try including links between your business’s website or blog and your brand page. These links help Google recognize authorship and remind it of what you’re all about. Google has its own badge creator to easily create links between your content.

2.  Grow your following.

In social media, usually quality trumps quantity, but it pays to have a larger following on Google+ because more followers means a higher search rank on Google. To grow your following, try getting the word out about your Google+ page. Use a badge, and mention it in print and online communications – even on Facebook and Twitter. Also, try leveraging your personal profile (and the personal profiles of your employees) to push out your brand page’s content. Since brand pages are only allowed to follow users who have already followed them, using your personal profile can help you attract more followers for your brand.

3.  Use their keywords, too.

Just like other SEO content strategies, you should think of what your customers will actually type into Google when they look for you. They many not type the industry-specific terms you optimize for, so think like your customer when creating keywords. Now, use those keywords in the About section of your page, and include them in posts so people can easily find your Google+ content when they search.

4.  Use images.

People tend to click on photos and videos more than links, so use them in your content for better engagement. Fill your page with interesting images, both across the top and throughout your posts. Also, many Google searches return images that are prominently displayed, so do your best to get your visual content in front of searchers.

5.  Condition Google to work for you.

In its quest to return better search results, Google has started including people and pages on Google+ that are related to the user’s search query. Although not all searches have this feature yet, being listed in search results is excellent exposure for your company. To train Google to categorize your content, making it more likely you will be featured in search results, be sure to keep your posts on topic and use consistent keywords. As you post on the same topic, you will be conditioning Google to include you in searches related to that topic.

6.  Consider authorship.

Google supports an authorship markup that lets you tag your work to show Google your writings all over the web. When people search for you, Google can pull together your tagged work and present it in a search results page. Setting up authorship is a bit more advanced, and would probably require its own post. For now, check out instructions on Google’s support blog.

7.  Use the +1 button.

According to Google, the +1 button is becoming a significant ranking factor for returning search results. You’ve probably noticed that search results now include the option to +1 a result. Use the +1 button wherever appropriate for your business so you can factor into Google results, too.

8.  Engage them.

As with all social media strategies, it’s important to engage your Google+ community with helpful information, exclusive content, and interesting photos. According to Google, one of the top things you can do to appear in search results is to post and to engage with other people’s posts on Google+. Be sure to +1 other people’s content, and experiment with your own to find out what is getting the best engagement. Later in this series, I’ll also introduce you to Ripples so you can see how Google+ is taking the art (and measure) of engagement to a whole new level.

So, there you have it – eight ways Google+ can drive traffic to your site that you can start using right now. Stay tuned for the rest of our three-part series on using Google+ to boost your business.

Image courtesy of frombogotawithlove.com

Does Your Google Page Rank No Longer Matter?

April 13th, 2012 ::

Page Rank

When it comes to Internet marketing, the rules can change quickly – sometimes overnight. As marketers, most of us have been meticulously developing our SEO strategies to achieve the best possible Google Page Rank for a while now. According to SEO pros, your Google Page Rank may not even matter anymore. But before you completely wipe this metric off your marketing to-do list, let’s take a closer look at why Page Rank has become irrelevant.

Page Rank cannot be tracked

Metrics are only useful if they can be tracked, and Page Rank is not one of those metrics. Even if you still check your Page Rank, Google delays that information for up to nine months. So, tracking the metric in real-time is impossible, making it useless for assessing your current performance.

Page Rank does not affect SEO

The link between Page Rank and SEO is fragile at best. Plenty of websites have a Page Rank of zero, and yet they still manage to get organic rankings and traffic for competitive search terms. Why bother with a number that does not affect your Web traffic’s “bottom line?”

Page Rank is not relevant for social media or real-time results

Social media content and real-time news are becoming increasingly relevant for search results. Page Rank really has nothing to do with either of these.  A tweet may have a Page Rank of zero, but it still makes its way into search results. And, breaking news stories – which are only a few minutes old – also come out on top in search results, and yet they haven’t had time to build a Page Rank either.

Page Rank is not a results-driven metric

Marketing metrics are all about results. Businesses want to keep track of things that get real results, such as revenue and customers, or things that lead to those results, such as leads. Page Rank can’t tell you if your marketing efforts are yielding any of those results, so why should businesses worry about it?

When you examine the facts, it really doesn’t make sense to worry about your Google Page Rank anymore. So, what should you do to improve your SEO performance? Your best bet for getting found online is to create useful and interesting content, optimizing it for search and promoting it through social media. In other words, although the rules may change, you can always count on the importance of great content for getting the online marketing results you want.

Image courtesy of creative design agency Arrae

10 Reasons Why Google Hates Your Blog

March 19th, 2012 ::

Why Google hates your blog

It may sound harsh, but it is possible that Google hates your blog. I know, I know – it’s hard to hear. But you can do something about it by eliminating the problem areas keeping your blog and Google from being friends. Here, in no particular order, are ten reasons why Google has a beef with your blog.

1.  You aren’t using your readers’ keywords.

So you’ve taken the time to come up with keywords for your blog and are sprinkling them into your posts so they read seamlessly. That is a great start, but what if your readers aren’t using the same keywords as you?

Good SEO requires an understanding of what people search for when they look for content such as yours. To hone in on the best keywords, put yourself in your readers’ shoes and ask, “If someone were searching for content like mine, which search terms would they type into Google? Those are your new keywords. Using the same words and phrases your readers use will help them find you in a Google search and increase your blog’s traffic.

2.  Your blog headlines don’t include your main keyword.

Precise, strategic marketing requires following SEO guidelines that deliver results. Good SEO practice involves placing keywords in your blog posts’ headlines (h1 text) and subheadings (h2 text) because these areas are weighted more than regular text. Be sure not to overlook these prime areas when placing keywords – doing so means missed SEO opportunities.

3.  You don’t link to older blog posts.

To help your readers discover other great content you’ve produced, you should always create links between your blog posts. If your blog is focused on a subject area, such as social media marketing, you will likely refer to information from your previous posts on a regular basis. Use this opportunity to reference this information with a link back to your older post, which will keep readers on your blog site longer. Google loves links, so try to include keywords in the copy that links back to older posts, to get the full SEO benefit.

4.  You aren’t linking to other bloggers.

Even though this tip may seem contradictory to the last one, you can get some SEO benefit from sending your readers to other blogs. Google likes to see bloggers sharing high-quality content with their audiences, even when that content was produced by another writer. Your readers will appreciate it too because occasionally sending them to other, helpful blog posts will add value to their own reading experience. To do this, consider writing a “best of” list post or simply incorporating a blogroll into your sidebar.

5.  You aren’t using enough bullet lists in your posts.

If you want Google to love your blog, use bullet lists. While they don’t have quite the effect on SEO as headlines, subheadings and links, bullet lists are more important to Google than regular text. Another plus for using bullet lists is that they help readers absorb your content more effectively. Use these lists to break up long passages of text, and don’t forget to use keywords. Placing them in first couple of words in each bullet works best.

6.  You aren’t using social media to promote your blog.

In its quest to provide valuable and relevant search results, Google is using social recommendations to decide whether your content is worthy. When people mention and link to your blog on social media, Google takes notice. Build a community around your blog using social media, and be active to get the comments going.

7.  You don’t use share buttons on your blog. 

To facilitate the previous tip, include share buttons on each and every post you write. Make it easy for readers to share your content with their own social networks by encouraging tweets and likes. Not only does Google like to see social recommendations on your own social media platforms, but it also likes to see your content being shared by everyone else. Besides increased Google love, you’ll also gain a larger audience for your blog.

8.  You confuse Google with too many topics.

I think it’s great to have a lot of different passions, but Google does not agree – at least from an SEO point of view. The best blogs are tightly focused on one main subject area. If your blog is too scattered, Google will not understand how to categorize it. And, if Google can’t decipher it, chances are it won’t get found. Your readers will appreciate your focus, too, because they know your blog will consistently provide valuable information on the topic they care most about.

9.  You don’t encourage comments.

Inviting your blog readers to leave comments creates a community around your blog posts. This sense of community is valuable for branding and enriching your blog, and it has SEO benefits, too. Comments add on to the content you’ve already created and give your blog a freshness that Google loves. An active commenting section also shows Google that your posts are still relevant to readers, long after they’ve been published. So get the conversation going with a question or simply an invitation to share after each post.

10.  Your blog is riddled with broken links.

Google hates broken links because they give the impression that you aren’t maintaining your blog. Broken links also create hiccups as Google is crawling your blog posts, because the crawlers keep running into dead ends. Simply put, broken links are bad for SEO, so check for them regularly to keep Google from getting frustrated.

***

After reading this list of ten reasons Google may hate your blog, you may be thinking that Google is very particular and perhaps bit persnickety. Just remember that good SEO practice is usually good practice for your readers, too. Making the changes above will help you and your blog be loved by readers and Google alike.

What other tips can you offer to keep the Google love flowing?

Image courtesy of creative design agency Arrae