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7 Types of Content That Search Engines Love

May 13th, 2013 ::

LoveOne of my favorite sources of marketing information is MarketingProfs – I learn so much from them. In a recent post, they wrote about the types of content that Google loves the most. I went through the list and pulled out the top 7 types that I thought were most relevant for small businesses – and that you are probably already doing.

Here are the 7 types of content that search engines like and you should be creating (if you’re not already):

1 – Interviews

Search engines like interviews for 4 main reasons: they get read, they get backlinks from the interviewee (bonus if the persons is an expert), backlinks are from trusted sites, and the content is unique.

You don’t need to conduct interviews in person unless you want to tape it and turn it into a video. I conduct most of my interviews via phone, but you can do them via email, too.

2 – Lists

Lists are usually fun, easy to scan, and easy to read – and readers love them. Search engines like them as long as the content is unique, and – bonus for you – they can be really easy to write.  You can do lists of your favorite industry books or blogs, best airports for business travelers, best pieces of advice you ever got, top industry best practices – you get the idea.

3 – Resource Centers

Creating a resource center on your website is a new content marketing trend for small businesses.  Think of it as a library of your content – ebooks, top blog posts by category, products, services, FAQs, etc. Because people share them, link to them, and spend time on them, search engines love them.

4 – Social

Did you know that Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks are pulled up when you conduct a search? So, yes, the quality of the content you post on your social media accounts – and the amount of interaction it gets – helps boost your search rankings.

5 – Case Studies

Because case studies built around client success stories are interesting, people read them and share them. Your customers will link back to and share your blog posts, all of which is activity search engines really like – but you know that by now, don’t you?

6 – Predictions

You know the blog posts and articles that always come out around the new year that list industry predictions? People love them, read them, comment on them, and share them, so they tend to great search rankings.

7 – User-Generated Content

Search engines love user-generated content, whether it’s blog posts, images, or videos. Hold a contest that requires entrants to submit original content; if you allow others to comment on and vote for submissions, search engines will go crazy for all of the interaction.

Have you created content that showed up in the top of search results? What drove so much interaction?

Image courtesy of 123rf.com

6 Top Myths of Social Media

May 6th, 2013 ::

mythsDespite the incredible amount of information out there on how to use social media for marketing, a few bad practices still linger. At best, following them makes you look like you’re new to social media, but at worst, you could get flagged for spam.

Here are the top 6 worst practices, or myths, in social media:

1 – You MUST be active on every social media network.

Well, sure, if you want to waste your time, go for it! But it’s highly doubtful your customers are active on every social network. Beyond Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you really have to do your research to see if your audience uses Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, etc. Some popular social media listening tools include Google Alerts and Social Mention.

2 – Automate all updates to save time.

The first rule of thumb when it comes to social media is to be social. Do you automate texts, emails, and phone calls to your friends? Of course not! You can’t have a conversation that way. You can automate certain things, like blog posts and major news releases to go out, but otherwise, treat social media like a cocktail party and be present.

3 – Auto-DM new Twitter followers.

Automatically sending your new Twitter followers a direct message (DM) is such an impersonal, spammy practice that it will leave a negative impression on your followers and make you look like you have no clue what you’re doing. Instead, send them a short, public note around your area of interest: “@newfollower Thanks for the follow! What aspect of social media are you most frustrated by?”

4 – Auto-publish the same content on every social network.

Again, this will make you look like you don’t know what you’re doing, because every social network is different. It’s OK to tweet and pin a few times a day, but it’s not OK to post on Facebook or LinkedIn a few times a day.

5 – Respond to all negative comments.

While it is generally a good idea to respond to negative comments in order to fix a situation, remember that some people are just mean. Instead of getting into a virtual shouting match, do what you can to address the complaint, and then leave it. That person will only look worse, while you’ll look better for taking the high ground.

6 – Just wing it.

If you want to actually generate results, you can’t “wing” social media. You need to have a plan. For starters, you need to know what content you will post where and how often. If you want to learn more, check out one of my recent blog posts, The Online Marketing Project, Part 2.

What other social media practices make businesses look like they don’t know what they’re doing?

Image courtesy of lifehappens.org

How to Find the Best Keywords for Your Business

April 25th, 2013 ::

Typing on a keyboardI was recently tweaking my website, and one thing I did was make sure I had the right keywords integrated throughout the site. That little exercise got me thinking about how to identify the best keywords for a business, especially one that is in a highly competitive industry or market.

Let’s back up real quick. For those who don’t know what a keyword is, Google defines it as “any word or short phrase that describes a website topic or page. The more a keyword is used by searchers and websites, the more attraction power it has.”

Keywords are important. If you want to rank high on a search list, you need to do two basic things: create new content to keep your site fresh and use strong keywords throughout your content and Web pages.

Here’s how to audit your website and identify what keywords to use:

Give each Web page a purpose

Look through your website and make a list of each page: name, category (product page, about page, etc.) purpose. By defining your pages, you will have a clearer idea of what keywords to research and which keywords to use on which pages.

Brainstorm keywords for each page

Go back to your page list. Quickly think of the keywords that are most likely to be used when conducting a search on that topic. If keywords overlap from one page to another, that is perfectly OK. No need to edit – yet!

Check your list against the Google Keyword Tool

This tool sets the standard when it comes to keyword research – webmasters and SEO experts rely on it.  Simply type in a word or phrase, and you’ll get a list of similar keywords with a count of how often each word is searched, along with info on which words advertisers think have most value.

Keep in mind that the more competitive (valuable) a keyword is, the harder it will be to rank high in search results for that keyword. Revisit your list, and throw those out. Don’t be tempted to use keywords that rank super low; no one uses them. Your best bet is to go for medium-values.

Consider using long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are entire phrases – like “non-toxic ways to get rid of ants” rather than “pest control.” They are less competitive, but they work very well for SEO purposes, and they convey user intent, which is great for lead conversion purposes.

Do some competitive analysis

Use the keywords you chose to conduct searches. As your competitors pop up, take a look at their sites. What meta-titles are they using (those appear at the very top of the browser window)? Next, conduct a keyword search for your competitors’ sites using semrush.com (handy little tool, isn’t it?) to understand what they’re being found for.

Finalize your list

Now that you have done all that research, plug your almost-final list of keywords back into the Google Keyword Tool to make sure they’re not too competitive, but that they do deliver results. Finalize your list, integrate them on your website, and you’re good to go!

Have you ever done in-depth keyword research? What did you learn?

Image courtesy of 123rf.com

What Do Women Want When They Shop?

April 22nd, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

The way women shop is changing, with brick-and-mortar stores no longer the focus, reports the second annual SheSpeaks/Lippe Taylor Women’s Buying Behavior Index. The study polled some 2,152 women in the past two months about their buying habits and future purchasing plans.

The biggest finding? Shopping no longer starts in stores, but online. Asked how they most often research products, some 71 percent of women say they use their desktop/laptop and 18 percent chose a mobile phone or tablet. Just 6 percent said they research by actually browsing in a physical store; amost as many (5 percent) say they ask friends and family.

Where do women most often make the actual purchase? Even when it comes to buying, digital still has a slight edge, with 47 percent saying they most often buy via desktop/laptop. Forty-five percent most often go to the store. Just 8 percent say they most often buy via mobile phone or tablet.

While mobile devices aren’t women’s top choice for making the purchase, they are heavily used for other types of shopping behavior:

  • 53 percent use phones and other devices to find store locations and hours
  • 49 percent use mobile devices in-store to look up and compare prices
  • 46 percent use them to search for coupons
  • 41 percent use them to get detailed product information
  • 24 percent use them to make purchases

If you’re trying to target women with your marketing messages, you’ll want to know when they typically do their research. Most (43 percent) said they research at home during the day; 42 percent say they research at home at night. Just 9 percent did product research at work and only 7 percent did so at home on the weekends.

Women’s purchasing habits don’t just affect the products and services they buy for themselves. Women not only wield major influence over men, they actually buy for them. Asked in what categories they are the primary shopper for their husband or boyfriend, 71 percent say apparel; 69 percent say grooming products; 51 percent cited travel; 39 percent said technology products; 29 percent said financial products and services and 18 percent said cars.

What does it mean to your business?

Online research is a huge factor in the purchasing process for women, with nearly 90 percent of women regularly going online on computer, tablet or phone before they buy. Make sure you provide all the information women need to make their decision, including:

  • Reviews and ratings of your business
  • Local search information about your business so women can more easily find you
  • Search-optimized website that drives women to your site when they use the keywords relevant to your business to search for information

Another huge takeaway? Even if you sell products and services for men, you need to take women into account, since women are buying just about everything for men (and, if not actually buying, most likely having input into the decision). When you picture your target customer, picture his wife or girlfriend, too, and target specific marketing messages to her.

Image by Flickr user Kevin Ryder (Creative Commons)

Why Local Search Matters to Your Business

April 19th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Are you taking advantage of all the ways local search can drive users to your business? The 6th Annual 15miles/Neustar Localeze Local Search Usage Study, conducted by comScore, found that local search is more important than ever in attracting customers and closing sales. Here’s some of what they found, and what it means to your business.

Search is the primary activity consumers conduct on mobile devices is search. Nearly 86 million Americans regularly look for local business information on their smartphones. Last year, the total number of visitors to search sites and search apps grew by 26 percent on smartphones and 19 percent on tablets.

In contrast, PC/laptop searches are in decline. The percentage of local searchers who say PCs/laptops are their main way of accessing local search sites has dropped by 7 percent year-over-year.

There are important differences in how users search on laptops/PCs, tablets and mobile phones:

Mobile phone searchers are more concerned about accuracy rather than depth of information. They are more likely than tablet users to say maps, driving directions and distance are helpful to them.

PC/laptop searches are more likely to take place earlier in the purchase process, during the research stage. In contrast, mobile and tablet searches were more likely to be used in the middle or at the end of the purchase process. These searches were also more likely to lead to a purchase. Just 59 percent of PC searches resulted in a purchase, but 78 percent of mobile phone searches and 77 percent of tablet searches did.

Local searches on tablets are declining too, dropping from 64 percent to 48 percent compared to last year. This suggests tablet users are becoming less mobile with the device, and is probably why they are more interested in in-depth information than mobile phone searchers are.

Accuracy of information was the most important factor for all three types of searchers; however, tablet and PC/laptop searchers gave slightly more importance to depth of content than they did last year.

What can you do to benefit from all types of local searches?

  • Make sure your business is represented on local search sites such as Local.com, Bing and Citysearch.com.
  • Provide driving, map and distance information to help users find your business.
  • Regularly check your listings to make sure they’re still accurate.
  • Provide as much detail as you can to help shoppers make the decision to visit your business, whatever device they are using.
  • Make it easy to contact you quickly with a click-to-call button or prominently displayed phone number for customers on the go.

Image by Flickr user vestman (Creative Commons)

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: Infocaptor Bubble My Page (SEO Tool)

March 20th, 2013 ::


If you’re having a hard time figuring out whether your SEO strategy is working and you’re struggling to make sense of your website analytics, sometimes it helps if you can visualize the data. Infocaptor’s Bubble My Page scans your website for word content and coverts the keywords into a bubble word cloud so you can see what words you’ve used often on any given page of your website. (Only the first 100,000 bytes are read from any page.) The tool is useful to help you keep on target when writing content for your site by providing an easy way to visualize whether you’re sticking to your keywords and topics.

8 Ways to Use SlideShare for Content Marketing

March 14th, 2013 ::

SlideShareLet me just preface this blog post by saying that SlideShare is owned by LinkedIn. That should already give you a clue as to why you should use SlideShare, especially based on my previous blog post about using LinkedIn to grow your business. But let me back up a sec.

SlideShare is the world’s largest content-sharing community for professionals. According to this nifty infographic created by Column Five Media, it gets 60 million visitors a month who view 3 billion slides. In fact, Slideshare gets way more traffic from business owners than Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

We all know content marketing is the name of the marketing game nowadays, so if you are B2B and want to reach business owners, SlideShare is it. Here are 8 ways to use this amazing community for content marketing:

1. Gussy up presentations

Take a look at your PowerPoint presentations – are they chock full of good information that your target market would find relevant, interesting, and useful? Great – turn it into a slide.

Make sure your content is simple and straightforward:

  • Keep each slide focused on one idea
  • Only use graphics and images that support your messages
  • Rewrite content to make it self-explanatory

2. Convert ebooks and whitepapers

To really expand the reach of your ebooks and whitepapers, turn them into slides. Just use the above checklist to make sure they are good to go.

3. Tell stories

Put together a new slide based on customer success stories or use cases. Stories resonate with readers, so if they’re compelling, your slide could end up generating quite a few leads.

4. Add contact info and social links

At the end of your slide, add a page with contact information – an email, website address, and/or phone number – and links to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. accounts.

5. Include a call-to-action

If people like what you created, give them a good reason to contact you. Add a slide that explains what you do, how you can help them, and why they should contact you.

6. Double check for keywords and phrases

Search engines analyze the content in your slides when generating search results. Double check that your slides integrate the keywords and phrases you want to be found for.

7. Allow sharing

When you add your slide to SlideShare, you can choose to keep your slide public or private. Make it public so people can find it, view it, comment on it, and share it.

8. Provide an embed code

If you are comfortable letting other people use your content on their website or in their blog, choose to provide an embed code.

Do you use SlideShare? If yes, what content has done the best? If not, are you convinced you should start using it?

Image courtesy of SlideShare

Meet the Mobile Super-Shoppers

March 1st, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Is your small business reaching out to Hispanic consumers on their mobile devices? If not, you’re missing out on a big opportunity. New research reported by eMarketer shows that Hispanic consumers are not only far more likely than non-Hispanics to use mobile devices, but are also far more likely to use them to shop.

A study from Acosta Sales & Marketing found that Hispanic consumers, in particular, are more likely than the average shopper to use a smartphone (51 percent of Hispanics vs. 41 percent of all consumers), regularly use text messaging (47 percent vs. 42 percent) and use mobile apps (19 percent vs. 14 percent).

According to a study from Leo Burnett and Lapiz, Hispanic consumers are 7 percent more likely than non-Hispanic consumers to use their mobile phones to shop (56 percent vs. 33 percent of non-Hispanics). They’re also more likely to shop with a tablet (43 percent of Hispanics do so, vs. 25 percent of non-Hispanics).

The same Leo Burnett/Lapiz study reports that Hispanics are far more likely than non-Hispanics to make shopping a social activity, whether they’re shopping online or off:

  • Nearly half (48 percent) of Hispanics use social networking sites as part of their shopping activities, while only 31 percent of non-Hispanics do so.
  • Hispanics are twice as likely to share their opinions of products or brands and write product reviews on social media sites (36 percent of Hispanics do so, vs. 18 percent of Non-Hispanics).
  • Hispanics are more than twice as likely to reach out to friends and family for help with shopping decisions (37 percent of Hispanics do so, vs. 17 percent of non-Hispanics).

What do these numbers mean to you? First, with Hispanics a growing segment of the U.S. population, there’s scarcely a business out there that shouldn’t be reaching out to them. To attract these super-shoppers, consider:

  • Creating a mobile app for your business that lets customers do something more easily, whether that’s getting product quotes or making purchases directly on their phones.
  • Making it easy for consumers to share information from your website or ecommerce site or social media accounts with friends and family, whether via email, social media or text messaging.
  • Have an active presence in social media and make sure your business is represented on ratings and review sites.
  • Taking advantage of text messaging, since Hispanic consumers are actively engaged in it. But be careful: Don’t overstep your welcome or send too many texts.

Image by Flickr user moodboard photography (Creative Commons)

B2B Marketing Budgets Are on the Rise in 2013—Is Yours?

February 6th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

If your small business markets products or services to other businesses, you may want to consider boosting your marketing budget for 2013 if you haven’t already. A new survey from BtoB Online found that nearly half of B2B companies are increasing their marketing spending for this year.

BtoB’s 2013 Outlook: Marketing Priorities and Plans report polled over 300 B2B marketers and found:

What are marketers spending?

Some 48.7 percent of marketers say they will increase their budgets this year, up from 40.1 percent last year. About 41 percent will keep their budgets the same, down from 48.4 percent last year. Meanwhile, 9.5 percent will cut their budgets, down from 10.8 percent in 2012.

Where are they spending it?

Some 67.2 percent of marketers say they will increase their spending on digital marketing this year. Of those, 70.1 percent will spend more on website development, 61.9 percent on email marketing, 56 percent on social media, 55.8 percent on online video and 52.5 percent on search.

In addition, 72.2 percent of B2B marketers say content marketing is part of their marketing plan. The most popular platforms for content marketing are websites (93 percent), social media (65.4 percent), print (47.5 percent) and mobile (20.9 percent).

What do marketers hope to achieve?

B2B marketers report their number-one marketing goal this year is demand generation/customer acquisition, cited by 69.3 percent. The second most important goal, increasing brand awareness, was way behind, cited by 17.6 percent. In third place: customer retention, cited by 13.1 percent.

Who’s going mobile?

More B2B marketers are integrating mobile marketing, but there’s still a way to go. Some 32.7 percent of respondents say they currently use mobile in their marketing strategy, while 35.5 percent say they plan to spend more on mobile marketing this year.

What are they automating?

Better aligning marketing and sales is a key goal for B2B marketers this year. Some 52.3 percent say they will spend money on sales enablement platforms, while 50.8 percent plan to invest in marketing automation systems.

What old-fashioned marketing method still matters?

It’s not all digital and mobile. For many B2B companies, events are still crucial to their marketing strategy. In fact, some 41.5 percent of survey respondents say they will increase their event budgets for 2013.

Editor’s Note: Network Solutions offers an easy way to build a website for mobile devices in mere minutes: goMobi™, powered by dotMobi.

Image by Flickr user Andy Roberts Images (Creative Commons)

What Marketing Strategies Are You Spending on in 2013?

January 22nd, 2013 ::

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

How does your small business’s marketing budget for 2013 compare to that of your competitors? A new survey by StrongMail has some insights. Overall, businesses are bullish on marketing for 2013, with a total of 89 percent saying they will either increase or maintain their level of marketing spending in the coming year. (Some 45 percent will increase their marketing budgets and 44 percent will keep them the same.)

Email marketing, social media and mobile marketing will be the main focus of investment this year. More than half (55.5 percent) of marketing executives report plans to spend more on email marketing campaigns in 2013; 51.8 percent say they will spend more on social media; 42.8 percent say they will increase spending on mobile marketing; and 39.8 percent will boost spending on search marketing.

Two-thirds of the companies in the survey report they will spend more on mobile marketing programs such as mobile apps (39 percent) and SMS alerts (21 percent). Overall, mobile marketing spending will increase by 11 percent compared to 2012.

When it comes to social media, where are marketers putting most of their efforts? Facebook dominates, with 60 percent of businesses saying Facebook is the most valuable social media channel for them. Twitter and YouTube ranked second and third, respectively. Google and Pinterest were somewhere in the middle, cited by 31 percent of marketers, while Yelp, Instagram and LinkedIn brought up the rear.

Email is a strong area of growth for marketers, who plan to use it for a variety of purposes this year. While at one point some experts were predicting that social media would make email obsolete, marketers are figuring out email’s value in growing their social media presence and customer engagement. That’s reflected in the 46 percent who say they will spend more on emails to drive growth to their social media channels, such as Facebook or Twitter. In addition, 38.8 percent will spend more on promotional emails, and 34.7 percent will spend more on email newsletters.

Where aren’t marketers spending? Direct mail, trade show participation and traditional advertising will take the biggest hits. Some 37.4 percent report they plan to cut spending on direct mail, 33.6 percent will cut back on trade show spending and 23 percent will decrease spending on advertising in 2013.

You can view a PDF of the full survey results here.

Image by Flickr user Jay Freshuk (Creative Commons)