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Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

Add Personality To Your Website: Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part XI

By John Joyce on March 30, 2010 - Comments 1

There has been a great deal written over the past year regarding the value of including video on your small business website.  The two main objections we hear over and over again are 1) I don’t have the time to create video content and 2) I don’t have the budget for the equipment and editing software.

Click to view interactive online marketing ecosystem.

Many of us said we didn’t have time to blog but now it’s a regular part of our daily/weekly routine and has become second nature.  So, the next logical progression is to begin integrating some interactive and engaging video content that will boost traffic and also keep visitors on your site longer.

Is there someone you would like to interview that your readers would find interesting?  Could you create a demo of a product or service that would be more compelling than a simple blog post?

So, you’re going to need a video camera (if you don’t already have one that can be plugged into your computer), editing software, and knowledge of integrating video into your website.

If you don’t feel comfortable getting involved in the editing and slicing of your content, you should check out a new service from Pixability where they send you a Flip camera, you shoot your video and send the camera back, and they create a professionally edited video masterpiece and send it back to you.

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Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part IX: Crowdsourced Buzz

By John Joyce on March 23, 2010 - Comments 1

small businesses using crowdsourcing to create buzz

We "digg" the stuff you write on your blog!

If the first two requirements of effective blogging are 1) an enticing headline and 2) valuable content, then #3 would be choosing a topic that is so hot that your readers are going to share it with the masses on sites like Digg and Reddit.  These types of crowdsourced buzz platforms allow the collective community to drive awareness and create buzz around user submitted news and blog posts.  As you have more than likely already learned,  the more posts you write, the better you’ll be able to understand what type of headlines and content are catching people’s attention and you’ll begin to discover your “voice”.  Promoting your blog to these platforms is a bit different from the basic SEO strategy implemented within your site, so I’ll review some of the specifics to help you develop your own “external buzz strategy”.  (Since Digg is currently the most popular platform, I’ll use that as my point of reference when citing examples and tactics)

Crowdsourced buzz for small business

Click image to see interactive online marketing ecosystem

Once a post makes it to one of these sites, you can notify your network to start fanning the flames by voting and forwarding the link.  Of course, as is true with many of these “exposure platforms”, there is etiquette that must be followed in the course of presenting content to the masses.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t submit your own content to Digg.  If possible, ask friends to submit for you.
  2. If your friends are going to submit your content, make sure they also submit additional content from other sources at the same time.
  3. As mentioned in the beginning of this post, write a compelling headline and description.
  4. Be active in the Digg community by voting, developing your profile and inviting friends.

This might sound like a lot of work but getting “Dugg on Digg” can drive substantial traffic to your site.  Actively participate in the community and you should be justly rewarded.

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Optimizing For Google Images To Strengthen Your Keyword Exposure

By John Joyce on March 19, 2010 - Comments 0

Optimize Images For Better Search Results

Make Sure Images Help "Tell The Story" To Search Engines

Always be optimizing. This is the mindset required to drive and strengthen your online presence to the point where you are always “found” wherever people are searching for your keywords. This includes prospects who are searching Google Images.  You have to view images as additional mechanisms for delivering your keyword content.

Believe it or not, images do more than simply make a blog post more appealing to the eye. They actually allow you to include additional “search engine friendly” content within your images that compliments your overall page/site SEO goals.  Once you implement this process in your overall routine, you’ll see it become more and more automatic over time.

Content management systems (CMS), like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal help automate the process of optimization and keep you from having to write any html code yourself.  If you are actually writing your own code, the syntax is very straightforward and you can learn more here.

The main theme here is to treat images like the rest of your content and make sure you do the following 3 things:

  1. Give your image a descriptive title.  As soon as you download an image from a service like iStockphoto, change the cryptic file name that looks like 08948istockphoto23bizimage.jpg.
  2. Make sure the body content and image content are consistent and working toward the same target audience.
  3. When possible, choose content that is very popular at this moment in time and somehow relates to the information you’re presenting.  See my post regarding Susan Boyle.

Just remember that content is still king and there’s no excuse for missing an opportunity to boost your exposure/rank with the search engines by delivering the most optimized content possible.  If you’re posting images on your websitesite/blog, you must now add “image optimization” to your regular operating procedures.

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Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part V: Create A Playbook

By John Joyce on March 6, 2010 - Comments 0

I mentioned in my last post that I would discuss the “how to” of implementing operational efficiencies within your social marketing efforts so let’s get to it.  Friends and clients are always asking me, “is this social media thing really worth the time and effort?”   My answer is, “it doesn’t have to take a lot of your time as long as you 1) Carve out a set allotment of time each day to develop conversation points and 2) Identify the appropriate tools to automate and streamline the delivery process.  The graphic below is only a small portion of the tools making up the “Twitterverse”:

Twitter Tools for Small Business Owners

Click Image to View Interactive Online Marketing Ecosystem

As a consultant, I work with clients during regular business hours so it’s most efficient for me to execute social media tactics early in the morning.  The overarching goal is to remain top of mind within your “community” by consistently helping, sharing and soliciting feedback.

Here’s a quick example of linking together several tools to more efficiently bring your message to social media platforms:

Communicating Across Several Social Media Channels

Click Image to View Interactive Online Marketing Ecosystem

It might take some time for you to figure out what tools fit your specific social media needs but, once you’ve identified the most effective system, you’ll actually find yourself able to focus on content creation instead of manual distribution.  You make time each morning to brush your teeth and have a cup of coffee so your social media efforts should be just as automatic.

I’ve shown you the tools; now it’s up to you to put them to good use.  Also, please let me know if there are any tools you’re using that you would like to share with us.

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Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part III: Spread The Word

By John Joyce on March 4, 2010 - Comments 0

blogging communities, bloglines, blogged, small business blog

Click Image to View Interactive Online Marketing Ecosystem

As you will read throughout this series of posts, creating content is only half the battle.  The real work is identifying and managing outlets where you can share your message and extend your reach.

There are several blogging communities that allow you to create your own blog within a community and then, there are also blog directories where your self-hosted blog content is aggregated and accessible to all visitors and subscribers.

Take a look around and research some of these sites and services to see where you can get exposure for your blog content.  Sites like Blogged allow you to submit your blog and then will automatically pick up your posts as you release new content.

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Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part II: Start The Conversation

By John Joyce on March 2, 2010 - Comments 1

Previously, I discussed building the foundation for your online marketing ecosystem by crafting your core message and consistently communicating it to your target audience by using the many online tools available to small business owners today.  But what are those tools?

Online Marketing Ecosystem for Small Business

Click Image to View Interactive Online Marketing Ecosystem

Several weeks ago, Chris Brogan wrote about using mind mapping to collect his thoughts and organize information for blog posts, speeches, etc.  I did some research and found a product called MindMeister that has allowed me to create a graphical representation of the online marketing universe.  Since there are so many communication tools/services/platforms available, I’ve decided to break it down into bite size pieces starting with the easiest and most cost effective way for you to begin promoting your business online.

Blogging

The most powerful tool in your “let’s get found online” arsenal is a blog.  The top six blog platforms are listed in the graphic above with the most popular being WordPress.  ( I use WordPress for my blog and also as the Content Management System for my website)  I think WordPress is the best platform simply because of the seemingly endless supply of useful plug-ins and widgets that extend its functionality.  But, regardless of the platform, the most important advice I can offer is to make sure you choose a self-hosted solution. (see my post from Friday for more details)  And, finally, here are six reasons why your business needs a blog:

  • Boost your organic rank (by consistently reiterating your core message and keywords)
  • Position yourself and/or your business as THE subject matter expert(s) which increases your “authority” with the search engines.
  • Start conversations with prospects, customers and peers by posting thought provoking advice, stories and anecdotes.  Believe it or not, blogging is very much a two way street.
  • Firmly establish and manage your online reputation by consistently sharing useful information with the very people who are searching for you online.
  • Your site visitors can choose to subscribe to your blog and receive the information in a way that suits them best – via email, straight RSS feed, or within their favorite feed reader.
  • The only cost you incur with blogging is time.

Start the Conversation + Maintain Consistent, Quality Content = Acquired Authority and Trust

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Stop What You’re Doing And Confirm You’ve Done These 3 Things!

By John Joyce on February 26, 2010 - Comments 0

3 Things Small Businesses Need To DoIt’s Friday and we’re all busy trying to close out the week strong but there’s no time like the present when it comes to improving your chances of “being found” online.  I continue to see websites that could substantially improve their SEO with very simple changes but, for whatever reason, it never gets done.  So, I recommend you check the following and fix (if not today, over the weekend):

Page Titles: Do you have page titles?  Do you succinctly describe the value you offer?  If the answer is, “no”, get to work.  Your page titles can be the most important search copy on your entire site.  Experiment.  Try different copy and see what performs best.

Blog: Your blog is also very important to organic rank so you need to make sure your site, http://www.yourdomain.com, gets credit for that content.  This means you don’t want http://yourdomain.blogger.com or http://yourdomain.wordpress.com because the content is separate from your website.  Secondly, if you self-host your website, you want your content in a subfolder and not a subdomain. http://blog.yourdomain.com is seen by the search engines as a different domain, therefore, the content is not credited to http://www.yourdomain.com.  We recommend you use http://www.yourdomain.com/blog instead.

301 Permanent Redirect: Do you know if http://yourdomain.com is permanently forwarded to http://www.yourdomain.com?  It seems like this is already done because they both take you to your website, right?  The easiest way to check is to visit http://bit.ly/duz3xu and type in http://yourdomain.com and click the “check redirects” button.  Here are the results from my check:

Checked link: http://thesmallbiznest.com

Type of redirect: 301 Moved Permanently

Redirected to: /

If you don’t know how to do these things yourself, check with your hosting company, website developer and blogging forums for step by step directions pertaining to your specific configuration.

Good Luck!

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Why Is Transparency So Hard?

By John Joyce on February 23, 2010 - Comments 0

Small Business trust and transparencyIt’s really not that complicated.  Our parents taught us growing up that honesty and respect breed trust, right?  Those two simple core values are vital components to success in any aspect of your life.  Chris Brogan, blogger extraordinaire and author of Trust Agents, says, “Today, the most valuable online currency isn’t the dollar, but trust itself.”  So, why do so many forget this simple fact?

President Obama offered “total transparency” during his campaign for the office he now holds.  It sounded simple enough.  “The system is broken and we need to involve the people we represent in the legislative process.”  That’s what I heard.  That’s what I expected.  Boy was I wrong.  Not even translucency.

Toyota is the number one auto maker in the world and has enjoyed a spotless reputation for decades.  I had a Toyota Camry for five years and never spent an extra penny for anything beyond scheduled maintenance costs.  I think Toyota is one of the best (tied with Honda) at listening to their customers, turning that feedback into action and delivering a reliable product at a reasonable price.  But, they recently strayed from their core values.  They had enormous goodwill (trust equity) in the bank and all they needed to do was tell the truth about faulty gas pedals, fix the problem and move on.  Their lack of transparency, however,  will now cost them much more than replacement parts and labor.

Now, if you would like to see the antithesis of the previous examples I’ll turn my attention to Hubspot.  Hubspot recently schooled us all on operating transparently and protecting the trust of customers and supporters.  If you’re not familiar with Hubspot, check out the book Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media).  Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, co-founders of Hubspot, have created an entire platform to help businesses transition from outbound marketing (interruption marketing) to “getting found” with inbound marketing strategies.

There is no better free marketing information available online than the quality content that’s available from Hubspot.  That’s right, I said FREE.  Blog posts, video content, white papers, and a suite of “grader” applications that allow you to gauge the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts.  I love the knowledge and insight these guys share on a regular basis.  They’re really smart and I trust what they’re saying because it works.

Rewind to February 11, 2010.  Blog posts start popping up alerting readers that Twitter.Grader has been hacked and “Twitter users who have granted access to their accounts to Twitter.Grader have all begun tweeting a bizarre and unauthorized message.”  Holy crap!  What do you do?  Pretend it didn’t happen?  Blame someone else?  Nope.  You fix the issue and immediately address your customers in a blog post.

Not only did Dharmesh co-author a great book on inbound marketing but he also wrote a primer on “Transparency 101″ – condensed below:

Honesty: “#1.  It was my fault.  I developed Twitter Grader — and I’m the one that developed this particular feature that ended up getting hacked.  I should have known better.  I was an idiot.”

Respect Customer Fears/Needs: “#2.  HubSpot is being super-paranoid about how we deal with the issue.  We’re shutting down several of the grader.com applications (not just Twitter Grader) and will be reactivating them on completely new servers with increased security.  This level of caution is likely overkill (and expensive), but it’s the least we can do.”

Keep/Build the Trust: “#3. OAuth is a very good thing. For those of you that don’t know what OAuth is, it’s what allows users to grant access to specific applications without revealing their username/password. Twitter supports OAuth. As such, Twitter Grader allowed users to “authorize” access. This is much better than asking users for their user name and password. Because of OAuth, although the malicious user was able to post to people’s twitter accounts, they never had access to the user’s account credentials. Given that many people use the same username/password on multiple websites, this could have been very dangerous. But, OAuth ensured that the problem was much more contained.

Kudos to Dharmesh and the rest of the team at Hubspot!

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The Small BizNest Has Been Added to Alltop

By John Joyce on January 27, 2010 - Comments 1

I just wanted to write a quick post to let everyone know that our site has been added to Alltop. (under the Small Business category)  You can think of Alltop as the “online magazine rack” of the web where they display the five most recent headlines of the “top”  information sources.  You can actually create a “MyAlltop” page and identify the news sources you want to view on a regular basis and also share that custom page with others. This doesn’t change the way you currently access our blog, it simply gives you another option for viewing our small business news and insights.

Featured in Alltop

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Do You Know How To Reach Your Target Audience?

By admin on February 20, 2009 - Comments 0

As business owners adjust their modus operandi in response to the current unprecedented economic downturn, inbound marketing will rise to the top of their priority list.  If marketing to the disinterested is counterproductive in a booming economy then it’s an even greater waste of time and money today.

The days of “inviting everyone to the party” are behind us.  Mass marketing is dead.  It’s time to welcome the era of advocacy marketing where you position yourself/your company as a trusted partner to customers and prospective customers.  By developing and sharing relevant information and guidance you will attract more qualified inquiries.  Build it and they will come.  Even if the prospect isn’t ready to purchase, they’re likely to recommend your product or service to a friend since you have effectively presented value.

The concept of inbound marketing is fairly new and can be comprised of many different mechanisms such as landing pages, SEO, social networks, and blogging.  There are services out there like HubSpot which aggregates analytics from the various mechanisms, however; it’s not a silver bullet.  Content is still king and you are responsible for developing a consistent message across all media.

New Marketing Labs announced on Tuesday that it acquired the Inbound Marketing Summit which should prove to be a very worthwhile event this year.  You’ll have the opportunity to hear Chris Brogan, David Meerman Scott and Paul Gillin share the latest strategies, tools and best practices to utilize new marketing methods to grow your business.

Bottom Line: Stop blasting to the masses.  Perfect your message (A/B and multivariate testing across all media).  Build community among customers and empower them to be evangelists.

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