Friday, December 27, 2013

Meet the Parents: Mobility and Locality

One of my favorite "year in review" posts for digital marketing came from Karen McGrane, a brilliant content strategist. She compiled a list of mobile web statistics (sources found within) that are sure to knock the socks off of digital marketing managers across the globe. A sample:
  • 91 percent of American adults own a mobile phone.
  • 56 percent of American adults own a smartphone.
  • 63 percent of mobile phone owners use their phones to access the Internet.
  • Amazon, Wikipedia, and Facebook all see about 20 percent mobile traffic.
  • 77 percent of mobile searches take place at home or at work.
For the purposes of this article, one statistic that stood out in particular:
  • 46 percent of shoppers report using their phone to research local products and services.
Nearly one in twoshoppers for local products and services are using their phone. If your mobile game isn't on lock, you are essentially neglecting or potentially insulting half of your target demographic.
Finding resources to make a mobile-friendly website in 2014 isn't a simply a good idea, a high-priority or mission critical task. It is essential to the longevity and profitability of your business. Period. With sad statistics showing most B2B, Fortune 100 and consumer brands failing to stay up to snuff, mobile could be a fantastic opening for your business to slay your competition.
In November, I had the opportunity to listen to author and Google Digital Marketing Evangelist Avinash Kaushik speak at Think Quebec about the impact of mobile on search marketing. He pulled up example after example of terrible mobile search experiences. He drew attention to huge brands that were throwing away search traffic – often after creating demand for a particular product on a different marketing channel, and then now showing up in search.
"The web is so good at destroying things. If you suck – you die," he said.
Kaushik's words ring no less true for local SEO. If you aren't performing for 46 percent of your potential customers, you suck. And you will die – or at least your business might.

1. +Local Page Criteria
  • Physical address in city of search
  • Proper business categories
  • Proximity of address to city center (centroid)
  • Local area code on +Local Page
2. On-site factors
  • Domain Authority of website
  • City/state/province in +Local landing page title
  • HTML/schema NAP matches +Local page NAP
  • Page Authority of landing page specified in +Local
  • Product/service keyword in website URL
3. Off-site factors
  • Quantity of structured citations (IYPs, data aggregators)
  • Quality/authority of structured citations
  • Quality/authority of unstructured citations
  • Quality/authority of inbound links to domain
4. Review factors
  • Quantity of native +Local reviews
  • Product/service keywords in reviews
  • Quantity of third-party reviews
  • Keyword(s) location in reviews
  • Velocity of native +Local reviews
(Note: velocity refers to the speed at which a local listing or a website accumulates outside references, such as links, citations, reviews, or check-ins.)
5. Social/Mobile factors
  • Number of +1's on website
  • Number of adds/shares on Google+
  • Click-through rate from search results
  • Authority of +1's on website
  • Velocity of adds/shares on Google+

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hackathon & ChallengePost

Toledo is working on doing another Hackathon. Hopefully we can find a provider like ChallengePost. Last year there were a lot of local companies that had contributed, but getting a national sponsor would be the most ideal solution.

Friday, December 20, 2013

New Year's Resolutions for Internet Marketers

You've undoubtedly set a few personal goals for the New Year: losing weight, getting organized or maybe even starting that novel you've always dreamed of writing. But have you made your business resolutions? The New Year is a great time for Internet marketers to set new goals and aims for the coming year.

Whether you want to improve your social media, content marketing, email marketing, paid search or retargeting skills, here are a few smart resolutions to get you started on a successful 2014.

Shape Up Your Email List
Just like you go to the gym to get your body in shape, you should start the New Year by whipping your contacts list into shape. First, get rid of any out-of-date addresses by combing through your bounce reports to eliminate the ones that no longer work. Take a hard look at your open rate, and consider forming a separate list for promotions to the people who tend to open your emails at the highest rate. By cutting the fat on your email lists, you stand a better chance of gaining a response to your promotions.

Embrace Content Marketing
Content marketing is the hottest trend in online marketing right now. It's essentially the idea that you can gain leads and customers by providing relevant, high-quality content rather than the slapdash blog and social media posts of yore. For example, say your business offers track tractors. Instead of posting 100 images of the tractors on Pinterest, a better strategy would be to record a podcast detailing cold-weather strategies for construction companies about how to work around snow, frozen ground and ice. 

It's the sort of content that will get passed around the web because it's useful, and it builds a meaningful connection with your audience, because you're providing them with information and ideas they need. 

Change the Way You Use Social Media
Tossing 20 posts a day on Facebook isn't worth anything if you're not engaging your followers. Take a look at a month's worth of social media posts across all different networks and see which ones drew the greatest engagement. Learn from those what tactic to embrace for the future. 

Set a goal for social media. Are you using it mainly for promotion, such as posting coupons and sales dates, or do you want it to help further your brand? If it's the latter, your aim should go beyond simplistic posts toward establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Tweet out links to new research or use LinkedIn to lead discussions about the big issues in your industry.

Adapt to Google Hummingbird
Yes, change is always difficult, and there are changes every day in the world of search engine optimization, most notably the recent addition of the new algorithm Hummingbird. But with the response Google's newest innovation has received, you'd think the search engine giant had single-handedly slayed the field of SEO. 

It hasn't. You simply have to adjust the way you approach SEO, which is part of an internet marketing specialist's ever-evolving job. Don't waste your time trying to figure out how to tweak old methods to work for this new system. Learn everything you can about Hummingbird best practices and adopt them into a newly honed SEO strategy. Even if Google sent your rankings plummeting, you can still learn how to pump them back up. There's always the chance of getting back on the horse before your competition does.

There's nothing like a challenge to invigorate you in the New Year, whether it's the challenge of losing weight or improving your business acumen. With this list of must-pursue goals for 2014, you'll be a step ahead of the competition. 

Adrienne Erin is a social media and internet marketing writer who loves to share the tips she’s picked up over her time spent growing with the industry. She writes regularly for SiteProNews and Search Engine People.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

5 Basic Tech Security Updates to Safeguard your Business

What safeguards can you implement to protect your business?

Change Default Passwords

One of the most common security mistakes that businesses make is not changing default passwords for their computers. This problem is largely ignored, but it can be easily fixed. Always make sure to change all the default passwords on new computers. If you fail to do this, hackers use default passwords to access your computers; once they login, they have access to your whole network.

Update Operating Systems

Manufacturers update their software to make it more secure; if you ignore system updates, you leave gaping holes in your systems. Hackers can easily exploit outdated systems. When a patch or an update is released for your computer, make sure to install it as soon as you can. If a hacker sees that your systems are updated, they are less likely to target them; they find an easier system to hack.

Encrypt Customer Transactions

If you sell your product online, you need to make sure that your customers' data is secure. The best way to do this is to outsource payment processing to a reputable company; setting up encryption yourself is a long, expensive and arduous process. When you outsource transactions, you guarantee that your processing procedure meets the stringent compliance standards that credit cards require.

Host Your Website On A Secure Server

Saving money by purchasing cheap hosting can be tempting; it is also a recipe for disaster. If you choose a security minded host like Hivelocity, you know that your website is safe from prying eyes. Good server companies back up your data, protect you from hackers and guarantee that your data is safe. If you opt for cheap hosting, it's like begging hackers to attack your site.

Limit Sensitive Information

Special programs are available that let you detect unusual activity on your computer systems. These programs monitor communications to make sure that sensitive information isn't being leaked outside of your network. When you install this software, your data stays safe and secure.

If you take steps to protect your data, you make it hard for hackers to crack your systems. Hackers are opportunistic. If you take decent measures to protect your systems, they are more likely to move on and find an easier target. A few simple steps can make your business and its sensitive information more safe and secure.

Modern businesses depend on technology to help lower costs and increase productivity. Unfortunately, many of these businesses use new technologies without taking the necessary steps to protect their assets; unsecured technology is vulnerable to hackers and viruses that can bring a business to its knees.

Monday, December 16, 2013

See the Results: How to Make Your Business a Little Smoother

Businesses that don't operate efficiently waste time and money that could be spent on other important matters. There are many reasons for inefficient business operations including: bad management, unmotivated workers, poor financial planning, sub-par administrative organization, lousy customer service, hiring unqualified workers, and more. If you know that your business isn't functioning optimally, these tips might help things run a bit smoother.

Outsource Certain Tasks

Many business owners like to keep all operations in-house because it's typically easier to maintain higher quality standards. However, outsourcing the workload is sometimes a better idea. Third-party companies may have more manpower, expertise, and equipment than your small business, and many will charge very reasonable fees for their services. Customer service, for example, is very frequently outsourced to reputable third-party professionals.

Downsize your Workforce

It's normally an advantage to have more employees at your disposal, but when you've hired too many workers that are standing around confused because they don't have designated tasks, things are sure to slow down considerably. A large, unorganized workforce is always less efficient than a smaller, highly-organized one. Get rid of the bad apples, and focus on better training to make your employees more competent and well-rounded.

Keep Track of Your Expenses

It's always a huge mistake to not document every business transaction you make, because you won't be able to budget effectively. When your business spends more than it records, you'll be left with the impression that you have more available funds than what's actually there. Financial inconsistencies cause all kinds of problems when it comes to buying supplies, paying workers, refunding customer purchases, and more.

Set Competitive Prices

It's never a good idea to price goods or services too high, or too low. Goods that are too expensive won't sell, and goods that are too cheap wont make you enough profit to stick around in the long-run. The idea is to match the competition's prices when you're selling similar products.

Invest in Quality Equipment

You might employ highly experienced workers who possess a lot of talent, but not much can be done if you don't have the right tools for the job. Even though you'll spend a bit more initially, investing in quality equipment means planning for future success. For example, a healthcare clinic that isn't equipped with the proper medical billing and coding software won't be able to process paperwork in a timely manner. Purchasing the appropriate software from a reputable company like Cobalt Health could instantly streamline billing and coding operations.

The strategies above can help you streamline your business, but the process of refining your operations is an ongoing one. Always strive to find better ways to do things. Only when you've developed this mindset of ongoing change can your business function efficiently at all times.

Friday, December 13, 2013

5 Ways to Maximize Social Media Postings

Every morning millions of people wake up to their alarm, get ready for work, and check Facebook. They check Facebook during lunch, they check it in the evening, and they may even check it laying bed before going to sleep. So how can you leverage Facebook? I am sure your boss wants to see a quantitative analysis of what you can do with social media to boost sales, retention, and yield, but without the proper guidance you may not know. So in swoops this guy to provide some much needed advice.

1. Post a Status Update

There are a lot of factors that play into a successful post: timing, wording, and creativity. Think about when you most often check Facebook. It is probably before work, on your lunch, right before or after dinner, and maybe before going to bed. Some people are on Facebook a lot more, and some are on a lot less. This makes the timing of your status update very important. Not everyone is in the same time zone, nor does everyone have the same number of friends. Some people have a lot of friends which means that your status could easily be buried while others have very few friends. Posting once or twice a day will avoid you looking like spam to the people with less friends and should still give your the exposure / impressions of those with a large number if you post during the correct times. 10 AM is a safe posting time.
  • If you are on the East Coast you get the pre-work Facebook checking on the West Coast and it should still show up in people's news feed by lunch time on the East Coast. 
  • If you are on the West Coast, you will be hitting the lunch time on the East Coast and it should still be showing on people's news feed by lunch time on the West Coast.

2. Offer an incentive for people to “like” your page

Everyone likes to feel like they get something for their time. Now this might change based upon the new Timeline feature that Facebook is implementing, but in the past you could setup exclusive content for visitors that liked your page. You could utilize a call to action and draw them in with an offer they simply couldn't refuse: a whitepaper, a video, pictures, or discount code.

3. Find groups similar to your fan page

By searching out groups that are active, you can gain a number of likes in very little time. By participating in the group and at the same time promoting your Facebook fan page you are creating a level of interaction that makes people feel comfortable with you as well as want to know more about you. You need to only join groups that are relevant to your cause as you won't get nearly as many sign-ups and there is a greater chance of your status updates getting marked as spam.

4. Put your Facebook information on your website

This should be common sense, but older websites might not have their Facebook information on their website. You have already done a good job attracting business and more importantly a relevant audience to your website. Since you already have traffic to your website, you can direct them to your Facebook fan page and convert those current and potential customers into a personal relationship where you interact with them on a daily basis.

5. Get fans to upload photos

Whenever there is an event, or if you want to host a contest, get fans to upload pictures and tag themselves and their friends in these photos. By doing this, it shares it on their news feed and timeline which hits a much broader audience. If someone gets tagged in a photo all of their friends have the potential of seeing that message on their timeline: "Johnny and Susie were tagged on `The coolest Facebook fan page ever`." When their 500 friends see it, they might click through to see your page, like your page, post a picture of themselves, and tag that picture thus sharing with another 500 friends.

Now these five methods all work really well, but most importantly ASK people to like your page. You may think that is common sense, but the majority of your audience may not like your page unless you ask them. Start out with your current friends and ask them to like your page and share it with their friends. This can create a viral effect that chains into a mass amount of liking especially if you have precious puppy pictures begging them to like your page.