July 31, 2012
With the social network media buzzing about Google+ and Google+ Local, I decided it was time to delve into this new and constantly evolving scene and find out what it means to Internet marketing. Google+ Local has replaced Google Places and in the process added some features that will impact the way your business is found locally and what they see when they do find you.
This new feature in Google+ is a more personalised way to search for businesses than the traditional web search. When you log in to your Google+ and go to the new local tab you are taken to your local home page. Here, you can put in your location when you search and also choose whether or not you want to see results based on reviews and people in your circles.
The results are where you see the new and improved Google+ Local. All of the basic business information is displayed along with a new Zagat score and reviews from locals, people in your circle and people like you, based on your profile. You will also see pictures more prominently and a Google Map with the listings.
So, now, you simply have to put Google+ Local to work for you and your business. First, you have to understand that Google+ Local is indexed pages and this will be the basis of your online marketing strategy using these pages. As indexed pages, query results will be both stand alone pages and pinned results that are controlled by Google.
Whilst this does mean that Google will have editorial discretion on the content of pages, and they will display competitors’ ads on the bottom of the pages, it also means that as the business owner, you have a role in controlling your content, and need to employ SEO tactics. You should constantly monitor your listing on Google+ Local and use this in other online marketing strategies.
My first suggestion is to create local ads for Google+ Local to showcase your business. These are called express ads and will bring more traffic to your website .Much of that traffic is going to be local traffic that converts to revenue.
There is more to Google+ Local and Express that adds more value to your ads. Express ads not only show up when your business type is queried, they can also appear in the “Sponsored Links” section of Google and Google Maps search results.
If this sounds alien and you, like me at times, need a visual, imagine that you are searching for accommodations for your next holiday. Your query in Google+ Local will return results that are not only relevant to my search but will include reviews from people in my Circles if there are any and any results that are based on their input.
As a business owner, what you have to understand is that Google+ Local will impact your business regardless of whether or not you get involved in marketing with Google Express. All it takes is someone on Google+ to post a review or comment about your business and that will travel from Circle to Circle and ultimately across the Internet when your business is queried.
My suggestion to you is to take time to walk around the Google+ landscape and see what it is for yourself. If you choose not to get involved, you will only have yourself to blame.
If you have used Google+ Local in your marketing campaign, I’d love to hear from you. Use our comments section to share your success or lack thereof with others, and we can all learn how to improve our online marketing.
The Internet Marketing Academy
(Image by Bruce Clay Inc)
July 26, 2012
Small business owners face numerous challenges. In short, you must do it all: manage employees, serve customers, deal with suppliers, pay the bills on time, and you have to do all of that with a smile on your face.
On top of everything you must have a beautiful, fully functioning website. Most small businesses can’t afford to hire an expensive web development company. Some aspects of your website are more important that others. Below is a checklist of areas where you should concentrate your effort in order to have a successful online presence.
When a visitor arrives at your website, her or she should meet with seamless process for making their way around and locating what they want. It’s standard for navigation links to run across the top of the screen and for there to be a search box. In naming your links, don’t try to be clever. Use standard terms, such as “About,” “Products,” and “Cart.”
There are two ways that you will establish contact with your customers through your website: a contact form and your contact page. A contact form will allow a visitor to enter his or her name and contact information (don’t ask for personal information, such as birthdates) and submit it to you, which then allows you to get in touch with them via text or email. This is an invaluable marketing tool. Add it to your site and you’ll be glad you did. Also, be sure that your own contact information is easy for visitors to find on your site. Typically, the contact link appears at the top-right of the home page and at the bottom of every page, and the link takes visitors directly to a page that provides this information.
Pay special attention to developing a good “About” page. First-time visitors often go there to learn more about a company, and if your “About” page is lacking, you may lose out on a valuable customer. At a minimum, this page should include your background, your credentials, one or more photos, and a few details about what makes your business unique. This is your chance to introduce yourself, so make the most of it.
Online shoppers pay a great deal of attention to what other people who have bought a product they’re interested in say about the product. Honest feedback from previous customers is an invaluable resource in your online marketing efforts. Make it easy for your customers to provide feedback and solicit feedback from satisfied customers by sending them an email request with a link to the feedback form.
Of course, you want a website that looks good and functions well, too, but it’s important to at least have the basics covered. By paying attention to these four simple areas, you will help your website to flourish and you’ll ensure that your online presence reflects your business goals. Do you have a website success story? Share it in the comments section.
The Internet Marketing Academy
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July 24, 2012
In a previous blog, which you can read here, I discussed some basic techniques for building a business blog. In this space I’d like to go a bit more in depth into the technical aspects of WordPress to give you some ways to make your WordPress blog a smashing success. We’ll begin with the basics and go on from there.
Choose a Terrific Theme
There are literally hundreds of free themes out there, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you take the initiative to invest in a quality premium theme. First, you’ll find that you’ll be able to get support if something doesn’t work as it should or if you want a specific customisation on it. Second, there is less likelihood of it containing bad code in the design that could derail your blog if you install a particular plug-in or widget. Finally, premium themes just plain have a better array of designs and are easier to use. You can do a search on Google for “premium WordPress themes” and you’ll find loads of them.
Check Basic WordPress Settings
I know you’re anxious to start posting, but before you do, you’ll want to take care of a bit of housekeeping to make sure everything is in order.
Settings > General — This includes your site’s title, tagline, URL, registration options, timezone, and date/time formats.
Settings > Writing — This includes the basics for writing posts, such as the size of the post box, default categories, settings for posting via email, remote posting options, and updating services, which are sites that WordPress notifies when you publish a new post.)
Settings > Reading — This includes what your homepage will display (either posts or a static page), how many posts will appear on your homepage and in your RSS feed, and what will appear in the RSS feed.
Settings > Discussion — This relates to your blog’s comments section. It’s a good idea to check the option for “Comment author must have a previously approved comment” and uncheck the option “An administrator must always approve the comment” in order to avoid spammers.
Settings > Media — This setting deals with images in your posts and on pages and the folders on the server where your images are kept. Generally, the default settings are fine unless you have a specific reason for choosing otherwise.
Settings > Privacy — This enables search engines to index your site, so you want to check the box giving them permission to do so.
Settings > Permalinks — This determines how your URLs are configured. For SEO purposes, it’s best to set this feature as “Custom Structure” /%postname%/ so that your URLS will use the name of your post as the URL and will thus be search engine friendly.
Load Essential Plugins
There are plugins to enable you to do just about anything you could want to do to your WordPress blog—some free, some paid. But beware, some are better than others. Look at how they are rated before you use them. To install a free plugin, go to Plugins > Add New, search for what you need, and install it from your dashboard. Here are some of the essentials:
Akismet — This plugin comes pre-installed with WordPress, but you’ll need to activate it and get an API key. It helps to prevent spam comments from appearing on your blog. For personal, non-commercial blogs, it’s a free service, but for commercial blogs there is a fee.
All in One SEO Pack — This plugin creates additional fields on your dashboard so you can optimise your blog for SEO. Many premium themes come with a similar feature already installed, however, so you may not need it if you’re going with one of them. Also, there is a paid plugin called Scribe SEO that will give you suggestions for how to optimise.
Custom Contact Forms — This plugin lets you choose from its standard design contact form or create one of your own. It has lots of different options from which to choose.
Google XML Sitemaps — This plugin creates a sitemap of your blog and keeps it up-to-date, notifying search engines when you make changes or additions with new posts and pages. Once installed, go to settings to create your sitemap for the first time and it will do the rest.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin — This plugin introduces readers to related content on your blog related to the entry they’re reading, thus keeping them on your site longer.
As you can see, I’ve given you a lot of information. Feel free to bookmark this page for future reference as you build your blog. And do leave a comment below if you have additional insights for how to build a better WordPress blog.
The Internet Marketing Academy
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July 19, 2012
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been discussing some of the niche social marketing channels, which I’ve suggested you consider in addition to the main markets of Facebook and Twitter. Today I’d like to focus on a type of social marketing rather than a specific channel—namely video.
A brief, well-done video can be a highly effective way to get your business’ message out to a wider audience. We’ve all seen the news about videos that have gone viral on the Internet (even if we haven’t had the guilty pleasure of having seen them ourselves). And with the technology out there on the market these days, it isn’t necessary to engage the services of a high-priced video production company to make an expensive video. You can obtain an inexpensive, easy-to-use software package to produce your own clips that help to tell your story.
Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Video marketing can be an excellent way to establish your bona fides. You can accomplish this through a number of video techniques. You might produce a how-to video to demonstrate the proper use of your product, or you might visit your industry’s trade show and interview other attendees to demonstrate that you’re part of the “in” crowd. How-to videos are especially effective and are among the most sought videos on the Internet.
If you’re going to use video as a marketing tool, it’s important that you do it regularly. It’s not helpful to just create a video once or twice and leave it at that. Establish a video channel on YouTube and publish videos monthly or quarterly—or whatever works with your schedule. Whatever you decide to do, do it consistently.
The best videos in terms of popularity are less than three minutes long, so don’t be concerned that you have to produce a long documentary about your product or service. Try to say whatever you have to say succinctly.
Be a Star
When looking for the person to feature in your video, look beyond the company president or the PR person. You want to feature the person with the most enthusiasm and the biggest smile. Maybe that person is the person who answers the phones or sorts the mail. If that’s the case, then so be it. You want to use the person who has the best ability to tell your story.
As with all of your online marketing efforts, when doing video marketing think about SEO strategies. While your video’s title should attract attention, you also want it to show up in search engines, so include keywords. Also use keywords in the video’s description and tags, and be sure to include a link to your website in the description.
Following a few simple steps can lead to a great deal of success with video marketing. In addition to sharing your video on YouTube, you can also consider sharing to Vimeo, Yahoo! Screen, and Flickr. Do you have a success story with video? Tell our readers in the comments below.
The Internet Marketing Academy
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July 17, 2012
Today we shall continue our series looking at some of the niche communities in the social marketing world. By calling them “niche communities,” however, I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that these other social marketing channels don’t provide ample opportunities for you to garner attention for your business. Quite the opposite is true. Focusing your marketing efforts on a niche community rather than, or in addition to, the major markets, such as Twitter and Facebook, could be the very thing to jumpstart your business brand.
In this installment, I’d like to introduce you to Instagram. Instagram is a mobile photo filter app for iOS and Android devices with more than 50 million users. It enables users to take a regular photo and, through the addition of a digital layer, give it the appearance of a professionally edited one. For instance, Instagram has filters that enhance certain colours, filters that allow you to enhance the focus on one part of the photo and blur the rest, and filters that allow you to give the photo a vintage look.
Because Instagram is primarily a mobile app, you’ll need to download it onto your iPhone, iPad, or Android device in order to get started. To create your account, launch the app and click “sign up.” You’ll be asked for a few bits of information, including your email and a username, and you’ll be able to upload your business’ photo or logo. You’ll then have the option to import your Facebook and Twitter contacts, as well as any other contacts you have stored on your mobile device who are also using Instagram.
It is important to connect Instagram to your other social networking accounts as it is a relatively isolated app on its own. Connect it to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, and so on by going to “Profile Tab” and then “Edit Sharing Settings.” From there you’ll be able to choose the networks to connect with Instagram. Every time you upload a photo to Instagram, it will give you the option of sharing to these other networks.
I’m not going to go into the details of how to use filters and borders here. You can find plenty of tutorials elsewhere on the Internet or you can just try experimenting with it yourself. Once you’ve got a photo you’re ready to share, simply check the green check mark at the bottom of the screen, and this will bring you to the sharing prompt. Enter a brief description of your photo, including any topic hashtags or @people mentions if you plan to share it via Twitter as the text of the description will be the text of the tweet. When sharing images for your business, be sure to optimise them to make it easy for people to find them. Use keyword tags in your descriptions to give them a greater chance of going viral.
Do you have a success story with Instagram? Feel free to share your thoughts with a comment below.
The Internet Marketing Academy
(Image by J A Moutinho)
July 12, 2012
With so much interest in social media marketing these days, I think it’s useful for businesses to know about all the various channels available to them. The other day I introduced you to StumbleUpon and told you how you can use it to effectively market your website to a potentially new set of visitors. Today, we’ll take a look at Tumblr.
Like Pinterest, which we’ve looked at previously, Tumblr is a hugely popular social media outlet. With 15 billion monthly page views in January of this year alone, and with its ease of setup and use, there are many good reasons to consider getting into the Tumblr game.
So what is Tumblr? Tumblr is an online blogging platform, and it has pros and cons with respect to other blogging platforms you may be familiar with, such as WordPress. On the pro side, it is much quicker and easier to set up than WordPress. Simply go to the Tumblr site, enter a few bits of information, select your category and blog name, and get started. On the con side, those of you used to virtually unlimited WordPress themes may find yourselves disappointed by the reduced flexibility of formatting and features you find with Tumblr. While there are enhancements and tweaks that a skilled user can make to a Tumblr blog—such as widgets and sidebars—you can’t build a blog from scratch as you can with WordPress.
Still, more than 63 million bloggers can’t be wrong in thinking that Tumblr offers ample room for creative self-expression.
Once you’ve got your blog established, it’s time to customise it. Choose a theme and a colour palette, select a font, and upload your header and picture or logo. Once you’ve completed those steps, fill out your “about me” section and you’re ready to start tumbling.
Tumblr has really revolutionised blogging by making it so very easy. The Tumblr dashboard gives you seven different content options—text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio, and video. You’ll find that photo posts do especially well on Tumblr, so if you can translate your message via an image, so much the better.
Always make sure you tag you post to make it easy for people to discover. Tumblr lets you publish immediately or schedule your posts for another time, which can be very useful if you’ve set aside time each week to put together a bunch of blog posts that you want to space out over several days. And there is a handy checkbox on the screen that enables you to automatically send your posts to your Twitter feed.
Tumblr is a business-friendly medium. Unlike StumbleUpon, Tumblr actually encourages business involvement. But be mindful of Tumblr’s guidelines against spamming, running unauthorized contests, and other unlawful uses. Use your better judgment and you’ll be alright.
Do you have experience with Tumblr? Feel free to leave a comment below letting us know what you think of this exciting social media channel.
The Internet Marketing Academy
(Image by Chad Arizona)
July 10, 2012
I’ve written a lot about ways to use social media channels to improve your brand, focusing primarily on Facebook and Twitter. I’d like to begin to address some of the lesser known, but no less important, social media outlets, as many of them may provide significant opportunities for you to generate traffic to your website.
Today we’ll look at StumbleUpon.
StumbleUpon is a social media bookmarking site that enables users to discover new sites that may be of interest to them. By setting up a profile and defining yourself according to categories that StumbleUpon allows you to “follow”, then subsequently “liking” sites that appeal to you (or “unliking” sites that don’t appeal to you), you are able to find new sites that meet your interests and tastes.
To get the most out of StumbleUpon, you need to be an active participant. You can’t just set up your account and profile, submit your site, and wait to be stumbled upon. Indeed, StumbleUpon has a set policy against using it as a free promotional service. If you want to use it strictly for promotional purposes, then you’ll have to sign on to their Paid Discovery program, through which StumbleUpon will place your site in front of users interested in discovering new sites in your category. You will be charged $0.10 per user click for the service.
If you’re will to put in some time and effort, however, StumbleUpon can be a very effective tool. Once you’ve sent up your account, personalize your page with a photo or logo, a description, and other requested information.
Then, you’ll want to submit your site to StumbleUpon, which you can do by going to the addition page on the platform. You can submit more than one page from your site, but don’t submit too many or StumbleUpon will consider this spam, and you will be penalized. On the addition page, you will be asked for the URL, the category or “interest” of the page, a comment about the page, and tags for the page. You can include up to five tags for each submission.
The next step will be to add a StumbleUpon badge to the pages of your website next to the Facebook and Twitter badges that you have there already. Do this in lieu of submitting too many pages to StumbleUpon yourself. Letting others submit your site to StumbleUpon is much better than recommending them yourself. StumbleUpon is a meritocracy, and when others vouch for you, it carries a great amount of weight.
Now become active on StumbleUpon. Join the communities that relate to your business and “like” pages similar to yours. Build your reputation as a savvy “stumbler” and your recommendations will be highly regarded.
StumbleUpon is just one of the many social media channels we will be covering in the coming weeks. With it’s seemingly endless array of niche categories and communities, it might be just the thing you need to bring new visitors to your site. Give it a go and leave a comment below letting me and other readers know what you think.
The Internet Marketing Academy
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July 5, 2012
A few months ago I introduced you to the social media site Pinterest. Today, I’d like to offer you three tips for how you can fully realise its potential as a marketing tool.
First, let me give you a brief refresher. Pinterest is a visual “pinboard” with more than 18.7 million unique visitors each month. It allows users to connect with one another via shared tastes and interests. They “pin” images and videos to pinboards that are generally identified by an idea or theme, such as travel or books. As a “pinner” one can create, collect, share, and repin images and videos in any of the 32 categories that Pinterest has set up.
Let’s get started.
Plan Your Pins Ahead
With so many possibilities, it’s tempting to just start pinning images from your site. Don’t. First make sure you’ve set up your account fully, filling out all the profile information and linking it to your Facebook and Twitter account in order to maximise exposure.
When setting up your pinboards, consider your customers or clients. What are the services or products that they will most likely search for? If you are a sports retailer, perhaps you’ll have pinboards for tennis and football and golf. If you’re a bookshop, perhaps your pinboards will be grouped by subject, such as Renaissance history and literature. If you’re a garden shop, you might have pinboards for herbs and perennials. Also, be creative in coming up with names for your boards. For example, don’t just call your board “Flowers,” call it “Bountiful Blooms!”
Make Your Pins Pop
The great thing about Pinterest is that an arresting image will get noticed and repinned thousands and thousands of times. In the language of the Internet, it will go viral. Pinterest is about the visual. It’s about that image that sticks with you long after you’ve moved on to something else, the one that makes you tell your friends what you saw.
In order to make your images pinnable, you need to find ways to highlight what you have to offer in the best way visually. Choose the best images from your site, or use one of the many tools available on the Internet to help you create them, including Pinstamatic, Snagit, and Pixir. Always make sure that the image you use is copyright-free.
Generally, the most engaging and repinned images on Pinterest are the ones that are the most simple. To go back to our bookshop example, maybe your pins aren’t images of each book’s cover. Perhaps, instead, you choose a line from the book and place it against a simple colored background; quotes are some of the most repinned pins on Pinterest.
Track Your Pinning Success
As with all of your social media efforts, you should track how well your Pinterest efforts are doing. When you log into Pinterest, a “Recent Activity” box will appear on the left of your screen, which will provide a breakdown of comments, likes, repins, and follows. Note the categories, keywords, and suchlike, that get the most activity and concentrate your efforts there.
The possibilities for Pinterest are endless. Happy pinning!
Internet Marketing Training – Internet Marketing Course – Internet Marketing Blog
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July 3, 2012
Everywhere you go these days, whether it’s a restaurant or the train station or the office, people a fiddling with their mobile devices. They’re texting and they’re emailing and they’re scrolling through page upon page of seemingly crucial information. In short, everyone’s eyes are glued to those little screens.
So how, as a business owner, can you get some of those eyes glued to a screen with your site on it? And how do you get that to translate into business for your brand? This week we look at the mobile market. I’ve put together some basics and some not-so-basic information to guide you along as you enter this exploding and potentially lucrative arena.
- Be consistent. Your mobile site should not be markedly different in terms of branding from your main site. Don’t adopt a completely different logo, for example, on your mobile site, or a radically different URL. Many companies simply put an “m” in front of their standard URL—for example, “m.companyname.com”
- When creating a mobile outlet, keep things simple. Visitors to mobile sites don’t like to have to wait a long time for it to load, and they don’t have the same high-speed access they have in their homes. Therefore, you need to keep your mobile site limited to the basics, with only the most important content there.
- Be sure to test your site thoroughly. You should make certain your site looks consistent on multiple devices before you release it. It should have a maximum width of 570 pixels and should not require a lot of scrolling or resizing for visitors to view it successfully.
- Take advantage of QR codes. QR (“quick response”) codes are those square digitized barcodes that appear in magazines, newspapers, and direct mail advertisements. Users can download apps that enable their camera phones to read the codes (though many phones now come with the apps preloaded), and the app then directs them to a site with a special offer or additional information. Use QR codes in your advertising or in your retail outlet to generate new customers.
- Generate a mobile app. By creating a mobile app for your customers, you will make it easy for them to simply click once on the screen and immediately access your mobile site. There are a number of ready tools on the Internet to enable you to create an app, many of which allowing you to add special features, so it doesn’t have to be complicated.
- Follow the three-click rule. If you have a retail site, the purchasing process should involve no more than three steps: find the product, fill in the information, submit. Too many steps and you will lose customers
Going mobile doesn’t have to be daunting. There are loads of tools and guides to help you make the transition easier. Following a few simple guidelines will help you avoid some of the pitfalls and enable you to take advantage of this exciting new market.
Internet Marketing Training – Internet Marketing Course – Internet Marketing Blog
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