6 steps to a smart (sane) Google+ strategy

Another social network? What’s a brand to do!

There’s no denying it – Google+ is going to be an important part of social media and search from now on. Its enormous growth in the past seven months has gotten the attention of the search industry, competing social networks and marketers alike. Google+ has more than 90 million users – nearly as much as LinkedIn, but not even close to Facebook’s 800 million.

Even though the Google+ numbers pale in comparison to Facebook (for now), its “Search Plus Your World” (SPYW) integration in Google search results opens up Google+ content to the billions of worldwide Google users.

With the introduction of SPYW, Google+ social content is becoming part of Google search engine results. If you’re logged into Google while doing a search, you’ll see Google+ pages from related users and brands. You’ll see pages that people in your circles have given a “+1” and you’ll also see images under individual search results of users who have shared that particular page. In addition, sites that have been “+1’ed” are pushed higher in search engine results.

Even if you aren’t logged into Google while doing a search, your search results are still being affected by Google+. A search for the term “SEO” displays two user profiles related to the term:

Imagine your brand or personal profile getting this kind of exposure in regular search results! Clearly, Google+ deserves more of your time.

With the popularity of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – how does your company find time to embrace Google+? With so many social networks on your plate, adding another can seem like a major challenge.

Here are six steps that you can use to embrace Google+ and get all of its benefits without losing your mind.

1. Claim Your Page and Manage Your Circles

If you don’t have a Google+ brand page, it’s time to get started. You can create a Google+ business page from a personal Google+ account, which in turn requires a Gmail account.

If you’re a larger organization, you’ll need to decide which person in your company will create and manage the page. (This is one feature that has sparked some criticism of Google – if that employee or manager leaves, what becomes of the company’s Google+ page?)

There are dozens of guides out there that detail how to circle other users and optimize your profile. I’m not going to delve into that here, but keep in mind these two points:

  • You can promote your Google+ business page on your personal profile in order to encourage more users to migrate to your business page.
  • You can also circle users via your business profile in order to get them to circle you back.

Focus on developing circles for specific purposes. You’ll get a lot more leverage from your sharing if it is targeted to user groups.

For instance, you can create circles for current customers and prospects, and then additional circles for competitors so you can see what they are up to on the social network.

2. Focus on Becoming a Topic Expert 

With its strong SEO capabilities, it’s possible to make a big splash in your niche industry with Google+. Since the platform is relatively new, there’s still ample time to stake your claim as a top provider of small business financial advice, cloud-based communications apps, or gourmet chocolate gift baskets.

Optimize your business profile for your niche keyword terms and then make a habit of sharing related news. Pretty soon, your company will be well known for your topic specialty.

Remember to select a topic that is related to your product and/or service and supports what your ideal customers are interested in. Users are more likely to take interest in “Tips for Great Road Trips” then “Come See How Awesome Our Tires Are.”

3. Share Content Regularly

There’s nothing worse than sharing content on social media and then disappearing for an indefinite amount of time. No matter what your marketing schedule looks like, pick a frequency and commit to it for at least 8 weeks.

After that time, you can look back at your results and decide whether less or more sharing would be best for you.

As well as sharing your own posts and content from other sources, you can also make use of Google+’s longer post length. You can post entire articles on the platform rather than having to direct users to a different location.

In addition to sharing regularly, be sure to participate in the community. The same rules for Twitter and Facebook apply here – respond to comments, comment on other shared content, and engage with your audience.

4. Use Photos More Often

Google+ is a beautiful platform for photos and they really stand out in the stream. Unlike Facebook,  where users can upload photos in albums, Google+ images are loaded as individual posts. This feature gives your photos much more prominence.

Make it a point to use photos as part of your regular updates. You can add images from your company, charts and slides from presentations, infographics, and more to enhance your presence on the platform.

5. Share Your Posts Directly With Your Circles

With just an extra step you can “push” special posts and updates directly to your circle members. While you shouldn’t use this feature all of the time, it’s helpful for promoting your most important blog posts or company announcements.

When you post an update, you can hover over the name of a circle with your mouse. A box will pop up listing a few of the members of the circle and asking if you want to notify the users of the post.

Your circle members will then get an email about the post (if they’ve opted to receive notifications from Google+).

It’s a good way to highlight important content and make sure it’s being read by your relevant audience – just don’t abuse this feature and alienate your target readers.

6. Analyze Your Results and Plan Accordingly 

Like other forms of marketing, analysis and planning are going to be the key to success with Google+.

However, with Google+ the process is a little different.

Unfortunately, due to Google’s encryption, it’s impossible to analyze the visits you’re receiving from the Google+ platform in any meaningful way.

So, the best way to monitor your Google+ results is to take note of how many responses you’re getting, which topics are being reshared and whether or not your profile (or business profile) is showing up in the search engines.

Once you’ve gathered your results, look at how you can improve your performance:

  • Do you need to actively circle more users?
  • Do you find that your photo updates are getting more comments and shares than other updates?
  • How are you doing in the search engine rankings: Do you need to optimize your profile and updates to include important niche related keywords?

With these steps, you can make sense of Google+ and leverage it for your business. I’d love to hear how you’ve adopted Google+ and how it’s working. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

For further reading:

  • SEOmoz: Why Every Marketer Now Needs a Google+ Strategy
  • iMedia Connection: 6 Reasons Why Adding Google+ to Your Web Presence & SEO Strategy is a Good Idea
  • Marketing Land: Seeing Long-Form Post Success On Google+, Facebook Raises Character Limit By 1100%
  • SEO Copywriting: Google Circles and the future of SEO Copywriting

 

About the Author – Courtney Ramirez

Courtney Ramirez is a proud graduate of the SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification training program, and CEO of Six Degrees Content. She is passionate about helping small businesses compete with the big boys with skilled SEO copywriting and content marketing. You can connect with Courtney at her brand’s Google Plus page, Facebook, LinkedIn, and on Twitter @CourtneyRamirez.

 

Want to dramatically increase your income as a freelance copywriter? Consider getting your certification in SEO Copywriting, taught by the widely-recognized pioneer of the SEO industry, Heather Lloyd-Martin. Her training is the only online SEO Copywriting Training Program independently endorsed by SEOPros.org. Check into it and make 2012 the year you turn your biz around!

 

photo thanks to Bruce Clay, Inc. 

A 9-step guide to creating & marketing your own video content – for free!

Guest Author, Andy Havard

All too often, bloggers and small businesses miss out on great content marketing opportunities due to budgetary constraints. Does that resonate with you?

Did you know that online video couldn’t be a more cost-effective and convenient marketing approach for any product, brand or service?

And you must know that online video is the hot and growing – and most likely indefinite – trend for content marketing?

Here, I’m going to tell you exactly how you can master this medium with 9 steps to creating and marketing your own videos from home, for free!

1. Location Is Everything (Yet Nothing at All!)

A common misconception about creating video content to market on the web is that you need to hire out lavish studios or rent out a space in which to film. In fact, all you really need is a room in your apartment or house that has a wall or a space you can stand in front of comfortably. (You could even use a bit of garage space for that matter).

Once you’ve found a space, you need to make your background as tailored to your niche and style as possible.

For instance, if your brand is quite personable and informal you might find the natural look of your room suits your video perfectly.  Or if you’re looking for that Apple-esque, Google-ish white sheen, there are a few simple ways to create that effect:. use a white wall, white papered walls, or a white sheet to cover the wall to form your sleek white background.

You can boost the brightness and overall look of this background with your lighting and post-production editing.

2. Set Up Your Camera

More than likely, you already have a variety of cameras in your possession – for instance your mobile phone, tablet, computer, and obviously your camcorder or digital camera. If you don’t have access to any such equipment, then alas! You’ll need to purchase or borrow a means of recording video.

You’ll want to steady and stabilize your camera to make your footage as good (i.e., professional and non-wobbly) as possible. This can easily be accomplished using a desk, chair, or even a bookshelf – anything that serves to keep your camera level and still during filming.

You’d be surprised at what household furniture you can use to do the same job as a $100 tripod!

3. Set Up Your Lights

Understandably, hanging a sheet on your living room wall might not fill you with a lot of confidence or optimism. The slick , professional background look you (may) want to achieve starts to take shape when you add your lighting.

Your choice of lighting can range from industry-standard fluorescent lights to three strong standing lamps.

You’ll need to position two of these lights on either side of your backdrop (one to the left, the other to the right of your subject). Then place a third light near your camera at a 30-degree, downward angle to your on-screen subject. This set-up will help to illuminate your backdrop and make it look crisp and bright.

As with your makeshift tripod, you can use household lamps to do the job of studio-grade lighting. To maximize your light level, try to shoot in an area that is naturally light, but not over-exposed to sunlight. You can then use household lamps to smooth out the lighting in your shot. Try to make sure that no shadows are being cast on your subject or background.

4. Record Your Sound

You’ll probably find your digital camera has a built-in microphone that provides a good sound quality for your video. Failing that, your computer or phone more than likely will, which you can sync up later on.

If for some reason there’s no microphone present in any of your devices, you will have to invest in an inexpensive external microphone to capture your audio.

When you’re recording your sound, try to keep audio levels consistent as changes in volume could cause the sound to distort. Try to allow time for a sound recording test before you record your final audio.

5. Edit Your Video

If you’re feeling a little discouraged or cynical about the bedsheet stuck to your wall, your computer camera, living room lamps and make-shift tripod, take heart: your editing process is where the magic happens. You really can make your online video the exciting, engaging piece of online content that you envisioned!

You can get download free, easy-to-use editing software for a PC (Windows) or Mac, such as Windows Movie Maker or iMovie, both of which are more than sufficient for your video editing needs.

By altering your contrast/brightness you will be able to boost your backdrop and improve the lighting of your shot, creating that studio-quality background. You’ll also be able to use your software to edit your video into a short, sharp, essential piece of online content.

6. Upload Your Video To The Web

There is a wide array of free video-sharing sites to which you can upload your video content, such as Vimeo, Viddler, DailymotionFlickr, Tumblr, and of course, YouTube.

Considering that YouTube  is the worlds’ #2 search engine and the most popular video-sharing platform, it’s the obvious choice as an upload point for any web video. But if you have the time, it’s worth uploading your video to as many platforms as possible.

After you’ve uploaded your masterpiece, you can then link from the video-sharing platform to an embed on your own website or blog, giving you some link-love while ensuring you reach your target market.

7. Optimize Your Video For Search Engines

When you upload your content to free hosting sites be sure you’ve optimized it for the search engines. You may have guessed that Google’s YouTube content is especially visible in Google’s search engine results – if properly optimized.  And as a platform, YouTube offers a considerable array of video SEO tools.

By using titles, descriptions, tags, and closed captions that feature the keywords and phrases relevant to your brand and video content, you can be sure that your video is ticking all of the SEO boxes.

8. Market Your Online Video with Social Sharing

The video-hosting sites (in Step 6) offer some fantastic marketing avenues. The majority of them readily integrate with Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn, allowing you to post your content in Pages, Groups, Discussions, Wall Posts and Statuses.

You can also explore features such as YouTube’s Video Response, where you can use your online video content to comment on other users’content. By making use of the tools free hosting sites offer, you can market your content easily and cost-effectively to a staggeringly wide audience.

9. Track Your Online Video with Analytics

Tracking the analytics of your video is the most effective way to ensure it is achieving the goals you’ve set out to accomplish.

Google Analytics, YouTube Analytics and Facebook Insight are all great free tools for measuring conversion rates, social media growth and viewership. By tracking your video through these three tools you can measure the success of your video on every level.

It’s always advisable to check your video data frequently in order to keep an eye on its progress. If it’s failing to achieve your goals, you can alter your current strategy to better optimize your content and improve the numbers.

This is the year of content marketing with video, and it is a “trend” that’s here to stay. Don’t be left in the dust – follow these steps and take full advantage of this truly awesome opportunity to grow your business and readership with video content!

About The Author: Andy Havard

Andy Havard is a Marketing Executive at Skeleton Productions, a UK based Internet video production company. You can connect with Andy via his company’s Facebook page, or directly via LinkedIn and Twitter.

Would you like to upgrade your copywriting skills and income? Learn the latest SEO copywriting content marketing skills and techniques through SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification training and make 2012 your best year ever!

 

 

5 keys to easy small business content marketing

Guest Author, Courtney Ramirez

Publishing quality content can help your small business get new leads, develop a bigger presence online and convert more prospects into clients. But the process of planning, creating and distributing content can be a tall order for many small businesses who have limited resources.

An outstanding content marketing plan doesn’t have to be out of your reach! By following these keys you can put content marketing to work for your small business.

1. Get clear on your content budget.

There are literally dozens of different content pieces that you can use to market your business online – and that doesn’t count all of the distribution methods you can use to get your content out there. It’s a bit like going shopping at Costco. Before you know it, you’ve turned a short trip for ice, bulk candy bars and a new Magnum flashlight set into a $200 excursion.

Setting a clear budget for content will help you spend your marketing budget wisely and narrow in on the techniques that will be most effective for your business.

How much should you spend on content marketing? According to a recent survey from the Content Marketing Institute, 27% percent of businesses spent 15 to 30% of their marketing budget on content development. Small business marketing budgets are typically 8% of revenue. So for a small business with yearly revenue of $250,000, a monthly content marketing budget would be around $550.

Of course you may need to invest more initially for new content marketing plans and development. But having a clear figure in mind before you start developing content in house or looking to outside providers can help you stay focused and spend wisely.

2. Know your customer.

Your content marketing has to be customer-centered to be effective. Content marketing isn’t a promotional brochure. It’s a way to connect with your audience and help them solve problems with information. You can’t create content that is all about you and you alone.

Your job with content is to provide the information that your customers are looking for in a way that is attractive to them. For example, your customer does a search for “fax machines” and you have a high ranking article titled “5 Things to Look For in New Fax Machines.” They read your article and are impressed with your small office supply store’s insight into buying a fax machine. They explore the rest of your site and sign up for your weekly newsletter with more informative articles and regular deals. Then they become a customer.

Apply the same strategy to your own business. Figure out what your customers need to know and create content that responds to those needs.

3. Repurpose wherever you can.

One of the biggest challenges that small businesses face in content development is time. They don’t have enough time to actively create multiple content pieces each month. An effective content marketing strategy requires consistency – but repurposing can help you bridge the gap between what you should be publishing and what you can spend on content development.

Repurposing isn’t about copying someone else or repeating yourself endlessly. With repurposing, you can take one piece of content and make it stretch. Just like you’d make spaghetti sauce and then use it with several different meals, you can create an ebook and then draw several blog posts out of the content. You can then turn those blog posts into fodder for your email newsletter and use tips from the blog posts for your social media updates.  It’s less work for you and you’ll get more content to keep your marketing machine going.

4. Don’t be afraid to curate!

Although it’s important to create your own content for your small business, you can also supplement your marketing with strategic curation. Curation is sharing helpful content created by other people.

Curation can be as simple as highlighting blog posts from other companies on social media or as complex as creating a blog post or white paper that reviews content from others. Not only does curation help round out your content schedule but it helps “spread the love” around. If you’re sharing content from related companies, they’ll be more likely to share your content with their fans and followers.

There are several different tools and platforms that can help you become a content curator. Google Alerts is a good way to start. Once you’ve started to see what is out there, you can use more sophisticated tools like Paper.li, Scoop.It or Storify to easily capture and share relevant content.

5. Support content with social media.

If a great article is published online and nobody read it, is it really that great? Content marketing and social media go hand in hand. You need to support your content marketing plan with regular social media usage.

Develop a following on Twitter and Facebook, at a minimum (LinkedIn if it’s appropriate) and then update your fans and followers when you post new content. Look for opportunities to post your content on additional sites or guest post with related businesses.

Small business content marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you follow these five keys. Take time to map out your content budget, get clear on what your customer wants to know and then use repurposing, curation and sharing to make content marketing work for you.

Courtney Ramirez is a certified SEO copywriter and content marketing consultant. As a student of search engine marketing, web usability and social media, she’s been able to craft a writing style that is both inviting to readers and ranking factors. After dabbling in print journalism, she’s written exclusively online since 2005 and manages a small team of excellent writers at Six Degrees Content.

Ramp up your SEO copywriting career! Sign up for the SuccessWorks’ Content Into Cash Business Bootcamp to learn everything you need to know to run a profitable copywriting business.

Are you reaching your target B2B audience?

Greetings! Today’s SEO Copywriting video post is in response to a question put to Heather during her recent Inbound Writer webinar (7 Steps to SEO Copywriting Success):  “How do you address competing keywords where the keyword attracts multiple audiences?”

This is a very good question, and one that poses a particular challenge for business-to-business (B2B) copywriters.  Tune in to learn the common mistakes made by B2B writers in their keyphrase research – and hence, site optimization – and how to avoid (and correct) them:

Challenge #1: Using too broad a keyphrase

A big challenge is when a B2B company employs copywriters who may not be that savvy in SEO and keyphrase research: they may make the easy mistake of optimizing a webpage or entire site for too broad a keyphrase.

For example, let’s look at the screenshot of a chemical blender company and the search results shown on the right side of the page. Now, within that company folks might routinely refer to their chemical blenders simply as “blenders.” So it may be that the copywriter who is unfamiliar with SEO would optimize the product page for the word “blenders.”

  • The challenge is, in Google’s world, when you type the word “blenders” into the search query box, what you come back with are consumer results – not B2B industry results. The consumer results aren’t focused on mixing chemicals, they’re instead talking about how to mix smoothies.

So copywriters who do not understand SEO – the search engines’ way of seeing things – end up optimizing their webpage or site for too broad a keyphrase (or a single keyword) that fails to reach their intended audience and drive that targeted, quality traffic.

Challenge #2: Not understanding SEO keyphrase research results

A second B2B challenge (and common mistake) comes from not understanding keyphrase research results.

  • The inexperienced copywriter might be using keyphrase research tools, but upon seeing that “chemical blenders” isn’t returning that much traffic they may make the mistake of going with the more generic keyword, “blenders,” because hey! Look at all that traffic!

Again, the problem is that while “blenders” may be far more heavily trafficked, those folks searching the term “blenders” aren’t looking for “chemical blenders” – they’re looking for consumer blenders. So again, the copywriter ends up optimizing the webpage or site for the wrong term, and the business doesn’t get the target traffic and sales they need to see.

Tip: Quick keyphrase research reality check using Google search

For a quick reality check of your research results, one of the things you can do is to feed your keywords/phrases into Google’s search query box and see what kind of results come up.

For example, using the word “blade”: in the I.T. world, that word can mean “blade server,” but in Google’s world, it can mean it’s an online paper, or it’s a local hair studio, or it’s a film…

  • So if you see those kinds of mixed results, then you’ve a huge opportunity. By looking at your keyphrase research through a search engine’s literal eyes, you can start targeting those folks who are actually looking for your products or services.

Think “specific” when choosing keyphrases

In the “blade” example, you can see how changing from “blade” to “blade server” dramatically alters the search results.

  • If you’re in B2B copywriting, think “specific.” Go into Google and double check your keyphrases and be sure the results returned are relevant to the webpage you’re optimizing for and don’t have a lot of consumer results mixed in.

Is your B2B company in need of skilled SEO copywriting? Check out our SEO copywriting services! You can also train your copywriting staff through one of our SEO copywriting training programs. You’ll soon have a pro on board!

Thanks for tuning in! If you have a question, tweet it to Heather @heatherlloyd or email her at heather@seocopywriting.com. Be sure to check back next Monday for another hot SEO copywriting video tip – it may well answer your question. See you then!

photo credit to: cliff1066™

 

Sell more stuff using the principle of scarcity

Are you looking for a way to prompt your prospects to “buy now?”

Maybe you should make your product or service less available.

In today’s “I can get anything I want anytime I want it world,” an approach like that seems counter-intuitive. Yet, the psychological principle of scarcity is alive and well online – and many top retailers are making lots of money from it every single day.

What’s the principle of scarcity? According to Robert Cialindi, author of Influence: Science and Practice, we are more sensitive to potential losses than potential gains.  That is, if an opportunity is less available to us, we want it much, much more.

(If you’ve ever turned down someone for a date – and then found that person more attractive when they started dating someone else –  surprise! That’s scarcity in action.)

Online retailers use this all the time. For instance, I was searching for comforters online. I surfed to Overstock and saw that they were featuring something similar to what I wanted! Joy! Here’s the picture:

Here’s what was going through my head the second I saw the picture: “Wow, this is only available for a limited time. Maybe I should snap it up now.”

I was primed to make a purchase even before I read the ad copy. Wow.

I almost fell for the principle of scarcity.

And yes, you fall for this too. Ever snap up a Groupon because buying it tomorrow would be too late? Or a pair of shoes from Zappos because there were only two pairs left in stock? Some retailer business-models, like Gilt.com and Wines Til Sold off, completely revolve around the principle of scarcity.

Now, let’s talk about how you can make it work for you.

  • Are you running a sale? Make sure that you clearly state the sale’s expiration date. This helps build a sense of urgency. Otherwise, your prospects may think, “Well, I’m not ready to buy now, but I will. Soon.” And they’ll completely forget.
  • Are you offering a Webinar with limited seating? Consider including something in your ad copy like, “Over 75% sold already! Sign up now so you don’t miss your spot.” You may even want to get more specific, and share that there are only “10 seats left.” Just make sure that you update the page to reflect the new signups.
  • Are you a popular consultant that offers very limited consulting hours? Mention that you only work with X consulting clients a week, and you’re already booked Y weeks in advance. When prospects read this, they’ll be more apt to sign up now – after all, for every day they wait, it could be another month before they get to talk to you.
  • Do you sell products?  Take a cue from Zappos and warn customers when there are just a few items left. If someone was on the fence about making a purchase, knowing that they may not be able to buy it at all can help them pull the trigger.

 

5 steps to building a powerful SEO copywriting business network with LinkedIn

Guest Author, Pam Foster

After 2-3 years of trying several different social networks for my SEO Copywriting business, I had a breakthrough in the past 6 months where most of my biggest web projects came from one source: LinkedIn.

I’ve come to realize that my LinkedIn connections have been more fruitful for my business, BY FAR, than any other marketing method I’ve tried. Here’s why I believe it’s a terrific resource for you too:

  • Your LinkedIn connections are truly business-focused connections.
    People are using LinkedIn primarily for business conversations, sharing business tips, finding business contacts and opportunities, and asking questions about business success. I have not found this to be true with the other social media.
  • LinkedIn connections are often from companies with decent marketing budgets.
    The clients who reached out to me via LinkedIn were mainly from companies looking for a skilled SEO Copywriter to help improve an existing website or launch a new site. This work was in their marketing budget for the year and they were ready to go. They were happy to find me and were willing to pay my fees for quality SEO Copywriting. The same can happen for you too.
  • Linked connections represent all types of opportunities for your business. Over the last couple of years, I’ve connected with more than 600 people I know personally from my career and my school days. I have connections with former colleagues, associates I met through business groups, college classmates and friends, high school friends, graphic designers, web developers, ad agency people I’ve met, fellow copywriters, industry leaders like Heather, and many, many other types of people. Any one of them can be a great source of referrals or business. You never know!

It’s not just me that’s having better luck with LinkedIn than some other social networks when it comes to finding business clients. HubSpot’s 2011 State of Inbound Marketing report shows that, “the effectiveness of particular social media channels varies according to the type of business.”

In a survey of over 600 professionals, they found that “LinkedIn is clearly more effective (than Facebook) for B2B businesses.

So why not try it and see for yourself? It’s incredibly easy and it’s FREE. Try these 5 ways to dive in and create a powerful network for your business, all from the comfort of home:

1. Create an optimized profile of yourself.

For example, include the phrase “SEO Copywriter” in your SUMMARY and in the description of current business. Include all past work you’ve done as a virtual resume under EXPERIENCE, but be sure to showcase the work you’ve done that’s relevant for today’s potential clients. You don’t need to do it all at once, but eventually you’ll want to create a robust profile with relevant content in each prompted section.

2. Start connecting with the most obvious folks on your list.

This will include current employers (if you’re still working at a company), current colleagues, past colleagues, college friends, local business folks you know… anyone who comes to mind. You might make a big list on paper and then search for those people in LinkedIn’s SEARCH area. When you send a request to connect, always add a little personal note to say HI and let the person know what you’re doing. Here’s an example, “Hey Bob! Great to see you here. Just letting you know I’m now a Certified SEO Copywriter focusing on improving website performance for clients. Perhaps you know someone who could use my help? In the meantime, I’d love to add you to my LinkedIn Connections. What are you up to these days? Cheers, Pam”

3. Continue connecting with “People you may know.”

As you begin building a network of connections from all your past jobs, etc., LinkedIn feeds you a list of people who you may know based on your new connections. This list is a goldmine, so make the most of it!  You’ll find people you completely forgot about or you haven’t seen in years. With a quick invitation to connect, you suddenly strike up a new relationship that could lead to a great referral or project. I check out the “People you may know” at least once a week and send out at least 10 invitations each time. It adds up quickly.

4. Join Groups that are relevant to your business.

If your SEO copywriting work is for a particular niche market (which I highly recommend), join groups in that market. For example, I’m focused on the pet industry, so I’ve joined Pet Business groups and Veterinary groups. Joining groups helps you keep track of questions and topics that are important to your specific market, and when it makes sense, chime in on a discussion (without promoting your business of course, because no-one likes spammy participants).

5. Be an amazing contributor.

Whenever you can, use the “Share an update” box on your home page to post helpful tips, links, ideas, questions, answers, sources, industry news, etc. that your connections may find helpful. Try not to be overly promotional. Just be helpful. That’s the simple rule of thumb for all your social media efforts. And don’t forget to use relevant keywords in your posts! This helps potential clients find you in LinkedIn search.

Bonus tip: Ask for Recommendations and Give Recommendations.

LinkedIn makes it very easy to reach out to folks and ask for a personal recommendation of your work. By clicking on the Recommendations button, you can send a simple request via email. Be sure to add a personal message and offer to return the favor. Not everyone will stop and write a recommendation, but it’s great when some people do take the time. I’ve accumulated a nice list of testimonials through this feature.

This gives you a solid start on making the most of LinkedIn. There are many other ways you can make the most of this free resource once you get your foundation going.

Have you experienced any LinkedIn successes. … or heard about any from other SEO Copywriters? Please let us know. Also let us know if you have any other thoughts or findings related to LinkedIn.

Keep linking and good luck!

Pam Foster

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Author, The Web Copywriter’s Clear Path to Profits
SuccessWorks Certified SEO Copywriter and Sr. Content Marketing Consultant
ContentClear Marketing and PetCopywriter.com


 

3 cash-free ways to market your local business online

Welcome back! Today’s SEO copywriting tip is in response to a question from the SEO Copywriting Facebook grouphow do you market a (local) business online when you don’t have any money?

This can be tricky, because ideally if you’re launching a new business, you usually have a marketing budget, however small. At the same time, Heather has worked with local companies that invested all they had just to get their business up and running – only to find themselves scrambling to figure out how to get the word out.

Tune in as Heather shares three ideas for marketing online when you have no cash, and under the conditions that it’s possible to do so:

It’s possible…but under certain conditions:

It is possible to market your business online with no budget, but only for the short term, and under certain conditions.

  • The owner has time to educate him/herself in online marketing.
  • The owner makes marketing his/her business a priority and can dedicate a couple of hours (or more) a day to getting the word out.
  • Know that this is a stop-gap measure. In most cases, businesses will benefit from having an actual site.

Marketing Idea #1 – Twitter

  • Twitter can be a great way to “meet” new local people.
  • It’s important to know how and what to tweet. Too much self promotion will turn prospective clients off.
  • Be a good community member. Don’t forget to RT (retweet), thank people for their RT’s, etc.

Marketing Idea #2 – Facebook

  • Facebook can provide your company a “home” until your site is launched.
  • Spend time building a good Facebook page that encourages community and sparks conversation.
  • Check on your Facebook page throughout the day and comment/add new wall posts.

Marketing Idea #3 – Local Publications

It’s easy to forget that not all marketing has to be done online (and that print often has an online component).

  • Does your local newspaper have a monthly “new business” interview or column? Pitch your business and ask to be interviewed. Don’t forget local business journals, too.
  • Make note of local influential bloggers in your community. How can you connect with them?
  • Whenever possible, try to meet people in person.

Thanks for joining us for today’s SEO copywriting tip!  Do you have a question for Heather? Zip it over to her at askheather@seocopywriting.com and you may very well see it answered here! See you then.

 

Interview with Ken Lyons of Measured SEM

Ken Lyons, Measured SEM

Ken Lyons has been in Internet marketing for more than seven years and is co-founder of Measured SEM, an inbound marketing agency in Boston, Ma. He’s an avid blogger and has been featured in Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, and Website Magazine. He also writes a monthly Web strategies column for Allbusiness.com.

So tell us a bit about how you came to establish Measured SEM

In 2009, I started working at WordStream, a venture-backed startup in Boston that provides search marketing software. That’s where I met my current business partner, Tom Demers. Tom and I headed the SEO and inbound marketing efforts for WordStream. We worked really well together and in one year were able to grow site traffic at WordStream.com from 2,000 monthly visits to 200,000, which was no small feat considering we were slugging it out in hyper-competitive, organic search verticals dominated by some of the top SEOs and SEO agencies on the planet.

Ultimately, Tom and I decided to launch our own boutique inbound marketing agency, Measured SEM, which we did this past February. With Measured SEM, we knew that we could apply the same strategies and tactics that transformed WordStream.com into a traffic and lead generation machine to other companies in other niches and see similar results. So far, so good :)

What is the make-up of your clientele?

Currently, we have a roster of 30 clients that range from smaller mom and pop shops, who want local SEO/geo-targeting traction, to larger SMBs software vendors where we manage their online marketing campaigns from end-to-end, to ecommerce clients where we develop and execute content-based link marketing campaigns.

So how did you determine your niche market?

Starting an inbound marketing agency that would grow site traffic and online lead generation for companies seemed like a logical extension of our experience, skill sets and passion. What’s more, despite the economic slowdown, the search marketing space continues to thrive each year. So it made sense to continue working in an industry that’s enjoying rapid growth and still relatively young with a lot of upside.

What kind of SEO services do you provide?

Our SEO services include technical site audits, SEO strategy, keyword research, on-page optimization and SEO copywriting. We also offer a range of content marketing and link building packages, that include everything from infographic creation and promotion, to group interviews with industry thought leaders, to our popular guest blog posting service.

The overriding goal of our services is to provide exponential value to our clients. So for example, if you spend $X amount with us per month we want you to see $2X worth in return.

How big a role does copywriting play in the services you provide?

Copywriting is pervasive in almost everything we do at Measured SEM. Think about it: good copy touches so many aspects of traditional SEO–from crafting clickable title tags, to persuasive meta descriptions, to compelling page titles. In addition, we produce search-driven content for clients, which includes informational content (blog posts, expert articles, authoritative industry reports) and transactional content (SEO landing pages that are designed to convert).

Great copy also plays a major role in our content marketing campaigns, where we not only research and generate the content/linkable assets, but we also promote the content via outreach, which in itself involves writing a very persuasive pitch letter to compel the recipient to not only look at your content but to share it with their audience as well.

Any advice for those considering starting up their own SEO copywriting business?

There’s a lot of competition out there, from cost-effective content shops, like Text Broker, to higher-quality resources like Level343, so you really need to distinguish yourself and provide a strong value prop. The best way to set yourself above the pack is to over-deliver on every project. This is especially true if you’re just starting out. Make the client feel like they’re getting more than they’re paying for and you’ll minimize churn, create a loyal customer base and get tons of referrals.

Tell us about your most difficult challenge as an SEO business.  How did you resolve/deal with it?

Setting client expectations is the most challenging aspects of what we do, but it’s vital to the health of every project. You need to set realistic, achievable expectations for clients right out of the gate so everyone is on the same page. Then, you over-deliver :)

Do you recommend keeping SEO copywriting in-house, or outsourcing as a new biz?

For new businesses, it probably makes the most sense to outsource for a few reasons:

  • Copywriting is one of those tasks you can outsource and not suffer on quality.
  • Given the uncertainty of success for a new biz, its one less fixed expense. It’s a lot easier to dial back your commitment to a consultant than to lay off an employee if your business hits a rough patch.

However, once you start to gain momentum and generate consistent revenue growth, I think there are advantages to having a copywriter on-staff. Anyone who’s embedded in your company is going to acquire valuable institutional knowledge and have a much better understanding of your space, your industry and your business. For the in-house copywriter, that means knowing how best to speak to and connect with your target audience.

 

Interview with Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking on many panels with the wonderful Mr. O. Not only is Lee a nice guy, he is incredibly smart in the ways of content marketing. I’m very honored to feature his guest interview today. — Heather

So how did you come to be the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing?

After working in numerous roles from late 1996 to 2001 for a web development and marketing agency, I left as VP of Online Marketing and joined with Susan Misukanis to launch a Marketing PR consultancy. I started TopRank as a product for the agency and it grew to become the company itself. Somewhere in that transition I became the CEO.

A good portion of our client base are B2B companies like StrongMail, PRWeb ,and McKesson, so the need for content to educate during longer sales cycles has always been an integral part of our SEO and Social Media consulting practice. Until a few years ago we called it “Editorial Marketing” until Joe Pulizzi helped popularized the phrase “Content Marketing.”

From your perspective, how has content marketing evolved over the past few years?

The biggest change I’ve seen is that more people are jumping on the bandwagon of creating content with the multitude of tools and publishing platforms available. While the value of great content to engage and persuade customers has always been important, I guess it took a while for a lot of online marketers to catch on.  Now content is an essential piece of any robust online marketing effort whether it’s B2C or B2B.

As more companies get into the “brand as publisher” business of creating content, I think many will burn out and turn to content curation as a way to provide value. Many of them are doing that now but will need to be aware of how Google deals with short form and duplicate information if they expect search to be a significant driver of traffic.

What would you say are the most important influences affecting content marketing today?

As far as the industry goes, there are rich information sources like Content Marketing Institute and the growing number of blogs (like this one) rich with information about marketing with content. My opinion is that anyone in a position to create content also has influence over how the organization plans, produces and promotes content.

When it comes to influences on the practice of content marketing, I’d say it’s the ability for companies to understand the people they’re trying to connect with, a.k.a. “audience,” “customers” or “community,” and then putting that understanding into an accountable content strategy. There is an accelerating quantity of content and digital information created every day and content marketing will evolve as changes in how people discover, consume and share information occurs.

What are your thoughts about the relative influences/intersections of Social Media and SEO on content marketing?

In the customer lifecycle from prospect to evangelist and everywhere in between, the information a brand publishes and exchanges with the community involves (or can involve) search-optimized content for discovery, social media for discovery, as well as content creation and sharing.  As consumers change how they find, interact and engage with digital information, marketers must anticipate what that means for their own messaging and methods of engagement.

Imagine the difference between these two scenarios:

Let’s go back a few years. Customer A needs a blender. She searches Google, is presented with results showing retail stores that sell blenders and visits several until she sees one she likes and buys it. A little simplified, but you get what I mean.

Fast forward to today. Customer B also needs a blender. She Tweets, “I need a new blender that can handle my monster smoothies, any recommendations?” (Yes, that’s under 140 characters). She might also message a few friends on Facebook asking a similar question. Some recommendations come her way and she “Googles” the brand / model names.  While she’s on the retailer website(s) there are product reviews, and some have articles and downloadable recipe books. Another links to a food/cooking community. After careful consideration she decides to buy one. Then she posts a thank you to her Facebook friends for helping pick out a new blender with photos of her first smoothie.

In the first example, our content is pretty much focused on the web pages that show up in search results. In the second example, content takes many forms including web pages, Tweets, reviews, social networks, and images. Maybe even video if margaritas we involved. Search and social increasingly drive discovery of new content. Social media facilitates sharing of that content.

The takeaway is that knowing consumer preferences should lead to making content findable, whether it’s search or social (or both), and shareable. That’s the intersection of Social SEO and Content in my book.

There’s been much discussion about content curation and creation — where are your thoughts on that?

Actually, I think it really depends on the strategy and resources of the business.  For many companies, original content is difficult and out of budget. In their search for other options, a strategy focused on becoming a single source of news and information around niche topics might be implemented through content curation. There are tools like Curata (a client) or Curation Station that provide companies with the ability to create these types of news destinations focused on specific topics. There are other tools like Amplify, Storify, and Eqentia that do similar things.

I’m a bit biased towards a mix of creation and curation. Most importantly, I think creating a content marketing strategy that is focused on providing customers with useful information and resources in a way that inspires them to buy and refer my clients’ products/services is the most effective.  In some cases that means 70% greenfield content and in others it might be 25%, with the balanced focused on being a filter of useful industry information for the community.

If there were any words of advice for the new content marketer, what would you tell him/her?

Turn around, run! Don’t look back. No, really: Study great sites like copyblogger.com and visit CMI (mentioned above) for great tips and case studies on how companies are implementing and innovating with content. Network with other content marketers and find a way to experiment. Build a base of knowledge and get wicked smart with analytics so you can demonstrate the impact of your awesome-sauce work.

Lee Odden, Founder and CEO of TopRank® Online Marketing, regularly shares his content marketing expertise at TopRank Blog.

Since 2001 TopRank® has helped Fortune 500 companies (and a few Fortune 20’s as well) increase traffic, sales and brand visibility online through a holistic internet marketing approach.

 

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5 post-Panda strategies for optimizing your e-commerce site

Welcome back! In this third post of her Q & A video blog series, Heather addresses the oft-asked question:  How can I make my e-commerce site better for the search engines? Many smaller to mid-sized e-commerce companies are now striving to make their sites as good as they can possibly be, after suffering the fallout of Google’s Mayday and Panda/Farmer updates.

Over the past financially-stressed year, many e-commerce companies simply lacked the resources needed to produce high-quality, original content.  So they’ve been hurt by Google’s Mayday and Panda/Farmer updates.  But there is a shiny silver lining to this setback, as Heather explains:

Common E-Commerce Issues:

  • Mayday Update: Many SMB’s without the financial resources to invest in content generation were “downgraded” by Google because they simply duplicated the product descriptions from the original manufacturers of the goods offered.
  • Farmer/Panda Update: Those businesses without the money for content creation were also hurt due to “thin” and/or “low-quality” content.  These folks may have tried to build out keyphrase-laden pages to drive traffic, or were stuck with the same old products pages with no fresh or original copy.

Whatever the circumstance, these smaller e-commerce companies are at a huge disadvantage right now.  But the silver lining is that this setback presents a fantastic opportunity for these businesses to give their e-commerce site a complete “make-over.”

So here’s what to do (over) if you find your e-commerce site hurting from Google’s algorithm changes:

1) Figure out what’s working, and what’s not: Seize this opportunity to delve deep into your analytics and look at things like bounce and conversion rates. The information you glean can provide you with a road map as to what to do next.  For instance…

2) Are you using the right keyphrases? Upon entering the e-commerce world, you may not have completely understood what keyphrases were or how to work with them. Or your original keyphrases may have brought in traffic at the start, but may be not the best, qualified traffic. Again, this is a great opportunity to go back to the beginning and re-evaluate.  You may well discover other keyphrases to focus on and leverage for SEO.

3) MessagingDo you address your prospect’s primary question of what’s in it for me (WIIFM)? Revisit your benefit statements: do they explicitly tell your reader what’s in it for them? Are the tone and feel of your site targeted to your perfect customer? Are you bringing out the best benefit statements that you can? This is a golden opportunity to make your site as tight and wired to your customer as possible.

4) What else can you “tweak?” Consider what other elements could be improved to help make you money.  For instance:

  • Do you need to change your page Titles? Probably. See what you can tweak to increase both your ranking and conversions.
  • Could you add customer reviews? This is a great way to build out original content on your products pages.
  • Can you build out different types of content (video, podcasts, other types of descriptive content)? Ideally, your product page content should be unique – not just a reiteration of the original manufacturers’ copy.
  • How can you leverage your blog to help you with sales? Your blog presents an ideal venue to “soft sell” and link to your site’s product pages.  It doesn’t have to be “sales-y,” and in fact shouldn’t be. Written deftly, your blog content can go a long way towards supporting sales.

5) Checking your analytics, determine what your top-performing pages are and start re-writing those first. Look at the top 20-percent of your site’s highest-performing pages, and begin your copywriting do-over with these.

Yes, this website “do-over” does mean an investment of time and money, but the silver lining is that once you’ve gone through the process — taking the time to do it right — then everything else will fall into place:  your site will be well-optimized for the search engines, will better serve your customers, and you’ll see a greater return on your investment!

Thanks for joining us! Do you have a SEO copywriting or content marketing question? Zip it on over to Heather at: askheather@seocopywriting.com, and she may well answer it with next Monday’s video post!