Sunday, November 27, 2011

What is a Blog and Why Do You Need One?

One of the biggest buzzwords for businesses lately has been blogging. It’s supposed to be the latest “wonder tool” for attracting hungry prospects for your business. But what is a blog and how do you know if you really need one?

What is a Blog and Why Do You Need One?

A blog is a website that has posts (articles or entries) that are arranged in chronological order from most recent at the top to oldest at the bottom. They can be written by one person, or by teams of authors and they cover almost any topic you can think of.

Blogs have grown in popularity in recent years because it’s an extremely easy way for people to publish their “voice” or opinions on the Internet. Some people will simply write about whatever is on their mind, while others will act more as a reporter and deliver the latest information on specific topics.

The great thing about blogs is their ability to connect people with similar interests and allow people to develop relationships and build online communities. They way that they do that is by allowing readers to comment on the article or post and share their thoughts. Then the author will go back and comment back, and eventually conversations about the topic will begin.

As more and more posts are created, the newer ones are placed at the top and the rest shuffle down. As posts fall off the front page, they will go into an archive. Most blogs will allow you to search archives by the month the article was published, or by the category the post falls under. This allows for an easy way for readers to find articles relevant to their topic of interest.

Also becoming more and more popular is a video blog. Video always captures more attention than the written word does because it is more engaging. For many people, building a personal brand is important, and it’s much easier to build rapport and give people a feel for who you are when you’re on their computer monitor speaking to them face-to-face.

So why is a blog important for business?

There are many different reasons why a blog is important for business, but the biggest thing to keep in mind is that each post you make on a blog is actually a new page on your website. The more “real estate” you own on the Internet, the more likely the traffic will end up on one of your pages than one of your competitors.
When coming up with your Internet Marketing strategy, the blog becomes your “hub” for almost all other activities that you will perform. All of the online tactics and strategies can be greatly leveraged when you have a blog incorporated on your website because it helps you to increase your traffic, and getting targeted traffic to your website is one of the objectives of a successful internet marketing strategy.

For example, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be greatly improved using a blog because you can write specific posts that target specific keywords that your prospects or customers are searching for in the search engines. When your page comes up in Google and your prospect sees your listing, they can click through and end up on your website. As well, each time you add a post, you’re changing the content on your website, and dynamic websites with changing content always rank better than static websites that never change.

With Social Media Marketing, your blog posts and articles can be broadcasted through all of your social media channels and include a link for people to return to your site to read your post. (By the way, if you’re not using Social Media, you’re leaving money on the table.

If you utilize email marketing, you can send out emails to your subscribers and inform them of your new blog posts. If you publish to your blog regularly, this gives you a reason to contact your subscribers on a regular basis (that’s not a sales pitch) to provide them with valuable information that may be of interest to them.

So now that we’ve talked in depth about all of the advantages of having a blog for yourself or your business, what are the disadvantages?

Well, the only real disadvantage is that it does require a certain level of commitment. It’s recommended that you post fresh content to your blog a minimum of 2-3 times per week. For some people, this can be a daunting task. As entrepreneurs, we’re commonly faced with a lack of time to get everything done that should be done.

But don’t fret, there is a solution. There are many services available that can write content for you to publish to your blog. A word of warning however, you’re always better off to write your own posts because as your prospects read your articles, they begin to get a glimpse of you and your personality or a taste of your business style and culture.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How Does a Search Engine Work?

As many of us are only too aware, the internet is an extensively large resource which allows us to tap into information covering every subject under the sun. Since its beginnings, the internet has grown to such a scale that it was recorded in 2007 that the World Wide Web held over 29.7 billion pages. In order to find what we’re looking for amongst that many pages, we need to rely on search engines. But how do search engines work and accurately give us the results we’re looking for?

As the Internet is an extremely popular resource-one of which is being used frequently by businesses all over the world, it is possible that this number has increased by millions more within the past three years. Now, in order to come up in the search rankings, your website must utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

How Do Search Engines Work?

For those who are looking to obtain information, no matter what subject they may be searching for, there is the advantage that there are hundreds of millions pages to help them find what they need. Unfortunately, this adds as a disadvantage that there are hundreds of millions of pages which are mostly titled in regards to the author; this then throws up the issue to the user of which pages they need to read when looking up about a particular subject. This is where Internet search engines come into play.

Search engines are specially designed sites on the World Wide Web of which their main purpose is to help web users find information which is stored on other websites. Each search engine site will work in a way which differs to the other, but they all perform the same three basic tasks which are:
  • Searching through the internet or specified areas within the web, based on important keywords
  • Creating an index of the keywords they are searching for and where they find them within the web; and
  • Allowing web users to search for words or a combination of words that have been found within the index
In its beginnings, search engines were able to hold an index of a few hundred thousand pages and would typically receive around 2,000 queries a day. Today, the most popular search engines can index hundreds of millions of pages and will respond to tens of millions of queries each day.

Before the World Wide Web was truly established as the most visible part of the Internet, search engines were already in place in order to help users find information. Using different programs such as “gopher”, these programs would keep an index of the files which were stored on servers connected to the Internet, and would reduce the amount of time it took to find programs on the web.

In order for a search engine to identify where a file or document is, it must firstly find it for you on the web. In order to do this, a search engine will employ a specific software robot known as spiders, to build lists of the different words which are found on various websites.

When these spiders build these lists, this is known as Web crawling. For a list to be filled with useful words, a search engine’s spider will be required to look at a wide variety of pages in huge quantities, but how exactly does a spider begin its list building on the web?

The beginning of the list building will usually start by listing all heavily used servers and the most popular pages on the web which are related to your chosen words. The spider will start with the most popular site, indexing the words on the pages within this site, following every link which is found within the particular site. Whilst doing this, the spider will travel quickly through the Internet, identifying the most widely visited areas of the web.

This is why a website needs to be built to be navigated easily by both humans and spiders. Utilizing Search Engine Optimization on your website will communicate to the spider if a page is important or contains valuable information.

One of the most widely used search engine sites in the world is Google, which is perceived as being one of the most intelligent search engines on the World Wide Web. Within Google, the site uses multiple spiders, sometimes up to three at a time and each spider has the capability to keep up to 300 connections to different web pages at all times.

At its most capable period, Google is able to use four spiders, with over 100 pages per second being crawled through. This can result in around 600 kilobytes of data being found every second. Being able to keep this system working effectively means that Google’s system needed to be built so that it could feed the required information to the spiders.

When Google’s search engine looks at a web page, it will look at two main characteristics: the words which are on each page, and where on these pages that the words are found. In order for the owner of the site to be able to show up high in search engine results, they can use specific words within their webpage titles, subtitles and meta tags.

Meta tags allow the website owners to choose specific keywords for each indexed page. This is extremely beneficial in the case that words on each page have double or triple meanings as the meta tags can easily guide the search engines in the right direction of selection.

However, it is important that web owners do not rely on these tags as if you include meta tags which have no relevance to the content which appears on the site, this could severely damage your search engine results or not include your site within the results at all.

With these developments in Internet technology, the World Wide Web has opened up new possibilities to businesses that are looking to sell products or services both locally and online by carefully and thoughtfully selecting the correct content, titles and meta tags within each page.

Not only does this allow for businesses to take full advantage of the great benefits which stem from using the internet, thus search engine sites for the growth of their business, but in today’s society, it also helps to keep up with competitors and display yourself as a reputable and professional business.

Gone are the days where people look up local services in the Yellow Pages. Gone are the days where local businesses ranked in order of the size of their advertising budgets. Even locals now use the search engines to look up information on local businesses. Using search engine optimization will lift your website to the top of the first page or search engine results for a fraction of the cost of Yellow Pages advertising.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Do You Have a Successful Social Media Strategy?

Did you know that more than 65% of business owners plan to use social media even more in 2012 to help grow their business?

Every business will have a different social media strategy. While the basics remain the same, there are different methods that can be used depending on what your niche is. When you develop your social media strategy, always remember to:

1.     Create and understand your goals
It is important to pre determine what you want to get out of your social media efforts. Your first step is to always engage the user and work on building your following. The end result should always be to either increase sales, increase branding, or build your database.

2.     Stay engaged in the conversation
Before investing a lot of time and resources into social media, it’s a mandatory to engage and stay engaged with your followers. Relationships will build and your brand will spread.

3.     Design a Content Plan
Pre-determine what your content and what your aim will be, and design alike. How many messages do you want to send out every day? These are the types of details that should be outlined in your social media strategy. You never want to bombard the user with messages, so it is recommended to keep it limited and always put thought into your posts.

4.     Employ the “free give-away” tactic
This is a great technique for brand awareness and to build your following quickly. Everyone wants something for free, and they are willing to “follow” you or “like” your content to have a chance to win something. You can also use the free giveaway in other advertising you may do.

5.     Use an Analytics program
As you build followings on the various social networks, you will also see an increase in traffic to your website. If you are doing other forms of advertising like Pay Per Click (PPC), it can become more difficult to determine what’s bringing you the results and what’s dead in the water. Using an analytics program will streamline the process and make it tons easier to see where your traffic is coming from…it will show you what is working and what is not. Analytics can save you time as well as money.

As you can see, there is a lot that can go into ones social media strategy. Developing your strategy should not be taken lightly. You need to take everything into account here and the number one recommendation is to do research!

Even a simple Google search can give you insight and help you develop your marketing strategy and plan. It is also recommended to employ some type of A/B Split Testing so that you can see what pages and graphics give you the best conversions.

The most important thing to remember when you’re developing your social media strategy is your goal. If your goal is to build your following, employ relationship building techniques and if you’re trying to sell a product, run a promotion!

Hot Tip:
If you use Facebook, the Events feature is great to broadcast a promotion! You can send out an event invitation to all of your fans with your promotion simply by clicking Event!

Good Luck!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

7 Ways to Turn Your Blog into a Must Visit Destination

If you are a blogger I am going to say something here that you might balk at!

Getting traffic and prospective customers to your blog isn’t that difficult!

There, I said it. Do you agree or are you one of those in the camp that constantly struggles when it comes to knowing the exact methods of how to increase blog traffic?

In this post you will learn 8 ways to drive new visitors to your blog, but (and this is a big BUT!), you have to be consistent, thorough, unrelenting and committed to your blogging or else your blog will simply be the next ghost town.

This is a multipronged approach that includes both online and offline marketing efforts, some paid and some free. You can use these techniques to master the art of increasing traffic and bumping up conversion rates.

1. Organic Search

Google still is, and for a long time will be, the main traffic driver on the web. In order to benefit from Google’s generosity of sharing their customers, as that is essentially what search traffic is, you have to play by the search engine’s rules. Therefore getting your site to rank high remains an important way to drive traffic. Search engine optimisation is a critical strategy to drive organic search results.

 2. External Links

Your website is an island a vast ocean that is the internet. In order to attract more traffic you need to build more bridges for people to come visit. These bridges are what are known as links and links play a vital role in determining the credibility of your website to the search engines.

One thing to mention here is that not all links are equal. If your site discussed pony trekking then a link from a cake baking article is not really a valid citation. If your theme is eighteen wheel trucks and you have a link from Barbie dolls, again that’s not valid. You want to make sure that the site where the link comes from is a good match for what your blog discusses.

The next three items on the list are paid methods of attracting more traffic to your blog, which if you know your conversion rate and you have a monetisation strategy then these will work for you. If you are still getting started then until you master the art of tracking and conversion which is a different topic altogether then you might want to skip to number 6.

3. PPC Advertising

Paid keywords, such as Google Adwords, have proven themselves to be cost effective methods for driving targeted traffic to your site. Although cost can be prohibitive for many niches, providing you know your conversion rates and are constantly testing and tweaking, adwords is a way to drive instant targeted traffic to your site.

Google offers a lot of resources to help small business owners learn everything from the basics of using adwords to mastering advanced user strategies and tips. Google Adwords Small Business Center

 4. Affiliate Traffic.

Affiliate traffic is when you pay a third party a referral fee for getting targeted traffic to your site. Affiliates use their own online marketing techniques, methods and internet real estate to advertise your product or service and send the traffic to your site. You may not want to take on this task until you are more established as affiliates want to know expected conversions in return for their investment.

5. Paid Banner Advertising

Banners are perhaps the oldest form of advertising on the internet. They act much like billboards in real life. You place a banner in an area of high traffic and when some someone shows interest in what you are offering then they click through and are taken immediately to your site or landing page.

6. Content

If you don’t have any content then there is no reason for people to check out your site. They’ll hit back on their browser and move on.

Quality content is absolutely fundamental to the success of your blog. Having bad content is like inviting people to a party and then telling them that there is no food or drink. People get disgruntled and leave.
Give people a strong reason to visit but more importantly to stay, subscribe and share. If you don’t have the content then this will not happen, so prior to inviting people and certainly before attempting any of the paid advertising methods make sure there is plenty of juicy content for people to find.

7. Email Newsletters.

When you have gone through all the hard work of attracting people to your site then you want to be in a position to take that relationship to the next level. For some that may be buying your product or service or joining your membership program, but whatever it is you want to get people to subscribe to your email list.
People who have subscribed to your email list have shown an interest in what you do and what you talk about. They have expressed a desire to learn more about you and these are the most valuable type of blog readers.

When you publish a new blog you can send your subscribers an email to let them know you have new content for them to consume. If you make the email compelling enough then you will automatically have a flood of traffic to your blog.

As stated at the beginning, knowing how to increase blog traffic is not difficult! There is a multitude of ways to promote your blog both online and offline; what is important is that you produce top quality content, be consistent, thorough and unrelenting.

Good Luck!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

5 Tips to Help You Get More Website Traffic

There are a wide range of ways to get more traffic to your website and a lot of the things you can do are actually quite simple. So much of the time, individuals seem to think that getting their name out there is a long and tough process but it truly is just something that take patience and consistency. Once you have the basics down, all of these things we are about to discuss are going to become second nature to you so it won’t feel like work at all.

Search Engine Optimization

While focusing on what search engines are looking for is important, the rules are always changing and it can prove to be quite difficult to keep up. Typically, the most important thing to remember is to stay organized. Make your website easy to navigate and properly title and file your information. Always add keywords, not only so search engines can find things easier but so your audience can as well. Focus more on those who are going to be visiting your site than search engines. Go to Google, Bing and Yahoo for the latest Search Engine Optimization tips to brush up on the latest changes and you should be all set.

Offer Your Audience Something Unique

In order to be a successful website owner, you must offer something that people are looking for. Whether that is content such as tips on how to keep your garden thriving, or services; make sure you are giving your audience something that they are looking for. One great way to see if a site like yours has already been created is to use the Google Keyword Tool. This tool allows you to type in keywords or key phrases and get a glimpse into just how much competition you are up against on the web. If you can find a way to tweak your niche or field so that you have a smaller number of competitors, then you are making the whole process that much easier for yourself.

Social Networking: An Easy Way to Get Attention

Social Networking Sites are extremely popular these days. They are a great platform not only for personal use but business use as well. Twitter and Facebook are two of the most commonly used options. Twitter makes it simple to connect with people by posting 160 character snippets, while Facebook allows you to create Fan Pages for your website which allows people to easily find you. Facebook advertising is an amazing way to target only the people you want to; whether it be by age group, or likes and interests.

Other sites to consider using are Stumble Upon, Digg, Delicious and Pinterest. These are all fantastic ways to get your name out there and allow more people access to what it is you have to offer. Every time you make a change or have something special going on with your website, it is a good idea to post the news to all of these websites.

Show Consistency and Simplicity

Consistency is important when it comes to running any website. Update your content on a regular basis and post content that is of high quality. You want to focus on both quality and quantity with your website. Do not ever throw information together, because your visitors are going to be able to pick up on this. Show them that you care about what you are doing and that is going to shine through your work. If you feel rushed on a regular basis, then do what you can to adjust your schedule so you have time to truly focus on the task at hand and not begin to feel overwhelmed or as though you just have to post something even when you don’t have much to say.

When it comes to your website’s design, keep it simple; yet interesting. People who come to your site are typically going to be in a hurry and if they cannot easily find their way around within the first few seconds of stopping by; it is very likely that they will move on to the next website. Put special attention on your organization such as the links on your main page and make it easy for people to see where they need to go to contact you in case they have any questions.

Guest Posting

Check out websites similar to yours and show your expertise. Comment on forums, blogs and websites that are related to your niche and give advice. If you’re able to, have a link to your website in your signature so people that see your high quality information and are interested are able to find out what it is you do.

Getting people to come to your website naturally is the best way to get traffic and maintain it. What you are looking for is repeat visitors. These are those who are going to bring you in the most business; not only their own business but the business of their friends and family members.

Good Luck!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Marketing Inspiration From a 3M Post-it Note

Marketing Inspiration From a Post-it Note You’re familiar with the 3M Post-It Note right? Have you ever heard how they came to be? When I heard the story I found a lot of inspiration from a 3M Post-It Note.

How I was inspired by a little piece of paper with glue that doesn’t stick that good.

Spencer Silver, a chemist that was working in the 3M lab, was trying to create a new glue; a glue that was exceptionally strong that would fuse two parts together and never come apart.

Well, after mixing simple organic molecules in an odd proportion during an experiment in 1968, he ended up with a glue that did the exact opposite of what he was trying to create. The glue he created didn’t fuse anything together at all. It was definitely tacky, but it would also easily let go.

He created a glue that wouldn’t stick.

But instead of saying “Well, this didn’t work. Let’s scrap it and start over,” Silver looked at the situation and asked himself, “What COULD we use this glue for?”

Silver started holding seminars within 3M sharing his discovery and appealing to the audience for alternative applications for his glue. He knew that many heads were better than just one. One of the people that was in attendance was a fellow scientist named Art Fry. At the time, he couldn’t think of an application for the glue, but that would all change…

An event sparks an idea…

In 1974, six years after Silver first discovered the glue, Fry suddenly had an idea for the glue. While singing one day in his church choir, he fumbled with his hymnal, lost his bookmarks and lost the pages to the songs they were singing. he thought to himself, “If only there was some way that I could glue my bookmarks in place without damaging my hymnal…”

Fry began taking advantage of a 3M policy known as the “bootlegging policy” which encourages technical staff to spend up to 15 percent of their working hours on projects of their own choosing. By 1977 the Post-It note was officially launched. By 1981, Post-It notes were being sold throughout the US, Canada and Europe.

Today, there are more than 600 Post-it Products including flags, labels, pockets, easels, bulletin boards and notes in 8 different sizes, 25 shapes, and 62 colors. Post-It notes are now a multi-million dollar revenue stream for 3M.

Inspiration from a 3M Post-It Note – Two Lessons To Take Away

The first lesson here is that you must have a level of commitment and determination in order to be successful. Spencer Silver, the chemist that invented the glue, basically spent six years promoting his glue that didn’t stick before some other scientist within the company discovered an application for it. They then spent another three years after that developing the product. That’s nine years since he first discovered the glue. Now that’s commitment.

Secondly, there is a certain level of inspiration here in regards to thinking outside the box to come up with different uses or applications for your products or services.

Think about Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. Sure, you can use it to bake with. But did you know about all of the other uses of baking soda around your home? Arm & Hammer certainly does, and they take every opportunity to tell you about them. You can use it to clean with, deodorize your fridge or freezer, clean your swimming pool water, extinguish kitchen fires, use it in your laundry, unclog drains, as an antacid, even brush your teeth with it. So why does Arm & Hammer spend so much on advertising all the different uses for their Baking Soda? To increase the consumption of their customers.

If you only used baking soda to cook with, you’d probably be hard pressed to use more than a single box every year, unless you did a LOT of baking. But now that you’re using it to remove stains and odors in your carpets, unclog your drains, and you’ve got open boxes in your fridge, freezer and your laundry room, well now you’re probably consuming 6-10 boxes a year. That a 600-1000% increase in revenue!

Take a look at your products and services and ask yourself what some alternative uses are. If you can even find one other use for your product or service, you could easily increase increase your revenue by 10-20%, maybe even more than that!

Opportunities are all around us, we just need to be more creative and open-minded. Ask your self “What would happen if…?”

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