SEO Best Practices for Small Business

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As Search Engine Optimization (SEO) continues to evolve and become more complex, small businesses can feel unfairly burdened with trying to keep up. Big businesses have big budgets that can accommodate on-staff specialists or a fancy marketing agency. Small businesses, on the other hand, usually need to stretch every marketing dollar to stay profitable.

If you need a few SEO shortcuts for your small business, try these best practices to make sure your content hits all the right notes without the expensive specialist fine tuning it.

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How SEO Works Today

In my last post, I talked about how SEO evolved right alongside the web. As websites became more prolific and pages became more complex, SEO developed into a complicated strategy with plenty of ways to cheat the system. This post will look at where SEO stands today so you can understand how and why SEO is still important to your overall strategy—just not the central focus.

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The History of SEO

In the next several posts, I’ll be talking about SEO to help you understand what it is, where it came from, and how important it is to your content strategy.

What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of tailoring your website and web pages to boost the amount of traffic you get from search engines. Good SEO practices will also increase the quality of the traffic to your site, so you get more traffic from people who belong there, and less from people who don’t.

How it all Began

In the 1990s, search engines were just entering the internet world. Until then, you had to know where you were going before you could go there. Sites like Excite and Lycos debuted and began using crawling technology to index all the pages on the web while other sites like Yahoo! started creating databases using results that are tabulated by humans. These databases were searchable and allowed people to discover new websites and new information while also allowing others to rank them. [Read more…]

Advanced Email Marketing Metrics

Last week, we talked about the basic email metrics to keep an eye on including delivery rate, open rate, click-through rate (CTR), and bounce rate. Today we are going to dig a little deeper and look at some metrics that will give you a closer look at what your recipients are doing with your messages. This will help you to gauge more effectively if your campaigns are on the right track.  [Read more…]

Key Email Marketing Metrics

Email marketing is a cost-effective way to reach key members of your audience, especially when you are using segmented lists and highly targeted campaigns. Measuring your results, however, is one of the most important parts of the job as it’s the only way for you to know what has been effective and what needs to be changed. Here are the basic metrics that every email marketer should be checking.  [Read more…]

Personalization: Your Key to Email Marketing Success

Email marketing has such a bad reputation among consumers, they not only came up with their own name for it (spam) but developers are constantly working hard to prevent soliciting emails from ever reaching consumers. If email marketing is causing so much trouble, is it worth it to invest in an email marketing campaign? I think so, as long as you do it right. [Read more…]

Stop! Check This List Before Clicking “Send”

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“Stop” by Håkan Dahlström via Flickr | CC By 2.0

Email blast campaigns might be a thing of the past, however, email marketing is still an important tool in the marketer’s toolbox. In order for an email campaign to be effective, it has to hit the right notes with who you are targeting. It has to get right to the point and immediately show the reader what they stand to gain from reading your message. 

There are several barriers that can prevent your readers from getting your message, either because spam filters flag your messages or because you’ve done something that is likely to turn them off. Before you click “send,” run through this checklist to make sure you’re not getting in your own way.

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Are You Pinteresting?

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An Egg Carton Chandelier…” by Jodimichelle via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Social media plays a key role in a successful marketing plan – especially when it comes to connecting with your customers. Facebook and Twitter are probably the most popular outlets, but there are lots of other avenues to explore including LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+. Today we’re going to have a look at Pinterest, a platform dedicated to those who like their information visual. [Read more…]

Forbes: Content Marketing Trends of 2014

My favorite part of January blogging is going back and looking at all of the predictions for the previous year to see how they did. The one I’m looking at today was one I held on to from last January because I thought it had some great predictions in it. It was written by Jayson DeMers, a content marketing and SEO contributor for Forbes. Let’s take a look at his “Top 7 Content Marketing Trends Dominating 2014.” [Read more…]

New Year, New Strategies

"Strategy" by Stefan Ershwendner via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

“Strategy” by Stefan Ershwendner via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

One of the best ways to get the most out of your content marketing is to have a solid plan. You don’t want to post blogs whenever you feel like it or on whatever topic you thought of over breakfast. Your Facebook page should be more than just personality quizzes and “You Know You’re From Chicago When….” posts. You’ve got have a game plan, an idea of the path that people should take as they read your content, browse your website, and read your Tweets.

So, if you’ve been working on a whim up until now, it’s time to put together a game plan. Beyond the usual questions of “Who is your audience” and “What are your goals,” here’s 4 questions to ask yourself as you work out your content marketing plan to make sure your bases are covered.

1. If I disappeared today, would anyone miss me?

Aww, don’t worry; I would miss you. But would the rest of your readers miss your content? Are you providing hot, fresh, up-to-the minute information and great entertainment? If you’re only doing what you think you’re obligated to do (some marketing person said I should have a blog *yawn* so I write stuff on Fridays.) then no, not many people will miss you.

As you work on your strategies and your content plan, think about what you have to say that nobody else can.

2. Am I just recreating the product catalog?

Oh, no. Don’t fall into the trap of just writing about your products and services. The occasional plug on Facebook about your new shampoo or a well-placed call to action at the bottom of your blog is fine, however, if most of your content focuses on things you want people to buy, you’re just creating a really big product catalog — and those are really boring.

When you’re planning your content, schedule no more than 20% of your content to be about you. And when you do indulge in a little Me Time, try to keep it entertaining. A how-to video, a recipe using one of your products, a photo-tour of something interesting that you do – all of these have the potential to be entertaining without looking too pitchy.

3. Am I too focused on one channel?

This is one question I have to revisit too often when it comes to my own materials. I tend to focus a lot of my energies on this blog and don’t always remember to invest and explore all the avenues that are available. Luckily, the answer is always simple: each content idea you generate should have a component for all of your channels.

For example, if you’re going to do a blog series about how to grow a home garden, next to those you should be planning what to put on your social media channels. Think of a bunch of supporting Facebook posts (maybe highlight a local gardener, post some pretty pictures of tomatoes) and find some interesting “Did You Know” stats to tweet.

4. Am I creating enough evergreen content?

Not everything needs to be breaking news or otherwise disposable information. When you’re creating content, plenty of it should be good-sense, evergreen stuff that will stand the test of time. Many of these will become some of your most-visited pages and can eventually build a sort of reference library for anyone that is new to your company.

Evergreen content is also great for repurposing and linking. You can put a bunch of relevant blog posts together to create an ebook or whitepaper, you can link to it over and over again as a reference, and people can find it months, or even years, after you’ve written it and still gain value.

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