Web Content Marketing Strategy on a Budget for SMBs
19/11/14 Social Media

Web Content Marketing Strategy on a Budget for SMBs

Let’s take a look at some awesomely successful content marketing campaigns from the past couple years:

  1. Red Bull sent a man into outer space.
  2. Coca-Cola had a social media team working 24 hours per day during the World Cup.
  3. American Express got Coldplay, The Killers, and many other pop stars to give them a hand.

Internet marketers talk about these content marketing campaigns all the time.

Inspiring, no doubt, but wait a minute! Here’s the problem: they have marketing budgets many times the size of your business!

So what can you actually apply from their campaigns?

You have to bootstrap everything in your business’s early days. And even if you’re not in the early years of your business, you still have to use every dollar wisely.

Here’s how you do that with content (without sacrificing quality)

1) Use at Least 2 Blog Posts Per Month

This is well within the time/financial budget of your SMB. It’s just frequent enough to keep Google spidering your website, and also to keep your customer’s interest.

If you want to be more regular and get a little more traction with Google and your customers, aim for 4.

To become the local thought leader, do 8 or more per month.

400-500 words per post is enough. Just make sure they’re interesting and helpful to your customers.

2) Add Social Media

You don’t need to be overly fancy with social media to get results from it. For most businesses, your time’s best spent on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest (for visual products).

Aim for 5-7 posts per week per profile. You can even post the exact same thing to each one.

Remember, 80% of your posts should be educational/helpful and NOT about your business. 20% should discuss your business or be special offers, deals, or sales.

If you go above that ratio, you look overly self-promotional, which loses you followers and sales.

Respond to every comment as quickly as possible. If someone complains, resolve the issue in private, and discuss the outcome in public so other visitors see you make service your priority

3) Steal from Your Competitors

Okay, so I exaggerated a little…you won’t actually be stealing!

But rather than spending hours, weeks, and months figuring out what works, research your competitors instead.

For example, find a business that does the exact same thing you do, but has a blog with social shares and active social media profiles. Go to the blog posts with the most social shares, and write the same idea yourself.

But of course take your own perspective on it! Otherwise, you are plagiarizing, and your visitors have no reason to go to your blog if you write the same thing everyone else does.

Examine their social media profiles. See which posts get the most likes, comments, and shares.

What seems to be their overall strategy?

One of the greatest benefits of the internet is that you can do free, in-depth marketing research that used to cost thousands and millions of dollars decades ago.

Can’t find a competitor with an active blog and social media profiles? Looks like it’s your turn to become the local market leader.

Content Marketing on a Budget? Pffff…No Problem!

Online marketing gives you a ridiculously high ROI compared to what you used years ago – The Yellow Pages, radio, television, billboards, your local phone book, and anything else you can name.

For small businesses, it really is a great way to compete with the big guys.

And if you’re a very small business with just an employee or two and maybe a contractor, this SEO strategy gets you through.

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19/11/14 Social Media

Guest Posting Still Carries Weight for SEO – Do It Properly

Yes! Guest posting does still carry massive weight for SEO campaigns. There have been big discussions on whether the method actually still works in Google’s eyes or whether they pass over and ignore publications. Personally, I know it still works. I know it works because I still do it and achieve fantastic results!

There are some exceptions of course; a lot of people used to write SEO articles and stuff their publications full of keywords and anchor text to try and make Mr G take more notice. This does not work, and it is also painful for the blog owner to read. They will more than likely refuse the article all together and you will lose your slot to write for them.


Image Credit


Let Your Articles Flow

Do not write for SEO purposes. Imagine you own a blog and somebody sends you a guest post which sounds plain and you can clearly see that it is for SEO purposes, would you accept it? No! Blog owners love their blogs, put their hearts and souls into them, and care about their readership and want to wow them, you should too!

Let the article flow naturally and talk to the readers as if you are having a conversation with them. You want to try and spark debate, so ask questions. Try to go for a new topic or a trend, something that has not been covered. You may also want to stick to simple wording as opposed to attempting to impress them with big words, which makes articles harder to read.

– My Personal Title Ideas

Choosing a “WOW” title is a big must when it comes to creating a piece for a blogger, you have to tease them, tantalize them with the title, make them want to click in and read the rest of your piece. Here are some simple tantalizing titles I use myself, just simply fill in the blanks:

  • How Safe Is Your [BLANK] from [BLANK]

– Example : How Safe Is Your Land From Developers With Rich Friends

  • X Warning Signs That [BLANK]

– Example: 10 Warning Signs That You Are About To Get Audited By The IRS

  • Warning: [Blank]

– Example: Warning: Testimonials Without Proof Can Land You In Jail

  • The Shocking Truth About: [BLANK]

– Example: The Shocking Truth About Tiger Woods!

There are plenty of titles you can mix up and some you can even mix together, just look in the media. Most of their titles are hundreds of years old and they are still used today, yet nobody notices. The title must be a wow factor for the blog owner and their readership, so spend time on it.

The Use of Images

Images are another big factor. If you are lazy and just send a bulk piece of text in a file, they are liable to delete it and not even give you an email back to let you know you wasted their time.

Use images and do the work for them, after all it is YOU that is wanting to use THEIR blog and readership, not the other way around. Go and look for some creative commons images, it really is not that hard and it takes a few moments. Resize the images to fit nicely into your publication and also give the correct image credits (just like I have in this publication).

Using images will not only impress the blog owner, it will save them a lot of time searching for their own. Most of the time they will not do this anyway. Images also give that nice little touch to your article and break it up a little bit and make it nicer to read.

The Pitch

I use three rules of thumb when it comes to guest posting and selecting a good blog:

1) Read their guidelines – most blogs that accept guest posts have them!

2) Read the blog – get a feel for their writing style and the angle they are hitting their audience with.

3) Write a draft to send – Many guest posters like to email beforehand on a topic. If you do not know a topic by the time you have read the guidelines and a few posts on the blog, then you should not be writing for them at all.

Blog owners do not like to be bothered about topics for their blogs. It is up to you to pitch them. They are far too busy to be emailing about topics that they can write up themselves.


Image Credit

Once you have your topic and draft, and have added in the images and links you wish to use, then send the article out in document form. Do not forget to grammar and spell check the piece and look at it for a few minutes to make sure it is formatted the way you want it. You should be able to scan the article with ease!

Author: Sophie Eagan

Sophie is an SEO consultant and has been for over 10 years. She believes highly in guest posting as a way of building links, but only if it is done properly. Guest posting is being ruined by those who do not follow the rules. Bloggers are bombarded with emails every day with guest post inquires, which means you need to stand out and be noticed!

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Great Business Blog Post Ideas are Much Closer than You Think!
19/11/14 Social Media

Great Business Blog Post Ideas are Much Closer than You Think!

Do you know how to “listen” online? Why would you do it?

Well, with your business, you give your customers what they want, right? And you know sometimes they have constructive critical feedback to give you.

If a number of customers give you the same opinion, then it’s clear you should make a change. So, you make the change, and what do you get?

Happier customers and a healthier bottom line!

How do you listen to your market to find ideas for blog posts?

Check out some easy tips:

Social Media
It doesn’t matter which network you talk about. Social media’s greatest value may not be the ability for small businesses to reach mass audiences. The biggest benefit may be your ability to directly listen to your market and get almost instantaneous market research.

Two decades ago, companies would quickly toss away millions of dollars on similar research!

You can even use your competitor’s social media profiles. Watch for questions people ask. Take a look at their top complaints and rave reviews. Ask them questions directly on your own social networks.

Everything you find will make for a great blog post idea.

Think of Your Most Common In-Person Questions
When you provide your product or service, customers always have some questions. You find yourself answering the same ones over and over.

Those are blog post ideas. The added benefits of answering such questions in the form of a blog post are that most likely other people on the web search for the same answers, and you can direct people to your blog for answers.

So, you can cut your customer service costs by giving a brief answer and pointing people to your blog for additional information.

That also builds the relationship, earning you more sales later on down the line.

These are actually very easy to do online – and you can even do them for free! This is another one of those tactics that took reasonably sized budgets before the internet.

It truly is amazing what marketing tools are available to you today!

There’s only about a million free online survey tools. SurveyMonkey is a popular one, and so are FreeOnlineSurveys.com and KwikSurveys.com.

For your surveys, just make sure you make them brief. Around 5-7 questions or so should do the job. Give your respondents at least one question where they can openly provide any feedback. The rest of the questions can be multiple choice about their satisfaction with your business.

Should you offer an incentive, like $50 off your service, to 3 random respondents? That’s a tough question.

Digital marketing leader Moz conducted a survey about their own business and battled with the idea of offering an incentive. On the one hand, it could cause respondents to be biased too positively, resulting in false data. On the other, it could increase the number of participants and give more reliable results.

Ultimately, Moz decided not to offer an incentive.

Competitor Blog Posts
Now, don’t just look at their blog and copy their posts. Look at their posts, and see which get the most social shares.

You should write about those posts because you know their audience loves them. Don’t spend your time at small blogs. Make sure the average post has 25-50 shares or so.

You should be able to find at least one competitor with that many social shares or more.

You’ll Never Run out of Ideas

Because Google forces every website to publish content, it’s so easy to find blog post ideas these days.

And the best part? None of these methods take too much additional work.

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8 Tips for Better Blog Posting
19/11/14 Social Media

8 Tips for Better Blog Posting

I find myself constantly trying to beat my clients over the head with these blogging tips, so decided to turn them into a post.

Industry people know this stuff, but it seems most website owners still do not. Every day I find these things are being overlooked when I review sites.

1) Make sure your blog posts are at least 400+ words. Low quality, shallow posts can pull down your site’s overall quality score with Google’s Panda. You can use an online tool like WordCounter.net to check or even compose them.

2) They should NOT be self promotional – don’t talk about yourself and/or your services in your blog posts. Think about how much you hate or do not desire to read or listen to other people’s pointless, self promotional filler.

3) Don’t post so frequently that it spams your followers social sites with constant updates from you. This may make them want to block you, unless your content is of very high quality, brings value to their readers, and creates engagement.

4) Make your articles educational or technical, something that helps the reader learn, improve or solve a problem of some kind. Make sure they have a specific objective and add “additional value” to what is already out there on the web. Here is a good Wikipedia explanation of Panda with a quote from Matt Cutts, head of Google’s spam team. And, be sure to link to your sources so you credit them.

5) Make sure your articles are posted to your website first and picked up by your RSS feed so Google knows you are the original author. If you don’t have an RSS feed, you need one. I use Google’s Feedburner.com, but there are many others. Then share them manually by posting a link to the article on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and so on, or share them via your own installed sharebar plugin as any other reader might. Here is an instructional video for creating an RSS feed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSTFcDi4CiU. You can also then display your feed (your latest blog posts) on your website like I do, using Google’s BuzzBoost. Instructions can be found in this article: http://vandelaydesign.com/display-your-feed-on-a-static-html-page-using-feedburners-buzzboost/

6) Make sure you are connected to people socially who would care to read your articles, and ideally share them with their own friends, family, clients, and audience, like others in your same or related industry. Without readers who will engage and share what you have written, it is basically pointless to even have social profiles.

7) Make sure your website and blog have sharing capability (a sharebar), so others can easily share your content directly to their own social sites of choice. Having linked icons to “your” social profiles is not the same thing. Someone should be able to G+1, Like, Tweet, and InShare direct from your website’s pages.

8) Make sure your blog post credits you as the author by linking to your own personal Google authorship link. This is not your company’s Google+ page, but yours. For example, this is my authorship page: https://plus.google.com/+ShelleyCates/ (not my company Google Plus page). I tell Google that I am the author of this post by using code like this in my signature link (which I will not use again since I already used it here: href=”https://plus.google.com/+ShelleyCates?rel=author

Great Video to Watch about What Google wants for website content …

Happy Blogging!

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17 Great WordPress Plugins
19/11/14 Social Media

17 Great WordPress Plugins

Many websites are run on WordPress, and most likely, yours is too.  You know how, with your smartphone, you get frustrated trying to do something and find out from someone else there’s an app that does what you want? Plugins work the same way for WordPress.  They’re very simple and add a tiny piece of functionality to your website.

The Golden Rule:  Use as Few Plugins as Possible

When you have a plugin that does what you want, life’s good. But before you go installing plugins, it’s important to know a few things first:

Plugins can stop your website from working.  You can get a number of different error messages that completely stop your website from loading.  This happens because many plugins are designed in non-standard ways by people who are not professional programmers.  Also, plugins can interact with each other in bizarre and unexpected ways.

You can use the same plugin on two different websites and have it break one website but not the other.  This could be because of its interaction with other plugins or the WordPress theme.

Most are free.  This is a good and bad thing.  On the one hand, you don’t have to pay for most plugins.  On the other, if you need technical support, it can be hard to find.

They’re not all straightforward to use.  Many are designed by people from foreign countries who speak English as a second language.  They design good plugins, but the language barrier sometimes causes difficulties.  Even though plugins are supposed to be easy to use, sometimes that’s not always the case.

With all that being said, it is okay to install plugins.  You just have to make sure you install ones that have a high number of good ratings from the WordPress community.  Paid ones can be better than their free counterparts, but you should still do your research on those too.

Instead of spending hours researching which plugins work best, check out this list.  I’ve done the research for you, and these plugins are safe for your website to have:

Backup.  Google wants websites with large amounts of content, so it’s essential you back it all up.  Backup Buddy and UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore work well.  You only need one of the two – choose your favorite.

Anti-spam.  Have you ever visited a website, read the comments, and then wondered why you read one that has nothing to do with the conversation?  Or maybe you see comments trying to sell products.

Those are spam comments.  The reason they’re done is to either sell something or get a link for SEO purposes.  You can start getting hundreds of these just weeks after launching your website.  WangGuard is a good one, and so is Antispam Bee.

You could also try Akismet, which is free for personal use, and $5 per month for business use.

Load your site faster with caching plugins.  Faster page load times get you better search rankings and more sales.  Simply put, caching stores your posts/pages as static files, rather than dynamically loading them every time someone visits your website.  These static files are then served to your visitors.  It’s faster to load your posts and pages this way.  W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache are the recognized leading cache plugins.

SEOWordPress SEO by Yoast is the best one far and away.  It helps optimize your content for a chosen keyword.  It also shows you what your page’s title and meta description look like in the search results.  And, it checks to see how easy your content is to read, and gives simple recommendations to make it easier to read.  Search engines and website visitors will love your website’s content.

Google XML Sitemaps makes it easy for search engine spiders to identify and access the complete structure of your website.  And every time you create a new post, it notifies all major search engines.

Website security.  Isn’t it amazing the Heartbleed exploit has existed for more than two years and no one noticed until very recently?  Crazy in this day and age.  Some WordPress hacks are so sneaky you don’t even discover them until your users or host tells you, or you get a notice from Google saying your site hosts malware.

You can never be too careful when considering your online security.  There’s a free and paid version of iThemes Security, which used to be known as Better WP Security.  The free version will do, and it’s fairly comprehensive.  WP Simple Firewall adds a few layers of protection when you login to prevent hackers from gaining access.  It also filters SPAM comments too.

Social Sharing.  Social Popup is a good one for adding social sharing icons to the side of your blog posts.  Jetpack is free, and does a ton of other things in addition to social sharing.  You’ll get some simple stats about your website, be able to allow users to subscribe to your posts and comments, and you can display links to related posts at the end of your posts.

Image Management.  Images take the longest to download.  To your users, this means pages load slower for them.  They’re more likely to leave your website if you allow your pages to load slowly.  WP Smush It reduces the size of your image files without reducing their quality.  So your visitors get two benefits:  high-quality images and faster page load times.

Other essentials.  Google Analytics for WordPress allows you to integrate Google Analytics with ease.  You still have to go to Google Analytics to view your data, though, unless you also install Google Analytics Dashboard for WP.  Another really cool one is WordPress Heatmaps.  This actually shows you where on your website people actually click.

WordPress has more than 30,000 plugins available, and this is a brief list of 17 helpful ones.  Choose your favorite, and enjoy a better-functioning website!

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