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5 SEO Tips Your Small Business Can Start Applying Today

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Small business owners are often left scratching their heads when it comes to search engine optimization. Fortunately, this ‘SEO thing’ is not all about technicalities. It’s more about making it easy for people to find, recognize and trust you. By doing these things, you will automatically help the search engines find you and give you a better placement on the SERPs. How? Well, this is what this article is about!

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Optimize Your Website Itself

The first point I want to talk about is the website domain name. As far as you can, try to be at least somewhat descriptive, especially in terms of location. For example, if your business’s name is “Pedro Pizza” and you operate in NYC, a nice domain name would be PedroPizzaNYC.com. To help you get started in the online world, make sure to use keywords that are associated with your services and products. This includes your page titles and in-page content itself.

It’s also a good idea to have your business information (name, address, phone number, map, etc.) across all your pages (rather than only on your contact page). The way to do this is to put it in your footer, sidebar, or even header if your web design can accommodate it.

Customer Reviews Drive Business

Whether you sell a product or service, try to gather reviews whenever you can. How? Simply by asking. For example, you can send them an email a couple of days after delivery just to ask them to leave a review if they like the product. Each positive review adds credibility to a small business.

A small business with hundreds of positive reviews is very likely to rank higher than one with less or none. Oh and if you got bad online reviews, make sure to maintain a professional front at all times and to be polite and helpful, and to try to fix the customers’ issues. 2 things might happen then: 1) They turn into happy customers and change their review to something positive. 2) They disappear, but hundreds of people see that you’ve done your best to make the customer happy. Either way, it’s a plus point for your business!

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9 Triggers to Spark Ideas for Great Content

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Content marketing is helping businesses generate website traffic, online visibility and ultimately, sales leads. And as we proceed through 2014, good content will continue to be a key part of effective online marketing. As a business, we all know that running a blog is perhaps the central pivot around which content marketing revolves. The challenge is to know what to write about everyday but that’s how frequently you should generate content.

content-ideas

Do you often wonder, “What do I blog about today?”  Do you often have trouble coming up with fresh and interesting ideas for what would make great content for your audience?

We’ve got your back! Today we’ll talk about 9 amazing triggers to spark ideas and inspiration for valuable content.

1. Use Google’s Keyword Suggestions Tool

When you type in a search phrase in Google’s search box, a list of suggested keywords and phrases is produced (at the bottom of the results page). The search suggestions can sometimes provide you with valuable insights as to what people in your marketplace are searching for, and more importantly, what words they are using to search for what they need.

Useful tip:

In the Google search box, try using words like ‘tutorial’ or ‘how to’ in front of your usual set of keywords. This will help you figure out what your audience might need help with and you can then use this information to provide real value and expert information to your readers.

2. Go to Soovle.com

Soovle is another search engine that utilizes keywords to return results to its users. The difference is: In contrast to Google and some of the other search engines out there, Soovle filters results and gives keyword suggestions acquired from these 7 sources: Google, Yahoo, Bing, Answers, Wikipedia, Amazon and Youtube.

3. Try Quora

Websites such as Answers.com, Yahoo Answers and Quora provide a platform for netizens to ask for and receive specific information. Let’s take Quora for example. Take one look at Quora, and you’ll immediately see the potential there when it comes to finding something to write about for your blog. Quora is a platform with a HUGE collection of queries on all topics imaginable. Check out questions related to your industry and answer them in the form of a post on your blog.

4. Don’t Forget about the Social Media Networks

Mingle with your audience on the different social networks.  And not only because social signals are now important ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm but also because this is perhaps one of the best ways for you to learn more about your customers and potential customers and what it is they are looking for in a product or service in your marketplace. Engage in healthy conversation and ask them about what they would like to know about your industry. From the information you get, you can derive new and great ideas for content from the questions and opinions of your fans and followers on the social networks.

5. Check Out Other Blogs in Your Niche

It’s all about keeping an eye on what your contemporaries and competitors are doing! You see, reading blogs that are related to your industry is an absolute must if you run a business blog. Many bloggers write about trending topics. Every now and then, you could find inspiration for a blog post in what others choose to write about.

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Integrating WordPress With Your Website | A Tutorial

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WordPress! It’s the name of the web software that joins over 60 million people on the web into a family. With more plugins and themes available to WordPress users than you can possibly know what to do with, WordPress is a tool in your hands that is both free and priceless at the same time. With WordPress, you can transform your website into almost anything you can imagine and power the place on the web you call “home”.

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So say hello to creating beautiful websites and blogs with WordPress and forget about everything else.

About WordPress

WordPress, as we established, is one powerful web software. It is usually used to create beautiful websites and blogs but if you already have a website, you can also integrate WordPress with your current website. Maybe you only want a couple of features that WordPress provides, or maybe you want to power your entire site using WordPress. So how do you give your WordPress blog a similar look to your site? How do you make an entire site run on WordPress? These are some of the things we’ll discuss in this short tutorial so buckle up because things are about to get technical.

First Things First

So you have a website already at http://mywebsite.com and you want to add a WordPress blog to it. To start with, create a sub-directory at your site and name it ‘blog’ or anything else you want. The important thing here is that you have to create this folder. With that done, you will now have an empty sub-directory at http://mywebsite.com/blog/.

The next step is to download the latest version of WordPress at WordPress.org, upload the extracted files to the sub-directory you just created, and install WordPress.You can read more on how to install WordPress here.

Tweaking Regular PHP Pages

The next step is to add a small modification to regular PHP pages so that they can run on WordPress. To that end, add the following code at the begining of every page. Note that information shared here will not work on a MultiSite Network.

<?php

/* Turn me to WP! */

define(‘WP_USE_THEMES’, false);

require(‘./wp-blog-header.php’);

?>

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The Relationship Between Your Domain Name, Social Media & SEO

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Choosing a domain name in 2014 can be a real hassle. It feels like all of them are already taken! But yeah, it’s a necessary evil if you want your business to evolve along with the rest of the world. What’s worse than going through the ‘almost-hell’ to register a domain name, is to go through all the trouble to register a domain name that underachieves in the search engines and on the social networks. So to save you from this, we’ve described the general good practices of registering a new domain name.

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EMDs & Keyword-rich Domain Names

EMD stands for exact-match domain. So basically, if you are targeting the keyword ‘buy airsoft gun’, the EMD would be buyairsoftgun.com

This was a few years ago a heavy ranking factor. After all, if it’s in the domain name, it has to be highly relevant, right? But then people would buy an EMD, set up a 1-page affiliate website, and rank on page 1 (and often #1 position). A lot of low-quality websites (or should I say, web pages) started popping up. It was heaven for spammers. And this is exactly why search engines had to do something about it.

A lot of websites lost their EMD rankings after the SE updates.

If you are planning to create a useful, valuable website, then an EMD might not be such a bad idea. However, it doesn’t really provide any real SEO benefit in 2014.

What it can do, though, is improve your CTR on ads for example. If you are selling airsoft guns, an ad showing the domain “buyairsoftguns.com” is likely to perform better than the domain “coolstuff.com”. It might also increase your CTR in the SERPs, but again, you have to get there on your own first (the EMD won’t help much with that).

The New Shiny Thing That’s Here to Stay: Brand Domain Names!

Brand names. It’s the new thing. It’s here to stay. Brands are now ranking without having to do any real SEO. Coca-Cola, SONY, Apple, Bellroy, McDonald’s, BBC. They rank high.

Why? Brands are accountable. They are driven to perform, to provide value. They are associated with trust.

People talk about them on their blogs, forums, social networks. It’s really SEO as it’s meant to be.

In our opinion, the way to go is to pick (and stick with) a brandable domain. Build your offline and online presence with it. It has to be a name whereby people can identify you, talk about you, write reviews about you, recommend you, like you (on your FB page), etc.

Basically, make it possible for people to do your SEO and social media marketing for you.

6 Guidelines to Picking Your Brandable Domain

1. .com

Let’s face it, the brands all go after .coms, and with good reasons. Google.com. Twitter.com. FourSquare.com. Adidas.com. And those who didn’t initially, eventually switched to it. Box.net switched to Box.com. Del.icio.us switched to Delicious.com.

We are all for being unique and stuff, but this is one of those times when you need to go with the norm.

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5 Tips to Power up Your Content Marketing

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In 2014, we can see a fusion of what would have been considered a few years ago to be separate techniques. For example: social and search engine marketing. They are converging to become one. Another strategy that’s tending to fuse with that mix is content marketing.

Content-Marketing-strategy

If you want to thrive (or even just barely stay!) in business in the coming months and years, we strongly recommend you to get started with content marketing if you haven’t already.

In this article, we will be sharing 5 components that can make content marketing an investment or a waste (if they are missing!).

Know Your Audience

Even if you cater to a broad range of customers, you need to know who you want to target when writing any and every piece of content.

Nike for example has several Twitter accounts targeting different segments of its audience (nikebasketball, nikefootball, nikerunning, nikegolf, niketennis, etc.) This allows the brand to publish highly targeted pieces of content.

Get to know your audience. Find out what they are interested in, the language they use, etc. (this is where niche forums help!). With this information, you’ll be able to create content that resonates with your readers. Skip this, and you are risking writing or paying for content that is only going to get a couple of views, when it could be getting hundreds or thousands with a little research.

Ask Them to Participate!

A fancy term to describe that would be “User-Generated Content”. Encourage that. Tell them to ask questions. Ask them questions and for their feedback. Make a survey. Do contests. Provide an easy-to-see link on your page where they can contact you to make a guest post.

A lot of sites run almost exclusively on user-generated content. You don’t have to be one of them, but making it simple for your audience to contribute to your content can’t hurt, can it?

Focus on Quality

Quality is one of those things that just keeps gaining more and more importance with time. Search engines and social networks spend millions of dollars on building algorithms that specifically find quality content.

If you intend to be in business long-term, your investment in quality content now will pay off for a long, long time to come, starting today.

Invest (time or money or both) in writing awesome blog posts, remarkable articles, kick-ass e-books and doing extraordinary webinars.

Quality encourages shares, signups, and purchases (We rarely buy when we are not impressed. What about you?)

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Link Building Using Social Media | A Quick Guide

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Over the last couple of years, with the relentless Google search algorithm changes, digital marketers have had to change the way they carry out their link building campaigns. Google now distinguishes between high quality links and links from irrelevant sources that just point to a website without adding any real value. Today, there is a distinction between websites with authority and spam websites that use thousands of backlinks to find their way to the top of the SERPs.

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So What Does that Mean for Online Business Owners? Is Link Building Dead?

To answer the question, link building is still very much a valued search engine optimization technique. What changed is the way digital marketers have to do it. Basically, the search engines and in particular Google wants to know that you are providing real value information for its users.

The SEO game has changed and social media is now a big part of successful link building campaigns.

Link Building using Social Media

1. Choosing the Right Social Media Platform

Right now, there is a whole spectrum of social networks that people and businesses use to connect with each other. There are the more popular sites that everyone knows about including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. Then there are others that are less popular but still carry a lot of weight for link building.

Below are some of the social sites that businesses are using today for marketing and to implement their link building campaigns.

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Depending on your business model, some social sites might be more appropriate for you to join than others. For eg – A website that focuses solely on fashion and lifestyle, having presence on  Facebook,  Pinterest, Flickr and Instagram will work wonders than having an account on G+ or LinkedIn.

2.  Identifying your Audience

Before getting on the social sites and tweeting away or posting pictures and content, you need to know whom you are creating the content for. You need to know who your target audience is.

To identify your target audience, you can use either industry data or equally possible, social tools to get an idea of what people are talking about on the social sites. This information can aim you in the right direction when you are setting up your profile and sharing content.

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New Site? Here Is How You Can Get Noticed

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Gone are the days when you could just run link pyramids combined with a few Scrapebox blasts to get a site ranking high up in a matter of weeks. Ever since the Panda update, things have been very difficult for those who used to rely on ‘grey’ methods to rank in Google search.

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Nowadays, in addition to link building you need to build genuine connections with others in your niche and get talked about in social circles. Thankfully, there are some easy legit ways, using which you can get a new website ranking and gain a loyal following over the course of time.

Good Content

The number 1 reason why someone comes to your website is for the content. So it’s crucial that you decide on the kind of content your site will be comprised of. Do you plan to be a simple aggregator for others’ flagship content? Or maybe it’s your aim to be an (original) authority site in your niche?

Once you have decided upon your approach it’s time to make a posting schedule. Your website won’t get on page 1 of Google in a week. This is a long-term process and there’s no reason why your content-posting schedule shouldn’t be one too. You don’t want to choke readers with too much content but at the same time you don’t want to go for days without new posts being updated. Apart from building a loyal readership, regular content posting also lets Google see your site as a continuous source of unique content. This most certainly helps in getting your site ranking high in the SERPS.

No matter what kind of content posting frequency you want to adopt, it’s important to constantly brainstorm for ideas. Here’s a little secret: top bloggers don’t wake up every morning and spend hours thinking about ‘what to write today’. Most professional writers have an idea bank in place, which they normally spread around their schedule. A good idea is to have an excel sheet where you and any of your co-writers can jolt down all your ideas.

The timing of posting content is very important too. Take Bleacher report for example, chance are you’ve already heard of it but if you haven’t it’s a vast network of sports blogs that are popular with fans of all kinds. A successful Bleacher report blog will always make new posts around the day of a game. Similarly, an Apple fan blog will increase the frequency of their posting once the WWDC comes around. Timing is very important.

Be Social

It’s a no brainer in today’s world that having a social presence is imperative. However most people do it the wrong way. They start social accounts and set them to auto post, mostly via an automated plugin.

Instead of doing this, try using your website’s social profiles, like you would your personal ones. Use them to strike conversations with others, post other interesting content you find on the Internet and to promote other writers whose stuff you find interesting. Starting with zero followers & likes can be difficult but don’t forget that even the biggest of accounts started from scratch.

Value-add Bookmarking

When we talk about social bookmarking we are not referring to running automated software and bookmarking every new blog post to 100’s of sites. That doesn’t serve any purpose anymore.

The post-Panda social bookmarking serves two purposes. First, it brings a decent amount of traffic, which in the initial stages of a new website is a welcome sight and secondly, bookmarking gets your site in front of a new audience and goes a long way in establishing your site’s brand value.

However there are 2 things you need for this to work. First is good content. If your content isn’t interesting, no one is going to share it. Second- use your bookmarking account for what it was intended for- for bookmarking interesting things on the Internet. Don’t just restrict it to promoting only your own website. Other users can see this and once they realize that you’re just interested in marketing your own site, they will quickly move on. No one likes to be manipulated, especially on the Internet.

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