Questions? Feedback? powered by Olark live chat software

How to Get Past Cold Calling

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Andrea Hewitt – Enjoy! 

Cold calling is proven to lead to high levels of anxiety for at least 40 percent of sales people during their careers. That’s why every company should strive to get to the point where they can stop relying completely on cold calling and finally see hot leads coming down the pipeline.

Unless you become a giant corporation, which is not the case for most companies, you’ll still be tracking down new clients through cold calls. It’s the perfect way to touch base with many potential customers that wouldn’t find you otherwise.

But how do you transition to less cold calling and more customers coming to you? Start with these four steps and you’re sure to see more hot leads coming your way:

1. Provide a great product or service

The easiest way to draw people to your brand is to have an incredible product or service to offer them. Find a need in whatever market you want to break into, and make something great to fill the void. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Find something that needs to be updated and create a better version. If your product is good, people will talk about it and you’ll start to see positive feedback that could attract potential customers.

2. Network every chance you get

If you focus on a specific industry, get to trade shows and use the opportunity to spread the word about your products. If you’re trying to sell to a specific region, go to local festivals, gatherings, and any opportunity for you to mingle with community members and leaders. Hand out as many business cards as you can, then let the customers come to you. Utilize every opportunity to hit the pavement and you’ll be sure to build awareness of your brand.

3. Create an awesome web presence

One of the main ways you can drive leads to you is to have an incredible web presence. If it’s been a couple years since you built your site, create a more modern design. Think of your website like a book—people are judging it by the cover. You also need to make yourself search engine optimized (SEO). For example, if you own an ice cream shop in Duluth, Minnesota, when people search Google for “ice cream in Duluth,” you want to be the first result. Start increasing your SEO by conducting a site audit. This step will point out problem areas that you can work to fix so your site starts performing higher in the rankings.

4. Cultivate a good reputation

Build relationships with the movers and shakers in your industry. If there are publications that many of your potential customers read, contact them with well-written press releases about new products and updates. Or ask if you can write something for them to get your name out there, educate your audience and demonstrate your authority. If there are professional organizations or chambers of commerce that are trusted in your area, get in touch with head honchos and convince them your company deserves public attention. Getting those people on your side and talking about you will lead to more inquiries.

You’ll also create a stellar reputation by having solid customer service. If you consistently go above and beyond for your current customers, they’ll do word-of-mouth marketing for you by bragging to their friends and colleagues.

Once you’ve tackled these first four steps, you’ll be on your way to finding the balance you desire between cold calls and hot leads. This won’t happen overnight but if you take your time and take pride in your exceptional product or service, you’re destined to get where you want your business to go.

Andrea Hewitt Andrea Hewitt is a content writer at StorageAhead, a web marketing company. She spends most of her time writing blogs that help others grow their businesses. She loves tackling a variety of topics and if she’s unfamiliar with one, she’ll do hours and hours of research until she feels like she has enough authority to write about it.

 

Why You Don’t Need to Go Viral to Make Video Marketing Work

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Amy Harrison – Enjoy!

Clapperboard

photo credit: ARMLE via photopin cc

A viral video is the dream of many marketers and business owners. One smash hit can transform a business’s reach overnight. And it’s not just big brands like Blendtec and Old Spice dominating the video market. Newer companies such as Dollar Shave have exploded onto the scene largely due to their viral video presence.

The myth of viral for small business

While it can be a game-changer to be suddenly watched by the world, most small businesses don’t need this level of exposure to see results. If you could grow your audience by a few hundred, or a few thousand engaged prospects, would that make a difference to your inquiries, leads and sales?

The pressure to go viral can have a negative effect if you think:

  • You need a perfect video with high-end production to stand out
  • You need to create something wacky or crazy to get attention
  • If your video doesn’t go viral, you should can it and forget it

If you think video isn’t worth it unless you’re a YouTube star, you could be missing out.

Smaller audience, bigger rewards

Last year, I started a light-hearted sketch show called Content Marketing…Stripped!  I’ve created just 18 short videos

None of them have ever gone viral.

Most get around 100-300 views, but site traffic is growing, subscribers are up 75% and I’m seeing increased social media engagement.

Most importantly, they help attract clients. I’m closing sales faster because leads are more qualified. After watching, prospects say they feel they know me, would enjoy working with me and contact me based on that. I’ve never woken up to a phone call from The Tonight Show, or asked to comment for the New York Times, but this consistent creation of short videos has improved my marketing results.

Where to start? How to get results from a non-viral video

internet face (1)

A still shot from Content Marketing… Stripped!

Even a simple video of you talking to camera can build rapport and engagement with prospects. So why not break out your camera, and start planning your first simple marketing video using these steps?

1.     Focus on your customer’s problem first

Solving a customer’s problem is a great idea for your videos. Think about common “how do I…” questions your customer has that you can solve. For example: “How do I create a customer profile for my marketing?

2.      Ask yourself: what is the impact on my customer if this problem is left unsolved?

In the above case, without a clear customer profile, you don’t know what marketing will work, and you can’t attract your ideal target market to your business.

3.    Don’t just state the impact, illustrate it

Rather than simply tell your customer that it’s important to solve this problem, see if you can give them examples and illustrations to prove it, for example:

  • Wasting time and money on marketing that doesn’t make the phone ring
  • Attracting the wrong clients and losing time on sales calls you’ll never close
  • Getting the wrong referrals because people don’t know who you serve

Video lets you be creative in how you present this information, you could think up a quick sketch, or unleash your whiteboard skills. Even if you’re just describing your examples, it’s better than simply telling your viewer that it’s important to solve their problem.

4.    Provide tips to solve it

Once you’ve illustrated the impact of the problem, provide useful tips viewers can use straight away.

5.    Remind viewers that you have products or services that can also help

In addition to free tips, don’t forget to let them know you can solve their problem directly with links to your contact, services or product page.

Start small and dip your toes in

If the goal of going viral has been putting you off, give video a try, there might be some low hanging fruit that you didn’t realize was ready and waiting for you.

Harrisonamy 150x150 (1)Amy Harrison trains companies to write better content, faster. She provides live content workshops for clients in Europe, and online training sessions for the wider world. You can find her Content Marketing…Stripped videos here and she was a featured speaker at the 2014 SXSW Interactive conference.

Why The New LinkedIn Publishing Option is Worth Your Time

LinkedIn recently starting rolling out a new content program that allows LinkedIn profile holders to add long form blog posts. The program piggybacks a bit on the Influencer program launched in 2013 that features long form content from folks like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Maria Shriver and Mark Cuban.

LinkedIn has been on a bit of a content tear over the last few years snapping up tools like Slideshare and Pulse as well as creating programs like the Influencer program and building topic based communities inside of Pulse in an effort to battle networks like Facebook for more and more of your online time.

In announcing the latest publishing program LinkedIn had this to say:

“Starting today, LinkedIn is opening up our publishing platform to our members, giving them a powerful new way to build their professional brand. When a member publishes a post on LinkedIn, their original content becomes part of their professional profile, is shared with their trusted network and has the ability to reach the largest group of professionals ever assembled. Now members have the ability to follow other members that are not in their network and build their own group of followers. Members can continue to share their expertise by posting photos, images, videos and their original presentations on SlideShare”

The opening process is a rolling one and is said to only include about 25,000 profiles initially. If you are one of the chosen ones you should have received an email from LinkedIn alerting you, but you’ll also notice a little pencil icon in you status update box as in the image below.

FirefoxScreenSnapz092

I’ve been testing the program and believe it has some real upside for many business owners and marketers.

Engagement is high

I’ve added four posts currently and all appear to be getting a nice amount of pageviews and engagement. The thing I noticed right off the bat and truly appreciate is the engagement is coming from people I don’t currently interact with so my content is gaining exposure into some new places.

LinkedIn automatically showcases the content as recommended reading for relevant profiles.

FirefoxScreenSnapz093

Search results are immediate

All of the posts are showing up in Google searches for pretty specific content within hours of publishing. LinkedIn content has always been highly regarded by Google and this platform might offer content producers who don’t currently rank highly another vehicle.

And, while links you might embed in your posts are most likely the “no follow” type, with page views numbering in the thousands for most of my posts, I’ve got to believe those links are getting some clicks.

FirefoxScreenSnapz094

It’s about authority

Published content that collects social signals and shares does wonders for an author’s authority and for many the LinkedIn publishing platform might be one of the best places to get exposure, build engagement, pick up +1s and send Google an authority message.

I’ve decided to amplify the content outside of LinkedIn to see how much initial attention I can drive to it and I’ve also placed a link to my Google+ profile in the short bio at the end of each piece to help Google add this to my author profile.

I recommend that you take a look at this publishing avenue as another potentially potent place to distribute your message and spread your expertise.

What’s Best for Your Marketing Right Now?

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Chris Kilbourn – Enjoy!

New Year New Plan

Photo credit: Tatiana Popova/Shutterstock

It’s the best and worst time to be a marketer.

It’s the best, because marketers are empowered with infinite resources — data, robust tools, and high-yield customer acquisition channels.

But it’s also the worst, because the marketing landscape is more cutthroat than ever — never before has the competition for audience attention been so fierce.

In 2011, AOL and Nielsen estimated that 27M pieces of content were being shared each day.

Imagine what that number looks like today.

Virtually every marketing team has committed to investing more in content production, social media marketing, and inbound marketing this year. That’s because leaders finally have the tools that they need to prove the ROI of their spends.

As media budgets increase, however, there will be much more pressure on marketers to stand out. We’re all after the same audience eyeballs — and these consumers are tired of seeing the same messages over and over and over.

2014 is the year that you need to stand out — and you’re going to need to put up a strong fight.  Forge your own path. Outsmart the crowd. Test creative and innovative ideas.

It’s time to reinvent the wheel. Here are some ideas to get started:

1. Create World-Class Content

Content

Photo Credit: Stokkete/Shutterstock

Everyone is blogging.

Let me repeat that: everyone is blogging. If you’re just launching your content marketing plan, you’re still behind the crowd.

But this position actually works to your competitive advantage.

A fully fleshed out content engine is expensive to maintain. The investment yields significant rewards, but think about it — when you’re already big, it’s impossible to reinvent your strategy.  If you’re just starting out, you have infinite potential to try something new.

Have an idea? Run with it.

Neil Patel exemplifies this concept. He’s gone where no marketer has gone before and routinely spends $20K-$30K to create in-depth guides like The Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing. These are 30,000+ words and over 200 pages in length.

Beginners guide

His goal wasn’t to copy anyone else but to set the bar high and truly be exceptional.

If you have an amazing idea and are able to quantify an ROI, do it. You can always start with a test, measure response, shift angles, and scale. With so much momentum in the content space, now is the best time to do it.

2. Build Relationships with 800-Pound Gorillas

500 lb gorilla

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The beauty of online marketing is that it’s collaborative. Our industry is one where peer support is high. We want to partner up and help fellow companies succeed. We are constantly looking to exchange value and help one another grow.

When you’re just starting out as a marketer (or are finding your stride), it will help to align your company and team with now-big companies that have been exactly where you are now.

800-pound gorillas have the advantage of an audience, customer base, and reputable product. As a small company, there are plenty of ways that you can help that 800-pound gorilla, while also growing your own company. Offer to provide content to blogs like HubSpot’s – they get your awesome content, and you get exposure for your company. You can also look to form strategic partnerships through software integrations. Take a look at the Unbounce partner marketplace for inspiration.

Unbounce

Even as a small business, you can add value to an 800-pound gorilla. Give more than you expect to get, and you’ll see value in return.

3.  Find New Communities

kites

Photo Credit: jannoon028/Shutterstock

In terms of community-building, social media platforms are only the first step. Find communities where your customers are hanging out. Join conversations with fellow marketers on websites like Inbound.org and GrowthHackers.com.

GrowthHackers

In addition to finding opportunities to promote your company, look for new skills to learn (and people to learn from). Listen more than you speak, add great questions, and add value. Care about your community, and you’ll be surprised whose attention you’ll get.

Your Thoughts

You pick #4. What are your marketing goals for 2014? What were some of the most valuable lessons you learned last year? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We’re excited to learn from you and keep the conversation going.

Chris KilbournChris Kilbourn is the VP of Strategy at Fit Marketing. In past lives, he was a professional rockstar (seriously), and he built and sold two successful companies from the ground up. You can request a consultation with Chris and his team at Fit Marketing here.

 

Using Visual Media to Boost Your Marketing

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Clayton Wood – Enjoy!

Mark Anderson cartoonVisual media is emerging as a very important and powerful tool in online marketing. A survey released recently shows the presence of images as one of the deciding factors for clicking on search results. According to the survey done by Search Engine Land and SurveyMonkey, it is the fourth most important deciding factor, coming in after brand name, promos and discounts offered, and free delivery. This, along with the growing popularity of image and video-sharing social networks among users, presents a ripe opportunity for marketing in a way that entices multiple senses of your target audience.

Integrating Visual Media into SEO

A content-centric SEO strategy will naturally include visual media in the mix of content types to publish and share. Integrate photos, videos, infographics, and other types of visual media into your current content plan. Start with the following:

  • Don’t publish text-only blogs – as much as possible, include at least one image about your chosen topic.
  • Pay attention to the visual media you use on your website. The colors, the fonts, the images, and the videos all trigger reactions from your visitors. Combining knowledge of the psychology of colors and design and an understanding of your market’s interests will help you design a website that appeals to your market.
  • Brainstorm regularly to determine what images work for your brand and what trends you can turn into visual media. Creating a calendar for Hangout sessions, webinars, new video tutorials, infographics and other downloadable images organizes your visual marketing efforts.

Use visual media for your online content wherever appropriate, and brainstorm what types of media will work for your campaign.

Choosing a Visual Media Platform

With so many visual media platforms to choose from, how do you know which ones to use in your campaign? The answer will vary depending on your needs.

Pinterest is quickly becoming a popular and powerful visual media platform for many brands because of its improving features. It allows you to share different types of media, provides easy social media integration (by way of Facebook and Twitter), and allows for easy integration in websites (through the “Pin It” buttons, which are equally easy to install on your website pages). Its other features, like turning on location for pins, testing Promoted Pins, and creating an API that allows you to show your most popular pins, are all geared towards online marketing. If you’re not yet on Pinterest, or if you have a profile but you don’t use it often, it’s time to revisit your visual marketing strategy and include Pinterest.

Other platforms are beginning to show similar functionalities geared towards marketing. Many video microblogging platforms like Vine and Viddy also feature social media sharing functionalities that make it easier to integrate videos from their platform to your social networking profiles. The important things to consider when choosing what visual media platforms to use and determining how you will use them are:

  • Your target audience – How big a presence do they have in your chosen platform(s)?
  • Ease of Access – Check how user-friendly the platform is
  • SEO-friendly platform – How do these videos appear on the SERPs? It may not seem like a big deal now, but video is predicted to become the main medium for online marketing in 2014, and its appearance on the SERPs will become more important as video grows in popularity
  • Integration – How does the platform let you integrate its features with other social media sites?

Transitioning from Old to New Media

One of the biggest challenges in online marketing is to transition traditional media to digital formats. More traditional audiences still respond to the older media forms, while those who embrace new media get a sense of nostalgia from print and old school graphics. Transitioning from old to new media can happen in different ways:

  • Old school graphics and fonts are already available in digital formats. You can easily download these to your computer and use it when designing your content.
  • When designing your visual content, whether it is for your website, videos, ads, infographics, or other featured content, try using elements that are familiar with your audience. (Check out the image of the ad SEO Reseller used before for an example)
  • One of the easiest ways to transition old to new media is to take a high-res photo of old media and post this as your update. Something as simple as a note scribbled on a note pad gives off that old school feel some of your audiences respond to more eagerly.

SeoresellerFor one of our old re-targeting ads, we decided to use a design that contains elements of the flags of our three largest markets: the US, the UK, and Australia.

Encouraging Audience Participation

The great thing about the platforms that support visual media is that they also support user interaction. This allows you to include your audience in the content production process, increasing your engagement by encouraging audience participation in activities and programs you prepare for them online.

Get your audience to share their original visual content through different promotions. Facebook is a good example of a platform that makes it easier for you to include your audience in different visual content marketing activities. It wasn’t too long ago that they made the creation of contests, especially photo contests, easier for brands, and made joining easier for individual Facebook users. Their latest move to make visual content marketing easier is testing a new way of displaying video ads that encourages more user interaction. Combining these features with your social media strategy encourages more engagement and interaction from your audience.

Conclusion

The trick to using visual media for marketing is very clear in the points discussed earlier – it’s less about you and more about your audience. Finding your audience, knowing what they want to see (whether it’s a short video, an image-on-demand, or an infographic about your topic of expertise), and communicating with them using visual media is the core process to delivering more targeted and powerful visual content. Use this with your online marketing strategy and you’ll see more positive responses from your audience in no time.

ClaytonClayton Wood is passionate about communicating the impact that technology has in online marketing, and how inbound marketing helps small and large businesses achieve their goals for themselves, their families and their communities. Working with SEOReseller.com, he helps bring brand equity to many seo agencies.

Why Video Marketing is Underrated (and How to Use it to Your Advantage)

Today is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is David Preston – Enjoy!

84334_91448_2_DP_video_marketing_image

photo credit: Andrew* via photopin cc

Words tell the story. Images illustrate it.

But video brings it to life.

Video, an online marketing platform that has seen a sharp rise in use and effectiveness, is an often overlooked means for driving relevant traffic to your site – and generating interest in your campaign. An effective video initiative can also bolster your other marketing strategies.

Galactic Café, developer of the recent narrative-driven game The Stanley Parable, got it right.

Galactic Café sent customized preview builds of The Stanley Parable to well-known YouTube users who participate in Let’s Play videos. These users have a tremendous following that tune in for their first impressions of new games.

The developers engaged these YouTube users directly through dialogue in the game. The result: Plenty of organic, viral interaction about the videos that boosted traffic for these YouTube users’ Let’s Play video as well as sales for Galactic Café.

A recent B2B Benchmark Survey revealed more than 90% of marketing respondents used video on a site, second only to the learn more/contact us option (nearly 100%). Video topped white papers and case studies (84%) and even live demos with company representatives (just less than 80%).

We’ll discuss ways to blend video marketing into your online presence, and how easy it is to measure engagement and see results from it. With the proliferation of mobile devices as our primary means of Internet access, and bandwidth and speeds increasing with fiber-optic Internet, it’s prime time for video.

1.  Crunch the numbers

Video content is easily subject to behavior analytics. Because video content is also tagged with keywords and ranks in Google search, you can use a video-hosting site such as YouTube to track interaction. Online retailers such as Amazon and Dell report an increase of as much as 35% when video is incorporated.

Video product reviews on Amazon nearly always appear at the top of Google’s rankings. 

Takeaway: Video content is also easy to share via social networks, and software developers have prioritized video integration in site creation.

2.  Reach customers on a deeper level

Our draw to video is subliminal, too. The concept of fusiform facial area suggests the brain processes categorical data about a person by facial recognition. Basically, the idea is that a person’s face is a factor in how they understand and process the message that person delivers verbally.

The right face on your video campaign can foster trust. A voice also translates your message in an essential way.

Takeaway: A face, a voice, and most of all, emotion, convey what language alone cannot.

3.  Grab attention

Words and images are static. Page viewers are increasingly scan readers. It takes notable effort to read a 300-word blog post, especially compared to a simple click of a video play button. When visitors hit that button, it gives you the chance to actually talk to your prospect. It’s your window to their home. 

Takeaway: Video is an extension of the personal connection we wrote about above, but with a familiarity of having “met” you through your video.

4.  Let your followers sing your praises

Happy customers are gold. You can harvest recorded testimonials at a tradeshow, and it’s best to get as many as you can – aim for at least three, maybe as many as 12. You can also hire a video crew to hold a one-day shoot. Know what key messages you’re looking for when you edit.

Takeaway: The Q&A approach will put your testimonial subject at ease, and will allow you to direct the conversation toward those key messages you identified.

5.  Go forth and conquer

A marketing video on your site is just the beginning. Start a YouTube channel. Incorporate video on landing pages. Post them to social media and your blog page. They’re easily shared through these channels, and the more a video is shared on quality sites, the better your Google page rank.

Takeaway: You’ll reach exponentially more potential clients with a well-made, well-placed video than with nearly any other means of marketing.

91861_92141_1_David Preston headshot_croppedDavid Preston is a husband, a father of 2, and a freelance writer for a variety of sports, entertainment, and marketing sites. You can reach David via his email.

The Future of Small Business SEO (Hint: It’s About Content)

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Phil Singleton – Enjoy!

2013 was an exciting year for small business Internet marketing.  Search engine optimization transformed from a game of link popularity into what it was supposed to be from the beginning: high quality, relevant content from trusted sources.  Make no mistake; quality links pointing to your website are still really important.  It’s just that content marketing and social network participation are (collectively) more important.

volume-backliningAddressing The Content Gap

There is a great line from a Duct Tape Marketing Blog post from last year: “Content is King…Really, we mean it this time.”  As a boutique web design company that creates SEO-friendly web designs, we can report to you with absolute certainty that high quality content is king.  How do we know? We are on the front line of small biz SEO – we have dozens of SEO clients and have seen first-hand how client companies with both active blogs and social media networks handily outperformed their competitors in 2013.  If you are a small business owner and somehow still have high organic search engine rank without a content strategy, let me be the first to tell you that at some point in the near future you will be kissing your organic rank goodbye.

Here are five reasons why small business SEO strategy should focus on content marketing versus volume backlink accumulation:

1. The Fall of Boiler Room Link Building – Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Low cost, high volume offshore link building is not only dead, it’s super risky.  Google dropped the granddaddy of all backlink penalties on October 4th 2013 (Penguin 2.1 aka Penguin 5) – and guess what – more Penguin updates are coming.  If you are using an offshore link building strategy, you may soon find your website flagged with a Manual Action or an Unnatural Link Warning message in your Webmaster Tools account.  Don’t know what a WT account is?  Start Googling and get your account setup today – it’s the best way to check the search engine health of your website or to see if you’ve been hit with any penalties – and probably the best way to keep tabs on your SEO company.

2. Death, Taxes & Google 

Remember Ben Franklin’s famous quote? In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. On the Internet, pretty much everything you put out there is a part of permanent digital record.  This is especially true of your website’s backlink profile.   Even though your site may not yet have been slapped by Mother Google, your website still may be at risk.  Further, today’s white-hat SEO methods may become tomorrow’s prohibited activities – and Google always catches up with short-cut link building techniques.  By focusing on quality content and by creating your own content distribution channel, you can start naturally attracting quality links instead of artificially creating risky links.

3. Social Networking

We’ve been in and around web design and SEO for over ten years.  If you can believe it, we didn’t have a blog or any type of social media account until last year.  Why so late to the party? Because until last year, we could dominate our own online niches with a static website and passive SEO strategies.  Social media is now a critical component of SEO.  Just creating great content is not enough. The search engines need some way to determine if your content is valuable and the best measureable way for them to do this is to calculate the number of social signals (shares, likes, pluses, tweets, links, etc.) pointing back to your content.  So when our agency discusses “content marketing”, part of what we mean is promoting content through your active social media channels.

4. BLOGGING – NOTE THE ALL CAPS

In terms of small business websites, blogging represents both the biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge.  Blogging not only helps to establish your company as an authority, but it’s also proven to increase website traffic conversion rates. Most importantly, blogging is the best way to add high quality, relevant content to your website.  The search engines love high quality blog content.  Search engine ranking factors have changed dramatically over the years, however, most SEO industry experts agree that blogging is now critically important.  This is never going to change.  All small businesses that want to achieve and sustain maximum search engine visibility will have to maintain an active blog.  Ideally, company blog posts are written by the business owner or some other experienced employee. If your company does not have an active blog, you should consider making it a priority this year.

5. MORE BLOGGING

We said it: maintaining an active blog is essential. There is more you can do.  Guest blogging is a phenomenal way to get exclusive, relevant, high-quality content on your website.  What’s even better is that the guest author will typically market their guest blog post for you.  That’s right – they will go out and blast your website to their social networking channels and help market the content for you! Supplementing your own blog with a well-executed guest blogging program will get you both great content and coveted social signals…free of charge.

Guest blogging goes both ways.   You also want to target high quality, relevant websites and post on their sites.  Reciprocal guest blogging is a secret weapon for many SEO companies.

content-marketingA Word Of Caution 

Organic search engine rankings are more important than ever.  The ranking factors have shifted from being backlink-centric to being content-centric.  Companies have to be careful to avoid the same types of SEO short-cuts that got webmasters and business owners in trouble in the past.  The search engines are getting really good at filtering out copied and low quality content.  Spammy filler content from domestic and offshore content farms will hurt your rankings.  Google has declared war on all forms of webspam.  In fact, they just recently condemned content stitching and warned against misusing guest blog posts.    In other words, you should only publish unique blog content that is interesting or useful to your audience.  If you try to blog only for the sake of the search engines, chances are you will fail to get any SEO value.  For most businesses, great content is everywhere.  It’s just a matter of extracting stories and lessons from everyday business experience and having the discipline to document and publish them on a regular basis.

phil-singletonPhil Singleton is the owner of Kansas City Web Design®, a web development firm specializing in SEO-friendly WordPress websites and custom website applications, and Kansas City SEO®, a full-service Internet marketing services company that provides organic search engine optimization and other online marketing services.  Contact Phil on his Google+ page.

Hummingbird and Hashtags: Keeping Your Google Plus Content Strategy Alive

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Lauren Hogan – Enjoy!

IMG_3287

Photo credit: misspixels

With Google’s recent Hummingbird update, anyone who does online marketing was forced to review & revamp their marketing strategy. The Hummingbird update specifically impacts the social media marketing realm by increasing SEO dependence on Google Plus hashtags. Whereas, previously, it was used to track post content now, using hashtags with your Google Plus posts helps optimize your content to display in search.

Here’s why this update matters: Google Plus is the second largest social platform with just over 50% of the global internet user market and boasts roughly 1,203 million users per month (visits to Gmail are counted). These are astounding numbers not to be overlooked. Do not exclude the use of hashtags if part of your content strategy includes Google Plus. Here are 5 ideas of how to use hashtags in your content strategy:

1)  Basic Use

This is simple. If you are posting content to your business Google Plus account, throw in a few hashtags to help support the reach of your post. Find a happy medium between the standard hashtag use on Twitter and Instagram. 2-4 hashtags per post is a realistic goal.

2)  Optimization

You have a blog. You have an SEO strategy. You have a Google Plus account. Now let’s connect the dots. It can never hurt to optimize your post for organic search & use those optimized words as hashtags.

3)  Photo Content

The most popular activity on Google Plus is photo sharing. Utilize hashtags when you post to provide equal opportunity for your post to be viewed.

4)  Networking

Communities are a great way to reach a targeted audience and invite an opportunity for more sharing, +1’s and discussion. When you post content to a community make sure to include hashtags to encourage and track conversation around the topic of choice.

5)  Conversation

Just as you would on Twitter, use hashtags that relate to your business and your goals. This includes choices such as #tech or #socialmedia. However, unlike Twitter you can use specific hashtags such as #techtips or #socialmediamarketing. You can even attach on to a couple hashtags that already spark weekly conversation. Examples include #MondayMotivation and #FridayFun.

headshot squareLauren Hogan is the Social Media Coordinator at HomeAdvisor which offers homeowners tools including Cost Guide, a resource to help budget your next home improvement project and DesignMine, a site to help collect, organize and bring to life home project ideas. She enjoys trail running in the summer and spending time on the slopes in the winter. Connect on Twitter