Friday, November 27, 2015

7 SEO tips that can help your startup increase revenues

By David Ronald

Search engine optimization can have a dramatic effect on the success of any business regardless of its size. SEO best-practices are always changing, however, because Google frequently modifies its algorithms—so much so, in fact, that approaches which were effective in obtaining a page one ranking just a couple of years ago may even be counter-productive today.

The evolving nature of search requires a fresh strategy when it comes to keep your business prominent in search engine listings.

In this post I’m going to highlight seven tips for successful SEO:

1. Develop your strategy—a carefully-crafted marketing strategy is vital in identifying your target market segments, how best to communicate with them, what types of messages and content you want to evangelize, metrics that can help determine and how problems when content doesn’t perform as expected and so on. It’s an ever-evolving plan, but an initial strategy needs to be formulated before it can grow into itself.

2. Identify target keywords—all SEO projects begin with research into target keywords. Your goal here is to determine the keywords that have the most return with the least competition, and this is based on your target segments and an in-depth analysis of current and recent search trends. Build compelling content around these keywords—Google is adept at determining how relevant and informative content is to specific keywords.

3. Keep content pithy—if you’re focusing on a particular topic in your segment(s), then strive to write about everything relevant to that topic. Creating pithy content is how you attract new users and make sure that your site doesn’t stagnate. These also feed into the idea of generating good backlinks to go with good content. Together these things are very helpful for a site’s final page rank.

4. Build relevant links—modern day link building requires proper understanding of how anchor tags work and how you can best utilize them to increase your search engine rank. Link relevancy is key in figuring out which sites are best linked to. Tools such as Mozbar allow you to quickly ascertain if a link is good by glancing at the DA score. This is important because these links affect how relevant a site you are to your niche.

5. Determine social channels—there are hundreds of millions of users across dozens of social networking channels and as a startup, and your time dedicated to social media is already at a premium. Understanding that you can’t cover all the possible avenues is the first thing to come to grips with. Some background research can then direct you to the social media network where the majority of your target demographic dwells, allowing you to focus on that one.

6. Be mobile-friendly—it isn’t necessary to completely re-build a website in order to make it mobile-friendly. There are plenty of resources online that can convert a website to mobile-friendly standards, without a great deal to time or money. Even if budget is your concern, you have far more to lose from a site that isn’t mobile compatible than you save from not making it mobile compatible.

7. Befriend analytics—the numbers don’t lie and the relevant numbers to you are the ones that tell of your page’s successes and failures. While successes are important to celebrate, failures allow you to improve your site. Analytics gives you goals to aim for and are a pretty good guide as to how effective your marketing strategy has been thus far and what could be improved in the future.

These seven tips should get you started on the journey to a position on page one of a search engine listing. SEO is a huge and complex topic, so strive to increase your knowledge as much as possible—subscribe to relevant blogs (there are some very good ones) and consider taking an evening class at a local college if time allows. Spending time in acquiring more and more knowledge will be a worthwhile investment for your business.

Thanks for reading.

Leaves us a comment if you found this post to be useful.

Friday, November 20, 2015

How to achieve good PR when you're a startup

By David Ronald

Public relations is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. In an era when anyone can broadcast their opinions about your startup to the world, good PR remains as vital to the success of a business as it always has been. Indeed, it’s arguably more important than ever.

Even so, good PR requires a new level of engagement on the part of entrepreneurs and companies and in this blog post I’m going to examine what that involves.

  • Less what, more why—although innovators are right to be proud of their latest development, it’s important to avoid falling into the trap of focusing on the “what” it is and “how” it works. Focus, instead, on the “why” it is going to have an impact and enrich people’s lives.
  • Search for a “hook”—endeavour to pitch your product or service by relating it to current hot button issues as much as you can, as this increases the probability of successfully “hooking” your audience.
  • Tone down jargon—yes, it’s true that our lives are full of technical buzzwords but don’t automatically expect that everyone understands all of the ones you use. Describe your innovation in everyday language as much as possible.
  • Map your messages—it’s generally true that the technical press is the best place to seek coverage if you have an exciting product announcement and the business press is more suitable if you have company news.
  • Avoid irrelevant news—the quickest way to excite an editor’s “delete button reflex” is to get your company associated with non-news. Overcome your natural urge to be “in the news” regularly and, instead, put out press releases only when you something truly interesting to announce.
  • Connect on social media—journalists, even at mainstream publications, use social media as a key way of staying abreast of breaking news. Posting your news on properties such as Twitter and Reddit can help you gain coverage.
  • Seek bloggers' coverage—the blogosphere is the perfect link between social media and PR as bloggers are active on social media and many of them are closely monitored by journalists.
  • Identify your keywords—determine the keywords that will give you an edge over your competitors and use them your press releases, social media posts, and so on. Spyfu (, for example, is a good tool for helping determine which keywords to use.
  • Publish social media-friendly content—since your goal is to prompt engagement, and potential sharing, post content on social media that elicit an emotional response. Case studies, for example, are an ideal way ay to get your message across.
  • Leverage Google Analytics—you can determine which online publications are helping drive traffic to your website using Google Analytics. Put more of your advertising dollars there.
  • Focus on media where you advertise—the walls between advertising and editorial are sometimes rock solid and sometimes non-existent. A good rule of thumb, however, is that you’ll get the best coverage in the publications where you’re spending the majority of your ad dollars, and vice versa.
Do you agree with this list?
Leave us a comment if you feel we've left something off it. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

3 types of online advertising for small businesses

By David Ronald

The goal of advertising is to attract new customers—after all, no matter how awesome your company’s product or service is, if you don’t advertise, nobody will know about it.

It’s not surprise that ever more businesses are choosing to advertise online - digital advertising spend was $49.5 billion in the United States, in 2014, according to Internet Ad Bureau, digital now commands nearly one in five ad dollars.

The first thing to know when you are considering using the internet to advertise your product is what types of online advertising are at your disposal. And that will depend on what your business needs are. In this blog post, I describe the three key online advertising methods.

1. Search Engine Advertising

Of all the types of online advertising, search engine marketing has to be one of the most dynamic and challenging to harness. Basically, popular search engines like Google use complex algorithms to deliver searched-for content in their results pages. It obviously pays to be one of the first few results on a popular search engine. However, because these algorithms are constantly changing, staying on top of the search engine optimization (SEO) methods can be a little challenging.
The key benefits of this type of advertising are:

Origination—many prospects will hit search engines first when they are looking for a new product or service, or attempting to locate one that they haven’t had luck finding. By making yourself visible from the point of origination, you are more likely to get those customers.

2. Display Advertising

This category of advertising includes all of the visual ways to get your message across: videos, graphics, banners, sidebars, logos, photos…you get the idea. The display delivery system has come a long way from the early days of internet advertising, and it isn’t uncommon to see ads that are more experiential than passive, like interactive video ads.
The key benefits of this type of advertising are:

Visibility—of all the types of online advertising, display has the best chance of making a visual impression; a buyer can see your logo, your service, your contact information, or really whatever information you choose to include, which can make a lasting impression.

Targeting—huge steps have been made in targeting prospects, mainly through the use of behavioral targeting, which uses cookies and search data to deliver ads to people who are more inclined to want what you’re offering. Geographical targeting, on the other hand, will target buyers who are close to your location, which is especially useful for small brick and mortar shops.

3. Social Media Advertising

Social media is currently the sweetheart of all of the different types of online advertising choices that you have available to you. Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Vine and other social media properties are having a profound effect on the way information is shared online. And virality, or the exponential rate at which information is shared is what makes social media marketing so desirable—though it can be a little tougher to determine which things actually will spread like wildfire.
The key benefits of social media advertising are:

Cost—with a few caveats, most social media accounts are free to open and operate, making this one of the cheaper types of online advertising.

Visibility—many people enable push notifications, which update their mobile devices and computers immediately with alerts from social media sites. The popularity of these sites, and potential consumers’ constant interaction with them means that you’ll have a larger chance of being seen by more people.

So what are the next steps? Well, that’s entirely up to you! The first thing you should do is take a thorough stock of your advertising needs and see how these and other types of online advertising can meet those needs. Educating yourself and your employees in social media marketing will give you a definite leg up and understanding how to build the type of websites that people want to purchase things from will keep you on top.

Thanks for reading.

Leave us a comment if you found this information useful.

Friday, November 6, 2015

7 types of video that will improve your social media marketing

By Scott Mason

Video is my favorite way of learning about a topic. Yes, I like to read, but nothing has the emotional impact of a video.

Telling stories with video increases engagement and gives people a reason to talk about you—approximately 72% of marketers plan to use more video in their social channels, according to the 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. What types of videos will get the attention of your audience? Creating videos that tell stories is a powerful way to connect with your audience on an emotional level and increase engagement with your content.

In this post I will describe how best to combine video, storytelling and social media.

1. Share your customers' stories

We’re big believers in customer advocacy here at Alphabet—it’s a great way to evangelize how your product is helping to enrich your buyers’ personal or work lives.

On Airbnb‘s Facebook page, the company posts video stories about places around the world, as told by Airbnb hosts. This is a great way to produce engaging and interesting content, and create an emotional connection between your prospects and your business.

2. Tell personal stories

Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example of how to do this successfully—he is known for stories and video from his Wine Library TV days and he’s constantly innovating. He regularly posts videos on his YouTube channel that include personal stories as a way to connect with potential customers.

3. Interview interesting people

An interview or video podcast is a great way to draw out stories from industry thought leaders, customers or partners. Video interviews don’t require a big budget. Just make sure you have good questions and an engaging guest.

Someone who does this well is Michael Hyatt—he posts portions of his video podcast interviews on his Facebook page as teasers.

4. Teach viewers how to do something

The Home Depot does a great job of telling project-related stories from the customer’s point of view. In this YouTube video the company shows viewers how to install a tile backsplash.

Seeing people accomplishing their goals will inspire many of your viewers. Your videos can teach them how to do a project and highlight the tools they’ll need to gather to do the job.

5: Shoot a documentary-style video 

Another way to tell stories with video is to shoot in a documentary style. Corning, for example, created a documentary-style video that explored applications for the company’s glass in a wide range of innovative products. It has been viewed by over 25 million people on YouTube so far.

6. Create animated stories

Another option for social videos is to develop an animated story, similar to what Chipotle has been doing with its video series Back to the Start on its YouTube channel.

You could hire a video production company that specializes in animation, but there are also a number of tools you can use to create animated videos such as GoAnimate, Powtoon and MakeWebVideo.

7. Take viewers “behind the scenes” 

People love to see “how the sausage is made”.

Constant Contact often provides a look at the people behind the company. In the following example, they posted a simple video on Facebook of their Day of Service Who doesn’t want to know more about a company whose employees have fun together—and one that contributes to charity?

Okay, enough from me...

Now it’s your time to get out there and be creative with video in ways that help your business grow revenues.