[By Emily Carter]
Before Search Engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing became a way of life for the everyday person, it was a lot more difficult to research things. As someone who graduated from college not too long ago, my research techniques for projects in school drastically shifted from middle school through high school and college. I bet that most of you remember looking up topics in encyclopedias or dictionaries. There was no "fast answer" to tricky questions - a person usually consulted a card catalog or a librarian to assist in uncovering the truth about ancient civilizations or metric conversions.
In the days of old (you know, pre-Internet), ideas were organized a by topic, title and author...in books...in libraries. The Dewey Decimal System categorized topics to assist in quickly finding what you were searching for. Of course, these still exist today - but is it your first stop to finding answers? The earliest "Search Engines" were probably your favorite librarians bustling down the aisles to help you find something. The way that we look for information has definitely changed.
How do you find information now? Chances are, you type your question into Google and your answer will pop up within .5 seconds. Reference books are now reference websites (Dictionary.com & Britannica.com), and students now include websites in their works cited more often than an actual book.
My friends and I like to play a game where we take a screenshot of our most recent Google searches and send it to each other. It's hilarious to see the random things that you searched in a day. Thank you, search engines, for making it possible for me to find answers to the really impossible questions in life. These were on my search history from last week:
How is the date for Easter chosen?
What's the 10-day forecast for Las Vegas?
When does the 2014 Kia Forte come out?
Who was on the cast of the Real World Chicago?
What were the winning powerball numbers?
My main girl Siri always has my back when it comes to information search.
Are you being found online? You should be.
[By Fred Strahl]
We are almost a full month into the new year and some companies still don‘t have an internet marketing plan. Internet marketing has become extremely vital to generating leads and sales. Here are some basic questions that you need to ask yourself, as a business, if you are preparing to exceed all of your sales goals!
Do you have an internet marketing strategy?
Most likely you have a website at this point (You do, right? Good.) However, the days are gone when just having a website was sufficient. Every day you don’t make updates to your site, add new content, write a blog, or increase your social media presence; your competitors do. According to HubSpot, 89% of marketers are maintaining or increasing their inbound marketing budgets.
Are you familiar with inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is the philosophy to have leads come to you. Cold calling, direct mailers, mass emails, and other outbound methods are out of date and no longer efficient in time or investment. The ROI just isn’t there. Here’s a fun video that explains the ineffectiveness of outbound marketing. (I think fans of Alanis Morissette will enjoy it) Read our free white paper to learn more about the topic and keep an eye out for live webinars in the near future.
Do you have a keyword strategy in place?
This is the first step in developing an inbound marketing plan for many reasons. Even the most efficient keyword strategies are going to take time to develop traction with Google. However, some argue this point just like the chicken and the egg. Should you develop your keyword strategy first to generate traffic as soon as possible or develop a great site first for when the traffic arrives? My opinion is this, due to the fact the keywords take time to gain traction, you should develop your keyword strategy first. You will have time to improve your website while the keyword list begins to gain traction. To learn more about developing a keyword strategy, contact us!
Are you present on social media pages?
Did you know that United States internet users spend 3 times more time on social media and blogs than email? Just like a website, it is no longer sufficient to just create social media pages. You must be consistently updating the pages and interacting with your audience. According to Aberdeen Research, the top 20% of B2B marketers in social media lead generation have increased revenue by 20% in 2011. These results don’t come by simply creating a page. A lot of work must be happening on your end which includes consistent posts, engaging content, and interaction with the visitors of your page. In addition, having a great presence on social media with boost your rankings in Google. The Google algorithm has recently been updated to analyze social presence as well. TIP: Some studies have shown that companies with a Google+ page get a great boost in SEO…surprised?
Are you able to blog consistently?
My favorite quote about blogging is from Freelance Journalist Kevin Anderson;
“The bottom line is that blogging is like sex. You can’t fake it. You can’t fake passion. You can’t fake wanting to engage with the public. If you do, it will ultimately be an unsatisfying experience for both the blogger and their readers.”
This quote is spot on. Similar to social media, blogging is all about engagement. You have to create engaging articles that will spark interest and discussion. At the very least you have to ensure that people are reading them. If you have a low amount of hits and subscribers to your blog you have to rethink your strategy and content.
I hope you were able to answer yes to all of these questions. If not, there are many things you can do to improve yourself! You may be behind now but don’t continue to fall behind. As General Erik Shineski said “If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less.”
Image Source: Carolyn Frith
[By Emily Carter]
Happy New Year, inbound marketers! To celebrate the last Friday of 2012, we wanted to share with you some of the marketing resolutions that we have set for ourselves in the coming year. These are just a few of our collective thoughts on our goals and plans for the coming months. Part of growing is learning about yourself and where you can improve. 2012 was a stellar year for us, and we want to continue the greatness! Here are Grass Roots Marketing's New Year's Resolutions:
- Increase social media reach by 50%.
- Commit to a blog writing schedule.
- Spread knowledge, not cold calls.
- Get Found through search engines...even more than now.
- Simplify our website navigation and layout.
- Offer more resources about Inbound Marketing Techniques.
- Write even more content.
- Learn about a niche and capture lead information from that niche.
- Network more, through face to face interactions and online networking sites.
- Focus on collaboration and communication.
Are any of your resolutions the same as ours? If you are wondering what your marketing resolutions should be in 2013 or want help achieving your goals, we'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.
[Guest Blogger: Megan Totka]
I recently came across a very interesting article that discussed ways to make your website landing page more appealing and efficient. In the article from unbounce.com, the author made a checklist of 50 ways to make your landing page better. The idea is that website admins or owners should go through the list and make sure that they cover all 50 topics. I found a few of the suggestions to be the most important and wanted to address them further.
Could someone who has never seen your site or heard of your business before, understand what you are all about within the first 5-10 seconds of landing on your page?
This is a pretty critical question. Visitors to your site should not have to click around before understanding the purpose of your site. Your home page should have enough information on it that even those who are unfamiliar with your business should be able to very quickly figure out what it is all about. If they can’t, then it’s time to redesign your website. Make sure to include:
- Your business name in a large, clear font
- A blurb about what kind of company you are
- Photos of inventory or services
Does your website homepage set your company apart from others that are similar?
Your website should make a point to differentiate your business from others that are offer the same types of goods or services. While I’m not saying that it is necessary to make a list of why you are better and post it on your homepage, it is good to advertise why it is that your company offers something superior. Another way to achieve this is to make some kind of offer to your customers.
Are your site visitors able to easily locate several ways to contact you?
This is critical for all types of businesses. Your website should be one of your best salespeople. Many of the most successful companies do not try to hide their contact information; in fact they make it crystal clear. It’s great to offer your website visitors multiple forms of contact. Phone is of course the most obvious, but having a readily available email address is important as well. If your company is big enough to warrant a chat option, that is extremely useful to customers. Most phones and emails are answered during traditional business hours, when most people are at work. Having a chat available makes customer service more accessible to many people.
Do you have a sign-up page? How easy is it to sign-up?
Ever feel misled when a company entices you to sign-up for something? Lots of websites pop up a place to put in an email address in order to be sent updates, as soon as their site loads. While this can be a good tactic, make sure that you don’t mislead customers. If they have to do something further than just entering an email, it’s a great idea to give an estimate of how much time or how many steps will be involved. That way they can make an educated decision about whether or not that is something they can do.
Having your website make a positive first impression can make or break many aspects of your business. As silly as it may sound, a website that is not functional or pretty may turn some customers off to the point that they no longer choose to do business with you. This is why website design and usability are so important. The 50-point checklist and choosing a good website design business can be a big help when it comes to optimizing your page.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com has the most up-to-date info for each Chamber of Commerce.
[By Emily Carter]
'Tis the season..and marketers know it! As the years progress, have you noticed how the Christmas season has become even more digitized than ever? Cyber Monday was created in 2005 by marketers to promote online shopping, and it has spread like wildfire. It has become the biggest online shopping day of the year, breaking records left and right. With the internet controlling more and more of a presence in the day to day lives of the general public, what marketing techniques should shift as well?
There are several tools that you can use to market your product or service on the internet this holiday season. WIth the average user spending over 35 hours online each month, it's important to recognize your opportunities to capture and retain new clientele. Here are some tools to keep on your radar, according to the infographic shown below:
- Mobile Optimized Websites - Take a walk down the street. How many touch screen phones do you see? I seem to count an iPhone or Android phone in everyone's hands these days. What are people using those spiffy phones for? The internet, of course. In 2012, 80% of holiday marketers will invest in a mobile or tablet app. This has spiked from last year's figure of 49%. Also, 84% of marketers are using mobile-optimized websites. These days, if you can't access your website through your phone, you are missing out on a majority of the populace who use their smartphones while they are on the go.
- It's all about Social Media - Social media is here to stay, folks. The majority of marketers planning on increasing holiday spending for Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest this year. They plan to use these mediums to alert customers of in-store deals and social sharing during holiday shopping. Social Media is a great place to not only introduce your company, but to get involved with your customer base as well. Use it to find out what they like, what they are talking about and their values. Having a connection with them allows them to see how accessible your company is to them.
- Email Marketing Lives On - Some say that email marketing is becoming obsolete, but we disagree. In 2011, 96% of marketers who used email in their holiday marketing plan reported that their campaigns were successful. This year, 92% of marketers plan to increase or maintain the same level of email investment as last year.
There you have it, info-seekers of the world -- three pretty awesome marketing presents, straight from GRM to you. If you are interested in upping the ante this holiday season, contact us today. We promise you won't need a gift receipt for what we offer!
[By Fred Strahl]
Hurricane Sandy has affected the lives of many people, from the east coast and throughout the country. Everyone wants to be helpful in any way that they can but what can your business do to help those in need? You should use your company’s inbound marketing tools to provide people with useful information. This could include your website, social media pages, and blogs. A simple web-page of information can be a lot more helpful than you think. Hopefully you have a mobile website for those who don’t have power. Even if your site isn’t mobile yet, you can use social media sites to send your messages and post information for those that may need it.
Here are some examples of different types of businesses and the pages they can add.
Carpentry, Plumbing, Electric
- Make a page that deals strictly with the hurricane relief efforts you and your company are taking a part of. Add additional information about how your company can help individuals in rebuilding and what you are doing for certain areas that were affected. Offer hotlines, helpful websites, and any other information that may be useful. These industries are going to be the most important during the time of rebuilding. Show the local area that you are there for them to support them and to help them in any way that you can. Lowe's set up a link to donate to the Red Cross on their home page.
- People are going to run dangerously low on their prescriptions due to the extended power outages. Provide information on where and how to refill prescriptions as soon as possible. Here is a great example.
- Due to the lack of power, people are having a difficult time keeping their food cold and fresh. An immense amount of food is going to spoil because of power outages. People need to find food during the blackouts and you can help them. If you are in the food industry, from grocery stores to fast food, you need to keep people posted on whether or not you are open. If you own a chain of locations, create a list on your site that shows which locations are opened and which ones are closed. You could even tweet when a location opens to let customers know. If none of your locations are open, offer your expertise and tips on keeping food as fresh as possible. You can also give people advice on how to tell if food has spoiled or not. Here is a perfect example.
- During this time people may have had very important shipments en route to the affected areas or from the affected areas. Keep people informed about their shipments, offer different methods of shipment, and explain the issues you may face when attempting to complete a shipment. During any situation like this FEMA will have first priority in utilizing any shipping companies in the area to get supplies to the people in need. Make sure that your customers are aware of some difficulties you are trying to work around so that they are able to estimate an arrival time for their package if you are not able to offer them one.
These are just some examples, but any company can use marketing tactics to make their resources known and help those in need due to Hurricane Sandy. Not only can you add pages to your site, but you can also tweet important information. Your company twitter account can be used as an information provider to people who are looking for things like gas stations, available generators, statuses of open eateries or grocery stores, etc. If you catch wind of something, spread the word out. During this time we all need to come together and to support each other. Show everyone that your business is looking to help anyone in any way they possibly can. We are all in this together.
This is the final installment of a three part blog article that discusses how to improve your Inbound Marketing methods by enhancing your SEO strategy. In this blog I will be covering the “usage” of your site and how it affects your SEO (Search Engine Optomization). If you did not read the first two, I recommend that you check them out. The past blog two blogs talk about how you can improve the on site SEO and off site SEO portion of your site. This last blog discusses the “usage” portion of your site that Google looks at. This aspect of your site is becoming more influential as the SEO standards change. Here are some things you can focus on when optimizing the “usage” of your site.
The click % is the amount of times your site is clicked while in the ranking that Google gives you. For example, if your site is the second result in the search, it should have a certain percentage of clicks for that search term. If the third search term starts to develop a higher percentage of clicks than your site, you will eventually drop in the rankings. To solve this, you should take a look at your key word strategy and make sure you have terms that will draw the type of customer you are looking for. If you accomplish this, you will notice that a lot of your traffic is specific to what you offer. Accordingly, you will have more clicks on your link.
After you maintain your click %, you must ensure that the people clicking on your link are finding the information they are looking for. Add call to actions to the page to make sure the user clicks something else when they arrive at your page. In the instance the user clicks on your link and then bounces right back to Google, your ranking will be affected negatively. You need to ensure that the user is finding the information they are looking for or at least give them a call to action that will urge them to click something on your site. This will help lower your bounce rate
% of new users
Having returning users definitely helps your SEO. However, increasing the number of new users that eventually return will help even more. If you implement changes to your SEO, you will notice that you have a higher ranking in Google searches and an increase in traffic. The question is, “Will your site be optimized to keep people interested?” You need to make sure that your content is engaging. If not, your site may have an increase in traffic, but no returns.
If you improve your site in all of the area’s I have discussed you will see a better ranking. However, it will not be overnight. SEO projects take time and a regular watch in order to rank higher. During your SEO enhancements here are some key things to keep in mind.
A. You need to stay on top of your strategy and updates more than your competitors
B. Keep your updates consistent to get Google to crawl your site often
C. If you develop a good keyword strategy, you will rank higher in the rankings. Simply implementing a solid key word strategy you will improve your click %, bounce rate, and % of new users.
D. Keep a regular eye on your keyword strategy, your usage numbers, and all of the Google updates that are developed.
If you do these things and use the tactics I have mentioned in the past three blogs, than you will see your ranks go higher, your leads come in faster, and your sales grow larger.
See how well you are doing with your overall SEO by using our free grader!
[By Fred Strahl]
This is part two of a three part blog. In this portion I will be covering off-site SEO. If you did not read the first one, I recommend that you check it out. The past blog talks about how you can improve your on-site SEO. On-site SEO is very important and a crucial part of improving your SEO. However, if you are only interested in ways to improve your off-site SEO, than you are in the right place!
For off-site SEO there is one main area you should be covering;
Link Building is the most important way to improve your SEO. It is the best way to rank higher on any search engine. While on-site SEO is still very important, if Google were to only use on-site SEO than it would just be a battle of who can get the most keywords in their content. Since this wouldn’t be a very efficient way to find the best sites for the user, Google has to see which sites are the most trustworthy, the most reliable, and the most credible. To do this, Google will look at your links from other sites and rate them. You should strive to have either a lot of inbound links from many credible sites or links from a few very credible sites (It also doesn’t hurt to have both).
However, there is an etiquette that should be followed when building up your inbound links. Here are the Dos and Don’ts of linking.
DON’T get involved with SPAM links
A lot of people fall into the pitfall of signing up for SPAM inbound links. People will pay companies to give them a lot more links back to the site with the idea that the more links they have back to their site, the higher SEO they will receive. This is COMPLETELY WRONG. If you were to do this Google can tell! Google will notice that the sources of those links are not credible and not trustworthy. This will only hurt your SEO not help. A good rule of thumb is to remember that Google is always one step ahead of the shortcuts people try to create.
DO guest blogging on other sites
Guest blogging is a great way to build links. You can set up a mutually agreement between yourself and another site to share each other blogs. It’s a “people helping people” idea. Both of your sites get an inbound link and both sites are improving their SEO, everyone wins. However, the pitfalls of this concept are agreeing to have an outbound link to a poorly viewed site or making this deal with a direct competitor.
DON’T submit your links to one large directory; DO submit your links to many web directories
Using a directory can be great for link building, however, you won’t get far if you only submit your link to one large directory. There are thousands of directories that you should be submitting your links to. The biggest advantages to this are the low cost, the ease, and the fact you don’t have to do anything in return.
DO Get involved in commenting on other blogs
When you comment on other blogs and engage with peers in your field, you may find a great opportunity to drop a link in one of the comments. Be careful though, don’t start dropping your links in comments on as many blogs that you can. The key here is to start a conversation, serve as an expert on the field, gain trust, and then drop a link. If you don’t do this there are very simple functions such as “delete comment” or “block user” that could affect you and your reputation negatively.
See how well you are doing with link building by using our free grader!
[By Fred Strahl]
Grass Roots Marketing, Inc., an inbound marketing company, recently announced the results of a case study called “Inbound Marketing for CPA Firms”. The case study examines the current usage of effective, online marketing tactics for U.S. CPA firms by comparing typical CPA firms with the top firms in the field.
If you’re unfamiliar with the methodology, inbound marketing is based on attracting qualified leads to an optimized website, the hub of your marketing and sales efforts. Using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, social media, blogging, email marketing and public relations to collectively support your content-rich website will help increase brand awareness and drive sales.
The study specifically looks at the website grades and social media platform activity (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging) of approximately 99 typical New Jersey CPA firms along with the top 25 CPA firms in the state as determined by number of employees. Results showed that in all of the analyzed categories, the top 25 CPA firms ranked better than their 99 counterparts in inbound marketing usage. While many of the firms had a good grasp on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, there is still a greater need to them to leverage the power of social media.
Our study falls in line with current trends of firms using inbound marketing strategies to substantiate their marketing campaigns and extend public reach to generate business. A recent 2010 study analyzing the Internet habits of U.S. citizens found that 78% of all U.S. Internet users say that they use the Internet to research products, indicating a continuous, upward trend.
The key takeaway of this research is that typical CPA firms can increase their sales by investing more resources into inbound marketing tools. Technology and software has made it possible for these smaller firms to be just as effective as the top 25 CPA firms in New Jersey.
It is important that this industry grows through the use of productive inbound marketing strategies that help CPA firms improve their online presence to attract clients and talent. While this research is industry specific, the principles of inbound marketing can be applied to any type of business in any industry.
“Inbound Marketing for CPA Firms” discusses the case study in greater depth, as well as provides insight and tips for how any type of firm can use inbound marketing strategies for their business. The study provides insight into the practices of the industry and how to create sales by using inbound marketing strategies. Click here to get your FREE copy!
About Grass Roots Marketing, Inc. (GRM)
GRM’s HubSpot Certified professionals provide inbound marketing programs for companies around the country. Enhance brand awareness and drive your sales by attracting qualified leads to your website through search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, email marketing, public relations, social media and blogging. For more information about GRM, please visit www.grmwebsite.com or call 732-380-8400.
[By Fred Strahl]
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic that comes to your website via search engines. When your target audience searches for information on sites like Google, Yahoo and Bing, SEO helps your website get found. Managing your SEO plays a crucial role in branding, lead generation, and ultimately generating more sales.
SEO Management can be complicated and I know what you’re probably thinking...”Where should I start?” Well, this blog would be a great start! To answer that question, I am going to break down the three main areas of Google’s algorithm. They are; on-site SEO, off-site SEO, and usage. I will be talking about the three areas in three different blogs. Today, I will cover on-site SEO.
For on-site SEO there are three main areas that you should be covering;
1. Unique Content
People tend to believe that by repeating keywords in their content as much as possible, they will rank higher on Google. This is not necessarily true. In addition, some people think that if they use the same keywords and topics of their high ranking competitors, they will rank higher also. This is also not true. When you are creating and developing unique content, do not take it as a literal sense. Do not look at competitors sites, identify their main topics, and then write about those topics in your own words. This is not unique.
You may be in an industry with a lot of competition but you need to stand out! Why is your business different from your competitors? Why are your methods of going about your business better than others? What are your unique ideas? These are some ideas for unique content. Don’t talk about what everyone else is talking about, talk about why you are different.
2. Exact Match Keyword
While making your unique content, make sure that you have the correct keywords in your content that you want to be searched. However, by “content” I don’t just mean the text paragraphs on your page. There are many places that can be scanned by the algorithm other than the paragraphs of information that you have on your site. You can boost your ranking by ensuring that your keywords are also in the titles of your web pages, the titles of your content (header tags for html), and the information in your meta-data. If you don’t know how to update these things, you may want to talk to your website designer.
How often is your page updated? Are you always adding new content? This is something to think about. If you are planning to just make a web page for the sake of having one, then be prepared to watch your rank in search engines drop drastically. Google will check which sites are always adding new content. Adding new content frequently shows that the company is active and the most active companies will be seen as the best option for the user. A great way to do this is to have a weekly blog. It is a simple and great way to show Google that you are active.
Take a look at how well you are doing with these areas on your site and make sure that you are fully optimized to be found. SEO is a major part of the Inbound Marketing process and if you are not covering the areas that are listed above, you will be missing out on a major piece in the Inbound Puzzle. Check back soon for part two of this blog entry: Off Site Optomization! I will talk about how you can use other websites to boost your own SEO.
Get your SEO and many other Marketing strategies analyzed with our free grader!