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Authors: Build Your List with Facebook Lead Gen Ads

Create a Lead Gen Ad

Today, we have a guest post from Anne Felicitas, Editor at AdvertiseMint, a Facebook advertising agency.

My first instinct after finishing a piece, whether that’s a poem, an article, or a blog post, is to share it. After all, what’s the point of toiling for a work of art that no one else can see, that no one else can enjoy? You, a fellow writer, an author, likely share the same sentiment. After spending years on a book, writing your outlines, redrafting your manuscript two or three times, you want people other than your spouse, your editor, and your agent to read it—you want prospective fans to discover your work.

You can easily gather new readers for your book by creating a Facebook Lead Ad, an ad that functions as a digital sign-up form. Lead Ads, with their superior ad targeting options, will help you build an email list of prospective readers.

What Is a Facebook Lead Ad?

In 2015, Facebook witnessed three phenomena: more users were migrating from desktop to mobile phones, advertisers were demanding sign-up forms to collect leads, and users, accustomed to quick results, were often too impatient to fill out slow-loading, too inquisitive forms. Although Facebook wanted to appease advertisers by creating sign-up forms, it first needed to address the problem of impatient and mobile-centric customers. To resolve its problems, Facebook create a sign-up form that accommodates mobile phone users who often abandoned forms that took too much effort to fill, that took too long to load on a cellphone. Facebook created the Lead Ad.

Lead ads, which are accessible on Facebook and Instagram, are digital sign-up forms that allow you to collect customer’s information. With these forms, you can create a sign-up sheet for newsletters, price estimates, follow-up calls, or business information.

Optimized for mobile devices, although also accessible through desktop computers, lead ads are unlike any other form you’ve seen before. It expedites the sign-up process by automatically populating contact information customers provided in their profiles, such as first name, last name, and email address. Additionally, they load and open quickly within Facebook’s app. As soon as it opens, customers can fill in and submit the form without being redirected to a slow-loading web browser or to a different app.

How to Create a Facebook Lead Ad

You can create Facebook Lead Ads from two places: Business Manager or your Facebook page.

On Business Manager

Step 1: Choose the objective “Lead generation”

In order for you to enable the lead ad format, you must first choose “Lead generation” as your objective, the only objective eligible for Lead Ads. After you’ve chosen “Lead generation” as your objective, click “Continue” to proceed to the next section of the ad.

Step 2: Choose your Facebook page

If you have more than one Facebook page, choose the one you want to promote. The Facebook page account that you choose to promote will be the account that will advertise on your behalf. For example, after choosing AdvertiseMint as the Facebook page I want to promote, the ad that will appear on news feed will appear as posted by Advertisemint.

Step 3: Create your target audience

If you don’t already have an existing customer list you can upload to Facebook for targeting, then you must create a new audience by choosing the demographics, behavior, and lifestyle of the audience you want to target. Examine the sample target audience illustrated below.

Gender

Men and women aged 18-40

Location

United States

Language

English

Interests

Barnes and Noble, books, novels, Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale, science fiction, dystopia

Connections

People who like your page

If you want accurate targeting, create the persona of your target audience. Ask yourself who your readers are. Are they men or women? What is their age? What genres do they like? What novels? Who are their favorite authors?

You can also upload an existing customer list to Facebook. You can either target the people on that list or you can create a Lookalike Audience, a highly recommended option, which allows you to target new people who are closely similar to your current readers from your customer list.

Step 4: Choose your placements

If you choose automatic placements, Facebook will deliver your Lead Ad to the three placements it’s eligible for: Facebook desktop news feed, Facebook mobile news feed, and Instagram. If you want to place your Lead Ad exclusively on Facebook or exclusively on Instagram, you can do so by clicking “Edit Placements” and checking off the placements you prefer.

Step 5: Set a budget and schedule

Here’s a helpful tip: when you set your budget, optimize for leads rather than for link clicks. Choosing the latter may result in a higher click-through rate. If you want to get the most out of your Facebook ad, always optimize for your goal, which, in this case, is leads.

Step 6: Choose your format

Your Lead Ad is eligible for the formats carousel, single image, single video, and slideshow. The single image format is commonly used because it’s the easiest to create. The carousel format, on the other hand, allows you to feature up to 10 images and videos in one ad unit. If none of the formats appeal to you, and you want a cheaper and easier alternative to the video format, use the slideshow format. If you’re new to Facebook advertising, and you don’t have time to create complex creatives, then use the single image format.

Step 7: Enter text

Write copies that give your readers a clear understanding about your offer. What exactly are they signing up for? Will you give them a free book? Will you give them email updates about your upcoming novels? Will you notify them about your book tours? Be honest, and try not to inadvertently deceive your potential fans.

Step 8: Create the form

When you create your form, keep your questions to a minimum. Lengthy forms may dissuade your potential fans from signing up as they may be reluctant to disclose too much personal information. Instead, request necessary information, which will likely be the person’s full name, email address, and phone number. If you must ask questions on your form, ask multiple choice questions rather than open-ended questions. A convenient process leads to more conversions.

Step 9: You’re done!

On Your Facebook Page

If you don’t have a Business Manager account, there’s no need to panic. You can still create a Lead Ad straight from your Facebook page.

Step 1: Go to your business page

You can access your business page from your news feed. It should appear under “Favorites” on the left column of your screen.

Step 2: Go to Publishing Tools

Click “Publishing Tools” located above your cover photo.

Step 3: Click “Lead Ads Forms”

Click “Lead Ads Forms” located on the left side of your screen.

Step 4: Click “Create”

If you haven’t made any Lead Ads, this page should be empty. Click “Create” on the upper right corner to create a Lead Ad.

Step 5: Create the form

Click “New Form” then click “Next.”

Step 6: Add a context card to your form

Context cards allow you to add more information about your product or service before they visit your form. In the context cards, explain what people are signing up for. Are they signing up for a newsletter, a raffle to win a prize, or a free book? As aforementioned, be honest and avoid inadvertently deceiving your fans.

Step 7: Fill in context card

Write a headline, add an image, write a description in either bullet or paragraph form, then add a call-to-action button.

Step 8: Add a link to your website

Provide the website link to where you want your form to direct users.

Step 9: Add your privacy policy

Link the text or URL to your privacy policy to avoid future disputes.

Step 10: Choose sign-up information

You can choose to ask for email, phone numbers, first and last names, addresses, etc. To view more options click “Show more options.” After checking all desired information, click “Next.”

Step 11: Enter URL in thank-you card

Your Lead Ad will end with a thank-you card that lets people know that their form was successfully submitted. The bottom of that card will contain a link that can direct them to your website. It’s important that you provide the link to the website you want them to visit after they’ve signed up.

Step 12: You’re done!

Your form should appear on this page. The form may take a minute or so to appear, so if you don’t see it, refresh until you do.

You’ve labored for that book. Don’t let your hard work go to waste by preventing others from reading it. Fortunately, gaining prospective readers is just a lead form away.

 

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How to Write Content That Actually Generates Leads

How to Write Content That Actually Generates Leads

It’s tough to be a businessperson in the digital age. While you might think that the Internet makes it a breeze to find loyal customers, the ease of communication between business and potential customer has made competition with other businesses tougher than ever.

Online lead generation is akin to fishing in the midst of thousands of other people hoping to catch the same fish as you are. To be effective, you must not only use the best bait, but you must also have the best tackle to reel in the catch.

In marketing terms, it’s  important to develop content for your website that draws people in and converts them into customers.

This, of course, is much easier said than done.

We developed this resource to give you some simple tips to instantly improve your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) and conversions.

Since many start-ups and small businesses are new to the wonderful world of SEO, here is a brief introduction to the term. For more veteran content creators, feel free to skip down to the tips list below.

SEO refers to increasing your website’s visibility in search engine results (primarily Google) and thereby increasing traffic and (hopefully) sales.

Optimizing your website can get quite nuanced, but much of it has to do with useful and clear web copy and the appropriate use of headings and tags, which allow search engines to index the site more easily.

SEO (bait) and conversion rate (tackle) exist in unison. Content on your site should draw traffic to your site, but it should also motivate visitors to action.

The following are the top five must-haves for web content that converts:

1. High-Quality Content

When asked whether writing matters in blog posts, author and digital marketing expert Guy Kawasaki replied, “This is like asking if the quality of food in a restaurant matters. Writing is the primary determinant of the success of the post. Everything else—timing, graphics, frequency—is secondary.”

High quality doesn’t just mean that your posts are grammatically correct and free of spelling errors. A good blog post will be grammatically correct, but it will first and foremost be of use to your audience.

The Internet is already so full of content that if you are posting for the sake of posting, you are just adding to the noise. Listen to your audience and learn what they want to read about.

In addition to great writing, don’t forget to include great-quality graphics that supplement the main points of your post. This is especially important to get viewers of your post to click the preview on social media or the front page of your website.

2. Keywords

High-quality content will help you move up in the ranking of Google’s search results because the most valuable currency in SEO is trust.

However, great content, while necessary, won’t get you very far in terms of driving traffic to your site. To make your content visible in searches, you need to understand the importance of keywords.

Google’s Keyword Planner (available for free online once you create a Google AdWords account) is a great tool to help you understand what words and phrases your clients are searching for and incorporate those terms into your content.

3. Post Length

Another very important factor in SEO is the length of your posts, titles, and meta descriptions.

A good rule of thumb is that title tags should be 55 characters or less, while meta descriptions should be 155 characters or less.

The length of a blog post itself is a bit more variable, as optimal post length has long been debated by content marketers and SEOs. Keep in mind that the length of a blog post is really more about usefulness and trust than actual word count, and longer posts tend to have more detailed and reliable information.

However, as Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content, explains, “Ideally, you want to worry less about blog post length and more about being useful to your audience. If you can be useful in 300 words, go for it!”

4. Design

Generate Leads

While many web content how-to articles focus on writing (which makes sense), they often overlook the very important aspect of visual appeal.

You’ve done all this work to bring visitors to your site by producing trustworthy writing that contains well-researched keywords and is of optimal length, but you still aren’t meeting your lead generation goals.

The problem might be your website’s design. Our first impressions of websites are often subconscious, but there is no doubt that design and aesthetics play a major role in gaining a visitor’s trust.

Evan Bailyn, author of SEO Made Easy, puts it this way: “Websites are like commercial buildings: If you walk into one and feel surrounded by symmetry, calm, and beauty, you feel comfortable transacting with the business.”

5. Call to Action

This is perhaps one of the most important, and often forgotten, aspects of content writing. You are writing a post not only to provide your audience with useful information but also to educate them about your organization, product, or service.

The majority of business owners started their company because they believe their product can make a difference in the lives of others, whether by saving time, providing entertainment, or solving a common problem. Don’t forget that many of the people who clicked the link to your site could benefit from the products or services your company provides.

Within each blog post, and on each page of your website, make sure to reserve a specific section where you can place a button, link, or clear direction for the customer to follow to learn more about your company or to make a purchase. With blog posts, this typically occurs at the very end. Be sure that, wherever you place the call to action, it is related to the content of the page it is on.

By approaching SEO from the perspective of generating leads and customers—not just increasing traffic—you’ll be even more effective at harnessing the power of your website and blog, resulting in a measurable impact on your bottom line.

Image sources: Markus Spiske/Stocksnap.io, Jay Mantri/Stocksnap.io

How to Write a Blog

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The Ultimate Online Marketing Guide for Small Businesses

A computer displaying online marketing metrics.

A computer displaying online marketing metrics.

This comprehensive list of resources is designed to help small businesses navigate the ever-changing world of online marketing. This online marketing guide will answer your questions about ranking on search engines, increasing conversion rates, and growing your presence on social media. See how much easier your marketing process can be with the help of these articles.

Mastering Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Website Maintenance and Optimization

Image Source: Benjamin Child/Unsplash.com
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Personal Branding: How to Build Your Brand in 4 Simple Steps

Personal Branding

Personal Branding

When you think of personal branding, superstars come to mind—icons such as Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Kim Kardashian, and Ellen DeGeneres.

With such giants in the public sphere, it’s easy to forget that personal branding doesn’t always result in national news coverage, a multi-million-dollar TV show, or a personal clothing line. Sometimes, the result can be getting a new contract for your freelance work, collaborating with an influencer in your field, or standing out to a potential employer.

Perhaps not as sexy, but still important.

The following four steps will help you begin to develop yourself into a brand, with the goal of getting you to the point where potential customers and employers immediately associate your name with your service and/or product.

Step 1: Envision yourself as a brand.

The first step to building a personal brand is to think of yourself as a brand. No, this doesn’t mean you’re some lifeless product; this simply means you must think about how you can market your skills, services, and/or products to others, using your own name.

Ask yourself what your area of expertise is (or what you want your name to be associated with), and consider what you have to offer that others are willing to pay for, either as a customer or as an employer.

Be specific here, and don’t worry about limiting yourself to just one area. Marketing expert Jayson Demers firmly believes in the value of deciding on a specific niche within your field. Although you’ll have a smaller audience, it will be a much more valuable audience: “Specificity is a trade of volume for significance.” In other words, quality is better than quantity.

Step 2: Build an online presence.

As soon as you’ve defined your niche, you need to create an online presence. A good place to start is by googling your name. Do you appear in the search results? Are the results positive? What is the nature of the top results—are they your social media accounts, customer reviews, or your work? Assess your immediate online visibility, and build on it using the steps below.

As you move forward with developing your personal brand, google yourself regularly (or set up a Google Alert) to monitor your presence. It’s also worth noting that, if your name is John Smith, you may want to use a middle initial to make your name stand out.

To boost your visibility, consider buying a domain name; typically, it will look something like www.FirstnameLastname.com. Depending on the site you use for your purchase, the domain may only cost a few dollars each year. Buying a domain that includes your name will greatly increase the control you have over what people see when they google you. If you’re not convinced, check out Harry Guinness’s breakdown of the importance of owning your own domain.

Adding a social media presence will also help build your online presence. You can link to your accounts on your website, and since so many people use social media, it can be an effective alternative method to reaching and communicating with people.

However, remember that this requires you to be professional with your social media accounts. Keep your presence professional and avoid posting inappropriate content.

Another step you can take to boost your online presence is writing articles that are related to your specialty. Publishing these articles online (whether through a blog hosted on your website or a third-party publisher) will increase your internet footprint and position you as an expert in your field. Offering your opinion and expertise for free will signal to others that you are passionate and knowledgeable about your field.

Step 3: Learn, learn, and keep learning.

The third step is to continue developing your skills. Think you know everything there is to know about your profession? You’re (probably) wrong. Industries are constantly changing, and you need to stay as up to date as possible, considering that your presence is competing with the entire online world.

Take courses online or at a local college or university to continue developing your expertise and to learn from other experts. The upside to this is that tuition fees are often tax deductible!

Join associations that represent your profession. Often, associations will offer workshops or seminars, which will give you another expert’s perspective and experience in your industry. With your experience, perhaps you can consider leading a seminar yourself, which will further build your personal brand as a leader in your profession.

Follow bloggers and writers who give their opinions and updates on current trends; engage with them on their websites and social media.

Taking these steps, quite fortunately, gives you a head start on the next step.

Step 4: Make friends and network.

The downside to focusing on building your website and social media accounts is that people need to somehow find or be shown them. Networking brings you into direct contact with other experts and potential employers in a face-to-face setting. Real-world networking makes a great companion to your online presence because if no one in your field recognizes your name, your online content won’t carry as much weight.

Here is where you can benefit from being in contact with professors, classmates, colleagues, and fellow members of your profession’s association. These people might have special insights on current or future trends in your field, and they might be acquainted with potential employers or clients. Either way, by establishing connections and introducing yourself to others, you’re building your reputation by word of mouth.

Conclusion

These four steps are probably enough homework to keep you busy for a while. If you can see yourself as a brand, build an online presence, expand your knowledge, and network, you will have made an excellent start on developing your own personal brand.

Image source: Snufkin/pexels.com

How to Write a Resume

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10 Ways to Use Social Media to Build Your Professional Network

A professional network.

Professional Network

Are you a budding professional? Or are you changing careers, hoping to break into that new hierarchy of skilled personnel?

Even if you’re a shy person who shudders slightly at the word networking, you have to admit it’s an essential part of our job-seeking culture. After all, it’s not what you know but who you know.

How can you enter this labyrinth of strange names and faces, trying to make connections with people you’ve admired from a distance but never had the opportunity (or courage) to meet? The answer lies in our technological society’s way of staying connected: social media.

Building a strong online presence can be just as important as interacting with people face to face, and a well-worded tweet to the right person can be just as effective as an in-person meeting.

One thing I’ve learned about networking is that it’s not about using people to fuel one’s ambitions; it’s about appreciating people through meaningful relationships. Many people have the wrong idea about how to network, believing they must hound complete strangers whom they have targeted as the most likely to give them a leg up in their career.

However, true networking is not self-interested, but community-minded. The following 10 tips will help you use social media to network effectively and in a way that benefits both you and your connections.

Networking Tips for Social Media Beginners

1. Start with your existing connections.

Most of us have accumulated phone, email, and Facebook contacts from colleagues, friends, and acquaintances we know in person. It’s a great place to start to reach out to the people you already know to make sure you have added them on other social networks, such as LinkedIn, and to make sure you have the correct information about them. These contacts form the epicenter of your network.

TIP: Import existing contacts to LinkedIn and Facebook from your online address book, or ask your friends, teachers, and colleagues for their email addresses. You can also join school groups, volunteer organizations, or associations on both these sites.

2. Reach out to your fellow social media users.

Once you feel confident with your founding network members, you can move to other applications. Reach out to people you’ve interacted with online in meaningful ways. Maybe you’re an avid reader of a blog or a dedicated follower of a fellow professional on Twitter. Look for spirited discussions on Facebook or other online forums. If you value this individual’s input or share their ideals, maybe you’ll be able to work with them or recommend a connection with another contact one day.

TIP: Start a conversation on Twitter to network with a professional. Stay polite, express genuine interest in that person, and support them before you share your personal goals.

3. Figure out where you want to be and whom you want to be like.

Sometimes learning how to network is a journey of self-discovery. But why not learn from the best? Plus, people often like to share their wisdom and help those who are just starting out. By researching people who hold interesting positions or people you admire in your field, you can start to plan the next phase of your networking—and of your own career.

TIP: Use the Company Search feature on LinkedIn to find out which companies employ the members of your network and when these companies are hiring. You can also use the Advanced Search function to find professionals and career opportunities in your field.

4. Build your online presence.

Completing your LinkedIn or Facebook profile is like wearing a complete outfit to an interview: the more coordinated and put-together you are, the better the first impression. Let your experiences, personal preferences, activities, and interests express your identity on social networks, and don’t limit yourself to just one platform. Start a blog. Write a review. Check your email (yes, and I mean frequently!). By being active on social media, you’ll give your friends and followers a better opportunity to learn about you and interact with you, allowing your network to grow in quality and in numbers.

TIP: Write an article on your blog, and include quotes from experts about a topic that interests you. In doing so, you’ll give those experts more exposure and establish a basis for building a new relationship with them. Don’t have a blog yet? Take a look at one of these popular blogging sites to get started!

5. Look for shared interests and things in common.cheese

What is your passion? Do you have a hobby, or are you part of a nerd group on Facebook? Believe it or not, your weird passion for the history of cheese making might actually pay off in your job search. Just as people converse more easily about subjects that interest them, you’ll find that your professional network will really open up when you share common interests.

TIP: Facebook Groups are a great way to network based on shared interests: you can share files, create events, and start polls about any topic you want and with whomever you want.

Social Media Tips for Networking like a Pro

If you are already familiar with networking or if you’ve already landed that dream job, there’s still more you can do to improve your professional network.

6. Join professional networks.

Once you’ve found your career niche, you can find a “version” of LinkedIn tailored to your own profession. For instance, academia.edu allows academics to share research papers with colleagues, and zerply.com connects talented film industry professionals with upcoming artistic projects. But don’t just stop at joining in—you should actively coordinate groups within your existing networks to keep your connections (old and new) alive.

TIP: Starting a LinkedIn Group is a way to form meaningful connections with smaller collections of people in common industries. They’re good places to connect with influencers in your field, allowing you to share content, ask questions, give answers, and make contacts.

7. Formality is good, but personality is better.

Remember the awkward icebreaker games they made you play on the first day of school? “Tell us your name, your favorite color, and one interesting fact about yourself!” If you were one of the outgoing ones who said, “I can do a perfect impression of a peacock!” (and then proceed to make said sound), chances are people remembered your name. Confidence always makes an impression on others, and part of that confidence involves reminding your network how they know you.

TIP: Send a friendly note reminding your colleague where you met, through whom you met, or what organization you have in common. LinkedIn prompts you to do this upon adding a connection, but make sure you take the initiative when connecting elsewhere. Sharing details about yourself can make you interesting and, above all, identifiable.

8. Practice the golden rule: help others in your network.LinkedIn

Building your professional network doesn’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) be all about you. Maybe you recently got an entry-level job in your field, and you see a position that one of your grad school friends could fill easily. Recommending that friend for the position can benefit your company, which gets a competent worker, as well as your friend, who gets a leg up in the industry—and it also helps you. Others will remember your thoughtfulness. Being part of a community means supporting others and receiving support in return.

TIP: Post job links, career fairs, and other professional events to your contacts in that field. Endorse the skills of former and current co-workers on LinkedIn, as this will provide them with value and make them more likely to reciprocate.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Reaching out to others for help might seem scary, but the worst anyone can say to you is “No.” Besides, professional development is all about cooperating with others, sharing your strengths, and allowing others to help you in your areas of weakness.

TIP: Instead of asking a complete stranger for a job straight away (why should they help?), ask for advice or request an informational interview from a fellow professional in a courteous, friendly manner. How (and when) you ask is just as important as what you ask.

10. Use online tools to build more face-to-face connections.

Remember the days when communication meant walking up to someone, writing them a letter, or dialing their phone number? (Okay, maybe you don’t.) Previous generations had to learn effective communication by non-digital means, but you still need interpersonal finesse when communicating online. For example, people in the business world don’t respond well to an email addressed “To Whom It May Concern” because it seems impersonal, communicating that you didn’t care enough to research the recipient of your message (even if your true intention is simply to be respectful).

The goal is to be both respectful and warm, and this can be done by taking the time to read about your connections and interact with them on a personal level. Once you’ve established a cordial online relationship, you can make your relationship even more personal with phone calls, notes, and even meetings.

TIP: Use meetup.com to arrange face-to-face meetings with professionals from your local area, or simply send a friendly email to an existing acquaintance in your network.

Other Great Social Media Networking Resources

  • Just starting your career search and want to make an impression? Try Inklyo’s How to Write a Resume course to learn how to create an attractive, professional resume.
  • Maybe you want to tailor your job search to a particular profession. Join beyond.com to find jobs from multiple streams.
  • Are you a local business owner? Try localsnetworking.com to meet other professionals in your area.
  • There are even sites for emerging innovators, such as angel.co and makerbase.co, which help you find the funding you need to get started in your field.

Ask Not What Your Professional Network Can Do For You…

Now you’re ready to harness the power of social media for your professional network. Remember, though, that these 10 tips are not about climbing to the top of the professional ladder at the expense of others—they are about connecting with others in a community-minded way. Whatever you do, wherever you go in life, it’s your relationships that matter, and showing consistent politeness and consideration toward others will be more important in the end than simply “getting ahead.”

Image Source: Daria Shevtsova/Unsplash.com, Jakub Rostkowski/Stocksnap.io, Freestocks.org/Stocksnap.io

How to Write a Resume

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SEO Basics for the Online Business DIYer

SEO Basics for the Online Business DIYerFive minutes of exposure to any form of today’s media—TV, magazines, the blitzkrieg of emails from trendy companies you don’t remember giving your email address to—will tell you that we’re living in the Do-It-Yourself era. Grow a vegetable garden on your windowsill! Get that kitchen you always dreamed of! Cook Thai cuisine at home! The ever-growing lineup of home renovation shows and YouTube videos on How to Trick People into Thinking You’re Good Looking are now being joined by another category of DIYers: the online entrepreneurs. Where we used to see ads for designer business cards, now it’s all about website design (GoDaddy.com, WhoIs.com, and Wix.com, to name a few). More and more self-starters are taking their businesses online without the help of web designers. So how do you know if you’re doing it right?

Successfully marketing your business online is more than simply having a pretty website (though we certainly appreciate the pretty ones too). The DIY website operator needs one very important tool in his or her skills toolbox: search engine optimization (SEO). Without it, your site will be about as visible as a sandwich board on the side of a dirt road in back-country New Mexico.

So what is SEO, anyway?

SEO is what makes your website show up in Internet searches; knowing some SEO basics can mean the difference between being on page 1 or page 237 of Google search results. You want to make sure your website will be found easily by potential customers.

Can I really do SEO on my own?

Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes! Okay, so maybe you don’t need to be as dramatic as a Jane Austen heroine, but celebration is definitely in order. SEO doesn’t require coding or even knowledge of HTML; it’s about word choice and placement. What’s that? Could it really be that simple? The following SEO tips for beginners should get you started.

1. Use your words

Choose your keywords carefully (these being the words potential visitors are likely to enter into a search engine), and direct their placement even more so. Your primary keyword should be in the page’s URL, your content’s title, the page description, and ideally in the first 50 words of your body text. Keywords should appear throughout your content but not so often as to make the writing feel clumsy or spammy.

2. Tag, you’re it!

Don’t neglect your alt tags and image tags! With every image and link on your page, you have an opportunity to pump up your keyword usage. These tags (the text that appears when you hover your mouse over an image or link) should always be filled in with a concise label or description that contains your primary keyword.

3. A picture is worth a thousand clicks

A trick to jumping ahead in search engine rankings is to use different forms of media. Not only will eye-catching images and interesting videos appeal to visitors to your website, but they’ll also show up in image or video searches and even in regular web results. As Google displays the most relevant videos and images at the top of its results pages, you can sneak into visibility ahead of even the best-optimized text-only websites.

4. Content is king, but you don’t have to be a prince from Bel Air to be fresh!

We can’t stress enough the importance of fresh, relevant content. Visitors to your website won’t stick around (or come back) if what they find was last updated in 2002. That being said, constantly posting updates just for the sake of updating while falling behind on real need or quality won’t help you. Be mindful of what you’re saying when you post. Are you addressing the current needs and inquiries of your customers? Are you staying up to date and on top of trends? Determine a reasonable strategy, whether it means daily social media posts, posting blogs or articles two to three times a week, or seasonal promotions.

5. Feel the need—the need for speed!

Feel the need--the need for speed.Nobody likes a sluggish website. When the next option is only a click away, the chances of a potential customer actually waiting for a stalling website to load are slim to none. Cut down on bandwidth-hogging applications like Flash or JavaScript, and compress your files and images. Page speed is factored into search engine rankings.

6. Stay mobile

The popular build-a-site websites we mentioned earlier each come with arsenals of free templates for the not-so-technically-inclined. Make sure to choose one that is also designed to suit mobile devices. Not only are visitors unlikely to stay on your page if it isn’t readable on their phones and tablets, but Google is now factoring mobile optimization into its ranking system.

7. ‘Cause it’s all about those links, ’bout those links, no bouncing!

Basic but beautiful is the concept of linking back to your own website. Every time you post new content, include a link back to your site, be it to your homepage, landing page, or archive. If you’re using social media to market your business (and you really should be), include links to your website in your posts. Finally, establish relationships with relevant websites so that you can provide links to each other’s sites. Each link means more potential traffic and a greater chance of appearing in search engine results; just make sure that links to your site are appearing on legitimate, relevant pages.

How do I know if it’s working?

What is success if you can’t see it? Take a moment now to sign up for Google Analytics. This comprehensive system of tools lets you track who your customers are, what it is they need, what they’re looking at on your website, and how they’re reacting to it. You can also monitor what paths bring visitors to your website and from what kinds of devices so that you can continue tweaking your site to further drive traffic and conversions. From there, the power is all yours!

Image sources: Leeroy/Stocksnap.io, hingoba/Pixabay.com

 

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15 Ways to Fail at Social Media Marketing (Infographic)

Ways to Fail at Social Media Marketing

When it comes to social media marketing, knowing what not to do can be as important as knowing what to do. The consequences of a mistake can be (at best) losing followers or (at worst) losing your clients’ and potential clients’ trust. Those are pretty high stakes. This infographic lists 15 things to avoid at all costs when executing your business’s social media strategy. If you’d like more information about these tips, check out the full article.

15 Ways to Fail at Social Media Marketing (Infographic)

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9 SEO Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

9 SEO Mistakes to Avoid at All CostsAh, search engine optimization (SEO). There’s nothing quite like trying desperately to make an algorithm favor you to make you miss the good old days of traditional marketing and advertising. You already spend half your life trying to get people to approve of you, and now you have to do the same thing with an abstract online entity? This is not why you went into business.

But the truth is, it doesn’t matter how much you resent SEO best practices. Whether you like it or not, good SEO practices are key to improving your website’s visibility, thereby increasing your traffic and (hopefully) your conversion rates. Try not to think of SEO as just one annoying thing you have to do to maintain your website; instead, think of how it can directly improve your return on investment (ROI). So how can you use SEO best practices to improve your business?

The first thing you can do is avoid making mistakes. SEO newbies—and people who have been in the game for a while but have neglected to keep up with the times—tend to make the same kinds of mistakes when it comes to optimizing their websites. If you can avoid these SEO mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to a well-optimized site:

1. Keyword stuffing

If you’ve ever written copy for a website, you’ve heard about the importance of using keywords for SEO. Using the right keywords can bring the right audience to your website, and optimizing the use of these keywords properly can help get the attention of search engines. But do you know what won’t help you? Keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing looks something like this:

Keyword Stuffing Example

Cramming a keyword as many times as possible into your copy makes one thing very obvious to both readers and search engines: your content is worthless. You don’t have anything valuable to say, so instead you’re using keywords to get people to your site in hopes that getting them there will be enough to get them to convert. But search engines aren’t going to fall for this trick anymore—instead of getting results with keyword stuffing, you’ll find yourself with a keyword-crammed website with very few visitors and a bad ranking on Google.

2. Buying links

The statement “backlinks are important for SEO” isn’t false—it’s just incomplete. The whole truth is that “quality backlinks are important for SEO.” Don’t go around purchasing shoddy links from sketchy sites in hopes that they will increase your traffic and your PageRank. Google will know and, strict disciplinarian that Google is, your site will suffer for a long time for making this rookie SEO mistake.

3. Not updating your site

You’ve spent months creating a beautiful, user-friendly website. You’ve written five helpful blog posts, and you’ve optimized your site using well-researched keywords. Now you sit back and watch the traffic flow, waiting for those visitors to convert to leads and those leads to convert to customers. You’ve been working hard for months; now it’s time for that work to pay off. Right?

Wrong. SEO is a constant effort, and it involves keeping your site active. So you’ve published five great blog posts? That’s awesome, but now you need to make a schedule for posting new posts on a regular basis, and you need to stick to it. If you aren’t constantly updating your content, search engines aren’t going to notice you.

4. Using keywords as an afterthought

There is one way and only one way to use keywords. First, you have to do your keyword research. Then, you have to use that research to determine what you need to write about. That way, you can organically incorporate the right keywords into your copy.

This means that you can’t decide to write something, do keyword research, and try to figure out how to add those keywords into something you’ve already written. Keyword usage needs to be natural. One of the keywords for this blog post, for example, is “SEO mistakes.” You’ll notice that this post is about SEO mistakes, which makes that keyword significantly easier to use than if this post had been about writing blogs. Figure out what people are searching for, and provide them with relevant and helpful information about that topic. You’ll find that keyword integration is something you’ll barely even have to think about.

5. Neglecting social media

Neglecting social media is an SEO mistake.Social media is no longer optional. If people cannot find you on popular sites like Facebook and Twitter, they’re going to seriously question your company’s credibility. You know what else social media is great for? Sharing the material you’ve worked so hard to optimize on your website. Sharing your content means search engines have more places to find it, which means that potential visitors can find you in different places. Building a loyal social media following is also great for brand awareness.

6. Lack of internal links

It may seem somewhat counterintuitive to link to your own content. You may even think that search engines will find this behavior suspicious; after all, shouldn’t your goal be to have other sites link to you for verification of your credibility? Despite what you may think, linking to different pages on your own website is actually a good SEO practice. It helps search engines crawl your website, and it lends greater authority to your site. You should focus on the most important pages of your site and figure out how you can link those pages to things like blog posts. Remember, don’t just do this randomly; only link internally if there is a real connection between the two pages.

7. Not measuring your progress

What’s the first thing you do when you decide to lose weight? In fact, what causes you to want to lose weight? Obviously, you need to start by weighing yourself. Then, you create a strategy for shedding those pounds, and you continue to weigh yourself on a regular basis to ensure that strategy is giving you the results you want. If it isn’t, and you aren’t losing weight, you change the strategy.

Improving your SEO is just like losing weight. You need to know where you are when you start, and you need to keep track of your progress as you go. If you don’t have solid metrics to show your progress (or lack thereof), how will you ever know that your SEO practices have been working? Sure, you may notice vague improvements, but if you can’t identify exactly what these improvements are and what caused them, you’re wasting your time.

8. Not fixing broken links

Search engines crawl websites to figure out how well those sites should rank. You know what search engines don’t like? Being interrupted. And you know what website users don’t like? Clicking on a link that takes them to a big, fat, irritating “404” page, like this one:

Page Not Found Example

Do yourself and your website a favor: make sure there are no broken links on your site. This is all part of keeping your website active and current. Having a few broken links on your site is not going to completely destroy your site’s rank, but it is a small factor to consider when you’re optimizing.

9. Prioritizing links over content

This list of SEO mistakes has made it pretty clear that it’s better to have no links than it is to have bad links. Buying links or submitting your site to sketchy directories is a great way to bomb your website’s ranking. Why? Because search engines know that, instead of creating quality content for your visitors, you’re trying to trick search engines into promoting your page. Content should be your number one priority when it comes to improving your SEO and building a better site. Links should be the consequence of that content. In case I haven’t made this clear, let me put it simply: content first, links later.

Image sources: LoboStudioHamburg/pixabay.com, Marc Chouinard/stocksnap.io

 

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4 Online Marketing Tools to Enhance Your Brand

Boost your online presence and find more clients

Online Marketing ToolsIf you run a business, then you already understand the importance of marketing.

Nowadays, marketing is more than cold calling or direct mail campaigns. To really make an impression, you need to establish a solid online presence and a high level of engagement with your audience. This involves leveraging social media, blogging, email campaigns, and more.

That’s a lot to do for any business. These four online marketing tools will help simplify your efforts and make you feel more confident about your relationships with clients.

1) Infusionsoft

Infusionsoft combines the best of online marketing into one easy-to-use tool. With Infusionsoft, you’ll receive different resources for selling, content marketing, and building an email list.

Infusionsoft brings you closer to your contacts than ever before by allowing you to track their payment histories, lead scores, and email clicks. This information will help you tailor marketing efforts to a specific demographic, using Infusionsoft’s automated email tool.

Good marketers know that an attractive landing page helps entice more customers. Infusionsoft shows you how to optimize your landing page content and monitor lead sources on your website. With a solid focus on eCommerce, Infusionsoft will help you manage payments and close more sales.

If you’re overwhelmed by your workload, Infusionsoft has the tools you need. The interface makes it easy to schedule meetings, track appointments, and follow up with contacts in only a few clicks. It also includes seamless email integration, so you’ll never miss an important message from a client.

2) HubSpot

As one of the most effective lead generation strategies, inbound marketing can provide tons of organic traffic to your website. An industry leader, HubSpot delivers an exceptional inbound marketing platform that will make your interactions with clients more targeted and personal.

This accessible suite of tools lets you leverage your website, social media activity, and SEO to attract customers and convert more leads into sales. HubSpot provides detailed reports all in one place, and its emphasis on collaboration helps put you in sync with the rest of your team. Not only does HubSpot track website traffic and page performance, but it also provides data on email clicks. This information can help you create targeted emails, segmented lists, and timed posts across multiple media channels.

If blogging is more your style, HubSpot makes content creation easy. It provides beautiful templates, SEO tools, and an easy editor for blogging. The tool also automatically optimizes your blog for mobile devices so that your audience can always find and share your content.

3) Oktopost

If you’re a social media fan, you’ll want to check out Oktopost. Designed to meet the specific needs of business-to-business (B2B) marketers, Oktopost helps you manage all of your social media accounts at once.

With Oktopost, you can schedule posts across multiple channels and measure the performance of your content, including clicks and conversions. This information is essential for determining how well your marketing efforts match your bottom line.

Oktopost is also an expert in content curation. It automatically tracks mentions and suggests links to share, so you always have a way to engage with your audience. Oktopost’s social inbox collects comments on your posts in one place, allowing you to respond quickly to customers.

If you’re interested in Oktopost, you can get started with a free 30-day trial, or you can purchase one of four subscription plans. Buying a subscription provides additional user accounts and more detailed performance reports for your website.

4) SlideShare

SlideShare is a popular multimedia tool that takes content marketing to the next level. Using SlideShare, you can instantly upload presentations, documents, infographics, and PDFs. With millions of worldwide users, SlideShare is the perfect platform for sharing original content and promoting your brand.

As a marketing tool, SlideShare helps improve your reputation with search engines. By creating and posting quality content, you can increase your ranking on Google and drive more traffic to your website.

The most compelling SlideShare presentations offer something of value to their readers. Webinars,
how-to posts, and top 10 lists are especially popular because they are evergreen and easy to share on social media. Images and video clips will enhance your SlideShare content and make it more memorable for your audience.

Your presentation should be on a topic that is relevant to your business. It should also include a call to action that points readers to your website. SlideShare can help you generate a lot of great leads, provided you consistently produce high-quality content.

Online marketing tools put your business on the map

There’s no denying it—the marketing world moves quickly. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to leverage the right tools. With these four services in your toolkit, you’ll build brand awareness and nurture your leads more effectively than ever before.

 

Disclosure: If there are links to a product in any of the reviews, a commission may be paid to us if you purchase the product. We will never write a review on a manufacturer’s product, nor will we promote a product, if we believe the product will not be beneficial to you.

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Taking the First Page on Google with SEO Content Writing

Taking the First Page of Google

Taking the First Page of GoogleThere’s nothing worse than spending hours on content writing for your business’s website, only to then lose that content in the abyss that is the Internet. One of the most important parts of creating quality content is taking steps to ensure you have an audience to read it. Writing with SEO principles in mind can help you make sure that your articles aren’t lost in the sea of competing content.

Learn the SEO basics

Before you began marketing your business, you may never have heard about search engine optimization (SEO). That’s okay—most people haven’t. If you haven’t been trained in the basics of SEO, you may not know the best way to catch a search engine’s attention. What you need to do is educate yourself. Learn how to optimize your content so you get the highest number of hits per article possible. There’s lots of SEO information available online, and there are seminars you can attend and courses you can take to improve your SEO knowledge. Knowledge of the SEO basics will allow you to seamlessly incorporate keywords and phrases into your articles to help search engines find your content and your business.

Understand your market

Your SEO strategy will only be effective if you have a good understanding of the market you’re trying to attract. Because you’ll be working to attract your audience on a daily basis, you need to know as much about that audience as you can. Using consumer comment tools is a good way to learn about your readers. Take the feedback you receive from your audience, and use the best of it to ensure that you’re adapting your articles to the people reading them. Keeping your articles in tune with the needs and wants of your readers will help you attract and retain an even larger readership than you may have otherwise.

Focus on quality

Whether you outsource your editing needs or assign them to in-house workers, you should have editors checking your articles, blog posts, and other content for any potential errors. Your editing process should involve multiple sets of eyes looking at your content before you publish it. Quality always trumps quantity, especially when it comes to SEO content writing.

Image source: FirmBee/Pixabay.com