The Power of Keywords to Unlock Professional SEO Services

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We all know Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid search are important, but not everybody knows the tricks to attain a high ranking on your keywords that will optimize your SEO. The import thing to remember is there is no possible way to rank for every keyword. If you Google the word “marketplace,” only major sites such as American Public Media, Firefox, NPR, Second Life, Magento, Amazon and Atlassian show up on the first page of your search. There is no mention of the marketplace you have worked so hard to optimize.

As you can see from the screenshots above with such a high search volume and difficulty level being so high this single word can be next to impossible to rank for. That’s where long tailed keywords can be invaluable for assisting with your SEO. Just by adding a slightly longer tail, I was able to make this keyword optimized for the first page on searches.

It is important not to just randomly select keywords. Best practices is to think of the keywords that will be relevant for your website’s content. This will help people find what they are searching for on your site when they use these specific words. Then you can guarantee that the keywords you choose are helpful to those visiting your site. The keywords should also bring in traffic that will result in very achievable organizational goals. For example I researched keywords for this article and as you can see below, both marketplace SEO services and professional SEO services are very optimized, so I made sure to include them in the copy, title and this SEO blog metatag.

By incorporating deeper, more industry-specific keywords and phrases into your strategy you will get much better results. The better Google favors your long tail keywords, the more traffic you’ll get, and the better chance you’ll have at ranking for your primary keywords. The more times that you can use your keywords within your content the better, but it needs to be written naturally so the content flows naturally.

We are fortunate enough to be able to use Hubspot to manage everything, but it is very important that you utilize all the resources out there to holistically develop your keyword strategy. You can go here to check out a great article on the metrics displayed for your keywords. It goes over each of those metrics and explains how we define them (difficulty, visits, CPC, etc.).

I use the Google keyword planner to assist in my research. The Google Adwords Planner will allow you to enter a keyword, and then Google will show you if there are similar keywords to that which are being searched for more often. For example, you may want to use the word “marketplace”, but Google will show you that more users search for the word “marketplace” per month and assists you in determining if there is a more appropriate keyword to use to try to rank your website higher.

I then take the Google keywords and plug them into our Hubspot enterprise and compare them to the hundreds of optimized keywords I am already tracking for our company. Hubspot put together this article on keyword tips which goes over best practices for putting together a good list of keywords for your site. I also track what keywords are working good for competitors. Be sure to check out this great blog postwhich goes into detail about how to research your keywords and get the most out of your keywords in general to help you attain top search engine rank.

Everybody has their own system, the key is to find the system that works for you, using these processes. It can also be very helpful to develop your long-tail keyword strategy around terms that your target market is searching for. For example instead of just using “marketplace” you can utilize the following long-tail keyword examples to raise your ranking. Any keyword with a ranking below 50 can be beneficial.

There is not a one all for one tool to select your keywords. It takes common sense and these kinds of tools to optimize your SEO.Best practices are to ask yourself what your target audience may be looking for and use the tools to analyze those keywords and get more optimized examples. Your keyword research can go a long way in your content mapping and planning your SEO. We have actually increased our organic search ranking by over 400 percent since I implemented our analytics and keywords strategy.

If you put in the time and research the same can happen to you. It can help you refine your writing, or even discover new ideas to write about. It is crucial that before you publish your exciting new blog, article or landing page, you take the time to research, evaluate and refine your long-tail keyword strategy. I have faith that you can become a SEO guru. Good luck and feel free to reach out anytime with any thoughts or questions!

Originally published on Near Me.

Technology doesn’t weaken business connections, it levels the playing field

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I am the networking king and love technology for providing me the ability to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships. I exchange information and ideas, potential possibilities and engage with my connections by utilising technology.

I maintain my focus, and keep my eye on the long-term goal of making solid, long-lasting physical connections that will benefit me over to the course of my life.

I am one of “those” people that holistically mix my business life with my personal life and everything I do is a means to an end. For example, I do a lot of social media marketing consulting and build up my personal brand (means) to make myself more attractive to potential clients (end). The advancements in technology and the rise of social media have been instrumental in helping me and society as a whole achieve those means. By using technology, I am able to stay connected and search out almost anybody in the world very easily.

Image credit: Getty images

Some people see it that we are hiding behind our computer screens and smartphones and this limits social interactions, but I see it as another exciting new means to an end. Why do you think the call it “social” media? People say we text too much, but short to the point text messages are just taking the place of long drawn out phone call. That’s why they call it technological advances.

Some argue that our lives look too perfect in our social media feeds and that we spend too much time on them, but I see it as social media pushing us to excel at our lives. Technology is great for helping you to make smarter and quicker decisions. It’s easy to see there’s value in technology, but we shouldn’t forget the value of connecting emotionally with a face-to-face physical meeting.

Technology should by means take the place of personal interactions, but should work hand in hand to lead us to a more efficient and fulfilled life. If you have 10,000 followers on Twitter, odds are that a few more of them are going to help you out over your 10 real life connections. I am not arguing with the fact that human interaction is very important, I am just pointing out the fact that technology can only help your human interaction if used correctly. It is also equally important to remember to use technology to build real-life relationships to live a fulfilling life.

Image credit: Getty images

My life revolves around technology as one of the top Social Media Consultants and Global President of Social Media Club (the biggest professional social media organisation in the world). I have not met many of my clients in person and lead hundreds of people around the world remotely and that would not be possible without technology. I found out about the Social Media Club from a Twitter post recruiting to join their global board. I applied and was voted on without meeting anybody in person. I eventually met a couple of the other local board members in real life, but moved up to President a year later after only meeting 20 per cent of our board in person.

I have done some of the most exciting things in my life as President of Social Media Club. It has opened up doors that I would not have the opportunity to walk through otherwise. For example, my good friend and colleague, Ali Sabkar, invited me out to share my social media success stories to thousands of people in his region at the Social Media Masters summit at the Kingdom of Bahrain. I’ll be honest with you, this was the first time I had given a presentation to the public before, but thanks in part to my awesome social media interactions giving me support and making me feel strong, it went very well. I made so many awesome real life connections on that trip that happened because of technology.

I have endless, similar stories and am always looking forward to the new doors that technology opens for me. Technology also levels the playing field for people that may have a difficult time achieving everything they set out to do. I would like to share with you my own personal story of what technology can do to for you, in hope that you may feel inspired. The value of technology is unquestionable. I strongly suggest you embrace it and figure out how to best harness it for your own needs or risk becoming obsolete!

I originally posted this article in Virgin Entrepreneur.

Optimize your LinkedIn Profile for Success

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LinkedIn is one of the oldest social networks and has 430 million members in more than 200 countries. LinkedIn is the hub for professional online networking, and with two new members joining every second, it is essential for your job search and lead generation. I have put together this guide with tips to optimize your profile so you can build your brand image and make the most out of your business connections.

It is very important to make sure that every section of your profile has been completed and that there are no blank spaces or obvious gaps. Your LinkedIn profile is your online resume, so it is best practices to set it up similar to your normal resume. You need to add your industry, location, current position, 2 past positions, education, three skills, 50 connections and a professional profile picture that represents your industry to achieve an All-Star status. It is best practices to have the same profile picture across your online portfolio and the ideal LinkedIn pixel size is between 200 x 200 to 500 x 500. You can also brand your profile with a background image. The best size for your profile background image is 1400 x 425 pixels.

Be sure and set up your vanity URL. Nobody is attracted to view a URL with a bunch of mismatched numbers at the end. Best practices for SEO is to use your first and last name: https://www.linkedin.com/in/goldenashby. You can go here and click “customize your public profile URL” on the right-hand side. It is still important to have written recommendations from colleagues, management, employees, classmates, vendors or customers. LinkedIn no longer requires three recommendations to have a complete status, but is still best practices to have recommendations and endorsements.  

You need to add your skills and the more people that endorse you for a certain skill will increase your optimization. Endorsements are when your network clicks on a certain skill that they feel you are proficient at. The more endorsements you have for a specific skill, the more likely that you’ll come up in the search results when someone is searching for that skill. For example, I have 99+ people who have endorsed me for “social media marketing” and “online marketing.” When somebody is searching for people with these skills, it is very likely that I will show up on the first few pages of the search results.

I am all for making your personal brand stand out on LinkedIn.  It can be as simple as customizing your website. I added personal company name and Pinterest to replace the generic versions.  This will help optimize your profile and drive traffic to your other sites. Each profile can display up to three website links like this, and they can be customized by editing your profile, clicking edit on your website links, and selecting “other” in the drop-down menu to customize the anchor text.

Be sure to add any certifications, awards, volunteer experience or organizations you care about. You may want to add a projects section to your profile, especially if you are a Consultant. You can easily enter the name of your project and input a URL that will hyperlink the title, after adding this section. You can also add Team Members, and if you are connected to them, their name will hyperlink to their LinkedIn profile. Follow all the companies you are interested in and start networking with relevant connections. You can get lots of great info from joining Groups in your industry. It also helps to post in a few of your best groups, so your profile will get highlighted by industry experts. You can read up on best practices of LinkedIn groups to get the most out of your participation.

One of the top ways to optimize your profile for search engines is to add keywords, your specialties and what you want to be searched for. Best practices is to add these keywords to your summary, specialties, career history and personal interests. I have found that replacing your job title with your most relevant keywords helps optimize a lot.

Now that you have your profile optimized, it’s time to build out your network. LinkedIn has a very nice integration with your email contacts and is a great way to start. Be sure to connect with anybody you interact with professionally. This can be anybody from coworkers, clients, hiring managers to people you went to college with. Be sure to add a personal note reminding your connection request where you know them from. Now that you have your LinkedIn profile optimized people will send you introduction requests as well. I get hundreds of requests every week. Some people are very selective about the people that they connect with, but I feel you never know when your industry colleagues may be able to help you. My Golden Rule of networking is simple: Don’t miss an opportunity.

You are now ready to get out there and start connecting professionally on the world’s largest professional network. Good luck and please let me know if you have any thoughts or questions.

I originally posted this article on Near Me.

Social Media Tips for Shoestring Entrepreneurs

shutterstock_185848994.jpgSocial media marketing is definitely a catchy phrase right now. With so many brands doing awesome things on social media, sometimes we forget about the little people.  I have written about the best practices of social media content marketingFacebook marketingsocial media customer service, and starting your New Year social media with a bang! But what about those young entrepreneurs that are just getting started on a shoestring budget? You don’t have time to waste and here are some things to keep in mind.

Choosing the right platform is crucial

You have a limited budget and time. You don’t want to waste all of your time and resources on Facebook if your target audience is on Twitter and LinkedIn. Having a Facebook page is great, but having 10,000 “likes” doesn’t necessarily translate into sales. Visual networks such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook are best for consumer-facing businesses, but if you are trying to reach key executives, I suggest you focus on  Twitter and LinkedIn.  Forbes states that LinkedIn is the top social network for CEO’s.

Engage, engage, engage

Content, audience building, and conversation are the highlights of any strong social media plan. It is very important to deliver value before selling. Great ways to do this is to have content that educates, inspires and answers questions. For example, I usually recommend that 70% of your updates on Twitter be industry related third-party content. It is best practices to promote your own content just 30% of the time. Be sure to make lists of key industry leaders to easily retweet and tweet to them. Your followers will see this engagement and join in the conversation.

Use social sharing to maximise exposure

Having social sharing buttons on your company website or blog can really highlight your brand and get you a lot more exposure for free. We use WordPress and there are lots of social sharing plugins you can use on that platform. Most website developers know how to implement them on any platform. Add This to make a nice social sharing solution in free and pro packages, depending on your requirements. If you don’t have social sharing on your blog then the free version should be great to get you started.

Content planning is crucial  

It is getting clearer and clearer every day that social media marketing and content marketing are synonymous. Content marketing can obviously exist without social media, but your content marketing campaign is no longer complete unless you include social media. It is very important to stay on top of the key content marketing tips for the top social media sites.

Produce budgeted social media campaign’s

Low-budget marketing campaigns are most successful for ‘warm leads.’ With just 20 people on your email list, you can run a Facebook Custom Audience campaign. Select ‘Look Alike’ targeting to find more people who profile like your customers. Twitter Cards can be great to capture leads. Your users can click on your card to get your information, and you get contact info from their Twitter profile. The great thing about them is you only pay when you receive contact information for a potential lead.

Listen to get results

When your resources are limited, the need to know what’s working and not working for your social media strategy becomes more crucial than ever. Gaining insight into where and how your competitors are succeeding and struggling on social media, as well as conducting an audit of your own, is the best way to understand both your position in the market and your target audience. Social listening toolsare available for free to help you to carry out this analysis.

Shoot for quality and quantity

In every successful social media marketing strategy, it is smart to map your customer’s journey from a complete stranger to a devoted fan. Start by defining your ideal customers. Make the first move to engage them by following them on social media.  Work to earn their trust and deliver value via content and conversations, then your followers and fans will start to trust you and what you are selling. If you can devote time and effort to this strategy, you can sit back and watch the sales roll in!

I originally posted this article on Near Me. 

Social Media Marketing Content Success Tips

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We are well into 2016 and it is becoming clearer and clearer every day that social media marketing and content marketing are synonymous. Content marketing can obviously exist without social media, but your content marketing campaign is no longer complete unless you include social media. It is very important to stay on top of the key content marketing tips for the the top social media sites.

It’s crucial to remember that social media requires a fully developed effort from content marketers. If you’re going to grow your presence and maximize your content marketing strategy, it is best practices to focus your social in everything. You need to emphasize the importance of driving leads to these platforms both on-line and offline. Everything you do needs to revolve around driving people to your social platforms. Otherwise, your content marketing efforts won’t have an audience.

Skim Facebook newsfeed to tell your story

I recommend you write your text for skim readers. There is no limits on length of Facebook posts, but it is best practices to consider the decreasing attention span of users. A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that people have an attention span of 8 seconds. When applying that to Facebook posts, the first three to four words of your update are crucial to grabbing your audience’s attention.

When choosing content types for your posts, take time to analyze your business and audience. For example, if you want to drive traffic to your blog, the link format likely would work well for you. On the other hand, if brand awareness is your main goal, images and videos are a better fit. When you post a link on Facebook, it creates the metadata automatically and this can be edited. All you need to do is change the description metadata to fit the post description and suit the current context. Facebook is a personalized newspaper. If you want to reach the modern consumer, you need to put your content in their newsfeed.

Tweet your story in 100 characters or less

You should share a variety of content on Twitter. Your text should be short and sweet. A simple type of tweet is great for updates, news, quick facts, and asking your followers questions. Tweets that are 100 characters or less tend to get higher conversions. It helps a lot to highlight your message with a picture that will add an impact to your tweet. Photos stand out more, getting more impressions and more engagements on your content. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a video would speak millions. Videos, if integrated into your message, could drastically improve your ability to put your message in front of the right audience.

People love facts and figures. Use statistics that support the arguments you’re making in your content. If your post mentions any publications, industry influencers, etc., make sure to mention them in your promotions. They will be honored and there’s a good chance they’ll share it, so you’ll reach all their followers too. Add a hashtag to boost its reach, and give a clear idea of what the link is leading to. When creating a Twitter content marketing strategy, it’s a good idea to devote your time and resources into using a strong image.

Tell your visual story with Instagram

For content marketers, Instagram can be puzzling. That’s because most content marketers aren’t super savvy at visual content marketing. This is about to change, though. The industry is clearly heading in the direction of more visual content and less text-based content, which means you need to study what successful brands are doing on Instagram and other similar social platforms.

It is very important to use quality images on Instagram in order to accurately portray your story. Storytelling is a powerful tool in all marketing. When it comes to Instagram, you are given the same storytelling opportunities. By using visual content, you can create an experience for your customers, clients and followers so they feel engaged and valued. Hashtags have become synonymous with social media and can be used on virtually every network to find, track, share, and participate in topics of interest. On Instagram, hashtags are the best thing since sliced bread, connecting users to images they might be interested in.

I feel the heart of content marketing is social media. If you want your strategies to be complete, focusing on effective distribution and traffic generation is a good place to start. These two aspects of content marketing can help you to maximize your returns and expose your brand to a larger market of consumers. I hope this helps with your own endeavours. Just like with everything else, I recommend that you test out what works for you and adjust. Good luck and feel free to send me a tweet with any thoughts.

I originally posted on Near Me.

Top Leadership Qualities to Take on the World

 

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Over the past 15+ years, I’ve been fortunate enough to manage large teams for some of the best brands in the world. I’ve also served as the global president of the biggest professional social media organization in the world, Social Media Club. While some leadership qualities can be taught, many you are born with. I never waited for somebody to ask me to take charge, I just saw the need and owned it. Like many other leaders, I tend to lead whenever the opportunity arrises. You have to be comfortable leading, know your strengths and be able to connect with people, but if you don’t, you can learn how to with these tips.

Be organized and make lists. I’m always up until the wee hours of the morning making lists on my iPhone of things that need to get done for the week. If you’re a morning person, make your lists then — what matters is that the lists get made so you can feel good when crossing off the completed tasks.  Time management is key to your success and leaders know how to use it effectively to get the job done!

Great leaders listen and are open to the opinions of others. Being a leader doesn’t mean forcing others to always agree with you, but to listen to other’s opinions and then evaluate what the best practices are moving forward. People tend to follow leaders who they believe in and who they feel are accurately representing them. A good leader shapes communities by listening to his/her intuition.

It’s also important to give back. I do so through my Social Media Club nonprofit, but find the organization that connects to you. As social media marketing is my passion, I love helping others in this area. Being president of a global non-profit is not without its challenges though. You have to draw upon all of your leadership training, but at the same time, be empathetic and realistic. Turnover rate will be high. That is a given, but the bonds you will form, connections you will make and things you will accomplish will be priceless.

Good leaders excel at delegating the workload. Take Steve Jobs for example. The Apple co-founder was a notorious micromanager. Jobs was the one in charge of soliciting goals from staffeach year, and before big meetings, always assigned someone to be in charge of each item on the agenda. It doesn’t matter what style of management you feel most comfortable with, the crucial part to leading is knowing who on your team can get the job done. Being able to see who isn’t, and knowing when to replace them, is also an important leadership trait.

Be open to change! In today’s fast-paced, competitive, and mobile world, leaders have more opportunities and greater necessity than ever to engage their workforce. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Good leaders learn more from past mistakes and have the courage to make new ones. Leaders aren’t afraid to be original and they always ask questions. They never stop learning! Leaders are worthy of that trust and organically lead by example.

While not all good leaders are as devoted to fitness as I am, it only helps to exercise regularly. It’s a proven fact that the endorphins from exercise increase productivity. Those endorphins also increase confidence, which is a huge part of being a successful, natural leader. It can be as easy as a walk at your lunch break to recharge, or a quick gym break if that’s accessible.

Last but not least, good leaders don’t show off in order to brag or intimidate their staff. Top leaders today care less about credentials and more about great ideas, wherever those ideas come from. These leaders check their egos at the door and aren’t afraid to say that they don’t have all the answers. They admit when they don’t know and look to others to holistically make the changes required to take their business to the next level!

I hope this helps with your own personal leadership endeavours. I recommend that you take what advice I am giving here and implement it into your own personal leadership style. Test it out and see what works for you. Feel free to reach out to me anytime on Twitter for advice and good luck!

I originally posted this article on Near Me.

Enhance Your Customer Service With Social Media Engagement!

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More and more consumers are turning to social media first to voice complaints, have complicated situations resolved, and express concerns in the case of a crisis. Studies have found people often use social media as first preference to voice a complaint, rather than channels including phone, face to face, email or  web chat.

I blogged about this earlier in the month, but despite being one of the best ways to deal directly with consumers, customer support via social media is an area where most brands could still use some help. Here are some brands that are doing a great job at customer service that we could all pick up tips from.

  • JetBlue Highlights Responsiveness on Twitter:

We all dread airline delays are one of the most common causes of customer frustration. JetBlue does an exceptional job of keeping customers calm by being responsive to their customers on Twitter.  They engage with happy customers, and more importantly they respond to and help frustrated customers as quickly as possible. What makes JetBlue stand out from the rest is that they are extremely responsive to customers mentioning their brand in an @ reply or direct message. Twitter is a channel where customers expect quick responses and bigger companies will start to get @ mentions and inquiries fast. Many companies dedicate full-time employees to the task of responding to customers and potential customers on Twitter.

  • Walmart champions Facebook:

With over 32 million Facebook fans, Walmart certainly has a lot on their plate when satisfying customers. If you take a look at any comment thread on Walmart’s posts, you’ll see numerous responses to feedback and customer complaints from the company. The retail giant sees complaints often, buy the company always responds in a friendly and professional manner and works with customers to solve their issues or direct them to someone who can be of more assistance. They are a great example for other companies to follow when learning how to turn their own dreaded customer complaints on social media into a beneficial thing for everybody involved.

  • Starbucks rocks Facebook and Twitter:

Starbucks does on awesome job of customer service on both Facebook and Twitter. The coffee giant is active and quick to respond to customer questions and complaints on its Facebook pageand is engaging and fun with its customers on Twitter. Starbucks does a great job of bringing personality to its social media. Starbucks also started a separate Twitter account to help them engage with customers. It’s a great place for customers to go discuss ideas to make Starbucks better.

  • Nike Focused Customer Service:

Nike is well known for their excellent customer service support on social media. They were one of the first to figure out that a dedicated customer service channel was a good idea. One of the things that makes them so good is their quick responses and the fact that they’re there 7 days a week. They also tweet with their support Twitter account a lot more than from their main account. The support account had over 444K tweets, while the main account had tweeted only just over 21K times! Nike also has a very responsive and helpful Facebook app that is devoted to customer service.

  • Whole Foods Holistically Engages Customers:

Last but not least, Whole Foods’ Twitter account does a top notch job of engaging its customers. They share everything from healthy recipes to relevant news stories and even hosts regular Twitter chats. They do a good job of getting their followers talking about the brand on social media, too — it frequently sends out calls to action, asking Twitter users interesting questions or encouraging them to share recipes or pictures. Due to this kind of engagement, Whole Foods gained a million Twitter followers in their first year and they have almost 5 million followers. Whole Foods Market is the most popular retailer on Twitter and is a leading example of Twitter’s power to build millions of relationships a single customer at a time.

As data and technology continue to enhance the customer experience, it’s up to brands to think about how they can adopt best practices to create more meaningful and cohesive brand experiences.

As social media continues to enhance brand experiences, companies must use innovative new ways to channel those experiences to remain relevant.

I originally posted this article on Near Me.