We have just added a new coupon at CouponChief.com

Check it out, and save $30 off your next $139 press release distribution package.

http://www.couponchief.com/24-7pressrelease

http://blog.24-7pressrelease.com/2013/02/18/737/

Suggestions to Maintain Website Visitor Growth

What’s frustrating about SEO and online marketing in general is that it often takes time to see an improvement in website traffic.  However, as time goes on and the site has been optimized, a link building strategy has been created and implemented, and social media activity remains consistent there should be a gradual increase in traffic.  The goal is for the traffic volume to continue to improve steadily.  If you find that your website traffic has hit a wall and traffic has reached a plateau, that’s when it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and try some new strategies.  Writing blog posts and press releases and sharing them in social media can really only get you so far. 

Here are 4 additional ways to continue to improve traffic efforts:

Look for guest blog posting opportunities

Blogging is a great online marketing strategy for many reasons.  Not only do business blog posts provide potential customers/clients with valuable information about your company and industry but they also serve an important SEO function.  Blog posts provide the opportunity to inner link to other pages of the site.  They are also valuable from a social media sharing perspective.  In order to improve your social signals for search purposes it’s necessary to share content in social media that is worthy of sharing.  A great blog post will get shared, re-tweeted, promoted, etc.  Writing for your own web property is a great start, but it’s suggested to branch out and look for writing opportunities on other related industry sites.  In addition to generating quality links back to your site that improve search engine trust, it can also improve visibility among target audience members and the links can generate direct traffic back to the site. 

Try new content formats

While blogging is an important component of online marketing today, it is really only one content outlet.  People like to consume content in various formats, so creating content in various formats is a great way to improve exposure.  Don’t be afraid to try something new.  Experiment with webinars, eBooks, infographics, videos, white papers, etc.  Each of these pieces of content has the potential to gain attention from target audience members and get them to convert.  A good strategy is to use your previous blog posts as inspiration.  Repurpose blog post content and turn it into one of these different formats. 

Email marketing

No matter what you’ve heard, email marketing is still an effective tactic as long as it’s implemented properly.  People are always checking their email and if you can provide them with something of value, it will get opened.  While it can be difficult to generate a quality opt in list of subscribers, it’s worth the effort because you know that the recipients are interested in what you have to say.  If you already are active in email marketing, take a look at the data and see what the open rate is.  Maybe you need to make a few minor tweaks. 

Online advertising

If your website traffic has hit a wall one option to look into is online advertising.  Banner advertising is usually hit or miss depending on the niche.  The better option is usually to invest in PPC.  PPC can be expensive depending on the keywords that you are targeting but it can generate visitors.  It also helps achieve organic traffic in an indirect way.  If a searcher sees your brand in both the organic and paid section of a search engine results page it qualifies that your site has what they are looking for. 

About the Author:

Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing, a B2B SEO firm.  For more information call 781-999-1222 or visit http://www.brickmarketing.com.

Press Release Topic Ideas for SEO

One relatively easy way to generate backlinks and traffic to your website is to write and distribute a press release using a paid distribution service anytime there is anything newsworthy going on in your business.  An online press release that is distributed through a paid service allows links in the body of the release.  This can help grow your link portfolio and improve the trust and authority of your site over time if the releases get picked up by reputable news sources.  Online press releases also help from an online reputation management perspective.  Online press releases typically appear in the search engines for branded search terms.  Unfortunately there is no guarantee that there won’t ever be any negative content posted about your business online.  Positive content (like press releases) should outweigh any negative content to keep attention away from anything negative.

Press release topics need to be newsworthy.  If there is nothing “new” about the release, it won’t get picked up and it may even be rejected by the editor of the press release distribution site.  However, there is no need to over think the release.  Anything “new” can be newsworthy and can be turned into a great press release with the correct writer.  If you aren’t sure what topic could be turned into a press release, here are some ideas:

New employee

Depending on the size of your business, it’s possible that you are hiring someone new every other week.  If that’s the case, it isn’t recommended to send out a press release each time.  You might want to save it for when a higher level executive is hired.  However, if you operate a small business, hiring a new employee is definitely newsworthy.  Send out a press release about the new hire, the position that they will hold, and how they will be contributing to your business.  It’s a good opportunity to also showcase what your company has to offer.

New product/service

Over time a company should evolve and add new products and services to keep up with the demand of consumers.  Writing and publishing a press release is a great way to promote the new offerings of your company.

Event sponsorship

Offline marketing efforts can help improve online marketing efforts if you know how to leverage them.  For SEO purposes, event sponsorship provides many opportunities.  You should be able to obtain a link from the event website. It can also help with content marketing.  In addition to announcing the sponsorship via a press release, you can also write blog posts before, during, and after the event.

New office

If your company is growing it’s likely that you will need new office space to accommodate that growth.  If your business if moving from one location to another it is a newsworthy event, especially in the town that you are moving to as it is creating more jobs in that area.

Awards

Anytime your business or an employee wins an award, you should want to brag about it.  Awards can generate business to your company.  When people conduct a branded search and see a press release stating that the company won an award, they will be more likely to do business with you.

About the Author:

Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing, a Boston SEO firm.  For more information call 781-999-1222 or visit http://www.brickmarketing.com.

3 Ways to Improve Your Local Search Presence

As the results that appear when conducting a search become more personalized based on location and people are increasingly searching on a mobile device while on the go, local SEO is becoming more and more crucial.  When someone conducts a search, the search engines determine what establishments are the closest that offer what they need, assuming that the searcher is looking for what’s most convenient.  Therefore, it’s necessary to use specific tactics in order to convey to the search engines (and target audience members) where exactly your business is located.

Incorporate these 3 tactics into your SEO strategy to improve local search efforts and generate more local traffic to your site:

Incorporate local keywords onto the website

Whether you are targeting a local audience or a national audience, the first step of an SEO campaign is the same.  The first thing that needs to be done is keyword research.  This will give you an understanding of how people are searching.  You never want to simply assume which keywords to use because it could result in missed opportunities.  If you are targeting a local audience, keywords will need to be localized by including the city or the city and the state.  For larger areas, like big cities, it makes sense to niche it down even further by targeting a specific neighborhood.  This is especially a good idea for local businesses that have lots of competition in a small area, like take out dinner establishments.

Add contact information to every page of the website

There are certain elements of a website that are necessary to include because they help to convey trust to the website visitor.  Some people are still wary about what they find online, so it’s important to include contact information to confirm that you are, in fact, a real business.  This is especially important for a local business that people are going to physically visit.  Include the address, mailing address (if different), and phone number on every page of the site so that people don’t have to go looking for a contact page.  Include the names of the towns, neighborhoods, or cities that you serve along with contact info in the footer.  Remember, the phone number digits should be separated by dashes (ex. 555-000) so that people can easily click on it and call from their mobile device.

Activate local business listings

One of the first items on your local link building strategy should be to submit information to and activate profiles on local directories.  For local search, Google displays Google+ Local profiles prominently above the fold.  If yours isn’t verified and doesn’t include much information, it probably won’t appear.  Bing and Yahoo! also have local business directories.  It’s easy to fill out the information and go through the verification process.  Basic listings are free, but there are Enhanced Listing options that may include photos, company logos, and a more detailed business description.  There are plenty of other local directory sites to submit information to like Yellow Pages, Super Pages, and Local.com.  All of these profiles will appear for a branded search.

About the Author:

Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing, a Boston area SEO firm.  For more SEO tips, subscribe to the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter.

Should I Keep Blogging?

If you have put some time and effort into setting up a blog, posting regular updates, and attempting to share your posts and engage with your blogging community, but you’re still not seeing many results, business owners will often ask: “Should I keep blogging? Is there any point?”

The quick answer is: “Often, yes.”

There are a few things that you might be missing. For example, your blog may be low on views, or comments, but if it is hosted on your company website, the updated and refreshed content could still be really helping your site in the search engines. Search engines love fresh content but people don’t often have a reason to update their company’s “About Us” page on a regular basis. Having a blog page on your site is a great way of keeping your site’s content new in an authentic way, which can only help your search engine ranking. So it’s often good to consider the benefits your blog may be providing that aren’t as easy to see.

If your blog is not hosted on your website, then rather than stopping blogging, consider moving your blog over to your site, and that way you are at least gaining some benefit.

If you honestly feel that the blog is taking up too much time and energy, then perhaps revisit the frequency with which you are blogging. Cutting it down may help balance out the effort to results ratio.

You can also revisit your content. Are your blog posts easy to read – are they fairly brief (200-300 words is a good guideline), interesting and well written, without too many grammar errors or typos to distract the reader? You can use a blogging service if you don’t feel confident writing your own posts.

Lastly, it can often be as simple as the blog design that is off-putting to readers. Aesthetics are everything, after all! Consider the size of your font – is it too small? The font itself may even be hard to read, so consider changing that. The blog’s interface design could be too bare or too cluttered – try changing that. Or incorporate images or video into your posts – online readers love multimedia.

Try out these changes before quitting your blog altogether. And remember – sometimes things just take time to grow, just like business! So stick with it.

The Power of Blogging, Part 3

The folks at Prompt Proofing, a copywriting, editing and proofreading service that also offers blogging services, finish off their 3-part guest post on the power of blogging:

We have talked about two major benefits of business blogging in Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series. We have discussed how a blog allows you to have your own voice on the world wide web, and how you have the opportunity to become known as an expert in your field through informative and interesting blog posts. Today we finish up with a major benefit of business blogging – this benefit is the main reason many businesses start a blog in the first place:

INCREASE TRAFFIC TO YOUR SITE

That’s right, that elusive Google ranking can start creeping up without the expense of an SEO consultant or a huge marketing campaign. It could be as simple as keeping a blog. How does that work?

There are several factors to improving your SEO rank, and here are a few:

  • Increase the number of quality ‘backlinks’ to your site (backlinks are other sites linking to your website)
  • Get your website indexed by Google and other major search engines (this means they will ‘spider’ or ‘crawl’ your website and log your individual web pages as results to potential searches in their search engine)
  • Refresh your content regularly – new content leads to an increase in indexing, which leads to an improvement in your SEO ranking as websites whose content never changes tend to get pushed down in relevance by search engines

How can blogging help? Well, congratulations if you thought that the last bulletpoint above is the most important benefit of blogging. If you have a professional, attractive-looking business website, it probably took you some time to put it together. You may have used a website copywriting service (which Prompt Proofing offers) to ensure your content was word-perfect, and that’s a great idea. But that means you don’t want to change it much once it is posted. Therefore, your content is not going to be regularly updated, meaning you will miss out on that crucial benefit to SEO ranking. The search engines will continue to push your website down the rankings until it barely even factors anymore.

Well, simply add a blog page to your site. Update it once a week or – at the very least – once a month, and bingo! Your website is suddenly being regularly refreshed with new content and will start to crawl its way back up the search engine rankings.

As for the first two bulletpoints above, the statistics below will help show how blogging helps out with these.

The statistics below are courtesy of Janet Meiners Thaeler, an SEO consultant who provided them in her article, Blogging: The Best SEO Tool for Small Businesses:

Bloggers see:

  • 55% more visitors to their websites (people will be finding your site who wouldn’t have before because they are looking for the information provided in your latest blog post – as discussed in Part 1)
  • 97% more links to their website (people will link back to your blog if they think it’s worth a read)
  • 434% more indexed pages (more blog posts means more pages for the search engines to crawl and index!)

You can’t fight statistics! Get blogging now to see a huge improvement in your business website’s performance.

The Power of Blogging, Part 2

Continuing their guest post series is Prompt Proofing, a copywriting, editing and proofreading service that also offers blogging services for business:

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the fact that a blog provides you with the unique opportunity of having your own voice, speaking directly to customers, Internet readers, other business owners and more. This week’s benefit elaborates on this. Not only does a blog provide you with a unique opportunity to show off your own style of communication and, therefore, business, but it also gives you a forum through which to educate your readers. Therefore, this week’s benefit of business blogging:

BECOME KNOWN AS AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD

If you are in business, chances are it is because you have specialized knowledge in one or more areas. For example, if you are in trades, then you have specialized knowledge in the area of plumbing, welding, bricklaying, electrics, etc. This is knowledge that John Doe walking down the street doesn’t have. If you’re an accountant, you know how to balance books and handle complex financial information. If you’re a lawyer, you know the letter of the law inside and out – or at least you know how to find it out! If you’re a hairstylist, you know what you’re doing with a pair of scissors close to a head of hair.

You get the point. You have something to offer; a niche (however small) to fill. That’s why you are in business. Use this knowledge and exhibit it in your blog and there’s a good chance you could become known as an expert in your field. So what, you ask? Well, here are just a few of the results that could come from being recognized for your specialized knowledge:

  1. Your blog could develop a following of people who want inspiration, information and education in a certain area.
  2. Through this following, your presence on social media is bound to increase as people spread the word and share your blog. This is the best form of advertising: FREE and reliable for the customer (people trust word-of-mouth referrals far more than any paid business advertisement).
  3. You could even become a consultant for a journalist. Journalists often have a ‘beat’ that they cover, meaning that they tend to focus on writing stories on one type of news, such as finance, travel, entertainment or sports. Generally, each journalist will have a list of experts they can consult for quotes and background information on issues they need to write about. Yet again, more advertising that is respected and FREE!

These benefits certainly help to outweigh the cons that many business owners fear – if I give away my secrets, how will I have a business anymore? Well, I promise that by giving some DIY tips to a home owner looking to do some renovations, you won’t be put out of business. If anything it will save you working on small, poorly-paying jobs, and will instead give you the promotion to land larger jobs where no one will attempt DIY, even if they have read your blog for advice! Just choose what you blog on carefully. For example, a hairstylist can blog about ideas for styling hair or updos, or can post photos of great colours or cuts that the reader can then take to her hairstylist to replicate. That doesn’t mean people will stop getting their hair cut professionally. An accountant can provide information on how to keep a personal budget and good tools to use to manage your personal finances. This doesn’t mean businesses will stop requiring accountants to balance their books throughout the fiscal year.

Blogs create a win-win situation for everyone, especially the small business owner. Take advantage of this!

The Power of Blogging, Part 1

This 3-part blog post series is provided by Pat Wootton of the copywriting, editing and proofreading company, Prompt Proofing, who offer blogging services:

No matter what your area of business, even if it is as seemingly localized and simplistic as a lawn-mowing service, you cannot ignore the power of the blog in today’s world of business.

True, the area of social media as a whole is vital but this has become such a daunting subject, deserving of several months of blog posts to even scratch its surface, that it is easier to focus on one area, and the blog is certainly one effective and very doable area in which businesses can market themselves at a low cost, reach a whole new demographic of customers and dictate their entire brand image.

Because even the blog is a huge area of interest and study, we will analyze its benefits to business over a series of blog posts, focusing on one core advantage each week.

This week, we have advantage #1, perhaps one of the most important benefits of all:

YOUR BLOG = YOUR VOICE

Yes, even if you aren’t writing it yourself!

Many businesses use a blogging service, and Prompt Proofing also manages blogs for its clients, writing and posting blog posts on a regular basis in order to keep up the company’s search engine presence and provide the blog’s readers with regular, informative news that is well written.

The fact of the matter is, with marketing and word-of-mouth whispers between current and potential customers, a blog is the one space in that vast web of the Internet that you can dominate and claim as your own, allowing you to exert some influence over how your business is perceived.

Readers much prefer reading a business’s blog to its marketing materials because, quite simply, they don’t feel as though you are trying to sell to them. Obviously you are, as there would be no point in putting your time and energy into a business blog if you didn’t eventually hope to gain some customers from it, but the fact is, you cannot maintain a sales pitch throughout every single blog post (or at least, you shouldn’t).

Blogs read more informally than marketing literature, and are there to provoke discussion and provide information rather than simply to persuade the reader to hand over their credit card. Prompt Proofing’s blog is a great example – we essentially charge people to improve their communication and writing, yet we constantly write blog posts advising you how to improve your own writing. That’s because we recognize that education and information are two key factors that bring people to peruse blogs and we don’t want to just sell our services to you. We want you to find something of interest to read on our site, and – because it is our passion – we desperately want to improve spelling and grammar everywhere!

Let’s go back to our example of ABC Lawn Mowers Ltd. Their blog posts could cover issues such as how to care for your garden or what model of lawn mower to buy. That’s right, they could be providing information about how to buy a machine that would mean their services would not be needed! Seem counter-intuitive? The fact is, you want to draw readers to your blog. You cannot be naive enough to assume that every reader will become a customer. The most important thing is to increase traffic because that will increase awareness of your business. Even if that reader buys the lawnmower and never uses their service, they may direct someone else to your site in future who doesn’t have time to mow their own lawn and just wants ABC Lawn Mowers Ltd. to do it for them.

This is a very simplistic example of how business is gained from a blog, but truthfully the ways in which blogs can lead to business growth are far more nuanced and plentiful than it is possible to outline here. The bottom line is: Blogs lead to business growth. End of story. So why aren’t you doing one?

If you don’t have time, dedicate a few hundred dollars from your marketing budget each month and pay a service to blog for you, once a week to start with, steadily increasing after that if you feel like it. The important thing is not to miss out on this low-cost and easy opportunity to have your voice heard!

SEO is Affected By What’s Going On in Your Business

What’s important to understand about SEO is that in order for a campaign to be successful, all business decisions need to be considered.  If SEO operates by itself in a silo, it won’t be working at its full potential.  Within an organization, all team members should be on board with an SEO strategy and willing to share what’s going on in their department with the SEO provider.  For larger organizations, that might be an in house SEO Specialist.  For small to medium sized businesses, that may be an outsourced SEO company.  If so, the SEO company needs to be viewed as a part of the team.  Keeping the SEO company out of the loop can result in missed opportunities or an SEO campaign that isn’t quite hitting the mark.  Internal business decisions affect important components of an SEO campaign like the keywords that are targeted, the content that is shared, and how social media will be executed.

The following are just a sampling of important business decisions that affect an SEO campaign:

  • Changes to the website

It may seem obvious to keep your SEO partner in the loop about website changes but for some reason many website owners forget to mention it, or casually mention it as part of a conversation when it may be too late.  Making drastic website changes can have a huge impact on SEO results if certain items aren’t implemented properly.  The worst thing that could possibly happen is changing your website and ruining all of the hard SEO work that you’ve been putting into the site for years.  Website changes are necessary every few years to keep things fresh, but website owners need to be smart about it.  Pull the SEO team into the process right from the get go so that they can work with the website designer/developer that may not have any SEO knowledge or understand how certain changes can affect SEO.  Once site changes have been made, an SEO provider can monitor tools like Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, and SEO Moz to ensure that things remain consistent.

  • Other marketing decisions

SEO is a powerful way to market your business, but very few businesses can survive by only investing in SEO.  The search engine algorithms are always changing and any site can become vulnerable over time.  That’s why it’s important to continue to market a business in other ways.  An SEO campaign can leverage these other efforts.  The PR team should run press releases by the SEO team for optimization recommendations and improvements.  The advertising team should provide the SEO team with a list of places that run ads so that the SEO team can look for link opportunities.  The events team should provide a trade show list so that content can be shared in social media about those trade shows.  Almost any marketing effort can be turned into an SEO benefit in some way if you take the time to look for opportunities.

  • Changes to services/products/offerings

In order to survive, businesses need to evolve over time.  It’s unlikely that exactly the same products or services are offered that were offered 5 years ago, or even just a year ago.  An SEO campaign needs to reflect what is going on in the business currently.  Not keeping your SEO Specialist in the loop can result in the wrong keywords being used and new pages of the website going un-optimized.  If a new product or service is added, new keyword research should be conducted.  If pages are going to be eliminated from the site, an SEO provider can make best practice recommendations for doing so.  As a business evolves, the SEO campaign needs to evolve along with it.

About the Author:

Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing, a Boston SEO firm.  For more information please call 781-999-1222 or visit http://www.brickmarketing.com.

How Often Should I Blog?

One of the most oft-asked questions when a blogger sets up their first blog is: “How often should I blog?”

The answer is the same for everyone: “Whenever you can.” Or, even, “Whenever you want.”

The truth is, more frequent blog posts are always better except when you’re blogging about nothing. Filling your blog with garbage, or uninteresting information, just because you want to have a blog post up that day, often harms your blog more than it helps it.

For many small business owners who are already wearing a dozen and one different hats, blogging once a month may be all they can manage. Any less frequently is not really advised as it wouldn’t have the chance to garner much of a following, and even once a month is a little on the sparse side. Once weekly is a great commitment if you can keep to it – and if you can’t, you can always employ the help of a blogging service to do the work for you. At least that way the post is written and – with blogging tools’ various scheduling facilities – you could line a whole month’s worth of blog posts up all at once, and not have to think about the blog again until the same time next month.

So the concern is really not with the frequency of blogging. So long as you are putting out quality content and you’re making regular updates, you should be fine. Daily posts are great in an ideal world but we rarely have something of worth to say every single day, so don’t pressure yourself. You will just burn out and not want to blog at all before long, and that won’t help your business at all.