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.

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.

Sharing Blog Posts

Sharing your blog posts is a surefire way to ensure the growth of your blog. It’s one thing to craft a well-written post, put it up on your blog and then sit back and wait for the comments to come flooding in but chances are,  if you are a fledgling blog, you’re going to have to put in the legwork to get those readers to your site, and the best way to do that is the golden rule of blogging: Share, share share.

Set your blog up with a Facebook page (or your company, and promote your blog posts on your company’s page). Make sure you have a Twitter account. Share your blog posts on LinkedIn. Ensure you use the opportunities social media has to offer as much as you can, as this will get you readers with very little time or financial investment. Use a tool like HootSuite and you can post your blog link to all of your social media accounts with just one click.

Another way to share blog posts is through commenting on other blogs. We talked about this in our post on Engaging with Other Blogs and Bloggers last week, and it remains one of the best ways to share your blog posts. It could just be that people will click on your link and therefore discover the latest blog post, but many comment box plugins used by bloggers actually post the title of your latest blog post under your comment, ensuring that more readers see what you’re writing about – which will ultimately grab the interest of many more readers. (For this reason, it is always a good idea to title your posts well – short, snappy titles are good but make sure they accurately describe what your post is about! It’s often all someone will see before deciding to click or not!)

Guest posting on other blogs is another great way to share your blog. Reach out to other bloggers in your area of specialty who you have connected with and ask if they would be so kind as to post a guest post you have written for their blog. If they are going on vacation or just want a break from blogging one day, they will often agree, and as long as your post is well written, it should be accepted. When guesting, be sure to spend a short introductory paragraph introducing yourself and your blog and what it is all about. Then it is usually polite to say how you know the blogger whose blog you are guesting on, and then launch into your post. The post itself should be about a topic that is of interest to the readers of the blog on which you are guesting. Hopefully these are shared interests with your own blog but sometimes that’s not the case (for example, if you are a sports blogger but tend to focus on hockey, and you are guesting on the blog of someone who predominantly talks about golf, perhaps write a golf-focused post this time). That way you ensure more people make it to the end of your post, and once they’ve completed that they may well want to read more.

It always takes an investment of time and energy when you start blogging, but it often pays off in more ways than just an increased readership. You can make worthwhile connections and form beneficial relationships, so put in the legwork and reap the rewards!

Engaging With Other Blogs and Bloggers

To start a blog – even if it’s only for ‘business’ purposes – is to join a community.

Blogging has taken off like never before. Just a year ago, it was predicted that there were approximately 173 million blogs on the Internet (source). Blogging has begun as a hobby for many and turned into a full-time career. No matter what kind of blogger you are, there are countless blogger communities waiting to welcome you.

And truthfully, if you want your blog to be a success, engaging with that community is going to be one of your best methods of exposure. Commenting on blogs is a great way of getting your own blog out there. Think of it this way: when you comment on a blog, most if not all blogs have a way for you to link your name to your own blog. Therefore your comment will appear with your name above it and a link to your blog. When readers scroll through the comments on a post of a blog they love, when they see your blog name and realize that it is similar in nature to the blog they are already reading, they will most likely click on your link to check out your blog, and see if it’s another they can add to their blogroll of daily reads.

Referrals from comments made on other bloggers’ sites often ends up being one of the biggest traffic sources for a blog, and it’s free! It costs time, truthfully, but that time is usually well rewarded because you are able to keep up with what other bloggers in your field are doing and talking about, and this information usually helps to make you a better blogger.

So what community will you join? If you are blogging strictly to boost your small business, you can seek out others who run similar businesses to you and also blog; you can look for small business bloggers, or you can abandon the business side altogether and join in with communities who are interested in what you have to offer – for example, if you run a sports shop, you could blog about current events in sports and then join in with the community of sports fan bloggers out there.

Don’t just join in by commenting on other blogs either – reach out to bloggers on Twitter, Facebook and through email. Most of them are tapped into social media as a way to promote their blogs, so they’ll be keen to connect on those channels as well.

The opportunities are endless, but engagement is a key part of growing your blog and, ultimately, growing your business.

What Should You Blog About?

Blogging for business is undoubtedly beneficial. It can get you known as an industry expert, help you to build a community around your readers and customers, encourage two-way communication between your customers (or potential customers) and your business and, of course, assist with your search engine optimization efforts.

But if you are a small – or large – business owner and you are persuaded of the benefits of blogging, the immediate question which comes to mind is usually “What do I blog about?”.

The answer to this is often the simple and obvious one, but we can put it in one phrase for you: Blog what you know.

You want to make sure that you know a lot about the topic you are going to blog about, otherwise you can end up doing more harm than good when it comes to your company’s reputation. And, for business purposes, you also want what you’re blogging about to be related to your company. It’s great if you are passionate about and knowledgeable of American football, but blogging about football won’t help your insurance company too much. It may be a great personal blog to launch, though!

You have to consider who your readers are – are you wanting to attract the attention of the everyday consumer, or professionals in your industry? That will help tailor your tone and method of writing – whether to keep it casual and free of jargon, or whether you can use more sophisticated industry speak, because you trust that your readers will be the people who would know this language well.

You also, of course, want your blog’s content to be interesting to readers, no matter who they are. In keeping with the previous example of an insurance business owner, if you’re trying to attract the everyday reader, don’t fill your blog posts with endless statistics and information about deductibles – instead, try to make your topic a bit broader. For example, do you offer travel insurance? Then blog about fun travel destinations, and tips and tricks to avoid things going wrong when on holiday. Do you offer home insurance? Talk about interior design tips or new products that caught your eye that make the home safer or more efficient. And if you offer car insurance, well – lots of people love to read about cars!

As long as you tie the topic back into your business in the final paragraph, you will have a relevant blog post. And truthfully, one which only relates back to business in the final sentence is the best kind of blog post to read – a blog post that is basically an extended advertisement will have people clicking “Close” before they’ve even finished the first sentence.

Have You Activated a Google Plus Local Profile Yet?

The Google search algorithms are complex and changing all the time.  What we do know is that search is becoming more personalized.  Results are partially compiled based on a user’s search history, social connections, whether they are logged in to a Google account or not, and their location.  Since location is a key component, users no longer need to type in their location when looking for a local business.  A simple search for “pizza” will yield results for pizza places within your general area.  And what shows up at the top of the search engine results page?  Google+ Local information.  By simply hovering over the Google listing that appears, a Google search user can find an overview of the establishment, hours, a price range, ratings, and recommended transit to get to the location.  If searchers are just looking for a phone number or a menu, they don’t even need to navigate to the actual business website since Google provides them with information and links right there on the SERP.

Of course, this is only the case if your business has created and activated a Google+ Local profile.  Previously known as Google Places, Google has now integrated the Places information into the Google+ architecture to create Google+ Local.  In addition to being accessed through Google Search and Maps, business information can now be found by clicking the new Local tab within Google+.

It’s important for all businesses, not just local businesses executing a local SEO campaign, to claim their Google+ Local listing to ensure that all of the information is accurate and up to date.  For some reason, so many businesses have yet to claim and activate their listing.  This is a huge mistake.  There are so many benefits to having an accurate and active listing.

The first benefit is a more prominent ranking on a search engine results page.  Unless it’s for a branded search, it’s extremely difficult to get your website listed on the first page of a Google search result, especially in a competitive niche.  The first items that Google lists on the page for a local search are Google+ Local profile information.  If you haven’t created a Google+ Local profile, you are missing out on getting important information about your business on the first page of a search result.

An accurate and active Google+ Local listing can also help SEO efforts.  A Google+ Local listing includes a link back to your website, which establishes a connection and trust between your site and Google.  For a local business, the website should be submitted to all local business directories, and since Google is the King of Search this is perhaps the most important one.  It improves visibility in the search engine and helps generate traffic to your website.

A Google+ Local listing can also help generate mobile traffic to your site.  More and more people are searching using a smart phone, tablet, or other mobile device every day.  A large percentage of these searches are for local information.  A website that has a Google+ Local listing activated and is mobile friendly will help generate traffic from the mobile users that want information quickly and are likely to click on a Google+ Local listing before scrolling through lots of pages.

Setting up a Google+ Local listing isn’t just part of a local SEO strategy, all businesses should take advantage of this free opportunity to improve search engine visibility and get a link from a trusted source.  All it takes is a few minutes of your time to enter as much information as possible about your business and verify that it is correct.

About the Author:

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

Importance of All Forms of Social Media in Relation to Internet Marketing

We have discussed the impact that individual social media channels have on your website’s search rank, thanks to information detailed in this article by Search Engine Watch.

Now it is time to look at the final two points that can have an effect on your website’s ranking in Google and other popular search engines – and these two points encompass buzz that your website gets across all forms of social media.

Firstly, let’s look at Positive vs Negative Brand Mentions. Search Engine Watch recommends that site owners track these mentions using a tool such as Radian6. However you choose to track these mentions, you – obviously – want to ensure that your brand has far more positive than negative mentions. This isn’t always easy – people are far more inclined to write a review or make a comment on a negative experience than they are a positive one. That is unfortunately the nature of consumer behaviour. However, you can encourage positive mentions by politely requesting feedback or testimonials from customers, perhaps even offering them an incentive to do so. If they go to write a testimonial and were happy with their experience, you should be able to cancel out many negative reviews after some time.

If you have a large number of negative mentions online due to faults of previous management or a genuine mistake that you are still paying for, consider using the services of an Internet reputation company. These companies will work hard to get your name out there in a positive way, slowly burying the negative links so that they have less and less prevalence in search engine results.

Lastly, Search Engine Watch recommends looking at the Number of Social Mentions your website has across all forms of media. The main reasoning for this is that there are specific campaigns a company can run to try and boost its presence on a social site like Facebook or Twitter, but that may not accurately represent that your company deserves this reputation – it could simply be the result of running a competition, for example. So instead try and diversify your online reputation among a variety of sites – this will help Google know that your content really does deserve to be featured.

For previous articles in this series, visit the links below:

Have You Activated a Google+ Local Profile Yet?

The Google search algorithms are complex and changing all the time.  What we do know is that search is becoming more personalized.  Results are partially compiled based on a user’s search history, social connections, whether they are logged in to a Google account or not, and their location.  Since location is a key component, users no longer need to type in their location when looking for a local business.  A simple search for “pizza” will yield results for pizza places within your general area.  And what shows up at the top of the search engine results page?  Google+ Local information.  By simply hovering over the Google listing that appears, a Google search user can find an overview of the establishment, hours, a price range, ratings, and recommended transit to get to the location.  If searchers are just looking for a phone number or a menu, they don’t even need to navigate to the actual business website since Google provides them with information and links right there on the SERP.

Of course, this is only the case if your business has created and activated a Google+ Local profile.  Previously known as Google Places, Google has now integrated the Places information into the Google+ architecture to create Google+ Local.  In addition to being accessed through Google Search and Maps, business information can now be found by clicking the new Local tab within Google+.

It’s important for all businesses, not just local businesses executing a local SEO campaign, to claim their Google+ Local listing to ensure that all of the information is accurate and up to date.  For some reason, so many businesses have yet to claim and activate their listing.  This is a huge mistake.  There are so many benefits to having an accurate and active listing.

The first benefit is a more prominent ranking on a search engine results page.  Unless it’s for a branded search, it’s extremely difficult to get your website listed on the first page of a Google search result, especially in a competitive niche.  The first items that Google lists on the page for a local search are Google+ Local profile information.  If you haven’t created a Google+ Local profile, you are missing out on getting important information about your business on the first page of a search result.

An accurate and active Google+ Local listing can also help SEO efforts.  A Google+ Local listing includes a link back to your website, which establishes a connection and trust between your site and Google.  For a local business, the website should be submitted to all local business directories, and since Google is the King of Search this is perhaps the most important one.  It improves visibility in the search engine and helps generate traffic to your website.

A Google+ Local listing can also help generate mobile traffic to your site.  More and more people are searching using a smart phone, tablet, or other mobile device every day.  A large percentage of these searches are for local information.  A website that has a Google+ Local listing activated and is mobile friendly will help generate traffic from the mobile users that want information quickly and are likely to click on a Google+ Local listing before scrolling through lots of pages.

Setting up a Google+ Local listing isn’t just part of a local SEO strategy, all businesses should take advantage of this free opportunity to improve search engine visibility and get a link from a trusted source.  All it takes is a few minutes of your time to enter as much information as possible about your business and verify that it is correct.

About the Author:

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