Start a Business Blog with Purpose

You know the feeling of excitement when starting to write on a fresh pad of paper or notebook? Business blogging can be the same way. It’s never too late to start thinking of consistently blogging about your business, no matter what size it is!

Before You Even Start
First off, it’s important to determine what type of blog is most suited for your business. Read our blog post on: The Pros and Cons of On-Site and Off-Site Blogs to find out which would work best for you. Again, you want to think of SEO benefits as well as branding.

Who are You and Who are You Writing for?
Next, think of the tone, style and voice you would like to convey to your audience. Although blogs are most interesting when readers can relate to the writer, having a ghost blogger, guest writers or taking on the voice of the company as a whole is also acceptable. Which leads to the next important ingredient – passion and purpose.

Blogging Goals
Starting a blog solely for ad space or affiliate clicks isn’t what blogging is about. You’ll come across blogs that don’t actually have content and repost news articles that exist solely for this purpose. And guess what? In the eyes of search engines and readers, they won’t survive in the long run.

The objective of your blog should be aligned with your business goals. It can be as formal or informal if you want and updated as frequently as you like. The key is to be consistent with your choices. Not convinced? A popular study showed that there are 2 main factors that are essential to sales success: 1) to be perceived as an expert in your field 2) to be likeable. Guess what, blogging for your business can help you in both these areas!

Time for Inspiration
Check out some of these business blogs for inspiration. Also, feel free to share your blogging tips with us on Facebook:
Cure Thrift Shop
Nuts About Southwest
Blackberry
Whole Foods
Ice Cream Journal

Are QR Codes Necessary for Your Business?

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to fall victim to the herd mentality of social media marketing trends. Instead of looking at it in a “I want this” and “I want that” kind of way, it’s more effective to take a step back and look at WHY your business should be partaking in WHAT.

In our previous post about marketing tactics for small businesses, we saw that QR codes were proven to be the least effective out of 6 different techniques and yet 29% of small businesses were using them just because their competitors were.

Here’s an example of what I mean – I recently saw an ad for a medical procedure targeted towards senior citizens. And what was predominately displayed on the front? A QR code. Granted my grandparents do know how to use Skype, I doubt that they or a majority of their peers will make good use of utilizing QR codes.

Before you want the next “big” thing for your business, take the time to think about who will be using it and what benefits they’ll get from doing so. This isn’t to say that QR codes are ineffective but it depends on how you use them. Mashable shows some creative uses for these codes. If you’re a hip new restaurant or creative agency, these uses of QR codes really make sense to me. It’s also more effective because it ties into your business and it isn’t just crudely posted somewhere for the sake of being there.

What are your thoughts on using QR codes to market your business?

Where Does Search Fit Into Social Media?

social searchSocial media marketing and SEO: one should not exist without the other. Your business and customers will benefit the most when these two work in synergy. Effective optimization requires an understanding of how and why social media works to connect you with customers. Content plays a big role on whether you succeed or whether your business is left behind.

From the beginning of your social media campaign, you should also look at it from a keyword advertising point of view. This means using this keywords as you optimize photos, videos, bio information in your profiles, URL names and more. Remember, you are choosing these keywords based on research about your your customers are searching for your products/services. Sound complicated? We’d be glad to discuss our thorough strategy that goes into every SEO campaign with you!

Nowadays, you cannot look at social media without think about SEO and vice versa. While some think that this is a curse, this is a blessing for businesses who are willing to embrace this dynamic channel.

Why does it matter?

A study from last year shows that search AND social results  make an impact on the online buying decision.  the impact of social media Online buyers rely on a healthy mix of search and social media throughout the purchasing process. Take a look at what buyers think as important:

So, if you still think social media isn’t important after all… your business will truly suffer. The benefits of incorporating social and search features onto your website will grow your business because of the increase in online/offline word of mouth recommendations. This will help open up new conversations with potential customers that you would never reach by just using traditional marketing.

Google Places Gets an Update


Last week, Google made a big update to its Places Pages and even more additions are expected to come! Why the sudden change? Google is trying to keep the focus on itself and focus on reviews made by Google users instead of other review sites. Before the update, Google Places showed snippets of reviews from Urbanspoon, Citysearch and even Yelp. As you can imagine, these other local-centric sites weren’t too happy.

Placing a stronger emphasis on customer reviews and business details will help owners reach out to locals. If you’re still not maximizing the use of local business directories, here’s what you’re missing out on (and you can definitely expect that number to grow):

- Local searches grew by 14 percent from last year.
– About 61% of local searches result in a purchase.
– At least 20% of online searches have local intent.
– 53% of mobile searches have local intent.

This update is important for small business owners because it means that you’ll have a better opportunity to marketing and analyze customer interaction with your brand. In their own words, Google describes the new Places as an “ongoing evolution”. Is your business ready for it?

Video Marketing for Your Business

There’s no better way to describe your brand than capturing it with video marketing. Although SEO content has the magic touch, video is the only way to bring your brand personality to life and engage customers in a way that words can’t.

Marketing your website through video is about making a more personal connection with the customer. This is a crucial point where they can learn more about what you have to offer and decide to buy from you, learn more or leave. Most small businesses are using social media but video is a channel that is under utilized. Don’t you want to get ahead of the game?

Nowadays, people are more interested in consuming video content online. According to comScore stats,  the average person watched approximately 15.9 hours of online video per month (in May). That’s a lot of content! And top sources include YouTube and Facebook, where you can make your video channel completely accessible!

And of course, the best thing about videos is that they can be SEO optimized. If your video ranks well for certain terms, you can take advantage of top and first page result rankings if there is few or no competition in your niche. Video results also stand out amongst text for website results when people search for keywords.

Check out these helpful resources if you’re interested:

- Why Your Site Needs Video
Small Business News: Video Marketing Guide
4 Inspiring Small Business Video Successes
Online Video Offers Low-Cost Marketing For Your Company

So, what are you waiting for? Contact us today about video marketing for your small business!

Yelp Can Help Your Small Business

YelpAre you feeling the Yelp love? As of January 2011, Yelp has received over 12 million unique visitors and that number is growing steadily every month. As a small business owner, it’s important to take charge of your Yelp profile and use it to your advantage.

Google Places is another prominent tool for local listings but many business owners feel that Yelp is more useful in helping them understand customers and find new clients. Because let’s face it, if you’re looking for a new hairdresser or reviews on an unfamiliar restaurant, you’re going to jump on Yelp way before Google Places.

Staking your claim: If your business is already on Yelp, it only takes a few minutes to officially claim it as your own. You’ll need to fill out some information and your profile will be verified by a call to your business phone number.
If you’re new to Yelp, creating a profile is just as easy and you’ll go through the same verification process.

Your information, please: Remember to check the accuracy of your business information and to fill as many information fields as possible. Your description and categories are also a great place to throw in those desired keywords that you want linked for your business. This is helpful for customers as well as SEO.

Don’t be afraid: So many businesses are afraid of Yelp because they fear bad reviews and “losing” customers. If you have products and services you can stand behind, there’s no need to worry. You can only GAIN customers and new business through another form of online exposure. Beauty Utopia in Eagle Rock is a great example of a business that thrives solely through word of mouth and Yelp reviews.
Sure, negative reviews are inevitable but it also gives you another perspective and way to understand your customers – where you wouldn’t even know that something is wrong if you’re not on Yelp. Take a look at our previous post on reputation management.

People talk about Facebook and Twitter as an extension of your online site but Yelp is another site that can’t be missed. Whereas other social media sites help with conveying your brand personality, Yelp boils down to the information and reviews that will really help you get more business.

Ecommerce Sites Benefit from Sharing

Funky Sofa Marilyn

Social media is now a must-have, even for ecommerce sites. By looking at big brands like Zappos and Amazon, you can incorporate some useful sharing strategies for your small business or ecommerce site:

What do your customers care about?: With Funky Sofa, we take this as an opportunity to also showcase design inspiration and interesting furniture products from other retailers. This also allows us to stay up to date with competitors in the industry and to see what they’re doing.

Share interesting content: An onsite or offsite blog can also be an interesting way to share content. Funky Sofa often posts behind the scenes photos of the making of their products and furniture. Not much of a writer? Take a look at some retailers have boosted sales by incorporating video marketing.

Social Sharing Buttons Help with Engagement: Adding a “Like” or “Tweet” button to your site is easy. Take a look at the Marilyn sofa above. 41 people Liked this product and a blurb was published on their Facebook wall so that all their friends are also exposed to the Funky Sofa brand.

With Christmas time around the corner, ecommerce sites can benefit by sharing in the right way and without seeming overly self -indulgent. Remember, it’s not ME, ME, ME but YOU, YOU, YOU (we’re talking about the consumers here).

Check out some more on important ecommerce trends via Search Engine Land.

Web Advertising and the Small Business: Do I Need a Middleman?

Web advertising is becoming an increasingly self-serve business, allowing SMBs to run their own web campaigns. Now that anyone can purchase keywords on search engines and pay per click advertising, do SMBs really need a company to help them advertise?

Although the new age of advertising does offer unparalleled flexibility and affordablilty, wading through the sheer amount of options and technical lingo can be overwhelming, and many SMBs still find it worthwhile to have someone to guide them through the process, sift through the options, and find the most effective and economical strategy for their advertising dollar. Techniques such as search engine optimization, and organic SEO though simple in concept, can be tricky to implement.

For the unsure, online ads can be as simple and old-fashioned as the online yellow pages ad. Any business owner familiar with yellow page advertising can wrap their head around this one, but the technique is still the same as print advertising, visibility is determined by the size and placement of the ad. Local search sites like city search add such features as customer reviews, but not much else.

Search engines, considered by many the most effective form of online marketing, also bring a wide spectrum of options and increased complexity along with them. The goal here is the highest rankings, but truly effective search engine optimization is far more than popping up first under a particular search. For example a search for “plumbing” versus “plumbers” or “plumber” can yield far different results. This complexity has created a niche for companies like Emarketed to help SMBs plan SEO campaigns more effectively.

The irony is that as web advertising becomes more accessible to the small business owner, the complexity of effectively running these campaigns increases as well, meaning that at least for the present, SMBs will find themselves best served by consulting these middlemen for their online advertising campaigns.