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The Care and Feeding of Your Online Reputation

reputation-bgSo you have built a strong online presence that has you climbing to the top of major search engines. Business is expanding and new leads are pouring in uncontrollably due to the work you’ve done to build your online marketing efforts.

But it doesn’t stop there….

Now, that you’ve built your online exposure to serious levels, it’s time to manage and feed it by staying on top of what is being said about your company online.

Without respect from customers and prospects you could lose everything you have built. Whether you are right or wrong, customers tend to leave in droves when negativity comes up surrounding a business.

So here is your chance to establish a plan for keeping your stellar online reputation secure.

Your website has a place for comments and suggestions which is highly recommended, but with transparency comes risk. One disgruntled customer can light a match that could potentially bring your years-long investment to ashes.

Once your company has dominated the market share and pounded the competition, the last thing you want is to teeter on the edge of defeat because of bad online publicity.
The reality of controlling your reputation online basically boils down to one thing – doing ethical business on the internet and tracking what others are saying about you.

Check your website hourly and filter all feeds into one RSS Reader for time and efficiency in monitoring. Also track your message boards and forums consistently. All of this may seem like a lot of work, but it’s not an option if you truly want to protect your online reputation.

Finally, accept the inevitable bad review but be proactive about directly addressing the concern. Leaving it unmanaged could damage your stellar reputation. Therefore, do what you have to do as a business to keep your reputation spotless and professional at all time.

 

10 Linked in Tips for Your Local Business

Computer mobility and cloud computing conceptHaving an active LinkedIn profile is a must for businesses today – both large and small. LinkedIn has become the number one online portal where professionals and colleagues connect to share a number of valuable resources.

At first glance, LinkedIn may appear to be a bit overwhelming as there are many different features tied to this robust social media platform. However, with some dedication and consistency, your business can gain a lot of attention by using LinkedIn to its full potential.

Here are some tips to help get you started on your way to a powerful LinkedIn profile:

1. Completely Fill Out Your Profile – Take the time to fill out each and every field; put some thought into to make it complete. Always have a picture or at the very least a company logo. People love to see who they are dealing with so putting a face to your company will help. When filling out your profile, be sure to use keywords where possible as this will also help people who are looking to connect with other in your industry find you.

2. Set up a Company Page on LinkedIn – Even if your company is just you, take the few minutes to create a company page for your business. This is free so there is no barrier stopping you from taking advantage of it. A company page will help give you ultimate credibility as well as help you connect with other like-minded individuals on LinkedIn.

3. Get All of Your Employees on LinkedIn As Well – Ask your employees to set up Linked In accounts under their names, with your company listed as their place of employment. Then, ask them to follow each other’s pages, as well as your company page to help create a strong network related to your brand.

4. Join Groups and Participate – One of the best features about LinkedIn is the amount of groups that they have for you to join. Whatever you particular field may be, there is bound to be a group for you. You can join by industry or specific locations. What better way to network with other local business owners than to join a local group? Set aside some time to communicate and engage with locals in your area. This could be as simple as answering questions or providing advice; just be active, professional, and friendly. Doing so will help you establish local credibility as the authority in your industry.  However, do not spend most of your time promoting your business as this is a huge turnoff. It is okay to mention who you are and what you but, try to keep it at that.

5. Make Sure Your Profile is Set to Public – If you are attempting to generate leads for your business then it is very critical to make sure that your profile is set to public. A private profile will make it much harder for people to find you and this is the last thing that you want.

6. Give and Receive Recommendations – One way to showcase your talents and abilities is by having others recommend you. Simply send a request to people who may have worked with you in the past or current and ask them to fill out the recommendation form. You will get a chance to approve it prior to making it part of your public profile. Return the favor as well. Recommendations are important because people often feel more comfortable working with someone if they can see a history of positive reviews.

7. Use LinkedIn Events – LinkedIn has a great feature called “Events.” With this feature, you have the ability to create an event or attend one that you may have been invited to. Hosting an event is a wonderful way to meet potential clients, and an even better way to showcase your business and your particular areas of expertise.

8. Share Your Content on LinkedIn – If you have a blog and are looking for a better way to get more readers, LinkedIn is your answer. LinkedIn allows you to share the content you created with your circle of followers, as well as any groups or forums that you may be belong to. Always make sure the content you are sharing is your own. This process is as simple as providing a link back to your blog.

9. Ask and Answers Questions – There is a section on LinkedIn called “Answers.” This is found under the ‘More’ tab. This is one of the best kept secrets on LinkedIn. This section alone is a great way to build credibility, create authority status, and trust. There are always a lot of questions that need to be answered and they are all asked by other LinkedIn members; members who could potentially be looking for your product or services. Just try to answer one question per day and you will be well on your way to achieving more and more potential leads.

10. Be Consistent in Your Efforts – As with all social media platforms, stay active and involved with your LinkedIn account; simply posting once a month will not cut it. Set time aside to make sure that all your social media platforms are being properly managed and have fresh, unique content being posted on a consistent basis.

LinkedIn is an extremely valuable online resource for local businesses that are looking to generate more exposure and more customers online. Maintaining a proper image online is key and LinkedIn is one of many ways that can help you spread the word about your business. However, understanding how to really use this platform as a marketing tool can be confusing for most business owners.

 

 

QR Codes

QR CodeQuick Response (QR) codes are those weird-looking black and white symbols that seem to be popping up everywhere nowadays. Their basic designs are similar to bar codes only that they have the capacity to hold a lot more information. Let us look at how small business can benefit from these codes.

Quick Response codes are created for the mobile phone world. They are meant to be scanned using smartphones with on-board cameras. The only other thing your customer needs is a QR reader, which is easy to download and is usually free.

The market has a large number of QR reader applications; especially for common mobile phone models. Most of these readers are free of cost and are readily available on the internet.

Why QR codes?

The reason QR codes are gaining massive popularity so fast is because of the fact that they can be used to do a number of things. A simple scan can lead a customer to a business’s website and any other digital destination. This is all determined by the information embedded in the code by the business.

Some of the more common uses of QR codes include links to:

  • Email and websites
  • Promotions, coupons and special offers
  • Event details
  • Product descriptions
  • Contact details
  • Mobile websites and social sites

Now that you know what Quick Response codes can do, you need to understand where to use them. You should choose a method that will ensure a lot of people see and use them to access the information you want them to have.

Some of the places your customers will easily see them include:

  • Stickers
  • Nametags
  • T-shirts
  • Product tags
  • Brochures, catalogs and fliers
  • Business cards

How to create QR codes

There are a lot of websites that allow business owner to create quick response codes free of cost.  All you have to do is search for “free QR code generator” and you will have a wide range to choose from.

However, you may want to consult with a professional Mobile Marketing specialist to assist you in generating the best QR codes for your business.

Mobile Website Tips for Your Local Business

Mobile PhoneToday, there is no question about it; every business not only needs a website, but they also need a “mobile-friendly” website that is completely accessible by their mobile audience.  Traditional websites were built to perform on desktop computers; not small mobile devices with far less processing power.

How many people do you know who surf the web these days on their mobile devices? You probably answered “a lot.”  What happens when they come across your site and it takes forever to load? They leave.

With billions of mobile subscribers across the world, every business needs to ensure that your mobile customers don’t have any problems what-so-ever pulling up and finding what they need on your website.

As a business owner, you may be wondering exactly how to create a mobile-friendly version of your website. How do they work? What content should be added? What content should be left off?  What’s the best way to go about the actual design?

There are a lot of questions that need to be answered if you want to have a reliable, fully-functioning mobile website that will help you reach a wider target audience.

Below, you will find 10 mobile website tips that can help ensure that your website will always be accessible to your mobile customers and potential customers:

1. Only Give Them the Content They Need – When creating a mobile website, the first thing you should do is determine what content you will include. So you have to ask yourself “what type of information will mobile users be looking for when visiting my website?”  Usually, when people visit local business websites while on the go, they’re looking for basic information such as your address, phone number, hours of operation, menu, and things like that. Don’t overcrowd your mobile site with a lot of unnecessary content and images. Make sure mobile visitors can find the information they need quickly and easily; otherwise, they will leave never to return.

2. Carefully Plan Your Layout – Mobile webpages generally take longer to load than traditional desktop webpages. Therefore, limit the number of pages you have on your mobile site to avoid “slow loading.”  When planning your site layout, also be sure to avoid any clutter and confusion; simply design a layout that is easy for visitors to navigate and find the information they need.

 3. White Space is Your Friend – Your mobile webpages should have plenty of white space; it is not necessary to cram a bunch of information on your pages. Instead, keep it clean by allowing a little white space, which makes it easier to read as well as easy to “tap” as users navigate to different pages.

4. Landing Pages Should be Simple – There is nothing worse than waiting for a webpage to load and this is especially true on mobile devices. Keep your landing pages short and sweet. Avoid using extra programs that slow down your site such as Flash and Java. Also, while using a few images if OK, avoid using too many images as they can also slow down your loading time.

5. Design for Multiple Browser & Device Compatibility – This is key when building a mobile website. In order to give the user the best possible experience, you will need to make sure that the mobile version of your website is compatible with all internet browsers. Not only that, be sure that your mobile website is viewable on all mobile handsets. Implement a device testing strategy to help you determine whether or not your mobile site is fully compatible across the board.

6. Always Include Social Media Icons – A great way to increase your online presence, as well as increase your ROI, is to have your social media icons linked on your mobile website. This will let a user quickly jump over to your social media profiles right from your mobile site. Many times, people today are in a hurry when surfing the web. So by giving them easy access, you make it simple for them to “Like” you on Facebook or “Follow” you on Twitter so they can stay in the loop with your business.

 7. Use Mobile Redirects – Once your mobile website is finished, be sure to use a redirect script on your main website. A redirect script will determine when a website visitor is using a mobile device and then direct them to the mobile version of your site instead of your original site.

 8.  Provide a Link to Full Site – Sometimes, your mobile website visitors may be looking for info that is not included on the mobile version of your website. Therefore, it is a good idea to always provide a link to the “Full Version” of your website for those who want more.

 9. Usability Should be Top Priority – Make sure that your mobile site does not have any usability issues. For instance, the size of the links and the buttons. Are these links and buttons large enough for visitors to click on them without an issue on a mobile device? Also, be conservative with the amount of text that you have on your mobile site. Will users be able to find the information they need without sifting through a whole bunch of extra text?

10. Keep Branding Unified on All Platforms – It is very important to keep the look and feel of your mobile site consistent with your main website and other marketing efforts. While it is advised that you create a smaller, more mobile-friendly version of your site, do not completely change your design and color scheme. Branding builds trust and makes your company and products easily identifiable. If you do a complete overhaul of one site, change them all.

Mobile phone usage is growing at astonishing rates and is not expected to die down anytime soon. As a business owner, you probably see a lot of your customers using their mobile devices to surf the web on a daily basis.

One way to stay in front of these local customers, as well as potential new customers, is by mobilizing your company. Creating a mobile-friendly website may seem like a daunting task, but when done correctly, it’s the best move you can make for your local business.

10 Local SEO Tips for Your Local Business

SEO PuzzleThe small business world is embracing all aspects of business marketing; especially online marketing. Due to the fact that most people go online to search for local products or services, businesses have to do everything in their power to get in front of them if they want to capture some of that business.

One of the most effective ways to do so is by making sure their business comes up high in the search engine results when consumers are looking for what they have to offer.

Local SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of preparing your website and other web properties to get more targeted exposure. There are a lot of different ways to optimize your online properties including on-site optimization, off-site optimization, local directories, and much more.

However, many business owners often become confused about what they should be focusing on when it comes to local SEO.

Here are 10 tips to make sure you are on the right track with local SEO and gaining more local leads and customers for your business:

1. Claim Your Business on Local Directories and Review Sites – You’ve probably heard of Google+ Local (formerly Google Places), Bing Local, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Merchant Circle, and other local business listing websites. Claiming your business listing on these platforms is the first step to more local visibility.  These sites allow your business to come up when local consumers are specifically looking for your type of product or service. Not only that, but your customers can leave feedback about your business on these sites.

2. Ask Your Customers for Reviews – The more reviews you have, the more credible your company is in the eyes of potential customers. Many consumers today go online to find local products and services. However, if they run into a business with no reviews – or only negative reviews – they can be instantly turned off and go with a competitor with a good amount of positive reviews. Good customer reviews simply help businesses gain the competitive advantage.

3. Use the Same Business Name, Address, and Phone Number Across the Board – Whether it’s your website or your local directory listing pages, make sure your business name, address, and phone number are the exact same on all of them. This helps the search engines verify your business is who you say you are, which helps rank your pages higher in the search engines. If your business has multiple locations, you will need unique pages and listings for each location for full optimization.

4. Use a Local Phone Number on Your Website – Your business name, phone number, and address should be posted on every page of your website in order to help the search engines verify your geographic location. However, many businesses make the mistake of only putting a toll-free number on their website. Use your local phone number so your website is “localized” and matches your other citations and local directory listings.

5. Get Links from Local Sources – Connecting with other local businesses in your industry can help your search engine rankings over time. You can trade links with other relevant local businesses, which will give your site more juice. This also allows you to network with peers in your area, which could lead to endless possibilities for further business growth.

6. Add Fresh, Unique Content to Your Site Consistently – The search engines love websites that have fresh, unique contend added on a consistent basis. This is an indication that the business is still relevant and booming. One way of publishing content to your website is by adding a blog to it. Here, you can post industry news, announcements about your business, helpful tips related to your industry, or anything else that your local target audience would find valuable.

7.  Include Keywords in Your Website Page Titles – This is crucial to local SEO even though many businesses forget to include page titles all together. Every page on your website can be indexed by the search engines, so be sure to include a title for every page; include some of the popular keywords in the title along with your city name for the best results.

8. Make Sure You Use the Right Keywords – Optimizing your site with keywords works great, unless you’re using the wrong keywords. A lot of businesses “guess” which keywords may be getting the most searches. Unfortunately, they’re usually wrong. The best way to choose keywords is by using a keyword tool to see exactly which keywords consumers are typing into the search engines when looking for your type of business.

9. Use Your Location in the Optimization Process – A lot of businesses only focus on keywords and ignore their location when performing SEO. However, if your goal is to attract local consumers in your city, you definitely should include geographic terms in your optimization process. This will let the search engines know exactly where you are so they can accurately match you with consumers who are in your area.

10. Keep Branding Tight – Believe it or not, some businesses out there operate under different variations of their name, which could cause a lot of confusion for consumers. For instance, some businesses use abbreviations of their business name at times, and use their full business name at other times. Choose one name for your business and use this name on all of your web properties. This will make your local SEO efforts much more effective in the long-run and cause less confusion to your local market.

Local SEO can seem like a foreign language unless you have experience. However, it’s really a simple concept once you understand all of the important components and how they work together. Optimizing your website and other online properties requires a lot of preparation, analyzing, and patience. But the rewards are well-worth every bit of anguish you may experience along the way.

Guest Post Backlinks

Old Typewriter DrawingThis is one of the absolute best traffic and back linking methods. Not only are you developing relationships with other blog owners, you are distributing your content to quality websites in your business niche, generating free traffic over the long term, but you also get to build valuable contextual back-links from authority websites that are trusted by the search engines.

Being a guest blogger simply means that you start writing high quality, keyword optimized articles for for distribution on other websites for free. You will benefit by getting back-links from within your articles pointing back to your website. You will have opportunities to place a contextual back-links within the body of the main article and/or in the author bio at the end of your article.

The main benefit of getting guest blogging articles is that they tend to be permanent because of the friendly relationship you develop with the blog owner. This is unlike blog commenting that are of little value because this practice has been so badly abused that the search engines generally ignore them.

How to find high traffic sites that will accept you as a guest blogger?

1. You can perform the following searches in Google just replace the ‘keyword phrase‘ placeholder with your keyword and add the rest of the text including the ‘+’ with each example.

  • keyword phrase”+ “become a contributor”
  • keyword phrase”+ “guest article”
  • keyword phrase”+ “guest blog”
  • keyword phrase”+ “guest blogger”
  • keyword phrase”+ “guest bloggers”

Once you have done this:

  • Sort through the listings looking for sites with high page rank. You can use the SEO Quake Firefox plugin to do this as it will list the page rank under each listing.
  • Browse each site and find their instructions  on how to submit a guest post.

2. You can also use offline methods to get guest blogging opportunities. These will probably be more effective methods for a small business owner since you probably network with other offline business owners. You can use your offline business networks to propose writing guest articles for the following:

  • Your local business network e.g. Local Chamber of Commerce
  • Your Professional Association
  • Your Local newspaper
  • Your local community organizations such as schools, charities etc

There are many ways to find guest blogging opportunities. Just be sure to submit the best article you can and distribute it to no more that one blog. You want to maintain a good relationship with those that accept your guest posts so that they will accept more in the future.