16 Website SEO Musts for a Higher Search Ranking

Search engines strive to create the best user experience possible, providing the most relevant, useful information based on the user’s search terms. If they didn’t, users would no longer rely on them for information.

This is good news: the more relevant, informative and useful user experience you create, the better the chances that search engines will serve your pages. By practicing good search engine optimization (SEO) habits, you can continually work to increase your search engine results page (SERPs) position. Here are some top SEO practices for SERP success.


On page (your website) SEO practices:

1. Relevant keywords: Using a keyword tool can help determine which words will help attract the most visitors based on popular search terms. Pick the most relevant, popular keywords for your business and try to rank for different keywords on your web page.

2. Short, catchy and original title tags: Title tags describe what your website is all about while attracting the user’s attention enough to (hopefully) click through to your pages. Limit the title tag description to 55 characters so it will display well on SERPs. Keep title tags descriptive yet short and sweet to help crawlers and users determine the relevancy of your page.

3. Keywords at the beginning of page title tags: Google puts more weight on the start of the title tag, so try to keep the keywords at the beginning.

4. Keyword focused meta descriptions: The meta description appears under the title tag on SERPs and gives users a chance to learn more about your company before clicking into your site. Aim for a meta-description length of 150-160 characters.

5. Proper sitemap: Make sure your website’s structure is up-to-date and easy to navigate. The better the site structure, the easier search engine crawlers can find and index pages. Aim for a three-click rule—customers should find what they need on your site in three clicks.

6. Properly structured, SEO-friendly URLs: URLs help crawlers to figure out page topic and relevancy. Creating short URLs with your keyword in it, using “-” instead of “_” between words as well as static words (rather than numbers) will help users and crawlers read URLs faster and easier. Also, try to use sub-directory root domains instead of sub-domains.

7. Link internally with anchor text: Linking internally to your other web pages adds keyword-rich internal links to every page. Internal linking helps search engines crawl and index your site, provides readers with more reading options and improves ranking for some of your keywords.

8. Outbound links: Referencing and linking to reputable (authoritative) sources shows you are a helpful internet information steward that is willing to share pagerank. On the internet, helpful sharing is caring.

9. Website’s loading speed: Search engines do not like slow pages as they know that users will not wait long for a website to load. Strive for lickity-split load times.

10. Really helpful content: Create relevant content on your pages that is easy to read, unique, helpful, fresh and grammatically flawless. Your content should be so helpful and relevant that your target audience will want to stay on your page and others will want to link to it.


Off page SEO practices:

1. Search engine submission: It can take a while for search engines to find and crawl your site. You can help to speed up the process by submitting your website to popular search engines.

2. Local directory submission: Submitting your business listing information to top or niche directories creates more places where users can find you and crawlers can confirm your business information. Be sure to submit NAP (name, address, phone number). And, if possible, website and category. A high percentage of searches are by keyword rather than business name, so strive to use category information wherever possible.

3. Social media marketing: Be present on all relevant social channels and manage your online reputation. Strive to get likes, shares and links by being 80% helpful and 20% promotional.

4. Video marketing: Help users find out about your business by sharing your relevant and helpful videos on sites such as Youtube, Vimeo, etc.

5. Backlink outreach: Earn backlinks by conducting content PR to get others to read your pages and possibly link to you. The more quality backlinks your web page has, the more authority it has, and the more search engines will deem the page as relevant and useful.

6. Forums and communities: Answering questions in forums and communities can help to build your reputation as an industry expert. This can provide a possible opportunity to include your website or blog link if it is relevant to the answer.

5 Easy Tips to Climb Search Rankings

We’ve compiled five easy tips that businesses can use to climb search rankings with speed. We aren’t saying that you’ll appear at the top of the search results in a couple days, but we do guarantee that using these tips will help a business climb search rankings on all major search engines over time. Persistence and patience are key factors in search engine optimization, and while it won’t happen overnight, keeping these best practices top of mind will help your content rank.


Tip 1: keyword planning

It all starts with keyword planning

Businesses with great content on their websites tend to appear at the top of the search results, and great content has a focus on keywords. Before a webpage is created, your business must first determine what word or words you want to rank for. Keyword planning is not simple, especially for businesses that don’t understand how to plan. Your business cannot simply pick a word, type it a bunch of times and cross your fingers to appear at the top of Google search rankings. Search engines are not fooled by this. Keyword density is important, but it’s not the only thing that the search algorithms consider when ranking pages in search results, especially with new progress with Google’s RankBrain. There are many factors that affect local search, and it’s important to dominate the ones you have control of to move into the coveted Snack Pack.

Make target keywords niche, targeted and relevant

When keyword planning, be sure to use niche words, and target keywords that are relevant enough to get your business appearing in front of the right people online. If your local company wants to appear to the right local audience, you must be sure to be specific to your community. A local windshield repair company is going to have a hard time appearing for the keyword “windshield.” It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult for local companies to appear in the top few results for broad focused keywords. There is a much better chance to appear at the top of the search results if the keywords are narrowed down.

Keyword planning example

For example, a windshield company in Buffalo, New York wants to appear in front of local customers who may have a crack or chip in their window. They’d be much more successful aiming to rank for “rock chip repair in Buffalo” rather than the word “windshield.”


Tip 2: strengthen meta descriptions

Meta descriptions should contain your keywords

A meta description is a small description of what your webpage contains, it’s basically a summary of your business’s webpage in ~160 characters. These too must have a focus on keywords, and for smaller businesses such as local windshield repair companies, it’s important to have the right keywords in the meta description.

Meta description example

To keep this example consistent, “rock chip repair in Buffalo” was set as the Google search terms to see which businesses appear in the search results. It’s always a good idea to look at the business that appears first, see how they are doing it, and try to better their meta description.

In this case, this local windshield repair company that clearly knows what they are doing! As you look above, you can see that the meta description contains most of the words that we searched for. This is a fantastic way to target the specific search query of “rock chip repair in Buffalo” and to get frantic drivers with broken windshields through a business’s front door.

Help guide customers from page to page

Proper meta descriptions not only help in search result rankings, but they also give your prospective customers a summary of exactly what they may be looking for. Customers want it easy, they don’t want to spend a long time browsing for repair shops—they want to find answers easily and the solutions fast.


Tip 3: be unique

Search engine bots search for unique content

It’s tough for your business to be unique from the fifty other local companies that compete in your company’s industry. However, the content on your business’s website should aim to be unique and somewhat different from the rest in order to stand out in the search rankings. The reason being  that Google and other search engines search for original content when their bots are crawling sites. This means every site in a specific industry that has similar webpage copy will likely blend in, and the bots won’t declare those pages as original or unique. Don’t expect a local business page to appear high on the search rankings if it sounds exactly like every other local business page!


Tip 4: stay active everywhere online

The more online activity, the better

You business has to stay active online if you want to climb search rankings, make a name for yourself on places other than your company website. Your business can improve your local search by using data aggregators, or you can manually create listings on tons of directory sites.

Online mentions increase search engine influence

One thing many smaller businesses fail to understand is that business pages on reputable websites are so important! Social platforms like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn are an easy way for your business to index your name across various sources on the web. Likewise, review sites are hugely important! The more your business is mentioned online, the greater the influence you will have on search rankings.


Tip 5: blog

Blogs help keep web content fresh

Blogs are not only fun to write, but also a way to continuously produce new website content. Google’s algorithm specifically calls for continuous web content and publishing if your business wants to appear high on the search rankings. Google is pushing web developers and content writers to keep websites from getting irrelevant or outdated, making content marketing a healthy company strategy.

Blog with a strategy in mind

Your business should establish a blog plan, no matter the industry. If that same windshield repair company in Buffalo New York wanted to blog, maybe they’d write about the “Top 10 windshield crack horror stories” or “How a rock chip ruined this man’s day.” These types of articles are relevant to their industry, and are loaded with keywords about their business. Tools such as WordPressMedium and Ghost are all super useful in order to easily get started with blog publishing.

A blog presents a huge opportunity

It could be a funny blog, or serious industry stories, as long as the content that is being produced has a focus on their respective business industry. That’s just one example, but there are tons of opportunities for businesses in any specific industry. Don’t believe us that blogging is important? Here’s 58 reasons why businesses should run a blog.


Conclusion: content is key

Whether it’s keyword planning for the content you write, writing great meta descriptions, writing original content or blogging, it all involves the production of content. That’s because content is key. Implement these strategies and monitor your rankings. There are a variety of SEO tools, both free and paid that your business can use to do so. While your rankings won’t shoot up overnight, your business has a huge opportunity to improve your search engine rankings and outrank your competitors to get more business through your doors.

Copyright Online and Fair Use in Social Media

With the online world being dominated by images, what do you need to know as a business owner when it comes to copyright laws?

Sharing Images on Social

Visuals are huge in the social media world, particularly for businesses. Here’s a quick run-down.

  1. On average, content with relevant images has 94% more total views than content without (Jeff Bullas)
  2. Compared to other types of content, visual content is 40x more likely to be shared on social media (Ethos3)
  3. Facebook posts with images can receive 2.3x more engagement than text posts (BuzzSumo)

A couple things can be seen here. First, using images in your social media communications is critical to its success, and second, social media is the driving force behind the unfathomable amount of photos being shared online every second. In fact, the world is on track to share over 2.5 trillion photos online by the end of this year!

Social Media Copyright Risks

Because online culture evolves so quickly, the laws of the land are constantly readjusting to the most recent trends in online activity. This is especially true regarding copyright online and fair use on social media, both of which have yet to become clearly defined for the digital age. Fortunately, even online, by sticking to the basic foundations of copyright law you will be protected in most cases

💡 This post focuses on copyright laws as they pertain to Canada and the United States.

What is Copyright?

Simply put, copyright is: “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work).” Its purpose is to strike a balance between protecting the author of a work, and serving the public interest.

Copyright offers the owner exclusive rights over their work. Copyright owners can:

  • Reproduce the copyrighted work
  • Create derivative works based on the copyrighted work
  • Distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public by sale, transfer of ownership, rental, lease, or lending
  • Perform and/or display the copyrighted work publicly (copyright.gov)

Copyright is determined on a case-by-case basis, which makes it difficult to identify any clear-cut examples of infringement that could be applied to other cases seen in social media.

Creative Commons and Free Use

On the other end of the spectrum, “creative commons” work is always free to use. This dedication means that an author has dedicated their original work to the public domain, waiving all rights to their work worldwide under copyright law.

This work is free to “copy, modify, distribute and perform, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission” (Creative Commons). Sites like Pixabay or Flickr find photos that are released under Creative Commons! These photos require no attribution (credit to the author/source) and they are free to use.

Internet Memes and Copyright Online

There are so many kinds of memes that may or may not infringe copyright online that lumping them all into one category and stamping them with “approved” or “rejected” ink just doesn’t work. If you are curious about how the memes you might be sharing fall under copyright law, here is a quick guide.

Types of Memes

Memes can range from the popular “image macros,” to silly sentences repeated across the web. Obviously, catch phrases, hashtags and other word-based memes have no real copyright risk. It’s the visual and image macro memes that may pose a problem. Specifically, image macros that depict copyrighted characters and productions.

Pop Culture Memes

Let’s say, for simplicity’s sake, that most memes are fair use. I mean, no one is going to come after you for throwing a “damn, Daniel!” into one of your Facebook posts. The memes that may pose an issue are those that pull images from pop culture, like Futurama Fry or Boromir’s “one does not simply” meme. These character stills are pulled from pop culture media and turned into memes, yet the characters depicted are owned by a specific brand or company.

Could using a pop culture meme that depicts a copyrighted work or character result in a lawsuit? Yes.

Is it likely to? No.

But when it comes to commercial use of memes, it’s good to err on the side of caution, and avoid posting pop culture memes that clearly depict copyrighted works.

Memes in Social Advertising

Using memes for social advertising is the surest way to cause problems with copyright when it comes to sharing memes. Posting a meme is relatively harmless, but using it in advertising is a whole different story.

Advertising is not protected by fair use, and so any direct promotion of your company/brand with the use of memes, or using memes for profit, can get you legal heat.

If you’re thinking “that’s silly, who would punish me for selling a t-shirt with a picture of a particularly grumpy cat?” I understand where you’re coming from, but Grumpy Cat has a company that’s ready to protect its property (which is, weirdly enough, a mean looking cat).

General Rule for Copyright Online

Even though the rules of fair use and copyright online are often left up to interpretation, a good rule to follow is assuming that all images and videos found online are protected by copyright, unless explicitly expressed as being free to use by the owner. Ultimately, it’s up to the author of the work to enforce copyright law if they find that their work is being used without permission.

The next time you decide to use any content that isn’t yours, ask yourself:

  1. Do I have permission to use this image (or is it free to use)?
  2. If not, does my usage fall under “fair use”?
  3. Is using this content worth the potential legal consequences?

It will be interesting to see how copyright laws and content sharing practices will change with the evolution of social media trends. For now, just remember—a picture may be worth a thousand words, but it may cost you a lot more if used without permission.

Why Your Business Should Want More Reviews on Review Sites

The importance of responding to customers online could not be more prevalent as reviews continue to grow more than ever before. Aside from the fact that reviews from customers help others decide whether they should visit a business or not, reviews are now more prevalent on search results pages—meaning a lot of eyes can see what is being said about your company online.

The influence that reviews have on shoppers is staggering: more than 88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decisions (Webrepublic, 2015). Businesses are told to get more reviews on review websites to keep attracting new customers. With so many review websites out there, where does a business even begin? Your business may be afraid to manage customer reviews on review sites as you may not want to end up in one of these situations:

  • receive zero reviews
  • receive zero recent online reviews
  • receive negative online reviews
  • or, your business simply has unmanaged online reviews across multiple review websites

Unfortunately, your business is missing out. This lack of free online word of mouth is actually hurting your business through inaction, because reputation drives conversion.

1) Business reviews and social posts help shape your company’s online reputation

In fact, one of the worst things your business can do is ignore your online reviews and social posts. As easy as it is to make a mistake when handling your business’s online reputation, it can also be easy to recover if done properly (and with apology). While damage will inevitably happen, your business can take steps to mitigate the degree of damage that can occur. The biggest mistake of all your company can make is not participating in helping to shape the conversation about your company online.

2) Business reviews provide valuable feedback for your business

While it can be easy for your business to take negative comments to heart, it is important to recognize that reviews are constructive feedback. All in all, reviews are valuable feedback! They help your company gauge their performance and see how you can improve. There is always room for improvement and a lot can be learned even from positive business reviews. Through reviews, your business can see which products or services you should be boasting, which needs work, and even discover which employees rock at customer service.

3) Your business reviews can now appear in search results

Search engines have caught on to the popularity of reviews and are now displaying them more prominently. So, if someone searches for your business, there is a chance that reviews from review websites could be displayed on the search engine results pages. In Google’s markup—the annotated content that appears in search—of a company or product, business reviews and ratings can now be included in search results. In other words, when a user performs a search on Google, Google will find and possibly display review summaries from online business reviews and consumer ratings. Below is an example of how business reviews now showing up in search results.

How can businesses get more reviews?

There are a variety of methods your business can employ to ask for more business reviews, including emailing consumers manually, using surveys, asking consumers to leave reviews with codes and review sites on their receipts, or utilizing review generation software to automate the business review process.

Three important review website management tips:

1) Remember to add or claim listings on the top review sites

It’s a good idea to add or claim a listing or business profile on the most popular review sites (unless your business doesn’t fit with the niche), correct your business’s listing information and start getting more business reviews!

2) Your business should keep asking customers for reviews

Asking the average customer for a review can be hard work. Granted, it is often easiest to get reviews from consumers that are either really happy or really unhappy with the level of service they were provided. Your business should always remember to ask as customers are busy creatures and will not remember unless they are asked or reminded to leave feedback.

3) Customers are more open to leaving reviews on review sites

Why not just ask for business reviews or testimonials on your business’s website? Well, asking consumers to leave a review on your business’s website seems a lot more screened and inauthentic than simply asking consumers to leave reviews on a trusted review site. Since the review site is a third party, it feels more open for customers to leave an honest, unbiased review.

Business reviews are here to stay

In conclusion, there’s no getting away from business reviews. The good news is that there are methods to get more business reviews as well as effectively managing reviews from customers. Also, businesses needn’t fear negative online reviews, as there are ways to negate the effect of negative reviews.

Get Listed on the Local Search “Big Four”

You may not be aware of it now, but it’s likely that your business has suffered at the hands of incorrect business listings.

And as a customer I’m sure you know from experience the impact it can have. To put it bluntly, when someone is trying to buy a product or service and an incorrect listing makes that process more challenging, that customer will waste no time finding another place to spend their hard earned money.

Don’t let your customers lose out on business because of incorrect listings—claim and correct them instead!


Out with the old, in with the new

As you are probably aware phone books are starting to corner the doorstop and firestarter market. As tech-savvy generations age and account for larger percentages of our population, target customers are continuing to shift further away from paper and toward digital. 63% of people under 40 never use phone books to find local listings. This means having your business listed online is critical to tapping into a huge demographic of potential customers in the up-and-coming 80-million Millennial generation.


The Internet’s hottest spots

With 85% of consumers browsing online to find your business, it’s more important than ever to be showing present and accurate NAP (name, address, phone number) data in the internet’s hottest spots. For this article, we will narrow our focus on “The Big Four”: Bing, Yelp, YellowPages and Google. These four listing hubs account for 85% of all search traffic and providing businesses with access to 314 million monthly users, these are the listings you want claimed, corrected and working in your favor for free.

(1) Bing

Bing is a big up-and-comer in the digital world. This engine now accounts for 30% of all searches performed online. That’s a huge amount of traffic for local consumers looking for your business. Accessible from Bing Places, getting a business online is as easy as one, two, three!

(2) Yelp

Traditionally known as a review platform, Yelp has evolved into a one-stop-shop for your businesses to manage information and reviews, as well as post photos, promotions and events for your customers all under the roof of one little listing. Yelp is a huge draw to businesses because it has so much to offer and so much traffic! With up to 36.3 million monthly users looking for reputable and trustworthy businesses, wouldn’t it be great to get found on Yelp? Get started now.

(3) YellowPages

Aptly named for its predecessor, YellowPages (or YP as we more affectionately know it) has taken over where the original Yellow Pages left off. With a built-in user base from its paper days, YellowPages has already wormed its way into customer hearts and become a reliable source for listing information. On top of all that, YP has some of the highest US local search numbers in the game, making it the perfect place for your business to get found online. Get started here and get YellowPages working for those local businesses of yours!

(4) Google

“Just Google it” has become a common phrase in most of our daily lives, so it should come as no surprise that its listing source, Google My Business, makes our Big Four. Unique to the other three, Google’s demographic reaches far beyond the female decision makers, 45+ age group, and $60,000+ income earners using Bing, Yelp and YellowPages. In fact, part of Google My Business’ draw is that its listings are seen by everyone who uses Google. With up to 175 million monthly users across every demographic, that’s a pretty big draw.

Not only does Google My Business get you found in searches, but on Google Maps as well! Accounting for 78% of mobile travel usage, if your business isn’t on found on Google My Business, there’s a good chance it’s not getting found in real life either. Don’t send customers driving around in circles; get your businesses on Google my Business now.


Accuracy really is everything

Now that we’ve talked about where to be listed online, let’s talk about how your business information should be listed online—100% accurately! Customers trust Bing, Yelp, YellowPages and Google to give them the correct information they need to find the business they’re looking for, and when the information is incorrect, customers lose major trust in the brand. Not only can inaccurate business listings and inconsistent NAP data diminish your brand, but did you know it can also affect search engine optimization (SEO)? Yep, you read that right! Listings with false location information are the #1 negative local ranking factor when it comes to SEO. So, not only can false listing data make it hard for customers to find you physically, but online, too.

As you can very well see, being present and being accurate where it matters most in online listings is crucial to survival in today’s dog-eat-dog digital world.

Quality Over Quantity

Businesses don’t always know what they’re getting into with social posting. Most turn to outsourcing because they don’t have the time to get to know the process and learn to navigate social media. They may as well be holding up a big SOS beacon. You need to be an expert in the field so you can provide the best value to your customers.

Most companies agree that “creating compelling content for social media is both the most effective (82%), and most difficult (69%) part of social media marketing tactics.” It’s also one of the most difficult social strategies that brands carry out.

The point is, there’s more to local social media marketing than you might think. There’s a big difference between posting to your personal profile and posting on behalf of your business.


Behind every great business…

… is a group of great people! A business starts with the people who run it and ends with the people who use it. Before thinking about what your business should post or what customers want to see, ask yourself if—as a person— you’d be engaged by that content. If there’s no voice or personality in your business’s online presence, people get disinterested pretty quickly.

Be personal! Connect with your audience. Brands can be promotional and engaging at the same time. Just make sure that the engaging posts outweigh the promotional ones.


The good, the bad and the spammy

Everybody has that one person on Facebook who chokes up their feed with multiple opinion pieces or “buy-my-product” posts. Don’t be that person. Nobody wants to see that from their friends, and guess what? Nobody wants to see it from a business, either.

Focus less yourself and more on your customers. If someone follows your business, they already know what you are selling. There’s no need to over-saturate a feed with links to your website: if it’s listed on the page, followers already know how to get there.

3So what’s the secret? I’ll tell you: providing customers with value is what makes them want to stick around. And I’ll let you in on another secret: businesses don’t have to post something every day to keep that engagement. If you can provide value while posting every day, then by all means, post daily. If that’s not the case, stick to this rule: quality over quantity, folks. Quality wins every time.

What is Digital Advertising and Why Does It Matter?

Digital advertising is the process of using internet technology to deliver promotional advertising to consumers. Digital advertising encompasses promotional ads and messages that are delivered through social media, email, search engine ads, mobile banner ads, affiliate programs and website display ads.

Digital advertising has surpassed traditional advertising

Just how popular is digital advertising? In 2016, the advertising side of the internet ecosystem generated $1.121 trillion for the U.S. economy and is responsible for 10.4 million jobs in the U.S. alone. The increasing popularity of digital advertising and the shift away from the traditional advertising techniques (billboards, newspapers, radio, commercials, etc.) makes sense in this era of connectivity.


Types of digital advertising

Here are some of the most common forms of digital advertising (there are many more):

Social advertising

Ads that rely on social information, platforms or networks to generate, target and deliver advertising. Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn are examples of social platforms with a wide network where businesses can target and deliver advertising.

Display ads/Banner ads

Ads (full banners, squares, buttons and skyscrapers) that are served to users on a page when they are not necessarily searching for your product or service. These ads are shown whenever users are surfing online.

Paid search/Search engine advertising

Advertising within the sponsored listings of a search engine site. You pay each time your ad is clicked or when your ad is displayed.

Email advertising

Using email to send advertisements to current contacts and prospective clients. This can include SPAM, which is not a recommended practice.

Some email networks now offer in-email advertising. Gmail, for instance, uses sponsored, in-line ads directly above the email inbox lines.

Affiliate programs/Ad networks

Businesses reward affiliates for bringing them in visitors or customers as the result of the affiliates’ advertising and marketing efforts. The advertising and marketing efforts can include a mix of digital and/or traditional advertising methods.

Mobile advertising

Ads that appear on mobile devices that have wireless connections. Mobile ads can be delivered as text ads via SMS, banner ads embedded in a mobile site or ads that appear in mobile games or downloaded apps.


Native advertising

Rlevant content distributed from a third party’s site. Information is targeted and valuable. Essentially, you’re renting someone else’s content distribution platform and offering helpful content rather than just plugging your product or service.


Digital advertising cost methods

There are many different types of digital advertising costing models available, of which all stem from the three main types:

  • CPA (Cost Per Action): The advertiser pays the ad publisher only if someone clicks AND completes a transaction. Here, all of the risk falls on the publisher of the ad.
  • PPC (Pay Per Click): The advertiser pays when the ad gets clicked, but the advertiser’s potential customer does not necessarily have to complete a purchase for the ad publisher to get paid. With PPC, target keywords are very important. This is the most common form of online advertising as it benefits both the advertiser and publisher.
  • CPM (Cost Per Mille): Also called CPT (Cost Per Thousand), the advertiser pays the publisher for exposure based on visitors to the website and the number of eyes on an ad.

Benefits of digital advertising

Digital advertising has gained popularity for many reasons. Here are some of the main ones:

  • It is easier to prove ROI
    Clicks and cost can be tracked and more easily measured than a billboard, so it’s easier to gauge the effectiveness of the ads.
  • It is easier track performance
    Similar to the point prior, it is easier to track the performance and calculate metrics as the ads are in the digital space where it is easier to capture the data.
  • A business can adjust their ad budget more readily
    While certain ad methods like PPC involve a long-game method, in some aspects of digital advertising it is easy to shift and adjust bidding and budgets almost instantaneously.
  • It is more precise at reaching targeted audiences
    Due to the nature of online information and how information about users is stored online, ads can be targeted on demographic information or based on user behavior.
  • Digital advertising can enhance or complement other ad channels in the mix
    For businesses using an omni-channel marketing approach, a digital ad can complement a billboard or radio commercial. The more places a customer is reminded of a business, the more the business is kept top of mind.
  • Increases brand recall
    Similar to the point above, the more times a consumer sees a company’s ads or branding, the more they are likely to keep that business top of mind. With so many brands out there, it is important to stand out from the clutter and be a company that users remember.
  • Increases brand interaction
    A digital ad can lead users directly to a company’s website, to interact with a business on social media or to purchase a product online.
  • Digital ads can accompany users across the entire customer journey
    Digital ad methods can be displayed to users at any stage in the customer journey, from the research stage, to the purchase stage and even further.
  • It is where attention spans are
    Last but not least, most people spend a majority of their time in the digital space. Display ads where people are looking, not where they aren’t.

Digital advertising: the main sell

Why wouldn’t your business move your ad spend to where more eyes and attention spans are concentrated? Seldom are people noticing billboards anymore, as they are usually on their phones sending messages, checking emails or connecting with others on social media platforms. The world has changed and so has the world of advertising. If you aren’t advertising online yet, you may want to consider starting soon. Start adding digital advertising to your marketing mix to start reaping the benefits today.

Creating the Perfect Social Post

What makes for good social posting, anyway? In order to craft the perfect social post, we need to take a look at why people follow businesses in the first place.

  • Interest in services and promotions: People love sales! Don’t get TOO excited though. Over posting this information is also one of the leading reasons people unfollow a business.
  • Updates and information: People are interested in what your business is up to! Have new products? Moving locations? Getting an office dog? Post it!
  • Communication: Social media is for connecting. People want to talk to you, and they want to review your products and services. Make sure you’re responding to them: it shows you care about your customers.
  • Entertainment: Are you not entertained? People use social media to get a break from their humdrum day. Post content that will put a smile on their faces or give them something to think about. Hint: it doesn’t always have to be related to your business.

So now that we’ve got a good idea of what people want to see, how do we make the magic happen? When I write social posts, I use three main guidelines to direct me.


The 3 Golden Rules of Local Social Media Marketing

  • Does it provide value? People engage with content that is relevant to them. Consider whether the post is solving a problem, starting a conversation or educating. People love to share information that is new and exciting. In order to provide the best value to your followers and customers, the vast majority (up to 80%) of your content should be useful or engaging information. In fact, posts promoting the business should only account for 10%-20% of the content.
  • Is it emotionally engaging? People love stories, and they share content they connect with. Don’t be afraid to show the more personal side of your business. Really, who hasn’t teared up during a Coke ad or giggled at the Budweiser Clydesdales? Brands that go the extra mile to create an emotional connection with their customers stick in their memories longer. Why not post a cat video? Everyone loves a cat video.
  • Is it visually stimulating? 1200 pixels are worth 1000 words. We’re talking high quality photos, videos and infographics here! Posts that include visuals get way more (almost 650% more) engagement than those without. Keep in mind that not all visuals are created equal. The best ones are the ones that you take yourself, because they’re local, personal and relevant. If you don’t have the capacity to take photos, reposting from other websites and profiles is a great way to keep your page relevant. Quality stock photos are also great resources, just make sure to pay attention to copyright!

Creating content for social media is essential—you need to be present where your customers are, and they’re on social. While it is free to partake, creating an effective social media strategy and sticking to it takes diligence and determination.

How to #Hashtag

How hashtags can help you reach the out-crowd and engage the in-crowd

The facts are in: if you are not using hashtags, you are missing out! With a tweet with hashtags being 33% more likely to get retweeted, these handy hashtags can make the difference between #GameOver and #Trending when it comes to social media success. Hashtags are more than just a fad, they are a means of organizing information and standing out from the crowd. Hashtags are also a way to engage with millennials where they shine brightest – through social media savvy. With millennials beginning to outnumber previous generations, speaking their language has become increasingly important. Do not miss out on this opportunity to #GetSocial!


Hashtag basics

The hashtag (#) turns any word, or group of words, into a link that can be searched. When writing a hashtag, leave your grammar at the door – no punctuation, no spaces! The best way to keep your message clear is to capitalize each word #LikeThis, otherwise known as using CamelCase. Got it? Let’s move on!

There are two ways businesses can use hashtags to their advantage.

  1. To reach the out-crowd by joining a conversation that is already in progress.
  2. To engage the in-crowd by starting a new conversation.

Reaching the out-crowd

As a business, using hashtags to reach potential new customers is a no-brainer. How do you do this effectively? By joining a conversation that is already in progress! Start thinking about what words people would search when looking for a business like yours. If you don’t know where to start, remember the old saying, “Keep your friends close, and your competitors closer”! Follow businesses who are doing similar work to you on all your favorite social media websites – especially those who have a great following. What hashtags are they using, and how many? Keep in mind that less is more both in scope (as hashtags that are more niche have a more engaged following) and in presentation (as too many hashtags looks inauthentic).

For example, this, “Take a bite out of our best burger today! #BurgerLover #Foodie #CheatMeal” is better than this, “Take a bite out of our best burger today! #WhatsForDinner #Foodie #EatClean #CommonTable #OnMyTable #TasteMade #ForkYea #OnTheTable #FoodStyling #BeautifulCuisines #HeresMyFood #TheArtOfSlowLiving #FreshFoods #CheatMeal #BurgerLover #Foodstagram #BurgerLife”.

So, K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Social-Media-User! Using hashtags by joining a pre-existing conversation takes your business and puts it in front of someone who would have never found you otherwise. That’s something you can feel #Blessed about!


Engaging the in-crowd

The second way that you can use hashtags to build your business is by starting a conversation with the followers that you already have by creating an original hashtag. Brands from Calvin Klein (#MyCalvins) to Charmin toilet paper (#TweetFromTheSeat) have managed to create original hashtags that engage their audience in a way that builds their social media momentum. Original hashtags can be used for promotions, contests, events, or general brand awareness. Just be sure that when you are creating an original hashtag that it is clear, simple, unique, and catchy. No one will want to join your conversation if it’s confusing or boring.

Imagine if Coca-Cola’s classic #ShareACoke hashtag was #TakeACocaColaAndGiveItToSomeoneElse – not very fun or memorable! Original hashtags give your followers something to talk about and a way to interact with your business on a personal level.


Not all social media sites are created equal

Using hashtags is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each platform will have its unspoken rules of how many hashtags are acceptable. Where Instagram shows posts with an average of nine hashtags performing the best, Facebook posts get the greatest engagement with only one hashtag. Each social media site is unique in its function and audience, so take the time to explore the sites you want to use for your business before posting.


Are you #Trending yet?

These tips and tricks for how to use hashtags as a business are about more than getting ahead in a technological age. Hashtags, above all, are about building community. By putting a simple pound sign in front of a word, you are taking that message and immediately sharing it with someone who cares about what you do and how you do it. This tool is a revolutionary way to make your words matter and allow them to connect with not only a new customer, but a new spokesperson for your business. From #MotivationalMonday to #FlashbackFriday, use your new hashtagging skills to make both the in-crowd and the out-crowd your new #BFFL.

7 Social Media Tactics for Businesses That Struggle With Social

A strong social media presence is one of the best ways to be heard, and businesses are no exception to this rule. Forget the doorstep; there’s a whole world of potential customers and fans at your fingertips who are actively looking for brands that they can identify and engage with on a personal level. However, social media skills have to be learned, and many businesses struggle to find an audience and connect with them online. If yours is one of them, what can you do to make the best use of social media and all its benefits? How can you create content that gets people to stop scrolling and start reading, liking and sharing?

These 7 social media strategies will help your business build a presence and a following in the most crowded rooms online by creating content that entertains, educates, inspires and engages.


1. Make a plan

Before you rethink your entire social strategy, ask the tough questions. What are your goals as a business, and how will a strong social media presence help you to achieve them? What actions are you going to take to build presence, and how will you measure your success? Establish achievable and quantifiable objectives that are informed by your marketing and business goals, and put a time-frame on how long they should take to achieve. Find the right KPIs and tools to evaluate your progress, and don’t be afraid to change your tactics if something isn’t working.

And remember: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! If you’ve done something in the past that worked well, think about how and why it worked, and let it inform your strategy as you go forward. Similarly, look to past failures and learn from them: how have your past social efforts missed the mark, and how can you avoid these mistakes going forward?

With a roadmap to social success in place, your business can begin to make guided changes to its social strategy that work toward definite goals.


2. Know your audience

There are so many eyes and ears out there on the web, but do you know who is going to listen to your brand’s voice? Identifying and empathizing with your demographic and how they spend their time online makes a huge difference in making your voice heard. Picture your ideal customer. What interests them? What are they passionate about? What do they read, watch, and talk about with their friends? What are their goals, and how can the things you do help to achieve them? The better an understanding you have of your ideal customer, the easier it will be to find people like them online and speak to them with your content.

Listen to your audience and their conversations online about your industry in general and your brand in particular. Find the keywords and phrases in these conversations, learn how they’re used, and put them into practice in your own content. These keywords, which can include anything from industry jargon to misspellings of your company’s name, make up the language that your customers speak – to walk the walk, your business needs to talk the talk.

Finally, knowing the social media influencers your audience follows and engaging with the things that interest them can put you straight into your audience’s line of sight. Learn from what influencers do to engage your audience, and put it into practice in your own social media strategy.


3. Tell your story

Just like every person, every business has a story; no two are alike. Use your social media channels to build a narrative around your business that shows how it got to where it is today. Invite your audience to think about where they enter into that narrative: how are your followers involved and invested in your success? How can the things your business does change a person’s day, or change the way they live their lives?

One way to nail a narrative is to find your niche and own it. If your service or product fits into a certain lifestyle, build a story around it, and highlight your place in it. You know the unique value of your business – tell the world about it, and appeal to an audience that will benefit from it.


4. Get conversational

Social media is a two-way street, and driving engagement with your brand means taking hold of the reins and engaging with your audience. Make your business part of the conversation online by asking and answering questions, making friends, and following back. Things don’t always have to be about sales: sharing holiday greetings, discussing local events, and starting a dialogue about current news stories are all ways a business can drive engagement from their audience and learn more about their demographic.

Most importantly, share with your audience and encourage them to share with you! Ask your audience about what they want to see, take the feedback and deliver on it. If you see someone doing something cool with your product or sharing a success story, like it, retweet it, or give a shout out! When your audience is engaged with your brand, you become a part of their network, and everyone gets to see how your business fits into the lives of people just like them. This widens your audience and compounds your chances of generating engagement.


5. Go live!

Facebook Live has quickly become a powerhouse marketing tool for the biggest brands. Your followers are notified the moment you go live, and can join at any time to watch you broadcast the things that matter to the both of you. Is your company reaching a milestone, or releasing a brand new product? Has your warehouse just received a long-awaited and much anticipated shipment? Go live, and share the moment with your fans! Hold a live Q&A session, give fans a sneak peek at exciting things in the works, or simply broadcast a day in the life of an employee. When your fans see the real people behind your products or services and share in their successes, it lays the foundation for a fanbase that is engaged, loyal, and eager to see more!


6. Call to action

Make your statements short and sweet, and provide a way for your audience to follow up and learn more. Succinctness is a virtue and brevity is the soul of wit, especially in the fast-paced world of social media, and many social media platforms have embraced this philosophy to the point of integrating it into the very nature of user interaction. Twitter’s 140-character limit is an obvious example, but Snapchat’s ephemeral photos and videos and Instagram’s bite-sized Boomerang and Stories features are more recent examples. These limitations allow you to create captivating copy and striking visuals that inspire interest and are digested at a glance. Once you have their attention, encourage users to follow up by clicking a link, signing up for an email newsletter, or looking through a complete product line to get more of the content that hooked them!


7. Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3…

Finally, always be improving. Don’t focus on a single successful formula and stick to it. Variety is the spice of life, so keep an eye out for new trends, new conversations, and new mediums to get your message out there – but be scientific about it. Keep your eyes on the KPIs, put your strategies to the test by comparing their results, and learn from your failures as well as your successes to evolve along with your audience and your social media networks as they grow.


To wrap things up

The world of social media is constantly evolving, and with these tactics your business will find its place in the world beyond a brick and mortar shop or a domain name. Take stock of how far you’ve come, and set clear and measurable objectives that correspond to your business goals. Get to know your audience, tell them your story, and get involved by listening to what they have to say. Go live, give your followers a taste of what you have to offer, and provide the means for them to learn more about what you can do for them. Always pay attention to what works, learn from what doesn’t, and test out new ideas to keep improving your reach. Most importantly, remember the point of social media: to connect people! Use your social media channels as a platform to connect to and grow your audience, not just as a megaphone to talk at them. Now get out there and give the people something to talk about!

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