New Social Media Trends You'll See in 2015

Social Media Trends in 2015

As the year 2014 draws to a close, many of us are looking forward to a nice, relaxing holiday. And it's well deserved--2014 was a busy year for us! But for marketers? Marketers tend to struggle with letting their brains completely relax, and so are already looking ahead to 2015 and analyzing social media trends to figure out how to plan an even better marketing strategy. So let's talk about marketing with social media. What can we expect to see in 2015?

While we don't think we will be seeing tons of innovation (more on that below), we will see an increase in what's already becoming popular: More visual content and more mobile content. Let's take a look at some examples:

E-Commerce will take off

E-Commerce

 

Image courtesy of Mashable.com

Earlier in the year, Facebook and Twitter began playing around with “buy” buttons that appeared alongside content. This made it so that users could easily make purchases with just a few clicks, and they'd never even have to leave the network.

And guess what? It seems they're doing pretty well with it.

You can expect this to continue into 2015, with many advertisers pushing hard to integrate this strategy in the top social media sites. By sticking that button in there, it not only increases the likelihood that someone will purchase something from your website, it also gives hard sales numbers for analysts to keep exact track of data. Before, this wasn't possible. And considering that currently, over half of all mobile searches lead to a purchase, you can see why it makes marketers so giddy. So if you want to be on top of the e-commerce trend, you're definitely going to be ready to implement these changes in the coming year.

Social media marketing will be even more popular

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Content strategy was a central theme to marketing in 2014. And guess what? It's going to be sticking around for 2015. But this time around, marketers are going to press for a content strategy by leaning heavily on social media distribution.

What does that mean? Basically, there were a lot of companies that created content in 2014, but a good percentage of them didn't bother to amplify this content through social media channels. And to be honest, that's just silly. Promoting your content through popular social media platforms should be your primary goal in terms of content marketing. Your reach and visibility is greatly increased through social media. If you need more proof, you can read more here, here, or here. Take your pick :)

You're going to see even more new networks

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Yes, we know, we said right away in the article that there wasn't going to be a whole lot of innovation. So you might be wondering: If this is the case, then how can there be so many new social networks popping up? Ello, Yik Yak, and many others have burst onto the scene, so what gives?

Well, there's always going to be someone new, someone trying to take a slice of the pie that is already being shared between social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. But will they last? Many of these new sites promise true privacy (and this is a draw to many with all the recent privacy breaches), but even if they deliver, it's still incredibly difficult to make a dent in the already over-saturated social media scene. A large number of new social media platforms end up feeling incredibly empty and lonely, which directly goes against the primary reason people use social media in the first place: to be social!

So while you're going to see lots of new, shiny sites to sign up for, don't worry too much about being on top of every new trend: Many aren't going to last. It's still worth it to be aware of the trends, though!

Have you noticed any other social media trends that you think are going to be big in the coming year? Let us know in the comments!

10 Reasons to Engage with Customers Online

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1. You personalize your brand

Engaging with customers allows you to control the flow of the conversation. If they ask for clarification on an upcoming sale, you can give it to them. If you thank them for taking the time to promote your brand, you can choose how you want to engage. It's all a great way to show your brand's personality—and to demonstrate how unique your company is!

2. Customers give feedback for free

Many times, customers will respond to an image or a status that you share on your social media platforms: they'll chime in with their thoughts, answer a question, or let you know how they feel about your most recent promotions. And this is a great way to find out what your customers are thinking without forcing them to take a survey—basically, you get free feedback. And who doesn't love that?

3. You present a positive image

If you're a fan of a company like Coca-Cola, you probably don't expect a lot of interaction with the brand--they're simply too big to get back to every person who tries to engage with them. But if you're a fan of a local hair salon, you more than likely expect that they'll get back to you in a timely manner--they should care about their customers. You feel they should strive to interact with customers because they're local—which is precisely why you, as a local business owner, have to be aware of your customers' needs. They'll communicate their interests and thoughts to you online—whether by email, twitter, or Facebook. When you respond to their concerns, you present a positive image that lasts.

4. Customers will share content for free

A great thing about posting on your social media networks is that your customers will be eager to share your content. Whether you're asking them to share for a chance to win a coupon, or they're simply doing it on their own because you post such great content, you're getting free advertisement. When you engage with your customers, they'll be happy to share your content, and you all benefit from that.

5. Networking is good for everyone

When your customers interact with you, you may be surprised to learn that some among the group are actually quite high-status clients. You can use this to your advantage by making a real connection with them and agreeing to help one another out. Trade blog posts, promote each other's stores or websites, or simply share social media updates. You'll both benefit from this mutual transaction, and your fans get the benefit of seeing that you're willing to network and share with others!

6. You might get free recommendations

When you engage with customers, you'll find that they appreciate you taking the time out of your day to respond to them. This in turn can increase their opinion of your brand. And if they love your brand, they'll recommend you to friends. Think of the last time a restaurant owner responded to your comment or review personally—it felt nice, didn't it? You owe your customers this courtesy. Deliver it, and they'll react accordingly.

7. Positive word of mouth

The beauty of online marketing is that it doesn't have to stay online. By building your brand image and engaging with customers, you'll make a good impression that will follow you offline, too. Whether you're a plumber or the owner of a salon, if you're friendly and active online, your customers will spread great news about you by word of mouth. This in turn can bring more visitors to your store or more phone calls to your office!

8. Brand awareness spreads

A natural consequence of networking, sharing, and recommendations is that your brand awareness spreads. Every time a new person learns about your business, your brand has made a new impression! So remember that even if you're not where you'd like to be in terms of followers/fans or interactions, you are still building platform for yourself. There are some benefits that come from this, too!

9. Consistency will bring in more visitors

If you update every once in a while and never interact with your fans or followers, you'll find that people tend to view you as unreliable. You'll start to lose fans, and people won't care about your updates as much as they would if you were consistent. You can prevent this by regularly updating, engaging with your community, and by presenting a friendly, consistent image. Remember that even if you're not hitting your projected numbers, you're still growing. You can always change up your plan, as long as you don't quit altogether.

10. More traffic to your website and other social media accounts

Finally, your shining example of being a great business owner will help you gather more followers and fans, as well as drive more traffic to your website. Be sure to post your website's address as well as any other contact info across all of your social networks. That way, if someone finds you on Twitter, they can still visit your website or go to “like” your Facebook page. Conversely, if they find your website and want to follow you on social media, they can easily navigate to your profiles directly from your website. Easy and simple!

As you can see, it's important to engage with your customers for so many reasons. Your presence online can truly affect how you're perceived both online and off. By implementing a consistent routine and keeping a positive attitude, you'll find that the benefits of engaging with customers online are only going to better your business.

Can you think of any other benefits of engaging with customers online? Let us know!

Working Effectively with Internet Marketing Experts

internet-marketing-experts So you’ve hired internet marketing experts to take over the marketing strategy for your small business. You’re excited to see results and you’ve already begun paying for your marketing team to begin the work. You check your rankings the next day, and it seems that you haven’t moved up at all. You check again after a week, and things still don’t seem to be going as planned. At this point, you’re frustrated and ready to tell them you’re finished—you want to work with a different internet marketing company. If you feel like this, you’re not alone. Many small business owners have felt the exact way you do—so in this article, we’re going to talk about making the most of your experience with internet marketing experts, and what you can reasonably expect while implementing your marketing strategy.

Internet marketing is not an overnight process.

When you hire a gardener to plant your garden and tend to the plants as they grow, you know the process will take time. You don’t expect a seed to germinate into a blooming flower the next day! The same thing goes for marketing. Internet marketing experts need to take a look at your individual case and plan accordingly. For example, some clients have zero presence on the internet—no website, no local listings, no blog. Others have been doing their own work and simply need assistance managing social media or content distribution. By the same token, there are industries in which there is a lot of competition—HVAC, roofing contractors, and auto mechanics. Other industries have an easier time ranking because they are one of a few businesses that provide a service in an area—people like dentists, medical specialists, or even psychics. Everyone’s case is different, and everyone takes a different amount of time to begin appearing on the first page. So how is this possible? Well, Google combs through data on a daily basis, and it begins to compare this data over time. So it makes sense that it’s not going to find your site, immediately deem it the “most relevant” and put it at the top of the search results above all of your competitors. It takes time for Google to weigh and determine site relevancy, so you must be patient as this process takes shape.

Changing things without consulting your marketing team can result in setbacks.

If you’re feeling antsy about a particular keyword not showing up, you might feel like you want to get rid of it and choose another. But if you go into your blog or Google Places and begin changing keywords around, you’ll eventually find that you can easily undo all the hard work you’ve put in already--even if you meant well. This isn’t to say you can never (or should never) change keywords—sometimes, you find that you’ll just stay on the second or third page indefinitely with the amount of competition you’re facing. In this case, talk to your marketing team and determine new keywords to use. Over time, you’ll hopefully see improvements for these terms. If you don’t see any new traffic growth over the first few months, then you definitely need to take a look at what’s going wrong and make adjustments accordingly. The main lesson here is to not go ahead and do things without consulting your team. You are, after all, paying them to help you rank. You should always understand one another and what your goals are. If there is no communication between you and your marketing experts, then you’ll essentially be throwing away money. You need to work together!

Get involved and learn about the process.

Obviously if you’re hiring internet marketing experts to manage your marketing strategy, it’s because you don’t have the time (or desire) to learn how to do marketing on your own. And that’s fine! But if you take the time to learn just a few basics about internet marketing, you’ll find that you can more easily follow along with the process and even enhance it. At Internet Local Listings, we do manage many clients’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. However, our clients often ask to be involved with the process, and we encourage it. By tweeting, updating your Facebook status, or writing content for your own page, you’re helping the process along and learning more about how to work with your internet marketing team as you go. That’s a great thing! By combining ideas and discussing tactics, you can enhance your team just like you would with traditional or word-of-mouth marketing. Give input, feedback, and get your hands "dirty", and you’ll get a lot more out of your internet marketing experience. If you would like to learn more about digital or online marketing, check out our Back to Basics series, where you can learn about SEO basics and discover simple changes you can implement on your site to help boost your rankings. If you want to hire a team of qualified internet marketing experts, simply give us a call at (888) 770-3950 or visit our contact us page and fill out a form. You can also use our scanner to see if your site is listed correctly across the internet! So contact us today to discuss your marketing concerns with our experienced, qualified internet marketing experts!   Check out these pages for more information on internet marketing tips:

 

Why Small Business Marketing is Essential in 2014 and Beyond

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small-business-marketing-in-2014 Getting the word out about your business has always been your top priority. As a small business owner, you already understand how important marketing is—whether it's word of mouth, fliers, direct marketing, or running local advertising campaigns, you know that you have to get the word out or your numbers suffer. But what many small business owners don't take into consideration is a marketing plan. And without some type of marketing strategy, you'll likely become frustrated, not knowing whether your efforts are paying off.

This is the primary reason that small business marketing is now non-negotiable. In 2014, we have a number of options to help us determine how and where to market to our clients: social media, blogs, video marketing, online local business listings, Google Places, and more. With all of these tools at our disposal, is there any excuse not to have a marketing plan in place?

No, there isn't. In this article, we'll talk a bit about why small business marketing is essential in 2014 and beyond. When you understand just how effective marketing is for your business, you'll have a better foundation to grasp the concepts of beginning your own marketing campaign.

Small business marketing is the only way to get the word out.

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You've heard of companies like Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, and Apple. Why is that? Because they have a massive consumer base and they have massive marketing budgets. Their ads are fed to you frequently to ensure you know what the company is up to, and they make sure that their products stay up-to-date and relevant.

Now, you're probably thinking, “Well, I don't have that kind of money to spend on an advertising campaign!” and you're probably right. Most small business marketing budgets are scant. And that's okay. You don't need a ton of money to start seeing returns on your efforts. As we've discussed in previous articles, you can implement social marketing strategies for very little money, and you can get started with blogging completely free of charge. The best thing about this type of marketing is that you can begin to spend money whenever you like to boost your efforts. Want to place an ad on Facebook? You can spend as little as $5 a day to promote your business. Want to pay for a domain name and host your blog as a website? For less than $20, you can grab a domain name, and hosting can be as low as $3-5 a month. There's no reason you must feel like you are required to spend thousands of dollars just to be seen online.

When you get the word out with small business marketing, you begin to build your audience online. And that's the #1 most important thing.

In 2014, traditional networking is still important.

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Networking. It sounds like a buzzword, and to some extent, that's what it's become. That aside, you should never underestimate the power of networking. If you go to local business expos, connect with influencers on Twitter and Facebook, and simply ask your customers to refer you to friends and family, then you're already networking. If you're not networking and these activities don't sound like they'll increase your sales, then think of it this way: you're building a strong reputation and a sturdy foundation of support and availability for your clients. And that is absolutely essential.

The easiest way to get started is to simply ask your customers to review you on Yelp and Google. This has the added bonus of sending “relevancy” signals to Google, helping you to rank higher. Many customers would be happy to submit positive reviews when asked, but they often don't bother to go online and leave reviews otherwise.

You can also get started on Facebook and Twitter for free. Place signs around your office or store that tell customers where they can find you online. Ask friends and family to spread the word. None of this will cost you a thing, except maybe an hour or two of your time to craft the signs!

Are press releases outdated? Nope. Not even close.

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Spread the word about newsworthy business developments: A new product, a sale, or a special event your company is attending or hosting. Try to send out a press release once a month to keep the word about your company relevant and fresh. This can cost money if you choose to promote your company online—you can pay anywhere from $120 to upwards of $250 to have your press release promoted on popular sites. But you don't have to do this. Small business marketing is all about leveraging your local connections. Talk to your local newspaper or ask to be on the news or featured on a radio show. You can talk about your new products or even offer customers a special discount if they mention your interview or article. By doing this regularly, you can easily make a good impression on your local community.

The new way of connecting to customers: Videos.

YouTube logo small business

Many small businesses specialize in a specific, niche service: Plumbing, dog grooming, notary services, etc. Think of how you felt when you first started learning about your industry. You probably felt overwhelmed and looked to professionals for guidance. Or consider how you feel when you want to save money and try to take care of things yourself—fixing a pipe or cleaning your roof, for instance. Many people look up tutorials now on YouTube.

This might seem counter-intuitive to teach your customers learn how to help themselves, but it is actually a great way for your customers and company to share a dialogue. It establishes you as an authority figure and expert in your industry. Plus, taking the time to create a video tutorial for your customers shows that you spend time thinking of their needs—and customers truly appreciate that. Finally, videos on YouTube, when properly optimized, send strong relevancy signals to search engines, and that helps your website rank higher.

And there you have it. Small business marketing is essential in 2014. You need to network to connect with clients. You need to create content to stay relevant on search engines. You need to connect with customers in new and innovative ways. As the internet grows more content-based, your small business will have to keep on top of these trends to ensure your customers are still finding you.

If you need assistance with any small business marketing services, Internet Local Listings is always here to help. Simply contact us here or visit our site for more information. We have a special running right now, too—so act fast and save money while you start bringing in more customers!

Back to Basics #8: Social Media Trends: Do Small Businesses Need to Keep Up?

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social-media-trends-for-small-businesses Small business owners: Are you tired of hearing about the importance of social media? Have you started up a Facebook page or Twitter account and decided that it’s just too much effort for too little payoff? Well, you’re not alone. Many small business owners feel that social media trends don’t offer a lot for their companies—what’s popular today might be gone in a couple of months, after all. And who wants to spend a lot of time building up a following just to find out that there’s another new social media network out there?

Unfortunately, you still need to be harnessing the power of social media. Even if you don’t keep up to date with social media trends, you will find that there are certain staples that are here to stay—at least for a few years. And that’s plenty of time for you to invest in your followers and customers to make sure they connect with your company.

The number of small businesses jumping on board with social media trends is only growing.

Did you know that…

  • 88% of small businesses use LinkedIn.
  • 84% of small businesses use Facebook.
  • 74% of small businesses use Twitter.
  • 58% of small businesses use Google+.

(statistics taken from HeidiCohen.com)

And the numbers are only growing. Many small business owners who haven’t begun social media marketing yet say that they plan on implementing a strategy within the next year. Those who already have often say that they want to step up marketing efforts and track results more carefully. If you’re in the former camp, check out our articles to learn more about what social media is, and how to develop effective social media marketing strategies on a small business budget.

Text and photos aren’t enough anymore—you need to try out videos.

Another one of the top social media trends for small businesses is the growing usage of YouTube. Companies are happily producing their own visual content for their customers. According to a small business survey conducted by Verticalresponse.com, 35% of the small businesses they surveyed said that they used YouTube as a part of their regular marketing efforts. With the number of free video creation programs available on the internet now, it’s become much easier for even the most non-artistic person to make informative, engaging, and SEO-friendly videos. You can actually have a lot of fun creating videos for your customers—think of them like visual blog articles. You can talk about a variety of subjects relating to your industry. For blogging ideas, check out our article here and apply some ideas to your video content. The videos don’t have to be stiff and “corporate” in appearance--you can make them as unique as your company.

But what about the competition? How do you keep up?

Yes, it’s true that your competition will likely be using social media just as you are. And it’s also true that as people join social media sites, you'll have more competitors. You'll be competing not only for business, but for your content to even be seen in the first place! Think about it: If the average Facebook user has, say, 300 friends, how many posts do you think they’ll see in a day? A lot. Now think of all the companies they’ve “liked”. There’s going to be a lot of competition to be seen on their news feed.

Unfortunately, as the user base for social media sites grows, the competition levels get continually tougher. And usually the only way around this is to start paying. You can pay for ads to be placed on a target demographic’s page, or you can “boost” your posts to make sure they stay on top of a news feed. You’re certainly not forced to do this by any means—but remember this as time goes on.

Whether you’re new to social media or you’ve been working on it for years, there’s no way around it: small businesses must stay on top of social media trends if they want to see organic growth online. This isn’t to say you must spend 24 hours a day on social media; however, with regular updates and time investment, you’ll see your engagement growing and your efforts paying off.

And if social media trends are just too much for you to handle right now...

If you need help managing your social media accounts, visit Internet Local Listings and take a look at our internet marketing packages. We’ll be happy to help you get whatever you need to be seen online--whether it's social media, a new website, or local business listings!

Mobile Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

Mobile marketing tips for small  businesses Today more than ever, it’s important for small businesses to optimize their websites for mobile access. According to statistics released by Strategy Analytics, as of 2012, more than one billion people used smart phones to access the internet. But to be brutally honest, sites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices load slowly and look terrible—and smart phone users immediately leave a site if this happens to them. And can you blame them? If you are browsing the internet, you don’t want to have to feel like you must solve a puzzle in order to use a website! So if your small business website isn’t optimized for mobile, that is a lot of potential business you’re losing out on. What can you do to remedy this?

In this article, we’ll take a look at three great mobile marketing tips for small businesses.

Mobile Marketing Tip #1: Responsive Design

As mentioned above, mobile web design needs to be implemented in order for smart phone (or tablet) users to browse your site effectively. Responsive design is a type of web design that detects which device a user is using to access your site, and adjusts the screen accordingly. This reduces load time, simplifies form submission (who likes typing out tons of information on a phone keyboard? No one, that’s who), and makes the site look professional and clean no matter how your visitors are logging on. Your customers deserve to have the best experience possible, and you owe it to them as a professional business owner!

Mobile Marketing Tip #2: Optimize Your Social Media Accounts

According to Constant Contact, up to 91% of local searchers use Facebook to find business online. When you sign up for Facebook as a business, you can fill out your location, business hours, phone number, and any other important local information. When a visitor finds you via search, they’ll be able to see all of this information displayed neatly on their mobile device. Setting up a Facebook account is easy—it takes fewer than 10 minutes to get the basics down. Plus, it’s free!

Setting up Twitter is also simple. You can localize your Twitter profile by filling out the “location” section, and add your website or contact information in your profile header. Many people search on Twitter for businesses, so make sure that you can be found easily and quickly by completing your profile fully. Like Facebook, Twitter is also free to use.

The bottom line? If you’re not on Facebook or Twitter, you could be missing out on a large amount of mobile traffic. And because both platforms are free, there’s no excuses!

For more information on social media marketing for small businesses, check out our article here: Developing Successful Social Media Strategies.

Mobile Marketing Tip #3: Opt-in for Text Messaging

This tip is a bit tricky, particularly for small businesses just getting into mobile marketing. You can allow your customers to opt-in for text message alerts. But here’s the catch: text messaging is pretty private, even if the customers DO want to sign up for alerts. So texts should only be sent when you have something better than normal to offer—a 24 hour sale, a limited inventory, or for a limited-time item that’s almost sold out. Allowing someone to opt-in can be a great way to get a customer back into your store and purchasing your products, but you have to remember to respect their boundaries.

Check out this resource to get started on building your website with responsive designs:

http://www.cio.com/article/2387279/developer/7-tools-to-build-websites-using-responsive-design.html

Or you can always visit Internet Local Listings and check out our websites. With our premium website packages, you’ll get 100% customized websites that look professional and are completely mobile responsive!

Do you have other suggestions for mobile marketing tips for small businesses? Leave them in the comments below!

Is Word of Mouth Marketing Still Effective?

word-of-mouth-marketing In today’s busy, online-centric world, you hear a lot about how social media is the answer to everything: more traffic to your website, more phone calls to your business, and more customers purchasing your products and services. As a small business owner, you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on complicated advertising campaigns. While larger businesses have millions to pour into campaigns that they can adjust over time, you have a very limited budget and no excess to tweak your strategy in the future. So you’re probably still relying on word of mouth marketing. But is it still effective? Are you getting the most you possibly can from it?

Word of Mouth is Still a Reliable Marketing Method

Many small business owners say that they still use word-of-mouth advertising and that it is effective for their marketing efforts. In fact, two in three marketers say that word of mouth marketing is actually more effective than any other traditional marketing tactics they’ve tried. According to a study done by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, 70% of marketers say that their companies will increase social media budgets in the next year, whereas only 29% say that they’ll spend more on offline word-of-mouth marketing. So what does this mean? It means that small businesses rely on word-of-mouth marketing, they find it to be effective, and because of this, they don’t see it as necessary to dump a bunch of money into it. It’s a safe investment for them because they get real results.

Word of Mouth Marketing is More Flexible Than You Think

If you think about it, you can still benefit from word of mouth marketing while utilizing modern social media tactics.

Sites like Angie’s List make it possible for your customers to leave feedback in an online space designed to market your business. Encourage your happy customers to leave you a glowing review to bring in more business. It’s like telling a friend that you really loved a restaurant and then they go and check it out. Someone recommends your site on Angie’s List and that’s a lot of clout.

Yelp  is also a great site to show how awesome your small business is. Again, encourage your happy customers to leave reviews and help spread the word about your business. Yelp is practically a go-to resource for those looking for local businesses.

Facebook is another way you can connect with local customers. When your customers share your statuses or interact with you on your page, they’re more likely to buy from you. In fact, 85% of customers who follow brands on Facebook are likely to recommend it to their friends.

You Can Still Encourage Customers to Spread the Word in Person

While all of these strategies work to spread the word about your company, simply talking to friends and family is still an effective way to bring in new customers. If you are in the business of working directly with clients—say, as a lawyer, doctor, or dentist—you have a lot to gain from this. People are far more likely to take recommendations from friends and family when it comes to important things like finances and health.

Let the experts at Internet Local Listings help you get the word out about your business. We’ll get you listed across all major online directories and we even provide updates for social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. By working together, we can get people talking about your brand—and help you draw in new clientele.

Back to Basics #5: Blogging for Beginners

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If you’ve never heard the saying “Content is King” then you’d better get used to hearing it now! When you run your own website, the best way to keep your clients up to date and to keep the search engines happy is to post new blog articles. Frequently.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself that you’re not a professional writer. Maybe you’re worried that that you simply don’t have time to update a blog. While you may be correct about not having formal training in writing, it’s more than likely not true that you don’t have the time to do this. You do. You just have to break it down into small chunks. In this article, we’ll talk a bit about how beginners can overcome the fear of putting their writing out there, and how they can find the time to keep updating regularly.

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Blogging for Beginners Step 1: Create a List of Topics

Before you begin blogging, it’s a good idea to have a list of potential topics to write about. You may be tempted to just write about what you’re up to when you’re at work, or maybe something that’s going on with your family. While it’s important to keep that human connection in your posts, it’s also important to keep your customers informed of key topics relating to the services you offer. To help illustrate, let’s take a fictional business and talk about a few good topics they could use in their blog.

Sam’s Pest Control is a small, family-owned company in Anywhere, USA. They want to start a blog to connect with their customers and draw in new clients. They might want to write about things like:

  • What pest control can do for your home or business
  • How you’ll save money in the long run when you use a pest control service regularly
  • How to keep your home protected from pests
  • Innovations in humane pest control
  • How pest control services change with the seasons

And there are probably many more topics to choose from. But as you can see, by thinking outside the box, you can come up with a long list of blog topics that will keep you writing for months to come.

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Blogging for Beginners Step 2: Create a Blogging Schedule

Continuing with our Sam’s Pest Control analogy, we’ll take a look at how to build a schedule that you can work with, even if you’re busy running your own business.

Sam works Monday through Friday, and often, he works overtime. He’s exhausted when he comes home and definitely doesn’t think he has hours to spare on blogging. He’s a business owner, not a writer—so how is he supposed to manage all of this?

It’s simpler than he thinks.

First of all, don’t worry about writing grammatically perfect posts. You can edit and use a spell checker and still make your point. Obviously you should try to edit your post so that it makes sense, but don’t presume you have to craft perfect prose to be a successful blogger for your small business.

Second, set aside 15 minutes a night. Write however much you can—a good goal to start with is 100 words. If you do this five days a week, you’ll have one 500-word post to put up by the end of your workweek. And keeping up the schedule of posting once a week is a very realistic, very achievable goal for small business owners. Whether you choose to do it after dinner or right when you get home is up to you. Just create that schedule and stick with it.

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Blogging for Beginners Step 3: Create Your Blog

Now that you have a list of topics and a schedule you WILL stick to (we believe in you!), you can go ahead and create your blog. Some people prefer to just update with text on their website. While this can work, it makes it difficult for people to find posts as you start to amass a lot of articles.

The better choice for a small business is to sign up for a free blog at Wordpress.com. You can also choose to go with other platforms like Blogger, but Wordpress has a lot of support and is widely used. In our experience, it runs more smoothly and has more customization options as well.

For your blog name, try to choose something short and to the point. Remember that this is connected to your company, so you’ll want to choose something relevant; something that conveys the company image. Sam’s Pest Control is, thankfully, a short enough company name that he can probably choose that. (It will end up looking something like samspestcontrol.wordpress.com.) If you have a longer company name (something like Sparkle Power Wash and Window Shine Company) you’ll want to shorten it to something that reflects your business’s services, such as “sparklewashco.wordpress.com” to keep customers from getting confused.

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Blogging for Beginners Step 4: Customize Your Blog

So you’ve claimed your blog and you’ve prepared lists for post ideas. Good! Now you have to customize your blog and get it set up for visitors to see.

One of the worst mistakes a beginning blogger can make is choosing a terrible layout. The colors are awful, music starts playing when you navigate to the page (hint: NEVER do that; at least give visitors the chance to press play if they’d like to hear the music), and the pictures don’t align correctly.

Thankfully, this is actually a very easy thing to avoid.

When you sign up with your blogging service, they’ll provide free layouts. You can choose from any one of these and make your blog look sleek and professional without having to know a word of coding. Furthermore, most allow you to customize colors, fonts, and pictures, so you can still make the blog look unique without sacrificing utility or aesthetics.

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Blogging for Beginners Step 5: Promote Your Blog

Once you have everything set up and you’ve written your first post, you’ll have to promote it. You could have the best blog post in the world, but if you don’t put it out there, no one will find it! The internet is a huge place and there are lots of people vying for the attention of clients, including your competition.

So how do you make sure that the right people see your work?

Post it on all of your social media channels. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn—whatever you use, make sure you post a link to your blog. Try submitting to StumbleUpon. Reach out to local press outlets if you have an announcement to make about your company—maybe you’re rolling out a new product, or maybe you’ve hired a new employee and you want to do an employee spotlight. Whatever the news is, you can contact local journalists or blogs and see if they’d like to cover your post.

Finally, make sure your existing customers know about your social media sites and your blog. Invite them to follow you or sign up for a newsletter and you’ll be surprised at how many people will be happy to oblige!

 

Good luck with your new blog! With regular contributions and some effort to get the word out, you’ll soon be seeing new visitors and increased interest in your small business. And if you need help with the marketing aspect of this, don’t hesitate to contact Internet Local Listings. We’re social media marketing experts and would be happy to help you market your site!

3 Easy Google Ranking Factors to Implement on Your Website

Google Ranking Factors, Google Logo Learning to market your own website can seem like an extremely daunting task, particularly if you’re new to being online. But there’s no need to worry. All it takes is learning a few easy tricks and you’ll start seeing improvement on your site’s ranking. So what’s the easiest way to improve your site’s ranking without spending a fortune? By learning a bit about content creation. Content creation is one of the top ways you can improve your site’s rankings because Google places a lot of value on websites with valuable content. This means that the successful sites update often with helpful posts. Google also particularly likes posts with pictures and great formatting that includes using bolding and italics. In this post, we’ll go over the top 3 easiest Google ranking factors to start implementing on your site—once you’re armed with this information, you’ll be ahead of the game!

Update frequently.

Google is constantly caching new data. As such, it’s important that your site stays up to date by posting fresh content frequently. This doesn’t mean that you need to update every hour, or even every day—but at least once a week should help. Easy topics include posting about what your company is up to, any specials you’re running, or events that are on the horizon. But don’t just promote yourself—always find ways to connect with your customers and engage them in a conversation. If you find yourself running low on post ideas, try thinking outside the box a bit. What would your customers like to learn about? What are some related interests that your readers might find useful? For example, let’s say you run a dog grooming studio. You might try writing about:

  • The best hairstyles of the Westminster Dog Show
  • The top foods to feed your dog to keep his or her coat healthy
  • Little-known facts about dog breeds throughout history

Your clients would find all of these posts fun, entertaining, and useful, and they’ll surely enjoy coming back to check out your site to see your new content. You can use these posts as a way to pitch your business as well—just include links to relevant products and services at the end of the posts!

Use images in your posts.

Not only does this make your post look better, but it is actually one of the easiest Google ranking factors to understand and implement. Most blogs allow you to set a “featured image” before you publish a post. You’ll need to upload a relevant picture and name it something descriptive. For example, the title “dog grooming scissors” is better than just “scissors”. Set this phrase as the image’s name and as well as the “alt” text. Why? Because images on-page deliver strong relevancy data through their file name, alt text, title, description and caption. Plus, when others share your post on Facebook or Twitter, the picture will show up with the text. People are much more likely—in fact, 42% more likely—to click on links with photos, so it’s a win-win all around! Here are a few key things to remember:

  • You’ll find the file name, alt text, title, description, and caption in your blog’s image editor. Wordpress makes it very simple and intuitive. You can do it all from an organized “dashboard” while you’re crafting your post.
  • If you’re having trouble understanding how to use an image in a post, here is a great tutorial at ManageWP Blog. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing this already!

Use title tags and repetition.

This time, let’s say you run a salon, and you want to make sure that the search engines know that you have the best salon hair products. You’ve uploaded your image appropriately, and now you’re set to write your content. So how do you make sure your content stands out among the competition? There are two main things to consider. You don’t need to understand a lot about marketing to do this—it’s simple and easy. The first is to include the keyword in the title. This makes sense. If you’re writing about salon hair produts, be sure to put that in your post’s title. It’s that simple! Ideally, you should put the keyword toward the beginning rather than close to the end, but this doesn’t really make that much difference. To illustrate, an example would be:

  • Salon Hair Products: Worth the Price Tag?
  • Why Everyone Should Invest in Salon Hair Products

The first title would be better simply because “salon hair products” appears at the beginning of the title. However, both utilize the keyword, so they’re both good choices.

Keyword Repetition

One of the most important Google ranking factors to this day is the repetition of the keyword or key phrase. When Google scans your content, it will pick up on phrases that have been repeated. It will see this as relevant, and thus, you’ll rank higher for that keyword or key phrase. This is all well and good, but it’s also been one of the most heavily-abused ranking practices. You must be sure that when you write your content, your keywords fit in without being referenced too often. There is no magic number to aim for, but use it a few times in a natural way and you should be fine.

More About Google Ranking Factors

There’s so much more to ranking on Google than what was discussed in this article. But the information you’ve received here should help you learn the basics of blogging for search engine optimization! Now, as a small business owner, you can certainly take the time to craft your own posts according to these rules. However, unless you become an expert in the content marketing industry, you won't be able to match the results you'd get by hiring professional writers.  This is also a time-consuming endeavor--you must update frequently to see results. So if you find yourself strapped for time and want to get the best services available, you can always give Internet Local Listings the chance to create great content for you! Simply call us or fill out our form here and we’ll be happy to talk to you about how we can put all the important Google ranking factors to work for your business.

5 Ways to Try New Marketing Strategies this Summer

Why not try new marketing strategies this summer! 2014 is already almost half over. We’re quickly heading into summer, and with that change come a different set of goals and priorities for business owners. Whether you own a contracting business or a salon, your summer advertising is going to have to change to better accommodate your clients and customers!

For many small businesses, the budget available for advertising and marketing purposes is scant, and that makes the prospect of shifting gears for your marketing campaigns rather frightening, to say the least. But changing your focus doesn’t mean you need to shell out tons of money. Here, we’ll look at 5 ways you can try out new marketing strategies this summer without breaking the bank and changing up everything you’ve put in place already.

  1. Shift Marketing Strategies to Include More Social Media Engagement. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again here: social media is imperative to your marketing success. If you’ve been lax on updating Facebook or sending out tweets, now is the time to brush up on it. Connect with your customers and clients in a meaningful way while they have lazier days at home over the summer months.
  2. Redesign Your Website. Is your website looking a little outdated or neglected? Now’s the time to revamp it. Invest in a little extra cash for a great designer and make sure that your site is attractive, informative, and easy to navigate. By doing this, you’ll make sure you put your best face forward for the summer, and you’ll be able to update your current events and seasonal specials while you’re at it.
  3. Hold a contest. It doesn’t have to be an in-depth or complicated endeavor. You can do a number of things easily and affordably through your own website or social media pages! For example, you can post a funny photo related to your industry, and ask people to come up with a caption for it. The best one gets a coupon or a free service. You could also have people vote on something, such as the best new product, or ask them for assistance in coming up with a new special. People love getting involved!
  4. Take a look at your keywords. Have you been ranking consistently under one keyword but just can’t seem to get a foothold on Google with any other keywords? It may be time to let them go and choose different ones. Use free tools such as the Google Keyword Planner or just do a simple search to see what kinds of results you get. Then plan accordingly.
  5. Start a blog. If you haven’t jumped on the blogging bandwagon yet, now’s a great time. Sign up for a free blog from a site such as Wordpress.com and begin updating regularly. Talk about company news, plans, specials, and events. Let your clients and customers know what’s going on with you! Not only does this help keep them informed, but you’ll be noticed more by search engines when you’re continually providing your site with fresh content.

Shifting marketing strategies doesn’t have to be scary. Most of these can be done in-house for very little money. However, you should understand that it can be time consuming to blog regularly, manage keywords, update social media, and redesign your site. If you’re thinking of switching up your approach to marketing but don’t have the skills or resources to do it all on your own, just contact the internet marketing experts at Internet Local Listings. We’d be happy to walk you through the process and assist you in any way possible! Good luck with all your new marketing strategies!

Internet Local Listings Now Offers Affordable Website Design

shopping for affordable website packages

Why Do You Need a Website?

Are you interested in setting up a webpage for your business, but don’t know where to go for affordable website design? Internet Local Listings is now proud to offer a great website package to clients who want to be listed online, but don’t yet own a website.

In today’s marketplace, it’s difficult to be competitive without an online presence. People use the Google, Bing, and Yahoo! search engines to quickly find almost any type of service online. Think about it: The last time you went online to search for a restaurant, where did you go? You probably went to one of those top 3 search engines and clicked on a link on the very first page. And can you ever recall a time you clicked to the second or third page to find a result? Most people never move past the first page—94% in fact. So if you want your customers to find you, you will need to do two things:

1)    Find an affordable website design package to successfully launch your professional webpage.

2)    Enlist SEO experts to get your site ranking on the first page of all the top search engines.

The good news is that Internet Local Listings offers all of these things in one affordable package. Want to know more? Check out some of the highlights below:

Choose from a Variety of Affordable Website Design Packages

If you’re concerned about losing creative control over your website, don’t be. At Internet Local Listings, we respect—and encourage—your participation in the website design and maintenance process. That’s why we work with you every step of the way: from choosing a domain name, to incorporating important business information, to discussing custom content and layouts to best suit your interests and your industry. Every one of our affordable website design packages can be customized an unlimited number of times during the first thirty days of your contract.

To get started, you’ll sign an agreement for a basic website package. This includes 5 pages: Home, About Us, Services and Products, Contact Us, and Photos. These tabs can be changed to suit your needs, and they may vary depending on your customer base. Each and every page is designed to exceed SEO industry standards. The entire site is constructed in a way that encourages optimal search engine indexing—the process that places your page at the top of the results.

How Do I Get Started?

It’s simple to get started! Simply contact our web department at (888)-770-3950, ext. 910 and we’ll be happy to guide you through the process. From there, a friendly sales representative will help you do the following:

  • Compile important information to include on your website. You’ll receive a questionnaire via email to address all aspects of your business. Please complete this in the first three (3) days to help us get you online faster!
  • Select a domain name. We do give suggestions for SEO purposes, but you may choose to opt out of this. We will walk you through all of this—no need to know coding.
  • Choose a design. You can supply us with photos and suggestions for content. If you want to write your own content, we strongly encourage you to discuss that with your sales representative.

Within 15 business days of purchase, your website will be completed. Remember, during the first 30 days, you’ll have unlimited changes. If you’d like to make changes after this period, we offer a flat fee of $100 a month to cover all hosting, design changes, technical assistance, photos, and content updates.

So if you’re ready to purchase an affordable website design and bring your business to the internet marketplace, call (888)-770-3950, ext. 910 and let Internet Local Listings help you be sen online!

Here are some samples of website designs we have done:

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