Capture2With the holidays fast approaching, now is the time for small businesses to think of special ways to liven up their social media marketing strategy. Of course, there will be a lot of businesses that roll out big deals and special offers to celebrate the season. However, even if a company only has smaller surprises in mind for their customers and clients – or no surprises at all – there are still a number of ways to enjoy the festivities and fun of the season and to boost your own social media profile on sites including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and even LinkedIn.

Promote a Festive Atmosphere

One thing to remember when it comes to marketing tips for the holiday season is to keep things festive and fun. Even if your social media site tends toward the informative for the rest of the year, the holiday season can be a great time to liven up your message and approach while still maintaining your image.

Choosing fun seasonal image, updating your profile image often, and hiring a designer to give your business logo a fun holiday twist are all great ways to add some holiday flair to your social media marketing approach during the holiday season.

Don’t Roll Out Holiday Deals All at Once

It can be tempting to unleash all your holiday promotions and deals all at once, especially when you are excited about what you have to offer. However, it can be wise to hold back. Just as part of the fun leading up to Christmas is the anticipation of the event, with presents waiting wrapped under the tree and advent calendars waiting to be opened day by day, unrolling great deals and offers in the days leading up to Christmas can be a fun treat for your followers. Additionally, having a regular schedule of promotions rolling out will encourage your followers to visit again and again.

Consider Holiday Themed Content and Media

No matter what industry you’re in, it’s likely that you can somehow tie it back to the holiday season. Use your specialised knowledge to offer people tips on having a happier, more festive, and safer holiday season. Whether you offer healthy eating tips for holiday treats, advice on getting proper exercise during all the holiday hustle and bustle, or style tips for holiday parties, your followers will be sure to enjoy the content that you have to offer during the holiday season.

Plan Ahead and Give Yourself Time Off

Everybody deserves a break, especially during the holidays. However, that doesn’t mean you want your social media pages running on empty. Remember to plan and prepare content, posts, images, and quizzes well in advance to update periodically to your social media accounts. This can ensure your social media continues to work for you, even when you’re enjoying the holiday festivities with your family and friends.

 

Thanks!

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

ID-100168006A well-kept blog should be an integral part of your website. First and foremost, your blog provides a way to connect with your customers and build relationships with them. A blog gives you a chance to ask them questions and listen to their feedback. Also, the continually updated content is good for your SEO. Understanding some basics about blogging can help you make yours popular and effective.

The Right Elements

Paying attention to certain parts of your blog can help you maximise your lead generation. A good blog post should have an eye-catching title, social network sharing buttons, and a call to action. Also, the entire post should be relevant (no rambling allowed).

Categories

For best results, you should stay on topic. Your posts should always fit the niche you’ve established. Decide on a list of categories that all your posts will fit within for a focused, meaningful blog that doesn’t disappoint readers who showed up expecting a certain type of content.

Editing And Revision

Just like most other forms of writing, a good blog post typically undergoes some revision before posting. Write it out, then read back over it, smoothing out clumsy sentences and fine-tuning its structure. Finally, read over it again, this time proofreading for spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors – and make sure your links work. Don’t underestimate the number of readers who are immediately turned off by sloppy writing or posting.

Improve Your SEO

Take advantage of strategies that increase your chances of being found by search engines. Google likes freshly updated content, so post regularly. Post fresh, relevant content that is well-written and thoughtful, and use hyperlinks – but don’t overdo them.

Images

Words and headings alone do not a great blog post make. The right images can increase your readership by conveying the feeling of your post, illustrating one of your ideas, or evoking intrigue. Many of your readers are visual learners who retain information better when it is connected to images.

Word Count

The basic rule of thumb here is to use as many words as it takes to say what you have to say. Many blogs stick to a certain number of words per post; that’s fine, too, but realise that different topics simply require different word counts. As long as you are using your space wisely, sticking to your topic, and communicating clearly, don’t worry so much about how long or short your posts are. If you are restricted by parameters outside of your control, you can always use your blog to link to longer content elsewhere. The bottom line is that the quality of your post is much more important than the quantity of the words.

Valuable Content

Valuable content is user-centred. It stays focused on their needs and interests. This also includes making sure the blog is readable, clear, and action-provoking. Use subheadings, bullets, and lists for ease of reading, post shareable content (and make readers want to share it), and invite action by providing a place to comment and links to related content.

Successful blogging is a bit more involved than many business owners realise, but once you get the hang of some simple approaches, your blog can be an effective part of your overall internet marketing strategy.

 

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: freedigitalphotos.net; patpitchaya)

 

 

Copywriter writingWhether you are writing your own marketing copy or hiring a professional copywriter, knowing what makes for effective marketing copy will improve your end results. Follow these steps to create effective copywriting.

Step 1 – Clearly define the goal

Your copy cannot be effective unless you know the goal that you are hoping to achieve. The way that you write will differ depending on if you are trying to increase your brand awareness, create leads, or sell more products or services. Effective copywriting will be the copy that best achieves that goal. If you try to accomplish multiple goals with one piece of copy, it will not accomplish either goal as well as copy that is geared toward accomplishing only a single goal.

Step 2 – Clearly define the medium

There are different methods for writing effective copy depending on the medium in which that copy will be consumed. How you write a brochure is different from how you write a web page which is different from how you write a direct mail package. Therefore, you need to know how your copy is going to be used. You can create marketing campaigns that are used in multiple mediums, or you can use pieces of a master campaign depending on which are most appropriate for that medium. Specifically for Internet marketing, you would write a squeeze page differently from an email, which would be different from a blog, which would be different from a Twitter tweet or a Pinterest pin.

Step 3 – Understand your product and competition

Before you start writing, you need to understand what features and benefits of your product or service, or elements of your brand, you are going to base your marketing campaign upon. Some of the things to consider are what benefits you have that your competitors do not, and what the major concerns or problems of your customers are and how you can help them solve those concerns or problems. Consider what keywords someone trying to solve that problem or concern might search for.

Step 4 – Understand your customer

The final thing to know before you start writing is the customer that you are aiming your marketing at. This will determine everything from what language you use, to the tone of your piece, to the analogies that illustrate your point. Some of the things to consider are age, marital status, sex, and other demographic information. However, you also should consider what activities your customers participate in, and what hobbies they pursue. By slanting the writing toward a specific customer, you will be able to use your words and images to first capture their attention, then to effectively accomplish your goal that you defined in step 1.

 

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: Morguefile)

scenery image displayed on ipadYou may have noticed that the image credits on these blog posts often credit Morguefile, an excellent source of royalty-free images by photographers from around the world that can be used on websites or in marketing materials. There are many other sources of free images that are shared under a creative commons license or other distribution model that gives you the right to legitimately use the images in your Internet marketing however you like, without needing to pay the original image creator.

Stock image databanks

Two of the largest and most well-known databanks of stock images are Morguefile and Stock Xchng, although you can find other databanks by searching for “royalty free images”. Both of these databanks allow you to search images by keywords. Stock Xchng additionally allows you to specify image details such as colour or composition to find the perfect image. All of the images in Morguefile are free for use, while you need to consult the individual licensing agreement for each image in Stock Xchng that you are interested in using. In addition to the free images both of these services provide, they are both affiliated with paid image databanks. So if the perfect image is not available for free, you can find a low-cost option in the affiliated databanks.

Government image files

Governments and governmental organizations maintain large collections of images, generally of historically significant people and events. These images are available for your use, even if you are not a citizen of that particular government. Depending on your industry, you may find these online indexes to be a treasure trove of images. For example, anyone looking for images of stars, constellations, or other heavenly bodies can use the publicly available images from NASA. If your industry involves pop culture or fashion trends, on the other hand, you’re unlikely to find anything in these online image vaults.

Google image search

It comes as a surprise to many people that you can easily find legally reproducible images via Google image search. After all, when you view any of the images in a Google search, the first thing you see on the page is a copyright warning. That’s true for the standard Google image search. However, if you go to the search settings pulldown and select Advanced Search, you can scroll down to the bottom of the list of options and sort your results by usage rights. Select the usage rights “Free to use, share or modify, even commercially” and you’ll be able to legally use any of the results from the Google image search as part of the content you create.

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: Morguefile)

pile of pinsIn order to get more traffic from Pinterest, you need to make it easy for Pinterest users to add links to your blog posts and other website content. Keep in mind that Pinterest is a visual platform, so you will need high quality graphics in order to attract the attention of Pinterest users.

Use infographics

An infographic can visually sum up many of the points in your article, blog post, or website content. That makes it perfect for sharing on Pinterest. See Six Tips To Create Infographics Worth Sharing for tips on creating excellent infographics. Rather than using a single large infographic for your entire post or website page, consider using multiple small infographics that have slightly different appeals. This increases the options available for someone to pin an infographic to their board with a link back to your content.

Use eye catching and appealing pictures

Even if your posts and other website content do not lend themselves to infographics, you can still attract the interest of Pinterest users by using eye catching and appealing pictures to illustrate the content. Your graphic images need to be at least 250 pixels by 250 pixels in order to be used on Pinterest. Do not use the same boring and overused stock photographs and graphic illustrations as every other Internet marketer in your industry. Create new artwork by combining elements, changing colours, adding text, or focusing on one small part of a larger picture.

Avoid formats that cannot be pinned

In order for your graphic images to be pinned to Pinterest users’ boards, the images must be part of the source code for the page, not imbedded within programs running on the page. This means that you should avoid using Javascript or Flash to display your graphics. Of course, you should be avoiding using Flash anyway, since Flash websites cannot be SEO optimised the way that websites which contain standard text and images can be optimised.

Make it easy to pin pictures

If you leave it up to your visitors to create pins to your pages, most of them will avoid having to do the extra work. On the other hand, if you have a simple button that will create the pin for them, many more will add a pin to your site to their board. Fortunately, there are tools that will automate the creation of pins for you, no matter what type of website you have. If you use a WordPress website, as many Internet marketers do, you can purchase a premium pin creation plugin called Pin It Button Pro. If you use an HTML website, or are comfortable making changes to your WordPress theme, you can use the Pinterest widget provided by Pinterest itself.

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: Morguefile)

information signInfographics are graphic images that mix pictures and text in a way that conveys meaning quickly and easily. For the Internet marketer, a catchy infographic can be a traffic generating gold mine, as it is copied around the Internet, shared, and reposted, usually with a link back to the original site.

Tip #1: Use worthwhile information

The core of your infographic is the information it is conveying. Make sure that the information is from a credible source, and that it is complex and interesting enough to warrant repeating. Moreover, make sure that the information will be valuable to your target audience. Even at Christmastime, an infographic with the names of Santa’s reindeer will not generate much interest. An analysis of the derivations of the reindeer names, on the other hand, could be a great infographic for a holiday-related store.

Tip #2: Make the information easier to understand

Infographics distill complex information into easily understood nuggets. If your infographic is filled with so much text that it’s illegible, or you’re comparing items along four different axes at the same time, your infographic is failing at its primary mission. If the information isn’t easy to understand, no one will share or comment on it.

Tip #3: Find a new and different presentation

Everyone is familiar with pie charts. They’re boring and not worth sharing. Spice your data displays up, however, and people are much more willing to share them. One popular trick is to use cartoon graphics of whatever you are counting to represent each hundred, thousand, or other unit of measurement. You can also experiment with colour, layout, or other design features to make your infographic pop.

Tip #4: Talk to the industry, not about your company

You may care about the statistics relevant to your company. However, other people are unlikely to. Instead, create an infographic that other bloggers and social media users will find general enough that they can easily comment on it for their audiences. The text of the blog or news article in which you use the infographic can still refer to specifics about your company. Be sure that there is identifying information about your company on the infographic itself, so it’s clear where the infographic came from. Just don’t make it about your company.

Tip #5: Reference your sources

Provide a list of the sources you used in small print at the bottom of the infographic as well as referencing them in your blog or news article. That way, when the infographic is shared, the list of sources goes with it.

Tip #6: Offer a next step

Information is great, but information that helps a person to take action is even better! Make sure that your infographic offers a clear next step for people who read it. Ideally, make that next step one that involves your products or services.

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: Morguefile)

unique bottle topDetermining your website’s unique selling proposition, sometimes called a USP, is one of the most important decisions you can make to ensure your Internet marketing success. If there is nothing to differential your business or your product from the sea of similar businesses and products out there, you will be reduced to competing on price and response time. The margins on that are extremely low, and you can be undercut. The unique selling proposition helps you to compete using a different criteria, one on which your competitors are unable or unwilling to compete.

Choose a game you can win

Take a look at ads for service businesses, and notice how many of them say the identical thing. They’re reliable. They respond quickly. They’ve been in business long enough to know what they’re doing. A service professional would need to be exemplary to surpass the other service professionals in just one of those categories. On the other hand, consider the service professionals whose van proclaims that they are friendlier than any others. As proof, if you wave at them on the road and they don’t wave back, the company promises to pay you for reporting this lack of friendliness. Their friendliness is their unique selling proposition, and will guide everything about how the company does business. It’s a game they can win, because no one else – or very few other companies – is competing for the title of friendliest service professional.

Seek out synergy

An excellent place to find a unique selling proposition for a website is by investigating synergy, or the property that two things combined can be far more powerful than those two things alone. Of course, they need to be the right two things. Rather than selling pet supplies to all pet owners, or even all dog owners, you can be the website that caters to dog owners who are frequent business travellers. Not only will you sell dog supplies, you will sell trip planning to locations that allow you to bring your dog, provide a rating service for dog sitters and dog boarding facilities, and blog about dog toys that you can buy while travelling and how to alleviate your dog’s distress while you are gone. By combining two different things that work together, you create a website that is more powerful than a website that did only one thing.

Narrow is better than broad

Finding the right USP may require moving from a broad market, such as all dog owners, to a more tightly focused market. However, if your market is narrow enough, you can provide products and services that will all appeal to that market, rather than needing a broad array of products and services, each of which will appeal to some portion of your market. You may discover a market that has never been served before, resulting in legions of fans eager to give you their business. Make sure that you do not narrow your focus so tightly that there is no one left in your market.

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: Morguefile)

heavy trafficObviously, the most important thing you need to increase traffic to your website is fresh, valuable content posted regularly. The following techniques will help you to maximise visitors to your new content, as well as attracting new visitors to your older content.

1. Choose the right keywords

It is easiest to rank your content for long-tail phrases that are not as competitive. These phrases tend to be between 5 and 7 words in length. You should also include some of the other more competitive keywords that you want your site in general to rank for.

2. Use videos

Put videos on your website, as an option on your homepage or as a video landing page. Funny or informative videos get the most views, so tutorials or reviews are natural choices for video content. Upload videos to YouTube, Vimeo, and other video collections, with links in the description that direct video traffic back to your website.

3. Use social media

When you add new content to your website, create links to it from all of your social media properties. Tweet about it, link to it from a Facebook post, and pin a link to it on your Pinterest board.

4. Answer questions

If your content answers a specific question, such as how to do something, search for places where that question has been asked in forums, hubpages, or other online gathering places. Give a high-level answer to the question in a comment, with a link to the page for more information.

5. Offer something for free

You can offer discounts on your products with sales or coupons, give away something in a contest, or offer free downloads of ebooks, white papers, special reports, apps, or software.

6. Use an RSS feed

Most blogs automatically create RSS feeds. However you can also create feeds for website updates and other posts. By including your feed in an aggregator, such as infogroup.com, databyacxiom.com, or localeze.com, you increase both the number of people who see your new content and the rapidity with which search engines find your new content.

7. Get customer reviews

Have your customers give you positive reviews on review sites for both your local area and your industry.

8. Track your analytics

Discover which sites are generating the most referrals, and approach them about creating guest blogs or shared content. Determine which content is getting the most views and create more along those lines.

9. Use a profile signature

Make sure that your profile signature links back to your website, and use that profile signature when posting comments to blogs, LinkedIn groups, forums, or book reviews.

10. Tell the search engines

Let the search engines know when your content is updated by refreshing and reposting your xml sitemap, and pinging the fresh content. Useful ping sites include mass-ping, pingler, and pingomatic.

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: MorgueFile)

firefighter protective gearThe single most important thing you can do to protect your site from Google updates is to have a content rich site that delivers high value to the consumers who visit it. The intent of all Google updates is to refine their search algorithm to promote the sites most likely to satisfy the people conducting searches.

Identify yourself

By linking your blog posts and articles to your Google+ account, you are attaching your name and identity to your writing much like a byline in traditional journalism. These posts and articles are considered more likely to be of high quality than posts and articles that do not have a name and identity attached to them as an author. Additionally, your author photograph appears beside the search engine results, making the link more likely to be clicked on by people conducting searches.

Provide unique content

Create unique content for your website wherever possible. Websites that duplicate content found elsewhere on the web will have their duplicate content discredited for search results. This means that shopping websites especially are penalised if their catalogues are the same as the catalogues for everyone else who stocks the same inventory. WordPress or other blog-based websites should ensure that blog posts use a single category, to prevent duplication within the site.

Diversify anchor text keywords

The assumption behind this strategy is that natural links to a website do not use the exact same anchor text. Some use the name of the website, some use the URL, some use a descriptive phrase, and some use a non-descriptive phrase such as “click here”. Therefore, if you are responsible for creating anchor text links to your website, whether through article or guest blog placement, or through purchasing of links, you should ensure that the anchor text you use is diverse.

Create relevant links

Google considers the general topic of a website as a whole, and of each individual page within that website, when considering whether or not a link from that website is relevant. So, if you are offering guest blogs to gain links back to your website, ensure that both the topic of your blog post and the overall theme of the blog are relevant to your website, and to the anchor text you are using.

Reduce keyword stuffing

Keyword rich URLs, especially keyword rich domain names, are no longer given the weight they were previously. This was an easy element of search engine result placement for scammers and spammers to exploit. Other overly-exploited locations for keywords include internal and outbound links. In general, imagine that your website was created by a third party who is interested in your industry. What would their keyword usage be like? Model your keyword usage on this hypothetical scenario to prevent keyword stuffing penalties.

Thanks!

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

(Image: MorgueFile)

In a previous blog, which you can read here, I discussed some basic techniques for building a business blog. In this space I’d like to go a bit more in depth into the technical aspects of WordPress to give you some ways to make your WordPress blog a smashing success. We’ll begin with the basics and go on from there.

Choose a Terrific Theme
There are literally hundreds of free themes out there, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you take the initiative to invest in a quality premium theme. First, you’ll find that you’ll be able to get support if something doesn’t work as it should or if you want a specific customisation on it. Second, there is less likelihood of it containing bad code in the design that could derail your blog if you install a particular plug-in or widget. Finally, premium themes just plain have a better array of designs and are easier to use. You can do a search on Google for “premium WordPress themes” and you’ll find loads of them.

Check Basic WordPress Settings
I know you’re anxious to start posting, but before you do, you’ll want to take care of a bit of housekeeping to make sure everything is in order.
Settings > General — This includes your site’s title, tagline, URL, registration options, timezone, and date/time formats.
Settings > Writing — This includes the basics for writing posts, such as the size of the post box, default categories, settings for posting via email, remote posting options, and updating services, which are sites that WordPress notifies when you publish a new post.)
Settings > Reading — This includes what your homepage will display (either posts or a static page), how many posts will appear on your homepage and in your RSS feed, and what will appear in the RSS feed.
Settings > Discussion — This relates to your blog’s comments section. It’s a good idea to check the option for “Comment author must have a previously approved comment” and uncheck the option “An administrator must always approve the comment” in order to avoid spammers.
Settings > Media — This setting deals with images in your posts and on pages and the folders on the server where your images are kept. Generally, the default settings are fine unless you have a specific reason for choosing otherwise.
Settings > Privacy — This enables search engines to index your site, so you want to check the box giving them permission to do so.
Settings > Permalinks — This determines how your URLs are configured. For SEO purposes, it’s best to set this feature as “Custom Structure” /%postname%/ so that your URLS will use the name of your post as the URL and will thus be search engine friendly.

Load Essential Plugins
There are plugins to enable you to do just about anything you could want to do to your WordPress blog—some free, some paid. But beware, some are better than others. Look at how they are rated before you use them. To install a free plugin, go to Plugins > Add New, search for what you need, and install it from your dashboard. Here are some of the essentials:
Akismet — This plugin comes pre-installed with WordPress, but you’ll need to activate it and get an API key. It helps to prevent spam comments from appearing on your blog. For personal, non-commercial blogs, it’s a free service, but for commercial blogs there is a fee.
All in One SEO Pack — This plugin creates additional fields on your dashboard so you can optimise your blog for SEO. Many premium themes come with a similar feature already installed, however, so you may not need it if you’re going with one of them. Also, there is a paid plugin called Scribe SEO that will give you suggestions for how to optimise.
Custom Contact Forms — This plugin lets you choose from its standard design contact form or create one of your own. It has lots of different options from which to choose.
Google XML Sitemaps — This plugin creates a sitemap of your blog and keeps it up-to-date, notifying search engines when you make changes or additions with new posts and pages. Once installed, go to settings to create your sitemap for the first time and it will do the rest.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin — This plugin introduces readers to related content on your blog related to the entry they’re reading, thus keeping them on your site longer.

As you can see, I’ve given you a lot of information. Feel free to bookmark this page for future reference as you build your blog. And do leave a comment below if you have additional insights for how to build a better WordPress blog.

Thanks!

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

(Image by Adriano Gasparri)