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CONNECTED CULTURE Blog by Jerry Allocca

Now, more than ever, we’re all connected. What does it mean to be part of the Connected Culture? Share your thoughts and ideas here!
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Turn Likes Into Loyalists: How to Engage Your Social Media Audience

seo-2You’ve completed the online legwork to build up an impressive audience on social media. Good job! It is a great accomplishment and immensely beneficial to have thousands of people from all over the world ready (and hopefully willing) to listen to what you have to say. Now you must consider what to say to them. Building up Facebook “likes” or Twitter followers is only the beginning; now you have to engage them with quality content so they don’t end up ignoring your future posts. Here are some ideas for how to create engaging and effective social media content.

Pictures and Videos Should Grab Their Attention

Now that you’ve got an audience, you might feel compelled to share lengthy articles or product descriptions. If you have that impulse, here’s a tip: don’t! Focus instead on eye-grabbing pictures and short, interesting video clips.

You have to remember that on social media, you’re competing with thousands of people and pages all clamoring for clicks. You should be posting material that will grab a reader in the two seconds that your post is on their smartphone screen before they scroll down. Focus on funny or visually striking images that are easy to understand and digest, which will create a high share rate.

Contests Will Keep Them Engaged

Want to keep your audience coming back to your page? Create a regular contest or sweepstakes. By hosting a monthly or weekly contest, you’ll be incentivizing your audience to return to your page regularly. They’ll show up to see if they’ve won, and they’ll stay to browse your page (if your content is interesting and eye-catching enough).

Give Them a Peek Behind the Scenes

One of the biggest opportunities of social media is the fact that it gives an audience a chance to peek behind the curtain and see what content creators are like in their daily lives. It’s actually a disadvantage to project your company as a soulless machine these days; show them what you guys are like goofing around, and you’ll come off as more relatable.

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How Does Your SEO Hold Up Internationally?

online-communityWhether you’re a company that offers services to business all over the world or you’re selling your products to an international audience, if you’ve got visitors to your website from all across the globe, you should be thinking about how your SEO holds up internationally. Local SEO can be confusion enough, right? Fortunately there are some very obviously things that you should be paying attention to in order to ensure that your SEO is just as effective internationally as it is locally.

Here are somethings that you should consider for complete international optimization:

  1. Localized and Appropriate Content: If a large portion of your consumer demographic lives in Paris, France, be sure to utilize details that those in Paris, France would most relate to. Include appropriate currency and time zone to make your site most effective. You should also consider cultural norms between societies. For instance, what citizens in the United States may find humorous, another culture may find offensive.
  2. Language Differences: When targeting one specific region, you should make sure that all of your content is in that common language.  If you’re targeting multiple countries with different languages, consider having separate websites or subdomains for each region.
  3. Geotarget: Use geotargeting tools found with search engine tool such as Google Search Console to ensure that your website is targeting those which you are trying to reach.
  4. Link Earning: With international SEO comes the need for international link earning (formally known as link building). Consider whether or not international websites are linking back to you. Are international bloggers writing about your services or products? International links means better international SEO!
  5. Go Beyond Google and Bing. Sure, Google, Bing, and Yahoo! are the big names in the United States, but individuals across the seas utilize a variety of search engines that you may not be totally familiar with. Register your website (or international websites) with international equivalents, such as Yandex, Naver, and Seznam.
  6. Consider a Local IP Address: If you can, consider hosting your website, or its international counterpart, on an IP address that is local to the region which you are targeting. This will help your site to receive more relevant traffic  from those who exist internationally.

Ensuring that your SEO holds up internationally can be confusing, but when you consider these fundamental elements, you’ll be on your way to creating a well-rounded international audience!

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Google Search Console: The New Webmaster Tools

True or false: You must be a master to understand Google Webmaster Tools. False! But it certainly does sound like you should be well-equipped when it comes to the internet, right? If you’ve been intimidated by the mere thought of Google Webmaster Tools, you’re not alone. Sure, SEO expword-clouderts, marketers, and developers likely know a thing or two about online optimization, but what about the hobbyists, small business owners, or bloggers who aren’t well, experts?

Simply the title “webmaster” may deter certain individuals from utilizing the tools available through Google Webmaster Tools. That’s why Google is taking an initiative to rebrand Google Webmaster Tools as Google Search Console. According to Google, they hope that all types will utilize Google Search Console – webmasters and internet novices alike.

So what is Google Search Console and is it any different from Google Webmasters?  In a short answer, no, Google Search Console will not be any different, although Google does constantly add new tools to their service. The main purpose of Google Search Console (previously Google Webmasters) is so help websites obtain more traffic through search engine optimization. This is done through a number of tools and programs found within Search Console. The main purpose is so help better understand what is going on within a specific website.

From a very basic standpoint, here are just some of the things you can do with Google Search Console:

  • Assign which pages you would or would not like Google to crawl
  • Gain insight into sites that link back to your own website
  • See which keywords are most frequently found by Google when crawling your website
  • Assess your overall site performance and bounce rate

So there you have it – if you’ve ever been hesitant to utilize Google Webmasters, give it a try – or, should we say, give Google Search Console a try. It’s not just for webmasters, after all!

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‘What’s in it for Me?’ Upping the Ante for Link Building

Business man drawing social network structure

When it comes to creating a reputable online presence, link building is a key ingredient that is often overlooked. Thinking of your online presence, you’re likely to primarily focus on writing content, such as website content and blog posts and perhaps building a social media presence. However, link building helps you to further build relationships with other websites, with other businesses, and with potential audience members. Perhaps more importantly, link building helps to build a positive reputation amongst search engines in an effort to boost your search engine rankings.

If you’re new to link building, the process of obtaining links may seem overwhelming. However, there are a variety of ways to obtain links, all of which can be utilized by a variety of different industries and identities:

  • Natural links—As the name suggests, natural links come “naturally” to you or your business. This means no real effort needs to be done on your end, aside from, of course, being interesting and newsworthy! If you or your small business is heavily involved in the community, a local newspaper may cover your efforts and link back to your website in an online article. Or perhaps your business has won an award of some sort and is cited online? Congratulations! That’s a natural link!
  • Manual link building—Manual link building refers to creating links through outreach on your end. This can be done in a number of ways. One way is through submitting your URL to directories like DMOZ and Yahoo. Never pay for links, that will get you in trouble. Another way is to simply reach out and ask! Email bloggers asking if they’ll take a look at your product or service and write a post including a link back to you. If you’ve got an event going on, reach out to journalists to cover the story with an online article linking back to your website.
  • Self-created link building—The easiest but least successful way to gain links is to include a link back to your website within your social networking profiles, blog comments, news forums, and other places where conversations take place. Do this only where it makes conversational sense to do so. Don’t create these types of links as a link building strategy as those links will not help your seo efforts, but they can lead  to qualified traffic visiting your site which is always important.

While the credibility and search-ability of your name or website largely depends on polished content and an established social media presence, link building is a great way to further get your name out there and to form relationships. Keep these three SEO link building methods in mind in an effort to boost your online presence!

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Content Marketing Hack: How to Repurpose Your Content Effectively

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There’s no doubt about it: effective content is imperative to the success of your online presence. However, coming up with creative content isn’t always easy and when you’re stuck in a creative rut, it can be quite time-consuming! Fortunately, there are some very easy and effective ways to repurpose your content, extending its overall reach and effectiveness.

First things first: Create one great piece of content! At this point, don’t worry about its potential to be repurposed – just worry about making it attention-grabbing, effective, and overall well-crafted.  If you’re in a creative bind, go through past content and look for a piece that was very effective, or, that you simply really enjoyed. Perhaps you saw great success with a blog post you wrote a few months ago. Perhaps a tweet went viral. Or, maybe you just really enjoyed that video you created!

Once you have a great piece (or pieces) of content, it’s time to get to repurposing. One way to repurpose is to think about your audience for the piece you’ve already created. Consider how you can restructure the piece to target another audience segment. Can you rework your blog post to attract another age group or demographic?

Now that you’ve considered this option, take a look at different ways to showcase your content. Often times, information from a blog can be translated into an infographic, offering a fresh way to showcase details. Content within an infographic can then be translated into a videographic. Look for new channels that you haven’t used before to reach an entirely different audience segment. Consider podcasts (a perfect option for repurposing past blog posts), Twitter (great for repurposing Facebook status) or slideshows (great for infographics).

The power of repurposing content is that you can save time in compiling data and information. After all, once you’ve got great info to share, you want it to reach as many people as possible! Utilizing different platforms is the best way to do just that.

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The Mobile Site Advantage

The Mobile Site AdvantageUntil now, having a mobile version of your website was a luxury for many companies. Sure, international brands had mobile sites, but the average business just didn’t explore that path. With the latest announcements from Google, a mobile version of your site will likely become a necessity.

With an ever-increasing number of users logging in through mobile devices, Google has decided to make “a significant change” to its mobile search results. By incorporating “mobile-friendliness” into their algorithm, Google is rewarding sites worldwide that have invested in a better experience for mobile users.

Google has made the decision because according to their data, “94% of people with smartphones search for local information on their phone, [while] 77% of mobile searches occur at home or at work, places where desktop computers are likely to be present.” This indicates that more people are considering their phone as their primary device for internet activity.

The changes take effect on April 21st. If you don’t have a mobile version of your site, it’s a good idea to invest in one as soon as possible if you don’t want to be invisible to so many users who now favor mobile search results. While this upgrade will require an investment and a web developer, you may lose a lot of visibility. In 2015, most developers automatically incorporate mobile sites into your architecture, but if you have an older website, it’s important to prepare for this drastic change so you aren’t buried by the competition.

The importance of mobile devices will continue to grow with time, so if you’ve been waiting to go mobile, the time to act is now!

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Building an Online Community: The Basics

Building An Online CommunitySo you want to build a community online? An online community is the perfect way to broaden the reach of your brand. By engaging with your community, you’ll be enticing buyers, engaging with existing fans of your brand, and extending your reach to new customers. In short, an online community is both a source of revenue, an advertising platform, and a way to spread the word about you and your products or services to new customers.

If you’re ready to begin, here are a few basic tips to keep in mind that will help you get started.

  1. Quality – whether it’s on-site content, blog posts, videos, podcasts, or other forms of media, it doesn’t matter. People will be drawn to excellent content and return continually for more of it. Quality then is both a hook and a reason for people to come back.
  1. Originality – ask yourself: why should people come to my community for this content instead of going somewhere else? It’s important for you to have something unique about your brand.
  1. Consistency – International brands earn their reputation by delivering their specialty on a regular basis. This schedule of interactions helps foster community. If you disappear, so will your followers.
  1. Sharing – For your community to grow, you’ll need people to find your content/products/brand and share it with others. Sharing is easiest on social media. Make your content as easy to share as possible and make it appealing so people will want to see and share it with their friends.
  1. Communication – A community isn’t about broadcasting to an audience. It’s about establishing connections. Engage your community. Take time to acknowledge those who interact with you and those who have helped you along the way. If you only promote yourself, you’ll never attract a following. Post links to topics your community will find interesting. Ask questions. Make re-visiting your site and social media channels worthwhile.

Every online community is different and you’ll have to experiment with yours for maximum benefit, but by following the 5 basics above, you’ll be building a great foundation.

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Grow Your Facebook Likes with These 3 Tips!

Grow Facebook LikesMore and more businesses are taking to Facebook to increase their social media presence. It’s a tactic that has worked well for many companies, but many stumble through Facebook without knowing how to use the service to their advantage. If you’re new to Facebook or looking to ramp up a stagnant social media campaign, follow these easy tips to grow your Facebook presence today:

Be a good Facebook Citizen
Post unique content as well, share content from other sites that your community will enjoy, and call attention when your followers post positive information, photos, or reviews about your business. Additionally, respond in a positive fashion to negative posts. Work to not only be a promotion machine, but a community centered around your brand that users turn to for information they want.

Raise Awareness with a Contest
For a relatively small investment, you can promote products or services in a way that generates interest—not only among your fans but among their friends as well. This is a fun way to present your brand and drive interaction with your social media and website as well.

Advertise on Facebook
If you haven’t explored advertising on Facebook, you’re simply missing an important opportunity. You can target specific audiences for your ads that allow you to reach customers directly. You can make the most of any advertising budget and employ a variety of techniques to reach an impressive number of potential buyers.

Facebook isn’t a duty—it’s an opportunity. Make the most of your Facebook presence today.

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What’s in a Name? Would a Domain By Any Other Name, Rank as Well?

website-454460_640SEO has traditionally been a landscape defined by connecting your site to users via keyword phrases, providing content that can be shared across social networks (which drives traffic), and delivering an excellent experience for the users who visit your site.
But SEO is always changing. One of the safest ways to ensure that your site will perform well in search engine results is to establish and cultivate a brand. The brand will incorporate traditional marketing and SEO tactics, but differs from these in being recognizable and memorable.

Developing a brand propels your business forward and ahead of your competition. One of the best ways to cement this brand is to make the best use of your domain name. The heart of your URL should be just as unforgettable and to-the-point as your brand. As one of the extensions, and most visible components, of your brand, your domain name is crucial to establishing your online credentials—and your favor in search engine results.

Contrary to popular belief, your domain name doesn’t need to be a keyword phrase—though it won’t hurt if that is the case. Recent algorithm updates have reduced the need for exact keyword matches in the names of domains.

Here are some tips to choose a memorable, SEO-friendly domain name:

• Keep it short. The longer and more complicated your domain name, the more difficult it is to remember. The top one million websites have 10 characters on average. The top 5 websites average 6 letters.
• Give it weight. Present a clear and powerful message about who you are and what you do. Lots of letters or abbreviations are rarely appropriate.
• Be Unique. Your domain name is your brand online. By choosing a distinctive name, you can further your brand’s presence online.

Remember, internet marketing isn’t about keyword stuffing anymore. It’s about having a great brand, delivering the products or services that your customers expect, and establishing yourself as the kind of business/website that search engines WANT to rank above the competition who have already earned favor.

Your domain name can certainly affect your rankings so make sure you choose well and choose wisely.

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How to Sell Digital Marketing to Your Boss

connected-culture-blog-listeningWhile you’re probably already convinced that your organization needs to increase its digital marketing efforts this year to stay relevant and grow, you may find that you have to convince others that the additional investment in time and money to do so will offer sufficient ROI.

How can you best present the benefits of digital marketing to your boss and other decision-makers? We’ve provided five essential tips for getting them enthusiastically on board:

1. Create a Comprehensive Plan

Jumping into digital marketing without a plan is akin to starting a long journey without a map. To best share with others what you’re planning to do, it’s essential to breakdown digital marketing into key components. These include:

  • Website and landing pages
  • Blog
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media
  • SEO
  • Analysis and Reporting

You’ll also want to define your target audience and map out a strategy for how each component can be integrated into the plan. Use visual tools such as charts, spreadsheets, and calendars to help explain the plan and to keep you on track once you get the green light to get started.

2. Have a Realistic Budget

Digital marketing isn’t free advertising. It takes time and money to manage all of the elements of your plan. To prevent unrealistic expectations on the part of others, you’ll want to allocate accurate amounts for everything from website maintenance and Facebook ads to hiring an outside SEO agency and content writers.

Very few organizations can execute a comprehensive digital marketing plan solely in-house. So, it’s important to clearly determine what you can successfully tackle and what needs to be outsourced to create a viable budget.

3. Create Specific Goals

One of the most common objections heard when it comes to digital marketing is that it doesn’t actually offer any “real” value. This is why it’s so important to establish goals for your plan early on. A well-thought out and executed plan will help in business development and support other marketing and sales efforts. Therefore, goals should be aligned with overall company strategic goals. They should also be specific enough to be clearly measured.

4. Detail the Potential ROI

Showing potential ROI is vital in getting others excited about digital marketing. This means explaining its measurable value. Of course, it’s ideal if you can prove a direct financial return. However, it’s more likely that your digital marketing efforts will contribute to more leads that can eventually be converted into more sales. This doesn’t devalue the importance of digital marketing. Rather, it’s simply necessary to connect the dots carefully when trying to get the buy-in from others.

In may be beneficial to compare the ROI of your digital marketing plan to other marketing efforts such as print collateral, advertising, and telemarketing. When you look closely at the costs for each, you may find that digital marketing offers the highest ROI.

5. Give Examples

It’s a good idea to show what your competitors are doing when it comes to digital marketing. Find several good examples of organizations within your industry that are getting it right. Be able to explain what they’re doing and why it’s working for them. These examples may be the most compelling aspect of your pitch.

Getting buy-in for increasing digital marketing efforts requires a detailed plan that can be effectively communicated and executed. With expectations clearly set and a strategy for measuring results, you’ll have the ability to show real ROI that will turn doubters into enthusiastic believers in the value of digital marketing.

Question:

What can you add to this list?

 

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