The State of Local SEO and How to Get More Local Customers

Do you want to acquire more local customers from search?… Of course, you do!

First, you need to understand that SEO is no longer the way it used to be. A lot of has changed. In fact, the impact of these changes are more glaring in local search engine optimization.

When it comes to Local SEO, you need to get serious with Google My Business Page and citations.

When you implement both practices, you’re telling local consumers and search engines alike that you’re open for business. And your sales will possibly increase.

Remember that local searches are more likely to lead to sales, compared to non-local searches. According to a research study by Google, 18% of local smartphone searches generated a purchase within 24 hours.

Of course, links are still important to search rankings, but the approach has changed a lot in the last 3 years. You now need to understand the on-page technicalities first, before moving out to get links.

Make no mistakes about it. Modern SEO boils down to listening to and attending to your website’s visitor – people who consume your content, after clicking on your search result from Google organic listings.

It’s no secret that you have to do more to thrive in the search these days. If you choose to manipulate search using blackhat techniques, you may end up losing your precious rankings.

That’s why I created this in-depth article, to help you understand the State of Local SEO & where to pay attention now.

Your SEO is not all about ranking #1

If you think that SEO is all about getting ranked in #1 position, then you’re making a deadly mistake. Of course who wouldn’t desire that spot – but that’s not the focus.

At the end of the day, the focus of SEO is to build sustainable rankings for your target keywords. You want to rank today, tomorrow, and even next year.

For this to happen, you need an effective social media strategy – because social signals have become an integral part of organic ranking factors.

Once you pass some social juice to your web pages, every other effort would yield better results. In fact, your CTR will weigh more – because you have a lot of people engaging with your content on social media sites.

So the #1 result in Google may not always get the most clicks. Remember that majority of your searchers, especially those outside internet marketing field don’t know the difference between organic and paid search results.

To a large extent, what determines whether a search result (both organic and paid) gets clicked on is the title, meta description, and page URL. And more importantly, the local map packs with reviews and star ratings.

For example, I searched for “plumber” but I don’t feel excited with these results. So I’ll skip them and scroll down a bit.

Scrolling down the same page, a search result in the Google maps caught my attention. I thought I should click on this one. With all these reviews and ratings from real customers, how can I go wrong?

Your localized link is your new advantage

In today’s local rankings, where you got your inbound links play a vital role in the search rankings.

More so, if you get more links from relevant directories and websites in the same geographical area, Google may reward you better.

And for that to work, you need to gain links to your brand social media, to your product page (or specific service page), and pass more link juice to your video content. [image

To surmount your competition, you don’t need the best website design or a huge marketing budget. You need compelling content and trusted backlinks. It’s your new advantage.

Compelling content will help you rank for several long-tail keywords that you’re not directly targeting. And being on Google’s first page drives more clicks to your local business landing pages.

Note that when you get few inbound links from a website with high domain authority, this can improve your rankings for highly competitive keyword phrases.

On the flip side, low domain authority websites can result in a nose dive for your web pages that are already climbing the top of organic listings. Ahrefs conducted an exclusive research study in this respect.

If you look at it closely, you’ll agree with me that modern SEO isn’t about keywords, but on the searcher’s intent.

For example, why do people search for “small business tools” in Google?

Are they looking for tools to buy, or they just want to learn how fast new tools are being released in the small business field?

An in-depth market research will answer that question.

Higher Organic Rankings depends on how much you engage your site users

Truly, links are the lifeblood of local search rankings.

But all links are not created equal.

Since 2014, brands that proactively research authority websites, build relationships, and eventually earned links to their web pages, have seen a spike in organic rankings as the year goes by.

The imminent challenge that local businesses face is the time and expertise to build these links. If you’re in the same both, the solution is to:

Build engagement with site visitors.

Engagement is so important.

For instance, when website visitors are engaged, they’ll share content, cite it, leave valuable comments, write honest reviews, and push your brand to the spotlight through word of mouth.

When I did a search for plumber earlier, did you notice what inspired me to click on a search result?

Reviews and star ratings.

You’ll often find reviews and star ratings in rich snippets of the organic search results.

Reviews are hard to get.

Reviews speak volumes and show how responsive your customers and website visitors are towards your content or product.

Customer reviews may not improve your search rankings (at least Google hasn’t made it clear yet), but it improves user experience.

Consequently, the more reviews your local business garner, the more inspired and ready your customers will be. It can increase your product orders.

From the results above, I can boldly say that the trust level you have with customers can be directly or indirectly traced to how engaging your content is.

Yes the term “content engagement” has become a buzzword. So many local businesses throw it around, but only a few people truly knows what it means.

Of course engagement could mean several things at the same time. But when it comes to getting more local customers through content, the engagement that you want can be summarized in these few points:

  • Get local clients to click on your headline and read your content.
  • Your content inspires local clients to call your business.
  • Your ideal customers find your physical business address, and take steps to visit you now or later.
  • Get customers to place order on your online store.

And so forth.

At the end of the day, you want to track conversions, not some vanity metrics like reach, comments, and so on.

However, you can increase content engagement if you understand the consumer engagement cycle. This is more or less the various paths that your ideal customer must tour, before deciding on your business.

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Conclusion

Local SEO is all about telling great story of your brand without rambling endlessly. You don’t have to be a natural-born storyteller.

Great storytelling entrepreneurs thrive on a simple secret:

They understand their audience more than the average Joe.

In your page title, page description, and within your content, find reasons to tell stories that pique the user’s mind. Don’t stuff keywords. Instead, stuff your content with stories.

This is Marcus Sheridan’s strategy. Though he’s known as a pools guy, but by telling stories of his brand and the struggles he had to go through, his local business went international.

And guess what? Today, he generates more traffic from organic searches. Every challenge that you’ve experienced is a goldmine when creating content.

Tap into it – and tell the story – while driving your brand message home. Your local customers will understand it better.

 

This article was a contribution from Michael Chibuzor, who is a seasoned freelance writer. If you’re looking for long-form articles that drives traffic and sales, visit ContentMarketingUp.com.

5 Ways Webinars and Video Can Replace Workplace Meetings

As an entrepreneur and being my own boss, I’ve had the pleasure of not having to deal with the normal “workplace atmosphere” and needing to plan or attend meetings within a company. I have however experienced what this atmosphere is like through working with other companies in the industry. More often then not, these meetings and get-togethers of individuals within the company is more of a waste of time and resources than anything else.

Yes, businesses of all sizes need to hold meetings, but how they hold them and who actually needs to be there is where there is room for opportunity. It’s way too easy for myself to throw together a webinar or online video series and have 1,000s of people attending my live feed, so why aren’t businesses doing the same thing within their organization?

With so many advanced webinar and video sharing platforms available, not only is it extremely easy to setup, it’s also quite cost effective too. Solutions like GoToWebinar are perfect for streaming live webinars and connecting with others in your company, while more advanced services like Blue Jeans make it easy to deliver HD video conferencing and multi-party meetings within a organization or during a live event with thousands of attendees.

If you aren’t currently using live video and webinars in place of holding in-person meetings, here are five reasons to reconsider — plus some fun office meeting memes to bright up such a feared topic!

5 Ways to Improve Workplace Meetings with Video

No matter what solution you are using to deliver live video or webinars online, consider the following five methods for improving how your business holds meetings within your company and make the most out of their time and resources.

Make Meetings Essential

I Heard You Like Meetings

The main issues that people have with meetings, be they online or in-person, is that there isn’t much point to them other than summing up things that people either already know or could be said with a group e-mail. An easy fix for this is to only schedule meetings when they are absolutely essential and let employees get on with their work for the rest of the time. If there is really no point to a daily or weekly meeting then don’t feel like you need to have one just for the sake of it. This will also emphasise the importance of meetings meaning that people will focus during them instead of zoning out or multitasking.

One of the most common issues with meetings in the workplace is if they are needed and how to run them efficiently. To maximize efficiency, Inc. Magazine offers five simple questions and tasks to assign before your meeting takes place.

  1. Does the meeting need to happen?
  2. Be very clear about the purpose.
  3. Engage people beforehand.
  4. Actually start on time.
  5. Document and share the main points.

Invite the People Who Need to be There

Meeting Emails

Meetings are usually boring and a waste of time for half of the people in the room. This doesn’t mean you need to get rid of your meetings, it just means you should only be including those who are needed to be there.

Not only are meetings a potential waste of time and resources just to pull them together, they can also be a huge productivity killer for all of the attendees as it’s going to break about their day and working time. Inc Magazine noted that the two biggest drags of productivity are “Meetings and Managers”. The article went on to say:

These two staples of work life–meetings and managers–are actually the greatest causes of work not getting done at the office. In fact, the further away you are from both meetings and managers, the more work gets done. This is one of the key reasons we’re so enthusiastic about remote work.

For businesses that feel they need to have weekly or monthly meetings, continue to do so, but only have the core individuals needed to make it happen. While this meeting is taking place, record the session and make it accessible to all employees for later viewing.

Keep it Brief

Sitting In Meetings All Day

When you think about the amount of time it takes to put a meeting together, actually holding it in a room, getting started and finalizing everything, it’s a whole lot longer than the 30 or 60 minutes that the meeting was originally supposed to be. It’s not that everyone simply hates the thought of meetings, it’s the many emotions, complications and wasted time that come with them.

Forbes says that one main reason why people hate meetings so much is that our brains simply can’t focus fully for such a long amount of time. The trouble with carving out a certain time window for a meeting is the feeling that you need to fill up all of that time. All the while, your colleagues are desperate to get back to their desks and meet their deadlines or praying they’ll be in time to pick their children up from school.

The solution? Have someone do the pre-meeting work before hand and allow for employees to attend live meetings online or allow for the watching of a recording later on. Not only does this not take away from their work time and productivity, it also makes sure a 15 or 30-minute meeting is actually that long. 

Record the Meeting

  Meeting Recording

One great feature of video conferencing software is that you no longer need a secretary to take notes then repeat the minutes in the next meeting. You can record all of your meetings, save them, and e-mail them out to anyone who needs to see them. This is a great advantage for anybody who can’t make the meeting and means that they can check it out at a time which is convenient for them, again not disrupting their regular work flow.

Something so funny about the internet and technology industry is that all of these companies are so advanced with their online marketing and campaign management, but when it comes to holding meetings they are still stuck in the 90s!

Be Decisive

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The key purpose of meetings is to make important business decisions, so then why do so few meetings accomplish this?

Many seem to go around in circles with everybody voicing their own opinion and boring everyone else to tears. Of course, everybody in the meeting should be able to voice their own opinions. That is why they are in the meeting, after all. But if you notice things are starting to drag, emphasise the importance of making an immediate decision and take a vote if you have to. Don’t let the meeting time be taken up by unimportant decisions or tangents. This way meetings will go much smoother and your team will get much more done in a shorter amount of time.

Should your organization hold meetings through an online video or meeting format, it would be much easier for all attendees to take notes or make suggestions through a chat interface. Not only will this help with the structure and organization of all notes taken, but it will also allow for individuals who might not like the spotlight on them to be able to contribute as well.

Less In-Person Meetings = Happier Employees

Zero Meetings

One of the many benefits to being an entrepreneur or the boss of your own business, is that you don’t have to deal with the many frustrations of meetings and staff management.

At the same time, we all know that meetings and communication within the workplace is required. What isn’t required is making the whole process a drag. Implement each of the methods above into your existing business and see how you can improve productivity and staff happiness by automating and delivering the process through online video and webinars.

The top marketers in the world are doing it to increase their businesses… you should too.

Rankinity – How to Track Website Rankings in Real Time

It can be time consuming enough to try to keep track of how your website is performing in search engines; it’s an even larger struggle to keep up with how your competitors are ranking, too.

Rankinity does all this for you. Rankinity is a website rank tracking service, and it tracks your site (and your competitors) in real time to give you the information you need to improve your rankings and keep them high.

Rankinity’s website rank tracking services are the most advanced available today, beating out their competitors by far. This is largely thanks to their advanced and unique features.

Website_rank_tracking_in_real_time_with_Rankinity

Unique Rankinity Features

Rankinity’s features are what truly set it apart from any competing services, offering incredibly high value for all businesses, no matter what industry you’re in.

Some of their best and most high value features include—but are definitely not limited to—the abilities allowing you to:

Check website rankings on multiple search engines in real time: Rankinity is the first service that allows you to check your website positions in real time. You can actually make changes to your site (like specifying a URL or adding keywords) from Rankinity’s dashboard, and in real time be able to see how your changes affect your rank and position in multiple Search Engines.

Rankinity_Visibility

Get detailed analysis on your competitors: Keeping an eye on your competitors is an important part of all businesses, and an important part of SEO. Rankinity will compare visibilities of the sites you see as your competition. They’ll show you how you rank compared to your competition when it comes to keyword ranking.

Limit the Search to Specific Countries or Cities: Web searches can be heavily dependent on geographical location. Especially if you’re looking to rank predominantly locally, it only makes sense to focus on ranking based on location. Rankinity will allow you to keep an eye on results only on the countries or cities that you need to monitor. This helps filter out the unnecessary information you don’t need, and it makes sure you don’t miss anything critical that you do need.

Flexible Keyword Amounts & Checking Intervals: You get to choose how many keywords you want to track, and how often you want to check them. You can choose to check keywords at intervals as often as daily or as infrequently as every 15 days. The final cost is reliant on these factors, which we’ll talk more about in the pricing section.

Rankinity_Projects

Group Keywords for Bigger Impact: Rankinity makes it possible for you to group keywords together, and to view a visibility analysis for that group of keywords. This feature makes it incredibly easy to find the most effective and high-ranking group of keywords for your particular site, and see how they affect your rankings.

Rankinity_Keywords

SEO Project Collaboration: A lot of businesses employ SEO campaigns that involve the work and cooperation of several collaborators. Especially when collaborators aren’t all in the same place (and even when they are), this can be difficult to do.

Rankinity’s SEO Project Collaboration makes it easy for everyone; everyone can access the analytics and work towards new strategies to promote your site. Best of all: it’s easy to stay aware of all changes in your project and site, no matter who’s making them.

Add and Assign Weight to Keywords: Though grouped keywords are important and incredibly effective, it’s natural that some keywords will be more important, relevant, and effective for your site than others. This feature allows you to prioritize keywords and add weight to the most important ones, telling Rankinity which keywords you want to value highest.

This allows you to have more of a say in how your group of keywords (and the most important keywords) affect the total visibility of your website. Especially when it comes to packing a punch with long-tailed keywords, this is a huge advantage.

Rankinity_Keyword_Options

Fast Reports of Keyword Standings: Rankinity has easy-to-follow infographics that show you exactly how you’re ranking for the keywords you’ve chosen, even showing how you’ve ranked for each keyword over time and how you currently and have historically ranked against competitors. These infographics and reviews constantly stay up to date so that you can, too.

Rankinity_Keyword_Reports

Multi-System Integration: Rankinity is easy to integrate with other systems via API; it’s simple to import and export data to your own CRM system. You can combine the data from Rankinity with other services in other areas for your SEO, making your overall campaigns that much more effective.

Rankinity_API

Earn More: Rankinity offers a great opportunity to all their customers for affiliate marketing, allowing you to get 10% of payments made by the customers you refer to them.

SEO and marketing companies also have the option of using the data, tools, and features of Rankinity to create new services for their own clients, expanding their lists of services and prices.

Rankinity_SEO_Companies

Regardless, even if you don’t use affiliate links or use Rankinity to offer other analytics services for clients, the amount of time Rankinity saves you can be applied to other money-making and high profit endeavors. There’s no way to lose, and you have everything to gain.

All of these features allow you to evaluate your ranking, compare it to your competitors, and try to adjust it accordingly. Rankinity’s real time tracking is perhaps their truly stand out feature, especially as it allows you to add keywords or make alterations and instantly be able to see the results.

To see a full and complete list of Rankinity’s unique features, click here.

Rankinity Pricing

Since Rankinity evaluates your site’s performance on how it ranks for keywords, it makes sense that their pricing reflects this. The cost is entirely dependent on the number of keywords you want to check and how often you want to check them.

You can check the keywords as often as one day, or as infrequently as fifteen days.

Once you decide how many keywords you want to monitor and how often you want to check them, Rankinity will give you a cost per 30 days. By offering fully customizable plans, Rankinity ensures that no one will ever overpay for their services (which is often an issue with fixed price plans by their competitors).

Rankinity_Pricing

Added note: for websites looking to track more than 1,000 keywords, Rankinity will currently offer a discount; you just have to contact them

To see the cost for thirty days for your business’s needs, take a look at their pricing calculator here.

Final Thoughts

Rankinity’s unique features combined with their low costs (thanks to plans that are customizable to your exact needs) keep them edging out their competitors. Not only are you able to carefully track your own site’s progress, you can keep track of how you’re comparing to your biggest competitors (and up and coming competitors). You can do this all from one screen and without extra hassle or work on your part. By doing this, Rankinity saves you time, and time is money.

How do you think Rankinity will work for you? To sign up for Rankinity and start tracking your site — and your competitors — in real time, click here to find a plan and a price that works for you.

Best Mobile Apps for Online Marketers

If you’re working for yourself with your own business, knowing the ins and outs of marketing. But you can’t always be chained to your desk, right? Here are some of the truly essential apps for modern-day marketers who like to take advantage of current smartphone technology.

Perch

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Gain a bird’s-eye view of all the social mentions you and your competitors receive. Just add a business, and you’ll get notified via a feed about the companies’ mentions on various sites like Google+, Yelp, Groupon, etc.

The focus is on small business, so if you enter in Starbucks, you’ll get mentions for local franchises, but not the corporation as a whole. This is a great way to see how people like your company as well as come up with strategies to make your company better than your competitors.

Google Adwords

Adwords-798x310

Campaign marketers can check their stats, update bids, budgets and more, thanks to this new app from Google AdWords! If you’re running a PPC, or pay-per-click, campaign, the AdWords app makes this easier while you’re on the go as well. Given that both Android and Adwords are both Google products, naturally, Android got first dibs, but it is not unlikely an iOS version might follow.

Evernote

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Never forget an idea again! Fantastic for capturing–and sharing–lead generation ideas, Evernote is available as an Android app on both tablets and phones, as well as on a main PC browser, allowing you to jot down that last-minute idea to share before an important meeting. Good also for capturing web pages related to your ideas. Create various notebooks for all your information: projects, contacts, etc.

Trello

Trello

Trello is the to-do-list app of all to-do-list apps! You can create to-do lists, and assign team members to take on those specific tasks, making delegation a LOT easier. You can access Trello from your main computer or on-the-go with an apps, so you can always be sure your to-do’s are completed on time.

HootSuite

HootSuite

Delegate your social media marketing to an owl! HootSuite’s an all-in-one social media posting tool that allows you to post messages to places such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Schedule posts so you don’t have to post manually, freeing up time for other things. HootSuite is available for both PC and smartphone usage.

Pocket

pocket-1366051744

Browsing various sites–social media & otherwise–can be a little overwhelming, esp if you don’t have time to read everything in one go. Save webpages for later and when you’ve read them, you can check them off as read, and they’ll disappear from your “saved sites” queue, keeping clutter to a minimum, which is always nice. Available on phone, tablet and PC.

LinkedIn

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It’s been perfectly described at one point as the “Facebook” for networkers, marketers and other professionals seeking to build their circle of contacts and referrals. But it is a site for professionals, which means you won’t get all the unnecessary “social entertainment” chatter. The phone app works better than the main website, and works great with HootSuite.

These are some of the best apps that have gotten mentioned time and again by those in the know. Give these a shot and see how each works for you. Mix and match each app’s functionality to create a custom marketing strategy that rockets your business upward. Some of these apps are also available as Firefox extensions creating a way to sync data between your PC and your phone. Truly marketing connectivity at its best.

Profiting from the $120 Billion Gift Card Industry

When was the last time you gave or received a gift card? It was probably just recently, and even more important… it was probably well received.

The business of gift cards is extremely profitable and is now a $100+ BILLION industry. It was recently reported that around 25% of all holiday gifts will be returned after they are received. The great thing about gift cards is that once they are given, the receiver can spend them on whatever they want… however, the clear winner in the world of gift cards are the businesses and processing companies behind them.

Before we jump into more details stats and some infographics, let’s first take a look at some quick stats (source CardPrinting.us).

  • 8 – 10% of businesses offers Gift Cards. 
  • 10 – 18% of all Gift Cards go unused.
  • On average $40 is spent on Gift Cards
  • 55% of Gift Cards recipients need more than one trip to deplete their card value.
  • 25% purchase items they had not plan to spend money on.
  • 85% add an average of $17.70 out of their own wallets when redeeming Gift Cards.

I feel the most important stat here is that 10-18% of gift cards go unused. Unfortunately I have first hand experience of forgetting about gift cards, only later to find them and see that their balances have dwindled away over time, or even worse… I simply misplaced the gift card!

These unused funds are known as “spillage”, which actually results in BILLIONS in profit for retailers annually.

The Gift Card Business is Booming!

With more people buying online and using email and digital methods for sending/receiving gifts, gift cards are quickly becoming the number one choice for consumer gifting… and not only during the holiday season.

In 2014, $124 billion was loaded on gift cards in the U.S. — this year (2015) we will likely see gift card purchases surpass the $138 billion mark.

For more fun statistics and how your business card start increasing revenue and profits with gift card, check out the infographic below, provided by CBE.

Gift Cards Infographic

eCommerce Tips for Increasing Holiday Sales

As the “most wonderful time of the year” for online shopping and spending quickly approaches, if you have an online business then you are surely at the edge of your seat and waiting for the flood gates to open.

However, just having an ecommerce site doesn’t promise riches of any kind. As much as you may be preparing for the year end sales spike, millions of other sites and etailers are doing the same thing.

With Deliotte already forecasting a 9% jump in holiday sales this year, it’s now more important than ever to make sure you have all of your planning and marketing materials in check.

To help you in this never ending journey to continually break new sales records, I’m going to list some great highlights from Prestashop’s 2014 Ecommerce Holiday Planning Guide, which will be sure to get you thinking and tweaking ad campaigns with plenty of time to spare!

Important Shopping Dates You Need to Know

If you want to succeed with bringing in more traffic, customers and sales than ever before… you simply need to prepare for the days ahead, and we aren’t just talking about Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the week before Christmas.

While October is quite a mind blowing month for any Halloween based etailers, it’s also a great time to prepare for the huge activity to come in November and December. You can see a break down of many of the important dates and events to prepare for over the last 61 days of the year.

Important Holiday Shopping Dates

It’s also important not to forget about the first week of January when you can hit your audience for “New Years Resolutions” as well! Hint: This is when weight loss, financial and self improvement campaigns do best!

It’s All About the Holiday Marketing Baby!

There’s just something warm and fuzzy about the Holidays that gets everyone so happy and cheerful — even when they are spending a ton of money that they probably can’t afford to spend in the process.

This all comes into play when you look at the different types of marketing and ad campaigns that take place throughout the year. Happy commercials with holiday music playing, kids opening gifts and of course Christmas trees and winter snow… all wrapped nicely around your best selling products and specials.

Take a look at how popular brands like Old Navy and PetSmart bring that special holiday feeling to their site design every year.

Holiday Ad Creatives

But don’t forget… it’s not just web site designs and themes you need to be paying attention to — also think about email designs, landing pages, flyers, customer segmentation (gifts for girls/guys) and so much more. Each of these tweaks and methods can bring a nice boost to your holiday conversions and sales.

SEO, AdWords and Blogging

Many of us focus our efforts on important SEO and keywords throughout the year, but we also forget the importance of how SEO plays a part in holiday shopping as well.

You might be ranking on the first page of Google for your best selling products, but what happens when people start throwing words like “christmas gifts”,  “holiday shopping” and “free shipping” into the mix? Are you still even ranking?

Holiday Shoppers Spending Money

These are just some of the key points you should be thinking about when preparing for end of the year shopping.

The same applies for your Google Adwords campaigns. Throw out the slow performing default ad copies you are using and spruce them up with holiday keywords and promotions.

As for your blog… there’s never been a better time for you to come up with some quality content that really gets your audience engaging with and sharing your product pages. Everyone loves to share content about their favorite holidays… especially any useful lists and articles on how to save money during the holidays and best gift recommendations for friends and family.

Get creative and see what happens!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year for Ad Testing

There’s no doubt about it… running an online or offline business during the 4th quarter is extremely exciting and as a great time to really get creative with your ad campaigns. Millions of people are more willing to pull out there credit card and spend money than at any other point during the year.

I’ve only scratched the surface of the many different ways you can prepare your business for the holidays, but the free report from Prestashop goes into way more detail. At the end of the book you will also receive a holiday checklist to get your business in organized and on the right path for the massive online spending that is about to take place.

7 Ways to Improve Your Online Reputation

What shows up in the search results when someone searches for your personal or business name?

If it’s not your own web sites, social profiles and blogs, then your online reputation is potentially up for grabs!

Not ranking on the first page of Google for your personal or business name is not the only thing you need to look out for. Just look at the recent celebrity photos that were leaked and all the drama around Google and how they blocking content in the search results. Online reputation management isn’t just about what can be said or done, but also about what’s already out there. It’s much easier to plan ahead and secure your reputation now, then to try and remove something from the internet later on.

Who Needs Online Reputation Management?

When you think of the phrase “online reputation management“, you probably only think about big corporate businesses with high end customers and contracts that are always in the news. However, ORM has become so much more now that everything is accessible to anyone on the internet.

Here are some new ways to look at ORM and who is using it:

  • Doctors, Lawyers & Professionals – Bad user reviews, slander, false complaints
  • Local Businesses – Restaurants and local businesses in your area rely heavily on reviews
  • Celebrities & Personalities – Everything a celebrity or well known person is on the web
  • Politicians – When it comes time for the next election, everything is put out there
  • The Average Person – If your employer searches for your name online, what will they see?

As you can see, reputation management and monitoring how you look online really applies to everyone — especially with all of the personal and financial data being stolen lately! In 2012 alone, there were over 12 million victims of identity fraud!

InternetReputation.com offers a wide range of monitoring services include finding new mentions of names and addresses, negative listings in search results, removal of data from top sharing sites and reducing the risk of private information spreading online — all of which are very important.

To improve upon their list of recommended services, I’ve also compiled seven ways for any individual or brand to better monitor and manage their online reputation vs. leaving it all wide open for anyone to jeopardize.

7 Ways to Improve Your Online Reputation

Secure Your Exact Match Domain Name

One of the most simple and cost effective ways to protect your online brand and name, is simply by registering your domain name. When possible, try to secure all variation of your name such as Name.com, Name.net and Name.org. It would be in your best interest to not only register your personal name, but also any business related names as well. Another good rule of thumb is to register any domain names that could be used against your brand as well, such as NameSucks.com.

Choosing Your Domain Name

Create a Blog on Your Site

Improving how your site, brand and company looks in the search results has a lot to do with the type of content you release through your site. In most cases, the most detailed and often you post quality content, the better chances you have for ranking higher and more often in the search rankings. Be sure to create content that people find value in, but also target your content and keywords to phrases people might be looking for when researching your name (ie: name customer reviews, name complaints)

Use a Blog to Protect Your Reputation

Register Your Name on All Social Networks

With over 2 billion users spread across all of the major social networks, it’s a no brainer for you to keep your name and business active on there as well. Each social network allows you to setup a unique URL and username for your accounts. Register accounts for both your personal and business name. If the username you want is already taken, try to secure a closure alternate or possibly try contacting the person who already owns it. Social profiles are very easy to rank on the main page of the search results for personal and business names, so this simple and effective process is a must for every business and brand.

Social Networks

Establish Yourself as an Authority

Establish Yourself as an ExpertIt’s easy for anyone to create a web site, blog and a few social profiles online, but establishing yourself as a credible authority takes a lot of time and works. Some of the best ways to do is by creating high quality and valuable content on your site that other people would want to reference and share. One of the best ways to establish yourself as a trusted authority is to get quotes on news sites and also do guest blogging on top blogs within your niche. This process takes time, but it’s well worth the exposure and credibility associated with it.

Don’t Make Google Angry – Bad SEO Practices

The Google Panda UpdateA great way to lose control of your online reputation is make Google angry and have them penalize your site. Not only would this lead to your site being penalized by Google, but it would push your own site rankings down and make it easier for your competition to rank above you. To stay in good standards with Google, always be sure to look at their most recent algorithm updates and staying in line with Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird best practices.

Build Your Online and Offline Presence

Shopping at the MallEven if you are an online based business, you probably still have a local based operation or headquarters somewhere. This means you can take advantage of local advertising and site directories. If you are a local based business, this should be at the top of your list as local advertising is not only very effective, it’s also quite easy to rank for and control since your range competition is much smaller.

Monitor Online Reviews and Customer Feedback

Customer ReviewsThe final and most important way to monitor your online reputation is to always keep an eye on what people are saying about your business. This can be quite easy to setup through the use of Google Alerts and plugging in the name of your company or brand. If you are a local business or restaurant, your main focus should also be towards sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, SuperPages, UrbanSpoon and others.

Check Your Reputation Score

Internet Reputation MonitoringIf you aren’t currently trained in how to properly monitor and manage your online reputation, then looking to an outside agency may be your best option. Many solutions such as InternetReputation.com have created easy to use backend tracking platforms for anyone to plug in their keywords of choice, set up alerts and track the progress of their data and name mentions.

You can request a free reputation analysis report through their site to see where you could better improve your rankings, reputation and security.

10 Awesome Plastic Business Card Designs

I love business cards. Instead of just being a little piece of paper that you hand to someone, it’s also your first and last impression. It’s what someone receives when they first meet you, and then what they see after they’ve met with you at a conference or event. Your business card is definitely more than just your email and contact info… and if you aren’t going to make it outstanding enough to be a conversation piece, you might as well not even have one at all!

Thanks to the power of the internet it’s now easier than ever to make your business card stand out from the crowd. Gone are the days when you have to spend a lot of money to go to a local printer in your area and wait weeks for them to print something amazing. You can also throw the high production costs out the window too.

Now you can simply pick and choose the type of design you want, or even higher a designer to create something completely custom. Next it’s time for you to choose the type of card you want… whether it be paper, cotton, plastic or even metal!

So now the question is, how can you bring that boring business card in your wallet to “Super” status? Time for an upgrade! (photo credit)

Super Mario Brother Card

Today I’m going to focus on plastic business cards and the many different ways you can come up with a unique design for your business or brand. The cool thing about plastic cards is that they not only make you look professional and serious, but they are much better looking and will always stand out among a stack of other flimsy cards you may have accumulated.

Awesome Plastic Business Card Designs

One of the major benefits to having plastic business cards is that they are clear from the start, which means you can come up with some pretty creative designs. This “The LAB Brewing Co.” card not only stands out with their killer logo and orange colors popping off the card but they also cover all the basic data that every business card is expected to have.

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Just like a plastic business card can be completely clear, it can also be completely printed around the design and colors of your company as well. The front of this card is solely focused on the logo name and design, while still highlighting the persons name in the top left corner while providing their contact info on the bottom right.

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Plastic business cards can also be very clean and simple as well. In this example you will see a clear card design with a simple white font. The back of the card is nothing more than a reflection of the front side. Unique and direct at the same time.

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One of my favorite things about plastic cards is how well the color pops! The card below is a perfect example of a unique design that uses color to it’s advantage. The back of the card is also cool because it uses the same cloud design that is featured on the front of the card to provide more information on the company.

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Speaking of color… plastic cards are also great for real life photography as well. How many times have you been handed a card from someone and it had their picture on it, only to have the picture discolored or even in poor print quality. Not a very good first impression.

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Now it’s time to get creative! Sticking with the same concept of a business card with a real person on it, let’s bring it to the next level with a custom die-cut design. In the world of real estate, first impressions are everything and getting someone to keep your card is also important. There is no doubt this card will get all the attention.

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Need another example of an industry where you definitely don’t want someone to toss your business card into the garbage? That would the car dealership industry. Hand these business cards out to your customers and they might even just keep this one around simply for their love of their favorite car model and the uniqueness of your card!

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Real pictures, die-cut designs and custom creations are a great way to grab attention, but getting clean and creative is a great way to impression as well. The card below is gives an exact impression of what every financial manager wants… increased results and earnings. This card speaks for itself.

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We’ve covered a lot of different plastic card designs… from super simple to very complex. What if you already have a business card that you love and just want to make it more professional through the use of a plastic base? The design below is a perfect example of how this would be done. Also keep in mind how much better the color and printing will look in a plastic base design.

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The last plastic card design in this series is a combination of creativity and plastic design at it’s best. When you are paying the premium for a plastic card design, you might as well make the most out of it. This video production and photography company is using their card as a gateway into their world and letting their customers have a little fun in the process.

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How to Design Your Own Plastic Business Cards

When it comes time to design and print your business cards you have a lot of options and places to choose from. In this post I highlighted many of the different cards which have been printed through PlasticPrinters.com. Be sure to take a look through their business card gallery and see what type of card design and type best fits your needs. When you find one you like, you can fill out their price quote form to see what costs are involved in printing your design (based on complexities, design and quantity).

Business cards are an upfront investment. If you attend a lot of conferences and trade shows and are worried about wasting money by handing out your high quality cards to individuals who might not convert into leads, or maybe you like to throw them into the contest boxes to win a prize? If this is the case, it’s always a good idea to bring two variations of business cards with you — your best cards for high value contacts and lower end cards that you can give out to anyone who might ask.

Here’s to making a great first and lasting impression!

Top Affiliate Marketing Blogs of 2013

Affiliate marketing blogs are what make the world of affiliate marketing go round. Not only do they share original stories and content with their audience, but they also teach new comers how to make money online while also bringing new opportunities to light for those who are already working in the industry.

This can clearly be seen through my blog in itself, as it’s been able to generate over $5 million in new business for my advertisers. This means that I’ve had a great deal of people visit my site and discover something new and helped them make money online.

Like anything on the internet, some affiliate marketing blogs are better than others. Many will die off and only a few will last for years to come. I’ve seen a lot of friends get started with their own affiliate marketing blogs and then they lose interest and the blog eventually dies out. This is something I’ve always made sure didn’t happen with my blog. Not only has it been a valuable resource for the many people who visit the site, but it’s something I enjoy doing.

My Favorite Affiliate Blogs

I have quite a few blogs that I will read on a weekly basis, but as I just mentioned, many of them are inconsistent with how often they update their content or the direction that they are going. For this reason, my favorite way to view the top blogs and news on the internet is through sites like AffPosts, AffBuzz and checking out the Brand 150 list.

  • AffPosts – It would take a lot of time if you wanted to view a bunch of different blogs and see if any new content was on their site. To save a ton of time and take a glance at what’s new for the day, I highly recommend using Affposts.

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  • AffBuzz – The affiliate industry is more than just affiliate marketing blogs. AffBuzz has taken the liberty of not only becoming a well known affiliate blog syndication site, but they also include social profiles, industry events and more.

AffBuzz Top Affiliate Blogs

Be sure to check out all of the top syndication sites above and list your favorite blogs in the comments below!

Top PPC Marketing Experts on Twitter

Pay per click marketing is one of the most direct and easy to understand ways to start making money online. The process is simple. You bid on keywords to target your audience, send them to your landing page and try to convert your visitors into leads. It sounds easy enough but the competition and high advertising rates make it quite the task to master.

Fortunately we are working in the world of internet marketing and there are so many resources out there for you to learn from, you won’t have to go it alone. From basic tutorials, landing pages tips and ppc campaign optimization there is a whole world of free content and paid learning courses out there for you to learn from.

It would also be wise for you to start following some of the best names in ppc marketing through Twitter. PPCHero released their list of the Top 25 Most Influential PPC Experts and each of them provide value and expertise in their own special way.

This year the list was selected by the visitors of PPC Hero and over 130 names were submitted and received votes, but only 25 could make the top list. The list below features the name and their and twitter handle, which will make it easy for you to learn more about each person and easily follow them through their social outlets as well.

Top PPC Marketing Experts on Twitter

  1. Larry Kim – @larrykim
  2. Marty Weintrab – @aimclear
  3. Bryan Eisenberg – @thegrok
  4. Avinash Kaushik – @avinash
  5. Kevin Lee – @kevin_lee_qed
  6. Matt Van Wagner – @mvanwagner
  7. Brad Geddes – @bgtheory
  8. Jeff Ferguson – @countxero
  9. John Rampton – @johnrampton
  10. Perry Marshall – @perrymarshall
  11. Justin Seibert – @domjbs
  12. David Szetela – @szetela
  13. Joanna Lord – @joannalord
  14. Gregg Finn – @gregfinn
  15. Martin Rottgerding – @bloomarty
  16. James Svoboda – @realcity
  17. Pamela Lunda – @pamela_lund
  18. Marc Poirier – @marcpoirier
  19. David Rodnitzky – @rodnitzky
  20. Joe Kerschbaum – @joekerschbaum
  21. Heather Cooan – @heathercooan
  22. Manny Rivas – @mannyrivas
  23. Aaron Levy – @bigalittlea
  24. Kent Lewis – @kentlewis
  25. Lisa Raehsler – @lisarockssem

Top PPC Marketing Experts