Nov 022011
 

Disclaimer:  I have not been practicing what I preach.  Work has been steadily growing for me, which is a great thing, but it also leaves me little time for working on other business necessities like my social marketing campaigns.  For example when I first started my business, I was doing 4 – 5 blog posts each week.  I eventually decreased this to twice each week, but in the last month, I have only created one blog post.  In addition I have linked my blog to LinkedIn and Twitter so as a result I am producing very little activity on these social networking websites. 

So here are some tips to help you manage your social marketing campaigns, and hopefully I will take my own advice.

  1. I basically have to say the first tip, even though it is a no-brainer.  You have to dedicate some time to your social marketing campaign.  Well like I said, no duh, but at least I can share some ways that help me get it done.  Calendar reminders.  I find some calendar reminders to be annoying, but I will let them keep dinging on my computer until I finally complete the task.  Or I just dedicate some time each day or week and stick to it.  And finally I will put together a list of topics in advance, and try to write some starting content around each topic.
  2. Link your social marketing accounts so when you update one, it automatically updates other social marketing network.  Disclaimer:  If your small business has a dedicated marketing person, then I do not always recommend this method just because a certain amount of personalization is required on social networking sites.  But if you are a small business owner doing it yourself like I am, then you can link your blog to Twitter via a program like Google Feedburner.  I also link my blog and Twitter accounts to my LinkedIn account so when I make an entry on my blog or Twitter, it shows up in my Update activity on LinkedIn.
  3. Use social media dashboards to manage your social media accounts.  Dashboards like HootSuite, OnlyWire, and TweetDeck, allow you to manage your social marketing accounts and sometimes multiple accounts.  For example with OnlyWire, you can create a blog post and submit it to multiple social networking websites with the click of a button. 
  4. Do not overdo it.  Stick to only 1 or 2 social marketing networks until you have mastered them, and then move to other networks.  For example if you are business to business, then consider a blog and LinkedIn.
  5. Engagement – Create a small network and engage with them on their social networks and vice versa.  The key to remember here is to provide meaningful content engagement and avoid spam.  If you are not providing value, then do not do it. 
  6. See what your clients are doing in their social works so you can determine the most effective ways to interact with them.  Gist is a good tool for putting all your social networking contacts in one place so you can monitor them more effectively. 
  7. Analytics – Review your social networking analytics to see what is working and where you need to maximize your efforts.   Twitter is releasing a web analytics tool, or use Google Analytics to montior your blog traffic.  Argyle Social is another good tool.

So quite honestly even though I have provided you with some good tips to help you manage your small business social marketing campaign, even the tips can be overwhelming.  Once again pick one or two items, and master them first before expanding into other areas.  If you have any tips to offer for managing your social marketing campaign, please feel free to share in the comments below.

Jun 142011
 

Although there have been many reports over the last several years about the death of blogging, it still remains very popular, and it can be a great asset for your small business social marketing strategy.  And blogging is not only a great marketing tool, but it is also an easy way to add fresh content to your small business website which will help your search engine optimization (SEO) campaign as well.  I always recommend to my small business clients to use a self-hosted blogging platform software (ie. one that is hosted on your website domain so it would be www.yourcompanyname.com/blog), and many hosting companies offer free blog hosting applications.  So let’s take a  look at a few of the more popular self-hosted blogging platforms available.

WordPress.org

I am a big fan of WordPress, and I use it as my blogging platform.  

  • WordPress is great from an SEO standpoint
  • It is easy to use and setup
  • There are tons of plugins and themes available allowing you to customize the look and feel

On the downside WordPress does have a few security vulnerabilities.  Here is a recent post I wrote on some security WordPress plugins available, and there are several other security adjustments you should make such as changing the default WordPress database table prefixes.

Movable Type

Although I have personally never used Movable Type, it has been around since 2001, and it has a well-earned reputation as being a solid blogging software platform.  In addition they have a solid reputation of providing security updates and fixes rather quickly. 

Drupal

Drupal offers a very popular blogging platform.  It is also considered to be very SEO friendly, and because of its popularity there are a ton of themes and modules available to allow you to customize it.  Some of the criticisms of Drupal are that the documentation can be lacking, it is not as user friendly as other programs like WordPress, and the learning curve is a little steeper. 

b2evolution

b2evolution is another blog platform software that has been around for a while.  It is not as popular as some of the other platforms mentioned, but it has a devoted following, and it also has a reputation of offering some more robust and advanced features over competing blog platforms.

Feb 142011
 

Here are the final results after 30 days on my SEO test to determine the effects website domain registration could have on your search engine rankings.

Search Engine Optimization Warner Robins

  1. Initial rank: Yahoo/Bing – 13 Final rank: Yahoo/Bing – 11
  2. Initial rank: Google – 44 Final rank: Google – 25

Improvement in both search engines

ISO 27001 Macon GA

  1. Initial rank: Yahoo/Bing – 1 Final rank: Yahoo/Bing – 1
  2. Initial rank: Google – 4 Final rank: Google – 1 and 2

Improvement in both search engines

Social Marketing Warner Robins

  1. Initial rank: Yahoo/Bing – 32 Final rank: Yahoo/Bing – 31
  2. Initial rank: Google – 4 Final rank: Google – 5

Decline in Google and Improvement in Yahoo/Bing so mixed results

Website Design Warner Robins

  1. Initial rank: Yahoo/Bing – I quit looking after 100 Final rank: Yahoo/Bing – I quit looking after 100
  2. Initial rank: Google – I quit looking after 100 Final rank: Google – I quit looking after 100

No change in results

Well the results are in, and for the most part, the rankings were an improvement. As I said before this test is in no way scientific, and in fact even these blog posts will have some affect on my positioning. I have avoided doing any additional SEO work for my website over the last 30 days so I think it is safe to say the longer website domain registration does help. It definitely will not hurt your rankings so I always suggest registering your website for at least 3 years.

Jan 142011
 

In my three part series, “Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – How to Improve Your Rankings,” one area I touched on is how SEO companies like mine will use different techniques (SEO White Hat Methods) to help you achieve the very top rankings. There are of course the basic tried-and-true methods, and I covered these methods in my SEO series, but there are also tons of little tweaks you can make to achieve the very top rankings.

One of these little tweaks involves your domain registration, but how important is domain registration? I am using my website as a test to find out.

Here is the theory behind domain registration. Search engines like Google “may” penalize websites with domains that are set to expire in a short amount of time (less than a year) because they consider these websites to be possible spam websites. My website domain registration is set to expire in the middle of February, and here is some additional info about my website.

  1. My website was registered in February 2010, and only for one year.
  2. I added blog content almost 10 months ago.
  3. I added website content about 4 – 5 months ago.
  4. I did not start obtaining links to my website until about 4 months ago so it has only been indexed in the search engines for about the same amount of time.

As I said I will be renewing my website next week for a period of 3 – 5 years, and would like to see how this will effect my search engine rankings. In reality this one change is very small in the grand scheme of the many different things you can do to enhance your search engine positioning. In addition, if I have done my job well in regards to my content, I should have other sites linking to me over the next month. But it will be interesting to see if this extension of my domain registration will make much of a difference in my search engine rankings.

Below are a few of my current rankings I picked at random, and I will monitor them weekly over the next month. If there are any major changes in rankings, I will post updates via my blog, otherwise if there are no changes I will update everyone at the end of a month.

Search Engine Optimization Warner Robins

  1. Yahoo/Bing – 13
  2. Google – 44

ISO 27001 Macon GA

  1. Yahoo/Bing – 1
  2. Google – 4

Social Marketing Warner Robins

  1. Yahoo/Bing – 32
  2. Google – 4

Website Design Warner Robins

  1. Yahoo/Bing – I quit looking after 100
  2. Google – I quit looking after 100

And that is it. Not exactly scientific, but I will keep my SEO work for my own site to a minimum over the next month in order to reduce the amount of additional SEO influencers.

Bottomline though: Register your website domain for a minimum of three years. My little test here is just for the sake of curiosity to see if it makes any type of difference.

Jan 052011
 

In my previous update post, I talked about my decision to meet with a lawyer to form my business entity instead of using one of the many online sites available to do the setup. I recently met with a lawyer, and I can confirm I made the right decision. Yes using an online legal site is cheaper, but there are just too many advantages with the personal touch so you will be justified in paying more. Here are just a few examples of some items I discussed that could apply to your small business. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and none of the below is legal advice. Always seek your own counsel.

  • Establish a local legal relationship for any future legal needs.
  • If you have a spouse, discussion and planning of how your spouse will have access to your business in the result of either your injury or death.
  • Coordination with the CPA guidance to determine the type of business entity you will setup, future goals for the company such as selling it, passing it on to your kids, etc.
  • If you are of the male persuasion this scenario could apply. If your small business will do business with the government, a woman or minority owned business gains certain advantages. It could make sense to make your wife majority or sole owner of the company.
  • Simple but overlooked things like when signing future contracts or agreements such as a rental agreement that you sign the agreement as the company and not the individual so the liability falls to your company and not you the individual.

And these are just a few of the items I discussed that went above and beyond just the setup and formation of the business entity.

I recently read one of those 2011 small business trend/prediction articles, and one of the predictions was that the online legal sites will begin to make the lawyer obsolete. Although there is some validity to this type of prediction because there can be certain advantages to using an online legal site, when it comes to forming your new small business, make sure you get it right. Sometimes the small amount of savings may not be worth it.

Nov 282010
 

Google Places is another way to market your small business online locally, and it is free. Google Places allows you to do the following:

  • List your company name, address, contact info, email address, website, and description
  • List your business in the appropriate local category
  • If you only provide services in a certain area, you can designate those areas for your listing
  • List your hours of operation
  • List your payment options
  • Add up to 10 photos of your product or storefront
  • Add up to five videos associated with your business

Learn more about Google Places and get your site listed today to increase your local online marketing presence.