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Search Engine Guide : Small Business Search Marketing
Search engine marketing news and information you can use to grow your business.

Search Engine Guide
  • 6 Search Marketing Buzzwords You'll Become Familiar With in 2016

    by Jayson DeMers

    Like them or not, buzzwords have their place in every industry. In 2016, search marketers will need to know a handful of buzzwords in order to remain relevant. Some of them you may already know, while others will be completely brand new. Time to start studying!

    The Value of Buzzwords

    There's debate in the business community regarding the usefulness and value of buzzwords. Do they make you look stuffy and cliché? Or do they allow you to connect with people on an even playing field?

    According to marketer Lindsey Davis, the following statement is an example of bad buzzword usage: "To show our client that we are thought leaders, let's think out of the box and bring some gamifacation into the mix by creating an immersive and edgy experience for our consumer."

    What does this statement actually say? It's merely a conglomeration of buzzwords that provides little utility to a conversation. "Conversation is meant to be a collaborative process," Davis reminds readers. "When it is ambiguous, it fails."

    But Davis also admits buzzwords can be used effectively in certain situations. She provides an example of good buzzword usage through the following statement: "Our client has expressed interest in ROI measurement. Here is an example of how I envision this coming to life and providing value to our client."

    "Good buzzword use occurs when affording ground for action," she writes. In other words, if you can use a buzzword in a way that contributes to the conversation and allows you to eliminate superfluous words, then your decision to use the buzzword is sound. 

    Another business expert, Steele Champion, calls buzzwords "conformity at its finest." He claims that buzzwords are used to silently tell people you understand them. It's like being part of an inside joke. You want others to know that you know, and you feel a connection to those who understand you (and vice versa). 

    6 Search Marketing Buzzwords

    It's important to understand the utility of buzzwords as a whole before delving into specific terms that are popular in today's business environment. As you can see, there are times when buzzwords are effective, as well as times when they aren't. It's worthwhile to learn how to use buzzwords effectively in order to put yourself in the right position. 

    In the world of search marketing, buzzwords are popular. The troubling issue is that many are meaningless, while some have real value. The key is to determine which fall into the former category and which are found in the latter. With that being said, let's take a look at some of the search marketing buzzwords you need to be familiar with in 2016. 

    1. Actionable Analytics

    This year, look for "actionable analytics" to be one of the common tech buzzwords. It will rise to prominence as a result of the increased importance of business analytics and big data in both small and large businesses. You'll begin to see more software and tools developed with the sole purpose of offering actionable analytics, which crunch and correlate all types of structured and unstructured data in order to make real time action and response feasible. 

    According to this blog post from datapine, a leader in business intelligence software, 2016 will be the year that business intelligence software finally becomes intuitive and, well, intelligent.  "As opposed to older systems that primarily aggregated and computed structured data, actionable analytics tools will be able to reason, learn and deliver prescriptive advice," the post reads.

    2. Social reach

    While the buzzword has been around for a while, the term "social reach" is finally gaining some steam in the search marketing world. Social reach simply refers to the number of times social media content has been viewed by a unique person. 

    3. Device Mesh

    Internet of Things was a buzzword of the past that's now considered common language. Could the new buzzword "device mesh" experience a similar path? Device mesh refers to the connective tissue between different devices - including mobile, home, wearable, and auto devices. Device mesh is what's expected to propel the Internet of Things forward.

    4. Influencer Marketing

    Another popular buzzword that's been around for a while but will increase in popularity this calendar year is "influencer marketing." This buzzword refers to influential people who support and vouch for your brand. Big brands such as Coca-Cola and Under Armor have been doing this for years, but look for smaller brands to jump on the trend in 2016. 

    The goal of influencer marketing is to focus the advertisements and marketing messages on the influencer, as opposed to the product or brand. The hope is that, by leveraging the influencer's power, viewers will automatically associate the individual with the brand. 

    5. Authenticity

    As you know, there's a big difference between authentic marketing messages and obviously-endorsed marketing messages. Authenticity is the buzzword that refers to the former. In other words, it's how you appear to your audience. While authenticity is a big deal in social media marketing, look for brands to begin focusing on authenticity in search marketing in 2016 as they look for higher returns.  

    6. Biased Algorithms

    Are algorithms actually computer-based, or do humans insert their own biases into these complicated equations? For example, why does Google show more ads for top-earning jobs to men than to women? (This is something Carnegie Mellon University researchers actually discovered). 

    While Google and other search engines would probably tell you there are no biases in their algorithms, the data would tell a different story. Look for biased algorithms to get more discussed in 2016 as binary code becomes more politicized. 

    Use Buzzwords Sparingly

    If you were to boil down the advice regarding proper usage of buzzwords in today's business environment, it would come down to three words: Use them sparingly. There are certainly times when buzzwords are inappropriate and eye-roll inducing, but there are also a number of situations where buzzwords can be used to clarify meaning and convey actionable advice. 

    As you consider the use of buzzwords in 2016 and how they fit into your vocabulary, keep the aforementioned buzzwords in mind and do your best to use them in appropriate situations, while avoiding overusing them in the wrong ones. Your ability to do so won't be lost on your peers. 

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • What is the SEO Value of Website-Hosted Videos?

    by Jayson DeMers

    Everyone understands that video is a valuable component of modern Internet marketing. However, few understand how video content translates into SEO value. If you really want to maximize your video content, you need to know how it works in relation to search engine ranking factors. In particular, it's important to understand the differences between website-hosted videos and YouTube-hosted videos. 

    The Power of Video

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, what about a video? Can you quantify how many words a video is worth? According to Forrester research, you can. Their findings claim that watching a one-minute video has the impact of reading 1.8 million words, or 3,600 web pages. 

    From a marketing perspective, this is an incredible statistic. How much time and money would it take to craft 3,600 pages of copy? Now compare that with how long it would take to produce a single well-crafted video. The potential value of video is far higher than standard text-based content. 

    Okay, so video holds more value than traditional content - but what does this tangibly look like? Well, consider the following statistics from this Animoto infographic on the power of video for small businesses:

    • 96 percent of customers say they find video helpful when making an online purchase decision.
    • 73 percent of customers say they are more likely to purchase a product after watching a video.
    • 94 percent of consumers watched an online video this past week.
    • 40 percent of consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 watch 10-plus online videos per week.
    • 83 percent of viewers prefer videos to be five minutes or less.
    What do all of these statistics prove? Quite frankly, they show that the power of video lies in the marketplace's affinity for consuming easily digestible video content in an effort to make educated and informed purchase decisions. If you aren't respecting this desire, you could be missing out. 

    The good news is that many businesses began respecting the rise of video last year; in 2015, video marketing saw a major breakthrough. Locally-based small businesses to multinational B2B organizations made hefty investments in video content. 

    "Marketers have learned that video is good for more than attracting attention," writes Tyler Lessard, video marketing expert and CMO of Vidyard. "It enriches the customer journey at all stages, and it is more effective than other content at converting buyers." 

    Your Video Hosting Options

    From a business perspective, it's imperative that you understand the value of video and actively pursue opportunities for leveraging this valuable customer engagement strategy. In your pursuit of education, you'll undoubtedly come across two different video hosting formats: YouTube-hosted and website-hosted. 

    For the purposes of this article, YouTube hosted will refer to any video that's hosted by a third party website or platform, while website hosted will refer to video content that's actually hosted and published on a company website. 

    When you hear most marketers and business owners discuss video marketing, they're typically referring to creating video content and publishing it through a third party platform. One of the reasons marketers revert to YouTube is that it's a streamlined publishing platform with a large audience. YouTube has more than a billion regular users and extreme brand recognition, so marketers are able to tap into this existing audience when publishing through YouTube.

    However, unbeknownst to many, there is a way to avoid third party platforms altogether and actually host video content on your own website. Why would you want to bypass the audience YouTube has already assimilated, you may ask? That's what we're going to discuss moving forward.

    Make On-site Video a Priority

    Believe it or not, on-site video is incredibly powerful. Just as YouTube hosted video has certain advantages, so does website-hosted video. Here are three reasons why:

    1. Enhanced Page Content

    As the aforementioned statistics show, video is appealing and engaging to consumers. By including video content on website pages and product listings, you can enhance your existing page content and increase conversions. 

    Take this page from the travel company Peru for Less as an example. While the page is well designed and strategically written, it wouldn't gain nearly as much traction without the video included on the left hand side of the page. The video visually brings to life the textual content on the right hand side. 

    Albeit through a different technique, many websites are now leveraging website-hosted video in the form of homepage background videos. You can see what this looks like by checking out the following examples from IUQO and Airbnb. By taking the traditional homepage layout and making it more immersive, these companies are enhancing website experiences from the very moment that visitors reach the site.

    2. Increased SEO Clout

    Perhaps the most tangible benefit comes in the form of SEO. When you host videos on your own website, you gain an additional opportunity to secure valuable positions in organic search rankings. On-site video allows you to secure greater visibility and traction than referring all of your traffic to a third-party website. 

    Think about it. When you host your videos on YouTube, you're investing in a tradeoff. You're essentially giving your content to someone else in exchange for more upfront visibility. While there's something to be said for having a potential audience of millions, there's also something to be said for keeping control and ownership of the content you work hard to produce. 

    Hosting videos on your own website ensures all visitors go through your website in order to consume your content. This increases your views, bolsters the average time-on-site, reduces bounce rates, and forces anyone who wants to share your video to link to your website. And as most readers know, inbound links are the primary factor in the ranking algorithm. 

    3. More Control

    The third major benefit of on-site video hosting is that you gain more control over the viewer's experience. Instead of competing with other videos on YouTube, you get your audience's full attention. If they like what they watch, you can gently push them through the conversion funnel. This on-site progression is a much more natural experience than asking a visitor to watch a YouTube video and then click a link in the description box to visit your landing page. 

    In other words, hosting video on your website gives you more control over the user's experience. You can eliminate distractions, guide the viewer strategically, and gain insights on user behavior that would be impossible to monitor on a third party hosting platform. As a marketer, this is a powerful position to be in. 

    Video Marketing in 2016

    In 2016, brands should focus on expanding their video content strategy, including both YouTube-hosted video content and website-hosted video content. 

    "You want to be there; you just need to think strategically about what content belongs there and how to move beyond YouTube on your own site," writes Darin Archer, one of Adobe's lead marketers. "As consumers browsing your mobile applications and Web experiences increasingly desire video to learn about your brand or product story, you need to move beyond the embedded video from YouTube and take full advantage of this medium in your digital customer experiences."

    Are you prepared to make video a priority in 2016? As a marketer with aspirations of staying relevant and engaging, it's a good bet to pursue an on-site video content strategy this year.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • 5 Ways SEO Can Save Small Businesses (and How to Get Started)

    by Jayson DeMers

    It's no secret that small businesses are volatile. Though the belief that "90 percent of businesses fail in the first two years" is a bit of an exaggeration, it's grounded in reality. More than half of small businesses end up failing after only a few years. As if the general trend weren't stressful enough for small business owners, the economy is on a gradual decline, startup funding is pooling toward only the most promising ideas, and the median number of days it takes to sell a business is also declining--it's a hard time to be a business owner. 

    Why Small Businesses Fail

    Most small businesses fail for several common reasons: a lack of experience, a lack of customer interest, excessive competition, poor financial planning, or an unproductive or nonexistent marketing strategy. There's no surefire way to tackle all these potential disruptors at once, but there is a strategy capable of helping small businesses survive those all-too-important first few years--SEO. 

    Search engine optimization (SEO) can remedy some of the most common problems affecting small businesses with the following advantages: 

    1. Site traffic. The most obvious benefit is direct site traffic. Ranking higher means more people will visit your site, which means more brand exposure, and more opportunities for conversions. Eventually, that translates to higher revenue and more customer support, reducing your financial volatility. 

    2. Foot traffic. Search engines aren't just a source for web traffic now that users can search on the go with mobile devices. An estimated 86 percent of all local searches are now online, giving users insight into nearby businesses. Local business results also come with "Phone" and "Directions" buttons, giving users the immediate tools they need to get in touch with you or visit you in person. Local SEO uses a separate algorithm from national search results, but the basic strategies are similar. 

    3. Brand recognition. Acquiring links on outside sources and building a social media following increases brand recognition across the board. This leads to more traffic and more trusting, loyal customers. 

    4. Marketing enhancement. SEO can serve as a complementary strategy for almost any other marketing effort. Content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and online advertising can all feed into and/or gain from your SEO strategy, making the sum of your marketing efforts more valuable overall. 

    5. Budget reduction. SEO is a highly affordable strategy for small businesses, especially those who operate in a tightly focused niche. It requires no initial injection of capital, and doesn't have any ongoing costs other than the man-hours you put into it. If you invest properly, SEO can yield a higher return on investment (ROI) than almost any other marketing strategy--meaning you'll save money and increase exposure simultaneously. 

    How to Get Started

    Interested in getting started? Here are some of the most important fundamentals: 

    1. Clean up your on-site SEO. Everything starts with your website. Make sure your site functions on all devices and browsers (especially mobile devices), check URLs, make sure your navigation is clear, intelligible, and intuitive, include descriptive meta titles and descriptions, and beef up all your standard pages with descriptive, concise content. These tips only scratch the surface of onsite SEO, but they should point you in the right direction. 

    2. Blog regularly. In today's world, SEO and content marketing are almost synonymous. You can't have an SEO strategy without ongoing content, and if you have a content marketing strategy, you'll gain SEO benefits, whether you intended to or not. Content gives you more real estate on the web (meaning more indexed pages), more contextually relevant content for Google to crawl, and a bigger audience to grow your online empire. 

    3. Post content with inbound links on external sources. Inbound links pass "authority" to your site, and are necessary if you want to rank. There are a few ways to do this, but the most effective (and least risky) is to post them using guest posts and relevant content on external blogs--the more authoritative they are, the better. The bottom line here is to make sure your links are relevant and valuable to a target audience. 

    4. Engage in social media marketing. Social media doesn't affect your rankings directly, but it can indirectly influence your authority. Social media leads to more shares, more links, and more visibility for your brand, all of which can support your content and rankings. 

    5. Restore and maintain your local citations. The more places your business is listed online, the better--but make sure the information is accurate everywhere. 

    6. Cultivate positive reviews. Check out your local reviews. Try to make up for the negative ones, and thank positive reviewers for their time. Encourage more reviews; the more positive reviews you have, the higher you'll rank in local searches. 

    The downside to SEO is the amount of time it takes to lead a viable strategy. It's almost impossible for an amateur to learn everything there is to know about SEO in the span of a few weeks, and even a seasoned SEO pro would have trouble trying to do everything by him/herself. While SEO is an almost universally cost-efficient and valuable strategy, it does take significant time and effort. Dedicate that effort, and you'll have a near-perfect asset to fight back against the threat of business closure. 

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • The right social media listening tools for the right jobs

    by Mike Moran

    Some of you may know that I know that I serve as a senior strategist at Converseon, a leading social media listening company. Meaning?  I have plenty of opinions in social media listening, but I don't claim to be unbiased about them by any means--of course I think that Converseon has the best approach, combining human analysis with technology that makes that analysis scale. 

    But I also know not everyone is willing to spend the money to attain that level of social media listening accuracy. Many of you may want to use something free, such as Hootsuite. (I see you out there.) And you can use a free tool to do social media listening-it's not against the law. I would suggest, however, that you to think very carefully about what you are using it for.

    You see, there are two very clear kinds of social media listening. One kind really only needs to look at individual posts-a stream of data that a human being watches on a dashboard and picks out what is relevant. If you are monitoring a crisis, or you are picking out possible job applicants, or you are trying to identify sales leads, this can work just fine with free tools, as long as you are willing to pay someone to sit in front of the screen and watch the stream.

    Because in a crisis you don't need to see every post, and it's OK if lots of the posts are irrelevant to the situation, as long as someone is watching and picking out what's important. If a story is very important, enough people will tweet it that you'll see it rather quickly. If 95% of the stream is irrelevant to your sales team, but they still catch the few sales leads that go by, it can work just fine, even if they also miss some leads. Free tools can be just fine in those situations.

    But whenever you are trying to answer questions that require aggregation of data, the free tools become a lot more difficult to use, because you won't have the right data to aggregate in the first place. For example, if the cell phone company Sprint wants to judge whether their brand mentions turned more positive when they announced their latest service plans, just putting in the word "Sprint" probably won't get the job done. In addition to finding all sorts of conversation about their company, they are likely to find lots of chatter about high school races, and they don't care very much how positive it is.

    And if the irrelevant data makes up 30% of the stream, you can't conclude anything. So, you clearly need something beyond keywords to do your aggregation so that you know that you have the right data. Human analysts can do it. Feeding their corrections into machine language technology can scale it.

    So, it's not that you can't use free listening tools. It's not even that you can't use them to try to answer these data aggregation questions. You can, but you have to do an awful lot of data cleanup to make them work. But that isn't the way I see companies using them. I see them loading up the wrong data in the tool and shooting out some numbers and thinking that they have answered the question.

    I understand the allure of free, but how much less do you want to pay to get the wrong answer?

    Originally posted on Biznology

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • 5 Strategies for Writing Compelling Titles

    by Jayson DeMers

    Whether it's a blog post, news article, email newsletter, or social media post, one of the biggest keys to increasing page views and maximizing impressions is creating killer headlines. Unfortunately, this is something most marketers usually fail miserably at. If you want to fundamentally change your content marketing strategy in just a matter of weeks, start by paying attention to the title.

    Why the Title Matters

    It's difficult to encapsulate the value of titles without context. For an email marketer, titles mean one thing. For bloggers, the value may be completely different. However, regardless of who you talk to, it's clear that titles and headlines have direct and tangible value. Perhaps these are the three most common benefits, though.

    • SEO. For bloggers, titles have an enormous impact on SEO. While Google doesn't tell us exactly what it looks for in a title, case study after case study has revealed the importance of using targeted keywords in titles.
    • Sex appeal. Honestly, titles are about sex appeal. A title is often the only factor a person has to judge a piece of content. Research suggests that 35 percent of email recipients choose whether or not to open an email based on the subject line alone. Furthermore, 69 percent will report an email as spam based on the subject line. Titles need to be compelling to garner clicks.
    • Sharing. Finally, in the age of social media, titles encourage sharing and clicking. Some people choose to expose this aspect by creating "click-bait" titles, but there are also honest ways to leverage this benefit.
    There are plenty of other reasons why titles matter, but these three are arguably the most important. If for nothing else, you should pay attention to titles and headlines so that you can enjoy the benefits of SEO, sex appeal, and sharing. 

    5 Tips for Developing Headlines That Convert

    So, how can you develop killer headlines that enhance SEO, increase clicks, and drive shares across social platforms? 

    1. Start with a Basic Title

    The biggest issue people have is putting the initial words on paper. You aren't going to come up with a killer title right from the start. It's going to take multiple drafts, tweaking, and adjusting before you end up with the final product. With that in mind, just put something down. We'll call this the "working title."

    A working title basically tells your team what direction the content is going. Essentially, it's the entire article boiled down into a single sentence or statement. Your final published title will say the exact same thing, only in a much more appealing format.

    You may even choose to come up with multiple working titles. This will allow you to take a few different directions, which increases your chances of eventually finding the right titles. 

    2. Do Keyword Research

    Every decent title starts with a little bit of keyword research. There are a number of free tools available, but Google's Keyword Planner is probably the most popular and comprehensive. 

    Type in some of the keywords in your article and see what alternatives and similar search terms pop up. You may be surprised to see phrases you never knew existed. This is good. It allows you to make tweaks that account for search engine relevancy. Write down a few of these words and mull over them as you continue crafting the title.

    3. Use Strong Words

    When coming up with a title, it's not just about using keywords that will help you rank in the search engines. If you're like most businesses, the majority of your traffic isn't organic to begin with. For many businesses, most traffic comes from social media and email campaigns. If you're only taking into account keyword rankings, then you're creating titles for search engines, not people. Instead, focus on creating titles that appeal to people.

    Think about the keywords you researched and think about polarizing alternatives to these words. From your keyword research, you know what people are interested in, and now you just need to target these trends with unique strategies. Depending on your audience and niche, you may choose to ditch the safe buzzwords and replace them with strong, emotional, or edgy language that makes the reader look twice. 

    Some examples of compelling language in titles include words like: 
    • you won't believe
    • amazing
    • gut wrenching
    • never before seen
    • heartwarming
    But it's not just strong language that's important. You have to consider the prepositions, pronouns, and articles. Just check out this study of the most popular words used in viral headlines and you'll see why this is true.

    4. Make Bold Claims

    People don't like "safe" articles. For example, there's nothing compelling about clicking a link that reads, "Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe." It's boring and replicable. You could probably paste that same title into thousands of chicken noodle soup pages across the Internet. 

    The key to crafting a killer headline is to make bold claims. It's okay to exaggerate some, just make sure the title is rooted in truth. Using our chicken noodle soup example, a bold title would look something like this: "9 Fascinating Things Your Mom Never Told You About Making Chicken Noodle Soup." The article content may be the exact same, but the title gives it a little extra zing. 

    5. Keep it Short

    Finally, remember to keep your title short. This isn't a senior thesis title - it's meant to quickly grab someone's attention and compel them to click. If you're working with email marketing, concise titles also ensure nothing gets clipped.

    As a rule of thumb, try to shoot for 70 characters or less. If you can land somewhere in the 50-60 character range, that's even better. This ensures your title meets all social media publishing standards, making it easily shareable. People should be able to read the title in two seconds or less. If it takes longer, people will keep scrolling.

    Ditch the Boring Titles

    Titles are more important than many realize. They impact the underlying SEO health of your business, as well as conversion rates and brand exposure. While the quality of your content is very important, you have to understand that titles serve as gatekeepers. If users don't like the title, they'll never end up engaging with your content. As such, it's imperative that you spend more time brainstorming and crafting compelling titles that resonate with your target audience. It's the only way to stay afloat in a crowded sea of content.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

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