15 Quick Tips to Boost Blog Traffic

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1. Connect your profiles. Does your Twitter page have your website listed in the bio? Does your Facebook link to your blog? Does your blog have links to all your social media profiles clearly listed? Make it easy for people to connect with you on the platform of their choice, and make sure all platforms can clearly direct people to your blog. Voila! Easy traffic.

2. Set up a newsletter subscription. You might entice readers with a free PDF if they sign up for your email list, or you might offer a special 3-part course to help them learn more about the services you offer. You also might offer a coupon. Whatever you do, set up some kind of reward and get people to sign up for a subscription via newsletter. Of course, this means you’ll have to occasionally send out updates, but people who are willing to give you their email address are much more likely to return in the future and purchase your products, so it isn’t the same as blasting them unwarranted.

3. Offer RSS feed subscriptions or simple blog subscriptions. Not everyone wants to sign up for a newsletter. But many people will sign up to read new updates. So enable the widgets on WordPress for people to easily subscribe to your blog via email or RSS feed–if you don’t use WordPress, there are also options to do this in Blogger, as well as through your own website. (You’ll have to speak to your developer about this.)

4. Send out notifications of your updates on social media. So not only do you have to make sure your profiles connect to each other and that people can easily subscribe to your blog and social media, but you also have to make sure that you send out updates automatically about your brand new post. You can set it up in WordPress to publicize to your connected accounts as soon as a post goes live (and you can do so in Blogger as well).

5. Schedule posts ahead of time. Have a hectic life with not a lot of extra time to blog? Well, why not try scheduling posts ahead of time? If you have one day that you can dedicate to writing the next month’s posts, do it. Then schedule them to go live whenever you want. Your posts will go out reliably when you need them to, and you can focus on doing other things until you’re ready to write again.

6. Include links to your newsletter in your sidebars/widget areas. When you set up your blog, make sure sidebars, menus, and widget areas are full of great information–like how to connect with you on social media and how to sign up for your newsletter. Doing this is a great way to make sure that you stay in contact with your fans who really want to hear from you–they gave you their email, after all, so they’ll be eager to read what you send them!

7. Install Sniply and watch your clickthrough traffic grow. If you haven’t heard of Sniply, you’ll definitely want to check it out. How does it work? You can set it up so that, when a visitor clicks a link you provide (be it on your site or through social media), they’ll not only see the article you’re linking to, but they’ll also see a little bubble in the corner of their screen. This bubble includes a space to include a catchy, customizable call to action, as well as a button that links back to your blog.

So how is this beneficial to you? Well, when you link to a site other than your own (say, a blog you enjoy linking to), people who follow that link will see an opportunity to be led back to your site whenever they’re ready. So you’re promoting your work while promoting the work of others simultaneously. Pretty cool, huh?

8. Offer to do guest posts for other blogs in your niche. If you enjoy blogging (and presumably, you do!), you might want to branch out and offer your services to other bloggers. Now, this might seem counterproductive–when do you have the time to write for other sites, after all?–but it’s not. You can build relationships with other bloggers, who will then promote your work alongside their own. You can also earn links to your site by including them in your byline. All in all, guest blogging is an easy way to earn links and get clicks to your site.

9. Post comments on other blogs. If you’re not feeling up to offering a guest post, another great way to get involved with other blogs is to leave friendly comments on recent posts. Usually you’ll have to set up a profile to do so, which allows you to have a branded profile image as well as a link to your own site in one convenient spot. People can then visit you by following the links in your profile!

10. Join Google+ communities and offer blog posts where applicable. Same goes for Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, and Twitter tribes. By joining communities or special groups, you can find like-minded people who are likely to be interested in your products and services. They might even share your updates for you. Social media doesn’t have to be ultra-competitive–in fact, it can really be beneficial to make friends with those you’d normally consider your competitors.

11. Install an SEO plug-in if you use WordPress. Updating your posts to be within the guidelines and recommendations of the plugin will help you get a better chance of ranking in Google/Bing/Yahoo. The best part is that you don’t have to know anything about coding or analytics–you just have to be able to fill in boxes as the plug-in suggests. The plug-ins can be free (or you can pay if you’d like more options) and they’re quick and easy to install.

12. Use CoPromote, dlvr.it, or IFTTT formulas to disperse your posts automatically and at different times. Staggering updates is key. If you dump your links everywhere all at once, you don’t reach the widest audience. For example, you might try updating Twitter first, followed by Facebook at the most heavily-trafficked times. Do what fits best with your schedule.

13. Don’t forget to check statistics. Finding that one post is performing better than the others? Don’t be afraid to reshare it. As long as you’re not spamming the same link over and over, you should be fine! And no matter what, always remember to reshare posts again a few months down the road. You’re always gaining new fans and followers–give them a chance to read your best work, too!

14. Put a link to your blog in your email signature. Make sure you’re always just a click away. You can also include links to your social media profiles or include your cell or office number. This way, whenever you send an email to a customer, they’ll have an easy way of reaching you. And if you’re sending out those guest blogging requests, it’s also a great way to encourage prospective blogging partners to visit your social media profiles, too!

15. Install a mobile-responsive theme! Now that Google is including mobile-friendliness in its ranking algorithm, you’ll need to make sure your blog can be read by mobile devices. Install a theme that’s responsive (aka mobile-friendly) and you won’t have to worry about being pushed off the top page for mobile searches. That should help with blog traffic!

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to discover how we can help you be seen online.

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5 Ways to Reach More Fans on Facebook

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Are your Facebook marketing strategies falling a little flat? Have you noticed that your pictures and quotes don’t seem to be reaching quite as many people as they used to? If so, you might want to re-evaluate your Facebook marketing strategy… and we’re here to give you a few helpful tips that yuo can start implementing right away.

Facebook is notorious for changing its algorithms, and people often don’t understand exactly why or how it’s changed–all they know is they’re seeing less engagement and fewer numbers for people reached. It’s frustrating and it’s time-consuming to try to alter your strategies, especially when you always seem to be a step behind because you’re not a professional marketer–you’re a small business owner, and you’re busy.

But if there’s one thing marketers can tell you, it’s that times change fast. Especially when it comes to social media. So how can you boost your engagement and reach more fans on Facebook right now? We have a few suggestions for you.

Video

Up until fairly recently, the tried-and-true way to reach the most people on Facebook was to post a picture and a link. You may have noticed, however, that this seems to have changed. In fact, photos are now one of the least effective ways to make sure fans see your content.

So what do you do instead? Well, video reaches more people than any other kind of post–but not just any video. The format has to be native, meaning you must actually upload the video to Facebook. Why is this? More than likely, Facebook is trying to keep you sharing videos using Facebook–not some other site. So even if you have a YouTube channel, it’s worth it to upload the videos separately to Facebook to get the most eyes on your content.

Quotes with photos

Although photos don’t have the reach they used to, people love sharing inspiring and motivating quotes. By placing the quote on an eye-catching image, you make it far more likely that someone will press “share”. So while the initial post might not reach as many people as, say, a video, if you get more engagement, you’ll get more shares and a bigger reach in the end.

Another thing about photos is that they have the potential to live on for quite some time. Because of the way the Facebook algorithm works, someone might not see your post right away, but it could pop up in their feed the next day. When they share it then, you’ll notice a spike in shares as their friends share it, and so on.

Don’t forget your CTA button

If you haven’t noticed the call-to-action button on Facebook yet, then you definitely need to take the time to check it out. It’s a new feature, but it’s a powerful one: By going into your settings, you can choose a call to action from a pre-set list (for example, “Shop Now”, “Learn More”, “Sign Up”, etc.) and direct people to the URL of your choice. Do you want to send them to a sales page? A landing page where they can sign up for a newsletter or free ebook? You can do any of that using this button.

The best part is that it appears right on your header image–it’s not hidden in some dark corner of your profile. After you have it set up, you can track clicks and change the CTA whenever you like. That way, if you find that it’s not working quite the way you had expected it to, all you have to do is change things around with a few clicks and you’re done.

Oh, and did we mention this is free? Because it is. There’s no reason NOT to use it.

Get used to reading negative feedback

It hurts us all. No one wants to go through their hard work and read bad things about themselves. Whether it’s your high school paper that your English teacher tore apart or your brand new website that cost you a pretty penny to develop, you’re going to get negative feedback on your projects, and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it.

Now, that isn’t to say that every random complaint needs to be listened to or taken into consideration when you are planning your improvements. Some people just enjoy complaining about things no matter what. But if you notice some common themes–for example, people consistently unliking your Facebook page when you post irrelevant photos, or negative feedback on overly “salesy” posts–then you probably want to take those complaints into legitimate consideration as you plan your social media strategy.

When you listen to your fans like this, you not only give your audience what they really want, but you also grow as a businessperson. Constructive criticism might be hard to take, but if you can thicken your skin, you’re going to go a long way.

Don’t be afraid to change things up

If your marketing efforts are still falling flat, then don’t be afraid to change things up a bit! You can always do split A/B testing to see which campaigns perform better and adjust accordingly. Look at successful people in your industry and see how they garner engagement. There’s no rulebook here and there is no one magic trick that will work for everybody. But you’ll never know what works for you unless you try. So get creative, think outside the box, and change things up a bit until you come up with something that really makes your fans excited to interact with your business.

Are there any other tricks or tips that you use to get your fans more engaged on Facebook? If so, let us know in the comments!

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to discover how we can help you be seen online.

Facebook to Introduce 360 Degree Videos

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This Wednesday, Facebook announced that its News Feed will begin to support 36o-degree videos: you’ll be able to move your view up, down, left, and right to take a peek at your surroundings from all different directions. Currently, they are testing the technology, and they describe it as a “new kind of online video” that will allow viewers to move through it not unlike they way they would a video game.

Putting the Oculus Rift Technology to Use

Last year, Facebook acquired the creator of the Oculus Rift–a headset that was originally built for virtual reality (VR) games. Microsoft and Google have tinkered with this technology by building prototypes of their own: Microsoft with a HoloLens headset, and of course the most popular of the bunch, Google Glass eyewear (which hasn’t died yet, contrary to what people think).

Clearly, Facebook understands that the future of the internet and user experience will rely heavily on video, as well as virtual reality. Technologies will integrate with our everyday activities and “augment”, or enhance, the way we interact with technology and apply it to our lives.

An explosive new technology

Facebook has said that more than 1.3 billion people that utilize its platform view more than 3 billion videos every day. And that’s just on its platform–that doesn’t take into account videos watched on YouTube, Vimeo, Google, or any other platforms. Nope. That’s just. Facebook.

So Facebook hopes to introduce its users to using this kind of VR video. And this week during the keynote address at the company’s annual developer conference held in San Francisco, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the company is already looking into asking third-party publishers to create their own videos to share via Facebook.

How the videos will work

Spherical cameras will capture video in 360 degrees–think of it sort of like Google’s “street view” cameras. You’ll be able to virtually locate a point on a map and look around you by dragging your mouse around, or if you have a touchscreen, you can also do this by moving your finger across the screen.

Zuckerberg stressed how much like virtual reality this really was: “You’re going to be able to put on your headset and feel like you’re really there,” he said.

Why You Need to Be Using Social Media for Customer Service

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The way you choose to interact with your customers online can really set the tone for your business. If you’re responsive, engaging, and present a positive image for your company, people are more likely to interact with you and spread the word.

On the other hand, if you’re quick to pick fights with customers who complain or you’re not willing to listen to constructive criticism, you might find yourself in hot water faster than you ever thought possible–social media lets information travel far faster than word of mouth alone, and the effects last a long time. It’s really difficult to clean up a tarnished image in the digital age!

This is why your social media platforms need to be regularly maintained and easily accessible to your customers. Let them feel comfortable reaching out to you via social media. When you do communicate with your customers, be polite and understanding. Providing great customer service should be your #1 priority on social media–just as it should be elsewhere.

Companies that rock customer service via social media: JetBlue and Seamless

If you need a little bit of guidance in getting started, check out the customer service that JetBlue provides over Twitter. They engage with their customers in a timely and positive manner. And the don’t just interact with the customers who are happy–instead, they take the time to find the people who are talking about their company negatively, and they do their best to remedy the situation. That’s going above and beyond for their customers, and it has netted the airline a great reputation for customer service.

Seamless, on the other hand, takes a slightly different approach: They’re available 24 hours a day to help you with any troubles you might have, from a late order to a technical glitch on their website. No matter what problem you’re facing, you can tweet Seamless and they’ll get someone to help you ASAP.

How can you emulate JetBlue’s practice as a small business?

First monitor social media channels for mention of your brand’s name. When you see people talking about you, make sure you engage with them: If they’re saying something positive, retweet them or “like” their post. Leave an encouraging comment thanking them for taking the time to share their thoughts. If they’re saying something negative, put on your best happy face and try to find out why they’re disappointed. If you can remedy the situation, others will see that you care–and they’ll be more likely to remember you positively!

How can you emulate Seamless’s approach as a small business?

Obviously most small businesses can’t have someone there to help customers 24 hours a day. But what you can do is make sure that a dedicated team has access to the social media accounts. Does your webmaster run the technical side of things while you man the helm? Make sure he or she can deliver timely news to you about any website errors or downtime; or, alternatively, allow him or her to have access to the accounts to let customers and fans know for you. Make sure you respond to questions as soon as you have the chance, and your customers will thank you for it. (Customers expect a fairly fast response time–the average Twitter response time is 5.1 hours, with 10% of companies answering within an hour, and 93% of companies answering within 48 hours.)

Run a medium-sized company? Take cues from Nike and Blizzard Entertainment.

If you get fairly high traffic on your company website or on your social media pages, you might want to try creating a separate handle for your customer service. You can see how Nike does it here–look at the number of tweets that have come from that account! However, with a team dedicated to providing customer service managing this account, you can bet that anyone who needs help can get it faster than if they were to call. It’s also a great option for your customers who can’t speak and/or hear–there are TTY phones that Deaf and hard-of-hearing customers can use, but many would prefer to bypass that and use social media.

Blizzard Entertainment also takes this approach. Whenever servers are down, a website glitch pops up, or a game is getting a new patch, @BlizzardCS tweets about it. Players can also tweet at this account to report bugs or to let the team know of server issues. people have even reported in-game harassment here. By providing an account separate from their main game accounts, they’ve created a dedicated space to better assist customers without any game promotions or advertisements between tweets.

How can you make a dedicated customer service account work for you?

If you have the budget and resources to pull this off, go ahead and make a separate account. Hire a dedicated team to manage the account, and make sure they’re trained with customer service and dispute management. Make sure that they understand your company’s voice and your brand image. Finally, put a fail-safe in place: Allow them to direct the customers to a phone or a separate email if the situation is too complicated to deal with via text.

Tips for Excelling at Customer Service via Social Media

  • Have a priority list. Respond to things like technical issues or direct complaints first, and general comments (complaints or praise) last.
  • Set a goal for a response time–and track your success rate.
  • Are there questions you get more often than others? If so, you might want to consider an FAQ page on your website or putting together a guide covering the basics of your products and services.
  • Consider where your customers are. Most of our examples are from Twitter, but if most of your customers are on Facebook, implement your customer service strategy there.
  • Know when to take your issues away from social media. As mentioned above, there always needs to be a fail-safe. Not all customers can be appeased via social media. Make sure there’s a way for them to contact you with the method they prefer.
  • Monitor conversations about your brand and try to reply and remedy any complaints, even if they’re not directly tweeted/messaged to you.
  • Finally, keep your cool under all circumstances. Never, EVER respond when you’re angry. Step away from the computer if you’re about to tweet something angry. Even if this slows down your response time, it’s better to reply when you’re able to do so professionally–in a way that won’t damage your brand.

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

5 Social Media Strategies to Break Through the Noise

It’s not easy trying to get your voice heard these days. You take to social media to amplify your reach. You write blog posts to entice your audience to come back for more. It seems like no matter what you do, there’s always something else you could be doing, and you only have so much time in your day.

So what if you could make your social media posts more effective without spending any extra time on them? What if you simply changed up your strategy a bit to allow room for some experimentation?

We’re betting that if you do this, you’ll be able to improve your engagement and get your voice heard.

So where do you start?

Regular Content Scheduling

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Whether you use something like Evernote or you still schedule by hand, it’s important to keep track of your goals!

First, if you aren’t already, make a regular schedule to update your social media. Whether you want to update a few times a week or multiple times a day, it’s important to remember that consistency is key. As you’re making your schedule, ask yourself:

  • Is this realistic? Will I be able to stick to this schedule?
  • Do I need help coming up with ideas or content? If so, can I afford to hire some help?
  • Will I be able to interact with customers or fans who respond to my posts? Do I need assistance with this?
  • In the event of a negative response to one of my posts, do I know how to handle it? Can I keep my cool?

If you think that you might need some help, set aside some money to do so. If you aren’t sure of how to respond to negative comments, you might want to look into an assistant who can do that for you. All in all, your schedule must be realistic, and if you find that you need some assistance, budget that into your social media strategy.

Some apps to help you keep your schedule in order:

Apps to Help You Automate

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Yep, automation means robots from the ’60s will do your work for you.

Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed with scheduling updates? Well, what if we told you that you don’t have to do every update manually? It’s true! There are plenty of applications on the market to help you get your posts out there.

Making your voice heard is already difficult. Being able to work on other projects while your social media is being managed is a great way to keep productive and still build your social media following–and it makes things a bit easier on the schedule (and budget) too.

Check out these resources to help automate your social media posts:

These vary in budget and in platform support–that is, some of the apps support only certain platforms, while others might support more. You’ll have to do research to see what works for you. But the best part of getting to know one of these automation apps is that once you start using them, you can reach your audience at the time of your choice. Do you want to schedule updates at 3 am to reach an overseas audience? You can do that. Do you want to have an update go out every morning at 10:00? You can do that, too. This is essential in expanding the reach of your posts. And, bonus–it’ll help you stick to that schedule mentioned above!

Studying Competition

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Studying your competition can be just as exhausting as cramming for an exam. But hey, it gets results.

How do you study your competition in sports? You research the team. You find out who the strong players are; you discover the weaknesses and exploit them. So it makes sense then, that when you’re marketing, you have a strategy in place so that you can outpace your competition.

For example, on Twitter, you can make a private list and add your competition to it. This way, they don’t know that you’re watching them, and you can see all their tweets in a special place so that unwanted tweets don’t clutter your screen. Pay special attention to what they tweet about that works so well. Which tweets get the most RTs? Which are not as successful?

On Facebook, try taking a peek at your competitors’ profiles and take note of the number of “likes” and “shares” on their posts. Do people seem to respond well? Which have positive comments and interactions? Which are ignored? Are there any that are not received well at all? These sorts of things are important.

Now, you’re not going to be able to replicate your competition’s results, obviously. But by doing just a bit of studying, you can spot trends that are easy to follow, and you can create that experience for your followers. You can also see what doesn’t work–specific topics, language, and photos simply do not do well on social media. Identify these things and steer clear of using them in your strategy!

Interacting with Industry Leaders

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Following reputable sources in your industry isn’t enough. You have to engage with them!

This ties in with the above tip. Once you’ve identified your competition, you’re going to notice that certain companies are experiencing a lot more success than others. These are the people you want to interact with.

Now, it might sound counter-intuitive, but social media is a different game than your typical smear campaigns of the past. Connecting with industry leaders is a great way to get your voice heard. For example, imagine your company is selling personalized clothing for babies. You might want to find influential blogs dealing with parenthood, kids’ fashion, or even money-saving blogs for parents. Offer a free product in exchange for an honest review. Or you could offer to do a guest post informing the blog’s audience of the benefits of products like yours. You won’t be able to get your foot in the door unless you network with experts, so make sure you get to know people before asking for favors. If you do it right, you’ll get a lot of free press!

Honing In On Your Audience

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Finding your target audience is important. If you’re not getting results, maybe you need to reexamine your target demographic.

If you’ve tried all the above things and you’re still drowning in all the marketing noise, you might want to reexamine your audience.

Maybe you’re approaching things too broadly. For example, are you targeting “mothers” or “mothers who want to save money while working from home”? Are you targeting “pet owners” or “pet owners who want to feed their pets environmentally-friendly foods”? You can see the difference. By trying to appeal to too broad an audience, you might be shouting into a crowd, and no one is really hearing your voice. If you figure out which segment you really appeal to, you grab your audience’s attention more easily.

Alternatively, maybe you’re simply appealing to the wrong audience altogether. Maybe you originally started off blogging about personalized baby clothes, but now you’ve moved into tips on dressing your kids for less. Perhaps you need to shift your focus and rebrand your blog so that people know what you’re all about in the here and now–not what you were about two years ago.

 

So there you have it! These social media strategies should help you break through the noise out there. And we understand–there is a lot of it. As the internet becomes more sophisticated and more people bring their brands online, you’re only going to have more competition. By staying up-to-date and being willing to try new things, you can grow your audience and bring more customers to the table.

Good luck and happy marketing!

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

10 Ways to Rock Your Small Business Blog

1. Put social media connections in a sidebar.

Have you ever visited a blog with a sidebar—you know, the thing that loads on either the left or right hand side of the screen and usually contains links or advertisements?

Well, if you have, you probably noticed that those sidebars usually contain information about pertinent things: Other blogs, affiliate links, popular articles, and of course, social media profiles.

Make it easy for your customers and clients to connect with you across all your social media platforms by installing a sidebar on your blog. For WordPress, most themes support it. For Blogger, it’s built right in. Make good use of that real estate!

2. Offer helpful advice.

Don’t just try to sell your readers your services. No one likes a hard sales pitch, and no one wants to slog through an entire post just to see that you’re selling them something.

Instead, why don’t you offer advice to your readers? For example, if you sell and install gutters, you could put together a post detailing the proper care of gutters for all seasons. Or you could walk customers through the different kinds of gutters and which ones work best with different kinds of homes.

By offering advice, you won’t come off as pushy or desperate. You can add a soft pitch to your posts by saying that you’re available to help with any problems the reader might be having, and leave your contact information. Make sure you also have your contact information listed on the rest of your site, too–readers should be able to quickly find what they need no matter where they are.

3. Link to your own articles.

Did you know that linking to your own articles can help send more positive ranking signals to Google? If you’ve written a number of posts already, then you’ll have plenty of relevant information om your site that you can refer your readers to. Going back to our example, the gutter supplier, you might have written one post about the importance of cleaning your gutters before the snow falls, and you might have written another about maintaining your gutters throughout the winter. You could definitely find space in one article to link to the other, and vice versa. This will keep visitors on your site longer, too!

4. Include good images—not just generic stock photos.

Have you ever read a blog where the photos are just generic, boring stock images? Does it help you remember that site or feel like it really connects with you?

Probably not. The point of including images in your posts is to enhance the reader’s experience—to break up text and to create a visual guide for the content they’re taking in. If you just include boring, run-of-the-mill stock pictures, it’s not going to be very attention-grabbing. So get out there and find exciting photos to include, or, if you’re artistic (or if you employ an artistic and willing employee), you might even want to create your own one-of-a-kind graphics!

5. Get competitive.

Yes, that’s right: Contests. If you put up a blog post asking people to participate in a contest, your readers will be happy to comment and share. You can then cross-post it to social media accounts and ask your fans to share there, too. Contests can be simple to design—like asking people to caption a photo, for example—or they can be a bit more complex, such as asking people to submit a creation of their own (photo, writing, design, etc).

Then, as a reward, you’ll want to give away a prize like a coupon, “buy one get one free”, a free estimate for your services, or gift cards to your store. Whatever you think is a good incentive for your company!

6. Want feedback? Set up a poll.

If you want to get some feedback about the quality of your services, the appearance of your website, or the appeal of the sale you’re currently running, a great way to do so is to set up a poll. You can get plug-ins on WordPress to do this easily. The beauty of a poll vs asking for direct feedback is that people are much more likely to be honest when the results are anonymous. So you’ll probably have more participants, and you’ll more than likely end up with more accurate responses!

7. Make sure you have a sitemap.

If you haven’t already, you should make sure that your blog contains a clear sitemap for Google to crawl. Basically, what this means is that Google robots can find their way around your page more easily, making it more likely that your page will rank.

Every once in a while, it’s nice to submit a new sitemap to Google, especially if you’ve done a lot of rearranging on your site, or if you produce content regularly (which you should be doing!)

If you need help doing this, here’s a handy guide.

8. Update your blog frequently—even with just some quick news.

Sometimes it’s difficult coming up with regular blog post ideas. Whether the creative juice isn’t flowing or you’re just plain not interested in writing, it can be difficult to consistently come up with great blog posts for your readers. And that’s okay. All of us suffer from writer’s block from time to time, and there’s really no way around it. You just have to come up with something–anything–that you can talk about to keep the attention of your readers. You could even post a little “hello” and update everyone on your plan to unveil a new product. Whatever works!

Oh, and if you’re really struggling to come up with topics, we have an article to help you brainstorm some killer blog post ideas right here.

9. Show off your latest work.

Do you have a photo gallery that hasn’t been updated in the last year and a half? Well, it’s probably time to change that. Go in and add photos of things you’re proud of–if you’re a roofer, for example, ask customers to share photos of the work that you did. You can then put it up in a gallery for your visitors to browse. If you’re a person who provides artistic services (like web design or photography), this is a must-have. Don’t be shy–you should be proud of your hard work!

10. Reach out to others in your industry.

If you’re serious about marketing your business, a great way to get more eyes on your small business blog is to reach out to industry professionals and ask for their opinions. Ask them to share tips and tricks. Share their articles with your readers. Try doing an interview, or ask someone if you can do a guest post on their blog. There are a number of ways you can network, and just as networking in person, networking online takes effort and finesse. When you hobnob with some of the well-known names… well, you’ve just bought yourself more traffic and more credibility.

Good luck with your small business blogging endeavors!

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

7 Signs You’re Doing Social Media Wrong


Not getting the results you want on social media? Feeling frustrated because your time and efforts are going to waste? We’re going to be real with you here–you’re probably doing something that’s making people want to turn away from you.

But not to fret! You can fix it. Read on and see if you fall into any of these 7 categories. If you do… well, read to the end and make sure you know how you’re going to go about finding a solution to your problems. 🙂

1. You can’t seem to find any new friends

Whether you’ve been trying to attract new friends or you’re just letting people come to you as they please, your followers/fans lists are looking pretty sparse. You wonder why. You update, you have pictures of your business. You’re on the web like you’re supposed to be, so why aren’t people coming to you?

The answer is that social media requires you to be–shocker–social. If you’re taking the Field of Dreams approach (“If you build it, they will come!”), you might find that you’re not getting the results you want. If you can’t seem to find any new friends, then that’s because you’re not putting yourself out there. Be the first to introduce yourself. Interact with other businesses and potential clients. When you act social, then you will in turn make friends and grow your following. Who’d have thought?

2. Your fans and followers aren’t interacting with you

Okay, so let’s say you’ve reached out and found friends, fans, followers–the whole gang. But you don’t seem to get any real reactions. You tweet out updates, but nobody retweets them. You post articles on Facebook, but it seems like everyone has found other things to read. What gives?

Sometimes people are following you, but your voice is being drowned out by all the other noise, so they don’t get to see everything you post. Try posting a link more than once (do not confuse this with spamming–if you spam your followers, you can bet you’ll lose friends faster than you ever thought possible) or changing up the hashtags. If you cite certain articles or authors in your posts, why not tag them when you send out your update?

Another reason your followers might not be interacting with you is because they don’t have much to say about what you’ve posted. Think about it–how many times have you read an article and enjoyed it, but didn’t comment? Probably many. So why not try asking a question or finding a way for your followers to really get involved with your content? Ask them which product they prefer and why, or get their feedback on some new, exciting feature you’re about to unveil.

3. The only interest you ever drum up is related to controversy

Tired of talking to yourself all the time, you decided you were going to post on one of the more controversial topics–religion or politics. You said something you probably wouldn’t have said if you weren’t so agitated, and now the only interaction you’re getting is when people start yelling at you.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a big business or a small one–you should stick to professional topics. That doesn’t mean that you have to be stiff and humorless about everything, but no one needs to know your opinion on hot-button topics. It’s not professional and it’s not going to help you make any friends.

4. The last time you logged in was in 2014

If you sparsely update your accounts, you’re never going to get anywhere on social media. It’s a hard pill to swallow for some–between time and money, it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be enough of either to effectively manage social media.

But there are ways around this. We’ve written posts on automating updates, using tools to make your marketing strategy more effective, and improving your social media strategy without spending lots of money.

Listen, the only way you can build a following online is by being online. Whether you update twice a week or twice a day, it’s of the utmost importance that you find a schedule you can stick to and work on building trust with your followers. Then you’ll see that you’re finding new friends and fans on a regular basis!

5. All you do is advertise yourself

Look through your update history. If everything comes off as an aggressive sales pitch, it’s time to dial your advertising back a notch.

When you’re on social media, you are there to learn, relax, browse, shop… well, you could be there for a number of things, really. But chances are that you completely ignore any post that comes across as too aggressive, even under ideal circumstances. If your friends are posting too obnoxiously, you roll your eyes. If a business is trying too hard to get you to click on something, you’re almost repelled by it. So why would you want to do the same to your customers?

Look for ways to support your friends. “Like” their statuses or retweet them. Comment on the updates they share. In return, they’ll do the same to you, and you’ll have a much nicer atmosphere to enjoy. If you want, try to keep in mind the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time you’re sharing interesting, relevant articles or supporting community members; 20% of the time you’re advertising your services and promoting your work.

6. You delete all negative feedback–or freak out about it

If someone leaves a negative comment on your Facebook page, what do you do?

After an initial panic, you might do one of a few things: Respond to it nicely and professionally, flame the person in your response, ignore it, or delete it.

If you delete negative feedback, you’re just saying that you refuse to have a discussion with your customers, no matter how important they think the matter is. Did something go wrong with a product and they’re feeling frustrated about it? You’re saying that you really don’t care if you just delete the comment and never respond. How would you feel if a business did that to you? Probably not great, right?

On the other hand, it’s hard not to take it personally. So you’ll see some business owners get really nasty with customers who are leaving negative feedback on their social media pages. Don’t do this. If you feel upset, read this article. We’ve got some tips to help you respond to negative comments without blowing your top.

7. You don’t or won’t respond to customers

This sort of goes hand-in-hand with the above, but it goes for all situations: Maybe you just don’t respond to customers, whether they leave good or bad comments.

This isn’t going to help you win any friends, either.

Customers are following you because they want to hear what you have to say. And when they ask a question, they’d like an answer. If you don’t give that to them, they’re going to feel as if they’re talking to a wall. If you were in school and listening to a lecture, you might have a question. If the speaker or teacher completely blew you off and kept talking over you as if you weren’t even there, how would you feel? Probably like never coming back to that class again.

When someone reaches out to you, answer their questions. If they have something bad to say, suck it up and respond in a professional way. Doing this will put you ahead of those companies who neglect their customers online or who refuse to deal with any negative feedback at all. And that means a lot to your online friends, fans, followers, customers… whatever you want to call them.

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

How to De-Clutter Your Blog

1. Choose a great theme or hire a developer to create one.

If you’re just using a basic theme, you might want to branch out into something different. WordPress provides a number of clean, sleek themes that will make any blog look 100 times more professional. You can do a live preview of a theme before you activate it to see if it fits your style. If you’re not falling in love with any of the free templates, you can always purchase one. While it’s not always a blogger’s top choice to pay for a theme, you can look at it this way: By purchasing a professional theme for $40 or so, you’re still paying way less than you would for a developer to completely redo your site.

If you’re not using WordPress, you might want to try this article. It features over 200 of the best free responsive themes for Blogger!

And finally, if you’re not keen on using any premade themes, hire a developer! You can find a lot of freelance workers on sites like elance.com or odesk.com.

2. Keep your tags clean and organized.

When you tag your posts, do you use any kind of system? Are there tags in your cloud that you rarely use? If you’re a blogger who has been working for a while, chances are that you’ve come up with quite a few colorful tags that you’ve used to categorize your posts. But honestly, it pays to go through and clean them up every once in a while. Try to keep common themes together–for example, graphic design, design freebies, design inspiration. If you have some random tags about a trip you took or something, go ahead and delete those. That way you keep everything neat and tidy.

3. Organize sidebars and advertisements.

If you’re a prolific blogger, you might find that your sidebars have become out of date. That’s normal, so don’t beat yourself up–but you should also clean it up for the sake of future visitors. Evaluate add-ons or advertisements and see if they still add value and are relevant. If not, get rid of them. It’s not only useless for your blogging business, but it’s also irritating for your visitors. If they take the time to read your blog, they trust your input. And when they click on broken links or advertisements that aren’t any good, they lose trust in your brand. Don’t let that happen!

4. Make sure your images are properly sized and aligned.

Did you know that your blog’s theme is designed to work with images of specific sizes? If you didn’t, now would be a good time to explore your theme’s settings and discover how your images will be most effectively displayed. Your blog theme should be responsive–that is, work on mobile devices such as phones and tablets, as well as desktops and laptops. So see which dimensions are recommended (you should be able to find information in your blog’s theme) and test it out on different screens to make sure they display properly across all devices.

5. Delete or fix old links.

There is nothing worse than getting really into reading a blog and being so excited to click through posts–only to find out that half of those links are dead. Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to go through and make sure all of your links are up to date. Sites close down. You may have moved your site and forgotten to change some of the old links. It’s okay, it happens to everyone. But make this a part of your regular blog maintenance schedule and you’ll be far less likely to receive a lot of complaints about it.

The good news is that WordPress users can find plug-ins that do this for them! Makes it a lot easier, doesn’t it?

6. Get rid of old plug-ins.

Do you have a lot of plug-ins installed that you don’t use? Are you cluttering up your sidebars with things that you could put elsewhere? Go through and get rid of them! Not only does this help increase your page load time (and studies show that a fast page load time is very important to retaining visitors), but it also makes it easier for visitors to find the links that truly matter. Check out this cool guide to get your WordPress database cleaned up efficiently.

7. Say buh-bye to old posts that offer irrelevant information.

Because we’re SEO people, we always do new posts when Google releases an update. But, as you probably already know, Google releases new updates preeeeetty often. So whenever a newer one comes out, our old posts become irrelevant. That means it’s time to take them out of scheduled post updates (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) No one wants to follow a link on social media, only to be led to something that is a complete waste of time.

If you like, you can also delete the posts from your blog altogether. For example, if your old post ends up ranking and people are getting incorrect information, you’re going to be dealing with some unhappy readers. To solve that dilemma, just unpublish the post or delete it.

Otherwise, another option could be to open up that article and insert a link to your new post. Now readers know where to go for the most accurate and up-to-date information!

8. Could you be using different fonts?

Take a good look at your blog. Do your eyes have any trouble adjusting to anything? Are your colors too bright against the background–or are they too close in hue and difficult to make out? The charts at Colorcombos.com can help you decide on an aesthetically-pleasing palette.

What about font size? Are your headers overwhelmingly large? Can you easily read the print in the body of your articles? If not, be sure to test out the font sizes on a few different screens. Keep in mind that some readers might have vision issues, so don’t make your fonts too small.

Finally, evaluate the font type. Do you have font styles that complement one another? Serifs pair well with san-serifs. Likewise, bold fonts pair well with scripts. Try I Font You for great combos!

9. Make sure your contact and about info is up-to-date.

When was the last time you updated your contact page? Has your email changed? Are you still available at the same phone number, address, or social media accounts? Double check to make sure that every bit of your contact info is correct so that your readers can contact you via the channel of their preference.

On your about page, make sure that your bio is up to date. Maybe you’ve had some important personal events happen over the last couple of years. Maybe you’ve changed jobs and have more experience to add to your bio. Make sure that your about page reflects just how awesome you are!

10. Connect social media accounts and get rid of old accounts that you no longer update.

Does your blog have the option to connect with you via social media? Whether you place widgets in the sidebars or design a floating bar with links to your social media profiles, you should always make it perfectly clear to your visitors that you’re on social media and you’re inviting them to connect with you.

If you’ve stopped using a social media network, delete that connection from your blog. It’s annoying to follow an author on Twitter, only to find out that they never tweet anymore!

Can you think of any other great tips for de-cluttering your blog? Let us know in the comments!

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

6 Simple Ways to Promote Your Blog

1. StumbleUpon

A lot of people think of StumbleUpon as being a social media network that sort of disappeared into the depths of the internet several years ago. But it’s actually still a really great way to promote your work. There are sponsored pages if you’d like to pay for advertising, but even if you just list your articles under relevant categories, you’ll see traffic begin to trickle in.

Some good StumbleUpon tips to remember:

  • Don’t just add your things. StumbleUpon is a social media network–so add friends and “like” their sites too!
  • Choose good tags when you add a site. The more specific you get, the better.
  • Ask your network of peers to “like” your site. You can do the same to theirs.
  • Make sure you have an opt-in area clearly visible to Stumblers–i.e., somewhere on the front page. Often, they’ll leave as fast as they came, but if they’re interested in hearing more from you, they might opt-in to your newsletter.

2. Reddit

Reddit can be a real hit or miss. Post at the wrong time, and your content will be lost to the abyss very quickly. Post at the right time, and you could see a major influx of traffic. But there are some rules that apply here that you won’t want to break:

The way it works is by posting to a page called a subreddit. (Take a look at the SEO subreddit here for an example.) Users can then “upvote” or “downvote” posts on the subreddit page. It makes sense then, that in order to get to the top of the list, you have to get a steady flow of “upvotes”–otherwise your post will be buried by other submissions. And, as it turns out, Redditors are a little bit pickier with the content they choose to upvote: your post must be very well-written, and it must contribute valuable information to the subreddit’s topic of discussion. Furthermore, no one wants to upvote a spammer. So to make sure that you get the most out of Reddit, be sure to:

  • Respond to comments on your posts so that readers know you’re invested
  • Cross-post to different subreddits. However, you should be sure that you choose different categories. If you post to two similar subreddits in the same day, you might be perceived as a spammer. (I.e., posting an SEO article to an SEO subreddit as well as an internet marketing subreddit (good) vs posting to SEO and SEO tips (too similar).
  • Post entire links. Some platforms almost require shortened links (like Twitter, for example), but Redditors do not want to be clicking text links and have malware installed on their computers. Make sure your links are clear and easy to read.
  • Help out fellow Redditors by upvoting for relevant content.

3. Pinterest

Pinterest is a visual social media platform that allows users to share “pins”–or pictures with text descriptions and links. Pinterest users curate pins into themed “boards”. So how does this help you promote your blog?

Well, Pinterest is actually quite widely used. And its users are invested, often creating boards with thousands of pins on them.

By adding an easy-to-spot “Pin It” button to images on your blog, you’ll be able to more easily facilitate sharing on Pinterest. In order to achieve pin-worthy pictures, you can use tools like Canva.com to make gorgeous (and free!) images to appeal to your audience. Keep in mind that Pinterest is largely visual–unlike Reddit, pinners enjoy the aesthetic look of their boards, so you can’t just post a link and hope for the best.

You can also use a widget to drive traffic. Head over to your profile on Pinterest.com and click the little gear icon, then navigate to “Create a Widget”–and voila! Pinterest feeds you the code. You put it on your blog and it allows people to see your boards, then click through to browse more closely.

Some tips go get the most out of your pins:

  • Make sure that your descriptions are clear and concise. Add hashtags if you like.
  • Double check to make sure your links are all good. No one wants to follow someone who mindlessly posts spammy links.
  • Leave comments on pins you particularly love.
  • Every once in a while, re-pin your old content to make sure it is seen by more pinners.

4. Interlink on your own blog

As time goes on and our blogs grow larger, we build up a great arsenal of content. But after six months, eight months, a year… well, you aren’t making use of a lot of that content, because it gets buried under all the fresh stuff. A great way to lead your readers to your other posts is to 1) insert links to older articles in your new content, and 2) to go back to older articles and insert relevant links to fresh content.

For example, do you have an old social media article that would help corroborate your data in a newer article? Go in and link it! Have a guide that has been buried under pages of new posts? Find a way to promote it on the front page or in your newest articles. By making it easy for your audience to find content, you’re going to see a big increase in page views and traffic.

Another great reason to do this is because search engines love it. They’ll see your site as more connected and active, and your articles will be seen as higher quality. You can’t lose with this method!

5. Post Old Content Intermittently

This ties in with the above tip: If you’ve been blogging for a while, you should definitely consider promoting your older content again. By doing so, you’ll bring a fresh persepective to your older posts. Plus, tied in with new interlinking, you’re creating an interconnected “web” of data on your blog, rather than disjointed posts that are too easily lost in the sea of information you’re producing.

How can you most easily manage this? Be sure to keep a content calendar to repost old articles on a regular basis. If you have time-sensitive content, you obviously should make sure to not include it in your posting plan–no one wants to read “Top Social Media Trends of 2013” right now, unless we’re doing a Throwback Thursday event!

Be sure to post content on all of your social media sites, and if you’ve done significant updates to an article, feel free to repost it on your blog and let everyone know you’ve revisited the subject.

6. Blog exchange

As a blogger, you probably have other blogger friends. If this is the case, why not offer to do a blog exchange? One of the most important parts of getting your blog in front of more eyes is networking. Not only do search engines find sites with external links more valuable (from reliable sources, of course), but readers might already read one blog and trust its content–and if they trust that content, they’ll be willing to give yours a try.

This isn’t necessarily the same thing as guest posting, but it’s similar. Guest posting can go in this vein as well–you can offer a post to a blogger you feel would benefit from your content and hope for the best. But building a network among your connections certainly won’t hurt either.

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

Why Social Media Will Change the Way You Do Business

During a discussion with a friend, the topic of Twitter came up. He didn’t understand why it was such a big deal–in fact, he seemed adamant that it wasn’t.

“Why would I care what anyone had for lunch?” he said. I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by this, but I had an idea of where he was going with it. So I asked him to elaborate.

“Well, that’s all people ever do on Twitter. They just post stupid pictures of their food or tell you what they’re doing at that exact moment. And no one cares. At least, I don’t.”

Does this sound like you? Are you perplexed by Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest… or even social media in general? If so, you’re not alone. At first glance, social media can seem self-indulgent and pointless for businesses–it seems far too personal and maybe even banal.

But don’t judge social media too quickly. If you’re a small business owner, it’s time you learned the basics of popular social media platforms–and not because you need to know how to share a picture of that great Chinese food you just ate, but because social media will actually change the way you do business. And it’ll change it for the better, as long as you know the ropes.

One of the first things that will happen is…

You’ll realize how much more you can do online.

If there’s one thing about being online, it’s that you can go practically anywhere and do practically anything. Want to let your customers know about a new special you’re running without sending out a postcard? Now you can tell them on Facebook or Twitter, or you could opt to send them a newsletter update. Want to research new ways to get customers through your doors? You can find advice anywhere from experienced business owners–forums, other social media sites, videos on YouTube. Do you need support because you’re feeling stressed? There are tons of places you can find that. Social media is a great option for all these things.

Basically, what it boils down to is that simply being online gives you a network you don’t have access to in the physical world. By knowing where to look, you’ll realize just how much more you can do online than you ever could before.

You can work on social media even while you’re sleeping.

Yes, this is one that social media “gurus” love to trot out because it makes the job sound luxurious. The job isn’t really luxurious… more like, it’s easy to make it look that way. When you’re a small business owner and you’re looking to reach your customers during hours that your shop isn’t open, then you can take advantage of scheduling social media posts. Never before would you be able to attend to advertising and promotion at 3 am!

Another bonus to scheduling your posts is that you can reach customers who are night owls or who reside in different time zones. Obviously this is more effective for certain industries, but the point still stands: You may not physically be able to stay open 24 hours a day, but using social media for your business will allow you to always be present online.

You can interact with customers on your time–and they can interact with you on theirs.

Because your social media profiles are always available, customers can leave you feedback whenever they want. In today’s increasingly-busy world, that’s an important thing. On the flip side, you can also respond to them when you have the chance. If you like checking your social media from home at night, you can take care of the day’s questions and comments before winking out. You wouldn’t be able to do that otherwise!

It’s important to note, too, that many people prefer to contact someone via text or a quick private message than a phone call. This allows them to get important information they need while at work or when otherwise occupied, so it’s important that you take these demands into consideration when running your social media sites. Let your customers contact you in the ways they prefer!

You can put forth a different persona.

Obviously your customers are going to want to see your brand be authentic. And you’re not going to want to treat your business page as you would a personal one. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be super formal when you’re on social media! You can blog about useful topics, but you don’t have to present it like a term paper. You can update your Facebook with company news, but keep it fun and casual. When you’re using social media for your business, you’re not advertising in the traditional way. You are free to be more… well, yourself. And isn’t that a great thing to be?

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.