I’ll Be Presenting At Georgia Highlands College

Chris Everett Presenting At Georgia Highlands College

I’ve recently accepted an invitation to speak to a group of college students at Georgia Highlands College about using Social Media (LinkedIn in specific) to help these students find jobs after they graduate.

The presentation will be a part of Georgia Highland College’s Passport to success program – a 4 day career preparation program that gives students tips on brushing up their resumes, how to dress/prepare for job interviews, etc.

The presentation I’ll be giving to the students will be instructing them how to keep clean Social Media profiles that recruiters and HR professionals will be scouring before they decide who to interview/hire. I’ll also discuss how to use LinkedIn as an effective networking tool to reach out to recruiters and hiring managers who are looking for qualified candidates to fill positions within their organizations.

The Passport to Success fair runs from October 7-10, 2013, and I’ll be presenting at GHC’s Paulding Campus in Hiram, Georgia on October 9.  I’m looking forward to fielding some great questions and to building some relationships with local college students!

Website Optimization: Ways To Make Your Website More Interactive

Website Optimization: Make Website More Interactive

One of the primary challenges that businesses face in online marketing is keeping their existing customers engaged with their brand, as well as being able to interact with potential new customers who visit their websites.

Below we list several website optimization methods that can help make your website more interactive for users to help your business achieve this level of engagement with site visitors.

Produce Content Worth Reading

The most beneficial strategy you implement to make your website more interactive is to develop content that is worthy of interaction.

No matter what format you post your content, whether that be in the form of a sharable video or in a blog post that allows commenting from users, if the content isn’t valuable or interesting to a user, they won’t be compelled to interact by leaving a comment, liking your posts, or sharing your content with others.

Integrate Social Media Elements

Integrating social media elements into your website design is an excellent way to make your website more interactive.

Among the social media elements you can implement to make your site more interactive for users are social sharing icons so your site visitors can easily share your exceptional blog posts, videos, web pages easily with their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Pinterest contacts.

Social Sharing for Making Website More Interactive

Integrating other social media elements such as your Facebook or Twitter feeds, so that your social media pages are easily accessible, or integrating “Sign in with Twitter” or “Sign in with Facebook” login options also makes your website more interactive – and socially relevant.

Social Media Website Login with Facebook or Twitter

Provide Incentives to Your Site Visitors

Keeping your site visitors engaged by offering incentives to keep coming back to your website is a great way to make your site more interactive for users.

Offering them discounts on services, awarding random giveaways for liking or sharing your content, providing coupons or free information when they sign up for your company eNewsletter or a free eBook are all excellent ways to make your site more interactive for users.

Make it Easy to Contact You

Calls to Action for Conversion OptimizationThis might be a simple suggestion, but it goes a long way for the overall effectiveness of your website for users. Ask yourself some of these questions:

  • how easy it is to find your company’s phone number or email address?
  • is there an easily accessible contact form allowing users to get more information about your products or services?
  • does your website offer a live chat feature for users to immediately interact with someone in your organization who can get them the information they’re looking for?

If the answers to these questions aren’t positive, you’ve got room to improve when it comes to making your website more interactive for users.

These website optimization strategies are just the tip of the iceberg when making your website more interactive. If you’d like to learn more about optimizing your company website or effective website design strategies, contact me today for a free consultation.

5 Questions to Ask Your Prospective SEO Consultant

Questions to Ask Prospective SEO Consultant

In small business, every decision is a major one. Hiring the wrong employee, choosing the wrong vendor, or spending your marketing dollars in the wrong place can set you back dramatically.

For small businesses that see great opportunity to expand their client base online, choosing a competent search engine optimization (SEO) consultant to make their investment is essential.

SEO is the process of building a website’s relevance, credibility and authority with the search engines. These three objectives work to develop higher natural rankings (and in turn more search traffic) for the website when users search for specific keywords. Small businesses often times work with SEO consultants to help them achieve these  objectives, but not all of them end up achieving their ultimate goal.

Why, you ask? Because not all SEO consultants are built equal. The truth is, some folks out there who market themselves as “SEO experts” simply just throw up smoke screens (and excuses) in front of their clients until the money runs out.

If your small business is in the market for a competent SEO consultant to help execute a small business SEO strategy, here are 5 questions you should consider asking them to help qualify their competence:

1) Do You Guarantee No. 1 Rankings?

This question will quickly quickly help you determine whether the SEO consultant is worthy of your trust. The fact is, No SEO consultant can guarantee natural rankings because they aren’t the ones who own the search engines! If you run into a consultant who promises you No. 1 rankings, you might want to think twice about their credibility and whether or not you want to do business with them.

2) How Do You Build Rankings For Your Clients?

SEO isn’t brain surgery. Be wary of SEO consultants who overuse SEO jargon and a mess of other technical terms to explain how they execute their clients’ SEO programs. Yes, SEO is a practice that is based on a multitude of different factors, but it can easily be explained in layman’s terms.
Make sure that the SEO consultant covers both on-site and off-site strategies that they utilize. Among the topics your SEO consultant will discuss are:

  • Keyword research and competitive analysis
  • Meta tag optimization and optimization of on-page content
  • Off-site strategies such as Content Marketing, Social Media, Blogging, etc.

Be sure they don’t subscribe to any automated SEO linking networks to help build rankings for their clients – these programs to far more harm than good.

3) How Important is it that I get Involved with Social Media?

Nowadays if your Internet marketing strategy doesn’t include social media, your strategy isn’t living up to its full potential. Social media signals and social sharing is a part of how Google ranks your website’s content. The more it’s shared, Liked, Tweeted, and Loved, the better the opportunity it will have to rank toward the top of the search results.

Social media also affords businesses an opportunity to increase the awareness of their brand with both prospective and existing customers. Keeping consumers engaged with your brand through social media by asking them questions, giving away freebies, Re-Tweeting them or giving them a mention helps to build trust, long-term brand loyalty, and keeps your company Top of Mind. While this doesn’t pertain entirely to SEO, the consultant should be aware of the power of social media can have for small businesses in growing their online presence.

4) Can You Provide Examples of Your Work?

This question’s purpose is multifaceted. First, it helps you determine the quality of work that the SEO consultant has produced for other clients, including how competitive the keywords were they achieved rankings for and what industries they’ve performed SEO for before.

Secondly, the answer of this question can give you a better idea of the typical caliber of client the SEO consultant works with and what the consultant’s fees might be to take on your project.

5) What Reporting Should I Expect and How Often?

Staying on top of the overall performance of your campaign is a must – especially for small businesses. Knowing where your marketing dollars are being invested and what you’re getting in return for that investment is an important expectation to have when selecting your SEO consultant.
Among the reporting you should expect from your consultant are:

  • Website traffic reports segmenting Direct, Organic and Paid search referrals
  • Ranking reports for your targeted keywords for the three major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing)
  • Link Building/Content Marketing reports: What articles where submitted and where.
  • Citation Building Reports: What local business directories were claimed, optimized, etc. for the time period.
  • An analysis of the performance and suggestions moving forward.

The frequency of these reports might vary from report to report. Some of these reports could be delivered on a weekly basis (Traffic, Keyword Rankings), while others might be delivered on a monthly basis. Be sure your SEO consultant has a well-structured reporting system to keep you well informed on the performance of your campaign.

These five questions will go a long way in helping your small business determine which small business SEO consultant is the most qualified to take on your project! If there is any way I can be of help to you in your SEO endeavors, feel free to drop me a line!

3 Essential Strategies for Content Marketing

3 Essential Strategies for Content Marketing SEO

In a post-Penguin world, SEO will be led by what it always should have been – great content. Producing, distributing and recycling great content is the future of SEO, and if your website doesn’t have a fine-tuned content marketing strategy, be prepared to be left in the dust.

Creating and marketing exceptional content, whether that be a blog post, infographic, video, podcast or any other interactive content, will be essential for websites to both build and maintain organic rankings for the foreseeable future. And really it makes perfect sense.

It’s always been Google’s goal to provide web searchers with the most relevant and authoritative content related to their search queries. Over the years, Google’s search results have been muddied by less-than-ethical SEO companies that have spammed the Internet with thin, garbage content that had little to no value (but were riddled with links) in an effort to gain top organic search rankings for their clients. Those days are now long gone after Google put the kibosh on websites that gained rankings from spammy link profiles promoted by websites with zero authority.

So now to survive, SEO companies that didn’t previously practice good ethics will now be forced to do so to stay in business and the No. 1 method to do so will be content marketing.

With this in mind, below I’ll outline 3 essential strategies for content marketing that will help websites build authority (links), gain relevancy and drive traffic (and rankings) to their websites.

Create Diverse & Exceptional Content

Content Marketing for SEOThis should be a no-brainer, right? You’d be surprised. Despite Google’s push to clean up web content, the Internet is still flooded with content with little to no value.

To successfully content market, you have to produce compelling and meaningful content for the users to read or the success of your SEO objectives are sure to follow suit.

In content marketing, content comes in a variety of ways from simple blog posts and whitepapers to more interactive content such as podcasts, videos and memes. Each of these pieces of content (if exceptional) can play an essential role in increasing your website’s popularity, but also drive top rankings for targeted keywords and in turn more traffic to your website.

With so many channels and mediums to produce content on, it’s important to diversify your content and mix a variety of articles, blogs, videos and images as part of your content marketing strategy so you can be sure to reach a diverse readership.

Get SEO-cial

SEO-cial is a new buzzword going around in the SEO industry because of the major inclusion of Social Media signals in Google’s highly sophisticated algorithm. It’s now not just best practice to socially share your content on a variety of social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., it’s now imperative to do so to have any sort of chance and getting your content ranked.

Nowadays socializing your content is incredibly easy with a variety of free social sharing widgets that you can install on your websites to share your content on multiple social media platforms with just a few clicks.

So why is it so important that you get SEO-cial with your content? When you share socially, your exceptional content has a far greater chance of going viral and reaching hundreds (if not thousands (millions?)) of Internet users. Assuming your content is exceptional and has something of great value to offer web users, you’re also far more likely to get re-shared, liked, +1ed and LINKED to naturally by other users.

Get Blogging

Article marketing and blogging are the most traditional mediums for content marketing. It’s the battle-tested, tried-and-true method for building valuable links back to your website. There are many free blogging platforms available to start your blogging conquest, including: WordPress.com and Blogger. Each of these platforms has their own unique benefits. WordPress is very search engine friendly. Blogger is owned by Google.

When blogging for SEO, don’t forget to optimize your posts for the search engines using best practices for Meta Tags, and links. And as I said above, definitely don’t forget to socially share your blogs on various social media websites.

Content marketing and striving to create exceptional content is the future of SEO (and that’s the way it ought to be!) These 3 strategies are great ways to build more authority and trust with the search engines, and also to build relevancy for users and rankings in the search results.

3 Simple Social Media Strategies for Small Businesses

Social Media Strategies for Small Business

For small businesses that are looking to gain traction with local consumers online, social media marketing has become an incredibly effective and cost efficient method of connecting with local consumers and increasing brand visibility in the local search results.

A recent statistical analysis from social media analytics provider Pingdom offers significant insights to the demographics of users, signifying similar usage of social media platforms by both men and women surveyed (47% for men and 53% for women), as well as an even usage of a variety of social media channels by the younger segment of users (18 to 24) who do not dedicate themselves to just one social media site.

These statistical insights insights provide great perspective for small businesses in that it’s important for them to trial and error each social media platform in an effort to identify which social media channels are the most effective to reach their ideal consumers.

Social media has become an essential ingredient for building brand visibility and loyalty for small businesses competing in a local marketplace and to simply ignore social media as a viable source of web traffic and customer engagement can be huge lost opportunity.

With this in mind, I’ll now identify three simple strategies for small businesses to help effectively use social media to promote their business.

Evaluate Your Local Competition

We all know the adage keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. This concept has some validity in local search. Before you decide on a strategy for your social media campaign, scope out what your rival local competitors are doing in their social media efforts. Find out what social media platforms they’re on and what sort of content they’re publishing. Identify how popular they are. How many likes/followers do they have? How are they marketing their service offerings. These insights can help you plan a local social media strategy that will engage your customers in an effective manner that will surpass the efforts of your local competitors.

Consistently Engage Your Followers

Your followers are your (current and) potential customers. Interact with them. Ask them questions. Poll them on how to provide better customer service or ways to improve your products. And if you’re effectively engaging them on a consistent basis by posting new content and getting feedback from them, don’t ignore what they have to say. That’s the fastest way to burn a bridge with a consumer. If a consumer voices his/her opinion about your small business via one of your social media pages, take that complement or criticism seriously. Respond to users who post on your walls or Tweet at you in a professional manner. As I explained in this blog post, that interaction can go a long way for a consumer.  Consider social media an opportunity to continue to improve your products/service offerings for your consumers.

Provide Incentives for Your Followers

As I eluded to in my previous post about conversion optimization, consumers LOVE deals (and free stuff.) An excellent social media strategy for small businesses is providing exclusive offers to your followers on each of your social media properties. Incentives keep your social media followers interested in your brand. Offering something of value such as 50% off your next cup of coffee or offering a discount code for free shipping to your social media followers is a great way to keep them loyal to your brand – coincidentally, it’s also a great way to increase sales, as well.

The Positives & Negatives of Twitter

Positives and Negatives of Twitter

I’m a Twitter addict.

There, I said it (not that my wife didn’t already know).

Even before social media became a primary driving force for breaking news, I was a self-admitted media junkie who consumed as much (often sensationalized) information I could get my hands on. From Bloomberg and CNN to ESPN.com and Yahoo Finance, I would soak up as much news as I could. Then, I discovered Twitter and that changed everything!

Twitter became my one-stop source for world, financial, business and sports news – following the Twitter feeds of @CNN, @AJC, @ChicagoCubs, @VikingsFootball and @IlliniFootball just to name a few. Then I started following local restaurants to see their new specials and deals and fellow SEO professionals to get their take on the latest in search engine marketing news. To say the least, the 10 columns (that include certain hashtag searches for #SEO #Vikings #Cubs, etc.) on my Tweetdeck dashboard keep a steady influx of tweets coming my way throughout the day.

The Negatives of Twitter

Twitter is an excellent source for news if you’re following reputable sources, however there are some negatives of Twitter. A couple of months ago one of the downsides of Twitter showed its ugly face. During the weeks of speculation leading up to the purchase and departure of the Atlanta Thrashers NHL team to a group in Winnipeg, multiple fake Twitter accounts claiming to be associated with local media outlets reported phony news about secret meetings between the NHL, the Mayor of Atlanta and other Atlanta Spirit Group stakeholders about keeping the team in Atlanta. As a hockey fan who wanted the Thrashers to stay, these fake reports along with Twitter “trolls” from Winnipeg who taunted Thrashers fans during the weeks leading up to the team’s sale, exhausted my interest and made me sign off of Twitter for several days until real news broke on the situation.

The Positives of Twitter

There are definitely a lot of positives of Twitter. Twitter is quite useful for more than just news consumption. When used properly, Twitter is a powerful marketing tool for companies to keep potential and existing customers up to date on their products and offers and for general public relations. Aside from the marketing aspect, I’ve recently come to find that Twitter can be a consumer’s problem solver!

On a recent trip back from my native state of Illinois, my flight home was delayed several hours because Delta Airlines didn’t have a plane available. I have a more-than-painful travel history when it comes to flying and this certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve had problems with Delta, so like any good user of Twitter, I took my disgruntled thoughts to TwitterVerse.

Within minutes, Delta’s Twitter account for assistants (@DeltaAssist) was following me and replied to my tweet offering assistance if I sent my confirmation number to them via Direct Message. I, of course, obliged and after several direct message exchanges @DeltaAssist got my wife and I and our 10 month old (in arms) booked in the last two seats on another flight home. Because of this Twitter interaction, we made it home safely a full 2.5 hours before our originally scheduled flight!

More and more companies are establishing these types of assistance accounts to help put a focus on customer service. So the next time you’re dissatisfied, voice your opinion on Twitter by sending a Tweet at the company… and keep it classy!