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6 Smart Ways to Win at Facebook Live

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Ways to Win at Facebook Live

“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”

Craig Davis, co-founder and CMO of Sendle.com.

 

Small business owners have a variety of marketing tools and tactics at their disposal. Two of the most powerful options are content and social media.

In the social realm, Facebook is the obvious frontrunner with more than 1.3 billion daily active users.

As far as content is concerned, nothing comes close to competing with video anymore. While blogs, infographics and other content formats still have their place in the ecosystem, today’s consumers crave video content and engage with it at insane rates.

This means that platforms like Facebook Live can be potential engagement juggernauts for business owners.

Since its release in April of 2015, Facebook Live has exploded in growth, with search popularity skyrocketing by an astonishing 330 percent.

No matter if you own a digital storefront or a local boutique, you should be leveraging Facebook Live to generate awareness, engagement, traffic and sales because this tool makes all of the above possible.

But if you are going to outshine your competitors, you’re going to need to get clever about your content.

Here are six smart ways your brand can flex its creative muscles on Facebook Live.

1. Get to Know the Staff

Unfortunately, so many businesses seem to treat customer service as an afterthought. Just ask anyone who’s recently been on an airplane.

This is a preposterous notion considering that when customer service is done right, it can elevate a brand’s following to cult-like status; Zappos is the epitome of building a diehard following on the platform of stellar consumer experiences.

If your business has a team of employees, you can craft that personal connection between consumers and staff members by introducing your customer base to them. This allows people to become familiar and friendly with the people on the other side of the screen or counter, instead of seeing them simply as a business drone.

You can do this in an employee of the month format, or just walk around the office and see who you run into. These videos don’t need to be long either; anywhere between five and 10 minutes is plenty of time for a few key questions.

2. Make Every Friday Black Friday

If there’s one thing that consumers are hard pressed to pass up, it’s a good deal.

Using Facebook Live, retail stores and digital shops alike can highlight special sales only available to those who tune in.

With this method, you can walk through your store showing off items that you are slashing prices on just for the day. If you have an online existence only, you can (using Facebook Live for desktop) display screenshots of sale items from your store with special discount codes.

To help generate the most viewership possible, be sure to build some buzz before you start the broadcast by posting a cryptic update or sharing a custom image post that let’s folks know that discounts will only be available through the Live broadcast.

If you do this on a consistent basis, people will start to catch on to your weekly sales bonanza and start tuning in.

3. Teach Your Followers a Skill

Facebook Live doesn’t solely need to be used as a tool for directly promoting your business; it’s also a powerful platform for positioning yourself as a thought leader within a community.

Provide your followers with substantial value and show off that big brain of yours by teaching viewers a useful skill via live courses.

Courses vary from industry to industry, but a few examples would be:

  • A music shop giving a free series of guitar lessons.
  • An artist teaching basic drawing tips and tricks.
  • A blogger showing how to design a website.
  • A life coach teaching people to meditate.

During these free courses, you can engender engagement by asking your audience if they have any questions, problematic areas, and to share the video with someone they think would benefit from the free knowledge.

4. Address Blog Comments

If you have a website, it’s fairly likely that you have a blog too, because content and SEO are intrinsically linked.

A great way to deepen your relationship with your audience and expand upon blog topics is by answering user questions or comments through a Facebook Live broadcast. This provides those who have read the blog with a reason to tune in, and can pique the interest of viewers who have yet to read your blog, effectively driving them to your site.

5. Grab a Group’s Attention

Back in April of 2016, Facebook added the ability for users to Live stream video to Groups.

If you have a Group that you manage, this is a much more engaging form of content than just another text-based post. You can also spark conversations in other Groups this way, though if you are not the owner, you will need to gain permission from the admin.

6. Recap an Event

If your business held a local event, it’s always a great idea to broadcast Live during the big moments because this can generate a lot of interest around your brand.

As a small business owner, however, you likely don’t have time to stream the entire event — you’re too busy running it. This is when broadcasting a recap video can prove to be engaging and fun for viewers.

If your event had anything to do with fundraising or another noble cause, you can share how much money was accrued. If your business was holding a learning-based event, you can share the top three lessons from the day.

Facebook Live is a beast of a tool considering the fervent nature with which people are consuming video online. Select a few of these tactics to apply to your business’s social interactions and you can likely drum up enhanced amounts of engagements, website traffic, sales, and new followers.

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Why & How a Blog Matters to Your SEO Presence

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Why & How a Blog Matters to Your SEO Presence

Your SEO presence is not just a big deal – it’s a HUGE deal.

That is, only if you want more traffic, more leads, more conversions and more sales.

Leads. Conversions. Sales. Do I have your attention yet?

Here’s the deal, though: To get those three covetables, you need a good SEO presence. A solid SEO presence. And how do you build that?

With a blog, of course.

Blogging is one of the ultimate ways to rank in the SERPs (search engine results pages). If your SEO presence is a huge deal (and it is), having a business blog is an even HUGER deal.

Here’s why.

Why You Should Blog Your Way to Better Business

Blogging is perhaps the No. 1 way to boost your visibility on search engines. It will also drive organic traffic to your site (read: traffic you didn’t pay for with advertising).

That’s right, it helps drive traffic to your site for free. Is anything better than free?

Here are some other great reasons blogging helps your business:

1. One of Google’s First Ranking Factors Is Content

Google loves pages with good content – it’s one of the search engine’s major ranking factors. And, whatever Google loves gets closer and closer to a first-page ranking, the holy grail of SEO.

Of course, good content has defining features. When you have a blog, you can strive to hit all of them in every post. This will boost your individual page ranking and your site ranking.

Here’s what your content should strive to do to rank:

  • Be relevant. The topic you write about should fit into your industry, but also be relevant to what your customers need. Relevance, of course, also means you should be using keywords and key phrases in your content. It’s no longer about keyword density, though. Rather, it’s about placement in the right areas (H1s and H2s, for instance) and using them naturally throughout your blog posts.
  • Hit the right length. The word count of the blogs you post has an effect on the amount of traffic you get. Hit the sweet spot regarding length, and you could see a lot more page visits, leads, and conversions. According to HubSpot, it’s best to go longer. In a study they did of their most successful posts, the ones that got the highest engagement were between 2,250 and 2,500 words:

  • Be comprehensive. Along with length, your posts should go in-depth on relevant topics. Don’t skim the surface – explore the nooks, crannies, and facets of your subject, and come out with golden pieces of wisdom for your readers.

Here’s a piece of an infographic from Social Media Today that simplifies how beneficial blogging is for driving traffic:

2. Blogging Is a Great Conversion Tool

Once you optimize your posts to drive in traffic, your blog can also convert those visitors into solid leads. You can do it by adding a call-to-action at the end of every blog post.

If your blog intrigues your audience and they enjoy reading it, your CTAs can become tempting, too. Wherever your call-to-action takes them – to a landing page where they enter their e-mails for an offer, or to one of your sales pages where they’re prompted to do business with you – if they follow through, you’ve captured a lead through a blog.

The best part: If you’re blogging regularly, you’ll have tons of different lead-generating tools out there that search engines are indexing and people are finding.

This leads into our next point…

3. Blogging Gets You Steady, Long-Term Growth

Creating a blog and keeping it updated generates content. Each post is an optimized tool that helps search engines find you, rank you and present your link to users in the SERPs.

As you generate more blogs, you drop more and more of these seeds into the soil of the Internet. Your posts take root as search engines note how you’ve optimized each blog. They also analyze how much content you put out, how fresh your site is, and the quality of the sites that are linking back to you.

The more seeds you have out there, the better your content crop will fare. A time passes, the first seeds you planted will grow from sprouts to saplings to full-grown trees. They’ll have wide, spreading branches that will fan out all over the Internet.

Gif via Slate

Here’s a great blogging stat that backs that up: Business websites with 401-1,000 pages on their sites regularly get six times more leads than business websites with only 51-100 pages.

More blogs, more pages. More pages, more leads. More leads, more conversions. You get the idea.

It takes time and patience, but it works. If you want a content forest that can get you noticed, start a blog.

Bottom Line: A Blog Can Be Your Number One SEO Tool

A high-quality blog can take your brand from zero to hero, much like that wimpy Greek teenager who hones himself (with help, according to Disney) into Hercules.

Why? Because a blog is great for search engine optimization.

Other blog benefits:

  • They’re really easy to start. Like, stupidly easy. All you need is a good blogging platform for your domain, such as WordPress.
  • They’re fun. They add an element of personality and life to your site, and they invite engagement, discussion, and sharing.
  • They position you as an expert in your field. You’re sharing knowledge you’ve gained from hard work, experience, and effort – that’s a worthy task.

If you’re convinced, it’s time to get blogging. After all, there’s no time like the present to improve your SEO presence.

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How to Do SEO for a Brand New Website

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4 SEO Trends to Keep Your Eye on in 2017

As a start-up owner, you have a lot on your mind. Bootstrapping is never easy. At the digital marketing agency I run, I talk to overworked start-up owners every day. And they all know about SEO and its importance.

But very few of them have the time or the resources to allocate to optimizing their website from day one. Since getting things right the first time is much easier than fixing things afterwards, I always encourage our clients to start early.

When it comes to SEO for a brand new website, with a domain authority of 1, it can be challenging to get results. However, you have one thing going for you: a blank canvas that you can shape any way you want.

In time, we have set up a process to help our clients who need to optimize brand new websites get results as quickly as possible. These are the steps we usually follow.

SEO for a brand new website: the basics

The items on the checklist below are all crucial for successful optimization. Some of them only take a few minutes, while others can take hours or require professional assistance.

1. The technical part

For a new website, content is crucial. But before publishing a single word, some technical aspects need to be taken care of:

  • Install Google Analytics and link the Search Console to it. This will help you track all your sources of traffic and understand the performance of your keywords.
  • Create a robots.txt file and then upload it to your site’s root directory.
  • Do the same for the sitemap.xml file. Additionally, submit this file to Google Webmaster Tool and request indexing.

2. The research

Some of the tools we use to come up with the perfect keywords (both long- and short-tail, as well as LSI keywords) for our customers are:

  • Google search – Yes, the plain, simple, free one. It’s amazing how many SEO copywriters forget about the basics. The suggestions that accompany every search will give you a better idea about what your customers look for.
  • AdWords Keyword Planner – Even if you don’t plan to invest in AdWords, you can use this tool to get even more suggestions and learn about search volumes.
  • LSI Graph – Perfect for finding the LSI keywords that can bring you ROI-oriented traffic (the only kind you should be aiming for!).
  • Moz Open Site Explorer and Buzz Sumo — To understand what you’re up against. You can also use the first one to “steal” some of your competitors’ backlinks in the future.
  • Moz Explorer — To check the difficulty of the keywords you are planning to rank for.

3. The on-site optimization

  • Make sure each of your pages has a unique title tag. Use your main keywords in these tags.
  • Ensure that each of your webpages has a unique meta description. Again, use your main keywords here.
  • Each of your URLs should also contain your keywords.
  • Use ALT tags for your images to help Googlebots understand what they are crawling. Add your keywords in the ALT tags.

4. The content

  • Get to know your buyer persona(s). What tone of voice do they respond to? What type of content do they prefer – blog posts, webinars, white papers, podcasts, videos?
  • Each webpage should have at least 350 words. For landing or sales pages, I usually advise more than 1,000 words.
  • Choose one primary keyword (preferably a long-tail one) and at least five LSI keywords for each page.
  • Set up a blog and (if needed) a news section. When you make your website public, you should have at least three blog posts.
  • Create a content calendar – how often are you going to publish new posts and what are you going to write about?

Next on the agenda: start earning links. Do this by publishing great content and reaching out to influencers, of course.

However, before you think about earning backlinks, you need to make sure that you publish excellent content. I always teach my writers that great writing means respecting the reader first and foremost. Everything else (SEO included) comes afterward.

When you plan your content calendar, start by identifying the topics that your readers are interested in. What do they need help with? What are their pain points? What valuable information can you offer them?

Answer these questions and turn them into blog topics. Afterward, you can start researching keywords for them and writing meta descriptions. But remember: if your readers don’t like your content, search engines won’t like them either.

I also advise my clients not to stretch themselves too thin. We can take copywriting off their plate and even content marketing. Still, they should always be comfortable with the blogging frequency they choose. When you publish content just because everyone says you have to, it shows. Your potential clients can see it, too. And the ultimate goal is not to rank higher in SERPs. That’s just a means to an end; your ultimate goal is ROI from every piece of content you publish.

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5 Must-Haves in a Business URL

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5 Must-Haves in a Business URL

 

“Is a domain a commodity? An investment? A safe haven? Real estate? Yes, and much more. It is the most portable asset the world has ever known. But bigger than all that is that a great domain name is an equalizer.”

Rick Schwartz, American domain name entrepreneur

 

When starting a new business, its name lies at the core of your potential success. Not merely because this is the foundation on which your brand is built and what will help to lure consumers — what makes a good business name so critical in today’s day and age is snagging a suitable domain.

Selecting a name for your business and grabbing the right domain are one in the same in the digital age. You need to be sure that the URL you land is one that will help make your brand, not break it.

Your business domain is a key element of your website because it serves several functions:

  • It is your first impression – The domain is the first thing visitors will see; assuming you have picked one that they can find. More on this later.
  • It defines your brand – The right domain name can help support or diminish brand recognition.

If your business is in the market for a new URL, or you are in the pre-launch phases of a new brand, here are five must-have domain elements that will help your business prosper.

1. Consider Keywords

Back in 2012, Matt Cutts announced via Twitter that Google would begin dropping low-quality exact match domains (EMD) in the SERPs. This has led many to believe that EMDs are bad for business, though this simply isn’t true.

Google only demoted “low-quality” EMDs, as it did with everything that the Panda algorithm deemed subpar.

Assuming your site is top notch, you have nothing to fear in the realm of EMDs; in fact, you’ll likely see positive SEO results as a byproduct.

Let’s look at a case study. Steve Tackett just purchased www.usedcarsforsale.com for a whopping $340,000; the single largest sale of an automotive-related domain since 2008.

Steve’s intent for buying such a pricey URL is to help disrupt the online automotive industry that is currently dominated by sites like Autotrader.com, Cars.com, and others that have garnered a questionable reputation in the eyes of many consumers.

Because this site is likely to drive a significant amount of traffic based on its keyword value alone, it is sure to be a power player in the SERPs.

When it comes to finding fruitful keywords in your industry, you can leverage tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or Keywordtool.io; just be sure to stay away from keyword-stuffed domains.

2. Take Spelling Seriously

Truthfully, you need to consider more than just your domain’s spelling. You also need to take into consideration the length and pronunciation as well. If one of these elements is out of balance, it is likely to equate to a serious decrease in potential traffic.

When considering a domain, try to make sure it’s something that can be easily said in conversation, is easily remembered, and is spelled like it sounds.

Adhering to these guidelines helps to ensure that your domain is memorable and easily searchable. If it’s too long, people will forget it. If it’s spelled strangely, consumers will have a hard time finding you. If shoppers can’t pronounce your URL, they’ll probably just go somewhere else.

When purchasing a domain, make sure it fits within this framework; if it doesn’t, keep looking.

3. Nix Numbers and Hyphens

Keeping in mind the last section, numbers and hyphens can be a business death sentence for clear reasons. Both domain elements make your URL more difficult to spell and pronounce in conversation; this is likely to lead to far less business than you would hope for.

There isn’t much need to go further into detail here. The lesson to take from this is to avoid URL-related numbers and hyphens like the plague.

4. Do a .Com Address

In recent years, more creative and unusual top-level domains (.me, .camp, etc.) have come into existence.

While there is certainly an argument to be made for creativity and memorability, if you are serious about building a long-term brand online, you’ll likely want to stay within the .com arena.

These URLs are far more difficult to procure as they may be more expensive and hard to come by, but .com is by far the most trusted top-level domain by consumers. In fact, many are still unaware that alternative website suffixes like .me are in use, making potential visitors weary and more likely to visit another site.

Speaking of building a long-term brand online…

5. Think About the Future

When purchasing a domain for your business, consider it as seriously as you would a marriage. This will be your brand’s defining factor online for years to come, if not the entirety of its existence.

If you opt to change your URL at some point in the future, your traffic will temporarily be halted, and your SEO ranking will be seriously damaged. So don’t commit to a URL you suspect is temporary; go all-in or there will be repercussions.

Think about where your business is now and what it might be in the future. Do you plan to maybe expand your offerings or services one day? Then take that into account.

Don’t pigeonhole yourself to a certain niche if you feel that you have the potential to grow your business into other areas.

Make sure that your business URL reflects who you are now as a brand, and who you might become.

Your businesses domain name is its identity; it’s how people find you online. Be sure to carefully consider the elements above when shopping for a URL to attach to your brand. If you fail to follow these guidelines, it could end up costing you a lot more than a few visitors.

Have you had any domain troubles in the past? Do you think .com addresses are still most trusted by consumers or are other domains gaining credence?

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How Explore Feed Impacts Your Facebook Page

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How Explore Feed Impacts Your Facebook Page

On Oct. 18, Facebook began the roll out of the Explore feed. It caused a bit of panic at first because some people thought that posts by pages would not appear in the news feed (unless pages paid for ads, of course).

A Slovakian journalist reported major drops in the organic reach of several media outlets. Since Slovakia was one of the six countries that the new Explore feed was tested in, this report caused even more panic: what if the organic reach will soon be completely dead for everyone, everywhere?

The reaction is understandable: Facebook has continuously decreased the reach of pages, pushing for more ads and arguing that this was a way for users to get more personal content into their News feed.

So why not kill it altogether and make sure that Facebook will become nothing else but an advertising platform for publishers?

Of course, a probable consequence of this radical change was that some publisher would withdraw altogether from Facebook and take their advertising dollars with them.

Luckily, it looks like the organic reach (small as it is) will not be killed off and users will still be able to see posts from the pages they follow in their news feed. Adam Mosseri, head of news feed at Facebook, recently made this clear.

So what does the Explore Feed entail for publishers, after all?

What is the Explore feed?

Outside of the six countries (Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia) where the “spooky” version of this feed was tested, everyone else can already see it on their desktop or mobile app without noticing any other changes to their news feeds.

In Adam Mosseri’s words, “Explore is a complementary feed of popular articles, videos, and photos automatically customized for each person based on content that might be interesting to them. While Explore includes content from relevant pages, posts from pages that people like or follow will continue to appear in news feed.”

If you check yours, you’ll see that you can also see posts from pages that you already follow, as well as posts from suggested pages. As Mosseri says, it’s different for everyone, based on individual preferences and, most importantly, based on what your friends like.

For instance, if several of your friends (especially those you interact with most often) have liked that viral cat video, odds are you’ll find it in your Explore feed.

But what does this mean for business pages? If your organic reach hasn’t dropped, will it affect your page?

How business pages can leverage the new Explore feed

Now more than ever you need to build a community around your brand rather than millions of ‘followers.’

Why, you ask?

Because those who truly love what you have to share on Facebook can help you reach more people. Better yet, they can help you reach more people with similar tastes (since the Explore tab will also be based on what users’ friends liked the most).

In other words, you will need better content. Whether you’re a local business or a global one, you need to spend more time understanding what your audience wants to learn about and give them that instead of promotional content.

Social listening is a good place to start. At the digital marketing agency I run, we spend roughly 80 percent of our time researching social media trends for our customers and only 20 percent creating posts according to them.

And this is not just about checking trending hashtags. We analyze the competitors, we check what works for them and what doesn’t and we always seize opportunities to take over when they slack off.

It’s more about social media marketing than social media management – as it should have been from the start. You can think about this as similar to the newest Google algorithm updates that I wrote about at length in my previous articles. Search engines have started to really put the user first. Consequently, human-centric content is the one that performs best in SERPs. No more keyword stuffing, no more meaningless content. Professional content writers and publishers need to focus on offering actual value instead of promotional junk.

The same goes for social media content. Instead of thinking “how can I promote my business better on Facebook?” think “what would my Facebook audience want to see?”

Answer this question and your Facebook strategy is half done. As long as you put the customer or end user first, no algorithm change can (completely) kill your social media presence.

Conclusion

Social listening will be even more important as organic reaches decrease in Facebook. Some predict that 2018 will mark the end of Facebook organic reach.

As the old saying goes, you should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. In a nutshell: spruce up your social listening skills and tools, start creating more valuable content and…put aside a few bucks for buying Facebook ads. You know, just in case these predictions turn out to be accurate.

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