The Basics of writing articles for online marketing

Writing articles is a great way to increase your visibility on the web. Article directories (places you can submit your article, and have it picked up for syndication or reprint) used to rank very well in the search engines, and still carry some weight. And posting your own articles there means that you increase the number of places you can be found on the web, as well as increasing the number of incoming links to your website through your resource box. Additionally, having lots of content (in the form of articles as well as videos, audios and more), is a great way to significantly increase your presence on social media sites.

Want to take advantage of the power of article marketing, but aren’t sure how to write web-friendly articles? Here are some great resources on how to write good articles that can be used in your newsletter, on your blog and can be submitted to article directories:

5 Basics to Article Writing

Writing Persuasive Articles

Feature Article Writing – Uncover 4 Incredible Feature Article Writing Tips

Article Writing Solutions – Discover 4 Effective Secrets to Multiply the Number of Your Articles

Using Blogging to Build Your Online Presence

About a year and a half ago, I was part of the Summer Speakers Series, and spoke on Blogging for Business. In the spirit of the season, I decided to give away the audio to share with everyone, in case you missed it! Here’s what we covered…

With all the other online marketing buzzwords floating around, it’s easy to forget about blogging, or to write it off for the next new thing. Don’t! This presentation shows you why you need a blog now more than ever.

Using Blogging to Build Your Online Presence will cover:

  • Why blog?
  • Blogging platforms
  • Ways to take advantage of multiple streams of content to save time and write less
  • Creating a blog that is a strong base for all your other social networking and social media activities
  • Promoting your blog

You’ll walk away with a complete understanding of how to best set up your blog. As a bonus you’ll also receive the Blogger’s Rolodex, a complete list of resources and tools to take full advantage of the marketing power a blog can bring to your business, and Blogging 101 and Beyond, a complete guide to using the WordPress Dashboard.

Listen now…

[audio:http://www.marketinggeeksinc.com/audios/Blogging-to-build-online-presence.mp3]

And as promised, here are the two documents promised!

Blogging Rolodex

WordPress 101

A spring cleaning challenge for your marketing – part 2

Last Friday, I gave you step one of my 2 part Spring Cleaning Challenge for your online marketing. If you didn’t see it, check out Part 1 here:

Hopefully, you’ve taken the time to go through and do that. Not only is it just good practice to look through your site every so often, it may remind you of things you started, but didn’t finish, or ideas you had that are primed for execution now!

Item 2:

Go, right now, and take a look at the analytics or stats for your website and blog. And if you don’t have some sort of analytics set up, we need to fix that.   Pronto!    Please!!

Look closely at what your highest sources of traffic are.  Can you do more with them? For example, if you are getting a high number of visitors from Twitter, maybe you could spend some more time there, and phase out another site that isn’t even showing on your traffic sources right now.

Or, if you’re getting a lot of traffic from a few articles you submitted months ago, maybe now is the time to put a specific article marketing strategy into place, and generate lots more traffic through the regular submission of fresh articles.

Or maybe, you’re getting traffic from a collection of websites and blogs of people you know, work with, or that are affiliates of yours. This is a great one, because it’s quick and easy to deepen the relationship, and generate more traffic from the same sites. You can do this through regularly commenting on their blogs, starting conversations with them in social media, becoming a guest contributor to their blog (you already know their audience is interested in your content!), or simply asking them! A quick email is a great ice-breaker. All you need to say is that you’ve noticed a lot of traffic coming through from their site, and you wanted to thank them for it. You can offer to guest post for them, or suggest that there may be the potential for a Joint Venture between the two of you. And if they’re affiliates of yours already, just ask them what they would like in order to promote you better, and earn more commissions.

Finally, once you know where the highest sources of traffic are, take a good hard look at where you’re spending your time. If you spend hours every week writing articles, but don’t see article directories as a major traffic source, maybe that time would be better spent somewhere else.  This isn’t about creating more tasks for you to do (because almost all of them will probably offer some value to you), it’s about knowing where the biggest return on your time investment is, and focusing your efforts there.

Have you been struggling with figuring out your analytics, creating a
system to automate some of your marketing tasks, or any other  Marketing
Tech headache? Got a question and wish you could just pick the brain of
someone that works with blogs, social media and shopping carts all day
long? Join our next Marketing Tech Q & A call! For only $17, you get
access to our hour-long Q & A call where you can ask all those questions
that have been bubbling around in your brain!
Check it out at www.marketinggeeksinc.com/marketing-tech-qa

Have you been struggling with figuring out your analytics, creating a system to automate some of your marketing tasks, or any other  Marketing Tech headache? Got a question and wish you could just pick the brain of someone that works with blogs, social media and shopping carts all day long? Join our next Marketing Tech Q & A call! For only $17, you get access to our hour-long Q & A call where you can ask all those questions that have been bubbling around in your brain!

A spring cleaning challenge for your marketing – part 1

This is it, only mine is white!

This is it, only mine is white!

This past weekend, I got super excited when I happened to find the absolutely perfect kitchen “island cart” at one of my favorite stores. My kitchen is on the smaller side, and we don’t have a ton of cabinet space, so I’ve been looking for “just the right” piece of furniture for my kitchen for a long time. So when I found one that was just perfect, you know I snatched it up and raced home with it! I then spent a good portion of my weekend (which was rainy and cold, by the way – spring has left Michigan for the moment!) completely reorganizing my kitchen.

While I didn’t see this particular episode as spring cleaning (it was more excitement!), I think that spring still gets a lot of us in a mood to clean things up and refresh our surroundings.

And if now is a good time to get rid of old winter clothes that no longer fit, it’s also a great time to freshen up your website, your online presence and your marketing.

Just like clothes in your closet, there are probably tasks in your marketing plan that no longer fit and serve your business. And at the same time, there might be a buried treasure hiding under all the junk – something you’ve forgotten about or didn’t know you had in the first place!

You may be spending lots of time on a social networking site that no longer has the audience you’re wanting to connect with. Or maybe your business has evolved, and you’re still getting traffic to your website, but have never checked to see where it’s coming from. And if you don’t know where you’re getting interested visitors from, how in the world can you go out and get more?

So here is a little Spring Cleaning Challenge for you:

Item 1:

Go through your website carefully, and make sure it’s up to date. While things like copyrights, email addresses and phone numbers may seem obvious (and please get at least those right!), look at things like

  • Is your pricing current?
  • Do you have events listed that are way old?
  • For those events that are over, do you have recordings? If so, are they available? If not, now’s a great time to make those available for download – either free or paid. Look, we just created a fresh new freebie or product!
  • Do your newsletter/autoresponder signups and website contact forms work?
  • Is your bio current? Check your website, as well as your social media profiles, article directory sites, and anywhere else you have yourself listed.

On Monday, I’ll give you part 2. But over the weekend, take a look at your website and get that current!

GetSocial for more social media sharing

Now, we’ve already added social bookmarking links to your posts in Step 4, but today we’re gong to add in another plugin, GetSocial which will utilize a few other social media sharing methods.

The GetSocial plugin does the job of 3 plugins I used to use -

  • adds the TweetMeMe retweet button (which encourages people to retweet your blog post)
  • adds the Facebook share button (which makes it easy for people to share your post to their Facebook wall)
  • adds a Google Buzz button (so users of Google Buzz can easily “buzz” your post)
  • plus it adds a StumbleUpon button (to encourage visitors to stumble your post)

And it does it all in one simple, floating GetSocial box.

To install the GetSocial plugin, just visit your Plugins menu, do a search for “GetSocial”, and click Install. From there, just go to Settings –> GetSocial to add your Twitter username. If you find that you don’t like where the button is located on your site, you can also control positioning from this screen as well.

Now that your site is set up for maximum Search Engine-findability and Social Media-sharability, it’s up to you to create great content that your visitors and the search engines will love! If content creation is something you really struggle with, feel free to check out my Social Media Content Creation Kit.

WordPress Privacy – Don’t Shoot Yourself In the Foot!

Today’s tip is going to be super-simple to implement, if it’s even necessary for your site. But it’s one of those really simple, but REALLY important things that if done wrong, can have major consequences on your search engine traffic (or lack-thereof).

You may not know it, but in WordPress, you can actually tell the search engines NOT to visit or index your site. I guess this is for people that want to do a private blog. Many people aren’t aware of this because it’s something they would never think of – “Why wouldn’t I want the search engines to find my site??”

But unfortunately, certain web hosting companies that offer Fantastico or a one-click WordPress install occasionally set the built in default to keep your site private. BAD! This means you are telling the search engines that you don’t want them to go through your site or put it in the search engine results.

To check this on your site, login to your Dashboard, and go to Settings –> Privacy.

It should be set to:
“I would like my blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Sphere, Technorati) and archivers”

If it’s not, change it! This should immediately help you start to see more traffic. If it’s correct, good!

As I said, today’s tip may not be necessary for you, but if you have it wrong, you’ll definitely see improvements just with that one simple change.

Deepen connections by greeting visitors by the site they came from!

Have you ever wished you could create a personalized message for readers that came from a certain site? For example, if a reader clicked through from Facebook, would you really like to suggest that they check out your fan page? Now you can! WP Greet Box is a WordPress plugin that can identify the site a new visitor is coming FROM, and display a custom message! It’s pretty easy to setup, and offers many different social networking and social bookmarking sites, so the ones you and your target market are active on should be on there. There’s a quick walk-through video below on setting up and using WP Greet Box

The nice thing is that there are default greetings built in, so you don’t have to come up with something clever to say for each site that you’d like to use. But, the even nicer thing is that if you DO want to personalize the greeting, you have that ability too.

One final note – it’s pretty easy to setup and get going with, but make sure you add in your profile link to all the social networking sites you choose to use – that way they can click through and connect directly with you there, too! Oh, and feel free to deactivate any that you aren’t familiar with. Just places less load on your site, and keeps things cleaner and neater in the backend. If you’d like additional documentation on using more advanced features, check out the WP Greet Box tutorial here.

Get better SEO by tagging your photos and videos

In coaching my clients (and in my Social Media Content Creation Kit) I encourage taking advantage of the power of already-created content, like YouTube videos, articles, etc.

I also have many clients and readers that would much rather record a video (or create a photo montage) than sit down and write up an article for their blog – the power of video is amazing, and this is a great way to market yourself online. But there is a downside!

Videos and photos give you absolutely no SEO benefit. It’s kind of like creating a project for school, only to find out you didn’t earn any credit for it!

The reason is that search engine spiders cannot watch a video or see a photo – if there’s no text on the post, they have NO idea what the post is about. And so they have no reason to index it. Search engines are all about providing good content in their search results and in their eyes, you don’t have any content on that post.

So how do you earn SEO credit from your videos and photos?

By making sure you appropriately tag them, as well as your blog posts.

People new to blogging are often confused by tags, so here is a quick explanation – tags are simply keywords! You can tag your post, you can tag your images, you can tag your videos on YouTube and other videos sites, etc. So how do you make tags your new best friend for better SEO?

  • Take advantage of the “Post Tags” field in your WordPress blog to add keywords that will tell the search engines what the post is about
  • Make sure you have “alt tags” for all your photos. In WordPress, this is really easy to do! While you’re Inserting a photo, add some keywords or a description of the post to the “Caption” field and voila! You’ve tagged your photo and given the search engine a better idea of what the post is about (note: describing the photo itself is not very search engine helpful – do you really want the search engines to think your post is about a “business woman drinking coffee”, or something like that? No! So use keywords from your post – what the picture symbolizes for the post)
  • If you upload your videos to YouTube (or other video sites) and embed from there, then take advantage of YouTube’s tag feature. It will help for search engine friendliness on their site. But on your own site, you will also want to add a quick sentence describing what the video is about, and why someone should watch it. One - because search engines can’t watch the video for themselves. And two - because the video won’t come through in your RSS feed or in someone’s email, and you want to encourage them to come back to your site and actually watch the video.

This doesn’t mean that you have to give up video blogging since you have to write anyway. One simple sentence is enough to at least give the search engines info on what the post is about so they can index it. And there really is power in video. So just be sure to take that extra step of tagging your photos, videos and posts, and you should start to see improved SEO in no time!

Creating a Google-friendly Sitemap

A very basic way to explain “SEO” or Search Engine Optimization, is that you are trying to make your site as easy to read and understand as possible for the search engines spiders. Ideally, you want them to visit your site regularly in order to update the search engine listings, you want them to be able to tell exactly what your site is about, and to visit all the deep posts and pages within your sites so you have as many search engine listings as possible.

A very easy way to do this is to use the Google XML Sitemap plugin to generate a sitemap for your site that Google spiders will love! This step, as you can see in the video, literally only takes 2 minutes to set up. If you go on to set up an account with Google Webmaster Tools (which is a great idea), that may take just a few minutes more. But having a sitemap makes it super easy for Google spiders to find all the pages on your website quickly, and be alerted when there’s something new.

How to add snazzy social media icons to your site

Do you have your social media profiles on your website? Hopefully so, because just like offering a freebie or free-taste on your website, it’s a great way to encourage readers to connect with you in a casual, non-salesy way. This lets them get to know you and your expertise without any pressure to immediately become a client. And it helps you build that KLT (Know, Like and Trust) factor that is so important online.

So today’s post is going to show you how to add those snazzy Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn buttons you’ve seen around, to make it easy for readers to find your social media presences, and connect with you there too!

To start with, you need to find some icons you like! Now a word of warning – just because you find an image online doesn’t necessarily mean you can grab it and use it on your site – things like that can get you in trouble! So you want to start with a source that you know offers the right to reuse on your website. My particular favorite is www.iconspedia.com, or you can visit www.twitter.com/goodies to generate the html code AND link and save yourself one step. You can also do a search on Google for free social networking icons.

Once you find icons you like, go ahead and download to your computer.

The next step is to generate html code for the image, as well as the link to your profile. If you’re not familiar with writing html code, the easiest way to do this is to go into your Edit Post screen on WordPress, and Upload the image.

upload

Once you have the icon in your post, select it by clicking on it, then use the Insert Link button to add a link to your profile – should like something like this  http://www.facebook.com/rebeccazwar?ref=profile or this http://www.twitter.com/rebeccazwar

Now, all you need to do is switch to the HTML tab, and copy ALL the html code you see!

It should look like this:

The very last step is to go into Appearances –> Widgets, and drag a new Text Widget onto your sidebar. You can name it something like “Connect With Me”, then you just paste your html code into the box, click Save, and VOILA! You can check out your new icons!