If being online is a part of your business strategy, you need more than a quality, user-friendly website. You need smart SEO.

When a person conducts an online search using words related to your business, SEO increases the likelihood that your website is listed at the top of the results. It allows you to reach a greater audience online — but only if it’s done correctly. Start by understanding some key strategies insiders use to ensure both humans and search engines like your website.


Use strategic website organization

Create a list of relevant keywords and use them strategically throughout the website. This is a good strategy, as long as you play by the rules.

Search engines seek to match the most useful and relevant information. To maintain integrity, search engines change algorithms frequently to outsmart “schemers” who find loopholes.

When changes occur, websites can be penalized with lower result rankings.

Incorporate relevant keywords in page titles, body copy and metadata. Titles and meta descriptions typically appear in the search results. When searches include keywords that match your page title and description, those words appear in bold, helping your page stand out.

Dedicate each Web page to one topic, product type or service. This ensures when a keyword is searched the most relevant Web page within your site pops up. It increases the likelihood users will click the link and find what they need.

It also helps decrease bounces — when a visitor immediately leaves a Web page — which search engines use to consider how long visitors stay engaged on your website.

Label images

Images should include relevant keywords in image titles, descriptions and alternative text. Proper alternate text helps with SEO and even provides sight-impaired Internet users an understanding of images, enabling them to more easily navigate your website.


Start a company blog

A company blog provides a platform to consistently post high-interest, industry-related content. This attracts audiences who search on a topic that may not otherwise be represented. It is a good practice to focus on one topic for a single post and include relevant keywords within the title, body copy and meta description.

Link your website to other sites

A well linked website shows search engines that a site is trustworthy. Claim your listings in reputable online directories, referral sites, review sites (Yelp, Google+), and reputable trade and news organizations and associations. Add a website link in company social media profiles, and include keywords in profile copy and content.


Invest in search engine marketing

If your website is new or you want to add to your SEO, consider advertising on search engines. Search engine marketing helps your website appear above or on the side of search results as an advertisement, so your company has exposure, even if your website isn’t in the organic search results.

SEM has a unique set of best practices, so use a certified associate or agency to handle an online advertising campaign.


These steps will increase relevant website traffic. Being diligent in reviewing website analytics and maintaining optimization best practices assures your website is being found.



Kelly Borth is the CEO and chief strategy officer at GREENCREST, a 23-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Kelly has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S.

How to reach: (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com or www.greencrest.com.

Learn more about GREENCREST at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/GREENCRESTMarketing
Twitter: @GreenCrest

Published in Columnist

Although social media has become mainstream practice for businesses, many executives are still uncertain how to put their best foot forward with social media strategy.

If done right, social media is the perfect platform to give your brand a personality, and build brand affinity and awareness. It requires clear objectives and a smart strategy in order to engage the right audience with the right messages.

As a marketing professional, I’ve witnessed the success in building online relationships, increasing social media website referrals, receiving valuable feedback from customers and generating leads. By instilling social media best practices, you, too, can reap the benefits — no matter your industry.


Create a social media-marketing plan

To begin, perform an audit and run a competitive analysis of your social media profiles and activity.

Next, develop a plan. Having a strategic social media-marketing plan is what sets great social media campaigns apart from campaigns that waste time and dollars.

Know your audience so you can post content they will find interesting, helpful or entertaining. What are your social media goals and objectives? Are you looking to increase your brand awareness or website traffic? Do you want to increase social media conversions and sales leads?


Brand your profiles

It’s important that you stay professional and on-brand — even on social media.

Take advantage of all the opportunities each platform offers businesses to brand themselves. Design an attractive and professional Facebook cover photo, Twitter background or LinkedIn banner consistent with your website and off-line marketing materials.


Develop content

When it’s time to develop content, there are a few social media best practices to remember:

1. Create a content schedule. When you create a schedule that designates when to post different types of content, you can develop content more quickly. Your audience will begin to expect certain posts on specific days. So, you might post a special offer on Mondays, a helpful tip on Tuesdays and behind-the-scenes pictures on Fridays.

2. Post daily. Many companies believe that posting once or twice a week is sufficient, but it dramatically reduces the people you’re reaching. Not everyone is online at the same time or when your post is made — a typical post has a lifespan of 30 minutes.

Some B2B businesses can get away with posting once per day, but most should post three to five times per day. Also know which hours your audience is online. Generally, business professionals are on social media before the workday, during lunchtime and after the workday.

However, LinkedIn may garner some relevant traffic during the workday, and Pinterest usually sees the best engagement late morning and mid-afternoon.

3. Don’t oversell or undersell. Apply the 80/20 rule when posting content and sales messages. Make sure 80 percent of posts focus on engaging your audience, such as asking questions and including a call-to-action. Your sales and promotional messages should make up about 20 percent of content.

4. Make it fun. After all, you’re on a “social” network. People are looking for content that is entertaining, informative or interesting. And most importantly, they’re looking for content that’s relevant to your business!


Adhering to these best practices will lay a good foundation for your social networking and engagement efforts — and lead to the results you want.


Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 23-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com or on Twitter @brandpro. For more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

 

Learn more about GREENCREST at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/GREENCRESTMarketing
Twitter: @GreenCrest

Published in Columnist

As anyone in business or sales will tell you, first impressions are everything. Initial judgments are made within four seconds, and finalized within 30.

As business owners, we’re concerned with the image we’re sending our target markets, how employees represent our companies and how potential customers perceive our offices or stores. Studies have shown that first impressions are hard to shake — even if a person’s later experiences with a company contradict it.

Have you thought of your website as a first impression of your business? It’s increasingly becoming the first interaction potential customers have with your business. In fact, 75 percent of Web users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on website design alone.

There are many ways to improve your company’s website and deliver a credible first impression online:


Create visually appealing design

Design matters. The visual appeal of a website has a major influence on a company’s credibility and a person’s first impression. Ensure that the design is consistent with off-line branded materials. Use your brand’s color pallet and typography.

Be sure that the font is appealing and easy to read, and support your message with photos and images. Your website should have a recognizable, organized layout that remains consistent.

Utilize user-friendly navigation

A user needs to be able to easily understand where to find the specific information he or she is looking for. Your website’s navigation should be clear, visible and consistent throughout. You also should incorporate a visual cue that tells users what page they are on.

But, don’t offer too many choices in the navigation bar — this overwhelms users, who will quickly leave. Try to keep it under 10 choices.

Develop quality content

The information on your website should make both search engines and your target audience happy. You have about 20 to 30 seconds to capture users’ attention before they leave the page. Your content should be thorough, concise, current and organized efficiently. It also should be grammatically correct.

To drive more traffic through search engines, use your company’s keywords when they make sense and properly label all images. Remember that search engines typically can’t read text in images or dynamic programming like JavaScript, so avoid placing critical information in those items.

Improve design functionality

About 40 percent of people will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. A slow loading time is often because of oversized images. Reducing the file size and compressing the images can fix this.

You also should ensure the website experience is virtually the same on any browser. Today, it’s necessary to have a mobile website compatible on phones and tablets. Mobile searches increased 400 percent over last year, and mobile Web usage is expected to exceed desktop by the end of this year.

Responsive design will arrange your content so it displays nicely — no matter the size of the screen.

Your website establishes a strong and lasting first impression on potential customers. When you incorporate appealing aesthetics, user-friendly navigation, quality content and design functionality, you create a better first impression.

Having a well-designed and well-built website can grow your business. So, make a great first impression and enjoy increased traffic and potential customer leads.

 

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 23-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com or on Twitter @brandpro. For more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/SBN_KellyBorth
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GREENCRESTMarketing
Twitter (company): @GreenCrest
LinkedIn (company): http://www.linkedin.com/company/68562?trk=pro_other_cmpy
Blog: http://www.brandproblog.com/

Published in Columnist

Media relations opportunities have greatly expanded. With nearly all publications having a print and online version of each issue, e-newsletters that get distributed daily or weekly, blogs and information repositories on the websites, a reporter’s need for quality information to share with his or her readers is insatiable.

What hasn’t changed is a reporter’s desire to convey a story with a degree of exclusivity. Reading the publications you are targeting and understanding the audience from the reporter’s point of view will help you create unique storylines for publications.

Information sharing

Send reporters your case studies, white papers, product releases, research results, photographs and videos. Be sure your content is reliable, appropriate and factual — that rule isn’t likely to ever change, nor would we want it to. You want to be a respected resource and in good standing with the media. Be accessible to reporters when they call — this means as soon as possible and within the same day. If you don’t know the answer to a question, either offer to find the answer or refer them to someone who can provide it. It is a team effort — you need them and they need you.

Optimizing content

Optimize your content for online sharing with live links to images, videos, more in-depth research reports, product information and the like. This helps reporters with their due diligence and the same holds true for readers.

Mobile technology demands an easy, reader-friendly linking strategy that keeps the viewer engaged. Whether a user is using a computer, tablet or phone, the information you submit should provide links to the depth of information readers need. Use online distribution service bureaus to get your information to interested parties.

Accessible information

A best practice that I have always encouraged is the creation of a company press kit. Providing a factual document on the company reduces the amount of research and time a reporter may need to spend. It also improves the margin of error by giving the reporter a factual document to go by.

A company press kit should be easily accessible online along with images of founders, products and other helpful graphics. Reporters work on tight deadlines so anything you can do to minimize their time in telling your story, the better.

Create your own content

One of the biggest changes the Internet brought to the public relations profession is the ability for businesses to publish information of its own. Today, businesses can start online publications, which generally begin with blogs and enewsletters and include social media such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter among others.

Web and social media sites are repositories of information about products or services, success stories, white papers, press releases, videos, PowerPoint presentations and so on. Limiting access to this information hinders online engagement.

Instead provide a snip-it or synopsis of unrestricted information to enhance trust and engagement before requiring personal information for full access. Add social media sharing buttons to your sites to make it easy for people to share your information within their social media circles.

Open communication

Having and maintaining relationships with reporters is still important. Consider the media as you would your most influential client. It takes effort to get noticed and once you do, the courtship has only just begun.

Stay in touch and keep media contacts “in the know.” They may not always be interested in what you send their way, but they will appreciate you keeping them informed.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 22-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com, @brandpro or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

 

 

Published in Columnist