Freebie Friday Gift – Search Engine Optimization How-To

Freebie Friday - SEO Basics Report

It’s Freebie Friday, and today I’m going to share with you a report on search engine optimization. This report is actually an adaptation from a presentation I created when I was asked to teach a seminar on SEO to area online newspaper editors.

Download your free copy by clicking here – Search Engine Optimization

Questions to Answer When Telling Your Business Story

Telling the story of your business

Sharing the story of your business with your readers helps “humanize” your company. This is one of the reasons many large corporations began blogging. But sometimes it’s hard to figure out exactly what to say about your business, so I’m going to share with you a list of questions to answer.

  • Name of your business – Is there a story behind your business name?
  • Location of your business – Was there a particular reason you chose your location?
  • When did your business open?
  • What type of goods and/or services do you offer and why?
  • What prompted you to begin your business?
  • What is your business’s mission? What inspired you to choose that?
  • What makes your business unique from others in your market?
  • What do your customers like most about your business?
  • What has helped to make your business successful?
  • What is unique about your products and/or services? How do they benefit your customers?
  • What impact has your business had within your local community?
  • What special events do you sponsor or host each year and why?
  • What is your slogan or tagline? Why did you choose that motto?

These questions should help get you started as you share the story of your business. Again, this isn’t something you’ll put all in one blog post or article, but drip feed content about your business by interspersing it within your regular content.

For instance, if you’re writing a story about industry-related travel and something you did or saw on a trip inspired an element of your business, share that snippet of your business’s story within that particular piece of content.

Go through the above list and use the questions to brainstorm ideas for content that will be relevant and useful to your audience but at the same time, shed some light about you and your business. Let them get to know you so they’ll like you and trust you.

So, what about you? Care to answer any of the above questions in the comments section and share with the rest of us?


How to Conduct a Social Media Audit – Part 2

Conducting a social media audit

Part One of our How to Conduct a Social Media Audit covered the topics of setting up a website, blog, and getting started with email marketing. Now that we’ve established our marketing home base, we’ll move on to the actual social media platforms themselves, starting with Twitter.

Winning with Twitter

As you conduct your social media audit, take a look at your Twitter setup and check the following things:

  • Is your background branded consistently with your website theme (colors, logo, etc.)?
  • Is your bio worded the same as your bios on other social media platforms?
  • Are you tweeting a mixture of relevant content? In other words, some links to your blog posts, some retweets, some links to other content of interest to your audience?
  • Are you engaging your audience? Tips:
    • Use Twitter’s search function to find conversations relevant to your market and join in the conversation by providing useful information.
    • Respond to all @replies and thank those who have retweeted your content.
    • Offer perks available only to your followers.
    • Use relevant hashtags or even create a hashtag for your brand. For instance, I have begun using the hashtag #OBW, for OnBloggingWell.
  • Are you building your list of followers?
    • Follow back all those who directly engage with you by retweeting your content, etc.
    • Use the search tool to find people in your market and follow them.
    • It’s not recommended to use auto-following tools, so if you’re doing that, you may want to stop and clean up your list of people you’ve followed by narrowing it to only those who are relevant to your market.
  • Are you creating lists and thanking those who include your tweets on their lists?
  • Are you using a social media management tool, such as HootSuite, to schedule your tweets and keep you organized?
  • Are you coordinating your tweets with your content marketing calendar so that your blog posts, Facebook and LinkedIn updates, and tweets are all following the same topic?
  • Are your tweets conversational?
  • Do you sometimes offer insight into who you are personally?
  • Do you share “re-tweetable” content, such as relevant and/or inspirational quotes?
  • Are you asking people to retweet your posts and leaving enough characters for them to do so?

What else do we need to add to this list of things to check Twitter-wise when conducting a social media audit?

Blog Maintenance Checklist Part 5

How to keep your blog secure

Today we’ll conclude the Blog Maintenance Checklist with a post about how to secure your blog. Before we get to that, let’s recap what we’ve gone through so far in this series:

Some of those posts have touched on security, especially the posts about keeping WordPress and plugins updated and the post on making regular backups. Today, I’m going to share with you some plugins I use on client sites to keep them secure and some other ways you can beef up your blog’s security.

  • First of all, when you get WordPress installed, create a new administrator using a strong password. Then, delete the default admin account. You’ll need to log out of your dashboard before you can delete the user you’re logged in as. And make sure you’ve saved your strong password somewhere so you will be able to log in as the new user you just created.
  • Make sure you keep WordPress and all plugins up-to-date.
  • Next, move the config.php file from the root directory. You can use an FTP client such as FileZilla to do this. Log into Filezilla using the same username and password you used to get into your domain’s cPanel. Then, in the public_html folder, locate the config.php file. (You’ll want to make a complete backup of your site using BackupBuddy before you start messing around with this type of stuff. Just sayin’.) Then download the config.php file onto your desktop. Delete it from where it is in the public_html folder, and then place the one you saved into the top level of the domain (in other words, in the same directory as the public_html folder instead of inside that folder). Check your site to make sure everything still works. If you made a mistake when you moved the file, import your site again using ImportBuddy.
  • Download and install the Better WP Security plugin. Again, make sure you have a fresh backup before performing any security measures on your site. Some security plugins require the ability to access files that can cause issues, so make sure you’re prepared in case the plugin doesn’t work correctly. I haven’t had any trouble with it, but there may be compatibility issues with this plugin and another plugin you have installed or even the theme you’re using. It probably won’t happen, but be prepared just in case. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all security fix, but it comes very close. This plugin has a comprehensive dashboard that gives a color-coded snapshot of security issues that need to be addressed. Be sure to read all the features on the plugin’s site. This is a free download.
  • Ultimate Security Checker – this plugin scans your site for security threats and gives a point-based score to let you know how you’re doing as well as a list of things to change and how to change them. The plugin developer also sells tools that will automatically fix your site’s security issues, but if you’re a bit tech savvy, you can do it yourself. The plugin itself is free.

Like most unsavory characters, hackers tend to prey on easy targets. While no site is 100 percent completely safe from the best hackers (even banks and government sites have been hacked), if you take these precautions mentioned, you’ll be in a harder-to-hack category, which should discourage most would-be hackers from bothering you.

But again, your best defense against a potential attack is to keep a fresh backup handy. That way you can be up and running again within a matter of minutes with little or no frustration. I know BackupBuddy is expensive, but in my experience, it’s worth it.

This concludes our Blog Maintenance Checklist series. Do you have anything to add to our list? Please share your ideas in the comments section.


Marketing Monday – Social Media Checklist Infographic

social media checklist

It’s Marketing Monday and today I’m sharing with you an infographic of a handy social media checklist. We’ve been talking a LOT about the importance of social media in growing your online presence, so this tool will be a great help as you develop a social content marketing strategy. It’s like having your whole social media strategy rolled into one handy spot.

The “Sensible Social Media Checklist” infographic was developed by The Whole Brain Group, and, as the title states, it’s a sensible way to use social media to promote your business.

If social media takes us all day, then what’s the point, really?

As you’ll notice in the infographic, all the most popular social media sites are included. Plus, the first item on the checklist is to create a blog post. As I’ve mentioned over and over again, your blog should be the hub of your marketing strategy.

So, let’s recap the social media checklist:

  • Start your marketing plan by publishing a blog post (using whichever keyword you’ve chosen to target) and after you publish it, post the link on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Use a link shortener to track your clicks.
  • Facebook business marketing plan: Find and like 5 related pages, post about 2 topics of interest to your audience. You can either share content from all those pages you’ve been finding and liking or post original stuff. Mix it up. Don’t forget to update your business page’s status daily, and ask others to like and share your content.
  • Twitter business marketing plan: Tweet at least three new tweets per day about interesting and fun things your audience will be interested in. This is in addition to the links to your blog you already posted. Also, retweet at least two items you find that will be useful to your readers. Use hashtags to let others find your tweets. To grow your following, follow 10 new people each week.
  • LinkedIn business marketing plan: Connect with 3-5 new people each week. Follow three new companies related to your industry. Update your company’s profile and status, and post relevant blog posts in the groups you belong to. Then ask your groups for feedback. And while you’re asking, it never hurts to ask for endorsements. Ask 1-2 people each week for an endorsement. Don’t forget your manners and thank those who recommend you.
  • Google+ business marketing plan: Add five new people to your circles each week. Offer a monthly hangout session on a topic relevant to your market and promote it via Google+ events. Share new content twice each day to your personal profile and company page. Oh, and make sure your posts are set to “public” so you can grow your audience.
  • Pinterest business marketing plan: Pin images of your company’s products and/or services. Add a new board with at least 6 new pins each week. Be sure to use your target keywords in the descriptions and titles of your content. (Note: You don’t have to create all the content yourself on these pins – repin related content from your fellow pinners.) Follow 5 interesting boards each week from pinners related to your business.
  • YouTube business marketing plan: Subscribe to three industry-related channels each week. Find three industry-related videos each week and share them on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. See if you can mix in some fun (but still relevant) videos to share. Create and post videos regularly (at least monthly, more often if possible) that showcase your expertise in your field. When you’re hosting or attending industry events, shoot short videos (including interviews of other attendees or presenters) to share on your YouTube channel. Don’t forget to optimize your YouTube videos with keywords in the titles and give a keyword-rich description.

Click on the image to view it full-sized over at the Whole Brain Group’s site. And while you’re there, you can download a printable version of the social media checklist infographic. Thanks, Whole Brain Group, for sharing this cool and useful tool with the rest of us!

WBG Sensible SocialMediaChecklist v2.0 Sensible Social Media Checklist for Business v.2.0 [INFOGRAPHIC]
Courtesy of: The Whole Brain Group