Advice from social media and SEO expert Lisa Weinberger

Originally published on TechRepublic. Interview by Nicole Nash.

During a very busy travel year, training internal teams and speaking at conferences, this interview was completed on a 6-hour plane ride.

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If you want to integrate SEO into your social media strategy, read this interview to learn one expert’s approach. She also reveals her favorite analytics, SEO, and social media tools.

Continue reading “Advice from social media and SEO expert Lisa Weinberger”

How to Use Google Voice Search for SEO

how-use-google-voice-search-seo

When Google updates their homepage, switches how the search results are shown, or adds a stronger focus on voice search, as an SEO, I am never quite sure how it will affect my sites. Sometimes there is no change in our analytics, other times there is a slight bump and then there is doubling traffic month over month consistently for five months.

Some may know, I launched a personal finance website for the cannabis community a few years ago with my business partner. Through many phases, we settled on MarijuanaRates.com which is a free search comparison tool for consumers with analysis completed and delivered through editorial.

With cannabis not being federally regulated, banking can pose a challenge though each legalized state has come a long way with new merchant companies for the cannabis industry, to enable their service to be used in transactions; making it a bit safer for cannabis employees. Having a mainly cash business is a problem and hasn’t been fully solved, but there are many smart, determined individuals in the industry working hard to solve the dangers of this process. Also due to the federal laws, no paid search is allowed which means all our traffic is through organic rankings and outreach.

Voice Search Results

It was a Friday night in March, while I was discussing with my husband about how our traffic jumped up and couldn’t pinpoint the exact channel since it kept showing direct. He decided to “ask Google” about the prices of coffeemakers. Yes, we tend to have multiple topic conversations as we needed to buy a new one…. Google “gave” the answer about the Black & Decker coffeemaker price and visualize the lightbulb above my head turning on.

I screamed, “Ask Google How much is an ounce of Sour Diesel?” and BAM, Google’s answer to us, “According to MarijuanaRates.com…”

sour-diesel-google-answer-box

 

I screamed again (not that I couldn’t ask Google myself), “How much is an ounce of OG Kush?” Again! “According to MarijuanaRates.com…”og-kush-google-answer-box

This went on for easily an hour, asking all different questions and I screamed with excitement. Our daughter thought something was wrong as I explained to her, No, it’s just mommy and daddy’s business doing something amazing!

blue-dream-google-answer-box

We knew we had captured the Google Answer boxes months prior for much of our editorial pieces, but didn’t realize that when voice search began increasing, it also meant we were the site who gave the answer to the searcher’s query verbally! Not only in Google but all voice search in Siri, Bing and Alexa (yup we checked!).

In the past few months of monitoring our captured answer boxes, we have seen a few changes:

  1. Our featured image has been shown, then not shown, then shown again.
  2. Recently, Google is showing images from other sites but using our data and information for the answer.
  3. Originally the answer box was showing our charts aka rate tables for the answer and have switched to grabbing the actually written editorial as the answer. Not the rich snippet.
  4. Depending on the day, time of day, week, location; sometimes we hold the top ranking but Google doesn’t show the answer box.
  5. Sometimes the answer box will pull information from a different amount blog posting and then fix itself.

How do we use Google voice search in our SEO strategy? Continue to analyze what our community searches for and answer their queries through continued data acquisition, content creation and outreach. By working our cannabis business, where the main source of traffic has to be organically driven, taking the experience and knowledge and applying it has been the greatest gift to us.

We are grateful for the many users and visitors to MarijuanRates.com. With 20k+ sessions, 18k+ users and over 105k+ page views since March, we continue to grow as the cannabis community welcomed us and we continue to build more consumer friendly tools to help with their budgeting needs. We wanted to share from March to present day, we have a great community, who spends time on our site and visits many pages, getting their questions answered and we couldn’t be happier with the results.

If you are a business interested in advertising on MarijuanaRates.com, please contact us and we can discuss our packages.

 

Directing Users to a Conversion Action

How many times have you been on a website and clicked back because there was no direction to the design madness?

A users first action is to search for an answer through Google, many times through mobile, and when the results populate in the SERP’s, the marketing copy seems to answer their inquiry so they click. Once they click, it’s a 50/50 shot that they actually receive the answer they were looking for. Or at least pointed in the direction where the answer may reside within the website.

Grabbing the User

Recently I was searching for a swim team for my daughter (who is quite the fish) so did a search for “swim team in Delray Beach“. In the SERP’s, my question was answered within seconds by the results.

FLASwim-SERPs

I clicked on the first result since the meta description answered my question, as well as had a local confirmed listing with the local map in the right rail. As a user, I felt this business was legit.

FLASwim-homepage

When I arrived at the website, I was happy to find a call to action, above the fold, scrolling module which advertised the latest programs and newest announcements. The site was up to date! There even is an offer of a free week all within seconds of landing on the home page of FLASwim.com.

Accessibility & Trust

Then I stayed on the site to find the information about swim team for my daughter, the days, times and costs all from the top navigation. The site isn’t cluttered or directing me into 20 different places. The mobile version is using the same positive aspects so the consistency between both the desktop and mobile versions brings a trust to the user.

Of course my favorite part I saw, below the fold, are their multiple Twitter streams and Facebook community!

FLASwim-SocialStreams

If I was to do a Content and Social Media assessment on this site, I would suggest not directing their Twitter community to their Facebook page, but create content that directs the community to their site and add a G+ page to build up that community. But just my two cents…

Of course the next thing I would complete is a search on the business and reviews from other clients. If all this checks out and looks good, I will be a new client of this business.

It takes a few items to make a user feel trust when wanting to convert them into a client. It starts with:

  • findability,
  • answering the users question,
  • not having too many paths or choices,
  • directing the user to make a call or sign up.

When the presentation draws the user to stay on the site, it allows for building trust and the visitor to click around. Advertising your business online should be focused on converting the lead to take action. Make the user feel comfortable to transact.

Connect with Lisa Weinberger on Google+.

Interview: SEO and Social Media in TechRepublic

In the past few months, I have traveled to both coasts as well as overseas, and in between was asked by Nicole Nash for an interview about what I have been doing for a living since the mid-90’s, digital marketing. I had the pleasure of presenting at SMX West and PubCon NOLA about integrating SEO into your Content and Social Media tactics and strategies which was fun.

Interview at 30,000 Feet

In between all the business trips and flying, the interview was conducted. We spoke on the phone, questions were emailed to me while home for a few days, and after flying to California and back, the interview was finally completed and emailed from high up in the air over the Rockies.

The day I presented at PubCon NOLA, to my surprise, the interview on TechRepublic about my integrated marketing approach was published. Knowing Nicole since 2005, she and I not only grew together as colleagues, but as friends.

My Twitter notifications were blowing up and I wasn’t sure why.

Then when I saw the interview was published, and read what Nicole wrote, I was brought to tears. She was able to paint a picture of the trials and struggles I dealt with as a content business, holding to my high standards, back when clients wanted crap content. No one else but Nicole could have captured and recollected my experience the way she did.

The Past to Present

PearlyWrites started as a freelance writing project, and quickly turned into a full time business where we not only fulfilled content requests from clients but created and executed eLearning curriculum development, SEO, Content and Social Media strategies where still today, we train and support our clients. (As Nicole reminded me in the interview, we would call it “Organic SEO“.) We developed our network of reliable contractors when specific requests were made like building the GoHappyGoHojo(TM) website with a points of interest search function.

We continue to maintain our network today and still love to make connections amongst each other.

Read the full interview on TechRepublic about my SEO and Social Media approach.

A huge thanks to Nicole Nash for allowing me to share some of my knowledge and relive the beginning stages of my business.

Connect with Lisa Weinberger on Google+.

Content Promotion

To follow up to a comment we received about content promotion, I was asked about what doing offsite content promotion did for a reader’s energy efficiency blog.

They created a link wheel aka “Linkie” or “Super Duper Wheelie”, posted content on some directory sites, did a PR or two and received 50 back links to his blog from these efforts. If you figure from writing a few articles, making sure each are different and posting the articles throughout the Web to build your offsite links, the time you spent completing these efforts will help not only promote your content but also help with increasing your SEO ranking.

 

What other items have you found helped your content promotion efforts?

Content Promotion and Syndication

Are you aware that once you publish your content onto your website, blog or a directory that you have an opportunity to now promote and syndicate your words of wisdom? For many, the challenge is to write a daily blog, hence why we are in business providing this service, but once the blog is posted, now what?

What is next in the series in the big bad world of online content promotion?

Do you expect anyone to just find your posting?

Do you think the Google trolls will just choose your content because it is so amazing that no one else has EVER written about that exact topic? (sense some sarcasm…)

No matter how large or small your website is, once you post content whether it be copy or media, you should have a plan of action on how to promote or market your content. Whether it be through directories, links, press releases or emails, unless you have a HUGE subscriber list, we all need some push to get people and search engines to read and view our content.

Social media has been a blessing for content producers because with all the social networks focused on specific niches, it has now allowed promoters to promote their content directly to the audience who may be interested. Through social media, between groups and lists, customizing which piece of content you want to share with a specific group of people has now made it easier than the earlier days of content promotion.

For example, you are a hospitality ezine whose focus is on helping the hotel owner by giving online marketing tips and insights to users online behavior. The challenge is what will make you stand out from the crowd? Are you trying to capture visitors searching for lodging within your city or town? The content should be focused around these answers so you know the audience to target and where to promote.

What are some other techniques you would like to share that you use to promote your content?

Online Content Publishing & Marketing

In the past few months I have been fortunate to work with a few amazing minds in a full time capacity focusing on SEO and online marketing. I guess I never thought of a formal name of what PearlyWrites provides but we do provide online content publishing strategies and solutions for all sized businesses. Not only do we provide this service but add in the 12 years of online marketing and SEO experience and no wonder we can rank our clients websites so strongly in the search engines.

I am also realizing as a business owner I need to be more verbal by sharing the accomplishments we have had. As a person I have always been hidden in a sense that what I do is not shared by me to many people and in the online content creation and publishing world, I DO need to share. I need to share online!

Yes, I have been involved with social media and SEO since 1999 but never overly pushed my name or the business name. Of course PearlyWrites is our branded name on all the social media networks but then I realized when I meet many of my followers in person and we start discussing things they are always surprised with the amount of knowledge and experience I have.

So with all this information I have buried deep inside my brain from 11 years of being in business and working in the online publishing and marketing field, I am going to put my best effort  forward into making it more known the amount of experience PearlyWrites has. When clients increase their revenue by $150K per month from strategies that I created and executed or a client increases their revenue by $50K a year, these are all accomplishments which I am realizing I need to be sharing with others.

Til next time…

Website Design from the Past

WOW! Wow! WOW!

I can’t believe I just found a Website for a brick and mortar business in New Jersey that has the most horrid Website! I mean the Website looks like one of my first attempts at Website building back in the 90’s! Yes, that is how bad this is AND the business caters to high-class, high-end celebrities!

What type of message are you showing to a visitor when your services are costing easily a few hundred up to a few thousand a spa session and then you visit the Website and it’s just horrid! Don’t you want to show how you take the money you are making and put it back into the business to portray your upper class services? Isn’t that the first rule of being a business and having an online presence?

With the branding that Josh Gilmore did for PearlyWrites, everything from our print marketing collateral to our Website is all cleanly designed. When pictures and links are thrown about, it doesn’t help the visitor, no matter how well known you think you are.

Remember you have a few seconds to keep your visitor on your site and direct them with call to action statements and guide them to contact you via phone or email. BUT only a few seconds! I guess from having celebrity pictures all over the pages, visually they are trying to show they have famous clients and I get that BUT the site isn’t optimized or even ranking! Could you imagine what an amazing amount of more potential business could come if this celebrity spa actually got found in the search engines organically?

The copy on the site which is non-existent could be such a great push for this spa. SEO friendly copy targeted for their keywords would be the basics of Organic SEO that they can do. Maybe one day when the celebrity pull seems to slow down business, they will look at their unoptimized, badly designed Website and realize it’s time for an upgrade.

Why Stop Your Marketing?

It is all over the news, the economy is bad. Yes we know thank you for telling us over and over again because we quite didn’t hear it the first, second or thirteenth time. By the way, did you know the economy is bad?

But what does this mean in terms of a businesses marketing budget? As we all know the first budgets to be cut are always the marketing budget. Why? It seems since the new business is far and few between, the all mighty powers that be feel that marketing isn’t too important as the existing customers will stay customers and why bother to try and pick up new customers during a down economy?

The reason to not stop your marketing is when the economy begins to pick up, the first companies or products which are going to be remembered are the ones who didn’t stop their marketing efforts. And (yes I used an And to begin a sentence) there are people and companies who are still making money and not feeling the downside to this economy. They are still spending money and going about their lives as if nothing has changed. Think about this population and target them!

This is why I ask the question, “Why stop your marketing?”

With all the new ways to market your business, why not open your mind up to the endless possibilities. It’s just not about print or radio anymore! Video optimization, content creation, podcasts, webinars, online article marketing, social media marketing and online press release distribution, oh and blogging; don’t forget blogging, are all great tools to use when you want to continue marketing to reach a different or new audience.

So ask yourself should you stop all your marketing efforts? When this economy begins to turn around, think about who will be ahead (competition) of and who will be left behind (you).

Creating an Online Marketing Strategy

Although we began as a freelance writing company turned SEO copywriting which now focuses on developing full online marketing campaigns, it is very important to brainstorm ideas before putting them into action. Whether you have a team you work with or if you are an individual working alone to create a full campaign, we have learned a few tricks which can help you on your way to creating a strong campaign as well as get exposure for your product or service.

1) Decide on how you want to be viewed online. Whether by the Website name, a product name or your individual name. Of course this depends on what you are selling. For example if you are an artist selling original art, most likely you want to create a brand centered around your name.  From your Website domain name to your logo through all the social media networks, this name and brand will be how you stand out from the crowd as well as be recognized from the competition.

2) Decide what type of strategy you want to use in grabbing a visitor’s attention. Do you want your campaign to be focused on “scandal” type headlines or do you want visitors to view your site as a clean, wholesome, family friendly place to visit while online. An example is say you’re a well known pizza chain who wants to target the college scene.

What type of approach would you want to use to grab this particular crowd? We would suggest not only blogging daily but to incorporate social media into your online marketing campaign. Whether on Twitter you give away coupons or free soft drinks to hitting the college crowd on MySpace and Facebook and creating a Fan page where you can post multiple sales for all fans to receive, this is only one idea toward targeting the crowd of your choice.

3) Do you want to target specific locales or target the global population and if so how do you want to approach it? Do you want separate efforts made toward locales as state, cities, basically following the same plan for each but just using targeted keywords and/or sub-domains focused on, for example, West Palm Beach, Florida or generalized areas like Southeast Florida. And then take it one step further to where you not only target a specific locale but then a specific population of consumers ranging from mothers to fathers or singles.

4) Are you a hotel looking to give visitors an option to search points of interests within a certain radius from your hotel like beaches or theme parks? This is another idea when brainstorming for your online marketing campaign. If you are a one building hotel located on the beach in Southeast Florida or a big corporate chain of hotels, mapping out a plan of action for hotel SEO is a highly suggested idea.

5) Free local listing sites is another option. It doesn’t take that long to write up an ad and confirm it. If you have multiple locations and again, looking for local business, listing yourself in the local directory is another easy option.

6) Setting up an analytics program on your Website so you can see where the traffic is coming from as well as measure which online marketing techniques seem to work best for your site is a must! As I repeatly say during our radio show, if you don’t know where your traffic is coming from and don’t know which is converting, then how do you know what techniques are working!

Although you may know many of these techniques, and these are just the beginning, it is always good to remind ourselves that we need a plan of action when approaching an online marketing strategy.Testing and tracking is a must and doing your keyword research of course needs to be incorporated into your strategy decisions.